The Way
Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Finding your way can take you to all kinds of places. Jayne centred fic, with some canon pairings and maybe some non-canon. Still a work in progress.


Disclaimer: Joss Whedon et al own the characters, ‘verse and everything else in them. I’m only playing with his toys and not making a single bit of credit off this.

Rating: Teen and up

Summary: finding your way can take you to all kinds of places. Post-BDM.

What kind of an author would I be if I forgot the most important component: my beta reader? Many thanks to Jacqui for reviewing and suggesting.

Chapter 1

The big man shoved his hands into his pockets, not for the cold wind, but to keep them from doing something he would later regret. His ma always told him to be mindful of himself. Big boys needed to take extra care so as to not hurt those near him. How many times had he learned that lesson growing up? If it wasn’t some little kid he was running over, it was his own head banging into something he easily fit under not more than a week earlier.

Yes, his ma had done her best with the man-ape, had loved him the best she could, but in the end, he knew she was disappointed with him. Mindful of not letting too many secrets out about his occupation and past times, she had still known. How could she not? A man like Jayne Cobb was not cut out for sitting in front of a terminal reading Alliance reports all day. If his failure at early school didn’t give his ma an indication of his future then his leaving at fourteen most certainly did.

It wasn’t that he wanted to leave, not really. He was still just a boy, but in a near man’s body. People looked at him like he was older, expected more from him and generally treated him tougher than his brother Mattie. Explained a whole lot to Jayne about his brother being so sickly.

“Always were small.” He thought.

Taking another look, he lifted his head and took in the scene. Winter on Harvest was always depressing. Not much snow fell to cover the drab and mud. The earth was solid and unforgiving. And when the winds came, no man nor beast could stand straight. It was a world his grandparents had chosen, his ma had chosen and one Jayne did his best to unchoose.

Footsteps sliding across the frozen ground caught his attention. His hands remained balled in the coat pockets. Squinting, Jayne turned into the wind.

He didn’t see the slap coming, but knew who it was from. Had it been anyone else, anyone in the entire ‘verse, only blood and gunsmoke would be left of the sumbitch. He peered down at the small woman, toughened with age and geography. Lined eyes stared at the man, eyes that he saw were red and glassy. But she stood tall, proud, even as her words threatened to break her.

“You was supposed to take care a him.”

Jayne visibly grimaced, his mouth twitching. How many times in the last few weeks had he thought those very same words? He should have done something. He should have come back sooner or taken the boy away. Something. Anything.

He wanted to beg her to forgive him, but instead, he only towered. Words were just too hard.

His eyes locked on the marker, his brain still not able to comprehend what it saw. He finally released his stare and looked over to the woman, his mother. “I know.”


The landing ramp thudded down onto the dock at Boros, bringing into the transport ship the sounds and smells of another backwater planet at night. Just like every other world on the rim, Boros had its share of cultures all vying for a place in the ‘verse, if not a place in the city to practise whatever little bit of tradition that managed to survive from Earth-That-Was. Vendors hawking cheap wares and cooks frying up some meat or such was commonplace out here.

Only difference with Boros was that, this time, the crew of Serenity had legitimate cause to be here. After the Tracey incident some months back, Malcolm Reynolds was forced into finding a new postmaster. This one, woman by the name of Hendris, had filled the position nicely: did her job with no questions and no small talk. That she had red hair and an ample bosom not unlike a certain other female Reynolds had come across, not nearly as far back in the past as he would prefer, gave him only slight pause. Post was post and for his crew, had been the lifeline to family and friends that seemed too far away.

“All right, y’all.” Mal began to his crew at the base of the cargo hold. “We got bout ten hours on this rock..” He turned his attention to the incurably happy mechanic. “Kaylee, that ought to give you mor’an enough time to fix that...thingy.”

“You mean the lateral stabiliser?” She said. “The one I’ve been sayin needed fixin for almost a month now?” The joy in her voice was clear. “Ya mean I can get one?” “Yes.” She jumped up to kiss the captain on his cheek. “I just love my cap’n.” Mal rolled his eyes, but Kaylee saw the hint of a smile on his lips. He turned to the rest. “As for the rest a ya, keep yer noses clean and don’t cause no ruckus.” He headed down the ramp. “Gonna see if I can find some honest work in this place and I don’t need to be breakin’ people outta jail ‘fore it gets done, dong ma? Zoe, you’re with me.” “Sir.” The first mate followed, her long strides easily matching those of the captain. The pair made their way into the bustling throng, the humid night air quickly making their clothing sticky. They said nothing to each other, having done this routine countless times before. They would go in, find the contact, get the info or goods and get out. Only this time, they were scouting for legal transport, leastways as legal as could be had for Boros.

