18 She Reads the Minds Of All the People As They Pass Her By

River looked up at the stars and entertained her brother and mate with repeating the conversations their crewmates were having with Commander Harken. Now and then her giggles filled their ears, especially when Wash was talking to the commander and waxing rhapsodic over his wife's body.

She could hear Riddick's amusement as she repeated Kaylee's rant and felt a tendril of it from Simon. Below them she could hear the Alliance crew searching the boat and their frustration when they couldn't enter the crew quarters.

Harken was interviewing Mal now and she was glad she'd taken a moment to tell the captain all the passwords but for hers and Richards. The commander was asking why the crew quarters were locked and Mal tilted his head, "Private quarters; had a fella come aboard and reprogram the locks for my crew. Paid him to get the last one open, gorram thing's been locked tight since I bought the ship. Cain't get it open come hell or high water. The man managed everything but that last. I got a list of the passwords if you need to check them."

"You allow locked doors on your ship," Harken sounded as if he didn't believe it.

"Long's I can get in, saw no reason crew couldn't have privacy from each other at least," Mal shrugged. "Got a girl like Kaylee, an' a man like Cobb, want my crew to feel safe in their bunks." He recited the list of passwords and tilted his head, "So by now I figure you've been over to the derelict. Seen it for yourself."

"Yes," River spoke in Harken's chillingly correct tones, "Terrible thing." She tilted her head and broke off her recital. "The Reaver beat himself against the counters and tore at his own flesh with his hands," She said quietly. "They have him in their medical bay and are attempting to treat him for shock." She flinched minutely before looking up at the stars for comfort. "The reaver has a scalpel and has attacked the medical staff." She reached for Riddick's hand and gratitude flooded her as he wrapped her in his arms without her needing to ask anything more. "He has killed now; there will be no saving him." She took a deep breath, "He returns to Serenity. We must not go aboard until Mal and the commander kill him."

"You want us to stay out here durin' a fight," Riddick wasn't thrilled with the idea. "When we could go in and kill the fèi wù zhū ?"

"Could, but then Mal would have no explanation for how the Reaver throttled himself to death or stabbed himself in the heart," River said reasonably and felt more than heard her mate's growl of irritation at the thought of sitting on the hull while a reaver scuttled around his territory. "Do not worry, Mal must save Harken's life and then Harken will take the gen-seed and go. He will take Mal's advice and destroy the derelict."

Simon took a deep breath, audible through the coms, "Should we be talking?" He asked finally. "It was so good to hear about the crew, I didn't think of it earlier. But is it possible for them to hear us?"

"Nah," Riddick rubbed his hand over River's shoulder, the warmth of his mind comforting even if she couldn't feel his skin on hers. "With their engines, no way they could hear anything in the black little as our voices."

River nodded her agreement, "The reaver is on Serenity now. He sits in the galley, lies in wait for victims. Killed the purple bellies who stood guard at the ship." She sighed slightly, "Commander Harken has agreed to take Mal with to search for the man."

Riddick shook his head and River giggled as she felt him roll his eyes, "This has fiasco written all over it," Her partner quipped dryly.

River shrugged, "Mal is a soldier, capable of dealing with Harken. Capable of dealing with the reaver. He does not need the distraction of our arrival along with the reaver."

Simon sighed, "Are we at least close to being able to go back on?" River patted him sympathetically on the back and felt him shudder even through his suit. Her brother did not like this at all, did not appreciate the view of the stars the way she and Riddick did. Her mate's eyes were unveiled and shining like starlight in the darkness. She could see herself through his eyes and saw the faint glow of silver within their brown depths.

Frowning she looked at Simon, "Gē ge do my eyes glow?"

Simon looked at her, forcing his gaze away from Serenity's hull and she could see his shock on his face, "Yes, not nearly as strongly as Rick's but yes." He tilted his head thoughtfully, "Do you find you have increased acuity in the darkness?"

"Somewhat," River nodded, "Nothing like my Richard's but I see better at night than I did before the academy." She shrugged, "I don't remember them doing anything to my eyes."

"Do you remember much about your surgeries?" Simon asked carefully. "I only ask because now seems the likeliest time that we won't be overheard by the crew."

"I remember everything Simon," River sighed. "I was unconscious for the surgeries so I can't remember what they did. But after each surgery it took more time for me to become accustomed to everything I saw and heard." She shook her head, "I know they wanted me to hear everything. And then I heard more than I ever wanted. And I was truly mad for a time."

"Scariest two days of my life, watching River claw her way back from that," Riddick said quietly. "She went an' had to read cards for some folks apparently. Saw something that she didn't wanna see. Had her curled in a ball and begging me to stop the screaming." He shook his head. "She ain't ever told me what it was, only way for us to deal with it was for me to remind her she didn't have to look. That she could bury it and not see it all the time."

"The guards and staff didn't object to your taking care of River like that," Simon wondered looking at Riddick.

"Doctor Mathias was the one in charge, an' he didn't mind anything I taught River, long's we didn't 'fraternize', 'cause once I taught her things 'bout her animal, River functioned better," Riddick shook his head.

River nodded slowly her head tilted in a way that indicated to Riddick that she was listening to what went on below them in Serenity. "Mal and Harken are in the galley now..." She took a deep breath and shut her eyes, pulling her mind away from Mal's. "I will listen more later, no desire to be in the captain's mind when he kills with his bare hands."

