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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - DRAMA
Part 2 of the Survivors Series, a follow-up to 'Alive'
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 790 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
RATING: Rated M. Contains violence.
SUMMARY: “You gotta be sane this trip, girl,” he said roughly. “No kickin’ down walls, or killin’ folk that don’t need killin’.” He sighed, frustrated. She didn’t move, but she nodded.
DISCLAIMER: Seriously, did we think they were mine? They belong to Joss, of course. If fanfic writers made any money we’d all be eating steak.
A/N: This fic follows immediately after my previous Jayne/Inara piece “Alive”. I’d strongly suggest reading that one first to get a handle on the situation, otherwise this may not make a bunch of sense.
Neither of them were sentimental creatures. He’d asked her if she wanted to go back to Ayers, back to her brother’s grave, and she’d looked at him like he asked if she wanted a second helping of dinner.
“No, I have Simon with me here. Not there.”
At first he thought she’d been talking in a figurative sense, like her brother lived on in her heart, or some such crud, but he saw her patting the steel of the gun she’d ripped from the hands of the man who’d shot Simon in the stomach and raised an eyebrow.
“You named your piece after your dead brother?” he asked, vaguely impressed. She nodded. He shrugged. If she wanted to name her gun after the Doc, who was he to complain? Besides, she might shoot him with it if he did.
“Are you going to leave me again?” she asked him. He looked at her speculatively.
“D’you think I could?” he asked. She shook her head.
“I’d find you. Can’t leave me on a rock somewhere now. I have your scent. Track you down. Maybe kill you.” She looked at him seriously, and then her face split into a crazy grin.
“Yeah, sure. You’d kill me with your brain.” He was glad she grinned. He was still half-convinced that he would wake up one day with Simon shoved in his gullet and a crazy killer on the other end.
She looped her skinny arm through his and looked up at him in teasing adoration.
“No, I’d kill you with my brother. C’mon new brother, gotta go now.”
He looked at her in horror, and allowed her to pull him onward.
Badger had given them a stake, not a lot but enough to book passage on a ship heading the right way.
“Out o’ the goodness of my heart, and in the memory of Captain Reynolds, a good, fine, lovely man,” the small crook had protested, handing over a small sack of credits. River snorted from behind him.
“And don’t forget about Simon,” she added, prodding him with the end of her gun. Badger’s hurried nod was almost a spasm.
“Of course, not to be forgetting the, uh, learned and refined Simon Tam, brother to the stunningly gorgeous River Tam who has me completely at her mercy.” His voice cracked on the last few words as River prodded him once more. Jayne, watching from the doorway, crossed his arms across his chest, a small grin on his face.
“And the others?” River prompted gently. Badger spasmed again.
“Uh, yeah, them too. I never knew them, but I’m sure they were great.”
River delicately and genteelly accepted the coin purse from his trembling hands and released him. She stepped gracefully over the bodies of his henchmen and crossed to where Jayne was waiting for her. She sniffed at the air.
“You’ve seen Inara,” she stated. He nodded. She blinked solemnly.
“ Things were injured,” she said gently, and pointed to his hand. He glanced at it reflexively.
“ ‘Taint nothin’ much. Enjoyed yer visit?”
River glanced over her shoulder at Badger. “Yes, thank you so much for having me over, and I hope to visit you again.”
Badger smiled weakly, his eyes betraying his fury. Jayne thought he was kind of cute, all impotent like that. River sniffed again.
“You’re sober.” She looped her arm through his.
He swatted her away irritably. “Quit sniffin’ at me, girl. It’s downright creepifyin’.”
River shrugged and tucked the coin purse into his waistband before exiting Badger’s den. Jayne shot the criminal a smirk before following her out.
