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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE
Tyler is takin' notice of his new surroundings...
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 956 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Tyler is still too excited with it all to sleep.
It had felt like a home round that big table. Even the blue things din’t taste too bad, once Aunt Larji’d made little patties of ‘em, and covered them in sauce.
Then Uncle Jayne had taken him through wearin’ a spacesuit. He’d near suffocated himself through not connecting the airlines right, an’ Uncle had laughed, made him do it again. Told him if he was real lucky, Cap’n might let him do a walk outside.
“We really goin’ into the Belt?”
“Goin’ to the edge of it. Won’t be goin’ in less River has a crazy turn.”
Tyler thinks on the pretty dark eyes, flushes a little.
“She’s awful young to be a pilot, ain’t she?”
“You’re awful young to be totin’ about, too, boy.” Jayne grins. “You got lucky Cap’n din’t just tip you out the airlock, stowin’ away. Some ships, they’d haul off an’ sell you someplace.”
“Could try.” Tyler bunches his fists. “Anyways, I’m old enough to do a man’s job, now.”
“Heh. Should be in school.”
Tyler mumbles. Jayne is on it in a flash.
“You done what?”
“I quit school. It don’t put food on the table.”
An’ there ain’t a thing Uncle can really say to that, hearin’ his own words flung back at him. Ain’t no secret in the family that it was Jayne kept meat on the table when Granpa was workin’ all shifts to pay the doctor’s bills for Granma and Aunt Em.
Uncle Jayne has always been a kinda hero to him. Ma has a deal of stories about her big brother. Tyler ain’t dumb; he figured out that the jobs ain’t always legal, but the credits as come home are real enough. Got Uncle Mattie up from his sickbed, an’ able to work again. Paid for a set of pants as hadn’t been worn by three cousins before for Tyler himself (an’ when you go to school each day with kids as make fun, that means a deal.) Ma’s proud, though; she won’t go askin’ for handouts, ‘cos that makes Aunt Em turn her nose up and talk out the side of her mouth about stuff. ‘Stead, she tells her folks she’s fine, an’ goes an’ scrubs floors. Thought makes Tyler bunch his fists. He likes his new Aunt - she gave him a second plate of dinner without his askin’, just smiled an’ told him he was like his uncle. He knows that Ma gives him half her dinner some nights, an’ pretends she ain’t hungry...Well, he got himself a gun, now, and he can prove to his uncle an’ the Captain that’s he’s useful.
Thinkin’ about dinner makes him realise that he’s hungry again, so he goes padding out in search of something.
Mal pushes back from the controls, rubs his eyes. They are holding position a ways out at present, since they still need to get a fix on the position of the crate relative to where they are, minus any really big rocks as might be around. Give them all a night’s sleep, while he tries to factor in their young problem.
The young problem ain’t hard to find. Tyler has made himself a sandwich - ends of everything, and lurid sauce dripping out of the unwieldy handful. Chokes on his mouthful when he spies Mal, which ain’t pleasant to see.
“Cap’n, I’m real sorry...”
“Long as you ain’t eaten all my pickles, it’s shiny.”
Tyler looks stricken.
“I din’t realise this all belonged to folk. Uncle Jayne said I could get stuff if I was wantin’...”
Mal is startled to realise that the kid’s proper upset.
“Oh, hey, I was joking, Tyler. You carry on.” He ain’t real hungry, but he finds himself a couple of cookies he stashed where Jayne couldn’t get ‘em, sits at the table with his coffee. Tyler, vaguely reassured, wolfs into his horrible concoction, and Mal tries not to wince. Guesses constant eating is a Cobb thing.
The last of the heartburn special disappears, and Tyler wipes his mouth happily. Mal remembers training kids this age. Kids like Bendis, Li, Monroe...You think the ‘Verse is one big adventure. Some of ‘em never got to find out different.
It don’t take much to get the kid to talk, after all. Sergeant Reynolds was always good with his troops...
“Ma never says, but I know she don’t have it easy ‘cos of me. I bin a shame to her.”
Mal eyes the boy.
“I grew up without my father around, too.” He says mildly. “My Ma raised me on a ranch, planet called Shadow.” Strange, last person he done told anything like that to was that grifting yao nu. Tyler gives him a sidelong glance from under the dark curls.
