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WARNING: If you haven't read the warning on the index page, go back and read it. If you don't, and you don't like what you find here, don't come crying to me.
Title: Oxygen

Author: Eleanor K.

Fandom: Firefly

Pairing: Mal/Jayne

Rating: NC-17

Posted: 22 Nov 2002

Spoilers: for Ariel, minor for Our Mrs. Reynolds.

Email: emungere@gmail.com

Disclaimer: The characters belong to Joss, not me. Jose Molina wrote the script for Ariel, from which there are a few lines quoted, and he is infinitely cool for having done so.

Translations: "go-se" means "dog shit"; "tyen shiao duh" means "god knows", or, literally, "sky knows".

Notes: A big thank you to Phaedra for beta reading.

..___..


*Next time you decide to stab me in the back, have the guts to do it to my face.*

These are the words Jayne is hanging onto, because they mean there will be a next time. A second chance. They mean Mal doesn't plan to leave him in here until the air runs out.

It's already getting thinner. He's sure of it.

It's cold in here too, and his ass is just about numb from sitting on the metal floor for so long. One hour, two hours, he's not sure.

And he thinks, what if Mal forgot?

They should all be eating supper right about now. What if Mal forgot about him? What if he just goes to bed?

The air won't last till morning.

He breathes shallowly, knowing it won't help.

What if Mal didn't mean to save him when he closed the door, but only to give him a better kind of death? Suffocating is better than hard vacuum, he won't argue with that, but--

*Next time.* He said next time. He doesn't mean to kill me. He won't forget. It's Mal. He never forgets anything.

Details. Jayne has never seen such a man for details as the captain. Everything in order, everything in its proper time.

Is this punishment, then?

He knows he's got something coming to him in that category. No way is he going to get off scot-free for this, not after Mal was an inch away from ending him.

He thinks about Mal's cold eyes looking at him through the porthole. Cold and angry, really deep down personal angry, and Mal doesn't get like that often.

*You did this to *me*, Jayne. And that's a fact.*

He thinks about this time on Greenleaf, before the preacher and the fugies and all these complications, when he and the captain and Kaylee went out drinking. Kaylee got herself surrounded by a bunch of local boys hanging on her every word, and Mal was playing pool with some woman and her friends. Jayne had gotten into a game of darts at the back of the room, winning and winning, having the best night in a long time.

He still doesn't know how that guy got up behind him so quiet, but he did, and he was big, and he had friends. Seemed he and his friends thought Jayne was having too much of a good time, winning a little too much, although how he was supposed to be cheating at darts Jayne couldn't figure out.

Here we go again, he was thinking, but he was a little worried this time. Bar fights were one thing, not a problem even with this kind of odds because drunks are never a problem. You just wade through them and smack them around a little and they give up.

Only these guys didn't look drunk, Jayne noted as he sent the guy behind him flying. They looked mean. And there were a lot of them.

He was dealing with one, ducking a punch from another, and suddenly there was a fist coming toward him that he wasn't going to be able to dodge--

--but it never hit. He knocked his opponent's head against a wall and looked up, and there was Mal fighting beside him.

He hadn't expected that. Other crews he'd shipped out with, you were on your own. It was his carelessness that let that guy sneak up behind him, his fight, his problem. Never in a million years would he have expected Mal to help him, but Mal doesn't work on the same rules as other people. They were both hurting by the time it was over, but they won.

They stopped in the town square to wash up in the fountain, Kaylee laughing at their complaints as she cleaned their scrapes and bloody noses. She was bent over, wringing out her hankie in the fountain, and he looked over her head, and Mal was grinning at him. All bloody and beat up, but still grinning at him.

Serenity was supposed to be a temporary gig, but that somehow made it permanent. Even with all of Mal's rules, from cleaning up the kitchen to not killing people who, in Jayne's opinion, need killing, he's never wanted to leave since that night.

What if Mal's going to kick him out for punishment?

No. Next time, he said next time. That means I'm sticking around. Right? Doesn't it?

He shivers, drawing his knees up to his chest. Maybe he would be better off leaving. Maybe Serenity is making him soft. He thinks of the scum he used to work for, of the rat-infested ships where the only time anyone took out the garbage was when it started to move.

And he thinks of everyone on Serenity around the table for supper, eating off clean plates, laughing and talking.

He thinks of their ball games in the cargo bay, of hoisting little Kaylee up so she can make the shot, of Wash slapping his shoulder when he misses, telling him he'll get it next time.

