It hurt so bad.

Kaylee had been shot, but she had never felt hurt like this. Pain seared through her back; then it dulled. She was glad for the break, because she was in danger of waking Simon. He was lying next to her, sleeping, he needed the rest. The ship had been crazy lately with injuries; nothing big, just a lot of little things that kept him beyond busy. Kaylee was hesitant to wake him for a pain that came and went. Through her haze of thoughts for Simon, the pain came again; right at the bottom of her spine. This time, she couldn't hold back the scream of pain.

"Wha-?" Simon started and instinctively reached for her. He grabbed her shoulder and, shaking his head a moment, he asked, "Kaylee, are you okay?"

"Fine," she gasped. She was straining, trying to sound fine. "Sorry, just…uh…" She let out another scream of pain. "That ain't right!" She pressed her hands to her round stomach. "Simon, my back…" Her words trailed off, she would tell him in a minute, right now she couldn't even talk.

Simon waited for her to continue, but had already discerned the problem. She was having contractions, bad ones if she couldn't even talk through them.

"Bao bei, where does it hurt?" He asked. He had sat up and moved her head to his lap. He began stroking her hair in what he hoped to be a soothing fashion.

Calming from the passing contraction, she told him, "My back, I ain't never had so much pain, and it gets really bad, then it isn't so bad, but it still hurts." Simon could see the tears in her eyes, and he wanted to just fix it, but he knew he couldn't. "It's happenin, right?" Kaylee asked. "But it's too soon!"

"Yes, it appears you are in labor," Simon said. "I know it feels like too soon, but thirty six weeks is sometimes normal. I can get you some pain medication, but it will only slow the process down."

"Aren't we wantin to slow it down?" Kaylee asked confused. "We won't be at my folk's for another two weeks. Still got a job to do between now and then." It had taken a lot of cajoling but the captain had agreed to take Kaylee back to her parent's home. They had hoped to deliver the baby there, but it seemed the baby had different plans.

"We can't make the baby wait until then." Simon told her, squeezing her hand. "When I say slow it down, I mean a few hours, not days. How often are the contractions coming?" he asked trying to determine how far in she was.

He had spent the last seven months studying medical journals, learning all about the specifics of childbirth. Sure, as a doctor he was more capable to deliver a baby than most, but he was a surgeon, and this was not his area of expertise. This would be his second, and he wanted to be much more prepared than the first time. The crew had worked hard to find him places to get the proper equipment, the right drugs; everyone was so intent on making sure Kaylee was okay, along with her precious cargo.

"I guess bout every ten minutes or so." Kaylee answered, dragging him from his thoughts. "Are you sure these are contractions, it's my back that hurts, not my belly. And it ain't a set thing," she added, not wanting to believe she was in labor. "It don't stop, just isn't as bad in between." She wanted it to be a false alarm, just some pain. She so desperately wanted to have her Mama there, and be more prepared, she hadn't finished painting the nursery. She hadn't finished the blanket, they hadn't even decided on a name yet.

"There are different kinds of labor and contractions," Simon said, switching over to his medical self. "I believe you are in back labor." Doctor mode was easier sometimes. He didn't have time to worry if he was looking at it from a clinical view. Kaylee hated it when he did it, but he had to, otherwise, things could be like before. "Let's get you to the infirmary. I want to check the baby's heartbeat, and monitor yours too."

She rolled her eyes. "Simon, let's just go back to sleep, I'm fine. Really, I could go reroute the air filtration systems right now without a…" she grimaced, and started kicking her legs, thinking that might help the pain dissipate. "You win," she gasped. "It's hurts!"

----

River sat upright with a scream "Kaylee!"

Jayne rolled over and tried to lay her back down with an arm across her chest, "Lay down, go to sleep, Kaylee's fine." His voice was gruff from sleep. But she wouldn't lie back down.

Nobody knew River slept there. After Kaylee and Simon had gotten married, she was scared Simon wouldn't hear her if she had a nightmare. However, she didn't want to pull him away from Kaylee either. So, she went to Jayne. He didn't get it at first, but he knew not the fight the little thing that could kill him with her brain. He just let it be, and took to holding her like a child holds a teddy bear. He figured that was what she needed. Didn't bother him none. He wouldn't admit the fact, it could get him a cold walk in the black, but he liked havin' her there.

"Baby's coming, gotta go help," River yelled. She put her feet on the floor and made it to the ladder. "Jayne, get up and help!"

"Baby ain't gonna be here for 'nother month." He grunted. "And Kaylee's got Simon, what's she need my help for? You can run about the ship all you want, I'm stayin' here, best not let anybody catch you comin' outta my bunk….don't feel like getting spaced tonight." Jayne rolled over. All of a sudden he was pulled by his shoulders and his feet were planted on the floor. Gorramit, that girl was the strongest little thing he'd ever seen. "Wode tian…all right, I'm comin'."

----

Simon helped Kaylee onto the exam table, grabbing wires and turning on machines in the infirmary, definitely in doctor mode now. Kaylee was a little grateful for that, though she didn't usually like doctor mode, maybe he could get rid of some of this hurt.

"Everything seems to be normal, the heart beat is steady and your blood pressure is good," Simon assured her. "Let's just get you comfortable, okay?" Just as he said it, another one of her blood curdling screams wrenched him out of his comfort zone. "Kaylee, you have to breathe. Remember how Inara taught you how to breathe?"

