(I had made some changes to Part 1 of Jaynestown before publishing and just now decided to go back and change them back. Just a small change to Book and Jayne's conversation in the gym. Also, in this chapter I messed with the timeline from the episode a bit. No real reason, just felt like it. Nothing to write home about. Chapter content warning: Intoxication and intoxicated group sex. Enjoy!)
Jaynestown (Part 3)
A cheer erupted in the crowded tavern at the opening lines of the song. Jayne dropped his chin down even lower and tried to dissolve completely into the bench. The members of his crew all looked around at him, as though some explanation for this nightmare hell-scape would be written on Jayne's horrified face.
"Need another drink." He grunted out, dismissing himself from having to provide any answers to their questions. Not that he had any answers anyway. He had no ruttin' idea why anyone on this planet would have any fond memories of him. Save for one, but that was purely casual. Jayne hit the rough wood of the bartop with his empty mug. "More milk."
Jayne was briefly surprised when he recognized the grizzled barkeep, Max, when the stoic man turned around at the sound of his voice. Jayne dropped his face and feigned looking over his shoulder at the man playing the guitar as the thick liquid glugged into his mug. Jayne nodded and grunted in lieu of thanks and dropped a few coins on the counter. He was hoping paying now would make Max care less about Jayne and his table than if they had an outstanding tab, but this seemed to backfire. Jayne noticed the old man's crinkled eyes widen slightly at the coins and Jayne kicked himself internally.
'Gorrammit, they're clean.' Jayne thought. He'd marked himself as an outsider. 'When did I get so bad at this?' He shuffled back to the table and slumped down with his crew. He kept his back to the eerie-ass performance.
Mal leaned in and pretended to be looking over Jayne's shoulder at the singer. "Jayne," the captain said.
"While we may not know each other personally, I do think I know your type. How in hell did they get your name? That's the latest part of this that I just can't seem to figure a fit for."
Jayne shifted slightly. "I may'a told one person my name, but I didn't think it would matter. And then the job went sideways-" Jayne trailed off and lifted one shoulder in a half hearted shrug.
"And 60,000 untraceable alliance credit chits dropped in the middle of town. So they had a miracle," Mal paused and slowly slid his eyes to lock onto Jayne's, "and the name of the miracle maker."
Jayne shook his head. He didn't know what to do. Should he apologize? He didn't have any way to know what had happened here. He hightailed it out happy to have a craft to get him back to dark space where he could disappear with relative ease. He'd never heard what happened to his partner on that job. Last he saw of him was when the other man slipped and fell while they were pushing out anything what weren't welded down in order to lighten the load and get out of the range of the missiles the Magistrate's henchmen were firing. He had reached for his partner's flailing body but it was apparent immediately that he'd never get to him in time. Jayne had a strong feeling that he was the only one who made it out that night.
All that money hit the ground and suddenly every last person in this stinking pit of a town had something to fight for.
Maybe it was all in his head, but there seemed to be a lot of less-than-subtle glances in his direction, and a fair amount of shuffling out of the bar which made Jayne's danger sense flare up considerably.
"I gotta get out of here." Jayne muttered to Mal, who nodded and collected his crew with a glance and a 'wrap it up' hand motion. Jayne led the way up the stairs and out to street level. The sun had set and it was no longer possible to see beyond the orange glow of the flickering gas lamps. Which was frankly an aesthetic improvement on the town as a whole. The crowd of mudders gathered around the entrance to the tavern was distinctly not an improvement on anything.
"See?" The people in the front of the group stepped back to give Jayne and his crew some space, they crowded together whispering and pointing. In the low light it was difficult at first to tell who was speaking. Soon Jayne identified that the voice came from a young man in the front, he was coated in mud like the rest of them and Jayne forgave himself the delay in perception as they all blurred together into a dirt colored mass.
"See?" He repeated, "Jayne Cobb has returned!" A cheer went up from the gathered mudders. The pit of Jayne's stomach felt ice cold. He turned and pushed his way back into the tavern, not sure of the best way out of this. Maybe the bar had a back door. It was built partially underground which allowed it to be one of the few multi-story buildings. Maybe he could make a break for it from a window on the second story. While his mind raced, a voice in the back of his thoughts reminded him to lay low for the few seconds he still had a chance. He slowed to what he hoped came across as a casual pace and grabbed up a mug of milk from the bar in an effort to blend in. Suddenly the barkeep was at his elbow. Max slapped the rough cup out of his hands. The unexpected motion sent Jayne reaching for his holster only to remember that he was woefully unarmed. His hand groped at his hip for a moment before the old man in front of him slammed down a clear glass bottle of brown liquid in front of him.
"Jayne Cobb don't drink tha' la ji in my bar." Max spoke with a slur that betrayed his age and his livelihood. "'E drinks the bes' whiskey in the house!"