Mal stopped dead. “Now what did I say about you followin us, Albatross?” He turned to face River standing directly behind him. “We won’t be needin your help this time, grateful as I am for the offer.” The young woman cocked her head to the side then straightened it. “Historical precedent.” Mal closed his eyes in exasperation. “Now don’t go all remindin me bout history. May not have your smarts...” “Or charm.” She interjected with a grin. “But that don’t mean I don’t remember a thing or two about my previous dealin’s with folk in this region.” Don’t think about Prudentia, he thought. And sure as hell don’t think about Prudentia that night. River’s grin broadened. Mal bit his tongue. “Don’t go pokin about my head, girl.” Zoe stifled her own smirk at Mal’s embarrassment. “Sir?” “Yes!” He gratefully turned to his first mate, thankful at the diversion. “Our meeting?” “Right.” He faced River. “Now get to your brother.” He walked two steps before turning round. “And no killin!” River smiled then skipped away, leaving Mal to continuously wonder at how such a girl could get under his skin.

Simon beamed. There was no other way for him to look at his Angel. No matter where she went, there was happiness to be found somewhere. Now, here in this junk pile -- “Ain’t no junk pile, Simon Tam! This here’s Serenity’s paradise.” -- he couldn’t help himself. Gentle hands encircled her waist, his lips lying low on the nape of her neck. She gasped lightly as his cool breath tickled the wet spots his tongue had just left. She opened more of her neck to him, a dangling bit of metal ignored in her hand.

Truth was, she found the thrill of Simon’s touch in public to be more erotic than the touch itself. The boy had finally started to loosen up. It wasn’t just sex in the bunk or engine room anymore. The infirmary, secret cargo holds and even the galley were no longer sacred. Simon spent as much time as possible just being near Kaylee, feeling her passion against him whenever possible. He was sure that the crew was sick of their open affection, but he didn’t care. He had much time to make up for. An exaggerated cough brought the pair back to reality. “You like?” “Very much,” Simon grinned like a schoolboy, his eyes still on the mechanic. “I mean to say, you like the part?” A man pointed to the object in Kaylee’s hand.

Simon jumped back, his brain kicking in that someone was watching his display that he was sure he did not want watching. “It’s perfect.” Kaylee replied, all business-like. “So we’ll take this...” She pointed towards other items previously gathered around her “…and all of these.”

The man’s expression was happy. “Now we talk.” Simon stepped back and witnessed in awe the negotiator that was Kaylee. Her time on Serenity had honed a bartering streak in her to a fine point. She knew the value of the items and weighed it against need and Mal’s strict budget. In the end, she walked away with all items plus a little more. “You are amazing.” Simon cooed into her ear as they left. “I am, aren’t I?” She giggled. “We’ve got some time, ya know. Maybe time for...” Her eyes sparkled. “Here? Now?” Simon stopped and surveyed the surroundings. It was one thing to kiss a neck or lips, but to have sex in such a filthy, greasy yard as this was beyond his newly found freedom. “Come on.” Kaylee tugged on his hand and pulled him into the market centre, right into the fruit vendor. She stood rock solid in front of the strawberries, eyes hungry and lustful. “How much for one?”

“Sir, are you sure about this?” Zoe inquired. Mal took a drink. “Zoe, you got to stop frettin. It’ll work out.” He took another drink. “Trust me.” She answered with her typical “Yes, Sir” but without any feel of confidence. The contact was late and the bar was overly filled with what looked to be good, solid, upright Alliance citizens. She did a quick calculation and relaxed; it wasn’t Unification Day. “You’re the man then?” A voice said, sliding into the empty seat next to Zoe. He gave her the once over and she immediately felt a need to scrape all her skin off. Or a bit of time with Wash in their... She forced the words from her brain. Focus on here and now, she demanded herself. “Depends.” Mal answered. “What kind of man you lookin for?”

