Mal was sitting in the kitchen later that night with a pack of froze protein over his eye. The throbbing kept him awake along with her absence from his bunk. He heard someone approaching and he hoped that it would be her. Instead it Simon. Mal didn't know why he was coming from the passenger dorms.
"Hey Doc. What has you up and about this late?"
"Working in the infirmary. Speaking of which, do you need me to examine that eye?"
"No, it's just a shiner. It'll be fine in a day or so. 'Till then I s'ppose it'll be all sorts of black and blue."
Simon nodded and then straightened his vest. Mal knew what was coming.
"Do you truly love my sister?"
"Yeah. I do. And I'm gonna do right by her."
"Are you going to do right by her child?"
"Yes I am whether its mine or not."
"If you don't, I will kill you."
"I know you will."
"Then we have an understanding."
Simon gave another little nod before heading towards Kaylee's bunk. Mal was relieved that things with the doc were worked out. He hoped it would be that smooth with everyone else.
Once she got over the initial shock of the situation, Kaylee thought the cap'in and River were a mite shiny. They were a far better match, she figured. As much as she disapproved of cheating, she was glad that they found each other. Mal and Inara never worked. They were too closed off. Cap'in kept everything inside and no one, except maybe Zoe, could get to it. But River was a reader. She could see right through him and that made them perfect for each other among a list, she actually made a mental list because there was nothing else to do, of about twenty reasons why.
Zoe wasn't surprised. Ever since River started sleeping with Jayne she could see a change in him. He was always distant whenever they were together. She knew that it bugged him. She saw the looks he'd give them. Sure she never thought that they'd actually get together, but that didn't matter. The love in his eyes said it all. She knew her captain and sergeant, and she knew that River was probably the best thing in 'verse for him. Honestly she was happy for them, told them herself, even though it brought up how much she missed Wash.
Jayne wouldn't speak to anyone. He stayed in his bunk unless he ran out of alcohol and protein bars. River and Mal made themselves scarce whenever he emerged. He needed time and River would give that to him. He deserved that much. She did cheat on him, refuse to marry him because she was in love with Mal, and then deliver the news that the baby could possibly be Mal's too thus breaking his fragile heart.
The other person hit hard by the news was Inara. However she handled herself with grace. She wanted answers, so one day she decided to talk to Mal about everything.
"Checking the cargo?" Inara's voice floated to him from the catwalk outside of her shuttle. He was in the cargo bay taking inventory.
"More or less," Mal replied with a faint smile.
"May I speak with you?"
"You can always speak with me, 'Nara."
He set the box he had in his hands down and wandered up the steps to talk to her.
"When did you and River first…?" she asked a little shakily.
"The night we were left on Harrisburg after the Reavers attacked. I didn't ever mean to hurt you or anything it just…we just…"
"Is that why you broke things off the next day?"
"One of them. I didn't want to keep hurtin' you."
"We never did talk, did we?"
"We're just too different I suppose."
"I guess so."
"Thank you for breaking it off when you did. You could have kept us both."
"I'm not that kind of man. I don't like sharin' and I don't like to be shared."
"Well, I hope that you don't think that you'll have to share her like you shared me."
"Thanks for bein' so dignified, as always. You probably should of slapped me."
"Slapped you? I think not. I'm not angry, just a little sad. I always wanted us to work out."
There was a pause.
"Would you mind terribly if I stayed?"
"Not at all. I need someone 'round to teach that baby some sophistication."
"I'll do my best," she laughed.
He smiled and started back down the steps to finish taking inventory.
"I hope everything works out," she added before going back into her shuttle.
"You 'n me both," he muttered under his breath.
River hugged Simon tightly. The week was up, finally, and the results were in. It was time to talk to Jayne. She found him in the kitchen. He had stopped hiding out in his bunk and the drinking started to cut back down again. He was pulling himself together.
"Don't leave," she said quietly as she entered the room. He looked at her and seriously considered walking out. "Please don't. I know that I don't deserve to ever speak to you again, but I need to. Just hear me out. Five minutes. That's all I ask."
There was something in her eyes that made him nod in agreement and sit down at the table without a word. She breathed a sigh of relief and sat across from him.
"What I did was wrong. I have no illusions about it. I shouldn't have cheated on you, but I shouldn't have stayed in the first place. I stayed even though I didn't love you and I'm sorry. I only ended up hurting you. I don't deserve your forgiveness. You can hate me. Blame me for this, not Mal."
"Gorramit girl! I don't hate you! I should, but I don't."
"No, you don't hate me. You hate him. It isn't his fault that I fell in love with him. It isn't his fault that he fell in love with me."
"But the hundan slept with you when you were with me!"
"What we did is wrong, but we both took part in that! He cheated on Inara too, Jayne."
"That don't make it right!"
"I'm not saying that it is! I'm saying the opposite! I can't justify it at all except for telling you that I love him! I was in love with him when you first came to me that night right here. We agreed on just sex and that's all I wanted because of him. I thought that I could move on, but I must have miscalculated."
