"Ain't that just the shiniest shade of blue you've ever seen?" Kaylee asked Simon as they walked down the ramp onto the small planet.

"It is," he agreed while gazing up at the vibrant light blue of the summer sky.

River swished by him off towards a lake and some hills.

"Mei mei," Simon called. She ignored him and kept going. "I should go after-"

"No sense in that Doc. There's work to be done. Go get some of them parts with Kaylee. I'll follow your sister 'round," Mal said as he joined them on the ramp.


"Stop arguin' somethin' that's already decided."

"Don't you have a business deal?" Simon inquired.

"I do, but I'm not exactly on their good side. Zoe is the one that's gonna be doin' most of the talkin'. Might as well avoid it all together."

"Cap'in shot one of 'em last time," Kaylee giggled.

"Hey it was a graze and I thought that he was someone else!"

"Didn't stop him from hittin' you with a hammer…four times…"

"Is that when you came back with a concussion and a broken wrist?" Simon asked.

"My point is it's best if I stay away on this one. Jayne 'n Zoe can handle it. I'll go follow 'round your sister."

"Thank you, but-"

"Kaylee, take your boyfriend away and make him stop worryin'."

"Don't think it's possible, Cap'in."

Kaylee grabbed Simon's hand and tugged him towards the town without allowing him to say another word. Mal shook his head. The doc could be so difficult.

"Zo, job's yours!" he called behind him as he followed the path of his youngest crew member.


"It's for the best."

She nodded and he continued on his way. At first he was a bit concerned. He didn't see River anywhere. Then he spotted a fragile figure just beyond the lake and going down a large hill. He broke out into a jog to follow before he lost track of her. The last thing he needed was the doc's wrath accompanied by his surprisingly good right hook.

"Hey there little one," he said as he approached. She didn't reply. She merely bent down gracefully at the waist to pick a small blue flower.

"Campanula…" she said quietly before turning around (more like twirling on her bare heel) to face him with a small smile. "Bellflower."

"Bellflower you say?" he asked. She nodded and held it out to him. He smiled at her and accepted it without a word.

"Babysitting me?" she inquired while twirling about again, the summer wind catching her thin pink dress.

"No. Just followin' you is all."


"You sound skeptical."

"Because you are babysitting me. I'm not a child, Captain."

"I know that, darlin'. I wouldn't let a kid fly my boat."

"But you call me 'little'."

"Not 'cause you're a child. 'Cause you're petite."

She raised her eyebrows, folding her arms across her chest like he would sometimes do. "So you're calling me short?"

"…no. You're shorter than me, but you're not…short. You're just…small built."

"So you're saying that I have a nice figure?"

"Yes, no, yes…I mean…I'm not noticin' or…can we talk 'bout somethin' else?" he stuttered, desperately trying to backpedal.

She laughed and started walking again. He was relieved that she dropped it. The last thing he needed was his young pilot, or her doc brother, thinking that he had a thing for her even if it was true. Not that it was…

He watched her walk, glide, float, dance, however River Tam moved, down towards an open field full of more bellflowers. She gracefully plopped down and spread out in the grass. Only she could "plop" gracefully. He stood awkwardly beside her, unsure of how to proceed.

"You can sit and stay or you can go on the job resulting in an inevitable injury…" she stated as she patted the grass beside her.

"Looks like you're gonna have to put up with me then. Don't much want to get shot at today," he sighed, sitting down beside her.

"Clouds are just a collection of enough water vapor crystals to become visible, but sometimes they resemble objects…they don't mean what you think…" she said quietly while plucking another flower from the earth. She tucked it neatly behind her ear and looked up at the sky with a distant look in her eyes.

She pointed up without looking at him. "That one looks like a face."

He looked up at one of the many big, white puffball clouds and sure enough he saw it too. "I s'ppose it does."

Her eyes were fixed on the peaceful clouds. She'd occasionally point to one with a description so he'd look up, but mostly they sat in silence. She was a sight to behold sprawled out in the bright green grass. Hair all splayed about, white flower sitting perfectly in the middle of it all, gentle petals resting on her cheek, one arm tossed above her head, her other hand's fingertips wandering through the long blades of grass.

"Staring," she smirked with her eyes still fixed upwards.

"I'm not starin'."

"And I'm not crazy…" she giggled.

"You're not."

"Right. Simon's also loose and great fun at parties."

"I'm sensin' some sarcasm. Where in the 'verse would you have learned such a thing?"

She looked at him with a sly smile.


"Yes you."

"Best make sure you don't learn too much from me, sweetheart. I think the crew's already havin' 'nough trouble with just one of me."

"There'd be mutiny if there were two of you."

He laughed. "I conjure there would be."

She went back to looking up. He saw her smile and pluck another flower.

"Staring again," she said melodically as she tossed the flower at him.

"I'm not starin'! And it ain't polite to throw things at people, 'specially your captain!"

"I'm sorry-"

He threw the flower back at her. She picked it up and looked at him curiously.

"Serves you right," he said with a ghost of a grin written on his lips.

"I thought that it wasn't polite to throw things at people."

"It ain't, but I never said that I was polite."


He broke out into a grin. She smiled back and then got that reader look on her face.

"Tell Simon to get back to the ship," she said evenly with no hint of danger or fear in her voice.


"Your contacts mistook Jayne for you. He's bleeding. It's not serious."

Mal took the comm. out of his pocket, glad that he stayed away from the job.

"Could have worn a vest. Didn't keep you from Patience," River commented.

"Yeah well. I just wasn't in the mood to deal with them today."

She stood up and walked by him, dress brushing his face and fingertips trailing across his shoulders. He pushed the pleasant shiver he felt as a result out of his mind. "You'd rather babysit me."

"I told I wasn't-"

"Jayne is bleeding, Captain."

He grunted and contacted Simon before he stood up and followed her back towards the ship.

"It's pretty here," she smiled.

"Sure is little-" he stopped when she turned around and looked at him. He didn't want to get back into the whole "little" thing, so he just cleared his throat and tried again. "Sure is, albatross."

She smirked. She liked making him nervous sometimes. As Kaylee would say, he was such an easy mark.

Jayne was hopping along with help from Zoe swearing and complaining when Mal and River got to the ship. They arrived at around the same time.

"Gorramit Mal! Look what happened 'cause of you!" Jayne hissed as he pointed to the bullet wound in his leg.

"That's why I didn't go. Vests don't protect legs," he punctuated the last bit, casting a glance over at River. She rolled her eyes. "The doc's on the way, so just wait it out in the infirmary."

Jayne cursed and bitched some more as Zoe helped him walk towards the infirmary. The cargo was loaded up in the mule, so apparently the job went down alright other than Jayne's injury.

"When Simon arrives we'll take off towards Greenleaf," River declared.

"I never said where-"

"Thought it," she said mischievously, tapping her temple.

He almost wanted to change where they were going because she knew everything, but that's where they had to go. "Set the course."

"When do you want to be there?"

"As soon as possible without burnin' all our fuel."

"Not a problem, Captain."

She floated off towards the bridge, barefoot, humming, and with that flower still in her hair. He smiled to himself and started off towards the kitchen, turning the bellflower she gave him over in his hands. For some reason, he still had it.

For a second, he hovered by the trash can prepared to toss it. He stopped and then walked over to the sink where he filled a mug up with water. He put the flower in it and walked away shaking his head.

"Gorram girl with her gorram little figure givin' me gorram flowers…" he muttered under his breath.

The end

I hope you enjoyed it! Based on the song "I never saw blue like that" by Shawn Colvin.