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Our Mrs. Cobb

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Summary: Start during 'Our Mrs. Reynolds but has a Rayne twist. It continues from there with our 'married' couple. ***Chapter 24 added, was left out orginally***

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Firefly > Multiple Pairings(Past Donor)sevangelFR1825117,12360145142,0248 Feb 0629 Jan 07Yes
CoA Winner

Conversations

Title: Conversations
Series: Our Mrs. Cobb (Still haven’t come up with a new series name)
Author: Sevangel
Disclaimer: Not mine
Rating: PG-13
FYI: I know there was some confusion about the entrance of Willow and how it might seem like it was added at the end but I want to assure everybody that when I decided to make this a crossover, it wasn’t a rash decision. I thought long and hard before deciding that I think this story would work. And hopefully, I’ll be able to answer any questions that you might have. Thanks for reading.
-

“So this Saffron drugged Mal and tried to kill you all?” Willow repeats one of the things Kaylee told her. “But he didn’t kill her?”

“Naw, the cap’n may try and act all mean but he’s ain’t.” Kaylee answers. “Most of the time anyways.”

“But he’s not still married to her?” Willow asks.

“No.” Kaylee answers. “Shepard Book was able to annul it or they got divorced or somethin’ like that. They ain’t married no more and that’s all that matters.”

“But you and Jayne are.” Willow says as she looks at River.

“Yes.” River replies as she looks over at the door.

Willow follows River’s gaze just as someone knocks on the door.

“Can I come in?” Simon questions through the door.

“Yes.” River replies.

Simon slides open the door, a bottle of pills and a glass of water balanced in his hand. “I have your medicine, mei-mei.” He says as he looks at Kaylee, River, and Willow who are all sitting on his old bed.

“What time is it?” Kaylee asks.

“Almost midnight.” Simon answers. “You three have been in here for a couple of hours. Having fun?”

“Yeah.” Kaylee answers. “Didn’t realize it was so late. I gotta check on my girl fore I go to bed. Willow, me and River can give you that tour tomorrow, if you want.”

“Sounds great.” Willow replies.

“Simon, you wanna walk with me?” Kaylee questions cheerfully.

“I just have to give River her medicine.” Simon replies as he opens the bottle and pours some pills into his hand. He hands River three different colored ones and then hands her the glass of water. He waits until she swallows the pills before leaning down to kiss her forehead. “Good night, mei-mei.”

“Night Simon.” River replies.

“Good night, Willow.” Simon says as he moves next to the redhead. He takes her wrist and checks her pulse. “Do you need something to help you sleep?”

“Thanks, but I’m fine.” Willow answers. “It’s nice of you to be all concerned though.”

“He can’t help it.” River whispers. “He’s a natural worrier.”

“Yeah, I can tell.” Willow replies. “Night Simon, night Kaylee.”

Simon follows Kaylee out of the door and shuts it behind them before he follows her down to the engine room.

River waits until she knows her brother is gone before sitting up and coughing the pills up and into her hand.

“Do that often?” Willow questions.

“Sometimes.” River answers as she turns on the nightlight between the two beds. She sets the pills on the table next to the light to dispose of later.

“What are they?” Willow asks as she looks at the pills.

“A sedative, a smoother, and something that closely resembles an antidepressant.” River answers. “It’s Simon’s cure.”

“You say that like it doesn’t do anything.” Willow comments.

“The sedatives do what they’re supposed to but the other two are pointless.” River replies. “He’s curing a disease that I don’t have.”

“Which is?”

“Paranoid schizophrenia.” River answers.

“Is your brother a good doctor?” Willow asks curiously.

“The best surgeon around.” River answers.

“Then why does he think you’re schizo if you’re not?” Willow questions.

River looks down at her hands before looking back at Willow. “I hear things that he can’t hear.” River replies quietly. “And see things that he can’t see. When I try to explain it to him, the words fall out like a dance but there’s no music and the rhythm is lost.”

