Something From Nothing 11/?
Thursday, April 6, 2006

Sometimes you... oh, you all know what it's about. James. Kaylee. The horror, the angst...


Chapter eleven. To make up for the last one, there's no real flashbacks here. All plot-tastic goodness.

Rating: G.

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

Feedback: Yes please. Comment here or send an email:

Comment: Yes, I do realise that the implied comment here is "write fast or hide well". It doesn't need to be said.

Mouse over the Chinese for the translations.


Pssst, check it out!

Icon made by andraste_tree and the original cartoon sent to me by artemis_prime. Thank you ladies. You rock my socks.

Previous Chapters: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten


Chapter 11:


With every word she spoke, Kaylee could feel him getting more tense. She felt the anger in him, felt the way his movements grew tighter and more controlled. With every grind of his jaw, she felt herself being pushed further towards the edge.

The edge of what, exactly, she wasn't sure, she just knew she wasn't ready for it.

It wasn't up to her, though, he had asked her outright and he deserved an answer, whether he liked what he heard or not.

She'd had two years to think about him, to think about everything that had happened, why she'd left and why she might want to come back. Two years of the space she'd been looking for, the distance that had let her see things from a different angle.

Long nights spent with her hands cradling her swollen, distorted belly as it jumped and kicked at her, fingers playing chase with the lumps of feet that pushed out of her skin, hours wondering what Serenity was doing, wishing she could know.

Wishing she could come back, even if it was just to say sorry.

Sorry to Simon for dragging him through that. Sorry to everyone for being blind and making mistakes. Sorry to Jayne for not realizing earlier what had happened. For not seeing earlier that Inara had been right.

All those times she'd gone to him, pushed him to remain as distant as he could, and every time he was trying to be closer. Giving her exactly what she'd asked for without taking what he needed.

That realization had come to her too late, too late to turn around and agree with him. To tell him that she missed his hands on her, that she missed the feel of him against her, but most of all, she missed him. Feeling him wrap himself around her while she slept, the soft, gentle things he'd slip in when he thought she wouldn't notice.

Jayne was big and violent, had keen fighting skills and keener urges, but that wasn't everything about him. The more she'd looked, the more she'd seen and it ached that she'd missed it when she had the chance.

Somewhere along the way, she'd managed to convince herself that her memories were clouded, tinged just a little bit rosy with her loneliness. There was no way Jayne, in reality, could have been as sweet at times as she thought, no way that he really made her feel the things that ghosted through her veins when she thought of him.

It was an echo, a desire, the longing for something that was opposite to the reality she'd lived, that was what she'd convinced herself. She hadn't wanted him, so much as she'd wanted anything that wasn't what she had.

She hadn't even been back more than a few days before that theory had been shattered. Pulverized every time Jayne's skin touched hers. Large hands, yes, but so gentle.

And she didn't know how to tell him that, either, tell him that it caused an ache in her, curling deep low in her belly just to lie down next to him, the need to inch closer and close his arms around her.

So she sat awkwardly on the bed, her knees jutted towards his and her hands clenched tight, pressed between her kneecaps, pushing hard enough to leave bruises, to feel the grind of her knuckles give way.

Easier, just to describe in a monotone the days and weeks after, not allowing her voice to feel anything, because if it did then so would she and she'd break down again.

It was so easy to be weak when she didn't have to be strong.

How cold and distant it sounded, the way she described it, the weeks of meager rations, of starving herself so James could eat more, of slender, cutting threats disguised as propositions, as easy choices from a voice that made her insides scream. Vague, useless words that said nothing of the anger and suspicion and paranoia of people she'd once thought her friends. The finality with which people could turn when their own survival depended on it.

People always said that a problem shared was a problem halved, that when you said the words out loud, it became easier. Kaylee knew they were full of it. She was sitting next to proof otherwise.

The more she said, the worse Jayne felt, and she certainly didn't feel any better or easier for it.

"An' he's still there, is he?"

That edge came rocketing up to meet her.

"Jayne, please, don't..."

"Don't?" He was ready to boil over, she could feel it. "Kaylee, how can you ask...?"

"Please, Jayne." She kept her voice low and steady, her eyes pleading with him. "It's over now, we're safe, me an' James, it don't matter anymore."

"It don't matter?" He stood up and she didn't move. "Don't matter? I wanna..."

"I know what you want to do." Her eyes followed him as he paced back and forth. "But he's gone."

Jayne stopped in the middle of his pace and turned to look at her. She felt the flush rise up her neck.

"I mean, there were ships landing all over the place when Mal came for me." Rushed, hurried words. "He wouldn't stay there no more than I would've. He's probably far away by now. I'm not going back, Jayne, not for you, not for anyone."

It must have been the steel in her voice that made him deflate like that.

