BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Paquin - Part III
Monday, May 7, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. More talking, this time Jayne and Mal, and Freya admits she's worried about Ethan ... we're building to something here, folks! So please leave comments ... it makes me so happy!


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1910    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

“So,” Mal said, feeling the breeze from the mountains blowing through his hair and pulling his coat a little closer about himself. “You want us to drop by Jiangyin any time soon?”

Jayne muttered something under his breath, but shook his head. “Ain’t asking.”

“Only I’d’a thought you’d want for us to see your son get married.”

“He ain’t mine.” Jayne concentrated on the way ahead, manoeuvring the hover mule around an outcrop of rocks.

“Close enough.” Mal glanced at the big man. “You ashamed of us or something?”

Jayne didn’t answer, not for a few seconds. “Ain’t you,” he finally said, his voice whipped away by the wind. “Me.”

“You’re ashamed of you?”

“Mal, I really don’t wanna talk about it.”

Mal sat quietly for a minute or two. “Have you answered his letter?” he asked finally.

Jayne shook his head. “Not yet. Don’t seem right, not ‘til I know what to do.”

“When’s this wedding supposed to be, anyhow?” Jayne was silent, and Mal turned to look at him. “Well?”

“I’m thinking.”

“Well think a little faster. I’d kinda like an answer before I’m too old to hear it.”

Jayne sighed audibly. “Mal, the thing is … Simon’s kinda said he ain’t gonna ask the girl ‘til I say I’m coming.”

“He wants your permission?” Mal tried to hide his amusement, and only the corners of his mouth twitched.

“Nah, nothing like that.” Jayne sat up straighter. “Least, I don’t think so. He just wants me to be there, be his best man ‘n’ everything.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“It’s me, Mal.” Jayne shot a glare at him. “I ain’t what a girl wants in a father-in-law. Not even a one who ain’t real.”

“They don’t know that.”

“Makes it worse. She’s gonna think he’s gonna end up like me, and … well, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”

That wasn’t something Mal could really argue with. No matter that the big man had changed over the past few years, more recently since River had taken him in hand, but there was no doubting he was a shock to the system. That’s what made him so useful sometimes. “She might like you.”

“Me?” Jayne scoffed. “I’m a killer, Mal. Got me more scalps hanging from my belt than I can number, and that ain’t likely to improve. Would you want me as a relative?”

Mal’s mind darted to the conversation he’d had with Kaylee not that long ago, when she’d said that he could end up as Jayne’s pa-in-law, seeing as he treated River like a daughter. That, however, he intended to keep to himself, particularly as it made him just a little queasy to be thinking on it. “Jayne, it might not have escaped your notice, but we’re kinda all family anyway. Simon Cobb’s just an extension of that. So’d his wife be.”

“Yeah, but -”

“But nothing. You need to answer his letter. If you really feel you can’t go to the wedding, well, that’s up to you. But he wanted you for his father. Against all expectation and common sense, because his mother saw something good in you. I reckon you don’t want to be making her out to be a liar, now, do you?”

Jayne hunched down into his coat, his eyes fixed on the mountains ahead.

---

“Here.” Freya held out a cup of coffee, letting the aroma waft towards the young mechanic.

Kaylee sniffed and rolled out on the trolley from under the engine housing. “Oh, you are a lifesaver,” she said, taking the mug and draining half of it in one go.

“Careful, it’s hot,” Freya said, her lips curving.

“Don’t care,” Kaylee managed to say, her eyes watering a little. She rubbed them with a greasy hand, leaving a smear of something above her brow. “Tastes good.”

“How’s it going?”

“I think we’re lucky.” She tucked her legs under her. “It don’t look like there’s any damage, so I can just reflux and we’ll be ready to get gone once the Cap and Jayne get back.”

“Good.”

Kaylee took a more careful sip. “How’s Ethan?”

Frey looked over her shoulder towards the bunks. “He’s sleeping.”

“That wasn’t what I asked.”

Freya turned back. “He’s still got that temperature.”

“Bethany used to get ‘em,” Kaylee said confidently. “Lots. I’d be hanging around the bed, feeling her forehead every ten minutes, just to … but it weren’t nothing. Kids get these things.”

