BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Indigo - Part XI
Monday, February 28, 2011

Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee fixes the water pump, while Hank and Jayne go hunting, but there's blood on the horizon. NEW CHAPTER [longer than usual, but I hope you enjoy]


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2413    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

“Mallory.”

The blonde woman sighed heavily. She’d heard the old ATV trundle up, and had been waiting outside her front door. She was surprised to see it carrying two men and three women, a not altogether agreeable feeling. “Jayne. I didn't think you were coming back.”

“Told you I’d get someone to see to your pump.” He climbed from his seat on the side of the vehicle, standing up and seeming to half-fill the sky.

She nodded at the man behind the controls. “Then I’m grateful.”

Hank chuckled. “Not saying I couldn’t do it, but it’d take a damn sight longer’n if I could listen to the machinery.”

Mallory’s brow furrowed. “I ... don’t understand.”

“He’s talking ‘bout me,” Kaylee said brightly, jumping down and tugging a huge sack after her. “I'm Kaylee, by the way.”

“And I'm River.” The young woman, little more than a girl it seemed, leaped after, assisting her with the bag. “I’m here to help.”

“Hinder, more like.” Kaylee grinned and leaned out of the way of the pinching fingers.

The dark Amazon was slower, more stately in her progress to the ground, but the look on her face was indulgent at their antics. “My name’s Zoe,” she said. “And this is Hank, my husband.”

Mallory felt her knees want to curtsey a little, but she refused to give in. “This all your crew?” she asked Jayne.

The big man had the grace to drop his head as if his boots were suddenly very interesting. “They’re crew, yeah, but not mine. I’m ...”

“Public relations,” River piped up.

Mallory had to smile, just a swift lift of her lips. “Is that so?”

“It’s what the captain calls him.”

Jayne coughed. “Anyways, Kaylee’ll fix your pump, with or without Riv’s help, and Zoe’ll keep watch.”

“There’s nobody to watch out for, Jayne,” Mallory insisted.

“’Cept folks as shoot others in the back.”

She glared at him, then pointed sharply towards a track. “Down there,” she said. “About a hundred yards. Can’t miss it.” She turned and walked quickly back into the house.

“Jayne, is there something wrong?” Serenity’s mechanic asked, sidling up close to him.

“Nope, li’l Kaylee. Nothing wrong. You just be doing your job.” He strode after Mallory.

Zoe exchanged a glance with River, but the young psychic shook her head. “Time to work,” she said, picking up the tool bag and marching down the track.

“Any idea what’s going on?” Kaylee asked.

“Not a gorram clue,” Zoe admitted. “You know, I’m kinda loathe to say this, but River’s right. Let’s get the job done and head on home.” She walked purposefully away.

Kaylee huffed in frustration, but followed.

“I’ll ... just ... sit here, shall I?” Hank asked, but nobody answered.

---

“Where’s Josh?” Jayne asked, stepping into the darker interior of the house.

“At school. In the town. Where else would he be?” She busied herself tidying an already tidy table.

“Just wondered. Didn’t fancy him coming after me with that rifle.” He chuckled, a low throaty growl. “Mind, I was glad I saw him holding the Cap up like that.”

“What are you doing here, Jayne?” she asked, turning on him.

“I told you –”

“The pump, yeah. But you didn’t have to come with ‘em. What do you think I’m gonna tell you I haven't already?”

“It’s not about that.”

“I told you Josh ain’t yours.”

Jayne looked at the woman, wondering where the young whore had gone, replaced by this careworn mother, her long blonde hair held up in a messy bun at the nape of her neck. “I know that. Mallory,” he said quietly.

She hitched her hands onto her hips. “So why’re you getting involved?”

“’Cause Indigo was.”

Mallory sighed, the air escaping her through pursed lips. “He was a fool.”

“He was helping you.”

“I didn’t ask him to!”

He gazed at her a moment longer, then shrugged. “We’re only here another day. I’m going huntin’ for us, and if there’s enough I’ll drop a steak or two by.”

“I don’t need it.”

“Then do what the hell you want with it.” He turned to the door, pausing as he grasped the handle. “If’n you’ve got any friendly feeling left, the girls’d probably be glad of a drink in a while.” Without another glance he strode out into the sunlight to join Hank.

