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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
River/Jayne on a job, angsty, Mal POV. After BDM. PG13ish.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1702 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
My first attempt at angst, please let me know if it's effective or not.
Disclaimer: characters and 'verse not mine, Joss's
Warning: character death
Could Have Been
After his mercenary’s betrayal of the two newest members of his crew, Malcolm Reynolds kept an eye out when they were on jobs. Just in case the money got good, and Jayne got stupid again. But there weren’t any more such episodes, and gradually he let that guard down; not all the way, but lowered. Jayne seemed to be proving his worth, showing some loyalty. Stopped being so mean to the doc and his li’l sis, even. So Mal let his guard down, and that was, he reflected later, one of his more stupid life moves.
No one knew why Jayne was late to breakfast that morning. It wasn’t like him to be last in line for food. He slid into his chair and didn’t explain anything, and after a few curious glances everyone forgot about it. Except remembering, Mal thought River had been very small in her chair that day, quiet, and didn’t eat much. He didn’t remark it at the time, because that was how River frequently was. Even now, he wasn’t sure; maybe he was just latching unto insignificant things and making them seem big.
But everyone knew what Jayne really was; the man didn’t ever try to hide it. And everyone, except maybe Kaylee, knew people rarely change. So why they’d all been stupid enough to be surprised at what happened, Mal couldn’t figure . . .
No one knew why, climbing unto the mule for the ride to the job, River had chosen to get in on the side Jayne already occupied, crawling over him and then hovering mid-crawl with her serious face inches from his annoyed one. When she spoke it sounded like she was choking on tears.
“Seemingly insignificant choices can damn your soul or lift you to atonement,” she said, and they all heard it, and even then no one’d had their mental lights on bright enough to know something was up. Jayne had shoved her off him and over into the corner of the seat with a snarl. Girl’d collapsed there and her brother ran to check on her, and though she was fine they were a mite late to the rendezvous point. On the way, Mal kept hearing snatches of words from the back seat; “Losing valuables,” River said, and even though it had been months since she’d had a breakdown, Mal began to worry they should’ve left her back on the boat. He twisted around to see her out of the corner of his eye; she wasn’t looking at anybody, had her head down. “Peace. Family. Acceptance, all away in the black like they didn’t matter, never mattered.” She angled herself toward the merc who hunkered in the opposite corner. “Do you want to lose the babies, Jayne?”
Jayne had ignored her, instead of growling like he usually did and insulting her. Mal felt Zoë eying him sideways, a “should I turn this mule around and drop her off?” look. He debated, until River turned back towards the front with slumped shoulders.
“No, I am capable.” She met the captain’s gaze and her own was clear, with an oddly cognizant sadness in it. “I will do what is necessary.” Mal turned back around and nodded to Zoë to keep driving.
Neither Mal nor Zoë had known why, after they’d all gotten off and three of them entered the tavern where business was to ensue, Jayne had disappeared. Because he was back within five minutes, and said he’d had to take a leak, they didn’t question him. River had leaned over to him, her face kind of desperate. “It’s not enough. You don’t understand intentions,” she told him. “Quiet,” he hissed back at her. Mal was about to question River when their contacts appeared at the end of their table. He twitched his chin, inviting them to sit, but before they could River stood.
Later he asked why she waited so long. She told him she wanted to give Jayne every chance possible. It was maybe one of the last sense-making things he would hear from her.
“Captain,” she’d said, standing there between the locals who were still on their feet and the seated Jayne. There were tears in her eyes. “Jayne is a betrayer but he didn’t know --traps have been laid.” She had her gun in her hand, and even while Mal pulled out his he saw anger, then guilt flash across Jayne’s features as the other man surged to his feet.
But the two liumang* at the end of table had their guns out too. What Jayne did next puzzled Mal most of all; the man didn’t go for his own gun. In that split second, he grabbed River around the waist and flung her away from the crossfire. Then he went down, but Mal didn’t register that immediately because he was firing rounds into their shorter attacker. Zoë had already taken care of the taller; he’d gotten off a shot but it only dug wood chunks out of the floor.
When both of the lese* locals were down, and the barkeep was querulously raising his voice about damages, Mal had time to look around. Jayne was laid out on the floor with a mighty pool of blood soaking the boards beneath him, and River was crawling towards him from where he’d thrown her. There were tears, but no sound coming from her.
Neither Mal nor Zoë knew why she cried, or why at his side she held his head in her hands and crooned wordlessly at him. Jayne’s eyes were still open, but flickering. He tried to speak around the wet bubbles in his throat. From the way he struggled for air and the amount of blood, Mal figured both a lung and a major artery were hit.
He couldn’t bring himself to feel much sorry about it. But he was calling the boat for the doctor.
“No point,” he heard from Jayne on the floor, and mentally agreed. Zoë knew as well as he did that applying pressure and such-like was useless. She was talking to someone in a corner about disposal of the bodies that were already dead, so Mal just stood and watched his ex-merc and his killer/pilot.
“Didn’t mean to get anybody hurt,” he heard Jayne say to the girl. “Was promised, it was only the money. No one would know . . . they’d take”- he coughed blood, turned his head to spit it out, “-the cargo, pay me for the tip, give us a heads-up on another job. No”- he was gurgling, coughed again but it didn’t much help, “no big deal.”
“Not worth it,” River moaned, slipping down beside him to cradle his head on her arm, disregarding the blood seeping into her dress. Mal moved forward to pull her away, but the look she gave him was so ferocious he faded back and stood helplessly.
“Pocket,” Jayne breathed. Mal could barely hear him. River wiped her wet face on the arm that wasn’t bloody and reached into his left pants pocket and pulled out a little bag.
“Payment for my tip-off,” the breaths he took were whistling now, “take it. Not quite worth the cargo, but something . . .” his words trailed off and his head relaxed back against River’s arm. “Glad you didn’t get hurt,” he told her, and that was all. He died with his cheek nestled in the crook of her elbow.
River draped her upper torso over his still chest. She stroked his hair gently with one reddened, trembling hand and closed her eyes.
“Oh, Jayne,” her voice was small and cracked, a ‘verse of sorrow, “you could’ve been so much more.” And then, quieter; “I wanted to save you.” And later, quieter still; “I wanted to save you so you could save me.”
When Simon arrived, they had to drag her up off the body. Mal didn’t even consider taking it with them. They left it outside the town, in the sun, with the little bag of silver.
* liumang; bastard
Monday, August 7, 2006 6:24 AM
Monday, August 7, 2006 6:45 AM
Monday, August 7, 2006 6:46 AM
Monday, August 7, 2006 7:45 AM
Monday, August 7, 2006 8:52 AM
Monday, August 7, 2006 12:18 PM
Monday, August 7, 2006 11:31 PM
Friday, August 11, 2006 3:24 AM
Tuesday, March 6, 2007 9:35 AM
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