NOTES: Written for LJ community: fanfic_bakeoff prompt #2: Tangle. I'm on Team Pie

#1 - 295

He loved when she took the initiative. With her on top like this he was free to run his fingers through all of that unruly hair. Oh she'd gotten better at keeping it up, but she was always exploring areas on his ship, getting herself into tight places, so no matter what she did it always ended up a tangled mess.

He tugged her to him, mouth meeting hers as she rode him to completion. There was something extra stimulating about doing it here in his captain's chair for the both of them. Perhaps it was the view of the sky, the stars they had. The black. Their world was a big one, always beckoning them both to run like the wind.

Her from the men with the blue hands.

Him from the god that had forsaken him back in the Valley years ago.

Funny, that with all that black out there, a world as vast as theirs and they'd managed to find one another. Neither wanted to put down roots yet had accumulated a family just the same.

No one on their ship except maybe Zoe could understand the ghosts they fled from daily. There were times the sex between them was needy to the point of almost being violent. More than once he'd come away with his chest marked by her nails or her pale skin showing a mark or two that suggested he might have been too rough. Neither complained or spoke of it because both knew that it was what the other needed at that moment to chase those ghosts away.

And one thing Mal Reynolds and River Tam had learned was that contrary to popular belief, ghosts can hurt you no matter how you try to prevent them from doing so.

#2 - 293

She cried out as her climax tore through her, taking her from Serenity and out into the black. He always did that to her. He was a silent one, but she thought the violent way his body shuddered above hers when he finished indicated she did the same for him.

She'd gone to him the first time out of necessity, needing to put the hurt she felt about Simon choosing someone else over her away as deeply as she could. He knew why she was there and without question or making a sarcastic remark had given her what she needed

Somehow after that first night, so thoroughly satisfied she couldn't even bother untangling her foot from the bed sheet that kept her prisoner in the mercenary's bed she'd remained until morning when both were coherent enough to set her free.

She'd come to realize there was more to him than most gave him credit for.

Same as her.

She was more than a mechanic. She didn't know things. Wasn't educated. Didn't have fancy clothes or manners, but she could be anything. At least Jayne made her think that when he said the things he did in the privacy of his bunk. He wasn't big on words but he didn't mince them neither.

She'd learned not to trust a man's words in bed. She'd wanted more than just sexing from Simon and he'd brought her belief in happily ever afters to a quick halt. Jayne didn't make her promises or shower her with pretty words, he didn't have to his actions spoke louder and would be less painful to have to forget when the time came. He said things as he saw them, spoke the truth, and Kaylee needed that now more than ever.

#3 - 299

He wasn't her first choice, but she had to admit he was the logical choice. Not that they were anything more than friends, contrary to what everyone else on Serenity thought.

They talked, they read to one another, they played chess, and they divulged secrets no one else on board could quite understand due to a difference in upbringing.

Inara had no idea how a simple business arrangement as renting shuttle space on this ship had led to her life getting interwoven so heavily with the current crew. She hadn't missed the hurt and confused look in Kaylee's eyes the first few times she'd seen Simon leaving her shuttle. She'd wanted to explain it wasn't a matter of physical attraction that had led him to her but like seeking out like.

Kaylee, no matter what she tried to do to prove otherwise, would always be a ship's mechanic. She could change clothes and clean up, but underneath that polished exterior would always lurk a woman who claimed parts of this ship spoke to her.

Simon hadn't been able - willing? - to compete with that. He'd wanted something more civilized and Inara craved a distraction from the feelings that warred through her whenever she saw Mal with River.

What was more, Simon never called her a whore. She couldn't say for sure he never thought it, but she was fairly certain that wasn't the case. He offered her less in some ways than Mal could, but he fulfilled so much more in her that the trade off was worth it.

Kaylee had moved on, the hurt look gone from her eyes. Inara still worked, Simon never once asking her to stop which led her to believe he wanted no more from her than she did from him.

For now.

#4 - 300

Zoe sat in her bunk, one side cold. Always cold. She was used to it by now, didn't mean she'd totally accepted it.

She knew what everyone else was doing onboard Serenity, was happy for them, too. It was times like this she was reminded of how alone she was and wondered if this was how Mal had felt seeing her with Wash.

She wasn't alone, Mal was good about seeing to it that she wasn't but there were times even he had to give up being the diligent sentry and get some sleep. Or tend to his woman, the relationship still new that Zoe got teary eyed when he did things that reminded her of Wash.

The men were different yet in this way it appeared not that different. She was glad to see him move past the companion. While she'd never read a tragedy she knew enough about them to know that a relationship between those two wouldn't end well at all. It couldn't possibly. Evidently, Mal had reached the same conclusion.

She just hadn't expected feelings for River to manifest into something he wanted to act upon. She'd sort of envisioned their life out here, the two of them until the bitter end, lives intertwined so heavily that neither could part from the other. Not a romantic entanglement, but one perhaps deeper in some ways.

Not that he was kicking her off Serenity, but for once in her life since knowing him, she might start to be second in his eyes.

There was that knot in her stomach again, like someone was pulling on the strings of her heart, tangling them up to where she couldn't think straight.

It was then that she gathered Wash's pillow to her and knew that finally she was ready to sleep.