Jayne knows he and Mal don't see eye to eye all that often, and it ain't just 'cause Mal's a few inches shorter. Mal's got a way about him, something that rubs Jayne wrong some days. So they butt heads, though Jayne hasn't pushed too hard. It's early days still, him being on this crew, but so far it seems like maybe one of his better gigs. Wouldn't pay to mess it up, least not yet.

Jayne pushes at Mal mostly to keep him on his toes. That, and it's fun, some days, to get Mal riled up.

There are two kinds of situations, though, when they see things basically the same way. First is when they're drunk. That ain't too often, Mal set on being captain and being in control so much. Second is when they're getting shot at. Or are otherwise stuck up in a tussle of some sort. Him and Mal, they get along real well then.

"Jayne!" Mal yells, as his gun fails on him.

And Jayne's on it, he don't need telling. He just pulls out the extra gun he's carrying, and tosses it at Mal.

Mal catches it easily, like his hands were just aching to get a hold of it.

Jayne nods and throws over some ammo too. The he gets back to shooting at the folk who've got them holed up in an alley in the shit-end of this crap town. At least it's an alley with things to shelter behind.

Some days, when they get into firefights like this, it's almost fun. Mal gets a wild look to his face, something a little bit crazy. Sure, Mal and Zoe fought in the war together, they've got that binding them, but when Mal gets like this, Jayne knows it ain't Zoe he wants at his side.

Zoe, she takes everything so serious. She plans, she sticks to business. She don't enjoy a good brawl the way Mal can. The way Jayne does most times. When Mal's in the brawling kind of mood, Jayne's his man. Still, it's best to say a few words on the subject.

"Why'd you have to go and pick a fight?" Jayne yells, over the gunfire. Had been perfectly good, in the bar. Quiet, decent drinks, and then Mal, he had to go and start causing trouble. Jayne shoots and hits another guy who just falls to the ground, almost slow-motion. Ducking down behind his crate, he moves just in time to miss a bullet. It hits the wall behind him. Tiny bits of spray, concrete and wood, sting his back and shoulders.

"It's a job!" Mal's grin is huge, and crazy. Makes Jayne wonder what them men out there think of it. It ain't quite a stable look; it's probably real off-putting.

"You started it. In the bar! It's a bar fight gone sour!" He aims again, shoots. Shot hits its mark. Course, it would. He practices for a good reason.

"Not quite!" Mal ducks down low behind his own crate, and quits shooting. His face crinkles up in what Jayne figures is supposed to be a conspiratorial look.  "We're heroically ridding this town of a dangerous gang of brigands! Can't you tell?"

He stops firing for a moment, sticks his head up higher, and takes a good look. Far as Jayne can tell, they're just the usual scum. Tattered clothes, missing teeth, crap guns. Nothing he ain't seen – and shot at – a hundred times before. "Nope."

Mal looks back around his own crate, and shoots two in a row. They ain't killing shots, but it slows the men down a little. "They've been causing all manner of trouble with the local ladies and gents. Thieving from shops, raiding livestock, stealing kids!" He pauses, ducks down around the other side of the crate, shoots from a new angle. "Terrorising the hardworking folk, or so I've heard!"

Jayne shakes his head, shoots one of the guys Mal only wounded, and yells. "Why didn't we do it on the sly?" Head out to their camp or wherever, take them out in the dark. Maybe with explosives.

Mal fires three fast shots, hitting two guys only. "Doesn't seem like fair play, doing it like that!" He shoots again, takes out a third. "And we gotta have some fun sometime, right? Figured you maybe" he raises his voice a little, 'cause the gunshots are getting real regular, "could do with a day out!"

Grinning, Jayne nods. Yeah. Makes sense now why Mal didn't ask Zoe to come out drinking with them. She don't consider this kind of action fun. Well, most days.

Seems like a whole acre of this gang though, and maybe her firing arm would've come in handy. Soon as Jayne shoots one down, another comes around the corner to replace him. It's almost worrisome, but hell, no time for worrying. Though he could do with some grenades right about now.

Mal should've told him the plan, instead of just pretending they were going drinking.

He keeps firing, reloads, fires some more. Mal's right across from him, shooting too. Some days, it's like they don't even have to talk to do what needs to get done. It's starting to look good too, only a few more left, he guesses. Gang can't be the size of the whole town, can it?

