Another Girl Another Planet Ch.2
Saturday, May 13, 2006

Serenity has a cargo and a passenger. The cargo is bothering Mal. The passenger is bothering Jayne.


2. Ain’t Misbehavin’

The small woman bothers Jayne. He can’t figure it - she don’t look like nothing special, just...clean. An’ she’d just tidied herself into her cabin, no big fuss. An’ River hadn’t gone nuts and torn the place up so that was probably an okay. Captain had looked in on her when she didn‘t show up for dinner ‘cos he was soft like that with passengers, and she weren’t hungry, which just left more for everyone else, so Jayne didn’t see the fuss. Still, she bothered him.

She’d bothered him even more when she suddenly appeared out of the shadows by the stairwell he was sitting on. Even in them fancy boots, she walked near as quiet as the crazy.

“Ah. Um, hello. Would you direct me to the galley? Space travel makes me wakeful, and I’ve the need for a drink.”

Hell, Jayne could get behind that notion. He’d shown her the kitchen, where stuff was, and she’d made tea, which was no drink for a man, ‘cept then she’d put a shot of something out of a hipflask in the pot, and that was some powerful stuff, smoother and warmer than the rotgut he could usually afford.

He don’t know what to say to her, exactly. But she smiled at him, settled with her cup, and it was fine just sitting. Asked his name, called him ‘Mr Cobb’. Far as Jayne’s concerned, no-one’s ever called him that ‘cept certain Federal Authorities. But it sounded fine, the way she said it. She’d treated him polite, and not ‘cos he was big and armed. It was kinda like she was makin’ fun, but letting him share the joke. He shifts on his bunk, hunches under his blanket. Green eyes watching him, an’ pouring him tea like she was in her own kitchen. And long hair. Without that hat, turns out she has a braid of dark hair down past her shoulders.

Jayne has a thing about long hair on a woman. Something he can’t explain. Just so damn sexy to have a mane of hair fall across your chest. And this hair is shiny clean. Dark brown, with a dash of red in it where the light hits. All tied back and safe and proper, but he’d bet that it was something wild when let loose.

Smile back over her shoulder as she wished him ‘good night.’

She bothers him plenty.


River has been aware of the new mind on board. She doesn’t skullwalk - bad manners - but she looks for what the Captain asked for. The mind is open, cheerful, likes the ship, which will please Kaylee. Thoughts are trees and sky and mountains, strength of stones. Strength and muscles...

River blinks, backs out of that thought.

Ilargia opens her door, finds a girl watching her this time. Little dark-haired thing with huge eyes.

“Good morning. It is morning, isn’t it?”

Child tilts her head, frowns.

“Diurnal measurements are meaningless unless applied to terrestrial bodies.”

Okay. Factually accurate, but weird.

“Well, this terrestrial body reckons it’s breakfast time.”

Girl pulls a face, becomes suddenly human.

“My brother’s cooking.”


There isn’t really a great rush to breakfast. The good doctor, whilst willing, is no great shakes with a pan. Mal reckons that years of hospital canteen food have blunted his tastebuds. Still, he steps into the dining room, and stops, surprised. Their new passenger has appropriated a pinny she’s found (it goes round her twice) and is stirring something that smells just fine to Mal.

“Hope you don’t mind, Captain Reynolds, Simon said I might help.”

Simon, who has basically just watched, has the grace to look a bit shamed, but with his face, it’s kinda hard to tell.

There’s a slightly undignified scramble to get served before Jayne gets stuck in. (“Oh, hey - fresh biscuits!”)

In addition to the biscuits, there’s a porridge with an unexpected kick of chillies, and something scrambled that she’s managed to make taste of eggs. Leans over to put the coffee pot down, and she’s wearing a tight vest - pictogram reads ‘bad kitty’, Jayne knows, ‘cos he’s reading it. Woman can cook.

“Way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” River frowns. “Anatomically inaccurate.”

“Working just fine for me.” Mal makes a grab for the last biscuit, loses out to the longer reach of Jayne, who smirks at him.

“I like a man with an appetite.” No calculation in it, but she over reaches for the plate, finds her balance on the nearest shoulder. Absolutely aware of each other in that moment, her smell of soap and her soft warmth against his hard muscle, and him, unmistakably male, sweat and gun oil. River sways, disorientated, unbelieving that nobody else can feel that, but conversation continues...He’s watching her hips as she walks back to the kitchen, and she thinks he might be.

Comes back with a second batch of biscuits, which shows foresight, ‘cos for damn sure nobody left any first time out. Slips into a chair at the side of the table, puts her between Kaylee and Zoe, and reaches to see if there’s any porridge left.