Jayne wasn’t sure why he allowed the crazy girl to stick around with him. After that to-do with the Reavers, she’d seemed almost normal. Granted, she still had that enormous brain with some important pieces missing, but she’d stopped rubbing soup into people’s hair and hanging upside down for hours at a time. Almost normal. But after Ayers, after Serenity had fallen apart and her brother had bled to death in her hands, she had changed again. No more soup, or upside down naps, but something different and altogether more terrifying. He understood her sleeping with the gun clutched in her spidery fingers. He did that as well. Never knew when you might need it. Some minutes she might be the soberest, sanest girl he’d ever met, and then she’d reply to some hilarious comment made by the nearest wall, and he’d know she was gone again. She always seemed reasonable, even in her craziness, but it was like she had forgotten how to be a person. Some of her actions shocked even Jayne, like that kitten she’d found on the street. He hated to remember that, not because of what had happened to the kitten, but because he was worried that one day he’d see that serene expression on her face as she was tossing him carelessly under a passing transport because she no longer wanted him around.
Now he knew why the Doc had her pumped so full of happy drugs all the time: because they helped him feel relaxed, not her.
She smiled a lot more now, but he couldn’t see any genuine feeling inside her when she did. No grieving, no anger. He should feel luckier that she hadn’t killed him yet.
The Victoria was nowhere near as homey as Serenity had been. She was mainly a container shipper whose captain had stripped out part of the hold and put in a few dingy passenger cabins with stained paneling for walls and thin mattresses on the bunks. River paused in the doorway, causing Jayne to almost run into her. He grunted in irritation. She twisted around to glance at him, and took a step into the tiny room. Jayne followed and dumped their bags on one of the bunks. He threw himself down full length on the other one and grinned at her.
“That one’s yours,” he said, pointing to the bag covered bunk. She regarded him for a moment, and pointed one skinny finger at the wall above his head.
“That’s a bloodstain. Brain stain. Last thoughts of a man.”
Jayne twisted around to observe the large dark stain on the wall. Looked like old blood. He nodded.
“Yup. Reckon so.”
River perched herself atop the bags and looked around.
“I preferred Serenity. The stains were more honest.”
“Well Serenity’s gone,” he replied, surprised at how angry it sounded.
She stood suddenly and kicked at the wall, making it shake like it was going to fall over, and swore viciously. Jayne heard the captain’s rough shout of protest from outside the passenger quarters.
“Hey! Quit kickin’ my walls down in there! You damage it, you bought it, Cobb!”
Jayne grabbed River and pulled her away from the wall toward the bunks, but she had subsided and was pliable in his hands as he sat her down and faced her.
“You gotta be sane this trip, girl,” he said roughly. “No kickin’ down walls, or killin’ folk that don’t need killin’.” He sighed, frustrated. She didn’t move, but she nodded.
“Walls’re flimsy anyway, I guess,” he conceded, and stretched out on his own bunk again. “Cap’n says we c’n eat with the crew if we want. Dinner’s in two hours.” He cracked each knuckle once, considering. “Probly better if you stay here though, dong ma? Those weird ass government fellas probly still want you bad enough to kill everyone who’s seen ya, includin’these folk. I’ll bring ya somethin’ instead.” River nodded and rifled through her bag, finally withdrawing a green pencil and a clean white pad of paper. Jayne nodded once in relief. She was usually pretty quiet when she was drawing something.
Jayne made his way through the narrow corridor toward the Victoria’s galley two hours later. The ship was grimy and smelled like armpits and he had to fight to keep images of Serenity’s neat, homey interior out of his head. He guessed the Victoria’s crew was all male. There was something about a ship with women on it, he supposed, that just made it nicer somehow. Not that he minded the company of men after spending weeks with just River to talk to. The galley was a narrow slice of space set next to the engine room in the rear of the ship. Not much care had been taken to keep it clean, although Jayne saw that the table was wiped down, at least, and the cups weren’t mouldy. Four men sat around the table, a fifth slopped protein packs into metal bowls behind what looked like an old workbench to the right of the table.