A toothy grin spread across the ugly man’s face. “The kind that follows the letter of Alliance law.” He leaned back. “Word is you and yours did something to right piss off the Feds. Not sure how much of a good idea that was.” He sat forward again, his arms crossed on the edge of the table. “Don’t know what it was, but that only brings a smile to my face. I know who you are, Captain Reynolds and I know that you keep your word once given.” A warning voice was telling Mal to walk away. Push the chair away, stand, turn and walk out the door. “Relax, Captain. I’m no Fed.” He gestured around the room. “Have to make appearances convincing, wouldn’t you agree?” “I’m sorry, but was there a part I missed, like you tellin me what the gorram hell you are doing sitting there interruptin my quest for honest transport? I was told there’d be some work, but this don’t sound much like it.” “Easy, Captain. I have a job for you. Very simple. Very easy.” The warning voice was yelling. Had he looked to Zoe, he would have seen her uneasiness. “I only want information.” Mal sat back, sliding a leg out from under his chair. “What makes you think I’ve got any?” The man shrugged. “Cortex is buzzing with rumours about how it’s possible that a whole planet could be habitable with no one in the ‘verse knowing.” “And this causes you talkin to me how?” “Because I know that ship bout your size was attacked by a navy of Alliance warships and survived the attack. Survived and walked away with nary a scratch. Now how does that happen unless you’ve got something over Them, something They don’t want you to be telling people about.” Zoe bit her tongue. Was more than a scratch you hun dun. “T’would seem to me.” Mal said in close. “That you’ve got all the information you could possibly want. And that you’ve got the wrong captain.” He stood and looked to Zoe. “Best check in with the postmistress.” Mal and Zoe moved to leave when Mal felt the man grab his arm. Without pausing, Mal had twisted and reversed the grip. “You have one option here, friend, so you best think hard on whether or not to use it.” Mal’s whispered voice was loud in the man’s ear. The man’s face was pained, but he made no cry out. No one seemed to notice the tiny skirmish. “What’s the name of the planet?” Mal’s brow narrowed. That’s what this go se wanted to know? How long had he’d been out in the black that this weren’t common knowledge? The captain released his hold, the man immediately cradling his arm. “People will pay for that knowledge, Captain. I will.” As proof, he handed over a fifty credit piece. “For your time.” Dipping his head, he left. Mal pocketed the money and quickly left.

He sometimes wondered if Inara did anything like what he did. He took in a woman, sexed her up, enjoyed it, then would do it again. Hell, that’s pretty much what the Companion did, wasn’t it? Except that he doubted she enjoyed it nearly as much as he did. He reckoned that few people in the whole ‘verse loved sex the way he did. God, he loved it! Just gorram loved it! There was nothing better than looking at those breasts, tracing the circles on them, moving down to the ticklish part of her tummy and further down to the nethers. He relished the feel of her body moving in motion with his; the pumping and trembling until the final release. Practise had made perfect and Jayne knew how to make a woman feel perfect. Though he’d never admit it, he always wanted the woman to enjoy him as much as he enjoyed her. If a man couldn’t please his woman, he wasn’t a man, his first Captain had instructed him all those years ago. That had been about the only advice that moron had imparted worth holding on to. That and to never have a gun more than arm’s reach away. He received two bullet scars in learning that lesson. Still, he did wonder, his arms holding his body over the woman - what was her name? - so as to avoid crushing her, his member pushing into her with mutual groans of pleasure. Did Inara yell? He doubted it. Wouldn’t be very civilised to howl like a banshee. Course Jayne didn’t yell either, but he sure did groan an awful lot.

With one final thrust, the whore cried out. He side grinned, his manly duty finished. Now if only the air conditioner worked in this gorram building, he’d feel even better. As it was, the sweat dripped from his brow, down his temples and along his nose. Drops landed on her neck as he slide himself out and leaned back on his knees. He roughly wiped his forehead with an equally wet forearm.

“Need some cool air.” He breathed heavily. “There’s ice...over there.” The whore looked to the dresser and the containment unit. Jayne rose, letting the air play over his body as he opened the case and popped in a couple of cubes into his mouth.

“Me, too.” She said, leaning against the headboard. He tossed one and she slid it across her chest and neck. “Mmm.” Jayne cocked an eyebrow. He was about to say something about another round when he heard the chime of a clock down the hall. He’d been here nearly two hours. Mal said ten hours on planet, that left... He grinned.


The bed was warm and hard. The pillow was old. The room hadn’t been redecorated since the Captain had taken ownership. And if she breathed the right way, she could smell the former, former occupant. She wrinkled her nose, eyes closed; he hadn’t believed in soap. Without opening her eyes, River turned her head on the pillow and reached her arm out. Touching the wall, she smiled. The ship sang a happy song. Serenity sang during times like this when everyone was content. She was doing all that Kaylee asked, no one was trying to ram her and those horrid, horrid creatures were no longer on her skin, searing and painful. The black was empty and calm and Serenity liked that best. “This will be a good day for you.” River said, sitting up. “Today you will know freedom. Today you will know love.” She fingered the wall once again. “I love you.” “I love you, too, River.” Simon said walking in. River turned and scowled.