Riddick rubbed her shoulder soothingly, "Ain't sayin' you oughta." He tucked her closer into his body, reaching a hand out to Simon to pat him on the back. "Don' worry doc, it'll be done an' we'll be back on the boat soon enough."

River shuddered convulsively in his arms and couldn't help the tears that swelled in her eyes as the reaver and Mal's emotions reached out and wrapped around her mind. "Tòng bù yù shēng," She groaned her misery, "Gāo gāo shǒu."

She could feel Riddick's worry, knew he hadn't anticipated anything like this, that she'd need his touch while they were unable to touch each other, "River look at me, look in me Qīng Xiāng." He coaxed her to turn and stare up into his eyes, "See me tiān shǐ ."

Riddick waited a long heartbeat until River shuddered under his hands and stared up into his eyes, "Breathe with me River, remember? It's you an' me, hǎi kū shí làn."

River nodded and her tears were spilling over and down her cheeks but she concentrated on her breathing and matching her heartbeat to his. It took another twenty minutes before she was completely calm and an additional ten after that before she listened to the minds around them and nodded, "Safe to go inside now, the purple bellies have vacated. Captain is no longer chained."

Riddick nodded and slowly eased upwards helping Simon to stand and move over to the airlock hatch, "Easy Simon," He helped the doctor climb down into the hatch and sent River after him before climbing down himself. Taking River's helm off first he moved to help Simon with his before yanking his own off and wrapping River up in his arms to kiss her. He was aware his mouth was hard and demanding, crushing her lips under his, but she was soft and sweet and opening for his lips and tongue to take hers. Panting he set her down again and rested his forehead against hers, "Sorry, just didn't realize what it would do to me, bein' blocked away from your scent like that bǎo bǎo."

"How are you feeling?" Simon had regained some of his composure now that he was breathing ship air again. "River? You?"

"Better now that Richard's skin can touch mine," River said softly. "Loved the stars, so close and so far away, like Richards eyes, gleaming down at me. But to be denied the touch of my mate... to not feel his hands or his lips on mine. Only his mind to steady me," She shuddered and began to pull off the suit, helping Simon do the same until Riddick took over that chore.

"You doc?" Riddick grinned at the expression of relief on Simon's face as he got out of the suit.

"Better now that its not just glass and mylar between me and the black," Simon said firmly and held out his hand for Riddick's helmet, setting it with the other two.

Riddick climbed out of his suit and listened for a moment, the only thing he heard was the rhythm of the ships engines. "Let's get to our bunk and we'll hole up there until its time to leave," He suggested quietly. "You ain't seen how River's fixed it up yet Simon."

River tilted her head and a half grin split her face, "Man called Jayne comes to let us know all is well." She said quietly.

Riddick chuckled and nodded, he could hear the soft walk of Jayne's feet as they climbed upwards to the airlock. Putting the suits away he looked up just as Jayne opened the door to the airlock, "All clear?"

"Yeah, Cap'n's getting the rest of 'em back aboard now," Jayne nodded. "Purple bellies have all taken off, took the cargo though."

"Figured they would," Riddick sighed. "Leastways we've got one crate of it."

"Yeah," Jayne shrugged. "We're gonna need to straighten up the galley 'fore we can have anythin' to eat. Purple bellies made a mess of it."

Riddick looked at River and she nodded and put her hand in his, "She will be happy to help straighten the galley."

Riddick watched as River put the last pot back where it belonged and turned to regard him with warm chocolate eyes. Simon had gone down to the infirmary to do the same thing muttering about sterilization and the damage ignorance could do. Riddick had busied himself with first hauling the crate of gen-seed out of their bunk and then righting the furniture before helping River.

Mal strode into the galley and blinked in surprise to find it clean, "Well, looks like you two are none the worse for wear." He remarked and moved towards the kettle putting it on for tea.

"The Black is surprisingly soothing, but with unexpected stimuli, the touch of her mate is needful and was denied," River shook her head. "Captain finally understood what the girl meant when she called the man a reaver."

"Yeah, Harken weren't too inclined to believe until he saw what the man'd done to himself minute he got hold of a sharp knife," Mal nodded and his eyes fell on the crate of gen-seed. "I 'spect that'll bring a tidy bundle."

"Made you promise to give River a share," Riddick said flatly. "I just made sure there was somethin' to have a share of."

Wash came into the galley with Zoe and moved over to kiss River's forehead, "How are you doin' with all this little one?"

Riddick watched as his woman smiled up at Wash, affection in her scent, "She is well enough. Requires time alone with her mate to soothe the remains of the day out of her mind. Not comfortable to have a reaver aboard Serenity."

Zoe shook her head and went into the pantry coming out with the makings for dinner, "Nice to have a galley to cook in."

Riddick nodded, "Given that Harken was on the verge of arresting alla you folks, I imagine it is." He looked at Jayne, "Cobh gimme a hand haulin' this down to the hold will ya?"

"First you have me haul it up here, now you want help haulin' it back down," Jayne groused with good humor. "Gorram Rick, make up your gāi sǐ mind."

"Geez Cobh, you whine like a mule," Riddick retorted with a smirk. "Sit and put up your feet, didn' mean ta make ya work or anythin'." He picked up the chest and balanced it on one shoulder before walking out of the galley. The scent of honey drifted towards him and he grinned. His woman made no secret of liking his body. Once he and River had eaten maybe they'd get to try out her new toy.

