Eagle (Part 4/7)
Friday, December 30, 2011

The captain's searching for his mercenary. You best not get in his way.


Fifty hours since they'd last been there Mal and Zoë entered the bar at New Lafayette once again. This time Mal didn't scan the room. He just went up to the counter, leaned over, grabbed the bartender and slammed him face down on the table, then cocked his gun and pressed the barrel against the man's temple. "Where's my man?" he hissed through his clenched teeth.

"I told you," the bartender protested.

A few of the patrons in the room shouted and Mal heard the scraping of chairs against the floor as some of them got to their feet, but Zoë was covering him with her shotgun and nobody intervened.

"The truth this time!" he yelled at the bartender.

"It was the truth, gorram it!"

"Okay then, the whole truth!"

The man was panting heavily now. "He was here like I said. He was talkin' to some guy and left with 'im. Went to find some hidden goods in the hills or sumthin'."

Mal, pleased with the answer, let the man go, but kept his gun at him. He glanced over his shoulder at Zoë and nodded and they left the bar.

"Goods weren't in the hills," Zoë said as soon as they were out the door.

"No," Mal replied. "And Jayne knew. Gorram fool!"

He was furious, by now with everyone and everything in this crap-heel 'verse. The anger had been steadily building up inside him during the eight-hour trip back to this god-forsaken moon. Wash had been able to shave three hours of the estimated travel time, but that hadn't been enough to stop him from descending into the pit of self-loathing he found himself in from time to time and always seemed to put him in a lashing mood.

Jayne would never have left his guns! Why had he been the only one not able to see that?

Everybody had been anxious. Kaylee had been constantly pacing all over the ship, driving Wash nuts with her are-we-there-yet?-questions and even tried to squeeze River for more information. But River had gone totally quiet after Mal had finally listened to her and spent most of the trip just staring out into the air.

Now Kaylee and Book were searching for Jayne in town while Mal and Zoë had gone back to the bar, hoping to pick up the trail from there. Which they had.

"So, into the hills then," Mal said.

They left the settlement and spotting the trail leading up into the hills, they followed it.

"You really think we'll find 'im?" Zoë asked after a while, and Mal knew she had been waiting for the right moment to do so. "It's been two days."

He straightened his back and took a second to take in the surroundings. He could still see the town in the valley down below. A pretty nice view if this had been the time to appreciate it.

"Soon as these people realized he was leading them on a wild goose chase, things must've gotten violent," he said. "They killed him or he killed them. Either way there should be… clues left for us to find."

"And by 'clues' you mean 'bodies'," Zoë said, more as a remark than a question. He made no reply.

They walked on in silence, both warily scanning the landscape, ready for any kind of action. But things seemed dead quiet up here, and Mal had over the course of his life come to understand that he hated the quiet a lot more than he hated the noise.

They had been on the move for close to an hour when Zoë reached out an arm and stopped him. "There," she said, pointing.

He saw them right away. All the footprints in the sand.

"Yup," he agreed. "This is where the showdown took place."

And it was not a good place for one. They were basically at the edge of a cliff. Both of them scanned the place with their eyes, taking in all the details, and again Zoë was the most observant one.

"Looks like the ground closest to the cliff gave 'way," she said, and carefully stepped closer and peered down.

As always her face stayed ice cold and expressionless, but Mal knew her well and he saw how she clenched her jaws and kept her eyes on one particular spot just a beat too long. And so he knew, before she even said it. "Found 'im, sir."

He went up beside her and looked down and saw the figure sprawled on the ground down below.

The bright orange t-shirt.

The anger inside him became almost impossible to quell, and at the same time he was filled with another kind of emotion, something that made him feel hollow and empty.

For a few moments none of them spoke, and in his mind Mal was already trying to figure out how he should break the news to Kaylee.

"We should…," he finally said, but just then he thought he saw Jayne move his arm a little.

He stiffened. "Did he…?" he began just as Zoë exclaimed, "He moved!"

They had to backtrack a little to find a suitable place for it, but as fast as they safely (or maybe not so safely) could they scrambled down the hill and rushed to their fallen comrade's side.

