Sign Up | Log In
BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Repost of Long Road Home
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 933 RATING: 0 SERIES: FIREFLY
Long Road Home – Chapter One
Author owns none of the rights to Firefly, Serenity, nor any related items. Receives no money for his work, just the fun of flying :)
“Well, whadya think?” Mal asked his assembled crew, smiling like a cat that had ate a canary.
It had been six months since the events at the Zhang Mansion. Life had changed a great deal for the crew of the Firefly known as Serenity.
Mal had divided the crew, for one thing, and hired two new hands. He led one crew, consisting of himself, Kaylee, and Inara, who had become a fine pilot, and a new hand named Greggs. Zoe led the other crew, with Jayne, River, and a new engineer named Hollins, whom Kaylee had spent the last four months training.
Doing so had allowed them to keep Serenity moving back and forth between Astra and Argo as constantly as maintenance needs would allow, while still giving each crew some downtime. That meant less money, of course, but no one complained.
Now, Mal had decided to take the chance of buying a new ship. The profits from the regular runs were good, and his contract allowed him first refusal on any available run, if his ship was ready. When he’d approached George Harwell about his plans, the older man had been readily agreeable to extending that same deal to two ships.
Some of the other transports grumbled at that, but Harwell refused to be budged. Malcolm Reynolds and his crew had practically saved Guilford’s and Company, moving cargo for them when no one else would, risking their lives to do it. And George Harwell was a man who paid his debts.
“What do we think o’ what?” Jayne asked. He was sitting in a large chair in the house Mal maintained near the plant. River was snuggled in his lap, as usual. Kaylee sat on the sofa across from them, though without Simon. The young doctor no longer made transport runs, having accepted a position at Guilford’s, in the infirmary. Not only did he provide medical treatment for the employees, but people for miles around visited him for everything from routine healthcare to emergency surgery.
“About the ship,” Mal replied, rolling his eyes. Mal had long since passed the point where he was wary of Jayne, but sometimes he did still get on Mal’s nerves.
“I don’t see a ship, Cap’n,” Jayne told him. River almost giggled, but managed to choke it back. She and Jayne had been nearly inseparable since the night he’d returned from destroying Jian Zhang’s mansion, with Zhang still inside.
“Well, maybe if your face wasn’t full of a certain pilot, you could,” Mal retorted, walking over to the couple and handing them a picture of a ship taken from the cortex.
“Looks like Serenity, Captain Daddy,” River stated. Jayne grunted his agreement.
“Well, there’s a reason for that,” Mal informed his little pilot. “It’s identical to our Serenity, save for lil’ Kaylee own modifications,” he smiled at the mechanic. “I’m fixin’ to buy her, and add her to the work detail.” Mal informed them proudly.
“So both crew’s will be working again, regular,” Jayne stated.
“Yep,” Mal nodded happily. “Not like we were at first, but figure on two, three days ‘tween trips, ‘stead o’ six or seven.”
“Long as me and River stay on the same crew, I don’t care,” Jayne shrugged, and River kissed him lightly on the cheek.
“Same for me, Captain Daddy,” River giggled. Kaylee, though, was frowning. Since Simon wasn’t on ship anymore, she was separated from him as much as a week at a time. Only the fact that she usually had nearly a full week with him made that bearable, so far as she was concerned.
“Something bothering you, Kaylee?” Mal asked.
“No, well, yes,” Kaylee stammered. “I done got used to having me some time off, Cap’n,” she admitted, looking at her hands. “And with Simon not flying no more, well. . .” she trailed off. Mal smiled.
“Done thought about that,” he told her proudly. “Seems to me, with two ships, I’m going to need a chief mechanic. I figured you could train another engineer, like Hollins, then stay groundside all the time, if ya want. Still take the trip whenever ya want, o’ course. And have to when we’re short one of the regular engineers.”
“Oh, Cap’n, that sounds wonderful!” Kaylee jumped up and hugged Mal tightly, kissing him on the cheek. Inara smiled at Kaylee’s open enthusiasm. With Kaylee planet side all the time, Simon wouldn’t be able to avoid the impending marriage discussion for much longer. She didn’t think Simon was adverse to marrying Kaylee, in fact quite the opposite. He just wanted things done ‘properly’. At that thought she glanced at the couple across from her.
At no time, before a year ago, would she have ever dreamed of seeing River Tam in a romantic relationship with Jayne Cobb. They was as much difference in their backgrounds as there were in their size. River was five feet tall at the most generous. She might weigh all of one hundred pounds if she wore her winter clothing, and was soaking wet before stepping on the scales.
Jayne, on the other hand, at six foot four, weighed at least two hundred fifty pounds, every ounce of it solid muscle. River was a core raised genius, while Jayne was a half-breed Yaquay from a rim moon Inara had never heard of before Jayne. His family killed when he was fourteen, Jayne had not received much in the way of education.
Inara was helping him with that, and so was River. But the gap between them was still there, and would always be so.
Yet, the two of them seemed to fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Each one’s weakness offset by the other’s strengths. They often sat together in complete silence, with no need for talk between them. She would swear at times that Jayne was as much reader as River was, as they seemed to share more with looks than she and Mal often could with words.
“So when will this new ship be here?” Jayne asked. Mal’s face faltered a little. Here was the sticker. Inara tried and failed to hide a smirk. She’d warned him.
“Well, thing is,” Mal started, “that is, being this is a used ship, o’ course, and not really knowing. . .”
“Captain Daddy wants the three of us to go look at the ship, and fly it home,” River finished for him, almost smiling. Almost.
“What?” Kaylee’s head snapped up. “Cap’n that’s. . .that could take a month,” she wailed.
“I know, Kaylee, I do,” Mal soothed. “Thing is, mei-mei, I need you to take a look at the engines. They may not be worth anything. And I’ll need you to gather what parts you think we’ll be like to need and be hard to find out here. River can pilot the ship back, and Jayne. . .well, Jayne will make sure all that happens with a minimum of fuss.”
In truth, he knew there was no way River would make the trip without Jayne, and he wasn’t overly keen on a month of Jayne without River around anyway.
“But, Simon can’t leave the hospital!” Kaylee objected.
“I know, mei-mei,” Mal nodded. “But I need you to do this. You know I can’t do near the job you can in seeing if the ship is even worth buying. It’s one thing to see it on the cortex. ‘Nother to see it up close.”
“Cap’n you know I’d do near anything for you,” Kaylee nearly sniffled. “But I don’t think. . .I don’t wanna go a month without Simon!”
“Kaylee, I know it’s hard to be away,” Mal soothed. “But think of the future! All that time on the ground. You can be Simon’s nurse. I mean, when you ain’t keeping my ships fit to fly.”
“Guess we’ll have to start calling you ‘Commodore’, now, ‘stead o’ plain ole Captain, huh,” Jayne observed. Mal glared at him.
“Was just sayin’,” Jayne muttered. “Meant it as a compliment.” Mal sighed.
“Kaylee, please?” he begged. Kaylee looked at him, sniffling.
“I want a big weddin’,” she demanded suddenly. Mal smiled.
“See to it myself,” he grinned. The grin faltered at Kaylee’s look. “I’ll have Inara see to it, I meant.” He turned in panic to his beautiful ex-Companion. “Right? Honey?” Inara toyed with him for a minute, delighting in his distress. Then smiled.
“Of course, dear,” and Mal winced. He was in for it later. Kaylee though hooped aloud, and ran to hug Inara.
“Oh, ‘Nara, I just know it’ll be wonderful, with you plannin’ it. I mean,” she hastened to add, “soon’s Simon get’s round to askin’ me.”
