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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
As Jayne Cobb awaits trial for rape and murder, he reflects on choices he’s made. Zoe and Kaylee plan to visit him in jail and Book continues preparing to defend the mercenary. Is he guilty or has someone framed him?
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 640 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Title: Presumption of Guilt – Chapter 6
Disclaimer: All belongs to Joss. I got nada but my imagination.
Characters: Crew, omc, ofc.
Warning: PG for graphic violence, profanity and other grownup things.
Setting: In the town of Silverton, on Santo, immediately prior to “The Train Job”.
A/N: As a kid, my two favorite TV genres were westerns and detective shows. I finally decided to tackle both in a mix I’ve thought of as “Firefly CSI”.
Click my name to access the previous chapters. If you’re following this tale, I’d really appreciate hearing what you think. Remember, feedback is what writers (and muses) live for. And if you’re enjoying this, please pimp it to your friends. Thanks!
X - posted from my LiveJournal.
Presumption of Guilt
In the course of his forty years, Jayne Cobb had spent many a night locked up for something. ‘Drunk and Disorderly’, ‘Breaking and Entering’, ‘Larceny’ and ‘Assault’ – they were all listed on his criminal record in the Cortex central database for anyone to see.
Jayne had always known he wasn’t a smart man, and most of his education came from the school of hard knocks. Long hours tracking game in his youth to supplement his family’s limited resources refined his uncommonly observant nature. For nearly twenty years he’d survived through guts, tenacity and the natural skills the good Lord had blessed him with. He was a hard worker – when he had to be. His strength and large size came in handy in lots of ways, and he’d done stints as a welder, shifting cargo on freighters and more recently, as hired muscle.
The latter came to him naturally, especially once he discovered his love for brawling. Oh, he’d fought for money, but most of the time it was for the sheer joy of busting some yokel’s chops. He took great pride in his skill with weapons. As a mercenary, they were the tools of his trade and he maintained them well, but his real gift was intimidation.
He also prided himself that he’d never left a woman unsatisfied, not even those whom he’d paid for their company. As far as Jayne was concerned, women were one of the true wonders the Lord had created, and even whores deserved to be treated well. He’d never raised his hand to a woman except in self-defense. The very thought disturbed him deeply, bringing with it old, ugly memories of how his pa had abused his ma.
The drunks from the night before had finally sobered up enough to be released, leaving Jayne the sole remaining occupant of Silverton’s jail. He sat quietly, head bowed, fingers picking anxiously at the stained fabric of his cargo pants. The high barred window at the back of the cellblock showed the indigo of twilight when the deputy unlocked the pass-through and turned on the single bare light. “Got yer dinner here, Cobb,” he said as he handed the merc a covered tray through a slot in the bars. “Most likely stew and bread.”
Having not eaten since noon of the previous day, Jayne accepted the tray gratefully. “Don’t smell half bad,” he commented, peering under the metal cover. “Don’t suppose you can tell me anything about when I’m gonna see the judge?”
“He got in from Franklin a little while earlier, so your arraignment’s been moved up to 1:00 tomorrow. Ain't gonna take him long to deal with ya. They don’t call him ‘Hangin’ Budd’ fer nothin’.” The deputy snickered. “Eat up while ya can – I’ll pick the tray up later.”
Jayne’s heart dropped. Just eighteen hours time. How in the hell could Mal and the others possibly get him out of this one? He walked across the cell and dropped onto the hard, dirty mattress that rested on a metal frame bolted to the brick walls, setting the tray indifferently beside him. He’d been powerfully hungry; now he just felt numb.
He’d always known there’d come a time his number was up. Men don’t live the kind of life he had and figure on makin’ it to old age. He’d always figured he’d go down fightin’, not at the end of a gorramn hangman’s noose and that for somethin’ he didn’t do.
He thought back to the previous evening, recalling the silkiness of Nellie Murchison’s ivory skin and her silvery laughter, the expensive perfume she wore, his own wonder that such a high-class lady would go with a man like him. She was a delicate little thing, like some kind of porcelain doll, and it made him shiver to remember undressing her in the honeyed lamplight of that room they’d taken at the Golden Palace. He’d laid a trail of kisses down her neck and along the length of her slender arm. That was when he saw the mottled shadows of the bruises. The memory made him almost nauseous.
Funny how, in the midst of a firefight or a bar brawl, even if he was outnumbered, Jayne rarely felt afraid. He was far too busy doing whatever it took for him to stay alive: throwing punches, busting a chair over some ben de hundan, trying not to get shot as he loaded and fired his own weapons.
But sitting in this dim, dank cell as the hours crawled by with nothing to do but contemplate the possibilities ahead? That really ate him up. Since the days when his drunken Pa would stagger home and beat the crap outta him for no particular reason except that he could, Jayne hated feeling powerless and that was exactly what he was right now.
