This Woman's Work
rating Pg 13
prompt 162 (She's Having A Baby – 1988)
This wasn't how he'd expected it to be. Not that he'd ever really imagined....
Well now, that was a lie. He had imagined parts of this. Parts of 'them'. A bit while the little guy was still alive; a darn sight more after he'd passed.
But, he'd never really put any faith in those dreams. Never really thought they'd amount to anything more than fantasies....
If he were a bettin' man, and he was, he'd have put the chances of his dreams coming true -- his chances of Zoe ever looking in his direction with anything more than 'gunning' respect – at one and a million. And even that might have been a bit high in his favor.
But, here he was. Here they were. In some backwater hospital, waiting for Mal and the crew to get Serenity on land. And waiting for their baby – his and Zoe's – to be born.
Yeah. His and Zoe's. A baby.
She was huge. Zoe was. 'Course, he'd learned quicker than quick not to say that to her face. But she was. Huge. With his child.
They didn't know what they were having – boy or a girl. Simon could have told them o' course, but Zoe didn't wanna know. So... they were waitin'.
Although, the wait, from the grip of Zoe's hand around his, was almost over.
He knew his girl was strong, but... hun dan, his hand was about to fall off.
And yeah, he'd said 'his girl'. Cuz that's what Zoe was.... His girl.
How'd he pull it off? He didn't know. Did he deserve her? Definitely not. But, again, here he was, and here she was, and ta ma de, they were about to have a baby.
Mal, Inara, Simon, and Kaylee, had almost choked on their coffee when Zoe announced that he was moving his gear into her quarters.
Mal had actually blinked, and spluttered out a confused, "Why?"
Fortunately for all of them, Inara was a wise woman and she had quietly elbowed Mal and promised to explain it to him later.
River, inscrutable River, had simply smiled, a knowing look on her face. To be that wise, that strong, and that young...?
Eventually, all of their shipmates had stopped staring at them, stopped asking the quiet 'why's', and they had simply, accepted them.
He was glad when they stopped staring. Stopped whispering.
But he wished they'd explain the 'why' of 'him and Zoe' to him.
Now, he wasn't a man to look a gift horse in the mouth. If Zoe wanted him to share her bed...? nothin' in the world would stop him from being there. Not even his own questions of 'why'.
But... the question still remained... still ate at him; he still wanted to know how Zoe... Zoe! could find him acceptable.
How could she go from Wash, to him?
Oh don't get him wrong, he knew he had some value....
He could out-shoot most men at anywhere from 50-500 yards.
And he was good with his fists.... Damn good with his fists.
He also knew how to handle himself with a woman. Or at least, he knew how to handle himself with a woman when he was in her bed. His girl didn't have no complaints in that area.
But, that being said, he knew Zoe wasn't the type to just bed a man because he was there.
She had to see something in that man.
He just didn't know what she could possibly see in him.
"I hate this." Her voice was low, strained.
And he'd never felt more helpless in his life.
"You're doing great piàoliàng."
Her grip on his hand tightened. "I don't want to give birth to our child on this... this... rock."
"Mal and the rest of 'em will be here any second." He glanced at his wrist comm... no change; the Serenity was still in orbit, which meant their crew was still at least thirty minutes away from them.
"Liar." She let her thumb brush against the back of his hand.
"Would it be so bad for our daughter to be born here?"
"Son..... And yes.... No.... I don't know." She closed her eyes and puffed out several breaths of air.
His hand had lost most of its feeling around an hour ago, but he could still tell she was having another contraction. With his free hand he grabbed the towel lying in the bowl of ice water on the bedside table. Wringing it out with one hand, he passed it over Zoe's forehead, then down her cheeks.
As her grip on his other hand loosened, he gave her a quick kiss on her temple and headed to the hospital room door. "Be right back."
She nodded, her eyes still closed.
In the hall he leaned the wall. The wall he wanted to punch.... They were on some hellhole planet, at some hospital that had one gorram doctor and 10 gorram beds, and their – family -- was nowhere near them.... and his girl... his girl was in pain.
He wanted to punch the nearest wall, the nearest thing, the nearest person. But there was no one here. No one but the hospital's single nurse; a tiny, mumbley woman who moved slowly between each patient room, fluffing pillows and breathing something in an old language about: the doctor coming to see them all soon.
Yeah, and he'd make it to heaven when he died.
Her breathing was heavy. The pain almost a part of her now.
The doctor had arrived twenty minutes ago. And after cleansing his hands he'd begun his rounds, speaking to the nurse in the same off-world dialect that she spoke in; roundly ignoring Jayne and his insistence that he look at Zoe first.
Even when he found himself pressed against a wall by Jayne's impressive bulk, he did nothing more than stare up at him and mumble a quiet phrase. "Beatall farra a whital; thianas hat e whita da ah mhyas. Cayha, ed grasha met grahns, mo na a whital din tah."*
Jayne had growled and released him. But he continued to pace the rooms as the doctor went from patient to patient
Finally the doctor moved into Zoe's room, smiling at her and patting her shoulder as he neared her. Lifting her shirt, he placed his hands on her belly. Pressing down gently, feeling the baby.
Jayne had known something was wrong before the doctor arrived. He'd known it for hours.
He'd known something was wrong, but he hadn't known what.
He still didn't know what was wrong when the doctor looked up at the nurse, and delivered a sharp: "Watah a bana vecha."**
The next thing Jayne knew, he was in the hall. The hospital room door blocking him from Zoe and the doctor and nurse.
Jayne had never had much use for gods or goddesses. He'd never put much faith in faith. More comfortable relying on what he knew. His strength. His guns. And sometimes, his shipmates.
But now... at this moment.
Pray God you can cope.
I stand outside this woman's work,
This woman's world.
Ooh it's hard on the man,
Now his part is over.
Now starts the craft of the father....
I should be crying but I just can't let I show
I should be hoping but I can't stop thinking
of all the thing i should've said
that i never said
all the things i should've done
that i never did.
All the things I should've given.
That I didn't....
He heard Zoe cry out... the first sound she'd made – sound of pain – since they'd arrived at this Zanial Hospital.
He felt his hands curl into a fist as his lips curled around a silent prayer.
He sold his soul to God and the Devil in those next few moments.
Jayne kissed Zoe's forehead, and then her cheek. A smile brighter than a newborn star lighting his face.
"She looks like you." He whispered.
"Good for her hmmm?" Zoe teased tiredly, her arms wrapped around Talia Wash Cobb. The perfect Talia Wash Cobb.
"Wei! Half my genes are in there."
"Which means she'll be a stubborn, moody, gunslinger by the time she turns eleven?" Zoe glanced up at Jayne before lifting her hand to his stubbled cheek and adding, "And softer than menaow on the inside." She looked him in the eyes offered a quiet "Ngo oi ney."
And suddenly -- Zoe touching him, their child in her arms – and he understood.
She'd chosen him because she loved him. She loved him.
He was a gorram lucky man.
*All will be okay; women have been doing this for years. Besides, if you break my hands, I will be of no use to you.
**"We'll have to take the baby."