TITLE: Jayne and Simon's Excellent Adventure

DISCLAIMER: Not mine


They managed to land on Sihnon before Zoe's labour started to get serious. Mal was pacing the room outside of the infirmary anxiously as Simon tried to keep Zoe calm, drinking from a cup of coffee as if his life depended on it.

Considering how tired he was, maybe it did.

Mal was beyond tense as his first mate and oldest friend went into labour under the protection of a wounded, exhausted doctor.

Simon was stretching his neck and slapping his face to keep from falling asleep, although Zoe's Mar'es Leg was firmly pointed at his head at the moment, and damned if that didn't keep a man well awake.

"Doc, I know you're tired, but that's my whole world you're dealing with right now. You best stay awake, dong ma?"

Simon nodded wearily, surprisingly unthreatened by the sawn off pointing at his face. Zoe cocked a brow but smiled at his display of newfound bravery before another contraction hit.

Jayne was slouched on the infirmary couch, refusing to go into the room in case Zoe decided to use his hands as stress balls again. His wounds had been redressed, and he was now sulking as River stroked one hand through his hair. He knew he probably deserved the kick, but damned if he didn't have a headache now.

She brought over a smoother and his bad mood faded somewhat.

She whispered that he would need a shower soon and any leftover anger disappeared completely.

Shiny.

Mal was running his hands through his hair as Zoe's pants became heavier, and when a warm hand touched his shoulder he spun quickly. He stopped dead at the sight of sparkling black eyes and a warm smile, grabbing up one of Inara's hands in his own and pressing his lips to her knuckles. His eyes were filled with nervous anticipation as he struggled to control his smile.

"Well?"

Her smile became a happy grin. "I am no longer a Companion. You are now looking at a fully registered Counsellor, complete with marriage license."

Mal whooped as he pulled her into a tight hug, pressing kisses all over her face as she laughed, swatting at him gracelessly. She was back, his beautiful, irritating, infuriating Inara was back, and she was ready to be his, to take him as hers.

Kaylee grinned as she watched the reunite, relieved that their little ship had its family back together, feeling happier than she had in a long time.

A pained moan echoed from the infirmary and Inara took Mal's hands from around her, moving to Zoe's side and grabbing a sponge suspended in cool water, running over Zoe's face. Simon's exhausted voice sounded from under the sheet.

"One more push Zoe, just one big one."

The first mate sat up, breathing heavily as she felt the contraction hit, and suddenly stars of pain were bursting before her eyes and her agonised scream ripped through the ship and just when she didn't think she could possibly do any more a tiny little cry echoed along with her own yell.

She fell back against the pillow as Simon wrapped her baby in a blanket, handing him over to his exhausted mother.

Everyone backed out of the room as Zoe stared into the little face. Mocha complexion, a head of black curls, and bright blue eyes. Wash's eyes. Zoe felt the tears sliding down her face as she looked into her late husband's last and greatest gift, running one finger gently down the soft cheek, her tears falling to wet the baby's tiny visage, blue eyes blinking up at her.

She looked down at the tiny person she had carried for the last few months, looked into the eyes she had loved for the past few years, looked into the world she had never known she wanted until she had met him. Blue eyes blinked sleepily, seemingly confused by this strange new world, and Zoe was briefly reminded of Wash's warm voice in their bunk late at night.

"You know any kids of ours will be basically encased in bubble wrap?"

"Yes husband."

"Seriously, between you and me and Mal and everyone else..."

"I know, husband."

"Are we really ready for this?"

"What do you think?"

"…"

"Well?"

"I think I love you. I think I've loved you more than I've ever loved anything. I think the sun sets when your eyes close in sleep and it rises again when I get the first blast of your morning breath. And with all that love floating about, I think that whatever got created as a result would be just…shiny."

"So…yes?"

"Yes."

Perfect.

She laughed as the tears flowed harder. "Wash, baby, I don't know if you're up there somewhere, I don't know if you're listenin', but look; look what we made. He's…he's perfect. An', an' I don't know if I can do this on my own, but thank you."

Grief and joy warred in her heart as the tears began to flow freely, the baby clutched to her chest as she mourned her lost love and celebrated her new one. Her baby boy, Wash's son, reached up a tiny hand to wrap miniscule fingers around her thumb, and she laughed through her tears, knowing that this little piece of Wash was everything she could have ever hoped for.

A hand laid itself on her shoulder, and she looked up into Mal's eyes. Years of understanding passed between them, a lifetime of words spinning through their locked eyes, and as the rest of the crew entered, as her family came to see their newest member, Zoe could swear she heard the bright laughter of a pilot echoing in the distance. River knelt down close, bringing a pale finger over the baby's cheek, cooing softly. She turned all seeing eyes to Zoe.

