Author: Green Owl

Title: Photuris: Must Get Out

Disclaimer: I don't own or buy/sell/process this mind crack - I just abuse the hell out of it.

"Attention, crew, this is your Captain speaking."

Malcolm Reynolds' voice came loud an' clear over the intercom as Jayne pressed his fancy striped shirt and trimmed his beard.

"We are about to touch down on Vanadis," the Captain's voice continued. "As a thank-you for bringing our cargo in under schedule and intact for the first time in months, our client has been kind enough to set us up in the lovely Hotel Cheng Hai for the duration of our stay, which will be approximately 24 hours. Please feel free to avail yourselves of a freshwash and the breakfast buffet."

Jayne grinned at the thought of hot water and real food. Things're lookin' up!

"Oh yeah," Mal's voice came back on, "We will need to be back here at precisely 2000 hours tomorrow. Anyone not on board at that time will find themselves lookin' to hitch a ride from someone else. See you all on deck in thirty minutes."

Jayne pulled on his shirt and began buttonin' it, inspectin' his reflection in the mirror.

"Yessiree, gonna get me, a scrub a rub an' some some grub – in that order!"

The hatch to his bunk opened and Jayne sauntered over, hopin' 'gainst hope that his favorite consumer had decided to make a visit for a quickie. He had no idea when she would want him and he was prayin' somethin' fierce that she'd be in the mood to expand her education over the next cycle.

Disappointment was the order of the day as he glanced up and saw Zoe lookin' down at him. "Apologies to your impress-the-ladies shirt, Jayne. Captain needs you to go with him to do a little business in town with our client before he lets you loose on the bordellos."

"What!" Jayne scrambled up the ladder as her face disappeared from view. "Hey! It's yer turn to be mean an' menacin'!"

"I don't give the orders, Jayne, I just carry them out," she pointed out to him. "And it won't do to take it up with the Captain, either. He specifically requested your presence."

"Ain't no reason he'd do that, Zoe," Jayne called. "Captain don't even like me. Why the rut ain't you goin'?"

Zoe stopped and looked over her shoulder, almost, but not quite smiling. "Captain needs menfolk 'round him for the drop-off; seems the client isn't interested in dealing with females. Besides, it's not like you've got anything to do except blow your pay on liquor and 'amiable companionship' while we're here, right?"

Jayne made what he hoped was a laid-back an' manly sort-o'-face and didn't say a word.

"Thought so," Zoe said, and kept walking.

"Vanadis is a pleasure planet," Mal briefed the crew and the passengers as they stood in the cargo bay. "What that means, ladies and gentlemen, is that you are going to be offered a great many opportunities to get into trouble. Keep your hands on your purses, your wits about you and your tempers cool and we won't have any problems. And, yes, that means you, Jayne."

Jayne glowered as he glanced down at his attire and artillery. Due to the change in plans, he had changed into his cargo pants and added his flak jacket. He was visibly packin' Binky, Boo and a sweet little piece of semi-auto steel he called Gloria. With regards to concealed weaponry, he had Lucretia tucked inside his boot and Gladys nestled in next to his pride & joy. "Quicker we get business done, less chance ya have o' me getting' restless."

"Don't worry, Jayne," Mal said in a soothing tone. "We'll be done in plenty of time for you to get in some quality moments with multiple ladies of the evening."

Jayne rolled his eyes, grateful his sundark hid his blush. He looked over at the girl, wonderin' what she was thinkin'.

The girl weren't payin' no attention to him as she fiddled with her brother's jacket, smoothin' it and straightenin' the collar. She finished up with her brother and turned to Kaylee, who'd been watchin' the process.

"You look very nice, Simon," Kaylee commented, her face strangely blank.

"Thanks," he replied cautiously. "You look very…colorful."

Kaylee was all decked out for fun in a floral dress and an embroidered blue-green sateen jacket that clashed pretty badly with each other. Jayne thought she looked just like one o' them bobble-headed geisha playthings they'd been transportin' a month ago, with her hair up in a tight knot an' all that black eye-goop.

But Kaylee didn't respond to Simon's remark; she turned to River and smiled. "And you, you must be pretty tired of those rags by now, missy."

