CHECK MATE: White knight takes black knight. (5/22)
Wednesday, April 7, 2004

After a series of dodgy jobs, Jayne joins Serenity's crew.


Disclaimer: Firefly and most of these characters (the good ones) belong to Joss Whedon. If you like this fanfic it's because he's a genius. Some dialogue from “Out of Gas” included.

* * * * * CHECK MATE: White knight takes black knight.

* * * * *

Trouble with Stitch Hessian was he fancied himself the tough guy, a natural leader. Jayne Cobb knew it wa'n't so. Stitch talked big but when the chips was down, he di'n't have the stones for taking hard decisions. Jayne di'n't have respect for much in the 'verse, but strength always spoke to him. Liked to know where he was with a fella. His pop was a strong man. Strict but fair. Kept his boys in line with his belt when they was young. Far from resentin' it, like some o' them panty-waisted idiots you saw spoutin' off about children's rights an' such on the Cortex entertainment channels, Jayne took comfort in the certainty it gave him. You knew where you was with his pop. An' if he said you'd done good, you knew he meant it. His good opinion was hard-won an' all the more worth havin' for it. Stitch Hessian wa'n't nowhere near the man his pop was but Jayne was happy enough to run with him whilst things were goin' smooth. Whilst he had coin enough for liquor an' women.

So it di'n't distress him overly when he had to push Stitch out of that stolen hovercraft on Higgins' Moon. Jus' watched him tumble down backwards, arms and legs flailin' about like a broken windmill an' shriekin' like a gorram girl. Now, tossin' them strongboxes overboard was another matter entirely. Damn near broke Jayne's heart.

After giving Higgins the slip, Jayne made his way back home. Truth was he missed his mother an' the way she fussed over him, although he'd have cut his own tongue out rather than admit it. He liked the noise an' chaos of his family home. Even though his brothers and sisters were all growed up now, they still spent a lot of time visitin'. Matty, his favourite sister, was still at home. Her health had never been good an' besides, she'd always been a bit of a home buddy.

Jayne arrived home just before Christmas and they was all real glad to see him. His mother held him tight against her ample breast, tears of joy streaming down her face but the grunt his father gave him was the welcome that touched him most. Between men there was no need for gushin'.

Christmas came an' went an' so did New Year. Jayne was happy. His pop had a good welding job at the foundry and his brothers were working on ranches as cattle hands. A time or two, Jayne helped them out and was surprised to find that working with the beasts could be kind of peacifyin'. On top of that there was the fun of smackin' 'em.

Then one day, pop had a serious word with Jayne about him getting complacent and not standing on his own two feet like a man. Told him a grown man couldn't be livin' at home forever. Best find a job and quickly. Because the only people who cou'n't find jobs was them as wa'n't lookin' hard enough.

That's how Jayne came to enlist as an Alliance mercenary for a six months tour of duty, putting down rebellions on border planets. It was good work and paid well. Jayne revelled in the use of firearms – a long standing hobby of his. He was an excellent shot, best in the squad. Could shoot a browncoat rebel through the head from half a mile away. Only sometimes he liked to just wing 'em, 'cos firing extra rounds into 'em could be hilarious.

Only thing Jayne didn't like about the job was his Commanding Officer. Fella had come straight out of some Alliance military academy with a head stuffed full of book learning and no common sense. He and Jayne didn't see eye to eye. Jayne often questioned his tactics which led to him being threatened with a spell in the cooler. Weak-tea hundan never followed through with it, though. When his six months was up, Jayne was glad not to renew the contract.

His next job was on Greenleaf, working as body guard for August Kingsley, one of the planet's top lawyers. Man had endless amounts of coin but, as far as Jayne could tell, no backbone. Frightened of his own shadow, he was. Claimed to have legions of enemies because of his success in putting villains behind bars but Jayne smelt a lot of bragging coming off that claim. He was pernickity too, always whining about Jayne's boots dirtying up his fancy carpets and complaining that Jayne should do something about his “powerfully natural odour”. Whatever that meant. From his position on guard in the entrance hall Jayne would watch Kingsley going about his business. Which seemed to involve an awful lot of shuffling papers about and filing his nails. Filing his nails! Jayne could just imagine what his pop would have had to say about that.