---

“Auntie Frey?” Hope held out her picture. “Like this?”

They’d been looking at the old Masters from Earth-that-was, one of the little girl’s favourite subjects, and comparing them to more modern art they found on the Cortex.

Freya gazed at her interpretation of Van Gogh’s starry night, seen from her point of view much more literally and less impressionistic, and with more than a hint of Kaylee’s birthplace on Phoros about it. “It’s beautiful,” she said. “Are you going to give it to your Grandma Frye?”

Hope nodded firmly, her blonde curls seeming to move independently. Ever since Bethie had taken a pair of scissors to her long hair some time back she’d insisted on keeping it short, not least because when it was washed there weren’t nearly as many knots to deal with. Unlike her older sister, who had been known to finger the shears longingly until her Daddy had told her how much he liked her long hair.

“Do you think she’ll like it?” Hope asked.

“I’m sure she’ll love it.” As usual the little girl’s talent was astounding, and Freya could feel herself being pulled into the picture, especially to the lit windows of the house at the bottom, where she could believe that any second now a curtain would be twitched to one side and a face would peer out ...

Bethie, more paint on her hands than on the paper in front of her, grinned at Ethan, who sighed. Sometimes his mother was all too easily distracted, which wasn't always a bad thing. Still, she’d been perhaps worse than usual this morning, and he let his walls drop enough to feel a vague sense of uneasiness emanating from her, tickling his fledgling abilities.

“Mama?” he asked quietly.

Freya looked over at him, and for a second he wasn’t sure she recognised him, then she smiled.

“It’s okay, Ethan,” she said, understanding. “Everything’s shiny.”

He wasn’t convinced, but he nodded anyway. “Okay.”

She held out her arms and he scrambled from his chair to jump in her lap. “Come on,” she said. “Let’s take a look at your masterpiece, shall we?”

“Better make it Bethie’s,” he stage-whispered. “Before she implodes.”

Bethie shot him a glare full of venom but it slid off him slicker than water off a duck.

Freya laughed. “Okay,” she said. “Bethie’s first.”

Bethie’s glare turned to a beam, but as Freya took the brightly coloured picture of a pot of sunflowers there was a part of her that was still listening, still waiting for whatever was about to happen ...

---

Zoe had elected to perch on one of the large rocks that surrounded the smallholding, her stillness making her virtually invisible despite not even trying to hide. She watched as Mallory came out of the house with a tray in her hands, balancing three glasses of what looked like lemonade, and carried it down the track to the pumphouse.

“Hey,” Mallory said at the open doorway. “I thought you might be thirsty.”

Kaylee grinned over her shoulder. “Won’t say no. Let me just finish this bit first.”

“Where are the others?” Mallory looked around the small shack, but there was no sign of either the dark Amazon or the waif.

“Oh, Zoe’s about someplace, keeping an eye on us. River’s chasing butterflies, least that’s what she says.”

“Wrong time of year for butterflies.”

“That’s what I figured.” Kaylee loosened the last bolt and the side panel to the pump fell into her waiting hands.

“Is she not ... quite right?”

“Sometimes I think she’s saner than all of us put together.” Kaylee grunted as she moved the panel behind her.

“You got to take the whole thing apart?”

“Well, I hope not, but whatever’s wrong ain’t exactly obvious.” She wiped her hands on the rag at her waist.

“By the way, I want to apologise,” Mallory said, bending down so Kaylee could take one of the glasses.

“What for?”

“Not seeming grateful earlier.”

“Hey, don’t you worry about that. I’d feel the same if someone came in and tried to help me when I hadn't asked.”

“Somehow I doubt that.” She sighed. “But the truth is, I don’t have any idea how to fix this sort of thing. It’s not ... what I’m good at.”

“Hey, we’ve all got different talents.” Kaylee grinned. “I mean, I’m good with machinery, Simon’s good at making people better, Hank can fly ...” She laughed. “Everyone’s good at something.”

“Not me.” Mallory sounded so certain. “’Bout all I was ever good at was lying on my back.”

Kaylee sobered a little. She’d never been prudish, not like Freya, and hadn’t exactly been a virgin when she got married either, but neither was she ashamed of her life before Simon. “That ain’t exactly true, now, is it? You’ve got Josh.”

