Mal followed River. She knew where she was going. She saw it flash when Strong-arm mentioned killing Zoe. They went in silence. River was on the warpath. He saw it in her eyes. He had seen it before. Usually after he saw that look, an entire room of men ended up dead.

They took a long winding path to a big house with men outside of it. The men saw River and Mal. They couldn't even raise their guns. River had reached out and taken Mal's gun. She shot both of them in the head in a matter of seconds. She put the gun back and took one of the bigger ones from the corpse.

Then she kicked down the door with her bare foot. By the time Mal entered, everyone in the room was dead. She threw down the empty gun and picked up another one. Then she shut her eyes to focus on the thoughts around her to find Zoe.

They were all strong thoughts, some particularly unpleasant. She felt sick after seeing some of them, but then she felt Mal put his arm around her. She opened her eyes.

"Zoe is upstairs in the workout room."

He let her lead the way to the next level. He wouldn't even line up a shot before she had already killed them and she didn't even like guns. He hated to think about how she was with blades…

****

Zoe came to after feeling a rush of pain to the face that she recognized as a punch. There were about ten men and she was tied up to some type of workout equipment. She tested the restraints. They were strong and cold, probably chains of some sort.

After inspecting each man with a careful eye, she figured that she didn't have much of a chance. They were all unusually strong and the ones that weren't had huge guns. Her only shot would be Mal. She hated to admit it, but there was a chance that he couldn't come to her rescue.

She got to work on a plan that would get her out of there alive. The first step would be the chains. So, she started feeling the restraints to find a weak point and then the actual machine. She started twisting her hands to wiggle out. It hurt, but she kept up.

The door flew open. River came in and easily emptied the six-shooter, taking six men down with it. Then she picked up a weight and hit someone across the face with it followed by a kick that sent them flying across the room. Mal came in and shot one of them by the time River had snapped the other two guys' necks.

"Sir," Zoe nodded. She hid how relieved she was to see him.

River easily picked the lock for the chains and Zoe stood up. She fell backwards, feeling a bit lightheaded. River caught her arm.

"You've lost a lot of blood. You shouldn't walk," River stated flatly.

Mal took that as his cue and he simply lifted her into his arms.

"Thank you, Sir."

"No problem, Zo."

They started the walk back to the ship.

"Strong-arm?" Zoe asked.

"Dead."

"The cargo?"

"Secure."

"Jayne?"

"Fine."

"Good," Zoe sighed.

"How are you hangin' in?" Mal asked.

"Good."

"That's good."

They got to the ship. Simon was struggling with one of the bodies. He had dumped the smallest of the corpses on the ground outside of the ship, but the others were too heavy for him. He dropped it and rushed over to Zoe.

"Let's go to the infirmary," he said in a very doctor-like way.

"I ain't arguin' with that," Zoe said tiredly.

They moved quickly to the infirmary where Mal set Zoe down on the other table. Jayne was asleep on the main one. Simon looked her over.

"It's only a gash. It'll be fine. You just need some rest," Simon said happily. All in all, everyone was in good shape.

Jayne woke up and looked over at Zoe. "What's wrong with you?" he asked gruffly.

"I was hit over the head and held captive."

"Gorramit, I always miss the action when I'm sleepin'!"

"Thanks for the concern, Jayne…" Zoe rolled her eyes.

"Well you're talkin'! That's fine to me!"

Simon noticed the bruises on Mal's neck. "Do you need to be examined?" he asked seriously.

"No, I'm fine…" he looked around. River wasn't there. Simon noticed too.

"Where's River?" he asked worriedly.

"I think I know…" Mal replied sadly.

"What's wrong?" Zoe asked. She knew that tone anywhere.

"Daisy…she's dead."

The room was silent. Everyone knew how much River loved her. Mal walked out to go find River.

She was kneeling beside Mal's coat. She was so still like a statue. Mal edged towards her cautiously. After looking at her eyes, he saw that the killer look in them had faded. Instead, sadness replaced it. He sank beside her. After a moment of just kneeling there, she turned towards him. He wrapped his arms around her as she silently cried.

****

The sun rose in the dark sky, filling it with brilliant shades of purple, orange, and blue. It was beautiful, but it shouldn't have been. That's what Mal thought as he walked with River to a meadow outside of town.

She carried Daisy in the same covered tray that she did when she first arrived on their ship. After finding the right spot, Mal dug a hole. She set the tray gingerly down in the earth. After placing a layer of dirt over it, she pressed a flower seed, a daisy seed to be exact, into the soil.

They lingered over the grave for just a moment. She once again turned to him and set her head on his chest so she could hear and feel his heartbeat. He held her close and looked down at the grave with a pang of grief. He actually was going to miss the creepy hairy bug…cute fuzzy pet

****

"You lied Badger," Mal said simply.

"I didn't lie. I said they kept my money and the goods. I never said how much I paid!"

"That's just splittin' hairs!"

"You got it though, right?"

"Yes, we got the gorram shipment. I have two of my crew in the infirmary with injuries and my girlfriend's pet got killed. I expect some generosity."

