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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Fourth installment in the Operative Series. The title says it all
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1508 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
As always everything belongs to Joss. All of these are written in chronological order, but can be read as stand alones (only vague references to other installments). Ratings are shiny, comments are shinier!
Things had been looking up for Jayne. Well, as up as they can get, all things considering. It had been six weeks since the crew had been stranded on this moon, waiting for Serenity to be space worthy again. It'd been nearly two weeks since he started his tutelage. He never thought he'd actually like learning. But he had to admit, if there were things for him to learn, the stuff River was teaching him was the stuff to learn. What did surprise him was how hard it was. It was the challenge of it and watching himself improve... that had made him feel like he wasn't carrying so much. Truth was, between everything that happened on Miranda and on Mr. Universe's moon and having no physical outlet to vent any of it while his shoulder healed, Jayne had been feeling weighed down by everything. 'Nara once told him that no one wanted to hear what he was thinking. Lately he wasn't so comfortable hearing his own thoughts either.
When his bullet wound had been all but healed three weeks ago, Jayne started forcing himself to spend at least an hour a day regaining the strength he lost during his recovery. When he thought on it, he knew that the obstacle that made exercising so hard wasn't just because he was healing from an injury of the flesh. Just didn't seem right to be at the bench without his spotter there with him. Course, he tried not to think on it at all. But lying on the bench, looking up at the ceiling, the void of Book's face looking back down on him felt all kinds of wrong. It helped to remind himself that Book is still looking down on him... just from a bit higher up than before.
Reaching up he put his hands on the bar. Adjusting his grip he breathed in slowly, pushing his arms away from his body. Once the bar was up and oriented over his chest he exhaled and closed his eyes. Inhaling slowly he lowered the bar, exhaling he pushed away again. He'd always been careful to breathe properly while lifting weights. At first it was just to keep him from hurting himself and maintaining a good rhythm. It was Book that showed him it could help silence his mind. Over the past few weeks he found that keeping his eyes closed just helped him from feeling so much when his mind was quiet like this.
Grimacing he lifted the bar from his chest, finishing out the last round of repetitions. Opening his eyes, he damn near dropped the bar on his chest. Standing over him was River, her face looking down on him. It was good that River was quick. If she hadn't guided the bar back to its spot, he probably would have dropped the damn thing.
"Gorramit girl! 'Coulda killed me!"
"Wouldn't have happened. Less than a 2% chance it would fall with me spotting you. Less than a .07% that medical aide would not be adequate had it fallen."
His eyes widened in disbelief. "That ain't the point! Ain't never supposed to startle a man when he's got a load of weight over his neck!"
Walking around to the foot of the bench River replied, "Less than 1.2% chance your heart would stop functioning out of fear." Her face shifted from calm to hesitation. "Don't be mad," she said.
Picking up a towel from the floor he asked, "Why the hell you do it then?"
"Needed your attention. Something I want you to see."
Jayne noticed a holospool in her hands. "That the holo you got from the yi dui de fen bian?"
River nodded, her eyes glittering. Motioning with her hands to follow him she walked up to Inara's old shuttle. "Too loud here, distractions can be dangerous," she explained her eyes glancing at the floor below the catwalk.
Stepping through the shuttle door Jayne stopped, noting the interior of the shuttle had been cleaned. The clutter that had once been in the shuttle had moved to accommodate the two tumbling mats that now lay on the floor. River sat in front of the combox of the shuttle and put the holo into the player. After a few moments adjusting the feed she stood motioning for Jayne to sit.
"It's cued. Just push play." She moved to the back and sat down, pulling an old manual out to read.
Jayne didn't wait long to push play, his curiosity having been piqued days before. Pushing play, the first thing he saw was River's body sailing through the opening in the hold door. Watching her curl forward into a summersault, turn to shut the door and throw Simon's medkit through it's closing, he soon found himself unable to blink. He knew what he saw in the Maidenhead, but this was different. It was one thing to watch a person work their way methodically through a crowd, taking out one or two at a time. Hell, he'd done that a number of times himself. But this? He didn't even know it was possible. River was taking on and taking out five or six at a time. And these weren't no humans looking for the advantage in a fight. These were creatures who fought at high pitch all the time. Full on blasts of energy, unhindered by the sanity that made most humans fight to protect themselves. Fighting wasn't a spectator sport for Jayne. When a fight broke out, he jumped in... mostly for fun and usually didn't care which side he was fighting (usually just his own). This time he wanted nothing more than to watch that again.
"You can. Just cue it back." River said, not looking up from her reading. It was nearly a half hour later Jayne turned around to face River. She was already looking up at him as his chair stopped to face her. She didn't give him a chance to speak.
