C.C.M Ch 12
Sunday, November 26, 2006

They've dealt with pirates and the Alliance. Now they have to deal with each other.


An odd feeling of anti-climax on the ship. They are safe, unpursued and in possession of their prize, with a course set in for a rendez-vous off Beylix. Reaction takes them different ways. Kaylee is preventing Simon from getting clean and tidy again; he looks just fine to her, all greased up. Simon, against his better judgement, but amused, poses for a capture which will come back to haunt him some day, he fears.

Mal stomps onto the bridge, throws himself into his seat.

“Anything wrong , sir?”

“No, everything’s shiny.” Punches buttons savagely. “I just love falling over necking teenagers on my boat.”

Ah. Zoe sits back. She’s not going to say ‘told you so’. Waits.

“Gorram, Zoe. Girl just looked at me, and said ‘walk on by’, like I ain’t gonna care that she’s bein’...mauled by one of Jayne’s kin!” Bang, stab. “Well, we ain’t keepin’ him. Don’t care how many of them big soft eyes she makes at me.”

Mal’s grinding his teeth. She can hear him. Little devil voice (sounds suspiciously like Wash) prods her to say,

“What does the Doc think on it?”

“Oh, she done told him to walk on by, too.”

Course he’s gonna worry about his li’l albatross. She ain’t more than a bit of a girl, an’ those Alliance hun dan cutting her about an’ all...needs someone as can take care of her (‘cos someone that can leave a whole room of folks in bits needs that, truly.) He’s the Captain, it’s his job to worry, his job to protect her. Should be him telling her that everything was going to be fine, should be him...Mal’s mind slams to a halt.


Mal is aware that the one of architects of their present safety has proved her worth over again. (And that they owe more than a little to the kid.) Turns to Zoe. There ain’t many folks in the ‘Verse got judgement he trusts above his own.

“What do we do now, Zoe?”

“I’m going to have a sleep.” Shrugs, deliberately misunderstands him. “Eight hours to Beylix.”

“Didn’t mean that.” Hand rests on the clipboard. They both look at it a beat.

“Guess you’ll have to rely on her gentle and forgiving nature, Sir.”

Mal closes his eyes.

“I’m humped, then.”

But he heaves himself out of his chair, and takes a walk back to the kitchen.

“Reckon we need to talk.”

“I think we do.” Ilargia is sitting at the table. Mal looks at the calm face, steady gaze, and sighs.

“You gonna make me say it?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Well, then...” Wipes a hand over his face, “I guess I’m sorry.”

“And do you know what you’re sorry for?”

“Don’t go pushing me, woman.” But they share a tired smile.

“Being in fear for your life can make a body tetchy.”

Mal regards the get-out clause, then regretfully jettisons it.

“Had no call to go taking it out on other folks. We don’t know each other so well, I’m thinking.”

“Told you before, all you have to do is ask me.”

“Yeah, but you was hiding a cargo of contraband in my ship at the time. You might forgive me being a bit twitched...” He sighs. “You ever gonna tell us why you really ran?”

“I did. I simply couldn’t stand being where I was any longer.” Mouth sets.

“More to it than that.”

“There’s always more to it than that.” Eyes are a fortress. “There’s no big tragedy, no big secret. I just don’t think a failed marriage and a burnt out career are in any way comparable to what you people have been through. I lost things, not people.” Softens a little. “Just...things I don’t want to remember. But...don’t doubt my intelligence, Captain.”

“I don’t ever do that. Conjure you know your way around the paperwork better’n me...”

“If you’re looking for an administrator, Captain, we’ll have to renegotiate my wages.”

“You’re gorram hard work, woman.”

“But I make excellent bao.”

“More to you that a light hand with dumplings, and we both know it.” He can see why Treutlen was so confounded. She’s so clearly from the Core. She ain’t quite frontier tough, but she has some mighty odd skills for a woman born in the centre of the ‘Verse. And she don’t have that buttoned up way of thinking he reckons on Core folk having.

