BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

World Without End - Part VII
Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Back to more fluffy stuff in this story. River talks to Freya, then gets Mal involved in her plans. Oh, and there's food. NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1836    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

“He wants to marry me,” River said, making patterns in the flour on the counter. They’d been having at least half-way decent food since Lancaster’s supply pick-up, and they’d even managed to get a job delivering some legitimate cargo from a nearby moon to Omnium.

Freya pushed at her face where a stray hair was irritating, leaving a white streak down her skin. It was her turn to cook, and as much as she appreciated the company, she was having to concentrate not to get this wrong. “I think we all know that, honey.”

River put her head onto one side, staring at the image she’d created, then sprinkled more flour to wipe it out. “But I'm not sure it’s time.” She glanced down at her swelling belly. “Even though this one will be born in wedlock.”

“Mal will be pleased to hear that.” She poured the batter into the hot fat, spitting in the tin.

“But Jayne wants it now. He’s afraid.”

“That you’ll leave?” Freya looked up at her. “I thought you’d got over that.”

“I have. He’s still worried. Deep down. Where he thinks I can’t see.”

Freya chuckled. “Thinks that static is keeping him safe?”

“His feelings are so strong.”

“Have you spoken to him?” She slid the tin into the oven and closed the door.

I'm afraid.”

“River, he loves you. He wants to marry you. You want to marry him. What’s the difference if it’s now or in a month?” She touched the young woman’s face tenderly. “Besides, if you wait much longer you won’t be able to enjoy it. All you’ll be thinking about is how big you are, and how much you need to –“

“I get the picture,” River said hastily, squirming just a little.

Freya smiled and turned back to the counter, putting the bowls into the sink. “You’re meant to be together, xaio nu. Anyone can see that.”

River sighed.

---

“The baby’s growing well,” Simon said, smiling at his sister. “In about seven weeks you’ll be holding him.”

“I'm glad. I feel huge.” She looked down at her belly.

“You’re going to get bigger. And that’s actually something I wanted to speak to you about.” He put on his ‘doctor’ face. “You’re slender, River. Petite. And with the way this baby is growing, he could be big. I want you to consider perhaps having an elective caesarean.”

Her face screwed up. “You mean not give birth?”

“River, Jayne’s a big man. It stands to reason his children are probably going to be on the large size too. Your baby’s already quite a bit bigger than I’d have expected, if the father was normal.” He almost, but not quite, took a step back from the look she was giving him. “Now, I'm not asking you to make the decision now, but I want you to talk this over with him. If the baby does get too big, I don’t want to be having this conversation at the last minute whilst you’re throwing knives at me.”

She laughed. “I wouldn’t throw knives, silly.” She patted his arm. “Scalpels only.”

“Oh, thanks,” he said dryly. “But talk to him.” He turned to put away his scanner. “Oh, and Kaylee wanted me to ask you if you’ve decided when you’re going to get married?”

River sighed. Again.

---

“What’s this?” Kaylee asked, poking at her dinner.

“Savoury batter pudding,” Freya explained.

“Yeah, but … what is it?” She glanced up.

“I don’t actually know,” the older woman admitted. “River wanted me to make it.”

“My Ma used to make it when I was a kid, when Matty or me was sick,” Jayne put in, silencing them all. “I figure she read it someplace in my mind, and thought it might make me feel ... better.”

“Does it?” River asked.

He smiled slightly, just the corner of his mouth lifting. “Not sure yet.”

“Then taste it and find out.”

“Or don’t taste it and let your memories remain unsullied,” Hank added, eyeing his plate warily. “What are these bits?”

“Protein cubes,” Freya said. “I think it’s supposed to be pork, but as we don’t have any …”

Mal hummed under his breath, peering at the wedge in front of him.

“It’s good,” Simon said around a mouthful. “No, honestly,” he added, seeing their looks.

“Yeah, but you’ve got no taste,” Hank pointed out.

“Excuse me, but I do.” Simon glared at the pilot. “I have refined tastes, actually. I just don’t get to practice them that often anymore. At least not here.”

“Caviar and champagne?” Zoe offered, remembering a conversation they’d had once.

