Firefly does not belong to me! This is just a little bit of fun. I hope it amuses. Feedback welcome! Jayne’s Sister
Mal had seen most sides of Jayne over the years cause there weren’t that many sides. There was the horn-dog side, the brotherly-to-Kaylee side, the money side, the fighting side. Jayne was really a right bastard all told. Mal knew that his Ma would have hired him only if they needed strong work done or someone protected, but she wouldn’t have kept him on as a regular ‘hand. Wouldn’t have made him family. Mal didn’t know why t’hell he kept Jayne around.
Except maybe it was these little moments, a glimpse of another, underdeveloped side of Jayne that was sort of like the brotherly-to-Kaylee side and sort of like an obnoxious younger brother you had to protect.
Because Jayne had just finished reading, slowly and painfully, a new letter from his mother. And even more unusually, he’d finished the letter in silence, his lips still shaping words but not speaking them out loud.
In fact, Jayne had been silent for several minutes. Mal leaned against the wall of the space station, the postal holding area swarming with people, all of whom kept an instinctive few feet away from Jayne. To Mal’s eye, Jayne looked dumbfounded.
Because the only other word he could think for that expression was fear. And they’d dealt with Reavers and a whole mass of Alliance military and never once had Mal seen that expression.
“Jayne,” said Mal both softly and yet with a quiet authority. “What sort of trouble you got? And is it going to be my trouble?”
“Yes, Mal,” said Jayne, still looking at this letter.
“Jayne,” said Mal. “Need some details afore it rains down on me.”
“Well, Mal,” said Jayne. “I never tole you much about my family, nothing about Charlie?”
Family trouble, processed Mal. This was so not good. The last time he’d gotten involved with family trouble, well that had been a lot of trouble and a lot of dying. He didn’t finish the thought but let his gaze look around the station. River was still staring at the aquarium over t’other way. She could be safe there for a while. Zoe, as if she sensed trouble, was heading his direction. Further back, still in the food market area, he was sure Wash and Kaylee were buying supplies, and with any luck Simon was staying out of trouble and doing something useful like getting medical supplies. So, he turned his attention back to Jayne.
“Charlie your brother?” guessed Mal.
“No Mal,” said Jayne. “Oh no. It’s much worse.”
“Sir,” said Zoe. “You got a situation?”
“Trying to sort that out,” said Mal. “Jayne here has a Charlie.”
“Jayne,” said Zoe in a please make this not be trouble type of voice. “Who is Charlie?”
“M’sister,” Jayne mumbled.
“Lots of people,” who aren’t me, “have sisters,” said Mal.
“Not like Charlie, they don’t,” said Jayne. “Ma said she’s going to get married.”
Mal almost relaxed. After all lots of people had sisters and they got married. This was normal. “Well then, you’ll be wanting to go home for the wedding, then. We’ll just do that.”
There was a little pause.
“Jayne,” said Zoe. “Where are you from anyway? Where’s your sister at?”
Jayne was shaking his head and he held up the letter. “Oh no,” he said. “You don’t understand. Charlie’s decided to get married but she doesn’t have a man yet and Ma cain’t find her one. So,” Jayne swallowed. “So, you see Mal, she’s on her way here.”
Zoe and Mal stared at Jayne.
“I’m to find her a man. A gentleman.”
“So when you say here,” said Mal, “you mean my ship?”
“And how you goin’ to find her a man?”
Zoe got a sharp funny look on her face. “You got to call Inara. Sir.”
“Right now,” said Zoe.
He did know Zoe well. He knew that tone of voice extremely well. And he quit trying to understand the situation but went to a public cortex and sent a wave to Inara right then.
She answered the wave immediately, to his surprise. Her hair was slightly damp, her skin somehow shiny on the screen. “Like porcelain,” his brain thought, remembering his Ma’s special delicate tea cups, said in the family to be from Earth and to be porcelain. Mal blinked at his own thoughts and smiled but it was too late. Inara read people fast. She was frowning at him, her eyebrows pulled gently together.
“What is the trouble, Mal?”
“Zoe said to call you. But I don’t reckon it is too much trouble really, or not my trouble.”
Now Inara looked real serious. “Zoe said to wave me? Mal tell me what is going on that isn’t your trouble.”
“Well, Jayne got a letter from his Ma, saying that his sister Charlie has decided to get married.”
“And she’s coming here for Jayne to find her a man. A gentleman.”
“Oh my,” said Inara. “That’s not good.”
“Huh?” said Mal.
“I’m a half day away at the fastest,” said Inara. “I’ll be there sooner. Don’t leave that station, do you hear me?”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Mal and felt extremely foolish for saying that and knew he was turning red but ‘Nara had already ended the beam, so that slip of the tongue was probably okay.
