When he gets a moment to think on it, Jayne figures he's lucky, especially given that he's just starting out on his own. He ain't too long from home, just starting to get into his job, when the rest of the Hebrine gets themselves humped by the Feds. These days, the Feds are starting to push out, making themselves more known on the rim.
It makes smuggling a right pain in the ass. Bad enough having to dodge folk that want the goods themselves. Least they're willing to give an honest fight for it. Feds, they just lock up anyone they can get their hands around. Jayne's heard the rumblings this is making in some places. People don't like new interference.
It was just dumb luck that he'd been able to make himself scarce before the Feds caught up with them. Still, ain't never a sunny day when a man loses most of his possessions. Sure, he's roaming free, but it ain't like he's got much to celebrate.
So Jayne finds himself down to only the clothes on his back, some coin, four guns, eight knives, and a couple of grenades. He's stuck on the ass-end of a moon, worst he's been on yet. Nothing to do, and no ships landing are looking for new crew. He spends the first two days drinking in what passes for the local bar.
It's late into the third night when one of the local whores sidles up to him and asks, "You looking for some fun?"
Jayne eyes him up and down for a minute. He's about Jayne's own age, and he ain't half-bad looking. Hell, he's even pretty. It's been a while, too. "How much?"
"What're you lookin' for?"
Only takes a couple of minutes to talk specifics and price. He spends the next two nights holed up in room, having some of the best fun he's had in a fair piece of time.
Seems like boy whores are what folk around these parts favour. He ain't complaining, except about the price. But the whore gives a decent bit of fun, and when Jayne wakes up after their first night together, he sees it weren't just being drunk that made the whore pretty. Sober, in the dusty light of day, turns out boy whores around these parts are real pretty.
A few days later, he's just finished drinking the last of his cash, he's got no place to sleep, and still there ain't any jobs in sight. He's thinking on selling his least favourite gun, but that won't buy him much. And he's been around the 'verse enough to know that a merc without guns ain't worth even five percent. It's miserable all round.
Leaving the bar, he's thinking on starting a fight of some sort. Maybe a few days in the local cells are what he needs – couple of meals, some place to sleep, get his thoughts together. But them kinds of fights always seem to get out of hand, and he don't need an accidental murder charge or nothing like that.
But still, he's in the mood for a tussle, so when he sees a guy running down the dark street, straight at him, he does what comes naturally. He reaches out and hits him square in the face, and grins as he falls to the ground. Guy don't get up again, so the tussle's real short-lived, but there's always the spoils to make up for it.
He's riffling through pockets, finding all kinds of goodies, when he hears footsteps coming up behind him. Scavengers, most like. Reaching for his nearest gun, he says, "These here're my goods."
"The money was stolen from us."
The voice is soft, but determined. Jayne looks up. A couple of whores look down at him. One is from the other night, though he don't remember the name. Both of 'em have got hair so shiny it even shows in the dim streetlight. "So? I'm stealin' it from him."
There's a little silence, the whores looking at each other for a space. Then one of them, the one who spoke, the one Jayne paid before, says, "You're new here."
"You looking for a job?"
Jayne stands, laughing right aloud. "I ain't no good for whorin'." He points at himself. "Folk pay me for killin', not sexin'."
Boy smirks at him, looks him up and down a little, and says, "We ain't looking to expand our ranks. But some around here, they don't respect the order of things. We're getting robbed, beat on. Stuff's going missing from the house, when we ain't around. Mostly we take care of our own selves. But might do us good to have someone like you around, keeping the peace."
Now that, it's just strange. "I'm stealin' yer money." He holds up the bills, shakes them a little. "And you want to hire me?"
They look at him for a space, then the other one says, "You took him down. And you don't got any ties around here, won't be tempted to screw with us for someone else."
Hell. It's the best offer he's had all week. "I get to keep what I found here."
There's a bit of pause, with them both looking at him kinda hard. But then they nod.
"And I get free sexin'."
This time, they don't say anything for a longer space, and Jayne figures, hell. No way he's working for whores without side benefits. Otherwise, they can go find someone else to hire.
