Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Third in the short episodes following BIRTHDAY. Jayne and his shadow have a conversation ... Your comments are greatly appreciated, and sometimes acted on!


She hadn’t come down for a meal since they’d got back from Osiris, or if she had, she’d sneaked around grabbing something when no-one was looking. Couldn’t be having that. So he waited up, playing card games. He’d gotten fed-up playing Beat the Clock, and had gone onto Patience before she slid around the door frame.

“There’s a tray over there if’n you want it,” Jayne said, not looking up.

“Hungry,” she said.

“Must be. Ain't eating much, if anything.”

Keeping her distance, almost hugging the wall, River hurried behind the counter, finding the food he’d put aside for her and eating quickly.

Jayne concentrated on the cards in front of him, only listening to the sound of her chewing, hiding between the cabinets like a wild animal. After a minute she stood up, looking at him sitting at the table, his bottle of bourbon and two mugs next to him. “Wanna play cards?” he asked, placing the red eight on the black nine.

“Don’t you want me to talk?” River gazed at him, chewing on the last piece of bread before swallowing.

“Nope. Figure everyone else has tried that, so you ain't gonna want me to do the same.” He turned over the next card, stared at it for a moment then placed it down on the small stack. “Don’t look like this one’s gonna pan out,” he added conversationally.

River moved a little closer and looked over his shoulder. “Put this pile there …” She pointed. “… and then you can start a new one with the ace.”

“Thanks. Didn’t notice that one.” He did as she suggested.

“Why are you here?”

He glanced up at her for the first time, seeing the dark shadows under her eyes, the paleness of an already pale complexion, the way her cheeks were sunken in slightly. “You getting all metaphysical on me?”

He saw her lips twitch slightly. “Have you been reading the dictionary again?” she asked.

“Nah. But can’t help but pick up a few long words living on this boat.” He picked up his mug and waved it at her. “Not sure I understand the meaning of most of ‘em, but I can use ‘em as well as the next man.” He took a mouthful of alcohol and felt it burn its way down his throat.

“You didn’t answer.”

He studied her, the loose white top that looked like she’d worn it for days, the tight black shorts, her hair hanging in greasy bangs around her face. “You’re brother’s gettin’ counselling from ‘Nara, so I figured you might just want some company.” He poured a little bourbon in the spare mug. “Here.” He held it out to her.


“Look, if you don’t want a drink, that’s fine. Just being neighbourly.” He went to pour the contents into his own mug but she had snatched it out of his fingers before he could complete the action.

“No.” She sat down carefully on the chair next to him, hugging the mug to her. “I meant why would you think I needed company.”

“Oh, I don’t figure you need anything, moonbrain. You’re too all-fire independent for that. No matter your mind is off with the fairies most of the time, but I know you can look after yourself.”

“I didn’t,” she whispered.

“No, well, on the odd occasion you can’t, that’s what you have families for.” Jayne threw the cards onto the table in disgust. “Ain't working out. Better to start again.”

“Start again,” she echoed.

“Yeah.” He collected the boards and started to shuffle. “Lay ‘em all out again, start from scratch. Easy.”


“Bit like life, I guess.” His lips curved a little. “Had me so many new starts, I kinda lost track. Last one was coming on board here, taking the job Mal offered. Though for the life of me I ain't sure why I did.”

“Bed and board.”

He laughed. “Yeah, guess it was mostly that.”

“But that wasn't the last.” She sipped the bourbon. “Ariel.”

He flushed. “That was … I was stupid.”

“Money was too good.”

“Mal coulda spaced me, was going to, I know that for a fact.” He thought back to that day, standing in the outer airlock, hearing the air whistling past the opening, knowing that, any moment, he was going to be sucked out, his blood boiling out his ears. “But he gave me a second chance. Still don’t know why.”

“Because you repented of your weakness.”

He glared at her. “Now you’re trying to sound like the Preacher.”

“I miss him,” she said softly.

“Yeah, me too, moonbrain.”

They sat for a moment, remembering Book and the odd, hopeful effect he’d had on them all.

“Lots of second chances,” River finally murmured.

“That’s what every day is.” Jayne placed the shuffled deck on the table, aligning the edges carefully. “Chance to make things right. Stop things going wrong.”

“I made things go wrong.” Her voice was so pale it sounded like a ghost.

“Guess you did.”

She stared at him. “That’s …”

“Ain't that what you wanted to hear?” He turned to look into her face. “Most womenfolk I know just want me to agree with ‘em. How come you’re different?”

