Disclaimer: Not mine. Never will be either. I just play with them for fun, while Joss is otherwise distracted.

A/N: Written in response to crazywriterchic's challenge on Copper for a Kiss that 'One turns the other down for sex', way back in 2006 or so. First of a series of interconnected stories called Chaos Theory.

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The Smallest Things

They finally had the place to themselves. Everyone else had headed out for a little well-deserved shore leave, with Simon and Kaylee practically tripping over themselves at the thought of a proper date. Couldn't understand the fuss himself – two of them had been sexing each other up every which way for a few months now. You'd think they'd quit being soppy already. Mal and Inara had taken Zoe out to a bar in an effort to cheer her up a bit, though how successful that was likely to be he didn't know. Hell, the woman had lost her husband and even if he had been a waste of space most of the time in Jayne's personal opinion, you couldn't expect a person to just get over something like that. That left Jayne guarding the ship, a duty he'd volunteered for, making the captain just a mite suspicious.

"We got a chance to go ashore for the first time in over a month and you ain't itching to get yourself a hooker?" Mal had asked when they had that discussion. "You ain't sickening for nuthin' are ya, Jayne?"

"We're gonna be here for a week, ain't we?" he'd replied, not looking the man right in the eyes. Mal had a way of seeing right through a person and he didn't want him thinking about this too hard. "Can go get sexed up any time. Don't have to be right this minute."

"If you say so," Mal said, not looking entirely convinced. "Anyway, River'll be here to keep an eye on you. I'll tell her if you misbehave she can shoot you. You know, somewhere non-lethal." He grinned and punched Jayne on the shoulder.

"Gee, thanks." Course, there was a time when the captain wouldn't have left him and the girl alone on the same ship for all the gold in the Alliance. But then, there was a time they'd have killed each other soon as looking. Things were a mite different, these days. He'd sort of gotten used to her over time, even started understanding some of her gibberish, which was all manner of scary. Then there'd been Miranda, and the Reaver fire fight at Mr. Universe's place. Let's just say his attitude towards her changed after he saw her standing there with a pair of dripping blades over a pile of Reaver corpses. That was one hell of a woman by anyone's reckoning.

After that, they'd gotten along pretty well, sparring now and then so both of them could keep battle-ready. Course, her brother hated that, which just made it all the more fun. Watching the doc get his knickers in a twist was the best form of entertainment on this ship. Mind you, if he knew all of it, they'd probably get wedged so far up his ass he could yank them out of his mouth. It was almost tempting, except for the bit where the doc tells Mal and Mal shoots him in the balls. Nope. Some things were best kept quiet.

He whistled as he headed towards the galley, knowing he'd find her there and planning just what he'd do to her with a whole gorram ship at his disposal. He felt frisky as a boy in his first brothel just thinking on it. But then she always had that effect on him. Those big eyes, that wicked smile, the fact she could kill him with her pinkie.

She was waiting just where he'd expected, sitting cross-legged in the middle of the dining table, chewing on a lock of silky dark hair. He grinned at the sight. She looked just like a gorram pixie or some such. He crossed over to her slowly and bent to nuzzle at her neck. She always smelled so great, fruit and cinnamon, like a homemade pie. He breathed deeply and moved his hand to her waist for a squeeze.

"Hey, baby doll," he growled, his lips wandering down over her collarbone and towards the soft upper curve of her breasts. He was enjoying the journey so much, it took him a few seconds to work out she wasn't responding. What the hell? "You know this usually works better when we're both payin' attention," he said.

She looked up at him, looking a little sad. "Feeling strange, unfocused. Not ready to have sex just now."

"Not ready?" he about exploded. "Damn it, girl, you sure do pick your moments. You have any idea how long it's likely to be afore we get the run of the ship again? Without worryin' about gettin' caught every time we so much as touch each other?"

"Don't be angry," she said, sniffling a little and making him feel like some sort of hun dan lowlife. "I didn't choose to feel this way. Emotions are not optional. They drown me."

"Aw hell, I ain't angry. Little frustrated," he admitted, "but I ain't gonna do anythin' you don't want me to." He reached out a hand and tugged at her hair – fascinating stuff, like tangled skeins of silk. "You not feelin' so good?" He ventured this a mite nervously. Wasn't quite sure what he'd do if'n she started talking about her feelings and all.

"Feel strange," she said again, tipping her head on one side. "Head full of fuzz. Feet full of fire."

Huh. Well, that at least he could do something about. He hauled himself up on the edge of the table. "Give 'em here then."

She got that little crinkle above her nose that she always got when he was bemusing her. "I don't understand. What am I to give you?"

"Your feet, damn it. Lie back and stick 'em in my lap."

She looked at him as if he'd lost his wits but did as he said. He took one slender white foot in his hands and started rubbing. Hell, it was kind of nice touching her like this, he thought, as he moved his thumb in circles around her instep. He was so engrossed in what he was doing he didn't see his girl's face as she watched him.

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Just when she thought the man that was Jayne Cobb could offer no more surprises, he did. She took in the concentration on his face and realised it was the same expression he wore when he cleaned and polished his beloved weapons. It made her feel cherished. Gave her hope that this was more than just an animal attraction, two wild creatures mating.

Her hand moved down over her stomach and she felt the faintest flutter inside, like the beating of a butterfly's wings. Her lips tilted in an enigmatic smile and she sighed happily. Perhaps it would be all right after all.