World Without End - Part IX
Friday, January 11, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. River makes her announcement and waits for Jayne's reaction. NEW CHAPTER


“Zoe told Kaylee,” River said without preamble, dropping into Mal and Freya’s bunk, her stomach preceding her.

“Anyone ever told you about knocking?” Serenity’s captain asked, sitting up on the bed where he was enjoying a quiet moment with his wife.

You don’t.”

“I don’t have to. And the door was locked.”

River waved her hand, dismissing the fact that she’d technically broken in. “Anyway, that’s beside the point. Zoe told Kaylee.”

Freya rearranged her shirt. “All of it?”

“No. Just about me.” She sighed.

The older woman smiled. “I gather she wasn’t too pleased about being kept in the dark.”

“Not particularly.”

Mal swung his legs off the edge of the bunk and reached for his boots. “So by bedtime everyone’s likely to know.”

“She promised not to.”

He chuckled. “You think? This is Kaylee we’re talking about.”

“She’s got better,” River insisted.

Freya got to her knees behind Mal, resting her elbows on his shoulders. “I think this has somewhat pre-empted the whole ‘keeping it secret until we land’ thing, don’t you?”

“I suppose.” She sighed again, a sound dragged kicking and screaming from the soles of her bare feet. “Then I suppose I’d better tell everyone at dinner. Tonight.”

“Better make it after dinner,” Freya suggested. “It’s my turn to cook again, and that way Jayne’ll be weighed down a little so he might not be able to catch you.”

“You making that batter thing again?” Mal asked, looking at her over his shoulder.

“No. You don’t have to worry.”

“That’s …” He wondered what he could say that wouldn’t get him chastised in any way, and decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and not being black and blue. Instead he turned back to River. “Jayne might not be too pleased.”

“He won’t be upset.”

“You sure about that? Going behind his back ‘n’ all?”

She bit her lip, a frown creasing her forehead. “I don’t think so. He loves me.”

He shook his head sadly. “River, I love Frey, but she makes me mad sometimes ‘cause she ain't told me something.” He winced as the woman in question pinched him.

River considered. “After dinner,” she agreed.


River glanced around at the empty plates, down at her own virtually untouched one, then cleared her throat.

“… but that only means it takes longer to set.”

“But sweetheart, isn’t that the point?”

“No. If it takes too long it separates, and then …”

They were talking about some kind of dessert, so River did it again, a little louder.

“You know, she’s right. Kinda curdles.”

“And what would you know? You burn water.”

“Hey, no, I’ve been improving! Water I can do. Anyway, I’m a pilot, not a cook.”

“That doesn’t mean you have any idea …”

Now it sounded as if River had a smoker’s cough, and Jayne abstractedly patted her on the back.

“Better get your bro to look at that,” he murmured, not turning away from the argument going on around the dinner table.

River looked at Mal, her eyes pleading.

He nodded, and banged his metal mug on the old wood to get their attention. “If’n you’d all just like to curtail the chatter for a minute, River’s got something to say to you.”

All eyes turned to the young woman, who blushed and stood up, clasping her hands in front of her swollen belly.

“You okay, girl?” Jayne asked softly, turning in his seat.

“Fine.” Her voice caught and she coughed for real this time. “Fine. I just …” She stopped, appalled at herself. She could do this. She’d taken out a roomful of Reavers. Made being crazy a fashion statement. She could do this. “The reason we’re going to Persephone is because I asked.”

“You did?” Jayne stared up at her. “Why?”

“Because we’re going to Southdown Abbey.”

“You mean –“

She nodded. “Book’s old Abbey.”

“River …”

“To get married.”

His mouth fell open. “What?”

“To get married,” she repeated, looking into his face, seeing confusion in his blue eyes. “The Captain will give me away, Simon will be your best man, and –“


“You wanted to, didn’t you?” Now she was unsure. She’d been positive he’d be overjoyed at her finally naming the day, but now … “You did want to?”

Jayne stood up slowly, moving closer to her. “You arranged all this?” he asked, little expression in his voice. “Without tellin’ me?”

