It was sunset. River looked up at the sky to see a moon shining brilliantly against the orange sky.

"It's a full moon," she commented.

"Well, I conjure it is."

"What was that with Albert back there?"

"Just wanted to dance with you."

"You could have waited."

"Didn't feel like it."

"I've seen you watching us."

"Well, just bein' protective of my albatross is all."

"My albatross?"

He stopped abruptly. His face felt hot and his mouth was suddenly dry.

"I…it…I meant…"

She looked at him with those eyes. His mind went blank. She was so incredible, shining like a gem. She had no idea how much she meant to him.

He looked at her with those blue eyes. Her heart stopped. He was so handsome, rare like a jewel. He had no idea how much he meant to her.

If only he could work up the courage to just kiss her…

If only she could just work up the nerve to tell him…

He reached out and put his hand on her face. She felt a jolt of electricity surge through her at his touch. He bent down, his intentions clear. He was going to kiss her. Malcolm Reynolds was going to kiss River Tam. She closed her eyes and so did he. She could feel his breath. Transitory at best. Her eyes flew open and she backed up.

"Captain," she began. He stood there sheepishly looking back at the girl that had stolen his heart. "I…we…can't."

"River-"

"No. Transitory," she babbled, now getting upset.

"Transitory?" he asked, recalling that night by the pond.

"The moon and the sun."

"They can never be" she had said. Finally her metaphor made sense.

"Are you saying that we're like the sun and the moon?" Mal asked.

"We are. You're the sun and I'm the moon."

-Flashback "The sun is cherished, seen, appreciated, loved. It gives life to everything and warmth. It is a symbol of hope. 'In the darkness, you are my light.' Everyone loves the light. The moon, or moons, is not. It lights the sky, but not like the sun. It isn't seen. It doesn't give warmth, only light. Enough light to see, nothing more."-

"You aren't the moon, darlin'." The softness in his voice surprised them both.

"I am. Jayne calls me 'Moonbrain'."

"Don't make it true. Sweetheart, you can't be a moon."
"Why not?"

"You said the moon ain't loved."

She felt a lump rising in her throat.

"River…I…I don't get it. I don't get a lot of things. I ain't ever been in the top three percent…top twenty. But I…lately…for a while now…seems somethin's changed. I don't know how you feel, hell how I even feel half of the time, but you have this hold on me or somethin'. I'm always lookin' at you or thinkin' about lookin' at you or thinkin' about you lookin' at me or…lookin' at you lookin' back at me…or just you…what I'm tryin' to get out is that I have these feelings, and I don't know what to do. You're a mite younger and I doubt you've ever looked at me as more than a captain, but I still, even though I shouldn't, find myself wantin' you more than I should. And I appreciate and cherish and see you. You're light and warmth to me and if that don't make you a sun, I don't know what does."

He was so adorably clumsy. She slowly slid her hands under his suspenders and then wrapped her hands around them, pulling him down towards her, their gaze locked. At the last second, they closed their eyes and let their lips meet with a fiery passion they had never known before. They only pulled apart when they needed air.

"I don't have anything as articulate to say as you did, but I want you to know that you have always been my sun."

He smiled. "Who could of thought that we'd be here, admittin' we love each other by comparin' each other to objects in space?"

She laughed. He pulled her towards him, wrapping his arms around her. She put her arms around him too, and leaned against him happily. He kissed the top of her head.

"How's about we go back to that party now?" he asked into her hair.

"Sounds good, Cap-"

"It's Mal. Now that we're together 'n all, I think we can be on a first name basis."

She giggled again. "Sure…Mal." He loved the way she said his name. There was no way, now way in Shepherd's Special Hell that this was transitory.

They walked back to the party. River got pulled away by the children. They had taken a liking to her. She had at least seven of them all dancing around her. Mal watched, laughing quietly. Simon walked over to Mal.

"How's married life?" Mal asked.

"Amazing," he beamed.

He followed Mal's gaze to River. "She's so radiant today, isn't she?" Simon asked. Mal smiled wider than Simon had ever seen him smile before.

"Yeah, brighter than the sun…"

****

The end