Disclaimer: The world and characters of Firefly/Serenity belong to Joss Whedon. I'm just playing with them and promise not to traumatize them too much.
Author's Note: This just popped into my head a while ago and I figured I'd write it. It's just a little one shot so don't expect too much. But I hope you laugh at least a little. I'm not totally happy with the ending but I never am so….
Also, as to when this is set, it's after Objects in Space and before the BDM (unless you want to pretend the BDM didn't kill certain beloved characters)
Hoban Washburne, pilot of the firefly-class transport ship Serenity, was bored. It had been five days since they'd been planet-side. Five days of doing basically the same thing with the same people, and another six days before that was likely to change. However, Wash was not the sort of person for whom boredom was ever a problem for very long. As his siblings and flight school classmates had discovered, Wash was perfectly capable of providing his own entertainment.
Normally, Wash could have occupied himself endlessly with his very beautiful wife and left the rest of the crew alone. However, Zoë was taking the break from getting shot at to go over the ships books (something Mal left to her since he hated anything even resembling math). So Wash needed someone else to play with and this time around he had decided on the young doctor. The two of them had bonded a bit on the bridge whenever Mal took Zoë and Jayne out on jobs and neither Serenity nor River needed their attention.
As he had expected, Wash found Simon in the infirmary. "Hey, how's River?"
Simon glanced up from the bottles he was organizing. "She's fine. She's playing with Kaylee. Girl things I'd rather not know about."
"I see." Wash said as he moved to stand next to the younger man. "My sisters used to play a lot of games that kind of scared me too." He peered at the bottles. "What are you doing?"
"Jayne was in here yesterday looking for something again. I'm just reorganizing everything he moved."
Wash's half formed idea shaped itself a little more. "Almost done?"
"Pretty much, why? Did you need something?"
"Wanna annoy Jayne?"
Simon gave him a curious look. Wash merely grinned and dragged him down to the cargo bay.
Jayne was a creature of habits in some respects, and his workout routine was one of them. Very little interfered in his exercise regimen, so when he came down to the cargo bay with the shepherd to lift weights, he was not deterred by the presence of Wash and Simon bent over a crate and whispering to each other. Annoyed, perhaps, but not deterred.
Shepherd Book greeted the younger men who looked up briefly to reply, then turned their attention back to whatever they were doing. Jayne was more than happy to ignore them as he settled onto the bench.
Jayne continued to ignore the other men when they quit whispering and moved to the stairs. He continued to ignore them when they started throwing something onto the stairs. It got a little harder to ignore them when they started cheering each other on or disparaging certain shots.
Jayne finished his turn and got out of the way for the shepherd to take his. He went back to trying to ignore the idiots, but it was getting harder. Whatever they were playing, Simon seemed to be winning, and Wash was making much of how well he was doing. Can't be that hard if the hun dan doctor can do it.
They were still throwing things when Book finished. Jayne would have just left but Book wanted to see what they were doing. "They seem very enthusiastic; I just want to see what the excitement is about."
Although he would never have admitted it, Jayne was rather curious himself so he took advantage of the shepherd's interest to hide his own and followed.
"What are you playing?" Book asked as Simon tossed what Jayne now saw was a food packet onto one of the stairs.
"Great shot!" Wash declared, clapping Simon on the back. He turned to Book. "We're playing Toss the Food Packet" he explained as if it were the most natural thing in the world. "Simon's really good at it," he added.
"Well, River and I used to have a lot of snowball fights. I have pretty good aim."
"I was never allowed to throw snowballs at my sisters," Wash grumbled.
"Maybe if you'd had more snowball fights, you'd be better at this."
"I'm not that bad!" Wash objected. Simon gestured to the stairs.
Jayne and Book regarded the steps for a moment. Simon and Wash had been taking turns throwing the food packets for several minutes and they were scattered over several stairs in no apparent pattern. Jayne couldn't figure who had thrown which.
"I'm not that bad. You're just really good." Wash repeated.
Jayne was getting a little sick of hearing that. "Bet I could do it."
Wash and Simon exchanged looks which Jayne couldn't read.
"I'd like to try too, if I could." Book added.
"Sure!" Wash fetched a handful of food packets and handed them out. "Simon and I will go first so you can see what we're doing."
Wash tossed his food packet onto the seventh stair up. Simon snorted in amusement. "Well, better than last time." Wash said philosophically. Simon shook his head and tossed his food packet. It landed on the sixth stair up, a little left of centre.
"There, see?" he said. "Almost perfect."
