Onus Portamus [Latin; We carry the load] [5]
Monday, March 12, 2007

Bar fight on Deadwood. River and Zhang have an odd conversation. Yule on Newhall. Someone unexpected plays Santa. *Very* unwelcome visitors on Newhall. Not everyone makes it out in one piece. Not exactly character death,'ll see. Coda; a peek at the future.


PART FIVE * Slower than the sun goes down Softer than the Autumn rain Surer than the earth is round Gentle as the morning breeze Warm enough to sleep and dream There is no doubt in my mind I'm falling, (in love), I'm falling, (in love) * Leaves that are falling around me Make sense to me, a reality Leaves that are falling surround me Make all this seem, a reality * Clearer than the morning light Darker than the deepest night There is no doubt in my mind I'm falling, (in love), I'm falling, (in love) Falling – Olive * [There is an out-and-out 'nod' in this part to the current British comedy film 'Hot Fuzz'] [Director Edgar Wright is very close to being the British Joss Whedon; remember the name!] * [What happens near the end goes off-piste for what we've seen of Firefly, but the images came through so strongly, I decided to go with them. Don't like what happens? Maybe it's an illusion!] * Jayne was still sinking pints in the 'Green Dragon' when Vera found him. Ares was somewhere under the table, lapping his own supply of beer and keeping half an ear cocked for danger. Jayne's head flicked up and over automatically, even before he'd seen her, mind and body on autopilot to her very presence. He walked over a little unsteadily and stroked her shoulder. “Hey, darlin'.” Vera sussed the situation, “Saved a pint for me?” “No problem. Ol' buddy of yours 'n mine over yonder.” Jayne was pretty soused. Vera looked, “Good grief. Fred. Not one of my most pleasurable experiences. Hasn't aged well, either.” Her eyes flicked to Jayne's face, “You've been talking?” “Yeah. C'mon over.” Vera put herself on alert. This might well end up messy and violent, especially with Jayne several sheets to the wind. Fred relaxed completely, grinning like an idiot as Vera sat down, “I remember how gorgeous them breasts felt...” His hand barely made it half way. With lightning speed, Vera blocked, thrust and had Fred pinned to the floor, knife at his throat. “Mitts. Off. You don't have the right!” She was blazing, feisty and all kinds of arousing. “Hey!” Fred was very drunk. He wriggled, then realised Vera's foot was pressing hard against his groin and stopped. “Oh.” “I'm Jayne's woman, not yours! Jayne's *wife!” Vera checked that Fred had stopped and carefully picked herself up. She linked her arm through Jayne's, then looked at him, “I need you to take me somewhere secluded.” He grinned, “No problem!” Fred was struggling to his feet. Jayne punched out with his left without looking and clocked Fred perfectly on the jaw. After that, things descended rapidly into an all out bar fight. Even in his sozzled state, Jayne was impressed by Vera yet again. She'd never be quite as deadly as River, but she had her own martial arts style combined with a heap of dirty moves and loaded weapons which worked very nicely. He just punched and kicked. Even drunk, he was formidable and stopped a lot of guys dead with one blow. Things were progressing pretty well when they were hit by a barrage of flying metal objects. Jayne and Vera dived behind a table and turned it quickly, using it as a barricade. “What the...?” The fight was sobering Jayne up rapidly. Vera picked up one of the missiles and had a very quick peek around the edge of the table, “Two guys behind the bar armed with a fuckload of cutlery.” Jayne grinned evilly and pulled out a grenade from his current personal stash, “This'll stop 'em!” “I do wonder where you hide those things sometimes.” “Always fully armed, darlin'; always fully armed.” He pulled the pin and lobbed with deadly accuracy. The bar exploded in a fireball of glass and liquor and the two of them were propelled several feet backwards. In the din, Jayne grabbed Vera's hand. They made their escape, running down the street, with Ares following. * By the time Serenity had finished delivering the olive harvest, it was time for the pumpkin festival and Samhain. Mal wandered how much longer the growing season could be in this system. Hillary had indicated that Newhall and Deadwood were having a bumper harvest. No sooner were the pumpkins, marrows and squashes delivered, than the root vegetable crop became available. It was somewhere deep into early winter before they stopped the travelling delivery service, and that was only a brief respite due to vegetable and pickle bottling and canning