Rating: PG13 for mentions of a theme
Summery: Planetside, Jayne gets arrested on a serious charge. Even a merc could use a little help sometimes.
Written for rinalin, who squeed quite happily over it. hope it serves.
"I'm telling you, my man didn't do this."
"You have no proof."
"Don't need proof." Mal was coldly angry at the delay. Serenity had already been grounded for two days while Jayne was "held for questioning" in the local jail.
"I heard you ask him yourself, and you didn't look too convinced when he said he wasn't involved." The local sheriff frowned unhappily. "It's not a pretty case, and you can see how there might be some question as to what happened. And your man is a stranger in town."
"He ain't no rapist," Mal said in denial. The Captain's calm was a little ruffled. That hun dan better not be as stupid as he looks, he thought darkly. He never would've pegged the merc for the kind to press a woman, but Jayne had proved him wrong before.
"He was seen, half drunk with the girl in his lap not half an hour beforehand." The sheriff rubbed his eyes. "We've got a witness puts him there."
"Don't care what you got." Zoe strolled in, shotgun tucked negligently under her arm. "He didn't do it."
The sheriff fixed her with a sharp look. "And how do you know, ma'am?"
"I know Jayne," she said, continuing past him to the locked door of the cell. "Jayne don't force women."
"He don't have to." Kaylee was standing there, arms crossed, looking about as tough as a teddy bear. "And he wouldn't, no how."
"You can ask," River stepped around Kaylee to join Zoe by the door. "And you can hear the answer, but do you listen?"
"What the hell are you three doing here?" Mal demanded.
"Four," corrected Inara, brushing dirt off of the hem of her dress. "And we are here to make sure something stupid doesn't happen."
The sheriff blinked in confusion when confronted with four irritated women, at least one of which was visibly armed. "Ain't nothing going to happen," he grumbled. "Not til after the trial."
"Way I heard it," Zoe said, resting the shotgun on her hip, "Is that the trial's just a formality. That its already been decided and that you're planning on hanging that man in there."
The sheriff glared. "We follow the law, hereabouts."
"Maybe you ought to go let everyone know we're planning on guarding this man, tonight, so nobody gets any ideas." Zoe smiled calmly and cocked her shotgun. "We wouldn't want any accidents."
The sheriff was very unhappy. He glowered at the ground standing in his jail, before stalking off to talk to the deputies outside.
"Didn't do it," River announced, standing on tiptoe to peer into the small window on the cell. "Likes warm and willing. And enthusiastic."
"And he gets it," Kaylee pointed out. "Besides, you ever heard any of Jayne's whores complain?"
"They love him," Inara told Mal. "He has never had any charges filed against him, formally or informally. I checked."
"So, you thought he might have done it too?" Mal raised an eyebrow spitefully.
Inara rolled her eyes. "I checked because I knew you needed facts to get him out of jail."
"You know Jayne better than that, Sir." Zoe was blanked faced, a dead giveaway she was pissed at her captain.
"He could'a done it, Zoe," Mal said. "He don't like being told no."
"And he woulda grumbled and complained, and found a girl who wouldn't mind that he wanted to pay her in weaponry, Sir."
"He wouldn't 'a done it, Captain," Kaylee said stoutly. "It don't matter how mad he was, Jayne wouldn't raise his hand to a woman. Less she was trying to kill him," she added.
"So, what?" Mal asked. "You're just gonna stay here and hope no one proves differently?"
"We're staying right here, Mal," Inara said calmly. "Jayne comes in handy on occasion, and we aren't going to let him hang for something he didn't do."
He looked around at the group of determined women. "I don't get it. How come you're so certain he didn't do it."
"Wouldn't," River said again. "Doesn't like the taste of fear in his mouth."
Mal blinked. "Huh?"
Inara shrugged one pale shoulder. "I can read people pretty well, Mal," she pointed out. "I have never been concerned about being left alone with him."
"Me either," Kaylee said. "And you know he wouldn't mess with Zoe, cause she'd hurt him. And he wouldn't mess with 'Nara, cause she's too fancy. That leaves me and River, and he ain't never tried a thing."
She rolled her eyes. "He flirted some when he first came on board, is all, but he quit when I didn't do nothing."
They all looked at River, who was examining the hinges on the door to the cell. "Looks but has never touched, except to prevent hurt." She spun in place. "And once when I slipped, all he could reach was my thigh."
"He touched your thigh?" Mal yelped.
River frowned. "Was an accident." She turned back to the door. "He has very large hands. That's supposed to be a good sign."
Mal blinked. "I didn't wanna know that last bit. Ever."
She shrugged. "Big feet too."
The captain covered his face with his hands. "Alright, so, you four are going to stay here and keep Mr Innocent in there from getting hisself strung up, right?"
All four women nodded.
"Then, I'm gonna go back to the ship, and see if we can't figure out what really happened."
"Tell Simon that I ain't speaking to him," Kaylee told him with a scowl. "He thinks Jayne coulda done it too."
Mal left, shaking his head at the insanity of the women of Serenity. Women who were willing to stand up for a mercenary with a tendency to leer, insult, or tease them at a moment's notice.
Women were crazy.
It was a long night, trying to get things sorted out, using only the men. But they did track down the "witness." Turns out he was the woman's ex husband, and hadn't taken kindly to how friendly Betty'd been getting with the big stranger. So he had waited 'til she passed out after Jayne left, then attacked her.
She hadn't woken up yet, as she was hurt something awful. So she hadn't been able to tell anyone what had happened.
But Jayne was innocent. And the women had known all along.
Mal winced. He was going to have some apologizing to do.
He finally convinced the Sheriff to release the merc, and headed off to pick up Jayne and the ladies.
He wasn't expecting what he saw when he walked into the jail cell.
At some point, the ladies had joined Jayne in the cell. And at some point, every single one of them had dropped off in exhaustion.
Inara was on the far end of the bunk, sprawled gracefully against the bars, head resting on one arm. Zoe was at the other end, shotgun still resting across her knees.
Mal had forgotten her odd ability to literally fall asleep sitting up.
And smack dab in the middle, Jayne snored, propped up by the wall. Snuggled up on either side of him were River and Kaylee, with their heads on his chest and his arms around them. He sighed, and Kaylee rubbed his stomach comfortingly.
It would've been cute if it weren't so disturbing.
River shifted in her sleep, one eyes opening and focusing directly on the captain.
"Should've listened," she whispered, rubbing her cheek on Jayne's arm. "Silly Captain."
With that grand pronouncement, she curled up even closer to Jayne, wiggling until his arm was settled securely around her waist, and went back to sleep.
Leaving Mal staring in confusion.
He was way too sober to deal with this.