World Without End - Part VI
Monday, January 7, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. The fight's over, but there's still the conversation to be had. NEW CHAPTER


Jayne watched as Hank manoeuvred the old mule back on board and thumped the ramp control. As it groaned closed behind him, shutting out the cold Lancaster air, he hitched the pile of clothing he had in his arms a little more firmly to his chest and headed for the infirmary.

“Jayne?” Zoe’s voice stopped him. “Everything okay?” She climbed from the back of the mule, her hand resting lightly on Hank’s shoulder.


“Only you’ve got a face like thunder, and if you’re planning on taking it out on someone –“

“Better be leaving, hadn’t we?” Jayne interrupted, not looking at her. “Case someone puts two and two together and makes more’n four.”

“That was the plan.” She sounded almost surprised that he’d think of it.

“Then we’ve all got something to do, ain't we?” He didn’t wait for her to answer. Stepping through the door into the common area, though, he paused. Mal had just climbed down the last of the stairs, and was heading purposefully for the infirmary. Jayne sighed.

“You naked under there?” Mal asked, slightly disconcerted, looking at the young psychic on the medbed as he stepped into the room. Simon was engaged in preparing a hypo.

“Jayne’s getting me some clothes,” River said, pulling the blanket a little closer. “He’s outside now.”

“Well, he’s gonna have to wait until I’ve finished with you.”

Simon stirred. “Mal –“

“No, doc. This time she’s not running. And I’m done playing nice.” He crossed his arms.

The doctor looked from his captain to his sister, then put the hypo down on the counter. “Just don’t … draw too much blood.”

“Wasn’t planning on hurting her,” Mal assured him.

“I wasn't speaking to you.” Simon walked towards the door.

“Simon …” River looked at him, pleading with him to stay.

“Sorry, mei-mei. You got yourself into this. You need to face up to it.” He stepped out of the infirmary and closed the door.

Mal took a deep breath, glaring at River. “What the hell did you think you were doing?”

She stuck out her chin, defiant despite her vulnerable state. “Saving Jayne.”

“Right. A six foot four inch portion of pure muscular mercenary who carries more weapons than half a town.”

“Don’t be sarcastic. He would have died.”

“No, River. He wouldn’t. Only reason he was in that alley with you is ‘cause you took it into your pretty head to follow us. Barefoot, I might add.” He glanced down at her muddy toes peeking out from under the blanket, and she drew them back in. “And who were those two hwoon dahns anyway? Their friends likely to be coming after us?”

“Just two. Thought they could sell me for the reward. I could see the warrant in one of their minds.” Her nose screwed up. “You think they’d have been able to find a better picture of me,” she said in passing. “I look moon-faced.” She sucked in her cheeks, then saw the look in his eyes and settled again.

Mal felt Serenity take off but ignored it. “You saw the warrant?”

“He was Alliance, once, I think. Concentrating on it. I couldn’t help but see, even through the static.” She shivered slightly. “They would have killed to take me.”

“Yeah, I figured that.” Mal shook his head. “But that don’t change the matter in hand. You put yourself at risk, and the baby. Not to mention Frey.”

“I saw it!” she insisted. “This place, this time. I saw him die!”

“Then you saw wrong. He ain't dead. He’s outside right now, hanging around and peering in the window, making sure I don’t put you across my knee and give you a good spanking. Which, I might add, you richly deserve.”

“I know.” Her voice was so quiet he hardly heard.

“You rushed into this, no thought for anyone or anything else, and nearly brought it about, this thing you’re so afraid of.”

“I know,” she repeated, louder this time.

He was unrelenting. “You didn’t trust us, and someone could’ve gotten dead. And I ain’t talking about those men back there.”

“I know!” she shouted, then covered her face with her hands, sobbing.

Mal felt a wave of guilt wash through him at making her cry, followed by equal amounts of affection and exasperation. He gathered her to his chest, feeling her trembling as she gripped his shirt tightly. “See, River, this is what I meant. Hindsight can be damn near perfect, but it ain’t much use when someone’s lying bleeding in the gutter.” He sighed, stroking her hair. “You know, I’ve had more women soaking my shirt with tears than I care to recall,” he said softly. “But none as crazy as you.”

