It might break her heart, the tenderness he was showing her now. Her feet hadn't touched the last rung of his ladder - he'd crossed to her there, wrapping both arms around her and holding her against his body, her feet inches from the floor as he kissed her.
The entire evening, she'd been incredibly aroused, thinking about him undoing the ties and clasps of this dress, undressing her hungrily, heedlessly, laying passionate claim to her bare skin. But when he crossed to the bed and set her gently on its edge, keeping his hands on her waist as he sank to his knees between hers, she was overwhelmed with emotion.
They were face to face, kissing, kissing, and although she could feel the tension in him as she stroked his shoulders and arms, he simply held her. Slowly, so slowly, his hands traced up her sides and over the lacy straps of her shoulders, through her hair, across her back, then down to her waist again. As he repeated his gentle exploration, Inara felt his hands stop as his fingers found the clasps hidden in seams in the side of her dress. He drew back and looked at her, then lowered his eyes to one of the rows of clasps. She watched a crooked smile trace across his mouth as he raised his eyes to hers again.
She returned the smile and took one hand from his shoulder and opened the fastenings on each side of her waist, loosening the bodice of her gown. His hands moved up her bare arms, fingers easing under the now-loosened straps, sliding them from her shoulders and kissing the newly exposed skin beneath them.
His hands were inside her bodice now, stroking the bare skin of her back, her sides. Slowly.
She raised her hands from his shoulders to his neck and then to cradle his face, feeling the excruciating strain everywhere she touched. Inara leaned forward, letting the loose bodice slip low over her skin, and felt him nearly flinch, his hands tightening around her as he realized what she was doing. He devoured her neck hungrily for a moment as she unbuttoned his shirt, then stilled himself with a straining effort she could feel. She whimpered, moved restlessly in his hands, needing his touch over more of her skin, and heard him moan through gritted teeth.
She pushed the cotton shirt off his shoulders and down his arms, pulled the sleeves along his bare arms and let the shirt fall to the floor behind him. She sighed as she touched him, finally bare to her. Pulled back from the passion of their kiss to watch her own hands and fingers skim the muscles of his chest, trace the scars mysterious and known. Beautiful. Listened to his breathing hitch, felt her own urgency grow in response to the sound.
He slid his hands over the curve of her hips and along her thighs, past her knees and ankles. Took a moment, smiling to himself while he kissed her, to take off her slippers. Hands moving again, fingertips and warm palms, over the sheer golden stockings she wore. She felt his fingers stop, trace intently the edge of lace at the top of her stockings, then move over the bare skin of her thighs and hips between the tops of her stockings and the narrow ribbon of her panties. Up, down, again, again, again with the same slow intensity, increasing the pressure of his fingers as they spanned across her hips.
"Mal?" How long had they lived together? His isolation was no secret to her. She knew his need had to be terrible, and yet he held it at bay. For her. His hands, his mouth moved over her as though she were some priceless treasure to be cherished. Cherished. And she cherished him. The broken, needing parts of him along with the brave. His decency, his strength.
Needing to be closer, she shrugged out of the loose straps that rested at her elbows, letting her gown puddle around her waist. She put her arms around his neck and slid off the bed, settling herself against him. The shock of his bare skin against hers radiated through her in an instant, and she heard something like a gasp as he moved against her. She put her arms around his chest and let her hands play over his back and shoulders, kissing from his jawline down his throat to the wild pulse at the base of his neck.
She felt the restraint throughout him, in his hands as they roamed, still so slowly, over her skin; in how he tightened and shuddered in response to her touch. There was so much he was holding in, she knew. It was what she herself did, and had done, every day of her adult life. Containing herself, not showing when she was moved or upset, weak or in need. It was a way to protect the self within the Companion, a way to maintain distance. Safe. Inara looked at Mal, and realized it was the last thing she wanted tonight.
Mal," she repeated. She moved against him, insistent, heard herself cry out, heard him growl against her skin. It was torment, she felt herself shaking with need as she reached for him.
"Inara..." It sounded like an invocation. He caught her hand and kissed it, shuddered as she ran it down his neck and over his chest. "Tryin' to keep my wits about me."
"I want to -" How does one unmake a lifetime of habit? She shivered, wondering if she had the courage.
"Pretty sure that's where we're headed," he replied, his breath tickling her bared skin. But after a moment he met her eyes, and she saw concern in his. "What's wrong?"
She kissed him. "I want something real for us."
