Disclaimer: I don't own anything. If I did, I'd be rich, famous, and wouldn't have time to spend on this website.
Think of this ONESHOT as a short little follow-up to A Firefly In the Pitch Black, because it's set in that same universe and it takes place a while after they are rescued. I don't know whether I'll write another full-length Ridver story after this, but I needed to get this out at least.
Malcolm Reynolds was on a mission.
Sitting silently at the head of the table, he played idly with the fork in his hand as he surveyed the suspects, the potential perpetrators of such an act as the one he'd discovered had been committed onboard his ship without his knowledge.
Considering the evidence left behind by the guilty party, Mal admitted that it was most probably a female and that she was acting alone. Why else would she be so desperate as to hide such telling evidence in such a place if she hadn't been in a hurry to hide it?
And he was sure that once she was sure everyone was asleep tonight she'd sneak out and try to retrieve it, but low and behold it wouldn't be there! Why? Because Malcolm Reynolds, the handsome, suave, and incredibly keen-eyed Captain of the class Firefly ship named Serenity had found it and now had said evidence safely in his pocket.
Said Captain discreetly gazed at the females sitting at the table, wondering which of them was the guilty party.
There was Zoë Washburne, his right hand and best friend, and while Mal was usually loathe to admit that Zoë was human and thus prone to making mistakes sometimes, the fact that he'd just discovered her relationship with his hired-guns Jayne had been enough to remind him of both her humanity and feminine naivety.
The dark skinned beauty laughed softly at something Simon was saying, and without even seeming to notice it she leaned into the hand Jayne had caressing the back of her neck. Such nearly sweet displays from the man who rubbed Mal the wrong way in every way possible was down right creepifying.
The next on the list, Kaylee, smiled up adoringly at whatever Simon Tam, her partner, was saying. Despite the fact that the mechanic and doctor had nothing in common, they were truly and utterly annoyingly in love with each other. And a woman in love was known to do foolish things.
So while Mal would love to think Kaylee far too young and innocent to have committed such an act, he really couldn't rule her out.
Of course, it could very well be the work of one of their newest crewmembers and cook, Shazza. She was all-woman: beautiful, intelligent, sarcastic, daring, and so it wouldn't be surprising that she'd find herself tempted to commit the foolery.
As if sensing his thoughts, Shazza raised her blue gaze and rested it on his face questioningly, and Mal quickly looked away, scowling at himself and arguing silently with the voice within that no, he wasn't staring at her.
He didn't stare at her.
Sure, he'd once loved her more than a man his age should have, but he was completely over the widow.
Completely over her.
He cursed silently when he realized that he'd subconsciously begun staring at her once more.
"Simon, stop being such a boob."
Ah, yes, and then there was the youngest and last of the females of their crew.
River Tam, Simon's little sister, Serenity's pilot, Riddick's lover.
Mal tore his gaze off of Shazza and focused it on the deadly duo. When they'd been rescued from that hell planet, and the relationship between the murderer and the psychic had been made known, Mal really hadn't protested because Riddick wasn't planning on taking River from them, and the Captain of Serenity honestly hadn't thought they'd last long.
There was the age difference, and, of course, the fact that she was somewhat insane.
But then, as the months passed and River and Riddick only seemed to grow closer and closer, Mal had realized that they were more alike than he'd originally led himself to believe.
Both were toned killing machines that would kill at the drop of a hat without any consideration, both were running from the Alliance, both had had screwed up childhoods, and both listened more to their animal side than their humanity.
And they needed each other.
That'd shocked Mal.
Oh, it hadn't shocked him that Lil' Albatross needed someone, she always had and they all had accepted and grown to actually enjoy being the stronghold for the psychic.
The Captain had to admit that he could understand how Simon somewhat resented Riddick's presence in River's life. She no longer depended and relied on them, she no longer sought them out and perplexed them with her odd way of saying things.
She had Riddick, who not only was there for her whenever she needed him mentally, but he understood her "River-Speak" as if what she was saying wasn't complete mumbo-jumbo.
I guess this must be what a dad feels towards the hundan that's dating his daughter.
The thought amused Mal before he remembered where those thoughts had been taking him.
He wasn't surprised that River needed Riddick.
But he was surprised to realize that Riddick needed River.
Of course, the murderer and additional hired-guns (and shivs) on Serenity was too much of a 'badass' (Jayne's words) to ever admit to the fact that he needed oxygen, much less another human being, but he didn't need to. It was obvious in the way he always knew where River was, what she was doing.
And the hundan was ruttin' jealous of any guy who so much as breathed the same air as 'his woman'.
