Author: justslummin

Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Just playin' in Joss' sandbox.

Rating: R

Summary: Just a short look at a moment referenced in "Black Widow" involving Jayne, Inara, and a weight bench. Because badkarma00 and nomad62 asked so nicely.


Inara sat fidgeting, her fingers tapping uncharacteristically on the table top of her vanity. Her mind was weary from the events of the past few days. The treachery of the House Mistress, her subsequent reversal of the Tribunal's harsh decision, and her startlingly rapid demise had left Inara feeling more than a little unsteady emotionally.

Compounding the problem was Inara's certainty that she was missing a vital piece of the puzzle of what had actually happened. Worse yet was her belief that Jayne had something to do with the whole outcome. All gentle attempts at finding out the extent of his involvement had been unsuccessful, and Inara was not used to failing at anything she put her mind to. She gazed into the mirror at her conflicted expression. Suddenly determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, she squared her shoulders, re-touched her flawless makeup, and headed to find Jayne. This time she was convinced that she would not fail, even if it took what Mal would refer to as her 'feminine wiles'.

After checking the galley and Jayne's bunk with no success, Inara walked out onto the catwalk overlooking the cargo bay. She paused for a moment, unconsciously licking her lips as she spied Jayne working with his weights. After admiring her lover's well-defined muscles covered with a fine sheen of sweat silently for a few minutes, she shook herself out of her reverie and very deliberately unbuttoned the first two buttons of her dress, allowing it to fall open enticingly.

Walking gracefully down the stairs, she came to stand at the foot of the weight bench, her skirts barely brushing the hem of Jayne's pants. Jayne glanced at her before carefully setting down the weight bar in his hands. "Hey there, baby doll," he said, sitting up slowly.

Inara smiled prettily. "Hey there, yourself," she said, her tone like the sweetest honey.

Jayne was instantly on alert. He'd watched Inara enough to know when she was intent on something, and she most definitely had that look about her now. Enough to make a man grovel, he thought uneasily, unable to avoid looking longingly at her revealed cleavage. To have something to do with his hands other than maul her right here in the cargo bay, he reached for his towel and began to wipe the sweat from his arms and torso. "What's on your mind?" he said as nonchalantly as his rapid pulse rate would allow.

"You," Inara said simply.

"Uh huh," Jayne replied, willing his treacherous body not to betray him right this very minute. Methodically folding his towel, he reached to put it behind him on the bench. "What about me?"

Inara leaned forward, forcing Jayne to lean back. "Can't I just be thinking about you?" she asked, her breath warm against his cheek.

"Well, you could," he said slowly. "Only I don't think that's the way of it right now. I'm thinkin' you got something in mind that I ain't got a notion of just yet. So if'n you'd be so kind as to tell me, maybe we can get on to somethin' more to my liking." Controlling his face carefully, he sat back up straight, forcing Inara to take a step back. "What are you after?"

Inara flushed under the intensity of his steady gaze. Realizing that her plan of attack was not working out as well as she'd hoped, she decided it was time to change tactics. "I want you to answer me honestly, Jayne."

"Always do," Jayne said.

"No, you don't," Inara answered, letting a little of her agitation show through. "You haven't been honest with me about the House Mistress. I know you had something to do with what happened with her. And I think I deserve to know exactly what that was." She placed her hands on her hips in an unconsciously defiant stance.

Jayne sighed. "Don't see why it matters at this point, Inara. The woman's dead. Ain't no use in beatin' a dead horse, if you get my meaning."

"You're wrong, Jayne. She is dead, but the issue is not."

"Why not?" he asked, genuinely curious.

Inara looked at him with anguished eyes. "Because I need to know if you had anything to do with her death," she whispered.

"She died in a hovercraft accident, Inara. While I was on this boat with you, I might add," he answered quietly.

Inara shook her head. "I know you didn't physically kill her, Jayne," she said. "But that doesn't mean you couldn't have had her killed."

Jayne looked at her with genuine shock. "You think I would do something like that?"

"Would you?" Inara asked in a small voice, almost dreading the answer.

"Look at me, woman," Jayne said, suddenly standing to tower over her. Lifting her chin up so that he could see her eyes, he said, "If'n I want to kill somebody, I'll do it my gorram self. Won't be gettin' somebody else to do my dirty work for me. Dong ma?"

Inara nodded, swallowing thickly. "So it really was an accident?"

Jayne shrugged. "Best as I know, it was," he said. "Though I'm sure she had no lack of enemies that woulda' took her out without losin' too much sleep about it. Woman was a regular cold-hearted pofu. Made me nauseous to be in the same room with her." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he realized his mistake.

Inara pulled away from him. "And just when were you in the same room with her, Jayne?"

Cursing himself to perdition, he scowled at Inara. "Okay, so I went to see her," he admitted. "Thought to talk her outta the spiteful thing she'd done to you."

