Sweet Sorrow - Part II
Sunday, April 8, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Jayne surprises everyone ... especially Simon. The angst meter is rising, by the way, and it's PG for adult connotations. And as it's my birthday, enjoy!


At dinner the major topic of conversation among those seated was of Zoe’s baby. Only River had decided to stay in her room.

“I still don’t see why you were scared of telling us,” Kaylee said.

“Not scared.” Zoe looked around the table. “There was no fear involved.”

“Then why didn’t you?” The young mechanic shook her head. “We’re family, Zoe. You know we’d be there for you.”

“But with your … problems …”

Kaylee smiled. “It’s okay. Really.” She glanced down at her daughter, industriously playing with her food, then up at her husband. “I got everything I want.” She went back to Zoe. “So, come on, ‘fess up. Why’d you not tell the Cap?”

Zoe didn’t get embarrassed. It wasn’t in her nature, and with her dark colouring it was difficult to see if she was blushing. But from the way she dropped her head a little … “I’ve always known who I am. Always. Only now, this baby … well, it changes that.”

“No it don’t.” Kaylee was firm. “Maybe adds something. But you’re still Zoe. Course, once it’s born your brain turns to mush, but that’s inevitable.”

“Thanks,” Zoe said dryly.

“So, boy or girl?”

Serenity’s first mate shrugged. “We don’t know.”

“I can tell you,” Simon said. “If you want.”

“Has it ever occurred to anyone how … limiting it is, just having the two sexes?” Hank asked, then realised everyone was looking at him. “Well it is.”

“That still gives you three combinations,” Inara pointed out.

“Yeah, but only one that can procreate.”

“You been reading those books again?” Mal asked good-naturedly.

“And technically it is possible for a same-sex couple to have a child,” Simon put in. “It’s just a case of taking a cell and removing the -”

“Honey?” Kaylee interrupted. “Not while we’re eating.”

He was surprised. She wasn’t usually squeamish when it came to - then he realised what she was concerned about. Bethany was sitting perfectly still, staring at the food on her plate.

”Of course,” he said. Except it was too late.

“Daddy, where do babies come from?” Bethany asked, her clear voice ringing through the galley as she slowly poked her mashed potato with her spoon.

Kaylee looked at her husband and raised her eyebrows. Now you’ve done it, was the obvious message.

“Come on, doc,” Mal said. “That ain’t the kinda question you want left unanswered. Particularly with the kind of people around here.” He didn’t glance at Jayne: he didn’t have to.

Simon cleared his throat. “Well, sweetheart, it’s …” He swallowed. How did you tell a two year old, even one as bright and precocious as his daughter, about the birds and the bees in a way that wasn’t either stupid or disgusting? MedAcad never covered this. He looked up at Kaylee, who shook her head firmly.

“Oh no. If I hear the words ask your mother coming out of your mouth, you won’t need to worry about it. Ever.”

He glanced at Freya.

“No, go ahead, Simon,” she said, her lips twitching with the effort not to smile. “I’d be interested in how you put it myself. For future reference.”

Simon looked stricken. And Bethany was still gazing at him.

“Well, Bethie, you see …”

“It’s when a man and a woman love each other, so the man plants a seed in her belly, and it grows into a baby,” Jayne said unexpectedly.

“So that’s what happened with Auntie Frey and Uncle Mal?”

“That’s it.” He nodded sagely.

“So that means Uncle Hank loves Auntie Zoe?” Bethany clarified.

“That’s it,” Jayne agreed, then realised everyone was staring at him. “What?” he asked. “It’s what my Ma told Matty and me. Always figured it was kinda right, too.”

Bethany was nodding. “Thank you, Uncle Jayne,” she said, and went back to her food.

“You’re welcome, short stub.” He stood up and stretched hugely. “Now, if’n you’re all done talking about sex, I’m goin’ to my bunk.”

He walked out, and as he went he heard a little voice pipe up, “Daddy, what’s sex?”

He grinned.


