The Hunt - Part VI
Saturday, February 17, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. On their way to Whitefall, River and Jayne talk, but ... Please keep the feedback coming - it helps enormously!


“What’s this?” Simon asked, entering the dining area, Jayne, Inara and Jethro following, all attracted by the smell of cooking.

“Food,” Kaylee said. “Gotta eat. Keep our strength up.” She picked up a dish of pasta. “Inara.”

The other woman looked at her, an understanding passing between them, and the ex-Companion nodded. “Of course,” she said, taking the plate.

“Momma?” Bethany tugged at Kaylee’s leg.

“Yes, honey?”

“Want to help.”

Kaylee looked at her daughter, then reached down and swung her up into her arms. “I know you do, baby.” She sniffed.

“Don’t cry,” the little girl said, putting a small hand on her mother‘s cheek.

Kaylee looked into the concerned face, with Simon’s eyes and her own mouth. She managed a smile. “I’m okay, sweetie,” she said. “Just a little tired.”

“Bed time,” Bethany said. “Story.”

Kaylee swallowed. “Soon, sweetie.”

Simon crossed to them. “Honey, come sit at the table,” he said softly, holding out his arms for his daughter.

“’Kay, daddy.” Bethany hugged him tightly, letting him carry her to the high chair and settle her in before going back to his wife.

“We’ll find her, won’t we?” Kaylee whispered.

“Mal won’t stop until he does.”

“I’m scared, Simon.”

He looked at her and she saw her own fears reflected in his eyes. “Me too.”

“We’d better eat,” Jayne said, sitting down in his old place. “Don’t wanna let good food go to waste.”

Simon turned, about to say something about certain things never changing, but stopped. There was an awareness about the big man, an understanding that was new. Different. “Jayne’s right,” he said at last. “We need to eat.” He sat down next to his daughter.

Zoe stepped down into the galley, surprised at the almost homely scene in front of her. “Kaylee?” she asked.

“Just making sure everyone’s fed,” the mechanic said. “Got a plate here for Hank, and one for the Cap too.”

“Hank will be grateful, but I doubt Mal will eat.” Zoe glanced towards the bridge. “He hasn’t moved since we got word from Patience.”

“What did the old lady say?” Jayne asked, tearing a hunk of bread into small pieces.

“She’s looking into it. Getting back to us.”

“How much is she wanting? ‘Cause I got some saved -”



Even Kaylee was amazed. “I thought -”

“So did we all. Guess people can surprise you.”

“There’s good in everyone,” Jethro said, then wished he hadn’t spoken at the look Jayne gave him.

“Ain’t none in the hwoon-dahn that took Frey,” the big man pointed out.

“I’d better get these plates to the bridge,” Kaylee said quickly, picking them up.

“I’ll take them,” Zoe offered.

“No. You’re still … you can’t carry them both. I’ll do it.” Kaylee hurried out of the galley.

“Who is Patience?” Jethro asked. “I keep hearing her name, but -”

“She owns most of Whitefall,” Zoe said. “We’ve had run-ins with her before, and most of the time people’ve ended up hurt. But if River’s right, and Freya’s on that moon, she’ll know.”

“Uncle Jayne?” Bethany said softly. “Auntie Frey coming home?”

He looked round at her, sitting in her chair, her face so serious. “Sure she is, squirt. Auntie Frey’s coming right home.”

“Good,” she said, trying to smile. “Ethan’s unhappy.”

“He needs his momma,” River said from the doorway.

Mei-mei,” Simon said, crossing the room and putting his arms around her. “I thought you were asleep.”

“Too much sleeping,” she said quietly, letting him lead her to a chair. “Want to wake up now.”

Jethro put his hand on hers, and Jayne felt a stab of jealousy. He reached out and grabbed the serving spoon, dumping food onto his plate and standing up. “Guess I’ll go eat in the cargo bay,” he said, heading for the door.

“You don’t have to,” Simon said.

“Yeah. I think I do.” He disappeared.

River gripped Jethro’s hand.


Jayne was picking up his weights from where Freya had thrown them. Although by rights they probably weren't his any longer. Never even considered taking them with him, so maybe they were classed as salvage and belonged to Mal now. Not that it mattered – weren't like he had anywhere to taken them to.

One of them was damaged, the end coming loose from the shaft. Diyu but Freya had an arm on her. He put it to one side, making a mental note to fix it, if he was around long enough.

“Someone dropped off your guns,” River said from the doorway to the common area.

“Yeah, I saw,” Jayne responded, not looking up. “Called a friend when we were on our way to the Guild House. Figured I might be needing 'em.” He righted the bench. “You okay?”

She nodded, even though he wasn't facing her. “I can’t … there’s nothing there now.”

Jayne glanced at her sharply. “You saying Freya’s –“

“I don’t know.”

“But you think you do.”

“I mustn’t say. I can’t stop the captain from hoping.”


“Are you going to put them back?”


“Your guns.”

“They’re okay in the bag.”

“You could put them back in your bunk.”

“Ain't mine.”

“But you’re home.”

He finished racking the weights and finally turned to look at her. “I'm here for Freya. As long as she needs me. No more.”