One evening when Jayne had had to endure four hours at the opera they were confronted by a gang of scruffy youths who threatened Kingsley with an evil looking blade and demanded all his valuables. He instantly went pale and started trembling, looking to Jayne, who was lingering in front of the town whore house with a wistful expression, for protection. If it hadn't been for the rutting opera and the certain knowledge that Kingsley wouldn't give him time off for some female company, who knows, Jayne might have been in more of a mood to help him. As it was he just shrugged and let the gang make away with Kingsley's coin and jewelry. “Don't bother sackin' me,” he told his employer. “I quit. Workin' for you has become too damn embarassin'.” Kingsley took off for home, running like a girl in heels whilst Jayne caught up with the gang. The leader, spunky little fella, tried to stab him but Jayne yanked the blade from his hand and shoved him up against a wall, blocking his windpipe with his forearm. “Hey, mister, we di'n't mean you no harm...” one of the others said, “Here, take it all back...” and they held out their newly won spoils in shaking hands.

“Hell, no, I don't want that crap!” Jayne replied. “I just want this...” He let the boy he'd pinioned drop to the floor gasping for breath and turned the knife over in his hands, gazing at it admiringly. He'd fallen in love with this blade as soon as he'd laid eyes on it. “I'm gonna call her Binky.”

Next job Jayne took was on Verbena. Felt real proud walking into that factory knowing he was following in his pop's footsteps as a welder. Place smelt of burning, chemicals and sweat. Darn sight more manly than the last job. Had to keep your wits about you in this place. Demand for miliary skiffs was as high as ever and all of them needed gearshifts. Production was mostly automated, but some of it needed a man's eyes and hands. All the same, you had to keep up with the machinery or you was likely to get welded your own self. It was hot, demanding work and Jayne went home exhausted. Happy.

The foreman noticed Jayne's talent for the work and approached him with an offer of overtime on a 'special project' which Jayne eagerly accepted. Hell, it wa'n't like he had much of a life outside the factory and his mother had written saying how Matty's medicine was getting more and more expensive. Few more credits would help them out a lot. Make his pop proud.

The foreman's 'special project' involved converting ex-service skiffs into ships that could be used by slavers. Basically all Jayne had to do was cut out all the fittings so that the maximum number of slaves could be packed in. He never gave the morality of it a second thought. Most people was better suited to slavery than freedom anyway.

He stayed on Verbena till the end of March 2515. Would have stayed longer, but the foreman was arrested for creaming off some of the factory's profits and replaced by a woman with a face like a slapped arse who never laughed, not even at Jayne's best jokes.

Jayne found himself on the move again, finally pitching up on Three Hills, a dirt poor moon populated by small-holders. Began working for a widow woman with three fine-looking daughters but no sons. Outdoor work suited Jayne. Liked seeing the sky above him and feeling the soil beneath his boots. Liked the simplicity of cattle-rearing. The best bit was rounding them up. Sometimes Jayne would ride his employer's only horse, swooping up on the cattle from behind, swatting them with a leather strap, enjoying the feeling of power it gave him. Oh, and the daughters' admiring glances. Poor things rarely got to see any man at all, let alone one as muscled and vital as Jayne. Who was he to deny them a little pleasure?

Looking back on it he had to admit bedding all three of 'em had probably been a mistake. Stirred up such a hornet's nest of jealousy and rivalry that eventually Jayne got the sack.

