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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Jayne renews an old acquaintance, while there are others he's less happy to see. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1661 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
The sun was higher by the time they reached the more populated area of town, but it was still at an angle where it hit the windows and made them squint.
“You know where you’re going?” Mal asked.
“Yep. Just along here.” Jayne was striding along, and anyone already about was keeping well out of his way. Suddenly he stopped, and Hank almost walked into him. “Here.”
They faced the building.
Adelaide’s. The sign above the saloon doors appeared freshly painted, but the gold lettering etched on the large windows was scratched and rubbed by countless shoulders and elbows passing by.
“This it?” Mal asked.
“Yeah.” Jayne looked up. “Maybe an extra storey’s been added, but it ain’t changed that much.”
“Piss poor beer but good company. And she always looked after her girls. Unlike some.”
“You’re talking like you know, Jayne,” Mal pointed out.
“I was around for a long time afore River even got born, Mal. And I was no nun.”
The big man grinned. “Never thought you’d use both them words in the same sentence, Mal.”
“And you won’t again.”
Jayne shrugged the water off a duck’s back, and pushed open the swing doors.
The familiar smell of any saloon anywhere outside the Core assailed their nostrils. Beer, both stale and fresh, with a spirit chaser, body odour, cheap perfume and middling aftershave, along with frying food ...
Jayne took a deep, appreciative breath. “Ah,” he exhaled on a sigh.
“How come it smells like sawdust even though there ain’t any on the floor?” Hank wanted to know, studiously keeping his eyes away from the Tall Card game set up ready in the corner.
“Fresh cut wood,” Mal supplied, memories of days back on the ranch helping the hands saw fence posts as clear and clean in his mind as the scent. “Recent building.”
Indeed, as their eyes adjusted to the slight gloom they could see a grander staircase than the place truly warranted twisting on itself and heading up towards the upper level. Padded couches at the base were conspicuously empty.
“Too early,” Jayne put in, seeing Mal’s gaze. “Business don’t get going here until after noon. They’re probably still getting their beauty sleep.”
“Or letting drops wear off,” Hank murmured, seeing a tiny hypo abandoned and thrust into the earth filling one of the huge planters dotted along the walls.
“Addie used to keep a good house.” Jayne sounded disappointed.
“It’s been a while,” Mal said. “Things have probably changed.”
“Not that much.” It was a female voice, and they all turned as one. “Jayne Cobb. As I live and breathe.”
In front of them was a woman, not more than five feet and a breath high. She was dressed in a pale green, expensively cut gown which thrust her ample chest upwards, cinched her in at the waist, and flowed over lavish hips. It stopped at her knees, showing loose satin pants brushing a pair of surprisingly comfortable looking slippers. Her hair was a dark brunette mess, piled haphazardly on top of her head, giving her an extra three or four inches.
Jayne smiled. “Addie.”
The little woman hugged him tight. “I thought you was dead.”
“Nope. Not dead.” Jayne was about as embarrassed as he ever got, and tried to extricate himself from her grasp.
Addie took the hint and stood back. “I reckon you’re not. Look healthier than the last time I saw you.”
Jayne almost squirmed. This woman had always reminded him of his mother, despite their totally different professions, and he felt like an eight year old caught out doing something he shouldn’t. “Yeah, well ... times are better.”
Mal raised an eyebrow, although this was his gunhand all over. Tough jobs and tougher times had given him a somewhat peculiar outlook on life, all too well aware it might be at the end of someone’s scope at any time. Better to be careful than call down bad luck.
Maybe that was why the big man was always amazed at his good fortune in finding River. Mind, it had taken the young psychic a long while before she’d gotten him in a position where he could catch her.
“Looks it,” Addie was saying. She eyed up the others with him. “And who are these two fine, upstanding fellers?”
“Uh, this here’s Malcolm Reynolds,” Jayne said. “He’s the cap of the boat I’m on.”
“Nice to see you don’t mind slumming it with your crew,” Addie said, her hands on her hips.
“I wouldn’t say I was slumming anything, ma’am.” Mal touched his temple in a half-salute.
