A Question of Trust
Friday, May 19, 2006

Disclaimer: It all belongs to Mr. Whedon et al -except for the fish. Pairing: M/I always! Rating: PG-13 or so Summary: More of the Sushi Series set right after Well An' Proper by 2x2.


A Question of Trust As anyone who had ever known her could tell you, when Inara Serra made up her mind, it was definite. Complete resolution. It was never the decision, once made, that was the problem. It was the deciding that was the agony for her. And when she determined, once and for all, what to do about the maelstrom that was Malcolm Reynolds the rest fell into place for her without a whimper. ~*~ Things did not look promising in the cargo bay. Mal noted two dainty train cases and one larger suitcase by the stairs, an elegant shimmer wrap thrown over the top. He’d told Zöe that he thought Inara would be leaving, but that she’d go this fast was a surprise even to him. By the time he was outside her shuttle he had an ache in his chest and gut that nearly took his breath. He recognized the feeling. It was the way he’d felt the last time she'd left Serenity. He hadn’t had much to say that time either. He met Jayne and Simon coming out, carrying boxes filled with the draperies she’d used to decorate. They nodded at Mal and moved off, looking nervous and like they wished they were elsewhere. He could hear her and Kaylee discussing the price of something, and he was just about to step in when River danced out carrying a tiny, wooden music box held to her ear in one hand and Sushi’s bowl in the other. Sushi darted about lazily, seemingly undisturbed by the dancing or the moving. “Zao lao!” She hummed as she passed him, flashing him a beautiful smile.” “Mornin’,” he answered tightly, trying to see inside. “What’s goin’ on in there, albatross?” “Out with the old, in with the new,” she sang, grinning like that was the best news she’d heard all day. Mal felt his stomach clench, then the pain eased and he felt a familiar coldness soak through him. Best if they got this over with fast. Tearin’ out a heart was like tearin’ off a weave. Wa’n’t no use protractin’ the pain. “She leavin’ then?” he ground out. “She gonna need a ride?” The music crept to a tinkling halt and River looked up, her smile dying slowly, until she was her cryptic, serious self again. “Needs to hear your voice. Wants to press her cheek to your chest and hear your heart beating slowly. Her heart’s pounding and she’s scared. On the inside. Hands are all shaky. On the outside.” She held the music box up and the sunny smile was back. “She gave me this. I’m the official babysitter for the goldfish, too. Carassius auratus, in the Latin. They can live up to ten years in captivity, but breeding is not suggested after year five. One pinch of food a day, no more!” she quoted sternly. Mal blinked twice and set her gently out of his path. Three steps later he was in Inara’s shuttle - or what was left of it. She’d stripped the place bare and boxed the entire room into cardboard containers against one wall. She and Kaylee were still talking quietly about the cost of something, with Kaylee firmly insisting that whatever they had held between them was worth more for having once been owned by a companion. Inara was dressed for travel, not as flashy as she usually looked, but still plenty nice. He had just opened his mouth to make a scathing comment when she turned and saw him. The warm smile and look of delight in her eyes had him swallowing hard instead. “Mal! Just the person I need to see. I’m afraid I need to ask a favor of you while I’m gone. Actually, it’s more like a landlord duty. I’ve bought all the supplies though, so it’s just a matter of applying it.” Though her voice was bright and cheerful, he couldn’t help but think that something was amiss. Remembering River’s gibberish in the hall, he reached down and took her hands. Seeing the look on his face, Kaylee quietly backed out of the shuttle and pulled the door closed. “Shenme shi? You're shakin’ like a leaf.” There was no play in him, no room for pretense. “Nothing is wrong,” she stated firmly. “My hands always shake when I make life-altering decisions. It will pass.” “You leavin’ me?” He hadn’t meant to say ‘me,’ and he wanted to kick himself for the slip. His tone was so neutral, he could have been asking about the weather, but she wasn’t fooled. “No. I mean, yes, but only for a while. I’ll be back in three days. I’ve asked Jayne to get me to the skyplex. I’ve got a flight booked to Sihnon.” She freed one of her hands and reached up to cup his face. His eyes slid closed involuntarily at her touch. He covered her hand, turning into it to press a kiss into her palm. Her skin smelled like something from the heaven that he’d forsworn. The ache and the coldness subsided to a dull throb. “Is this over last night, darlin’? Cause if I-“ She interrupted him, pressing her fingers over his lips. “Shhh. Yes, last night is part of it. It helped me finally make a decision I’ve been languishing over. Today, I’m clear about it, just shaky.” He took a deep breath, trying not to look as confused as he felt. “Mal, don’t look like that. I’m coming back. You have to trust me.” “What kind of life-alterin’ decision we talkin’ ‘bout here?” he asked, trying to read her face. She was closed off this morning, more formal than he’d seen her for a while. Gazing half an inch past his right ear she rattled off her to-do list.

