Red

Chapter 3

Things definitely do not get better from there. River tells Kaylee what had happened, so Simon is in the doghouse with his bao bei too, and Kaylee makes him sleep in his bunk for the first time in months. Jayne ignores everyone to the point where Zoe has to tackle and hold him down just to tell him that he's needed for the next job. Mal has no idea what to do with this situation, and so spends most of his time avoiding everyone by staying in his bunk or in the cockpit until River kicks him out. Simon glares daggers between River and Jayne so much that his dinner goes cold every night for a week and a half.

Even after Jayne locks his bunk and puts a metal rod across the door, River still makes her way inside somehow. He spends a good half hour looking for holes in his ceiling, like she was some gorram Earth possum, but soon gives up when River ruttin' materialises behind him despite the locked door and not a gorram hole above them. After recovering from his mini-heart attack, Jayne argues with her to leave, but River is as ornery as a mule and she smiles and sits in the corner of his bunk instead. Jayne cleans his guns and pointedly ignores her. River hums the song softly, Jayne barely hearin' her over his own noise, but it gets under his skin anyways. He can still feel her pressed up against him, taste her on his lips, and he wants it again so ruttin' bad. She's sitting a metre away and all he can hear is the Doc's words accusing him of takin' advantage.

Five nights later, River is in his bunk again, still sitting in the corner, humming away as he cleans his guns yet again. Jayne swears they ain't never been so clean as this afore. He looks over to River, the first time in an hour or two, and sees that she's wearing his red shirt, her knees up to her chest as she rests her head on top of them.

"Hey, that's mine."

"I bought it," River points out.

"You gave it to me."

"Didn't."

"Then why was it in my bunk, on my bed?" Jayne says.

"Accident."

"Shi ma?" Jayne replies, disbelievingly.

River's never shied away from eye contact afore - their kiss proves it - but now, she's lookin' anywhere but him.

She looks like she wants to keep arguing - it's the longest conversation they've had since the kiss - but then she shakes her head. "Bought it for you."

"Then it's mine, and you have'ta take it off," Jayne says.

River grins as if she's won, the same grin she had every night the week before with the card games, and she pulls the shirt off without hesitation. She's bare as the day she was born, as bare as the day he'd first seen her come out of that cryo pod, and Jayne is only vaguely aware that he snaps one of his gun barrels.

"Wa cao," Jayne groans, setting down the rest of the gun before he breaks more, and puts his head in his hands. "Git, River. I ain't gonna take 'vantage."

"You won't be. I will though."

She seems far too comfortable naked, walking over to him like she's still armed to the teeth, and Jayne thinks she might be more dangerous right now than she's ever been afore. River stands in front of him, smiling and waiting for him to join her, and Jayne looks up at her. River holds out her hand, one more chance to tell her to git, one more to give in.

Jayne takes her hand, and River laughs as she pulls him up to stand with her.

...

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