Water under the bridge

Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy or Firefly.

The first time they met was rather memorable…

"You!" River accused loudly.

The one eyed man blinked before looking at her questioningly. "Me?"

"You!" she confirmed harshly.

The crew of Serenity began slowly moving into position and readying weapons in case River had stumbled upon a Core Agent, while the crowds around them ignored them.

"Me?" he snorted as if it was the funniest thing he'd ever heard.

"You!" she argued her tone pleading.

"Me?" he remarked teasingly, causing her to turn red.

"You?" she asked nervously.

"Me?" he asked back, with an obviously faked air.

The crew exchanged confused looks as they wondered what was going on.

"You," she stated firmly as if coming to a decision.

"Me," he admitted with an infectious grin.

Simon was about to step forward when a red haired woman burst from the crowd, dragging the one eyed man off by his ear.

"What was that about?" Simon asked River, obvious confusion written across his features.

River shrugged then smiled happily.

The second time they ran into him was just as bad…

"Quick I need my hair in pigtails," River demanded frantically from Kaylee.

"What now?" Kaylee asked even as she began brushing out River's hair.

"Yeah, it's important. I can't go out there without pullers," she stated firmly.

"Pullers?" Kaylee muttered, wondering why River called them that.

"Quick Wills, I need a frog," the formerly one eyed man said anxiously, drawing Simon's attention to the pair as he waited for Kaylee and his sister to show.

The redhead shuddered, before reaching into her purse to pull out a small green frog which she quickly handed to him. "You'd better have a good reason mister, you know I hate frogs!"

"I have the best," he promised with a smile. "But I've got to hide now."

"Why?" the woman asked, sighing as she noticed he'd vanished.

Simon was about to introduce himself and ask about the man she'd been talking to, when Kaylee and River came down the ramp.

Kaylee was in a simple sundress that took his breath away as usual, as well as scrambling his wits.

He noticed River had her hair in pigtails but then Kaylee smiled at him and he forgot what he was going to say.

Kaylee got a confused expression on her face and it took Simon a second to realize she was looking past him.

He turned and saw the strange man sneaking up behind River with a smile on his face. The man reached out to pull on one of her pigtails and Simon took a deep breath to yell out a warning when River suddenly spun around, yelling "Ha!"

Simon was shocked when the man showed no surprise whatsoever, and instead held out the hand he'd been about to pull the pigtail with, palm flat, showing River something small and green which leaped into her shirt.

"Ha!" the man yelled as River began scrambling frantically to get the frog out of her shirt.

He stood there happily waiting, until River successfully retrieved the errant frog from her clothing and then he started running, laughing all the while, as River chased him, frog in hand.

They circled the ship at least three times before heading off over the hilltop behind the ship.

The sounds of splashing and delighted laughter drifted over the hill.

"What was that about?" Simon asked the red haired woman incredulously.

"No idea," she shrugged.

"Then why did you have a frog in your purse?" he asked, confused.

Kaylee joined the two. "You keep frogs in your purse?"

"Eww, no!" the woman responded. "I don't keep anything in my purse. I just carry the purse because it's convenient to pull things out of." She opened the empty purse wide, showing the two the truth of the matter.

"How about pulling out some strawberries then?" Kaylee asked jokingly.

The redhaired woman reached into her empty purse, pulling forth a small green basket of fresh strawberries; handing them to Kaylee who stared at them stunned.

"That has to be the best sleight of hand I've ever seen," Simon admitted.

Willow rolled her eyes. "Yeah, because I happen to keep fresh strawberries and frogs on me at all times in case anyone asks for them."

Simon frowned, obviously wondering what was going on the fact that she did have strawberries was worrisome, it meant she had to know them well enough to set up the trick, but River didn't act as if it were a trap and she was more than close enough to read them and seemed to like the man with the redhead.

Simon was about to question her when Inara and the Captain came down the ramp.

"Ooh, where'd you get the strawberries?" Inara asked excitedly.

"Her," Kaylee said before quickly returning to devouring her strawberries.

"Yep, me, Willow," Willow answered, rolling her eyes. "I'm a one woman fruit salad, you name the fruit and I pull it from my purse."

"I miss pineapples," the Captain interjected suddenly. "They could only grow them in a few places, then some sort of beetle came by…and poof they were no more."

"Awww," Willow commiserated with him. "That's too bad, have one on me then." She handed the Captain a pineapple from a purse the fruit couldn't possibly have fit in.

The Captain cradled the fruit like a newborn. "How?" he asked incredulously.

Willow shrugged with a grin. "It's a gift."

"Cherries!" Inara challenged her.

Willow smirked, pulling forth a bag of cherries.

"Can I ask for something completely impossible in the way of fruit?" Simon asked intently.

Willow nodded, the fruit trick was so easy she could do it in her sleep and the looks of joy and shock on their faces was fueling an infectious grin.

"On Earth-that-was they had a tree that grew a fruit called a pomegranate. It was somehow overlooked when mankind left, so no one alive knows what it tastes like anymore. But I know how it looks from pictures and I've always wanted to try one."

Willow reached into her bag, pulling forth a bright red fruit, handing it to Simon, who fell unceremoniously on his ass, staring incredulously at the fruit in his hands.

"I am amazed, stunned, scared, and a little thirsty," Simon said.

"Scared?" Kaylee asked.

"Well yeah, either magic is real or I've gone insane."

"You aren't insane," Willow snorted then blinked as a dripping wet River ran past laughing and waving a pair of pants over her head like a banner, while a pantsless man chased after her. "Of course, considering who my friends are, I may not be the best judge."

The group winced back from the noise and blast of another ship landing nearby, as there was limited parking area for ships due to local law. The group was still brushing dust off themselves when the ship's landing elevator came down, depositing a woman with long brown hair on the ground.

"Thanks again, guys," she called into the body of the ship, before stepping off the platform and heading over to Willow. "Hey Willow, what'd I miss?"

Everyone flinched again, as the ship left as abruptly as it had arrived. It was another couple of minutes before anyone attempted to speak, as they concentrated on straightening up.

Dawn looked around worriedly. "Where's Xander? You didn't leave him with Faith did you? You know he can't take care of himself."

Dawn felt someone tap her on the shoulder and when she turned around, she was slapped in the face with a pair of wet pants and found a girl a bit older than herself glaring at her.

"Strange does not mean stupid!" she growled and stomped off angrily, followed by a grinning (and pantsless) Xander, who only shook his head sadly at Dawn on the way past.

"Ok, I might have deserved that," Dawn admitted.

"But we do have to watch over Xander now. Where before he watched over us, and I miss that." She then growled angrily, "and I don't think we're going to find what Xander was looking for. 'A pants stealing River with a patch of brown moss in the shape of a seahorse'."

Willow shrugged. "It was his turn to pick, and we have three more places to check out on this planet before we search the next one. Remember it's sometimes the journey that counts and not the destination, remember the Wizard of Oz?"

Dawn sighed. "I know, I know. It'll probably turn out this entire trip was just to teach me to read a map properly and Faith the correct way to apologize for accidently putting somebody's head through a table." She frowned. "Who is that girl and why does she have Xander's pants?"

"That would be my sister… River," Simon said worriedly.

"Pants stealing River?" Willow began with a grin.

"Patch of brown moss?" Simon said contemplatively, before turning pale as everyone heard from the cargo bay. "It's not a seahorse. It's Serenity, see?"

Simon ran up the ramp, his voice carrying as he said loudly, "River, please get dressed! And you, please put on some pants!"

"And sometimes, it is the destination," Willow said.