The Heart of the Dilemma
Thursday, January 6, 2005

The people we know influence the decisions we make.


The Heart of the Dilemma By jebbypal. 2004 Serenity Secret Santa present for inlovewithnight.

Spoilers for Serenity the pilot episode. Quotes from the transcript of the aired version of the pilot found on Santa does not own the Firefly characters nor does he profit off of this fic. Merely seeking to do a little jaylee for his gift giving.

Merry Christmas to all!

Chinese glossary: lin se de jia huo – meanie hundan – bastard chunren - idiot

Kaylee glared at him when he entered the common room. "I don't wanna talk to you, you lin se de jia huo."

"Aww hell, I just wanted to 'pologize Lil' Kaylee. That's all," Jayne said awkwardly. As usual, he'd shot off his mouth without thinking at dinner. It was just so gorram frustrating to see her fawn all over some big city doc that would be off the ship in a few days. Didn't know why she didn't save herself the embarrassment was all. Man like that wouldn't go for a girl like her when Inara asked if he'd like a turn. Sure, doc would probably agree to a roll in the hay, but he could tell Kaylee was crushing for a bit more than that.

"Had no call to be like that Jayne. Don't know how you could even," she said angrily as she turned her back on him.

"Look, I said I was sorry. What else do you want?" he interrupted. Didn't need her to tell him how horrible he was.

She just looked at him, all disappointed looking. "And in front of the preacher too. I know your Ma taught you more respect than that."

"Rutting hell, are you gonna accept the apology or not girl?" he erupted. Man could only take so much of a dressing down. Only what should have been silence after his question wasn't. Loud shouting could be heard from the direction of the cargo bay. "Those gorram passengers start wandering already? I told Mal this was a bad idea."

Kaylee shook her head as she passed him to investigate the situation. "Probably got lost or forgot a piece of luggage is all. Nuthin' at all," she told him over her shoulder with an assured grin.

Jayne found himself smiling back at her. Maybe he was forgiven after all. Girl's smile sure could make everything seem better he thought to himself as he followed her to the cargo bay. The shouting only got louder as they neared the cargo bay.

"Hey, what's all the sho.." he heard Kaylee start to ask before he heard it. All Jayne could do was watch as she stumbled back until she hit the wall and slid down to the floor. All the while wearing an uncomprehending look as she looked down. Gorram idiot had shot her! "Wait why are.." he heard her ask as he pulled his gun. Fei hua, preacher beat him to the shot. That's okay, this way he could take his time and make it hurt.

"Get out of the way," he ordered the Shepherd.

Book looked at him with that look that religious folks generally seemed to reserve for just for him. "You're not killing this man."

Jayne didn't fight the smile that came in response to that statement. "Not right away.."

"He's not a threat."


"Not gonna happen," Book replied. Ruttin' hell, the gorram idiot saw what the man did to Kaylee. Kaylee, the only one of them innocent of anything. No way was he gonna let the man walk away without losing more than a little blood.

"I'm not joking with you preacher," Jayne warned as he raised his gun.

"Jayne!" Zoe's voice shouts from behind him on the catwalk. Damn, she already had her own gun out. "Just tie him up."

Whole ship is going nuts. Man just shoots Kaylee and he gets to keep breathing without so much as a bruise. Well, maybe the Preacher's little kung-fu would leave a bit of a bruise. Jayne can't help but think that the entire situation was messed up. As he ties the fed tightly, he tells himself he shoulda known something like this would happen when Mal said he was taking on passengers. Cap'n has some of the worst luck in this here 'Verse.

Jayne's focus drifts when he hears Simon tell the Captain that they have to turn the ship around. He freezes as he watches the battle of wills play out. Feels a fury start to build as he learns that the doc is the cause of all the ruckus and of…

Jayne's blood runs cold when he hears Kaylee scream. Ain't never heard a woman scream like that before he don't reckon. Never seen a woman like her die before either. Zoe's different, she fought in the war. She's hard like Mal. But Kaylee, it ain't right at all he tells himself as he roughly moves the fed to the dorm.

Jayne kneels on the upper deck to get a good view of the operating going on in the infirmary below. Kaylee looks so small on the table. Small as his little sis was that time she got the fever and almost died on them. Jayne promises himself that the gorram doctor had better know what he's doing or he'll get to talk to Binky.

