BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

BARDOFSHADOW

Another Cobb in the Wheel
Sunday, October 17, 2010

a little AU story about our Most Beloved Crew. Someone unexpected shows up and Kaylee gets a lesson in captaining, whether she needs it or not.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1753    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Disclaimer: If I was Joss Whedon, it all were mine, but I ain't, so its not. I own the typos.

This is AU, so there are Dead Men Walking. And remember that the plotbunny made me do it. Oh, yeah, and don't listen if it tells you this is chapter one. It isn't, coz it's not. One Shot. Yeah. 'Swat I said...

And Huge thanks to BYTEMITE for taking a look at it and helping to get this into a readable shape and for making me realize, while people can read my stories, they can't read my mind. She also supplied Rivers line and fixed up Simon.

oh, and maybe a quarter-spoiler for "Ariel" that I found.

**********

Serenity was no place for children.

Everyone and the captain agreed on that.

Well, maybe not Zoe, but she never said anything. She and Wash had been more or less trying to have one off and on for years, and still were split on that subject. But something said she would eventually get her way and have her child and both the Captain and Wash had to live with it, whether they liked it or not.

The first one to bring a child on Serenity was one of the most unlikely candidates, though…..

Many things could and had been said about Malcolm Reynolds and his crew and about his hired muscle Jayne Cobb in particular, not only by aforementioned crew.

Jayne told stories of his “Adventures” from before he joined Malcolm Reynolds, he told stories from when he was small and Ma Cobb did her best to raise him and his siblings’ right. But Jayne never spoke of the time when he left the gorram backwater planet he was born on for a life of crime.

Never.

Until the day Serenity stopped on the misnamed Outer-Rim-Planet Eden to re-fuel and re-supply and everyone got off the ship for a spell to remember what dirt under one’s shoes felt like and run all kinds of errands. Captain sorted out assignments, set a rendezvous time and everyone scattered. All were back when they were supposed to, give or take a few minutes, with what or whom they were supposed to; ready to report, load cargo and what have ya, have a meal, enjoy the rest of the day and looking forward to the night. Everything as it should be and the same on every planet they stopped. There even were two new passengers this time, the extra coin they brought sorely needed, a well-paying job that was only slightly illegal and there would be real food on the table tonight. Business as usual…

Even allowing for stragglers, it became clear that Jayne was late.

He had been seen by Wash and Zoe, stopped by Serenity to deliver what he had been sent out for and gone off with a shopping list and a pocketful of credits from Simon to get more medical supplies and a birthday present for River. The big Mercenary still didn’t like the fancy-pants Doctor none, but he also still felt bad about what he nearly done on Ariel. Finding out some of what had been done to River woke his protective side. And he admired her fighting skills. So he took the money and the list and went about his merry.

Now Serenity’s Muscle had managed to go missing on a tiny little moon with only one major city, a very small one at that and there was a lot of speculating.

Like he’d gotten a better offer on another ship and gone off. All his weapons, with the exceptions of what was on his person, were in his bunk though, most noticeably his favorite gun Vera. And if there was one thing that Jayne would never leave behind, it was his weapons, especially not his favorite. Wash (Vera? He gave that gun a name? Jien tah-duh guay!) suggested that every couple needed a break from each other every once in a while and narrowly avoided having to sleep on the common room couch.

Kaylee feared he was dead and began to fret. They'd lost so much recently she was worried they couldn't keep their odd little family intact.

Zoe and the Captain suspected he’d drunk himself into a coma or was held captive by some whores that had wore him out. Or maybe he’d started a fight and had to spend the rest of the night behind bars.

Simon thought he took the money and run or was busy selling the meds on the black-market to buy booze or more likely another weapon.

Shepherd Book stayed out of the discussion, mainly because he was in bed with a bout of chicken pox he picked up at their last stopover.

Inara had a client on the neighboring moon with the Magistrate there and would be gone until tomorrow, which also prevented her from speculating.

River announced that he had been killed and gutted by the Organ-Mafia for spares, his remains made into sausage and sold to hungry eaters.

Simon took her to the infirmary and gave her another shot.

