A River of Violence - Chapter Five Part I
Sunday, March 23, 2008

When one hears the line "Two men walked into a bar..." it's usually the beginning of a bad joke but for Jayne, it's the sound of his past about to catch up with him. After years on the run, it's finally time for him to settle old scores and confront old enemies. But the only way for him to get out of this alive is to turn to the one person he can count on. A multi-chaptered fic set after Serenity, inspired by the graphic novel and movie, A History of Violence. Rayne. Rated R WARNING: Violence, lots of violence.



WARNING:This may get confusing as Jayne is referred to by another name. Just remember that Jayne is the main character and his name still starts with a “J” and you should be fine. :D

Surprisingly, the summer passed quickly for Feng after she told her father she was continuing her education. As she predicted, her father threw her out of the house. She came home from the Saloon one day to find a box containing her belongings on the front porch and all the locks changed. John’s Aunt Zeta was kind enough to let her live in one of the small apartments above the Gunpowder Rose Saloon office at half the usual rent until she left for Medicad in the fall.

Qingdao Medical Academy was located in New Xi’an, the planet’s capitol. The capitol was more than a hundred miles from her home town, Winthrop, and she had never even been close to that far from home. Feng had at first found the capitol noisy and very nearly overwhelming. But John’s grandfather had made good on his offer, paying not only her tuition, and also setting her up with another cousin of John’s who was also attending the Medicad. Ling was two years ahead of Feng and took her grandfather’s request that she look after her cousin’s girlfriend seriously although she interpreted it in a much different manner than in which it was meant. Within a month of arriving in New Xi’an, Feng knew where to find all the take-out delis and bars, the best places to hail a cab and all the best nightlife, not that she would leave off her studying unless Ling dragged her out.

Feng stayed in contact with John through letters, often writing pages about her experiences in the capitol city. John’s letters weren’t nearly as long, writing not being his strong suit. Though he read every word she sent him and was as supportive and encouraging as he could be in his replies, letters were a pale substitute for the girl.

Winter brought about the end of Feng’s first semester. The last day of exams had been tough, her biology professor had decided to test them on the sneakiest of details and Feng’s brain felt like it was about to explode. She returned to the apartment she shared with Ling in the early afternoon, looking forward to the upcoming holidays. As she hung her heavy winter coat on a hook in the entry way, she heard a familiar voice conversing with her roommate. Forgetting to remove her boots, she rushed into the kitchen to see John leaning against the counter.


His name had barely left her lips before she was lifted off her feet and crushed in a giant bear hug. Feng didn’t fully realize how much she missed being in his arms until he was holding her again. “What are ya doin’ here?”

“Thought I’d come surprise ya.” He set her down but his hands stayed around her waist.

“How long are you here for?” she asked.

“I got two tickets for the eight ‘o clock train tomorrow mornin’.” He answered with a grin.


“Yeah, ma wanted to make sure you had some place to stay for your break.” He glanced away. “But if ya got plans already, then ya don’t have to.”

Feng reached up and touched his cheek. “I’d love to stay with your family.”

“Then that’s settled. How’s the city been treating ya?” He looked her up and down, taking in her rosy complexion and new clothes. “You look good. Are those really jeans you’re wearin’?”

Feng glared at Ling. “Yer cousin made me get them, I swear!”

“Well you wouldn’t let me shorten your skirts and it should be a crime to hide those legs of yours,” she replied with a smug smile on her lips. Feng might’ve been oblivious but Ling saw the way more than one boy’s eyes had lingered. “Now why don’t you get cleaned up and take Johnny boy out to see the sights?”

Feng tilted her head back to look at him. “Wanna?”

He shrugged. “Sure. But I gotta stop by and say hello to Gong gong. Ma said he wasn’t feelin’ too hot.”

Feng nodded. “I was gonna go drop a package off for him this weekend but we can go now. Just let me put my books away.”

After stopping in her room to drop off her books, they set out hand in hand into the snow covered streets of New Xi’an.


The Andolinis had been one of the first settlers to make their home on Qingdao. They had married into a good Chinese family. They had been brewers by trade, back on Earth-that-was and after the mass exodus, established one of the first breweries in the fledgling Alliance. Since the day the first glass of Qingdao beer was poured, the business had passed smoothly from the capable hands of father to son.

Wu Andolini was the proud bearer of this legacy, he had learned the trade at his father’s side from the time he was a small boy. But when his father died and he became head of the company at the unusually young age of thirty-four, many were afraid that he would not have the skills or experience necessary to run the business. Wu proved them wrong, coming to be known as a stern, capable leader but also a kind and generous man, frequently seen at charity functions and benefits around the planet. Although he made the occasional appearance in the Core, he preferred to focus his attentions on his homeworld.

