The Way Chapter Three
Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Jayne goes home, Mal gets an offer and Kaylee thinks that she's getting what she wants. Please tell me what you think of the story thus far.


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.

One other thing: Jayne uses the clothesline and head drop at the heist on Lilac, not the Maidenhead. Sorry for that.

Chapter three The town of Bountiful was the founding planetary fathers’ idea of a good idea. Optimism had run high in settling that town on Harvest. They posted advertisements all over the Core worlds picturing green pastures with fat cows. Come live the old west, the ads had said. Live the life of a pioneer, but with full amenities. With a name like Harvest, how could you fail?

Families flocked, bringing much sought after cash and hope. They landed, built homes, barns and the town proper. And the planetary fathers were happy.

Until the glich that no terraformer bothered to mention could happen. Seemed the planet went through some sort of seismic activity every four-hundred years or so that rendered it dry. Cows thinned and died, their bleached bones littering the landscape around Bountiful. Some folks left, others felt themselves made of tougher stuff and plugged on. When rain did come, there was jubilation and excitement, but with the ground dust, the rain only made mud. And mud was just too hard to til.

The effect was a dying town and townsfolk that were tough and ornery.

Jayne’s mother was no exception.

With her head titled down, Louise Emma Jayne rolled her eyes up into the shopkeeper’s face. “Now, Bill, we both know what’s goin on here. Let’s not pretend.”

Bill the shopkeeper kept silent.

“You think that jus’ cause I’m in the mourning way that you think you can take monetary advantage of a poor old lady.”

“Now, Emma, don’t be that way. Times are tough all over. Ask anyone from the Rim an’ they’ll tell you.”

Emma crossed her arms. “I have.” She nodded over her right shoulder to Jayne eyeing a magazine on the shelf. “But I don’t see him bein’ taken advantage of.”

Bill looked past the woman, his eyes widening then narrowing. “That your other boy?”

She nodded.

“Didn’t much expect him to come back these ways.” He kept his focus on the former mercenary. Jayne, for his part, ignored the conversation between his mother and Bill, the magazine completely occupying his attention.

“Lotsa things happen that we don’t expect, like you chargin’ me double for this goat’s milk when I know you got a herd a them out back.”

Bill looked back to Emma and shrugged. “Like I said, times are hard. Had to kill some of them since there wasn’t enough feed.” He stopped then acquiesced. “But for you, Emma, same price as last week.”

Shortly after, Emma called to Jayne and shoved the crate of groceries at him. “Pleasure as always, Bill.” She paused. “Jayne, you remember Bill?”

“No,” came the gruff reply.

Emma smiled seeing Bill cringe just a little. “He’s been here near as long as I have. Say hello.”

Jayne grunted in Bill’s general direction forcing the store owner to gulp. “Good ta see ya again, Jayne.” He looked him up and down. “Filled out I see.”

With a look of utter boredom, Jayne turned to his mother. “You done?”

Emma smiled sweetly. “Yes, son, I surely am.”

As mother and son walked down the street, Jayne couldn’t help but notice the looks he was still receiving. After nearly two months on Harvest, the people of Bountiful still hadn’t fully accepted the return of the wayward son. The gawks of onlookers was unsettling to Jayne, mostly because he didn’t much care for the attention. Now, if it had been young ladies looking his way then he’d be all smiles and showing his manly talents, but young ladies were harder to find here than fresh vegetables in the middle of winter. As it were, only young men seemed to give him any real pause for concern. He saw the looks in their eyes, the same kind he used to have. They wanted to prove themselves and besting a man like Jayne would go far in showing the people of the town how tough they were. For now, he was still on display, to be pointed at and wondered at.

Not even his mother escaped the allure of having Jayne back. “How long you gonna keep usin’ my intimidatin’ manner t’git what ya want, Ma?”

“Jayne, I’ve no idea what yer meaning.” They reached the wagon and Jayne dropped the crate in the back before continuing.

“Mal used to do the same thing when we was out on a job.” He climbed into the driver’s seat and started the engine.

“He struck me as a smart man that Mal.” Emma took the adjoining seat and focussed her eyes straight ahead. Jayne knew the look and knew that she was finished with this line of conversation. Jayne let it go then smirked. Bill hadn’t noticed the magazine Jayne had been reading was now in his coat pocket. That’d learn him for trying to cheat my Ma.

