World Without End - Part XIV
Sunday, January 20, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. The ceremony ... NEW CHAPTER


Gentle organ music filtered out of the chapel as Freya, Simon and Matty hurried the two bridegrooms along the gravel path.

“You sure this looks okay?” Hank was asking, tugging at his maroon jacket. “Only I’m not sure it isn’t too tight.”

“It fits very well,” Freya assured him for the eleventh time.

“And is this gonna stay put?” He reached up towards his hair, miraculously lying flat and under control.

“Don’t,” Simon said quickly. “If you start playing with it you’ll undo all my good work.”

Hank looked at him guiltily. “Sorry. Just feels odd.”

“Well, it looks good.”

“You sure?”

Freya nodded. “You look handsome. You both look handsome.”

Matty laughed. “I take it I look a mess, then?”

She patted him on the arm. “You look handsome too.” He did as well, she considered. A slightly smaller, less bulky version of his brother, and clean-shaven, he was wearing a striped shirt that looked almost familiar. Perhaps they had similar tastes, too.

“I’m considering feeling insulted,” Simon added, touching the small capture maker in his pocket and making sure it was still there.

“You always look good,” Freya said, linking her arm through his. “But these two are going to be the centre of attention.”

Hank swallowed hard. “I thought that was the brides’ job.”

“You too. Standing up there, all eyes on you …”

He shook his head. “Just be glad when this is all over.”

Freya was about to hit him, only gently, when she saw four figures hurrying towards them from the main gate.

“We haven’t missed it, have we?” one of them called.

“Dillon!” Freya ran over to her dear friend, embracing him. “I’m so glad you could all make it!”

Dillon Malfrey hugged her, then let Breed do the same. Callum, their manservant and factotum, held out a hand until she enveloped him in her arms, then let his own come up around her.

Sir Warrick Harrow stood back a little and smiled into his beard. “We wouldn’t have missed this for the world, my dear,“ he said, adjusting his sash.

“Although Breed was taking so long getting ready, I was sure we were going to be late,” Dillon explained, shaking first Jayne‘s then Hank‘s hand.

“Did not,” the younger man said, grinning nevertheless. “You were the one going on about your tie.”

Jayne fidgeted with his own neckwear. “Ain’t that the truth?” he muttered.

“Well, I’m glad you made it,” Hank said. “More the merrier.”

Freya laughed. “That it is. Although let’s just hope Badger doesn’t show up.“

The pilot shuddered. “Don’t go tempting fate,” he implored.

She held out her arms. “Come on. I think we’d better get going, before the brides appear.” At Matty’s somewhat confused look, she added, “And I’ll make the rest of the introductions on the way.”


In the small antechamber to the chapel, Shepherd Seymour had his hands full. Literally.

“You hold onto that carefully,” he said, watching Ethan turn the small box over and over, even as he somewhat inexpertly juggled Jesse and Hope. “When they’re ready, you open it up.”

The little boy nodded seriously. “’Kay.”

“And I toss the petals,” Bethany added, looking down into the basket and sniffing appreciatively. The scent was wonderful, all heady and intoxicating. She showed it to Ben, standing somewhat unsteadily next to her, and he plunged his hand into them, making the perfume rise up even more. She tutted and pulled it back, making him let go of the ones in his palm.

“Only as the two brides come down the aisle. You walk in front and scatter them carefully, then you go and join your zun tang.”

Bethie nodded. “Momma’s a bridesmaid,” she said, “like Auntie ‘Nara. Still don‘t see why Fiddler couldn‘t come, though.” She giggled as Hope began to struggle to be put down.

“No, don’t do that,” Seymour begged, fearing he was going to drop one or other of the children.

“Let me take her,” Freya said, hurrying up behind him and scooping her daughter out of his arms before he could do so.

“I’m sorry,” he said, putting Hope onto the chapel floor where she immediately toddled over to Ben and took his hand. “I’m … not very good with children.”

“You’re doing fine.” She smiled at him, determined nevertheless not to let him hold Jesse again. She turned back to the men with her. “Dillon, you’d better go and find seats.” She glanced down at the other children. “And I’d be grateful if you could take these three with you.”

“Of course. This little one’s my goddaughter, after all.” Dillon took Jesse into his arms, while Breed did the same with Hope, while Callum picked up Ben. “So where do we go?”

“I’ll show you,” Seymour offered quickly.

“Somewhere near the band,” Breed joked.

“Oh, shut up,” Dillon said, following the Shepherd and pulling his partner through the doors into the chapel. “I just can’t take you anywhere,“ they heard him mutter as Harrow and Callum followed.

Freya turned to the other men. “Okay,” she said, standing back and peering at them critically. “Let me just …”

Jayne looked uncomfortable. “Frey, I feel like a side o’ meat you’re considering buying.”

“It’s my responsibility to make sure you do your wives justice,” she pointed out. Picking a small piece of lint off Hank’s jacket, she brushed the fabric smooth. “But I suppose you’ll pass in a crowd.”

