TITLE: River's Revenge
DISCLAIMER: Not mine
A/N: Just for funsies kids – Duchess of Strumpetness suggested a title while we were talking about Capper shorts…don't ask. Anyway, here's the result.
"Aww, come on baby-girl, don't be that way."
"Only way available."
"But ya know I didn't mean it."
"…I mean…ya know I didn't mean ta ferget."
"Regardless, effect is still the same."
"Come on…please don't make me do this."
"He is sorry, yes?
"Yeah, of course he's ruttin' sorry!"
"And he wishes to make amends?"
"Course I wanna make it up ta ya!"
"And he acquiesces that it is her prerogative how such reparations are made?"
"…yer gonna have ta try that one again baby-girl."
"He agrees that it is her choice how he makes it up to her?"
"Well, yeah, but-"
"No buts! She has named her terms. Should he wish continued access to her bedchambers he will accede without complaint!"
"Come on, there's gotta be some other way."
"So this is all because you forgot-"
"Ain't my fault doc, she usually reminds me o' these things. Can't do that when I'm…ya know."
"So she's made us-"
"And we're going out wearing-"
"And she wants you to say-"
"In front of-"
"If yer the one what's done her wrong, why're we bein' dragged inta this?"
"Cuz the Doc was awake and shoulda stopped me, an' it's yer fault I was up late drinkin'."
"Well how the hell was I 'spposed ta-"
"Don't matter. Iffen I'm stuck with this, so are you."
"Ya realize ya work fer me?"
"Sure do. Ya realize my wife is a Reader who can kick my ass an' yers three ways ta Sunday without breakin' a sweat?"
"Jayne…I hardly think."
"Don't argue Doc, ya heard the man. Don't care iffen she's yer sister, looks like we're stuck with this."
At the sound of bickering voices entering the cargo bay Zoe looked up from where she and Kaylee were working on the mule. For a second she physically couldn't move without risking serious injury to her abdominal muscles. She stood frozen in place, unhearing as Kaylee requested the wrench. The mechanic slipped out from under the mule, looking curiously at Zoe before turning.
Zoe couldn't do anything more than nod as Inara moved slowly beside the two other women, unable to formulate any semblance of coherent vocalization in the wake of the sight before her. Riley Washburne was clutched in her arms, blinking curiously as the ex-Companion set him down gently to walk to his mother's side. River was perched daintily on the catwalk above, smiling smugly at the sight of the three men below.
They'd seen the bonnet before, but Mal's pink tank top and skirt were…new. And worked strangely well with the boots he'd been allowed to keep wearing. Simon looked mighty strange in the oversized floral dress and large straw hat with…with a flower pinned to the top. And finally there was Jayne.
It took a very special kind of man to look even remotely intimidating in a kimono that short.
Jayne was not one of them.
Something about the sight of thick muscle and giant frame confined in that…frankly rather slutty outfit was a little too disconcerting.
Mal looked about ready to pop with fury, and Simon couldn't seem to stop the embarrassed tugging of his ear, as if he could somehow pull at it hard enough to hide the absurd getup they'd been ordered to wear. Mal glared; on any other gorram boat in the 'verse being Captain meant respect from your crew.
On this one it meant taking orders from lil crazy girls.
River beamed down at them as Jayne scowled up at the catwalk.
He took a deep breath. "I am deeply sorry fer m'actions. Next time my pregnant wife wants soup in the middle o' the gorram night I will not fall asleep at the table an' let the soup burn."
His wife narrowed her eyes.
Jayne sighed. "Fer the third night this week. I will be better at executin' my duties since she's the one stuck carryin' my lil one, an' I should be grateful fer her patience with my sorry ass."
River tapped her fingers.
"An' since I stuck a lil one in her belly an' she can't wear them purdy dresses she likes I am…aww come on girl! Ain't I done enough!"
Kaylee cracked first, bursting into gut wrenching, painful laughter at the sight before her. She immediately triggered Inara, who doubled over ungracefully as she echoed the mechanics giggling. Finally even Zoe could hold it no longer, erupting into a bark of surprised laughter that rang through the galley way.
Mal was stewing silently and Simon was redder than a beetroot as the girl's seemed nearly choked on their own amusement. If he was being a rational man Mal would have said he liked seeing Zoe laugh so freely, liked seeing Inara loose her composure a little. Hell, even lil Kaylee's giggles were enough to warm the darkest of hearts.
He looked up at the she-witch smiling down from the catwalk and suddenly wondered if maybe this little expedition was just as penance for Jayne's poor behaviour. He hadn't seen his female crew look this free and relaxed and happy in a very long time, and the sound of their mirth was like sweet music.
River stood and floated down the galley stairs, circling the three men with a keen eye as her fellow female crewmates collapsed in a pile of hysterical laughter. Kaylee had slid to the floor, Inara following afterwards, and even Zoe's knees had given way, reducing them to a chuckling, giggling pile of merriment.
River patted Jayne's shoulder solemnly. "Reparations made, all is forgiven. Will not be required to attend the meeting with Badger in such attire."
Jayne glared straight ahead as his heavily pregnant wife looked at him with sparkling eyes, running one hand over Riley's head as he moved to his Auntie's side, inspecting his uncles suspiciously.
He looked up. "Auntie Wiver, how come's they's dressed like ladies?"
River smiled down at him. "Because they are being punished."
Riley Washburne made up his young mind then and there to never, ever get married.
Or at the very least, to never piss off his Auntie River.