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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Post-BDM. Mal/Inara. Inara receives some news and acts on it.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1392 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
A/N: This is a Mal/Inara fic. I have become just a bit obsessed with that relationship as of late. This is a short little, angst-ridden piece, and I hope it does the 'ship and the 'verse justice!
Thanks to Kaynara for taking a look.
Please continue to comment as you always do!
What’s fair – 1/2
“Without treatment?” He waited for her nod and then said, “Six months tops. Possibly less.”
Swallowing thickly, the young woman’s brown-eyed gaze studied her hands resting lightly in her lap. She was much too young to be suffering such a diagnosis, but diseases were not discriminating. They made no accommodation for fairness.
The doctor watched his patient in silence for another moment. He could see her struggling and it pained him. He’d done a lot of good in the twenty plus years he’d practiced medicine, but he’d also been responsible for delivering news like this that had often destroyed the recipient’s life.
Setting her chart aside, Doctor Elias moved to the seat beside her and sat down. As she lifted her eyes to him, giving him a wan smile, he returned the look and said, “I think we should discuss your treatment options.”
Shaking her head, she told him firmly, “No. I won’t go through that. Not when the chances of survival are so low.”
“Miss,” he objected, his tone growing a bit forceful. “Treating this disease can increase your chance of recovery by almost fifteen percent. Don’t you think that’s worth it?”
Shaking her head again, those brown eyes were back on his face, a familiar glint of steel shining in them. “No, not when the treatments will render me basically comatose for months at a time. I will not spend the last six months of my life confined to a bed.”
“There are new treatments we could try as well. Gene therapy has been successful in other cases such as yours.”
“Doctor,” Inara intoned, her voice holding just a bit of a warning.
Raising a hand in surrender, Elias caved. “All right. If that’s what you want. No one can force you to have chemotherapy.”
Swallowing once more, she rose slowly, the heavy silk brocade of her skirt falling about her feet, skimming the ground as she headed for the door. “I appreciate your time, doctor.”
He smiled to her as she left, telling her, “When you know where you’ll be settling, wave the office and we’ll transmit your files to your doctor.” She nodded, her hand reaching for the doorknob, the doctor’s voice again stopping her. “Ms. Serra, good luck.”
Forcing a small smile to her face, Inara told him, “I really don’t think luck has anything to do with it.” And then, throwing her shoulders back and holding her head high, Inara Serra, retired Companion, survivor of a Reaver battle, dying of cancer left the Spartan office and headed back to Serenity.
And a long, painful goodbye.
Inara had already finished packing one trunk and was just starting on a second when she heard Kaylee’s lilting hum drawing near. Stilling in her work, she wiped quickly at her tear-stained cheeks, steeling herself for the coming conversation. Of all the goodbyes she would have to give, the one between herself and the effervescent mechanic she dreaded most – almost as much as the one between herself and Serenity’s egotistical captain, whom she’d come to love as soundly as his boat.
Taking a deep breath, she turned to face the door as Kaylee waltzed in, a bright shining smile on her face, no doubt the result of either a wonderful evening with Simon or the promise of one to come; those two young people were most assuredly in love.
“Hey ‘Nara. Did ya have a good visit?” Kaylee’s face fell immediately as she took in the sight of the open trunks and half-completed packing. Moving towards her friend hurriedly, she asked, “What’s goin’ on? You takin’ a trip?”
Smiling sadly to her, Inara had to swallow several times before the lump in her throat had dissipated enough to allow her to speak. “Yes, mei mei, I’m taking a trip.”
“Why are you doing this?”
The pained expression on Mal’s face was enough to rend her heart. With practiced aplomb, Inara quelled her rising sadness and kept her features emotionless. Studying his agitated form as he paced in front of her, she waited for him to continue, knowing he had so much more to say.
“’Nara, this don’t make any sense.” Pausing, he moved to kneel before her, hands on her knees. Staring up into her face, his blue eyes pierced her deeply, forcing her to bite her lip to keep her shocked gasp from escaping. “I thought we was doin’ better, ai ren.”
