"It's gettin' late," he commented as he lightly ran his hand down her arm making her shiver happily under his delicate touch.

They were still together on the couch and everyone else had gone off to bed.

"It is," she agreed, completely content right where they were.

"Are you tired?"

"A little. Are you?"

"A bit."

She looked up at him with a typical River look. It spelled stubbornness.

"I'm not going to bed unless you're asleep right next to me."

"Darlin', we've just admitted how we felt. I don't think it'd be right 'n proper."

"Just sleeping. Since when are you 'right and proper' anyways?"

She had a point.

"Please? What if I have a nightmare?"

She looked at him with those big eyes. He broke down…again.

"Fine! But if Simon kills me, it's on you."

She smiled triumphantly and took his good arm. They went to her room where they crawled into her bed together fully dressed. She set her head on his chest and draped her arm across him. He smiled and put his arm around her and then kissed her on the top of the head.

"Goodnight, sweetheart."

"Not good enough, Mal…" she said playfully as she went for his lips. They kissed and then she settled back down against the rise and fall of his chest.

They both fell asleep and slept better than they had in years.

They woke up the next morning grinning from ear to ear. Before he could even say, "Good morning" she had kissed him again. He ran his hand through her silky hair, effectively deepening the kiss.

"That's the best good mornin' I've ever had," he whispered against her cheek. She giggled and then got out of bed. He sat up, slightly disappointed their time together had ended.

"Not for long," she sang with another giggle.

"In my head again, are you?"

"Maybe."

He got up and kissed her neck, thinking about something to make her laugh. When she did, he knew she was playing around in his thoughts again.

"Caught you," he chuckled.

"I can't help it! Your thoughts are fun to read!" she cried defensively.

"Truthfully darlin', I don't mind a gorram bit." She smiled. "That ain't an invite though."

"I know."

"I should go get cleaned up," he sighed.

Before he made it out of the door, she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him on the cheek.

"Not good enough, River…" he teased as he snaked his arms around her waist. They shared the most passionate kiss yet. He stumbled back into the doorway to catch himself from the sheer force of it.

"Was that enough?" she asked sweetly.

"I don't think it ever will be."

She blushed and then he flashed a grin before going to his bunk to get cleaned up.

He got to the breakfast table to find that only Zoe was awake.

"Morning, Sir."

She was grinning widely. He gave her a curious look and then moved to the coffee.

"What has you all smiles?" he asked.

"I could say the same."

He hadn't realized that he had been grinning like an idiot again.

"You first," he insisted.

"I think we're grinning for the same reason."

"I doubt it."

"Really?" she asked suggestively.

"River and I are together," he explained with that goofy grin. He tried to make it go away, but it wouldn't.

"I take it you told her."

"I did."

"Congratulations, Sir."

"Why are you smilin', Zo?"

"Because I saw you and River kissin' last night and I know for a fact that you didn't sleep in your bunk."

"Hey! Whoa! Wait a minute!"

"I saw you comin' from the passenger dorms this mornin'. I was there myself checkin' in on our passenger. I saw you and her in the doorway all-"

"I'm gonna stop you right there. Yes okay. I was there, but it was only sleepin' I swear!"

"I've never seen you so rejuvenated after a night's sleep."

"I've never felt this way 'fore. It's a time for never's to happen apparently."

"I'm happy for you," she said genuinely.

River came dancing in gracefully while humming a song that sounded familiar to Mal.

"Hey there. What are you hummin'? It sounds a mite familiar."

"That's because you were humming it."

"When?"

"This morning on your way up the steps."

"Huh, I was hummin'?"

"You were."

"Zoe, I'm grinnin' like an idiot and hummin' now. I'm concerned somethin' is very wrong with me."

"There wasn't anything wrong before?" Zoe asked skeptically. River laughed. "Sorry, I couldn't resist."

"No, you could of. You just…didn't."

River laughed at Mal's response, knowing it was completely true. She got a cup of coffee and then gave him a light kiss on the mouth before sitting down. She knew that Zoe knew, so she wasn't concerned. Zoe gave Mal an amusing look after though. Mal just shrugged and started humming on his way to the table.

He bypassed his usual spot at the head of the table so he could sit next to River.

"So Zo, how's our prisoner…'passenger' doin'?" Mal asked.

"As good as can be expected considerin' we're dumpin' him on Whitefall."

"The look on his face was priceless! Can you picture that dandy livin' with them folk?" he laughed.

