Title: Greenleaf, a.k.a. The Rocky Road to D(o)ublin'
Author: Green Owl
Rating: PG
Word Count: 2,800
Challenge: "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" (St. Patrick's Day, 2008)
Summary: "A Browncoat, a Merc and a Reader walk into a bar..."

Disclaimer: I don't own or buy/sell/process this mind crack - I just abuse the hell out of it.


"Ouch!"

"Hee-hee!"

"Hey now, I already told ya – quit it!"

"What's goin' on back there?" Mal asked, looking over his shoulder at his rambunctious pair of bodyguards.

River's eyes were wide and childlike. "The mercenary is not attired in any shade existing flanked by 520 and 570 nanometres on the wavelength spectrum, Captain-Daddy; ergo, his posterior is straightforward sport for discipline via digits."

Mal's eyes almost crossed at the sheer amount of the fifty-bit words she'd managed to use in a single sentence. "Hunh–?"

"Maewyn Succat's taming of the heathen Hibernians is honored today and the Cobb is in direct violation of formalized observances," River explained patiently, shifting her weight from her heels to the balls of her feet. "His remembrances must be jogged continually, lest he forget."

"I'd rather we forget yer sorry self durin' upthrust!" Jayne shot back, rubbing his backside with one beefy paw. "Gorram girl's been pinching my pi gu since we touched down, Mal! Make it stop!"

"Jayne is being a soggy spoilsport – he must be castigated for his lack of canonical carousing!" she retorted hotly, crossing her arms as she glared at the massive hulk of man standing next to her.

"Oh, I'll get with the carousin', girlie," Jayne growled. "Soon as we get this transaction completed, I'm gonna introduce ya to my little friend, Mr. Leather Belt."

"Not applicable – per Mrs. Washburne's directives, I am abiding by all rites and rituals," River rejoined, holding up one of her braids. "My knotwork exempts me from any and all aides memoire."

Zoe hadn't said a word when Mal announced he was taking both Jayne and River to his meeting with their client that evening, but she had sat the girl down, parted her dark locks with a comb, efficiently plaited both sides and tied them off with bright green ribbons.

Mal had made a mental note to ask his first mate about this peculiar conduct, but had promptly forgotten when Zoe had placed a small pin on the lapel of his coat – it looked like a four-petaled flower, except none of the petals were floralsome colors – all of them were green.

"The hell ya yammerin' on 'bout, ya scrawny lil' fruitcake?" Jayne demanded, taking the safety off of his Glokker. "I's made Reaver-meat outta men for less, an' yer disc-dancin' on my last nerve. One more word or grabby-grab outta ya an' I'm gonna show ya what dis'plinin's all 'bout!"

"As if you could stagger after me fast enough to apprehend me," River replied coolly, tossing her braids behind her shoulders.

"Will you two shut it?!" Mal hissed as he caught sight of the tall, lanky man in black striding towards them. "We'll sort this out later."

The man stopped in front of Mal and exposed a gleaming viridian sateen waistcoat as he extended his hand. "Captain Malcolm Reynolds."

"Travit Finnegast Skelly," Mal said, shaking the man's hand heartily and giving him the "I-hope-I-don't-get-shot-or-stabbed" grin.

"I see ye came prepared," Skelly asked, eyeing the shamrock on Mal's coat. "Ready to do some business, me boy-o?

"Always," Mal replied, and reminded himself to remember to ask Zoe about the pin once their commerce was concluded.

Skelly was a preferred client of Mal's. He was a Reesho top hat who was not only fairly sociable and filthy rich, but also eager to harass the Alliance in any way possible. Past cargo runs had included diverting a delivery of convicts bound for Persephone to Ita and thefting a splendid pair of emerald earrings that now decorated the drooping earlobes of Skelly's ancient mother.

Their preferred meeting place was the pleasure planet of Vanadis, but this time Skelly had chosen a dirt-on-the-floor establishment called the End O' The Rainbow on the aptly-named Rim world, Greenleaf. The tiny pub was situated in a lovely little town called Claddagh, on the Southern continent of the planet and boasted the best corned beef, cabbage and taters this side of the Rim.