"Wanna learn how?" she asked.
The Scene -
And so it was two weeks later and Jayne's world was a sight better than it had been. He was starting to feel a bit guilty, knowing that the others were having a tough time of it. Having just finished the day's lesson, he was walking away from Serenity with a particular destination in mind. Seemed that he always needed time afterwards to absorb everything. Even though the end of each session was usually followed with a dry complaint from Jayne, River knew that he would need some time alone. She knew it was more than technique that Jayne needed to learn. Today was a bit better in that they practiced early in the morning. It opened up the chance to get together at the end of the day.
The oddness of River didn't seem that far away when she called to him "Tell me happened when you get back" as he left. He turned to question her, but could see her form fading into the dim interior of Serenity. Shrugging he headed towards a hill that overlooked the field where the Alliance shuttles had settled. He liked to keep count of them, and make sure he knew how they were laid out. Never hurt to know the map of the enemy, especially when they were among you... or you were trapped among them. Between focusing on that goal and going over each session with River, his mind didn't turn to events which made him ache. He didn't do so well with grieving; most times it just pissed him off. Anger was good and all, but he liked venting it somewhere, usually at a someone. Not much chance around here, so it was best for everyone if he just focused on other things.
He thought on what they did that day. Only six moves and not even new ones. Of them, he had been only familiar with two... so it was good in that respect. They performed them over and over until he wasn't just mimicking her, but moving through them with his own energy. Then she'd go and ruin the whole thing and rearrange them, demanding he do the same thing with the same grace his body had just learned. Just when he thought he had it down, she went and changed them again. And again. Course the manner that she would rearrange them was sheer creativity. Only six moves, but the repetitions she gave had no rhythm and didn't seem to connect with any logic - but somehow she made the whole thing seem like an effortless dance. That alone opened his eyes up to a whole new world. If it were that easy to rearrange defensive and offensive moves, how easy was it to rearrange other things? That question gave him an odd sensation, like there was something right at the tip of his tongue, some odd concept that wanted to breakthrough... something that might just help him see things from a bit higher up.
He was getting frustrated that the harder he pushed to get a grasp on the idea the further it seemed to drift away. It turned his thoughts to an attitude he was starting to see in River. She was getting frustrated with him. And he was more than a little irritated with himself that her frustration was bothering him. It wasn't just the movements she was trying to teach his body - it was the elegance, the dance of it.
Dancin'... she must still be a little touched in the head after she made him spend a whole day dancing with her. Probably made him do it just so she'd have something to keep him from saying anything. Not that he would. Weren't that they were doing anything to be guilty of, just that he didn't like having to explain himself.
Her comments would ring through his mind:
"You can fight Jayne, but you cheat your partners. When you kill, a person deserves seeing one last example of grace. They need the taste fresh on their tongues to help with where they're going." Well that just made him scratch his head. Maybe her words carried weight because she was barely breathing hard when she said them; she was performing an intricate series of moves that would wind most people.
"Flexibility isn't just for fighting." Sure, flexibility is good for fighting (that holo sure as hell proved that), and he could see how it would fit in with dancing... he just wasn't so sure that she was referring to fight'n or dancin'. Course thinking about flexibility made him think on one particular girl he sometimes visits who could bend her legs right back to... Jayne stumbled. Not because he was thinking on a girl on a distant moon, but because for a split second she looked like River. "Shen me di yu, ta shi zhi nu hai" he muttered.
He was almost thankful for more than one reason that he heard two sounds of gunfire reverberate through the walls of rock nearby and bouncing off the gravel floor. Jayne was already at a sprint heading towards where the sound came from, keeping close to the wall of rock on his right when two more shots rang out. The sound of gunfire was followed with a loud barking voice sending out rapid orders. Coming around a bend he almost stopped. 25 meters in front of him was a Reaver... hard to mistake, what with the blood-stained clothing that seemed to have been panels of human flesh sloppily sewn together. Course he wasn't so scared as he would have been before Miranda. He knew these yao mo died just like any human would. What gave him pause was the person struggling against the Reaver. For a moment he almost considered just leaving - let the bastard get ate. Then he realized that the Reaver would probably get indigestion - and no soul, no matter how unfortunate, deserves to digest that.
