Zoe brought the rear hatch of Serenity down firmly and turned to see Kaylee's anxious face at the far end of the room.
"The boys get away all right?" she asked. Mal and Jayne were off on a very carefully planned con, and needed Simon's medical knowledge to get them through the several checkpoints between them and their shiny booty.
For the next few days, Zoe and Kaylee were alone with River, as they had recently returned Inara to her Guild house, where she could continue to train her initiates. Zoe took a breath before answering, locking away all thoughts of Wash and the bone-deep ache that burned through her every time she remembered the events of that day three months ago, when at the cost of his life they got out the needed message.
"They got away all right," she said. "We got nothing to do for three days but wait here, don't stir a step from this ship, and hope they get back. We don't hear from them in three days, I go out after them." She walked toward Kaylee, pulling off her gloves and tossing them to the shelf where she kept some of her gear. "And I go out alone. Simon was very specific about River having someone with her at all times."
"She seems quite happy-like just now," Kaylee said. Then she paused, frowning. "I've seen her mood change though, real sudden."
River chose this moment to appear, tip-toeing up behind Kaylee. Zoe couldn't resist a smile.
"I'll be bunking with you two these nights, I think. No need for a watch, we're in the middle of nowhere. Any soul making his way here has more to fear from us than we do from him." She passed by Kaylee, pausing to lay a hand on River's shoulder. Kaylee turned to see River behind her, and smiled, putting an arm around her waist.
"Just us girls," Kaylee said. "This should be fun."
The first day passed quietly enough. River was happy and chatty. Kaylee was also in a good mood, although Kaylee never stayed unhappy for long. The longest Zoe had ever seen her down had been after the relationship between her and Simon fizzled. It had been like it was only shiny when the sexual tension was unresolved, and once they'd actually slept together they had realized quickly that there really was nothing there but friendship.
Or, well, Simon had realized that quicker than Kaylee, and wasted no time in breaking things off with her. It took her a good few days to get over being unhappy and to come to know that despite the fact that she and Simon cared for each other, romance between them just didn't work.
But that was nearly two months ago now, and Kaylee had now figured out the state of her heart just fine for Zoe's liking.
These days it was River and Kaylee sharing a bunk, but Zoe didn't think there was anything like that between them. River's eighteenth birthday was nearly a month ago now, but the thought of her in a romantic concept still felt more like taking advantage than Zoe properly wanted to consider.
Night fell quickly, as it did on this planet at this time of year, and the little ship's kitchen was alive with laughter and the smell of Kaylee's cooking. Zoe made her way from the helm, where she'd been calculating the best route of escape from the planet, taking into account all factors including possible Reavers, and found Kaylee and River dishing up the meal. As she watched from the hallway, Kaylee kissed River's forehead as she took the last dish and set it on the table.
Zoe couldn't help but smile at the sweet gesture. For a second she remembered Wash kissing her head one sleepy morning just before he got out of bed to go see to something on the ship. That made her smile too, even through the heartache.
"Come and join us, supper's on," Kaylee said, waving Zoe to a chair.
It wasn't until well past midnight that River started having nightmares. Before Miranda, she had always woken silent and sharp, eyes snapping open from fear. This nightmare woke her with a scream.
Zoe was instantly at her side, waking up and reacting with razor-sharp reflexes, checking all the corners of the room before sitting down next to River. Kaylee also sat up in her bed, and quickly moved across the room to comfort River.
"There, shush," she whispered softly.
River looked from Kaylee to Zoe with big eyes. "I thought I was back in the school, but I'm not. I'm home. I was afraid that Simon would never find me, but he did."
"Yes, he did," Zoe said softly. "You're safe on Serenity."
"Always," Kaylee said, smiling, and leaning in.
Zoe realised Kaylee was going to kiss River almost too late, and repressed the surprise she felt. For all they didn't share a bed, it seemed there was something going on between the two girls.
River responded to Kaylee's touch, but reached out to hold Zoe's hand. Once the kiss broke she turned to Zoe.
"You're surprised," she said, and it was not a question.
"Yes," Zoe answered.
"You shouldn't be, Zoe," River said. "Since Miranda, I feel like I'm beginning to wake up. I'm a girl, I'm a woman, I'm…female." She paused, touched Zoe's cheek with the tips of her fingers. "And I want. A woman's got needs."
"And you want Kaylee?" Zoe felt herself forming the question in her mind, but River answered it before she could actually say the words.
"Not just Kaylee," she said, leaning close to Zoe. "Everything." The word was whispered very softly indeed, and River's lips touched Zoe's.
Zoe had expected to be told to leave the room while Kaylee comforted River. She hadn't expected a cool, confident River to take control.
"It was always like River," Kaylee said, as she watched the two of them kiss. "From nightmare to love in a breath."
