Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Mal is well accustomed to things not going exactly according to plan. He just never expected it would take a jail cell to be honest with Inara.


Title: Cell (1/1) Disclaimer: Joss is boss. Pairing: Mal/Inara – as I seem to be completely incapable of writing anything else. Spoilers: Series and BDM. Summary: If he was completely honest, Mal could admit he’d had more than one fantasy involving himself and Inara. And not none of them ever happened in a jail cell. Things never seem to go smooth, do they? Rating: PG-13 Word Count: 2, 864

Not really my best work - but I wrote it about a month ago while studying for finals, and it provided much needed distraction at the time, at least.


Job was supposed to go smooth. Easy. Slip in, meet with the contact, slip out again. It had been some fancy place, and he’d needed someone who’d be comfortable. All Inara had to do was smile prettily and hold onto his arm. Wouldn’t be any danger.

Except nothing ever went smooth, and the two of them walked right into a tyen-sah trap. Should’ve known Niska would still be after him. Now they were locked in some hwoon dahn’s jail, no doubt awaiting some special brand of death by torture.

“Goddamn it,” Mal muttered, hitting one of the bars in frustration. Nothing. No way out, far as he could see.

Head hurt something fierce too. Had a nice bruise up near his left eye.


Inara’s voice was gentle and he turned to look at her. She was sitting on the floor, back braced against the wall, and elbows resting on her knees. She wasn’t hurt—men seemed to point Mal out as the threat right away.

“Looks like we’re trapped,” Mal said. “Don’t reckon these metal bars are gonna be giving out any time soon.”

Inara’s look was one of devastation and she buried her face in her hands. “I can’t believe this. You said nothing would happen. You said it would be simple.”

He should really stop saying stuff like that.

“Hey, now,” Mal said. “Ain’t all bad. Crew’ll be coming for us soon.”

She looked up at him, her bottom lip trembling. “I really need to pee.”

Mal glanced around their tiny jail cell. No furniture of any kind, much less a toilet.

“You could go over in the corner,” he said. Inara looked horrified. “Or, you know, hold it.”

Her bottom lip quivered again. “I can’t.” She paused. “I’m not peeing in the corner.”

“Don’t have any other suggestions, darlin,’” Mal said. “Next time a guard comes by, you could maybehaps use your wiles and ask for a pan.”

Her mouth tightened. “You think this is funny?”

No particularly. He shrugged instead of answering. It seemed like the safest thing to do.

“I can’t believe this,” Inara said. “I’m in a jail cell. I am… waiting to die—or to be tortured… or….” She broke off, looking miserable. “Mal, I haven’t had a client in two months.”

“Not since you came onboard after Miranda,” Mal said. “What’s that got to do with anything?”

She gave him a scathing look. “Two months,” she said, enunciating each word. “Two months! I’m doing jobs with you. Crime!” her voice rose. “Wuo de ma, I’m getting captured and I’m in a jail cell. I need to pee and you don’t have any better suggestions than ‘go in the corner.’ I do not pee in corners!”

Mal blinked. “Inara…”

She started to cry. “What more could you possibly need, Mal? You haven’t even tried to—“ her voice broke and she rubbed at her cheeks.

“I… uh…” Mal tried to gather himself together. “You wanna talk about that? Now?”

“I’m in a jail cell because of you, Mal!” she wailed. “What else am I supposed to talk about?”

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly the conversation he was planning on having in a place like this. If he was completely honest, Mal could admit he’d had more than one fantasy involving himself and Inara. And not none of them ever happened in a jail cell. He’d always figured on more romantics. Candles and music and the like.

Of course, as usual, seemed like life had taken the turn towards impending torture and death.

Good a time as any, really.

“Inara, don’t think I haven’t noticed,” he said. “I just… don’t want to rush you into anything, is all. Got more respect for you than that.”

Inara cried harder. “Fay hwa, Mal, we’ve been waiting a year. I don’t know why you’re suddenly acting the part of the gentleman. You’re scared, obviously.” She jutted out her chin and tried to look defiant.

Mal was not altogether intimidated. Woman was nearing hysterics, after all. He sighed and crouched down in front of her.

“Inara,” she met his eyes. “Don’t think for a second it’s ‘cause I don’t want you. There ain’t nothing could be farther than the truth. But you and me—gotta happen when it’s a thing worth keeping. Too much to lose if it ain’t.” Mal swallowed. “Needed you to be certain, bao-bei. Not certain my ego could take you leavin’ again.”

