She ran her soft hand down his chest before gently planting a trail of kisses up to his neck.

"You're gonna kill me," he muttered while his eyes were still shut.

She laughed and kept kissing his neck and then down his jaw.

"I'm too old for another round. I need sleep," he grumbled.

"You're not old, you're refined."

She lightly hand her finger across a crease on his forehead before tracing the lines around his mouth with her own. He pulled her into a bear hug.

"We've got a three month old to watch tomorrow, I conjure we'll need our rest…" he breathed into her hair.

"I guess you're right."

He was ready to attempt to go back to sleep, but she spoke again.

"It's too bad though. I was in the mood for that thing-"

He opened his eyes. "You mean-"

"Yes. Oh well."

She laughed at the thoughts running through his mind and then gave him a kiss goodnight.

"Gorramit, you are gonna kill me!"

"Goodnight Mal."

"Goodnight darlin'."

They both fell into a restful sleep. The alarm woke them up some hours later. River shut it off and got out of bed to get ready for the day. She started humming which woke Mal up. He smiled and then hopped out of bed awkwardly. She laughed as he caught himself tenuously on the ladder.

"You have no grace," she snickered.

"That's why I got you. The way I see it, I don't got grace or brains and I ain't much to look at but you do and are so it evens out."

"I have a problem with your logic."

"You do?"

"You are something to look at and you do have brains. I don't dispute the grace part though."

He laughed. "Thanks…I think…"

She gave him a kiss before getting onto the ladder. "Don't mention it."

He smiled at her and then got dressed. He made sure to slip the box into his pocket, but avoid thinking about it. He didn't want his reader figuring out his plans. This had to be a surprise.

He emerged in the kitchen moments later. Kaylee was sitting at the table with Ricky. She was tired, but glowing. Simon was standing by the coffee looking dead or at least close to it. River sat beside Kaylee and said hello to her nephew while Mal made his way over to the counter.

"Rough night?" Mal asked.

"Yes…he has Kaylee's energy…" Simon said with a faint smile and a look towards his wife and son. "Mal, thank you for looking after Ricky today."

"Don't mention it. Have fun planet-side."

"We will."

They looked over at Kaylee, River, and Ricky. They were laughing.

"So, are you enjoyin' bein' a daddy?" Mal asked.

"Yes. It's different than I expected it to be, but in the best way possible."

"How's it different?"

"I have never felt so much love in my entire life. It's beyond anything I could fathom before."

"That's somethin'…" Mal smiled.

"It is."

Mal decided to go join the girls. He lightly kissed River on the forehead before sitting next to her.

"Ricky, you get to spend the day with your Aunt River and Uncle Mal! Ain't that shiny?" Kaylee asked her son. He seemed to smile in response.

Jayne came bounding in.

"Heya squirt," he grunted as he went for the coffee.

"Um, Mal…could you keep my son away from Jayne?" Simon asked.

Jayne scowled and plopped down at the table with a thud.

"Don't worry that smart head of yers, Doc. I'm takin' Zoe planet-side for some drinkin' and gamblin'."

"Bring my first mate back in one piece, a mostly sober piece. Okay?" Mal asked.

"Aw Mal! Yer takin' away all the gorram fun!"

"Speakin' of Zo, where is she?" Mal asked.

"Fell asleep on the bridge," River stated.

"Why would Zoe want to spend the day with you?" Simon asked with emphasis.

"Why wouldn't she?"

"Well, you're a-"

"Simon! Don't be mean in front of Ricky!" Kaylee snapped.

"You're right. I'm sorry," Simon sighed as he kissed Ricky on the top of the head.

Zoe came in looking sleep deprived. She went straight for the coffee.

"I hear you're spendin' a day out planet-side with Jayne," Mal commented.

"I figured why the hell not there will be drinkin',Sir."

"Hell yes," Jayne agreed. "Let's get goin'! I wanna get shootin' so we can hurry up to the drinkin' part."

"I have to get cleaned up first. Then we can."

