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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
A standalone story in my 'verse set after Miranda, where Freya is Mal's lover, and Hank his pilot. Feedback would be good!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1440 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“A kid?” Jayne sat back in his chair and stared at Mal.
“That’s what they said.” Mal Reynolds glared at his crew member. “You care to shed any light on this eventuality?”
“I ain't got no kids.”
“That you know of,” Hank put in. “Hell, Jayne, you’ve been sleeping your way across the system from one side to the other." He grinned. "There must be a whole passel of little Cobbs out there by now.”
“Well, there ain't!” Jayne growled. “I’m always careful.”
“You?” Hank couldn’t believe his ears. “You’re careful?”
“Sure I am. Don’t want no woman coming after me demanding money to look after no kid.”
“Well, it doesn’t look like you were careful enough this time,” Mal pointed out, his arms crossed, radiating contained irritation. “Wants to meet you.”
“Meet me?” Jayne looked stunned, like he’d been hit between the eyes with a cattle prod. “You mean it ain’t a baby?”
“Apparently not. From the sounds of it, he’s about fourteen.” Mal shook his head. “We going to have more of these turning up, do you think?”
“I … I don’t know, Mal,” Jayne stammered. “I’d’a said there weren’t a snowball’s chance in hell of there being even one out there –“
“Why? You firing blanks?” Hank asked.
Jayne started to get up. “You wanna take it outside, little man?” he growled.
“No,” Mal said. Just one word, but the tone of his voice had Jayne sitting back in his chair.
“I can check,” Simon suggested diffidently. “If you like. A DNA test would prove if this boy is Jayne’s son.”
“Son?” Jayne said. “A boy?”
“That’s what they said,” Mal confirmed.
A different look spread across Jayne’s face. “Never thought I’d have me a son.”
“How easy is it, doc?” Mal asked. “This test.”
“DNA? I only need a sample from each and it’s … just a few minutes.”
Mal nodded. “Right. Well, the boy’s on Jangyin, so it’s not that far out of our way.” He looked at Hank. “Appears we’ll be taking a slight detour on our way to Greenleaf. Best let Zoe know we’ll be late picking them up.”
“Yes sir.” Hank got up and started for the bridge. “Good job the kid’s mostly grown up,” he added over his shoulder. “Can’t really see Jayne changing diapers.”
Jayne sat in his bunk and thought. He had been on Jangyin some fourteen years past, near as he could figure it. Hadn’t been back until fairly recently, but … He lifted down one of his guns from the wall behind him and absently began to take it apart. There had been this girl … he smiled a little. Pretty thing, as he recalled. Youngish, too. All long blonde hair and green eyes. She’d been working on this farm when he’d arrived on board a transport ship, an old Hyperion, and they’d parked it nearby. First time he saw her she was leaning on her hoe, pushing her hair out of her eyes, watching as he walked down the hill from the ship. Then she’d smiled at him. He wasn’t used to that. Most folks kinda gave him a wide berth, even at that fairly young age. Maybe it was the beard he was trying, not too successfully, to grow.
“Y’all looking for something particular?” she asked, her voice husky, but very pleasant.
“A beer. Something to eat. You know of a good place around here?” he asked, leaning on the top rail of the fence between them.
“Don’t know about good, but the only place is in town. Name of Kasey’s. Not too bad, from what I hear. At least, he ain't murdered anyone yet with his cookin’.” She looked him up and down. “Ain't from around these parts, are you?”
“Nope. Just came in on the ship.” He nodded back over his shoulder. “Won’t be here more’n a few hours, just to load up the cargo and leave again.”
“That’s a pity,” she said, standing upright. “Nice to meet new folks.”
“Sure is.” He grinned suddenly at her.
“Long as they don’t take advantage,” she added.
“Hey, weren’t thinking of anything of the kind!” he protested.
“No?” she asked, and he felt himself blushing.
“Ain't never had to,” Jayne almost mumbled.
“No, I wouldn’t’a thought you did.” She leaned over again and started to break up the hard clumps of dried earth.