A few hours after Emma Jayne and her boy had left the general store, Bill was visited by an official looking man intent on updating the list of wanted suspects around the Rim. Upon the officer’s leaving, Bill strolled over to see who was new on the list. No one especially caught his attention, though he noticed that the bounty for a brother and sister had gone up to two-hundred thousand. Frowning at his loss for a potential winfall, he returned to sweeping and tidying.

Before... “Cap’n, this ain’t right.” Kaylee pleaded with Mal. “You know it.”

Mal placed gentle hands on the shoulders of his mechanic. “Not my decision to make. I can only do what’s best for my crew.”

“So us not going out on planet is best for all of us?”


Kaylee turned up the heat, flashing her saddest eyes and poutiest lip. “But Cap’n...”

Mal dropped his arms and pointed a finger. “No you don’t. That face may work fine on Simon, but I’ll have none of it.”

She rolled her eyes. “Don’t have to make it with Simon,” she muttered loudly.

Mal opened his mouth to respond then thought the better of it. He instead left the kitchen and headed for the cargo hold, Kaylee in tow. “Jayne!” he called, “you’re with me. Zoe, you’ve got the ship.” He stepped up to his first mate. “Anyone wayward comes around, you let me know.”

“Sir?” Zoe was mildly perplexed. The Captain had never assumed Zoe to be a stupid woman nor one needing of such an instruction as “Call if anything bad comes.”

Mal eyed the catwalk and River walking along it. “Don’t need little feet followin’ to where we’re goin’.”

“Understood, sir.”

Jayne barrelled between Kaylee and Mal, pulling his green hat on. He said nothing to either of them.

“Cap’n, it’d be real nice if we could maybe get out an stretch ourselves some,” Kaylee suggested. She watched Jayne, wondering if he would look her way.

With a hit of a button, the ramp lowered and the oppressive heat washed into the hold. That and the smell of what seemed like a few hundred things that had died and no one bothered to clean up. “Kaylee, the decision’s been made. This ain’t no place for sightseein’. It’s best for all to just keep on the ship.”

She huffed, but said nothing more on the subject. “Well, then you two be careful yourselves. Make sure ya come back in one piece.” She stared at Jayne. “Dong ma?”

Jayne only stood at the base of the ramp, tightening the flaps of his hat to keep the heat from scorching his skin. He didn’t see Kaylee continue to watch their backs. Didn’t want to see the concern in her eye that he could hear in her voice.

“Meet’s just over that ridge,” Mal announced after a five minute walk that felt like hours. “Should be easy-peasy.” He looked to the silent merc. “What’s with you?”

Jayne shrugged. “Don’t know why we gotta walk in this gorram heat.” His growly voice was grating on Mal.

“Middlemen got some fear of land ships that don’t use land to get around.” He switched subjects abruptly. “You been in a funk since we picked up post and I’m thinkin’ that something’s not quite right. If you want t’talk about it, I suggest you find someone willin’ t’listen.” He stopped at the base of a rise. “Stay here. If something goes amiss, I need you t’come in an rescue me.”

Jayne nodded once.

“Ya might want to pull out a gun or something, just in case.” He glared. “What is with you?”


“Well your nothin’ better not become my somethin’.” Mal ascended the rise and called out. After a minute, Jayne crawled up and poked his head over. Mal seemed to have everything under control, but things could change. He could barely hear them converse, something about picking up and dropping off shipments between Regina and Harvest. Seemed Harvest was having an especially bad winter and with crops not coming through again for the fifth year, times were becoming more than a bit horrific.

“Ta ma duh,” Jayne cursed under his breath. If he needed a bigger sign, he would be waiting a long time.

The scene continued without hindrance and hands were shook. Mal walked back to the rise’s drop off. “Good doin’ business with ya. We’ll be in touch.” With a grin and a wave, he jumped his way down. “See? Easy-peasy.” He slapped the big man’s shoulder and smiled.

Only when Jayne’s faced appeared jittery and shifty did Mal become suspicious. He drew his gun. “Where?” He scanned the horizon and only saw the heat-wavy shape of Serenity some distance away. “Jayne?” He chanced a glance at Jayne and saw him standing in a neutral position, his left hand loosely holding Jasmine and his right balled up.

A thought ran through Mal’s head. “You ain’t aimin’ t’do me in now, are ya Jayne? Make some other backroom deal resultin’ in me with the raw end.” He faced the merc.

What in the seven levels of hell was Mal talking about. “Huh?”

