Disclaimer: There is no original content, except for the original content. All Hail Joss.
Timeline: Post Series, AU from there. Wash is alive, Inara and Book never left. As if there was no BDM.
'I couldn't dream this good.' Jayne thought as he drifted towards consciousness. He savored the sensation of soft curves, willing her not to fade into dreamland where she probably belonged.
It didn't happen too often, him waking up with a girl in his arms. He usually didn't have that kind of money. When he did, he didn't waste it in unconsciousness.
He inhaled deeply, admiring the scent of her hair. His body stirred in response. Damn she felt good all pressed up against him like he was special to her.
He pried his eyes open groggily, only to find deep darkness. Alarm rang thru his mind. This was all wrong. One of the most basic rules of whoreing was to leave a light burning.
He didn't remember her. Who was she? Where were they?
Did he drink that much last night? No. He shook his head carefully. He had no headache and he didn't stink like he'd been drinking.
Where were they anyway? There was no light source anywhere. This mattress sure wasn't his bunk on Serenity. It was even, firm and quite a bit more comfortable.
What was even more comfortable was the woman pinning him to it. His panic faded a little. He decided to put off moving to keep her on top of him the way she was. Ai ya she felt right fine there.
He sure hoped they had time for a bit more action before she kicked him out. The ache in his groin still felt like he hadn't found any trim in weeks, which had been his situation when he left the ship… when was that? Last night?
The feeling of dread crept back up his spine. There was something powerfully wrong about their situation.
He searched his mind for something concrete he could pin the feeling on. The last thing he could remember was leaving Serenity on Persephone.
There was a cathouse a few blocks from their usual landing zone that he'd been heading for.
There was a certain girl in particular who he'd hooked up with before. Her price wasn't too steep and she was a good time. Plus he was comfortable with her, which was getting to be more important to him the older he got.
So that was where he'd been headed, but that wasn't where he was now, the smell was all wrong.
Flashes of memory returned. He left the ship and Doc's crazy little sister followed him. He tried to take her back to the 'lock, but she kept dashing off in contrary directions. His head was starting to hurt now.
He'd half chased her, not even sure why he didn't let her get herself lost. Except that it would somehow become his fault. Oh, and by the way, he'd be the one who had to track her down anyway.
No more memory, just waking up here, in a strange place with a strange woman plastered to him.
No. Surely not. He let his hands wander a bit. Right size and shape. He groaned.
How in the seven pretty hells had he managed to wind up sleeping cuddled up with crazy River Tam?
And why didn't old John Thomas realize that she was in no way a sexable female?
It made no gorram sense at all. The two of them didn't even ruddy well like each other.
Well…not that he hadn't had sexin thoughts about her and every one of his female shipmates, but…
Fine, so that explained Johnny, but it still didn't explain the situation.
He knew the moment that she woke up. She went from fully relaxed to hyper alert.
"Jayne? Where are we?" Well, she clearly had no trouble identifying him.
"Shh." He whispered. "I'm not sure…"
"Ship." River whispered back. "Not ours."
Now that she mentioned it, he could feel the engine thrumming far away. He groaned again as her little hands explored his sides.
Gorramit, she was not a sexable female. Down boy.
"They took your weapons." She whimpered. "Knocked us out somehow. Drugs? Gas. Down the alley. Sorry. My fault. No sense of danger in the alley, just gas." She shivered violently, clutching at his shirt.
"Shush, now." He whispered into her hair. "Stop that." Gorramit, he wished there was someone else - anyone - he could pass her to. Crazy fits were not in his job description.
She clung tighter, seeming to try to climb into his skin. The way she squirmed against him made him painfully aware that knowing it was her still hadn't reduced his 'morning problem.'
"My fault." She repeated, distressed.
"Calm down." He said, awkwardly patting her back. "Ain't helping nuthin to get all riled up. Shh."
He had no way of knowing it, but the low rumbling of his chest calmed her more than anything had since she was a child. She turned her head so her ear was pressed against his chest.
"Talk." She ordered.
She lifted her head again when the rumbling stopped. "Just talk. I'm thinking."
"I don't know what you want me to say." He paused hoping for a clue.
"If you can't talk, hum." She said, shifting so that her hand reached around his shoulders.
So he hummed. Tunelessly at first, then his mind dredged up a lullaby his mother had sung to him. He sang it to her softly in the dark.
She sat up when he finished, or tried to. She hit her head before she expected to.
"Ouch. Pain. Hurts." She complained, laying back down on him, coming closer than ever to discovering the state of his arousal.
Jayne reached up and felt the ceiling. He'd assumed they were in a darkened cabin, but he now realized the space was much smaller. He stretched to touch the sides of their compartment. He didn't have to reach far in any direction.
"Sleeper cell." He growled. "See if you can find the door latches."
She shimmied down his body until she was curled up at his feet. He stifled another groan as her gorram breasts brushed his nethers. Damn, was there any chance she hadn't noticed?
"Here." She said. "Locked. No latches this side." She kept moving, inching back towards him. "Ventilation working." She crawled around him. "Here, storage compartment. Light." It was dim, but they both winced when she snapped it on.
Jayne propped an elbow under him and swept the compartment with his eyes. Not bad to sleep in. He'd seen worse, but he wouldn't like to be stuck here long.
His head would hit the ceiling if he so much as did a pushup. Sitting up was not going to be possible for either of them.
River was kneeling over him, fiddling with the latches of the storage compartment. She sure was shapely. He usually didn't let himself look her way so much.
If she just… He blinked, making himself look towards her hands. She was a reader and might could pick up those thoughts.