“That man is insufferable,” Simon said, managing to keep his temper in check just long enough to put Bethany to bed and see her fall asleep. Now, though, they were back in their quarters.

“Wasn’t his fault,” Kaylee said soothingly.

“Why do you always stand up for him?” He stood in the centre of the room, his hands on his hips. “What is it about him you find so … endearing?”

“It ain’t that.” Kaylee pulled her t-shirt off over her head. “I just think, underneath all that … that pretending, he could be a good man.”

“Must be deep down.”

“Honey, you’re just mad ‘cause he did something you couldn’t.”

“But I should be able to!” Simon was frustrated. “She’s my daughter. I should be able to explain about babies and sex … and all I end up doing is getting tongue-tied and telling her it’s nothing she needs to worry about for the next forty years.”

Kaylee hid a smile. “You think she’s gonna wait that long?”

“Absolutely. That’s one advantage about being on a ship like this. She won’t get the opportunity to meet boys.”

“What about Ethan?”

“He’s not a boy.”

“He will be. One day. ‘Bout sixteen years from now Frey and the Cap’ll be worrying he’s out all night and what he’s doing.”

Simon looked at his wife aghast. “You think Bethany’s going to do that too?”

“I think she’ll be the one leading the way.”

“And it doesn’t worry you? The thought of her with … with some boy doesn’t keep you awake at night?”

“Course it does. But I ain’t gonna let it make me sick ‘til it gets closer.”

“Is that what I’m doing?”

“You’re a good father.” Kaylee stepped out of her coveralls. “A good, responsible father. And you’re right to worry about her. Only it’s gonna be a while yet before she starts bringing home beaus.” She stripped off her bra and pants and got into bed. “Now, you gonna stand there all night, or you planning on joining me?” She lifted the sheet up invitingly.

“But why did it have to be Jayne?” Simon was like a dog with a bone, and he wasn’t finished yet.

Kaylee sighed and let the sheet drop. “Someone had to say something, honey.”

“But Jayne …”

“He’s okay. And he’s helping River.”

“She doesn’t need it. Not anymore.” He sat down on the edge of the bed and pulled off his boots. “She’s better. Anyone can see that.”

“Oh, Simon.”

“Oh, Simon, what?” He glared at his wife.

“She’s hanging on. Sometimes she’s good, I’ll grant you that. But once in a while I’ve caught a look on her face … she’s still grieving.”

He looked guilt-stricken. “Is that why she wasn’t at dinner?”


He stood up. “Maybe I should go to see if -”

Kaylee took hold of his hand. “Not tonight. Let her be. Talk to her in the morning. But right now, I think it ain’t us she wants to be around.”

“Jayne,” Simon said bitterly.

“Nope. Not necessarily. I think she just wants to be on her own.”


Jayne had waited until he heard the other hatches close above the bunks before leaving his and heading for the shower. It wasn’t that he minded people knowing he liked to get clean once in a while, but it was something private as far as he was concerned. Now he was standing under the jets, feeling them prickling his skin, and he closed his eyes.

The past few days had been fun, and it was good to rile the young doc, even though he knew it’d prob’ly come and bite him pretty soon, and it was even better to have money in his pocket, but more than anything he wished … he wanted River to be okay. Not because he wanted anything from her. How he felt about her he’d managed to push down, telling himself it was just friendship, nothing more. He almost believed it. But he’d seen her face when they left Lazarus, the darkness coming down behind her eyes again, and it hurt him. More’n he would ever admit.

Sighing he soaped his body, rubbing up a lather on the hairs on his chest, then down between his thighs, rolling the heavy sac in his hand. He sighed again. Usually, round about now, he’d be thinking about one of the whores he’d been with, or fantasising about one he’d be having soon, and he’d be dealing with a raging hard-on. Only there was nothing. Not even a twitch. Maybe he was tired. That must be it. He’d heard tell before of men who couldn’t get it up because of stress and the like. Prob’ly that.

He let the water rinse him clean, then turned off the taps. Then, as he opened the stall door, he heard it.


