Sunday, January 30, 2011

Inara's shower is interrupted.


Tentative repost, second attempt.

This one was inspired by the works of Thomas Zhang (Steamed) GillianRose (Coming Clean) Alliase (Steam Clean) and 2x2 (It was a Dark and Steamy Night). Pure Mal Inara snark and fluff, mostly friendship, but with hints of romantic interest. You know, like them when they're not fighting.


The warm droplets hissed against the marble tiles and ankle deep water, raining down from the elegant wooden trellis overhead. The bath salts dissolved in a swirl as she poured them, sprinkled from the ladle set aside on the steps around the pool.

Inara leaned back into the spray and wrapped her arms around herself, tilting her head back to look up, through the atrium at the evening sky. She closed her eyes, dark as the night themselves, and let herself feel it all: the steam, the massage of the water over her body, the jasmine fragrance beginning to fill the air. The sadly sweet music of the érhù piped over the sound system shifted in response to the chemosensors. A contented sigh left her as the tension washed away.

Here, she didn’t have to think of the idiot captain, as she privately called him, sometimes affectionately, and sometimes not so affectionately. About his near heart attack when he found out how much she was paying for their rooms. And the way he kept eyeing the guests, staff, and decorations like they were about to attack him. Or how he fought with the bellboys over their luggage… Her luggage in particular.

A door opened, and closed, and she stopped to listen. “Hello?” No response, but she couldn’t bring herself to care yet. She raised her hands, lifted her drenched black tresses from her neck, a soothing stream running down her shoulders and back.

But slowly, the quiet built into a sense of unease. This was Persephone, and although a nicer part of the world, they weren’t without enemies here. Dripping, she stepped out of the pool, reaching for the robe she’d hung off one of the posts, wrapped it around her. She spun her hair up on top of her head, pinning it into place with a pair of deceptive emeici, and she retrieved the stiletto she’d hidden in the hem of her sleeves. Heart pounding and suitably armed, she slid open the screen to the bedroom. She jumped, gasped, slashed with her dagger the moment she registered someone standing there.

Her intruder caught her wrists, instinctive, unthinking. Then: “Inara?”

Blue, blue eyes, brown hair, and so close. “Mal.” She clenched her own eyes shut, exhaled deeply to expel the adrenaline and anxiety. Annoyance came quickly afterward. “Mal. Rén cí de Fózu, Mal, you scared me.”

He seemed to notice the knife she’d just about driven into his side for the first time. Then his hands, clenched almost too tight, and let go like she’d burned him, hastily reclaiming a safe distance from her. This was possibly a mistake, as now he could see all of her, long bare legs, clinging maroon silk cut off at mid thigh. “You were… showering?” he tried. “I couldn’t even figure how to work ‘em. Simon was a mite more interested in showing Kaylee than explaining to the rest of us.”

If she had to cross her arms, because it was cold now, standing in the night air, away from the warmth of the water and his body, he pretended not to notice. “Of course I was showering. This is a bath house, Mal.” It had been a very good shower, and her irritation increased that much. “Why are you in my room?”

He was hesitating, and she got the sudden mental image of him, listening to the water running, debating with himself whether to disturb her or not. She stared him down, and he bristled. “Hell, I didn’t ask to be here! Qīng fú féi wù, huā chā wǒ de pí gu…”

A flash of hurt, but she quickly pushed it aside. It was his birthday in a few days, she reminded herself; a difficult time for him, since every special occasion seemed to remind him of other times, now long gone. “Better than the stick that’s normally there,” she replied flatly, then her voice gentled. “Everyone needs a vacation sometimes. Wasn’t the last one you had after the security robot heist?” When he was kidnapped and tortured, she didn’t need to add.

Arms crossed, mirroring her, standard stubborn pose. “Matter of fact, I took some time off ‘bout five months back.”

Her brow creased a little as she thought, she couldn’t remember… Then her eyes flew open in dismay, her hand jumping up to stifle her horror. “Mal, that was a medically induced coma. Simon had to remove shrapnel from your kidney.”

“And I got plenty of bed rest!” he argued back hotly.

After a few moments of her disbelieving and worried stare, and him growing a bit awkward under that stare and trying to hide it, she shook her head, suddenly feeling weary. “Why are you in my room?” she repeated tiredly.

His jaw set in a way that told her his real annoyance wasn’t with her, which lightened her spirits. At least her well-intentioned gift wasn’t making him completely miserable, though he was making a good show of it out of sheer pride. “Gorramn mutiny,” he finally answered, grudgingly. “Way I wanted it was Simon an’ River in a room, you an’ Kaylee, me an’ Zoë. Jayne could be on his own.”

She saw it immediately. Kaylee and Simon together, which meant, because of the captain’s sense of propriety, if River wasn’t here, then she was with Zoë. Strange, River normally loved to spend time with her, and she would be more than happy to share her room. A good, sweet girl, like herself at that age, though with obvious differences.