Mal had it in mind to keep the Tams out of her way for the voyage, but she and River are having a real intense conversation about books. Woman’s well-read. He just don’t know what to make of her. She’s clever, and while she’s not got a scrap of Inara’s beauty (who has?) she’s no troll. Core folk, but lives Rim style - not the first woman he’s met to do that, and there’s the stab of guilty memory. Wonders about her story, if they’ll ever know it all. Seems open enough with them, but he still can’t square her with Badger - or Badger with a cargo of soap.

Captain does a fair job of nonchalance, but he’s clearly curious about her. Mind you, she’s curious about Serenity. Half the ship’s crew seem to be babies, other half, a fighting force. Still, she’s been living out here a while now, and should know not to be surprised by anything. (She’s recognised the uniform elements Mal and the alarming Zoe wear; he’s that Malcolm Reynolds.) Captain’s a fine figure of a man and all, roguish charm and rugged looks, she’ll admit to that, and she could have been tempted by that sort of thing on any other occasion. Except...

Kaylee is prepared to like Ilargia - she likes everybody, pretty much, even Jayne - but there’d been no denying just a whisper of unease, seeing her and Simon all cosy in the kitchen and all. Then Ilargia says she has a baby brother Simon’s age, back on Londinium. Like it’s no big deal, being as Alliance born and bred as you can get, and a very long way from home.

Zoe is keeping a wary eye on their new passenger. She’s friendly and polite to everyone, but doesn’t try and ingratiate herself, ‘less you count the cooking, and that could be self-defence, some of the things come out of that kitchen. There’s no obvious threat - but Zoe’s still sore that that Saffron bitch got past her guard, and she doesn’t trust easily.

She’s a link to the world he left behind. Scared Simon to see her walk in with River, but they are doing nothing more alarming than talk books. She’s...ordinary. Smart, but not a genius, cultured, but not Society. Jayne’s snark at her looking like a Sunday School teacher wasn’t too wide of the mark - he could see her as a teacher, or a bank clerk. River is at ease with her, which counts for a lot.

Jayne don’t look at her, ‘cept out of the corner of his eye. ‘Course they all want to know what a classy woman like her is doing with lowlife like Badger. (Ain’t nothing horizontal, though, he’s willing to bet.) But all sorts of people got all sorts of reasons for being where they are, and not all of ‘em’s legal and decent. Soap seems harmless enough. The Doc has to come over all cultured, talking about fancy places, and it turns out their passenger is serious Central Planets, got a college education and smarts to rival his. But she ain’t fussed with him...

River knows this dance. Two people not looking at each other, while their minds are shouting. Curious as to her choice - why the brute when the Captain is around? There’s no poetry to the thug’s simple soul.

Afterwards, whilst she’s stowing the dishes, he comes up behind her. Walks quietly for a big man, but she knows it’s him.

“That’s my apron.” he says.

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“I don’t mind none...Them biscuits were good.”

“Jayne, quit bothering Ms Donovan.” Mal yells. Jayne jumps, and scoots.

Ilargia looks after him thoughtfully. She’s never been one for bad boys before, and that is the ultimate example. Big, rough, not at all a safe or sensible idea to go flirting with. He’s crude, uneducated, probably the most dangerous person she’s ever met. And damn but he’s sexy. Hangs the apron back up with a sigh.


River feels like a girl this morning, and dances along her catwalk. Cats have green eyes and they are intent on their prey. She cranes to see what the cat-lady is watching. Jayne is working out with his weights.

River nods. Mating ritual. Male displays to the female.


She’s watching him work out. Knows she shouldn’t, but what’s the harm in looking?

Oops. Quite a lot. He’s seen her.

“You gonna come down and talk, ‘stead of spying on a man?”

Doesn’t sound angry, though. Sounds...hopeful.

“Are you inviting me into the cargo hold, Mr Cobb?”

“Reckon I am, then.”

Makes a change from the crazy watching him. She always looks at him like he’s something in a jar. He misses having someone to talk to when he lifts - Shepherd was right good company. But she don’t look so prim in that little vest, and she was friendly enough last night...

Ilargia knows that this is a dumb thing to do. Though no dumber than sitting in a darkened kitchen in the middle of the night. She’d not been sure if he was a posted guard or not when she’d found him on the stairs. But he’d been a deal more civil than she might have expected. Tells herself sternly that big, sweaty, dangerous men are not attractive. (Much.)

Two slightly self-conscious smiles. Kinda like kids making friends at a party.

“ much are you lifting?”


Walking into the lounge area, Zoe finds Kaylee peering avidly out at something. The mechanic is grinning fit to bust, waves her over.