“He wasn't planned.”

“So? Neither was Bethie – she’s my daughter. And Hope came along unexpected too.” She reached over, about to pat Mallory on the knee, then stopped as she realised her hands were covered in grease. “It don’t mean we love ‘em any the less. And I bet Josh is a good boy. You brought him up well.”

Mallory dropped her head, but smiled. “He’s the light o’ my life.”

“’N’ that’s all that counts.”

“You really think that?”

“Course I do. Wouldn’t say it otherwise.”

For a long moment Mallory didn’t respond, then she sank down onto her heels. “Kaylee ... you gotta get Jayne outta here. There are things going on ... things if he knew ...”

Kaylee’s forehead furrowed. “What kinda things?”

“It’s a bad place. This whole gorram town ... ever since old man Tanner died, Medea and her brood ... they’ve taken everything they can get out of it, and it’s been bleeding ever since.”

“Then leave.”

“How?” Mallory shrugged. “I ain’t got the money, and this is the only place I’ve known.” She shook her head. “I ain’t like you. I don’t have the will to go out, make my life elsewhere. Besides, she’d never let me.”

“Who?”

“Medea. They might not like me, might not want Josh to be part of their family, but she knows he’s her grandson. And she ain’t gonna let me take him off-world.” She looked at Kaylee. “I’m imagining Jayne told you all about it.”

“He mighta mentioned it at supper last night.” Kaylee shook her head. “But her not wanting her grandson but at the same time not wanting you to take him away ... That’s crazy, all upside down.”

“Medea ain't exactly known for her hold on reality sometimes.” Mallory sat down on the floor, ignoring the dirt. “So I ain’t got a choice.”

“Is that why Indigo got killed?” Kaylee asked slowly. “Was he trying to make you leave?”

“Indigo made enemies. He got shot because of that. And I don't want the same thing to happen to Jayne.”

“He can look after himself.”

“That’s what Indigo thought.” Mallory’s lips tightened. “I ain’t seen Jayne in over a dozen years, Kaylee. And he’s changed. Man he was before, he probably wouldn’t care ‘bout me and Josh. Surely wouldn’t have done this, got himself involved.”

“The man has grown, that I’ll give you,” Kaylee admitted. “Took a while.”

Mallory laughed unexpectedly. “Quite a long time, I’m guessing.”

“P’raps.” Kaylee leaned forward. “But the truth is he ain't the same man, not deep down. Else he’d never’ve asked the Cap to let me come fix this.”

“Then it’s even more important you make him leave. He ain't gonna find out who killed Indigo, and I’m not having Jayne’s death on my conscience as well.”

“Mallory –”

“I’m more’n grateful to you for fixing this, but you tell Jayne I don’t need anything more from him. He has to go.” Mallory stood back up, brushing her dress of any fragments of dirt. “You just tell him that.” She swept out, leaving Kaylee gaping a little.

---

Hank eyed the rifle. “Why not Vera?”

“We want to eat the meat, not mop it up with a sponge.”

They’d been walking for nearly half an hour, Jayne dropping to his heels occasionally to check the ground, his fingers delicately turning over leaves and small stones.

“True,” Hank agreed, pulling his coat a little closer around his neck.

“There’s a few bucks around here,” Jayne said, touching what looked like nothing more than a windblown double-crest. “Looks like maybe a small herd, half a dozen females, a handful of juveniles and some young.”

“You’re going to shoot deer?” Hank asked, his eyes wide.

“You’ve eaten it before,” the big man pointed out. “And you knew we were hunting.”

“I know, but ... I kind of like to imagine my food somehow getting to my plate without intervention of guns.”

“No wonder you like that protein crap.”

“I don’t like it.” The pilot straightened his backbone. “But given a choice between shooting a fluffy little deer and eating something that looked like it was grown at the bottom of a test tube ... well, count me in on the crud.”

“You’re a wuss.”

“Yep, that I am,” Hank agreed, nodding fervently. “Full paid up. I can show you my membership card if you like.”

Jayne shook his head. “Bet you’ll eat it if I gut and clean it first.”

“Well, yes. Because I can tell myself I wasn’t involved, and otherwise it would be a waste of good meat.”

