Monday, November 12, 2007

A short ficlet on how Esper gets to meet Jayne’s parents. We find out why Jayne names his guns and how he came about his sexing rules. Slots in chronologically as story number 15 and features post BDM characters as well as my own. Very grateful thanks to BlueEyedBrigadier for the beta. Feedback keeps me writing, please comment.


Ma, It’s been a peace of time since I last wrote you and I’m sorry. The Space Bazzare where you used to send letters was hit by Reavers. We was there at the time but managed to get away on account of not wantin to get ett. If you wanna send letters now, you can send them through Kostova’s Shipyard on Boros or carre of the Pye Store in Eavesdown on Persephone. We got us one of them Pyes as crew now. She’s a geenyus when it comes to makin bombs and such but she don’t sit still for more than a minute, and she can also be a real pain in the ass. I told you about Karl when I wrote last. Found out later he was our old pilot’s big brother. Those two are makin nice with each other in between getting themselves kidnapped and arrested. You probably saw that big trial on the cortex in March. Well that was the Pye we have as crew. Wave hello to Matty for me. I hope that the credit I forwarded a few months ago had helped with his medeesin. We took on some passengers at Whittier. A woman and her father. It turned out that they used to live on Serenity a long time ago. She reminds me of you some - specially when you both are mad at me. Reckon you would like her. She can shoot too. They’ve taken a job on Bane’s brother’s Pye Eatings ship, the Rosalyn. She’s a real good cooke and her father’s a mechanic that Kaylee says is good enuff for Serenity, which is saying something. I hope to see her again at Christmas as Mal has promised to try and meet up with them. Tell Pa that I still keep up my welding when I can and if you want to send any more hats that would be real shiny. Love your son, Jayne

