Something From Nothing 7/?
Thursday, March 30, 2006

James talks some more, maybe his parents can learn from his example?


There’s not much to say about this one, really. It just is.

Rating: G.

Disclaimer: Only one is mine, the rest belong to Joss.

Comments: Kaylee skipped a flashback or two? Bad Kaylee. I'm sure she'll get to them eventually.

Mouse over the Chinese for the translations.

Feedback: Yes, please. I'll be your friend. Comment here or send emails:

Previous Chapters: one, two, three, four, five and six

*** Chapter 7: ***

“It ain’t nothin’.” Jayne frowned and tried to move away from her, but she pressed him down into the chair. “Kaylee, you don’t gotta…”

Her fingers trailed softly over the purple shoulder, his skin swollen and shiny. She did that to him, it was the last in a long line of things she’d done. The muscles shifted under her touch and she looked up to see him clenching his jaw.

“Don’t be such a jing xiao gou, Jayne.”

He glared and pouted, but sat still anyway as she applied the salve. It was automatic, the soft humming as she did it, the way she blew air through her lips to cool the sting.

Behind her, she could hear the soft, melodic sound of James talking to himself. It amused her, how easily he took to the ship, how much he’d made the shuttle home in just a few days. He busied himself checking all the nooks and crannies.

She’d gone straight to Inara’s shuttle as soon as they’d woken up and found them sitting up in bed, playing some game with their hands. It was still hard to accept, the realization that he didn’t need her so much, even if that was what she wanted. Wanted him to be able to spend more than twenty minutes away from her without worrying.

But then he’d looked up and she saw everything in his face as she’d swooped down and gotten him in a cuddle. Felt it in the way his hands both swatted her face away from his tummy, but held on like he didn’t ever want to let go.

Kaylee didn’t know which one of them needed the other more.

“Uh… thanks.”

She looked down at Jayne, sitting there with his sleeve rolled up and his shoulder bruised. He was a large man, always had been, and she wasn’t stupid when it came to his life. She knew what kind of violence he’d done.

Those arms alone could crush her without thinking, squeeze her until there was no air left.

“You’re welcome.” She gave a small smile. “Really.”

He did think, though, she knew it. She could remember so many years ago, lying in his arms, how gentle he’d been then. Remembered how much he’d given her, how little he’d asked back.

“You want ‘Renity?”

Kaylee laughed as Jayne frowned.


“He wants to know if you want to hold Serenity.” She explained. “To help you not cry.”

It broke her heart, watching the way Jayne nodded seriously to her son. Their son. The way he took the small wooden toy and held it gently in his hands. Like he cared as much about it as James did. As if it really would stop his tears.

“Ow, Mama.”

James looked at the shoulder.

“Yes.” She nodded. “Big ow.”

Little eyes blinked, wide and curious.

“Gonna kiss it better?”

Big eyes blinked, wide and curious.

“Yeah, you gonna?”

“Don’t know about that.” She laughed. “I don’t think it’s that big an ow.”

James nodded his agreement and wandered back over to inspect the rest of their belongings that they were trying to unpack.

“So, uh.” Jayne grinned. “Just how big an ow we talkin’ here? I gotta go get myself shot?”

Kaylee patted the bulk of his arm, large and soft all at the same time. Her fingers slid around so that she held his elbow for a second, just a second, then she let go.

“Thank you, Jayne. I mean it.”

“Yeah.” He looked at her. “I know.”

She bit her lip and looked off to the side, wondered if he really did.

“Kaylee?” His hand circled her wrist and she looked back down at him. “You can tell me, you know. Anything.”

“Maybe.” She sighed. “Not yet.”

Jayne nodded.

“I can wait.”

They stayed still for a moment.

“If you wanted, though?” He asked. “Promise me one thing?”


“Don’t lock your door no more. That things hurts like a mother…”


They laughed over breakfast. She loved hearing them laugh.

“No. No.” Mal held out his hand, urging them to stop it. “It weren’t nothin’ to be lookin’ at.”

“I disagree, Sir.” Zoe’s face remained expressionless, but her eyes shone. “You looked mighty cozy on that bed.”

“A little too cozy.”

Inara supplied as she straightened her back and made her voice crisp, but Kaylee could see the glimmer of her eyes as Mal raised his eyebrow at her, she saw the look that passed between them.

She waited for the usual remark from Mal, an easy opening for a vicious dig. It didn’t come and the next time she looked up, Mal was smiling and his hand rested on the table, sitting close to Inara’s.

“How bad’s the damage?” Mal asked. “On the engine?”