He can't imagine what the ship would be like without the mechanic. Somehow seemed like she managed to make the entire ship glow as bright as the engine drive just by the sheer force of her personality. Glowed so bright she made the stars seem darker in comparison. After a while, he can't take it anymore, the waiting and watching just makes him feel too helpless. Jayne decides to go and check on his weapons. The fed will pay for what he's done sooner or later. Mal ain't crazy enough to let him go off scot free.

He leaves his task when he hears the doctor yell "No!" at Mal. This ought to be good, Jayne thinks with a grin as he moves towards the infirmary to listen and follows the show towards the cargo bay.

"Stay away from that," Simon yells. Jayne grabs him easily from behind in a headlock when the doctor moves to stop the Captain.

"Where's the fed?" Mal asks.

"Secured. Shepherd's with him. Seems to think he's not safe alone with me," Jayne informs him with a smirk as he tightens his hold on the fancy boy. He watches with interest as Mal opens the locks and catches on the metal box after a brief inspection.

"Let's see what a man like you would kill for," Mal says conversationally to Simon with the cold look that Jayne only knows too well before he kicks the lid off.

"Huh," is the Captain's only reply. Jayne can think of a few more choice statements to make at the sight of the girl beneath the smoke wafting up from the box. He's just as stunned as the Cap though, which is proven as Simon starts to struggle in Jayne's less than iron grip. A gorram girl? That's all that Jayne can think as he readjusts his hold onto the rich runt.

"I need to check her vitals," Simon demands as he tries to force his way out of Jayne's hands.

"Is that what they call it?" Mal replies. Jayne's still trying to wrap his head around why a fancy doc like Simon would bother to drag a girl in a box out to the Rim. Man like him can afford companions; what could this little thing have that warranted the effort?

"She's not supposed to wake up for another week! The shock could .."

"The shock of what? Waking up? Finding out she's been sold to some borderworld baron? Or, I'm sorry, was this one for you? Is it true love? 'Cause you seem," Mal's rant was broken when the girl screamed bloody murder as she sat straight up in the box. Jayne was sure glad to see Zoe and Mal both jump at the creepifying sounds the came from her mouth. Spooked them too, he can't be blamed for letting go of his prisoner. Just plain unsettlin' to hear a being go on like that.

Jayne certainly didn't feel like Mal's accusations were wrong as he watches Simon go forward. Girl don't look none to happy to be receiving the doc's attentions either.

"Simon?" the girl asks as she starts to cry. "Simon, they talk to me. They want me to…to talk…"

"What the hell is this?" Mal demands. My thoughts exactly, Jayne thinks.

Simon pulls the girl fully into his arms before responding. "This is my sister."

Sister? What the rutting hell kind of passengers did Mal manage to get?

Girl from the box is safely sleeping in the infirmary with what had better be a recovering Kaylee. And Jayne almost wishes he were with 'em rather than listening to this pompous prick go on and on about himself and his sister. Who gives a good gorram how smart either of 'em are? Still dumb enough to end up on the run from the feds, so not too bright Jayne thinks as he gets up to get more coffee.

Jayne listens to the conversation flow around him after the doctor finishes his story. Mal's right, kid made a decision and brought his trouble onto their boat. Trouble they don't need, manage to find enough of it on simple jobs like their last one. Course, doesn't help that the Captain backs down to men like Badger none either.

"He didn't shoot her," Inara states.

That does it. Seems to him that people are forgetting exactly what's happened today. "No, but somebody on this boat did and I'm scratching my head as to why we ain't dealt with him."

That blows it. Everyone starts shouting. Jayne can't understand what the big deal is. They kill the fed and the problem goes away. If he can't talk, he can't ID no one. And if Jayne gets to have his fun first, won't be none too easy to ID him either.

Course, it's all kinds of entertaining to watch the boy genius doctor make another stand against Mal after the Cap'n declares how things will go. Twice in one day, this should be good. He gets more than a little pleasure out of seeing the rich face get sucker punched. Stupid idiot didn't even see it coming. Kid and his sister won't last a day out on the Rim once the Captain dumps him.

