C.C.M Ch 5
Thursday, August 3, 2006

Serenity has a stowaway. 'Cos no job ever goes easy.


Jayne lunges, with a roar, and there is a frightened yell.

“It’s only me, don’t shoot, please, don’t shoot, I’m so gorram sorry, Uncle Jayne...”

Tyler Cobb is just a scared boy, especially in the face of an embarrassed and angry uncle. Jayne, suddenly aware, lets go of his collar, and does his pants up.

Ilargia has recovered a little of her composure, and her shirt. Tyler can’t meet her eyes - seen a deal more of his aunt than he ever expected to, and he’s scarlet. Jayne clouts him.

“You gorram young fool, near got yourself killed. What’n hell you doin’?”

“Gonna be a spacer like you.” Juts his jaw.

“The hell you are...”

“Tyler, your mother is going to be frantic...”

The lower lip comes out, a familiar pout.

“I ain’t a child no more. Got my own gun, an’ I‘m ready to do a man‘s job.”

“That so? Well, I’m takin’ your ass right back...”

“Don’t want to go back. It ain’t nothin’ but people jawin’ at me that I ain’t no good.”

Jayne, about to yell some more, stops abruptly.

“Who told you that go se?”

“Oh, Uncle Cal and Aunt Em are always tellin’ Ma...”

“Oh, Tyler.” His Aunt Larji looks cross, but not with him.

They both stare at him. Skinny kid in a too large leather jacket, toting a scruffy kitbag, and a rifle older than he is. Jayne looks at his wife, helpless. She shrugs.

“I think you had better call the Captain. Tell him we have a...passenger.”

Jayne swears his way back into the cabin, and Ilargia looks at Tyler. He shuffles miserably. They can hear one side of the conversation.

“Mal, we got a a stowaway.” Pause. “My nephew...I din’t know he snuck aboard. Near shot the little idiot.” A indistinct noise. “Seventeen, an’ old enough to know better...yeah, yeah...Oh, hey, Mal...I don’t gotta...yeah.” Stomps back.

“Cap’n says we ain’t got time to turn about and set you down, so we gotta take you along.” Points a stern finger. “You’re gonna hafta earn your keep a few days, boy.”

Tyler looks like he’s been given the best present of his young life.


Serenity looms up, and the shuttle locks in. Tyler is trying to look like it’s no big deal, but his eyes are very round. He trails out of the shuttle after Jayne. Mal and Zoe stare at him.

“This here is m’sister’s boy, Tyler.” Jayne cuffs him. “Stand up straight, boy, this is the Captain. You pay good mind to him.” (Mal, who has never noticed Jayne to do this particularly, hides his surprise.) “An’ that’s Zoe with him. She’s First Mate. They done fought together in the War, proper soldiers. She tells you to do somethin’, you do it right quick.”

Kaylee clatters down the steps, Simon behind her.

“I heard we got...oh, don’t he look like you!”

Both Cobbs scowl, which just makes it funnier.

“This is Kaylee. She keeps the engines running sweet. That with her is the Doc. He digs out any bullets you might be dumb enough to walk into to. An’ someplace round here, we got his sister, and she’s the pilot...there.”

Tyler sees a girl, like a little fairy thing, dancin’ down the steps.

River looks at Tyler. He’s...cute. Trying to so be big and tough, but really just a boy. She likes his dark hair, every which way, and the shy smile replacing that familiar scowl. Not too bright. But she doesn’t need to read minds to see the open admiration in the way he gawps. It’s...nice. She smiles back, and Tyler nearly drops his kitbag, goes red again.

Captain looks real stern, though not as scary as Ms Zoe. Ms Kaylee looks sweet, got a smile makes him feel like he ain’t gonna get shot. Doctor is near as stern as the Captain. But his sister...Looks sidelong at her again, finds her big dark eyes fixed on him.

“Interestin’ visit, then?” Zoe murmurs to Ilargia.

“Oh, you know.” Ilargia shrugs wryly. “It’s not a proper holiday unless you bring back a souvenir.”


Sitting around the table, a crew meeting. Tyler is caught between sitting up and paying strict attention, or lounging casually like his uncle. Ends up adopting a kind of hunched shoulder freeze as Mal gestures towards him, and he becomes the centre of all eyes.

“Tyler here has decided that he wants to see what life in the Black is like. Means we got a passenger for a few days.”

“Can earn my keep.” says Tyler, defiantly.

“Doin’ what?” Mal isn’t unkind, but he is firm. Boy shuts his mouth tight, and looks miserable. River glares. Mal carries on.

“We ain’t got time to turn about. We miss this run, the cargo goes into the middle of the drift, hits the current and gone. May come out the other side, more like to get smashed all to hell.”

