Fever

Author: malgalfan

Disclaimer: Don't own anything, much less these lovely characters.

Pairing: Mal/Inara

Rating: NC17

Summary: Mal gets ready for Inara's visit to his bunk.

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Mal dropped down into his bunk, having rushed through his meet and greet with their new client. Almost embarrassed by how eager he'd been to get back to Serenity before the night cycle began, he looked carefully around his personal quarters with a critical eye. He was a neat man by nature, having been the only son of an ever-vigilant mother. Even so, he quickly inspected the room, wiping all the flat surfaces to remove the thin layer of dust that had settled there.

Quickly stripping the bed of the sheets he'd slept on since Miranda, he stuffed them into the small hamper he kept in the bottom of his closet. He hastily re-made the bed with a second pair of sheets, ruefully noting they were threadbare in spots. Maybehaps Inara wouldn't notice if the lights were dim enough, he thought. At least they were clean.

He hadn't specified a time for her arrival, but he was confident she'd wait until the rest of the crew retired for the evening. With River manning the helm, Simon and Kaylee would most likely be in the passenger dorms, he figured, as he'd had occasion more than once to complain about the noise of their coupling in such close quarters. Making a mental note to show some restraint in that department, he felt his pulse quicken at the thought of actually spending the night having to suppress such sounds from his own mouth.

Stripping off his sweaty clothes, he turned warm water into the sink and scrubbed his skin vigorously with the coarse soap he generally used. He took great care to shave closely, remembering the faint signs of irritation appearing on Inara's cheeks and chin from his early morning stubble. She hadn't complained, and it had been artfully concealed by the time she'd mingled with the crew at lunch, but Mal had no wish to cause her any discomfort.

Realizing that he was primping like a school girl before a dance, he shook himself out of his reverie. Quickly cleaning the sink and pushing it back into the wall, he donned fresh clothes and climbed out of the bunk for his nightly walk around Serenity.

Satisfied that everything was in order, he waited impatiently for Zoe and Jayne to finish their card game and turn in for the night. While he was pleased that Zoe had not chosen to go straight to her bunk with a bottle of rotgut, he desperately hoped she wasn't planning instead to play cards with Jayne all night. Thinking of no readily apparent way to suggest they go to bed without raising suspicion, he walked on through the common area and up to the bridge for his final stop.

"Hey there, li'l albatross," he said, coming to a halt beside the pilot's chair. "Everything good up here?"

River nodded, her hands ghosting lightly along the console. She looked at Mal sideways, a playful smile gracing her features. "Fever," she said.

"Huh?"

"You have a fever," she replied calmly.

"Nope," Mal answered. "Not sick at all. Feel shiny, in point of fact."

"Not sick," she said, as if he were a dim-witted child. "But highly contagious, all the same."

"That so?" Mal asked, drawn in despite his better judgment.

River winked. "She's caught it too. Can only get relief by…"

"I'd take it as a kindness if you didn't finish that sentence, little girl," Mal said, feeling the tips of his ears turning red.

River laughed, the sound like water bubbling up from a fountain. "Will keep your secrets. Good at keeping secrets now. More room for them up here." She pointed one slender finger at her forehead.

"'Spect that's so," Mal said, smiling wryly. " Night, albatross."

"Night, Captain Daddy," he heard as he headed to his bunk.

Thinking it was all manner of disturbing how easily River slipped in and out of his mind, and even more disturbing for her to call him Daddy, Mal climbed down the ladder to his bunk and flipped on the small lamp on his desk.

He sat to pull off his boots and socks, wondering how much further he should disrobe before Inara got there. Some small part of him wondered if she'd even come at all, given the normal backward course of their relationship. If he stayed completely clothed, he reasoned, she may think he'd forgotten his invitation. On the other hand, he wasn't exactly easy with the idea of greeting her wearing nothing but a smile and a…

He stopped the thought ruthlessly, needing no encouragement in the form of a mental image. Ye su, if the woman doesn't already have me tied up in knots, he thought, frustrated by his propensity to over-think the situation. Shucking his clothes quickly, he pulled on a pair of loose sleep pants and sat on the bed to wait.

A half hour later, he was still waiting, becoming more agitated by the minute. Was the heartless woman going to stand him up on his own gorram boat? he thought miserably. No sooner had the thought formed than he heard the hiss of the hatch opening and the heavenly rustle of silk followed by the scent of jasmine. Taking a deep breath and thanking the God he no longer believed in, he saw Inara's tiny feet descending the top rungs of the ladder.