“It’s not just me you need to...speak to.”

Mal looks momentarily hunted.

“I ain’t got time to be worrying over hurt feelings and the like, Gia. Got a whole boatload of folks to think on and steer through these times.”

“I know it. But River and Ty...they’re both young, and possibly a bit scared. Don’t ask them to be machines, Captain. People don’t work like that.” Both of them think on the evidence of that, recently departed from the hold. “She’s just stretching her wings a little. And Tyler”

Mal, confused, but somehow reassured, watches her walk down the corridor.


Tyler is sitting on the steps, looking glum. His uncle stirs him with a boot.

“What you sulkin’ for?”

“I want to do me some proper work, Uncle Jayne.”

“Caught and cut that tin box up. That counts. An‘ you got yourself a girl to swagger at outta it.”

Tyler hunches his shoulder against the playful teasing.

“Just I was expectin’...thought it was gonna be more than flying about and playing dress-up.”

“You wanted bullets flyin’, that it?” Jayne snorts. “Dumbass kid. Getting shot hurts.” Hitches a sleeve, shows the ugly gash in his shoulder. “Doc dug a lump of lead outta me. Knows his work, ‘cos I still got my arm, but a mite lower, and I’d be wiping my butt with air. An’ you think what would happen, a ship that size starts shooting at us? We’d be nothin’ but a heap of scrap in the Belt.” Shakes his head. “No point doin’ a job if you ain’t alive to enjoy your pay.”

“You did it. Left home and made your fortune.”

“Fortune?” Jayne stares at him. “I jumped planet ‘cos I was young and stupid, an’ I bin too ashamed to come back, ‘cos I done nothin’ to be proud of with my life, you hear me? I killed and I stole and I got in with some real bad company. But I fell in with some decent folk, gave me a chance I din’t deserve, an’ then I met Larji. Woman like that deserves better’n some space trash, so I’m trying. But I ain’t a good man, and I ain’t a hero, an’ you don’t want my kind of life, ‘cos it’s hard and ugly and it don’t last.”

“I ain’t afraid of dyin’.” Tyler lies.

“You should be. Ain’t nobody wants to die, ‘less’n they’re sick in the head.”

Panic and bewilderment in both pairs of eyes.

“Don’t go looking up to me, boy.” Jayne says, softly. “I ain’t worth it. You go admirin’ folks, you look to the Captain.”

“Ain’t the Captain sends money home...”

“It’s the Captain as decides on our jobs, Ty. His ship, his rules. I work for him, you understand.” Sets his jaw. “We’re takin’ you back.”

“I ain’t going.”

“You do as I tell you, boy. You ran off without a word to your Ma, and she’ll be fretting herself sick about you.”

Two scowls, the mirror image. Jayne has a sickening sense of history. Another young man, fists balled.

“...I’m goin’, you hear me? I ain’t stayin’ on this rock, cutting ships for a few coin. I can make me more credits than you see in a month out there.”

Time has scabbed over the memories, but now they are raw again.


Somehow, all the women of Serenity have gathered in the seating area. River has cleaned her fantastic eye make-up off, and is looking very young and shiny in consequence. Smiles shyly.

“Tyler is simple. No darkness to him.” A slight and natural complacency. “Thinks I’m pretty.”

“And you like him.”

“Not Romeo and Juliet. Only want some fun.” Guilt and worry. “Is this wrong?”

“No. All very natural. Just...don’t, well, try not to hurt him, heart-wise, I mean.”

“Kissin’s fine.” Kaylee grins. “Don’t mean you got to marry him or nothin’.”

“Try before you buy.” Zoe contributes. River goes even more pink, but the laughter is kind.