His eyes were guarded now. "This...is real. The way I feel about you...ain't no falsity."
Her hands moved over him again, slowly. "Then let go for me."
"Inara - " He was straining against her and she thought the heat might scald them both.
"Why is it okay?" Tension reverberated through every word. "Because it's all known to you, what a man is?"
"No." She shook her head. "Because it's me. And it's you." She moved his hand, needing him to understand. Heard him gasp, sharply. Inara took a long moment to reach for the words as he touched her. Whispered the last against his mouth. "And I'm finished pretending that I don't need you."
They rose, leaning into each other, kissing, struggling for a moment with her tangled dress and the buttons on his trousers. Soon, all their clothing lay discarded in a tangle on the floor as they pressed against each other, needing.
"I want to know you, Inara." His eyes searched hers. "Show me."
She wrapped her arms around his neck and he laid her down on his bed, covering her body with his own. He was so close, naked against her, and although his hands, his mouth moved intimately over her body, Inara knew he was waiting. "Show me." His voice was low.
"Be with me, Inara."
Inara drew a deep breath and nodded, crying out at the feel of him and the sudden look in his eyes. A blazing, searching hope. She kissed him and prayed for courage. She was shaking, her throat tightening and her own heart seeming to press against her as she breathed. Kissed him again and spoke the truth.
"I love you."
She whispered it to him. He nodded and closed his eyes and kissed her and she felt him let go, finally, in the way he reached for her, touched her, kissed her. Something was breaking, opening inside her too while he let her see him, know him, the need and the fear, the isolation and the yearning. Knowing her, learning her like this, exposed and shaking and far from control, but not alone. They traveled together, into and over and throughout each other, each drawing from the other the courage to show everything they'd hidden for so long.
Inara loved him.
"You love me?" After. A question he could ask now, only because he'd seen her, he'd heard her voice when she'd said what she said. He hadn't expected to hear it, had been stunned at the luminous power of her truth, between them in the dark. But for all that, he found that it was something he'd already known. So he could ask.
"Huh." He felt her smile. "How 'bout that." Pulled her closer, let his hands play over her skin, remembering. Listening to her breathing, calmly now.
of good fortune for me, I reckon. Ow!" She'd bitten him. It was
apparently some signal of hers that he'd have to puzzle out.
"You were saying?" All naked, wanton innocence. Even sexier with that cultured voice of hers.
"Works out shiny." He nodded, then found her soft hair, smoothing it back from her face so that she might see him when he said it. One finger traced above her eyebrow, the graceful curve around her eye and cheekbone. She was smiling, but her eyes brimmed with unshed tears. "Because I love you, Inara. More than I thought I could, more than I know how to say. Been so long, not wanting to let myself think about you, think we could ever try for more than what we had."
"This is more," she said simply, echoing the words between them in the sleigh. "Here we are. And I'm so happy, Mal."
He'd never heard her sound like that. But he recognized the new music in her voice. It was the same dazzled, humble joy he felt anew, every time he looked at her, touched her and discovered, again, that this wasn't a dream. Inara loved him.
He held her close, touching a kiss to her forehead as she trailed a gentle hand across his chest. Breathed deeply and felt the soft warmth of her pressed against him. Spoke her name, softly, and felt her lift her head from his shoulder to meet his eyes.
"Tell me again."
He called it making love.
The way he said it, whispered against her ear or spoken with soft honesty into the darkness, made her heart so tender Inara could barely endure it. It wasn't a term she usually associated but it applied; perfectly described the physical expression, the intimate communication, which allowed her to open her heart to Mal. Far safer than words.
Inara still couldn't believe she had told him. She was surprised at how important it was for him to know she loved him. For some time, she had acknowledged, privately, the depth of her feelings for him. Had fought it, ignored it, railed at it but there it was facing her every day she lived on Serenity. Leaving hadn't helped. Back on Mr. Universe's moon, she had thought she was going to die, had been certain of it, and the thought that had haunted her was that she was going to die with a soul's weight of regret concerning Mal. She didn't want to live with that regret any longer.
He had risked so much for the people he loved, kept them close, did crazy stupid things to keep them together. She knew he hadn't planned on things to get this far between them. That would be an optimism that Mal was not known for. But this afternoon, as they shopped, she saw him talking with the old lady, stealing glances at her, and she remembered her regret, thought of his courage in all things except with the battered remnants of his heart.
He loved her. Deep down, she'd known it but despaired of him ever chancing the distance between them, of trusting her, and himself enough to pursue something more.
