Lineage, pt 1/5

Jayne, his thumbs hooked on his belt, frowned down at his wife. His brows twitched in worry. "Honey, it's been five gorram days. You gotta get up sometime."

River snuggled her chin further into the pillow, and looked up at him with wide, determined eyes. "One more day, Jayne. Want to give them a chance."

"Thought Doctor Lay said to go on like normal," he reminded her.

"She did," River admitted. "But our lives are not normal. Please, Jayne? One more day."

He rubbed a hand over the back of his neck, and squatted down next to their bed. Jayne sighed. He knew she wasn't getting up unless he hauled her out of that bed, and then she'd knock him out and go lie down again. He leaned in to kiss her forehead, and said, "Alright, one more day. But tomorrow your ass is gettin' up. I'm the one Mal's been gripin' out because his pilot's bedridden."

She rolled her eyes. "Captain needs to learn patience." River pecked a kiss on his nose. "And so do you."

Jayne snorted, and stood up. "I'll tell Mal he's got another full day on the bridge. You want me to bring you breakfast?"

"Yes, please."

"See ya in a bit, then."

Jayne walked to the door. He turned back for a last look in time to catch River moving to lay cross-wise on the bed with her feet propped up on the wall, and her head hanging off the edge. How that was supposed to help, he had no idea. Jayne shook his head, and shut the door behind him.

River adjusted her body until she was at an angle with the mattress, her head down, and her hips up. Hopefully her posture—uncomfortable though it was—would help the two embryos implanted less than a week ago to establish and begin to grow. She smiled in anticipation.

Shortly before the anniversary of Jayne's proposal, River was talking with the other women of Serenity in the shuttle that Inara and Mal now shared. The inevitable talk of the three children came up. Annabelle wasn't walking yet, but she said her first word—wrench, though it sounded like "lench"—and loved spending time looking at picture books. At five years old, Dewey was starting to have school work to do during the day. Angel liked to watch, and was quickly picking up how to read and do math, though she wasn't yet correcting Dewey's spelling as Simon half expected. For her third birthday, she had wished for a brother. Although they hadn't talked about it since Annabelle's birth, River was sure Jayne knew her thoughts on the matter of another baby.

"It's not that Angel is not a gift," River told her friends. "I would not trade her for anything in the 'verse. But if I could have a baby, I would. I want to so much."

"I feel the same way about Dewey," Zoë said. "I love that boy as much as if he were my own. But I sometimes wish I had gotten to have a child with Wash. We woulda made beautiful kids."

Kaylee chuckled. "See me? I'm all for keeping Bella an only child. We got a hard enough time keeping track of the one. Besides, with the other kids on board, it's like havin' three kids of my own."

They couldn't deny that. Zoë agreed, "They are a handful when they're all together. But you're lucky. You got to feel that baby in you."

River nodded, and laid her hands low on her belly. "I want that. I want to know that I have made something good. I want something normal."

"You know…?" Inara mused. "Actually. Wait here."

The Companion, home for two weeks from the Training House on Paquin, reached behind one of the red curtains to a concealed shelf, and pulled out a leather bound itinerary. From inside, she pulled a business card, and came back to the low table. She handed River the card, and said, "This woman is a friend, and was a client of mine, once. Her name is Dr. Vivian Lay, and she specialized in infertility and reproductive therapy. Also, while she wasn't public in her sentiments, she was a supporter of the Independents in the war. One of her brother's died in the Battle of Santayana. I think she can help, and she will be discreet, given your special circumstances.."

River looked down at the business card, the entwined snake and staff symbol alternating with the face of woman in the first years of middle age in the left quarter and the contact information taking up the remainder. Her smile grew and grew, and her fingers tightened on the corner she held.

"Thank you."

That night, after Angel was asleep in her room, and Jayne sat on their bed to remove his boots, River knelt next to him and dangled the card in front of his face. He growled in surprise.

"What's 'at?"


He dropped his boot on the floor, and took the card. He gave it a quick look-over then handed it back. "We got a doctor here. Don't need to go see one."

"Dr. Lay is a specialist."

