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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Mal and Hannah talk, and Jayne works it out. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1930 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Jayne didn’t have to wait too long. As the night wore on, Lily kept glancing at him, even as he played a hand of poker with some of the other men. Not that he had to turn to see her. He’d sat with his back to the wall, and every time she looked over, she could see him smiling faintly at her. Eventually, a couple of hours past midnight, she was spooked enough.
She crossed to the counter, beckoning the barkeep. “Bill, I ain't feelin’ too well. Gonna lie down for a while. Can you make sure no-one comes back to see me?”
“Sure. You need a doc or something?”
“No. Just a sleep. Bit smoky in here tonight.”
“Yeah, guess it is.” He shrugged. “And you do looked a trifle green ‘round the gills.”
She narrowed her eyes. “I've just got a headache, okay?”
“Sure.” He went back to shining his glasses. “Just let me know when you’re open for business again.”
Lily glanced over at the big man playing cards, but for once he wasn’t taking any notice of her, intent on studying his hand instead. Hurrying to her room she quickly changed her clothes.
Jayne stretched. “And that just about does me,” he said, tossing his cards into the centre of the table. “Ain't no way I'm gonna win tonight.”
“You sure? Just one more wager?” asked the small man in the grubby derby who put the big mercenary in mind of Badger.
“You’re only saying that ‘cause you got a heap of my coin in front of you.” Jayne grinned and stood up. “’Nother time, maybe.”
“Sure. Whenever you wanna lose, come on back.”
“Oh, I’ll be sure to.” Jayne picked up his jacket and shrugged into it, hunching his shoulders down inside before heading out into the night.
Five minutes later and Lily looked out of the back door, checking all around before closing it quietly behind her. She kept to the deeper shadows, her feet silent in her soft shoes, listening all the time in case someone was following. She paused as she reached the main street, tilting her head back and forth as she almost sniffed the air before being satisfied. Crossing the road, she hurried down an alley towards the better side of town.
She was cold by the time she reached the house, slipping the key out of her pocket and letting herself in. It was only a little warmer inside, but at least she was out of the wind.
“Vance?” she called, standing at the bottom of the stairs. “You here?”
There was no response. She bit her lip, but decided there was no point going back. Opening the door into the main room, she sat herself down in the large armchair by the fireplace, tugging a throw across her lap, and settled to wait.
Opposite the house, in the deep shadows thrown by an empty building, under the swinging sign saying it was for sale, Jayne leaned back on the wall, his head drawn into his neck, his hands thrust under his armpits. There was a smile on his face that any one of Serenity’s crew would have recognised. It was the smile of a man who was content to wait for his prey to arrive, to come to him. The smile of a man who was ready to kill. So much easier than going hunting.
“The track’s clearing,” Hannah said, carrying a load of logs inside, the thin light of daybreak following her. “I think maybe tomorrow I should be able to make it to town.”
She was acting as if the previous night hadn’t happened, that he hadn’t spent nearly an hour outside on his own, while she got ready for bed. She’d only just slipped under the covers when he came back in, bringing the cold with him. As he stripped in the firelight, she could see he was shivering, and when he climbed in next to her she lay still, pretending to be asleep.
“I know you ain’t,” he said softly.
“You’re cold.” She put her hand across the bolster between them, resting it on his chest, feeling his icy skin beneath her fingertips.
“I had to think. Come to a decision.”
“And did you?”
“No.” He almost chuckled. “Got too frozen for my sorry excuse for a brain to work.”
“Well, if you come down with a fever don’t come running to me.”
“I won’t.” He lay stiff next to her, his low body temperature cooling the blankets.
“Leave it, Hannah. Just … leave it.” He sighed and rolled over, away from her. “We can talk in the morning.”
It had taken him hours to get to sleep. She knew. She hadn’t slept at all.
