Nickname of Contention
Sunday, June 4, 2006

Mal has a bone to pick with Inara


****Response to Kaynara's Challenge about 'what would Inara nickname Mal?' in Tayeatra's "Tea?"******

Nickname of Contention

The first time she did it, Mal had nearly dropped his spoon into his soup.

The second time, she had merely chuckled and left him staring after her.

Now he could have sworn he had heard her wrong. He had been walking to the kitchen, a cloth in one hand, balancing a tray with his gun and cleaner in the other. He had figured on getting a good session in out of the way of everyone else before they touched down in Persephone, and Inara's chastisement about guns in the kitchen had done nothing to deter him.

Now though, he had ground to a halt and stared at the smiling woman curled up in a chair on the other side of the table where he had been about to work. Her bow lay on the table before her, rags and small tools decorating the surface. Strangely, the sight didn't disturb him but the words and her grin behind them did nothing for his turning stomach.

" Dubiqui?" he asked as he managed a few more steps into the room. Inara gave him a perfectly normal look from her dark eyes, a look they had been sharing more and more often. Warm and bright. Long moments just being in each other's company, touching but not touching...talking without words...had changed some dynamics of their relationship. A few fumbling attempts at a kiss had made them nervous of each other and he had almost given up.

Made his stomach turn but he wasn't about to be deterred by her wiles.

What wiles though...

"You heard me," she answered, reaching out and grabbing another rag.

Mal shook his head and set his gun down on the table where there was room. "'Fraid I didn't. Run it by me again."

Inara's lips gave a twitch upward. "I said, "I beat you to using the table. Go elsewhere, Snookums." "

"Say that last part again," Mal said, blankly staring at her.

"Elsewhere?" Inara countered innocently as he leaned on the table. "Snookums?"

"That's the third time you've called me 'Snookums,' 'Nara."

"I know," she said brightly, "It's getting to be a habit."

"Sorta undignified name for me, dontcha think?" he asked, unable to hide his irritation. She shrugged and looked back down at her work. "What brought this one on anyway?"

"I got bored...that and Kaylee and Simon have been irritating me by her calling him 'honey'."

"You couldn't have called me 'honey' instead?" Mal asked as he leaned against the table. That Inara would decide to torment him like this was...baffling.

"Could have. But I'm not in a relationship with you, Mal, to justify the 'honey'. For all I know, you're neither sugary nor sweet, nor cuddly like the name implies." Inara cocked her head to one side and ran her eyes over him. "And I'm not about to call you 'Stud' like I've heard some people do to one another."

"I think I'm insulted..." Mal muttered.

"I did it more for shock value, to be honest," Inara mentioned casually. "Companions do not indulge in pet names for other people often. It's been...interesting to see your reaction."

"So I got Snookums?"

"I've heard it used around," Inara answered.

Mal frowned at her. "You're embarrassing me in front of my crew for an experiment...because you have nothing better to do?" He took a step toward her and Inara stood, her look of superiority both stunning and annoying. Wu de tyen'd a woman get away with that?

"It's not as bad as it sounds...Snookums."


"What is it, Snookums?" she asked. "I was about to leave you to clean your...." Inara grinned and glanced him over. "Weapon."

"Don't call me Snookums."

"Since you asked me so nicely....Snookums."

Inara's eyes danced as she turned around to the sink and set the rag down. A hand suddenly joined hers and pressed firmly down on her wrist, keeping her hand still. She gasped, her other hand holding onto the counter.

"Mal," she whispered, shutting her eyes as she felt his warmth meet her back. The familiarity of his body made her head spin and she clenched harder onto the counter for support.

His cheek, roughened by a day's growth as usual, rubbed against her neck as he leant in toward her ear. Mal's breath caressed the shell of her ear for a moment, causing her to shiver as he simply breathed against her.

"Inara, you need to not call me Snookums." he asked as his one hand slipped beneath her arm to grasp her hand.

"Why is that, Snookums?" she whispered hoarsely as she felt his fingers trail back up her arm to circle the low shoulders of her dress.

"Brings in all kind of ideas of what Jayne'll tease me about. I don't like the thought," Mal admitted as his mouth brushed her ear again. Inara trembled against his teasing touch and backed in to him by mistake. This was the closest they had been in weeks...and it drove her crazy. She heard his hissing intake of breath and tilted her head back.

