World Without End - Part X
Monday, January 14, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. After the announcement, Serenity arrives at Eavesdown Docks, and people go shopping. NEW CHAPTER


“Okay, people, this is the plan.” Mal looked around the breakfast table. “We land at Eavesdowne Docks in a couple of hours, and local time’ll be about two in the afternoon. Inara should be waiting for us. Then them as needs it have three hours to do shopping, get any fancy duds they require – although requests for advances on the next paycheck will be swiftly dealt with in the negative – then we head over to Southdown.”

“Three hours?” Kaylee said, shaking her head. “Cap, that ain’t long enough to get something special.”

“You ain’t the bride, mei-mei,” Mal pointed out.

“No, but River is. And Zoe.”

“I’m not planning on anything too much,” Serenity’s first mate put in.

Kaylee turned to stare at her. “Course you are! You gotta. Zoe, it’s your wedding!”

“I will wear a dress, but I can get that anywhere.” She wiped Ben’s fingers where he was running them around his plate.

“Zoe -”

“No. I don’t need to be all fancied up.”

“Honey, you have to have a wedding dress,” Hank said, taking her hand. “It’s traditional.”

“I didn’t when I married Wash.”

“Well, this time you’re marrying me. And I say you do.”

“It’s just a dress, Hank.”

“Like this is just a wedding?” His tone sharpened half a degree.

“No, I didn’t mean … it’s just … dresses ain’t me.”

Kaylee looked like her puppy had been kicked. “Oh, come on, Zoe. You gotta get something nice. ‘Sides, we gotta make sure River gets something pretty too.”

Simon stirred. “Kaylee, I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. Persephone has a lot of Alliance around at the moment, and even though the warrants haven’t been updated lately they’re still active -”

“I can go in disguise,” his sister interrupted. “Put up my hair and wear boy’s clothing.”

Mal laughed. “Somehow don’t think that’s gonna fool anyone, albatross. Not seeing as you’re near eight months gone.” He sobered a little. “I’m more concerned about you going out in your condition. Persephone ain’t exactly a peaceful place sometimes. Don’t want something happening that’ll bring on early labour.”

River shook her head. “The baby is happy right now, and has no intention of leaving my womb until the time is right.”

He winced inwardly at her phraseology. “You sure about that?”

“Positive.” She patted her stomach. “We have a good working relationship.”

“Anyway, I’ll be going with her,” Jayne added. “Make sure nothing happens.”

“No!” Kaylee said loudly, drawing all the attention. “You can’t do that!”

“Why not?”

“You can’t see the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony! It’s bad luck.”

“Yeah, but -”

“No buts, Jayne.” Kaylee’s face was determined. “We’ll all go together. Me, Zoe, Frey … we’ll all go.”

“Momma?” Bethany tugged on her arm. “What about me?”

Kaylee looked down at her daughter, all bright eyed, and had to smile. “Yes, all right. You’ll go too. And maybe we’ll find that new party dress you were talking about.”

Bethie beamed.


Jayne held the striped shirt up to the light, sniffed it once and determined that River would probably prefer him to wash it, since he was planning on getting married in it. He wondered if he had time to do laundry before they landed.


He looked over at the door to see Freya leaning in. “Huh?”

“You’re not wearing that.”

“Why not? It’s my best shirt,” Jayne said, then faltered at the look on Freya’s face.

“Because that’s your whoring shirt,” she pointed out. “In fact, I'm surprised River let you keep it.”

“She likes to wear it ‘casionally. You know. When we’re … Not all that much lately since she’s not been able to do it up, but even then she likes to –“

Freya held up a hand. “I get the picture. Unfortunately.”

Jayne grinned. “Two kids and Mal, and you still got that prudish streak?”

“We weren't talking about me. And you’re going to come out with me and buy something new.”

He groaned. “But I got clothes.”

“And nothing that’s good enough for a wedding. Especially your own.”

“But why’d you have to come? I can buy something.”

She turned, fixing him with her hazel eyes, seeming to read more off the back of his skull than he was comfortable with. “Jayne, you have a choice. It’s me or Inara. I’m sure she’d be happy to dress you, if I ask her. And I don’t have to tell you what shops she’d take you into.”

His jaw fell as he had an all-too clear image. He swallowed. “Ah. Yeah. Right. So we’re gonna be getting me something nice?”

Freya smiled at him. “Very nice.”

“What about the money?”

She raised an eyebrow. “Money?”