It echoed through his mind, crashing against the walls until he could almost see it.


Again, filling his brain to bursting.

He grabbed his towel and wrapped it around his waist, ignoring the clothes lying waiting in his haste to get to her. He was down the stairs and through the cargo bay before he even realised what he was doing, then broke into a run.

At her door he paused, then slid it open.

”River?” he asked, peering inside. It was dark, but he could make out something scattered over the floor. “You okay?”

There was moaning from the corner, and he reached around to flick on the light.

River was crunched up, her legs against her chest, her eyes tightly shut. “Hurts,” she whispered.

He lowered the intensity, then looked down. Flowers were spread across the deck, wilting almost as he watched. “What is it?” he asked, stepping inside, the scent of the blossoms being crushed under his feet filling the small room.

“I forgot him,” she whispered, her thumb jammed into her mouth.

“Forgot him?” He slid the door closed in case anyone wandered by. Didn’t want them to get the wrong idea.

“Jethro.” She was barely speaking, more the thoughts slipping into his mind. “I forgot him. I was having fun on Lazarus, even on Magdalene, helping everyone, being … being normal. And I forgot him.” Tears were rolling down her cheeks.

“You mean you forgot to grieve.”

“I loved him!” She was appalled at herself. “How could I forget him?”

Jayne sat on the bed, not going to her, not yet. “Moonbrain, it ain’t like you forgot him. You’re just … it gets easier, is all.”

“How can it?”

“Just does. You get to where you can remember ‘em with fondness, with love, and it don’t tear you up inside.”

“Like you and Charity?”

Jayne nodded, feeling the old stab in his guts that he used to get whenever he thought of the woman who’d meant so much to him. “Like me and Charity.”

“But it took you longer.”

“I’d known her a while.”

“Is it quantifiable? Is there a limit to the amount of time you have to feel like this when set against the number of seconds of the relationship?”

“If you’re asking if you shouldn’t grieve ‘cause you didn’t know him that long, then no. That ain’t how it works. Some folks can know a person a lifetime, and their grieving is done in a day. Others know a person a day, and grieve a lifetime.” It sounded terrible to his ears, but she was nodding.

“It was my fault.” She bit her thumb. “If I hadn’t told you to bring him on board, he wouldn’t be dead.”

“You know that for sure?”

“He wouldn’t have been on board the Marrakech!”

“No. But there ain’t no way of knowing if he wasn’t meant to die someplace else. Maybe even that bar. A wrong kick, he coulda just …” He stopped. “Look, much as I didn’t like the guy, he was … well, he was okay. Wanted to help. And for a few weeks he had more life than all his years at the Abbey.” He let out a bark of laughter. “Hell, if anyone’d asked him, he’d prob’ly not’ve had it any other way. Maybe he’d’ve considered it a good bargain. Few weeks with you or a lifetime without.”

Suddenly she was standing in front of him, hitting him with her fists. “Stop it!” she was saying, so angry that her voice had all but disappeared. “Stop trying to make me feel better!”

He stood up, letting her beat on his chest, taking the punishment. “River, you can hit me all you want. Only you and I know if you really meant it, I’d be standing here in a pool of my own blood.” He grabbed her arms, pulling her against him. “It ain’t your fault.”

She was rigid for a moment, then all the strength went out of her, and she almost collapsed. “It is.”

“No, it ain’t.” It’s mine, he thought, but didn’t say. With barely an effort he swung her up into his arms, laying her gently onto the bed. “You need to get some sleep.”

“Don’t go.” She turned her dark eyes on him, imploring him. Please don’t go.

“River, I ain’t exactly dressed -”


He nodded. “Okay. Just for a while.” He lay down next to her, and she rolled against him. “I’ll wait ‘til you’re asleep.”

“Thank you.” She put her hand on his naked chest, feeling the rise and fall of his breathing, the steady beat of his heart within, and closed her eyes. “I still wish …”

“Yeah.” Jayne knew what she was wishing for. “You just get some sleep.”

“I’ll try.”

