The Return of St. Christopher - Chapter 3
Friday, July 28, 2006

Jayne has found his way home. Final chapter of the Epilogue.


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

He cursed the wind that kept his cigar from stayin’ lit. He had tried four times to keep the damn thing going, but finally gave up and just let it hang from his mouth. He remembered his ma chewin’ him out about the gorram things, talkin’ ‘bout smells and stains. He’d nod then head outside to do his spittin’ and smoke savourin’. That quieted her some, but she still didn’t like it.

Not that it mattered now.

Jayne Cobb watched the image of his mother, Louise Emma Jayne, flicker as it repeated across the tombstone, her head looking up with a soft smile. It seemed unnatural, he thought, her face lookin’ so young and almost content. He couldn’t remember a time when her eyes didn’t have a hint of sadness to them. All the men in her life seemed to have conspired to keep her from knowing real joy.

The big man shifted the hold of his crutch. His eyes moved to Mattie’s own stone, an image of a swallow faced, but bright eyed young man replaying. Hopeful, almost. Jayne huffed. Hope had been in short supply ‘round here.

He swallowed thickly, moving his cigar in his mouth and looked up to the afternoon sky. He breathed deeply knowin’ that this would be the last time he would come to this place. His family was gone. Finally understood why Mal kept saying to go forward.

He heard the scuff of boots and knew who was approaching.

“Time to go,” the soprano voice said above the wind.

Jayne clenched the cigar tight and took a final look at the grave markers. He bid them a silent good-bye. Straightening his shoulders, he turned purposely and paused, the woman now staring at him in her way. “Can’t go back. Always forward.” She smiled.

He nodded his agreement then allowed her to loop her arm through his as they walked to the waiting ship. The wind was the only voice between them. She released her hold at the ramp. “Two times three.” She waited and watched his face frown then grinned wickedly before running up the ramp.

“You alright?” Mal asked.

He’s to blame for all of this, your Captain Reynolds. If he’d only given me...

Jayne looked up to see the Captain and Zoe waiting on him, concern evident, even on the normally impassive First Mate. He ungripped then gripped the crutch hand hold and ambled up. “Ain’t nothin’ but a rock. Let’s go,” he growled.

Mal turned to Zoe who smirked a little. Seemed their merc was getting back to his old form.

Before... The trouble with coming home is that someone always expects you. This makes a quiet little return very difficult and sometimes embarrassing.

Of course, Inara would have liked to have had at least one person waiting by the shuttle door upon her docking. Stepping through, she found the catwalk empty and heard no sounds from the hold to indicate that anyone was even aware of her return. Except for River’s comm that everything was ready for her docking, no one seemed to notice.

Only when she entered the kitchen did she understand. It was dinner time.

The Companion smiled at the scene, not ready to enter into it just yet. River played mahjong with Simon and seemed to be winning quite handedly. Mal was engrossed with cleaning his sidearm and Zoe was loading bullets into spare clips.

River’s high-pitched yell of victory startled the Captain causing him to nearly drop his gun. “No scarey-ing the Captain whilst he’s got a gun, dong ma, Albatross?” He steadied his composure, but only after feigning an insult when River stuck her tongue out at him.

Inara gazed over to the cooking area and was intrigued. Kaylee and Jayne both appeared to be making the evening meal. Kaylee chittered away about something and Jayne seemed to be ignoring her, but Inara could see a smile playing at his lips. She watched as their hands passed ingredients across, lingering slightly. Kaylee was happy and Jayne, well, Jayne seemed calm.

“Hey you!” Kaylee called. The greeting broke through the galley and caused an immediate silence until the mechanic went over to greet her friend. “Glad you’re back.”

“Glad to be back,” Inara returned the smile as she crossed the threshold into the mess. “It’s as though I never left.”

Everyone gave their own welcomes, but Mal remained silent, focussing instead on his gun.

“Dinner won’t be but a minute,” Kaylee said, returning to the prep area. “If I knowed you was comin’ tonight, I’d a done somethin’ more special.”

