Conversations III
Thursday, December 21, 2006

Zoe and Inara have a heart-to-heart ... some more fluff before the story gets going again. Please let me know, as ever, what you think!


“Can I come in?”

Inara looked up from where she was writing, covering it over quickly with a clean sheet of paper. “Of course.”

Zoe ducked inside and sat down. “I wondered if I could ask your advice.”

“You?” Inara couldn’t stop the slight cough of laughter. “I thought you never took advice from anyone.”

“I don’t,” Zoe confirmed. “Unless I ask for it.”

“And you’re asking me?”

“It’s about … Hank.”

“Ah.” Inara busied herself for a moment putting her pens away.

“Is that all you’ve got to say?”

“Is there more?”

“Inara …”

The Companion smiled at looked at the other woman. “What do you want to ask about?”

“I’ve … that is I’m …” Zoe stopped.

“This is a first. You lost for words.”

“I'm not lost. In fact, if anything there’s too many.”

“Let me try and help. You’re getting closer to Hank and you want to know if I think it’s a good idea. Right?”

“Sort of.”

“Sort of?”

“Actually I was wondering whether you thought we should have sex.”

“I presume you’re talking about you and Hank.”

“I wasn't meaning me and Jayne.”

“Really? I always thought you’d make such a handsome couple.”

Zoe stood up. “If that’s all the help I’m gonna get –“

Inara took hold of the first mate’s arm and pulled her back down. “I'm sorry. It’s just … you always seemed so sure of yourself.”

“Not this time.”

“What’s changed?”

“I’m … He’s …” She stopped.

“Ah. That much.”

“I just don’t know where I stand with him.”

“He cares about you.”

“And I … he’s okay.” She couldn’t say it, not yet. Not to anyone, not even the phantom of Wash who appeared in her dreams. And he’d been most insistent.

“Just okay?”

“Least I'm not threatening to shoot him anymore.”

“Have you kissed again?”

Zoe glared at her, then her look softened. “River told you.”

“She might have mentioned seeing you two in the galley a few nights ago.”

“So I guess everyone knows?”

“No.” Inara shook her head, smoothing her dress. “She only told me because she said she was going to break in two if she didn’t.”

“It’s only kissing,” Zoe insisted. “We haven’t gone … further.”

“No fondling?”


“Not even a little?”

The first mate’s lips twitched ever so slightly. “Maybe a little.”

“And you’re wondering whether to take it to the next step.”


“Not making love?”

“No.” Zoe’s voice was definite. “Not yet.”

“But the sweaty, grinding, groping part is okay.”

“Inara …” It was unheard of, but this dusky warrior seemed to be squirming with embarrassment.

The Companion took pity on her and attempted to change the subject, asking brightly, “So. What were you thinking of getting him for Christmas? If you haven’t done so already.”

“Well, I was kinda thinking of me naked wearing a big red ribbon lying on his bed,” Zoe said dryly.

“Thank you,” Inara said sincerely. “I now will not be able to get that out of my head for a good week.”

Zoe smiled. “Good. As it happens I have bought him something, but it ain't nothing personal like that. Just a … you know, I don’t think I want to tell you.”

“It’s going to be a surprise?”

“Not that much.”

“Zoe, why are you asking me this? I mean, about you and Hank having sex?”

“I kinda wanted someone else’s opinion. Other than Wash’s.”

“Wash?” Inara stared.

“I've been dreaming about him the past few nights, and on and off for a while since, and every time I ask him the same question.” He’d be sitting there on the end of the bed, looking at her with those sad eyes he made sometimes, calling her lambie-toes or sweet cakes, tickling her feet, then asking her what was wrong.

“Which is?”

“Does he mind about me and Hank.”

“And what’s the answer?”

“I always seem to wake up before he says.” Mostly.

“And how does that make you feel?”

“Frustrated.” Zoe leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. “I don’t know what I'm doing, Inara.” She shook her head, her long curls vibrating in sympathy. “I’ve never been like this before.”

“Not even with Wash?”

“Oh, no, I always knew where I was with him. Even when we were arguing.” And making up afterwards, which was always so much better.

“What about when you first met him?”

“I didn’t like him!” She laughed. “Something else those two have in common. I hated that damn moustache more than you could ever imagine, and the way he looked at me …”


“Like he was sizing me up. I wanted to shoot him there and then.”

“But he got under your skin.”

