A number of thoughts ran through Jayne's head, which rarely happened to him. The first was Hell, if I kiss her, she'll lose. The one immediately following was Hey, I think she wants me to kiss her! Then came Wait a second…this is River. Crazy girl who gored me with a knife. There were a few other thoughts, too, that weren't quite so savory.
His eyes flicked up to meet River's again and his mind went blank. Her big brown eyes that he'd thought so childish before were strikingly adult, long, dark lashes sweeping over them like a veil. Jayne realized that he'd never really looked into a woman's eyes like this before. Girl. Not a woman, a girl, one part of him argued. But another part of him that Jayne tended to pay more attention to was insisting that she was, indeed, a woman. And if she wanted him to kiss her, who was he to turn her down? I mean, he could do the girl a favor. Couldn't he?
Inexplicably nervous now, Jayne tried to recall her exact wording to see if she had really meant what he thought she meant, but everything had fled his mind except for those liquid eyes and the full little pout below them. River leaned towards him, just the slightest bit, and he saw her tongue moisten her lower lip unconsciously.
Jayne might not be the brightest star in the sky, but if there was one thing he knew, it was when someone was coming onto him. He started to lean towards her when her exact words finally resurfaced in his mind. Never have I ever…been kissed.
Never? Holy God, the girl wasn't just a virgin, she was an innocent. She was a child! He pulled back then, determined to not take advantage of a drunk girl no matter how enticing she was, how soft her lips looked, how enchanting her eyes were, how that dress clung to sweetest and mildest of curves—
Jayne shut his eyes hard against this train of thought and grabbed the almost-empty bottle of hooch. He drained it in a single gulp, ignoring the fire that burned his throat. He opened his eyes to see River, eyes shiny with disappointment. The girl may be a super-genius, he thought, but she's still a girl. And she's still just been rejected. Jayne set down the bottle and leaned back against the wall, shutting his eyes, exhausted by the whole situation. He wondered if she'd cry. God, he hoped she didn't cry. Jayne could handle being at gunpoint and being knifed and participating in any and all of the most dangerous jobs in the 'Verse, but a woman crying made him scareder 'n a nervous rabbit.
"Didn't put your finger down," River said finally, almost inaudibly. Jayne, without opening his eyes for fear of what he might say, shook his head.
"That's 'cause I ain't never been kissed. I'm the one who does the kissin'."
He heard a soft exhale and only then did he realize he'd just sharpened the sting of her rejection with his words. Gorramit, women were so complicated!
He felt a hand curl around his, tucking his ring finger down under his palm. He opened his mouth to say something and then her mouth was covering his. He opened his eyes in shock and was disconcerted to see that her eyes were open, watching him to see his reaction. After a moment she pulled back.
"Now you have," River said quietly, releasing his hand and trailing her fingers down his leg on the way back to her lap in a way that she probably didn't know sent shivers under Jayne's skin. He took a moment to find his voice again.
"That wasn't a kiss," he said finally, and his voice was rougher than he'd expected. God, she hadn't even moved. It had been like kissing a warm wall, and she had him all riled up.
"Was so," River shot back defensively, and her lips pulled into that perfect little pout again and Jayne couldn't stop himself.
He got to his knees, leaned towards her, and took her waist in his hands. She was so small. He pulled her towards him, easily as a doll, and one of his hands came up to tangle in her hair right at the base of her neck and he kissed her. She stiffened at first, unsure, but Jayne brought her close against his body and molded his lips to hers, taking it slow and careful, lips closed, eyes closed. Then her body suddenly yielded under his hands and she melted into him. Her sharp angles disappeared and he felt like he was holding a precious object, something priceless. His hands felt massive and clumsy on her delicate body.
Then her lips opened against his and her hot breath rolled into his mouth, wine-flavored, and he opened his eyes and her eyes were finally closed, lids fluttering like she was dreaming, and that was all the permission he needed. He lifted her bodily and stood, setting her on the engine and forcing himself between her thighs so that he could feel her body pressing against his again. Her hands found his chest and she braced herself on him as though she thought she might collapse. Her legs wound around his waist and pulled him closer, and his tongue swept her mouth and he felt her gasp and her whole body shudder. One of her hands snaked upwards and cupped around his neck and she pulled him closer, pressing herself against his body as though she could dissolve into him.
Jayne pulled back then, breaking the kiss and letting go of her so quickly she almost fell off the engine, which hummed and pulsed under her. For a moment she didn't open her eyes, hands held gracefully in the air as she struggled to catch up to what had happened. Then she opened her eyes, wonderingly, and one hand hovered over her lips as though she was afraid to touch them.
"Oh," River said faintly.
"That was a kiss," Jayne said, not a little shakily himself. River swallowed hard and held up her hand, tucking down the final finger.
"I lose," she whispered.
Jayne opened his mouth to make a witty reply—or say something like "ha," one of the two—but then footsteps could be heard pounding down the hallway towards the engine room and he heard a shot go stray and Mal's voice shout a colorful curse directed towards the idiot firing a gun inside his ship. There was a heavy sound as someone released the lock on the engine room and Jayne stood up and grabbed Vera, relieved as all hell to finally get out of this room.
Mal, Kaylee, Inara, and Simon, carrying an unconscious Zoe, piled in through the door and then it was hurriedly slammed shut again and the lock was reengaged.
For a moment there was no sound but the heavy breathing of the four who had just entered the engine room. Then Kaylee said, a little breathlessly, "Why's it smell like liquor?"