A/N: Set after OIS.

The continuous rasp of the knife sliding across the whetstone filled the air in the bunk, the relaxing sound making Kaylee's eyelids heavy…within seconds her eyes were completely closed and her breathing slowed into the easy rhythm of sleep. The man sitting on a chair beside the bunk continued the motions of sharpening his knives, glancing over at her occasionally to make sure that she was indeed sleeping. After he had finished testing their edges and buffing them to a shine, he stood and slid all but one back into the rack that was hidden behind a blanket on the other side of the bed. Kaylee shifted restlessly and cried out in her sleep as he lifted a large gun from its place, and he knelt beside her swiftly to place a reassuring hand on her back. She relaxed under his touch immediately and sighed, her dreams moving to less troubling things.

He returned to his seat and began to oil the rifle, blue eyes returning more often to the young woman in his bunk who was rolling over onto her back to get more comfortable -her shirt had ridden up to just underneath her breasts and she was unknowingly displaying more of her skin than he was strictly comfortable with seeing. Jayne stretched out the rifle and hooked the barrel on the blanket bunched around her hips to draw it up to her chin. A small sound had him reaching for another weapon and he whirled to aim up the ladder just as the hatch opened and Mal was there, blinking in surprise at being face to face with the barrels of two guns.

"Gorrammit, Mal – you know better'n that," he hissed, lowering his weapons.

The captain eyed him. "Kaylee here again?"

Jayne motioned over to the bunk. "She's sleepin'. You need her?"

"Jayne, I don't think I need to be telling you that Kaylee's off limits to the likes of you."

"Told you before – ain't nothin' gonna happen. Girl likes to hang around, is all…no harm in that."

The captain eyed him as if thinking of tossing him out the airlock and Jayne glared back. That don't scare me no more, Mal – best get another threat to keep me in line, he thought angrily. Mal's eyes narrowed, but he finally left with a comment about sending Simon to look her over that made Jayne grind his teeth together angrily. Damned pretty-boy doctor was worried that Kaylee was forgettin' to follow him around puppy-like and just had to keep comin' round to make sure she was still interested.

Jayne turned back to his bunk where she was still fast asleep, all cuddled up to his pillow and takin' up a lot more space than he'd ever thought possible for such a tiny girl. 'Ceptin' she weren't no girl and hadn't been for a while – sure, she had some childlike ways to her but he liked that. It riled him that she chased after the doc so, with Tam just ignoring her or makin' her feel bad. If she were his, he'd make gorram sure that he treated her right and loved her proper. But she ain't yours and won't never be so best just think of her as your mei mei and let it be, Jayne Cobb. He reached for another gun and sat back down while he thought of all that had happened to bring her here to his bed.

After the bounty hunter business – he still couldn't believe they hadn't woken him up for it – Kaylee had been mighty nervous and was constantly hangin' around him, not wanting to be alone. The whole crew had noticed that she wasn't sleeping at night, always yawnin' her pretty little head off and telling them that there weren't nothing wrong. Doc had been trying to get her full up of those drugs of his and she wouldn't even tell the Shepherd what was goin' on. He found out by accident, one night when he walked in the kitchen for some coffee before his watch started; she was just sitting at the table cryin' like he'd never seen.

"What's wrong with you, girl?" he asked as he walked on over to her. She'd just flung herself at him and cried her eyes out all over his shirt while he had no choice but to put his arms 'round her for comfort, trying not to enjoy the feeling of finally having her this close.

"J-Jayne?" she'd asked, her voice muffled by his neck. "You think I could maybe stick by you tonight?"

He'd looked at her. "I got watch…and you need to be sleepin', mei mei." He ran his fingers through her hair just to feel what it was like.

"But what if…" she pulled away and he had to stop himself from reaching out to bring her back. "I'm terrible sorry, I'll just go now."

Jayne caught her arm as she tried to stand up. "What's goin' on with you, Kaylee girl? I ain't lettin' go until you tell me," he warned. "Let's take this somewhere else though, I got a job to do."

Her tiny hand slipped trustingly into his and she followed him up to the front of the ship, even sitting on his lap when he dropped into the pilot's chair. She took a deep breath and looked down at her boots as she started to talk.

"Remember when the bounty hunter came on board?" She asked. Kaylee then told him exactly what the man had said and done to her, tears forming in her eyes when she finished. "I was so scared, Jayne. An' every time I try to sleep, he's right there again." She pressed her face into his neck again and he rubbed her back, angry with himself for not waking up in time to protect her.