Not the kind of thing Zoe is used to. Plenty of barrack room backchat, one of the boys. But sitting with a bunch of women...she has little in common with them. But how much do they have in common with each other? Gia, smart and sensible, born worlds away from the Black, but choosing to live on a ship, with all its attendant discomfort and privation, for love of something different and dangerous. Kaylee takes this heap of parts and makes it fly, her freedom from a poor and dusty world. And then there is River. Little enigma, but not looking remotely dangerous at the moment, skinny little girl, as Kaylee braids her hair. But when she flies...Zoe does not resent River for herself, but as she sits in Wash’s chair (and it will always be Wash’s chair) there is sometimes a quality in the easy way she reaches for switches, turns her head with a grin, that disquiets. Zoe does not believe in ghosts. Looks again. Nothing more normal for two teens than to find themselves a dark corner to go necking in. Slight smile curves her mouth - nothing more normal for any folk. Her ears have caught the heavy tread of boots. The big merc can be soundless when he wants to be, but most of the time he announces his presence to the world by stamping on the deck like it offends him.

The boots retreat. Jayne ain’t afraid of much, but stepping into a room full of gossipin’ women is more than any man should have to deal on. Grumbles his way up onto the bridge. Mal is scowling at the stars.

“We’ll be taking the crate to a rendez-vous off Beylix.” Looks at Jayne. “After that, we got a small window to take a side-trip. Got more than one lot of goods on board needs to be taken to its rightful owner.”

“Ain’t that the truth.” Hunches his shoulders. “He done a good job, though.”

“Reckon he’ll stay?”

“Dunno.” Jayne looks sidelong. “Ain’t a deal of work back home. Reckon he’s got the grit to make it out here.”

“We can’t be keeping him on board. Don’t have the room. ‘Sides, you don’t want to be looking over your shoulder every job we do.”

“I remember my sister changing his gorram diapers, Mal. An‘ now he‘s taking on the ‘Verse with a .38 Eriksen.”

“Can’t live his life for him, Jayne.”

“I know it.” The big man sighs. “Just...don’t want him livin’ mine, is all.”

“He’s made himself a choice.”

“Ain’t you is gonna hafta tell his ma.” Slumped shoulders. “Gorramit, Mal, spent years kicking about the ‘Verse, gettin’ myself shot at so as the folks back home din’t have to go worryin’ themselves about where their next paycheck was coming from. Now the fool kid thinks I’m some kind of hero, and when he gets himself peppered with shot, it’s gonna be my fault. An‘ I won‘t ever be able to go back and face ‘em after that.”

When Mal first met Jayne, it wasn’t what you might call an auspicious meeting. Fact is, he was the wrong end of a shotgun, and being made aware that his cunning avoidance of all and sundry didn’t include the large man with the hunter’s eyes in front of him. Took the big man on to save his skin, but he recognised his talents from the get go. He’s one of the biggest, meanest, dirtiest fighters Mal has ever met, a brawler, a tracker, a deadshot with most any weapon you give him. Not too bright, and not too honest, but not the dimwitted scumbag he’d seemed at first meeting. Deadwood had been a real surprise. But you could never tell what would drive a man.

“Jayne, we both know you ain’t a hero. But you got one thing as would keep you on any crew.” Mal starts to grin. “Ain’t any Captain gonna let the best cook this side of Londinium go waltzing off.”

Jayne stares at him for one dangerous moment. Then he laughs.

“You gorram...keep your thieving hands off my wife.”

“Wouldn’t dare go touchin’. More scared of her than I am of you.”

“She don’t want to stay on Deadwood any more than I do.” Jayne says, a small burst of confidence. “It...ain’t home no more, Mal.” Gestures awkwardly, takes in the stars, the ship. “Been out here a long time, don’t know as I could ever get used to one sky again.”

They both look at the stars, remembering in their own way.

A gangling youth, a head taller than half the men round him, shouldering up a ramp into a dark cargo bay. Had a hammock stretched out by the engine-room, and those engines weren’t half as quiet and clean as li’l Kaylee keeps Serenity. And the grub weren’t nothin’ special either. Needed a good shot of whisky to keep it down. It ain’t what he wants for Ty.