When he returned to the galley Inara met him at the door, "Riddick, may I speak with you a moment?"

"Yeah Miss Inara, just, uh," Riddick shrugged and led her back down the hall towards the engine room. "What can I do for you?"

"How are you holding up?" Inara regarded him with a thoughtful look. "You were unable to touch or breathe in River's scent for a good long while today," She elaborated when Riddick looked at her quizzically. "Are you all right?"

"Gotta admit plannin' on spendin' a lotta time tonight in our bunk, soakin' in her scent an' feelin' her skin," Riddick admitted. "Animal got a little starved for skin privileges but we dealt with that when we were stuck in cryo. Weren't that much different 'cept in a vacuum there's no scent."

"Will that be enough?" Inara's dark eyes were entirely too knowledgeable, "Given that from what Wash told me Mal didn't believe River to begin with?"

Riddick shrugged slightly, "Weren't plannin' on leavin' the bunk 'til me an' River were feelin' better." He looked back over his shoulder at the galley. "Made sure River gets a cut a this job, an' that'll help her some. She helped Kaylee earlier an' that's all to the good. Kaylee's gonna teach her 'bout Serenity's engines."

Inara nodded her understanding, "I suggest the two of you make up a couple of plates and have dinner alone. The press of others upon the two of you, upon your...animals, cannot help at this juncture."

"Don't think Mal'd go for it," Riddick admitted. "He's pretty ornery 'bout havin' one meal together, an' sometimes that's good for River."

"See how the two of you are doing then," Inara conceded. "I've seen that it does help her to feel included, part of the crew."

"Hey! You two comin' to eat or what?" Jayne hollered down the hall and Riddick rolled his eyes.

"Jayne does have an interesting sense of timing," Inara smiled and Riddick couldn't help grinning back, offering her his arm politely. When he escorted her into the galley the surprised looks he got weren't at all flattering, River and Jayne being the only ones who didn't find his behavior a shock.

For fun he seated Inara in her place at the table and crossed over to River, bowing slightly and grinning as she returned the courtesy gravely with a curtsey before he offered her his arm and escorted her to her seat by Inara. Wash whistled his amazement and Mal nodded, "Yeah what he said."

Riddick shrugged as he took River's hand and pressed a kiss to the back of it, "B'tween River an' me, there ain't much we haven't talked on. She got bored once, taught me all the protocols of core society, includin' the fancy manners. Weren't for my eyes can pass for core pretty well in the right clothes."

"Guess the way you talk'd be a dead give away that you're rim," Mal nodded as he took the kettle off the stove and began pouring everyone tea. Zoe went to the com and spoke into it, alerting the absentee crew that dinner was nearly ready.

"I'm certain that I don't know what you could mean," Riddick amused himself by speaking in Simon's cool elegant accent. "For my purposes I speak as well as any other," He shot River a grin as she giggled and Kaylee stopped dead in the doorway when she heard his voice.

"Shiny," Was all she said, her grin taking over her startled face.

"Rick's all sortsa talented," Jayne chuckled as he took the crock Zoe indicated from the stove and put it at the center of the table. "Man use ta drive me nuts, first met he used ta imitate my accent."

"When was that exactly Jayne?" Mal asked mildly but the change in his scent had Riddick narrowing his eyes at the man.

"Met when we were what..." Jayne scratched his chin, as if thinking and Riddick nearly chuckled at the dimwitted act. "Think I were fourteen?"

"I was fifteen Cobh, you were thirteen," Riddick shook his head as he grabbed plates from the cabinet and set them on the table before taking his seat next to River and passing the plates around. "How you can forget your own gorram age is beyond me," He teased the bigger man.

"Ain't alla us got weird ass brains like you Rick," Jayne retorted.

"Eh, Jayne's old enough thirteen would have to be the better part a two decades back," Mal dismissed his gun hand's absentmindedness.

Riddick folded his arms and leaned back in his chair, regarding Mal thoughtfully, "Why don't you just ask what you want to know Mal." He invited quietly, "Ain't sayin' I'll tell ya but at least you'll have the question out there."

River stiffened and regarded Mal with dark eyes as the captain shrugged, "Maybe I'm just tryin' to figure how old you are Rick, seems you're near twice the nī zi 's age. By your own account you've been bound by law for murder more'n once."

Jayne laughed outright and shook his head, "Mal you talk 'bout me runnin' my mouth? You got any idea a what you're sayin'?" He pulled out a chair for Kaylee as the mechanic brought chopsticks and spoons to the table and sat down. Simon and Book entered the galley and Simon's eyes flew to Riddick's worriedly as the tension in the room hit him. As everyone took their seats Riddick unfolded his arms and let his hand glide gently over River's hair and shoulder. She was stiff with worry singed cinnamon in her scent and her muscles were knotted with the tension of it.

"Don' worry tiān shǐ," Riddick murmured. He slid one finger gently over her cheek and offered her a smile. "Ain' gonna kill him."

"Maybe I'm just tryin' to understand what River sees in you," Mal pointed out, a hard tone in his voice. "Seems as if she's a little too young to know her own mind very well an' you're not the most reassurin' sight in the world." The words were a smoke screen even if Mal's attitude wasn't, Riddick frowned trying to figure out what the captain was getting at.

