What Begins with an Apple, Part 10b

Simon and River trade horses in mid-stream. Saffron damages Jayne's calm.

A/N: "馬 mǎ" is the Chinese word for "horse." Chinese and other non-English expressions are translated in the glossary at the end. I'd put in mouse-over translations, but unfortunately, fanfictiondotnet does not allow it. You'll have to scroll down to the glossary, then you can laugh at the jokes.


Meanwhile, Simon was still puzzling out what River meant by all her references to the Trojan War. "What begins with an apple," he repeated, "must end with a horse. River, do you mean the Trojan Horse?"

She rolled her eyes.

"Oh. Of course, silly me," Simon responded, sarcastically. "Why didn't I think of it myself? That phrase applies so obviously to our current situation." River gave him that You Boob look. He absolutely detested being on the receiving end of that look, not the least because she was usually right, he was missing something obvious. "I'm not stupid, River. I know you made that pronouncement over the bowl of apples in the dining room. But so far I haven't seen anything resembling a horse, Trojan or otherwise, on this ship."

"木馬 Mùmǎ," River said.

"Does it elucidate the meaning if one speaks in proper Chinese?" Simon inquired, switching effortlessly to the polite and stylized Chinese frequently used in Osiris high society.

"Perhaps it may, 哥哥 gēge," River responded in the same language.

"I can think of several references to horses in classical Chinese," Simon remarked. "馬面 Mǎ Miàn, the guardian of the Underworld, for instance. Or 兵馬俑 Bīngmǎyǒng, the statuettes of warriors and horses buried with Qin Shi Huang, the first Chin emperor."

"千軍萬馬 Qiānjūnwànmǎ."

"Ye-es," Simon responded, still uncertain of where this conversation was headed.

"分道揚鑣 Fēndàoyángbiāo."

"Part ways, River?" Simon questioned, confused. Then he saw what she was driving at, and racked his brains for other expressions involving horses. "I see. We might as well 死馬當活馬醫 sǐmǎdānghuómǎyī."

"做牛做馬 Zuòniúzuòmǎ," River responded, her eyes dancing with delight now that she knew that Simon understood the game and would play along.

"千里馬 Qiānlǐmǎ," he offered.

"黑馬 Hēimǎ."

"鞍馬 Ānmǎ."

"跳馬 Tiàomǎ."

"作馬 Zuòmǎ."

"跑馬 Pǎomǎ."

Simon gave River a sharp look, saw that she was perfectly aware of the alternative meaning of what she was saying, and retorted, "心猿意馬 Xīnyuányìmǎ."

"馬屁 Mǎpì," River fired back.

"Hey, let's be civil here," Simon responded with a grin. "And let's not forget some of the obvious ones, River. Like 特洛伊木馬 Tèluòyī Mùmǎ—the Trojan Horse, of course."

"A horse is a horse, of course, of course," River sang, "And no one can talk to a horse of course…"

"Or 木馬病毒 mùmǎbìngdú," Simon interrupted, "a Trojan horse virus."

"中箭落馬 Zhòngjiànluòmǎ."

"That's for sure. I wouldn't want to think of the damage that could cause."

River paused. She'd only been trading another horse-related phrase, but Simon had interpreted it as if she were commenting on his last. That was it. Key to the lock. Solution to the puzzle. "Gotta see a man about a horse." Go to the Captain, and explain….She reached for the correct mode of expression, tried to grasp it. The words…the words wouldn't come. She needed to communicate, but allegory was the only avenue for outlet. What begins with an apple must end with a horse. "Trying to figure out how to move forward without sacrificing Iphigenia."

Simon didn't say it, but his whole face expressed his confusion at her abrupt change of topic. He looked at River, and saw that the sparkle that had lit her eyes as she traded horses with him was now replaced by a cloudy look. She was considerably less lucid than she had been just a moment before.

"What begins with an apple must end with a horse," River repeated, with an exhausted look.