Although River had been the one to take the initiative, now that kissing was happening, Zoe felt her own nerves tingle with anticipation and want. Three months is a long time when a woman's body aches for love with every moment.
She pulled River down into her embrace, continuing to kiss her. Kaylee followed, slipping her arms around River, and tugging away the white nightgown she wore.
River was naked underneath it, all legs and arms. Kaylee's nightclothes followed, revealing her warm curves. But Zoe pushed away their eager hands. When it came to Zoe's clothes, Zoe was going to be the one to take them off.
And although she wasn't wearing much, they came off slowly, her hair falling down around her face as she unbuttoned her gown, letting it fall away.
"River," she said. River looked up at her, slim body arranged in as seductive a pose as she could manage.
"We're doing this," she said.
Kaylee grinned. "Yay, sex!" she cheered, and pulled Zoe into the warmth of her soft curves, drawing her into a kiss.
Kaylee's kiss was different from River's. Where River was inexperienced and hesitant, Kaylee was confident and sensual. Zoe gasped as Kaylee ran a hand down her back to the swell of her arse, and smiled, a little too confidently.
Enough of this.
Zoe turned to look at River, and the two of them moved together, pouncing as one on an unsuspecting Kaylee. One on each side of her on the narrow bed, one mouth on each of her breasts, hands sliding down across her body to the swell of her cunt.
Kaylee was moaning even before they touched her clit, as Zoe drew her fingers through the wetness of Kaylee's cunt, gathering up the moisture. River left her hand on Kaylee's thigh, and kissed her hard, swallowing her sounds of pleasure.
Zoe brought her damp fingers back up to her mouth, licking the essence of Kaylee off of one finger. And suddenly she couldn't wait to get her mouth down there, wanted desperately to be covered in Kaylee.
River came back to her, taking her hand and sucking a finger. Zoe looked at her, and then to Kaylee and had a thought.
"Lay down next to her," she said. "I want both of you."
River obliged, immediately turning her head and kissing Kaylee. Their hands wandered together over each other, and for a moment, Zoe just watched the pretty, pretty picture in front of her.
But then she realized: she could smell them, their juices. And she couldn't stop to admire any longer.
She bent her head to Kaylee's cunt, and licked, long and slow. Felt Kaylee stop moving entirely, and then give a long, deep groan that seemed to come from the very depths of her. River's mouth fastened onto her nipple and Kaylee seemed utterly transported.
But Zoe wasn't done yet. While continuing to lick Kaylee, she reached between River's legs, finding the damp warmth there. River let go of Kaylee's nipple and let her head fall to Kaylee's shoulder as Zoe rubbed gentle circles over her clit.
One of Kaylee's hands found Zoe's hair, and she threaded her fingers through it. The other arm was around River.
River's free hand slipped down between her own legs, and together Zoe and River worked at River's clit. Zoe dipped a finger into her cunt, finding it tight and almost virginal.
It wasn't long before Kaylee was coming, her hips bucking sharply upward. Zoe rode her out, waiting until she fell back to the bed, eyes closed, looking for all the world like she couldn't move.
Gently she disentangled from Kaylee, face covered in her juices, and reached up to kiss her for a long time. She felt River's tongue on her face, and realized that River was licking the taste of Kaylee off her.
"Your turn," she whispered to River, and kissed her too.
River lay back against the pillow, eyes following Zoe's every move. Zoe twitched her fingers inside River, and she gasped sharply.
"More," River said. "I want your mouth on me."
Zoe lost no time in moving to River's cunt, mouth fastening on River's clit, which was larger than Kaylee's and straining upward. She twisted her fingers in and out of River, sucking eagerly at her clit, and River was coming after another moment, her body tensing and releasing, clenching around Zoe's fingers. Carefully, Zoe withdrew, watching River go limp as she did so.
Unlike Kaylee, who had just begun to stir against after her orgasm, River recovered immediately.
"Your turn," she said, and reached for Zoe. Kaylee sat up, and together they kissed and caressed Zoe, two fingers of each girl moving inside her, one mouth on each breast, until Zoe could stand it no more. Orgasm crested like a wave, and Zoe shook with the force of it, falling back against the bed like a warrior slain.
She came back to Kaylee's face bending over her with a smile.
"So," Kaylee said. "River and I have an idea about what we should spend the next few days doing."
"I couldn't imagine what that could possibly be," Zoe said, sitting up and leaning over to kiss Kaylee. River moved in at the same time, and they found themselves sharing a wet three-way kiss.
"This sounds nice, don't you think?" River said after the kiss ended.
"Yes, it does," Zoe said, and pulled the two girls close to her. The bed was narrow but there was no way anyone would go back to their own bed tonight.