activities. Large freighters came to take produce of all sorts to the Core planets and Serenity had been given a 'cut' of so many different vegetables and fruit in cans or bottles, that they would be fine for the winter and most of next spring. * Mal sat on the porch with the Cobbs and assorted crew members. Sarah seemed to have grown about six inches and the twins likewise, plus they were talking in sentences now. Clarry was blossoming and had been taken to town for monthly supplies, as her periods had started. It was late in the evening, but there was still heat in the days and nights. “Don't really get cold around here at wintertide,” Hillary said. Mal nodded, “I can feel that.” “Won't be long till Yule neither.” “Well; we seem to have run out of stuff to haul around the system.” “Folk'll be wantin' Yule logs soon. You could earn a bit of coin bringin' 'em down from the northern forest. 'S the only time we burn a lot of wood. This place runs on wind and solar most of the year, as do most folks around here. Plenty wind, plenty sun. Olive oil lamps at night.” Mal nodded, “I'd noticed. I haven't stayed in one system for such a long time since...well, I can barely remember when.” “With things as they are; Core planets a mess an' all, you could do worse than return every harvest to lend a hand. You'd also be welcome to stay for Yule and the turn of the year before going off to find other jobs.” “Don't really celebrate Yule.” “You don't have to; but I bet some of your crew would, given the chance.” * Mal sighed. Kaylee would; he'd bet money on it. Which meant that the assorted Tams would and probably Inara, even though Yule wasn't a Buddhist festival. Jayne would be up for the drinking and feasting aspects, which meant that Vera and Clarry would be involved. Even Zoe would appreciate it, especially now she had Sarah *and Cliff. Mal gave in, “Looks like we might say yes to your invite at that.” Hillary smiled, “I'll crack open a bottle of ten year old mead.” Mal managed a smile, “Mead? Bring it on!” * River and Zhang were in their temporary bedroom in the Cobb house. She was naked apart from her ballet shoes and balanced on one point with the other foot over Zhang's shoulder as they made love against the wall. Eventually they flopped sated onto the bed. “I love it when you dance for me.” River giggled, “Ballet school never included *those moves.” Zhang pulled her closer, “It won't be long now, darling.” “I knew that from the moment I heard you call.” “You've taken on all my immunities *and my Sensei training.” “That began from the moment we first made love. It was impossible to stop myself absorbing everything you are.” “I know. You're going to be the most perfect weapon the 'verse has ever seen *and a great Sensei.” “The best of everything. Hori said I'd be a priest; well, priestess. If I close my eyes I can see the spaces between all the atoms in this room. I can see the shadow of God.” Zhang stroked her, “You'll surpass anything I can see. I don't want to give you up. Making love with you and loving you....” River snuggled into him, “You won't give me up. You'll be with me forever. It just takes that final step.” Zhang chuckled, “I like the sex; heck, I *love the sex and being with you like this! I'm not ready to give that up yet.” “We'll still have that; just differently. You do know that you're the only man I'll ever love, Zhang.” He smiled and sighed happily, “Yes. But there are others in your future.” “I can't help that. I have other areas of learning before I reach my goal. Then I will burst forth like a phoenix and you'll be right there with me. Always; forever my lover and husband.” “I just need a little longer with you like this.” “I know; so do I.” She pillowed her head on his shoulder and they drifted off to sleep. * Mal was standing on the porch near Jayne as night fell a few days later. Jayne was enjoying one of his cigars in a leisurely fashion. “I heard some strange reports coming out of Deadwood a little while back.” Jayne shrugged, “Huh.” “The 'Green Dragon' bar got trashed. A couple answering your description were seen running away from the mayhem.” “Uh-huh.” Jayne wasn't giving anything away. Mal added casually, “Ah, well. Shame it wasn't you; there was a vice den under the bar and there's a reward out for uncovering it.” “Mighta been us.” That was as close as Jayne was going to get to admitting culpability. Mal continued, “After that, a similar couple were apparently spotted by a nosy parker with a telescope and too much free time. They were having what was described in shocked tones as 'rampantly passionate sex' in the glass elevator at the top of the Chrysler