**Part Eight**

Word Count: 4,154
This is for the LJ community 50_baby_fics Prompt #28-First Time

It was late. She had only been awake for a minute, maybe two, but she knew that it was late enough that Mal should have been in their room. She ran her fingers through her hair with a yawn. She sat up from the bed, bunching her toes against the floor. The swelling she'd noticed earlier was down. It came and went like that. Simon said it was to be expected.

Her eyes fell on the dresses she'd gotten earlier that day. She'd left them out, planning to show them to Mal. She thought he'd want to see what his money had bought.

She stood then, walking to the mirror he'd installed for her. She'd worn the other thing she'd gotten that day. That Kaylee had gotten for her. She'd blushed the shade of the tomatoes she mentioned wanting to Mal when she'd seen it. She'd looked at it over and over again, certain there was no way a pregnant woman could wear it.

Initially, she'd put it away with the one Kaylee and Zoe had given her before her wedding. Curiosity got the best of her, though. The first one had been pretty basic, nothing fancy. Just something to try and wow the man you were wearing it for.

This one though. She eyed herself in the mirror. It was the color of wheat, not quite yellow, not quite tan, and not quite white. It was fitted to account for her pregnancy, ending just above her knees. She imagined the bigger she got, the shorter it would get. And it was so sheer she may as well have been wearing nothing. She really hadn't taken the time before now to notice the changes her body was going through, beyond the obvious increase in her belly. Whoever made this, designed it, obviously saw pregnant women as being able to be sexy because it made her look and feel just that.

She didn't know why she'd left it on. She liked the way it felt against her skin. The fabric was something she'd never felt before, soft and yet it if you looked it was almost like it wasn't there. It made her curious. And she supposed she was hoping Mal would come in and see her.

She'd decided after kissing him and coming to the realization, whether he knew it or not, that they would probably be stuck married longer than just until the baby was born. Well, she wanted him to see her as River, a woman, his wife. Not just the crazy girl Simon rescued and brought aboard Serenity. She wasn't sure what was going to happen, but she had to at least try. It didn't help that the more she thought of what Simon had said to her earlier the more she realized he was right. She'd fallen in love with the man.

There was a part of her that wondered if Kaylee knew the truth of their relationship. Why else would she have bought this for River? Other than just to be kind. She supposed there was always that possibility. Kaylee liked girlie things despite her chosen occupation pointing to the opposite. So, maybe she just wanted to get River something to make her feel pretty instead of very pregnant.

She ran her hands over her abdomen, looking at her profile in the mirror. She pressed, feeling the outline of his butt, his torso, his head. His feet were under her ribs as they liked to be. Simon said this was good, that his head was lower in the uterus. River had read enough to know that was important, but beyond that was leaving Simon to do the doctoring for this event.

It was strange, though, to think that there was a baby in there. A little Mal. She smiled at that thought and walked over to his things. Finding one of his shirts, one that would be just long enough but not too long. She knew where he was, but there was no assuming he was alone. So, while she wanted him to see part of what she was wearing, she didn't want anyone else to see it.

She gave a soft laugh at her reflection in the mirror. She looked kind of silly in his shirt with the little bit of exposed nightie hanging lower. Clutching the shirt closed, it wouldn't button all the way anyway, she made her way to the bridge.

Sure enough, there he was. He was sitting in his chair, looking out the windows, murmuring something. Simon was seated in the other spot. It didn't appear she was interrupting a conversation of any kind, but it did make her curious why her brother was up here and not Wash.

"Mal," she said softly, not entirely sure she wasn't intruding. That was the problem with having been held captive for the past four years, she was sort of clueless when it came to this type of situation.

"Oh, hey, what are you doing out of bed?" He looked at her then, having at first just turned his head to glance at her. "And why are you wearing my shirt?"

She shrugged. "Wanted to, and couldn't sleep."

"I'm sorry to hear that. Have a seat if you want. Nothing going on, just pitch black night. The way I like it."

"Would you come to bed?"

"Well, I could I reckon. I just kind of got lost in thought up here, didn't realize it was so late. I'll be there in a minute, bao bay."

Her eyes downcast, realizing despite kissing him he still didn't really see her. Maybe kissing her hadn't been a big thing to him. She'd felt it, though, some of his thoughts had come to her despite her trying not to read them. He'd liked it. She knew he did. He didn't kiss her back to be nice or because he felt sorry for her.

Simon was surprisingly quiet. Was he sleeping? She couldn't help but wonder what they'd been talking about. His attention out the windows again she made a decision. If it failed, she'd blame it on Kaylee for making her think that maybe even pregnant he'd find her attractive. Attractive enough for what she wasn't sure yet. Her thoughts hadn't taken her much beyond kissing him again, only not in the middle of town this time. Privately, just them.