She rubbed her cheek against his head, loving the weight of him as he lay on top of her dozing a little. Trailing her fingers along his back, she felt the slight sheen of sweat. Smiling, she became aware of the sweat on her own skin, of the slight, humid stickiness where his belly lay against hers. She wiggled under him, trying to alleviate some of the stickiness.
"Ain't sleeping." His voice rumbled, but he did not move.
She honestly thought he had been. "No?"
He raised his head, grinning at her. "No."
She grinned back at him, feeling his wakefulness. Lifting her knees, she glided her feet over his legs crossing her ankles against the small of his back. His hands went to cup her face and he shifted slightly. Her eyes fluttered closed as she felt him slide into her. Mal stilled, taking a moment for them to sense each other this way. She could feel his eyes on her. Inara opened her eyes, her gaze locking on his as he began to move, to move for her.
Mal smiled, new and sweet, his hands caught hers, moving them up, holding them above her head. He kept a slow rhythm, his eyes never straying from hers. Her breath hitched, her heart pounded, she craved to urge him faster, but he moved slowly, deeply. Inara could feel the tension in him, maintaining the excruciatingly slow pace that he had to know was making her crazy. She heard a soft whimper, felt her climax pulsing through her. He tightened his grip on her hands as she cried out, wrapping her legs more tightly around him, pulling him as close as she could.
Inara smiled up at him as the subsiding tremors still travelled through her body. "I'd like my hands back now."
He cocked an eyebrow at her. "Why's that?"
"Because I want to…" Inara watched his face as she whispered a few concise words in his ear. She felt a thrill as his expression changed. Mal quickly released his hold on her to run his hands lightly over her sensitized skin, watching in fascination as his touches made her shiver again.
Mal started to move, but the touch of her hands on his hips, the tiny shake of her head, the raised eyebrow stopped him. "Like we were before?" He tilted his head briefly, indicating the floor next to the bed.
Inara nodded, smiling beatifically. "Oh, yes." She held on while he wrapped an arm around her and lifted, settling her onto his lap as he knelt by the bed. This larger movement activated the motion sensors, and the dim lights glowed brighter. His eyes moved hungrily over her as she began with the same deliberate lack of speed he'd given her earlier. She heard him gasp against her neck, then chuckle as he saw her smile.
"Wicked." He drew a finger around her belly button.
She touched him, leaned slightly back against the edge of the bed. "Watch me."
His eyes travelled her
again and again, seemingly needing to see everything at once. Inara
watched him as closely, watched his face as he'd watched hers, joy
and power filling her as she saw her effect on him.
When it became absolutely necessary for him to move, she allowed it, encouraged him with her body and her touches and the wild, soft words she whispered to him as she kissed him. They moved back to the bed, both moving much faster now until he cried out her name and they lay, spent and panting and stickier than before.
Mal's voice was slightly muffled by the pillow. "Now, I'm sleeping."
She rolled on her side scooting back to nestle against him. He pulled her closer, draping his arm over her waist. She felt his breathing become more even, This time she knew for sure he slept. She looked around the room as the lights dimmed, and smiled.
He'd called it making love. And it was. All night they made love, slept, and made love again, sating hunger, keeping vigil for each other against the loneliness and the sorrow. Welcoming hope with kisses, whispered endearments and a few tears. Inara had never felt more...more what?, she asked herself. The answer came a moment later. More.
Mal woke up – a little tired, a little spent, a little sore but entirely content. He was immediately aware of Inara, sleeping on him. The narrow bunk barely held the two of them but it was right pleasant the feel of her laying on him. He'd had the bunk to himself for - well, for as long as he'd had the bunk. And then some. But this morning was different. This morning, Inara loved him.
Only yesterday, he'd awakened alone, fretting on how to get his crew through the holiday. Thinking on the shopping expedition, counseling himself not to say anything humpish to Inara. Not to start a fight. Not to let her go and start one, either. Then shopping and cocoa and some soft words in the falling snow and...Inara loved him. Spent the night with him, had fallen asleep in his arms, apparently too exhausted to retrieve the blankets from the floor. Mal smiled up at the ceiling.
The last night had been…well, unbelievable was the first word that came to mind. He tightened his hold on her, touching the memory of every day that she had been gone. Funny that it should be the case, they were so alike in their wretchedness. But it hadn't been a blur. Every moment had been perfectly, painfully articulated. Without her. Watching his luck go from bad to worse, job after job slipping into disaster. Tending to the distance between himself and everyone in his crew, seeing it grow. And the gorramn capture.