“Well, I kinda need what I got to buy a wedding band. I mean, River ain't never had an engagement ring, and I don’t want her to miss out.”

“That’s sweet.”

“Aw, hell, no it ain’t. Just … you know, for River.” The tips of his ears turned pale pink.

“Well, if you run out I'm sure I can –“

“Not taking charity,” he said quickly.

Freya understood. “Okay. Then we’ll go to the cheaper stores for your clothes. And River will be thrilled with whatever you get her.”


She perched on the edge of the chair, watching him go through his limited wardrobe. “You are okay with this, aren’t you, Jayne?”

“What, you mean River organising all this by herself?”

“Well, she didn’t quite … but, yes.”

Jayne sat down on the bed, still clutching the striped shirt, staring at it. “You know, for most of my life I did everything for myself. No-one to answer to but me or the guy I worked for, and that was only ‘cause he paid me. Then I came on board this boat and things weren't no different for a long while. Do my job, get paid. Not have to worry ‘bout anyone else less’n they’re trying to kill me, or maybe looking at me funny, and only thinkin’ ‘bout me. ‘Cept it didn’t stay like that.”

“People get under your skin, don’t they?”

“Yeah, like a tick.”

She laughed. “Not quite how I’d have put it, but interesting image.”

He looked over at her. “It’s just hard for me, ya know? Letting someone else do for me.”

“She loves you.”

“Hell, I know that. And I love her with all my heart.” He smiled. “And that’s what makes it okay. That she did it for me ‘cause she loves me.”

Freya stood up, taking a moment to maintain her balance as Serenity shuddered slightly in breaking atmo. “You know, I think you two are going to be just fine.”

“Three,” Jayne corrected.

“Oh, yes. You two and the baby.”

He leaned back onto his elbow, grinning at her. “And don’t make like you don’t know it’s a boy.”

“A boy?” She pretended to be surprised.

“I know Mal’ll have told you, even if you didn’t read it yourself.”

“I don’t read my friends. Much,” she added quickly.

“Yeah, I believe you.”

She grinned back. “You’re going to be a father, Jayne.”

“Yeah. Scary, if I tell the truth.”

“Always the best policy.”

“Ya think? With this crew?” He growled a laugh. “But I aim to be a good dad. Much as I can.”

“I’ve seen you with all the children on board Serenity, Jayne,” Freya pointed out. “I know you will.” She turned to leave. “I’ll meet you in the cargo bay in ten minutes. Don’t be late. We’ll barely have enough time as it is.” She walked out of the shuttle.

Jayne felt a frisson of concern run down his back. It wasn't like he was used to being all fancied up. Buying clothes was more a case of going into a store, grabbing the first things that looked like they might fit and slamming coin down on the counter. Sometimes they were okay, other times and he had new rags for cleaning the girls. But this … getting dressed up for a wedding …

“You will look so handsome,” River said, stepping silently through the door.

“I’ll look stupid.”

“Freya won’t let you.” She crossed the shuttle and sat next to him, touching the shirt in his hands. “And she’s right. I wouldn’t want you to wear this. Too many memories.”

He looked into her dark eyes. “Even after what we’ve done in it?”

“Need to make new ones, Jayne. Just us.”

He let the grin show. “Whatever you want, moonbrain.” He went to tear it, but she put her hands on his.

“No. We’ll keep it. For … play.”

The grin widened. “’Kay.” He tossed it away from him and put his arms around her.

“You know, you don’t have to buy me a ring,” River said softly, letting her face rest on his chest, feeling his steady heartbeat.

“You listening?”

“Of course.” She smiled. “But only with my ears. I was outside.”

“Eavesdroppin’, huh?”

“Everyone does it.”

“Guess they do.” He snuggled her closer. “But we need to have something.”

She smiled. “I have an idea.”


“We all here?” Mal said, turning to his crew.

“Nearly, sir,” Zoe said. “Freya’s helping River with something and Kaylee‘s putting Hope down for a nap with Ben.”

“Good.” He looked around, his eyes falling on the big mercenary. “Ready to get all prettified for your wedding?”

Jayne grunted. “Ain’t gonna be like that. Frey’s given me her word.”

“Frey?” Mal’s eyebrows raised.

“She’s coming with me. Making sure I look okay.”

“You mean no naked geishas?” Hank asked.

“Something like that.”

“And you need Frey to do this … why?”

“Mal, it was her or Inara.”

“Ah. Of course.” Mal nodded, remembering his own wedding apparel shopping with the doctor and the ex-Companion. He withheld the shudder almost totally successfully. “Still, the more the merrier.”


