Summary: Love, Sex, Marriage, Babies. Things don't always happen in the "proper" order. But they always turn out how they were meant to. Kaylee/Jayne. Post BDM. Some Mal/Inara if you squint and look for it. From Kaylee's POV with occasionally detours into Mal's. Edited for typos 6/23/11
Disclaimer: Firefly doesn't belong to me. It belongs to Joss Whedon. Grrr. Arrggh!
Warnings: Very, very fluffy. Movie theater popcorn has more substance. I tried to make it not too sappy, but yeah, well. . .Don't look for a plot either. Not beta'ed. Rated M in abundance of caution, a few bad words just one small suggestive scene.
Mal feels tempted to ask Kaylee to repeat herself, but he doesn't think the news would get any better the second time around.
"Mei Mei, I know you're a young girl, but we both know you ain't exactly innocent. I thought you knew how to take care of yourself in these matters."
"I do, Captain, but the last shipment of contracep was bad."
He gets a panicky feeling deep in his gut, but doesn't move a muscle. "Does Inara know about this?"
"Yup. She got the same batch I did, but Inara always uses at least two different ways on account of her profession and all."
He shifts back in his chair feeling a touch easier. "I don't suppose the disappearance of one of my shuttles and two folks by the last name Tam has anything to do with this?"
Kaylee's lip juts out in that stubborn mule way of hers. "He told me it was selfish to have a baby when we had to mind River. Said it wasn't proper on account of us not being married and all. Told me I had to get rid of it or give it up."
Which is exactly what he wants to tell her. But he holds his tongue. Couldn't be so heartless. Besides, he could see the idea wouldn't hold weight with little Kaylee. She might be sweet, but she was strong minded when she had a notion to be.
"I don't suppose there's any hope of him coming back and making an honest woman of you?"
"Not after me kicking him in the balls, there ain't." She says it with pride.
"That weren't particularly smart. Who's going to care for you when the baby comes? Seeing as we ain't got no doc."
"My ma brought a few babies into the world. Taught me some things. I figure Inara can help me with the rest."
He lowers his forehead, feeling the ache coming on. Why did a crew have to make life so complicated? His first love was his boat and he wished everyone else could say the same. Hell, he supposed there was room in the engine room for a bassinet. Just this once.
He doesn't glance up or say another word. Gives her a nod. She pecks him on the cheek.
"Thanks, Captain. You won't regret it."
"I already do." But he was talking to thin air.
Kaylee hides out in the engine room when Mal breaks the news to the rest of the crew. She ain't ashamed exactly, but she doesn't want to see the looks on their faces when they know.
So she sighs when she hears those big boots clomping. She doesn't even have to look to know who it is.
"Go away. I ain't in a mood to watch your vid of the two women and the goat."
"Got rid of that one." He says.
She slides out and sits up, but doesn't get off her rolling cart.
Jayne clears his throat and crouches down next to her. He pops open a small box made of mahogany or some rare old wood. Inside is a small ring, threads of copper wrapped together. It shines as if someone had polished it.
"They sent it along when Ma died. Don't know why she kept it. Pa was a bastard. Suppose she had her reasons." He takes out the ring and drops it into her hands.
She holds it up to admire it. "I don't understand."
"Cobb ain't a great name, but it's all I have. I'd like to give it to you and the baby. If you'll have me." He swallows hard.
"Oh Jayne. No. It wouldn't be right."
"He ain't ever coming back."
She sighs. "I know, but I don't need any favors. Besides I can't ask no man to marry me like this." She pats her belly and gives him a smile.
"I'm sure. I should have seen it coming. Great Aunt Gert always said I'd bring shame on the family some day." She tries to laugh, but the sound doesn't come out quite right.
"You wouldn't have just my name. You'd have my body too."
She crinkles up her forehead. Why does he always have to be so disgusting?
"Ain't like that, Mei Mei. The Black can be a dangerous place for a woman. I'm a mean son of a bitch. I'd do everything in my power to make sure no harm came to you. Either one of you."
"Your job is to put your pi gu on the line for money and now you're saying you want to take it on part time? For me, for free? Why?"
Jayne rubs the back of his neck. She can tell he's trying to conjure up words. "There ain't no call for a child to grow up without a father. I ought to know. I can't promise I'll be a great family man, but I'll do my gorram best."