Which meant… He nodded, seeing her understanding. “Thought I’d stop by and explain before I set down in the lobby.”

No, she told herself sternly. He didn’t come by to ask, the thought wouldn’t even have occurred to him. And because nothing had happened between them, any offer she might make to him would only be rejected. Or mocked. Or worse, put him into one of those sad moods, where he insisted he wasn’t fit company for anyone. She had hoped to work on that while they were here, but neither of them were ready right now. Still, the thought of him all alone in the lobby for his birthday... “What about Jayne?”

He blinked. “You suggesting I sleep with Jayne? Because my lunch has some cause for dispute.”

“I didn’t know you were inclined that way, but if it would let me finish…” She pointedly rolled her eyes over her shoulder at the open air bath, then shrugged. “Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad?” she offered, a concession to sympathy.

“Wouldn’t be…” he blustered, “‘Nara, the man’s taken to eatin’ garlic bean dip for the last two weeks.” His voice dropped low, to a tone normally reserved for discussions on Reaver activity. “He has done some manner of unholy to that room already. A legion of Simons couldn’t get the smell out.” Louder. “He snores such I can hear him through two feet of bulkhead. And,” he continued, sounding almost traumatized, “I do NOT want to know what those other sounds from his bunk are.”

She raised an eyebrow at that, unable to resist the teasing grin pulling at her lips. “Well. You see, Mal, most adult men and women have certain urges, which may not always…”

Interrupting, he threw his hands up quickly. “Yep, lobby sounds like a plan about now. Good night.” Then he fled through the fluttering red silks and ornate furniture, marching determinedly through the doorway.

He leaned back through after a second. “Nice robe,” he commented mischievously, before disappearing again.

She sighed to herself when he was gone, amused, and with some hint of regret. After she had turned off the water, still running behind her, she contemplated her room. The bed and the comforter looked soft, she had been looking forward to cocooning herself in them, and was that calligraphy on the wall an authentic Ja Mo? She thought it might just be. There was wine in the little fridge, a good age and a vineyard she liked, well hidden in a real wood cabinet running along the walls, sculpted molding with tasteful gilding rising above them.

She looked, thinking about how much money she had spent for this lovely little room and for some time to relax, then pulled the quilt off the bed and left the luxury behind her to go sleep on the couch next to Mal.


Sunday, January 30, 2011 9:32 AM



The crew stared at the scene before them: Inara, draped over the top of Mal, both of them fast asleep with a quilt over the top of them. Almost as one, they eagerly turned to their resident psychic for her prognosis.

River gave a disappointed and annoyed teenage huff. "Didn't work."

Their faces fell, followed by a series of groans and sighs.

"Why can't they see what's in front of them?" Kaylee whined, her little romantic spirit heartbroken at the resistance of her best friend and her captain to give in.

Zoë shook her head. "They're both too proud," she answered simply. Time was wasting too, but she smiled sadly seeing them. "For now, I think it's enough they aren't fightin'."

Jayne shrugged, already having lost interest. "Hey, can we get s'more dip soon? Kinda grew on me."

Simon's nose wrinkled in disgust. "It certainly did."

Sunday, January 30, 2011 9:33 AM


Side note: nervous...

Sunday, January 30, 2011 10:11 AM


Awesome!!! Loved the whole crew trying to get them together

Sunday, January 30, 2011 10:41 AM


Thanks. :) These are old ones, but I started to feel bad about removing them, because no one I know particularly likes fanfiction dot net, and they all preferred it when they were here.

Monday, January 31, 2011 2:58 AM


Utterly brilliant! You totally captured Inara and Mal to perfection. I so loved this, it is the type of thing Inara would do in an attempt to help and the way Mal complicates things is funny, touching and typical. I can almost hear the haunting sounds of the erhu and smell the fragrant jasmine and I just about melted at Inara decided to grab her quilt to go and join Mal on the couch! Yay, love a happy ending. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011 12:20 PM


Jayne was brilliant, even as a smelly cameo! And really the question has to be, what happens when they wake up? Thanks for reloading this - it's great.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011 1:47 PM


AMDOBELL: There's a bell boy out there now who needs therapy after being the recipient of a Mal death glare.

Jane0904: they put him up to eating the dip, and having to live with it for a few weeks now, I suspect they're seriously beginning to regret it. The next time they go shopping some garlic bean dip will be going out the airlock, and there will be Jayne confusedly looking through the grocery bags in the galley.

Friday, May 6, 2011 6:33 AM


Heheh, that was beautiful. So Mal, I could practically see Inara roll her eyes at him. :D Thank you for sharing!! :D

Monday, October 10, 2011 8:56 AM


Never said how much I like this one. Just re-read it today...made me smile at the images you paint.


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