In The Ether 9: Minor Complications
Thursday, June 8, 2006

Jake and Jasper check out Serenity, River secures some backup, Jayne discovers his protective side, Simon gets physical, and Kaylee meets an old flame.


A/N: I don't own them

Bear with me guys, I'm trying to keep several plot lines going at once, which is oddly hard for me. It doesn't help that I keep coming up with new twists as I go.


"Bloody hell," Jake cursed under his breath as he tried yet another override on Serenity's door lock. "Whoever rewired this thing is a damn genius. None of the usual bypasses work."

"Whatever, Jake." Jasper leaned against the closed cargo ramp and adjusted his crotch. "But could ya hurry it the hell up? Been here damn near half an hour an' folks might start gettin' a mite suspicious as to why we can't open our own door."

"All in good time, Jasper. Just continue to look nonchalant and try not to draw attention, would you?"

Jasper spit into the dirt. "Damn right I'll be non-shallot. I hate onions."

"Onions?" Jake looked up from the lock with confusion etched on his face. "The word is 'nonchalant', you - oh, never mind." The lock finally beeped, and Jasper had to move quickly so as not to be crushed by the suddenly lowering cargo ramp. "There. Now, shall we go disable this ship and then find the local pub?"

"You mean get a beer?"

"Yes, Jasper. Get a beer."

"Hell yes. You go fiddle with the engine, an' I'll go lock down the nav computer."

"Splendid. But please, do be quick about it."

"Jake, the only thing I do slow is the ladies, if ya catch my drift."

Jake shuddered and headed up to the engine room. "How utterly horrifying for them."

Jasper just snorted and headed for the bridge, finding it really only took him less than a minute to get there. One thing 'bout these old Fireflies, they didn't waste space. Shuttles tucked in behind the extenders, crew bunks - what the hell was with the one with all those lights there, anyway? - stuffed under the fore hallway, only one airtight atmo door on the bridge, conveniently left wide open. Jasper settled himself into the pilot's chair, eyeing the dinos on the console suspiciously before he began firing up the computer. It took a few seconds to sort things out before he snorted and activated the comm system.

"Hey, Jake? You ain't gonna believe this."

A few bursts of static greeted him before Jake came on the line. "I take it you found some interesting items up there?"

"Yeah. Got me some plastic dinos, but more'n that, there's no gorram nav computer on this boat."


"Nope. We got basic Cortex feeds an' a straight-n-level autopilot, but no nav comp. What you got back there?"

"Very sad excuses for synchronizers, a ludicrously old compression coil, and if I'm not mistaken, a vase of flowers and a teddy bear." The sound of sparking wires came through the handset. "And apparently, a cross-wired grav boot."

Jasper mulled all this over. "So...either we got ourselves some damn geniuses, or the biggest buncha dumbasses ever flew the 'verse."

"It would seem so."

"An' given the day-cor up here, I'm bettin' on dumbasses."


River felt a small twinge of guilt as she shimmied up a bookcase and out a window, hoisting herself onto the roof of the store. Simon would be upset with her, and would most likely spend a good while yelling once they got back on the ship. There was no doubt he would make it back, of course, since she'd been polite enough to lock Kaylee in with him, and Serenity's mechanic was nothing if not resourceful. The two of them would be back eventually, and neither one the worse for wear.

Besides, if Simon played it right, maybe he'd get laid and forget to be mad at her. River grinned. Not likely, that one, but still funny to think on.

In the meantime, she had her own job to do. As soon as that group of men had made it to the main street, River had "heard" them coming. She was fast enough to get her brother out of danger, but he wasn't the only target. They were after her - who the hell wasn't at this point? - and also, for some reason, after the captain. And, now that she got nearer the docks, she caught another thought floating around: someone was trying to disable the ship.

It was this last bit that got her attention and solidified the plan in her head. She wasn't worried for herself; the men after her were local toughs out looking for a quick buck and she could easily elude them. Likewise, the captain already had Zoe and Wash on the way to help him, so he was safe for the moment. Simon was locked in a storage room with Kaylee, and the men had already left that building in search of River instead. But the ship could be a problem. The two men attempting to ground it - and they would succeed, given time - were smarter, more methodical, and most importantly, hired by Mother. River's eyes narrowed as she got a clear picture of Regan Tam from one of them. So. Mom had followed them. There was only one way to meet this threat.