Kaylee places the ring in the box, closes the lid and folds her hands over it primly. "Well, I expect I'll have to ponder over this one for a while."
She doesn't say yes, but she doesn't say no exactly. She tucks the box up on a little shelf where she can't see it too often. Doesn't breathe of it to anyone and neither does he.
Jayne says it ain't right for a pregnant woman to sleep in a hammock. Says her bunk is too far from the engine room too, so he gives her his bunk. She told him he didn't have to, but he moves all her stuff there, as pig headed as he is. He leaves the little box right by his bunk. She could move it, but instead she leaves it there.
His room smells like whatever he uses to clean Vera, but it's not a bad smell. Sort of familiar and it reminds her of the sky before rain.
He doesn't say where he's bedded down and she doesn't ask. Maybe he'd take Simon or River's old room or more than likely the engine room. Has a hard time imagining him curled up in the little hammock of hers. Always did like to be away from other folk.
After she's been sleeping in his bunk for a week, she gets up a little early to use the facilities. She's been doing a lot of that lately. She trips over something. Not something, someone. A big someone.
He gives her some kind of dopey grin and says this was the most comfortable spot in the boat. But she knows. He can't get it through his thick skull she doesn't need a watchdog. So she sighs, tells him he was born foolish and drags a pallet from River's old room. Lays it on the floor for him and tells him to get some rest.
She expects he'll get tired of it and find another spot, but he doesn't.
When morning sickness grips her hard, Jayne doesn't say anything. He just grabs a bucket and a wet rag, hands it to her and falls back asleep. The man could sleep through anything apparently. It gets to so she can't stand to see protein any more, coming or going.
One morning, there are slices of apple and glass of water waiting for her by the edge of the bunk. The sickness leaves after the first month, but the apples slices are still always there when she wakes up.
It wasn't captainly to snoop, but it would be hard for Mal not to notice two of crew are bunking together. Maybe Kaylee's got herself a taste for brainless muscle after her nonsense with the Core doctor. Maybe Jayne wants to sport and not worry about putting a baby in a woman's belly. Doesn't matter. He's long given up figuring out other people's ways, in and out of the bedroom. The two still work together the same. Maybe a touch more civil, but not much. Nothing will come of it and it's best not to interfere.
With Wash and River both gone, Mal assigns both Zoe and Jayne to shifts as pilot. It means extra work for all of them, but they take small jobs and make more stops. He reckons more time in dock might even be good for them.
Until the day Jayne comes into the canteen swearing a blue streak about girls that had to get up and whistle like they was the rutting lark of the rutting morning before people had their rutting coffee.
"Who would this little early bird be?" Mal says.
"Kaylee. First she about pukes her guts out every morning, now she's got to whistle." Jayne slams the cabinet door to end his sentence.
Mal takes a slow sip of his own coffee, savors it, and waits for Jayne to realize what he's said.
The big man opens and shuts his mouth like a carp, turns and walks out.
"Crew seems a touch cranky. I best hire on a new pilot." He says once Jayne is gone.
"Bit of the devil in you today, Sir." Zoe doesn't even break a rhythm from the booties she's knitting.
Mal smiles into his cup. "Can't believe the man left without getting his coffee. And after such a pretty speech too."
As time goes by, it seems more natural for Jayne to be there every night. Even his snoring becomes a comfort to her. Then one night, he sits bolt upright and stares into the dark, screaming.
Kaylee ain't always the brainiest, but you didn't have to be to be brainy to figure this one out. They were deep in the Black right now. Reavers were sidling in closer from the edge of space. He was having a nightmare. A bad one. She shouts and chucks a shoe at his head, but it doesn't work.
She tries grabbing him and shaking him, but it's like a mouse trying to grab onto a bear. She can't budge him. Time for something a mite dangerous. She tucks up her nightie carefully and crawls into his lap. If this makes him more panicky he could fling her like a rag doll or worse snap her in half. Best not to think about that.
She hums at him like he was a little child and wraps her arms around him. At first his body goes all stiff, like he's more scared than ever. Then slowly she feels him sink into her. The full weight of him resting on her is about enough to make her fall over, but it feels good somehow, a warm heavy blanket. She keeps humming and singing and stroking his hair.
When his breathing goes slow and soft and she's sure he'll sleep well, she eases him down and creeps into bed. He doesn't say anything in the morning and she figures he doesn't remember. It starts to happen regular and it gets to so she doesn't mind so much.
