Summary: Mal takes to exploring one night while Serenity is grounded and comes across quite a surprise.

Characters: Mal/River

Rated: PG

Disclaimer: It's Whedon's world, I'm just writing in it.

Please R&R.

It was late. Serenity was still and silent. All the ships crew members were asleep, save her captain, Malcolm Reynolds. Nothing unusual about that though, he often suffered bouts of restlessness, especially when there was something wrong with his ship.

Earlier that day Kaylee had announced that there was leaky compression valve that needed to be replaced ASAP or they'd be humped.

They didn't have a job coming up for at least a week so they set her down on the closest moon. It was already dark by the time they touched down , so nothing was going to be able to be down until daybreak. In the morning Kaylee and Jayne were going to go out and find a suitable replacement valve.

Mal was walking through the ship, he was ill at ease not hearing the usual hum coming from her. He didn't like a sleeping ship. He needed to hear her singing. Know she was alive.

Suddenly he felt the strong urge to get some fresh air. He opened up the hatch and slipped out. He closed his eyes against the breeze that hit him and breathed it in.

The air was dry and hot.

He looked at his surroundings. The land was pretty flat, but there was a range of mountains way off in the distance. But from where he was as long as he could see, seemed like desert.

Except for the pond a few yards away.

Which looked a might inviting in this heat.

With that thought he pulled his shirt over his head. He was just moving toward the water when it started to ripple.

Something was emerging.

Instinct had him put a hand on the gun on his belt.

He waited, breath held, for the sea creature to emerge.

Then the head of River Tam popped up and he sighed, letting his hand relax.

He was about to yell 'Just what do you think you're doin' out here by yourself?' When the rest of her came up from the water.

Completely naked.

Just as the day he met her.

Course then there'd been quite a bit going on for him to pay any mind to the girl's form.

Now his eyes were riveted to it.

Her wet skin was glistening in the moonlight. She was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. Plain and simple.

She was a work of art.

No, she was a goddess.

Her long dark hair was clinging to her. She gathered up, seeming to move in slow motion, and rung it out.

She had the most serene look on her stunning face.

"Beautiful isn't it?"

Her voice was like a bucket of water thrown in his face.

It snapped him immediately out of his stupor.

"How's that?" He asked clearing his throat, suddenly nervous.

"The moon." She elaborated.

"Oh, um, that it is." He dropped his eyes to his feet. "Mighty fine."

He was now very aware of the girl's state of undress. Well, of course he had been aware of it a few seconds ago, but now he was fully AWARE of the fact that this teenage girl was standing in the middle of a desert in nothing but what she entered the world in. And scanning the ground he didn't see any evidence of discarded clothing.

"They're in my room." She stated blandly.

"Hmm?"

"My clothes."

"Oh."

"Well, then." he was now uncomfortable. He looked at the shirt he'd forgotten taking off and extended it out toward her."Uh, here."

"No, thank you, Captain." She refused. "I think I'd like to swim awhile more."

"Oh, um, all right then."

She turned her back to him wading back into the water's depths. She looked over her shoulder at Mal.

"Are you coming?"

Mal gulped.

He couldn't remember the last time he got such a tempting offer.

He considered it. A few other things flashed through his mind as well.

He quickly shook himself.

No way could he go in that water.

Bad idea.

"That's okay." River said without him answering.

She'd read him.

Mal wondered what other thoughts she had seen floating through his dirty mind.

"Some other time."

She said it with such certainty.

She submerged herself once again in the black water.

Mal sighed and turned to go back into the ship.

His steps faltered. He turned back to the pond.

"Ah, the hell with it." He muttered and charged for the water.

A man only lives once.

THE END

Well, that was my first firefly fic.

If you enjoyed it let me know.

If you didn't , tell me why.