New Leaf
Sunday, January 28, 2007

Her heart says yes the moment he asks, tumbled in a heap at the bottom of the cockpit stairs, groaning before he fliply pops an interesting variation on “the question”. M/I. A precursor to Pirate Children


Title: New Leaf

Rating: PG-13 to be careful. Probably more on the PGish side.

Disclaimer: If you recognize them, they're not mine. They're Joss's.

Summary: Her heart says yes the moment he asks, tumbled in a heap at the bottom of the cockpit stairs, groaning before he fliply pops an interesting variation on “the question”. A stand-alone PC fic. Or perhaps a precursor to PC.

Author's Notes: Written for the Truthsome Ficathon on LJ. A stand-alone, but can also be considered the first (chronologically) PC fic.

Thanks: Kaynara, Kaynara, and, oh, Kaynara. Who listens to me whine about cuddling and freaking out and has read this about three times because I'm a freak. And also, because she's evil and got me hooked.


Her heart says yes the moment he asks, tumbled in a heap at the bottom of the cockpit stairs, groaning before he fliply pops an interesting variation on “the question”. They’re fighting, as usual, and he’s trying to escape by claiming he has work to do. She doesn’t know how the fight started, but she can probably blame it on the secret she’s been carrying since her trip to the infirmary that morning. “Wo de ma, Mal, I’m pregnant!” she cries mid-argument, chasing him onto the bridge, ignoring poor Wash who’s only trying to do his job. Tumble. Grunt. Crash. “So, ya gonna marry me?” But it isn’t that simple, and he has to know that if she is to agree to anything. Hand pressed to the life, their child, growing inside her, she sighs. “Mal…” “I’m hopin’ that’s a yes, darlin’,” Mal says, picking himself off of the ground, blue eyes lit with something she barely recognizes. Fear? Hope? Somewhere in between? “This is serious.” “I’m ‘ware of that. ‘Was a serious question.” Inara sinks into the now-empty pilot seat. Wash must have sneaked away when the yelling started. “You okay?” he asks quickly, crouching beside her, checking her for any sign of injury or illness. “We’re still fighting,” Inara says weakly, trying not to melt under his sweet ministrations. “Don’t feel much like fightin’ anymore,” Mal says, his hands slipping down to her stomach, his thumbs stroking softly. “This doesn’t just make everything better,” she argues. “I’d say it goes a long way,” Mal counters, a grin spreading on his face as he meets her eyes. “I’ve already forgot what we were arguin’ on.” “This is a baby, Mal. It changes everything,” Inara keeps the conversation on topic. “If anything, it makes life more complicated. Raising a child on a ship like this…” “Wash and Zoe’re doin’ it fine. Simon and Kaylee, too. You still haven’t answered my question, ‘Nara.” Inara stands, brushing past him and starting to pace. “I won’t marry you for your sense of honor,” she asserts. “This isn’t Earth-That-Was. No one’s going to hold a shot gun to your head. Marriage and children don’t have to go hand in hand anymore…” “’Nara,” Mal cuts her off, starting to get frustrated. “This ain’t about honor.” She turns on her heel to face him, and Mal spots something unexpected in her eyes: fear. He crosses to her, hands landing gently on her shoulders. “My pa… he took off long before I was even born, left my mama to raise me and run a ranch all on her own. That’s never gonna be me, dong ma? And I want the whole ‘verse to know it. And I want you an’ our kid to know it. That I’m in it for the long haul; got the legal documentation an’ everythin’.” “Since when do you do anything legally?” Inara asks, fighting back the tears in her eyes admirably. “Well, see. Turnin’ over a new leaf for you,” Mal smiles, leaning his forehead against hers. “I don’t need a piece of paper,” she says softly, the energy of her protest draining from her. “I love you, Inara,” he says softly but fiercely, “I’d want to spend every day with you, baby or no. That there’ll be a little one, too, that’s just gorramn miraculous.” One of his hands moves to rest on top of her stomach, her own