Dee put down the letter and looked at her husband. “Everything alright?” he asked, concerned. It had been their first proper letter from him for a long while. “I think our son’s fallen in love.” Matt Cobb’s grey eyebrows raised high enough to disappear behind the fringe of hair on his forehead. Dee handed him the letter. “In all the years he’s written he’s never talked about a woman in that way.” Matt read the letter, in a style only Jayne could write, he had told them a mountain of information in just a few short lines. He chuckled. “I hope he ain’t getting fat the way he talks about all that food. Those Pye Eatings are something to be held.” “What are they? I vaguely recognise the name” asked Dee. “Space gypsies for the most part. They used to come to Verbena when I was growing up. Food was the finest in the ‘Verse,” he said before smiling. “’Cept yours, my dear.” Dee tilted her head and looked at him, and then laughed. “Reckon you jus’ managed to crawl out of that one, Matt Cobb,” she teased gently, “Do they ever come here?” “Don’t know. I ain’t seen or heard of ‘em since the War, but they must still be around if Jayne says so. They always used to trade from the docks.” Matt looked at his wife. She could still surprise him now and again, even after nearly forty years of marriage, but he knew what she was thinking now. “You plannin’ on checking her out?” Dee pursed her lips in annoyance at her husband’s perception, but she was saved from answering by the return of her younger son, Matty. At barely twenty five he had all the visible traits of any Cobb. But the damp lung had taken away the Cobb robustness and Matty was more like a willow, than the great oaks his father and Jayne were. ~ * ~ The very next day, Dee Cobb walked down to the docks. She never came down here much nowadays although she had spent most of her youth here. It had been where she had met Matt in fact, fresh off a transport and looking for work. She walked into the derelict bar, her birthplace, and went up to the counter. “Still serving that pink rot gut?” she addressed the man behind the bar on his knees. He looked up, annoyed, and then his face cracked into a grin. “Why Dee Cobb! I ain’t seen you for an age. What brings you back to the ol’ homestead?” He came around the end of the bar and she gave him a warm hug. Things did not change and Oscar still smelt like beer, tobacco and peppermint. She had known him for most of her life. “How’s business?” she asked. Oscar looked around the bar sadly. “Ain’t like the old days when your Ma ran it,” he mused, “But we got our regulars an’ they help keep the fights down.” Dee nodded up to the display cabinet above the bar. “Still got Beryl then?” she stated. Oscar looked around and chuckled, reminiscing. “You know I’d never get rid of her. ‘Sides when I’m gone it goes back to family.” Inside the display case was a gun. It was a special gun and had belonged to her mother – and just like her mother, it was part of dockyard legend. She reminded herself to bring Matty here and tell him of his grandmother, just like she had done with Jayne, although he had been much younger then. She had done it when he had been sent home from school again, for fighting. When he had said it was because they kept making fun of him for having a girl’s name, she had brought him here. Bought him his first beer, though he was only nine or ten, and told him about his grandmother Jayne, who he had been named after. It did not stop the fights, but he walked taller after that. Dee brought herself back to the present and realised that Oscar had also been reminiscing about her mother. She smiled and interrupted him. “Came down to find out something and thought you’d be the best person to ask.” Oscar’s thin eyebrow’s raised, the wisp practically the only visible bit of hair left on him. “Anything, you know that,” he stated and then moved behind the bar again to make coffee. Despite always smelling of alcohol, Oscar never drank, not since Dee’s Ma had put him on cold turkey all those years ago and straightened him out. Dee ran her hand over the well polished wood – it really had been a long time since she had been back to the docks. “Do you know anything about Pye Eatings?” Oscar looked up, surprised at the unusual question. “Why, yes. I always eat there when they come to the docks. Mighty tasty cheap food – don’t serve any protein zao gao. They ain’t bin for a while though. Why’d you ask?” “Jayne knows ‘em – mentioned them in his latest letter.” “Boy ain’t got himself shot yet then?” Dee laughed, but could not help feel a little guilty that she had not kept in touch with Oscar more. “Oh, I’m sure he’s gettin’ himself shot, jus’ not tellin’ me. Seems he’s met a girl an’ she works on one of them Pye Eatings ships.” “There’s only one of ‘em now – the Rosalyn.” “That’s the one. They due here again, do you know?” Oscar shrugged. “No one knows, that’s the problem. But as soon as they land the word gets around the docks quicker ’an lightnin’.” Dee took the cup of coffee that Oscar had made and sipped it. It was strong enough to walk out the bar on its own, but tasted good. “Send word to me when they next arrive.” Oscar looked at Dee, raising an eyebrow again. “You wanna see if she meets with the Cobb approval?” Dee sniffed in amusement. “Well he’s bin away from home for near twenty years an’ he never got to mentionin’ any