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i like your moxie, sassafras!


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long Firefly fic: "Phyxius" (part 2)
the arch of the eyebrows gives it away
innie_darling
Mahaladu

Kaylee knows the captain is doing her a favor, setting down here. There’s no need for supplies or assistance, but on this brown-friendly planet, she can maybe find a way to send her Ma a line, maybe some of the wages the captain insisted she take for getting them to Paquin in good time, even though she’s only been on board a week. Then she thinks maybe she isn’t the only one the captain is pleasing; he understands the importance of morale, the dynamics of camaraderie, and the ways in which journeying can tell on people. It’s funny what you would never think about yourself until you read it in someone’s eyes.

And it’s funny, too, what you’re willing to deny yourself by not looking someone else in the eye.

She’d kept well clear of Jayne, instead using her first days getting to love Serenity, find out what makes her happy, what makes her purr. She’d worked with Wash on the bridge, played chess with Zoe, and cooked with the captain. Jayne hadn’t made it difficult to avoid him, and until yesterday that was going just fine.

She’d been taking advantage of the fact that they were docked on Paquin – Jayne and Wash were handling the transaction – to take the engine apart to clean. She’d just finished reassembling, and was thinking about a quick, cool shower, and maybe a meal when the com squawked. The captain’s voice came through. “Kaylee? We need you in the infirmary. Quick, but not urgent.” She gets there to see Wash in a chair and Zoe sitting on the countertop with his hand in her lap. She’s splinting the last two fingers of his right hand, humming an old love song as she works. Her voice is low and soothing, and Kaylee is starting to relax, until she turns and sees Jayne perched on the opposite counter, his left arm held awkwardly away from his body. She gasps, thinking that it’s been broken, or the muscles slashed, but the captain steers her close with a hand on her back and says, “Ain’t as bad as it looks. He’s just been cut up pretty good. Now, I got to get up to the bridge. Can you handle this?” She nods dumbly and he takes off.

Closer up, she can see that Jayne is keeping his arm away from his body because his side is bleeding right through his shirt. He sits up a little straighter as she approaches, and grabs the back of his shirt with his good hand. “Wait,” she says, looking for scissors to cut it open instead, but she can’t find them and by the time she’s turned back to him, he’s pulled the shirt off. She catches her breath sharply. She’s hoping he’ll take it for concern at the state he’s in, but of course it’s not. It’s for that skin, tanned by dozens of suns, for the taut muscles beneath, and the soft dark hair that covers his chest. She inches closer, trying to assess the damage. She can’t stand at his side because of the counter’s sharp corner, so she ends up standing between his legs. The heat coming off him is making her a little dizzy. She’s never seen someone so fully man. Wash has the dinosaurs she and Zoe caught him playing with, and even the captain, for all the weight his shoulders bear, has one of the sweetest baby-faces she’s ever seen, but Jayne seems to have burned through all of his boyhood and left it far behind. Standing in the V of his legs, she reaches for the rag and bowl of water the captain left out for her. She’s trying to hold Jayne’s arm away from his side with one hand and wash his wounds with the other, but she’s only dextrous when it comes to machines. He makes it easier on her by stretching his arm straight ahead, draping it heavily on her shoulder, leaving her right hand free for her ministrations. His side is covered in blood from long, shallow cuts, the dirt of Paquin coating it all. She washes away the dirt and begins to gloss her fingers over the wounds, touching them with ointment. The smell of the unguent, the heat coming off Jayne’s body, and Zoe’s contralto hum are assaulting her heightened senses, and she’s breathing more quickly. She’s nearly panting by the time she’s finished bandaging him, the white gauze throwing his dark gold skin into high relief. “There,” she says, her voice sounding unnaturally loud. There’s silence all around; she can’t hear Zoe’s song anymore and she realizes with a start that she’s alone in the infirmary with Jayne.

He moves with surprising speed, using his heels to push at the backs of her knees, his left arm shifting so that the forearm now steadies her and gathers her close. “Kaylee,” he says. His eyes are dark. His right hand reaches out and cups her face, his thumb slides along her cheek. She thinks at first that he must be wiping away some grease, but then she realizes with a rush of warmth that he just wanted to touch her. Her hands are on his thighs as she leans in. He meets her halfway, and their upper lips are touching, all it would take for their mouths to meet is an infinitesimal shift.

