FAITH SERIES: 16. "Parity"
Tuesday, August 1, 2006

"Inara finally tells Mal what he needs to know. Simon and Kaylee get a surprise they cannot turn down."



SUMMARY: "Inara finally tells Mal what he needs to know. Simon and Kaylee get a surprise they cannot turn down." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

He couldn't tell what time it was, all he could focus on was the feel of her fingers in his hair. Malcolm Reynolds lay in a boneless sprawl of utter content, his whole 'verse narrowed to this woman, this moment in time. Everything else could go to *diyu* if it meant he would get to keep this. As if hearing his thoughts, Inara leaned over him and gently kissed his closed eyes, a large happy smile sliding over his face and warming her heart. "Mal."

"Hmmm, like hearin' my name on your lips, *bao bei*."

Soft lush lips caressed his own, too lightly for him to catch in a kiss. Irritated at the teasing touch he opened his eyes and was captivated anew. Even after hours of love making Inara could still have walked out of a catalogue with not a hair out of place. Well, apart from that one, and the flush on her cheeks, the sparkle in her eyes that he had put there. Helped even more that she was as naked as he was, warm skin on warm skin. Every touch relighting embers that had settled to the warm afterglow that held them in thrall.

"Woman, what you do to me." He murmured, hands reaching for her, to draw her back down to him but contrary woman that she was Inara pulled back.

"Mal, we need to talk."

He wanted to yell at her, shake her hard for breaking the gorram mood. What was this? Payback for daring to have a happy moment shared? Mal pushed the uncharitable thought aside, he was over reacting, that was all. "What's so gorram important it can't wait until we wake each other properly?"

Her eyebrows rose at that but she didn't let him sidetrack her. He watched the shadows of her face sober the happiness that glowed from every pore of her. Something touching his heart with a vague premonition of impending doom. "There is something I have to tell you, Mal."

The Captain sat up, the mood forgotten as the look in her eyes set his heart into freefall. "Then best spit it out."

Inara liked that about him but that didn't make her little confession any easier to bear. Inara sat facing him and folded her hands demurely in her lap. It reminded Mal of a child preparing to be chastised. He hated that she was steeling herself for his reaction even before any words had left her mouth. But he loved her. Good news or bad he would listen even if it broke his gorram heart.

* * * * *

Zoe had been a little wary of having Charlotte while Kaylee and Simon were off planet on their honeymoon but truth to tell she would not have been happy if anyone else had taken over the baby's care. Just seeing the way Joshua and the baby were together brought the threat of tears to her eyes. It was a comfort knowing the children would grow up close, like brother and sister almost. If only Wash were here now to see this, he would love it.

Blinking back tears Zoe finished getting dressed. The luxury of a hot bath had made her take longer than she should have, staying in the warm soapy water long after the heat had left it and Joshua had clambered out. It had amused her the gentle way Joshua had helped wrap the wet baby, patting her skin with the towel until she was as near dry as made no never mind. Then Zoe had dried herself off and dressed, lingering in their room as she dressed her son, putting off the moment when they would have to go down stairs and join the Fryes. Knowing little Charlotte would be whisked away into her grandparents arms but how could she begrudge them that? All too soon this little idyll would be over and they would all be back aboard Serenity heading for the Black.

For just a moment, Zoe wondered what it would be like to put down roots. To have a home and a family with her feet set on solid ground, going about mundane but 'safe' jobs. Raising her son away from gunplay and Reavers and twisting duplicitous pieces of *goushi* like Badger. No longer running and hiding from the feds while reeling from one chaotic disaster to the next. But tempting as it was she could never leave Mal, couldn't leave Serenity. Mayhap space wasn't the best place to bring a little one into the 'verse but it was home and as Mal was wont to say, not nobody could take the sky from them. Everything else maybehaps but not that. For that reason alone she would always have a fondness for the Black. Zoe's nose wrinkled and Joshua laughed hopping about from foot to foot with excitement and impatience, trying to drag her to the door and hurry her up. Something tantalising was a-cooking and it seemed her son had inherited his father's nose.

Yep. It was time to rejoin ordinary folk. Let the happiness of the moment speak for itself.