Jayne's bark of laughter was sharp in the air, "Mal you're actin' like a sāo lǘ , an' from me that's sayin' somethin'." He shook his head, "The man don't do anythin' he don' wanna. In the years we worked together that ain't changed an' I don't guess it would change when we parted ways. Now he's taken the prissy core doc under his wing 'cause Simon is brother to his woman. He ain't slit your throat for ya, an' believe me sometimes that's a real temptation. An' he made sure that we got some profit outa this unscheduled stop."

"Cobh," Riddick spoke quietly catching Jayne's eye and shook his head slightly. Jayne subsided, grumbling, but he picked up his chopsticks and began to moodily eat his meal.

"See that's just what's botherin' me," Mal exclaimed. "Jayne don't stop runnin' his mouth for me even an' I'm the one pays him. But you an' he are thick as thieves in spite a him callin' River crazy an' doin' his best to drive the doc to drink."

Jayne opened his mouth again but Riddick sent him a hard look and the bigger man subsided. Riddick pushed his goggles back and regarded Mal coldly, "Don't recall an explanation a my history bein' part a the price a joinin' your crew." When Mal opened his mouth Riddick snarled, "Bì zuǐ! You pay me but you don't own me Cap'n. Jayne listens to me 'cause I know him, know him like you know Zoe. We're bǎ xiōng dì , Simon is my dì di and River is my woman, my zhī yīn, my nǚ ren even if we never get the words spoke over us, even if..." He looked at River. "It don't matter if we, it don't matter how long..." Riddick tried to tell her gently, he didn't care how long it took for them to get to sex, he wanted her, her in his arms. "Doubt thou the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move, doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love."

River took his hand and held it to her cheek, "My love was warm; for that I crossed the mountains and the sea, nor counted that endeavour lost that gave my love to me. If that indeed were love at all, as still, my love, I trow, by what dear name am I to call the bond that holds me now?" She turned her face and pressed a kiss to his palm before looking at the captain cinnamon hot in her scent, "You wish to assert dominance. You poke and prod when you are uneasy with what you see. You try to gain understanding but only serve to drive those you wish to understand away. Not all you survey is within your domain. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Wash took a deep breath, Riddick could practically hear him steeling himself to speak out against the captain and potentially his wife, "Mal, we all have things we don't talk about except to those closest to us." He said quietly. "Maybe if you want to know about Rick's past, the dinner table isn't the best place for it?"

Simon nodded and the pilot sent the doctor a look of gratitude, "I admittedly know little of Riddick, beyond what he's told me." He began in his slow, deliberate way, "But if I thought he was a danger to River, that he was the type of man who would do any sort of harm to the people River cares for, I would not hesitate to dope him and enlist the aid of every man here to throw him out the airlock as you once threatened to do to me." He offered Riddick a half grin, a wry look of appreciation. "I don't know if I would survive the attempt but I'd try." He shrugged, "Intellectually he and River are near equals. Physically they are compatible as their sparring proves..." He paused clearly uncomfortable with what he was about to say.

"Simon, it's all right," River told him gently. "You don't need to say anymore." She looked at Mal and then around the table to the people she hadn't become close to yet, Mal, Zoe, Book and Kaylee. "My eyes glow in the dark like my láng's, we learned that today. We don't know everything the Academy did to me, but that was certainly part of it." She tilted her head, "Richard has never harmed me, not even when they tortured him, to try and make him fight me, did he harm me."

"So exactly what did they do to you there," Mal pressed and Riddick's eyes narrowed thoughtfully. Mal wanted, needed, answers and if he couldn't get them about Riddick he'd try for River. The man's scent was an odd combination of protectiveness and anger, but he couldn't figure out where the Captain was aiming the emotions. "For such a little thing you've got a powerful lot a knowledge about things you couldn't possibly have learned in the core."

River took her eyes off the captain and turned to look at Riddick, who frowned and thought very clearly that they owed the captain no explanations. A faint smile touched her lips and she looked back at Mal, "You don't know me Captain Reynolds," She said formally. "Until now you've rarely spoken to me directly. You've avoided dealing with me and you've wanted me out of the way. Now you want me to take a knife and bleed the truth out for you." She had been quietly eating and now pushed the remainder of her dinner away. Riddick did the same and stood with her as she rose from her chair still looking at the captain, "Your wish to be protective is appreciated but you are angry with the wrong people. You haven't earned my story. You haven't even earned my trust. And demanding knowledge like a xiǎo huáng dì demands a sweet will gain you nothing."

She left the kitchen, her hands drifting over Riddick's arms and back, patting Jayne on the head as she passed him, ignoring the big man's growl of irritation. Riddick shook his head at the captain, "Trust goes both ways." He reminded the man. "But since I know every now and again you think a putting us all off on the next planet or locking up my woman when she makes you uncomfortable you haven't earned our trust yet." He left the galley and swung down into his bunk where River waited for him.

Riddick gathered River into his arms and buried his face in her hair, "Feel like I've been waitin' to do this all gāi sǐ day." He groaned the words and let his hands wander over her body, her slender form pressed to his. Part of him, the animal, wanted nothing more than to mount her and plow her until every part of her was covered with his scent. River moaned in his arms and he knew she'd read him, knew that part of her wanted that too. And the other parts, the human parts, knew that giving into the animals would lead to nothing but grief in the long run, but it was so blasted tempting. "Gonna strip down, all right River?" He said quietly. "Lock the door an' have nothin' between us," He suited action to words, dimming the lights until the bunk was dark enough that his eyes didn't hurt without the goggles but it was light enough that River could see him.