girl before – I’d just like to see what’s so special ‘bout her.” She did not tell him the other reason, that this girl was possibly the closest link she had with Jayne in many years. They continued to talk about old times and family. As a young woman Dee had always wondered why Oscar never married, as he had been real swai, but she realised that there was only one woman in his life and that had been her mother. No other candle ever came close to burning so brightly for him. There had been a lot of men like him, but Oscar was the one she had left the bar to. In another life, they probably would have married - to all intents and purposes he could be her father - but her mother had pulled him out of the gutter a few years after she was born. Dee chuckled to herself, the feisty old woman had never got to mentioning who her father really was. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Dee walked up the ramp of the ship. It had been about two months since she had been to see Oscar and he had finally sent word that the Rosalyn had docked. There were crowds of people waiting to be served, as well as many sitting down at the benches already eating. She stood up on her toes to try and see the food counters and the people at them. Above each counter was a sign indicating the dishes available and the specials. There was only one woman serving food, although she had briefly spied another woman and a baby up on the balcony. As she moved into the queue of that counter, she studied her when her view was not blocked by bodies. She was tall, but no giant, and her head was wrapped in a turban of cloth. She looked very ordinary in fact and was certainly nothing like the dizzy harlot she had managed to prevent her son marrying at seventeen. Esper was enjoying herself as usual. Her job now was nothing like her previous waitress work on dives like Whittier. Here she was part of something bigger; the more food she sold, the more profit they all got at the end of it. She glanced around quickly for Abe and noticed he had still not surfaced from the engine room. He loved it there, even strung himself up a hammock like Kaylee’s on Serenity. He barely used the bunk room to sleep in now, just to socialise in. She was glad he was so contented, as it had been many years since she had seen him like that. There was an endless queue of people still to serve and she bought her mind back to the task at hand. “You’re not what I expected, my dear,” said the woman in front of her. Esper blinked and took notice. “Excuse me?” she said a little apprehensively. Dee Cobb smiled at the woman’s confusion. “I never thought it likely that my son would fall for someone sensible.” Esper opened her mouth and looked around the cargo bay fearfully. “I’m sorry, you must have me confused with someone else. I’m already spoken for – I’m afraid I don’t know your son.” Dee chuckled. “My name’s Dee Cobb,” she explained. Esper dropped the bowl she had been filling with food. “You’re Jayne’s ma?” she said incredulously, and Dee nodded. “How – how did you know about me?” “He wrote me ‘bout you. Said you were workin’ on a Pye Eatings. I dint figure it to be the woman with the baby – least I hoped not, an’ you’re the only other woman here.” “Everything alright?” said Anna, always on the lookout for potential problems, dashing around the place like she was on wheels. “Er, yes, fine. Anna, this is Jayne’s mother.” Anna’s gaze swivelled to Dee and her face brightened. As Anna welcomed Dee, Esper had time to collect herself by tidying up the mess she had made with the spilled food. “…a right rogue your son, but since he met this one here, well, he’s off the market,” she chuckled. “Anna!” said Esper blushing profusely. Anna, as usual, was not deterred. She shoved Rosie into the arms of her passing husband and budged Esper away from the counter to take over. “Go on, you’re off duty now,” she grinned at Esper’s wide gaze. “But –“ she started. Dee could not stop laughing. “Come on, my dear, let’s go over here and have a chat,” she said, taking Esper’s hand. In the time it took for them to walk to an empty part of bench and table, Anna had arranged for cider and food for them both, which was served by Maloranty, who disappeared just as quickly. Esper could not eat and sat twisting her necklace nervously. She wished Abe would arrive, although she was not sure what he could do. “I must apologise to you, I don’t even know your name?” “Esper – Esperanza Pedrosa,” she stuttered. “What a lovely name. My son wrote me ‘bout you, but never got to sayin’ your name.” She watched as Esper’s shoulders untense a little. “How long are you here?” “Another two days and then we’re off into the Black again.” “Will you be seein’ Jayne? I’d be obliged if you’d take a letter from us.” Esper smiled happily and Dee could see one of the reasons why her son might be smitten. “Of course. It’ll be an honour. I hope we’ll be meetin’ up soon, as we dint have the chance at Christmas.” “I ain’t seen him for so long, I bet he’s grown some from the seventeen year old I kicked onto a space transport.” “The Pyes have some captures of him, from a party they had a few years ago, when Bane joined Serenity. But, oh maybe not,” said Esper, remembering that they were mainly captures of Jayne fondling Bane’s cousin, and realised that it was probably not a good idea to show them to his mother. She