“We’re goin’ into the Belt?” Tyler goes a little pale.

“You wanted to come along. S’where the job is.” Jayne mutters.

“Lost my Pa out there someplace, is all.” Tyler regards the thought of it with horrified fascination. “Need to be a real good pilot for there.”

“Oh, we got a real good pilot. Ain‘t we, River?” Mal says.

River, who has been gazing sidelong at Tyler, jerks guiltily. Mal narrows his eyes, and she blinks back at him.

“I locked onto the navsat trace, calculated the course. We sit and wait for it to come up within range, move in and pick it up.”

“Fishin’.” Jayne grunts. “Like sittin’ on the bank an’ waitin’ for the bull-trout to rise.”

“Ain’t ever reckoned on you havin’ the patience to fish.” Mal tries not to grin.

“Lot you don’t know about me.” He says it matter of fact, not mean. “We making this problem sleep in the hold, then?”

“He gets a bunk in the passenger quarters.” Mal looks at Tyler. “You got the run of the ship, ‘cept for the engine-room and the bridge.”

“Yessir, Captain, sir.”


“We really got to take him with us, Sir?”

“Unless you want to be losing that crate, we surely do.” Mal frowns. “Can’t afford to be doing that. But I don’t have to like it.”

“Kinda freezes the blood, don’t it?” Zoe shivers. “Looks just like - him, only smaller. And...cleaner.”

“Be nice for River to have someone her own age about.” Mal says with a forced heartiness. Zoe gives him a Look, and his expression changes like it’s been slapped off.

“We trained grunts that age, Sir. Or have you wiped that from your memory?”

“I try to.” He brightens. “Still, he don’t have to be our problem...”


Tyler is helping his Aunt Larji in the kitchen. He knows how to open cans. Eyes the protein mash with a certain degree of caution.

“Ain’t ever eaten anythin’ blue before. What’s it taste like?”

“Nothing much until I add some dried shrimp...this is standard fare out here, I’m afraid, Ty. Unless your uncle gets to hunting.”

“Oh.” He watches her measure rice. “Is that...often?”

“Not as often as we would like.” She smiles at him. “You ever go hunting?”

“Granpa an’ Uncle Mattie took me, before Uncle got sick.”

“He do the fish thing to ya?” Jayne asks, from where he‘s sitting at the table. Tyler grins.


“The fish thing?” Ilargia isn’t sure she wants to know.

“Nothin’ like wakin’ up ‘cos someone dropped a live fish on your belly. Pa used to do it to me all the time. ‘Til I got hold of a squirrel, let it out in his tent.” Jayne chuckles at the memory. “Gorram thing pissed in his boots. He din’t half whallop me for that.”

Tyler laughs, too. Ilargia looks at, well, she supposes, her menfolk. Such a very odd experience, seeing Jayne’s expressions on another face. Tyler, helping to lay the table, fumbles a plate and blushes, by which Ilargia deduces that River has peered round the door. She’s right.

“Captain requests his Security Officer to the bridge.” She rephrases Mal’s ‘tell that gunhand to stop botherin’ his wife and get up here.’ Smiles at Tyler, to see if she can make him drop the plate again. Luckily, it’s tin. Jayne fields it neatly.

“M’on my way. Gonna hafta get a better grip on things, boy. You lose hold of cargo lines like that, any Cap’n’ll fire you.”

“Yessir.” Tyler mumbles. Watches River flit back up the corridor, looks down hastily as she looks back. Ilargia watches them, bites her lip. Jayne’s right, Mal has the sense of an egg when it comes to women, but eventually even he’s going to notice a couple of hormonal teenagers.


“Why’ve I gotta look after him?” Jayne whines.

“’Cos he’s your kin. You keep him out from under foot, ‘til this job is done.” Mal grins evilly. “You’re gettin’ old, letting a boy slip past you.”

“Huh. Kid was trained to hunt by my Pa, Mal. Same man as trained me.”

“That kid looks up to you, Jayne. Don’t let him down.”

Little flare of panic in Jayne’s eyes.

“Last fool kid looked up to me died with a chestful of shot.”

Mal’s expression twitches for a second. Jayne ain’t a soldier, the way Mal was. Never commanded men. Killed a deal, but never ordered ‘em to die.

“Then you better be real careful.”

Jayne nods. Scuffs.

“Weren’t much older’n him, first time I shipped out.”

Mal remembers a fresh-faced youth, chin jutted as he signs his life away for a Cause.

“Me, neither.” Thinks. “You’d best take him through suit drill after dinner.”


“Jayne, darling, are you okay?”