“Hell, you’d never survive out on your own.”

“Luckily I’ve never had to try.” Hank dug his hands deep into the pockets of his jacket. “So if you don’t mind, you can go ... kill things by yourself.”

“Fine by me.” Jayne sniffed the air. “Should be able to stock the freezers with no problem.”

“I’ll just wait here, then.”

The big man chuckled. “Sure you ain’t gonna be afraid something huge with teeth is gonna come after you?”

“No, you’re going hunting.”

“You insulting me?”

“No, Jayne. If I was doing that, you wouldn’t have to ask.”

“Hmmn.” He wasn’t convinced. Still ... “Look, if you’re really not coming, why don’t you go take a look at the old Alliance camp? It ain’t far, just through that stand o’ trees and through the rocks. There might be something you can take back to Kaylee, make her day.”

Hank’s eyes narrowed. “Alliance?” Then he remembered the conversation he’d had on this very subject with Mal. “Oh. Right.”

“They been gone a while,” Jayne assured him. “Pretty much since the end of the war. Cason’s Point wasn’t exactly a hotbed of Independent fervour.”

Hank thought, but didn’t say, that the way he’d put it sounded a lot more like River than the ex-Merc, but since the big feller had a rifle in one hand, several handguns about his person and a knife big enough to scare even the most enormous grizzly, he wisely decided not to let his tongue have its way. Instead he pointed and said, “Just through there?”

“Yeah. Take you about half an hour. I’ll be done in about an hour, so I’ll meet you coming back.”

“Okay. Just ... remember which direction I’ve gone, and don’t shoot me.”

“Doubt even Mallory’d take your scrawny ass for food.”

“It’s not scrawny. Ask Zoe.”

“I’ll take your word for it.” Jayne lifted his head again, tasting the wind. “An hour, remember.” With that he loped off across the landscape, soon merging with the high grasses and low bushes until he’d vanished like a magician’s assistant.

Hank grinned. For all Jayne’s faults – and they were many and varied – the big man was an excellent tracker, and the pilot didn’t doubt he’d be back with at least one wild animal suitably butchered. Not fish, though. Jayne hated fish guts for some reason.

He chuckled. “Ah well, Hank, you’d better get going if you’re going,” he muttered to himself, hitching his collar higher against the cold wind and striding purposefully towards the trees and the abandoned Alliance camp.

---

River had given up chasing butterflies (or maybe they had only been leaves tossed by the teasing breeze) was squatting down next to the filter unit watching Kaylee perform miracles. Well, not miracles technically, since she was actually manhandling the trip box back into place, but since without it any water drawn up might make Mallory and her son sick, it was a sort of miracle. Petit miracle, perhaps. Miracle light. A reflection of the original, but with all the grace of –

“Riv, can you pass me ... oh, thanks.” Kaylee felt the hydrowelder slap into her outstretched hand. She grinned. “That must be what Simon feels like, when he’s performing surgery,” she commented. “You giving him the tools ‘fore he asks.”

“You needed three hands,” River said, shrugging. “I merely supplied the third.”

“Thanks anyway.”

Something squealed, and there was a brief smell of something else burning, then Kaylee sat back.

“Done?” River asked.

“Done,” Kaylee confirmed, wiping her hands on her rag for the final time. “It wasn’t as bad as I was afraid, and I gave it the quick once over, made sure nothing else was likely to go wrong for a while at least.”

“Then Mallory will be pleased.” River stood up, idly running a finger down the rusty metal, feeling the pitted surface showing the pump’s age. “The machinery is grateful. Just like the other back at the docks.”

Kaylee clambered to her feet. “What, you mean my girl? My Serenity?” She smiled. “She’s as much my baby as Bethie, or Hope, or David Gabriel. Only don’t you go tellin’ ‘em that.”

“I think Bethie knows.”

They walked out into the daylight, the sun already starting its dip towards bedtime.

“Prob’ly.” Kaylee laughed, and a bird high overhead echoed the sound. “There’re times I think that daughter of mine is gonna want to take my place soon as she’s tall enough to reach the master switches.”

“Sooner,” River said. “She’s building a ladder.”

Kaylee grinned even wider, and pulled her sister-in-law into a one armed embrace. “I figure you’re right.” She looked down at the thin dress River was wearing, and one of Jayne’s old camo-jackets. “Ain’t you cold?”