"Why?" Jayne frowned at her. His gaze traveled over her face. "You ain't sick or nothin'?"

"No." She shook her head, her mouth pursing in annoyance. River sat down and pointed to the card. "Look. She's a reproductive specialist. She helps couples who cannot have children the normal way get pregnant."

Jayne grunted, and went back to untying his other shoe without meeting her eye.

He felt yellow. River laid the hand with the card in her lap. She frowned, and reminded him, "You were the one who pointed out that it could be done if I wanted another child."

"I know."

"I want one. I want a child that will grow in me. I—"

"We ain't even been married a year yet, River. Don't'cha think we oughta give it a little more time?"

"Time for what?"

"Just…" he stood and paced to the door and back, "time, is all."

"Time for you to decide that you want to leave." It was her greatest fear, but she couldn't help voicing it.

"That ain't what I said."

"Then you don't want to have a child with me? You lied!"

Jayne huffed out a sigh. It wasn't that, exactly…he didn't know how to put it. "It's just that…things is crazy out here. We need you able to fight if things go bad. Cain't do that if'n you're pregnant."

"I can still shoot."

"That ain't the—" He checked his shout. He didn't want to wake up Angel. "That ain't the point."

"Then I do not see the relevance."

"The relevance is that this ain't the life to be bringin' another life into. Our jobs're dangerous. Ya never know who's gonna come back hurt or maimed or dead. There's lots that can go wrong."

"We raise our daughter in this environment every day."

"That's a'cause otherwise she would'a been left in that Academy."

River rolled to her knees on the bed and jabbed her finger at him. "You supported my keeping her! You wanted her to stay then, and now you're changing your vote?"

"Angel's different," Jayne insisted. "I still think she oughta be raised here, with her family, not in some creepy government school that was gonna hurt her, an' not with strangers. But that an' bringin' a life into this knowingly are different."


He ran a hand over his hair and realized with a shock he was actually shaking a bit. "It just is. Angel had to stay, 'cause she's kin, and she deserved to be raised by her own ma. But actually choosin' to…inflict us on a kid as parents ain't fair. I'm mean an' I shoot things for a livin'. An' you're crazy."

She was knocked back onto her haunches by his words. Her mouth opened in hurt, but she couldn't find a thing to rebut with.

"Now, don't look at me like I'm tellin' ya somethin' ya don't know," he said. "You're mostly better, an' with the Pax, you're lots better than ya were, but you ain't normal no more. You still got bad days. What happens if you get pregnant, an' you end up havin' a fit? Or if ya had to get doped? Or even afterward, what happens if you get bad again?"

"You think me capable of taking care of Angel though I am crazy, but you don't think that I could take care of a newborn? You think that even in my wildest frenzy I would hurt myself or my unborn child? You think I would throw every precautionary sentiment out the airlock in order to fulfill some selfish need to procreate?"

"I don't know what some'a that means," he said. "Stop usin' words I don't understand."

"Very well, let me put it in smaller words: you are a hypocrite, and you think that I am a senseless lunatic."

"I didn't say that," Jayne argued. "Stop puttin' words in my mouth. Just that you ain't all there all the time, an' I'm worried somethin'll happen an' you'll stop bein' all there any'a the time."

"Angel is almost four," River pointed out. "She is becoming more and more independent. If we have a baby, and I have a bad day, you will still only have one infant to have to care for alone—not that you will be alone. We have family that will help on those days, as have done, as they do now."

"That ain't the only reason." He crossed his arms. "Honey, maybe ya don't remember, but I'm almost forty. Don't think now's the time to bring another little'un into my life. Might not be there for it for long."

River slid her foot to the floor, and walked over to him. She laid her hand on his cheek. "Then at least you would have a part of you to live on. I would have part of you forever. I know that sounds selfish, but I want that."

"What about you, huh?" he demanded, leaning away from her hand. "What if you die, an' I'm left raisin' not one, but two kids. I'd screw 'em up, River. I couldn't do it on my own."

