Inside Out
Monday, May 8, 2006

Post-Miranda, Mal looks to Inara for some honesty about her mysterious past.


Title: Inside Out (1/1) Disclaimer: Joss Whedon is my master now. Pairing: Mal/Inara (Shock! Surprise!) Spoilers: Series and BDM. Summary: Post-Miranda, Mal looks to Inara for some honesty. Angst, but a lot less angsty than it was supposed to be originally. Word Count: 990 Rating: PG Author’s Notes: Originally written for Agent Rouka when she had a bad case of the sniffles. ‘Cause everyone should get M/I fanfic when they’re miserable.


Inara had been staring down at the cargo bay for going on an hour, elbows resting on the railing. She had a dark shawl wrapped around her arms and her fingers idly twisted the ends of it. Hair was straight today and it spilled down over her shoulders.

Mal moved to stand next to her and she smelled spicy, like jasmine and cinnamon. He stood silently, not wanting to confront her yet. What he had to say wasn’t going to be easy.

His crew was a mess. Zoe hardly said more than two words at a time. River was unstable—sometimes almost normal, oftentimes unpredictable. Simon worried about River. Kaylee worried on Simon. Jayne grunted and lifted weights and whined about their lack of jobs.

Inara brought with her all kinds of other problems. Problems it was near enough time he faced up to. Mal had to do it for Serenity, the crew—had to be the Captain.

“Figured out whether you want to go back to your girls yet?” he asked.

She gave a delicate shrug and pulled her shawl tighter around her shoulders.

Mal braced his weight on the railing. He couldn’t look at her. Wouldn’t go through with this if he looked at her.

“Crew’s been through a hell of a time lately, Inara.” Mal stopped. He swallowed. “I got to know if…

Inara turned to face him. She was nervous because she twirled a piece of hair around her finger, twisting it in a way that was a whole manner of distracting.

“Know what, Mal?” she said, eyes scanning his face.

He looked down.

“Didn’t sit too well, the doc not sharing all he knew ‘bout River. Never much liked surprises, Inara. Man’s gotta know what he’s getting into. Don’t mean t’weren’t the right thing, takin’ on the Tams… just would’a gone smoother had I known the whole story.”

Inara gave a ghost of a smile. “Please, Simon didn’t need another reason to get your fist in his face.”

Haha. Mal rubbed at the back of his neck. Just went to show, she’d completely missed his point.

“I need an honest crew, Inara,” he said. “Secrets… don’t do nothin’ but cause complications in the long run.”

Inara paled. “Mal…”

Tzao-goa. He hadn’t meant that. No good would come of going down that route with Inara. Sometimes a thing wasn’t meant to be, no matter how bad the want got.

He cut his eyes away. “You’re runnin’ from something. Have been from the first moment you stepped onboard. Now, I may not know the why’s, but I surely know this. It’ll catch up to you eventually. If I had to wager a guess, I’d say it’s a thing that ain’t altogether pleasant, else you’d have no reason to run.” Mal paused. He didn’t look at her. She remained silent. “You gonna bring something down on this crew, Inara, I got a right to know what it is. If not… maybe t’would be best if you went back to the Training House.”

Inara’s response was cool. “I don’t respond well to ultimatums, Captain.”

“That so?” Mal said. “‘Cause I don’t like it when government assassin try’n kill me and mine. I ain’t askin’ you to go, Inara. I’m askin’ for the truth.”

He looked at her. And immediately wished he hadn’t. She wasn’t doing much of a job at hiding her shock and hurt. Hwai…


She flinched backwards. “I can’t tell you.”

“And why in the hell not?”

“Because…” she hesitated. “There’s nothing to… because you’re mistaken, Captain. I am not running from anything.”


Goddam liar.

“Inara…” he dropped the act, decided to go for the whole truth. He was tired of playing. Wasn’t ever his aim to steer them back to the way things had been. No more watching her go off with clients, using insults and barbs because it was the only thing he had. “I can’t know you’re in some kind of trouble and not do anything about it.”