Clearly, Jayne was not focussing on the job at hand. “What has gotten into you?”

“I need t’go home.”

Yes, that conversation they were supposed to have had days earlier, but somehow never did. Mal holstered his pistol. “Tell me the particulars while we walk.”

Later... Sitting in the marginally upscale drinking establishment on Regina, Mal began to lose patience. He and Zoe had been waiting near on an hour for their contact to arrive to begin the pick up of merchandise. He was beginning to think that this entire deal was less of a scenic train and more of a run-away.

He finished his mug and thudded it onto the table. “Ain’t got time to be waiting much longer.”

“Need to finish that novel, sir?” Zoe responded dryly.

Mal glared. “Just don’t like wasting my time is all.” He scanned the full crowd. “Do you see him?”

Zoe was about to do her own surveillance when a voice made her stop.

“Good evening, Captain Reynolds.”

“Well it’s about gorram time,” Mal began turning to the voice that greeted him. He stopped. “Didn’t I get rid of you on Boros?”

The Information Man pulled out a seat which Mal quickly hooked with his leg. “Don’t recall offering for ya t’get comfortable like.”

“Don’t recall asking.” He jerked the chair from Mal’s leg and sat. “You’ve had time to consider my offer.”

“I’ve had time to forget your offer.”

Information Man clasped his hands on the table. “Captain,” he smiled, “how are we to come to a business arrangement if you won’t even consider legitimate offers?”

“Easy. We don’t.” Mal rose and turned to Zoe. “Let’s go.”

Zoe moved to stand, but heard the click of a pistol being cocked. She eyed Mal who gestured for her to sit. Both looked to Information Man and the sudden appearance of a large bodyguard aiming the new Winger 52 series hand pistol standing conveniently behind.

“I suspected that you might need a little more persuasion,” Information Man began. “Seems that money isn’t enough.” On cue, he reached into his coat pocket and dropped a coin on the table, barely enough to cover the drinks Mal and Zoe had ordered. “Let’s begin again, shall we?”

Mal wanted to wring the ugly man’s weasly neck. This man needed to be taken out quickly and quietly and if he had Jayne, the job would be done. Not altogether quietly, but sure enough quick. As it were, he was out a mercenary.

Information Man went on. “With so few Firefly class transport ships in existence, it seems that yours is the most likely candidate to have been the one involved with the Alliance some months back. Finding out who her captain was required a little innovative work, but was doable. Finding you was pitifully easy. You’ve amassed quite a base of contacts, Captain, not all of whom are endeared to you.” He smiled, leering at the first mate. “Fill the correct palms with money and you can get nearly anything you want.”

Zoe eyes darkened at the implication. This hwoon dun was not going to get more of a reaction than that, despite her brain screaming out to slice this guy a new face.

Returning his attention to Mal, Information Man continued. “Now the question becomes repetitive. What is the name of the planet?”

Mal was more than curious to know the reason for this man’s intense interest in the dead world. The world that had tried to make the perfect human, but succeeded in only causing the death of two dear friends. Had his motivation speech to the crew been true? Was this some sort of Alliance or other government sponsored adventure into creating the best that he can be man? He paused; couldn’t be Alliance. Mal’s eyes narrowed. This was freelance work, maybe even non-Alliance corporate.

“What are ya offerin’ me in exchange?” Mal played it cool.

Information Man smiled, something the Captain wished he would stop doing. “Beyond your lives, the lives of your crew and your ship?” He stopped and chuckled. “Sorry, didn’t mean that to sound quite so ominous. Five thousand credits.”

Mal blinked.

River sat across from Kaylee at the kitchen table. Their game of mahjong was nearly finished and River had wiped the floor with the mechanic.

“You’re losing,” she said.

Kaylee sighed. “Mind’s not on it, I reckon.” She fiddled with a playing piece.

“Too quiet without the big one.”

“Naw, that ain’t it, not exactly anyhow.” She bit the inside of her cheek. “We just get Inara back then Jayne ups and leaves us.”

“Too much change.”

Kaylee nodded her agreement. “Don’t feel like we got our family no more.” She thought back to the day of Jayne’s leaving, wondering if she had done something to push him out. Maybe he was mad at her for reading the letter.

“He’s not angry,” River announced. “He just didn’t know what to do.”

Kaylee faced River.

“He wanted to go home, but he is home. He wanted to help, but he can’t.” She shook her head sadly. “Didn’t know what to do.” She peered intently at Kaylee. “Want to play again?”