“Just you and your Ma?”
“Yeah.” And forty hands. But the lad doesn’t need that. “Felt like I had to be the man of the house.”
“S’why I want to be like Uncle. Big and tough, an’ then I can earn enough so Ma won’t hafta do three jobs an’ all.” Shuts his mouth tight.
“Reckon I can get behind that notion.” Mal waits a beat. “You know what your uncle actually does?”
“Takes care of the folks on the ship.” Tyler says promptly. “Got some real good guns, and some real sharp knives, and if that don’t work, he’s got boots and fists.”
“Right.” It’s a good description of Jayne’s job, in earnest. “It ain’t all fightin’ and such, though. Sometimes we just float on through the Black, carrying stuff to folks as need it. An’ this job, we’re just going to find something someone lost.”
“Oh, Deadwood sends out a deal of salvage crews.” Slides his eyes sideways. “Sometimes they salvage stuff folks don’t know they’ve lost.”
“We know the owner of this salvage. An’ he knows us.”
“You botherin’ the Captain, Ty?” Jayne, looking interestingly rumpled, strolls into the kitchen.
“We was talkin’, is all.” Mal grins. “Don’t think you’ll find much of the left overs left over.”
“Gorram.” Jayne settles for pouring something noxious on some cold rice, and settles himself, with a cracking yawn. That sets Tyler off, too. “G’wan off to bed, boy. Need to be fresh if you want to try hacking the Black tomorrow.”
Tyler ducks his head, and scampers. Mal looks after him.
“He’s a good kid.”
“Young idiot done quit school. Reckons he can make it out here.”
“Thought you was his age when you shipped out?”
“Time I was his age, I’d been working the Yards a year or two.”
“Kid needs to find his feet, is all.”
Jayne’s done some uncomfortable math, and reckoned out that he is the same age now as his Pa was, when Jayne decided to kick up. An’ he knows exactly how much trouble a seventeen year old hothead can get into.
“Mal...” Clears his throat. “Gorram, I...I don’t want to see him gettin’ hurt, is all.”
“Oh, bi zui, you thick-headed piece of dung.” So it isn’t the confident voice of command; this is Jayne he‘s talking to. “I trust you to keep those you care about alive.”
They both pause, and busy themselves looking elsewhere for a moment. They don’t do feelings; ain’t manly. Mal clears his throat.
“You really gonna take him for a spacewalk?” Slides his eyes sideways. “Sick as a dog first time I done EVA.”
“That didn’t bother me none.” Closes his mouth tight a moment, then, “Ruined a pair of boots over the first man I killed, though. Blind drunk for two days after.”
“Well, we ain’t got booze to waste.” Mal pushes back from the table. “And anyways, I don’t intend for there to be shootin’ on this job.”
Jayne tilts an eye at him.
“We done had this go-round before, ain’t we?”
“We’re picking up some salvage. Ain’t nobody else out here.”
Tyler follows Jayne around like a large puppy. Even Zoe hides a smile at the sight of the two earnest faces, as Jayne shows the youngster how to clean a gun. Big man is gruff and growling, Tyler matching his frown, all concentration.
“I can handle a gun.”
“Shootin’ folks is different to shootin’ rabbits, boy.”
Sights down Tyler’s rifle, and badly scares Mal, just walking in.
“Gah!” Recovers. “Jayne, we done talked about this. No pointin’ firearms at the Captain.”
“Only way I’d hit you was if I was aimin’ sideways.” Jayne scoffs. “Where’d you get this piece of fei wu?”
“Man at the Cat sold it me.”
“You was at the Cat?” Jayne blinks. “Young devil...well, you was robbed, boy.”
Mal comes over, sights down it, too.
“That’s gonna pull way to the left.”
The discussion becomes bewilderingly technical. And eventually, Jayne huffs, slides a small pistol over the table.
“Never got round to namin’ this one, so I guess she don’t sit so well with me. You see if she does better with you.” He’s gruff, waves away the stumbling thanks. “Man needs a gun as won’t let him down.”
Tyler all but cuddles the thing, fussing about with the holster to check it sits right.
“What’s going on?” Kaylee asks Ilargia.
“The boys are talking out of their arsenals again.” She raises her voice. “Could we put the deathsticks away, please?”
