Sensory Input

Author: malgalfan

Disclaimer: They're not mine, because if they were, we'd all still be watching them on TV!

Rating: PG

Summary: A little foray into descriptive language for Mal/Inara junkies.

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Mal's POV:

She comes to him in the night watches, the soft swish of her skirts tickling his ears and making the tiny hairs on the back of his neck stand at attention. Not just the hairs neither, he thinks, shifting in the pilot's seat with the sudden heaviness in his nether regions. She is light on her feet, and were it not for the silk she wears, she would come upon him in complete silence.

Not that she could ever completely catch him unawares, he knows, at least not as long as that scent hovers in the air around her, the slightest breeze filled with something she told him once was night-blooming jasmine, whatever that was. Sounds strangely erotic for a flower, he decides, but it matches her all the same. Erotic, exotic, and altogether too heady a mix to think on rationally, to his way of thinking.

Her skirts brush against the leg of his trousers as she comes to his side. He suppresses a small tremor. Her small hand lights almost casually on his shoulder, and fire spreads slowly through the rough fabric of his shirt. He clears his throat. "What brings you to the bridge this fine evenin', 'Nara?" he says tonight, just as he has said every night for awhile now.

"The view," she says, in standard answer.

"Is fine, at that," he replies, looking out into the Black to postpone the moment he knows will come, the moment when he will be unable to tear his eyes away from her.

She sighs a soft, feminine kind of exhalation, barely stirring the air as she lifts her skirts slightly and perches on the arm of his chair. "Peaceful," she replies as she slides her hand along the hard knot of his shoulders and curls her hand lightly around his neck.

He eases into the feel of her thighs resting so close to his own, her weight slight and yet impossible to ignore as she shifts minutely, sending jolts of pleasure into places that, until recently, have gone unpleasured for far too long to be easily admitted.

They sit, quiet for a long moment, poised on the edge of the precipice, close enough to feel the cool draft of the abyss and the paradoxical heat of the fire building between them. Mal licks his lips, anticipating the taste of her. She slides gracefully into his lap, and he wonders fleetingly how it is that the subtle movement of her hips can so completely spin him about. Acutely aware of her slightest change of position, he feels the steady rise and fall of her breasts against his suspenders.

And then, before he can quite catch his breath from the heaven of that sensation, her lips brush against the shell of his ear and the blood begins to pound loudly in his head. "I locked the door," she whispers, nibbling her way down his neck and along the line of his jaw.

"That so?" he rasps, his lips catching hers at just the corner of her mouth.

"Mmm hmm," she hums softly.

Sliding his fingers into the tangled silk of her hair, he pulls gently, tilting her head back. He lingers for a long while, slowly tasting the spiced honey of her lips, swollen and soft beneath his own. Like nectar maybe, he thinks, before she parts her lips and all thought save the undeniable truth that he is well and truly lost in her slips away.

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Inara's POV:

She walks toward the bridge, the feel of Serenity throbbing under the thin soles of her slippers. Somehow, through alchemy she cannot fathom, she knows that the steady throb of the ship's engine is synchronized perfectly with the beat of Mal's heart. She finds her own heart stutter for a slim moment, and then fall into a matching rhythm as she reaches the doorway of the bridge.

Once inside, she is immersed in the scent of the man, all gunpowder and leather, and she notices that her fingers tremble a little as she bolts the door closed. She draws a deep, steadying breath.

He sits, made of stone, looking out into the Black, and she can tell from the straight line of his shoulders that he has become aware of her presence. She pauses slightly, her eyes drinking in the firm line of his jaw, the subtle pulse beating at the junction of neck and shoulder, the slightly rumpled hair that lets her know at some point in this watch his fingers have run through it distractedly.

Her fingers twitch with the need to do the same, to trail languidly through the surprisingly soft hair above his Niska-scarred ear. It is perhaps, she thinks, the only part of him that is truly soft. Not that she would value softness in him so much, she ponders briefly. It is the hardness in him that makes him infinitely mysterious to her. Steel tempered with a strain of something else, something true and bright, something most precious among all men that she can scarcely name.

He clears his throat and asks the question that has become the start of their evening routine. "What brings you to the bridge this fine evenin', 'Nara?"

Her heart beats rapidly against her ribcage at the sound of his voice, gravelly and a little breathless at the same time. Wet heat pools at her core at the way he drawls her name.

"The view," she says, managing somehow to sound casual despite her body's treacheries.

"Is fine, at that," he concedes, refusing to look at her just yet. She, who has lived a life until recently centered almost entirely upon producing a certain result with her appearance, finds the small stubbornness oddly endearing. She sighs.

"Peaceful," she says, to fill the silence as she perches on the arm of his chair. Then, because she can deny it no longer, her hand slides along the rough fabric of his shirt and around his neck, curling there with the sheer pleasure of the feel of his warm skin against her cool fingers.

She feels the hardness of his thighs, pressed lightly against hers by their positions, and the sensation sets a fire uncoiling slowly deep in her belly. Mentally inventorying those long, lean angles of his that seem made exactly to counterbalance her softer curves, she can scarcely breathe for a long moment.

She slides into his lap with exquisite slowness, every nerve in her body attuned to the places their bodies are touching. Her breasts swell under the tight bodice of her gown, and she can feel the raised edges of his suspenders against them as she slowly breathes in and out.

Abruptly famished for the taste of him, she whispers softly in his ear, "I locked the door."

"That so?" he murmurs, his lips trailing fire along her cheek until he captures just the corner of her mouth.

"Mmm hmm," is all that she can manage past the pounding of her pulse in her ears as his lips begin to explore her mouth. Her eyes flutter shut the better to fix upon the taste of him, sharp like good whiskey and smooth as warm velvet all at once.

His fingers tangle into her hair, pushing pins aside with an abandon that leaves her strangely boneless in his arms. She feels the hard cord of his forearm against her back, each muscle delineated in sharp detail by her sensitive skin. He tilts her head back, and she leans back into the luxury of those strong arms, wildly intoxicated by the sensation and yet oddly comforted by it as well. She thinks, in that instant, that the reaction is one on which to meditate at some point. But then, with the thought only half-formed, it disappears as he kisses her more deeply. And in that moment when she cannot be completely certain where he ends and she begins, she knows somewhere deep in her soul that is as it should be.

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