Don’t Leave Me
Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Written for FireflyFriday. Inara makes a wish, and Mal has a not especially good dream about it. Kinda corny in the “It’s a Wonderful Life” way. M/I, of course.


Title: Don’t Leave Me Challenge: 133, a wish Words: 989 Disclaimer: It’s all about Joss Summary: Written for FireflyFriday. Inara makes a wish, and Mal has a not especially good dream about it. Kinda corny in the “It’s a Wonderful Life” way.

Don’t Leave Me

“Well, maybe you shoulda never come here at all, then!” Mal shouted.

“I wish I hadn’t,” Inara said back, voice raised but still poised. Sharp. Mal blinked, feeling almost nauseated immediately. He waited for Inara to flinch and take it back and tell him she didn’t mean it. Instead, she turned around and walked into her shuttle, closing the door sharply behind her. For several seconds, all Mal could do was stare at it. Then he, too, turned around, and headed for his bunk, not bothering to return Kaylee’s cheery hello as he went.


Mal knew that he wasn’t innocent in all this. He knew that he, too, had wished, several times and out loud, that Inara had never set foot aboard Serenity. While her status as a registered companion did come in handy now and again when he needed docking permits and the like, more often then not in was a complication. Inara, demanding he didn’t take one job offer or another because it interfered with her schedule. Inara, telling him to land on so-called “respectable” worlds he had no mind to land on, so that she could do her job.

So of course sometimes he wished she were gone, that they’d never met. He wished she would leave. Pack her bags and get off his boat, never to return.

But he never imagined that she felt the same way. Never.

Unable to think on it any long, Mal sprawled himself across his bed and fell into a fitful sleep.


He dreamed of the wish, dreamt that he had never known her.

He dreamed that they landed on Harvest, just as they had that morning, to negotiate the transport of some livestock, pigs, with a fellow named Lenny Harlan. The ship landed. Mal stepped out, Zoe by his side, stretching her stiff wrist. She’s injured it when they were breaking out of a prison in Paridiso some time back. They’d pulled a train job, but it hadn’t worked the way they planned. The goods made it to the ship, but Mal and Zoe hadn’t, and eventually they were apprehended. They waited for a while for the crew to rescue them, but with Jayne as acting captain rescue was no where to be found. They were off, delivering the goods to a fellow called Niska.

So, Mal and Zoe had to get out of prison there own selves. And Zoe had been hurt. Mal has tried to fix her up best he could, but he was no doctor. Briefly, Mal thought about the doctor they almost had, the boy they hat left on Whitefall, and his fragile sister with dark, haunting eyes that still sometimes made an appearance in Mal’s dreams.

Next out of the boat was Kaylee, still all frowns after the recent death of one of their passengers, Shepherd Book. Mal felt mighty torn up about it his own self. The man had gotten caught in the crossfire when they had been delivering some cattle on Jianyin (on the ship, Mal watched over them alone, drinking Kaylee’s wine while sitting on the catwalk). It was a terrible mess. Mal and Zoe tried to patch him up best they could, but it wasn’t much help in the end. The man died. They returned his body to the Southdown Abby on Persephone, which is were the man had lived before comin’ aboard. Kaylee cried for days. Some nights, Mal was sure she still cried.

Last out the hatch was Wash, followed closely by Richard and Fanny Li, the prospector and his wife who rented one of Mal’s shuttles. They were kind enough folk, but a bit on the nosy side, and a tad critical. They were talking up a storm about Wash’s landing, asking him why it couldn’t be a bit smoother. They were tryin’ to have a baby, they said, and that kind of rough landing would be no good for a woman during pregnancy, nor a little baby new to the world. Mal would need to have a talk with them soon. He didn’t much like the notion of a little one on his ship.


Waking up was calm. He opened his eyes and lay still in his bed.

He started shaking.

Shaking, every muscle in his body reacting against the dream he just had. His stomach tightened, and for a moment Mal was certain he was going to vomit. He took a deep breath, then another, then another, and slowly his body calmed down. His stomach relaxed. The shaking stopped. He was left with his eyes open, lying in his bed with his eyes open.

He threw on his clothing and went to her.

He didn’t know, really what he was going to say. Mal was never much for planning, really, not with the personal stuff, anyway. It was late. She was probably sleeping. He would wake her up. She wouldn’t like it, but he had to. He needed to tell her. She needed to know that –

They almost bumped into each other as he entered the kitchen. “What are you doing?” he demanded, words harsh.

Inara rolled her eyes at him. “Getting some tea. I couldn’t sleep. Is that all right with you, Captain Reynolds?”

“It’s a… it’s fine,” he said quietly. He sat down at the table and watched her. When she was finished preparing his cup, Inara turned and left, leaving Mal sitting there, alone. He didn’t follow her. He wasn’t quite sure why. She was beautiful. She was… and she hated him. Mal was certain of it, suddenly. Everytime he wished her away, he was kidding himself. But when she wished him away, it was real. Mal forced himself to stand up. He took one last look towards the other end of the kitchen, close to where she was, and then dimmed the lights, before heading to his bunk.


In her shuttle, Inara, alone, silently began to cry.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006 4:27 AM


wow. i never thought of it that way before. its kinda funny how things and people are meant to be right where they are. i rather liked it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 9:00 AM


That's really cool how you tied in all the things that would have happened if Inara hadn't been there - Simon and River getting kicked off, the Shepherd dying, all of that ... that's really cool way to think on it ...

Of course the two of them have their heads stuck up their pi gus - doesn't it just drive you nuts?!?!? But still, this was great, perfect M/I.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 12:07 PM


this is lovely, but it feels unfinished. are we going to see inara's side of this? maybe she has a similar dream--what if she never left the guild....

overall, very pretty, though i dont think mal would have left simon and river on whitefall with the reavers. he would certainly be a darker character without inara's presence though. she makes him wanna live, when all he was doing was surviving.

sequel? ;)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 12:31 PM


Yeah... I thought for a long while on the fate of Simon and River, and honestly couldn't decide whether Mal would have left them or not. So, I decided, why not? and went for the heightened impact of having them gone. Originally, this was going to be Inara's dream of never leaving Sihnon, but there was just too much background to invent, and I had such a clear idea of what Mal's dream would be, so... Mal's dream it was.

Thanks for the reviews, guys! :-)

Sunday, September 3, 2006 3:14 PM


Excellent work here, Arcadia! Definitely enjoyed how you had Inara's absence have quite the impact on how the crew dynamics became drastically different;)



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