“She always this bossy?” Tyler whispers to his uncle.
“Oh, yeah. Ship’s full of bossy women.” Jayne is still clearing the guns away. “But you don’t ever go upsettin’ the folks as is round your food.”
“Ma says they take turns to spit in the soup if a customer bugs ‘em.”
“Sounds like Jo...you take them small arms, boy, and we’ll rack ‘em properly...”
They can still hear him imparting advice as the two of them head off down the corridor, Tyler doing a fair job of emulating Jayne’s swagger.
“When you’re dirtside, you can kick back, raise hell, but when you’re workin’, you focus. Cap’n tells you to do somethin’, you pay mind to him. Man pays your wages...”
The ‘Verse according to Jayne Cobb.
“Jayne as a role model?” Simon shakes his head.
“Boy wants to make it in the ‘Verse, he needs to be tough. An’ there ain’t nobody does tough like Jayne.” Zoe smiles.
“That is true.” The Doctor sighs. “Because what we really really need is another one of him.”
Ilargia looks serious for a moment.
“There’s a whole family of them, you know. Decent people.”
“An’ he’s the black sheep.” Mal sniggers.
“He’s one of the breadwinners.” She doesn’t like people being rude about her husband. “Picking up a gun was his only option, Captain. Do you want to tell me that you’ve never been in a similar place?”
One of Gia’s little grizwolds. She chucks ‘em into conversations sometimes. ‘Cos she’s tucked in the kitchen, or cuddling up to Jayne, and never tries to take part in any of the planning sessions, they sometimes forget that there is a very sharp mind behind those very observant eyes. Mal bows his head in apology.
“Guess I got no call to be jeering.” He sighs. “Must admit, I was kinda surprised by Deadwood.”
“The lack of swamps and caves?”
“You bin talkin’ to the Doc.”
Ilargia remembers the sight of her husband, pouting over a basket of groceries. If she tells them that Jayne went shopping with his mother, the torment will never cease.
“It was a surprise to me, as well.” She admits. “Did you see much of it?”
“Saw the main part of town, went down to Chinatown. Had some mighty fine dim sum, too. Not that yours ain’t fine.” He adds, hastily.
“We had barbeque.”
“Ooh.” Mal sighs. “Mebbe we should all have stopped by.” Grins. “How’d you get on with Jayne’s Ma?”
“Better than I expected to.” She grins back at him. “If you had stopped by, she would probably have tried to fix you up with a spare cousin. It’s a big family. You’re just lucky we had a small shuttle, or you could have had a horde of Cobblets, all mad for adventure.”
“Any more like him, an’ we’ll be out of rations.”
“How’d you get a girl to fall for you?”
Jayne smirks. Ain’t that many girls about. Li’l crazy has an admirer.
“She like you?”
“Well, findin’ that out allus helps.” Pauses in racking his pistols. “Else you might get a ding round the ear.”
It just so happens that River and Kaylee have found something important to do in the back of the cargo bay. They aren’t sure what, but Kaylee’s confident of her ability to make something convincing up.
Tyler is trying out Jayne’s weight bench, acutely aware of his audience.
“Don’t go pullin’ your muscles tryin’ to impress.” Jayne hisses. “Lotta reps to pump up an’ get a sweat on.” Catches the bar one-handed as Tyler nearly drops it. “An’ killin’ yourself won’t help, neither.”
“You think he’s cute, don’t you?” Kaylee is innocently amused by it, happy that her friend is doing something normal. River feigns indifference, but her eyes shift back.
“Just a boy.” Wrinkles her nose. “Muscles and no brain.”
“’Tain’t always a bad thing.” Kaylee nudges her. “Jayne always says Gia’s smart enough for the two of them. An’ you’re plenty smart.”
“Yes.” River acknowledges that. Then looks worried. “Too smart?” She hazards.
“Don’t think he’s lookin’ at your brain.” Kaylee nudges her again. “He’s definitely lookin’.”
“Huh.” River tosses her head, then slides her eyes sideways. “I...” Gaze sharpens. “We’re there.”
Thursday, August 10, 2006 8:09 AM
Thursday, August 10, 2006 4:15 PM
Friday, August 11, 2006 3:23 AM
Friday, August 11, 2006 8:36 PM
Sunday, August 17, 2008 1:17 PM
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