River began to methodically strip off her clothing, her motions slightly less graceful with weariness of the day, Riddick couldn't help but watch her as he pulled off his own clothing, every inch of skin exposed was something he wanted to kiss. It was clear in his mind and hers just how close they'd come to losing each other today, how easy it would have been for one of the crew to speak their names, give them up in exchange for their own freedom. But they hadn't, and that was largely due to Malcolm Reynolds. Riddick sighed slightly as he pulled off his boots and pants throwing them with River's in the pile for laundry. "Wanna wrap you in my arms River, and promise that we won't ever end up back there," He said finally. "But I don't know what will happen. All I know is I'll never stop fighting to keep it from happening."

"Won't ever give up," River pulled the plastic tie out of her hair and moved towards him, her eyes glowing faintly in the dim light, roaming over his body. "If I end up back there I'll never stop fighting to get out."

"I love you," Riddick told her, the words tumbling out with all the grace and subtlety of an avalanche. He didn't say it often, called her by names that spoke of it for him, called her his wife, and love and soul mate but he rarely said that he loved her with that little three word phrase. "I probably don't say it often enough," He admitted. "That don' mean I don't feel it, zhī yīn ." He sat down on the bed like it was a couch and looked at her hungrily. His eyes painted her in onyx and alabaster, a glory in contrasts with dark lips, midnight eyes and elegant porcelain skin in the shadows of the room.

"I know," River moved towards him and straddled his legs, pressing her breasts to his chest and smoothing her fingers over his shaved head. "I knew it when we were in cryo. I knew it when we fought Reavers. I knew it when you were tortured at the Academy. I know your heart Richard B. Riddick, better than I know my own mind. I love you as I've never loved anyone in the 'Verse. You are my zhī yīn , my zhēn 'ài , my husband, my wolf, my partner, best friend... I could talk for days and never touch on all that you are to me Richard." She pressed kisses to his forehead, his cheeks and his lips, gentle tingling kisses that stung him with desire. "The captain isn't a bad man, by our standards at least, but he is badly confused. We'll need to be helpful in the next month or so. Maybe he'll relax a bit."

"Don't like how he treats you," Riddick told her with a tiny growl under his words. "You ain't feebleminded, ain't sick or foolish or mad. He don't see all that you are...too wound up in how you look, how I act, to see what we are."

"He'll see eventually," River shrugged. "It's not time for him to know yet." She slid her hand down between their bodies, "I think you had some thought about covering me with your scent?"

"Hmm... I did," Riddick chuckled and he could smell her honey quickening when he spoke. His woman loved how his voice sounded even talking like he was from the Rim half the time she loved his voice. "I'm thinkin' I'm gonna tease my woman with pleasure until she gets that toy Inara gave her out and uses it on herself."

"Rather have your fingers," River pouted at him and he kissed her gently and with increasing passion until she was moaning into his mouth.

"I'll put my fingers in you to start, but you're not gonna fall on 'em," Riddick told her, tumbling her back so she was lying on the bed. "I'm gonna love watchin' you moan baby." He grinned and rose to fetch the box from where she'd placed it on the bureau. "Gonna keep this right by the bed, maybe tease you out of sleep, seduce you in your dreams and use it on you, make you fall before you even wake up."

"Still not sure about the toy," River was blushing, he could smell the blood flooding her cheeks and the sugar of her embarrassment. "Want my Richard, my Riddick, not plasti between my thighs."

"You heard what Inara said," Riddick reminded her as he lay beside her and groaned slightly, her hand finding his jī ba and stroked expertly.

"Make a deal with you," River said suddenly, her voice breathless as Riddick's mouth found her neck and began to trail his lips down to her breasts. Riddick smirked against her skin and made an affirmative noise as he wrapped his lips around one pert nipple. "I'll use the toy while you watch me, even have you use it on me, if you let me perform kǒu yín on you. Want your diǎo in my mouth."

"You gonna let me drink that honey a yours right from your thighs?" Riddick asked. "I been aching to bury my face in your sweet táo huā yuán."

River nodded breathlessly, "Yes, she will let Richard reciprocate." His mouth began slow steady pulls on her breasts, languorous yet driving her heart wild. "Please," She shuddered under his mouth and Riddick smiled his pleasure against her skin.

"Love that you let me do this," Riddick confessed. "Never expected it, my little là mèi, never thought you'd ever look at me like this." He loved how her heartbeat sped up when his mouth touched her skin, how her hands clutched at him and her voice went hot and breathless. Everything she did was unpracticed and sincere, genuine in her desires and she made him want her more than any companion with all the practiced arts in the 'verse could. He was always amazed, she wanted him, wanted the convict to pleasure her, wanted to please him. "Your shuāng rǔ are so pretty River, could look and pet 'em all day."

"Riddick, please," River shivered under his mouth, "It has been quite some time since, since we were in Inara's shuttle, I need, please."

Riddick grinned against her skin and feathered his fingers over her mound, feeling her nether lips hot and damp for him, trembling under his fingertips, "What is it you need zhēn 'ài ?"

