**Part Twelve**

Word Count: 1,714
This is for the LJ community 50_baby_fics Prompt #45-Doctor

"Simon," Mal said once he'd found him playing chess with Inara. Now there was an interesting thought. He'd often wondered once Simon settled to the fact Serenity was not just a temporary home if perhaps the companion and the doctor might get along. They certainly had enough in common. He knew Kaylee was sweet on the Doctor, but it wasn't as if he thought that Inara and Simon would do anything beyond be friendly with one another. Like play chess and discuss the finer things in life, that no one else on Serenity seemed to know or care much about.


"Mind if I interrupt you for a minute?"

"No, it's Inara's turn anyway."

"Was hoping you could help me find some of those books you've been reading on River's condition."

"Her condition?"

"Yeah, well, you know, her being pregnant and all. Maybe one that I can understand."

"Is there something wrong?"

"Well, no, not exactly," he said, clearing his throat, hoping Simon would follow as Mal walked out of Inara's earshot.

"Then why do you need books?"

"I need to look something up is all."

"Why don't you just tell me and I can probably answer for you?"

"Well, can I ask you as a doctor and not her brother?"


"Can you set aside the fact this is your sister we're talking about and answer my question truthfully as a medical professional?"

"Mal, of course I'm not going to risk her health."

"No, she's fine, I assure you. It's just that."

Mal closed his mouth. Simon clearly didn't believe him. Damn this was all types of embarrassing. What man in his right mind complained about such a thing? Him was who. And he really wasn't complaining, more just double checking. Nary had a night gone by the past month that a repeat of their first night together intimate-like hadn't been repeated. There were a few times during the day, too, more than a few now that he thought about it. And the morning. And when it wasn't being recreated he was discovering there were many ways to please a frisky woman. Even more ways for said woman to drop hints that such was her condition. She wasn't afraid to drop them neither. And she got off so easy most times that it hardly took him any time at all when all she wanted was a quick fix.

He was aware that perhaps they were at differing ends of their sexual peaks. He tried to take that into account and while he wasn't decrepit, his days of going round the clock were in the past. Or so he'd thought. At least she didn't seem to take it personal and seemed to enjoy his solutions those few times he'd just had to say enough.

"I really just want a book with some information about the appetites that come with pregnancy."

"I thought she was eating better now that we've been stocking up on fruit and vegetables. All of her tests come back fine and I was going to do an ultrasound in another week or so to see if she's still on track."

"Not those appetites," Mal hissed with a roll of his eyes. "Lord, for an educated man you sure need me to spell things out for you."

"Oh," Simon said, his eyes widening.

"There ya go," Mal said, realizing the good doctor slash his brother-in-law was catching on.

"A decreased libido is to be expected, especially this late in the pregnancy, Mal. She could give birth pretty safely any time now. A few more weeks would be ideal, but the baby would survive just fine now. Just think of it as preparation for the abstaining you'll have to do after the baby comes."

Well, now that he didn't know. He wondered if the little nympho of a woman who'd taken over River's body was aware of that.

"I'm sorry, did you say abstinence? As in a period we can't?"

"Yes, she'll need to heal. Perhaps this is just her subconscious way of getting you used to that fact."

"I'm sorry? What? Say that in regular people English speak please?"

He rolled his eyes.

"It's nothing personal, Mal. It's natural. She probably feels unattractive and clumsy. She's probably sore, breasts tender, positions are perhaps more limited now. Her body might be producing some colostrum already and she might think that will bother you."

He had no idea what Simon just said was. He'd have to look that up himself later. He already felt like a giant idiot talking to him about this to begin with. "No, no, you're misunderstanding." He raked his hand through his hair, shoving the hand in his pocket once he'd finished. "Look. Would you just find me a book? I mean, there's got to be a book out there with questions and answers about normal things not problems. I'll look it up myself."

"Well, now you have me curious."