He placed a finger under her chin and urged her to look up at him. "Listen – I won't let no one else hurt you again, mei mei. That's a promise. You just remember that I'll be keepin' you safe from now on."

Kaylee wiped her nose on the back of her sleeve and kissed his cheek. "I love my Jayne." Snuggling close, she wrapped her arms around him and fell asleep instantly – he held her in his arms until someone else came to take the next watch and, ignoring Zoë's curiosity, carried the tiny mechanic to his quarters where he watched her sleep.

After that first night, she'd been underfoot constantly but he hadn't minded - not since he finally knew why the girl was so skittish. It didn't his ego any harm knowing she felt safest with him, either. When he finished cleaning all his weapons and she still showed no signs of waking up, Jayne yawned and began looking around for the set of clothes he had been forced to wear to bed ever since Kaylee had started invading his space.

"Where are they?" he muttered to himself, lifting the bag she had brought with her to look underneath it. He finally spotted them under the pillow she was squeezing to her chest and sighed, not wanting to wake her to get at them. He was able to inch them out from under her and froze when she murmured in her sleep and rolled over to face him…thankfully she still seemed to be fast asleep, but he lowered his head down to hers just to check, listening for any change in her breathing. No, she was out of it for true.

After giving her another suspicious glance, he pulled off his boots and stripped naked, pulling on the clothes he had liberated from Kaylee's grasp. It looked as if he had a fair chance at actually gettin' some room on the bed, so he stretched out beside her carefully after turning out the lights and crammed a balled up shirt under his head. Then trying not to think of just where he was and who he was sharing sleeping space with, he fell asleep with his back pressed against the gun rack, trying not to touch the one person he wanted more than anything in the 'verse and dreamin' of what could never be.

These days, there was nowhere Kaylee would rather be than with Jayne. After the pure terror of her ordeal with the bounty hunter, he made her feel as if nothing could ever happen to her if he was there. She hadn't been able to make herself talk to anyone about what had happened until he had found her crying that night, and it had just felt…right when he had put his arms around her for comfort. It had felt good. She couldn't explain it if anyone asked her, and they'd certainly tried. Shepherd Book, Mal, Wash, Zoë…even Inara, who was like a sister to her. River, like always, knew all about it. And Simon? She didn't know how to feel about him these days – the bounty hunter was long gone, but she felt safe with Jayne.

It hadn't always been the case, sure…the first time she'd laid eyes on him, he'd scared her half out of her mind, what with his love of firearms and sharp objects. But she had always thought he was mighty swai, even if he tended to let his mouth run and never waited for his brain to catch up with what he was sayin'. He made her laugh and would tease her somethin' awful, but she knew he really didn't mean no harm by it. Jayne's bunk had become her safe haven, and she found herself lookin' forward to going down his ladder more with each passin' day. There was just somethin' so comforting about him, especially when she woke from a bad dream to feel the solid warmth of him right there with her – usually he was the one shakin' her awake, and always cuddled her til she calmed down enough to go back to sleep, wrappin' her up in his strong arms. Who'd have ever guessed that the merc would be the best snuggler on board?

She was findin' herself more than ready to be on closer terms with the big man, but Kaylee didn't have the first clue how to go about it. There was the captain, there was Simon… and then there was the fact that Jayne Cobb was all the things her Pa had warned her about. Kaylee knew she weren't strictly ready for any sexin', what with all Jubal Early had threatened, so just tried her best to ignore the feelings that went through her these days when she looked at Jayne.

Jayne ducked into the engine room to find Kaylee's tail stickin' out the engine as she clanged about with a wrench or some such tool. Wuo de ma, she's got a fine lookin' end, he thought appreciatively, watchin' her rump wiggle. "Hey, I gotta get cleaned up – you okay here by yourself?" he called after backing up to re-enter and make enough noise so he wouldn't scare her. She called out that she was fine, so he turned to leave…he'd wake up Wash for the next watch as soon as he finished.

The ship was all quiet except for the ruckus little Kaylee was making, and even that was drowned out by the runnin' water as he flipped it on to warm up while he shucked off his clothes and dropped 'em down the chute Kaylee had rigged to take their dirty togs straight to the tiny washer they had on board. Jayne stepped into the hot spray and despite having resolved to make it quick, it felt so good that he lingered under the water a bit before reaching a hand out for the towel that….wasn't there?

