BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

ARTEMISPRIME

The Way Chapter Two
Thursday, March 23, 2006

Jayne makes a decision that Mal seems intent on avoiding. Zoe realises a truth, River feels the truth and Kaylee is just beginning to discover the truth. Work in progress. Please let me know what you think, good, bad and the ugly.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1656    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

The Way Chapter Two - by ArtemisPrime

Disclaimer: All things related to Firefly/Serenity are the property of Joss Whedon et al. I’m not making any monetary credit off this. Just playin’ is all.



The morning was cold, leastways colder than he was accustomed to. He could see his breath frosted in the air and his mug of coffee steamed in his gloved hand. He pulled his coat further around him with his free hand as a shiver went up his spine.

The world was quiet this morning without even a bird to break the silence. Pausing in his scan of the rough landscape, Mal could hear footsteps, heavy on the metal floor, from inside. He took a sip of the drink and let it warm his insides.

“Decision’s done, then?” he asked as Jayne took his spot near the Captain.

“Yep,” came the slow reply.

Mal nodded casually as though this were an everyday occurrence. He finished the rest of his coffee then faced the mercenary. “All right then.”

Jayne re-positioned his rucksack on his shoulder. He never much cared for saying good-bye and this time was no different. “Well.” He cast his eyes down, not focussing on anything in particular.

“Well.”

With a quick look to the eye and nod, Jayne tromped down the landing plank once more re-positioning his pack. Mal watched him a moment then hit the close button. He didn’t quite understand what he was feeling at that moment, whether it was relief or sadness, but he knew that decisions, once made, were best left to be carried out.

Jayne never turned when he heard the engines rev louder for take-off nor when he felt the gust of updraft as the ship went into atmo. No, he had someplace else he needed to think on. Past was done; no sense in thinking any more on it.

For one moment, though, Jayne allowed himself a little remembrance. No guns this time, he thought. Words were passed and now the deal’s done. Weren’t nothin’ to it.

But there was something to it, he could feel it in his gut. This wasn’t like the last time he changed locales; no gunplay or threats of imminent death. He’d said his bit to Mal and it was over. Weren’t ever done so easily before. Yet he knew that this wasn’t going to be easy, not by a long shot.

Only when he reached the small house over the rise did he stop his thinking. Opening the squeaky door, he dropped his pack just inside the doorway.

“Jayne?” His ma called from the back kitchen. “That you?”

“Yeah, Ma.” He pulled off his coat and tossed it onto the nearby chair. “It’s me.”



Before...

The laughter from the galley was more than Jayne could tolerate at this particular moment. All he’d wanted to do was breeze on past, head down, and lift some weights. Strange that a rush of adrenaline would calm his nerves, but somehow it did. He remembered after losing the Shepherd that he’d spent the better part of a week in the cargo hold, pumping and pushing the bits of iron up and down or pulling himself up on the handholds under the catwalk. That kind of work was clean and simple. It let him focus his mind on the burn in his arms and other muscles rather than the burn in his heart. He missed the Shepherd something fierce. Not especially religious, Jayne did respect what the preacher had done and how he was the peace that allowed the ship to function. More precisely, had allowed Mal to function. Even dumb old Jayne could see the change in the Captain since Book’s passing.

Right now, he needed that peace once again.

But no, there were three of them, Inara, Simon and Kaylee, sitting at the end of the table laughing about some such or other.

“Hi, Jayne,” Kaylee called. “Want some wine?” She gestured to the open jug. “Fresh from last week.”

Jayne scowled and kept on walking. Kaylee looked puzzled until she felt the nuzzle of Simon’s lips on her neck and hair. She giggled. “We should invite Jayne. He’s got plenty a jokes.”

Inara raised an eyebrow. “Perhaps, but I doubt that even your wine could lessen the vulgarness of them.” She took a sip.

“Oh Inara, that’s just Jayne,” Kaylee answered. “Deep down, I’ll bet he’s good.” She scrunched her ear to her shoulder as Simon hit an especially sensitive spot. “Course, he ain’t the only one.” She eyed the doctor seductively.

Without pause, Simon rose, grabbed Kaylee’s hand and the pair strode very purposely to his bunk. “Bye, Inara,” Kaylee called out. “Good talkin t’ya.” Her giggles echoed down the passageway.

The Companion smiled and finished her drink. She removed herself from the table, rinsed her glass and went to the cockpit. She found River at the controls, staring out into the starry black. “See anything interesting out there?”

River cocked her head. “Points of gaseous light all coming together. Be careful not to get in their path.”