“Now don’t you ‘ma’am’ me. Makes me feel like I’m old enough to be your grandma.”
“Never knew my gran,” Mal admitted. “But somehow I get the notion she was never like you.
Addie laughed, a rich sound that rolled out of her. “Got that right. Nobody else like me in the entire ‘verse.” She held out her hand. “Nice to meet you, Captain.”
She smiled. “Okay, Mal.”
Jayne cleared his throat. “And this here is Hank. He’s the pilot.”
Hank grinned. “Miss Addie.”
“Bet you’re a heartbreaker,” the saloon owner surmised, gazing into his grey eyes.
“Me? Nope. Got me a wife and son,” Hank said proudly.
“Guess that means you won’t be partaking of any of my girls?”
“No never mind. Jayne here has always had more’n his fair share of an appetite.”
Now Jayne really did look uncomfortable. “Not no more,” he muttered.
Addie’s eyebrows raised. “You? What happened? You got religion or some such?” She glanced down towards his crotch. “Or did you maybe get shot someplace unfortunate?”
Jayne resisted the urge to place his hands protectively over his groin. “No. Not that at all. It’s just ...” His face softened. “Hank ain’t the only married man on board Serenity.”
Now the woman’s jaw literally dropped. “You’re joshing me.”
“Afraid not, Miss Addie,” Mal confirmed.
“Well, that surely takes the breath away.”
“Got me a son, too. Caleb,” Jayne added, his chest expanding with pride.
“I’m beginning to think black is white and up is down.” Addie fanned herself. “You know, after that little revelation, I need me a drink.” She headed towards the bar. “Join me?”
“Bit too early in the day for me, Miss Addie,” Hank said. “Wouldn’t mind if there’s a coffee going, though.”
“No problem. Charlie!” The last was shouted.
A tall thin man with a shock of pure white hair stuck his head around a green baize door. “What?”
“There’s none on the go.”
“Then make some.”
The man scowled. “You think I’ve not got enough to do?”
“Then you stop answering back and get on with it.”
Charlie muttered something and disappeared back into his domain like a tortoise into his shell.
“If it’s a hassle, I’m fine,” Hank said.
“Not that at all. And don’t take any notice of him,” Addie said, waving away his objections. “Charlie’s always like that. I think it’s in his genes.” She smiled as she slid behind the long bar. “Jayne?”
“I’ll risk a beer.”
“Okay. But a small one. If I go back smelling of booze, my own wife is gonna have something to say.”
As she drew a jug from the pump, Addie shook her head. “So not a one of you is available. Just my luck.”
Mal chuckled. “Miss Addie, I somehow get the impression you ain’t lacking for male company.”
“Got that right.” She twinkled at him. “You carry the mugs, and we’ll go park ourselves.” She led them to the table by the stairs, settling herself into what was probably her normal seat, considering it was painted gold and had tasselled cushions. She held the jug up. “Shall I be mother?”
“Sure,” Mal said, smiling.
Addie poured three mugs. “Cheers.”
Jayne was the first to take a long pull on his, then stared. “Addie … what the hell have you done?”
Mal, expecting trouble, tensed.
Addie, on the other hand, threw her head back and laughed. “Knew you’d like it, Jayne.”
“Like it?” The big man shook his head and stared into his drink. “Addie, it’s gorram wonderful.”
Mal removed his hand from his gun and picked up his own beer. “This I have to try. Particularly considering I never thought Jayne here had any taste buds left.” He filled his mouth, letting it roll around his back teeth before swallowing. “Shit.”
“Exactly,” Jayne agreed. He looked back at Addie. “Where’d you get this nectar?”
“Brewed it myself,” the woman announced. “Got a whole load of equipment from a feller that was going out of business, and tried a few different recipes. This one was the best.”
“You don’t say.” Jayne sipped his beer again. “Damn it, Addie. This is too good for the likes of me. I just want something that’ll get me drunk in the quickest time possible. This is …” His voice faded.
“Nectar,” Mal finished.
Hank looked between the two men, wondering if maybe he had made the wrong choice.