“He will,” River assured her. “Has to observe proprieties first. Drilled into him since birth. Proper courtship time before engagement, proper engagement time before nuptials.”
“Proper this, and proper that,” Kaylee muttered, returning to her seat with a dejected ‘plop’. “If he was anymore proper we’d never even have. . .”
“I can’t be hearin’ that!” Mal objected.
“Hey, I could listen,” Jayne laughed, then ‘oofed’ as River elbowed him.
“Just kiddin’,” he assured her with a kiss.
“You should not be teasing,” she informed him. “Especially when you, yourself insist on. . .” she had to stop when Jayne’s hand covered her mouth.
“Cap’n done said he can’t be hearin’ that,” he admonished. She pried his hand away.
“There is nothing to hear about, as yet, since you persist in these old fashioned ideas that we cannot. . .” Jayne’s hand once again clamped to her mouth.
“Private stuff, baby girl,” he said. She giggled, enjoying his discomfort. No one would have ever suspected that Jayne would be so. . .proper. But he was steadily weakening, and she was patient.
Maybe a month in the black would be the straw that broke him.
Simon Tam looked up as he heard the door to the infirmary open. He smiled broadly as Kaylee walkd in, but the smile faltered some at the look on her face.
“Kaylee? Is something wrong?” he asked. Things had been going so well these past months that he had begun to dread that it would have to end.
“We need to talk, Simon,” Kaylee said, and Simon’s heart plummeted. ‘We need to talk’ were the four most feared words in any relationship.
“Okay,” he nodded, pulling out a chair for her. She sat down.
“Cap’n aims to buy another ship,” she said without preamble. “‘Nother Firefly.”
“Something wrong with Serenity?” he asked. He knew how much the ship meant to her.
“No,” Kaylee shook her head. “He just want’s to expand, s’all. But, thing is, he wants me to go and check over the new ship, make sure it’s everything the dealers says, and make sure it gets back here.” Simon frowned as understanding dawned.
“Where, exactly, is this dealer?” he asked, dreading the answer.
“Persephone,” she all but wailed. “Me, River, and Jayne’ll take a transport out, then, if the ship is good, fly her back.”
“That. . .Kaylee that could take weeks!” Simon exclaimed.
“I know,” Kaylee replied miserably. “But, Cap’n says once I can train a new engineer, then I can stay on the ground all I want, be his chief mechanic.”
“Well, that’s something,” he agreed reluctantly. “It would be nice if you were here with me all the time, or at least most of the time.”
“I thought that, too,” she nodded. “If you don’t want me to go, though, I won’t.”
“Of course I don’t want you to go,” he said at once. “But, it is your job, and I don’t feel like I can make this decision for you, Kaylee. And it’s not like you’re having to choose between me and the ship. I don’t. . .I can’t imagine being weeks without you, when five or six days is torture. But, if Mal was serious. . .Kaylee, being planet side most of the time could, well, it could make a lot of difference for us. We could think more about. . .well about the future,” he finished lamely.
“So it’s okay with you? If I go, I mean?” Kaylee asked.
“It’s never okay with me for you to go anywhere if I’m not going,” he smiled. “But I can’t keep you locked away in a closet, Kaylee Frye. You’re gifted with engines in a way few people are. If anyone can bring Mal’s new ship home, it’s you.”
Kaylee beamed at his praise. She threw her arms around him, kissing him soundly.
“You’re a good man, Simon Tam,” she told him. “Even if you are too proper.”
“What’s in that pretty head o’ yours?” Jayne asked. He and River were packing for their trip. Although Jayne steadfastly refused to, and he put it, ‘seal the deal’, before marriage, the two still slept together, and enjoyed each other in other ways.
“Thinking about the trip,” River told him. “Trying to envision how it will go.”
“You go some kinda warning, or somethin’?” he asked warily. His little woman often had dreams and visions of future events.
“Or something,” she nodded. “Unsure what it is, as yet. Ebbs and flows, no pattern to discern. Jumbled.”
“Think we ought not go?” he asked, voice filling with concern. River smiled to herself. Jayne would think nothing of placing himself in danger, yet balk at anything that might endanger his ‘baby girl’. It was one of the things she so desperately loved about him.
“No, we must go,” she answered. “There is a crossroads, somewhere, and we must be there when paths cross. Have to let it play out. See what happens.” Jayne grunted, not intending to argue. Instead he walked over to the cabinet where he kept his guns, and opened it wide.
“Is this a Vera kinda problem?” he asked seriously. He meant for no harm to come to his little blessing. Ever.
Long Road Home – Chapter Two
Author owns none of these characters or the settings in which they are portrayed, makes no money for his efforts. Strictly a labor of love :)
The little crew had to take Serenity to Astra on order to board their transport ship. Mal had at least been able to book them on a small liner going direct to Persephone. Travel time would be thirteen days, if all went well. A happy state of affairs that seldom occurred for the family of Serenity.
Simon had accompanied them, unwilling to let Kaylee depart without his being there to say goodbye. As they waited for word to board, he found time for a wuick word with Jayne.
“Jayne, I know I don’t have to say this,” Simon began.
“Watch after like she was my own, Simon,” Jayne assured the smaller man. “Can’t imagine watchin’ River get on a ship like this, without me. Put your mind easy. I’ll make sure nothin’ happens to her, ‘less’en the Lord just wills it.”
Simon nodded. He really had known he didn’t have to say it. There had been a time when Simon had hated Jayne. When would have rather had his eyes plucked out than see the former merc with his sister. But those days were long passed. His trust for Jayne, these days, literally knew no limits.
Jayne clapped Simon softly on the back, and moved to where River stood waiting for him. Simon went to Kaylee. Her eyes were wet with tears.
“I’ll miss you so much,” she whispered, holding him tightly.
“Already miss you, bao bei,” he whispered back. They had never been separated like this. It was more difficult than he could have imagined.
“We’ll be back in a few weeks,” Kaylee said in what she hoped was a comforting voice. “We’ll have plenty of time to catch up.”
“Yes, we will,” he nodded. “We’ll have the rest of our lives,” he added. He looked to River, who was glaring at him. Simon sighed, and suddenly dropped to one knee. Kaylee gasped as Simon pulled a small box from his pocket.
“I meant this to be in a more romantic setting,” he told her quietly, “but I don’t think it can wait. Kaywinnet Lee Frye, will you marry me?” Kaylee shrieked in joy, throwing herself on Simon with a furor that threatened to topple the couple into the floor. She smothered him with kisses, crying tears of happiness now, rather than gloom.
“Yes, Simon Tam,” she breathed huskily, looking him in the eye. “I will marry you!” They kissed again, slowly this time, oblivious to the sounds of cheering and clapping around them. As they begin to sink in, Simon’s properness kicked into full swing, and he rose, pulling a jubilant Kaylee with him. River ran to hug Kaylee, followed closely by Inara. Mal and Jayne likewise converged on Simon.
“Good one, Doc,” Jayne nodded, his hand engulfing Simon’s.
“Glad to see you make her an honest woman, son,” Mal smiled. He then glared up at Jayne. “Might well do to follow his example.”
“Said the pot to the kettle,” Jayne promptly shot back, grinning. Mal grinned as well, acknowledging the hit. He and Inara had still not made it to that point.
“Just make sure she comes back, Jayne,” Simon said, grinning hugely. Jayne nodded, a silent promise. He then walked over and embraced Kaylee, whispering his congratulations in her ear.
“You should do something about you and River, Jayne,” Kaylee whispered back.
“Thinking on it,” he assured her. River blushes, knowing what they were thinking, but remained silent. Before much else could be said, the announcement to board came over the public address.