She’d got up even before the cracks of dawn appeared in the sky, and now she had her cheerful face on, matching her cheerful voice, chattering away as she stacked the wood, knowing he was getting dressed behind her.
“I mean, we’ve got enough dried supplies to last us a few more weeks, but some fresh vegetables would be nice. I could do a stew. Maybe make it with meat for a change, if I can get some in town –“
“Of course, I might need help with the preparation, but I know you won’t mind –“
She stopped, turning on her heels. “What?”
“I'm not staying.”
“Not …” She sat back hard onto the hearth, and he was immediately at her side, helping her to her feet.
“Here.” He guided her to a chair.
She swallowed. “Not staying.”
“No.” His blue eyes were soft, sympathetic. “But you always knew that.”
“I … I know, but … I thought …” She let the words tumble from her lips. “I love you.”
“I know.” He shook his head. “But there’s someone else.”
“Not since Ben –“
“Not you. Me.”
She sat back. “You remember?”
“No.” He took a deep breath. “I just … I know. Hannah, if there wasn't, I would’ve taken you to bed last night. Made love to you, just like I know you wanted me to. Like I wanted to. But I couldn’t.” He took a deep breath. “Somewhere out there is a woman. I don’t know who she is, or where, but I think I belong to her. And I’m not planning to be unfaithful.” He unconsciously touched the ring finger of his left hand before taking hers.
“And if your memory doesn’t come back? What then?”
His lips lifted a little. “Then I’ll travel the ‘verse until someone recognises me. Tells me who I am. Where she is.” He squeezed her fingers. “Hannah, I'm sorry.”
He went to move away but she wouldn’t let him. “What if she don’t love you? Not like I do?”
“Then at least I’ll have tried.” He pondered a moment how to explain. “Hannah, you know what it’s like. Losing someone you love. How it eats you up inside. Well, I've … felt things. Pain. Longing. And it ain't just from my side.”
“That’s crazy talk.”
He gave a small bark of laughter. “Probably. But I’ve still felt it. And if it’s her … if it’s the woman who loves me …” He smiled ruefully. “Gotta try, Hannah.”
She stood quickly, wrapping her arms around him. “I don’t want you to go.”
“I know.” He embraced her, but knew this was right. “But I have to.”
“No. Not unless you want to throw me out into the snow. But soon. Maybe when it warms a little. And definitely after you’ve told your sheriff about Kendall threatening you.”
“He didn’t –“
He pushed her back. “Yes, he did.”
She sighed. “Well, maybe he did. But telling the sheriff ain't gonna do much good. Vance and Kendall have always been in each other’s pockets, ever since they were kids. That’s how come Kendall’s got to where he is, ‘cause our own lawman looks the other way.”
His hands on her shoulders, he dipped his head to gaze into her eyes. “Then you talk to people. If they know what he’s trying to do, maybe it’ll put him off if everyone knows.”
She could get lost in those blue orbs, she decided. “How come you’re so nice, Ben?”
He laughed. “Me? I'm a mean old man, Hannah. Everyone says so.”
“I doubt that. I doubt that most sincerely.” She shook herself. “And I’ll go into town tomorrow. The track’s near clear enough. If you were with anyone, they’re bound to have left messages for you.”
“Unless they think I’m dead.”
She smiled, finally, if more than a little sadly. “Well, then, you can make their day and get resurrected.”
Sheriff Taylor Vance stood in the doorway to his living room and stared, his hand still on the light switch. “What the hell are you doing here?”
Lily sat up quickly, rubbing the sleep from her eyes and smudging her make-up. She glanced at the clock – it was nearly nine in the morning. “Where’ve you been?” she demanded.
He put his hands on his hips. “If’n it’s any of your business, talking to Kendall. He’s getting mighty annoyed at the business with Hannah Tebril, and now he says she’s gone and got herself a man out there. Threatened him with a rifle, no less.” He shucked out of his coat. “I don’t think I’m gonna be able to keep him in check much longer. He’s got it in mind to do something stupid.” He turned to glare at her. “And I'm still waiting to hear what you’re doing in my place.”