Kaylee was just thrilled to her tippy-toes. “Jayne, we get to meet one of your sisters!” Her smile was true and big and warm. Simon was smiling down at her but River looked troubled. The familiar lounge on Serenity had the unusual and welcome smell of a stew cooking, full of dirt-grown vegetables and real meat. Zoe and the Captain were sitting at the table, Wash was upstairs in the cockpit, but everyone else was gathered round. “You have to tell us more,” said Kaylee.
“Is she here right now?” River’s voice had a certain tone.
Jayne automatically checked where his gun was, and his knife in his boot, and his hold-out piece. Then he looked at River carefully. “I don’t know. If’n we need to leave to get to a job, that’s fine by me, I’m always in favor of working the job.” Jayne looked hopefully around.
“And miss your sister?” said Kaylee.
“She’s not really like what you expect,” said Jayne. He took a deep breath. “We’ve always had to explain Charlie. She’s the baby of the family and the littlest, so we reckon that’s what made her sort of odd.”
“Jay-ne,” said Kaylee. “Is she pretty?”
“Well some people think so,” said Jayne.
“What she work at?” asked Zoe.
“I can’t really say,” said Jayne.
“Let’s sum up then,” said Mal. “Your sister is coming to Serenity and we’re to hang here at space station 5 until then, and she aims to find a man.”
“Mal!” Jayne looked shocked. “She’s aiming to find a husband. Who is a gentleman.”
“Huh,” said Kaylee. She leaned her head on Simon’s shoulder and he put his arm around her and smiled. “Well, I made the passenger room around the corner there all fresh and ready for her.”
“Oh, that’s just going to encourage her to stay,” said Jayne. “And we can’t be having food this good neither.”
“Thank you Jayne,” said Kaylee in a shocked voice.
“Well, this isn’t going to go well,” said River. “I’m going to get some sleep while it is quiet.”
“But when is she getting here?” said Mal.
“’Nara going to be here by breakfast,” said Zoe. “So let’s not go looking for Charlie until then how about?”
“If that’s an order,” said Jayne, “that be fine. I’ll get some sleep too while I can.” And he headed to his room.
Mal and Zoe exchanged a look.
The alarm indicating someone was banging on Serenity’s door started at something like 2 am ship’s time, and Mal’s heart did the fast pounding that always happened when loud noise awoke him. Gorram, he thought. He pushed the hatch open and in the hallway, Zoe was already armed and waiting.
“Sir?” she said.
Mal jerked his chin up and Zoe got set up high, sideways turned to be a hard shot her ownself.
Mal pressed the talkie button. “Who’s there should go away,” he snarled. He pressed the alarm off, but kept the red light blinking. Kaylee, Simon, and Wash would know to stay secure. Jayne should know to come and help with Vera in hand.
“Malcolm Reynolds!” shouted a rough yet feminine voice. “It’s Charlie’s here! It’s time I met you!”
“What the gorram [insert Chinese here]?”
“Ma wrote I was coming, I know she did. Open the door, Captain.”
Mal pressed the viewer and in fact a female person was standing in front of the door. No one else was visible.
“Jayne’s baby sister, I am.”
Mal opened the door, gesturing to Zoe to get a bead on their visitor.
Charlie walked into Firefly.
Mal closed the door behind her.
A strong hairy arm kept it open.
“Gorram it,” said Mal, holding his piece at the bespectacled man just in his doorframe. “Who are you?” Meantime, Charlie had come right in. Mal had an impression of long slightly curly dark brown hair, thick and rich, and a figure that curved nicely in all the right places.
“It’s dinner time for me,” she said, her voice a husky purr. “Let’s get some grub.” She gave Mal a big grin, and held out her hand.
“Hold still,” said Zoe, “Do not move.”
“I’m here for my money,” said the man with hairy arms, now crossed, and spectacles. “I’m owed by her a hundred and two credits. I’m not going till I get my money.”
“Arms wide,” said Mal. He scanned them over. They had iron but their hands were empty.
Charlie did a little shimmy, and her grin was bigger.
“Put all your guns, right here, in this lock box” said Mal to Charlie. “No one don’t belong to my crew goes armed.”
“Sure as shooting,” said Charlie. She put the gun under her arm into the lock box, and when Mal raised his eyebrow, she pulled a little silver gun her backpack and put that in too.
Mal knew she had a knife in her boot and probably more in her pack, but she wasn’t supposed to be dangerous.
She was supposed to be company.
Mal pressed a specific intercom button and yelled “Jayne!” real lout, volume all the way up. “Get your gorram ass out here!”
Then he stood back.
Jayne, wearing only some britches, started arguing with the man in the door, but finally paid him.
