Jayne's Pet

Jayne grinned when he saw her.

She was beautiful, with golden hair and her eyes were the deepest blue he'd ever seen. The moment their eyes locked, he could've sworn her mouth twitched up into a smile which only made his heart beat faster and faster.

He ran his tongue over his lips and moved towards her.

He wasn't certain, but he thought he might be in love.

Giggling, with one arm draped around his new 'friend', Jayne stumbled onto Serenity and crashed immediately into Mal.

He gulped.

Mal did not look happy!

"Jayne," Mal warned, piercing the mercenary with a firm stare that made Jayne shiver. "Who's this?"

Jayne glanced around them and then back at Mal. "Who, this?" he said. "This is Demi. She's a whore." He offered him a pleased grin.

"And what is 'Demi' doing on my gorram ship?"

A pause.

Jayne lost his smile and ducked his head. "I want to keep her, Mal. I want her to be my pet."

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"Damnit, Jayne!" Mal exclaimed, eyebrows hitting the ceiling. "You know what I've said about pets. With YoSaffBridge around, we don't need anymore." He nodded towards the cage they'd set up on one side of the cargo bay.

Red hair and icy blue eyes glared back at them.

YoSaffBridge rattled the bars of her cage.

"I know, but…"

"No," Mal said. "The answer is no."

Pouting, Jayne watched as the captain stormed off.

"But Mal! She can cook!"

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"Well," Jayne said quietly. "I guess this is goodbye."

Demi nodded silently, a tear slipping down her cheek.

"Awww. C'mon, now. Don't cry."

Wiping away the tear with one finger, Jayne smiled grimly. "I'll come back an' visit. One day, I'll see if I can't convince Mal to let me keep you."

He pulled Demi to him, hard, and buried his head in her hair.

"I'll miss ya," he half-growled.

"I'll miss ya, too," Demi told him.

The moment she was free of Jayne's arms, she raced off…and dived into the arms of the next stranger she came upon.

Jayne sighed. "Fast one, that."

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Back on the ship, Jayne stared gloomily into his watered down protein. He missed Demi and longed to see her again, to run his hands through her silken locks.

He could feel tears prick at the back of his eyes, but held them in. He couldn't allow his vulnerable side out in the open. Someone was coming.

Kaylee.

"You okay?" the mechanic asked, concern written all over her face.

Jayne shook his head. "Mal won't let me have a pet."

Understanding.

"He wouldn't let me have one either," Kaylee pouted.

They sat in silence for a moment, each pondering what it would be like to finally have the pets of their dreams.

"Hell. I want a pet," Jayne finally said. "And Mal's not gonna stop me from having one!"

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"Jayne?" Mal eyed him cautiously. "What're you grinnin' for? You look like you jus' won the Miss Persephone pageant. Again."

"Nothin'. Jayne smirked and gave a carefree shrug.

Mal studied him.

"If I find out you've smuggled that whore back on, you're getting washing up duty for a month! And there's no way you're leaving the ship, either!"

"You're grounding me?" Jayne once cheerful expression immediately deflated.

Mal nodded once. "If that's what it takes to make you see sense."

"Fine. I'll tell 'er to go."

Jayne pulled himself to his feet and stormed off down the hall.

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"Did it work?" Kaylee asked. She took in the look on his face and her hopes died. "Oh."

"He almost grounded me," Jayne sniffed, "and gave me washing up duty for a month!" He shuddered at the thought.

"Well," Kaylee comforted him. "At least you tried."

Nothing.

"Maybe you could find another pet? A smaller one?"

Jayne nodded.

"Maybe."

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Mal found Jayne in the mess, nursing something small and round in two hands.

"What've you got this time?" he sighed.

Jayne glared at him. "Kaylee."

"Kaylee?"

Confusion.

"Yeah. That's what I called her," Jayne shot back.

Kaylee, who was sitting beside him, beamed.

Simon looked like he was about to cry. "Kaylee gets this. Jayne got a town. I got a stupid hamster," he muttered. "'s not fair."

Ignoring him, Mal walked over and leaned on the table, two hands flat on top of it.

"Show me," he demanded.

Jayne exchanged a look with Kaylee and then opened his hands to reveal…

…a rock.

"Huh."

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Jayne was sitting over the cargo bay with his legs dangling below him and Kaylee, his rock, by his side when Mal found him.

"Jayne," Mal said slowly. "I've been thinkin'.

Jayne continued to look forwards, refusing to meet Mal's eyes. "Yes?"

"You said the whore can cook?"

"Yeah."

Mal ran his tongue over his lips, hoping like hell that this would work.

"Well then. I'll let you keep her on the ship, if you want. On one condition."

Jayne didn't answer, so Mal went on.

"I'll let you have your pet, if you give me your rock."

Holding the rock protectively to his chest, Jayne hurried got up.

"No!" he said quickly. "I'm keepin' Kaylee!"