Skelly didn't like to discuss business until all of their food had been eaten, so Jayne came in very handy, devouring all of his dinner, most of River's and a good portion of Mal's while the captain and the pilot shot the breeze with their client and indulged in their respective potables.

"Is yer beautiful brother wi' ye this foin evenin', Miss Mattingly?" Skelly asked after they'd downed their third round of drinks.

"No, Sionadh," she replied as she rotated her mug until the handle was precisely 90 degrees to the right. "He's enjoying the company of his lady-wife, Mistress Frye."

"Oh, so the brogach got himself hitched did he?" Skelly said, shaking his head. "Pity, that. Misjudged him mightily, I did. Such promise he had as a pleasure toy."

"Oh, I believe he fulfills her well in that arena – tonight they are at Madame Lianna's orgy house playing 'space pirate and slave boy'," River replied cheerily, sipping on her drink while Jayne's eyes bugged out and Mal made a "waaay-too-much-information" face. "This is quite a delightful beverage. What is it?"

"I believe ye've been served a wee pint o' Guinness this round, gounagh," Skelly replied, winking at her.

"Yummy," she commented, then ran her tongue over her teeth. "Hmmm…I deduce I shall require a dental device of some sort before the night is through."

"Tha's a good stout fer ye," Skelly said, raising his glass and settling back into the padding of the booth. "If ya don't need a toothpick, t'ain't been in the cask long enough. I like this one, Reynolds – she has good taste. But does she taste good, too?"

"Hunh?" Mal asked, unsure if he'd heard the man correctly.

"I was askin' who her man was," Skelly clarified as he gave River a non-pervertical grin and saluted her with his mug. "This one's too damn pretty not to have a treanagh like this PR specialist of yers between her lovely thighs."

Jayne coughed into his fist as River preened.

"But…sheesh z'only eighteen!" Mal responded, his voice a bit slurred from too many Celtic Core-Bombs.

"So?" Skelly asked, not the least bit taken aback. "Eighteen's age of consent in all parts of the 'verse. Cailan can swill, smolder and sex her way from Sihnon to Shadow if the humor takes her."

"Humor ain't taken ya yet, hazzit, Lil' Albatrosh?" Mal asked desperately as he turned to River. "Please tell me t'ain't."

"No, Captain Daddy," she replied as she licked the foam from her lips. "I have not even been kissed yet."

"Thank God!" Mal said, momentarily forgetting he was an atheist.

"Tha's a misfortune of Deirdre-like proportions," Skelly commented with a hang-dog expression. "Have ye need o' a man to put right the state of non-affairs, Miss Mattingly? Got me a female-inclined armament right here – "

He indicated the strong, strapping mountain of muscle to his left. The bodyguard was tall, handsome and leered at River with the perfect amount of interest and restraint.

"I do thank you kindly, Mr. Skelly," River replied with a sweet smile. "But I am saving myself for Jayne."

Jayne, who had just taken a sip of his third glass of whiskey, started coughing so hard his captain feared he'd hack a lung up onto the table.

"Whoa now, let's not be hasty here, darlin'!" Mal said, gawking at River's cheek before turning his attention to his choking colleague. "Breathe, Jayne, breathe!"

Skelly grinned and puffed on his chibigar. "Ah, he's imbibin' the good stuff…burns it's way like a torchlight procession goin' down yer throat, eh, boy-o?"

River made a face as she turned to Skelly. "Captain-Daddy only objects because he does not want to deal with the decibel level. The Cobb is a loud, lusty lover and would be very vocal during the sex act."

"I can't know that!" Mal howled miserably as he repeatedly whacked Jayne on the back.

"How – hell – she – know –?!" Jayne demanded as he tried to talk through his hacking.

River grinned and tapped the side of her head.

"That's 'nough now, young lady!" Mal said in what he thought was his best "I'm-in-charge-here" voice. "No more teasin' the merc – the captain's virgin eardrums can't take it!"

"No, I wanna 'ere more," Skelly said, leaning forward. "Yer sayin' dis big, beastly basdard won't put the love on a delightful little lass like ye? He ain't sly, is he?"