“You want dinner?” the fifth man asked, reaching for another foil-covered packet of brown protein. Jayne nodded, and asked with a gesture which chair he should sit in. The captain replied with a genial shrug, so Jayne chose the one that would give him the best view of both doors and a wall at his back.
“That’s the seat of a man who likes to feel safe, my friend,” the captain pointed out. Rosario Di Fuega was a rough looking man in his middle years, unshaven but not terribly untidy. He wore his beat up blue hat at the dinner table.
Jayne shrugged. “Habit. I like livin’, and that generally means bein’ careful.”
When the metal plate was set in front of him, Jayne picked up his fork and tried to be discreet about wiping it on the hem of his shirt.
“Not clean enough for you? Not good enough?” sneered a small asian man, name of Hu, to Jayne’s right. Jayne shot him a glance.
“S’fine. I’m just used to doin’ things differently. Last crew I shipped with was fussy on that sorta thing.”
Another crewmember, a tall thin man with acne scars whose handle Jayne never caught, snorted. “Shipping with women, huh?”
All the men around the table, Jayne included, chuckled.
“Bitches always make things complicated,” Hu added. “Hope yours stays outta the way.”
Jayne nodded. “She will.”
He shoveled in another forkful of protein.
“I shipped with a woman once,” the tall man commented. “Signed on as maintenance, couldn’t fix a gorram thing.”
“Women in the Black’re generally good for two things, and anythin’ mechanical sure ain’t one of ‘em,” Di Fuega added.
The others grunted agreement. Jayne remembered Kaylee trying to teach him how to change the plugs in a nav coupling one time.
“Gal I used’ta ship with, pretty thing she was, she was the best damn mechanic ever sailed the Black,” Jayne said. “Could fix anything that moved, and if she couldn’t fix it she could probably just make it run on sheer willpower til you got where you was goin’.” He took another forkful of suddenly tasteless food. “An’ she still insisted on paintin’ these weird flowers all over the ship, anywhere the captain’d let her.”
“Weak-ass captain, to be lettin’ some slit-arse paint her pretty flowers on his ship,” Di Fuega said gruffly. The others nodded agreement. Jayne stayed silent.
“What ship was you on last, anyway, Cobb?” the captain asked.
“Name of Serenity,” Jayne said, concentrating on the last forkfuls of food on his plate. The table grew silent, the air watchful. Jayne looked up to see all five men watching him intently, and wished he had more than the knife in his left boot and the tiny pistol in his right.
“What?” he grunted, daring them to move first.
Di Fuega spread his hands in a conciliatory gesture. “Easy friend, we don’t mean no harm.” He glanced around at his crew. “We just heard of that ship in time past.”
“What,” Jayne asked, pushing his empty plate away, “Mal Reynolds stiff you out of a deal or something?”
Di Fuega nodded, as if Jayne had confirmed something. “Yes, Reynolds. That was the captain’s name, I heard.”
The tall man looked at Jayne in disbelief. “You didn’t ship on the Serenity, Cobb. No way did you ship on the Serenity.”
Jayne sat upright and stared the man down. “Just Serenity. And yeah, I did. Want to make a thing outta this?”
Trotter, the older man sitting at Di Fuega’s right hand looked at Jayne appraisingly. “You gotta understand, see, after that Wave hit all the way in to the Core planets, every two bit wanna be and his little fluffy dog was claiming to have shipped with Reynolds.”
Jayne looked pointedly at his side. “You see any fluffy dog here?”
“You got a fluffy little bitch in that cabin,” Hu sneered again. “She on Serenity too?”
Jayne raised an eyebrow. “That fluffy… girl… could bust your pi gu six ways from Sunday with just her pinkie finger before anyone could move to help you,” he said darkly. “I seen her take down a room full o’ Reavers,” he added, then mentally cursed himself. He had told River she needed to lay low and avoid being recognized by scum like this, and here he was talkin’ her up. He may as well just send a friendly wave to the Alliance creeps that fucked her up in the first place, offering to hold her down while they stuck needles in her eyes. He glanced warily around the table.
