BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

HISGOODGIRL

Faith, Love and Serenity - Chapter Three
Friday, June 30, 2006

Jayne and Book go hunting and the merc shares concerns for his girl. The repairs on Serenity are dicey, and Kaylee’s feeling lost without her connection to the ship. Mal tries to understand and Simon tries to help. Jayne/Kaylee.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1682    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Disclaimer; They’re Joss’s toys and I just borrowed them to play with.

Rating: NC15, for adult language, angst, references to trauma. Gonna heat up later on folks - definitely.

Remarks: Post “Objects In Space”, pre BDM. Final story in my "Faith" trilogy, and following immediately after my story “Raping Serenity”. Part of a long Jaylee story arc. If you object to this pairing, consider it AU or read something else. To read the backstories, click on my name above.

Feedback: Sincerely appreciated when civilly offered. (Author does tricks for nice feedback…)

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Faith, Love and Serenity

Chapter Three

The sharp report of a rifle echoes across the desert and in the distance, the small form of a jackrabbit falls and twitches, dispatched by a clean head shot.

“Nice job, Shepherd!” Jayne claps him on the back and grins widely. “Y’all musta had an awful problem with them rats back at your abbey for you to get this good at shootin’.”

The two men smile at one another, both knowing full well that Book’s skill with firearms has other origins. They make their way across the rough, open ground and Jayne picks up the rabbit and sticks it into a knapsack along with several others. “We’re three and two now, but I’m bettin’ I can take a few more before we head back in. Let’s move up to the head of that arroyo. Lotsa green stuff to nibble down near that little creek and we’ll be downwind, too. Oughtta be a good place to pick up a few more.”

Shepherd Book and the mercenary hunker down side by side and keep watch over the spot in companionable silence, both alert and focused. Jayne’s sharp eyes catch the movement of something significantly larger than a jackrabbit back in the alder thickets and he nudges Book.

A deer peers through the screen of greenery and scents the wind, hesitates, and then moves silently down to drink. Jayne swaps off for his larger caliber rifle and peers through the scope. He wants a clean heart shot if he can make it. Holding his breath, he compensates for the wind and, then slowly squeezes the trigger. Almost before the crack of the gun echoes, the doe looks up, falters and goes down.

The merc whoops exultantly. “Now that’s what I call good eatin’. No point in worrying about more rabbits with somethin’ that size.”

The men slide down the embankment to the stream and Jayne passes the knapsack full of jackrabbits and his rifles off to Book, then turns the carcass to find the fatal wound. High in the doe’s chest there’s a small hole and dark red blood puddles beneath her.

“Well done!” the Shepherd notes. “We’d best get her butchered and that meat chilled down a little so it won’t start to spoil on the way back to the ship.”

In less than half an hour, Jayne has bled and butchered the doe and several large chunks of meat are cooling in the stream, along with the hide, which Jayne had weighted down with a rock to keep it from washing away. During the same time, Book has skinned and cleaned the jackrabbits, which are also cooling in the clean water.

“I foresee a stew in our near future!” the Shepherd muses. “I think I even have some dried onions and some black pepper and sage to add to it.”

“You got my mouth waterin’ already, and that oatmeal done wore off hours ago.”

Jayne pokes around in the scrub near them and gathers up an armful of dry willow branches and some sagebrush. “This stuff’ll light easy, and should give the meat a nice flavor.” Scraping a little hollow into the gravel he starts a small fire. “Tend this for me, would ya, Shepherd?”

Jayne cuts a couple of stout, straight willow shoots and uses his knife to shave them down to a point at one end, then takes a chunk of the venison and slices long thin strips from the dark, lean meat and threads them onto his home-made skewers.

”We get this grilled up, we’ll have ourselves one helluva feast!”

++++

The desert sky is bright and the sunlight of late afternoon is golden, casting long, stark shadows. The morning’s breeze has died and the air is hot and still.

Book and Serenity’s mercenary are squatting next to the remains of their small fire. The Shepherd licks the last rosy juices of the venison from his fingers and then takes out a handkerchief and wipes his mouth and hands. “That was delicious!”

Jayne wipes his greasy hands on his pants and takes a swig from the canteen, then offers water to his companion. He’s dumped out the dregs of the tepid water from Serenity and refilled the container with clean, icy water from the stream.