Inara took her usual seat at the table as guns and games were put away. She regarded the Captain.

Mal nodded. “Got done what needed doin’?”


He wiped a bit of nothing from the handle of his pistol before holstering it. He leaned in. “Gonna keep me guessin’ on the big secret?”

Inara smiled. “After dinner.”

Mal sighed and sat back in his chair. “Might’n be we’re all dead on account a Jayne’s culinary skills.” He looked past the Companion to the man in the apron scooping something from a pot into a large bowl.

“Play nice,” River admonished. “First meal.” She sat patiently waiting for her food to arrive.

Mal was about to comment, but the smell of something sweet and spicy held him back.

Kaylee set the table with bowls of steamed vegetables, dipping sauce and noodles. Waiting, she watched Jayne bring over a tray of protein that smelled something vaguely like chicken. The licking of lips spread around the table as the crew took in the sight. Almost a real meal.

The crew dug in with hearty anticipation and were not disappointed. The meal was tasty and filling. Inara watched the group while she ate, noting the easiness that was returning. Zoe was joining in a story Mal was recounting and seemed to be finding herself again. Simon made a joke that even he groaned at and River was about as lucid as the Companion had ever seen. She caught the young woman looking at her, watching then nodding her head as though approving of something. Secrets were hard to keep with readers on board.

What surprised Inara was the placid mood of Jayne. He made no dirty joke nor crude comment. He even chuckled at Simon’s terrible humour. He finished his meal without a belch and hadn’t begun cleaning his teeth with his knife. More surprising, however, was how the merc’s eyes strayed to the mechanic with high frequency.

Kaylee didn’t shy away. In fact, she seemed to shine in the attention, her laughter fuller and more robust than Inara had heard in months. Something had happened to this crew and it wasn’t for the worse.

When Jayne rose to take away the used dishes, River objected and took them herself. “Payment for services rendered,” she said. Everyone looked to her with either confusion or horror that Jayne had done something to the woman not entirely decent. “Good grub,” she said with a shrug.

With the meal done, the Companion began her announcement. “I have some news I would like to share with you.”

Everyone’s eyes were cast firmly at the beautiful woman.

“I’ve decided to...retire.”

She scanned the surprised faces, stopping at Mal’s, wondering what he was thinking. She shifted her shoulders back. “To be more accurate, I’ve changed careers.” She held his eyes.

“To what?” Simon asked.

Inara waited a moment, a small smile spreading. “Ambassador.”

Later... The most comfortable chair on the ship was outside of the infirmary. This was where Kaylee found herself in deep concentration as she knitted another scarf, this one for her sister back home. She found her thoughts drifting towards her family while she knitted, to childhood memories and the rain. Made her feel less lonely in the Black.

Jayne had come to the infirmary, at Simon’s request, for an examination to see how his body was healing and his brain responding to the drugs and therapy. The Doctor had seemed pleased enough, though he re-iterated that Jayne’s knee would have a permanent limp and the use of a crutch or cane for quite some time. Nothing new, but Jayne had hoped that the physiotherapy River was making him suffer through would eliminate the crutch sooner than later.

He now lay on the couch, a soft snore echoing in the small space. Kaylee knew she should head to her bunk for some shut eye, but she just wasn’t tired. And it just felt peaceful here. Jayne’s breathing and her needle clicking were soothing.

Kaylee had nearly finished half of the scarf when Jayne began a wild thrash then bolted upright with a loud grunt, slamming his hand over his left shoulder. He blinked several times and his breathing was fast. Kaylee dropped her work and knelt at the couch.

“Just a dream.” She laid her hands on his knees, mindful of his left one. “You’re here on Serenity and she ain’t gonna let nothin’ bad happen to you.”

Fixing his eyes on the woman, Jayne regained control of himself. “Serenity,” he rasped quietly.