And they don't deserve to either, Jayne thinks as he turns his back on the doctor and heads into the kitchen. Hundan brought his trouble aboard and got Kaylee shot. Just as much at fault as the lawman is to Jayne's way of thinking.

Jayne can't help but remember their last dinner and what he said about Kaylee. Can't stand thinking that he might not get to hear her say that she forgives him for his stupid mouth. Can't stand thinking that if he'd just demanded that she finish talking to him before going to check the ruckus in the cargo bay, she might not be lying in the infirmary.

Jayne can think of a lot of things he's done that he ain't proud of, but one thing is certain. If Mal doesn't see to it to keep the crew safe, Jayne will.

"Are you clear on the plan Jayne?" Mal asks.

Jayne tries to resist smirking back as he replies. "Yeah I got it. Don't hurt the lawman too much, just scare him into telling us what the Alliance knows. I don't need pointers on how to do my job Mal."

"Fine then. Just make sure he ain't bleeding too much when you're done," he orders as he turns to lead the way to the passenger dorm. The lawman is sitting much as he was before he left other than a drowsy look from listening to the Preacher's bible reading. Mal glares until Book finally gives in and abandons the room. Jayne shuts the door behind the man before giving his attention to the main attraction.

Mal rips the tape off of the Fed's face before addressing the man. "I'm in a tricky position, I guess you know. Got me a boatload of terribly strange folk making my life a little more interesting than I generally like, chief among them an Alliance mole. Likes to shoot at girls's when he's nervous. Now I got to know how close the Alliance is, exactly how much you told them before Wash scrambled your call. So..I've given Jayner here the job of finding out."

On cue, Jayne pulls out his knife, Binky, and leers at Dobson with anticipation. "He was non-specific as to how," he adds in a threatening tone.

"Now you only gotta scare him," Mal stage whispers to him.

Jayne continues to grin at Dobson like he's the first woman he's seen in many years. "Pain is scary.."

"Just do it right," Mal reminds once more before he leaves the room and slides the door shut.

Jayne pays close attention to Dobson's face as he speaks. Most people probably don't realize it, but he can tell how someone is going to treat him. If they are going to threaten him or try to talk down to him. The lawman is obviously used to being in the Core where his authority means something because he tries to do both at once. Like Jayne don't know the penalty for killing a Fed. "Do you have any idea how much trouble you're in?"

Jayne sits on the chair across from the man and decides to play up the dumb ape look. "Gee, I never been in trouble with the law before.." comes the expected dumb smartass comment.

"Not like this you haven't," Dobson assures him. "You think this is just a smuggling rap? The package that boy is carrying…"

Jayne laughs. "It's a girl. She's cute too, but I don't think she's all there, y'know?" he says as he gestures to his head with his knife in the universal gesture for crazy. Gives the fed the expected ugly grin of a lecher as he continues, "'Course, not all of her has to be…"

Ahh, here it comes, the lecturing. "That girl is a precious commodity. They'll come after her. Long after you bury me, they'll be coming."

Jayne shakes his head and slaps the fed on the leg with his knife. "Oh, I'm not gonna kill you, Dobson – What's your first name?"

"Laurence," the man replies with some hesitation. Jayne doesn't blame him. Piss-poor name to be saddled with in his opinion. A sissy name.

"Laurence," Jayne says. "Naah, I'm just gonna cut on ya 'till you tell me how much they know."

"They know everything. They know every name, every record. They, they know how many nosehairs you've got," the fed babbles with clear fear that the real torturing is about to start.

Gorramit it to hell. What in the hell does it take for him to actually be able to get a little bit of violence lately? Preacher beat him to subduing the fed, he missed out on getting to hit the doc, and hell, didn't even get a chance to rough up Badger after the little man double-crossed them. This dry spell is getting downright frustrating it is. "Ah, now see – they don't know a damn thing. It's all over your face, I ain't even…." Jayne shakes his head in frustration as he moves away from the fed. "Was gonna get me an ear too. Aren't you an officer of the law? Well, don't they teach you how to withstand interrogation? Can't even tell a damn lie."

He spots it real quick like when the fed decides to change his game plan. "Okay, I can see you're not an idiot."

"Wish I could say the same, Laurence, but this is disappointing as hell."

