Swann in Flight series Part 1-6
Sunday, January 15, 2006

A new job brings up Jayne's past, forcing Mal to alter his plans and send Jayne, Simon and River to Jayne's mother for safekeeping. Eventual Rayne pairing


This story is incomplete. More of the series will be posted as soon as its written. The rating will eventually go as high as NC-17. Feedback would be appreciated.


Kaylee brushed her hair out of her eyes as she walked into the galley from where she had been working on the reg couple in the engine room. The first thing she saw was River curled up on the couch reading from a handheld monitor.

“Watcha read’n?” Kaylee asked.

“A romance novel written by Judith Lightner.” River answered.

“Don’t think I’ve ever read that un.” Kaylee replied walking over to the table where Simon was eating a bowl of protein mush, and Jayne was cleaning a few of his guns.

“Its one of River’s favorite novels. Inara downloaded it from the Cortex for her.” Simon explained.

“Romance novels,” Jayne snorted in contempt.

“Oh I think they’re shiny. What’s it about?” Kaylee asked.

“Some gorram fool falls in love with another gorram fool and probably gets kilt in the end.” Jayne said as he oiled Vera’s barrel.

Ignoring Jayne, Simon answers, “As I remember a Companion from Londinium falls in love with one of the newest slaves that her guild house acquired. She rescues him and together they run away never to be heard from again.”

“Oh that’s so sweet! She gave up all that wealth and prestige for him.” Kaylee smiled at Simon and ignored the contemptible snort from Jayne.

“As I understand it the Guild still has a price on her head.” Inara says as she walks into the galley.

“You mean the story’s real?” Kaylee asked her.

“Oh yes. It happened nearly forty years ago. Ariedne Swann’s story is taught to all trainees warning them of what happens when we lose our objectivity. Judith Lightner was also a Companion, a friend to Ariedne, who wrote the novel, Swann in Flight, after she retired some twenty years after Ariedne and the slave disappeared. She was ostracized by the Guild for writing the novel.”

“That’s not right.” Kaylee said as she filled her bowl with the protein mush from the pan on the stove.

Inara shrugged, not willing to get into the debate with Kaylee.

“I wonder what happened to them.” Kaylee said wistfully.

“Home, hearth, children, loss, pain, joy, “ River said. They all looked at her, even Jayne. When she said nothing more, they all went back to eating, except Jayne who continued to look at River. She looked back at him and winked finishing, “and love.”

Jayne lowered his eyes and went back to taking care of his girls trying not to look back at those knowing dark eyes.


Mal and Zoë returned to the ship after having met with a former Browncoat who had hailed them a few days before about a job. Jayne had stayed behind because the old friend of Mal and Zoë’s didn’t like mercs at all.

When they came back on board Serenity, Jayne was hanging upside down from the cats doing sit-ups. Kaylee was working on the mule, which had sprung a leak in its hydraulics, and River was sitting on the cats beside Jayne’s legs watching him.

“Did you get the job?” Kaylee asked upon seeing their return.

“That we did, mei mei.” Mal said as Zoë walked over to the comm.

“Wash take us out, set a course for Hades.” Zoë told her husband.

“Hades.” Jayne said stopping his workout and staring at them from his upside down position. “What are we going to that go se planet for.”

“To talk to a local businessman about some cargo he needs hauling.” Mal answered glancing over at Jayne then back to Zoë before looking back at the hanging mercenary as if he was seeing something he couldn’t quite understand. Shaking his head, he started up the stairs to head for the bridge with Zoë at his heels.

On the cats Jayne did one last sit up and grabbed the bars of the rails and hauled himself up onto his feet.

“You should tell them. Surprises aren’t good.” River said.

Jayne glared down at the feng le girl. “Stay outa my head.” He growled then turned to follow the captain. She may be feng le, but she’s right, Jayne thought. Captain don’t like surprises at all.

He reached the bridge only a few seconds behind Mal and Zoë. “Mal, I gotta talk to ya ‘bout this job.”

Mal turned to look at Jayne, “What there a big gorram statue of you at Hades I should know about?”

“No, nuttin like that.” Jayne replied running a hand through his hair nervously. Mal noticed that Jayne looked uncomfortable with the subject.

“Well spill it out before we get to Hades.” Mal said.

“I can’t go with ya on this job, Mal. Ya take me, and ya won’t get the job.”

“Why is that, Jayne?” Zoë asked.

“People there don’t like me none. Guess ya can say they hate me. They won’t do business with ya if they know I was on your crew.”

“Cross another magistrate?” Mal asked.

“I kilt a man there.” Jayne answered after a few seconds of silence.

