AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is just a quick one-shot I wrote a while ago and thought I would publish to keep the reviews coming until I'm back on my feet enough to continue with Dear Ma (which, with any luck, will be later this week). Reviews are always welcomed!
It don't matter how many layers that girl puts on, Jayne thought as he watched Kaylee work. She's always shiverin' on these gorram ice planets. Ought to have a pair a her coveralls lined with some sort a insulation or somethin'. Maybe that'd help. Holding a piece of Serenity's hull in place as the mechanic carefully drove the tiny rivets that would keep the ship from flying to pieces out in the Black, he examined her secretly from the corners of his eyes. Her hair sparkled, the tiny frozen beads of her breath catching the cold, distant sunlight. Whenever she paused to toss her head, hoping to shake the loose strands off of her face, Jayne would have sworn he felt his heart stop for the barest instant. Ain't hardly fair, her bein' so pretty and so cold at the same time.
Stopping to flex her cold fingers, Kaylee caught him watching her. "What're ya starin' at, Jayne Cobb?" she asked teasingly, crossing her arms as much to warm her hands as to irk him.
"Ain't starin' at nothin'," he replied quickly, immediately finding something distant to focus on. "You cold?" Don't tell me you ain't, girlie, cause I can see ya shakin' from here.
"A little," she admitted, stomping her feet. Wish he hadn't turned away quite so fast, she pouted internally. Wasn't quite done figurin' whether or not his eyes were the same color as the sky today. Sure seemed awful close. "Bet you ain't, though. Seems like you never get cold, even when the wind's howlin' over the snow like last night. I dunno how you could stay out here so long after I went in, drivin' rivets like there wasn't a blizzard goin' on all around ya."
He shrugged, picking up the riveter she had dropped and continuing where she had left off. "Needed done. No need for you ta freeze tryin' to patch this old boat back together. Told Mal he shoulda let you stay inside where it was warm all along. Wouldn't have taken more than a day extra for me ta do it myself." As usual, he didn't listen to a damn word I said. He ain't gonna have no one but himself ta blame if he ends up with a sick mechanic on account of makin' you stand out here in the weather.
"Yeah, but it's no fun to work by yaself," she cajoled.
"You do it all the time," he replied, pausing in his task to raise an eyebrow at her. "Down there in the engine room."
"I ain't always alone. You're down there plenty, and Zoe comes down sometimes." She flashed him one of her trademark smiles. "Get lots a visitors when I'm workin'. Simon's even come to see me a few times lately." Her smile flagged when Jayne unwillingly flinched at those words. "What's wrong? You pinch a finger in that thing? Told the captain we needed a new one, but he'd only give me enough money to get parts for the old one."
"'M fine, Kaylee girl," he muttered. Ruttin' Simon. Always that gorram doctor with you anymore. He heaved a great mental sigh. Shoulda taken my chance when ya still looked at me sometimes the way ya look at him now. So much for tryin' to take things slow and be all gentleman-like about it. "Maybe ya oughta go in and warm up some," he said after a few minutes of silence ticked by. Suddenly he couldn't stand to be around her; hearing Simon's name had reminded him that no matter what Kaylee might have thought of him before, once the doctor had walked onto Serenity she had had eyes for no one else. Thinking about the uselessness of the torch he couldn't help but keep carrying made him want to shed tears, and he couldn't do that with her standing there. "Bet Book could use some help gettin' supper around."
"Ain't you comin' in?" she queried when he kept working, leaving a perfect seam of neat little dots in his wake. Where'd he learn to do that shinier'n me? Pa taught me how to rivet when I was still a kid, and his seam's still prettier than mine.
"Be dark soon. Might as well use what light's left." His voice balanced right on the edge of cracking, coming out a little hoarse as he reined in his emotions roughly. Just quit with that go se. Ain't nothin' you can do ta change things. He swallowed the lump in his throat as she turned and began to walk towards the cargo bay entrance, and then nearly dropped the riveter on his foot when she suddenly turned back and shot another question at him.
"You sure you wasn't starin' a minute ago? Cause if I didn't know any better, I'd say you was lookin' right at me when I caught ya." For one terrible moment he stood stock still, certain that she had figured him out and was fixing to finally and utterly reject his feelings. "Better be careful no one starts ta think you're gettin' sweet on me," she said playfully, still being a tease. "You'd get some awful ribbing if people thought ya were. Sweet on me, that is." Laughing at her joke-what a funny idea, Jayne bein' sweet on me-Kaylee pranced away.
If ya knew any better, darlin', you'd know I'm a bit more than sweet on ya, Jayne thought after her. Fair bit more, and I'm startin' to fear that that ain't never gonna change.