BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE

HERMITSREST

Uncharted Waters - Part One
Monday, November 12, 2007

Mal worries that his crew aren’t focusing and sooner or later something will go wrong, which of course it does but not in the way he expects. 13th fanfic featuring post BDM characters and a few of my own creation. Very grateful thanks to BlueEyedBrigadier for the beta. Having feedback is like charging my battery, please comment. Part 1 of 2.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2187    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

With Serenity back in the Black, it was time to get back to normal. Mal was happy that there was plenty to do that would allow him not to think too much on Inara. It would take time to get her out of his system, he knew that, but life goes on and she had made it clear that she did not want him around. Well, not clear exactly, as muddy as usual in fact, but there was little he could do but accept it. He heard Zoe yell that breakfast was ready for those who wanted it. He was not hungry and for some reason still nursing strained muscles and a massive bruise on his head, though he could not remember how. Apparently not the only one either. It was normal practice for the crew to sort out their own breakfasts, but most of them were still suffering from an over-abundance of Frye moonshine in their systems and he guessed they were still part of the hangover club. He could not blame them, that moonshine was lethal and a lot of Simon’s bachelor party was an entire mystery to him – probably why it was such a success. “So?” said Karl to Jayne. They were not sitting at the table but in the seating area. Jayne toyed with his fried protein wearing a half-turned smile on his face. “So what?” “You’ve been walking around with a huge grin on your face for two days an’ not said a word.” “Oh that,” he said flatly, not elaborating. Karl starred at him in disbelief and persevered. “So you had a good time at the wedding?” “Yes,” replied Jayne simply. Karl snorted. “And afterwards…?” “Don’t wanna talk about it.” “Oh come on! I told you about Bane. It’s no different.” “Like I said, I don’t wanna talk about it.” “Knock you back, did she?” said Karl, knowing the opposite. He put down his spoon and patted him on the shoulder. “Never mind. I guess we all had her pegged wrong.” Jayne shook his head. “Not wrong – just don’t wanna talk about it.” Jayne was getting annoyed that Karl kept pushing him. He really did not know why he was feeling all secretive about it, but he just was and could not explain it. “You talk about everything, Jayne. Obscenely so. Come on. I’ll tell you about the pole dancing.” Jayne raised an eyebrow, but did not fall into the trap again. He wanted to bring this conversation to an end and he replied sounding louder and angrier than he intended. “Look, nutin’ happened that I wanna talk about so leave it alone.” He looked over and Esper was standing in front of him. Oh crap, he said to himself as he saw the hurt on her face. She fled the galley as quick as she could. “Nice, Jayne,” said Zoe, overhearing and putting down the pan, going out after her. She caught up as Esper was trying to pass River on the stairs. “Esper wait. You don’t know Jayne well enough yet, so I’ll tell you.” “Don’t bother, I should have known.” Zoe stopped her by grabbing her arm and kept hold. “No you don’t know. Jayne discusses his sexin’ habits with anyone who’ll listen.” “And those who don’t want to,” added River. “For him not to want to talk about you an’ him sexin’ means… well it means he really likes you.” Esper looked unconvinced. Zoe persisted, not really understanding why the woman was so upset. “Why does it matter so much, anyway? It ain’t like you’ve not come across this before on a place like Whittier.” Esper could not answer. “Jayne deflowered Rapunzel,” stated River. “Deflower- What?! You mean it was your first time?” said Zoe incredulously, trying to gauge whether she had estimated her age wrong. She had not, the woman was near the same age as herself. Esper looked at River and flashed angrily. “Doesn’t go telling anyone, eh? Well how did she know?” “She’s psychic,” answered Zoe, and so normally that Esper took her words as flippant. She pulled her arm out of Zoe’s grip. “Very funny.” “You were sweet on Andrew Fairly, but you never said anything to anyone,” said River, disproving her, “When they went away to war though you would’ve married any one of them if only they’d come back alive and make your world safe again.” Esper had gone very still and Zoe thought she was going to