Lots and lots of random violence.

And when you needed a lot of violence in a hurry, you turned to one man. Jayne. River began running along the rooftops, jumping from building to building as she headed for the establishment at the end of the street.


"An' so I says to him - " Jayne paused to finish his drink. "An' so I says, 'Look, princess, I don't know how they do things on that sissified Core world, but out here, a man takin' a whiz on a buildin' just means he's gettin' warmed up, dong ma?'" The bar roared with laughter as Jayne stumbled over to the counter and ordered another beer. The other men chuckled and resumed their card and dice games, the feeling of brotherly revelry staying with them as bets were laid and ladies were winked at. Madame Mim's wasn't the nicest place Jayne had ever seen - that honor was reserved for a particularly well-appointed establishment he'd happened into on Ariel - but it certainly met the criteria: booze, cards, and whores, not always in that order.

Plopping himself down on a stool, Jayne admired himself in the mirror behind the bar - but damn, he was one handsome sumbitch! - and took a swig from his glass, wondering where the local talent was. He'd been here near an hour now and hadn't seen a soul what wasn't loud, drunk, and male. Surely a whorehouse had some whores, right? Ah. He smiled with satisfaction, watching out of the corner of his eye as a raven-haired beauty slid onto the stool next to him. Well. This night sure was looking up.

"Hey, there, hon. How ya doin'? Ever seen a crisp, fifty-credit bill?" he slurred, giving her a salute with his glass and congratulating himself on his smooth opening line.

"Yes, I have. And I'm fine, Jayne, but there's a problem."

Jayne nodded agreeably - there was always a gorram problem, wasn't there? - but then suddenly did a double-take. How'd she know his name? Squinting through the haze, he finally recognized River Tam. "Aw, gorramit, Crazy. Ain't you supposed to be with that brother of yours 'stead of screwin' up my play?"

"Yes, but the ship is in danger of being taken and I had to get help. We need to go."

Jayne snorted into his beer. "Aw, hell, go find Mal. S'his ship."

River scowled. This was unexpected. Unlike Simon, River truly believed Jayne was, at heart, a good man. Granted, a bit stupid if the money was good, but willing to throw his lot in with his crew if it came down to a real threat. Apparently, the immenent theft of his home didn't qualify, and Jayne would need some motivation to help her. River considered what motivated a man like Jayne Cobb. She could only think of three things: cash, sex, and thrilling heroics. She didn't have any money, and she sure as hell wasn't going to sleep with him.

But the last option had merit. Jayne was a man's man, and more importantly he was man who loved his momma, if his choice of headgear was any indication. Perhaps some "damsel in distress" would appeal to his masculine nature. "The man taking the ship spoke to me rudely."

"He did, did he?" Jayne seemed unimpressed with this revelation.

"Yes. He made several comments regarding my physical attributes. He insinuated that they were not up to his standards."

Jayne gave River a once-over with his eyes. "Hmph. Man's got a point there, moonbrain."

River's eyes widened at Jayne's dismissal. So. One damsel not enough for him? Time to up the ante. "He has also had his hands on Kaylee."

Jayne squinted. He was pretty sure, somewhere in the back of his brain, that he should care about that. Years ago, when Jayne had first joined the crew, his attempt to 'flirt' with Kaylee - well, OK, his attempt to surprise her in the galley and get his hand up her shirt - had been met with a swift socket wrench to the crotch. Jayne had rapidly shifted his priorities and decided that Kaylee made a better little-sister type. And taking the big-brother role to heart, Jayne had a simple rule: no one touched Kaylee or they got hit. He often spent nights thinking on what he'd do once Simon got up the balls to break that one. Tonight, however, it seemed some other guy was out there beating the doc to it. "Is that so?"

"Yes, he is quite rude. His gestures were quite unseemly."

"Might be I can do somethin' 'bout his manners." Jayne smiled the smile of a man contemplating evil.