He'd thrown it away. Didn't need it. Weren't likely he'd forget the look of her. Thrown it away, bitter anger coursing through him. Toward both of them. Toward himself, for letting hope rise up in him again. Toward her, for just stepping into her shiny new life without a backwards glance.
Thrown it away and had to go get it back later that night, when the rest of his life stretched out empty before him and if the gorramn capture was the only way he'd ever see her and hear her raw honey voice again, he planned to hold onto it.
Which he did. But stored well away, not a weakness to be indulged every day. Only - only when the hurt got so he couldn't stand the need for her any longer. He'd drag it out from where he had it stowed, watch and listen and hurt more. "That man doesn't know what he wants."
She'd been wrong. He'd known exactly what he'd wanted and before he'd had the chance to tell her, she ran off like a Reaver was on her tail. Couldn't get off the ship fast enough. But that was then...
And here she was. Her head on his chest, her legs entwined with his. Mal tilted his head to get a look at her, sleeping. A drift of soft curls, her sooty lashes resting on her cheek. He didn't want to move, just feel her breathing, smell her hair, but he realized he'd been stroking her skin, for how long he didn't know. His hands glided again over her naked back.
Over her naked - naked - back, and farther down. Then right back up again. Better not. Best to let her sleep. Wouldn't do, her awakening to find him groping at her like some kind of depraved, opportunistic lummox. Presumptuous, that would be. She might not want...
She might. One more thing to learn, thinking of all the things he's learned about her preferences and sensitivities in the past few hours - how she likes to wake up.
And she hadn't been shy about waking him up in the night.
Had she felt just a little bit cold? He might could check. Mal moved his hands down her again, closing his eyes at the unbelievable softness of her skin.
He let go of her with one arm and reached, stretching, feeling around for the blankets that had landed - been thrown - on the floor in the night, to drape over her. To keep her warm. Like she was keeping him warm. Mal realized that all this stretching and reaching meant he was moving against her, a little bit. Noticing how good she felt. Noticing how his body is, and has been...noticing.
Mal resolved again to let her sleep. The gentlemanly thing to do. Long as she pleases. He smoothed the blankets where they lay over her back and hips, tucked his hands under the blankets against the miracle of her skin, and closed his eyes again.
It wasn't long before he felt her waken. The rhythm of her breathing changed slightly. She didn't shift her position, just lay still and quiet. What was she thinking? It had been perfect between them, all night. He'd thought so. But she wasn't saying anything. Was this going to be uncomfortable? Them fumbling for words instead fumbling for each other?
Not that there had been excessive amounts of - fumbling. The way she'd reacted, the look and sound, the feel of her - he strongly suspected he'd acquitted himself ok.
Be that as it may, he was naked. She was on top of him. Just as naked. It would be a pretty trick, to pull off a casual conversation.
"Good morning." Her voice richly sensual, husky, pleased. She'd apparently noticed his noticing. Didn't seem to mind one bitty bit.
"Morning." He waited as she stretched for what seemed like an eternity before she looked up and met his gaze. But that was it for the morning conversation. His hand drifted down her back before sliding her body up until her face was next to his.
He looked into her eyes, looking for confirmation that last night had been real. He knew he hadn't dreamed her words, never allowed himself to imagine she might say such a thing to him. Words she'd repeated, in the softest voice, answering his own, just before sleep.
She met his gaze, truth shining in her eyes. He searched her eyes, trying to find a hint of regret and found none. What he saw was happiness, hope, and more than a little bit of mischief. She wiggled against him, then drummed her fingers on his chest as she settled her chin into the palm of the other hand. "Hmmmm, what did I want to do this morning...." His hands went to her provocatively moving hips, but before he could shape a reply, she beamed at him, leaning down for a kiss.
And had him remind her.
Mal's head rested on Inara's belly.
"I'm starving." She absently ran her fingers through his tousled hair. "Do you think there's any food left?"
"Might be so - if Jayne's not plundering every corner of the galley as we speak."
"I wonder if anyone is up. It's still quite early."
Anyone. The others. He kissed her belly button before rolling onto his side to look up at her, his head resting on his hand.
"Thought about how you want to play this? With everyone?"
"I'm not ashamed of how I feel."