She wrapped her arms around his waist. "As I said, you would not be alone. Besides, bao bei…statistically speaking, you would probably be the one to die first. As you pointed out, you're nearly twenty years my senior, and also, I'm the better trained fighter—"

Jayne pulled away from her and moved to the other side of the room. "Hope that wasn' supposed to make me feel better, honey, 'cause I gotta tell ya, ya failed."

"I'm sorry, but I do not understand why you would give me hope that we could have a child some day, and then not want to have that child with me." She rubbed her arm and looked away from him. "I accept that you have valid points, but I do not believe that they are insurmountable obstacles that we face."

She looked so betrayed. Jayne could see tears filling her eyes. Her mouth parted as if she wanted to say something but didn't know what. The anger drained out of him and left Jayne tired. It was a consensus that this wasn't how this discussion was meant to go.

"You really want a baby so bad?" he asked.

River nodded. "I do."

Jayne ran a hand over his hair, down to the nape of his neck. He knew what he said wasn't wrong. Bad things could, and would happen. One of them could die, she could go crazy—hell, them Academy folks could find out and try to take both Angel and the other kid back. Besides, he hadn't planned on being a father, ever. He always tried to make sure it didn't happen when he was with a woman before River. He wore condoms when he wasn't too drunk, and if he still wasn't sure, he pulled out. But for some reason, River wanted a baby, and he needed time to talk her out of it. "Lemme think on it."

River ran to him, threw her arms around his neck, and proceeded to pepper his face with kisses. "I love you, I love you, I love you!"

He let her kiss on him, but he didn't respond. "Yeah, yeah. Let's just get to sleep. We got a job tomorrow. Don't wanna be fallin' asleep while we got folks tryin' ta shoot us."

She hopped in bed, and snuggled beneath the blankets to wait for Jayne to finish getting undressed. As soon as he laid down, River wrapped an arm across his chest and pressed a hard kiss onto his jaw. She could feel his reluctance, his stubborn fear, and the yellow worry that coated him. River held him tighter, determined that her love for him, and his desire to make her happy would win in the end, and he would submit to having a child.

Jayne grunted. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, like every night, but didn't kiss the crown of her head. He pulled the blanket over him and settled in for sleep that didn't come.


River WAVED Dr. Lay a few days later. Jayne still hadn't given her an answer, but she knew that he would agree to the baby eventually. It didn't hurt to get the paperwork started. Luck was on her side—as well as a follow up message from Inara—and she managed to get an appointment for later that month. One of the couples Dr. Lay was seeing finally conceived and so they dropped their appointment.

It took every ounce of persuasion River had in her to get Jayne to grudgingly agree. She pointed out that this was only preliminary, and that it usually took months or even years to get a second appointment, and longer still to have the implantation procedure done. Once her husband agreed, she still had to persuade her Captain to stop on Aten, one of Osiris's moons where Dr. Lay was based.

After an hour stuck in the waiting room, they were both subjected to a series of tests, most of which gave Jayne a super-powered, Kryptonite-proof uncomfortableness. Dr. Lay was informed of the peculiarity of this case, and River gladly signed over the eggs the Academy had harvested and Simon had kept frozen on Serenity. Two agonizing hours later, Dr. Lay told them the test results should be back in about a week, and not to worry, a mutual friend had agreed to foot the first bill.

Jayne was morose and silent the rest of the day. He refused to speak to River, and he barely said a word to Angel. He hid in his old bunk and cleaned his guns. River knew he hadn't liked all the medical poking and prodding, or whatever it was they did to him, any more than she did, and she nearly had a panic attack when she had to change into a hospital gown. And she felt the sticky, green and orange miasma of anger and shame at not having the coin to pay for the visit himself, but it wasn't feasible for them to pay for everything. Even with what they saved from every job, they didn't have enough to cover Dr. Lay's fee. He would get over it eventually. They would have a baby.

Dr. Lay contacted them in early January and told them, if they were prepared, that she found a way to squeeze them in within the next two months for final procedures since they already had harvested ovum to work from. Jayne barely had a chance to point out that this was all happening awfully fast before they were back on Aten.