He recalled his abrupt awakening that very morning, the pounding on the hotel room door that had dragged him from sleep and his own horror at the grotesque image that greeted him. Beautiful Nellie, her ivory skin grown waxy and cold, long black hair spread out like a corona of night across the pillow and his blade buried deep between her perfect, roseate breasts. Blood soaking the bed, drying on her corpse, smearing his own flank and hands – her blood.
Abruptly, his gorge rose and he barely made it to the bucket in the far corner of the cell before falling to his knees and vomiting until his belly ached. He shakily stood and swiped his forearm across his mouth, then returned to the bunk, sliding the supper tray back across the floor of the cell toward the door. He lay down with his face toward the bricks, drawing his long legs against his chest, wrapping his arms around them in an effort to fight the shakes, his body curled into a knot of anguish. His chest and throat were filled with a thick ache, his mind racing like a converter in overdrive. Stinging tears welled in his eyes and he roughly scrubbed them away.
God damn the bastard who done this, he thought, amending, and dear Lord don’t let it have been me.
His mind jabbered and skittered in an effort to dodge the awful memories of poor dead Nellie, He thought of men that he’d killed, the robberies and bank jobs. Until Serenity, he’d mostly run with a bunch of scum, outlaws like himself. And then Mal had opened a door, offered him a better way, and he’d taken it without hesitation. The past year and a half had been good.
Mal wasn’t as cutthroat as a lotta captains and the rest a the crew were all decent folk. To Jayne’s way of thinking, a man could do a lot worse than to have someone like Zo watchin’ his back in a firefight. He respected her focus and strength and it didn’t hurt none that she was easy on the eyes. Spirited, too. He’d tested them waters a few times but she’d let him know early on that he’d damn well better keep his hands to himself if he wanted to keep his pecker. Never had been able to figure why she’d married Wash. Little man’s annoying as all hell, Jayne thought. Still he had to admit the obnoxious pilot could fly better’n anybody he’d ever known.
He sighed deeply, trying to ease the cramp of fear in his gut and his mind drifted to Shepherd Book. Don’t know what he done before God got hold of ‘im, but I like the man and I respect ‘im. The preacher knew when to talk and when to shut up, and Jayne admired that.
An equal mystery was the relationship between the Cap’n and Inara. The woman had real class and was handsome as hell, not to mention that she was an honest-to-God Registered Companion. To Jayne’s mind Mal was a gorramned idiot for not havin’ him a piece a that pie. She could probably fuck him cross-eyed – Jayne had thought about that more'n once. Maybe she didn't want a hump with a big ol' merc like him, but she did want Mal. Any chuin-zi could see how she felt about him. Yep, Jayne concluded, the Cap'n was a rare fool.
An’ so was l’il Kaylee for that matter. Jayne's heart strings twisted up inside at the thought of the girl. She's such a pretty little thing and now she don’t hardly give me the time a day. They’d teased and flirted all th’ time until that houzi de pigu of a doctor come on board. Jayne had once held the hope of more with the girl mechanic, but her complete infatuation with Simon made that moot.
When it come to the Doc and that moonbrained sis of his, well, they were different, outsiders. They didn’t belong and Jayne saw right off they’d just make life ten times as complicated. If Mal had half a brain, he’d turn ‘em in for the reward or at least dump ‘em on some border world before they get us pinched, he reasoned, scowling.
He sighed and rolled over, trying to find a softer spot on the thin, dirty mattress. The way things were looking, not a damn bit of it was gonna matter by this time tomorrow anyways…
* * *
Kaylee sat on the counter in the medbay, watching as Simon worked on an inventory of their medical supplies. The doctor rested a clipboard on his knee and rifled through the drawers and cabinets, alternately checking off items on one page, noting the quantity in stock, and writing down those that were needed on another.
When he’d first come aboard Serenity, the facilities and supplies were rudimentary at best, but Mal had agreed to allowing Simon to gradually purchase the things that would allow him to offer better care to the ship’s crew. Working on the ship’s tiny clinic gave him something to concentrate on other than his sister’s care and made him feel more like a contributing member of the crew. River was finally asleep and he’d wanted to get this inventory done for a week.
“So, you changed your mind?” Kaylee asked, rupturing the silence.
“What?” Simon looked up uncertainly, his concentration shattered.
Kaylee wiggled closer. “I asked you if you’d changed your mind about Jayne bein’ the one killed that woman. ’Cause this morning you were all sure he done it an’ from what you said after supper, it sounded like now you don’t think so.”
Simon struggled at first to register what Kaylee was chattering about. Resting his pen on the clipboard, he spoke carefully and deliberately. “While I think that Jayne is the sort of man who might do such a thing, the clinical evidence proves that he didn’t rape or kill Mrs. Murchison.”
Kaylee slipped down off the counter and made her way over to where Simon sat. She leaned against the cabinet next to him with her arms crossed. “I know he talks mean an’ all, but he ain't as bad as you think…”
“And you’d be a character witness for Attila the Hun. Still, I don’t think Jayne is guilty this time.” Simon yawned and rubbed his tired eyes for a moment.
