Disclaimer: No profit is made from this work. Its purpose is to promote the show through exploration of the characters/settings/situations.

AN: This was inspired by a totally random post on LJ. The thing about pants is, honest to goodness, something my mother said. Also, thanks to alovedinvention and angellwings for looking this over. You're both awesome!

Jayne and Jane

His foot's on fire - okay, not technically, but it was in the very near past and he can still feel those little licks of flame dancing over his skin. The doc gives him plenty of pain killers and releases him to his room only because they have just the one bed and Mal was worse off - shot, right in the appendix. It's enough to make Jayne laugh out loud.

And he does, all the way to his room, where Book helps him onto the bed, poofs up his pillows, and props his leg up on a pile of folded sheets before leaving to pray where no one can see and let slip to Mal they'd seen him doing such a damned nice thing for him.

Jayne thinks the captain's crazy. Just because a man ain't religious doesn't mean he should be fool enough to stop some man in a fluffy cloud from helping him.

The ship slowly settles, quieting while its beloved captain goes under the knife. Jayne scoffs at the thought and reaches under his bed, figuring it's safe since the quiet'll alert him to anyone coming near. He reaches past the gun hidden in the dark and instead grabs something flat and smooth. It's a book. Shock. Horror. Yeah, Jayne Cobb reads and if you suggest he doesn't ever again he'll blow your head off your shoulders so fast your body'll be able to reach for your gun before it realizes it's dead. Which is why he'll also shoot off your arms. Or maybe he'll just be slower about the shooting, that might work better.

He shakes himself, trying not to let the movement jar his aching foot, and flips open the book. It's not his usual fare. He likes to pick up the trashy shit with half-naked women on the covers, and has even got himself a supplier on Eros who slips 'em to him in boxes of ammo. But he's also got a lady friend on Psyche - one who'll try anything new he reads in them books - and she recommended this one.

There's no naked woman on the cover, only some old painting from Earth-That-Was with a man in the most uncomfortable pants Jayne has ever seen (if they're that tight shouldn't they be for showing off? So why's'e look all flat down there like some gorramn plastic doll?) along with a couple of dogs scampering nearby in the grass. Even they look kinda stuck up.

He's not sure if the story's good yet. Rich girl thinks she knows everything. How's that a story? Sounds a lot like what you can see any day on a central planet where a girl can insist two plus two equals five and a man'll still look at her like she's the sun and the stars. Which a girl on a border moon can too, but only if she's got a chest like a pair of mountains and can cook so well week old meal tastes like Christmas ham. And even then she'll be at least laughed at.

An hour later the girl's cost the only honest working man in the whole book his bride (who ain't too smart but Jayne imagines she's got those breasts like mountains) and caused a whole mess of trouble and heartache. Jayne's not sure he can finish the book, he'll probably rip it to shreds soon, and then what'll his lady on Psyche say? She expects him to have read the whole thing.

So he will. But there'd better be some sex soon.

"Jayne?"

He's so startled the book goes flying in the air and he has to bend nearly in half to catch it, but he doesn't go quite far enough and the spine hits his foot, sending a shudder of pain straight up his leg. He grabs the stupid book and shoves it between the thin mattress and the wall even though the door's open and Kaylee's watching him with wide eyes.

The look he gives her has sent grown men running to their mothers but she just walks in, sets a tray of food beside him, and leaves. That's how he knows she's gonna tell. Kaylee never could keep from jabberin' on and the only reason she wouldn't say nothing now is if she was gonna go and tell everyone that Jayne Cobb reads. Shock again. Horror again.

That, or the captain's dead. But if that was the case she'd've been crying. Damn. Jayne never thought he'd wish to see a woman cry.


It's another hour later and he still hates the girl. Really, what's so wrong about this Jane person? Aside from having a man's name she seems a right fine girl, willing to work the rest of her days because even though she ain't bred for it that's the hand life's dealt her.

And what was that about insulting that poor old woman? Jayne's an ass but at least he owns up to it instead of pretending he's some sort of gentleman. The girl should be ashamed.

And still no sex!

Somebody better die soon, that's all he can say. It's the only way to make up for the lack of sexual relations. And the trauma could send people into each other's arms. So death and sex. Sounds like a grand old conclusion to Jayne.

"Jayne?"

Gorammit!

He slams the book shut and glares up at Inara. "What!" he snaps.

She raises one delicate eyebrow and steps just far enough in to close the door. "Mal's going to be fine."

"Well good for him. Now maybe the doctor can do a mite more about my foot!"

Inara isn't cowed by his outburst (the women on this ship, could just one of them be normal?) and glances at the book.

"Emma. Not my favorite, but still worthwhile."

"She's an idiot," Jayne says gruffly.

"Well she's supposed to be."

Jayne's eyes widen at this. Why would anyone waste a whole book on someone so stupid?

"Austen set out to write a book centered around a character everyone would hate but still have to root for."

"I ain't rootin'."

"Neither did I," Inara says and it's like she's sharing a secret. "I found her insipid. But the other characters were worthy. Even the man Emma ends up marrying is good enough that I wanted him to be with her, if only because he wanted to be."

"She gets married?" Jayne asks, both horrified and hopeful that marriage means somebody'll finally have some sex.

"Yes. And so does just about everyone else. Happy endings abound," she says dryly.

"You hate it."

"I have nothing against happy endings, I just hate Emma. I much prefer Persuasion. The heroine is much more real."

"Does she insult old ladies?"

"No," Inara says, her lips curling up, "but if that's one of your big arguments with Emma, you'll love Anne. You can borrow my copy if you like."

Jayne raises an eyebrow. Inara doesn't let him touch anything of hers. Ever.

She doesn't seem to feel like explaining and instead asks, "I assume you don't want anyone to know you're the kind of man who reads classics from Earth-That-Was?"

"It's just the one," he mutters with a shrug.

"Of course," she says and slides the door open so fast it clangs angrily. "It's not a book-book," she announces to the hallway as she glides out the door and he can hear the next even after the door is shut, "it's a how-to manual, very out-of-date if you ask me."

Jayne smirks as those gathered make sounds of realization. Better they think him a dirty-minded Man, than some pansy who reads for fun.


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