All the characters belong to Joss Whedon.
I really should take you two down to the infirmary," Simon said. He was standing by the door in River's room, watching Dawn and River play with each other's hair. He was looking at their bruises with very apparent concern.
Dawn rolled her eyes and sighed in exasperation. "Simon, we've talked about this. If you're going to be in here, you have to not be a boob."
"Yeah," River agreed. She gave Simon a very large grin. She looked very proud of herself. "Besides, you should see what we did to the other guys."
Simon frowned at her. "Inara told us what you did. And I think it's only a matter of time before Mal yells at you."
"Let him yell," Dawn said. "We were only protecting ourselves and Inara. And since he has the hots for Inara, I don't see why he would mind us protecting her."
"What?" Simon said in disbelief.
She rolled her eyes. For somebody so smart, he could be so dumb sometimes. "Oh come on. You can't tell me I'm the only one here who has seen those two together. They fight because they like each other but they don't think they can say it. Mal gives her shit for being a companion because he wants her and all the those guys get to have her. He's jealous. And Inara wants Mal, but that goes against her being a companion, which is what she's made her life about. She hides her feelings and won't express them because she thinks that she has to do it. What they don't realize is that they need to take the repressive bugs out of their butts and just be together.
River and Simon stared at her in shock. "I didn't think it was possible for somebody to talk that long without breathing," River said.
Dawn grinned. "I learned the art of babbling from Willow."
"Who's Willow?" Simon asked.
"My sister's friend," Dawn replied.
"She's not talking about me," River said as he looked at her. "She's talking about Buffy."
"You don't have a sister named Buffy, Mei-Mei," Simon said gently to Dawn.
"I did," Dawn said. She bit her lip and fought back her tears.
River saw her twin's sadness and glared at her brother. "Reality isn't always what you think it is, big brother. What wasn't real is real now, and what was real then has turned to ash. Just because we don't function normally doesn't mean we don't function at all. The little yellow pills can't fix what's not broken."
"She means that all the pills you've been giving us aren't ever going to help," Dawn clarified. She knew Simon didn't want to hear it, but she had to tell him. It wasn't going to do him any good to obsess about trying to fix them when he couldn't. "Look, you're a great doctor Simon. But medicine isn't going to fix us. You have to let us fix ourselves."
"I said that," River said.
"But you said it all weird and complicated," Dawn countered. "Not everybody here speaks your language."
"I just wanted to help," Simon said quietly.
Dawn and River shared a grin. "You could help by having smoochies with Kaylee," Dawn suggested.
"Mei-Mei!" Simon exclaimed. His face turned a bright shade of red.
"Come on Simon," River said. "We need our vicarious smoochies. We can't smooch you because incest is gross, we can't smooch Wash because he's married, Shepard is too old and so that only leaves Mal and Jayne."
"And smooching Mal will make Inara upset, so that only leaves Jayne," said Dawn. She stopped to think about that. "There's only one of him and two of us. That would mean one of us would miss out, we would have to take turns or have a big old threesome."
"Wo de ma!" Simon exclaimed. He looked horrified at that idea. "You two will not be smooching Jayne or anybody else."
"Simon, we're seventeen!" River whined. "We want smoochies."
Dawn got up and dragged her siblings out of the room. There was really only one way to settle this. She dragged them to the cargo bay where the rest of the crew was gathered around a giant crate. "What's going on?" Simon asked.
"We helped out some folk on Daton today and so they paid us back by giving us this giant crate," Mal explained. He was frowning. "Apparently, whatever is inside will give us protection."
"Maybe its gold," Jayne suggested.
"Why would they store gold in a crate?" Wash asked.
"Maybe its a lot of gold."
Dawn rolled her eyes at the large mercenary. He was pretty much obsessed with money. Her thoughts were interrupted by a loud banging inside the crate. The crew took a step back.
"Sir," Zoe said slowly to Mal.
The lid of the crate flew off with a mighty bang. "Insolent vermin!" a female's voice shrieked. "Who dared to lock me in here?"
"Would you shut your gob?" a male voice replied. He sounded very cranky. "And would you please get the hell out so I can get up?"
Dawn's mouth dropped open in shock. She knew who those voices belonged to. A small part of her said it couldn't be them, but that part was quieted when Illyria and Spike stepped out into the cargo bay.
"What is it with people in boxes?" Jayne asked.
Spike's eyes widened when he saw Mal. "Caleb." He looked at Illyria. "It's Caleb. The evil preacher I was telling you about."
"Now wait just a minute," Mal objected. "I don't know who you people are, but you can't just go around and accusing me of being a preacher."
Illyria grabbed Mal by the throat and lifted him up in the air, causing Zoe and Jayne to grab their guns. "Silence!" Illyria roared. "You will not speak or I will rip out your tongue."
"Illyria put him down," Dawn said. She stepped out of Simon's protective grasp. "That's not Caleb."
Illyria stared at her. It was almost like the former god was in shock. Dawn glanced at Spike. He looked like he had seen a ghost. Then, unexpectedly, he vamped out, grabbed her by the arms and and pinned her against the wall. Simon yelled her name and tried to help, but River stopped him.
"He needs to see," she said. "He needs to see she's still her."
"Listen here," he said lowly, his voice almost a growl. "I've had a very bad day today, and I'm already close to the edge. I don't care who or what you are; but you have about five seconds to stop wearing that face!"
"Spike it's me," Dawn said. She winced as his grip got even tighter. "I'm Dawn."
He slammed her against the wall again. "No! You're not her! I saw her body. I saw the slayer holding her body. I was at the funeral. Dawn is dead. She died five hundred years ago and now you're some demon who's toying with me."
"Look into my eyes!" she pleaded. "Please, Spike, just look. You know my eyes, you know my scent, hell, bite me if you have to. I'm Dawn. I'm your nibblet."
Spike looked into her eyes for a long time. She looked back, not blinking for a minute. Her heart was pounding in her chest and her arms were starting to hurt, but she didn't move a muscle. Then, after a long, tense silence, his face went back to normal. His clear blue eyes filled up with tears. "Nibblet?" he whispered.
She smiled and that's when he let go of her arms and embraced her. He buried his face in her neck and she did the same to him. Her hold on his neck was enough to hurt most people but she doubted that he would mind. "I missed you so much," she whispered.
"I missed you too," he said. "But how can you be here? We buried your body."
"Well this is the part where I come in and explain everything."
Dawn and Spike broke apart. They saw Whistler standing in the middle of the room. Dawn wrinkled her nose. Five hundred years in the future, and his fashion sense still wasn't any better.
"Okay that is it!" Mal yelled. He sounded upset and Dawn didn't blame him. Illyria had just manhandled him, Spike had just slammed her against the wall, and some badly dressed man just appeared out of nowhere. Poor Mal was not much for surprises like this. "I want to know what's going on and I want to know right the hell now!"