Jayne's eyes got very big and very wide as he downed the entire glass and promptly started coughing again.

Mal resumed hitting the big man between the shoulder blades while motioning to the server to bring Jayne another whiskey.

"No, although it might be easier for him if he were," River replied with a sad sigh. "Jayne does not object to my extreme youth – he prefers to pay for sexing so he does not have to kiss. "

"She's bein' all vengesome, Mal!" Jayne bleated as soon as he was able to breathe properly. "Too far 'way to pinch me so she's sayin' improperful things!"

"Pinch?" Skelly inquired.

"Jayne is not wearing the proper pigment," she divulged before taking a sip of her brew. "He is not being environmentally friendly."

"Oh, I take yer meaning, múirnín," Skelly said, nodding at Jayne as he laid his Bundher on the table.

"Hey, now," Mal said cautiously as he tried to unobtrusively slide himself out of the booth. "We don't want no trouble."

"It's not trouble I be aimin' ta give ye, Cap'n, jus' gettin' me money out," Skelly replied as evenly as a soused Reeshoman two and a half sheets to the wind possibly could. He tugged a pouch of credits from his belt and tossed it on the table. "Howsabout yer entire crew earnin' a lil' extra coin this go-round?"

"How?" Mal asked, giving Skelly the hairy eyeball as he contemplated fifty different ways he could be gunned down, gutted, maimed or mutilated by the man's burly bodyguards.

"I'll pay two hun'red plat'num roit 'ere an' now if'n Cobb here lays a big, sloppy wet one on the little miss."

Mal relaxed slightly and glanced over at the largest member of his crew. "Seems like a fair price to p–"

"No!" Jayne replied, waving both hands in front of him rapidly as if to completely erase the proposal. "No ruttin' way, no ruttin' day!"

"Ain't askin' ye to tup wi' her an' bind yerself into some kind o' Brehon marriage, boy-o," Skelly replied, a bit irritated at the merc's refusal. "Would ye look at 'er fer a gorram minute? She's a roit shiny bit o' pretty an' it be a cryin' shame that she ain't never been kissed."

"Ain't kissin' no one," Jayne repeated again before downing the rest of his whiskey and slamming the glass upside down on the table. "Least o' all the crazy girl!"

"Not even for a flat twenty percent of the take?" Mal asked, watching River's lower lip tremble. Hell, if she started pouting, he might have to order Jayne to kiss her and wouldn't that be a pooch-screwed situation? Though he'd deny it up and down, Mal could never resist his pseudo-quasi-adopted daughter's poor-little-me face.

Jayne paused and hiccuped, his inebriated mind attempting to make the calculations. "Twen'y?"

"Right off the top," Mal affirmed. "Plus bonus if we walk away wi' no one getting' shot durin' the job."

"Do I gotta do it here?" Jayne asked Skelly, all commerce now that coin was part of the conversation.

"Aye," Skelly replied. "Gotta see fer me own eyes that the múirnín is done by properly. No lace curtain deals."

Jayne looked at Skelly, at the pouch of platinum, at his captain's composed countenance, and finally at River. "Sure I's gotta do it wi' all y'all watchin'?"

Mal, River and Skelly all nodded in unison.

"An' I gets this here coin when I do?" Jayne asked, pointing at the money.

Again, they all nodded.

Jayne sighed, soundly defeated by a combination of drink and currency. "Well, whaddya waitin' for, crazy? Git yer skinny lil' ass over here."

She let out a baby squeak, like a little mouse about to devour her favorite flavor of cheese or perhaps a spoonful of peanut butter, as she scrambled up onto the table, bypassed "Captain-Daddy" and settled herself into Jayne's lap as Skelly pulled the table towards himself to give her more room.

"Um, can I please not look?" Mal asked as Jayne looped his arms loosely around River's waist and she wrapped hers around his neck. "Pretty sure I don't wanna be rememberin' any of this come morning."

"Certainly, Cap'n Reynolds," Skelly replied magnanimously, letting loose a laugh as Mal clapped his hands over his eyes.

Meanwhile, River was also giggling as Jayne brought his hand up and rubbed the heel of his palm vigorously across her lips.

