Afterlife: Parts V & VI
Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Mal and Inara face an unanswered question ,and come closer than ever to admitting their feelings for each other...Zoe gives Mal a piece of her mind.


Title: Afterlife Parts V & VI

Not Mine: All the characters and little plot references belong to Joss and Co...

Setting: Takes place after the movie. (Some spoilers). Everyone tries to move on. This part picks up where Part IV left off...


Mal entered the empty kitchen, and in the comforting half light he went behind the stove and poured a cup of tea from the iron pot. With great effort he pulled out one of the wicker chairs and sank down under the weight of all the decisions he was facing. He was used to having the fate of others in his hands, but he never took it lightly, and knowing what needed to be done didn’t make it any easier to do. What was easier was to stay put and wear away the hours and the days. He took a sip of the hot liquid and felt it course through him as he lowered his head into his hands. Inara stood quietly watching him in the doorway as her heart skipped a beat. Part of her wanted to turn and run, he hadn’t seen her yet, and he didn’t have to. A larger part of her wanted to reach out to him, despite the pain it might cause her, just as she’d done before. She folded her slender arms against her floor length sleeveless peach silk gown and bit her lower lip. The question of whether she would be staying or leaving remained unanswered between them, as did so much else. She had been taught to expertly read and understand a man, and his desires, but the Captain confounded her like no other. As much as she tried to reason herself out of it, she cared for him, and as much as she tried to deny it, she was in love with him. “Mal?” He lifted his head and turned at the sound of her nightingale voice behind him. The room’s glow seemed to change sources and radiate from her. “Hi there,” he told her, “I didn’t hear you come in.” Her long black hair fell loosely around her shoulders in waves, the way he liked it. His blue eyes drifted over her, lingering over her beautiful face, then drifted down over her dress, admiring the way it clung to her curves. She entered the room like a butterfly on the breeze, “Hello, Mal, I, uh, didn’t want to disturb you.” She pointed at the back of his chair, “I left my robe behind.” He glanced over his shoulder and stood up, “I hadn’t even noticed.” She smiled, “I’m not surprised. You look distracted.” He gathered her white silk robe and moved closer to her, “May I?” “Of course,” she said softly as she turned her back to him, “Thank you.” He slid the robe up her arms and onto her shoulders. His fingertips slipped up her bare arms sending an unexpected warmth coursing through her, and she turned to face him and smiled nervously. “Would you like some tea?” he asked her awkwardly. She accepted and followed him behind the stove as he poured her a cup and passed it to her. “Are you sleeping okay in Book’s old room?” he asked. “It’s fine,” she said, “It’s comforting.” “If you get cramped you can always sleep in Kaylee’s bunk,” he offered, “I don’t think she’s been usin’ it too much since her an’ the doc hooked up.” Inara titled her head thoughtfully, “It’s nice for them. If it’s possible, I think Kaylee’s actually happier.” He glanced down into his cup before changing the subject, “I saw you got a wave from your girls at the House.” She nodded, “They want to know when I’m coming back.” He met her gaze, “Are you leaving again?” he asked her softly, fearing her answer. She held her eyes to his, “Are you going to give me a reason not to?” Mal lowered his cup to the counter, “Inara, you know I...” She placed her cup next to his and turned away, “No, I don’t know, Mal! You never say anything!” He followed her and caught her gently by the elbow and spun her to face him. She sighed and lowered her arms in a shrug, “So, here we are again,” she said softly as he stood within inches of her. She moved closer to him, feeling the heat between their nearly touching bodies, and lifted her tender gaze to face him. Her dark eyes were full of emotion, carrying the weight of every word she spoke to him, “Mal, I am so tired of going through this dance with you.”She lifted her hands and rested her fingertips against his chest. “I just want to stop,” she said softly. “How do we do that?” he asked as he took her hands in his, mesmerized by the softness of her skin. “We could tell each other the truth,” she managed in an voice barely above a whisper. He took her in his arms and pulled her to him and his hands moved in a carefully orchestrated rhythm up and down her back beneath her robe. “We could just...” she found herself having trouble stringing the words together as her body shifted against his, “Mal...” He lifted his hand to gently slip his fingers through the soft black curls framing her face and stroked her rose colored cheek, unable not to touch her, “Uh-huh,” he muttered in a voice that made her lip tremble, “We could just what?” She gave in and lifted her arms to encircle his neck, filling her body with his and moving her hips against him. His hands firmly cupped her silk covered bottom and his hips responded to hers in kind as he found himself torn between two very different paths of thought. Her fingertips slipped into the back of his hair, “Whether or not I leave depends on you, Mal, it always has.” He stared into her beautiful, expectant gaze, and he saw Atherton Wing, he saw Niska, he saw the bruises left by Early, and he saw her battered face after the siege at Mr. Universe’s compound. All that, and more, since she’d come aboard their ship. He froze in their heated embrace and pulled away form her, lowering his arms to his sides. He dared not see past the danger he’d already placed her in. He loved her far too much. Enough to let her walk away for a second time. Inara’s face fell as she understood his answer. He’d closed himself off again, once and for all. She shook her head and her eyes filled with tears. She struggled for breath, “I can’t do this anymore,” she sobbed as she turned and fled the room. He stood stone still, resisting every urge to go after her. Without thinking he pounded the rickety counter top, sending both the cups crashing to the floor.



