Leaning back against the thick trunk of the tree, Mal rested his wrists on his knees while he listened to the roaring rush of water cascading down from the cliff above into the rippling black surface of the pond below. The girls were all laughing as Wash showed off his muscles before doing a cannonball into the pond that sent a splash of water over Jayne until he was sputtering. Mal chuckled as Jayne climbed up the rough black lava rocks to return the favor.
“Why aren’t you playing Mal?” Inara’s shultry voice asked as she stepped from between a pair of trees choked with vines of flowers. She’d plucked one of the bright red blossoms that was nearly as big as his hand, and tucked it behind one ear. He thought about how nice it would be to pluck that flower free, and cup her face in his hands before sending the thought away.
“Because it’s pretty out here,” he said trying to pull off a smooth enough lie. He pointed towards a swarm of dancing fireflies. “They’re havin’ a nice soirée, and I’m enjoyin’ the music a bit.”
Inara grinned as she settled down next to him, breathing in the exotic scents of the jungle moon there were hiding on. “I think this is one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever brought me to, Mal.”
“Well, I do try,” he teased back knowing full well that they had landed there only to avoid an Alliance cruiser that had been sniffing too close. Hiding in the thick jungle had been a better choice than dumping their cargo. “Thought I should show y’all that the ‘Verse ain’t just made of dust balls and gamblin’ hells.”
“Well, I thank you for that,” she said as she glided back up onto her feet. They were bare except for a pair of twinkling toe rings that had Mal wondering if they’d come off if he sucked on her toes. She tugged at his arm, trying to pull him up besides her. “Come one, Mal. It’s hot. Let’s go play with the others.”
“But what about the fireflies?” he protested.
“You can’t swim can you?”
“Not a stroke,” he said ducking his face and wishing he still have the long hair he’d had before the war to hide under since her wide ebony eyes always seemed to see right through him. “Sink like a gorram stone.”
“Well, then I’ll just have to take you to the shallow end and teach you.” She gave him a secret smile as she lead him towards the pond, thinking of all the things she really wanted to teach Malcolm Reynolds.