"Can't be too careful," Jayne explained as he wiped any trace of lipshine, stout and saliva from the lower half of her face. "Don't wanna wake up kissin' the floor like last time."

"Understood and comprehended," she replied before undoing one of the ribbons that encompassed the end of her braid and reaching down to his belt.

"Ya pinch me 'gain an' yer dead meat," he warned, his brilliant blue eyes narrowing as he captured her hands.

"Silly Jayne," she said, scooching closer and tilting her chin up to him. "I am just making sure that the least discriminating of our company ceases to contemplate their designs on your backside. Besides, Mr. Leather Belt was feeling forlorn."

"Was 'e now?" Jayne asked as he let her weave her ribbon around one of his belt loops, his words flavored with a combination of obvious intoxication and indefinite obscenity.

"Ya know, could've gone t' the grave without ever hearin' my merc talkin' to the Lil' Albatrosh like that," Mal muttered from behind his hands.

Jayne hesitated for a moment as he looked down at the peach-rose perfection of the girl's mouth.

"On the lips," Skelly reminded Jayne. "And I won't be turnin' over this here purse for no sorry lil' quick peck. Gotta make it the stuff that lil' girl's dreams are made of."

"Wha' yer dreams made of, lil' bit?" Jayne asked, trying to hold his head steady and reconcile the double vision of misty twin Rivers in his arms.

She smiled up at him as she tilted her head to the side. "Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails!"

"Right kinky, aintcha?" Jayne asked, a low chuckle of admiration working its way up his ribcage.

"Nice mercs need naughty love, too," she cooed, sliding her lithe little fingers into the short hairs at the nape of his neck.

"Only doin' this 'cause I'm under 'nfluence," he reminded her as his lips hovered a fraction of an inch above hers. "Wouldn't be happenin' if'n I was clear-headed an' all."

"I discern," she whispered, her dark eyes gleaming like double shots of pure pot still. "I don't demur."

He dropped his mouth down a little bit more. "Ain't gonna be my best effort."

"Tomorrow is another day," she replied, lifting hers up.

"Everyone's gonna know ya had t' pay fer yer first," he challenged, waggling his eyebrows.

"I can't think about that right now…if I do, I'll go 'crazy'," she teased quietly. "I'll think about that tomorrow."

"Prob'ly gonna hafta pay me if'm ya want me to do it 'gain," he warned, so close he could feel the slight heat of her breath warming his lips.

"Frankly, my dear," she replied with a simple wicked grin, "I don't give a damn."

He grinned back before he gently lowered his mouth to hers.

*****

"Is it safe to look yet?" Mal asked, peeking through his fingers and immediately wishing he hadn't. "Oh, no…not good, not good."

River and Jayne were still locked at the lips, plainly bent on having each other for dessert.

It was nothing like the cinematic Core World go se that Kaylee and Wash liked to watch on the Cortex in Inara's shuttle when it was Mal's turn to drive the ship…not that he ever tuned into that kind of mind-numbing braindrain…or had his own set of pre-made callbacks for each one of them…or even knew the first thing about such movies.

Mal knew without a doubt that he'd be scarred for life, watching the two of them going at it like a pair of horny teenagers, intent on examining each other's tonsils with their respective tongues.

"Ye must be a proud not-quite-papa, Reynolds," Skelly commented as he slung an arm around Mal and pulled him into a manly one-armed hug. "That lil' 'daughter' o' yers certainly seems to be sufferin' from a double dose o' Original Sin. "

"Ta ma de…where's Niska's little friend when I need him?" Mal muttered desperately as he reached for Jayne's refilled glass of whiskey.

*****

pi gu – "backside" (Chinese pinyin)

aides memoire – "memory aids" (French)

Sionadh – "Lord / Sir" (Irish Gaelic)

brogach – "handsome young man" (Irish Gaelic)

gounagh – "pretty little maiden" (Irish Gaelic)

treanagh – "big strong man / he-man" (Irish Gaelic)

basdard – "bastard" (Irish Gaelic)

cailan – "girl" (Irish Gaelic)

múirnín – "sweetheart" (Irish Gaelic)

Ta ma de – "F*ck me blind" (Chinese pinyin)