"Gorrammit, thought I brought a towel up," he sighed. Well, he'd just have to cross the hall naked an' drippin' all over the place…and hope Kaylee wasn't lookin', no matter that if she did look she might be so impressed that he'd finally get a second look. An' pigs might fly, he thought ruefully as he slid the door open.

A quick glance over in the direction of the engine room reassured him that Kaylee was still working, so he crossed the hall quickly. Just as he placed his hand on his bunk hatch to push it open, the lights overhead turned off. What was goin' on? They'd all helped with the wirin' of the lights after… a chill ran down his spine as, one by one, the bunks began to lock. His own locked; and even pressin' the code into the door didn't open it back up.

It could be that their system was just goin' haywire, but somehow… he didn't think so. Movin' as quickly and silently as he could, Jayne slipped off in the direction of the bridge to retrieve one of the guns he kept in the nose of the ship.

The bolt just wasn't comin' loose, and Kaylee swore as the wrench slipped and made her knuckles knock painfully against the engine housing. "Ouch!" She rubbed her sore hand gingerly and transferred the tool to the pocket of her coverall, hearing a sound behind her in the doorway. "Jayne, can you hand me that rag? Don't wanna get grease in the scrape I just put on my knuckes," she said. The rag was held in front of her, and she took it absently. "Thanks." Kaylee cleaned her hands and turned. "Well, I think that's all for tonight, so I-" she broke off in horror as she found herself facing a very familiar man with red body armor.

Jubal Early regarded her pensively. "I do my job well, and am the best at what I do. Yet one little girl who can't stay tied up can get me nearly killed. Does that seem right to you?"

Kaylee screamed.

The sound of her scream went through him like a bone saw, replacing caution with a burning rage – Jayne wrenched open the safe that held a small portion of his armory and picked out the largest two handguns, Annie and Boo. After the smallest bit of hesitation, he pulled out a spare thigh sheath and wrapped it around a leg – Binky would do just fine for this, he thought, and slipped the serrated knife into the sheath securely.

Another sobbing cry from the direction of the engine room had him up and out into the hall immediately. He'd be damned if he let anyone hurt his girl.

Early stalked toward her, and Kaylee shrank back as he pulled a gun from his holster and leveled it at her. "It's a waste of air, screaming…now do as I said. You'll do it anyway, but making a fuss won't help anyone and I have a headache."

Tears running down her cheeks, Kaylee reached for the zipper of her coverall with a shaking hand. "Don't do this…please," she begged. Jayne, where are you? Tien, if'n you're locked down in your bunk I don't know what I'll do…

"I'm not doing anything," Early said with an amused twitch of his lips. "Well, not yet."

Crossing the passageway silently on bare feet, Jayne selected a gun and drew back the hammer, holding the pistol close to his body to muffle the tell-tale clicking-whirr Annie always made when she was bein' primed. The sounds of Kaylee's distressed whimpers went straight to his gut. I'll getcha outta this, girl. Said I'd look out for ya an' reckon I won't let ya down this time or any other if'n I can help it.

Not for the first time, Jayne wished he'd been awake when the business with Jubal Early had been goin' down… least that way, he'd have some some idea what he was up against. Couldn't be anything he couldn't handle, but it was always better to know. Inching towards the other side of the galley, his sharp eyes picked out several objects – a chair, the set of kitchen knives – that he'd be able to use if he got low on ammo. He hoped he wouldn't have to use any of it, even if he only had soft lead as wouldn't pierce the hull.

As he approached the engine room, Jayne moved silently up near the door and what he saw made his blood start to boil. Kaylee's back was to him and she was lowering her coverall past her hips. Under different circumstances, he'd've admired how her skin glowed in the light and how her tattoo was perfectly centered just above her tailbone. But now, he just wanted to get her out of there and somewhere safe while he unleashed hell on the bastard wangbadan who was messin' with her. Coming to a quick decision, Jayne retreated to the galley and after he found a good spot to watch the hall, nudged a pan off its hanger.

She'd just stepped out of the coverall and was trying to figure out a way to delay takin' off her panties when a metallic clang from the direction of the galley made her jump. Early's face tightened as he looked over her shoulder and out the door – could it really be Jayne? Hope made some of the color flood back into her face as the bounty hunter lowered his gun slightly and started past her. Maybe if he left her here, she could figure out some kinda override for the bunk hatches.

