Firefly, PG for language/violence. This was written for secondsilk, who asked for Zoe and Jayne on the job.
Author's Note: This story is set early in Jayne's time with the Serenity crew. Because the story hasn't been beta'd, any mistakes are completely mine. (And may I just say that these characters were more difficult to write than I thought they'd be--I sincerely hope the results are decent!)
A Little Diversion
How that hùndàn little mercenary could lose himself in a place this small, Zoe would never know.
The market matched the town well enough in size, though from the fruit at half the stands Zoe guessed they had more outlying farms than the crew had seen flying in. Weren’t hard to blend in–-smile at couple vendors, buy a piece of sweet pear. Keep an eye on Jayne, Mal had said (before commencing to run for his life). He’s gonna create us a little diversion. You just make sure he don’t run off entirely.
Yes, sir. Right away, sir. Zoe caught a man eyeing her, and gave him a wink. He wasn’t one of the uniforms she had to avoid.
But that young dolt in bright yellow, rounding the corner, was. Must’ve been at the vault when they broke it: he’d recognized her, and shouted into his wristcom. Zoe slid a hand beneath the long brown coat. She’d hoped there wouldn’t be a need for killing, this time, but unless she’d imagined the running footsteps in the market street behind her, she’d have to clear a path somewhere.
If Jayne hadn’t managed to do his job, at least she’d done something like it.
Her bullet hit its target square, momentum tumbling him forward into the dust. Any merchants who hadn’t ducked for cover when the lawmen showed disappeared behind their stands. Zoe cast a hasty glance over her shoulder. Four more yellow tunics, no convenient alleyways, and only one way to run.
The high-pitched squeal of an engine cut through the shouts around her, and Zoe shoved her way forward. If they had cycles of some kind. . . . The engine squealed closer, deepening to a roar, and the crowd around Zoe melted away.
Too close. Zoe spun around and aimed, just as the cycle–-no, not a regular one, a floater--slid to a stop in the air beside her.
In the three seconds it took for Jayne’s cocky grin to register, Zoe came up with at least six different reasons to knock him off that seat and leave him in the dust. Instead, she holstered her gun, grabbed the mercenary’s offered hand, and swung onto the seat behind him. “Not what was asked for,” she shouted into his ear.
“Mal asked for a diversion, didn’t he? I’d say this is divertin’.” Jayne shoved the accelerator, and the floater jolted forward and up, skimming over the heads of the crowd.
Zoe held on, twisting to check on pursuit. So far, all of it was confined to foot and ground, and they were eating Jayne’s dust. “Where did you find this? I’d figured these people were mostly too poor to be buying private racing floaters.”
Jayne shrugged. “Jacked it,” he said over his shoulder, sounding absolutely smug. “From some fancy-dress sly who didn’t like my gun.”
That decided things. “Scuttle it,” she ordered.
“Nah, I gotta get something outta this run.” Jayne turned a corner sharply, intake shrieking air.
“How ‘bout your cut, just like everyone else?” Zoe scanned the street ahead, recalling the route they had used to enter the town. “We can’t lead’em back to the ship, so scuttle this noisemaker. Next alley west.”
“Aw, come on, Zoe....”
“Nǐ dàodǐ dǒngbùdǒng?” She jammed her free fist into the small of his back, over one kidney, and Jayne huffed.
“Alright, mǎshàng! Gorram women soliders . . .” As he downshifted and swung into a narrow path piled with refuse, Jayne proceeded to call her a string of names almost as bad as she’d heard while in the forces. Zoe had to hold back a grin; she hadn’t thought he had that much creativity in him.
She made sure Jayne at least took the necessary seconds to wedge the floater under a pile of discarded furniture before they headed for the end of the alley and a straight shot out of town.
The street ahead looked deserted. Even on a market day, that prickled her scalp with suspicion, but there was no other road available, so Zoe led the way at as near a run as she thought would serve. Thirty seconds later she knew she’d been right–the lawmen had tracked the path of the floater, and the shots echoing from ahead were an ambush.
Jayne broke right, she rolled left, and the gunmen had to edge further out of cover to use them as targets. Jayne’s first bullet found a mark. Zoe fired once, then again, but they were good, guessing her timing.
A flash from across the street caught her eye. Jayne jerked back into the shelter of the doorframe, his rifle spinning in the dust where a damn sharpshooter had shattered its sight. Zoe aimed, and spilled her target this time–down, if not dead. Then a hinge creaked behind her, and she turned to a double barrel right between her eyes.
Training never dies; she palmed the barrel upward, dropped and rolled into his legs. The struggle became heat and dirt and the twist of muscles, and the bruising pain of her knuckles against his jaw. She slammed his head against the baked-hard ground and looked up.
The remaining two gunmen had Jayne pinned down in that doorway. “Jayne!” He looked across at her, and Zoe tossed her opponent’s rifle in a perfect spinning arc. Jayne caught it and fired in one smooth motion, and the man she’d thought was out cold fell heavily behind her.
“Good shot!” Zoe pressed back against the building and took aim at their remaining attackers.
Jayne twirled the rifle in his hands. “Good gun.” He took aim, and splintered brick a hundred yards away. “C’n I keep it?”
“Your cut not good enough?” Zoe gestured at Jayne, then herself, then the man on her side of the street.
He nodded, and they fired as one. “I never pass up a bonus.”
The last lawman launched a round at Zoe before he fled.
She wiped mud-brick dust from her face. “Well, you keep it, I’m the one to tell Mal how this went down. No whining from you. That stunt--”
“Were good enough. Made’em forget the Captain, didn’t it?” Jayne scowled at her, then glanced at his new, shiny firearm and rubbed a sleeve lovingly along the barrel. “Maybe?”
“Could take it outta your cut.” Zoe set a quick pace, to get them out before reinforcements could be called in. Not that she really thought this town had any.
He caught up with her, still carrying the gun, and slid a sidelong glance at her. “Now that’s not hardly fair. I saved yer life, didn’t I?”
That might be worth keeping quiet. Zoe returned the glance. “Fine. I won’t tell if you won’t.”
Jayne grinned at her, which was just as unsettling as it had been the first time she met him.
Hùndàn little mercenary.
Comments and concrit welcome, as always!
Special thanks to Rachel's Mandarin Phrases for the swearing. :-)