faint as River continued, “You never told Abe that you tried to kill yourself.” “River,” warned Zoe. Esper sat down on the stairs, afraid that she was going to fall over. “She’s right. I couldn’t cope with all the pain. First, losing my parents and then my sweet boys – men,” she corrected, “And then Carmen. It wasn’t fair. I took pills an’ thought I’d taken enough. Then I woke up and discovered it hadn’t worked. An’ Abe, in his own grief, never even noticed I’d been gone. He needed me and I vowed to take care of him from then on.” “And let no one else in but the ghosts.” finished River. Zoe sat down next to Esper. “Why’d you let Jayne in?” she asked curiously, knowing she was prying, but still not putting the two of them together in any sense. Esper looked at her unadorned left hand and rubbed the parts of her fingers that used to wear the rings. “He’s kinda hard to block out. I couldn’t stop myself.” “You know he’s got the social graces of an ape?” Zoe said tentatively. From her way of thinking, it was best to warn the woman now seeing as they’d be spending some weeks on the same ship together. Esper laughed softly, finding her humour again and remembering how she had heard him fart when they came on board. “And the subtly of an ox,” she added, and looked up at them both smiling, “You know his way of – of persuadin’ me ta go with him?” Zoe dreaded to hear the words Esper was going to say, but at least it looked like she did not mind now. “He said he was all dosed up and ready to fire blanks.” Zoe laughed more heartily than she intended. “What a sweet talker,” she replied, getting up, satisfied that all was well. “What a boob,” responded River, thoroughly disgusted.

Meanwhile Jayne was convinced that all was not well. He rested his head on his elbows, still on the couch in the galley. Having a woman on board who he had sexed it up with was new ground for him. He would never have hesitated in detailing his exploits before, but she was a nice girl – woman, he corrected, and he respected her. Once again, Jayne wondered if he was going moonbrain. Plus, Esper’s father was on the ship too. Frail old man he might seem but Jayne was not convinced. If Esper carried a gun then he could be sure the Abe did too. He better go and square it with him before things started getting violent. Abram wiped his hands on some cloth and looked at the list that Kaylee had left him. He still did not know when she had found time to write it in between the wedding night and leaving for Boros, but it was long. On their first day back in the Black, he had got up early, made coffee and then sat in her hammock in the engine room going through the list. Most of the items were reminders written in a way that could only be Kaylee. “If you hear a whining sound coming from the grav box, trying kicking it,” Abram read out loud again and chuckled to himself. He doubted he would get through everything before she returned, but he was awful glad to feel useful again. He saw the bottom of the list on the last page. “If you get time, write me some more poetry on Serenity, but nothing I won’t be able to understand.” There was a little doodle of a heart next to it. He shook his head. She really was a peach and that doctor was a lucky man. He scratched his virtually bald head, leaving a smudge of grease behind, and tried to choose what to do next. “Hey Abe,” said Jayne, coming into the engine room. “Made yourself at home, ain’t ya?” Abe showed him Kaylee’s list. “It’s number one on her list,” pointed Abe. Jayne took the first sheet and read slowly. “’My hammock is very comfortable, please use.’ She’s very specific.” “Read number twenty one,” suggested Abe. “’If Jayne orders you to do something, check with Mal first.’ Hey!” he protested. Jayne looked at the other side of the paper. The girl had written a gorram epic and it looked like Abe was holding at least four more pages. “That the only one ‘bout me?” Abe smiled. “So far.” Jayne shifted uncomfortably, and Abe saw that he had something on his mind. “Er. ‘Bout Esper. I – We-“ Abram wished he could get out of the hammock easily. Instead he held up his hand. “Don’t wanna know, Jayne. Esper’s a grown woman and not strictly my daughter.” Jayne cleared his throat and shuffled, willing to persevere. Mal thought he was hearing things and decided that maybe he was hallucinating, or still drunk from the wedding. But sure enough, Jayne was in the engine room telling Abe that he’d had relations with his daughter. Got me a ship of rutting teenagers, thought Mal. He cleared his throat as Jayne had just done and they both looked