"If you were a bird, what kind would you be?" River asked as she gazed up at a blackbird flying through the sky.

Mal was working in the field beside her. He had learned to just go with it, whatever direction she pulled him in. "I conjure I'd be an eagle."


"Wrong? How can I be wrong?"

"I could see you as an eagle, but you can't be one."

"Why can't I?" he frowned.

"You'd be a seagull."

"A seagull? Why a seagull?"

"Because I'm an albatross. Eagles don't live near albatrosses. Seagulls do. Zoe is a raven, Kaylee is a sparrow, Jayne is an emu, Simon is a pelican, and you're a seagull. I'm not an albatross if you aren't a seagull. Do you think you're an eagle?"

"It makes sense to me…"

"Then I am too."

"But you're li'l albatross. You're sayin' I can't call you that now?"

"No. I'm an eagle."

He huffed. "You can't be an eagle."

"Why not? You are!"

"You're……an albatross."

"That doesn't make sense."

"Well I can't go callin' you 'little eagle' now can I? Eagles ain't little! They're big ugly things. Albatrosses are real pretty graceful…little…things. You're an albatross and I'm gonna keep callin' you that!"

"Only if you're a seagull."

"Fine! I'm a gorram seagull! Happy?"

She smiled victoriously. "Pretty graceful little things?"

He turned red. "The birds."

"I knew what you meant, Captain."

That's what he was afraid of.