“I’m going to Sihnon to see my superior. I also have a place there, and I have some things I would like to retrieve. I have business items that need my attention.” She smiled her normal smile. “And I need a manicure.” His hand made it’s way into her dark hair, pulling her into him, cradling her against his chest, feeling her arms clench around his waist. She pressed her ear to his chest. “My heart is racing compared to yours.” She laughed, but he thought he heard a ghost of a sob in her voice. He tried to lift her face to his, but she tightened her arms around him and pressed closer. He felt a wave of alarm wash over him. “Look at me,” he urged. She finally raised her head. “What are you doin’, bao bei? Tell me what’s wrong. Do you need help?” She laughed softly. “Undoubtedly, do you know a good psychiatrist?” When he only looked more worried, she turned her attention to him, studying every detail of his face. Pulling one hand from around his waist, she traced her fingers softly down his jaw, memorizing every line. “Kiss me,” she whispered. He did as she bid him, lowering his mouth to hers gently. She guided him closer, tilted his face to suit her and parted his lips with her tongue, basking in the warmth and scent of him. Leather, maleness, toothpaste, shaving soap, and her shampoo swirled together to make her dizzy. Her intoxicating taste exploded through his head in swirls of orange and red, and he pulled her even closer. When he finally raised his head, they were both breathless. He rubbed his thumb gently across her lower lip, pressing it slightly into her mouth, thinking that looking into her eyes was like looking into the black. He could do it forever and not get tired of it. “Don’t want you goin’ alone. Ain’t safe. I’m comin’ with you.” It wasn’t a question and she smiled as she pulled him back to her. “I will be perfectly fine, Mal. And I already have a traveling partner. Someone who needs a little time away from the ship. You stay here and get the job. I like these people, they don’t shoot at you so much.” “Zöe?” he asked, surprised. He ignored the shooting part of her statement. She nodded. “She’s going to ask you, but she says she has some personal time coming. I think the break will do her good. I’m going to treat her a little. We’re going to do girl things – pedicures, bubble baths, champagne...” “Zöe’s a free agent, don’t have to ask for leave. Don’t say that about bubble baths in front of Kaylee though, she’ll pout and sulk the whole time you’re gone.” “I’ve already talked to Kaylee and River. The next girls’ outing we take, they’re both invited.” She turned serious again. “Sometimes I’m going to need that, Mal. I’m going to have to have the freedom to go away for a few days by myself, sometimes with the other women, sometimes alone. I need you to understand that.” “Inara, don’t mean to be slow, but I’m lost here - what in the nine hells are you talkin’ about?” She regarded him with rueful amusement. As Kaylee would say, he could be as dumb as a fence post at times. “I’m going to retire my license in the Guild. I’ll start by requesting a leave of absence, and then I’ll simply pay my dues and remain in retirement. This is a huge decision for me, and I was having a small panic attack. I feel better now that you’re here.” She pressed her face back into his chest and he brought his arms around her tightly. “Well, now.” He sounded as stunned as she felt. He kissed the top of her head. “This cause of me?” He heard her muffled laughter against his chest. “Yes, Mal, this is because of you, because of us.” She jerked her head up suddenly to glare fiercely at him, nearly clipping him on the chin. “And if you get yourself killed I will never, ever forgive you. Dong le ma?” He smiled that quirky crooked smile that usually infuriated