Everyone knew Jayne was acting strange, but they just thought he was pouting because Mal refused to allow him the monthly jello baths he'd requested. By the time Kaylee put Jayne's odd behavior together with the muffled clucking she heard through the wall between their bunks, it was too late to make him get rid of the chicken. She figured it wasn't any of her business if Jayne wanted a pet, so she kept it to herself. River on the other hand, announced it at dinner.
"I know a secret," said River, her eyes gleaming with mischief. Everyone paused with forks held halfway to their mouths. The last time River knew a secret they'd spent the next several hours trying to coax a sheep out of the septic system.
"What is it, sweetheart?" Simon asked.
"Jayne has a magnificent cock!"
For a moment no one moved, then at the same time Mal and Simon leapt from their seats at the table and tackled Jayne. Jayne struggled to fend them off all the while shouting that he had no idea what she was talking about. He had nearly escaped a number of times before being pinned to the ground with both Simon and Mal shouting questions and accusations at him. After a minute Kaylee spoke up.
"Geez Captain, I knew you don't allow pets on Serenity, but I never thought you'd get so worked up over a little old chicken."
Mal, Simon, Book, Inara, Wash, and Zoe looked blankly at Kaylee for a moment, then comprehension slowly filtered in. Shepherd Book was the first to break the silence.
"River honey, does Jayne have a rooster?"
"Yes. It's glorious." River sat down to the table and began happily humming a chicken related song as she cut her protein into small parallelograms.
"Now, would you mind gettin' the hell off me?" said Jayne.
Mal and Simon let Jayne off the floor while mumbling apologies.
"You should be sorry. I mean y'all ought to know better then to trust anything that comes out of her crazy mouth."
Simon shot Jayne a filthy look and opened his mouth to say something condescending, but before he could, Mal changed the subject.
"So, you have a chicken?"
"Rooster. Yeah, I picked it up on Persephone. Woulda asked, but I thought you'd say no. He won't be any trouble, I swear."
"Jayne, you know my policy on pets. If I let you have one, then Kaylee's got every right to bring home ten thousand baby kitties. You all make enough of a mess without extra critters that don't bring no profit."
"Doris's real clean! And he'll bring profit!"
"Doris?" the Shepherd asked with a cocked eyebrow.
"Somethin' wrong with the name Doris?" growled Jayne.
"It's just that roosters are male and Doris is a girl's na... Oh, I see."
From the side of the room Zoe snorted.
"So how is 'Doris' going to bring us profit other then deep frying him and selling him at the nearest space station?" said Mal.
"Don't you dare even talk like that, Mal. Ain't no one layin' one hand on that bird. He's not for eatin'. Doris is a warrior."
"A warrior. I'm training him for the cock fights on Chapin. Prize is 50 platinum."
"You won't let us cook him, but you're going to force him to fight to the death?" asked Simon.
"Why not? It's good enough for me, it's good enough for him. 'Sides, he's got to earn his keep."
"It all sounds so barbaric," said Inara.
Mal sat back down in his seat at the table and frowned for a while. Eventually he looked up and said, "We've got a week before we hit Chapin, you can keep him until then provided you clean up after him, but if I see even one bird dropping then we'll all be havin' chicken and dumplings for dinner that night. And if Doris wins, half the prize money goes toward Serenity's maintenance."
"Half. And I wanna meet this bird first thing after clean up. Now everyone sit back down and finish eating, we've all got to keep our strength up for the job on Chapin."
As everyone was settling back into their dinners, Wash remarked, "I for one hope Doris wins."
"Why's that, honey?" Zoe said. "I thought you liked chicken."
"Because I don't know about the rest of you, but one of the last things I want in this life is to have Jayne's cock in my mouth."
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