“I've got a key.” She held it up, snatching her fingers back quickly as he made a grab for it.
“That was for emergencies only,” he growled, watching as she tucked it inside her cleavage.
“Yeah, like when you want a quick roll but didn’t wanna have to get out of bed to let me in.” She almost sneered.
“Pretty much.” He didn’t care what she thought of him, since the feelings were more than reciprocal.
“’Sides, this is an emergency.”
“Somehow I doubt it.” He sighed heavily. “So? Come on then. What is it? This emergency that makes you invade my privacy, when I specifically told you not to?”
“Jayne Cobb. That man who’s been asking around. The one who figured out about Mickey.”
“You mean the reason I killed that summbitch?”
She shuddered, still remembering the sight of brains across the wall, and the smell of blood mixed with gunpowder. “Yeah.” She stepped forward. “You hafta to get rid of him.”
“Because he’s still here! Vance, he’s suspicious as hell! Keeps saying Mickey wasn't the one, or that he had a partner –“
“Partner? That cai bao zi?” He laughed. “Couldn’t find his own ass without a map, let alone someone’d work with him.”
“I don’t think you should be going around calling anyone an idiot,” Lily said scathingly. “You were the one killed Pi.”
“You on first name terms now?” Vance dropped into a chair. “He was just a hwoon dahn off some ship. No-one’s hardly noticed he’s gone.”
“And I told you you should’ve waited!”
“Since when do I take orders from you?” He rubbed the bridge of his nose. “And why do you care? You got your share.”
“Because Cobb’s still around!” She stood directly in front of him, her hands on her hips.
“Lily, you got all manner of burrs under your saddle, and it’s making me fractious. Why don’t you sit down so we can talk about this?” He reached up to touch her, but she took a step back.
“And that ain't gonna help. Vance, Cobb’s trouble. I can smell it. You killed his friend, and he ain't leaving until someone’s dead.”
Vance sat back. “Someone is. Mickey Dyle. Shot him myself. Ain't that enough?”
“Not for him.” She narrowed her eyes. “Why didn’t you leave something in his place? Just to make it look like he’d done the robbing?”
“And waste it?” Vance laughed. “No way.”
“Well that persuaded Cobb, pretty much all by itself.” She turned away from him. “And that –“ Suddenly she squealed, backing up.
“What’s got into you?” Vance asked.
“I think she’s talking about me,” Jayne said from the doorway, his gun already in his hand.
Vance jumped to his feet. “What the hell –“
Jayne dropped the gunbelt he was carrying on the table. “Just taking me a look around.” He smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “Nice place. But the locks ain’t too good.” He lifted his gun. “And don’t go trying to draw on me. I’m way too fast for ya, even if I weren't already holding a pistol on ya.”
“Do you have any idea who you’re threatening?” Vance asked, moving his hand away slightly.
“Pretty much. And from what I can see, you’re a fool, too.” Jayne nodded towards the gunbelt. “Keeping stuff like that.”
“Like what?” Vance shrugged. “Confiscated it from a feller, making a ruckus in town. Never did come to get it back.”
“You confiscate this too?” Jayne held something up, letting the grey light through the windows reflect back from its gold surface.
“What …” Lily stared.
“A wedding band,” the big man explained. “What, did you think you might wanna get married one day?”
“Put it down.”
“Nope, not planning on that.” His eyes moved quickly to Lily, who had taken a step forward. “And you just stay where you are. I can take both of you out, easy as blinkin’.” He looked back at Vance. “Trouble is, this one’s a little too recognisable. Seeing as there’s words inside.” He turned the ring. “Only maybe you hadn’t noticed.”
“Mmn.” The light caught the engraving, bringing the words into sharp relief. My Freya, my love. “Never did know he’d had it done,” Jayne added, tucking the ring into his pants pocket. “Don’t think she does, either.”