“Mmn. Like a parasite.”

Inara grinned. “I'm not sure I've ever heard Wash described that way before.”

“Oh, you never heard how we talked about each other to each other. The things we said …” There was sadness in Zoe’s voice as well as joy at remembering the good times. All those good times …

“And Hank?”

“He’s kinda done the same thing. I know Freya’s been telling me to give the man a chance for a long time, but … in spite of that, I think I might just need him.” She closed her mouth tightly, as if the words had escaped before she realised.

“Really?” Inara was surprised.

Zoe looked at her. “You think I’m such a strong bitch that I don’t need anyone?”

“I think you have a centre like marshmallow.”

Zoe stared. “You been talking to Hank?”

“No. Why?”

“Nothing.” She shook herself. “But this isn’t helping.”

“I'm not sure I can.”

“I just feel so … wound up. Like I'm a spring and I’m gonna bust if I don’t do something.” She glanced up. “I even borrowed one of Kaylee’s doohickeys, but it just … it doesn’t hit the spot.”

“Perhaps you’re not using it right.” Zoe just looked at her. “Okay, sorry, that was not the right thing to say. But I'm not sure what is.”

“I just want someone to tell me that it’s okay to sleep with Hank.”

“No, you don’t.” Inara sighed and put her hand on her friend’s thigh. “If you have to ask permission, then it’s not the right time.”

“So when the Captain tells me to dump him somewhere on a dark moon, and I tell him I ain’t going to, that’s the right time?”

Inara smiled. “Zoe, I know you like Hank. A lot. And I also know that it’s probably a lot more than just like. But you’ll know. And when that moment comes along, you and he are going to make such beautiful music together.”

Zoe laughed, not able to stop herself. “Music? Now I imagine that’s the last thing we’ll be doing.”

“Just take it slowly,” Inara advised. “You’ve got all the time in the ‘verse.”

“I used to think that with Wash. Until he died.” The sadness was back.

“He’s not Wash.”

“So he keeps telling me.”

“Are you listening?”

“You know, I think I am.” She smiled and stood up. “Thanks.”

“What for? I don’t think I’ve actually done anything.”

“You’ve put things in perspective.”

Inara raised her eyebrows. “Really?”

“Mmn. If it happens, it happens.”

“And if it doesn’t?”

“Well, I've still got the ribbon.”


Thursday, December 21, 2006 1:38 AM


Really very nice. Not a few of Zoe that we see much of at all.

Thursday, December 21, 2006 1:38 AM


Oh! And you captured Zoe's sense of subtle brand of humour very well.

Thursday, December 21, 2006 4:25 AM


This was a great snippet - I think Zoe's mixture of dry, witty and utterly confused was perfect for her.

And I love that she went to Inara for advice ... although what exactly was Inara writing that she had to cover up, hmm?

Thursday, December 21, 2006 8:49 AM


This was a great insight into Zoe though I expected Inara to handle this more sensitively. I think it is right that Zoe will know when the time is right. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, December 21, 2006 2:56 PM


I honestly think this was the right tack to take with this conversation. Inara's trained to interact and counsel people who are on less-than-stable feet...but Zoe's a new kind of challenge. I honestly think the level of confusion and awkward conversation really hit on how both of these women are realizing that their previous confidence is less than perfect;)

And Zoe borrowed one of Kaylee's "assistants" huh? Well now...that's an image to warp one's mind. But in a good way;)



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Now and Then - a Christmas story
“Then do you have a better suggestion? No, let me rephrase that. Do you have a more sensible suggestion that doesn’t involve us getting lost and freezing to death?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little standalone festive tale that kind of fits into where I am in the Maya timeline, but works outside too. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Epilogue
"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

Monied Individual - Part XX
Mal took a deep breath, allowing it out slowly through his nostrils, and now his next words were the honest truth. “Ain’t surprised. No matter how good you are, and I’m not complaining, I’ve seen enough battle wounds, had to help out at the odd amputation on occasion. And I don’t have to be a doc myself to tell his leg ain’t quite the colour it should be, even taking into account his usual pasty complexion. What you did … didn’t work, did it?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]

Monied Individual - Part XIX
“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

“Yeah, he’s a mystery to all of us,” Mal said. “Even his wife.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part XVIII
Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

Snow at Christmas
She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part XVII
Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XVI
He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee finds the problem with Serenity, and Jayne starts his quest. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XV
“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]