“Ain't you got a machine to do that for you?” he asked. “Seems to be a hard job for just one person.” He looked around. “Damn big field, too.”
“It is that.” She looked at him. “Makes your back ache something fierce.”
“Want me to rub it for you?”
She watched him, sizing him up, seeing if there was anything too predatory in his gaze. She must have decided he was okay, because, “Nope, that’s okay. But you can do some of the work for me, if you like.”
He shook his head, laughing. “Ain’t my job.”
“What is your job?” she asked, coming towards him. He could smell the heat of her, the honest sweat radiating from her skin.
“Whatever they want.”
“Gunhand?” she suggested, now only a foot away from him, just the other side of the fence.
She looked down at the weapon on his hip. “And I bet you’re good with that, ain’t you?”
“Fair to middlin’.”
She laughed. “Right.” She glanced up at the sky. “Well, I'm gonna take a break. If you promise not to take advantage, you can join me. I got some cool cider and some food in the barn, just over that ridge. Get out of the sun for an hour. Sound okay?”
“Sounds shiny.” He climbed the fence and dropped down the other side to stand next to her. “‘N’ I won’t be taking advantage.”
Jayne, sitting on his bunk, smiled. He hadn’t. It had been entirely mutual, just two people spending an hour in each other’s company, getting a little physical. It had been good, too, and he wasn’t convinced she hadn’t done this before. Still, as they lay in the hay afterwards, staring up into the shadows in the roof of the barn, he’d asked.
“Nope,” she confirmed. “I ain't a virgin, if that’s what you were wondering. Don’t put myself around like some of the girls around here, but I’ve had my share of men. Why, does that shock you?”
“No.” He lifted himself up onto one arm to look down at her, her hair come loose from its clips, messed up now with bits of straw. “Not like we’re looking for anything more.”
“Is that what you’d want?” she asked, stroking the hairs on his chest. “If you were looking for something … for someone to be permanent? Someone who ain't been with a man before?”
“Hell, I don’t expect that!” he said, grinning. “Places I go, there ain't much that people ain’t done. Be nice, though, I guess. But I ain't looking for a relationship.”
She laughed. “No. And that’s fine by me. You’ll be gone before sundown, and I bet you won’t be back.”
“Might be,” he said. “One day.”
“And even if you are, you’ll have forgotten all about me, amongst all those other girls who’ll decorate your bed.”
“Well, they ain't here now,” Jayne said, leaning down to kiss her neck. “And I ain't going quite yet.”
He had been careful, used protection. Out here, in the border moons, no way of knowing what someone might be carrying, and he was sure he weren’t going to catch something that’d take him off sooner than he’d like. More likely he was eventually gonna end up on the losing side in a gunfight, but no call to be stupid. Still, things could go wrong … maybe it had. Seemed to be too much of a coincidence.
But he’d not been back, no matter what he’d promised that day.
“Work I do, we get to all sorts of the out of the way places. Sure to be passing by one day. Not that long, I guess, either.”
She smiled at him, pulling out the worst of the tangles in her hair and catching it back up in its clips. “No you won’t. And I won’t be expecting you to.”
“Still, if’n I do, who do I come looking for?” He stood up, pushing his shirt into his pants then leaning down to offer her a hand.
She let him lift her to her feet. “Shannon. Everyone around here knows me. I work for Old Man Grogan, keeping house, tilling the fields. Everyone knows him too, so it ain't difficult to find me. But you won’t.”
She leaned against him, running her hand up his thigh to his groin, pressing slightly. Even with all they’d just been doing, his body reacted a little and he breathed in sharply. She kissed him lightly on the cheek. “It ain't important. We just had a good time, is all.”
He shook her head at her. “You sure are different from most of the girls I’ve met.”
“And don’t you forget it!” She laughed. “I gotta get back to work, and I guess you gotta get going too.”
“Yeah. I guess.”
She led him outside into the sunshine. “Hey, you know my name: what’s yours?” she asked.