“I’m not asking you to—”

“I know you ain’t,” Mal interrupted. “Also know you never will. Don’t matter none.” Some bitterness crept into his tone. “You know full well I got feelin’s for you, Inara. Don’t have none of your control. Means it’ll make me stupid. I can’t put you ahead of Serenity.”

Can’t. But he would. Maybe he already had.

His words shook her. “Mal, I—”

He held out a hand. “I got a crew in a world of hurt. Tell me the truth.”

“I can’t.”


“I won’t, Mal,” she said, eyes stubborn. “If that means I have to leave, then—” Her voice caught but she collected herself. “I love Serenity. Mal, if I thought for one second that my being here put your crew in danger…”

“That’s the thing, Inara,” he said. “Sometimes we can’t know danger ‘till it’s eating us alive.”

Inara shivered. “Mal, please…”

He moved closer to her, demeanor softening. She wasn’t going to tell him. Knew it from the moment he got the stones to ask.

She blinked a few times, holding back tears, before moving into his arms, resting her head on his shoulder. She allowed herself contended sigh of relief. Obviously sensed he wasn’t going to push her anymore.

He brushed her hair back and relaxed. Wasn’t so bad, her warm body against his. Made him feel all sorts of protective—stupid tyen-sah of a feeling that got the whole thing started in the first place.

Her voice was hushed. “Mal, you’re not honestly going to throw me off, are you?”

He closed her eyes, breathing her in. Spice. Jasmine. Cinnamon. Hair smelled good too. And here she was, offering herself up to him. Love and warmth and all they’d spent a good year trying to deny existed between them. He’d never had her so within reach.

Never been so far away, neither.

“No,” he finally said. “Don’t conjure I can.”



Tzao-goa - Damn it

Guay – Hell

Tyen-sah - Goddamn


Monday, May 8, 2006 7:39 AM


Aww. This is so fluffy it gives me that cuddley warm feeling inside.


Monday, May 8, 2006 8:41 AM


"Sometimes a thing wasn’t meant to be, no matter how bad the want got."

*Sigh.* Poor Mal. Pretty fic though.

I'm guessing you have a take on the "What is Inara's secret?" storyline. Would love to read it...hint...hint....


Monday, May 8, 2006 8:56 AM


Sweet. I was a little shocked how Mal got his feelin's out in the open like that, and then their little cuddlin act, but they're right back where they started. Mal will ask her again, maybe after they barely escape a reaver attack or Inara's dad invades them or sumsuch....hint hint.

Great story.

Monday, May 8, 2006 9:51 AM


Really good story! I really liked Mal's way of speaking, it was true to the character on the show.

And more of the storyline would be great! :)


Monday, May 8, 2006 10:36 AM


Why can't Inara just be honest for once? Loved the way you wrote Mal and his attempt to get her to open up to him, not that she would. Everything always has to be on her terms which is sad. Hopefully with Mal's love she will gradually come to realise she can trust him and then perhaps they can build something solid. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, May 8, 2006 6:22 PM


Very nice, you write them so well. And yes, give us your big damn theory on Inara!

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 8:10 PM


Excellent work here, Goldy! Loved how ya had Mal struggle to do his needed duties as Captain, but temper his resolve with an attempt at understanding and compassion.

Hope you will expand on this and allow Inara to see that she can trust Mal with what caused her to sail the Black in the first place.


Thursday, May 11, 2006 11:06 AM


I love Mal/Inara fluff. After Kaylee and Simon they are my favorite pairing! The pride between the two of them - I mean come on, it's killing me. I'd love to see your take on Inara's secret ... I'm getting ready to reveal mine in my next series ... Keep it up, I'd love to see more!

Sunday, April 15, 2007 6:07 PM


love the concept of a moment arising because mal wants to know the truth... i for one want to know what inara's hiding. oh, the mystery!! ... oh, and good writing too. smooth and elegant and sucked me right in.


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