-Crack-

Malcolm Reynolds rolled over, attempting to bury his face in his pillow to block out the thunderstorm. A storm was rarely so bad that they had to stay planet-side to avoid going through the clouds. Sadly, just like the way their luck had been going lately, it was one of those rare times. They couldn't go anywhere but it wasn't like they had to be someplace.

-CrackCrackCrack-

He rarely slept on a normal night, toss in a thunderstorm and he might as well have taken three uppers with ten cups of coffee. He hated storms. The ship-shaking thunder was driving him crazy. Almost out of habit, he'd count in between the loud popping sounds to see if the storm was coming or going. He used to do that back on Shadow when he was just a boy. Three…four…fi-

-Crack-

"Bang, flash. Like a gun. Pull the trigger. Bang, flash. Bullet goes," a quiet voice said from somewhere uncomfortably close to him.

He flipped over reaching desperately for the light. He found it, although he already had a pretty good idea who it was.

"River? What in ruttin' hell are you doin' in my gorram bunk in the middle of the night?" he growled as he rubbed his eyes.

"Thunder and lightning…very very frightening…" she explained simply in a melodic tone.

"What-"

-Crack-

She visually flinched although she had already been trembling. He didn't know that she was afraid of storms.

"Not usually. Just this one," she replied having fished the thought from his mind.

"That still don't explain why you're in my bunk."

-Crack-

She jumped again. He couldn't help feeling a little sorry for her. In any case, she entered his bunk and was sitting on his bed without his consent.

"Afraid, Captain."

He almost said, "Then why don't you go find your brother?" but he stopped after he remembered that the doc was taking to bed with Kaylee almost every night. Seeing his little albatross there all sorts of scared and trembling got to him. He must be losing his edge.

"It's just a storm," he said weakly hoping to somehow help her out.

"We'll pass through it soon enough," she quoted. She always took his words to heart. He had to admit, it made him happy to know that someone listened. Sure Zoe did, but River—she hung off his every word.

"Yeah. It's just gonna-"

-Crack-

She leapt again. He went to put his hand on her shoulder hesitating at first, but then carried through. She was cold and…wet? He felt her hair. It was soaked.

"Why are you wet?"

"Went outside."

"WENT OUTSIDE? WHAT WERE YOU THINKIN'?" he stopped yelling and collected himself to get back to the calm, "It's just a storm" sentiment.

"Couldn't feel the rain inside. Couldn't see the lights. Besides, Kaylee forgot a part on the ground. I had to go get it. Saw the lightning and got scared."

She wasn't trembling, she was shivering. He grabbed a blanket from at his feet and wrapped it around her. Since when did he take care of anyone, let alone his odd little pilot?

"Because you're nice," she stated matter-of-factly as her gaze met his for the first time since she spoke.

-Crack-

He felt her jolt under his hand, which was still resting on her shoulder.

"Like a gun. Bang. Flash. Dead. No touching guns. Recipe for unpleasantness," her voice shook as much as she did.

"Not a gun, darlin'. Just a storm like any other."

"Perfect storm. Keeps us here. Too dangerous to fly through. Not like any other."

She had a point.

-CrackCrack-

She jumped the highest she had since she got there and turned towards him with wide eyes.

"May I stay?"

He swallowed the lump in his throat. His tongue felt heavy and he lost the ability to form words. Then he remembered his current state of undress. No shirt, short pajama bottoms, and he'd only be separated from her by a thin sheet…that's only if she stayed on top of it. But then there was another bout of thunder and the terrified look in her eyes made him finally regain the ability to talk.

"You can stay." He'd deal with Simon later…

"Thank you, Captain."

She settled beside him, not touching him or even that close at first. They kept the invisible barrier up for a little while until yet another bit of thunder made her scoot closer to him. Before he knew what was happening, she was tucked flush up against him under the sheet with her small hand in the center of his chest and her head resting on his shoulder. He put his arm around her because it was the only comfortable position.

-CrackCrack-

He felt her breathing change against his flesh.

"It's okay darlin'. Can't get you in here."

She relaxed at his words. He kept muttering reassurances until she fell asleep.

The rain pelted against the bulkhead making taptaptaptaps along with the loud cracks of thunder. He thought that he'd never get to sleep, but something about her steady breathing and her presence pacified him until he too fell into a light slumber with the little killer girl wrapped tightly in his arms.

He felt her move out of his grasp subconsciously and the blanket being draped over him. She was on her way towards the ladder when he sat up at full alert.

"Where are you goin'?"

"Back to my room."

Why did he wish the storm was still raging on?

"Right. Right…so er…you're okay now?" he asked awkwardly.

-CrackCrack-

She paused, waiting for the-

-CrackCrrrraaaccckkk-

He pulled the sheet back without a word and she slipped in beside him. He tucked the blanket around them both. She cuddled up against him just like she was before and he held her even tighter as the ship shook with the loudest thunder yet. He swore that he could see the lightning even in his bunk. She clung to him and he impulsively kissed the top of her head.

"It's alright, darlin'…" he murmured into her hair. She nodded as another loud bit echoed through the still night air.

"Should storm more," she said sleepily into his neck.

"Conjure it might. It's bad out there."

"No, it should storm more often."

"I thought you were afraid of these things."

"Sometimes, but-"

-CrcrcRAACCKK-

She wrapped her arm around him to draw him closer to her if at all possible.

"But what?" he asked, curiosity getting the better of him.

"I like cuddling with you."

His heart practically stopped. What could he say back to that? He couldn't give her the wrong idea.

"River, I like you a lot, but we can't…you know…this is just a one time deal…sorry if I gave you the wrong notion…"

He waited for a response. He was starting to freak out when she didn't say anything, but then he realized that she had fallen asleep. She looked all manner of peaceful sleeping like she was. Adorable too. Natural-like. Like she belonged right there. With him.

His eyelids started to droop after a little while. The girl's breathing was a ruttin' lullaby. He mindlessly played with her hair waiting to doze off yet again. He smiled to himself thinking, It should storm more…

The end

It's storming here right now and I thought hmm…INSPIRATION! Ha-ha :) Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!