The girl was wearin' the red dress again, that tan crochet-over-thingy she sometimes wore and her black boots. Jayne had entertained some mighty appealin' sexin'-associated thoughts about each one of those items of clothin' at one time or another. Shame to get rid of 'em.

"They continue to serve their purpose," River replied, her face completely impassive.

"Well, first thing we're gonna do is get you some new clothes," Kaylee said, linking her arm through River's before turning to Mal. "'Scuse me, Captain?"

"Yeah, little Kaylee?" Mal said as he held up his coat and inspected it.

"Is it just the crew or everyone that's gettin' the hotel rooms?"

"Just crew," Mal replied, slipping on his coat. "Skelly only gave us four rooms."

"Well, I'd like to share my room with River," she said. "Been a long time since she had a freshwash and I know I always appreciate any chance I get to have one."

"Are you sure that's wise?" Simon asked. "They are going to ask for the ident cards of all people staying in the hotel and she's a fugitive."

"Yeah," Jayne said, adding his two cents, "And don't forget ya gotta tranquilize the girl before ya try ta get yer freak on with the Doc."

Simon blushed. Kaylee shot him a look that would have brained a lesser man. The girl didn't even break a smile.

"That was uncalled for, Jayne," Mal said. "You just earned yourself second shift."

"Aw, Mal!"

"One more word and I'm cancelling your shore leave," Mal cautioned. "And you'd better be back here by midnight or you can find yourself another ship to run with."

Jayne set his jaw and looked down at the floor.

"Zoe's got first shift so we won't be able to enjoy that much of the planet either," Wash said, patting him on the back. "Don't' you worry your pretty little head, Jayne, there'll be plenty of time for whoring later."

"Thanks. I feel so much better," Jayne grumbled sarcastically. "And just why does everyone think I'm in such a gorram hurry to get to the cathouse?"

Wash just stared at him. "Gee, I dunno? Maybe it was your ungodly enthusiasm to help out at the Heart of Gold once you found out what they dealt in?"

"Shaddap!" Jayne muttered. He looked up into the girl's eyes.

She wasn't smilin', at him or at anyone else. She just had that faraway look in her eyes, like when she was about to go off on her "two by two" go se. He wondered what was going on with her.

"Doc, Wash, don't you both look pretty," Mal said, taking then both aside as Zoe opened the cargo bay doors and lowered the ramp. "You got your sidearms with you?"

Wash displayed the minute pistol he'd tucked into his belt and Simon pulled up the front of his jacket to reveal the mid-sized Glokker he'd hidden there.

"Excellent," Mal said. "Now we're going to meet up with Skelly for a drink or six, make the drop, and pick up our next instructions."

"Why're these two goin' with us?" Jayne demanded.

Mal snorted. "You object to safety in numbers?"

"No," Jayne grumbled. "But more people just means more talkin'."

"And less time for fornicating?" Simon inquired. He turned to Wash. "Do you think I should bring my bag? The prostitutes might need medical attention with the state he's in."

Jayne stroked Boo. "You wanna go, swank?"

"My piece is reserved for use within my own species," Simon shot back smoothly.

"Sure ya still got one?" Jayne snarked. "Surprised yer cod ain't shriveled up by now with all the stimulation ya ain't been gettin'."

"I'm surprised yours hasn't fallen off from such fanatical devotion to abusing it," Simon replied in an icy tone.

If you only knew the reality, Jayne thought as he folded his arms and smirked.

Simon folded his arms as well and arched an eyebrow.

Jayne growled and let one hand drop to rest on Boo.

Simon sneered as he reached for his gun.

Kaylee rolled her eyes. "Sheng fu!"

Mal stepped in between them and put his arms up. "Boys, please, for the love of Buddha put 'em away! Don't you see there are ladies present?"

"Damn straight," Zoe observed dryly, kissing Wash on the cheek as she passed them and headed for the stairs. "Baby, would you let me know if Jayne ever starts behaving himself? I've always wanted to know what it's like to drop dead of shock."

"Will do, honey," Wash replied, throwing a wry look towards the hired muscle / walking arsenal.