“Time to go,” Mal ordred. The three travelers took their walk on bags in hand, and said their final goodbyes, Simon and Kaylee hugging and kissing all the way to the terminal. There they were reluctantly prised apart by Mal, pointing out that the ship could launch and them still ‘locked together’. Kaylee glared at him, then gave Simon a final peck, before turning to follow Jayne and River.
Simon watcher her go, then turned away. He couldn’t bear to watch the ship depart.
Once on board, the trio were surprised to find that the ship was actually very comfortable. Jayne and River occupied one room of a small suite, while Kaylee had the other. Jayne was thankful for that, having worried over Kaylee being in a separate room. He took his promise to Simon seriously.
“This is very nice,” River said, bouncing up and down on the bed. “We should try it out,” she added with a wicked grin.
“You’d tempt a saint, baby girl,” he told her with a groan.
“You’re not a saint, Sean,” she told him, using his real name. It was something she rarely did, and only in private. He gave her a mock glare, but she knew he wasn’t mad.
“No, I ain’t,” he agreed, “but I ain’t changin’ my mind, either.” River growled in frustration, but knew he meant it. But she was determined that he would change his mind, and soon. She wasn’t that patient, after all.
The three travelers made their way to the dining room a few minutes before dinner, and took a table near the doorway. Kaylee was still alternating between depression over her long separation from Simon, and joy over her recent engagement.
River tried to console and congratulate her at the same time.
“Just think of the reunion you have to look forward too,” she smiled, taking Kaylee’s hand and giving it a squeeze.
“I know,” Kaylee nodded with a half smile. “But it’s such a long trip.”
“Be over ‘fore ya know it,” Jayne observed. “This is the longest part, right here. On the way back we’ll be able to stay busy, working, and the trip will be over and done with in a flash.” Kaylee smiled a bit brighter at Jayne for that.
“You’re right,” she nodded. “And I’m kinda lookin’ forward to seein’ the new girl, too. Wonder what the Cap’n’ll name her?”
“How about New Hope’?” Inara asked, as she and Mal worked to get the dining room ready for dinner. Mal had leased a large house just a mile from Guilford’s, and the entire crew, sans the new hands who had places of their own, lived there.
“Nah,” Mal shook his head. “Too mushy. Ship’s gotta have a strong name.”
“Could call it Shade,” she snickered. Mal’s face reddened at that.
“If I never hear that name again, it’s too soon,” he muttered. “I tell ya, ‘Nara, if you had seen him, you’d know what I mean. If I hadn’t known for sure it was Jayne, I’d a swore it was his evil twin or somethin’. It wasn’t just that eerie-ass voice o’ his neither. I swear his eyes were alive with violence.” Mal shuddered at the memory.
“Well, he seems to be back to normal, now,” Inara commented.
“He is. And I don’t know which is worse, the fact that he can change like that,” Mal snapped his fingers, “or that I always know that streak of violence is lurking underneath that civil veneer he wears nowadays.”
“It’s not veneer, Mal,” Inara scolded. “Jayne had worked very hard over the last several months to re-make himself. And that effort was for you as well as River. He doesn’t want you to keep thinking of him as brainless hired muscle.”
“I don’t,” Mal assured her. “But now I have to think on him as a time bomb that’s like to go off with very little warning. Especially if some ugliness was to befall lil Albatross. I think he’d be like as not to go berserk. And I don’t think we could stop him,” he added.
“Well, River can take pretty good care of herself,” Inara reminded Mal, placing silverware around the plates Mal had just put around the table. “And with Jayne always hulking nearby, I think it’s unlikely that anyone would try and do her harm, anyway.”
“True,” he nodded. “Jayne can be a might intimidatin’ when he puts his mind to it.”
“Is that why you wanted him to go along to get the new boat?” Inara asked.
“Partly,” Mal admitted. “I needed Albatross to go, to fly it back, and I knew she wouldn’t go without him. But I also wanted someone there I could trust to make sure her and Kaylee was safe.”
“You realize you just talked about trusting Jayne Cobb with River and Kaylee, don’t you?” Inara grinned, her delicate eyebrows arching.
“I know,” he groaned. “Was a time I wouldn’t trust him outta my sight. But I have to admit, Jayne’s come a long way. Would give a penny or two to know what was in that letter Book left him.”
“Maybe he’ll tell us, one day,” Inara said. She, too, often wondered what was in that letter. It had sparked the beginning in the changes that Jayne had undergone in the last year and a half.
“Doubt it,” Mal said at once. “If he ever tells anyone, it’ll be River. I swear, he near on worships the ground she walks on.”
“Yes, he does,” Inara agreed thoughtfully. “And she’s the same about him. I don’t think either would do well if they lost the other.”
“Don’t even think like that,” Mal suppressed another shudder. “I already seen what Jayne can be like when ‘tross is just hurt. And Inara, Ami wasn’t kiddin’. Jayne is a killer. And he’s good at it.”
“Well, River always says that she and Jayne are well matched,” she teased. “And she is a trained assassin.”
“And I just loosed them on the ‘verse,” Mal sighed. “Let’s talk more about the new boat.”
“How about. . .Mal’s Pride?”
Long Road Home – Chapter Three
Author owns no rights to these character or the ‘verse they inhabit, and makes no money from his labors.
They were ten days into the voyage to Persephone when it happened. One minute everything was fine, and the next the ship was shuddering.
Jayne was instantly awake. He sat up so quickly that he had to grab River, who was sleeping atop him peacefully, lest she fall to the floor.
“Whasit?” she muttered, then her eyes opened wide as the ship shuddered again.
“We’re takin’ fire,” Jayne observed, getting out of bed before gently lowering River to the floor. Without need for words, the two dressed quickly, and started arming themselves. Before they were finished, Kaylee burst into their room, eyes wide with panic.
“What’s goin’ on?” she asked.
“Pirates, mebbe?” Jayne offered, checking that Vera was ready.
“Slavers,” River whispered, her mind ranging.
“Tah mah de,” Jayne muttered. “You two stay here, Dong ma? I’m gonna see if there’s any of the crew on this level, and find out what’s happ’nin’.”
“Jayne. . .” River started to object. Jayne stopped her with a kiss.
“Just wait for me here, baby girl,” he whispered. “Wouldn’t dream o’ leavin’ ya,” and with that he was gone.
As River watched him go, a tear sprung to her eye. Kaylee saw it, and hugged the smaller woman.
“Jayne’s good at takin’ care of hisself,” she tried to comfort River.
“Good at taking care of all of us,” River nodded. “Just worry for him.”
“Honey, that’s only natural,” Kaylee observed. “You really love that big ole gunman don’t you, sweetie.”
“More than anything in the ‘verse,” River nodded, hugging Kaylee back.
“Well, I been knowing Jayne Cobb a long time, honey,” Kaylee assured her. “And if there’s one thing I know, it’s this. Jayne loves you the same way.”
Jayne found a steward just forward of his suite, looking badly frightened, and holding rifle that Jayne was certain he’d never fired in his life. The man jumped when he saw Jayne, then calmed when he recognized him.
“What’s goin’ on?” Jayne demanded. Jayne’s identification showed him as the ‘Chief Security Officer’ for ‘Reynolds Shipping’. Thus the steward didn’t hesitate to answer.
“There is a pirate firing on the ship, Mister Cobb,” he replied nervously. “The Captain is trying to outrun him, but ordered all passengers to their compartments, and all hands to arm themselves to repair boarders.”
“I don’t think they’re pirates,” Jayne told him flatly. “I think they’re slavers.” The steward’s face paled at that.