"She's breathin' just fine if she can let one rip like that. Maybe you need to dope her up." Jayne was standing at the door. This was gonna be funny. He knew during the birthin' of babies all kinds of nice things came out a woman's mouth, but he could tell Simon was not prepared for it. He didn't worry none about Kaylee's care, Simon could handle that, but the look on his face was just plain fear. "She ain't gonna die or nothing Doc, just might make your ball sack a handle."

Simon turned at the vulgar man's comment. "Anyone not helping, leave!" Jayne turned to sit on the couch outside the infirmary. "Told ya little one," he said to River as she passed him on her way in. "Nothing your brother can't handle."

River put a hand on Simon's shoulder and one on Kaylee's belly. "Baby's ready, even if you aren't. What can I do?"

"Make it stop hurtin' River, you got superpowers ain't ya?" Kaylee begged, before screaming once more.

"Go wake Inara," Simon instructed his sister, needing a little assistance so he wouldn't crack. "She can help Kaylee with her breathing."

River nodded and headed out.

"Jayne's right, I think this breathing gou pi is a joke." Kaylee was sweating and very irritable. But for now, she wasn't in too much pain.

River bounded back into the room, with Inara in tow. "Got her Simon, brought Cap't, too."

"Mei mei, I know it hurts, but breathe with me," Inara took Kaylee's hand and started breathing with her. She had suggested it to Simon months ago, she would teach Kaylee how to meditate and that should hold off the pain until it became too much to bear. Then Simon could giver her a pain block for the really hard stuff. That was the original plan, the problem with the baby coming early was the pain block. Simon didn't have a chance to get enough of the drug. He had been hoping to pick up more on Boros when they did the job, but well, since it wasn't time for the job, this was going to be problematic. He had enough for the pain of pushing, but she was going to have to wait for it. This was going to be a long night.

"Ya got sumpin to give her Doc?" Mal asked. "She ain't gonna last long like this." He knew that they were short on the medicine, but he couldn't watch little Kaylee like this and he didn't know how Doc could sit there without breaking the stuff out for her.

"I can't!" Simon argued. "She'll be in more pain when it comes time to push. She will have to breathe through it until then. I don't have enough of the pain block." Mal could tell Simon was starting to waver a little with the frustrated panting from Kaylee.

"Can you boys take it outside for a moment, we are trying to relax here?!" Inara was speaking in a whisper, but her tone was yelling at them. With a look that could chill a supernova, the men backed out slowly, not breaking eye contact with her until they were in the common area. She turned back to Kaylee and called over her shoulder for River to bring her bag of goodies. River brought the bag in and helped Inara set up some incense and began playing some soft music in the infirmary.

"Mal, you have to know, I want to give it to her," Simon pleaded his case. "But I can't! Her pain is just going to get worse."

"You know what your problem is, you just turn off your feelin's," Mal retorted. "Look at her, she needs sumpin. She ain't gonna make it. You put her in this hurt, you fix it!"

Simon was shocked at his harsh words. Of course, he helped put her in this position, but she wanted it. He thought back to the look on her face just about two years ago.

"Simon, what's happenin? It ain't my time…why is there so much blood?" He was in Kaylee's bunk, trying to help, but he was shocked, like she was. Where was it coming from? As Kaylee grabbed her middle and yelped in pain, he knew.

"Kaylee, we need to get you to the infirmary. You're losing a lot of blood." He tried to keep the worry out of his voice, tried to be calm. Hoisting her up the ladder, he guided her down to the infirmary. Thoughts were spinning through his mind as they walked… he knew what was happening, he just couldn't believe it.

Shortly after the Miranda incident, they had given into their feelings, well he had given in. The fact that River seemed to be better, and the thought that he could have lost everyone around him, changed his outlook. They had been sharing a bed for just under three months. Simon loved her, but he didn't know how to proceed. If he were on Osiris, there would be rules for dating, for falling in love, if that ever actually happened. Out here, he didn't know what the procedure was. Spending the rest of his life with her was high on his list of priorities, but should he ask to marry her? Would she want that?

Kaylee groaned and it knocked him out of his thoughts. "Just a little further, bao bei,"he encouraged.

As he helped her onto the table she looked at him with fear in her eyes. "Simon, what is it? You know, don't you?"

"You are miscarrying." The words sounded harsh and foreign coming out of his mouth, he almost faltered when he heard them himself.

The fear turned into horror, as if he had just told her Reavers were coming. "But, I…I..uh, I can't be, I ain't pregnant. I'm takin' those pills you gave me."

He couldn't keep his eyes on her face, it was too much. There was no other reason for all the blood. He mentally counted how long it had been since her last menstrual and it seemed he was right. Seven weeks was too long, and this was too much blood to be her monthly.

He rubbed his face with his hand and shook his head clear. "Kaylee, I need to give you some drugs to help you clot, to stop the bleeding. Then I am going to have to examine you. The drugs will make you a little sleepy. You don't have to go to sleep, but you can if you want."

"You can't just say that and then go on like it's just a regular boo boo you gonna kiss better." She grabbed his arm. He was shirtless, hadn't bothered to put a shirt on when he was so worried about helping her. "Simon, how did this happen?"

"Pills aren't one hundred percent. It happens sometimes. I'm sorry." Simon didn't know what to say, he could see she was hurt, beyond the physical pain she was feeling.

"What in the gorram is all this blood? There's a trail of it down my ship!" Mal stopped when he saw Kaylee on the table holding fast to Simon's arm. Simon was standing there and they appeared to be havin' a sad kind of staring contest. They both jumped at his intrusion.