“Everything comes out jumbled?” Willow watches the younger girl as she fiddles with the bottom of her nightgown.

“Yes.” River answers. “And sometimes they come in jumbled too and Simon doesn’t understand but he has to do something; he can’t not. So he fixes something that’s not broken.”

Willow ponders on that for a second before asking what she really wants to know. “How did you know I would hear you?”

“She told me.” River answers.

“She who?” Willow asks.

“Pretty hair, golden like the sun.” River replies. “She kept me safe.”

“Buffy?” Willow gasps. “Buffy is here?”

“No.” River answers. “She’s dead. She died a very long time ago.”

“But you’re talking about Buffy, right?”

“Yes.” River replies. “She visits me in my dreams sometimes. She told me you were coming and that I had to be ready to get you. And she warned me that the crew can’t know what you are, not yet. She said we would know when the time is right but it is not now. Then she told me how to talk to you without anybody else knowing. Well, actually, she said just to think real loud at you.”

“Are you sure it’s her?” Willow questions.

“Let’s face it, the only time in your entire life that you were at peace was when you were dead.” River says quietly. “Until Willow brought you back, you know, with magic.”

Willow flinches at the words. “She told you that?”

“No.” River answers. “She showed me. She showed me everything.”

“How?” Willow questions. “How does she talk to you?”

“She said we have a connection.” River answers.

“Connection?” Willow repeats. “What kind of connection?”

“She wouldn’t tell me.” River replies. “She said she couldn’t. They would let her visit me as long as she didn’t interfere with what was going on and as long as she kept what kind of connection we have a secret.”

“When did she visit you last?” Willow asks.

“The night before I was married.” River answers. “I wasn’t going to leave the ship but she said I must and I would know what to do when I got there. Then she said you would be coming soon and that I would know it; I would feel it and I did. I felt your magic.”

“I don’t understand.” Willow says. “If she knew what was going to happen, why didn’t she just stop me or save me?”

“She couldn’t.” River answers. “The hellmouth would have opened, again, and you know that. You had to close it, forever. She did try but didn’t find out you went back until it was too late. By then, you were gone and the hellmouth was dormant.”

“Then how did I get here?”

“She couldn’t go back in time and save you but she could bring you forward in time.” River answers.

“Buffy didn’t have that kind of power.” Willow argues.

“After she died, she ascended.” River replies. “Not like Cordy did but became an actual higher power. She said she was waiting until the timing was accurate, until she found a place you were needed before pulling you forward. And it was up to me to save you.”

“How far?” Willow asks. “How far into the future?”

“A little over 500 years.” River answers.

“Why did she wait that long?”

River shrugs. “She wouldn’t say.”

“I can’t believe you’re saying Buffy is part of the Powers that be.” Willow says. “After everything they put her through, why would she say yes?”

“To make a difference.” River replies. “To make us more than pawns.”

“Did it work?”

“500 years later and most things remain the same.” River answers sadly. “She tries but she’s fighting a battle that she has no chance of winning.”

“That’s Buffy.” Willow agrees with a small smile before sitting up straight with a squeal. “500 YEARS?”

“Yes.” River answers.

“But that’s…I don’t know anything about anything.” Willow gasps.

“I know.” River replies. “And I will teach you. First, we’re living on a spaceship called Serenity.”

“Spaceship?” Willow squeals nervously. “Like outer space, space?”

“Yes.” River answers. “What did you think we were on?”

“A boat.” Willow replies. “A boat on water not all up in space where we’re going to be eaten by aliens or something like that.”

“I have never seen an alien so I can’t say that they don’t exist, but I think we are safe from that threat.” River says.

“Unless somebody summons one.” Willow points out.

“Nobody believes they exist so I don’t think they will.” River replies.

“That’s good.” Willow says. “Cause it was gross.”

“And you would most likely find the body.” River points out.

