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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Jayne talks about Indigo, and Mal makes a decision. NEW CHAPTER (please forgive the delay in my posting - real life and all that ...)
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1609 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Indigo MacCready. Nobody knew if Indigo was his real name, or just something somebody on some moon had christened him with because of the number and variety of his tattoos, but that’s what everyone called him, from the women in his bed to the men at the end of his guns. He wore two pistols, slung low on his hips, the leather of the holsters slightly greasy from constant use. He never told anyone when he was born, but he looked the kind of man who’d reached his forties and just stayed there. He could have been sixty, and nobody could tell the difference, although it was probably nearer to the latter since Jayne had met him more than nearly thirty years before.
The ex-mercenary settled back in his chair at the table, and sighed. “Like I said, he was the man who taught me how not to get dead. Which wasn’t easy. There’re times I think I was greener than the doc here when I left Ezra, working my passage on anything that’d have me, doing pretty much anything, including cleaning the bilges on a regular basis.”
Simon didn’t bother to complain – it wasn't like Jayne was being deliberately insulting, just giving in to the habit. Still, the look on his face was slightly pained, although that eased when Kaylee slipped her hand into his.
“So you weren’t a gunhand in the beginning,” Zoe said slowly.
“Nah. I was hardly old enough to shave, let alone be taken seriously. It took a year or two before I filled out to match my height, and I was nineteen before I actually worked as a merc.” He shook his head. “Nearly didn’t make it to twenty,” he admitted. “Blind luck … and Indigo.”
“How?” Mal asked.
“You mean how’d I meet him?” Jayne actually smiled. “We was on the wrong side of each other, and his partner at the time was all for killing me, just to make a point. Indigo persuaded him not to, saying it was pro-fessional courtesy. Anyway, they got the loot, I got tossed, and was down to my uppers when Indigo walked back into the saloon I was drowning my sorrows in.” He paused a moment. “I don’t really remember what he said, but it was something about seeing himself in me, and as he’d saved my life it was his to do with what he wanted, so it was only fitting he keep me alive, at least for a little while.”
“He sounds … magnanimous,” Simon murmured.
“Not sure about that,” Jayne admitted, “but he taught me everything he knew, and then some.”
“That’s pretty much what I meant.”
“Oh. Then, yeah. What you said.”
River, next to him at the table, stroked his thigh calmingly.
“What do you think happened to him, Jayne?” Kaylee asked, her warm heart breaking a little for her friend.
“Truth is, I ain’t got an idea.” The big man’s lips tightened. “He shot better’n me. Taught me how to use any weapon, but he was always better. Not that I grudged it. He’d had longer in the ‘verse than I had, and I was getting good. But I always knew he’d be one step in front’a me.” He shrugged. “Can’t see how anyone got the drop on him.”
“Shot in the back …” Hank muttered.
“Yeah. That’d be about the only way. Hafta be some kinda coward to do that.”
“And you want to go find out.” Mal might not be psychic, but he knew how to read people otherwise.
Jayne looked at his captain. “Ain’t far. Just on Ithaca. If you don’t wanna go there, let me borrow the shuttle. I’ll go check it out, and you can pick me up on the way back.”
“You do know we’ve got a job, and it’s possible we’re gonna need your particular skills.”
“Mal, the only reason I’m here is ‘cause of this man. You know what I mean.”
Mal did, and for good reason. He didn’t speak about the war, but there’d been someone like that in his own past. He glanced at Freya, who gazed back. Ai ren? he thought carefully. Is it what I think it is?
She nodded, barely a movement of her head. Closure. And retribution.
Figured as much. Mal turned back to his gunhand. “Jayne, I ain’t letting you take the shuttle.”
“Aw, but Mal –“
“Because I ain’t letting you go there alone.”
For a moment Jayne looked confused, then it cleared from his brow like a storm disappearing over the horizon. “You’re coming with me?”
“Job’s on Jubilee, and Frey’s intimidating nature got us a month to do it. And if memory serves Ithaca’s in that general direction, if a mite closer. So I reckon we can take us a few days, just so’s you can pay your respects.”
“It wasn't my respects I was thinking of,” Jayne said.
Freya leaned forward, her hands clasped lightly on top of the old wood. “We know what you want. And understand. We’re just going along to make sure you don’t get put in beside your friend.”