“Well, if you want it, I think there’s still a barrel of the old stuff down in the cellar,” Addie suggested, then laughed again at the expressions on their faces. “Okay. I was thinking of pouring it down the drains anyway, ‘cept it’d probably dissolve ‘em.”
“I’m surprised it’s stayed in the barrel,” Jayne said, taking a bigger mouthful and enjoying it not burning the inside of his throat.
“Not for lack of trying. There’s been nights lately I’m sure I can hear it trying to get out.” She leaned forward, showing a lot of cleavage. “Although I’m kinda concerned you’ve showed your face around here right now.” She stopped as the doors swung open and three men entered. “Gents,” she called. “What can we do for yah? It’s a mite early if you’re looking for company.”
“Heard tell you provide a good breakfast,” one of them said, his face tanned like leather, a scar on his chin.
“That we do. Take a pew and I’ll just get ...”
At that moment Charlie reappeared through the baize door, carrying a small tray with a coffee pot, a delicate china cup and saucer, and a plate with half a dozen fancy cookies on. He placed it in front of Hank. “Here you go.”
“Thanks.” The pilot stared.
Addie flicked her fingers. “Charlie, those fellers want breakfast. Take their order.”
Addie glanced at the men. “Top.”
Charlie nodded. “Got it.” He walked towards the other table at the far side of the saloon.
“Top?” Mal inquired.
She gazed at him, her pale brown eyes considering. Then she said quietly, making sure her voice didn’t carry, “I go by what they look like. They’re strangers, but they look like they’re not without coin. They can pay top rate.”
“You don’t know ‘em?”
“Do you get many strangers in here?”
“Not really. Occasionally off the ships that land, but there’s not much to bring ‘em here. Why?”
“Nothing.” He glanced at Hank, who shook his head fractionally, confirming Mal’s thought that there hadn’t been another ship at dock when they’d landed. “Just exercising my right to be curious.” He pulled up a smile.
Hank, in the meantime, was pouring coffee into the cup and wondering if he was going to be able to handle it without dropping it. He wasn’t exactly known for his manual dexterity, at least when it wasn’t anything to do with flying. “Gorramit,” he muttered as his tried to pick it up by the handle, and had to give up. In the end he took hold of it under the rim.
Addie laughed, successfully diverted. “That’s Charlie,” she said. “Always one for manners, even when he doesn’t have any himself. Do you want him to get you a mug?”
“No, no,” Hank said quickly. “This’ll be fine.” He sipped. “And it’s damn good.” He picked up one of the biscuits, nibbling the edge.
Mal was enjoying the show, but he could see Jayne was almost vibrating with tension. “As fun as this is, it ain’t why we’re here.”
Jayne nodded tightly. “Indigo. Yeah. You bought the headstone?”
“I did,” Addie confirmed. “Couldn’t get him in the high end of the churchyard, but at least I wasn’t going to see him planted in Potter’s Field.”
“You tell me how much and I’ll pay you back.”
“No.” She shook her head firmly. “He was my friend too. It’s the least I could do for him.”
Addie didn’t speak for a moment, just sipped on her whisky. Then she took a deep breath, her breasts rising in her low cut dress. “What always happens,” she said quietly.
Jayne put his hand into his pocket and withdrew the green slip of paper, somewhat crumpled now. “This right?”
She flattened it, reading the few words. “Pretty much.”
“He’d been visiting. It was early, and he was heading back to the hotel where he had a room. Maybe he was tired, or maybe just distracted. But he ... someone shot him.”
“In the back.”
“Yeah.” Addie stared into her drink and sighed. “Yeah. It’s true. I was the first one there, found him lying in the dust, bleeding his life out. Me and Harrison. No doubt about it.”
Jayne seemed calm, somewhat too calm to Mal’s liking.
“What did the Feds say?” the ex-merc asked.
“Now you know they weren’t involved. It was never gonna happen that way. Best we could do was take him to Doc Thorson, but it was too late before we even got half way. Harrison arranged the funeral, and I paid.” She went on, “I never knew Harrison sent you that damn green slip. If I had, I’d’ve told him to tear it up, burn it, anything other than post it out. And I thought you’d have more sense.”
