BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

ARTEMISPRIME

Redemption of the Broken Vessel - Chapter 5
Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Jayne struggles during his recovery and finds the help he didn't know he wanted.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1181    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Disclaimer: all things Firefly/Serenity are the property of Whedon et al. I'm not making any money off this, just playing with the toys.

A/N: I recommend reading the previous four chapters of this series and the two prequel series “The Way” and “Judas and Mercy”. Having read the comic book “Serenity: Those Left Behind” will be useful as well.



The man was nothing to look at, leastways not as a threat. Weren’t nothin’ but a Shepherd and how threatenin’ could they be?

Turns out, plenty. Took out a Fed with two little moves then didn’t even twitch with a pistol in his face. Stood strong against a slew a armed guards on the skyplex without breakin’ much as a sweat.

And he was strong, too, pressin’ more’n Jayne thought possible for a guy his age. Ended up gettin’ himself a good spotter so’s Jayne could get a proper work out with heavier weights without fear a killin’ himself.

‘Course it was a little more than scary at how much th’man knew ‘bout guns and weapons an such. Always wondered on that little bit a past. Seemed unnatural for a man a God to possess such knowledge. Wasn’t about t’complain, though. Some a that intell had proved right useful.

Yep, the Preacher was the best addition to the crew.

Maybe that’s why it were so gorram hard to watch the man leave.

The crew was all there, saying their good-byes and best wishes, hoping it wouldn’t be the last time they crossed paths with the Shepherd. Mal watched from the side as Book went to each person, stopping lastly at Jayne.

Mal hadn’t quite understood, none of them did, how a man of the cloth could become such close friends with a killing machine. But maybe that wasn’t how Book saw Jayne. Maybe Jayne was a man, albeit not overly bright and needing some refinement - well, more than some - but a man who needed to be heard and listened to. A man needed to feel more than useful; needed to feel wanted.

Book did quite a bit of thinking during their workout sessions. The simplicity of them cleared his mind, focussing his thoughts. The Captain had been an enigma early on, but Book quickly discovered the falsehood of that. Mal was surviving and in doing that, he had to be pragmatic, not always to the betterment of his soul. There had been more than one occasion where the good Shepherd had prayed for Mal.

But how Mal looked to his crew and ship was nothing less than admirable. They weren’t just people, they were family complete with sibling rivalry and jealousy. But there was love there amongst all of them. So it hurt Book a little each time Mal looked down at Jayne or dismissed him as nothing more than a dumb brute. Of course, trying to tell the Captain this would have resulted in more than unpleasantness, but there would be a time when Mal would come to appreciate the mercenary for more than his killing skills.

Standing before Jayne, Book knew he wouldn’t be around to see it. He smiled anyway and clasped the man’s hand in a firm and warm grasp. He saw the twitch at the big man’s mouth as though he wanted to say something nice, but feared it would make him appear weak in front of the others. Book knew Jayne didn’t understand why he was leaving, but hadn’t questioned it either. Man had to make his own way and Jayne was grateful for the time they had spent as friends.

Book’s grin faded. “You’re not alone, son,” he said quietly. “There will always be someone watching out for you.” He covered their handshake with his free hand. The grip was released as suddenly as it had come.

And then the Preacher was gone, good-byes all done. Simon stood by Kaylee, wanting to put his arm around her to comfort her and keep her silent tears from falling. River stood at the ramp, her light dress billowing from the wind of the planet and her hand scrunching around the bits of paper Book had pressed into it, her eyes following him into the bright sun. Mal turned and stomped up the stairs towards his bunk. Zoe watched then looked to her husband, acknowledging the quiet sadness they shared. Jayne opened his hand to see the small necklace placed in it by the Shepherd. He lifted the chain and saw a figure carrying a small child on his back with the words “Saint Christopher Protect Us”. His brows furrowed at the thing wondering what would have possessed Book to give him something like this.