building. Of course, accessing that building and elevator at night would have taken the skills of a lockpicker and code breaker, plus big brass cojones.” “Ain't sayin' as it was us; ain't sayin' it weren't.” Jayne wriggled a tiny bit. Even though it had been the best part of a month ago, he swore he could still feel where Vera had scratched his back and behind in the throes of passion. Mal turned and saw Vera approaching, “Do you know anything about a couple spotted having rampant sex in a glass elevator?” There was the tiniest flicker in her eyes before Vera deadpanned, “Good grief, no. I prefer to participate rather than watch. I'm not a perv.” Mal had his answer, “I'm not against daring sexual escapades, but keeping the crew *off the tabloid headlines and below the radar would be appreciated.” Jayne put his piece in, “There was that time when you and Inara were in the dunes and...” Mal put up his hands, “I know. I'm not a saint either. Just askin' for discretion and better hidey holes, dong ma? Flashing your flesh on some worlds can be terminal gorram fast.” * Serenity hauled Yule logs and kindling for a whole heap of bonfires. Jayne and Mal set up the bonfire outside the Cobb place and the Yule log in the grate. A day before Yule, Jayne stole the mule and flew off on his own. Everyone was cross about that. Ma Cobb grumbled, “Needed that son of mine to help make egg nog.” Vera smiled, “I'll help; and even stir the pudding.” Sam Cobb smiled at her, “Thanks.” Inara was looking in the cupboards, “I could dip apricots in chocolate for the feast.” Sam nodded, “We'll need some hearty stuff too and as much meat as we can muster.” Mal went out with Zoe and a couple of guns and managed to bag a small deer-like animal, which satisfied Ma Cobb. The assorted children ran all over the place, singing and giggling and a mess of expectation and excitement. Eventually everything was set. Paper chains hung everywhere, inside and outside. Food was cooking on the range and the barbecue. The day of Yule dawned crisp and fresh; about as cold as it ever got in this part of Newhall. The children found their shoes filled with home made sweets and Inara's chocolate apricots. Hillary lit the fire under the Yule log. “Welcome Yule. Welcome the Old Ones and the New Ones. Once long ago, the Mother revealed her holy Child at this time of year on Earth-that-was. Now is the turning of the year. Downhill to Summertide! The twelve days of the feast are begun.” He picked up a bottle which was hidden behind the kindling, “Now, for the mead!” Everyone had a drink, even the children then went outside to stand on the porch to watch the last stars get swallowed up by the rising sun. Sam Cobb raised her arms to the sun, “Welcome, Mother.” Vera turned to her, “I'd never seen you be spiritual before.” Sam smiled, “Yule is the one time of year when we honour the Ones who have many names. Hillary will probably read some of the old stories out of his book later. We've got the birth of Buddha, Krsna and Yesu written in there, amongst others. We'll have to have Sinterklaas at least. Now, where *is that son of mine?” Vera shrugged, “Don't ask me; he wasn't in bed with me last night.” * At that moment, the mule skidded into view and ground to a halt in a screech of brakes. It was Jayne; or rather, it was a big red and white clad figure with a huge cigar in his mouth that bore more than a passing resemblance to Jayne in a Santa suit. Mal sighed, “He's gonna break that thing one day and then there'll be trouble.” Vera grinned, “Jayne!” She ran towards the settling dust and held her hands out to him, “Hello Santa; wan nao.” Jayne grinned around his cigar, “Ho, ho, ho. Wanna see what Santa's got in his sack for ya, little girl?” He wiggled his eyebrows. Vera chuckled, “Later! Hey, you got presents!” On the mule was a fair sized coniferous tree, a heap of ice chunks and booze. “Just a few bits n' bobs, darlin'.” * The younger children were gazing, wide eyed, no entirely sure what to make of this strange apparition. “Is he meant to be Sinterklaas?” “Um...think so. Hasn't got a white horse though.” “Does Sinterklaas smoke a cigar?” “Don't think so. You know that's uncle Jayne?” “Yeah. Thought Sinterklaas brought toys for the kids, though.” “Maybe there's some other stuff hidden on that mule.” Jayne fished around in his pockets and found half a dozen or so peppermint canes, “Hey, kids...” The children moved quickly enough then and got their candy. Vera put her hand on Jayne's knee, “I love you.” He grinned, fake white beard all askew, “I know. Could do with some help gettin' the ice indoors.” “You got it!” Vera beckoned and a number