Mal strode into Inara's shuttle not bothering to knock, as usual. He headed straight for the couch and slumped down, dragging his hand through his brown hair with a weary sigh.

"Why, Mal. It's nice to see that you've learnt how to knock." Inara welcomed him with a sarcastic half smile and elegantly pulled herself up from where she had been perched on her bed. She walked over to sit beside him.

"Yeah," Mal grunted in response. He clearly hadn't listened to a word she'd said.

"So, what brings you here today, Captain?" Inara questioned, trying to break through his somewhat thick exterior. She pulled her legs up underneath her and shifted into a more comfortable pose.

"You," he answered gruffly, ducking his head. "I can't seem to get you out of my head."

"Wha–?" All threads of Companion training fell away and Inara was left defenceless, Mal's words being the last thing she'd expected to hear. Mal was supposed to be too stubborn to admit anything to her – so why was he now?

A shocked expression forced its way onto Inara's face and her mouth dropped open in astonishment.

"You fog things up. You always have," Mal explained, his gaze focused resolutely on the floor. "You spin me about," he hesitated.

Regaining control of her bodily functions once again, Inara clamped her mouth shut. Unsure of how to respond, she settled on a quick nod in the Captain's direction. "I'm sorry," she murmured.

"Nothin' to be sorry about."

Inara shook her head as if it would clear away her confusion and reached out her hand, resting it on Mal's leg. "Mal! What's going on?"

"I want you, Inara," Mal told her, finally looking up. "I want us."

He leant in, rapidly closing the gap between them. His lips brushed Inara's, lingering for a moment before moving closer and closer until they fell into a kiss. Inara was too stunned to pull away and before long found herself deepening the kiss.

Clutching Mal's hands in hers, she pulled him towards the bed. "This had better not be a dream!" She mumbled into his chest.

"This? A dream? It's too good to be a dream!" Mal teased as Inara helped him removed his shirt.

"Mal –"

A loud knock at the shuttle door startled Inara and she woke up.