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Wrapped Around Her Finger

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Jayne’s been pissed off all day. Mostly because his pay’s been severely docked by their greedy client and Mal’s ironclad resistance that they let this one go. Slightly because Kaylee’s been sent off with that no good doctor and still has yet to come back. Jayne swears that sometimes Mal wants them to date and get married and have babies and live a nauseatingly happy ever after.

Where’s Jayne’s happy ever after?

Okay, so Jayne’s attitude is likely mostly that last reason. Can ya blame a guy for not wanting to let Kaylee’s heart get stomped on like it’s an irritating, overly cheerful butterfly?

Kaylee and Simon are, in fact, the last two on board, and it doesn’t make Jayne any less sick to his stomach seeing Kaylee practically arm in arm with the unusually chipper, relaxed and not constipated looking doctor, hanging on his every word. “He just has the most fascinating stories,” Kaylee beams, barely shooting Jayne a glance. “I just have to pry more of them out at dinner.”

“Well, you can try,” Simon says, offering a foolish challenge to Kaylee that Jayne knows she’ll take him up on.

And then there’s another person who just ain’t on Jayne’s side today. “We could certainly use a little distraction tonight after this last job,” Wash agrees, as he nervously checks to make sure they aren’t being followed.

Jayne jumps in a little too late, bristling at how happy Kaylee looks; it’s not her happiness that bothers him but the reason for it. “‘Bout time you two show up,” he growls.

“I must admit,” Simon gloats, “I am quite happy to be back.” Add to his fancy words a cheerful expression to match Kaylee’s own, and Jayne’s about ready to either jump ship or throttle the doc for steering Kaylee in a direction that he ain’t ever been able to keep steady in, his sister always getting in the way and all. 

Jayne wouldn’t put Kaylee aside for distractions, and just plain crazy, dangerous ones at that.

He’s never been much good at hiding his emotions, however, though the long silence doesn’t do him any favors. “Cat got your tongue, Jayne?” Wash teases, though when Jayne studies him in confusion, with as much discretion as he can muster, he can’t see anything out of the ordinary. Wash, at least, hasn’t figured out his slight infatuation with Kaylee. He knows this because Wash is the worst liar on this ship, not that any of them stand much of a chance against the captain.

“How’s about ya do what Mal says and steer us off this gorram planet already?”

Wash holds his hands up in surrender. “Alright alright. Don’t get your panties in a twist. We’ll be up up and away before you can say lovebirds five times fast.”

Shit.  

He has a feeling now Wash isn’t talking about Kaylee and Simon. 

Jayne glares after him whilst trying not to appear completely horrified, though Wash stays good on his word, probably knowing better than to make eye-contact with the mercenary. Jayne watches him carefully to make sure he’s out of earshot and won’t be sticking around. Simon strolls off a moment or two later, clearly oblivious or just uncaring opposed to checking up on that freak sister of his.

Finally, Kaylee’s all his again.

Too bad he ain’t gonna get two words in before she starts getting excited about something.

“Did you hear what the Captain said last night? Our next stop is Antiope, home of the most weddings in the verse. Just think of it, Jayne, all them fancy people looking so pretty and so happy, with their floofy, elegant dresses, surrounded by flowers and trees and just… nature. There’s supposed to be gardens that stretch as far as the eye can see, and fruit actually grows in them. Strawberries and blackberries and blueberries. It must positively look like a postcard. I sure hope we’ll get to stay for a few days. Simon will like that for sure.”

Simon will get my boot up his ass if he takes one step off this ship with Kaylee onto that Ant-whatever.

At least his tongue finally loosens. “Don’t go getting any of those funny ideas in your head, girl. ‘Bout marriage and babies and all that crap. That doc don’t seem so keen on sharing his life with anyone but that crazed sister of his.”

The way Jayne figures it: Kaylee’s all his and she ain’t no one else’s, even if it’s taken him long enough to admit it just to himself. If he has to humiliate her a little to steer her away from someone unsavory, threaten anyone who comes near her with a certain look, or just make up excuses to be near her then so be it. It’s a gorram sight better than watching her and her emotions get whisked away to a fairytale land that ends in tears. At least on Serenity, Jayne can keep track of her. At least nearby, he don’t have to worry about anyone but that fool doctor who don’t know what he wants half the time and doesn’t deserve Kaylee’s attentions in the slightest.

