Bicycle on a Space Ship
Whoever coined the phrase, “...as easy as riding a bicycle,” had obviously never ridden one in a moving space ship at one-point-two earth gravity.
At least, that was Jayne’s way of looking at it.
Now granted, he wasn’t the most learned of men, but he figured he had the right of this one since the “gor-amn idjit” who did say it wasn’t sitting in the infirmary with a broken wrist and a twisted ankle, among other things.
Though, what with the drugs the Doc had given him, he was feeling mighty shiny about now.
Accept for when he tried to wave to Mal, who was standing in the doorway jawin’ at the Doc. It was about then that things got real irritating, pain-wise.
“Hey, Mal!” he waved, “Ow—ow—gor-amnit—ow!”
“Please don’t do that or I’ll have to re-set your wrist, again,” said Simon as he moved in to give Jayne another shot.
“But I wanna say hey to Mal,” Jayne whined.
“Have you considered the possibility of using your other hand?” asked Simon.
“Oh, well, I s’pose I could try that.”
“Hey, Mal!” called Jayne as he waved with his uninjured hand. “Oh, hey, Doc. This works real well. See Mal,” he said as he waved again.
“Yeah, Jayne,” said Mal. “you look to be doin’ a might better.”
“Oh, yeah. I’m full-on shiny now!”
“Good. Then maybe you can explain to me why you decided to try riding a bicycle in my cargo bay while Wash and Kaylee were in the middle of calibratin’ the engine thrusters.”
“Cuz tha’s where it wuz when I foun’ it,” slurred Jayne as that last shot finally began to take effect. “’Sides, aint ‘nough room in my quarters. An’ even if ‘ere wuz, Vera’d jus’ get jealous.”
“Jayne,” said Mal, “I highly doubt that a weapon of such incredible beauty as your Callahan Full-bore Auto Lock pistol would get jealous of a rickety old bicycle.”
At this Jayne waved Mal over to the gurney in a conspiratorial fashion and whispered loudly, “Vera’s got herse’f a real bad temper.”
“Oh, well, in that case, I s’pose you were right not piss her off,” Mal whispered back, “But no matter, for now you just stay here and do as the doc tells you.”
“Aye, aye, Cap’n,” would be the last thing out of Jayne for a while as he finally drifted off to sleep.
“Doc,” said Mal with a not too pleased look in his eye, “why don’t we collect everyone in the mess hall. I reckon we need to have ourselves a chat.”
Shepherd Book and Inara were already there making tea when the word went out. Zoe and Wash came in from the bridge after having put Serenity on auto-pilot. Kaylee came up from the engine room and took a seat, followed closely by Simon and River.
“Now that we’re all here,” began Mal, “how about someone explainin’ to me why there’s a bicycle on my boat and why it got left where Jayne could find it.”
“But it weren’t left out at all Cap’n, truly!” exclaimed Kaylee. “We had it good an’ hid in the smuggler’s hold. I swear!”
“Well, that answers the one, but not the other,” said Mal.
“Sir, Jayne’s birthday’s comin’ up,” said Zoe. “Last stop on Persephone most went and got him somethin’. That happened to be one, I reckon.”
“A bicycle? Why in all the ’verse would you get Jayne a bicycle when you know about the only thing he likes is guns?”
“He likes grenades,” said Wash, the mischievous glint in his eye belying the dead-pan delivery.
“Actually,” said Shepherd Book with a chuckle, “he likes anything that goes boom.”
“You get my point,” said Mal in a tone that dared anyone to continue this line of discussion.
Ever the one to challenge him, Inara asked, “Why shouldn’t we get him something besides guns or things that go boom?” as she looked to Wash and the Shepherd. “He certainly seems to have enjoyed the bicycle...although it might have been nice if he’d waited until his birthday to do so.”
“Oh, he enjoyed it, alright,” said Mal, “for all of about five minutes. And now my crew is a man down with a big job comin’ up. Which is why I don’t like having oddities on my boat lest they be part of a job themselves.”
“But we’s always gettin’ him the same thing every time,” said Kaylee, in a somewhat tentative manner, “an’ he’s got so many already. Wouldn’t surprise me if one o’ these days we won’t even be able to lift off for all the extra weight.”
“We were just thinking that it would be nice to get him something non-lethal for a change,” said Inara.
“I was thinking he should know better than to try to ride it while the ship’s stabilizers were down,” explained Wash.
“It would, he should, and in fact, he does,” said Mal in reference to the previous two comments.
“I know it didn’t go as anyone might have hoped,” said Zoe, “but it does get old always gettin’ the same thing, and he did like it. Almost as much as he likes that silly hat,” and her calming, authoritative voice began to diffuse the tension in the room.
“Fine, this once I’ll let it slide.”
“But from now on do me a favor and stick to what we know,” said Mal. “The man likes guns and all manner of interestin’ weaponry so that’s what he gets. There’ll be nothin’ fanciful on my boat without checkin’ with me first.”
“That’s an order!”
He received a chorus of “Aye, Cap’n” and “Yes, sir” all around, until his attention fell on the Tam siblings just in time to hear River whispering to her brother.
“Simon, does this mean we don’t get to keep the hover board?”
Everyone managed to hold it in until Mal—and the sound of his Chinese cursing—had disappeared down the forward passageway before the mess hall filled with laughter.
As they were leaving Inara passed behind the Tams and leaning in said, “River, dear, you are a true gem.”