Briefly he considered lying, but there wasn't any point. “Cobb. My name’s Jayne Cobb.” He waited for the usual comments about it being a girl’s name, but she just smiled.
“It’s a good name.” She picked up her hoe and started back to the field. “It was good to meet you, Jayne Cobb.”
He hadn’t been back. Not until they delivered that cattle they’d picked up on Persephone, and he felt something like shame that it hadn’t occurred to him to look her up. Hadn’t even remembered. Just one more sexual adventure in a life filled with them. Only this one looked likely to come back and bite him in the ass.
Jiangyin hadn’t changed: still the backwards little moon it had always been, and still with the same dried up smell.
“I’m glad the girls aren’t here,” Simon said as they stepped out of the cargo bay. “River might find it … distressing.”
Mal smiled a little. From what he remembered of their last visit, and the Tams encounter with the hill folk, River had found it to be quite relaxing. She certainly hadn’t gotten any crazier from nearly being set on fire. “Well, might be that you’re right,” he agreed anyway. “Although I think Freya ain’t gonna be too pleased she’s not around to witness Jayne’s sudden initiation into fatherhood.”
“Kaylee is going to be mad, too,” Simon said, a smile lighting his normally quiet face. “And you know how River loves children.”
“She can blame Inara for suggesting they all spend a few days relaxing while the rest of us did all the work.” Mal squinted into the sun.
Hank, following behind, laughed. “Jayne, a dad. Quite freezes the blood, don’t it?” he said.
“That is does.” Mal glanced behind him. “And where is the proud father, anyway?”
“I think he was hiding,” Hank said.
“No, I ain’t,” the man himself said, ambling down the ramp. “So, where is he?”
“The wave said he’d be in town,” Hank said. “Place called Kasey’s?”
“Best get going, then.” Jayne strode off.
Mal looked surprised. He’d rarely seen Jayne in such a determined mood. Leastways, not unless money were involved. “Doc, you got your kit?”
Simon tapped his pocket. “All ready.”
“I suppose there’s no point in me telling you to stay with the ship?” Mal asked Hank.
“None whatsoever, captain,” Hank replied happily.
“Come on then.” Mal followed Jayne.
Kasey’s was the kind of place where you didn’t want to look too closely at what was on your plate – just eat it and leave. Jayne had never gotten to it his last two visits, but from the looks of it he hadn’t missed much. He walked to the bar and ordered, “Beer”.
The bar keep pulled a mug of foaming brew for the big man and passed it across. Jayne swallowed it down in one long draught, then breathed out in satisfaction.
“Another?” the bar keep asked.
“Not as yet,” Jayne said. “Looking for someone. Someone who’s looking for me. A kid.”
“And you would be …?”
“Cobb. Jayne Cobb.”
The bar keep nodded towards the corner. “Over there.”
Jayne turned to look in the direction indicated. It was pretty dark, but he could just make out someone sitting at a table. “Thanks. And better make it two more beers.”
“Sure,” the man grunted, and poured.
Jayne picked up the full mugs and carried them across to the corner, only just acknowledging Mal and the others enter the bar. He stopped next to the table and looked down.
“I’m Jayne Cobb,” he said, putting the beers down. “Believe you’ve been waiting for me.”
A young man, not much more than a boy, looked up. “Yeah. Long time. Fourteen years.”
Jayne sat down. “Hell, I didn’t know you existed until coupla days ago.”
The boy smiled. “I guess.”
They studied each other, and Jayne wondered what the boy saw. He knew he was big, bigger than most, strong too, with the goatee beard he’d finally managed to grow into. But what he saw of the boy staggered him a little. He may have been fourteen, but he was tall, even sitting down. Probably pretty much Jayne’s height when stood up. Blond, like his momma. Eyes weren’t green, though. More like his own – Jayne stopped himself. “Look, kid, I ain't saying I’m your … well, any relation, but what’s your momma’s name?”
The boy dropped his head for a moment, then looked back up. “Shannon. Her name was Shannon.”
“She died. ‘Bout a month back.”
“Hey, I'm sorry, kid.” Jayne pushed one of the full mugs across the table. “Here.”