The captain’s voice comes through the com beside them just then. “Everybody okay? Ship needs to look shiny now, we got a fella comin’ on board, thinking of renting shuttle number one off us.” They’re both startled into pulling away, and in the space between them she remembers why she hadn’t wanted this to happen. She backs away quickly and takes off at a near run.


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It’s the day after and Kaylee’s still ashamed of herself for running. She’s looking forward to being on land, though, and Mahaladu certainly looks nice. The air is crisp and vaguely apple-scented. Peeking out from behind Zoe’s tall form, she sees a woman at a roadside stand selling cider.

As Kaylee drinks, Zoe assesses the surroundings. A small smile dances across her face. “Kaylee, this place looks safe enough. Be okay on your own?”

Kaylee nods, “Just point me in the direction o’ the post point.”

“The post point is on my way. I’ll take you there,” the first mate responds.

“Ah . . . ladies?” they both hear and spin around. It’s Wash, wearing a shirt so bright it makes the eyes ache.

“Yes?” Zoe lifts an eyebrow.

“I, uh, need some advice,” he begins. And stops. Zoe and Kaylee share a glance. He wishes they wouldn’t do that. He takes a breath and tries again. “Mal asked me to try to line up a job for us.” They both nod, Kaylee encouragingly, Zoe noncommittally. Again he lapses into an expectant silence.

“So what’s the problem?” Zoe finally asks.

“I have no idea how to do this!” he says, surprised that she can’t see his incompetence for herself, a little warmed by the faith she evidently had in him. Or maybe he’s reading too much into it. She’s so efficient herself it probably doesn’t occur to her that doing her job gives him the willies. He’s happy up in space, just him and the stars. The day-to-day stuff, being the brains behind their subsistence life, would overwhelm him.

“Jayne knows this world better than any of us. He’ll show you the ropes,” Zoe replies.

“Jayne’s gone,” he says, missing the way Kaylee goes still because he’s only looking at Zoe, beautiful, deadly Zoe. “Captain says he was the first one out this morning. Don’t know when he’ll be back.”

Zoe sighs, understanding the personal day she’d asked for isn’t going to happen. She turns to the little mechanic. “Post point’s a mile in that direction. On the south side of the central square. You can’t miss it.” Turning back to Wash, she offers, “I’ll take you where you need to go.”

“Great!” he smiles, starting towards her until he sees her hand come up in the “stop” position.

“But first, you’ve got to change that shirt,” she says, and leads him back inside the ship. “And shave off that mustache.”


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Kaylee looks around her with amazement. She wasn’t expecting this. The post point back on Rasam was a counter with Pop Hickson and his snail-slow machine on one side and a line a mile long on the other. This is a building full of gleaming self-serve computers. An officious voice calls, “Miss! Station 12 is open! Miss!” She scuttles over, and her heart sinks when she realizes this “Telefonix” is one machine she can’t figure out. She turns to try to find that voice again, and she freezes when she sees that the man standing at station 11 is Jayne.

He’s typing his message quickly, reading off a sheet of paper he’s got propped up next to the screen. She’s mesmerized, watching him, until he folds the piece of paper and tucks it into his pocket. He’s about to leave and she has to say something. “Jayne?”

Her voice is small, but he hears it. His head pivots sharply. “What’re you doin’ here, girl?”

She’s so relieved he’s speaking to her that the words tumble out of her. “I’m trying to send a message to my Ma, send her some of the credits the cap’n gave me. But I don’t know how this machine works. And she’ll be frettin’ over me.” She looks up at him hopefully.

“Just give me a minute,” he says, turning back to his station to attach credits to his message. His letter stays up on the screen for a moment, just long enough for her to read the beginning: “Dear Mamma.” He clicks the screen to send, and the message scrolls quickly by. “Love, Jayne” she reads and the screen goes blank, ready for the next customer.

“Where’s your ident?” he asks, and she fumbles for the card. He takes it, swipes it, then studies it. “Nice picture,” he says, laughing softly as he hands it back. He reads the message on the screen, shifting so that she can see it too. “Says here you ain’t got your card registered to send messages, but you can get around that.” He taps a few keys and the screen flashes WELCOME. “Mind, that don’t work on Core planets,” he warns. He turns to go but she grabs at him. She begins to type hesitantly, knowing he can read everything over her shoulder. “Dear Ma and Daddy and Linus and Allan and Rohan and Marcus” she begins. “Holy hell,” he mutters, “this is gonna take all day, innit?” She pokes him with one index finger and continues typing with the other.

