J is for Jealousy
Jealousy: resentment against a rival, a person enjoying an advantage or success, or against another's success or advantage itself.
"All right then, any questions?" asked Mal, clapping his hands together at the head of the table. The crew exchanged glances, some worried, others excited.
River smiled and moved closer to Simon. So many questions were flashing through their minds they sounded like an orchestra with all the musicians playing at once, each trying to be heard.
"Are you sure it's completely safe on a core planet?" asked Simon cautiously, picking the question he thought the most important.
"Well if you keep your head low and your nose clean you should be fine," said Mal calmly. Simon tensed, stuck on the 'should' part of the sentence. River glanced up at her brother.
"Anubis has one of the lowest crime rates on the core planets, behind only Osiris and Ariel. There were only three hundred reported instances of serious crimes for the whole planet last year. Brawls and fights are the lowest in this system, and the planet is remarkably well kept for a population of one hundred thousand nine hundred thirty-four.
There is a thirteen percent chance we will be caught by officials, and only a five percent chance we will be caught by someone who can actually keep us locked up. Simon, there will be real grass. And we can see the sky and eat ice cream in the park."
She pulled out the puppy dog eyes and gave him her most hopeful look. He stared at her, his resolve crumbling.
"The yes, I'm fine with going," he said, turning to address Mal.
Mal muttered something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like 'I don't care whether you want to go or not.' Simon ignored him and River frowned at him.
"Don't be mean," she lectured. Now Mal ignored her.
"How long will we be there?" asked Kaylee excitedly, glancing at Simon. Mal smiled at her indulgently.
"Three hours, give or take. This is just a fuel stop remember, but you lot should have enough time to take a walk or do a little shopping."
Jayne glanced sideways at River. "You know if there are any good bars around?" he asked her. River beamed at him and he scooted backwards slightly.
"There are five bars around the town of Terra," she told him. "Two are frequented by Alliance officials as they are located near their headquarters." Jayne nodded and looked away.
Zoe and Wash were making plans to go shopping at the other end of the table, and Book and Inara were discussing local tourist options within a short distance of the ship.
"Hey Simon," said Kaylee, leaning across the table to look get his attention. "How about we go get some lunch together? I hear there's this really good restaurant in town." Simon nodded and Kaylee smiled, her whole face lighting up. Like the sun, River thought miserably.
Simon hesitated and glanced at River. "Can River come too?" he asked Kaylee slowly. Kaylee's smile faltered slightly, just enough to be noticed.
Inara glanced between Kaylee and Simon, reading the situation in a glance.
"Book and I would be delighted to take River with us," she said smoothly, smiling at River. "She might enjoy the local architecture."
River felt tears well up in her eyes. "I thought we were going to the park," she said softly. Simon looked worried now, eyes flicking back and forth between Kaylee and River.
"I.." he said awkwardly. River felt anger and more than a little jealousy flare up inside of her. Simon loved her, but with Kaylee it was different. Kaylee was the sun, lighting up his world, and after so long among the shadows, Simon craved the light.
Kaylee was light and open and free. She didn't have any secrets that tore her apart, any programming that could cause her to destroy the ship before she regained her sanity. She wasn't broken or babbling or screaming and throwing things.
River was the moon in this case, a broken moon whose dark side showed more than its light. She was broken and babbling, darkness and shadows next to Kaylee's light.
Simon was her earth, her core, the one thing that she revolved around, always knowing he was there for her. And now he was choosing his own path, choosing to circle the sun.
"You follow the sun but it blinds you," she babbled, the words falling out of her mouth, and she was unable to stop them. "Don't want the broken girl anymore, want to snap your shackles and be free. You'll leave me behind, Prometheus on a rock to be torn apart by vultures."
Simon stared at her in horror. "River, I'm not going to abandon you," he gasped, oblivious to the fact that everyone had gone quiet and was staring at them. "I was just going to have dinner with Kaylee. I can stay with you if you want." Across the table, Mal winced.
"What?" asked Kaylee, both angry and hurt. "Simon, you keep promising to go with me, and now you're blowing me off? If you don't want to go with me then just tell me!" She was glaring at Simon, angry tears in her eyes.
"Kaylee, I want to go with you but River…" Simon trailed off helplessly. River swallowed a sob.
"You like her because she's the sun, but she's using you," she spat, unable to stop the rush of emotions running through her. Kaylee's anger and jealousy and hurt broke down her walls, and the other's rushed in, spiking higher and higher. "Just wants you because you're new, different."
Kaylee let out a gasp, hurt and anger flaring through her and throwing more kerosene on River's inner fire.
"Now that ain't so!" Kaylee glared at a horrified Simon. "I make excuses for you all the time, but I want to spend time with you, not just you and your sister."
"Package deal," sobbed River. "But the sun blocks out the moon, and I'm thrown in a corner to be covered with dust. Stupid broken porcelain doll!"
Kaylee opened her mouth, presumably to say something else, but Mal interrupted.
"Whoa now! Break it up here. River, just cause you're upset is no cause for being rude. And you Kaylee, snapping right back at her. Both of you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Now, how about you just ask the doc instead of fighting over him!" He gestured grandly to Simon, who winced as two sights of eyes, one pair flashing indignantly and the other filled with tears, turned towards him.
"Meep," was the only sound he could produce.
"I just wanted to play in the park," said River sadly. "Wanted to run and dance and eat ice cream." Simon reached for her but she pulled away. "Plants wither without sun, need light to grow." She stared up at him sadly. "I'll go away and leave you alone now. Little moon can't fight with an eclipse."
She jumped out of her seat and ran out of the room, ignoring the calls of her brother behind her. She could feel the emotions in her swirling, fighting their way out of her as they each clawed their way to the top of the pile.
She found herself outside of one of Serenity's many hiding places and crawled inside, curling into a ball. Tears streamed down her cheeks and she cried until, spent, she fell asleep.
Someone grabbed her shoulder suddenly and she jumped, her hands already grabbing and twisting before she realized what she was doing and released the hand in horror.
"Did you have to try and break my wrist albatross?" asked Mal from his position outside the hole, holding his injured wrist with his other hand. It was darker now, the lights dimming as the ship changed to the evening cycle.
"Sorry," she said softly, trying to blend into the wall of her corner. All she ever did was hurt people, first Simon, then Kaylee, and now Mal.
"We'll be landing tomorrow," he told her. "And Simon's going to take Kaylee out to eat." River winced, and Mal gave her a sympathetic look.
"I know you wanted to go to the park, so I was wondering if maybe you wanted to go with me? I may not be much fun, but at least your brother can't complain. 'Sides, if you're good I might get you some ice cream, let you have another crack at that ice planet." He winked at her, giving her a small smile.
River threw her arms around him and felt him stiffen before he awkwardly returned her hug.
"I'll take that as a yes then," he said. River nodded; she was smiling too much to answer.
A/N: This story is dedicated to my twin sister, who gave me the prompt, the plot, and told me what she wanted to happen. Love you buddy!