“I need to see the Captain,” Jayne ignored the man’s fear. “Or at least talk to him. How do I make that happen?” The steward unclipped a small radio from his belt, and called the purser.
“What is it, Thomas,” a strained voice came back. “This isn’t the best time.”
“Mister Cobb, in suite 234? Wants to talk to the Captain, sir. He fears the ship firing on us may be slavers rather than pirates.”
“Is Cobb there with you?” the purser asked, his voice slightly more normal. Thomas handed the radio over to Jayne. He keyed it.
“This is Cobb.”
“Mister Cobb, the situation right now is that the ship firing on us claim to be pirates. The Captain is maintaining as much speed as possible while negotiating for the passengers’ safety. That’s standard in these areas.”
“Sir, I think you better advise your Captain that this area is a favorite trolling ground for slavers. Some of them are well organized, and large enough to try and take a ship this size.”
“We’ve contacted the Alliance, Mister Cobb,” the purser informed him. “They have a gunboat two hours away, already on it’s way to us.” The ship shuddered again from another near miss.
“I don’t think we got two hours, sir,” Jayne said through gritted teeth. “If we can’t out run them, the best bet is to dock with them, and try and keep the ships together. We can fight them on board if we have too, and they can’t destroy the liner with ship to ship weaponry, if we’re docked, without destroying themselves.”
The radio was silent for a moment, and Jayne had begun to think the purser had dismissed him.
“Thomas, escort Cobb forward. The Captain wants a word.”
“Y. . .Yes sir,” Thomas stammered into the radio.
“We’ll need to go to my cabin, first,” Jayne informed him. “I ain’t leaving my women here, alone.”
With River and Kaylee in tow, Jayne followed the slightly less nervous Thomas to the bridge. The Captain took in the sight of the giant man and tiny woman, both armed to the teeth.
“Mister Cobb, I don’t have time for games. I have a ship full of passengers in peril, and my purser tells me I should listen to you. You have one minute to make your case.”
“The ship firing on us is probably slavers, Captain,” Jayne spoke the way Inara had taught him. “They frequent this area on a regular basis, and several of them are well armed enough to threaten a liner this size. This is also their standard operating procedure. Act like typical pirates, demand to come aboard and rob the passengers, or extract ransom, and then seize the ship and it’s passengers and crew.”
“And you know this. . .how?” the Captain demanded.
“I’ve seen it before,” Jayne shrugged. “Last year we came through here, and answered a distress call from a small liner similar to this. The survivors told us what happened. They didn’t know the name of the ship, just what had happened.”
The Captain digested this for a minute. He looked at Jayne as if trying to gauge whether or not he was trustworthy.
“How do I know you aren’t with them?” he asked finally.
“If I was, you’d be dead,” Jayne pointed out flatly. This, more than anything, seemed to convince the Captain.
“I’m open to suggestions, Mister Cobb, but they’d better be fast. We can’t outrun them, and their demands are getting more. . .spirited.”
Tell them to use the main hatchway,” Jayne said at once. “The airlock’s frozen, damaged by their fire, whatever sounds good. Order your armed crew members to the main hatchway immediately. My. . . wife and I will assist them in repelling boarders.”
He felt River stiffen at that, but ignored it.
“Very well, Mister Cobb,” the Captain agreed. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”
“He does,” Kaylee assured the Captain cheerfully.
Jayne turned and left, dragging the still stuttering Thomas with him.
As they made their way down the passage, he looked at River.
“Wearin’ your armor?” She nodded.
“Yes, Zhang fu,” she smiled. He looked to Kaylee, who nodded likewise.
“Good girls,” he nodded, and Kaylee beamed, despite her fear. River snickered.
“Told Zhang fu I would not forget again.” Jayne shook his head. She would milk this for all it was worth.
When they got to the main hatch, Jayne started giving orders. Using the ship’s fixtures, they started to erect a barricade that would allow some cover, and keep the slavers penned up. As crewmen scurried to do that, Jayne looked at Kaylee.
“Mei-mei can you fix the hatch so that when they dock, it’ll lock us onto them, and they can’t get it open again.”
“Yep,” Kaylee replied confidently. “It’ll take me a few minutes, gotta rewire some stuff.”
“Well, get at it,” Jayne ordered. “We ain’t like to have too many minutes. And Kaylee?” The engineer turned back. “Shootin’ starts, I ‘spect you to be somewhere else, dong ma?”
“Count on it,” she nodded. “I’ll let you and the ‘Mrs’ take care o’ the shootin’,” she winked. Jayne couldn’t help but grin. As he turned, River was walking up to him.
“Have a good spot picked out, Zhang fu,” she informed him with a smile. “I will watch your back.”
“I’d rather be watchin’ yours,” he whispered into her ear, and the possessive rumble in his voice made her shiver. She stood on her tip toes, nibbling his ear lobe.
“No. More. Waiting.” she said softly, and then drew back to see his face. Jayne looked down at her for a moment, her eyes full of promise, and his resolve faltered. In that instant, River knew she had him.
“No more waiting,” he agreed. “Once this is over,” he added when she grinned that wicked grin he loved so much.
“Hold you to that, Zhang fu,” she warned, then whirled away, on her way to the hiding spot she had chosen.
Jayne had been right, they didn’t have too many minutes. Tiring of the chase, the pirates had sent their last warning shot near the engines. The liner had bucked violently, and lost considerable speed. Lights dimmed, came back on, then dimmed again.
“Kaylee!” Jayne shouted. “You done?”
“Got it, Jayne,” the engineer called in reply. “It’ll hold’em for a while.” Jayne turned to the purser. “I want your best man to take her to the engineering area, and stay with her. She’s a genius with machines, and might be a help to you.” The purser nodded and pointed at Thomas. “Not him,” Jayne rumbled. “Need him here,” he added to keep from mortifying the young man. Instead, the comment seemed to steel him, and he stopped his incessant shivering. That gave Jayne an idea.
“Listen up!” he called. “The ship that’s attacked us are probably slavers! You know what that means. But they ain’t used to a bunch like you, with guts enough to fight’em. They’re used to beatin’ on slaves what can’t fight back! So we’re gonna give’em, a taste, you hear me?”
The crew men cheered at that, and Jayne nodded. Seemed to steady a few of them, anyway. In his mind, though, Jayne was counting on himself, and his little assassin. Together they should be enough to keep the slavers from taking the ship. And Jayne knew he’d die before he let Kaylee or River be taken.
The sounds of and airlock clamping over the hatch rang through the room, and everyone settled in for the coming fight.
Jayne had been right. As soon as the hatch opened, fifteen heavily armed men raced into the ship, clearly expecting no one to oppose them, since they had ‘struck a deal’ with the Captain of the liner. Their job was simple. Weed out the strongest men and best looking women for the markets, take any children, and disable the ship. They’d done it countless times.
Just never when Jayne, River, and Kaylee were present.
Jayne had threatened to shoot anyone who fired before he did, and the threat worked. He waited for the last man to get clearly into the hatchway, and shot him dead. As soon as he fired, so did the twelve crewmen stationed around the barricade with him, and River. In seconds, the initial boarding crew was shot to doll rags. Jayne knew it was possible there were just as many left on the ship, but doubted it. Most slavers didn’t run to too many crew, as it tended to split the take to far.
When no one else appeared for first one minute, and then two, Jayne began to think maybe this was there was. Then he heard the sound of metal bouncing on metal.
“Grenade!” he shouted, and threw himself behind a nearby up turned table.
The grenade went off right in the midst of the barricade, killing four of the crewmen, and injuring two more rather badly. Jayne’s ears were ringing, but he was otherwise uninjured. As he shook his head to clear it, he could hear more slavers coming.