Kaylee’s eyes widened then began to close as she smiled up at him. First time he’d spoken in weeks and it filled the mechanic’s heart with joy. “Knew you had it in ya.” She lightly swatted his thigh. “Yep, we’re on Serenity and you was just dreamin’. She waited a beat before returning to her comfortable chair and knitting.

Jayne watched Kaylee - her fingers pullin’ and turnin’ th’yarn, her eyes narrowin’, her hair fallin’ an a hand vainly tryin’ t’tuck it away, her round breasts risin’ an fallin’ as she breathed, her toes scrunchin’ up in them sandals.

No one cares about you, Jayne. You’re just a hired gun.

His eyes tightened at the memory, recalling how close he had come to believing the lie; it would have been easier and likely stopped the pain infliction. He brushed his hand over his sleeve, still unready to look at the healing tissue where his dragon used to live.

Now, with Kaylee here doing a simple nd age-old task, neither asking nor taking anything from him, he finally understood. It wasn’t about her caring for him. It was about him caring for her. For all of them. More, it was about allowing himself to care for them. This was his family and he loved them.

Maybe even her.

Those nights in the infirmary when he first come back, she was there tellin’ stories of home an’ happiness. Made a scarf for him just ‘cause. Put herself in harm’s way for him. He swallowed his guilt; she’d forgiven him on that, but he knew he wouldn’t ever forgive himself. Done a lot in his life he couldn’t forgive. Figured it be a good time t’start balancin’ th’scale.

Sliding off the couch, he slipped his crutch on and with his free hand, held it out to the woman. She looked up, a little confused. His expression was clear in the dim light and she understood, having felt it growing in herself. But Jayne had to do the asking. He had to know that she was coming because she wanted him and not out of pity. Grasping his hand, they went to his bunk.

Standing there, alone together, he stroked her hair, let his fingers skim her shoulder then down her arm and over to her waist. He rested his hand at her belly, feeling the bump of the scar underneath her shirt. Looking to her, he saw that her eyes had never left his. Leaning in, he hovered over her lips, hesitant. Been a long time since he kissed a woman on the mouth. Been a long time since he’d been this close to a woman at all.

Reaching behind his head, Kaylee gently pressed down, giving him the strength he needed to kiss her. Soft lips touched him, moved with him and parted for him. Warmth filled his being and she pressed further, letting him explore. She crumpled her fingers into his short hair and heard a tiny moan.

They opened eyes they didn’t realise had been closed. Kaylee grinned. “For a fella that don’t kiss on the mouth, ya sure do it some good.” She licked her lower lip.

The big man smirked then tossed his crutch and half fell, half sat on his bed. Grabbing at Kaylee’s hips, Jayne pulled her towards him. He lifted her shirt and kissed her scar. “Mei miao,” he whispered. He pulled her closer, shifting himself forward until his cheek was tight against her belly. His arms wrapped around her and he let her fill him.

She smiled and stroked Jayne’s short hair, softly outlining his ears then clasped her hands together behind his neck. She felt his deep sigh and his grip tighten. He wasn’t going to let her go and she didn’t want him to.

But at some point, they would have to part; mechanics weren’t built for sleeping standing up.

Lifting his head and kissing her belly once more, Jayne reached over and flicked the main lights off. In the dim running light, Kaylee watched as he removed his shirt, always keeping something of him on her, touching her. She knelt and removed his boots while he dragged his pants off. He shifted back and pulled at the blanket, opening it up for her to join him.

He saw her hesitation. “Been alone too many nights, Kaylee. Don’t got to be more than two folk just bein’.”

“Ah, Jayne,” Kaylee laughed. “Wasn’t thinkin’ on that at all. Just that ya gotta give a girl a chance to shuck her clothes.”

Less than a minute later, she was settled in his bunk and facing him. Her eyes danced across his face, the stubble that was growing back and the small light coming from his eyes. She traced her finger down his temple before kissing his cheek. “Swai.”

Jayne responded by kissing the top of her head then settled his own self under the cover, moving his arm under her head and the other across her hip and backside. He pushed her close to him.

