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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
A little Jayne fic while I struggle with the Grey Suits storyline ... feedback would be great - it really helps!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1863 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“I don’t want to!” the little boy cried, stiff-legged in his defiance.
“You gotta,” his mother said.
“Why?” he demanded. “I don’t want to.”
“Neither do I,” she admitted. “But we got no choice. So come on, Matty. We gotta go say goodbye.”
“Why?” the boy asked again, tears beginning to stain his cheeks. “Why can’t he just come home?”
His mother stared at him, then gathered him into her arms, crying her own self. “I wish he could, Matty. Dear God, I wish he could.” She looked at the older boy over the shoulder of her son.
Jayne sat up in his bunk, staring into the shadows, his t-shirt wringing with sweat as if he had just run a mile in full kit, with grenades. He was panting so much he was sure the others would hear. “Gorramit it,” he said quietly.
Freya stepped over the sill into the dining area, switching on the light as she did so. “Tzao gao,” she said as she realised someone was already sitting at the table.
“Sorry,” Jayne said. “Did I scare ya?”
“Unsettled, shall we say?” Freya headed behind the counter, opening cupboards at random. She smiled at him, then paused in her searching. “You okay?” she asked.
“Yeah. Why?” Jayne lifted the mug in front of him and took a mouthful.
“Well, I'm not sure, but I don’t think you usually drink in the dark. “
“Nope, you ain't wrong.”
“So why are you?”
“Don’t need no light for thinking.”
“Is that what you’re doing?”
Jayne shrugged. “Guess I couldn’t sleep. What’s your excuse?”
“Woke up with the munchies.”
“Not surprised, all the noise you two were making earlier.”
Freya grinned. “We keep you up?”
“No more’n usual.”
She pulled a bag of dried fruit from a drawer and came to sit down next to him. “So what’s up?”
“Jayne, this is me you’re lying to.”
The big man shifted in his seat, as if he were sitting on hot coals. “Ain’t nothing much, anyways.”
“So tell me. It isn’t like we haven’t got the time. We’re taking the long way round to Greenleaf.” Freya opened the bag and offered it to the big mercenary to take some, but for once he shook his head. “Mal’s on the ‘keeping under the radar’ kick again. So I ask again, what’s up?”
“Just thinking about my mother.” Jayne looked into his mug, almost embarrassed.
“Your mother?” Freya was surprised.
“You thought maybe I didn’t have one?” he asked. “I may be a bastard, but I ain't that bad.”
“No, it’s not that. It’s just … you don’t talk about her.”
“Don’t talk about yourn either.”
“There’s probably a good reason for that.”
“Well, I just don’t talk about family.”
“Hey, didn’t she make you that cunning hat? “ Freya asked, leaning forward.
Jayne, despite himself, smiled. “You like it?”
“I surely do. Do you think she’d make me one?”
“I could ask, next time I write.”
“Do you write often?” Freya asked, never knowingly having seen Jayne with a pen in his hand.
“When she writes. Sends me stuff.” He looked embarrassed. “Gotta write soon – she sent me some underwear coupla weeks ago.”
“You didn’t mention it.”
“You think I would? Wanting everyone to know his mother still sends him nether garments?”
Freya hid a smile. “Suppose you’re right. But if you could ask her, that’d be grand.”
“What colour?” Jayne asked.
“Green,” Freya said immediately. “I’ve a hankering for a green hat.”
Freya yawned, then belatedly covered her mouth. “Sorry,” she said, smiling.
“Think you’re ready to get that shut-eye,” Jayne said.
“Yeah. And best get back before Mal notices I’m gone.”
“Too late for that,” the captain of Serenity said, standing in the doorway with the blanket wrapped around his waist, scratching his head. “You intending to stay up all night? Just so’s I know.”
“I’m coming,” Freya said, getting up. She looked at Jayne. “You sure you’re okay?”
Jayne watched Freya join Mal, then called, “Frey, what day is it?”
Freya looked back. “Tuesday, I think.”
“No, I mean specifically.”
“Ummn …” Freya thought carefully. “August 15th. Or it was until … guess it’s the 16th by now. Why?”
“Just wondered. ‘Night.”
“Goodnight.” Freya walked back to her and Mal’s bunk, his arm around her waist.
Jayne stared down into his mug. No wonder his dreams were full of the past. So full of the day they had to bury his father.
“Jayne?” his mother called, wiping her hands on her apron. “Are you gonna finish your chores or not?”
“Already done ‘em, ma,” he said, putting the broom back in the closet. “You could eat your meal off this floor.”