By Alliance classification, Qingdao was labeled a Border world but its actual location made it an odd mixture of Core civilization in the urban areas and Rim world lawlessness out in the jerkwaters. The inhabitants quickly learned to look to those strongest and best able to enforce order to keep the peace. Major companies like the brewery were frequently forced to fill the void left by an inadequate Alliance presence. As a result, men like Wu Andolini wielded great power and influence over the populace with equally powerful and influential enemies.

Now, more than thirty years after he assumed control of the family business, Wu was stepping down and the question became, who he would hand the company to. If he did not name a son to take the reins, one of the other board members would assume leadership. The entire industry waited with baited breath for Wu’s decision.


When Feng and John arrived at the apartment building owned by the Andolini family, one of the two men standing guard recognized Feng and waved them into an elaborately decorated lobby where another guard sat behind a tall imposing desk.

“Didn’t think I’d see you until Saturday, Feng xiao jie.” The man remarked as they entered. “You packin’?”

“’Course I am.” She smiled, handing over the LeMat she had kept in her satchel. The man went bug eyed when he saw the gun but Feng didn’t seem to notice. “I’m going to spend the holidays with Johnny. We’re takin’ the train back to Winthrop tomorrow so I won’t be here. We thought we’d come visit Grandfather before we left.”

“Well, he’ll be happy to see you as always. Even more since you brought one of his grandkids along.” The watchman took the gun with more than a little envy in his eye, though he had to have seen it before and stowed it in a drawer behind the desk. “What about you, John? Got any weapons on ya?”

John wordlessly handed over his hunting knife. The watchman put it in the drawer with the LeMat, locked the drawer and handed him the key. Feng chatted with the watchman while they waited for the elevator. When the elevator finally arrived, John hustled her into the car.

“What’s the hurry?” she asked as the doors closed.

“I don’t like the way he was lookin’ at you.” John replied tightly. “He’s got at least twenty years on ya.”

Feng blinked up at him owlishly. "He’s also happily married."

“I just worry about ya. City’s a big place. I don’t want anything happenin’ ta you is all.” He cupped her cheek, drawing her close for a kiss.

“Your grandfather has men watching every move I make. I’m fine.” She smiled and leaned up to steal another kiss. “He probably knew you were comin’ ta visit the moment ya got yer train tickets.”

“How d’ya know that?”

“Ya gotta get up a lot earlier ta pull one over on ‘ole Vera.” She grinned cheekily as the doors opened and she exited the elevator.

The moment they stepped into the marble tiled foyer, they were greeted by Judah Chang, a tall, sandy haired man who had worked for the Andolini family for as long as John could remember.

Chang had started out in the brewery’s administrative offices at the age of ten doing odd jobs for the workers there. Within months, he had become a secretary favorite with a reputation as the most reliable and capable messenger boy in the city. When Chang was thirteen, he came to the attention of Wu Andolini whose father was just beginning to transfer leadership of the company to his son. Wu took the younger boy under his wing and made him his personal assistant. Officially, Chang was listed on the family employee roster as a butler but in reality his role was much more involved than that of a mere house servant.

“Lang xian sheng, Feng xiao jie, it is a pleasure to see you again.” Chang greeted them formally. “If you would follow me into the sitting room, Andolini xian sheng will be with you shortly.”

John and Feng followed him into a sitting room. It was elegantly decorated with wood paneled walls and hand carved furniture. John had been there several times for holidays and family events when he was younger but he hadn’t visited recently. Looking around, he saw that very little had changed. The delicate wall scrolls had been switched out and a rug had been replaced but otherwise the room had remained the same. Two of John’s cousins looked up when he and Feng entered the room. Chang melted gracefully into the background with a promise of tea.

Richie and his younger sister Wen rose to greet their cousin. Richie settled for an appropriately manly handshake but Wen was much less subdued.

“Johnny boy!” she exclaimed happily, squeezing him around the middle. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen you!”

“You saw me at Paul’s wedding.” John protested, grimacing slightly at the strength of her hug. “And Ping’s wedding the month before that.”

“But that was ages ago! How come you never come down to the city anymore?”

He shrugged. “Got work to do at the shop. Someone’s got to fix all the stuff you city slickers break when you come visiting.”

“Ain’t that the truth!” She grinned and turned to greet Feng.

The three of them sat down, John and Feng on the settee while Richie and Wen took the armchairs across from them. A servant entered with a tray and they were distracted with the business of pouring tea and passing around the fresh tang san jiao. The sugary snacks were enough to keep John’s mouth full while Feng and Wen chatted about girl stuff. Richie attempted to make conversation with John but gave up after several unintelligible answers and settled for staring into the fireplace instead.

