You Can't Go Home Again - Chapter 15
Sunday, February 24, 2008

Kaylee goes into labor. Hilarity and drama ensues.



It had been four months since Regan’s funeral and River’s departure to pursue her music career and to take care of Gabriel. The first two weeks were the hardest on them. Waking up every morning wasn’t as fun as it was when River woke them with her music. Mal kept telling the crew not to act like she died, but he still felt a twinge of regret whenever they got paid, and he wasn’t putting money aside for his one time Greek choir. And as much as he’d deny it, Jayne was actually beginning to miss the little moon brain.

Not surprisingly, the ones who were having the hardest time dealing with River’s absence were Simon and Kaylee. The three of them were probably the closest together of all of them. And not having her around to serenade them acoustically and speak in lyrics left a slight hole in them. Kaylee felt like she lost her best friend, while Simon felt that he’d lost his purpose. This was the first time in his life where they went their separate ways for good. She didn’t need him anymore. And despite her weekly waves with info on Gabriel and her emerging career, he couldn’t help but feel that she was gone for good.

But after a while, the remorse gave way to acceptance and a continuation of the normal routine. It had been a busy nine months for Serenity and her crew since Blue Tuesday. And if Kaylee’s gasp in the dark silence of her and Simon’s bunk was any indication, it was about to get a lot busier.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Kaylee sat up, feeling a pressure from within her. She had been having Braxton/Hicks contractions these last few days, but these were more painful than before. “Simon?” She reached over and shook her sleeping husband. “Simon, wake up.”

“Mmmph. What is it?”

“It think this is it.” Kaylee felt another contraction from within her. When it stopped, she knew. “This is it...she's coming. What do I do?” She hopelessly looked at him for the answers. Simon realized what she meant by it and bolted up from the bed, wide awake. “Holy go-se. Uhh...can you walk? We gotta get you to the infirmary.” He said this as he began to put on his pants.

Kaylee pulled away their bed sheets, swung her legs over and placed her feet on the metal floor. “Walk? Sure I can walk.” She then tried standing up onto the floor. A few seconds later, the pain and weight became too much for her and she would have fallen on the floor if Simon hadn’t been there to catch her. “Okay, maybe I can't walk so good.” Simon began helping her towards the ladder. “That's all right. We just need some help getting you up the ladder. Afterwards, I'll carry you.” After making sure she was holding onto the ladder rungs hard enough, Simon went over to the wall adjacent to Mal's bunk and began pounding on it. “MAL!! MAL, WAKE UP.”

A few seconds later, the very tired and angry growl of Mal broke the silence. “What in the gorram hell do you want, Doc? I was sleeping.” “Kaylee's having contractions. It's time.”

The shift in tone in Mal’s voice was so sudden, it would’ve been comical if it wasn’t during an urgent moment. “Wo de ma. All right. Be right there.”

Zoe was also awoken by the sudden flurry in activity. By the time she was up the ladder out of her bunk, Mal was already strapping up his suspenders as he crouched by the entrance to Kaylee’s bunk. “What's going on out here?” she asked in both a concerned and tired tone.

“Kaylee's gone into labor. It's time.” Mal replied. “Time for what?” Zoe and Mal turned around to see Wash crawl out of their bunk rubbing his eyes. He was so tired that he didn’t even bother to put some pants over his cartoon boxers. “It's 3:30 in the morning. Wake up isn't until 7.”

“Dear, the baby's coming.” Wash shook his head to wake himself as Zoe crouched down across from Mal and looked down into their bunk. She asked Simon, “What do you need us to do?”

Simon looked above and in front of him and took a deep breath as instinct kicked in. “First of all, I need Mal for you to help pull Kaylee up the ladder. Afterwards I can carry her the rest of the way. Zoe, you go wake up Inara and Book. Tell them to meet me in the infirmary. Wash, you go to the kitchen and start boiling water.”

Wash stared puzzled. “Why?”

“I need boiling water.”

“What for?”

“I just need some boiling water.”

As much as he was concerned for Kaylee and aware of the situation, his desire to go back to bed was still in control of his motivation. “In case if you haven’t noticed, water is a scarce thing on this ship. I'm not gonna boil a whole pot of water for some random thing.”

Zoe stood up and looked straight into his eyes. “Husband, shut up and do as the Doc says. I'll go get Inara and Book.” Zoe then ran down the hall towards Inara's shuttle.

Wash looked at Mal in an exasperated tone. “I just don't see the point in boiling hot water we're not going to use. Are we having soup afterwards?”

If there was anyone who was definitely not in the mood for Wash’s sarcastic remarks, it was Mal. “Wash, either you shut the hell up or I am going to shut you up, dong ma? Now do as the Doc says, we ain't got time to waste.” Mal looked back down to the expectant couple as Wash shuffled towards the kitchen. “Come on, Simon, let's go get Kaylee to the infirmary.”

“OK.” Simon waked around and put his hands under her arms. “Kaylee, I'm gonna push you up the ladder. Mal will be there at the top to pull you up the rest of the way, OK?”

“Uh huh.” Kaylee closed her eyes as she did her breathing exercise, all the while trying to keep a positive attitude. “Everything’s going to be shiny. Cap'n's gonna pull me, you're gonna shove me and then we go to the infirmary. Just shiny.”

“Yeah, shiny.” Simon braced himself and looked up at Mal. “OK. On the count of three. 1...2...3.” Simon took a deep breath and pushed Kaylee up the ladder as Kaylee simultaneously pulled herself up the ladder. As Mal took her hands and pulled her up the rest of the way, Kaylee’s water decided to break just then. Like a water balloon, a gush of amniotic fluid splashed onto Simon. As Mal laid Kaylee’s legs on the walkway, he peered down, seeing Simon spit out the fluid that was around his lips and wipe what was in his eyes out of it.

“Doc, you OK?”

