BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE

BIGGRSTAFFBUNCH

Moving in a Non-Linear Fashion (or, Five Conversations Kaylee Frye Never Had About Simon Tam): |Chapter Three- Inara Serra|
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Kaylee's never been one to get complicated 'bout her feelings. Now that she is, though, it sure is a good thing the crew of Serenity is around to help. [post BDM angst/genfic/romance/who knows]


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2156    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

III. Playing For Keeps: Inara Serra

"I never would have thought that Jayne had much of a story to tell. Silly of me, don't you think?"

Kaylee whirls around, spooked. Sure are a lot of people up for it bein' so late at night, she thinks, and ordinarily, she'd have been overjoyed at someone to sit and chat with. Right now, though, Kaylee ain't sure she's fit for human company, her bein' so down in the dumps as she is.

But it's Inara, and Kaylee can't help but always be happy to see her. 'Sides, it looks like she could use a friend. The small smile on Inara's face is gentle and serene, but Kaylee knows better than to think Inara's okay. They all heard the wave that Inara's House Priestess sent not two days ago, tellin' her in no uncertain terms that perhaps freedom out in the black was the best option for her after all.

Especially, the Priestess had added, if falling in with criminals who levelled unjust accusations at the government who sponsers and protects the Guild was Inara's choice of--

Well, Kaylee's not sure how the Preistess's sentence ended. Inara had ended the wave abruptly, and refused to speak a word 'bout it, afterwards. In fact, she's taken to muttering unladylike things under her breath whenever anyone mentions her clients--specifically that there ain't any. 'Nara's shuttle's been empty of late, and Kaylee knows that's a mix of both Inara's own wishes and the Guild stickin' their hooty-tooty noses in Inara's business. Kaylee is impressed with how well Inara's takin' it, on the outside at least. She suspects the few times she's seen Mal talkin' to Inara in real quiet tones and all close-like have somethin' to do with that.

But Kaylee also suspects it'll be a long, long while till Inara knows how to be anything other than a House Madrassa Companion, and she's happy to entertain the older woman any way she can till then, if that's what long walks 'round Serenity in the dead of the night call for.

'Sides, it ain't like Kaylee don't know what it's like to be a fish outta water, searchin' for her place in a 'verse big enough to swallow a person whole, if they ain't watchin', gaurdin' against it.

"Kaylee?" Inara's voice interrupts her musings. "Are you okay, sweetie?"

"Oh!" Kaylee jolts out of her thoughts, her eyes wide. "I was just thinkin'..." she explains. "'Bout all of what it's costin' a person to build somethin' for themselves again, out here in the black." Inara's eyes soften, and it looks like she'll protest, but Kaylee shakes her head. "You ain't silly," Kaylee says. "No, ma'am. When a person's tryin' their best to find their own way, sometimes it's hard to look hard enough at others and see the truth of what they're feelin' too."

Inara shakes her head right back. "Still," she says a little vehemently, her tone almost frustrated, "as a Companion, I should be able to--or I suppose, I should have been able to--read deeper between the lines. I just automatically assumed Jayne was an uneducated brute, and that makes me worse than shallow--it makes me blind."

Kaylee grins. "Well, those lines you didn't read deeper into sure do tend to give us all that same opinion, don't they? Quit bein' so hard on yourself. Companion or not, you can't always read people the way they really are. Ain't no one in the 'verse who knows everything there is to know 'bout another person--" Her smile fades slightly. "--no matter how much they want to," she finishes, her voice soft.

Inara tilts her head, her eyes shrewd. "Are we speaking of someone in particular?" she asks, her voice coaxing. "Perhaps the doctor?"

Kaylee rolls her eyes. "Ain't it always?" she asks dryly. "I don't know what it is about him that spins my head so, Inara. But somethin' does, and I'm so confused about him I feel like an engine without any oil--stutterin' to a stop just when I think I can get runnin' smooth again."

Inara smiles. "Yes, I do believe I know how you feel," she says. "Come on, I'll make you some tea and we can talk in the lounge." She darts her eyes to the infirmary. "Unless...were you mustering up the courage for a little chat of your own?"

Kaylee sighs. "I was musterin'," she confesses. "But it weren't doin' any good. Jayne helped me some, but...I still get so worried." She looks up at Inara, her eyes big. "I ain't never felt like this. This crazy over every little thing. Back in the Reaver-fight, it was just me an' Simon an' the moment. I don't think either of us thought very much that we'd live. And we did, and now we hafta work through what we said an' what it means. I dunno if I know how to do that. Me, who's always wantin' to talk about feelings with him. Isn't that funny?"