It was Christmas time again, so Jayne decided to go back home for a while. Ha'n't seen his foks for near on two years. A lot had changed in them two years. Work was slow at pop's factory, an' his hours had been cut back. The ranch his brother Marion worked on had gone bust after the owner bought in a load of cheap feed that turned out to have been poisoned. Probably by some dumb-ass Independent faction still fighting for their pointless cause. Made no difference in the grand scheme of things, but for Jayne's family it made all the difference between living comfortable and finding life a struggle. Di'n't help none that Matty was sicker than ever.

Jayne boiled with the need to punch something until it bled. He worked a bit of it off with a street brawl after a few drinks but next morning the frustration and anger was still in him. He realized he needed to do something more useful than fighting for fun and decided he was gonna to get a good payin' job an' stick with it. He wa'n't gonna worry about whether he liked the boss or not. He was gonna work smart, toe the line and not let himself be distracted by womenfolk or liquor. He was gonna do the job an' get paid. And send as much coin as he could back home.

Best paying job – best legitimate paying job - Jayne had ever had was that six months working for the Alliance so he tracked down a few of his fellow mercenaries, looking for openings. Pretty soon found out that these days the Alliance was more interested in Public Relations than they had been. Not that they'd given up on putting down rebellions, just now they did it more subtle like. Instead of sending in uniformed men, they used freelance operatives, particularly men with bad reputations.

Marco Mendez was a man with a bad reputation. Physically the man was not exactly intimidating. Had the look of a greased weasel to Jayne. But he was a real desperado, prepared to do anything – anything – no questions asked. Which is why he got the plum wet work assignments the Alliance di'n't want to get their own hands dirty with. Jayne didn't much like him- there a vanity about the man that was almost girlish as well as hilarious, given how hideous he was – but Jayne figured he didn't have to. He just had to toe the line, earn the credits.

* * * * *

Jayne stood in the doorway of the bar and scanned the crowd for Marco and his side-kick Mateo. Mateo – another ugly sonofabitch. Workin' next to him, Jayne had begun to develop some sympathy for Kingsley's views on personal hygiene.

The room was crowded and noisy and the air thick with blue fug from tobacco and other smokers' leaves. Marco was deep in conversation with a tall man who, despite his attempts at looking dischevelled, had the aspect of a monied, powerful individual. Jayne made his was over to the table, pulled up a chair and straddled it like he was riding a horse.

The stranger threw Marco a querying look. “He one of yours?”

“Yes,” Marco nodded. “My tracker, Jayne Cobb.”

The other man acknowledged Jayne with a brief nod before going back to the negotiations Jayne had interrupted.

“I think you'll find this arrangement better than hard currency. The goods are much in demand. You should make a killing ... “He smiled at the pun. “More than one in fact.” He placed a couple of photographs on the table top. One a headshot of a man, the other a picture of the same man standing next to a woman, both of them dressed in brown coats. “These are the targets. Got word they landed on Demeter yesterday, bringing in the usual contraband – drugs, alcohol, maybe a few weapons, lot of unlicensed electronics. They'll probably bury the loot in some out-of-the-way spot and wait for their credits to clear before giving the contact directions for finding them. Your job is to track them down and kill them. Kill them both. Reynolds made a bit of a name for himself during the war and is just the sort of man rebel groups are looking for to provide a focus for their treasonable activities.”

Marco yawned, displaying a mouthful of rotten teeth. He was clearly bored by having to listen to an explanation for killin' these folk but Jayne raised a hand. “What about the woman?”

Unease flickered across the stranger's face at the unexpected intervention from a subordinate but he quickly replaced it with a cold smile. “I suggest you shoot her first. You won't kill Reynolds if she's got so much as a single breath left in her. Believe me. In this case the old saying that the female of the species is more deadly than the male is somewhat of an understatement.”

Jayne picked up the second photograph and examined the two faces staring out of it carefully. They di'n't look much, but looks could be deceiving. As he handed the picture back to the stranger, Jayne reran the deal in his head.

“Hey!” he said, a little too loudly making people at neighbouring tables turn to look. He dropped his voice and demanded “What's better than hard currency? How much are you payin' us?”

