Well An' Proper
Friday, June 2, 2006

Zoe has a chat with Inara about her 'intentions', and Sushi eats!


Word Count: 1306 Rating: PG Summary: A little interlude between Zoe, Inara, and of course, Sushi :o) A/N: Written for the Sushi!Verse and anjulie. Takes place right after her story Sometimes It Takes A Gun To The Head and before A Question of Trust

Well An' Proper by 2x2

"So, how's the little guy settlin' in?" asked Zoë as she peered at Sushi through the slightly distorting glass of the fish bowl.

Inara moved to stand next to her, watching the goldfish prance through the water with affection. "He seems to be adjusting. He has such a tiny environment though, I thought I'd take him around the ship periodically, give him something new to look at." Zoë gave her a look, shaking her head wryly, and Inara flushed slightly in embarrassment but the other woman only smiled.

"You name it yet?" she asked, thinking on the fun Wash would have had coming up with some ridiculous name like 'Mr. Goldie Fins' or some such. Inara ducked her head.

"Sushi," she admitted, unenthusiastically.

"Shen me?" asked Zoë, turning to look at Inara again.

"Mal," said the Companion, shaking her head in exasperation as she rolled her eyes. She shrugged helplessly. "It stuck."

Zoë chuckled, and Inara smiled ruefully.

"Sushi. Huh," Zoë said, finding the name fitting. "Oh," she added suddenly, turning to Inara as if she'd just remembered something. "Found these in the galley. Figured them to be yours," she said, pulling a pair of silver scissors with ornate, filigreed handles out of her pocket, the shears far too fancy to be anyone's but Inara's.

"Oh!" said Inara, taking them, a slight blush colouring her cheeks. "I, uh... I was going to cut-" She stopped suddenly, a realization dawning. Zoë. Zoë cut Mal's hair... Oh, go se... The last thing Inara wanted was to make Zoë feel she was taking that away from her.

The first mate smirked inwardly. "The Captain's hair?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. Inara met Zoë's eyes regretfully, an apology in her look, her lips parting but no words coming.

"'Seems to me, hair's supposed to get shorter when you cut it," Zoë continued. "Funny thing, though, 'Captain's hair don't look any different today than it did yesterday."

"Well, I... I didn't... we... I only washed it-" Inara bit off the sentence, realizing belatedly that she shouldn't go down that avenue either.

"Oh!" said Zoë with feigned innocence, working hard to keep the smirk from her lips as she enjoyed watching Inara try to maneuver her way out of revealing the truth. "So there was hair washin', but no hair cuttin', then. Somethin' happen to change your mind mid way through?"

"No! We... I mean, I..." Inara stopped, tilting her head at Zoë, eyes narrowing as the other woman's face broke into a wide grin. "You know, don't you?" she said, tone accusing. The laugh broke from Zoë's lips and Inara closed her eyes, shaking her head as an un-suppressible smile spread over her face. "Ai ya!" she groaned.

"'Captain left his towel in the galley," said Zoë around her smile. "Gave it back to him this morning."

Inara raised her eyes heavenward and sighed, still unable to keep the smile off her face, and she sagged onto her couch, sinking back against the cushions. "Did he tell you, or did you guess?" she asked, then shook her head. "You guessed," she said, certain.

"Wasn't much to guess, way it was writ all over him," said Zoë, grinning.

Inara let out a somewhat relieved sigh. "I thought you were upset with me," she confessed.

"For cuttin' the Captain's hair?" Inara nodded and Zoë shook her head, grinning wider. "Hell, man's needed to have his hair cut well an' proper for a long while now," she said and Inara snorted, eyes going wide, hand clamping over her mouth and nose at the traitorous sound.

Zoë laughed as she turned back to the fishbowl. Tapping a few flakes of food into the water, she watched as the goldfish darted to the surface, mouth opening and closing - pop pop pop - as he ate. The woman threw a sly glance back at the Companion. "I take it the hair cuttin' was good?"

Inara's eyes slanted away, a smile quirking the corner of her lips and Zoë wasn't sure but she thought she may even have seen a slight blush flutter over the other woman's features.

“I… it—” Inara stammered, catching Zoë’s broadening grin. She shook her head. “It was,” she finished plainly, smile widening. Zoë nodded, happy to see that it had been a positive experience for both of them, which meant she could move on to more serious matters.

"Course, I think we both know this was more than just a hair cuttin’. At least, 'was for Mal," Zoë said as she dusted the flakes from her fingers and turned back to Inara, the playfulness fading from her face. "What about you?"

"Zoë! You sound like you're asking me to declare my intentions," laughed Inara, the sound fading, though, when the other woman didn't join in. "Zoë?"

"You can hurt him, Inara. ‘You understand that?”

“Zoë, I--” she trailed off, finding her hands suddenly intensely fascinating.

“You know he don’t let folk in easy, an’ I ain’t seen him let anyone in as far as you. I ain’t tryin’ to interfere,” she said, holding up a hand to forestall Inara’s response. “I’m just askin’ you not to hurt him. Man’s seen more’n enough pain for this lifetime. If this ain’t serious to you, if it’s just a game—”

“It’s not. Zoë, I think… I hope you know me better than that. I’m not toying with him, I promise.”

