BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Time
Saturday, November 7, 2009

A standalone story, not connected in any way with my Maya fics, no OCs so everyone can read it. And it's for all the Mal/Inara fans out there. It's time to stop the dancing around.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2075    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

Their own worst enemies. That’s what the crew all thought, when they saw the dancing around, the looks, the silences, when the air was filled with the sniping and the anger and the …

“Love,” Jayne said quietly.

“Yeah,” Kaylee agreed, for once her normal sunniness covered in cloud.

If Simon was surprised that Jayne would recognise such a foreign emotion to him, he didn’t show it. “Yes.”

Still, the big man might have been picking up being psychic from River. “And I do know what that is, doc. Love. I love my Ma, my brother … just ‘cause I kill folks for a living don’t mean I ain’t never felt it.”

“I …”

“Don’t,” Kaylee said, getting up to fetch another cup of coffee. “That’s not why we’re here.”

“Then I think you’d better explain.”

There was a huge sigh from the direction of the kitchen area, and Kaylee came back to the table. “We gotta do something.”

“Like what?” Jayne asked.

“Something. Get ‘em together. Make ‘em talk. It’s been near two months since … since …” She still couldn’t say it, say the word ‘Miranda’, let alone ‘since Wash died’. “I know she ain’t gone back to the Training House, but they’re no further along.”

“Have you considered that perhaps they’re not meant to be together?” Simon spoke diffidently, having found that now Kaylee was in his bed she was more prone to tell him exactly what she felt, and occasionally her tongue was sharper than his scalpels.

This time, though, she surprised him. “I thought about it, yeah.” Sliding into the seat next to him, she shook her head. “And maybe they ain’t. But until they get over this hump, they ain’t never gonna find out.” She glanced towards the empty chair, the one nobody sat in, the one that was Wash’s. “They gotta try.”

“You got a plan?” Jayne asked, leaning forwards, his elbows on the table.

“Short of locking ‘em in the shuttle, not much,” Kaylee admitted. “And then I ain’t sure it wouldn’t be just one of ‘em coming out.”

“I don’t think the captain would like that,” Simon said.

“I don’t much care what the captain would like,” she hissed, immediately apologetic as he recoiled slightly. “Sorry, but I don’t. They got to do something – it’s like waiting for the other boot to drop.”

“It’s not our place.”

“Then whose is it?” She turned on him. “’Cause there ain’t nobody else, Simon.”

“They’ll work it out.”

“And when she leaves again. Who’s gonna work it out then?”

“Is she leaving?” Jayne rumbled.

“She ain’t said. But I can’t see her staying if there’s nothing to stay for, can you?”

Simon put his hand on hers, feeling her trembling. “She has us.”

“And she had her students at the Training House, but she left them!”

“That wasn’t her choice.”

“No, maybe not,” Kaylee backpedalled slightly. “But I don’t wanna lose her!”

Outside in the corridor, Mal leaned on the wall, rubbing his hand over his face. No. He didn’t want to lose her either.

“Eavesdropping, sir?” Zoe had come up silently behind him from her stint in the cockpit, insisting on taking her share even though everyone else said she didn’t have to.

He didn’t turn, just closed his eyes. “Sometimes it’s the only way I have of finding out what’s going on,” he admitted. “And sometimes I hear stuff I wish I hadn’t.”

“They’re right, though, you know.” She joined him, her hands in her pockets. “She’ll leave again, and you’ll go back to the way you were.”

This time he looked at her. “Was that so bad?”

“I’ve seen you lots of ways, sir. Hurt and in pain, bitter and defeated after war, but never like that. Not all … empty.” She shook her head. “You have to tell her.”

“I can’t, Zoe,” he whispered. “What if I get her, she’s mine, and then she’s taken away from me?”

A sharp pain stabbed through Zoe’s chest, just like a harpoon. “You mean like Wash.”

His blue eyes flashed to her face. “Zoe …”

“Do you think I wouldn’t have wanted the time we had, if I’d known he was gonna end up … the way he was?” Dead, she thought to herself. Pierced. Impaled. Skewered. The harshest words she could think of, trying to make the agony dull with repetition.

“I didn’t –”

“No, I reckon you didn’t. And Wash wouldn’t have wanted it any different either, except the dying part. What we had was so … real, I still cry for what I’ve lost.”