Inara smiled. “Is there anything you need, Sweetie?”

River reached for the dinosaurs still on the control board. “Sadness hurts.”

The older woman laid a gentle hand on River’s shoulder. “We all miss Wash.”

River turned with a perplexed expression. “Wash isn’t sad.” She held out the dinosaur. “The big one is.”



The sweat felt good sliding down his chest and back, but it blurred his vision. Sitting up on the weight bench, he towelled his face and allowed his pulse rate to come back to normal. The last set had been the hardest and he’d pushed himself more than he should have. He knew his shoulders and back were going to hurt tomorrow, but for now, he needed the burn.

“We’ve been through this before,” Mal stated firmly to Zoe as they descended the stairs from the catwalk. “Work is work.”

“Like at Paradiso or on Lilac?” Zoe stopped at the bottom of the steps, hands on hips.

Mal rolled his eyes with an exasperated sigh and faced his first mate. “That would have worked out quite nicely, thank-you very much, if the gorram reavers had stuck to their bit o’ the ‘verse.” He mentally kicked himself the moment the words had left his mouth.

If Zoe hurt from the comment, she didn’t show it. “Just seems to me, sir, that maybe we ought to start thinking on the jobs we take.” She paused before continuing. “Think them through a bit more.”

“You want that I shoulda told that piece of go se Miranda’s name? Don’t rightly know how he couldn’t a known, nor the whole ‘verse after the signal we sent.”

“Not saying that.”

“Then what is it your words are saying, Zoe, ‘cause I’m a mite confused.”

She said nothing, knowing that the Captain was well aware of her intended meaning.

“Look,” Mal continued in a softer tone, “we’ve all been through a lot these last few months, you more ‘n most, but we got to keep pushin’ through. If we don’t keep flyin’ then there ain’t no point.” He looked hard at her, wishing he saw a little twinge of understanding in her large eyes to show that she supported him fully, but he knew that wasn’t going to happen again. Though she never said it, he often thought that she blamed him for Wash’s death. If Mal hadn’t given the order to go to Miranda then Wash’d still be alive and Zoe would be whole. As it stood now, Zoe may be holding together, but a piece of her was missing.

“Yes, sir,” she said simply.

“Alright then.” He smiled his charming smile. “I’m gonna check the cortex t’see if any waves have come our way from our contacts.” He strode out the hold. “Must be someone out there who still loves us.” He walked past Jayne, ignoring the sweating man.

Jayne looked to Zoe who remained rooted. He was about to say something when she took a long blink then heel-turned back up the steps.

He sniffed and wiped his towel across his nose. With a grunt, he lay back down and grasped the bar for another set.



She found the nights the most difficult times to endure. Lying alone in the now oversized bed, the one that had seemed so small not far long ago, Zoe’s thoughts couldn’t help but turn to her husband. She smiled in spite of herself of the last memory of them in that bed.

“But honey, sweetums, snooky-bear-”

Zoe cocked an eyebrow. “Snooky-bear?”

Wash shrugged. “What? Not romantic enough?”

She laughed playfully. “You are starting to lose it, husband.”

He reached over to her, his fingers playing along her arm and across to her tummy. “That’s kind of the point.” He bent his head forward and kissed her shoulder.

“You can’t possibly want more?” she said, though not entirely surprised.

“More? I want it all! Total domination. Universal control...” He stopped. “Well, okay, maybe just a little bit.” He gestured with his index finger and thumb. “Maybe this much more?” He widened the space between the digits until Zoe slapped his hand.

“You are insatiable.”

Wash grinned maniacally. “Well, yes, but not nearly so much as this guy I once met on Ezra. Had the biggest collection of forks you ever saw.”

Rising from the bed, she slipped her robe about her and headed for the kitchen. Perhaps some warmed powdered milk would help her sleep.

She was surprised to find Jayne sitting at the table, a bit of paper in his hands. Not stopping to speak, she reached to fill a pot with water to begin warming the dehydrated milk.

“You ever get post, Zoe?” Jayne’s quiet voice nearly made Zoe jump. She didn’t think he could speak so softly.

“Got no one to send me anything.” She put the pot on the stove and waited, crossing her arms over her chest and leaning against the back counter, her eyes on Jayne’s back.

Jayne grunted. “Better off.”

She eyed him, but didn’t question his comment. She didn’t have to.

“See, thing is, ya either get good news or bad news. Don’t ever seem to be anythin’ in b’tween.” He turned the paper over in his hand. “Not like ya can do anythin’ about it nohow seein’ as it’s already happened by th’time it gets t’ya.”

