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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
I've been busy, here's the third story in the 'William Alexander Chronicles' I'm writing. The first one being 'William Finds Serenity' and the second being 'Old Friends, Old Enemies'
This story takes place about six months or so after the second one. It's primarily about William's return to his homeworld of Titan, facing some of his demons and catching up with some people from his past. And though this story is primarily about William (as they all are) I decided to give some developement to Jayne and make him seem more ... I don't know, human?
One thing I try and do is take a line or two lines from the show or movie and have it said by a different character. The opportunity to do that came up several times in this story, so you'll find some familiar lines (more if you've read Those Left Behind and watched the outtakes). I hope you enjoy those.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 926 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
William sat on the bridge of Serenity, absently aware of the system readouts as he read his bible. The ship was quiet as a tomb, the rest of the crew in their bunks; it was just William, the stars, and his thoughts. The ship had its course programmed and it was bound to be smooth sailing, but William didn’t want to leave anything to chance. That and he wanted to be here when they arrived. They were about four hours from Titan.
Home. William thought absently. It’s been years since I’ve been back.
“And you swore you never would.” A voice said from behind him.
“River.” William smiled, not even bothering to turn. He touched the side of his head. “You poking around in here again?” He quickly put his arm around her waist and pulled her onto his lap. She yelped in surprise and the two of them laughed. “You know I don’t like that.” William said as he leaned in for a kiss.
After a moment, River broke away smiling. “Well then, maybe you shouldn’t think so loud.” The two of them started laughing, and William found himself kissing River again, much more passionately this time. River adjusted herself into a more comfortable position. She pressed her forehead against William’s, looking into his eyes. “I love you.”
William flashed a smile. “I love you too.”
“You better.” River said smiling as she leaned in for another kiss.
William finished prepping the flight sequences for entering atmo. Mal and Zoë came into the bridge.
“How’re things going?” Mal asked as he took the co-pilot seat.
“It smells like sex in here.” Zoë commented as she came up behind William.
William ignored her and turned to Mal. “Barring a catastrophe, we should be landing in Riverside in about nine minutes.”
Mal finished strapping in and looked over the diagnostics. “Mal, I’ve been flying ships for years and Serenity for a several months now. I think I can handle this landing.”
“No doubts in your ability, Will,” Mal said without looking up, “just in your focus.”
William clenched his jaw. After a beat, he said, “My focus is fine, Captain. The fact that this is Titan wasn’t even an issue until you made it one just now.”
“If that were the case,” Mal said, finally looking up at William, “you wouldn’t be mad right now.” He smiled. “‘sides, I like to fly my ship now and again.”
William turned back to the console and made some corrections to their trajectory. “I guess,” was all he managed to say.
Zoë put her hand on William’s shoulder. “You ready for this?”
“Was planning to stay on the ship actually.” William said as the ship bucked entering atmo. Once the ship stabilized, he turned to Zoë. “I’m not needed on the job and there’s nothing for me here.”
“Nonsense.” Mal cut in. “You’ve haven’t left Serenity in months now. You need to get off the ship and stretch your legs some.”
“I’ll stretch my legs plenty on the next world. I’m content sitting this one out.” William finished the sequencing that would get them to the landing pad in Riverside
“Why we still talking about this?” Mal asked, standing up. Apparently he was confident that William had things under control. “Take River and go into town. Job’s not ‘til tomorrow, you have plenty of time and you’re going to use it.”
“But Captain …” William started.
Mal cut him off. “You’re going to need to face your demons sooner or later Will. We’re here now, might as well get it done.” Without another word, Mal and Zoë left the bridge.
“Yes sir.” William said tersely as he returned to the controls.
William was walking down the main street of New Bristol arm in arm with River, Jayne and Kaylee not far behind. Kaylee was cradling a sleeping Wash in her arms.
William looked around him, surprised at how little the city had changed. In nearly eight years, things were exactly the same as they’d been the day he left. William looked over at River and she was smiling, looking at everything and everyone. She was always so inquisitive. He smiled despite himself.
They rounded a corner into the main square and William was taken aback by what he saw. In the center of the square was a large fountain, the statue in the middle depicted a man a woman and a child. Even at this distance it was clear to William who they were. A look of concern crossed River’s face when she looked at him. “William, is everything alright?”