Inara shakes her head, giving Kaylee a gentle hug as she leads her towards the direction of the lounge. "No, Kaylee," she says softly. "It's not funny at all."

The tea, when Inara's done making it, is hot and sweet and soothing. It tastes like honeysuckle and sunshine, and Kaylee misses home for a moment so fierce her throat aches with it. All these months on this beautiful boat, she ain't never really stopped to think how things've changed for her. Figured she was still a down-home gal without a care in the world, 'cept for her engines and her ship and her family, both blood and not. But Kaylee can't lay claim to that simpleness no more, not after what she's seen. Not after Jubal Early threatened to do things to her, not since little girls got their brains carved up by the government. Kaylee knows that life ain't always gonna turn up rosy, rainbows and smiles. "Sometimes a thing's broke, it can't be fixed," she'd once said, and boy howdy, is that true. There's still innocence nestled somewheres deep in Kaylee's heart, but for now, it's buried in Reavers and gunshots and the thought of love being too risky to pursue.

Somehow, that last thing hurts the most. More than she thinks she can bear.

"How do you do it, Inara?" she asks, once the tea has been sipped in pleasant, peaceful silence. Inara is beside Kaylee, her lavender and sandlewood scent making Kaylee's eyes heavy. She strokes Kaylee's hair softly and lays her chin on her head.

"How do I do what, mei mei?"

"How d'you go on livin' like your life weren't just swept out from under ya?" Kaylee wraps her arm around Inara's waist and gives in to the urge to hug her surrogate older sister. Inara's arms may be skinny, but they're warm and comforting like Kaylee's favorite blanket. "How do you just wake up every mornin' and not wanna scream for the unfairness of it all?"

Inara laughs, a throaty chuckle. "Who says I don't want to scream, sweetie?" She squeezes Kaylee's shoulder. "I can't say I wholeheartedly agree with the way I've been treated by the Guild, but Kaylee, they're right. Sinhon isn't the place for me anymore, and perhaps...perhaps being a Companion by the Guild's rules isn't either." Kaylee's eyes widen as she straightens, looking at Inara. "You see, sometimes life takes you places you never thought you were meant to be. And you fight it, because you wish to take comfort in all you've known. Change can be difficult, because then you lose the little hard-earned control that you have over your own life."

Kaylee nods. This she knows. Once, Cap'n had ordered Kaylee to use a whole new set of tools in the engine room 'cause the old ones were too expensive. Took Kaylee three weeks to get used to the new ones, and she still feels a pang for the old ones.

"But you learn how to take the path the Universe has charted for you, mei mei. You learn because there's little else you can do but adapt, and change right along with the Universe." Inara touches Kaylee's chin. "And sometimes, Kaylee, you learn that what you always were was just waiting to become what you are."

Kaylee smiles. Inara talks in her riddles sometimes, but she means well, and her advice is sound. Kaylee gets that. But she still has questions.

"Is it worth it?" she asks quietly. "The acceptin' and the adaptin'?" Her hands fumble. "I think I've fallen in love with Simon, Inara. All these months on this boat with him, wantin' him so bad--I thought it was just an itch and he was someone real nice to scratch it for me. I mean, I liked him well-enough, real friendly-like. And I was sure attracted to him...who wouldn't be?" She shakes her head. "But now--after that moment when we was fightin'--the thought...the thought of him an' me sexin' and him not bein' with me afterwards in any other type of way...it hurts real bad. Hurts in a way I ain't never felt before. I want him for keeps, Inara, and I ain't never played for keeps before."

Inara gapes at Kaylee for a second, her mouth open in a decidedly unladylike way. "Kaylee," she begins, then shuts her mouth. "Well, I--" and then she shuts her mouth again. "I might not be the best person to tell this to," she finally says helplessly.

Kaylee furrows her brow. "Well, whyever not?" she asks indignantly. Inara's plenty smart, and she knows the ways of intimacy better than anyone.

Inara gives a wistful smile. "You see, I've never played for keeps before, either." She looks down. "We're taught in Companion training to never fall in love. There are...very specific guidelines. Ways to cut yourself off. I had those guidleines as well as my own ambition to stop me from giving my heart to someone. I've never...never wanted to get tied down in one place, because I feared losing the strength to ever leave it if I did. That's why I left Serenity, mei mei. Not because I didn't love it, love you all. Because I did. Too much. I was putting down an anchor and claiming that shuttle as my home. And Companions don't have homes."

