Shying Away--Part 5
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More about Jayne, Jayne, Jayne and Shy the red-haired arm-wrestling ex-whore. Adult language and situations.


When they woke again, it was what passed for morning in an unbroken long run in The Black. Jayne’s sleep had remained unquiet; he couldn’t remember any of what disturbed his rest after he and Shy had fallen back to sleep, but judging by the circles under Shy’s eyes, she hadn’t fared much better.

Jayne looked her over critically. “Woman,” he finally observed, “You look like hell.” And the damned thing was, the thing Jayne couldn’t have explained even at gunpoint, the sight of her mussed hair and weary eyes still made him every bit as hard as an honest apology was.

“Feel like it, too,” she yawned, and then shoved at him with one playful arm. “You’re looking pretty slagged yourself, pirate.”

Jayne frowned down at himself. “That so?”

“It is.” She looked him up and down carefully and then met his eyes evenly. “All sorts of hunted and desperado-like, like Feds were chasing you in your sleep.” After a long look, when he said nothing at all, Shy sighed and raised her hands, began working her fingers through the tangles in her hair, setting the pictures on her skin into smooth motion; “Works for you, though,” she murmured behind her hair.

Jayne was captivated, transfixed by the sight, once again. He watched as long as he could stand it and then his fingers joined hers, working through the cool, heavy strands until her hands fell to resting on his forearms. Shy closed her eyes. “If you were thinking of doing anything else today, you ought to stop that right now.” Turning her head, she smiled against the palm of his hand.

Jayne watched that hand like it belonged to someone else, disentangling itself from her hair, sliding along the long smooth length of the line of her throat, her shoulder, her waist, over birds and stars and sailing ships and landscapes and phrases in alphabets he couldn’t read, all of them vivid shades of every color he’d ever seen or imagined. Jayne brushed his fingertips lightly over the pictures, fascinated by how some of the inks raised her skin a little--black and the reds, mostly. A woman whose body he could read blindfolded; no way that could ever get old.

Things almost got complicated after that until they headed together for the ship’s shower to kill two birds with one stone, hands all over each other.

************************** As he and Shy neared the mess galley it became plain that they were all there ahead of them: Mal, Zoe, Wash, Kaylee, the shepherd and the Tams. When Shy's eyes found River she set her jaw and turned on her heel right there in the hallway, casting words over her shoulder. "I’m not hungry, pirate. You go on--I’ll meet up with you later."

He barely caught her arm as she started away, and pulled her to a stop. "Come on, now. That's just foolish talk."

"Don't want any trouble." She turned to stone in his hand, she went so tense, so cold. Shy smiled at him, but there was nothing pleasant in the look. "And I'm not going in there."

Jayne was torn between letting go of her and just hoisting her over his shoulder to put a stop to the nonsense; he was that damn hungry. But it was Kaylee who took matters into hand, looking up from her plate and spotting them there. She smiled as sweet as only Kaylee could, and waved the hand not holding her fork. “Shy! Jayne! Come sit--there’s room!”

“Well?” Jayne kept his voice low, just enough that Shy could hear it. “You still going to run?”

Shy swore at him beneath her breath, squared her shoulders, raised her chin like she was going into a fight, and replied, “Let’s go.”

The conversation they’d interrupted picked itself up again once they were seated; at least there was eats on the table, the wannabe bread and something that almost resembled scrambled eggs. Jayne couldn’t exactly place what it most tasted like, but if he put enough pepper on it, it went down easy enough.

Things were uneventful mostly, until River stood up. Shy tensed up so hard Jayne could feel her stiffen from a foot away, but the crazy girl was only reaching for the bowl full of egg-type stuff. As she spooned some onto her plate her eyes met Jayne's across the table, somber and dark. "The chicken came first; the rest is all propaganda,” she told him. “I need the pepper."

Jayne blinked and slid the pepper shaker across the table at her--what else was he going to do? Little Miss Crazy caught it without looking away from him; that was downright unsettling. Still, Jayne supposed it wasn't exactly threatening, so he bent his head to his breakfast.

And then she had to go and fix that gaze on Shy.

"Eat up, sunshine," the girl smiled across the table at her, and gorram if it wasn't suddenly a beautiful thing to behold, River Tam’s smile without any crazy in it at all, her voice taking on a higher, lighter sound than Jayne could recall ever hearing come out of her, ever. Why the gorram hell it made Shy freeze, her fork halfway to her mouth, and all the natural color come right out of her, he hadn't a drunkard's guess. "Strong bones don't build themselves, you know."