He didn’t answer and let her arm go as he walked right up to the edge of the fountain to look at the statue. Just as he thought, it was a statue of his mother, his father and himself. His father looked dignified, wearing the long coat that William himself was wearing now. His mother was standing at his side with her hands on William’s shoulders. William’s likeness was wearing his father’s helmet that was several sizes too big. The depiction of him was so young. He just stared in disbelief.
“Cale, Sophie and William Alexander,” Kaylee said, reading from a plaque. Jayne and River came up behind her to see for themselves. The capture image on the plaque was of William and his parents, just as they were depicted in the statue. “Heroes of the Independents and martyrs to the cause.“ Kaylee continued. “Cale and Sophie were executed soon after conflict ended on Titan by the Alliance Commander sent to negotiate Titan’s surrender. It is still unknown what happened to their son, William…”
“Stop.” William said, taking a seat on the edge of the fountain and looking at the ground. “I’ve heard enough.”
River quickly sat down next to him and put her arm around his shoulder. Kaylee sat on his other side and Jayne next to her. They all sat there in silence for a moment.
It was Jayne who finally spoke. “Why’s everyone so glum?”
Kaylee shot him a look.
“Seriously.” Jayne continued. “Will’s parents are heroes.” He pointed behind him. “They have had a monument erected in their memory. How is this a sad thing?”
Kaylee lightly slapped his arm. “Jayne, you have no concept of human emotion …”
“No,” William cut in, “he’s right.” Jayne gave Kaylee a smug I told you so look. William stood up and went to the plaque. It contained his father’s entire military history and his mother’s war efforts. It also mentioned William’s fascination with his father’s unit. Whoever wrote it knew his family well. He turned to the others, ready to go.
“William?” A voice called out from the street. A fiery redhead came sprinting over. “William Alexander, it is you.” The woman said smiling.
It took William a moment to recognize the woman standing before him. “Kara? I…” William was cut off with a right hook to the face. He fell backward into the fountain.
“You son-of-a-bitch.” The woman said flexing her hand. Jayne immediately stood up and threw a punch at the woman, a punch she sidestepped easily. Jayne threw another punch, the woman catching it this time and, using Jayne’s momentum, flipped him onto his back and pushed her boot against his throat. “Down, puppy.” She said, a wry smile on her face. “This is between the big dogs.”
Before River and Kaylee could even react, William was on his feet and stepping over the edge of the fountain. “Kara,” he yelled, slicking the water out of his hair, “what the Hell was that for?”
“That,” she pointed at his face, “was for disappearing eight years ago. And this,” she removed her foot from Jayne’s throat and embraced William in a bear hug, “is for how much I’ve missed you.”
William returned the hug. “It’s good to see you too, Kara.” They broke the embrace and looked at one another. “You’ve grown up.” William said smiling.
“As have you.” She said, patting him on the shoulder. “Last time I saw you, you were what, fourteen?”
“Fifteen thank you.” He said smiling. River came up and slid her arm next to William’s and took his hand. It was subtle, but enough to indicate that William was hers. William looked around and the others were standing there expectantly. “I’m sorry, where are my manners? Kara, that man you leveled is Jayne, the lovely woman over there is Kaylee and the baby she has with her is Wash. And this,” he squeezed River’s hand and kissed her on the cheek, “this is River.”
Kara took River’s hand in greeting. “So, you’ve managed to steal the boy’s heart, eh? Glad to see it didn’t die after what happened.” She then turned to Jayne and they both looked at one another apologetically. “I’m sorry …” they said in unison and laughed.
Jayne spoke first. “No reason to apologize ma’am, I’m the one that should be apologizin’.” He extended his hand.
“Nonsense.” She took his hand and shook it. “I’m glad to know William fell in with a lot that’s so quick to protect him, and meeting a man that ain’t afraid to hit a woman if the need arises.” She ran her finger playfully along Jayne’s jaw line. When she turned to meet Kaylee, Jayne leaned in close to William. “Please tell me she’s single.”
William laughed. “How the bloody hell should I know? I’ve been gone eight years, remember?”
When all the pleasantries were exchanged, Kara looked at William. “Will, if you’re not too busy, I was actually headed to see your parents. You can join me if you like.”