“Oh that’s shiny, Jayne,” Kaylee commented. She reached for the tag and read the inscription. “I remember him. He’s the saint who protects travellers.” She beamed up at him, her sadness now subdued. “That’s what you do, protect us all.”

Jayne huffed lightly. God damn if that don’t beat all. Book had thought of him as a protector, not just some dumb merc. His face softened a little. “Yeah, well, that’s what I get paid for, ain’t it?”

Kaylee slapped his arm in a good natured way and grabbed the necklace from his hand. Instructing him to bend down a bit, she put it on him then stepped around. “Suits ya.” She grinned again then made her way to the engine, Simon going his way to the infirmary.

River passed by and cocked her head in that River way. Jayne shook his head, muttering something about crazy stares and tromped up to his bunk. Now alone in the cargo hold, Zoe and Wash off in the bridge, River slapped the cargo door shut. “Carried the children on his back, but the king didn’t like. Killed him dead,” she whispered to the ship. She stared at the catwalk Jayne had taken to his bunk then padded softly to the lounge.



Later... Mal was more than a little perturbed. Downright angry only scratched the surface. How many times had he told him, how many!? Jayne was becoming a liability with all this drunkenness and jailing and Mal was tired of it.

He stormed off the ramp and headed into the village, his anger increasing with each footfall, until he stood inside the jail. The jailer immediately saw the wrath and said nothing, only opening the cell door, standing safely behind it lest this browncoated man turn his hostility to him.

“Get your fucking ass off that cot,” Mal seethed between bone crunching teeth.

Jayne didn’t move.

Mal kicked the cot, but the merc didn’t budge. “Ta ma duh,” he cursed and swivelled to the jailor. “You got a bucket?”

The smaller man nodded and pointed behind the desk. Grabbing it, he asked for the tap then proceeded to fill the bucket with very cold water. Dumping it unceremoniously on Jayne, he was rewarded with a grunt and roll off the small cot onto the now wet floor. Mal’s eyes narrowed. “So help me, Jayne, I gotta do this once more, I won’t.” He tossed the bucket, letting it clatter noisily and twisted himself out of the cell.

“You might want to get up, mister,” the jailer’s voice called. The gulp was audible. “I don’t want him coming back in after you.”

Huffing loudly, Jayne shifted his position, bringing his arms and legs under him until he could push himself up to stand. Swaying a little, he belched then licked his lips. He patted himself down, finding comfort in the metal flask, but anger flaring when he couldn’t feel Betty at his hip. And where was Lux?

Surveying the jail with squinty eyes, he spotted his new knife and sheath on the desk and Lux tucked in behind it. He staggered over and roughly dragged both to him.

“Oh, uh, you’ll need-” The man was silenced by Jayne’s snarl as he swiped at the offered crutch.

When the hulk had left, the jail guard sighed and wondered if the sheriff would be upset over him not giving two weeks notice.



Mal scowled and Zoe merely breathed deeply.

“Got us a job on Boros we’re gonna be late on ‘cause a him.” Mal stormed into the galley, slamming doors and mugs to get some coffee. “I’ve not asked anythin’ a him I don’t ever. Just get back to th’ship afore we leave.” He roughly poured the drink into the mug and swallowed some. “Can’t even do that.”

Zoe stood at the table, her hand resting on the back of a chair. They both knew what Jayne was going through, had seen it plenty during the war, but they didn’t know what to do.

“What’s with all the bashing?” Kaylee asked, bounding into the room.

“Nothin’,” Mal growled. “Everything’s just shiny.” He took another drink and dumped the rest in the sink. “Shit.” He barrelled through to the cockpit. “Albatross, get us in the black.”

Kaylee stared at Zoe. “What’s eatin’ him?”

The first mate went to the coffee pot and began dumping its contents then cleaning it out. “The Captain’s upset with Jayne.”

Kaylee grinned. “Well that ain’t nothin’ new.” Her smile faltered at Zoe’s look. “It’s bad, ain’t it?”

“Seems that way.”

