Firefly. Mal/River. 100 tales prompt #033 Birthday.

It's River's birthday and she's reached the age of majority. Post-Serenity

"Did you enjoy your birthday, little one?" Mal asked as he poured another glass of wine for River. They'd gone all out for it, gotten wine and actual cake, and some balloons (Jayne seemed to have taken most of them to his cabin when he went to bed, for reasons Mal didn't even want to think about). He and she were the only ones left in the kitchen. Inara had sent a wave, being away with a client, while Simon and Kaylee had made excuses to retire early.

"Yes," she said. "Thank you." Her hand went to the pendant at her throat, the gift the whole crew had chipped in to buy. A sapphire of the deepest blue that matched her favourite dress, on a chain that, like the girl herself, looked delicate but was surprisingly strong.

"Woman," she said and Mal started. "I'm not a girl now. The age of majority on many planets is 16, on some 17, on the rest 18. All but Dinan, where it is 21, but no-one pays attention to what they think."

Mal nodded and sat down, replenishing his own glass. "To adulthood," he said.

River toasted with him. "Now it's not wrong," she said. "Those thoughts you have, where you're not my protector, my father figure, the one's where you wonder what it would be like to kiss me, to hold me other than in a mere comforting embrace."

Mal looked at the table. She put out one hand and touched his wrist.

"I've known for a long time and I've said nothing. I knew you felt angry at yourself that you had such feelings and how you knew you could never act on them. But now this day, this date of arbitrary decree by governments you care nothing for, this moment that marks my adulthood, now this makes it all right."

"Simon would kill me," Mal said.

River laughed. "He might try," she acknowledged. "Let me handle my brother, Mal. Now, it is my birthday for another hour. I want you to make my wish come true."

"What wish might that be?" Mal asked, "Me not being a mind reader?"

"Kiss me," she said. And when he did, there was a moment of connection; a taste of what River felt every day, a meeting of minds and souls, if one were taken to such notions. And a physical arousal that could not be denied.

"I waited," Mal whispered. "I'm a good man and I waited."

"I know. I know," she soothed. "Don't hold back anymore."

He gathered her in his arms and took her to his cabin.