But he gets another nod, even if there ain't a smile to go with it. It's good enough for him.
They work out a deal. Jayne provides muscle while they peddle their wares; they pay him six percent off the top of their earnings, combined. Straight off the top.
They got their regular haunts; certain street corners when the weather's decent; little dirty bar down the alley when it ain't. All in all there's five of them, and sometimes it's a mite hard to keep track of each one's comings and goings each night. And he can't keep thinking of them as 'whore with the shiny hair' or 'whore with the hot ass'. It just gets tangled up in his head. So he bothers to learn their names.
Aaron, he's the one who's got the most bargaining smarts; Kim, he talks all the time. If Jayne's got questions, or if he's bored, he just starts talking to Kim, lets it go from there. Zach's quiet, don't say much at all. Charlie's the prettiest of them all, and the busiest. Sumit, he's just there, putting in time. Even Jayne can see that. Like he's got plans for
the future that don't involve whoring. Doesn't pass Jayne by that Sumit hardly ever spends the money he earns.
Makes him wonder where all that money gets hidden.
Mouthiest one is Aaron; he made the deal with Jayne, that first night. Then they had a drink to seal the deal.
"Just make yourself known." He passes Jayne a beer. "Let 'em know you're with us."
"Makes it look like I'm runnin' you."
That gets him a hard look. "Well, you ain't."
Hell, he knows that. Wouldn't want that kind of responsibility anyway. Whores, they can get flighty, he figures. Getting them to do what needs to be done would be a right pain in the ass. Like rounding up little chicks. "Don't want to."
Hard look fades a little, the kid relaxes. "If you fuck with us, you won't know what's coming to you."
Yeah, maybe he can believe that. He chugs the beer, gestures to the bartender for another. "Just give me my six percent."
A couple drinks later, Aaron's gone, and he's standing next to another one. Blond, short, pants as tight as hell. "Zach," he says, when Jayne looks at him.
Something about the way he looks at Jayne feels off, leaves him with a sense of not-quite-right. Something funny around the eyes. But who's to know, with whores? Jayne just shrugs in response, and glares around the tiny room. Folk see it, and some of them look away.
First few weeks, there's a decent amount of action. Mostly, it's when they're out on the street. Jayne pounds a few heads when they try to get away without paying. He beats the shit out of one merc who decided he'd take part of his fun out in blood. Couple of arms get broke in some of the scuffles.
So it's the usual, just with less gunplay.
Some days, he only has to run off the moralizers who pester the boys. Those folk that see whoring as a bad deal; them that don't see people gotta make a living. Working in a gas mine ain't for everyone. Not all boys want to join up with a crew and get off-moon, either. Some of 'em have family, even if it ain't in town.
One thing strikes him as strange though. He asks about it one night, while some of them are waiting for someone to come along with a pocket heavy with coin. "How come there're so many boy whores here? Where're the girls?" He'd wondered himself, the two nights he'd coughed up coin for a thrust. Back before he got the job.
Kim looks at him like he's got half a brain in his head. "Ain't you seen that girls are real scarce on the ground here?"
Yeah, he had. But he figured maybe they just stayed home. Some places it's like that. "So?"
"One of them terraforming things. Here, something about the planet means lots of boys get born. Girls, they're rare. They get treated real special, and grow up to get their pick of the men. Most get married, get fancy jobs. They ain't gonna grow up to be whores. "
Huh. That's damn strange. He's heard of things like Boden's malady, but less girls? "Why's that?"
"Why's it work like that?"
Kim shrugs, leans back against a wall. "I ain't a scientist."
Off hours, the whores ain't bad. There's a lot less primping and fussing than he'd expected. Boys that pretty, you'd think they'd spend hours keeping their hands soft and their hair shiny. But it don't seem they do, leastwise not when Jayne's looking. Maybe they're just naturally fancified.
Not that they're real fancy. They're just a little more tidy, a little cleaner. Maybe that's why they get such decent trade. The locals – miners, mostly – and the crews that land, maybe they just want something a little softer around the edges. Even if it's mostly an illusion of soft.