"Let me speak the language you will understand – Money. This girl is worth a lot of money. I mean a lot," he emphasizes, not that it was necessary. He had Jayne on the first utterance of money. "You kill me, there's nothing. But if you help me out, you'll have enough to buy your own ship. And a better one than this piece of crap."

Money and his own ship. Now things are getting a bit more interesting. "Does helping you mean turning on the Captain?"

"Yes, it does."

Jayne think for a moment. Having that doc off the ship sounded pretty good and obviously his sister ain't all right. Hell, maybe that school didn't even really do anything to her and the man just kidnapped her. Being in a box for a week could explain her strangeness, that was bound to affect anyone. Besides, the Cap'n said he was dumping them on Whitefall. No sense in letting Patience and her crew take the re-ward. Or worse, just letting the buzzards get their bodies. "Okay, I'm in. What's my cut?"

"Provided that you can keep the Captain and his next in command busy on Whitefall for a bit, seventy-thirty once I'm paid."

"Seventy-thirty? You think I'm a back-berth? I'm the one taking all the risks. You'll be here with a bunch of civilians and a pilot. Fifty – fifty or no go."

"Sixty-forty, you wouldn't even have this chance if it weren't for me.

"Fine, extra is a finder's fee. But if you cross me," Jayne threatens as he slides Binky across Laurence's face. The man blanches at the threat, clearly uncomfortable given his disadvantage of being tied.

"If you would," he suggests as he turns to present his hands to the mercenary.

Jayne laughs. "You are an idiot Larry. Can I call you Larry? You get loose, both of us will be dead. Naah, I'm sure you'll figure out some way to get out of those," Jayne states as he breaks off a piece of metal from the bed. Tossing it on the floor, he nods as he starts to leave. "Just don't go leaving your room till after we land on Whitefall or there won't be any money for either of us."

Jayne heads to his room to prepare for Whitefall. He'll need everything he has to manage this. Mal and Zoe aren't stupid and won't be too easy to fool. 'Course, he'd only have more money if he just kills 'em instead of fooling them. Yeah, that might be a very plausible option depending on how events pan out.

His preparations are stopped dead as he hears Mal's voice from the intercom. Doesn't think he's ever heard the man more scared and worried before.

"This is the Captain. We're passing another ship. Looks to be Reavers. From the size, probably a raiding party.”

Tamade! Reavers!

"Could be they're headed somewhere particular, could be they've already hit someone and they're full up. So everyone stay calm."

Ain't no rutting way. He takes a deep breath as he realizes he'd frozen up at the word Reaver. Turning to the wall beside his bed, he rips the blanket off the wall. Pulls off some the deadlier weapons for which he has the most ammo. They might be full up. If they're not, he'll fill them with lead.

"We try to run, they'll have to chase us. It's their way. We're holding course. We should be passing 'em in a minute, so we'll see what they do. Zoe, you come on up to the bridge."

Jayne forces himself to concentrate on loading the bullets into Big Bertha. The feel of the metal in his hands is the only thing that keeps the hysteria away. Just focuses on putting one bullet in after another.

Soon, hours it seems like, Mal comes back on to give the all clear. The relief feels so tangible. To have to face Reavers when things were going so good, when he had the chance to make so much money. Wouldn't have been right.

But now he's antsy. Can't wait to get to Whitefall. Can't wait to finish the job. Decides to go to the bridge to see if they've made contact with Patience yet. Better than sitting here waiting to see if they were wrong about the Reavers.

On the Bridge, Wash and Zoe are talking and the Captain is nowhere to be found. Jayne stays and joins the conversation. He's glad they don't ask why. Glad he doesn't have to explain. He just doesn't want to be alone right now.

Their quiet conversation is soon interrupted by the Captain. Surprisingly, it's interrupted by the Captain wearing a smile like he just got away with egging the pearly gates. Even more unsettling, the man is laughing. Things like that just don't happen.

"That doc is such an easy mark!" Mal tells them. "You should have seen his face after I told him that Kaylee was dead! Took off like the ghosts of Hell were on his heels. Nearly fell off the catwalk I was laughing so hard!" At this point, he starts to gasp between the tears and the laughter. Everyone else on the bridge is smiling a bit, but worried.