Simon pinched the bridge of his nose to get the remaining fluid out of his eyes. “Yeah, yeah I'm fine. I just got a little bit of Kaylee in my eyes. And mouth.”

Mal looked away disgusted, trying to get the sudden mental image he had in his mind out. Kaylee began to peer over at the side as she said “Oh Simon, sweetie, I'm sor-“ She spasmed back as she felt her first painful contraction. She yelped in surprise. After it passed she finishes her sentence. “I'm sorry, Simon.”

Simon was now up the ladder and on the walkway. “That's all right.” He said warmly, “I've had worse. Now, let's get you to the infirmary.” Simon then began to put his arms under Kaylee as he prepared to lift her.

Mal was curious as to this sudden development. “Doc, what are you doing?”

“I'm carrying her.”

Mal’s mind paused for a quick second as he processed this sudden development. “I don't mean to interrupt your attempts at romanticizing this, but don't you think she's a little too heavy for ya?” As soon as he said that, Simon lifted her up. Mal suddenly had to restrain himself from busting out laughing. Simon had a look on him that was a mix of “I can do this” and “I just underestimated her weight and my strength.” But in a strained tone, Simon replied, “Nope. Not at all. Light as a feather.”

Mal merely stood aside and motioned towards the kitchen. “After you, Doc.” Like Frankenstein carrying his bride, Simon began to carry Kaylee in his arms down the hallway and into the kitchen. Wash stared with a puzzled look as he stood idly by the stove as it heated up.

“You want chicken noodle or French onion? It's the only powdered soup mix we have.”

Mal was definitely not in the mood for the pilot’s wisecracks. “Wash, do I need to remind you what shut up means? Now boil that gorram water and bring it to the infirmary and if I hear another word out of you my fist is gonna enjoy getting up close and personal with your face.”

Wash merely turned away as they headed towards the cargo bay. Kaylee tugged at Mal’s shirt. “Cap'n, that ain't nice.” As soon as she said that, she felt another painful contraction. She winced as she sucked in another breath through her gritted teeth. “Oww, neither was that.”

Mal looked at Simon and spoke to him in a “hurry it up” tone. “C'mon, doc. The moment is passing.”

“All right. We're almost there.” After a few more moments punctuated with labored footsteps, they arrived. “We're at the stairs now. Just gotta take this slowly.” Simon took his first step downward onto the stairs. Just as he began to take the second steps, another contraction hit. The spasm of pain from Kaylee caused her to pull down on his neck, which made Simon lose his balance and careen down the stairs and onto the first landing. For half a second, Simon balanced on the edge of the platform, and was a hair away from toppling over. Amazingly enough, he restored his balance and kept Kaylee safe from injury.

Mal had enough of his medic’s attempts at chivalry and approached them. “OK, Doc. That's it. I'm helping you.”

Simon turned around and spoke with resolve. “Mal, no. She's my wife and this is our child. We're doing it my way, dong ma?”

Mal threw up his arms up and spoke exasperatedly. “Fine, I give up. It's just my ship and sue me for caring whether or not my mechanic ends up black and blue from tumbling down a flight of stairs because my gorram doc is all caught up in his masculinity. But, hey, what does it matter what I think or how I feel. I'm just the gorram Captain.” He motioned sarcastically in the direction of the infirmary. “Lead the way, Doc.”

Simon took another deep breath and gathered his strength. Laboriously, he carried her the rest of the way to the infirmary where he set her down on the operating chair.

“There. I did it.”

“You didn't have to.”


“You didn't have to. It was romantic and all, but you could've asked Mal to help you out and I wouldn't have been offended.” Simon just stared dumbfounded and felt like an idiot, while Mal indulged in a private grin.

Kaylee caught that grin and admonished Mal. “And Cap'n, you can be supportive of Simon's decisions. It ain't easy bein....” She winced as she felt another contraction. “....being....” Another contraction quickly followed, keeping her from finishing her sentence. After it passed, she began to breathe frantically. She looked at Simon with concern and fear. “Is it suppose to hurt this much?”

Simon suddenly became Dr. Tam. “That depends on how far you're along.” He began taking off Kaylee's soaked panties as Mal looks away bashfully. Simon reached up within her to feel how far along she was.

Mal stared intently at the ceiling, trying to overcome his general unease about the proceedings. If there was one job he hated doing at the ranch, it was helping his ma and whatever poor farmhand that was in the barn at the time give birth to a new calf or foal. He would have rather rolled in the manure pile and jump into a cart of chaff than to re-live one of the more unpleasant aspects of farm life. “Simon, why are you feeling up your wife now, of all times to do so?”

“I'm checking to see how far along she's dilated. She's at....wait that can't be right. Mal, come take a look at this.”

Mal’s eyes nearly popped out as Simon said that to him. “Umm...I hope you ain't asking me to take a look at what I think your asking me too. She's a married woman, for gorram sake and married to you nevertheless, AND she's my lil' Kaylee. That ain't gonna be happening, Doc.”

Simon shook his head in an "I can't believe this" way. He spoke to his wife in a calm, rational way. The same way he would with a patient. “Kaylee, you're only at four centimeters. But with the rapidness of the contractions and the intensity of them, you're below where you should be at.” He paused before he said the next part. He hoped that it wouldn’t have to come to this, but it did. “We have to do an episiotomy. I have to make an incision to make the vagina wider so that when Brooke crowns, she won't tear you.” The sudden shift in tone in the room was seismic. He and Kaylee needed all the help they could get. “Where is everyone?”

Kaylee had a look of terror in her eyes. “Simon...” another contraction hit. She winced and began breathing frantically. “Simon, that doesn't sound good.” Another contraction passes through her. “Nee ta ma duh tyen-shia suo-yo duh run doh gai si.” she groaned through her teeth as she gripped the ends of the examining chair with her hands, her fingers digging into the leather. Simon heard footsteps from behind him. He glanced behind him and saw Zoe followed by Inara and Book come storming into the infirmary.