Standing at the bottom of ladder, Mal put his hands around Inara's waist, lifting her the last few rungs. Setting her on the floor, he reluctantly moved to let her go.

But Inara was faster. Catching his hands, she pulled him to her. "It's been a very long day," she whispered against his ear before sucking the lobe gently between her teeth. Abruptly grateful he'd changed into a loose pair of sleep pants, Mal responded with a low growl, running his hands down her sides to settle at her hips. Leaning down to kiss the soft skin under the curve of her jaw, he was rewarded by the suddenly rapid rhythm of her pulse beneath his lips.

"Thought about this spot all day," he breathed against the hollow of her collarbone as she leaned her head back, giving him better access. Her long, slender fingers ran through the soft short hair at the back of his neck, as she guided his head lower down to the plunging neckline of the flimsy nightdress she wore.

Mal licked the tender skin along the line of the fabric, brushing his fingers lightly across her tightening nipples and eliciting a small, soft sound from her for his efforts.

"'Nara," he whispered, the wonder in his voice sending warm tendrils of desire curling down deep in Inara's belly. "Wuh de tyen, ah."

She thought fleetingly that it was odd he should call upon the devine when he no longer believed. But then, all rational thought ceased as she felt the wet warmth of his mouth close over her breast, soaking the thin material as he suckled there.

Needing skin to skin contact, Inara pulled away only long enough to push the thin straps of her gown down, allowing it to pool at her feet as she reached out for him again. Her fingers dancing across the smooth skin of his chest, down his sides, and finally to the small of his back as he closed the short distance between them, she trailed fine lines of fire along his nerve endings. Sweeping her up into his arms, he walked her across the room and laid her effortlessly on his bed, stopping to look at his prize for a long moment.

Inara laid still, her luxurious dark hair fanning out across Mal's pillow. She regarded him through half-closed eyes, more aroused here with this man than she'd ever been before. Aching with the need for him, she held her breath, suddenly self-conscious under his intense gaze.

Mal eased onto the narrow bunk beside her. "So beautiful, bao bei," he murmured, his hands moving slowly over her breasts and belly. Inara moaned as his mouth followed the same trail, igniting a blaze of desire in its wake. Determined to prolong the delicious hunger for both of them, Mal slid his hand gently between her thighs, resting it at the moist center of her.

Inara wriggled her hips, desperate for more, but Mal simply pressed soft kisses along her belly and the line of her hipbone.

"Mal," she whispered urgently, hips canting against his immobile hand.

"Shhh." His hot breath blew through the curls at the apex of her thighs. "Relax, darlin'. We'll get where we're goin' soon enough." He lifted his head to smile at her, a slow smile that set her pulse racing even faster.

As he turned his attention back to the task at hand, something deep inside Inara stirred to life. She realized suddenly that, for all the men and women she'd lain under and all the times she'd performed the steps of this particular dance, no one had ever truly made love to her before. She could feel the granite length of Mal, his manhood straining against her body heavily, and yet, he was not seeking to secure his own pleasure first. The generosity of it shattered the last of her defenses.

Mal felt the subtle shift in her body as she surrendered herself to the sheer pleasure of his ministrations. Sliding back up along the length of her silky skin, he kissed her breathless as his fingers slipped into her warm folds, moving with a steady rhythm until she arched beneath him with a soft, pleading cry.

Lifting her hips, Inara wrapped her long, shapely legs around Mal's waist, as he sank his aching length deep inside the core of her. Moving together in exquisite rhythm, changing pace and strength in tender harmony, the new lovers rode the waves of pleasure together until both fell back on the narrow bunk, sweat-soaked and sated.

When the blood meandered back to Mal's brain, he turned onto his side and propped his head on one elbow. Planting a soft kiss on the tip of Inara's nose, he was delighted at her appearance. Hair mussed in a wild tangle around her shoulders and lipstick smudged across her chin, she had never looked so thoroughly undone. A surge of pure male pride ran through Mal at the sight. "You got any notion how amazing you are, darlin'?" he asked, his voice low and gravelly.

Inara smiled up at him softly, no artifice in the expression. She stretched like a cat, and molded her body into the warmth of him, sighing contentedly. "No so bad yourself, Captain Reynolds," she murmured against his chest as her eyelids drooped shut.

With a sigh of his own, Mal settled back against the bed, his arms full of the most intoxicating woman he'd ever known. "Fever, sure enough. Hope to heaven there's no cure," he thought as he drifted off to the deepest sleep he'd had since Miranda.

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