“Exactly. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate good, wholesome food.” He took another bite.

“Wholesome?” Mal queried, then suppressed a yelp as Freya kicked him. “No, no, it’s good.” He broke a piece off with his fork and put it into his mouth. “See?” He was more than a little surprised to find out that he wasn't actually lying.

“It’s my fault,” River said, tears suddenly threatening to stream down her cheeks. “I thought it might remind him of good times with his mother, but all it’s done is make everyone annoyed …” She got up somewhat awkwardly from her chair and ran out.

Freya went to stand up, but Jayne shook his head. “No. This is mine.” He followed her out.

River had run to the cargo bay, and was sitting on the floor, building a tower with Ethan’s bricks then knocking it down again.

“What’s up, moonbrain?” he said as he joined her on the deck. “Frey’s gone to all that trouble, and you don’t eat anything.”

“Not hungry.”

“Course you are. Eating for two.” He nodded towards her belly.

“Why do you want to marry me?” she asked suddenly. “Isn’t being together enough?”

He didn’t speak for a long while, and she wished she could delve into his head, pick out his thoughts, but today it was back to trying to wade through cotton candy. Then he pulled her into his chest and sighed. “Course it is, River. But I want our kid born right. Be a Cobb.”

“He will be. That’s who his father is.”

“Not if we ain't married.”

“We will. There’s forty-eight days to go. And I will marry you before the forty-eighth.”

“It’s just …” He clamped his lips shut, but not before an image of his mother had formed in his mind, and it was strong enough to pierce the static.

Suddenly she understood. “Oh, Jayne,” she whispered.

He didn’t realise she’d seen. “I … I asked Mal if he’d do it. On board Serenity. As he’s captain,” Jayne admitted.

“That would be nice, but he’s going to give me away.” Oh, that was a good idea. Now, if she did it quietly enough …

“Ain't Simon gonna do that?”

“No, he’s going to be best man.” And it would be easy to …

Jayne looked shocked. “Hey, no, don’t I get a say in that?”

“Of course not.” She snuggled closer. “Best man. And then you’ll tell him I will have this baby normally.”

“Normally?” He looked down into her face. “Why, what’s he said?”

Her mind sidetracked. “That our son is going to be big, and I may not be able to deliver him naturally.”

“He talking about cutting you open?”

“Asked me to consider it.”

He pushed her away so that he could look her directly in the eye. “Then you consider it. River, I've seen it happen. Only the once, but … and I ain't gonna have that happen to you. Woman on board a freighter I was working, her time came early, only she was just a little thing, no bigger’n you. And we didn’t have no medic, let alone a real proper doctor. She died. So did the baby. Only it took a long while.” He hugged her back against his chest. “No, River. If your prissy bro says we might have to do that, then we do. I ain't losing you. Either of you.”

“I‘ll think about it.” She sighed and laid her head in his lap, just as an odd noise emanated from her stomach, something between a growl and a groan.

He laughed out loud this time. “Come on,” he said. “You got Frey to make that for me. Only right we go and eat it.”

She sat up and kissed him lightly on the lips. “I love you, Jayne.”

“Better, moonbrain. ‘Cause you’re kinda stuck with me.”

“Like glue.”

“Yeah. Like glue.”

River giggled softly, then let him lift her to her feet, her mind already busy with plans.

---

“Persephone.”

Mal looked round from the bridge console where he was taking the late watch, checking everything was okay before turning the ship to its night cycle. “What’s that, albatross?”

River stood in the doorway, barefoot as usual, her dress pushing forward from the bulge in her belly. “Persephone.”

“And? I mean, was it just a word you needed to use to get it out of your head - and I’ve had words like that myself - or was there a specific reason?” He raised his eyebrows at her.

“We need to get to Persephone.”

“Need to. And why would that be, little one?” Ever since the incident on Lancaster, he’d been worried she’d keep him to his promise to take her someplace more civilized to be let off, even though she seemed to have made her peace with things, for which he was more than grateful.

“Not so little.” She smiled and ran a hand lightly over her stomach.

“Nope, maybe not. But you’ll always be to me.”

