TITLE: Rescue


Mal stifled the urge to scream. Of all the gorram situations they could wind up in, they wound up in this one. Niska's men milled around the ship, searching for the single crewmember unaccounted for. Mal had no idea how they had heard about the bounty on River's head, but then again being tied to the stairwell of his cargo bay, along with seven other crewmembers, tended to have a negative effect on his cognition functions.

Cognitive functions? He'd been hanging out with River far too damn long.

Perhaps he would be less inclined towards white hot anger if they hadn't decided to take the ship at a time that could only be described as offensively bad for every single crew member. Some had got off lightly; Zoe and Wash were only clad in their sleeping garments, although seeing his first mate wearing a hawaiin shirt definitely had an impact on his view of her.

She had shot him a look before that implied if he allowed said impact to become apparent she would castrate him with her Mare's Leg.

Jayne had been working out, and although his lack of shirt made Mal want to start babbling about 'no nekkidness on my boat' type rules, the Captain was grateful his merc was at least wearing cargos and boots. Book had been caught washing his face; the hair was out, and oh it was angry.

Some people had got off less lightly. Kaylee and Simon were in a state of such haphazard dress that it would be stupid to think they'd been doing anything but sexin', and Mal himself had been caught with his shirt unbuttoned. Inara had got the worst of it; how that towel was staying up on its own was a mystery to everyone involved, and Mal felt a twinge of guilt that it was his fault she'd needed a shower.

But really…all that gold skin and a pot of melted chocolate…what was a man to do?

Niska's smug face moved in front of his eyeline. "Vell, Captain Reynolds, it vould seem we can't yet find ze girl."

Simon's furious voice echoed through the cargo bay. "If you touch her I swear!"

Niska smirked. "Svear away doctor, it does not offend me."

Jayne shifted irritably, the movement making the cold manacles locked around all their wrists clang loudly. "Can we ruttin' get on with this? I'm 'bout sick o' lookin' at 'em."

Mal rolled his eyes and Inara hissed. "I'm sure he feels terrible to be interrupting your sweating, but maybe silence would be a good option to take?"

Jayne smirked. "Order me 'round in a towel more often 'Nara, I'll do whatever ya want."

"Bi zui."

Zoe kept her eyes locked on Niska as she continued. "Both of you, shut up, now."

Simon was looking around frantically, as if he could somehow spot River amongst the crates and metalwork.

Niska eyed the crew for a moment before smiling. "Ah, an idea springs to mind."

He stepped towards the centre of the cargo bay, cupping his hands around his mouth to send hi voice throughout the ship.

"Leetle girl? For every minute you make me wait, I shall take one of your brother's fingers."

The barest clang of metal as a grating shifted aside, and she dropped down from the ceiling of the cargo bay. Mal rolled his eyes in irritation.

"'Tross, was kinda countin' on you ta do some thrillin' heroics."

She stood, not moving as one of Niska's guards approached carefully to cuff her wrists against her stomach. He lingered, and her shoulders twitched as her mouth set in a straight line. Niska narrowed his eyes.

"Ze legs too I sink, we need not be without caution."

She turned brown eyes to her captor. "Please, a moment to say goodbye?"

Puppy dog eyes, convincing eyes, wile-type eyes. Mal and the other boys had many different words for them, but the results tended to be the same. Whether it was an opportunity to pilot Serenity, a cooking lesson on the use of herbs, a war tale spoken softly on the bridge or her brother letting her steal his medical journals the results were the same. Those eyes had even wiled her some time with Vera, albeit with the owner watching her every move and refusing to let her touch the Callahan.

No man was immune.

Niska gave her a nod.

"Of course my dear."

She took a step, stumbling slightly so the guard was forced to catch her as she continued.

Simon felt tears pricking his eyes as his sister, slim and delicate in her peach dress, walked towards him…

And then right past him.

His eyes bugged out of his head as she took slow, carefully dainty steps past each member of the crew, coming to the last person. She stopped in front of Jayne. The merc's eyes widened as she stood on tiptoes to reach his height, and Mal felt his mouth drop open as she pressed her lips against his. For his part Jayne stayed frozen for a second, but obviously the sex drive they liked making fun of so damn much decided to kick in and he leaned into the kiss hungrily.

Mal and the others gaped as their two gun hands pressed tightly against one another, an audible groan echoing from Jayne's throat as he deepened the kiss and tasted her mouth. He was straining against the manacles, seemingly bent on tasting every inch of the Reader's mouth, and the efforts weren't unappreciated. The movement elicted a soft sigh from River, who strained up and into him, pressing against his bare chest with a moan. Her hands were cuffed in front of her, and she ran them up his chest, drawing out another moan as she reached his jawline.

