BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE

BIGGRSTAFFBUNCH

Meditative
Sunday, March 11, 2007

Inara reflects on all the ways she isn't the girl she thought she would be once. And she and Mal are more similar than people would think. [post-BDM, angst]


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2198    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

A/N: Warning...this is MY interpretation of Inara, and I know there are alot floating around. So if you don't agree, duly noted. I still find little nuances in each episode and the movie that prove parts of the fic untrue..so I understand if there are those who don't agree.

- - -

Inara hasn't always been the woman she is today. Once upon a time, she was a little girl with hopes and dreams and hair that didn't curl quite so perfectly. Once upon a time, someone had to teach her how to paint her lashes and lips, had to show her how reds and yellows reflected off the light to make her brown eyes glow most becomingly. Once upon a time she thought that she would be precious and new to whomever she decided to give herself to, gleaming skin and tight breach and frothy halo of a pure-white veil following in her wake.

Once upon a time, she was innocent.

She knows better now, a lifetime spent at the Training House on Sihnon, a lifetime spent being graceful and sublime. There is beauty to her, but there is no innocence. No room for innocence in her line of work. Only the sense of duty, a cross that she carries with her arms spread wide and her back upright, greeting each new day and client with open, professional arms.

She's nothing if not a professional.

And she hasn't worn white for a very long time.

- - -

Manufactured. Mal had called her that once. One day when he'd been spoiling for a fight, because what else is a Companion for, if not to cater to the needs of those around her? He may not be her client, will never be her client, but she'll do what she can for the captain who's still waging a million phantom wars behind his bitter eyes. If only because she can give this bit of her, at least. She cannot give her body, but her mind--Inara is willing to share that.

Out here in the black, there's not much use for intimate knowledge of carnal desires, anyway. Better she be useful this way.

He'd leaned against the doorframe to her shuttle, broad shoulders blocking her way out, smirk firmly in place on that infernally handsome face. "Well, don't you look all nice?" he'd sneered, looking at her new dress and cloak. "Manufactured. Like a little whorehouse doll," he'd said. "Does the Guild need Alliance approval 'fore they ship you girls out, or do they send you out all on your lonesome?"

He'd waited, cocked his head at Inara's careful indifference, her calculated, measured blankness. Because sometimes fighting back wasn't worth it. Especially when the words being said have an inevitable, irrefutable truth to them. What could she say that will convince him of things even she doesn't quite believe sometimes?

After a moment, he'd huffed. "Guess metal like yours don't just up and fall apart, does it, 'Nara? Must be nice to be made up of that kind of steel." And then he'd given a disgusted, disappointed snort at her lack of fight. Turned and left before she could say what she wanted to.

No, Mal. Steel doesn't fall apart. But humans do.

She's not invincible, and neither is he, and maybe that's why they keep pushing each other. Waiting, just waiting, for the other to break first.

To the victor goes the spoils, but Inara wonders what's even left of either of them to claim anymore.

- - -

"Been in one those moods lately, have you? What's the matter--your usual tension-relievin' ain't cuttin' it for you?"

Inara turns. Her hair is wet from her recent bath, and she twists it into a low braid, her eyes taking in Mal's form from top to bottom. He looks tired, his tall frame bent a little at the shoulders. And the smile playing at the corners of his lips is a little mean, which leads Inara to believe the job went south somehow. So here he is.

And here she is, the personal punching-bag of one Captain Malcolm Reynolds.

She wonders why she lets herself be subjected to this. A true Companion would never, and she's slapped Mal across the face a time or two for giving her just this sort of look. But sometimes, Inara just gets so tired. Of being righteous, of being defensive, of being so damn perfect. Sometimes, she likes pretending that someone doesn't put her on any pedestals, that someone sees through all that the Guild has drilled into her since she was pre-adolescent.

That someone is unafraid of the image she projects, and maybe, just maybe, the next step forward is finding out who she really is underneath all the silk and incense.

"Don't you ever knock?" she asks. "It's customary to do so in polite company, but then, petty crooks don't often lurk in the tiers of high-society, do they?"