One night though, something different happens. She's about to scoot, but his arms tighten around her. She squeaks in surprise.
"Hold a minute." His voice is low and gruff.
"You're awake." He might have mentioned that before.
"I felt it." He says.
"Felt what?" She says, feeling a bit nervy about where this could be going.
"The baby. Felt it move."
"Yup, this little one is a kicker." She takes his hand and places it on her belly. It's the least she can do. Then she feels it, the little quicksilver feeling like a tug on a rip cord. His eyes widen in something like wonder.
"Go Se." Only Jayne could react something so sacred with profanity. Still there's something tender and hopeful in his voice.
And that's it. A little piece of her heart breaks off, never to return.
The next day, she wears the ring. Not on her finger, but on a leather strap around her neck. Jayne nods when he sees it.
Mal thought he was safe from being amazed at the peculiar whims of folks, but damn if Kaylee hasn't changed his mind. Why couldn't women be rational creatures?
"No, Mei Mei. You can do better."
"I could do a lot worse." She's always got to see the best in people, even when there ain't no "best" there.
"He ain't ever going to be a good man. Not by any stretch of the imagination." He says.
For a moment it looks she'd like to argue with him but instead her chin pops up. "I don't care."
"Kaylee, you're part of my crew. We're all going to stand by you. Don't need to take another man's name for that."
"You're all going to stand by me, but who's going to be the baby's pa?" She says.
Jayne Cobb a father? It was enough to strike terror in a man's heart.
He finds Jayne in the cargo bay, sitting on a box and scraping at a big block of wood with a knife.
"You're too old and too big and too ugly for her. Not to mention mean."
Jayne grunts. "Don't I know it." But he doesn't pause from his work.
Mal grabs the block from him. He'd like to hit the man over the head with it and knock some sense into him, but instead he turns it over. It looks like the head board of a cradle. Etched on it is something. . . It ain't ribbons or little animals or flowers, the normal things you'd carve on something for a baby.
Mal tilts it this way and back again. It's a crude outline of Serenity herself.
Mal hands the wood back. Shakes his head. It was plum mystery how the man could be deadly with a knife, but not know how to whittle worth a damn.
Now they both come together. Holding hands no less. While he's piloting and can't shoo them away. He figures Jayne's the one going to fight, but Kaylee does all the talking.
He slams a hand down on the console to stop her jabber.
"This is still my Firefly. You two can rut like the beasts of the field, all night, every night for all I care. But I don't hold with crew marrying."
"You let Zoe do it." Kaylee says.
"Zoe and Wash was going to go ahead and do it no matter what I said." He'd never admitted it out loud, but that had been the truth of it. He remembers the steely glint in Zoe's eyes like it was yesterday.
Kaylee raises an eyebrow at him.
He shakes his head again. "No."
"Did the Captain ask you to do this?" Kaylee asks.
Inara pauses, tea cup half way to her lips. "Of course not. I thought it might be better, easier for you -"
"Do you not want to help with the baby no more?" Kaylee feels her heart sink a little.
"No, but I thought you might be happier if you went back to your family, to stay until the baby's born." Inara says.
And how's your family feel about you being a Companion and all?"
"They're very proud. It''s a great honor. "
"Then why don't you ever visit them?"
Inara gives a little shrug, looks away. "They're proud, but it's complicated."
"Yeah. Well, complicated is how it is with me and my folks too. They ain't going to want me with a baby in my belly and no man."
"Is that why you want to marry Jayne?" Inara says.
Kaylee is getting real tired of having this conversation. "Why I'm marrying Jayne ain't really anyone's gorram business, but it's been decided and no one's going to tell me different."
Inara puts down the cup. "I told him you'd say that."
Kaylee finds a willow basket waiting for her in the engine room. Little yellow blanket tucked inside with a note. The note says -
"Wash's Ma gave this to me on our wedding day. I'd like you to have it now."
Kaylee unfolds the blanket and traces her fingertips over and over again on the little green dinosaur shapes.
It takes a few more months to convince the Captain to give his permission. Kaylee wears him down to the idea bit by bit. She and Jayne could run off and do it anyways, but she doesn't want just his permission. She wants his blessing. She never tells him that exactly and he doesn't give it exactly either. He tells her he's given up trying to keep her from being chained to a gorram fool for the rest of her days.