They put on a good show of mostly getting along, but there's more to it. Mostly, he figures they're decent, focused on work, not looking for too much trouble. Still, Jayne don't trust any of them, even during sex. He knows it'd be a mistake to let his guard down, start trusting the whores. Might be better with their mouths than with a knife, but that don't mean he should turn his back.
Hell, he's seen them boys lay into would-be thieves a few times. It's enough that one night he asks, "Why'd you even want to hire me?"
"Looks like you can take care of yerselves."
There's a merc walking down the street, pretending he ain't heading straight towards them. Jayne's eyeing his guns; Kim's checking out the cut of his clothes. Better clothes mean they ask for more money.
"Sliding-scale," Aaron had said once. "Doesn't make sense to alienate the locals – they don't always got a lot of cash to spare; but them as can pay better, they do."
Kim nods, but keeps his eye on the mark. "Yeah, we can. But it takes time, risks us getting hurt. If'n we do, it means we gotta take time off. It's worth it to avoid all of that."
The merc's almost right there now, and he's eyeing Jayne up, questions all over his face. Jayne sees what he wants, though; sees he ain't looking for trouble, just wanting a good time. So he nods, slowly, and steps back into the shadows. Merc's got decent guns, and decent clothes, and that's shiny. The more money the whores make, the more money Jayne makes. It's a good deal all round.
The whores keep to the deal. He gets his pay, and Jayne's fucked with each of them, at least once. They all got different talents.
Maybe his favourite is Aaron, 'cause he's cocky as hell, and that makes Jayne laugh. They have a decent time together, and if they ain't friends, at least they keep each other entertained before and after the sex, mostly with stories about jobs and folk.
So, Aaron don't annoy him too much, even if his smart mouth means that Jayne wants to punch him sometimes when he goes too far.
"Jayne," he says one afternoon, long before the first customer, and way into a bottle of whiskey, "that's an interesting name for a man."
Jayne shrugs, 'cause this ain't hardly original questioning. How many times has he heard something along these lines? But he ain't inclined to get pissy about it, seeing as how Aaron's straddling his hips, fingers busily tracing down Jayne's chest. It's a warm-up, a tease before the real thing. "It's a name."
"Kinda girly name."
Hell, Aaron can talk. Him with his soft skin and clean nails. Maybe that's for men on Core planets, but out in the 'verse Jayne lives in, that's kinda girly in itself. "I ain't a girl."
Aaron laughs, winks. "I noticed." Then he leans down, kisses Jayne hard on the mouth, then shifts a little, follows the path of his fingers with his tongue.
Jayne has a boatload of fun, that afternoon. He always does. No matter what he's in the mood for, they can always take it.
He gets used to being around pretty-boy whores, and sometimes he thinks his edge is getting blunted. He starts spending more of his daytime working out, just to keep in shape. Maybe he misses running with a crew once in a while. Sometimes he misses the guns he lost when the Hebrine got locked down. He'd had some real beauties.
But the pay is decent; some nights trade is better than the rest, but Jayne always ends up with good coin. He's building up a decent amount of cash, hidden away. He buys more guns, starts working on a good collection again. He also takes his pick of knives and such from some of the idiots who still think they can mess with his boys.
He starts bedding down in the house the whores share. Each has their own room for work, and there ain't any extras to spare for Jayne. But after a few weeks, Charlie says, "It's stupid, you paying for the dive you're in. And maybe we could use you around the place. Might help with whoever keeps thieving some of our money. And, it can get violent there, some nights."
He ain't sure what to say. It would mean giving up his own space, but hell.
"You talk to the others about this?"
"Yeah. They don't got a problem. Except Zach. But he's a contrary sort."
Yeah, Jayne's got his own thoughts on that.
Best they can offer is a cot in the main room. "It ain't fancy," Charlie says, when he points it out. Just something long enough to hold Jayne, and kinda lumpy looking. But it's tucked up in a corner, by a window, and it's got blankets. Jayne's slept in worse, and it's free, so he takes it.