"Kaylee, I'm going to give you the drugs now," Simon said. He had to focus.

"Okay," she said. He injected her and she went slack immediately. "I'm thinkin' I'm gonna sleep Simon." That was the reaction he'd been hoping for. It would be a lot easier to help if she wasn't conscious. This was hard enough, knowing that it was his baby too that had been lost.

He turned to Mal, "I have to work now. She has lost a lot of blood."

"I can see that, I wanna know why she is bleedin'? And why you seem so cold bout it?" Mal was worried for her, she was the closest thing he had to a sister and he didn't like to find his kin bleedin' all over his boat in the middle of the night from some unknown wound.

Simon looked uneasy for a moment, then he slipped back into doctor mode. "She is miscarrying. I have to go in and check her uterus and see why there is so much blood. It's too much even for this."

"When were you gonna tell me bout this baby?" Mal demanded, shocked and scared for Kaylee. When he had those feelings floating in his head, anger tended to come out his mouth. "When she delivered?"

"We didn't know, until about twenty minutes ago, so, if you are through with your line of questioning…"

"Snap out of it Simon," Mal yelled. "Your woman is in there bleeding, maybe to death, and you are acting like she just stubbed her toe. How can you be so cold?"

Simon did snap, but not out of it. "If I don't act like a doctor instead of her lover I will break down and I will be of no use to her," he barked. "I need to go in and help her, excuse me." He left Mal standing there flummoxed. Simon didn't come out with his emotions; didn't wear them on his sleeve like Kaylee. And it was odd to be let in on them.

As Simon walked in to see Kaylee, River appeared at Mal's side and brought him to the couch. "Sit, he will fix her, always does."

"How did you know? You poking in people's heads?"

"No, just heard the yelling."

"Hmm, well, let's hope nobody else heard. Don't need the whole ship worryin'."

-----

"Simon, can you come in for a minute?" Inara called from the door.

"Yes, what is it?" Worried, he followed her in.

"Hey, sweetie, how are you feeling?" Kaylee asked from the bed. Simon felt a surge of guilt. Kaylee was asking him how he was? He didn't deserve her. He'd always known it, but sometimes he felt it more than others.

"I'm fine, you're the one that is about to have a rough day. Is the breathing helping?"

"Yea, 'Nara got me feelin' all better. I think you and Capt' need to quit arguin' it ain't doin anybody any good. So, quit it." Kaylee prodded. "We gonna keep headin' to Boros for the job?" Kaylee prodded.

"We didn't exactly discuss it. He was a little too busy telling my how to do my job."

"Well, I bet you can get some more meds there. So, let's keep on headin' there, yeah? I know if Jayne can get down to the engine room and pull the burners we can make it faster. Ah!" She started to breathe obviously feeling the pull of a contraction.

Simon was impressed that she could think through all the pain. She was exceptional. "Um, right, I'll let him know. Everything seems okay with the baby, so I'll be right back."

Relaying the information to Mal set everything into motion and according to River's calculations they would arrive on Boros in eight hours. Simon hoped that Kaylee could last that long.

-----

"We ready to burn?" River asked without turning around.

"Yeah, go on, little witch. I fixed it up like Kaylee said." Jayne didn't even blink. He was getting used to River's quirks, one of them being you couldn't sneak up on her. It used to bug him, now it was kinda comfy. They had gotten close lately, even closer than just the sleepin'. Truth be told, since Miranda his thoughts of her had changed. When those blast doors opened and he saw her standing there amongst the bodies he had to admit, he ain't never seen such an exhilarating sight.

"Kaylee will be fine. Simon will fix her. Fixes everybody."

Jayne started. "What I tell you bout getting in my head?" he snapped. That was part of the unspoken deal. He would keep her nightmares at bay and she wouldn't poke around in his head.

"Didn't have to go looking, you were staring off into space," River said, "Don't act like you're mad, you aren't."

"Quit that!"

"I didn't do anything."

"Then how'd you know I wasn't really mad?"

"You just told me."

Dang it, if she weren't smart.

"Thank you, but you're smart in a different way than River."

"Now, I know your doin' it!" he crowed. "But, that means I win, I caught you!" Proud as pie that he'd won, he started to go.

River turned to look at him. "Check on them, please."

"You said Kaylee would be fine, why I gotta check on her for you?" If she was the reader, how come he had to do the leg work? Not as if he wasn't going back down to the common room anyway. But still.

"I meant Simon, he's nervous and scared. He just won't admit it. Please, check on him."

"I'll be right back." He couldn't blame Simon for being scared. If it were his kid gonna be born, he'd be nervous too. Plus there was that whole thing couple years ago. That's why everybody on the ship had been fussin' over Kaylee anyway.

"What the gorram? Whose blood is this?" Jayne yelled. He had just come outta his bunk and was headin' to the galley. It started at Kaylee's bunk, and that thought shook him. He followed the trail and came to a halt as he saw Mal and River on the couch. "What's wrong with Kaylee?"

"She had a baby, now it's gone. Simon's making it better." River looked calm, but the captain looked downright haggard.

"Apparently our dear doctor and Kaylee been having some relations and now Kaylee might be bleeding to death." Mal sounded rough and Jayne guessed he had been up a while.

If Simon was in there with her, Jayne wasn't too worried. He knew that Doc wouldn't let Kaylee die, but he had seen a lot of blood on the way here. "Give me a holler when you know something." River nodded and smiled.

