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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
River plays peacemaker, and Jayne shares his story with some of the crew.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 669 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Archangel – Chapter Sixteen
Author owns no rights to Firefly, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Mal was still on the bridge when River stepped up and took her seat. She checked things over, ensuring that the ship was still on course. Sitting back, she looked out at the black.
“Would you tell me,” she said, still looking out the window, “what it is about Jayne that has you so set against him?” Mal looked at her.
“Your arguments are irrational, Captain,” River continued. “I simply wish to understand.”
Mal looked back out the window a moment. Finally, he sighed.
“I don’t really know,” he admitted. “I guess it’s the way he keeps talkin’ back to me. Not to mention how like he is to sell us out.”
“What has he done to give you the impression that he would sell you out?” River asked. “And do not mention Ariel,” she added at his look. “That was an act of revenge, not betrayal.” Mal looked at her for another moment, non-plussed.
“He wanted to punish Simon for allowing Kaylee to lay unattended,” River said quietly. Mal nodded absently. He knew that.
“Is it that he no longer takes the abuse you heap upon him?” River continued. “That he has decided he has had enough?” she finally looked at him. “Or is it that you fear him?” Mal’s face reddened at that, and River held up a hand.
“Don’t bother denying it, Captain,” she told him flatly. “You fear him, as does everyone else. Except Kaylee.”
“You, too?” Mal asked.
“Me, too,” River nodded. “I do not fear what he would do to me,” she clarified. “Jayne sees me as a friend, for which I am grateful. But only a fool would not fear what he is capable of. He is on his feet two days after a nearly fatal injury. That is unheard of.”
“I killed perhaps thirty reavers in hand to hand combat,” she went on. “This makes you consider me a killing machine. You’ve used the term yourself. Jayne killed perhaps two hundred. What does that make him?”
“Unnatural?” Mal asked, chuckling.
“Indeed,” River nodded. “Is that why you continue to berate him?”
“I don’t know,” Mal repeated.
“You need to search yourself, Captain,” she told him. “He has done no wrong to you, or anyone else on this ship in a great long while. When he leaves, Kaylee will leave with him. They both belong here. Together.”
“I don’t see no way to make that happen, River,” Mal told her. “I’ve pretty well ensured that he won’t stay.”
“He will stay so long as Kaylee stays,” River assured him. “And she will stay, if you cease your interfering in their relationship.” Mal’s face contorted at that.
“It isn’t your business, Captain,” River told him. “It is your ship, but it is their lives, and you haven’t the right to intrude. You know that as well as I do. You are not a stupid man, for all your attempts to convince us otherwise.” Mal snorted at that.
“You are, however,” River smiled for the first time, “very stubborn. Unhealthily so, at times. And this is one of them.” She rose.
“I must go and finish helping with the refugees,” she told him. “Think on what I have said. We must stay together.”
“You seen something?” Mal looked at her at once. “Somethin’ comin’?”
“I feel something,” she admitted. “I still do not know what it is. I cannot reach it, no matter how hard I try. It is there, however. Just beyond my reach.” She smiled.
“We’ll be taking a passenger aboard on Celeste. You must take her, Captain. She is. . .special. She will help Simon to heal.”
“A doc?” Mal frowned.
“A flower,” she smiled again. “A glorious flower, yet to bloom. Do not forget.” With that she was gone, leaving Mal alone on the bridge.
He sat for a long time, thinking on what River had said. She was right, he acknowledged. His behavior toward Jayne was irrational. He’d known that even before she pointed it out.
“Maybe it is cause he won’t take me houndin’ him no more,” he muttered, getting to his feet.
He headed to Inara’s shuttle. He had work to do.
Inara answered the knock on her hatch, expecting it to be Kaylee, coming to say good-bye. She was surprised to find Mal standing there.
“Can I come in?” he asked. Inara stepped back, and waved him inside.
“You’re right,” he said at once. “And I was wrong. I’m just too stubborn to admit it, ‘thout some time to think on things. I’m goin’ now to see if Jayne’ll stay. And to tell Kaylee that, long as I ain’t gotta see’em locked up out in the common areas, what they do is their business, long as it don’t interfere with the ship runnin’.”
“You think that’ll do it?” he asked, almost hopefully.
“I think it just might,” Inara smiled, hugging him. “Thank you.”
“No,” Mal said softly. “Thank you. For not givin’ up on me.”
Jayne and Kaylee were still sitting on the catwalk when Mal found them.
“Hey, you two,” he said gruffly. Kaylee started slightly, but Jayne merely looked up at him.
“It ain’t my business what you two do in private,” Mal said at once. “Long as you keep the worst of it confined to a bunk, it’s fine. So long as my ship runs smooth. But I don’t wanna have to risk me, or anyone else, runnin’ ‘cross you two in the throes o’ passion out here. Dong Ma?”
