To Love Her
Saturday, March 3, 2007

Mal finally admits that he loves Inara. Set between the series and the movie (don't worry, it ties into the movie nicely).


This is based on the Firefly 'verse created by Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions, and all characters and other things in that 'verse belong to him alone.

Comment, please! I'm a sucker for comments, good or bad, plus this is my first time, so I really wanna know if I did good or not.


She had never been a part of the crew. He hadn't let her. He knew once he did that, he'd lose her. Shipboard relations always caused problems. As long as she was just a passenger, he could handle it, but if he gave in, made her crew... he'd never get to sleep with her. To make love to her.

To love her.

Inara Serra looked up at the man in front of her. The fact that he held a gun didn't seem to frighten her at all. "As I have already made clear, Sir, we had a deal. A business transaction. If you feel it necessary to revisit the terms, but I warn you, a black mark in the Client Registry is not to be taken lightly. If you renege on this deal, no Companion will ever contract with you, ever again."

The bumbling man looked as if he were having a hard time sorting that out. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Normally, his application would have never been considered, but since Mal had been layed up, she'd secretly taken a role in some of the crew's jobs.

Hence the man staring her down with a gun. "You say you'd mark me in your regismastry?" She once again resisted the temptation to show him just how little she thought of him.

"Yes, if you try to break our dea..." She didn't get any further, because that was the moment the man's trigger finger took over his limited brain function.

Even as the bullet ripped through her side and spun her hard to the ground, the man was riddled with holes by Jayne and Zoe, hidden just out of sight. Within moments, she could feel Zoe leaning over her, checking her wounds.

"Tamade hundan, Jayne, get her on the mule, ma shong! We gotta get her to the Doc straight out." Zoe was terse as always, but somehow through the short words, Inara could hear something else: desperation. Was she really hurt that bad? Inara tried to speak and found her mouth dry. She swallowed quickly, and gasped as pain lanced fresh through her side.

Apparently it was worse than she'd thought.


"Wash, get us in the air!" Zoe slammed her hand down on the door controls as she and Jayne carried Inara, unconscious, into the cargo bay where Simon had just entered from the opposite side. His face took on a strange combination of fear, care, and resignation. "Doc, got a patient for you."

Simon's initial fear that they would have to explain to his existing patient that Inara was dead quickly vanished. He moved purposefully to her side, examining the wound quickly. "Get her into the infirmary, I'll have to operate right away."

As they entered, Zoe practically dragged Mal off the table, where he had been sleeping off his latest treatments. The Captain had been poisoned by one of Badger's contacts, and he'd been bed-ridden now for nearly a month, which had not only dragged on all of them, but had been the reason Inara had felt it necessary to help out on the jobs. Of course, he would have never approved, so they had kept it quiet, but considering he always assumed she had a job of her own anytime they were landing on a halfway civilized world, that hadn't been difficult.

Now, of course, it would be all too clear. Zoe lifted him onto the other bed as Inara was placed on the table by Simon and Jayne, and then turned to shoo Jayne out of the room. He was already leaving, though, not interested in being anywhere in sight when they had to tell Mal what happened. Zoe sighed, putting it out of her mind for the moment, and quickly washed her hands, preparing to assist the doctor.

"Zoe, I'll need gauze, the blades, and you might want to get your husband down here once we're out of atmo. He's our only universal donor, and she's lost a lot of blood." Zoe nodded, laying out the tools just as he'd asked, then hit the intercom button and ordered Wash to the infirmary. There was no way she could afford to let this woman die.


Simon collapsed on the couch outside the infirmary, closing his eyes tight for the first time since Inara had been brought back on board. It had been a grueling surgery, as the bullet had lodged very close to one of her lungs, requiring him to work with the most careful precision. Six hours of surgery weighed hard on anyone. In the end, though, the bullet had been removed, and he was quite confident that she would make a full recovery. He was hoping he'd even managed to spare her a scar, knowing how important that would be to her career. Before he'd left, he'd also administered another smoother to Mal, in the hopes that he'd sleep long enough that they could get Inara out of the infirmary, so he wouldn't see her like that. No one was looking forward to explaining this to him.