Jayne felt River’s fingers squeezing his thigh. “Not intending that.”
“Then we’ll be there for moral support only.” Freya half-smiled. “You’re family.”
“Yeah.” It showed the measure of his trepidation that he didn’t disagree. “Then I guess it’d be okay.”
Mal cleared his throat. “And on that fulsome acceptance …” He looked at Hank. “Get us a course laid in, and work out how long we can spend on Ithaca. As much as Bigsby is a pain in the pigu we shouldn’t be late if we can help it.”
“On it,” Hank said, standing and picking up his forgotten breakfast plate. “Not sure I’m hungry now, anyway.”
“Thanks, Mal,” Jayne said, relaxing a little.
Simon collected his and Kaylee’s bowls and followed the pilot around the counter towards the sink. “You know, I think that’s the most I’ve ever heard Jayne speak,” he said quietly to Hank.
“I know. Scary.”
“But not as scary as me,” River whispered in their ears, making them both jump.
“My Jayne needs this.” Her voice was quiet, firm. “And I want you to be there to support him.”
Simon looked into his sister’s eyes. “We will be. But if he’s going there to kill someone …”
“It may not come to that.”
“This is Jayne we’re talking about,” Hank pointed out, then winced as a slender, hard finger poked him in the chest.
“Then we will make sure he comes home.”
“Uh … sure, River.”
“Then that’s fine.” She smiled brightly and walked away.
Simon watched her go back to her husband, sliding into the seat next to him and leaning against his bulk.
Hank blew out a long breath. “Sometimes, doc …”
“I know what you mean.” Simon shook his head and wondered what his sister wasn’t telling them.
Freya looked up from her writing as she concocted yet another lesson plan (that she hoped would be interesting, entertaining and relevant) to see Ethan standing in the doorway to the kitchen. “Hey, sweetie.”
“Can I … ask something?”
She smiled. “Well, I didn’t think you’d come for extra classes.” She held out her arms and he ran forward, jumping into her lap. Ruffling his hair she asked, “What is it?”
“Ah.” She’d known this was coming. The whole discussion at breakfast had been in front of the children, and while they’d kept unnaturally quiet it was obvious they’d been taking it all in. “Are you spokesperson?” she asked gently.
His little face screwed up thoughtfully. “No?”
“I mean, has everyone decided that you should come and find out what’s going on.”
“Oh. Then yes.” He shrugged. “Bethie said.”
“I thought as much.” Freya wrapped her arm around her son’s waist. “What do you think’s going on?”
Ethan pondered a moment, then said, “Uncle Jayne’s unhappy.”
“You can feel that?”
He nodded firmly. “Purple.”
“Like a muddy purple cloud around him.”
She pushed his hair from his forehead. “You often see feelings as colours?”
“Mmn.” His thumb ran along his lips but he quickly pulled it away. “Is that wrong?” he asked.
“No, of course not. As long as you remember to keep your own walls up when you’re off ship,” she reminded him.
“Yes, Mama. I do. But that man yesterday … the one who tried to stop us … the one Daddy hit …” A grin swept across his face, but was gone again quickly. “He was black. But not friendly like …” He pointed towards the bridge, towards the Black that surrounded them and kept them safe, then looked back into his mother’s eyes. “Black with red streaks.”
“He wasn’t a nice man,” she allowed, her mind giving her the somewhat satisfying image of him collapsing to the ground thanks to Mal’s ministrations. After all, the man had threatened the children.
Ethan shook his head in agreement. “No.”
“Have you seen many men like that? All red and black?”
“No.” Ethan rubbed his nose. “Not that dark.”
“If you do, you’ll tell me?”
“’S, Mama.” He shifted a little. “But Uncle Jayne …”
Freya had to smile. She wasn’t going to be able to distract him from his original purpose. “Uncle Jayne is unhappy because a friend of his has died. And he wants to know why.”
“Is he going to kill someone?” Ethan wanted to know.
This time she held the sigh inside. All of Serenity’s children knew more about the bad things in life than they should, no matter how much their parents tried to protect them, and unfortunately death was something they had first hand knowledge of.
Looking into his blue eyes, she knew honesty was the best policy. “I don’t know, Ethan,” she admitted. “He might. His friend was special to him, and what happened has hurt him.”
