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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
What secret has Inara not shared with the crew of Serenity? I'm still not totally happy with this story, but if you keep leaving feedback/ratings, I'll keep writing it.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1730 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“Inara, why aren’t you at your study?”
She looked up guiltily from the book she was reading. “I’m ... I'm sorry,” she stammered. “I didn’t realise the time.”
Medori Donato smiled down at her. “And you couldn’t pull yourself away from that?” She pointed at the book.
“No, I …”
“Let me see it.”
Inara handed it over unwillingly. “It’s just something I found.”
“Hmmn.” Medori studied the lurid cover showing two people locked in each other’s arms, kissing passionately as they lay, rather improbably, in a hammock strung between two palm trees. “High literature.”
Inara blushed, something the rest of her teachers at the Training House had been trying unsuccessfully to stop. “I wanted to read something romantic,” she explained, dropping her head. “One of the maids got it for me.”
“You know you could be disciplined for this?” Medori sat down next to the young girl on the green satin sofa.
“I know.” Inara’s voice was small.
“You know why it isn’t allowed?”
Inara nodded. “It isn’t real.”
“No. It isn’t. There has never been a time when a man would come along on his white horse and sweep you off your feet, carrying you into the sunset.” Medori put her arm around her shoulders. “And if there were, you can be sure there would be horse shit somewhere along the line.”
Inara looked up in surprise, and just a little shock, her lips lifting just a little. No-one said words like that here. “It wasn’t … I didn’t mean …”
Medori sighed. “How old are you, Inara?”
So very young. “And when will you be sixteen?”
“In three months.” Her eyes plunged to her hands again.
“And you’re not looking forward to it?”
“I am!” the girl insisted. “But …”
“It’s passage into something else, isn’t it? No matter how painless or easy we make it, losing your virginity can be traumatic.”
“Was it for you?” Inara asked, the words spilling from her mouth.
Medori laughed. “It was terrible!” She shook her head. “Not just for me, either. The young man didn’t know what to do, and we ended up with me having to tell him where to touch me, even though I’d never been touched like that before.”
“I know how it works, what to do …” Inara paused. “But it all seems so clinical.”
“In a way it is. But that’s why we train you for so long. Just having sex with a man – or woman – for money, is not being a Companion. That is being a whore.” She saw the blush creep back along Inara’s cheeks. “What we do is so much more than that. We counsel, console, teach, elucidate … as well as make sure they leave our bed satisfied.”
“No, Mal,” Simon said. “She’s never given birth, or even been pregnant.” He looked down at the girl on the medbed. “And I'm not surprised. If she is only seventeen or eighteen ...”
“That ain't something you can ever be too sure on out here,” Serenity’s captain said. “Too many young girls got kids around their skirts.”
“Doc, I ain't getting into that argument again with you. She’s agreed to marry you, and that makes it okay.” He grinned. “’Sides, I don’t think Kaylee’s gonna see eighteen again.”
Simon hid the smile on his own lips. “I wouldn’t care to comment.”
“So, when’s this one likely to wake up?”
“I can’t say,” the young doctor admitted. “It could be ten minutes, it could be ten days.”
“Maybe. Although there’s no head trauma, apart from the damage to her face. Her brain seems to be comparatively healthy, given her dehydrated state when we found her.”
“So there’s no reason to expect her to die on us?”
“I wouldn’t say that,” Simon back-pedalled a little. “Injuries like this, there’s no guarantee of anything.”
“Your best guess, doc.”
“Then I’d say she’ll live.” He stretched.
“Why don’t you get some rest?” Freya suggested. “I’ll sit with her a while.”
“I don’t know …”
“Doc, you know when Frey gets an idea in her head, there’s no moving it. You’d best take up her offer.” Mal smiled.
“I could do with putting my head down for half an hour,” Simon admitted. “Just to recharge.”
“Then go,” Freya said, making shooing motions with her hands. “We’ll be fine.”
Simon nodded and walked out.
“And no making noise with Kaylee!” Mal called after him.
If the young doctor heard, he didn’t dignify it with an answer.