Mal smirked when he remembered their last night off after another successful job. River had wanted to dance and despite her constant begging and slight attempt at blackmail, Riddick wouldn't budge from his seat next to Jayne, trading their most gruesome moments with each other in their laid-back way.
Everyone had expected River to accept defeat and remain by Riddick's side as she usually did, but she'd surprised them all by standing and storming off onto the dance floor below, mingling with the crowds of bodies, throwing her hands up and dancing.
One might have thought that Riddick couldn't have cared less, yet Mal had been observing him--and he'd notice Riddick sending covert and extremely discreet glances down at River every couple of minutes, keeping a protective eye on her despite the fact that she was probably the most dangerous person in the galaxies.
Mal was the only one (other than Shazza, who'd been watching as well) who hadn't been surprised when all of a sudden Riddick stood with the grace of a leopard and stormed down the stairs towards River, his fist connecting violently with the nose of the unfortunate whelp who'd joined her for the dance.
In seconds the young guy was on the floor bleeding and Riddick was glaring murderously at River, grabbing her upper arm, his fingers digging deep into her delicate skin.
Mal would have gotten up and told him to let go of the child if Shazza hadn't kept him seated and whispered for him to look at River…and he then noticed what his protective instincts had kept him oblivious of.
River's eyes twinkled with…victory.
She'd planned it all to get Riddick down on the dance floor, and she was grinning broadly when the furious, jealous Furyan threw her over his shoulder and stormed out of the bar/nightclub…destination Serenity.
So, if she had the…err…balls to risk immediate death by pissing off a Furyan murderer, then, yeah, River could very well be the culprit of this act.
"Captain Daddy, such naughty thoughts." River's voice broke him from his near trance. "My Night Wolf wouldn't like it if he knew what you were thinking."
Mal's eyes widened. River had just made it sound as if he'd been thinking dirty thoughts of her! The—the—the sneaky female! She obviously realized that he suspected her and was trying to throw her angered pit bull on him so that he would be more frightened for his life than determined to get to the bottom of the situation!
"What exactly were you thinking, captain?" Riddick was still, voice calm.
Shit. A calm Riddick is a deadly Riddick!
Mal thought quickly and decided that it was time to do the mature thing and put the blame all on River's thin shoulders. "On how tha stork will be makin' a visit to us here in Serenity in a coupla months."
There was silence around the table as everyone turned to look at a suddenly pale Simon, whose eyes were bulging out comically and who seemed ready to faint. Well, everyone stared at Simon except Riddick, whose goggled gaze turned immediately on River, who was humming happily to herself and continuing to eat as if nothing had just happened.
Mal had to give her credit; she was sure taking having her secret being exposed pretty well.
"Is that true?" Riddick asked slowly, as if confused. "Is there going to be a baby?"
"Affirmative." She announced as she cut up her food into tiny pieces. "Although, no bird shall be appearing; there is no oxygen in space for it to fly and deliver the baby. And contrary to his belief, storks are not responsible for the delivery of babies--this is the sole work of their mothers." River continued. "Captain Daddy is most probably confused due to the many hits to the head he has received in his duration of life so far."
Jayne snorted in laughter, which he tried to cover up with coughs when Mal sent a glare in his direction.
Simon was making squeaking noises from his side of the table.
"How did you know this?" Riddick was once more speaking to Mal, his voice still deadly calm.
"I found this." And that was when Mal pulled out the device from his pocket and placed it on the table.
Zoë turned pale. "Captain, have you had that in your pocket the whole time?"
"Yes." He was puzzled by her question.
Shazza bit down on her bottom lip, yet it was curling into a smile nonetheless. "You do know what a girl has ta do to that lil' stick ta get the results, right Mal?"
The captain shifted a little uncomfortable in his seat at her smile. "Uhm, no?"
"It is the different hormones and hormonal levels in her fluid that indicates whether or not a creature is evolving within." River announced as she reached for her glass and took a sip of it.
"Come again Lil' Albatross?" Mal asked, completely lost as to what she meant.
"She means ta say, cap'n," Kaylee blushed, looking down at her plate of food. "That a gurl has ta pee on dat lil' stick."
Mal's eyes widened and he gave a little scream, jumping from the chair and wiping his hands against his clothes with disgust.
Jayne exploded in laughter, no longer trying to hide his utter amusement with the whole situation.
Zoë elbowed him sharply in the ribs.
River shook her head and turned to Riddick. "This girl wants to train."
Simon shot up in his seat. "Mei-mei, I forbid it!"
She frowned, turning to look at her brother. "I didn't speak to you, you boob."
"Then I'm not letting you train." Riddick announced after a period of silence. Not one emotion was visible on his face, yet his whole body was stiffened.
She glared at Riddick. "And why not?"