her. “I’ll try to stay breathin’ and outta the dirt, at least until you and Zöe get back.” “So what’s the favor?” he asked, trying to move back to steady ground. Inara seemed to have made some major decisions, but he felt like he was walking on quicksand. “Shenme? Oh!” she gasped, pulling away from him to walk to a pile of supplies in the corner. “The favor. I need my shuttle painted while I’m gone. I’m going to be bringing some of my belongings back with me and it will simplify things if the work is done when I get back. Would you mind? You are my landlord,” she teased. “We’ll talk about this landlord nonsense later, but I guess we could throw on a couple coats a paint. Since Zöe’s decided to run off with you, I’ll do her errands, too. We’ll be here when you get back.” “That’s all taken care of. River and Kaylee are going to do for Zöe. I’ve given River some coordinates where we can meet if something should go wrong; but if I don’t hear otherwise, we’ll be back here.” “Darlin’, this is a dirt-poor farmin’ world in the middle of nowhere. What could go wrong?” She sighed. He actually believed what he was saying. “Of course, Mal. Nothing could ever go wrong with you around; but just in case, let’s keep those coordinates handy.” “Well, might not hurt.” He looked around at the barren room. “You gonna take redecorating’ spells like this a lot?” He tried to sound casual but she could hear the concern. She laughed, relieved and happy again. Resolute now that he was here. His presence, his touch, his scent, all bringing back to her that this was the right decision for her at this time. “I’ll try to contain my ‘spells’ to every few years,” she promised, watching him closely for a reaction. It took him a second. “Years, huh?” His question was simple, but his tone was pleased. “That’s a discussion we’ll have when I get back. I need closure on this, Mal, and then we’ll work on the other. Like you say, do the thing, one thing at a time.” He seemed bemused, “I say that?” “You say all sorts of wise things when you’re not yelling hysterically.” She pulled him close and kissed him again, feeling a tangle of emotions at the luxury of touching him whenever she liked. “I have to go soon,” she sighed. “You do trust me, don’t you, Mal?” He pulled some coins from his pocket and pressed them into her hand. “Bring Kaylee and River back a trinket for me. They got birthdays comin’ up.” She couldn’t contain her smile at his gruff thoughtfulness. “Can I bring you anything?” He shook his head. “Can’t think of a thing I need. Wei! Maybe a capture of you in that bubble bath,” he suggested with a grin. “Maybe I’ll just bring a bottle home with me and we’ll have our own right here,” she countered in a voice so sultry his whole nervous system nearly seized up. “Ain’t got no tub,” he whispered against her neck, as he pressed small, open-mouthed kisses to the smooth skin there. “That’s one of the things we’ll talk about when I get back,” she promised. She felt her legs getting weak and pulled his mouth to hers. In a matter of seconds, they were desperate for the other. She kissed him like she’d been wanting to all morning and heard him moan into her mouth. “How long we got 'fore you leave?” he whispered, working his hands under her skirt to trail them up and over her bottom. His hands stopped abruptly, and he pulled his mouth away from hers to stare incredulously into her face. “Ta ma de!" His voice was so hoarse he could barely get the words out, and his ears had turned brick red. “You ain’t wearin’ a stitch under there!” She laughed in delight at his stunned expression. Her fingers skimmed into the softness of his hair and fisted there. She tilted his mouth down to hers and lost herself in him. Only later would she remember that he’d never answered her question about trust. ~*~