Okay, so they got a good sized crew after all, he thought. He heard the chug of River’s rifle behind him, and knew she was watching over him. His own guardian angel. He smiled at the thought, then rose from behind the table, Vera in hand.
Ten more slavers had come through the hatch, expecting the grenade to have done most of the work for them. In the noise, they hadn’t noticed that River’s silenced rifle had taken the two rearmost men down already. When the giant gunman loomed in front of them they hesitated for a second. Just a second. But it was enough.
Jayne had shot three of the remaining eight men before they could react. He ducked back behind his table as they returned fire. One bullet managed to penetrate the table, striking him in the chest, but his armor shrugged the depleted round off. Meanwhile River had taken down two more of the slavers. The purser managed to get to a sitting position and shot another between the eyes.
The remaining crewmen accounted for the other two between them, and silence reigned once again. Jayne shook himself again, trying to work out the soreness left from the impact of the bullet on his armor. In seconds River was beside him.
“Are you hurt?” she asked quietly, voice filled with concern. He shook his head, and offered her a weak grin. Her relief was evident, and he saw her fighting back tears. He was wrapping his arm around her shoulders when the ship gave a violent tug.
“They’re trying to break free!” the purser gasped. Jayne didn’t hesitate. With River right behind him, he headed for the hatch, and through it into the slaver vessel.
Kaylee felt the shudder and knew what was happening. She grabbed the security man who had escorted her down to the engine room.
“We need to get back!” she shouted. “The hatch won’t close the way I got it rigged! If they manage to tear loose, we’ll vent into the black!” The guard nodded, clearly alarmed, and they started back. Kaylee just hoped they made it in time.
Jayne made his way forward as fast as possible, slowing at each intersecting passageway to look for traps or ambushes. River pushed her mind forward, trying to find the remaining crew, but the minds of the slaves threatened to overwhelm her. She reached out carefully, taking hold of Jayne’s shirt, his contact helping her to steady herself.
Jayne looked down at her in concern, but she shook it off. She was fine, so long as he was near her.
They continued their way down the ship, coming at last to the bridge. Here, separated somewhat from the slaves, River was able to push onto the bridge.
“Three of them,” she whispered. “Anger, panic, flooding them. Want to get free, destroy the ship.” Jayne nodded, and pushed her gently away, stepping back from the bridge door. He looked at the mechanism, then to River who nodded. Ready.
Jayne lifted Vera and fired two rounds straight into the locking mechanism, then grabbed the door and heaved. It slid open, exposing the bridge behind it. One slaver was positioned to watch the door, and instantly pointed his gun at Jayne.
River leaned into the room over Jayne’s back and shot the gunman in the head. Before the others could react, she repeated the performance, and they were all down. She raced to the controls, and after a few seconds study, powered down the ship.
As the slave ship lost power, the buckling stopped. Jayne sat heavily onto the floor. River came over and knelt beside him.
“Are you okay?” she asked him quietly.
“Yeah, just worked up, that’s all,” he nodded. “Thought there for a minute that hundan had me.”
“Never let that happen to you, zhang fu,” River whispered. Before he could reply, they heard footsteps approaching. Both raised their weapons, but relaxed as the purser and two of him men came into view.
“Cobb, ma’am,” he nodded. “You two okay?”
“We are uninjured,” River assured him. “The ship is taken, though there may be other slavers on board. Also there are many slaves.”
“We’ll see to that ma’am,” the purser assured her. “Thank you. Both of you. If you hadn’t been along, then we’d either be dead, or locked into one of these cells.”
“Glad we could help,” Jayne nodded. He rose to his feet. He looked at River for a minute, then suddenly engulfed her in a crushing embrace.
“I love you, girl,” he said quietly but fiercely. He released her and stepped back. “Let’s get off the pile o’ go se.”
When the Alliance gunboat arrived, they took charge of the surviving slavers, as well as the slaves themselves. Jayne had told the Captain of the liner that he’d like his part in the incident kept quiet, as he and his wife were on their honeymoon, and he really didn’t want to be ensnared in a lot of paperwork. The Captain nodded in understanding, and informed the purser.
The crew were only too happy to co-operate, as it had been the big man and his wife that had saved them from being killed or taken as slaves. Kaylee had rewired the hatch before Jayne and River had even returned, so the three of them waited in their sweet while the Alliance conducted a cursory investigation. The ship was seized and declared salvage, which meant the crew would share in the prize money. Jayne grumbled a little at that, but River had something to take his mind off the money.
Jayne had showered and changed, and was reclining in a chair in their room when River walked in. She was wearing a filmy little blue. . .nothing, that revealed more than it concealed, and his eyes went one way while his mouth went another.
“Told you I would hold you to it, zhang fu,” she grinned wickedly. Jayne felt his mouth water.
“Made,” he whispered, taking in the view before him.
“That’s the idea,” River said, her voice husky and silky smooth at the same time. She walked over to him, straddling his hips in the chair, and kissed him soundly.
“What about Kaylee?” he managed to gasp in between kisses.
“Told her to stay in her room, like a good girl,” River muttered softly. “Told purser not to disturb us unless the ship caught fire,” she added, working her way down to his neck, where she continues kissing, and occasionally biting.
“I ain’t got no. . .” Jayne stammered between groans.
“Shot,” River assured him, never missing a beat. “Current and up to date. No danger of impregnation.” She stopped suddenly and looked him straight in the eyes.
“No more talking. No more waiting. No more excuses.” Her eyes were smoky with desire, and Jayne heard himself groan. She smiled, then, knowing she’d won.
Jayne stood, holding her to him, her legs wrapping around him. He walked to the bedroom they shared, and closed the door behind them.
There was more talking, but no more excuses. No more waiting.
Long Road Home – Chapter Four
All disclaimers still in effect :)
It was a beautiful morning on Argo. Though summer had come and gone, the autumn was still very pleasant. Inara felt the bed stirring beside her, and opened her eyes. Mal was sitting beside her, already fully dressed, eyes twinkling.
“Mornin’ sleepyhead,” he smiled, rubbing her shoulder gently.
“Morning,” she replied with a smile, as he leaned down to kiss her gently.
“Thought you and me might go for us a little picnic,” Mal told her. “I mean if you ain’t gotta better offer, o’ course,” he winked.
“Well, I’ll have to look at my social calendar,” she teased back, “but I try to leave my options open in a case certain swashbuckling pirate come along and wants to sweep me off my feet.”
“Consider you swept, then,” he kissed her again and rose. “I’ll get everything ready while you get ready. We’ll just make a day of it, maybe.”
Inara rose after he had gone, and quickly showered and dressed. As she did, she pondered her relationship with Mal Reynolds. After six months, things were going very smoothly indeed, and she was, for the most part, happy. In the long run, she hoped they would marry, but was resigned to being patient.
I don’t know how River stands it, she thought wryly. Especially considering Jayne’s steadfast refusal to consummate their relationship. When she had asked him why, he had blushed a bit, but surprised her by answering.
“She’s a virgin, Inara,” he was almost shy about it. “Ain’t right, that’s all.” And that was his only answer. While River was beside herself with frustration, Inara had to admit it was very sweet. Old fashioned, yes, but also admirable. She had meant it when she told Jayne that most men would have been pressuring River for intimacy. That he was not, and was in fact resisting her, spoke well of his intentions toward the girl.
She and Mal were not celebate, and had, in fact, been sharing a bed even while the trouble with Zhang had been going on. Their intimacy was intense, to say the least. All that lacked, really, was the long term commitment that assured her he would stay.