“Havin a belly full of good meat’ll make that hike back to the ship easier.” The merc kicks dirt over the coals to smother them and talks as he works, lacing a straight sapling through holes in the edges of the raw deer hide to make a carrying bag for the venison. He studies the results. “This oughtta do well enough…You wanna start passing me that meat?”

Shepherd Book takes the big chunks of chilled raw venison out of the icy stream and passes them to the merc to place in the sack. On top go the five rabbits they shot and cleaned. This is more meat than they’ve had on Serenity in months.

Jayne starts to take the whole heavy bundle on his shoulder and the Shepherd stops him. “That’s a lot to carry, son. How about me taking the other end? That’ll make it easier to manage the burden and carry the rifles, too.”

“Fair ‘nuf.” The two men climb up the bank and out of the arroyo then find a pace that allows them to match step.

“Seems like this isn’t the only burden you’re carrying lately.” The Shepherd’s voice is firm but kind. “You’re really worried about Kaylee, aren’t you?”

As they walk together, Jayne nods.

“Since that business a few days back, girl’s been a wreck. Ain’t eatin’ or sleepin’ much, wakes up cryin’ or just shakin’. She don’t wanna tell me about what she’s feelin’, what might’ve happened, and I don’t wanna push her.” The big merc shifts the rifles slung over his shoulder. “Preacher, I’m feelin’ more’n a little worried about her. I just don’t know what to do…”

Book, his shirt and collar dark with sweat, asks, “Have you talked to Simon about what’s going on? The problems you’ve described aren’t unusual for someone who’s been through all Kaylee has. He may have some medication to alleviate her distress, help her rest a little.”

“Humph,” the merc grunts. “Don’t talk to the doc less’n I gotta. We ain’t exactly had the friendliest of histories.” As he walks, he thinks about the preacher’s suggestion for a while and concludes, “Guess I shouldn’t allow how I feel about the little weasel to keep Kaylee from getting the help she needs.”

“I know you and Simon have had your differences, Jayne, but it’s time to let that go. Kaylee needs your love and your support now.”

“Ain’t no lack a love, Shepherd. Just ain’t sure how to do the supportin’ part.”

“One more thing…” he sighs, “I still gotta find some way to explain to her about quittin’ my job here. She’s like to take it as an awful betrayal, even ‘though I did it for her.”

“But I understood the captain refused to accept your resignation. You’re obviously still part of his crew.”

“Shepherd, she ain’t exactly the most logical and reasonable of women. That’s assumin’ there is such a thing. As exhausted and wooly as li’l Kaylee is right now, the Lord alone knows what parts she’ll take in or how she’ll respond.”

The preacher smiles over at the tall mercenary. “Then why not put it in His hands.”

As they struggle up the next rise, loaded down with their weapons and the meat, Serenity’s bird-like shape comes into view, silhouetted against the hillside.

“Almost home!” Book declares.

++++

“I think that’s the last of it. Juh jen sh guh kwai luh duh jean jan!” Wash exclaims and grins widely at Kaylee. “We are a remarkable team, you know that?”

The little mechanic grins rather hesitantly, uncertain.

“Guess we better run the diagnostics, make sure we don’t still got things out of sync or shortin’ out.”

“Trust me - we are golden. I know it’s been a chou san ba, Kaylee, but between us, we’ve rebuilt almost the entire control and monitor systems on this ship.” Wash’s gestures are grandiose. “I think we deserve a raise.”

Mal, who’s been pacing back and forth right outside the bridge door like a man awaiting the birth of his first child overhears Wash’s announcement and pops in.

“So you got her fixed, do you?” The captain’s smile has an ironical sorta twist. “How about firin’ up the main power, take her off the auxiliary and let’s see how she’ll do. We ain’t talking about no raises until I see if my boat can fly again.”

Behind him, River silently slips onto the bridge, her eyes meeting Kaylee’s as she shakes her head negatively.

“Uh, Cap’n…” Kaylee tries to break in. ‘I think we need to check out some things first, ‘for we go crankin’ her up like that…”

“No need to be so fretsome, li’l Kaylee. Wash says she’s golden, well, let’s power her up. I’m tired of sittin’ here in idle.” Mal grins widely and gives Wash a ‘go-ahead’ nod before announcing through the ship’s intercom, “Okay you folks, such as are on this boat. Head’s up now. We’re gonna crank ‘er up and just give the control links a test fire.”

