Hero[es] of Beltane: part 4
Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The mixed results of Jayne and Vera's search in the whorehouse. The thick plottens like crazy. Warning for an angsty moment.



Take me back to a time full of passion and pain Where the sun of tomorrow Would shine down through yesterday's rain We had the eyes and ears of the world, afraid we might fall But I think the feeling of fear Was better than no feeling at all [Venice: Save the Legion]

Jayne helped the four others out of the rubble, then found Iona and Jasmine. Rusty was in the street, looking bewildered. The whorehouse was a mess. Jayne ran around to the outside near where he figured Vera must have been. “Vera?!” There was silence. Mal joined him, “What did you see?” “Vera?!” Mal grabbed his arm, “What did you *see*, Jayne?” “There was this wooden trunk,” his arms showed the rough dimensions, “’Bout so big. I got it open and there was this black hole inside. I ran to get you guys and kaboom! Vera?!” Suddenly there was a second explosion and the whorehouse burst into flames. Jayne started to run into the fierce heat. Mal and Rusty combined barely held him back. Rusty spoke in his ear, “Don’t be an idiot. You’d die.” “VERA!” Mal held him tightly, “Jayne; there’s nothing you can do.” Jayne struggled, “Vera...” Rusty jerked Jayne’s head towards him with an effort, “There’s *nothing* you can do.”

Jayne broke free and was making another attempt at getting near the flames when another explosion threw them all backwards. When Jayne picked himself up, the firemen and women had fought the blaze under control and all that was left was a huge blackened mess. One fireman came over to them. “My woman was in there!” Mal thought that Vera might have some reservations about that title, but kept his peace. “I’m so sorry. Anyone inside there is dead by now.” “But there was this hole inside the trunk; she might be in there.” The fireman looked into his eyes, “I heard from the girls about this wild rumour of a basement. We’ve got the original plans for this building and trust me, there’s no basement.” “But I *saw* it. There was this hole, Mal.” Mal took a deep breath, “Even if there was, do you think Vera survived two explosions and that fire?” Jayne looked at the building. He flatly refused to name the raw feelings now coursing through him, but he knew it was at least as bad as when he was thirteen and his favourite dog got lost and never came back.

Mal and Zoe weren’t entirely surprised when Jayne hit the local bar and got himself absolutely hammered. As he could hold his liquor this took most of the night. He wasn’t saying anything. Jayne had shut himself up tighter than a clam and Mal wondered if he’d ever come out. He and Zoe kept watch. “Gonna be hard on him, sir.” “I know.” “Seemed to care for her a good deal.” “And she for him.” “Probably as close as he’s come to being in love.” Mal frowned, “Can’t say as I can put ‘Jayne’ and ‘love’ in the same sentence.” “Liked her. Strong, feisty woman. Warm, firm and fair.” “Damn shame.” “Well, River was right, sir.” “Yes; and I bet those supposed cavers will have something to do with this.” “The explosion?” “More the reasons behind it. I’ll wager the explosions were a booby trap.” Zoe sighed as they continued to watch Jayne consuming much of the contents of the bar.

During the next day, the remains of the whorehouse were cleared and the ‘cavers’ started poking around very early on the second morning. Mal, Zoe, Cliff and Hori watched at a discreet distance. Jayne was apparently lying senseless upstairs from the bar, still suffering from something of an overdose of alcohol. Suddenly there was a distinctive metal clang. “Sir?” “Ta ma duh; it’s a hatch!” The hatch had been swung open onto the ground and the four companions started walking nonchalantly in that general direction. There was something of a disturbance behind them and a rather dishevelled Jayne pushed past them. “Vera??” Mal stepped in front of him, “Don’t get your hopes up, Jayne.” There was a crooked smile on his face, “Vera!” A somewhat dirty and blackened figure emerged from the hatch and looked towards them. Jayne looked as though he might burst with relief and joy, “VERA!!” He went running, she met him half way, he caught her up and kissed her long and hard. Zoe lifted one eyebrow, “Seems he does kiss them on the mouth sometimes.” “Gonna need mind-bleach later.” Cliff sighed, “Wish I could kiss someone like that, eh.” Zoe looked at him, “Don’t push your luck.”

When Vera had a chance to speak, she touched Jayne’s face, “I’ve got you all dirty.” He grinned, “Don’t ruttin’ care.” She laughed, “I’m covered in soot.” His grin widened, “Wash you off later!” “Yes, please!” Jayne’s grip tightened and he looked deep into Vera’s eyes, “Thought you were dead.” “I thought the same about you, Jayne.” “I...” The words he couldn’t say simmered unspoken in his eyes. Her eyes softened and he saw the answer he needed, “I know. Me too.” Jayne locked the exchange and the feelings deep inside himself where no-one but him and Vera could ever touch them. It would be something he could look at privately on cold, lonely nights and if he ever got to be grey and old.

