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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
An old acquaintance causes problems
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 659 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
The Last Spartan – Chapter Twelve
Author owns no rights to Firefly or it’s associated characters. He just really enjoys playing with them, even though he ain’t gettin’ paid.
The days turned to weeks, and the weeks to months. Three of them, in fact. Three months in which Serenity returned to almost normal, and business was being conducted.
Mal and Inara were no longer keeping it a secret that they were an ‘item’, much to the relief of the crew. And Inara was using her contacts to keep the ship very busy. Money was good, and even more so since there was an extra ten percent floating around. Not everyone was happy with that, but Jayne was, and that was really all that mattered.
“Jayne, I don’t understand why you always made such a big deal over the money, if you’re so rich,” Zoe said one afternoon as the two were walking through town. Serenity was docked on Persephone, and the two were on their way to meet Mal and Inara about a job.
“Would anyone believe a merc who didn’t bitch about money?” Jayne asked, eyebrow raised in amusement. Zoe had the grace to look embarrassed.
“Hadn’t thought o’ that,” she admitted.
“You’ve never had to, Zoe, because you’ve always been yourself,” Jayne pointed out. “I’ve lived this way for a long time. It’s second nature to me.”
“So how long have you been Jayne Cobb, then?” Zoe asked him.
“Oh, ‘bout a hundred years or so, I guess,” was the calm reply. “I used it for the first time that long ago, roughly. And again about sixty years ago.”
“So you just keep a drawer full o’ characters, and trot one out new ever now and then?” Zoe looked at him in wonder.
“No, not always,” Jayne answered after a moment. “Sometimes, I live as the same person for a long time. I color my hair to make it gray, retire from a real job, things like that. Then, once everything is settled, and most people are ignoring me, I pretend to move away, and just disappear.”
“That’s sneaky,” Zoe accused, eyes laughing. “I like it.”
“Well, it beats the alternative,” Jayne grinned. “Like, oh, being burned at the stake, or having someone shoot you with a crossbow. That kinda thing.”
“So you can’t die? Can’t be killed?” Zoe asked, and he knew she was thinking about Wash. He looked at her.
“Oh, I can be killed,” he nodded firmly. “It’s just not that easy to do, that’s all. Mostly it takes another like me to do the job. And there aren’t that many like me left in the ‘verse.”
“I thought sunlight would kill you,” Zoe admitted, and Jayne snorted.
“So did Simon, till I reminded him that he’d seen me walking in the sunlight before. No, sunlight, holy water, crucifixes, none of that stuff is true. Not for those like me. Though I have to admit, I’ve never considered myself a vampire. I know that the stories you’ve read had to come from somewhere though, and it was likely about one like me.”
“Then how did all those stories get made up?” Zoe wondered. “Why does everyone believe that sunlight. . .” she trailed off when she seen Jayne’s smirk.
“Wonder where, indeed?” he asked, laughing. “Where do you think it came from?” Slowly Zoe caught on.
“Jayne!” she scolded playfully. “You mean you made all that up? Why?”
“Why do you think? Here you are, talking to me in broad daylight. Would you suspect that I’m a. . .one of them, knowing that they cannot appear in the sun?”
“Oh,” Zoe said quietly. “Camouflage.”
“Exactly,” Jayne nodded. “And I didn’t make all of it up,” he added with a wink. “But I did help.”
“You’re a scoundrel, Jayne Cobb!” Zoe scolded again, hitting him on the shoulder. Jayne laughed at that. He and Zoe had never gotten along this well before, and it was a good feeling.
The two continued down the street, unaware they were being watched.
“That them?” a voice on the darkness of the alley hissed.
“Yep,” another answered. “Big one’s named Cobb. A merc. Other’s Washburne. Reynolds’ First Mate. Remember, he want’s ‘em alive. And the women unspoiled.”
“That might not happen,” the hidden voice hissed again. “I take a notion. . .”
“Then you pay,” the other said simply. “He isn’t someone who takes kindly to disobedience.” The words were spoken calmly enough, but the threat was clear.
“Fine,” a huff. “Unspoiled.”
“Then we have an accord.”
River had remained aboard ship, since she was unlikely to be needed in town. It was an added security to have a gun hand remain on board, and it gave her time to practice with her new sword.
The katana was a thing of beauty to the little assassin. Rolled steel formed into a perfect blade, exactly the right length and balance for her size. Taze was, indeed, a master sword maker. She twirled the blade in her hand, gradually becoming adjusted to the weight and balance of it.
