Series: Carnival #10
Summery: “Lost and all alone, Jayne,” she whispered, bending down to eye level with him, eyes wide and sad. “He’ll be cold and have no one to fix his breakfast!”
This is it. Last one. Im counting it as a 2005 fic, cause it was finished, just needed a final reread and posting. An epilogue will be along at some point, but i wanted to thank everyone who has read, and everyone who has enjoyed this as much as I have.
Happy New Year.
Rocks crunched under his boots as he trudged along, girl asleep slung over his back, and he wondered again exactly how this night had ended so strange.
It started fairly normal, by his reckoning. It weren’t his fault all the whores had the night off and he ended up with the crazy girl.
Really, it weren’t his fault.
But somehow, he’s ended up carrying her back to Serenity after letting her cry on him and taking her on rides and everything. And he keeps finding himself doing things a man like him don’t do.
Like running his thumb over a small scar on her knee and wondering how she came by it.
It was a good thing she weren’t heavy, ‘cause he didn’t realize how far they really was from Serenity when he agreed to carry her. She was a warm weight against his back, arms wrapped around his chest. Her breath was light and even, and her slack mouth was soft against his neck.
She was probably drooling on his good shirt.
Not that it mattered. She had already cried all over it. Twice.
He hoisted her back up from where she was sliding down some, and scowled at the ground.
He was going all soft. Carrying a girl home ‘cause she was tired. Riding the gorram Ferris Wheel.
Next thing you know, he was gonna be writing poetry or something equally stupid.
The girl shifted, tightening her knees around his sides and murmuring into his shoulder. She still had one little hand resting over his heart. It had slid once, and she had almost woke up ‘til she resettled it.
She had sighed his name again and everything.
Gave him a funny feeling in the pit of his stomach. Like that poison feeling he had gotten earlier when she gave him those eyes and he found himself agreeing to all kinds of things.
He ran his thumb over the small scar on her knee again. Her skin was satin smooth under his rough hands.
She was sliding down again, and with a sigh of relief, he saw they were almost back home.
The ramp was standing open, lights shining bright, but Jayne stopped right outside the circle of light.
The girl sighed, but she didn’t wake up.
Jayne adjusted his grip carefully, fingers tightening on the smooth skin of her knee.
When he walked up that ramp, she wouldn’t be his problem no more. Her brother and the preacher and the captain would have to watch her and keep her from doing something stupid, like making castles out of all the couch cushions, or climbing into the air vents to hide things. He sure didn’t care.
Then why weren’t he moving to take her inside and dump her on someone else?
She rubbed her cheek against his shoulder like a kitten, and that weird feeling crawled back into his gut.
He took a deep breath, pushing that uneasy feeling down, and headed for the ramp.
They was lucky. Nobody was moving on board, and he tried to walk as quiet as he could to keep from waking no one.
His arms were starting to ache a little, with the strain of keeping her weight balanced on his back, so he headed towards the passenger dorms with the plan of dropping her on her bed. Then he was done with her.
Tomorrow, he’d get rid of the poison in his system that had something to do with her, and he wouldn’t be thinking on how good it felt when she was leaning up against him on the Ferris Wheel. And he certainly wouldn’t be thinking on the shy little smile that she gave him from under her lashes when he put his hand over hers.
It weren’t until he got within a couple of steps of her room that he thought to wonder where the doc and Kaylee might’ve ended up.
He really didn’t wanna be walking in on nothing involving the doc nekkid. Now, if it was just Kaylee nekkid, that would be alright, but Jayne gave a little shudder at the idea of the doc walking around wearing nothing.
Maybe he should dump the girl somewheres else.
But, the only other place he could think of was Kaylee’s bunk, and he was right back at the same problem of seeing the doc in the altogether.
Jayne grimaced, and headed up the stairs to the mess, shifting the girl on his back into a slightly more comfortable position.
This was getting complicated. And she was getting heavy.
Fortunately, there was no one in the mess hall neither, and he sighed in relief as he headed for the couch.