of folk came out to lend a hand. * The mule was soon empty of everything including Jayne. He was holding the pine tree in one hand. It was slightly taller than him and had its roots. “Yule gift,” he explained, “Saw quite a few worlds what put up a pine tree fer midwinter and thought t'was about time there was one hereabouts.” He gestured for a spade and the tree was soon replanted in its new location and watered. Vera smiled, “It's just brave, fine and dandy, Jayne.” Jayne shrugged, “Start a new tradition. This tree'll be here long after I'm gone if it likes it here.” Sam Cobb smiled, “We'll call it Jayne's tree.” Jayne smiled right back and then bent to Vera's ear, “An' later you can be Santa's special naughty helper, hmm?” Vera grinned, “Santa will certainly have my full and undivided attention.” Clarry drifted over, “Hey, Pa.” Jayne produced another peppermint cane, “Kept one fer you, sweetheart.” Clarry smiled, “Your beard's all wonky, Pa! Thanks!” She took the candy. “You ever met Santa afore?” Clarry giggled, “You're a pretty neat Santa, but I don't think he smoked a cigar.” Jayne shrugged, “*My Santa, *my rules.” “Come on Pa; Grandma's got egg nog awaiting.” “Ah.” Jayne's gaze warmed, “Now that's worth waitin' for. Yer Grandma's egg nog would stop a horse!” * Hours later. Soft velvet darkness. A bedroom in the Cobb household. A Santa coat spread out across a double bed and two naked, sated and thoroughly pleasured people lying snuggling in the afterglow. Vera smiled, “I like *this new Yule tradition as well!” Jayne used the last of his big cigar to blow a smoke ring, “Gonna be Santa every year if he gets 'help' like that!” “You will! Mal was surprised at you playing Santa, that's for sure.” Jayne shrugged, “Seemed the right thing to do, even if I had to sneak off to get the stuff. Most of it was free anyways. The tree was from the pine forests up north, ice was from the glacier, booze I found lyin' around needin' a new home. Only thing I actually bought were 'em peppermint canes an' mebbe I owe Mal a few coin for the fuel.” Vera turned and pillowed herself on his chest, so that she could look right at him, “It was a really swai idea.” She wasn't totally surprised that some of the mule's contents had been....appropriated. Jayne's free hand cupped her behind, “Mmm. Thinkin' of that, mebbe we could contemplate a slow re-match, hmm?” * Vera grinned and was intent on complying when the house's internal alarm went off. They both stopped their current train of thought and pulled on clothes quickly, running downstairs. The computer in Hillary's study was going crazy. Mal was there, hair a mess, as were several others in various states of dress and undress. Jayne knew the password and found the alert message which had set everything off. His face went pale, “Ta ma duh!” Vera and several others looked over his shoulders. Mal sighed, “Ai ya, wo mun wan leh! Everyone get dressed and tooled up. Yule just got very busy.” Zoe was at the entrance of the room and couldn't see. Sarah was in her arms, fretting, “What is it sir?” Jayne stood up, battle mode engaged in a pale and somewhat frightened face, although he was trying to look in control, “Ruttin' Reavers have landed on Newhall!” * Zoe looked at Mal, “Thought we'd dealt with them all on Ariel?” Mal was looking at the alert report, “Most of 'em, yes. This is one bunch of the go tsao de bastards who survived and had just enough cunning to go on the run. They're some ways west of here.” Jayne was muttering, mostly to himself, “Aint never been to Newhall afore. 'S'not right.” Mal looked at him, “Tool up Jayne, tool up. We've got another job to do.” * Serenity flew low over the western settlement on Newhall's west coast. Bucktown was ablaze in the darkness and generally a mess. Cliff and River sat at the helm, gaining intel. Cliff sucked in his breath, “Reavers have been and gone. They set the blaze and 'helped' themselves to a good proportion of the general populace before heading to the train yard. Got some jumbled stuff about them stealing a train to head east. It's general carnage down there.” River pointed, “Lights moving fast on the rails.” Mal nodded, “Head that way, Li'l Albatross. Got to stop the hwoon dahn quite literally in their tracks.” Serenity made best speed and was soon hovering over the abducted train. Both were going at some speed across the great plain. Jayne was tooled up to the eyeballs and about to be the first to be lowered onto the roof of the speeding train, in the dark. He gritted his teeth, remembering a different heist on another planet. “Time for some thrillin' heroics.” Vera touched his shoulder, “Zoe, Mal, River, Zhang