A/N: I've fallen in love with this ship; something about it just warms me to the core and makes me feel all tingly like. I've always been conventional in my ships with all my other fan fictions, stories I've read, movies I've watched, and shows I've seen. I always went with the conventional pairs because obviously the writers and authors set them up like that for a purpose. I don't know where I'm going with this, probably a one shot; hopefully it won't just turn into fluff again.

Disclaimer: Firefly and Serenity and all these beautiful characters belong to Joss, not me, I just like to play make believe with them.

Title: A Proper Bunk


Mal had once again found himself at the wrong end of a gun.

It hadn't started out bad; in fact it was all shiny up until it wasn't, up until there was a pistol pointed between his eyes. Who this upstanding citizen was, was unknown to him. How he had even known who Mal was, was the greater mystery. He hadn't been dealing on worlds and moons where his name would get tossed around a lot for fear of someone catching on to what someone wanted moved. Communities were small out here on the Rim and it wasn't like someone wanted their neighbor find out that he was selling his crop or livestock off planet for a higher price than he could get.

This particular job had been fertilizer. Mal's crew had gotten their hands on some real top shelf fancy fertilizer; you could tell how good it was by the absolute stench it had left behind. Even after a morning of leaving her hatch doors wide open to the air, Serenity's belly still smelled of a zhu fuen chse.

The idea was to sell this fertilizer all secret like to a farmer on this moon. Maybe a townsfolk's sensitive nose had gave them up, because they were certainly careful enough not to go about parading the dung around.

"How much did Saunders pay you for that pile of gou shi?"

"Now now, there ain't no need to be hasty-"

"How much?" he demanded.

"Five-hundred platinum," Mal lied, seeing where this hold up was going. Truthfully, he'd done the job more as a favor and ended up getting more like two-hundred.

"Get me a shipment that size and I'll pay you six," the man lowered his gun and held out his hand.

"I'll see what I can do for you, don't usually take on jobs that start out with me on the wrong end of a gun."

The man replaced his pistol in his belt and with a deadly look on his face turned and left Mal at the local pub he'd been at when the incident started.

Mal turned back to his party. Luckily the man hadn't turned his gun on anyone but him. Had his barrel wandered over in Jayne's direction the local watering hole would've turned into a war zone right quick. Had he threatened Kaylee or god forbid River, Mal would've probably been the first to shoot that ben dan.

"Well.. it's looking like we'll be headed back to Three Hills," Mal grinned. It was nice having work, it was especially nice knowing he had already pulled off this exact job without a hitch minus the new contract, it was amazingly nice knowing he was gettin' paid more'n thrice what he had been the first time.

"I think you've got some errands to run, no?"

The crew took this as their clue to get a move on and they went their separate ways. Kaylee headed to the junkyard with Jayne in tow as some extra muscle to heave around some of the heavier parts she could find. The doc went to the pharmacy to pick up some medications and items he'd been running out of. River tromped along with Mal back towards Serenity.

"The fox invites the stork to dinner and tricks him."

"'Scuse me River?"

"The fox invites the stork to dinner and serves only broth in saucers."

He was rightly confused when she spoke in her riddles. She took his silence as a clue.

"You tricked him into this job. Let's just home he doesn't get the better of you like the stork does of the fox."

"Yes, let's hope not."

"You're sly and tricky like the fox," she qualified, "sly in the clever way, not the liking men way," she clarified with a laugh.

"I think you're the clever one mei-mei."

"Not your sister," she said in a sing-song voice as she bounded ahead of him towards Serenity her hair flying wildly behind her. The albatross was eager to get back in the air.

He knew well that she wasn't his sister, given the many situations he had found himself in with her these past months. He'd grown quite fond of her and had come to trust her completely in his cockpit alone. She had proven quite skilled at flying Serenity and Mal thought he'd seen a change in her since she'd taken over the controls. She was more aware of herself and way less prone to outbursts. In fact, he couldn't remember the last time specifically she'd had one. Something about being at the helm calmed and soothed her.