"Get cleanin' then!"

Zoe rolled her eyes and headed off towards her bunk.

"Don't come back too wasted!" Mal called after her.

She acknowledged him with a hand motion that resembled a wave and then vanished into her bunk.

"We should get going too," Simon agreed.

"Mommy's gonna miss you! Be shiny. Don't give your Aunt River and Uncle Mal a hard time. Mommy and Daddy love you!" she kissed him on the forehead and handed him to Simon.

"Don't do anything I wouldn't do," Simon smiled as he placed another kiss on his forehead before handing him to River.

"That isn't fair, Simon. Ricky won't be able to do anything fun under that rule!" River teased.

"You are such a brat!"

River just smiled slyly at him. He rolled his eyes with a faint smirk. He took Kaylee's hand.

"Bye River! Bye Cap'in! Thank you!"

Kaylee stopped to give Mal a kiss on the cheek. River glared at her.

"Have fun, mei mei…" Mal said happily.

"Have fun Kaylee, with your husband."

"What's that s'pposed to mean?" Kaylee asked.

"Just reminding you that you're married."

"She's jealous," Mal laughed.

"Shut up," River shot back.

"Make me."

She leaned in and kissed him effectively shutting him up. Simon rushed over and playfully covered Ricky's eyes.

"Don't watch! You're too young!"

River punched Simon in the arm. He laughed. "Goodbye, River. Keep it innocent around my son please."

He half hugged her and then followed Kaylee towards the cargo bay.

"Hear that darlin'? Innocent."

"Since when can you two be innocent?" Jayne snorted.

River and Mal turned their attention to him. He looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Luckily Zoe arrived.

"We gotta go. Bye," Jayne muttered as he made his quick exit.

"What got into him?" Zoe asked.

"Just go…" Mal sighed.

Zoe didn't ask and followed after him.

"So…" he grinned.

"So…" she replied.

They smiled and went in for another kiss when Ricky started crying.

"Ricky needs to be changed," River looked at Mal wickedly. "Would you like to?"

"I…" he stopped and searched her eyes. It was a challenge. "Okay."

He took Ricky down to Simon and Kaylee's bunk with River. She showed him how to change a diaper, after which he felt like vomiting. River laughed at him and then sat down on a rocker with Ricky in her arms.

Mal leaned against the bulkhead and watched her rock for a moment or two. She was a natural. He could tell that she was completely in love with her little nephew. He swallowed hard and tried to avoid thinking about it directly as he gripped the box in his pocket.

"Do you want kids one day?" he began. She looked up and grinned. It was grin that lit up the room.



"Two girls and a boy."

"Now would you mind if these little ones of yours had DNA that was half mine?"

"Not at all," she beamed.

"See, I conjure if we're gonna have three kids…" she tried to read him, but his mind was unusually hard to read. "There's somethin' we have to do first."



"What might this 'something' be?"

"We'd have to make this all official like. That is, if…" he sank to his knees in front of the rocker. "If'n you'd be willin' to be married to a mean old man like myself."

She couldn't breathe or think. She could only smile.

"So, will you marry me?"

He pulled the box out with a pretty ring inside. She nodded with a breathless, "Yes."

He broke out into his idiot grin and kissed her. Ricky started squirming as if to say "Remember me?"

"I think he's a mite jealous," Mal mused.

"I think so."

River got up and put him in his crib. Her dress accidently brushed against Mal as she went. After she put Ricky in his crib she sank beside Mal and pulled him into a deeper kiss. After they broke apart he slid it onto her finger and she smiled again.

"I love you, Malcolm Reynolds…" she said with happy tears in her eyes.

"I love you too."

They kissed again. She threaded her fingers through his hair and pulled him towards her.

"Remember the part 'bout keepin' it innocent 'round your nephew?" he whispered onto her lips.

"I could care less right now. I'm getting married," she laughed as she kissed him again. "To you…" she added in a whisper.

He grinned handsomely and wrapped his arms around her. "I feel the same, sweetheart."