TITLE: Curtain Call (Epilogue)

DISCLAIMER: Weren't mine in the last six chapters, and I probably haven't got 'em now.

A/N: An ending to this tale, thanks so much for coming on the journey with me. This has been my first fic with real angst…even if I can't seem to make it stick! Luckily y'all don't seem to mind too much! If Lily seems a little advanced (i.e thoughts and vocabulary) just keep in mind she's River's kid, so I'm using a little artistic license.

CURTAIN CALL

It had been one year since his girl had woken from her death sleep. One year since he'd been given back what he had so nearly lost forever. One year since he had been given more than he could have ever hoped for.

It had been six months since he'd made her his wife, and it had only taken that long because his Ma had waved him and given him a chewing out like none he'd ever heard before. There was no way she was letting him get married anywhere but his home planet. It had taken them two months to get to his home planet of Deja, two months of daily waves from his mother demanding to speak to her soon to be daughter-in-law and see her beautiful grandbaby.

His Ma had been waiting as soon as he'd landed, sprinting past him to envelope River in a massive hug. They were the same height, both slender as willows, and Vera Cobb had delighted in telling the crew about her son's penchant for pretty things.

She'd swept up her granddaughter from Jayne's arms, cooing and talking to her, charmed and enchanted by both mother and tiny lookalike. Finally she'd turned to Jayne with proud eyes that held unshed tears of happiness. "My baby boy, you've done well." He'd grinned widely, picking her up as he hugged her, and his Pa and brothers had been only moments behind, creating a massive dog pile on their long lost Jayne.

Their wedding had been bigger than he would have liked, but River had simply smiled her special smile and told him "packs must meet clans to become tribes". Simon had led River down the aisle, handing her over to Jayne with a look that spoke of the kind of understanding two men could only have in the face of nearly losing their world. Mal had officiated, looking straight ahead less anyone see the tears in his eyes.

Ma Cobb had held her granddaughter, occasionally allowing her tall husband a turn, smiling and crying the whole time. Lily had giggled at her parents happiness, enchanting everyone around her with her long dark lashes and ready gummy smile. Her Mama had looked so pretty that day, all dressed in a simple strapless gown of pale cream, her long dark hair loose with tiny flowers strung through it. Daddy was just in his cargo pants and boots, but he was wearing a red shirt with no lady faces on it. Mama said Daddy had always looked better in red.

Jayne thought about dancing his first dance with River had the reception; sweating and nervous because he couldn't hold a beat if his life had depended on it. She'd stepped back after only a few moments, frowning, and he had been sure he'd blown it when she ran to the side quickly. But she returned with his daughter held tightly in her arms, and he'd grinned at how well his wife knew him. He'd simply swept them both up, spinning them around and listening to the ringing sounds of their laughter. His whole clan and crew had burst out laughing, but the sight of the giant man with his tiny, slim wife and bubbly baby girl was truly delightful to every onlooker. Jayne leaned his head back in the galley, briefly whisked away to that moment. Until another scream ripped through the ship.

He sighed, picking his daughter up from her spot on the table top next to his unloaded guns and trudging down to the infirmary. Mal had been beyond anxious when Zoe had gone into labour that night, eventually requiring a sedative from Simon, who was in turn reamed out by a furious Zoe.

"If I ain't takin' any don't you dare give 'em to him." Inara was now waking up a slightly dazed Mal, while River calmly sat on the other bed. When Jayne and Lily entered she beamed at them, taking the little baby from Daddy and moving forward so he could swing an arm around her waist. Simon was working frantically, still feeling the pain of River's own sickness, and Kaylee was fretting just outside the door. The little mechanic was twisting the wedding band on her finger. She had no idea how to tell her worried husband that she was going to be going through the same thing in only eight months, but thought perhaps now wasn't the best time.

Simon, realizing that his panic was making him unfocussed and sloppy, quickly turned to his sister. His eyes said it all. She simply smiled at him. "All will be well." He'd visibly relaxed at those words, not bothering to reflect on how much he trusted his sister's Reading.

Jason Washburne entered the world exactly 364 days after Lily Cobb, and if the little girl minded that it was so close to her own birthday, she didn't say a word. Although her vocabulary was expanding at a terrifying rate. Jayne was still confused as to how he'd managed to distract her after she'd asked what "copulation" was.

Zoe reached out for her son, drenched in sweat and panting but looking happier than she had in a year. The bright blue eyes of her late husband stared back up at her, and she felt the tears streaming down her cheeks, mingling with the sweat of exertion. Everyone but Mal left the room, the Captain now fully awake and simply standing by the bed. He didn't say a word.

He didn't need to.

Zoe had recovered quickly, out of bed and moving around the ship with the little boy strapped to her chest after only two days. She'd only stayed the second day because Simon had forced her, and even that had been difficult. She looked a mite funny, all fierce and stoic but smiling privately whenever Jason would move against her chest. The baby boy was truly striking, his father's bright blue eyes standing out against his mocha face and dark curly hair. Wash would have been proud.

Kaylee was never one for being able to keep a secret, so it was no surprise when she and Simon came to dinner one night that the doctor had that strange mix of pride and joy and terror on his face. Inara had smirked privately at Mal's reaction, knowing how much the Captain couldn't resist little Lily, or stop himself from talking to Jason in that silly voice. All the anger and bluster was a lie, and the rest of the crew knew it just as well as she did. As congratulations were passed around the table, the annoyed look in his eyes softened as he proudly surveyed the crew he had assembled, the family he had stumbled upon.

Lily sat on her father's lap at the dinner table, occasionally reaching out and putting a protein covered hand on a strand of her Mama's hair. If River minded, she never said a word, only smiling and gently putting the hand back every time. The game delighted Lily no end, until she noticed the new face. She pointed.

"Bubby. Bubby Wash." Jayne smiled as he patted her head. She looked up at her big Papa, her head bending back to lean against his chest. "Mine?" Jayne shook his head, "No baby, he's Aunt Zoe's."

Lily nodded wisely, standing on her chubby legs (well, leaning really, as Jayne had one hand bracing her back) and turning on her father's knees to face him. She laid a hand on either cheek.

"Daddy mine? I can keep?"

Jayne looked over to River, who smiled happily. She cleared her throat, her daughter turning to look at her Mama. "Must share little Cobb." Lily nodded again.

"Ours? We can keep?" She looked back at her Daddy now, waiting for her answer. His eyes looked happy; she liked it when Daddy looked happy, even if he only looked happy for her and Mama.

"As long as you want me baby girl." Lily beamed at her father and his chest swelled with pride as she gently patted his cheek. Her sweet little voice rang proudly through the galley as she made her declaration.

"We keep forever Daddy."

"Well baby girl, that's good enough for me."

Yup, forever sounded just perfect to him.

THE END

A/N: The end of this little tale, gentle readers. I can't express my appreciation for your ongoing support – you're all just too damn lovely! I don't know if I'll ever write a sequel to this, but who can say. I hope you've all enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Now I really should finish Occasions before I start anything else!

Until next time Browncoats!

The Frisky Firelily