"Ready to go?" Mal asked, "Or do we need to have another pissing match first to determine who the biggest and the baddest?"

"I need a minute to get my bag," Simon said. "No telling what kind of chaos and disorder we're in for."

Jayne huffed as he looked over at the girl for the third time.

Arm-in-arm with Kaylee, she threw a forlorn little look over her shoulder and wiggled her fingers in his direction as she walked down the ramp.

"Good-bye," she said in a distant voice.

Jayne sighed. Good-bye, indeed.

Things were not lookin' up at all.

"What kind of establishment is this?" Simon asked as he looked around at all the unsavory characters in the green-light cantina that Mal had brought them to that evening.

"It's a tuo ghang ju, what's commonly known as a 'strip club'," Mal replied as he removed his hat and lead the way through the dim interior of the establishment. "People come here to get severely intoxicated, to look at semi-naked women, and perhaps engage in all manner of illicit activities before the night is through – "

" – Obviously Cobb's kind of place – " Simon interjected as he watched Jayne eyeball the women who were dancing on stage.

" – However, we are here to conduct business," Mal finished in a deadpan.

"Oh, it's been a long, long time," Wash said, looping an arm around Mal. "Thank you, thank you, sir, for reminding me why I got married in the first place."

Mal inclined his head towards Wash, all mock-seriousness. "And that is…"

Wash placed a hand over his heart. "To escape the evil clutches of these money-grubbing, tarted-up Jezebels, what else?"

"They got tarts here?" Jayne asked, sniffin' the air for a whiff of pastry. "I'm pow'rful hungry."

"You and your stomach," Wash commented disdainfully. "One of these days, Captain, this ogre will eat us out of craft and quarters."

"When that day comes, we'll just have to tighten our belts and pray we make it to the next refueling station without turning donner." Mal grinned at Jayne as they all slid into the booth.

"I've never been in one of these," Simon divulged as he looked around, turning away quickly when he saw a pair of naked breasts.

"Yer sayin' ya ain't popped yer chokecherry yet, Doc?" Jayne mocked, nodding towards the women.

Simon shot him a nasty look.

A few minutes later, a server brought them a round of drinks and Jayne felt himself relaxin' for the first time in a good long while.

"Don't you ever get tired of looking at nude females, Jayne?" Wash asked.

"A wise ol' philosopher once said, 'ya seen one woman nekkid…ya wanna see the rest o' 'em nekkid'," Jayne drawled, seemingly enjoyin' the view.

"Malcolm Reynolds," drawled a harsh voice. "Right on time, as un-usual."

A long, wiry man dressed in black slid into the circular booth next to Wash as his two huge League Mercs took up position behind him. He was elegantly groomed, lean of face and form and sporting a pair of slash scars on his left cheek. He gave off major pulses of serpent lube salesman and candid bandit, and proudly wore a Buhnder strapped to his sinewy thigh.

Superior firepower, exceptional taste. Jayne liked him immediately.

"Celtic Core Bomb, bao bei," he requested of the server in a Reesho accent before he turned his attention to Mal. "Glad ye could make it, Reynolds."

"Travit Finnegast Skelly," Mal acknowledged. "How nice of you to come in person."

Skelly tipped back his hat as he made himself comfortable. "Got me goods?"

Mal passed a key across the table to him. "This will unlock a warehouse next door we rented for a week. Cargo's in there."

"Superb," Skelly said, tossing the key to one of his henchman. "See about that will ye, me blood?"

Both of the huge men nodded and left.

Skelly turned back to the table. "So who are these bright boy-o's ye brought with ye, Captain?"

"This," Mal said, putting an arm around Wash, "Is Hoban Washburne, the only pilot to make a dead-engine docking on a skyplex in the history of cargo runs. There are some who call him the Ptero of the Skies, but we just call him Wash."

"Uh...hello, Mr. Skelly," Wash said, waving a hand and smiling nervously.

Skelly inclined his head and turned his attention to Jayne. "And this fine specimen of manhood?"

"Jayne Cobb, man with arms – lots o' them – and our Minister of Public Relations," Mal bantered.