"Need to fall," River moaned. "Need Richard's hand on her, fingers inside her, fucking her, making her fall."

"Hmm..." Riddick cupped her in his hand and rubbed the heel of his palm over her yīn dì feeling how her body reacted to his touch. "What if I wanna watch you push that sparkly toy inside a your body River?" He teased her, "What if I wanna see you fall like that, something nice an' deep, deeper than my fingers can go, vibratin' in you?"

"Richard can do whatever he likes, so long as he makes her fall," River moaned and Riddick chuckled wickedly.

"Gonna hold you to that," He told her and brought his mouth down on hers, lust shot through him as she arched up to his body, her fingers tightening on his cock as his lips plundered her mouth. She was sweet and hot and tasted so good, she always tasted so good to him. "Dreamt a doin' this to you while we were locked up," He told her as he kissed his way down to her belly and found her yīn dì with his tongue. "I'd wake up with you in my arms, couldn't even jack off with them hún dàns watchin' us. Wanted you so bad River." He groaned into her nether lips as she shuddered under his mouth and screamed his name as his tongue licked her to orgasm.

"Please, Richard, Riddick, please," River cried brokenly her thighs draped over his shoulders as he lapped at her, drinking in her honey.

He wondered for a half a moment if he could get drunk on the taste of her, she went to his head faster than any wine or whiskey. His hips were moving restlessly, rubbing his diǎo against the bedding, desperate for any friction now that her hands were out of reach, and he moaned against her flesh as another wave of her scent washed over him. He felt like he could fall just from tasting her like this. Lifting his mouth from her body Riddick reached for her toy and put it into her hand. "You gotta do it liàn rén, can't be me, not the first time," He reminded her before he rubbed his tongue over her clit again.

"Love your mouth," River moaned, "Can't do as Richard says, his body blocks her, and she wants his mouth too much for him to leave her."

"Can still make a meal of my woman 'thout bein' 'tween her thighs," Riddick growled the words out and shifted so he was lying beside her, curling his body so he could still surround her yīn dì with his mouth. Her moan was like music and he groaned as her thigh shifted and rubbed against his diǎo, her silky thigh feeling a thousand times better than the bedding on his skin. "Wanna watch you fuck yourself with it River," He growled the words against her clit and she shivered, "Gonna let me?"

"Yes," River was shuddering with the need to be filled and fumbled with the toy, "Riddick, I..." She shivered and her other hand was trembling as it rested on his skull and suddenly he could smell tendrils of burnt cinnamon mixed with her honey.

Riddick slid his tongue through her folds one last time before he climbed over her body, ignoring the toy to cradle his body between her thighs, his diǎo rubbing against her body hungrily as he wrapped her upper body in his arms and began to kiss her mouth. "Maybe I just need to remind you a somethin' Qīng Xiāng," He muttered lazily against her lips, loving how she kissed and sucked at his tongue, tasting her honey on his mouth and skin. "My woman doesn't do anythin' she don't want. My mate, she takes her pleasure when she chooses," He reminded her with a slow roll of his hips, rubbing his jī ba against her mound, feeling her honey on the most sensitive part of him. "You're mine River, belong to me, surely as I belong to you. Won't let you be afraid a takin' what you want, what you need an' deserve."

"Just needed Riddick's arms around her," River murmured between kisses, "Felt so alone without his flesh surrounding her, without his body against hers." She shivered pleasurably as his mouth drifted to nip and suck at her white neck as she spoke. "Loved your mouth on me, want to put mine to you," She confessed breathlessly, "Love my man, my mate so much, wish I was ready for you, want you inside me so badly."

"Well let's try with the toy first," Riddick kissed the tender flesh over her pulse and groaned as he felt her blood throbbing under his mouth. "I'm gonna roll offa you now zhēn 'ài , so you got room to use your toy, but I'mma stay pressed against you, suck on those pretty tits a yours," He moved so his body still pressed to hers but allowed him to stroke and play with her breasts and clit. "You know I gotcha River, won't let anythin' hurt you zhì 'ài," He slid one big hand down to tease and stroke her yīn dì with his fingers, sending renewed waves of honey to his nose, "That's it River," Riddick murmured. "Someday wanna sit in the chair an' watch you play with yourself, gimme a show. Wanna see you an' know you're readin' every sex thought in my head when it comes to you love."

River shuddered, fear no longer ruling her, and fumbled with the toy again, moving it so the head of the plastic diǎo was poised to enter her, and moaned at the feeling of pressure building within her body again, "Need to be filled." She panted the words out, "Need you to help her, make it go inside," She moaned, trying to push the toy into her body and not quite getting the angle right.

"'S'all right River," Riddick put his hand over hers on the toy and adjusted her grip. "There you go angel," He whispered in her ear. "That's what you need right now, slow and easy, pressing it up an' in you," He could hear River's breath catch as the head of the toy slipped inside her, her trembling intensified as the new sensations invaded her senses.

"So different," River moaned, "Cool, but warming, not hot like Riddick's fingers, doesn't move in her." She pushed it further inside as his fingers teased her sensitive flesh, plucking at her clit gently. "Ohhh..." Her body shuddered deeply her inner muscles clenching around the thick toy. "Feel so very..."