around. Once again, Abe wished he could get out of Kaylee’s hammock easily. “Abe – good to see you’re makin’ yourself comfortable. We’re landing on Regina at nightfall to meet up with a contact of mine. Need you to stay aboard an’ keep her warm.” “Who we meetin’, Mal?” asked Jayne, who had fully composed himself again. “Remember Dura, who gave us the Takoma heist? It’s him.” “We ain’t met up with him for a while.” “You won’t be. I want you to stay on the ship.” “Aw, Mal...!” “Already said it.” ~ * ~ Jayne was in the cargo bay chatting to Abe as he was underneath the mule fixing the brake line, another item on Kaylee’s to do list. Jayne was cleaning Vera, and despite enjoying his talk with Abe, was still irritated that Mal had not taken him along to meet Dura. He went along last time, gorram it. Mal said he wanted to see if he could sell the man some of Bane’s EMP guns, as well as picking up whatever he was giving them. Zoe was sleeping in her quarters on account of feeling unwell and he had no idea where River was. Or Esper. He had barely seen her all day since the disaster this morning. He wished heartily that he had just got up and walked away when Karl started pushing him for details. He was also annoyed enough at himself to find that it bothered him that she had not been back to his bunk since that night of the wedding, specially when he thought about those milky white breasts of hers and that noise she made when he... Jayne bent his head and concentrated vigorously on the cleaning. So much so he did not hear the click of the cocked pistol. “Hold it real steady there, man,” said a voice. Jayne froze and looked up slowly. Two men had now stepped through the door. He flicked a glance towards Abe, whose feet were still sticking out under the mule. He had dropped his hands though, so Jayne knew he was aware that something was going on. The two men had not seen him, yet and the mule had a gun in the holster fastened to the driver’s door, which was next on Jayne’s list to clean. “Where’s Dura?” asked the other man. “Wrong ship. You need ta look fer the other vessel that’s landed in the woods.” “You tryin’ ta be funny?” Jayne looked at their weapons pointed at them. “Would be right foolish for me ta do that,” he explained in a low voice. The short one came up to him and took Vera out of his hands. “Nice piece. I’ll be keepin’ this.” Jayne pressed his lips together in anger, but out of the corner of his eye he saw Abe shimmying out slowly from under the mule. “If you ain’t gonna tell us, we’ll just have to do our own searching.” “He ain’t here,” Jayne said, thinking about the others…thinking about Esper. “This ain’t his ship,” he repeated gruffly. He half rose, but the short man clocked him hard across the head with his own gun. Jayne fell to the ground stunned momentarily, but still conscious and very annoyed. The other one heard a scraping sound to his right and trained his gun on the mule. “Come out real slow,” he warned. Abe stood up with his greasy hands raised, but did not move out from behind the mule. The gun was accessible to him if the opportunity presented itself. “Looks like we caught ‘em with their pants down,” said the short one. He placed his boot on Jayne’s throat. Where was that rutting moonbrain reader when you needed her, thought Jayne angrily, trying to think of his next move. “Jayne, do yer reckon you-“ as he heard Esper’s voice, Jayne moved to take down the short one but not fast enough. The shot rang out and Esper leapt forward towards Jayne, screaming his name. “Hold it right there missy.” Jayne writhed in pain, the man had shot him in the rutting side. He took shallow breaths and brought up his hand which was slick with blood. “Come ‘ere,” said the taller one to Esper. “She’s right pretty, ain’t she, Wheeler?” said the short one. Esper stood still as a statue, flicking her gaze down to Jayne who she saw was moving, which meant he was not dead. Wheeler was licking his lips. “Come ‘ere, blondie,” he said again roughly. Until then, Esper had forgotten her hair was not wrapped up in the turban as she had been washing it. Jayne looked over and saw her before the little man kicked him in the face. Esper flinched as Jayne’s head whipped back with the blow and she started to walk forward. Wheeler grinned greedily and waved the gun at her beckoning her closer. Esper saw Abe as she came fully into the cargo bay, she also saw the gun in the holster in front of his waist. Jayne ignored the pain and attempted to get up. The mean short one kicked him again in the stomach right where he had been shot. He could not stop the