Means that some nights he gets bothered by folk coming in and out at all hours. But he ignores the laughs, the grabbing, and turns to the wall. He always falls back asleep.
Doesn't ever get woken by someone coming to steal.
One night, when he's only been living in the house about a week, he comes back to find Zach riffling through his things. Looks like he's found the thief the others were complaining about.
"Lookin' for somethin'?"
He expects Zach to jump up, startled like, but instead, he slowly stands up. Makes Jayne think of some kind of animal uncoiling.
He's already got a knife in his hand when he sees Zach's got a fistful of money. Jayne's gorram money, the stuff he hides under a board he pulled loose. The knife is out of his hand before he thinks about it, landing hard in Zach's shoulder.
He follows the path of the knife, stepping close and clocking Zach in the jaw. Then he's got the whore pushed up against the wall.
"I earned it. Got the bruises to show for it." He says it with little gasps between words. Knife must hurt like a son of a bitch.
Not that he cares how much it hurts. It's Jayne's gorram pay, and he don't care what kinds of things Zach had to do to get it. That ain't ever been his problem. "Touch my things again, I'll make sure you can't ever use your mouth to make one more coin."
And he's serious. This ain't some favour he's doing them; he ain't their friend. Best they all learn that real fast.
So, he's waiting for the rest of them, as they trickle back to the house. He leaves Zach sitting on a chair, tied up, knife still sticking out of his shoulder. It ain't a killing wound, and having him sitting like that, it's good for effect.
First one to walk through the door is Sumit. He takes one look, starts to back away. His face closes up, and Jayne can see him thinking that it was all sorts of a bad idea to hire an unknown merc for protection.
Standing, Jayne moves around so he's behind Zach's chair, on hand on Zach's shoulder, the other on the knife. He opens his mouth, and explains to Sumit, real slow, what he'll do the next time he finds someone trying to steal from him. He illustrates the point by pushing the knife a little deeper.
After that, it takes a while for things to go back to running smooth. Zach's shoulder heals slow, though it ain't exactly like he needs it for whoring. Whore with only one workable arm, it can't be called the end of the world. There're other things he can do.
The whores, they watch Jayne out of the corner of their eyes, sometimes a little twitchy. He's sure they're wondering if they made a mistake. He can't quite figure why they don't just stop paying him, unless it's that they're worried what he might do if they did.
He ain't got a problem with them having those sorts of worries. But eventually it gets back to the way things used to be; most of them go back to looking at him the way they did in the past.
Except for Zach. Even once his shoulders's healed up, Zach don't look at him at all, except for the times Jayne turns, sees him staring hard, his face scrunched up and angry. It's gonna mean trouble; Jayne knows it. He's damned if he knows what form it's gonna take, though.
But most nights have the same sort of feel. Weather, or local happenings, sometimes that stirs things up a little, makes for a change. Tonight, it's pissing rain, so Jayne and his boys are holed up in the bar. It's packed tight, everyone else not too keen on getting drowned outside.
Locals are getting pissed out of their minds. Explosion at the local mine took out a bunch of them, mostly in the fire, and it's got everyone feeling blue.
It's good news for the whores. Lots of money from men who want to forget the carnage, even if just for a couple of hours. Barkeep's happy too; Jayne figures the liquor stocks will be pretty much drained by the end of the night.
Maybe it's the extra drinking, plus the anger at the mine owners and their sloppy ways, but the mood in the bar is volatile. He's thinking maybe it'd be best if some of the whores took a night off, 'cause he's got this feeling that he might not be able to keep tabs on them all.
He says as much to Charlie, who happens to be unoccupied right then.
He ain't surprised by the answer. Would be stupid to toss away the chance to make extra coin. Still – "I can't make no guarantees that I can watch all of you if things get tense."
Charlie shrugs, drinks down his beer. "Do your best."
Right. But if one of them is put out of commission, his cut is less. "You pay me to think of these things."
"But we ain't paying you to try and run us."
"Wouldn't be that." Though some days, he wonders what he might make if he actually owned a piece of their asses. Sometimes he figures he could get them under his thumb right proper. Especially Zach, who could use a strong hand.