Niska chuckled at Mal's shocked expression as the two gun hands writhed against one another. "Ah, revelations, young love in ze Black. And so sad to break zem apart. But," he clicked his fingers, one guard coming to wrap meaty hands around River's thin arms and pull her away from the mercenary devouring her.

A tiny whine came from her throat but she complied, head bowed as they began to march her through the doors and onto the other ship.

Niska looked over the crew. "Am I to take it zat this particular endeavour was unknown?"

Nobody could say a word.

Their captor bowed mockingly. "As much as ve vould love to stay and vatch ze fallout, I'm afraid I have an appointment to keep."

The doors clanged shut behind him, leaving only the shocked crew.

Simon found his voice first. "What the GUAY was that? What…why?"

Mal nodded. "Yes Jayne, seems an explanation might be in order."

For his part Jayne seemed a little dazed before shaking himself out of whatever River induced reverie he had lapsed into. He leaned back comfortably against the stairwell, crossing one foot in front of the other and chuckly darkly at some private joke. He raised an eyebrow, running his tongue along his teeth.

"Girl's got a tongue on her."

The veins in Simon's neck stood out as he struggled to get at the mercenary. "What have you been doing with my sister?"

Jayne tilted his head back against the metal, closing his eyes with a satisfied grin. "Oh Doc, the things I could do with a mouth like that."

Mal's tone was dark and threatening. "Jayne, if you don't start answerin' the Doc right now-"

"They breed all them Core girls like that or jus' the lil ballerina types?"

Simon let out a furious roar and the others shifted irritably as Jayne let out a raucous whoop.

"Yer sister sure does taste good Doc."

Simon's face turned red. "You chùsheng xai-jiao de xiang huo! I'm going to kill you!" He struggled against the cuffs as Jayne leered at him, rolling his tongue over his teeth again.

"Mmmm…s'like cherries an' salt …" Suddenly the tongue stopped, and his teeth moved to show a brass key.

"An' metal."

He grinned and Mal's head tipped back in relief. "Whooo boy, were you in trouble."

Jayne feigned an innocent look, speaking through the key now clenched between his teeth. "Aw Mal, s'like ya think I'm some kinda pervert."

Zoe narrowed her eyes. "Now where would he have gotten that idea?"

Book chuckled as Jayne dropped the key into his hand, using it to unlock the manacles before moving to Kaylee. "You are an evil man, and that girl is some kind of Machiavellian genius."

Inara nodded as Kaylee unlocked her, moving to do Mal and the others. "She must have known they would over power us, that's why she tripped, so she could pick his pocket."

Kaylee shook her head. "Why'd she pick Jayne?"

Book shrugged. "He's the only male who isn't related, far too old, or already entangled. Seems the best option I suppose, and Niska wouldn't have believed much else."

Simon rubbed his wrists, taking the key before Mal could unlock their last crewmember. Jayne rolled his eyes.

"Doc, ya want her back yer gonna need ta unlock me."

"You…you kissed my sister!"

"She started it!"

"Well you didn't have to participate quite so willingly!"

Jayne grunted. "What was I meant ta do, give 'er away?"

Mal snatched the key off Simon and moved over to his merc. "Don't be holdin' grudges Doc, yer sister's the one who chose her rescue method, not Jayne."

Simon glared. "Yes, I'm sure he's the tragic victim in this story."

Jayne stretched languidly, grinning at Simon and quirking a brow. "Lil genius that one."

He moved his arms over his head and groaned a little too pleasurably. Simon fought the urge to punch him, letting Kaylee lead him upstairs with Wash and Book so they could start chasing after Niska. Inara patted Simon on the shoulder.

"Don't be too angry at him Simon, he's just a man. And River did seem to know what she was doing."

She flinched when her own words hit her ears.

Simon froze, looking down into the cargo bay. "Jayne…please tell me she's never done that to you before."

Jayne scoffed. "I look like I was used ta it? Never even kissed 'em on the mouth 'afore."

Simon's blatant relief was embarrassing. Mal gave Jayne a calculating look.

"Course…you probably didn't have ta participate so damn fully."

Jayne snicked. "Aw, come'n Cap'n, it'd be rude not to."

Mal started following the others up the stairs. "Yeah, an' you're so gorram worried 'bout bein' rude."

Simon was almost out of the cargo bay when he heard Jayne's smug tone.

"Well, jus' this once. Sides, iffen I was rude she might not do it again." The mercenary strode up the stairs to weapon up, knocking past a horrified Simon with a wolfish grin.

"An' that'd be a damn shame."