“It’s ... bracing.”

“That what you call it?” Kaylee shook her head. “Back on Phoros we’d call this snow weather. That bite just before we’d wake up to a tumble.”

“It isn’t cold enough. Not yet.”

“Mal was complaining that his old war wound was playing up,” Kaylee went on, repacking her tools into the bag. “Said it was a sure sign of bad weather.”

“He only said that so Freya would massage it for him,” River pointed out.

“I know he didn’t seem too pleased when Simon offered to give him an injection.”

“Not the TLC he wanted.”

“I’m sure he didn’t go without.”

“I’m sure he ...”

“River?” Kaylee looked up, finding her best friend staring towards the horizon. “You okay?”

“Not sure. Not ...” Suddenly she was shouting. “Zoe!”

The first mate appeared over the edge of the rock above them. “What is it? Is it Jayne?”

“No.” River pointed with an unwavering finger. “Hank.” Bending over it took her only a moment to undo the laces on her boots, kicking them off.

Zoe felt her heart miss a beat. “Bad?”

“Yes.” River took to her heels, the jacket falling from her shoulders to the ground.

For a long moment Zoe couldn’t move, fixed to the stone as if grappling hooks were holding her down, then her natural ability to work under extreme duress came to the fore, and she slid over the edge, her flexed knees absorbing the impact. She ran towards the ATV, calling over her shoulder, “Kaylee, stay here!”

---

Freya was running hurrying fingers over the control console.

“What’s going on?” Mal asked. He’d been in his bunk going over the books, and heard running boots in the corridor above. Since he was pretty sure Simon wasn’t likely to be pounding the decks and the kids weren’t yet big enough to make that sort of noise, he hurried up the ladder and along to the bridge.

“Hank’s hurt,” she said shortly.

“Quicker to take a shuttle?”

“No. He needs Simon. And the infirmary.”

“You know where?”

“Yes.”

He felt the engines fire and knew she’d circumvented a lot of the safety protocols, but he wasn’t going to argue, not this time. Because this time it had to be bad.

---

The hunt had been surprisingly satisfying, taking all of his skill to approach the small herd without them bolting. Indeed, as he’d begun to settle himself, pick the right target, the wind had changed and they’d caught his scent, a moment later flashing their white scuts at him as they ran. Still, he’d been ready for just such a possibility. The landscape was such that they were forced to travel in a large semi-circle to get away from him, and he ran up the small hill, boots pounding the dirt, until he stood on top, trying to calm his breathing and his heart rate, aiming at where he knew they were going to appear any second ...

There. Fast. Very fast. Swerving even as they exited the lower ground.

He aimed, letting his instincts take over, his finger tightening on the trigger almost before he was aware of the action.

A young buck fell in a tangle of legs, dead before he hit the ground, the others parting around his body and carrying on until the disappeared into the distance.

Jayne grinned, a feral look in his eyes. No matter that he was now a family man, that he’d give up his own life before he’d let anything happen to River, or to Caleb, but sometimes he needed to be what he was underneath ... a hunter. Before it had been men, and now it was venison, but the skills were the same.

Loping towards his kill, he went down onto his heels next to the corpse. Steam was rising from the bullet hole just behind the left eye, glassy and unseeing. He looked the deer over – it was the one he’d chosen before, not quite mature, but with a good amount of meat on him. The damaged antler suggested he’d already been practising fighting, but he was probably never going to be big enough to take his own females. Better he supply Mallory with food for the winter.

Jayne pulled Binky from the scabbard at his waist, preparing to start cutting, then he rocked on his heels.

Jayne!

River, but an anxious River, worried, upset. Moonbrain? What is it?

Hank.

He didn’t think. In a moment he was up and running towards the old Alliance camp, the deer carcase forgotten.

---

River didn’t think. She just ran. She had felt Freya abandon lessons and tell the children to go to their rooms while she ran to the bridge. She knew the second Zoe had the mule powered up, speeding across the dirt to find her husband. She knew the moment her brother let lose a stream of Chinese obscenities as he made the cold blue room ready.

These things she knew, but didn’t have to think about. And somewhere in front of her, getting closer, was a miasma of crimson pain, tinged with growing black.