"Mal," she managed past the lump in her throat, "I don't think you need to worry about being teased. I already mentioned you Kaylee."

His hand froze on its descent along her neckline and she bit her tongue to keep from taking back that statement. Then the descent began again and she nearly lost her control when his hand brushed the top of her breast. Her body felt like it was filled with sand, slowing every movement.

"'Nara, I don't mind being nicknamed, but...Snookums?" he whispered against her ear before the hand that had brushed her breast lifted to tilt her chin back so that he could look at her. "So don't call me that."

"Snookums," Inara challenged and at the look in his eyes she felt...odd. Her stomach was tight and her muscles relaxed, and she felt all inexperienced. Mal looked her over, aware of the extreme intimacy they were in, even if he had her pinned against the kitchen counter.

"Don't call me Snookums," he murmured huskily before leaning in closer. Inara watched his mouth through half-closed eyes, wondering what would happen if she just slipped around him and hurried back to her shuttle. Mal looked at her eyes, recog nised the slight fear of what might happen and ground his teeth. That sort of look he didn't like in her and he tightened his hand on her chin as he firmly kissed her, determined to get it right this time. Inara was too skilled and too well-attuned to him not to respond and she felt the warm contact break for a moment. It was a simple kiss, only contact and little more.

Poor Snookums had been put off by his attempts earlier, she thought with a smile.

When they broke the kiss after a long moment, Inara took a deep breath and unsteadily opened her eyes. He was staring at her again, with blue eyes that were becoming increasingly dark. Mal looked uncertain, as if maybe he had gone too far. His finger traced along her jaw-line as if he were thinking and he tapped it against her chin several times.

"That went better, Mal," she whispered.

Mal leaned back. "So it did." He cleared his throat and released her as she turned around and braced herself against the counter. "I'm glad this one worked out and you didn't run off screamin'. But now I've got a gun to clean...doesn't sound right. I'd best be getting back..."

Inara watched him turn around, her breath finally coming back to her and she reached out. She snagged hold of his suspenders and let his forward momentum rock back when he reached the limits of the give.

"Get back here, Snookums." Inara suppressed a giggle as he turned around and stared at her as if she had grown another head.

She grabbed hold of his cheeks and drew him down. Mal made a muffled sound of shock before his mouth swooped down on hers, his tongue gently wedging between her lips. Inara moaned against his mouth, her one hand still pressed against her thigh as she balanced herself against his weight. He trailed his hand along the back of her neck before he broke the kiss and moved to trace her ear with his mouth. She made a sound like a kitten and shifted into him.

Mal was quiet even when she wrapped her fingers in his hair and tugged. Maybe, he thought, Snookums was a good thing... Unconsciously, her hips began to move back into his and he responded just as unconsciously, moving his mouth to lightly bite her earlobe. When she tried to move her head away Mal simply nuzzled the skin beneath her ear and set his mouth against her skin.

"Oh for the love of..." Jayne's loud voice was like a bucket of cold water being thrown over them. Inara jerked away from Mal but he simply held her where she was and looked over his shoulder at the mercenary.

Jayne was glaring at them, half-dressed and dozy but still managing to look disgusted. "It's bad enough that I get them two at it in the engine room. Now you two are gettin' it on where we eat..."

Despite his disgusted tone, Inara read in his body language that he wasn't half as disgusted as he was putting over.

"Jayne, we weren't doing anything," she offered.

"'Nara was just having a hard time with her...jewel thinger..." Mal said lamely and Inara pinched his chest in warning. When he looked back at her, she was all calm and collected.

"I am going to bed," she declared. "My bow needs to dry so I would appreciate it if you two would keep your hands off."

Without even addressing their situation, she walked gracefully to the door. Mal watched her go, discreetly hiding himself by the stove in case his body decided not to realize that their...situation had ended. Jayne watched Inara go leeringly before he walked to the cupboards and pulled out a protein bar. Mal fidgeted uneasily as Jayne started snickering behind him.

"What? I think she had...something to drink..." Mal attempted and Jayne snorted. Somehow the big man might never let this go until Mal came up with a plausible explanation.