He knew that, had heard the sounds from her bunk, even though he knew she’d buried her face in his pillow, and his own guilt swelled. “But –”

“But nothing. Can’t go around not taking a chance just because you might end up getting hurt. Life don’t work like that. You did what you thought was right, what we all agreed was right, and had to be done. I wish, right now, that my husband was sitting in that chair, playing with those niou se dinosaurs, but he ain’t. And I'm gonna miss him until I’m cold in my own grave. But I wouldn’t have given up those precious few years just so I didn’t feel the pain I feel today.”

“Zoe …”

“And I can’t bear the idea you’re gonna walk away from something … from someone you care about just because you might get hurt.”

“It was my fault, Zoe.” He said the words that normally only fell into the silence of the long dark night, when he was alone in his bunk.

“Maybe. But if you’re thinking you’re going to make amends by denying yourself something good, then you’re more of a fool than I ever took you to be.”

His lips twitched. “You think I’m a fool?”

“I do.” She stepped back. “Go and prove me wrong.”

---

Another conversation, and as he stood outside the shuttle’s open door, he wondered yet again whether eavesdropping could ever be a good thing.

River and Inara, not arguing, but definitely a hard conversation.

“He loves you.” The girl’s voice was clear, no sign of instability.

“River, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Inara, soothing yet with a hint of fluster.

“I'm psychic. Of course I do.”

“Then you shouldn’t be looking. It’s none of your business.”

“People hurt.”

“What?”

“People are hurting. Kaylee. Simon. Jayne. Wash.”

“Wash?”

“I see him. He hates the way this is, because he thinks his sacrifice was in vain.”

“River, you mustn’t say things like that. And never to Zoe.”

“I wouldn’t – it’s not time yet. But to you I must. Have to make you see. Make you see what I see, what everyone else sees. He’s dying.”

“What? Who?”

“Mal.”

“You mean –” An unaccustomed urgency tinted her tone.

“Inside. Every day, just a little more. Because he doesn’t know if he has you. You can heal him, fill the cracks, make him whole again.”

“It isn’t as easy as that.”

“Of course it is. He came for you. Now you must come for him.”

“River, you don’t understand. There are so many more things going on here, and I can’t just –”

“Have to.” Her voice got closer to the door. “It’s time.” She ran out, swerving around Mal to dance along the catwalk, her hair flying.

“River!” Inara was at the entrance, brought up short at the sight of the captain standing there. “Oh. Mal.”

“Inara.”

“Did you see River?”

“I think she went off to talk to Kaylee.”

“Oh.” She didn’t step back, her physical form barring the doorway. “Did you want something?”

“Not sure.”

“Was it something to do with me?”

“Mmn.”

“Oh. Well, you’d better come in.” She moved into the interior of the shuttle, and he followed her.

Since her return he could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times she’d invited him inside, and he took the opportunity to look around. It seemed sparse, as if she’d only unpacked the minimum of things she needed, as if she was en route somewhere else. Even the bed didn’t look as luxurious as before.

“I …” He cleared his throat, wondering how the frog had managed to get in there. “I just wanted to let you know we’d be dropping by Persephone in a few days. If’n, you know, you wanted to make any appointments.”

“Oh,” She stood on the far side of the small space, her hands clasped in front of her. “Thank you.”

“I can make sure you have some free Cortex time if you’d like.”

“No, that’s …” She’d spoken too quickly. “That’s not necessary.”

Now he was looking, he could see she was only hanging onto her veneer of poise by her fingertips. “’Nara …”

“Was there anything else?”

He felt the wall come down between them again, and the pain of it hurt worse than ever. “No. No, I guess not.” He turned to go, then stopped, Zoe’s words echoing back to him. ‘Can’t go around not taking a chance just because you might end up getting hurt.’ And that’s what he was doing, yet again. He span on his heel. “Have you taken any clients since you came back?”

“What?” She looked shocked.

“Clients. You know.”

“I … what is it to do with you?”

“’Cause I conjure you haven’t. We’ve been places you could have made appointments, but instead you’ve made excuses. Haven’t you?”

“Mal …”

“And I don’t think you did at the Training House, either.”

This time anger flashed across her face. “I don’t see what it has to do with you.”

“Just answer me.”

Her lips tightened. “If it’s any of your business …” She bit the words off. “No. But that’s because it’s a Training House.”

“So it wasn’t for any other reason.”

“An instructor can, of course, take clients if she wishes, but –”

“Ah.”

“Ah … what?”

“Nothing. Just … ah.”