"You gotta understand." His hands shook as he came up to her. "You're tellin' me all this stuff and it makes me wanna do somethin', Kaylee, makes me wanna go back an'..."

"I know." She reached out and took one of his hands. "I get it, I do..."

"But you keep tellin' me there's nothin' I can do!"

He tried to pull out of her grasp and she wouldn't let him, kept her fingers tight around his as she looked up. Standing, he was taller than her, towered over her, but when she was sitting down, he seemed impossibly big.

"Don't you get it?" She hoped he would listen. "You're already doing it."

"But..." He got it, she could tell, he was just being stubborn.

"We need you here." Kaylee swallowed. "I need you here."

The words sounded so strange after so long.


It smelled like hot iron ore and week old jock strap.

"What the hell you think he does down here?"

"Honestly, Sir?" Zoe exhaled as she lowered the soldering iron. "I don't want to know. Let's just fix this."

Mal looked at her, Zoe with one knee wedged on Jayne's bed and her other foot planted firmly on the ground.

"Can I ask you a question?" He watched her sigh as she lowered the iron even further. "Why? Why'd you want to come here and mend all the damage he just did?"

"Kaylee talked to Inara, didn't she?" She must have seen the look on his face. "At least, we assume she did. And she's obviously talking to Jayne. It won't be long before she and River are close again, I'm not sure why they're not now, unless River's just giving her space."

"Your point being?"

"She's not going to come to me, is she, Sir?" Zoe's fingers twitched over the controls. "She doesn't need to. Plenty of others on the ship can help her more. Doesn't mean I don't want to help in my own way."

There was a brief second of understanding between them, a quick journey into space they didn't allow between them. Uncertainty and reassurance. Then Mal smiled again.

"I knew there was a reason I kept you around, Zoe Washburne."

She snapped the goggles back into place around her eyes.

"Because you can't shoot worth a damn and your interpersonal skills are sadly lacking?"



"'Course I'm here."

It was one thing to see him control his anger, to push it down, keep it under the surface because he didn't want her to see it. It was something else entirely to see it just drain away as he looked at her.

Kaylee didn't really care where the anger went, she was just curious to know what had replaced it.

"That there is my son an' I don't plan on goin' anywhere else."

She dropped his hand and watched it float before her face. Of course. His son. She should have known that. Should have seen it. It was right, that was how it was supposed to be and that was why she'd come back.

Jayne Cobb was nothing if not protective of his family.

There was absolutely no reason to feel the little flutter of disappointment inside her stomach. Of course he didn't feel the same way that he did two years before. She'd left him, she'd made it brutal and final.

She hadn't been part of his life for more than a few months and even then she'd made a point of keeping herself apart from him. Maybe he'd grown to believe that over time. There'd been nothing to tell him different.

And she only had herself to blame.

"Please don't do nothin' stupid, Jayne." She had to get herself back on track. "I only told you so's you'd know. An' now you do, I don't need nothin' else. I don't need you to go ridin' off to be a hero."

"Ain't nothin' heroical about me, Kaylee." The pain in his eyes cut at her. "You should know that better than most."

"What are you talkin' about? 'Course you..."

"I don't feel it." He broke in. "I feel like a ruttin' niao ma for not doin' nothin'."

The circle went on and on. She couldn't take it, she couldn't fight him back for too much longer. He was going to wear her down. She knew it.

"I don't want this." It was like frustration as she let herself fall back, head bouncing lightly off the bed. "I don't want to keep doing this."

"Then what?" The mattress dipped. "You tell me what you want, Kaylee, an' I'll do it."

A bitter little laugh choked up through her throat.

"Isn't that what started this whole thing?"

"Tell me what to do."

Kaylee sighed.

"Stay. With me. Tonight." She felt his hesitation before she saw it. "Not like that, not... Just be here."

He filled the space next to her, rolling onto his back so that they both looked up to the ceiling. Heat from his bare arm radiated up through the skin of her elbow.

She didn't think he'd ever been further away.


Little footsteps echoed through the shuttle. A small, wooden ship made its way onto the bed, followed by arms and legs and a sleep tussled head. There was no sound, except the slight whistle of air coming out of the man's nose. And a high, whispered voice.

"Mama?" His small hand came out to push at her shoulder. "Mama? Daddy's sleepin'."

There was no answer and James screwed his face up in concentration as he turned to look down at the man lying next to her, at the large hand resting just over his mama's shoulder.

"Got a daddy, James." He echoed the words as they'd been told to him over and over. "Real nice daddy."


He’d never been a shy man, Jayne Cobb, he’d slept with many women in his life. Not just in the biblical sense, but actually slept side by side with ‘em. He liked it, it felt right to have a warm body next to his.

And he’d remembered the shape of Kaylee, couldn’t ever forget it.