“Shot in the back …” Ethan had seen the green slip of paper, just like everyone else. “Bad.”
He chewed his lip thoughtfully for a moment, then said, “Do you think Uncle Jayne would like to keep Maoli for a while?” Even the big ex-mercenary had become affectionate towards the silver grey cat, although he’d never admit it.
“He might,” Freya said, having to hold back the smile. “You could ask.”
“’Kay.” He wriggled down from her lap. “He can have my ‘lligator, if he wants.”
The smile came of its own free will no matter how much she tried to stop it. “I think Maoli’s probably enough.”
“Good.” Ethan grinned then ran out of the kitchen.
For a long moment she stared after him, then turned back to her notes, looking but not seeing, her mind on something – and someone – else entirely.
The street was long, dusty, lined with saloons and stores, as far as the eye could see. Heat from the sun made things hazy, but he could feel Binky snug in the small of his back, snug inside the sheath, while Betsey rested against his hip. His fingers flexed, as if he’d forgotten something, but he shrugged and walked on down the middle of the road.
Someone called out to him, and he looked left, up towards one of the windows.
A woman leaned out, her brassy blonde hair tossed over her bare shoulders, showing more cleavage than the time of day really allowed. She beckoned, her long red fingernails looking like they were dripping blood.
He shook his head. As much as he’d have liked to stop and dally, he had somewhere to go. He strode on, seeing her shrug out of the corner of his eye.
Not that it mattered. It didn’t seem to matter how far he walked, he wasn't getting even close to the end, and the time was getting on. The sun would be starting its downward descent soon, and if he didn’t –
The gunshot was loud, the air vibrating visibly, but that was only secondary to the blow in the centre of his back which pushed him forwards. He tried to keep his balance, but his legs wouldn’t obey, and he pitched into the dirt, face down. Taking a ragged breath he could taste dust, but the overwhelming odour was of something much more familiar.
Someone grabbed him, rolled him over to stare up into the sky. A figure blocked out the light, and he had to squint to see, feeling an odd ache in the centre of his chest. He reached up and touched the striped fabric of his best shirt, his fingers coming away red. The ache grew, becoming pain, then agony, and the edges of his vision began to go dark.
The figure above him bent down, and he could finally make out the face just as he spoke.
“Things ain’t always what they seem, boy,” Indigo MacCready said, adding as a rushing sound got louder and louder, “Didn’t I reach you anything?”
Jayne woke up, the blankets pushed back, his heart pounding like a triphammer. He looked wildly around, then swallowed as he felt River shift slightly against him. In the semi-darkness he glanced down at her, her lips slightly open as she slept.
A dream. That’s all it was. Just another dream. It was that damn ticket, that’s what it was. Bringing up the past and making it hurt again. No, not hurt. But itch. Like a scab covering a healing wound. Only it never really healed.
He lay back and closed his eyes, trying to chase the cold sweat away.
Something leaped onto the bed and he sat up, his heart rate climbing again.
“S’only Maoli,” River murmured, turning over. “Likes you.”
Jayne took a deep breath and held it for as long as he could, exhaling slowly. Just like Freya had once shown him, he imagined all the tension he felt whispering away in a red haze until he felt his body relax.
The sleek grey cat walked up the blankets, her slight weight hardly making a dent, and stared at him, her emerald eyes seeming to glow in the low light. She gave a faint ‘rowr’.
He had to smile. Ethan had offered his cat to keep him company before dinner, and when they’d all retired for the night he and River had found Maoli waiting for them in the shuttle, curled on the pillow. Jayne had put the feline outside, but she’d obviously found her way back in. In fact, thinking about it, she must have been watching while he and River were ... The smile widened.
Maoli butted his hand with her head, and he absently fondled her ears, starting a purr that was, as always, far too big for the cat’s body.
Settling back, Jayne felt River roll into him, and Maoli settled down as well, tail flicking gently as her eyes closed, slipping into sleep easily to dream of chasing mice.
Jayne sighed. If only his own rest was going to be as easy to find.
to be continued
Saturday, September 25, 2010 6:27 AM
Saturday, September 25, 2010 10:39 AM
Sunday, September 26, 2010 4:01 PM
Friday, October 1, 2010 7:07 AM
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