“Uh, Jayne,” her muffled voice called. “Can’t breathe too well.”

He rolled back and slid the blanket down some and saw her smile. She pecked his nose, flipped to her other side then scooted closer until her back pressed into his chest and his legs moulded to hers. She wrapped her arm around the one that crossed over her waist and settled into him.

Jayne nuzzled her neck. Her scent was Kaylee, grease and strawberries. “Tell me another story, bao bai. ‘Bout home.” His new found voice was low and thrummed through her.

She shifted even closer. “Hmm, well, there was this one time my cousin thought she was a super hero. Took four days to get all the little pebbles outta her rump...”

Jayne grinned, letting warm sunsets and fuzzy teddy bears swirl in his brain until he fell asleep.

Jayne felt the stare before he saw it. Knew someone was looking at him and hoped to hell it weren’t Crazy. Cautiously opening an eye, he was rewarded with the happy-sleepy face of Kaylee.

“Hey,” she was all she said as she shifted herself astride the man.

Jayne felt his pulse quicken and his senses come alive at Kaylee’s ministrations. He watched her work, feeling the energy build. He wanted this, wanted her, more than he could have dreamed possible. She gave him peace, not one nightmare last night, and gave him life with the way her body took control of his, letting herself into him.

“Wait,” he breathed, grabbing her arms.

She stopped, her expression one of inquiry.

Turning his hand, he smoothed it down her skin, feeling her heat. “Ain’t sure,” he stumbled. “Just...” He looked for the words to say. No, brain, not now. Can’t be goin’ fong luh now. He felt her thumb smooth away the creases in his brow and caught her eye.

“Shh. Don’t got to be more than two folk just bein’.” She moved her hand flat to his chest and softly smiled.

He touched her hair, he couldn’t get enough of it, and she leaned in, opening herself to him. Feeling safer, he held her breast and felt himself rise at her little moan of pleasure. He felt the fire in both of them as they continued, felt the release of long-held emotion that he thought might tear him apart. Felt the bliss as she lay on top of him, her hair tickling his nose and his arms wrapped completely around her.

Didn’t know if it was love for her, but it was enough for him.

Later... If Bill the store owner’s eyes grew any bigger, they would pop outta his head. He gulped as Jayne loped up to him, all the world lookin’ ready to kill.

“Now, Jayne,” Bill stuttered, hands raised. “Got no reason to be-”

Jayne stopped inches from the man. “You turned me in.”

Bill’s mind worked furiously trying to come up with something that could get this man away from him. “It wasn’t like that.”

The merc’s head turned slightly. “Explain it to me.”

The whine of a pistol added urgency to the explanation. Bill chanced a glance to his left and saw a brown coated man holding a gun and tall woman practically telling him to try something. The jab of a finger near his neck brought his attention to Emma’s boy. “They come lookin’ for ya, Jayne. Offered good money. What was I supposed to do?”

The big man’s eyes narrowed. Would have been a time when he would have done the same. But not to family. He stepped forward forcing Bill against the counter. “Know what I’m gonna do t’you?” He casually unclipped his new knife, Raquel.

Bill shook his head violently.

Jayne sneered, “Gonna tell the whole town how you’d sell out folk, folk in mournin’, for a bit a coin.” He popped the first two buttons off Bill’s shirt with Raquel. “Show ‘em yer yellow belly. And I find you done the same t’some other, I will get you to yer maker sooner than ya reckoned. We clear?”

Bill nodded.

With a final shove, Jayne straightened and stepped back. “Now, yer gonna give this man and this woman all the stores and choices they be wantin’. An’ don’t go thinkin’ on chargin’ ‘em any, cause that ain’t charitable. An’ ya do want t’be known as charitable, don’tya Bill?”

If Bill could have crawled under the floor, he would have.

Jayne shuffled past Mal and Zoe as they gave their list of items to Bill. Stepping into the sun, Jayne breathed in and smiled at Raquel before putting her away. Givin’ Mal th’run of the store was the best way he knew to thank Mal for comin’ back to Harvest and cleanin’ house. Some loose ends needed tyin’ and Jayne stroked this one off his list.

