It had been two weeks since it came out that Captain Malcolm Reynolds and River Tam were together. Zoe and Kaylee were happy for them, Jayne found it hysterically funny, and Simon and Inara seemed to tolerate it. The truth of the matter was that Simon and Inara were plotting against the new couple. Their mission was simple: break up Mal and River. This was kept a secret between the two of them. No one else could know, or they might try to stop them. They did a great job of keeping it quiet. They'd only meet when no one else was around. No one noticed. No one knew…well…not exactly…

****

"Mal," her voice was quiet as they lied together in the darkness of his bunk.

"Hm?" he asked, somewhat half asleep.

"I don't think that Simon and Inara are really as okay with us as they led us to believe."

"Why do you say that, little one?"

"They don't think as quietly as they think that they do. Shouts in my head. Echoing so loud…"

"What have you been hearing?" he asked as he traced her spine with his finger, sending chills down her body.

"They're going to try to break us up."

"Really?"

"They've been working together since they found out about us."

"They didn't consider the fact that you're a genius reader did they?"

"No."

"Well, we'll know it's comin' then."

"What if it works?"

"Darlin'…" he brought her closer to his chest. "I'm not about let that happen."

"They have a good plan!"

"But it's a plan! It's gonna take more than a gorram plan to make me even doubt what we got. Not even the best plan in all the 'verse could."

He kissed her reassuringly, but she felt like something would come between them. It was a gut feeling, the kind you try to ignore but it hangs in the air like a dense fog. He played with her hair a little bit while she moved closer to him. She wanted to feel his skin, his warmth, and she never wanted to be without him ever again. Eventually she fell asleep with her head tucked under his chin, her ear to his chest listening to his heartbeat.

The morning came quicker than she thought it would. She was awake before he was, like always. She kissed him on the cheek by the ear before whispering, "Time to get up."

"Five more minutes," he grumbled. She kissed him again on the cheek working her way to his lips and then down his neck. "I need more sleep…"

"Well I'm getting up and getting dressed…if I can find my clothes."

She tried to get up, but he held her tighter, bringing her even closer to his chest. "I don't want you to go yet."

"I'm just going to get dressed."

"I know! You know I don't much care for seein' your beautiful body bein' covered by clothes!"

"I can't walk this ship naked!"

"If it were up to me you would."

She laughed and then kissed him behind the ear. He loosened his grip slightly, since that was a ticklish spot. It was enough to where she could slip out of his grasp.

"Not fair!" he growled.

She laughed and then started getting dressed. He rolled out of bed muttering about how unfair it was that she knew his every weakness. She was amused by his barely audible ranting. They both got dressed and ready to start the day. She straightened his collar while he shaved and then fixed his uneven sleeves before wrapping her arms around his waist and pressing her cheek against his shoulder. He grinned and set his electric razor down, taking her hands in his. He pulled her around so she was standing in front of him.

"Ready to start the day?" he asked.

She pulled him down into a quick kiss and then breathed onto his lips, "I am now."

He smiled and kissed her once more before they both left his bunk. It was River's turn to make breakfast, so Mal decided to pitch in. He didn't know the first thing about cooking, unless you count the meal packets he got while in the army. She was making the protein pancakes and he was put in charge of the protein oatmeal. He added too much water and then burned it, so she took that over and had him just hand her the ingredients.

"I can fly ships, shoot guns, hell, I even beat a guy in a sword fight, but I can't cook!" he fumed.

"I can think of a few other things you can do too," she said with a suggestive tone in her voice. He laughed.

"Let's not go there 'til later darlin'."

"I was talking about closing business deals."

"Surrreeee you were."

"You sound skeptical."

"Do I?"

"You do."

"I am. You sure you was talkin' about 'business deals', albatross?"

"Maybe more like meetings."

He smiled and wrapped his arms around her midsection while she stirred the batter. He nuzzled her temple with his nose before kissing her cheek. He moved his lips across her jaw line, stopping to kiss her throat. She giggled and started squirming to get away from his torturous kisses.

"This got us in trouble last time!" she reminded him in between laughs.

"You know my weaknesses, and I know yours little one." He moved his mouth back to her ear and whispered playfully, "Payback."

She leaned against him and then turned so he could kiss her on the lips, which he did happily. They stopped their public displays of affection as the other crew members started flowing in. Zoe was up first, followed by Inara, then Simon and Kaylee, last being Jayne like it almost always was.

Breakfast was easy going for the most part. Mal got a death stare from Simon when he put his arm across the back of River's chair, even if it was only for a moment to reach across the table to give Jayne a high five for a joke he told. River got the same treatment from Inara when she playfully shoved Mal after a comment about her cooking. Mal and River were walking on thin ice around Simon and Inara. River could hear their thoughts. They were red hot, burning with anger and in Inara's case, jealousy. They should not be together, and they won't be for long. He doesn't deserve my mei mei. Simon thought. Look at them together. That should have been us. He won't be with her once I'm done with him. Inara thought angrily. This disturbed River more than she could put into words. She didn't know what they were planning, but she hoped that it wouldn't work.