Forty-five minutes later, she’s finally finished. “Done now!” she says triumphantly, turning when there’s no response.

Jayne’s got his back to her, his eyes on a man holding an enormous gun straight out ahead of him. It’s easy to see the man’s a novice; he’s gripping the weapon much too tightly, and Jayne figures one shot ought to do it. “Hey, boy” he calls, and the man spins fearfully over to him. “I’ve got a gun too you know,” he taunts, draws Meena, and begins to move forward, ever so slowly.

“Stop right there!” the man yells, his voice cracking mid-command.

“Why? Looks like that toy you got ain’t even loaded.”

“It’s loaded!” the man screams.

“Then why didn’t ya shoot out the security scanner?” Jayne’s voice drips with sarcasm. The man turns and aims high for the scanner. The recoil from the missed shot lands him flat on his back, his arm throbbing, the gun inches from his outstretched hand. Jayne reaches him in one long step, flips Meena in his hand, and clubs the man once with the butt of the gun. He’s unconscious when Jayne kicks his weapon away.

He turns back to Kaylee to find her watching him with her mouth hanging open. He shuts it, pushes her aside, attaches her credits, and sends the message. Before the screen can even fade to black he’s got her hand in his and they’re walking out of the post point. They’re out on the street before he puts Meena back in her holster. He glances again at Kaylee, who’s still looking at him wonderingly. “Boy was just whoo dahn,” he says brusquely, walking her back to the ship.


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Zoe can’t believe her eyes. The closet in Wash’s bunk is open, and it’s appallingly clear that the man cannot dress to save his life. All she sees is violently patterned fabric, in hues guaranteed to make the eyes bleed. She looks over at him silently. It’s not as if he’s some mouse of a man who’ll never be noticed; that shock of bright hair, the easy way he walks, the breadth of his shoulders are all worth looking twice at.

He’s still rummaging, evidently in the hopes that someone slipped something sober onto his shelf. “Aha!” he calls, enthusiasm undimmed. “How about this?” he smiles triumphantly, holding out a wondrously ugly shirt, light blue with heavy orange circles.

“No,” she says, casting about for a suitable pair of pants, giving up after a minute. “I need to talk to the captain. I’ll be right back.” She exits quickly, looking for Mal.

She finds him sitting in one of the unoccupied bunks with his eyes closed. “Sir, why is the person who always looks like he’s just walked away from an explosion in a pigment factory the one handling undercover work for us?”

He’s tickled by her description of Wash, and the amusement is evident in his voice, “Cause we don’t need it.” His eyes are still closed, but he knows that one of her eyebrows has gone up. “You and Jayne and me . . . we all needed a little time away,” he clarifies, “and I thought the time had come to see how Wash handles himself in these situations. For future reference. Course, this is a no-pressure situation, so it ain’t exactly a proper test, but if he can do it today, I think he’ll be able to pull it off later. Pilots are used to pressure.”

She nods grudgingly. “I’ve agreed to take him around,” she says.

“Oh, Zoe,” he says, covering his face wearily with his hands, feeling a little guilty, “you don’t have to . . . I’ll do it. I know you don’t favor him much.”

“No,” she admits, “I don’t. But maybe he’ll grow on me. And you could use the rest, Sir.”

He smiles and says, “You might get a little extra if you help him land some work today.”

His eyes slide open just in time to see a wicked grin flash across her face. “Oh no, Sir. My reward will be seeing the look on your face when I tell you he’s going to have to borrow your clothes.”


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Mal feels the smile creep across his face, and it warms and worries him at the same time. Ain’t often that a plum job lands in their laps, but Zoe had come back to the ship and said firmly, “We found a job. Legal.” She said “we” and her eyes politely gestured towards Wash, but Mal had a hunch that the pilot had had nothing to do with the bargaining. And it sure as hell ain’t often that a man gets a meal this fine on board a little ship. Zoe had thought to bring some of the spicy food Mahaladu was known for back on board. It’s odd for him to feel so content, but with his belly full and happy faces around the table and Serenity floating sweetly through space, he’s hard-pressed to feel anything but.

“Whatcha smilin’ for, Cap’n?” Kaylee asks.