She leaped a fallen tree trunk, the wet ground beyond grabbing at her bare feet with fingers of sucking cold, but she pulled away, skirting a rock and startling a flock of somethings that flew up into the sky, calling in protest.

Closer. Blacker.

A final burst of speed, ignoring the burning in her muscles, the need to breathe, the desire to stop. No time.

There. There.

He was wedged into the gap between a tree and a sandy bank, upright but slumped.

She slowed, her eyes flicking over his form even as she reached him.

Blood, there on his belly. Chest still moving. Move coat. Shirt. Armour. Armour. Armour with a hole in it. No. Ignore that until later. The hole important. Pumping life. Be like the little Dutch boy from Earth-that-was and plug it with a finger.

Hank groaned.

Something behind her, and for a moment she wondered whether to turn and kill quickly.

“Riv.”

It was Jayne.

“I think it went through,” she said quietly.

He nodded, pushing himself into the tiny gap behind the pilot. “Yep, it did.” Using the knife he had been intending to gut the deer with, this time he grabbed the bottom of his t-shirt, slicing a long strip from the body. Quickly wadding up he slit Hank’s coat and shirt, pushing his hand through. Steam turned the air liquid, and he could feel blood slipping down. “Got it,” he said, pressing firmly.

Hank would have screamed but he didn’t have the energy. Instead he tried to tell them to stop, but all that came from his lips was a whisper.

River heard the susurration of breath, felt it move the hair on her cheek. “Hold on,” she murmured. “Zoe will kill you if you die on her.”

“They coming?” Jayne asked, not liking the amount of blood that had already dripped onto the dirt beneath Hank.

“Close.”

“Better be closer’n that.”

“Here.”

A faint hum turned into a roar, and the ATV slid sideways as Zoe braked hard. Before the engine had even stopped turning over she was down on the ground, running to her husband.

“Baby?” she asked, her fingertips touching his cheek.

“Gut shot,” Jayne said.

“We have to get him to Simon.”

“They’re coming. Now.”

Indeed, a different, deeper bellow announced the Firefly coming in to land, dead leaves and loose scrub flying in the vortices created by the downdrafts. Almost before the ship had touched earth the ramp was down, and Simon was running out into the thin sunshine, his medical bag clutched in his hand.

“River,” he said quietly as he skidded to a halt, Mal barely half a dozen steps behind him.

“Through and through,” she murmured.

The young doctor nodded, already taking an emergency foam bandage from his bag. “Here,” he said to Jayne. “As much as you can, straight into the wound.”

Jayne nodded, immediately making the hole in Hank’s clothes bigger so he could see what he was doing. “He’s bleeding something bad.”

“He might have nicked an artery. Or damaged a kidney from the position.” Simon had ripped open Hank’s shirt, his eyebrows barely raising as he saw his sister’s finger knuckle deep in the entrance wound. “He’s wearing armour? And it still penetrated?”

Later, River dripped into his mind.

Tugging a second foam canister from his medical kit, he nodded, his demeanour that of a professional, not a friend, then said, “Ready?”

“Yes.”

On an unspoken three – two – one River removed her finger, blood immediately pumping from the hole. Simon inserted the nozzle of the bandage and squeezed.

Mal, standing back, felt useless, not able to help, so he let his feet do his thinking for him and started searching the ground. It was only the work of a moment to find the blood trail. Following it, he skirted the sandy bank, finally coming back out into the watery sunshine between two high clumps of rocks to find himself looking down on the old Alliance camp.

It was deserted, the perimeter fencing broken, missing entirely in a number of places. It looked like twenty-odd buildings on the surface, but he knew these places of old, and there were probably at least twice that many dug into the ground, on perhaps three or four levels. Still, this was where Hank had been shot – there was a spatter of blood on the rock behind him, and ... yes, the spent bullet. Mal picked it up, turning it over in his fingers.

Mal.

He turned and ran back, pushing the bullet into his coat pocket.

“I need your help,” Simon said. “He’s wedged firmly, but if we don’t do this carefully the wounds will tear and ...” He stopped.

“Then we’d better do it carefully,” Zoe said.

“Tell us what to do,” Mal said.

