Smells Like Crotch
Pairing: Mal/Jayne - nothing explicit, although if m/m pairings offend you, or are illegal in your country, please do not read this story.
Disclaimer: This is Joss Whedon's sandbox. I'm just playing!
Spoilers: Set after Heart of Gold. Spoilers for Heart of Gold, 'Serenity: Better Days' (the comic).
Summary: Written for the LJ Shiny Hats Summer Ficathon, prompt #36 - from Ariel - Smells like crotch - Just how does Jayne know what crotch smells like?
Something has been bothering Simon for a while. He can't quite put his finger on it. Something that makes him look a little quizzically at Jayne, from time to time, usually after a glass or two of Kaylee's mid-engine hooch.
When he's sober, he forgets about it. And when he's had a third glass, it simply falls from his mind like most other things, including the Alliance. But not caring for River; no, that never slips away.
Tonight, he's had two glasses. They're out in the Black, headed who-knows-where, probably to get shot at again very soon. And it's a real shame that Nandi died, and he's very sorry that Inara's leaving, because she was the only part of civilization left. Except, that's not true, because here on emSerenity/em, the Captain brings his own brand of civilization to the worlds he visits and the dark in between, and Simon's pretty sure he prefers it to the hypocrisy and state-sanctioned murder of his civilized, Core-bred past.
Inara's leaving, and everyone is sad that this brilliant jewel is slipping away from them. Simon's sad because she's beautiful and kind and elegant and is somewhat his friend, and has been the only uncomplicated physical comfort and release that he's had in years. But he'll be glad when she's gone; the tension between her and the Captain, and the Captain and everyone else, has begun to damage the ties that bind them all to their little world.
So here he is, sitting at the table, raising a glass to Inara's old friend, Nandi. Inara has retired to her shuttle, and Wash and Zoe are in their bunk, and Kaylee has her comfort in the sound of her beloved engines. She could never love him half as much as she loves them, but that's fine, because he also has another claim on his heart. River is... well, she said she was going to bed. She could be there. Perhaps. So he's sitting with Mal and Jayne and Shepherd Book, and they're all raising a glass to the women of the Heart o' Gold. Bigger hearts, most of them, than he would ever have given them credit for, truly.
Then the Shepherd nods and stands and says he's off too, although Simon knows he'll hear praying half the night through the thin walls of the passenger dorms. And there's just him, and Mal, and Jayne.
He's had his second glass, but he hasn't started on his third. He looks at Jayne, quizzically. He opens his mouth. And finally, somewhere in the recesses of his mind, connections get made and the words spill out of his mouth.
"How do you know what crotch smells like, Jayne?"
"Shénme?" Mal asks, staring at Simon as though he's gone mad.
Jayne raises an eyebrow.
"I was just wondering. How Jayne knows what crotch smells like."
Simon ignores the promise of death in Jayne's glare, and continues.
"It's something he said. I cooked. Well, I stirred. And it was... awful. Jayne said it smelled like crotch. And I was wondering how he knew. Because I suppose it did smell. Like crotch, I mean. Only Jayne seems to do his whoring with women, and this was definitely male. The smell. Of crotch."
He trails into silence. The Captain is now staring at Jayne, who is still glaring at Simon, only now the glare promises a long, slow, and above all painful death.
Mal drains his glass, sets it down on the table with care. He reaches for the jug, pours them all a refill of Kaylee's finest brew, and sets it down.
"Either you've had enough, Doc," he says, blue eyes looking sharply at him, assessing his condition, "Or y'ain't had enough. I'm by way of thinkin' it's the latter, my own self."
Jayne relaxes, just a fraction, but it's enough to turn those calculating eyes his way again.
"An' you, Jayne..." the Captain continues in a deceptively lazy tone. "I bet you've a tale to tell ta explain how you know what a man's crotch smells like. I'm minded ta hear it." He lifts his glass, takes a sip, smiles.
Jayne glowers with brows like thunder. "How'd the Doc know, huh? Ever think o' that?"
Simon shrugs, loose in his intoxication. "Doctoring puts you close to all kinds of places you'd never choose. Smell can tell you a lot about what's wrong." He picks up his glass and starts in on it, his third.
Jayne growls, rumbling low in his throat. Simon wishes he knew just how the man does that. He's not sure it's anatomically possible for humans.
"Maybe ya wouldn't choose ta go there," he spits, fist clenching round the mug. "But there's them as do."
"In a sly manner o' speakin'?" Mal asks lightly, carefully careless.
Jayne looks down. Nods. "Yeah."
"How 'bout that, then," Mal smiles, open and honest and handsome. "I was wonderin' if that were the cause."
Jayne glances up, confusion evident on those strong features. "Why?"
"I seem ta recall thinkin' that meal smelled like crotch, too. An' before y'ask, I'd be knowin' that self-same way."
Simon chokes on his hooch, but both pairs of blue eyes are too caught up in each other to pay him any mind. When he can speak, he splutters out, "I... You're right. I haven't had enough to drink. I'll just go and take my drink somewhere else." And he finds his feet, and holds his glass, and lets them lead him out of the galley and away to the quiet bowels of the ship.
Behind him, Mal and Jayne burst out laughing.
"He's so easy!" Mal wipes away a tear, face creased into happy folds.
Jayne pounds the table and snorts.
Their laughter subsides, tension gone, and they sit in comfortable, companionable silence for a while, until Jayne puts a hand over Mal's and says, "Good job I didn't tell him the crotch it smelled like were yers."
Mal nods. "Yeah. Good job. Wanna smell it again?"
Jayne leers. "Shiny."
Shénme - excuse me