“Nothing. The deal is...”

Jayne slammed his fist down onto the table making the glasses shudder and people notice them yet again. “Nothin'? Don't see the percentage in that.” And he glared at Marco challenging him to disagree.

The stranger spoke again. Slowly. So that there was no misunderstanding his meaning. “The deal is this: you track and capture Reynolds and the woman. You use any means necessary to discover the whereabouts of the loot. Then you kill them both. The loot is yours, to keep or sell, as you see fit. Dealing in hard currency in these ... difficult times ... means our 'business association' could become public knowledge. Neither of us wants that.” He paused to assess the big man's reaction. Jayne was still glowering at him sullenly. “If, for some reason you do not fulfil your part of the bargain ... well, hard currency may be the least of your worries....”

The gorram hundan was threatenin' them! Jayne was outraged but bit his tongue and tried to think of the money he would be sending home as Marco shook hands on the deal. “Ees easy,” he said. “We keel your targets for you, take the loot. Easy.”

* * * * *

There was no denyin' it, the man was cool as a fresh poured beer on a central planet.. Sure, he was standing there with his hands in the air, but he wa'n't givin' off even the tiniest whiff of fear. Even seemed to be strugglin' to keep a smirk from creepin' over his face. As for the woman, she was so gorram ice-cold it was scary. Di'n't stop her being easy on the eye though.

“You want I should shoot 'em now, Marco,” Jayne asked, scrutinizing his quarry with a mixture of fascination and annoyance.

“Wait until they tell us where they put the stuff,” Marco ordered.

Tamade! He was at it again with the tryin' not to smile. Jayne felt insulted. “That's a good idea. Good idea.” He leveled his gun at Reynolds and the side kick again. “Tell us where the stuff is so's I can shoot you.”

Far from starting to plead for their lives as was usual – traditional almost – on such occasions, Reynolds just raised one hand a little higher, like someone in a position to call for silence. No sooner had the words “Point of interest? Offering to shoot us might not work so well as an incentive as you might imagine” left his lips than Jayne realized he was standin' slap bang in the path of an oncomin' whirlwind. He had an eerie certainty that everything was about to be turned upside down and that somehow the sorry liu mang standing there smilin' to himself would be the cause of it.

“Anyway, we've hidden it. So, you kill us, you'll never find it.” Smug. Yup, he was downright smug now.

“Found you easy enough.”

“Yeah. Yeah, you did, didn't you?” The whirlwind was gathering force. Jayne could hear it rushing in his ears and suddenly he was negotiating a deal of his own with this man he ought to have been killing. Instead he shot Marco in the leg. Which kinda terminated their partnership.

* * * * *

“This here's your bunk,” the Captain said, pushing the laddered doorway open. “No-one goes in there 'less you invite 'em. Likewise, you stay out of other folks' bunks 'til they tell you otherwise. On you go. Make yourself comfortable.”

Jayne felt awkward. He was eager to descend that ladder and explore his new home, but he didn't trust anyone enough to turn his back on them. The Captain seemed to understand his hesitation. “Well, I got captainin' to be doin'. If you're hungry, there's food in the kitchen. Jus' help yourself. Although we will be havin' a sit down meal at twenty hundred. Can't guarantee it'll be edible though. It's Zoe's turn to cook,” he explained with a grimace before striding off down the walkway leaving Jayne to unpack.

* * * * *

They were all sitting at a long wooden table gleaming with the polish of ages when Jayne appeared in the mess, attracted by the smell of cooking. He'd been expecting reconstituted protein cakes, but instead they were gettin' fresh produce. This Captain was more generous than most towards his crew. Jayne feared that might be a sign of weakness.

He cast a quick eye over the company, sizing up each person in a few seconds. The side-kick – Zoe – could handle herself. It stood out a mile. Her movements were confident, slow and assured, her body strong and lithe. She was leaning against a gingery-blond fella who seemed to be dancin' with nervous energy even when he was sittin' down. Strange choice of bedfellow for a tasty woman like that, but Jayne could tell their relationship went beyond ruttin' by the casual way they touched. Or di'n't.