“Most likely.” Willow agrees. She studies River in confusion for a minute. “I just thought of something. You said that when you talk everything comes out all jumbled but you’re sounding all normal to me. Does that mean I hear all jumbled?”

“Do you remember how if felt after Giles doped you with white magic?” River questions. “You said you could feel everything.”

“I remember.” Willow replies quietly. “It’s something I will never forget.”

“But you were able to make it stop.” River points out. “To make it all stop.”

“Yeah, by trying to end the world.” Willow says. “Not the type of therapy I’d recommend.”

“Imagine having eight different thoughts pressing in, eight different feelings washing over you while still hearing what 8 different people are saying out loud.” River grimaces. “It’s very confusing and very painful. But you…your mind is unlike any that I’ve ever been near. I can’t get in, even if try. And either can anything else. There’s a complete wall around your brain that can’t be penetrated unless you allow it or if someone purposefully does what I did and ‘thinks real loud at you’ and even then, you can choose to block them out. It is quiet in here.”

Willow stares at River open-mouthed. “You can read minds.”

“Yes.” River agrees.

“Does anybody know?” Willow asks.

“No.” River replies. “Just like they can’t know about you they can’t know about me, not yet.”

“I can understand not wanting to tell them I’m all witchy, cause being almost burnt at the stake, not as fun as it sounds.” Willow says.

“No, it’s not.” River agrees.

“Your mom?”

“Religious villagers.”

“Huh.” Willow mutters. “Anyways, he’s your brother, shouldn’t you tell him the truth?”

“What happened when you knew Buffy could read minds?” River replies.

Willow’s eyes widen with realization. “We pretty much thought what we didn’t want her to know.”

“I have enough demons of my own.” River says. “I don’t need to learn the ones they keep hidden too.”

“So, are you going to keep this from them for like ever?” Willow questions. “Cause I don’t think I’ll be able to. I have to do magic, if I don’t, bad, very bad things can happen.”

“We will know when the time is right.” River replies. “And you can do magic in here and we can meditate and do yoga.”

“Alright, I’ll go along with this for now but if you really have seen everything, you know I’m not a very good liar.” Willow says. “So if it comes out, you can’t freak out.”

“I won’t.” River replies. “Now, we must begin your lessons. We will start with the demise of Earth-that-was.”

Willow takes the tablet of drawing paper and the colored pencils that River hands her as she takes notes covering how life became what it is.

-

“Mal and Zoe fought in the war.” Willow comments as she puts the pad of paper down. “Is that why they do the crime, to get back at the Alliance and all?”

“Partly.” River answers. “They don’t like being told what to do, well Zoe follows orders but Mal gives them. But yes, Mal enjoys taking jobs where he knows he’s breaking the law.”

“And Jayne?”

“Works mostly for money.” River replies. “He’s changed since joining Serenity but is still a killer.”

“And that doesn’t bother you?” Willow asks.

“No.” River answers. “It’s not like how it was before. Sometimes, we have to kill to survive.” River picks up the tablet and flips through it. “You take notes like Simon does; a color-coded system.”

“Yeah.” Willow agrees with a yawn. “How long have we been talking?”

“6 hours, 43 minutes, and 28 seconds.” River answers. “Wash should be awake by now, if you would like to see the bridge.”

“We should probably sleep but I want to explore.” Willow says as she stands up and stretches. She glances down at the nightgown River gave her and winces. “What’s up with the granny nighties?”

“Simon picked them out.” River answers, rolling her eyes. She pulls two dresses out of her trunk and hands one to Willow.

“Much better.” Willow says as she takes the light green smock-type dress from her. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” River replies as she starts to change into her own blue dress.

“Um, you do know that I’m…” Willow says as she looks away from the almost naked girl.

“That you like to have sex with other women, yes, I know.” River interrupts. “But I am not attracted to you and I am also married so it doesn’t matter.”

Willow quickly changes into the dress, deciding to forgo the boots she had been wearing. “I need to remember to grab my clothes out of the hospital place.”