"We've selected two embryos since you don't have a preference on the sex of your baby," Dr. Lay informed them. "One zygote is double X, and the other is XY. River will be implanted with each. Usually only one takes hold and develops into a fetus, so you have a fifty-fifty chance."

"What if neither of them do?" River asked.

"What if both of 'em do?" Jayne countered.

"If neither of them do, you get a free second try," the doctor answered with a confident smirk. "Trust me, this isn't like the early days of this technology when you had maybe a one in five chance. As long as River has been taking her hormone shots—" she waited until River nodded "—I can almost guarantee you that one of these will take. And if they both take then count yourselves lucky. You get two for the price of one."

On the way back to the ship, River walked as if she was made of glass and every step was a possibility for her to crash into a thousand shards. She went straight to bed, and stayed there for six days.

Two point five weeks later….

River tapped her foot as she waited outside the bathroom door. She had missed her period. Of course that wasn't unusual. Her monthly cycle was always a little erratic. Kaylee pointed out that having a baby was supposed to help with that. If she was pregnant….

She fiddled with the test in her hands as she waited for her sister-in-law to get out. Since she was supposed to use her first morning's urine, River held it until almost noon to make sure she got a really strong sample. She was going to kill Kaylee if she didn't hurry up!

Just as she was about to beat down the door, Kaylee came out zipping her coveralls up. She looked up to see River and jumped out of the way. River shoved passed her into the head, and locked the door behind her. She took all of five seconds to ready the test, and finally relieved herself.

Outside, Kaylee ran into the infirmary, shone a grin on Simon and Annabelle, and pressed the intercom. "River's takin' her pregnancy test! Get down to the lower lounge if ya want to hear the results!"

Jayne came down from the bay, and stood at one side of the room, his arms crossed over his chest as he stared at the floor. Zoë led Angel and Dewey down from the kitchen where school was in session, and sat on the stairs. Dewey stayed in the bay to enjoy his surprise break while Angel went to jump on the couch next to the bathroom door. Simon stood next to Kaylee with Annabelle in his arms.

Inara and Mal were the last ones down.

The Companion had just asked, "Has she—" when River flung open the door. She was beaming, and there seemed to be a glow around her. She ran across the room and threw her arms around Jayne's neck.

"We're having a baby!"

Kaylee squealed in delight and bounced forward to be the next to hug River. Inara gave the girl a hug, as well, while Mal muttered about his rules constantly being broken, and why didn't anyone ever listen to him?

Zoë stayed on the stairs. She looked down at the hands folded, hanging between her knees and tried to focus past the sudden blurriness. She was genuinely happy for River. But to see her young friend get to experience what they had before shared a common lack of….It stung.

Simon wasn't celebrating, either, though for different reasons. He had charge of the long term health of his sister, and he had been as big a proponent as Jayne in slowing down River's headlong race toward pregnancy. He didn't know what the effects of the Pax would be on a fetus. While he was fairly sure that at this stage in the depressant's potency it wouldn't effect the development, but River was nearly halfway through her current Pax cycle. She would only be four months pregnant by the time she needed another dose. He knew he couldn't give her most of the antipsychotics that he had her on before Miranda while she was pregnant. It put him in the terrible position of having to decide between the welfare of River's unborn child, or his sister's mental state.

Jayne didn't say a word. He stared down at the ground and tried to keep his breakfast down because it was churning about in his stomach at the moment. He let River go hug Angel and inform her of her impending jair-jair status. They soon went off with Kaylee, Annabelle and Inara to celebrate, and Jayne sank onto the couch letting his head fall back. He didn't notice that Simon stayed in the room with him.

"I take it you're as concerned about this as I am?" the Doctor asked.

Jayne ran a hand over his face and looked at him. "I tried t'talk her out of it. I did."

Simon leaned back against the doorway of the infirmary and crossed his arms. "I'm sure you did. But, I don't know if you've noticed, River always manages to get what she wants. Always has."

"Did manage to pick up on that, yeah." He pushed himself to his feet suddenly feeling too old for all this shit. "I'm gonna go…some'a them crates need tiein' down. Was a little shaky on takeoff."