“Ain’t gonna lie, Cap’n.” She answered. “It ain’t good. That mechanic didn’t know nothin’ ‘bout Serenity. Be a while ‘til I got her runnin’ smooth again, but she’s flyin’ just fine as we are.”

“Ship’s gonna fly.” James told them all seriously.

“That’s right.” Kaylee kissed the top of his head. “Ship is flying.”

He nodded his agreement.

“An’ nice people.” His head tilted back and his eyes looked up at her. “Nice.”

“Very.” She agreed.

“He callin’ us nice?” Mal grinned. “I think there’s hope for him, yet.”

“Go on.” Kaylee urged James. “Tell them, tell them who’s nice.”

“’Nara.” He pointed as everyone grinned. “An’ Ray Ray.”

“Ray.” River insisted with a sigh as everyone turned to laugh. “Just once.”

Kaylee whispered in James’ ear and he pointed again.

“An Cap’n. An’ Book. An’ the shy man.”

“What?” Simon blinked.

“No, sweetie.” Kaylee blushed. “It’s just Simon.”

“Gotta admit, doc.” Wash grinned. “You were pretty backwards in coming forwards when you first got on, I reckon the kid’s got you pegged.”

“An So!” James wasn’t about to have his audience stolen. “An’ Wash!”

“An’ you was worried about his learnin’ curve.” Jayne made a face at River. “So there.”

“I was obviously wrong.” She poked out her tongue. “Big.”

“Yeah.” Jayne stopped grinning and looked down at his plate. “Whatever.”

Kaylee frowned.

“C’mon, sweetie.” She nudged James. “You can say Jayne.”

“S’got a Cobb nose.”

The table went silent. She saw Jayne’s shoulder’s shaking, then heard a little whistle of escaped air. It wasn’t long before it turned into a chuckle. Then everyone was laughing again.

Kaylee missed family.


She kneels in the dust, not that it matters. She's got dust everywhere, it's coating her skin, layers of it stuck in the cracks of her elbows, in the creases between her breasts, in the shell of her ear. Caked on with sweat.

Her hands are raw as she dips the sponge into the bucket of water and slaps it back onto the wall, dripping. If she looks hard enough, she can see the skin of her hands cracked and bloated.

But it's getting dark and Kaylee just doesn't have enough energy to care.

Her muscles ache and her belly grinds into itself with hunger, her neck screams. They spent all day hauling bodies to the edge of town. James wouldn't let her go and she ended up wrapping him around her back in a sling made from the canvas of what was once a storefront.

It's almost laughable, that first hour. The tears, the shock, the horror, the inability to look at a hand as she picked it up between her thumb and forefinger and held it as far away as possible. Lightly adding it to the carefully set out space.

They'd had to get over that sensibility quickly enough, all of them.

Kaylee doesn't ever want to see any more death, for as long as she lives. All she wants to do, all she should do, is curl up in a little ball, hug her son and sleep. Sleep until there's nothing left to do but wake up. The town still has many things to do tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that.

But there are stains on her father's wall tonight.

"Hey, little boy."

Kaylee drops the sponge as ice shoots up her spine, she hasn't seen him all day.

"Stay away from him."

It's only a second, five steps, five little steps from washing the shop wall to tugging James up from sleep, from his safe little haven inside the cot. He shifts restlessly in her arms.

"Well, well, Mama Frye, knew you wouldn't be far away."

"Don't." She can't stop clutching James to her chest. "Just don't. It's over, okay? It's done, it's over. Leave us alone."

Something flickers in his eyes and the muscles of his jaw twitch.

"You shouldn't be out here." It confuses her, the sudden step back. "So late. Shouldn't you be lookin' after him?"

"I... I am." Kaylee doesn't know what to say. "Just... I was.. I had to..."

She can see him eyeing the small progress she's made.

"Be easier to paint over that, wouldn’t it?"

Her throat closes up and she can't do this, can't stand here and have a normal conversation with this man. She wonders if she can have a normal anything again.

Her brain interrupts with an image of drawing a brush over the wall, thick with fresh, glistening paint. Covering it, taking it away from sight with the barest of strokes.

She imagines trying to come back here day after day knowing what was just underneath and it twists in her gut.

"I don't have paint." Kaylee says instead.

"I do." And there's something there, something in his voice that makes her stand up straighter, makes her pay attention. "I got a whole heap of it, if you were to play nice."

"No." Her fingers strain not to clutch too hard at the bundle in her arms. "That will never happen."

"You sure?" He steps forward and she steps back, feels the edge of the workbench hit her hips. "I got a lot of things can make it easier for a mama and her kid. Especially a mama like you."

A thought splinters her brain and she nearly chokes on it.

"That’s where you...? You plundered the town while we was cleaning it?"