Friday, May 19, 2006 9:17 AM


Absolutely gorgeous! I loved this so much I think I will read it again and again until my happy little shipper heart finds its' rhythm again. This was so perfect. My favourite line? "You say all sorts of wise things when you're not yelling hysterically". Wish I'd thought of that line! Bravo, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, May 19, 2006 9:28 AM


Oh wow, this is great! How did I miss your earlier ones? Running off to catch up...

Love the M/I interaction, very sweet, just slightly angsty, promising lots of drama to come.

Thanks! I'm looking forward to more!


Friday, May 19, 2006 9:36 AM


2x2 has a really good one in this series, too. Actually, it's the best cause it has the smut! :-)

Friday, May 19, 2006 10:13 AM


Yay for Sushi! The best OC ever!

Another great chapter to keep us Mal/Nara shippers happy!


Friday, May 19, 2006 1:47 PM


"How long we got 'fore you leave?"
"Paint my shuttle"... Too funny!!!

Didn't take long or much to get him whipped.

Zoe and Inara laughing all the way to the spa.. Too cute!!!

Saturday, May 20, 2006 6:11 PM


Lovely...absolutely lovely, anjulie! The angst you had Mal feeling at seeing Inara's bags and stuff being moved out of her shuttle was breaking my heart till you had Inara explain she was just wrapping up loose ends:)

Can't wait for more;)



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The Edge of a Petal
Rating: Squeaky clean <br>
Paring: Mal/Inara <br>
Setting: Pre-series. Months before the Firefly
pilot. <br>

From the Journal of Inara Serra
Genre: G Mal/Inara
Characters: Inara Serra w/mention of others
Summary: This is another Sushi!Fic that takes place after Ain't Never Gonna Be Easy and before isha_libran's most beautiful, gorgeous story called <a href=""Just Another Day In the Black.</a> Avery is the name of the planet with Abel Stoddard.

Ain't Never Gonna Be Easy: Sushi!fic
Rating: PG-13 Fluff is a given with my fic.
Pairing: Mal/Inara
Summary: A new installment in which there is shoppin' and kissin' and some sex against the wall, (but you have to imagine that part.)
Posting this here because of hate mail for LiveJournal. Sorry, 'bout that. I don't write the code, people! :-D

Sushi!fics Listing
Links to the Sushi!fic in order. More may be added at a later date.

A Question of Trust
Disclaimer: It all belongs to Mr. Whedon et al -except for the fish.
Pairing: M/I always!
Rating: PG-13 or so
Summary: More of the Sushi Series set right after Well An' Proper by 2x2.

Sometimes It Takes a Gun to the Head
Rating: G

Pairing: Zoe and Mal Mal/Inara implied

A/N: This is part three to A Cargo Smuggler, His Girl, and Her...Well, You'll See. It is set after the smuffly second part, So Much for Fantasies, written by browncoat_2x2 because I refuse to believe that Mal and Inara are NOT doing it.

A Cargo Smuggler, His Girl, and Her...Well, You'll See
Disclaimer: All characters are Mr. Whedon's except for ..well, you'll see.
Pairing: Mal/Inara
Rating: It's squeaky clean and full of fluffy Mal/Inara love. You have been warned.
Summary: A one-shot Mal/Inara piece that I needed to get out of my head.

Author's Note: Special thanks to agent_rouka for the "cooking" prompt and trying to keep me f*o*c*u*s*e*d.

Time On Their Hands
Ficlet written for the agent_rouka Amuse Me, Minions!! Challenge which went something like this:

Kaylee is holding a box and glaring at Inara.
Inara is bewildered.
Jayne is glaring at both.
Mal is walking in, unassuming.

Cross posted to mal_inara

Look at Me
Drabbles written for prompt: look at me
One inference to sex (or a good foot massage.) Very sappy - tooth decay even. M/I Cross-posted to mal_inara

In the Shadow of the Cross
Zoe has a talk with Mal. Not Mal/Zoe. Written for Easter. Contains Christian religious references - if this offends you, please don't read it. Joss is not my god, but he is a mighty fine storyteller, even if he did kill Wash. His characters are used without permission.