William did and at the same time didn’t. He felt like he did that evening on Haven so many months ago. You’re going to need to face your demons sooner or later… Mal’s words echoed in his mind. “That would be good. Guys?”
River put her hand on his cheek. “No William, this is something you need to do alone. Go, we’ll meet back here later.” William looked at Jayne and Kaylee and they nodded their ascent.
“Thanks, love.” He leaned forward and kissed her gently. “I’ll see you later.”
The walk towards the cemetery was quiet. It wasn’t until William’s old house came into view that he spoke. “Home sweet home.”
“That it is.” Kara said smiling. “I moved in a few years after you left.”
“Wait a second, I was told by Geoffrey that everything was sold in an auction.”
Kara laughed. “Well, that wasn’t exactly true. People pay top dollar for the personal effects of a war hero, so it wasn’t long before we had made a fortune.” She got a somber look on her face. “When it came time to sell the house, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it. So father and I moved in. We didn’t think you’d ever come back, and if you did, we hoped you wouldn’t mind.”
“I’ll be damned.” William shivered as a stark breeze blew over him. “You didn’t by chance keep any of my father’s clothes did you? I’m freezing.”
“I think I have something that will work just fine.”
William stood looking at himself in the full-length mirror in his father’s old room. He pulled the suspenders over his shoulders and adjusted the belt at his waist.
“You look just like your father.” Kara said, leaning against the doorframe.
“I look just like Mal.” William joked; though it was obvious Kara didn’t get it. “He’s the Captain of the ship I’m on.”
Kara walked in the room and sat on the edge of the bed. William walked over and sat next to her. “Your father was a good man, William. Everyone here misses him, especially father and I.”
“Thank you.” William said, taking her hand. “How is Geoffrey by the way? I didn’t see him when we came in.”
Kara smiled. “Father’s in Amesbury, visiting his sister. He should be back tonight.” She stood up. “He’ll be so happy to see you.”
“And I him.” William stood to, motioning towards the door. “Shall we?”
“Indeed.” Kara said and led the way out of the house. They continued their walk towards the cemetery, in slightly better moods then that had been before stopping at the house. This time it was Kara that broke the silence.
“So tell me about Jayne.” She said, a mischievous smile playing at the ends of her mouth.
“What exactly is it you want to know?” William asked, knowing full well the answer.
“Stop playing dumb, William. That hasn’t worked on me since you were five.” She looked at him. “You’re going to make me ask anyway, aren’t you?”
William put his hands in his pockets and feigned innocence, smiling the whole time. He had forgotten how fun it was to mess with Kara.
“You’re incorrigible, you know that?” She asked, playfully hitting him on the shoulder. “Are he and Kaylee an item?”
William laughed out loud. “Jayne and Kaylee? Are you serious?” He continued laughing.
“What?” She asked, not getting the joke. “They were together, she had a baby, I just assumed.” She crossed her arms across her chest. “I don’t see what’s so funny.”
“If you knew Jayne and Kaylee, you would.” William said putting his arm on Kara’s shoulder. “Sorry about that. No, Jayne and Kaylee aren’t together. Kaylee’s with Simon, our doctor, and the baby is Zoë’s, our first-mate. Jayne is the muscle and he is completely unattached. Oh,” he added with a wink, “and he asked about you.”
“Did he now?” The mischievous grin returning to her lips. “Well, I might just have to give him an answer.”
“So, you’re not married I take it?” William asked, honestly curious. “I’d have thought you’d be married with a few kids by now.”
“I was.” she started, her expression getting dark, “Liam was a good man. He and our son, Cale, died during a pox outbreak a few years back.”
“Oh, Kara, I’m so sorry.” William felt horrible having brought up such an obviously painful topic. But he noted with pride that she had named her son after his father.
“No need, you couldn’t have known.” Her expression brightened. “Besides, it’s all in the past, right?”
“Yeah, I guess.” William smiled despite himself and put his arm around Kara’s shoulder. “It’s really good to see you again Kara.”
“You too, Will.” She said, putting her arm around William’s waist. “You too.”