“You think...you think the Cap’n’ll dump him?” The mechanic now stood at the sink, her eyes pleading with Zoe to say that she was wrong.

“I don’t know,” she answered softly.

“But he can’t. Jayne’s parta the crew. Family. And he’s hurtin’, that’s plain.” Kaylee swallowed and bit her lower lip.

“He’s not pulling his weight anymore, Kaylee. If he keeps this up...” The unfinished sentence hung in the air between them.

“He just needs some time. You’ll see. He’ll come around to his old self again.” The younger woman lowered her eyes, hearing how fragile her words were. The more time Jayne had, the worse he seemed to be becoming. Letting him be in his bunk wasn’t helping. “Just hurtin’,” she repeated.

“Who’s hurt?” Simon asked, stepping through into the galley.

Both women looked at him and separated.

“Is everyone all right?”

“No, Simon.” She looked to her former lover. “Ain’t there nothin’ you can do for him?”

“Who?”

“Jayne!”

His eyebrows went up in understanding. “Ah. Jayne.” He took a breath. “Well, treating PTSD is more the purview of a psychologist. I can give him some drugs, but that won’t deal with the underlying problem.”

Kaylee knitted her brows. “PTSD?”

“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” Simon answered. “Sometimes people can’t deal with bad things that have happened to them so they lock it away. Later events can trigger the event memories and then they respond as though reliving the entire ordeal. Trying to regain control can be difficult afterwards.”

The first mate lowered her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest. “Shell shock.”

Simon nodded. “Something like that.”

“We need Jayne whole and functioning, not passed out in a drunk tank.”

The mechanic sighed. So that’s why the Cap’n was so mad. How many times had this one been? Five? Six?

“He needs to want help,” Simon answered. “Until then, there’s nothing really that can be done.” He looked at both women, wishing he had something better to say.



Later... The ship was only to be on Boros for about twelve hours, just enough to do the job, re-load and make minor repairs to the ship. There wasn’t to be much time for sightseeing, but Inara had convinced Mal that a couple of hours wouldn’t hurt anyone. With reluctance, Mal agreed and the crew disembarked for a meal and drink at one of the many bars in town.

Jayne disembarked as well, his thoughts focussed primarily on getting drunk.

Kaylee watched him as she ate, her mouth grateful for the taste of real food. Jayne sat alone, never catching the eye of any of the women she knew to be working the place. She had wondered about that some. Maybe that was part a the reason he were so cranky, well, beyond the whole post-traumatic thing. How long had he gone without sex? She felt her own shiver and thought on her own lack of sexual activity. Simon had been the last and that had been...longer than she would have liked.

Taking her eyes from Jayne, Kaylee casually surveyed the crowd and spotted a nice looking young man who was looking right back at her.

“Scuse me, Cap’n,” she said rising from her chair. Sauntering to the bar, she asked for another drink and found a bit of heat next to her. Turning with a cute little smile, she said hello. When he paid for the drink, she thanked him with a big grin and let her hand linger over his. They parted ways, but continued their stare.

Mal looked to Zoe who only shrugged. Girl was big enough to make her own decisions. Though that didn’t stop Mal from checking to see if the ring from the Training House was still on the mechanic’s finger.

Dropping some money on the table, the crew rose and made to leave. Kaylee made an excuse to use the washroom and would meet up with them at the ship. Inara followed her.

“You sure about this?” she asked the younger woman.

“Don’t fret, Inara. It’s all shiny.” Kaylee pushed her hand through her hair and made sure nothing was in her teeth. “‘Sides, got the best trainin’ a girl could hope t’have.”

Inara smiled and gave her the comm unit with the implied understanding that went with it.

Kaylee found her male friend waiting and the pair strode out into the street, talking a little. She learned his name, Jeremiah, and discovered that he worked at a small ranch and had just rounded up some cattle for shipment off world. He was taking a well-deserved break and feeling rich with coin. They stopped at a vendor selling ice planets and laughed trying to eat the bouncy things. The pair continued to a grove of trees at the south end. Here, amidst the sound of the little creek, they sat and began to enjoy each other’s company.

