A/N: If you are here expecting the dark grrr-ness of Until The Sun Turns Black, run away. This is the sunshine filled day to the dark night of that!
Disclaimer: Stephenie and history owns it all. I own Jayne. She is mine. And in no way based on anyone I know. In no way.
Chapter 1: Bluebonnet
The war had been going on for far too long and there seemed to be no end. The Yankees were coming and the city was holding it's breath in a silence that could not be broken. It was time to move the women and the children out. Galveston was lost. The glorious Confederates would fight all the way but we all kind of knew that once the Union ships arrived there would be many more tears to shed.
I had watched the young soldiers go door to door and tell each family that the time had come for them to separate. The mothers and daughters and sons would need to meet their escorts at the town square at dawn tomorrow. I had been through the square earlier helping to look after the injured and tired soldiers that had come back from the front. I had watched them with a sad eye knowing that my husband, Matthew, would never come back again. I had heard the words from the mouth of a young sergeant who cried along with me, he had stayed me all of that day telling me stories of his bravery and the never ending songs he would write as they pushed those damn Yankees back.
It had been a stupid death, a meaningless death. Sergeant Whitlock had tried to make it sound like he had died saving his entire company but he had met a musketball - a stupid small bit of metal - and now he wasn't here anymore. Stupid. Meaningless. I had thrown myself into doing everything I could for the effort. I cut bandages out of old sheets, I made bread out of anything I could, I held the hand of the dying, I said prayers for the dead when the priests were busy elsewhere. Today I was helping to gather food for the walk to Houston.
I had been down to the square four times already, emptying a basket that I would then go back and fill with donations from each house in the town. The sun had been burning down all day and I was hot and tired. I took a sip of water from a barrel and arched my back. I was hurting but I knew I didn't really have time to stop. I had already packed the few pieces I was taking and I had no one to say goodbye to. I just wanted to keep busy and not think.
I turned my head and gazed into the setting sun. A vision walked out of it, his golden hair framing his young face like a halo.
"Sergeant Whitlock? Is that you?"
"Why, yes ma'am... but it's Major now."
"Major? How on earth?"
"The good lord blesses me with the challenge..." He stopped and smiled, running his hand through the curls, pushing them back, as he placed his hat back on his head.
"Oh Major Whitlock, you do make me laugh."
"Mrs Wynnfield. Call me Jasper, please."
"Only if you call me Jayne." I smiled. I bent down to pick up my empty basket.
"Well, Mrs Ma... Jayne, how have you been?"
"Keeping myself busy. Yesterday I was helping Doctor Cullen in the field hospital; and today I have been helping with the supply runs."
"Can I help?"
"Oh, Jasper, haven't you got other things you should be doing?"
"Actually?" he stepped forwards, "Not a single thing. I have good officers and they follow their orders well."
"I imagine they would follow your orders."
He laughed, "Why?"
"You're just so easy to like."
"You don't have to like someone to let them lead you."
"It's true, but it does make it easier." I hefted the empty basket and started to walk back up the hill. Jasper ran after me and held his arm out.
"Of course." I gave him the basket and he walked beside me, two companions for a common cause.
"I heard you had gone to help at the Gainsville trial after the last time I saw you."
A shadow crossed his face as the memories of that day flooded through them.
"Yes. I lost 12 men that day. I wasn't paying attention to what the mob was doing."
I looked at his face, wanting to smile that he was taking the entire blame on himself, but I saw the glisten of a tear in his eye and held off calling attention to he honour in not paying attention on the field. Instead I asked him what he meant.
"They were well organised and I hated having to fire on our kin but I just wanted to keep them where they were without risking any of my men, I was so focused on stopping that small band that I didn't see the others coming around the side in the trees. We would have all been killed had young Perry not sacrificed himself by running at them. That should have been me. I should have died for my men." The look on his face told me that he meant it, that this wasn't just bravado.
He was no longer the boy that had tearfully told me of my Matthew's demise. He had become a leader of men, and I felt proud. We talked of tomorrow as we walked, the difficulties of crossing the forty odd miles to Houston, finding places for all the women and children when we got there, how long they would be gone from their homes.
"Where will you be staying?" he asked and I told him that I was going to be with my aunt.
"It's not ideal, she already has eight staying with her... but this war cannot go on forever, and I will be spending most of my time helping at the orphanage so I won't be underfoot too much."
Jasper shook his head, "No, that's ridiculous. I will find you an alternative, something more suitable."
"Oh no, Jasper, don't go to any trouble."
"It's no trouble. Think of it as a repayment for your kindness."
"My kindness? I haven't done anything."
He blushed, "You have brought much joy to me with the pleasure of your company today."
And now it was my turn to blush as I saw the fervour in his eyes, and it was I could do to quietly mutter "No, it was my pleasure."
The pause between us was electric, and I knew I should be feeling guilty at the surge of emotion in my chest, but something told me that Matthew would have been pleased with my choice.
I remembered a conversation we had before he first rode out. I had told him that I couldn't live without him, and was trying to persuade him to come and hide with me in a cabin my family owned in the woods. Of course he wouldn't hear of it. I tried everything including threats to my own life, anything to get him to stay with me. I had collapsed in tears and Matthew had taken me into his arms.
"Promise me you'll return."
He had looked me in the eye and sighed, "You know I can't do that, my love, but you have to promise me something."
"That if I don't come back, you won't die alone."
We reached my front door and I opened it. Jasper had put the basket down by the door. I knew should return to his men but I was enjoying his company more than I had anyone else's in a long time. More than I should perhaps.
"Before you go, could I offer you a bit of supper?"
"I shouldn't..." He said hesitantly, "But maybe just for a moment."
He took his hat off and wiped his feet.
A/N: Please tell me if you think this is worth continuing with?