These little things, these little unbelievable things.

If Mal doesn't plan to kick him out, then what?

This thing that he did is looming large in front of him, and he can't imagine what punishment would be enough. He gets it now. Maybe it was okay to do it to the doc and to his crazy sister-- though he's not one hundred percent sure even of that now-- but he did it to Mal, too, and to Zoe and Wash and Kaylee, sweet little Kaylee who's so gone on the doc.

When he was a boy, things were simpler. His father used his big old leather belt, or, if Jayne had been really bad, the hickory switch. It hurt, sure it hurt, but then it was over and everything was right again.

He can't think of a way to put this right.

He sees the hurt on Mal's face again, and he can't believe he put that there, can't believe that anything he does matters that much to Mal.

He presses the heels of his hands against his eyes, trying to block it out. His chest burns. So does his throat. The air is going faster than he thought.

His breath comes in gasps, and he tries to slow down, but can't, just can't. He grabs his throat, squeezing, like he can make the air go slower that way. He can't make himself let go until his vision starts to blur and darken.

The comm unit lies where he dropped it, and he fumbles for it. Maybe Mal is out there, listening. Maybe somebody is.

He has the talk button depressed, but his throat locks up, and he just breathes into it, hearing the sound amplified, overlaid with static.

"Mal?" he says finally. "Are you out there? Can you hear me? You got to let me out. The air's going." And, in a whisper, "Please, Mal. Please."

There is a click, a buzz, and the door swings open.

He doesn't wait to stand up even, but rolls out, scrambling as far from the airlock as he can get. He looks around.

The cargo bay is empty.

He checks the controls, sees the timer was set to open the door at ten. It is later than he thought.

After a few deep breaths, he closes the airlock door and jogs up the stairs. He is going to Mal's quarters. He doesn't know quite why. He thinks maybe he should let it be until morning, but he can't. He has to go now. Has to see Mal's face. Right now.

He knocks and hears a voice call up, asking who it is. He replies and is told to come down.

Mal is sitting on the edge of his bunk, his face blank.

"What do you want, Jayne?"

For a moment Jayne's mouth works and nothing comes out. What does he want, Mal says, like nothing's going on, like everything's normal, like Mal didn't almost kill him a few hours ago.

"I... I wanted..."

"Spit it out. I ain't got all night."

"I just wanted to know what you're gonna do with me."

"Do with you?"

"Yeah. For what I did."

"For... You mean punishment?"

"Yeah."

Mal shakes his head. "Nothing, Jayne. I'm doing nothing. The only thing I'll say is that you're not to tell anyone else what you did. It'll only stir things up around here that are best left unstirred."

Jayne frowns. "You mean you're not gonna do *anything* to me?"

"You're a little old for me to turn you over my knee, and I'm not your father in any case. And like I said, I don't have a keel. You did this, and you're going to have to live with it. That's all."

Somehow this is worse than garbage detail for a month, worse than Mal's anger and hurt eyes, much worse than a whipping. His legs feel rubbery, and he sinks into a chair.

"But... you're not gonna kick me out, right? I get to stay?"

Mal's face softens just a touch. "I'm not going to kick you out. That means you want to stay, I guess. I wasn't sure you would."

"I want to stay. I do. I want to..." He trails off, looking at Mal's face. "You're still mad at me."

Mal sighs. "Yeah, Jayne, I'm still mad at you. That's going to last a while."

No. He can't take Mal walking around being mad at him and hiding it the whole time. His eyes travel around the room and find a solution.

He grabs Mal's belt off the table and holds it out until Mal takes it.

"What's this for?"

Jayne doesn't answer. Just takes his pants down and braces his hands on the bed.

The belt falls on the bed in front of him.

"I'm not going to hit you."

"You're mad. It'll make you feel better."

Jayne is jerked up violently by a hand on the back of his collar. He stumbles and catches himself on Mal's shoulder, looks into the captain's eyes. Not blank any more, but cold and angry.

"For fuck's sake, Jayne, I don't hurt people 'cause I'm angry with them, all right? I'm not going to beat on you. It would *not* make me feel better."

"You're hurting me anyway," Jayne hears himself whisper. "You're hurting me anyway, Mal. I'm sorry, but sorry ain't enough. I don't know what to do."

The grip on his collar eases until Mal's hand is lying on the back of his neck.