Right into the middle of their speculations walked the missing Merc, with a shiner and a split eyebrow, a Knapsack full of medication and a present strapped to his back and a large-ish, blanket wrapped bundle pressed to his chest.

Kaylee was the first to notice him and stopped fretting and started smiling again, which alerted the others, Mal and Zoe stood with identical stances and looks on their faces that said “Explain” without actually saying anything and the rest of those present, in this case just Wash, till Simon and River returned, clearly got ready to enjoy themselves.

Jayne just glared at them, looked all defensive and clutched the bundle tighter. “I’ll be in my bunk”, was all he said and was about to go just that way, when apparently he held whatever was in the blanket a little too tight, because the bundle began to move first and then to cry.

Wrapped in a rag fit for only the incinerator, was a little bit of humanity, dirty and skinny, covered in sores and equipped with a healthy set of lungs.

If’n he wanted to, Cap’n could really look menacing and right now he wanted to. He and Zoe stood beside each other in front of the chair Jayne sat on, the little girl cradled to his chest. She had stopped crying, sucked a while on a rag Kaylee had dipped in protein-milk and finally fallen asleep, snoring peacefully.

Simon sat nearby, waiting to get his hands on her and do some Doctor work. River sat in her usual chair and formed little animals out of protein, humming to herself. Wash leaned back in his chair, feet on another and watched the show. Kaylee sat and fretted again. Jayne swallowed and avoided looking at Zoe. Truth be told, she scared him more than the Cap'n at his meanest. And that was saying something.

He expertly began to rock the baby to keep her calm. Or maybe just to calm himself, he wasn’t sure.

Mal raised an eyebrow.

“Coun’t leave her there, Mal!” Jayne said defensively. “An’ you woun’t neither, if’n ya knew what was planned for her.”

“They wanted to eat her,” River helpfully supplied and squished the giraffe she had just formed. Jayne glared. Kaylee gasped. “Don’t listen to River, Kaylee-Bug, she’s having a bad spell. River, don't play with your food.”

“Yes, Cap’n,” Kaylee answered. River stuck her tongue out at Mal. Simon lamented how quickly his sister adapted to any new medicine he tried.

Jayne lifted the baby up to his shoulder in a move that clearly said he didn’t do this for the first time, which did not go unnoticed. She sighed contentedly and snuggled closer, raised a tiny little dirty fist and began to suck on her thumb. “Got her out from under Slavers. Own parents selling her off.”

“Never thought you a rescuer, Jayne,” said Zoe, and she exchanged a glance with Mal.

“Ain’t!” said Jayne and pulled the blanket covering his charge a little higher.

“Coulda fooled me.” Mal rubbed the bridge of his nose.

Up to this point, he hadn’t said a single word, hadn’t yelled or anything, not even ordered the child taken off Serenity, just stood there looking mad. Very unusual. Maybe he caught the chicken pox, too and was already feeling a mite feverish.

At the mention of slavers, both Mal and Zoe had tensed up. Everyone knew, both of them hated them with a passion, although the reason why was never talked about.

And the way Jayne held the little pooper pressed close to his chest, there was no reason to doubt that the story was true. Mal opened his mouth to say something, when Jayne continued speaking.

“Ain’t takin’ her to no Orphanage, neither. Seen them, she’d just get sold again to the highest bidder an’ none that would want her for a daughter.” He spit out and Simon made a face. “Seen them, know what’s going on…” His voice trailed off and if it hadn’t been Jayne, Malcolm would have sworn there were tears in the man’s eyes.

Jayne sniffed wetly and wiped his nose on his arm, while the other gently patted the back of the baby that clung like a monkey to his neck, still sound asleep. “No ordinary slavers, them. Took a wrong turn on the market and walked in on them hagglin’ wit’ a buyer.” He stopped talking again for a moment and shrugged.

By now even River had stopped humming to herself and listened. “Had the most credits and the faster knife. Slaver got a new hole in the belly, I got a shiner an’ the lil’ un…” Jayne looked up at his captain, face all wet and tortured. “They sold her to the nonce. Her own folks…”

Softhearted Kaylee silently began to cry and Simon reached for her hand. Wash sat up straighter in his chair and let go with a very creative string of Chinese. River crouched on the floor beside Jayne’s chair, leaning her head against his free arm.

