BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Jericho Wells - Part IV
Sunday, May 3, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. Now the initial threat of Simon and River being exposed has passed, thoughts turn to fixing Serenity and the elections. NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1932    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

When eventually Simon and Freya strolled back, Ethan slung over the young doctor’s shoulder like a giggling sack of Gen-seed, Mal was sitting in Kaylee’s fold-out striped chair just on the ramp, legs stretched out in the sunshine slanting into the cargo bay. He looked relaxed.

“You found him, then,” he said, nodding at Ethan, as always slightly surprised by Simon’s quiet strength.

“He was halfway across town,” Freya said. “If Simon hadn’t snuck up on him from behind, I hate to think where he’d have ended up.”

“Funny Mama,” Ethan said, wriggling. Simon put the little boy down, and he bounced up to his father. “Daddy! Did I do it right?”

He lifted his son onto his lap, and grinned. “That you did. Maybe a little too right, in running quite so far, but you did good.” He mussed his son’s hair.

Ethan leaned closer, feeling sun-warmed cotton under his cheeks. “Bethie’s going to be jealous,” he said quietly, as if it was a secret.

Mal had to laugh. “I reckon she is, but you’ve got to be a gentleman and not make it worse. No crowing.”

“Not even a little bit?” His bottom lip stuck out. “She does. When she can.”

“I know, but she’s a girl. It’s allowed.”

“Why?”

Mal shrugged, very carefully not looking at his wife. “Just is. They can say ‘I told you so’, and we just have to accept it. And not say it back.”

“Do you do that with Mama?”

“I surely do.”

I’ll remember you said that, Freya’s voice blossomed in his mind. And I have witnesses.

Mal grinned up at her as Ethan rolled his eyes.

“Use words,” he said on a huge sigh.

“Now, you know that ain’t gonna happen, xiao er,” Mal said, laughing.

Another sigh, if possible even bigger than the last one. “I know.”

“Ethan, you’d better go and wash up,” his mother said, unsuccessfully trying to stop a smile of her own. “You’re bound to be all dusty. And then we’ll see if we can’t find some milk and cookies.”

“Some of Auntie Kaylee’s?” His eyes were bright, wide open.

“Possibly.”

“Yum.” He slid from Mal’s lap. “Don’t be long,” he ordered, running his thumbs behind his small set of braces before starting to climb the stairs.

“You know he’s never going to get to sleep tonight, don’t you?” Freya said quietly to Mal, who had a huge, proud smile of his own on his face. “He had far too good a time.”

“Yeah, well, good that he earns his keep.” He grunted as her foot made contact with his shin. “I only meant that he’s my son. And that’s what sons do. Help out their dads.”

“That’s what you meant, was it?”

“Kinda.” He stood up, wondering if he was going to be limping for a week. “He enjoyed it, ai ren.”

“And when he wants to come in with us tonight?” She raised her eyebrows at him. “When he’s lying awake, and becomes all fractious? And he stops you from ... sleeping?”

“I could always dope him for you,” Simon suggested.

Freya turned to stare at him, open-mouthed, then realised belatedly that he was joking. “Dr Tam, I think you’ve been spending far too long in the company of bad men.”

“I came to that conclusion about two weeks after I joined the crew.”

Mal chuckled. “As long as that.”

“Maybe I was exaggerating.” Simon glanced around the cargo bay. “By the way, where’s my wife?”

“Gone to get that part,” Mal said, pulling Freya against him and wrapping his arm around her waist. “Zoe and Hank took her off to the yard. Don’t know what they’re likely to get for her, but might be a few credits.”

“Hopefully she’s worth a bit more than that.”

“Okay. Maybe a bit.”

Freya shook her head at him. “You’re in a playful mood.”

“I figure we’ve got a bit of breathing space,” he admitted. “Still ain’t sure what we’re gonna do about these elections, but at least maybe I’ve got time to be contemplating a plan.” He looked beyond them. “Where’s Jayne and your sis?”

“River wanted to take a look around. She said she has an idea, but won’t tell me what.” He looked more resigned than concerned.

Mal, on the other hand, asked, “Should I be worried?”

“No more than usual.”

“That much. Oddly enough, my playful mood has mysteriously disappeared.”

Freya smiled.

