Jayne's never been real good with people. It weren't always that he didn't want to be, but after a while, a body just stops trying. There's nothing wrong with being good with your own self, being able to do what you need.
He ain't used to people treating him like he's got some worth, except when he's got a gun pointing at them. Then, they look at him real serious, and usually real scared, and that means he's getting what needs to be got.
He figures the first time someone took him serious, but without the fear, was when Mal offered him a job. It was right weird, almost fun, watching Mal and Zoe watch him and the gun, real careful-like.
Others would maybe have been trying to bluff their way outta scared shitless. Not Mal though. He just watched, calm, and offered him a job, acted like maybe Jayne wouldn't let him down.
At least, not for a little while.
And so far, it's been true. Mal lets him know when he gets too close to the line. But, even with all the bossing, Mal's never given Jayne a real reason to think about moving on from Serenity. Not until the rutting Tams came on board, anyway.
They're enough to make Jayne think hard on leaving some days, which means he'd be leaving the best job he's ever had. Almost like family some days - cranky pissy, stupid annoying, but still. Like they all tolerate each other, beyond the job. Even Jayne. Well, most days, anyway.
Not that he much cares. Family causes problems, causes a man to forget to look out for number one. It gets him all tangled and conflicted. Jayne ain't sure he likes the way he maybe fits into Serenity's crew-family.
He's in Inara's weird-ass smelling shuttle now, and he's real sure he don't fit in there. Space feels too gorram small to hold him, especially with others all around him.
Kaylee's fretting the worst. "Think we'll find something?"
He's got no answer, so he just shrugs. Inara puts her hand on Kaylee's arm, leans close, says, "I hope so."
It's interesting - hot - to watch them for a minute.
The Preacher just prays, the same words muttered over and over, and Jayne's getting sick of hearing it. Praying won't do no good, not to them, not to Mal. He thinks about the look on Mal's face just before they all left Serenity.
Jayne had been real careful, sealing everything up and prepping a suit for Mal. Didn't have to -- Kaylee could have done it, or Zoe would have, if she hadn't been all torn up or whatever. Instead, Jayne did, and he made sure Mal knew everything was as good for him as it was going to get.
It's crowded and hot in the shuttle, and the smell don't make it any better. Jayne is starting to feel itchy in his own skin. Now Kaylee's asking,
"What about the captain?"
When they get the signal from Zoe and the other shuttle and they turn back, it's kind of a relief. Not that he thinks about it too much. It's unsettling.
But after, he watches Mal more close. Not the way he watched before, just looking out for trouble. Different, 'cause he wants to know what Mal's doing. He ain't never met another captain that would want to go down with his boat like that. Mal might have made noises about being there in case someone found their beacon, but Jayne ain't stupid enough to believe that, no matter what them others might think.
Mal notices the watching, and he don't keep quiet about it.
"You got some kind of bee in your bonnet, Jayne?"
"I see you watching me all the gorram time lately. Why?"
He shrugs. "Nothin' else to watch." Which is a gorram lie, because if he had any right sense, he'd be watching Zoe (careful-like, 'cause she don't take it so well), or Kaylee when she's all mussed up in the engine room, or Inara, when she ain't working.
Hell, even Simon's prettier than Mal, and bugging him's sure to make for better laughs. But Jayne doesn't find them all that interesting these days. He's watching Mal, trying to figure out something he can't quite figure.
"Well, it's unnerving. I ain't your entertainer. Watch something else." But there's no fire to the words. It's like Mal's saying them by reflex.
Jayne looks away anyway. But he don't stop watching. He don't think he can. 'Cause the problem is, he thinks he wants to touch.
Problem with being on a ship is, there's a lot of downtime. Sure, things get messy when they make landfall, and sometimes they find problems out in the Black. But mostly on ship it's quiet, and Jayne never has been good with too much rutting quiet.
It's one of those nights, between jobs, between planets, and he's bored. He kills time by cleaning his guns, and has a few drinks in his room. After a while that gets dull too, so he wanders up to see what's happening. But he can't find anyone. Wash and Zoe are on the bridge, heads close, words soft, and Jayne ain't interrupting that vibe, not because he's nice, but because it's downright squeamish-making.