"Perfect, safest baby in all the 'verse."

Inara turned to Jayne. "Looking forward to doing this yourself soon?"

Later Simon reflected that he'd never heard anything so loud as a mercenary fainting to the floor.


"We's havin' a baby?"

"Yes, tiny life growing."

"How long?"

"Two months."

"So that night, when ya came ta talk ta me, when I...ya knew?"

"...yes."

"An' ya been tryin' ta tell me ever since?"

"Yes."

He groaned as he pulled her closer, grateful for the privacy of his bunk. He buried his face in her stomach, just like he had that night, but this time he felt her tension, felt her self-protective instinct hold her straight rather than melding her to him, hands stiff at her sides rather than running fingers through his hair.

He looked up, pained to see her face so carefully blank. He gripped her hips tightly, standing and bringing her with him, pulling her up and hooking one are under her ass as he felt her legs lock around his waist for balance.

Still that same expression, so carefully blank, so restrained. He ran his free hand over her face, tangling it in her hair. He saw the glint of wetness trickle down her cheek, felt her tremble with fear and misery.

He'd caused this.

He breathed into her hair. "Ah, baby-girl, what've I done?"

She didn't answer as he began to press light kisses down her neck, along her jaw, his stubble scratching at the porcelain skin he loved so much. Her face was wet with tears as he kissed her cheek, her forehead, resting his lips at her temple for a moment.

He paused, reaching his free hand behind him to his back pocket, pulling out her gift as her legs clung tighter to support herself.

He held up the necklace. "Ya know what this did?"

She tilted her head, pulling it out of his mind. "Kept you safe, found your strength and saved you both."

He nodded. "That's it baby-girl; reminded me there was somethin' worth fightin' fer, somethin' I was missin' but bad."

She trailed a hand down his cheek, following the line of his arm to the necklace. She stretched out her fingers to fit into the slots between his, the necklace tangling between their hands as she looked him in the eyes.

Those brown eyes brooked no deceit.

"Left us. Too laden with grief and fear to find any light."

He nodded again. "That I was, baby-girl, that I was. Couldn' see fer all that, didn't figure out that this was worth fightin' fer til I didn' know if I'd ever get ta fight again."

He brought their joined hands to her temple, holding it there tightly. "I get it now, I do. An' I ain't ever makin' that mistake again, dong ma? That's my little one in there, an' this here is my girl. Ain't nuthin' gonna take that away again."

He studied her face in the darkness, her cool body leeching its calm, smooth ice into his own heat. "Ya believe me, don't ya?"

Those eyes were boring into him, tearing away any secrets, any lies, any hints of deception. Any guards he had up he laid to waste, allowing her full reign of his mind, his heart, his soul. Slowly her eyes started tearing up again, but this time it wasn't anguish or misery colouring her features with their grey masks; this was joy.

"Always?"

"Fer ever'n ever, til I ain't nuthin' but dust."

He leaned forward then, pressing his lips to hers, desperate to erase the agony, the pain, the cruelty and the contempt he'd forced on her with his last kiss. He felt her mouth open, felt slim arms wrap around his neck as he kissed her deeply, tasting his future.

Much, much later, they lay in his bed. Her thin form was draped over his, her head buried in his neck as arms thick with muscle wrapped around her. He pressed one hand against the barely discernable bump on her lean stomach, holding her tightly and counting her breathes.

Her eyes opened, pinning him to the bed, stripping away any artifice. "She will love to dance."

A slow warmth unlike anything he'd felt before was blooming in his chest, spreading his mouth into a wide grin. "A girl?"

River nodded. "Yes, a little angel, pink wings floating her home."

Jayne felt his heart pound and fear laced his veins. "I'm gonna be a Da."

River sat up, glaring at him. "No, you will not be your father. You will laugh and play and dance and have tea parties whether you like it or not. You will hold her when she cries and rejoice when she succeeds and growl when she discovers boys and wipe away tears on her wedding day. You will be perfect, complete, whole, source of unconditional love."

Jayne couldn't look her in the eyes as his voice sounded plaintive and unsure through his...their bunk. "Can ya see all that? Can ya be sure? Can ya Read it?"

River tilted his head towards her, those brown eyes filled with patience, understanding, love. "Don't need to be a Reader to know that. Survived the wilderness, the forest, the lawmakers, the Reavers, even Cameron." He chuckled as she continued, "And kept her brother safe through all of it. She knows, has known, what kind of man he is far longer than he. He will be helpless, unable to argue, unable to fight; she will be spoiled rotten. Wrapped around her little finger from day one. And he will love every minute of it."