"You are psychotic," Wash says and they all join in the laughter.

"No, but you should have seen his face. Oh…I'm a bad man," Mal declares.

Zoe asks the question they are all more than a bit wondering despite enjoying their laugh at the doc's expense. "And Kaylee's really okay?"

"Yeah, to tell the truth, I didn't expect her to heal this quick. Doctor knows his trade, I'll give him that."

Wash turns to check the console when it beeps as they all recover from the hilarity. Jayne is sad that he couldn't have seen the look on the doc's face. Was a right good joke there.

"We're being hailed," Wash informs them.

Mal nods and moves forward. "That'd be Patience. We're close enough for vid. Put her up." Wash moves so that Mal can get at the vid console. He carefully wipes off the lens before pulling up the communication screen. Soon they all get to look at Patience's leather worn face. Woman sure didn’t age well. 'Course probably her own fault for shooting at God when he was handing out looks.

"Malcolm Reynolds?"

"Hello Patience," Mal answers.

"I have to say I didn't look to be hearing from you anytime soon."

Mal grimaces at her reminder and Jayne just shakes his head. Cap'n is entirely too forgiving of the people that employ them he thinks. "Well, we may not have parted on the best of terms. I realize certan words were exchanged, also certin bullets. But that's air through the engine. It's past. We're business people. Besides, your days of fightin' over salvalge rights are long behind you, what I hear. What are you, mayor now?" There he went, sucking up to her. If Jayne were in charge, he sure wouldn't be doing gose like that.

"Just about. You telling the truth about that cargo? 'Cause your asking price is a bit too reasonable for that much treasure," the old hag says as she looks off screen.

"It's imprinted – Alliance – hence the discount."

"Oh, government goods huh? That'll do it."

"That doesn't work for ya, no harm. Just thought you could use.."

"Alliance don't scare me. Just collating data as they say. I like that you're up front about it. We can deal. I'll upload coordinates for a rendezvous point outside of town," she answered. Too easy. Ain't good when the buyer agrees that easy in Jayne's experience.

"See you in the world," Mal says before he hits the button to end the talk. He stares at the console in silence for a bit as everyone waits for his take on the conversation. "I believe that woman's planning to shoot me again."

Huh. Man ain't as stupid as he is yellow. "She meant to pay you, she'd'a haggled you down some," Jayne confirms.

Wash shakes his head as he takes his seat again. "Just a little effort to hide it would've been.." His statement is cut short by Mal knocking everything off of the side console in a fit of temper.

"Sir, we don't have to deal with her," Zoe says in an attempt to relieve the tension.

Mal replies tightly without looking at her, "Yes, we do."

"Here's a little concept I been workin' on. Why don't we shoot her first?" Jayne suggests.

Wash smiles at the idea. "It is her turn."

"That doesn't get us what we need either," Mal replies tiredly. Silently Jayne agrees. Things go right, Patience might just make his job for the fed a whole lot easier.

Zoe tries to resolve the situation again. "There's moons on this belt we ain't seen. We could try our luck…"

Mal angrily turns on her, halting her offer. "Our luck? You notice anything particular about our luck these past few days? Any kind of pattern?" he yells. Lowering his voice, but maintaining an authoritative tone, he continues while looking each of them in the eye to make sure they get his message. "You depend on luck, you end up on the drift – No fuel, no prospects…just beggin' for Alliance make-work. And towed out to the scrap belt. That ain't us. Not ever. Patience has got the money to pay and she will, one way or another. There's obstacles in our path and we're gonna deal with them one by one. We'll get through this. We will."

Jayne nods before he leaves the room. Captain was right, he'd get through this. Just wouldn't end the way he expected was all. Just had to wait for the right moment to appear on Whitefall and he'd be rich.

The preparations once they reached Whitefall were anti-climatic after all of his anticipation. He got the grunt work while Zoe and Mal scouted the valley. Sent off to bury all the cargo save one bar for show. Jayne decided that this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. If everyone got killed save him, he'd know where the cargo was and could come and retrieve it someday when he needed another payoff. And he wouldn't be so desperate as to go and kiss the hand of every petty warlord looking to make a quick buck.