Mal rubbed his solar plexus, as if someone had hit him. “Why her and not one of the others?” he asked, knowing as well as Jayne and Zoe did, that the little girl was just one of thousands all over the ‘Verse.

Looking down at the sleep flushed little face against his chest and a hitch in his voice, Jayne said so quietly they had to strain to hear it: “Cuz she looks exactly like my daughter when she died.”

No one said a word for a very long time and Wash (tyen shiao duh!) had narrowly avoided falling over with his chair in his surprise.

Finally Mal cleared his throat and asked: “Come again?” Sounded a bit shaken and who could blame him?

Jayne switched the sleeping child to his other arm. “When I left Pandora for my first job, my best friend Lottie went with me. Tried finding a job in a household or sump’in. Got hired on as security for a rich old fart with a young wife wanting travels. Lottie an’ me meet ever’ time ship got back to port. We was a mite lonely an’ got closer, what with bein’ friends an’ gone too far away from home. So we… got together… married, even. Really made it work, too, b’lieve it or not.”

“Huh!” Wasn’t clear if Mal or Wash said that, but nobody really cared.

"Boss was really shiny ‘bout it, giving Lottie a job cookin’ an' a little house an’ all an’ sometimes let me take ‘er along when we was gone for a while longer. Felt better ‘bout it, I guess with his wife so young an’ shiny an all an’ having a young buck with big guns on board. Hoped Lottie'd kept me busy in our bunk, y’know? Wife was a looker, but a bit highfalutin’. Even gave me a raise on account me bein’ a famblyman an’ all.” The baby went back onto the other shoulder, still sound asleep and left a patch of drool behind.

“She’s teethin’, likeable to get the shi…. Squirts, too.”

Expert testing of the squishiness of the rump and Jayne’s story continued.

“After a year, Lottie said she was breedin’, so she went back to the house we’d set up. Still lost it though, but tried again an’ this time made it all the way to bein’ new parents. Purty, shiny little thing, looked jes’ like her Ma an’ nothing like me. Hardly never cried, like Kaylee-Bird, shiny all the time. Even the boss lady loved her.”

Jayne had to stop again, fighting tears. Rubbing his whiskered cheek against the baby’s head, he took a deep breath, then another and again. Voice rough, he finally continued. “Wave came in one day when Emma was two. I was gone, Boss loaned me to a business partner needin’ a reliable man an’ I was the best he had. Young an’ stupid an’ full of grit, but the best. Told Lottie I’d be back in a week or so an’ when only three days was left, Lottie got a wave, her Ma was dying. Told her to wait for me, but she took off, saying the fambly needed her an’ she wanted to say her farewells afor it was too late…. Took Emma, too, so my Ma could see her first Grandchild an’ hers…”

Kaylee blew her nose into Simon’s hankie and Zoe sat down on Wash’s lap, hugging him.

River sat beside Jayne on the floor and murmured all kinds of highly imaginative threats in Chinese against fate.

Mal got a bottle of whiskey out of a locked box in the kitchen but no glasses. Popping the cork, he took a deep pull and handed the bottle to Zoe.

Jayne wiped his face with the hem of his T-Shirt, took the bottle from Zoe for a swig and accidentally gave it to River. She glared and smacked him on the shin. “Hun dan! Jen duh sh tyen tsai. Catching the rye leads to erratic behavior."

“Watch your gorram language!” Jayne hissed at her.

“How can she tell the difference?” asked Wash and received a wifely elbow in the ribs. It broke the tension somewhat, but everyone sobered up again when Mal sat down on another chair pointedly waiting for the rest.

He took the bottle back from River, drank and realized that no one sat on his other side he could pass it on to. Slamming the cork back in, he chucked the booze towards Zoe who caught it easily.

“Reavers?”

Jayne shook his head. “Pirates. Made it look like Reavers, but whole thing looked too clean fer it.” Without looking, he reached his free hand back towards Zoe, who handed him the open bottle. Jayne took a big swallow, stifled a belch, then coughed and said: ”Shou’nt be drinking wi’ a kid around. Ain’t settin’ a good example.”