and I will be right behind you. Don't go trying to get into that train on your own.” “No jolly ruttin' fear!” He fastened his hat under his chin and was on his way. * Once he'd secured himself to the metal roof of the train with grapples and magnets, the others followed, one by one. Serenity flew ahead, looking in the dark for points to switch to get the train onto one of the sidings along the track. The group on the train sat tight, trying to play invisible. After about fifteen minutes of being buffeted by wind and not being able to do anything much beyond hanging on, the train swerved to the left, rattled down a siding and crunched violently to a halt. Mal gestured and the intrepid group acted, using the element of surprise and disarray to their advantage. * Jayne blasted and hacked his way through the wall of Reavers. He had his jaw set firm. As much as he enjoyed fighting and killing, getting up close and personal with Reavers was something he'd hoped never to do again. Fighting in the confines of a train wasn't new to him, but some of the Reaver weapons were sharp, barbed and pointed in all sorts of disturbing ways. Nightmare weapons; dark, edged viciously, with back barbs and rusty looking metal. Ornamented with what could only be decaying body parts. Quite which ones it wasn't easy to make out in the dark. It was probably best *not to know. Encountering Reavers in the darkness was bad enough, with all the borrowed skin they were wearing and the deep slashes and gouges distorting their own flesh. The train tilted suddenly, throwing everyone sideways. The train crashed onto its left hand side and then it was everyone for themselves, trying to get out of the wreckage. * Eventually, the fight largely moved to the ground outside the train. The sun came up, illuminating a scene which would have had Heironymus Bosch either gibbering in fear or wrapped in ecstasy at something beyond even his most peverted imagainings. At the centre of the carnage, River whirled; sweeping, ducking, diving. She took out several Reavers at a time, smoothly, efficiently, almost effortlesly. Bits of Reaver flew everywhere like some kind of nightmare ballet. Zhang was close to her, making sure of the death blow to the Reavers she'd hacked. Vera and Jayne fought back to back, as did Mal and Zoe. Finally, it was all over. The train and the surrounding grass on the left hand side looked like they'd been used for a triple adult rated zombie hell-spawn flick, possibly penned by the legendary Clive Barker. It wasn't a good idea to let one's eyes linger long in any direction. River walked the few steps to Zhang. * He looked at her, “It's time, isn't it?” She nodded, “Yes, Zhang.” “I love you.” “I know. I love you too, I always will.” Zhang closed his eyes and started to glow. Everyone else turned and watched, disbelieving. Zhang started to look like a pillar of fire, then River put our her hand and he *flowed into her. There was a burst of hot white energy and then there was just River, standing there next to a pile of clothes. All the Reaver blood on her was gone, her hair lifting in a corona around her head. “What the...” Mal was trying to make sense of what he'd just seen. River was glowing herself; almost as if she'd been sunbathing, but the glow came from within. “Zhang turned himself into pure energy with my help and became part of me.” Vera tried to understand, “Is he...dead?” River smiled, “Not at all. He's alive inside me right now.” Jayne grinned, “Now that's plain dirty!” Zoe asked, “But what happened?” River put her head on one side, “The physics would be beyond even my brother. Zhang and I knew, right from the start, that this day would come. His meditating in the tower and his immunity to disease led him inexorably to me and to us falling in love and getting married. It was our destiny, just as his joining with me right now was part of the plan. As long as I live, so will he. And I'm going to live in my body for a long time before becoming non-corporeal. Even then, he will be essence of my essence and being of my being.” “What are you becoming, Li'l Albatross?” River smiled, “A great Sensei, a priestess, the key which will fit in many locks, the pilot of the future, a lover, a healer, the greatest, most perfecly honed weapon the 'verse has ever seen.” Jayne leered right at her, “Darlin' *I've got the most perfectly honed weapon in the 'verse!” River looked at him assessingly, “As far as your diao is concerned, you're in the top ten percent for form combined with function. By the way, I can see how to heal your infertility; temporarily. I can make enough sperm regenerate to give