Fionnula Cobb smiled at him, her black hair pulled into a tight knot at the nape of her neck, her blue eyes shining. “I think I’ll take your word for it.” She watched him as he closed the door, wondering yet again how she and Frank Cobb had ever managed to get a child quite so … masculine. Still, the boy was nearly sixteen, and nearly a man. She sniffed slightly. Soon be time for him to make his own way in the world, find a decent job, maybe take a wife … although from what she’d been hearing, he didn’t seem that anxious to settle down. “Go get your brother from the Wilkins, will you? Your Pa’ll be home soon, and you know he likes to see us all around that table.”
He grinned. “Sure, Ma.” He tugged his jacket from the peg and went outside, whistling quietly. He never minded going over to the Wilkins’ place. They had a daughter, young Meg, and she was a pretty sight to behold. He’d kissed her once, and she’d slapped him, but that just made him all the more eager to get to know her better. Never did like girls who were weak.
She wasn’t home, though, but Mrs Wilkins made him come in for a moment, and gave him one of her home-made cookies. He didn’t really want it, wanted to keep room for the good meal his mother always provided, but he ate it, just to be sociable. Matty was still finishing his as they left.
“Jayne,” his younger brother said as they walked along in the twilight.
“You sweet on Meg?”
Jayne stared at him. “Where’d you hear that?”
“Jolene’s brother’s in the same class as her, and he told her that you’re sweet on her.” Matty licked his fingers then wiped them on his pants. “What does that mean?”
“Just means I like her,” Jayne said, feeling a blush creeping up his cheeks, glad the boy couldn’t see it.
“Oh. Then I’m sweet on Jolene,” Matty said proudly.
“Kinda figured that,” Jayne admitted. “Wouldn’t go saying it in front of Ma or Pa, though,” he advised. “They might think you’re a mite young yet.”
“I’m nearly nine!” Matty protested. “And you ain’t much older.”
“Seven years is a lot, Matty,” Jayne said, knowingly. “That makes it okay for me to be sweet on someone. Not you.”
“Huh!” Matty said. “Still don’t see why I can’t –”
“You just can’t!” Jayne said. “Just give it a while. ‘Sides, Jolene ain’t the only girl in the ‘verse.”
“Hell, I know that,” Matty said.
“And don’t go swearing in front of Ma!” Jayne said firmly. “She’ll tan your hide if she even thinks you know words like that.”
“Heard it from you first,” the boy said sullenly.
“That ain’t the … just don’t, okay?”
They reached their own front door and went inside. “Ma, we’re back.” He took off his jacket then looked around, expecting to see his father sitting at the table, ready to eat. Instead he saw Old Man Hobson, the local sheriff, Jefferson, and a man he didn’t recognise standing in the middle of the living room. “Ma?” he asked, suddenly realising she was sitting in the armchair, his Pa’s armchair. Her face was white, and her hands were tightly clasped in her lap. “What is it, Ma?” he asked.
“Jayne …“ His mother couldn’t speak.
Hobson looked up. “Jayne, take your brother into the kitchen and get him something to eat, okay? Then come back.”
“Is it –”
“Just do it, okay?”
Jayne stared at him, then looked at his mother, who nodded slowly. He put his hand on Matty’s back, steering him into the other room.
“What’s going on?” Matty asked.
“Ain’t rightly sure.” He made Matty sit at the big oak table and gave him some of the stew from the pot. “Just sit quietly, okay?”
“But where’s Pa?” Matty asked, picking up his spoon. “Don’t we always eat together?”
”Not tonight, Matty,” Jayne said. “Just sit quietly.”
He went back into the living room, his heart pounding. “Ma? What is it?” he said, coming to kneel next to her. “Is it Pa?” he asked.
“Jayne. Oh, Jayne!” she said, collapsing onto his shoulder.
He held her tight, feeling her crying, not recognising this woman to be the same as the one who had never broken down in front of him before. “What’s happened?” he asked.
Jefferson cleared his throat. “There’s been an accident –” he began, but Hobson interrupted.
“Weren’t no accident, Kyle. Frank was killed, that’s what happened. And it weren’t no accident.”
The man Jayne didn’t recognise spoke up. “There was an argument down at the feed store. This man said your father had cheated him, sold him short weight. Didn’t think it was gonna get so heated, but you know what your father’s like. Was like,” he corrected himself.
Jayne realised who this man had to be – Gilford, the owner of the store where his Pa worked.
Gilford went on. “Didn’t really see what happened, but suddenly there was a gunshot, and your pa is staggering back, and this other fella is holding a gun. He ran out of the store before I could stop him. Weren’t nothing I could do for your father, either. Sorry.”
“Who was it?” Jayne asked, feeling his mother tighten her grip on him.