The mechanic smiled. “No.” She stretched her arms up, feeling her shoulders crack a little. She’d spent too much time fiddling with Serenity and not enough fiddling with Simon. A sly smile spread across her face.

With a start, River giggled and picked up a piece. “Need to make a match. Fit one piece with the appropriate other piece.”

Kaylee laughed then rose and pushed in her chair. “Think I’ll go find my missin’ piece.” She grinned then went down to the infirmary knowing that Simon would be there.

“Not yours,” River said to the empty kitchen. She opened her clenched hand, the wooden playing piece leaving indentations in her palm. “It doesn’t fit you.” She glided out and into the bridge to feel how Serenity was doing.

It was her light step with a hint of bounce that Simon noticed first. He lifted his head from the infirmary’s monitor and immediately regretted not having done it sooner. He reached a hand to his neck to massage the muscles.

“Here, let me,” Kaylee offered, gently pushing Simon’s hand away. She slipped her fingers up the nape of his neck and back down in a slow rhythmic motion. “Feel better?” she inquired after a few minutes.

“Yes,” Simon drawled. “Very better.” His eyelids were so heavy. He just wanted to fall to sleep right here. That would be about perfect.

Kaylee smiled broadly. She bent close to his ear and spoke in her sexy voice. “Maybe you could take a bit away from brain exertion t’something a little more active.”

“I’d love to...”

Kaylee stopped her massage and stepped back from him, tugging his hand toward her. She felt her heart beat faster. It had been a bit longer than their normal since the last sexing and Kaylee was feeling it. She wanted to feel Simon now.

Simon slid from the stool without thinking and allowed himself to be pulled to the mechanic. He couldn’t help but grin. She was wearing the pink and white tee that had a deep neckline and highlighted the most important curves in the most important way. Sitting just below her hips were her overalls with the top half hanging loose. God, but she looked cute!

Reaching a hand to cup her cheek, Simon drew a long kiss and felt Kaylee begin to heat up. Pushing his hand through her thick hair, he pushed further into the kiss and chuckled at the tiny moan she gave back to him.

“What’s so funny, Mr. Tam?” she asked, pulling back.

“You,” he answered and tapped her nose. “Your happy little sounds.” He leaned in for another kiss, but something made him stop.

The something was Kaylee’s furrowed brow. “Hmm.” She looked away. “Happy little sounds like a puppy?”

“That’s not...I didn’t mean it...” He scratched his head. How did this happen? “I just meant...”

“Oh, I know what ya meant, Simon Tam.”

He winced, remembering the times his mother had used both of his names for when he had done something very bad as a child.

“I’m not a pet.”

“I didn’t mean to imply that you were.” He tried to laugh off his anxiety. “You just make these little noises.” He waited for the shoe to fall, again.

Kaylee eyed him then broke into a wide grin. “Yer still an easy mark.” She punched him on the arm then hooked it into her own. “Now let’s see about gettin’ me some sex.”

Until the day of his death, Simon would never understand girls or women.

Before... “I’ll forward your remaining effects,” the woman on the wave screen said.

Inara nodded. “Thank-you.”

The woman looked to each other a moment, the absence of words speaking for them.

“Good-bye, Inara.”

“Good-bye, Syrene.”

Inara ended the wave and placed the fabric back over the fabric. She waited then said, “I thought we had an agreement.”

“We did,” Mal popped his head around the corner. “I promise never to get involved in your personal honour where swords are involved.”

Inara pushed down her anger. “What do you want?” She rose and began arranging candles that did not need arranging.

“Just thought I’d let ya know that we’re gettin close to Regina.”

“Thank-you.” And why did you do this personally when you could have used the intercom? she wondered.

The pair stared at each other.

“Was there something else you wanted?” Inara finally asked.

Mal took a step. “Like what you’ve done with th’ place.” He continued to look into Inara’s eyes. “It’s real companion-y. I take it you’ve decided to stay permanent-like?”

“For now.”

“Your students seem to be missin’ ya.”

“I wish you would stop eavesdropping on my private conversations.”

He ignored the comment and continued to scan the shuttle. Some of it was familiar, the colours mostly and the white meditation Buddha, but it didn’t feel the same as before. It was like something was missing and he couldn’t quite figure out what. Where had that chest of sundries ended up?


He slipped his hands in his pockets. “Yeah?”

“I need to go.”

His eyebrows shot up.

