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Title: Too Good to Be True
Author: moragmacpherson
Fandoms: Firefly/Torchwood
Characters: Jayne Cobb; Jack Harkness
Pairings: Gen
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: 2,586
Spoilers: None: pre-series for Firefly and very post-series for Torchwood.
Warnings: Language, crude humor, non-graphic violence
Disclaimer: Firefly is the property of Joss Whedon, Fox, and their respective corporate identities. Torchwood is the property of Russell T. Davies, the BBC, and their respective corporate identities.
A/N: All Mandarin translations and transliterations are taken from The Firefly-Serenity Pinyinary (mouse over text to see translations). Beta'd by [personal profile] jjhunter.

Summary: On the eve of the Unification War, Jack Harkness has a modest proposal for Jayne Cobb.

Some deals were just too good to be true. Others had manageable drawbacks. "Touch my ass again and the deal's off, " grunted Jayne. "And if the deal's off, then I get to shoot you."

"Guess I'll have to control myself." His newest employer grinned. "I can, you know."

Jayne grunted again. "Just so we're clear." He settled back in his seat, ass safely burrowed into the cushions. Normally he'd have shot the guy already, just on principle. But he was offering Jayne a short-term contract with an obscene pay-off, half of which was already sitting in a satchel on Jayne's lap. Jayne could wait until after the job was done and he got the rest of the money. "What do I call you?"

The smug sonovabitch's eyes twinkled. "Name's Jack Harkness. But you can call me Captain."

Jayne's hand twitched towards his pistol but he stopped himself. "Sure thing, Captain," he said.

"Excellent." Jack stood up. "Before I fill you in on the details, can I get you another drink?"

Jayne nodded and handed Jack his empty glass. While he was over at the bar, Jayne came up with a plan:

1.) Finish the job
2.) Get the money
3.) Shoot "Captain" Jack Harkness. Preferably after breaking at least one if not both of his grabby hands.

It was a simple plan, but those were the kind Jayne had always liked best.


Jack's plan was a little more complicated. "We're breaking into the Xià Shǒujìng Museum on Ariel."

Jayne choked on his whiskey. "Ariel? You didn't say nothin' 'bout this being a Core world job."

Jack laughed while wiping Jayne's spray off the table. "Would it have made a difference?"

Not at the price Jack had been offering, no, but still... "You said this was going to be a simple smash and grab. They got all sorts of fancy security measures on Core worlds. I can't help you with that go-se."

"Then it's a good thing for me I don't need you to," said Jack, spreading out a blue print on the table. "It is going to be simple smash and grab so far as you're concerned: I'll take care of all of the tech stuff. Your main job, Jayne, is to look like a big tough hired mercenary and intimidate the hell out of a bunch of Core mooks who've grown soft from letting their technology do the fighting for them." Jack looked up. "You can do that, right?"

Jayne reminded himself he couldn't shoot Jack until after he had the money. "Yeah, think I can manage, Cap'n."

Jack beamed at him. "I knew I could count on you, Jayne." Jayne thought about the things he could count: how many bullets were left in his magazine, the money in the bag by his feet, and the number of Jack's bones he was going to break before killing him. On that thought, Jayne smiled right back.

"So what exactly are we after?" he asked.

Jack held up a pair of fingers. "Two things, which, unfortunately, are in separate wings of the museum." Jayne groaned, causing Jack to cluck his tongue. "Hey, we're lucky they're on the same planet, not to mention the same building. The first one will be in the natural history of wing, here. The second isn't on display, but is down in archival storage, here." Jack flipped the plans over to reveal the basement level.

"What are they?" asked Jayne.

"Each of them's small enough for me to carry in my pockets, you don't have to worry about that," said Jack.

Jayne shook his head. "There are plenty of things you could stuff in that giant gorram coat that I might not want anything to do with." Jack's grin had gone electric and maybe Jayne needed to watch his phraseology a little closer. He scowled. "Laser pistols and fission grenades. I don't hold with nasty pieces of work like that. So either you tell me what we're going after or you go after it alone. Dong ma?"

Jack's expression turned serious. "So you do have scruples, Jayne. Good to know." He pulled out a tablet out of his bag. "The first item's a piece of coral." The tablet displayed a small orange rock. Jack pressed a few buttons. "The second one is a twenty-first century communications device." The animation showed a small grey box that flipped open to reveal a small screen and a numeric keypad.