“Come’n’see this.”

Zoe peers out into the cargo bay, and her eyes go wide. There’s Jayne, sitting on his bench and telling some long and boastful story. And there’s Ilargia, leaning back on one of her own crates, listening and laughing in all the right places.

“I’ll be...” For the first time in a while, she feels like smiling.

“Reckon he’s sweet on her.”

Zoe reckons that’s because she’s female and in front of him, but she knows Kaylee’s a romantic. Looks down again at the pair. They are all used to Jayne and his horrible body urges. If their passenger is crazy enough to encourage them, she’s old enough and smart enough to deal with it. Maybe.

Simon pokes his head out of the infirmary.

“What am I missing?”

“Jayne’s courtin’.” Kaylee tells him. Simon shudders.

“Shouldn’t we rescue the poor woman?”

“And it’s usually the Captain has the chivalrous impulses.”

“It’s a doctor thing. Alleviate suffering, you know.”

To Kaylee’s mind, it don’t look like she’s suffering. Kaylee don’t pretend to be an expert on anything outside of the engine room, but she knows when people are flirting. Jayne looks at most women like they’re a steak dinner, but Ilargia’s looking at him like he might taste good, too.


Mal always finds it odd that on a relatively small ship, he can contrive to find any bit of his crew but the bit he wants. (‘Course, if you can’t find River, it’s ‘cos she don’t want you to, and no amount of looking will solve that.) Kitchen’s empty, engine room is quietly turning over...even the infirmary is silent. But there’s voices in the cargo bay, clash of metal.

He knows he’s not going to like it.

Their passenger, in a pair of goggles, is squaring up to Simon, similarly attired, with a metal cleaning rod apiece. Darts forward and jabs him in the shoulder, to whoops of delight from the audience.

There’s people having a gorram duel with engine parts in his cargo bay.

“What in the name of space is going on?”

Seems someone has been loose-lipped about a previous stop on Persephone, and once swords got mentioned, things got out of hand.

Ilargia pulls her goggles off, grinning, gives him an archaic salute.

“Looks like playtime’s over. This mean I got to turn my weapon in?” Without her bootheels, woman’s even smaller, turning up a pointed face to him. Not so clean and tidy now, flushed along the cheekbones. Watches the fun die out of her, and realises he‘s still scowling. “I apologise, Captain Reynolds. I certainly didn’t intend to interfere with anyone’s duties.” Subdued, polite. “It was kind of you to spare the time, doctor. I won’t take any more of it.” She puts the rod down, looks around for her boots. Big hand scoops them up for her. “Thank you, Mr Cobb. I‘ll take myself back to a more appropriate location. Ladies, gentlemen, Captain.”

Mal feels like he’s smacked a kitten, way his crew are looking at him. Only weapon that woman should hand in is her tongue.

“Aw, she didn’t hurt him none, Mal.” Unexpected champion. A bit of a swingaround in Jayne’s attitude there; Mal reckons it’s the breakfast talking.

“Din’t mean no harm, Cap’n.” says Kaylee timidly.

“It’s my fault for suggesting it.” Simon stops peering inside his shirt.

So now he feels like a bully and a martinet.

“Just wondered what was going on, is all.” Tries to keep his voice mild. “Don’t like people waving bits of metal around. Makes me all kinds of uncomfortable.”

“So I would imagine.” Ilargia wonders if she dare venture a smile. Perhaps not.

“Where d’you learn to swordfight, anyhow?”

“Oh, I used to at college, but I’m rusty as hell, now.” Still looked fast and nasty to Mal. “I really didn’t mean to challenge your authority, Captain.”

Jayne’s pissed. First off, woman was keeping him company - an’ she ain’t stuck up, cleaned up some of his stories for her, and she laughed at ‘em, too. Then everyone else turns up. Like he can’t be trusted, or something.

Everyone sharin’ their tales of journeys past. Kaylee is mad for tales of the Central Planets. Ms Donovan has few mighty fine tales of her own, involving what she calls ‘riotous student behaviour’ and Jayne thinks of as plain drinkin’ and fightin’. An’ then she gets to beating Simon’s ass round the deck with a cleaning rod. Jayne enjoyed that just fine. Woman’s fast on her feet, clipped him good a couple of times, not to hurt, but she’s making him look silly.

An’ then Mal has to go and spoil it. Poor little thing looks scared to death, way he’s scowling. Still, she ain’t scared of him. Normally, this would mean intimidating behaviour until the person concerned was scared of him, but he’d rather she came back and watched him lift, talked to him some more. Hell, cooked for him some more, too.