flushed, but could not think how to retract the offer. “Let me guess,” said Dee sympathetically, “He’s not behavin’ himself?” Esper warmed to Jayne’s mother and grinned. “He – er – no, but you’d be able to see him.” Just as well they weren’t the ones of him pole dancing at Simon’s bachelor party, she thought. “I’d like that. Don’t worry,” she patted Esper’s hand, “I can’t be shocked by his behaviour – I already stopped him from gettin’ hitched by shotgun after he slept with the wrong girl.” “The - what?” “He’s not told you about that?” “No. A shotgun wedding, you say?” Dee took a sip of cider and told Esper the story. “At seventeen, Jayne got involved with a girl who lived down the street. He said he was in love with her and, even though I told him she was trouble, the fool slept with her only to wake up and find himself looking into the business end of her Daddy’s shotgun. He tried to jump out of the window, but her Daddy knocked him senseless and he found himself at the church afore he could work out what to do. The family sent us word demanding our presence in the church an’ I managed to persuade them to let me speak to him alone. I gave him money an’ told him to hide out in the docks and get on the nearest space-bound transport – and told him to watch out who he went kissin’ next time. I waited long enough for him to get away out the window an’ then went back to tell the preacher that there weren’t gonna be any weddin’. Was a mighty hoo-ha I can tell you, but by then he was long gone, so there was nothin’ they could do about it.” “That’s where he got the kissing rule,” laughed Esper, “He told me that he broke the rules when he met me; no kissing and no vir-“ Esper stopped herself, realising who she was talking to. It was Dee’s turn to look stunned. “You mean he took me literally? Dumb boy – I was only joking.” The two women laughed, and Esper told his mother what he was like now and how she had met him. Abe came up and placed his hand on his daughter’s shoulder. “Everythin’ alright, Esper? Anna said you were off duty.” Esper looked up at him smiling. “Father, this is Jayne’s ma.” Abe’s faced cracked into welcome and he shook her hand warmly. “That’s a fine boy you’ve raised there, Mrs Cobb.” Dee felt real proud that her son was so well thought of, as he had always been a bit of a loner as a boy. Anna called Esper over and Abe took her place on the bench. There was a lot of business and much as Anna would have liked to leave Esper talking to Jayne’s mother, there was too much to do. Dee watched her go and Abe followed her gaze. “She loves him very much, you know,” he stated. “I can tell, although she tries to hide it.” “That’s partly my fault,” defended Abe. “But I can assure you Jayne is just as much in love with her, as she is with him.” “It seemed to happen ever so fast. The letter I got from him was only dated last September.” Dee was studying Esper at a distance, still wondering why her son had picked her out of all the women he could have had. Abe smiled. “You know what the folks on Serenity nicknamed her?” Abe saw her puzzlement, and Dee looked back at him. “Rapunzel. First time Jayne saw her with her hair down you could have shot him and he would’ve thought it a mosquito bite. Fact it happened pretty much like that.” Dee waited for him to explain and Abram told him the story of their time on Serenity. There was a whole lot her son had not got to writing down in his letter. When he had finished, Dee looked back at Esper, not able to picture her shooting a man to save the life of her son, and then digging a bullet out of his side. She turned back to Abe again. “I know it’s busy now, but can I invite you both to dinner tomorrow? Will they let you have time off?” “That’s a right kind offer, Mrs Cobb. I reckon I could persuade Anna with no problem to give us the time off and I’ll leave her to tell the Captain, her husband.” ~ * ~ The door to the Cobb house was opened by Jayne’s father, giving Esper had an image of what Jayne might look like in old age, and she was not disappointed. Abe shook his hand warmly, handing over a bottle of New Canaan brandy that Maloranty had insisted he take with him. Esper gave Jayne’s father a warm hug and Matt Cobb was in no doubt that his son had picked the right one. He stood aside so that they could enter his house. Dee introduced them to her younger son, who took one look at Esper’s hair and spent a good part of the evening dumbstruck. Dee as well, had no doubts now why her son had fallen for such a woman – she looked angelic, but more than that – she had no idea just how beautiful she was. “I brought the captures,” said Esper, “But please don’t mention to your son that I showed them to you, as I know he wouldn’t like it.” Dee held out her hand firmly and placed some of her own captures of Jayne as a child into Esper’s now empty one. “Long as you don’t mention these, we’ll be even,” she smirked. Abram looked over his daughter’s shoulder and laughed. There was Jayne leaning over a crib inspecting his new baby brother and not liking what he saw. “Can we give him back an’ get ‘nother?” a pre-teen Jayne asked the camera. Esper felt tears in her eyes from laughing too much. The Cobbs looked at the grown up Jayne, laughing and drinking and fondling a woman, all at the same time. “Never thought the boy could multitask,” Matt Cobb said, shaking his head