toxic_corn: Summer Glau is pretty. (FF: river - no power in the 'verse)
[personal profile] toxic_corn
Title: Cold
Author: Toxic Corn
Rating: PG for some cussin'
Disclaimer: All is Joss's, I just borrow.
Pairing: PreRayne
Synopsis: River interrupts a Tall Card game with an important announcement: She's cold.
Notes: Written for [livejournal.com profile] karanina's prompt: Cinderella.



Cold


“I'm cold.”


Jayne glanced up from his hand of cards and snorted. “Doc, your sister's cold.”


Simon frowned but kept his eyes on his own hand. “River, I'm a little busy right now. Go put on a sweater or something.”


“Doesn't matter. I'll still be cold.” River glided across the room and peered at the cards in Mal's hand. “You should have discarded that one three turns ago. Now you'll never win.”


Mal folded his cards protectively to his chest. “Doc, go find her a blanket so she'll stop peeking!”


“The last time I turned my back during a game, Jayne stole from my chore pile. And maybe if you held your cards better, she wouldn't see them.”


“Does everyone not understand that this is my ship? I can send you all out the airlock then whistle my way to Beaumonde.” Mal slumped in his chair, keeping a wary eye on River as he once more looked at his hand but she had long since lost interest, sorting through her hair to try to stare at each strand individually.


They continued their game for three more turns before River announced, “Still cold.”


Jayne slammed his hand on the table. “So help me, Doc, I'll fire her ass up if she's so gorram cold.”


“You could try, but I think she'd have you pinned with your arm behind your back in about three seconds.”


“Two,” River said, still sorting her hair.


Simon nodded. “Right, sorry. Two.”


Jayne looked to Mal. “C'mon, Mal. He ain't gonna do anything. Can't you go grab a blanket from somewheres?”


Mal raised an eyebrow. “The good doctor isn't the only one who's had his chore pile snitched from.”


“I ain't never stole nothin' from you!”


“Double negative. It means he has stolen. And he's not sorry.”


Jayne pointed at her warningly. “Stay outta my head, you creepifier!”


“I don't think she had to be in your head to know that,” Simon said, tossing a card in the discard pile with a soft clank.


“I don't like how mouthy you've gotten, doc,” Jayne muttered with a scowl.


“The day I worry about what you don't like would be...” Simon raised his head upwards, pondering a moment. “Never.”


“Fine.” Jayne set his cards down and stood up. “I'll go find something to shut that girl up.”


“The only one doing any yapping here's been you, Jayne,” Mal said irritably. “And hurry up. You take longer than five minutes and I'm looking at your cards.”


Jayne muttered a few choice words in Chinese and grumped his way out of the room followed by River. Simon reached across the table for Jayne's cards and started sifting through them.


“Wei,” Mal protested half-heartedly.


I didn't say I'd wait five minutes,” Simon said.


~*~



“Okay, here's a blanket. Now shut up.”


“Won't help.”


“Won't-- It's a gorram blanket.”


River held out her arms. “I lack bumps. That means I'm not cold.”


Jayne managed to sigh and growl at the same time and slammed the blanket back onto his bunk with more force than necessary. “All this gripin' about bein' cold and the dumb cluck don't even want a blanket...” He picked up his hat with the flaps he found under the bed and held that out. “How about this, Ms. Choosey?”


“No. My head's fine.”


“Oh for...” Jayne dropped the hat and stared down at River's bare feet. “You're too stupid to put some damn shoes on?”


“I hate shoes. They're confining and make it hard to think.”


Jayne stared at her for a minute. “Do the things that come out of your mouth make any sense to you?”


River looked surprised. “Of course. Am I not articulate?”


“No, you're not. Go put some shoes on.”


“I hate shoes. They're confining and--”


“Make it hard to think. Right. Makes perfect sense. I have the same problem myself.” Jayne swiped his furry slippers from under the bed and tossed them at River, one bouncing off her head and the other sailing over her shoulder. “Here. Warm and think-friendly. Have at 'em.”


River scooped up the slippers and sat down on his bed to put them on. He started to protest her sitting there – it looked too damn intimate – but figured that whatever got her out of here fast enough was fine by him.


She put the slippers on and stuck her legs straight out, admiring them. “Like Cinderella.”


“What?” Jayne glared at her. “There better be no glass in those slippers, girl.”


“No. In the story, Cinderella wears fur shoes.”


“She does not. They're made of glass.”


“Later they're made of glass. But really they were made of fur.”


“Look, girl, my ma told me that story every night before my bedtime hug and cup of water and Cinderella wore glass slippers.”


River's eyes softened. “That's the story that's always repeated. But in the original story, long long ago on Earth That Was, Cinderella wore fur slippers. And her step-sisters cut their toes off to try to get the shoes to fit when the prince came calling.”


That piqued Jayne's interest. “Well, hell, that makes the story more interesting. Anything else different?”


“Birds pecked out the stepmother's eyes in the end.”


“Shiny! She had it comin' to her.”


“Indeed.” To his shock, the girl wrapped her arms around him in a big hug. He would have shoved her away but his arms had been at his sides when she'd swooped in on him and the girl had a hell of a grip. “I'll go get your water now. Thanks for the slippers, Jayne.”


“Water?”


River paused with one of her slippered feet on the ladder. “Yes. First the story then the hug and cup of water. Like you said.”


“You sayin' you're my ma?” Jayne folded his arms, trying to figure this situation out. It'd taken a hard left into “What the gorram hell?” land and he wasn't sure what to make of it yet.


“No. Just honoring your tradition since I confused Cinderella for you. It's an apology. Especially since you got me slippers.”


“I just wanted you to shut up,” Jayne muttered.


River nodded. “If that's the fiction of your choice, so be it. I'll be back with your water.”


“I don't want water!”


“Sake?”


Jayne considered that a second. “Can't say no to sake.”


“I'll bring it to you. Go back to your game before the Captain decides to steal 'emptying the septic vac' from your pile.”


“He better not!” Jayne followed River closely up the ladder and ran to the mess where Simon and Mal were still sitting and looking suspiciously innocent considering a moment ago there had been hasty clanging as if someone had set a hand of cards down quickly.


The game went on and River brought Jayne a cup of sake from the supply Inara kept hidden in her shuttle. It was supposed to be a secret but those had never stopped River before.


“Are you feeling warmer, mei-mei?” Simon asked, glancing over at her.


“Toasty,” River said and took a seat on one of the nearby couches to watch the game from a distance. To everyone's surprise, Jayne didn't complain.


The End
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