But owning whores brings trouble, mostly because they've got minds of their own. Jayne figures the only options are to either let 'em run independent, or string 'em out on drops. And drops bring their own problems, mostly with the local law. "It just makes sense."
Already he can feel the tension in the bar ratcheting up a notch. Most local folk know better than to screw with his boys at this point; don't mean that one of them might not get stupid. He can't believe what he wants to say, but he says it anyway, "Sometimes money ain't worth the risk."
Charlie gestures to the bartender and gets another beer. Instead of drinking it his own self, he hands it to Jayne. Then he pats him on the arm, like maybe he thinks Jayne's simple. "Don't worry on it."
It ain't that he's worried.
Less than half an hour later, Charlie's gone, and Jayne's in the thick of the worst brawl he's seen in weeks.
It's decent fun, and he'd let it run its course- except, he ain't got no clue where any of the boys are, and he's just barely keeping his head above the fighting. As he knocks a couple of heads together, he scans the bar. Nothing.
More fighting. Hell, it's gonna be all kinds of fuss cleaning this place up.
He clocks one local, not too hard, but enough to send him down. It ain't the locals he's worried about. It's the gorram mercs who decided that they'd go and start a fight with a miner, causing this whole ruckus. The worst rutting night for rowdy mercs.
A few more knocked heads, a couple good swings at folk stupid enough to get near him, and then he finally manages to wade through the men tangled up and fighting and shouting. He gets to the other side of bar where he last saw Charlie heading. Takes a few moments of looking in dark corners, but finally he sees hair he recognizes. It's bloodied, and on a head that's lying at a bad angle.
Man crouched over him, he ain't a local.
Jayne's there in a few steps, not even noticing the fighting around and behind him. He gets his hands around the merc's skinny little neck, and just slams him against the nearest wall. Something crunches, and Jayne lets the body slump to the ground. He can see where there are cuts and blood, where the guy's clothes are torn – Charlie didn't go down easy.
When he goes to look, see about Charlie's body, he's shocked to see the boy's still breathing. Hell, his eyes are even open. Jayne takes one look and curses. Some folk, they got a twisted idea of what's fun. Charlie's been cut on, real bad. Enough that's it'll mar up his pretty looks some. But he's breathing, looking up at Jayne, eyes wide.
It ain't until later, when Charlie's been doped, sewn up, and told that he's got to stay in bed for weeks, that Jayne hears the stories about one particular crew. This crew, they got crazed notions of normal, like hurting folk for fun. Them types, they always seem to drift together. Most of the townspeople avoid 'em when they land.
The boys know better, but Charlie, he'd just pushed the stories out of his head.
"Money was too good," Aaron tells Jayne later, over a bottle. "He let that muddy up his thinking. It happens. He'll heal up. Won't happen again."
Yeah, maybe. But Charlie's going to be out of commission for a long while. And some of the boys are pissed at Jayne for not getting there sooner. But he never said he'd be there all the time. He warned 'em all about the tensions in the bar. Ain't his fault if they don't listen, if they get headstrong and figure they know better.
Jayne just does as he's paid to do.
He should be expecting it when it all starts to go to shit. He should have known it was coming, because he was starting to feel comfortable. Always seems to be the way. Soon has he starts to know the pattern of things, that spells the end of it going smooth.
One night, he gets back to the house real late. He wasted most of the night waiting for Zach to fix up a customer and disappear. Rutting boy is starting to be a pain in the ass, and he ain't pulling his weight.
Afterwards, he'd headed to the bar for a few drinks. It's the best way to end the night, and somehow, it always turns into more than a few. By the time he gets back to the house, it's close enough to dawn that it almost ain't worth sleeping.
It's quiet inside, and even if it is almost light, he's all set for a decent lie-down. Except something seems off, and he's trying to place it when he sees his bed's already full up with someone else. He squints, walks closer. It's Zach, waiting for him.
"Thought maybe – well, I figured it's been a while."