And then things get hectic. Out of nowhere, there's smoke coming down on them. Smoke-bomb most likely, and he can't see real well. It's making him cough, and he can hear it's the same for Mal. He can't see to fire worth shit, but it sounds like there're more still coming at them than he thought.


"Just keep firing," Mal yells. That ain't exactly advice Jayne needs to be given.

Takes a while, but the smoke clears a little, and he figures he's lucky he ain't been shot yet. Squinting, he can see the lumpy shapes that still need to be taken down. It ain't hard to hit them. They don't seem to be so good at dodging. But they're still coming. And Jayne's spent bullets are thick on the ground over there, but he's running out of fresh ammo.

He makes a few more shots, mostly hitting where he wanted, and then that's it. He's out of bullets, and then so is Mal, and things ain't no longer going smooth; ain't mostly fun any more. He's pulling out his first knife, ready to throw it, when another man falls. He didn't shoot or throw nothing – a quick look over at Mal gets him a shrug. He hears another shot, and out of the corner of his eye sees another man falls straight down.

Could be the law. But so far they ain't seen hide nor hair of any lawmen here. 

A few more shots, and it's all clear. He stays hunkered down for a space, listening for what might come next. Then, he sees her walk around a corner. Straight, tall, and with all that hair, there ain't no mistaking who it is.

"Sir?" Her voice just rings out through the alley. She's got a hell of a set of lungs, Zoe.

"Zoe! Good to see you! Nice shooting!"

She stands there, a look on her face that reminds Jayne of his ma, when she would get annoyed but unsurprised at his antics. Exasperated, she called it. "I heard stories of a fight." She pauses. "Well. I heard the <i>fight</i>. Hard not to. Thought I'd come along and see."

Mal gets up, walks towards her. He moves nice and loose, like he knows everything that's coming his way, and he likes it. Though he can't see Mal's face, Jayne just knows he's still wearing that crazy grin. "Good thinking. Jayne?"

He pulls himself out from behind the crate, and walks forward, checking to make sure no one is going to suddenly sit up and start causing trouble.  Takes him a few minutes, but eventually he can say, "They're all dead." He moves to stand next to Mal, not too close, but close enough.

Mal nods, then reaches out and claps him on the shoulder. "Good shooting. Knew I hired you for a reason." He keeps his hand on Jayne's shoulder, gripping hard, shaking a little. That don’t happen real often. Mal ain't one for touching, though some days he likes to talk. Like he is now, saying  "Now, that was fun. Good clean fun."

"Fun, Sir?"

Jayne snorts at her tone. Real disapproving, mostly resigned. He just smirks at Mal, whose eyes go a little wide. Wide to match his smile.

"Fun. For money!" Reaching into his coat, Mal pulls out a wad of cash. "How many times do we get jobs like that? And this is only half. Mayor's set to give us the rest when he comes and sees the body count. Should be any time now."

And it is. The mayor shows up real fast. Jayne knows he's got to be mayor, 'cause he looks just like one – a  little squirrelly man with a wide smile, wearing a stupid hat. He's followed by a couple of what Jayne figures are the upstanding folk in town. There's a spiel about how they're real thankful, and that they didn't have any lawmen left, the gang went and killed them all. It's safe again in town, they say, all thanks to Mal and his crew.

Then they hand over a boatload of cash, and yeah. Some days maybe it pays to pretend to be heroes.

Mal waits until mayor and his folk go on their way, talking about clean up and burial and maybe a party; then he counts out the money, hands Jayne and Zoe their cuts right off. That's one of the decent things about Mal. He don't ever play around with the money; there's no funny business. He'd said 10 percent, and he'd meant it. Better than some crews Jayne has worked with; and hell, his own plans, when he'd worked for himself, they'd never seemed to fall into place.

"So. Drink?" Mal's hand is back on his shoulder, just briefly.

Hell, yeah. That'd be decent. That bar they were in before was better than some he's seen. "Yep."

Mal claps his hands together, rubs them a little. Jayne stares at those hands, for no good reason that he can figure. "Heard tell there might be a few free rounds for folk who dealt with the gang.



She just shakes her head, smallest of smirks on her face. "I think I'll pass."

It ain't surprising.

"Your loss."

"I've got my own plans, Sir." She holds out her hand. "Want me to take the rest of that pay back to Serenity?"