---

“That looks like a good one,” Kaylee said, bending down as far as she could and still not managing to reach the bottom of the bin. Hank had said he had a few bits to get in town, and Zoe was waiting at the scrapyard entrance, having no interest in the innards of machinery beyond knowing it was what kept them flying, but the young mechanic was quite happy, being in her element, despite her pregnancy getting in the way.

“No, now, miss,” the owner of the scrapyard, insisted. “You shouldn’t be doing that, not in your condition.” He leaned in himself. “Which one was it? This’n?”

“Oh, no,” she said quickly, pointing. “That one.”

The owner, one Leo Gunn according to the sign outside, grunted, dropping the inferior part back and picking up the other. “Seems like you know your engines, missie.”

Kaylee grinned. “Just know a decent grav boot when I see one.” She took it from him, examining it carefully. “Though, a’course, I can tell when they ain’t been cleaned that well.” She held up a finger, now covered in grime from where she’d run it around the inside flange.

Gunn looked almost embarrassed under his weather-beaten and heavily tanned face. “Most folk can’t, truth be told. Give you a good price for it, though.”

She smiled at him. “I know what you mean. My Cap, if I ain’t talking in words of one syllable or less, he doesn’t understand an air intake from a zefron blade.”

Gunn’s forehead creased. “A what blade?”

She giggled, an infectious sound that had him feeling all kinds of warm, no matter that he was at least twice her age and she was eight months pregnant. “I just made that up. See, my Cap would’ve just nodded, and let me get on with it.”

“The way it should be,” Gunn agreed. “Now, anything else I can do you for?”

“You got any dual couplers? No point in me replacing the grav boot without doing the couplers too.”

“You got a Capisson 8 engine?”

“Nope.” Kaylee shook her head firmly, appalled that he’d even suggest such a thing. “My boat’s a Firefly, and she’s the sweetest ride from here to ... well, wherever.”

“That the one landed at the docks a coupla hours since?”

“That’s her.”

“Then I think I got what you need.” Gunn chuckled. “Guess you didn’t know it was election time, then.”

Kaylee sighed. “No. Not ‘til we landed and it was too late.”

“I always said, they need to warn folks. All it’d take is a polite mention when you call for landing instructions. But no, they don’t want to. You’d think they was getting paid for as many people possible through that election booth.” He leaned closer, and Kaylee could smell stale body odour, although whether it was from him or his ancient overalls was debatable. “Truth is, it wouldn’t surprise me if they did.”

“Don’t you vote, Mr Gunn?” She put on her brightest face.

“Not like I got any choice.” He carried the grav boot back towards his shack. “Always pick the worst, though, that’s my motto. Can’t be much shoddier’n what we get.”

“Mr Gunn, I get the feeling you ain’t from around these parts.”

“I’m not.” He grinned at her over his shoulder. “Came here on a freighter more’n thirty-five years ago. Found me a niche and decided to stay. Not like I had anything to go home to, not back on Phoros.”

She couldn’t believe her ears. “Phoros?”

“Mmn. That’s where I was born.” He stopped and turned on her, his face suspicious. “Why?”

“That’s where I’m from!” She was almost jiggling in her excitement.

“No.”

“It’s true. My dad, he’s got a place, works for the factories when there is work, or does maintenance on the ships at the dock.”

Gunn’s eyes had widened, his jaw was slack as he studied her face, searching for something. “Your dad? What’s that man’s name?”

“Frye. Edmondos Frye. Only everyone calls him –”

“Eddie.” Gunn shook his head. “I don’t believe it. You’re Eddie’s girl?”

“You know my Pa?”

“I was at his wedding, girl!” Gunn laughed. “Ellie Keller, as was. Most beautiful bride I’d ever seen. Mind, I ain’t seen that many, but that girl’d’ve made any Core dandified lady go and hide.”

“She’s still beautiful,” Kaylee avowed.

“I don’t doubt it, not if you’re anything to go by.” He watched her blush prettily. “I left just after, so I never did ... gorramit if you don’t look like your Ma. You got any brothers and sisters?”

“Four brothers, all older’n me. Ma said they kept trying until they got a girl.”

“Yeah, Eddie always said he wanted a little babe in pigtails to dangle on his knee.” Gunn chuckled. “And you’re it.”