“Jayne, I am pretty sure you’ve killed lots of men, your line of work and all. Exactly who did you kill to get a whole gorram planet mad at ya.” Mal asked.

“Was a businessman. Real rich, fanciful type. Gave money ta charities and such ta stay on everyone’s good side. He’s gotta son would love ta string me up since they didn’t before.” Jayne said.

“I don’t know much about the law on Hades, but I do believe murder’s still a hanging offense, so why didn’t they?” Mal asked.

“Cause they don’t hang twelve year old boys.” Jayne answered.


He didn’t ask. He wanted to, and at the same time he didn’t. Mal wasn’t sure if he wanted to know that Jayne had been born bad or if not what had made him bad. It was enough to know that Jayne was essentially a bad guy. He didn’t rape women or murder children, but Mal was never sure that Jayne wouldn’t do any of that if there were enough money involved. No, Mal thought, a man who loved his mama as much as Jayne does has to have some redeeming qualities.

A man’s past was his own and Malcolm Reynolds was not one pry when there was no need. Jayne had given him enough information to be able to change his plans and still get the job: something they needed badly with the Alliance pushing further out into the Rim worlds and Serenity having a couple of fugitives on board.

After Jayne had told them what they needed to know, Mal ordered him to find something to do off the bridge so that Mal and Zoë could discuss their options while her husband, Wash piloted the ship.

Several minutes of putting their heads together, and they came up with a plan.

Mal decided to wait till supper when everyone was together so that he didn’t have to repeat himself. Something he hated to do.

A few hours later, the crew of Serenity were seating themselves around the table in the mess to avail themselves of the food that Shepard Book had prepared.

“Jayne, I take it your ma still lives on Hades?” Mal asked.

Rather than answer through a mouthful of food, Jayne nodded to which Mal was grateful. “Good. If you don’t think she would mind visitors then I am going to take shuttle two and drop you and our resident fugitives off at your ma’s place then head back to Serenity to get our job.”

Jayne choked on his food.


“Mal, I don’t think it a good idea to take them with me.” Jayne told Mal as they headed away from the mess supper having been concluded for the evening.

“That’s your problem right there, I don’t pay you to think. We need this job and I ain’t going to lose this job on account of my hired merc having problems with the locals. You said your ma won’t mind visitors and I don’t trust our contact not to squeal to the Feds if they see the Tams. So get used to the idea of taking em with ya.”

“Ah Mal, it ain’t that ma would mind much, but…” Jayne trailed off nervously.

“But what?” Mal said stopping at the hatch to his room.

“My mama lives in a whorehouse in Cerberus.” Jayne finished.

“A whorehouse?” Mal said. “You never told me your ma was a…”

“Well it ain’t exactly something you say to a man. Besides my ma is retired. She lives there, she don’t work there. My sister, Mattie, owns the place. And no she ain’t no whore, just a businesswoman.” Jayne explained.

“Simon and River’s been in a whorehouse before. I think they’ll survive this one, long as nobody is looking to steal some whore’s unborn baby. And besides which that’s your job to see that they do survive.”

“But, Mal…”

“Its decided, Jayne, ain’t no more discussion needed.” And with that Mal opened the hatch to his room and climbed down.

Jayne stomped off to the bridge to begin his turn at night watch growling beneath his breath


When Serenity made it to Hades, Mal had Wash put her into a wide orbit, while Jayne got shuttle 2 prepped. Mal then piloted Shuttle 2 into atmo to land her on the outskirts of the settlement of Cerberus.

Jayne, Simon and River gathered their bags and left the shuttle. Jayne had a comn unit on him so that Mal could contact him when the job was done.

When they were far enough away from the shuttle, Mal took off to meet Serenity at the spaceport in the capital city of Sisyphus.

Jayne watched the shuttle leave, then turned to look at the doc and his crazy sister. Both of them were looking off in the distance toward the settlement that Jayne has spent the first ten years of his life in.

With an inward sigh, Jayne hefted his duffel bag over his shoulder and gruffly said, “Let’s go.”

Simon and River followed Jayne as the big merc set off toward the buildings silhouetted against the sky. The distance wasn’t far, but they had timed it so that they would enter the town at night.

The White Swan was a three-story building sitting just on the outskirts of the town. The front of the building faced the settlement, its hand carved sign boldly proclaiming its name. A tall wooden fence that surrounded a huge expanse of land obscured the sides and back of the house.

Jayne did not lead them to the front entrance, instead he had purposefully walked in a direction that allowed the fence and the building itself to hide their entrance from the settlement. At the fence, Jayne unlatched the gate and swung it open motioning the two siblings to precede him. Once Simon and River were through the gate, Jayne entered and shut the gate behind him.