“Oral hygiene is of paramount importance when rations are questionable.” “I’ll be sure to remember that.” He answered, not entirely sure why River was scolding him about tooth brushing. Like most everything else about him, Simon took great pride in maintaining his teeth and to have River question that was strange. Kaylee, though, hadn’t said a word. “And also when having oral relations with others.” River added then bounded out of the bed to the communal head.

Simon brought his hand to his mouth, his face turning a little more than red.

When the Captain announced the short stay at Boros, River nearly fell over from the wave of relief that came from the crew. She knew that they had spent too long in the black and were desperate to find land and blue sky. Sitting on her chair, she broke into a grin. Breakfast that morning became a little more joyful despite the dried out protein packs. Without looking up from the soupy protein ‘cereal’, she continued to smile as the thoughts of time off ship came as colours off the crew. Kaylee was red with passion; Simon glowed orange with some cool blue. River frowned slightly. Too much worrying about her was bad for him. Even worse were his thoughts of finding more facilities to help her. The white hot from Jayne returned her grin; some trim would do him good. Inara felt gold; shiny and hard exterior, but soft if given the right amount of heat. Zoe was...grey, just like always since Miranda. She wanted to turn colour, but grey was safe and blah. The Captain, now he was indigo; he could go from seawater blue to rich violet quickly enough depending on the situation around him. Now, she decided, he was seawater blue, like the captures of the ocean off Australia from Earth-That-Was. Life was in those waters, but you had to know where to go to avoid the sharks. Somewhere in the back of her head, a tickle really, was the feeling of dark. Not dark like Early or Dobson, but like That Man. This dark was going to bring pain. She eyed Jayne who was regaling the crew with some silly joke about sex, dogs and a bartender.

The dark was coming.


“Gorram it!” Mal cursed.

Where in hell was Jayne? These crates weren’t about to move themselves from the post to the mule. He started to wish that he had the crazy girl’s reading abilities to tell him where the mercenary was right about now. He paused; no, he didn’t need to know exactly where, given that it had been some time since they’d made planetfall and Jayne being Jayne, well, he got the picture quite clearly. “Hey, Cap’n,” Kaylee called, the bounce in her step noticeable. The Captain chuckled. The bounce in the doctor’s step was even more noticeable. “Got that part an all this stuff with it. Real cheap.” Mal held out his hand which Kaylee briefly examined. “Weren’t nothin left over.” She grinned. Mal’s eyebrows went up and he glanced towards Simon. Simon only shrugged. “Strawberries.” Mal stifled a sigh, but said nothing. Keeping the ship’s mechanic happy meant a happy ship. He grabbed the box of mechanical supplies and loaded them onto the mule. He then tossed a brown wrapped package to Kaylee. “This came for you, Kaylee.” She positively squealed when reading the return address. “It’s from my folks!” She beamed up at Simon. “Wonder what they sent?” Simon unloaded his own box of materials. “Open it up.” From seemingly nowhere, River poked her head over Kaylee’s shoulder. “You’ll like it.” She said with a smile. “Teddies.” “River!” Simon chastised, visions of lingerie type teddies flashing before his eyes and the concurrent horror that his sister would be aware of such things. “And where did you go to? You can’t be alone here. If the Alliance discovers-” “Oooh.” Kaylee interrupted Simon’s scolding and dropped the box and showed off the handmade jacket with a teddy bear on each chest pocket. “Isn’t it just the shiniest?” She held it up for all to see, her smile nearly blinding them. Simon, of course, returned the smile. “It’s very... original.” He waited for a response, fearful that Kaylee would take his meaning the wrong way. He still shuddered at his bungled joke at the Bessie exhibit. “Ain’t it?” She thrust it towards the Captain, her face expectant with praise. “Sure not likely to keep you warm.” He said, his attention still on mule. Kaylee’s face dropped a little. “It’s a wonderful gift, Kaylee.” Inara commented as she slid in from the crowd. “Because it’s from home.”

She now stood next to the younger woman. Briefly, she eyed Mal. He had been remarkably restrained these last few weeks, even more so when she announced a client would be waiting for her in the city. Not one whore joke. She wondered if Mal might be going insane. “Home.” Kaylee sighed then put it on. “Fits real good.” She pulled the bottom edge down and looked to Simon. “Whaddya think?” Hadn’t I already answered that question? he thought. He briefly looked to Zoe, her arms crossed and an expectant look of ‘Go ahead, Doc, tell the girl what you really think.’ He swallowed and stared at his girl in her new favourite jacket. He couldn’t help but smile again. She glowed. There was no other way to describe her joy of having something come from home. He reached for her hand.

