**Part Six**

Word Count: 1,479
This is for the LJ community 50_baby_fics Prompt #14-Maternity


They'd found a dress. More than one actually, but she was wearing one. Kaylee gushed over it. River wasn't sure she liked maternity clothes. At least the dresses she wore up until now were too big for her weren't supposed to fit her. She'd taken whatever she could after Simon had rescued her.

The saleswoman had indicated she would get even larger over the last couple of months and Simon had agreed. She hadn't thought that was possible. For as tiny as she was, and she knew that's what she was, she didn't expect to get so big. So, she'd caved and bought a couple of things.

"Going to pay him back," she said as Simon handed over more of Mal's money to the storekeeper.

"He doesn't want you to pay him back, mei-mei. If he didn't want you to have a new dress or two he wouldn't have suggested it."

She nibbled on her lower lip, glancing at the dress she now wore. It was, as much as she hated to admit it, a nice dress. It fit her nicely and it was flattering to her hair and complexion. Her first thought was that it flattered her, but that felt like a weird thing to think. She wasn't sure there was much that could flatter her figure right now. No one thought she looked hideous though. She checked the crew's thoughts occasionally to be sure.

She had gone over kissing Mal in the middle of town at least a dozen times since he'd gone his own way. He probably couldn't wait to get away from her. Telling her he wouldn't mind it happening again was a way for him to let her down easy without being insulting. He wouldn't mind, but it wasn't going to happen again is what he'd really been saying. Except, she wanted it to happen again.

"He said one dress, Simon."

"It's not like we bought a dozen, River. I don't think he'll say anything, mei-mei, especially if he keeps taking you out on," Simon cleared his throat gently, "the town." Jobs. "He'd want you to look your best, which reflects on him after all."


She got what he meant. And, yes, when he'd brought her along, it had been as his wife. Her being pregnant only served to endear Mal to them a little more. And no one suspected his pregnant wife was a reader. It worked well, but if she looked like a slob or like she and Mal couldn't afford clothes for her, people would hesitate to hire him. Them.

"I know."

"And, besides, if you have another then you won't have to worry about it."

She stared at him for a minute. Another what? She almost asked it out loud, was glad she didn't because she realized as soon as the question had passed through her mind what he meant. Another baby. Oh God, was he expecting her to have more? She supposed it was the natural course of things going under the assumption they were really married and all.

"I guess you're right."

"Don't forget about clothes for after the baby," the storekeeper added as she handed River the two additional dresses they'd bought in addition to the one she wore. This one was her favorite, which was why she'd kept it on.

"After the baby?" Did that mean she wouldn't get to wear normal clothes again? She had a lot of questions to ask Simon. She was glad he was talking to her again, it didn't make it so uncomfortable to admit she was clueless about this type of thing.

"Well, yes, if you're nursing you'll need clothing designed with that in mind."

"I, um, Simon?"

"This is her first baby," Simon seemed to say as way of explaining River's clueless behavior. "I don't think her doctor has gone over those options with her yet."

"Oh," the storekeeper said, seeming to get a little tightlipped then. "Well, keep it in mind. We have some things here and could always order more."

"Thank you," River said.

"That's very kind of you. We'll keep it in mind," Simon added, encouraging River out the door.

"I'll be right out guys," Kaylee said. "Go on, I'll meet you back at the other store."

"Are you sure?" Simon asked.

"I'll be only a minute or two. Positive."

"All right," Simon said, regarding the town once they were outside. "I'm not sure we can shop for or buy anymore stuff today, mei-mei. You bought just about everything I can think of that a baby's room would need. And then some."

"Was it too much?"

"No, of course not. I was just surprised they had so much honestly."

"You really have to get over that."

"Get over what?"

"The cultured attitude that nowhere but home has anything to offer. We don't live there anymore, you know?"

"I'm well aware of that, mei-mei."

"Just reminding you."

"And I appreciate it."

"Now, am I going to nurse?"

"I don't know. Not only is that a decision you have to make, and Mal I suppose. Some fathers don't like it I've heard, though I don't understand why. It's natural, the way God intended things to be. But you may not be able to either."

"What do you mean?"

They began walking in the direction of the store they'd first stopped at. "Well, this isn't my specialty, but I've been researching it a bit the past month or so. I'm not sure they understand why some women are unable. And, some women don't like it." He looked at her then and she saw he was blushing. She wondered what that was about. "You do know what nursing is, don't you?" Ah, she realized that was what the blush was for.

She rolled her eyes. "Yes, Simon, I know what it is."

"Just making sure. So, you'll have to wait and see I guess. There's no sense buying the tops she was talking about until you know for sure."

"You don't think we bought too much. What if I don't get pregnant again? We spent that money for a month or so of use?"

"Well, you need clothes, mei-mei, and Mal said he wanted you to buy something. So, obviously he agrees. And, maybe we can figure out something to do with them if you don't get pregnant again. You're so young yet, River, you have plenty of years to have more though."

"Thanks," she said, mentally grimacing.

The grimace turned into a mental picture she didn't mind so much. A baby made the right way, with Mal, giving him a son that was really his. She pushed the thoughts aside. They'd never come true. She still wasn't sure what he planned on doing after the baby came. Was he going to tell the crew the truth then? They'd be pretty upset at being lied to the past couple of months.

And really, they'd still be a danger if they knew then. So, they couldn't know the truth. Ever. That meant if they ended the marriage, no one would know what really happened and they'd think he was a monster of some kind. That didn't sit well with her at all.

"What are you thinking?"

"Nothing. Just wondering what he looks like."

"Hopefully, he'll be as pretty as you, but not quite as smart."

"Not quite as smart, huh?"

"No, the world can only handle one River at a time I think."

"I guess you're right."

"Well, we're here. I guess all we can do now is wait for Kaylee and Mal. We left Kaylee in a store, I'm not sure who will show up first."

"I don't think I saw much in there she'd be interested in."

"Normally, I'd agree, but you never know with her."

River giggled a little. "Simon be nice."

"I am being nice."

"She's coming this way, too."

"Oh, she is," Simon said, turning around to look in the direction they'd come from. "Well, good, then we just wait for the captain."


"Mal. Sorry, I'm trying, mei-mei."

"I know."

"Hi! Sorry I just saw something I couldn't resist." Kaylee held out a smaller sack then the one River held containing her dresses. "Mind if I put this with your stuff, Riv?"

"No," she said with a shrug.

"Good, cuz it's kind of for you anyway."

"For me?"

"Yeah, call it a hunch. Or an early. Or late birthday present."

"Thank you, Kaylee."

"You ain't seen it yet, you may not thank me when you do, but you're welcome." Kaylee smiled widely then. It was difficult to resist the temptation to read her thoughts and find out what it was right away. She held out, though, deciding just once it might be fun to be surprised. "I hope the captain likes it, too," she whispered while sliding the smaller bag into River's wider one.

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