Jogging up, no real need to rush after all, he grabbed the Reaver by the shoulders and with a short heave yanked back. He was startled for a second time. This Reaver wasn't a man. "Zao wu shu zai min," he said. And the world suddenly seemed to fall silent around Jayne. As she ran towards him in attack, he ducked low he placing his shoulder into her gut, his head against the left side of her waist. His leg swung upward, the sole of his boot making painful contact her face. As her upper body snapped backwards he stepped under her arms and slammed his foot into the back of her knee. She fell to her knees, but almost immediately stood as though the injury barely registered. Turning she flung herself towards him. Dancing to the side of her and letting her use her momentum she sailed past him. As she passed by he grabbed the fleshy garment she wore at the neck of the nape and snapped her backwards, spinning her so she fell face down on the dirt. He let the inertia of the move pull him down on top of her. Grabbing her by the chin and the back of her head he twisted her head, feeling rather than hearing the spine snap. The whole thing lasted less than a minute.
Standing up he looked down on her dead body. Looking around he realized there were two bodies. One Reaver, one Alliance solider. His eyes narrowed as he looked over to the Operative. Looking back to the Reaver he said, "Weren't right, none of this," to no one in particular. Suddenly sound reentered his world. He could hear the wind sliding itself over the surface of the moon, kicking up dust into the air. He heard the sound of boots approaching. He looked up and noticing the squad of Alliance soldiers he steeled himself for defense. He just knew they would try to blame him, no matter what the scene was.
It was almost as if he wasn't there. The Operative gave some quiet orders. "Remove the bodies. Protocol 3." The Operative gave the soldiers a brief nod. Since no order given concerning Jayne Cobb, no attention was given to him. With quiet efficiency they went about their work. With no other reason to be there, Jayne headed back towards Serenity.
He'd gotten past the bend when he heard a voice say "She's either a very good teacher, or you're a very good student." Angry with himself that he hadn't heard the Operatives approach, angry it was the Alliances' meddling that took that woman and made her an animal, angry that he had to be the one to put her down Jayne spun on his heel with a menacing glint in his eyes.
"Both," Jayne spit out. "But I didn't do it for you. Ain't no one deserves a bellyache like that. We ain't on this rock much longer, but I see you again - so much as glancing at me or one of mine and I'll kill you myself."
The Operative nodded "I didn't come here to thank you or to garner any threats. You may not see it and River may not be capable of seeing it, but not knowing you I see improvement."
"Hell, I don't need your compliments. You ain't got a thing to offer me worth a hill of go se."
The Operative paused, considering this. "You may loathe me and so my 'compliments' may mean nothing. But you are wrong on one account. You heard something which you shouldn't. And it may be of future use... Protocol 3."
Jayne's eyes narrowed. "Moonbrain Alliance," he muttered.
"Yes." The Operative said, clasping his hands behind his back. "But being insane does not preclude the dangerous. Point of fact - insanity and danger are often side by side." He sighed as he saw Jayne's brows furrow. "Regardless, as I said, it may be of use to you. For now it is enough to say that she is putting you, and hopefully everyone on the right path. I suspect before long she will need you to be an instructor."
Suddenly Jayne felt himself grow calm, almost completely balanced on the multiple edges he'd been trying to walk along. "Humph, trying to flatter me jus' so I'll listen to ya." Jayne took three menacing steps towards the Operative. Lowering his voice to a growl he said, "You know, I've met all sorts of folk who are worse off than me. Most of 'em are alright, some of them are actually good people, and near all of 'em better than me. But you're one of the few people in this 'verse who's actually worse than me. I ain't gonna kill ya today, but what I wonder on is how it feels to be the person *I* take the high ground for."
The Operative's head fell a fraction of a millimeter forward but he didn't lower his eyes from Jayne's loathing glare.
"S'what I thought." Jayne said, turning on his heels and walking away. He had better things to do than stand there talking to that gang men.
Walking through the shuttle's door near the end of the day Jayne was surprised that River greeted him with a warm hug. Sensing her frustration with him had evaporated, he realized that he enjoyed the hug more than he thought he would. He stepped back, feeling uncomfortable with how much enjoyment he was actually getting from the chaste act. Her hands slid from his forearms to his hands. Giving him the briefest of squeezes and with deep pride in her voice she said, "You gave her the best thing you could... and you did it with such grace."
No one had smiled at Jayne with such pride. No one 'side his ma had ever thought the things he did were warrant any such thing. Feeling himself warm all over at this new sensation, he put the events of the day from his mind. Pulling the shuttle door closed they started their training session.
yi dui de fen bian - pile of shit
Shen me di yu, ta shi zhi nu hai. - What the hell, she is just a girl
yao mo - demons
Zao wu shu zai min - god in heaven
go se - shit
gang men - asshole
Sunday, April 22, 2007 11:38 AM
Sunday, April 22, 2007 1:31 PM
Sunday, April 22, 2007 5:08 PM
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