“I know.”

“It don’t help, though, does it? Hearing that.”

Freya smiled a little. “No. Not really. I mean, I know … I remember Bethany getting … but he’s my son, Kaylee.”

“And nothing anyone says is gonna stop you fretting.”

“No.”

Kaylee laughed. “It’s called being a mother. Now I know what my Ma used to go on about with me and my brothers. All the times she’d say we were putting her into an early grave.”

“Really?”

“She didn’t mean it. It was just her way of telling us that she was concerned about us.” Kaylee finished her coffee and handed the mug back. “And since she’s still around, I guess we weren’t that bad.”

“Not that bad, no.”

Kaylee grinned. “Well, I gotta get on, else the Cap ain’t gonna be pleased when he gets home and finds I blew up his boat anyway.”

“Mmn, yes, not a good idea.”

Kaylee rolled back under the housing. “Ain’t it your turn to cook tonight?” she called, her voice echoing through Serenity’s innards.

“That it is.”

“You’d better get started, then. I’m starving!”

Her laughter followed Freya as she took the mugs into the kitchen. Not that food was on her mind. She was thinking about what Hannah had said just a short while before when she’d waved.

“It ain’t anything, Freya,” the woman had insisted. “Just a temperature and sniffles. Not even really anything more’n a cold.”

“Did you call a doctor?”

Hannah had shaken her head. “It wasn’t needed. Besides, he’s much better now. And Ethan will be too, you see. In the morning he’ll be jumping around on his bed, waking you up.”

“I hope so.” Freya had smiled.

Now, though, as she washed the mugs and put them away, she couldn’t help the faint chill running down the flame on her back. Not a premonition, but just a worry that … no, not even that. More an itch. And she needed to scratch it before she could even begin to think about anything else.

Hurrying to the crew quarters, she climbed down the ladder into their bunk, and turned towards the nursery.

“Bethany?” She stopped in surprise as she saw the little girl standing next to Ethan’s bed. “What are you doing in here?”

“Came to keep Ethan company,” Bethany explained, not turning.

“But you’re not supposed to be playing with Ethan right now.” Freya stepped into the nursery. “Didn’t your daddy tell you?”

“Not playing,” Bethany said firmly. “I’m painting.” She turned, and Freya could see her little hands were covered in a mixture of colours.

“Painting? Painting what?”

Bethany suddenly giggled, her hands covering her mouth and leaving marks all across her cheeks.

“Oh, honey, no. You don’t want to be …” In the act of reaching for the little girl with one hand and a towel with another, Freya got a good look at her son. “Oh, good Lord.”

“Ethan’s a clown,” Bethany explained.

Freya couldn’t stop staring. Ethan had a bright green face, an enormous red smile painted across his mouth and cheeks, and bright blue circles for eyes. “Where did you …”

“Auntie River paints,” Bethany said, wiping her hands down her dress.

“No, don’t -”

“Frey?” River called from the ladder.

“Thank heavens. River, can you come down and help me?”

The young psychic hurried down the rungs, then burst out laughing.

“That doesn’t help,” Freya said, trying to stop Bethany from making more of a mess while wanting to clean up her son.

“It’s actually very artistic,” River pointed out, grabbing a flannel from the sink and rinsing it under the water. “Perhaps I should show her how to draw.”

“I’d rather you helped me clean them up.”

River picked up the towel. “Here. You wash, I’ll dry.”

---

Jayne poked the fire with a stick, watching the end catch and glow. They were in the foothills, but there was no point going on until daybreak. All too easy to end up taking a wrong turn and getting lost. They’d already eaten - protein bars and coffee - and were now ready to sleep.

“How’s the courting going?” Mal asked, laying back and resting on one elbow.

“Not sure.”

“Have you told her you love her yet?”

“She knows how I feel.”

“That ain’t the same thing. Women like to be told. Hell, I spent so long not telling Frey how I felt I’m surprised my tongue hadn’t shrivelled up.”

“It ain’t the same. You and Frey, it ain’t the same.”

“Why not?”

“This thing with River … it’s some kind of mental aberration on her part.”

“You think she doesn’t love you?”

“That’s what I mean. She does. Only I can’t figure out why.”