“Charlie, I’m keeping a record this time and you’re paying me back,” said Jayne.
“Jayne, big brother,” said Charlie. “Don’t you member you owed me for that job on Solitude a while back?”
“I didn’t get no pay off’n that job!”
“’Zackly,” said Charlie crisply. “You owe me for that job.”
“No I don’t.”
“Well, you’ve paid the spectacle man for me, so I’ll let it go,” said Charlie.
“So long as you understand we’re even,” said Jayne.
Mal felt his eyes start to burn and turned and waved Zoe down from the ledge. She holstered her gun and walked toward them. She towered over tiny Charlie frankly.
Somehow Charlie made it feel even between them.
It was like when two men who don’t know each other size each other up, thought Mal. It’s some strange woman-thing.
“Welcome to Serenity,” said Mal and smiled and he pressed the green button, meaning not just “all’s safe” but “come and see if you want to”.
Then Charlie came right into his personal space, long brown hair swinging, and hugged him. A smell of some perfume. A squish on his chest that Mal rightly admitted was not unpleasant.
Charlie let him go and hooked her arm in his. “So feed me,” she purred.
“Okay,” said Mal.
River took a look at Charlie who frowned at her. It was that woman-thing again thought Mal. Zoe still had her gun on her hip and her hide-out hidden; but, otherwise she was smiling and Charlie was smiling back. Kaylee was excited in a sleepy kind of way, and Simon looked a little tense to Mal’s eye. Jayne was standing against a wall in a sort of parade rest position.
“Wash okay?” said Mal to Zoe.
“He’s on the bridge,” said Zoe.
“You’re the reader, ain’t you?” said Charlie to River. She was frowning.
River was frowning back. “Yep.”
And there was a tense little moment all of sudden right there in the mess hall around the table. “Simon’s my brother and Kaylee is his sweetie.”
Charlie looked at the doctor appreciatively.
“We’ve met already, River,” said Kaylee. “Come sit down over here and eat with us?”
River looked at Charlie who suddenly smiled at her. “We’ve got no problem, you and me,” said Charlie. “I’m clear on who is who.”
“Good,” said Jayne. “Cuz she can kill you with her brain.” Jayne smiled. “I couldn’t stop her none either. So it wouldn’t be my fault.” Jayne looked like a man wondering how he could get River to do him a little favor.
Charlie looked around the table and her gaze fell back on Mal. “So Captain,” she said. “You get lonely being the Captain and all?”
“Charlie,” said Jayne. “Don’t be doing that. He’s my Captain.”
Mal swallowed and thought, well surely I could push her off me.
On the other hand, she’d grown up with Jayne’s family. That no doubt meant she knew how to push back.
I’ll lock my door, he thought, remembering a red-headed woman who’d caused trouble in the past. And there will be no kissing.
“He’s got Inara,” said Zoe lightly. “She’ll be arriving later today.”
Huh, thought Mal. What does that mean?
“So then where are we going since this grubby ole space station don’t want me anymore and there’s no one here to marry anyways?”
“Persephone,” said Mal. “Good place to find a job and you’ll welcome to ride along as a guest.” But you ain’t my crew, thought Mal.
“Why don’t this station want you no more Charlie?” Jayne’s voice was a rumble. “What did you do?”
“She won all their money at Randy’s bar and card hall. And didn’t find no one pretty.” River’s voice was clear.
Charlie’s eyes were open wide. “Well I might have won a few hands of cards,” she allowed. She took her last bit of sausage and swallowed and yawned.
“I’d best maybe be finding that room for me.”
Kaylee smiled and lead her off and Jayne followed like a protective older brother, or a guard. A guard for Kaylee.
“You best get some rest, sir,” said Zoe.
“I, um, okay,” said Mal.
He definitely locked his door.
Inara arrived looking amazing, every curl in place, every pleat crisp, not a single stain anywhere. Perhaps she was thinner but her smile still caused Mal’s heart to give a little extra beat. It was always the shock of her smile, her sweet smell, the cleanness of her. How had she traveled all night and arrived looking so good?
She didn’t smile at anyone else neither. She was smiling at him, direct and steady and she went up to him and he felt her breath on his neck and she stretched and touched his cheek with her lips. Soft. Warm. She wiped the spot after in case there was any lipstick there. Mal thought that maybe the air filters needed checking and he also thought maybe Inara was using wiles on him. And that was okay actually. She could use more really. He hadn’t seen her for a couple months.
“How are things at your House,” he heard himself saying.
“They are just fine,” said Inara. She smiled at him some more. “But it was time for a little break. Time to see you again.”
“Huh,” said an unfamiliar voice, thumping a bowl into the sink of the kitchenette. “Well, that just rightly spoils things. Where’s she gonna bunk anyways.”
