BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Empty Chair
Friday, February 6, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. Standalone character piece. Our favourite ex-mercenary contemplates matters past and present. (Doing a sort of series of these things ...) ONE-OFF


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1970    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

He looked through the window into the smoky bar, the sound of the Cortex playing in the background warring with the live music coming from a piano in the far corner. Along the back wall he could see the girls, all in various states of undress. A young man, little more than a boy really, walked past them heading for the john, and they posed for him, hips stuck out, breasts thrust forward, fake smiles plastered on made-up faces. The boy dropped his head and walked faster, and the whores sagged back, murmuring desultorily between themselves.

His breath steamed up the glass, and he wiped it clean with the sleeve of his shirt.

Someone shouted, and his head whipped around to the sound, but it was just a guy on one of the gaming machines, whooping because his number had come up.

His hand pulled back from the gun at his hip, and he breathed slower.

There. There they were. Sitting in the corner around a table, chips and cards scattered on the old green felt. Four people, with maybe six and a half ears between them, thirty-eight fingers, and seven eyes. Some of the blackest, deadliest, most efficient killers this side of the Core. And he knew each and every one of ‘em.

Bill Wilson. Rumour had it he’d lost his earlobe taking on a whole barn full of wild men out on Carson’s Moon, only fact was a woman bit it off when he refused to pay one time (the warrant for her murder was still active). His little fingers had gone to frostbite, waiting for the Mackenzie brothers to show up on St Alban’s, hiding in a snowdrift. He only had seven toes for the same reason.

Boyd Burkett, on the other hand, was credited with wiping out an entire transport ship because he was paid to. Men, women, children … they were all fodder to his trusty Black and Boston handgun. The fact that he also carried a Dixon Breechloader cannon strapped to his back probably helped, and made it obvious what he was.

Lyle Haskins’ ear had gone in a firefight on a rock he couldn’t even remember the name of, when his erstwhile employers had turned on him, and he’d had to shoot his way out. He ended up with a boat that he sold, a cargo he drank, and gangrene. Not that it put him off. He cut off the remains of his ear himself, shot his arm up with a huge dose of antibiotics he’d stolen, and went back to work.

And Pearl Davidovitch. Last but definitely not least. Only everyone called her ‘Vitch’, on account of those that didn’t were lying dead in an alley someplace, their innards exposed to the fresh air. Or a word that sounded remarkably close. Her eyepatch may have concealed an empty socket, but it didn’t seem to throw off her shooting ability, while her claim to infamy was the poisoning of a town. All because someone paid her to do it.

Normally they’d be on opposite sides, shooting at each other, trying to earn that bonus for bringing one of their own in. But right now, the white flag was flying, and it was a truce. Uneasy, maybe, and not a one of ‘em had abandoned even a single weapon, but it was at least a ceasefire.

There was a spare chair pulled up, a pile of chips ready, like they were expecting someone else.

Truth was, they were. They were waiting for him.

Every year, on this same date, given that they were all still alive, they showed up here, sitting at that table, playing cards and telling of their exploits. They probably exaggerated a little, as all people in their line of work do, but not much, passing the time of day until the last of their number arrived.

He sighed, his breath misting again, and he shook his head.

“Hey, you coming?”

Jayne turned, saw Freya standing in the middle of the road, a crate of supplies in her arms. “Here. I’ll take ‘em,” he said, crossing towards her.

“I'm fine.”

“Mal’d kill me if I walked into Serenity empty-handed, and you were struggling.”

“No, he wouldn’t.”

“Well, I ain't willing to try.”

She let him take the box, her lips twitching. She looked past him towards the saloon, her eyes seeming to be able to see through the metal and board construction to the empty chair beyond. “Not going in?” she asked, refocusing on him.

He should have felt surprised that she knew, but he was more resigned. “Nah. Not thirsty.” She might be a Reader, but he wasn't going to make it easy for her.

“Thirsty. Okay.” She smiled. “You could, though. See them. Tell your tall tales. I know Mal’d wait.”

He chuckled, a sound like gravel down a headstone. “Maybe he would. Now.” He glanced over his shoulder, feeling the tug of association but not moving.

“Go if you want.”

He took a deep breath and looked back at her, into her understanding face. “Nah. Ain’t me no more, Frey. I got a wife and kid. Them in there … they ain't never gonna have that. Wouldn’t know what to do with it if they did.”

“And you do?”

“Taken me a while, but I figure maybe I do.” He grinned suddenly, mischief in his sapphire gaze. “And I ain't the only one, seeing as what you used to do.”

“I was the legitimate owner of a ship, I’ll have you know,” she responded with mock seriousness. “Anything else is pure and unsubstantiated rumour.”

“Yeah. Right.”

They shared a moment, then she asked, “Do you miss it? The chase. The excitement. The kill.”

To his credit he paused, finally admitting, “Little bit. Not being tied down. Go where I want, work for any hwoon dahn as paid me.” He stopped and looked towards the docks were Serenity was parked. “Then I think on River, and that little boy o’mine. And I reckon I got the best of the deal.”

“Jayne, I think you might’ve grown up.”

“Nah. Always be a kid.” He laughed, this time with more humour. “On that boat, I’d have to be, else I’d feel left out.” He marched forwards.

“Are you saying I'm childish?” Freya asked, her long stride catching him up easily.

“Now would I?”

“Yes.”

“Don’t hear you denying it, though, do I?”

“Jayne, you know what I said about Mal not shooting you …”

“Ow!”

“Baby.”

“That hurt!”

“It wasn’t more than a tap …”

Their voices faded away, bickering good-naturedly, while in the saloon the chair remained empty, untouched, a reminder of those few mercenaries who’d moved on.

COMMENTS

Friday, February 6, 2009 7:33 AM

FREEVERSE


Begs the question, what has Jayne done to be included in their company--and why isn't he missing any bits!? Lovely character study, and a tribute to the power River and Caleb have.
~freeverse

Friday, February 6, 2009 10:53 AM

ANGELLEMARCS


This is wonderful. I loved that you used Frey to be the one who talked it over with Jayne. I loved the moment they had and I just love the playfulness at the end. Jayne might not have grown up, but at least, he knows what's important.

Friday, February 6, 2009 12:59 PM

AMDOBELL


I loved this little snippet and how well it showcases how far Jayne has come. Life. Love. Responsibilies. Family. Doesn't get better than this. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, February 7, 2009 5:34 AM

NCBROWNCOAT


Lovely story. I love the way Jayne is reflecting on his life that was and his life now.

And I'd like to know too, why all his bits are still on his body.


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