River leaned across and smiled at Jayne as he polished a currently dissected piece of his armory. “I can smell cooked goose,” she said solemnly before returning her attentions to the ball of wool that she had spent the afternoon unwinding and rewinding. Jayne looked back at her, slightly unnerved, but mostly confused. Oblivious to the expressions exchanged, Wash looked up from where he was massaging his wife’s shoulders.
“You know there’s a moon where the principal form of recreation is –“
“Not now dear,” sighed Zoe, nestling back between his knees.
Kaylee stepped down into the passenger lounge, an eager look on her face.
“Simon’s cooking us dinner,” she began excitedly, sitting down next to River who shifted aside to make room.
“The doctor can cook?” asked Zoe incredulously.
“I’ve never met a one who can,” Book called from his room. Tying back his mane of hair he stuck his head out around the door. “They can work wonders on a live patient, but present them with a cut of beef and they don’t have the first idea of what to do with it.”
“I’m sure he’ll do great!” exclaimed Kaylee, looking a little hurt at this apparent lack of faith in Simon.
“Searing a steak is the culinary equivalent of cauterising human flesh. Stop the blood flow.” River didn’t look up from her activity, and was oblivious to the various looks shot in her direction.
“We’re having steak?” asked Jayne, looking up from his own work, eyes aglow with carnivorous excitement.
“Not when it’s been compared to a surgical procedure,” said Wash. “Vegetables are okay aren’t they? You can’t operate on a tomato? Can you?”
River looked up and moved to speak, but was cut off by Jayne.
“Those pretty hands have probably never even boiled an egg,” he pointed out, efficiently snapping together the newly cleaned and oiled segments of Vera that he had laid out on the low table.
“Yes, but I’m sure whatever he cooks will at least be hygienic,” said Inara, bundling her calligraphy and rising from the small stool she had carried from her own shuttle, allowing her to work and enjoy the company of her fellow travellers. She smiled as Jayne pulled a face and commenced wiping his greasy hands on a similarly greasy rag.
“No, it’s shiny!” said Kaylee. “The captain’s up there helping out some.”
“Oh dear god! Mal? In the kitchen?” A look of amused horror crossed Inara’s face.
“I think,” began Zoe, standing up from the floor, “that tonight's dinner plans, however successful so far, should at least be supervised by those who know what’s going on. Are you coming Shepherd?”
“I’ve not performed miracles before,” Book stepped out of his room to join Zoe. “But there is a first time for everything.”