No, Mal thought he was so smart and impressive for surviving the war. Jayne thought he was pretty dumb for having gotten caught up in it anyway. Was a lot of money made by mercs and smugglers during that time. Hell of a lot more than Mal and Zoe earned by being enlisted with the losing side.

Finally finished with the burying, Jayne returns the mule to the ship before heading back to the Valley. Before he can leave though, Book tells him that Kaylee wants to talk to him.

In the infirmary, he can't get over how fragile she looks. Her skin is too pale and she's just too still. Kaylee's never still. She always has energy to spare, energy to spread. "Doc said that the meet was going on."

"Yeah, we're selling it to Patience after all. Cap'n thinks he has a plan that doesn't involve his getting shot and killed."

"That's shiny. You take care of them, you hear?"

Jayne nods shyly. "I gotta go, need to be there before the meet."

Jayne tries to keep his mind on the money during his return to the Valley. On how he'd be able to buy his own ship and run it how he wanted to. How no one would ever tell him what to do ever again. He thinks he succeeds mostly.

At the valley, he jogs over to Mal and Zoe. Handing a bar to Mal, he informs them of his progress. "I buried 'em good. Equipment is safe back on the boat." After he puts the communicator in his ear and gets the mike situated he starts testing it. "Testing, Testing. Captain, can you hear me?"

Jayne is focused on his task and so doesn't see Mal's look as he replies, "I'm standing right here."

"You're coming through good and loud."

"'Cause I’m standing right here."

Jayne finally looks up and sees Zoe's bemused expression and the Cap'n's. "Yeah, well…but the transmitter's.."

Mal waves him off as he steps forward to explain the plan. Jayne tries to hide his embarrassment and anger. Soon enough Mal'd get his. "All right. Patience is gonna figure we buried the cargo. Which means putting us to our ease 'fore there's any action. She'll come at us from the east, talk the location out of us. She'll have the coin to show us first. We get it, give the location, snipers hit us from there and there," he states as he points to the likely nests.

"Figure they're in place yet?" Jayne asks.

"Should be. Feel like taking a walk around the park?"

Jayne grins in greedy anticipation. Deciding it's probably his last chance to rub some salt on the other man's wounds, he replies, "Sure you don't just wanna piss yourself and back down like you did with Badger?" Mal stares at him with that dead look he has. Jayne hopes he didn't overstep and show any of his hand. Man could be right intuitive sometimes.

"Walk soft. I want Patience thinking they're still in place. Don't kill anyone if you don't have to. We're here to make a deal," Mal orders.

Jayne nods and heads off more than a little glad to be out from under the Cap'n and Zoe's eyes. Would be nice to not be told constantly not to kill people anymore. Cap'n had been in a war, you'd figure he'd appreciate the strategy in not leaving a live enemy to strike back at you once the job was through. Jayne's philosophy was that if they weren't a friend, well there was no reason to leave 'em alive long enough to be an enemy. Just common sense really.

Jayne disabled the first sniper easy enough and then tracked the second one. After taking care of him, he set down and made himself comfortable all the while listening to Mal and Zoe's plans. Things would go well, and he'd be rich. Easy-peasy as Kaylee would say.

Patience arrived just as Kaylee came into his mind again. Jayne kept half an ear to the conversation as he waited for the signal. The rest of his mind was focused on looking at Mal through the sniper's scope. Started to wonder what would happen once he returned to the ship. There would be hell to pay for coming back without the Cap'n and Zoe. Wash, well he didn't much care for the little man, but he did need him to fly the rutting ship.

And Kaylee. She'd be heartbroken. He knew how much she cared for the Cap'n and the rest of the crew. Didn't know how much she cared 'bout him, but she loved everyone else. Thought of them as family and always went the extra mile to make sure they felt like it no matter how much the Captain grumbled. Wash said it had been a fun week or so when the Captain returned from a long protection job to find that Kaylee had spent the entire time (and more than a bit of spare coin) painting the galley and the common room. But their little mechanic had just turned on the smile and soon Mal had been acting like the kitchen had always looked like that.

And what would she do if she found out that Jayne had come back alone on purpose? He didn't know if he wanted to find out. Besides, he really had no way to keep the Fed from welshing on his promise. Would be easy enough for him to still turn all of Serenity over to the Alliance as Simon's conspirators. Then it would be their words against his.