Kaylee touches Inara's arm. "No," she says compassionately, "Companions might not have homes, 'Nara, but you sure as ruttin' hell do."

Inara smiles. "I'm getting that now. I'm realizing the sort of strength it takes to stay somewhere, as opposed to leaving. And I'm ready to work at something new, something good. Here. On Serenity. With you all, my family."

"And Captain Mal?" Kaylee asks coyly. Inara blushes. Actually blushes.

"Yes," she says honestly. "Maybe. Possibly." She backpedals, looking around the room. "We'll see. He's a very difficult man."

There is a moment of silence, and then utter glee as they collapse into girlish giggles. Kaylee feels a sense of warm, utter rightness envelope her. The problem isn't solved, not by a long shot, but at least she's not alone, lost here in the dark.

And somehow, Kaylee feels like playing for keeps can't be so hard. Not if there's the proper motivation for it. Thinking of Simon's bright blue eyes and that smile she loves, she feels a little heartened. She's still on the edge of a frightenin' cliff, staring out into the unknown. But she's always been very competitive, and she ain't keen on acceptin' defeat. No, playing for keeps can't be so hard.

She won't let it be.

- - -

COMMENTS

Thursday, March 15, 2007 1:17 AM

CHAZZER


I LOVE this.

Really good insight into Inara, and Kaylee's musings near the begining were wonderful too.

I personally think Inara should lock her and Simon in the infirmary and refuse to let them out until they're snogging.

But that's just me ;)

Thursday, March 15, 2007 5:03 AM

LEIASKY


Hmm, I'm a bit confused. Wasn't Kaylee right at the infirmary door after her conversation with Jayne? She and Inara didn't move right away. If Simon is in there, did he not hear anything?

Her conversation with Inara was ok. A little character building. The end, since this is about Kaylee in the first place, and how she's going to deal with these new feelings, was the best part. That she came to that end revelation by talking to Inara was, I assume, the point?

Thursday, March 15, 2007 6:51 AM

TINADOLL


Really good fic series. Keep going!

Thursday, March 15, 2007 6:52 AM

BIGGRSTAFFBUNCH


Hehe...I know this is where people start to get antsy. Just for y'all's info...this fic is mainly a character-study...so each chapter is Kaylee with another member of the crew. Simon is last...so while he and she are MENTIONED in each chapter, he doesn't show up till the end. But it'll be a really, really good payoff. :)

Also, Leiasky, the whole infirmary thing will be explained. I can tell you're getting impatient ;) so I'm working on a S/K one-shot just for you...no lie. Just you wait!

Thursday, March 15, 2007 8:03 AM

LEIASKY


Awww, a nice S/K one shot just for me? I'm sure there will be a lot of people very happy to hear that, me included!

Good to know the infirmaty thing will be explained because I'm all manner of confused about it:)

Thursday, March 15, 2007 2:11 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


And another brilliantly written bit of character exposition has arrived care of biggrstaffbunch! Excellent!

;D

Definitely loved how this chapter was structured and handled, BSB! Since Inara and Kaylee are so close to one another, the shorter length fits better since they can get down to their deeper feelings easier with one another. That and I like how you've given Inara just the right amount of aimlessness and confusion about the Guild basically chucking her aside with her usual tenacity and drive when it comes to dealing with her post-BDM life;D

BEB

Thursday, March 15, 2007 3:55 PM

PLATONIST


You have such a realistic portrayal of the crew post Miranda, biggrstaffbunch.

Sad for Inara...but I can't imagine a brighter outlook for her and the Guild.
Their going to want her back only on their terms to make an example of her to her students of what happens to wayward little Companions. You've conveyed that well here.

Like what you're doing with K/S and how determined Kaylee is.

Looking forward to where this goes.

Thursday, March 15, 2007 5:28 PM

TAMSIBLING


I really liked this convo as well. I think it makes sense that Kaylee would look to Inara for help, but it makes even more sense that Inara would have to admit she's not sure she's the best person to offer council. Which is great!

I am eagerly anticipating the S/K payoff and the one-shot! So glad to hear those are coming ... but I also can't wait to see who gives Kaylee the final push to go talk to Simon ... My money's on Zoe!

Thursday, March 15, 2007 6:41 PM

YINYANG


Of the ones I've read so far, this one feels the most natural, the most in-character. I would trust you to write for Inara if there was ever the opportunity for you to work with a sequel or something like it. Hope that made sense. :)


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