Kaylee sighed into him, relishing the thrill and excitement of sex that she had missed. Jeremiah wasn’t especially experienced, but he knew some and she showed him a move or three. There weren’t fireworks, but a couple of ooh’s and ah’s did escape her lips.

She buttoned her dress, looking over at him zipping his trousers. “This was nice. Thanks.”

Jeremiah narrowed his eyes a little, hoping she wasn’t going to get into small talk or worse yet, start thinking beyond the romp into a relationship.

“Well,” she offered her hand, “good meetin’ ya.” Her face beamed.

He shook her hand and smiled himself. “You, too. You ever come back around here, you can look me up, if you want.”

She tilted her head and laughed. “Ah, that’s sweet.” No way in the ‘verse she was going to do that. With another laugh, she exited the grove and headed back to Serenity.



Simon kept looking over his shoulder, his hands clenching and unclenching.

“Big girl,” River said.

Simon nodded.

“Perfectly natural.”

He nodded again.

“It’s only intercourse.”

“River!” He stopped, slack jawed and bewildered.

“Same as with you, only just sex this time.”

“I can’t be hearing this.”

River giggled and flitted ahead.

“Simon,” Zoe said, putting her arm around his shoulder, “do you know how Kaylee managed to become the ship’s mechanic?”



Despite appearances, Jayne had been watching. Knew the table in the back with the four men was bad business, the table near the window with a man and a woman as good business and the drunks at the bar as annoyances. Saw the whole crew sitting down at the meal, laughing and enjoying their little bit a time on planet. Saw Kaylee’s eye on him, too.

He took another swig of the... what in hell was this? He sniffed the glass. He knew it was somethin’ he liked, just couldn’t rightly remember its name. Fancy doc had said his brain would get better an’ with some a th’drugs Simon’d been given him, did seem that way. All that alcohol was interferin’ some, though. Or maybe, to his way of thinkin’, the booze wasn’t interferin’ enough.

He coughed loudly and felt River’s hard stare. Go ahead, little girl, get yer gawkin’ in, he thought. Ol’ Jayne ain’t nothin’ more than a useless body waitin’ for the devil t’come pick him up. River only picked up her chopsticks and stabbed at the meat on her plate.

He watched the crew finish and finally leave, but Kaylee weren’t with them. She’d done took off with that silly boy who’d come in with his pa. He frowned. She hadn’t even said nothin’ to him on her way out. And watchin’ her makin’ gooey eyes made him sick. When he figured enough time’d gone by, he reached for his crutch, looped his forearm through the hold and hoisted himself up, groaning very loudly. He dropped some coins and staggered out.

As Jayne scoured the street, a fleeting thought passed his brain. Simon hadn’t been sure that the knife slice would take his sight. Seemed it hadn’t. Had perfect enough vision outa the eye and he was grateful for the tiny miracle. If he could only get his knee t’work proper or find some way to rip out the pain memories from his head, he’d be shiny.

Drunk would have to suffice.

By the time Jayne had ambled back to the ship, a little less sloshed than he woulda preferred, Kaylee was practically bouncing next to him. “Hi, Jayne!” Gorram it, she glowed!

She reached for his arm to help him lift his leg over the rise between the ramp and the ground without thinking. Just seemed natural to the girl to help and he hated it. Hated it more since his “incident” with her. Still couldn’t look her in the eye.

“Cap’n says we’re off to the black for a spell, takin’ it easy to Athens for some sorta salvage. Might be somethin’ in it for you.”

Had Jayne looked to her, he would have seen her grin. And the somewhat dishevelled hair. He bit his tongue at the image of her gettin’ sexed when all he got were cringes from even the most horrifyin’ whores. He continued his pace back to his bunk, the stairs causing him to slow to near a crawl to climb. But she was still there.

“Hadn’t seen you much these last few weeks,” she started from behind. “Glad t’see ya gettin’ out some.”

He lifted his leg onto another step.