William and Kara approached the tombstone of his parents. Similar to the ones for Book, Wash and Mr. Universe on Haven, this one had a holographic projector playing capture footage on it, though the scene on his parent’s stone was considerably longer. The first scene depicted was from his parent’s wedding. He had seen it a thousand times when he was younger, but he was still captivated by it. And the next scene was one of William with his parents.
Kara walked ahead and took a knee, brushing the dead leaves from off the stone. “Cale, Sophie.” She said touching the stone. “I brought someone with me today.” She reached back and took William’s hand.
He walked forward, taking a knee next to Kara. “Mother. Father.” He said, the tears coming to his eyes. He couldn’t think of anything else to say that he hadn’t said a thousand times. He just closed his eyes and rested his head against the stone.
Kara put her hand on William’s back and rubbed it affectionately. She then stood and walked a few paces away, giving William time alone. After a few minutes, William straightened up, kissed his hand and touched it to the stone. He then said the one thing he’d never been able to before today. Standing, he looked down at the stone and said, “Goodbye.”
He turned and looked at Kara, a smile coming to his face. He felt like a weight had been lifted. He put his arm around Kara and they left the cemetery.
The crew of Serenity sat around the large oak table in Kara’s dining room. A large array of food and drink were laid out for everyone, and they helped themselves. Kara sat at the foot of the table, Jayne to her right. The two of them were engaged in conversation, and by the looks on their faces; William guessed it was going well.
“I’m glad to see all is well with you Will.” Geoffrey said, patting William on the shoulder. “I couldn’t have hoped better for you. Mal and his crew are good people.”
“That they are.” William smiled as he took another drink from his glass.
Geoffrey nodded towards River. “And she is quite a catch.”
William turned to River and took her hand. “That she is.” River smiled, then leaned forward and kissed him.
“Truth be told William, I never thought I’d see you sitting at this table again.” Geoffrey said as he refilled William’s glass.
William looked at it for a moment before answering. “I never expected to be sitting here again. Far as I was concerned, Titan didn’t hold anything for me.”
“Titan’s your home, Will. No amount of pain’s ever going to change that.” William looked down. He was never able to look Geoffrey in the eyes when he was this serious. Geoffrey pointed towards the front of the house. “And that door’s always open to you, should you ever want to settle down.”
William reached forward taking Geoffrey’s hand and squeezing it. “Thanks, Geoffrey. You’ve always been good to me.”
“And don’t you forget it.” The two men shared a laugh.
As dinner was winding down, Mal turned to Kara. “So, you were with William when he was a tyke, huh?”
“That’s right, lived in this house since before he was born. I was nine when his mother pushed him out.” Kara played with her hair absently. “He was such a hellion. Caused so much trouble for me and my father.”
“Which you always managed to get me out of without my father finding out and tanning my ass.” William joked. “You were very good at what you did.”
“Didn’t do it to protect you Will.” Kara chided. “Did it because if your father ever found out half of what you did he’d have had my ass in a sling too.”
“Of that,” William said as he poured himself another glass of wine, “I have no doubt.”
Kaylee smiled mischievously. “So, do you have any photographic evidence of William getting into trouble?”
William gave Kara a withering stare. “Kara, don’t you dare.”
At William’s look, Kara snorted. “I wouldn’t have. But now I have to on principal.” She laughed again and stood. “Ladies, if you’d like to join me in the sitting room I’ll regale you with pictures of baby William’s backside.” She winked at William. “He always had a cute butt.”
“Still does.” River said absently, which elicited a laugh from Mal and Inara, a wry grin from Kaylee and a scowl from Simon.
“Okay,” William said waving his arm to encompass the table, “everyone not embarrassing me, in here. Everyone else, out.”
Everyone but Jayne and Geoffrey left the table and headed for the sitting room. William looked at Jayne. “I’m never going to hear the end of this, am I?”
Jayne looked at William and grunted. “Hell no. Somethin’ like this is going to stick with you for ‘while I’d wager.”
Geoffrey stood. “Et tu, Geoffrey?” William asked.
Geoffrey smiled. “Good to see you remember your lessons. It wasn’t all in vain after all.” He patted William’s shoulder as he walked behind him. “I’ve seen you bare assed as a baby enough to last two lifetimes. No, I’m going to bed. I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow.”
