BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

ARCADIA

Over the Hills and Far Away - Ch 14
Sunday, June 18, 2006

Set after OIS. Much to Inara’s chagrin, Mal accepts a job offer that takes Serenity far away from New Melbourne and to an unremarkable moon called Three Hills... How will Mal react to Heather's choice? What was Inara and Abaddon's secret plan? Fine out! It's all here.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2054    RATING: 8    SERIES: FIREFLY

Ch 14

“You had no right –”

“I had every right—”

“No you didn’t, Inara!” Mal roared. They were barely inside the cargo bay and already she could see the vein in his temple threatening to explode. Inara had seen Mal mad. She had seen him livid, in fact. She had never seen him quite like this. There was a look of absolute abandon on his face, tangled with utter fury. He was furious with her. There would be no forgiveness for this. This time, however, Inara could look him in the eyes. He wasn’t going to forgive her? It didn’t matter. “You didn’t! You have your job. I have mine. I didn’t cut in when you were in the middle of sexing Heather’s boyfriend—”

“He came onto me—”

“—And you don’t talk my clients into firing me!”

“—And even if I had come onto him I had every right – and I most certainly did not talk Heather into firing you—”

“Yes you did. You did it, Inara. You did this. I put this crew together with the promise of work, and you, you and your big mouth, just took that away!”

~*~

May 20, 2511. Sihnon. Magdalen’s Private Hospital. Exam Room 7. Morning.

“I’m a big girl,” she said, sure to keep her face blank and her tone insistent. “Just tell me.”

Dr. Luka Crncevic looked down for a moment, playing with the file he held in his hands. He’s been Inara’s doctor since she was twelve years old, since the day she had been accepted into Sihnon’s training house. He had always been the consummate professional, warm without being overly open, insistent without being demanding. The thing she liked most about him was his honesty. He never flinched. Even when she’d fallen ill at eighteen with an illness he never could explain, he didn’t hesitate. He didn’t hide.

Now, he was doing both. Inara couldn’t blame him. For a brief moment, she felt a wave of guilt. She regretted shattering his confidence. He was a good man. “I ran the tests several times,” he said quietly. “Five, to be precise. I… Inara, you may want to sit down. It is quite a shock.”

Inara sat, letting her head tilt ever so slightly. She pressed her lips together. “Just tell me,” she said calmly. “Please.”

He had the respect and the decency to look her in the eyes when he told her. “Inara, you’re pregnant.” She gasped, letting her eyes go wide, her muscles tense, her lips part ever so slightly. There was a stretch of silence between. The only sounds that filled the room was that of her quick breath and a single swallow. “I’ve run all the tests, checked for tampering with the Prohibiter, and… Inara, I found nothing. The Guild will not blame you for this. It is not your fault. You understand me, right? This isn’t your fault. Sometimes… man was never meant to conquer his own biology, and sometimes God feels the need to tell us so. This is not your fault, Inara. This was beyond you.” She nodded, pressing her lips together, not meeting his eyes. “I’ve contacted both Lady Sato and a Guild psychologist. Inara, whatever you need, however minute it may seem, it will be provided.”

“Thank you…” she managed.

“You… you’re welcome,” he said. “Guild law mandates that I need to make sure you’re aware of your options before I can let you leave this room. We can… we can go over it now, or we can wait. Would you like me to call an attendant? We can get you some tea, make you a bit more comfortable.”

“No.” Inara said it sharply, almost with panic. “No thank you, Doctor. No thank you, I’m… I’m fine.” She looked him in the eyes for the first time since he delivered the news. “I… I’m ready to hear my options.” She smiled at him as best she could, trying to tell him it was all right even thought they both knew better.

“Well, you could keep the child.” She made a sound that was something between a gasp and a sob and a strange, strangled choke. “Choosing this option would effectively end your contract with the Companion Guild and invalidate any future contracts.” He paused, giving her a moment to let it sink in. “The second option…”

“The second option is termination,” Inara said lifeless. Her voice was nothing more than a whisper. She could barely hear it. “In the event of pregnancy, the Companion can choose to either carry to pregnancy to term or terminate it before the thirteenth week of gestation. Until the thirteenth week, she is allowed time to contemplate her choice. She is allowed to discontinue seeing clients, and.... I… it’s a very thoughtful provision, isn’t it? On Earth-that-Was this was done in secret. The women weren’t given… time.” She looked up at Dr. Crncevic. “How… how far along am I?”

