Title: The Earliest Signs
Summary: It's the first lesson everyone learns after they first board Serenity, and Mal doesn't even realize what it tells them about him and his particular relationship with another member of the crew.


"So…about my living quarters…you're really sure that no one's—" The man we'd just brought on—Jayne—stopped mid-sentence. A portion of protein dropped from between his chopsticks, but his jaw started working on it just the same.

"Captain," Inara questioned in her melodic voice as she entered, "When are we expecting that we shall land?"

"Ask Wash," I grunted back, watching Jayne open and close his mouth like a baby, "You hoping for some men on that rock to be looking for a whore to wile away the hours with?"

"Captain, I do believe I'd asked you to discontinue the use of that epithet."

"Sure…last time…"

She left silently, and the look on Jayne's face darkened with a predatory glee. "Ya forgot to mention we had a Companion on board…She official 'n' all?"

"She's off-limits, if that's what you mean."

"Ah…" his expression soured, "Captain's perks or—"

I slammed a closed fist on the wooden table between us. "I'll have no selling of anything that precious on my boat. Is that clear, boy?"

Jayne leaned back, smirking, with his hands raised, "Sure…All's clear, all right, Captain."