“What, you thought I came back for you?”

“No. I just hoped you might have been thinking about me.”

“Been too busy. Working.”

“Freya said … she said you were working for Badger.”

“And if I am?”


Jayne almost smiled. “Hell, girl, a man’s gotta eat. And a job’s a job, it don’t matter who for.”

“But –“

“I'm a hired gun. A merc. Ain’t never had any delusions ‘bout that. What you see is what you get. There ain't no great depths to me, River. I kill people. Or do heavy lifting. All I'm good for.”

“No, that’s not true.”

“You’ve made me up to be some kind of knight in shinin’ armour, ain't you? Well, I'm not. I'm a man. With a man’s needs. ‘S’all there is to it.” He turned away, away from the dark eyes that bored into his back.

“We’re friends,” she said softly.

“I don’t know what we are, River,” he replied, wiping the sweat from his hands on his pants. “I used to think, maybe … but then he came on board and I realised I was standing on quicksand. Had no choice but to move, or I’d be dragged to the bottom.”

“I would have saved you.”

“Don’t, moonbrain. You’ve only got eyes for Jethro.” He sat down on the bench, facing away from her.

“We haven’t had sex yet,” she said, stepping down into the bay and wafting around to stand in front of him, forcing him to see her.

“Don’t need to know that.”

“He wants to, but he’s afraid.”

“Of what? That you’ll take a butcher’s knife to him in his sleep?”

“Maybe.” She sat down on the floor in front of him, her legs crossed. “Or that what he feels for me is only compassion.”

“Is it?”


He glared at her. “Do you love him?” He had to know.


He took a deep breath and held it for a long time. “’Kay,” he said finally and stood up. “You’d best get some sleep.”

“Slept so long …”

“Well, it’ll be a few hours yet before we reach Whitefall. I’ll bunk down here. Done it in worse places.” He went to pass her but she grabbed his hand.

“Don’t leave. When this is all over, don’t leave.”

“Why?” He looked down at her, the paleness of her face accentuated by the shadows under her eyes. “You want two men fighting over you, is that it? Well it ain’t gonna happen, ‘cause I don’t reckon the Preacher knows how and I ain’t got the inclination.” He removed her hand gently but firmly. “I’m here to get the ga ni niang that did this. To get Freya back, is all. Then I’m gone.”

“You don’t have to. We all want you to stay.”

“Don’t really matter what you want, moonbrain. It’s what I choose.”

She pushed herself to her feet. “Yes. I know.” She moved towards the door, only pausing when he spoke again.

“Freya … is she … she is still alive, ain’t she?”

River wished she could lie but chose not to. “I don’t know. Whatever they were doing is finished. I can’t feel her any longer.”

“If she’s -”

“We all have to pray.”

“Least we got a Preacher on board to do that,” Jayne said, pulling a blanket from the cage to spread on the bay floor.

She watched him lay down, putting his head on his gun bag like it was the finest feather pillow, then wandered sadly towards her room.

Inara was waiting for her outside. “River …”

“You want to know what Sheydra knows.” The girl walked past her into her quarters and sat down on the bed.

“I know I should be thinking about Freya, and I am, but …” Inara joined her, taking River’s hand in hers. “I thought he was dead. If Sheydra knows something different, I have to … what did you see?”

River looked at the ex-Companion and sighed. “She doesn’t know much. Just a page she saw, on Guild notepaper.” She closed her eyes and read from the back of her brain. “‘Inara Serra was informed by the Guild that her child had been still-born. This was not the case. He was placed with a family to be brought up as their own. Any further information is, of course, confidential and is not covered by this agreement.’


River opened her eyes. “I don’t know what it means. Sheydra doesn’t either.”

“I see.” Inara looked down at their joined hands. “Do you think it’s true?”

“The paper had the Guild seal on it. Dark red wax.”

“Then he’s alive.”

“Perhaps.” At Inara’s sharp look she went on, “I’m sorry. I’m too tired to be polite. And I want Freya home.”

“So do we all.” Inara glanced up towards the bridge. “All of us.”

“I know.”

Inara stood up, straightening her dress. “Thank you.”

“Inara …”

“What, mei-mei?”

“Don’t do anything. Not yet.”

Inara looked at her. “I won’t. Not until Freya’s back.” River nodded. “Now try and get some sleep.” She gave a small smile and headed back towards her shuttle.

River lay down, gazing into the darkness above her bed. Despite what she said to Jayne, and the desperate need to believe Freya was still alive coming from the bridge, she was afraid they were going to be too late. That it was already too late to save her.

to be continued


Saturday, February 17, 2007 6:28 AM


Loved how you wove the characters in and out of these scenes. Wonderful characterizations as always!

Monday, February 19, 2007 1:35 PM


Amazing! I'm a bit worried that Freya's number might actually be up. I think you did great with the River/Jayne interaction, but I would still like to see more with River and Jethro.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007 9:54 AM


Oh...this was supremely brilliant stuff here, Jane0904! Especially the moment between River and Jayne in the cargo bay...was kinda hoping for a big ole yelling match to help clear the air between these two though;) handled the angst and interpersonal moments with a level of skill I am still jealous of;D



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[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]