Unfortunately, he grabbed her arm to just tow her along and never mind the fact that she wasn't in nothin' but her flower-print unders. His hand shifted to clamp over the back of her neck and he shoved her ahead of him, pressin' the barrel of his gun against the side of her head. "Now, we'll just see what sized mice are scurrying about this time of night, shall we?" he asked pleasantly, like he hadn't just forced her to strip in front of him.

Her eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness and, accustomed as she was to Serenity, she could tell right off that Jayne was somewhere in the galley with them. Some of the chairs were pulled out a bit, and the storage lockers were ajar; the door to the little room off to the side of cold storage was open slightly, and she knew that was where he was hidin'.

"Just let me go," she protested suddenly, tryin' to make him release her just long enough for her to run up to the bridge and put in an override for the bunk hatches. Bridge had a blast door, so as long as Early didn't go for the engine, she could keep Serenity flyin'. "I swear I won't be any trouble."

Jubal Early just tilted his head at her. "Saying, 'I don't think so' just seems like such an understatement. You're not going anywhere."

Well, it had been worth a try. The bounty hunter was just glancing over his shoulder when the door she was lookin' at moved slightly, and the slim barrel of a handgun slid out. Somethin' warned Early of it just as Jayne fired, so that the bullet buried itself in one of the storage lockers.

Swearing to himself, Jayne ducked a return blast from Early's gun and raised his other gun as he burst from the storage room and ducked behind the counter. Kaylee was still tryin' to get free, but the other man wasn't havin' none of it and tightened his grip on the girl mechanic's arm so that she cried out in pain. "Let her go, you mother-humping son of a bitch Tama de hundan!" Jayne yelled.

"You know, it's not polite to talk about one's mother," came the calm reply. Jayne frowned – he'd think gettin' shot at would rile the fellow up at least a bit, and he started to raise up so's he could draw a bead on the man when another blast made him duck back down real quick. Hundan sure is fast…

He picked out another place he could use for cover and tensed his muscles to make a run for it just as he heard Kaylee's gasp of warning – Jayne rolled away and just got his hide singed by another blast. If'n I hadn't moved just now, I'd be dead, he thought. Need to get so I can get a good angle on 'im. "Ain't nice to sneak up on folk, neither," Jayne yelled back. When the bounty hunter started jawin' on about manners, he shoved to his feet and aimed Annie right at the son of a rabbit too zaizi. "Believe I said t' let the girl go."

Kaylee's eyes popped wide at seein' him nekkid, forgettin' she was a stitch away from bein' just the same, and he got his first good look at Jubal Early. Mean lookin' liumang, and that weren't no lie. Early raised his gun again like it didn't matter none that Jayne was aimin' right at his mother-lovin' forehead. "You must be new."

"Naw, just was asleep the last time you snuck on here like a sneaky little…sneak."

Kaylee looked back and forth between the two men as they stared at each other with guns pointin' every which way. Early started to laugh softly and began to squeeze the trigger of his gun – Kaylee threw herself into him, knockin' him off balance to make the shot go wide, then he was yellin' and pushin' her away so that she collided with the table and got the wind knocked from her lungs. She struggled to her feet to see the two men go down on the floor with a crash, rollin' about and tryin' for the advantage – with a wince, she saw that Early was makin' the most of Jayne not being dressed and the merc was gruntin' under the blows to his unprotected skin as he tried to force Early's pistol down and away.

She looked around wildly for some kind of weapon so she could help Jayne, who'd just taken a knee in the gut. The closest thing was the pan that Jayne had knocked down, so she snatched it up and aimed a blow at the back of Early's skull – it only got him a little bit, since he moved and the red body armor took most of the hit. The man turned towards her with a snarl, and she dove for Boo who'd been scattered across the floor to rest right beneath the heatin' unit.

Just as she brought it up, Early yelled out a curse and fell back to the floor and Jayne struggled up from his knees, Binky's blade drippin' blood from where he'd sliced through the back of Early's boots to cut the tendons. "You okay?" Jayne gasped, pressin' one hand against his ribs where the bounty hunter had walloped him with the gun.

Kaylee nodded, not trustin' herself to speak.

Early made a sudden move towards the top of his boot, and Jayne turned quick as a flash with Annie to fire into the bounty hunter's chest – the other man slumped to the deck, pistol in his hand. "Let's get the space trash flushed out," Jayne said in a soft growl. "This time he won't have no air tank to survive on." Kaylee bent to help him get a grip on Early's arms, and together they dragged the man to the airlock.