* * * * *

It was so gorram outrageous that Simon stared open mouthed. Even though Kaylee was equally as shocked she found herself starting to enjoy it because of his reaction. Instead of pushing away the helping hands, Kaylee let the man begin to disrobe her, enjoying Simon's stunned expression as a deep red flush travelled up his neck and face.

"Kaylee! You can't, I mean..." Simon tried to brush the woman off who was tending him but her expert hands had already divested him of his vest and was working on the buttons of his shirt, completely unaffected by his windmilling arms and fish impressions. "You can't touch her, she's, she's my WIFE!"

The man seemed almost as amused as Kaylee. "A massage will assist you both to enjoy every moment of your stay, *shifu*."

Now Simon was embarrassed for a different reason, a slow burning anger beginning to build. "I can assure you I am quite able to satisfy my wife without any help."

Kaylee laughed, most of her clothes now lying in a neat folded pile at her feet. Down to her underwear Kaylee happily let the man remove the last remnants of her modesty while she avidly watched Simon's indignation turn from verbal remonstrations to incoherence then stunned silence. Oh, this was worth it just to see him like this! In fact, Simon was so shocked he no longer seemed to register the hands undressing him, Kaylee licking her lips when he was finally naked. For a long sweet moment the two just stared at each other, Kaylee flirting with her eyes and body, Simon trying to take in just what in the nine hells was happening and why he had absolutely no control over it.

While the lovers were distracted the two cases the attendants had brought with them were quietly opened and appropriate oils chosen then with a start, Simon jumped as warm hands began to rub the exotic oil into his shoulders. His mouth opened in protest only to stick in the open position as he watched the man do the same to Kaylee. But instead of freezing like some rigid and frozen popsickle Kaylee moved her body to allow the sweeping hands complete access, letting the bliss of being touched and caressed by hands gliding through warm scented oils take the last of the tension from her body. Fluttering her eyes to half mast she stared at Simon, slowly licking her lips and letting her eyes run over his body. The woman's hands now roaming across her Simon's chest. Simon wanted to throw her off, push the damn woman out of the door and tear the man off Kaylee. He didn't care whether they called it a massage or not the man was violating his wife and she was just letting him do it! Worse than that as he began to protest, Kaylee closed the distance between them and put a finger against his lips. Her eyes glittering with barely concealed lust and excitement as the last of his objections fell.

Simon let himself start to relax, knowing this was what Kaylee wanted. The moment he did so he began to enjoy the expertly roving hands, the little touches just enough titilation to focus his lust on the object of his desire. Simon closed the last inch that separated them and kissed Kaylee's glistening lips, her arms sneaking around his neck while the massage continued to prepare and exite them both. Kaylee letting the man part her legs and oil her stomach and thighs while the woman did the same to Simon. It was such a massive turn on, Kaylee could feel herself getting moist with anticipation, her body heating with need and desire. Soft words whispered into their ears while gently and carefully Kaylee and Simon were eased into some of the more advanced postions of the Kama Sutra. Yet instead of leaving the two attendants continued to massage and titilate both Kaylee and Simon until the fever of want and lust was so strong neither could contain the fire of passion that swept through them.

Uncaring of where they were and who was present Simon let himself go. They made love standing, lying, sitting, and in all manner of poses and positions that should not be possible for the human body to manage. But they had help. Unobtrusive and expert, something in the oils making them even more excited for each other than they had been before. Letting their bodies be manipulated as they kissed and touched and tenderly explored each other with more and more abandon. A need ignited that would not be denied. Sweat poured off them, hands touching them ever more intimately as they were guided into positions of copulation that had them bucking and straining until every muscle in their bodies trembled when they came.

When at last they collapsed exhausted and completely sated neither noticed the two attendants quietly put the oils back in their cases and leave. The man locking the door quietly behind them. It would be days before either Kaylee or Simon had the energy or desire to leave this room and by then the honeymoon would be over and they would be well on their way back to Carousel. Lost in the afterglow of sex, Kaylee and Simon lay in a warm loving tangle of limbs and slept.

* * * * *

It was hard to take in. That Inara believed every gorram word was obvious and like an arrow through his heart. Not that he would tell her that. "There has to be a way round this, *xin gan*."