“Here, let me do that for you…” The girl slipped around behind Simon and began to knead his forehead, her callused little fingers tracing circles upon his skin. For once, he didn’t jerk away and she smiled to herself. Maybe we’re makin’ some progress…
* * *
Early the following morning Mal stood talking with Zoe and Shepherd Book in the ship’s cargo bay. “You just keep an eye on Kaylee. I don’t want her gettin’ herself into any trouble at that jail,” he told Zoe while she checked her weapon and holstered it. “And speakin’ of the girl, where is she?”
“She was headed for Jayne’s bunk. She’d packed him up quite the picnic basket and wanted to grab a change of clothes for him, too.”
Mal’s eyes widened. “She’s willin’ to go down into his bunk?” He grinned at Book. “Guess she’s braver than I give her credit for! I don’t even do that, ‘lessen I got some mighty good reason I gotta.”
Kaylee’s quick footsteps resonated from the fore corridor and the threesome looked up to see the girl mechanic emerge from the upper connector hall with a overstuffed knapsack slung over one shoulder and a basket in her other hand. “Sorry, everybody. Took me forever to figure out where Jayne’s clean socks was.” She bounded down the stairs. “Guess he’ll be glad to see us,” she ventured hopefully.
“Child, you could cheer up the devil himself,” Book told her, then turned to Mal. “I’ll go with them as far as the jail, Mal, and then head on to the courthouse. It shouldn’t take me more than an hour to file for transfer of the arraignment and call in the Territorial Justice.”
“Good enough,” Mal nodded, then turned his focus back to Kaylee. “Now, Mèi-mei, you ain't gone and hidden any weapons in what you’re takin’ Jayne, have you? ‘Cause you know they’re gonna search you and all that stuff before they let you in…”
Kaylee blushed and glanced everywhere except at Mal. “Well…”
“Kaylee, Kaylee. What did I tell you?” Zoe just shook her head in exasperation.
Mal clasped the little mechanic’s shoulder, his voice stern. “We all want Jayne outta that jail, but it won’t help any if you get yourself arrested, too, and wind up keepin’ him company, so lemme have whatever it is you got hidden.”
“Cap’n…” she whined, “…what if all the legal finaglin’ ain’t enough? We don’t want Jayne hangin’, and he oughtta have some way of gettin’ himself free!”
Mal just stared her down and stuck out his hand. “Ain't it enough I gotta worry about him? Now hand it over mǎshàng!” His voice left no room for argument.
“Oh, alright…” Kaylee sulked. She unzipped the front of her coveralls and reached inside, hand heading toward her crotch.
Mal’s eyes flared and he glanced questioningly at Book, but the Shepherd only shrugged.
When her hand reappeared, it held one of Jayne’s several switchblades.
“I do not want to know where you had that hidden,” Mal muttered as he accepted the knife. “What else?” His voice grew sterner. “Kaylee…?”
Retrieving a substantial crescent wrench from her back pocket, she passed that to him, then dug into the knapsack until she liberated one of the merc’s smallest pistols, bundled into a pair of socks. Unwrapping the weapon, she passed it over with a glare.
“Damn, Mèi-mei!” Mal laughed at the audacity of Kaylee’s efforts. “I ever get locked up, you’d be the one I’d want visitin’ me.” He took the pistol and tucked in into the waistband of his trousers. “You do know they’d have found all this, don’t you?”
“Maybe not,” Kaylee demurred. “I got ways a bein’ pretty distractin’.” She looked up at Mal flirtatiously and it was as if someone had suddenly turned on a flood light.
Zoe chuckled. “She just might be right about that, sir. Best we get moving.”
“I want you all back here by oh-eleven-hundred, dong ma?” Mal instructed as he hit the button to unlock the inner bay door and pulled the heavy steel hatch back.
“Will do, sir,” Zoe replied over her shoulder and they trooped down the ramp and into the early morning haze of Santo.
When they reached the dusty steps of the Silverton jail, they paused. “Shall I plan to stop back by here for you once I’ve finished at the courthouse?” Book asked.
“Thanks for offerin’, Preacher, but I don’t see any need.” Zoe’s dark eyes held the faintest hint of worry and she lowered her voice before asking, “Has Jayne got any chance of beatin’ these charges?”
Book sighed and shook his head. “To be honest, I don’t know. For now, just do your best to keep his spirits up and I’ll do what I can from my end.”
Kaylee laced her arm through Book’s and hugged him. “Thanks, Shepherd.”
The clergyman smiled gently, then headed up the street toward the courthouse. He’d spent much of the previous night reviewing territorial law and going over the facts of the case, in the eventuality that he might actually need to defend Jayne at trial. What had become increasingly apparent was that some key piece of the story was still missing.
To be continued…
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 3:55 AM
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 8:56 AM
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 8:51 AM
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