"How do, Mr. Skelly?" Jayne asked, likin' the man even more when he pulled out a box o' chibigars and offered 'em to the table.

Jayne took one, just to be sociable, o' course.

"I do fine, Mr. Cobb," Skelly replied, lighting up. "What's yer favorite piece, sir?"

Man speaks my lingo and he's got good taste in taback, Jayne acknowledge as he leaned back, runnin' the chibigar under his nose. "Most people don't argue with the business-end of my Callahan full-bore autolock."

"This is a place fer pleasure, Mr. Cobb, not business," Skelly observed, taking a long drag. "So what be yer pleasure when it comes to the lethal ladies?"

"At the moment, Glokker 21 pistol with a high capacity magazine," Jayne said, displayin' Gloria like a proud daddy as he clipped the chibigar.

"Exquisite," Skelly, plainly admiring the weapon positioned under Jayne's belt.

Jayne preened and took a long swill of his drink.

"And this stunning young man?" Skelly asked, eyeing Simon.

"That would be our resident drama-trauma queen and oft-times-sawbones, Simon…Mattingly," Mal said, tossing the last of his drink back.

"May I buy ye a drink, Mr. Mattingly?" Skelly asked, giving Simon a shamelessly debauched look.

Jayne's mouth twisted with amusement at the bewildered glance Simon shot Mal.

Mal, ever helpful, nodded and grinned at Simon, encouraging him as Wash tried to stifle his chuckles.

"Um…yes?" Simon replied.

"Excellent," Skelly declared. "Have you ever had a Celtic Core Bomb?"

What a night.

Here he was, in a nightclub with nekkid women, nice hotel room waitin' for him with world water, and 24-hour room service. Can't get much better than this…so why do I feel like a piece of three-week-old go se?

Jayne looked up at the women and found them strangely off-puttin'. Hell, he loved breasts like any female-inclined person, but lookin' at them at that moment didn't have the same charge as they normally did. All the sets currently on display just didn't have the right kinda perk to them, and there was somethin' missin' in the expressions on the women's faces.

He shook his head to clear it and downed another mouthful of bourbon and kolka. He glanced over at Doc Tam and saw that the man was plain refusin' to relax.

"What's eatin' you, Doc?" Jayne asked as Mal and Skelly talked business. "Worried about yer sister?"

Simon nodded. "She told me she'd be fine tonight. That she had what she needed and I shouldn't worry. But I checked her battery supply and I know she's runnin' low."

"She's locked up tight in that hotel room, right?" Jayne prompted. "Can't escape, can she?"

"Yes, she's locked up. Got the key-knob right here," Simon said, patting his coat pocket.

"Then stop getting' yer unders in a coil," Jayne said, elbowin' the doctor. "Those windows don't open, the showers ain't deep enough to drown in, and they ain't got no sharp objects in those rooms. I know. I checked."

Simon smiled feebly and tasted the liquor. "This is very good."

God'lmighty, fin'ly found somethin' alcoholic that the rich boy likes, Jayne thought as he lit the chibigar.

Within twenty minutes, Simon Tam was drunk.

No, scratch that, Jayne thought, looking over the doctor as Skelly did his best to sugar-sing the man into his lovin' arms.

Simon Tam was ruttin' polluted.

"I can't talk to girls," Simon divulged, leaning in so close that Jayne thought he'd get drunk off the doctor's fumes. "Never been able to. They don't make any sense."

"I comprehend yer situation entirely," Skelly said. "By the way, ye have beautiful eyes, Mr. Mattingly."

"Thanks," Simon said clearly enunciating the word as he almost tipped over. "I get them from my huài dàn of a Y-chromosome donor."

Jayne hastily corrected the doctor's bearin', proppin' him up against the booth wall. Simon started to slide the other way and Jayne caught him just in time and readjusted him before he could pitch straight into Skelly's lap.

"Well, it's been mighty entertainin', but I've gotta date with our next clients," Mal said, rising unsteadily to his feet.

"And I've gotta date with my wife," Wash said, also getting out of the booth.

"An' accordin' to everyone an' their gorram aunties, I gotta date with the entire ruttin' population of Whorehouse Row," Jayne said, movin' to follow them.