Ilargia thinks it prudent to remain conspicuously in the dining area for a while. She’s not quite convinced by Kaylee’s assurances that the Captain isn’t angry any more. Her body clock is still shot all to hell. Sound of the engines is soothing...


Mal has a fair idea of who might have been shootin‘ their mouth off. Finds him hanging about near the kitchen, which is not unusual at any time. Gets right up behind him before the big man notices, which is unusual.

Ilargia is sleeping in one of the chairs, and Jayne has his stare on, which is not something anyone deserves to wake up to. Mal taps him on the shoulder, dodges back hastily, as Jayne whirls round in a fighting crouch.

“Gorramit, Mal, don’t go creepin’ up on a man like that, it ain’t healthy.”

“Need a word with you, Jayne.”

Reluctantly, his merc grumbles down the corridor after him, until Mal thinks they are out of earshot.

“What was she doing in that cargo bay, first off?”

“I invited her.”


“We were talking.” Hitches a shoulder. “Weren’t no harm in it.”

“Talking?” Mal blinks. “You ain’t to bother that woman, dong ma? She’s a guest on this ship, and I’m not having you cause trouble.”

“Keeping an eye on her, ‘case she’s a problem, Cap’n.” Jayne’s trying for virtuous. And failing.

“You’re stalking her, Jayne. I find you’ve laid a finger on her...”

“Hell, I ain’t no rapist, Mal. A woman don’t want a piece of me, that’s her loss.” He looks quite hurt. Concept of Jayne having feelings to hurt is a novel one. “She said I bin bothering her?”

“No...” Mistake. The big face uncrumples.

“S’okay, then.”

“No, it ain’t. You don’t want to find yourself chained in the storage locker for the duration, you behave and tread careful.”

“I got manners.” Digs in a pocket. “An’ I’m always careful.”

Mal looks at the proffered foil packets with a numb horror.

“Just...don’t bother her.”

He makes it back to the bridge, shaking his head. River rolls her eyes.

“She likes him, too.”

If that was so, then the woman was crazier than their fly-girl. Mal winces, as River glares at him.

“He’s the lunatic.” (There are days when Mal wishes his co-pilot couldn’t read minds. And that she made sense.) “Lonely since the preacher went. Lonely before. Never noticed except as dirt and bullets. Put in eclipse by the new sun.” A long speech for River, but someone has to state the obvious. “Hard on a man, being a lone star.”

“You saying he’s found himself a moon to orbit?”

“Yes.” River’s grateful that someone sees what she does. So hard to keep it focused. “Doesn’t see him through our eyes.”

“Doesn’t know he’s mean, untrustworthy cuss, you mean?”


Kaylee is shaking her awake gently.

“You’re gonna get a crick in your neck like that.”

“Ah...oh, hell, was I drooling or something?”

“No. Looked kinda sweet. Leastways, your shadow thought so.” Kaylee grins.

Ilargia goes bright red.

“Is he this suspicious of all your passengers?”

“Don’t think he’s suspicious.” Kaylee’s still grinning. “You want a tour of the rest of the ship?”

“If it doesn’t involve the Captain snarling at me again.”

“Aw, I think he was just sore he didn’t get invited to play.”

“Well, I’ll beat him up next time, if you think it will help...” Wry tone makes Kaylee laugh, as they wander down the corridor.

So the dining room is empty when Jayne makes it back there.


Ilargia’s been impressed with the sharpness of the kitchen blades, and she’s not too surprised when she comes across him sharpening them. It would be him doing a job like that. Practical and dangerous. Watches the big hands, deft and deadly. Something about the way they handle the knives makes her shiver, and it isn’t fear. She’s been watching him for a minute or two before he half-turns his head, and she knows he’s been aware of her.

“Cap’n says I ain’t to bother you.”

“If I was bothered, you’d know.” Doesn’t quite dare to touch him, but the brush of her fingers past his bicep makes him relax into a slow, wicked smile.

“Reckon we’d all know.”

“Now, would it bother you if I sat here?”

“Don’t bother me at all.”

Conscious of her watching him as he strokes the blade down the steel. Not tryin’ to be suggestive, just comes out that way. She hesitates, bites her lip.

“I can never get the edge to stay on my kitchen knives. If it’s not a problem...could you teach me?”

“Be a pleasure.”

Learns quick. Don’t hold the blade like she’s afraid it’ll bite her. Stands behind her, shows her how to hold the steel. Small hands are lost in his.

Room seems to have got a little...warmer. Kinda...close, as it were. Step outside the door puts Jayne back in his own seat in a scramble. Ilargia hides a smile.

Simon is completely freaked out by the whole thing.

