Word Count: 1,504
This is for the LJ community 50_baby_fics Prompt #11-Pain
"Mal," Jayne's voice came from the area leading to the bridge. The whole ship probably heard him for as loud as he was.
"You've got to do something about River."
"Somehow I'm guessing you don't have her welfare in mind. So, tell me what's on your mind, Jayne. What'd she do? Steal one of your guns again for target practice?" Mal hadn't seen her in a little while, but she'd mentioned playing with Mal followed by a shower before bed so he hadn't thought anything of it.
"She's still in the shower. Did you not hear me hollering a bit ago? What little hot water we've got is likely to be gone. And unlike her I worked today and need to get clean."
"And you want me to do what? The woman feels the need for a shower…"
"She's been in there forever. She's yours, get her out. Unless you want me to do it, but I'll set her out the door in her all together. Mark my word. I could care less."
"I'll get her," Mal said with a roll of his eyes. "She ain't my property and I don't take well to you threatening her, Jayne."
"I wasn't threatening. I just want my damned shower! And I knew that telling you I'd remove her myself would get your attention."
She did this sometimes, got lost in there. He'd been busy most of the day working out the details of this job, so she'd been responsible for Mal on her own. He wasn't adverse to taking the baby for a while if she needed a break. He sensed somehow she thought the crew would think badly of her if she did that, though, so she muddled through. So, a shower was her escape once Mal was down for the night. Her private time.
He knocked. "Riv, it's me," he said before letting himself in. What he saw gave him pause. She was in the shower all right, sitting in the small area, knees bunched up around her, the water on to barely a trickle, aimed directly at her breasts. He saw the evidence of tears on her cheeks, but she didn't seem to be sobbing uncontrollably or anything.
"Come on now, you've been in here for quite a while Jayne says."
"It hurts," she said softly, glancing at him and he saw the tears swimming in her eyes.
"Simon told you it might, but this ain't helping."
She shifted slightly so the water changed spots, arching into it and groaning softly. A groan that made parts of him already twitching from standing here watching her naked do so even more. He'd wondered a couple of times now if that desire would ever go away. Of course, there were times seeing her with clothes on made him react in the same way.
"Feels good," she murmured.
"Yeah, he told you it would, but it's not going to stop the problem. Remember? The more you do this the more comes out, the more your body thinks it still needs to make more."
"I know," she murmured.
"You want to try again tomorrow?"
"No, Simon said he would have recommended I wean him about now anyway."
Mal sat down behind her, gathering her to him so the focus of the water was no longer on her breasts. He didn't really care he was getting wet, too.
"It ain't right what happened, and I'm sorry, but little Mal was already eating mushed up food anyway."
"Yes, but at least if I'd been able to stop properly it wouldn't hurt so much."
"Simon said there still would have been discomfort."
"Not like this!" She crossed her arms in front of her and then drew them away almost violently with a hiss. "See! I can't even do the most basic things!"
"I get that, bao bay, I do, and I can't begin to understand what you're going through. If I could help, I would, take some of it away for you. But the showers are out. And you've got my crew kind of in a snit hogging the shower."
"Can't help it. Need the relief. It wants to come out, made to come out."
By the time Inara had gotten back to Serenity with little Mal, he'd gone over a full day without nursing. Mal had thought of that when sending Inara away, but there wasn't anyone else who could have stood in River's place for that type of thing. So, he had no options open to him there.
The baby had taken to bottles so well in his short absence he wanted nothing more to do with what his mother had to offer him naturally. Simon said it wasn't unusual, particularly at this age since he'd been exposed to some foods already. Mal wasn't so sure what he'd been given could be called food exactly, it didn't look like anything he'd ever eaten.
"Come on, let's get you out of here."
"Don't want to go."
"I know, but this isn't doing you any good. You're just going to delay the drying up process. And make my crew think I'm favoring you by letting you sit in here well past your allotted time. Want me to get Simon?"
"No, no Simon. Don't need a doctor to tell me what I already know."
"Then come on, River. This is just prolonging the process."
"Can't wear nice clothes because I leak."
"Simon said it shouldn't take that long. Couple of weeks, maybe a little longer but he said a couple weeks and you shouldn't have that problem anymore."
"And what do I do until then?"
"Well, gee, you can't wear clothes. I could think of a thing or two."
"I said nice clothes," she said, but he could hear the laughter in her tone.
He stood then, helping her up. He was relieved she let him. He had no doubt if it came to a struggle between the two he'd probably come out on the short end of the stick. He pulled her robe around her, gathering her into his arms.
"You do what every other woman in your position has done, Riv. I know that's not very helpful, but you've got to let nature take its course here. A few weeks of pain like this? Or you taking a warm shower for the purpose of expressing more, which will only make things worse?"
"I'd rather have none."
"Yeah, me, too, but life doesn't work that way."
"If I need to come in here with you to make sure all you're doing is showering, I will."
She lifted her head then to look into his eyes. "That could be fun."
"No," he lifted his lips in a smile. "I'd be doing it from a merely medical standpoint, out of concern for my wife's wellbeing. No fun would be had."
"No, as it is tonight I'm surprised Jayne's given me this much time to get you out of here."
"Hot water's gone."
"Yeah, I suspect that's the reason. He can take one later."
"You don't think I did anything wrong?"
"What? What could you possibly have done wrong?"
"River. Come on," he said, smoothing back some of her hair. "No one on this boat things you've done anything wrong. I knew when I sent him with Inara he'd be relying on bottles, but not knowing how long it'd be before you got back I didn't see as I had much choice. I wanted to protect him, afraid somehow he'd been found out. And I couldn't let him starve until you got back."
"I hate when you look at me like that."
"Like you feel sorry for me."
"I don't. Not at all, I'm just sorry I can't help you through this. If you come to bed now I'll show you just how I feel for you."
She laughed softly. "You say that all of the time."
"And it's true all of the time." He grazed her lip with the back of his finger. "You all right now?"
"Yes," she whispered.
"It's already been over a week. Just a couple more and you should be out of the woods. All right. You start feeling like this again, you come find me and I'll see to it I take your mind off the pain."
"Cross my heart, bao bay. Now, let's get out of here so Jayne doesn't have a conniption."
"He already thinks that we…"
"Yeah, I can guess what's going on in that mind of his."
"He has a rather filthy mind."
"Any ideas you pull out of that mind of his you want to try, just let me know."
"I will be sure to do that."
"Until then, I've got a few of my own I'd like to give a spin. And I promise each and every one will keep your mind off what's going on with you elsewhere."
"I know," she said, giving him a kiss.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com