Jayne had not yet allowed her to use it in training, and she didn’t expect to for some time. Since he was staying for a while, her training was slower, and more methodical than it might have otherwise been.
While she chafed at not using the blade some, she was warmed by the fact that Jayne took his promise to train her seriously. It wasn’t much, maybe, but it did show that he cared. She’d take what she could get. And now that Kaylee and Jayne weren’t, whatever, the door was open once again, however slightly, for her. In the meantime. . .
River forgot her interest in Jayne as she felt a strange mind approaching the ship.
One that was definitely up to no good. Two minds, she realized, as another intruded upon her heightened senses. Reaching out, she realized they were close, no more than a minute or two away.
She’d have to act fast. Hurrying to find Kaylee and Simon, River began to formulate a plan.
The attack happened so fast that even Jayne was caught by surprise. One minute he and Zoe were walking along, bantering back and forth, the next they struck from their blind side, forced into an alleyway.
Zoe fell to the ground hard, wind knocked from her lungs. Seeing she was disabled, at least temporarily, the four attackers all turned on Jayne.
“You come quietly, you won’t get hurt, Cobb,” one of them snarled. “Man want’s ya alive, and we always try and please our boss. So just. . .” He broke off as Jayne started laughing.
“Come quietly?” he chuckled. “I’ve never gone anywhere quietly in my life.” Before the words could register, Jayne was moving. Zoe was struggling to get to her feet. She looked on, but could see only a blur.
Before she was able to get up, the ‘fight’ was over, and Jayne was bent over the last of the unfortunates. The sounds coming from him were unsettling, and Zoe realized with a start that Jayne was. . .
“Jayne!” Zoe hissed. “You shouldn’t be doing that!” Jayne’s head snapped around, and she saw the bloody fangs and purple eyes. And wondered if maybe she shouldn’t have said anything.
“You are correct,” Jayne hissed after a minute, and lowered the victim to the ground. He reached down with both hands, and deftly snapped the thug’s neck, then stood. When he turned to Zoe, all trace of. . .it, was gone, and Jayne Cobb once more stood before her.
“We need to get to Mal and Inara,” Jayne told her suddenly. “This one’s blood tells me they are after us all.” Zoe nodded, and started moving. Then a thought hit her.
“What about the ship?” she asked. Jayne smiled, though there was little humor in the look.
“They didn’t send enough men,” he grinned ferally. “Parum Spartiate will see to them.”
River watched as the two men approached the ship. Their intentions radiated off them like heat waves. They were to capture the crew, and destroy the ship. She dug a bit deeper, discovering who they were working for.
Wing. Atherton Wing. She sighed. Mal needed to take a few lessons from Jayne about leaving live enemies behind him.
She walked into the middle of the bay, sword hidden in the folds of her skirt. Jayne would be furious of course, but she was certain that she could cajole him into forgiveness, especially if she performed well.
And there was a small pistol strapped to her thigh if she didn’t.
“You there, miss?” she turned her head to acknowledge the two men in the doorway.
“This Serenity?” the other asked, as both men eased further into the ship. One looked back to see if anyone else was watching.
“Yes,” River answered, her face that of a beguiling teenager.
“Well, then,” the smaller smiled, and pulled his gun. “Ima have to ask you to come with us for a bit. No trouble now, you aren’t to be harmed. Just need to have some words with a man.” He started toward her. “Are you alone, here?”
“Yes,” River nodded, appearing frightened. “The others went into town, and left me here alone.” River bit her bottom lip, and appeared on the verge of tears.
“Well, that’s a right shame, that is,” the little man grinned evilly. “And you such a pretty thing too. . . .ack.” The tough’s little speech was terminated abruptly as a foot of hot rolled sword protruded from his back. The look of shock on his face was priceless, but River ignored it. Taking one of her new knives, she threw it overhand at the larger one. Caught by surprise, the bigger man couldn’t avoid it, and the blade bit deeply into his shoulder, forcing him to drop his gun.
“You little. . .” he exclaimed through clenched teeth. He tried to pick up his gun, but River was there, sword to his throat. He froze.
“Well, well,” River almost sang. “What shall I do with you?”
“You ain’t got long to decide,” he snarled. “Your friends are already taken.”
“You don’t know my friends,” River giggled. She reached out with her mind, finding Jayne and Zoe, and smiling as she read Jayne’s emotions.
“Your friends have failed,” she smirked. “They lie dead in an alley way. But don’t fret, you will see them soon.” Before the words could sink in, River flicked her wrist, and the sword opened the man’s throat.