She was so adamant about being part of the crew now that she had hauled all her stuff from her passenger dorm and let herself into Mal's dorm one night. She had just begun putting all her things away and getting changed when Mal was ready to turn in. He'd gotten just far enough down the ladder that he could see his dorm and was greeted by a half naked River getting settled into his bed.

"What in tian xiao de do you think you're doing woman?" he said still from halfway down his ladder.

"Part of the crew now, need a proper bunk."

"That room of yours is plenty nicer than this zhu fuen chse."

"Precisely why it won't do. Too far away from the bridge, won't be fast enough to help when really, really needed."

He'd managed to get her to put some clothes on to make arguing with her a bit more manageable. Also so he could call in Simon to be a voice of reason, her superior logic was beating him in every possible sense. No matter how many times he had said 'this is an order River', she had called him illogical and a dunce and maintained her stronghold of his bunk.

The good doctor had made her see reason and she reluctantly headed back to her dorm. She had taken to sleeping in Kaylee's hammock in the engine room just to be minutely closer to the action.

However the image of her lithe form poised gracefully in the motion of getting into bed was something Mal could not push out of his mind. If she were his sister, or even sister like to him, he definitely would not have reacted quite the way he had. When he got to thinking about it, he stopped himself because he knew she'd hear him. He'd always been fond of her in a protective familial sort of way, but he couldn't remember when she had gotten so beautiful and downright amazing lookin'.

She had reached the ramp leading up into Serenity's belly, and spun around her dress fluttering around her giving just a peek at those shorts she wore under it. She was smiling down at him as he approached Serenity.

"I'm flattered you think I'm pretty," she smirked at him.

He staggered; he hoped that's all she'd seen in his lecherous hump of a mind.

"Seen a ghost?" she laughed as she turned back towards she ship.

He had come up along beside her and she slipped her arm into his, smiling.

"To the bridge my man," she said cheerfully motioning for him to escort her there.

Surely anything he felt for her was wrong, he was nearly ten years her senior. Granted, she'd been through enough to last a person hundreds of lifetimes but she was still so young. That's how it was out in the black and on the rim nowadays. Kids grew up fast, people died faster. When you found a person you held on, forgetting normal conventions.

River was holding mighty tight on his arm.

It was rightly wrong, it had to be. A tormented soul such as hers deserved a person not so tormented as him. She needed someone who could watch over and love her in a way Simon couldn't, someone who don't need watching over themselves.

They reached the bridge and she threw herself onto the pilot's seat, spinning the chair around a couple times.

"Well I'll give you a holler over the com when we're ready to start movin'," he then added, "that is, if you haven't already taken off the moment I've started closin' Serenity up."

She laughed; she was fast, often in the air before Serenity's doors had completely closed to the outside.

Mal turned to leave and wait out in the cargo bay until the others showed back up.

River fiddled with switches and dials listening to the clacks and ticks as she played out a scenario in her mind. They were being pursued and she had to get them out of atmo and out of dodge as fast as possible. She was weaving and bobbing and Serenity glided from side to side trying to lose the invisible bandits following them. When she realized they were closing in she had to use a speed brake reversal to force them to pass her, now from behind she could turn Serenity to the sky and get off this moon leaving them dumbfounded and still planetside.

She could imagine the cheer Mal would give her when she'd pulled it off. He would have been clenching her shoulder the whole time digging his fingers in deeper as the bad guys gained on them. Once Serenity had her nose in the black he'd cheer and tell her good flying. In this scenario he'd spin the seat around and give her a kiss.

She hadn't been around many boys, save for Simon, before she'd gone to the academy, in fact the week she'd had her first kiss was the week she left. She was trying hard to not let the captain fill in a fatherly or brotherly niche in her. He was different, he felt different.

