Author owns no rights what-so-ever to Firefly, nor the universe in which it lives. He writes solely for his own amusement. It's okay not to sue him.
"Tob. . .uh, Sheriff, we got trouble!" Tad Bane ran up to where Toby was talking to several townsfolk.
"Get hold o' yerself, boy," Toby said calmly. "What in blazes are you so het up over?"
"Big lot o' trouble out west o' town," Bane said hurriedly. "Old missus Peterman called, allows it sounds like a war being fought south o' her farm."
"What?" Toby was taken aback. "What did she say?"
"Powerful lotta shootin', south o' her farm," Tad repeated. "Said it sounded like a right good size battle bein' fought. She's worried it's some kinda bandit outfit."
"There ain't no bandits 'round here," Jacob scoffed. "Why there ain't even been. . . ."
"Just tellin' what was said," Bane said, almost crossly.
"Reckon we'd best go see about it, then," Toby frowned, giving Jacob a glance. The taller man had a look on innocence that just didn't fit him. "Reckon you oughta come along, Jacob," he added.
"Huh?" Jacob started.
"Ain't that I don't trust you," Toby grinned. "But I can't leave a man in the jail at the moment, and I don't want you fallin' prey to temptation, tryin' to break your cousin outta my jail." Jacob tried to look stricken.
"Now Toby, you got no call to think. . . ."
"I'm sure I'm wrongin' ya, Jacob, but to be safe, you're comin' along." Toby's voice was firm, and at least a dozen townsmen were standing there when he said it. Most were nodding their heads in agreement.
"Fine," Jacob growled. "See do you get my vote, next election."
"I'll just have to chance it," Toby shrugged. "Let's go."
Five minutes later, Toby, Jacob, Bane and three other men were headed out of town on two mules. Simon and Kaylee, having been shopping at the General Store, took their purchases and stepped outside.
"It's on," Simon said simply into the comm unit hidden in his vest. Their part in the plan finished, the two headed for Serenity.
"Okay, here we go," Mal nodded to River and Zoe. "Let's not get shot, and try not to shoot nobody. In and out, easy peasy." River smiled slightly, while Zoe grinned, gunning the mule to life. In a cloud of dust, they were off.
Unaware that anything was happening anywhere, Jayne reclined on his bunk, humming along with a song playing over the jail's intercom. He really couldn't complain with how he'd been treated, he thought. He had been well fed, and had even been helping out in the jail on occasion, working when there were deputies inside to watch him.
He rose as he heard the heavy door to the cell block open.
"Hey Tad, that you?" he called, getting to his feet. "I'm right hungry, so I hope you brought me some lunch!"
"I didn't being you lunch," Hiram Bitters told him, walking around the corner. "I did bring you something, however." He pulled a revolver from under his jacket.
"Well, well," Jayne almost smirked. "I shoulda figured you'd show up sooner or later. You're 'bout as worthless as that uncle o' yers they named ya after, I see."
"My uncle did a great thing, bringing law to this town," Bitters seethed. "Putting trash like you out of business."
"Yer uncle was a lying, murderin', rapin' skunk," Jayne countered calmly. "And I see the apple ain't fell far from the tree. Tell me somethin', Hiram. You really believe that line o' yers, or is just somethin' ta make ya feel better 'bout ya family tree?"
"Scum like you are the reason my family was ruined," Bitters grated, his anger getting the better of him. "Killed my uncle, and ruined my mother's life."
"'Spect that's better'n what your uncle did fer my ma," Jayne growled back. "Him bein' such a fine citizen and what not. Go ahead, ya cowardly huandan. Pull the trigger. You couldn't do it no other kinda way, now could ya?" Bitters leaned forward a bit.
"I could take you," he snarled.
"Not on yer best day," Jayne scoffed. "You wouldn't even try, was we out in the open, and me armed. Well," Jayne paused. "You might, I guess, if my back was to ya."
Bitters was raising his pistol, eyes glowing with hatred, when Jayne heard a loud cracking sound. Bitters melted to the floor, leaving River Tam standing calmly behind him. A baseball bat in her hands.
"What in the hell are you doin' here?" Jayne yelled.
"You're welcome, Jayne-boy," River smirked, producing the keys to Jayne's cell.
"Who told you that!" Jayne almost screeched. "I'll kill'em!"
"Now, now," River chided, tossing the keys down near Bitters' hand. "This will work out rather well," she murmured. "Captain Daddy will be pleased." She looked up at the unmoving merc.
"Jayne-boy, we do not have all day," she said, her foot tapping the floor with impatience. "The mule is waiting, with the meter running. Time to go."
"I can't," Jayne had started for the door, but stopped. "My ma, she. . . ."
