BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE

CLIO

Something To Think On: Chapter 12
Wednesday, July 29, 2009

M/I. Post-BDM. Plotting the course.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2254    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

(Mouse-over for Chinese translations.)
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Something To Think On
by clio
Chapter Twelve

He found Jayne at the entrance to her shuttle. The big man was leaning in the doorway, looking around the room almost (though it wasn’t a word he’d ever before used to describe Jayne) thoughtfully.

“So?”

The merc turned toward him and eyed him for a bit; then nodded. “Yeah. I reckon I’ll go.”

Hands pushed in his pockets, lips pulled into a tight line, he breathed out a sigh of relief and nodded, like to convince himself he’d heard right. It’d been the thing that’d worried him most, in truth. “Can’t say I won’t be glad to have you along. Even through it all, I conjure I’m a mite better with you than without.”

The man to his left smirked. “Aw, hell, Mal. You’re gonna make me blush.”

He smiled a little despite himself, then took a deep breath, aiming to get to business. “Well, we’ve got a load to do. I told Wash –” Stopped short and shook his head, muttered to himself. “Jesus, you’d think I could remember.”

The merc nodded but didn’t look over at him (was still looking into her shuttle). “I’ve been doin’ it, too, past few days. Caught myself wonderin’ just yesterday if the Shepherd might wanna lift some weights, like he was right there. It’s just all this dyin’ –” He stopped short and looked over. “Sorry. Didn’t mean that.”

Tried his best to ignore that, carrying on with what he’d meant to say: “Zoe. I told Zoe to steer us in for a supply run. And there’s a derelict yard I want us to take a look at. Might be able to find a Hornet-class that’d do us good for this.” He nodded in the direction Jayne was still looking. “Shuttle’s not gonna do it. Serenity’d have to get in too close. She’d be scanned soon as we passed Bellerophon.”

The man didn’t look over, just gave a nod. “Yeah. Kinda what I figured. What about coin?”

Shook his head. “Won’t be a problem.”

Jayne cocked an eyebrow. “How’s that?”

“It just won’t.” A beat, and something occurred to him. “‘What you figured.’ If you figured we’d be picked up for sure trying to take the shuttle in, why’d you decide to come?”

Jayne rolled his eyes over at him. “C’mon, Mal. Weren’t no way in hell you weren’t gonna come up with a better plan than that.” He eyed the man but didn’t say nothing for a time, so the gunman shrugged. “Aw, I don’t know. I just got to thinkin’ about what if it was little Matty in there.”

“Your brother?” Couldn’t hold back his snort of a laugh, and shot him an amused look.

The big man shuffled a bit. “Or my momma....”

“Your mother?”

“Or Vera....”

“Your gun?”

The merc waggled his eyebrows. “Hell, Vera weren’t just my gun, Mal.” Then, quick: “You want me to go, or don’tcha? You keep second-guessin’ me, I may change my mind. Only point I’m tryin’ to make is she’s somethin’ like family.” A beat. “If, you know, your family had in it a real, real hot sister who was a whore.” He shrugged and grinned. “You know, family.”

***

It’d struck him for some time that the Jayne Cobb currently living on his boat, working his jobs, was a Jayne Cobb some ways different than the liar he’d threatened to toss into the black after the Ariel heist.

Or maybe it wasn’t so much that Jayne was changing (he remembered too well the man’s threats before they went to Miranda, his near refusing to take any part in helping out “strays”). Maybe it was just like the man said: the thing that was changing was the people he called family.

There’d been hints of it all along, he reckoned, little moments of protectiveness or care that you mostly ignored because the bigger picture said something so different. But it wasn’t until the Shepherd and the Companion’d left Serenity that he truly took notice, because it was then the man, instead of trying to protect the crew from those set out to hurt them, started trying to protect the crew from its captain, from him.

Not so many days after they’d left the preacher on Haven, he’d come into the galley – grunted a hello without looking and went to dish some slop into his bowl. (Heard Wash mutter under his breath: “Well, hello to you, too.”) Dropped his bowl to the table with a clatter, pulled out his chair, and set to work on whatever the horrible mess Kaylee’d made this time was, without looking up.

To his left, Jayne’s hands came down loud against the table. “I tell you what, I’ve had just about enough outta you.”