And he was praying that his body remembered this was just a girl, just a moonbrain that hung around him, making a nuisance of herself, a kid who was young enough to be his daughter, who was just his friend, and nothing more. Nothing more at all.


Simon couldn’t sleep. He‘d woken around two am, according to the chronometer, and now it was gone three, with no sign of dreams overtaking him again. Kaylee was out, her face turned away from him, her hair tangled and mussed. He sighed. Then again, louder this time. She still took no notice.

He lay on his back and stared into the darkness overhead. Damn that man, he thought. Taking his place at his sister’s side, seemingly able to coax her along when all he did was make things worse. All he wanted to do was help her. Not just as a doctor, but as her brother. He’d gone through so much, gladly given up the whole of his life to free her, to spend what could be forever out here on the edges of society, just so he could …

Kaylee moved, rolling onto her stomach.

No. Not just that. He’d found a woman out here who made him weak at the knees. Not the woman of his dreams, but far better. Someone who could make him feel good no matter what. The mother of his child. His Kaylee.

But River was his sister. His flesh and blood. And he needed to help her, not hand her over to some hulk of a man who could hardly string three words together, who preferred the company of his guns to real people, who paid to have women perform on him …

He knew he was being mean, but this was his insomnia, and what he thought now was his own business.

And this man, this ape, was the one she preferred to be with.

He sat up, the sheet falling from him.

This was crazy. He was grateful to Jayne. River was improving. But why did it have to be him? Why not Hank? Or … or the captain. Someone who wasn’t likely to try and take advantage of his little sister.

The thoughts were colliding inside his brain, and nothing made sense anymore.

He stood up, grabbing his pyjama pants and pulling them on. He wanted to see her. Make sure she was okay. Glancing back at Kaylee, assuring himself she still slept, he slid the door open and stepped out into the corridor.

For once he was glad she was just a few steps away, and not the other side of the ship. All he needed to do was to check that she was okay, then he could go back and lie down, get back to more pleasant dreams. He slid her door aside.

No, not dreams. Not this time. Nightmares.

to be continued


Monday, April 9, 2007 2:46 AM


I love seeing Jayne get to be sage and comforting. Thank you!

Monday, April 9, 2007 7:09 AM


Jayne telling Bethany about babies and then baiting her into asking about sex was inspired. I also loved that River calls out for him and he's there - in a flash, no questions asked. He really isn't a bad guy.

And of course, Simon - *sigh* In an effort to make things better he's simply going to make them much, much worse, possibly hurting his little sister more in the process if he refuses to let Jayne help her. He needs to let go - she is a grown woman now and he has responsibilities to his wife and his daughter. It's hard for Simon I know, but he's a big boy.

And it's your birthday? 4/8 or 4/9? 4/8 is mine, so happy birthday!

Monday, April 9, 2007 8:39 AM


Fantastic as always. As the whole saying goes "Out of the mouth's of babes...".

And Happy Birthday too!

Monday, April 9, 2007 11:20 AM


Simon is an idiot. While he may not be happy that Jayne is able to offer comfort to River he will automatically jump to the wrong conclusion simply because it is Jayne. For an educated man he can really be dumb at times. Even if he can't trust Jayne he needs to learn to trust River. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, April 13, 2007 8:40 PM


Wuh thinks Simon's gonna cause a scene, Jayne will get all defencive and the rest of the crew will be split between Jayne doing the right thing by helping River and Jayne's past track record as a crude, self-absorbed hundan who is only focused on the physical pleasures of life:(

Still...I loved the scene you had between River and Jayne. It's always a great moment when Jayne can get all wise and philosophical, and his behaviour is totally spot-on for a post-BDM Jayne struggling with the fact he's got all kinds of deep feelings for River but knows it ain't the time to be acting on them. I just hope River can come to see all the effort Jayne's putting in and see it as a sign she's got someone who loves her for who she is (unlike Simon, who loves River for who she was and starting to rebuild the unconditional love with post-Academy River).



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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!]

Monied Individual - Part XVII
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!]