“What do you need me to do, Doc?” Zoe asked in a curt voice. To her, Simon was now in command. She was just there to help. Inara silently walked over to Kaylee's side and took her hand. Book just stood in the corner, intent on keeping out of everyone’s way. “Yes, Simon, what can we do to help?”

Simon looked up and began speaking in a way he thought he had forgotten how to. “Zoe, I need you to go through my cabinets for some tranquilizers. We need that to numb the skin around the vagina so that I can make an incision. Mal, I need you to find as many swabs and bandages as you can get. This is going to get messy. Inara, I need you at Kaylee's side. Talk to her. Hum, sing, let her hold your hand. Just do anything to calm her down. And Book, all you gotta do is pray.”

They all snapped to attention in a way Simon had never seem them do by his command. Inara clasped Kaylee left hand and began to hum some random tune. Book took out a cross that hung around his neck and began speaking quickly and quietly in Latin into the cross. Mal was going through the various drawers, pulling the various forms of gauze and bandage out onto the counter. Zoe was across from him, rummaging through the medicine cabinets, pushing aside random bottles and vials to get what they needed. Simon wheeled over his tray and began sterilizing the tools he knew he’d need.

Kaylee looked around in a panicky way. Her bangs were plastered onto her sweaty forehead, as she looked around her. Everyone was so serious and worried. “Simon, cutting sounds like a bad thing and tranqui...” she screamed as another contraction passed. She squeezed Inara's hand so tightly it made the Companion grit her teeth and wince. “Maybe tranquilizers are a good thing. They take the pain away, right?” She looks into Simon's eyes. She was praying to hear some reassuring words from her husband, and not her doctor.

Simon looked at her with concern and worry on more than one level. “Yes. But if we don't make an incision now, the head will tear your vagina and make you bleed even more. You could hemorrhage, and I don't want that to happen to you.”

Zoe seized a tiny vial of clear liquid and turned around. “Doc? Will this help?” Zoe tossed him the vial. Simon caught it in the air with his right hand and looked at the label.

“Yes. This is perfect.” He reached over to the tray and picked up a needle. He spoke as he began filling it up. “OK. Zoe, it's your turn to hold onto Kaylee's hand. Inara, Mal, I need you to take a leg each and pull it to the side. I need to trank her and then make the incision.”

As everyone changed positions, Wash came into the room, carrying the pot full of boiled water. “OK, I've got the soup, what's the status?”

Mal gave Wash a nasty look that could’ve killed if it was loaded. ”Kaylee's gonna have to have a little cut so Brooke can come out. Why don't you set down the pot and go to her side and hold her other hand.” Upon hearing this, as seeing Kaylee in a level of pain that he couldn’t begin to imagine, Wash set the pot down on the counter and did as Mal said.

Zoe looked over to Kaylee and began talking in a soothing voice. “It's going to be alright, Kaylee. Women have been having babies long before you and I were born. It's the most natural thing in the 'verse.” Inara chimed in with her patented Companion voice as she wiped some sweat from her brow. “And we are all right here with you, sweetie. There's no need to be scared.”

As much as Kaylee was grateful for the words of reassurance, they didn’t do shit in lessening the pain, which was so unbearable that she squeezed Wash's hand so hard it actually brought tears to his eyes. “Simon.” She panted. He didn’t look up. “SIMON!!!” He looked up in surprise and saw the desperation within her. Very quietly, she whimpered, “I need my husband here too.”

Simon put the needle aside. He stood up, leaned between her and took her face into his hands. “He is here. He was there when he carried you from our bunk to here and he’s here right now scared to death about what could happen.” He kissed her on the lips to assure her of his spousal presence. “I'm as worried about this as you are. But I need to be objective. I need to do this now.” He sat back down in front of her cervix and took the needle from the tray. “Now…” Simon inserted the needle into the vaginal wall. She winced as he pushed the plunger down and injected the liquid. He removed the needle and rubbed the outer skin to hurry the flow of the drug in the bloodstream. “You feel any better?” Through tears, she nodded to him. “OK.” He set the needle on the tray and picked up a scalpel. For a few seconds, he paused as he held his breath. What he was about to do was the hardest thing he had ever done in his medical career. “Here comes the gross part.” The room became deathly silent as he took the scalpel and made a small incision about a half inch deep. Everyone there held his or her breath as her blood began to flow out and dribble down onto the leather. “Mal, I need those bandages now.”

Mal handed them over quickly and quietly as Simon placed pressure on the slit as he mopped up the blood with the gauze. After a few tense moments, the bleeding stopped. There was still a substantial amount that was smeared around her vaginal area. Simon leaned over to the tray to get some cloth to clean her up.

During all this, Jayne had been fast asleep, dreaming of a threesome he had had with a pair of blonde twins a few years ago. That dream he was having was interrupted by stomping footsteps, yelling and more screaming than he could remember. They weren’t hit by Reavers, so there was no reason for all this noise and commotion to be happening, thus no reason why his dream of one of the best sexual experiences of his life had to be interrupted. After crawling out of his bunk, he began searching the ship for the commotion. He finally reached the infirmary and was ready to yell and possibly throw a few punches. But upon seeing the vast amount of blood coming from Kaylee’s nether regions, he froze.

“Oh jeez...” Jayne pronounced before he collapsed to the ground, already out like a light. Simon merely sighed in an irritated tone. “Oh for God’s sake. Wash, pull him in. I'll deal with him later.”

Wash let go of Kaylee hand and began to drag Jayne into the room. As Wash was ready to deposit Jayne on his side by the counter, Kaylee gave another loud scream. This startled Wash so much that he nudged the pot of hot water off the counter, which proceeded to splash all over Wash and Jayne. Both men start screaming in pain due to this.