"They're going to eat him alive," River said while attempting to suppress a giggle. It slipped out anyway.

"Are we literally just gonna dump him in the desert?" Zoe asked.

"That's the plan anyhow," he shrugged. "Why? Does it bother you?"

"It seems too nice," Zoe sighed.

"He helped us get our albatross back. It's least we could do."

River beamed as he slid his arm around her and kissed the top of her head.

Jayne wandered in looking half asleep. He didn't notice that Mal and River were awfully cozy. He went straight for the liquor and then the coffee.

"No one's cookin' anything yet?" he grunted.

"He has a point. I'm on it," River sighed.

She got up and floated over to the kitchen. Mal got up and followed.

"I'll give you a hand with that."

"Do you even know how to cook anything?" she responded skeptically.

"Yes!"

"What?"

He paused. Zoe chuckled. He shot her a heated glance that made her laugh harder.

"I thought so."

"I'll learn as I go," he offered.

"Fine. If you insist."

He grinned and they started making breakfast. Jayne didn't figure out that Mal and River were together until they flat out kissed in front of him. The signs were there before that, he was just too blind to see it. However, he did suspect something was up when Mal wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her neck.

"Are you two…ya know?" he finally asked.

Mal looked at River and then at Jayne. "What gave us away?" he asked sarcastically.

"The kissin' is what! Her doc brother is gonna kill you with that hairpin he had fer that Mathis guy!"

Mal had considered that, but they were grown men. They could handle it like adults.

"Speakin' of Mathis, would you do me a kindness and drop by his cell…I mean 'room' and give him this protein bar?" Mal asked.

"Sure. I need to sharpen my knife anyhow."

He took the protein bar from Mal. He looked at Jayne worriedly.

"Not sharpen on him just in front of him all scary like."

"Whatever Jayne. I'm not askin', just keep him alive."

Jayne smiled and then disappeared towards the passenger dorms.

Kaylee came into the kitchen next.

"I smell food!" she exclaimed.

"We've been cookin'," Mal smiled. River cleared her throat with a classic River look. "She's been cookin' and I've been helpin'. Is that better?"

"Much," she nodded.

"Well I aim to please," he grinned.

Kaylee looked between the two of them with a sly smile on her face.

"You two ain't…together…are ya?" she asked.

Mal looked at River. "Don't tell Simon yet."

Kaylee let out a typical "I'm so happy" squeal and hugged them both tightly.

"This is all kinds of shiny! You two look so cute together!"

They both blushed and then got pulled into another hug.

"Who else knows?" Kaylee asked.

"Everyone…except Simon," River replied.

"Aw, he'll be fine with it. Maybe a lil upset, but it'll be just shiny! When, how, where did this happen?" Kaylee asked excitedly.

River looked at Mal with a smile. He nodded and she walked way with Kaylee and two plates of food to have some girl talk.

"Say Zo, would you mind-"

"Stayin' whilst you talk to Simon just in case? Not at all."

"Thanks. I can always count on you."

"Yes Sir, you can."

They sat down and had some breakfast. Simon hobbled in and got a plate of food silently and then joined them at the table.

"Morning," he said with a quick half smile.

"Mornin' to you too, Doc. I need to talk to you 'bout somethin' important," Mal began cautiously.

"Alright, what is it?"

"It's about River."

"Is she okay?"

"She's fine. This is more about River and me than just River."

Simon looked at him carefully.

"I love your sister and we're sorta together now as a couple."

He waited for the inevitable blow up and death threats. Surprisingly, neither came. Simon just nodded calmly.

"Okay."

"What?" Mal asked.

"River's an adult, she can make her own decisions. You say that you love her, if she feels the same, who am I to keep her from you? But, if you ever hurt her at all…I know over one hundred ways to kill you with these chopsticks."

"Understood, Doc."

"I'd also really appreciate it if you keep your 'private business' with my sister mostly private. The less I know about her sexing, the better."

Mal turned an impressive shade of scarlet and Zoe started laughing.

"Zhukou," Mal growled.

Instead of shutting up, Simon joined Zoe in their uncontrollable laughter. Jayne walked in.

"What?" he asked.

"I made Mal blush!" Simon roared.

Jayne snickered.

"Yeah, yeah. Very gorram funny!" Mal snapped. He got up and started walking away.

"Where are you goin'?" Zoe called.

"Escaping the laughter."

They resumed laughing as he vanished towards the bridge. Laughter and blushing aside, everyone took the news well and he couldn't have been happier about it.