She hiccupped. “I –“

“No, you just listen. It’s all very well seeing these things. Knowing when we might be in danger, being able to warn us. And that’s good. But you go off half-cocked, and someone’s like to get hurt. Might even be you. Or worse, me.” He paused for a moment. “If we know what’s around the next corner, we’re better prepared. Jayne would’ve carried grenades, and we’d’ve watched each other’s back. Hell, we were. But there’s no saying by doing that we ain't just playing into Fate’s hands.” He felt her still against him. “That’s the thing about Fate, River. Don’t know what she’s got up her sleeve.”

She moved back so she could look up into his face. “But I wanted to stop it. That’s why I was going to leave.”

“And that would’ve worked, I guess, in a roundabout kinda way. Only it all came to a head a mite quicker than you intended, right?”

She nodded. “Right.”

“See, that’s just another example of Fate laughing at us.” He smoothed the hair from her face. “So no more talk about me putting you off the ship, dong mah?”

“I didn’t want to leave.”


“But what if I see it again? Jayne dying. Or you. Or Freya.” She sniffed, wiping her nose on the back of her hand.

“Here.” He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket. “Blow.”

She did as she was told, producing a much louder noise than he thought she was capable of, then held out the linen square. “Thank you.”

“No, you keep it. Got your germs all over it now, anyway.” He smiled, and was rewarded by her lips lifting too. “River, whatever you see, if you think it’s gonna be a danger to any one of us, you tell me. Tell Freya. Tell Jayne. Tell us until we get so tired of hearing it that we actually listen. But don’t think that you can change things by running off. Proved today that you can’t.”

“Hormones,” she whispered.

He laughed. “That was, I admit, Freya’s excuse for most things while she was pregnant. Can’t say I believed it then, nor now. But I’ll take it into account.” She wiped her nose again, the blanket slipping enough so that he got a view of pale, clear skin. “But I think right now I’d better let Jayne come in and make you decent, ‘fore he kicks the door down.”

“He wouldn’t do that.”


“Well, maybe a little.”

“Then I’ll be getting back to my wife.”

“Is she okay?”

Mal nodded. “It’s just a graze. Only don’t tell her I told you that.”

“Trying to make her feel guilty?” River asked astutely.

“Just trying to get it through to her too about going into things without proper back-up.” He smiled at her, dropping his head a little to look at her under his eyebrows. “So, we got this sorted now?”

“Yes, sir, Captain, sir.” She managed a small grin.

“And don’t go annoying your brother either,” Mal said, walking to the door. “He worries about you, you know.”

“I can take care of myself,” she said firmly.

He looked back at her. “Reckon maybe you can. But you don’t have to. Just let us do it for a while, okay?”

“I will.”

Mal opened the door and stepped out, looking up into Jayne’s grim face. “You be nice,” he warned. “Still ain't past putting you out the airlock.” Before the big man could summon up the right words, probably obscene, he strode away, back up the stairs.

“I need to –“ Simon began, about to walk past Jayne.

“Nope. My turn.” He walked into the infirmary, the door sliding to behind him.

Kaylee looked up at her husband from the depths of the yellow sofa. “Don’t worry, honey. They’ll let you treat her soon.”


Jayne glared at River, sitting cross-legged on the bed, the blankets still wrapped around her. Placing the clothes carefully on the counter, he turned to face her, keeping his distance. “So?” he asked, his voice rumbling through the small room. “Got anything you wanna say?”

“Sorry.” She brought her legs up, hugging them as close as her belly would allow.

“You done with all this … this craziness?”

“Not leaving,” she agreed. She so wanted him to pick her up again, cuddle her against his strong chest, to feel his breath filling his lungs, his heart beating inside his ribs … but from the look on his face she’d forfeited that for a while.

“Then it’s all over with?” He wanted her to confirm it.

“All over.”

“Shiny.” Moving closer he began to rub her with the blanket, taking out the last of the water from her hair.

“That’s it?” she asked softly, amazed. “Not going to tell me off?”

“Would it do any good?”


He cracked a half-smile. “Figured as much. ‘Sides, I think your bro and the Cap did their part, right?”

“Simon was angry with me,” she admitted, her eyes closing to better enjoy the sensations he was producing. “Mal was angry and upset.” She sighed a little. “Explained things. Fates and playing into their hands.”

He didn’t mind that he didn’t understand. “Yeah, well, for a mind-reading genius you’re allowed to have your off days sometimes.” He looked down at her apparent frailness, the steel hidden in the small body, his child swelling her. “And I guess hormones don’t help.”

“That’s just an excuse.” She looked up at him. “Why do you accept me as I am?” she asked, her eyes suddenly brimming.