Wash gripped his arm and yelled. “OH GORRAM. I didn't think it would be for this. YAAAGGGHHHHH.” Jayne had also joined in the chorus of screaming at he felt the boiling water redden his chest under his shirt.

Mal merely looked to Zoe in irritance. “How the hell did I end up with such an incompetent crew?” He looked over to Wash and Jayne and barked at them. “You two stop whining and concentrate on Kaylee. She's the one in real pain, remember?”

Kaylee looked over to Mal in somewhat of a daze. “I love my Cap'n. He's always thinking of MMMMMMMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!” Her brief serenity was interrupted by the most painful contraction she felt, with another one following a minute later.

“It's okay mei-mei. Simon, how much longer before she can push?” Inara asked in a concerned and pissed tone. “Almost there. She's at about 8 and a half centimeters.” Simon was having a hard time concentrating between Wash, Jayne and Kaylee’s screams, Book’s Latin and the oncoming head. “There are way too many people here. Inara, take Wash and Jayne out of here. Book, I'm sure you can pray outside.”

As Book walked out of the infirmary, Inara got up, grabbed a bottle of liquid epidermis off the counter and motioned Wash and Jayne out of the room. As Jayne was leaving, he foolishly looked back.

“Kaylee, you gonna be-“ He saw the same sight as before, but now there was a head emerging from between her legs. For the second time in two minutes, he fainted and dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes.

Mal shook his head as he saw Book and Inara drag Jayne’s body to the common room. “If he wasn't so good at being the dumb, scary mercenary, I'd kick him out the airlock.” He turned his attention back to Simon and Kaylee. “This is your show, Doc. Tell me what to do. “

“Tell me what to do, too. I could use a little help.” Kaylee was struggling, as tried to do her breathing exercises. They didn't seem to be helping.

“OK. You're fully dilated. It's time. The next time you feel a contraction, bear down on it. Mal, just take her other hand and hold on.” Mal moved to her left side, with Zoe on her right. “OK. 1..2..3. GO.”

As she pushed down, Mal and Zoe tightened their grip on Kaylee’s hands. A sudden sense of déjà vu came over them as they remembered the numerous times they had to hold onto the hands of soldiers who were having their limbs cut off. After a few seconds of intense pain, Kaylee body went slack as the contraction stopped. “This is so hard. I don't think I can do that again.”

Simon looked up at her. “You have to. You're doing good. The head's beginning to crown. Just a few more pushes and the head should be fully out.”

Kaylee braced herself and sat up. ”Okay, I"ll try.”

Mal looked at her and tried to give some words of encouragement. “You can do this mei-mei. It's just like working on the engine.”

“I’ve never had to push an engine part out of me. Don’t see how this rela-“ She felt another contraction coming on and pushed. She collapsed onto the chair afterwards and gave a look to Zoe that said “I’m done.”

Zoe began speaking to her. “Come on Kaylee, one more push and you'll get to hold little Brooke in your arms for the first time. That's got to be worth all this hard work, right?” Kaylee nodded her head and felt the biggest contraction starting.

“Alright Kaylee, this is the one, come on, imagine how good it’s going to feel to meet little Brooke face to face.” This was enough incentive for Kaylee to sit up, push down and scream so loud that the entire ship rang with her cry.

As Simon watched, the head finally emerged and something happened in him. The room suddenly quieted even though his wife was screaming bloody murder. The objectivity that he had towards the proceedings seemed to evaporate. It was when he saw a glimpse of the baby’s face that it finally hit him. This was no abstract idea. This was his daughter. His little girl. He then began to pull her out gently. She turned and the shoulders popped out. He hooked his fingers underneath her armpits and began pulling her out. When she finally emerged, he really saw her for the first time. She was naked, bloody, and covered in gunk. From an outsider’s point of view, it was kinda disgusting. But for Simon, this was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. He began to smile and have the same level of enthusiasm towards her as Kaylee.

“It's a girl. She's here. We're parents.”

Brooke took in her first breath and began to cry. For Kaylee, it was sweeter than a heavenly chorus or Serenity’s engine when it was fully operational. After Simon cut off the umbilical cord, cleaned her up and wrapped her in a towel, he brought her over for Kaylee to hold in her arms. “Kay, meet Brooke. She's our daughter.”

The look on Kaylee’s face went from pain to awe as she happily took Brooke into her arms. She laughed and cried in joy as she felt her wriggle around in her arms. “She's so beautiful. She's got River’s eyes.” She smiled at Simon and looked into his eyes. Life had never felt so good. “She's gonna be perfect. She already is perfect.” She looked up at Mal and Zoe and gave them a very grateful look. ”Thank you. For everything.”

Mal looked at the newly formed mother and smiled. “Ain't no need for a thankin' lil Kaylee, Lil' Brooke was worth it. She's got a smile just like her momma's. Lights up the whole room.”

Zoe looked down upon the couple with the same maternal look. While she slightly wished that it was her who had just given birth, she was just as excited and proud of Kaylee as Mal was. “She is beautiful, Kaylee.”

Kaylee looked back at Brooke who was just staring up at her. “She is. She's really beautiful.” She kissed Brooke on her forehead and looked back up at her husband and newly formed father. “We made a beautiful baby, Simon.”

Simon just stared, and for once felt infinite complacency. “That we did.” He turned around and called out to everyone else. “OK everyone, you can come in now.”

Quietly, Wash, Inara, Jayne and Book piled in through the doorway. Wash took a stand beside Zoe, with everyone else standing in a line, looking at the new ninth crew member who had just begun crying again.

Wash chuckled at this. “She's certainly got a healthy set of lungs. I imagine we'll be hearing 'em quite a bit these next couple of months.”

Kaylee held her tightly near her breast. “She's just making her entrance into the world, letting everyone know she's here.”

