Author: Green Owl
Title: Photuris: She Will Be Loved
Disclaimer: I don't own or buy/sell/process this mind crack - I just abuse the hell out of it.
Four coppers, sixteen silvers, one hundred platinum credits: the ill-gotten gains of his brief, but unforgettable stint as the nutty little rich girl's man-whore.
Jayne stared at the money laid out on his table, conjurin' all sorts o' ways to make it go away.
Food? Drink? Ammo? Women? T-shirts? Brainpan rehab?
It had been over a week since the Tam girl made him feel all kinds of cheap an' used an' he still hadn't gotten his feet back under him.
Day after day, she slid further and further under his skin, explorin' the ship in those floaty little clothes that tormented him with how much easy access they offered. Night after night, she skipped and tripped through his REMs while he dreamed of all manners o' sexin' her 'til she screamed. No matter how many times he cold-showered 'til he was shiverin', worked out 'til he was burnin', tugged on himself until he was shudderin', she was on his mind.
He'd had anywhere from a half-mast to a full-fledged salute ever since that little quickie in the cargo bay and relief was nowhere in sight because she'd made some sort o' 'bout-face and was gorram ignorin' him!
She slept, woke, ate, wandered around Serenity, all the while takin' no notice of him. No more stealin' from his plate, no more creepin' up on him, no more followin' him around, nothin'. She just went about her business in the common area, plowin' through books and fillin' up her sketchbook.
Once he'd caught himself attemptin' to attract her attention by takin' his shirt off while workin' out as she played jacks in the cargo bay with Kaylee, and that scared the everlovin' go se outta him.
He wanted to come clean to someone, anyone, but who'd believe him? There was no proof he'd been rut-sport for that crazy little girl – her hair had effectively hidden the sex bite he'd given her and a good handwashin' on his part removed any trace of her from his fingers.
Mealtime, so frightenin' for those few weeks, had become outright frustratin'. She'd pass him the bread, the protein, the bean-grind pot, all refined an' respectable as could be, not once indicatin' by word or action that she'd ever had his fingers massagin' one of her sweet spots.
What'd changed since then? What made her desert him like that?
Was she gettin' it on with someone else?
Jayne looked around the dinner table one night, considerin' the possibilities.
Inara did both women and men, an' she an' the girl spent a lotta time together… But Jayne figured the Companion was a little too particular and pricey for moonbrain. An' he'd never seen either of converse with anything other than friendship in their eyes or voices. Still, it was a mighty entertainin' thought…
He looked up, startled as Kaylee's voice penetrated his tasty reflections on Serra-on-Tam sexin' action.
"When you're done salivatin', could you pass the roast beast, please?" Kaylee teased.
He forked some more meat onto his plate, then looked her up and down as he passed the platter.
Kaylee was a free-spirited little thing, sweet to the little girl as ruttin' chokecherry pie, but she wasn't one for messin' 'round with trim. The only female she ever got lubed up over was Serenity. 'Sides which, she's keepin' herself occupied with shakin' 'er headlights at the girl's brother.
Jayne glanced at Simon. Tam girl and her brother? Ewww, that was all kinds o' vile! Jayne had heard o' crazy space incest before, when blood was cooped up in the black for too gorram long and started doin' the deed with each other, but he just couldn't see it with those two. She clings to the prig, yes, but he's payin' court to Kaylee and don't have time to do his sister on the side.
"Jayne, is there too much rosemary in the mashed spuds for your liking?" Book asked.
Jayne looked down at his forkful of speckled carbs and shoved it in his mouth. "Naw, tastes just fine to me, preacher."
"Sorry," Book said. "You made a face and I thought I'd overdone it."
Jayne's considered Book for a moment as the girl's possible sexer-upper. Not gorram likely. There'd been a whole lotta nasty with the Peace-Sheep Dude's flock a long, long time ago on Earth-that-was, but this Shepherd didn't look like any kind o' closet pervert.
"Hey, Book, didn't you once say there was 'no such thing as too much rosemary'?" Wash asked before he loaded up his fork and consumed more of said dish.
Wash – pervert, definitely, but Jayne was on familiar terms with the fact that the pilot's wife made the most o' the man nightly as her personal bedtime stallion. The wall between their bunk and his was not that thick, and Jayne often marveled at how the man managed to function on so little sleep.
"Husband, I am stunned by how well your memory functions," Zoë remarked in her straight-faced fashion.