Still chewing, he lifted his chin up toward the merc, his eyebrows raised, voice flippant, lilting, mocking. “Oh, have you, now? Let me see if I’ve got this straight.” Jabbed a finger toward him. “You’ve had enough. Out of me.”

A single nod, Jayne’s eyes narrow and angry. “You’re damn right I have. Me and everyone else here, too. They just don’t wanna say so. And you wanna know why? Let’s see –” (Counting out on the fingers of his left hand.) “You ain’t gotten us a decent job in weeks. You spend your time tearin’ into us ‘bout nothin’. Made me move my weights when they’ve been in the cargo hold for a gorram year. Hell, you been yelling at Kaylee – yellin’! At Kaylee! Gorramit, I know she can be annoyin’, what with her bein’ so chipper all the time. But she ain’t never done nothing to warrant your bein’ an ass to her, an’ her chipper is a damned sight better than your bitter.”

He took a couple deep breaths, trying to calm himself. “Point is: we put up with all that pìhuà without complainin’ – not too much, nohow –” A beat. “I reckon the least you could do is let us eat our gorram dinner in peace.”

And, not quite knowing what to say to that, he’d stood up (chair scraping loud against the floor) and, with a fierce look around the table, turned on his heel and walked out of the room.

It didn’t spell the end of his anger. No, that would last a good while on: maybe till they buried Wash, and he realized his anger hadn’t done the man no good. Or maybe it was with him still.

Hadn’t spelled the end of his anger, but it did spell the beginning of a kind of respect toward Jayne that hadn’t been there before. Because it hadn’t been just himself Jayne’d been thinking on.

***

The two of them stood in silence for a bit, both looking into the shuttle. After a spell, Jayne let out a breath; pulled back, like he was about to leave. “I tell you what, though, I can’t rightly understand how a woman who left that there Training House barely hangin’ on to the clothes on her back has so gorram much in there to trip over.”

Funny enough, it was a thing that’d never occurred to him.

The shuttle was maybe a little emptier than it had been when she’d lived in it before – no wall tapestries or carpets or any of them shimmeries that’d hung from the ceiling, and there were fewer bits of furniture and a few other absences he could note (captures, that was it: all of her framed captures were gone). But there was more than there should’ve been. And it wasn’t just things she’d picked up in the past few months. The chess board: that’d been here when she’d lived here before. That little elephant. The box of her childhood wonders. And that red sofa.

But hadn’t the red sofa been gone when she’d been gone? He pulled to mind an awkward conversation with her when she’d first got back, him sitting with her on the hard cot that the shuttle had had when he’d first bought the Firefly. Tried to call to mind the look of the room, then, but all he could remember was her smell.

But surely he’d noticed it before then. He’d staggered there that time like he had a hundred times since she’d left, times when he needed a refuge (it was just that that time, she’d surprised him by being there). He couldn’t remember the look of the room, not precisely – his mind, he reckoned, had been too busy trying to set it right to notice what was wrong – but he could remember the feeling of emptiness.

Yes, surely the sofa’d been gone, and all her things with it. A single trunk in the middle of the room was all he remembered to be left. He knew about the trunk, because he’d heard Simon talking to her about it, during one of their waves he’d overheard (their Chinese spoken in the Sihnonese dialect, but he could still make bits of it out). He knew, because he’d gone through it. Pocketed that scarf, and the captures.

He choked a little over his words: “Guess I never much thought about –” But when he looked to his left, Jayne’d already gone.

“She didn’t take it with her.”

Jumped near a foot. “Bwaa!” Swinging his head toward the doctor: “Gǒuzǎizi! Do you have to be gorram everywhere?”

Simon shrugged. “I fear you’re stuck with me for a while yet.” He pushed past Mal, walked right on into the shuttle Mal and Jayne had been just watching, like he owned it or something. Walked over to the shuttle’s Cortex and started rummaging through it, like he owned that, too, but kept talking: “The sofa. She didn’t take it with her. She told Kaylee she couldn’t take it and asked her to keep it for her. Actually, she left a lot of things here, boxes of things. Boxes that were lined all along the wall of the infirmary for months. You told me you’d have to kick me off the ship and find a tidier doctor. Didn’t you ever wonder what all of that was?”

He watched Simon at the Cortex from where he leaned against the shuttle’s entryway. “S’pose I just assumed it was something or other medical.”

Some beats of silence, and then the boy took a breath and turned his head back over his shoulder. “Aren’t you curious? About why she’d leave her things?”

