The Family Way
Part I—Night Maneuvers
Disclaimer: I own none of these characters, much as I'd love to!
Author's Note: This story takes place six months after the events of "Revolution".
Summary: Serenity's crew spends a long night in the Black (in a calm before the storm sort of way).
Sweat pooled in the small of Simon's back as he moved with a steady rhythm inside Kaylee. Without the worry over effective contraception, their intimacies had taken on a delicious freedom that Simon found intoxicating. And while Kaylee had always been an enthusiastic and generous lover, her desire to have a child had added an intensity that usually left them both breathless in its wake.
Kaylee contracted around him, feeling his hot seed surge into her. Saying a little prayer that this time they had begun the miracle of life they were both eager for, she smiled up at him radiantly. She was not really worried that anything was wrong, as they had only been actively trying to conceive a child for six months. Simon had explained that such a timeframe was perfectly normal considering the methods of contraception they had been using before. But she was becoming a little impatient to begin their family, and she was certain that if they did not soon have success, Simon, being the man he was, would begin to worry. And worry, she thought, would certainly not help the process along.
However, right now Simon was far from worry. Shifting his weight off Kaylee, he kissed her softly. "Love you, ai ren," he said, still a little breathless.
"Love you too, honey," Kaylee replied, snuggling up close to his side, and drifting off to sleep with visions of infants in her head.
Simon wondered, as he often did, how it had come to pass that he had found such a gift as Kaylee Tam. A sultry siren wrapped in a bundle of sheer joie de vivre, she was unlike anyone Simon had ever known. He realized that it was largely due to his wife's boundless optimism and faith in the basic goodness of the 'verse that he had achieved the measure of peace and happiness he now enjoyed. For the first time since River had been sent to the Academy, he felt that he could truly breathe freely again, that somehow all the horror they had endured had led him to this time in his life with this most precious woman, and that perhaps Kaylee's version of the 'verse might actually have a little truth to it.
Inara lay in the darkness of Jayne's bunk, sheltered in the curve of his body. With one heavily muscled arm slung over her ribcage, Jayne slept deeply after their earlier passion. His soft snores ruffled her hair, and she wiggled slightly to change her position. At the movement, Jayne's hand automatically adjusted as well, cupping her breast in the hollow of his palm. Inara sighed, relaxing into the warm intimacy of the sensation.
There were many things she had learned to appreciate about Jayne Cobb, not the least of which were his hands. They were capable of dispensing unparalleled pleasure, but she was also well aware of what else those hands were capable of, remembering what vengeance Jayne had extracted from first Atherton Wing and later Andrew Chau in her behalf. The thought warmed her heart with gratitude, but still chilled her to the bone with its cool violence. Jayne was a study in contradictions, by turns hard and cold as granite, and then surprisingly gentle and tender in his affections. How this dichotomy could exist in the same man was a mystery to Inara, and hence added a certain spice to their relationship. She thought that perhaps the thrill she felt might be a sort of perversion, but if that was the case, she had no great inclination to be cured of it.
Inara shifted against him again, causing Jayne to open one eye and pull her closer still. "What'sa matter, baby doll?" he mumbled, his goatee tickling the shell of her ear.
Inara wondered fleetingly why the endearment did not annoy her. Had anyone ever told her that she would allow such a term to be applied to her in any context, she would have snorted with derision. But somehow, when Jayne said it, it seemed a most wonderful phrase. Pulling her thoughts back to the question, she answered, "Nothing. Just not sleepy, I guess."
"Huhm," Jayne grunted. "Woulda' thought you'd be tuckered out after what all we been up to," he said lazily, an unmistakable challenge in his voice.
Inara lifted one eyebrow. "I have a lot of stamina," she said saucily, wiggling her hips suggestively against him.
Chuckling low in his throat, Jayne replied, "Well now, that's a right interestin' statement. Care to prove it?"
Inara's answering giggle was swallowed up by Jayne's kiss.
Anya lay in her new room next to Adam's in what used to be Serenity's passenger dorms. She had not liked the idea of Adam being all alone, even though Captain Mal had shown her how the baby monitor picked up even the slightest disturbance in Adam's room. So, she had asked for permission to move into the room next door, just in case.
She looked around the room, so lovingly decorated by Miss Kaylee, who seemed to love little girl things as much as Anya herself. Mama had insisted that she have a comm installed in the room, but that and a few stuffed toys from Mr. Wash's stash were really her only contributions.
Anya had to admit that she missed the comfort of sleeping with Mama just a little. Though Zoe made certain to read her a bedtime story and tuck her in every night, it was not the same as being snuggled up against her steady warmth in the middle of the night. Since Zoe had first come into her young life, Anya had found her physical presence a welcome healing for the grief of losing her birth mother. Anya still thought about her first mother often, but now the memories were not so tinged with sadness as they had been at first. Secure in Zoe's love and Captain Mal's protection, she knew she had been lucky enough to find a new family to care for her as much as she cared for them.
Tiptoeing out of her room and into Adam's, she looked at his sleeping form, filled with love for this closest thing to a brother she had. Like everything else he did, Adam slept with a certain wild abandon, one leg thrown over the edge of the bed and covers hopelessly tangled. Anya smiled, not even attempting to straighten things up. "Love you, Adam," she whispered, careful to say it quietly enough not to register on the monitor. Slipping quietly back out of his room, she climbed into her own bed and went back to sleep.
