fruition: n. 1. the bearing of fruit, 2. a coming to fulfillment; realization.
Mal took one last breath of fresh air as the outer doors swung shut against a summer's day on Hera. The last crate of cargo was in place, they were on schedule, and Jayne hadn't even managed to mortally offend their contact. Some days things actually did go smooth.
"Cap'n...is that fresh fruit?" Kaylee gasped behind Mal. He hadn't heard her take such a tone since he got her that layer cake of a dress for that fancy shindig on Persephone. She had to be stopped.
"That it is, little Kaylee. Fruit someone else's gonna be eatin' come next week, assumin' we make Ezra on schedule. Someone not us." He shook his finger at her to underscore that last bit.
"But Cap," Kaylee's voice quivered longingly. "They wouldn't never miss just one. Just a little one!" Her eyes were big and shining.
"No! No turnin' that face on me neither. We got plenty to eat our own selves, don't need to go moonin' after the goods." Mal kept his expression as stern and forbidding as he could, and made a fair bid for gruff.
"Just a tiny, little, itsy, bitsy, small one?" Kaylee's hands described a shape smaller than a plum. She bounced a little on the balls of her feet.
Mal arrested the bouncing with a firm hand to the top of Kaylee's head. "Oh, that's what you say now, but I ain't fooled! I let you start with a wee tiny one, an' come mornin' I'll find you in the hold covered in rinds with no cargo left to speak of. I said no!"
"How 'bout if it was one got itself bruised already?" Kaylee's fingers crept towards a crate, as if she was already contemplating how a piece of fruit might meet such an accident.
"How 'bout if you was the one got yourself bruised?" Mal growled, with a glower for good measure.
Kaylee smiled, undaunted. She had the gall to lean up on tiptoe and kiss him on the cheek. Mal tried to keep glowering, and turned to stalk away towards the stairs while the getting was good.
"How 'bout one what got dropped and split itself all open?" She called after him.
"Wuo dwei nee boo ting boo jen!" He yelled back over his shoulder.
River was lingering in the corridor as Mal stomped emphatically along the passageway towards the engine room. She looked up at him sideways through her hair as he drew even with her. "Quince is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Rosaceae," she informed him solemnly.
Mal grunted in a decidedly ill-tempered fashion.
"Its pome fruit is similar to that of the related apple, but is very astringent." River smiled a small, secret smile at him. "You'd think it was no good to eat if you bit right into it. Have to treat it right, be patient. Can be all warm and sweet if you're careful. If you wait." Her eyes slid towards the stairs to her left. "For a good cook."
Mal frowned at her. "I reckon nuts talkin' 'bout fruits got a strange sorta symmetry to it. Your brother know you're up here pontificatin' on food?"
For an answer, she grinned and scampered off the way Mal had come, towards the galley. Her bare feet whispered and squeaked against the deck plates.
Simon reached the top of the stairs from the infirmary as River disappeared from view. His brow was furrowed, and he was scenting the air like a delicately-bred house cat. Showing what Mal considered to be no manner of self-preservation at all, Simon disregarded his thunderous glower completely, and actually started talking.
"Captain," he said with a nod, by way of greeting. "I could swear I smell something that suggests lunch almost resembles food."
Mal's eyes narrowed even further. "That there smell belongs to a tiny, little, itsy, bitsy, bruised, split open fei fei de pi yan of a quince pie."
Simon blinked at him, slightly taken aback. "Well. It certainly sounds especially appetizing when you put it that way. I take it our cargo is short one quince after all?"
Mal snorted and rolled his eyes. "Tell me somethin'. I look all manner of fearsome to you?" He held his arms out, presenting himself for inspection.
Simon's lips twitched ever so slightly, but he nodded seriously. "Absolutely. You're a veritable fiend among men."
Mal nodded, pleased. "See now, that's what a man likes to hear." He clapped Simon on the shoulder and turned his head to yell down the corridor towards the galley. "Hear that? I'm a fiend among men! A fiend!"
They could hear Kaylee's laughter echoing brassily down the metal hall.
Both men turned to regard each other gravely. "Would you feel better if I called you a brute?" Simon offered.
Mal sighed, and squeezed Simon's shoulder briefly before turning away. "That's right nice of you, Doc. I appreciate you standin' by me in this here fruit mutiny." He trudged off towards the engine room again.
"Anytime," Simon called after him as he rounded the corner. "When you're up against the wall with fruit, I'm your man."
Simon stood blinking for a long moment. "Er," he added to the empty hallway. "That may have come out wrong."
Wuo dwei nee boo ting boo jen = I neither see nor hear you.
fei fei de pi yan = baboon's ass crack