Summery: River is experiencing some strange symptoms.
River kicked her feet sullenly, perched on top of the infirmary bed. “Fix it, Simon!” She whined.
Her brother leaned back against the counter and raised an eyebrow questioningly. “Fix what, exactly?” He crossed his arms over his chest and shrugged. “You are in perfect health, so far as I can see, and you won’t tell me any symptoms except that your stomach sometimes feels funny.” He shook his head. “Pardon me if I don’t just start randomly stabbing you with needles.”
River scowled, slumping back against the pillow on the uncomfortable bed. “I’m dying,” she stated glumly. “I have been bitten by poisonous cimex lectularius, and I am dying.” She gave a dramatic wave of her arm. “Mermaid like, they shall bear me up,” she sighed. “Bury me by the water.”
Simon rolled his eyes, tugging at the gloves on his hands. “You aren’t dying, mei mei.” He flicked her bare feet with his fingers. “Now, why don’t you tell me what’s really going on?” He smiled entreatingly. “You know you can tell your big brother anything.”
“Anything, nothing, slipping under the waves,” River threw her arm over her face, hiding her eyes. “I am dying. My stomach turns over and my head feels funny and my skin is all tingly!”
Simon bit down on his lip thoughtfully. “Huh.”
River dropped her arm from over her face to glare at her brother. “Your most beloved younger sister has cancerous growths on her spinal column, and all the doctor can say is “huh!” She grabbed the flat pillow and settled it over her face. “Larded with sweet flowers which bewept to the grave did go with true-love showers,” she quoted sadly, her voice muffled by the pillow.
“Oh, Ophelia, where is your rosemary?” Simon asked teasingly, pinching her arm lightly.
She hit him with the pillow. “Seriousness befits a professional. Need to work on your bedside manner,” she scolded in irritation.
Simon held up his hands in surrender, trying very hard not to laugh at the pout on his sister’s face. “Ok, ok, I’m sorry!” He grinned at her affectionately, tugging on a lock of her hair. “Ok, so, stomach upset, headache, and sensitivity to touch. Anything else?”
River screwed up her face in thought. “Hot flashes,” she said matter of factly. “But I am very young for menopause.”
“I’m pretty sure you aren’t going through that just yet,” he told her dryly. “What else?”
She leaned forward, eyes wide with concern. “I believe my oxygen levels are too low,” she said, nodding earnestly as she spoke. “I am having trouble breathing.” Her eyes lit up as a new thought occurred to her. “I believe that it is possible that Jayne takes up more than his fair share of oxygen.” Her mouth fell open in shock, “He is breathing the air that should belong to me!” Her eyes darkened with anger and she leapt off the bed. “He shall pay!”
“River,” Simon interjected, catching at her wrist. “Jayne can pay later. First, let us figure out the problem.”
River muttered under her breath, but contained her pacing to the infirmary itself. “Then fix me!”
Simon resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “So, we have a list of symptoms, all very vague, I might add, that could occur with any number of ailments.” He watched his sister pace from one side of the infirmary to the other, and kicked up his feet on the bed while he thought. “Vague symptoms,” he mused to himself. “Maybe it’s an allergy, or sensitivity to something here on Serenity?”
“Yes! Allergens!” River stopped dead. “Not enough cleaning, dust mites and spores and mold!” She held out her arm eagerly. “Shot now to stop it!”
Simon shot her an annoyed glance. “It isn’t that easy, River,” he said. “It could be any number of substances or foods.” He shook his head in confusion. “When do all of these problems occur?” He blinked. “Wait.” He sat up abruptly, eyeing her with suspicion. “Since when are you so eager for a shot of anything?”
“It’s driving me crazy, Simon!” She wailed desperately, clutching her hair. “The ape walks in, breathes, and my oxygen levels decrease and I can’t think straight and all I can do is babble about…about…parasitic infestations and levels of atmospheric pollution!” She slid down the wall miserably. “Perhaps poison is being slipped into my protein,” she sniffed tragically.
Simon covered his face with his hands, eyes wide with some indefinable emotion. “Oh, River,” he said slowly. “Oh, River, you are in trouble.”
She held one arm up limply towards him. “Fiiiiix it,” she pleaded, eyes wide and hopeful. “Make her able to hold conversations and confuse him with words and phrases again!” She looked like she was about to cry. “What is wrong with me? Is it poison? Cancer?”
Simon finally dropped his hands from his face and blinked dazedly at his sister. “River,” he started, then stopped. He shook his head.
River leapt to her feet, dashing over to grab his hands. “Whatever it is, you can fix it, can’t you? You always make me better!” She bit her lip, watching him anxiously.
Simon blinked again, looked down at her little hands clutching onto his. He covered her hand with one of his and looked at her seriously. “River,” he said solemnly. “I hate to tell you this…”
Her eyes got huge, looking apprehensively at him. “I knew it,” she said, shaking her head sadly. “It is the end for River Tam, isn’t it?”
Simon patted her hand, searching the air above her head for the words to tell her this. “River,” he tried again. “River, you have….”
Her hands tightened on his.
“You have…a crush.”
She blinked. “I have a what?!”
Simon’s mouth was twitching suspiciously. “You have a crush, River,” he told her again, patting her hand reassuringly. “You aren’t dying, you aren’t sick, you haven’t been poisoned.” He paused for thought, “I don’t think your hypothesis of Jayne stealing all the oxygen is necessarily wrong though. It sounds like something he would do.”
River slid down to the floor in shock. “A crush? Something so…juvenile? Something so…emotional?” Her lip curled in disgust on the last word. “How could a crush cause so many different reactions in body temperature and vocal cords?” She ran her hands through her hair again. “Simon, I cannot have a crush. I do not believe in crushes! Silly little girls have crushes!” She sputtered in anger. “I am not a silly girl! I believe in reasoning! And science!”
Simon looked at her sympathetically, still trying to fight down a smile. “That has nothing to do with your emotions, River, and you know that.”
She fell backwards onto the floor, hair fanning around her head in a lopsided halo. “I don’t want it! Make it go away!”
Simon did laugh at that, slumping back onto the bed, mirroring her position on the floor. “I can’t, mei mei. You just have to deal with it.”
“I can’t have a crush!”
“And why not?” her brother asked reasonably. “You are perfectly normal, in good health, with I assume a healthy sex drive, although, please God, never tell me about it..why shouldn’t you have a crush?”
River covered her face with her hands. “I refuse this crush! There is no crush!”
“Face it, River,” her brother said, a smirk working its way into his voice. “You like Jayne.”
“You adore his biceps.”
“You’re blushing,” he said gleefully, hanging half off of the bed to look at her. “River and Jayne, sitting in a tree..”