Zoe sat carefully in the chair next to him. "How is she, doc?" She was quiet, as if she was afraid of the answer.

He glanced at her, taking in the sight. She looked more worried than he'd ever seen her, possibly even more so than when Mal had been poisoned. He didn't know if she was scared for Inara, or scared for Mal, or possibly even scared of Mal, but whatever it was had her terrified. He quickly tried to reassure her. "She'll do fine. Nothing important was damaged, except for her rib. All her internals are fine, and she's completely stable." He didn't add that she'd lost so much blood that he'd had to stop drawing from Wash as soon as she reached acceptable levels to keep the pilot from collapsing. As long as the sutures held, she'd be ok, but if she started bleeding internally again, they would have to find another source for blood transfusion, because he couldn't draw from Wash again for several weeks.

Zoe let out of breath she hadn't known she was holding. Simon was suddenly very relieved he hadn't explained that last part to her. "Good. Now all we have to do is figure out how to tell Mal."

Simon looked at her carefully before speaking. "Zoe, if I may ask. Which part of telling him are you most afraid of? Do you think he'll blame you? Are you just worried that he'll be upset enough that he'll hurt himself in the process?"

"I'm afraid he'll blame himself." Zoe looked back towards the infirmary. "He carries all of the blame from the war, from every job that goes south. He doesn't need any more. I... I'm worried about him." It wasn't the whole truth, but it was as much as she was going to explain to the doctor. He seemed to accept that answer, so she didn't offer any more.

"How soon can we move her out of there?"

Simon thought for a second. "I don't want to move her until those sutures aren't going to tear out, but if we're careful, we could probably get her out of there in a few hours. I don't know if we could carry her up the stairs all the way to her shuttle though. I'd prefer to keep her closer than that."

Zoe nodded. "I'll go make up the spare bed in the passenger dorms. It'll be a lot easier to get her in there, and Mal's not likely to go by there for a while." Of course, Mal wasn't going to be moving anywhere very quickly for a while. The poison had torn at his insides something fierce, and when he was moving around, it was very gingerly and very slowly. Just walking from the infirmary to the dining room was pretty tough for him, and Simon had had to forbid him, over Mal's very loud objections, from trying to get down the ladder into his bunk. He usually ended up sleeping on the couch now, too proud to sleep on the table in the infirmary. The passenger dorm would probably be close enough that he could go visit her once he found out, but he wasn't likely to wander in.

After she made up the bed, Zoe found herself heading up to the bridge to check on Wash. He'd been almost ready to collapse when he left the infirmary, and when she saw he wasn't in his seat, she changed course and dropped down the ladder into their bunk. He was laying on the bed, nearly asleep, but when he saw her come in, he scooted over enough for her to snuggle in beside him. It wasn't long before she forgot all about the Captain and Inara, alone in the infirmary, with only an exhausted Simon to watch over them.

Simon, for his part, had promptly fallen asleep on the couch, where Kaylee had found him, and was busy making sure he wouldn't be disturbed by anyone or anything, which included closing the doors to the infirmary so Mal's snoring wouldn't wake him. Jayne was staying the hell away from the whole area, and River was also sleeping in her room with a smoother, so no one noticed when Inara opened her eyes again.


"Inara?" Mal blinked. He was sure she hadn't gone to bed with him, but he was waking up looking into her eyes somewhere very close to where he was sleeping, and she was lying on something too. He hadn't quite figured out what it was yet, but since they were both lying there, and they both seemed to have just woken up, it took him a moment to figure out that they hadn't, in fact, slept together. "You come in here just to keep me company?"

Inara smiled weakly. "Not exactly, Mal, though the thought had crossed my mind." She lifted the edge of the blanket, showing him the bandage on her side. His face suddenly filled with fear, as he looked quickly back up at her.

"What happened to you? One of your clients get a little rowdy?" She knew instantly that he wasn't insulting her, which would have been her first assumption. His tone was worried, not accusing. He wasn't even joking with her this time.

"No, Mal. One of yours." She watched as his eyes glazed over halfway, then he filled with anger.

