BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - HUMOR

KISPEXI2

PAYMENT IN KIND
Wednesday, October 1, 2003

What can Inara offer Mal when she has no money to pay her rent?


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 3435    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Disclaimer: 'Firefly' and these characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and Universal Pictures (may their bank balances increase). I'm just keeping them warm until the Big Damn Movie is released.

PAYMENT IN KIND

“She wou'n't ever agree to it,” Jayne declared, spitting onto the sandy ground by way of emphasis as he and Mal lugged the heavy crates back to Serenity. “No way!”

Mal pursed his lips and nodded confidently. “Oh, but I think she will.”

“Service crew members? You're crazy. Ain't she got some kinda rule against that?”

“Well, yeah. But rules are meant to be broken. I reckon I can get her to reconsider.”

Jayne looked at Mal and weighed up the odds. Man was big and brawny and, without doubt, the top dog on his ship. Had a thing about respect and honour. And wa'n't totally hideous about the face. Women went for that kind of package. If anyone could do it, Mal could.

“No chance!” he decided. “And I'm bettin' a month of laundry duty on it.”

*****************************

“I can't believe you're doing this again. Taking another absurdly long route that prevents me from making appointments with clients. I thought we had an agreement.” Inara was managing to stop her voice from rising angrily, but there was a hard edge to her tone which revealed she was far from happy.

Mal raised his eyebrows and opened his eyes innocently wide, grinning amiably. “If you're trying to suggest I'm interferin' with your whorin'...” He really ought to get himself a new hobby but baiting Inara was such fun.

“Stop it! You may not approve of my profession...” She ignored the Hell-you're-right-there look on his face. “..but you like taking the rent money for my shuttle. What does that make you? Some kind of pimp?”

Oh this was priceless! He knew he'd riled her when she stooped to personal insults. Assuming a fierce expression he snapped “I ain't the one sellin' my body” and turned on his heel to exit the shuttle. “And talking of rent,” he shouted over his shoulder as he left, “Yours falls due in three days.”

Once she was sure he'd gone, Inara allowed herself the relief of hurling a delicate china tea cup at the wall. As it smashed and fell to the floor her frustration subsided a little. She was all too aware that her rent was due. And this time she had nothing to pay with.

******************************

The last job had gone smoothly and the goods for the next one had been safely stowed. They were taking the long route on this one because of the value and dubious legality of their cargo, which meant, for a while at least, the pressure was off and there was time to relax. Book had conjured up another gourmet feast and Kaylee had brought down some of the fruits of her engine still to accompany the meal.

The crew were sitting around the mess table, full of high spirits. Mal was leaning back contentedly in his chair at the head of the table, smiling benignly. Book was encouraging people to take second helpings and pouring out more drinks. Zoe was snuggled up against Wash, who had one arm loosely round her waist. Everyone was listening to Jayne's outlandish tales of life as a mercenary and laughing. Simon was trying to look shocked but couldn't help smiling at the sheer impossibility of some of the stunts Jayne claimed to have pulled and River wore a peaceful expression as she allowed Kaylee to braid her hair.

The only person not enjoying herself was Inara. She pushed her food around her plate distractedly, scarcely raising any of it to her lips. It wasn't long before Kaylee noticed.

“Hey, 'Nara, “she beamed in the Companion's direction. “Want me to do your hair when I've finished River's.”

“Feels good,” River put in. “Kaylee's hands are full of love.”

Inara ignored Jayne's lewd asides to Wash and looked at Kaylee, giving her a practiced smile. “That's kind of you, Kaylee, but I think I'll retire to my shuttle.”

“Oh no! Don't go yet.” Kaylee looked crestfallen. “What's the matter 'Nara? Ain't you havin' fun?”

“I've just got things on my mind... I'm sorry, I didn't mean to spoil the party.”

She got up to leave, but Mal caught her by the wrist. “Here, have another drink and loosen up,” he advised. “Don't go frettin' about the rent. It can wait.”

Inara shook herself free of his grip, anger clouding her beautiful eyes. “How could you?” she demanded. “Shaming me in front of everyone?”

And she was gone, leaving everyone but Mal puzzled and concerned. Because, unlike him, they didn't know Guild Law forbade Companions from falling into debt. A Companion with financial problems might be forced into doing things which could bring the Guild into disrepute. Mal crossed his arms behind his head with a self-satisfied smirk. Oh yes, everything was going to plan...

*******************************

Five days later Inara was fretfully going over her accounts when Mal burst in on her without knocking.

“How many times do I have to remind you not to enter my shuttle without permission?”she complained.