William stood and gave the older man a hug. “It was great seeing you again Geoffrey.”
“You too, son.” Geoffrey said, holding the hug for a moment. “You too.”
The men separated and shook hands. As soon as he was out of the room, Jayne came over and sat next to William. “I think she likes me.”
William laughed. “I think you’re right. She asked about you, you know.” William said, referring to his conversation from earlier. “Thought you’n Kaylee were an item and that Wash was your son.”
Jayne chuckled. “Like that’d happen.” William wasn’t sure, but for a split second it looked as if Jayne had gotten a far off look in his eye. But before he could inquire, Jayne continued. “So, she does like me.”
“I think so, but,” William’s tone got serious, “she’s a close friend of mine Jayne, and a decent human being. She ain’t one of them whores you’re used to.”
Jayne scowled. “I know that Will, I ain’t an animal.”
William smiled as he finished off his wine. “The jury’s still out on that one my friend.”
“Still out on what?” Kara asked as she reentered the dining room.
“On whether or not Jayne’s an animal.” William laughed as Jayne hit him in the arm, giving him a ‘you truing to ruin this for me?’ looks.
Kara walked over and tousled Jayne’s hair. “With what I have planned for him,” she said, winking at William, “he better be.”
Jayne smiled and stood up, putting his arm around Kara’s waist. “Is that a fact?”
William laughed. As Kara led Jayne towards the stairs, William held his hand up; Jayne gave him a high five as he passed. “Go get her, tiger.”
Kaylee and River came into the dining room laughing with a capture book in their hands. “You were so cute, Will.” Kaylee said as she sat next to him, River coming around to sit on his other side. Kaylee put the picture book down between them so it was right in front of William. They flipped to a rather embarrassing picture of William wearing a mask and a cape, a collective “Awwwww” issuing from both. Inara came in with Mal and Simon close behind her. The all huddled around William looking at the pictures and doing their damndest to make William feel as uncomfortable as possible. He looked up to the heavens. “So this is Hell?” The others laughed.
River leaned in close and kissed William on the cheek. “You know I’ll make this up to you, right?” She whispered playfully.
William turned and kissed her back. “You better.” He took her hand in his and took the abuse from those around him in stride.
William awoke to the smell of cooking food. “Bacon.” He said aloud as he sat up. River was sleeping quietly on the bed next to him, and trying his best not to disturb her he stood up. He dressed quickly and went downstairs. Kara was in the kitchen preparing a breakfast large enough to feed an army. “You realize there’s only nine of us, right? And that Wash doesn’t eat more then milk and soft protein.”
Kara turned to him and smiled. “Smartass.” She poured another batch of eggs into the skillet in front of her.
“No, seriously. Who are you planning on feeding? This is more than dad’s unit would have eaten.” William took a spot at the stove next to Kara. He did it so much as a kid it was almost routine. Without acknowledgement or protest, Kara made a space for him and they began working together as if they’d done it all their lives.
“I just don’t want anyone going without is all.” She added some vegetables and cheese to the eggs. “Plus, I like variety.”
“I see that.” William took the skillet with the eggs and moved it to his burner, freeing up Kara’s for the next batch. He continued cooking the eggs as he continued. “So, you have a good night?”
Without looking up from her work, Kara smiled saying “He was every bit the animal you promised. How about you?” Kara asked, taking the skillet from William and emptying the finished eggs onto an awaiting plate. Without prompting, William took the skillet she had been working on and continued his work. “Sounded like your evening was far from boring.”
William smiled. “A lady never asks.” He handed her the skillet. “And a gentleman never tells.”
“Ain’t ever been accused of bein’ no lady.” Kara joked, emptying the eggs onto another plate. “And it didn’t sound like you were gentle.”
The two of them laughed as the others came down. “Smells great.” Mal said, reaching for a piece of bacon. Kara slapped his hand. “Ow!”
“Wait until it’s on the table, mister, this isn’t a barn.” The crew stifled a laugh as they helped carry the plates out into the dining room.
As the food was laid out, William and Kara bowed their heads and said grace, Mal just dug right in. When Kara looked up she turned to Mal. “So, am I to assume that after breakfast you all are going to do your job and then go, correct?”