Zoë nodded. She’d been fairly confident that was the case, but she needed to be sure. For her sake, and all of the crew’s, as well as Mal’s. “Then I guess I am askin’ what you mean to do,” she said frankly.

Inara drew in a deep breath. "I'm going back to Sihnon."

Zoë blinked. "Shen me? You're leavin'?" Didn’t the woman just say she wasn’t toyin’ with the Captain?

“Yes, tomorrow if I can arrange it,” she said, standing. “I was thinking about it this morning, and you’ve helped me make up my mind—” she trailed off suddenly, her eyes on Zoë. “Come with me,” she said, earnestly, taking Zoë’s hand.

“What!? Leave Mal?” the other woman asked, incredulous, eyeing the Companion suspiciously.

Inara laughed, the sound dispersing the sudden tension in the shuttle. “I’m coming back! It’s just for a few days.” She smiled, liking the idea of showing Zoë around House Madrassa more and more. It would be a wonderful opportunity to pamper her and to allow her the chance to relax somewhere that wasn’t Serenity, let her have some time to herself in a place that wasn’t shadowed by the memory of Miranda and what it had cost them. “I have a few loose ends to tie up, some affairs to look into, but I’d love for you to come with me. We’d have plenty of time to relax. You could have a bath, a real bath! House Madrassa has an extensive bathing complex, and we could see the sights, it’s been ages since I’ve been back, I’d love to take in an opera, go to dinner - real food!” she cajoled. “Plus,” she added with a grin when Zoë didn’t seem convinced, “you can tell me all the things about Mal I should know that he’ll never say.” That got a quirk of a smile, and Inara squeezed Zoë’s hand between both of hers. “Please? Say you’ll come.”

Zoë pretended to ponder on it and then shrugged, a slow smile creeping onto her face. Inara answered with the girlie-est smile Zoë had ever seen on the Companion’s face, and the first mate couldn’t help but laugh, not sure if she knew quite what she was getting herself into, but Inara’s giddy anticipation was hard to resist.

“’Figure I've got some time coming,” she said, beginning to feel excited her own self. “Hell,” she grinned, “might even be fun!”


Friday, June 2, 2006 6:54 PM


Ya know...usually when someone writes Zoe confronting Inara about her intentions towards Mal, it comes out like she's mere moments from acutally making good on the offered threat. This, on the other hand, takes a much more Zoe-like approach: honest, forthright but understanding about the reality of the situation facing Inara and Mal:)

And I really wanna see how Zoe handles getting pampered and doing "feminine" things that were probably extreme luxuries to her before:)


Saturday, June 3, 2006 11:42 AM


I adored this to bits! For a moment there I thought Inara was going to leave Mal and return to Sihnon and her old life, so very happy that isn't the case. I just hope she makes it plain to Mal that she *is* coming back. Love this, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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History of an Object
There’s no reason to keep it, damaged as it is. Save one. Doesn’t matter that it’s finer than any other cup on the ship, even with the crack. Doesn’t matter that it would never hold liquid again without some of it seeping through. Burning your fingers. Was only one reason he still has the cup.

Five Years' War
The night was warm. Clouds, low on the horizon, blue black in the last light of the setting sun. Nothing but the breeze and the buzz of the cicadas breaking the stillness. A perfect evening.

The Close Shore, At the End, Untenable
“Dead ’re in my head tonight,” he said finally. “Can’t get ‘em out. Don’t got the booze or the bar to distract me. Don’t know why I’m here ‘cept I don’t think I can go through it alone.”

The Slower Path: All the Difference - Part 15 - Sequel to The One Less Traveled By
She let out a breath, saying nothing for a long moment before she raised her eyes again. “There are some things I want you to know,” she said softly. “Things I want you to understand.”

Much as he wished he could ignore it, he could see it was important to her that he know whatever it was she wanted to tell him. He knew he wouldn't have let himself see it in the past, but that weren't where they were anymore, or at least, not where they wanted to be, either of them. Their relationship had changed, was changing, and he weren’t so stupid he didn’t recognize that. He didn't know that he wanted to know it, much less understand it, but she was reluctant enough to talk about any aspect of her life as it was; could be he might ought not stop her when she wanted to.

Unlucky at Cards...
“I… You can’t be that lucky!” Mal moaned as Inara beat him again, laying out her cards with a flourish.

The Slower Path: The One Less Traveled By - Part 14 - Sequel to Regrets
They fell silent again, struggling to find the ease that they had found, before; before the argument that had almost ended things.

"I feel like-," she started.

"This is-," he said at the same time.

They looked at each other. "Awkward," they both said, laughing lightly.

Always Had Faith
Faith in a higher power? That was always Mal's thing, the Captain, back in the war.

Loved and Lost
Love’s the biggest kind of hurt there is.

And I wouldn't trade that love for nothin'.

The Mood That Passes Through
He felt the first trembling shudder go through her, heard her breath hitch and felt her fingers grip his skin; knew it was comin', the wave that was cresting the walls she'd built to hold it back, whatever it was. Knew they were about to come crashing down around her. The first sob still hurt though, still lanced through his heart like a searing hot blade to hear her make that sound.