Of The Night

The juice is sweet and some of it dribbles down her chin. Usually she is a very elegant eater. She likes to think she is poised in most of what she does. A few too many glasses of Kaylee's wine has done away with that grace tonight however and it is amazing anything at all is getting to her mouth.

Beside her, Mal chortles as he picks up another strawberry and holds it out to her. She can feel the laughter burble inside of her as it makes its way out to the open. And then there is a moment of silence as she leans in close and bites down on the strawberry Mal is offering, without a second thought about consequences and what she is doing.

Another stream of juice rolls down her face. Mal slides the length of his finger over her skin to wipe it clean. His eyes on hers, he takes his finger into his mouth and sucks on it.

She swallows the hunk of strawberry in her mouth, whole, and proceeds to splutter. There is no grace in the action at all.

"You 'kay?" Mal pats her on the back until her coughing ceases and she quietens.

She nods. "I'm fine. Thanks."

"Sure," he says and then he grins. "This is nice. 'cept the near choking, I mean."

"Indeed," she agrees. Smiling softly, she lies back and stares up at the starts in the open sky. She reaches for another strawberry – instead her hand finds his.

Warm fingers close around each other.

"Inara?"

"Mmm?

She listens for his answer but all he does is sigh in contentment.

A smile on her face, she closes her eyes and breathes in the heady scent of wine and strawberries, of Mal and of the night.

fin.