Forcing a smile to her lips, she covered his hands with her own and assured, “We are, Mal. This won’t be permanent.” She was lying, just as she had lied to Kaylee earlier in the day. Her departure this time would be more lasting than the one previous, but she could not tell them that. Mal and Kaylee, none of them, would understand. “The training house is desperate for instructors. Sheydra called me personally and asked that I come back for a few months.”
Mal’s eyes still searched her face relentlessly. He was scared, more so than he’d rightly ever admit, but it was fear welling in his gut all the same. Leaning forward he kissed her tenderly and Inara relished the contact. His kisses could render her completely speechless on a good day. On this incredibly awful day, his gentle touch and soft lips were causing her heart to shrink and shrivel, her mind and body trying to protect themselves from the inevitable pain that their parting would cause.
Pulling away, Mal rested his forehead against hers, running his hands through her dark and thick curls as they fell loosely about her shoulders. “Tell me you ain’t runnin’,” he whispered softly, his breath tickling against her cheek.
Shaking her head, she told him, “No, Mal, I’m not running from you. I just feel that after all that happened, I owe them something.” She blinked back a tear as she said, “I love you. My absence won’t change that.”
With a sigh, Mal pulled her into a tight embrace, his strong arms wrapping around her back and holding her close. He held her so firmly he couldn’t feel her body trembling with fear as she realized she had maybe one or two more nights of lying in his arms. And then she would once again have to learn how to be alone.
“I love you too, ‘Nara,” he whispered, pressing a kiss to her temple. It had taken him quite a while to admit that to her, but in the scheme of their relationship, things had progressed pretty quickly after Miranda. Now, just six months from that horrifying Reaver battle and the broadwave, they were together, neither of them certain how they could have been so amazingly stubborn to keep the other away. “I’m gonna miss you.”
Smiling slightly, she leaned away from him, cupping his cheeks in her hands and searching his eyes intently with her own. She had been trained from a very young age how to read people, their body language, expressions, even their eyes, and what she read from Mal now was staggering in its depth. There was more there than lust and desire, there was care and concern, love and compassion, want and need. All emotions that should have loosed her tongue and forced her to admit the real reason for her departure, but it was because of these emotions that she kept her peace; Mal would do better to remember her as she was, not suffer at her side as she wasted away. He had already witnessed far too much pain and loss, she would not add another tick mark to that tally.
“I will miss you too,” she finally murmured, tracing the outline of his lips with her delicate fingers. “Every day, ai ren.”
There was no more talking after that, only passion, their longing and desire explored in the physicality of their lovemaking and the emotional release of their feelings for one another. Inara’s head was pounding by the time she lay in a boneless heap of limbs atop Mal’s sweaty chest. She had suspected it might hurt, but she’d be damned if she spend her last few nights of freedom not lying with the man she loved.
Pressing a kiss to her forehead, Mal rolled over and onto his side, facing Inara in the dim light of the shuttle. Their naked bodies were tangled around each other, a thin, silk sheet all that covered them. Gazing deeply into her dilated eyes, Mal caught sight of something and edged closer. Running a finger down her cheek, he asked quietly, “You feelin’ all right, ‘Nara?”
Nodding once, she pressed a kiss to his mouth and murmured, “Just fine.” But the assurance was wasted as he tasted blood against his mouth, the tangy, metallic taste unmistakable to a man like Malcolm Reynolds. Pulling back from her abruptly, he noted the thin trail of blood that ran from her nose, his eyes widening in shock at its sudden appearance.
“Ai ya, ‘Nara, you’re bleedin’,” he exclaimed, jumping from the bed and grabbing a cloth. Bringing it back to her, she smiled weakly as he pressed it to her nose, instructing her to lie back and tilt her head up.
She did as he said, silently cursing her weak body. Stroking his hand through her hair, Mal kissed her cheek and asked softly, “You sure you’re okay? I ain’t never seen you get a nosebleed ‘fore.”
Smiling weakly, although he could not see the expression, she mumbled, “I’m fine, Mal. I guess having sex with you can cause quite a reaction.”