“Mal, this is ridiculous. If you don’t have anything else to say I think you’d better leave.”

“Not yet.”

She crossed her arms. “It’s my shuttle.”

“Technically it’s mine. You rent it. When you pay.”

“Is that it? You’re worried about the rent?” She couldn’t have looked more scandalised.

“Nope. Couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the rent. It’s you I’m more concerned about.”

“Me?”

“And how we feel about each other.”

Her jaw dropped open. “How we … what on earth are you talking about?”

“Would it make it any easier if I paid?”

She didn’t think she could get more astonished by the apparent about-face. “What?”

“If I paid. Became a client.”

She glared at him, then realised he was being honest, not taking a cheap swipe at her. “I … no, that’s not …”

“I don’t think I can raise your normal fee, but if you want I can maybe –”

“Mal, stop.” She took a quick step forward. “You know you don’t want that.”

“No, I don’t,” he admitted, surprising her. “I don’t want a whore. I want a woman. I want you.”

Her heart seemed to miss a beat, and it was only the part of her brain that was on automatic that allowed her to say, “I'm a Companion.”

“Didn’t say you weren’t.”

“But you called me a whore again.”

“Nope. Don’t reckon as I did. I said I didn’t want a whore. I want you. Seems to me that means they ain’t related.”

“You’re nitpicking.”

“Maybehaps. But life’s in the details, ain’t it? And I’m coming around to consider happiness may be too.”

“And would that make you happy? To be one of my clients?” She had to hold onto that, hold onto the only thing that made any sense in this conversation.

“To pay for sex with you? Oh, my body would thank you, but that’s pretty much not what I’m saying.”

“Then what are you saying?”

“In all truthfulness, I’m not overly sure.” He smiled at the confusion on her face. “But I’ve seen death, up close, too many times. Almost entertained it myself on more than one occasion. And I'm figuring it might be a kind of death not to take that chance, to hold onto it with both hands, and say ‘what if’.”

“What if?”

“What if we don’t stand in our way? What if we maybe talk about how we feel? What if we be honest with each other? ‘Cause that’s what we’re not, isn’t it, Inara? Not honest. About how we feel, and about what we’re willing to do to make that feeling last.”

Oh, dear Buddha. He’s really saying it. “What if it doesn’t?” Her voice was becoming choked, and against her will her eyes were filling. “What if we go through all this, and end up with nothing?”

“Inara, a good friend of mine said she’d not have missed being with the man she loved for all the world, not even knowing what was going to happen to him.” He stepped closer, wanting to lift his hand, cup her face. “Day at a time, Inara. A day at a time.”

“And if I want to stay being a Companion?” Her chin lifted in defiance, a reaction he recognised.

“Then …” He pushed down the automatic words that wanted to spill from his lips, saying instead, “I know it’s you, Inara. What defines who you are, at least in your mind. You’re afraid there ain’t nothing left if that goes. You’re wrong. There’s still you, the person I love. And if you want to stay being a Companion, taking other men into your bed, well …” He swallowed. “Then I’d better understand. It’s your job. Just like mine is smuggling and occasionally having to kill people. I don’t have to like what you do, just as you don’t have to like what I do. We just have to accept.”

“But you think it’s whoring.” A tear rolled down the apple of her cheek.

“That’s just a word, Inara.” This time he allowed himself to push it away with the pad of his thumb. “It don’t mean much.”

“And if it comes between us? If you can’t take it any more?”

“Then we talk again. Every day. We talk until we’re blue in the face, and panting for air, until we’re so plumb tuckered out with talking that we fall asleep with arguments still in our mouths. But we talk.”

“Isn’t that what we have been doing?”

“Nope. I figure we’ve been dancing.”

“Dancing.”

“Around each other. Only it ain’t the kind of dancing we did at that shindig, ‘cause there’s no touching, just fighting.”

She gave a short laugh. “I quite like it when we fight.”

“Then we can keep doing that. Hell, I doubt any relationship with you is gonna be all sweetness and light. There’s probably gonna be throwing things, and the rest of the crew will complain about the noise.”

“I expect they will.”

“Just so long as we don’t let this thing between us die.”

The light burst in her chest like a star going nova. “Because you love me.”

“What?”

“You said it. Before. That I'm the person you love.”

He felt a blush run up his chest. “Because you are. I’ve always loved you, I guess. Even from that first moment. But you’ve always been too far above me, outta my reach.”

“No, Mal.”

