Exaggeration and Blank Verse
Whiskey Girl
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Ordinarily, Jayne wouldn’t mind going to every bar in town. Ordinarily, being ordered- by the captain- to visit every single watering hole, saloon, and tavern in a port like Heracles would be cause for celebration. But since Mal had also included the restriction that he wasn’t allowed to drink at any of them…tonight was not ordinary.

Following Kaylee was actually pretty easy until her tracks vanished into the general muddle of town-dirt. She wasn’t that good at hiding, and he was very good at tracking. Whole reason he was on this stupid boat. Still, once he hit Heracles city limits, her tracks disappeared and he was stuck doing it the other way. Visiting every single gorram bar and not tasting a drop. Damn Mal anyway.

Damn Kaylee too, while he was at it. Just about all the time, it didn’t seem to bother her at all, Mal acting like he was her papa. She seemed to kinda like being babied by him, in fact, as far as Jayne could see it. But then every so often she got herself in a mood- and Jayne had his own suspicions about why that might be, but if he brought up theories about women and mood-cycles Zoe would kick him through the airlock- and threw a hissy fit, like she’d done tonight right before she went tearing off Serenity.

He shoved open the door to another bar, glared at the bouncer until he averted his eyes and let Jayne past without paying the peace-fee, and squinted into the murky haze. Ignoring the people trying to push past him, he scanned each table and the length of the bar. No Kaylee. He let a hiss of frustration slip past his teeth, turned around, and stomped back into the street again.

This would be a hell of a lot easier if Mal hadn’t locked himself in his bunk to sulk for an hour and a half before he sent Jayne to look for her. She could’ve found another gorram ship by now and left the planet. And why, for the love of knives and firearms, did a go-se port like Heracles have so many bars anyway?

Well, he wasn’t going back to Serenity without the mechanic. Keelhauling him would be the least of the things Mal would do if he didn’t know his special pet was tucked away safe in her own bunk. Jayne might say he wasn’t afraid of anything, but the truth was that Reavers and Mal in a temper made him a trifle…uneasy.

Another door, another bouncer stared down, another glare around a gloomy stinking barroom…oh. Silvery-bright laughter going gold with drink. Kaylee.

He moved toward the sound, shoving past dark-eyed men huddling over their drinks and growling at the disruption. He didn’t care; he’d take them all on, apiece or all together, as long as he got that nien ching duh back where she belonged. And was he ever going to read her the riot act on the walk back shipside! If she wanted to fight with Mal, that was her business, but when her behavior dragged Jayne out of his bunk in the middle of the night to go digging through ratholes and not even get a drink out of it…well, that was just plain inconsiderate.

He had a whole speech planned, a good one, even including a boot in the seat of the pants for emphasis. But it all drained right out of his head when he came around the far corner, the laughter’s source, and saw just what little Miss Kaylee had gotten herself into.

“Hi, Jayne!” she chirped, happy as a songbird, sitting there in her wu de ma, kuh-ooh duh lao bao jurn…undergarments. The ones Mal had specifically told him the day he signed on to Serenity that he was never, ever to lay eyes on. Ever. Thanks a lot, Mal. “We’re playin’ cards!”

“I can see that,” he muttered through clenched teeth, glaring at the men sitting around the table. Well, at least she wasn’t getting completely cheated. They were all suffering from extreme lack of clothes. He gave an extra look of scorching disgust at a fellow who was down to his socks and a wide-brimmed hat. The hat shoulda gone two or three hands ago at least.

“Wanna play?” she asked, lifting a bottle off the table and taking a healthy sip. From the flush on her face and the level in the bottle, that had been a theme through the night.

“No,” he said flatly, stooping to pick her shirt and trousers up off the floor. “I’m here to take you back to the ship. Captain’s orders. Get your clothes on.”

“I’m mad at the Captain,” she said aggrievedly, frowning at him and swatting irritably when he held out the clothes. “No! Get away. I ain’t goin’ back. I’m havin’ fun here.”

“That’s right,” added a man who still had his suspenders on, leering across the table. “We’re all having a real nice time.”

Jayne didn’t look at him, just backhanded him across the face hard enough to send him under the table. “Kaylee,” he said firmly, keeping his eyes fixed just above the top of her drunken little head, “get your gorram clothes on. Now.”

“I. Don’t. Want. To.” She took another sip from her bottle and choked on it, coughing wildly and spraying him with whiskey from neck to navel. “Oops.” She giggled. “Gotcha all wet, Jayne, whatcha gonna do?”

Wringing her neck was out of the question. Wringing her neck was out of the question. Wringing her neck… “Kaylee, c’mon, why you doin’ this to me? You know what Mal’s gonna do if I come back without you. Won’t be enough left of me for Book to say a prayer over. Now be a good girl and help me out.”