Doc and Kaylee and River ain't nowhere, which is confounding, 'cause there ain't many places to hide. And Shepherd Book's on some meditating kick, and he don't want to be bugged.
That leaves Mal, who's sitting in the kitchen, looking about as bored as Jayne feels, only less drunk.
Jayne sits down near him, leaning his chair back, thinking about another drink. "'s quiet."
"Need to get some kind of entertainment on board. Maybe you could get us a whore, keep her around."
Mal never takes his ideas serious. But Jayne ain't just interested in whores. "I got other ideas."
Mal looks suspiciously at him. "I don't recall ever really liking your ideas, Jayne."
He shrugs. Leans closer. "Might like this one."
There's this look on Mal's face, and Jayne ain't sure what to think of it. Like interest, but also disgust, like he can't figure himself what he wants. "You got more to say on it?"
Jayne leans back again, reaches down to his boot, and draws out his very favourite throwing knife. "You like knives?"
Maybe it's him, but Mal looks relieved and disappointed at the same time.
They set up a target board in the cargo bay. Knife throwing is one of Jayne's very best skills. It's fun -- he loves the way they feel in his hand, the way his arm makes a smooth line with the knife as he reaches back.
Mal ain't so bad himself, but Jayne is winning. When it comes to the weapons, Jayne knows he'll always win.
"Didn't know you were so good at this." Mal is kind of smiling at him, surprised, impressed maybe. "Should've guessed."
Jayne shrugs. "Don't get much chance to use 'em on the jobs we pull. Knives are for them quieter situations, when you got the drop on a body. We don't seem to be in them much." It's a little dig, because Mal thinks he wins with the planning, but the way Jayne sees it, Mal's plans are most often a pile of rotting shit. The crew's just lucky that so far they've had the firepower to get out of the violence that always seems to ensue.
"You don't seem much for subtlety."
It's got its uses, though Jayne will never say. He reaches around behind a spare crate, pulls out the bottle he keeps stashed there, takes a drink, hands it to Mal. "Maybe."
After a while, they've both near to finished the bottle, and are sitting on the floor, Mal's back up against that same spare crate. He's telling some war story, and as far as Jayne can tell, Mal thinks it's real funny. But war stories ain't his thing, all that heroism and stupidity, and half-way through, he decides the being subtle only takes a body so far.
He's the one holding the bottle at the moment, so he sets it down, careful-like, and then just launches himself at Mal, grabbing whatever he can. He ain't entirely sure he won't get punched in the mouth for this, but can't know without trying.
Mal's head hits the floor hard, and Jayne's kind of sorry for that, but it ain't his fault Mal's reaction times are all slowed.
He doesn't get punched in the mouth (not that Mal can hit him real hard anyway), and he won't let Mal kiss him on the mouth either.
"You shoulda learned from that woman."
Mal's hands get busy, pulling down those suspenders he always wears, unbuckling his pants. "I don't figure you're wearing any drug-filled lipstick. Plus, I know you a little better than her."
Just because Mal knows him doesn't mean he should trust him, but Jayne doesn't figure now's the time to say it. So instead, he just pulls off his shirt and says, "Yeah, I ain't real fond of lipstick."
They don't get naked, because the floor's hard and cold, and probably Jayne should've dragged them down to his bunk. But they're here now, and it's kind of funny, thinking on him and Mal like this where anyone could come and see. Hell, people might be watching right now. He wouldn't be surprised if that rutting crazy girl was lurking around somewhere.
It ain't the best sexing he's ever had, but it's been a while since he had any, 'specially with another man. It's good, Mal's hands all over him, their legs tangled up, cocks lined up nice. Mal flips him over somehow, and that's fun for a space, but then Jayne rolls them over again, almost hitting his head against the corner of another crate.
It's good, the breathing hard, and Mal's mouth on his neck, not gentle. They should've done this before, and Jayne can't quite figure why they didn't.