Relief. He didn't want to sneak around, on his own ship, like some kid. Well, yes he surely did, thinking of the long hours between morning and night, and all the hidden places on Serenity where they might steal a few minutes alone...but the idea of compulsory sneaking around was wearisome. One night of that had been - however exciting - sufficient. Mal wondered, idly, what Kaylee's surprise movie had been about. Had there been a swimming pool? He realized he was hungry, leaned in and kissed Inara's bare skin again before sitting up.
"Tell you what." He reached for his pants, pulling them on as she watched, smiling, still stretched out on his bed. "You stay right there, I'll make a galley run, see what I can procure for us - call it a pre-breakfast...breakfast."
Inara grinned and stretched,
nodded her agreement and snuggled the sheets and blankets around her.
"Breakfast in bed?" She pulled the pillow from where it had
gotten stuck between the bunk and the wall, lay her head back on it
and blinked up at him, her lashes moving like a graceful curtsy.
"That sounds perfect."
Walking away from a bed she was in was not his favorite part of the morning, but Mal figured he'd be right back. He'd checked the clock earlier, and they still had a few hours before the morning's sledding expedition was to start.
Got to the galley and started hot kettles for coffee and tea. Fished around in her cabinet for a minute, finding her tea stuff. Started to retrieve two mugs from the cupboard, then checked himself. Two mugs of steaming hot beverages, two hands, one ladder. He thought about it for a moment, then smiled in satisfaction as he remembered the thermoses from their sleigh ride.
He had just finished wrapping various cookies, chips, and cheese in a large napkin and tucking both thermoses between his chest and his bent arm when he heard a quiet step behind him. Mal turned. Simon stood in the galley's entrance, in his undershirt and stockinged feet, carefully not noticing his lack of a shirt, the quantity of thermoses, or the two kettles steaming on the stove. The two men spent an undefined moment opposite each other, then both nodded. Stepped around each other in the tiny galley, and proceeded with their business.
And his business was getting breakfast, and himself, back into bed with Inara. Maybe just snuggling - maybe. Even so, it was going to beat the hell out of sitting on one of the hard wooden chairs at the galley, her across from him, all dressed and untouchable. He climbed down the ladder and clanged the door shut. She was still in bed. Merry Christmas.
"Cookies?" Her eyebrow lifted in amusement.
"Cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast."
She smiled, sitting up not bothering to wrap the blanket around her. He sat down next to her, watching her watch him as they ate. His interest in the snack diminished considerably.
He cast about for a neutral topic, the woman had to eat. "All set for sledding?"
She nodded. "Should be fun."
"Got clothes? I mean warm sledding clothes? Want to make sure you've got layers between the cold air and your...skin." He paused, a little distracted by her nakedness. "More layers is better." He decided to ignore her I know that look, and continued, ""I got a warm woolly undershirt, got shrunk in the laundry, maybe you could put on..."
"Thank you. I've gathered some things here and there." She paused, thinking. "Which reminds me. I need ---"
"Anything you need." He reached for another cookie and took a bite, realizing he was hungrier than he thought.
"What I need is at the Training House."
The cookie turned to frozen ashes in his mouth. He swallowed the now tasteless food, looking at her in disbelief.
"Mal, you must admit I can't continue living as I have been."
He knew it. She was running. How could he be so stupid? The woman was worse than him when it came to sticking it out when her heart was on the line. He stared at her, bleak rage trickling out of his heart, freezing everything as it moved through him.
Inara's eyes widened at his expression. "What are you---?"
Mal choked the words out. "What was this? A gorramn Christmas present?" He felt sick, poisoned. The hope that she had dangled in front of his heart withered away. She loved him. He knew it. But love didn't make her a stupid woman. Now he could only hope she'd do him the kindness, at least let him know when in the night it had happened. Save him from scraping his heart raw over it, remembering every moment, trying to put his finger on it. What had happened, what had she seen that made her decide, love or no, he was a bad bet and she'd better cut her losses? Or, had she planned it this way all along?
"Mal, I didn't mean - "
Mal flung his unopened thermos on the floor, his coffee dribbling onto the floor. He was sure she'd expect him to rage at her. Well, she'd have to do her running without any help from him. He didn't aim to make it easy for her, give her a handy excuse. "Be nice to know just when it was you decided to run, Inara. Save me the trouble of puzzling over everything we did, trying to find... " Mal found he couldn't finish the thought. His voice sounded foreign, like a low drumbeat in his ears. "Truly be a kindness."
