Interpretation: Lunch

River was in her room drying her hair when the knock on the door came.

"Yes?"

Jayne leaned into the door on the other side so as to be heard through it. "I, uh, was makin' some lunch and since tha' rest 'o them ain't gonna be back 'til later, well, ya wanna san'ich?" He stepped back and shuffled his right foot back and forth.

River straightened up; she had been bent over drying the underside of her hair. Her forehead furrowed as she assessed the mercenary's offer. He was offering to expend effort for someone not him? Perhaps the food was tainted. That must be it. He must have become bored with guarding the ship for the day. He was looking for some amusement, and fooling her into thinking he was trying to be nice and then laughing at her when she fell ill was the plan to assuage his boredom.

"Look," he called through the door, "it ain't nothin' special er fancy, jus' a san'wich. I's havin' one and thought ya might be hungry is all. If'n ya don't want one that's fine."

River let the furrows relax. Jayne was nothing if not behaviorally predictable. He had been more even tempered toward her since deciding that she was on the same team as himself, after deciding that he was even on a team at all. So perhaps his offer was honest. She decided it was worth the risk to further develop the team dynamic.

Jayne shook his head and turned back down the hall mumbling. "She could'a had at least the common courtesy ta answer me,…"

"Jayne?" a soft voice called out. "Are you still there?"

Jayne whipped around and grabbed onto the edge of the door so fast and hard there was a cracking sound. He took a deep breath and tried to relax. "Yeah, still here."

"I appreciate your offer and wish to accept."

Jayne released his held breath. "Okay, um, I'll jus' go and make 'em, in the mess. Yeah, I'ma gonna go back to the mess and make a couple 'a san'wiches."

"I will finish getting dressed and be along momentarily."

Jayne nodded, then shook his head and mumbled. "She can't see ya, dummy." Then louder, "Okay then, I'll see ya in a few." He turned, and with light steps, made his way back to the mess.

River ran a brush through her hair and then slipped on a light blue dress. She glanced at her combat boots and decided that formality wasn't needed for a light lunch. She slid back the rice paper door and made her way to the mess.

On the way she reminisced about how her nanny had used to prepare her meals. She wasn't the greatest cook, but she could make a more than satisfactory sandwich. She would pile on the smoked turkey or roasted beef, making sure that not one bit of it overlapped the edge of the bread. Then she would pile on the lettuce and pickles and cheese and tomato and anything else they could find in the huge cooler in her childhood home. A swipe with the large serrated bread knife, a tall glass of milk, and lunch was served.

River sighed happily at the memory. She hadn't had a sandwich like that since before she left home… for that place…her smile faded just as she reached the mess doorway. Jayne was placing two glasses next to two plates on the table. He turned to her as she stepped into the room.

River carefully schooled her face expressionless as Jayne turned around- she didn't want him to think her scrunched cheeks were due to distress he may have caused.

"Hi."

"Ah, hey there, ah well," he swept an arm over the table, "lunch is served."

She giggled. There was no apparent malice in his manner, and he was joining her, so it appeared there was no ill intent after all. She walked over to the table and he moved behind her as she went to sit down. She hesitated and glanced at him out of the corner of her eye only to see him grasp the upper arms of her chair and pause, waiting for her. Her eyebrows rose as she quickly sat, the chair sliding under her smoothly.

Jayne moved around the end of the table to sit opposite her. "It's not that great, but it's all we have fer right now," he apologized.

"I'm sure it is fine, and I thank you for thinking of me," she answered graciously. Then she looked down.

That the glass in front of her was filled with water and not milk was not a surprise. Milk was a rare commodity in their life now, although they would have a small amount of it when the others returned from obtaining their resupply. No, what caught, amazed, and then amused her eye, was the sandwich itself.

To say that it was a simplified version of the one she had been daydreaming of would have been a gross understatement.

There was no lettuce to be seen.

There was no tomato.

There were no pickles.

There was no slice of cheese.

There were no other toppings of any kind to be seen. Which also was not entirely unexpected.

What was there was a small, seeded bun top with several slices of meat below it. The unidentifiable meat was hanging out beyond the border of the bun top by a good two inches all the way around. Due to this moat of meat around the bread, the bottom of the bun, if there was one, could not be seen.

River could feel Jayne's eyes on her so she looked up at him. He quickly assumed a look of impassive "whatever", but not fast enough for her to miss the hopeful stare he had been giving her. He wanted, she realized, for her to like the meal he had prepared for her. She briefly wondered if he realized that formal breaking of bread constituted a sort of social contractual agreement on ancient Earth-that-was. She doubted it, but meal taking was ever a way to socially integrate. She smiled at him.

Jayne sat back, trying to not look too relieved. He knew that she had experience with better, but he had tried to do the best he could with what they had available. He grinned back and then looked down to grab his own sandwich. As he concentrated on turning the sandwich around as he bit off all the contents hanging out, River quickly lifted the bun top and folded the layers of meat twice so they now all fit within the range of the bread. As she bit down through the twelve layers of baloney, Jayne lifted his eyes again, and River decided that this sandwich was perfectly acceptable.