Series: Carnival #9
Summery: It was getting awful late, and folks was headed home from the fair.
Just one more after this. I'm kind of sad.
They was sitting quietly, her leaning on his shoulder and both watching the fair circle round on the Ferris Wheel. Serenity could be seen in the distance, the lights on the cargo bay doors glowing in the dark.
It was getting awful late, and folks was headed home from the fair.
The Ferris Wheel was the only ride still going.
Her hands were warm under his, and without thinking about it, he rested his cheek on her hair.
She made a little humming noise and shifted, hands burrowing under the buttons on his shirt. She stroked the skin at his belly gently with her thumb.
It felt good. Nice.
The ride was slowing, the people in front of them was getting off.
Their car swung gently above the ground, and her little hands were still lightly pressed to the skin of his stomach.
Jayne surprised himself with feeling a little regretful.
He should be falling all over himself getting off. He should be thrilled to think of handing the girl back over to her brother for someone else to worry over.
But it was nice up here, with an armful of sweet smelling girl and a little bit of a breeze. It took him a second to get around to nudging the girl into moving.
"Hey," he said into her hair. "Time to go home."
She hummed a little again, and tried to bury her head into his chest. Her eyes were closed.
"Come on," he jostled her some. "We gotta go."
"Wanna go on a ride," she murmured. She blinked against his arm.
She tried to pout, but she looked too tired. Her eyes were still a little red, and Jayne could still tell she had been crying, but she gave him a drowsy smile. "You are a good date."
"I ain't your date." His quiet words lacked any kind of conviction, and he shifted in his seat uncomfortably.
She sat up slowly, drawing her small fingers across his belly as she moved. He lifted his hand off of the top of hers, trailing his palm over her knuckles.
She shot him a look from under her lashes. Made her look a little shy and unsure. But at least she weren't using the full force of those big eyes on him. He weren't gonna argue with shy.
She was still leaning up against him, but it was their turn to get off the ride, and he even offered her a hand off without thinking about it.
She kept his hand even after stepping off, and they headed down the winding trail back to Serenity. She stayed close enough that he could feel the whisper of her dress flutter against his arm.
It was dark on the trail, and they both were quiet.
Jayne was trying not to think too much on the girl beside him, and how she felt all nestled up against him on the ride. And how she clung to his hand trustingly, knowing he'd get her home safe.
The girl stumbled a little, and he reached out automatically to steady her. She grasped at his shoulder, balancing herself with a big yawn.
"Sleepy," she muttered, pressing herself up against his chest. She yawned again, hair falling over her face like a curtain. "Too far to walk."
He brushed her hair back from her face with one hand. Sure enough, she was trying to walk with her eyes more than half shut.
"Well, we gotta. The mule headed back with Mal and Zoe hours ago." His hand was bigger than her head, and he realized that his fingers had somehow gotten tangled in her hair as his thumb brushed the back of her neck.
She didn't seem to mind. She rolled her head backwards, which resulted in him cradling her head in his hand. She rubbed her cheek against his wrist.
He blinked, but she was watching him calmly with sleepy eyes.
She wound her arms around his neck. "Carry her," she whispered, eyes slipping further closed.
He found his hands had wandered to her lower back. He could span her whole back with both hands, she was so little.
He was starting to get worried about this new tendency of his body parts to do things without him telling them too.
"I ain't gonna carry you," he told the top of her head, careful not looking at her upturned face. "You gotta walk, same as everybody."
She snuggled tighter into his chest, rubbing her nose in his shirt. "She is tired, and her feet will not work." Small hands skimmed down his shoulders caressingly. "She needs Jayne to be strong."
"Jayne is strong."
"Will Jayne carry her a little further?" She let her eyes drift open, and he felt her eyelashes brush against his neck as she stood on tiptoe. "He has taken care of her this night."
He felt himself nodding. His mouth was awful dry, for some reason. He couldn't carry her like this, all girl looking and soft in his arms. He would do something he shouldn't, or lose track of where they were, or trip and drop her.
He traced his hands up her back and down her shoulders to her hands 'round his neck, and gently pried her off.
Confusion showed in her sleepy face, but she didn't argue when he led her over to a stump on the side of the trail and had her step up on it.
"Pick a back will leave my hands free if I need 'em," was all he said as he turned around.
She nodded in understanding. Small hands settled trustingly around his neck as he slid his hands under her knees. She was a warm weight against his back, and he thought he might have imagined the brush of her lips against the skin on the back of his neck.
She was asleep within seconds, her head pillowed on his shoulder, and her hair falling down to tickle his neck and chest.
He tried not to think on her breath against his ear, or that she sighed his name softly as she was falling asleep.
One of her hands drifted down to cover his heart.
"Jayne," she murmured again. "Jayne."
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