"Think I should get on up to work on the bunk locks," she said dully. She'd been so far beyond terrified, she wasn't sure what she'd do when it all finally caught up with her. Liftin' Boo up, she started to reverse the gun so Jayne could take her, right as she saw Early move from the corner of her eye. Without thinkin' on it, Kaylee drew back Boo's hammer and aimed in one smooth motion, just like Jayne had shown her how – this time, she nailed the bounty hunter in the forehead and from the mess on the airlock floor there was no doubt that, this time, he was dead for sure. Wode Tian, I just killed somebody.

Boo fell to the floor with a clatter, and Kaylee just stared at the body. "I killed 'im," she said softly, like she couldn't believe it.

Jayne took her by the arm gently and led her back into the ship, where he punched the button for the airlock's inner door to close and the outer one to cycle open. As soon as Early's body was sucked out into the black, he pulled Kaylee close and wrapped her in his arms as she started shiverin'. "You did good, bao bei. You were real brave. C'mon, let's get ya to the galley t' warm up." Lifting her easily, Jayne carried her back through and onto one of the couches as she clung round his neck.

Soon as he set her down, Kaylee buried her face in his chest and then the tears started comin'. Jayne held her on his lap, startin' to remember that Kaylee was the only one even partway dressed but she needed him, so he let her cry herself out and rubbed his hands up and down her back. "I didn't feel too brave," she snuffled against him finally. "Don't like killin' folk, even them that deserve it."

He figured that was part of why he loved her so much – tenderhearted lil' Kaylee got upset if even a teeny fly got squashed on the Mule's windscreen. "I know ya don't, girl." Jayne brought up a hand to stroke her hair just as she raised her head so that their faces were just inches apart, and he swallowed hard as he looked into her eyes.

"Jayne?" she asked softly, lookin' right back at him before lettin' her eyes drop down to his mouth.

He started gettin' even closer, and she could feel his heart hammerin' against his chest. "Kaylee," Jayne breathed back just as soft an instant before his lips touched hers. The frozen lump that had settled in her stomach ever since she'd heard Early's voice soundin' out behind her melted in the growing heat of his kiss. His mouth moved on hers with a sweetness that made her limbs go weak, and she whimpered his name helplessly when they finally parted for air.

Thoughts of goin' to let the others out of their bunks were pushed aside as Kaylee settled her knees on either side of Jayne's thighs, leaning forward for another kiss. She touched her tongue to Jayne's as his arms tightened around her waist, and then both of 'em gave up their playin' at taking it slow. "Aiya, Jayne -touch me," she begged, runnin' her hands over as much of him as she could reach. Jayne obeyed eagerly, slidin' his work-roughened fingers down her skin as he moved his lips to the side of her neck and down before pullin' her head down to his for another hungry kiss.

She arched her back as he licked his way back down her throat, fingers skimmin' up so that his big hands cupped her breasts just as his kisses reached them. "So gorram sweet," Jayne growled, runnin' his tongue over each peaked nipple in turn before lavishing attention on one, then the other, suckin' at her titties and worryin' at 'em with his teeth. "Tianna,girl… wanted you ever since I came aboard." His hands slid lower to curve around her bottom, feelin' her up before pressin' her hips down so that she could feel his big dick da diao thick, hard, and hot against the crotch of her panties. Reaching down, she stroked him eagerly as she returned his kisses, tastin' the salty tang of his sweat. "Don't wanna rush ya, bao bei, but…" Kaylee squeezed his cock jiba, makin' him moan.

Scrambling off his lap and onto the battered old sofa, she shimmied out of her panties and fell back onto her elbows as she beckoned to him shakily. "I'm ready."

Jayne moved up, partin' her nethers and leanin' down to give her a slow, sweet kiss as he dropped his hips and nudged against her core. "Fuck Cáo, Kaylee…!" Bendin' down to slide his arms around her an' holdin' her up, he slid inside her slowly until she was groaning at how her pussy ji bai was stretched round his thick cock. "I ain't hurtin you, am I?" he asked when she threw her head back with her eyes tightly closed.

"No. Oh, no… feels so good," she crooned, lifting her legs to hook 'em over his hips. "Jesu, you feel so good."

