Summary: Zoe learns more about Jayne and the new job proves to be deadly.
Author's Notes: All belongs to Joss, I borrow - a lot. Comments please - all read and welcome.
“Captain changed course”, River said, “We’re not going to Beylix.”
She sat at the dinner table, body limp in a chair, her cheek pressed to the top of the wooden table.
Zoe nodded, “Not that I agree with his methods, but—”
“It’s not fair.”
“He’s worried about you, we all are.”
“I’m old enough.”
“Ain’t sayin’ you shouldn’t or that you won’t, just sayin’ ain’t no cause to rush is all.”
River contemplated Zoe. “It’s more than the parts fitting…that’s what you were going to say.”
“Not my words exactly—”
“But sometimes it’s enough that the parts fit. You went to Jayne because the parts fit.” River said more than asked.
“How bout you let me tell you what I want you to know.”
River nodded. Chastised.
“Sweetie.” Zoe sighed. “Your body—”
“I know, it changes everything,” River dragged herself upright in the chair.
“What? What changes everything?”
River rolled her eyes. “Love.”
The sharp edged grief always surrounding Zoe spiked loudly through River’s senses, she winced then tilted her head when she tasted something new inside the pain.
“He kisses with his heart you know, he doesn’t know any other way.” River said then suddenly twisted around in her chair to look at the empty doorway leading to the bridge.
Zoe followed River’s gaze to the empty doorway, “Mei-mei, who are you talking about?”
Jayne ducked through the doorway. He stopped. River and Zoe were staring at him.
He looked suspiciously from one to the other, “What?”
Zoe turned slowly to River, raised an eyebrow. In answer, River arched one eyebrow, a smile playing on her lips.
“What the hell’s the matter with you two?” Jayne frowned, mumbling, “Figures, guess crazy is catchy.” He walked to the kitchen, passing closer to Zoe than he needed to.
Mal walked into the dinning room, “Hey Lit’le one.”
River stiffened, “Kuh-ooh duh lao bao jurn.” She glared at Mal and stomped off toward the bridge.
“She just needs…a little…more time.” Mal explained to no one in particular.
“Ya know, I liked it better when she was just loony. Now she’s loony, horny and costing us jobs.” Jayne looked pointedly at Mal, then threw himself on the sofa, ripped open a bag of snacks and dropped a handful in his mouth.
“Jayne do you recognize this expression on my face?...no?...itsa smile. Might be a touch hard for you to recognize cause it ain’t around much of late, but here it is and here is me…shiny, as shiny could be. Nothing broken on my boat, Alliance just where I like ‘em – on the other side a the ‘verse, my boat’s fit and flying in the black, food on the table, my woman in my bunk sleeping,” Mal lowered his voice, “and a good chance I might be gettin’ some tonight.”
“Congratulations, Sir.” Zoe said loudly from across the room.
“Thank you. Zoe…See, Jayne for once I ain’t at the ass end of the verse, and I mean to enjoy it, so don’t bring me down. You won’t like me down.” Mal punctuated with a bright smile.
“What about the crazy horny killer on the bridge?”
“Do you recognize this look?”
Jayne considered Mal, “Nope” he crunched noisily.
“This is me ignoring you.”
“Ya know Mal, what I don’t understand is how come we jus’…jus’ up and piss away a good payin’ job just so Crazy don’t get all sexed up on Beylix? Hell, we coulda locked her up like we did when she went ape-shit back on Beaumond.”
Mal smiled fondly, “Ah, the good ol’ days, if I recall, lit’le girl beat you up real good didn’t she?”
“Hey, she didn’t beat me up.” Jayne’s mouth twisted.
“I reckon unconscious qualifies as a bonafide beat-down. ”
“Took you out with a can of beans, if I recall.” Zoe said.
“She was hidin’ in the gorram ceilin’.” Jayne yelled. “How the hell—well that ain’t the ruttin’ point is it? That job on Beylix—”
“We had a meet. No job.” Mal handed Zoe a cup of tea and joined her with his own cup at the table.
“River said the job on Beylix wouldn’t come through. No reason not to believe her.” Zoe looked at her cup so she wouldn’t have to look at Jayne. River’s words were swimming in her head and she didn’t know what to make of them.
“That don’t mean we shouldn’a tried anyways, it was a good job—”
“For the hundredth time, it was just a meet. What’s with all the fuss anyhow, we got a new job. A paying one.”
“Really?...well, why didn’t ya say so.”
“Fanti and Mingo—” Zoe began.
“Hell, them two. Job bound ta go ta shit. Ain’t nobody else got a job for us? What about Badger or Lucas?”
“Badger?” Mal balked.
“Already told them we’d do it. Can’t back out now.” Zoe kept her eyes on her cup.
“But last time…,” Jayne trailed off. Mal wasn’t smiling anymore. “Fine. What we got?”
“Ah hell, no gunplay?”
