Growing Panes II
Disclaimer: No infringement intended. I'm just playing, no profit involved. If you recognize the characters, they're not mine.
Distribution: The Nook
Spoilers: Season 1 of Firefly, plus the movie. Supernatural AU, Next Chapter of Growing Panes
Warnings: River being very bad (but she wants to play!) + Sam had no problem being crazy + Dean's mouth = PG-13ish.
Mal didn't know if it was Kaylee or River who had conned Zoë into taking his Li'l Albatross with her on the supply run. Either one could or would have depending on the circumstances.
"What do you mean, she's gone?" Simon's voice was colder than the Captain had ever heard it. So much so that Jayne was looking a bit nervous. Kaylee was holding tight to the doctor, trying to prevent him from attacking the messenger.
"Whose idea was it for River to leave the ship," Mal asked. He was looking at Kaylee as he spoke, knowing she couldn't lie. She shook her head, but still looked a mite guilty. Kaylee had known about it and had taken advantage of it.
"River asked me, sir," Zoe reported apologetically. "She had been doing pretty well and she said that Simon didn't mind."
"Next time," Mal cut in before Simon said something that his first officer would shoot him for, "confirm with the doc first. Zoe, you and Jayne search where you were. Kaylee, Doc, check the zoo you had planned on taking her. I've got the docks."
"What about me," Inara asked.
"Listen to the radio, check the wave traffic and let us know if she returns to the ship."
Inara didn't like him taking her out of the action, but accepted it. Someone did have to stay in Serenity to keep an eye out.
The two teams had already left. Mal hurried to follow. He had only been searching for thirty minutes when he caught sight of a man in the distance, frustration and desperation radiating off him has he rubbed the back of his neck. Angry, Mal charged toward him, thinking the Doc had slipped Kaylee. Once Mal got closer, he knew he had been mistaken. It was so obviously not Simon Tam that Mal paused sharply. In doing so, he caught the not-stranger's attention.
It was Dean, brother of one of River's "classmates." They hadn't seen each other in over a year, but recognition was easy and instantaneous. Dean and Mal aimed toward each other, both knowing what the other would ask and both knowing the dreaded response.
Dean opened his mouth first. "River?"
"Gone," Mal answered. Sam?"
Dean frowned even harder. "Took off."
Mal swore in Chinese, Dean in English.
"How does your brother get when around hands of blue?"
Dean winced. "Scary good at self-preservation."
"River runs," Mal warned.
"Sam doesn't do anything less than a strategic retreat if necessary."
"I've got someone listening to the waves."
Dean nodded and turned in place, still keeping an eye out for the teens. Both men knew that wherever they were, they were together. It was too much of a coincidence otherwise and crazy didn't do coincidence.
"What could they be up too?" Mal asked. Dean seemed to have a better handle on his brother than Simon had on his sister.
Dean huffed and shook his head. "Could be anything from a defending someone in an Alliance courtroom to acting like children at the zoo." The courtroom sounded like a good yarn to share over a pint of beer.
"I've got people at the zoo."
Dean nodded. "They're just a pair of…" Now Dean cursed in Chinese and took off at a run. Mal was hard pressed to keep up. Dean obviously had a destination in mind. He ran past the edge of the docks and then down a steep embankment and through a canyon to a hidden ship. Mal stopped and blinked at the ship. It was an older model, smallish but it was a mint. Kaylee would be drooling. It would have stood out in the docks like a beacon. Mal wondered how they kept it in such fine condition. He had no doubt that it was in as good condition inside as out.
Dean had already used the remote in his pocket to open the side door and never broke his stride as he ran inside. Mal hurried to follow. He noticed that Dean was in really, really good shape for living on a ship.
Inside, Mal followed Dean's voice yelling for his brother. Then Dean was cussing up a storm. Mal turned a corner and saw Dean looking down the hatch of someone's room. Mal walked to his side, looked down and then looked away. He had seen a hell of a lot of bare flesh in that glance.
"Hair-brained, hormone driven teenagers," Dean muttered.
"Hypocrite," Sam responded, obviously relaxed. "Mr. I-have-several-girls-in-every-port."