“Only five weeks,” he said quietly. “You have plenty of time, Inara.”

“Yes,” she said quietly. “Plenty of… time.”

She noticed that the attendants were watching her as she left. They knew. Word was spreading quickly. Soon, the entire house would be aflame with the rumor. Inara Serra, considered to be among the most competent, confident, and professional of them all, was with child. Would she keep it? Would she chose to find out who the father was? Inara smiled as she exited the clinic. She knew the answers.

~*~

“Oh, yes, it was all me,” Inara countered. It really didn’t matter. Inara was hot and dizzy. Heather’s tea. She was burning up, a real fever. She felt she could fall over any moment. Her anger was the only thing keeping her on her feet, but it didn’t matter. None of it mattered. It was over. They were screaming, but it was over. Inara was gone. “It couldn’t possibly be you,” Inara screamed. “Or Heather. Of course it has to be me. Can’t handle your responsibilities? I did it. Maybe I charmed you out of them with my feminine wiles.”

“How could it have been me?” Mal shouted. “Did you hear me once utter the words ‘childish pranks’? No, wait. That’s the phrase that was coming out of your pristine mouth.”

“You and I both knew from the beginning that this job was a waste of time,” Inara said. “Graffiti? Shooting paintballs? You were in a war, Mal. Surely you’re not so thickheaded that even that couldn’t penetrate you—”

“Hey.”

“—You’ve got to know what true fear is,” she pressed on. She knew it was a line she’d be better off not crossing. It didn’t matter. “Something must have taught you along the way. I realize bombshells are only so big but even someone with your limited intelligence should be able to–”

“Hey!” he was on fire. “Don’t you ever talk about the war to me. Not ever.”

“Why?” Inara shouted. “Because it might hurt your feelings? Poor Malcolm Reynolds. He lost the war and it tore his heart out and now everyone around him has to walk on glass to keep it from breaking.”

~*~

May 20, 2511. Living quarters of House Mistress Aiko Sato.

Aiko Sato placed the tea cup into Inara’s hands with surprising gentleness. “You seem to be taking it well,” Aiko Sato said, taking her seat across from Inara.

“I think I’m still in shock,” Inara admitted.

“I imagine,” Sato said. “It is quite a lot to take in. Motherhood… it’s a very different life, one I am sorry to say I know nothing about. Don’t be fooled by my words. I feel nothing by unconditional love for each and everyone of my girls, Inara, no matter where they are, no matter what they do.” Her face was quite serious. It was the first time Inara could recall Aiko Sato looking old. “The Guild takes good care of its girls, Inara. Contracts can end, but the relationship between a Companion and her House is not so easily severed. Whatever choice you make…”

“I… I know,” Inara managed. She took a sip of her tea, swallowing hard. When she spoke, she looked her House Mistress in the eyes. “Thank you, Mistress Sato.”

“I took the liberty of reviewing your finances with one of our accountants on your behalf,” Sato pressed on, not verbally acknowledging Inara’s words, but clearly touched by them. It was written in the care and concern billowing out of Aiko Sato’s every suddenly clear wrinkle. Sato hadn’t been lying. She loved Inara very much, and Inara was grateful. “For now, of course, you have full access of your accounts. Many girls chose to take a trip. Mountain side resorts. Private islands. Any place that might help you think…”

“I… have a place in mind.”

“Good,” Sato said. “That’s good.” Sato sighed. “No one can accuse you of being lazy, Inara. Your accounts are quite sizeable. Should you chose to go, your monthly allowance would be quite comfortable. You won’t find yourself needing for money for a number of years. As I said, the Guild takes care of its girls.” Inara smiled and sipped her tea. “I am sure you are tired,” Sato said, “and would like to leave, but there is still the matter of your more immediate future. You were scheduled to go to the Shadow Refugee Relief Ball and Charity Auction with Abaddon Jiang…”

“And I’ll still be going,” Inara said quietly.