Between them, Jayne behind with his entire body supporting Hank’s, they managed to loosen him enough to be able to lie him flat.

Simon heaved a silent sigh of relief. “Now, up onto the mule.”

“I can carry him,” Jayne offered.

“No. As little jolting as possible, or the wounds might tear open.”

“Frey has the infirmary ready,” River added.

They lifted Hank up, keeping him flat, lowering him as gently onto the ATV as possible, just as if he was made of the most delicate china. Zoe immediately climbed next to him, Simon the other side.

Mal got behind the control yoke and without a word drove towards Serenity.

The silence surged back, leaving River and Jayne standing alone. They gazed at each other.

“It wasn’t me,” the big man said slowly.

“I know.”

“We went in different directions. And I only fired the once.”

River put her hand on his arm. “Someone else.”

“You got any idea who?”

She shook her head slowly. “No.”

Jayne’s lips thinned. “Gorram place. They should’ve burned this dump out instead o’ Shadow.”

“It wasn’t your fault.”

He looked at her, his blue eyes as cold as ice. “Yeah, yeah it was. I should’ve made him stay with me, squeamish or not.”

“Hank is his own man.”

“Well he ain’t gonna end up buried next to Indigo. And whoever did it ain’t gonna get away with it either.”

She squeezed his bicep. “Agreed.”

He took a deep breath. “Better get the shuttle prepped so I can go find Kaylee.”

“She’s back at Mallory’s.”

“And you’d better go help your bro.”

She nodded, her dark eyes fixed on his blue gaze. “Hank is strong. Stronger than he would ever admit.”

“Yeah. He’s a good man.”

River reached up onto her toes and kissed his cheek. “Yes.” Then she took to her heels again, her hair flying behind her as she ran to the Firefly.

He followed, his feet slower, his mind full of dark, rolling thoughts.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Monday, February 28, 2011 1:28 PM

AMDOBELL


Poor Hank. I had a horrible feeling that Hank and Jayne splitting up would spell trouble. Must also admit to be annoyed with Mallory, why didn't she just open up and be honest with Jayne? I'm thinking the *wangba dans* responsible for all the trouble are going to regret tangling with our BDHS. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 4:43 AM

ANGELLEMARCS


Not Hank.... gosh darn it. Why haven't they realized that splitting up is NEVER a good thing?! Not sure ifn I like or trust Mallory. She just rubs me in all the wrong ways. Keep it up... is very good and keeps gettin' better.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 6:00 AM

WAFFENMAC


I do hope Jayne is unleashed on all involved oh and dont forget River.

Graet chapter

Mac

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 6:01 AM

WAFFENMAC


I do hope Jayne is unleashed on all involved oh and dont forget River.

Great chapter

Mac

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 6:07 AM

BYTEMITE


Alliance camp tastes like a promising plot line.

Thursday, March 3, 2011 4:19 PM

KATESFRIEND


I loved how you shifted gears going between the different scenes aboard ship, at Malory's, on the hunt with Jayne, or the understated Hank's errand. Then you shifted again after the shooting and everything was in motion. Poor Hank - what a nightmare for Zoe. This is getting better and better!


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Monied Individual - Epilogue
"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]


Monied Individual - Part XX
Mal took a deep breath, allowing it out slowly through his nostrils, and now his next words were the honest truth. “Ain’t surprised. No matter how good you are, and I’m not complaining, I’ve seen enough battle wounds, had to help out at the odd amputation on occasion. And I don’t have to be a doc myself to tell his leg ain’t quite the colour it should be, even taking into account his usual pasty complexion. What you did … didn’t work, did it?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]


Monied Individual - Part XIX
“His name’s Jayne?”

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

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

“Yeah, he’s a mystery to all of us,” Mal said. “Even his wife.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]


Monied Individual - Part XVIII
Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]


Snow at Christmas
She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]


Monied Individual - Part XVII
Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.


[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]


Monied Individual - Part XVI
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.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee finds the problem with Serenity, and Jayne starts his quest. Read, enjoy, review!]



Monied Individual - Part XV
“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.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]



“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.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]


Monied Individual - Part XIV
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.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The crew go to the Spring Lights Procession, Mal gives some good news, and Sir Warwick puts in another cameo. Read, enjoy, review!]