Jayne preferred to have something to do rather than sit around and think on what was happening. Grabbing some rags from the cargo bay Jayne started to wipe up the trail of blood. He wished Book was still around. He coulda offered a prayer and what not. As he worked he thought back to River's statement and found it odd that he understood her. He brushed it off as she was less crazy since Miranda, but then again, maybe he was just getting' to understand her better. He shivered at that thought. Did that make him a little crazy?

He felt her hand on his shoulder. He bristled. "Don't sneak up on me," he growled, and then he remembered he had asked her to keep him posted. A little nicer, he continued, "Your brother done?"

"Apparently it was superficial. Looked like more than it was. She also had a lot of lining to shed, so, she's fine. Need help?"

He handed her a rag and they set to work. "Did you know… bout the baby?"

"Didn't see until it was too late," she said sounding disappointed with herself. "Nothing could be done."

"Not your fault, if you couldn't see, you couldn't see. Ain't nobody gonna blame ya."

"Simon might. What use is a gift if there isn't a present inside the box? Nobody has use for shiny paper." She scrubbed at the blood on the cat walk.

Jayne stopped her hand. "Not your fault, and he won't blame ya. Ma always told me everything happens for a reason. Even Preacher said it. Kaylee's fine, said so yourself. Don't you go payin' this no mind. You have enough crazy up there. Don't be addin' more."

As he walked down to the infirmary he hoped that nothing like that would happen again. The ship was a mighty bad place to be that week. At least this time the baby got big 'nuff for everybody to know.

"How's it goin'?"

"Simon's in checkin' on her. You get the engine right?" Mal asked.

"Just like she told me. Already let River know, so we're off. Should be there in about eight hours, like she said." Jayne paused. "Ya know Mal, this sorta thing takes hours, if not days. You can go sleep. I can keep watch." The man needed some rest, this had only been going on bout an hour, there was much more ahead. Jayne knew from his momma. She birthed most of the babies at home. He didn't generally share that information with anybody. He didn't really need to, but he did know what this was gonna take and Mal should be rested. Just in case. Hell, the doc should be rested, but he knew he'd never get him to sleep.

"I'm fine. You report back to River the happenings here, and then we can play cards and keep vigil. Grab some coffee on your way back, dong ma?"

"Got it."

As Mal watched him go, he thought about the last time he kept vigil for Kaylee.

He woke with a crick in his neck. River was sleeping, head in his lap. Rolling his neck around, he glanced towards the window of the infirmary. Simon was against the counter, his back turned, but Mal could tell from the way his shoulders were heaving that he was breaking down.

"Doc?"

Simon turned quickly, wiping at his eyes. "She's fine. Stable. Shouldn't be any permanent damage."

"How she gonna be when she wakes up?"

"Fine physically, but from the conversation we had before I had to medicate her, I think she will be a wreck for a while. I can take care of it though. Don't worry, the ship will still fly, even if I have to get into the engine room myself."

"I doubt that will do any good, but I appreciate you wantin' to try. Guessin' we should wait for her to come to fore we start planning."

A cup of coffee was placed in front of him. He picked it up and thanked Jayne. "River says she shaved another hour off travel time. Don't know how she does all that math, but sure does come in handy."

"You got a soft spot for that albatross don't ya?" Mal chuckled. He knew things had changed on his boat over the last few years; most notably how the girl followed Jayne around and he didn't seem to mind.

"She's alright. Damn useful. Good for jobs and she is turning into a pilot to rival Wash. Yeah, she's alright." Jayne sipped his own coffee, trying not to think bout her freakin' earlier when she felt Kaylee in pain. "Coffee, Doc?" he asked Simon, who had just walked out of the room.

"Thank you." Simon sighed heavily. "Well, she's dilated at five centimeters, but she's been that way for about an hour, so I don't have a time line right now."

"River shaved another hour off the trip; we should be at Boros in seven hours. She should be able to hold on till then. She's strong." Jayne wanted to be comforting, without being too girly.

"Did I miss the party, men? Nobody bother to wake me?" Zoë entered the room.

"I been tryin' to get people to go back to sleep, it takes longer than you folks think." Jayne replied.

"What do you know about birthing babies?" Zoë asked.

"Ma did it for years. I seen lots a babies come into the world. Takes forever and there's always lots of screaming."

They all turned to look at him.

Jayne noted the looks of shock. "What?"

-----

It was hard work to breathe. Kaylee hadn't known it till now. She was sweating from concentration and just pain. She didn't think she would make it at first, but Inara helped. She had something to focus on. Inara's soft words of encouragement and reminders of the prize at the end of the race calmed Kaylee plenty. Then a fresh wave of pain hit her and she couldn't focus all over again.

"'Nara…it hurts!"

"Breathe, mei mei, slowly. Focus on my voice."

Breathing slowly Kaylee was able to regain control.

"Was it my fault Simon? Did I do something wrong?" They were lying in her bunk, Simon holding her as she cried. "I can still have babies right?"

"It's not your fault and you can have a hundred babies. It just happens sometimes." He knew it would be hard on her, but he never anticipated the repetition of the feelings. It had been two days and she was still asking the same questions.

"Why are you still here?" She paused and then shakily continued. "How can you still love me?"

Those were new questions and they appalled Simon. He turned to her, holding her face in his hands. "Where would I go? I love you, why would I go?"

"I killed our baby. I don't even love me right now." She was straying from her usual breakdown and though Simon was glad for a new line of thought, this one was scaring him.

"You did no such thing. It's no one's fault."

"Do you want to be a daddy?"

That one threw him. "Well, I guess one day. I just, I don't know. Do you want to be a mother?"