"What kind of hundan would shoot a woman, especially one as lovely as yourself, when she wasn't even involved in a deal?" He looked ready to shoot someone himself, although she knew for a fact he wasn't armed. "I swear, if someone didn't shoot the bastard yet, I'll hunt him down and riddle him with holes my own self!"

She smiled tightly, listening as he enumerated the vast tortures he would inflict on the man who dared hurt his bao bei... wait, what? "Mal? Did you just call me your bao bei?"

He just stared back at her, sorting through his babbling sentences. Had he? Well, maybe he kinda had.. oh wait, there it was. Yep, he'd definitely said it. "Uhh, maybe?" He waited for the inevitable explosion, but it never came. Looking into her eyes, he instead saw the last thing he expected to see: pride.

So he did the most courageous and manly thing he could do when a secret love is discovered: he changed the subject.

"You gonna tell me who did this to ya, 'Nara?"

She sighed. "I don't even know his name. It was someone Badger set us for for a drop to. He didn't want to pay us, and I tried to reason with him, but..." She grimaced. "He wasn't much of the reasoning type."

Mal swore. "So no chance of catching up to him later, huh?"

"No need, sir." Zoe stood in the doorway now. "He won't be a problem anymore. Jayne and I took care of him."

Mal glanced at his first mate. "Thanks. Hope you put a couple extra bullets in him for me."

"That I did, sir." Zoe wasn't coming any further into the room, but neither was she leaving again.

"Uh, Zoe? Mind giving us another minute here?" She raised her eyebrow a bit, but turned and closed the door behind her again, relieved he wasn't chewing her out yet.

"'Nara, there a reason you don't mind me calling you bao bei?"

She stared back at him, unsure of her own answer.

"Cause, I mean, if it's all the same to you, I'll be happy to call you that all the time. You'd make a much nicer Mrs. Reynolds than the last one."

She stared back at him some more.

"Malcolm Reynolds, did you just propose to me?" She stared just a little bit longer, just for good measure.

"Wha?" Mal looked shocked, then began to mellow out a bit. "Well, umm, I supposed I did." He looked contrite, but only until his pride caught up to him. "Hey, I ain't that bad! I'd make a great husband! Just don't ask my last wife."

"Shut up, Mal." Despite her injuries, she was somehow up and leaning over him, and before he knew it, she was kissing him deeply, her hands in his hair pulling them together. He reached up and grasped her long brown curls, enjoying the feeling he'd longed to experience ever since she'd come on board.

She'd been right. He wanted her. And now he wanted her all kinds of bad, and now that she was willing to give it to him, here he was, too weak to do anything with her. "Inara, I... I don't want to do this here." She leaned back a bit, looking into his eyes, suddenly afraid of what he might say. He hurried to explain himself. "I mean, the kissin' and all's just fine, but no more. Not until I'm healed up. If'n we're gonna be together, I wanna do it right. Not like this, not if I'd just hafta lay there and let you do this." She smiled knowingly, then cringed as pain lanced through her side again. He saw the look flash across her face; it was a look he knew all too well. "Better lie back down now, anyways."

She nodded and retreated back to the table in the center. Lying down on it carefully, she reached her hand to her lips, touching them as if in shock as Mal hit the com button. "Zoe? Better get back in here, and get the doc to come too." As Zoe rushed back in, Simon close on her heels, Mal nodded towards Inara. "Best get her some more pain medication, I think it's wearing off."

Inara guiltily pulled her hand from her lips before Simon could notice, but nothing escaped Zoe's sharp eyes. She simply raised an eyebrow towards Mal as if to say, 'About time, Sir', and then headed up to the bridge, no doubt to share the good news with her husband. Gorram crew, why couldn't they just leave each other's business alone? Oh well, with River around, it wasn't likely to be a secret for long anyways.

"Hey, Simon? How long till we're back on our feet, anyways?"