"I don't disappear without my radio."
"Private sleepover," River chided.
"Get dressed," Dean ordered. "Both of you."
"Crasher," Sam muttered.
"Don't care. I'll come down there and dress you both like dolls if I have to."
"River," Mal added. "I gotta get you back to Serenity before your brother has kittens."
"Me-ow. Only one little one."
Dean lost what little patience he had. "That's it. I'm coming down. You had your playtime." Dean was as good as his threat. He climbed down into Sam's room and proceeded to pick up the various clothes. Male clothes he threw at his brother, who grumbled mutinously but did as ordered. Female frills he threw at River. She looked at the material like she didn't have a clue as to their purpose. Dean didn't pause as he dressed her like a doll. Mal watched to make sure that he didn't get fresh with the girl, but he treated her as a patient. He called Inara and told her to pass on the message to Simon that River was found, safe and unharmed, and that they were on the way back to the ship.
"Good Daddy," she said.
"Always was," Sam told her proudly.
Mal thought it was a miracle the two managed to get down to the nitty-gritty fun with all the other things in their brains.
River tilted her head up at him. "Instinct easy."
Dean slid socks and then shoes onto River's slim feet and then pushed her toward the ladder. He smacked her butt. "Get a move on."
Sam had managed to get dressed. Now he stood behind his brother and set his chin on Dean's shoulder.
Dean stilled and leaned over enough to look at Sam without dislodging him. "You got something you need to say, little brother?" Obviously, Sam had decided on a posture and a method for using Dean to clear up his thought process long ago.
Sam nodded and not disconnecting from Dean, tilted his head back to look at Mal. "You can keep watch and give Dean time for she walls."
"It's not safe without guard." Sam was frustrated at Mal's continued blank look but he wanted the man to understand.
Mal had been around his own Academy student long enough to know when he had to stay put and listen. He shifted his eyes from one brother to the other. Dean was frowning and looking put out, but not the least bit confused.
"You got a translation, Dean?"
Dean sighed. "Given enough time, silence and no interruptions, we've learned that I can make walls in Sam's head and make it easier for him to function."
Mal held out a hand to River and helped her out. "You think you can do it for River, here."
Sam said "Yes" as Dean said "No."
"Which is it?"
Dean finally answered. "We're talking twenty hours or longer if we can sit still long enough. Gotta be planet side, since even the engine vibrations distract them."
"Sounds like hoo-doo."
"It almost is."
"And it takes that long to voo-doo her brain?"
"How do you hold back an ocean?" River asked from Mal's side. "The waves always erode and the tides always change."
Mal frowned. "Is she saying that it's not permanent?"
"Yeah," Dean sighed. "If I get a full day uninterrupted, it'll last a couple months tops."
"And you want this, Mei-mei?"
"No noisy fog drowning."
Mal sighed. "I'll take that as a yes. We have to discuss this with your brother." Who was going to go through the roof when he found out about the sexing.
"Don't tattle," Sam said.
Damn Readers, Mal thought. Both of the kids smiled at him. "Come on. Let's go talk to the doc." He led the way out of the ship. River and Sam followed, holding hands. Dean took drag with so professional a manner Mal wondered if, even as a kid, he had helped in the War. Dean locked up his ship behind them and double checked the gun he had tied down. Sam was also wearing a gun. He hadn't been wearing a gun the last time Mal had seen the brothers.
"Dangerous game," Sam announced.
Unnerved, Mal increased his stride to Serenity. They took the long way around, away from prying eyes. The whole crew made it back to the ship before them. Simon was pacing on the ramp waiting for them. From his disheveled appearance, he must have run straight from the zoo. Now he ran to his sister and almost hugged her. Then the doctor part of him took over and he examined her, head to toe.
River shrugged him off. "Just out walking, Simon. Sammy knows the quiet places."
Mal hid a smirk at her words. He wondered when Simon would figure out what happened. Inara joined the others in welcoming back their wayward bird. The look she sent Mal said that she had recognized the after affects of sex.
"Everyone, inside," Mal ordered.
They all trooped into Serenity and Mal used the confusion to pull Simon aside and let the rest of the girls surround River and scold her.