"Mei-mei!" Simon looked like he was about to faint. "You could hurt the baby!"
By now River was looking so confused that Mal really was beginning to feel sorry for her. It must be horrible for a girl who wasn't all there to have to go through this situation.
River turned and shot him a dirty look, proving that she'd heard that thought. "I understand the concept of one with evolution occurring within refraining from physically exerting activities, and yet I cannot comprehend why I must refrain myself from training with my Night Wolf."
"Mei-mei." Simon sat back down, looking utterly exhausted. "You've just said yourself why you shouldn't train."
"River." Riddick cut in, voice cold and emotionless. "Shut up and listen to your gorram brother."
Simon's eyes widened at that, obviously amazed that Riddick had taken his side on anything.
"Negative." River turned her angered eyes on Riddick, and Mal couldn't help but squirm nervously in his seat.
Sure, River and Riddick actually loved each other and usually got along well, understanding each other better than anyone else, but there was also times, when they fought, that all hell broke loose on his beloved Serenity.
"This girl does not understand why she must seek repose when she is not Mother Nature welcoming the newest creation into the Garden." River glared at her lover.
Suddenly Riddick froze.
Mal frowned, trying to understand what she'd said.
"The gorram girl should come with subtitles." Jayne complained loudly as he took a large sip of drink.
Simon, on the other hand, had his eyes narrowed suspiciously on his sister. "Mei-mei, what exactly are you saying?"
"That she's not the one pregnant." And suddenly Riddick was relaxed once more, all tension flooding from his muscles and a smirk even managing to curl the side of his lips. "Someone else on this ship is."
The drink spewed out of Jayne's mouth like a torrent as he coughed, eyes wide in horror as he turned to look at Zoë as if only realizing at that moment that she could very well become pregnant like any other female.
The dark beauty studiously ignored the looks her lover was giving her and continued to eat silently.
Simon's eyes widened like saucers as he turned to Kaylee, who'd suddenly found her fingernails the most interesting things in the world.
Mal turned to look at Shazza, the grip on his fork tightening. He remembered their last night on a backwater planet, he'd fought with Shazza and she'd stormed off on her own, only arriving later the next day.
What if because he'd been insecure and nervous around her he'd actually been the one to push her into doing something with such lasting consequences?
The thought of Shazza with someone…
The fork in his hand snapped in two.
Mal blinked and looked down at the utensil in surprise.
As if suddenly understanding everything, River smirked. "You believed this girl was the one who brought forth life." That smirk grew. "Unlike others of her gender, girl was given the capacity to procreate and further her line only when she desires to do so."
Simon momentarily tore his gaze from Kaylee, looking at his sister with the eyes of a doctor, amazed by that little tidbit of information.
Mal could have sworn he saw relief flash over Riddick's features, but it happened so quickly he wasn't sure.
With the murderer you could never tell.
Silence descended on the table as the men turned their attention on the remaining females, who were ignoring them and apparently had no desire to put them out of their misery and say which of them was expecting a baby.
Jayne looked sicker and sicker, literally looking a little green, as he stared at Zoë.
The muscle in Mal's cheek jerked as he tried in vain to catch Shazza's eye.
Simon open and closed his mouth continuously, as if trying to speak to his bao-bei and yet every time he tried to say something only unintelligible noises escaped.
Riddick, the bastard, smirked in amusement now that he knew that he didn't have to worry, and placed an arm casually around River's shoulders, watching those at the table as if they were his personal entertainment.
Which, Mal admitted, they usually were.
"Well?" The captain finally couldn't take it any longer. "Anyone wanna do some confessing?"
River looked at each woman and then grinned. "Negative."
"I gotta wave my ma." Jayne stood from the table, face emotionless. "Moonbrain."
"Ape man." She grinned at him, used to the fact that he called her that and that he needed her help waving his ma. Since Mal really didn't trust Jayne he hadn't wanted Jayne to learn how to use the communicator, so whenever Jayne wanted to wave his family someone else had to do it for him.
"Why are you waving your mother?" Zoe asked, voice wary. "I haven't done no confessing."
"Is there anythin' to be confessing?" Jayne squeaked, looking so terrified Mal would have laughed if he wasn't so hopeful that it was Zoe in the condition and not Shazza.
"Jayne Cobb, sit back down wit' you!" Shazza snapped, and it must have been the situation, because Jayne did as commanded. "If you were the father of my baby, I wouldn't tell ya either."
"So you are?" Jayne's eyes were wide, and solely fixed on an annoyed-looking Zoe.