She blinked, the meaning behind his words finally sinking through the alcohol into her brain. “Oh. Is he real mad?”

“Not at you,” he said quickly, because for his money the only thing worse than an angry Mal was a crying Kaylee. “Just real concerned. You know, you took off runnin’ like that…”

“He’s so concerned, why’d it take you so long to find me?” Her lower lip was pouting out now, and wo de tien ah, if she started crying he was just going to have to change his name and ship out on a freighter.

“Don’t cry, pretty,” the guy in the hat said, leaning over to lay a hand on her arm. “You made lots of real good friends tonight. We’ll take care of-” His words broke off in a scream as Jayne reached down, took hold of the offending hand, and twisted it hard left. Bones snapped like twigs. At least this night wasn’t a complete waste.

Kaylee sighed and reached for her drink again. “Oh, Jayne. Always so dramatic. Violence ain’t always the answer, y’know.” She swallowed her whiskey down and looked at him for a minute, then nodded and took the clothes. “Oh-kay. I’ll come back, since you asked so nice and all. Didn’t mean to get you in trouble with the Captain.”

“That’s all right,” he soothed, hoping to keep the tears back safe behind her eyes. She didn’t get drunk often enough for him to know for sure if she was a crier. “We’ll just get ourselves back to the ship and get you tucked into your bunk, and in the mornin’ I’ll send Simon to give you somethin’ for your head, because I’ll bet next job’s pay that you’re gonna have a headache that would drop a Reaver…”

“Actually,” a voice drawled behind him, and he looked over his shoulder to see the barkeep standing there with a shit-eating grin on his face, “you-all ain’t goin’ anywhere. Prisoner busted out of the lockup. Marshall just called curfew.” Groans and shouts of protest went up around the room. “Ain’t nothin’ you can do about it, so just settle down,” he snapped. “Claim a piece of floor and settle in for the night. And I ain’t givin’ away no free drinks, so don’t even ask.”

“Well, ain’t that a shame,” sighed Kaylee, tugging her trousers up and slumping back into her chair. “I was sorta lookin’ forward to that going to bed thing, since you mentioned it.”

Jayne stared at her, then at the men around the table, then at the other men around the bar. He’d sooner endure a week alone on a shuttle with River than spend the whole damn night defending a passed-out Kaylee’s virtue from this pack of po- dogs.

“Barman,” he growled, fishing through his pockets for the last credits to his name, “you got any rooms to rent in this shithole?”
*****
“Bed!” Kaylee sighed happily as he propped her up against the wall. “Nice bed?”

“That’s what I’m tryin’ to ascertain,” he muttered, flipping the coverlet back and looking it over. No obvious stains. No mice or bedbugs that he could see. Good enough. “Okay. Go ahead and lie yourself down.”

“Awful far away,” she giggled. “Help?”

Jing tzahng mei yong duh girl, too gorram drunk off her head to walk, and it hadn’t exactly been a picnic getting her up those stairs, either, and…gou za de! “Kaylee! Watch where you’re puttin’ your hands!”

“Aw, now’s a hell of a time for you to get shy,” she said, giggling and rolling over on her side as he dumped her onto the bed and beat a hasty retreat to the corner. “C’mon, Jayne, I’m all warm and fuzzy and now I wanna play a little.”

“Ain’t gonna be no playin’,” he said fervently, checking the lock on the door and pulling a chair over in front of it.

She pouted at him, probably thinking she was being seductive, but through all the booze it just came down to kinda silly. “You sent all my other playmates away…ain’t nobody left but you…”

“Yeah, and I am off-limits, girl,” he muttered, settling himself in the chair so that if the door came open it would hit the wood and wake him up without sending the knob into his head and knocking him unconscious. “Just go to sleep, would ya?”

“Well I ain’t gonna be able to sleep till my problem’s taken care of…” she said, brushing her hair back out of her face with one hand and sliding the other back and forth under the waistband of her trousers. “So it’s either help me out or watch me, Jayne, and don’t you think helpin’ would be a hell of a lot more fun?”

“Kaylee…” He lost his train of thought as her hand slid down a little farther and she bit her lower lip, grinning at him. Oh, go-se. “Kaylee, Mal would have my skin for a suit.”

“Mal ain’t here,” she pointed out, voice going a little husky. “Now get yourself over here, Jayne Cobb. Your protests have been…duly noted. You can tell the Captain it was out of your hands.”

Speaking of hands, hers was still movin’ and what it all came down to was, which was the stronger force in Jayne’s mind, fear of Mal Reynolds or the completely natural reaction to having a pretty girl just about ordering him into bed with her?

He’d been born male long before he was Mal’s mercenary. With a helpless sigh, he surrendered and moved over to the bed. “Mal don’t never hear about this, all right?”