He tunes back into the conversation. “Oh, I’m just thinkin’ ’bout the run of good luck we’ve been having. Been going on for little more’n a week.” He cocks his head to the side, pretending to study her. “’Bout the same time you joined, isn’t it? I’m thinking young Kaylee here’s our good luck charm.” He turns to Wash and Zoe as he says this last, and raises his glass.

Kaylee beams at him and covers his hand with hers. She stands and asks, “Anybody want any more to eat?” At their negative responses, she starts scooping up the leftovers.

“Still hungry, Kaylee?” Mal asks, eyeing the full plate.

“No, Cap’n, I’m fixin’ a plate for Jayne. He shouldn’t miss out on this treat just cause he’s got to keep an eye on the radar.”

He smiles up at her, pleased at how well she’s fit into this family he’s tried to form, admiring the care she’s willing to show even for a hardass like Jayne. “Well, slow down, there, girl. He’s not a growing boy anymore. He’s big enough already.”

She smiles, thinking of the way he’d hidden her from the gunman’s view with his large frame even while he’d kept him from killing anyone else. “Yeah. He’s big enough to save us all.”

Mal catches Zoe’s eye at this and he lets out a bark of laughter. “Jayne as savior of the worlds! Kind of hard to picture Jayne savin’ instead of killin’ –” He stops abruptly as she drops the serving spoon back in the largest pot, splattering him with rust-colored sauce. “Kaylee?” he says, his hand on her elbow. She’s twisted away from him and he can’t get her to meet his eye. “What’s the matter?” he asks.

“He ain’t just a killer,” she says, her eyes down.

“No,” he flounders, “he’s not.” He needs help here, but Zoe is as much at a loss as he is. “He’s a tracker, and a hunter, and a fine cook, and an awfully enthusiastic hoopball player, and . . .”

She cuts him off: “You don’t think well enough of him, Sir.” She picks up the plate and turns on her heel.

“Xiao mei-mei!” he stands and calls after her. “I’m sorry. I thought you were just kidding around.”

She softens a bit at the term of endearment. She sets the plate back down and tells them what happened at the post point.


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Kaylee’s gone to deliver the food, and the captain is in his room, trying to figure the best way to organize the new job, so Wash is at last alone with Zoe. It’s not her turn to clean up, but since she copped out on the cooking she figures she should do something productive.

She’s barely aware of Wash sitting at the table; she’s thinking through what the little mechanic said as she soaps up the dishes. It’s not hard to believe the worst of Jayne. It’s probably not hard to believe the worst of her, either. The war left her with a conscience stained through.

Her thoughts are in turmoil, but she’s characteristically neat-handed as she works. Wash watches her, thinking there’s a strange allure to a woman with this little fuss about her. He clears his throat softly, but she doesn’t hear it over the running water and the voices in her head. “That was some meal, huh?” he tries again.

“Glad you liked it. The spices can be a bit much for some,” she responds, turning to him as she finishes, drying her hands on a threadbare towel.

“No, I meant after . . . with Kaylee’s story. But the food was good too,” he hastens to add. She nods. “Why . . . I mean, if you and Mal think of him just as a killer, then what’s he doing on this boat?” he asks.

“Jayne tracked us. Mal and me. Not only that, he got the drop on us. We hadn’t been overly careful of our trail, but we hadn’t exactly been laying out a path of little white stones either. Captain figured anyone who could track us, we wanted on our side. Plus, it made him not shoot us.”

“Okay. But that was months ago. Why is he still here?”

“Don’t rightly know.” She pauses for a long minute. “Captain’s pretty good at reading people. He thought Jayne was just another mercenary, he’d’ve gotten rid of him awhile back.”

They’re dancing so close to the topic he wants to address that Wash can feel his heart pounding excitedly. “And me?” he asks. “Captain think good things about me?”

She’s surprised enough to answer him honestly. “Yes. More than I did.”

That’s not exactly the response he was hoping for, but in light of recent events he lets it slide. “But you like me now, right?” he says, starting to grin. She nods slightly as he keeps talking. His face is engagingly open; the mustache made a big difference. “I like you too, Zoe. I more than like you.” He stands up, takes her hand, and presses a kiss on her wrist, still warm from the hot water.

She pulls away, startled by the direction this is going. “I like you,” she says evenly; “I thought we had a nice day today. But that’s as far as it goes.”

“What?”

“There’s nothing more there,” she repeats.

His mouth is off and running before his brain can catch it. “Then why were you flirting with me yesterday?”