Zoë? Jayne tried to imagine the warrior woman and the little girl together and that bullet didn't fit the chamber. Kinda like tryin' to imagine the Cap'n humpin' Badger… in the literal sense, o' course.
"But no one's memory's as good as little River's, eh?" Mal said.
The captain…now there was a possibility. Jayne could picture it now: ol' Mal gettin' his knob polished by the girl's sweet little mouth late at night on the bridge while Zoë was exercisin' her conjugal rights on the pilot. He's really the only practical option the girl has, Jayne decided.
The girl in question grinned at Mal, givin' him that smile that made the bridge of her nose crinkle.
Jayne went from semi-hard to rock-solid in less than a second.
Mal winked at the girl and she giggled.
Jayne stifled the sudden urge to elbow Mal in the face.
"You okay there, Jayne?" Mal asked. "You look a little surly. Need us to pass the bread again?"
"Fine, Cap'n," Jayne replied, spearin' more of his meat and spuds. "What's for dessert?"
"River and I made a Tam family specialty this afternoon with apples called a 'cobbler'," Inara volunteered. "It's served with vanilla ice cream and Jayne was kind enough to sell us some from his private food cupboard."
Cheers all around the table, except for Jayne.
Apples. Vanilla. The two scents that reminded him of her. Now that made Jayne's brain ache, possibly worse than John Thomas.
"Not like I had a choice," he grumbled under his breath, shootin' the girl a look. "Ya came in an' grabbed both before I could say yea or nay."
"I did not steal," she said, so softly that only he could hear her. "I left oranges in like payment."
He rolled his eyes. "Already got more than I can eat of 'em. Coin woulda been better."
"I don't…" She shook her head as if she were confused. "I don't require service from you now."
She returned her attention to Mal.
Jayne grimaced as he felt a squeezin' sensation in the general area of his ribcage as she laughed somethin' witty the Cap'n was sayin'. What the hell was that?
She was in the shower.
He could tell it was her because she was singin' to herself – somethin' that sounded all fancy and high-pitched. Her voice was nice and didn't sound like she was strainin' for the notes like Wash did when he crooned his one-man rendition o' "Fan-tan of Ho-Pi-Ri". Nah, girl sounded good, and some of the high notes were ones he recognized from the last time he'd…
River emerged from the bathing room with her long dark hair dripping water into the thick white robe that was wrapped around her. She looked at Jayne and cocked her head to the side.
"Opera is a body of work, a collection of masterpieces," she said, pushing some of her waterlogged hair behind her ear.
The scent of vanilla wafted over to him and Jayne shook his head to clear the air.
"What?" he asked, thankful the crate he was carrying hid his reaction to her.
"Opera," she repeated, nodding with conviction. "Goodbye."
She turned away from him and headed for the passenger quarters.
Jayne directed his attention to his crotch. "Will you quit it!"
"Is there something I should know, Cobb?" Zoë asked him as she placed a crate next to the one he'd just placed on the pyramid.
"Whaddya mean?" he asked, working a crick from his neck.
"When a man starts ordering his gender-defining organ to cease and desist, it's not a good sign," Zoë said, keeping her gaze on his face. "What's wrong? Too long in the black with just your hand? Not enough food at dinner?"
"I'm fine!" Jayne snarled, and went back to stacking.
No, he was not fine, he admitted to himself as the repetition of the task let his mind flow. He wanted to get to the bottom of this feng le state of mind he was sufferin' through, and soon. Preferably before he detonated in an impressive display of bottled lust shaken one time too many.
Later that evening while readin' the latest virtual issue of Racks, Rifles & Revolvers, he heard a tappin' on his hatch.
He rolled out of bed, climbed the ladder and opened his door to find Inara crouching there in one of her bedtime robes, a look of concern on her face.
"Jayne, do you have any di-alpha energy cells?" she whispered urgently.
Jayne made a face. "Whaddya need those pissant things for?"
Inara shook her head. "It doesn't matter. Do you have any? I need them immediately."
He thought for a moment, considering his supplies. "Nope, can't say that I do. I only deal in gammas, deltas and epsilons."
She looked disappointed at his answer. "That's too bad."
"Why di-alpha?" Jayne pressed, suddenly curious. "They for some fancy toy or the like?"
"No, they're for River," Inara replied. "Do you think Kaylee might have some?"
"Pro'ly," Jayne said, shruggin' as he waggled his eyebrows. "She's always usin' somethin' that needs batteries."
"Classy," Inara remarked. "Sorry to disturb you. Good night."
