Nightingale - Part I
Monday, April 16, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. River and Jayne, with a little help from Bethany. Oh, and Mal makes a guest appearance. Just the start of something here, so keep with it! Oh, and please feedback ... I love to hear what you think! (TamSibling, your wish ...)


Jayne sank down gratefully into the easy chair, favouring the healing wound in his chest. It was his first day being allowed out of his bunk without being under scrutiny, and he was feeling as weak as a kitten. He’d been shot before, more’n likely would be again, but it never got any better. Pretty soon, he surmised, he’d have so much scar tissue bullets’d just bounce right off him. He laughed to himself, then grimaced. Couldn’t be too soon, as far as he was concerned.

“Uncle Jayne?” Bethany was sitting on the stairs, just able to look down at him.

“Hey there, short stub.” He grinned at her. “You gonna come and keep me company?”

“Don’t want to hurt you.” Her brown eyes were serious.

“Can’t hurt me, Beth. I’m indestructible.” She gave him a version of River’s boob look, and he grinned wider. “Okay. Just go easy.”

She smiled brilliantly and scampered down the stairs so fast he was afraid she would fall, and he wasn’t going to be able to catch her, but she was surprisingly sure-footed for a two year old, and in a moment she was standing looking up into his face.

“Hello, Uncle Jayne,” she said formally.

“Hi, squirt.” He lifted his arm and she climbed carefully into his lap, somehow managing to avoid the area of his wound.

She looked at him, her eyes ranging across his face. “Are you dying?” she asked, her voice solemn.

“What? Who told you that?”


“Ain’t gonna die, Bethie.”

“Jethro did.”

Jayne was surprised. “Yep,” he said slowly. “That he did.”

“Did you make him dead?”

There was a tug of something in his gut, and it wasn’t Simon’s handiwork. “If’n you mean, did I shoot him, no.”

“Then why are you hurting?” Bethany wanted to know.

“I was the one got shot, girl!” he protested.

“Don’t mean there.” She laid her little hand, very gently, on the wound. “Mean there.” She touched above his heart.

He stared at her. “Who’s been talking to you, Beth?”

“No-one,” she admitted. “I’m a baby. No-one talks to babies.”

“Then you’ve been listening to conversations?”

She shrugged. “Not people talking.”

He moved a little, feeling more than somewhat uncomfortable. “How’d you know, then?”

“I can see.” She tapped her head. “In here.”

Jayne licked suddenly dry lips. “You saw me hurting?”

She nodded. “Don’t want you to hurt. I love Uncle Jayne.” She laid her head carefully on his shoulder.

“You see a lot of stuff? Stuff you ain’t looking at?”

She nodded, unsure now because of his tone. “Is that bad?”

“Ain’t bad, squirt. Just … some folks might not like it.”

“Am I bad, Uncle Jayne?” She lifted her head and he could see tears in her eyes.

“No, you ain’t bad,” he assured her. “But I don’t think you wanna tell anyone else about this. Not yet.”


“People don’t understand. And there’s some out there might … just best not to.”

She trembled. “Scared.”

He held her tighter. “Ain’t nothing to be scared of, kid. Jayne’s here.”

“Is it bad? Seeing?”

He nodded slowly. “Sometimes. Best you don’t try. So no peeking.”

“’Kay.” She lay against him, and he felt her relax a little. “Uncle Jayne looks after me.”

“Always, sweetpea.”

They sat quietly for a few moments, then Bethany said, “Daddy’s sorry.”

“What for?”

“Hurting you.”

Now Jayne really did grin. “Somehow, I don’t think that’s the case. He’s more sorry he didn’t make a better job of it.”

Bethany sat up and looked into his face, her eyes wide. “Daddy’s not like that.”

“No, maybe he ain’t,” Jayne conceded. “Though I don’t think your daddy was exactly sane at that point.”

“You and Auntie River?”

Jayne nodded. “Yeah. He kinda … got upset.”

“Daddy’s silly.”

The big man laughed, trying to ignore the ache it set up. “Got that right.”

“Uncle Jayne’ll never hurt Auntie River.”

“Kinda what I told him.”

“I know.”

He lifted an eyebrow at her. “That one of the things you saw?”

She nodded. “I won’t tell anyone,” she promised.

“See that you don’t.”

“Are you and Auntie River going to have a baby?”

He stared, then laughed. “Seems to me you don’t know everything, squirt.”

“I like babies.“ Bethany smiled, cuddling back down to him. After a few minutes he felt her relax as she slipped into sleep. He envied the ease with which she did it, too.

“Is she too heavy for you?” River asked from the doorway to the cargo bay.

“Nah, she’s fine. She’s been keeping me company.”

River stepped down into the common area. “She loves you.”

“Hey, what’s not to love?” Jayne joked, looking at the little girl.

River was suddenly standing next to him. “She does.”

“She’s just a –”

“No, she’s not.”

Jayne looked up in surprise. “She told you?”

“No.” She slid into the seat next to him. “I’ve known for a while.”

“So what do we do now?”


“For what? For her to grow out of it?”

“No. For the right time to tell Kaylee and Simon.”

Jayne shook his head. “Don’t think I want to be around here when that happens.”

“Kaylee’s already afraid.”

“Oh, hell, there’s no need for that.” Jayne smiled at her slightly. “We’ll keep the squirt safe.”

River put her head onto one side. “You’re a changed man, Jayne Cobb.”

“No. I ain’t. I’m still the ornery son of a bitch I always was.”

“Really? And you’d have sat with a child in your arms before?”

“Used to do it with Matty like this all the time when he was little.”

“That was before.”