She took a step toward him, releasing the front of his shirt she'd been clutching tightly to her thus far, letting it fall low on her arms.

"I was hoping you'd come now."

"River," Simon called out when he took in what River was wearing. So, he was awake. She'd taken a chance he was sleeping, but it wasn't as if he hadn't seen her naked. They all had for that matter. "Where in the hell did you get that?"

She lifted her chin up defiantly. "A store," she said simply. He didn't need to know Kaylee had gotten it, or that River would never have thought to buy something like this. And then her eyes fell on Mal who was all kinds of noticing her now.

"bao bay," he said softly.

"You don't like it?"

"I didn't say that. Not at all. It's just," he cleared his throat. "Our bunk would probably be a better place for you to disrobe."

"But you're not in our bunk. You're here."

"So am I," Simon added unnecessarily. "Your brother. The man who doesn't really want to think of you like this."

"Like what?"

"Like, well," he said, shutting his mouth apparently realizing there was nothing he could say just now that wouldn't sound insulting.

She extended her hand to Mal and repeated. "Come to bed now."

Are you trying to give me a heart attack, little one?

She shook her head simply in answer to his question. "Please," she mouthed.

"Well, Simon, the little woman beckons. We'll continue our conversation later. I think I like what she has in mind better anyway."

"I should go, too," Simon said, following them out of the bridge. He headed the direction of his bunk, leaving Mal and River to theirs.

"This is just plain cruel, River."

"What is," she said, her back against the door. She hadn't expected this reaction out of him. She debated between pulling his shirt back on or not, deciding on leaving it off. She had nothing to be ashamed of or to hide.

"Getting yourself all nice looking and parading it in front of me."

"Why is it cruel?"

"Well, now, because you and me…"

"Are married."

"Well, yes, legally and all, but that doesn't mean…"

"You kissed me back."

"An attractive young woman launches themselves into my arms, attaches their lips to mine. I'm only human, despite rumors to the contrary."

"You said you wouldn't mind if it happened again."

"Well, sure, I wasn't planning on it or anything."

"So you were just saying it to be nice?"

"River. This may not be the best time to discuss this. You're emotional on top of the hormones."

"You're right," she said simply, closing the distance between them. She shook her head then, placing her hands against his chest. "I don't want to talk about it. I've already debated with myself enough for the two of us."

She lifted her eyes to meet his, using every ounce of willpower she possessed not to read his thoughts just now.

"Tell me something."

"Okay," she whispered.

"Did you really buy this?" Her eyes fell closed and she let out a muffled cry as he ran the back of his hand over her shoulder. He may as well have been touching her skin to skin for all the good the flimsy fabric did.

"Kaylee did."

"But you wore it."


"For me."


"Because you kissed me earlier."

"Yes." She shook her head then, realizing what that sounded like. "No. That isn't the reason."

"So, you don't think because we kissed I expect…"


She flicked a button on his shirt with her fingernail.

"Okay. Good. As long as we have that clear because I ain't meaning to take advantage…"

She reached up then, found his ear. "Stop talking and kiss me," she whispered. She didn't understand why her heart was pounding ferociously against her chest. Or why the baby was doing all kinds of acrobatics just then. Or why her palms suddenly felt incredibly warm pressed against the front of his shirt as they were. All this in reaction to her request.

If he didn't do this she wasn't sure she'd ever be able to face him again. She wasn't asking him for much. She knew it was a lot enough, though. She waited for what seemed an eternity. She did her best to stay out of his mind, partially for fear she'd read thoughts she didn't want to right now. Rejection. Pity. She'd had enough of that.

She started to draw away. It had taken him too long. She'd gone out on a limb and failed. She certainly wasn't going to throw herself at him.

"Sorry," she whispered, avoiding looking at him.

He set a finger under her chin and lifted it, making her meet his eyes. "Whatcha sorry for?"

"I shouldn't have…"

He smiled at that. "bao bay, I was just feeling little Mal kick like he's all kinds of excited."

"Oh." What did that mean? That he wanted to kiss her and just didn't?

"I've never felt him before like that. Usually, you just take my hand," he shrugged. He ran the pad of his thumb along her lower lip. "Now it seems to me you said something along the lines of shut up and kiss you. You sure about that, River?"

She nodded simply, feeling more than a little clueless just then. She did part her lips, acting on instinct she licked the tip of his thumb. It caused the pulse point in his temple to jump a little bit and she smiled as he replaced his thumb with one of his fingers, and another, and another until she'd tasted each one.

"I ask again, are you trying to give me a heart attack?"

