TITLE: A Christmas Carol

DISCLAIMER: Not mine.

A/N: Some leftover holiday cheer was bubbling in my belly. Obviously based on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. AU in that it is Post-BDM but I couldn't write the story without the crew whole, so our lovely pilot and preacher are present :)


Jayne growled low under his breath. The ship was packed full of those ridiculous fairy lights, of which Kaylee seemed to have an endless supply. Walking through the metal halls when they were lit up like that was a lot like being in space, except the stars were two inches from your head and if you were any taller than 6 feet there was a strong risk of strangulation on the glowing golden strands. There was a slightly misshapen plastic tree in the dining room where Book and Inara had spent the last two days cooking. The tree had been strung with even more of those lights (seriously, where did Kaylee get the gorram things?), and hung with a variety of mismatched homemade baubles. The recirculated air of the ship was filled with the delicious sent of roast vegetables, chicken, glazed ham and Christmas pudding, the rich, warm fog of garlic and onion creeping over every inch of the ship.

And he was stuck in his bunk.

It wasn't his fault the crazy girl had been grating on his last nerve lately. All day he'd heard Christmas carols hummed in that creepy voice of hers, not to mention the occasional spouts of poetry. He had found her dancing around the cargo bay to the twinkling sound of something Inara said was a sugary fairy fruit, or something like that. The Companion had been sitting with Zoe, slowly sipping some of the extra strength eggnog that Mal of all people had made, watching their 'little Christmas fairy' dance. The first mate had been sipping some tea, her pregnancy prohibiting anything more.

The pale skin and thin limbs had looked almost fitting in the warm golden glow of all those lights, but when she stopped and started saying some poetic go se her didn't understand he'd made a cutting comment, leaving quickly. He couldn't say why the girl was bothering him so much, but every time he was in the same room as her his skin felt like it was on fire. It hadn't helped his mood that she'd been wearing a charcoal coloured dress that looked like it was spun out of smoke and cobwebs, one that flipped up when she pirouetted, showing off the long lean legs and pink ballet slippers on her feet, her chocolate hair loose and whipping around her shoulders as she moved.

He was willing to admit that maybe he didn't need to tease her about her attempts at cooking a Christmas cake, but the black smoke filling the kitchen combined with the strange addition of asparagus to the recipe had made it too hard to hold his tongue.

So what if he'd been riding her for the past week? Crazy girls shouldn't be disrupting life on the ship so much. It was bad enough Kaylee couldn't resist the spirit of the season, bad enough that the rest of the crew was somewhat amused by the mechanic's yuletide zeal. The addition of an overly enthusiastic crazy girl to the mix wasn't particularly pleasant. Especially not for someone who didn't find much to appreciate about Christmas spent on a ship.

If they'd been able to land of Persephone he could have gotten himself some holiday cheer in the form of a cheap whore. He'd had a great time when they were planet side two years ago – who knew Miss Lila's Ladies of the Night had a Christmas banquet as well? Ho h oho indeed. However this year Mal had made the annoying decision to remain in the Black for the holiday, possibly another irritating side effect of their survival of Miranda, an event that had created some frustratingly strong ties amongst many of the ship's members. The decision had thrilled the rest of the crew; something about keeping it a 'family' affair.

Which basically meant he was stuck in the black with an overly romantic group of idiots. Simon couldn't stop smiling when Kaylee would find an inch of the ship not yet infused with Christmas cheer, the girl immediately stuffing whatever dark corner she found with homemade baubles, lights or that itchy stuff she called tinsel. Wash was taking every opportunity to abuse the mistletoe his wife walked under. The Captain and Inara were worst of all, dropping unsubtle innuendos to one another so often that even Book knew they were sexin'. The fact that they thought they were hiding it had at least brought some amusement to an otherwise uncomfortable experience.

Not much though.

The last straw had been when the crazy girl had arrived at dinner in that get up. Jayne had no clue where she'd managed to find the short red skirt with white trim, nor the matching red top. The striped red and black stockings that came halfway up her slim thighs and the santa hat perched on her head had been the last straw. The merc had burst out into raucous laughter at the sight of the 'Christmas elf', and the girl's face had crumbled at his response. The Captain, tired of Jayne upsetting the girl, had sent the merc to his bunk, refusing to let him come out until he found some Christmas cheer.

Stuck in his bunk of Christmas Eve….Jayne huffed.

He lay down on his thin mattress, trying to ignore the way the image of the girl all decked out in short skirt and big black boots filled his mind. Stupid girl, always getting him in trouble. And the rest of the crew didn't help, treating her like something special rather than the boatful of violent crazy she actually was. He tried not to think about what her skin felt like. As sleep slowly settled over him like a warm blanket he lost the battle.

Stupid Christmas.