STOLEN MOMENTS: 10. "Consequences"
Wednesday, April 6, 2005

"With the course set for Levington everyone turns in for some much needed sleep, but locked in vivid dreams the Captain needs help to find rest for his aching heart."



SUMMARY: "With the course set for Levington everyone turns in for some much needed sleep, but locked in vivid dreams the Captain needs help to find rest for his aching heart." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


A "Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Once the shock sank in talk gradually moved away from Inara's painful revelation and on to the job. Inara was relieved. If she heard one more word of pity or compassion she was sure she would scream. The Shepherd gave her an understanding look and turning to Zoe started the ball rolling. The day ended with Wash setting a course by slow burn for Levington and the crew gradually drifting off to their bunks for some much needed sleep. Simon took a moment or two to look in on the Captain before letting Kaylee coax him back to her bunk after checking on his sister. A thankfully quiet River lay curled up in her bed. He kissed her forehead and tucked her in not realising that beneath the covers she was still dressed and that the eyes though closed were not asleep.

In the infirmary Mal was locked in images he could not escape from, sensations and feelings that ran rampant through his body dragging his battered and 'verse weary heart with it. He could feel her lips on his, the desire on her breath made manifest in those oh so talented and dextrous hands. It was difficult to breathe what with her stealing the oxygen from his lungs with every deepening kiss. Reason and common sense tried to rally a counter attack but by the time the notion occurred to him he was already buck naked and with a flip she had him spread out on his back and pinned to the gorram bed beneath her. Not that he was complaining as such. Parts of her body rousing parts of his that hadn't seen action seen Nandi, and then it had been a one time thing. This felt more like forever but even as he tasted her on his lips he felt the ashes of her goodbye solidify in his mouth.

It was so gorram perfect the way they fit together, her hands caressing every part of him with such a knowing touch. Drawing moans from deep inside and turning his body into some kind of pleasure park for her amusement. He didn't mind a good gorram so long as he could play too but right now it was not what was needed. Her lips begged him, wanting and needing him to wipe out memories her body was still paying for. He didn't want to hurt her but she was so adamant and her touch on his skin was lighting him up inside out with a passion that was quickly rising out of control. Only he didn't want that, didn't want to take without giving nor make her feel sorry for the joining when the fire of lust had quenched their appetities. No regrets now. He could take this one time thing if she would give him that. An acknowledgement, if even unspoken, that there had been some pleasure for her in his arms. But Inara never spoke of it and he was too rutting proud to beg.

As she took him higher and higher, became more and more demanding, he opened himself up and let her do with him whatever the *diyu* she wanted. Through the dizzying pain mounting in his side to the giddy feel of her doing things to him of which he had only heretofore dreamt he plied tenderness for her rough strokes, a gentle worship of her hills and valleys for the impatient tug and pull of her hands on him. Oblivious to the fact that she was hurting him yet he would not have confessed as much for all the coin in the 'verse. A small cry stiffled in her kiss, her fingers flexing hard around him and pinching the foreskin in her hurry to ready him for her. Not that he wasn't weeping into her hand but Inara was exact in her demands, knew precisely what she wanted and how to get it. When she finally finished the heady teasing and rammed herself down on top of him he shook to within an inch of his life, body trembling, the black dancing and beckoning behind the flash of lightening at the back of his eyes. Her warm heavy hips rolling and riding him with a fervour he could not match, barely able to hang on and obey the harsh whispered pleas from her questing lips.

The first time was fast and furious. After that she became gentle, the feathered touches bringing him closer to ruin than the almost angry passion that had preceded it. Exhausted he barely reacted to the warm trail of her heated lips kissing, licking and tasting every inch of his sweat soaked body. The trail down his chest, lapping and biting at his nipples, teeth drawn along heated skin to his navel, her hands rubbing, pinching, stroking, teasing. His moans swallowed up in little gasps as she found yet another spot to play with. Her energy seemingly endless. Numb to the soft words flowing from her mouth as she worked to excite him into another orgasm. He was barely aware. Hardly conscious. His last memory was tasting the salt of his tears as she took him back to the precipice of her frantic desire. Convinced as any man living could be that the gorram fall would surely kill him.

* * * * *

She cried into her pillow. The rich trappings of her profession no sop for what she had done. The nightmare cycling over and over in her tired brain. She desperately needed to see Mal, talk to him, but not yet and not now. Let him recover first. Time enough to apologise later. But the shame of it was a bright flame that beckoned hell and damnation. The Shepherd thought her the victim and she was but she had gone on to take another victim in recompense and that had been unforgivable. Mattered not that the Captain had been a willing accomplice to her sin. She knew better, should not have done it, but oh it eased the pain. Took some of the horror from the past that haunted her night and day. For so long she had mastered her violation. Carved a new if less exhalted life for herself here on the fringes of inhabited worlds. The Black as the Captain called it.

