"And so – what? We're what?"
Simon shrugs the vest on, doing it up. Privately, he thought they were the last hope, the weakest chance. But not Kaylee. She'd put it in another way. "The big damn heroes who will save the day?" He looks over at the table, where Kaylee has set out a variety of guns. Some of them are Jayne's, he's sure.
Wash shakes his head. "According to who?"
"Kaylee. Her words, not mine." She'd been on the edge of town when she'd heard the explosions; she'd stayed out there long enough to hear the stories suggesting Mal and Zoe were in trouble. Then she'd gone looking for Jayne. She hadn't found him. "Kaylee says they're due to be shot in the morning."
"Shot? Shot?" Wash reaches over, picks up the other armored vest and shrugs into it. "What kind of town shoots people for – wait. What did they do?"
"Er." Simon points at Wash's vest. "I think you've got it on inside out."
"Oh. Right. Distracted, thinking about Zoe with extra holes." He takes the vest back off. "But what are they charged with?"
Interfering, apparently. Simon is hardly surprised. "Interfering with the course of the law. Supposedly Mal tried to get in between some local justice, and caused a riot. It led to fires. Businesses burned down. There were explosions."
"Right. O.K. Interference and Mal, explosions, I got that. People are understandably riled. But Zoe? My lamby-toes knows better."
"Well, you know how it is. She goes where Mal goes." And maybe that's not the best thing to say, because Wash scowls. "Um. Because she's loyal."
"Right. Sure." Wash's vest is now on and done up. He gestures at the table. "Guns?"
"Yes, please." He slides one into a thigh holster, and really. How can Mal and Zoe wear these things on a regular basis? They're hardly comfortable. "How many do you think we should take?"
"Zoe likes a minimum of two for most jobs. So. Maybe three each? Four?" As he hands the second one over, he looks Simon up and down. "Can you even fire a gun?"
"I did on the skyplex."
There's a pause before Wash speaks again. It's short enough that Simon can almost ignore it. "Just. Try and hit people this time. If necessary."
The next few minutes are occupied with Simon trying to figure out where to put all his guns. It's rather ridiculous, and how can Jayne walk around with so many weapons and not feel like he's unbalanced? There must be a trick to it. Finally, when they're both as weapon-heavy as they're going to get, Simon asks, "Do you want to know the plan?"
"We have a plan?"
It's Kaylee's plan.
After hearing that Zoe and Mal had been pinched, sentenced, and locked up, Kaylee had gone to check out the local jail. It's nothing to laugh at. Mostly metal and cement, but at least it's not Alliance. The locals here do what they can with what they've got.
The holding cells are on the east side, facing away from the town. Kaylee thinks a controlled blast will cause most of the wall to collapse in and downwards, minimizing any potential of injuries to anyone inside. To that end, she's fixed up some explosives. "You've just stick 'em on the outside wall, rip off the cover, and stand back. Got it?"
It's hardly complicated. On the rim worlds, plans rarely need to be complex. This is something that Mal doesn't always seem to understand. They can be simple, as long as they're backed by firepower. Simon is sure that Jayne understands this quite well.
Or maybe he's just overly gun-happy.
But Kaylee understands this too. "If you can find Jayne, it'd be better. Just, you know. Keep an eye out."
Kaylee's sure Jayne isn't with Mal and Zoe, since the stories the locals are circulating concern two former Browncoats. Simon's best guess is that Jayne is passed out cold in a bar. It's the worst possible timing.
"You and Wash go. I'm gonna stay here, with River, keeping Serenity warmed up, in case we got to scatter fast. Once you get back." She looks at him hard, stresses her words. "With the captain and Zoe. Don't leave 'em."
"We won't leave them." There's no chance Wash will leave without Zoe. And Zoe won't leave without Mal.
"Good." She looks so fretful, he wants to reach out and smooth away her wrinkled brow. But. "Just get 'em, Simon. I ain't gonna stand around and watch 'em get shot in the morning."
No. Of course not.
He relays the plan to Wash, who looks rather pleased.