Bethie tugged at Freya’s dress. “They’re coming,” she murmured.

Freya unfocused for a moment then nodded. “Okay.” She grinned. “Show time.”


As they approached the chapel doors, Mal couldn’t help but feel a surge of pride run through him. Several of the brothers who were not attending the wedding had come out to watch them, and he knew they were admiring the women either side of him. Not that there wasn’t a lot to admire, although it could have been a lot more interesting …

“Xiao nu? It’s time.” He opened the door and saw River standing in the centre of the small room, her wedding dress floating out around her, her hair delicately curled and caught up in a myriad of tiny clips, the shotgun in her hand … He stopped. “What’re you doing with that, albatross?” he asked, eyeing the weapon carefully.

She cocked it, forcing a shell into the breech. “Making sure,” she said, smiling at him.

“Sure of what?”

“That Jayne won’t run away.” She looked down at her belly. “I am with child. It’s traditional.”

Stepping closer he reached out for the gun. “Honey, he ain’t running nowhere. He wants to marry you so much he can taste it.”

“But it’s traditional,” she insisted, not wanting to let go. “It’s in Hank’s books.”

Silently cursing his pilot’s predilection for trashy romance novels, he put his hand on the barrel and pushed it towards the floor. “That’s only if the groom don’t want to marry you. He does. More than anything in the world.”

“Does he?”

“You know it.”

She let him take the gun, ejecting the shell in the chamber and leaning it against the wall with a relieved sigh. “Actually you should be carrying it,” she commented. “The angry parent, forcing the recalcitrant father of the bastard baby to -”

He looked at her. “We’ll have none of that kinda talk. I ain’t your parent, nor am I angry - well, not much - and Jayne ain’t in the least recalcitrant. And no baby of yours is ever gonna go through life being called a bastard.”

“Technically since we aren’t yet married -”

“River.” He put his hands on her shoulders. “You will be. In less than an hour.”

“And you called me ‘xiao nu’.”

He smiled. “Well, today I’m proud to be standing in for your Pa, River.”

“You saved me. Protected me. Found me a man. More than most fathers would.“ She grinned brilliantly, saving him the embarrassment of denying it. “Then it’s time?”

“It’s time.”

Compared to dealing with River, it was easy to scrape Zoe off the ceiling and get her outside.


Jayne ran his finger around his neck yet again and glanced towards the doors at the back of the chapel. Almost all the seats were full with Shepherds, a sea of grey shirts topped with an array of blue, green, grey and white collars. He half expected to see Book smiling back at him.

The front two rows, though, were reserved for family and friends. Freya had sat down next to Dillon and Harrow, talking animatedly to both of them, but glancing his way with a reassurance he needed once in a while. Jesse, sitting on Dillon’s lap, saw Jayne looking at her and waved at him, and he waved back.

A little further along his Ma was looking at him, such pride in her eyes that he could barely breathe, a pride he’d wanted to see coming from her for so long, and thought he never would. Next to her, Gilford was holding her hand, grinning widely, and it occurred to Jayne that maybe he wasn’t too bad. He’d made his Ma happy for a long time, and who was he to say that was wrong? He nodded at the older man, who blushed in appreciation.

“You okay?” Matty asked quietly, standing close next to him. “You ain’t likely to faint, nor nothing?”

“If’n I do, you know what that means, don’t ya?”

“No. What?”

“Best man has to step in, marry the girl.”

Matty grinned. “Wouldn’t mind.”

Jayne elbowed him in the ribs. “You keep your hands off her.”

“Hell, Jayne. I got me Jolene back home. She’s about all I can handle.”

“Yeah, they get you like that, don’t they?”

“Surely do.” Matty coughed slightly. “So, you gonna be best man when I marry Jo?”

“You askin’?”

“I’m askin’.”

“Then I’d be proud to, Matty.”

The younger Cobb grinned.

“Didn’t you have anyone you wanted to come to the wedding?” Simon asked Hank as they stood the other side of the aisle.

“There ain’t no-one but me,” the pilot admitted. “Just me and Zoe and Ben.” He didn’t sound too unhappy about it. “All I need, Simon.”

“I know what you mean.”

There was movement at the back of the chapel, and the Abbot, waiting patiently in front of the altar, stirred. “Gentlemen,” he said softly. “If you’d care to take your places.”

Jayne and Hank stepped forward, Matty and Simon just behind them, but each of them watching the doors intently. The Abbot nodded to the organist, who segued easily into a more spirited piece of music, and suddenly the air in the chapel was electric. Everyone turned as the doors opened.

Kaylee and Inara came through first, walking slowly, smiling at everyone, moving to sit either side of the aisle in the front row. Then Bethie skipped along, tossing handfuls of petals high into the air so they fell like fragrant snow before joining her mother. Then …

Mal walked in, head high, River on his right arm, Zoe on his left. Not that anyone, except perhaps Freya, was watching him. It was the two brides who had everyone else’s attention.