“Who’s gonna tell him?” she said, beaming with triumph, reaching up to unbutton his shirt. “Not me.”

“And no usin’ this to blackmail me the next time you don’t wanna do dishes or take the trash out or-” Hands again! Damn, that girl was quick with those.

“Stop worryin’ so much,” she giggled. “Kiss me already.”

Already broke all of Mal's rules, already damned, might as well enjoy his last night in the 'verse. He started kissing right where her throat met her jawline and worked his way down, her squirming under his mouth to shrug out of her shirt again. He forced himself to go extra slow, teasing her, cause if he had to go plumb crazy tonight why shouldn't she, ever-so-gradually working his mouth down to her waistband and only then pausing, glancing up to meet her eyes as he tugged the trousers off.

She nodded feverishly. "Suo-yo duh doh shr-dang, Jayne, don't stop!"

He chuckled way back low in his throat as he bent his head again and went back to kissing, around her hip bones and down to her thighs until she squealed in frustrated protest. He grinned to himself as he shifted up and turned his tongue and his attention to where she wanted it. Hadn't never been called a tease before.

After a few minutes of increasing sighs and whimpers, he felt fingers tugging at his hair. He glanced up, catching his breath, and saw her looking down at him, sweat on her face and hunger in her eyes.

"C'mon," she murmured, tracing her fingers over his face. "Inside now. Please?"

For the first time in his entire life of crawling into bed with women, he hesitated. One more thing to worry about, and gorramit, why wouldn't Mal get out of his head and let him rut in peace?

"What are you waiting for?" she asked, an edge creeping into her voice, her hands slipping down to lands further south than his face.

"We- we ain't doin' that unless you can tell me you got yourself taken care of," he said, trying to force thoughts and words coherently through the pounding of blood in his ears.

"Huh?" She looked at him like he was crazy; hellfire, he must be crazy.

"Captain ain't gonna let no babies on Serenity unless they're Zoe's, and that's just cause he's afraid of her. So I ain't..."

"Jayne. I'm a little offended you keep thinkin' about Mal while we're gettin' it on."

"I'm not thinkin' about Mal, I'm thinkin' about me, and keeping my skin in one piece, and-" She moved her hands again, and he gasped.

"Quit thinking. It's taken care of."

It was gorram near impossible to think when she was doing that. "Sure?"

"Real sure." She shifted under him, wrapping her legs around his hips. "C'mon."

He gave in, closing his eyes and slipping into her, feeling her shudder and gasp happily under him, and oh hellfire, he'd confess, he'd thought about Kaylee sometimes down there in his bunk at night but he never thought it'd be like this, never thought they'd fit so gorram right...

She was making little happy noises mixed up with words, right next to his ear, and they faded in and out of his attention as they moved against each other, but then one sentence came through loud and clear.

"...and then tomorrow you go back to bein' my mean ol' big brother..."

He froze. "Jien tah duh guai, girl!" He pushed himself up on his arms, glaring down at her in shock. "Now is a hell of a time to go and say something like that!"

"Oh. Sorry. My protective older cousin?"

He stared down at her a little dangerously, and her eyes widened. "Oh! I mean, my completely nonrelated strong sexy mercenary crewmate. Who isn't related to me. At all."

He kept glaring, but started to move again. "I must be out of my ruttin' mind," he muttered. She just laughed and pulled his head down for a kiss. Her mouth tasted like strong backworld whiskey. He loved that taste. That must be why he was kissing back.

Like usual, it ended with a low growl and a grunt for him, and a breathy sort of sigh for her. He eased himself off of her and flopped onto his back on the lumpy little mattress, willing his breath to even out and his heart to steady. "Mmm," she sighed, rolling over onto her stomach. "That was shiny."

"Yeah. Was that." He swallowed and stared up at the ceiling in the dark. "Get some sleep now. I ain't carrying you back to the ship in the morning."

She chuckled into the pillow. "Don't worry, Jayne. We shall never speak a' this again..."

"You're damn right."

She laughed again, trailing off into smoother deeper breathing as she fell asleep. He waited, counting heartbeats, until he was sure she was out. He slipped one arm under her body and flipped her over onto her back. No point saving her from the barroom just to let the pillow steal her breath overnight.

He tugged the coverlet up to her chin, tucking it around her carefully. "Crazy gorram girl. Can't hold your drink," he muttered, reaching down to brush the stray strands of hair off of her face. His hand lingered just a moment on her cheek. "Crazy little Kaylee."

He shook his head and walked back over to his chair by the door, settling himself with his head to the side. Didn't seem likely anyone was going to bust through the door now, but better safe than sorry.

He watched her shift in her sleep, lips curving up in a satisfied little smile. Kaylee. Always sweet dreams.

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