“I don’t rightly think I should –”
“Who was it?” the boy repeated, his voice quieter.
“His name’s Ballard. Works for the Cruster brothers over on their farm. We’re looking for him,” Jefferson said, twisting his hat in his hand. “He ain’t got nowhere else to go, so we’ll get him.”
“Right.” Jayne nodded.
“Well, there’s not much else we can do now,” Jefferson said, anxious to be gone, to get out of this house. “We’ll let you know soon as we catch him.” He hurried to the door.
Gilford nodded. “And don’t worry none. I’ll make sure you don’t go needful.” He followed Jefferson, stepping out into the cool night air.
Hobson stayed a little longer. “Fionnula, if you need anything, just ask. And … Frank’s body’s down at the local doctor’s. I’ll get the undertakers to collect him, do everything that needs to be done. Soon as you want to, just let me know and I’ll take you there.” He looked at her for a moment, her head still on her son’s shoulder, then walked out.
“Ma?” Jayne said, pushing her away so he could look into her face. He was shocked by what he saw.
“Oh, Jayne … what are we going to do now?” she asked, her face white, her eyes red. “Oh, Frank …” She pushed away from Jayne, falling the other way onto the arm of the chair, her body wracked by sobs.
“Ma?” said Matty from the doorway.
Jayne had finally managed to get his mother into bed, covering her with all the bedclothes he could find to try and stop the trembling in her limbs, and she had at last fallen into a fitful sleep. He watched her for a few minutes, his mind whirling, then walked purposefully out into the living room. Matty was asleep on the sofa, and he tenderly put the old blanket over him.
He went to the closet, where only a few short hours ago he had put the broom, but he wasn’t looking to clean up this time. Or maybe he was. With great care he took down the box from the top shelf, opening it and taking out the contents. He’d never known his father wear it, but now he strapped the gun around his waist, feeling its weight against his hip. He checked it to see if it was loaded: it was. Then, turning down the light, he glanced once more at Matty and went out into the night.
He knew the way to the Cruster place, and the quickest route to get there. Jefferson was right – there was nowhere else for Ballard to go, and as the predawn light began to tickle the edge of the sky, he arrived at the spot that overlooked the only road in. He settled down under an old tree, and began to wait.
The sun was well and truly up when he heard someone on the road. Someone moving stealthily, not wanting to be seen. He got to his feet and hid behind the tree.
The man was young, in his twenties, maybe, not that much older than Jayne. He was watching the road furtively, ready to duck under cover if anything even hinted at coming by. But he wasn’t looking for someone lying in wait.
“Ballard!” Jayne shouted as the man came level with him.
The other man stopped, staring wildly about, pulling his gun from its holster.
Jayne stepped out from behind the tree.
“Who the hell’re you?” Ballard asked, pointing his gun with a hand that shook slightly.
Ballard shrugged. “Don’t know you. What are you doing here?”
“Looking for you.”
“Me?” Ballard laughed, seeing a boy wearing a gunbelt that was a little large for him, and an expression that suggested he was going to throw up at any moment. “What for?”
“You killed my father.”
Ballard blanched, but didn’t move. “Says who?”
“Gilford. Hobson. Jefferson. The whole damn town.” Jayne swallowed. “And I’ve come for you.”
Ballard laughed again, but it was a nervous laugh now. “You? You’re only a kid.”
“Old enough,” Jayne said. “I’m gonna kill you.”
“You think?” Ballard was blustering. “You ain’t even got your gun out.”
Jayne paused for a moment. “No, I ain’t. ‘Cause we’re gonna do this like men.”
“Like men?” Ballard grinned, suddenly much more confident. “You wanna try and beat me to the draw?” He looked the boy up and down. “How old’re you? Thirteen?”
“Fifteen,” Jayne said.
“Well, you ain’t gonna reach sixteen.” Ballard fired, but Jayne was ready. He dropped to the dirt, rolling out of the way, tasting dust in his mouth. His hand reached for his gun, even as he felt a bullet ripple through the air above his head. He rolled on, then up onto his knees, firing at the blurry figure, until the gun was empty.
Ballard let out a cry and fell back.
Jayne stayed put for a long moment, then got to his feet. He couldn’t even reload, his hands were shaking so much, but he had to see. He crossed the road towards the fallen man, ready to react if this was a trap.
It wasn’t. As he looked down, he could see the blood soaking into the earth, and Ballard’s eyes were staring sightless into the sky. By sheer luck one of Jayne’s bullets had taken him in the base of the throat, tearing through his jugular.
Jayne stared at the body, then leaned over and threw up next to it.