"No, Jayne, stay," Mal said, waving Jayne back into his seat.

"Yes, stay," Wash said, slurring his words and giggling a bit. "Stay, Jayne, stay. Sit!"

Skelly looked Jayne up and down and beamed. "Please, do stay."

"Seems like ya already got some quality company," Jayne said, looking at Simon.

"This is an exceptional potable, Mr. Skelly," Simon noted, tossing back more of the drink.

"Please, call me Travit," Skelly said, leaning in towards Simon.

"So nice to meet a man of discriminating taste," Simon expressed as he took another swallow.

"In more ways than one," Skelly replied, looking at Simon intently.

"Mal," Jayne whispered, grabbin' the Cap'n sleeve an' tuggin' him down, "I gotta get outta here! Don't leave me alone to view this space wreck of a wooin'!"

"Shhh!" Mal said, putting his finger to his lips. "You'll spoil the mood!"

"This ain't right, Mal!" Jayne hissed. "This is a plan for catastrophe. What if Doc spills the beans in the heat o' passion?"

"Why, Jayne, how poetical of you," Mal exclaimed. He stepped back and considered his words for a moment. "And that's our cue to beat a hasty retreat!"

"Don't you dare leave me here! You two owe me after Niska's skyplex!" Jayne hissed, grittin' his teeth as Mal slipped out and Wash followed close on his heels.

"The only girl that ever made any kind of sense is my sister," Simon droned on, his words becoming more and more enunciated as he turned his head slowly this way and that. "Except that she is crazy. Certifiably in-sane."

"Truly?" Skelly asked, his eyes glazing with boredom. More than an hour had passed with no developments of an interesting nature for anyone at the table. "How very fascinating."

"Bonkers," Simon added, and hiccupped. "Nuts."

"Can't argue with ya there," Jayne said, clappin' a hand on Simon's shoulder. "Girl needs professional help."

"I am professional help," Simon said, gesturing to himself. "I'm a doctor. Trauma surgeon. Top three percent of my class. Smart. Very."

"Definitely not just a pretty face," Skelly muttered, elevating his eyebrows.

"And I gave it all up. Can you believe it? And Captain Reynolds lets her out before she's ready and now I've got a premature adult baby sister."

Skelly shook his head. "Oh, the humanity!"

"Gorram shame," Jayne agreed, lookin' for a way out, any way out.

"Did you know that when I turn my head, the room takes awhile to catch up?" Simon declared. "Strangest thing. I do believe I am…inebriated."

"Fancy that," Skelly drawled. "Would ye like another?"

"Ab-so-lute-ly," Simon replied. "And one for Jayne as well."

Jayne hunched over in his seat, puffin' on his chibigar and tryin' to figure a way outta the mess before somethin' untoward happened.

"Excuse me, Mr. Skelly, but I believe it's time to drag our medic back to his bunk."

Jayne had never been so happy to see a human bein' in all his years as he was to see Wash.

"I'm drunk," Simon announced to Jayne and Wash as they guided him out of the club.

"We know," Wash said. "Your breath is strong enough to fell a mule. Oh, by the way, Jayne, you're welcome for me coming to rescue you and I really, really need to get back to my date. Zoe let me out to defend Simon's honor, but she's not one to save me any dessert if I'm late."

"Thanks for comin' to help," Jayne muttered as they hefted Simon forward between the two of them. "Debt's repaid now."

"Thank God!" Wash said, struggling to keep Simon upright.

"Good stuff!" Simon said. "Like I was saying, I need professional help. Do you know where I can find some?"

Jayne was downright perplexed by the question. "You crazy, too, Doc?"

"No, I'm drunk," Simon replied. "Horny, too."

Wash almost did a spit-take. "You're what?"

"Horny. In need of healing of a distinctly sex-u-al nature," Simon clarified as he looked up at all the pretty glowlights of the city sky. "Just where are the sporting houses around here?"

"You sure you want to go there?" Wash asked. "There's bad music in that section of town."

"Of course!" Simon said. "And for your information, I am fully functional, including my so-called 'man parts'. I have money, I'm drunk and I wish to purchase the services of a soiled dove."