“Thank you, Cap’n!” Kaylee jumped to her feet and hugged him. Mal smiled, hugging her back.
“I’m sorry,” he said to both of them. “I. . .I don’t know what else to say, and it likely won’t mean nothin’, anyway.”
“That’s fine, Cap’n!” Kaylee beamed. “Ain’t it, Jayne,” she kicked him lightly.
“Sure,” Jayne nodded, and Mal almost laughed at how easily Kaylee handled the big. . .killing machine.
“Well, now that this is settled, I got Captainy things to see to.” Mal walked away, and Kaylee fell onto Jayne, squeezing as hard as she dared.
“Ain’t it wonderful!” she breathed. Jayne smiled.
“It is,” he nodded, kissing her. “I’m glad, baby doll.” She beamed at that.
“I’m goin’ to tell Inara!” Kaylee exclaimed. She ran off to see her friend, leaving Jayne on the catwalk. He didn’t know whether to be happy or not, but if Kaylee was happy, then what he felt didn’t really matter to him.
“The bear is content,” River’s voice floated to him. He nodded, not looking around.
“Yes, he is,” he agreed. “How much did the Albatross have to do with that?”
“Simply pointed out the obvious,” River smiled at the fact that Jayne was so much more observant that anyone gave him credit for.
“Thank you, River,” Jayne said quietly.
“You’re welcome, Jayne,” she nodded. “It’s what friends do.” She paused a minute.
“Perhaps you might consider reciprocating?” she asked. Jayne looked at her.
“In what way?” he wanted to know. River wasn’t surprised that he didn’t ask her what she meant.
“Perhaps you should enlighten Captain Daddy,” she suggested. “It might put him at ease. And perhaps remove the strain on your relationship.”
Jayne thought about that. He supposed he could, he acknowledged. At least some of it. The parts of his life he had shared with River.
“All right,” he nodded. “That seems fair.”
“He is on the bridge,” River told him. “Alone.”
“Mal?” Jayne said quietly, from the bridge door.
“Jayne,” Mal nodded. He wasn’t quite comfortable, but he figured he could fake it.
“Got time for a little story?” Jayne asked.
“What kinda story?” Mal frowned.
“Yesu, Jayne,” Mal said softly, thirty minutes later. “I. . .I don’t know what to say.”
“Don’t have to say anything,” Jayne shrugged. “Just figured you wanted to know, and I’d tell you.”
“I shouldna been like that, Jayne,” Mal murmured. “I don’t even know why I was, and that’s the truth. I guess it’s cause I always expected you to sell us out.”
“Reckon if I was gonna, Mal, I wouldn’t o’ done it by now?” Jayne asked.
“Yeah,” Mal nodded. “And after Miranda, I shouldn’a kept thinking that way, anyway. After you went through all that. Don’t know why I did, ‘less’n it was habit.”
“Just my charming personality, no doubt,” Jayne chuckled drily.
“Sure that played a part in it,” Mal smiled.
“So, you think me and you are straight, now?” Jayne asked.
“Yeah, Jayne,” Mal nodded. “We’re straight. We’re good.”
“Anyway, now you know ‘bout as much about me as anyone,” Jayne told him. “River knows, o’ course.”
“Does Kaylee?” Mal asked.
“Not so much as you do,” Jayne admitted. “I aim to tell her when we’re on Celeste. That way if it’s too much for her to deal with, I’ll stay, and she can go on with you.”
“That’s a big gamble, Jayne,” Mal pointed out.
“No,” Jayne replied. “It ain’t that. She deserves to know. Just be hard to tell her, that’s all. And she deserves to have the chance to change her mind, and be shut o’ me for good, if she does,” he added. “Nothin’ else would be right.”
Mal listened to that, and felt deeply ashamed of how he’d treated Jayne over Kaylee. If Inara was right, Jayne had loved Kaylee from day one, and never said a thing to her, knowing how he was. Now she loved him, wanted to stay with him even if it meant leaving the ship, and Jayne was prepared to lose that in order to let Kaylee know the truth.
That wasn’t something a greedy or self serving man would do.
“I think that’s right noble, Jayne,” Mal finally said quietly. “It says a lot about you, that you’re willin’ to risk that.”
Jayne shrugged, but said nothing. He rose, finally, and started off the bridge.
“Where ya headed?” Mal asked.
“Figure I need to tell Simon, too,” Jayne told him.
“A what?” Simon asked, stunned.
“It’s a reaver bite, Simon,” Jayne repeated. “Got bit when I was a kid. That’s why it looks like it’s stretched. And why it ain’t never healed.”
“Jayne, that’s. . .I need to look at it!” Simon almost jumped up.
“Simon, trust me,” Jayne told him. “I’ve had the best medical attention anywhere in the ‘verse. There ain’t no help for it. Been there long as I can remember.”
“How old where you when you were bitten?” Simon asked.
