Disclaimer: All the characters of Firefly belong to Joss Whedon. The Warren family are mine.
A/N: This Jayne is very different from the one in Firefly and I hope I explain the reasons for this adequately. Just an idea that popped into my head while writing "Genesis" (I've got to stop creating new stories when I haven't finished previous ones!). Set sometime after the BDM, although in my world, Wash and Book didn't die. Don't ask me how they didn't, they just didn't! Also, Book is still on Haven and Inara decided to stay on Serenity (at least for a little while).
"Aw c'mon Mal," Jayne whined. "Highgate ain't nothing outta our way, ya might even pick up a job or two. 'Sides, I already told 'em I'd come, can't go back on that."
"Jayne, I got no mind to argue about this, you done know better than to make promises before consulting me…"
"Mal, they're family and they asked a favor. I couldn't a said no, even if I wanted to."
"That don't matter none, besides ain't yer family all on Primus?"
"Aw, c'mon Cap'n, we don't got a job coming up. And it is on our way. 'Sides, would be nice for Jayne to see some family, we all need that once in awhile!" Kaylee piped up, adding her two cents to the heated discussion between Serenity's alpha males.
Mal groaned at the mechanic's intervention, even as he turned to glare at her. He hated when Kaylee was mad at him, and he just knew she would be if he refused to go to Highgate. Sighing and admitting a rare defeat, he turned back to Jayne.
"Fine, we can stop, but only for a couple of days, dong ma? I don't want to waste time I don't have to." That said, he spun around intending to walk away when he was attacked by brown hair and coveralls.
"Xie xie, Cap'n." Kaylee beamed up at him from where she was wrapped around his neck. Rolling his eyes and gently extracting himself, Mal stalked out of the mess and headed up to the bridge to tell Wash about the change of plans.
To say the crew were surprised by Jayne's sudden desire to see people who were not, apparently, old enemies or whores, was an understatement. Their shock intensified when they realized that Highgate, while no Core world, was certainly no Rim planet either; it looked wholly respectable. And that the people they were meeting lived on and ran a successful ranch near the town of Artemis.
Several rather loud discussions were had as to the nature of the relationship between Jayne and the people he was meeting, and what they were like. Nothing they thought of prepared them for the reality when they landed beside the ranch house Jayne gave coordinates to, two days later. Only River, with her abilities, wasn't entirely shocked by what awaited them and even she was in for a few surprises.
Jayne looked unusually nervous as he stood in the cargo bay, waiting for the rest of the crew to gather and for Zoe to open the doors. Now that he was here, he wasn't sure he wanted to be. There were a lot of explanations that were going to be demanded as soon as the crew met the Warren family and heard about his past with them. Jayne wasn't sure he was ready to deal with that, but it was too late to turn back now, weren't no way he was letting Bella and Sari down.
He felt a small, cool hand run down his arm in a reassuring gesture and he started in shock. He hadn't noticed anyone come up beside him and for River to touch him was highly unusual and not a little worrisome after what had occurred the last few times she had done so. This time however, there was not intention to wound in her gesture and the smile she gave him was obviously meant to be reassuring and supportive. He decided to take it as such.
As Zoe hit the button to open the bay doors, Jayne stepped forward to be first out of Serenity, passing and ignoring Mal, who shot him a censorious look for usurping his captain-y privileges of first out of the ship. The crew had barely left the ramp, several paces behind Jayne, when two young voices shrieked in near-unison, "Uncle Jayne!" The crew was able to make out two little girls, one blonde dressed in trousers and loose shirt and the other red haired and wearing a dress, before they both leapt at Jayne and disappeared into his embrace, still shrieking with joy. Laughing, he gathered them in his arms and spun them in a circle.
Behind the two girls, a blonde man about Simon's age stepped out of the shade of the veranda attached to the house. He walked towards Jayne, a large welcoming smile on his face. Stopping just in front of the man still holding, presumably, his daughters, the stranger grinned and stood to attention, snapping a salute.
"Welcome, Lieutenant, sir!" The Serenity crew felt their jaws drop, especially when Jayne, setting down the little girls, returned the salute with a drawled, "at ease, Corporal."
'I'll kill him', was the dominant thought in Mal's brain. 'So help me, if he was an Alliance soldier, I'll kill him.' Zoe, glancing over and reading his expression instantly, put a restraining hand on her captain's arm.
"Easy sir, we don't know what's going on. Best to wait until we do." Mal steadied under her grasp and words and nodded, once again moving forward to come up behind Jayne, his crew following him.
Meanwhile, this little byplay was totally ignored by the four people standing in front of the house. Jayne, free from the children, had broken the soldierly posturing and stepped forward to embrace the other man, laughing happily.
"Good God, look at you! What's it been two, three years since we saw you last?" The stranger questioned, pulling back to look up at Jayne.
"You haven't changed a ruttin' bit, have you Michael?" Jayne exclaimed staring at his old friend. Then turning away, he looked down at the girls still standing beside him with huge grins on their faces. "And you, my little darlings, how have you been?"
