Saturday, July 22, 2006

Inara's very own spirit of change. - Inara/Other, a slightly nebulous look at her after the series, written in mid-April.


Set close to the end of the series. The movie is completely off the table. Inara/Other. semi-unfluffy and wholly confusing.

ying huo chong - firefly xiao chou - clown


Ghost/Mirror ------------------------------------

The long fingers danced over her naked stomach, being very mindful not to tickle until the very last and most unexpected moment. Which enabled her to catch and trap them long before.

She wasn't quite witless, certainly. Not in this scenery that was her canvas.

The move went unappreciated, if the disappointed grumble against her shoulderblades was any indication and immediately one foot started up a new line of distraction against her calves.

Distraction, obfuscation, gentle disorienting fog.

How did it always find her in the shape of this man?

It had been easier when he was still asleep, and she could busy herself staring at the untiring glare of the digital clock. Minutes had gone by in front of her eyes, a novel and time-honored kind of meditation and behind her eyes she'd watched her life go by and tried to find the one moment where it all went wrong, the one she hadn't noticed, where she became not a woman but a picture of one.

It was a moment she couldn't find and the longer back she searched, the more pronounced grew her frown.

She hadn't felt out of breath until she'd realized she's been running for years. The very, very exhausting thought kept her from sleeping in this strange bed. If she'd had time to sleep.

Waldron's fingers slowly but insistingly wormed their way out of her grip and danced down her stomach again.

"You're not allowed to start brooding until my time is up, ying huo chong. Don't hurt my tender feelings."

He always knew what to say. Or rather, the way to say it.

"I didn't realize they were tender enough to be hurt, xiao chou."

The mirage behind the curtain behind the door behind the jet black hair and eyes.

The man with the secret past and evasive answers, he felt like home because she saw herself and he saw his mirror image in her. It had made everything so easy, this recognition in the nothing that they knew of each other.

In a different world, he would be her brother, made of the same flesh, cast of the same mold by some unimaginative, kindly creator who would construct with flaws in mind and watch his stumbling children with benevolent indifference. Her brother.

Not that the thought wasn't a little bizarre, considering.

He'd been a client long ago. In the shimmering half-real world that Sihnon was starting to become in her memory. The lights and the wealth, the humming presence of spirit that had infused her with such energy, day in day out. The pictures were starting to fade.

But that life was real.

Proof was nudging his knee between hers and pouting against her back.

"You wound me."

He played. With words, with her body, with her. It was the best kind of interaction, she wished. Oh, how she wished, with her eyes closed and losing herself to the touch.

She would leave.

Him, everything, everyone, everywhere.

"At least, say my name, if you can't think it."

"Xiao chou?"

Sweat was gathering along her back and she sighed more than spoke, a little sad. Naturally, Waldron giggled, a little drunk in that way of his.

"You torment me so, dear."

He could have been the perfect man, to illicit such smiles in her. If only.

"It's what you pay me for."

The pillow appreciated the words, she was sure, and his mouth on her neck was doing rewarding things inbetween hushed whispers.

"But I am not paying you."

No. Not this time.

Fate was the word for those that chose to believe, and in her rare moments of trust, she dared do so. To meet here, on this rock, without prearrangement, it was somewhat much to ask but as if carefully crafted by spells and prayers he had appeared in a backwater market. Between fresh bread and fresh cabbage.

He had laughed and pointed his finger at her like she had played a trick on him and it had brought her near tears.

And then they had gone to a cheap little room on this cheap little planet because her shuttle was packed up and hollow, just like she was, just like her.

It had been so good.

Afterwards, again, he wrestled her into looking at him and pouted until she rolled her eyes. Xiao chou, always.

"Why so sad, precious? You have to tell me. It's bad luck to pass up the prophet's wisdom."

The prophet, the wanderer, the raven that dragged her unmaking on the tip of his wing. He always had and she wondered at it through her irritation.

Maybe he was a figment of her imagination. Maybe he always had been.

She laid her teeth against his throat, just for a moment and tasted the moisture, a silent reprimand for asking. He didn't even twitch, safe and secure. She fancied, he might not even move if she slowly ripped his skin and drank his blood. He might even laugh through it.

"I'm leaving everything behind." Again.

His hand played at her cheek, knitted in her hair and he hummed like a mother.

"I know, I know."

Of course, he knew. It would be against the rules if he didn't know, so she closed her eyes and made herself naked, more naked and supplied the evidence to her judge.

"I can't stay on the ship and stay who I am."

He giggled again. It wasn't right that he should giggle and she frowned against his collarbone to make him stop.

"You're not leaving the ship, silly."

He was playing and it hurt. Of course, she was leaving the ship. To contradict it was foolish cruelty and she punished him by sitting up and turning away in the most languid way she knew.

"You are wrong."

The time on the clock had marched on without her scrutiny. Marched on far too quickly. She needed to return for as long as it still mattered. Before they worried and went to trouble.

Waldron rose with her and clamped himself to her back.

"Oh, don't be angry with me, my little ying huo chong." He cajoled in sing-song voice, like a child, like an insane child. "You know I'm right. There will be change, either way. It's why I'm here."

Like a child, herself, she glared at her dress that she so carelessly draped over the back of a chair. There were wrinkles. Telling wrinkles, which he would love. Marks and proof.

"You're not right," she repeated, the same but different.

So smug. So tender.

"I was right before. I prophesied your departure from Sihnon."