He would not give such a commitment lightly, either. That was one reason she didn’t mind the wait. When he did, he would mean it. That assurance rested in her heart like no other feeling she had ever known.
Inara finished dressing and went straight to the front door, where she found Mal already in the mule, waiting. His smile was boyish in it’s charm as he saw her leave the house.
They drove a short ways out into the country, to a small lake that Harwell had spoken of. Mal was well prepared, and soon had a blanket on the ground, and several fresh fruits spread out, along with wine.
“Figured I owed you breakfast,” he smiled, and she laughed in delight as he spread the food on the blanket.
They were just finishing up when Mal jerked upright. Inara turned to follow his gaze, and saw three men standing by the mule. All were armed, and all looked angry.
“Reynolds, we want a word with you,” the man in front all but snarled. Inara recognized him as Jent Withe, one of the men who had transported for Guilford’s before the trouble had begun.
“Well, this ain’t exactly a good time, fellas,” Mal said amiably enough, but Inara could see he was tense.
“It’s a fine time, seein’ as how you ain’t got that big blockheaded merc with ya,” Withe shot back.
“Now ole’ Jayne wouldn’t care for that none,” Mal replied. “Fact he’d prob’ly take offense and be like as not to rip your ugly head clean off. Course he’s a mite short on temper, Jayne is.”
Before anyone else could say a word, Mal’s gun was in his hand. The three men tensed as if about to draw, but the hammer earing back on Mal’s pistol stopped them.
“Well, looky here,” Mal drawled. “Now, I came here with my beautiful ai ren hoping to have a pleasant day, and go about my business unmolested. Seein’ as how you’ve tromped all over that, suppose you boys just drop them guns, real careful like, and then head on out.”
The three men hesitated, and Mal’s voice became more harsh.
“I ain’t playin’ none, here boys. You go ahead and do like I said, and I won’t even tell Jayne you was talkin’ ‘bout him. And that’s ‘bout as good as this deal’s gonna get without some bloodshed.”
All three reluctantly dropped their weapons, hatred burning in their eyes.
“Now, I know what’s got you all het up, and I hate that, really I do,” Mal told them, his voice indicating he didn’t really hate it at all. “But the way I see it, you folks had plenty o’ opportunity to stand with Harwell when you could, and you didn’t. That ain’t my problem, or fault. Me and mine, we did right by him, and he’s doin’ the same for us.”
“So you can just trot on outta here, and don’t be wastin’ my time with such as this again. Dong ma?”
“This ain’t over, Reynolds,” Withe glared. “Not by a long shot, it ain’t.”
“It can be,” Mal raised his pistol, pointing it right at Withe’s face. The other man paled. “See, I can end it right here. But that ain’t my way. All I want is for me and mine to get by. Conjure you want the same. Find it somewhere that ain’t here.”
The three went then, Mal watching them out of sight. Inara looked up.
“My hero,” she smiled, and took his offered hand to rise to her feet.
“Twernt nothin, ma’am,” he smiled back, putting his gun away. He turned serious then.
“I’m sorry ‘bout that ‘Nara. Didn’t figure on nothin’ like that at all.”
“No harm done, ai ren,” she assured him. “Besides you called me beautiful.”
“I do that pretty often,” he smiled back.
“Girl can never hear it enough. How about Gunfighter?”
“Huh?” Mal was lost.
“For the boat, Mal. Gunfighter.” Mal groaned.
Kaylee looked up from the table when she saw River walking toward her. It was the morning after the slaver attack, and things were back near enough to normal that breakfast would be on time.
“Wow, River,” Kaylee exclaimed, “don’t you look radiant. You’re almost glowin’.” River blushed, but her wide grin would not fade.
“Consummated our relationship,” she confided in her soon to be sister-in-law.
“What?” Kaylee squealed, hands flying to her mouth a second too late. “What? Really?” she demanded more quietly, leaning forward. River nodded.
“So you guys. . .” Kaylee trailed off. River nodded again.
“Four times,” she informed Kaylee, eliciting another squeal.
“Four times!” Kaylee said in a very loud whisper. “You can’t have gotten any sleep!”
“Not much,” River admitted, still grinning. “Worth it,” she added, blushing again.
“Are you okay?” Kaylee asked, concerned. “I mean, Jayne’s an awful big man, and I know you were, well. . .”
“Virgo intactica,” River nodded. “I am well. More than well,” she giggled. “My Jayne is very skillful.” Kaylee joined her in the giggling. They were still giggling when Jayne made his way in.
“I don’t guess I gotta ask what all that’s about,” he mumbled. River kissed his cheek.
“My Jayne rumbles like a bear,” she teased. In spite of himself, he had to grin.
“I just think that’s so neat!” Kaylee grinned from ear to ear. Jayne’s grin turned a little goofy at that, and River snickered, running her tongue into his ear.
“Plenty more where that came from, you know,” she whispered huskily. With that Jayne grabbed her and threw her over his shoulder, heading back to their room.
“See you later,” River laughed, waving at Kaylee from her perch on Jayne’s shoulder. Kaylee laughed until she noticed the older woman next to her frowning.
“Newlyweds,” she explained. It was sorta true.
Kaylee didn’t see River and Jayne again til dinner. She had just sat down at the table when the couple came walking in.
“Shoulda eat breakfast first,” Jayne winked. River was smiling from ear to ear, and Kaylee couldn’t help be glad for her friend. But it sure did make her miss Simon all that much more.
When the ship arrived at Persephone, the Captain had a surprise waiting for them.
“Mister Cobb, the salvage rights of that ship, and any rewards, were rightly yours. Since you allowed us to claim it, it’s only right and fair that we pay your passage.” He handed Jayne a bag with their three fares in it. Jayne was shocked.
“He would thank you if he could find his voice,” River thanked the Captain.
“You folks take care,” the Captain saluted and walked away.
“Hey, we got coin!” Kaylee chirped.
“Rightfully Captain Daddy’s,” River chimed in.
“Well, not really,” Jayne reasoned. “We earned it, fightin’ slavers. Mal had to pay it to get us here, so technically, it’s ours.” River pondered that.
“True enough,” she agreed, and stuck her hand out. “Give me money, Zhang fu. Going shopping.”
Jayne groaned, knowing what that meant.
“How many ruttin’ stores can two women visit in one gorram day?” Jayne groused from behind a rather impressive collection of shopping bags and boxes.
“We are very talented women, Zhang fu,” River assured him.
“Ease up, Jayne,” Kaylee snickered. “We’re on our way to the hotel.”
“Hope my back makes it that far,” Jayne continued.
“If your back is problematic, perhaps I should spend the night with Kaylee,” River said sweetly. “Don’t want you to put strain on your injured body parts.”
“Backs fine,” Jayne growled, and River and Kaylee erupted into giggles again.
The trio checked into the hotel, and took time to shower and change. Kaylee and River dressed in some of the things they’d purchased that day. Kaylee choosing a blue sundress, while River opted for a pair of very tight jeans and t-shirt, covered by a blouse which she tied about her middle.
Jayne whistled approvingly at both, then, one on each arm, they set out to find some dinner.
They chose a restaurant across the street from the hotel, on a recommendation from the bell hop.
“Must remember to tip the bell boy, Zhang fu,” River said as they were eating. “This is a very nice restaurant, as he said.”
“I will,” Jayne nodded. That was something he had learned from Inara. Tipping wasn’t just courteous, it also got you remembered. Good tippers were always treated to better tables, faster service, and all around just treated better, Inara had told him.
“Boy, this ain’t bad at all,” Kaylee said, digging into her meal. “We oughta do this more often!”