The buns were nearly gone when Chang reappeared, followed by Anton. He glared at his son before disappearing quickly out the door to the foyer, completely disregarding the other occupants in the room. Ignoring Anton’s behavior, Chang moved to stand in front of the low coffee table.

“He is ready to see you now.”

Like the sitting room, Wu Andolini’s office was elaborately decorated with exotic woods and carved furniture. Despite the massive antique desk dominating the room, Andolini was slouched in an arm chair in front of the fire but sat up when his visitors entered.

“Ah, John, it is so kind of you to visit.”

“Least I could do, Gong gong.”

John and Feng crossed the room to hug the old man who was considerably more frail than he had been over the summer.

“Feng xiao jie, I’m afraid I am not feeling very well today. Our chess game will have to wait.”

Mei guan xi.” She replied, setting a parcel wrapped in white paper on the coffee table before kneeling next to the chair. “We’ll keep our visit short. I just came to tell you that I’m going to stay with Johnny’s family for the holidays so I won’t be able to come on Sunday.”

“Wonderful, wonderful.” Andolini smiled at John approvingly. “I hope you enjoy your stay. When you return you must tell me your scores at Medicad. You will receive your final grades before the new calendar year, correct?”

Feng nodded, sure that copies would also be sent to him. “Yes. I’ll let you know right away.”

“Excellent.” He patted her hand fondly. “Now, if you don’t mind, I would like to speak to John alone.”

“Of course. I hope you will feel better soon, gong gong.” She rose and kissed the old man’s cheek before slipping quietly out of the room.

When his grandfather didn’t begin speaking right away, John sat down in the armchair opposite and waited patiently. After a few minutes, his mind began to drift. Feng had promised to take him to one of her favorite spots after their visit, a tiny little café not far from the University, but John was trying to think of a way to convince her to let him take her somewhere fancier, perhaps one of the restaurants his family had gone to on special occasions when he was younger.

“I plan to step down from leadership of the company within the next year.” John jumped a little when his grandfather’s voice broke into his thoughts. “I had thought that Anton would be a suitable replacement. I am no longer so sure that this would be a wise decision in light of your uncle’s inability to control your cousin.

“You realize, John that this family’s reputation is of utmost importance to our company’s continued profitability?”

John nodded, unsure where his grandfather was going.

“While Reeb tells me that you are extremely good at what you do, I consider it a waste for you to continue working at the machine shop in Winthrop. Too much control has passed out of our hands. In order for the transfer of the company to go smoothly, I will need the entire family to support my decision. I need as many of my grandchildren as possible here in the capitol. If it were to appear otherwise, certain organizations would think us weak and that would be very bad for business. To that end, I would like you to move here to Xi’an after the winter holidays and begin working with Chang.”

John could only blink. While he had known that his parents and relatives thought that the family was losing control of the company, he hadn’t expected to be asked to take a more active role in the business. He didn’t think he had the brains for it. But moving to the capitol would mean he would be closer to Feng and he couldn’t help but see that as a good thing.

“You may of course refuse my request.” Andolini continued, though something in his voice sounded vaguely threatening. “But I ask that you give it some consideration. Perhaps talk it over with your mother. I know that she finds certain aspects of the family business… distasteful.”

John shook his head. “No sir. I know my mother would disapprove but I think she would agree that it would be best for me to move here.”

“Excellent.” The older man smiled, “I am glad that you understand my reasoning for this.”

Andolini picked up his cane and moved to stand. John jumped up to assist him but was waved off. “Wo mei ne me lao. I’m not so old that I can’t walk you to the door. I would like to be there when you tell Feng the good news. I’m sure she’ll be delighted.”

“Thank you, Gong gong.” John offered his arm to his grandfather. They exited the office together, John with a smile on his face that promptly disappeared when they saw the scene playing out in the sitting room.

Wen was on her feet in front of the arm chair she had been sitting in, hand over her mouth, eyes wide with shock. Richie had Feng pinned by the neck against the wall next to the fireplace, yelling at her loudly. Feng cringed as his spittle hit her face and tried futilely to push him away. Seeing red, John crossed the room in four long strides and punched his cousin in the jaw. Richie crumpled to the floor, moaning in pain.

Feng looked down at the young man with a cold expression. “Mayhap, if ya got rid of yer overinflated ego, yer luck would get better.”

“What is the meaning of this?” demanded Andolini.

Feng’s head whipped around so quickly that her long braid narrowly missed knocking a vase off the mantelpiece. Her mouth dropped open and her face drained of color but Wen broke in before she could say anything.

“Just Richie being a disgrace again.” She said, looking at her brother with disgust. “He’s trying to blame Feng for all the bad things that have been happening to him since Ping’s wedding.”