"Nuh uh," she murmured, kissing the tip of the last finger. He drew his finger away and she missed it almost immediately, the contact between them. Until he replaced it with his mouth. She whimpered softly, taken by surprise even if she'd asked him to.

He didn't hold back this time and as she opened her mind to his there was no thought about her innocence or age. And there was no Shepherd Book either. There was just her. She moaned softly when she saw how he saw her. Even pregnant she was beautiful. Did she really look like that?

His hands found her face and he drew away for a moment. "If I start touching you…"

She looked at him wide-eyed. He was giving her an out. "I want you to. Touch me," she added.

"This is your dance, River. You let me know when the song is over cuz it's been a long time."

"Me, too."

He smiled at that, kissing her lower lip. "Yes, I reckon for you it's been a bit longer. I'm just not sure the music would stop were it up to me," he murmured as she worked the buttons on his shirt. "Remind me to not just thank Kaylee but offer her a raise or something."

"Kaylee didn't make me think to do this."


"You did."

"I did? What'd I do?"

"Just be you."

"Well now."

She kissed him then, not wanting to talk anymore. He didn't seem to know what stop talking and kiss her meant. Was he nervous? She giggled softly at the thought.

"What is so funny?"

"Do I make you nervous?"

"Damn straight you do."

"Why?" She kissed his jaw then, making a path to his ear.

"Cuz," he said, stifling a groan when she found his earlobe.

"Cuz why," she whispered.

"You ain't never."

"There's a lot of things I've never done."

"Very few things left for me fall under the I've never category. Making love to my wife, a woman I have the actual right to freely is one of them. Can't say a pregnant woman neither."

"So, there are still first times left for you."

"I guess when put like that."

"And that bothers you?" She found his neck now, the pulse point there and nipped it.


He cleared his throat, head falling back against the wall his back was against. "Uh, bother? No."

Somewhere in the back of his mind was the thought that he should put a stop to this before it went too far. Sad thing was, he wasn't sure what too far was. Was kissing her too far? He sure as hell desired her. Night after night seeing her asleep in his bunk, stretched out and having the blanket shift this way or that. He'd never paid pregnant women much notice, given them much thought. But damned if the growing mound at her belly wasn't attractive to him. The fact she wore it so proudly, wasn't embarrassed or ashamed of it. Or bothered by gaining some weight.

Not that she'd gained much. Simon had come to him earlier thanking Mal for buying the fruit, seeming grateful to see her so enthusiastic about eating something. He was afraid River wasn't gaining enough weight, that what she had gained thus far had really been baby not much else. And she needed a little extra.

Her hands were at his chest now. Skin to skin, the shirt having been unbuttoned for a while now. He realized, thinking about his shirt, that the one she'd had on over herself was still up on the bridge. He wasn't sure he'd look at that shirt the same way again, knowing she wore it with this underneath.

"You sure know what you're doing," he murmured, surprised a little that she was able to have this affect on him. Innocence had never been a turn on for him. Some men went for that sort of thing. They took a girl's innocence like a notch on their belt never looking back, which was why he stuck with paid companionship. It was easier that way, no muss, no fuss, certainly no mess.

No heart involved, but damn if he wasn't noticing for the first time as she latched onto one of his nipples with her mouth, that with no heart involved there wasn't much heat either. And he was awfully fond of heat about now. Cuz it was coursing through his body something fierce, making him certain he was burning up from a fever that only River had the cure for.

She drew away and he missed her instantly. It had to be her doing these things that made him react so, because it wasn't as if this was the first time someone had kissed him, touched him, and, he swallowed hard, licked a wicked trail from his chest ever lower. She repeated it, going the other direction, causing him to groan. He really, really wanted her to continue further south not away from it.

She circled a nipple with her tongue, kissed his skin there next to it and started sucking. Hard like. His body reacted with a sharp jolt, and he wondered if she knew what she was doing. Or if it was all guesswork. Had she learned somehow? It bothered him how much that thought unnerved him. The idea of someone else touching her, teaching her was just wrong. He didn't claim to understand her, but he thought he understood her better than most. He knew around him she got better, his mind helped keep hers calm. He didn't get the where's or why's of that, other than he just tried not to over think or stress over things he had no control over.

"Books," she murmured, moving to the other side to repeat the process, giving him matching marks.

"I guess I shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the rewards of reading then," he whispered, gathering some of her hair into his hands.

"Why were you thinking of Shepherd Book?"

"Why was I what? Huh?" Had he been thinking of Book? No, not once had the preacher-man entered his thoughts tonight. "Why were you reading my thoughts?"

"I couldn't help it. And you heard me. Not now, earlier today."