Wu de mah,” Hank murmured. He’d never seen Zoe look so beautiful. Dressed in heavy oyster satin, her shoulders were bare except for thin straps supporting a bodice that clung to her every curve. Fitted sleeves began on a line with her breasts, and slid in a smooth line to a row of pearl buttons around her wrists. The full length skirt swathed around her hips, falling in swags to her feet. She looked ravishing.

Simon smiled. He, Kaylee and Inara had spent a goodly portion of the previous night working on it, his own talent for tiny surgical stitching called upon more than once to make their ideas happen, but it was worth it. And yet, for all their hard work, it was the woman inside who made it astonishing.

His eyes moved to his sister, and the smile grew at the joy on her face.

Jayne was holding his breath, as if she might blow away in the slightest breeze. His River, his soon-to-be wife, was walking towards him in a billow of lace. He didn’t understand the technical details of the bias-cut slip to her knees, the overdress, the beads sewn onto the hem to make it hang right, the soft jewelled slippers … but he didn’t need to. All he needed to know was that she was here, and they were going to be married.

Crazy girl …

My Jayne. She smiled at him, and it was as if there was no-one else in the room as she glided up to him. Mal handed her to him, and she wrapped her fingers tightly around his arm.

The Abbot cleared his throat. “Ladies and gentleman, we are here today, in the sight of God, to join together …”

His voice droned through the chapel, using words both familiar and strange, calling on the assemblage to bear witness to this event, and take heart from the courage of two couples willing to be with each other until death.

Mrs Cobb couldn’t help a tear or two slipping down her cheeks, and her husband handed her a hankie, his arm around her.

“… and as each couple has agreed to accompany the other on their journey through life, it is now customary for them to exchange a token.” He nodded at Ethan, lurking by his father’s legs. The little boy stepped forward, opening the box in his hands.

Hank reached down and lifted out two rings, heavy platinum. He handed one to Zoe, then glanced at the Abbot, who nodded. “Zoe, you’re the most precious thing in my life. And I want everyone to know it.” He slid the ring onto her finger. “I love you.”

Zoe looked down at the band, then back into his face. “I never thought I’d find another man I wanted to be with, who’d make me laugh, make me angry, make me feel alive again. But here you are. And I want that more than anything.” She lifted the ring. “You sure I can’t put this through your nose?”

There was a wave of laughter through the chapel.

“Uh, rather you didn’t, honey,” Hank admitted.

“Then …” She pushed it onto his finger.

The Abbot smiled, then turned to the other couple. “Jayne? Would you care to …” He stopped, glancing down at Ethan. “Where are the other rings?”

“Ethan?” Mal asked quietly, looking down at his son.

“Nothing else, Daddy,” the little boy assured him, holding the box upside down.

“It‘s okay, Mal,” Jayne said, grinning. “He’s right. We … we did things a bit different.” He turned back to River. “Don’t need fancy words. ‘Cause it’s forever, moonbrain.”

She nodded. “Forever, my mercenary.” Dropping her head, she peeled off the flesh-coloured weave around Jayne’s third finger, revealing an intricately banded tattoo. Jayne did the same, her tattoo thinner but equally complex.

Simon’s jaw dropped open, even as Freya had to stifle a laugh.

“Well, this is a little unorthodox, but …” The Abbot chuckled. “I now pronounce you husband and wife, and husband and wife. You may kiss your brides.”

“I thought you’d never ask,” Hank said, pulling Zoe to him and pressing his lips to hers.

to be concluded


Sunday, January 20, 2008 10:45 AM


Compared to dealing with River, it was easy to scrape Zoe off the ceiling and get her outside.

That was priceless! Glad Zoe got her dress and everyone came together in the end. Beautiful piece of fluff! Hope you're feeling better.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 11:24 AM


Wonderfully described! What a lovely moment for Serenity's crew! :D

Sunday, January 20, 2008 11:52 AM


Tattoo wedding rings! What a great idea! I'm smiling:) see? Wonderful imagery, like I can see it! This has made my whole day!

Sunday, January 20, 2008 12:25 PM


I hope River and Hank's wedding rings are tattooed in indelible ink! That was a surprise but then it wouldn't have been River if she hadn't had an unusual twist to put into the ceremony and I too loved the bit about scraping Zoe off the ceiling. This was wonderful and quite priceless! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, January 20, 2008 12:26 PM


Ooops, so excited I put River and Hank instead of River and Jayne! A thousand sorries, great writing. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, January 21, 2008 4:40 AM


River standing by with the shotgun was hilarious. Wouldn't be a Serenity wedding without a little gunplay.
Great stuff


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"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

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Mal took a deep breath, allowing it out slowly through his nostrils, and now his next words were the honest truth. “Ain’t surprised. No matter how good you are, and I’m not complaining, I’ve seen enough battle wounds, had to help out at the odd amputation on occasion. And I don’t have to be a doc myself to tell his leg ain’t quite the colour it should be, even taking into account his usual pasty complexion. What you did … didn’t work, did it?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]

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“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.

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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!]