When Jayne and Simon walk into the kitchen, there's a brief moment of silence. And then it starts.
"Oh, my," Book murmurs, but any other words are cut off by Wash's nervous laugh.
"Simon! You didn't tell us you were such a master at cosmetic surgery!" Wash may be talking to Simon, but his eyes are focused on Jayne's chest. "That's – really. Amazing. That you could do it overnight. And so quietly. Without using the infirmary at all. You must be very. Talented."
"Jayne is from Muir's third moon," Simon says quietly.
Wash rolls his eyes. "Yeah. No kidding."
"Husband," Zoe looks torn between laughter and annoyance, "are you staring at Jayne's breasts?"
"I can't help it." Wash glances quickly at Zoe, but apparently he forgot his sense of self-preservation when he dressed this morning. "They're very – jiggly."
"Little man –" Jayne grates out, but it's too late. The room erupts with noise, and Simon can barely keep track.
"Jayne! You never said, but you look real pretty –"
"You keep staring like that, husband and you might find your eyes ain't so –"
"I'm really not certain your hair style works with the curve of your cheekbones, Jayne, but I'm sure we could –"
"I've never met anyone from Muir, though I hear people there are very religious. I understand they have some interesting perspectives on the nature of God –"
" – because I have several wigs, and I'm willing to –"
"Wash. I'm serious."
"I know! They're just! Look at them!"
"We can go shopping!"
Simon glances over, and sure enough, there's fear behind Jayne's eyes at that comment.
"They mix and mix and stir and this is what comes out, and they never know what it will mean –"
"Shut yer mouth, little girl –"
After that, Simon loses track, and he's almost grateful when Mal yells, "Bai-tuo, an-jing-eedyen!"
It works. They all turn towards him, and Simon uses the sudden silence to point Jayne at the table. They both sit, in time for Mal to continue, "I ain't real fond of a riot at my breakfast table."
"But Mal, don't you think –"
"Enough. Jayne's a girl. Woman. Person-thing." He turns to Jayne. "It better not interfere with your job. And get them things," he gestures at Jayne's breasts, "squared away, don't care what you got to do about it. They're distracting my crew." He finishes his breakfast in a few more bites, and pushes himself away from the table. "We land it four hours. Where we have a job. Don't get sidetracked."
He walks to the door, turning just before he leaves. "Simon, Wash, you better not be thinking of pulling a stunt like this too. Shipful of women-folk and me? Spells trouble."
"I believe I am also of the male persuasion," Book says.
But Mal has already turned. Over his shoulder, he says, "You don't count."
There are a few moments of silence after he leaves, and Simon fills it by eating as much as he possibly can. Soon enough – too soon – it starts up again, with Kaylee saying,
"'Get them things squared away'? Did he really say that?"
Setting down her tea, Inara nods. "It's no wonder he has little-to-no success with women. I'm beginning to think that when he is successful, it's an aberration. Perhaps they just feel sorry for him."
Jayne grins, chewing quickly. "Or they wanna kill him and take his ship."
Inara smiles back. "There is that."
For a moment, Simon's surrounded by the sounds of eating, the slide of utensils against bowls. It's blissfully quiet, not quite what he'd expected. He'd guessed wouldn't be bad, but he'd expected Wash to push Jayne's buttons. He'd expected that Kaylee talking about shopping might make Jayne start thinking about murder.
It's all so much calmer than that.
On Osiris, the reaction would have been much more explosive. There would have been recriminations, and accusations, and threats of violence. No one would have used the word 'pretty', or offered hair suggestions.
Finally, Jayne looks at Kaylee, and says, "I gotta go shoppin' when we hit land. But I ain't wearin' pink, or dresses, or somethin' fuzzy or cute. None of that. Zoe. Yer comin' too. Keep her away from the bad stuff. Make sure I get the right kind of – underthings. Or whatever."
"Can I come too? I'm pretty good with, ah, underthings – "
Zoe and Jayne glare at Wash, saying, "No," in unison.
Simon keeps his mouth shut about how precisely unnerving that is.
"And," Jayne continues, turning to Inara, "I ain't wearin' any wigs, so don't talk to me about it again."
"Of course," she replies, smiling gently.
Later, much later, Simon watches as Jayne takes off the results of the day's shopping. The job had gone well – surprisingly easily, Mal had said – and Jayne has apparently spent a good portion of his – her – take on clothing. At least, that's what Kaylee had implied when she'd come into the infirmary to report their findings, "You ain't never gonna guess what we got! All kinds of things! And Jayne didn't even threaten to hurt me none! Maybe the man in one of the shops we went in got a little bruised up, but it weren't hardly nothing, and he was asking for it anyhow!"
Now, Jayne has pants that fit, and shirts – well. The shirts aren't so different. And then there are the small arsenal of – underthings. Half of them are still in bags, a couple of them are on the bed. Simon looks briefly at straps and wires and snaps, and is grateful he wasn't allowed on the shopping trip.
"Kaylee says you gotta have a bunch," Jayne says, pulling off the new blue shirt. "Stopped listenin' as to why, just bought 'em mostly to shut her up. She wanted me to get them fancy ones. With lace. No ruttin' way was that happening. Got me plain ones. Like what Zoe's got."
"Are you sure Zoe would want you to be talking about her –"
Jayne talks right over him, "Except for the ones for special times, when she and Wash are being romatical. You shoulda seen the one she bought today! It were real sexy on –"
"Are your eyes glazing over?"
Simon shakes his head. "Nothing." He looks up at Jayne, and at the black brassier. "So. Ah. It's. Very nice." And it is – black, with the slightest hint of sheen. It's just that he never thought he'd be having this kind of conversation with Jayne.
Jayne shrugs. "Whatever. 's comfortable."
"Oh, thank god," Simon mutters, relieved in a way he can't quite explain.
"It's just – you don't want compliments. About your clothes."
"Why would I?"
That earns him a puzzled look, but eventually, Jayne just shrugs again, and takes off his – her – pants.
Approximately forty seconds later, Simon is flat on his back, Jayne straddling him and working at unbuttoning his shirt.
Halfway through the buttons, Jayne asks, "What? Too fancy to help out?"
Simon shakes his head, still slightly stunned. "No. You just seem to be enjoying yourself."
"Maybe I am."
Simon grins, and settles his hands around Jayne's waist. Jayne's skin is warm, familiar, but the curve – the waist – it's strange.
"This is bizarre. Strange." The words just slip out before he has a chance to think about them.
"Yeah," Jayne says, pushing Simon's shirt open. "You ain't usually happy to just lie there."
"You have curves."
Jayne sits back, and oh. Yes. That's very nice. Simon takes a deep breath, and pushes his hips upwards slightly. "Yeah. I noticed them things when I had to go and spend half my ruttin' cut on new clothes. And when I had to listen to Kaylee goin' on and on about how I'm so lucky I got such a good body." Jayne's voice drops. "'Bout time she noticed. Just never figured it would be about this –"
"Nothin'. We gonna sit around all day chattin', or we gonna get to the action?"
"Um. I can stop talking. For now."
Jayne grins and leans close. "'Bout ruttin' time." And then they're kissing, Jayne's teeth dragging across Simon's lips. Simon reaches up and pulls Jayne closer. Jayne's hand tangles in Simon's hair, and the kiss is hard. It's the slide of tongues, the warmth of skin pressed together, and it isn't strange. Not at all.
Notes: These are a couple of scenes from the same universe as the ficlet Ambuguity Yes. Turns out sometimes Jayne is a girl's name.