His smile was faint with manly pride. He was not at all convinced this was some random result of their night together. They’d had sex plenty of times without Inara’s nose bleeding. “Maybe I should get the doc,” he murmured, turning away to reach for his discarded clothes.
But her firm hand around his wrist stilled his movement. Pulling the blood-stained kerchief away, she turned to him with a wide smile and said, “There’s no need to wake Simon. I’m fine.”
To prove her point, she leaned forward and kissed him soundly, her tongue easily entering his mouth and battling with his own. Mal gave into the kiss, cupping the back of her head in his hand and pulling their bodies flush. But as they parted for air, he did not further the kiss, only nestled her more firmly against his side, determined to keep her safe and whole in his embrace.
Inara sighed, reveling in the feel of his warm body and snuggled in close. She wanted to make love to him again, but she knew he’d never agree to it now, not after the blood. Of course, it had nothing to do with their copulation, but she was convinced that impressing that upon him now would take an act of God who he no longer believed in. So, she would content herself with lying next to him, listening to his heart beat and burning every second into her memory.
“I still don’t get why she had to go,” Kaylee pouted, sitting in the infirmary and watching Simon as he catalogued some recently acquired supplies. It had been a week since Inara had left Serenity and Kaylee had yet to fully understand what had made her friend leave so suddenly.
“Didn’t she say that Sheydra asked for her help?” Simon was distracted, his mind racing with plans for his and Kaylee’s seven month anniversary in a couple of days. Of course, whenever Kaylee was close Simon found himself distracted. He could no more avoid thinking about her or their endless nights together than he could stop being a doctor or fretting after River. Turning to regard, Kaylee’s dejected expression, he smiled warmly and said, “You know that Inara would never deny a friend.”
With a sigh, Kaylee hopped off the exam table and moved towards him. Kissing him lightly, she said, “I guess.” Glancing at the countertop strewn with all manner of medicines and supplies, she asked, “You gonna be long?”
Nodding once, Simon put down his stylus and wrapped his arms around her waist. “Probably a bit longer.” Kissing her until they had to part for air, he murmured, “See you at dinner?”
Smiling again, Kaylee nodded and told him, “Okay,” before backing out of the infirmary. Simon watched her go, releasing a contented sigh before turning back to his work. His mind again split between rationing his credits for his anniversary gift and ordering the vials of medicine before him, he barely heard the first two calls on the ship’s comm.
“Simon? You in there?”
Starting slightly at the sound of the captain’s annoyed tone, he moved swiftly towards the comm, hitting it on. “Yes, Captain, I am. What’s going on?”
“Gotta wave comin’ in, for ‘Nara’s doctor. I reckon that’s you.”
Frowning, Simon could hear the suspicion in Mal’s voice, tainted with a lover’s concern. It was highly unusual for someone to call a transport looking for a physician, especially on a ship such as Serenity. But, for all intents and purposes, Simon was her doctor. “Of course, can you send it down here?”
“On its way,” Mal answered. Simon could swear he heard some sort of grumble before the screen across the way blinked to life. Hitting the comm off and shutting the hatch, Simon turned to the screen and greeted the older gentleman there.
“Hello, I’m Doctor Tam. And you are?”
“Doctor Elias,” he introduced, nodding respectively towards Simon. Returning the gesture, he waited as the older man said, “I was hoping to speak with Miss Serra’s doctor.”
Simon had just finished talking with Doctor Elias and he was already back on the Cortex. Greeted with the young, beautiful face of a Companion, he asked, “Is Inara Serra available? I need to speak with her.”
“And who may I say is calling?” The young girl’s voice was soothing to the ears, her features placid.
“You may tell her it’s her doctor,” Simon instructed and then waited impatiently for Inara’s face to appear. Once it had, Simon felt a stab of guilt for pulling her away from her students under semi-false pretenses.