To his relief, and immense irritation, the entire crew was looking at him like he was a liar, and a bad one at that.
He sighed, and reached behind him to grab a protein pack for River. This was going to be a long trip.
Out of courtesy, and maybe a little bit to irritate Hu who, it seemed, was also in charge of the kitchen, Jayne made a point of wiping out the bowl before he emptied the pack of plain brown protein into it. He grabbed a fork and stood, not bothering to excuse himself.
“Taking dinner to the lady?” Trotter enquired mildly. Something in his manner reminded Jayne of Book, and he bit back the sharp insult he was readying. He nodded.
“She can join us, if she wishes to,” Trotter went on. “We can behave well enough.” Jayne didn’t even bother to look like he was considering. He answered decisively.
“She eats in the room. She don’t like to mix.” He glanced at the men before him. “You know how it is.” He shrugged. “Women.”
He wondered if he should be worried that she hadn’t cried once. The thought occurred to him on his way back to their room that River might have been cured by the shock of everything that had happened, and that this is how she was normally. The thought gave him a shuddering pause, but he supposed that he should be grateful that she wasn’t crying all the time at least.
Grateful she hasn’t killed me yet.
When he entered, she was still drawing. She had been working on this drawing for hours, using the only three coloured pencils she had – green, red and black. Whatever it was, it was immensely detailed, and she was crouched over it in a position that would have crippled a normal person, scowling in concentration. When he entered she looked up, startled, appeared to be listening, then shot him a black look and returned to her drawing.
“Don’t do that,” he growled. “Just don’t.”
“Would it comfort you to know I’m not planning on killing you?” she asked flatly, shading something red with short strokes. He tossed her the bowl of protein. She caught it without looking up, and laid it carefully by her hip, without spilling a drop. Jayne cocked an eyebrow at her.
“Not really.” He laid himself on his bunk, moving slowly like every muscle was aching. Really he was wishing he could go and lift some weights, or get in a bar fight, or even get some trim, anything to ward off the heaviness in his bones. He wondered if –
“You aren’t getting too old for this. You’ll die before then,” River supplied.
“Shut the hell up!” he hissed, and rolled onto his side, his back to her.
After a moment, he grabbed his thin, dingy pillow and put his head under it.
“That doesn’t help any, brother,” River said.
“I’m not your ruttin’ brother,” he said viciously, his tone somewhat muffled. He felt her thin fingers on his arm, a soft touch, just one.
“No,” she agreed, her voice still flat, “my brother is dead. He died. He was shot twice in his abdomen, and died of shock and blood loss approximately forty minutes later.” She was quiet for a moment. “He was wearing the blue shirt he changed into at Alys Camberson’s coming out party.”
Jayne removed the pillow from his head and looked at her.
“How come you ain’t cried once since your brother got killed? Girls cry.”
River looked at him coolly. “I don’t think I’m a girl any more.”
She raised an eyebrow and returned to her drawing.
Jayne replaced the pillow, and tried to sleep.
He woke to darkness, and she was gone. He fumbled for a moment to turn up the lights, and grunted in surprise and displeasure. Her bunk was empty, the bags neatly stacked at its foot. The covers were untouched. Her pad and pencils lay discarded on the pillow. Jayne leaned over and picked it up. He grunted again in surprise as he saw what she had been drawing. The image was shocking, detailed and almost exactly as he remembered it. It was Kaylee, rendered in dark red, green and black, as she lay dying next to Simon in the infirmary. Her eyes were half open, gazing blankly from the paper at Jayne as he studied the picture. He flipped the page over, to be rid of the image that hit his eyeballs every time he closed his eyes to sleep, and found pictures of Mal sprawled in his chair on the bridge, an expression of baffled fury frozen across his features, Zoe, from the back, curled in the dirt like she was sleeping, and Serenity herself, drawn from a distance, crouched protectively over the bodies buried at her feet, all drawn in nightmarish detail, and all in three colours – red, green and black. Jayne threw the book back on River’s neatly made bunk with a curse. He rose, pulled on his boots, and went looking for her.
