The Difference Between Night and Day

He wakes with her arm around his waist and her long brown hair splayed over her naked shoulder and his chest. He almost jumps before he realizes just who it is that has shared his bed. It is not Saffron, and no one else with such planned deceptions. Her deceptions are all unintentional, for there are things still hidden even from her.

His world is brighter with Kaylee. There have been whispers that he would choose her over the courtesan. Inara had cares for him, too, in her own way of the guarded professional. If it is a professional he wants, he could well choose Zoƫ even though she is married to Wash. Then there is the Tam girl that no one expects him to notice because she belongs only to her brother and her world of men wearing blue gloves.

He strokes her naked back while he thinks about these four women on his ship. Her body leans into him like a purring cat, and she strokes his right hip, finding the tattoo there. She finds his tattoo infinitely fascinating, and she understands the pain he felt when he got it. Only with her, the marks are internal where no one can see.

When she first came to his bed, he knew he should have pushed her away. It was a moment of weakness for him, and she was dangerous. She makes him scream in both passion and release, and the rest of the crew doesn't know it. His blood boils to think of her, but he hides it constantly under his shield, the mask of the captain.

How, then, she broke into him is a mystery. None of the others on the crew know for certain, though there might be speculation on the small ship. They are never found together because she always leaves before morning in space arrives.

But she is still with him now, and the others are not yet awake. She moves her hand over his hip and across his abdomen into a nest of curls at the top of his legs. There she coaxes him fully awake and alert while she smiles victoriously into his chest. Mal his name may be, but malleable he is not, except for when she has her hands on him. They both know with shocking clarity that she knows exactly what he wants, and she has learned to give it to him.

When she closes her mouth around him, he gasps, but not because her intimate touch was unexpected. It is the oddity of placing such skill with that beautiful mouth that is the source of wonderment. He dares not ask where she could have learned this unless she read it directly from his inner thoughts. Knowing her, that's exactly what she could have done.

When she brings him to climax, he throws his head back and paws at the sheets. He doesn't reach into her hair, though he loves to have his hands on her, because he does not want to cause her pain. She tells him pain like this is unimportant, but in their moments of passion he wishes for her to have better from him than others have given to her. The sentiment isn't lost.

Slowly she rises, sliding her sweat-slicked body over his until she is held in his arms. When his heart beats slowly again, she kisses him on the mouth, savoring every flavor there, and he doesn't mind where her mouth has just been. Then she rises off of him and dresses to retreat back to her room as if they never were together.

Mal watches her go before he puts on his own brave mask to face another day. When the night of space comes, she will sneak away from all the others to be back with him as she can. Until then, it is another day aboard Serenity, and she is no different than anyone else.

A/N: This is a case of "Everyone else is writing short fics, and so can I!" Besides, do I really need an excuse to imagine Nathan Fillion naked in bed? No, I didn't think so. Yes, he does actually have a tattoo on his right hip. See screen caps of his Outer Limits appearance for proof.

And yes, I know which one of the four this woman is supposed to be, but I am curious who you readers will think she is, so please review!