"Please do. Violence is an option."

"It damn well better be." A thought percolated through his pickled brain. "This fella don't happen to be your brother, does it?"

"Simon would not make rude comments about my physique, Jayne."

"Damn. That'd be fun, injurin' him. Not that injurin' some other hundan won't be fun, mind." Jayne took a sip from his glass. "After I finish my beer, maybe."

"But Kaylee - "

"Will be fine, girl, 'specially if she's got a wrench on her. 'Sides, Most like she needs some feelin' up, seein' as your brother ain't man enough for the task." Jayne grinned drunkenly. "Best not interrupt."

River winced internally, suddenly coming to the realization of what she had to do. It was mean and low, and Jayne would be quite angry when he found out the truth, but she had no choice. "You had better hurry. Now he is touching Vera inappropriately."

Jayne slowly set his beer down on the bar and swiveled to meet her eyes, instantly sober. "What was that?"

"He is stroking her barrel, and realigning her sights." River stared off into space, allowing her eyes to go glassy. "And now he's...yes, now he's going to dry fire her. Repeatedly."

"The hell he is!," Jayne roared. He spun on his stool and stalked to the door, throwing a man out of the way as he passed and reaching to make sure his pistol was loaded. Screwin' with the moonbrain was bad. Screwin' with Kaylee was worse. But no one touched his guns. No one. It was time for some retribution, Jayne Cobb style.


"Maybe she went back to the ship, Simon."

Kaylee was trying, unsuccessfully, to calm Simon down. When he hadn't found River in the front of the shop, Simon had bolted out the front door and was making very good time towards the docks, glancing into every window he passed. "Or maybe they caught her." Simon peeked down another alley, studying the people on the other end.

"Naw, she's too smart for that. Tell ya what. Why don't we head back to the ship, get Wash to fire up the sensors or maybe a comm an'....Simon?" Kaylee stopped and trailed off as Simon became more engrossed at whatever he was looking at. "What is it?" She touched his arm to get his attention.

He spun around, suddenly very serious. "Kaylee. I need you to go back to the ship and get anyone you can find and bring them to the north end of the docks. Look for a small, sleek ship."


"Just trust me. Please. Go now." Simon put a hand on her shoulder for a moment, then strode purposefully down the alley. Kaylee stared after him, almost following him, but deciding that Simon was the genius and probably knew what he was doing. She turned for the docks and made a beeline for Serenity.

Simon walked directly down the middle of the small passage, his eyes never leaving his target. He stopped directly in front of her, staring her down and getting within a foot of her face before he sucker punched her in the face. He glared at her, lying in the dirt, with a small smile on his lips.

"Mother. So nice to see you."


"Uh oh."

Mal stopped and ducked behind a building as soon as Wash said something. Grabbing the pilot by the shirt, he hauled Wash in with him. "You know, Wash, I really hate that phrase. What's 'uh oh' for?"

Wash peeked back around the corner. He and the captain had made good time back to the docks, hurrying to get the ship ready and get off this suddenly unfriendly planet. Zoe had cut down a side street, heading for the bar and Jayne. They were within eyeshot of the ship when Wash had suddenly taken exception to something ahead. "The 'uh oh' is that I don't recall leaving the door unlocked."

"And I take it it happens to be unlocked now?"

"The cargo ramp is down, too."

Mal shrugged. "Maybe Book came back early, or Kaylee's lookin' to get some sun." Even as he said it, though, his hand reached down and switched the safety and retaining strap off of his pistol.

"Unless Kaylee suddenly looks like a very large man in his mid-twenties, I'd have to say no." Wash elaborated when Mal gave him a very odd look. "I can see him through the window."

"Huh." Mal unholstered his gun. "Alright. We're gonna go quick an' clean. Up the ramp, through the infirmary, and up the back stairs. Clear the engine room an' lock the door."


"Then we go forward, clear the kitchen, an' ask that gent exactly what he's doing on my ship. Take this." Mal handed Wash a smaller pistol from his boot. "We find anyone that don't look like crew, point this at their head an' get them down to the cargo bay."