“I … I ain't allowed to drink.”
“What, against your religion or somethin’?” Jayne asked.
“No,” the boy protested. “But my momma said I was too young.”
“Well, kid, not to say anything against her, but you’re old enough in my book. And you look like you need it.” He leaned forward in a conspiratorial manner. “‘Sides, this piss poor stuff ain't gonna get anyone drunk.” He lifted his own mug and waited. After a moment the boy did the same, and they drank in silence.
“Should he be corrupting the young like that?” Hank asked as he and the others lounged at the bar. “I mean, I wasn't allowed to get drunk ‘til I was at least … oh, seventeen.”
“That explains a lot,” Mal said cryptically.
“So you were any different?”
Mal debated his answer, then said truthfully, “Nope. My own momma didn’t approve of alcohol as such, at least except on high days and holidays. First time I got drunk she tanned my hide, even though I was sixteen.” He turned to Simon. “What about you, doc? Your family stop you drinking?”
“Actually, no,” Simon said unexpectedly. “We always had wine at the dinner table, and for as long as I can remember I’d have a small amount.”
“Seems like rank does have its privileges,” Hank muttered, then nudged Mal. “They’re talking again.”
“So … did you know my mom?” the boy asked.
“Well, kid –“
“I'm not a kid!” the boy said loudly, too loudly as it attracted the attention of the rest of the patrons, but as there seemed to be no fight imminent they all – well, mostly – went back to their drinks. “And my name’s Simon.”
“Simon?” Jayne was slightly appalled. No kid of his would ever have such a … a girlie name.
“You sure he ain't one of yours?” Hank whispered, nudging the doctor good-naturedly, who just gave him a look.
“Hey, didn’t your mom work for a man named Grogan?” Jayne asked.
“Yeah. When she figured she was pregnant she went to him,” Simon explained. “Told him all about it. About you. He … well, he’d had a soft spot for my mom for a long time, told her he’d make an honest woman of her, if she’d have him. They got married real quick.”
“Was he good? For a father, I mean?”
Simon shrugged. “He was okay. Didn’t beat me, or anything. Expected six credits change from a five credit note, but that’s not unusual in these parts.”
“Guess it ain't,” Jayne agreed. “My dad was the same.” He took another pull at his beer. “So what happened to him? He still alive?”
“Nope. We put him in the ground ‘bout three years ago. My mom ran the farm after that, did it well too.”
Jayne nodded, having noted the slightly better quality of clothes the boy wore compared to the rest of them. “And her? Your mom? What happened?”
Simon shrugged again, something he seemed to do when upset. “Sickness. Don’t know what it was – the local doc couldn’t do anything, nothing he gave her made any difference. It pained her, I know that. At least he could dull that. But she … one morning I woke up, and she didn’t.”
Jayne was impressed by his words, even at the same time being saddened by their meaning. “She was … she was a nice lady.”
“Yeah, that she was.” Simon looked up at him. “She told me, when she knew she was sickening, who my daddy really was. Told me it was you.”
“Yeah, well,” Jayne muttered, moving in his seat as his uncomfortableness made itself known. “No proof of that.”
“She told me!”
“Well, telling and being the truth ain’t exactly close allies, kid. You get a mite older, you’ll learn that.” Jayne glanced around at the others, still trying to look like they weren’t watching. “And even if I am, what do you want?”
“Want?” The boy seemed confused.
“From me. I don’t have anything, ‘part from my guns and the clothes on my back. Got no savings, so I can’t –“
“I don’t want anything.”
“Wha –?” Jayne’s brows drew together, and it was his turn to be confused. “I don’t get it.”
“I just wanted to meet you. Let you know I was here. Not looking for anything from you, ‘cept maybe your name.”
“I ain't a Grogan. Never seemed right anyhows, so I won’t be sad to see it go. But I want to be … if you’ll let me, I want to be Simon Cobb.”
Jayne ignored the spluttering as Hank snorted into his beer. “I don’t rightly know about that …”
“Nothing else,” Simon insisted. “Just that.”