“You been peeking again?”

River smiled. “Peeking’s bad. Anyway, it was Canton that started the change.”

“While you were improving the Preacher’s Bible?”

“Eleven inherent metaphoric parallels …” She paused. “But you began to realise your actions have consequences. Or began to remember.”

“River –”

“Charity taught you. And I’m grateful to her.”

“Look, I ain’t changed. Not the way you think I have.”

“I know you have. That boy dying ate at you.”

“Still sold you and your brother out on Ariel.”

“Old Jayne. Not new and improved. Your coming back for Frey proved that.”

“Just wanted to kill the hwoon dahns responsible.”

“So did I. We’re alike, Jayne.”

“No, we’re not.” He shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

“You’ll wake her.”

Jayne checked. “She’s fine.” He looked at River. “Look, we ain’t alike. But maybe it’s the differences …”

“Make you love me?”

“Ain’t never said that.”

“Said it to Simon.”

“I thought you said peeking was bad?”

“Not when it’s me doing it. And you did.”

“Yeah, well, I been stressed.”

“That’s why I’m not going to sleep with you.”

The abrupt change of direction unnerved him. “Wha … I never asked you to!”

“You will. But I want to be courted.”


“Made to feel special. Romanced. Soft light. Music. Gifts.”

“Bad guys’ heads?”


“Hell, I don’t know about that kinda thing.”

“Then you’re going to learn.”

Jayne suddenly laughed. “Can’t say your bro’s gonna be too happy ‘bout this.”

“I doubt he will be.”

“So you want –”

“Yes, Jayne.” Her dark eyes regarded him solemnly. “But you do have to ask permission first …”


Jayne stepped down carefully into the cargo bay, watching Mal moving some of the crates around. All the stuff belonged to Inara, things she’d collected in the two weeks since she’d made her announcement. Things they were on the way to Lazarus to drop off, along with the ex-Companion.

“Mal, can I …” He seemed hesitant.

Mal looked up in surprise and surveyed his crewmember. “What is it, Jayne? And are you supposed to be out of bed?”

“The doc said I could get some exercise. Long as I didn’t do anything rash.”

“Like upset him some more?”

“Somethin’ like that.” The big man fidgeted.

“Well?” Mal prompted. “You got something you want to say?”

“Yeah, I do.” Jayne sat down, favouring his wounded side. “See, me and River, well, I guess, I mean, you know …” His voice trailed off.

“I know how you feel,” Mal said gently. “I think the whole damn boat knows by now.”

“Yeah. Guess they do. Only it’s more’n that.”

Mal sat back. “How much more?”

“I …” He swallowed. “Mal, I want your permission to court River.”

“Court …”

“I love her, Mal. More’n I ever thought I could love anything weren't made outta metal. But she …” He stopped, unable to put how he felt into words.

“Jayne, I ain't her father,” Mal pointed out.

“No, maybe not. But you’re the closest thing she’s got. And I know that’s how she looks on you.”

Mal put that disturbing image to one side. “What about Simon? Shouldn’t you be talking to him?”

“I figure I know what he thinks.” Jayne eased his shirt away from the dressing still on his chest.

“You really love her.”

“Mal, I ain't never had anything so pure in my life before. I wanna take care of her, make life better for her.”

“Kitchen knife?” Mal reminded him.

“Hell, I know she did that. And it …” He grinned suddenly. “It kinda makes it more fun.”

“Fun.” Mal shook his head. “How does River feel?”

“She said I hadda ask you.”

Mal blew out a long breath through pursed lips. Then, “Jayne, I think you’re certifiable. But for what it’s worth – you got my permission.”

to be continued


Monday, April 16, 2007 11:12 PM


Aw, sweet, Jayne is going to court River! And Simon the boob is going to have to grow up and realise he cannot run River's life for her. He should be grateful that at least it will be happening on Serenity so he will be close if anything goes wrong. I just hope that with the upcoming Jayne and River goodness you don't forget to put in some Mal and Freya moments too. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 5:28 AM


Thank god its finally happening, great story so far.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 6:01 AM


x2 on that Thank God. Well written and true to character. And sweet :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 7:20 AM


Aww, I'm honored *blushes*. So very, very true to character for all of them. And Bethie's a reader huh? Well, if that don't beat all! I really loved this though - for so many reasons, there are too many to count. Mostly because of Jayne's interaction with Bethany and River's insistence that he court her. It's about time she was meant to feel special and like a woman, not just a killer. So wonderful!

*sigh* I can't wait for the next part!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 8:21 AM


How do you keep churning this brilliance out day after day? This is beautiful, powerful stuff!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 9:34 AM


Sounds like it's time for Jayne to get courtin' lessons from Inara, if he can make his case to her where she'll believe him. Great writing as always.

One question: with three readers on board, when will we see an appearance by Joss' big bad Blue Sun Corp.? They must be taking notice by now, or am I trying to read too far ahead in the story?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 12:12 PM


It's funny...I actually had a "Pwah?" moment when I read BSCPantherfan's comments about there being three Readers on-board Serenity. Mainly because Freya's powers have been basically gone or weak for the longest time, so I had generally forgotten she was on par or better than River for freaky mind powers;)

Still...this was an utterly fabulous and adorable chapter, Jane0904! Between Jayne's utterly brilliant conversation with Bethany and the final dialogue between Mal and Jayne over the latter's need for permission to court River, I was struggling not to squee...loudly. Can't wait to see how Simon takes the news;D



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“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?”

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"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 ...]

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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.]

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“His name’s Jayne?”

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

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

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[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

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

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

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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.

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“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!]