Inara shook her head, allowing him to see true regret shining in her eyes. "*Bu qu*, I've looked at it from every angle Mal and there isn't a way out of this. Believe me, if there was I'd have found it by now."

Watching her face he couldn't help but accept she believed that, didn't mean he was willing to give up without a fight. The fact that she was hurt more than he could put into words. "Inara, before we say another word I need to know one thing. Do you love me?"

"Yes, Mal. With all my heart."

A smile pushed the wall of sadness from his heart, though lingering pain still warned him this was the easy part. "Then that's all that matters."

"Mal, *ni bu dong*. They will come after you."

"'Nara, I ain't entirely helpless, *dong ma*? They come an' I'll fight 'em off."

She shook her head. "They won't come like that."

*They'll come at you sideways*. Book's warning about the Operative echoed in Mals' mind. "Best speak plain, 'Nara. Who we talkin' 'bout?"

"The Guild."

"Guild is just people."

Another shake of the head. "No Mal, the Guild is Power. More Power than you can possibly imagine."

Mal frowned. "What ain't you tellin' me, an' don't be shy. Need everythin' in the open for once, *dong ma*?"

"The Guild has contacts everywhere, Mal. A word in the right place and you won't see it coming. Won't know who to suspect."

"Inara, I may not be real handy with swords but give me a gun..."

"That won't help, Mal."

"It won't?"

"The weapon of choice is nearly always a poison." She watched his face blanche. "Many are tasteless and colourless. They can be added to food, drink, some can even be added to scented oils and rubbed in the skin."

He swallowed slowly, his eyes not leaving hers. "How'd you know when..."

She was shaking her head. "You won't, that's the point. The poison affects the heart, Mal. Anyone checking the body afterwards will be convinced the victim had a heart attack. No stab or knife wounds, no gunshot or marks of violence to suggest any foul play. No finger to point at the Guild or anyone else for that matter. A clean death. Surgical strike. Effortless and unavoidable. It will look like a natural death."

The Captain stared at her in silence for several minutes before speaking again. His voice so soft she only heard him because of their close proximity. "How you know so much about it?"

It was crunch time. Inara took a deep breath but still couldn't beathe. Had to lower her eyes, her hands twisting together in her lap, her eyes filling with unshed tears. She didn't want to tell him, to bring the pain and futility of it all back to the surface to rob her of happiness twice in one lifetime. It wasn't fair but how could she keep him ignorant when it was his life that would be the price for staying silent? The Guild would never dare to harm her, she was too precious a commodity. Too much Guild time and money had gone into crafting her into their idea of perfection. A Companion was all things to all people, never showing her true face. She had shown it once before and a man had died for the privilege. She would not let Mal face the same fate. Steeling herself, Inara raised her head and looked him in the eye. "I know because they killed the man I loved. That was why I left Sihnon. I couldn't prove it Mal but I'm not stupid. I made the mistake of falling in love, forgetting that I was surrounded by Companions every bit as expert as I was in reading the signs. I couldn't hide my love for him and that sentenced a good man to his death."

All manner of clues were now dropping into place. So many things about Inara's moods and mannerisms making the kind of sense that had his heart aching. "*Wode ma*, they can't get away with that Inara. Its' murder!"

She laughed, a brittle broken sound that hurt them both. "They can do whatever they want, Mal. I can love you but I can never belong to you, do you understand?"

He took her hands in his. "That why you say we can't marry?"

Inara nodded. "Yes. That's also why I can't stop being a Companion. It would be a clear indication that I had fallen again. Oh, they wouldn't be up front about it they would simply send someone to snoop about. Someone who wouldn't arouse suspicion, someone who probably would think their actions harmless like gossip. That person would pass the information on, a decision would be made, and the next thing that happened would be the very sad and sudden death of a certain ship's Captain. Even Simon wouldn't be able to tell that it wasn't a natural death, Mal, and Simon's the best doctor I've seen in a long time. A man of that calibre would not be easy to fool."


"Don't, Mal."

He leaned back a little the better to see her face. "Don't what? You didn't let me finish what I was gonna say."

