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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. In which we meet Jolene, and learn something about the marriage customs of Ezra. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1754 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Serenity put down in her designated spot next to a fairly new Clipper, and her engines went to idling before stopping entirely. After a few moments, as the dust settled, the ramp lowered and the man and woman waiting looked up expectantly.
Matty couldn’t have grinned wider unless his head split as Jayne strode out of the Firefly. He held out a hand. “Good to see you, bro.”
Jayne just pulled his brother into a manly hug, thumping him on the back and ignoring the slight sting of the cut across his ribs. “Missed me?”
“Not that much,” Matty wheezed.
Jayne laughed. “Figured as much.” He moved back, thrusting his hands into his pants pockets. “About time, too. You and Jolene.”
“Yeah, well, thought I’d better. Seeing as I said I would.” Matty punched his brother on the shoulder. “Glad you could make it.”
“Hell, you think I’d miss out on the opportunity to make you feel uncomfortable?”
“Not too uncomfortable,” said a woman as she moved forward, linking her arm through Matty’s. “If he turns up at the wedding with a shaved head or a broken leg, I’ll know exactly where to come, Jayne Cobb.”
Matty looked at her, love showing on his face. “He wouldn’t do that.”
The younger Cobb laughed. “Jayne, you remember Jolene.”
Jayne nodded, studying her. “Been a while.”
“Longer’n that.” She smiled, letting her future brother-in-law look her up and down. The last time he’d seen her she was eight or so, so she knew she’d changed a lot in the intervening years.
“I’d’a still known ya,” he said, and it wasn't all gallantry.
She hadn’t really aged, her face as smooth and young as it had always been. Otherwise, Jolene was almost as tall as Matty, and statuesque, complementing her fiancé perfectly. She was obviously in her Sunday best, a floral sprigged dress that reached her midcalves, showing a very fine pair of ankles. Her hair, the colour of fresh-cut straw, was done up in a roll at her neck, and of such thickness that no-one was in any doubt that when it was released from its confines it would reach at least to her waist. Tiny curls had escaped in front of her ears, and the fingers on her left hand were playing with them, the only sign of nervousness she showed.
“Do I get a hug?” she asked.
Jayne glanced towards Serenity, then quickly put his arms around her, squeezing briefly before letting go.
River coughed behind him and Jayne jumped.
“Hi, sis-in-law,” Matty said, grinning.
“Brother-in-law.” River stepped forward, Caleb sitting on her hip, and smiled. “You look well.”
“Getting there,” he agreed. “That medicine your bro gave me seems to have done the trick.”
“Simon’s good for something.”
Jayne snorted with amusement, then said, “Riv, this here’s Jolene. She’s the one Matty’s gonna marry, although why she ever said yes, I’ll never know.”
Matty glared at him. “She loves me, you great oaf.”
“Less with the insults.”
“Why? Not like you don’t deserve them.”
“You want we should take this down the corral? Get it out of our system?” Jayne offered.
“You mean like last time?”
“I’ve been working out since then.”
“Not enough.” Jayne flexed his muscles, knowing the geisha t-shirt was straining across his torso.
Jolene looked between the pair of them, her gaze wary, wondering whether she should say something to stop them fighting.
“It’s all right,” River said with a sigh. “They’re not going to start hitting each other.”
“No?” Jayne asked, glaring at his brother.
There was a pause, then both Cobbs broke into laughter, hugging each other again.
Jolene narrowed her eyes at them. “You’re as bad as each other,” she noted.
“Worse,” River added.
“You said it.” Jolene looked at the little boy whose wide-eyed blue gaze was accompanied by frenzied sucking on the thumb in his mouth. “And this is?”
“Caleb. My son.” Jayne stuck his chest out proudly.
“Looks just like you. ‘Cept you got a few more teeth.”
Matty chuckled. “Last time I saw him, he was just a very big bump.” He glanced at River’s svelte figure. “Looks like you’re back in shape, though.”
“My Jayne keeps me on my toes,” the young woman said, reaching up and putting a soft kiss on her husband’s cheek.
Jolene smiled. “And is this all o’ you? Only Matty said –”
“Nope, there’s a load more.” Jayne nodded back over his shoulder. “They’re being polite and givin’ us a little time to be family.”
“Not that polite,” Matty observed, seeing Mal stalking down the ramp, his thumbs hooked into his gunbelt, the others following on behind.
“Yeah, well, they never had much in the way of manners,” Jayne observed.
