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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Inara needs a little help coping with the changes on Serenity.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1973 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
A short post-Serenity (the movie) piece that hit me out of nowhere last night. M/I, standalone, PG.
Inara remembers the way she helped Mal and Zoe mourn for Tracey--laughing and drinking in the galley, not knowing it was premature, not aware of the deadly pursuit about to make its presence known.
There's none of that now. They did their grieving on Haven, with proper graves and candles lit and rockets sent screaming into the sky. The rest of their pain was channeled into making Serenity live again, moving on as best they could into an uncertain future. We gotta keep flying, Mal didn't say. It was in their blood, in their bones, the only way they know how to live, the best way to honor their dead.
Moving on. Inara had given Mal a non-answer, which seemed to be what he wanted. For now it was enough to try to make her shuttle a little more liveable, using whatever Kaylee could scrounge up from the passenger dorm--bed covers and pillows, wall ornaments and lamps. Her life now was all about bits and pieces.
She had fought alongside this crew--this family--had been ready to die with them, for them. It wouldn't be right not to live with them now. Therefore she has sent no waves back to the Training House, and breathes a little more easily as each day passes and none arrive.
Whatever is brewing back in the Core--the inevitable repercussions and changes brought about by what they--what Mal did--they can ignore out here in the black. For now. Life goes on along the Rim, on the border worlds, and there are still enough ways a crew and ship can make a living. As far as they can tell, the Operative's word was good and no one's after them.
Inara can live with that. She can live on Serenity and it almost feels like home, like she never left. Mal acts the same way, and any sniping is good-natured and mostly by rote, more of a game than ever before. Other things are harder. She doesn't know how things were when Book left, but the double loss of course bites deeper and at times it feels they're all walking on eggshells, on shards of memories. They try not to treat Zoe differently, which seems to be what the first mate wants. It's not too hard to accept River sitting at the helm, for it seems she's wearing Wash's spirit like a mantle about her shoulders, with dinosaurs keeping vigil at her fingertips.
There's never much talking about what's passed, but Inara knows there's not much need for words on a ship this small. So nothing's said if someone disappears for an hour or so during ship's day; no one comments when Zoe turns in early; Jayne makes only token remarks if Simon and Kaylee go off alone planetside. Inara makes careful note of such things, and she can see Mal is just as watchful, always the captain looking out for his crew.
The days since they left Persephone, wreathed in rain, turn into weeks, and then a month and more have gone by before they know it. And one night at dinner, Simon repeats one of Wash's old jokes, obviously without thinking, and everyone laughs, even Zoe, and it's all natural and unforced and seems just fine.
But even as she laughs along with rest, Inara feels her stomach lurch and her eyes sting. Something inside she didn't even know she had buried wants to burst out to say that moving on was wrong, that they haven't done their dead proper homage. It takes all her Companion training to hold it in, to hold on to normality until enough time has passed and she can leave gracefully as if nothing troubles her.
Back in the shuttle she stares at the makeshift comfort contrived from what little Serenity could offer, and takes small comfort in knowing she would not feel any better surrounded by more opulent trappings. She chose this, she chose not to leave. But now she can choose to give in, to give up the courage she's been borrowing from Mal and the others since the day he decided to do the right thing.
Inara kneels down between the bed and her trunk which serves now as a low table, on which rests the tea service she and River put together from "sundries" left behind and castoffs from the galley. It would be simple enough to brew some tea on the small battery-operated heat unit liberated from storage, and let it soothe her distress and lead her into the proper state for some healing meditation. But it will be quicker and more fitting to reach into the basket of spare rations Kaylee had given her for the flask of engine-room hooch that's supposed to be for "emergencies."
If this is going to be a wake, Inara thinks, I'm going to do it properly.
She knocks back the first swig in a fashion that would scandalize Sheydra and the girls, welcoming the harsh bite and choking sting of it. The second goes down a bit more easily, and the third swallow lights a fire in her belly. It's very fresh, she thinks, recalling how she once dissembled before Mal, and snorts a laugh in a most unbecoming manner. It's easy to imagine Book raising an eyebrow at such a display, and Wash going goggle-eyed. Dear Buddha, she misses them so!
Another sip, and it's even easier for amusement to turn to melancholy. She remained dry-eyed at the funeral, crying only briefly in private while the Alliance ship escorted them to the shipyards on Persephone. Now she can cry without restraint, raising the flask in a wobbly salute to the fallen.
"Let them be at peace," she pleads with Heaven. "Give--give us peace," she adds, her voice breaking.
Then a hand is on hers, lowering the flask to the table, making her let go, and an arm comes around her shoulder. "Oh, darlin', that ain't the way," Mal says, suddenly beside her on the floor and pulling her close. "It only takes the pain away for a bit."
She turns to him, befuddled and ashamed, but there's no reproach in his manner. His gaze on her is warm, though his brow is furrowed with concern. In the past, she would have berated him for barging in, pushed him away for being so forward, tried to break free even as his other arm came around to draw her even nearer. But that wasn't the way of it now.
It feels right to rest her head on his shoulder, to cry her heart out for Wash, for Book and Mr. Universe. More tears fall for the countless souls on Miranda, for the damned survivors and their helpless victims across the 'verse. Mal holds on and says nothing, one hand holding her head while the other gently rubs her back. It reminds her of that unguarded moment on Miranda and she cries harder for all the ifs and maybes of her life and his. Time seems to stop and stretch into endless moments as her body shakes and his remains steady and true. Then it snaps back when she raises a hand to his face and finds it as wet as her own.
Inara looks up at him and can't find any words, but they're not needed when he lowers his head to place a soft kiss on her lips. There's no long pent-up passion in it, no hungry desire. It just feels right, like a bargain sealed, as she lets out a little hiccupping sigh in response, not quite kissing him back.
"Ready to change your answer?" he murmurs against her cheek, and she's so worn out from the crying and the booze that for a moment she has no idea what he's on about. Then it clicks, and she lets her hand stray to his shirt, toying with the buttons as if she's stalling for time. But she knows he's taking it as she means it--a gesture of familiarity, of acceptance. She looks up and is rewarded by his smile, the crooked one that always melts her heart.
He's waiting oh so patiently, and she smiles back. "Why would I ever want to leave Serenity?" she says softly.
Mal huffs, and for a split second looks stern. "I ain't ever gonna let you think of a reason again," he promises. He moves to stand, and she starts to follow, but sways alarmingly as the home brew suddenly goes to her head. Mal sweeps her up in his arms and turns to the bed. "Gotta sleep it off," he scolds her.
And she lets him lay her down and tuck her in, content to watch him kick off his boots and settle in the only chair by her side. When he reaches out she takes his hand, sighing as he pulls the covers up over her shoulders, knowing he'll sit with her till morning.
"Not ever gonna let you go," she hears him murmur as she starts to drift off, and she knows she's not surrendering, not giving up anything she wasn't ready to.
She's finally come home.
Friday, August 4, 2006 1:35 AM
Friday, August 4, 2006 2:59 AM
Friday, August 4, 2006 5:23 AM
Friday, August 4, 2006 7:12 AM
Saturday, August 5, 2006 3:57 PM
Saturday, August 5, 2006 8:14 PM
Sunday, August 6, 2006 10:03 AM
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