TITLE: After Party for the Best Job Ever

DISCLAIMER: Joss Whedon, Joss Whedon, Joss Whedon, Amen.

NOTES: This was actually one of my first ever ideas for a fic... I don't know what made me come back to it years later (especially after I stole my own idea for that Spike story), but here it is.

RATING: Call it a hard T.

For a precious moment, the halls of Serenity were filled with a beautiful silence, mirroring that of the stars outside. On a ship that was regularly home to constant flurries of occasionally violent activity, times like these were rare and valuable; like some delicate piece of artwork that had made the long journey all the way from Earth That Was.

It was promptly shattered by the screaming metal screeching sounds of a not-entirely textbook emergency shuttle docking.

"That," Jayne declared loudly as he and the rest of the crew began to file into the ship, "was the kind of job I could use more of."

"It was nice to finally get paid," Zoe agreed.

"Paid and laid," Jayne added with gruff satisfaction, letting out a meaningful stretch.

"My thanks to you for the timely rescue," Book said warmly to Inara.

"I think the credit goes to Wash," Inara replied politely. "I never would have thought a ship this size would have been able to maneuver so well in that small a canyon."

"It was a rare achievement," the Shepherd agreed.

As if on cue, Wash ran down to greet the others and was immediately (and very loudly) welcomed into the celebration.

"Yeah, it's jobs like that that make remember why I started flying in the first place," he said smiled.

Through it all, Kaylee couldn't take his eyes off of Simon. "I never knew you could fight like that," she said, beaming up at him almost worshipfully.

"Neither did I," Simon replied, still honestly baffled as to how it all happened.

"I feel cheated," River muttered, but it went unnoticed amidst all the reverie.

Mal looked at everyone of his crew in turn and shook his head with pride. "It really was one gorram hell of a job," he admitted.

And, once again, everyone let him know they more than concurred.