By the time they find a planet with decent preacher, she's about as big around as barrel. It wasn't exactly how she imagined things. She'd always wanted her kinfolk around, even Great Aunt Gert. Part of her misses Shepherd Book too. She sees this preacher with his dirty looks and pursed up mouth. Shepherd Book would have understood.
But Captain gives her away and she couldn't ask for more beautiful or sweet bridesmaids than Zoe and Inara. They even find a dress big enough to fit her. She cries a little bit when Jayne slips the ring on her finger and she can't be sure quite why. Having babies makes you funny they say.
She knows Jayne doesn't hold with mouth kissing, so she offers up her cheek and after a moment he grazes his mouth there. His beard feels prickly, but not as unpleasant as she imagined it could be.
They don't have a honeymoon or even a day off. Captain doesn't offer and they don't ask. So it's another day on Serenity, but the next morning when she wakes up instead of apples and water, there's a plate of strawberries and a set of ribbons for her hair.
She has nightmares sometimes too. When she does, he crawls up out of his pallet and folds himself up into the little bunk as best he can. Which is saying something considering how big he is and how pregnant she is. But somehow they manage.
Then one night, there it is. No denying it. She's been around men enough to know that is surely not his gun poking her in the pi gu.
"Why Jayne Cobb. I had no idea. In my condition too." She can't help but giggle a little at the thought.
He grips onto her belly a little tighter. "Mmm. Go to sleep, Mrs. Cobb."
If she didn't know better, she'd swear she felt the brush of his lips on the top of her head.
The next night before they bed down, she scoots over and pats the bunk. Doesn't say anything and doesn't think she needs to.
Nothing exciting happens. But neither of them dream about Reavers. Not anymore.
Even though they don't do a thing in that bunk, he touches her. Touches her all time. He piles her hair on top of her head and pulls it back down again. He rubs her back and neck when she's feeling sore. He dances his fingers across her big belly. She keeps waiting for the moment he tries something more. It'd be just like him, wouldn't it?
But he doesn't and maybe it's for the best. Look where rutting with a man got her last time.
Instead they talk. Well, she talks. A lot. She's not sure if he's even listening half the time, but she talks anyways. Talks about everything. Except the one thing crossing her mind more and more lately. But she ain't one to run from the truth forever.
"We're coming into Cato. They've got a few whorehouses there." She tries to say it as if it occurred to her to slip it into the conversation and it hasn't been on her mind for a week.
"More than a few by my recollection." Damn if the man wasn't chuckling.
"If you had to, I mean if you need to - " She can't stop stuttering and she curses herself for acting like a child instead of a woman.
Now he's burying his head in the pillow and laughing so hard he's making the bunk shake.
She slaps him on the arm and starts over. "Doesn't matter what you think, I don't need to be watched over night and day and we ain't married in every way. Wouldn't be the first time you've gone to a whorehouse and I'm not going to fuss. If it''s what you want."
"No. I don't think so. Not this time." He stops laughing, tucks a strand of hair behind her ear.
"Why's that?" She holds her breath for a moment.
"Saving up for a new gun." All he says.
He curls his big arm around her and then she feels the slow deep breath tickling her shoulder. He's fallen asleep.
Well, what was he supposed to say?
"Nothing? Not ever?" Inara sounds shocked.
Kaylee never thought she'd see the day she'd surprise a Companion. She can't hardly look Inara in the eye at the moment. Twiddles with her tea cup, then nods her head.
Inara bites her lip. "Some cultures believe making love while a woman is expecting a baby brings on bad fortune or ill omen."
Kaylee rubs at her nose, ponders it for a moment. "Jayne ain't ever struck me as the superstitious sort."
It's almost time for the baby to come. Every inch of her skin feels swollen and about to burst. Most days it makes her tired and tetchy. But at night sometimes she dreams. Dreams about lips touching, skin rubbing against skin and big rough hands that roam over every inch of her without stopping.
She always wakes up feeling hot and tingly all over. She's like a pinched valve needing to find a release. If Jayne weren't asleep beside her, she'd whip off her unders and finish the job herself right then and there. Instead she stares into the dark. Tries not to think about it.
Good thing Inara had warned her about this because mama sure never did.
Kaylee is screaming so hard it's like to bust Serenity apart.