Behind the captain’s back, River takes the fire extinguisher from where it hangs near the doorway and passes it solemnly to Kaylee. The two girls look at one another and wince.

Wash is smug, very proud of himself, confident in the intensive work he and Kaylee have completed over the past four days. He settles into the comm chair and prepares to initiate the switching sequence that Mal’s requested. He deftly flips the toggles and pushes the main ignition, expecting the Firefly’s main engine to spin up to life.

Instead, there’s a loud pop and a flash of blue from under the main console accompanied by a shower of sparks and the bitter smoke of shorted wiring.

As Kaylee sprays the extinguisher over the shorted wiring, Mal glares at Wash and snaps “Well, this is a gĕ kuài lè de jìnzhăn!”

River grins at Mal and declares, “Test fire!”

++++

Down in the ship’s galley, Jayne has finished wrapping up the venison and packs it away in the chiller.

Close by, Shepherd Book deftly bones the rabbit and brazes the meat in a little oil before transferring it to a stew pot. The preacher adds dried onions and seasonings, and even manages to find part of a bottle of rice wine a certain mercenary has stashed away against hard times.

“Ai ya, Shepherd, I was savin’ that!” the merc pouts.

“Remember, boy, charity is good for the soul. And in this case, the stew.”

“Aw hell, go on then. Ain’t that much left anyways…”

Book dumps the remaining wine into the stewpot and already the rich fragrance begins to fill the room. “I suspect we’re going to be the heroes of the moment, after nothing but canned corn and protein mush these past few days.”

“Hero’s a word I’d as soon not have anyone usin’ around me, ” the merc notes, shaking his head. “Bad enough havin’ that gorram stupid song…”

++++

“I want my ship fixed! What a fin tzahng mei yong-duh crew I’ve hired.” Mal stomps out of the bridge in disgust, his frustration fueling his already short temper.

“Storm’s blown south.” River looks out the doorway at the captain’s receding back. “Too much lightening and thunder.”

“It’s hard for him,” she says, swaying back and forth with her arms braced against the sides of the door frame.

Wash looks puzzled and leans close to Kaylee. “What’s she talking about?”

The lithesome girl looks back over her shoulder. "He’s homesick for the Black. Been on dirt too long. Scared he’ll forget who he is.”

++++

Kaylee and Wash spend the rest of the afternoon checking and re-checking the repairs they’ve made, running diagnostics, tweaking and re-working, and still, something’s still not right.

Exhausted and bewildered, Kaylee finally curls up in a corner of the engine room with her arms around her knees and just stares off into space, her face vacant.

That’s where Mal find her sometime later.

“Kaylee, what’s up back here? You okay? I though you and Wash was trying to figure out why my engine won’t crank.”

The girl looks up at him with brimming eyes, her lower lip trembling. ”I can’t hear her, Cap. I can’t hear Serenity. She ain’t talkin’ to me. Don’t tell me nothin.”

Mal gently clasps her upper arms in his hands and stands her up, then leans toward her, his hair falling forward into his eyes. “What do you mean you can’t hear Serenity?”

The little mechanic sniffles and wipes her nose with the back of her hand, further smearing the grease on her face. “From the very first time I ever came on board Serenity, back when I talked Bester into…”

“Woah on that, now. Don’t especially need to go rememberin’ you pinned like a bug to the wall of my engine room…” Mal blushes deeply, fidgeting in his embarrassment.

Kaylee hangs her head and tries to explain. “I always been able to hear the ship almost like another person. All her little rumbles and rattles and hums and squeaks like a language, told me how she was runnin’, what was fixin’ to break or short out. Like that port compression coil we blew awhile back. I’d been tryin’ to get you to buy us a new one for months, ‘cause I knew the old one had a weak spot, likely to fail when we was least expectin’ it.”

Mal runs his hand through his hair, trying to grasp what she’s telling him. “So you’re saying you can’t figure out what’s wrong ‘cause Serenity ain’t talkin’ to you?” This strains Mal’s sense of credulity, but after all, he’s got one crew member who’s a “reader” so how different is having a spaceship talk to you?

Kaylee looks up, eyes brimming. “Maybe it ain’t Serenity that’s not talkin, Cap’n. Maybe something happened when I hit my head. Maybe I’m the one that’s broke. I just know I can’t hear her and ain’t got no idea what to do to fix her…”

Suddenly he can see how exhausted and heartbroken the girl is and feels bad for driving her so hard right on the heels of such a traumatic experience. Mal curls an arm around her and pulls her up against him, tucking her hair back out of her eyes. “You been workin’ real hard, li’l Kaylee, gotta be mighty tired. How’s about you stop by the medlab and get Simon to check you over thoroughly, now you got all his fancy testin’ thing-a-ma-jigs back in.”