"Pull up your pants and get out of here," Mal says, taking a step back.

"But..."

Mal turns away. "Get out."

Jayne hesitates, looking at the hunch of Mal's shoulders, the tense line of his back. He wants... something. He reaches out, his hand an inch away from Mal's back, and stops.

What the tyen shiao duh is he doing? He got into all this trouble in the first place by not doing what he was told. He'll do what Mal said; he'll go, and in the morning things will be back to normal.

They will.

He does up his pants and climbs up to the hall. It's only a few steps to his own quarters, and he slides down the ladder, slamming the hatch shut. His breath is coming as fast as it was in the airlock, heart slamming against his chest.

He strips off the scratchy medic's uniform and wads it up in his hands, squeezing it tightly. He thinks of Mal, with his blank face and cold eyes.

It is a long time before he can sleep.

***

Kaylee makes pancakes for breakfast the next day. They look to be flat circles of protein, but there is syrup, and no one is complaining.

Jayne had meant to sit as far away from Mal as he could get, but by the time he gets there, the chair next to Mal's is the only one open. He sits, warily.

Mal nods to him. It's not much, but Jayne feels himself start to relax. Maybe this will be okay after all. No one can stay mad forever, not even the captain.

By the end of the meal, he is laughing at Wash's jokes, teasing the doc about that prissy way he has of eating, with the bites cut up so small you could fit them in a bird's mouth. If Mal seems quieter than usual, well, a man's got a right to be quiet if he wants.

He follows Mal when he leaves the table, thinking to apologize one more time, just to make sure things are good between them again. He passes the infirmary, the doc giving him a friendly smile, good that the boy has learned to take a joke, and catches Mal's arm as he's walking into the cargo bay.

Mal shakes the grip off and keeps walking until they're away from the door. Then he turns, and Jayne sees his face.

"You think this is a good time to be bothering me, Jayne? You don't think it might be smart to stay out of my way for a day or two?"

The captain's voice is low and calm and deadly. Jayne takes an involuntary step back.

"I thought... the way you were at breakfast... I thought everything was okay."

"Well, you were wrong again, now, weren't you?"

Jayne swallows, but there is nothing he can say to that. He watches wordlessly at Mal walks up the stairs toward the bridge.

He sits on a crate and props his head on his hands. He wishes Mal had taken that belt and whipped him till he was bloody, till he couldn't sit down for a week. It would be miles easier to take than this.

***

"Hey, Captain. Supper's ready. Simon cooked, sort of. You want help with that?"

Jayne looks up to the catwalk where Kaylee is standing, and so does Mal.

"Oh, no, Jayne's all the help I need," Mal says, clapping him on the shoulder. Jayne flinches. "You run along. We'll be there in a minute."

"Okay, but you might want to hurry. I don't think it'll be good cold. Um. I'm not sure it'll be good hot." She waves and runs off.

Jayne glances over, watching as the cheerful expression fades from Mal's face. They've been organizing the haul from the hospital into separate boxes for what seems like hours now, and Mal has said not one word to him beyond telling him where to put what. And even then it sounds like he'd rather tell him to put it somewhere a lot more uncomfortable.

Every now and then one of the crew will happen by, and Mal will be his old self for a few minutes until they're gone again.

It's killing Jayne. Just killing him. It would be bad enough if Mal was stalking around the ship glaring at him, yelling at him, whatever, but this back and forth is more than he can take.

There must be something he can do to fix this.

Anything.

After supper Jayne paces his quarters, glaring at the medic's uniform in its heap in the corner. Should never have gone on that stupid job.

He wants to rewind time to where the doc was telling them what all those medicines were worth, getting their hopes up, and knock those little bottles out of his hand, knock him on the floor. Break his jaw so he can't talk, and they'd be long gone from Ariel before it healed.

Or maybe he should break his own jaw so he can't call the Feds.

Shit.

He kicks the wall and then thumps it with his fist until the pain in his foot dies down.

His quarters are too small for this. He'll go pace in the cargo bay. Or do pull ups. Or something.

He climbs up and jerks the door open-- and sees Mal standing there. Right in front of his door.

"Mal...?"

The other man turns away, and Jayne launches himself up the last few rungs and grabs his arm. It's just a hey-wait-a-minute grab, not meant to start trouble, so he's not prepared when Mal spins around and puts him in an elbow lock, face shoved against the bulkhead.

