Garden Hoes & Cats

The sun pelts down and sweat drips down their backs. The walk to the markets from Serenity is further than any of them had thought, and River knows that Kaylee wishes they had left going til later in the day when it was less hot. River thinks that too.

Simon is more concerned about having enough cashy money with him to buy new meds than the heat. He keeps going over it in his head: what will he need and how much will each item cost, and will they have the items he requires? It's all for River; she knows that. He always is thinking of River.

Sometimes she wishes he would think more about Kaylee than her, and that he would try to make a life for himself rather than put all of his attention and effort into looking after her. He deserves a life, actual and whole, and apart from her.

They're coming up on the first section of the market when Simon sneezes. River smiles. That's another thing about looking after only her. Simon forgets to look after himself. She hopes he gets a cold so that he will learn that he needs to take care of himself too.

The dusty road comes to an end, dissolving into a gravel road. This path leads the way through the town. Each side of it is lined with buildings that are made predominantly from timber and look very worn out and old.

River grabs Simon by the arm and reaches for Kaylee too, and when she has a grip on them both, she pulls them toward the second building on their right. It's a flower store, judging by the outside. A few vases filled with flowers sit out on the tiny patio.

A bell tingles when they push through the door and enter. "Life in many colours," she says to no one in particular. She lets go of Kaylee and Simon's hands and hurries toward the back of the store. All the walls are lined with thin shelves, upon which vases containing a variety of flowers sit.

They are not the most beautiful flowers by far, but it has been far too long since any of them has been off the ship and anywhere near flowering plants. Even the mediocre flowers of the store look pretty. Their colours are many. They are not vivid or bright but they are real and fresh.

River takes a rose by the stem and holds it out to Kaylee. "For you," she says. She grins happily when Kaylee accepts the flower, and then skips to the opposite side of the store. There she finds a few gardening tools. She picks up a garden hoe and hands it to Simon. "For the cat."

Simon looks at her, puzzled. "We don't have a cat, River." He drags one hand through his silky brown hair, and she can see where the sweat has drenched it. Other than that and wet patches at his armpits, Simon looks like he just stepped out of a shower.

"Not ours," River supplies. "The cat that ate the beans." She nods. "Knock it over the head the next time it steals our food and the beans won't go missing again. Promise." She wet her lips with her tongue.

"Right. Thank you, River," Simon replies. He exchanges a look with Kaylee and River immediately knows that he's thinking about her again and now Kaylee is too. They don't think she's all there. She isn't, but the cat is real. It is not a figment of her imagination. Not this time.

River sees Simon replace the garden hoe when he thinks she isn't looking. He goes up to the counter and buys the rose for Kaylee. The man at the counter is nice and has greying hair. Simon then leads them outside.

"We need more food," River says quickly, trying to help. She sees Kaylee smile, and Simon nods absentmindedly and mutters his agreement. With that, they are off and on their way. River looks out for another garden hoe and when Simon isn't looking, she buys him one and puts it in his bag.