She’s shocked into stillness. Flirting! She hasn’t flirted with anyone, been easy and free enough to flirt, since before the war made a mess of her life, took away a woman and put a soldier in her place. She finds she’s holding onto the back of Mal’s chair to keep her hands from shaking. She says as steadily as she can, “I was not flirting with you yesterday. I have never flirted with you. I have no idea what you are talking about.”

“The infirmary,” he reminds her, upset that she’s backtracking now, denying what was plain as day before. “You had my hand in your lap, remember? You were singing me a love song, remember? Any of this coming back to you?” He knows his anger will only push her away, but he’s too hurt to care.

“I . . .” she falters, unable to think of a tactful way to point out what is obvious to her, “I had your hand on my lap because I was trying to splint your fingers. It’s the most convenient position.”

He crosses his arms tightly across his chest and nods like he doesn’t believe a word she’s saying. “And the love song?” he challenges.

“I didn’t even realize I was humming yesterday. It’s something I used to do during the war, whenever I was bandaging injuries. Keeps me and the soldier I’m tending a little calmer. Captain used to joke the men were getting injured on purpose just to have someone sing to them. Only logical explanation for why so many of our side were getting hurt.” She pauses again. She doesn’t want everything to be about the war. She shakes her head as if to clear it. “I must just have had that song in my head yesterday.”

“Don’t you think that means something?” he asks, his voice softening, taking her hand again.

“No,” she says with finality, pulling free and walking away.


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Jayne is considering the new mechanic as he does pull-ups from a length of braided leather he’s shimmied through the ceiling grate. At first glance, he’d thought that she was a nice piece of tail, and was considering making his way off the ship on the chance he’d meet another cute Rasam girl. Then she’d seen him. And by the way she’d looked at him, he’d known that Bester had gotten himself a feisty one. He’d reconsidered then, thinking maybe the thing to do was not look for another girl, but take this one from Bester. He could see by her eyes she was willing. But then she’d smiled at him.

When he’d first been hired onto Serenity, he couldn’t quite believe his luck. Ten percent, his own bunk, and the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen on board. After a few weeks of watching her, though, he’d lost interest. Her eyes were always heavy-lidded like she’d just fucked, but the expression on her face never changed. Even when she laughed at one of the captain’s jokes, he could sense that there was something inside of her that stayed hard, hurt, hot. There was a trapped animal within Zoe, and it was something he had no desire to tangle with.

But Kaylee’s different; her face is a kaleidoscope. She’s not beautiful, but she’s always on the verge of being so, and he’s been the sole witness to a few of the moments when it had been achieved. The first smile she’d given him, heedless of Bester’s presence, lit up her face with delight. He’d shied away that time, unprepared for the sudden glow about her. The tender look she’d worn when she stretched her fingertips out to tend his wounds transformed her, so that the grease that smeared her skin looked like God’s fingerprints. And that time he’d made a move, leaning in towards her brightness, and she’d been the one to run.

There’s a sound behind him, and he drops down, sweating, and turns in time to see her walking in with a plate piled high with food.

“Hungry?” she asks with an odd smile.

“Nope.”

That’s all she needs. She sets the plate down carelessly and takes his face in her hands, drawing him down for a kiss.

Her mouth is open, her little tongue hotter than hell, and Jayne scoops her up so that he doesn’t have to bend down quite so far. Her legs slide around his waist easily, and one arm curls around his neck to keep him close. His arms, still burning from exercise, begin to give, and he doesn’t think he could manage to locate a chair. He presses her up against a wall instead, and her hands, no longer needed for balance, are immediately everywhere, holding his face, slipping under the neckline of his olive green shirt, like she can’t get enough of him. His left hand slides up from beneath her to tangle in her hair and cradle her skull, keeping it from pressing against the cold metal wall. She’s lost track of time, reveling in the sensations of being held aloft by those flexed arms, being pressed flush against that strong chest, of being teased by that talented tongue. She’s getting light-headed, and she pushes him back a bit so she can catch her breath. He’s panting too and she’s getting the shivers watching him try to control himself even as the heat of his body is pressed right up between her legs. He’s ducking slightly, trying to catch a glimpse of her face, when there’s a sound from the control panel. He slides her through his hands to let her down before turning to look at the radar.

“Somethin’s gettin’ close,” he mutters. She turns to the com, but Wash strides in, cutting her off. Jayne looks up at the angry sound of his boots and taps the radar screen.