The prophesies that she chose to fulfill or did the prophesy choose her? At the time, it hadn't seemed possible to separate word and intention in her own mind. The knowledge, though, had been a comfort, the jump was made easier for knowing he saw it in her, as ridiculous and manipulative as it was. He had seduced her into it, convinced her with the allure of his homeless romance.

"Five years too early. I didn't leave until..." That. "... two years ago."

She dragged his clinging, groping body with her to the mystifying construction she infered to be a sink.

Their hands battled for experimentation rights. Waving, pushing, twisting. A few moments of delay for the core-bred children of luxury to acquaint themselves with the primitive functionality of the poor. She let the water run a minute before touching it and he tsk-tsk-tsked into her ear for the waste.

"I can see the ship in your eyes."

He couldn't see her eyes now, but then, he never needed to and she knew him to be right.

The water splashed from her hands to her body, trickling away sweat and other things, conveniently spraying him with coldness and he grunted. A small concession to humanity, to let such irritation show. A small concession to practicality, to move out of her way and let her wash her own back.

She cringed, watching him step into his clothing without a bath and he smiled, watching her shiver, wet in the unheated room.

"Whatever he did to wrong you, I am sure you paid him back handsomely. Sleeping with the enemy..."

He nodded, admiring her wicked ways. Infuriatingly, it made her feel both dirty and cleansed. She had missed the feeling from the first moment she drew tea under his mocking observation, never knowing why he picked her, never knowing why she picked him. Their mutual punishment was as mysterious as the universe itself.

His uniform was unfairly tidy but the light in his dark, dark eyes was pure filth.

"You are not the enemy, Waldron."

Surely not. He was no one's but his own. The man who couldn't be touched, who couldn't be tied, be found, be held, be bound... The drifter, vagrant, gypsy child. She had no idea what he did for the Alliance but it couldn't be good and there couldn't be a creature out there more scared of himself than he. Not even her.

She understood that. They were born under the same unlucky star and she knew and for that, he wasn't her enemy.

He smiled so sadly. "Not yours, no."

But the uniform made him Mal's.

"It's not about him."

In front of his eyes, she stepped into her imperfect dress and ran fingers through her imperfect hair. With luck on her side it would look windblown. With luck on her side, no one that cared would even see it.

But Waldron saw and catalogued, as his tilted head revealed. Birdlike and immaculate and unreadable like a statue of black marble, like something she would kneel at to pray, drowsy with incense. She wanted to tell him all her secrets, but he already knew them, without knowing.

They were the same, after all.

He even knew how to smile with empty sincerity. "If I can't pretend it's about him, how can I pretend it's about me?"

They were not for kind lies. All their kindness was real.

"It's about me."

All their kindness was truth. His mouth widened like she had pleased him, the child that learned her lesson. Ah, she knew he was proud, his compelling predictions would do his work for him. Her mind was that pliable a playground.

Flexible, she preferred to call it.

After all, it was all about her.

They left together, eventually. He paid for the room, she let the speculative glances wash over them both and took his arm to stroll out into the dusty street and make it a gold-paved Core world avenue with the gravity of their combined glamor.

The fed and the whore.

The raven and the doll.

The clown and the firefly.

He walked her all the way to the ship, playing the gentleman at her side, nodding at the citizens that hurriedly passed his grey-cloaked shape. The morbid humor gnawed at her.

"Why do you make fun of them?"

She didn't look at him, so the petting of her hand was the only way to read his silence as momentary shame.

"Because I can. I will be gone tomorrow and even the dirt can tell I don't belong."

"A traveller belongs nowhere, Waldron."

It would be wisdom, if it was true. Alas, she was living proof that belonging could catch you like a beartrap. If she let it.

They stopped in front of Serenity and she watched him look over the metal and scrapes with narrowed eyes like a sceptical audience. He teased, shook his head and muttered with scandalized tones.

"Rusty. I am aghast."

"Lived in," she corrected.

Her arms slid from his in slow motion. Letting go one more time, releasing each other into uncertainty. He had delivered her to another crossroad.

"Until some day."

He winked. "Until some day."

Turning around didn't want to happen. Bound again, by the prophet and the prophesy. The spell he wove on her, both curse and blessing, pointed in only one direction, seductively camouflaging choice and dressing it up in fate. All that was left for her was to walk on. Jump on the train, make fate her choice.

Somewhere inside, she knew better. But superstition was its own kind of control.

"Go on. Be what you need."

It was a crutch. It was her brother's kiss.

"How can you know?"

"It's our way."

He shrugged and kissed her cheek.

"When you need to, you'll find me again."


She started walking, homeward, away.

Someday, maybe never. If she was lucky.



Saturday, July 22, 2006 7:07 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER were right...I am mightily confused:S

So...based on your notes at top, the BDM didn't happen and Inara's with Serenity. So...either she never left after the events of the comics or another reason arose for her to return to Serenity than an Operative trying to use her as bait.

I guess my wonderfully instigated confusion comes with the fact is that Inara actually gave into someone who sees through the veils and the training and the smoke show, doesn't seem to care, but still generates some level of distaste or disinterest in Inara. Guess you just write a slow-acting piece of brilliance, AgentRouka:D


Sunday, July 23, 2006 1:40 AM


I edited the story information a little to make it clearer, so thank you for pointing out the source of confusion. Yes, it's set right after the series before any leaving takes place. :)

I'm glad that in spite of the uncertain setting you got so much of what I tried to put into the story! I'm thrilled!
Inara's scared of being pinned down, so anyone who can do so harvests some irritation. It's a badge of honor, in a way, hehe.

Thanks for reviwewing!


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