“I’m it.” She held out her hand. “My name’s Kaylee.”

They shook, Leo Gunn holding on for longer than was really necessary. “You know, I once had an eye for your mother. Not that she ever knew. She never looked at anyone but your Pa, and I was shy in those days.”

Kaylee extricated her fingers. “I don’t think you’ve got that problem now,” she said shrewdly.

“Nope. Otherwise I’d be lonely.” He grinned again, this time showing he had less teeth than when he was a teenager.

“Kaylee?” It was Zoe, walking through the scrapyard in her normal stately fashion.

“Zoe!” Kaylee waddled towards her. “You’re never going to believe it.”

“I thought you were only going to be a few minutes,” Zoe said, shaking her head slightly. “You know what Mal will say about space monkeys if you buy more than you came for.”

“I know.” Kaylee waved away her captain’s possible objections. “It’s just ... Zoe, this is Leo Gunn. Turns out, he’s from Phoros, and he knew my folks, and was at their wedding!”

Zoe smiled slightly. “It sounds to me as if you’ve been having an interesting conversation.”

“Oh, we were.”

Zoe looked at the older man, his back bent before his time, his hair a sort of greyish blond, thinning on top. “Mr Gunn.”

He bobbed his head slightly. “Ma’am.” He smiled at her. “Your Captain’s sure got good taste when it comes to his crew. If’n you two’re anything to go by.”

“We work well together.”

“That weren’t quite ... I’m only saying that you’re the prettiest pair that’s come walking into my yard in many a long month.”

“That’s nice.”

“I don’t suppose you’d like to come out for a drink with me? Either of you?” Leo Gunn looked hopeful.

Kaylee shook her head, managing to look almost apologetic. “Not sure my husband would approve,” she said, rubbing her belly.

“What about you?” He turned to Zoe.

For a moment she wasn’t sure whether to laugh or shoot him, but since she wasn’t actually carrying a gun at that moment, she made do with a smile. “Mr Gunn, Not only would my husband not approve, neither would I.”

He chuckled. “Well, can’t fault a man for trying.” He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “Couplers are inside.”

They followed him towards a shack made out of corrugated steel panels, and as they walked Zoe asked Kaylee, keeping her voice low, “Did you get everything else you needed?”

The younger woman grinned widely. “Surely did. And a nice compliment on top.”

“Kaylee, he’s old enough to be your ... your grandfather,” Zoe pointed out.

“Oh, I know that. It’s just nice to be told I’m pretty once in a while.” She glanced down at her stomach. “’Specially when I’m looking like this.”

“You’re always beautiful. Even when you’re covered in engine grease. And I’m sure Simon tells you that all the time.”

Kaylee giggled. “He’s surely better than he used to be,” she agreed.

Gunn stopped outside the door. “I’ll just get them couplers for you, then we can discuss price,” he said, having shown no signs of having heard them. He motioned them both into his shack, following them into the slightly fuggy gloom.

“Thanks, Leo,” Kaylee said, smiling fondly at him and earning herself a huge grin.

“So,” he said, going around the other side of the counter, “you got any ideas who you’re going to be voting for?”

“Nope,” Kaylee admitted. “Not had that much of a chance to look, yet.”

“If you’re really interested, just take a look at the Cortex. There’s pretty much nothing on the local channels, ‘cept every candidate and his dog taking up time in telling us why they should be assistant district education commissioner, or some such.” Gunn spat accurately into a brass vessel by the counter. “I tell you, if I had someplace else to go, you wouldn’t see me for dust.” He started rummaging around in the crates ranged along the walls.

“They’re really hot on these elections, then?” Zoe asked.

“Oh, yeah.” His voice was muffled for a moment. “You’d think it was the be all and end all, far as they’re concerned. Damn good thing they only happen every five years, else there’d be a riot.”

“And they make sure you vote?”

He glanced at her over his shoulder. “I’ll say.” Standing up, a collection of coils in his hand, he gave a grunt of disgust. “Last election time, there was a ship, pretty much in your position, came down, didn’t know. Got to ten in the evening and they hadn’t voted. The returning officer, the mayor, and the local Alliance commander all went down there, with a dozen purp ...” He coughed, as if a particular word had caught in his throat. “A dozen good soldiers, all armed to the teeth. They got on board, frog-marched those folks down to the booth, stood over ‘em while they voted, then took ‘em all off to jail. I’ll tell you, I was kinda surprised they didn’t string ‘em up there and then. But they spent a good six months bound, and then got fined too. When they finally left, they were a lot lighter in the pocket than when they arrived.”