After, Mal smiles, his eyes not quite focused, but somehow smug. "Knew you were watchin' for a reason."
Yeah, well, maybe that was one of them.
After, things get uncomfortable. There's two reasons Jayne can give. First is that he wants to do it again. Second is that Mal's pretending it never happened.
He shoulda known. Mal, he doesn't like to be touched. Just likes to have the little song and dance he and Inara got going. Jayne can't figure it, because it's as clear as day that Inara ain't never going to give Mal what he wants. And he wouldn't take it if she offered.
He tries to bring it up once, after he and Mal are all sobered and cleaned up and have parted ways. Tries to suggest they might be good for more regular sexing, just to keep the edge off. When it's dull.
Mal looks at him like he's insane. Like that one time when he tried to trade Vera for Saffron. "It was a one-time thing, Jayne."
Hell. It ain't like he's looking for commitment and teatime. Might be nice, though, for Mal to take him serious once. Without being drunk.
"It were fun."
Mal just turns away, saying, "Fun ain't working. I'm busy trying to get us work."
Shoulda known. Mal, he gets all funny about sex and women, but Jayne figured it might be different with him. He ain't no woman, and Mal knows what he can do.
Things sour between them a bit, not like it were ever real friendly. But that's normal. He and Mal have off days and good days. Just, it's a series of off days now.
The others pick up on it. Zoe watches suspicious-like, like she's trying to figure out what he did. Kaylee tries to be extra nice, but she's nervous. Simon glares. Wash ignores him.
Hell. He should've known sex and Mal just made for aggravation.
After the engine blows, after the cargo bay, Jayne makes a decision.
He figures it's best to cut loose on his own again soon. He ain't never had to deal with the weirdness he's seen since he hooked up with Serenity; the doc and his sister don't much help them slip under the radar the way their kind need to.
It's been on his mind for a while, even if he's been careful not to let it show too much. Still, he hasn't wanted to let Mal down right yet -- he hasn't had a good reason to cut himself off from this gig.
River coming at him with the knife gives him the final excuse. Suddenly, it don't matter about Mal; who cares if there's some kind of respect there? Turning in the Doc and his sister will mean more money that he's ever imagined. More even than the job on Canton would have given. He reckons it'll be easier too. Just a matter of contacting the right people once they get to Ariel.
The decision is easier than he thought it would be. Way back when, he hadn't taken up the law man on his offer, but this is different. This is Jayne, working for himself, the way he likes best. He won't have to team up with a law man, the kind he doesn't like any more than Mal does.
Then, he hadn't been quite ready to leave Mal. He was still trying to figure out why he'd joined up with Serenity's crew in the first place. The cut and the room were decent, but right away, there'd been something else.
As Simon stitches him up, and Mal ignores Jayne's anger, Jayne realizes that it no longer matters why he joined the crew.
He don't care. Whatever hold Mal had on him, it hasn't stuck. There's no point to staying with Serenity, and the crazy stunts they all pull. Jayne almost longs for the standard dangers he used to deal with. Deranged law men, Reavers, fake wives: none of these he's used to. He can't help but think some of the stuff they have to deal with are partly Mal's fault, him being all hung up on honour and hating the Alliance in a way that makes him crazy.
Jayne ain't interested in hate. He just wants what's his due, and Mal ain't ever going to give him that. He figures that turning Simon and River into the law will mean he'll get everything he deserves. He's just got to figure out how he's gonna do that without Mal finding out.
So, he almost laughs when Simon comes up with a plan that makes it easy for Jayne to hand them over. Instead though, he concentrates on learning his lines.
"I'll get it right, quit frettin'," he says, when Mal and Zoe look at him like he's a rutting retard. Those looks just make it easier to follow through on his decision to finish with Mal, grab that reward and get gone.
Won't need respect from people like Mal when he has the reward money. The money will bring a respect of its own.
Summary: Jayne's never been real good with people.
Notes: Set during the series. Continuing in the quest to show luvmax1 the lure of Jayne/Mal.