Simon watched him go up to the cargo bay, and shook his head. His sister had done it again: she pushed so hard for what she wanted she didn't stop to think about what others wanted. He hoped River could make this right, or Jayne would end up having this child grudgingly. An unwanted child was never loved quite as much. River knew that first hand.

Angel giggled as she hugged her Daddy goodnight. She settled back when he pulled away, and smirked at him. "Toldja."

"This gonna be a habit'a your'n?" he asked the girl.

She shrugged then reached out for her favorite doll, the one Daddy gave her at her parents' wedding when he officially adopted her. "Sarah-doll?"

Jayne fished around under her pillows and blankets to find the porcelain-headed, frilly dressed doll, and tucked it in with the girl. She accepted it with a smile, her eyes blinking shut. Jayne rubbed his thumb over her cheek. "Hey, Little Bit?"

"Mmm, Daddy?"

"Ain't you a little worried about the baby? We won't be able t'pay as much attention to ya, you know."

She shook her head with her eyes closed, and yawned. "Don't worry so much. Gonna get ulcers, like Cap'um."

"Cap's got ulcers?" Jayne asked in surprise. "How you know that? You read his mind, like Mommy does?"

Angel opened one eye and gave him a 'you're so dumb' look. "No. Heard Uncle Simon warn him."

"Oh." He looked off at the wall above her head in thought for a minute. Jayne huffed, bent down and kissed Angel's forehead, and stood. "Night, Bits."

"Night, Daddy."

There was a rustle at the door, and Jayne turned to find River holding her sketchbook, her daylong smile still in place. "Just got finished putting the ship down for the night. And I see you just got done putting the girl down."

Angel giggled and turned to look around her Daddy's side. River came into the room, and sat down on the edge of her daughter's bed. Jayne backed up, and let his two girls say good night.

"I'll be across the hall."

River smiled over her shoulder at him, and nodded. Jayne left them to each other, and went across the hall. He sat down on the bed, but couldn't bring himself to get undressed. He couldn't even untie his boots. He sat on the bed with his hands between his knees until he heard River close the door to Angel's room, and come into theirs. The soft shushing of their screen sliding closed finally made him look up.

"Angel was nearly asleep when I left. She should be entering the first stage of sleep shortly." River, still grinning, tossed her sketchpad on the fold-out desk across the room, and started undressing. "Which means we can celebrate. Oh! We need to write your mother! She will be so excited to hear of her impending grandchild. I started drawing several possible combinations of features to determine what he or she will look like. Or they. After all, it's quite possible that both—"

"Stop! Just stop it!"

River jumped. She turned to face him, her fingers hooked under the band of her skirt, eyes wide. She watched Jayne surge to his feet and come to loom over her. He hadn't used his greater size for intimidation purposes since they said their vows. She didn't understand why he did so now.

"The only reason I agreed to seein' Dr. Lay in the first place was 'cause you said it took months or years t'get pregnant, an' I figured I had time t'talk ya out of it. I didn' want this, so stop actin' like I'm as happy as you are."

River stared up at his angry, trapped eyes, and opened her mouth, but could find nothing to say. She felt hot tears well up. Jayne saw, clenched his teeth, and looked away. He went and opened the door, and the first thick drops rolled out of her eyes. "Where are you going?"

"Gonna go lift, er move shit around the cargo bay for a while," he said as he stepped over the divide.

"Are you going to come in to bed later?"

He stopped with his hand on the latch, and shrugged. "Don't know." And then he slid the door shut.

River reached out for him, but his footsteps were already moving off down the hall. She let her hand fall back to her side, and just stood there for long minuets not knowing what to do. She had been so sure that Jayne would be as happy as she was. She'd felt his distance all day, but had chalked it up to him not wanting to interfere in the hen party that was going on to celebrate.

Realizing how cold she was in just her bra and skirt, River found a way to perform the nightly ritual of getting undressed, pulling on her nightshirt—one of Jayne's old T-shirts—and sliding between the covers. She huddled against the wall, the comforter pulled around her shoulder, and waited for Jayne to come back. She started rocking around midnight. The real crying started around tree when she realized she couldn't hear him in the bay anymore and he must have got up to his old bunk, which he kept only for weapons since moving to the passenger dorms.