He gave his best noncommittal shrug. “I couldn’t tell you. I ain’t got a clue what goes through her mind.”

He narrowed his eyes. “Yes you do. You may not realize it, but you do, because you’re just the same. She left these things for the same reason why you told Zoe when we were back in the galley not to come.”

“I need Zoe to fly my boat.”

The doctor nodded slowly. “Yes, and to keep flying it in case you don’t come back. You want Serenity to live on in the world, because it means you’ll live on.”

Muttered under his breath: “Ain’t you the cheerful fellow.” Then, swallowing: “So you’re saying –”

“They’re gifts, all of this. Things she wanted us to have, in case she –” He broke off.

“In case she died. You can say it. In case she died.”

“Yes.”

The crackle of the ship’s intercom, then, and Zoe’s voice from the bridge: “Captain, we’re landing on Beylix. You want to head up this way now?”

He took a breath. “Guess I’m off to buy myself a boat.”

***

“Sir?” It was that same night, after Jayne had told him off in the galley. He was laying back in his bunk, staring at that gorram capture, the one he’d taken from the trunk when she left. He stared at it a mite too often, partly to see her, to hear her voice, partly to keep himself from forgetting her words, words that damned him, words he didn’t much need the capture to remember: “That man doesn’t know what he wants.”

He shoved it to the side when he heard Zoe’s voice from the hatch above. Cleared his throat. “Something I can do for you?”

Her boots on his ladder, and then she was standing in his bunk, her hands on her hips. “Wanted to talk to you about something.”

He stared at her from where he lay splayed on his bed, a hand behind his head; he tried to project the nonchalance, disinterest, maybe even disdain he’d been working so hard on since she’d left. “So, talk.”

She didn’t smile; just watched him, those cat-eyes of hers narrowed a bit. She opened her mouth to speak; her breath caught for a second before she forged on. “Jayne was maybe a little hard just then.”

He grinned a bit, but it didn’t feel warm. It felt spiteful. “You come here to apologize for him? Maybe you should tell him he should do that himself.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Didn’t say I thought he was wrong, or that he had anything much to apologize for. Just that he was a little hard.”

He sat up straight, threw his legs over the side of the bed. With something like disbelief on his face: “So you came down to my bunk to tell me he was right?”

A brief, businesslike nod. “He was right about us not having work. He was right about how you’ve been, with the crew. And I know you don’t give much thought to Jayne and his opinion, but I wanted to tell you –”

She stopped; took a deep breath. He stood up, so he was facing her. He had a height advantage on her. Not much, but a little bit. Hands on his hips, mirroring her stance: “Well? Spit it out, Zoe.”

She fixed her eyes on his. “I thought you should know that Wash and I are talking about having a baby. Not going to, necessarily. He’s got his share of concerns, mostly to do with this place. And he’s right to have them. So if we decide to, well – if something hasn’t changed here, it may just be that Serenity’s not a place we’d want to stay. Not a place we’d want our baby born.”

He didn’t know for sure, but he felt pretty certain the color’d gone right out of his face. He just stared at her. And it didn’t matter none that he was taller than her: he felt about five inches high. “You telling me you’d leave me?”

She sighed, and her face softened. She tilted her head. “Just giving you something to think on.”

***

“So, what do you think, Sir?”

His eyes scanned over every inch of the Hornet. She was smaller than Serenity. Her bridge was narrow and tight, though the glass screen that curved around the sides of the room for visibility made her feel airy and open, even exposed. She had three bunks and a small infirmary, all spacious enough, off a central artery of the lower deck. The upper deck housed the engine room and a narrow galley. What Serenity had on her was her cargo hold, that open piece of space that felt like it went on forever. Needed a space like that, out in the black, to keep from going stir-crazy.

Yes, the Hornet was smaller, all the rooms a little lower, all the hallways a little tighter. Made a man feel like he’d suddenly grown, himself. She wouldn’t have done forever. But for a trip like this, she was just what they needed.

He cut his eyes toward Zoe, quick, and then back at the boat. Cleared his throat and called in through the main hatch: “Kaylee?”

The girl came tumbling out into the dust of Beylix, her coveralls covered in the black of the engine. “Looks all right to me, Cap’n. She’ll take you where you want to go. And there’re a couple things I can do to give your thrusters some extra pick-up. Get you there all the quicker, and get you out in a hurry if it comes to that.”