“Infirmary.” River corrects. “It’s called the infirmary.”

“Infirmary.” Willow repeats, wrinkling her nose. “It sounds all..upper crest to me, you know. Like, oh, we must visit the infirmary. Why not just call it the hospital or sick room. If you ask me, it’s just to make it sound more appealing that it is. If he wanted to be all honest, he should just call it the ‘hey come in here and get poked and prodded room’.”

River smiles softly. “You’re funny.”

“Not on purpose.” Willow replies as she follows River out of the room and down the hall. “So, are you going to start with the riddle talkage again?”

“Sometimes, yes.” River answers. “I can now distinguish who whatever I’m feeling comes from but I am still learning to distinguish thought from feeling from what they are actually saying. It’s not so bad first thing in the morning; everyone is still soft from sleep. The longer we’re in the black, the worse it becomes. The hardest is right before jobs; that’s when the feelings are the strongest and the thoughts the loudest.”

“It’s amazing that you have been able to do that much.” Willow comments. “Especially if you’re all drugged up most of the time.”

“It’s the first thing in my life I’ve ever had to work for.” River says as they turn down the hallway and towards the bridge. “Everything else just came naturally. It’s very challenging.”

Willow follows River up the stairs and then gasps when she looks out the window.

Wash spins around to see River and Willow standing behind him. “Um, hi.” Wash says, unsure of what to say to them. He’s not used to seeing River up this early or without Simon. And Willow just scares him, what with the falling out of the sky thing.

“It’s black.” Willow says in awe. “I never realized how black it would be or how bright the stars would be.”

“Yeah.” Wash agrees with a small smile. “Where I’m from, you couldn’t see a one of them, the pollution was so thick. Mostly, I entered flight school just to see what the hell everyone was talking about.”

“You graduated, right?” Willow asks nervously. “You got your pilot license and everything?”

“Yeah, I graduated.” Wash answers.

“That’s good.” Willow replies with a relieved sigh. “Because it’s probably not that safe up here to begin with and if you were a fake pilot and all it would just be bad.”

Wash can’t help but smile, completely amused by the redhead’s way of talking.

“Oh, a t-rex.” Willow says as she picks up the plastic dinosaur. “May I sit down?”

“Sure.” Wash replies, gesturing to the co-pilot’s chair.

Willow plops down in the chair and then River walks over to sit down on the ground in front of her. “My best friend always thought t-rexes were scary.” Willow comments as she walks the plastic toy through the air. “And he thought they were cool cause they’re all big and have large teeth. But I always thought raptors were scarier. I mean, sure the rex is so much bigger but not really all that smart. They couldn’t even see something unless it was moving. Now a raptor, they were scary. They were pack hunters and loads more smarter than a rex.”

“You like dinosaurs too?” Wash asks.

“I like the herbivores better but I’ve always found them to be interesting.” Willow answers. “Specially the different theories on how they became all extinct.”

“Wait a second.” Wash says. He turns back around and flips the auto-pilot back on before turning back to face Willow. “Theories?”

-

“But an asteroid?” Wash questions as he refills all their cups. After 30 minutes, they had moved their discussion out of the cramped bridge and into the more roomy mess. Wash walks the pot back across the room and sets it on the counter before moving back to the couch.

“The big bang theory.” River comments.

Wash glances over at River nervously, as this was the first time she’s spoken. “But that just seems so…wrong.” Wash says. “They should have gone out fighting, not by a big old flaming rock falling on them.”

“Never really thought about it that way.” Willow comments as she takes a sip out of the coffee. “But you’re right, it does seem kind of, insulting, know what I mean? They were all big and bad and if they were still around today, they would eat us in a second but then they were all killed by a natural disaster.”

“Exactly.” Wash agrees. He glances up when he hears coughing to see the entire crew standing by the table.

“Husband, what’s going on?” Zoe questions quietly.

