Bed and Wine: Part 21
Saturday, April 1, 2006

The River Tam Story by River Tam. PG-13


Bed and Wine: Part 21 By Kaynara *** The River Tam Story by River Tam *** AN1: Little experiment. Will return to space reality for the next installment. ;) AN2: If you haven’t read The Pillow Book of Inara Serra by Phaedra...well, you should. The language is exquisite, and every paragraph breaks your heart. AN3: Thanks to Grimlock for the consult. *** I hit him. Crack. Sorry, Jayne. “Son of a--” One hand covers his eye. Two steps closer. “Kiss it better?” ’’Gorrammit, girl.” Looks over shoulder, eyes like a bug’s. Space bugs that bite in the night. Giggles. “This is just hi-larious, huh? You tryin’ to get me dead?” “No. Supposed to dodge it.” “I know that, girl. Don’t you think I know that?” “I’m better. Stronger now.” “Guess you are.” *** Panic. Baby’s hot, too hot. Sticky hot skin. I sit up. I scream and scream. Lights. Footsteps. “River?” “Oh, God. Don’t know what to do! Feed a fever, starve a cold. Or reverse it? Simon!” “Shh, I’m here. I’m here, River.” He strokes my hair. Feels nice. Safe. Lucky Kaylee. “Which one do you starve?” Simon looks confused. Smiles at last. “Generally starving your child is frowned upon....” I blink a few times. Now, I’m the confused one. Realize he’s teasing. “Scared,” I say softly. “Don’t be scared. I’m not going anywhere.” “Alone.” “You are *not* alone.” “Love you, Simon.” Surprise. Eyes, nose and mouth all relax. “I love you too, River.” “Stay till I fall asleep?” Lips curve. “Won’t try anything smutty.” Simon groans. “You do enjoy tormenting me more than anything else in this ‘verse.” “You’re easy.” Snuggle into his side, head on chest. Simon holds me. Safe. *** Try to make Kaylee see. “Dreams. Fire, and flesh. Got scared.” “Aw, honey.” Kaylee likes to touch, hug. Hugged Captain Daddy when he needed it and didn’t know it. Always giving hugs, sweet Kaylee. “Needed Simon. Sorry.” “Sweetie, if I only gotta share him with you, I think I can bear it.” “Nighttime’s when the grown ups play their games.” Kaylee laughs. Belly laugh, not polite or pretend. “Who told ya that, honey?” Don’t say Wash. Stares and faces always. “Secret,” I say instead. “Well, you’re a grown up too, River. All grown up and pretty as a painting of...of...things that are pretty.” “Stronger now.” Make a smile happen. “Some bruises fade.” “They all will, honey. You’ll see. And till then, you just borrow my man any time you want. Oh, hell, that sounded sorta weird.” “Kaylee?” “Hmm?” “Would you lie with me...if you had man parts and man desire?” “I--well, sure, sweetie. Sure I would.” “Cut my own hair.” I finger the bits. “Don’t matter none.” Shiny Kaylee smile. “Hell, beauty like you would look good bald.” “Would save time on the washing.” We grin together. Silly fun. *** “Wash, why do you love flying?” “Cuz it hurts less than crashing?” I try to look stern. “Serious.” “Fine, ruin my fun. I love the sky, sweetie. Not for the same reasons Mal does, mind you. Captain--well, he headed up here ‘cuz it was the only place left for ‘em. Way he came outta that war, there wasn’t a chance of him surviving in the worlds. For Mal, the sky’s space to breathe.” “And for you?” “A wild, unpredictable mistress, whose beauty’s only matched by her savagery. You can lose yourself in her, but she might just swallow you whole. Holy handsome goslings, though, what a way to go.” Sad smiles all around. “Miss you, Wash.” “I miss you too, sweetie.” “Whisper in Raven’s ear. Sometimes she sees you.” “Poor kid. In twenty years she’ll be in therapy. ‘Help me, Doctor. I dream of large blond men in flowery shirts.’” Evil smirk. “Hope Mal gets the bill.” “Little Chick knows her daddy. I tell her over and over.” “Aw, River, let’s talk about something else. Quick, somebody make a joke.” *** I know a funny joke but who would laugh? She sleeps in his room now. His hair soap clings to the pillowcase. She rubs her cheek and