"Always have. Here, my first chance and it all goes wrong. You think that's a sign?" She looked so scared, as if the answer would determine the rest of her dreams.

"No, it's not a sign." Simon said firmly. "You will be a great mother. It just isn't time yet."

It was time, now. And Kaylee was still scared, but she was ready now; even if she hadn't gotten a chance to finish the nursery. In reliving that memory, she knew. The time was now.

-----

"River and Jayne, you head out to the shop Simon told ya bout. Zoë and I gonna meet the contact. We should be able to pick up some cargo and get some coin outta this. Now, you two, go, and go fast. Kaylee's needin' those meds, ma shang."

Nodding, Jayne and River headed out to the dock. It was busy and River had to walk fast to keep up with the larger man's steps. "You're going the wrong way."

"No I ain't, I've been here twice already. This is the fastest way," he yelled over his shoulder.

"This course will cause trouble."

Jayne stopped walking and turned to her. People were passing all around, it was a normal trading day. "Scared of going through the seedy part o' town? You the scariest thing I seen in the 'verse, you scared of a few hustlers? Don't seem right."

She blushed red, and she was a little hurt by his accusations. River thought he was only scared of Reavers. "You're scared of me?" she whispered.

"Nah, I ain't scared of a little thing like you, but darlin', really, you could kill me. Thought makes me a little hard," he told her matter-of-factly.

She took a step back. He really was vulgar. It didn't normally bother River, but this did a bit. "You find it an attractive quality? That I could kill you?"

"Well, yeah…not many women, or really anyone could do that. But, hey let's get goin', we gotta get back to the ship, Kaylee be needin' us." This conversation was getting a mite uncomfortable and they did need to get the meds.

"Lead the way big ape." She replied with a smile.

That was more like it, he preferred to be mocked than have to share mushy feelin's. Walking through the alley he stopped and River barreled into his back.

"What?" she hissed. "Forward works best."

"Shh" Footsteps behind them alerted Jayne and he turned, gun drawn, covering River with his body. Someone rounded the corner. "Tamade hundan, you scared me, Mal."

"Hmph, no need to worry you be killin' that girl anytime soon. You can let River out, ya'll forgot the cash." Mal smiled at Jayne's protective stance around River.

"Thanks, we'll be off then." Jayne was clearly embarrassed by his actions, best to just get outta there and fast. As he turned he grabbed River's hand. "Kaylee needs the meds, so, let's go. Keep up little witch."

-----

"Kaylee, Jayne and River will be back soon," Simon soothed. "When they get here I will give you the medicine okay?" In the hours since her labor had started she had gotten progressively more irritable. It was to be expected, but since they had hit atmo the contractions had gotten worse. Simon thought it had something to do with the ship's artificial gravity and the planet's real gravity.

"If they are getting in…" she stopped to breathe through a painful moment, then continued. "If they are heading for the drugs, why can't I have the ones you got?" She screamed.

"If the shop is out, or they don't want to sell it, I just want to be sure we will get it. Ai ren," He bent down and kissed her forehead. "I haven't told you how much I love you and what a good job you are doing. They will be here soon, and then it will be smooth sailing."

-----

"That there is highway robbery, and I'm a thief thinking that's too much. That oughta say something." Jayne was irked by this tiny man.

"We haven't had a decent shipment in almost two months. I gotta ask that much sir… got to feed my family." The man was intimidated by Jayne, but he really did need the money.

"Fine, but next time we're on this world we finding somewhere else to do business." Jayne tossed the bag of coin on the counter and held his hand out for the bottle.

As the man cautiously put in it his hand River turned to the man. "He's just cranky." Then with a smile she finished, "good times are coming, just wait patiently."

Coming out of the shop, Jayne asked her, "You poked in his head? He wasn't lyin' was he? I'd hate to be taken today."

"He didn't lie. Next week a long lost uncle will die, and that man will be rich because of it."

"Why ain't that never happen to me? I been doin' all kinds of deeds that deserve a bit of good karma. Takin' care of you is a big one, where's my inheritance?" Seemed wrong that everyone else got good stuff.

"Shut up, ya boob. Walk faster, Kaylee needs the medicine." She punched his arm playfully.

"First I'm walkin' too fast, going the wrong way… you are so demanding. Why do I do anything you say?"

"Because I can kill you and you like that." The smile she gave him now was different, mischievous-like, it lit up her whole face.

-----

"Seems like an easy job…but our jobs don't always go so smooth, Sir'." Zoë was unloading the crates of seeds bound for Greenleaf.

"Yeah, but I'm hopin' we got a God, or a Buddha or someone on our side for this. With Kaylee and a baby, not to mention Jayne and River actin' odd, I'm prayin' to all I can think of."

"That's a bit off for you, Sir, to be prayin'?"

"Well, I don't need nothing going wrong when it comes to my mei mei. Ship runs better with a happy Kaylee."

Zoë thought back to a conversation she had with Kaylee when she hadn't been so happy.

"How did you get Wash to marry you?" Kaylee was in the cargo bay tinkering with some kind of engine part while talking to Zoë. "Did you have to hit him over the head?"

"He probably would have liked it, me hittin' him on the head. You thinkin' about hittin' someone?" Zoë smiled at the thought. She had seen the way Doc had taken care of Kaylee, especially this past week. He could be so reserved. She thought they were getting along, but maybe she was wrong.

Kaylee stopped and stared at her. "I don't have the manners or class of the women he's used to. Ya think that's why he ain't asked me…I'm not really one to take home, at least not where he's from. I gotta admit, back home, I'm a catch. Boys loved me, ain't never had a one turn me down."