She starts to protest and he shakes her off. ‘Do like I said, now, no arguin’. Jayne and the Shepherd must have killed off half the game in a 20 mile radius and supper’s gonna be right fine compared to corn and mush. I’m expecting to see you joinin’ us for dinner, dong ma?”

Kaylee nods and reluctantly allows Mal to steer her back toward the medlab.

++++

Kaylee’s checkup by Dr. Tam indicates nothing worse than her healing cuts and bruises. Simon gently scolds her for not allowing him to prescribe medication to help her anxiety.

“Kaylee, I can see you’re exhausted. You’re not eating, not sleeping well. Please let me give you something, just for a little while.”

“I already told you I don’t wanna be doped up. Just leave me alone, Simon. I’ll work it out. Why can’t everybody just leave me the hell alone?” Her voice rises in volume until she’s almost shouting and Simon raises his hands to calm her, as he often has his sister.

Come to think of it, he notes, Kaylee’s acting a lot like River does at times.

“Okay. No meds, then. But you’ve got to start taking better care of yourself. You’ve dropped almost ten pounds in less than a week and you really don’t have any reserves to function on.” He looks at her with tenderness, tries to reach out to her, get her to meet his eyes. “Kaylee, I… I’m really concerned about you. Not just as your doctor but also as, well, your friend.”

“If the captain orders me to medicate you and put you on IV fluids and nutrients, I have to do it. I don’t think either of us wants it like that. Do you understand what I’m trying to tell you?”

Kaylee sighs deeply and finishes lacing her boot, then swings herself off the medtable. “Yeah, Simon, I understand,” she snaps at him and stalks out of the lab.

The young doctor shakes his head, talking to himself. ”Top three percent and I can’t even deal with simple PTSD. I can’t seem to help my sister and Kaylee won’t let me help her. Great job I’m doing here.”

“Not true, Simon.”

He looks up and River is standing in the doorway, peering through her long, dark hair. “You help me be a girl, make my thoughts less tangled. I hear clearer now, stay in my body more.” She tilts her head, at once both frail and lithe.

She smiles. “Jayne’s the only one can fix Kaylee, but she has to let him in.”

Before Simon can respond, his sister is gone as silently as a ghost, and he is left pondering the possibility that Serenity’s “man ape” might accomplish healing where he, with all his sophisticated training, cannot.

(To be continued…)

COMMENTS

Friday, June 30, 2006 3:28 PM

REENIE


So, is it strange that I think the Shepard and Jayne hunting together is kinda sexy? Not in the 'they are sly' sense, but in the 'woah, men being men' sense.....

ANYWAY, happy to see the story continuing. I think Jayne and Simon could both be more helpful to Kaylee if they stopped trying so hard. I was happy to see Mal's compassion for her, too. It's about time he noticed somthing was up!

More please.

Friday, June 30, 2006 10:59 PM

BOOKADDICT


The hunting scene with Book & Jayne is really well drawn - I can see them doing it.

The Shepherd's cooking scene is great as is Mal's final realisation that Kaylee might be stressed out.

I hope that Jayne can help her recover.

Saturday, July 1, 2006 11:21 AM

MORDSITH


Yay! More, I was so excited to see this. Loved the hunting scene. I love how you are writing Kaylee. She is screaming and crying all the time, but she really isn't herself. She is snapping at people and just not acting right. And poor thing can't hear Serenity talking to her! Update soon pretty please!

*offers chocolate and Jayne*

Tuesday, July 4, 2006 9:15 AM

BIGBADMAN


As Kaylee sprays the extinguisher over the shorted wiring, Mal glares at Wash and snaps “Well, this is a gĕ kuài lè de jìnzhăn!”


River grins at Mal and declares, “Test fire!”

Or as I like to say, "Smoke Test"

Wednesday, July 5, 2006 3:58 AM

AQUARIANGIRL


What a fantastic chapter. I'm so lucky not to have to wait for updates, having come later to this series than usual.

River very insightful -

<She smiles. “Jayne’s the only one can fix Kaylee, but she has to let him in.”>


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