Wash looks at her weirdly before looking down at himself and then at the two girls sitting next to him. Willow is sitting on the couch a foot or so away from him and River is sitting on the floor in front of her, her back leaning against one of Willow’s legs.

“On?” Wash repeats. “Nothing. We were just talking.”

“Talking about what?” Mal questions.

“Dinosaurs.” Wash answers.

“Dinosaurs?” Mal says, astonished.

“Yeah, dinosaurs.” Willow replies. “We were just talking about how they died and all.”

“Why are you all up?” Wash asks. “It’s early.”

“It’s 10am.” Zoe replies.

“10am?” Willow gasps. “But then that means we were talking for almost 3 hours.”

Simon steps around the group and kneels down in front of his sister. “Are you feeling alright mei-mei?” Simon asks as he grabs her wrist. “Your pulse is normal and you don’t have a fever.”

“Fine.” River replies, pulling her wrist out of his hand.

“You mean to say you’ve been talkin’ for three hours bout dinosaurs?” Mal asks.

“Looks like.” Wash answers. “I need to check the bridge.”

“Already did.” Zoe replies. “That’s where I thought you would be.”

“We were.” Wash says as he stands up. “But it got a bit crowded and I wanted some coffee so we came down here.”

“Well, I think it’s time we ate so I’m going to start on breakfast.” Book says, trying to break the silence that follows.

“Good idea, preacher.” Mal agrees. He follows book over to the counter and grabs the coffee pot. “You drank all the coffee?”

Willow puts a hand on River’s shoulder and waits until the younger girl stands up before standing up herself. “We did? I didn’t think we drank that much. I only had 2 cups, 4 at the most. And River only had 1 or 2. Wash, how many did you have?”

“Three.”

“Okay, then, maybe we did drink all the coffee but it wasn’t like we did it on purpose.” Willow says. “I mean, we didn’t go, ‘oh, let’s drink all the coffee and then leave the empty pot for everybody to find’. We just wanted something to drink and the coffee was good and I haven’t been allowed to have coffee for months so it was nice to get to drink some. And I don’t think River’s ever drank it because she didn’t add sugar or anything until I asked her if she wanted some.”

“Why aren’t you allowed to have coffee?” Simon asks. “You aren’t allergic are you?”

“No, not allergic.” Willow answers. “It’s the caffeine, it just makes me jumpy.”

Mal shakes his head as he starts to make a fresh pot.

“Do you need a hand?” Willow asks as she walks towards him. She spins around when she hears giggling, her face turning bright red. “Oh, not a hand like that cause I’m thinking you’re old enough not to need that kind of help, not that I’m offering or anything, cause I’m not. I’m just saying you’ve probably handled things on your own for a long time, not that I’m implying that you..handle things all the time…”

River places her hand over Willow’s mouth, once again cutting off her babble. “I’m sure the captain appreciates the offer of a ..helping hand.” River says, drawling out the last two words. “But he’s much too prudish to say yes.”

“You’re evil.” Willow says, glaring at River. “And not the fun, trying to take over the world kind of evil but the torturing innocent people type of evil.”

“Did you know when you’re embarrassed, your skin turns the same color as your hair?” River asks, her head cocked to the side.

“Evil.” Willow repeats.

“We can get back to the evil thing later.” Mal says. “Shepard’s done with the meal.”

“Oh, that was quick.” Willow comments as she follows River to the table. “What are we eating?”

“Protein.” River answers as she dumps some of it onto her plate and then onto Willow’s.

Willow pokes the pile of ‘protein’ in front of her with a fork. She takes a tentative bite and after realizing it’s not as bad as it smells, starts to dig in.

“So, Willow, do you remember more than last night?” Zoe asks.

Willow swallows the food in her mouth before answering. “No, nothing more.”

“Huh.” Zoe mutters as she eyes the redhead.

Willow flinches at her gaze but keeps her eyes locked onto the very intimidating eyes of the soldier.

“Are you having any head pain?” Simon asks upon seeing her flinch. “Dizziness?”