It was six weeks before Mal returned to his bunk, and another two after that before he was able to even consider bedding Inara. He waited another two weeks just for good measure, and even forced himself to work out on Jayne's weight bench a little, just to build his endurance. Inara had recovered well from her wound, and while they'd chosen to keep their newfound love for each other secret from the rest of the crew, they were getting quite a few significant glances. Mal was sure there was laughing and jokes at their expense going around as well, but about all he could do was make sure to glare real hard when he walked into the room and everyone was already smiling. It didn't work, but it made him feel better. He had only kissed Inara one more time since that night, and while it had been one of the better kisses he'd ever received, he was also sure it'd been one of the best he'd ever given. He was ready for this night now, so when everyone had gone to bed, he made his usual walkthrough of the ship, but this time it ended at the door to Inara's shuttle instead of the ladder to his bunk. He paused a moment, took a deep breath, and then knocked.

He wasn't sure why he knocked, but the look on Inara's face was worth it. "Mal? Are you alright? You... you actually knocked! Before you came in! Is.." He shushed her with a finger on her lips, and then matched that with kiss that left her breathless. He wrapped his arms around her, and then he was undoing the clasps on her dress. They barely made it to the bed.

They lay intertwined in sweet surrender for so long; for weeks she bedded him every night, not as a client, but as a lover. She confided her every secret to him, told him about the high society that she abhorred but pretended to love, the civilized life that was anything but at times. He told her about his past, the family he never talked about, the planet where he was raised that no one could live on now. They never talked about her continued career, though, or his. He just assumed she'd have to give it up, and she knew he never would. They were perfect together. They would be together forever, he knew it.

Then she'd left.

Didn't even tell him she was leaving, just packed up and left while he was out on a job.

He wanted to wave her; Hurt pride told him he couldn't.

She wanted to wave him; Fear of what she could told her she shouldn't.

Until he came. The dark man came and forced her to call him. She hadn't wanted it to be on these terms, she couldn't lead him into a trap. She couldn't lose him for good. She had to keep him at arms length, keep him from rescuing her. The dark man, this operative might kill her, but at least she wouldn't have to watch him die.

He came anyways. Stupid Mal. Stupid, foolish Mal. Stupid, wonderful, brave Mal. She thought he was going to die, so she'd set her special incense. He'd gotten her out, stupid as it was for him to come.

Then the Reavers came. She thought she was going to die there too. Thought they were all going to die. Once again, he came through. Sure, River had killed the Reavers, saved them, but Mal had gotten the message out, gotten the Alliance off their back. He'd almost died in the process, like the rest of them. After they'd gotten out of the room with the Reavers, he'd collapsed on Serenity's ramp. The Alliance had patched him up, like the ship, like the crew. She'd stayed by his side every moment. He hadn't been awake, but she thought he knew anyways. He looked peaceful while she was there, unafraid of anything life could throw at him next.

They still never discussed what would happen next. She knew he wouldn't assume she'd stay again. He'd been burned once, and Malcolm Reynolds was not a man to be burned twice the same way. Ok, so maybe he was, but not in this. No, he was probably already planning out how he could get her back in the most roundabout way possible.

"Taking her out... should be about a day's ride to get you back to your girls."


"Ready to get off this heap, back to your civilized life?"

"I, uh... I don't know."

Mal smiled. "Good answer."

It was the only answer she had.

It was the only one he needed.


Saturday, March 3, 2007 4:42 PM




Definitely gotta give you props for writing a rather convincing "alternative" take on the time between "Objects in Space" and "Serenity," jondesu! I say "alternative" because the comic series has Inara's departure occurring rather differently. Kinda prefer your idea on how things got to where they were by the time of the BDM, if only from a Mal/Inara shipper's POV;D


Sunday, March 4, 2007 7:21 PM


Yeah, I didn't like the comics very much, so I kinda ignored them. I thought this tied it together quite well, and I've always imagine Inara and Mal getting together, but her just feeling like she couldn't handle it and leaving. Then of course she realizes she can't go on without him in the end, and after the movie (during which she didn't get much of a chance to explain things) they'd be back together for good. I hope this got that across.

Sunday, March 4, 2007 7:44 PM


Nice! ;) I can't wait to read more from you! Huzzah for Mal/Inara goodness!

Monday, March 5, 2007 6:03 AM


i really like this version of Mal and Inara please continue


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To Love Her
Mal finally admits that he loves Inara. Set between the series and the movie (don't worry, it ties into the movie nicely).