“You gonna cry?”

“No.” She swallowed back the emotion, blinking hard.

He lifted her gently into his arms, turning so he could sit down on the bed and she was on his lap. “You can if you want. I love ya, River. And if it comes down to it, I’ll walk into hell to save ya. Brave anything just to make sure you’re okay. And I’ll die with a smile on my face if’n I know you’re still breathing.”

“I feel the same,” she whispered.

“I know that. And I guess it makes us both the worst kinda fools.”

“Not the only ones on this boat.”

“Nope. Serenity sure attracts ‘em. But I do figure the sooner you marry me, the better.”

She snuggled her naked body closer. “I love you, Jayne.”

“Good.” It felt so good, just holding her. “So, you wanna get dressed?”

“Soon,” she said, her eyes closing. “Soon.”

Outside in the common area, Simon paused in his pacing. “You know, I really need to –“

“No, no, you don’t,” Kaylee said quickly, peering in through the window. “Better not. Not yet.”


The next few days passed quietly enough, with the crew settling down again. Freya held lessons in the galley for the children with River assisting, Hank and Zoe spent a lot of time on the bridge, just being together, while Simon found himself with nothing to do for a change, and seemed to take every opportunity to visit his wife in the engine room. Mal made sure he kept a wide berth after looking for his mechanic one day, and inadvertently peering in through the small window. Otherwise he either played with his wife and children or looked for work, one of which was at least satisfactory.

Only Jayne seemed uneasy.

“Cap, got a favour to ask.” He stood in the doorway to the kitchen area.

Mal looked up from the coffee he was pouring. “Go ahead.”

“Want you to marry us.”

“You and River?” His eyebrows raised towards his hairline.

“Yeah. Like you did with Simon and little Kaylee. After what happened before, on Lancaster, I kinda need to know she ain't gonna run away again.”

“Have you spoken to River about this?”

Jayne looked down at his feet. “Nope. Not yet. Wanted to know if you’d do it first.”

“Well, I can’t say a ring’s gonna stop her if she takes it into her mind to leave you, but … I guess I'm willing. ‘Cept I get the feeling you know full well she ain't gonna be. Not just for that.”

“But it ain't just that, though, Mal. I want to be her husband, more’n anything. And … I heard from Matty, coupla days ago, and … I don’t want my Ma going to her grave thinking I’m letting this slide, Mal.” The big man was insistent. “You saw how she was before. And I want River to be my wife before the baby’s born. Do it proper.”

Mal lowered his voice. “She’s bad? Your Ma?”

“Had a coupla spells. Doc got called out, but he can’t do anything. I’d just like to be able to let her know we’re hitched."

Mal shook his head. “Speak to River. Then you both come and ask me. I'm not making that girl do anything she doesn’t want.”

“Mal –“

“Talk to her.”

“But I –“

“Half the damn trouble on board this boat is ‘cause people don’t converse with each other properly. So don’t go thinking that was a suggestion, Jayne. Talk to her.”

to be continued


Tuesday, January 8, 2008 1:54 AM


Oh I loved this, and Mal having that little conversation with Jayne at the end was just perfect. I'm also hoping that they find a way to have the Captain marry them so Jayne's mom can be there to see it. I know, highly unlikely it can happen that way, but wouldn't it be shiny? I also loved the conversations with River and Mal explaining that you can't alter fate that way, that she needs to trust them and let them help her. Lovely all round, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 3:09 AM


I'm so glad this was up, been looking for it all DAY. Great job, as always.

I can't help but laugh at Mal's need to be in charge of even the personal lives of his crew though. He makes River cry, then threatens Jayne about being nice? What a great guy. that's why I just don't like Mal, ROFL.

Loved it as always. I can see this one playing out on the screen in my little mind, which means the characters are down and locked. Good job!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 9:40 AM


My comment disappeared earlier. So, here goes again! Short of shaking her silly, I enjoyed Mal's talk with River. The future is not set, regardless of her abilities, and it's good that it's been pointed out to her. :D

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 5:53 PM


Loved the talk with River and Mal. River needs to brush up on her Greek tragedies - Oedipus might be interesting reading.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 6:33 PM


Mal really is becoming a father figure to River. Both loving and stern at the same time. I just hope she listened to him.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008 4:35 AM


It was great seeing Mal put his foot down to just about everyone he ran into. Real Captainy. :)


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[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]