A cheer rose up from the crowd that had been filing into the room behind him. Jayne spun about in a panic, he saw his crew against the back wall. But in the space between them a sea of people had appeared by some curse of some trickster diety with a sick sense of humor.
The next several moments passed in a blur. Aided by a belly full of mudders milk, the mid-range whiskey (which Max had been saving for a special occasion) burned Jayne's throat in a way that made him feel alive. His fears of these people being crazy and wanting to kill him were replaced by the more fun realization that these people are crazy and they loved him. Men and women ranging from old and bent to some kid who barely came up to his hip all wanted to experience him. They came up and thanked him, or hugged him, or poured him more alcohol, or just touched him and cried. It was all sorts of unnatural, but their words began to sink into his booze-soaked mind and he started to feel like he really did deserve it. Hell, they had a riot on account of him! He made them happy and made their miserable lives a little less miserable. They didn't need to know that it was all by fluke that the money fell here and not in the pits or an uninhabited swamp or to the bottom of a lake. The night wore on and Jayne lost sight of his crew. He gave several short drunken toasts and speeches which were all extremely well received. He was starting to have trouble orienting himself vertically and required the aide (which was offered immediately and without question) by a few young people standing near him. As they assisted him up the stairs in the back of the tavern Jayne glanced back and his bleary eyes fell on Kaylee and Simon. They both looked quite drunk and having a good time. Simon was reclined on a bench with his fancy jacket rolled up on the armrest. He needed that place for his head to be propped because Kaylee was straddling the young doctor and their lips were locked enthusiastically.
Anger flared up in his chest, mixed with something else that made him wonder if he would vomit. He tried to say something, but it just came out as a series of unintelligible sounds. There were three people helping to get him maneuvered up the stairs. A young man, Jayne thought he remembered him saying his name was Caid, and two young women. The women were hard for him to tell apart, he knew one was Rosalie and the other one was… aw hell he couldn't remember. Caid supported Jayne with his shoulder pushed into Jayne's armpit and his arm slung over the younger man's shoulders. Not-Rosalie opened the door to a room upstairs. His booze addled mind registered that it wasn't the room he'd romped with Vera in all those years ago. This one also had a dresser with the basin of water and soap, but the bed was much larger. Jayne registered as he flopped unceremoniously face down onto the bed that it was actually two smaller mattresses pushed together on a bigger frame.
He closed his eyes and let the world stop spinning for a moment. He may have drifted off to sleep briefly, or possibly simply blacked out. The next thing he sensed was the sharp smell of lemon soap. Jayne opened his bleary eyes and saw Rosalie and not-Rosalie and Caid gingerly removing his clothing. They were all mostly undressed themselves and appeared to be completing that washing ritual on each other and on him. Jayne lifted a hand and rubbed it across his chest, he then held it up to his eyes and squinted. The cool clean water was still clinging to him. The scent from the soap seemed to help wake him up. He reached out toward the three young people, now they looked much different than they did when assisting him up the stairs. He could tell that all three of them were underfed but otherwise looked healthy. He could tell that Rosalie had dark brown hair that hung to her shoulders. She appeared to have recently scrubbed her face because her cheeks were rosy from the friction, but the lines around her eyes and mouth showed either age or just hard living. The girl, he had to stop thinking of her as Not-Rosalie, but until he could ask the question and remember the answer that'd have to do, was short and stocky. She had short reddish hair that looked as though she had just washed it out. Trickles of water dripped from her bright locks onto her shoulders and breasts. Caid had also washed his hair, it was short and black and currently was standing up in ridges where he'd run his fingers through it in lieu of a comb. Caid's body was lankey and long, he was almost wirey. All three of them had the muscles from hard labor. All of them were gently and methodically washing Jayne's body. He lowered his eyes to notice for the first time that he was fully nude. He noticed his boots by the door and his clothes all folded carefully on top of the dresser.
He tried to speak but his throat was dry. Caid handed him a glass of clear water and Jayne nodded and took a swallow. And then another. Jayne licked his lips and closed his eyes in concentration.
"I'm vaxxed, an'… an' what's your name?" He pointed.
"Sora," the redheaded girl blushed. Jayne nodded and pointed at the other two in turn.
"Caid an' Rosalie?"
They nodded enthusiastically as he spoke their names.
Sora dipped the towel she was holding into the water and wrung it out before caressing his hand with it. She gently dabbed the wet cloth on his knuckles which he only just now noticed looked much better than they had when he first came to this… this great little moon. What a great town. What great gorram people. When Sora finished cleaning his knuckles he lifted his hand and took hers.