“You mean go half-way ‘cross the verse, fighting slavers, living in a small suite for nearly two weeks, or eating out?” River asked with a straight face. Kaylee looked at her for a moment, then, as if on cue, both broke out in giggles.
Jayne rolled his eyes, and tried to act disgruntled, but he couldn’t. He was having a good time himself, and the fact that his Angel was next to him just made it better.
They were leaving the restaurant, on their way back to the hotel, when River suddenly stiffened. Jayne saw it, and immediately placed his hand on his gun.
“What is it, baby,” Jayne asked softly. Just then two men came around from the alley. Spying River and Kaylee, they stopped short. Both were scrawny, dirty, and had apparently already been at the bottle somewhere.
“Well, now,” one said, “looky what we got here!”
“You have got to be kidding me,” Jayne almost laughed. River stopped him with a hand on his arm.
“No, Zhang fu,” she said softly. “They like to play with women, let them play with me.” Jayne nodded reluctantly, and River walked forward.
“Well, little girl, you and your shiny friend want to dump that ox yer with and come have a drink with a couple o’ real men?” Jayne didn’t even bother to bristle, just smiled. Kaylee was hiding behind Jayne, peeking out around his arm, eyes wide.
“Jayne!” she whispered urgently. “Ain’t you gonna help her?”
“She don’t need my help,” he replied confidently. “And she knows if she does, I’m right here.” River looked back and smiled at him. Then, still looking at Jayne, she kicked the one who had spoken right in the mouth.
“What the. . .?” his friend bellowed, startled by the sudden violence. He tried to grab River, but she deftly evaded him, twisting away, and plunging an elbow to his solar plexus when he passed. He fell to his knees, gasping for air.
The second man was staggering to his feet when the little assassin leapt into the air, spinning around in a twirl, and kicked him again, this time in the temple. The talker crumpled to the ground as if he had been de-boned. River whirled on the second man, still trying to breath, and smashed her elbow into his nose. He too, fell to the ground, out cold.
As calmly as if she’d just paid her bill, River walked back to Jayne, linking her arm in his, and the trio continued on their way. Kaylee walked no more than a half step behind. But looked back several times.
“Thank you, Jayne,” River told him quietly as they crossed the street.
“You’re welcome, Angel.” The term came as natural to him as breathing, and the look it put on River’s face was priceless.
I am one blessed man, Jayne thought to himself. Thanks, Book.
River curled up atop Jayne in their bed, running her hands over his chest.
“Thank you for allowing me to be me,” she said quietly.
“Wouldn’t want you any other way, Angel,” he told her sincerely. “Told you, you’re perfect. Wouldn’t change a thing.”
“But it is important to me that I still be who I am,” she told him frankly. “You are the male, and therefore tasked with protecting the mate. Yet I am capable of taking care of myself as well, and you allow me to do that. Thus I am still who I am, while also being your mate. It is an important distinction. Not all men would do that.”
“Not all men are yours, either,” he grinned. “I’ll always worry about you. And there is absolutely no point in you telling me not to. But I won’t keep you from being who you were when I fell in love with you. You saved me, girl. You don’t know it, maybe, but you did. You’re the most precious thing in the ‘verse to me. A priceless treasure. And I’ll always treat you that way.”
River blinked back tears as she lowered her lips to his. They were one, now. It didn’t matter that there was no official form or letter. This man was hers, and she was his. And that was all that mattered tonight.
Long Road Home – Chapter Five
And this is where I say: All pervious disclaimers are still in effect :)
Jayne, River, and Kaylee rose early the next morning, eager to get to the dealers and get a look at the new ship. They ate breakfast in the hotel’s own restaurant, and then struck out immediately to the yards.
Three times Jayne had to drag the women away from store windows, and once they both had to drag him from one. All in all, the three of them were having a great time.
Right up until they saw the ship.
“Ain’t no way, and I mean no way, I’m flyin’ in that.” Jayne’s arms were crossed and his mouth set in a thin line.
“It does look a bit. . .shabby,” River agreed.
“It’s a piece o’ junk!” Kaylee wailed. “We came all this way for a ruttin’ piece o’ space trash!”
The ship was a Firefly ‘03. There any semblance between it and Serenity parted company. The hull was covered in a light coating of rust that shouldn’t have even been possible. Stains on the struts indicated leaks in the hydraulics that had been there for some time. One of the exhaust manifolds on the port thruster looked. . .
“It’s hopeless,” Kaylee groaned. “It’ll take weeks to get this thing flyin’ again.”
“It’ll take longer than that to get me inside it,” Jayne stated firmly. “I say we wave Mal, tell him this guy’s a weasel, and head back to the hotel.”
“I admit, it does look to be a lost cause,” River nodded. Just then the dealer walked around the end of the ship.
“Morning folks,” he said amiably. “In the market for a ship today?”
“We’re here on behalf of Reynolds Shipping to inspect a Firefly ‘03 model that was advertised on the cortex,” River said smoothly. “Please tell me this isn’t it.”
“This isn’t it,” the man replied.
“Really?” Kaylee asked, hope in her voice.
“No, but she asked me nicely to tell you it wasn’t,” the dealer told her. “What’s the matter with this baby? Little elbow grease, some paint, and she’s good as new.”
“Next he’ll tell us to kick the tires,” Jayne mumbled.
“Sir, I don’t mean to be rude,” River said, glaring at Jayne, “but this ship bears no resemblance to the ship we saw over the cortex, outside the silhouette. If this is the ship you placed for sale, then I’m afraid our company’s owner will be very unhappy.”
“Okay, you got me,” the man smiled. “It’s not the ship. Just having a little fun. Name’s Vincent, Rud Vincent. Come on this way, and I’ll show you the ship Reynolds waved me about.” Sighing in relief, the three followed Vincent to the far side of the yard.
“Well, it does look better than that tub,” Jayne said grudgingly.
“It’s quite a nice looking vessel actually,” River added.
“It’s beautiful!” Kaylee exclaimed, and Jayne winced. So much for the haggling. A look at Vincent confirmed that.
“We’ll need to inspect the ship, Mister Vincent,” River said. “And we’ll require a test flight before purchase, preferably with you along.”
“No problem. You folks seem to know your way around one o’ these babies. Want me to leave you to look it over, or would you like me to stay.” It was about this time that Jayne realized that ‘Mister Vincent’ was paying a bit too much attention to River. One look at the scowl on Jayne’s face and Mister Vincent realized it as well.
“We’ll be fine,” River assured him, fighting a grin. “Should we need you, we’ll seek you out.” Vincent nodded and left them to it.
“Little. . .” Jayne muttered.
“Temper, Zhang fu,” River scolded lightly. Inwardly though, she still reveled in Jayne’s protective jealousy. The feeling was one which she was sure she’d never grow weary of.
“Well, let’s have a look!” Kaylee beamed.
“Well?” Jayne had watched as the two women poured over the ship. It had taken over three hours for them to check the engines, and the systems.
“Well,” Kaylee sighed. “She’s not in too bad o’ shape, really. Engines seem to be in good workin’ order, but I can’t be sure o’ that till we get her in the black.”
“Controls and systems all seem functional,” River agreed. “I admit, this is better than I expected.”
“So do we take the test flight today? Or wait for tomorrow?” Jayne asked.
“I say we go today,” River replied, and Kaylee nodded in agreement.
“Me too. That way we can spend tomorrow buyin’ parts and stockin’ the ship, and maybe get on our way by the day after.”
“”Suits me,” Jayne shrugged. “I’ll go find that little. . .”
“Jayne,” River admonished sweetly. “Be nice to the little. . .man. We’ll want a better price than he made to Captain Daddy. Can’t get that if he’s in the hospital.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Jayne grumbled, walking away to find Vincent.