It was the tone of voice that pulled Simon's gaze off his sister. "What's wrong?"
"Not so much." Mal shrugged. "Sam and Dean seem to think that they have some sort of hoo-doo thing Dean can do that will make River better for a couple of months."
Simon glanced at the brothers and then back at Mal. "What kind of 'hoo-doo' are we talking about?"
"Seems to be meditation or the like. Don't know. It's takes a full day of uninterrupted silence and dark. River wants it."
"Sam doesn't seem to be much better," Simon said petulantly.
Mal shrugged. Sam was definitely better than River. "They don't have anyone to keep watch and protect them during the witchcraft. They can't do it as often as needed."
Simon eyed Mal. "You think it's a good idea. That doesn't sound scientific at all."
"How scientific can a Reader be? She won't need the drugs for a while," they were getting short on supplies and Mal wasn't sure he wanted to rip off another hospital just yet, "and she'd be less of a danger to the crew."
Simon put up his chin. "I want to see him do it to Sam first."
Sam appeared behind them, making both men jerk. "Patching walls shorter. Need a dark room."
"Use my bed," River joined the conversation.
"Not happening," Dean said. "Need the boy's brain in his head, not lower."
"They can use my room, sir," Zoë offered.
"No," Sam cut her off. "Thank you," he forced himself to say. "Grief is counterproductive."
Zoë looked as if Sam had smacked her, but schooled her features. She had forgotten that Sam was another Reader.
"We need your bed, Simon," Sam said.
"So be it." Simon led the way to their room and Mal gave everyone else a glare to get back to their rooms and/or their jobs. River cupped a hand over Kaylee's ear and whatever she said, had Kaylee giggling and eagerly following the girl to the engine room. Zoë vanished up the stairs and to the cockpit. Jayne stayed put, in case Mal called for him. Simon turned on the light in his room and Sam was already sitting on Simon's bed, though no one had indicated which bed belonged to which sibling.
Sam took off his boots and then his gun. Both were placed precisely and within easy reach. Then Sam scooted to the wall and laid down. Dean sat in front of him and repeated the motions. Soon, they were spooned together, Sam's arm was around Dean's waist and the crazy one's head was resting on Dean's.
"Here's the boring part –for you," Dean said. Then he reached up and turned off the light. Mal couldn't hear another sound. His eyes adjusted and he saw the brothers laying there, breathing softly. It appeared that they were asleep already. Sam's face was relaxed, but Dean's brow was furrowed.
Simon sat on River's bed and watched. Mal had better things to do. He left the room and hunted down his second-in-command. They had a contact to meet. Jayne could be left behind to keep watch. The merc was under strict instructions not to let anyone on or off the ship.
When Mal and Zoë returned, the atmosphere of the ship had changed dramatically. Sam was awake, sane-ish and debating with Jayne the merits of various firearms while at the same time arguing with Simon over some sort of medical philosophy or procedure-Mal wasn't sure which. In the case of both arguments, Mal was pretty sure that Sam was winning. How, Mal didn't know, since Simon and Jayne were talking over each other.
Zoë leaned towards Mal. "I never considered that a sane River could be scarier than a crazy one."
Mal nodded. The possibilities of all that smarts focused in one direction were frightening. She could do anything.
Mal whistled to get everyone's attention. Ah, blessed silence. "So what's going on?"
Simon answered. "Dean's sleeping now, resting up for his session with River."
Sam shook his head. "No. He's up now. Exercising and getting his blood pumping."
"How long 'till he starts?" Mal asked. He was starting to get itchy, being landside for so long and he knew that it would be a full day from when Dean started until the point that they could leave.
Sam shrugged. "He needs to use the can and then they can start."
"They going to be in River's bed?" Mal asked.
"No," said Sam. "We'll put them in the infirmary and give them IV's with nutrients. We can turn off the lights and monitor them remotely."
Simon jerked and somehow Mal knew that the doctor had expected problems with the hoo-doo. It had seemed too good to be true. "Can we negate complications?"