"She'd all kinds of kill me if she thought I was talking to you about this."

"Mal, I'm a doctor, I can't help her or you if you can't tell me what's wrong."

"Oh good heavens," Inara said from behind them. Mal wondered if Simon, too, had forgotten she was there. "If you're going to try and keep me from being privy to the conversation at least have the courtesy to leave the room. I can hear you both. I'm right here and you stopped whispering almost right away. I believe, Simon, in addition to it being your move that is. That what Mal is implying is that his wife's sexual appetites have increased not decreased."

"Yeah," he nodded simply. Glad someone else had said it instead of him. "What she said."

"And this is a problem?"

"Well, no, of course it isn't. Just don't get much sleep some nights. Most nights. Every night. I just wondered if it was normal that's all. Healthy. I mean we won't hurt the baby none or anything right?"

"I'd say it's a little late to be worrying about hurting the baby if that was really your concern. I told you both right away that it wasn't a problem barring complications. And she's had none. She's healthy, her labs continue to come back good. She's had no Braxton Hicks contractions. So, you can remain active in that capacity until she delivers."

"Well now, that's a frightening thought, Doc."

"I meant goes into labor."

"So, it's normal?"

"It's not abnormal. This isn't my specialty, and I admit the books and articles I've been studying have been on the life and death issues I might have to contend with as her doctor. So, this is mostly by memory of what I learned in medical school and picking up information as I skimmed sections in my reading."

"Are you both that clueless?" Inara threw up her hands. "You're a doctor. And you," she said, pointing at Mal. "You're complaining about this? Men around the universe would kill to have your complaint. Why do you think companions stay in business? There will always be married men whose wives just don't see to their needs anymore. Besides, isn't it you who got yourself into this mess in the first place unable to keep parts in your pants where they belonged?"

"Hey, now, that's very uncalled for. I'm talking to Simon. And I don't think I said one word that's come out sounding like a complaint. It's just gotten worse, for lack of a better word, the past month or so is all." It's not like he kept tally on a calendar or anything, but their first night together would be a hard date to forget.

"As long as her tests keep coming back fine, you're all right," Simon said.

"Thank you. That's the answer I was looking for. You'd think it was a crime for me to be concerned about such a thing. And not a word to anyone about this, ya hear? She already feels quite freakish as it is. No need adding to it, and if Jayne got word of this he'd have a field day. I really don't feel like losing him at this point over something foolish."

"Have you asked her about it?"

"Well, no, of course not. What's a man supposed to say? Excuse me but you're sexin me too much is there a problem?"

"There's another aspect to this you haven't stopped to consider," Simon said.

"What's that?"

"You've never been married nor had a woman in your bed every night before. Maybe what you're experiencing is normal and you just don't know it."

"I, well," Mal closed his mouth. Simon might have scored a point there. Mal really had no idea how women worked on a regular basis. And it'd taken them a couple of months to get to the point of actually having the sex everyone thought they were having plenty of. "If that's the case, you'd best plan on lots of nieces and nephews." And he'd be needing a bigger ship.

"More than I needed to know," Simon called to Mal's already retreating back.

He had the answer he sought. There was no danger. He hadn't thought about the fact what she was going through was just who she was and not a result of pregnancy. That, he mused, as he worked his way to the bridge was something he'd have to think over. She was pretty agile even eight months pregnant. He could just imagine what she'd be like with no bump there to get in the way.

"Sir," Zoe said when Mal entered.


"Is there something wrong?"

That warmth he felt must have been a flush of his skin. There was Zoe leaning up against the very controls that a few mere hours ago he'd. Well, best not go there when she wasn't around. Where was she, he wondered? He hadn't seen her in a couple of hours now that he thought about. He placed a hand at the back of his neck, not liking the feeling of worry that washed over him just then. Because, these days, her going an hour without reminding him of the prize she was just wasn't at all normal.

"No, nothing. Tell me the news," he said, taking his seat.

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