River hovered around the cockpit. Occassionally found herself hanging on Wash's chair even.

He tried not to be too bothered by it.

"Serenity's no place for children."

That was a peculiar sense of déjà vu. "River…" he peeked over his shoulder at her. "You haven't been pressin' your ear to doors again, have you?"

Her head disappeared behind his chair; he could only see her hands curled over the top. "Kids need a house, yard, dogs, and geese."

"Well, obviously. You need the geese when the kids learn to juggle-- hey hey, now." He'd given himself a great opening to say something smart and witty to rebuttal, but not the time to prepare. So instead, he merely repeated, "Hey now… hey. Hey."

River peered around the side of the chair, still hanging on. "If you get a house, will we be welcome there?"

Wash leaned down over the one arm, so River could truly appreciate his good looks. "We'll invite the whole brood for some barbeque and pie."

"Balloons?"

Wash sat back in his seat, stretching out his legs, setting the scene with his hands, "Balloons a'plenty. See over there? That ol' Oak was brought about thanks to the best seed cloners in the border moons." Then he sat up stark straight, clapping his hands on his thighs. "And I bet you we'll be hanging a new swing on it any day now." Wash's hand shot out to point at another corner of the cockpit. "And that barbeque pit was built by these two hands! And my wife's two hands! She's got great hands--"

"Jayne, too?"

Wash blinked a little, to fill in the blanks. "Well, hell, somebody's gotta kill the meat." Wash's face suddenly looked serious. He leaned back in his chair again, tucking his fist under his chin. "Should keep him 'way from the geese though. Hm... Hm."

"Kaylee?" River's eyes were shining, and she'd come out from behind the chair now, crouched by his arm.

"I imagine Kaylee would have to be there, 'cause she had a hand in the décor." He shook his head a lil' as if remembering something of upset. "See, my wife didn't much approve of the colours I picked for the house-- she's got this thing against palm trees that I won't ever really comprehend. Maybe the Alliance started chuckin' palm trees over into the trenches, or one bit her as a child--"

"Shepherd Book?"

"Pie provision detail." Wash folded his arms and nodded. "And it won't be like here-- he can spout a grace so long and so wide-- if we get pie." He nodded to himself. "Mm. Pie."

River giggled a little. "And Inara?"

"I'm sure she'll carve out of her schedule to make an appearance. After all, she did pick out the china. Wouldn't be right if she wasn't around when Jayne broke it."

"Simon?" her voice was quieter, if almost unsure.

Wash patted River's hand on the arm of his chair. "Who would fix Jayne up after Zoe breaks him for breaking all our plates? No one's better than our Doc at fixing. 'cept maybe Kaylee." Wash glanced up, around, and back again. "Or maybe it's a tie. But then my wife's got these magic fingers--" he looked down at the very clearly underage girl he was telling all this to, and hushed.

"… me and Mal?"

Wash stopped. He leaned away, squaring her with quite the shocked expression. "Well, that was an odd lil' match up you threw in for last." He arched his neck to see around his chair, checking that the coast was clear. Though really, the only wandering eyes he caught himself wondering about were trained on him already. "Are you nursing a soft spot for our dear old, very old-- I should say-- captain?"

River seemed to be examining herself for the spot in question.

Wash rephrased, "River. Do you like the Captain? And when I say like, I mean, in'a…" he took a deep breath, putting his hands in a rolling motion, "eros sort'a way?"

River smiled real bright just then. Had her teeth not hung on to her bottom lip, her teeth might've busted right out. "Greek!" she chirped.

Wash leaned back in his chair, folding his hands behind his head looking very self-pleased. "Well, yes, young one, I have dabbled… I have dabbled." He coughed a lil', giving her a little wink. "Oh." He fell together back to sitting normally. "I guess I didn't answer your question."

The girl shook her head, looking only slightly disappointed.

"I imagine--" he checked for onlookers, or rather, onhearers. "I imagine you'll be bought the prettiest lookin' dress, all ready to dance up a storm, with the man on your arm. Mind you, he ain't the greatest dancer. 'specially with his back and knee givin'… and he might have a cane by then, y'know-- no. He'll definitely have a cane. And a black hat. 'cause ornery men at that age always have a mean looking cane and a crooked looking hat--"

"That don't sound like plotting a course, Mr. Washburne."

Wash lost all constitution, near slipping down and out of his chair, clambering up in the same breath. "Mal! Captain! Friend… Pal."

Mal was drumming his fingers on his gun in a less than impressed fashion.

"Sir?" Wash knew he liked that. Or maybe it only worked for Zoe.

River popped up to standing between the two of them. "He was keeping me out of trouble."

Mal raised an eyebrow. "Well that was mite kind of him to do so, but I hope he knows there won't be a pay raise for doin' it." He crossed over to stand behind Wash's chair, tipping his head to the exit. "Now get. Your brother's lookin' ta'poke ya with needley things."

River pouted a lil', but then sent a smile, a secret smile, over to her new buddy Wash. He sent her a wink, and she gave him a curtsey, and headed on her way.

Mal waited a beat before clamping an uncomfortable hand onto Wash's shoulder. "So what's all this talk about my being old in a hat?"

Wash looked wronged. "I'm just planning for your future, Mal." As soon as he felt Mal's grip loosen, he scooted away, and was looking busy flicking all kinds of switches. "And you best start taking care of yourself, Mr. old-man Captain, sir."

Mal clucked his tongue, raising an eyebrow down at the pilot. "And why pray tell?"

"'cause you gotta live to be a lucky man, my friend."

"Sounds like a reverse truth. You're hanging out with our lil' crazy perhaps too much."

Wash pressed his lips together, the corners flipped up, "S'not too bad when you're not worried about her cutting on you." He shrugged. "Might want to try it sometime."

Mal seemed to consider it, "Well, maybe. But I don't see what I got in common with a crazy-core-genius-girl."

Wash stifled a sigh. With Mal thinking in that order, River's got her work cut out for her.

In the meantime, Mal continued to hover. Even hanging on the back of Wash's chair some.

He tried not to be too bothered by it.