"The money is safe, Jayne," River told him, smiling slightly. "Your dedication to your maternal parent is noteworthy, and admirable. The money was a reward for your capture, nothing more. Since Mister Bitters," she nodded to the still unconscious form on the floor, "tried to get even outside of the law, and you overpowered him, the reward money is safe. Now, we have to go. Time is of the essence."
"Are you sure? River?" Jayne wanted to believe. "I mean really sure?"
"Cousin Jacob checked himself with the Sheriff," River assured him. "He did not, of course, mention why he wanted to know. The Sheriff is not part of the plan. Now we really must leave. Now."
Jayne nodded and flew through the door.
"My gear. . . ."
"Is aboard the ship," River assured him, pushing him as much as she could toward the side exit of the building. "Jacob brought everything this morning, including your girls. Now get out the door and let's go!"
Jayne didn't waste any more time. He plowed through the door, to see Zoe and Mal waiting.
"'bout damn time," Mal grumbled. "What in gorram blazes took so long?"
"Jayne-boy had unresolved issues," River told him, climbing in behind Jayne.
"I wanna know who told you that. . ." Jayne started.
"We ain't got time for that right now!" Mal wanted to shout. "We got to hi-tail it outta here afore the Sheriff gets back!"
Toby and his men, along with Jacob, got back to town within an hour of Jayne departing. Jacob was still playing the riled up voter.
". . .and then, after all that, it ain't nothin' but a few fellas havin' a time down near the river!"
"Jacob, shut up!" Toby finally growled. "I'll by ya a couple beers later, and make it up to ya."
"Take more'n a couple," Jacob grumbled, but settled down, none-the-less. The men trooped into the jail. Bane stopped short after a few steps.
"I locked that before I came to get you," he said, indicating the open door leading to the cells.
"Jacob, you stay here, and I mean right here," Toby growled, pulling his gun. The two men eased forward, while the others spread out to cover them.
"What the hell?" Toby exclaimed after looking into the area.
Hiram Bitters was just coming around. Toby looked at the gun on the floor, then to the keys nearby, and was angry in a second.
"Mister Bitters, what were you doin' in here?" he demanded, kicking the man's gun over to Bane, who picked it up and stored it in his belt.
"What?" Bitters looked up, confused.
"He's took a blow to the head, looks like," Bane nodded. "Speck o' blood here on back o' his head, boss."
"Get him up," Toby ordered two of his men. As they entered, he realized that Jayne's cell was open.
"Bitters, did you open this door?"
"What? No, I didn't. . .someone hit me!" he mumbled as the two deputies got him to his feet.
"Bitters, you allowed a condemned man to get free," Toby said quietly, his voice angry. "I'm arrestin' you for that, and for comin' in here armed, and unescorted in the first place. Lock his ass up," he told his men.
"But, I was going to. . . ." Bitters started, then stopped short, his senses coming back.
"Goin' ta what?" Toby growled. "Kill a man locked in a cell?"
"I have nothing to say," Bitters said sullenly. "I'll have my day in court."
"You can damn sure bet on that!" Toby snarled. He walked back to where Jacob was sitting in the Sheriff's chair.
"Get your ass outta my chair!" Toby screeched.
"You owe me a few beers," Jacob said airily.
"Have to wait," Toby waved him away. "Gotta organize a man-hunt fer that cousin o' yers."
"What?" Jacob's jaw dropped open. "How did he. . . ."
"Seems Mister Hiram Bitters paid Jayne a visit whilst we was out," Toby explained. "And managed to let Jayne loose, instead o' killin', as was I'm sure his intent."
"Bitters?" Jacob looked shocked.
"Get outta here and lemme look like I'm doin' my job," Toby growled. "And Jake? Tell 'im not to come back. Hear?"
Well out into the black, the crew of Serenity gathered about the galley table. Jayne looked at all of them.
"Thanks," he said to the crew. "I. . .I, well. Just thanks. I owe ya all."
"Yes, you do," Mal nodded. "You owe us not to go off doin' some'at stupid like this again, and leave us wonderin' what become o' ya's."
"Hey, now," Jayne began.
"He's right, Jayne," Zoe cut him off. "You shoulda told us what was what. We'd have helped any way we could." Jayne dropped his head, nodding.
"I just. . .wasn't right, askin' all o' ya to help fix a mess I made my own self," he shrugged. "Done lost enough, had enough on yer plate as it was."
"We would still have helped, Jayne," Inara said softly.
"I know," he replied after a minute. "Just. . .I didn't wanna put it off on ya."
"We are a family, Jayne-boy," River said primly. "We will always help you." Jayne's face reddened at that.
"Who told you that you little moon-brained freak!" He lunged at her, only to have River to evade him, laughing, and run away, with Jayne in hot pursuit.
"The Man-they-call Jayne....BOY!" River sang as she ran.
"Come back here you little she-devil!"
"And so things are back to normal," Mal sighed, shaking his head as the chase grew distant.