Mal sat on the bridge, looking out at the vastness of the Black. After the disastrous near slide into revolution, the Alliance was still uneasy about its hold on the population of the 'verse, and that complicated things for everyone flying. Mal avoided all the checkpoints he could, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to stay under the radar. Made flying a mite more interesting than he'd like, he thought grimly.
He felt rather than heard River glide softly into the room behind him. "Hey , bao bei," he said, as her hands came to rest lightly on his shoulders. "Can't sleep?"
"Missed you," she answered, coming around the chair to curl into his lap.
Mal shifted her weight more comfortably, and she rested her head on his shoulder. "Didya'now?" he said, pleasantly aroused by her proximity.
River smiled against his neck, feeling the delicious tension beginning to build in her own belly. "Haven't slept in our bunk together for…"
"Three nights. I know," Mal said huskily. "Maybehaps I should think on changing the duty roster up a mite."
"Excellent idea," River agreed, running her tongue lightly along the scar on his ear, a spot she knew drove her husband to distraction.
Mal groaned. "Now that just ain't in no way fair," he said, shifting in his seat as certain areas of his anatomy began to throb with sudden interest.
River replied, "Not interested in 'fair'," she whispered, shifting her legs to straddle his hips. "Interested in you."
Mal fairly hummed in anticipation. "You lock the door when you came in?"
"Didn't have to. Everyone's asleep or…otherwise occupied."
Mal's lips ghosted along her collarbone. "I'm thinkin' we might be here awhile, darlin'. Best we make sure."
River sighed, unwilling to move from the very enticing spot she was in. "All right," she acquiesced, deliberating brushing against Mal's groin as she got up. Bolting the door, she took her time walking back to him, the flutter of her dress against her creamy thighs making his heart beat more rapidly and his breathing begin to hitch.
River stopped just beyond his reach, an odd thought occurring to her. "Three days seems long now, but before there were months, sometimes years of….celibacy for you. Why?"
Mal sighed. "Guess I wasn't much interested in a casual roll in the hay."
River tilted her head, a memory of Mal's flashing through her mind. "Except with Becky."
Mal drew in a surprised breath. "You ain't aimin' to go through my entire romantical history right now, are ya'?" As the words left his mouth, he was struck by the thought that River had not even had a history of such a nature before being with him, and the notion made him vaguely uncomfortable.
River smiled. "No wish to see any more, ai ren. Just a passing image." She re-settled herself in his lap.
"You ever wish you hadn't gotten saddled with me permanent-like?" he asked softly. "I mean, ever wish you had your own…history to think on?"
River gazed intently at him, her huge brown eyes shining with an emotion he couldn't quite define. "Chose wisely the first time," she said, tenderly touching his furrowed brow. "Didn't have to kiss the frogs to find the prince."
A slow smile graced Mal's weary features. "Hope you'll always feel that way, darlin'," he said, leaning forward to capture her lips.
"I will," River whispered, giving herself to the exquisite pleasure of being loved by Malcolm Reynolds.
Zoe awoke with a start, for a moment casting about wildly in search of Anya. Rational thought returning, she realized Anya was in her own room, probably sleeping much better than Zoe was.
When Anya had asked for her own room, the reasonable part of Zoe's brain had rejoiced, recognizing it as a sign that Anya felt secure in the environment Zoe had provided for her. Since first seeing the child being dragged down the alleyway on Greenleaf, Zoe had felt a fierce need to protect her. The desire had only intensified when she'd watched the precious child accept the news of her mother's death on the slaver ship. Zoe admired Anya's spirit, and wished with all her heart to provide a safe haven for her permanently. And the fact that the little girl felt safe enough to ask for a small measure of independence made Zoe proud.
But the other part of Zoe, the soft side that she hid so carefully, missed the closeness of the child sharing her bunk. Though no one could completely fill the part of her that had been hollowed out with Wash's death, Anya had given her renewed strength of purpose. She had awakened Zoe's infinite capacity for love and compassion, like water from heaven soaking into cracked, dry earth, leaving the ground suddenly fertile again, resurrected, verdant with life.
Zoe climbed out of her bunk, thinking a quick check on the ship and Anya would help lull her back to sleep. Silently passing by the bridge, she glanced inside just long enough to see that the Captain and River were blissfully occupied in what had once been her own favorite pastime on the bridge when Wash couldn't leave his post. She smiled, pleased Mal had finally found his own happiness with River.
Walking on, she passed Inara's shuttle door, somehow knowing Inara was not there tonight. She made her way throughout the ship, listening to the comforting sound of Serenity's engine. Finally arriving at Anya's door, she slid it carefully open and stood looking at her beautiful child.
The dim light from the hallway illuminated the blonde hair fanned out on the pillow, and the rose-tinted cheeks of the sleeping girl. Straightening up her blankets, Zoe touched her cheek gently, thinking how much she loved the feel of Anya's soft young skin against her work-calloused fingertips.
Satisfied that all was well, Zoe closed the door and headed back to her own bunk, grateful beyond measure to be part of Anya's life. She slipped back into her bed, and let sleep claim her.
To be continued