**Part Nineteen**

Word Count: 1,205
This is for the LJ community 50_baby_fics Prompt #15-Lullaby

Mal stood back a ways, knowing River was aware of his presence. He didn't want to wake up little Mal who was finally down for the night. Or seemed to be thanks to the tune River sang to him. He didn't recognize it, but that wasn't saying much. And it did it's job, soothed him to sleep. She stopped singing after a few minutes of his being quiet, changing to a soft hum. A different tune this time.

Little Mal had taken a shine to his mother's voice. There were times nothing but her singing could soothe him. Mal couldn't blame him for feeling that way. He found her rather fetching himself, for different reasons of course.

Hard to believe little Mal was a month old today. He'd tried, unsuccessfully, to talk her into another name. She just smiled, rolled her eyes, and went on calling him Mal. He watched as she drew the blanket around her son once more now that he'd quieted down. He tried to remember what she'd been like when she first came aboard Serenity. Crazier than crazy was how he remembered it, but he wondered if that hadn't exactly been the case. She seemed fine now. She had moments, but who wouldn't after what she'd been through the past four years.

She'd told him stories, ones Simon knew nothing about. In the privacy of their room, the quiet hours of the night when all was quiet aboard Serenity she had opened up to him about things he really had no business knowing. Not because he didn't want to know them. He did, but it made him want to go slaughter each and every person responsible. Not just for what they'd done to her but anyone like her.

He didn't need to have her abilities to know the crew had doubts as to whether River could handle the responsibilities of being a mother. She had, though. Only a month had gone by, he realized that wasn't saying much. But, she'd taken her earlier problems in stride, which was more than he could say for him. He still couldn't believe he'd almost led her right where they'd probably wanted her.

There was a reason he kept himself emotionally closed off. It was difficult to make rational, real decisions if emotions were involved. She'd assured him she did not hold him letting his emotions rule in this case against him. How big of her, he'd mused to himself at the time.

She had a way about her now, though. Or maybe it was his imagination. She seemed older, the weight of responsibility on her shoulders. After all, what was more important than childrearing? Nothing Mal could think of.

You're good at that, bao bay. I wish I had your touch.

She said nothing, which he expected. He was sure the thought registered with her. He saw a subtle tilt of her head she did when he talked to her like that that even from behind he saw. It wasn't really talking, he supposed communicating was a better term for it. She turned her head, glancing at him somewhat coyly over her shoulder before returning her attention to the baby. He walked up behind her then, resting his hands at her shoulders.

"You gonna come sing me to sleep now?"

"Are you cranky and unable to fall asleep without?"

She turned to face him, his hands resting at her hips.

"Could be," he said, draping an arm around her to lead her outside. "If those are the parameters you set for singing pretty like. A man's liable to get jealous knowing another of his gender is privy to such things."

"Hmm. We wouldn't want that."

"Funny, I was thinking the exact same thing."

"It's too soon."

"For what?"

"I haven't been cleared…"

Mal shook his head. "Listen to you. I don’t recall one word coming out of my mouth that resembled a proposition for sexual favors."

She tapped his head with her fingertip. "Your mind says otherwise."

"Then you're misreading this time. After seeing what you went through, wouldn't blame you if my touching you was out of the question for some time."

"I want you to."

"Hmm, well, I'm sure we could come up with some sort of agreement that wouldn't upset your brother acting as doctor."

"You think so," she whispered.

"Oh most definitely," he said with a low chuckle, being sure to leave his mind open so that she had access to the ideas running through them. There were plenty that didn't including penetration whatsoever. He could tell by the concentrating look on her face she was analyzing each and every one.

"I like the last one best."

"Well, now, let's go see about acting it out then. Maybe you'll sleep soundly, too."

"A good orgasm and the afterglow that comes with will ensure I do, too."

"That's definitely an order I can fill, bao bay." He chuckled, drawing her to him for a kiss. You willing to see just how many times I can fulfill it? I'm certainly up for multiple fulfillments if you are. I've been storing them up for when you looked at me this way again. Or is once going to do it tonight?

Her eyes widened and she broke the kiss. He grazed her forehead with a kiss, opening the hatch to their bunk.

"What are you looking at me like that for?"

"No reason. I'm in agreement with the direction your thoughts are taking."

"Are you now? Are you also in agreement with my paying homage to a few parts on you that have changed dramatically since you've given birth? Seems when you're not using them for more pressing things you're sleeping. Understandable and I'm not complaining, but I can't have you thinking I'm being neglectful."

"If you feel you must."

"Uh huh," he said with a smirk. "And after all that do I get a lullaby, too?"


"A direct answer for once. My, Mrs. Reynolds, you are losing your touch for the obscure."

She brought her finger to her lips. "Don't tell anyone."

"I reckon I can keep a secret."

She hitched her legs around his waist, letting him lead her to the bed. When all was said and done, he went to sleep with the promise of a week's worth of them. And, if he could think it without sounding conceited as she nestled in against him, there was something gratifying about being able to bring her to that end again and again. Her singing turned to the soft hum she used with little Mal once he'd settled down.

"She is sated, husband. Go to sleep."

And for the first time he thought he was able to get a glimpse into her mind, disappointment and concern that she hadn't done for him what he'd done for her.

"He gets pleasure out of giving it, bao bay. Rest assured, pleasure was achieved with both parties."

"But you did not achieve the ultimate release."

He shrugged, bringing her closer against him. "Says who?"

She went back to humming then, but he swore as he drifted into that in between state that even through a hum he could hear the smile his words gave her.

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