groan escaping but managed to look up at Esper as she passed him. She looked down at him intently and he saw, he gulped, the love in her face – and the gun muzzle up the end of her sleeve. “Reckon I’ll have some fun after you,” said the short one, “She looks all kinds of squeezable under that sack she’s wearing.” Esper approached Wheeler, fear in her face, but moving on his left side so he had to turn his back to Abe. She could not breathe with the dread flowing icily down her back. When she was close enough to touch Wheeler, he grabbed her by the hair and then looked over to Jayne. “Don’t worry, I’ll leave her nice an’ lubed up for yer,” he leered and Esper shot him in the belly. Her second shot to his heart went off within moments of Abe’s gun and blood splattered instantly over the front of her. Wheeler dropped backwards and she spun around ready to shoot again at the other man. He was bleeding fatally from a bullet through the throat. Not even giving him a second glance Esper dropped to the ground beside Jayne. “Jayne? Jayne!” There was no answer as he had passed out, breathing raggedly. Abe was going up the stairs as fast as possible to find River and Zoe. Esper slapped Jayne hard across the face. “Wake up, gorram it,” she shouted, voice wavering. She put her head to his chest and the blood from his side soaked through, staining her blond hair. She grasped his t-shirt and lifted it and him towards her, using considerable effort. She pulled her other hand back and slapped him harder. Jayne groaned. “Jayne!” she let go of his shirt and his head banged on the floor. “What you tryin’ to do to me, woman?” he said weakly. Esper turned her attention to his wound which was still welling blood. “Jus’ stay awake on me an’ I won’t hit you again.” Jayne gasped weakly in pain as Esper applied pressure using her dress as wading. She glanced up when she heard the others coming down the stairs. Zoe at roughly six months pregnant was armed and covering the open door from the balcony as River and Abe ran back down the stairs. “I need some wading and a pain dose from the Med Bay,” she told River who ran off again to the Med Bay. “Need to get that bullet out,” shouted Zoe from above, but River had already left the cargo bay. Abe closed and locked the door and Zoe now moved down the stairs to join them. Esper looked at Jayne. He was groggy but still conscious. “That’s it,” she encouraged, “Stay with me, Jayne.” River returned with Esper’s request and she released her pressure and ripped up his t-shirt. Gunfights were common on Whittier, especially on a Saturday night, and she had dealt with more than one wound like this before. “Have you got this?” asked Zoe and Esper nodded confidently. River handed her the dose and Esper pressed it to Jayne’s neck, it almost slipping from her bloody hand. Zoe went to the Med Bay to fetch what Esper needed to remove the bullet. It would be no use trying to drag the man there – he was heavier than a horse and would just have to stay where he was for now. “Your…your hair,” whispered Jayne, horrified at seeing it stained with his blood. Esper smiled at him kindly, her hair being the least of her worries at the moment. River stood up to help Abe drag the two bodies towards the door but not out of it. “I’ll just have to wash it again,” she answered. Jayne lifted his chin, the only indication of pain, as Esper pressed down a fresh pad of wading. She knew she was hurting him but she had to stay focussed on fixing him. Zoe returned and placed the instruments within Esper’s reach before going off to get Mal on the comm. If there was another ship out there, they all needed to be warned, Dura included. Esper lifted off the wading and peered into the wound. It had stopped welling which hopefully meant that it had not hit any major organs. She picked up the small clamp and was impressed by its delicate precision. When removing bullets before, she mostly had to use a knife and her fingers, or something from the kitchen. Jayne closed his eyes. “Talk to me, Jayne. Let me know you’re still awake or I’ll haveta hit ya again.” Jayne opened his eyes slowly and a ghost of a smile touched his lips. “Thought you were mad at me.” “Look like I’m mad now?” she asked. Jayne looked at her calm but determined face with the blood smudges on her chin and cheek. He swallowed. “Look like grace,” Jayne stammered quietly. Esper smiled, but it was fleeting as she was concentrating on the job of removing the bullet. She did not let him keep silent for long. “Only came to ask see if you would clean my gun while you were doing that other