hopes the scent will stick. She misses the fighting: “Mal, you need new pants.” “I happen to like my pants, thank you.” She likes them too. They’re absurdly out of fashion. But they’re Mal. So she likes them. Still: “You see this?” She puts her hand in, pinches the flesh of his backside. “Ow!” “That’s a tear, Mal. And there’s another just under the fly.” “Why don’t you stick your hands in that one, darlin’?” She smiles. She can’t help it. Forces her face to be steely. “It wouldn’t kill you to try something new.” “Well, see, you don’t know that. What if it does? Kill me, I mean. Surely you’d be feelin’ badly.” Dark eyes roll. Secretly, she’s pleased. This is a good fight, pants. Pants is harmless. “If the new pants kill you, I’ll have ‘Mal was right’ tatooed on my body. Everyone will see it at the funeral. Happy? Now can we please go shopping before the stores close?” “Tatoos. Huh. I can think of a few spots on you I wouldn’t mind readin’ my name.” It’s a lie, but a fluffy one. He worships Inara’s body, its lush expanses, its smooth perfection. For all her lovers, she’s as untouched ground. Every day he fears he’ll be the one to blemish that virgin flesh. “You have to die first.” She glares but it’s half artifice. Sometimes they make love mid-fight. After, they pick up the argument with their discarded clothes. “Anyway, just what’s so wrong with my old pants? Nothin’ that can’t be patched. Hell, if you was a good little wench, you’d mend ‘em for me.” He has a knack for making her mad. He likes to make her feel, knowing so few have. Beneath his torn-up tightpants, the captain goes hard. “Mal, are you bored with our sex life? Is that why you’re trying to kill it?” Captain holds up his hand in surrender. “Guess you ain’t the sewing type. No hard feelings.” Smirks. “You know, that glare calls to mind a virgin schoolteacher. Kind who carries a ruler and cries herself to sleep nights.” “You do have quite the imagination, Mal. How many virgin schoolteachers have you known?” “None that stayed as such after meetin’ me.” He smirks. She sighs, wondering at her weakness for cocky, crotchety men. No, weakness implies a pattern; for Inara, there’s only been Mal. “Merciful Buddha! Why are we talking about this? I only wanted to buy you pants.” “I am gettin’ that the pants thing is mighty important to ya. You’re kind of obsessing here, cupcake.” “I’m just firm.” Now it’s his turn to grab her backside and squeeze. “Got that bit right.” At night, she wears his t-shirts. She pushes the fabric up under her breasts and she trails soft fingers over her belly and she wishes they were his fingers. Frustrated, she fists her hand in sheets that have long lost his warmth. Somebody make a joke. Had him inside her, pumping hard and hot. Dug her nails into his back, made half moons in the flesh as he shook and shuddered and sighed his release. Felt him spill out of her, warm slippery substance on thighs still quivering. Knew his hands, lips, tongue in all her secret places. And yet its my bits that mix and mingle with his, making something new and whole. I know a funny joke but who would laugh? *** He can’t sleep. Wrong bed. Wrong mattress and blanket and pillow. Something’s missing...what? Won’t admit it’s her presence. He’s tight. Tension coils in his belly. Head hurts, shoulders, back, hips. He thinks: Hell, maybe I do need new pants. Too much for him, too much pain. I take some, glad to help. I play Inara’s part, easing his burdens. Relieved, he and I together feel the lines of his face soften. *Something about this ain’t exactly right.* Close your eyes, Captain. Too tired to shut me out. I smooth back his hair. Pretty, I whisper. *This mug?* We laugh together. *Maybe you are crazy.