“Jayne, septic vat ain't been done in a while,” Mal pointed out, joining the small group. “And I gather this lovely young lady is the bride?” He smiled at her, noting the faint pink blush that ran across her freckle-sprinkled cheeks.
“I bet you’re Captain Reynolds,” Jolene said, laughing. “Matty said you had the gift of the gab.” They shook hands. “And it’s been a while since I was a young lady. ‘Specially since I figure we’re about the same age.”
“Please don’t encourage him,” Freya said, moving closer. “He can be difficult enough to live with as it is.” She smiled. “And you’re right. This is Mal, and I'm Freya.”
“No, now. You call me by my first name, or I might just take offence.”
“And you don’t want that,” Jayne put in. “You think Mal’s mean …” He winced as Freya hit him on the pad of his bicep.
“Uncle Matty!” Bethie ran out of the Firefly, Fiddler bouncing around her feet.
Matty scooped her up, planting a big kiss on her cheek. “Hiya, Bethie. How’re you doing?”
“Shiny!” She giggled. “Is there going to be a party?”
He put her back on her feet. “Well, as it happens, yes there is.”
“Good.” She grinned and turned to Kaylee. “Momma, I need a new dress.”
Jolene looked from one to the other until Freya decided enough was enough and made the rest of the introductions, leaving the children until last. She pointed to the small group standing together. “That’s Ethan and Jesse, they’re mine and Mal’s. The little blonde sweetie is Hope, she’s Simon and Kaylee’s like Bethie here, and that one holding her hand is Ben, he’s Zoe and Hank’s.” She smiled. “Don’t worry, you’ll get to know who we all are eventually.”
“Oh, I feel like I do anyway, with what Matty’s told me.” She chuckled. “There’s so many of you. Do you all get on?”
Bethie made a face, and surreptitiously stuck her tongue out at Ethan, who did the same back.
“Mostly,” Freya sighed.
“Little birdies in their nests …”Jolene murmured, then looked surprised when Bethie fixed her with her gaze.
“What does that mean?” she asked.
“It’s an old saying,” Jolene explained. “Little birdies in their nests agree. It’s something about if they don’t they toss each other out, and fall to the ground, and since they can’t get back into the nest, they die.” She shrugged. “My own Momma had a whole host of mottos like that.”
“Oh.” She absorbed the information.
Mal couldn’t help his lips twitching. “You know,” he said to Jolene, “You and my wife here are going to get on like a house on fire.” Then he winced as Freya trod accidentally on his foot.
Hank made sure Serenity was locked up tight, then followed the others on towards the house. They had to walk past the cemetery on their way, and Jayne looked over wistfully as they ambled along.
“You can go and see her,” River said softly, her small hand engulfed in his.
“Never intended any different.” Jayne spoke quietly in return. “It’s just … all that time, not seeing her, not being able to tell her how I felt about her, losing out on so much …”
She squeezed. “You did see her. Spoke to her. She watched you get married. Knew about Caleb.” She half leaned into him, their son on her hip the other side. “She was happy, Jayne.”
“I just wish –“
He glanced down at her, then had to smile. “Yeah. Maybe you’re right.”
“Of course I am.” When am I not? she added into his brain, and he growled a chuckle.
Matty and Jolene led them to a street just a little further on, where they stopped outside an unfamiliar house.
“Hey, ain't you living at home?” Jayne called.
Matty grinned, looking down at his boots. “Well, I am, but seeing as Jolene’s was bigger, and she’s got two kids already and they need to have their own rooms, we kinda felt …”
“You living in sin?”
Mal sighed. “Ignore him. He ain’t been right since he became a Pa.”
“And where are they?” Freya asked, her face open and smiling. “Your children, I mean.”
Jolene opened the door and ushered them all inside. “At school, of course.”
Jayne screwed his face up. “What day is it?”
She looked at him oddly. “Thursday.”
“Right.” He grinned, and everyone could see what he might have been like if he hadn’t become a mercenary. “It ain't surprising, Jolene. Up in the black there’s not much call to keep track of days. I'm lucky if I can remember what month it is.”
“And usually not even that,” Hank added.
Jayne considered hitting him, just for the look of things, then just nodded and said, “True.”
Only River was still in the open, and she was staring out into the desert, towards the low hills that edged the world, wondering why she was feeling unsettled. Then …
“Mama!” Caleb took all her attention with that one word, wiping a soggy digit down her cheek.