Inhaling sharply as she saw Simon’s face on the screen, she asked, “Simon? What’s going on? Is everyone all right? Is Kaylee-“
Holding up a hand to stop her tirade, he assured, “Yes, Inara, everyone is fine.” Pausing he held her gaze, watching as the tension in her shoulders eased a bit, before adding, “Everyone except you, that is.”
Fear flashed in her eyes before she could hide it again. In an even tone she told him, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Frowning, Simon said, “Yes, you do. And I’m guessing it’s the reason you left so abruptly.” As she tried to form another rebuttal, Simon added softly, “Inara, I’ve seen your file.”
“How?” she breathed, not at all interested in feigning ignorance now. If Simon had indeed seen her test results, the jig was up anyway.
“Your doctor, Doctor Elias, waved. He was hoping we might send your files along to your current doctor. The one in charge of your treatment.” Simon was fishing, looking for confirmation that Inara really was forgoing any kind of preventive measures.
“There is no doctor, Simon,” she admitted softly, dropping her gaze from the screen. “There is no treatment.”
Taking a deep breath, he tried to remain impartial, trying to forget for a moment that he was talking to his girlfriend’s best friend and the love of his captain’s life. “Inara,” he intoned, the hint of a scolding evident and one she would not tolerate.
“It’s my choice, Simon,” she reminded him firmly. “My choice, my body, my illness. I don’t want to end my days hairless and weak, praying for death because I can no longer move.” Her eyes were back to his face now and there was no mistaking the sheen of tears in them. “I won’t do it.”
“There’s a chance that won’t happen,” Simon tried to reason with her. “I’ve seen cases where patients make a recovery. The cancer goes into remission. You could be one of those patients.”
“And if I’m not?” The question wasn’t intended to sound so malicious, but Inara saw Simon flinch at the asking and she immediately felt shame for taking out her anger on him. “I just can’t live that way, Simon.”
Holding her resolute gaze, Simon knew they’d reached an impasse. Inara was nothing if not stubborn. “Then at least come back to the ship,” he told her, knowing that this request was also useless. “You shouldn’t die alone.”
Her face blanching at his words, her eyes hollowing in seconds, she told him, “Everyone dies alone.” The words hung in the virtual air between them and Simon wished he knew what more to say.
“Don’t call again,” she told him. It wasn’t an order, not really, more of a begged request. He nodded reluctantly and then she said, “And don’t tell anyone. I mean it.”
“I can’t,” he said truthfully. “You’re my patient and I’m your doctor. Things like this are held in the strictest confidence.”
Releasing a small breath as she knew he would keep his word, Inara nodded once and allowed the smallest smile to grace her face. “I do appreciate your concern, Simon. Truly. Take care.”
The screen winked off and Simon slouched heavily against the diagnostic chair, his heart heavy with this newfound knowledge. Glancing again to Inara’s chart, he studied it for another hour, before wearily turning it off and going back to his work, wishing he didn’t have to carry this burden alone.
“Captain, can I have a word?”
Mal turned to regard the doctor’s nervous stance in the doorway to the bridge. Powering down a few systems for the night cycle, he told him, “Only if’n you make it quick. I got a date with my bunk.”
Smiling tightly at the man’s bad humor, Simon stepped into the room and took a seat in the co-pilot’s chair. He was honestly surprised that he was the one broaching this subject with the man. He’d assumed that as soon as Mal had answered that wave today, he’d be all over Simon like a wet rag trying to pry information from him. But so far nothing. And while Simon realized he should be grateful, he was also slightly annoyed that he was going to be breaking his sacred oath of his own free will.
Mal continued to fiddle with switches and dials, noting the younger man’s discomfort from the corner of his eye. It was almost amusing and so the captain had decided to let the younger man sweat it out.
“Listen, Captain,” Simon began slowly, his hand rubbing nervously along the back of his neck. “As a doctor, I know you’re aware that when a member of the crew comes to me, as a patient, there is a certain … well, I have a responsibility to …” Pausing, Simon let out an exasperated breath. He knew that no matter how he phrased it he was breaking the cardinal rule of medicine and it bothered him.