Jayne frowned. "Twenty-first century?"

"Yes, Jayne," said Jack like that was the dumbest thing Jayne could have said, and maybe it was, wouldn't be the first time, but Jayne didn't have a damned clue why. "The Xià Shǒujìng Museum is dedicated to housing the 'Verse's largest single collection of artifacts from Earth-That-Was."

Oh. Jayne hadn't known that.

"I know that," he drawled. "Just don't understand why you're paying me a small fortune to steal a rock what don't even sparkle and an ol' comm box that won't work a damn. They ain't worth a quarter what you're paying me."

And that Jayne did know. He'd pulled a couple of jobs stealing merchandise for the black market trade in artifacts from Earth-That-Was - not many - but enough to know these were hardly big-ticket items. Heck, his Nana had a music box that her ancestors had saved from Earth-That-Was, played a pretty tinkly tune when you opened it, even if it was a little banged up it still had its ivory inlay and it wasn't like the Cobbs had ever had much money, but they held onto the music box, 'cause that sort of thing was important. At least half the families in the 'Verse had some little heirloom like that, any one of which would fetch a gorram higher price than either of the items Jack wanted to steal.

Jack was tracing his fingers over the image. "To me, Jayne, they're worth every penny I'm paying you."

Jayne wasn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth. He was one to come back for another horse after everyone else had bunked down for the night. "Maybe even more?"

"Don't push your luck." Jack said it too fast, like he'd known Jayne was gonna ask before he did. Jayne took another sip of whiskey and thought about what he'd just heard for a second before deciding it wasn't worth thinking about. Jayne wouldn't get very far trying to understand Jack Harkness: man had been a crazy hwoon dahn from the get-go.

Normal folk didn't walk into known mercenary dens and grab random strangers' behinds to introduce themselves, not if they wanted to keep breathing. Normal folk weren't quick enough to duck the punch Jayne threw in response; and certainly not fast enough to swipe Jayne's pistol in the same smooth motion. Normal folk definitely didn't stick around after the end of the brawl (at any good mercenary bar, it only took one bit of violence to set the whole place off, and Jayne only drank at good mercenary bars) to offer jobs and huge sacks of money to the mercenary whose ass they'd grabbed. No, Jayne had about as much chance of understanding Jack as he did of being elected to the Alliance Parliament or dying peaceful in his bed.

So Jayne just chalked in Jack's obsession with two random pieces of junk from the old world as another mark in the 'Jack's fong-luh' column. Didn't matter. All that meant was Jayne wouldn't make any extra money fencing the loot after he shot Jack. He'd send the stuff home instead: his sister Mattie might think the rock was sorta pretty and maybe Freddy would like the comm - kid had a knack with old electrical equipment. This was still a pretty shiny deal, all in all.


Crouched under a desk in the museum basement while shots from the guards' sonic rifles echoed over their heads, Jayne decided that maybe this deal wasn't quite so shiny after all. "Did you just grab my ass?" he demanded.

/>Jack rolled his eyes. "It's a small fucking desk: accidents happen. Get over yourself and go, now!" he shouted before laying down cover fire, allowing Jayne to dart behind the next row of shelves. "It's not like your ass is all that great," Jack added, but at least the eerie-ass sonovabitch shot straight enough, even if he did aim for kneecaps when he really should have been going for gutshots.

"I'll have you know," said Jayne from his new position as he hefted Vera up, "that plenty of ladies have complimented me on my firm and manly rear-end. A fairy like you should be begging to touch it." On that note, Jayne unleashed a high spray of bullets at the trio of men who'd been trying to outflank them, grinning as he heard helmets hit the ground.

"What part of 'aim for the legs' don't you understand, Cobb?" asked Jack as he tossed a concussion grenade over the desk towards the main group of guards. When Jayne uncovered his ears after the blast, Jack was once again by his side, grinning. "And, not judging, but how many of those ladies were paid for at the time they complimented you?"

Jayne frowned. "Not all of 'em." He grabbed a random relic off the shelf and threw it across the room. Two different rifle shots shattered it in mid-air and those weren't sonic blasts: looked like the shee-niou Core boys had finally found real guns. But when Jayne turned back, Jack had gone and run down the aisle anyway. "Are you suicidal?" he shouted while laying down the best cover fire he could, but there were still probably at least ten guards running around.