Wash looked at the gun with distaste, but took it anyway. "Maybe we should go get Zoe? Or - and I can't believe I'm suggesting this - Jayne?"

Mal shook his head. "No time. Move."

The captain walked back into the stream of traffic on the street, striding purposefully towards his ship with his eyes on the bridge windows. He slowed a bit when he saw the man get up and head out of the bridge, most likely on his way out of the boat. He quickly fell back and grabbed Wash. "We're gonna wait on either side of the cargo ramp. When he comes down, put a gun in his back an' ask him what his business is."

"Just ask him?"

"Politely. No need to get tetchy yet." Mal led Wash to the starboard side of the ship motioning where he wanted the pilot to stand: out of the way but able to leap around the corner and put a gun on anyone coming down the port side of the ramp. Keeping low, Mal quickly sucrried to the other side, taking up the opposite corner from Wash.

They didn't have to wait long before a heavy steps boomed down the ramp. "I swear to ya, Jake, this piece o' crap had all the main overrides wired into three bitty switches up there. 'Bout gave me finger cramps, reachin' up all the time. If this were my boat, see, we'd rewire that other console to - "

"But it ain't your boat, friend. It's mine, an' I'm all manner of curious as to why you're on it." Mal came around the corner, his gun unerringly pointed at the man's head. Seeing that this was his cue, Wash also came around to the front of the boat.

"And those three switches are mine. I like them just the way they are," he added, his own gun pointed in the general area of the other man on the ramp. "You didn't...fiddle with them, did you?"

Jasper and Jake looked at each other, and briefly considered running. They were close to giving it a try when more people appeared at the end of the ramp. A small, thin girl was following behind a very large and very angry man, and a few steps behind him was a tall woman who looked somehow amused by this whole thing, despite the fact that she was extremely well armed. Further down the street, two more people - a richly dressed woman and a man who appeared to be a Shepherd - were making their way towards the ship. The odds were decidedly not in their favor.

"Which one of you bastards touched my Vera?" Jayne had arrived on the scene, red faced and demanding to know who had sullied his guns.

Jasper indicated to Jake that the engineer should do the talking. Jake drew himself up and put on his best martial airs. "I don't know who this Vera is, but I can assure you we've not seen her."

Jayne drew another breath, obviously preparing to yell some more, but Mal stopped him with a gesture. "That don't explain why you were on my boat." He cocked his gun. "I ain't fond of repeatin' myself."

"Yes. Quite right. My name is Jacob Wai, and my associate is Mr. Jasper Sinclair. We have been deputized by the authority of the Alliance Parliament to investigate and impound this vehicle, and apprehend the fugitives Simon and River Tam, as well as hold a Captain Malcolm Reynolds for questioning." He flicked his eyes over to the woman and the Shepherd, who arrived just in time for the last bit of his speech. "Pursuant to these duties, it is my expectation that you will not interfere."

The whole crew was silent for a moment, before the captain, the burly man, and the tall woman all drew even more guns and pointed them in Jake's direction. "Oh, real nice play there, dumbass," Jasper whispered.

"It was indeed a nice try, son." The Shepherd came forward, smiling congenially. "I especially liked the lack of contractions and big words. What do you think, Miss Serra? Cortex vids or books?"

"Oh, vids, I'm sure. No one actually writes like that." The woman smiled sweetly at Jake, who gulped.

"I, ah, see you've had some training yourself, sir," Jake said, trying to get in good with at least some of the crew.

"You could say that. Although I'd wager mine was a bit more rigorous." Book raised an eyebrow, daring Jake to challenge him. "May I ask to see your identification?"

"My identification?"

"Of course. All deputized officers must carry proper identification, as well as display it while exercising their official duties." Book grinned. "But allow me to guess: you don't have any?"

"Regardless, I AM a fully legal officer of the law, and - " He was cut off by Kaylee's arrival.

"Cap'n! Simon says to come quick, end of the docks. Somethin's down there!"