Jayne slowly started to move inside her as she grabbed at him, eyes rollin' back in her head as he pulled out and pushed back in carefully. When he was sure he wouldn't hurt her, the sense of pure need for Kaylee rose back up within him and he started to thrust harder. Her whimperin' spurred him on, makin' him say things he'd never told her and hadn't really planned to. "I love you, sweetheart Wo ai ni, bao bei. You're so beautiful Ni hao mei, so ruttin' sexy qíng gan de…you drive me crazy,darling wo qu fa kuang ni, xin gan" he grunted, his head full of her an' only her. "So gorram tight la jin…!"

Kaylee just clung to him and made soft sounds in his ear that was making him damn near insane, and he propped himself up on his forearms to give it to her for all he was worth until she started to buck underneath him. "Jayne…oh, I'm gonna…Jaaaaaayne!" Her blunt little nails dug into his skin as she fell apart, ji bai clampin' down on him tight enough to make the last of his control slip its leash. Jayne groaned her name low and deep as he came, spillin' into her silken heat.

"Dear god in heaven Wo detain a, Kaylee," Jayne gasped, steadying himself so he wouldn't collapse on top of her. "I ain't never had it like that before."

After he'd rolled to one side of her and damn near fell off onto the floor, Kaylee climbed back into his arms with a contented lil' purr that gave him the sense of a job well done. "Me neither." She lay quiet and let him run his fingers through her hair for a bit before takin' a deep breath. "Jayne?"

"…yeah?" He was startin' to remember all he'd babbled to her and didn't really blame her if'n it scared her off him for good. Tien knew he hated it when some whore got it in her head that he wanted to hear lovetalk spouted at him. "Look, 'bout all I said…"

Kaylee's voice was so soft he nearly didn't even hear her. "Didja mean it?"

He cleared his throat. "Which…which part of it are you askin' on?"

"All of it. It weren't just to make me feel better, was it?" She sat up and looked down at him, those beautiful eyes lookin' into his anxiously.

Jayne stared up at her, wishin' he knew how she was gonna take it, but he figured he'd been silent long enough already. "No, I… I reckon I meant all of it. If'n you don't want none of that, I don't got a problem with it or nothin'," he blurted, lying through his teeth.

He opened his mouth to say more about how they could still be friends and all, but she beat him to it. "I love you too Wo ai ni yi ji," Kaylee whispered. "Have for a long spell, I guess." With that, she flung herself at him again and promptly burst into tears again.

"Whoa, baby girl – what's wrong?" he asked, pleasure at her declaration mixin' with a hefty helpin' of startlement.

"Been a busy day for me, dong ma?" Kaylee snuffled into his neck before givin' him a wet kiss. She overbalanced, put out a hand on his stomach to steady herself, and he couldn't help but wince as she pressed right on the spot where Early'd tagged him with his gun. "I'm sorry Shénme!"

"'Salright," he grunted, sittin' up and puttin' a careful hand on his sore ribs. "Don't think he broke nothin', but it'd be best to have Doc check it over – you hurtin' anywhere?"

Kaylee shook her head. "Nah, just a lil' bruised up. Nothin' that won't heal with lotsa kisses," she said a little shyly.

"Be sure to give ya lots, then," he promised, then thought of somethin'. "Aiya, the others're still locked up. Right along with my clothes…" Jayne trailed off when she scampered out the door to come back with a bitty little pink and purple towel from the engine room. "Thanks… I think." It really was awful small.

She pulled on her discarded coverall that she'd brought back and sat down to watch him knot the towel round his waist. "You were really somethin' up there, bao bei."

Jayne reached out to cup the side of her face in his palm. "You too. You were real brave, Kaylee."

She widened her eyes at him. "No, I wasn't. I was so scared, I didn't hardly know what to do."

"Sometimes, that's the biggest kind of brave there is." He took her hand. "Now, we'd best get about lettin' everyone out…no one but Crazy knows what's goin' on, an' they're bound to be wonderin' about the gunfire." Her face fell at the reminder that she'd taken a life, and Jayne pulled her to him in a reassuring hug. "He had it comin', ai ren."

"I know," she said sadly. Jayne figured she'd need some time to get her mind right 'bout it, just like he'd needed to do some thinkin' after he'd made his first kill, but he'd be there to help her through it. "Well, guess we got work to be doin'. What're we gonna tell Mal?" Kaylee asked anxiously.

Jayne settled his arm across her shoulders. "Don't worry 'bout it – we ain't got nothin' to hide… 'ceptin' maybe the fact that we was doin' it on the couch cause he might charge me for a new one."

She giggled and leaned into him, her usual cheery nature comin' back out. Yeah, she'd be just fine.