* Maybe I am. *** Dinner time. Jayne comes last. Everyone stares at his eye “Happened to your face, Jayne? Looks like you crossed some space monkeys with wrenches.” In Mal’s place, Zoe plays the role of captain. Without the captain, there’s no crew, no family, no Serenity. “Aw feed your kid and quit ridin’ me.” “It does look rather painful, Jayne.” Inara cringes. “Maybe you should let Simon take a look.” “Day I let the doc anywhere near my face--” “Never mind.” Inara smiles. Sometimes Jayne’s directness is refreshing. “Sorry I suggested it.” “Wait, I wanna know who hit him.” Simon looks at everyone: Inara, Kaylee, Zoe, Baby Little Chick, me. “No one wants to confess? Interesting. You all have motive for punching Jayne.” “Hell, this is fun.” Kaylee can make anything fun. “ Just like dinner theatre, ain’t it, Nara?” Inara nods, graces Kaylee with an indulgent smile. She can’t quite remember dinner theatre. Or dinners. Now, babies and black eyes stand in for linen napkins and bottles of bubbly. “Solve the mystery, Simon.” Kaylee beams. “Who did it?” “Don’t that ‘all’ include you, Doctor?” Zoe asks. “Well, yes. I guess I’m a suspect as well.” “No, he ain’t.” Kaylee squints over her soup spoon. “That’s too good a shot.” “Hey!” “Sorry, honey. Anyway, my vote’s for Zoe. Bet he said somethin’ dumb and she let him have it.” “I didn’t say a gorramn--!” “Thanks, Kaylee. I appreciate your endorsement. Wasn’t me though. Nara?” “Don’t look at me.” “Well, if it really weren’t Simon....” Kaylee chews her hair. “That only leaves--” “River?” Simon looks shocked. “Oh, please.” Jayne makes a face. “Like the little witch could really land one on me. Well, when she weren’t in one o’ her ‘moods,’ anyway....” “You make it sound like PMS,” Zoe muttered. “Since you’re all such gorramn gossips,’spect I won’t get a minute’s peace till I tell you how it was.” He looks at me. He lies without understanding why. “And how was it, Jayne?” Zoe baits. “Ai ya, ruttin’ bunch o’ impatient....truth is...well, I slipped in the shower and fell face-first on my fist.” “How did...?” Inara changes her mind. “Actually, I don’t think I wanna know.” “Oh, like you and Mal don’t never get frisky in the showers. Only difference is, I ain’t listenin’ to no girly chatter while gettin’ my rocks off.” Simon lays down his fork. “And I was so enjoying my molded protein.” “Shouldn’t’ve asked if you didn’t wanna know.” Jayne shrugs. “Hell, man’s gotta get his jollies some way.” “Do folk still say that?” Kaylee’s frowning. “Jollies?” “I’d just as soon not hear Jayne say it again. River, maybe you should finish your dinner in the common room. This conversation’s taken a turn for the revolting.” I just smile at Simon and slurp my soup. I have a secret. *** This is my favorite part. It’s Simon’s too, but he won’t say it. He’s afraid she’d laugh, elbow his ribs and ask, “How ‘bout that other part?” He waits all day for this ritual, sacred to him as the tea is to Inara, as the Bible was to Book. It’s repetition and it’s comfort. It’s home. Every night she enacts the tradition. Every night he lies on his back, hands folded, and watches. And waits. He feels like a voyeur, a pervert, Jayne. But he’s addicted. He can’t not watch. First she looses her hair from the band. She shakes her head so the heavy weight of it waves around her face. Then she unbuttons her coveralls. She talks while she strips. Tells him sweet things, everyday things, things about the ship and sexy things. When she’s excited, she runs it all together. “Fixed the starboard engine hydraulics--didn’t take no time at all. Cap’n thought it was the primary fluid pump was broke but really was the solenoid valve all along. Nara came to visit whilst I was workin’ on the engine actuator and we got to talkin’. “ Simon doesn’t understand a single word. He thinks: 1. my wife is brilliant, and 2. this ship is a piece of-- “Wanna hear a secret?” Nice having secrets. Nicer having someone to tell. “Sure.” She unhooks a plain white bra, wiggles matching panties over her knees. She wishes her underwear were lace, as fine and rich as Inara. She’s eager to be free from it; naked she’s confident. She has a good