Giving him a long look, Mal allowed a smile to quirk up the corners of his mouth. “All right, doc, take it easy. Don’t have a hernia.”
As Simon turned a quizzical expression to the man, Mal rose, clapping him soundly on the shoulder and said, “We’re gonna be grounded for a couple o’ days.” Simon’s eyes widening, he was about to ask where, when Mal’s face broke into a wide grin and he answered the unspoken question. “On Verbena.”
Leaning towards Simon, Mal confided, “I know you tend to think otherwise, but I ain’t stupid, Simon. Soon as that wave came in today, I knew we’d be headin’ for Inara right quick.” Even as the captain made the joke, his face tightened and Simon could see the concern warring with the older man’s desire to keep not jump to conclusions.
Releasing a huge breath, Simon rose, gratitude plastered all over his face. “I think that’s the right decision, Captain,” he said diplomatically, hastening to leave as he now knew he would be planning a special couple of days for he and Kaylee; once he’d checked on Inara, of course.
Heading out the door, Mal’s soft spoken question called him back. “You’d tell me though, if’n it was bad, right?”
With a small shrug, Simon admitted, “No, Mal, I wouldn’t.”
Nodding, Mal told him, “Well, I ‘spose that’s what makes ya a good doc. Have a nice night.”
Simon hesitated to leave, noting the dejected way Mal had slumped against the console, the soulful look in his eyes. He could only imagine what the captain was envisioning – Inara shriveled up with some disease or hooked up to a variety of machines keeping her alive. As a doctor, Simon knew he had no responsibility to confide in Mal anything about Inara’s condition. But as a man in love with a beautiful and special woman, like Mal, he also knew the uncertainty was devastating.
“Good night,” he murmured softly, and then turned, more than grateful to be heading for Kaylee’s warm embrace.
It was getting cold here again. Inara couldn’t imagine that it was time for fall once more, but then she supposed it had been almost a full half year since she’d last been planet side. The seasons were quick if nothing else.
Wrapping her heavy shawl tighter about her shoulders, she curled up into the comfortable easy chair, her hands cradling a warm mug of tea. Gazing into the fireplace, she was quickly lost in its licking flames as they crackled and popped. It was a lovely evening and if Inara hadn’t been faced with a mind-numbing headache, another nose bleed and some fairly severe nausea, she probably would have enjoyed it immensely.
Sheydra had been more than accommodating. Inara had not told her friend all the details, but she still had not asked any pertinent questions. It was one of the unwritten, unspoken rules of being a companion – sometimes secrets were necessary, even among the Guild. So, without complaint, she had allowed Inara use of one of the private cottages on the training house’s land, a small space to be sure, but all Inara needed. A small kitchen stood in one corner, a dining table and a few chairs next to it, while a large sofa and easy chair framed the fireplace. Her sleeping area was closed off from the living room by a heavy drape which also hid the bathroom.
It was a beautifully appointed place as well and in the few scant weeks she’d been there, she’d accepted that this place, with these paintings and colors, would be where she died.
Trembling involuntarily at the thought, Inara took another sip of her tea, when she heard a soft rap on her door. Puzzled as to who could possibly be calling so late in the evening, she stood, gaining her balance before greeting her guest. Faced with one of the house’s pages on the other side, she took the offered scroll from the young boy, smiling graciously to him before he scampered away in the dark.
Unfurling the paper, Inara cuddled herself back by the fire and read the words numerous times having a hard time digesting them. Her heart racing and her head again pounding, Inara sank into the warmth of her blanket and murmured, “Oh go se.”
Thursday, December 14, 2006 4:52 PM
Thursday, December 14, 2006 4:56 PM
Thursday, December 14, 2006 5:24 PM
Thursday, December 14, 2006 6:04 PM
Thursday, December 14, 2006 6:11 PM
Thursday, December 14, 2006 6:26 PM
Thursday, December 14, 2006 7:05 PM
Thursday, December 14, 2006 7:57 PM
Friday, December 15, 2006 1:26 AM
Friday, December 15, 2006 10:45 AM
Monday, December 18, 2006 8:56 AM
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