in wonder. Matty’s eyes were wide with admiration. Jayne had always been his hero, but he could barely remember him, and now he had a face to put to all the letters they had read over the years. “Who’s the man with pink hair?” Dee asked. Esper leaned over and inspected. “That’s Karl,” she answered and then pointed at the others, “That’s Captain Reynolds, Kaylee, Zoe – Karl’s sister-in-law, that’s Bane Pye…” They were all in one of the captures as it had circled the room and Esper introduced them all. Dee recognised the names from Jayne’s letters. It was only since he had served on Serenity that he had ever mentioned other members of the crews he bunked with. Before that, they had just received one-liners about him still being alive, and sending money. “Those two look like they’re sweet on each other,” pointed Matty. Esper saw that he was indicating Bane who was painting Karl’s hair pink. He was looking up at her dreamily drunk with his leg bandaged and she had a bandage around her head. He sniggered, “Look like they’re playin’ doctor and nurse,” which earned him a clip round the ear from his mother. “They are now – together, I mean,” explained Abram, “But not then. They’d only just met then I believe.” “How long did it take them?” asked Dee, wondering if everyone on Serenity had the same quick experience as her son. Abram tried to remember what Kaylee had told him, she always talked so fast, it was easy to miss things. “I seem to remember them sayin’ it was over a year, but she spent some of it in jail and on another ship.” Abe realised that it made Bane sound like a criminal and he was about to explain further, when Jayne’s father interrupted. “We watched some of her trial – it was a bit hard to miss.” “Can I get some tattoos like hers?” Matty said, pointing again at the capture. “No!” his parents said in unison. “Jayne’s got a tattoo with your name on – or rather ‘Ma’ – on this arm,” Esper indicated where on her own arm. “Can I get one of those?” urged Matty. “No!” said Dee and Matt again. Later, Matt Cobb got out their capture maker and filmed them all, letting Abram take over so that he could be in some of the shots too. There was a shot of Matty trying to look taller and more manly, until his mother slapped him on the back of the head for stepping on her toe and he deflated like a balloon. He also got a shot of Dee and Esper in the kitchen, washing up and chatting companionably, until Dee chased him out for showing the kitchen in such a mess. When they had done Matt handed over the capture maker to Abe. “I’d be obliged if you could take this to Jayne an’ get some captures of him that we could show to company.” Dee then remembered her package and left the room. “That’ll be no problem,” said Abe, “Well gettin’ the decent ones might be, but filmin’ him won’t be a problem,” he joked. “Not sure when we’ll be back this way to return it though.” Dee shook her head. “No need to worry ‘bout that. Jus’ make sure he sends us some captures every so often with his letters.” Dee came back into the room with a small package. “Here’s the letter I mentioned and a few other things. It’s nice to know that I can be sure this’ll get to him, as the post can be real unreliable.” Esper hugged Dee Cobb. “It’s been so nice meetin’ you. I wish Jayne could be here, but he’ll appreciate the capture – I know he misses you all,” she looked directly at Dee as she said the last words. Dee swallowed her emotion and her husband’s hand came to rest comfortingly on her shoulder. She patted it and then turned to her younger son. “Matty, you walk ‘em back to the docks – make sure they get there safe. Then you come straight back,” she added sternly. “It’s alright,” assured Esper, patting her jacket, “I’ve got Ianthe.” Dee looked at her in surprise and Esper took out her gun. “Jayne named her for me.” “I know where he gets that from,” said Dee, and she looked lovingly up at her husband, “Beryl.” “Beryl?” queried Abe. Dee looked over at Matty. “I ain’t taken you there yet son, remind me to. Jayne’s granma – his namesake – had a gun called Beryl. It still hangs over the bar she used to own in the docks.” Esper and Abe’s eyes widened in the same moment. “She cleaned the docks up with it as well, in the days when it was ruled by the gangs. So bad that the Feds wouldn’t go near the place,” added Matt. Dee moved over to the mantelpiece and took down a picture, bringing it over to show her guests. “This is her with it.” Esper and Abe saw a woman that you would not mess with in daylight, let alone down a dark alley. As well as being armed to the teeth with other weaponry, she proudly cradled another gun in her arms. It was a small picture, so it was not easy to make out exactly what type of gun it was, but it looked about the same size as the one Zoe usually wore. She was standing firmly in front of the bar she owned; Jayne’s Place – written in neon pink. While she did not match her grandson in height, being a relatively short woman, the stare and stature said it all. There was only one place Jayne had inherited his don’t-mess-with-me stare and that was his grandmother.


Monday, November 12, 2007 5:39 AM


This is a repost

Wednesday, March 5, 2008 7:45 AM


Love this short fic. It's sooo Jayne

Sunday, June 29, 2008 3:09 AM


just re-read this - and enjoyed it all over again:)


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