body, Kaylee does. Soft hair and supple skin and sweet curves. She stretches, bending to work the kinks from her back, aches that come from lying under an engine for hours, curving and twisting to reach Serenity’s innards. She tugs on Simon’s shirt--always the one he’s just discarded so as not to waste--and beams over her shoulder. She could take a new shirt, one from the drawer, fresh and smelling of lemons. He wouldn’t mind if she took a new one. He knows she’s in pain. Now and again, her back tightens up. She never complains, not wanting to trouble him. He’s enough worries already, she thinks. She’s right: I take so much time. If they lived on Osiris, she needn’t work. This thought comes to him, unbidden as a bruise. It’s so very *Core.* It’s so very *Father.* He makes room on his lap--she worries he won’t always; he worries she’ll stop asking--and she climbs astride his hips. “Cap’n’s set to wave Nara tonight.” “And she told you that outright? How scandalous.” She laughs, and they kiss. Simon didn’t kiss a girl till he was eighteen and a freshman at the med acad. Kaylee let her first boyfriend get to second in the sixth grade. Now it’s all meaningless; they forget the past in each other’s sighs. “That ain’t it, least not all of it.” “One moment. Is this the kind of story that ends with me unable to look Mal in the face for days?” More giggling. More kissing. Kissing leads to groping leads to lower groping. When Simon puts his hand between her legs, Kaylee wants him to leave it there forever. She wonders how that would go over at mealtimes. “Seein’ as they ain’t been together in a few weeks...well, she’s gonna ask him somethin’.” “You’re going to draw this out, aren’t you?” A breathy giggle in the dark: “Nara wants to have Cortex sex.” “Shuh muh?” “Aw, c’mon, Baby. Ain’t you ever done it?” “Kaylee..with whom would I have Cortex sex? My wife and I share a bunk on a reasonably small spaceship.” She giggles again, kisses his neck. She knows all his favorite spots. “Well, what ‘bout ‘fore me? Back when you was the sexiest trauma surgeon in Capital City.” “Ah, yes. The good old days of doing nurses over the Cortex.” “Why, Doctor Tam! Hell, I’m shocked.” “Kaylee?” She likes how he says her name, how he opens up the ‘a’ in his throat. “Hmm?” “Do you think he’ll do it?” “Cortex sex? I dunno. Cap’n can be a little...well, puritanical’s the word comes to mind. Still, he’s a guy. Don’t you all got urges? Needs?” “I--well, yes.” She’s so sweet. How is she his? He wonders this every day. “Actually, though, I wasn’t talking about the Cortex sex.” “You mean to say...gettin’ his and River’s baby back?” I hold my breath and shut my eyes. Silly little crazy girl: I can see just as easy in the dark. “That’s what I meant to say.” “I dunno.” Paws his hair, silky bits between the fingers. “Seems he’s set on tryin’. How’s that sittin’ with ya?” “The ‘verse is a big place, Kaylee. I’m not sure how he’d even go about finding a...a small--” “But...if he somehow snatched it back....him or her. Baby that’s made from your sister How would you feel ‘bout that?” “I guess I’d feel...worried.” “ ‘Bout the ‘Liance? Them never leavin’ us be?” Kaylee lays her head on his chest. She doesn’t think about it, just does. Knows he’ll thread his fingers, trace her scalp with the tips. “Partly. Partly because of the Alliance.” “How ‘bout the other partly?” “Kaylee. I’m not ready to be a father.” “ know somethin’ I don’t?” “I didn’t’re not...of course you’d know whether or not you’re....You’re not. Right?