His eyes blazed with the power of a supernova, but they were cool enough to soothe her. He had many misfortunes all of which made him more of a person. Someone who'd had it easy all their life was empty; he was full and overflowing with wisdom. Then there was the war, a deep part of him, something he kept hidden. She could barely make it out it was so deftly concealed. It was there though and it was dark and mysterious, he'd seen things River could only imagine. He visited that place in his dreams and when he was alone which was often, she wanted to keep him from going back. He was better when his visits were spaced out.

She'd drag him away somehow.

"River we're closin' up, strange to see you're not already breakin' atmo," he joked through the com.

She flipped Serenity on, finding her way out of her thoughts, and pulled the yoke after hitting the throttle just enough to get them to ascend.

"Hold on travelers," she hummed melodically into the com.


She had set course for Three Hills and Serenity was on auto. There wasn't much to be done until they were in orbit around their destination. Most of the crew had gotten in bed, being as they had been up all day finishing up the job, and cleaning Serenity's belly to rid the smell.

Here they were headed back for more of that ri shao gou shi bing. She didn't mind so long as she got to fly. The empty black had become home, she filled its infinite volume up.

She spun in the chair a few times, stopping right before dizziness set in. Gliding out of the bridge, she didn't know where she was headed.

She could hear Kaylee distantly tinkering in the engine room. Kaylee was probably trying to modify parts to use in Serenity.

She could here Zoë rummaging in the kitchen, shortly she'd be in the bridge sitting in Wash's chair in an old shirt of his a hand matronly laid on her belly. Shortly after the funerals, Zoë had found that she was pregnant and in a sense it had brought her through her mourning and helped her live after Miranda. She even smiled.

Still in the crew dorm hall, a notion hit River. Most everyone had someone on board. Kaylee would soon be coming towards the bridge to get in bed with Simon. Zoë in the bridge would have her baby and Wash visiting her day dreams. Jayne would be in his bunk with his machinery, both organic and inorganic. There were two lost souls on board. The captain curled in his bunk in a trench in his dreams. River would be downstairs, so far, so isolated, so alone next to the infirmary.

She paused as she moved down the hall. She wouldn't be alone, no. She'd lift Sergeant Reynolds out of the trenches and be his cover fire.

She stopped at the last ladder. Gingerly opening the door, she slid down the rungs, steps soft in her bare feet.

"Sergeant..." she whispered to the dark once she reached the floor.

She could hear him sit upright, the blankets ruffled at the movement, the air shifted around her. He was reaching for the light, it bathed her.

"Ai ya, River."

"The war's over Captain."

"I know River, and it's time to sleep, it was a long war."

"Stop going back."

It dawned on him just how bare he was. He reached for his shirt.

"You never struck me as a modest man, Captain," she smiled and stepped closer to his bed, each step calculated, he could tell.

There she was, in his bunk, keen set on getting to his bed. Perhaps she was back on her needing a proper bunk kick, she was downstairs all alone.

"River, I know it's lonesome downstairs and if I could give you a bunk I would, only thing we have are dorms now. The crew is rather attached to their rooms."

"I don't need one of my own."

He saw where this was going; she wanted to bunk with him. He couldn't take the risk of she walking in on him or he on her. It'd change things. He liked River enough, god knows he did, but he wouldn't know what he would do presented with the opportunity.

"It's warmer with two," she was next to the bed now. She sat next to him her small form barely shifting the mattress.

She measured his thoughts, they were racing and tired. They needed a rest, and a shoulder to sleep on.

"Step out of the trenches Sergeant."

"River, zhe shi she-" she cut him short planting a soft, tentative kiss on his lips.

His resolve melted, he hadn't gone to her, she came to him. It was different, he wasn't shaping her to him. She felt this way about him.

He pulled her into a harder kiss. His hands pressed her close to him by her shoulder blades, she wrapped her arms around him.

"Mal..." she began, but stopped. She kissed him again, pushing against him, pushing him over so he was lying down she was on top of him now.

"River, you sure this is what you come to do here?"

"Don't know boys, know less about men. I like you and you like me, I know that much. Teach me things about men."

