Home Cooking - REPOST
Saturday, November 10, 2007

River's been in the kitchen, to Mal's horror.


Inspired by the thread about Zoe's cooking. Just for laughs. Joss owns everything. Joss, I'm sorry...

Malcolm Reynolds had seen devastation before. He had walked across battlefields. He had seen towns after a Reaver attack. He had seen Jayne's bunk after the big man had eaten an entire platter of bad shellfish on New Melbourne. None of it had prepared him for the site in front of him.

Scant minutes before, he had been working outside. With most of the crew down with the flu, he had figured it wise to stay on this little moon a few extra days until Wash and Kaylee at least could stand on their own. In the meanwhile, he and Jayne (the only healthy crew member besides River) were taking the time to cross a few items off Kaylee's fix-before-it-drops-off list. Mal finished repairing the landing strut, then headed inside to cook dinner for his crew. "Cook" was probably a slight exaggeration, but Mal patted himself on the back for stocking an extra case of canned soup last time they had hit a Skyplex.

The ship was unusually quiet, no doubt from the analgesics Simon had dispensed with breakfast. Mal whistled as he made his way up the catwalks. He stopped whistling, as well as walking, and gorram near breathing, when he stepped into the galley.

River crouched motionless on the dining table, looking like a wide-eyed, wild-haired, seventeen-year old gargoyle. Next to her was a piece of what looked suspiciously like one of Serenity's wall panels. Mal noted the multi-colored stains on River's dress, as well as the soot on her face. Her hair was messed to the point where it sprang up like a thicket. He started to say something, but stopped when he realized that, yes, that was actually smoke coming off the ends of her hair.

Part of Mal's brain started screaming at him to just turn around and leave the ship. Mal followed River's unblinking gaze to the galley, and the part of his brain stated smugly, "I told you so." He barely recognized his own galley. Every last door and cabinet had been opened and the contents rearranged. Protein in all the colors of the rainbow decorated every surface. The floor was covered in a layer of flour that highlighted a riot of small, bare footprints.

Mal stepped closer to get a better idea of the damage. The contents of the cabinets had apparently been rearranged alphabetically from right to left. Their old iron wok rested on a shelf River had improvised by jamming all their knives into the wall. The stove burners were covered by some sort of thick goo. The second-hand toaster that had been one of Wash and Zoe's wedding gifts sat upended in the sink, draining something that looked like melted marshmallow. Mal traced a pattern of stains to Kaylee's prized blender, now missing its lid. Something dropped onto Mal's shoulder from above. Fearing the worst, Mal looked up. Red and green glop covered the ceiling. The blender's lid was on the ceiling as well, stuck to there by some process Mal really didn't want to know about. Serenity's captain made a sound that, coming from anyone less rugged and manly, would have sounded suspiciously like a whimper.

Mal took a deep breath and counted to ten. He did it again in Mandarin, then Spanish. He turned slowly back to River and said very carefully, "River? Were you doing something in here?"

River had not moved a muscle or so much as blinked since Mal had walked in. She nodded slowly.

"River, is there a reason of any sort why you're not talking or moving?"

"Attempting to prevent further contamination of the workspace until help arrived, by applying relativistic theory. A watched pot never boils and I really really didn't want it to boil any more."

She pointed over Mal's shoulder. Mal shuddered, but turned to look. Their largest pot sat covered in the middle of the galley, its metal almost hidden beneath overflow stains, resting on a wire frame that Mal could not remember ever seeing anywhere before. Underneath was a baking pan on which danced a blue flame, heating the pot. Mal turned back.

"What's making the fire?"

"Rubbing alcohol. I took it from the infirmary when the burners were extinguished"

"Those are electric burners! What the gorram hell were..." Mal shouted, but stopped when River started to cower. Mal realized he had run out of languages he could count to ten in, and tried a different tactic. "River," he said in his best "Captain Reasonable" voice, "were you trying to cook dinner for the crew?"

A small nod, "Yes"

"What were you trying to cook?"

"Protein approximating Gallus gallus with geometrically sculpted tubers, stems and hulled grains, suspended in a liquid combination of water and fats. And some fungi. Martha had the instructions"

"Martha? Who's Martha, and what did Martha tell you to do now?"

"Ask her!" River shouted in a pitiful voice.

Mal heard the pot lid start to tremble. "Oh, this can't be a good thing" he thought. His heart started to pound at the notion of encountering River Tam's idea of cooking. He quickly scanned for an oven mitt (next to Meat Flavored Sauce #6) and a wooden spoon (next to the spatula and the case of soup). He ducked down, reached up, and snatched the lid off the pot. To his and River's surprise, nothing exploded. Mal stood up cautiously and peered inside. He was greeted with a rather good smell and what looked for all the 'verse like a pot of home-made chicken soup.

Mal grinned and turned back to River. "Well now, River, that smells like something akin to real food. Now, you know you should've asked someone to help, but I think this time we can..."

At that moment, a loud banging sound emanated from the small oven, "Bwaa!" Mal shouted as he jumped back, bringing the pot lid up like a shield. River grabbed the section of Serenity's wall and hid behind it.

"River?" Mal said slowly, "Did you put something in the oven?"

"" River said in a small voice.

"No, seriously. What is that in the oven?"

"Soda biscuits," came the answer from behind the shield, "Should be done in five minutes"

Another, louder bang sounded. Malcolm Reynolds exercised the leadership skills for which he had such a large reputation. He pulled out his comm and called out, "Jayne, come in here and help get the table ready for dinner." A heartbeat later, he added "Quickly."

writer's note: and to the hackers who messed with us: Gu di yu, hun dan!


Sunday, November 11, 2007 3:52 AM


I think I missed this the first time around - it really is a gem! Loved how Mal ran out of languages to count to ten in - and how he struggled not to see River cower. Lovely little snippet of life on Serenity.

Sunday, November 11, 2007 6:16 AM


That was hysterical.

I missed it the first time also.

Sunday, November 11, 2007 2:12 PM


I read it before and I still love it.

Saturday, January 19, 2008 6:20 AM


I've read this before, and it's still seriosly funny

Sunday, February 3, 2008 5:23 PM


That. Was. Perfect.

Sunday, September 14, 2008 9:41 AM


Excellent comedic inspiration! I read it and loved it! I can imagine River behind the panel shield when asked if something's in the oven, "" :))

Sunday, July 19, 2009 7:40 PM


BRILLIANT! I loved it


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