“ Boob. She doesn’t mind his rambling. Just another part makes him Simon. “You talkin’ ‘bout their baby? Honey, why would you gotta be....ohh.” “My sister is nineteen years old. In less than two decades she’s undergone kidnapping, torture, brain surgery. She’s been made to hunt and kill and see death. She’s strong, Kaylee. River always was stronger than....” Simon lowers his lashes. Kaylee presses sweet kisses to his eyelids. “I won’t make her be mother to a child she never asked for. I won’t make her carry that burden.” “Does it gotta be that? A burden. I’m sure the cap’n would...well, he’d do somethin’, I’m sure.” “I know you love Mal, Kaylee.” “Course I love him. He’s the captain. Always there for us.” “He’s a good man.” “Best,” she says. “And I admire the way he’s seen to Zoe and her daughter.” “He loves that lil’ girl. Extra to make up for...Wash....” “But Raven isn’t his child. She’s Zoe’s. And Zoe...I know Zoe and Mal went through that war together. But they came out of it differently.” “You don’t think the cap would make a good daddy?” “I’m not saying that. “You’re just not entirely comfy with him raisin’ your niece or nephew.” “Not on his own. Not when River....” “She’s havin’ the nightmares again. Ain’t she.” “Yes. I love her so much, Kaylee. I need her to be well again. Maybe that makes me a bad person. For caring more about my sister than...than....” “--than a baby you never met? That don’t make you bad, Simon. Makes you human. But none of us on this boat is alone. We all got eachother. Maybe that don’t seem like much--maybe it ain’t much--but as the cap’n would say--” “--it’s enough?” Maybe. Maybe. *** She flies while we slumber. They rest, but she finds no serenity, not even in sleep. Jayne is corporeality. He seeks motion, living to touch and taste, tasting and touching to live. Always going, going. At night, he’s as a boy, chin dipping down to kiss his chest, eyes fighting sleep. A child protesting bedtime, refusing it for loathe of the stillness. “Jayne.” “Huh?” “You were sleeping.” “Weren’t doin’ no such thing.” “Captain’s chair.” “Yeah, well, Mal ain’t here. Do me something. Know what I’m gonna say?” “No.” It’s true. It’s a rarity even for Jayne to know what Jayne will say. “If he ain’t comin’ back...don’t tell us. Let us hope awhile longer. Shi?” “Shi. Yes.” “Good girl.” His voice is gruff from sleep. “That’s mighty good of ya.” Kneeling now. On my knees. I rest tired arms on his legs. “Kiss me now. Qing?” He swallows. He’s very thirsty. “Then what?” “Bits that fit.” “Why?” I have to make him see. “Kaylee and her underwear.” “Hold up...Kaylee’s gonna be there?” “Plain white cotton. Knows he needs that now. Wonders, will he always? Simon and his shots, wants to find the miracle, one can cure me. Shoot me, Simon! Shoot me with a shot, put a bullet to me. Dr. Tam’s wondrous remedy. And Captain and Inara on the wire--can’t stop the signal, no matter how much you wish....No respite, always fighting and fu--forgot, forgot about Raven. Sweet little baby, and Zoe: foolish Zoe thought she was free, finally free of Serenity till Serenity came calling. You’ll never leave, never free yourself from her hold. Don’t you see? All the most precious bits. Can you be everything, Jayne Cobb? Brother and mother and child and lover? Comfort me, Jayne. Make me mad enough to bite. Love nibbles, gnaw on your shoulder. Blood-passion and fierce pain-pleasure hybrids. Hurt my body and heal my soul. Please, Jayne? Please!--” Kisses me then. Grabs my cheeks, one in each hand and forces my mouth open. Scrapes my face with his whiskers. Stinging. Jayne said it: “Not nobody likes pain.” I do. Hands in my hair, tugging, twisting. Rip it all out and I’ll be bald. Kisses my lips and sucks my tongue. I wonder about hand placement. He knows where all the pieces go. “Hold up, now.” Raspy breath. “Ain’t gonna be like this. Not tonight. And, in the name of Lucifer, not in Mal’s chair.” “I won’t break.” “Did I say you would? Quit throwin’ words at me, little girl. I know ‘bout these things is all. Might not know much. But I do know sexin’.” “When?” “When I ruttin’ say so. Ai ya, Lil’ Miss Gung-ho of a sudden...” “Soon? Will it be soon?” “Oh, can pretty much count on that.” Backs away, man bits straining forward. He hurts. Tonight we’ll both go to bed hurting. *** TBC in Part 22. Give a girl feedback!!