Vance licked suddenly dry lips. “She?”
“His wife. Well, his widow, to be precise.” Jayne glared. “You know. The one whose heart broke when you gave her his coat back.”
The sheriff stared at him. “All of this? You did all of this for her? You sweet on her or something?”
“She’s my friend. So was he, odd to tell. Ain't had too many of them in the past to wanna lose one.” He glanced at Lily and shook his head slightly. “You should’ve kept to whoring.”
She bridled. “What I am ain't nothing to do with you!”
“So what did you do, Lily?” he asked. “Tell the bastards you liked ‘em? Wanted to meet ‘em private? Away from everyone? Just so’s your pal here could take ‘em out?” He almost chuckled. “Known more’n one like you. And they were prettier, too.”
“Chur ni duh.”
“Not if you were the last woman in the ‘verse.”
She launched herself at him, her fingers curved into claws intent on scratching out his eyes, just as Vance drew and fired. The bullet took her in the back, throwing her into him. He pushed her away, but the sheriff had taken advantage, covering the small distance between them, and tackled the big man, knocking Betsey from his hand.
They went down to the ground wrestling, Jayne pushing Vance’s gun away from him, even as the other man pulled the trigger. The muzzle blast burned their faces and deafened them, but they didn’t stop fighting.
Jayne knew he had one chance. He rolled, taking Vance with him until the sheriff was underneath, all his considerable weight on the man. Then, surprising his opponent, he let go of the gun, and grabbed Vance’s chin, forcing it back, even as his other hand snicked down to his belt.
Vance pushed with his heels against the floor, trying to throw Jayne off just enough to get his gun back into play. Then his eyes went wide. He tried to speak, to protest, but blood bubbled from the corner of his mouth as he struggled against the agony flaring in his belly. He tried to squirm away from it, but every movement made it worse until he felt like he was on fire.
“You listening?” Jayne asked, still laying on him. “She wanted to gut you herself, only you ain't gonna live that long. So I'm doing it for her.” His hand twisted, and Vance tried to scream past the blood in his throat. “For Frey,” Jayne added. “And for the man you killed. For Mal.” He twisted again, but this time there was only gurgles. Then silence.
After a moment Jayne sat back, idly aware he was covered in blood and other bodily fluids. He looked down at the man he’d just killed, feeling little more than vague satisfaction. It wouldn’t bring Mal back, of course, but maybe Freya’d get some peace from it.
He wiped his blade on the dead man’s shirt, slipping it back into its sheath as he stood up, then he stopped, listening hard.
Someone was still breathing. Making scratching noises.
He turned, looked at Lily. Her hand was moving, her nails making tiny sounds on the floor, and there were indistinct words coming from her lips. He went down onto his haunches next to her.
“Weren't my fault,” she kept saying, her voice little more than a pained whisper. “Weren’t my fault.”
“He helped you,” Jayne said quietly. “He stopped a man beating up on you, and you still set him up.”
She hadn’t heard. “Weren't … weren't my fault,” she stammered one last time, then lay silent. Jayne closed her unseeing eyes.
Getting to his feet, he finished searching the house, finding what he wanted in the cupboard under the stairs. Five minutes later he closed the door carefully, and went back to stand in the lea of the vacant house once more. Absently stroking the leather of Mal’s gunbelt as it hung from his shoulder, his other hand was turning the gold wedding band in his pocket while he waited. It didn’t take long.
The curtain at the window downstairs caught first, then he could see tongues of flame leaping up from the kerosene he’d splashed liberally around. He only paused long enough to see it well alight, then melted into the grey day, his coat closed tightly over the evidence of the night’s activities.
to be continued
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 4:34 AM
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 4:53 AM
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 7:41 AM
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 2:33 PM
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 2:34 PM
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 4:56 PM
Friday, December 14, 2007 1:25 AM
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