Shy gagged and dropped her fork. Swallowing hard, she wiped her mouth and stood so fast she'd have knocked her chair over if Jayne hadn't reached over and caught it. "Excuse me," she told the tabletop, her eyes huge, wide and terrified like she expected to see those Reavers in Jayne's dreams come hot after her any moment, and began to walk quickly out of the galley.

“No.” Mal’s voice made her pause mid-stride, and the sound of his chair pushing back from the table was loud in the sudden quiet as Mal stood up. “And just so’s we’re clear here, that’s a telling thing, Shy, not an asking thing.” And while Mal did not raise his voice beyond polite, even Shy heard the cutting edges of the words and knew them for what they were. She stopped in her tracks and glanced back uneasily over her shoulder.

Jayne sure as hell knew the tone. He’d said he’d look out for Shy so he was rising to his feet to go to her when River leaned further across the table and reached for him. Jayne forced himself not to recoil or slap her away since her hand didn't have a butcher's knife in it this time, but it was harder than he cared to admit even to himself. But the girl simply patted his hand. "Don't fret, dear," she soothed him in that same high, gentle voice, "She's just been a little sensitive since she killed me. That's all."

Shy had turned around, was halfway back to the table until River’s words fetched her up in the galley doorway, a hand on either side of the door. There she balked, braced herself against walking through. “What are you?” She whispered in a voice that reminded Jayne of dead fallen leaves skittering through the stubble of a winter field, her eyes dark and wide. And he’d had seen enough gut-shot men to recognize the grey sickness that changed her face, the pained hunch that made her shoulders and spine collapse in towards her chest and belly way too late to stop the bullet. “What the hell are you?”

She turned her head until her huge eyes found Mal, and breathed, “I’m sorry--I can’t. I… can’t.” And without another word she turned, broke and ran.

Then everyone began to talk at once.

Sit down, River. Please. Just sit down. Gorram it, Mal. Let her be already! Moonbrain talking craziness again--can’t you shut her up? Simon--what’s she mean? Shy killed someone? Shy? River, honey, let’s just sit down again, okay?

A little quiet would be nice.

So she killed someone. Who the hell hasn’t? No offense, Kaylee. None taken. But Shy?

“I said a little quiet would be nice!” Mal’s voice, raised this time, cut through the furor like an Alliance swiftboat through deep space. Silence settled around the table. “Better,” Mal nodded. Turning to Jayne, the captain fixed him with an unblinking stare. “Any light to shed here, Jayne?”

Jayne shrugged. “I got nothing.”

“Then go find some. I’m weary of a show with my dinner every damn time we all sit down.”

“Gorram it,” Jayne muttered, slamming back his chair. But truth told, he was grateful for Mal’s dismissal—his last view of Shy, she’d looked positively unhinged and his gut gnawed on the fact like a rat on an old dry bone.

She was his woman, after all. For a couple more days, anyhow.

Without a backward glance, he strode out of the galley. ******************** Jayne knocked on Shy’s door, but there was no answer so he pounded on it.

Finally he heard something: “Go away.”

Few things Jayne knew of could make a man feel a for-certain dumbass like trying to conversate with a woman in two different rooms with a closed door in between. “Gorram it, Shy, open the rutting door.”

“Not this time, pirate.” Ta da me, but her voice had a chill in it strong as midwinter. “Tell the captain I’ll just stay in here until Strand. Won’t cause no trouble.”

“Come out and tell him yourself.” Jayne frowned harder, like maybe the door would open on its own if it knew he was pissed at it. “I ain’t your gorram runner.”

That definitely got a response. He could hear her swearing at him as her voice neared the door a split second before it was slid open so hard and fast it rattled in its frame. And sure enough, there she was on the other side of it, blood-colored hair wild and green eyes even wilder. “I’m done with this shit, Jayne,” she said very distinctly. “That isn’t any human child in there.”

He considered that a moment and shook his head. “You’re tellin’ the wrong damn person, here.”

Shy’s eyes went flat and dark at that, and damned if she didn’t try to shut the door shut right there in his face. Jayne caught it before it went far; he was still bigger. “Aw, hell no.”

Checking first to make sure she wasn’t armed, he pushed right past her into her bunk. Glancing quick at shelf and night table to make sure both her pistols were present and accounted for, Jayne crossed his arms over his chest and sat down on her bed to wait.

By the look on her face as she stared at him from where she stood to one side of the door and vibrating with an anger he could almost smell on her, Jayne figured if she’d had a knife, it just might be stuck hilt-deep in some part of him right about now. But she didn’t, so he just stared back and waited. She wasn’t the only gorram one in the room had a card face, damn it, even if hers was the better.

