title: meaning in nothing
fandom: Firefly
characters/pairings: River/Kaylee, extremely vague River/Simon
rating: G/Teen
warnings: aforementioned vague incest
summary: River makes an impression on Kaylee.
notes: for shanaqui, for this request on fic on demand. takes place at some point before the movie.

River watched.

Graceful algorithms accompanied speech, formed lines from every touch and laugh and smile. Cluttered the air between persons until there was no more between. She could not express the machinations, could not equate such high level analysis to simple things that had definitions, even if, in theory, she understood the concept of connotations as well.

She deduced it from calculation, and therefore, it required calculation to express.

She watched the mechanic as she watched Simon. River's Simon. Simon was hers and she was Simon's. They were one.

A substitution, then. It was the same.

She didn't hear what the mechanic said as she entered the engine room. Words lied, so often, and she was confused by them. She applied her mouth to the mechanic's. Kaylee's, Simon would say. Kaylee sounded like music, and she tasted like pepper and wildflowers. River was aggressive, but applied seasoned amounts of tactfully determined sensuality to the gestures. She watched Inara, too, sometimes. Sometimes, when Inara didn't know she was watching. It was educational.

"Oh, okay," Kaylee exhaled, which River only heard as a submission. Slut! But it was all right, because Kaylee took her shirt off. Her breasts were different than River's. River looked at them like Simon not a doctor but a man would look at them, and then she touched them.

They tumbled.

Algorithms corroded into music, evolved into dance, she was once a dancer, right? She laughed and sang, and it wasn't unpleasant that Kaylee laughed, too. It was like gears. Machinations again. That lead back to algorithms.

It was sweaty.

She had stains on her skin, so she went to Simon's bath, because she was Simon, and he was hers, and so it was hers. He came in while she was drying her hair on his bed, and the blood vessels in his cheeks dilated cutely at her nudity. He was so modest with himself!

"River... don't forget, it's your night to do the wash," Simon said. Simon said. That was a game. A game with stupid rules. She wasn't allowed to play stupid games. Had to make up fun games to make fun.

"I did one of your jobs today, so you do mine," she replied. Factual. Petulant? Definitions were so confining. She would draw him a graph so he could understand. Simon understood her, sometimes.

"One of my jobs?" he replied, his voice yellow and purple, swirling bands of disambiguated color, colloiding and colliding. It was pretty, his confusion, if that was the right word.

She thought about explaining it, but she wasn't sure his quantum mechanics were up to the challenge. Explanations fell short. "Folks don't always need t'be asking me so many questions," she said shortly. She heard the Captain say that once, just like that. He said it to Inara, and Inara slapped him, but.

Simon wasn't that willful.

Expectedly (within a two point three four percent standard error), he just blinked, nodded, stared at the wall for a moment, and then turned to pick up the wash.

She grinned, and laughed, and rolled on her back, picturing the stars whizzing by behind the bulkheads. Tomorrow, she was definitely going to help Kaylee clean out the gaskets. Whatever that meant.