“Maybe we can blow something—”
“Tai-kong suo-yo duh shing-chiouh doh sai-jin wuh duh pee-goo.”
* * * *
“Ya gonna keep runnin’ your mouths or we gonna do this?” Jayne threw an irritated look at Mal, Zoe and Simon milling around the display screen.
Jayne fidgeted in the bulky evac suit. “Kaylee would ya switch on the gorram coolin’ system already, my boys are getting’ hot in here.”
“Can you not talk about your testicles, ever.” Simon threw a bulbous helmet at Jayne who caught it with a smirk.
“What’sa matter Doc? Ain’t got any a your own to talk about?”
“I don’t find it necessary to—”
“Bi-zuie.” Mal didn’t bother looking up.
“Well, he started it.” Jayne whined.
“Ting or I’ll space both of you.” Mal eyes scoured the display in front of him.
A rush of cool air filled the suit. Jayne closed his eyes and sighed in ecstasy, “Hell, I love ya Kaylee girl.”
“OK, let’s go over this one more time.” Mal motioned Jayne and Kaylee over.
“Hell Mal, we been over this ten times already.” Jayne whined.
“An’ we’ll do it do it ten more times till I say otherwise…Zoe.”
Zoe brought up a detailed picture of the wrecked vessel and debris floating outside their port window.
“What we got is a supply freighter, private owned. She’s real far out in the middle a no where. There’s a breach point here, and here. Looks like an explosion tore a hole in the hull. Can’t tell what happened but looks like they lost containment an’ …well let’s just say there ain’t no body over there to stop us from takin’ that crate. Jayne, you can get in here, most direct route is down this corridor, then through an access panel here. Kaylee rigged a long enough tether, you hook it to that crate, get clear and we’ll pull both of you back to Serenity, real easy.”
“Fanti and Mingo were real non-specific about what we gonna find over there so just get in, find the crate, and get out, dong ma?”
“We’re in position.” River’s voice filtered over the comm.
“Alright then, let’s do this…balls in, ass out, right?” Jayne grinned mischievously at Simon’s exasperated look, before pushing on his helmet, cycling the airlock then drifting into the black.
In minutes, Jayne’s voice crackled over the comm.
“I’m in the main corridor…ain’t much left. Looks like we ain’t the first ones to come poking around this ghost ship…she been picked almost clean, engine parts gone, nav system…still some parts we could use though.”
“Crate, Jayne.” Zoe reminded.
“That crate’s hard to find unless ya know what ya looking for so let’s hope we’re the first to know where to look.” Mal rubbed at his jaw.
“There’s gonna be a corridor on the left, at the end take a right. Go down the stairs at the end of the hall. There’s an access panel in the ceiling.” Zoe instructed.
“Sir, we’ve got company!” Zoe flipped switches on the relay.
“Get an ID.” Mal scrambled to check River’s display.
“Give me something, anything. Is it Alliance?”
“Don’t know yet.”
Mal keyed the comm. “Jayne?”
“Almost there Mal.” Jayne’s voice filled bridge.
“They’re running black…no ident.” Zoe reported.
Mal keyed the ship’s comm. “Look lively folks, we got company.”
“Sir, we should tell Jayne.”
“Not yet. I want him to focus on finding that crate. Sides, it could be nothing.” Mal said optimistically.
Zoe pursed her lips, “Sir, nothing don’t run without ID.”
“Not yet. Zoe.”
“Just find out who they are.”
River turned worried eyes to Mal and Zoe. “Alliance.”
“Don’t panic…This ain’t no Alliance vessel we salvaging… If they hail us, we’ll just explain that the owners kindly asked us to get some supplies left on board.”
“What if they want to board us.”
“No cause to.”
“They will.” River said. Her eyes focused on the approaching ship. “They know who they’re looking for…us.”
“Kaylee, go black external.”
“Too late. They’re headed straight for us, Sir.”
“Eight minutes tops”
“Have they hailed us?”
“Don’t believe they’re aimin’ to talk…they’ve got guns, Sir. Lots of them and they’re aimed right at us.”
Mal keyed the mic, “Jayne, you found that crate yet?”
“You got three minutes.” Mal switched off the comm.
“What the hell’s goin’ on over there.”
“Move it Jayne.” Zoe’s voice had an edge Jayne didn’t like.
“Aw right, keep ya panties on…I’m coming.”
Despite herself, and the growing sense of fear crawling on her skin, River giggled.
“River.” The Captain had stopped asking her questions out loud months ago.
“We’re faster, big guns are slow.” She answered the question lurking in his head.
Mal keyed the comm, “Kaylee, we’re gonna need a lot of power…real fast.”
“Gimme ten minutes.”
“You’ve got two.”
“Kaylee…they’re some mighty big Alliance guns headin’ our way. Now I ain’t right sure if they plan on usin’ them big guns or if they’re jus’ for show…but I don’t reckon any one of us wants to find out…especially me, we aim to run.”