He shook his head. “Don’t know we’re gonna have time for that, Kaylee. I just want to know if she’s spaceworthy now.”

Her response was as sharp and fast as he’d ever gotten from her, her voice a bit higher than normal: “I don’t care what you think you’ve got time for. If you’re takin’ Simon, I’m gonna make gorram sure your boat’s in order.” It took him by surprise. By the time he’d nodded once, though, she was out of sight, headed back toward Serenity.

He stood by his first mate for a spell of quiet, thinking on Kaylee’s response. She was scared. Scared for Simon, because she was scared he’d fail. Without looking at Zoe, he asked the question that worried him, soft (almost under his breath). “You think I can fly her?”

She shrugged. “You can fly Serenity.”

He shook his head. “No I can’t, not the way you can fly Serenity. You think I can fly her like she needs to be flown?”

“I think you’ll try your damnedest.”

Shook his head again. “Not what I asked.”

She bowed her head, her voice, when she spoke, low. “No, it’s not. You asked me if I think you’re good enough to save her life.” She turned her head toward him, watched him for a while. (The wind of Beylix catching the curls around her face.) “You and I’ve been in war, Mal. You know as well as I do nobody can promise you she’s not going to die. But I have been in war with you. And I feel safe promising you, if it happens, it won’t be your fault.”

He took a deep breath. Hands in his pockets, his voice a bit ragged: “Zoe, I know we don’t much talk about it. But I gotta know. Do you think –”

“If I’d thought it was your fault, I wouldn’t be here. Don’t you doubt that for a second.”

A long moment of quiet, again, the two of them side by side, eyes forward, watching the Hornet, like she might up and talk to them. And then: “You and Wash ever think about what you were gonna name that little one, if you ever had her?”

Her eyes widened a touch, in surprise, maybe a little pain. And then a little smile. “Grace. We figured we’d call her Grace.”

One short nod, and he looked over at the salesman, so much like that other salesman, from what almost seemed another life, back when he’d bought Serenity. At a gesture of his head, the man approached. “You make a decision? Reckon you’d be happy with her."

He nodded, his eyes back on the boat. “We’ll take her.” A beat. “Grace. That’s a right nice name, Zoe. A right nice name.”

***

end chapter 12

COMMENTS

Saturday, November 28, 2009 9:37 PM

BYTEMITE


Fun with Jayne. :) The first time we really see him, he was present in other places, even doing things, but this one is the only one with any Jayne centric-ness. Though I suspect in future chapters he'll have to be more present.

The anger is definitely still with Mal, even after Wash has been buried. What would have happened if Zoe left? Awful, her leaving, awful, her staying.

Zoe at the end. The ship name was a gift, but I still like how you lead up to it.

Monday, August 6, 2012 11:55 AM

AMDOBELL


I really like how Jayne has grown in this chapter and it was definitely up to Mal's 'family' to put him straight on his behaviour so that they could go on working with him. Could see it happening like that too. I've always thought Jayne saw more than folk gave him credit for and this part is a good illustration of that notion. I like that a plan is coming together and now Mal has picked out the hornet and Kaylee, bless her, won't let Mal cut corners when Simon is going to be on the ship as well. I did smile when Zoe said if she and Wash had a child she would have called her Grace and then the Captain tells the salesman he will take the ship and it almost felt like he was calling the ship 'Grace'. Made me smile. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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Something To Think On: Epilogue
M/I. Post-BDM. In which your author gives you a glimmer of hope.

Something To Think On: Chapter 19
M/I. Post-BDM. The journey reaches its end.

Something To Think On: Chapter 18
M/I. Post-BDM. Beginning and ending with a kiss. Nearing the end.

Something To Think On: Chapter 17
M/I. Post-BDM. On coming full circle.

Something To Think On: Chapter 16
M/I. Post-BDM. On lying and learning to let go.

Something To Think On: Chapter 15
M/I. Post-BDM. The things we risk and the things we hide.

Something To Think On: Chapter 14
M/I. Post-BDM. On Miranda and descending into the dark. Here there be monsters.

Something To Think On: Chapter 13
M/I. Post-BDM. On making waves.

Something To Think On: Chapter 12
M/I. Post-BDM. Plotting the course.

Something To Think On: Chapter 11
M/I. Post-BDM. More on giving, and some punching.