Chapter 4- Nothing ever went right
Summary: It wasn't the way he wanted it to go

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It had been a few months and Mal was up and about again. He was in the corridor outside of the bridge clutching a small wooden box hoping that he was masking his thoughts or that she wasn't paying attention. He snuck another quick look at the ring and then shoved it back into his pocket before wandering up to the helm.

"Hey sweetheart," he grinned. He pressed a quick kiss to the top of her head and then leaned on the consol beside her.

"Hi," she eyed him carefully. "What are you hiding?"

"Nothing."

"Liar."

He just smiled. "We gotta get goin' soon. The restaurant opens in a few-"

"Can't. I have to watch Nadia tonight. Blonde and his wife are going out."

Of course his plans would be messed up. "Can't Simon and Kaylee watch her?"

"They're going with them. It's a married couple's dance."

"What about-"

"Preacher man is catching the evening mass. Inara has a client. Jayne…shouldn't be with left with children. Sorry, aiqing. Maybe tomorrow."

He sighed. "That's okay. We'll just eat in."

"Sorry again."

"Not your fault darlin'."

He walked out of the bridge towards the kitchen trying to come up with another plan.

****

Everyone left pretty early. Mal stayed at the table cleaning his guns. River walked in after putting Nadia to bed.

"She's asleep for now. Blonde says she wakes up a lot still."

She set the monitor down on the table and moved to the stove. He cleared the table off and went over to help make dinner.

They whipped something up quickly laughing the entire time. She handed him a plate and then they sat at the table.

The mood was perfect. Everything was perfect. The dim lights. The soft hum of Serenity. This was home, better than any gorram restaurant. He ran his fingers across the box in his pocket, collecting himself before he asked.

"River," he started.

"Somethin' smells good!" Jayne exclaimed as he bounded into the kitchen. He helped himself to what was left and then plopped down at the end of the table. Talk about a mood kill.

Just when Mal thought that the situation couldn't get any worse, Nadia's shrill cry screamed through the monitor.

"I'll be back soon," River said softly. She kissed Mal on the lips on her way.

"Ewww! I'm tryin' ta eat here!" Jayne cried.

She paused in the doorway with a sweet smile. "Just because you don't kiss on the mouth doesn't mean that everyone else shouldn't."

Mal laughed at the look on Jayne's face.

"Ruttin' moonbrain," he grumbled.

"Jayne is still a girl's name," River's voice called from the corridor.

He slammed his chopsticks down. "Feng dian mie nu wu!"

"Watch it," Mal snapped.

"She started it!"

"No you started it 'cause you can't take mature relationships."

He grunted in response. Mal looked down at the box under the table, ignoring Jayne for a moment or two. He picked up one of the guns Mal had been cleaning.

"Damn Mal! Is this a new one? Oooh it's got one of them new clips that goes with it!" he loaded it excitedly. Mal looked up and saw the gun pointed at him.

"JAYNE! PUT IT DOWN!"

"What? Nobody cleans guns with a loaded clip nearby! I checked it's empty-"

"No no no! You don't point guns at people when they might be-"

-Bang-

Mal's hand flew to his forehead above his eye where the blank had just grazed him. "OUCH!"

"Gorramit Mal! I didn't touch the trigger, I swear!"

"Even when a gun ain't loaded you don't point it at people!"

River ran in with a sobbing Nadia. "Mal? What happened?"

She saw the blood and instantly passed the baby to Jayne so she could stop the bleeding.

"What the hell?" Jayne roared with the infant in one hand and the gun in the other.

She pried Mal's hand away so she could look at it. "You shot him?" she snapped.

"Would you shut this gorram kid up?" Jayne shouted over Nadia's wailing.

"You shot him?" she repeated.

"Everyone just calm-" Mal tried.

"The trigger moved on its own!"

"NO TOUCHING GUNS! You don't POINT IT AT PEOPLE!"

"IT AIN'T MY FAULT!"

Nadia kept crying and they kept shouting. Mal sighed. Nothing ever went right.

"SHUDDUP!" he finally bellowed. Even Nadia obeyed.

River gently pressed a napkin to the wound. He put his hand over hers. "I'm fine. It was just a blank."

"It could have been worse," she commented, sending Jayne a death stare.

"Someone take this thing away from me! I think it wants to puke on me…"

River took her from him pointedly, placing her in her highchair and then returning to Mal's side tenderly putting a hand on his face.

