Disclaimer: Not my characters. I'm only playing!
Summary: Jayne comes to Kaylee with a request
Notes: I've had this rattling around in my head for over a year now (possibly close to 2 years). It didn't come out quite as nicely as it sounded in my head, but I hope it's all right. Written as a penalty for missing a couple weekly hatchings.
There were clanks and rattles and clinks and bangs as Kaylee's tools made slow and steady work on the engine. Her work was so consistently loud that she didn't hear anything else. She certainly didn't hear anyone approach. So when she reached out from under the engine for her seven-ninths ratchet and felt the toe of a boot instead, she shrieked with surprise. Kaylee slid out from underneath and stared up. “Jayne? What are you doin' here?”
Everyone else was off on the planet, having drinks or seeing the sights or restocking the… stock or something. Even Simon and River had gone and every one of them had left with the intention of staying out of trouble. Kaylee was supposed to have been the only one on Serenity.
Jayne looked down at her, hesitating, then squatted down beside her, forearms resting on his thighs. “Ya got a sec?”
She shrugged. “M'doing some repairs here. Can it wait? If we're aiming to leave the planet by tonight, I gotta have this engine up and running.”
He looked at the parts and tools spread out around her. Shaking his head, “It's about the repairs actually.” He rubbed the back of his neck then just spat it out, “Don't install the R-92B Filter.”
Kaylee sat up, staring with disbelief. “What?”
“You got an R-92B Filter here, right?”
She nodded. “Yeah, for the air regulator.”
“Well, I'm asking ya not to use it.”
Kaylee laughed. “The Cap'ain doesn't get me new parts often. In fact… today's a first. This ship deserves better than she gets. And if Mal finally springs for some decent new parts, you better believe I'm using 'em.” She shrugged. “'Sides, I don't have the time to go track down a replacement part.”
“I'll get you a replacement. A nice R-91 or R-88. You gotta love those R-88s.”
“But the R-92B is top of the line. And it fits in so nicely.”
Jayne gave a start. “Wait, you put it in already?”
“But I you couldn't have turned it on.”
“Right.” She cocked her head. “What is this about Jayne. Since when did you care about what parts I use? Come to that… since when did you know the names of parts?”
Jayne paused and looked over his shoulder, as though he expected someone to be sneaking up on him. But they really were alone on the ship and Jayne seemed to have come this far already. “Look, the R-92B and I don't get along so good. Can't we just leave it at that? You take it out and I'll swap it for a brand new older model and we'll both be happy.”
With her hands on her hips, she stared straight at him. There were only a few reasons he would care and know about parts of the system. And that word 'swap' seemed to trigger something in her mind. “Who do you owe it to?”
“No one,” he told her.
It wasn't as if she ever truly believed him. “Well you gotta want it for some reason. You gonna sell it for the money?”
Jayne said, “I just don't want it anywhere near me.”
“But I can't help but notice that you ain't sayin' why.”
He paused again, but this time he got up and took a few steps back. “Like I said. We don't get along too good.”
“And what's that supposed to mean 'xactly?”
Jayne swore in Chinese under his breath. Then, gritting his teeth, the man answered her, “There's something in that filter that makes me sneeze.”
Kaylee laughed. She couldn't help it. “Quit pulling my leg, Jayne. I've got work to do.”
“I ain't kidding you.” As she moved to resume her work on the system, Jayne reached out and grabbed her arm. “It makes me sneeze.”
Kaylee sighed. “Fine.” She wrenched her arm free of his grip. “If I say I believe you, will go go and let me get my work done?”
“Only if you let me switch out the parts.”
Kaylee narrowed her eyes at him. She was pretty sure she had never heard something to bizarre and far-fetched in her life. Jayne was clearly reaching for excuses here.
“If you don't believe me,” Jayne said, gritting his teeth, “flip the switches and try it out. That will prove it.”
Still highly suspicious, Kaylee reached over and pretended to switch on the air regulation system. Instead, she switched on the engine cooling fans. And she crossed her arms, glaring at Jayne. She expected him to pretend to sneeze his head off and, when he did, she would catch him in the glaring lie.
Nothing whatsoever happened. After a few seconds, he rubbed at his nose and closed his eyes. “Uh, sometimes it takes a few seconds to kick in.” A few seconds passed. Then a few more. Still nothing happened. He frowned and figured it out far faster than Kaylee had expected. “Either you didn't install it properly…” He opened his eyes and stared at her. “Or you didn't switch it on.”
Kaylee looked, pretending to analyze the situation. “Oh, you know what? You're right.” She flipped it on for real.
It didn't take a few seconds. It didn't even take one second. Immediately Jayne's nose twitched and his face fell. His mouth opened and his arm flew up. “ihhhChhh! HihTchhh! IhhShhhh!” he sneezed into the sleeve of his red fighting elves shirt. There was practically no pause between sneezes. “hitChah! ihChoo! Hitshhhhh! HetChhhhh! Ehchhhhh!” They just burst from him, one after the other after the other. “HihhChh! IhhChh! IhCHIHH!”
“Bless. All right. Nice goin'.” Kaylee had to admit this was one impressive display. Both looking at him and listening to him, she could almost believe he was actually sneezing.
“hihhhh-IHShhh! IhChh! ihhShhhh! Ihh-Shihh!” He didn't speak. He didn't pause. “ihTchoo! IhhChhh! IhChh! Ihh-HIHChhh!” He couldn't talk. He couldn't breathe.
“Jayne?” He was carrying this a little far now. “I get it. That's enough.”
“ihhShhh! HihShhh!” He switched arms, needing a dry spot, his nose constantly twitching with need.
“Kay-IHShhh! Hitchhh!” He raised his hand, pointing toward the engine, motioning desperately.
Quickly, Kaylee switched off the system.
“ihShhh-shh! HihShh!” It took a full minute for the sneezes to subside. He plucked at his dryer sleeve and rubbed the cloth roughly against his nose. “Uhghh…” Exhausted, he leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes. “Will you let me get rid of the goram R-92B?”
Kaylee searched her toolbox and withdrew the least dirty rag she could find. There were still a few smudges on it, but it would stand up better than Jayne's t-shirt, that was for sure. She handed it to him, and he took it gratefully, blowing his nose ferociously. If he had been faking the sneezes, his nose wouldn't be dripping like this. She felt incredibly guilty, and she grabbed her tools in order to get to the filter. “You'd better get me something just as good,” she said, handing it over.
He snuffled and nodded, gratefully accepting the part. “Thanks,” he said, giving his nose another blow and dabbing a little at watery eyes. “And… if you ever tell anyone you saw me like this…”
“Who would believe it? Just make sure to get something good as a replacement or we ain't taking off and you'll have to explain to the captain why not. Got it?”
“Got it.” Jayne took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He lowered the rag, and Kaylee giggled to see the black and gray smudges it had left on his face. She might have said something, but they made him look more authentic for when he went to acquire a new part.