He found her sitting at the table in the crew area with Trotter. The older man looked apprehensive as Jayne approached.
“Gorramit girl,” Jayne swore at her, “I told you not to go wanderin’. Didn’t I tell you not to go wanderin’?”
“This man won’t turn me in. The others think unpleasant thoughts about us, would kill us. Still might. This one won’t.”
Jayne didn’t move. He was furious angry but didn’t want to raise his voice or start anything with River while Trotter was here. River might trust him, but Jayne sure as hell didn’t. He settled for grinding his teeth and growling at the girl who widened her eyes and looked away. Yeah, he thought, you go and read my gorram thoughts now, girl. She shrank back a little from him. From his seat across the table, Trotter wore a bemused expression. Jayne shot him a dark scowl.
“River, git to bed,” he ground out. He was surprised when the girl didn’t argue. She just rose and ghosted past him out of the door.
The room was silent after she left.
“She seems a handful,” Trotter said at last. “She said she was your sister.”
Jayne unclenched himself and forced his body to sit down. He wasn’t made for this.
“She ain’t my sister,” he answered. Trotter raised his eyebrows. Jayne took exception.
“And it ain’t dirty like that neither,” he added. “I ain’t no kiddy picker.”
“In that case it’s none of my business,” Trotter replied and rose to leave. He turned back to Jayne. “You’d be wise to keep the both of you out of the way of the others though. She can cause trouble and they’ve been in space a long time.”
Jayne nodded slowly.
On his way back to their cabin, Jayne paused in the cargo bay to punch the corner of a container until his knuckles bled. When he finally slumped into his bunk, he didn’t pause to check if River was really asleep or faking it.
Trouble came the next day. They were only two days out from their destination, and Jayne had been half hoping they would get there without any distractions or problems. Only half hoping because punching on shipping containers was not as satisfying as beating on a man’s jaw, and was a helluva lot more painful. Jayne was coiled tight, and when trouble came he was eager to meet it.
River had not spoken to him since the previous night in the galley, but she had not attempted to kick down the walls or kill him either, so he figured they were okay. She spent most of that morning crouched over her drawing paper, sketching furiously with her black pencil. After what he had seen last night, Jayne truly didn’t want to know what hellish image she was exorcising from her brain now. Simon lay not five inches from her drawing hand but Jayne couldn’t complain about that, not after he had taken to wearing every weapon he still owned. He figured Trotter would leave well enough alone, but after the man’s advice and River’s cryptic words last night, he was taking no chances. They were two days out and he’d be damned if they were going to get turned in or turned on by this mangy crew before they set foot dirtside. He stretched on his bunk, as he had been almost all morning, save for a trip to the galley to collect breakfast for himself and River and a trip to the heads. He sighed and tried to turn over on his bunk. Most uncomfortable gorram bunk he’d ever had the misfortune to lay his bones on.
“Do you remember when you bought that bushel of apples, after what you did on Ariel?” River asked suddenly, looking up from her drawing. He opened his eyes and glared at her.
“I liked them. Even though I threw up afterwards, I liked them. Kaylee liked them too.” She bent to her drawing again. “I stole one and she chased me.” She was quiet for a moment. “Simon made me a real girl for that day, but it made me sick. Maybe I’m allergic to reality.” Her hands froze in place and she gripped her pencil so tightly it almost snapped. “I don’t want any more needles,” she said, her voice suddenly strident and loud.
Jayne jumped in surprise and rolled off the bunk to kneel by her. He didn’t touch her.
“Shut up,” he hissed. She jerked backwards, wild eyed and distant, and scuttled backward to crouch in front of her bunk, knees up and pencil held like a knife.