Well used to her mother's schedule, Angel clamored into the room at seven'o'clock, and climbed onto the bed. "Morning, Mommy!"

River didn't answer right away. Her eyes were red rimmed and puffy from tears and lack of sleep. When she greeted her daughter, her voice was rough and parched.

Angel frowned and tipped her head to the side. "Where's Daddy?"

River shrugged.

The little girl squirmed on the blankets. Finally, she decided to slide off the bed. "Gonna get Uncle Simon."

River shook her head, and reached for Angel's arm to stop her. "No, baby. It's not a sleep day. I'm okay. Help Mommy pick out something to wear?"

She nodded, and they bent to pull the drawers out from beneath the bed. Angel picked out one of River's baggiest dresses under the impression that Mommy's tummy should have blown up like a balloon overnight. Since it hadn't, surely it would happen today at some point. River put the russet dress on, and pulled her white sweater over it. The red color was fitting, she felt.

River let her up the stairs to the kitchen where Dewey sat at the table with his cereal and his spelling words, studying for a test. Zoë and Inara sat with their breakfast drinks of choice—coffee and Darjeeling tea—while Mal fiddled with some sort of warm cereal on the stove. Angel climbed into the seat next to Dewey and craned her neck to look at his spelling list. After a minute, she got bored and looked up at the Captain.

"Gonna burn it," she warned.

Mal smiled over at her. "Not a bit, little one. Just lemme concentrate."

Angel shrugged and turned back to the spelling words. She pointed to one, and Dewey pulled the list away from her. There was a brief squabble while River fixed Angel a bowl of her own cereal, and Mal proceeded to burn the oatmeal. She set her daughter's breakfast before her, and headed up to the bridge without a word to anyone.

Zoë frowned after her, and exchanged a look with Inara. The Companion nodded. That was odd, especially after River's exuberance yesterday.

"First bout of morning sickness?" Inara guessed.

"So soon?" Zoë shook her head.

A few moments later, Jayne climbed out of his old bunk, halting the adult conversation at the table. Mal set his spoon into the bowl of lumpy gruel. "Uh, Jayne? Why the hell ya comin' from that direction? River have a mood swing and kick ya out?"

The mercenary glared at him, and headed for the coffee pot. He was still dressed in the clothes from yesterday, and looked like he got about as much sleep as River did. Angel ceased tormenting Dewey about his spelling and frowned at her Daddy as he sat down across from her at the table.

After breakfast, Mal went to see to the bridge to check in with their buyer for the leather they had in their bay. Inara went to her and Mal's shuttle to clean a bit since Mal tended to leave at least one shirt within easy reach when he went to bed, and then forgot them. Now alone with only the two kids in the room, Zoë watched Jayne glare into his coffee. He felt her stare and looked up.


"Speaking as the voice of experience, one of you is gonna have to bend. It won't end any other way, situations like this. I suggest talkin' to her before lunch to keep things from gettin' worse."

Jayne's frown actually deepened. He opened his mouth to retort when the family Tam finally presented themselves to breakfast. The last thing he wanted to was to air his and River's dirty laundry in front of her brother who still thought he wasn't good enough for River. He rubbed a hand over his tired face, and ignored the first mate for all appearances.

All of a sudden, Jayne felt a tugging on his arm, and looked down. Angel stood at his side and pulled on him to get his attention. She urged him up out of his seat, turned him to the door up to the bridge, and pushed with all her little might. "Uh, Bits? What're ya doin'?"

Simon and Kaylee watched in amused puzzlement, and Zoë shook her head at the girl's ability to understand far beyond her years.

"You made Mommy cry!" Angel accused. "Go fix it!"

Jayne couldn't have felt worse at that point than if he'd been gut shot. It was bad enough he yelled at River and left last night, but Angel knowing about it made the whole situation more fragile. He just knew he was going to do something to smash it completely. He stumbled a few steps forward because Angel really could push when she wanted to, and then turned to look down at the girl.