Aiko Sato smiled. “That,” she said, “I am glad to hear.”

~*~

There was a beat, a moment in time when neither of them moved, when they didn’t breathe, when their hearts didn’t beat. Suddenly, everything mattered again. “Oh, god, Mal…”

“Inara…”

“…Mal, I didn’t mean to say that. Mal, you know I would never think that about you, that I care about you beyond—”

“Care about me?” His anger would have been welcome. She couldn’t stand the defeat she heard in her voice. He crawled under her skin and began ruining her from the inside out. “Inara, you ain’t never cared about me. You’ve gone out of your way to make that as gorram clear as possible. ‘Course, I don’t expect I’m unique in that particular matter. Don’t suppose you ever did care ‘about anyone, ‘Nara. At least, not anyone but yourself.”

“Mal,” she said quietly, frantically. “Mal, you know that’s not true. I didn’t mean what I said. I’m sorry. Mal, you’ve got to understand, I didn’t mean what I—”

“Yes you did, Inara,” he said. She could see his lip trembling when he spoke. She could feel her entire body shaking. When he spoke, there were tears in his eyes, spilling over, falling down his onto cheeks. “You meant every word. I ain’t one of your clients, Inara. I ain’t no core-bred dandy, and you never did think much of me.”

“No, Mal... no.” She felt like there was no air in her lungs. Inara took a step towards him, tried to take his hand – to somehow take his hand – but he pulled it away from her. She stumbled. Hot tears were welling in her eyes. Suddenly, she was struck by a burning calm. The frenzy and the desperation that had been keeping her on her feet despite illness and exhaustion had suddenly evaporated. She was left with just one thing: the truth and her choices.

When she spoke her voice was unbroken and articulate. The hot tears began falling from her eyes. “Do you remember what you called me the first time we met?”

Mal sighed. “Do you honestly reckon I could forget?”

Silence stretched between them. Inside of it, Inara saw her future collapsing. Everything she’s ever imagined for herself was collapsing before her eyes. It wasn’t a loss of hope. It was a surrender of control. Though her tears fell, he lips did not tremble as she spoke. “You called me a whore,” she said quietly. There were no hints of accusation in her tone, but instead the slightest tremor of sadness mixed with defeat. “I didn’t care Mal.”

~*~

May 20, 2511. Sihnon. Hotel Niagra at Pāramitā Falls. Evening.

“How long do we have to wait?” Abaddon asked. They lay in bed, blue satin sheets their only cover, formalwear shed on the floor. Inara lay on Abaddon’s chest, her eyes half closed. The ball had been a trying affair. Pregnancy didn’t agree with extended hours in three inches heals while making constant chitchat with influential Sihnonese policy makers. She was feeling better now, less faint for certain, but she was still quite pregnant, which was tiring all by itself. It was hard to believe she had eight more months of it left. It seemed like a lifetime away.

Abaddon had been nervous as a school boy since she’d told him earlier that evening, though he was calming now. Inara couldn’t blame him, considering what they were about to do, though she’d thought someone in his line of work would be able to handle themselves a little better. She remembered her mother telling her once that family and children were truly the most frightening things in the universe, that when she was pregnant she’d have rather been burned alive than given birth. Inara hadn’t been much appreciative of the anecdote when she was ten years old. It had made her feel unwanted. Now, though, she was glad to have heard it. She understood.

“It shouldn’t take longer than three days to make all the arrangements,” Inara said quietly. “I’ll head to Osiris at the end of the week. Dougray should be able to make arrangements for you to join me there. We’ll wait it out a few days, let the Guild think I’m enjoying my vacation, then withdraw the money and run.”

“Hmm… as long as we’re pretending to vacation on Osiris, maybe we should vacation on Osiris,” Abaddon suggested.

“Maybe we shouldn’t,” Inara said with a smile. “We’re homeless, unemployed, and we have a baby on the way. We need to save all the money we can.”

Abaddon kissed her forehead. “We’ll find work soon enough,” Abaddon said. “Teacher and salesman, remember?”