Inara raised her own eyebrow. “To work?”

“Oh. Work. Right.” He smiled. “Wouldn’t want t’keep ya from workin’, earnin’ some honest coin.” He backed up to the entrance of the shuttle. “Only gonna be on planet a day or so. That too long for ya?”

“Leave my shuttle.” She moved to the door.

“Send us a postcard from the moon of St. Alban’s.” He jerked his hand back as the Companion slammed the door. She turned with an exasperated sigh. Malcolm Reynolds was the most annoying man she’d ever met.

And it endeared him to her beyond her understanding.

Later... Sitting in the pilot’s seat was both awkward and comfortable. A body could see where it was going, but not so much on where it had been. Most times, Mal liked it that way. Thinking on the past tended to get one in trouble as it usually meant forgetting about the present. But it was both the past and the present that were colliding in his brain and causing an awful headache.

He flipped a switch to show the newest info from the cortex. Scrolling past the usual mundane Alliance crap, he stopped at the few lines that were causing him such grief, though he admitted to snorting at the increased bounty on River and Simon Tam. Obviously, the Alliance didn’t have to live with a Reader and a doctor who made his mechanic more than a little moonbrained.

No, these few lines were the heart of his problem. Propping a leg onto the console, he rubbed his lip with his thumb and forefinger. This complication was one he didn’t have much time for.

“Sir, we’re all set,” Zoe announced. “Ship’s ready. Sir?”

“Thanks.” He didn’t bother to look to her.

“Are you alright, Sir?” She now stood next to him.

Mal tapped the viewscreen and Zoe read the words. “You plan on doing something about that?”

“Think I ought to? His eyes narrowed. “God knows he wouldn’t do th’ same fer us.” God had nothing to do with this. “Hell, he woulda called the Feds his own self and grabbed the bounty then be on his merry.”

“You don’t believe that.” Zoe had moved to the co-pilot’s console and leaned back. “Not after everything this crew’s been through. What he’s been through.”

Mal frowned. “I reckon not, but do you look forward to puttin’ this crew in more peril?”

“Not really the point.” She stared him down, not having to remind him that the last time a man was left behind, he ended up dead. “What are you gonna do, Mal?”

In the years that he had known Zoe, Mal had never heard her call him anything other than Sir, Sarge or Captain, though she would on occasion add a few choice descriptors about his character or sexual habits. Things were changing with his first mate and he didn’t wonder if that was bad.

“Go rescue his sorry ass, I guess.” He looked to the viewscreen once more as though to verify that what he had read a dozen times before was still there.

It was.

Jayne Cobb. Wanted on aiding and abetting known fugitives and in causing the deaths of Alliance officers has finally been caught. After an intense struggle which put two men in hospital and two others receiving minor injuries, he was finally brought under arrest on the border planet of Harvest. He awaits trial.

To be continued...


Wednesday, March 29, 2006 3:03 PM


Oh Jayne...

I like it...everybody's feelin' all sorts of mixed up, and you're portraying it well... good work!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 4:31 PM


ROTFL! Simon is still such an easy mark. Very funny little exchange.

Interesting, though, was River's comment about pieces not fitting. Was she referring to Simon and Kaylee or someone/thing else....?

Interesting Mal contemplation about what to do with Jayne too.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 4:34 PM


I've really enjoyed this story so far. Can't wait for the rescue!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 5:56 PM


Oohh...Jayne's in trouble. Round up the troops;)

And I have to back Leiasky River hinting at some approaching angst for Simon and Kaylee or something else...something Raynish perhaps?


Wednesday, March 29, 2006 5:57 PM


I loved Jayne's effortless intimidation of Bill, with nary a word spoken, and his ma's use of that fact. Can see who he inherited his devious mind from.

River's little hint about Kaylee and Simon not fitting echoed my thoughts exactly, but it ain't no secret that I don't like the Doc. Man's like tits on a bull.

Now, make with the Jayne-rescuing...

Thursday, March 30, 2006 1:22 AM


Love it that Mal and crew are off to do a timely rescue with more thrilling heroics! Just hope Jayne's arrest isn't a set up. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, March 30, 2006 1:54 AM


I've been enjoying this series and this is another great chapter. All the different interactions between the crew are good.

Hope they rescue Jayne and that he and Kaylee get together.

Thursday, May 11, 2006 3:31 PM


Love teasing Simon.

Oh no for Jayne. Must run to see the next part! Awesomeness!


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