"Can't be suicidal if you can't die," replied Jack while he rifled through the shelves.

"Huh choo-shung tza-jiao duh tzang-huo!"

"Really Cobb! There's plenty of things I'd do, but the livestock aren't one of 'em. Keep up the cover, would you?"

Jayne kept up the cover fire, but he wasn't quite sure why. At this point two things were clear: Jack was officially insane, and they were probably going to die. "Twenty-eight ain't a bad run," he muttered. He'd been looking forward to that war what kept threatening to break out between the Core and the Rim; had figured on wrangling a couple of fat contracts from both sides. Nothing like Jack was paying him, but still...

"Got it!" Jack clutched his prize and started running back to cover. Before he reached it, however, he ran into a pair of bullets - one in his back and out his guts and the other in his thigh. "Shit," he gasped as he slid the rest of the way to Jayne.

"Come on," Jayne huffed, grabbing Jayne by his hwong-tong coat and dragging him to relative safety.

"And here I was beginning to think you didn't care," said Jack with a bloody smile.

"It's bad business to let your boss bleed out uncovered before he finishes paying ya," said Jayne as he checked the ammo situation: Vera was long out and he only had one magazine left for the Le Mat. Next time he pulled something like this, Jayne was gonna load up on grenades. He frowned. Probably wasn't gonna be a next time, was there?

"I'm not dying, Jayne," said Jack as he sat up.

"Judging by the pieces of your spine decorating the floor, I'd say that's a temporary situation, Cap'n."

"Not really. Follow me." And then Jack stood up, which was really a suo-shee thing for him to do. Up to then, Jayne had been dead certain that Jack was the crazy one. But Jack was running towards one of the side rooms while Jayne could still see bits of his spinal cord smeared against the concrete which didn't make one lick of sense, and that meant maybe Jayne was the crazy one. Still, he might be crazy but he wasn't stupid, so he followed Jack into the side room.

"I don't suppose you've got us a way out of this trap," said Jayne as Jack slammed the door shut behind him. This new room didn't even have a window.

Jack grinned. "I do. Just need one second." He pulled the old comm box out of his inner pocket, which revealed the bloody mess of his shirt where Jayne had seen the bullet come through. The splatter was still on his pants too, but Jack wasn't even limping while he paced the room, fiddling with his prize.

"What are you?" Jayne had to ask.

"I'm your boss, Jayne." Jack snapped the gadget back together and smiled when he pressed a button and it lit up and played a short tune. "And also a fixed point in time and space, but that doesn't really matter. Right now, I need you to look at this." Jack waved the tiny glowing screen in front of Jayne's face.


"So I can do this." And Jack's fist was so quick that Jayne only felt the pain in his jaw for an instant before everything went black.


Jayne didn't remember Jack being this blurry. He blinked a few time before Jack came into proper focus, along with the bar booth. Whuh- booth? "Whuh-"

"Careful there, Jayne: your jaw's gonna be a little tender for a few days."

That was the gorram truth. Jayne went to rub at it but flinched when the slightest pressure made his whole face explode in pain. "Wha'djou-"

"Punch you?" Jack at least had the courtesy to look a bit shamefaced at his despicable treachery, as was to be expected from any decent sort of traitor. "Sorry about that - damn bullet cracked the syringe I was gonna use to knock you out."

Nothing about that sentence made any sense. "Wha-"

"Trust me, you wanted to be unconscious: you're happier this way. I know how much you like it when things stay simple." Jayne did like things simple -- but when had he told Jack that? He lost track of the thought when Jack slid another hefty leather satchel across the table. "Speaking of which, here's the rest of your money, with a little something extra thrown in because of how complicated things got down there. You're a good man to have in a crisis, Jayne Cobb."

Jayne smiled at that - he was, wasn't he? - but immediately regretted the change in expression. "Nyughh," he groaned.

Jack stood. "I'll drink to that," he said before downing a shot and patting Jayne on the shoulder. "Now, if you'll excuse me, my ride's waiting on me, probably tapping his foot and crossing his arms at this point. You'd think a Time Lord would be more patient, wouldn't you?"