“Thank you, Wenceslas. I can take care of things from here if you could fetch your father for me?”

Wen blushed slightly at the use of her full name but nodded and walked off towards the foyer, leaving her brother curled up whimpering on the floor. Once she was gone, Andolini walked over and prodded Richie with his cane.

“I am sorely disappointed in you, boy. You are an embarrassment to your family and the business.” His voice was like ice. He gestured to Chang who strode over and reached down to fix a merciless grip on Richie’s ear, using it to pull the whimpering young man to his feet. Wordlessly, he pushed Richie into the office. Once the door shut behind them, Andolini turned to Feng who hadn’t moved since she’d turned around.

“I apologize for my grandson’s atrocious behavior, my dear.” he apologized, gently. “I do hope you suffered no lasting harm.”

Feng shook her head.

He studied her for a moment, as though he didn’t quite believe her. “There is a powder room down the hall if you require it.”

“I’m fine.” She said as she straightened her clothes, deftly wrapping her scarf around her neck to hide the rapidly forming bruises. John wrapped a protective arm around her shoulders while glaring daggers at the office door.

“Very well, enjoy your holiday and do let Johnny take you somewhere nice. I know he’s dying to do so.”

John looked down at the top of her head. “Vera?”

“A-alright.” She agreed, still a little shell shocked.

“Excellent, I’ll have a car brought around for you.”

Neither spoke during the elevator ride down to the lobby and wordlessly retrieved their weapons from the desk clerk. Feng jammed her gun into her coat pocket instead of returning it to her bag. The grip stuck out but she didn’t seem to notice. Neither spoke a word while they waited for the car.

It wasn’t until they were in the hover car and pulling away from the apartment building that Feng let out a string of foul language such that John had never heard her use before.

“What happened, Vera?” he asked after he got over the shock of hearing her swear. He pulled her across his lap and held her tightly.

“It’s like Wen said.” She began shakily. “After I left the office, she and I were talkin’ and Richie asked me if I still had the LeMat. When I said yes, he started goin’ off ‘bout how everythin’ bad happenin’ to him since then was all my fault and how he was gonna get the gun back even if he had ta kill me. I was gonna walk outta there but he grabbed me and started chokin’ me. I didn’t know what else to do!”

“It’s alright.” soothed John. At his words, Feng let go of the tears she had been holding back. Not sure how to react to the crying girl in his arms, he rubbed her shoulders awkwardly and grimaced when she buried her face against his neck. “You did good.”

She sniffed wetly into his collar. “I’m sorry.”

“Ya got nuthin’ to be sorry for, didn’t like this shirt much anyhow.” He dug in his pocket for a handkerchief and offered it to her. “Now, wipe yer nose off and do whatever it is you girls do to prettify yourselves.”

Feng accepted it with a small hiccup and began drying her eyes. “What did your grandfather want to talk to you about?”

John grinned widely. “He asked me to move to the City after the New Year festival.”

Feng’s mouth dropped open. She sat back, stunned before knocking him back into the seat with the force of her hug.

“That’s wonderful!”

“Yeah, he wants me to work with Chang.” John replied as soon as he got his breath back.

“Do you know where you’ll be staying?” she asked.

“The family apartments probably but at least we can see each other whenever we want. And, hey, I can pick ya up after school.”

The rest of the ride passed more quickly now that they were discussing their plans for the future. By the time they arrived at the restaurant, Feng seemed to have gotten over the incident with Richie.

Translations: Xian sheng – master, Mr. (Titles are placed after the name, ex. Smith xian sheng) Xiao jie – Miss (title) Tang san jiao – The direct translation is ‘sugar triangle’. It’s basically a steamed bun in the shape of a triangle filled with brown sugar. Gong gong – Grandfather Mei guan xi – it’s alright Wo mei ne me lao. – I’m not that old

Fun facts: Xi’an – also known as Chang’an, the ancient capitol of several Chinese dynasties until it was moved to Beijing at the start of the Qing dynasty in 1644 CE. The city includes several palaces and was surrounded by a wall fifteen to eighteen meters thick, the majority of which is still standing. While Xi’an had long been a center for trade and commerce, the city came into a golden age as the starting point of the Silk Road, flourishing at a time when Europe was in the midst of the Dark Ages. The outskirts of modern day Xi’an are also the site of the famous Terracotta Warriors, an entire army of 8,099 life-size warriors and horses constructed out of terracotta clay to protect the tomb of Qin Shi Huang di, the first emperor of China and founder of the Han dynasty. Today, the city is one of the largest industrial centers in western China and is an amazing place to visit. Official Xi’an Tourism Website

Previous - Chapter Four | Next - Chapter Five: Part II



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