Inara sniffed—delicately. She wiped at her nose. “Mal that was…” she trailed. “Almost… romantic.”

“Yeah, I’m full of surprises,” he said. “That what you needed to hear?”

She nodded. “Do you think the others will take… very long?”

“Don’t rightly know,” Mal said, moving closer to her. He leaned in until he could feel the puff of her breath on his face. “It’ll be fine, Inara. Ain’t gonna let anything bad happen to you—”

She cut him off by kissing him. Both hands on his face, lips warm and needy. She crept forward until she could wind her arms around his neck. She felt good, all that heat along his body. He knew he was smudging her lipstick and it tickled him. His fingers slipped into her hair, all soft, dark locks, holding her to him.

Inara pulled away, her face contorting. Mal touched her cheek.


She got up and rushed over to the corner, fumbling to undo her skirt.


Mal did the polite thing and looked away, doing his best to pretend like he didn’t know what was happening. When she came back, she was a touch paler than before. She fixed her hair and put on a controlled smile.

“Mal, this really isn’t funny.”

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of, Inara. Fact of nature. Seen plenty of people relieve themselves in war-time.”

She still looked suspicious.

He reached for her and tried to look genuine. “I promise I won’t tell anyone.”

“Tell anyone about what?” she said sweetly, settling against him.

He brushed a hand over her hair and leaned against he wall. Inara seemed calm enough for the moment, her breathing even and controlled. She’d stopped crying and was now tracing tiny patterns along his chest, her head pillowed over his heart.

No, t’weren’t really the great romantics he was expecting.

Didn’t make it any less right.


Two hours later and Mal was ready to jump out of his own skin.

Inara was fine. Better than. She’d done some breathing exercises a while ago, mumbled some things to Buddha and relaxed. She’d even slept a tiny bit.

Mal wasn’t having as easy a time. Legs were cramping up under him, but he didn’t want to move and disturb Inara. Besides, it was better to have her in his arms than not at all.

No—what really bothered Mal was that his rutting crew had yet to make an appearance. And if they didn’t show up…

Ai ya.

He lowered his head and kissed Inara’s forehead. She smiled sleepily at him and closed her eyes again.

No way around it.

They were gonna torture her and make him watch. Or torture him and make her watch. Mal wasn’t certain which was worse.

Should’ve been Zoe with him. Or Jayne. Wouldn’t be in the same situation if it was one of them.

They’d used his feelings for her, Mal was certain. Use it against him. No way could he watch them torture Inara. She’d take a while to break too, especially now that she’d calmed down.

Or they’d kill her and make him watch. Torture and then kill her. Man like Niska would get satisfaction from that, Mal was sure.

Or maybe he’d torture and kill them both at the same time.

Inara seemed to sense his thoughts because she shifted, bringing her face up to his. She kissed the corner of his mouth before finding his lips. Her kisses were gentle, meant to be soothing.


“I know,” she said, sighing. “Mal, I… it’s not you’re fault that I’m here.”

He cupped her neck, fingers brushing under her ear. “That’s a load of go-se, Inara, and you know it. I never should’a…”

“It was just a dinner party, Mal,” she said. “That’s all it was supposed to be. You couldn’t know your contact would sell you out to Niska.”

“Inara, I can’t…” he struggled. “Can’t watch ‘em hurt you. I can’t.”

She softened. “When you and Wash—”

“That was different,” Mal said.

“Mal,” she interrupted, voice cool. “You’ve been through worse than this. Serenity Valley, Mal. If you fall apart now, he’s already won.”

“Not so simple, Inara,” he said. “Wasn’t the same.”

“I know.” She kissed his cheek. “I understand, but you need to keep it together if we’re to get out of this. Mal?”

He tightened his jaw and pulled her close again. “I’m alright.”

“You’ll find a way, Mal,” she whispered. “You always do.”


Mal dozed.

He was beginning to think he might have to take a trip to the corner himself. Could be a new form of torture. Niska’d leave them to rot. They’d starve to death in each other’s arms, only aware of all the time they’d wasted. Twisted bastard.

Mal had seen what starvation and exhaustion could do to a body. Nothing pleasant about it. Those that were strongest suffered most.


He opened his eyes. Inara peered up at him. Her face was pale, her hair messed. Her clothes were torn and dirtied. Woman still managed to look damn beautiful too, even in the darkened cell.

She played with his fingers, seeming to get strength from that bit of contact.

“Tell me something.”

He blinked. “Like what?”

“Anything,” she said. “Give me something else to focus on.” She gave an impish smile. “What was your first time like?”