Amazingly, Shy blinked first. Shaking her head, she slammed the door closed again. But not so hard as she’d flung it open--that was something, he supposed. Hair snapping and flying like it was mad at him too, Shy stomped over and sat down on the bed as far away as she could get from him.

“Hundan,” she snarled at him.

Jayne shrugged and gave it right back. “Huli jing.”

Her eyebrows rose at that and her eyes blazed so high with green fire that Jayne dropped his gaze to watch her hands in case she swung at him or went for a gun--she looked that pissed. When she didn’t do either, he figured she probably couldn’t get more angry so he might as well ask. He was mighty curious. “What’s the moonbrain talking about, anyway? Who’d you kill that has you so befrazzled?”

The fire drained out of Shy’s eyes immediately, leaving them dark and wide, and the fight seeped right away from her, leaving her so still and grey beneath the riot of colors painted on her that Jayne figured now he knew what she’d look like, dead, and that gorram getting-familiar pain shot hard and fast through his chest. Shy looked down at her hands a long, long while and then asked without raising her head, her voice thin and washed-out as an old scrap of curtain blowing in the busted-out window of an abandoned house, “Would you fetch that man of god for me, pirate?”

He didn’t argue with her, not when she raised her eyes full of tears to him and asked again, biting her lip until it bled a little to keep her voice steady. Instead Jayne took her hand, squeezed it a long moment, and then got up to look for Shepherd Book. *************************** It wasn’t a chore to find him, as the shepherd was coming up the way towards Shy’s bunk just as Jayne was leaving it.

Jayne stopped in the middle of the way and crossed his arms over his chest, stood there looking as mean as he knew how. “What are you up to, preacher?”

Book didn’t look intimidated in the least. “I wanted to see if I could be of help to her.” He crossed his arms over his chest too, book in hand, and waited.

They stared each other down until Jayne glanced down at the floor between his boots. “Well, good,” he muttered before looking back up into Book’s face. “’Cause she wants to see you.”

The shepherd’s eyes grew darker, and he nodded, turned to go. But Jayne caught him by an arm and held him back. “You go easy on her, Shepherd. She’s in a rough way. If you… I’ll…” Jayne let the threat dangle since he had no words big enough to frame what he was trying to say.

Book measured him a long moment, and then the man smiled like he’d just got wind of a good secret. “You can stand down, Jayne,” his voice and eyes were kind even as he slipped his arm out of Jayne’s grasp, easy as that. “I wouldn’t hurt Shy.” And with that he turned and walked down the hall.

Jayne watched after him, feeling dream-blood spill out of a hole in his chest that didn’t exist, and then he had an idea. Considering a moment, Jayne turned on his heel and walked away fast. ************************* He found her tucked away in the corner of the gangway stairs above the cargo bay, apparently having a deep conversation with the ends of a handful of her hair.

“Hey, there, Little Sis,” Jayne pitched his voice low, as friendly as he could, and approached with the same slow caution he’d use walking up on a fly-mad bull. “Now I know you and I ain’t been the shiniest of friends, but good ol’ Jayne has a question on his mind maybe you can--"

River interrupted him without looking up from the ends of her hair she ruffled with her spare hand. “He won’t hurt her. She wants to say it.” She paused, and now she looked away, directly into the blank stairwell wall beside her. After a moment she turned back to Jayne. “She’s saying it now.”

Jayne sat down a few steps below her. “Saying what?”

“I’m not your sister.” Her eyes darkened, her voice turned accusatory and rose. “We aren’t related at all!” She spoke loud enough that Jayne shushed her and looked guiltily down the stairs, listening for anyone who might have heard. That’s all he needed, Mal to come running, thinking something unwholesome was going on. But luckily, there were no footfalls, and River turned her attention back to her handful of hair. “No. I can’t talk to him,” she said to it, like she was telling a secret. “He has a hole in his chest.”

With a surge of dread, Jayne looked down at himself, felt his chest but there was no wound, no blood, nothing at all; his breath left him in a rush of relief.

“Gorram moonbrain,” he muttered to himself as he rose to his feet again.

It was a stupid idea anyway. *************************


Tuesday, December 18, 2007 9:14 PM


Ooooh, more; more!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007 10:55 PM


All manner of tense ... so what happens next?

Thursday, February 7, 2008 9:50 PM


Okay I'm starting to get a sense of what the deal is I think, and if I'm right, then you have crafted one heck of a story. Well, even if I'm wrong, it's one heck of a story. I can't wait for more! More, I say! MORE!!!!!


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