Jayne watched her as she moved across the hall to knock on Kaylee's bunk.
What'd the little girl need with energy cells?
Black shadows were all around as Jayne woke up from a deep sleep.
For a moment he didn't know where he was, and then recognized the comforting sag of his mattress beneath his spine. He was in his own bed and, according to his timepiece, it was well past the witchin' hour.
He didn't know what woke him up, but he knew what he'd been dreamin' of when he'd come 'round. He was rock-solid and tentin' the gorram sheet. Again.
"This has gotta stop!" he muttered to himself as he put his hand under his blankets and addressed the situation. "I'm gonna rub myself raw or die of dehydration one o' these days."
Jayne closed his eyes and once again started the playback of how soft and smooth she felt against him. His breath caught as he recalled how she'd smiled as he pressed her hands against the cold steel wall, how she rolled her backside against his thighs when he touched her.
What would she look like up against a wall with her arms wrapped around his neck, her legs wrapped around his waist? Would her eyes go wide and her lips part when he worked like he wanted to – hard and fast and hot? Would her mouth smell sweet as she moaned his name, feel good as she sucked him off?
He almost jumped outta his skin when he heard the door to his bunk open.
What was it 'bout 'Nara that makes me forget to lock the gorram hatch? he wondered as he rolled over and peered at the shaft of pale light emanating from the overhead entrance.
Jayne allowed himself a smile as he pictured the Companion descendin' the ladder, demandin' he surrender his "virtue" to her superior power.
A pale pair of arched feet and finely-turned ankles came into view and he knew that 'Nara wasn't about to be shimmyin' down those rungs.
"I've had enough o' this!" he hissed, wrappin' a blanket 'round his body and rushin' to the ladder. "Get back to your bed, girl, right gorram now!"
She was eye-to-eye with him, midway 'tween the ceilin' and the floor, dark eyes huge in her pale face.
"No," she said, and reached up a hand to shut the hatch.
Jayne backed away from her cautiously as she climbed the rest of the way down.
"Whaddya doin' here? Said you didn't need no 'service' at dinner," he reminded her with a harsh edge to his tone.
"I said I do not require service," she corrected, her eyes completely lucid as she looked at him.
He knew that look, knew it very well.
"No other reason for ya to be here 'cept to piss me off!" he growled. "Well, ya 'complished that just fine, so get yer skinny lil' ass back to bed!"
She stood there, her long white nightgown covering everything but her arms and feet, and as her eyes moved slowly down his body.
Jayne found himself wishin' he'd worn clothes to bed. If Serenity was expectin' trouble, he bedded down fully-dressed, but things had been so quiet lately that he'd started sleepin' starkers like he usually preferred – he wasn't wearing anything at the moment except the blanket he'd wrapped around his hips. He hitched it up a little higher and tightened his grip on it.
"Whaddya starin' at?"
She didn't answer him as she shrugged the straps of her nightgown off her shoulders.
"No!" he said, whipping the blanket from his body and holding it up so that he couldn't see her and she couldn't see him. "Girl, please, don't do this. It's all kinds of bad an' wrong."
He saw the nightgown puddle at her feet where the blanket ended and he quickly averted his gaze.
"You can't do this to me," he begged. "I'm a man. I got needs. One of 'em is to keep breathin', and if anyone, and I do mean anyone, on this ship finds out you're here an' ya ain't got no clothes on, I'm as good as ass-fix-ee-at'd."
He felt her move closer and he backed up and kept his head down.
"Go find the Cap'n if'n you wanna sex someone," he ordered, "This merc's turned his last trick!"
Out of the corner of his eye he saw the delicate fingers of one of her hands curl around the top of the blanket. She stepped closer.
"I mean it, girl," he threatened in a low, harsh tone. "You take one step closer an' I'm gonna wrap this 'round ya, shove ya into a bag and dump yer skinny little ass in the airlock an' it'll be 'goodbye' to you!"
She gently tugged the top of the blanket down until she could see his face.
"River," she said.
"Her name is River," she repeated.
"I know that! I ain't dense," he retorted. "No why don't ya just make like it an' 'run' away?"
"Her name first," she requested.
Was she outta her gorram mind? "What? No!"
"Why not?" she asked, giving him a gentle smile.
"For starters? It wastes valuable time ya could be in your bed – far, far away from me!"
She cocked her head, her eyes shifting from him to his bunk, and then back to him.
"He doesn't want her far, far away," she said, shaking her head. "He wants her over there, on his bed."
Jayne staggered backwards, the blanket his only protection as she advanced.