Book went next. He got his food packet onto the sixth stair as well, though almost to the back of the stair and right of the middle.
"Not bad, not bad." Wash said. They all looked at Jayne. Jayne tossed his food packet confidently onto the sixth step, almost dead centre. He was feeling a bit smug until Wash laughed. Simon was staring at Jayne's food packet a little puzzled.
"You totally missed!" Wash declared.
Book and Jayne blinked at him.
"What were you aiming at?" Simon asked, sounding rather confused. He shook his head slightly and went over to the crate to get more food packets. "Here, let's try again."
The four of them each took a turn throwing food packets. According to Wash, Simon's was perfect this time, Book's was decent, his own was alright, and Jayne's was, once again, way off.
Book and Jayne looked from the two men to the stairs and back again.
"I really didn't think it was that hard," Wash mused, eying the stairs thoughtfully. "I mean, Shepherd figured it out, right? Maybe Jayne just doesn't have good aim when he's throwing things." This seemed to be addressed to Simon who shurgged.
Jayne looked at the Shepherd and noticed that he seemed confused too, but in a bemused way.
"Well, I suppose the rules might be a little confusing," Simon said. "Let's see if the girls can figure them out." He smiled up at the catwalk where Inara, Kaylee, and River had appeared from Inara's shuttle and were peering puzzledly at the food packets all over the stairs. He and Wash quickly gathered all the already thrown food packets and the girls came downstairs to join them.
"Alright," Wash told them as he handed out food packets, "watch carefully." He tossed his food packet onto the fourth stair.
"Good shot, I'd almost think it wasn't you throwing." Simon teased, as he threw his food packet onto the eighth stair. Jayne snorted, but quietly.
Wash's jaw dropped for a moment. "That was amazing! I didn't think even you'd make that shot!"
River stepped up next and threw onto the fifth step, over to the left. Simon and Wash both declared it an excellent shot. Book's shot landed on the fifth stair as well and was declared good. Inara's joined Simon's on the eighth and after some discussion Simon said it was pretty fair for a first try. Kaylee's, which landed on the sixth step so close to the back it was almost falling off, was deemed nearly perfect. Jayne threw his onto the fifth step with River and Book's. Wash snickered and Simon shrugged.
"See, the rules can't be that hard to figure out. The girls clearly get it."
Jayne analyzed the food packets and could tell the others (except for River, of course) were doing the same. He refused to admit he couldn't figure why shots were good or bad, and when Wash began handing out more food packets he took one along with everyone else, determined to figure this out and prove that he was better than the doctor.
Zoe had finished with the books for the day and she and Mal were on the bridge talking. Eventually, they became aware of sounds coming from the cargo bay and, suspecting her husband was involved, Zoe went to investigate. She stopped at the top of the stairs, out of sight and watched for two rounds. Smothering a laugh, she hurried back to the bridge and brought Mal down to watch as well.
Zoe leaned on the railing, watching while Wash recapped the scores. Simon was definitely winning, with River and Kaylee close behind. Then came Book, then Inara and Wash, and finally Jayne, very very far behind. The mercenary looked annoyed, River and Wash were obviously quite happy, Inara, Kaylee, and Book looked bemused, and Simon seemed to be fighting a smile, though it was hard to tell for sure from this distance.
The captain and first mate watched another round or two before Mal headed down the stairs.
"Hello, lazy lazy crew. Are we playing games instead of working?"
"Ain't got no work can't wait, cap'n," Kaylee replied cheerfully.
"Well, that's alright then. Long as I can play. I been watching and I'm sure I'll be fair good at it. Zoe too, I suspect." River giggled and whispered something to her brother who hastily shushed her.
Food packets were handed around and three more rounds were played. As Mal had expected, he and Zoe were declared excellent shots by Simon and Wash.
"I give up," Book admitted at last. "What exactly are we playing here? I seem to be doing well, but I confess I have no idea why."
"Well, Jayne, you were in the doc's infirmary yesterday I hear."
"What's that got to do with anything?" Simon and Wash began backing away, Wash bringing his wife with him for protection and grinning.
"Captain smart," River observed, keeping pace with her retreating brother. Mal grinned at her.
"I don't understand," Kaylee said.
"I'm thinking the only rule in this here game is Wash and Simon get to decide points."
Kaylee's eyes widened in surprise, Inara smothered a laugh, and Book nodded thoughtfully. Zoe casually moved so she was between Jayne and the game masters and said, laughter in her voice "Run."
Neither man needed to be told twice; they sprinted up the stairs as Jayne realized what Mal meant and let out an angry shout.