Jayne was lying on his stomach, pressed up against a rock, which seemed to have stopped him from sliding further down the slope.

Zoë had reached him first. "Jayne?" she called. "Jayne?" She put her fingers to his neck, feeling for a pulse and then nodded to Mal. "He's alive."

Mal's sense of relief didn't last long. Alive, yes, but in a terrible shape. His right leg was bent in a slightly unnatural angle a little below the knee, there was blood on his clothes, and the skin on the exposed side of the face was red and sunburnt.

Zoë winced when she saw the broken limb. "Leg's busted."

"Yeah, I saw," Mal replied. He glanced upwards. "You reckon he fell?"

It was a long drop from the cliff overhead, but the slope's angle wasn't too steep and that could have broken the fall at least a little.

"They shot 'im first," Zoë said, nodding towards the bloody t-shirt and what looked to be an exit wound on the left side of the lower part of his back. "Help me turn 'im over."

A groan escaped him as they did so, but he didn't wake. "Flesh wound," Zoë declared after a quick examination. "Bullet went clean through. Been bleedin' a lot, though."

Mal could see that. There was a pool of starched blood in the sand where Jayne had been lying. He cursed.

"Jayne?" Zoë was cupping Jayne's face in her hands, gently slapping his cheek. "Can you here me?" She got no response. Instead she glanced upwards at the sky and then at Mal. "Would probably be easier just to haul him straight unto the ship from here, don't you think?"

Mal nodded his agreement and she stood and walked a few steps away to radio Wash.

On the ground Jayne suddenly moaned again and his head lulled to one side. Mal knelt down next to him, patting his cheek. "Jayne? You with me?"

The mercenary's eyes fluttered open, then another groan and then a yelp of pain as he tried to sit up. Mal put a hand on his chest, gently pinning him to the ground. "Don't try and move. You gotten yourself a little banged up there."

"Mal?" Jayne's speech was slurred and his voice almost inaudible.

"That's right," Mal said, more than a little relieved to hear the man address him by name.

"Ruf.. .s Mi… er."

"Come again?"

Jayne licked his parched lips and repeated the words a little louder and clearer. "Rufus Miller."

A name. He was giving him a name. "He the one did this to you?"


Mal glanced at the bullet wound. "Must be a bad shot."

Jayne snorted. "The worst." He gave a wince of pain and added, "Thought I could handle him."

Then he was quiet for a while, glancing around, but without really focusing. He was slipping into unconsciousness again, and for a moment he just looked so terribly fragile and worried. "Wasn't sure you'd come," he mumbled as he closed his eyes.

"My crew don't get left, Jayne. You know that." Mal gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder, just as Serenity came into view overhead. "Now let's get off this ball of goushi."


Simon hadn't slept much, only slumbered on the coach in the lounge area outside the infirmary, his alarm clock set on intervals so he could check on his patient once an hour the whole night through. Now it was almost midday and he was dead tired, but he knew there was no rest to be had for a while. He was trying to get the infirmary back in order, things had been kind of chaotic when they'd brought Jayne in the day before…

By the time he'd finished tending to Jayne's multiple injuries it had been late in the evening (Serenity-time). Tired, but too tense to sleep he'd gone to the kitchen to get some nutrition (he stubbornly refused to call molded protein food), and hadn't really been surprised to find the ship's captain and first mate sitting there. Mal and Zoë often did this when they'd had a particularly tough day, just sat in a room together, keeping each other company, but not talking too much.

Mal had acknowledged him with a look as he'd walked in. "How is he?"

"Bruised, battered," Simon had answered as he'd found his cup and plate. "But stable. I've set the leg as best as I could, it's a little complicated without proper x-ray equipment. Other than that he's a little dehydrated, but IV fluids should see to that."

"He awake?"

"No. I gave him something for the pain and it pretty much knocked him out."

Then Mal had nodded, apparently satisfied with the answers, and gone back to his pondering.

Simon had tried to eat, but only managed a few mouthfuls before the thing that had been bothering him the entire time just wouldn't stay inside his mind anymore. "He shouldn't be alive," he'd said out loud.

