A/N: This is the longest one so far. I probably could've cut certain parts out, but c'mon. Jayne. Srsly. He's a complete tool and I love him to itty-bitty pieces. :D

Anyway.

I've decided the baby's name is Caden, but couldn't find a proper place to put it in. Thought some people would like to know. (And for those who are even more curious: Caden means 'fighter'.)

Enjoy!

Gift

It is in the middle of dinner, and in the middle of a laugh that River stops, pays attention. Her hand slips quietly from atop the table, checks to make sure. It is confirmed; there is leakage.

One day, weeks from now, Simon will tell her that all of her important announcements seem to happen at dinner, and they will laugh. Right now she doesn't know whether to grin or panic. So many different kinds of fear.

"I am going to explode," she announces to the table at large. And once again, they don't seem to catch on as she would like. Perhaps she ought to change her speech patterns, but that is a thought for later.

Mal gets the meaning first, before she can even correct. "Wait, explode… you mean- wo de ma, the baby?!"

Everything is a rush as chairs are toppled. Mal runs out, and back in again; forgot the important parts. He and Simon come to help her up and she lets them, even though she can stand on her own. Makes them feel better, and there will be plenty of time for screaming at them both soon enough.

"Jayne!" Zoe is about to club him on the head as he sits, still eating.

He stops shoveling food into his mouth long enough to respond. "What? Just 'cause Mal went and got Crazy all knocked up, don't mean it has to screw up my dinner."

River laughs at the Jayne-ness of it, a moment of calm before the storm. Tugs gentle on the arms of her two escorts, urging them forward. People come around in their own time, Jayne especially.

"Rhythm is getting faster," she says as she lays back on the infirmary bed. Looks at Simon preparing instruments. Today of all days to deliver, out in the black, 'corner of no and where'. Tendrils of thought wrap around her brain, seep in. It is not the delivery he fears, but the seeing. Such a brother thought. She would smile if not for the sudden contraction.

"Abnormally fast hormones," she grits out between clenched teeth, "Delivery should be quick."

"Right, okay…" His gloves are on and Simon Tam is checking the dilation of his own sister. He is Doctor now; tomorrow he will find it more disturbing.

xxx

Three hours later finds a table turned over, and Mal's hand wrapped up and slightly bruised. And there in River's arms lay a baby girl, so familiar though she's not seen her face until now.

River smiles sleepy up at Mal. "Half you, half me."

Depth of his eyes, new chasms created for tiny hands that squeeze his finger. Love.

"Figures. Came into the world backward and too damn quick." He smiles as he says it, and so does she.


A/N2: Just a note about breach birth. Really, I only hinted at it, but thought I should say something. Generally, it would be complicated and not a good thing, especially when there is only one doctor present. But if I can suspend my disbelief, I think most others can as well. I mean, this is, what? 500 or so years in the future, give or take? I'm guessing we've come up with some pretty cool things by then, and if not we should be extinct. ;P And even if nobody on Serenity could afford cool equipment that might be needed during a breach birth, they could all afford to steal it.

Just sayin'. :D