TITLE: Juggling

DISCLAIMER: Not mine.

A/N: The 9th and final chapter in this little series. Thanks so very much for all of the wonderful support you've given it, I really needed this to jumpstart my muse! A few days break and then Aftermath will be back with a vengeance :)


Jayne sat in the galley. He had the latest copy of Weapons Weekly in his hands, the subscription a gift from Kaylee and Simon on his last birthday. He was eyeing off a beautiful Kydent C3990 Blaster, the barrel rigged to a hair trigger that released a lethal energy blast to the victim.

From his lap a soft voice sounded. "Inadequate, too early in the series to have worked out the kickback force, still enough to knock a man back through a brick wall." He looked down at River, who was lying with her head in his lap, daydreaming as he read.

He smiled down at her. "But she looks so damn shiny." She shook her head. "Two months until C4000 series is released, optimal weapon following alterations to kickback strength." He sighed. Two months. He could wait two months.

He looked to where their hands were linked atop her stomach, the side of her face resting in the nook of his arm. The light briefly caught the sparkling ring on her left hand and he smiled to himself, looking at the thicker band on his own.

When he'd proposed it had been a surprise even to him. It had been early in the morning, a few weeks after he'd gotten sick. He'd been watching from the kitchen table while River brewed him a cup of coffee when she'd picked up a few apples from the bowl on the bench. It was a private joke between them - whenever they were on Persephone he would buy a few apples for her to use however she wanted and these had been left over from her last visit to the street children.

The rest of the crew were also sitting around the table, eating their breakfast and talking in low voices as was their custom in the morning. As the coffee brewed River distractedly picked up another apple, and then a third. She absentmindedly began tossing them in the air, and before Jayne knew it she was juggling them. He stopped dead, the spoonful of protein dangling in front of his open mouth. His girl could juggle. There was something ridiculous and adorable about the concentration on her pretty face as she expertly tossed the apples in the air and caught them.

She was wearing his orange t-shirt and a pair of his boxers, her hair tousled from sleep, one shoulder left bare by the baggy fabric, looking too damn cute for her own good. And she was juggling. The sight made him burst out into free, uninhibited laughter, the sound ringing warmly through the ship.

The others started in surprise, looking to where River was still juggling the apples, smiling at the laughter from Jayne. The others began to join in too; there was something a little insane about her juggling this early in the morning, and Jayne's laughter was infectious.

As he looked to where she was smiling at him Jayne suddenly realized something. This girl was standing in the kitchen, making him coffee. This girl had made his breakfast. This girl never demanded he change or berated him for acting like an idiot from time to time. This girl liked making him smile, liked simply being with him. This girl never expected long talks about feelings or big romantic gestures. This girl always chose the most violent, bloody vid she could find whenever they watched a movie on the cortex. This girl looked after him when he was sick and this girl could do things in bed that made his eyes cross. For some strange reason this girl seemed to love him just as much as he loved her. This girl was smart, beautiful, funny, kind and incredible.

And she could juggle.

He stood and moved to her quickly, the sudden action making her lose concentration and drop the apples. He didn't even look as they rolled over the floor, just bent quickly down on one knee. His voice was rough with nerves. "Marry me?"

She'd stared at him for a moment, the look of actual shock on her face pleasing him a little. It was rare one got to surprise a Reader but he'd managed to do it. She gaped at him for a moment while the rest of the crew held their breath.

Then suddenly her face broke into that radiant smile he loved so gorram much and she began nodding, tears welling up in the corners of her eyes. He grinned as he stood, sweeping her into his arms as the rest of the crew began to clap and cheer, spinning her around the galley until her tinkling laugh filled the room.

They'd married a week later. Mal and Simon had cried harder than Kaylee.

So now here he was, the shiniest girl in the 'verse resting her head in his lap while she informed him about when to buy the best weaponry. He looked again to where their clasped hands were rested on her stomach. The area had been flat not long ago but there was now a visible bump on her lower abdomen.

He gently rubbed his hand against the location of his unborn baby, a proud smile on his face. He looked down to River, her large brown eyes staring up at him, shining with excitement and happiness.

He'd discovered a lot of things in the last year. Some had been arousing, some had been infuriating. Some things had been confusing, other had been amusing. Many had been wonderful, a few had been downright terrifying. He'd seen her as a little crazy girl, as a problem, as a cook, as a mystery, as a woman, as perfect, as a challenge, as a lover, as a wife, and now he was going to get to see her as a mother.

But more than anything he saw her as River. And he reckoned that was the best damn discovery he'd ever made in his life.

THE END


A/N: I know, I know, super corny cheesy ending but it makes me happy. Hopefully you guys enjoyed it too. Thank you again for the kind reviews, you are all so lovely and generous it never ceases to amaze me :)

Until next time Browncoats,

The Frisky Firelily