Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in Firefly and all that stuff….
River woke up in a mood. She hated sleeping. Actually, she only hated nightmares. That night, the young reader had her fair share. Even worse she was beginning to have a peaceful night sleep for once in her life when her brother woke her up.
"Hey, River come on," he said shaking her a little.
River didn't say anything when she woke up, but she had fire in her eyes. Simon was quite aware of this. He only smiled as he told her to get dressed and meet him at the infirmary in half an hour. Simon was already dressed and showered. River begrudgingly did as she was told.
The young girl put on a thin summer dress with a floral pattern, and a pair of black shorts. River walked to the infirmary without having put on her boots.
10, 20, and finally 30 minutes had passed and Simon still hadn't shown up. River stared at her feet the first ten minutes. Then started naming every bone in her foot for the next few, when Simon still hadn't arrived she began to name all the bones until she got to her skull. Once she named every bone, she realized how much time had passed.
Why couldn't Simon stick to being her brother instead of being her doctor? She wondered to herself. She hated the medicine he was giving her. It left her feeling twitchy and she barely had any appetite. The medicine was the best one Simon had given her. The crew felt her being sixty percent sane was better than her being one-hundred percent crazy. God, why couldn't she be an only child? She asked herself.
"I'm so sorry," Simon came in and said quickly filling the hypodermic. "I spelt coffee on myself and had to go clean up."
Simon was lying River could read him. Plus, Simon was a bad liar, he always had been.
"You were with Kaylee," she accused.
"No Kaylee's fixing the engine."
That was the truth, but she wasn't sure what he was lying to cover up. Either way River 'bout had it with him. After waking her up from a relatively blissful sleep that she worked hard to accomplish, then making her wait in the infirmary forever. River chose to not make it easy for Simon. As he approached her with the needle she stopped him by putting her hand on his chest.
"No," she said "you only want to tear through my flesh and fill it with poison."
River was completely sane when she said that she just decided to choose more poetic words. Simon stared at River for a good minute. River never took her hand down from his chest. Then in a completely uncharacteristic move that even the young psychic didn't see coming… Simon grabbed River's hand and bit it. River retracted her hand with a small yelp.
"You bit me?" that was a question
"Yes I did," Simon answered.
"You bit me," it became a statement.
"I know. I was here, remember?"
For the first time in River Tam's life she felt stupid, but she still couldn't let it go.
"You bit me," she said in more of a whisper.
"And you probably should leave before I bite you again."
River squinted and stared at him deeply. Was he serious? She wondered. River looked into her brother's mind trying to sense his thoughts. He was singing a song. A trick he learned to block out all conscience and sub-conscience thoughts.
Blessed be the ties that bind
Our hearts in Christian love
God, she hated his sense of humor. Singing a song he no doubt learned from Shepherd Book. Why couldn't she be an only child?
River decided to take her brother's warning seriously. She hardly took her eyes off of him as she left.The young girl hugged herself as she left the infirmary.
Her brother bit her. He had never bitten her; he did pull her hair once when they were both young. It shouldn't have seemed so crazy to her. He was her older brother, brothers had a tendency to taunt their little sisters.
"Hey kiddo," Mal broke her out of her thoughts.
"Simon bit me," she said almost immediately. River showed him the bite mark on her hand.
"Well I'll be," he said looking at her hand. Mal looked in the infirmary where Simon was cleaning. "Do you want to bite him back?" he asked her.
River stopped to consider it for a moment. "No," she finally confirmed.
"Alright," Mal said and left her to be alone with her thoughts.
'Brother' maybe that's what was throwing her off. Simon was her older brother, but she rarely looked at him as that. River saw Simon as her guardian and her doctor. She never saw him as a real brother. The term brother, to River, would imply that both needed a parent. Simon didn't need a parent, or guidance only River did. Simon had been almost parenting River since she was young. River's parents lavished their love on Simon. He was the family's future. Although her parents loved her, Simon was the only one who made River feel like a person. Simon was the first born male. He was supposed to make the Tam family look good. River was only supposed to be pretty and popular as Simon had sadly explained to her one day. River was pretty, but she was too smart to be popular. Simon was her only playmate, the only one who could understand her. When River's parents realized what a genius River was, they decided she had a better chance of being popular at an academy. That, of course, is how she got experimented on by the government. In the academy River knew her only chance of escape was through Simon. Simon understood her. She was right. Simon saved her. She was standing on a ship, far from the academy and safer than she had been in months. So why did he bite her? Did he finally decide he didn't want to be her guardian…her protector…her doctor, even if he had to give her horrible medicine.
Medicine, River thought. She was in the infirmary because he was supposed to give her a shot. But instead he…River grimaced for a second as she began to feel a little twitchy. She looked at her arm and saw a puncture mark where Simon had given her a shot at the time he'd bitten her. Simon didn't put any deep meditation as to why he bit her. Only River did. Simon just wanted to give her, her medicine without having to deal with her mood. For the second time in River Tam's life she felt stupid. Why couldn't she be an only child? She asked herself.
River went down the stairs and stood under the catwalk. She was still in a mood. Simon made it worse.
River heard two sharp whistles. She looked up above the catwalk as a rainbow of origami butterflies came down around her. River took in an excited breath. She smiled and twirled as she tried to catch the butterflies. She laughed as they brushed across her face and down to the floor. River laid down on the floor with the butterflies and picked a few up. She looked up at the catwalk and saw her brother smiling down at her. That's what he had lied about. That's why he was late. He was making the origami, most likely with Inara. Simon walked down the catwalk and kneeled down by his sister. He scooped up a handful of butterflies and let them fall in her hair.
"Happy Birthday mei mei," he said as he tickled her side.
"You bit me?" a question again.
"I know, I was there."
River threw a butterfly at his nose and sat up to hug him. She was glad she wasn't an only child.