"Or against the wall of the cargo bay," she continued, her expression as sweetly childlike as her body wasn't. "Or on the couch of the common room…he wants her on her knees…kissing him here."
She rested her hand on a spot on the blanket below his waist and pressed lightly.
"What makes ya think ya know what I want?" he asked, his eyes wide with fear. By now he'd run out of room and was sandwiched between her and the wall.
"Immovable object, unstoppable force," she said, using her fingertips to trace him. "All is clear after the storm when the showers wash the landscape clean. She is sorry his smile is broken…shall they compromise?"
She held up a sheaf of credits.
He shut his eyes and turned his head to the side.
"What's it gonna take you make you leave?" he asked, his voice hollow with bleak desperation.
"Her name," she answered, her voice full of innocent longing. "She requires her name."
He opened his eyes, focused on a newly acquired gun on his wall, a pretty little Vektor CR-2100 for which he'd haggled with a nasty little pistol peddler the last time he'd been on-world.
"River," he whispered quietly, so tense the cords on his neck stuck out.
She turned her back on him, placed the money on the table next to the rifle and walked over to his bed.
"Ya said you'd leave," he protested, watching her in his peripheral vision as she lay down and slid under the covers.
He peeked over at her and wished he hadn't. She was lying on his bed, naked as the night she jumped into his life, propped up on one arm and using the other to hold the sheet to her body.
"Her name," she repeated, her eyes drilling into his.
"Tien xiao de – I already said it!" he argued, wrapping the coverlet around himself again.
She lifted the sheet in silent invitation.
"No," he said, willing his feet to stay rooted to the floor as he briefly considered making a break for the ladder. "No way!"
Her brow furrowed. "Why does he want to leave when she is here? She offers him money and relief and he refuses. This is not sensible."
"Ya know what?" he asked her. "Yer gorram right this ain't sensible. 'Sensible' would be ya back in yer bunk and me gettin' some shut-eye. I ain't about to get stupid over some underage little girl who treats me like a bit of fancy."
"She treats him like what he is," she explained as she folded the sheet back. "A mercenary."
He barely had enough time to spin around and face the wall.
Gorramit! He now had a visual of her reclinin' in his bed, sheet draped on her hip and all that pretty, pale skin from her navel upwards exposed. No chance of gettin' rid of that image anytime soon, no, sir.
"I'm tryin' ta do the right thing here, girl," he informed her, running a hand through his hair. "Yeah, I'm 'for-hire', but that still don't change the fact that yer too gorram young and I'm good as freeze-dried if they catch me."
"Are there no other objections besides age and discovery?" she asked.
Jayne shook his head in awe. "Asks that like she wants ta know what the weather's like."
"Are there?" she pressed.
"Honestly? No… But that's more'n enough to make it a really, really bad idea."
"She has eighteen years." Her voice carried softly across the room, sendin' shivers down his spine. "She will not let her words interfere with his vital functions."
Jayne turned around and looked at her.
She lay there, almost blendin' into the gloom 'cept for the soft red glow of his timepiece. She was pretty, willing, all kinds of simple wicked, an' he was not gentleman enough to do anythin' near honorable. How could he not want her when she smiled at him like that?
"Why me?" he asked as he walked towards her. "Why'd ya pick me? I'm one o' the bad guys."
She lifted the sheet and he dropped the blanket and slid in next to her.
"Cap'n's a good man."
She lay on her side at one edge of the narrow bunk, he on the other, both of them looking at the other.
"He'd do right by ya, y' know?"
She reached out a hand and ran it down his arm, the tips of her fingers barely brushing his skin.
"Treat ya nice. Talk pretty to ya."
She traced the criss-cross of scars on his forearm, his wrist, the back of his hand.
"I ain't got no redeemin' qualities, girl. Not a one."
She took hold of his hand and brought it between her legs as she shifted onto her back.
Jayne grinned in the darkness as he stroked the smooth, silky skin of her inner thighs.
"'Cept maybe that."
She lifted her head and he slid an arm under her neck, careful not to catch her hair as he gathered her close.
"So now that I'm bought and paid for, why dontcha tell me what ya want," he murmured against the sweet scent of her hair.
"My name," she whispered against his throat as she stroked his chest with one of her impossibly small hands. "I want you to say my name."
Jayne smiled and sighed. "River-girl, yer so gorram demandin'."
"go se" – "crap"
"feng le" – "crazy"
"Tien xiao de" – "Name of all that's sacred"