Zoe’s brow furrowed. Jayne waxing poetic?

“I mean, take this.” He turned in his chair to face the woman, his arm draped over the side and his other holding the sheet. “Got this near on four weeks after it was wrote. Now what in hell am I s’posed to do? Can’t change nothin’ or fix it.” He faced the table again. “Not like I coulda anyway.” He continued to turn the paper over, staring hard at it.

Zoe stepped to the table and sat. She pointed to the paper. “Maybe you’re not supposed to fix it.”

Jayne looked to her. “Then why give me the bad news. Why not just let me be content with what I think is real?”

“‘Verse ain’t about pretending, Jayne. You know that.”

He balled up the paper and threw it harshly across the galley. “‘Course I know that, but at least I could sleep knowin’ that he’d be gettin’ better, ‘stead a th’other way ‘round.” He slammed his hand on the wood. “Fuck! Baby brothers ain’t s’posed t’die!”

Zoe blanked, her eyes threatening to break. Husbands weren’t supposed to die either, but they did.

The hum of the night run of the ship was the only sound.

Finally, after a more than long enough pause, Jayne continued, his anger subsiding. “Aw, hell, Zoe, guess we ain’t destined for nothin’ more than ourselves.”

She sat back slowly in the wooden chair. “You’re wrong.”

“Huh?”

She rose to take the bubbling pot off the heat. She carefully filled her cup then set the pot back down. Grabbing the cup between two hands, she blew across the top and took a small sip. “Destiny doesn’t make us, Jayne. We do. We choose.” She went back to her bunk a smile forming on her lips. Thank-you for choosing me, husband.



Before...

River stepped easily from the co-pilot’s chair, letting her hand drag across the console. Today was a day of love and Serenity knew it. But this kind of love was of pain.

In the bunk occupied by Jayne Cobb, Serenity had heard and felt the pained love of a brother lost. The big man was not a favourite of the ship’s; he was vulgar and sometimes smelled bad. Yet, the ship knew he was important in the family. He was the protector, the big brother to everyone. Everyone except the Captain.

When Jayne read the letter from his ma, read it again and again, Serenity knew something wasn’t right. Jayne was hardly ever quiet. Even sleeping, he made all sorts of strange groans and moans and while he was awake, everyone was privy to his mind’s thoughts, desired or otherwise. She told River and River explained why Jayne was quiet.

He was too sad for words.

River’s bare feet went silently from the bridge to the entrance of Jayne’s bunk. She tilted her head and listened, eyes closing. She felt the red from the mercenary, his anger at himself raging through. She touched the bulkhead telling Serenity that one of her family was hurting. She stayed that way a good long time until she no longer felt the red. Jayne was asleep, his thoughts foggy and vague.

“River? What are you doing?” Simon stepped through the doorway from the kitchen. “It’s late.” He stood next to her.

“She needs to know then she’ll understand.”

“Who needs to know what, mei-mei?” Simon reached a hand to his sister and gently pulled her to him. “You need to get some sleep.”

River let him lead her back to her quarters, but before she entered, she looked Simon in the eye with the most clear expression he had seen from her since she left for the Academy. “Jayne’s not a robot, you know. He feels things. That makes him human.”

“Yes, we all know how sensitive he is to the plight of others.”

“Not a man-ape.”

“Where is this sudden concern for Jayne coming from?” He looked hard at his sister. “Has he...did he-”

“Not a man-ape,” she repeated.

Simon held in a deep sigh. “No, he’s not a man-ape.”

River smiled and kissed her brother’s cheek then bounded into her bed. Simon said good-night, closed the door and wondered what in Buddha’s name his sister had been babbling about.



Later... “Mal? Need t’talk t’ya.” Jayne yelled over his shoulder.

“I’m a little busy here at the moment.” He ducked under a large, swinging piece of wood that had once been a table leg. “Maybe I can schedule ya in after the brawl an’ before the fight.” He blocked another swing, his forearm crashing the forearm of his attacker.

Jayne clotheslined another man running towards the Captain. He smiled a little. After the Maidenhead incident, he’d become fond of that particular move. Though it did divert his attention from the small man who whacked a glass across the back of Jayne’s head. Dropping his arm, the mercenary turned and sneered causing the little man to squeak and attempt to run away. Jayne grabbed the man’s coat with a violent pull and swung him into a support post. The crack of bone gave him a satisfying smirk.

Turning once more, he found that any and all would-be attackers were lying painfully on the ground, moans escaping from them. Jayne stepped over one, though his boot caught the man’s fingers. He smirked again. Violence could be fun sometimes.