And maybe Jayne isn’t ready to take Kaylee as his wife anytime soon, even if Kaylee Cobb does have a sorta nice ring to it, but gorram it, at least she keeps him remotely sane and just optimistic enough while they’re drifting further and further from civil parts and decent pay each day. She’s an anchor, Jayne figures, one who’s a bit too cheerful and prone to over-excitement but hey, every woman’s got her flaws.

Kaylee glances away the moment he spews the word ‘marriage,’ a red tint to her cheeks and a smile slightly less excited than before; however, she gathers her composure quicker than Jayne expected. “I’m just saying that maybe I’ll finally get to see a real garden, with real flowers. Like the ones you hear about in stories with all the different colors: red, yellow, pink, purple…,” with every color she gets more and more misty-eyed, causing Jayne to roll his eyes and vomit a little in his mouth.

“I’ll pick ya three dozen flowers if ya shut yer gob, already.”

Kaylee knows better than to slink away at that because she knows Jayne. Some days that pisses him off because his threats ain’t worth squat, but today he’s mostly proud that she can stand her own against him, even if it’s to defend all the pretty things she likes that just so happen to be all the things he don’t understand the appeal of.

“Not those scraggly little flowers that you can find anywhere, Jayne. You know….”

“Yeah yeah, them fancy thingies that cost more than a month’s salary. Ain’t ya know to quit dreamin’ of things ya can’t have, girl?”

Kaylee’s mouth draws into a pout then that Jayne has to admit is sorta adorable. Oddly enough, it’s only Kaylee that ever manages to bring that sappy side - not to mention also his protective side - out. “And why should I? What’s life if you can’t dream of things?”

Here she goes again. Preaching ‘bout happiness and optimism. “High expectations are for fools and sissies. Hell, none of us get paid or have time for expectations or dreams or whatever period. Distractions, I say, and Captain’ll say the same.”

Kaylee scoffs. “I swear, you and the captain are two peas in a pod sometimes.” Jayne doesn’t know whether to turn green at that or not. “But what you don’t realize,” she preaches, getting up into Jayne’s personal space, thank you very much, though she does kinda smell like those flowers she’s been talking about underneath all that engine grease, “is that if your expectations are so low then you’re not really living. You’re just drifting.”

“Exactly like we’re doing right damn now.”

“No!” Kaylee laughs in frustration, moving closer until she’s nearly chest-to-chest with him. “You won’t enjoy anything when it comes along because you won’t care. But if you wish for something good, without wishing for it too much, then something good will happen. It might be unexpected, but dreaming of something, even if you don’t get it, is half the fun anyways.”

My girl ’s a poet.

And no, Jayne doesn’t completely understand what her pretty little mouth’s spouting, but he does recognize beauty when he sees it. Here’s Kaylee: dirt smudged on her nose, overalls stained, a weary smile lighting up her face and almost the whole ship and here Jayne is, suddenly more in awe of her than he ever has been. Her words don’t mean much to him, but he can sense the poetry of them and more than that, can see how they make her feel. Kaylee’s stubborn enough that no matter what Jayne says he’ll never sway her otherwise, and there’s a certain pride Jayne feels in that.

She can stand up to him all in her own way. Here’s one girl who suddenly isn’t a girl at all but a woman, a woman he can’t beat down or out-think, at least on this.

Somehow, strangely, it’s pretty gorram satisfying.

And there’s no way he’s gonna kill this mood. “How’s about we get off this topic and get onto something we both can talk about?”

A sly smile crosses Kaylee’s face, “Like your stomach, Jayne?”

She knows him pretty darn well. “Think Mal’s restocked the kitchen like he says, or he just tryin’ to placate us?”

“Mmm,” Kaylee purrs. “Zoe’s gonna get on you again for using them fancy words.” Jayne stumbles on his next words for a moment, but Kaylee just laughs and slips her hand in his, tugging him toward the direction of the kitchen. “C’mon tough guy, let’s load up before Captain closes the kitchen early on account of us having too much fun.

She laughs again, the little troublemaker that she is and tries to hide, from Mal especially, and even though she’s got a little too much bounce in her step, Jayne ain’t gonna tolerate her any other way.

The girl’s got him twisted around her little finger, after all.

FIN