It has, 'cause Jayne ain't been real interested in doing nothing with Zach. Others have been just fine. But here he is, naked in Jayne's bed, and maybe it's an apology, maybe he's saying he won't do wrong again. And Jayne's been drinking and wouldn't mind a decent thrust; it don't look like there're others around to play with.
So he nods, shucks off his shirt, gets naked himself as fast as he can. Then he's on the bed, and Zach's hand is wrapped tight around his cock, just the right kind of pressure. It's almost enough, but Jayne knows what he wants. "Turn over."
Zach pushes himself up a little, smiles, and says, "Sure thing." But instead of moving right away, he reaches one arm up, pulls Jayne's head down, kissing him. And Zach is good at kissing, knows all about how to get a man even more riled up. He just kisses and kisses, and there's nothing pretty about it. It's just lips and tongue, and teeth, and Jayne is getting right into it when he suddenly feels off. Just not quite –
When he wakes up, his head is spinning, and he's lying on the floor, one arm twisted up underneath his back. Other arm's throbbing like a son of a bitch, and when he looks over, he sees a knife sticking into his bicep. Yanking it out, he sits up, looking for something to tie around the cut. Ain't too bloody, more a shallow wound than anything. Someone didn't know shit about using knives.
He grabs the nearest shirt, holds one end in his teeth, and tears a few strips off.
After his arm is tied up nice, it takes him a minute to figure what the hell happened. Then it hits him. Gorram Zach. Rutting drugs.
He's furious as all hell as he heaves himself off the floor, as he pulls on his clothes and picks up his knives and his gun. He's about to head upstairs, lay into Zach for a while, when something glints in the low light. It ain't right, so Jayne shifts direction, goes and checks it out.
It's a puddle, and Jayne ain't a genius, he knows that, but he also knows what blood smells like. It's a whole lot of blood, and it makes his hair stand on end. Drawing a gun, he heads towards the kitchen. He finds the body before he even makes five steps; it's tossed up behind a chair. Looks like someone tried to hide it.
Jayne gives the body a shake, just in case. It's no good; he's too late. The head just rolls back, and it's Aaron, staring up at him with nothing behind his eyes. Half of Aaron's face has been shot off, and Jayne don't understand why that didn't bring the others running.
It don't bode well; he tries to remember how many of them had said they were taking customers back to the house; how many had made other arrangements. Aaron was coming back here, and maybe Kim. He heads upstairs, and sure enough, Kim's shot in the chest, half lying on his bed.
Other rooms are empty, but Jayne can see things have been opened up, pulled apart. Figures each of the whores would have his own hiding place for the money. Figures that the money would get found anyway.
He finds the gun in Zach's room. It's one of his own, one he bought a while back; he keeps them all stashed away. When he goes to check the hidey-hole, the rest of the guns are there, but the money's missing. All of it.
He knows what it means. Rutting Zach went and forgot the basic rules. And he ain't sure what to do about it, except track him down. Clean-up detail weren't never discussed, back when they made the deal.
"Gorram," he mutters to himself, mostly just to hear a voice. "Stupid whores. Going and gettin' themselves killed. Cuttin' into a man's pay."
His voice sounds hollow, and maybe it's just 'cause it's so quiet, and he's alone.
Way he sees it, he can either go to the law, or track Zach down himself. But if he up and disappears, folk will get wind and figure he offed Kim and Aaron himself. Fit of rage, people might say. Or that he wanted more money. He can just imagine it. No way is he going to jail. No way is he being set up by some rutting whore who tried to trick him.
Best idea is to make a show of doing things legit, then track Zach down by himself. Sheriff herself, she's been around a handful of times, probably won't cause too much trouble. She never has bothered to harass Jayne's boys. The local law know the lay of the land, know that whoring helps keep the locals happy and mostly quiet. She probably knows sometimes it's best to let folk take care of their own justice, too.
So he walks straight over to the sheriff's office. It's just early dawn now, but the place is opened up, and the sheriff herself is there. Wouldn't do no good to be at home sleeping when most of the bad comes down in the night. She's probably fixing to head home right about now. Before she can start making noises about heading out, Jayne says,
"Got two dead whores."