Ah, now he remembered. "He had an even longer talk with me about you then he did when Saffron came aboard."

"What did he say?"

"Lots of things, most of which pertained to my earning a special place in hell if I were to take advantage of you somehow. Given this is more along the lines of a business deal we've entered into."

She seemed to smile at the image of Shepherd Book lecturing Mal on the evils of taking advantage of a woman like River. She extended a hand to him and he could see quite plainly that her ministrations to him had the desired effect on more then just him. Was that because she was in his mind, reacting to what he was? Or did she really get pleasure out of giving it? Simon'd explained what they'd done to her, that she was just a giant sponge taking in feelings from all around her, unable to process or filter.

He took her hand, wanting nothing more to find out which was the correct answer. Hoping to Shepherd's god it was the second, or perhaps a combination of both. Anything but her being unable to turn off her mind from getting flooded with his arousal. That'd be something akin to mind rape in his opinion and he wanted none of that.

"My baby gets a father and you get a son. And I hopefully stay under the Alliance's radar."


She sat on the bed then, still mussed and unmade from her earlier nap. One he'd insisted she take because she was getting under his skin spending most of the day in her company as he had. And now, here he was where he had avoided coming for fear he couldn't take to the floor tonight and that she'd think him some kind of monster for posing the request.

"What if I want a husband, too? You."


She knelt up then, cupping his face and kissed him. It was long, hard. He wasn't a reader, but darn it all in that moment he felt like through their mouths being connected, she'd connected their minds, too. He knew in that instant her arousal had nothing to do with his mind overflowing hers with his feelings of arousal. He cradled her head, placing one knee beside her on the bed.

She inched forward. The outfit, if one could call it that, made it feel as if he was right up close and personal with her when her chest met his. She was a tiny thing. Her breasts would be barely a handful, not an offensive thought. Just enough for a man to know they were there.

"Please," she murmured into his mouth and he realized his thoughts were spilling into hers. She told him sometimes he thought too loudly. He wasn't sure what that meant, but evidently this was one of those times.

He couldn't remember a time he'd reached for a woman with a shaky hand, but that's just what happened when he let go of her hair with one. Shepherd's warnings of a special hell reserved for him aside, he had never been a woman's first anything. It was one of those things that gave a man pause, particularly when the company he'd kept the majority of the time of late had been paid for. Were those women sincere in their pleasure or placating him so he'd go away satisfied two-fold? He'd never had reason to have doubt cast on their sincerity until now.

Whatever the material was the outfit Kaylee had bought her was made of, it did its job. It felt silky to the touch and yet it was sheer enough that the deceptive illusion was there that there was no fabric at all between his hand and her shoulder. He grazed a collarbone with his thumb and she whimpered softly into his kiss.

He grazed an already hardened peak with the back of his hand and she cried out, breaking the kiss to rest her cheek against his. Her breathing was haggard, uneven, and God but that was a turn-on. That so simple a touch could be her undoing. It made him want to undo all of her, from head to toe. And he set out to do just that.

With her kneeling on the bed as she was, it wasn't a difficult task. He touched her everywhere, able to tell the difference - however slight - between the sheer number she wore and her skin when he skimmed her legs from thigh to ankle.

He wondered if her feelings being on full-throttle all the time extended to her as well. Was she feeling everything doubly so because of what the Alliance monsters had done to her? That was both a heady thought and a little unnerving.

He skimmed her waist with his hand. Despite the pregnancy her waist was still tiny, womanly. He slid his hand up and over, grazing the swell of her breast with his thumb. She cried out again, increasing her grip on his shoulders.

He kissed her cheek, and she turned into the kiss, evidently ready for dual sensations. He was more than happy to oblige. He got a bit more bold, daring, cupping her breast entirely with his hand, stroking the peak with his thumb lightly.

She let out a squeak and stopped kissing him. And then proceeded to go limp in his arms.

"Huh," he whispered not sure what to do now. "Now, that for sure ain't never happened to me before." He drew his hand away, just wasn't right touching her if she wasn't with him to know he was doing it and enjoy it much as he was. His body revolted at the loss of contact with her warmth, the gentle curves of her femininity. "Oh yeah, I'm in a whole heap a trouble."

One thing he did know, he sure as hell wasn't taking to the floor tonight. He could tell himself he wanted to stay with her, make sure she was all right. He knew what it really was, though. He just wanted to sleep with her beside him for once. Hopefully, it wouldn't be the last either.

He set her gently on the bed, gathering the blanket around her. He shed his shirt and his boots, leaving his pants on. No sense tempting the scales too severely. Chances were if she woke up after passing out, resuming where they'd left off wouldn't be first on her mind.

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