“I …”

“You know it weren't your fault, River.” He didn’t reach out to touch her, didn’t take her hand. “Weren't like you said to that Lon, here I am, take me, do with me what the diyu you like. Turn me back into some kinda killing machine.” He paused. “Did ya?”


“Then how can it be your fault?”

“I let him.”

“Just lay there, did ya? Agreed with everything he said? Guess you didn’t fight him?” Jayne shook his head. “I know he took something of yours, took that control you’ve been building up, brick by brick. And it’s hard. I know. Been times in my life I've lost … things, people. Ya asked me once what I was running away from. Well, that’s one. Losing … something.” He paused, pushing his own memories back where they belonged. “And control is something none of us like to give up.”

“I couldn’t stop it.”

“And you woulda, if you could.” Jayne poured the last of his bourbon down his throat. “We all know that, even Mal, and he ain't exactly the sharpest pencil in the box.”

This time a smile actually flitted across the young psychic’s face before she said, “Called me River.”

“That’s your name, ain't it?”

“Never used it before.”

“Well, ain’t likely to ever again, so don’t go getting used to it.”

“Jayne, I …” She sniffed. “Why are you being nice to me?”

“Hell, if it’s that bad, I’ll stop.”

“No, don’t.” She sniffed again. “Just wondered why.”

“I guess it’s ‘cause I missed ya, ya sha gua chun zi. Hangin’ round me, annoyin’ me. Got kinda used to you.”

She stared at him then burst into silent tears.

He gathered the weeping girl into his arms, lifting her up as if she weighed nothing, and carried her over to the easy chair in the corner. Sitting back, he held her, letting her cry until his t-shirt stuck to his skin, letting her purge herself of the pain, the emotion, not saying a word. Eventually she cried herself out, slipping into a dreamless sleep, pillowed against his chest. He could have taken her back to her room, but somehow the thought that she might wake, cold and alone, ate at him. So he just settled himself back, holding the girl to him, and closed his eyes. Just so long as he woke before anyone else came in and got entirely the wrong idea.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006 4:35 AM


I love reading stories where Jayne is a big softie! This was a great moment and I think it's totally appropriate that River would find some kind of acceptance from Jayne.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 7:21 AM


What Tamsibling said, I agree entirely.

Love the insight into Jayne's head.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 11:24 AM


I liked the interaction between River and Jayne, and how he watches out for her without saying that is what he is doing. Just there in case she needs someone and that is lovely. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 2:20 PM


But seriously heartfelt, cool insightful stuff. Someone like Jayne is often hard to us in a fic because its hard to know how much of a softer side he has. But like all of the crew family is so important to him and River is his moonbrained lttle sister.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 3:36 PM


See...this is the kind of stuff I would point to prove that Rayne could work. Probably wasn't the intention of Jane0904...but the level of mutual understanding and hands-off assistance River and Jayne enjoy so much really help show how for all of River and Jayne's differences, they can help each other out a lot when the need comes along:D


Wednesday, November 15, 2006 7:27 PM


The initial noncholance of Jayne towards River here was my favourite part. So casual, but saying as much with his words as without them.

I think it was great that it was Jayne to try and comfort River, though using a decidedly unique approach from all the others...couldn't have written it better myself.

Thursday, November 16, 2006 6:05 AM


Thank-you. Aren't many that see the tenderness peeking out under Jayne's bluster. Thinking he might be a bit skittish even so; after all River knifed him *and grabbed him by the manparts. A guy would remember that<G>.



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Now and Then - a Christmas story
“Then do you have a better suggestion? No, let me rephrase that. Do you have a more sensible suggestion that doesn’t involve us getting lost and freezing to death?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little standalone festive tale that kind of fits into where I am in the Maya timeline, but works outside too. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Epilogue
"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

Monied Individual - Part XX
Mal took a deep breath, allowing it out slowly through his nostrils, and now his next words were the honest truth. “Ain’t surprised. No matter how good you are, and I’m not complaining, I’ve seen enough battle wounds, had to help out at the odd amputation on occasion. And I don’t have to be a doc myself to tell his leg ain’t quite the colour it should be, even taking into account his usual pasty complexion. What you did … didn’t work, did it?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]

Monied Individual - Part XIX
“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

“Yeah, he’s a mystery to all of us,” Mal said. “Even his wife.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part XVIII
Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

Snow at Christmas
She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

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Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XVI
He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee finds the problem with Serenity, and Jayne starts his quest. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XV
“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]