Opposite them at the Captain's left was an empty chair – presumably intended to Jayne himself - and in the next seat was a pretty little thing with tousled chesnut hair and smilin' eyes. Small but with a good coverin' of flesh, a sure indication of a healthy appetite in all departments. Jayne couldn't help but leer at her as she met his eyes and was surprised by the rush of warmth that went through him when she smiled back sweetly before blushing and lowering her lashes with a flutter.

“Ah, here's Jayne Cobb now, “ Captain Reynolds announced, pouring the last what looked promisingly like hard liquor from a thick glass bottle into six enamel mugs. “Let's celebrate him joinin' the team with a little of Kaylee's engine-still firewater. He's a good fighter I'm thinkin' an' a second-to-none tracker.” He stood up and started doing the introductions. “You can call me Mal. Or Captain, if we're on a job. This here's Zoe, my second in command, and Wash, her husband. I hear he's a genius pilot but if he asks, I never said it.” He turned to the girl beside him and Jayne registered a softening of the Captain's face as he said, “An' this here's li'l Kaylee, our mechanic.”

Jayne nodded his hellos and sat next to Kaylee. Hadn't seen a woman in near on three months an' it felt good to be sitting with two right now. Couldn't help but take a deep breath jus' to catch the smell of 'em. For an instant Jayne thought he saw the Captain's eyes darken as he did so, but next moment he was smilin' that big grin of his an' passin' plates around.

Jayne was lifting a forkful of food to his mouth when a third woman entered the room. The sight of her made him drop his fork with a clatter. She was slender and poised, slipping into her seat like butter melting on hot rice. Her long dark curls were piled up on top of her head, a few tendrils curling against the porcelain skin of her cheek and neck. She was wearing a dress of crimson silk and a row of glittering black stones at her throat. Jayne swallowed hard and tried to speak, but could only manage a pained grunt.

“An' this is Inara,” Mal announced. He directed a quick grin at her, but his eyes were saying something Jayne couldn't quite fathom. “Jayne. Our new gun.”

“Pleased to meet you, Jayne,” she said graciously, reaching across the table to shake his hand.

“Likewise,” he managed to answer through the drool that was coating his tongue..

“Best give it up, Jayne,” Mal advised. “She might be a whore, but her rates is too high for the like of you an' me.”

Inara ignored the insult and smiled at Jayne. “The term is Companion. Sadly the Captain has suffered too many well-earned blows to the head to remember that,” she told him, shooting Mal a black look which was met with an amiable shrug and yet another grin.

Jayne was confused. He was sure he'd detected a rare strength in the Captain when he'd had him at gunpoint but lookin' at him now, lettin' a woman disrespect him up in public, he wa'n't so sure. Jayne was of the firm belief that a team needed a leader. If this team di'n't have one ... well, that jus' might mean an openin' for him.

“Talkin' of what's affordable and what's not',” the Captain said, leaning back in his seat and reaching into the pocket of his pants, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have had ourselves one helluva good day. Credit for all.” He pulled out a wad of notes and ruffled them contentedly.

“So, how you divvy up the take on this boat?” Jayne asked. Better start out how he meant to be goin' on. See he got his fair share.

“Well, first paid is Serenity. The ship. Without her, we're nothin'. Then we stock up the kitchen. After that we share out whatever's left between us. Equal like.”

Jayne snorted, first with disgust because it was becoming apparent that this Captain was ruled by his crew and second because equal wa'n't his idea of fair.

“You got somethin' to say, Jayne?” Reynolds asked, pausing in the middle of dealing out the money into five separate piles. The question was put so mildly, Jayne didn't hear the warning note in the Captain's voice.