Riddick nearly moaned as River's body seemed to flood with honey as the toy filled her up, giving her more inside than his two fingers, "So beautiful." He was practically humping her leg he was so damn horny, but she was absolutely gorgeous pushing that toy inside her body, taking what she needed for her pleasure. "Do you want it turned on tiān shǐ?"

"Not, ughhh..." River's gutteral moan was almost enough to have his balls tighten. "Just need more... need it to move." She arched her body up to his, her thighs splayed wide and Riddick let his fingers find hers at the base of the toy. She'd managed to push it fully inside her, he imagined she was feeling a little stuffed, filled but needing more.

"Just push with your fingers a little bit," Riddick moved his fingers on the base of the toy so it rotated minutely inside her, pulling a wailing cry of need from her lips. "Like that," He told her, "Tight as you are right now you don' need a lot." He watched as River imitated him and shuddered, tremors beginning deep inside and bursting outward over her skin. "That feels good don' it baby," He began to tease her clit again, stroking carefully as he bent his head to suck on her breasts.

"Oh, ohhh...Riddick," River moaned, her voice harsh with need, "Please, please my Richard, need it, please." Her movements were still hesitant as she pushed the toy inside her pussy and her frustration was mounting. Riddick groaned, he could feel how close she was, how desperate she was.

"I'll help you," Riddick agreed, putting his fingers on the toy and his thumb on her yīn dì . Deftly he began to press the toy in a slow rotating motion, as tight as she was anything too rough might hurt her. He could hear her heart triple its beat with the unfamiliar yet wonderful sensations and began to kiss her mouth again, "Wanna hear your scream echoin' in my skull angel." He demanded. "Wanna feel you comin' for me, fallin' for me River. Animal needs its mate to find pleasure, needs your honey soakin' my fingers."

As if his demand was all she'd needed, River stiffened and shuddered, her body bucking up to his in a sudden, fierce storm of bliss, her cry of passion filling his mouth as she fell hard under his ministrations. Curious, Riddick kept moving the toy and felt her body gathering, tightening and breaking apart in pleasure again as he pushed her over, her fall filling his nose with honey and caramel and allspice. "Richard, please," River whispered weakly when he thought to see if she could fall a third time. "Wish to please you now."

Riddick was suddenly and vividly aware of his rock hard diǎo and groaned as River's hand wrapped around it. "So ready from watchin' you River, it ain't gonna take much," He warned her. "You touch like that an' I won't last for your mouth baby."

River shivered and turned, pulling the toy from her body with a moan and sitting up. "She will perform kǒu yín upon Richard," She said with a determination that just put Riddick further on edge. "Richard will sit up and she will kneel before him," River insisted tugging at him.

"Don' need my woman to kneel in front a me like she's some tā mā de slave," Riddick refused to move. "My woman is my equal River," He sat up and grabbed her, putting her between his thighs on the bed. "Or else you wouldn't be mine." He glared at her until she smiled shyly and nodded.

"She would like to kneel before him, sometime," River admitted softly. "Play the Companion for him, let him be dominant with her." One slender hand reached out and trailed down his chest, tracing his scars affectionately, "Doesn't mean she's submissive. Just means she feels safe with her Riddick. Knows she can play with him and he will not keep her in the box forever."

"I gotcha zhì 'ài," Riddick nodded his understanding, "Just was thinkin' might be we wait on that until we're both comfortable with regular sexin'?"

"Richard is worried he will warp her," River grinned at him playfully, "Worried his desires to thrust and take will twist her own desires." She pushed him back so he was lying flat on the bed and straddled his thighs, "Richard B. Riddick should know that his desire to thrust into her mouth does not frighten or disturb her. She finds it perfect that he sees her as strong enough to take him this way." She wiggled down, her breasts rubbing against his thighs until she was kneeling between his spread legs. "But we will do this the way Richard wants," She lifted an eyebrow at him, "For now." She added darkly.

"Never seen anythin' more beautiful than you River," Riddick didn't know how to say how erotic he found her at this moment, determined to do as she wanted with him. Her hair was falling in a tangled mess over one shoulder, and he ached to fist his hand in it, while her hands rested on this thighs. She was flushed and messy from her own fall and he could still smell her honey, and she was licking her lips as she looked at his jī ba.

Her smile was wide as she read his thoughts and he was grateful for that ability for the thousandth time, that she could read him when he didn't have the words. "Riddick will think she is more beautiful in a moment," She told him smugly and dipped her mouth down.

She was right, God help him she was always right, he'd never seen anything as erotic in his life as River Tam's gorgeous mouth sucking on his diǎo. The sensations were overwhelming, her tongue flicking over him, her mouth sucking her way down until he felt the head hit the back of her mouth and he couldn't help the groan that burst from his lips. His first blowjob in almost four years and he wasn't going too last long she was so gorram good at it. "Cào dàn River, I ain't..." He groaned as her mouth tightened on him and she sucked hard on the tip before working her way back down. "River, iffen ya wanna stop," He groaned the words out, "I'm...you got me so... tā mā de worked up... I'm gonna..."

River's look as she met his gaze was smug, a woman who knew her power and she deliberately ran her tongue along the underside of his shaft, her mouth flexing and tightening until he couldn't help but shout her name, a strangled groaning cry as his seed erupted in a burst of pleasurable fire, his fall completely out of his control. He could see her swallowing, her throat working to consume his seed and groaned again.