"Thank you." He focused hard on pronouncing the words without a slur or stutter. She seemed shocked at his words. Jayne pulled his gaze away from her pale and freshly scrubbed body and they came to rest on first Caid and then Rosalie in turn. "Thank you. Thank you." They all appeared to be equally amazed and grateful to be addressed. Rosalie had been cleaning his knuckles on his other hand and when she finished he reached out and caressed her face. Her dark hair was damp from the bathing that Jayne wasn't present for, but it looked like she'd run a comb through her hair and the strands fell down in loose twists on her shoulders and some clung coolly to the skin of his wrist and tickled the sensitive skin on his inner forearm as she leaned into his palm.
Jayne felt sudden concern that he didn't want any of them to feel neglected. They needed this, they needed him. He felt the burden of their belief in him settle onto his shoulders. Turning back to Sora he slid his hand up her muscled arm and drew his fingertips down her glistening skin to stroke her small breast, the nipples stood out and cast small shadows from the dim lamps. Jayne rocked his upper body up in a crunch and thanked the time he'd spent pining away in the gym as he seemed to still have strength despite the alcohol and exhaustion saturating his body. Jayne reached his hand out to Caid who had been standing at the foot of the bed. The young man responded to his reach and met him half-way, kneeling cautiously about even with Jayne's knee. They looked into each others' eyes for a moment and exchanged all the information they needed to with a slow blink and a nod.
A small smile came onto Caid's face and Jayne brought himself up into a sitting position, meeting the other man's lips. Jayne felt five separate hands on his body and the attention was both overwhelming and exciting. Jayne had been lucky enough to find himself in a few situations before now where there were multiple partners to attend to. They certainly weren't the norm for him, though, and he found it to be almost like work until the rhythm found itself. Jayne leaned back and closed his eyes. There were hands and mouths all over his body and he couldn't tell where one partner ended and another began. Jayne began slowly bucking his hips and grinding his cock into the soft warm crevasses which rose to greet him. He checked in periodically with his own limbs. His right hand was cupping someone's vulva, his fingers diving into their soft core while his thumb flicked at their swollen clitoris. The owner of that body was gyrating against his hand slightly, urging him to continue. His left hand was wrapped around someone's firm shaft. He worked the shape carefully and ran his thumb down the ridge on the underside of their cock. There were at least one hand and two mouths on his own erection. Another mouth was on his neck.
Jayne didn't know how long they writhed intertwined with each other, he'd lost count of all the soft peaks and valleys of pleasure he'd endured and shared. At some point he simply drifted to sleep coaxed into relaxation by warm bodies, hands, and mouths. They slept wrapped around each other; arms and legs twisted together under a thin rough sheet. Too soon, the morning sun stabbed through the open window and split the lids of Jayne's eyes, puffy and tender from not enough sleep and too much booze. The light sent a sharp pain through to the back of his skull and he squeezed his eyes shut and turned away from the unwelcome invading photons. Waves or particles, let the physicists decide, all Jayne cared was that they left him be.
One of the people in his bed, the older of the two women (Rosalie, his sleepy mind reminded him after a moment) also stirred. She looked around and then up into his face and had the look of someone realizing the dream they'd been having was real. Her dark eyes widened as she saw him looking at her.
She nodded vigorously. The movement caused the other two to stir.
"Rosalie, do you know a woman from here by the name o' Vera?" Jayne furrowed his brow until the rest of her name came to him, "Vera Mo'ehi."
Rosalie met Jayne's question with a puzzled expression but Caid spoke up from Jayne's other side.
"Vera's gone. She got out."
Jayne struggled against the twisted sheet and the limbs and got his elbows against the bed. Propping himself up he fixed Caid with a quizzical look.
"You knew her? What happened?"
Caid nodded. The young man rolled off the end of the bed and started moving around the room collecting his clothes.
"Yeah, I knew her pretty good. My dad was a pretty heavy drinker, I spent a lot of time downstairs when I was young waiting for him to get tired enough that I could convince him to leave. That was before I was old enough to start in the pits. I was probably 10 or 11 when Vera started working for Max on her off shifts. She'd keep me company and teach me games and tell me stories."
Jayne's brow furrowed. "How… how old 're ya now?" He tried to keep his voice casual, but some guilt seeped into the question. In the daylight Caid looked much younger than both Rosalie and Sora, both of whom where now awake and making moves to dress themselves.
Caid smirked. "Bú yòng dān xīn. I'm 18. I been in the pits for almost 3 years now. With two of us working we'll get my dad's debt gone in just another couple years and then we're out of here too." Jayne nodded and felt some color rise into his cheeks. He'd been too drunk last night. "Anyway," Caid continued, "Vera paid her debt off not long after Jaynesday… the day you let the money hit sky right over town," the teen added when he saw Jayne's brow furrow again.
Sora picked up her clothes and picked up the story from Caid. "The Magistrate's men rolled into town with guns and were makin' mind to take it back. But there were more a' us then them." Sora pulled her underclothes on and tossed Rosalie's dress to her. The raven haired woman caught it with a smile and blew Sora a kiss. The young redhead cracked a genuine smile and Jayne wondered who these three were for certainly they didn't just pop into existence the moment they appeared under his limbs when he was too drunk to stand.