“I’m not in shock.” Willow replies.

“Did you sleep okay?” Simon responds. “Any nightmares or problems staying asleep?”

“No, slept fine.” Willow lies. “Like a log.”

“You too, River?” Simon asks.

“Yes.” River answers.

“Huh.” Simon comments before dropping three pills onto the table in front of the two girls. “Want to explain these, then? I found them on the night stand.”

“Willow was not tired and I didn’t want her to be alone on her first night.” River answers quietly.

“You okay?” Willow asks River. She gently places her hand on River’s forehead for a second.

River closes her eyes as she can almost feel the calmness spreading through her brain. It feels like a wall is temporary being put up between her mind and everyone else’s. “Fine.” River answers as she looks up at Willow.

Jayne looks at his ‘wife’ and the redhead next to her; confused by the connection they seem to have. “What’d you two do all night?”

Willow takes in Jayne’s confused expression and starts to blush. “Talked.” Willow answers. “We just talked, nothing happened, nothing would ever happen. I don’t mean…River’s hot and everything but she’s not attracted to me and frankly, I’m not attracted to her and nothing happened but some talkage.”

“You’re sly?” Mal asks.

“What?” Willow looks at the captain, confused by what he’s saying. “I’m not sneaky, not really. I’m not a good liar and I almost always get caught when I try to be sneaky.”

“He wants to know if you enjoy having sex with women.” River explains. “That’s what sly means.”

“Oh.” Willow squeals. “Then, yes, my last two relationships have been with women but I dated a guy for almost 3 years until he left me to go ‘find himself’. I’m more attracted to the person then their appendage or therefore lack of one.”

“Oh.” Mal mutters. “What’d you two talk bout all night?”

“Stuff.” Willow answers. “Just stuff; history, math, science, that kind of stuff.”

“River, you didn’t bore her, did you?” Simon asks. “Or confuse her?”

“Oh, no, it wasn’t boring at all.” Willow answers for River. “I’m a science geek too.”

“Geek?” Mal asks confusedly.

“Geek, you know, someone who likes the whole learning thing.” Willow replies. “I’ve always loved school and homework and tests and problems. They’re fun.”

“School ain’t fun.” Jayne comments. “Well, I had a bit of fun at school but it weren’t nothin’ to do with learnin’, though there was a teacher involved.”

“You had sex with your teacher?” Willow squeals.

“Yeah.” Jayne answers with a smirk. “Bout the only time I enjoyed learnin’.”

“My best friend almost had sex with a teacher once.” Willow comments. “But then she tried to kill him and he kind of lost the urge.”

“That’s sad.” Kaylee says a few seconds later.

“That’s just Xander.” Willow replies. “If he liked a girl, she would eventually try to kill him. Heck, the last time it happened, he wanted me to ‘gay’ him up cause he was tired of it. But changed his mind once I pointed out the guys could try to kill him just as easily as the girls.”

“You can’t change somebody’s sexual preference.” Simon argues.

“Well, duh.” Willow agrees. “But he was just having a wiggins, kind of a normal thing with Xander.” She drops her fork and looks sadly at the table.

“You miss them.” River says softly.

“Yeah.” Willow agrees sadly. “I’ve been with Xander since I was in diapers and Buffy, Giles, Dawn, Angel since I was 16, and everyone else soon after that. We’ve always been together except for when Angel and Buffy were gone and when Xander went on his trip and then when Angel moved and when Buffy was…gone and then when Giles moved home and when I had to go…recover.”

Mal has to stop for a second to sort through what she just said. “Recover?”

“About 2 years ago, my girlfriend Tara was shot in front of me.” Willow answers as honestly as she can. “I kind of lost it for a while and went on a self-destructive path until Giles helped me find my way back.”

“That’s so sad.” Kaylee says again.

“Yeah, it was.” Willow agrees. “But Giles helped me pull through.”