"Now, Jayne, it's not that bad." Simon broke in, voice that of a doctor speaking to a patient. "I have most of what we need for a pregnant woman onboard, and I've been in the birthing chambers before during my training. Anyway, all the doctor has to do is keep watch and make sure the birthing is well…"
"You ain't gonna be looking between my woman's gorram legs--!"
"JAYNE!" Zoe snapped.
"He ain't!" Jayne snapped right back at her.
"Of course he ain't!" Zoe stood when he did. "An' he wont 'cuz I ain't pregnant!"
Jayne collapsed back into his seat in relief…
…while Mal and Simon went rigid in theirs.
Shazza and Kaylee exchanged a look that clearly stated 'I won't say anything if you won't' and when River and Zoe nodded to each other the truth of the situation hit Mal hard in the gut. This was a conspiracy. The women knew who was pregnant and they weren't going to be doing any talking.
Still, they'd let out enough for the men to know that either Shazza or Kaylee were going to be a mother in a couple of months, and since Mal really couldn't wait for a couple of months to pass and one of the two to begin showing to know the truth, he knew that they had to find a way to make the guilty party confess.
"Shazza?" Mal asked the same time Simon squeaked out: "Kaylee?"
Riddick's voice rumbled a soft question in River's ear and when the young woman whispered back the bastard's lips curled in an amused smirk as he looked back from Mal and Simon.
The damn bastard knew, and he wasn't going to enlighten the rest of the males in the room.
"We're not leavin' this table 'til one of you starts 'fessin'." Mal was surprised to hear himself say that, but he was serious. They needed to know from now who was pregnant and start planning for the birth. So many things could go wrong in space…
Both women were silent.
Kaylee played with her food.
Shazza kept her gaze on her fork.
Mal cleared his throat.
And suddenly one of the women sighed and placed her palms on the surface of the table, standing. "It's me. I'm pregnant."
And Mal's world shattered as he looked up at Shazza as the attractive woman pulled a black curl out of her face, gaze challengingly on his.
"What--?" Mal found it hard to talk as he stood up as well, throat constricted and painful. "Who--?"
"Some guy on the last planet we were on." Shazza announced as if this were nothing. "I didn't get his name."
"She's lying." Kaylee surprised everyone by whispering and standing up as well. "And she's doing it ta protect me."
All of a sudden the truth hit Mal hard, and he didn't know which emotion was the strongest, the shock that his little Kaylee was going to be a mum or the relief that it wasn't Shazza?
"Kaylee?" Simon whispered in shock as he stood as well, looking at her, eyes wide.
"I didn't want ta say anythin' 'till I was sure--and I only found out this morning after River stole the test from your office." Kaylee confessed softly, wringing her hands nervously, not daring to look at her partner. "And then Cap'n went an put us all in da spotlight and I got nervous."
"Which really isn't good for the baby, Mal." Shazza glared condemningly at Mal.
The captain of Serenity didn't know whether to wince in shame or hug and kiss the woman, relieved that she wasn't pregnant and things were already returning to normal between them without any awkwardness.
They'd be full-out arguing with each other come lunch, of that he was sure…and he couldn't wait.
"Bao-bei." Simon looked as if he was going into a catatonic state, looking at his sweetheart in awe.
"Yes, Simon?" Kaylee looked at him nervously.
Simon just continued to gawk at her.
"Don't be a boob, Ge-Ge." River giggled from where she was now sitting on Riddick's lap. "You're gonna be a daddy."
"A daddy." Simon whispered before it finally clicked in him and he smiled, sweeping Kaylee into his arms and kissing her happily. "We're going to have a baby!"
Kaylee squealed in surprise as he twirled her around, before the mechanic finally understood what was happening and hugged him close crying in happiness.
Jayne, now calm that he knew Zoe wasn't the one pregnant, smirked as he elbowed her softly. "If'n the doc is righteous protective of that feng le sister of his, imagine what he'd do if that turns out ta be a girl."
Zoe smiled softly in agreement.
"Come join me as I guide Mother Serenity through the black sea." River leapt off of Riddick's lap and dragged the amused murderer out of his seat and behind her as they left the Food Hall.
Zoe and Jayne got up and left to begin their day's jobs.
Kaylee and Simon disappeared as well, all smiles and laughter, talking about names and genders and making plans together for the future of their child.
Mal shifted a glance to Shazza, who'd gotten up and was beginning to take away the plates from the table. She was purposely ignoring him, and that just made him grin at her and get up to help.
'Bout time they started the day's fight anyway.
Grinning broader, Mal stood and took in a deep breath, satisfied. He'd not only solved the mystery of the pregnancy test, but somehow everything had gone back to normal again.
Well, almost everything.
And with that he picked up his plate and River's and walked towards Shazza.
Well, hope you all enjoyed this!