Author's Note: Hey there! I know. It's not another chapter for "The Color Spectrum", but I wrote this awhile back while yellow was still bothering me to try and break the monotony. It's a little something (aren't they all, in my case?) that's been waiting to be typed up and posted for awhile now. This (meaning Mal/River) isn't really my thing (to write, anyway) and I honestly don't know where exactly it came from, but please give it a chance. It doesn't suck, I promise! Well, I may be a little biased. Just read and find out for yourself.

Music Suggestions: (What can I say? I can never get a feel for Firefly music-wise. What the heck, I'll just tell you what I was listening to as I wrote it.) 'Apology' by Safetysuit, 'Hold your breath' by Kiros.

Disclaimer: It's the same every time. If I'm posting here for you all to read and enjoy, then I don't actually own it.

Sneaking a Peek

He never quite understood how, but he could always feel her penetrating stare whenever she thought he wasn't looking. Now knowing that there were such things as brain-washed killing machines and readers, he wouldn't put it past the universe to give him a sixth sense when it came down to it.

"You know it's rude to stare at someone when you think they're not aware of it, little Albatross." Mal said casually as he inspected his trusted firearm, his back still turned to her.

River smiled slightly from her perch on the catwalk, knowing full well he could always sense her. She was so jealous of him in that regard. It was as if the tables were turned when it came to him. She could only sense the vaguest of his emotions. Never his thoughts. But somehow, he always knew whenever she was near. It didn't make any sense to her at all.

She'd never had a problem reading a person before. He was the first. It both troubled her and excited her at the same time. It gave her comfort knowing that he didn't expect anything from her and gave nothing in return to addle her mind. In that regard, he was like a nice, warm security blanket to her. However, there were times when she wished she had the choice. It was nice to sneak a peek into a man's mind once in a while to see how things were fairing. It was always good to be prepared.

Not that she ever feared the captain doing anything remotely harmful to her. He even tried to protect her on occasion. And while they both knew it was unnecessary, she still appreciated his efforts more so than her brother's, which at this point had become mildly irritating. Because there were some things one didn't want her overprotective big brother knowing.

After Serenity, her mind started healing. Still a might bit crazy without a doubt, but well enough to be left to her own devices, something of which Simon had a problem understanding. But he was trying and that was enough for her. For now.

She also started seeing things and feeling emotions she'd never experienced, let alone felt, before. Simon started spending more time with Kaylee. Kaylee was part of the reason why her brother didn't hover as much anymore. But then she started watching how her brother began acting around Kaylee. Some of Kaylee's thoughts pertaining to her brother were rather interesting and colorful to say the least and River was curious. How could she not be? Some of the things they did together when they thought they were alone looked rather fun and exciting to experience. And while she didn't fully understand what they were doing or why, they sparked ideas in her own mind. Sensations she wished to experience for herself.

Something else she didn't fully comprehend was why she thought of the captain when she entertained such thoughts. She knew that it was probably wrong to do so, but in a way, that made the forbidden thoughts even sweeter. What would it feel like with his head pressed against her bare chest, teasing her breasts with his mouth and hands? Or to feel his hips pressing firmly into hers as his entire body intimately pressed hers into the floor?

The aforementioned parts of her body began to tingle in anticipation as she began to gracefully climb down from the catwalk. She soundlessly flipped over the guardrail onto the crates stacked high a few feet below, stepping down each level as if they were a gilded stairway leading her to a position right behind the captain.

"Kaylee was right." River stated whimsically moments later, her gaze drifting downward.

"That'd be a first." Mal supplied in a deadpan tone, not at all surprised by the fact that she'd snuck up behind him without a sound once again. "And just what was Kaylee right about, Albatross?"

"You really can stare at that tush all day long." River replied, head tilting to one side. "I also understand the 'Captain Tightpants' phrase now."

Cursing in Chinese, Mal spun around, covering his rear end with his hands as he did so. "Who told you that?" Mal asked, tone a mix of anger and horror.

"I overheard Kaylee talking to Zoe once. I wasn't able to connect the other phrase until just now." River answered, circling around him in an appraising fashion. "She didn't say whom she was speaking of, so I took to observing all the men present onboard. I first tried my brother since she is so partial to all of his body parts." Mal began shaking his head fearfully, while looking slightly nauseated. That was obviously information he didn't care to know about. "But he is my brother and it felt strange staring at his posterior for too long. Jayne is a fine specimen and while I did enjoy staring at his backside, it didn't hold my attention for very long before my curiosity drifted elsewhere."

Mal continued to watch her uncomfortably as she circled around him.

"And then I got to you. I had found the subject in question. It is quite fun actually. Considering your height to weight ratio, your muscle tone, and the way you carry yourself, there is no way a woman cannot resist staring." River finished, standing still before him.

Mal stood there dumbfounded for a moment. Where did she get these thoughts? He had no idea how to respond. "Um...thanks?" Mal then paused, clearing his throat and straightening his spine, looking down at her authoritatively. "I mean...a "woman" should not stare at a man's...bits without his permission, dong ma?" Mal continued haltingly.

How else was he supposed to respond? He felt that he should reprimand her, but there were several instances in the past where she just didn't know any better. On the other hand, she was nineteen years old and apparently somewhat knowledgeable in the arena she was referring to. She was bound to discover what sex was and all the trimmings that went along with it. It was just a little startling that she was directing all of this at him. At this point, he wasn't quite sure if he should feel outraged or flattered that she had done so. What scared him was that he kind of liked her attention and her rather positive opinion on his physique. He had no right indulging either her or her thoughts the way he was considering, at the present.

The girl, he didn't feel entirely comfortable calling her a woman, was entirely and completely out of his league. There was no way he'd be able to keep up with her, even if she weren't as super-soldiered out as she was. She didn't need an old man like him holding her back. And then there was the brother. There would be no end to the backlash he'd receive. They may be on more tolerable terms these days, but that didn't stop the doctor from being a tad overprotective of his only baby sister.

She needed someone her own age. Someone that could understand her better. And he was quite overdue on hiring a new pilot. River couldn't stay at that post forever and she was rather useful in the field. He'd have to hire a young, strapping, experienced pilot on the next planet they landed on. River deserved to be happy. And if it was that kind of attention she was starting to crave, then he'd find someone for her.

Because it sure as hell couldn't be him.

However, it couldn't be helped if no one could be found to his strict specifications. Because if there was one thing he and Simon had in common, he was just as protective over what was his and was in no hurry to share.

What was it about all the females on his boat? Couldn't he find one woman that he could actually take to bed and not worry about the consequences?

River stared on curiously at the captain as he just stood there, looking at something intently just over her shoulder with a menace. Right now was one of those times she wished she could read his thoughts and know what he truly wanted.

"Understood." River answered fluidly, striding past him and his unreadable expression. She paused as she reached the hatch leading to the cockpit.

Turning slightly to look over her shoulder, she asked without recourse, "So does that mean I have permission?"

oooooovooo*oooooouooo*ooooooaooo

I know, it's something totally silly. But it's been antagonizing me for quite long enough. Every time I flipped though my notebook, I saw it mocking me to type it up. So this is my first contribution to the Mal/River Serenity fandom. Anyhoo. Hope you enjoyed!