"Talk her out of it?" Inara asked incredulously.

"Well, I'll admit that weren't exactly my first plan, but River convinced me we could get her to do what we wanted without actually killin' the old bat," he said.

Inara looked at him wide-eyed. "River was with you?"

"Yeah," Jayne said. "Think she was afraid I might decide to settle it with Vera if she didn't come along. Fact of the matter, she did a lot of the talkin'. That's one eerie-ass girl, even if she is a mama now."

Inara blinked rapidly, processing the information Jayne had just given her. "You mean to say that you and River went to the Guild House, had a meeting with the house Mistress, and somehow convinced her to reverse the Tribunal's decision and transfer money into my accounts to pay off the debt I owed?"

"And to retire," Jayne said, grinning proudly at his success.

Inara stared at him. "How?" she asked. "She would never have done such a thing willingly."

"Wouldn't say she did it exactly willing," Jayne said. "But she decided it would be easier to do what we said than to deal with the consequences if she didn't."

"So you threatened her?"

"Course we did," Jayne answered, not ashamed in the slightest. "She threatened you, I threatened her. Simple as that."

Inara sighed. "Jayne, you can't just go threatening anyone who bothers me. We've talked about this before. I can take care of myself. I don't need you to….always be rescuing me."

Jayne looked at her for a long moment, thinking that sometimes women were just too complicated for him to figure. Why his woman would object to his help was beyond him, but as it seemed to be a fact of life, he would have to work around it as best he could. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe I wanted to settle it for me?" he asked.

"For you?" Inara said, puzzled.

"Yeah, for me," Jayne said, warming to his train of thought. "Maybe I didn't like the thought of you being indentured to the Guild for the rest of your life, whilst we paid them everything we made on a job from here to the end of time. Maybe I was afraid you'd take it into your head to earn money some kinda' way that would be dangerous or would take you away from me for a long while. Maybe I'm just selfish enough to want you to be free to come to me without all that worriation hangin' over your head. Did ya' ever think about any of that?" His gaze was relentless. "Just 'cause you can look after yourself don't mean I got to buckle under and tow the line for some Guild go se, best as I can see." He grabbed Inara's elbows, hauling her toward him. "Any more questions?" he asked, his breath hot against her cheek.

Inara gulped, her heart beating wildly in her chest. "No more questions," she answered.

"Good," Jayne growled, capturing her lips with his own. Sitting back down on his bench, he pulled her into his lap. Inara went willingly, heedless of their exposed position in the cargo bay as her world narrowed down to the feel of his lips on her skin and his clever fingers undoing the last of the buttons on her dress.

Impatient to feel skin on skin, Jayne pulled her dress away, tossing it to the floor behind them. Inara followed suit, her nimble fingers working at his belt and the buttons of his pants as he leaned back onto the bench. Quickly disposing of the last of the impediments to their passion, Inara straddled his hips, sliding slowly down his length as Jayne steadied her with his large, strong hands. Gazing into her eyes as she moved over him, Jayne thought that he would do anything in the 'verse to keep this woman with him for as long as she would allow it. Rolling his hips to match the rhythm she set, he watched as her eyelids fluttered closed, her back arching as she began to unravel above him. Shifting to hold her closer, Jayne buried his face in her hair, feeling his own release approaching all too rapidly. Just as the blood began to thunder in his ears, he heard the most unwelcome sound he could have imagined.

"What the diyu do you two think you're doin' in my cargo bay?" Mal called from the catwalk above them. "Don't you know there's youngun's on this boat as could walk in on you at any minute? Best as I recollect you got a shuttle and a bunk you could go to." Stomping off down the catwalk, he muttered something about the images that were now burned into his brain and the sorry state of his crew in general.

Looking mortified enough for both of them, Inara clutched her dress to her chest, trying to regain her composure. Jayne growled, cursing Mal and several generations of his ancestors for ruining what had been a fantasy of his for a long time. "Ain't like I haven't walked in on him and River on the bridge doin' the same," he muttered, pushing his legs into his pants with genuine annoyance.

"I don't think it would be wise to point that out right now," Inara said, buttoning up her dress. "And he's right. Anya or Adam could have walked in just as easily as he did."

When Jayne's scowl did not lessen, she kissed him lightly. "Your bed or mine?" she asked, a saucy look on her face.

Suddenly forgetting his irritation in favor of a much more pleasant emotion, Jayne grinned. "See no reason we can't use both, if time allows," he drawled.

"Now that I seem to be a free woman," Inara answered, "I've got all the time in the 'verse."

"Sounds like it might be just enough," Jayne answered, sweeping her into his arms and carrying her to his bunk.


Author's Note: Hope you enjoyed this brief glimpse at the weight bench scene. FYI: Still working on the new arc with Midnight Obsidian, though the going is slow due to scheduling conflicts. Hopefully, it will be coming along soon. Until then, happy reading and writing!