Chapter 1: Mr. Pointy
"An' this one here is Vera," Jayne said, grinning fondly as he caressed the barrel of a sizeable gun with one large, callused hand. "She's my very favorite gun. Callahan full-bore autolock. Customized trigger, double-cartridge thorough gauge. Six men came to kill me one time-- the best of 'em was carryin' her. She's come in down right handy more'n once."
Mal rolled his eyes at the familiar story, but held his mouth shut, wonderin' what their newest passenger would pull out next. They'd been one-uppin' on weapons and battle stories for the better part of an hour, showing no signs of stopping; Mal was fair sure they'd forgotten he was there. Not the most edifyin' entertainment, perhaps, but better than a sharp stick in the eye, his momma would have said.
Or maybe not, Mal reconsidered with amusement, watching as the small blonde seated across from the mercenary pulled the next weapon from her remarkably capacious rucksack. Several inches long, pointed at the end, and carved in a spiraling pattern-- if that weren't a stick, he didn't know what to call it.
"What's that fer?" Jayne asked, skepticism plain in his voice.
The girl-- Buffy Summers, she'd said her name was-- grinned in a right disturbin' fashion and lunged across the table lightning quick, pressin' the tip of her stick against Jayne's chest round about the gap 'tween the third and fourth ribs.
Mal dropped a hand to his pistol in reflex, then relaxed; Jayne was grinnin' right back. The merc gripped the stick gently, movin' it aside, then reached up and wrapped a hand around the back of the girl's head.
"My kinda woman," Jayne growled, then dragged her in for a kiss.
The pointy stick clattered to the table, followed by--
Mal blinked, then beat a hasty retreat.
Chapter 2: Sometimes It's The Simple Things
There was no mistake about it: Inara Serra was an elegant woman. Sitting at the ship's dining table in all her Companion glory-- artfully updone hair, patterned silk dress, matching jewelry, and makeup so well applied it almost wasn't noticeable-- and sipping from a dainty little teacup, she made a long-buried part of Buffy Summers want to babble sisterly compliments and play dress-up in the woman's wardrobe. It had been ages since she'd been able to indulge her inner Valley Girl.
The delicately up-arched brows and air of slightly disappointed reassessment chilling the room made that pretty much a non-starter, though. Shame. Buffy had chosen to take transport on Serenity partly because of Ms. Serra; knowing that a Companion lived aboard said positive things about the ability of the rest of the crew to take a woman seriously. She'd had it up to there with being patronized since she'd stumbled into their 'verse-- first from starchy uniformed types who found her fascinating and then from grubby Wild Westy guys when she finally managed to escape the Core.
"Is it the hair?" she asked, adopting an innocent expression as she lifted a hand to touch her dirty-blonde locks. "It's the hair, isn't it. I haven't had a chance to touch it up in months. And my clothes, too." Buffy made a mournful moue, looking down and tugging the hem of her salvaged shirt. "They should be in the rag heap. I just haven't had the creds for frivolous expenses, lately."
Ms. Serra's mouth twitched slightly in appreciation, and her expression thawed again. "I would not presume to critique your... taste," she said mildly, not even pretending not to understand her. A dip of the eyes to the holster at Buffy's hip completed the hint.
It couldn't be the gun she'd objected to, though, or the fact that a woman was wearing it. Buffy'd heard plenty of stories from Jayne when they'd compared their personal collections the night before, and had been envious of the bow he'd mentioned. She'd left her own crossbow behind somewhere on Earth-- which still was, whatever anybody else said about it; Willow would find her eventually. But in the meantime... it must be how she'd got it that was causing the issue.
The Companion was entitled to her opinion, of course. But Buffy had won the weapon-comparing contest with Jayne fair and square, and they'd even mostly made it to the bunk before things got, well, messy. He was fit and skilled and appreciative and more bark than bite, with pride in every facet of his work.
And best of all, he wasn't complicated: a significant benny for a woman on the run.
The same couldn't be said for certain other folks on board, apparently. Well, if Inara and her uptight Captain wanted to spend their free time staring at people instead of partaking, that was their business!
"Then let me return the favor," Buffy replied brightly, and went to scare up some breakfast of her own.