“Yes. ‘Cept maybe a man’s reach is supposed to exceed his grasp, and maybe I wanna pull us into some place in the middle where we can be, and where you make me better’n I was.”

“Oh, Mal.”

“So … how do you feel about it? Want to try?”

“I …”

“You just say the words, and I’ll go. But don’t play with me. Not now. I couldn’t take it.”

“I’m not playing. You really want us to try.”

“Yeah. More’n life. More’n my freedom.”

“As much as that.”

“More.”

“Okay.”

“What?”

“I said … okay.” Her gaze was steady. “Aren’t you going to kiss me?”

He could feel his heart pounding like he’d run a mile in less than a second, but he restrained himself. “No, reckon not this time. I think we need to take things slow.”

“I thought that’s what we’d been doing.”

“If by slow you mean standing still, then I figure we’ve been going backwards. But I don’t wanna push you.”

“Maybe I want to be pushed.”

“And maybe I wanna throw you down on that bed of yours and ravish you ‘til your yells fill this gorram ship, but I’m not going to.”

“Why not?”

“Because I ain't like that. And neither are you. Not deep down, under all that glitter. Mainly ‘cause this is going to be us, Inara. You and me. The real under the fake.”

“So you’ve been faking it too?” There was a twinkle of amusement.

“Every rutting day.”

“Then I will.” She closed the small distance between them and pressed her lips to his cheek, feeling the warmth from his blush on her face before stepping back, knowing her own skin was just as pink.

“Thank you.”

It seemed an odd thing to say, but so heartfelt the words tugged at her, brought up so many regrets about lost time that she almost spoke them, stopping them only by their tails. They were here, now, and that was the main thing. “Would you like some tea?”

“You trying your wiles on me?” He was trying to lighten the atmosphere, echoing previous conversations.

“It’s just tea.”

“Then … yeah. Tea would be good.”

“Milk? Sugar?”

“You mean you don’t know how I take it?” he teased, then relented. “There’s time to learn, Inara.”

She smiled, the first proper smile since he’d stepped inside the shuttle. “Yes.” She hurried to the kettle, setting it to boil. “Please, sit.”

“Thanks.” He lowered himself to the sofa, taking a look at the few bits of personal items scattered about. “If’n you’d like, we could swing by the Training House, pick up the rest of your stuff.” If you’re staying, he added mentally.

She popped her head around the curtain. “That would be nice. But they’re only things. There’s no rush.”

“When we’re in the vicinity, then.”

“Yes.”

The kettle began to sing, and she moved around the shuttle, collecting the bowls and pot, and he allowed himself to admire her figure, her movements, the long dark curls falling around her shoulders and back.

“Oh, and Mal?”

Her voice broke into his reverie, and he looked up. “Mmn?”

She was standing there, her tray in her hands, looking into his eyes. “I love you too.”

“That’s good.” He smiled.

She laughed and went to make the tea, leaving him feeling warmth filling him, knowing that, if only for this moment in time, he’d come home.


A.N.: I hope you enjoyed this. It was something that rattled around in my brain, and I decided to let it out so you could see what happens when I watch too much Firefly! Jane

COMMENTS

Saturday, November 7, 2009 4:10 AM

ANGELLEMARCS


Perfect!

Saturday, November 7, 2009 4:33 AM

KATESFRIEND


Wonderful. Wish this story could have happened in Serenity 2. But it really could take the whole crew to push them together since the dance was so well learned.

Loved this line especially:“Because I ain't like that. And neither are you. Not deep down, under all that glitter. Mainly ‘cause this is going to be us, Inara. You and me. The real under the fake.”

“So you’ve been faking it too?” There was a twinkle of amusement.

“Every rutting day.”

Love your inspiration when you're watching too much Firefly!



Saturday, November 7, 2009 12:49 PM

NCBROWNCOAT


Maybe now Mal and Inara maybe can dance together.

Saturday, November 7, 2009 2:18 PM

AMDOBELL


I abolutely love how you made this work. It feels so right that Zoe would be the one to get through to Mal and how you handled the dialogue between not only Mal and Inara but the rest of the crew too was poetry. Thanks, this is shiny! Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Saturday, November 7, 2009 10:25 PM

NEWOLDBROWNCOAT


The only tiniest thing I have a quibble about is Mal eavesdropping-- I think he's too impulsive, too direct for that, and maybe not smart enough. Other than that, perfection. At least a 9.95...


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