Mal's eyes darken. He steps forward, ready to fight. It seems all they do is fight, and maybe it's twisted, certainly it's uncivilized, but Inara really lives for these sorts of moments. When she's not worrying about his feelings, or taking care around him. When she isn't contracted to share her feelings with him, because feelings are not some sort of business deal to Malcolm Reynolds. And compassion, that which she shares with clients, pulled from an infinite reserve? Not in Mal's vocabulary. Mercy, maybe, but Inara will never need mercy.

She's not at his feet at any sort of altar, praying for forgiveness. To Inara, what she does isn't who she is, and just because Mal doesn't approve of it does not mean she will apologize for it. She may tire of the rules, of the burden of duty, of all it entails, but it is still what she does to survive, just like Mal, and she cannot be sorry for the life she's led. Only mourn the life she could have led, if only.

And besides, if the captain doesn't like it, all the better. It grants Inara some reprieve to act with human fallacy for once.

As she steps forward, ready to meet Mal word for vicious word, Inara catches herself wondering: is love, too, one of those human fallacies she's permitted to indulge in occasionally? Or just a distant warning as always--something to trip her up, ruin her plans, shatter her carefully-kept illusions?

The most frightening part is, Inara is sure that it's the latter. And sometimes, she almost doesn't care.

- - -

If she were to be manufactured, it would have to be Serenity's brand stamped across her lower back.

Resting across Inara's skin is a long, thin scar from the first and only time she took the ship for granted. It had taken a sharp turn and she hadn't been careful--she had fallen right onto a sharp edge and sliced a line deep into herself. Ever since then, whenever Serenity flies through particularly rough territory, Inara sits still. She respects the old girl, for the way it keeps flying even when the universe is conspiring to bring it down to earth.

The big, beautiful ship with her hums and whirrs, with its weightlessness through the ether of space. Serenity has taken Inara far enough away from Sihnon for some possibility of breath to move through Inara's lungs, and for that, she is forever grateful. And Serenity...Serenity has given her friends.

Kaylee, who is like the little sister she never had. Uncorrupted by any ills, doe-eyed and awed of Inara in a way that no one has ever been before. And Book, for a short time, the preacher who saw it fit to fly and eat and laugh alongside her, despite their...opposite lines of work. Kind smile and knowing eyes, and now he's buried in the brown earth of Haven. Or Simon and River, who sometimes sit in her shuttle and reminisce about the Core, about hot meals and all the luxuries that none of them seriously want anymore, but pretend to in order to keep from being sucked into a desperate, all-consuming love for this ship, this crew, this life.

And Mal. Mal, who is the most complex man she's ever known, and the most contrary, too. Mal, who makes her smile against her will, who makes her cry heaving sobs for no discernible reason, who almost makes her want a life she's always known wasn't hers to have. Mal, who because of all those reasons, should never be anything to her but the man who leases her a shuttle.

Yes, Serenity has given Inara so much joy, and so much pain. It's only right that she would bear its mark. In another world, perhaps his, Mal's, also--if he'd ever let a whore take his name upon her skin, burned into her heart.

Or if she'd ever let herself.

- - -

Of all people, Mal is the one who should know the best about how things really are, on the inside. He and Inara are so similar, after all, in all the ways that count but that they will never talk about. They share things. A certain kinship, perhaps, from the first nasty words they exchanged and the dust settling around their feet in Serenity's empty shuttle.

A past that hardens Mal's eyes and his heart, that makes him noble and fine and a good man, if a shuttered, broken one. Killing himself bit by bit in honor of all the ghosts he's seen on the battlefield. Trying to find his rightful place, and so afraid to put some faith in anything other than his boat and his crew. So afraid to try really living again, because when you live, you get disappointed. You get hurt because life hurts--one of the universe's eternal truths.

And Inara herself is not as indestructible as Mal thinks. She has her own ghosts, she has her own pain. There's very little that she trusts these days, when all the things she's believed for so long just dissolve in the face of harsh, glaring truths. It's pointless to dream of a better world, because the government that licenses her has killed an entire planet, because the mother and father who birthed her gave her away to that government, because the one man she thinks she could actually be with calls her a whore and means it.