"Peng heng xian zhuo wu jian!" she spat.

"I am not! You take that back!"

"What are you going to do? Shoot me too?"

"It was an accident!"

"You still shot him!"

"It weren't my fault!"

Their shouting continued for another few minutes and Nadia started screaming again. Mal had enough. It wasn't the way he wanted it to go, but he knew that it would stop the fighting.

"River!" he shouted. She ignored him and continued to call Jayne names in Chinese. "Will you marry me?"

The room fell silent, other than the crying.

"What?" River and Jayne said in unison.

"Will you marry me?" he repeated as he set the open box on the table. Her eyes lit up and a wide smile crossed her face.

"Yes."

He slipped the ring on her finger. Jayne watched in shock as the now engaged couple kissed. Nadia started crying again. River reluctantly went over and soothed her before returning to her fiancé's side.

"Can you believe that we had the wrong night? It's so weird," Wash laughed as he, Zoe, Simon, and Kaylee wandered into the kitchen.

"Sir?" Zoe asked.

"What?" Mal responded.

"Why are you bleeding?"

River glared at Jayne who grunted, "It weren't my fault."

Wash took Nadia from River, pausing to stare at her hand. "Fly girl, why is there a big ring on your finger?"

She grinned. Kaylee squealed and hugged her and Mal at the same time. "THIS IS SO SHINY! FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY!"

"You're gettin' married?" Zoe asked. Mal nodded. She gave him a warm smile. "Congrats."

"I'm with Kaylee on this one. FINALLY!" Wash exclaimed. He hugged River and slapped Mal on the back.

Simon was about to threaten Mal with bodily harm, but then River smiled at him and he swore that his little sister was whole again. So he merely looked Mal in the eye and said, "Don't screw it up."

"We're gonna have to tell Shepherd he's got another ceremony to perform. Hopefully this one won't be as…exciting?" Wash smirked.

"Do you mind if we join you?" Zoe asked. "Wash got his dates mixed up. The dance ain't 'till tomorrow and we didn't get any food."

"Not at all," Mal shrugged.

"I should take a look at that wound. How did it happen?" Simon asked.

"Jayne fired a blank at me."

"IT WEREN'T MY FAULT!" Jayne defended angrily.

Simon moved in to take a peak, but he pulled away. "I'm fine doc. Better than fine."

River's smile returned and he wrapped an arm around her with a quick kiss on her cheek.

They popped open a bottle of rice wine and gathered around the table.

Wash cleared his throat to get everyone's attention. They all stopped talking and laughing to hear what he had to say. "I'd like to make a toast. So everyone raise a glass."

Everyone obliged. "To the future Reynolds clan," he exclaimed.

"FINALLY!" Kaylee cried after everyone had taken a sip of their wine.

A few minutes went by of general chitchat and merriment.

"What's everyone celebrating?" Inara inquired as she entered the kitchen.

"'Nara. Hi. I thought you had a client," Kaylee commented.

"I did, but he got called away on business. What's going on?"

The room was a little tense. River broke the silence. "We're getting married."

She held up her hand. Surprisingly, Inara smiled and hugged River. "Congratulations mei mei."

After that the room relaxed. She went over to Mal and hugged him too. "Don't mess this up."

He smirked. "Your faith in me is overwhelming."

"I know. It's incredible," she joked. They exchanged smiles communicating silently. They were okay again.

After another hour of talking and celebrating, they retired to their bunks.

To say that it didn't go right wouldn't be accurate. Just because it didn't go as planned didn't change what happened. She said yes. That's all that mattered. So he figured that it went perfectly.

"Why would I have said anything different?" she asked once she shut the hatch behind her.

He was about to answer, but she silenced him with a kiss. "Rhetorical question."

"I love you, darlin'."

"I love you too."

They kissed again and started tossing their clothes onto the floor as they tumbled onto their bed. He kissed her lightly, pulling away to look into her eyes.

She put a hand on his face. "Thank you for fixing me."

"You're the one that fixed me."

She gently kissed him again. Nothing ever went right.

…before they found each other.

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The end

Thanks for sticking with it to the end. Sorry it took so long to finish. Work got a little crazy lately and I haven't had as much time as I did. I hope you enjoyed it.

(Feng dian mie nu wu- Crazy little witch

Peng heng xian zhuo wu jian- big-bellied long-snouted dog oaf)