Monday, June 5, 2006

Mal. Inara. Angst. Written for the prompt: "Mal attempts to be romantic and it doesn’t go the way he plans."


Title: Awakening Pairing: Mal/Inara. Summary: Post-BDM. Angstiness. Words: 1,495 A/N: Written for bashipforever over on livejournal.


It was their two-month anniversary.

It wasn’t anything fancy. Money was tight, as usual. River picked out the candles, swearing they were Inara’s favourite scent. Kaylee insisted on the 100 grams of chocolate. Small luxuries.

But sometimes… the small stuff was enough. It was one of the earliest things Mal’s Ma taught him, and he swore he’d carry that advice to the grave.

He certainly wasn’t expecting Inara to climb down the ladder with her eyes red and swollen. And it wasn’t the good kind of tears—not the kind where she was struck by happiness. No, this was the bad kind, the kind that let Mal know they probably weren’t going to be doing much in the way of celebrating.

“Inara…?” he approached her slowly, wracking his brain. He’d really been trying recently—knocking before barging into her shuttle, keeping the insults to a minimum, hardly bringing up her old job—

She moved away from him and alarm bells started blearing in his head. Was she going to rail at him again for impeding on her independence? Was she angry about their last job on Persephone? It wasn’t like he’d meant for her shuttle to get shot at, it just happened to be there.

“Oh, Mal…” she whispered, bottom lip trembling. She practically collapsed into his bed, leaning forward to cradle her face in her hands.

He moved forward again, daring to put a hand on her shoulder. She did not back away. That was hopeful.

She shoved a paper in his face, lifting her head. There were red marks over her cheeks from where her fingers had been pressing into her face. “It’s a wave… from the Guild…”

Mal’s mouth bobbed open—taken aback. He reached for the wave, but she snatched it back before he could read it.

“It’s awful,” she said. “They’re recalling me. There are things going on, terrible things… the Miranda incident has set off a wave of scandal. The people involved, powerful people, they…” she trailed off and fought to take a breath. “I’m not entirely sure what they want.”

It took Mal a moment to realize he should say something.

“They… what?”

Her hysteria grew. “They’re recalling me. I have to go back… to Sihnon. Temporarily.” She unconsciously bit at one of her nails. “I have to leave, Mal.”

“Uh…” Mal glanced around his small bunk, up his ladder, before turning back to her. “No you don’t.”

She grasped the paper closer to her chest and shook her head. Tears splashed over her chin. “I’m sorry.”

“But…” Mal swallowed. He sat down next to her. “This is really a lot to take in.”

She gave a choked laugh. “I know. I didn’t mean to throw this on you. I’m… frightened. This is different than anything the Guild has face before. It’s good, you know… the Guild. But times are changing, more powerful forces are at play.”

Mal glanced sideways at her. “You’re not telling me everything.”

She pressed her lips together and shook her head.

Wuo duh Ma, Inara… you can’t honestly expect that I’m just gonna… let you walk into that.”

She tried to smile and couldn’t quite manage it. “This isn’t your decision, Mal.”

“Like hell it isn’t,” Mal said. “You think I can just set you down? Leave you to that mess? You said it yourself, this has you frightened. Inara, I’ve known you a long time… you ain’t the type to scare easily.”

“I’m still a registered Companion, Mal,” she said quietly. “It’s their rules I have to follow.”

“You telling me you’re aiming to leave again? That’s it?”

“No!” Inara said sharply. “Not… not forever. But I can’t—we can’t… I don’t know how long. It could be months. Years.” Her voice dropped to a hoarse whisper. “I’d contact you.”

Ta ma duh!” he said, feeling real anger. He sprang up and whirled on her. “That’s real nice, Inara. You makin’ this decision like you’re feelings are the only ones that matter. You and me are in a serious relationship here, and I think I got a right to have some say in whether or not you’re leavin’!”

She stood too, the anger seeming to push away her earlier hysteria. “I’m not doing this to punish you! I can’t change what I am. I am a member of the Guild. I belong to that society. I’m being recalled. There’s no more to it than that.”

“There’s lots more to it than that, for chrisake’s, Inara…” he stopped, clenching his teeth and trying to calm down. “They got no right to mess about in your life this way.”

“They’re not… Mal…” her eyes pleaded for understanding. “They’re not the bad guys in this. It’s… it’s my decision to go.”

“Then don’t,” he said, voice changing. He was practically begging now. “You walked out’a this ship once and it nearly did me in. I can’t…” he struggled, “I can’t watch you do it again.”

She was hurting now and he could see it. “Mal…”

It made him push harder.