Wash opened his mouth, but at a glare from Zoe closed it again and gave her an angelic smile.

“They thought loot wasn’t enough, so they took it out on the passengers," Mal elaborated. “I think I remember reading about it on the Cortex. Pirates always attacked passenger ships and for a while they were concentrating on the sector near...” It dawned on him and he went quiet again.

“Pandora.” finished Simon. “I remember it, too. This one time it made it on the Cortex because they had been especially vicious.”

Jayne cuddled the baby and remained silent. Tears ran down his face and everybody pretended not to see.

From under the table came River’s mournful voice. “They raped the women and the children, killing the love and the life and took Jayne away in a box and fed him to the worms.”

“Lao-tyen, boo” That was Zoe.

Zoe, who had been a soldier on the front line, seen and done a lot that would break most. Zoe, with silent tears streaming her cheeks. Now she reached out and squeezed Jayne’s shoulder. Ain't no one but Mal and River could ever understand how much the simple gesture meant to Jayne, and maybe not even them.

Mal cleared his throat. “Serenity ain’ no place for a child.” He got up from his chair and took the bottle from a glaring, teary eyed Kaylee. “Made it clear I don’t want any here.”

Swallowing a mouthful, he bent and looked under the table to where River sat. “Didn’t want no psychotic mind-reading fugitives neither.”

“Liou coe shway duh biao-tze huh hoe-tze duh ur-tze,” came the reply.

"Ain't like I never heard that one before from you," he easily countered.

Mal looked towards the guest quarters, raising his voice a little. “And sure as Hell didn’t want no Shepherd and his God on my gorram ship!” He turned back to the others. “Lesson in Captaining, Kaylee-Bird: Cap’n don’t pick his crew. ‘S the crew that picks the Cap’n.”

Walking towards the bridge, he stopped at the doorway and said over his shoulder: “Get the feeling though, that in our case it’s the gorram Ship doing the pickin’. Sure as guay ain’t me!”

Everybody stayed where they were, trying to get a grip on themselves and giving Jayne the chance to do the same.

The baby still slept, knowing she was as safe as she could ever be.

Zoe got up from Wash’s lap and moved over to the burners to make coffee, Simon absentmindedly took the tear drenched handkerchief from Kaylee and put it in his pocket, when Mal’s voice came over the intercom.

“Just don’t go naming her after me.”

COMMENTS

Sunday, October 17, 2010 9:50 AM

AMDOBELL


I really liked this and could so see Jayne ploughing in to rescue the little baby from a life of slavery and such. I'm thinking he might name her Lottie after her mother. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Sunday, October 17, 2010 9:58 AM

ANONYM


The death of Jayne's daughter is heartbeaking :'(

Looks like the 'verse gave him another chance!

Shiny piece you got here =)

Sunday, October 17, 2010 3:58 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Wow...you really channeled the various BDHs rather eerily here, BardofShadow. Mind you, that's a good thing, since this one-shot stands on one believing that Jayne would rescue an infant from being abused without going for the kinda cliche "Jayne's really a big softie at heart!"

Having Jayne being a widower and father? Wouldn't have been surprised if something like wouldn't have come up as part of Jayne's background had the series gone on longer...

Monday, October 18, 2010 7:10 AM

BYTEMITE


Amdobell: Baby's not related by blood, but that could be a nice sentiment.

Potential! Will Jayne become a big ol' softy? Will Mal by proxy? Will this be the push Zoe needs to convince Wash they ought to have kids? Will Inara fess up to her own desire for children?

All this and more?

Monday, October 18, 2010 9:49 AM

BARDOFSHADOW


@ Bytemite and Amdobell:
Somehow I get the increasingly eerie-ass feeling that y'all are ganging up on me with that eerie-ass Plotbunny..... :D

Monday, July 4, 2011 2:18 PM

TRAINBANDIT


I like it. I never was 100% comfortable with Jayne's depiction on the series of being almost totally heartless. I knew he had it in him. There may be tears.


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