"A what?"

Simon pronounced each word slowly and clearly. "Soiled. Dove. Prostitute. Ji nu."

"Um, wouldn't Kaylee think that a little insulting?" Wash speculated.

"No. She hates me. Hates me." Simon shook his head. "We were talking before we landed here and I told her that I was engaged to be married to a girl from Sihnon once, before the Academy messed with River's head. Girl was everything a man of my stature looked for in woman – well-bred, elegant, refined, rich. Kaylee just walked away. Pretty feet on pretty legs on the catwalk, no smiles. I can be such a boob…ooh, the city's spinning."

"We need to get him somewhere that he can safely sleep it off," Wash said as they struggled along the street and tried not to attract the attention of the authorities.

"I got me an idea," Jayne said, his eyes lightin' up.

"Why are the hairs on the back of my neck rising?" Wash asked, eyeing Jayne.

Jayne shrugged. "'Cause it's cold outside?"

After two wrong turns in the maze of hallways, Jayne finally found the correct door and knocked.

"You're not Kaylee." Her voice sounded small and distant.

Jayne scratched the bridge of his nose, wonderin' for the seventy-seventh time if this was a good idea. "No, girl, I sure ain't Kaylee."

"Why are you here?" Her voice came calmly from the other side of the door. "You're supposed to be oiling the town with the other unattached, non-clerical men."

"Gotta lil' sidetracked," he answered, leanin' against the doorjamb and fumblin' for the key.

"Where's my brother?" Her voice was a little less calm.

Jayne grinned as he placed the key-knob against the door. "He gotta lil' sidetracked, too."

She flung open the door before he had a chance to turn the knob. "Where is he? Is he hurt?"

She was drenched in perspiration. Tendrils of her dark hair were plastered against her face and her nightgown was soaked to the skin.

"Are you? Jesus, girl, what happened?" he demanded, pushin' his way into the room and lookin' her over as he tossed a bag of batteries onto the dresser.

Her eyes were the only forthcomin' source with regards to information. She looked plain scared, the light in those black coffee pools o' hers beggin' him for some kinda assistance. At that moment, she seemed to him a little less frightenin' than frightened.

"Needles," she said softly.

"Where?" he demanded, shuckin' his flak jacket. "You hurt yerself?"

"No, figure eight patterns in the limbic system," she said, moving to the window, scratching at her skin as she pushed aside the translucent drape. "So close, sometimes I can touch it."

"What is?"

"The jade sun," she said, sinking slowly against the window frame. "Don't know if I'm Daedalus or Icarus. Wax melts at forty-five degrees Centigrade, which is times nine, divided five and you get 113 degrees Farenheit 454 is approximately the number of grams in a pound of flesh and bone buffers the blood against excessive pH changes by absorbing or releasing alkaline salts. Did you know that? Simon knows that. Simon doesn't know a lot, but he knows that."

He carefully stepped towards her as she rambled on through another o' her funny little speeches until he was standin' right in front of her.

She looked up at him from her huddle on the floor. "What's wrong with me?"

Jayne hunkered down next to her and brushed a few strands of lank hair from her face. "Don't rightly know. Brother picked out some batteries for me to bring to ya though – thought it might help."

"No he didn't," she said, looking away from him to gaze out at the spray of pale blue lights washing the city in a filmy azure glow.

He rocked back on his heels. "He didn't?"

"No." She turned her face back to him. "You chose."

She hung her head, but not before he saw a tear slide down her cheek.

Jayne felt somethin' hard in the vicinity o' his chest softenin' up a bit, like one o' his Ma's muzzleloader biscuits goin' spongy when it was dropped into milk.

"Come on, girl," he said, gatherin' her up in his arms. "Let's get you cleaned up."

She didn't weigh hardly nothin' as she clung to him, shiverin' in his arms as he carried her to the bathroom.

"I'm sorry," she said, resting her head on his shoulder as he maneuvered her through the door. "I am not ready for vaginal intercourse at the moment."

"Yeah, I reckoned as much," he said. He lowered her gently to the floor before he opened the shower door and turned on the water.