"We'll talk when you get here."

"Damn right we will."

He cut the wave and set the course before returning to his bunk to get some sleep. They had been up for over twenty-four hours.

He went down the ladder to find River in bed watching a capture, quietly crying.

"Hey sweetheart," he said gently as he sat beside her.

He looked down at the capture. It was of him and Daisy. Daisy was crawling all over him and he was freaked out. River's laughter echoed in the background. He smiled at the memory and so did she. He put his arm around her. She put her head on his shoulder with teary eyes.

"She never bit anyone. The one time she did…" her voice trailed off.

"I know darlin'."

"If she hadn't, you'd be the one I buried today. I saw it. My nightmare…you were dead...and…" her voice was cracking the way it always did when she was crying.

He brought her onto his lap and securely against his chest. After planting a kiss on her forehead he spoke.

"I'm alright. I'm right here and I'm not going anywhere." Repeating her words seemed like the natural thing to do. They brought comfort to him, and he hoped they do the same for her. He blamed himself. If he had just lied or been able to redirect them from Serenity-

"Not your fault…" she sniffed.

"Don't change a thing though, does it?"

She shook her head no before continuing. "It's so overwhelming. I lost her, but if I didn't I would have lost you. I miss her and wish that she hadn't died, but then you…" she paused and shut her eyes. "I couldn't have lost you. I'm just glad I didn't lose you both."

"It's terrifyin'. Thinkin' you're gonna lose the one you love…" he agreed.

"I'm sorry about earlier. I had to go in. Jayne needed my help."

"Don't apologize. I was just mad 'cause I was scared."

"I thought that you didn't get scared," she teased with a slight smile.

"I do get scared, but only when it comes to you. You're my Achilles heel."

"I'm impressed that you know what that is."

"I ain't all dumb. I know some things. I ain't as bright as you though."

She felt herself blushing. She leaned up and kissed him sweetly. She could feel him smiling.

"You know what," he sighed as she readjusted so she could sit up against his chest.

"Hm?"

"I'm gonna miss Daisy."

"You are? I thought that you didn't like her."

"She loved you, I love you. We had that in common. She was alright when she wasn't lookin' at me funny with those eight little eyes…"

She laughed. He kissed her temple.

"That little darlin' was alright…really…"

"Baby, did I ever tell you that I love you?"

"I don't know. Maybehaps you should say it just in case you haven't."

"I love you."

"I love you more."

"That isn't mathematically possible."

****

A month later…

"I wonder if he's gonna be all uptight and snobby like Simon," Jayne commented as he sharpened his knife.

"That ain't a nice thing to say," Mal snapped.

"Sir, it's Jayne."

"I hope he don't cry a lot," Jayne added with a frown.

"He's gonna be a baby. They cry…" Zoe sighed, slightly saddened by the fact that the first baby onboard wouldn't be her and Wash's.

"How long has it been now?" Mal asked as he started to pace.

"Labor is a long process," Zoe reminded him for the tenth time.

"I know," Mal muttered. "I just wanna meet River's nephew."

"You'll probably be babysitting quite a bit," Zoe smirked.

"Most like."

"Don't that bother you? Little cryin', poopin', pukin' people that don't do nothin' but sleep or annoy you to death?" Jayne asked.

"You're gonna make a great father," Zoe deadpanned.

"Jayne Cobb, pop of the year. I like it!" Jayne laughed.

"You're puttin' bad ideas in his head," Mal warned.

"I wouldn't wish him on any child," it was Zoe's turn to laugh.

"Hey!" Jayne growled.

River came in with a huge smile on her face.

"Come meet our newest crew member."

She reached out for Mal, who took her hand with a wide grin. They went into the infirmary where Simon was holding the tiny bundle with a massive smile. He had a twinkle in his eyes that Mal had never seen before. Kaylee was looking at her husband and son with the same look on her face.

"Everyone, this is our son Patrick Tam."

"We're gonna call him Ricky," Kaylee added happily.

River daintily took Ricky from Simon and smiled down at him.

Jayne looked over at the baby and grunted, "He got Simon's eyes."

Everyone was surprised by his somewhat awkwardly tender declaration. Zoe moved beside River and smiled at the little boy.

"May I?" she asked hopefully.

"'Course ya can!" Kaylee beamed.

River carefully passed him to Zoe. She was a natural. Mal knew that she would have made a great mother. It pained him to know that she would never get the chance with Wash.

"Hey there. I'm Zoe."

After another smile, she passed him back to River. She looked over at Mal with a small smile. He looked over at Simon and Kaylee.

"You don't have to ask, Captain…" Simon said seriously.

River placed Ricky into Mal's arms. He looked down at the cute little baby with Simon's blue eyes. River stood beside him and placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Ricky, this is your Uncle Mal."

He looked at River with an idiot grin and then back down at Ricky. "That's right little guy. I'm your Uncle Mal."

The end

There will probably be a few more continuations, so keep an eye out. I'd just like to give a shout out to Gwenfrewi72 for all the kind reviews and support! Thank you so much, it means a lot to me. Much love!