Thursday, August 3, 2006

A post-Out of Gas fic. Inara's POV.


Title: Comfort Disclaimer: It belongs to the hero of browncoats, the man we call Joss Rating: G Word Count: 1323 Summery: A post-Out of Gas fic. A/N: Consider this my apology for the fact that "Over th Hills" is not going to be finished by the end of today, and y'all are gonna have to wait until I have internet access at my new apartment to read it, which... well, that could take time. Sorry!


“…you’re all gonna be here when I wake up?”

“We’ll be here,” says Book as Mal allows himself to close his eyes. He falls asleep, surrounded by his family at last.

If Inara can call herself that. A part of his family.

The crew slowly filters out of the infirmary. First Jayne, uninterested in staying now that they are sure that Mal is on the mend. He has better things, like sleeping, to do in his bunk. Kaylee leaves next, eager to check over her engine one last time before turning in for the night. Book accompanies her, interested in seeing the captain’s handy work for himself, “with my own old eyes,” he jokes. Kaylee bursts into laughter. “You ain’t old, Shepherd,” she says as they left the room.

Inara chats idly with Wash as Simon leaves briefly to put River to bed. Inara knows that Simon doesn’t really need to do this. River is nearly a woman after all, and Inara can sense she is capable despite her traumas, capable enough to put herself to sleep anyhow, but Inara can’t blame Simon for wanting to tuck his sister in nonetheless. They have been through an ordeal, all of them. Inara can’t blame him for wanting to stick with what’s familiar and comfortable.

When Simon returns he does a quick examination of Wash and Zoe both and declares them fit to sleep in their own bunk, as long as Zoe doesn’t walk there herself. Zoe doesn’t like this, but the prospect of her own familiar bed is too great to refuse just for pride. She lets Wash and Simon carry her on a stretcher. Inara watches them go. When they are out of sight she turns to Mal. She is alone with him now for the first time.

For a moment, she thinks of kissing him again, like she did the last time this relief flooded through her – this special relief that she can only feel when she finds him alive despite being certain of his death. It’s an overwhelming relief, but when it starts to fade it leaves her shaking. It is too much to take.

Simon is back before Inara can do anything, before she can move or kiss him. His is back before she can ever hold Mal’s hand. Simon thanks her for watching him. She insists it was no trouble. “I’m just so…” she stops. She didn’t realize that she was speaking aloud. Simon looks at her, waiting for her to continue. For a moment the universe stops. Inara reminds herself that she has, after all, been through an ordeal, too. They have all been through an ordeal. So, she turns to Simon, eyes wide open, and does something unfamiliar. She says, “I just…”

It doesn’t come out the way she wants it to. She turns away, her eyes refocusing on Mal. He looks peaceful when he’s sleeping. It’s a nice change from the troubled furrow that often graces his brow. The words, then, come to her, and she says, “Thank you. For keeping him alive.”

Simon doesn’t respond to her thanks out loud. Inara decides not to read into it. She doesn’t want to know if he’s not answering because he’s tired and overwhelmed, or if he’s not answering because he knows now what Mal means to her, who he is to her… It wouldn’t be a surprise to her, not really, if the ship knew her secret. She was in love long before she knew she was. Perhaps, in this particular matter, others’ perceptions were more astute than hers. Perhaps Zoe or Simon has known long before she began to suspect….

Simon puts his hand on her shoulder, pulling her out of her thoughts. “He’s going to be okay,” Simon says, voice low. He withdraws his hand, becoming the doctor as he continues to speak. “The internal injuries weren’t especially severe. It’s the blood loss, more than anything else, that put him in danger. But between the blood transfusion and the saline, he’s much improved. He’s still weak from the trauma, but he’s getting better.” His detached, clinical tone tells Inara that she needn’t worry. Simon doesn’t know about her. A part of her is disappointed. Inara is alarmed to find herself feeling this way, but not surprised.

“You should get to bed, too,” Simon says. “We’ve all had a long day.”

“Are you sure you don’t require some company?” Inara asks.

“I’ll be all right.” A faint smile lights his face. “I went to med school, remember? Forty-eight hour shifts in the ER… compared to that, sitting with the captain for a few hours should be…” He yawns involuntarily. “Sorry.”

“That’s all right.” On the diagnostic table, Mal shifts in his sleep. “I should stay with you,” Inara says firmly. “It sounds like you need someone to keep you from falling asleep.”

“No, it’s fine. Everything’s set,” he says, gesturing vaguely towards the equipment “All of these things have alarms. If I fall asleep, I’ll be woken up.”