“I know, Daddy.” The smile widened to a grin as he winced, and she floated across the floor to sit down in the co-pilot’s seat. “We have to get to Persephone. It’s the closest point of intersection and everyone can get there, but if we don’t change course now we’ll be too late.”

“For what?” He shook his head. “River, you need to be more -”

“The wedding.”

“Whose?”

“Mine.”

“What?”

She explained what she wanted. “Only you can’t tell anyone.”

Mal chuckled. “How long’ve you been planning this?”

“As soon as I understood. A couple of hours.”

“Couple of …” He shook his head. “You thought all this up since dinner time?”

“Most of it was decided on in the first five minutes while we ate.”

Mal stirred uneasily. “Just don’t go asking Frey to cook that again, will you? It lies kinda heavy.”

“It was nice.”

“Oh, not saying it wasn’t tasty,” Mal put in quickly. “It was. But it doesn’t seem to want to shift.”

“Freya will help you.” She put her head on one side. “Make it better.”

“I think she might at that.” He studied her. “So Jayne told you? About his Ma?”

She sighed heavily. “Not with words. He wouldn’t come out and inform me directly.”

“He’s a man, River. We don’t. That’s what makes us such fun to live with.”

“But you mustn’t tell either. Anyone.” She glared at him. “You have to promise.”

“You do realise there’s two other Readers on this boat?” Mal said, smiling. “One of whom happens to be my wife.”

“I’m sure you can keep a secret, Captain.” She tried to draw her heels up onto the seat but her unborn child stopped her, and she sighed in irritation. She contented herself with stretching her legs out as far as she could under the console, extending her feet like the dancer she was.

“See, that’s part of the problem,” Mal pointed out. “She’ll know I’m keeping one, and that can make life all kinds of uncomfortable for me.”

“She’d never stop you doing that.”

He suppressed the blush ruthlessly. “Thought you had too much static to go rummaging around in people’s minds?”

“Didn’t need to see anything to know what you were thinking about.” She smiled at him.

He couldn’t help but grin back. “Yeah, well, maybe I do. But she’ll still know.”

“Then tell her some.”

“Still know there’s more.”

River seemed to deflate a little. “Then I suppose …”

Mal didn’t like the look of unhappiness that crossed his little albatross’s face. “River, I know you want to keep this close, make it a surprise for everyone. But this is a lot to do. And I could do with a hand. And Frey could help you too, make sure everything you wanted was being done.”

She considered. “I suppose. And mothers are meant to be involved in their daughter’s wedding plans.”

“She ain’t your mother,” Mal denied, but only half-heartedly.

River jumped to her feet, still almost lithe despite her increasing bulk. “Of course she is.” She turned to leave.

“Whoa, there, hold it!” Mal said quickly. “Where do you think you’re going?”

She looked back at him. “It’s traditional,” she said, as if it explained everything.

“What?”

“Parents arrange weddings. Daughters sit back and let them. And cry a lot, at least according to Hank’s romance novels.”

“That ain’t how it’s gonna be, River.” Mal looked at her sternly from under his eyebrows.

“It doesn’t work,” she said, smiling at him. “Trying to be cross with me. Besides, I have to go wave Inara. And Mrs Cobb.” She fixed him with her dark eyes. “There won’t be a problem with this, will there?”

“No, no, I think I can manage the other arrangements.”

“Good!” She hugged herself. “How long?”

“What? Oh, I guess, with …” He calculated quickly in his head. “Near twelve days. Say two weeks.”

“Two weeks?” She looked aghast. Running through all the possible permutations she could only lower his estimate by one day.

“And that’s if there’s transport. It ain't like everything’s that close right now, and it might take a while to get something, especially out to –“

“Two weeks.” She stared at him, her eyes huge in the dim light.

“Maybe a coupla days less. And that’ll give us enough time to drop off that cargo we’re carrying and still make it to Persephone.”

“Mmn.”

He stood up and put his hands on her shoulders. “She that bad?”

“Perhaps. Perhaps not. But …” River thought hard for a moment then her mood changed mercurially. “Enough time!” She grinned widely.