But, unless she’d grown some weird shapes since she’d been gone, that weren’t Kaylee next to him as he drifted up from sleep.

Jayne cracked his eyes open to see the little bundle that had snuck between him and Kaylee in the middle of the night. That he could deal with. Made him smile to himself as he closed his eyes again.

Maybe he didn’t need to wake up just yet.


“Daddy ow.”

“Yes.” Simon couldn’t do anything but agree. “He did, didn’t he?”

Jayne bit his lip and pouted as he strapped the knuckles of Jayne’s left hand, but didn’t say anything. He’d heard the commotion the night before, guessed what was happening and had taken some ointment and basic weaves to Kaylee. That was when he’d thought it might have been minor damage.

The mess in front of him made Simon wince.

“I would suggest taking it easy…”

“But we’re gonna play ball.” Jayne protested. “Got the hoop out an’ everything.”

“Which is why I’m strapping your hands with extra pressure.” He continued. “I didn’t think you’d say no.”

“Yeah? Well.” Jayne grinned. “Can’t let you get ahead, can we? You’re just sore I beat you all those times in a row.”

“Four.” Simon was quick to point out. “It’s only been four. We won the game before that.”

“’Cause Wash was shot.” Jayne added. “You can’t go countin’ that game.”

The ease of it fell over the room, Simon felt it, the familiar teasing. Like it had been the week before, the camaraderie they’d worked so hard to get over the last few years.

“I’m not discounting anything.” Simon kept his head up straight. “We’re taking that win.”

His hands tied off the last of it, waved Jayne away from the bench.

“Yeah, you would.” Simon watched him take James out of Kaylee’s hands with ease, saw the two of them head off out of the infirmary. “C’mon kid. I’m gonna show you how to be on the winnin’ team.”

Simon looked at his hands for a second, holding the remnants of a bloodied bandage. He wasn’t expecting Kaylee’s hands to take it away from him, to help him pack things away.

“They’re getting along well.”

“Yeah.” Kaylee smiled. “Seems like everyone is.”

“Yes.” He agreed. “I suppose they are.”

Sometime in the past two years, he’d obviously learned a valuable lesson, because he stopped himself adding that everyone had gotten along well after she’d left. His brain happened to catch that, it hadn’t sounded hurtful in his head, hadn’t meant to be, but he knew how she’d take it.

“It’s nice.” He could tell she was hinting at something, talking in circles. “It’s just real good bein’ back and seein’ everyone like this again.”

“It’s nice having you back.” He had to say it, even if it made her blush. “You were missed, Kaylee, sorely. It wasn’t the same without you.”

“It’s not the same now.” She laughed and he tried not to notice it was tinged just a little bit. “Everything changes when you got a kid. An’ I know how stupid that sounds, I mean, of course it does. But…”

“Kaylee, you’re doing wonderfully.” He smiled as he took the last bandage from her and put it away. “Even if I hadn’t seen James, I’d know that. You couldn’t be anything but a wonderful mother.”

She did smile then, bright and genuine.

“It makes me wonder.” He gestured to the door and they both started out. “How I could possibly have missed noticing you when you were there.”

“I am sorry, Simon.”

“Nonsense.” He assured her. “There’s nothing to be sorry for.”


Inara felt her fingers tighten over the handle of the cup. Fine, delicate china that usually sat in the palm of her hand, rested there lightly as she guided it up to her lips. Usually.

Her face remained passive and she supposed it didn't matter so much if all her tension drained into the item in her hand. As long as it didn't show. She'd broken one of her strict, self imposed rules by taking the set out of her shuttle.

Some things were more important than rules.

"You didn't do anything wrong, Kaylee."

Now she understood why Jayne had split his knuckles, why Mal and Zoe had repaired the inside of his bunk without question. She understood, because Inara could feel the injustice of it rise and threaten to boil over.

The guild had ways of quietly, discreetly dealing with men who pushed the boundaries and it would only take one word spoken to the right person to make it happen. If she had a name, if she thought for one second it would help Kaylee.

"I keep tellin' myself that, 'Nara." She watched Kaylee fumble with her own cup, the china rattling off the plate. "I do. An' sometimes I believe it."

"You should believe it." She insisted. "Because it's true."

Jayne had come to her earlier, knocking at the door of her shuttle, nervous and agitated. She'd had to ease the words out of him, cajole him into telling her what he wanted.

And while Inara could see how much the whole thing was hurting him, how much he would do for both Kaylee and James, she had to agree with his statement that he was ill equipped to help Kaylee deal with her feelings, that he had no idea what to do with what she'd told him.

Inara didn't think she knew what to do with it.

"It don't matter." Kaylee sighed. "Really, 'cause look at them. That's what matters."