He found the Captain speaking to the bartender. “Now the way I figure it, we only owe for two beers, not three like your barmaid seems to think.” He pointed to the formerly occupied and standing table that was now dust and splinter. “You can plainly see only two mugs. Well, the remains of two mugs.”

Still shocked at the fight that had erupted, the barman stood gaping and silent. Mal took this as a gesture of goodheartedness and slapped down the right amount of coin for payment. “Lovely place this...what’s this place called again?” He stared at the bartender, even waved his hand in front of the man’s eyes, but he was still mute. Mal shrugged and walked out. Jayne followed in tow. “You said somethin’ about havin’ to talk?” He jumped into the mule and started the engine.

Jayne climbed in beside. “‘Bout our deal.”

“What deal would that be? The one where ya promise t’not sell out my crew and I promise t’not send ya out the airlock?”

Jayne winced a little over that memory and felt the pain of something sharp in the back of his neck. Reaching behind, he pulled a shard of glass then flicked it away. “Our first deal.”

Mal steered the mule around a sharp corner then levelled it out as they made their way out of town. “Little more specifics here, Jayne.”

The merc bit his lip. “Th’one ‘bout me bein’ on board. Bein’ yer muscle an’ tracker.”

The Captain faced Jayne. “You want more money? Look, Jayne, ya know how tough it’s been out here of late. Can’t really afford to give you a raise at this juncture in time.”

“That ain’t what I mean.”

“Then what?”

Serenity sat before them, a little ways off. Deftly bringing her into the hold, Mal powered the mule down and jumped out. He reached the comm button and signalled to River to warm up the ship. He turned to find Jayne still in the flying machine. With furrowed brow, he strode to the man. “What is in your head?”

Jayne stepped then jumped from the mule. “I need t’go home.”

Mal continued with his inquisitive look. He reached a hand behind Jayne’s head. “How did this get in your skull?” He held out the large-ish piece of glass dripping with blood.

“Hey, Cap’n,” Kaylee’s cheery voice greeted. “Make the pick up?”

“I most certainly did.” He pulled slip of paper from his hip pocket, holding it up for her to see. “First though, get Jayne to see the Doc.”

“Why? Oh!” She spied the shard and blood. “Jayne? You alright?” She reached her hand to his arm. “C’mon. Simon’ll fix ya up real good.” She lead him to the infirmary, Jayne not making a fuss whatsoever, something that perplexed Mal. Wasn’t like the big man to go quietly and willingly to see the Doctor nor to not make any grand announcement about how grievously he’d been injured.

Shaking his head, he attached the cables to the mule and lifted her to spot near the ceiling of the hold. He then went into the bridge and found River in the pilot’s chair. She looked at him with a motherly don’t-even-think-of-lying-me-about-this-one kind of look. “What?” he asked innocnet-like. “Only protected the honour of a young woman.”

River continued her stare.

“And no, it wasn’t like the last time.” He scowled. “Merely had a conversation with a woman who just wasn’t my wife. Who knew that was illegal in these parts. Let’s get this bird in the air and head to this meet up.” He gave River the paper and she brought the controls on line. Shortly thereafter, Serenity was where she liked it best.



Simon looked up from his notes when Kaylee entered the infirmary with Jayne. His brow furrowed at how much he didn’t like the image of his girl on the arm of the resident heavy. “What’s wrong?”

“Got into a fight by the looks,” Kaylee replied. She lead Jayne to the bed where he sat with a thump.

“Where are you hurt?” The Doctor pulled on his medical gloves and began a visual scan of Jayne.

“Back here.” Kaylee pointed to the man’s head.

Further investigation revealed smaller pieces of glass lodged in Jayne’s head that were removed with very little wincing and only one curse. The Doctor began stitching with Kaylee offering moral support and an occasional scissor to cut the thread.

“You’re done,” Simon announced, pulling off his gloves. “Come back in a couple of days and we’ll change that bandage.”

Jayne stood. “Thanks, Doc,” he said just louder than a murmur on his way out.

Kaylee looked to Simon with a big grin on her face as Simon’s own brows shot up. Jayne never, ever thanked the doctor for doing anything. “That was sure nice a Jayne to say.”

“Yes.” Simon paused wondering if something more devious was going through the mercenary’s mind then remembered his conversation months earlier and River’s declaration of her brain power. He began cleaning the area. “A little odd, though.”

“How do ya mean?”

“Well, for one thing, he didn’t yell at me the entire time I sewed him up. Secondly.” He put his instruments in the sanitiser then faced Kaylee. “He said thank-you.”