Jayne hears the deal going sour. Kaylee's face firmly in his mind, he swings the sites over to target Patience and her band of men as Mal throws the money back to her. Listens for the sign over the comm:

"Got the money back, there's no need for killin'," Mal says.

"We're just gonna walk away sir?" asks Zoe.

"Guess that's up to Patience here. Could be messy."

"Not terribly," Patience replied with a chucle. Jayne watched as she smiled predatorily at his crewmates. "Mal, you just ain't very bright are you?"

"That's quite a rifle. Boy must be your best shot to carry that," Mal replied.

Jayne watches as Patience nods with pride. "He's called Two-Fry. Always makes it quick and clean."

"Two-Fry, nice hat," Mal signals. It takes only a second for Jayne to switch his sites from Patience to her man wearing the top hat. A heartbeat later, Two-Fry is blown off his horse as Jayne's headshot connects. The shooting starts in earnest then and Jayne is in his element. Nothing better than a good gun fight, though he'd rather be in the thick of it with Mal and Zoe down there. But he can't argue, gunplay is gunplay he thinks as he keeps picking off the men one by one.

He finally misses one as his target ducks before getting on his horse and hightailing it back to town. "Hundan!" Jayne swears.

His intent of getting a bead on Patience is interrupted by Serenity taking over his comm channel. "Jayne, get Zoe and Mal and get back to the ship now."

"We're kinda busy little man," Jayne replies as he starts to pick his shot again.

"I'm not kidding Jayne. The Reavers followed us and I'm lifting off in ten minutes!"

"Rutting hell!" Could this day get any worse? Jayne hurriedly abandons his position and quickly picks the fastest way down to the base of the valley. "Mal! It's Wash! We got a ship coming in. They followed us. The gorram Reavers followed us!"

Mal and Zoe act quickly to chase down several horses. Soon the three are riding for their lives back to the ship as fast as the horses will go. Jayne's terrified that Wash will leave them, but keeps telling himself that the pilot would never leave without his wife. Him or Mal maybe, but not without Zoe.

"Where the hell are you guys?!" Wash screams through Jayne's earpiece. Jayne winces at the loudness as he realizes he forgot to take off the communication gear. "Tamade." He'd also forgotten about Dobson. Fed should be loose by now and Jayne is really regretting his decisions. They sure as hell don't need anything to screw up lift-off. No telling how long they had till the Reaver ship reached them.

They jump off the horses just as Serenity's cargo ramp finishes lowering. Through the open doors, Jayne can see that in front of Simon, Dobson is holding a gun to little sister's head. They so don’t have time for this.

"Anybody makes so much as a …" Dobson's threat is cut off as Mal pulls his gun and shoots the Fed's head off in one clean movement. Jayne's a little stunned at Mal's coldbloodedness.

"Jayne!" Mal yells. Jayne runs to help Mal as he reminds himself not to underestimate the Captain again. He can't keep a grin of relief off his face though as he realizes no one will ever know his part in the Fed's plans.

"Wash, We're on!" Zoe says through the ship's comm as Jayne and Mal toss the body off the cargo ramp. The doors are already closing as they turn to reenter the ship. No one gives River and Simon a second thought as they all rush to the bridge.

"How close are they?" Mal demands as soon as he gets there.

"About twenty seconds from spitting distance," Wash answers as he continues to increase air speed.

"Well, lose 'em!" Jayne orders frantically.

"Give me rear vid," Mal orders. Zoe punches the vid up and everyone looks to see the Reaver ship coming up close behind.

"We're in big trouble," Zoe declares in Mandarin.

"How close do they need to be to fire those grapples?" Mal asks Wash.

At the same time, Jayne tells the pilot, "C'mon Wash, you dumbass, dodge 'em!"

"If everybody could just be quiet a moment," Wash demands as he veers hard to the right. Despite the maneuver, the Reavers are still with them and closing in the rear vid screen. "I need Kaylee in the engine room please."

Zoe looks at Mal. "Can she even?"

"Jayne, get her in there now!" Mal orders.