Sheriff looks at him. "Yeah?"
Jayne thinks of the puddle of blood, the hole where Aaron's jaw is supposed to be, and says, "Yeah."
And that’s pretty much all the talking they do until they get back to the house. Sheriff takes a look around, takes notes, and asks, "Where are the others?"
Jayne ain't got a decent answer for that. No telling if Zach did it himself, or if he hooked up with the others. He figures he's gonna have to wait at the house for a spell, see who shows and who don't. Sheriff nods, and tells her deputy to contact the local doc.
"We'll get these bodies squared away." The doc comes, and takes a look at Jayne's arm. He cleans it up a little without so much as a word. And the bodies get taken, blood gets cleaned up, just like that. Doing things the legit way, maybe its got some advantages.
Except that the sheriff asks him all sorts of questions, like she don't buy his story about Zach. It gets Jayne riled. He was drugged. When he points out that he got stabbed, she stares him down and says,
"Could've been one of the boys. Self-defense."
He ain't got a good answer for that, except that he didn't kill the boys. Ain't his style to cut back on his own profit. Seems like eventually he makes that clear, 'cause he gets left alone.
All in all, before Jayne knows it, it's way past dawn. Sumit walks through the door just as the sun starts get real warm. The sheriff's gone by then, and it's just Jayne, sitting on a chair and waiting. Sumit takes one look at him, and asks, "What?"
Boy's a mess. Hair everywhere, lips puffed a little, eyes bruised from lack of sleep. Looks like he had a rowdy night, the kind of night that's good for business. There ain't no way to tell him nicely, so he says, "Kim and Aaron got themselves killed. By Zach, most like. Drugged me first."
Sumit, he don't look all that surprised, after a minute. "Good-Night Kiss?"
Jayne shrugs. "Guess so."
Jayne nods. "Yep."
Shaking his head, Sumit curses, then says, "Never did trust him."
Nope. Never pays to be trusting. 'Specially with whores.
Once he's done with the explaining, he gets down to the business of tracking. Don't take much – Zach's got family outside of town, and he was dumb enough to let Charlie know all about it. Jayne heads there first, knocks out a few teeth from the first man he finds in the house. Don't take long for him to give up that Zach's hooked up a berth to get off-planet.
He gets back to town just in time. Ship's about to close up, head out, but they don't quite get to it before Jayne's onboard, shooting at anything he wants. Nobody likes bullets flying around their ship.
Captain gives up Zach quick as you please, after Jayne has words with him, then shoots one of the crew in the leg.
"No foul," he tells Jayne, "I ain't one to get in between a man and his whores."
No one with half a brain would be getting between Jayne and Zach right now. "Get flyin'. Then drop us in the desert, a few miles out of town." His gun's still pointed at the Captain's head, and Zach's lying on the ground, knocked right out. Took a few hits, but he went down.
"No problem." Though really, Jayne can see that it is.
When they land, Jayne drags Zach outside, then sits on a rock and waits for him to wake up. Takes a long time, and he should have known it would. This type, they don't got the right kind of stamina.
Finally, Zach's eyes open, and he asks, "What?" Word sounds funny, his lip being mashed up good.
"Never did take kindly to folk stealin' from me."
Zach laughs, a nasty sound. "You shoulda known it would happen."
And yeah, he should have. He shrugs, "You shoulda known I'd track you down." He pauses, looks down at his arm, wrapped up in clean, white bandages. "You shoulda killed me. Or at least stabbed me in the shooting arm. Might have slowed me down a bit." And before Zach can do anything else, Jayne shoots him right in the forehead. Quick and clean, and it's more than he deserves.
Takes hours to walk back into town, but Jayne figures, by the time he gets there, Zach's body is probably already half gone. Insects 'round these parts, they're downright nasty.
On the way back to town, Jayne makes up his mind. He got the money back, that belonging to him and the rest of them. It's enough to set him up, enough to get off-moon, go somewhere else to find work.
He's done with whores.
Summary: Jayne once ran a string of whores. Pre-Series.
Notes: For claireweasley.