Inara sighed. “Somehow,” she said, “I don’t think that having Former Companion and Browncoat Spy on our respective resumes is going to help us obtain those positions, fun as they were to talk about.” She closed her eyes, letting herself enjoy the feel of him beneath her for a moment. Abaddon Jiang. He was the one, the only person in the universe Inara would be willing to give up everything for. She smiled and, noticing his silence, opened her eyes. “What?”

Abaddon’s features were thoughtful. “You’ve never called me a browncoat before,” he said quietly.

“Should I not?”

He thought on it before answered. “You can, if you want,” Abaddon said slowly. “I’ve never really thought of myself as a browncoat. The browncoats are the ones fighting in the trenches. I’m…”

“An Independent,” Inara finished for him. He planted another kiss on her forehead. For a long while, neither of them spoke. Inara closed her eyes again and let herself drift on the edge of consciousness. Out smarting an organization as organized and controlled as the Guild was a complicated task to say the least. The day had tired her. She was glad Abaddon had stopped asking her questions about the money. When she’d told him her plan, he hadn’t understood. Why, he asked her at least a hundred times, don’t you get access to your accounts when you leave the Guild? If they give a Companion access to her accounts during her leave of absence, why not let her keep it when she decides to go? Why not give it to her in the first place? ‘Because the Guild wants to protect its girls’ wasn’t an answer that made sense to Abaddon.

In the highly unlikely event that a Companion was to become pregnant she was given two options. Stay and terminate the pregnancy, or go and have the child. Inara had never heard of a girl choosing to go, but she could see how the allowance system could be a comfort. The way Aiko Sato and others talked of it, the allowance system was designed to keep Companions, who so very rarely deal directly with their own coin, from becoming overwhelmed with financial burdens. It is a big adjustment, after all, to go from living in a house where all your furnishings are working expenses, your meals are taken care of for you, every cent you make is carefully tabulated and divided by Guild accountants who know how much needs to be put away for your wardrobe and your membership fees and your retirement fund. Having that gone, to some, was devastating. Fortunately, Inara wasn’t overwhelmed easily.

A baby, that thought was a bit overwhelming. Inara had been surprised by how easy it was to feign shock and disbelief when Dr. Crncevic told her of her pregnancy. Abaddon’s contacts had been surprisingly speedy in their task of finding a safe, untraceable, and, most importantly, temporary counter to the Prohibiter the Guild provided Inara each month to prevent pregnancy. They’d been able to start trying right away. The substance she had to drink was vile, but in exchange was awarded two days of fertility, two days with Abaddon. It seemed two days had been enough.

“Have you thought of any names yet?” she asked quietly.

“Names?” Abaddon repeated. “For…?”

She couldn’t help but laugh. “Our child.”

Suddenly, he was laughing too. “Oh, that,” he said, like it was nothing. “I… I really haven’t. Have you?”

“No,” Inara admitted. “My parents names are Layla and Haron, but my father hasn’t been part of my life since I was eleven, and my mother…”

“I’ve heard you talk plenty about your mother. If you decide you don’t want to be a traditionalist and name your daughter after your mother, you will hear no objections from me, not one,” Abaddon said. “In fact, I would prefer it, because it would get me out of having to name her Innocent, which was my mom’s name, and not the easiest name to grow up with, I imagine.”

“Innocent?” Inara repeated.

“And my dad’s name was Yáng Guāng, which isn’t much better.”

“Yáng Guāng? Are you serious?” Inara couldn’t help giggling. “That’s worse than Innocent. Much worse.” They laughed for a long while. When it died down, Inara closed her eyes again, absentmindedly brushing her stomach with the tips of her fingers. She could have lain there forever, happy. “You know,” she whispered, “in all our time together, you never told me exactly what it is you do.” She didn’t know why she asked the question, exactly. It passed her lips before she had a chance to think about what it meant. She opened her eyes. Abaddon wasn’t looking at her.

“Do you really want to know?” he asked. “I mean, would it matter to you either way? I know you could really care less about unification, but you’re hardly an independent.” It was true. The official Guild stance was of support for unification, and of course it would be nice if the rim could enjoy the technology and the medicine available in the Core, but in truth, Inara cared for neither side. It was a common sentiment. The war was so far away and didn’t affect her much one way or the other. All it had done was brought her Abaddon, and that’s all she would ever ask of it.

“Make love to me,” Inara whispered.