“River’s been dyin’ for you t’come out,” Kaylee said. “She’s got somethin’ for ya.”

The man smiled down at the woman, cupped the back of her head and kissed her. “What’s that, cao mei?”

Kaylee looked away. “Don’t know if yer gonna be pleased. Know for a fact Simon won’t be.”

Jayne would have laughed before, enjoyin’ the good Doc’s flusterin’. “Well, let’s go find out.” He let Kaylee take him to the small store across town and stopped before they went in. He knew this place, been in it a bunch of times as a boy before he finally made his decision. He looked it over. Hadn’t changed in nearly twenty years.

They stepped into the tattoo shop and spotted River looking at a wall of designs. She grinned at them and came over. “Can’t ever leave Serenity now.” She peeled away the fresh gauze to reveal the Chinese symbol for serenity engraved forever on her shoulder.

“Don’t think yer brother’s gonna be too happy with you, sweetie.”

River laughed. “Can’t help the addiction.”

Jayne’s brow narrowed and River answered his question. “Second.” She showed the first tattoo on her opposite shoulder.

“That’s real nice,” Jayne commented. He eyed the wall himself, remembering his fascination as a teenager with the multitude of images. He’d finally settled for a dragon with a yin-yang symbol. The inker said the dragon was formidable and dangerous and Jayne had liked that.

Maybe it were time to get a new one.

Later... Kaylee thought it was a lovely little house. River said it felt homey. Jayne just thought it was a shack. But it had some memories that weren’t all bad.

He stepped through the doorway and took it in. Dust had taken up permanent residence and the window coverings were brown. He chuckled. If his ma could see them now, she’d pitch a fit. He walked around some, mostly sayin’ good-bye t’the childhood home and pickin’ up a few mementoes along the way. The kitchen knife was dull, but he could restore its edge. The music box in his ma’s room could be shined up. Maybe Kaylee’d like it. He unconsciously smiled.

He stood in his room and remembered the stories he’d tell Mattie, some scary, some adventurous, but all centred around the hero named Mattie with the dark hair. Boy had loved that. Course, his ma didn’t much like Jayne keepin’ her son up late after bedtime.

Opening the chest of drawers, Jayne found what he’d really been aimin’ for. He flipped through the pages of the old book before pocketing it. Taking one last look, he left the room then the house.

Kaylee was talking with Zachary, the local pig farmer. She looked over when Jayne emerged and felt a flutter. Ai ya, but he was filling out again. And that hat made her think on the movin’ pictures she’d seen as a child ‘bout cowboys and horses. Shiny doctors with fine clothes were good and pretty, but maybe, just maybe, cowboys in t-shirts were better.

Jayne lifted his hands to rest at the top of doorframe, giving his sides a good stretch. Holding it a moment, he cocked a grin towards his girl. She smiled and waved. He slowly lowered his arms, reached for the cane and went to her.

“So, we’re all good then?” Zachary’s voice rose a little at the end, almost fearful that Jayne would renege on their agreement of selling the Cobb family farm.

Jayne nodded. “Yeah.” He shoved his hand out which the farmer grasped and shook. Releasing the hold, he continued. “‘Bout th’eye.” He gestured to his own. “Sorry on that.”

“Oh, well. What’s done is done.” He looked to Kaylee then anxiously back to Jayne before trotting into the house.

“That was kind a ya, Jayne,” Kaylee said, slipping her arm around his waist.

He shrugged and put his arm around her shoulders. “Ain’t nothin’ left in there.”

“It was yer home.”

Jayne looked down at Kaylee as he played with the ends of her hair. “Weren’t a home for a long spell. Picked me up a better one ‘long th’way.”

Later... Mal smiled in the cockpit, enjoying the view of the Black. Things finally seemed to be working out for him. Got himself a fair pilot-

“Better than fair,” River said from the seat next to him.