Inara kissed his cheek softly. Felt more like goodbye that all the words in the damn dictionary. "What were you going to say, *ai ren*?"

"You got a plan of how we can do this?"

That surprised her so much she wanted to laugh, only the matter was too grave for levity and they both knew it. Still. It was kind of fun to see that look on her face. "You want me to come up with a plan?"

He shrugged. "Your people."

"Mal, they are 'not' my people."

"Okay, 'business associates' then."

Her eyebrows rose.

"What?" He mocked lightly. "I can't use big words?"

"No, *ai ren*, it's not that I just didn't know you knew what they meant."

"*Shen haoxiao*, 'Nara, I'm bein' serious here. Have to tell you, I ain't givin' you up for nothing. Need to know if you feel the same way."

The tears she had been holding back trapped her eyes behind walls of glass. "Oh Mal, I love you so much it hurts."

"That a yes?"

Her look was enough to confirm that it was.

His voice was a hush of emotion fanning her face. "*Fang xin, bao bei* not nothin' gonna hurt you while I live 'n breathe. We'll find a way, 'Nara, I swear it darlin'."

She wanted to tell him that was the last thing he should do. That she wasn't worth dying over but the words stuck in her throat. Tears broke ranks and rolled down her face, her forehead resting on Mal's, her hands gripping his so tightly it almost stopped the blood flow but he didn't mind. Didn't care if the gorram sky shattered and fell down upon their heads just so long as he could hold her close. Be with her. Love her. Because he knew without a shadow of a doubt that he would love Inara Serra until the last gorram star in the sky went out. Mayhap they would have a troubled road ahead of them but there wasn't nothing they couldn't defeat if'n they faced it together. Mal pulled back just enough to drop a gentle kiss upon her forehead. All he had to do was convince the distraught and troubled woman in his arms that it was true.

"You know I'm *wangu, dui*?" He whispered as he gently kissed the tears from her face.

"You forgot *shenjingbing*."

He laughed quietly and kissed her again, glad that she was able to tease him. "I can accept that, stubborn an' crazy ain't such a bad thing." His lips brushed hers so gently it made her go weak inside for love of him. "I can live with that." He murmured into her hair.

Closing her eyes and holding him to her heart Inara hoped it would be enough because they would be betting two hearts on the outcome. She wasn't sure she could survive the loss of him if they failed. Finally Inara Serra had acknowledged the truth deep in her heart. Here, in Malcolm Reynolds arms was where she belonged. Not on Sihnon. Not even on Serenity. Land, Sea or Sky made no never mind. Her home was wherever this annoying, irritating, sarcastically funny and noble man happened to be. Oddly enough, that acceptance didn't break her or make her weak. If anything, it gave a strength that made her believe for the first time in her pampered existence that no power in the 'verse could stop her. She could have this. Have him. She just had to have faith. Once they had rested she would love him again. A long and langorous celebration of everything they felt for each other. Afterwards they would bathe then rejoin the others. The time for hiding was over.

Mal sensed the shift in her, began to pull back but was held tightly. Amused when her arms and legs wrapped possessively around him, Inara murmuring endearments into his ear. Coaxing him to forget their worries for a little while longer. For Inara the hard part had been telling him but now that Mal knew she felt unburdened in a way that made her heart sing. As her tongue slid into his ear the Captain shivered, Inara smiling against his cheek. Her body rubbing against his and waking up parts of him that made her own body thrum with desire. Yes. A long and langorous celebration seemed like just the thing.

* * * * *

Jayne was as restless as a new colt finding his feet. Gorramit the itch between his shoulder blades was making him ansty. The children ran off to play among themselves, instinctively knowing the big man would not be wanting to join in. Jayne peered from under the brim of his hat, eyes carefully scanning around for anything that might explain this sudden prick of danger lurking unseen but there was nothing to see. Mr Frye came out of the house and called out to him, breaking Jayne's concentration. Then the fleeting feeling fled and he shook himself.