His instinct is to fight back, but he makes himself stay still. He waits, feeling Mal's breath against his neck, the warmth of Mal's body so close to his. He's convinced something big is going to happen, but after a few seconds Mal just lets him go, walks away down the hall to his own quarters and descends.

Jayne stares for a fraction of a second and goes after him, no thought involved.

His hand hits the hatch just as it's closing and forces it open. He hardly uses the ladder at all on the way down.

"Get out," are the first words Mal says to him.

"No."

"That's an order, Jayne. Leave. Now."

"I ain't leaving."

"Oh, yes, you are," Mal growls. Stalks toward him, and stops, standing so close Jayne can just about feel the anger coming off him. "You get out, Jayne. Do it now. I don't know why you're pushing me like this, but if you keep it up I swear you won't like what it buys you."

Jayne finds he is edging back toward the ladder and makes himself stop. He's not leaving. Not till this is settled, one way or another.

But it's hard. It ought to be easy to stand up to Mal. Jayne knows he's a better fighter than Mal, not to mention he tops him by a couple inches and more than a couple pounds of muscle. It ought to be Mal scared of him, but Mal is never scared of anything.

And Jayne is. Right now he's just disobeyed a direct order to Mal's face, and he's never done that before. He was angry when he came down here, but now he's remembering that he's really got no right to be angry.

He deserves nothing good, everything bad. Mal has every right to treat him like go-se he scraped off his shoe.

Only Jayne can't take it any more. Just plain can't.

"Please don't," he hears himself say, and his voice sounds far away. "Don't send me away, Mal. Please. There's got to be something I can do... something to make this right."

There is a long pause before Mal says anything. Jayne watches his face, watches the anger there waver for a moment. In that moment he sees something else, something that gives him the courage to push once more.

"There's got to be something," he says. "Tell me."

"There's nothing you can do..."

"There is." He's sure of it now.

He reaches out and grabs a fistful of Mal's soft shirt, does it slowly, not to startle, not to start anything. Just to have that connection between them. His knuckles rest over Mal's heart, and he can feel it beating.

"Just tell me. Whatever it is, I'll do it. Anything."

Mal's face goes all strange, with this tight smile that just makes him look miserable.

Jayne has seen Mal keep icy calm in more deeply bad situations than he can currently recall. He's wondered what it be like to finally see Mal lose it, but suddenly isn't so sure he wants to know.

"I almost trusted you," Mal says, still with that strange smile. "I knew I couldn't, but I almost did anyway." He knocks Jayne's hand away. "But you were just too gorram dumb to get it, weren't you? Too ruttin' dim to--"

Mal breaks off and just looks at him.

He plants his hands on Jayne's chest, and Jayne finds himself shoved hard back against the wall with enough strength to knock the breath out of him.

"How could you not see? How could anyone be that..."

Stupid, Jayne completes the sentence in his head. He looks down, sets his jaw. It's not often he wishes he was smarter than he is, but this is one of those times.

If he'd just thought about it... But he knows it wouldn't have done any good. He couldn't see it until Mal shoved it in his face.

He looks up, meets Mal's eyes, and they aren't really angry any more. Just sad. And that's even worse.

"I get it now," Jayne says.

The pressure on his chest lightens. "Yeah. You do, don't you."

"I'm sorry, Mal. Honest to god, I'm sorry."

"I know." Mal breathes deep, and lets it out all at once. His face clears a little. "There is something you can do."

"What?"

Mal's eyes are locked with his like they can see right into his head. Maybe they can right now. It wouldn't seem so strange.

"Be trustworthy," Mal says quietly. "Don't be the guy I have to watch all the time. Don't be the guy I have to worry about. Be the one I can count on. Can you do that, Jayne?" Mal frowns a little. "Are you even capable of that?"

"I will. I promise," Jayne hears himself say.

And he means it. He stops breathing for a few seconds as he realizes how much he means it and how much it's going to change things. Mal takes promises seriously, and he's going to have to keep this one. He maybe even wants to keep this one.

Mal looks at him steadily and raises his hand. For a second Jayne thinks he's going to hit him, but Mal just brushes fingertips down his face, over his jaw.

Jayne catches his breath in surprise, staring at Mal, wondering if this is something else he's been too stupid to see until now. He wants to catch that hand and hold it against his skin, but he can't quite move.

The hand falls away, and Mal takes a step back. "You should go," he says.

"I don't want to go."