He sat on the edge careful like. He didn’t want to drop her, just get her off of him, so he can get back to life without crazy girls hanging on him or ruining his good shirt.
He ran his thumb over that little scar one last time. There was something soothing about it. She had sighed as he sat down, and her feet hung down on either side of him as his hands slipped from her knees.
But her arms were still wrapped around him tight, and that little hand of hers was still pressed up against his heart.
He rested his hand over her smaller one for a moment, taking a deep breath for reasons he didn’t wanna think on too hard, before slipping his fingers through hers and lifting her hand away.
She stirred against him, hand turning in his to thread her fingers back through his. She rubbed her nose against his arm sleepily.
“Time for bed, girl,” he said, his voice unexpectedly soft.
She hummed against his back, tucking her face into the hollow of his shoulder blades. “She is happy where she is.” Her other arm slipped around his waist, hugging him back against her like a giant teddy bear.
She giggled softly, peeking over his shoulder at him with hazy eyes. “Not a bear, silly Jayne. Like a…” The girl suddenly sat up straight, hand catching in the fabric of his shirt. She stood up behind him on the couch, fingers still caught in his. A worried look crawled onto her face. “Jayne?” She asked, tightening her hand into a fist in his shirt. “Jayne, where’s Turtle?”
She turned anxious eyes on him. “Turtle isn’t here, Jayne!” She rubbed her eyes tiredly, still holding onto his hand tightly. Worry was turning her mouth down into a frown.
He looked around, like he expected that stupid squishy Turtle to show up in a corner somewheres.
She tugged on his hand anxiously, knuckles turning white she was holding on so hard. “Lost and all alone, Jayne,” she whispered, bending down to eye level with him, eyes wide and sad. “He’ll be cold and have no one to fix his breakfast!”
Jayne pulled himself to his feet. “Your turtle’ll be fine ‘til tomorrow, girl,” he said gruffly, trying to ignore the worried little face looking at him. He tugged his hand out of hers, and tucked his hands in his pockets, unsure what else to do with them.
Her hand wavered in the air for a moment, reaching out for him before she let it fall to her side.
She looked up at him, big eyes watching him trustingly. “Promise?” She stepped off of the couch, boots thudding lightly on the floor, and stepped towards him. “Turtle will be fine until this girl can go get him tomorrow?” Her face was still anxious, but she seemed willing to listen to reason.
He nodded, absently reaching out and pulling the strap of her dress back up on her shoulder from where it had slipped. He found his fingers lingering, and she dropped her head to rub her cheek against the heel of his hand, her eyes slipping closed.
He dropped his hand sharp when she did that, and he tried to rub the feeling of her soft skin off on his pants. He licked his lips nervously.
“He will be alright?” She asked again.
He blinked. “What? Oh, your turtle.” He nodded, kinda inanely. “Yeah, he’ll be fine.” He grabbed her elbow gently, steering her back to the couch. “Go on and get some sleep.”
She sank down onto the couch, those wide eyes of her focused on him. “There is no cover. The sand will all blow away.”
“What?” Jayne asked again. He had a feeling that he had said that a good deal tonight. He grimaced as he grabbed a blanket off the back of the couch and settled it around her.
She curled up, pillowing her head on one arm. She smiled up at him, softly, sleep already pulling her eyelids down. “Thank you for my date,” she murmured. “I had a very nice time.” She yawned and pulled the blanket higher. “Goodnight, sweet Jayne.”
“I ain’t sweet, girl,” he protested, but she was already asleep, a faint smile hovering on her lips. “I ain’t sweet,” he said again, tucking an errant lock of hair behind her ear from where it was trying to fall over her face.
And he weren’t. Really.
Sweet ain’t a word used to describe Jayne Cobb. Not if peoples knows whats good for them.
But this little bitty girl made him feel all kinds of funny inside. And made him act all out of character.
Which is why he was cursing himself for a rutting fool an hour later, wandering around the abandoned fairground, looking for that gorram turtle.
He really was gonna be writing poetry next, based on how he was doing.