Jayne merely growled, “We know, so she can stop now.”

Inara politely elbowed Jayne in the stomach, particularly where the burns hadn’t healed yet, causing him to wince in pain. “What he meant to say was, she's beautiful Kaylee.”

Book joined in with his reverence. ‘Today is a wonderful day. It's such a blessing to be part of this.”

Inara looked back at him and smiled. “That it is, Shepherd.”

Simon looked down at his daughter and was reminded of who they named her after. “My only regret is that River wasn't here to see this.”

Kaylee picked up on this and assured him, “I think she was. I think she is, in her own way.”

Book continued. “If not in the flesh, at least in the spirit. Speaking of which, have you thought of baptizing this little angel?”

Kaylee looked up towards Book. “We have talked about it. We were actually going to ask you if you mind doing the honors.”

Book nodded. “It would be my pleasure.” He turned around and began to address the crew individually. “I would like to ask you all to join in this. And not just with your presence. I would like to ask each of you to go to your rooms and find something. A liquid or a powder of some kind that will be mixed together to make a solution that we will use to baptize Brooke with. I think that in this case holy water won't be the only thing I should use.”

Kaylee thought about what Book was asking them all to do and nodded with a grin. “That's a really shiny idea, Shepherd.”

Zoe, Wash, Inara and Jayne filed out of the room to find something for the mixture. Mal just stood there and remained tight lipped.

“Captain? Is there something wrong?”

Mal looked at Book and spoke in a hushed tone that the newly formed family could overhear. “I once told you that you're allowed on this ship, but God ain't. Now if Kaylee and Simon want to have Brooke here baptized that's fine. But I'll be damned if I take part in some crazy ritual I don't believe in.”

Kaylee was surprised to hear this. “But Cap'n, you have to be part of the ceremony. It would mean a lot to me if you were there. Please, Cap'n?” Mal looked from Kaylee’s worried face, to Simon’s pissed expression and then to Book’s cold stare. Faced with no choice, Mal stomped off. After a few moments, Book then went off to get the necessary tools. The newly formed family exhaled and Simon moved around to get in a bit closer to them.

“So what's her full name going to be? Do you want Brooke Tam or Brooke Frye?”

“Tam, silly. But what about a middle name? Have you given it any thought?”

“Well, I was thinking that maybe we should each give her a middle name so as to give her two family ties. I was thinking Regan, after her late grandmother. It's the only thing I really want tying her to my old life. What about you?”

Kaylee considered this and thought it would be the proper thing to do. “Regan would be shiny. I'm sure your mom would have liked that. Brooke Regan Tam. It sorta has a nice ring to it.” She looks down at the baby in her arms and smiled for the 17th time in a row. “She looks like a Brooke Regan to me. It kinda sounds all proper and fancy, like she could be someone famous.”

“Yeah, it does. But she should have another middle name tying into your family as well. Who’d you want to name her after?”

“Oh gosh, there's so many people in my family, but I suppose we could call her Katherine after my momma.”

“So our first child’s name will be Brooke Regan Katherine Tam. What do you think?”

“I like it, it’s nice.” She looked down at her daughter and spoke to her. “What do you think Brooke? Does Brooke Regan Katherine Tam sound good to you?” Brooke cooed for the first time which made Kaylee giggle. “What do you think daddy, does that translate into a yes?”

“I think it does. You know, I could go and get some liquid wrench from the engine room for the mixture. Give you some alone time with her.”

“If you promise to hurry back. I'm still basking in the three of us, being together, being a family. I still can't believe we're parents. But we are, and she's as real as it gets.”

“I'll be right back.” Simon paused for a moment to see Kaylee hold their daughter in her hands. He took it in briefly and then rushed out the infirmary and up the stairs to get the liquid wrench from her toolbox.

The infirmary was now still. She liked these moments. Some of her favorite moments of her pregnancy was when she was by herself in their bunk or the engine room, roaming her hands around her globe like womb. She would talk to Brooke, sometimes for hours on end, about anything that was on her mind. She thought of it as her way of making sure Brooke wouldn’t be afraid of being born. But this time would be different. She’d actually be talking to her child one on one. She sat up again and started truly talking to Brooke for the first time.

“Well, this is it. We've both been through so much today. You're experiencing bein' a baby for the very first time and I'm experiencing bein' a mom for the first time. I imagine you're as scared as I am, but don't worry. There ain't no reason for us to be scared anymore 'cause we've got each other. And we've got your daddy too.” She placed the second kiss of an infinite amount of kisses upon Brooke's forehead, while trying to keep her tears of happiness at bay. “If I can be half as good a mom as my momma was, I know I'll do right by you. I promise I'll do right by you. How could I not? You're my sweet little angel. A little bundle sent down from heaven.” Brooke started crying then, and began motioning towards her breast. Kaylee chuckled at this and began to slip her left arm out from underneath the strap of her pink nightie. “You must be hungry, huh? I bet traveling down that birth canal ain't no easy task. It sure wasn't on my end.” She exposed her left breast and brought Brooke up to it. Brooke took to her nipple and began to gulp from it hungrily. “You've sure worked up a well-deserved appetite, darlin'.”

For a few minutes, the only sound in the infirmary was Kaylee’s breathing and Brooke’s suckling. After a while, Mal walked in and saw Brooke feasting on Kaylee's breast. A look of shock and revulsion came over his face as he pivoted around. “Oh, gao yang jong duh goo yang. There are some things that a man shouldn't see at four o'clock in the morning, and that’s among the top on that list.”

Kaylee was surprised at Mal’s sudden bashfulness. “Cap'n this is perfectly natural. Ain't no reason for you to run out the room.”

Inara had just heard this as she walked back into the infirmary and decided to riff on this. “Yes, Mal. That is what they're for. They're not decoration.”