“She can join us, no problem. Since we’re all going. You know, all men together.”

“You ain’t coming.” Jayne was adamant, paling a little under his goatee.

“We won’t say anything,” Simon insisted. “Just take a few pictures.” He patted his pocket where the capture maker resided.


“Jayne, you won’t even know we’re there,” Mal assured him.

“Damn right. ‘Cause you won’t be.” He crossed his arms. “Frey’s coming because she ain't likely to make me dress in something with frills, but that’s it.”

“I agree,” Hank said unexpectedly. “If I have to make a fool of myself buying new clothes, I don’t intend anyone else to see.”

“You’re … you’re agreeing with me?” Jayne stared.

“I know it breaks the habit of a lifetime, but … yes, this time I am.”


“Don’t mention it.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t.”

“Jayne, Hank … we’re coming,” Mal said firmly, pressing the button to lower the ramp. “You don’t get a say in this.”

“Well, well, well, I thought you were going to make me wait out here all day,” came a familiar voice as it hit the dirt.

“Inara.” Mal smiled warmly at her.

She was standing as elegantly as ever, a small pile of cases by her feet. “Mal.” She looked past him. “Hello, everyone.”

“Hiya, ‘Nara,” Hank said, walking out into the pale autumn sunlight. “Lookin’ good.”

“Thank you, Hank. And I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”

“Want me to take your stuff inside?”

“Would you? Thanks.”

“No problem.” He grinned and tossed one of the cases to Jayne. “Here, big guy.”

Inara flinched slightly.

“Where’s Sam?” Mal asked, joining her, looking around as if Dr Sam Nazir was going to pop up any moment.

“On Ariel.”

“Kicked him out?”

“He’s finalising his affairs.” Her tone was a little frosty. “It’s taking rather more time than he realised to close down his practice.” She shook her head at him. “Honestly, Mal, you seem to delight in thinking the worst of people.”

“Makes the day go quicker,” he admitted, his blue eyes twinkling. “So, you left the girls on their own again?”

“Just for a few days. And they’re busy with the puppies, anyway.”


“Giselle is now a proud mother.” Inara laughed at the look on his face. “And yes, before you ask, I think Fiddler’s the father.”

“Puppies?” Bethany had barrelled out of the common area. “Hello, Auntie ‘Nara. Puppies?”

“I knew we shoulda had him done,” Mal complained.

“The unkindest cut of all,” Hank joked, taking the last case inside.

“Puppies?” Bethany insisted. “How many?”

Inara went down onto her heels, making it look graceful. “Five. Two sort of ginger ones and three with more black and white on them. Four boys and a girl.”

“Uncle Mal …” The little girl turned her eyes on him.

“No. Absolutely not. One’s enough.”

“Uncle Mal …” The eyes were joined by the wheedling voice.


She sighed heavily. “’Kay, Uncle Mal.”

Inara smiled. “It’s all right, Bethie,” she said, pushing her long brown hair behind her ears. “I’ll be keeping at least one of them, and they’ll be yours. They’ll just live at home with me.”

Bethie brightened immediately. “What are their names?”

“What would you like them to be?”

“Hmmn. Need to think.”

“Think? What about?” Kaylee asked, heading out of the ship. “Hey, ‘Nara.”

“Hey.” They hugged tightly.

“So what were you talking about?” Kaylee asked, letting go.

“Puppies!” Bethie explained.


“It’s a long story.” Inara laughed and looked back down at Bethie. “Why don’t we go and see what I have in my case for you, and we can talk about it. If Hank and Jayne haven’t broken it.”

If anything, the little girl grinned even wider. “Pressies?”


“You spoil her,” Mal murmured.

Inara kept her voice almost as low. “Of course I do. And I have things for Ethan and Jesse too. And Hope and Ben.”

“And me?”

“Possibly. I wouldn’t want you to feel left out.” Inara allowed herself to smile just a little.

“Anyway, we don’t have time to sit and talk. We’re gonna go get wedding clothes,” Kaylee said firmly. “You’ve gotta come.”

“Wait a minute,” Mal put in quickly. “Who’s gonna mind the ship?”

“I don’t mind staying, sir,” Zoe said.

“Don’t even joke about it!” Kaylee admonished. “If you think I’m going to let you get away with getting married in your normal clothes, you can think again.”

The warrior woman looked down at the ship’s mechanic, an amused lift to her lips. “Kaylee, I’ll get married in whatever I want.”