Got himself a great pilot. And bonus, got himself a sweet job. Seems Inara’s career change had done wonders for the ship. She used her contacts to set up transports that they didn’t want the Alliance knowing about. Seemed old Lord Red Sash from Persephone wasn’t the only law abiding citizens dealing in illegal trade.

Yep, life was gettin’ good.

Simon didn’t know how his life could get much worse. Not only had his sister gotten another tattoo, he found out that she had done something a little more with the ink artist than he thought appropriate.

Oh, and his former lover was now the lover of the hulk. At least they had the decency to be somewhat discreet. Well, not overly overt. Well, they didn’t sex each other on the galley table during diner. He shook the image of the two almost groping each other as they cooked dinner.

But she was happy and for that, he was glad. Maybe someday it wouldn’t sting. Maybe someday he’d find his own happy.

For now, though, he had River to help. For now, it was enough.

Inara stood on the catwalk and watched Mal at the weight bench while Jayne spotted him. She shook her head in humoured disgust. The man would kill himself trying to impress her and she secretly enjoyed it.

He had stopped now and was wiping his face, staring up at her. “You gonna spy on a man or come down?”

The invitation was given and she accepted. She had to admit that her change of careers had bolstered his attentions towards her and had soften his tongue somewhat.

She always knew that being a Companion was a choice, but not one that would last a lifetime. A good Companion knew when to leave with dignity and pursue other options that the life afforded. Some went into politics, some taught and some went into public relations. And some, she thought wryly, fell in love.

Seeing Jayne and Kaylee was bittersweet for Zoe. She was happy for them, but angry as well. She’d felt their happiness, their joy at finding each other. She knew it deep inside her and she missed it terribly. Wash had been more than a man for her. He’d been pleasure when the war had been pain. He’d been colour when she’d been grey. He was her other half.

But she’d been grateful for their time, just as Jayne was for his time with Kaylee. River hadn’t been entirely incorrect. She and Jayne shared similar sorrows and he was finding his way back. Perhaps it was about time she did as well.

The ship hummed and River hummed with her. Serenity was happy again. All the pieces fit into their proper places. She was in the black, filled with love.

And for River, it was more than she could have asked for. Though next planet stop, she might find a boy and ask for more of what that tattoo artist had given her. She licked her lips and giggled.

Later... “Whatcha doin’?” Kaylee inquired as she sat next to Jayne on the bench in the cargo hold.

He looked up from his book. “Readin’.”

“Can see that.” She peered over. “The Bible?”

Jayne nodded. “My ma give me this when I turned ten.”

“Oh.” The woman shuffled closer. She stared at Jayne’s newly tattooed right shoulder, the image making her smile. A man carrying a child on his back - St. Christopher. “They did a good job making it look like the necklace Shepherd Book gave ya.” Her voice was reverent. She knew Jayne had been upset over losing it to the Ugly Man. Felt like he’d lost faith that Book had given him.

The merc nodded. It was about the best way he knew how to honour the Preacher’s memory. He looked to the book in his hands. “I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.” His voice was a monotone and the words were slow, but there was meaning in them. Jayne may not have been schooled much, but even he understood what the words signified. He paused before continuing. “Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies’ sake.” He glanced over at his girl. “That’s you,” he said softly. “You saved me.”

She laced her fingers through his. “No, Jayne. You saved yourself.”

Closing the book, he felt Kaylee’s head lean against him. Serenity hummed under his feet. Jayne Cobb finally found his place in the ‘verse, where his piece fit best.


A/N: yes, I succombed and made it a romance, but that's not really a surprise, is it? Did you like this little adventure?


Friday, July 28, 2006 11:53 PM


I think you and I see the Big Man the same way, if not with the same woman :). You actually got me to read a Jaylee without flinching too much. And I did notice the use of the quote, thank you!

Sunday, July 30, 2006 8:56 PM


Well definitely know how to wrap things up in a nice, shiny package, ArtemisPrime:D



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