“Guns?...they got guns? You didn’t say nothin’ bout no guns.” Kaylee’s anxious voice filtered over the comm. A loud crash followed.
“I found it…just need to get to it…gimme a minute.”
“They’ve picked up speed…” River reported.
“Captain, they’re within range in three minutes.”
“Jayne, time’s up, get back here.”
“Gorramit, Zoe. I almost got it.”
“Jayne, forget the crate. We got company. Alliance. You need to get back here fast.”
“Why the hell didn’t ya say so!” Jayne made a last lunge, grabbed and attached the unwieldy crate to the tether around his waist, and headed through the twisted metal to the hole he came through. “I’m comin’ out.”
“Kaylee, get that tether ready to recoil.”
“Sir, they’re hailing us.”
“This is the Alliance vessel, Dominion Star. Firefly class vessel, stand down and prepare to be boarded.”
“They haven’t ID’d us yet.”
“Jayne, clear that wreck we’re bringin’ ya in. Kaylee?” Zoe punched buttons on the console in front of her, setting a course for River.
“I’m ready down here.”
“Gorramit, my suit’s caught…I can’t get loose…I need some slack Kaylee.”
“I’m trying.” Kaylee furiously punched buttons on a relay, a red light blinked. Nothing happened. “The reverse rotor ain’t respondin’.”
Mal paced out the bridge, “Jayne, ya gonna have to cut your self loose.”
“Uh, won’t that puncture my suit?”
“Technically, yes, but I got a plan.”
“What you plan and what happens ain’t got nothing in common. So ferget it, I ain’t tearin’ my ruttin’ suit.”
“Ain’t got no choice, Jayne. Get clear of that wreck and we’ll pull along side and pull you in.”
“Firefly class vessel, Serenity, stand down. We are engaging a lock. Prepare to be boarded.”
“Sir. It’s too risky. If they hold us. We won’t reach him in time.” Zoe met Mal’s gaze levelly.
Mal’s mouth pressed into a resolute line, “Don’t aim to give them a chance. River, on my mark swing us as close as possible to that breach point.” Mal clicked the comm, “Kaylee when I say, you retract that tether. Simon, get to the airlock, Jayne may need tending to”.
Simon raced toward the airlock, stopping at the infirmary for supplies. Inara joined him at the hatch, ready to help in any way, her mind already reaching for familiar prayers for protection and sanctuary.
“Jayne, we coming to get ya, but you’re gonna have to get clear of that wreck.” Mal spoke into the comm, his voice not as calm as he wanted it to sound.
“I pull any harder n’ I’m breathing space.” Jayne didn’t sound any better.
“Gonna have to do it Jayne,..get a seal over that hole the best you can.”
“Gorramit, Mal, I ain’t—“
“Just do it Jayne…” Mal keyed the ship’s comm., “Kaylee, we’re gonna need all she’s got once we grab Jayne. Dong ma?”
“Sure Cap’n, I just hope its enough.”
“Just do it.”
Zoe swallowed with some effort, and forced a lightness in her voice. “Don’t take all day Jayne, you ain’t back by dinner, I’m eatin’ your rations.”
“I plan on more’n eatin tonight, so I’ll be back real soon for what’s mine.”
Zoe’s hand trembled slightly, she busied them on the console.
Mal ran a distracted hand though his hair, tried not to think about burying another one of his crew. No, not today, not on his watch.
Under River’s hands Serenity suddenly banked right, over his shoulder Jayne saw her coming, took a deep breath, adrenalin pumping in his veins, set his heart racin’. He thought of Zoe.
“Jayne, clear the wreck now.”
Jayne took a deep breathe, and held it. Bracing his legs against the wall, he pushed until it started to give, Serenity was coming in fast.
“Mal, I can’t do it. I can’t get loose.”
“Kaylee, get him back here.”
Jayne heard Mal give the order, and the tether tightened suddenly around his waist. He wouldn’t need to push anymore, the reinforced strap round his waist went taunt.
That’s when Jayne realized, he shoulda cleared the wreck. His suit was tearing loose of the jagged twisted metal, but the rip was widening, too wide to cover.
He was flying.
Sucked out back ways into the black, he saw the crate drifting in front of him, traveling as fast as he was. Not fast enough. Heat, air, life was leaking out of his suit too fast.
“Ain’t gonna make it.” He heard someone say, it didn’t sound like him though, too much fear in that voice.
It was cold. Was he breathing? He couldn’t tell. He thought his eyes were closed, but the twinkling lights and clouds couldn’t be inside his head. A cold vice gripped his chest, tearing through his insides.
The lights faded into nothing.
Shumma? – What?
Kuh-ooh duh lao bao jurn – Tyrant
Tai-kong suo-yo duh shing-chiouh doh sai-jin wuh duh pee-goo - Everything in space is stuffed up my ass
Ting – stop
This is a link to What I want...What I need Part 5