"Simon turn you down? I mean, recently."

"Nah, just hasn't even asked bout what I want or anything," Kaylee explained. "After Miranda, I thought it was good, I mean, he almost died, I almost died, thought that would be good for us." Kaylee smiled to herself. "All it got me was sex, really. I mean, I wanted that, and it's good sex, really you wouldn't think it of him, but wode tian." Zoë rolled her eyes. "And he told me he loves me, but we haven't talked about…ya know…the future."

"He probably just doesn't know what you want, and you know Simon, man's got two feet for the mere purpose of puttin' 'em in his mouth. Give him time."

-----

"Got the stuff, paid a pretty price, but we got it," Jayne said as he handed over the meds. "I'm thinking we oughta do another one of those hospital jobs again, this planet ain't seen new meds in months."

"Right now I'm too busy to plan another hospital heist. But, maybe later. Xièxie."

Simon was relieved they were back. He ran into the infirmary. "Guess whose back with the good stuff?"

"Remind me to kiss Jayne later. Give it to me good Doc." Kaylee was tired, it was hard work being a momma.

Simon laughed, she was so wan mei, even in her tired state. "I do love it when you call me 'Doc.' Here we go." The result was almost instant. "Now, I'm going to check your progress okay?"

Smiling she replied. "Good idea, check my progress, when's this baby making her appearance?"

"So, it's girl?" Inara asked.

"Yes," Simon confirmed. "Kaylee wanted everyone else to be surprised, so we didn't tell anybody. It was a hard secret to keep around here."

"Simon's the one that can't keep a secret. You would think he could, but he can't, almost let it slip about ten times." Kaylee had relaxed and was now feeling just fine.

Inara laughed and turned to Kaylee, "I'm sure he was just excited. What are you going to name her?"

"Oh, goodness, that ain't a fight we want to start again right now. I just got to feelin' better." She giggled a bit and looked at Simon.

"Well, it looks like we have about an hour or so before you can push, so, maybe we should be discussing the name. She'll be here within the next three hours I think."

Kaylee beamed at that, "Now that I'm not screamin' in pain, I'm really excited. C'mere and give me a kiss, zhang fu."

Simon couldn't sleep, though he hadn't had much lately. Before it had been because of Kaylee, but now it was because he had something he had to get off his chest.

"Kaylee, are you asleep?"

"No, what ya got?" She sounded tired, but willing to talk.

"What do you want, umm, out of everything, I mean, what do you have planned for the rest of your life?" He was so nervous asking.

Kaylee giggled. "Where'd that come from?"

Simon looked at her pointedly, flushing a little, and she stifled her laughter and thought for a moment before answering.

"Well, the ship is my home; she's my baby, so I want to stay here as long as I can." She had an idea where he was going with this, but ya never could tell with Simon.

"Right, of course, well, I have grown pretty fond of the ship as well. River loves it here. It's more her home than anywhere really has been." He hadn't really thought about being on the ship forever. But, he wanted Kaylee, so it was time to buckle down and deal with it. It wasn't as if he could really go anywhere else.

Kaylee turned to face him, "Simon, if you could back to your life, on Osiris, with all the pretties and fancy things, would you miss anything here? Would you even hesitate to go back?" She was so somber, not at all like the smiley girl he fell in love with. More the woman she had been this past week. Broken, down, and sad.

"Kaylee, I wanted that life, but, it just isn't me anymore. I can't go back, I don't fit there."

"But if you did fit…would you just leave?" she pressed.

"No," he told her firmly. "I have actually been happier here in the last few months than my whole life back home. I think I'm actually getting good at this 'life of crime' thing. Plus, there's this girl that I couldn't leave."

He was teasing, but Kaylee glanced away from his eyes and turned to the bulkhead, seemingly offended. "Of course, if River is happiest here, you wouldn't want to leave her."

Simon mentally kicked himself as he realized she had misunderstood.

"Not River," he said hurriedly, holding her face and forcing her to look back at him. "You. I wouldn't even think of going back without you. I know you wouldn't go, because your home is here. So, I'll stay here. As long as you will have me."

"Then why aren't you asking me to marry you? If I am so important." Kaylee was a bit agitated now.

"Is that what you want?" Simon asked, excitement coursing through him, his heart pounding. "It's what I want, I just, I didn't know if you would even want that."

If he ever asked her, he had wanted it to be special, romantic, thousands of yellow daisies, but this was good too.

"Yeah!" Kaylee insisted. "That's what I want…Simon, why you can't just say what you mean?" Her eyes were shining and she smiled her first real smile of the week.

-----

Inara walked out, needing a quick break. She had been with Kaylee going on nine hours. She was in a sleepy haze and walked right into something solid. "Sorry, I just, sorry." Too tired to explain, she just looked up.

"It's fine," Mal replied, a shimmer of humor in his eyes. "You look a mess. I don't believe I have ever seen you so tired."

"Yes, well, you look fantastic yourself," she bit back.

"Hey, okay," he said, holding his hands up in surrender, "I give in. How is she?"

"She's sleeping actually. It's just a little nap before she has to push. Simon thought it might be a good idea since she went so long without pain medication. I was just going to get some coffee."

"Well, let's get the nurse some coffee then."