“Well, I …” Jayne shook his head. “We need to … I need to be sure. Our doc here can tell, soon as blinkin’, if we’re … if I’m your dad. You willing to find out for sure?”
“You are my dad. My mom said so.”
“I know, kid, I know. But … it’ll take but a minute.”
Jayne nodded at the group at the bar, and the young doctor approached, the others close behind. “I'm just going to need a sample of your blood,” the older Simon said.
“Sure.” He held out his hand and Serenity’s doctor placed a small grey cylinder against the boy’s finger. There was a click, a slight sting, and that was all. “That it?” he asked.
“That’s it.” The doctor turned away, busying himself with his kit.
“Hadn’t you better introduce us?” Mal asked, his thumbs hitched into his gunbelt.
“Yeah. I guess.” Jayne pointed. “Simon, this is Captain Reynolds. He’s … it’s his boat I'm on.”
“Pleased to meetcha,” Mal said, smiling.
“Likewise.” The boy held out a hand and they shook.
“And this long streak of nothing is Hank. He’s pilot on said boat.” Jayne waved absently at the other man.
“Thank you for that glowing introduction, Jayne,” Hank said witheringly. “Hi.”
There was an awkward pause, then Mal said, “Well, guess we’d best be get getting back to our drinks. Let you two get to know each other a little better.”
“Yeah. Thanks.” Jayne nodded and the other two wandered back to the bar. “Sorry ‘bout that.”
“That’s okay,” Simon said. “People can’t help being people.”
“Your momma taught you that?”
They sat and stared at each other for a while, then Jayne said, “You know how to use a gun?”
Simon nodded. “My fa – Grogan taught me. Soon as I was old enough to hold a pistol. Said you were never too young to learn.”
“That’s the way of things,” Jayne agreed. “Glad to see you’ve been schooled in some of the finer things. You any good?”
“Not bad.” The boy smiled a little, and Jayne figured it was probably better than not bad.
“So, how’re you living?” Jayne asked.
“I got the farm. Mom did well on it, we got hands, they keep it running for me. ‘Til I'm old enough to do it myself. And she was a good teacher, so it won’t be long. Then I’ll get me a wife and raise my own kids.” Simon looked into Jayne’s eyes. “I'm not looking for support. Just … acknowledgement.”
“Jayne,” Mal said from the bar.
The big man looked up and Mal nodded at him. “Simon, I have to … they got the results. Okay? I’ll be right back.”
Jayne stood up and crossed the floor to the others, who were huddled together. “You got it?”
“Yes,” Simon said. “He’s not your son.”
“You sure?” Simon showed him the readout on the small hand-held instrument. “You know that makes no sense to me,” he complained.
“Then trust me. He isn’t your son.”
Jayne glanced back at the boy sitting in the corner. “No. Guess he ain’t. His momma did tell me she weren’t averse to a little physical comfort, when it was offered. She might not’ve known, just picked a name out of the hat. Not like Jayne Cobb is easy to forget.”
“Are you going to tell him?” Mal asked.
“I suppose.” Jayne still looked at the boy. “He’s a good kid.”
“Seems almost …” Jayne stopped, then walked back to the corner.
“Jayne developing a conscience?” Hank asked.
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Mal said.
“So?” the young Simon asked as Jayne sat down again.
“You really want me to be your father?” Jayne asked in turn. “You know nothing ‘bout me.”
“Don’t need to. My mom said you were a good man – that’s all I need.”
“I ain't good. No-one’s ever accused me of being that,” Jayne insisted.
“She knew what she was talking about,” Simon said, shaking his head. “Always knew when folks were lying to her, trying to trick her. Even knew when it was gonna rain. She thought you were a good man.”
“Lot of air through the engine since then.”
“People don’t change. Not that much.”
“Kid, you got a lot to learn,” Jayne said fervently.
“Maybe. But I’m betting my mom was right.” He leaned forward. “Was she?”
Jayne paused, taking a moment to finish his beer before answering. “Yeah, Simon,” he finally said. “She was. And you ain’t a Grogan – you’re a Cobb.”
