-He smiled so handsomely at her. Like a blanket. Warm, soft, and she was wrapped up in it.
Then he put an arm across her shoulders, pride and relief surging through him.
Next he told her what a great job she did losing the angry contacts tailing them.
Her heart raced in anticipation. It seemed like the 'verse was in slow motion. That was fine with her. Just as long as the moment never ended.
His lips landed on the top of her head and then he flashed another smile on his way out.-
"But you know that already," River sighed. She tucked her legs beside her on the pilot's chair, directing her attention to the plastic toys the funny guy in the tacky shirts left behind.
"You saw it."
She suddenly became pensive, the contented grin slipping away from her face.
"Stegosaurs didn't. You missed it. You're the one that fell off the consol, but T-Rex told you about it."
She spun around allowing the grin to tug at the sides of her mouth once again. She knew that she was alone. No one near. Only the dinosaurs—and Wash's spirit—could hear her.
"Captain kissed me," she sang melodically. She stopped and glared at the triceratops.
"I know that it was only on the top of the head, but it was still a kiss."
It stared back at her mockingly.
"I don't care. He still kissed me. He was proud of his little albatross. His."
She shot it another dirty look.
"You're one to talk. You wouldn't understand. Plastic toys don't have hearts. Wash understands."
She set her chin on her knee and gazed at the stars.
"He understands plenty. Knows the first rule of flying. Me too. You understand," she told them all, matter-of-factly. "But you don't comprehend. You couldn't. Never will. Never can. Love keeps her flying. Keeps her actual and whole. Makes her a person."
She eyed them all once again, completely and utterly serious. This was no game. This was a conversation.
"Triceratops, the skeptic, mustn't watch him as closely as the others. His eyes say everything you need to know. He thinks I'm a person. Only one. Simon thinks I'm a ghost. A fragment of the little sister he knew. He'll never believe I'm okay because I'm not her. Captain didn't know her. He just knows me. He's the only one. Only one. Doesn't judge. Doesn't stick me with needles. Just cares in his own way. I care in my own way too. He doesn't see it. Not yet, but he will in time. I'll show him."
She fiddled with a few things to keep the ship on its course and then returned to her toy friends. Sometimes piloting got boring and lonely, so she got in the habit of talking to them or Wash, whoever wanted to listen.
"You'll all see…" she sighed.
-He'd walk in with a mischievous grin and shut the doors.
She'd ask him what he was doing and wouldn't have to be a reader to figure it out.
He'd walk over to her slowly, so slow it'd be agonizing.
Then he'd put a hand on her face, eyes locked, as he'd lean down.
His lips would lightly brush hers then-
"Who are you talkin' to?" Mal asked as he walked onto the bridge tiredly. He had just spent four hours helping Jayne and Kaylee replace a thruster on the mule.
She froze, quickly skimming his mind. He was too distracted to hear what she was saying. She breathed a sigh of relief.
"No one," she replied softly.
He looked at her carefully. "You okay? You seem a mite…uncomfortable."
He didn't believe her, but he didn't push it. "I was just wonderin' if we had a wave or somethin' since I heard you talkin'…or at least I thought so."
"Well then…the course?"
"Set and adjusted. We'll be on Salisbury tomorrow."
"Good. Don't stay up here too late."
He nodded to her and walked away. She smiled, all sorts of tingly inside.
"Captain kissed me today."