“Giles?” Kaylee asks. “Was that a…”

Willow laughs. “No, no, Giles was my librarian in school.” Willow explains between laughs. “He was old, probably only a few years younger than Shepard Book here.”

Mal can’t help but laugh at the look on Book’s face.

“Not that I’m trying to insult you or anything cause I’ve known people way older than you.” Willow tries to apologize.

“It’s okay, Willow.” Book says. “I’m well aware of my age.”

Willow glances around the table, intent on changing the subject off sex and old people. “So, Simon, you look all respectable like.”

“Um, yes.” Simon replies, his hand tugging on his ear. “Was that a questions?”

“No, just a comment.” Willow says. “I just find it all weird that you would be Mr. Breaking and Entering and taking someone out of a government run hospital.”

The table goes completely silent except for the sigh that River gives.

“I wasn’t supposed to say that, was I?” Willow asks River.

“No.”

Mal stands up and looks at Willow, his hand on his pistol. “Well, now, if this don’t present a problem.” Mal says quietly. “Cause I was under the impression you just kinda got dropped out of a ship but now I’m startin’ to wonder if you weren’t planted here.”

Willow laughs.

“I ain’t finding the humor in this.” Mal growls. “The last fed that snuck on my boat ended up with a bullet in his forehead.”

Willow tries to stop laughing but still ends up giggling. “You can’t really believe that.” Willow says. “If they knew River and Simon were here, they would have just pulled you over or something, not dropped me out to sneak on.”

“Alright, so maybe it is a little far-fetched.” Mal agrees. “But how else can you explain knowin’ bout our fuggies?”

Willow rolls her eyes and gestures to River. “She told me.”

“What?” Simon shouts. “How?”

“She opened her mouth and the words came out.” Willow answers.

“How did she know?” Simon ponders more to himself than anyone else.

“She was there.” Willow points out. “I’m pretty sure one would remember being all rescued from a government hospital and then being put in a box-thingie.”

“I know that she was there.” Simon replies. “But I just meant she’s not mentally stable enough to remember what happened.”

“She is sitting right there.” Willow says. “You know, I’ve always been taught that you don’t call a person crazy when they’re sitting right in front of you; they might go all nuts on you.”

“River would never hurt me.” Simon replies.

“How do you know that?” Willow asks. “I thought you said she was all crazy. Who knows what’ll she’ll do.”

“I didn’t mean it that way.” Simon tries to explain. “I just meant that she is sick.”

“She looks perfectly healthy to me.” Willow comments.

“I didn’t mean physically, I meant mentally.” Simon replies.

“I thought you were a surgeon.” Willow says.

“I am.” Simon agrees.

“Since when are surgeons licensed to diagnose a person with mental illness?” Willow asks.

“Are you questioning my findings?” Simon asks angrily.

“Yes, I am.” Willow replies. “River said you are a great doctor and I’m willing to trust her opinions but you’re not a psychiatrist. I’m not trying to insult you or say I know more than you, but can you honestly say you have enough experience and knowledge to diagnose her with something as severe as paranoid schizophrenia?”

Simon sits back in his chair, a dazed look on his face. “I was just trying to fix her.”

“I know that.” Willow says. “And she knows it too. But maybe you should just sit back and let her fix herself.”

Simon looks at River with a confused and sad look on his face.

Willow looks around the table and then starts muttering to herself. “I’ve only been her for like 20 hours and I’ve already called somebody old, made a doctor loose all faith in his abilities, propositioned the captain, almost had a gun pulled on me, and made a man think I was hitting on his wife. Rate I’m going, you’re going to be kicking me off the boat before we even land somewhere.”

“Kaylee, why don’t you and River take Willow on that tour you asked be about earlier.” Mal suggests.

“Okay.” Kaylee agrees. “Willow, River, let’s go.”

Mal waits until the girls are gone before turning to look at Simon. “Doc, you okay?”

“No.” Simon answers. “She’s right. I was so anxious to find something to cure that I diagnosed her without something completely out of my range of expertise. And not only that, but I also gave her medicine to fix it. I very well could have made her worse than she was.”