"That's a decent plan. Fly the shuttle in, land by the east side, set up the explosives, pick up our crew, run. It's clearer than some of Mal's plans." Wash nods, checks his guns again. "All right. What are we waiting for?"
They're waiting for Kaylee. She's out doing one last round of the town, trying to pick up any information she can; seeing if she can find Jayne. Simon can imagine her out there, using her sweet ways, her sunny smiles, fooling everyone around her into thinking she's harmless, guileless. It makes him smile. Kaylee's devious in her own way.
The smile slides from his face as she walks into the kitchen. She's holding a gun awkwardly. A big gun, and she doesn’t look happy about it. "Is that –"
She nods, slowly, her mouth a tense, miserable line. "Yep. It's Vera. I found it in town, tossed down a little alley. No one around." She points at the handle, at a brown, flaking stain. "I think that's blood."
Oh, hell. "So –"
"I think Jayne's dead."
So, no chance of back-up then.
Over the comm, Kaylee says, "Remember. Shoot at anything that moves. You bring 'em back."
Wash nods, replies, "You know we will. Keep the ship warm, Kaylee." He flicks off the comm, and focuses on the flying. "Remember. Shoot, and when you're out of bullets, just drop the gun. Grab the next one." In a quieter voice, he says, "Zoe told me that once. Good with the gun advice, my Zoe."
She is. "Do you think we should have brought Vera?"
"Can you carry that thing around?"
"It would just get in the way. You have the grenades, right?"
"Of course." Not that he's particularly keen on using them. His throwing arm has never been accurate. He's better at fine, localized work.
"O.K. We're almost there."
From the air, Simon can see it, the large, blocky building that can only be a jail, lit by dim perimeter lights. Local jail cells seem to look the same everywhere on the rim. And, should he be particularly disturbed that he's becoming familiar with the shape of buildings of incarceration?
"I'm going to land 300 metres out. We're going in dark, so hopefully we won't draw too much attention."
The landing is smooth, even in the dark, and Simon realizes how much he takes Wash's piloting for granted. Has he ever thanked Wash for getting them out of so many sticky situations? For not crashing? For just being a decent person? After the job, he'll have to say something.
It seems to take forever to get to the wall of the jail. They crawl along the dirt, and the guns get in the way. He can feel the grenades pressing against his chest, through the pocket in the vest. How do the others do this regularly?
It's a quiet, dark night, and the perimeter lights don't extend very far. "Do you have the explosives?" He asks as quietly as he can, mindful of potential guards.
"Yep. You keep cover. I'll set them."
So he watches, at the edge of the shadows. For a gaudy, loud, happy man, Wash can move silently when he has to. It certainly speaks to his devotion to Zoe. Simon can identify with the idea of person going beyond who they think they are, when needed.
It's a distracting thought, and it's his own fault for not paying attention, for not hearing the footsteps. He's only aware of what has happened when he feels something pressing into the back of his skull, hears a man rasp, "Get up."
He does. Slowly. Thinks about the gun at this thigh. His hand reaches down, he tries for nonchalant.
"Don't even think about it. Turn around. Hands up. What're you and your buddy up to?"
Raising his hands, he says, "Nothing."
The man gestures at Wash, who is pressed up against the wall, concentrating. He doesn't even know that Simon's been found.
"Don't look like nothing." The man turns away slightly, looks over at Wash more directly. "Looks like a hell of a lot of something."
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Right. Fine. Let's go." He gestures with his gun, points Simon towards Wash. "Let's get your friend there, and then we can all have a nice chat inside."
"About what he's doing over there."
If he can stall, Wash might be able to blow the wall before they reach him. He doesn't move, just says the first thing he can come up with. "He just likes walls. He's a builder in training. He noticed the very fine wall quality of your lovely jail, and wanted to look at it. Closely."
A gun prods at his back. "I said move, smart mouth."
It's dark, and Simon can't see much, except Wash, over under the lights. So things get a little fuzzy for a moment, when he gets pushed down to the ground. The lawman falls over him, knocking the breath right out of him. Then the weight is lifted from his back.
He hears the wet thuds of a fist hitting flesh, hears a grunt of shock, another one of pain. He's reaching for his gun, the one at his thigh, when he hears, "It's me."