“Huh,” she says, almost inaudible. It’s very Mal of her to say, and she knows it. She didn’t mean for it to escape her lips. It’s almost enough to make her cry, to make her fall apart but… “Well, I suppose I should take my leave,” she says, smiling at Simon with false cheeriness. “As you said, it’s been a long day.” She bids him good night before leaving the room.

She tries to go back to her shuttle, but she is restless. She is tired to the point of exhaustion, but she can’t sleep. She walks soundlessly to the kitchen, makes herself some tea. The liquid feels good going down her throat, soothing and warm. It is a comfort, but it doesn’t last. She cleans her teacup and puts it back with hands that barely shake.

She decides to walk the ship a while. She doesn’t do this often, though she listens to Mal do it every morning. She tells herself that she listens solely for business reasons. When Mal is ambling leisurely that usually means his mood is fair. He’s content, serene. When he’s angry his walk is faster and heavy. Excited is faster too, but with lighter steps, and when she hears it she smile because it almost sounds like dancing.

Sadness is Mal’s slowest walk. She can hear his feet shuffling, the dragging of his boots against the grating of the catwalk. When she hears it she knows its not the time to pepper any of their upcoming conversations with fun phrases like ‘petty thief’ and ‘thoughtless bastard’, though she is aware he might call her a whore depending on whether his sadness is truthsome or self-indulgent. She thinks she is close to being able to distinguish one from the other, but she can’t quite yet. Its business, she tells herself. She needs to know who she’s dealing with. She ignores the twinge of happiness she feels as she listens, knowing that she knows him well.

Walking does not comfort her the way she wants it to, so Inara stops walking and leans against the catwalk railing. She looks down at the cargo bay below. It is so big, but she can only see one small spot. She sees Mal’s blood, dried upon the grating where he must have fallen. The image takes her by surprise. She bites her lip to keep the feelings back – the sadness and the fear and the agony that she just can’t stop – but she cannot look away from it, the small pool of dried blood on the floor.

Inara takes a moment. She takes deep breaths, gets a hold of herself, and then turns around heading for the kitchen. When she returns to the cargo bay she is holding a small bowl of water and a tattered cloth in her hands. A strange sense of comfort settles over her as she cleans his blood off of the floor.


Thursday, August 3, 2006 7:11 AM


This was a lovely little scene from Inara's pov.

I think Zoe, on some level, definitely knows that Inara has feelings for Mal.

No shock Simon doesn't see it here. He isn't real perceptive when it comes to women, after all!

Cleaning away the blood at the end seemed so natural.

Very nicely done!

Thursday, August 3, 2006 7:24 AM


Absolutely brilliant and insightful Inara piece, if only she would show more of her real feelings when the Captain is up and about. And I disagree about Simon, I think he knows but is too polite and caring to call attention to something Inara is obviously not willing yet to share. Him going to check on River is his way of giving her a little time alone with Mal though he knows he has to return to watch over his patient and ensure he really is out of the woods. Great tale, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, August 3, 2006 8:01 AM


I love the insight to Inara here. Her wiping up the blood in the cargo bay is very telling. She would need to wash away that reminder, especially as it would pain her everytime she saw it.

I kind of wish she had stuck to her guns though and stayed in the infirmary with Simon - or at least squeezed Mal's hand before she left. Simon would know not to say anything, to be discreet - and Inara needs to let on to her feelings.

Of course, we know she doesn't, but it's nice to dream! *sigh*

Great stuff, write some more, please.

Thursday, August 3, 2006 10:22 AM


Let that fool wash his own blood off the gorram floor!!!!

Just kidding. That fact that she does it speaks volumes.

Thursday, August 3, 2006 8:38 PM


Loved this one. I've read a lot of post Out of Gas fics, but none Inara, and this one is exceptional.

Saturday, August 5, 2006 5:34 PM


Bribing us with one-shots, huh? Must know how to grease the wheels right;)

Definitely a brilliant and telling look into Inara's psyche post-OoG and pre-HoG...though I like to think Simon's a bit more perceptive when it comes to things not related to his own interactions with women;D

Oh...and if the need to grease some palms comes up again? I think you'll find some decent reception 'round here:D


Sunday, August 6, 2006 4:49 AM


Very nice Arcadia! Inara and Mal are so alike some times it's scary. Bith bottling up their feelings. Not letting anything show.

Sunday, August 6, 2006 5:54 PM


very lovely piece. i tend to think everyone on serenity knows about mal's feelings for inara and probably vice versa. simon is braindead when it comes to kaylee, but otherwise he's smart and quiet--the type who tends to observe. so i'm guessing he's aware of inara's feelings on some level. but anyway, i love inara's restlessness here, wandering the ship as mal so often does. very pretty! thanks~


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