"Alright, I'm goin'. You go finish your breakfast, or somethin'."

Angel kept glaring at him for another minute before she nodded decisively and crawled under the table back to her seat. Jayne muttered at the River-like action, and proceeded up the stairs, avoiding Zoë's eyes as he went.

Jayne found River in the copilot's chair while Mal chatted with the buyers in his superior, "I do the job, I get paid" way he had. Jayne hovered at the door, and waited until the Captain finished his WAVE. Mal signed off after a few moments, and looked between the two.

"Right. Can see you two have married people things to discuss. I'll leave ya to that," he said, and escaped back down to the galley.

Jayne shut the door after him. He didn't know if there would be more yelling, but in case there was, he didn't want Angel or the rest of the crew to hear it. After they were alone, however, Jayne couldn't think of anything to say. He started at River's voice.

"Good morning."

"Mornin'," he mumbled, and leaned back against the doorframe. He crossed his arms, damned if he was going to be the first one to talk. This was all her fault, and while he was sorry he'd made her cry, he wasn't ready to make nice, either.

River swallowed past the knot in her throat, and pushed onward past Jayne's dark blue, blotchy punches of resentment. "You didn't come to bed last night."

"Yeah. Went down to clean some of my guns. Fell asleep down there." That was a lie. He hadn't slept at all, but he hoped she wouldn't pick up on that, or if she did, she wouldn't call him on it.

She looked over her shoulder at him, noted the dark rings under his eyes and the slouch in his stance, but she turned around without saying anything. "You're absence gave me time to think. I would like to apologize. I should have gotten your full opinion before rushing through the process of envitro."

He figured she meant the getting pregnant, so he nodded. "Yeah, you shoulda."

She winced. "Said I was sorry. No need to rub it in." She swallowed again, and looked down at her hands folded in her lap. "I just wanted to have something good to come from me. I wanted a bit of normalcy. I want—" Her voice hitched, and she shook her head to try and make it go away before she went on softly. Jayne had to lean forward to hear. "I worried that you would realize one day you didn't want me, not forever. So I thought if there was something that would tie you to me, you couldn't leave. If we had a child together, you wouldn't leave…but it was the baby that drove you away. I am aware of the irony, and I am prepared to rectify my mistake."

"Now, wait. Huh?" Jayne shook his head.

"Angel is our child. She is more than enough gift for a lifetime. More are not needed, and it was selfish of me to impose my desire for another on you. It's only a handful of stem cells at this point. It will be for the best."

"What's for the best?" He went to stand next to the copilot's console, and made her look up to face him. "If you're talkin' about what I think you're talkin' about, then no. Abso-ruttin'-lutely not, we ain't doin' that."

"You don't want this. I don't want to lose you. I would rather have you and no baby than a baby and no you."

"Now, wait a minute! Just cuz I don't want the kid doesn't mean I want you gettin' rid of it, neither. For one, we spent a good amount a'money gettin' ya knocked up in the first place, an' for another, you ain't gonna lose me. Sure as hell, you ain't losin' me over this. Sure, I'm pissed. This ain't somethin' I ever wanted, but we're here. That's my baby growin' in you. You ain't gettin' rid of it."

River shook her head. "A child who is unwanted always knows it. Don't want my baby to grow up knowing its father would rather it not be here. Better to be rid of it now."

"Not gonna happen." Jayne grabbed her by the arm, and pulled her up so he could slide into the seat under her. He tugged on her arm again until she sat on his lap, and locked his arms around her. "Look, you are not gettin' rid of this baby. I went along with the whole process instead'a talkin' ya out of it, so I guess I might have some blame, too. We got nine months for me to get used to this. Just lemme get used to it. Don't go changin' things on me so fast."

River eyed him uncertainly. Jayne rubbed a hand up and down her arm, and leaned back in the seat. He sighed. "Who knows? My Ma always said it was the things ya think are the end of the 'Verse that end up bein' the best things in the world. Maybe this'll be one'a those."

"And if it's not?"

He clenched his teeth. "Then I promise, the kid'll never know the difference."