soft fingers drifting down to cover his. “I’d’ve asked sooner, but I’ve spent the past three years just thankin’ the ‘verse you were in my life. I was too scared to look to the future.” “And now?” “I’m still terrified,” he admits with a nervous chuckle, glancing up from their joined hands to meet her eyes. “But I can see a future that’s worth bein’ scared for.” “It’s going to be hard. We’ll fight all the time.” “How’s that different from now?” he grins, “And we get along well enough as it is. I’m sure the little one would agree.” She rolls her eyes a little at this, mostly affectionately. “We’ll have an innocent, helpless life depending on us every moment of the day. You remember what having a newborn aboard is like. Diapers and two a.m. feedings and… And it doesn’t get any better. Babies become teenagers…” “Well, I think that takes a while, darlin’,” Mal teases, unoccupied hand coming up to brush some curls behind her ear tenderly. “’Bout thirteenish years.” “Mal, this is serious,” she reiterates. “And terrifyin’. I get that, ‘Nara,” he assures her, “But it’s also gorramn amazing.” There’s a long pause. She closes her eyes and takes in a deep breath. “You know I love you.” Of course, he does. He can read it in her eyes more every day, as she re-teaches herself to feel, as she banishes the artifices and barriers of her former vocation. He places a kiss on her forehead in response, accompanied by a whispered, “I know.” He moves his hand from her stomach, keeping their fingers intertwined, and takes her other hand in his as well. “Please, Inara. Marry me?” They are words she never expected to hear, ever. His eyes are earnest and full of his love for her. And oh, she wants to say yes, but with a ‘yes’ she cuts off all ties to her former world, all ability to return. The last sliver connecting her to the life she once lived would be severed. That terrifies and exhilarates her at the same time. But then she thinks of the child, their child, in her womb and knows the line has already been cut. She’s already made this decision, three years ago when she let him into her bed as well as her heart. Or maybe even earlier, when she left Serenity and stopped taking clients in favor of teaching on Bena. She smiles at him, watching his eyes fill with joy and, just maybe, a few tears. He can see the answer in her eyes and pulls her close, stupid grin on his face. “I’m gonna take that as a yes.” “That would be a good idea.” They kiss then, lost in the double joy of an impending marriage and an impending arrival. A squeal separates them. “You said yes!” “Wo de ma, Kaylee,” Mal groans, hands refusing to leave Inara’s hips. “You’d think you were ten years old, not somebody’s mama.” Kaylee bops into the room, her one-year-old baby girl on her hip. The little one holds her arms out and says, resolutely, “Mal.” “Oh, looks like someone’s jealous,” Kaylee grins. With a sigh and an irrepressible grin, Mal reluctantly lets go of Inara and grabs the infant, who giggles happily, grabbing for his ear. “Hey, watch that, little one. That’s the one your pa sewed back on.” Freed of the baby girl, Kaylee gathers Inara up into her arms and gives her a monstrous hug. “Yeah, well, I’ll leave you two to your girl-talkin’, then,” Mal says, meeting Inara’s eyes over Kaylee’s shoulder. They make a mutual promise of more celebration later. “Don’t take too long.” He leaves them chattering and giggling, grin still in place as he heads to the mess, Kaylee’s daughter babbling in his arms. “Unca Mal! Unca Mal, Unca Mal, Unca Mal. Unca Mal! Unnnnnca Mal!” “Whoa there, lil’ Washburn,” Mal says as the two-year-old runs headlong into him, short arms reaching around his legs. “Hello.” “Hi, Unca Mal,” he grins. Mal snorts a little and picks the toddler up with his free arm. “Zoe, I got somethin’ that belongs to you!” he calls. Zoe calls back from the kitchen: “What’s that, sir?” “I’ll give ya a hint: it talks a lot.” Both children are laughing now. Gorrammit, he does like this. “Gonna have to be more specific, sir.” Mal chuckles and glances down at the little Washburn. “It ain’t your husband.”