"But you should."

But Mal doesn't sound sure, and that's a new thing, too. Mal is always sure.

Jayne takes a step toward him and touches Mal's face just where Mal touched his. He sees Mal's lips part as if he's going to say something, hears his breath sigh out.

He leans forward and kisses Mal's cheek where his hand was, and then, because that seems like a cop out, kisses his mouth, too.

A hand on his chest stops him.

"You should go."

"I don't want to."

"I don't think you know what you want."

"I know I don't want to play this game, Mal. Don't tell me what I don't want. I ain't some little girl with stars in her eyes. I've been around the block, likely more than you have. When's the last time you got laid?"

Mal's eyes blaze back at him. "We are not talking about getting laid here. We are not talking about a quick fuck. Let's get that through that foot-thick skull of yours before we take one step further."

Regret comes as suddenly and sharply as a knife in the stomach.

"I know, Mal. I know that," he says quickly. "I just-- It's not so easy."

"It's never going to be easy. You want easy, you'd best look elsewhere."

When Jayne was sixteen he worked at a foundry, pouring liquid metal into molds. Mal is just like that. If you don't watch yourself every second, you'll do something stupid and get burned right down to the bone.

Jayne watches Mal's face carefully, hoping he's not going to get burned.

"I don't want easy. I want you."

Mal lets out a breath as along as a year in solitary. "All right," he says. There is a pause, and then, "Were you serious about that no kissing on the mouth thing?"

"Never saw the point before."

"And now?"

Jayne shrugs, feeling awkward. "Think maybe I could get used to it," he mutters.

"Oh, you think maybe, do you?" Mal is teasing him, not quite laughing, but close.

"Maybe."

He can still feel Mal's mouth under his. Just thinking about it makes him feel hot, and he doesn't understand why it should be like that. Kissing is like foreplay, and he's always thought, basically, why bother? Why not just get to the main event. It's what you're both there for anyway.

But this is different. He'd like to kiss Mal.

He reaches out hesitantly and takes Mal's shoulder, tugging him closer. Mal flows easily against his body, smiling up at him now, all that cold gone away.

"Let's give it a try, shall we?"

Jayne is nodding, bending down as he does. They bump noses, and Mal takes Jayne's face in his hands and repositions it. Quick, light kisses, once, twice, three times. Mal wets his lips, and the flash of tongue, the wet shine on those lips makes Jayne feel... hungry.

Lips open for him willingly, and he's thinking this is right, this is good. This is what he tastes like. No one else on the crew knows what he tastes like, just me. There is a slow, hot, almost ticklish feeling as Mal's tongue slides into his mouth now, tasting, exploring. Over his teeth and the roof of his mouth, and pulling back to suck on his lower lip, releasing it at last with a wet pop.

"Fuck," Jayne breathes. He opens his eyes.

Mal is smiling at him. "That's the idea," he says.

"Huh. You just couldn't let that one go by, could you?"

"Nope. You made it too easy."

And then he's kissing Mal's smiling mouth again, and Mal is just plastered up against him, one arm around his neck, one hand on his waist under his shirt, thumb rubbing against the skin there in small circles. Jayne finds he doesn't want to do it up against the wall.

He pulls back an inch. "Bed," he says.

But Mal takes his mouth again, one hand in his hair now, humming in his throat. Hand sliding over Jayne's hip, deftly undoing his pants to run fingers briefly up the underside of his cock. Only then does Mal back off a pace, grabbing the front of Jayne's shirt and walking backwards until he hits the bed. Sits down, pulls Jayne on top of him.

Full length on the bed in all their clothes, mouths locked together, twisting against each other. Jayne pulls Mal's suspenders down, rucks his shirt up, runs shaking fingers over the smooth skin there. He rubs his palm over a hard nipple and feels Mal arch up into the touch.

His dick is hard and rubbing against Mal's thigh, and there's only so much more of this he can take. He pulls away from the kiss and sits up, working at the fastening of Mal's pants. He looks down, watches his hands at work, because Mal looks just too good right now. Hair mussed, lips swollen, eyes shining-- and all because of him.

He jerks the zipper open and gets his own shirt off, but then he is pushed backward, and Mal is bending over him, tugging off his pants and boots and then doing the same for himself. Mal stands beside the bed, watching him, undoing the buttons of his shirt slowly, one by one.

"Hell with that," Jayne mutters.