“Truth is, been a little worried on you.” Her voice lowered. “Not like you t’spend so much time in yer bunk.” She stopped when he did and gazed up at him.

Fuck, Kaylee. Can’t you just leave a man alone? He would have snarled, but her shining face stopped it before it reached his throat.

“Lookin’ some better, too.” She pointed a finger and he promptly pulled his hat lower. “Don’t got to hide, Jayne. We all got some scars or other on us. An’ I ain’t mad.”

He cringed. He’d rather she’d been mad. That was somethin’ he knew how to react to. But that would have been too easy. How in hell do you deal with forgiveness?

She moved past him. “C’mon, I’ll make you some lunch.” She jogged up the remaining steps. “Didn’t see you eatin’ anything and I’ve got an appetite.”



Before... Simon put away the needle and examined Jayne’s knee. “The pain should be dulling.” He gingerly touched it, feeling the bones horribly out of place and wishing he had a proper bone knitter. It had been a shame that the Captain didn’t have more money to pay for an operation while at Te Junction. It could have saved the man some strong aches.

The Doctor pulled his pen and made some notes on his board. “And the vision? It’s good?”

Jayne nodded.

“Well, that’s a relief.” He pulled a light pen and flashed it into Jayne’s right eye. “Everything looks good inside. You were lucky there.”

Jayne huffed. Lucky didn’t seem to fit the bill.

Simon stepped back and placed the clipboard onto the counter. “Jayne,” he began, “I know we haven’t always...been friends.” He laughed lightly. “Most times we barely tolerated each other.” He stepped to the man now sitting with his legs over the bed. “I can’t begin to understand what you’ve been through-”

Didn’t see the hand fist up.

“But I am sorry. No matter our differences, you don’t deserve this.”

Jayne looked to Simon. This was about as good as it was going to get between the men. A sort of grudging respect reminiscent of Miranda. He nodded his agreement.

“Oh, that’s so good!” Kaylee commented from the doorway. “Glad to see you two gettin’ along.” She beamed at Simon then turned to Jayne. He quickly turned his face and shifted his position. She looked back to Simon who lightly shrugged his shoulders. She knew the merc was embarrassed and felt guilty. Written plain as day across the big man’s face and she wanted to say it didn’t matter none. Didn’t blame him for bein’ in a situation she shouldn’ta been in th’first place.

But Jayne was stubborn like the Captain and wasn’t about to listen.

“Well, it’s good t’have folk bein’ friendly and civil-like,” she finally said.



Later... Being in the black for nearly a week required some creative thinking to keep a mind occupied. Simon was busying himself with a spotless infirmary and had extended it out to the lounge area, ordering and organising everything in sight. Zoe spent time on the bridge pulling out and removing the long-held storage containers down front. Mal roamed between the weights and Inara’s shuttle, still trying to work out in his head how they could make a proper go of a relationship. Kaylee tinkered with any and all things mechanical. And River just wandered the ship, letting its voice speak to her and fill her.

Today, it was telling her to be with Jayne in the cargo hold.

He was standing at the weight bench, flexing his free hand. Had been some time since he’d used it since getting the brace off his left wrist and the full on drunk for the last few weeks had softened his body even more. He ground his teeth then stared up at the catwalk.

“Own two feet,” River said.

He took a deep breath then sat and began lifting the bar. Four times was his limit. He was disgusted with himself.

“Not to worry.” River now stood in the middle of the hold. She giggled. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

His eyes narrowed. Weren’t lookin’ t’be Rome, just Jayne.

“Already are. Again.” The girl pointed at the bench.

With little resistance, Jayne did as instructed, only getting to four lifts once again.

“Again.”

Jayne glared.

“Again.” She was at the bench now.

He swatted her hand away, but it came back, daring him to try again. He thrust it roughly from his sight, grabbed the crutch and began walking away until her hand pulled at his shoulder. “Again.”

Jayne jerked his shoulder back, an angry stare crossing his features. Anyone else would have backed away quickly. River slapped him.