Both of them came to an immediate stop upon entering the galley. In front of them was something nobody ever thought they would see. Jayne was picking up a sleeping River, who had apparently fallen asleep head down on the table. With a gentle way, he cradled her in his arms as her head fell against his chest and her arms went around his neck. He was whispering something they couldn't quite make out. Jayne didn't notice them and headed off toward his bunk.

Not her bunk, but his.

"What in the hell was that?" Mal seemed too awed to be angry.

"I guess it makes sense," Inara said slowly. "It's not like we are near lots of young men River's age. The surprising thing to me is Jayne. He looked so tender. Did you see his body language, it was so… I can't even describe it, not at all like him. That's for sure."

"Since when did my ship become the gorram love boat?" Mal yelled. Now he was getting mad.

"Oh, Mal, let it be. The crew works just fine together, and they will for a while."

"Yeah, what happens when those two decide to go back to almost killin' each other? What use will my hired gun and pilot be then?"

Zoë popped her head into the galley, "'Nara, Simon says it's time, he wants your help."

She had noticed the Captain's tense posture and wondered if she had walked in on one of their famous fights.

"Of course, not long now is it?" Inara smiled at Zoë as she passed.

"You two fightin' again?" Zoë asked Mal.

"Not about anything you would expect. Let's go back down." He was running his hand through his hair in frustration.

"Thought I would find River, what with her little kin being born."

"She's sleepin', I'll holler for Jayne in a minute to get her, but for now, let her sleep."

He didn't want to have to face that particular problem at the moment, best to ignore and go on with the important stuff.

-----

Thankfully, River had set a course for Greenleaf and taken off before she had fallen asleep on the table. That meant they were already on their way.

Jayne laid her down on his bed and covered her up. As he turned to sit in his chair, her arm flew up and grabbed his. "Time yet?"

"Nah, Cap't will holler when it is. He knows you want to be there."

She rolled over, propped her face up on her hand and stared at him. It was makin' him all kinds of uncomfortable, but he knew she would speak when she was ready so he grabbed for a gun catalog.

"You aren't like Simon."

"Ha! I thought you were a ruttin' genius…you just figure that one out?"

"I mean, I don't think of you like I think of Simon. You are not a brotherly figure to me."

Her eyes sought his, but he avoided her. He visibly tensed.

Trying to clear his head of all thoughts of her he shuffled through the magazine. It was hard enough to be sitting next to a reader, but one who apparently reciprocated his crush; that was downright, aww he rightly didn't know, it was just hard.

"You don't feel the same? I thought from your signals that you did."

"Why don't you just get in my head and find out feng le?" His tone was harsh and he knew it when he said it. He didn't do feelings. Jayne like sexin' from whores and he liked drinkin' and bar brawls. He didn't need to be more complicated than that. But she had snuck up on him, and now he really did wonder why he was being so harsh.

"Don't want to get spaced because of you, don't think it's worth it," Jayne lied.

Tears welled in her eyes, but she didn't shed them. Just got up quietly and went up the ladder. Jayne didn't follow her. He may have just lost his teddy bear and his favorite bar brawling partner, but it was better this way.

Jayne's thoughts wandered momentarily to what her skin felt like. He knew, he slept with the gorram girl every night. But, what it felt like under her shirt, or near her hips. Enough of that, he had taken care to make sure he never knew. Whores were better for him, no commitment, no brothers or Captains to throw him out an airlock.

A knock at his bunk snapped him back to reality.

"Baby's almost here, if you care." River called. She sounded upset, but she was mad upset now, not crying upset. He liked mad upset better anyhow.

-----

Simon wrapped the baby girl up and laid her on Kaylee's chest.

"Simon, how'd we make such a pretty person?" she cooed. "She got all her toes and everything?"

He smiled. "Ten fingers, ten toes. She's perfect." He leaned into her for a hug and a tender kiss.

"'Nara, ain't she just the most amazing thing you ever seen?" Kaylee was happier than she had ever been, no one thought she could be happier, but she was.

"Oh, mei mei, she is just perfect. Do you mind if I let everyone in?" Inara asked.

"Nah, Simon, ya got me covered up don't ya, I won't be showin' the ship my nethers or nothing?"

"You are completely modest. Bring them in Inara."

Simon thought back to when he had last seen Kaylee happy like this.

"This planet has an excellent spot," River told Simon. She pointed at the screen. "See? Here. I'll put the ship down near the field and you can do your stuff."

"Sounds good," Simon replied. "But won't she think it's odd?"

"When has Kaylee ever noticed where we put down?" River questioned. "She's too busy making sure the ship doesn't crash land."

"Good point." He said, kissing River's head. "I'm going to go get ready."

When they landed, Simon grabbed Kaylee by the hand and dragged her out of the ship.

"I have a surprise for you!" he called over his shoulder.

"Where's the fire, Simon?" Kaylee hollered.

Simon stopped at the top of the hill they had climbed. Turning to Kaylee he got down on one knee. Kaylee noticed behind him a field full of the most beautiful wild flowers she had ever seen.

"Simon," she started. "What is this?"

"I wanted to buy you a thousand yellow daisies," he answered. "But since I don't have much money and we haven't been on a planet that grew any, I had to make do."

"I have been saving for this though." He continued, pulling a ring from his pocket. "Will you wear it? Will you marry me?"

Kaylee's eyes were shining with tears and she just stood there for a minute. Simon was anxious and she wasn't saying anything. But then, with a smile so bright it rivaled the burn of Serenity's engine she spoke.

"Of course, I will."

Simon stood up and placed the ring on her finger. Kaylee jumped into his arms and attacked his lips with hers.