He catches Mal's arm and pulls sharply, bringing the other man down in a sprawl on top of him. Skin on skin, and so hot, feels so good. Hand on his dick, on his balls, lower, and Jayne just closes his eyes and pants as one finger presses inside him.

It leaves him, and he feels the body on his shift, holds Mal's waist as he strips his shirt off and then leans over the side of the bed.

"Wha...?"

"Lube."

"Oh."

Mal pauses. "Are you okay with this?"

Jayne stares up at him. His head is spinning, and he's so hot, and just about begging-hard, and Mal wants to know if he's *okay*?

He nods, hoping this will be enough.

It is enough, and seconds later his knees are drawn up to his chest and the smooth head of Mal's cock is pressing into him, actually inside him, and yeah, all right, he's been on the receiving end one or two times, but it wasn't with Mal and it wasn't-- like this. He's never felt anything like this before. He closes his eyes, twists his head away, wanting more and wanting it to stop both at the same time. Almost too much.

Mal's lips brush the inside of his thigh, and he opens his eyes.

"You want me to stop?"

"No. Just-- No. Don't stop."

"It's okay." Soothing hands stroke his stomach, his leg. "I won't hurt you."

But it's not pain he's afraid of here. He can't put his finger on it, but maybe there's such a thing as too good, too much... something. He thought he knew about sex with guys, didn't think this would be so different. He feels split open.

Mal is moving in steadily now, sliding in inch after inch and opening him up as he goes. Jayne's legs start to shake from the strain of the position, and Mal hooks them over his shoulders. Jayne wonders how many times Mal has done this, how many other men he has fucked.

He doesn't wonder for long. Mal gives one last short push, and Jayne looks down to see their bodies connected, Mal in him all the way, and he closes his eyes as Mal starts to move. Thinking, too much, too much, but he doesn't want it to stop.

The next shuddering thrust touches something inside him that sets off all the bells and whistles, and fresh blood pumps to his cock. He bites his lip hard, trying to keep quiet.

Mal's hand touches his mouth, tracing his lips.

"Don't," he says. "Let me hear you."

And then his hand moves to Jayne's cock.

Steady, heavy push into him, and the slap of Mal's body hitting his. He twists the sheet with one hand and pulls Mal down into a desperate kiss with the other, fingers clenching in his hair.

Hand teasing his cock, stroking hard up and light back down. He hears his breath hitch.

"Yes," Mal says. "Come on."

He can feel the restraint in Mal's movements, but can't bring himself to ask for more, and they continue, soft and slow, letting it build. He opens his eyes and sees the need on Mal's face, the patience and control, and the sharp focus of blue eyes boring into his.

He opens his mouth, and words tumble out. "Oh god, Mal... please, just like this, please..."

Slow and easy slide, in and out, friction and slick, burning heat. He pants. Moans. Always with Mal's eyes on him, watching him, reading him.

As slow as it builds, it does build, one layer on another until he feels his balls tightening, and Mal's hand works his cock steadily, and he comes staring into Mal's eyes.

His body goes limp, and he sees the face above him twist with need, and he nods. Hard as you want, hard as you need to. Do it. He can't get the words out, but Mal understands.

There is no pain, just these stunning, pounding blows that his body somehow accepts and cushions. He watches as blue eyes finally close and Mal freezes above him, hips jerking forward, and he feels it as Mal comes inside him.

He lets his legs down, and Mal slips out, falls forward against his chest. Jayne finds himself stroking the skin of Mal's back, kissing his hair, all the stupid little things he never thought he'd want to do with anyone. He didn't see the point. He still doesn't see the point, but... he likes the way Mal's hair is so soft against his face, the way he can feel the muscles in his back shift under the skin.

Mal lies still, breathing deeply, one hand curled in a loose fist on Jayne's chest.

Jayne looks up at the ceiling, blinking slowly. He gropes behind his head for the light switch and turns it off.

"Gonna stay here tonight?" Mal asks, his voice muffled against Jayne's skin.

"That okay with you?"

"Mm. Yeah. That's good." Mal shifts slightly, fitting his body more closely against Jayne's.

"G'night."

"Night. Oh, hey, Jayne?"

"What?"

"Next time your room. We can mess up your sheets."

"Okay."

His fingers weave through Mal's hair, and he closes his eyes. Things won't be easy. They never are with Mal. Doesn't matter. There will be a next time, and that's enough.

-------
..end..
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