After the shock passed, he swallowed hard to keep himself from striking out at her.

She slapped his face again, this time across his right side. Stronger pain.

He breathed hard.

She punched him and he staggered back. Outrage started welling in his frame. Few people walked away from smacking Jayne Cobb around. His eyes narrowed and he wondered if she was doing some weird-ass suicide attempt.

“Not me. Not you, either,” she said, taking a step forward, another punch smacking his jaw. Just enough to feel, not enough to hurt. Too much hurt already.

When she moved to strike again, Jayne grabbed her wrist and held tight. She responded by using her other hand. He took two steps back and lost his crutch. She kicked it out of the way, thrust her foot into his chest then punched once, twice, three more times.

Jayne felt the heat rise in him and he shuddered. Memories came back, voices taunting, lying. “Where’s the runt? Your Captain’s to blame for all of this. You turn on any a my crew, you turn on me!” His breathing increased, became harder as the adrenaline began to pour into him. Images flowed and blurred his vision. Ugly teeth. Brown coats. White slicked hair. Your fault. You did this t’me!

He lunged at the girl and pushed her until they were against the airlock wall, his arm bearing down on her chest. His knee burned, but he couldn’t feel it. Only felt the rage. All he saw was red. He shut his eyes and gritted his teeth.

Mattie’s dead.

River kneed him in the stomach then butterfly punched him in the chest. He flew back, landing hard on the steel floor with his knee screaming in agony. She straddled him and cuffed his head repeatedly. His eyes open, Jayne stared wide-eyed at the girl as she filled his view. Her look scared him, frightened him in a way he’d never felt before. She could kill him so easily, he knew it and wanted it.

“Make it stop!” she screamed. She cuffed him once more. “Beat them. Live!” She moved to strike again, but his hand lashed out and held hers. She immediately let her wrist and fingers fall limp and removed her leg from across him. His eyes filled with confusion and he pushed her hand away.

Kneeling at his head, she held a firm grasp on his shoulder to keep him from crawling away. “All backwards before. Hard to turn around.” Her expression changed, saddened as she brushed light fingers through his hair. “You’re not alone.”

Jayne shuddered. Book?

The clang of a part dropping on the metal grating reverberated through the hold.

“River?” Kaylee stood, bewildered.

The young woman looked up to the mechanic now standing near the pair. She rose and inclined her head. “Last piece.” With purpose and grace, River walked away.

Kaylee stared down at the mercenary, watching his chest heave and his eyes search for something to hold on to. Bending down, she hesitated. Would he attack her again? She glanced back over her shoulder, but River was gone. They were alone.

Looking to Jayne’s eyes, she saw something different than before. This was no killer, no man-ape feral and wild. This was a scared man terrified of his future.

Kaylee knelt and gently laid her hand on his cheek and was shocked at the heat. She swallowed, but kept her hand in place.

Jayne looked to her, dazed at the contact. He lifted a hand, an arm, begging to touch the form giving him such comfort. She pushed her legs out to the side allowing him to sit up and close the gap between them. Hands reached around her waist in a tightening grip. Her own cradled his head against her chest as she began rocking and quietly soothing him. The man’s body shook.

“Don’t got to fear no more,” she whispered into his ear.

He lifted his head, eyes glassy and red. Her fingers caressed his brow and down his scar. She didn’t flinch, didn’t hesitate. She only smiled.

End

Please give your thoughts in the Comment section down below.

COMMENTS

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 3:24 PM

RAVENHAIR


Oh, wow. I didn't realize I was holding my breath during the last part until I got to the end. Jayne's pain was palpable. You did a great job. I really enjoyed this whole series (as painful as it was to read at times!).

That last scene with River beating him and Kaylee cradling him...I have no words. You've made me inarticulate.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 6:55 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Oh...shit...now that was a way to end a chapter! Could definitely see River just laying waste to a self-pitying Jayne to get him to remember his survival instinct and mean-sumbitch attitude:D

BEB


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