Ilargia looks up at her husband. He’s got a face on him like a wet weekend on New Melbourne.

“Mal...just reminded me of somethin’ I ain’t too proud of, is all.” Swallows. “I reckon I told you about Higgin’s Moon, din’t I?”

“The place with”

“Yeah.” Looks away. “I don’t want Tyler gettin’ hurt on account of he thinks his Uncle is some kind of gorram hero. M’good with my fists, an’ there ain’t a better shot on this boat, but I ain’t no ways special. Just a hired gun, is all.”

“Jayne,” she slaps his chest lightly to get his attention, “I expect that kind of navel gazing from Simon, not you. So you listen. You’re a good man. You aren’t going to let anything happen to that kid. And neither is anyone else on this boat.”

“They’re gonna tell him...” Drops to a shamed mumble.

Ilargia isn’t used to Jayne having self-doubts. The man is a human battering-ram, charging through life, living in the now. It’s part of what she loves about him. To see him so worried hurts her.

“Tell him what?”

“That I ain’t worth lookin’ up to.”

“Why not? He’s grown up with tales of you flying round the stars, engaging in exciting gun battles. And I don’t think anyone is going to land you in trouble for the hell of it.” She grins. “Even the Doc.”

But Jayne looks at her with haunted eyes.

“He got every right to, bao bei. I ain’t done right by him or his sister in the past.”

“That was the past. We‘re all one crew now.” And I think River has other things on her mind, she thinks, but does not add.


Simon looks out of the Infirmary in response to a clatter and a thump. It’s just Tyler, failing to navigate the corner of the table with his kitbag.

“Oh, I’m real sorry, sir, din’t mean to disturb you.”

“It’s nothing.” Simon retrieves a couple of books before large feet descend on them. “How are you settling in?”

Tyler is a little in awe of the Doctor. Has the same kinda scrubbed rich look he associates with Uncle Cal, but real clever with it.

“M’doing fine, sir...”

Kaylee pops her head out of a room.

“You can have this room, Tyler. Just gotta find you another blanket, is all.”

“Got one.” River trots past, carrying something that looks suspiciously like Simon’s quilt. Simon sighs.

“Unless you want to find yourself made up into the bed, I would stand here for a moment.”

Tyler, still a little unsure, ventures a grin. Doctor don’t seem too uppity, an’ he’s younger than Tyler thought. Reckons he won’t get clouted if he asks a question.

“What’s it like, crewin’ with my Uncle?”

Simon considers. He has the opportunity to tell this boy exactly what a mean, untrustworthy, sack of trouble Jayne is. So he’s quite surprised to hear himself say,

“We’re lucky to have him. A very handy man in a fight.”

“My Ma always says there’s nobody as can fight like my Uncle Jayne.”

“He gets plenty of practice.”

Jayne ducks back in the stairwell, says a short thank-you to whoever is surely lookin’ over him. He might even be nice to the Doc...Clatters his boots some.

“Larji says dinner is ready.”


Thursday, August 3, 2006 5:35 AM


Goody! Another chapter. The addition of Tyler on the job should prove interesting and if he does a good job, he'll never go back home. That might be good for River, but maybe not so much for Mal, who is starting to feel somewhat old, I think.

The scene where Jayne shows his remorse over the killed mudder is good. I like that he is concerned over what others think on him and that mixes with his guilt over the boy's death. The past doesn't ever seem to let go.

Waiting for more.

Thursday, August 3, 2006 6:59 AM


I'm picturing young Adam Baldwin... yum!! And River watching from afar is great. You just know there's some plotting going on in her devious mind. :)

I agree with Artemis - I love how being married has put Jayne in touch with his softer side, and seeing him able to show his remorse and doubts openly is a beautiful thing. It's great character development for him.

I do get a little confused by the shifting POV within sections. It's something I'm new to paying attention to, and I'm only used to the way I do it. (Which is certainly not the only way!) But sometimes you lose me as to who's voice it is and who's telling the story.

No biggy - I love the story! And I do love how your Jayne.

Thursday, August 3, 2006 5:10 PM


River and Tyler, sittin' in a tree....

Oh my GAWD are they cute together!

Of course the crew would have Jayne's back with Tyler. That's what family does. (and in this case I mean the family that lives on Serenity)

For the record, I was thrown by your writing style at first but it's gotten easier as I've gotten to know you. AND I find that when I write I tend to follow something close to your style. I figure it's a matter of taste. I say keep on with how you've started. So as to preserve the voice of the arc. Just my two cents.

Sunday, August 6, 2006 7:14 AM


Another great chapter...your characterization of Jayne is my absolute favorite.


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