"Uncle Jayne, did you get my letters, I drew you pictures, did you see?" The red haired girl was tugging on his arm. With another laugh, Jayne scooped her back up into his arms.
"I did see that, Bella. You did right well, little darlin', they were real pretty." He looked down at the older, blonde girl. "I got your letters too, Sari. I'll have to ask your daddy and mama before I take you out tracking with me, though." The little girl pouted at Jayne and then at her father.
"But I'm old 'nough! Most of the boys are learning stuff like that by now; it ain't fair that I don't get to learn it too!"
"Isn't." Michael corrected mildly as he glanced between his oldest daughter and his longtime friend and commanding officer. "She's pretty set on it Jayne, no matter what Ellie and I say. I guess she's heard too many old war and hunting stories to let it lie now."
Jayne nodded and glanced past Michael to the house. "Speakin' of, where is Ellie?"
Michael grinned, "I didn't tell her when you were coming, wanted it to be surprise for her and the girls. 'Course, when they found out you were coming at all, they stayed by the window for hours at a time, watching for you. Hold on, I'll get her." Walking back onto the veranda, he stuck his head in the door and shouted, "Ellie, guess who's here!" This pronouncement was followed by a shriek from inside the house, very similar to the ones emitted by her daughters a few minutes earlier and a tall, red haired woman came flying out the door, streaked past her husband and straight into the once again vacated arms of Jayne Cobb.
By now, the Serenity crew wasn't too sure how many more surprises they could take from Jayne, and they were so pole-axed by these recent developments that they didn't know what to say and so continued to watch the little reunion playing out in front of them.
"Jayne, Jayne! Sweet Buddha, you're actually here! We missed you, you old hundan, why did you take so long to come back 'n visit?" Ellie cried as she hugged Jayne and kissed him several times on the cheek, before being pulled away by her husband who shot Jayne a mock scowl. The mercenary, in his turn, just grinned at Michael and leaned down to kiss Ellie's cheek.
"How have you been, bao bei? And who's this?" He asked, drawing attention to the little boy who had tottered out onto the veranda, following his mother, and was now staring at the newcomers with wide blue eyes.
Pulling away from Michael, Ellie scooped the little boy up into her arms and turned back to Jayne. "This is Robert Jayne Warren. We call him Jay. Jay, this is your Uncle Jayne, the man you're named for." Jayne looked at Michael in shock.
"You named him after me? Why?"
"You should know by now what you mean to this family, why shouldn't we name him after you? Besides, he looks a bit like you anyways, certainly got a bit of the same personality!" At that, Jayne regained his control and grinned rakishly at Ellie.
"Well o' course he looks like me, you know that I'm stealing yer wife an' marrying her myself soon as yer back is turned!" Much to the crew's shock, this pronouncement was not met with anger, or disgust. Instead the husband and wife just grinned back, implying that this was a long standing joke between them all, and not at all offensive. Ellie did, however, still slap Jayne lightly on the arm as she finally noticed the people standing behind him.
"Jayne, where are your manners? Aren't you going to introduce us to your crew?" Startled, Jayne looked behind him, apparently remembering for the first time that the whole crew was standing there, watching.
"Uh, yeah. Serenity crew, this is the Warren family; Michael and Elise, their daughters Sariana and Annabelle and their son, Robert Jayne. Sari's 11, she's the oldest; Bella's 9 and Jay would be what, Ellie? 'Bout two?" The proud mother nodded, so Jayne continued.
Warrens, this is the crew of Serenity." He pointed at each person as he named them. "Our Captain, Mal Reynolds, first mate Zoe Washburn. Man beside Zoe is her husband, Wash, our pilot. Fancy lookin' lady is Inara Serra, she's a Companion. Beside her is Kaylee, our brilliant lil' mechanic. On her other side, the stuffy looking man is Simon Tam, the doc. Little one beside him is his sister River, she's our reader. Used to have another passenger, a Shepherd named Book, but he went his own way some time ago."
The crew had each been nodding or waving their hello as they were named, until Jayne got to Simon and River, and named them outright, even saying what River was. Mal's hand went automatically to his gun, Zoe following his lead. The drawn guns were instantly noticed by both the adults and the children. Bella gave a little cry and hid behind Jayne's legs, sobbing quietly. Sari was staring at the guns, her eyes wide as she realized that the weapons she'd wanted to learn how to use were actually a lot scarier than she had imagined. Jay, too young to understand what was going on, but picking up on the emotions of those near him, began to cry too, huddled in his mother's arms. For their part, Michael and Ellie looked shocked that these newcomers had drawn guns on them for no apparent reason.
Jayne exchanged a quick, meaningful look with Michael before rounding on his crewmates. Michael, talking quietly to Ellie, instructed her to take the kids and wait in the house. Ellie, knowing some of what Jayne and her husband were doing, nodded and gathered her daughters and led them back inside. Michael took up a position just behind and to the right of Jayne, almost mirroring Zoe's stance behind her captain.
"What the hell do ya think yer doing?" Jayne roared, irate at the captain. "If you ever pull a ruttin' gun in front of those girls again, in front of this family, I'll shoot you where you stand, dong ma?"