"This is precious time you are spending with me. You don't have to stay. You could be off whoring," she said softly, her tone giving no indication that she in any way thought ill of him for it.

"Time's my own to do wi' as I please," Jayne said as he held his hand under the water to check the temperature.

The hotel shower was very large, and Jayne had no trouble helpin' her outta her nightgown and unders and assistin' her under the spray.

She tried to stand up, but she all she could do was sag, boneless and limp, against his chest.

"Oh no…you took such care to look nice," she said as she noticed the water saturating his shirt.

"No use cryin' over spilled Mudder's milk," Jayne muttered as he helped her to sit down on the tiled floor. "When's Kaylee comin' back?"

Her smile was faint. "She's already been shopping, but she'll be gone for a long, long time. Dancing 'til dawn."

"Mind if I join ya in there? It'll be easier to help ya get clean."

She beckoned him with a lethargic gesture and a weary smile.

Jayne stripped off his dress shirt and t-shirt, his guns, his knives, his boots, socks, pants and unders. He laid the weapons laid out on the counter, tossed the clothing into a corner and stepped into the stall with her.

He lifted her up, positioned her until she was sittin' between his legs and leaned her back against his chest. Then he reached for the cleanser and embarked on the mission of gettin' her clean.

She put her arms up and rested her hands on his bent knees as he washed her hair. "Mmmm…pleasant."

It was for him, too. Her hair was marvelously silky and he took care to massage her scalp with a gentle touch, rememberin' it had the tendency to be sensitive. He ran his hands over the dark inky locks several times to get all the suds out an' she helped by tiltin' her head this way and that.

Jayne moved on to her body, latherin' her neck, her shoulders, her arms – all safe, chaste places that he had no problem touchin' in an impersonal manner. He was a little unsure of what to do about the front o' her, but she solved that issue for him by wordlessly bringin' his hands to her breasts.

He panicked for a moment, experiencin' a twinge o' that filthy-guilty feelin' as he found himself gettin' all kinds o' excited by the soft purrin' sounds she made as he soaped her soft parts. And it got more than a lil' dangerous for a moment when she pressed her bottom against a part of him that was desperate to be introduced to one o' the warm, wet places in her body he might hafta wash later on...

None o' that now. Don't do to take advantage of her while she's in this condition. Girl might sometimes behave like a comprehensively depraved nutcase, coercin' him into supplyin' her with her sexin' requirements, but right now she was just a scared little lady in need o' some solace.

I can be patient…I can wait, he told himself as he lifted one of her arms and then the other behind his neck so the water could rinse her clean, but he was hard pressed, pretendin' not to hear the hushed sound o' frustration she made when he moved on to less sensitive areas.

He cleaned her back and smiled to himself as she lolled against his knees, huggin' his calves while he rubbed the kinks outta her muscles.

Again she impressed him with her flexibility as she leaned back against his chest again and lifted her legs straight in the air, one at a time, for him to knead them with his soapy hands. She even managed a series of fatigued giggles as he got the spaces behind her knees and between her toes.

Eventually he'd washed everythin' except for that certain location that he'd spent the better part of a few months gettin' intimately acquainted with.

Jayne hesitated, uncertain of what she wanted him to do.

She didn't say a word, just took his hand and guided it between her legs as she leaned her head on his shoulder.

While he cleaned her there – lightly, delicately, as if she was one of his favorite guns in need of some tender, lovin' care – he told himself over an' over that he was maintainin' a respectful distance, he was behavin' properly, he was doin' the right thing.

But when he was ready to take away his hand, she placed her own atop his and pressed gently.

"You sure, darlin'?" he whispered.

She nodded, nestling into him as she restored his other hand to one of her frontal curves.

He let his eyes drift shut, let his body curl around hers, let his head drop to rest against her hair and did as she asked.

Jayne was a man who was used to living life through his senses, but he felt inundated by the multitude of textures he came 'cross as he touched her – the soaked silk of her hair drippin' down his chest, the sweet cushion o' her lips curvin' 'gainst his arm, the smooth expanse o' her stomach flutterin' 'gainst his wrist, all those parts that made her woman to his man puckerin' an' swellin' 'gainst his fingers – all brand new, and at the same time, completely familiar as he learned what it was like to guide her through the movements in slow motion.