Mal turned around and spoke in a frustrated tone. “Fine. Just finish up before Jayne sees you. Don't want him perverting this with his one track mind.”

Kaylee chuckled at that remark. “Whether I'm breastfeeding or not, Jayne's thoughts are going to be perverted.”

As if on cue, Jayne walked in, flinched and immediately turned around. “Oh jeez, that just ain't right.”

Simon then followed, using this opportunity to take a dig at Jayne. “Why? Isn't that what you've wanted to do with my wife for the longest time?”

Jayne stared at them, a mix of nervous emotions running across his face. “'s just that.....with her...and her....It's just wrong, OK?”

Kaylee laughed at his newfound squeamishness. “Jayne, your momma did the same for you. Ain't no reason to be turnin' red.” She looked up to Simon. “Did you find the liquid wrench?”

He held up a tiny squirt bottle of it and shook it. “Right here.” He passed the bottle to her free hand and then began going through the cabinets.

“What'cha looking for.”

“I have a vial of a special kind of antibiotics stored somewhere here. Ah, there it is.” He took out a small vial with a clear liquid in it. He looked at it as if it were buried treasure. “It's a special kind of antibiotics that used to only be available on the Core. Every child there was injected with this when they're born. No reason why she can't have it out here on the Rim.” He filled a needle with the drug, leaving half of the liquid in the vial. “Where's Book?”

“I'm right here, son.” Book walked in, carrying with him a golden chalice and a glass bottle of water. “I was just getting the holy water. Has everyone found something to add to the mixture?”

Inara replied, “I believe we all have Shepherd.”

“Good. Then I don't see any reason to put this off any longer. Are the parents and baby ready?”

Kaylee looked down at Brooke and saw her eyes droop. “She looks a bit sleepy. So I guess we better hurry before she tuckers out. Are you ready, Simon?”

“Yes. Although I think we should wait for Wash and Zoe to come as well.” Off in the distance, he heard hurried footsteps and Zoe yelling. “We're here. Don't start without us.” Wash and Zoe then entered the room. Zoe was out of breath and Wash was still grimacing over the burns. “OK, were here.”

“All right then. Let's begin.” The room went silent as Book composed himself and cleared his voice. “Bless us father for this joyous occasion here today. We are gathered to witness the baptism of...”

Simon then realized that no one other than the three of them knew her full name. “Oh. Brooke Regan Katherine Tam.”

Book continued solemnly. “Brooke Regan Katherine Tam.” He placed the golden chalice on Simon’s medical tray. “The act of baptism is a scared right of passage. In the eyes of God, it acknowledges the presence of a new spirit in the physical and spiritual realm. It is also symbolic of the cleansing of the spirit. That we can be forgiven for whatever sins we have and will commit in our lives. It also serves a third purpose. By baptizing her in a mixture made of various elements from her family, it is also a way of instilling faith and support from those who love her and will protect her. I now ask that each of you come forward and place within the chalice an element that is symbolic of yourselves and what gifts you wish to instill her.” Book unscrewed the cap off of the bottle. “I shall place in here holy water from the Head Temple of New Jerusalem, so that she may have a clear spirit and an understanding of the world around and beyond her.”

Book then wheeled the tray over to Kaylee so that it was in arms reach. She held the tiny bottle over the chalice. “Her momma's a mechanic, so it seems fitting she'd have some liquid wrench mixed in.” She squirted in a tiny bit. “Here's hopin she takes after her mom in knowing how to fix engines and all things mechanical.”

Simon screwed off the top of the vial and held it up for all of them to see. “This is a special kind of antibiotics used in pediatrics. This is so that she can be healthy and intelligent wherever she goes.” Simon then poured the remaining amount into the cup as well and then wheeled the tray over to Inara. She was holding a tiny purple glass bottle in one hand with the glass stopper on the other.

“This is my favorite perfume. It is some of the Core's finest.” She let a tiny drop of it plink into the mixture. “May she grow from a beautiful baby into a beautiful young woman.”

She moved the tray to Jayne. As he shuffled forward, he brought out a shell that had the lead head cut off. “Uhh, this is one of Vera's bullets. I cut the top off here.” He then dumped the gunpowder into the cup. “Here’s so that, unlike her old man, she can be tough and can defend herself if she gets into trouble.” As soon as he stepped back, Zoe hits him where his burns were. He grimaced in pain.

Zoe walked forward, held her finger over the mixture and pricks it with one of the scalpels. A tiny amount of blood dripped into it. “My blood symbolizes my personality, one of a warrior. This is so that she can be tough as well as smart. The latter is something your Uncle Jayne severely lacks in.”

As Zoe and Jayne glared at each other, Wash hobbled forward. “Don't really have anything that profound, so I got this.” From his pocket, he pulled out a small packet of soup mix. “Here's so that she can have a sense of humor about any situation she's in.” He ripped the packet open and dumped the contents in. “It's chicken noodle so the health thing fits in as well.”

All eyes then shifted towards Mal now. Mal very reluctantly pulled something out of his pants pocket. “I really don't have anything as well. Took me a while, but I found this.” He opened his hand and let the golden cross necklace he wore during the war dangle. “It got me through the War. Don't have much use for it now. Figured that maybe it could help you out somehow.” Mal went over and dipped the cross into the mixture. He pulled it out and brought it over to Brooke, where he proceeded to put it into her tiny hand.

Kaylee smiled at Mal as he stood back. “That's really shiny of you Cap'n.”

Simon took Brooke into his arms and brought her to Book. Book stirred the mixture with a tongue depressor and placed it at the side of the tray. He held Brooke over the top of the chalice and placed his fingertips within the solution. He then brought them up and let the drops of the solution fall onto her forehead. “I baptize thee now with the elements of Serenity. Bless her in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

As the rest of the crew, sans Mal, said “Amen”, Book brought Brooke back to her mother’s arms. Kaylee thanked Book as she took her. “Thank you, Shepherd. That was a beautiful ceremony.”