“I ain’t telling you that.”

Her smile grew. “I’ll tell you mine.”


“Don’t wanna know,” Mal said. He paused. “Client?”

“Tell me yours first,” Inara said, still playing with his fingers. She widened her eyes innocently.

Later on, Mal would blame it on the wiles.

“I was seventeen.”

“Seventeen?” Inara repeated. “Hmm.”

“What?” Mal said. “Could’a been sooner. Just didn’t wanna take advantage.”

“Of course,” Inara said. “And?”

“And…” Mal shrugged. “Ain’t much to tell. Girl named Ana. We’d been going together for a while.”

“Ana,” Inara said. “Pretty.”

“Yeah, good lookin’ girl,” Mal said. “We split a couple months later when the war was getting started. At different places in our lives, I’d wager.”

“Makes sense,” Inara said. She examined him. “So? How was it?”

Mal cracked a smile. “Really, really terrible.” Inara laughed. “Mostly for her, to be honest. I felt awful.”

“The first time for a woman is rarely pleasurable,” Inara said.

“I got better with practice,” Mal said defensively. He waited a moment. “Your turn to share. Fair play, Inara.”

“Client,” she said.

He swore. “I knew it.”

She nuzzled his neck. “You did. You’re very smart.”

She was patronizing him. “Now, hold on,” Mal said. He looked at her. “Was he… gentle, at least?”

She hesitated. “It was… painful.”

Mal swallowed. He really didn’t want to know. “How old were you?”

Couldn’t seem to keep his trap shut about it, though.

“Of age,” Inara said, reassuring him with a smile. “The Guild doesn’t send out Companions under sixteen-years.”

Small comfort. “Rich?”

She gently touched his face where he was wounded. “Are you certain this is something you want to know?”

He really, really wasn’t. He squeezed her fingers. “Inara, I ain’t ever gonna like it, but it’s a part of you. Tell me.”

“Alright,” she said softly. “A Companion’s first time… it’s very profitable. There are… bids. Obviously, those with higher bids have a better chance, but the Guild is very protective. My client had a well-established reputation. He was respectful.”

Bids. Respectful.

He closed his eyes and drew in a breath. “They put a gorram price on your virginity. Sold it like a market good.”

“Mal, it wasn’t like that,” she said, sounding cross. “The Guild had spent years training me, feeding me…. A Companion’s first time is very important to them.”

“Hell, you expect that to make me feel better?”

“Mal…” she said, voice holding a warning.

He cut his eyes to the bars and gave them a few moments of silence.

“You ever been with someone who wasn’t a client?”

“No,” Inara said.

Made him feel a mite better. He bowed his head to kiss her temple and whispered, “Have to change that, won’t we?”

Inara rolled her eyes. “Well, I certainly hope so.”

“Could be, we might die today,” Mal said, lips near her ear.

Her fingers trailed over the back of his neck and into his hair. “Mal,” she said, “I am not sleeping with you in this jail cell.”

“Never suggested anything of the sort,” Mal said.

“Yes, you did.”

He sucked on her earlobe to test her reaction. She liked it.

“Should be more’n a jail cell,” Mal said. “You’re right. Should be on Serenity… music… candles… chocolate…”

“Chocolate?” Inara said, a touch breathless. “I like chocolate.”

“Figured you would,” Mal said, finding her lips.

They kissed for a while; searing kisses that made his gut tighten.

“Course,” Mal said. “If we die…”

Bee-jway, Mal,” she said. “Take your opening when you have it.”

Good idea. Less talking always seemed to work best for them anyway.

He kissed her again and let his hands move down her body. She was working the buttons of his shirt, pace somewhere between frantic and gentle.

“Really shouldn’t be doing this,” he said. “Whole manner of wrong.”

“Yes,” Inara said. “We should stop.”

They didn’t.

From far away, he could hear the sound of a lock turning.

“Huhmph?” he managed, pulling away from Inara.

“Interrupting something, sir?”

Mal blinked. Only one person in the goddam ‘verse called him—

“Zoe,” he said, scrambling upwards and unlodging Inara at the same time. She sent him a glare. “I, uh… we were… what the hell took you so long?”

Mal buttoned his shirt and held out a hand to help Inara to her feet.

“Had to make nice with the locals,” Zoe said, leaning against the cell door, keys dangling from her fingers. “Glad to see you didn’t panic.”

“Yeah, well,” Mal said, leading Inara out of the cell. “Ain’t like I never been captured by Niska before.”

Zoe’s gaze never wavered. “Wasn’t Niska, sir.”