A young man, face tight with purpose, new boots pinching and the squeak of new leather from the coat over his shoulders, presenting his papers to an avuncular officer. Taking one last look at the prairies he always thought he’d come back to, one day, then marching up the ramp with the indomitable assurance of the young. Didn’t take long to knock the youth out of him, not once the dying started. He sighs.

“Reckon we can find the time to see if anyone has a bunk spare.”

Jayne nods, grateful. He wouldn’t ever ask outright for a favour; not his way. But...he’s grown to trust Mal. Still ain’t ever gonna call him ‘sir’, mind.


Sunday, November 26, 2006 9:48 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER that's the way to come back to the fold, SpaceAnJL! Brilliant dialogue, beautiful character moments and bountiful humour!


Can't wait to see how Jayne's conversation with his sister abour Tyler goes. Doubt it's gonna be anything resembling smooth;)


Sunday, November 26, 2006 10:44 AM


Welcome back!

One fine story, told in a mighty fine manner.

can't wait for more.

Gonna repeat BEB by saying brilliant dialogue.

Sunday, November 26, 2006 11:20 AM


I really liked this, especially the thoughts Jayne has about his own youth and running away. The man has grown and that is good to see. Also loved the rest of the banter and dialogue too. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, November 26, 2006 5:13 PM


Very nice, very nice. I laughed out loud and snorted a few times. I'm still smiling.
Cap'n said he's sorry? You've done the impossible. Pork on the wing!
Piiigs iiiin spaaaaaace!(sorry, it's late here).

Monday, November 27, 2006 5:05 AM


Welcome Back, SpaceAnJL! It's been awhile, and this was was worth the wait. Hope life is being a little kinder.

<Took the big man on to save his skin, but he recognised his talents from the get go. He’s one of the biggest, meanest, dirtiest fighters Mal has ever met, a brawler, a tracker, a deadshot with most any weapon you give him. Not too bright, and not too honest, but not the dimwitted scumbag he’d seemed at first meeting. Deadwood had been a real surprise. But you could never tell what would drive a man.>

It's writing like this and your perceptiveness that has made me a huge fan of your work.

"More, please?" *holds out bowl, grins hungrily*


You must log in to post comments.



The Road to Haven: Chapter 6: The World, The Flesh and The Devil
The crew are seeing things, remembering things...not all of it is good, not all of it is real and some of it is very strange indeed...

The Road to Haven: Chapter Five: Only Connect
A very old ship, a very nervous crew and a very pissed off Captain.

The Road to Haven: Chapter 4: In Strange Pursuit of Alternative Truths
More WytchAnJl weirdness. What secrets does this old ship hold?

The Road to Haven: Chapter 3: Girders of Babel
Last chapter for today. Wouldn't want to be flooding the BSR, would we? Still us, still crazy after all these years...

The Road to Haven: Chapter 2: In The Maybe World
A WytchAnJL production. Er...what was that? And why is a crazy old man waiting for it?

The Road to Haven: Chapter 1: The Everlasting First
A collaboration between Wytchcroft and SpaceAnJL. Set after 'Those Left Behind', and a sort-of sequel to 'Bell, Book and Candle'...I'm posting it, 'cos Wytch is locked out. Enjoy. Or run away screaming. Your call.

Tic Tac Tao: Ch. 1 A Game of You
Zen II. The start of the sequel, reposted. The usual AnJLverse weirdness - space pirates, assassins, government conspiracies, seafood...

Feegles on a Firefly
A little stand-alone Crackfic. It bothers me that my brain works like this.

Viva New Vegas: 6. Blue Harvest
All Jayne wants to do is finish his breakfast and get back to his wife. Just there's a gang of bikers think a bit different.

Viva New Vegas: 5. The Good, The Bad and The Aesthetically Challenged
Jayne meets the locals.