Inara brushed past Zoe who entered the room in her wake. She gave Mal a questioning glance and he shrugged as if he’d done nothing. He bent over and busied himself with cleaning up the spilt teas. Zoe folded her arms in her no nonsense manor, “What are you doing with her, Mal?” He threw their cups into the sink, “Nothin’,” he huffed. Zoe took a shaky breath and launched into the most personal conversation she’d ever attempted to have with the Captain, “Exactly, Mal. You can’t just keep...” He brushed past her, “This ain’t a thing I feel to be discussin’ with you right now, Zoe.” Zoe lifted her hands into the air, “God, I am so sick of this!” That got Mal’s attention. He turned to face her. “I am unhappy,” she admitted, “And, yes, I am sad, and I am grieving, but I am not dead! Stop dancing around me, Mal! I’ll get through this. You of all people should know that.” “I’m sorry. I just ain’t sure how to act around you now, Zoe,” he confessed. Zoe sighed, “Act like you always have. Nothing’s changed between us.” She leveled her gaze to his, “I know you, Mal. I know how you feel about her. Do you really think this is what I want for you? To give up your happiness because of what I lost?” Mal ran a hand through his hair, and tried to form a protest, but Zoe wouldn’t let him. “You have to tell her how you feel,” she told him, “If you let her go this time, you won’t get another chance.” He rested his hands on the back of one of the wicker chairs, “I love her, Zoe, but this ain’t a life for her. She deserves better.” Zoe sat across from him, “So she doesn’t get a choice? You’ve always tried to separate her from the rest of us, Mal, but the truth is she’s more like us than you know.” Mal pulled the chair out and sank down as she went on, “She’ll keep runnin’, lookin’ for a place where she feels like she’s wanted.” “I want her here,” Mal told her, suddenly realizing his own confession, “But I can’t give her the life that she deserves.” “Forgive me for this, Sir,” Zoe said, “But you’ve got your head up your pigu. She doesn’t want a better life. She wants you. She ran away from a better life twice already.” “She ran away from here, too,” Mal pointed out. “And she’s back,” Zoe said as she stood up, “But for how long depends on you, Sir.” She turned to leave the room and he called out to her, “Zoe, I’m sorry about Wash.” She rested her hand in the doorway and turned to face him, “Everybody’s sorry. Sorry doesn’t bring my husband back.”


Comments welcome! Next parts: Zoe gets some comforting advice from an unexpected source, and Mal and Inara have it out, and then have at each other...(Finally!)


Wednesday, March 22, 2006 12:44 PM


Oh yay. This was lovely. Very well written. I also backtracked to your other chapters since I managed to miss them.

I'm most definitely a Mal/Inara shipper. So a big thank-you for writing this.

I'm looking forward to the next part!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 2:12 PM


It's time for Mal to tell Inara why he is so torn by his love for her then let Inara make up her mind, for once and for always. Lovely to see Zoe come out of her mourning to speak some words of sense to him. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 4:15 PM


Ah, yes! Excellent to see Zoe give Mal a piece of her mind... Very nice and angsty Mal/Inara moment too.. can't wait for the next part!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 5:50 PM


go Zoe! woo!

man, the angst...angsty...yeesh, so fabulous

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 8:07 PM


Ooh...keep it up! Me wants some M/I hot fluff;)


Thursday, March 23, 2006 4:22 AM


Lovin the M/I angst! Will or won't he, I must know... Thank you for a great story, can't wait for the next!

Thursday, August 23, 2007 6:18 AM


It's good to see how you are staying true to the characters. It's not always easy to keep their voices so clear, but you've got it!


Saturday, December 22, 2007 1:05 PM



This is awesome!!!!!!!!!!


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