They sat side by side, drinking a sweet infusion of fruit tea. As carelessly as if it were a summer afternoon and their feet weren't dangling down off the catwalk and into the cargo bay, narrowly being missed by the people below.

People running, dodging other people, chasing a ball from one end to the other. In the middle of them, Jayne roared his triumph at scoring another goal. It was a moment she could see Kaylee storing away, bright eyes watching clearly as James clung to his back.

His little voice cheering along with his father.

"It does matter." Inara kept insisting. "You were strong all the way through, mei mei, where many wouldn't have been. That's admirable."

"I didn't feel too strong."

It hurt to see Kaylee so weary.

"You need to realize how very strong you were." Inara sipped carefully. "From what you said, he was a weak man, a frightened man who did what all insecure, frightened rodents do when they're trapped. He lashed out at something bigger and stronger than him to make himself feel better."

Kaylee bit her lip and the china rattled even harder. It was the first time Inara had seen any sign of anger in her.

"Then I wish I'd been weak." It was a quiet hiss. "So's he wouldn't have seen me at all."

She reached out and tucked an imaginary lock of hair behind Kaylee's ear.

"No you don't." The head bowed under her touch. "Because your son needed you."

"I failed him, 'Nara." She could remember Kaylee's voice so full of life and laughter, in stark contrast to the anguish she heard just then. "It was all for James an' I couldn't even do that right."

"Listen to me." She made her voice firm. "Kaylee, you didn't fail anyone. You didn't give into that man, you didn't take the easy way out. You stayed strong and we're all proud of you for that, especially your son. That's what makes you strong, you didn't give in."

Inara felt the sob being swallowed before Kaylee looked up, her eyes dotted with tears.

"Yes I did."

*** more soon...


Thursday, April 6, 2006 2:50 AM


<...she missed his hands on her, that she missed the feel of him against her, but most of all, she missed him. Feeling him wrap himself around her while she slept, the soft, gentle things he'd slip in when he thought she wouldn't notice.> Whew...

Amazing what a person has to go through to realize what's really important to 'em.

An amazing piece of writing, this series.

Thursday, April 6, 2006 3:22 AM


I was waiting and waiting for an update to this story yesterday and I'm so happy I logged on this morning to be able to read it.

Poor Kaylee, now she's just torturing herself. Doesn't she know that Jayne still loves her?

And the cartoon - awesome! Update again soon, please!

Thursday, April 6, 2006 4:03 AM


Another wonderful chapter!

I love Zoe & Mal fixing Jayne's room and Jayne asking Inara to help Kaylee.

The hoopball game is perfect.

Thursday, April 6, 2006 11:11 AM


loved it, as i have with every chapter. every chapter is equally powerful and always leaves us wanting more.
at first i was thinking that jayne should be the one to go and kick that guys @ss, but, now i'm thining all of them need to go, and kaylee needs to be the one to face him, with jayne by her side, and the others standing there right with her.
sometimes the only way to get over or at least past something like that, is to face it head on.
can't wait for more.

Thursday, April 6, 2006 11:34 AM


I loved it! I have the *highest* expectations of your writing, and you've exceeded them again. Vivian is right, this was layered very well.

I can't believe I almost let this fall off of the bottom of the new list. #@$%#$* work!

You truly do have a Joss-like touch with the change up at the end. I was kind of wondering as I read this whether she'd given in, because you very carefully avoided telling us previously. Then you had Inara speaking of Kaylee's strength, and I was starting to assume that I must have missed the hint, or that you were informing us in that way of her resistance. Then *bang*!

It's so much more powerful when done this way. ::bows::

Please keep it up. I am hooked, line and sinker. :^P

Thursday, April 6, 2006 12:31 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER just love messing with our heads, don't ya? You get us all fuzzy with Kaylee keeping Jayne restrained, Kaylee talking with Simon, and the "mei-mei" convo between Inara and Kaylee...and you just shoot the metaphorical puppy:( waitng with baited breath for the next part:)


Thursday, April 6, 2006 5:12 PM


Couldn't resist the temptation.. again, very well done. I can't wait to see what happens next. I'm not so sure I agree with all the folks who want physical revenge....wouldn't it be best for Kaylee and James to move on? On the other hand, it might give some closure. ARG! You decide. You're the best at it. I'll just sit here and wait. Patiently.

Thursday, April 6, 2006 6:36 PM


I'm out. I have no words.

You continue to amaze me with the depth you give these characters; they remain as we love them, but with an added edge, a facet we hadn't thought of or failed to see previously.

These stories have become canon to me. I think that's the highest compliment I can give.

I bow before thee O Queen of Jaylee.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 3:54 AM


okay, my emotions are well and truly toyed with. but somehow i just can't stop myself from reading, it's addictive stuff.



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