"I got what I needed to get by." He shrugs, but there's nothing casual about his movement. "You remember that when three dozen of you are fightin’ over rations for eight and your boy here is crying 'cause he's hungry."

He's close enough to lay his hands on the bench on either side of her and she can smell him as he leans in.

"We're not in that vault no more." She reminds him. "And I will scream."

It makes him laugh.

"We're all in the same boat now, little girl." But it's not funny. "Vernon, next door? He's got two girls left and a powerful need to feed 'em. You think he'll take your side over mine? You sure about his loyalty, are ya?"

She really isn’t and he knows it.

“Why me?” It bubbles up, like air in a pot of water. “Why?”

He laughs again, low and throaty.

“I like you, Mama Frye, you got fire.”

She doesn’t feel that way, standing there shrinking away from him, her arms wrapped tight around the only thing she has left. Doesn’t feel anything but cold as he reaches up to play with her hair.

“You look after your boy, now.” Her eyes widen and search his, trying to find the threat she thinks she’s just heard, but she can find nothing except a smile and it scares her. He pushes back and away from her with a little flourish. “And you let me know if you change your mind. My offer still stands.”


“Jayne.” He felt her hand grab him in the hallway. “About before…”

“It ain’t nothin’.” But he wasn’t sure if she believed him or not, wasn’t sure if he believed himself. “Don’t matter what the kid calls me.”

Her eyes were wide when she looked up at him.

“Yes, it does.” She insisted. “I just didn’t teach him your name, ‘cause… ‘cause I didn’t know what you wanted him to call you. I didn’t want to make another mistake.”

“I…” His throat closed up. “Whatever he wants.”

“Jayne.” She glared.

“I’m his daddy, Kaylee.” He ran a hand through his hair. “But he don’t know that. So why don’t you tell me what he’s supposed to call me?”

“He could.” Her voice was hopeful and he couldn’t breathe. “He could know, if you wanted. That’s what I’m askin’.”

*** more soon...


Thursday, March 30, 2006 1:21 AM


OOoooo! Great writing as always! The content of the flashbacks are so creepy :O

Thursday, March 30, 2006 3:36 AM


<“I’m his daddy, Kaylee.” He ran a hand through his hair. “But he don’t know that. So why don’t you tell me what he’s supposed to call me?”

“He could.” Her voice was hopeful and he couldn’t breathe. “He could know, if you wanted. That’s what I’m askin’.”>

Girl, so dear, so haunting.

Thursday, March 30, 2006 3:57 AM


Let me get this straight, you've been sick and you still write this well? Wow.

Hope you're feeling better!

I held my breath as James went around naming everyone, waiting to get to Jayne! Can't wait until he calls him Daddy! *hand on heart*

I can feel the ending coming and I wish it could go on forever! It's my 'fix' for the day!

Thursday, March 30, 2006 8:12 AM


I LOVE how you stopped before letting us know what Jayne wants to be called. I'm sure I already know, but I want to hear him say it.

Hey! I just made a reference to the BDM without even tryin'!

Thursday, March 30, 2006 10:07 AM


Wonderful! I'm glad you're back.

Thanks for that last dose of crack!

Thursday, March 30, 2006 3:00 PM


Yep...this some good quality fic right here. And angst to no end....though I gots to wonder if Jayne will need to give the mystery abuser a few lessons in manners or has Kaylee already handled that? Hmm...something for another chapter, perhaps?



Thursday, March 30, 2006 3:08 PM


Bleh..I'm about to go over on LJ and review. Another excellent flashback! I think those are my favorite part...

"Stay away from him..." OOOOH! The angst! 10!10!

Thursday, March 30, 2006 4:57 PM


I do not get it - how's a guy get so wrong? Flashback Man, I mean. I desperately want Jayne to go back plantside and kill him.
That is, unless Kaylee already did it?
Anxiously awaiting answers to these questions and more...

Thursday, March 30, 2006 4:59 PM


Gah!!! Stupid not-typing-right fingers...
I meant "PLANETside" not "plant".
Though, on second thought, that actually sounds kinda cool.

Thursday, March 30, 2006 6:41 PM


yeah so i wanna kill this man already anyone else. doin a good job at makin him evil, i love it

Thursday, March 30, 2006 9:07 PM


Hope he's already dead, very violent and painful death, better be not alive anymore, what Jayne's wrath would do to him would be a lot worse than being raped, skinned alive and eaten by a bunch of Reavers...

I'm here holding my breath...the instant James will know and call Jayne "daddy".
I can see Jayne crying here.

Get well soon my dear Jacqui.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 3:02 AM


i REALLY don't like flashback man now, not that i ever liked him, but now i REALLY don't.

and yes, get better!!!



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