He grinned at her, confident in holding all the cards. “Well, now, it ain't exactly your shuttle at the moment, is it? What with you not having paid your rent an' all.” He sat down on the couch and stretched out, making himself comfortable and Inara decidedly less so.

She knew she was going to have to bite the bullet, but she didn't know how to broach the subject. So instead of making her offer, she began preparing tea for the two of them. The ritual was soothing and afforded her time to compose herself.

She set the cups down on the low lattice-work table, aware that Mal was watching her every move intently.

He picked up one of the cups, took a small sip of the bitter drink and said affably, “I ain't here to pressurize you for the money, Inara. I know you're good for it an' that you'll pay when you can.”

She forced herself to look at him. He responded with one of those warm lop-sided smiles of his that reached up to his dark, blue eyes and never failed to make her heart beat a little faster. “Please, don't get all agitated about it.”

She watched him push his soft hair back from his brow and felt an almost irresistible urge to tangle it round her fingers.

“It's not a question of my getting agitated,” she said, her voice calm and even despite the turmoil of emotions she was feeling. “It's a question of Guild Law. A Companion loses her licence if she doesn't clear her debts.”

Mal shrugged. “Who's gonna tell the Guild? Ain't in my interest to rat you out.”

Inara frowned. The delicacy of her position was making her tetchy. “It's a matter of honour, Mal. Although I wouldn't expect you to understand.” She broke off because he had started scowling and because she knew it wasn't true. Mal was the most honourable man she had ever met. It was one of his most attractive traits.

He stood up angrily. He had been feeling a mite guilty about toying with her like this, but his discomfort was now replaced with offended pride. He stalked over to within inches of where she stood. So close she could smell the sharp scent of his skin and feel the heat coming off of him. “So, how are you plannin' on fixin' your problem?” he asked, glaring down at her.

“I was thinking that just this once I would relax my rule and serv...” there was a tiny catch in her voice “and service y... a crew member.” There. It was out. She'd said it. Relief flooded over her. In some ways, it might be good to get this burning sexual tension between them over with. She had had to suppress her attraction to him because she knew he would never submit to the Guild's demanding and complicated rules on dating. What she was planning now would be strictly business. No demands. No complications. She could give in to her desire for him but remain in control.

She looked up. Mal's face was impassive. He held her gaze for an excruciating length of time without speaking. Finally, he reached out and touched her cheek. “You're a very graceful woman, Inara. And you know there's no need for this...” She hardly dared breathe. “But I don't want you feelin' awkward about not payin' your way.”

His stooped down so that his eyes were level with hers and his face very close. “I just wanna know you're sure about it.”

She nodded silently, closing her eyes and lifting her lips up towards his.

“Good. Jayne get in here now!”

Jayne's bulk appeared in the shuttle doorway. He had a towel over his shoulder and was holding a large plastic bowl. Inara didn't want to imagine what he hoped to do with that. He walked in, grinning sheepishly.

“Wang da ban!” Inara exclaimed. “You want me to service Jayne?! You want me to have sex with Jayne?!”

Mal blinked innocently, feigning shock before chuckling heartily. “What? Whatever made you think that? It's just that Jayne has been stinkin' the place out ever since Greenleaf and you did once tell me that washing feet was your speciality.”

Jayne sat down on the couch self-consciously as Mal said, “Well I expect you'll be wanting some privacy.” He nudged Jayne as he passed. “That's a whole month of laundry you owe me, remember.”

As he left the shuttle he heard Inara hiss, “You bastard”. 'Oh, I'm a bad man, he told himself. I may not be going to Book's special hell, but Inara's certainly gonna put me through hers.'

The thought was oddly cheering.

COMMENTS

Wednesday, October 1, 2003 6:20 AM

AMDOBELL


Loved it but oh my, I would have loved Inara and Mal to get together even more! The fun quotient on this one was wonderful. Many thanks for a nice shiny fic, Ali D :~)
Still laughing her ears off

Saturday, November 26, 2005 6:00 AM

OLDSOUL1987


oh hell i am seething! Bastard! Mal is such a jerk! I am laughing cause i just can't help it but i feel for Inra too. hehe i love mal heheh.... one thng though do you think mal would give up the chance to be with 'nara to get jaynes feet washed? maybe since technicly she would have been serviseing him if they would of had sex then and he probibly would rather it be natural not him forceing inara to sex.

Saturday, August 4, 2007 4:36 PM

PHYRELIGHT


HAHAHAHA!! I can definately see Mal doing something like this to her! Hehe! He IS a bad man!


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