A/N: What is this now... number eight? Hmmm... Nope still don't have any rights, still not making any money... Cheers...

Next Up is... Walking Tall, Favourite Things...


The greater the feeling of inferiority that has been experienced, the more powerful is the urge to conquest and the more violent the emotional agitation.

Alfred Adler

If anyone else notices the peculiarity of it, they certainly don't say anything. Simon always assumed that things would be different. After Wash and Booke and…

But their not different the ways he thought they'd be. After all he hadn't expected Kayley to pull away the way she did… Before they'd even had sex. Simon had kissed and touched… and she'd pulled away, saying it didn't feel right. Honestly he was quite relieved, because it's never felt right with Kayley. It's felt sweet and nice… but never really how it should. Still it had taken him by surprise.

Just like River suddenly taking an interest in the mechanics of a ship. Though that perhaps is just him because hadn't she always been closer to Serenity than anyone else. Actually claiming to be the ship at one point… The engine grease on her face though is a bit off-putting, he's mistaken her for Kayley more than once or twice, which when actually looking at the two he can't work out how.

Then there's Inara and the Captain. There was a time when a day wouldn't go by without those two having some kind of argument. The passion between them hot and palpable and now it's not and Simon can't work out why. Can't work out when exactly or how it cooled. Because surely if those two had done anything about it he would have heard. It's a very small ship and nothing that goes on is a secret… At the very least one of the crew knows at first and soon after that everyone knows.

But for once Simon has heard nothing. Nor has anyone else mentioned that Zoë's been wearing make-up lately. Glittery, pretty, feminine stuff… Or has she always worn it? Is Simon just being paranoid? No, because Zoë always has her hair done up simply, pulled back from her face and only a few days earlier it had been brushed up and back and braid and curled into something that Simon didn't know the name of, but looked quite attractive.

Worst of all is how they act together… like they know something he doesn't. Not the Captain so much, but the rest… For the first time in a while Simon feels like an idiot child and just can't seem to work out why…


"Jayne don't say that it's so rude!" Kayley cried slapping his shoulder.

"It's a joke!" The larger man defended.

"Yeah and it's really rude and besides you must've told everybody here it at least twice, so that's the last time it needs to leave your lips."

"Well the doc aren't heard it twice!" Jayne said with a wave of his hand.

"I got it the first time thanks!" Simon frowned because he couldn't seem to stop blushing over it.

"Argh, doc wouldn't know a good thing if it bit him in the arse." Jayne accused going back to his plate.

"Oh and you do!" Zoë countered.

"I'd know what to do with a willin' body, which is more than I can say for…" Jayne words abruptly cut off into a grunt as Zoë kicked him.

"What? The doc don't even realize that M-" Another kick, subtle and yet not at the same time and Simon paused before rushing to his own defense because there was that oddness again. That something that only he didn't quite get… Palpable and yet not…

It was at this point that Malcolm decided to make an appearance.

"I know what to do with… I just don't need advertising space like you…" Simon spluttered, rising swiftly from the table, before more color stained his cheeks.

"Prove it!" Jayne half-coughed and jabbed his foot into the back of Simon's knee.

The brunette stumbled forward, blindly and was oh so thankful when he hit something quite a bit higher than the floor. Then he realized just what it was…

"Sorry Captain." He stuttered, trying to pull away and finding arms wrapped loosely about his waist.

"Little unsteady on your feet there doc." Mal seemed completely innocuous.

"Must be!" Simon swallowed, glaring at Jayne who had a nastily smirk pasted on. He brought his hands up to rest on Mal's chest, pushing lightly, hoping that the other would take the hint and release him.

River giggled and whispered something into Kayley's ear, making the other girl blush… and once again, there was that sense of oddness. But again if anyone else noticed they didn't say anything…

"Thank you." He tried, pressing a little harder, but as loose as the hands felt they weren't allowing him to go and as Simon's eyes flicked around the room he noticed that everyone had on their own little smirk.

"Better be careful doc wouldn't want you to break that pretty head of yours." Mal taunted… and Simon suddenly wondered if they weren't all teasing him… Even his sister…

"Right! Malcolm you can let me go now!" Simon breathed, wondering bitterly why he was always the one left out! The smirks drew higher… All except for Mal who looked a little puzzled.

"Your welcome, Simon." He grinned slightly, his arms dropping unceremoniously, as Mal moved off to serve himself breakfast… and that was it… conspiracy over. When Simon looked at them again Jayne was picking slowly at his food, Kayley was explaining to River how something fitted into an engine and Zoë and Inara had a book in front of them. No one was looking at him, no one was smirking… Had Jayne even kicked him…

Simon retreated down into the infirmary, trying to decide whether he was dropping off the edge of sanity or not.


"River come on cut it out." Simon sighed. He'd just lain down to sleep only a few minutes ago and now River had decided that she wanted him awake. She once again started to tickle his nose.

"River!" Simon sighed rolling over so that his back was to her. There was a moment's pause… then the blanket started to slip from his waist. He grabbed the corner. But somehow river managed to jerk it free.

"River!" She laughed and piling the cloth up in her hands bolted out the door. Simon could hear her footsteps disappearing down the corridor. He didn't even bother with a shirt before he headed out after her.

"River? River…" All he finds is the blanket dropped, in front of Malcolm's open bedroom door… great, the Captain really going to be impressed to find River snooping through his room.

"River…" Simon calls again, biting his lip as he ducks his head in…

"River…" There's still no answer and Simon can't see very well from this viewpoint. He swallows and climbs down into the bunk…

Mal is, not surprisingly elsewhere… but then so is River… Simon doesn't get it… Nor does he understand why the door is shut and locked when he goes to leave.