“We don’t know who killed him,” Jefferson said, holding his hat in front of him. Fionnula Cobb sat on the sofa, perfectly still, dressed in full black, Jayne standing behind her. “Could have been anyone. Looks like he weren’t good at making friends.”
Hobson nodded. “Lots of folks were out for his blood. Can’t say I’m sorry, either, though I’d’a liked to see him dancing at the end of a rope.”
“Yeah, me too,“ Jefferson agreed. “But the matter ends there. We ain’t gonna go after whoever did it – seems they did this town a favour.”
“Thank you,” Jayne’s mother said.
“No problem,” Jefferson said. He looked at Jayne. “You wanna come and see us out?”
Jayne nodded, ready for whatever happened next. He walked the others to the door, then outside into the pale sunshine.
Jefferson stopped, looked at Hobson, then at the boy in front of him. “Did ya get rid of the gun?” he asked quietly. Jayne stared at him. “Best not to keep it, ‘less you’re planning on leaving,” he went on.
“I … I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Jayne stuttered.
“No, course not,” Jefferson said, putting a friendly hand on his shoulder. “No-one condones what you … what happened, but they understand it. It just ain’t the kinda thing you should get used to.”
Jefferson nodded, then he and Hobson walked to their horses, mounting and galloping off into the day.
Jayne stared at them until they were out of sight, then went inside.
His mother was standing by the fireplace, and turned when he closed the door. “We have a funeral to get to,” she said. “Then you and I are going to have a little talk.” Her Irish colouring was high.
“Yes, ma,” Jayne said, his heart thudding.
Matty was in bed, worn out, holding his pillow to him as his mother closed the door and went back into the living room. Jayne was waiting for her.
“It’s going to be hard,” she said, sitting down in the armchair. “But Mr Gilford said he’d help out, seeing as Frank … died in his store. And I can take in washing, maybe do some sewing. Learn how to knit, maybe.”
“I can help out. Get a job,” Jayne began.
“No, Jayne. You can’t stay here.”
Jayne stared at her. “But Ma, I’m the man of the house now. I have to look after you.”
“I think you looked after us enough.” She shook her head, her eyes bright with unshed tears. “I know what you did, and I know why you did it. But it was wrong, Jayne. Can’t you see that?”
“Ma, he killed him! Didn’t even think about it, just shot him! You think I could just let that go?” He stepped towards her, but she backed away, tearing at him.
“I know. And you should have left it up to the sheriff. He’d have gotten his just desserts.”
“But the bible, Ma!” Jayne turned to the meagrely stocked bookshelf. “An eye for an eye! It says so!”
Fionnula Cobb grasped the crucifix at her throat. “We’re more civilised now, Jayne. That’s what we have the law for.”
“So … you’re throwing me out?” Jayne’s voice was plaintive, shocked.
“No, Jayne,” she said, at last stepping forward to take him into her arms. “I ain’t doing that. But it ain’t safe for you to stay here. Not knowing what you done.”
“What I done?” He looked into her blue eyes. “I killed the man that killed my father.”
“And someone’s gonna come along and want to kill you for it.” She shook her head. “Jayne, you killed a man.”
The expression in her eyes, the loss, the misery, the disappointment made him take a step back.
“So I leave.”
“I think it’s best.”
“What about you? Matty?”
“We’ll be okay. And you can send money, if you like. Always be nice to have a few extras.” She tried to smile.
“When?” Jayne asked.
“There’s a ship at the dock. Mr Gilford said he can make arrangements, have them take you on. Then the ‘verse is out there. And you got your Pa’s gun to protect you.”
“Can I ever come home?”
A tear slid down her cheek. “One day. Maybe.” She touched him on the arm. “I’ll write. Often as I can.”
“You know I ain’t no good at letters,” he said, trying to drag a smile from his boots.
“Then you’d better learn.” She shook herself. “Come on. Best get you packed. Gonna be a big adventure for you.”
“Sure, Ma. Sure.”
Jayne put down his empty mug and sighed. Long time ago, he realised. Lot of water under the bridge, and a lot of dead folks carried across the top. He’d become what his mother had always feared, what he knew she’d seen in him, and he was sorry for that. He wished … he wished he could have been something she was proud of, someone she could tell her neighbours about.
Standing up he headed back to his bunk, glancing along at Mal and Freya’s, hearing laughter from inside. At least some people were happy. Still, he could write to her, thank her for the underwear. Funny how she always seemed to know when he was in need of some.
Friday, September 29, 2006 4:18 AM
Friday, September 29, 2006 8:15 AM
Friday, September 29, 2006 8:39 AM
Friday, September 29, 2006 9:34 AM
Monday, October 1, 2007 6:37 AM
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