“Jayne, I have to admit, that’s one of the big questions in this ‘verse, along with the meaning of life and how come Frey can’t keep a pair of socks longer’n a week.” He glanced at the big man. “Your socks okay, by the way?”

Jayne nodded, lifting one big booted foot. “Wearing ‘em now. Pretty keen.”

“Get your ma to knit me some, will you? I’ll pay, a‘course.”

“Sure thing.”

“’N’ a pair for Frey. Maybe on a long string that goes up one leg and down the other.”

“Like them mittens the short stub has?”

“Yeah. Maybe she won’t be able to lose ‘em so easily.”

“No problem.”

“Anyway, back to River -”

“No, Mal,” Jayne interrupted. “I know you wanna play the father to us, but that just seems … well, gross far as I’m concerned. I’m older’n you, and … well, it’s just disgusting.”

“You’re still my crew.”

“’N’ that gives you the right to pry into my affairs?”

“No. But … hell, Jayne, you came to me to ask permission to court the girl!”

“’Cause she told me to!”

Mal laughed. “And you usually do what women tell you?”

“Well, not ‘less they got a gun on me, no.”

“Jayne, much as it pains me to say this, I think it’s true love between you two. Freezes the blood, and makes a mockery of … what?”

Jayne wasn’t moving. But it wasn’t just the immobility of the bored, or anything like that. It was the stillness of the born tracker, and as a sliver of apprehension worked its way up Mal’s neck, he realised once again just how superb at that Jayne was.

“What?” he repeated quietly.

“Someone’s out there.”

“Where?”

“Can’t tell. Just know we’re being watched.”

“Hostile?”

“I think there’s only one of ‘em, if that’s what you mean.”

“Doesn’t need more than one to make an unpleasantness.”

“No, guess not.” Jayne was listening, but not only with his ears. His entire being was being spread out, tasting the air, letting his peripheral vision pick up even the slightest of movements, feeling the ground for a footfall out of place.

After a long moment he exhaled, his body relaxing a little.

“They’ve gone?”

Jayne nodded. “Might’ve been an animal, attracted by the fire,” he suggested, piling more wood on.

“But you don’t think so.”

“Nope. It was a man. I could smell him.”

“Then we’d better take turns keeping watch. You get some rest -”

“No. I’ll take first watch, in case he comes back.” Jayne picked up Vera and laid her on his knees.

“Jayne -”

“Cap, this time, you do what you’re told.”

Mal wanted to argue, but he knew his mercenary was right. Wrapping his coat tightly around himself, he lay down, facing into the fire, his head on a small boulder.

An animal howled a distance away, the sound cutting through the cold air to hit Mal’s hindbrain and kick in all those instincts that had lain dormant since man had first learned to chase back the night. He shivered, knowing sleep was not going to come easy.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Monday, May 7, 2007 11:44 AM

SLUMMING


At first I thought the conversation between Jayne and Mal a little odd, but then I remembered the last scene in Jaynestown, and I could see it. Good job once again!

Monday, May 7, 2007 4:09 PM

TAMSIBLING


Yay! I really like how this is progressing! I absolutely adore Bethie and the idea that she's painting Ethan just had me laughing out loud. Although, shouldn't he have woken up? I guess she coulda have managed to get him messy without waking him, but still.

I'm really hoping that Freya's concern for Ethan is just overprotectiveness, but somehow Jane0904, I doubt that's true!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007 1:49 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Well now...gotta say this chapter was mighty entertaining, Jane0904!

Definitely was impressed with the Mal-Jayne conversations about Simon Cobb's wedding and Jayne's courtship of River. You captured the essences of both men, and I like how you've given Jayne a new - but plausible - sense of vulnerability and concern for others.

Oh...and the moment featuring Bethany painting Ethan's face? Hilarious:D

BEB

Wednesday, May 9, 2007 12:43 PM

AMDOBELL


I loved the conversation between Mal and Jayne, with Mal reminding Jayne that he is in a way family. Also, Jayne being so instantly on the alert makes me so glad he is out there with his Captain though knowing you that may not help as much as I hope. Worried now that whatever ails Ethan may pass to Bethany, though the image in my head of all that coloured paint had me in stitches! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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