“So, there’s a basement.” Back to business, moving right along, ignore what happened just now. Vera matched his tone, “Storage bunker, made of metal. Whole lot of stuff left there by the lady entrepreneur, by the look of it. Luckily, some water and tinned food that hadn’t gone off.” “Must be ruttin’ old.” Vera shook her head, “Most of it, but the food’s more recent. Some...interesting...papers.” “You read ‘em?” “Well, they were there and I was trapped in this metal bunker with emergency lighting. What’s a girl to do ?” “I’m guessing the ‘cavers’ will be after the bunker,” he looked over her shoulder, “Yup; they’ve gone down there.” Vera gently and slowly regained her feet as the others joined them. She told them about the bunker and they all walked towards the hole in the ground.

Mal looked down, “I owe you an apology, Jayne. There’s a hole.” “And a bunker.” Zoe looked at Vera, “No dead people?” She was remembering Miranda. “Nope; just a heap of gold, jewels and old papers plus some more recent additions of water and tinned food. Happily I had a knife on me. Jayne opened the trunk lid, I noticed the metal lid propped up against one side, and a light switch and ladder going down. There was a tiny click and my instincts got me into the trunk, throwing the light switch and clanging down the metal door in about ten seconds flat. Just in time, because everything went kaboom just afterwards. I shimmied downwards and found the storage bunker not so far down.” “So someone knew about the place, then.” “And added the food and water, then booby-trapped the entrance. I’m guessing he or she knew a way around the last of those items.” Mal commented, “Well that explains the ‘cavers’. They knew about the bunker. What was in the papers?” “The ones I read had to do with setting up the companion training houses and the abbeys of various faiths. Fairly pedestrian stuff, as far as I could tell. There might be other information in there.” “Alliance?” Vera shrugged, “Could be, seeing that it’s a depository probably set up by the female Alliance benefactor.” Mal groaned, “Go se; we’re in big go tsao de trouble again.”

The two erstwhile cavers came out of the hole with guns in their hands. Jayne reached for his own gun, but heard more guns cocking behind him. “Ai ya, we’re surrounded.” The other people were apparently Alliance and had snuck up on them very quietly. “Put your weapons down now.” Mal sighed and looked at his companions. He gently nodded and laid his gun on the ground. Jayne and the others who were armed followed suit. “Hands up.” Zoe looked at Mal, “Don’t like this, sir.” “Never do ‘like’ this. Could do with River in Reaver hacking mode about now.” “Might not go down terribly well with the Alliance, sir.” Jayne narrowed his eyes, “Ruttin’ hwoon dahn interruptin' my reunion with my woman...” Vera slipped her hand in his, “I’m your woman now, hmm?” “Damn straight!” He suddenly caught up with what his mouth had said, “Least while you and I are in the same place...” Vera squeezed his hand, “Works for me.”

One of the erstwhile cavers stepped forward and flashed an Alliance badge, “Vera Samuels?” “Yes?” “Breaking and entering a secret Alliance facility, damaging the same, reading and consuming the contents...” “I was trapped and it was an emergency.” “That will be taken into consideration. Setting off the internal security system and thereby destroying one whorehouse.” “Not really much I could do about that.” “That is understood.” “I’m a licensed sheriff.” “We know. You still have to come with us for questioning.” Jayne growled, “Shiong mao niao go se tan sha sho! Choo fay wah suh leh...” Mal had never heard so much Chinese cursing come out of Jayne's mouth all at once. “'Over your dead body' can be arranged.” The guns came closer. Jayne bristled menace and danger, but held still. Vera looked at him, “We’ll have our reunion soon, Jayne, I promise. Red dress and all. I have to go with them.”

Suddenly Rusty appeared, with an Alliance man guarding him. “Thanks for all your help, Rusty.” Vera’s eyes narrowed, “You bastard; you set us up!” Rusty looked suitably guilty, “They had me over a barrel, Vera.” Mal sized up the situation, “And I’ll bet he knew about the bunker and put the food in there.” Vera was incensed, “You risked our lives over your private hidey hole, you bloody go se hwoon dahn!” The Alliance guard spoke, “He’ll be arraigned for misuse of Alliance property.” Rusty turned, “You promised me protection!” “Got that in writing?” The look on Rusty's face said he hadn't. Jayne muttered just loud enough so Mal could hear, “Don’t trust the ruttin’ bastards.” Mal answered him in kind, “Conjure I don’t either, but don’t fancy being a human sieve.” “Rescue?” There was a whole heap of eager puppy in Jayne’s voice. “‘Gainst the Alliance and what is probably a big ship in orbit?” “Gotta get my woman back, Mal.” Cliff nudged him, “Hatching a plan, Jayne. Helps being one of Vera’s deputies, eh.” Vera looked at the Alliance guard who held her, “Let me kiss my man goodbye and I’m all yours.” He let her go and she hurried over to Jayne and they kissed, rather hungrily and desperately. Vera touched his cheek, “Remember the cave, Jayne.” She turned to Cliff and spouted a string of Maori. There was a final deep glance between her and Jayne and she was whisked away.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006 8:34 PM


I couldn't do that to Jayne <G>.



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