“But –”

“I’m happy!” She span on her heel and was gone, passing Hank in a swirl of fabric and running feet.

“Is that pregnancy ever gonna slow her down?” Hank asked, coming onto the bridge to see what the fuss was about.

“I doubt it, least not from the evidence.”

“She makes me exhausted just watching her.”

Mal grinned. “Me too.” He watched as Hank scanned the settings, making sure nothing was amiss, despite knowing that Serenity’s captain was perfectly capable of flying a straight line. “Shouldn’t you be with your not-quite-yet wife and baby?”

“Zoe’s trying to get him to sleep. I figured I’d leave her to it.”

“That ain't fair, Hank.”

“Probably not, but I thought I’d sit here a while. Look at the stars. Maybe get poetical.”

“Not getting far with those novels you’re writing?”

Hank sighed, dropping into the pilot’s chair. “I appear to have caught a severe case of writer’s block.”

“Well, just make sure it ain’t contagious and you don’t pass it on to anyone. Somehow I doubt the doc’s got anything like a cure for that.”

“Unfortunately, I’ve already asked and he said no,” Hank admitted.

“Did he laugh too?”

“Oh, yeah.”

Mal turned to the door, then looked back. “By the way, soon as we’ve dropped cargo we’ll be heading to Persephone.”

“We got a job?” Hank looked up at him in surprise.

“Yeah.” Mal smiled slightly. “And I’ll be needing secure Cortex access from my bunk for a while. Few things to finalise.”

“Sure. Anyone in particular?”

“No, no,” Mal said, walking off the bridge. “Just putting out feelers.”

---

“Mama!” Ben said, standing up on his bed in the tiny nursery off the main bunk, holding onto the side and bouncing.

“Aren’t you tired yet?” Zoe asked, sitting next to him. He laughed, reaching out for her curls, burying his fingers in them. “Seems not.” She disentangled his little hand and made him lie down. “Come on, sweetheart. Try again. For Mama.”

“Mama!” He pushed the blanket away, grinning.

“Ben …” She wasn't going to get annoyed with him. Just so long as she kept telling herself he’d grow out of this phase …

“Zoe?” River’s voice floated down the open hatch. “Can we talk?”

Zoe looked up. “Can you make Ben sleepy?”

River stepped down the ladder. “I can try.”

“Only he seems to want to keep going tonight.”

River sat down next to the little boy, stroking his head, humming softly. It wasn’t anything recognisable, but within a minute his eyes were closing, and he slid into sleep, his thumb in his mouth.

“How –“ Zoe began, but River held up a hand, pointing out of the nursery. They both got up as carefully as possible and left the room, sliding the door across. “– did you do that?”

“He wanted to sleep. I just showed him how.”

For once Zoe didn’t mind River’s mind tricks. “Can you teach me?”

River grinned. “I'm getting in practice,” she said, stroking her stomach.

“River, practice all you like on me and mine.” Zoe smiled and sat down on the chair by the dressing table. “Now, what can I do for you?”

“I wanted to ask you something. Or rather, tell you something. No, ask you –“

Zoe interrupted before the young woman got herself in too deep. “River. What is it?”

“Can you keep a secret?”

to be continued

COMMENTS

Wednesday, January 9, 2008 2:19 AM

AMDOBELL


Had to laugh at River wanting to keep a secret then selectively telling people. Wonder how long it will be before the whole boat knows - just hope that at least Jayne doesn't twig. I want to see his face when he finds out who will be at the wedding! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, January 9, 2008 8:59 AM

BADKARMA00


That was just too cute. I'm glad to see River getting, well, is better the right word? Though for some reason I see the whole natural birth thing becoming a problem down the road.

Great chapter! Always looking for more!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008 9:44 AM

SLUMMING


Lovely chapter! Nice to have some fluff after you almost made me believe you were going to kill off Jayne! :D

Wednesday, January 9, 2008 4:35 PM

KATESFRIEND


I like fluff, especially after angst. Kind of gives you the will to live again after THAT much angst.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008 4:41 AM

COLT999


Nice chapter. Jayne not having much say in the planning after he was the one pushing for it was great.


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“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

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He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

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“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.

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