Breakfast was a merry affair, the huge family table groaning under the weight. Zoe was late to table, her hair hanging damp but combed down her back, Joshua racing over to get some bacon before Jayne ate it all. She laughed, easing baby Charlotte out of the crook of her arm and into Mrs Frye's waiting arms. The woman so full of happy that Zoe was pleased to do so. She could see Kaylee's smile in her mama and when the girl got stubborn it was a patented look from her father. No one could ever doubt whose child Kaylee was. It made her smile, her eyes going to where Joshua was sitting, his light curly hair framing a face so like Wash's that it brought a lump to her throat. Then River was singing some nonsense song about baking blackberries in a pie and everyone was talking at once, the joy in the air so thick you could almost butter it on new bread.

Just as Zoe took a seat beside her son the door opened and Mal and Inara joined them. She noticed they were holding hands and couldn't hide a satisfied little smirk, happy that her talk with Inara had brought the Companion to her senses. Whether it would last or not depended on the two of them. Jayne watched the Captain pull a chair out for Inara with a look close to awe on his face. Naturally, the look turned to smut in a heartbeat. "Huh, can see ya got laid at last! 'Bout time ya sorted yourselves out."


Mal's sharp tone made the big man look up and frown. "*Shenme shi? Just speakin' as I find, Mal."

"Prefer you not speakin' at all, *dong ma*?"

Instead of letting the mercenary answer, Zoe leaned around her son to pin him with a stony glare. "Mind your manners Jayne or the on'y food you'll be eatin'll be at the bottom of the pig's trough."

Mouth full, Jayne scowled half in defiance and half hoping she was just making an idle threat. "Ya can't do that!"

"No," Said Mrs Frye calmly as she rocked her grand daughter in her arms. "But I can."

Jayne blinked and dipped his head. Weren't fair, everybody ganging up on him.

As everyone settled in to eat no one noticed a small craft land the other side of Serenity. The mood inside the house picking up with playful banter and anecdotes. River was laughing at something Jayne had said when she froze, her eyes taking on a far away look. Mal glanced at her in concern. "Thirteen," She said softly. "Unlucky for some."

Zoe counted the places round the table. With them, the kids and Mr and Mrs Frye there were twelve. Oddly enough it relieved her. She caught Mal's eye and knew he had done the same. His little smile was good to see.

"Lucky it's just the twelve of us then, little albatross."

Heads nodded, more food dishes were passed back and forth and the conversations picked up again but River didn't eat anything else, just sat quiet and still. Her eyes not focused, waiting for the unseen hand to knock on the door.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*diyu* = hell *baobei* = precious/treasure *goushi* = crap/dog shit *shifu* = sir *xin gan*/*ai ren* = sweetheart *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *dong ma* = understand? *ni bu dong* = you don't understand *wode ma* = mother of God *wangu* = stubborn *shen haoxiao* = very funny *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *dui* = correct *shenjingbing* = crazy *shenme shi* = what's the matter?


Tuesday, August 1, 2006 6:17 AM


That massage....whoa. When my brain reforms after having been melted, maybe I'll have something more coherent to say.

>"What?" He mocked lightly. "I can't use big words?"

Oh, this made me laugh so hard!

River was creepy at the end too. Now who could be coming to pay them a visit?

Lovely chapter. Looking forward to more.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006 6:34 AM


>He shrugged. "Your people."

"Mal, they are 'not' my people."

"Okay, 'business associates' then."

Her eyebrows rose.

"What?" He mocked lightly. "I can't use big words?"

"No, *ai ren*, it's not that I just didn't know you knew what they meant."<

Oh that's perfect Mal/Inara!
Can't wait to read your next post!

Tuesday, August 1, 2006 8:00 AM


Whoa, good massage!

Another excellent chapter Ali... can't wait to see who's at the door and what the impending disaster is.

Thanks for sharing

Tuesday, August 1, 2006 3:34 PM


I could have sworn I left a comment earlier... Anyways, another great chapter! I'm interested to see who it is who just landed.

Thursday, August 3, 2006 6:00 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER was too damn hot for its own good! You definitely know how to raise the "GUH" factor, Alison:D

Oh...and I gotta agree with the mob here. Your Mal/Inara exchange, especially the "big words" exchange was brilliant and totally in character. Even when bound, these two can't stop taking the piss out of the other;)



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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.