“Nope,” Jayne admitted. “No sense. None at all.” There was a tense silence, then Jayne spoke again. “Who was it, Addie?”
“No, Jayne. You start on this revenge thing and old Hampton’ll be digging another grave.”
“He was my friend.”
“Mine too, and I don’t intend losing another.” Her face was set, and she put her hand on top of his. “Leave it, honey.”
The big man’s fists clenched.
“Jayne,” Mal said warningly.
“It’s okay, Mal.” He consciously relaxed his hands. “I won’t be making a ruckus.” However, there was a huge, red, neon-pulsating ‘yet’ hanging above his head.
“That’s ... shiny.”
“What about his stuff?” Jayne looked back at Addie. “You got it here?”
She let go of him and sat back. “No. Mallory took it.”
“Yeah. You remember her. She was –“
“I know who she was.”
“Well, she’s got everything.”
“I told you Indigo’d been visiting.” Addie shrugged, her soft body moving quite significantly. “Well, that was with Mallory.”
“Run tse duh fuo-tzoo.” Jayne drained the rest of his mug. “Okay. Where’ll I find her?” He pushed his chair back with a squeal and stood up.
Addie leaned forward. “Don’t. You go looking for trouble and it’ll find you for sure.”
“Trouble? I was just thinking of paying my respects.”
“You know, I’m not sure how come I don’t believe you.”
“Addie, Indigo’s the only reason I didn’t get dead those first few years. I owe him.”
She gazed at him then shrugged again. “Hell, you’re gonna find out one way or another. She’s got a place outside town. Take the main road east, then there’s a turn a coupla miles along that’ll take you onto a track into the hills. It’s about three miles up that.”
“A morning stroll.”
“Best you hire some horses. It’s dry today, but the last few days it’s been raining. It’ll be like a swamp out there.”
“Shiny. And I expect I’ll be seeing you before we leave.”
“I’ll be here.”
He strode for the doors, but as he reached them they opened, two men sauntering through, and he felt his heart sink. Damn. The last people he never wanted to see again. He put his head down and went to move to one side, let them through, but the expressions on their faces suggested they recognised him as much as he did them.
“You smell something, Wes?” the shorter of the two asked, sniffing the air prominently. “Like someone’s trod in something and not wiped it off their boot?”
“Now you mention it … yeah.” The other man waved his hand in front of his face. “Sure stinks, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah. Kinda like … betrayal.”
“Jayne …” Mal said quietly, warning his mercenary.
“S’okay, Mal,” the big man said. “I ain’t afraid of ‘em.”
“That’s not exactly my worry.” Mal hooked his thumb into his gunbelt, ready for anything that might occur but attempted to defuse the situation. “Ain’t you gonna introduce us?”
“It don't make no never mind, but this here’s Brad Tanner, and his brother Wes,” Jayne growled.
“Old friends,” Wesley Tanner said, smiling. He was the younger and handsomer of the pair by far, a pretty face with deep blue, almost violet eyes, obviously happy to use it to get what he wanted.
“Not what I recall.”
“Well, well. Jayne Cobb.” Brad, on the other hand, hadn’t got any prettier. The burn on his neck never had healed properly, leaving a puckered and ugly scar. “Long time no see.”
“Seems like longer.”
“You got any warrants outstanding on you at the moment?” Wes asked.
“Not that I know of,” Jayne said, surprisingly calmly.
Mal moved his hand a little closer to his gun. This was a Jayne he knew, recognised, and violence could be very quick.
“That’s a pity. Sherriff McCoy could do with an up to his arrest rate. Seeing as it’s an election year.”
“He still in your pocket?”
Hank turned a gasp into a cough.
Wes laughed, showing even white teeth. “Are you suggesting we’ve bought the law?”
“Don’t recall me making a suggestion.”
Again the laugh, but with little honest humour in it. “And you are?” Wes asked, turning to Mal.
“Captain Reynolds. Jayne’s on my crew.”
“On purpose?” This time both Tanners chuckled.
“Yeah, well, you ever decide you want someone other than a low-down, dirty, thieving piece of goushi, you come see me,” Wes said.
Jayne lifted his head, as if scenting the wind, and his hand flexed slightly.