Saturday, April 1, 2006 5:51 PM


Ohh, very excellent! It opened with Jayne being cracked by River - bwahahaha. So excellent.

Cortez sex. Oh so funny!

Simon and Kaylee's convo was just perfect!

Wonderfully written. Going to have to read that Pillow Book fic now.

Don't keep us waiting too long for the next chapter!

Saturday, April 1, 2006 6:30 PM


I like this. It's well written. Usually first persons don't sway me, but this one was good. I'm glad the whole series isn't going to be like this, but something different every now and then is fun.

Saturday, April 1, 2006 7:02 PM


I thought it worked really well. You have a good River-voice. You don't make her sound overly childish, but you still get that disturbing quality out of her.

Very interesting to see Simon struggling with the child situation and wanting the Alliance to leave them alone.

I loved this line: "He likes to make her feel, knowing so few have." It really describes Mal/Inara well.

Saturday, April 1, 2006 7:50 PM


Ohhhh Cortex Sex! *snort!* Will he do it, I wonder?

Different... first person an' all... it works with River, though, Like Nurmula, I am happy the whole story isn't in first person...

I liked how each scene skipped around from one to the next, flitting in on each of the crew and their thoughts and activities ... and some serious stuff, discussions about the baby, and I loved the pants 'fight'

We gonna see some o' that Cortex Sex next chapter?? *grin*

Saturday, April 1, 2006 9:54 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER's trippy being in River's head, even after becoming more sane;)

Got to admit....1st person POV fits River's fractured but healing mind. Plus, the various relationships seem spot on.

And yeah...can't wait to see how Mal takes the idea of trying to 26th century phone sex through the Cortex;)


Sunday, April 2, 2006 9:56 AM


Wow... nice River voice. She kind of verges into the stereotype at times, but mostly very well done. Your Wash voice though... I dunno. It seemed a little off to me. I guess being dead could do that to a person, though.

Dragon has two daddies... *giggle*

Sunday, April 2, 2006 10:22 AM


First, thank you for writing the only River POV I've *ever* been able to read. *G*

Second, I thought I'd echo everyone else: CORTEX SEX. Heh. *giggles*

Simon/Kaylee - I love the way you write them. I mostly don't like fanon S/K, but you do it really well. They're a little bit complicated, a little bit sweet, very emotional. Their convo here was spot on.

Arguing over pants? Oh. Man. *loves*

Can't wait for the next part.

Sunday, April 2, 2006 11:45 AM


Now that River and Jayne have come to an 'understanding' this is now the best story of all time. I love these characters so much, especially Mal, Jayne, and River. I have been so anxious for all of the crew to have someone to love. You absolutely broke my heart with River's ordeal; I'm on pins and needles waiting for Jayne to finally teach her about gentleness and pleasurable touches.

Your fantastic use of details to flesh out each and every one of the characters is what makes this story real to me. Your evil plot monsters make it unforgettable. I marvel at your skills.

By the way, I didn't too much care for the experiment, but loved your diction, details, and emotions. It was hard for me to follow. At the table scene, I had to go back to the start to catch up with what was happening. It didn't 'taste' like your writing, if you know what I mean. On a positive note, I did feel "inside River's mind" during the Simon/Kaylee and Jayne parts.

More as soon as you can, please. You're still my favorite :)

Wednesday, June 7, 2006 9:12 AM


favourite line:
“Ain’t gonna be like this. Not tonight. And, in the name of Lucifer, not in Mal’s chair.”

loved river's little talk with wash, so sweet and funny. ‘Help me, Doctor. I dream of large blond men in flowery shirts.’



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