“Yes. With help from … Jayne, did I do it wrong?” She began to tremble, and there was no sound in the galley, everyone waiting to hear what he had to say.

“Moonbrain …”

She wanted to peek, to look into his mind and pluck out what he thought, to end this infinite turmoil she inexplicably found herself in, but … “Yes?”

All at once she found herself engulfed in his arms, held to his chest to feel his heart pounding so fast she could scarcely count the beats. “You’re totally fong luh.”

Her own heart fluttered above her, and she was surprised she couldn’t see it. “But … you’re happy?”

He pushed her back so he could look into her eyes. “River, you’re gonna be my wife.” A grin burned slow on his lips, but turned into a brushfire. “My wife.” He pulled her back into his embrace.

“Oh, Jayne,” she breathed.

There was spontaneous applause from Freya, Zoe, Kaylee and Hank, who asked, “That what Kaylee was going on about? And what you were on the Cortex all hours of the day about?”

“It is,” Mal said, taking Freya’s hand. “Done me more calling around than I care to admit.”

“And me,” Freya added. “You have no idea how many people I ended up getting out of bed.”

“Don’t think you wanna admit that, xin gan,” Mal joked.

“So you knew?” Hank shook his head. “Course you knew, what am I saying. Readers all over this boat.”

“Me too,” Bethie piped up, smiling widely.

“And I get to be bridesmaid!” Kaylee said excitedly, almost bouncing in her seat.

Hank turned to glare at the young mechanic. “You knew too?”

“Zoe told me.”

“And you didn’t tell me? After all that digging I did for you?”

Kaylee grinned. “Hank, I didn’t even tell Simon.”

Simon, who had been almost struck dumb by this turn of events, stared at Kaylee. “And I can’t believe that,” he said.

“Doctor/patient confidentiality,” she replied, somewhat smugly.

“You’re not a doctor.”

“No, but you are. ‘Sides, you kept me in the dark over things.”

“Like what?”

“Well, there was the time –“

“Can we get back to the matter in hand?” Mal said, his raised voice cutting across the bickering pair. “And I'm more surprised you ain’t angry with your sis. Arranging all this palaver and not telling you.”

Simon slumped a little in his chair. “Honestly, I've given up wondering what River’s going to do next. And …” He glanced down at his hands, as if he were somewhat embarrassed. “Well, the truth is, she’s a grown woman. She’s chosen Jayne, for better or worse.” He added under his breath, “God help him.”

“Hey, I'm still here,” River pointed out.

“Well, I think it’s shiny,” Hank said. “And if only my beautiful fiancée would –“

“I have,” Zoe said suddenly.

“What?” He stared at her, then something clicked. “What?”

“Same day. Same time.”

This time even Kaylee was rendered speechless, although Bethie giggled.

“Hank,” Freya said urgently, leaning forward. “Breathe.”

He took in a ragged, shuddering, chest-heaving lungful of air, his face pale. “You mean …”

Zoe touched his cheek. “I told you, dear. When River gets married, so do we. Double wedding.”

“I … I thought you were joking,” he managed to get out.

“I don’t joke about things like that,” she said softly.

“So you’re going to … marry me?”

“In three days. At Southdown Abbey.”

A wonderful smile settled on his face. “Wow.” He shook his head. “Wow.”

Simon nudged Kaylee, whose mouth was still open. “I gather you didn’t know about that?”

“Uh … no.” She pulled herself back together.

“We have to keep some things as a surprise,” Zoe pointed out.

“Any more lurking around?” Simon asked.

“Inara’s coming,” River put in, leaning against Jayne. “She said she wouldn’t miss it, no matter what else she might be doing.”

“Noni wanted to come too,” Freya added, “but Theo has her the other side of the system playing Juliet. There’s no way they’d be able to get here in time, even if they could cancel all their bookings.”

“How’s she enjoying it?” Simon wanted to know, giving Hank a chance to regain some kind of normality.

“Loves it.” Mal laughed. “You know, I think Theo might be right. Be seeing her on the Cortex ‘fore long.”