"That good for ya, River-girl?" he asked her, nibblin' on her earlobe as he stroked her.

She responded by arching her back and moaning as she pressed herself against his hands.

He took the opportunity to nip at the skin of her shoulder before applyin' a bit o' pressure to the very responsive parts of her body that were demandin' his attention.

She made a low crooning sound and shuddered in his arms.

He nuzzled her neck, breathin' slow and deep as he felt her come undone. It was just as blisterin', just as breathtakin' as all o' the former occasions, but it happened in such a soothin', peaceful way that he wondered why they'd never tried it like that before.

He waited until her pantin' had returned to simple inhale-exhale an' she'd eased back into the shelter of his body before holdin' her close and pressin' his lips 'gainst her hair.

"How ya feelin' now?" he asked, raisin' a hand to turn off the shower.

"Glad that you're here," she whispered, raising a hand to touch his cheek.

"Me, too, darlin'. Me too." Jayne smiled as he carefully slid her hair through his fist, drawin' the water out o' it as much as he could. "Think you can hold still while I dry ya off?"

She closed her eyes and nodded.

He grabbed a towel from the stack next to the shower, shook out the fancy folds and wrapped it around her body. He took another and started on her hair.

She leaned into him as his big hands made swift work of drying her body.

"That feels so nice," she murmured. "Would you…would you comb my hair?"

"Sure thing, can do," Jayne said, gatherin' her up in his arms again and carryin' her to her bed.

He laid her down and got another towel to dry himself with. No use in makin' the sheets soggy. He dried off before he put his clothes back on and re-armed himself.

"You got 'nother nightgown?" he asked, finishin' tiein' the laces on his boots.

"Dresser," she replied, indicating the row of drawers against the wall.

He went diggin' through one o' the sets of drawers and grinned to himself. Little Kaylee got herself quite the collection o' new sex toys.

"No, the bag," she said, indicating the small case on top of the dresser. "Comb's in there, too."

"Oh, sorry," he said, slidin' the drawer shut.

Jayne pulled out an oversized t-shirt and a pair of white unders from her overnight bag and helped her into them. He then located her comb and carefully untangled her long hair until it flowed in smooth skeins of dark shade over her pillow. Finally, he slid her under the sheets and tucked them in 'round her.

"How much for all this special attention?" she asked as he smoothed her brow.

"No charge this time," he said, smilin' down at her. "We'll call it fair exchange if'n ya do the same for me when I need it."

"Deal. And you will," she said, rolling onto her side and rearranging her pillow under her head. Her eyes were cloudless as she focused on his face, reached up to touch his lips with her fingertips. "You don't…I was... wondering…"

"What were ya wonderin', River-girl?" he asked, cuppin' her face and strokin' his thumb across her cheekbone.

She smiled shyly as slumber began to claim her. "Copper for a kiss…goodnight?"

Jayne leaned down and pressed a tender kiss to her forehead. "Night, darlin'."

"Yes…goodnight, not goodbye," she mumbled, her eyes drifting shut as he stood up and retrieved his jacket.

As he closed the door behind him, he looked at his timepiece. It was twenty minutes to midnight and there weren't no way he'd be able to visit a sportin' house and get back to the ship on time.

No big loss, he thought, lookin' at the door as he retrieved the key and pocketed it.

He made it all the way to the elevators before he stopped an' stood stock-still in the hallway.

What the hell is happenin' to me? Since when have I ever turned down money or sexin'?

Jayne did a quick appraisal o' his appetites. Zoe claimed she could set the ship's chronos by his needs for food, flesh bliss and funds, but he didn't feel cravin' for much besides a dish of saucy noodles.

"Don't make no sense…" He shook his head as he pressed the button to call the car. "Little crazy must be rubbin' off on me."

"go se" – "crap"

"Sheng fu!" – "Holy God!"

"tuo ghang ju" – "strip club"

"bao bei" – "sweetheart"

"huài dàn" – "bastard"

"ji nu" – "hooker"

Quote: Ron White, Blue Collar Comedy Tour