“Herbert.” “No.” “Stanley?” “No.” “Malcolm, Jr.?” “No!” she laughs, swatting at him. “Maybe we should move on to girls’ names.” “Yeah, prob’ly a good idea. It’ll probably be a girl.” Inara lifts herself up onto one elbow, resting her head in her hand, meeting his eyes. His hand continues to stroke her bare stomach. “Do you really think so?” “Well, sure,” Mal grins boyishly. “All the important people on this boat are women. ‘Cept the doc, and he might as well be.” She rolls her eyes affectionately at him. “Well, what names for a girl, then?” “Malcolm, Jr. still works fine,” he teases, earning a smack in the shoulder. He responds by rolling, gently, on top of her. “Hey now. No hitting.” She links her hands behind his neck, and he runs his hands through her curls, their eyes locked. She pulls him down, kissing his lips gently. He returns the kiss, then traces soft kisses down her jaw line, neck, chest, and finally, stomach. Chin resting on her hip, he grins up at her, fingers drawing patterns across her midsection, trying to imagine the life growing inside. He’s seen two newborns up close and personal over the past two years, so he knows what to expect. Tiny perfect fingers. Tiny perfect toes. Tiny perfect, pretty blue eyes, at least at the beginning. (Will her eyes stay blue or turn brown like her mama’s?) Not-so-tiny, not-so-perfect diapers that fill every single nook and cranny on his gorramn ship. Toys, clothes, medicine. Wo de ma. Tianna. How in the gorramn hell was he going afford a baby? “How in the gorramn hell are we going to afford a baby?” he repeats aloud. In retrospect, he’ll wish he hadn’t said that out loud, because it mostly ruins a very, very nice moment of post-coital cuddling. But he says it, and his mind won’t stay off this course now. Mal rolls off of Inara, feeling a headache coming on as he stares up at the ceiling of the shuttle. “Mal…” Inara tries to reassure him, reaching over to him. “It will be fine.” And he should believe her, of course. She is the one who does the books and everything. But, he doesn’t; he is too busy worrying himself to death. “After the diapers come the clothes she can’t stop outgrowing. And the shoes!” “There are two other children on this ship,” Inara says, her voice remaining calm for now, though she should have seen this coming. “Right… Right… Hand me downs.” “Try to breathe, Mal.” “Workin’ on it… Kids’re clumsy. Hell, I was always trippin’ over stuff as a kid. She’ll be hurt all the time and… Dating! Wo de ma, ‘Nara, I’ll be honest right now. I can’t deal with dating, an’ she’s only a fetus. And then marriage and in-laws and grandkids…” Inara stops him with a firm hand over his mouth. “I’m scared, too, Mal,” she admits, looking him in the eye. He seems to relax a little, kissing her palm. She removes her hand, letting it work its way down his neck and towards his chest, trying to relieve some of the tension. “We can do this.” “Yes, we can,” she assures him, smiling at their reversed roles from earlier. “Alright,” he sighs, pulling her close with a possessive arm around her shoulders and a kiss on her hair. “But one thing,” Inara says, her voice getting soft as she starts to drift to sleep. “Hmm?” “Grandkids?” she rolls her eyes, lashes fluttering against his chest, full of affection. “Can we wait at least until we make it through the first trimester before we worry about that?”


Sunday, January 28, 2007 10:34 AM


Absolutely adorable! I loved the pillow talk - and as far as Kaynara - I won't touch the "cuddling" comment ... Kay, you know what I mean!

This was great! A perfectly believable reaction of Mal to this news. I love your stuff ... now, where are the rest of the pirate children?

Sunday, January 28, 2007 12:25 PM


Love this so much, you have a very deft hand with the Mal and Inara dialogue and their reactions to both having a baby and getting hitched. Can't wait for more! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, January 28, 2007 5:39 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER's up here now! Cuz either I am a precog or I've read this somewhere before;)

Still...completely brilliant work on Mal and Inara's reactions to everything! Totally could picture this going on:D


Monday, January 29, 2007 2:18 AM


Brillant you wite Mal and Inara so well

Monday, January 29, 2007 4:34 AM


I always love your pirate children stories, but this made me laugh and smile from start to finish.

Monday, January 29, 2007 2:22 PM


Perfect Mal/Inara voices! And I'm loving the Pirate Children series. Can't get enough of that!


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