“I don’t like that,” she said forcefully. “Stop it! Stop! Don’t touch me…” Her voice fell to a whimper. “Please, stop touching me like that.” She heaved and gestured as though she were pushing somebody away. Jayne was at a loss. He really needed her to shut up, not to create a stir or draw attention to them. Any hint of crazy and di Fuega might pitch them off at the nearest stop, or kill them, or report them.
“Hush now,” he hissed, awkwardly. “Uh, there there, ain’t no one touching you, Crazy. Just your fool brain bein’ crazy again.”
She paid him no mind and cried out again. He slumped on the floor, out of ideas. This was never his department. He considered knocking her out, wondered if he could sneak up on her and do it before she killed him. When he glanced up at her again, she was peering at him over the edge of her skinny knees through her hair.
“I don’t like it when he thinks of me,” she said, sounding normal. Jayne’s mystified reply was cut off by a knock on the door.
“Everything okay in there, Cobb?”
It was Hu’s voice. Jayne shot a grim warning glance at River. She nodded. He hauled himself up and went to the door. He pulled it open a little and shot the little man an irritable glare. The tall fella from the dinner table last night was standing behind him.
“Fine. Girl’s just havin’ vapours,” Jayne replied, trying to sound as though it was normal female behaviour.
Hu attempted to peer past him into the room. Jayne shifted to block his view and let his irritation and anger show on his face. “Help you with anythin’ in particular?”
The tall man nodded. “Actually, yeah. We’re having some trouble shiftin’ some paneling in the engine room. Need to get in there to make some repairs, and another pair of hands would be right useful. Captain sent me to fetch you, see if you’d help.”
Jayne glanced over his shoulder at River. She shook her head, looking wary and tense. Dangerous, she mouthed at him. He turned back to the men in front of him and smiled broadly.
“Sure fellas. Be right there. Let me pull my boots on.” He slid the door closed and knelt down in front of River.
“They want to hurt you,” she hissed. “They made that.” She pointed to the blood stain on the wall above his bunk.
“They can try.” He grinned at her. “Stay here. Anyone comes at ya, shoot ‘em. You got Simon close there?”
She nodded and pulled the handgun onto her lap. He grinned again and River felt the sudden fierce anticipation running through him like he had said it. He straightened.
“Don’t do nothin’ violent less you have to. Then you do it properly.”
He crossed to the door in one stride, pulled it open and let Hu and the tall man point the way.
It only took them twelve steps into the cargo bay, away from the cabins, to try to take him down. He thought, as he ducked the first blow and swung economically at Hu’s skinny gut, that acting so soon lacked finesse. He’d’ve waited for a corridor, less space for a man his size to swing. Still, he thought, as a fist connected with his jaw, beggars can’t be choosers.
The tall fella was tough in his own way and landed some good blows before Jayne knocked the wind out of him and sent him to the ground. Hu was a slippery fighter, fast and small, and he used some sort of fancy martial art crap that made it hard for Jayne to smack him properly. His big fists just kept meeting air while Hu landed kicks and blows quickly. Jayne grunted as he felt the skin above his left eye split open and a moment later felt blood begin to drip and obscure his vision. He heard Hu laugh and struck quickly at the sound, feeling a satisfying amount of flesh beneath his fist as it struck. Hu grunted and fell back, gagging slightly after the blow to his solar plexus. Jayne straightened, wiping blood off his face and flicking it onto the floor. The tall fella was rising slowly and warily, and Hu looked to have plenty of fight left in him yet. Jayne felt covered in bruises, but his blood, the bits that weren’t dripping to the floor, was singing. It felt good to be doing this. Simple, easy violence.
Hu came at him again, fast and greasy as a slick monkey. Jayne fended off his blows and landed one or two of his own, swift, powerful upper cuts to the man’s head that only slowed him up a little. Aware that the other man was beginning to close, Jayne swung around to take him down again – only to meet the barrel of a pistol, gleaming viciously not ten inches from his face. Hu paused, panting.
“You lose.” He spat. “Everything including the girl. She’s mine now.”
Jayne heard the gun click as it was cocked.