“And you’ll look wonderful in whatever it is,” her fiancé put in. “But you know she ain’t gonna let you be ‘til you’ve bought something.”

“That doesn’t solve the problem of who’s gonna look after Serenity. If the kids were all coming I’d just lock us up, but …” Mal looked around at his crew.

Simon sighed, pulling the capture maker out of his pocket and preparing to hand it to Mal. “I suppose I could -”

“No, it’s all right. I’ll do it,” Inara said quickly.

“Inara, you gotta come with us!” Kaylee began to protest.

“No, honestly, I think you have more than enough opinions.“ She smiled. “I’ll stay here and hold down the fort.”

“I’ll stay too,” Bethany offered.

Kaylee shook her head. “No, honey. We’re gonna buy you something pretty to wear, remember?”

“But, Auntie ‘Nara’s got pressies –“ the little girl began, pouting.

“Which will still be here when you get back,” Inara said.

“And you do want something nice for the wedding, don’t you?” Kaylee added.

Her small daughter kicked at the deck plating. “’Spose.”

Inara laughed softly. “Besides, I need to get settled in anyway. I presume it’s my usual room?”

“Ain’t like anyone else is taking up the space.” Mal smiled. “Thanks.”

“I’m just glad to be of help.”

Simon grinned, thrusting the small machine back into his pocket as Jayne groaned quietly.

Mal clapped his hands. “Okay. Three hours and we –”

“Cap, Freya and River ain’t down yet,” Kaylee pointed out.

“Yes we are.” Freya walked out into the sun. “Hi, Inara.”

“Freya.” They smiled at each other, and it was as if they’d been having tea only the day before.

“Where’re you been?” Mal wanted to know.

His wife raised an eyebrow at his somewhat peremptory tone. “Ethan’s looking after Jesse, Ben and Hope are fast asleep, and I had to help River with her disguise.”

“Her what?”

The young psychic came out of the gloom of the cargo bay, and there were several bursts of laughter, quickly suppressed. She wore one of Kaylee’s old coveralls, the front open to reveal her belly swathed in what looked like yards of fabric. Her hair was pinned up inside Jayne’s knitted hat, not one bit of it visible.

Mal bit back the chuckle. “Um, River? What’re you supposed to be?”

She looked at him, her dark eyes completely serious. ”Not me.”

“Uh, I think it worked.”

“People will see the clothes, not the person inside.” She touched her belly. “Persons.”

“I don’t doubt that’s the case.”

Freya grinned. “So, we ready?”

“We’ve been ready for hours,” Kaylee complained.

“Just waiting on you, xin gan,” Mal explained.

“Then let’s go.”

“Have fun,” Inara called before heading inside Serenity.

“You armed?” Jayne asked softly as they walked along towards the dock exit.

“Of course,” River admitted, her hand hovering over her pocket.

“Good girl.” He looked at the hat his mother had knitted him, half a lifetime ago. “Suits you.”

“You don’t mind me wearing it?”

“Coupla days time we’re gonna be wed. Everything I got’s yours anyhow.”

She reached up onto her toes and kissed him. “I love you.”

“Me too, moonbrain.”

Mal watched them strolling hand in hand, and shook his head. “Were we ever that young?” he asked.

Freya thumped him lightly on the arm. “Jayne’s older than either of us.”

“Then that hopeful.”

“I still am, Mal.”

He looked down at her. “Yeah. I know.” He kissed her softly, just a brush of the lips.

“So,” Simon said, joining them, spoiling the moment. “About those frills …”

to be continued


Monday, January 14, 2008 2:24 PM


Great chapter! Loved Freya talking to Jayne, and the bit with River that followed. Im trying to get a mental image of River dressed in her disguise:)
Hurry with more!

Monday, January 14, 2008 5:17 PM


Well now, this was a merry chapter, but the pessimist in me worries about Inara being the only grown-up watching the ship. Hmmm....

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 3:14 AM


Part of me wonders what can go wrong in such a fluffy piece, and part of me knows better. Jayne/River is still squicky to my brain, but regardless, this is still a wonderful bit of writing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 12:46 PM


Great chapter, I just hope that for once things go smooth. Would have felt happier though if they were shopping on a planet with NO Alliance presence. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, January 16, 2008 5:12 AM


Jayne has a whoring shirt. Where do you buy such a thing, Pimps R Us?


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"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
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[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]

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“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

“Yeah, he’s a mystery to all of us,” Mal said. “Even his wife.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]

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Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

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[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

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Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]

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He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

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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!]