“We can send her pictures,” Hank said, recovering a little. “Lots of pictures.” Something occurred to him. “Hang on,” he added. “Who’s gonna give you away?”

Zoe raised an eyebrow at him. “You know, I hadn’t thought about it. Although I don’t actually need anyone to –“

“Yes, you do.” He sat forward, much firmer now. “We do this properly. Best man, bridesmaids, pageboys – and girls,” he added quickly, seeing Bethie about to complain. “And someone to give you away.”

Zoe had to smile. “Well, I don’t have a father, and there’s no-one I’d trust apart from …” She stopped, lifting her eyes to the other end of the table. “Sir? Would you?”

Mal looked surprised, and tried hard not to smile. “Give you away?”

“Yes sir. You’re giving River. It shouldn’t be much more hassle.”

He pursed his lips thoughtfully. “Hmmn, walk down the aisle with two beautiful women. How long do I get to decide?”

“Oh, about now, sir.”

“You gonna start calling me Mal?”

“Maybe for the day, sir.”

He laughed finally. “Then I figure I’ll take what I can get. I’d be honoured, Zoe.”

“Thank you.” She smiled, happiness lighting her features.

“Mama?” Ethan said, tugging on her sleeve. “What’s going on?”

“It’s okay, honey,” Freya said. “Your Auntie River is marrying your Uncle Jayne, and Auntie Zoe is marrying Uncle Hank.”

“Oh, that,” he said dismissively. “Bethie told me that ages ago.” He went back to picking at a thread on his pants. “Shipboard romances,” he added quietly.

“See?” Freya said to Mal. “I told you he was yours.”

There was general laughter, then Simon spoke up. “Hey, wait a minute,” he said quickly, only just now connecting the dots. “I'm being Jayne’s best man?”


That night, in shuttle two, Jayne lay back on their bed, his arm around his fiancée, and stared into the darkness above.

“Why Southdown?” he asked finally.

River stroked his chest. “Shepherd Book was a friend to us both. Died for us. For me. I wanted to honour him.”

He had to smile. “He’d’a liked that. And I figure he’d have approved of us finally doing the deed.” His face grew serious again. “Pity, though, we ain't doing this on Ezra.”

“No jobs around there,” River said, her face pressed against him. “And not enough fuel if there were.”

“Oh, I figured that.” He sighed. “Still, it’d’ve been nice for Ma to see us get hitched.” He closed his eyes, and slipped quickly into sleep.

River listened to his breathing ease, his heartbeat slow, and as they lay wrapped around each other, she smiled.

to be continued


Friday, January 11, 2008 10:41 AM


Aww, that was just too cute for words. Well okay, maybe a few words.

I thought for a minute that Jayne was gonna go spastic, nice little tension builder. And the whole Zoe thing was a shocker, great little extra there.

Well done! And jayne wanting his ma to be there, not knowing she will be! That is just awesome!

Friday, January 11, 2008 12:28 PM


Lovely. I was feeling all irritated with Kaylee's nosiness forcing River to give away the secret rather than spring it on everyone but as it turned out it was better than okay and hearing that it was to be a double wedding was very cool indeed! Loved it! Can't wait to see Jayne's face when they get to Southdown Abbey for the weddings and his ma turns up - that will just be the cherry on top of the cake. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, January 11, 2008 5:54 PM


A double wedding, with Mal giving away two women! Wow! :D Loved Ethan's response, by the way!

Friday, January 11, 2008 6:35 PM


Hard to keep secrets on board a ship full of psychics, even from your readers, Jane. but this was a nice piece of fluff. Loved Ethan's line and glad Zoe is getting in on some happiness too.

Friday, January 11, 2008 6:38 PM


Two weddings, Yeah, I love weddings. Can't wait for this one but I know you have something up your sleeve somewhere.

Monday, January 14, 2008 2:08 AM


ha ha - can't wait to see your take on the southdown abbey...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008 4:54 AM


I'm behind on this story because of work but I've been careful not to read the teasers of the other chapters. All of that to say will there be a Bachelor and Bachelorette parties and if not will you write about them later?
I think both groups could find some trouble on Persephone


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“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]