"What do yar say, Mal?" Badger asked. His face portrayed on a small screen. His accented voice coming through the speakers. "Do ya want tha job?"
"I don't quite know yet. I'll get back to ya." Before Badger could reply, Mal closed the wave.
Closing his eyes, he leaned back in the pilot's chair and ran his fingers through his brown hair.
Silence took to the air, complete and utter silence. There was plenty of it fly out there in the Black.
'I should tell'em bout the offer.'
He hit the intercom. "Where's ev'ry body?"
"In the cargo hold, sir." Zoe, his second in command, replied. "Is there something you're needing of us, capt'n?" There was something behind her voice. A light, melodious sound of a kind of lively composition.
"Zoe, is that...is that music I be hearin'?" His face screwed with confusion.
"Sir, that would be correct." The intercom erupted. He could hear Kaylee's high pitched laughter in the background. The music seeped through into the bridge.
"An what'n gorram hell is goin' on'n my cargo hold?" He demanded.
Zoe sighed heavily. "Sir, I don't rightly know how to explain it, 'cept to tell you to come an' see for yourself."
The captain stormed from the bridge. As he neared his destination, the music grew louder and louder. Finally, he reached the bay and looked down over the railing.
Mal observed the scene below. "Wu de tyen ah."
Zoe, Kaylee, and Simon sat on crates, laughing, as they watched River and Jayne.
River had one of her small, thin, hands on Jayne's waist and the other held his hand in the air. Jayne had his other hand, uncomfortably, on the girl's right shoulder. Jayne was too tall, or River was too short. Either way, they made an awkward pair.
River tried to move fluidly and in time with the music, but was weighed down by her inadequate dance partner. Her long, dark, hair obscured her tiny round face as they went through the movements.
Mal scrutinized the pair with an unusual feeling. He frowned as he looked on at their bodies, in close contact, moved against each other slowly and more or less as one. He noticed the way Jayne gripped her hand tightly, almost too tightly for such a dainty hand.
'Ya have to hold'er gentle like. Not rough as if ya's grapplin' her.'
River looked up at where the captain stood. Her dark brown eyes, large and round, held a mischievous glint. Mal shifted uncomfortably under her gaze.
"Gorram reader. She best no be messin' round'n my mind."
"Incorrect." The young girl announced as the large merc stepped on her bare feet. "Must start over. Do it again, but this time do it right." she told him. A grimace crossed her face.
The audience from the sidelines let out another howl of laughter. Simon started the music over again.
"Ya'll jus sittin' there snickerin' at me ain't helpin' me learnin' nuthin'. So's how's bout ya'll bi zuie." Jayne growled. He was growing quickly frustrated and annoyed.
"Aww, relax." Kaylee smiled. "We don't mean ya no harm. We's just havin' a laugh is all."
"Jien tah-duh gway."
Slowly Mal descended the stairs, his eyes glued to the two dancers starting all over from the beginning. He stood next to Zoe, who was trying to stifle her laughter. "What is this?" He demanded "Why is stupid dancin' with the little crazy one?"
"Hey capt'n" Kaylee looked over at him. "Simon bet Jayne that he cain't learn a right'n proper dance."
"An...so?" Mal asked.
"Well, you know Jayne, sir." Zoe replied. "He can never back down from a bet."
"That is true" Simon laughed smugly "And I'm glad because this is extremely entertaining." He grinned broadly as he watched his mei mei dance with the tall brute. "So far, I'm winning the bet."
"How long's he been at it?" The captain inquired.
"'Bout half an hour, now." Kaylee answered. "She's tryin' to teach him the waltz."
River moved lightly on her feet trying to lead Jayne through the steps of the dance. Her head tilted back towards the ceiling, her eyes closed as if lost in a daydream. Her soft eyelids bathing in the light overhead. She had no need to watch where her feet there going, she could do this dance in her sleep. Jayne followed her delicate footwork with his own heavy, clumsy, footwork. He looked down between their bodies, intensely focused, to make sure his feet went in the correct place.
"Ain't they meant to be the other way round?" Mal's brows knitted together with mystification.
"Yeah, but when Jayne couldn't do the leading part River got frustrated and told him it was too complicated for him, so..." Simon laughed.
"So she's makin' him learn the woman's part." Zoe finished.
"Juh jen sh guh kwai luh duh jean jan" Mal laughed.
"Mayhaps if someone showed Jayne how it's done, he'll be able to get it right." Zoe raised an eyebrow at him.
"Yeah, capt'n" Kaylee cried. "Go on'n show'em how it's done!"
Mal crossed his arms over his chest. "Ain't no way, no how."
"What's the matter?" Simon asked teasingly "Afraid you're going to be worse than Jayne?"
"Nah, I just don't want ya bein' jealous of my shiny dancin' skills."
"Aww, come on. Just once?" Kaylee pleaded. Her eyes grew large and sparkly. She put on her best pouting face. Mal just didn't have the strength to deny her when she fixed her face to pouting.
"Jayne" He called to the merc "Get over here an lemme show ya how it's done proper."
"Damn waltzin'" Jayne cursed as he walked over to the onlookers. "It ain't gonna help me in a gunfight."
"Do you wish to be the woman as well?" River asked as Mal approached her hesitantly.
"No. Unlike some people, I know how to lead." He said loud enough for Jayne to hear. He grumbled some reply.
"Of course." She said knowingly.
He stood before her with five feet in between them. "Now nuna that funny stuff. I ain't forgettin' what's ya capable of. Dong ma?"
"Go on capt'n" Kaylee urged him. "She ain't gonna bite ya." she said assuredly, then quickly turned to Simon. "She ain't gonna bite'em, right?" she asked worried and less confidently "Right?"
"Mei mei..." Simon began.
"I promise I won't bite you." The girl smiled deviously, cutting her brother off.
Mal placed a hand on the small of her back and gently held her right hand in his. She rested her free arm on his broad shoulder to close the gap between them. The smell of wild flowers, emanated from the dark locks cascading over her face and shoulders, tickled his senses. The warmth of her body against his made him nervous.
As they began dancing, Mal tried to avoid eye contact with the young woman in his arms. It was a difficult task to do, seeing that her face was turned up towards his and her large brown eyes were so intently focused on his.
"You discoverin' somthin' of interest on my face, little witch?" He asked finally looking down into her eyes. A smile seemed permanently fixed on her lips. Those soft, pink, supple lips.
"Not in your face, but in your mind." Her small white teeth slipped out from behind her lips as her smile broadened.
"Ye soo, don't be messin' with my mind, little one." He looked away to the others. Kaylee had taken up the responsibility of teaching Jayne the waltz, and failing miserably at it as the others watched on and laughed. "It's not a place fer ya to be."
"But yet, I'm there anyway. Whether I'm reading it or not." River whispered into his ear.
Wu de tyen ah: Dear God in heaven.
Bi zuie: Shut up
Jien tah-duh gway: Like hell!
Juh jen sh guh kwai luh duh jean jan: This really is a happy day.
Dong Ma?: Do you understand.
Ye soo: Jesus