Everything had been shiny until her last client. A man recommended from the higher echelons of the interplanatory client list that opened innumerable doors. She had been both flattered and excited, anticipating another step up the rung to the new life she was creating. But he had not been the gentleman she craved, nor the erudite well intentioned client he claimed. By the time she realised the depth of the deception he was clawing at her body while pining her beneath him, fiercely taking what he wanted and not bothering about how much pain or discomfort he caused in doing so. In fact the more pain he inflicted the more excited he became. Her distress only adding to his perverted pleasure. His long nails raked her skin drawing fingers of blood in thin trails down her back and sides, his teeth bit into her thigh so hard the teeth marks made an obscene tattoo turned purple as it bruised her flesh. Everywhere he touched her he marked her. Glorying in the fact that he was so much stronger than she was, aided and abetted by the drug he had slipped into her wine, the numbing agent preventing her from screaming from a mouth that hung slack and open while he plied his grubby acts of desire.

That she had endured it was one thing but it had brought back all the painful memories she had tried so hard to leave behind her. The one act becoming indistinguishable from the other. When morning came she awoke alone, her mind going back to the tangled and bloody sheets at House Madrassa, her body a ruined landscape of sexual violence mapped out on a body trained to give pleasure not pain. She had foolishly expected the Guild to uphold her complaint but the client was high born, monied and powerful in ways that made his excess a mere aberration not a felony. She had listened in sickening and mounting horror as those she had respected made excuses for what had transpired. He had been head of his House. She had lain with seven by then, only five more to go. But Inara could not do it, not simply because she was physically and mentally damaged but because there was now no guarantee that it would not happen again. A Companion had the right to choose her client, not so the House Mistress. For she would be expected to forge new alliances and re-establish the old. Not with the pen and ink of commerce but with the older payment of her body. Her blood the sealing wax that would validate her appointment. Only Inara had seen enough. Knew her only option was to leave, step aside, and forego that most hallowed of posts in favour of a life she could live with.

It was the real reason she had left Sihnon. And because her shame had burned so deep she had chosen the most lowly disreputable ship she could find. Seeking anonymity so that she could hide away and have the luxury of time to heal. Only coming out of her self imposed exile to pick a client or two from her own validated list. Never again would she take a client on anyone else's recommendation. Never again would she be the victim to another man's cruelty. But that happy fallacy had crumbled when her latest client had proven to be the mirror image that cracked her careful facade. Conrad Lessing was rich and powerful, had always treated her with courtesy and favour before but she had never spent the night with him. To her cost she realised how easily the comfort of riches had fashioned a falsehood to hide the ugly excess of the truly vain. The product of the morally bankrupt he believed that he could buy anything and that his courtesy need extend only to the limit of his coin. Once he had paid for her she was his to do with as he pleased, the rude awakening a painful reinactment of that earlier violation.

Yet Inara recognised that she had done to Mal something unforgivable, using him with a disregard that could never be excused. All he had done was try to help and how had she repaid him? By doing to him what had been done to her in a pathetic punitive attempt to snatch back the power that had been taken from her. It mattered not that he had been willing to be so used, he had not deserved it. Unable to stop the tears Inara buried her head in her pillow and cried to the Merciful Buddha for forgiveness. Not knowing how in the nine hells she could ever earn the same from Serenity's injured Captain.

Only one option remained. She must leave. Before the last of her resolve deserted her.

* * * * *

It was dark. The pain a dull aching memory that held his body in thrall. Something light hovered nearby. He did not know how he knew that or why he trusted it but he did. Weariness weighed him down and he could not surface from the black into the harsh reality of waking. He thought he felt a touch but that could not be for it did not hurt him. A thought brushed his own, a cascade of tenderness so faint and ethereal that he must surely be dreaming.

*Open your mind to me*

*You a gorram angel or the devil?*

He was sure he felt amusement but how could that be? It wasn't as if he heard a thing yet thought impinged on his subconscious, a light feathery touch of concern surfing the planes of his sleeping mind and giving him ease. Huh. Now that had a right oddness to it. Mayhap he really was losing his mind.

*Can't lose what you haven't got*

The humour struck a chord of recognition in him. *River?*

A vibration trembled through his mind kind of like the way Serenity thrummed up through the deck plates as her engine vibrated beneath his feet. The most soothing metal heartbeat in the 'verse. *How the good gorram you in my head? Or is this one of the Preacher's Special Hells?*

More laughter, amusement touching his mind so gently. Smoothing down feathers he had not even known were ruffled. *You need to rest. Heal*

*You the doc now?* His quipped grumpily.

He thought he felt something like a kiss touch his thoughts like a snowflake drifting and landing on him leaving hardly no imprint on his subconscious at all. *Am I goin' shenjingbing?*

*No*. Said River softly, her thoughts full of care. *I said I would teach you*.

*River, we ain't doin' this. This is just a ruttin' dream, dong ma?*

*You need this*

*What kind of fei hua is that? Does doc know you're sleep walkin' or whatever the good gorram you call this?*

*Relax. I'll take care of you this time*

He wanted to laugh. As if the crazy girl could look after him. Only somewhere deep inside her concern touched him. Drew tears that fell in his heart not from his eyes. So weary. So gorram fragile. She coaxed him deeper into a dreamless sleep then set about the task of giving him the tools he would need to heal. Didn't matter a good gorram if he looked back on it all as a dream. The Captain had given her and Simon sanctuary. Protection. A home and family. And River wanted to give something back.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*diyu* = hell *shenjingbing* = crazy *fei hua* = nonsense/garbage talk *dong ma* = understand



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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.