Then he heard Hu swear and the thud of fist on flesh and he leapt forward, taking advantage of the distraction. He slammed his elbow into the tall man’s face and pulled the gun out of his limp fingers before kicking him in the back, sending him crashing heavily into a bulkhead a few metres away. When he turned back, he saw River engaged with Hu, moving faster and more gracefully than the man. He considered intervening, but decided against it. Instead he rubbed at his side and wondered if he’d had a rib cracked again and watched the fight. It only lasted a minute, and River finished Hu off with a snapping kick to his head that sent him slumping senselessly to the floor. She wasn’t even winded when she looked at him uncertainly. He nodded.
“That showed him. I coulda taken them down though. You didn’t have to – “
“He was going to shoot you, and I would have shot him before I let him touch me.” She nudged him with the toe of her boot. “He’s not thinking of me now.”
“What in flaming hell is going on here?”
Di Fuega stormed into the bay from the passage that led to the engine room with Trotter at his heels. “What the hell have you done to my crew, Cobb?”
“Nothing they didn’t start,” Jayne replied. He took in the captain’s wary expression and suddenly realized what had gone on. He smiled menacingly.
“I see your setup here, Captain. Done it myself once or twice.”
Di Fuega spat angrily. “What?”
“Ain’t no percentage in bushwhacking me and the girl, see? We ain’t got nothin’ worth stealin’ ‘cept the weapons and I’ll shoot you myself before I let you have them.”
The captain deflated slightly and looked over at River. She looked at him, all wide eyed innocence, and pointed to Hu, still unconscious at her feet.
“I kicked him in the head.”
Trotter hid a small smile and Di Fuega swore loudly.
“Keep a leash on your boys. Next time I’ll ruttin’ kill them.” Jayne turned away and took River’s arm. She let him lead her back to the cabin and close the door behind them.
When Jayne went to the galley that night to collect some food for himself and River, only Trotter was there, seated at the table, eating calmly. He looked up as Jayne came in.
“Please,” he said, “there’s some apples in that box there. Help yourself to two.” He pointed to a locker sitting on the bench. “They’re a little wrinkly, but I figure it’s the best we can do after today.”
Jayne warily chose two red apples and added them to the pile of silver foil packs he was assembling in a bowl.
“Why you shipping with this crew, Trotter? Don’t seem the kind of feller to be into this sort of thing.”
Trotter shrugged mildly. “It’s a way of keeping busy.”
Jayne snagged a second bowl. “Gettin’ off when we hit the dock?”
“No.” Trotter smiled. “There are certain law enforcers who feel that I shouldn’t have left prison when I did.”
Jayne was intrigued. “What were you in for?”
Trotter looked dark for a moment. “Nothing important. Enjoy your dinner.”
Jayne hesitated. “I spotted some weights in one of the store rooms off the bay. Want me to spot you?”
Trotter looked surprised and shook his head. “Thank you, no. I’ve never been into that sort of thing.”
Jayne was unaccountably saddened by this however, although he would never admit to himself, River’s wide delighted grin as he tossed her the apple perked his spirits right back up.
Apart from the occasional grunted curse, Victoria’s crew did not bother Jayne and River again until they docked. Di Fuega saw them off the ship and out into the busy docking bay.
“I shoulda never given you passage, Cobb.”
“You shoulda never gotten your boys to try for me, Di Fuega.”
The captain shook his head. “And just what the hell are you doing in the core planets, Cobb?”
Jayne turned to River, who was gazing around wearing an expression of wary delight. He jerked his thumb at her.
“Taking the lady to see her folks,” he replied.
“Well welcome to Osiris, Cobb,” Di Fuega said sourly. “Hope you burn here.”
Jayne ignored him and slung their bags over his shoulders. River turned and took hers from him, carrying it herself. He didn’t complain. He felt like he’d definitely cracked a rib in that fight.
“How’s it feel to be home again?” he asked her. She didn’t reply, but started walking.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007 10:47 AM
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