“Don’t rightly know,” Jayne shrugged.
“Well, how old are you?” Simon asked. “We can back up to the year you were. . . .”
“I don’t know that either,” Jayne told him softly. Simon looked at him blankly.
“How can you not know how old you are, Jayne?” he asked, incredulous.
“I don’t know how old I was when my Ma found me,” Jayne shrugged. “She figures I was at least ten, or maybe a little older. But she didn’t have no way o’ knowing.”
“And I ain’t got no memory o’ nothing ‘fore waking up on that ship, ‘cept for the reavers attackin’. Can’t remember my real parents, or even what my real name is. Ain’t never knowed. I had a necklace with the name ‘Michael’ on it, and remembered I was called Mickey as a boy. Nothin’ else.”
“I’m sorry, Jayne,” Simon told him. “I didn’t mean to make you remember things you’d rather forget.” Knowing all these things helped Simon understand a great deal about Jayne Cobb.
“Ain’t forgot,” Jayne shrugged helplessly. “I see reavers in my sleep ever night, usually. Always the same ones, seems like.”
“I can’t imagine how horrible that must be.”
“Hope you don’t never have to,” Jayne told him. “Anyway, just figured it was only fair to tell you.”
“Thank you, Jayne,” Simon nodded. “For trusting me with that.”
“What’s wrong, Jayne?” Kaylee asked, finding him sitting in the engine room when she looked up.
“I need to tell you somethin’ ‘bout me,” he said uncertainly. “Only I don’t know how you’re gonna react, and I’m a mite worried over it,” he admitted.
“You married, Jayne?” Kaylee asked playfully.
“No!” Jayne looked indignant.
“Then I’m not like to react too bad,” she grinned impishly. “What is it.”
He told her everything. Left nothing out, other than where the school was, or who it was that had sent him there. Kaylee listened patiently, crying at times, laughing once or twice, and her eyes going wide at the part about the ship he had been found on. When he was finished, he sat back, seemingly exhausted by the effort, and by the worry that almost consumed him.
“Well, that’s a tale, all right,” Kaylee nodded. “Explains a lot, too,” she added. “That why you can’t have no young’uns?” she asked. He nodded.
“Well, I can see why you’d worry,” she assured him. “But Jayne, I don’t care ‘bout that. Not now, anyway. I care that all that happened to ya, bao bei, but it don’t make no difference to me, now,” she smiled.
“Are you sure, Kaylee?” Jayne asked. “I mean, it’s a lot to think on.”
“As opposed to you wearing all that armor, and killin’ ‘bout two hun’erd reavers all by your lonesome?” she grinned. “Compared to that, it ain’t nothin’ but a hiccup.”
Jayne grinned at that.
“So you still. . .I mean you don’t wanna rethink on. . . .”
“On what?” Kaylee demanded. “On you and me? Not a chance,” she snickered, sliding up beside him. “Told ya before, you ain’t gettin’ outta this that easy.”
“I wasn’t wantin’ out, Kaylee,” Jayne assured her. “Just wanted you to know what you’d be dealin’ with, that’s all. Wasn’t right not to tell ya.”
“I’m glad ya told me,” Kaylee admitted. “But it don’t change my mind, none. I know you love me, Jayne Cobb,” she grinned at him. “And I love you too. That’s all I need to know.”
Jayne smiled, his relief evident. He had been fearful that she wouldn’t want to stay with him, knowing the truth.
“Well, I got ta get some work done,” Kaylee told him, kissing him lightly. “And I ain’t like ta do that with you sittin’ here distractin’ me,” she grinned.
“Need some help?” Jayne asked, and Kaylee frowned.
“You ain’t ‘sposed to even be outta bed, Jayne, let alone workin’. Now git,” she slapped his rear playfully. “Soon’s I get done, I’ll come find ya.”
“Okay,” he grinned, looking for all the worlds like a little boy to her.
“Go on now,” she shooed with a smile. “I can’t have that smile down here takin’ my mind off’n my work!”
She watched as he walked away, marveling at how strong he was to have endured all that. And that he had loved her enough to take a chance on losing her by sharing it.
Humming happily, Kaylee went about her work.
“The bear has made the rounds, I see,” River smiled as Jayne walked into the galley. “Do you feel better, now?”
“Yes, I do,” he nodded. “Thanks, River.”
“You’re welcome, Jayne,” River smiled. “Want to help me prepare dinner?”
“Sure,” Jayne nodded.
River could feel the difference in Jayne’s aura as the two worked to prepare their evening meal. She sighed in contentment at the flow of genuine good feelings coming from throughout the ship.
Things were looking better, she decided. There was still Zoe to deal with, of course, but that would wait for another day.
Tomorrow perhaps, she thought to herself. Tomorrow is always a new day, after all. And Rome was not built in a day.
Saturday, February 16, 2008 6:19 AM
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