“Hell yes! Seems to me you, an' me, an' her” he pointed at Zoe, “was the ones who put our lives on the line. Her,” he tilted his head sideways towards Kaylee “an' him,” indicating Wash with a nod, “was back here in the safety of the ship. Which means we oughta get ... twice as much as them!”

Reynolds fixed him with an unblinking stare. “No.”

Jayne was so fired up with the injustice of bein' paid the same as a girl that he didn't notice the way Kaylee suddenly tensed up. Nor the amused glances exchanged by Wash and Zoe.

He stood up and planted his hands, palms down, either side of the Captain's plate, leaning over him menacingly. “Think you an' me need to have a talk, Mal. You ain't gonna be payin' me no woman's wage...”

“I'd be much obliged if you was to sit back down,” Reynolds said quietly.

“I'll sit down when I'm good an' ready an' not before!” Jayne spat angrily. This time the crackle of danger in the air was unmistakable but he'd gone too far to back down without loss of standing in these people's eyes. Had to see it through.

“I ain't askin'....” the Captain said in a low voice that might have been a soft growl. The in one swift movement he was on his feet and had smacked Jayne upside of his left ear with the empty liquor bottle. Gorramit, there was the rush of that feng kuang whirlwind again. Jayne struggled to regain his balance, but Reynolds kicked the chair out from under him, sending him sprawling backwards onto the floor.

A boot stomped down onto Jayne's windpipe, hard enough to make breathin' difficult but not enough to snap the cartilage. Captain Reynolds was glowering down at him with a face like thunder. “I am the Captain of this ship and no-one but no-one tells me what to do on it, dong ma? You can't live with that, best you leave now.”

Jayne managed a strangled grunt by way of reply, as he tried but failed to raise the foot that pinned him to the floor up from his neck. When he finally stopped struggling, the Captain released him and sat back down at the head of the table, going back to his meal as calm as you like.

Looking all kinds of sheepish, Jayne got to his feet, avoidiing eye contact with the others.

“Sit down,” the Captain ordered. “I ain't finished sortin' out the take. Once I'm done, you can take your share an' go or you can stay but never,” he fixed Jayne again with that steely look, “never forget who's Captain on this boat.”

* * * * *

Jayne stretched out on his bed and rubbed the swelling above his ear. His head hurt like hell and his throat felt like it had been sand-papered. He grinned to himself. He'd been right first time. Reynolds wa'n't no pushover. First proper leader Jayne had ever got a job with. He reminded Jayne more than a little of his pop. Kind a man who's good opinion counted for something. Made you wanna earn it.

Jayne rolled onto his side and looked at the little recess between the bed and the bulkhead, thinking how it would make the perfect place for storing his guns. The bed sheets smelt fresh and clean.

He rolled over again and looked around the bunk. His bunk. Chair, table, lamp, basin and pull-out john. Wa'n't that supposed to be the definition of home?

Sure felt like it.

* * * * *


Wednesday, April 7, 2004 5:38 AM


Very shiny! I loved Jayne's thoughts and how he equated Mal with his father at the end and thus could respect him. The whole thing was beautifully put together seaguing in little parts we have already seen with how you have imagined Jayne's early life. So good, can't wait for more. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, April 7, 2004 10:51 AM


Wonderful character study of Jayne. Especially liked his first interactions with Mal & Co.

Thursday, April 8, 2004 7:56 PM


Been waiting for Jayne's and this was well worth it, thank you! :-)

Sunday, March 18, 2007 6:13 PM


Somehow you get the feeling that this absolutely must have happened. It's all perfectly in keeping with everyone's characters. I particularly like the relationship between Mal and Jayne here, especially the little detail that Mal reminds Jayne of his father a little bit. It's always been curious that an older, bigger, meaner guy lets himself get sent away from the table by a younger, smaller one. At some point Mal *must've* laid down the law. And Jayne's first few weeks on Serenity were doubtless very tense. You got all of that across with some very competent prose and a voice that fit Jayne nicely.


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