The backyard was lit with torchlights enough so that Simon could see that the yard was more of a garden. There were rows of plants that Simon recognized as tomatoes, beans, corn, okra, squash and potatoes. There were also some rose bushed planted along the wall of the building and climbing vines along the fence. The rest of the yard’s grounds were covered in grass and shaded by five trees all fruit bearing.

The three Serenity crew members continued walking toward the building and climbed the wooden steps to the wide porch with its porch swing and lounge chairs. The door opened at Jayne’s quiet knock to reveal a woman in her early twenties standing a little shorter than Simon with brown hair and Cobb blue eyes. She smiled at the sight of her brother and moved to put her arms around him.

“Jayne,” she crowed in delight as Jayne hugged her to him.

“Hey Mattie, “ Jayne answered back.

“Mother is going to be so happy to see you.” She said as she pulled back from the hug.

“Be good ta see her ‘gain.” Jayne replied.

“Oh were are my manners.” Mattie Cobb said and turned her smile on Simon and River. “Hello there, I am Matilda Cobb, welcome to the White Swann.”

“It is a pleasure to be here, madam.” Simon said his Core manners coming to the fore at the surprisingly well-spoken words of Mattie Cobb. “I am Simon and this is my sister, River.”

“Well come on in. Supper should be ready. I had the girls set the upstairs dining table.” Mattie said gesturing for them to enter.

The backdoor led into the kitchen where a large matronly woman was overseeing the preparations for supper by three young women who were obviously not whore, but undercooks.

Mattie led them to a hallway where some stairs took them up to the third floor where Mattie, their mother, and a personal maid lived. The maid was an older woman who helped care for Jayne and Mattie’s mother.

There were a couple of empty guest rooms on the third floor that Mattie showed them. They were each given their own small but functional room.

While Simon and River got washed for supper, Jayne went to see his mother.


Jayne knocked lightly on the door to his mother’s room and waited for the maid to open to the door. Ms. Harrigan, an older matronly woman, was quick to give Jayne a welcoming hug. Jayne endured it and then asked her about his mother.

“She’s doing good, Jayne. She’ll be happy to see you.” Ms. Harrigan said.

Jayne only nodded at that and entered the room.

Ariedne Cobb stood when her only son entered the room. Her eyes shone with unshed tears and Jayne felt uncomfortable like he always did when his ma got emotional. He ignored his uncomfortableness not wanting to make his mother feel worse than she always did upon seeing her first-born child and gathered his mother into a warm hug.

“Now don’t you be cry’n now, ma. I ain’t hurt or nuttin.” He whispered to her.

“I know, Jayne. Its just so good to see you.” Ariedne said as she hugged her son tight to her.

They held that pose for a few moments; each glad to know the other was there, healthy and whole, then stepped back to look at each other. Jayne then helped his mother to one of the plush chairs and seated himself in another chair beside her.

“Where are your friends?” Ariedne asked.

Jayne winced at the idea of the Tams as his friends, but only said, “Mattie showed em to their rooms.”

“So what brings your ship to Hades, Jayne?” Ariedne asked.

“Captain got a job waiting fer em, cargo haul’n most like. Told ‘em he wouldn’t git the job if’n I was with em.”

“And your friends?”

“They’re fugies. Doc stole his sister from some Alliance lab. They wuz play’n with her brain and such. Made her a mite crazy. But jus talk’n crazy and such, not violent or nuthin. “ Jayne lied not bringing up the time River had decided to slash Jayne with a butcher knife.

“They should be alright here. The girls won’t turn them in. We’ll just have to keep all of you out of sight of the customers.”

“Sheriff Banning still come out here?” Jayne asked.

“Yes. But it’s not just him. Some of the old ranch hands from Sisyphus come down here to spend their pay.”

“Aaron still running his daddy’s ranch? Would’ve thought he’d sell that place. Never saw ‘em as much of a rancher.”

“He isn’t. The place is losing money more than its making money. Aaron isn’t the businessman his father was, the hundan. That ranch is on its last legs.”

“Good.” Was all Jayne said. Ariedne didn’t call him on it.

“How is life out in the black?” Ariedne asked after an awkward moment of silence.

“Just fine. I see ya’ll been using them credits I sent fer some good.”

“Mattie was able to add this third story to the building and build the fence around the yard. The vegetable garden keeps us from having to buy from the local farmers. But you know you don’t have to keep sending us credits, Jayne. The place is doing very well.”

“Ah if’n I kept the money I’d waste on booze and…” He trailed off.