Sam wavered. "It involves how much River fights Dean. It's instinctual not to let another into your head, even if intellectually River understands that Dean can help her."
"What if we dope River?" Simon asked.
Sam nodded. "That will help at a certain point in time, after they are situated. That will be a last resort; the current drugs in her system will have consequences."
Simon winced. Those were his fault.
"You have done well with the limited information at your disposal," Sam reassured. "You kept River safe, but Dean cannot build on your chemical walls. Both sets of walls are equally artificial, but they are not complementary."
Dean walked into the cargo bay and joined the group. He was still stretching. "What's the plan, Sammy?"
Sam glared and rolled his eyes. "We're sitting both of you in the infirmary."
"Sam," Dean whined. "The infirmary?"
"Yes. We're going to give both of you an IV and monitor your vitals. It will reassure all of us."
Dean huffed. "Fine." He looked at River. "Let's get this over with."
"Sandcastles of gravel," she answered.
Dean walked into the infirmary and sat in the main chair. River smiled as she stood over him. Then she lifted herself up on one hand and rotated her whole body horizontal like a gymnast in slow motion. She placed her other hand at Dean's other hip and poised there for a moment before settling on top of Dean as gently as freshly fallen snow. Her head fit comfortably in the crick of his neck. She held out her arm to Simon and he inserted an IV. Sam did the same on the other side. Dean wrapped his free arm around River's middle. River placed her free arm over his.
"You have to let him in when he knocks," Sam told River. "He'll been near my path."
River nodded. "It's not a siege, but someone offering a cup of sugar."
"Order the drawbridge down," Sam said.
"Lower the drawbridge," she sighed.
Sam and Simon watched as their siblings closed their eyes, all were frowning. The ones standing double checked the monitors and then exited the infirmary. They closed and locked the doors behind them.
Simon shook his head. "Should have set up catheters."
Sam snorted. "Not worth the argument. Dean would have pitched a fit."
Simon looked up at Sam. He examined him both as an older brother and as a doctor. "You've improved since the last time we met," he observed.
Sam smiled. "That was just after. This is now."
"I don't know if you are making more sense, or if I'm better at translating crazy," said Simon.
Sam shrugged and led the way to the ramp. "An intersection of learning curves."
Simon glanced back once or twice. Mal didn't bother trying to distract him. He did send the rest of his crew on a variety of tasks and errands that lasted through the night and part of the next day.
The crew finished the tasks in record time and the new cargo was loaded and waiting. Finally Sam's head jerked. "Last brick." He frowned as he strode toward the infirmary. He pulled open the doors and glared at his brother. "Had to finish off with a flourish."
"Am a dancer," River countered. She had shifted sometime in the last hours and was curled up in Dean's lap like a cat. Now she stretched with more grace than a human had any right to have and then disengaged the IV. "Bricks don't fit my psychological profile."
Sam tilted his head. "Anchors and buoys. Dean adapted."
River slid off his lap and walked (danced) to the door. She smiled at Simon, at Sam, even at Mal. Her eyes were clear and excited. "What to do first? Possibilities endless."
"First, you're flyin' us and our shipment to its destination," Mal was quick to answer.
River didn't pout at the directive. She seemed to expect and want (need) it. "Yes Capt'n," she murmured. She did backtrack to where Sam was now removing the IV from Dean and helping the older man to stand. She kissed Dean on the cheek, Sam on the mouth and waltzed out.
Simon watched River's exit and then glared back at Sam. "Is there something I need to know?"
Dean collapsed and tried not to look like he was collapsing. Sam propped him up. "Dean?" he asked.
Dean glared. "I'm fine. Just a little stiff."
"Old," Sam countered.
"Experienced," Dean wagged his eyebrows.
Sam rolled his eyes and started Dean toward the door, down the ramp and then weaved their way through the docks. "Over-compensating."
They bickered all the way out of Serenity and down the street. The crew watched them go until Mal yelled about the shipment delivering itself. Kaylee closed the bay doors and grinned. River had told her that they would be seeing more of the brothers. River was dating Sam and had asked for Kaylee's help in breaking the news to Simon.
Kaylee bounced her way to her boyfriend. The future was looking bright.