“Don’t do it, Inara. There’s other ways to go about this. We just… we gotta find ‘em. Don’t give up.”

“I’m not—”

“I love you.”

So maybe he didn’t have the best timing in the world. She gasped, but he only shrugged. There it was. Out in the open. If that couldn’t make her stay… well, there weren’t anything else he had to offer.

Her eyes went soft, and she glanced around, seeming to notice their surroundings for the first time. “You… did you…” she gave a pained smile. “Candles.”

“Yeah,” he managed. “I wanted to… was two months ago we—”

“Had sex on the kitchen table?” she suggested, mouth quirking.

“Is at that,” Mal said. “I just reckoned… well, I thought it deserved some sort of recognition, is all.”

“Thank you,” she said. “Is that…?”

“River said they was your favourite scent. Girl’s a mind reading genius so I—”

A sob from Inara made him stop mid-sentence. She held out a hand, “I’m sorry, I just—” she stopped, pressing a hand to her mouth. She folded in on herself, sliding to the floor and pulling her knees to her chest. “You had to make this as difficult as possible, didn’t you?” she said, wiping at her nose.

She looked so sad, and it made him want to curl down on the floor with her. Made him want to hold her and wipe at her tears. He wasn’t meant to watch her cry.

He didn’t move.

She was choosing to leave. Choosing the Guild. Over him.

He looked away. “None of it means a damn thing.”

Another sob. “It does.”

“If it did, you wouldn’t be choosing to go back to your tyen-sah Guild over stayin’ on Serenity.” Mal let that sink in. “Last two months was a dream, Inara. The sort’a dream that’ll haunt me long after you step off my boat.”

“Mal…” her voice broke. “Merciful Buddha, does this look like it’s easy for me?”

He folded his arms over his chest and stared at the floor. “It don’t. And this whole thing don’t make a damn lick of sense to me.”

“It’s hard to understand, I know, I… there are rules. Rules that I still have to follow, that I…” she trailed off and pulled herself to her feet. She approached him. “Mal, look at me.”

He did, with great reluctance. It hurt to look at her. Hell, hurt to be in the same room as her.

“They were not a dream, these two months,” she said. “They were the best…” she stopped and sucked in a breath before starting again. “For what it’s worth, I love you too.”

He looked at her, really looked at her.

“Don’t go.”

She closed her eyes. “Mal…”

“Don’t. I’m asking you not to, Inara…”

She touched his cheek. “If I wave you from Sihnon, will you answer me?”


The reply was too quick, too sharp.

She took a step back. “You really are the most uncompromising man I’ve ever met.”

Mal held her eyes for another moment before stooping down and pulling the chocolate out from under his bed.

“Here,” he said, voice gruff. “It’s… well, t’was supposed to be for the both of us, but it’s yours, now.”

She reached for it, hand shaking. Her eyes were wide. “I never knew it could… that it could… hurt like this.”

Her eyes begged, pleaded, hoped.

He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t watch her walk away like the last time. Everything had changed.


He moved forward. She moved forward. He grabbed her about the waist, and she gripped him around the neck, her face pressed against his shoulder and the chocolate mashing up between their bodies.

She smelled good. Like lavender.

He held her tighter.

Her voice was soft, a whisper over his ear. “One last night?”

“Yeah. I can to with pretending for a mite longer.”


Monday, June 5, 2006 6:56 PM


Crap on a cracker, Goldy! You can't just end it there! We need more! Mal can't just give up on Inara like this, not if they have finally begun something special!

This was heartbreaking, ya know? I mean, I was expecting Mal's version of "speaking before thinking" and causing a fight he manages to wiggle out of through admitting a hard truth or throwing out some rustic charm...not Inara having to leave and Mal suddenly getting cruel at her forced decision!


P.S. In case you missed my rock! We need more!

Monday, June 5, 2006 8:25 PM


Wow, talk about cruel. I am really not happy that the Guild is calling her back like that and with everything a mess it makes me worry about why they are recalling her, especially if the regime is changing and not for the better. Loved that Inara and Mal have finally told each other they love one another but I'm with Mal on this one, there must be another way. Excellent, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, June 5, 2006 10:37 PM



Great characterisation and plenty of angst!



Tuesday, June 6, 2006 1:09 AM


Ah... I still adore this very much! Delicious, painful, inevitable, unfair, pretty... I just love how you can set up thse situations where both are right and the circumstances just... beat them down!

Much love!

Tuesday, June 6, 2006 3:54 AM


Ooooh, more, more!


Thursday, May 3, 2007 4:58 AM


oh.. oh... is more coming? should i look through your BSR posts?

this was so tugging at the heart-strings here. good work.


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