"Good plan." Mal hands it over, keeping some bills back. Good. Jayne ain't going to be buying all the rounds if it turns out the drinks got to be paid for. "You give Wash and Kaylee their cuts, now."

Short nod, and she's walking away. Jayne's got his suspicions about what else she'll be giving Wash, no matter how she pretends that he ain't worth her time. Nothing in him will ever understand what a woman like that sees in the little man, but it ain't his way to think on it too much.

They head to the bar, walking close to each other, stepping over bodies and around bits and pieces that got shot up in the fight. Jayne's got money in his pocket, he's made it through another fight without being hurt, and he's maybe got someone next to him who actually likes being there. All of it together, it's rare. It makes a nice package.


They drink for a good long time. It's late by the time Mal starts going on about how maybe they'd best head back to the ship.

Mal was right, the rounds were free. People, they'd smiled at them, said decent things, enough that Jayne had started to feel a touch of uncomfortableness. Ain't normal, folk looking at him grateful-like. Hell, it were just a job.

But he took the drinks. So did Mal. And Mal had kept touching him, kept smiling at him, kept telling stupid stories and laughing. After a few drinks, it'd been enough that Jayne started thinking maybe there was one other kind of situation when he and Mal might see eye to eye.

The idea was enough that he didn't go searching for some willing girl interested in a little fun with a hero. Instead, he figured maybe, if he was reading things right, Mal might be looking for another kind of fun tonight.

He's thinking on it as they stumble back to Serenity. Mostly, it's Mal stumbling, but Jayne ain't altogether sober. Maybe that's why he's got these kinds of thoughts.

He ain't been thinking on Mal in the sexing way, mostly 'cause the captain spends so much time fussing about Inara. Jayne's seen those looks; but maybe that don't mean everything, 'cause Jayne himself looks at Inara an awful lot.

Ain't no one in the 'verse, he figures, who wouldn't. She's an eyeful.

"Why you grinning?" Mal asks, stopping. "Looking like you got thoughts."

Jayne smirks. "Yep."

"Hey! I ain't paying you for thoughts." And ain't those just words that Jayne's heard before? From lots of folk. But Mal says it with a laugh, and his words are sliding into one another, so instead of hitting him, Jayne laughs too.


Zoe left the ship open for them. Inside, it's a quiet as you please. Mal hits the switch, the door closes up, and then it's just Jayne and Mal, and Mal standing awful close.

Ah, hell. He's already passed up the chance for one of the local girls. So, it's no use not trying. Even if he does get some teeth maybe knocked loose.

Mal's turning to him, saying, "So, Jayne, how –"

Jayne just cuts him off, launches himself over, pushes Mal right up against the wall. Knocks the wind out of him, Jayne feels hot breath puff past his ear. But Mal ain't protesting, just kinda wincing and wheezing a little.

It's expected, so Jayne says, "Sorry," about winding Mal, and then pops open the button to Mal's pants. He reaches in, down, and gets a good handful. A real nice handful.

"Just my ribs," Mal responds, voice hitching a little. Then he ain't speaking so much as grunting, and thrusting up against Jayne's hand.

All in all, it ain't the fanciest sex he's ever had. Only so much a mostly drunk body can do up against a wall. By the time it's over, Jayne's still got most of his clothes on. Mal's slumped down on the floor, face a little red, one hand hooked in Jayne's belt. Jayne's fairly slumped over himself.

Mal, he gave as good as he got. And Jayne's got no complaints. Maybe next time, they'll get naked, get more than a little hands-on.

"Guess I know what I pay you for after all."

That's surprising though, what with Mal always calling Inara a whore. Jayne's never had occasion to see Mal go and find himself paid relief; didn't think he was one for it. If that's the deal though, if Mal's changing the rules here, maybe he ought to want more than 10 percent. "For the sex?"

Mal unhooks his hand, reaches up, and punches Jayne in the shoulder. It don't hurt, though Jayne knows from experience that Mal can hit hard when he wants. "No, idiot. For thinking of the idea."

Jayne grins, and pushes himself up the wall until he's standing; he's still a little shaky on his feet. "I got a powerful brain."

Pairing: Mal/Jayne
Rating: R
Summary: Jayne has a powerful brain.
Notes: For queenbitter for SpaceSanta 2005.

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