They stayed like that for a few minutes before Simon stopped and noticed the ship behind them. He could see Mal, Inara, River, Zoë, and even Jayne watching from the windows of the bridge.

"We have an audience." Simon said.

"Aw, let them watch." Kaylee remarked. "I'mma need some more of that kissin'"

-----

"It's a girl! Come in and see!" Inara led Zoë, Mal, and River in, while a peeved looking Jayne stood in the doorway.

Awesome, in its true meaning was what River thought. Kaylee and Simon had created a little human. It was so small, so innocent.

"Can I hold her?" she asked.

"I don't know, mei mei…" Simon said, looking a little nervous.

"Of course you can," Kaylee said, so happy she wanted everyone to share. "Simon, take her off my hands and over to Auntie River." Kaylee was so happy she wanted everyone to feel it.

"She's so light." River mused. The room beamed at River holding the newest crew member. Everyone fawned, even Mal.

Jayne stood in the doorway watching River hold that baby and thoughts came rushing to him. His heart started pounding and it seemed like it was growing. The shame he felt for the things he said to her earlier began to flow through his mind and he almost cried. Jayne exited hastily.

-----

It was late now, and Jayne figured everyone else would be in bed. He was wrong. River sat in the common area, cooing and whispering to her niece.

"Shouldn't she be sleepin'?" he asked accusingly. "Shouldn't you be sleepin'?"

"Simon and Kaylee both need lots of rest, so I offered to take her. She's not on a schedule yet, can't differentiate between night and day."

Swallowing the lump in his throat, he attempted to apologize. "I didn't mean it. I mean, I meant some of it, but not all of it."

"We are still friends, no need to explain. I won't kill you." River stated quickly. She sounded a bit nervous.

"No, listen, I…you won't kill me? Course you won't, I won't let you!" Aggravating little girl she was.

"You said yourself, you know I can. But, I won't, especially not in front of the baby. She needs a good example from Auntie River." The hint at nervousness had left, she was strong and collected.

"Ah, hell little girl!" Jayne said. "I just tryin' to say I like ya, bit more than I let on. I'm just not used to it. I don't do relationships, not since I was a young thing. I do whores, that way there's no problems with fighting and all that crap your brother and Kaylee go through. But, seein' ya holdin' a baby, I guess I wanna try. Even if it will get me spaced."

"I am no longer the little girl here." River nodded her head toward the bundle in her arms.

"Sorry, guess I will have to start callin' you sumpin else." He sat beside her on the couch.

"I like that Simon calls Kaylee bao bei, you could try that."

He laughed. "I ain't like Simon, remember? That kid got a name yet?"

"Nope, they are still arguing about it."

Jayne touched the baby's little face. The crew wasn't crazy; this baby was pretty perfect, even if she didn't have a name yet.

-----

"Dang it, why am I always walkin' into these things?" Mal had walked down towards the nursery and stopped in front of the couch in the common area, to see Jayne cradling the baby in one arm with River leaning into his chest, his other arm around her.

His remark had brought Jayne and River to. "Morning Captain, did you wish to see the baby?" River started sleepily.

"What in the gorram is going on with you two? This ain't a cruise liner and I'm not running a ruttin' matchmaking service!"

"Mal, don't yell, you'll wake the baby, then you'll wake Simon, then there will be more yellin' and cryin', ain't nobody gonna be shiny then," Jayne defended.

Man had a point. River must have been makin' him smarter. "I don't want you two fighting and deciding to kill each other," Mal thought for a moment, "or setting my ship on fire with those grenades you two love so much. Tamade hundan I can't take this. I'll kill you both, got it?"

Simon exited his room slowly, rubbing his eyes, planning to let Kaylee sleep for a while more. She wouldn't need to feed the baby for a few more hours.

"Hey ba ba!" River came running to him with the baby. "She smiled at me!"

"Well, actually it was probably just gas," Simon told her apologetically. "She doesn't really know how to smile yet."

River faltered momentarily. "Whatever, I say she just loves me, that's all." Simon took the baby from her and held her close. She smelled like baby. It was a scent that made him smile.

"Did you get much sleep last night?" he asked River.

"I'm fine, but you should take her in to see Kaylee, I think she might be hungry. Her rooting reflex is as advanced as her smiling abilities." River kissed her brother and scampered off.

Simon walked into the room that he and Kaylee shared. He sat on the bed next to Kaylee. "Wake up Mommy, baby wants to eat." He brushed her hair with his free hand.

She rolled over and blinked a few times before speaking. "Hmm, oh, hey little one. Damn she is perfect! Oh, I shouldn't swear around her."

"I think Jayne will be doing enough of that, no need for anyone else to." Simon agreed. Smiling at her, he waited for her to sit up before giving her the baby. "She is meili, isn't she?"

"Yeah…hey! That's it! We can call her Meili! Meili Tam, oh it fits her. Don't you think Simon?" Kaylee was practically jumping up and down with excitement.

Simon considered. "You know, I really like it, you're right, it fits. Meili. Hi Meili, you have a name now."

-----

Translation

Gou pi: bull shit

Mei mei: sister

Dong ma: understand

Wode tian: Oh God!

Bao-bei: sweetheart

Ai ren: sweetheart, precious

xin gan: darling, sweetheart

Wo de ma: Mother of God

Yu ben de: stupid, foolish, silly

wan mei: perfect, beautiful

ma shang: on the double

tamade hundan: fucking bastard

xièxie: thanks

zhang fu: husband

feng le: crazy

ba ba: daddy

meili: pretty/beautiful