The doctor at the bar stiffened. “I told him –“
Mal put his hand on the other man’s arm and he subsided.
Simon Cobb grinned and relaxed. “See? My mom was never wrong.”
The boy exhaled, like he’d been holding it in forever. “Thanks,” he said.
“No problem.” Jayne smiled. “Carry it well.”
“I will.” Simon pushed back his chair and stood up.
“That it?” Jayne asked, surprised, standing himself. He noted idly that he had been right: the boy was almost his own height.
“That’s it,” Simon confirmed. “Like I said, I don’t want anything from you. A look of indecision crossed his face. “‘Cept …”
“Maybe a letter? Now and again? Just to let me know what you’re doing. I’d like to hear from my dad once in a while.” Simon smiled hopefully.
“I don’t write much,” Jayne said. “Don’t got no cause to.” Then he saw the look in Simon’s eyes. “Course, if you write to me I gotta write back. Even if it’s just a line or two.”
“Done!” said the boy happily. “But how do I –“
“Send it care of the Wayborn Sky Complex. We call in there once in a while – they’ll hold anything for me.”
“Okay.” Simon held out his hand. “Thanks.”
Jayne nodded, taking his hand and pumping it twice before letting go. “Hell, kid, you’re a Cobb – least I could do.”
Simon grinned and strode out, his head high.
After a moment Jayne joined the others at the bar.
“Jayne, I told you –“ the other Simon began.
“I ain't wanting to be preached at,” Jayne interrupted. “Got reasons for what I did, but they ain’t to be shared. Just feel like getting drunk, is all.”
“You want company?” Mal asked.
That night as they rolled back to Serenity, Jayne glanced down at the field where he’d met Shannon. There was almost a wistful look on his face as he looked back fourteen years.
“So you wanna tell me why?” Mal asked quietly, standing beside him in the dark while the other two walked on ahead, arms round each other, singing something unrecognisable. “ Why you let that boy believe you’re his father?”
“It’s …” For once the big man seemed lost for words.
“Complicated?” Mal suggested.
“Yeah.” Jayne thought for a moment, then said, “You got Freya. Could be in time you’ll have little ones of your own. Me, I ain't got no-one, and likelihood is I never will. My kinda life, you don’t tend to get an old age.”
“You might here,” Mal said, looking up at the bulk of Serenity silhouetted against the night sky.
“Yeah, but there’s no guarantee I’ll be staying put. I ain't never stayed long in one place, Mal. But this is the most.”
“You considering taking your leave of us?” Mal asked, surprised.
“No,” the mercenary blustered. “Not unless you plan throwing me out the airlock again. But things happen. Things change.”
“I know it.” Mal glanced back towards town. “So you want Simon to carry on the family name?”
“If’n I don’t get kids, he’s the closest thing I have. Even with a girlie name like that.”
Mal suppressed a smile. “Any idea who his father really is?”
“Not a clue.” Jayne shrugged. “Could even be that Grogan for all I know. It was but a coupla hours, Mal. We didn’t exactly exchange life stories.”
“And yet she remembered you enough to gift her son that you were his father. I conjure that was something telling.”
“Reckon you’re right.” Jayne smiled. “He’s a good kid. Be right for him to follow in the Cobb name. Be fitting.”
“You gonna write to him?”
“Maybe.” Jayne glanced at his captain. "Prob’ly not. ‘Less’n he writes. But he’ll do okay.”
Mal put his hand on the big man’s shoulder. “He’s a Cobb, Jayne. How can he do anything less?”
Thursday, September 07, 2006 4:33 AM
Thursday, September 07, 2006 6:12 AM
Thursday, September 07, 2006 9:21 AM
Thursday, September 07, 2006 8:55 PM
Sunday, September 10, 2006 11:11 AM
Saturday, September 23, 2006 3:55 AM
Monday, February 19, 2007 2:56 AM
Wednesday, September 26, 2007 6:32 AM
Wednesday, March 04, 2009 5:49 AM
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