Can't be no place better than this.
Sallie was visible inside the kitchen through the window facing the front of the small white one floor house. Mal couldn't see what she was cooking yet, but he could smell it - beefsteak. He just could never get over the fact he lives on a ranch, havin' steak whenever he wants as long as he leaves enough to sell and make profit.
Instead of going inside to disturb Sallie, Mal sits on the stoop in front of the house, admiring the land before him. Split-rail fences ran about nine acres square, and the land itself was all tallgrass, what the mustangs didn't graze off of, anyhow. In the back of the house was the open land. All his. And Sallie's.
"Why ain't you in here helpin' me cook, Malcolm?" Sallie walks out onto the porch, hands on her hips forcefully. Not that she isn't beaming at him anyway.
"No reason...'cept for the fact you hate it when I cook." Mal smiles back, the worry lines he normally carries gone. "Come sit; tell me what's been goin' on."
"Ain't nothin' goin' on you don't know about, Malcolm Reynolds." Sallie folds up the dishrag she had been holding and tucks it into a pocket of her muslin skirt. "Cookin', cleanin', keepin' the horses fed 'n healthy. Mayor Jackson's after me to brand 'em. Not gonna though. Ain't fair to 'em."
Mal beams at her with this, taking her hand in his and kissing the top of it. "That's what I love about ya, Mama - got spirit."
Sallie takes out the dishrag from her pocket with a great deal of speed and thwaps Mal with it across the back of the head playfully. "Malcolm Beauregard, you know you only love me 'cause I cook for you." She reaches up and musses his hair - she only comes up to about his shoulders, so it's a bit of a task. "That's shiny, though - I love you too."
Sallie turns to walk back into the house, but spins to meet Mal's face as he tries to follow. "Where do you think you're goin' exactly?"
Dumbstruck, Mal returns, "With you, o' course. Aren't I stayin' for dinner?"
"Not yet you're not." Sallie has now broken out a tone of voice that might be the origin of Captain Mal speech patterns. "Got chores to be done. Come back when you're finished."
"But Mama, I been traveling all day. Can't I stay for a bit?" Mal pleads as best he can against the woman who made him who he is.
"I said no, Malcolm..." Sallie crosses the threshold again briefly to give him a kiss on the cheek.
"But I'll be here when you're done."