Part 5

When the time came for the crew to split up to go supply shopping and enjoy a general feeling of "we finally got to town'iness," River knew that she wouldn't get a better chance for one on one time with Zoë.

She caught the taller woman's eye and cut her eyes to the door. Zoë gave an imperceptible nod, stood, and spoke up. "I think I'll take River around and introduce her to some of the vendors. Without an introduction, you know they'd try to rob her blind."

Mal agreed and they all arranged to meet back here in three hours to go set up their new business with Badger. Kaylee and Simon were ordered to do their shopping so they could go back to Serenity and send Jayne to them as backup for the meeting. Then the crew abandoned Mal and Inara to pay for their meal

Simon and Kaylee wandered off to look through the parts yard and stop to see what they could afford for medical supplies and Zoë led River to the fuel yards.

"What did you need, little one?" Zoë asked quietly, eyes discreetly watching for any signs of danger. River watched her for a moment before speaking.

"How blunt do you want me to be?" River asked softly. She knew how fragile a balance Zoë was treading and how difficult the road had been to this small amount of inner peace.

Zoë looked at her with narrowed eyes and sighed. "It's about Wash, isn't it?"

River nodded. "Actually it's about you and Wash."

River explained her dream in a quiet, matter of fact voice. She talked about what she had gathered from the sleep conversation with Wash and what it could mean, both to the ship and to the tall woman walking beside her. Dream Wash had talked about growing up under pollution laden skies and the prodigious rates of birth defects on his home planet. When he realized that her determination to have a child with him was truly serious, he had gone to Simon and discreetly requested a genetic scan on a sample of his genetic material.

River continued on to tell Zoë about being able to see flashes of the conversation, with Wash asking Simon to check to make sure his tadpoles weren't tyrannosaurs before he complied with his wife's request.

Zoë laughed with a little shine in her eyes before turning away. She looked back at River and nodded to indicate that she understood before continuing on to their fuel dealer.

After an uneventful introduction to the fuel dealer and the obligatory haggle over the prices being charged, Zoë and River returned to the designated meeting place. They ordered coffee and sat down to wait for the others to return.

Zoë looked at River, then away before asking "do you know if it will work? I mean, do you know for SURE that it'll take?"

"I try not to look too hard because it confuses everything. There are too many variables and too many different possibilities. It could work, it could not work, or the world could end tomorrow. Ok, that last one probably isn't going to happen, but you get the idea." River patted Zoë's hand as she spoke, "I can tell you that the odds are good."

Zoë looked thoughtful and watched Mal walk into the nearly empty food joint, "It's going to be hard explaining a little one to the Captain."

River smiled and turned to greet Mal murmuring an aside to Zoë, "Not as hard as you think."

She felt a little tingle along her nerve endings and paused, sending out feelers to find out what she needed to know. There he was, just crossing the street outside, and yelling at Mal to hold the door. Feeling Jayne entering her standard awareness space told her what she needed to know. The emotional wake she'd gotten caught up in this morning was from him.