Kaylee glanced at Zoe. “Strict.”

Gunn nodded. “This far out, they’re about as close to being full Alliance as you can get. Can’t help but say it, young Miss Kaylee, but you didn’t exactly land on the friendliest of planets when you put down on Jericho.”

---

Jayne lounged against the tree, watching the people go by. It was quite pleasant, standing in the cool shade, soft grass under his feet, but he felt naked. He’d listened to Mal – well, mostly – and being off ship without at least one gun on his hip was making him feel vulnerable. In fact, it was only little Mandy snuggled up in the small of his back under his t-shirt that stopped him going straight back to the ship and pulling the covers over his head until they left this damn place.

Whoever heard of a place not letting a man carry his piece? Well, okay, there was Canton, on Higgins Moon, but that didn’t exactly end well. At least he had Binky with him that day. Then there was the Brothers of Adam settlement on Calliope, but they were a bunch of morons anyway. Nearly strung him up for something he didn’t do. Mind, if they’d known what he had done, they really would have hung him. Then cut him down afore he was dead to hang him again.

He grinned slightly. See, it really never did do well not carrying some kind of firearm.

Or grenades.

“I have mine,” River said, having ghosted up behind him and now whispering in his ear. “Not grenades, but …”

“You know, technically, I prob’ly shouldn’t’ve let you off the ship,” he said quietly as she moved around him until she stood with her spine pressed against his chest. “Seeing as you’re a weapon entire and whole.”

“Your weapon,” she murmured, leaning on him.

He groaned slightly. “Girl, you keep doing that, and I ain’t gonna be trusting to my actions.”

She smiled and moved forward, just enough. “Can’t have that.”

Just enough was too much, he decided, wrapping his muscled arm around her waist and pulling her back against him. That was better.

Sometimes he wondered what his life would be like without this slip of a woman he’d married, after she’d chased him halfway across the ‘verse, it seemed, but every time the answer was the same – poorer. Not in money, but just ‘cause she seemed to make him complete. And it wasn’t because she had her gun in a thigh holster under that pretty dress of hers, either. “So, you seen enough?”

She nodded, her cheeks just tinted with warmth as she read his feelings as if they were written on the sky in letters of flame. “I have.”

“You come up with anything?”

“Perhaps.” She gazed up at the tall building in front of them, a large banner strung across the third floor windows stating ‘Jericho Wells – Election Office’.

“You wanna tell me about it?”

“When we’re all together.” Leaning against him, her brow furrowed slightly. “But I think it might work.”

to be continued

COMMENTS

Sunday, May 3, 2009 5:23 AM

AMDOBELL


Oooh, so glad River is on the problem of how to get around voting in that gorram election. I did smile at Kaylee having the junk yard owner wrapped around her little finger in a minute flat. And Ethan, yep, a big slice of his daddy right there. Another big damn hero in the making methinks. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, May 3, 2009 7:39 AM

KATESFRIEND


All kinds of different plots here - loved Ethan and Mal, but Kaylee and Gus were perfect together. I could almost see the actors playing this out. Very interesting take on the politics of the area, and really interesting to see how River is going to resolve this for them.

Sunday, May 3, 2009 10:29 AM

WAKEUPSOON


River always has a plan that'll work :) Hopefully ... Ethan did good too .. bless his little cotton socks xD
Anna.x.(:

Sunday, May 3, 2009 10:30 AM

ANGELLEMARCS


“Dr Tam, I think you’ve been spending far too long in the company of bad men.”

“I came to that conclusion about two weeks after I joined the crew.”

Mal chuckled. “As long as that.”

LMAO!!! Awesome line!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 5:36 PM

SLUMMING


Ditto! Wonderfully crafted line, delivered by Mal with just the right amount of genuine snark! :)


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“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

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He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

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“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

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“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

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This wasn’t how an ex-companion did things. Perhaps she’d been hanging around a certain Firefly captain for too long. He listened at keyholes as if it were a competitive sport.

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