one.” “Vera,” he corrected. “Vera?” “Gun’s name is Vera.” “Is it now? An’ what do you think I should call that bee sting I have?” Jayne thought but his mind was not up to the task at this moment. Naming a gun was a serious business. “Need easier question.” Esper snorted softly and she considered briefly as she delved deeper into Jayne’s side. She felt Jayne’s hand on her leg which squeezed harder as she went deeper. “Then tell me where you got that lovely orange hat.” “Ma knitted it for me.” “It’s real shiny. She must love you very much.” Jayne did not answer, he was pressing his lips together to stop from crying out. The pain dose was not working very well. “Tell me ‘bout her, Jayne. What’s she like?” Jayne blew a controlled breath from his mouth, moving, and Esper lost her grip on the bullet. She swore under her breath. “She’s a strong an’ determined woman. Don’t take no pi hua from no one.” Esper finally grasped the bullet using the clamp and pulled it out ever so slowly. She felt Jayne’s grip on her leg tighten. “Like you some – meanin’ no offence,” he finished through his teeth. Esper held up the bullet with satisfaction and dropped it on the floor. “I take that as a compliment, Jayne Cobb.” She leaned over and kissed him, lingering slightly. “How’s he doin’?” asked Abe. Esper flicked her head to shift her hair away from the next task; sewing him up. “He’ll be right as rain. Can you give him those other doses that Zoe brought in?” She threaded a needle, glancing down at Jayne briefly. “You still with me, tian shi?” Long as you’ll have me, thought Jayne, but he nodded silently to her. Esper cleaned the wound and sprayed it with antiseptic before she started sewing. Abe watched his daughter work, the sweat beaded on her forehead and totally unaware that she was the one who looked like an angel, even soaked in blood. Abe’s hand rested on Jayne’s shoulder for comfort but he doubted the man was even aware of it, since the other man’s gaze was fixed on Esper’s face, using it as a lifeline to stay conscious. This was the sight that greeted Mal and the others as they returned, spurred on by Zoe’s comm. message. They had left Dura and his crew to take care of the other ship and brought back the goods on the other mule. Leaving Bane and Karl to dispose of the bodies out of the door, Mal walked up to Jayne whose eyes turned to him with some difficulty. With Esper covered in all manner of blood, some of it probably not just his according to Zoe, she looked to be the one nursing a bullet wound, not Jayne. “Don’t pay you to lay around, Jayne.” “No, Mal,” Jayne said weakly. “You alright?” asked Mal. “Think so,” he answered, looking nervously down at his side. “Weren’t askin’ you. Esper?” Esper had almost finished and chanced a look up at Mal. “Shiny, Cap’n,” she answered perfectly composed. Mal almost flinched – the woman looked like she was at a gorram tea party. Mal looked back at Jayne, who had focussed back on her face intently, and rolled his eyes. Man was insane anyway and insane loves company. Hell this whole gorram ship was insane. “River!” he shouted into the comm. “On it, Cap’n,” she replied, firing up the engine. Esper cut the thread and washed down Jayne’s wound with more antiseptic. He barely moved except to tighten his lips. Karl came over and between them and with Mal’s help they managed to get Jayne to the Med Bay. “This ain’t your year for stayin’ uninjured,” muttered Karl, breathing heavily at Jayne’s bulk. “Next time you can go an’ get yourself shot on a stretcher cuz I ain’t carryin’ you,” hissed Mal through the exertion. Jayne settled on the couch with some pain. They helped him off with the remains of his t-shirt and Esper made sure none of the stitches had broken while they had moved him. ~ * ~ Jayne came awake with a jolt and then winced in pain. He shifted uncomfortably on the couch and then caught sight of Esper, his pain forgotten. In the dim blue glow of the Med Bay she looked like a spirit. She was slumped asleep in a chair with her head rested on the other Med Bay couch. There was no sign of the blood that had covered her before and he was glad. Her hair was neatly plaited and snaked exotically over the blanket and down the front of her, dangling over the edge of her knees. Jayne leaned his head back again and sighed. It was not supposed to be like this. He had rules; I was not supposed to kiss her! None of this would have happened if he had just followed the rules! But gorram it, she had been amazing in the cargo bay. Moved Wheeler so the short one was in Abe’s line of fire and took him out without flinching and