Mal had looked back at him, lifting his eyebrows. "'Scuse me?" From her place at the eating table, Zoë had mimicked his expression.

"He was lying there for the whole two days, right?" Simon had exclaimed, a little louder than first intended. "In the sun, in pain, and he was bleeding. Don't get this the wrong way, but any normal man would have died."

"Well, our Jayne ain't normal," Zoë'd said, her lips curving into a little smile as she and Mal exchanged looks.

Simon had smiled a little too, but the thought hadn't stopped bothering him…

He turned to find more disinfectants, smiling at River who was sitting on the counter next to him, but she only had eyes for Jayne who was asleep on the operation table. His leg was now sporting a hip-to-toe cast that Simon, with the assistance of Shepherd Book, had put on him this morning once the swelling had gone sufficiently down. Jayne had only barely been awake during that whole procedure, come to think of it he'd barely been awake at all since they'd brought him home.

Yes, home. Whether he, Simon, liked it or not. And the jury was still out on that question.

He looked at River. She was still staring intently at the big man, like she had been doing for the last few hours. Simon found it a little weird and a lot unsettling. He couldn't understand why she did it, but then again, he didn't understand half the things his sister did.

She suddenly spoke. "Hot," she said, her voice free of emotion and her eyes still glued to the prone figure on the table.

He almost dropped the tools he was cleaning. Merciful Buddha!

"River!" he said, trying not to raise his voice too much. "Honestly, there are millions of men in the 'verse more worthy of your affection than this guy. I'm well aware that your options on this ship are rather limited, but…"

She gave him that look of hers that always told him just what a complete idiot she thought he was at times. "Hot," she repeated, emphasizing the word.

He eyed her for another beat and then he slowly turned around and looked at Jayne on the table. He knew what she was getting at now. He saw the sheen of sweat on the man's brow.

"Oh no," he muttered.

He quickly, but carefully started to unwrap the bandages, still muttering "no, no, no" to himself the entire time, and at last he was able to peer under the wrappings at the gunshot wound. It only confirmed what he had been afraid of.

He stepped back, angrily peeled off his gloves and threw them on the floor. "Ta ma de!"




Friday, December 30, 2011 6:15 AM


The reason Jayne managed to stay alive so long is clearly his belief that Mal and the crew would come for him. Now we just need Simon to get the fever down. I like the way you are writing this story. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Thursday, January 5, 2012 5:21 AM


At first I was startled that Mal's first action was rough up the bartender and put a gun to his head, but then when you went on to explain that Mal was furious with himself, and feeling guilty about it all, it made perfect sense. "Jayne would never have left his guns! Why had he been the only one not able to see that?" -- very in character for Mal. "But things seemed dead quiet up here, and Mal had over the course of his life come to understand that he hated the quiet a lot more than he hated the noise." -- like how you show instead of tell. Good to see Zoe and Mal put their tracking skills to good use, finding Jayne. I was amused by Simon's refusal to call the molded protein "food." Your play with River calling Jayne "hot" was good. I hope they're able to control his fever soon. This wound is dangerous. Like Mal and Zoe and Simon, I'm wondering how Jayne survived two days in the desert injured.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 9:34 AM


Oh crap...infection? Gangrene? This isn't looking good, even though I know you're not killing Jayne off right now ;P


You must log in to post comments.



Angels We Have Heard (Part 5/5)
Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.

Angels We Have Heard (Part 4/5)
Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.

Angels We Have Heard (Part 3/5)
Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.

Angels We Have Heard (Part 2/5)
Christmas special. Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.

Angels We Have Heard (Part 1/5)
Christmas special. Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.

The Night Before (revised and reposted)
It's the night before Christmas and Jayne is having spiritual problems. Literally.

Book of Secrets (Part 8)
Mal drew a deep breath and exhaled slowly, closing his eyes for a moment. "Gorram preacher," he muttered.

Book of Secrets (Part 7)
Kaylee comes clean and River goes for a swim.

Book of Secrets (Part 6)
The captain dances, Inara's feeling out the new girl and the first secret is revealed.

Book of Secrets (Part 5)
Zoë and Inara have a heart-to-heart, and Mal discovers more shades of grey.