Rule Twenty-Three
by Twinkledru J.

"Now look," Mal said calmly (extremely calmly, he thought, for a man forced to stare down a giggling, blushing Kaylee and a naked, glowering Jayne), "I tend to think of myself as being more than my share of fair and lenient."

Jayne opened his mouth, presumably to offer some manner of smartass comment, and promptly howled in pain. Kaylee had hopped off of the table, where she'd been sitting since Mal caught them, and stomped on his foot, and with her boots still on and his feet bare... well, it was clear which of them got the short end of the stick in that little arrangment.

Mal simply looked at Jayne coolly. "Jayne, is there anything you would like to add to this conversation?"

Jayne was too busy glowering at Kaylee to answer.

"Jayne, the Cap'n asked you a question," Kaylee said, her face solemn and her eyes wide.

"No, sir," Jayne forced out through gritted teeth. "Nothing at all to say whatsoever, sir."

The Captain seemed to consider this for a moment, and finally accepted it. "Good," he said. "Now, as I was saying, I think I'm a pretty reasonable man when it comes to... this sort of thing. After all," Mal smiled slightly, "this was how I found myself a mechanic in the first place."

Kaylee looked down, blushing even as she smiled. This did nothing to improve Jayne's mood. I get a lecture and she gets a job, he thought irritably. No justice to be found 'round here.

"However," Mal continued, and Jayne felt somewhat better to see Kaylee's smile shrink. She looked at the Captain guiltily. "However, I don't think a little respect for -- " He paused. "It don't exactly seem like more than common sense -- " Another pause.

"No more ruttin' in the galley, sir?" Kaylee asked glumly.

"Exactly." Mal paused again, and an expression of miserable realization sank onto his face. "'No more?'" he repeated.

"She's just kiddin', Captain," Jayne said hastily, and glowered at Kaylee some more. "She means, uh, no more, after this time."

Mal seemed more than ready to argue as he looked from Jayne to Kaylee several times. Seemed to be looking a lot harder at Jayne, though. Weren't fair, that. Kaylee, gorram her, had suggested this little escapade while they were eating together earlier. Then she'd pulled out -- well, point was, it wasn't Jayne's fault. A man could only take so much. But god forbid Mal should see that. For such a shrewd observer of his crew, the man was one of the easiest marks for Kaylee's innocent-like act.

At last, the Captain sighed. "Kaylee," Mal asked, "do I want to know what it is you've been hiding behind your back this whole time I've been lecturing you about choosing more carefully just where on this ship you and Jayne get it on?"

"Probably not, sir," Kaylee said with that gorram little sparkly smile thing of hers. "'Tain't loaded, anyhow," she added, looking down at her feet.

Mal opened his mouth, then closed it again. Kaylee, damn her, hadn't stopped smiling.

Ain't no self-respecting man in this wide, wide 'verse as could say no to that. 'Cept apparently that eejit doctor, Jayne thought, and promptly hated his brain for its entirely uncharacteristic affection. "Captain, can we call this over now? I'm cold!" he snapped, very afraid that Mal might catch on to what he was thinking. Mal tended to be much too good at catching onto things where Jayne's brain was concerned.

Mal looked Jayne over long and hard, taking his sweet-ass time to let his gaze wander along down Jayne's naked body. "Yes, Jayne, I can see that."

This time, Kaylee didn't even have the decency to look down as she giggled and blushed. Mal smirked, turned, and strode out.

"Don't see how this is so much funnier for you 'n it is for me," Jayne said grumpily. A predatory smile spread across his face as a realization hit him. "You're the one's now gotta wait for me to -- "

"You shut your filthy mouth!" Kaylee shrieked, even as she did that smile thing again. "Anyhow, means you aren't gettin' none either if I ain't. And I can warm you up in no time."

"Please don't," said a voice from the doorway. Jayne and Kaylee looked up to see Zoe and Wash standing there. Wash looked more than the littlest bit revolted, but Zoe was just smirking, same as the captain had been.

"Well," she said, amending her husband's plea, "not here, at any rate. Or not now. Take your pick."

"And, Jayne, should you two pick the latter, I'd be endlessly obliged if your trousers were back on by the time I find the saucepan I need for making this stew I'm planning," Wash added, ducking beneath the counter and focusing himself entirely on the task of finding pots and pans. "If it's the former, then don't tell me, just skedaddle and get to it."

Jayne and Kaylee skedaddled, taking Jayne's clothes with them.

"Zoe, sweetiekins," Wash called to his wife, peeking back over the counter, "would you mind terribly wiping that table down while I make us our dinner? Maybe getting Simon in here with some sterilizing tools? Possibly something to make us forget we ever saw Jayne naked?"

"Not at all, precious," Zoe answered, grabbing a rag.


"Thought the Captain said -- "

"Mal just don't want us in the galley where anybody could walk in at any time," Kaylee said, tugging on Jayne's hand as she pulled him into the engine room. "The only time anyone besides me comes down here is when there's a problem, and there ain't no problem. 'Sides," she said, stopping and turning around as she grinned wickedly, "I think it's only fair."

With that, she pulled Vera out from behind her back, aiming the unloaded gun at him. "You've got Vera, and I've got Serenity."

"Damn," Jayne said, pulling her closer and going back to work on the buttons down the front of her dress, "you get along too well with other girls, baby. Feel like I should be keepin' you away from Inara and River."

Kaylee rolled her eyes. "Oh, you wouldn't want to see me with Inara?"

"Not," Jayne said, pushing her against the back of the engine, "if I cain't join in."

Kaylee giggled that gorram beautiful, adorable little giggle of hers again. "That, my good Mr. Cobb, may be a possibility you and I will have to pursue further."

As Jayne stripped her dress off of her, he took Vera from her too, setting the gun down carefully (well, as carefully as he could, considering there was a near-naked, smiling Kaylee bare inches away from him) atop Kaylee's dress and his own, long-removed clothes.

"But not right now, right?" Jayne asked quickly, kissing Kaylee's neck. She gave a happy little sigh. "After all -- " he kissed a little higher up her neck now "seems to me -- " her chin "we've had more 'n enough interruptions for right now." With this, he kissed her clumsily on the lips and felt her sag a little against him with a little mm-mm sound.

"Uh-uh," she said, a little breathless, when he finally stopped kissing her. "Not unless Inara walks in right now, anyway."

With the way the day had been going, neither of them could really be blamed for halting and looking at the doorway to the engine room.

But there was no sign of Inara, and so they quickly got right back to the business at hand.


The two of them were pulling clothes back on, Kaylee still grinning broadly, and even Jayne smiling occasionally to catch sight of her, when Mal's voice rang out through the ship. "Attention, Serenity, we have a new rule of shipboard interaction, right after number twenty-two, 'no stabbing'."

"Gorram crazy little -- " Jayne muttered. Kaylee shushed him, whacking him on the stomach.

He glowered at her. She simply looked at him disapprovingly. "Captain's talkin'."

"I can hear him perfectly well," Jayne growled. "Don't give you no cause to be hittin' me."

Kaylee smiled playfully, and raised her arm again. Jayne caught it in midair, and she shrieked as he pushed her against the engine again, his other arm encircling her waist. Their laughter drowned out the rest of Mal's announcement.

"Rule number twenty-three is in effect as of this evening: 'no ruttin' in the galley'."


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