“If I ever decide,” Mal said quickly before the big man could say anything.
For a long moment things could have gone either way, but eventually Wesley Tanner smiled again. “Nice talking with you.”
He stepped past the trio, heading for the table in the corner and the three men who were just being served their breakfast by Charlie. “Addie,” he called towards the woman behind the bar, “we’ll be having two more platefuls.”
“Coming up,” she said, even if the look on her face was more sour than sweet.
Jayne nodded at her, then hurried outside, taking a deep breath of cool, clean air.
Mal, followed closely by Hank, joined him on the sidewalk. “Well?”
“Well ... what?”
“You wanna explain?”
“I take it you ain’t exactly welcome around here.”
“It was a long time ago. And I’d’a thought I wasn’t important enough to remember.”
“They don’t seem to feel that way.” Mal waited, his patience thinning. “Jayne, you need to tell me.”
“No. I don’t.”
Studying his ex-merc, Mal could see the determination like a red blanket around his shoulders. “Fine,” he ground out. “But you’re gonna have to at some point.”
“You didn’t have to come.”
Hank, wondering if the potential fight inside was going to turn into a real one outside, stepped off the sidewalk. “How about we get those horses?” he began to say, then had to jump back up next to them as a groundcar almost took him out. “What the hell ...?”
Mal made sure his pilot wasn’t likely to have a heart attack there and then, before saying, “Jayne?”
The big man was staring after the car, one of the new models, all gleaming black paint and polished chrome, which had stopped further along the street. “I’d hoped she was dead.”
“Who?” Mal glared at the woman being assisted from the vehicle by the driver, attired in dark blue livery, a peaked cap set firmly on his head.
“Mrs Tanner. Medea Tanner.”
“The Tanner boys’ mother.” Jayne shook his head. “Runs pretty much everything in Cason’s Point.”
Medea Tanner, looking exactly the same as he remembered. Which was a pity, because sometimes during the long nights he’d entertained himself with the notion that the old woman was long buried. When she was young she was probably something of a looker, and she still retained the upright bearing, her figure only marginally thicker. Her hair was very pale blonde, more by design than luck, and caught in an elaborate roll at the nape of her neck, while in her hands was a purse that looked to be made of rare yellow alligator skin, and therefore hideously expensive. She didn’t even glance their way as she walked elegantly into one of the row of shops.
“I take it she ain’t a friend of yours either?”
“Well, only if the last thing a friend said to me was that she was gonna have my hide stripped and hung on her fence, along with my manparts.”
“Ah, no, then.”
“Pretty much.” He adjusted his gunbelt, looking like he’d rather use it. “I’ll go get us those horses.”
Mal waited until he was out of earshot before saying to Hank, “Your heart rate back to normal, yet?”
“Not sure. Give me a week or two and I’ll let you know.”
“Well, soon as you’re ready, head on back to the ship, let Zoe know what’s going on. Get her to see what supplies we need and break out the fuel money.”
“We’re not leaving?”
“Not unless I wanna leave Jayne behind.”
“Then I want to come with you.”
“No, I want you around Serenity.” He glanced left then right. “See what you can find out. Get River to help you.”
“Find out about what?”
“This place. What makes it tick.”
“I didn’t think we’d be staying that long.”
“Me neither. But it doesn’t hurt to have a back-up plan.”
Hank tried hard not to say the words that were falling over each other behind his teeth, and for once succeeded. “Anything in particular?”
“Well, the fellers those two Tanner brothers met. I thought one of ‘em looked familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. ‘Cept it’s just clicked.”
“We never met, but I did a deal on Calliope one time, and he was making a ruckus. My contact told me who he was.”
“Mal, you’re starting to get on my –“
“He’s a slaver.”
Hank stared. “What?”
“You keep this between us,” Mal warned. “There ain’t much that man hates above Reavers, and it’s probably all River’s influence anyway, but I don’t want him getting all anxious over it – there’d be no telling his reaction if he knew.”
to be continued
Wednesday, October 20, 2010 6:28 AM
Wednesday, October 20, 2010 12:21 PM
Saturday, October 23, 2010 4:16 AM
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