“Simon, I think you’re being too hard on yourself.” Book says. “If she was lucid enough to tell Willow what happened, and I’m guessing, what you misdiagnosed her with, then she has to be somewhat okay. But maybe you should listen to Willow and give River time to fix herself.”

“I know but it will be hard.” Simon agrees. “I’m a doctor and I’m used to fixing things, not waiting around for them to fix themselves.”

“But you also know that sometimes you have to let nature take its course.” Book replies.

“Just let her be for a while, doc.” Mal says. “Unless it because too much of a problem.”

“Okay.” Simon agrees.

“Now that we’ve got that settled, let’s move on to the subject of Willow.” Mal says. “And how close her and River seem.”

“Ya noticed that too?” Jayne replies. “Cause for two people that just met, they seem awful connected.”

“Are we jealous Jayne?” Wash asks with a grin.

“What?” Jayne growls. “No, course not. But if’n I ain’t allowed to get any neither is she.”

“River has no sexual interest in Willow.” Inara assures Jayne. “And besides noticing that River is an attractive woman, Willow has not sexual interest in River.”

“How do you know?” Jayne asks the companion.

“It’s my job to notice these things.” Inara replies. “River relates to Willow the same way that she relates to Simon, like a sibling. And Willow just glanced at River’s legs but in the same way that you and Mal both look at Kaylee. You notice that she’s a woman but have no desire to act on it. It is just appreciation of a beautiful woman, nothing more.”

“Can we please stop talking about my sister likes she’s a…” Simon stops, not knowing what to say.

“A sexual being.” Inara offers. “She’s 18 Simon, and I can assure you that she has all the desires and wants that any other 18 year-old will have. The same desires that we all have as human beings. You trying to deny it isn’t going to make her desires go away. She will want to explore these feelings and since she knowingly married Jayne, we all know who it’s going to be with.”

“Wait one gorram second.” Jayne growls. “I never said yes.”

“But you also never said no.” Inara replies. “Be honest with yourself Jayne, if River tries to explore these feelings, are you going to say no?”

Jayne doesn’t answer.

“There’s my answer.” Inara replies before looking to Simon. “If you really want to take care of your sister, I would suggest either you putting her on birth control or if you are uncomfortable with the idea, I can.”

Simon’s mouth opens and closes a few times before he waves a hand at Inara. “Do what you have to.”

“See now, I thought we’d gotten off the sex conversation a while back.” Mal says, not at all comfortable with the discussion that was just had. “And were talkin’ bout my discomfort with Willow.”

“I don’t trust her.” Zoe says.

“What?” Wash replies. “Why not?”

“Various reason, first bein’ that she conveniently don’t remember gettin’ here.” Zoe answers. “Last bein’ finding out you was with her for three hours.”

“Talking.” Wash defends.

“You’re really gonna stick with the story you were talking about dinosaurs for 3 ruttin’ hours?” Zoe replies angrily.

Wash stares at her for a few moments. “You aren’t suggesting what I think you are?” Wash replies.

“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t?” Zoe says.

“Maybe we should leave.” Book suggests to Mal.

“Hell, no, this just got interesting.” Jayne replies.

“The fact that we’re married, for one.” Wash says heatedly, his anger growing as the seconds tick by. “And the fact that River was with us the entire time. Or the fact that Willow wouldn’t do that and neither would I.”

“You barely know her.” Zoe points out.

“Looks like she’s not the only one I barely know.” Wash replies, shaking his head sadly. “I’m going up to the bridge where I’m going to sit in my chair and think. If River, Willow, and Kaylee come up there, I’ll be sure to call in a chaperone so you don’t think we’re having a big ole orgy.” He looks at his wife one more time before walking quietly out of the mess.

“Zo, you okay?” Mal asks a few seconds later.

“Fine, sir.” Zoe lies, her heart pounding. “Just fine.”

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