you one child.” Vera responded, “Yes, but...” River smiled, “I could make your womb grow back long enough to safely carry that child. It'd be a boy, by the way.” Vara caught her breath, “I'm..we're...going to have to think about that.” River looked at them all in turn, “I can see ways to heal all of you, if you want. Your busted leg.” “No. Thanks.” Mal was certain about that, “Can you turn that glow thing off? It's gonna attract attention and I can imagine if any of the old Alliance are still about, they will *really want you back.” River giggled. The glow faded and suddenly she was just a small, young woman in a faded blue dress. Small, insignificant; nothing to see here, move right on along. “Don't worry, Captain Daddy. I've got camouflage now. I'll be safe and so will you.” “I hope that's a promise.” River put her hand on her chest, “Hand on heart. No-one will even notice me unless I want them to, promise.” Jayne shouldered his weapons, “Alright then. Time to set a torch to this mess and get back to celebratin' Yule.” “Sounds like a plan.” Vera approached River as they walked on board Serenity, “Will you be alright...alone?” “Never alone. Got all of you, got Zhang. Other lovers in the future that I haven't met yet.” Jayne grinned, “Any of 'em gonna be women? Coz I've lived forty years an' I'm still hopin' to see some girl on girl action!” Vera looked at him, “You've had sessions with several women at once in the past Didn't any of them...?” “No, gorammit! Nearest I got to it was when Inara brought that gorgeous lady on board. Could'a been happy with just a kiss 'tween 'em!” Inara heard and approached Vera, “Well, if it's just two women kissing you want to see, maybe Vera...if you wouldn't mind...” Vera had a good idea about what would happen and played along, “Well, just this once...” Inara stroked Vera's face tenderly and began to lean in. Right on cue, when they were perhaps an inch away from contact, Jayne pulled them apart. Mal was smirking in the background, much surer of Inara. “Hey! No seducin' my wife!” Inara giggled, “I knew you were bluffing! In any case, Mal's kisses are the best in the 'verse!” Jayne grumbled, realising he'd been played, “Tease! Both of you!” Mal steered Inara away, “Got myself a naughty ex-Companion who needs a very thorough 'lecture' on not being a tease!” Jayne turned to Vera, “And as for you... Santa says you've been a *very naughty girl and wants to see you nekkid in his bunk, pronto!” *

CODA – TWENTY THREE YEARS LATER [Not saying I won't fill in the gaps, but this is what my resident muse showed me]

Avalon; Jayne and Vera's villa. Long since joined by several more villas in the bay. On the porch, in a recliner, half-lies a tall, muscled, scarred, white-haired man with blue eyes which crinkle surprisingly often into a smile. Draped across him is a woman with greying shoulder length brown hair and similar blue eyes. “Lee gets out of medical school today.” “Yup, and Sam outta engineer college. Kaylee and Simon'll be bringin' 'em to the barbeque sure enough.” Vera looked over to where a tall, red-haired young beauty was waiting on the next porch down, “Sarah hasn't seen them in five years. Could be fireworks.” “'Bout time she settled on *one of 'em.” “Not sure about that; she's always been 'older sister' to those two.” “They're all growed up. They're bound to notice *her.” Vera smiled, “She's got half the guys in the 'verse after her! Few of the women too!” * River flew in next.. River turned at the door of the craft and held out a hand to her companion in the space craft. “Which gorram lucky expert guy is it now?” It wasn't a man, but a luminously beautiful blonde woman. “Oh, my.” River gently and lovingly caressed the other woman's face. River seemed to glide towards them across the sand on the beach, glowing softly “Good. Gorram.” Jayne was having some difficulty breathing. They were closer by now. River smiled, “Hi. This is my wife, Petra.” Vera went towards them, “Lovely to meet you, Petra.” Jayne was staring, still somewhat inarticulate, “You married a *woman?!!” River replied, “I needed Petra's stone to wrap my skills around.” Jayne fully found his voice, grinning, “Can I watch?!” River responded dryly, “You do not have enough coin to afford the experience.” “Gorram. Every time I get close to girl on girl action and I never get to see any!” Vera turned to him, “There was that time Inara and I offered to kiss each other, right in front of you, and you pulled us apart!” “You're *my woman! Don't want those honey lips o' yours touchin' anythin' but me!” River smiled impishly, “Same goes for Petra.” Just to wind Jayne up, she drew Petra's