r | sexual content

At times like these, he felt like he was the one who was psychic.

He knew she was going to lose her balance even before she started to pitch to the side. His hands came up to grip her hips, sliding easily over the damp skin as her usual grace failed her. She gasped, her eyes widening in surprise, almost as if she had forgotten where she was. He wrapped his arms around her, holding her tight, limiting how much she could move. She responded by rocking her hips against his, making him groan.

She quickly slapped her hand over his mouth. "Shh," she whispered.

"Simon's gonna find out about this eventually, little one."

And he winched at the nickname, inappropriate as it was for the situation. She was legal now, had been for almost three months, but there was still -

"Why does everyone think it's so wrong to do this with me? I'm not a child."

Her words made him go completely still. "Exactly how many other people have you done this with?"

"Inara didn't kiss and tell; what makes you think I will?"

Then she was moving again, writhing on top of him. She had none of the finesse or style that Inara had, but it was more than sufficient. With a strangled grunt, he emptied himself into her.

She smiled broadly and lifted a trembling hand to touch his forehead. "Empty. I love how everything becomes empty."

"I think you just insulted me."

"No," she laughed. "Everybody needs to clear it all out at least once a day."


Leaning into him, she lowered her voice as if she was divulging a great secret. "Simon never does."


"Never. I've tried to scrub it out, but he resists so much."

He was feeling increasingly uncomfortable, so he lifted her up - she was so devastatingly light - and set her down next to him on the bed. She curled up immediately into his embrace, her head over his heart, her fingers tracing one of his scars.

"You've asked me a million times," she said suddenly. "Just not out loud. Do you really want to know?"

"Not really." He had become accustomed to conversations like these, so much so that they really didn't bother him anymore.

It was the fact that they didn't really bother him that sorta bothered him.

"You think in circles. Make me look sane."

"Maybe you should stop listening in, then."

"Can't be helped."

"Why are you so afraid of Simon finding out?"

"Not afraid." She sat up with a start, staring him down. "It's not fear. It's concern."

"For him?"

"For you," she said flatly. "He'd kill you."

"Well. He'd try." He flashed her a grin in an attempt to lighten the situation, but she didn't react. "That's not all, darlin', and we both know it."

"You don't know anything."

And then she was out of his bed, slipping back into her clothes

"River - "

"Everyone has . . . stories. Their stories. Not the way things are." As she buttoned her dress, she glanced up at him. "I'm tired of existing in other people's incarnations of the universe. A girl can't be in a million places at once. It wears her down."


She opened up his hatch and started up the ladder, pausing on the third rung. "I could try to explain it to you, but you wouldn't understand. Even Simon doesn't understand, and he was there."

Then she was gone, leaving him lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling in bewilderment.