Mal swallowed the food he had in his mouth before answering. “That’s right. Got a tight schedule to deliver the goods, so we leave right after.”
She looked at Jayne and then at the Captain. “Any ideas when you might be back this way?”
“Unfortunately, no.” Mal answered honestly. “We go where the work is.” Sensing the tension, he quickly added. “But I’m sure we could work a visit in if we’re in the area.”
William, Kara and Jayne smiled at that. William looked at Mal and nodded his thanks. He initially didn’t want to come back here, but now that he was getting ready to leave, William couldn’t wait to get back. William looked around. “I was hoping to say goodbye to Geoffrey before we left.”
Kara shook her head. “Sorry, Will. He was gone before you woke up. Had work to do in Cardiff and had to leave before sunrise.” She took his hand. “He sends his best, I assure you.”
William nodded and returned to his plate. When breakfast was over, everyone went to their rooms to collect their things. As William and River were finishing up, Kara came into the room; she had a small box in her hand. “William, I have something for you.”
River grabbed her pack, and kissing William on the cheek said, “I’ll be downstairs, love. Don’t be long.” As she walked past Kara she nodded and smiled.
Kara came into the room and presented the box to William. “I wanted to give this to you last night, but there just wasn’t an opportunity.” William opened the box and found a gold signet ring inside. “It was your father’s, it’s your family crest.” The ring was large; his father always had big hands. William had to put it on his middle finger. “It was one of the items we sold after the war.”
William looked up from the ring at Kara. “How’d you get it back?”
“The man who bought it dropped it off last night just before you arrived. He said he heard that you had returned to Titan and that he didn’t feel right keeping it anymore, said he was keeping it for you.” Kara shrugged her shoulders.
William wrapped Kara in a hug. “Thank you so much, Kara. You have no idea how much this all has meant to me.”
When he broke the hug, he saw Kara was crying. “I think I might have an idea.” They hugged again before heading downstairs; the others were already waiting, though Jayne was nowhere to be seen. Kara took William’s hand. “Don’t be a stranger, okay? And don’t let it be eight years before I see you again. Oh, and before I forget.” She pulled a capture image from her pocket and handed it to William.
William took the image and smiled. It was an image if he and Kara when they were younger with William’s parents. “Thanks Kara, I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon.”
Kara walked them outside, a look of disappointment on her face. It was obvious to William she was hoping to say goodbye to Jayne. She turned to go back inside right as Jayne came running up from around the side of the house.
“Kara, wait.” He walked up to her and handed her a reddish purple flower. “Picked it myself.” He gave Kara a roguish smile.
“Right out of my garden if I had to guess.” She smiled as Jayne looked down, embarrassed. She lifted Jayne’s chin and kissed him.
The crew just looked on in a sort of stunned silence. It was Mal who spoke first. “Did Jayne just give a woman a flower?”
“And mean it?” Inara added.
“This must be what going mad feels like.” Zoë said as she ran a hand through her hair.
“She can kick his ass.” The others looked at William as he said that, he shrugged his shoulders. “Any woman that can do that is more than capable of stealing his heart.” He started walking towards town, when the others didn’t start to follow him he turned. “Job ain’t gonna do itself, people. Quit gawking at Jayne and let’s get a move on.”
The others looked back at Jayne for a moment, Mal adding a “Huh” of disbelief before they all turned and followed William into town, Mal called after him “I’m the Captain. Don’t ruttin’ tell me what to goddamn do.”
Kaylee started laughing. “What to goddamn do?” Mal just shrugged his shoulders.
William finished the final prep sequences for Serenity’s take off. Mal had been clear he wanted the ship ready as soon as he got back. The job was legitimate, so it wasn’t because they were expecting heat, but Mal wanted to make a quick exit anyway.
William reached over and picked up the capture Kara had given him. He remembered the day it was taken. It was shortly after the war started, and William’s father managed to get a day off to take them all to the circus. It was one of William’s happier memories, and he knew that’s exactly why Kara had chosen this particular capture. It was scary how well she knew him, even after all these years. He vowed to do a better job of keeping in touch with them this time around.
“Penny for your thoughts.” River said, taking a seat on William’s lap. She draped an arm over his shoulder.