head closer to hers and they kissed. It was a long, sensual, 'verse-stopping kiss. Jayne stared, mouth open. Vera touched his arm, “Dinner's nearly ready.” “Wuh...” Jayne's brain had gone into stunned mode. River and Petra smiled and walked over to one of the other villas. Vera smiled and slid her hand down to gently clasp one of Jayne's buttocks, “Something in the kitchen going to boil over if we don't get to it soon.” His head flicked around to hers, “We ain't cookin' any... Oh. Right.” A wicked smile curved his mouth, “Ya need summat hot inside ya, huh?” “I was thinking of your personal pressure cooker, wan nao. So, how hot and wet do you need it?” Jayne growled, “*Very hot; *very wet! That minx has got me all steamed up!” * Later, at sundown, everyone had arrived apart from the Tams. Zoe was with her daughter not far away, lost in reverie. Clarry, her fella and her three grown up children were on the veranda of one of the other villas. One of Clarry's children had very new twins. Vera put her arms around Jayne's waist, “Do you mind terribly being a great grandfather?” “Nah. Bound to happen; even if I never thought I'd see the day.” “Jayne junior's going to make us grandparents again soon.” Jayne put his hands over hers, “Our miracle, hmm?” “We've seen a fair few of those.” Jayne grinned, nuzzling her, “First time I coralled you in all those years ago an' took ya for that slow, hot ride we had...part of me knew I was in trouble right then. Gorgeous, sexy, life-changin' trouble!” Vera chuckled, “Thought it was *me coralling *you in at the time. You made it mutual from the first touch.” “Yeah, sure did. Mal said he'd put Serenity over on that bluff; make extra quarters for folks now she's gonna be grounded fer good. Not even Kaylee-girl can make her fly after this last trip.” A chunky, light brown and mostly Staffy dog lay at their feet, tail thumping. Vera scratched the dog's ears, “Hadn't forgotten you, Tyr.” Jayne chuckled, “Ol' Ares sowed his get over most of the 'verse afore he was done!” * The last craft arrived. It was Serenity herself. Out from it stepped Kaylee and Simon, both going grey but still totally wrapped up in each other. Then came Mal, with white hair and a marked limp in his bad leg. He saw the rest of them waiting and nodded in acknowlegement. On his other side walked a young man. It was Lee, the twin who favoured Kaylee more in looks. He was a little taller than his father, with glasses and doctor's bag in hand. Last of all, Sam appeared. Sam was dark and exotic looking, cheekbones high and mouth sensual. Wide shoulders, the suggestion of breasts about the otherwise masculine chest, long legs and wearing a denim kilt. A unique one-off in many ways. Sam's eyes alighted on Sarah and they both gasped. Vera leaned into Jayne, “That's done it.” Jayne leered, all prurient interest, “Yeah, but who does what to whom and how?” Vera smiled, “I think they'll have fun finding that out.” * Mal smiled slightly, “Everyone aboard for a last trip around the bay?” Serenity lifted off and made one last rather creaking circle in the sky over the bay before landing softly like snow on the bluff, where a concrete base awaited her. Jayne, Mal and the others got out and threw the bolts to lock Serenity in place. Mal patted the hull, “Thanks, old gal. We'll make you sound and cover you in stuff as'll preserve just the way you are now for a hundred odd years.” “What're we gonna do next, Mal?” Mal shrugged, “I don't know. I've had over thirty years hauling stuff, dodging and diving all over the 'verse. Time to sit down and think a spell.” Zoe nodded, “Time enough for that.” “By the way, Sam Tam is all kinds of heavy flirting with your daughter already and she's flirting right back.” Zoe gave a mock sigh, “At least her being with Sam won't make me a grandma. I don't think I could cope with that.” “S'not so bad!” Jayne grinned, “I'm a great-grandpa even!” Mal laughed softly; he was doing that more often these days, “Never thought I'd see it. Let's rest a spell, have that barbecue and see what fancy thoughts occur to us, huh?” Zoe nodded, “More adventures, no doubt.” Mal clapped her warmly on the shoulder, “Adventures and misadventures, old friend.” *** [No, I don't know where Cliff and Inara are. Didn't 'see' them. The final dialogue is lifted from 'Man of La Mancha' about Don Quixote. Mal's not above tilting at his own windmills.]


Monday, March 12, 2007 6:21 PM


Well now...that was one hell of an ending, Vera! Definitely wanna see the stuff from the interim, like where Cliff and Inara ended up...hopeful not dead, mind you;)



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