"You were only with me 'cause I was there?"
"In the beginning, yes. But then I got to know you. You're a decent man. You can be crass and abrasive, but you can be sweet and caring. I really genuinely like you. I even love you, but I'm not in love with you."
"No, you love him."
"He has always been there."
"And I tried to sell you to the Feds once. I know that I hated you at first, but ya grew on me."
"And you grew on me."
"But you can't love me."
"I'm not right for you. You need someone that loves you with no exceptions."
"Don't mean that I loved you any less."
"I don't have the right to, but I need to ask a favor."
"What kind of favor?"
"I want you to do something for me. I want you to stay here on Serenity. I know that you've been thinking about leaving."
"I have. I don't wanna watch you 'n him all kissy…"
"I want you here. You were here before I was. This is your home. I shouldn't run you out."
"But you'll be here and I will and I can't have you."
"You can have my friendship."
"That ain't 'nough for me."
"But it's better than never seeing me ever again, isn't it?"
"If you stay, please stay civil with Mal. I don't want my baby growing up around that."
"About the baby, do you know who the daddy is yet?"
Mal was in his bunk looking for his gloves. He didn't know where he had put them. The hatch opened and a few seconds later he felt her small hands trail across his shoulders. He smiled and turned around to see her.
"Hey darlin'. What brings you to my bunk?" he asked as he encircled his arms around her tiny waist.
They kissed for a long amount of time since they had to keep their affections from prying eyes until everything worked out. He resumed the search. She sighed and easily found the gloves. She took one of his wrists in her hand and slipped it on. She did the same with the other hand.
"Thank you, sweetheart."
He kissed her on the forehead.
"Did you talk to that doc brother of yours today?"
"How is everything?"
"I also spoke with Jayne today," she sighed as she plopped down onto his bed.
"Oh?" he asked.
"I worked it out."
"Worked it out?"
"He's going to stay here and keep things civil between you two."
"I know that you're a mind readin' genius, but how did you pull that off?"
"Money? You paid him off didn't you? No, you slept with him didn't you?!?"
"Calm down! I only talked to him!"
"Talkin' got through to Jayne?"
"He still loves me. He's hurt, angry, jealous…but he doesn't hate me."
"No one could hate you."
"Besides, I convinced him to stick around and be like an uncle for our baby."
"Our baby?" he asked while his heart pounded in his ears.
"Simon got the results back…you're going to be a father."
He smiled wider than he ever had and kneeled so they were eye level. After putting his arms around her, he kissed her gently.
"We're gonna have us a littlest one…" he beamed.
"You're my little albatross. Little is already taken."
She laughed. "I see your logic there."
"I'm gonna be a daddy…"
"Yes you are."
"I love you."
"I love you too."
"And I love you…" he added as he talked to her tummy.
She laughed and they kissed again with all of passion and sweetness their first kiss had and they knew that this kiss was just the beginning.
Over the course of her pregnancy they kept moving forward. She moved into his bunk and then they got married. It was a beautiful ceremony, one that Jayne politely attended although he was drunk the entire time. Everyone thought that they were moving too fast, but to them it felt natural. Everything about their relationship felt natural.
What felt like the most natural thing in the 'verse was when they held their son nine months after that night on Harrisburg. Mal held River while she held their little, littlest, Daniel Hoban Reynolds. She looked up at Mal and declared, "You were right. That was not a mistake."
"I hate to say I told you so, but…I told you so."
"You just had to rub that in, didn't you?"
"Bein' right 'round you is very rare. I take what I can get."
She laughed. "That's true."
"See littlest, your mother is really ruttin' smart."
"Don't swear in front of Daniel!"
"Sorry there buddy. She's really freakin' smart. Better?"
He kissed Daniel on the top of the head before kissing River softly. Daniel started to cry in protest. Mal laughed and picked him up carefully. His crying calmed.
"I think that our littlest guy is a bit jealous," Mal smirked.
"He doesn't want you to take away my attention."
"Your mother is real great, and I'm afraid that there's only one of her to go 'round. We're gonna have to learn how to share her."
"I think that I can manage sharing my time with both of you."
He smiled at her and gently put Daniel back in her arms. He kissed her cheek.
"Here's somethin' you should know, Daniel. There will never be another her, ever. She's one of a kind. So are you. Who else has a beautiful genius mother and a washed up Browncoat for a father?"
"You're not washed up."
"Not since I got me you two."
"I feel the same way."
They exchanged smiles.
"He's gonna be somethin' else," Mal commented while looking at his son's dark eyes.
"The 'verse won't know what hit it."
"No, it won't."
"He's going to be a pilot."
"No, he's going to be a captain like me."
"No…he's going to take after me."
"I think he's gonna be a captain."
"A captain and a pilot."
"Mostly a pilot…"
He laughed. Everything definitely worked out. It was true, there would never be another River. Ever. And that River chose to be with him.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it!