“Don’t that bother you?” Kaylee asked after Jayne had gone.
“What?” River asked, puzzled.
“How he’s so. . .possessive,” Kaylee said. “So jealous.”
“He’s not the only one,” River smiled. “I am the same way. And no, it doesn’t bother me. Makes me feel safe. Wanted. Loved.” Kaylee looked at her friend for a moment, noting the dreamy look on River’s face.
“Yeah, I’d guess feeling safe would mean a lot to ya,” she said thoughtfully.
“Sometimes, I am not well,” River pointed out. “It’s rare, these days, but it does happen. Knowing Jayne is there helps ease my fears that something will happen that I can’t handle, or that I will have an episode and not be able to protect myself. He’s the only one who can make me feel that way,” she added wistfully.
“That’s so. . .romantic,” Kaylee gushed. “Like you two were meant to find each other.”
“We were,” River nodded firmly. “We were.”
Wonder of wonders, the test flight went smoothly, including a half hour at full burn. River noted the controls were sluggish, though not unresponsive. Kaylee had a list as long as Jayne’s arm about the engines by the time they returned planet side.
And Jayne was about to boil over at Vincent’s fawning over River. The salesman had to be smarter than that, Kaylee thought to herself.
“So pretty lady,” Vincent asked River. “Everything satisfactory?” Then again, Kaylee decided, maybe not.
“Mister Vincent, there are a number of deficiencies we will be forced to address before returning this ship to our employer,” River said deftly. “With that being said, the ship is, overall, satisfactory, but I fear your price of five thousand credits is too high, considering the work the ship needs.” She looked at Jayne and Kaylee, who shrugged, and started for the cargo bay.
“Thank you for your time,” River concluded, and turned to follow.
“Hey! Wait a minute now,” Vincent called after them. “This is a good ship. Sturdy, dependable, fuel efficient. . .”
“This isn’t our first Firefly, Mister Vincent,” River assured him. “We well know their qualities, which is why we’ve made such a long trip to see this one. As I said, despite the satisfactory condition of your vessel, the price is simply too high, considering the work that will need to be done to bring the ship back to battery.” Again the three turned to go.
“Look, now,” Vincent ran after them. “No need to just walk off like that. Come back to the office with me, and let’s see what I can do. Maybe I can get the price down some.” River looked as if she were debating her choices, then looked at Jayne and Kaylee.
Both shrugged, as if it made no difference to them. River turned back to Vincent.
“Very well,” she nodded. “We have some time before our transport is ready to leave.” Vincent looked relieved at that, and set out at a fast clip, leading them to his office.
An hour and a half later, Reynolds’ Shipping had acquired a new Firefly, for the re-negotiated price of three thousand nine-hundred credits. Vincent had moaned and groaned the whole time that he was giving the ship away, but smiled broadly when the deal was finally struck.
Paperwork in hand, the three shook hands with him, Jayne rather grudgingly, and prepared to return to their hotel. As Jayne exited the office, Vincent made his play.
“I don’t suppose I could interest you in having dinner this evening, could I?” he asked River, smiling. Kaylee immediately looked to see if Jayne had heard, fearing the worst.
“Well, Mister Vincent,” River smiled sweetly. “I’d be delighted.” River let him bask for all of three seconds. “If you can convince my husband to let me go,” she added, pointing to where Jayne was looking back, waiting. Scowling.
Vincent’s face paled at that. Suddenly he remembered something very important he had to get done, right away, and excused himself. Kaylee snorted, trying to hold in a laugh. River didn’t bother. As the two women hurried to catch up with Jayne, Kaylee managed to gasp in between laughs;
“Okay, I see now why you like him all growly and possessive.”
“It does have it’s uses,” River giggled.
Unaware that his wayward trio had just saved him over a thousand credits, Mal was watching Serenity touchdown at Guilford’s. Before long Zoe was walking toward him.
“Any problems?” he asked, as always.
“None, sir,” Zoe assured him. “How are things?”
“We got a small problem, looks like,” Mal admitted. Zoe raised one eyebrow.
“‘Small problem’?” she asked. “Sir?”
“Well, it might, maybehaps, turn into a bigger problem,” he admitted slowly. He filled her in on the events of the day of his and Inara’s picnic.
“You took Inara on a picnic, sir?” Zoe asked, amusement in her voice.
“Zoe, three armed ship owners?” Mal reminded her. “Het up over our arrangement with Harwell?”
“A picnic?” she demanded again, threatening to laugh.
“Can we move on past the picnic part, and get to the part with the threats and the gunplay?” Mal demanded.
“Sorry, sir,” Zoe said with a straight face. “It’s just that. . .the idea of you, on a picnic. Well. . .”
“What’s so odd about me on a picnic?” Mal demanded, threats and gunplay forgotten. “Can’t a man go on a picnic?”
“Of course, sir,” Zoe assured him. “Just never thought of you as the picnic type. That’s all.”
“There’s a specific type for a picnic?” Mal demanded, face red. “I’ll have you know it was a fine picnic, until Withe and his associates turned up and spoiled it.”
“I have every confidence in your picnic abilities, sir,” Zoe replied smoothly. “Now, what about the gunplay, and the threats?”
“No! We’re gonna settle this whole picnic issue we got here, ‘fore we move on to that!” Mal shot back, indignant.
“I wasn’t aware there was a picnic issue, sir,” Zoe said, struggling to keep her stoic straight face.
“There wasn’t until you made one,” Mal said crossly.
Half an hour later, the picnic ‘issue’ firmly behind them, ‘and I mean I don’t want any more snide comments about me picnicin’, Mal and Zoe were seated on the sprawling front porch of the house.
“Sounds like a bad time for Jayne and River to be away, sir,” Zoe commented.
“It is,” Mal nodded. “I knew there was some grumblin’ o’ course, always is with folk like that. Folk what want what somebody else worked for. But I didn’t ‘spect it ta escalate such as this so fast.”
“What are you planning to do, sir?”
“I don’t know as yet,” Mal admitted. “Thought you an’ me could hash it over somewhat. If they hold off another couple, maybe three, weeks, then Jayne and River oughta be back. With them at our backs, I’m confident we won’t have no trouble.”
“Long time for them to pull something, sir,” Zoe pointed out.
“I know,” Mal nodded. “But right now, we ain’t got a whole lotta options available to us. With them three gone, we’re a might short handed.”
“We’ll make do, sir,” Zoe said confidently. “So long as we protect the ship, we’ll be fine.”
“Was thinking that myself,” Mal nodded. “I’m thinking we need to move back aboard, for the time bein’. I don’t think we can protect the house, and we need every hand, short handed as we are.”
“Might not be a bad idea, sir,” Zoe agreed. “Always move back when the trouble’s over. We lose the house, we can get another. Lose Serenity. . .” she trailed off.
“Lose Serenity and we’re humped,” Mal nodded. “I ain’t risked life and limb, nor crew and ship, to find us a steady job and good home, only to stand by and see it took. We do what we have to, until we’re all back together. After that, we can take it too ‘em if they want it that bad.” Mal’s voice was firm.
“Sounds like a plan, sir,” Zoe nodded. They’d faced much worse in the past. They’d get by.
You must log in to post comments.
OTHER FANFICS BY AUTHOR
All FIREFLY graphics and photos on this page are copyright 2002-2012 Mutant Enemy, Inc., Universal Pictures, and 20th Century Fox.
All other graphics and texts are copyright of the contributors to this website.
This website IS NOT affiliated with the Official Firefly Site, Mutant Enemy, Inc., or 20th Century Fox.