It's pointless to dream of a better world, so Inara just makes do with this one.

Now when she wears her silken fabrics, the luxurious slide against her skin feels patently false. There's nothing but rough and coarse out here in the black, and if she's to shield herself from all that could harm her even further, she has to wrap herself in every pretense of privilege and distance that she can. It's the only way to keep her from wanting to anchor down with this ship, with this crew, to keep her from hearing Mal's ill-timed 'truthsomeness' one day and staying and getting hurt worse than death.

Companions aren't meant for that sort of hurt.

- - -

"You give so much of yourself to others, Inara. You will make a fine Companion."

"Mother, what if--what if I don't want to be a Companion?"

"Nonsense. You are much too beautiful to be anything else, darling, and you must show the universe that smile of yours."

"I don't care about that! I don't want to leave home. I don't want to see the universe."

"Naturally. But you must grow up, dearest. One must have a place to belong, you know, and it isn't here with us anymore. You're leaving now for much bigger and better things."

"Bigger and better? Than home? Than you and Daddy?"

"Yes, of course! Parties and dresses and music and fine food and drink! Not to mention all the people you will meet. It's such a wonderful universe out there, my girl. Your father and I cannot give you what your talents merit. But the Priestess assures us that Companionship can, and so you are going."

"But I don't know how to do anything!"

"And we cannot teach you! But once you enter The Training House, they will teach you all you need to know, and soon, you will be the very best Companion that Madrassa has ever seen."

"Will I...will I belong there at least?"

"There's no other place you could belong, my darling. This is the life you were born for."

- finis -

COMMENTS

Sunday, March 11, 2007 6:10 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Oh...this is all kinds of painfully beautiful, biggrstaffbunch! These thoughts, especially Inara's final "present" thoughts about how she and Mal are too similar to really contemplate and how she has to make her own world because that which she came from is nothing laudable, really tug at the ole heartstrings.

BEB

Sunday, March 11, 2007 6:22 PM

BIGGRSTAFFBUNCH


Thanks, BEB! I'm glad you liked it, and Inara is my favorit angsty female on Firefly...probably b/c its so easy to make up her angst haha.

Sunday, March 11, 2007 6:48 PM

TAMSIBLING


This was beautiful and I think a completely believable explanation of Inara and her back story. While I was hoping that just one of those times the captain came in the shuttle he'd be looking for something other than a fight, it makes perfect sense in the long run - I think they would hem and haw and skirt the real issue between them for quite a while after the BDM.

Thanks so much for sharing!

Sunday, March 11, 2007 8:00 PM

EMPIREX


Beautifully done, I must say. I do love Inara-angst. Looking forward to reading your next fic!

Sunday, March 11, 2007 8:26 PM

BIGGRSTAFFBUNCH


Thank you both for the kind words! I'm still getting used to FFF, so I'm not sure if there's another way to reply..but for now, here it is. :)

Monday, March 12, 2007 12:01 AM

SPACEANJL


Yes.

Monday, March 12, 2007 2:37 AM

TAMMYY2J


this was beautiful

Monday, March 12, 2007 3:35 PM

PLATONIST


So many great lines here, biggrstaffbunch, especially, "It's pointless to dream of a better world, so Inara just makes do with this one."

One gets such a great sense of where her head is at post BDM...shattered and disillusioned. Love how you only have her focus on the negative parts of her relationship with Mal and how she really doesn't have anywhere to run to anymore that would be any better.

And I like how you used the word "manufactored" to describe her.(something I've thought about lately, but I'm a huge fan of Dark Angel) And how much it bothered her that Mal would say that.

I agree, she is such a compelling tragic character. My favorite female one too.

Monday, March 19, 2007 3:57 AM

BROWNCOAT2007


Oh, wow, shiney shiney work here friend, very sad, but also very beautifully written, this reflects the series and the movie so well... I'd LOVE to see a romanc between Mal and Inara, but just based off this and things that I have seen, read, or read to far into I think they will more than likely be stuck in this self destructive downward spiral for life, those poor poor kids =(


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