“He’s sharpening knives at her like it’s some kind of...”

“Foreplay?” suggests River. She’s lying on her bunk, drawing. Spares him half a glance. “You’re the doctor. Studied biology.”

Her brother really is too stupid to live.


Come the evening, Zoe has a fair idea of what she’s going to find when she gets to the kitchen. And she does. Except it’s Jayne at the stove, and Ilargia watching him.

“...Picked this recipe up on Santo, only they use fresh garlic there. Trick’s in the sauce.”

Now Zoe knows Jayne can cook - unlike her, he grew up planetside with real food - but she’s never bothered to ask where he learnt to. And she’s not seen him this chatty before.

“Aren’t I supposed to be cooking this evening?” she murmurs quietly to him, as she gets a drink.

“Well...” He shuffles, “I know you don’t like to, and...”

“...and you wanted to show off a little.” Not often Zoe grins at him. Cautiously, he half-grins back.

Wasn’t planning on a gorram audience, but she settles in, with that smirk of hers.

Ilargia walks carefully round Zoe. That’s one lady could snap her in half without sweating, and would, she puts one foot wrong on this ship. So she looks a little wary when Zoe turns her dark gaze sideways, says quietly,

“You know you’re setting up some trouble with that man?”

She doesn’t pretend to misunderstand, keeps her voice equally low.

“Not aiming for trouble from anywhere, Ms Washburne. Certainly wasn’t expecting trouble like that to come my way.” Cool gaze. “My sole intention was to get on a ship and take myself home. Fact you folks are a friendly crew’s just a bonus.”

“He could be a bit more friendly than you might care for. Not what you might be used to.”

Now one thing Zoe does know is that Jayne ain’t a rapist. She’d have shot him out of hand, she had any doubt on that score. Feels a mite bad portraying him as some kind of beast, but she wants to make sure the woman understands what she could be playing with.

There’s sudden old pain in Ilargia’s eyes.

“Appreciate the heads up, but...well, had me enough of so-called ‘civilised’ men. Spending time just talking, to a man makes me laugh and makes me feel good. He’s not what I’m used to, no.”

Zoe remembers. A cheerful grin, an appalling shirt, light and colour and fun after the horror of war.

“Sometimes they just blindside you.” she says softly.

“Do they ever.” Ilargia ventures a smile. “I’m a good girl from Londinium, and I shouldn’t be chasing bad men at my age.”

“Don’t think you have to chase that one.”

“Does kinda stand there, doesn’t he?” Serious look. “Day or two, you drop me off on Hecate, and we’re done. I don’t aim to stir anything that won’t settle again.”

Zoe is puzzled by Ilargia’s taste in men - Jayne’s an ugly untrustworthy collection of bad habits as far as she’s concerned - but the woman offers no threat to Serenity that she can see. Still bears watching, though, if only for the entertainment value.

Jayne has that look of a man who can see women talking, knows it’s about him, and can’t quite make out the detail. An’ them smiling at him don’t quite reassure as much as it could. But he don’t burn the dinner, an’ he gets to sit opposite her, an’ everyone is all kinds of complimentary, which don’t happen often.

An’ she’s gonna teach Kaylee how to make those biscuits come morning.


Saturday, May 13, 2006 4:32 AM


Will make a comment on all of them at the last one, you posted this morning.

Saturday, May 13, 2006 6:14 AM


It's about time the merc got a bit of TLC that he didn't have to pay for, and maybe the rest of the crew will see him in a different light afterwards?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 4:12 AM


I like the "dancing" between Jayne and Ilargia. Also like the way River is picking up the emotional interactions and is surprised that no one else seems to notice it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 8:45 AM


This is soooo well written. Just started on the series and my afternoon's projects are gonna have to wait. Four stars!

Thursday, July 27, 2006 6:07 AM


And now I'm getting the background...

I love how Ilargia just fits right in, and the dance between her and Jayne is wonderful. And the crew going to her rescue... excellent!

I was a little confused by the shifting POV, especially in the breakfast scene. Sometimes I couldn't tell who was doing the thinking.

Still, everyone's behavior is bang on, and the little hints of sweetness showing around Jayne's rough edges is sooo cute!

Saturday, September 16, 2006 3:38 PM


Oh, I laugh and laugh an laugh! This is great stuff!

Saturday, September 16, 2006 4:24 PM


And spcondoms!! The nurse thanks you for the spcondoms!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008 10:04 AM


This is the way I would like to write if it didn't totally rip anyone off. Short, to the point, still holding the feeling the emotion of the moment, the feeling of the character.

I might have said something in praise before and if so, I second it. If not, all due apologies and I need to get to your next chapter...



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