"Yes, 妹妹 mèimei," Simon agreed, and wrapping an arm around her shoulders, he guided his sister into her room, and saw her settled comfortably in her bed.

. . .

Mal had warned him not to talk with Saffron. Jayne didn't intend to do no talkin'. All he had to do was stand there lookin' menacing, and the woman 'd toe the line. Jayne had his menacing look down cold—it was his stock-in-trade, how he got his job in the first place. He posted himself outside the door, ready for whatever trick the Cap'n's blushing psychotic would-be bride tried to pull next.

A couple hours later, he was still waitin'. Woman hadn't made a peep. He didn't exactly consider the silence to be a good sign, so he determined to open the door and check up on what sorta 狗屎 gǒushǐ she was up to.

"I'm comin' in," he announced, rapping on the door. A thought struck him. "You decent in there?"

"Sure am, sugar plum," a sexy voice answered.

"Ain't talkin' with you," he informed her, as he unlocked the door. "Time for you to visit the head." He pulled open the door, to find Saffron lying sprawled on top of the bed…naked.

"No need for talkin', big guy," she said, rolling towards him and allowing her legs to part langorously. "I'm ready."

Jayne didn't doubt it.

"You're very…big," she said, directing her sultry gaze at his midsection. Men were natural 鳥人 niǎorén, and this one was no exception. He was already preening. "Is it true that every part of you is…big?"

"Ulp," gulped Jayne, as he unthinkingly slid the door shut behind him.

"Sshh," she said, "No talkin', like the Captain said. I'd rather learn the hard way, just how big 'big' is." Her hands were already on his belt buckle.

Jayne's voice was a deep bass growl. "I'm warnin' ya, I never kiss 'em on th—"

Saffron did not reply. Her mouth was already busy.

. . .

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glossary

木馬 Mùmǎ [Wooden horse, or Trojan horse]

哥哥 gēge [elder brother]

馬面 Mǎ Miàn [Horse-Face]

兵馬俑 Bīngmǎyǒng [the Terracotta army, the statuettes of warriors and horses buried with Qin Shi Huang, the first Chin emperor.]

千軍萬馬 Qiānjūnwànmǎ [A magnificent army with thousands of men and horses (idiom meaning "an impressive display of manpower" or "all the King's horses and all the King's men")]

分道揚鑣 Fēndàoyángbiāo [lit. to take different roads and urge the horses on, (idiom meaning "to part ways")]

死馬當活馬醫 sǐmǎdānghuómǎyī [give medicine to a dead horse (idiom meaning "to keep trying everything in a desperate situation")]

做牛做馬 Zuòniúzuòmǎ [work like an ox or a horse (work extremely hard)]

千里馬 Qiānlǐmǎ [a ten thousand mile horse (a fine steed)]

黑馬 Hēimǎ [Dark horse]

鞍馬 Ānmǎ [Pommel horse]

跳馬 Tiàomǎ [Vaulting horse]

作馬 Zuòmǎ [Sawhorse]

跑馬 Pǎomǎ [Horse race or riding a horse at a fast pace (also means "a wet dream")]

心猿意馬 Xīnyuányìmǎ [Heart like a frisky monkey, mind like a cantering horse (an idiom meaning "hyperactive, uncontrollable")]

馬屁 Mǎpì [Horse's ass]

特洛伊木馬 Tèluòyī Mùmǎ [the Trojan Horse]

木馬病毒 mùmǎbìngdú [Trojan horse computer virus]

中箭落馬 Zhòngjiànluòmǎ [to be struck by an arrow an fall from one's horse (idiom for "a serious setback")]

妹妹 mèimei [younger sister]

狗屎 gǒushǐ [crap]

鳥人 niǎorén [pricks (lit., "bird people"]


If you enjoyed this chapter send me a whinny. Or a review. Even if you're a neigh-sayer. (For those rolling their eyes and groaning: next chapter is nearly 100% pun-free.)