Mal finds Jayne in the mess, popping his knuckles and drinking whiskey. There are some fields of combat men aren't meant to know about.
"Never again." Mal says in a moment of silence between screams. He waves his whiskey glass to make the point. "This is still my boat. This is the first baby and the last. As long as I'm captain. I don't care how many types of contracep you have to use. We'll fill the cargo hold if we have to. It ain't happening."
Jayne grows pink around the ears. Who knew the man could blush? "This is a hell of time to bring that up."
"Boats and babies don't mix too well, dong ma?" Mal sips on his whiskey and tries not think about what they'll all do if Kaylee doesn't make it or what Kaylee will do if the baby doesn't make it.
But the child makes it into the world fine. It's an ugly, squalling red thing. The women can't stop talking about how beautiful she is. Mal don't see it, but he makes all the right noises anyways.
He figures Jayne will be disappointed not to have a boy, but the man just holds the itty bitty thing in his arms. He stares and stares like he ain't ever seen a baby before.
"What are you naming her?" Mal asks, because it's what you're supposed to ask.
"Alba, after Jayne's Ma." The words flow out of Kaylee's mouth without a moment of hesitation.
Must have been his imagination, but looked like Jayne was blinking a tear out of his eye.
Kaylee could move back into her old hammock, but she doesn't. She stays in Jayne's bunk and the crib sits along beside.
Jayne gets up and walks around with Alba when she cries at night. Sings old songs about Earth that was. The songs are about woods and water and always just one sun and moon in the sky. She can hardly imagine it. But it sounds beautiful.
He moves back down to the pallet on the floor even though there would be plenty of room for him now. They don't speak on it. It seems like they're both waiting for something.
Kaylee can't even put it into words, but she doesn't have to. Inara does it for her. One afternoon, she brings Kaylee a beautiful silk robe the color of the sky at sunset on Persephone.
"What's this for?"
Inara smiles her mysterious smile. "You've healed enough. Tell him to take his time and be gentle and it shouldn't be a problem."
She's about to offer a protest, but Inara gives the same smile and presses the robe into her hands. "Be happy, little one."
The words echo in her ears as she stands in the doorway, the tips of her hair still wet. She's scrubbed at the grease in the shower, but it never all comes off. Deep down she'll always be Kaylee, the engine monkey.
Jayne doesn't say anything when he sees her. Rubs at his chin. Gorram if the man doesn't look like he's thinking about something. And that's mighty rare.
She twiddles at the belt of her robe. It comes all the way down to her knees, but it feels like she's starkers.
"Baby's bunked down with Zoe tonight." She whispers the words.
It's a small cabin. He's a tall man. Three steps is all it takes.
Gentle? Does Jayne even know the meaning of the word?
Turns out he does.
But that ain't all he knows. Thank god.
Now Alba is the one Mal called Mei Mei. She wasn't a scrunch faced angry red thing anymore either. She was running around and getting into everything all the time.
He knows Kaylee is trying to butter him up good when she strolls over with Alba on her hip. She hands the little one over to him and the baby girl smiles at him. She's a natural smiler like Kaylee.
Still, it's hard to smile back when he hears Kaylee's request.
"Kaylee, we ain't trying to repopulate the 'verse here. Is this Jayne's way of trying to prove something?"
She's got the stubborn look in her eyes again. Lord, this was starting to seem familiar. "Jayne will always be Alba's father. He knows it. This is something I want to do." She looks down and mutters shyly. "I'm hoping for a little boy this time."
Mal wants to fight her, but he knows it's a foregone conclusion. He has a sneaking suspicion this isn't even a request so much as announcement. There was a time when orders meant something. A time when people listened to a captain.
He nods his assent. Kaylee runs over to Jayne with a sparkle in her eyes. He stoops down to kiss her and she whispers something in his ear. He whoops and flings his wife over his shoulder like she didn't weigh any more than a sack of potatoes. She lets out a shriek of joy and they walk off into their future.
Ta ma de, looks like he's on baby-sitting duty again. Second time this week.
The whole thing isn't quite proper by Core people's standards, but it's how goes out in the Black sometimes.
At least little Mei Mei still listens to him. She grabs onto his ear and tugs hard. Well, mostly she listens.
Besides, the bassinet in the engine room had worked fine. No reason it wouldn't work just one more time.
El Fin/The End