Jayne. His voice is muffled, sore sounding. Simon sags a little, with relief. "Kaylee thought you were dead."
"Well I ain't. Wash gonna blow the wall?" The words are a little mangled.
"Yes. How did you find us?"
"Been around. Heard the stories 'bout Mal and Zoe in the jail. Was on my way over, saw you being pinched."
Before Simon can answer, Wash is running over. "Get down!" Simon does, ducks his head under his hands, and – nothing.
"I know! Just. Wait."
It seems to take hours, Wash muttering to himself on one side of Simon. On Simon's other side, Jayne's cursing about stupid amateur plans and that they should just go back, get decent guns, and blow that wall out another way. And then it blows.
The sound is muted, not the deafening crash he expected. Beside him, Jayne says, "Shiny."
Wash turns, noticing Jayne him for the first time. "Jayne? You're not dead?"
"Nope. Lost Vera. Riot tussle. Ain't dead."
The dust is settling, and Simon's watching, hoping they can come out on their own. Hoping he doesn't need his medkit, which is still back in the shuttle.
The light bounces off the dust, creating a ray of sparkles, gold and silver. What kind of cement do they make on this world? It's odd, and ridiculous, because as Zoe and Mal step out from behind the rubble, the light against the dust glows around them, makes them look like conquering heroes, triumphant and mighty.
It isn't until later, back at the ship, safe in space, that Simon notices that they're covered in grit. It doesn't sparkle in the light, instead just gathers in folds of cloth, in their hair.
Their injuries are superficial, and they brush off Simon's offer of help. It's just as well, because if they got away with cuts and scrapes, Jayne certainly didn't.
"It's a miracle you were able to take the lawman down," he says, as he stitches up the left side of Jayne's face. He'll have scars, but they could be worse.
"I appreciate the assistance. I'm sure Wash does too." Wash, who is probably right now curled up with Zoe, telling her stories of the escapade. Made up, amusing stories, most likely. With banter.
Jayne shrugs this time, and sucks in a sharp breath of air at the movement.
"Just hold still. I have to set your arm when I'm done here."
It seems to take forever, the tiny, neat stitches curving along Jayne's jaw, up around his cheek, inwards towards his nose. But finally, he's finished and he ties the last stitch off. "There." Stepping back, he surveys his work. "It should be fine. Just don't play with them. Speak carefully. Don't open your jaw too wide. Or eat too vigorously."
Jayne nods, minutely, looks down at his arm.
"Right. That next."
As he's setting it, mindful that the painkiller only takes the edge off, Simon says, "You know, Kaylee found Vera."
Jayne's eyes widen. Carefully, he says, "Yeah?"
"Yes. In an alley. We thought – well, you wouldn't leave it there. There was dried blood on it."
"Ain't the first time." The words are said slowly.
Smiling, Simon looks up. "I imagine not." He pauses, smiles a little more. "Wash and I thought about bringing it with us, but somehow, it didn't seem quite right." He doesn't bother to mention that the gun is very clearly only suited to Jayne. "Anyway, it should be in your bunk."
"Thank Kaylee. She's the one who found it."
Nodding again, very carefully, Jayne says, "Will. But thanks. Stitches. Everythin'."
Jayne has never thanked him before, not in all the shots he's fixed, the cuts he's cleaned. It must be the painkiller speaking. "You're welcome. But I owed you for dealing with the lawman."
Jayne snorts, almost-smiles. His jaw must be excruciating, and Simon reaches over, gets another painkiller dose prepared. "You an' Wash. Plannin' a rescue." He's trying to laugh.
"Oh, yes. We're big heroes." He pushes the injection into Jayne's arm. "From now on, I think Wash and I will take the dangerous jobs. You, Mal, and Zoe can just rest here. At your leisure."
Huffing, Jayne says, "Don't make me laugh. Hurts."
Simon can't help himself. He laughs. It had been a good plan.
|Characters: Wash, Kaylee, Simon,
Summary: They're the big damn heroes who will save the day. Maybe.
Note: For snoopypez