He was half exhausted himself, and he still had one more walk back out to Serenity waiting for him, so he was humped if he was gonna leave without that thing when he had already gone to all the trouble to come back out here.
He scowled and kicked at an abandoned candy apple. It made a satisfying thunk against the side of a booth.
He was pretty sure the turtle had never made it to the Ferris Wheel, so it was probably on the roller coaster thing, if nobody had snitched it.
And that gorram ride was all the way on the other side of the fair.
He dragged himself over there, hands in his pockets and not thinking about why he was out here retrieving the girl’s silly turtle instead of being tucked up comfortable in his own bunk.
But if he didn’t get it, and it rained, she would cry. Probably on him again. And then he’d had another shirt of his get ruined ‘cause of her, and he couldn’t have that.
So, that’s why he was here. Getting the girl’s turtle.
He finally caught sight of the thing shoved under the game operator’s booth at the kiddie coaster that had upset her so much. Jayne grunted in satisfaction as he fished it out.
The vest was a little wrinkled, but Turtle himself seemed to be in alright shape. Jayne studied the calm face. “Well, old man,” he told it, “Think you’ve had a more exciting day than you planned, didn’t you?”
Turtle smiled benignly up at him.
Jayne shook his head at his own foolishness and tucked the thing under his arm. “Let’s go then,” he sighed. “Get you back to the girl, so she don’t feel the need to cry on me again.”
It was another long walk back to Serenity, again lugging something that weighed almost as much as the girl.
Turtle dangled from under his arm as he trudged back.
This was the end of it.
Tomorrow, she could look at him all she liked with those big eyes, and it wouldn’t matter one lick.
He was done doing things for girls who were so little that her hand disappeared inside his. He was done watching out for crazy girls and their turtles.
He nodded firmly to himself as he staggered up the ramp, yawning wide. He just needed to get the squishy thing to her, and then he was done for good.
She was still sleeping on the couch, all curled up in a ball, blanket half kicked off of her.
He blinked in tired confusion. Shaking his head, he dropped Turtle beside the couch and straightened the blankets back out.
Didn’t want her getting cold, after he went to so much trouble for her, he told himself.
She made a sleepy noise, twisting under the blanket, one hand patting the space beside her like she was looking for something.
He tucked Turtle up careful under that little hand, pulling the blankets up over the both of them.
The girl sighed in her sleep and pulled the turtle close to her, snuggling her nose down into his head.
Jayne stood and watched her for a second. Her hair was falling down over her face again, and he itched to brush it back. His hand was moving without him telling it to, but he scowled and forced it back down.
He was done, remember?
He stood there, arguing silently with himself, hands in fists at his side.
Finally, he sighed, jerking his shoulders back irritably. He was going to need to find a word that rhymed with “stupid” for his new poetry venture.
Rolling his eyes at his own foolishness, he looked around careful to make sure no one was around.
She had twisted around to lying on her back, hair covering her face, head turned towards him. One arm was wrapped around the turtle, and the other was tucked under her cheek.
She looked startlingly young, and he hesitated, biting his lip.
Slowly, like he thought she was gonna scream or something, he smoothed her hair back, his fingers lingering on her jaw line.
She sighed, turning her face into his hand.
Her mouth looked soft, and before he could stop himself, he traced her bottom lip with his thumb.
“Jayne,” she whispered against his fingers, the vibration leaving a strange buzz traveling up his arm.
He jerked back like she had burned him, but she just rolled over onto her side, Turtle tucked tight against her, still asleep
He checked her blanket again, and then swore silently at himself.
He was stalling.
For some reason, he didn’t wanna leave this girl tonight. Crazy, turtle, and all.
The fact he was more than half asleep standing up, and no longer thinking real clear was obvious, and he shook his head. He touched the crown of her head gently once more before he turned to go.
As he left, the girl on the bed hugged Turtle tighter. Smiling in her sleep, she dreamed of Ferris Wheels and cotton candy and a mercenary carrying her home from the fair.
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