“Maybe Jayne’s finally learnin’ some manners.” Her beau’s expression quelled that idea. “Or maybe he’s learnin’ t’appreciate ya more. Sorta like I am.” She ran her fingers across his shirt. Simon smiled, but pulled her hand away. “I need to finish my work here.” He moved back to the counter with his notes.

“Can’t ya take a little break?” She leaned her cheek to his back, preventing him from sitting.

“I’d like to, bao-bai, but I think I’m on the verge of something with River. It could go far in giving her more emotional control.” He pulled out an image and sat on the stool, missing the disappointment as Kaylee straightened.

“Guess I could go check out my girl.”

“Mm.” Simon was now engrossed in his research once again.

“Alrighty then.” She slapped her hands together and backed out. “Just be in th’engine room.” When Simon made no further response, she abruptly turned and marched out. “Gorram zhu tu, Simon. And you were just gettin’ so much better,” she muttered loudly under her breath. She stomped through to the kitchen. “Spent all that time then ya finally start reactin’.” She flopped on the lounge chair, her tirade continuing into the empty room. “Not like ya couldn’ta done yer work after. Not like I was askin’ ya to never do it.” She stopped and rolled her eyes up. “And how many times has the Cap’n told us ‘bout keepin’ the kitchen neat an tidy?” She stormed from her chair to a corner of the kitchen and snatched up a crumpled piece of paper. “People throwin’ their papers around and who’s there t’clean up? Me.” She took the paper to the waste chute and was ready to toss it when she decided that it may have something important on it, though she didn’t know what would be so crucial that a body would throw it into the corner. Still.

Unwrapping the page, her eyes widened at the contents. She finished and felt all her mopeyness drain away.



Jayne went through every drawer, every shelf in his search for the letter from his ma. He overturned his mattress and found only his girly magazines and his knife Clara. “Gorram it! Where in Hades’ hell is it?” He tore apart his clothes dresser with no luck. “Gotta be here. Can’t have lost it.”

With renewed vigour, he went up the ladder from his quarters and went towards the kitchen. Something about last night and Zoe clued in his brain. Fuck! He’d thrown it away! He walked quickly down the hall to see Kaylee standing near the entrance. He stopped.

She had the damn thing in her hands and looked to have read it. He stormed into the kitchen and yanked the page from her grip. “Don’t be readin’ things that ain’t yours.” His words hit her hard and she jumped.

“Jayne, I...I didn’t mean...” Her eyes looked up to him and for that moment, he regretted his words. They held the gaze a moment until he turned his back to her.

“Yeah, well.” He was half way to his bunk before he felt Kaylee’s hand lightly touch his own.

“Jayne?”

When he didn’t respond, she called his name again. “Is there anything I can do?” He stared very hard at the wall in front of him, finding endless fascination with it to avoid Kaylee’s soft face and teary eyes. When she gripped his hand a little more tightly, he chanced a glance to her.

“No, li’l Kaylee,” he said in a deep and low voice. “Ain’t nothin’ nobody can do.”


To be continued...

COMMENTS

Thursday, March 23, 2006 5:19 PM

CANTONHEROINE


I'm really feeling for Jayne right now. He's keeping everything so bottled up, it ain't right.

I like that River looking out for him in her own special way, and that the rest of the crew is starting to realize that something's up with the big merc - that there's more to him than meets the eye.

Fabulous piece of writing. More please.

Thursday, March 23, 2006 7:56 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Excellent stuff here....always knew Jayne had to be more than what he appears...probably a rocket scientist in that man-ape skull of his

BEB

Thursday, March 23, 2006 9:26 PM

AMDOBELL


Poor, poor Jayne. I hope once he has done what needs to be done at home that he will go back to Serenity. Just wouldn't be the same without him. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, March 24, 2006 12:36 AM

BOOKADDICT


Oh Jayne, poor guy. I'm glad River is understanding and that Kaylee offered to help.

Thursday, March 30, 2006 1:56 AM

FLUX


Don't usually like Jayne-centric stuff, but this is the first piece I've read which really captured the Jayne we saw at the end of Jaynestown.

Very nice.

Friday, March 31, 2006 11:06 AM

JAYNESBUNKWOMAN


Very well done AP. I'm liking the depth you're giving to his character that we never got 'cause of the gorram idiots at f*x that cancelled the shiniest show ever.

Thursday, May 11, 2006 3:16 PM

MORDSITH


I loved the Jayne/Kaylee interaction. Once again, fabulous writing. It flows really nicely and tells a nice story.


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