**Part Ten**

Word Count: 1,546
This is for the LJ community 50_baby_fics Prompt #18-Anticipation

NOTE: If you're familiar with Evita, please pardon my twist on the Rainbow High dressers/chorus lyrics. I just couldn't resist.

River found Kaylee in her bunk. It was strange to think she didn't have to walk the entire length of the ship to get here anymore. Not that she minded the walking.

"Hey, River, whatcha need?"

"Would you help me?"

"Help you? With what? Is something wrong? Is it the baby? You need me to get Simon or Mal?"

"No, nothing's wrong, and I'll need you to get Mal for me later. After you've helped me."

"All right," Kaylee said, clearly confused. She followed River into her bunk, though without question.

"Now, I don't know how to go about doing this…" River explained, knowing if there was anyone on Serenity who River could get to help her with this and trust enough not to blab to the whole ship that River didn't have a clue as to how to go about seducing her own husband. Well, it was Kaylee. She spoke her mind, like earlier that morning about the nightie she'd bought and other things, but she knew how to keep a secret, too.

"You mean, you ain't never instigated nothing with him?"

River blushed. "No."

"Well, sweetie, that's the best part. Nothing like knocking a man used to all that control on their ass for a little while. And Mal, I mean the captain's, all about control."

"You can call him Mal, Kaylee, I'm not going to get upset."

"Okay, good. Now, first things first…"


It seemed like everywhere he turned he was bumping into River today. He expected some sort of a tongue-lashing or the cold shoulder because of the conversation she'd overheard with Inara. He hadn't known she was there until it was too late. He'd gone over the conversation in his mind, thought he'd answered in all the right ways. One never knew when dealing with a woman.

Instead of being mad, though, she seemed to be just the opposite. She'd stop and kiss him or brush a hand over his shoulder or back if he was in the midst of something he couldn't break from for a kiss. The kiss would have been preferable. She had the sweetest lips. He was crazy for thinking about that, about them. Lips. They were just lips.

He honestly couldn't remember the last time he'd stayed up all night, okay most of the night they did break once in a while for brief cat naps. And all they'd done is kiss. A little touching, but he'd held back from crossing that line again. He wasn't so sure passing out was good for her or the baby. All he knew, she was lucky he was a patient and understanding man.

"Earth to Mal."

"I'm here, Wash. What is it?"

"I said I was sorry if I really pissed you off this morning."

"Nah, don't worry about it. She's just still kind of delicate and we're kind of a rough bunch."

"Well, it would appear she'd best get used to that."

"Yeah, you're right. She will. Doesn't mean she needs to worry about the menfolk barging into our bunk like they own the place. I don't go barging in on you and Zoe."

"No, you just page us."

Mal shrugged. "You'd rather the other?"

"No, no. So, Badger, huh?" Wash seemed to realize a change in subject was in order.


"You trust him?"

"As far as I can throw him, which ain't far. We need the job, and he's willing to pay and keep us where I want to be. Going near Osiris is too risky at this point. If something were to happen, someone might recognize her."

Wash's eyes widened, Mal realized that like Inara Wash hadn't realized Mal's reasoning for staying in this general area. There were always jobs if someone looked hard enough.

"So, we head to Bernadette, pick up the crates in question and head to Persephone."

"That's too easy."

"I wager it won't be that easy. Nothing with Badger ever is. I just can't bring myself not to do business with him anymore."

"Why don't you sound happier about making money?"

"I think I'm going to have to include River in the plan."

"Ah," Wash said simply. "Need a reader?"

"And someone they won't suspect of being able to hit a target without looking."

"She's your girl then."

"Yeah, she is," Mal said, a note of pride in his voice. He'd been more than surprised to find out what River had done, check that - could do, and with such accuracy. He hadn't believed her at first, of course. Until he'd taken her out for target practice. She hadn't missed once, rarely straying from the dead-on point.

He hated using her, especially now, but didn't see that he had much choice. Jayne would be too obvious, and he really needed the reading aspect in conjunction with the weapon holder. Even a one second delay could prove too long. He'd been burned one too many times by Badger.

"Can I just say I'm glad I'm not the only married one onboard anymore?"

"Didn't realize it was such a hardship."

"It's not that. It's just you all never seemed to understand why it bothered me to see Zoe walking off that ramp. Now, finally, someone else will get it." Mal heard footsteps approaching the bridge. "Forget I said anything," Wash said, seeming to notice Kaylee's entrance into the bridge as Mal had.

"All right, easy enough." What Wash had said sat with Mal, though. He hadn't much thought about it, because he'd never before in his life had someone to care about. Nothing but this ship and his crew, but they were all capable of looking after themselves. River was, too, of course, but he had an emotional investment in her now that was different then the others. And, yeah, he hated every minute of her being on a job.

"Howdy, Captain. Wash."

"Kaylee. What brings you to our neck of the ship? Something wrong down there?" Mal asked, taking one last glance at the intel Badger had sent through.

"No, innards are running just fine."

"You smell nice, Kaylee," Wash said.

"I do? Well, thank you, Wash. I don't know why," she seemed to enjoy the compliment nonetheless. "Cap'n, came to tell you River was looking for you."

"She what? Is she all right?"

"Yeah, she's just fine."

"She's fine, but sent you to fetch me?"

Kaylee seemed to ponder that for a minute and then nodded. "Yep, that's exactly how it is."

"The baby's all right?"

"Baby's just fine, too, Cap'n."

"All right, Kaylee, thanks for telling me."

Kaylee's eyes darted from Mal to Wash and back to Mal. "You ain't gonna go see what she wants?"

"I was just looking over these things from Badger."

"Can't you do that from your quarters, Cap'n?"

"I suppose I can, but I'm almost done."

"You're not going to come to any decisions tonight, Mal, go," Wash said. Mal looked between Wash and Kaylee, wondering what in the blazes he was missing.

"Something you ain't telling me you two?"

"Me?" Wash asked. "I've been sitting here with you most of the evening. What would I know?"

"All right. Suppose you're both right. It'll all be here in the morning." He glanced at the clock, not realizing just how late it had gotten to be.

"Good night, Cap'n," Kaylee called after him, sounding entirely too proud of herself. He had to admit, returning to his bunk didn't sound nearly so bad. Particularly if River was looking for him and nothing bad was going on with her.


River normally had a good memory, but for the life of her, she was having trouble remembering everything Kaylee had told her.

Certainly by now Kaylee should have made it to the bridge and told Mal she was looking for him. And River didn't think the other woman would let him dismiss her and go back to whatever it was he was doing.

She knew that a job was heavy on his mind, a job that she caught glimpses of involving her. She'd done her best to stay away yet not completely out of the way today. She had things on her mind, things to try and figure out. She was sure he would have seen it in her eyes if she'd let him.

Why she hadn't thought of Kaylee sooner, she'd never know. The logical choice obviously would have been Inara, but that just wasn't going to happen. So, she'd gone to Kaylee who had experience with men. And maybe her experience was more inline with what River needed pointers from anyway.

She twisted the ring on her finger, glancing at her nails. They were now a bright red color, as were her toes. She'd been able to do her fingernails herself, but Kaylee had insisted. The toenails were another matter altogether. She couldn't have done those herself right now no matter if she wanted to or not.

Eyes. Hair. Mouth. Dress. Hands. Feet. Glamour. Face. Excitement.

From head to toe she was dazzling. Or at least Kaylee had said so. Kaylee had helped her set the stage and now River was left alone to anticipate just what Mal's reaction was going to be to the setting and the direction she was hoping the action would take.

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