"River..." he wanted to warn her that it was dangerous. He might not be able to help himself. It'd been long, so gorram long since he'd had a woman in his bed. He knew he'd never hurt her on purpose, but he wanted this so much he might not stop himself from stealin'.

"Is grown up now," she continued his sentence, "I make my own decisions."

She ran her hands along his chest, feeling every rough patch and every scar. She wanted to wipe them away and leave the perfect canvas only she saw. His hands slid under her shirt and there was a sharp in take of breath that made him pause.

His rough strong hands around her smooth dainty sides felt white hot, she kissed him signaling for him to continue. Her shirt slipped over her head and the chill of the air assaulted her bare chest. He looked her over, she was fairer and more gorgeous than he remembered, and his hands caressed each part of her upper body lingering on her breasts. Milky white complemented by a vivid deep pink, he relished their smoothness and weight in his hand. She sighed.

He kissed her collarbone, wrapping his arms around her tiny frame, holding her real close. She breathed him in, intoxicating herself in his scent.

He rolled her over on her back, she smiled as she noticed he hadn't taken his eyes off her chest. When his eyes met hers again, he smirked.

"Lesson one:" he joked, "Men love breasts."

He placed a playful kiss on each. She laughed.

"Teach me more," she implored.

He tangled his hands in her hair, kissing her again. His hand unwound itself from her head and slid down her sides. He kissed his way along her jaw, down her neck, to her collarbone again. He paused lifting her skirt up and sliding her panties down. An action that stirred her in a way she hadn't felt before. She moved against him in anticipation, he inhaled deeply.

He returned to her collarbone. Kissing a burning path to her breasts, her breaths quickened. He didn't delay, he laid wet kisses over her stomach before he sat up again.

"Lesson two: As much as we like your chest, we love this part of you more," he grinned at her lopsided.

His thumb grazed the folds of flesh between her legs; no one had touched her like that before. It sent a tickle through her spine. She wanted more and raised herself to meet his hand again for a moment. She sighed at the momentary contact.

"More," she breathed, her voice throaty. She reached for his shorts, he beat her to them with 'if you say so' written on his face.

She watched curiously as he sprang out of his shorts. Something about it stirred that feeling she'd been feeling since he'd slipped her underwear around her ankles. Something felt hollow.

He lay gently over her, pressing this hardness against her legs, to kiss her again. She opened her legs on instinct, an invitation.

Taking her cue, he slid real slow. So slow it was torture. There was a nervous resistance in her, he didn't want to force her, to hurt her, that wasn't him.

There was a short pause in his slow fluid movement, then he felt it release. Her face was turned away from him, down towards her folds and his member watching intently. She wasn't fazed by what he thought she might be.

He began to work his way in and out of her, all the while watching her face watching them. He could feel her throb, inviting him deeper, stronger, and harder. He obliged.

She grasped his back and started to pull herself up to meet each of his thrusts. With each clash, she needed more.

He slipped his leg under hers and rolled with her, pulling her on top of him. She straddled him, raising and lowering herself to her liking. She'd grind teasingly against him, with him still inside of her. She felt something build up inside of her, slowly amounting to something that shattered her, leaving her panting, throbbing, and twitchy. She wasn't done.

She lay on top of him, sliding her body up and down his. He could barely stand the feeling, he needed control over this, he teetered on the edge, so close.

Rolling back on top of her, he grabbed her legs and wrapped them around her. He slammed into her, causing her to cry out in surprise. He plunged deeper still and repeated until he fell over the doorstep, crumbling into her arms. She sighed heavily along with him.

"I think I like men."

"It's awful pleasin' to hear you say that right after, River."

"Now might I have a proper bunk," she teased.

"We'll see how you feel about that when you've seen what I look like in the mornin'," he joked.

She nestled into his neck sleep finally washing over the content fulfilled feeling that she was basking in.

Mal looked down at her fragile sleeping form. Tonight he wouldn't be in the trenches, tonight he was with her.