“I think that something that brings you such happiness can only be beautiful.” Zoe’s eyes widened in amazement. River clapped. Inara’s face softened after only lightly showing mild tension over what Simon could possibly say. Mal rolled his eyes.

“Come on, people. They’ll be time enough for fashion shows once we get on board.” He finished with the last box onto the mule then checked once again to feel the coins in his pocket. Of the fifty credits he received for his “information”, only six were left. Figured it was time to give the crew a little treat where food was concerned so he splurged on some fresh vittles. Climbing onto the mule, Mal, Zoe, River and Inara headed back to the ship. Simon and Kaylee walked together as she read the enclosed letter detailing the latest comings and goings from home.

The boxes were unloaded and the mule was put away before the loving couple returned. Jayne, however, was still not to be found. Mal was more than a little peeved. “I swear, if Jayne decides t’haul his ass in this general direction, he’ll be wishin-” “Don’t be gettin yer panties in a knot, Mal. I’m a here.” The merc walked up the ramp, looking none the worse for wear, even a little springy. “We get any food?” Zoe eyed Mal who decided, for the moment, to ignore the hired gun’s self-obsession. “Get the mule up. We’ll be takin off soon as-” “I’m here!” River interrupted with glee. “Bwah!” Mal jumped. “Yer about to give this captain a gorram heart attack ya keep sneakin up in such a way.” Taking a breath, he continued. “Get on up to the cockpit and prep the ship for takeoff. Kaylee, if ya can get it inta yer head to break your hold on the doc and get t’the engine room, it would be most appreciated.” “Sure, Cap’n.” She snuck one more kiss from Simon before pulling him towards the innards of the ship. River didn’t do as instructed. Rather, she pulled the package from behind her back and held it out to Jayne, who had just finished hoisting the mule to the top of the cargo hold. “I got post?” Jayne nearly smiled. He snatched the package, oblivious to the sudden mood change in the girl. He examined the address then looked to the trio. “From my ma.” Visions of orange, pom-pomed hats floated past Mal’s eyes. “Shiny, now get t’where ya need to be.” He headed to the cockpit, Zoe moving to the galley with the bag of food and Jayne went to his bunk. River watched him amble off as he shook the small box wondering what might be inside. “Dark. Dark and cold.” Taking one final stare, River went to cockpit.


He wasn’t much for soft emotions. Crying was for women and younguns. But as Jayne sat on his bunk, he felt the tears form, blurring the paper hanging loosely in his hand. No hat or other knitted object had found its way inside. Only a slip of paper with a bunch of words; only two mattered.

The ship was singing again. She was in the black, filled with people who loved her and no extra demands were on her. The Captain had left to see what meal preparations were being done leaving River alone in the co-pilot’s seat.

She drew her legs into her chest, her toes curling over the edge. Her cheek leaned on her knees and tears fell from her eyes as two words played in her mind: Mattie’s dead.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006 7:37 PM


This is some mighty emotional stuff you got here, ArtemisPrime...excellent. Hope there will be more to this story, espcially on how Mattie died and some healing for the Hero of Canton.

Oh...and any hope for some Rayne, even if it's just River helping Jayne deal with his sibling's death?


Wednesday, March 15, 2006 4:09 AM


Good start to the story. I liked the to & fro of the timeline. Hope to see more.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 8:25 AM


Wow, brilliant! And with that man wanting to know the planet's name and pay for it giving me the gorram creeps I'm so happy they are off that rock but luck being what it is, I think something not so shiny will be happening soon. Loved Simon feeling his way with Kaylee and actually getting it right! Poor, poor Jayne and poor River feeling everyone's emotions so keenly. Very shiny, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 11:29 AM


While I'm not big on NC17 fanfics,(I feel it should be implied as opposed to graphic) I liked this one.

Nice characterizations & good flow.

Well done!

Thursday, March 16, 2006 2:10 AM


Fantastic stuff. I'm well known for liking anything with Jayne in it (excluding slash *cringes* - our merc ain't sly!), but this is exceptionally well written.

Always figured there was somewhat of a backstory concerning the Cobb family. I'm interested in finding out what your take on it is.

Please write more.

Friday, March 31, 2006 10:47 AM


Excellent job AP - Knew I'd like it. On to chapter 2!

Thursday, May 11, 2006 2:54 PM


forgot to sign it. but that was me above.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 1:21 AM


*whimpers* poor jayne...


Sunday, October 29, 2006 10:12 PM


Oooh, good, very good. More, please!



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