she done it to save him. The only other woman he had ever seen that cool was Zoe and she was a seasoned soldier. “You look like you’re thinkin’ on something real thorny,” Esper whispered, placing the blanket on the other couch as she stood up. She picked up his hand and held it. Jayne felt the warmth of her touch flow through his body. “You coulda bin killed,” he said, his voice thick with emotion. Esper looked down at his hand and the lifted it up to kiss. “You nearly were,” she insisted. “Why’d you do it?” “I ain’t losin’ no one else I – I’m fond of. ‘Sides,” she smiled, “It ain’t the first time I’ve had to deal with troublemakers.” That got a smile at least, but with Jayne’s mind in such turmoil it did not last long. “I ain’t worth the trouble, Esper.” He tried to look away from her gaze but Esper pulled his chin around. “You got that the wrong way around. It’s me who isn’t worth the trouble.” “Now you’re jus’ spoutin’ nonsense,” argued Jayne. Esper looked, her green eyes boring into him making Jayne feel decidedly light-headed. “Then we both should stop doin’ that.” Jayne let out a frustrated breath and Esper placed her hand on his bare chest to calm him. “You write to your mother?” she asked. Jayne was confused by the sudden change in subject but answered her. “Yes, but not always regularly.” “Will you write to me when – if Abe an’ I get the job on the Rosalyn?” Jayne relaxed and nodded. “Even if you don’t get the job, I’ll write. You’ll write me? – Some of them poem lines as well?” Esper’s eyes widened in surprise. “You like poetry?” she asked, trying her best not to sound shocked, but failing. Jayne shrugged feeling a little self conscious. “Some of the stuff Abe wrote down is real shiny. Reminds me of when my parents used to make us go to church on Sunday, but without all the preaching guilt. I could stand me to hear some more – and I wanna know how you fare.” Esper trailed her hand past his side and down his leg and up again as she walked around the end of the couch, to his uninjured side. It felt awful good but he was in no condition to respond. “You promise me something?” he asked, coming to a decision. “Anything.” Jayne swallowed and Esper could see that something was on his mind. “You find yourself another troublemaker, you let me know. Don’t keep me hangin’.” Esper leaned in barely an inch from Jayne’s face. Her words cracked with emotion as she finally allowed herself a few tears of relief that he was going to be alright. “I thought I was the inexperienced one?” she began, and when Jayne opened his mouth to talk she kissed him to silence, before speaking again. “Ain’t nobody more of a troublemaker than you, Jayne Cobb.” ~ * ~ Mal had wanted to talk to River about how she had missed those two men coming aboard his ship. But as soon as they had broke atmo she had asked Bane to come and take over for her. He looked at the wave logs and his suspicions were confirmed. She had been waving the Rosalyn again. He had no idea if River was in love or lust, from the way she had been acting lately, but it sure affected her ability to see things coming. That was not good news for any of them, aside from the fact that Jayne had almost been killed. And suddenly he had two passengers who could handle themselves in a gun fight. Very well in fact. “You think Jayne’s in love?” said Bane. “What?” said Mal. “Way he was lookin’ at Esper. Think he’s in love?” “Look to your own, Bane. Don’t be interferin’,” said Mal, sighing. “Like he don’t interfere with us,” Bane chuckled. Mal was not seeing the funny side and wanted to change the subject. “When you reckon on gettin’ Monty’s order done?” She took the hint. “Well now the weddin’s over an’ our passengers don’t mind the illegal stuff, I can get right on it.” She paused, thinking, “Prob’ly a couple of weeks at full burn,” she chuckled at the analogy, “But realistically I reckon three to four. It’s a big order.” “No need to kill yourself. Three to four weeks is fine. We gotta get rid of that leather first.” “Bin thinkin’ on that, Cap’n. Might be they could use some of it on Haven an’ we ain’t been there for a while.” Mal thought about that. “Would be on our way to Newhall as well,” he concluded and Bane nodded. “Set a course, an’ put in a wave to your brother down to my bunk – I’ve something else to talk to him about.” Bane thought it was a strange request as it was usually only her who talked to Tony. Probably some Captain-y thing.

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Monday, November 12, 2007 3:34 AM

HERMITSREST


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