“Got a permanent bunk here,” said Inara, “we don’t share.” And she hooked her arm through Mal’s. And then finally she looked around and greeted the others. River was grinning a bit wickedly. Wash gave a little bow to his wife and a smile to Inara. Kaylee came rushing from the engine room and Inara hugged her with her other arm, gently.
Mal just stood still and let the morning bustle flow around him. What would it be like if’n Inara was his sweetie, to use Kaylee’s term? Because he wasn’t going to marry anyone. Nor pay anyone for something that should be freely shared with someone you loved.
“Cap’n,” said Wash. “We’re set for Persephone.”
“It’s time to go,” said River.
Later Mal didn’t remember giving the order to go, but at the time it seemed perfectly natural for River to follow Wash up to the cockpit and for Inara to circle his arm with her fingers lead him with her to her shuttle.
The trip to Persephone took two days, and not counting the stew explosion from Charlie being helpful, death of the burner the stew was cooking on, and the resultant sickness of half the crew, it really wasn’t half bad. Mal was sure Inara was using wiles on him, but it was so pleasant. He rolled with it. When he wasn’t alone in his cabin being sick.
And Zoe said her and Wash was taking a few days, begging his pardon and all. They were gone almost before the landing was fully stable. River made Simon and Kaylee take her to see cows in the country.
“That leaves just us to find a job,” said Mal doubtfully to Jayne.
“Sure Mal,” said Jayne. “We can leave Charlie here if we got to go.”
Inara laughed and ignored Jayne. “Charlie, let’s get you fancied up, shall we?”
“Really?” said Charlie. “I got some coin and I’m real good at being light-fingered.”
“I bet you are,” said Mal. “None of that with Inara around.”
Inara smiled, and hooked her arm through Mal’s. “You can come with us too,” she said.
And that’s how Mal found himself with Jayne standing around fancy shops while Inara got Charlie some fancy duds. To Mal’s eye it weren’t high class, but it was bright colors.
“That’s some shade of red,” said Jayne. “I think her skirt oughter be longer’n that.”
Mal looked and looked back at the road and discovered he was in parade rest and tried to stop it. “I don’t think you get a vote,” said Mal.
“Wot do we have yere,” said a familiar voice.
Mal turned and looked down a bit and saw that it was indeed, Badger.
“You boys aren’t in gaol yet, then? Pulling a heist?”
“No,” said Jayne. “None of your business if my sister is getting some fancy duds.”
Badger got a grin on his face.
“Yore sister, reckon she’s a dainty one then,” said Badger.
Jayne made a step toward him and three hired guns clicked on. Badger laughed.
“Relax boys,” said Inara. She stepped out of the shop and behind her stepped Charlie – but a Charlie in tiny short shirk and a sparkly blouse, and her hair was twisted up somehow with a bunch of feathers.
“Mr. Badger,” said Inara, her eyes warm.
Wiles, thought Mal to himself. That there is wiles indeed.
“May I introduce Charlie Cobb to you?” She turned to Charlie. “This here is Mr. Badger, a businessman of Persephone that sometimes Mal has been able to work for.”
Mal was about to object to that but Inara made a small jerk with her fingers that only he saw – everyone else was looking at Badger and Charlie – and the words died in his throat.
“Wow,” said Charlie. “You must be a gentleman.”
“I am indeed, dispite what some people might infer.” Badger was smiling. Badger was eye to eye with tiny Charlie Cobb. Badger bowed to her. “Would you care for dinner at a fine establishment?”
“Mal and I have plans, of course,” said Inara. “But perhaps you would like to have Mr. Badger show you around.”
Inara glided over by Mal and took his arm and backed him up a step. Mal opened his mouth and then closed his mouth.
“Not with him,” said Jayne. “Taint safe.”
“She’s safe,” said Inara and Badger at the same time. Badger held out his arm and Charlie gave him a big smile, and put her hand on his elbow, with a giggle.
“I’d be delighted,” said Charlie. “I bet you know a place with tablecloths.”
“I’m gonna watch over you,” said Jayne. “Or Ma’d be right mad.”
“Go away Jayne,” said Charlie. “Or I’d tell Ma something.”
“I’d find something.”
“Jayne’s eyes got a big and it was a bit painful to see him try to sort out what was the right action. “You have her back to Serenity in a couple hours,” said Jayne to their backs.
“I will treat her like a lady,” Badger called out.
Inara pulled Mal further away and led him back toward a tiny Sharma bar, and they sat down.
And then they looked at each other and laughed.
This isn’t wiles, thought Mal, oddly happy, biting into the soft meat sandwich. This part isn’t wiles at all.