She flashed him a blissful smile and he chattered to her in his nonsense language.
“Moonbrain, you comin’ in?” Jayne stood in the doorway.
She let the worry slip away and followed her husband.
Matty was waiting by a table set with a variety of cakes and sandwiches. “I hope you’re hungry.”
“Yum,” Bethie said, and the other children echoed her.
“Good,” Jolene smiled. “Then dig in.”
“You really shouldn’t say that where our kids are concerned,” Zoe said, laughing gently as her son led the way to the table, clambering onto a chair and picking up a handful of goodies. “One at a time,” she advised, taking his swag from him and putting it on a plate.
“Sorry, Momma,” he said, climbing down carefully and sitting on the floor before starting to eat.
“They’re just children,” Jolene said. “And I don’t mind. Mine are twelve and fourteen, and they act like they’re so grown up, so it‘s nice to have youngsters around the house again.”
“Good job you do.” Mal shook his head slightly. “I think we’d better wait. Don’t wanna get trampled in the rush.”
Hope giggled, hiding her mouth behind her hands at her funny Uncle Mal, then went and sat down next to Ben with a selection Simon got for her.
Jolene watched them. “They always like that?”
Kaylee nodded. “Ever since they were babies. Always holding hands and such.”
“And you?” The older woman nodded down. “How far along?”
“Is it going easy?”
“Wish it were.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
Kaylee smiled. “Be worth it, though. Three months and it’ll all be over bar the shouting, the midnight feeds and diaper changing.”
Simon moved closer. “Talking of which … well, the sickness anyway … is there a decent dispensary in town?”
Jolene shrugged. “Not so’s you’d notice. Gilford’s got most of what people need, but for anything else you really have to wait for the medship that comes once a month.”
“Alliance?” Mal asked, his shoulders tightening.
“Them and Blue Sun. Not that they do much good.” Matty shook his head. “They charge you an arm and a leg, then their medicines don’t work. How they justify doing what they do, taking good money from folks that don’t have any, I don’t know.”
It was obviously an old argument, and Jolene put her hand on his arm. “But you’re better now.”
“And if I didn’t work for Jason I’d be back down those mines.”
“Matty.” Just the one word, but there was a wealth of love and understanding in it, as well as an unspoken plea to let it drop.
“You working for at Gilford’s now?” Jayne asked, easing the tension, whether he intended to or not.
“Yeah. Well, Jason’s not been so good since Ma died, so when he needed some help in the store I said I’d do it. And seeing as I am a lot better, seemed like the best thing to do.”
“Would it help if I took a look at him?” Simon offered.
“Sure couldn’t hurt.”
“I’ll need to get my things from the ship.” He started for the door, but one raised eyebrow from Kaylee stopped him. “Later,” he added quickly, earning an approving smile from his wife.
“So,” Mal said, rubbing his hands together and attempting to lighten things more. “What are the plans for this here shindig of a wedding?”
“Uncle Matty said a party?” Bethie asked hopefully around a cream puff.
“Sweetie, don’t talk with your mouth full,” her father chastised lightly.
“Sorry Daddy.” She wiped the crumbs off her top.
Matty grinned, then stood a little taller. “Well, the ceremony itself is on the nineteenth, like I told Jayne, and that’s the weekend after this, but there’s more stuff before that. We’ve got a lot of traditions on Ezra, and Jolene here is anxious to make sure we stick to every one.”
“Already hen-pecked?” Jayne joked.
Matty ignored him. “This Sunday coming there’s the big party, kind of a pre-wedding reception, when everyone turns up and gives their gifts.”
Hank stirred. “We gotta give presents?”
Bethie bounced a little.
“It’s traditional,” Freya explained.
“I don’t recall getting anything when I got married.” He crossed his arms.
“You got me,” Zoe murmured.
“Oh.” He grinned. “Right.”
“Anyway, it ain’t obligatory, and I ain't holding it against anyone that doesn’t,” Matty continued.
“Do I get something?” Bethie asked, tugging on her mother’s dress, leaving a smear of cream.
“Hush,” Kaylee said, feeling her stomach doing somersaults again at the smell of the food. “And no, you don’t.”
The little girl looked so disappointed Matty went down onto his heels in front of her. “Well, now, that’s maybe not quite right. Are you going to be one of Jolene’s bridesmaids?”
Bethie’s eyes opened wide. “Can I? I'm good at that.”
“Katie, Jolene’s daughter, is gonna be maid of honour, but then I get to choose. And I choose you.”