The pilot recognizes the code the ship is sending out and says, “Don’t worry. Just someone else asking for directions.” Kaylee sighs in relief. “Jayne,” Wash continues in that clipped tone, “thanks for staying up here. I got it now.” He notices the plate of food. “Go, eat your dinner in peace.”

Jayne grins and grabs the plate with one hand, pulls the leather strip free with the other, and says, “I’ll be in my bunk.” Wash nods distractedly, not noticing Kaylee slipping out to follow Jayne.

She runs smack into him just outside the door, and he takes advantage of her surprise to push her against the wall with his hips and kiss her again. She breaks free after a moment, looks up at him, then bolts in the direction of his bunk, giggling. He knows he’s grinning like a crazy fool as he goes after her. When he finally makes it to his quarters, it feels like he’s been kicked in the gut. Kaylee’s standing there in a white tank top, purple panties, and a smile. She points to his chest. He twists just enough to deposit the plate on the dresser behind him without breaking eye contact, then obliges her by pulling his shirt off. He grins wolfishly and points to her top and then to her underwear. She pretends to be taken aback, but strips as he pulls off his shoes, socks, and pants. He’s advancing toward her when she shakes back her hair, hands on her hips, and looks pointedly at his boxers. “Right,” he growls, pulling them off and throwing them carelessly behind him. He reaches one arm out to her waist and pulls her forward as he lets himself fall backward onto the bed.

She’s all sunshine and delight, laughing and moaning in his arms. He likes the look on her face, somewhere between concentration and bliss, as she moves over him. He’s got one hand cupping her head, and she likes the sensation that she’s being cradled. Her head falls back in pleasure as the rhythm starts to get to her, and he takes that as an invitation to lean up and kiss roughly along her throat. His movement shifts the angle at which they meet, and her eyes, open all this time, grow even rounder. The size of his hands makes it feel like he’s touching her everywhere at once and she’s moved to kiss him once more. His beard is prickly against her, but his skin is smoother than she would have guessed. She’s close now, and she slaps her palms against his as she pushes down harder. She finds her release only a moment before he finds his. She slumps forward for a moment before resting her chin on his scarred chest and smiling into his eyes. He reaches out a hand to toy with her hair, trying to buy some time. His face is not exactly an open book, but she knows what he’s worrying over.

“Jayne,” she says, leaning a little closer, seeing herself in his sharpshooter eyes, “I had fun. Din’t you?”

“Yeah,” he allows, waiting for the kicker.

She doesn’t deliver it. “That’s all it has to be. You, me, some fun.”

“Helluva lot of fun,” he corrects.

“I ain’t expectin’ you to buy me posies, or hold my hand during dinner. I just think we could have some good times together.”

He can’t believe he heard her correctly, but she’s nodding to convince him, and he grins up at her. “Whatever you say, darlin’ girl.”

She relaxes and repeats her earlier question: “Hungry?”

This time, his answer is different: “Yep.”

She turns her head to look at the dresser and her hair whispers against his nose. “Food’s right there,” she informs him, clearly waiting.

“You got to be on top. You get the food,” he responds. She sighs and grabs the plate, then begins feeding him, sneaking every third bite for herself. He’s got a shine in his eyes now, like he can’t quite figure out how his life has gotten so good, and she kisses his cheek softly.

“Jayne? How old are you?” Mealtimes have always been a noisy time, full of discussion and argument, in her home.

“Thirty-seven. You?”

“Twenty-two. You the oldest?”

“Only child,” he says shortly.

The food is gone, and she leans over to put the plate back on the dresser. Out of the corner of her eye she sees his pants, a folded piece of paper peeking out of the back pocket. “Jayne?” she asks, remembering the post point, “why ain’t you with your Ma?”

He’s not going to lie to her. “Weren’t safe for her, havin’ me around.” He’s not going to tell her the whole story either.

He thought his face clearly signaled the end of that discussion, so he’s startled into stillness by her gathering him into her arms. She’s afraid she’s hurt him, and her fingers are tender as they smooth over his forehead, her lips are soft as she kisses away his crow’s-feet. She holds him close to her breast and feels him relax slightly. “Sorry,” she whispers, looking at him so sweetly that she glows into another moment of beauty. She pushes away a little and kisses down his chest.

“whoo dahn” “stupid” / “xiao mei-mei” “little sister”

Continue: Part 3/21
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