Mal stared. “I, uh… it wasn’t?”

“Local law enforcement.”

Inara turned to give him an incredulous gaze. Mal’s jaw dropped.

“Guess I just assumed…” Mal fiddled with his ear. “Why would the police arrest me for?”

Inara raised her eyebrows. “It’s not like you’ve never broken the law before, Mal. I can’t imagine why anyone would suspect you.”

“Hey!” Mal said. “That ain’t fair. Hadn’t stolen anything from these folk yet.”

Zoe eyed the cell. “Seems like lawmen ‘round these parts ain’t altogether honest. They were after bail.”

“Bail…” Mal said. “And you…”

“Mite steep,” Zoe said. “Had to use other means to convince ‘em.”

Mal hadn’t heard any fighting. But then—he’d been otherwise engaged. He cleared his throat. “Good work. Let’s go.”

“No rush,” Zoe said. “Jayne and the doc are covering ‘till we get back.”

“The doc?” Mal said, following Zoe. “The doc’s in on this?”


Turned out, they were all in on it. Good crew Mal had himself. Filled him with a sort of Captain-y pride he’d never dare admit aloud.

Inara made herself scarce soon as they were back onboard, and Mal had to stop in the infirmary. Simon poked at his forehead and mumbled, Kaylee hovered in worry, and River made vague sounding sentences that made even less sense than was normal.

It was a few hours later when Mal made his way to Inara’s shuttle. He almost knocked before thinking better of it—why change habits now?

He was surprised to find her curled up on her side, fast asleep. Made sense—she’d had a rough day. Could’ve been worse, no denying that, but it wasn’t every day Inara got herself arrested.

Mal sighed, bending over to untie his boots. Could have been worse.

He crawled down next to her, arm curling around her waist. She snuggled against him easily, waking to mouth a “hi.”

“Could’a been worse,” he mumbled into her hair.

A faint smile tugged along her lips. “And knowing you,” she said, voice heavy with sleep. “One day it probably will be.”

“Yeah,” Mal said heavily. “Knowing me.”

“So long as it’s not today,” she said, giving a delicate yawn. “And Mal?”


“I’m glad Zoe interrupted before we could…” she trailed off. “You don’t think we really would have, in there… do you?”

“No,” Mal said honestly. “Chocolate, remember?”

Inara laughed. “I’ll be sure to hold you to that.”

Their legs entwined together and Inara’s eyes drooped closed again. “I’m glad we were honest with each other, at least.”

It really hadn’t been the romantics he’d been expecting.


“Me too.”



Thursday, May 11, 2006 5:34 AM


That was great! I loved that they admitted how they really felt in a jail cell, it seemed very appropriate, especially for Mal!This line just killed me!-
“Wuo de ma, I’m getting captured and I’m in a jail cell. I need to pee and you don’t have any better suggestions than ‘go in the corner.’ I do not pee in corners!”
Awww, very Inara! Can't wait to read your next post!

Thursday, May 11, 2006 6:13 AM


OMG. This was excellent!

Through the whole thing I was expecting the whole crew to be involved. For Inara to have planned it to get Mal to admit his feelings for her!

Thursday, May 11, 2006 6:53 AM


That was awesome. Really, and truly, awesome. I could see it being scenes from an episode, especially the banter about peeing in the beginning. It was hilarious."“I’m in a jail cell because of you, Mal!” she wailed. “What else am I supposed to talk about?”" Right on, Inara. Right on. Totally awesome.

Thursday, May 11, 2006 7:19 AM


Brilliant, I loved this! And I chuckled at Mal's assurance that they wouldn't have done it in the cell because there was no chocholate. Oh yeah, and there are snowballs in hell.. Would have loved to have seen the look on Zoe's face when she opened the cell. Oh great piece of work, I want MORE! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, May 11, 2006 10:16 AM


For me, the highlight had to be Inara taking a leak in the corner. But the part that made me go hmm had to be: "Mite steep,” Zoe said. “Had to use other means to convince ‘em." What 'other means' we talking about here?

Friday, May 12, 2006 7:11 PM


(whistles).....Damn....this is some quality go se here, Goldy;)

Loved how you made a possibly dark piece be all romantic and fluffy with having these two lovebirds cop to their feelings for one another...though I have to back Leiasky and say I was anticipating this to be some sort of "Punk'd" or "Candid Camera" homage, with the crew in on the deal;)

Oh...and Mal ain't Mal without the arrogance that covers up his insecurities:P


Wednesday, July 5, 2006 5:20 AM




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