"What the hell are you doing, Jayne? Telling strangers who River and Simon are, are you a complete ben dan?" Mal shouted right back, utterly incensed with the disobedient and apparently careless mercenary. Jayne was prevented from replying when Michael laid a hand on his shoulder and coughed pointedly.
"I don't believe Jayne here has told you much about us, or himself?" Michael asked. He didn't wait for answer. "I can tell you Captain Reynolds, you have nothing to fear from fellow Browncoats, especially when you are obviously at least somewhat trusted by Jayne here." That said, Michael turned his attention to his friend. "Jayne, let it go. They didn't know better, and I know there are two little girls inside waiting for their Uncle Jayne to come make things better. Why don't you go on up to the house and I'll sort things out here."
Jayne eyed the younger man. "Just don't be telling more than you have to. I'll explain the rest later." Michael nodded and released his grip on the big man's shoulder. With one final glare at the crew, Jayne turned at stalked into the house.
"Alright, I want to know what the gorram hell is going on. What do you mean 'fellow Browncoats', Jayne ain't no ruttin' soldier!"
Michael sighed. "I see he hasn't told you anything at all. I cannot tell you too much, captain, as it is not mine to tell. But I can assure you that I and my family can be trusted and that there is no one we trust more than Jayne. I have trusted him with my life and the lives of my family more times than I can count and he has yet to let me down."
Mal and Zoe exchanged confused looks, as did the rest of the crew. 'Jayne, trusted? And a possible Browncoat, who cared more for others than himself?' This did not sound anything like the Jayne they all knew.
"He is telling the truth, Captain." River spoke tranquilly, adding her say to the mix. "We have nothing to fear from these people." Mal looked over at the reader.
"That so, lil' albatross?" She nodded confidently and he sighed, capitulating to the whims of one of his women for the second time that week. He put his gun away and signaled for Zoe to do the same.
"Alright, Mr. Warren, our apologies; can't be too careful out here, life like ours." Michael nodded his assent and gestured for everyone to follow him into the house.
"Oh, and it's just Michael, there's no need to stand on ceremony here." The crew, still reeling slightly, followed him meekly into the house. Simon, far from convinced that anyone who called Jayne a friend could be trusted, despite what River had said, tried to keep her close to him. Rolling her eyes at his needless overprotectiveness, River ignored her brother and stepped ahead of him, walking into the house. She instantly felt cocooned in the warmth and familial love that seemed to seep from the walls, soothing her. She smiled at the sight she witnessed when they walked into the kitchen; this was the Jayne she had started to sense for the last couple of months. She had gotten glimpses of the truth in his head from time to time, mostly when he received a new letter from this family. This Jayne, the real Jayne was one that no one on Serenity, save her, had even known existed and now he was finally going to come clean with the truth. River smiled, imagining the kinds of reactions his revelations were going to recieve.
Jayne was sitting on a chair, Bella in his lap, Sari leaning against his leg, both listening intently as he talked quietly, soothing them. Ellie was standing a little ways away, watching the trio with a smile, Jay still sitting on her hip. Not noticing the entrance of the group, Jayne continued talking to his nieces.
"Bella, want would you like for your birthday, darlin'. I know it's coming up in a few months." Bella glanced quickly at her mother and then back at her uncle. He was her hero and there wasn't anything in the world that he couldn't do.
"I'd like a dress like the pretty lady's, the one from outside?" She asked quietly and politely, gazing up at Jayne with expectant eyes. He smiled.
"Inara's dress, you mean? Well, I think I might be able to work something out just for my meiying." Ellie straightened in shock, even as Bella smiled excitedly.
"Jayne, you can't possibly afford…" He quelled her with a look and turned back to her daughter.
"Now, I have a bit of a compromise for you, princess. How's about I get you a dress, not as fancy, but pretty all the same, for this birthday and I'll get you a real fancy one for when you turn 15? Does that work for you; pretty dress for a pretty girl and a fancy dress for a beautiful young woman?" Bella nodded enthusiastically, knowing that if Uncle Jayne said he would do something, it was as good as done. Sari, slightly jealous of the attention lavished on her younger sister, tugged on Jayne's pant leg.
"What about me, Uncle Jayne?"
"You, little hunter? Well, you already had yer birthday for this year, but for next year, if your mama allows it, I'll bring you a knife and show you how to use it. How's that sound?" Sari's eyes went wide with excitement and she agreed that that was a good gift for her next birthday.
'Who was this man?' Mal wondered. He looked like Jayne, but he sure wasn't acting like the man Mal had hired. And there was still the matter of the implication that he was an Independent to be dealt with. Now however, Mal couldn't bring himself to interrupt and kill the total trust shining in the eyes of those two young girls as they looked at his suddenly not so gruff merc.
Ben dan - "fool"
Meiying - "beautiful flower"
Bao bei - "sweetheart"
A/N: Yes, I'm starting another story! This one was swimming around in my head while I was trying to write the next part of "Genesis" and I couldn't get it to leave until I started to write it. This will probably only be another chapter; it's just a short character study of Jayne. Let me know what you think! -Druid