Jayne staggered in late for breakfast, pulling back a chair with a loud scrape and wincing. He sat down beside Mal at the dining table with a loud groan, scratching the back of his head as he grabbed a cup of coffee.
Aside from that, the mercenary was unusually silent, and Mal had learned through bitter experience that unusual and Jayne were a bad combination. â€œUh â€“ Jayne? Anything you might want to mention to us?â€ asked the captain.
â€œUh â€“ â€œ Jayneâ€™s brow wrinkled in the manner of a man trying to recall just how excessive his drunken excesses had been. â€œMal, think I mightâ€™ve bought a planet.â€
Malâ€™s mouth fell open unbidden, but not a sound escaped from it as his eyes blinked repeatedly. The assortment of gasps and giggles from the rest of the crew filled in for him rather neatly.
â€œA planet? You â€“ bought â€“ a planet?â€ asked Inara.
â€œA whole planet? Howâ€™d you get to be â€“ Jayne, you ainâ€™t rich enough to go and do a thing like that,â€ said Kaylee.
â€œI hope itâ€™s Persephone,â€ said Wash with a dreamy expression on his face.
â€œI â€“ reckon thatâ€™s what I did,â€ said Jayne. â€œWerenâ€™t overly expensive, tell you the truth.â€
â€œPersephone wasnâ€™t?â€ asked Wash.
â€œAhâ€¦.letâ€™s go back to you buyinâ€™ a planet,â€ said Mal. â€œYou donâ€™t just buy a planet, Jayne.â€
â€œMay I inquire as to what kind of alcohol it was you were drinking last night?â€ asked Simon. â€œSome â€“ more disreputable beverages have been know to â€“ have hallucinatory effects, itâ€™s quite possible that â€“â€œ
Jayne snorted. â€œThe alcohol mighta had something to do with my partinâ€™ with all the coin I was savinâ€™ up to buy me a love bot, but this wasnâ€™t no hallucination.â€
â€œA love bot?â€ asked Wash, blinking his eyes in imitation of the captainâ€™s dazed stare. â€œThis day is getting really fun.â€
â€œOkay,â€ said Mal, pressing his palms flat against the table. â€œOkay. Letâ€™s have a lot less questions and a lot more explainin.â€™ Jayne?â€
The big man sighed and leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms. â€œBought it in an auction, on the cortex. Little scrap of a moon, but it ainâ€™t in reaver territory, itâ€™s terra-formed, and it even got settâ€™lers on it. Say,â€ he said, his eyes lighting up. â€œYou reckon I own them too?â€
â€œI reckon you get another thought like that in your head, youâ€™ll be makinâ€™ a real fast trip out the airlock without a suit on,â€ said Mal significantly.
Jayne lowered his eyes. Captain only brought out that particular threat when he meant business, and he knew damn good and well it messed with his insides. â€œWell â€“ I mean â€“ that tâ€™wouldnâ€™t be right at all,â€ he corrected rapidly, grumbling internally. For petty crook and a murderer, the captain sure had himself a powerful unyielding collection of ethics.
â€œYou â€“ canâ€™t just buy a planet, Jayne,â€ protested Zoe.
â€œWhy do people keep sayinâ€™ that?â€ asked Jayne. “Ain’t like I said I wrote a novel or somethin’ now, is it?”
â€œActually, given enough money, itâ€™s not unheard of,â€ said Inara. â€œItâ€™s a practice that began back on Earth-that-was, when wealthy citizens would sometimes purchase small islands. There are a number of small, exclusive moons under private ownership, as well as some that were purchased by mining speculators and other business interests.â€
â€œYour â€“ work â€“ ever take you to one of these places?â€ asked Mal.
â€œIndeed it has,â€ said Inara, ignoring the expected jab gracefully. â€œThe main estate was a paradise, but the undeveloped outlying areas and the workerâ€™s parcels were not unlike those of a border planet.â€
â€œDoes â€“ yours have a paradise?â€ Mal asked Jayne. â€œAnd â€“ can we stay on it?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ said Jayne. â€œDonâ€™t know much of nothing about it. I was on the cortex last night talkinâ€™ to a woman acquaintance of mine, and she gets to tellinâ€™ me about this other gal just had a bust-up with â€˜er husband. She decides sheâ€™s gonna take out a little revenge by sellinâ€™ the planet from under â€˜im before he gets home, but she â€˜as to do it quick. So she puts it up on auction last night, and beinâ€™ that time was short anâ€™ not many folk stumbled on it â€“ â€œ he pointed to himself â€œ â€“ youâ€™re lookinâ€™ at the new property owner.â€