Simon joined in with his gratitude. “Yes, it was. Thank you so much.” “My pleasure, son.” Mal then yawned and brought a hand to his mouth to cover it. “Well, now that we've blessed her with us, how's bout we bless ourselves with some sleep. I'll let all of you sleep in for about an hour, but afterwards we go to work. Gotta big day tomorrow, what with Kaylee on maternity leave and all.”

Kaylee looked up with a confused look. ”I can still work Cap'n. Might be hard to tear me away from this little angel, but when she's nappin' I can find some time to check on my other girl.”

Mal looked back at Kaylee and grinned. “Don't strain yourself too much then. Good night.” Mal exited the infirmary. He was then followed by everyone else, leaving the new family to themselves.

Simon exhaled again and looked down at his watch. “Well, the blood should be clotted by now. I can stitch you up and take over. Give you a few hours sleep.”

“I am a bit sleepy.” Kaylee emphasized this by yawning as she held a sleeping Brooke close to her. “But I can stay up if ya need me to. You look tired yourself.”

Simon rubbed his eyes at this. “A bit.” He brought them down and looked at them again. “But seeing her just makes me wide awake. We did good.”

“We did, didn't we?” Kaylee was all smiles at this point. “Maybe after you stitch me up you could come lay with us. Don't think we've really had a chance to relax with her yet.” She looked back down at their sleeping baby and then back up to Simon. “It's going to be good, Simon, being parents. It’s been about 15 minutes since I became a mom, but I can't imagine not being one now. It's the greatest feelin' in the 'verse.”

Simon gave her a smile, silently agreeing. He pulled up a stool and began stitching her up. Afterwards, he carried her back up to their room with Kaylee carrying Brooke in her arms. They got into bed, careful as to not wake her up. And for hours on end, they just lay there with their daughter in their arms, staring at their new beginning.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

It was mid-afternoon at Newhope when Simon called. Katie Frye was alone in the house as she cleaned up around it. She was grateful that for once she was all alone. With a husband, five children and eleven grandchildren all depending on her, it was rare that she had the place to herself. She had decided to use that opportunity to really make the place all nice and clean, despite the fact that in less than two hours, Cole would be tracking dirt into the house. She was halfway through dusting the living room and getting the towels out of the dryer, when the Telefonix blinked. She threw the cloth into the sink and picked up. She was surprised to see that it was Simon on the other side of the screen.

“Mrs. Frye?”

“Speaking. And please call me Katie, darlin’. Mrs. makes me sound so old.”


“Well you don’t have to sound so formal about it. I mean, you are my son-in-law. Speaking of which, how you been treating my little girl? We ain’t talked since you sent us that wedding video.”

“You mean, she hasn’t told you?”

“Told me what? You’re going to have to clarify, Doc. No one ever tells you anything, that’s one of the things about being old.”

“Well, I don’t know how to put this, but you’re a grandmother.”

Katie laughed at this. “Well I know that. I got eleven young’uns running around here calling me gramma.”

“Make it twelve.”

Katie went silent.

“Kaylee and I just had a baby. She was born this morning. Weighed 6 pounds, 4 ounces. We named her Brooke. Brooke Regan Katherine Tam.”

Simon looked at Katie, waiting for some sort of response. “Katie?”

Katie Frye then erupted in a joyful squeal. She always made this sound every time she was told that she had just become a grandmother. The news never got old. She started jumping up and down, laughing in ecstasy. As she calmed down slightly, she looked back at the screen. “Boy, you just made my day. Where is she and that little bundle of joy?”

“They’re both sleeping in our bunk. We’ve been up since 3:30 in the morning, and it’s only now that both of them are getting some sleep.”

“Well don’t wake them up. Waking up a sleeping baby is stupid. Waking up a wife after labor and a screaming baby, that’s damn near suicidal.”

Simon laughed at his first pearl of parental advice he’s ever heard in his life. “I’ll be sure to remember that. We’re a bit busy now. We’re pretty much booked solid for the next three months. But we’ll try to swing by Newhope so that you can see the new addition to your family.”

“OK, Simon. I gotta go now. People to call, you know.”

Simon smiled and said good bye. As soon as the screen went blank, Katie Frye began punching up numbers and spreading the news. Her baby girl’s got a baby of her own. This was another day in the long lines of happiest days of her life.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

It was late at night as River placed the door handle into the port and entered the mid-sized apartment she shared with Gabriel. She was simultaneously pumped and beat. It was another long day in the recording studio as she, Johnny, Cliff, George and Keith laid down cover tracks and songs of their own. She was enjoying this new life immensely, but all she wanted to do was just to put the guitar aside and crash on the couch while listening to some of the more mellow selections of Hendrix on her headphones, maybe even some Nina Simone. Gabriel was probably sound asleep already, and she didn’t want to wake him up.

She went to get a bottle of water out of the fridge, and noticed the small cortex monitor blinking. She went over and pressed the receive button. Her face brightened up when she saw that it was Kaylee.

“Hey, River.”

“So how was it?”

“How was what?”

River gave her a look which silently said ‘Duh’.

“Oh…long…arduous…painful, and for more than one person. I got cut on and Jayne and Wash got second degree burns from the water we didn’t need anyways.”

River sucked some air through her teeth indicate how painful it must’ve sounded. “But Brooke’s all right, right?”

“Yep. She’s the happiest, most beautiful baby you’d ever set your eyes on. I got her right here. Hold on a sec.”

Kaylee bent over and disappeared from sight for a few seconds. Very slowly, she brought up a small baby, dressed in pink baby clothes and wearing a very tiny version of Jayne’s orange and yellow cap. River nearly burst out laughing upon seeing this, but stopped when she turned Brooke around and River saw her niece for the first time.