As he stared at her, fighting to get a breath of air in his body, fighting to keep his feet, fighting the impulse to fling his bitter pain at her with the ugliest words he knew, he saw her furrow her brow and start to speak. Stop, take a careful breath, then start again. Figuring how to defend herself? How to make it all ok? How to make him see it just wouldn't work and this plan of hers that was wrenching viciously through his gut was really for the best? Inara started and stopped again, smoothing one hand down the opposite arm. All the while watching him. She shook her head just a little, then, unbelievably, smiled lovingly, just exactly as if she meant it, and closed the distance between them.
"It's these clothes." Smiled up at him, even caressed his shoulder, his neck, and tightly clenched jaw.
Had she gone ruttin' insane? "Sexin' ain't gonna make this right, 'Nara." Forcing himself to keep still, rather than grabbing her and dropping her on his bed, the gorramn bed that still smelled like her, and making some idiotic, doomed attempt to change her mind.
"I've observed that the only time you're reliably good-natured is when you're naked. So it must be something in your clothing that's a terrible irritant to your well-being." Inara raised an eyebrow, ignored his glowering, and put her arms around him. When she spoke again, her eyes had softened and her voice was tender music. "I want to retrieve my things, Mal." Her eyes were filling. "And bring them home." The last word, only a whisper. She raised up on tip toe and planted a soft kiss on his mouth. "I love you."
Mal heard the rough noise of his own gasping breath, caught in his throat. He was holding onto something, hard. It was her, and her arms were tight around him as they leaned into each other. He breathed again, raggedly still, pulled back to search her face, just inches from his.
"Did you imagine you are so easy to leave?" Her voice was so gentle. "It broke my heart last time, and now...." Inara kissed him before leaning back to look at him. Her eyes narrowed, a spark of fire within. "Hear my words - I will fight to keep what we have, fight anyone I have to."
"You mean me." It wasn't a question. He'd seen her significant glance, he could draw a gorramn inference.
She rolled her eyes, letting him know that much should have been abundantly clear. "Of course I mean you."
"Mal, I want…" She paused, looking over his shoulder before lifting her eyes to his. "I want more. I want this love between us to have a chance. And that means staying here with you."
He'd wanted to live, enough to do what he'd done to get them to Miranda and back. Wanted to keep their family together. Wanted to take a deep breath without wincing too bad. And wanted to find if there was a way to her. He had found a way to her but he wanted, needed more. Needed to live, really live, not exist as he had been doing for so long now. Hope. He saw her own hope shining in her eyes.
He couldn't speak so he just nodded his head. They looked at each other and he could see the slight apprehension in her eyes. Mal drew her closer surprised that he had forgotten she was, well, naked. His hands drifted over her skin as he looked down at her.
Words. He needed to find some, to let her know what her courage, what the chance to love her, meant to him. "Inara. For you - for us - I - I'll try."
She nodded, and they fell to kissing, which had, very lately, become the easy, familiar territory for Mal. Him shirtless, her still naked as an egg, things were shiny and getting better by the tick. But she pulled away, and they both laughed a little, glancing at the bunk with its messy tangle of sheets and blankets. He saw Inara gesture at her hair, in enchanting disarray and telegraphing wild sex to anyone who might see, and shake her head at him. He nodded his understanding and kissed her.
Inara picked up her stockings. "I told Kaylee I would help with breakfast."
He sat on his bed, watching her sort through the clothes scattered about his room. "Must say as far as fighting goes, this here's..." He gestured with one hand, smiling warmly at the lovely nakedness of her, "… my new preferred way."
"Is it?" She smiled absently, looking around the room.
"Lost your drawers, have you?"
"You could help. They didn't get lost without help."
He got up intending to help her find all the clothes she came in with but he remembered something. He went to his small closet, rifling around until he found what he was looking for. Turning around, he was disappointed to see her putting on her dress. Guess she gave up looking for all her clothes.
He handed her the shirt. "It'll keep you warm."
She looked down at the shirt. Warm yes but lime green. Mal was hard pressed to remember how he had come upon such an item. She held it up in front of her. It hung down to her knees. Shaking her head slightly, she looked back up at him.
"And I still need my things."
She nodded and walked to the ladder, looking back at him. She was beautifully disarrayed. Her hair the messiest he had ever seen, her dress not closed properly, and he knew she was nakeder under that dress. She never looked so beautiful as she did then. She smiled at him, her smile a touch on the nervous side but he wasn't worried. She loved him, was staying with him, wanted to see where this thing between them would go. He watched as she ascended the ladder and heard the hatch close. Grinning to himself, he whistled a Christmas song.