Suddenly, Inara's dark head poked back in from the hatch and she smiled brightly at Mal. He read the devilish glint in her eyes too late and stared.

"I'll see you later, Snookums."

Jayne snorted again, hopelessly losing control of his mouth as he began to laugh. Mal stormed out after Inara, hearing Jayne calling out after him with 'Snookums.'

He was going to kill her, he decided as he jogged to the shuttle and found Inara braced against the door. One hip was cocked to the side as she tossed her hair over a shoulder and beamed at him. She looked rumpled, sweetly so, and she blushed harder when she saw the open look of desire and annoyance on Mal's face.


"Oh, you are going to have to apologize better than that, sweetheart."


I've been called 'Snookums, cookie, muffin, sweetie, sweet cheeks, even kitten...'

yep, I like my nicknames, haha

back to FCG I go! To write, to write I say!


Sunday, June 4, 2006 8:25 AM


OMG! That was hysterically funny. The definition of 'honey' as Kaylee is using it to describe Simon is great.

Now, wouldn't it be nice after their interlude in the shuttle, Mal walks out and calls her honey.....because now he knows just how sweet, sugery and cuddly she is? Hehe

And calling him Snookums in front of Jayne...BWAHAHAHAAHA!

Thank you for the laughs this morning!

Sunday, June 4, 2006 8:34 AM


That was fabulous. I am in awe! I also feel like a rank amateur after this... but that's beside the point!

Around of applause to syzg who more than rose to the challenge!

Sunday, June 4, 2006 8:36 AM


"Inara, you need to not call me Snookums." he asked as his one hand slipped beneath her arm to grasp her hand.

"Oh, you are going to have to apologize better than that, sweetheart."

ahhh, i love it, syzg! i'm glad inara could get snookums out, because i never could! thanks for responding to my challenge!


Sunday, June 4, 2006 10:40 AM


hahaha! Nice follow up... I loved them in the kitchen... that was kinda.. well, hot ;o) Yum! hehehe... I love the idea of several less than succesful attempts at a kiss, makin' them skittish and nervous hehehe

Sunday, June 4, 2006 11:30 AM


Holy Hell, so rock! I could never fathom attempting to have Inara torture Mal like that in prose....but you went and did it with Joss-like skill! Three cheers for Syzg;)

And I loved how you had Mal and Inara actually go the distance with their emotional duelling! I could just see this happening as the closer to an episode where the issue from "Tea?" comes up:D


Sunday, June 4, 2006 12:37 PM


I think Inara is about to get *exactly* what she wants - lucky girl! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, June 4, 2006 4:01 PM


Love it! Snookums is such a great nn for Mal. It's cutesy without being cutesy. And he hates it. I love it. Nice fic!

Sunday, June 4, 2006 9:29 PM


That was great!



Monday, June 5, 2006 5:35 AM


Oh, that was just dandy!

Caper, who has been called "Slime bucket" as an endearment


Wednesday, June 14, 2006 11:29 PM


That was Shiny

Wednesday, August 1, 2007 6:15 AM


Fun! This was warm and funny and just lovely.



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Finding Common Ground. Ch 6
Mal let's the crew in on the basic plan. least the way it is supposed to go. River's dreams take a turn for the pretty, shiny things...

Finding Common Ground. Ch 6
Mal let's the crew in on the basic plan. least the way it is supposed to go. River's dreams take a turn for the pretty, shiny things...

Finding Common Ground Ch.5
Inara reveals her ability to act but the results are awkward and painful

Nickname of Contention
Mal has a bone to pick with Inara

Finding Common Ground. Ch. 4
Bookstores and memories abound...get a glimpse into the humourous side of shopping. Just a continuation to a leap into plot.

Finding Common Ground...Ch.3
The story continues as Mal learns about his new job and the Mule gets its revenge. (still M/I but we need the job, people)

Finding Common Ground....Ch.2
We continue on with the tension and drama of being Mal and Inara....with the crew and a job thrown in just for fun.

Finding Common Ground
Mal and Inara share the late night vigil of flying Serenity a month after the events on Miranda, opening up a well of emotion.

A Start of Things
Set prior to the pilot (but based off Out of Gas). Mal and Inara meet for the first time