“Thank you!” Bethie was now so pleased she could hardly contain herself, shining like the sun.
“And maybe the bridesmaid’ll get a present of her very own.”
If anything Bethie’s chest swelled even more.
“How come she always gets to do stuff?” Ethan was glaring at his almost-sister.
“You want to be a bridesmaid?” Freya asked, pushing his hair out of his face.
“No, but … it’s not fair.”
“I'm sure, if you want, Matty will let you be a page boy.”
“Does that mean I’d have to dress up all fancy?” Ethan asked, doing a more than creditable impression of his father.
“Well …” It was clear he was trying to decide.
“Of course, if you’re a good boy I might be able to find something a young man wants.” She leaned down to whisper in his ear. “Only don’t tell anyone else.”
He grinned at her.
“Anyway,” Matty went on, “First of all on Friday, that’s tomorrow, Jolene has to move out of the house, so she’s going to get settled into the old place with her female relatives –“
“Only I ain't got any still living, apart from Katie, so I’m hoping maybe some of you ladies will come with me,” Jolene interrupted. “Even if it’s only for the first night.”
Kaylee nodded happily. “Do we get to sit around and you tell stories about when Jayne was young?”
“Something like that. Not that I know many, seeing as I was pretty young myself when he left, but I’m sure we can make some up.”
“We’re not relatives,” Zoe pointed out.
“Yeah, but Matty keeps saying you all think of yourselves as family, and since Jayne is about to become my brother-in-law, I think that about qualifies.” She smiled hopefully. “You will, won’t you?”
“We’d be delighted,” Freya said.
Jolene breathed a sigh of relief. “Good. I mean, I got a couple of my girl friends coming, but that’d just be us sitting around talking about what we always talk about. At least with you there I might hear something else other than Deirdra going on about her husband’s philandering, and Carmen's lack of the same.”
Matty put his arm around her. “I think it’s meant to prove the bride’s a virgin, but since that pretty much isn’t the case nowadays it’s … well, you know. But it‘s traditional.”
Everyone nodded, even Mal, who didn’t have much truck with traditions on a good day.
“Just so long as you don’t think you’re going to be talking about me,” Jayne added.
“Or any of us,” Simon put in.
“What, you don’t want us to tell Jolene about your experience with those handcuffs Kaylee bought?” Zoe asked, straight-faced.
Simon’s reply was drier than the desert outside even as his cheeks burned with a pale fire in remembrance. “I’d rather you didn’t.”
“So where’ll you be?” Kaylee asked Matty, swallowing to try and keep the nausea under control. “I mean, if Jolene’s moving to your place …”
“I’ll be staying in a room over the store. Just so’s we can say we spent this next week apart.”
“Not in here?”
“Ah, no, that’d be wrong. See, when we leave the wedding and come here, it has to be like we’re moving in together for the first time.” He shrugged.
“Tradition?” Mal asked.
“Yeah.” Matty laughed. “Believe me, trying to keep track of all these damn things can be pretty hard.”
“Matty. Language.” Jolene frowned at him then glanced at the children.
“I wouldn’t worry too much.” Mal smiled. “They’ve heard worse.”
“Daddy burned his fingers last week,” Ben said, his little voice piping up. “He said -”
Hank coughed loudly then asked quickly, “What about the stag party?” He leaned over his rather too accurate son and snagged one of the sandwiches.
Matty shook his head firmly. “Nope. Not having one of them.”
“But it’s traditional. And if we’re really going down the whole tradition route …”
“If the man doesn’t want one, he doesn’t have to have one,” Mal said, gathering a sedate plateful of food and passing it to Freya.
“Hank’s right,” Jayne said.
“I am?” The pilot looked astonished.
“He is?” Mal was almost as surprised.
“Sure. I know Matty’s worried about being left naked somewhere tied to a …” He stopped and changed what he was about to say. “To a tree someplace, but I wouldn’t do that. But we gotta at least go out and get drunk.” He patted his brother so hard on the back he nearly fell over. “It’s traditional.”
Matty eased his shoulders and looked into Jayne’s face, at the familiar eyes, and the all too roguish look, and remembered back when he was young, and the things their mother never knew about. “Oh, God,” he murmured.
to be continued
Saturday, January 10, 2009 10:26 AM
Saturday, January 10, 2009 3:02 PM
Saturday, January 10, 2009 6:01 PM
Saturday, January 10, 2009 8:22 PM
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