Jack smiled. "I guess you wouldn't. Take care, Jayne. There's a nasty war brewing out there in the 'Verse - I'm getting out while the getting's good. If I were you, I'd take that payday and lay low for awhile. Say, five years or so." Jack laughed. "And rest up. You'll need it."

"Woss-" started Jayne, but Jack had already slipped out the door. Jayne followed him, saw him duck behind a corner before hearing a faint whirring sound. When Jayne reached the alley, there was nothing there, no sign Jack Harkness had ever existed other than the money he'd left behind. Hadn't gotten to say goodbye, much less shoot the bastard.

In retrospect, it was one of the most successful working relationships in Jayne's career.

He'd taken the money and the advice, stuck by the old homestead through the whole of the Unification War. Later, when folks asked, Jayne always said he sat it out because neither side paid well enough. He never bothered telling folks about Captain Jack Harkness and the biggest pay-off of his life.

Some stories didn't need to be shared. Some stories made you sound crazy. Some stories were just too good to be true.


Jack Harkness/Jayne Cobb (As gen as Jack and Jayne can get, I suppose)


( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
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Nov. 12th, 2010 11:26 pm (UTC)
Okay, I loved the hell out of this. Seriously.

Also, is this: Jack's grin had gone electric and maybe Jayne needed to watch his phraseology a little closer. a call out to The Music Man? Because if it is I think I love it that much more
Nov. 13th, 2010 07:06 am (UTC)
Awww... I'm all blushy. And that was indeed a reference to 'The Music Man' - it just seemed to be the kind of patois word Jayne would pick up. I'm so thrilled that someone noticed it. Thank you so much for the comments.
Nov. 12th, 2010 11:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, brilliant! I was hoping this prompt would be picked, and you did it so well. Jack possibly ass grabbing in the middle of a firefight, and warning Jayne to stay out of the war. Excellently plausible for both universes!
Nov. 13th, 2010 07:08 am (UTC)
Oh good - so long as you like it I'm in the clear - it is after all, your fic. I was a little worried because my Jack tends to be more of a DW!Jack than TW!Jack, but I figure both of them would have trouble resisting Jayne's firm and manly behind. Thanks for giving me such a great prompt to work with and for letting me know it worked so quickly!
Nov. 12th, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC)
n retrospect, it was one of the most successful working relationships in Jayne's career.

That? Made it perfection.

Loved it. And the manly and firm rear end, and Jack's reply - you really had both their voices down perfectly.

Nov. 13th, 2010 07:10 am (UTC)
That was my favorite line in the story too. Maintaining characterization and voice are always my top priorities: thank you for letting me know I accomplished my goal this time, and for such kind feedback.
Nov. 12th, 2010 11:53 pm (UTC)
"There's a nasty war brewing out there in the 'Verse [...] If I were you, I'd take that payday and lay low for awhile. Say, five years or so." -- This makes so much sense to explain what Jayne did during the war.