Ariedne smiled, “Whores?” She laughed, “Oh Jayne you should know by now that word doesn’t offend me. I remember that back on Londinium the other Companions would be so affronted by that word. As if being a Companion was something entirely different. It’s the same thing, just different pay.”

Jayne smiled at his mom, “Think Inara would argue different. She don’t like it none when Mal calls her that.”

“Mal is using the word as a curse rather than a noun. No doubt that is why she gets offended. I would love to meet Inara Serra, but of course I can’t.”

“Don’t think ‘Nara would turn ya in, Ma. She runs with criminals and thieves now.”

“Can’t take that chance, Jayne. For both our sakes.”

Jayne nodded. The Guild hadn’t taken too kindly to having their property stolen especially not by a guild member. If his ma got caught, she would have to pay the Guild back the price of their property along with a lengthy jail sentence. As the son of a slave, despite his age, the guild would consider him their rightful property. Jayne didn’t like that idea too much.


Jayne’s sister had shown Simon and River to their rooms leaving them to unpack while she went to check on dinner.

Simon looked around the room that he had been assigned while he dropped his pack on the bed. The room was not much larger than his quarters on board Serenity, but the bed looked more comfortable and was considerably larger. Simon tried not to think about why the bed should be larger.

“I can’t believe Jayne grew up in a whorehouse.” Simon said to no one in particular so he was startled when River spoke up behind him.

“Lycomedes’ court.” She said. “Perfumed bosums and lacey curtains hiding the armor. Names hiding from Odysseus.”

Simon had turned to look at his sister the moment she spoke. Though he recognized one of the names she had spoken, Simon couldn’t understand the context. Shrugging inwardly to himself he knew that wouldn’t be the first time that River’s metaphorical statements flew over his head.

“Yes, the curtains are definitly lacey.” Simon said nodding to the offending items.

River rolled her eyes and said, “You are such a boob.” And with that she walked out of Simon’s room.

Simon watched her go and then laughed.


“Here ya go, Ma.” Jayne said as he handed her a small box he removed from his duffle bag. “Saw this at a frippery store in Persephone.”

“Jayne you don’t have to bring me gifts.” She took the box and opened the lid withdrawing the small crystal from inside. The light from the chandelier refracted of the crystal’s multifaceted surface and produced a rainbow on the nearby wall. The flaw in the crystal had created a prism within its depths.

“Oh Jayne, how lovely.” She exclaimed twirling the crystal on its silver chain watching the rainbow move from wall to wall.

“Figured ya would like it.” Jayne said.

“Its beautiful. Reminds me of the crystals we used to have hanging in the Companion House on Londinium.”

“Wishin I could bring you those, but we ain’t been to the Core except Ariel. Ifn we ever do, I’ll be sure and see bout get’in one of ‘em.” Jayne said with a wicked smile on his face.

Ariedne looked at him with a glare ruined by the humor dancing in her eyes, “ Jayne Cobb you stay away from the Guild House. I know you to well. You would steal their crystals out from under their noses and probably a few hearts while you were at it.”

Jayne laughed at that and Ariedne joined her son in the laughter.

“Jayne you are too much like your father.”

“Wish’n I coulda known him.” Jayne said.

“He was a good man. I think he felt guilty about not being able to give me what he thought I was accustomed to. And then when he got sick…if I hadn’t been pregnant with you, I am not sure I would have handled his death as well as I had. He felt guilty that he had brought me all the way out here only to leave me with a child to raise. I told him that I would rather have him and our child than all the riches in the Core.” There were tears in her eyes as she thought of her husband, dying from a wasting sickness while she herself was six months pregnant with Jayne.

Jayne pulled his mother into a hug. “He knew Ma, I know he knew.”

“I tried Jayne. I know I failed you as a mother, and I am so sorry.”

“Ah Ma, don’t be going inta that. I done told ya once, you was a good mother, tain’t your fault what happened. My fault, should have stayed where I was supposed ta. “

Ariendne pulled back from him and gripped his face in her strong hands, “Don’t you ever say that, Jayne Cobb. You were not at fault. You did nothing to deserve it, and it was not your fault. You were just a ten year old boy. It was his fault and partially my fault, but you were never, never at fault.” She said forcefully refusing to back down, refusing to allow her son to feel guilt for having come looking for his mother when she had cried out in pain.


Sunday, January 15, 2006 7:50 AM


Good job. I'm really interested. Cant wait for the next post.

Sunday, January 15, 2006 4:13 PM


OOHH!! More, more!!!

Monday, January 16, 2006 7:12 AM


Ooh, romance and intrigue! More please.


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