"Were ya'll here?" Jayne asked.
Rosalie shook her head, but Caid and Sora nodded. "I had just started in the pits," Sora said. "I thought I was going to die. We start at sixteen here. I was small for my age, or so my ma always said, and I was always afraid I'd fall down in the mud an' get pulled under…" Her voice trailed off with a slight tremble as her eyes slid out of focus, imagining drowning in the thick cold darkness. "I thought I was going to die," she repeated a little quieter. "But that night that you dropped the money? I had just drug myself back into town, I barely had the strength left to wash myself off that night. But suddenly everyone was shouting and pointing up. I was scared that the low plane was gonna drop bombs on us, like ma told me about from her days as a browncoat in the war. In a way I was relieved, it was going to end all our pain and sufferin'. But instead of a bomb blowing up in the town and killin' us all, it was the crates." Jayne hung on her every word. He had been there there, obviously, but he never even noticed that there were people below. All he'd seen was brown. The color of the mud, the streets, the buildings, and the people. Brown fading away to black in the dying light of the evening. He was keeping his eyes on the horizon where the sun was plunging toward the other side of the godsforsaken moon. That last batch of crates sliding out the back of his open cargo bay did the trick and he kept airborne. When he saw the elevation markers on his dash slowly start to increase he felt confident in his escape and jabbed the buttons to close the hatch and he proceeded to leave atmo.
"The crate nearest to me exploded when it hit ground," Sora continued, "and currency chits spilled out. Everyone fought at first, but soon enough we realized that it wasn't each other that we should be fightin', but the ones who were comin' to take it from us. Ya' see, we realized that we had more in common with each other than we did with them who'd've taken it back. And that even havin' lost all this money, the Magistrate was still richer 'n any and all of us would ever have in all our lifetimes combined. Why should we fight each other for a few scraps when we could fight the big man for all o' it."
"We picked up whatever weapons we had and fought back. Some people with pea shooters, some with clubs, some with fists." Caid picked up the story. "I was only 13, I hadn't started in the pits yet, but I was pretty strong. I helped a couple other boys knock down one of the Magistrate's guards. While the some of us were distracting him with kicks and punches, one was able to slip his weapon away from him and turn it on the other guards." Jayne's eyebrows raised in respect.
"It was a massive battle," Sora continued. "There were casualties on both sides, but eventually the Magistrate called off his men. He was losing money on both sides when he was losing workers for his company on the one hand and personal guards on the other. In the end he decided to let us keep it."
"The community came together in secret and met to decide what to do. The Magistrate didn't know we were doin' in. It was decided to split the money evenly between every person of workin' age. It took a while of deliberatin' to get to that conclusion. Some argued that every family aught to get the same share, which meant more would go to the single folk, others argued that every person of any age should get a share, which meant families with more kids to feed would get more. In the end, though, they split the difference. Every person 16 or older got a share. Some drank theirs away pretty fast, but a lot put the money toward their time. Vera didn't have much left on her debt and was able to buy her freedom only a year or so later."
"Where'd she go?" He asked with forced indifference. That was years ago, she could be anywhere by now.
Caid shook his head. "She didn't say. Probably one o' the central planets if I had a guess."
Jayne sat back against his elbows, mesmerized by the story they painted for him with their words. They'd had a battle, a whole gorram rebellion, on account of him. He had changed their whole world. He had made a difference and given people hope. And he'd helped some of them get out. He'd helped Vera get out. Jayne smiled slightly at the thought. He mattered here. He mattered to them.
His three companions dressed. Rosalie and Sora shared a passionate kiss. Caid smiled at them and Rosalie reached out and pinched the teen's cheek which made him groan and slap away her hand. Sora and Caid shared a light laugh and the redhead took the young man's hand in hers and pulled him toward the door. In the daylight he felt like an awkward addition to their group. The outsider. He didn't really belong with them. He was going to leave this place today (as long as things didn't go sideways again) and they'd stay here for months or years.
"Shift change in a few." Rosalie said as they stepped toward the door. Jayne nodded. He had work to do too.
He pulled his clothes on and rubbed his face with a rung out towel. He stepped out into the tavern and made his way down to figure out where his crew went. His heart felt light. He had value. He hadn't felt this way since-
"Kaylee?" He murmured. He stopped at the top of the stairs and he saw her. She was still asleep, her head on Simon's chest. His fancy jacket covering both of them like a blanket.
Jayne's feelings were mixed. Some annoyance, some jealousy, but mostly he felt stupid. Why had he let one person make him feel so worthless. He wasn't worthless. Jayne rubbed his hand over his busted knuckles on the other fist and shook his head. Book tried to tell him that he had value, but he hadn't see it until he came back here.