Abaddon smiled. “Sure you could handle it?” he teased. “I think you started snoring just a second ago…”

“Cute,” Inara quibbled. “I’m being serious, though. I want you to make love to me. I want the man who I love more than anyone else in the universe, the father of my child, the man with whom I’m going to run away with and settle half way across the universe and marry – I want that man to make love to me. Here, on Sihnon. One last time.” With a gentle hand, Abaddon cupped her cheek, before leaning over her to kiss her on her lips.

~*~ “And?” he pressed. “So what, Inara? This the part where you tell me how you didn’t care then and you sure ain’t gonna start carin’ know? Don’t gotta be schooled in body language and what-not to figure that one out. Message sent.”

“Mal,” she said. Her tone was patient. “This is the part where I tell you that I do care.” She looked away after she spoke, shielding herself from his reaction. Control. This was the control she had left, hiding from the fallout of her emotions. It wasn’t real. Nothing could make Mal unhear her words or stop him from reacting to him no matter how well she hid her face. She looked up again. For a split second before her eyes met his she hoped to see joy. She hoped to be welcomed by his gratitude and relief, to be embraced within his arms and held there tightly. She hoped to see in them stolen kisses and romantic strolls. Children…

Instead, she was met by stony blue orbs that held not a shred of sympathy or love or pity in them at all. “Well isn’t that nice, Inara. You care. Congratulations.” She felt her heart begin to sink as he shook his head. “I don’t.”

He turned and walked away.

. . . . . Yáng Guāng… sunshine

So… there it is, chapter fourteen. Now, onto chapter fifteen (a very exciting chapter indeed). Only six or so more! I don’t know if I will be finishing by July as I’d hoped, but we’ll see. My inspiration to write has rather waned since being home, but its starting to come back (yay).

Anyway… hope you liked the chapter. Peace! - Arcadia

COMMENTS

Sunday, June 18, 2006 8:12 AM

2X2


Oh god... you manage to rip my heart out nearly everytime I read a new chapter... is it odd that I love you for it? *G*

I have the worst, worst, worst suspicions about Abaddon now.. oh, gods... don't let it be what I'm thinking, but what it looks like *cowers*

And Mal... so *cold*... and then Inara wit her admission... maybe just a touch arrogant of her, to hope for his gratitude and relief.. and quite a shock to find neither, to find nothing for her at all... so painful... what will she do now??

I'm hurting here... hurting a lot... and I can't wait for more! Whether it's to feel more pain, or to hold on to the tiniest shred of denial and hope that there will be something of a happy ending between Mal and Inara.. I don't know... maybe both... but I'm already dying with anticipation for more!!

Wonderful as always!

Sunday, June 18, 2006 10:12 AM

AGENTROUKA


What a painful chapter, wow...

That fight with all its desperation and fury is such a wonderful contrast to the flashback and all the promise inherent in there.

And wow, you managed to shock me with that pregnancy reveal even though I knew from the last part it had to be coming... That was beautifully written, and especially the sense of uncertainty, what will Inara do.. until she smiles in that last sentence walking out of there.

Oooh, Aiko Sato.. so benevolent. I remain curious.

There's a sense of foreboding to the flash-back as well. Abbddon seems distracted and evasive... and Inara seems so happy, it really breaks the heart.

Still, the most captivating thing of all is all the harsh emotion you managed to put into that fight. Inara bursting out with the ugly truths and hitting Mal so dead-on. You shocked me with his tears and that moment right there let me know how this chapter would end, no matter what else they said because.. Mal just doesn't shed tears and if he does.. ouch.

It really hurt to read because he's right to react in this way but Inara is also right and it was liberating to hear her let loose in this way. Gah, tragedy!

And now I'm a little scared of how long I might have to wait for the next part because... whoa, intense.

Agent Rouka

Friday, June 23, 2006 1:18 AM

AMDOBELL


I'm a bit confused here. You have Inara all mushy and in love with Abbadon, the only man she has or ever will love then all those spikey angry dialogue scenes between Mal and Inara. The problem is that Inara has been saying and showing distain and such for Mal for so long that any words that imply real affection sound false, as if she is trying to manipulate him. "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive". Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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