She had mighty pretty hands. Long fingers…
She grunted, a funny little sound coming from her, and the door of the storage slid up into the wall.
She continued her exploration, ignoring his wayward thoughts. "Ready meals, water faucet, waste recycler." She catalogued the contents of the closet aloud. "One blanket. Are you cold?"
He shook his head. "No." He added, realizing she hadn't looked his way.
She tallied up the Ready Meals.
"Eight days for two people, sixteen for one. Did they plan on two?" She looked around the cell and snorted.
She slid the door closed again.
"So." She said, settling between his feet, back hunched and head pressing into the padded ceiling.
"So." He agreed. "What do you think? Bounty hunters?"
"Two by two." She paused but then shook her head. "No, not coming." She cocked her head to the side as if listening for something. "They don't know. Random flies in the web. The girl means nothing to them."
"Good." He was almost surprised at how much he trusted her answer. "What are they? Slavers?"
She considered that for a moment. "Data is lacking."
"You sure we can't get out?" He asked. She hadn't half tried.
She arched her eyebrow at him. "He is welcome to try."
It took some determined maneuvering, but they switched places. He wondered if the hand on his ass was accidental. It seemed to him it lingered more than it had to. Naw, he decided, I'm making stuff up.
He examined the hatch. She was right. There were no latches or hinges on this side.
He worked out what leverage he could and pounded at it.
"The spider is alerted that the prey has revived." River said, eye roll implied in her tone.
The hatch did not give at all. He made a sour face at her. He flipped around and tried to kick it out, again with no success.
Hello 12A. The tinny voice came from a small speaker in the wall. You will have noticed it is not possible to escape. Persistence will earn you a dose of knockout gas. Calm down and enjoy the ride.
Y'all are bound for a right nice world. A bit on the under populated side, but you'll cope. You'll be in your new home in just a few days, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
There was a click. Gorram slaver didn't plan to say any more.
They looked at each other across the length of the cell.
"Slavers." He said again.
He continued to watch her, noticing suddenly that he'd understood her more in the past five minutes than he ever had before. He rubbed his shoulder where he'd rammed the door.
"Hurts?" She asked.
He rolled his shoulder. "Been worse." He said dismissively.
"Six worlds roll within two days of Persephone. Was the sleep long?"
"Can't tell." Jayne said sighing. He rubbed his face. "Wait." He stroked the stubble on his face. It was already softening. "A couple of days at least."
"Eight worlds were within three days, fourteen for four days. For five days? Unsure. Many." She frowned. "Blackrock worlds are not taken into account."
He winced. "So we don't know where we're going?"
She nodded. "We could discount several planets based on large population, but that is risky. A mine or plantation could be far from the main cities even on an urban planet."
"Urban like in the Core?" He frowned.
"Possibly." She shrugged. "I once overheard a friend of my father talk about the copper mine he had on Osiris. He employed illegal immigrants who I suspect had no way to leave. He boasted how cheap labor could be."
"Odd party talk." Jayne chalked one more mark into the column of why he would deck her old man if he ever met him.
She wrinkled her nose. "Alright, so I employed a listening device." She suddenly inspected the speaker on the wall.
"They listening to us?" He felt alarmed.
"Probability is low." She said frowning. "Sleeper cell, Zephyr class, model 2317, padded for turbulence. Microphones not standard in this model." She tapped the speaker. "Available in banks of 6, 9, 24 and 36. Doors are interchangeable, available in six models, including inoperable from the inside."
Why would that be an option? He wondered.
She rolled her eyes and answered his silent question. "That option was designed at the request of the government for transporting dangerous prisoners."
She scowled. "More pertinent to our present situation, it is commonly used by slavers, usually with a model 1355 sleeper cell. No padding." She added as the question formed in his head. "Cheaper."
He nodded sharply and looked at the door again.
"Not a good idea." She said.
He looked back at her and slumped against the wall.
"Not a good idea." He agreed. "So, what now?"
"We wait." She twisted into a position that looked almost comfortable, curled up at the far end of the cell.
River was silent for a few minutes. Then, slowly at first, she began to mutter, chant and sometimes even sing to herself. Jayne bore it for as long as he could, perhaps two or three minutes.
"Gorramit! Girl, if you're gonna make noise you could at least talk to me."
She stared at him silently for a long moment.
He exhaled angrily and looked away. "Sorry."
"Does he have a topic in mind?" She said eventually.
He looked back her way.
"Mostly the girl speaks lovely nonsense." She offered.
"River…" He began pensively.
"Ocean, lake, stream." She said quickly. "What pretty probability." She looked significantly at the speaker on the wall.
He tensed when he caught her meaning. They still might be overheard and she didn't want her name to be known. Sensible.
"Do another." She said cheerfully.
He searched his mind for another word. "Feet." He finally said. His were pressed awkwardly into the padded wall.
"Tarsal, metatarsal, phalange." She grinned at his blank look. "My turn. Straw."
"Seed, stalk, feed."
"Feed?" She frowned. "Animals don't eat straw. They eat hay or grass or grain."
"Not all. Some eat meat." He countered defensively. "Besides, I thought we were going for nonsense."
"Ah, changing the rules." Her eyes looked like she was laughing at him. "Peace." She challenged.
Jayne's nostrils flared. "Calm, Serenity joy." Their eyes met and she nodded. "Home." He said to continue the game.
"Past, present, future." River replied. Her chin went up a little on the last word. "Time."
He looked away. "Money, work, lost." He closed his eyes. "Beauty."
"Skin, flower, sword."
Her response made him look up at her again.
"Dance." Was her next challenge.
Note: First line is from Toby Keith's 'Don't leave, I think I love you.'