Jayne hurries to do so. "Serenity needs your help," he tells her as he gently picks her up. He does his best not to joggle her too much, but can't help feeling bad when he hears her gasps of pain. It's too soon for this, but can't be helped. Jayne ignores Inara and the others as he heads to the engine room as fast as he can.

Jayne just gets her arranged somewhat comfortably in a corner on the floor when Wash's voice comes over the comm. "Kaylee, how we doing? Gonna need a little push here."

"You want me to go for full burn?" she asks weakly with a cough.

"Not just yet, but set it up," the pilot's voice answers.

Kaylee looks behind Jayne to Book. "You know where the press regulator is?" When Book finds it, she smiles weakly. "Head of the class," she tells him before wincing after she coughs. Jayne hates to see her like this, but he'd hate to see a Reaver more.

"Kaylee, how would you feel about pulling a Crazy Ivan?" Wash's voice asks.

"Always wanted to try one," she answers. "Jayne, open the port jet control. Cut the hydraulics."

Jayne looks around in desperation for what she's asked for. "Where the hell is.."

"Look! Look, I'm pointing right at it."

Jayne sees where she's pointing and kneels before the nondescript box. Opening the panel on the side, he listens as Kaylee explains what needs to be done. "Okay, now it's real simple," she encourages. Jayne rolls his eyes and looks at her in disbelief when he lifts the panel off to reveal the mess of wires. He knows they'll all die now.

"Don't look at me like that Jayne. I'm gonna tell you how to do this," Kaylee reassures him with a tired smile. Jayne grimaces as he focuses back on the box. He doesn't even have the time to curse the Preacher for getting the easy job because every ounce of his concentration is taken up with following his Kaylee's instructions. His hands seem impossibly big as he pulls and reconnects the wires in the proper order. So intent on his work, he doesn't even hear Wash's frantic calls about their progress.

"There! It's done. That wasn't so hard now was it?" she asks with a huge smile before turning towards the comm to inform the bridge. Jayne gets up to help with full burn, a process he is much more familiar with. Soon the ship lurches and they all brace to stay on their feet. Then they hear the pilot demand "Now!" and jump to start the burn. The engine turns faster and noisier as the exhaust begins to glow bright orange. Then the burst of energy pushes at them and they are out of the atmostphere.

Jayne pumps his fist in the air as he whoops in relief of escaping the Reavers a second timem that day. Hearing Mal gives the all clear just increases his celebration. Book leaves to check on Inara and the others.

Once they are alone, Jayne kneels down to pick the mechanic up and take her back to the infirmary. "You did good Jayne. I knew you could do it," Kaylee told him with one of her best smiles. Before he knows it, she kisses him on the cheek.

"Aww, hell, just didn't want to get killed is all."

Kaylee leans against his shoulder as he picks her up, all relaxed in his arms. Now that they aren't in danger, he's very aware of who he's carrying and able to enjoy it. "You big old softie. I know you were worried about the rest of us too," she tells him as she wraps her arms around his neck.

Jayne starts to hope it takes a while for her to get back on her feet. He wouldn’t mind carrying her around as much as she needs. "Yeah, well, I meant what I said before. I'm sorry about what I said at dinner."

Kaylee gives him a tired smile as he sets her gently back on the examination table. "I know. Air out the engine. Just don't do it again," she warns with as much of a glare as she has energy for.

Jayne starts to leave, but she hasn't let go of his hand. "Stay with me a bit? I missed out on all the excitement and want to hear about it."

Jayne nods and sits. Smiling as he keeps her small hand in his, he starts to tell her an amended version of the days events. He's glad at how things turned out. Someday, he'll have a chance to go for that reward without losing Kaylee's friendship.

finis and happy holidays


Thursday, January 6, 2005 1:44 PM


Interesting possible take on Jayne's reason for not going through with the plan. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, January 9, 2005 1:08 PM


Nicely written take on Jayne and his motivations in the first episode. Best was the ending where Jayne rationalizes his potential future behavior. Good job!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 12:32 AM


Jayne, Jayne, Jayne.

Braver man than I to brave Kaylee's disappointment. After the hug and a kiss, I just don't see how.

Good stuff

Keep flyin'

Tuesday, September 13, 2005 7:36 AM


aaw, jayne, ya big ol' softie...


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