“You can come out, now,” she called, and Simon and Kaylee emerged from their hiding place. River didn’t miss the way Kaylee was holding so tightly to Simon, and fought off the urge to smile.
“River, what he said,” Kaylee stammered. “‘Bout our friends. Is that true?”
“Yes, but already Jayne and Zoe have escaped the trap set for them, and are moving to Mal and Inara this very minute,” River assured her. Then she frowned.
“Too late,” she murmured. Looking up at Simon and Kaylee, River gave them the bad news.
“They are too late. Mal and Inara are gone.”
Mal and Inara were indeed gone.
“This don’t look good, Jayne,” Zoe observed, as she examined the two bodies lying in the floor. Undoubtedly their prospective clients, or their representatives.
“It doesn’t,” he agreed. “We need to see if we can find out what happened,” he added, looking forlornly at the two bodies.
“Can you. . .I mean with the. . .thingy. . .” Zoe sputtered, finally giving up as she struggled to find the words for her question.
“I can,” he nodded, “but it is unlikely to help. They would have to have had knowledge of who did this, and they are unlikely to.”
“Oh,” Zoe replied, as if she understood. Which she almost did.
“River will know,” Jayne said confidently. “We must return to Serenity at once.”
With a nod, Zoe started for the door, Jayne close behind.
When the first mate and the mercenary arrived, Simon and River were removing the last body from the bay, having wrapped it in plastic and then a tarp. The bodies were placed into a crate, then set behind the refuse collector. Someone would find them. Eventually.
Kaylee was hosing out the bay, having been unable to help with the bodies.
“What happened?” Zoe demanded. River looked up at her.
“Two men came to take us and destroy the ship,” she said simply. “They failed.”
“Eu, parum Spartiate,” Jayne said to River, and she beamed at the compliment.
“What did he say?” Kaylee asked Simon, who was smiling. He turned to her.
“‘Well done, little Spartan’,” he whispered. “A great compliment for River,” he added. “Especially from Jayne.”
“That’s sweet,” Kaylee murmured.
“Do you know where they took Cap’n and Inara?” Zoe asked River.
“Not specifically, but I do know where they were supposed to take us,” River nodded to the crate. “Perhaps it’s the same?”
“Work for now, since it’s all we got,” Zoe said. “Near or far?”
“Far,” River told her. “Other side of the planet.”
“We’ll take the ship, then,” Zoe said firmly. “Don’t want us too separated, in case they try again. Let’s get airborne.”
The crew hurried to get things done, and within minutes they were in the air, flying toward the far side of the world. River was flying, feeling her way to where the two men had intended to take her and Simon and Kaylee.
Jayne was restless, and paced softly back and forth behind her. She smiled.
“Janos is edgy,” she teased. “Wants the blood of Atherton Wing.”
“He does,” Jayne nodded. He had long since stopped being annoyed at her for using his Spartan name. She enjoyed it, and it hurt no one.
“Like the name,” River giggled. “Strong, masculine.” Jayne resisted the urge to sigh. He genuinely cared for River, something he’d not allowed himself to do much of in the last . . . long time, he realized with a start.
But there was simply no point in a relationship between him and the little one. True she was a grown woman, nearly twenty-one. Had he merely been Jayne Cobb, thirty-three year old mercenary and scoundrel, he would never have hesitated.
But though his body was still thirty-three, he was far too old for that kind of thing. True he was fully . . . functional. He smiled at the word. But he was master of his emotions, rather than the opposite.
He had refused to entertain even the idea of a relationship with Kaylee, in part because he also cared for her very much. She was too like Verana for him not to. But what he had said to her was true. It would be the worst kind of unfair, for both of them. And, he admitted, he didn’t love Kaylee as he had Verana. Never would. He did cherish the little mechanic, and always would, but never share with her the love he had with Verana so long ago.
He and Kaylee were too different. He was a violent man, and would always be so. A soldier, trained from the age of seven. And always was a very long time for someone like him. Kaylee could not handle that, no matter how much she might have grown to love him.
And he would eventually have to watch her die. The fact that she was so like Verana would simply add to the pain.
No, he was better off alone, despite the pain it often caused.
River could feel all of this, as Jayne debated within himself. She was disappointed, as she felt his determination to remain aloof harden. But she would not give up, she vowed. Not so long as her body held breath.
Jayne was it, she was sure. He made her dizzy with his presence. Her heart pounded when he walked into the room, and her breathing became faster when he was near. There was no doubt in her mind that he was the one man for her.
He would just take a great deal of convincing, she assured herself. She was a genius. She’d figure it out.
Thursday, November 15, 2007 1:43 PM
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