Disclaimer: I don't own it. Everything you recognise belongs to Joss. No infringement is
intended and I'm certainly not making any money from this story.
Summary: River's had a little too much to drink.
Author's note: Written for the prompt Drunk at the 10hurtcomfort challenge community on

Three Sheets to the Wind

by Hereswith

"Don't feel well," she says, morosely, in answer to his question. She's slumped against a tree, at
the outskirts of the celebration, the bark gnarly beneath her palm, and she hasn't thrown up, but
she almost wishes she would, because it might ease the dreadful nausea. "I think I'm going to die."

"Had a mite too much, is all," he replies. It's dark, but not so dark that she can't see him. "Ain't
no fun while it lasts, but it won't kill you."

There's sympathy in his voice, but a hint of humour, as well, and she glares at him. "You're not

"Know when to stop," he says, and at her grimace, "You'll learn."

"Not nice," she grumbles. "Mal. Bad." She takes an experimental step forward, then another,
emboldened by success, letting go of the tree. But the ground tilts, the planet shrugs her off like
she's an annoyance, and she would have sprawled in a heap, had he not caught her. He's solid
and steady, unlike the world, so she clings. He's also very close, and she looks up, meeting his
gaze. "You have pretty eyes."

He laughs, startled. "That's supposed to make up for 'not nice', is it?"

She tips her head to the side, studying his face. "The nose is adequate," she continues, and he
gives a mock affronted snort. "I like your mouth." She lifts her hand and aims, but ends up below
the mark, poking his chin.

"Hey!" he half-protests. "What are you—"

He falls silent when she corrects the error, running her forefinger along his lower lip. It's soft, his
breath is warm, and she swallows, her voice turning low. "Good for kissing."

He blinks, then firmly sets her away from him, but keeps a loose grasp on her arms. "That's the
firewater talking."

"Is not," she's quick to counter. "Might make me say it, but doesn't make me lie. It wouldn't be
my first," she adds, to assure him. "I've kissed—" Squinting with concentration, she counts them
in her mind. "Four other men. Boys." She pauses again. "Haven't told Simon."

"I bet you haven't," he replies. "I won't be your fifth, darlin'."

She frowns deeper at him. "Why not?" He hesitates and she's an albatross, not a bird of prey,
but she can recognise the weakness, and readies to call him on it.

Or would have. "Oh."


Her stomach heaves and she twists aside to spare him the worst of it, pushing her hair out of the
way in frantic haste. His hand is on her back, soothing throughout, and at length she straightens,
flushed with embarrassment. "Sorry."

"Happens to the best of us," he says, as encouragement. "We should get you to the ship 'fore Doc
starts wondering. You up for walking?"

"Yes," she responds, breathing in the crisp evening air. The queasiness has subsided, but it hasn't
disappeared. "If I can lean on you?"

He smiles. "My shoulder's yours, little one."

She considers that, and him, a moment. "Is it?"

He reaches out, tucking an errant strand behind her ear. "Always."