River appeared in the doorway. “I think Inara wants to speak to you,” she said, looking at Mal.
“What about, little albatross?”
“She didn’t tell me.” River stepped into the infirmary and stared down at the figure on the bed. “She’s very strong.”
Mal nodded, not surprised. “You picking anything up from her?”
River shook her head. “Just pain.” She wafted out again.
“Not surprising.” Mal glanced at Freya. “You gonna be okay?”
“I’ll be fine.” She drew a stool up and sat down by the girl’s head. “Go see Inara.”
He stroked her shoulder, and left the infirmary, stopping just outside the door to look back. Freya was smoothing the girl’s face, moving her hair away from the bruises. His lips lifted – just like the mother she should have been. He hurried up towards Inara’s shuttle.
“But it is sex for money.” Inara felt emboldened enough to ask the question that had been bothering her for a long time. “When does it become love?”
“It never does.” Medori looked into the young girl’s dark eyes. She was a beauty, there was no doubt of that, and she would turn heads when she was older. But there was still so much of the child about her. So much the romantic. “Inara, we can’t love. We mustn’t. It diverts us from our calling, makes us unable to fulfil our promise to the Guild. But within that promise we can have such diversion, love becomes just an idle dream.”
“I don’t understand.”
“When you have sex for the first time – and it will be sex, not making love – you will take the next step to becoming a Companion, one of the elite. We will teach you how to make love, to create an illusion so powerful that each of your clients believes you care only for them. But you will learn how to hold back a part of yourself, so that you never truly fall.”
“Why not? What if I do fall in love? What do I do?”
Medori sighed again. “If that happens, you have to take stock. Ask yourself if you truly wish to give up the life you will be leading for one person. If that is enough, if the thought doesn’t send you screaming, if you can imagine nothing but being with them for the rest of your life … then renounce being a Companion. We … I know what it means to need so hard that it almost consumes you. It is a curse and a blessing, and choices have to be made.”
“You chose to leave him?”
“I did. I chose the Guild over the man who loved me.”
“Do you regret it?”
Medori stood up, her poise almost sharp in its elegance, her glossy dark hair piled high on her head, jewels in her ears and around her neck. She looked down at the young girl. “Every day, Inara.”
“What?” The Companion looked up, surprised to find herself in the shuttle and not back in the Training House.
Mal stepped inside. “You okay?”
She took a moment to run her hands across her face and neck, smoothing away any sign of the unsettled feeling in the pit of her stomach. “I'm fine.”
“Only you look kinda pale.”
“Perhaps I’m a little tired.”
“Too much talking about us today?” Mal suggested, smiling a little. “You know, while we were gone.”
“Probably.” She stood up. “What did you want to see me about?”
“The other way around, I thought. River said you wanted to talk to me.”
Inara raised her eyebrows. “I didn’t …”
“See, now you’re blushing, and that’s almost as bad as being pale,” Mal said conversationally. “You still ain't got that under control, have you?”
“Believe me, Mal, it is only where you’re concerned.” There was bite in her tone.
“Not sure whether to take that as a compliment or an insult.”
“Whichever you prefer.” She turned away and busied herself with the tea bowl she’d been using earlier. “Did River say why I wanted to speak to you?”
“No,” Mal admitted. “But I figured it was ‘cause you wanted to tell me the truth.”
She turned on him. “So you think I'm lying?”
“I think you know more’n you said.” He held his ground, his arms crossed.
“What makes you think that?”
“How long’ve I known you, ‘Nara?” He glanced around the shuttle. “How many years have you rented this from me? Which, by the way, you’re behind on.”
“My apologies. I’ll pay your bailiffs as soon as they arrive,” she sniped.
“You know I don’t care about that.” He paused. “Well, much. But that ain't the point. You’re not telling me everything, and I'm beginning to wonder why.” He looked down at her, her face blazing. “Do you know who the girl is?”
“Then you at least know who that metal thing belonged to.” He dropped one arm, reaching out with the other to put his hand on her shoulder. “Ain't that right?”
Inara glared at him, but the touch of his hand on her skin broke her. “Yes,” she whispered. “I think I do.”