"I'm a little busy here, Kaylee." Mal gestured to the two men on the ramp. "Seems we've got ourselves some new - "

"Kaylee? That name with all them lights sure was familiar!" Jasper squinted and looked a bit closer at her, before laughing gleefully and grinning like a loon. "Well, I'll be damned! If it ain't little Kaylee Frye!"

Kaylee stopped mid plea, and gaped at the man. No. It couldn't be. Not after five years. "Jasper?"

"Hell yes, girl! How's your pa?"

"Better since he ran you off." Kaylee set her face in a scowl and crossed her arms while everyone looked between her and the suddenly more interesting Jasper.

"Kaylee? You know this guy? Huh. Not that I'm doubting you, but he doesn't seem your type." Wash looked from Jasper to their mechanic, sizing them up and looking puzzled.

"He ain't," Kaylee sniffed. "I was bored an' ain't too many guys to choose from where I grew up. He was just easy."

"You weren't so hard to get yourself!" Jasper laughed again. "See, used to live down the road from her folks. You remember that little meetin' we had behind the tool shed that once, darlin'?" Kaylee looked down, embarrassed. "Oh, don't be shy now. You were quite the lively one, as I - " Jayne's fist forestalled Jasper getting any more specific with the details of the tool shed. All eyes turned from Jasper - now out cold on the deck - to Jayne.

"What?" The big merc shrugged. "Man broke the rule."


Friday, June 9, 2006 1:59 AM


They got rules now? Shiny. Loved Jayne only reacting to River when he thought Vera was in danger! This is good, can't wait to see what happens next and what a shock that was, Simon punching his mother out cold. Wow, so it isn't just River that can fight. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, June 9, 2006 4:54 AM


>Besides, if Simon played it right, maybe he'd get laid and forget to be mad at her. River grinned. Not likely, that one, but still funny to think on.

Oh yes. Please make it so . . . :)

ROTFL River's whole conversation with Jayne! OMG, that was hysterical!

And the end! "Broke the rule" BWAHAHAHA!

Simon hit his mother? Uh oh...I hope she doesn't have other people with her who intend to take him in.

Excellent chapter, please don't keep us waiting long for more!

Friday, June 9, 2006 8:09 AM


Oh No! Whenever a Tam parent is present, trouble seems to follow! I loved Jayne in htis and can't wait for your next post!

Saturday, June 10, 2006 2:30 PM


While I don't normally condone violence to women....I think I can find a comfortable loophole for that belief when it comes to women like Regan Tam (as portrayed here) or YoSaffBridge;)

And ya gotta love River's conversation with a drunken Jayne! Especially when she gets indignant about Jayne's response to her "evil men disparaged her honour" line:P


Sunday, June 11, 2006 5:18 AM


Another fine chapter! Everyone's characterizations were spot on, as usual. In addition to what others have already said, I loved Wash and his switches. "You didn't...fiddle with them, did you?" Hee!

Looking forward to the next installment!

"I love my captain."


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In The Ether 13: Secret Agent Man
Simon takes a turn at super spy as the crew tracks him down.

In The Ether 12: Motivations
A brief history of Simon Tam

In The Ether 11: Telling
Simon and Regan tell each other off, Jayne tells Kaylee a little story, and Wash tells everybody about basic chemistry. Bonus: Jayne actually quotes Shakespeare! Kind of.

In The Ether 10: Technical Difficulties
Jayne goes trophy hunting, Kaylee and Wash attempt to explain technical things to Mal, and eventually everyone realizes that they left something at the last stop.

Generic S/K Plot Outline
Inspired by a story posted at, I present the outline of pretty much every S/K fic out there (including my own, so no one take it personal-like).

Dino Tales: Loss
The dino army mourns the loss of one of their own.

The Old Switcheroo
Jayne and Simon wake up with unique perspectives on life.

In The Ether 9: Minor Complications
Jake and Jasper check out Serenity, River secures some backup, Jayne discovers his protective side, Simon gets physical, and Kaylee meets an old flame.

In The Ether 8: Lady's Choice
Zoe fixes the plan. Kaylee shows Simon how to turn up the heat.

In The Ether 7: Shore Leave
Mal gives everyone a day on Belix to calm the nerves. Wash gets suspicious. A plan is hatched.