He smirked, pulling up her right hand and rubbing a thumb across her knuckles. "Gonna need a ring on that finger soon."

She sniffed primly. "She doesn't know if she wants to marry the big ape-man-gone-wrong thing."

Jayne laughed loudly as he pulled her up til she was lying on top of him, loving her playful grin, sitting up to kiss her hard before his eyes suddenly grew concerned.

She tilted her head. "Problem?"

He sighed deeply.

"Yeah…yer brother's gonna kill me."

TWO YEARS LATER

"You're doing it wrong."

"Doc I've got two o' these an' yer jus' on yer first, don't tell me how ta do it."

"Well the book says-"

"Damn the ruttin' book ta hell an' listen."

"…Is that on backwards?"

"…"

"Jayne?"

"Shaddup I'm thinkin'."

Snigger.

"Oh you wanna go Doc?"

"Back off you big ape."

"Or what?"

"Or I'll tell River how you let your daughter play with Betsy."

"Firstly, she weren't loaded, an' B, are ya that dumb?"

"What?"

"River already knows stuff I ain't even done yet."

"Oh, I see…even that thing on Cyrus?"

"Who do ya think bailed us out?"

"Oh my…"

"Now watch an' learn."

Tug on his cargo pant.

"Daddy, up up."

"Not jus' now baby I'm showin' yer idiot uncle how ta put a nappy on yer cousin."

Snigger.

"You're a terrible teacher."

"Oh yeah?"

"Throwing baby powder, are you honestly that childish?"

"Are ya honestly that dumb?"

"What kind of example does that set for your daughter?"

Whoosh.

"Got him Daddy!"

"That's it baby-girl, you show that mean ol' uncle o' yers."

"That's it!"

Four minutes later.

"Uncle, UNCLE!"

"Say I'm a good teacher."

"No!"

"WILL YOU TWO KNOCK IT OFF AN' JUS' SHOW ME HOW TO PUT A DAMN DIAPER ON THIS THING?"

Simultaneously. "Sorry Mal."

River, Kaylee, Zoe and Inara were watching the scene before them unfold. Two year old Evangeline Cobb was giggling uncontrollably as Jayne struggled to put a diaper on baby Celeste Cobb. Simon was breathing heavily after his scrap with Jayne, still not sure how to put a diaper on baby James Tam, and Mal was covered head to toe in baby powder as he struggled to fit a diaper onto the creepy plastic baby Inara had given him to practice with.

He wasn't sure how it wound up over the plastic creeper's head.

Zoe ran a hand over her son's head, Wash's piercing blue eyes looking up from Rex Washburne's little face. He leaned against her leg, enjoying the show as his uncles began to argue again, the babies and Evangeline all in various stages of giggling.

"Y'all should be experts by now."

"Zo', when I wanna hear from the peanut gallery, I'll ask."

"Don't think yer meant ta wind up wit' the diaper on yer arm, Cap'n."

"Well Jayne, maybe that's what I was goin' fer."

"Congrats then."

Inara sighed when Mal threw the plastic baby at Jayne's head, only to have Simon squirt more powder at his Captain. River and Kaylee ducked forward, snatching up their babies before their husbands managed to drop one, Evangeline giggling uncontrollably as her father, Uncle Mal and Uncle Simon all devolved into a dog pile of baby powder. River held out a hand for her little girl, her baby sister clutched safely in the Reader's arms as River muttered words under her breath that would have made Jayne blush.

If he wasn't too busy throwing the diaper at Mal.

Kaylee sighed, leaning against the heavily pregnant Inara so that James could look at the ex-Companion's sparkly earrings.

River turned in the doorway to look back at the idiots in the galley. Zoe sighed. "There can't be more than six brain cells between those three idiots."

Kayle shrugged. "I dunno, at least they ain't drunk this time."

Inara nodded. "Yes, I never need to see that again for as long as I live."

All four women shuddered at the memory.

The others turned to go but River stayed in the doorway for a moment, watching as her husband and brother began calling one another names. She smiled, feeling Evangeline's little giggles and Celeste's coos against her neck. She turned to leave the three males to their argument, wondering if any one of them would notice that their children were no longer in the room.

She sighed happily as the sounds of friendly tussle broke out once more.

Some things never change.

THE END


A/N: And that's all folks! This story has been so much fun to write, and I'm thrilled that you guys have seemed to enjoy it! To be honest I'm really sad to see it go…which tends to mean I want to write more of it…hmmm.

Anyway, thank you all for reading and reviewing this silly little fic!

Until next time Browncoats,

The Frisky Firelily