She had always seen other people babies before, and her interest in them was mild at best. But upon seeing this tiny person with her eyes, Kaylee’s smile and her brother’s chin, River couldn’t help but be awestruck. Kaylee took Brooke’s tiny right arm and waved it for her.

“Hey, Brooke. This is your Auntie River. Wave hi to her.”

River smiled at the similarities between the three of them. Brooke then giggled at her, which made her smile again.

“Hold on a sec. Hold her right there.” River reached over to one of the buttons on the side of the Cortex screen and pressed it a number of times. Out of a slot at the bottom of the screen, full colored pictures began sliding out of the machine. “Now we got something for the fridge and to show the guys.”

“How’s everyone doin’ on your end?”

“Great. We’re laying down at least ten singles a day. Covers in the morning, new stuff in the afternoon. And Shooter’s just over the moon with this whole rockumentary thing he has in mind.”

“How’s your father.”

River paused and took in a deep breath. “He really needs to get out of the apartment. I keep asking him to come down and listen to us play. But if didn’t have to go to the bathroom, I don’t think he’d ever get out of bed.”

Kaylee looked at River with a suggestive look. “Maybe these’ll cheer him up.”

“Maybe.” The image began to fuzz and distort. “Whoop, you’re losing me.”

“That’s all right. We’ll talk to you later. Bye.”

The screen went blank. River looked down at the pictures of Kaylee and her new niece and smiled reverently. She took one of them and placed it on the fridge. She set another one on the table for the guys. She then walked over to the door to her father’s room and knocked.

“Dad? Are you awake?”

There was silence for a few moments. She opened the door and saw her father sleeping. His bedside lamp was still on and an open book was in his hands, sprawled out over the bed.


Gabriel woke with a start and shook his head. “Oh, River. I didn’t hear you come in.”

“I just got in.”

Gabriel noticed the pictures in her hand. “What are those?”

River stepped closer to his bed and held them out. “It’s of Kaylee and Brooke. She was born this morning. Congratulations. I’m an aunt, and you’re a grandfather.”

He stared blankly and tiredly at the pictures. “What’s with the cap? That’s got to be the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.”

“It was a baby gift from Jayne. Asked his mother for his old one so that he could give it to them. I know, it’s ugly too. But it’s so cute on her.” She paused as he stared at them a little more. “They named her after mom, you know.”

Gabriel looked up at her. “Really?”

“Yeah. Her full name is Brooke Regan Katherine Tam. After her two grandmothers. It would be nice of you to call them, give them your congratulations.”

“I’ll think about it.” Gabriel then tossed the pictures to the side on the bedside table and put his book away. “It’s late, River. We should get to bed.”

“I won’t stay up too long. Goodnight, Dad.”

“Goodnight.” River walked out of the room and slowly closed the door behind her. Gabriel stared ahead for a few moments, and then reached over to pick up the photos. He really looked at them this time. He was struck at how these baby pictures seemed to be an amalgam of River and Simon’s. Aside from the orange and yellow cap, she really looked like a Tam. For the first time in as long as he could remember, Gabriel smiled. Maybe there was hope for the future after all.


Friday, February 29, 2008 5:43 AM


What a beautiful ending to the story! Loved the funny parts with Jayne fainting twice and Mal being disturbed by breast-feeding, and moved by Kaylee's "I need my husband here too" (and Simon's response), the baptism scene, and the end with Gabriel looking at the pictures of Brooke.

Friday, February 29, 2008 5:50 AM


Thanks for the kind words.

I should say though that this is the second to last chapter, actually. The very last chapter I need to do a little work on before it's posted.

Would like to hear from you about the previous chapters. As fun as it was to write this chapter, it was the previous ones that are the most personal to me, since it's what I've always wanted to see in a FIREFLY fanfic.


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You Can't Go Home Again - Chapter 15
Kaylee goes into labor. Hilarity and drama ensues.

You Can't Go Home Again - Chapter 14
Wash and Shooter discuss death and dinosaurs, Gabriel tells Kaylee about Regan, River brings her family together one last time, and Simon and Kaylee face an uncertain future.

You Can't Go Home Again - Chapter 13
Everyone returns to the mansion, Johnny helps a grieving River with some Van Morrison, and Gabriel asks Mal to end it all.

You Can't Go Home Again - Chapter 12
Gabriel is confronted by his family with the news, Kaylee makes a call to Inara, some unexpected guests arrive, and Gabirel is confronted by a familiar demon.

You Can't Go Home Again - Chapter 11
Signal rocks the house, Regan makes a realization, and three major things happen to River in the span of half an hour.

You Can't Go Home Again: Chapter 10
The Tams make their way to the Metro, Johnny get's spiritual clarity with the help of thousands, River plays a favorite of hers, and Simon and Kaylee go on a long delayed date.

You Can't Go Home Again Chapters 6-9
The next day of Simon, River and Kaylee's journey to the Core. Simon comforts Regan in more ways than one, Kaylee makes some figurative and literal repairs of her own, River and Johnny go from the top of a warehouse building to front and center of the Metro in less than 24 hours, and Regan shows it's never to late to make things right.

You Can't Go Home Again Chapters 1-5
Set after THE SERENITY GIG, BLUE HAND BLUES and SHOTGUN TAM, this story takes place in an AU where the BDM never happened, although there will be refrences to it. With the social and economic breakdown of the Alliance, the Tam's are finally free. But a message from home forces them to deal with a larger issue at hand.

You Can't Go Home Again: Chapter 9
The Metro opens its doors, Kaylee sees what she's dreamed of, and the first rock concert in two hundred years goes under way with an updated classic.

You Can't Go Home Again: Chapter 8
This is the all singing, no dancing chapter as River and the band play in public for the first time and tap into something big. The Tam's and Kaylee get wind of this and round two of the fight is interrupted by an unexpected source.