And then god help him she began again, her mouth and tongue relentless on his flesh until he was shuddering and groaning. His hand fisted in her hair, desperate to finish, shuddering as she expertly read his reactions, read what he needed, what he wanted, until she knew just what to do to make him fall again. "God River, tā mā de dì yù, River..." Her name was a shout on his lips, his hips lifting involuntarily as he fell violently in her mouth.

Riddick shuddered as she released his diǎo and climbed up his body to pet his face and skull before climbing from the bed. Bemused he watched as she began to brush her teeth, gargling with mouthwash and water before returning to the bed and delicately kissing him. "She no longer tastes of her bàng jiār 's seed?"

"No," Riddick was amazed she'd remembered he didn't care for the smell or taste of a man, even himself, on a woman. "C'mere an' lie down some," He sighed as she relaxed into his arms. "Baby what're we gonna do 'bout Mal?"

"Cap'n needs time to come to terms with us," River murmured lazily. "Persephone in our future, visit with Shazza, see how things go. Possibility of change in perspective regarding us for Mal. Depends on our actions, his reactions, what occurs. All very vague right now."

"Hmmm..." Riddick thought a moment. "Well we'll see then I guess," He got up reluctantly and grabbed River's toy to clean off. Bringing it back so she could put it in the box he chuckled as she wrinkled her nose and grabbed a cloth, wetting it in the sink and running the cool cloth over her skin and between her thighs. "How're you feelin'? Now that you've had somethin' 'sides my fingers?"

"A little stretched but not much," River took the cloth and began to deftly return the favor. "Not sore." She frowned slightly, "Not sure I'll ever like the toy, Richard's hands feel so good, real. Toy doesn't love me, doesn't care if I fall or not."

"Yeah, know what you mean," Riddick took the cloth away and tossed it towards the laundry pile. "Let's get some sleep zhī yīn," He suggested with a caress of her shoulder. Her tired nod of agreement brought a smile to his face and he scooped her up into his arms. "Most beautiful, deadly, brilliant woman in the 'verse an' she loves me," He marveled as he kissed her cheek and pulled the bedding back so she could slip between the sheets. "How'd I get so tā mā de lucky?"

River giggled sleepily as he slid in beside her and wrapped her up in his arms, the quilts tucked around them both, "She is the more fortunate, that her mate finds her so attractive, that he keeps her from going mad." Her soft hands petted the skin of his neck as she nestled closer to him, "My wonderful dangerous handsome man, loves me, takes care of me, would be lost without him."

"Guess you an' me're perfect for each other then," Riddick rumbled feeling exhaustion catching up with him even as River began to go limp in his arms. "Never gonna let you go Qīng Xiāng, you're stuck with me."

"Perfect," River mumbled sleepily. "Love you my Riddick, my Richard."

"Love you River," He was barely conscious of speaking, only of River's scent blooming with caramel, joy filling her every time he said the words.

Author's Note: So the ending isn't too different from the episode but if I'd changed very much Mal and the crew would have ended up arrested. Not a desirable outcome. But I'm hoping to show that Mal isn't entirely trusting of our newcomers and at the same time he's not totally unreasonable. These are two extremely dangerous people and he's a little uneasy about them. He's got a crew to protect, a little crazy girl who's shacking up with the 'Verses most wanted and he isn't sure that's such a good thing. I think he's also a little pissed that there isn't a whole lot he can do about it. Riddick and River freak him out a little I think. But he'll learn eventually that it isn't always a bad thing.

'Shindig' is up next and that'll give our faves more of a chance to play and also we'll be seeing a familiar face again. Any guesses? Any ideas as to what we'll see happening in the next few episodes? I'm very curious as to how you folks think 'Safe' will go. Love to hear your thoughts.

Chinese Translations:

fèi wù zhū - good for nothing swine/pig

Tòng bù yù shēng - to be so in pain as to not want to live

Gāo gāo shǒu - Please do not be too severe on me

gē ge's - big brother's

tiān shǐ - angel

hǎi kū shí làn - when the seas run dry and the stones go soft / forever / 'till the end of time

bǎo bǎo - darling/baby

Qīng Xiāng - Sweet Scent

gāi sǐ - damned

sāo lǘ - jackass

Bì zuǐ! - Shut up!

bǎ xiōng dì - sworn brothers

dì di - younger brother

zhī yīn - soul mate

nǚ ren - wife

láng's - wolf's

xiǎo huáng dì - lit. little emperor / fig. spoiled child / spoiled boy / pampered only child

zhēn 'ài - true love

jī ba - dick/penis

kǒu yín - oral sex/fellatio

diǎo - cock

táo huā yuán - vagina/ lit. garden of peach blossoms

là mèi - hot/sexy girl

shuāng rǔ - breasts

yīn dì - clitoris

hún dàns - bastards

liàn rén - lover/sweetheart

tā mā de - fucking

Cào dàn - damn it/fuck

tā mā de dì yù - fucking hell

bàng jiār 's - lover's/partner's

Quote Sources:

Doubt thou the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move, doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love. - Hamlet - William Shakespeare

My love was warm; for that I crossed the mountains and the sea, nor counted that endeavour lost that gave my love to me. If that indeed were love at all, as still, my love, I trow, by what dear name am I to call the bond that holds me now? - My Love Was Warm - Robert Louis Stevenson