Nice job.
Nov. 13th, 2010 07:14 am (UTC)
Yeah - the premise of the fic was always going to be that Jack knew the Unification War was coming and decided to get the heck out of Dodge - but I wanted him to take a real interest in Jayne while he was doing it - the possibility that Jayne, along with the rest of the Serenity crew, makes it into 51st century history books. So by the end, Jack has to give something back. And seeing as Jayne's claim that "neither side paid well enough" always sounded like a thin lie to me... yep. Anyway - thanks for leaving the detailed and insightful feedback - I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it.
Nov. 13th, 2010 01:31 am (UTC)
This is really fantastic! You really nailed Jayne's voice and I loved how completely flummoxed he was by everything about Jack and his grabby hands. I really enjoyed reading this. :D
Nov. 13th, 2010 07:18 am (UTC)
I love Jayne - he might not be the smartest character ever, but he's methodical and within his warped moral system he's actually very ethical (though it's late, so I might have swapped those). The combination of 'scalpel-precision' guy and 'blunt-object' guy is one of my favorites to write - I really appreciate you taking the time to say it was fun to read as well.
Nov. 13th, 2010 02:01 am (UTC)
I really like how Jayne is so confused and Jack is...well, Jack, ass-grabbing included :) Great job with these two!
Nov. 13th, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks, they're both fun characters to write, although to keep them together it's important to always have a reason why Jayne isn't shooting Jack right now, otherwise Jayne gets a little trigger happy. Thank you for leaving the very kind feedback!
Nov. 13th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
I'm rather tired right now, and consequently I'm not doing too great at the whole "articulation" thing, so you'll have to be content with: Fic! Shiny! I liked it! *sheepish grin*
Nov. 13th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
I'll go with Jayne in this case and say articulation is overrated. Thanks for taking the time to let me know you enjoyed this.
Nov. 13th, 2010 03:18 am (UTC)
Fabulous! I loved Jack's casual grabbiness, and Jayne's delightfully mercenary attitude. Jayne's attention to his family (thinking of sending them the boosted goods), his obsession with the money, cateloguing what he'd do to Jack, all of it made me grin. And Jack "keeping things simple" in the end was so very apt. I think Jayne was likely to do something stupid if he knew about Time Lords. Great story!
Nov. 13th, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
Jayne would do all sorts of stupid things if he knew about Time Lords - there's a reason Jack kept him in the dark about most stuff. Not to mention this is a much younger Jayne than we see in the series, so there's be more brashness, even less thought. Thanks for letting me know you liked it!
Nov. 13th, 2010 08:52 am (UTC)
This was fabulously fun - loved how both characters felt completely in place in the universe, and oh, the set-up for this was just so amazingly, well, fun. (I'm repeating myself, I know; it's just that the word applies so well.)

Much love also for the ending, and for Jack having influenced Jayne's life so that he's still alive to serve under another captain.
Nov. 13th, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC)
Fun is the major theme of this story, so it's totally understandable. I like to think Jack was a positive influence on Jayne - although he might have left Jayne a little more suspicious of crazy people. Thanks for taking the time to leave such detailed feedback.
Nov. 13th, 2010 11:07 am (UTC)
Wow - this was excellent. A great read, and super characterisation of two of my faves.

And the idea of Jayne having a Nana who he actually CALLS Nana is somehow the cutest thing I've seen today!
Nov. 13th, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC)
It's a funny thing - some of the toughest BAMFs I know have the absolute sweetest names for their grandmothers - and that's what they call them, because that's Nana's name. And it just seemed to fit.

I'm very happy to hear you think I got the characterization down, and even happier to hear that you enjoyed the whole thing. Thanks for letting me know.
Nov. 13th, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC)
This was amazing! I think you just *nailed* Jayne's voice, and I adored your Jack (hehe, he'd totally grope a mercenary). And the implication that Jack managed to reconnect with the Doctor totally warmed my heart.

I loved it! :)
Nov. 13th, 2010 07:37 pm (UTC)
It wasn't an entirely prurient move - Jack wanted to know if Jayne really was as good a fighter as he'd heard, so it was an easy way to check out his moves. Plus, Jayne does have a great butt. =) So happy to hear that you thought it was done well and you enjoyed it: thank you for letting me know.
Nov. 13th, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
Wow, this was fun! You've got a great Jayne voice, and made an unusual combination of characters really work for me. And if that coral is what I think it is, Jack's got a few more adventures with the Doctor in his future than the show would like us to think. :D

Nicely done, as always.
Nov. 13th, 2010 08:45 pm (UTC)
I suspect that coral is exactly what you think it is (Jack was mostly after the Universal Phone, but it's a bad idea to leave stray pieces of TARDIS coral lying around). They were a bit of an odd pairing and it took a bit of authorial wrangling to keep Jayne from shooting Jack in the middle of any situation I put them in, but I'm pleased with the result. Thank you for the compliment on the voice and for leaving such kind and detailed feedback.
Nov. 13th, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC)
Loved it! Spot on for both characters.
Nov. 13th, 2010 09:17 pm (UTC)
Awww, thanks - characterization is always my number one priority, so I'm thrilled when people say I've done it right. Thank you for letting me know.
Nov. 15th, 2010 04:47 pm (UTC)
Lovely Jayne voice!
Nov. 15th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
I try. Thank you for taking the time to tell me you thought so.
Nov. 16th, 2010 08:42 pm (UTC)
Loved it!
Nov. 17th, 2010 02:07 am (UTC)
Very happy to hear that, thank you.
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