“So tell me.”
“Mal, you have to understand, this demerit … it is such a dishonour. There is only one other that comes higher.”
“Purposely killing a client.”
“Thought Companions used to do that.”
“That’s ancient history,” she insisted, moving away from him to sit down again. “More than three hundred years ago.”
“Still, murder is murder,” Mal agreed, joining her. “But having a kid?”
“You don’t see.” She looked into his blue eyes. “We don’t have children. It’s Guild law. For a Companion to get pregnant is bad enough, but to choose to continue it, to have the baby …” Her eyes dropped to the hands clenched in her lap.
“No, I don’t see.” He lifted her chin. “You’d better explain it to me.”
“All of our training is designed to make us behave a certain way. To be that perfect woman, to fulfil the client’s ultimate wishes.” Her eyes were shiny with unshed tears. “Medori broke the first rule – she fell in love.”
“My friend. My teacher. And I believe the mother of the girl in the infirmary.”
Inara stood outside the adjudication room, trembling. She wasn't supposed to be here, not now. At this time of the day she was meant to be in her room, reading the many texts provided on love-making skills, before being tested on them tomorrow. But she couldn’t help it. She’d heard the rumours about Medori, about why she had been sequestered in her room for so long. For weeks, now, no-one had seen her, although there were tales of crying heard from her hallway in the middle of the night. And now she had been taken before the Guild Triumvirate.
“You don’t have the right!” Medori said, her clear voice carrying easily through the wicker door.
“We have the right. You signed a contract with the Guild, and it was perfectly clear. You are carrying a child while still a Companion. That is expressly forbidden.”
“And if I am?” Inara could almost see the expression on Medori’s face. “It’s my body.”
“No, it isn’t.” There was a pause. “We gave you a second chance, Medori.” The female voice wasn't unkind, just firm. “When we took you back into the House, you gave your strict assurance that you would never have any further dealings with this man.”
“His name’s Alexander.”
“What he is or is not called is irrelevant,” said a second voice, this one male, and much harder. “What is relevant is that you went back on your word.”
“He found me,” Medori said, almost in despair. “I didn’t look for him.”
“But you took him into your bed.” It was the first woman again. “With no regard for payment. You made him your lover.”
“I love him.” Three words, so simple, said with such profound longing, but that hung in the air like a thundercloud.
“Then you should have thought further.” Another voice, unheard so far. Another woman, sharp. “Your actions were not only against the Guild, but you hid them away. Leaving the House under cover of night to be with him. Behaving like a furtive, stupid child.”
“We have been lenient, Medori.” The first woman. “Gave you options, allowed you to think on your conduct, and you have thrown it back at us. Now we have no alternative.”
“I won’t let you have my child!”
“You will.” The man, his tone brooking no objection. “Under the contract you signed, which is legally binding and recognised by all the elements of the Alliance, any offspring you produce is the property of the Guild.”
“No!” There was the sound of struggling.
“You will be taken back to your room, and you will stay there until you have reached your appointed time. The child will be taken into the care of the Guild, and you will be dismissed.” Something clattered to the floor. “Pick it up. It is the symbol of your dishonour.”
“You can’t do this …” Medori’s voice was cracked, broken.
“A Companion has such liberty,” the first woman said. “The right to choose her own clients, to charge what she perceives is the correct rate. She can travel, see the most beautiful cities in all the galaxy, meet the highest people, be someone who has influence. We ask little in return.”
“Your rules strangle us!”
“Our rules are in place for a reason. To protect you. All of you.” There was a pause. “Take her back to her room.”
Inara ran to the alcove, pressing herself deeply into it, trying to make herself invisible.
The door opened and Medori was escorted out by two of the male house-servants, her head down, her hands clasped protectively in front of the slight mound at her waist.
to be continued
Friday, December 8, 2006 1:48 AM
Friday, December 8, 2006 2:24 AM
Friday, December 8, 2006 5:28 PM
Tuesday, December 12, 2006 7:10 PM
Friday, February 1, 2008 4:24 PM
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