William looked up at her and smiled. “Asking this time I see.” He put his arms around her waist. “Why not just dig around and find out for yourself?”
She took the capture from him and looked at it. “Your mother was beautiful.” She ran her finger along the picture.
“That she was,” William agreed, “but not half as beautiful as she was smart.” He pushed a lock of River’s hair behind her ear. “She’d have liked you.”
“William.” A voice crackled over the ships intercom, it was Mal.
William looked at River and she stood, letting William get to work. “To be continued, love.” He winked at her and, smiling, she left the cockpit. William depressed the com button. “Yes Captain?”
“We all ready to get off this rock?”
“Ready and able, sir.” Without waiting for a response, William finished all the startup sequences.
“All right, everyone’s on board and the cargo’s secure. Whenever you’re ready.”
William disengaged the magnetic couplers and brought the ship skyward. It wasn’t until they had already cleared atmo that anyone came to the bridge. It was Mal.
He took the co-pilots seat, but didn’t strap himself in. “Pilot a course for Greenleaf.”
“Aye sir,” William said as he punched up the star charts, “shortest route or least Alliance presence?”
Mal punched up his computer screen, so he was seeing the same thing William was. “Timetables?”
“Shortest route is about a week, and the safest …” William trailed off as he checked some figures, “about sixteen days.”
Mal checked the numbers to confirm and shook his head. “Too long. Just take the straight shot. Alliance is on the planet anyway, so it make too much sense taking the long route.”
William remembered a story Inara told him about a previous trip to Greenleaf and how they’d almost lost Mal and Zoë because they’d gone so far out of their way. William guessed that had something to do with it, but didn’t say anything. “You got it, Captain.” William returned to the controls. Mal got up and started walking out of the bridge. “Mal,” William started. Mal stopped but didn’t turn around. “You were right. And I just…” William stopped, not sure what he wanted to say exactly. Finally, he just said “Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it.” Mal walked out of the room, and though William couldn’t see it, he was smiling.
After dinner, William and River went into the cargo bay to spar. To put Simon and ease and to eliminate the need for a chaperone, William had sparring weapons made out of wood. They weren’t balanced as well as real weapons, but they were adequate.
Kaylee and Inara had come to watch them anyway. Kaylee had begun to take a real interest in it, and William guessed it was only a matter of time before he was giving her lessons. After an hour had passed, River had delivered four fatal blows to William’s three. She looked at him smugly. “Don’t worry, Will. Someday you’ll beat me.”
William just stuck out his tongue. Inara returned to her shuttle and Kaylee, River and William were leaving the loading bay when Jayne walked in. “Hey Will, got enough energy for a few sets?” He asked, indicating the weight bench.
William smiled. “I think I can manage.” He turned to River and Kaylee. “Ladies, if you’ll excuse me.”
River took his hand and squeezed it. “Don’t be long.” And she and Kaylee left the men alone. Jayne lay on the bench and started doing his reps with William spotting him. He could tell Jayne wanted to say something but was building up to it. William took a shot in the dark. “You’re thinking about Kara, aren’t you?”
Jayne pushed out a few more reps, after securing the bar he sat up. “A lot more’n I should be.” He admitted. “I been with plenty of women in my life and never thought of ‘em again. Don’t know what makes her so different.”
William sat on the bench next to him. “Because she is different.” William agreed. “I’ve been around the ‘verse a time or two and met a lot of people and not one of them was anything like her. Kara’s something special.”
“I’ve been doin’ this,” Jayne swept his arm, indicating the ship, and more if William guessed correctly, “stuff my whole life. I don’t know anything else. But,” Jayne got quiet. After a beat he looked up and laughed. “Aw hell, listen to me going on like a schoolgirl. I sound like Kaylee when she was pinin’ for the good Doctor.”
He stood and turned to look down at William. William just looked at him. “But?” He pressed.
Jayne’s smile faded. “But,” he echoed, “I’d have stayed if she asked me.”
William stood and put his hand on Jayne’s shoulder. “And who knows, man? Maybe someday she will.” He started walking out of the bay. “Until then.”
Jayne stood in the landing bay alone and looked around. “Yeah,” he started, picking up his towel. He draped it over his shoulders. “Until then.”
Friday, February 9, 2007 1:32 PM
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