All Askew
Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Inara. Kaylee. Alcohol. Commiserating. M/I.


Title: All Askew Author: Meee! I mean, me. Goldy. Yeah. Disclaimer: Me = Minion. Joss = Master. Keywords: Inara, Kaylee, Mal. Inara/Mal. Kaylee/Simon. Spoilers: Series, post-BDM. Summary: Inara and Kaylee share their pain. Inara angsts, as she so often does. Rating: PG. Words: 1, 459

Inara distinctly remembered saying, “No, I… couldn’t. It wouldn’t be proper.”

Kaylee laughed, patted her on the head like she was a big, well-groomed dog, and poured a stringent, mustard looking substance into a mug.

Against her better judgment, Inara drank.

She must have been desperate. There was no other explanation. Mal had finally managed to addle her brains. He’d been working on it for some time, of course. He was always barging into her shuttle, and making her do brainless things. Like leave the Training House. Or worse—fall in love with him.

“And you know what the worst part is?” She didn’t know what she was talking about. Only that it was important. Kaylee rested her chin on her hand and gave her a wide-eyed encouraging look.

Inara knew her next words would be Very Decisive.

“He has… no idea!” Inara said. She tried to ignore the high-pitched whine in her voice. It was very undignified. “I gave up my life for him, and he acts like he did me a favour! A favour!”

She finished with a small hiccup.

“Least he notices you!” Kaylee said, sitting up straight. “I thought things with Simon would get better after we got to the sexin’, but it ain’t hardly so! Just t’other night, I had to coax him to bed—was hardly wearin’ nothin’ neither, and he didn’t notice a darn thing. Ain’t right, ‘Nara. I been trying so hard.”

Inara tried to nod in a sympathetic manner.

“And he doesn’t even trust me,” Inara continued.“It’s like he thinks I’m going to up and disappear when he has his back turned. It’s nonsense! I gave up my life for him! Self-absorbed liúmáng. The least he could do is show some confidence, some respect. ‘Tea with an old friend’ does not have to be synonymous with sex, you know!”

Her voice was definitely becoming a high-pitched trill.


It was very embarrassing.

Inara’s cheeks warmed and she took a long sip of the yellow, septic-smelling… thing. Kaylee laughed and rocked back a little in her chair. If Inara were sober, she’d tell Kaylee not to fall over. As it was, it only succeeded in making her feel slightly nauseas.

“Least Cap’n gets jealous,” Kaylee said. “Plain as day he cares, ‘Nara. Sometimes I try’n flirt with Jayne, just t’a see if Simon’ll even bother doin’ somethin’ about it. Got nothin’. ‘Stead he just gets this real hurt look in his eyes, like I skinned his puppy! Never even says nothin’ about it, just keeps goin’ on, all Simon-like and crotchety.” Kaylee dropped her voice, trying to impersonate Simon (and doing it quite badly). “‘River, it’s time for your medicine… River! Don’t be throwin’ that, River, you know how the Cap’n hates it! Don’t you pay no attention to Kaylee over there!’”

Kaylee stopped, suddenly looking close to tears.

Inara realized it was her turn to say something comforting.

“Awwwwww,” she slurred.

Kaylee was not perturbed. She barreled on. “Inara, Cap’n almost died in a sword-fight on account of you. Don’t ya’ think that’s real romantic?”

Inara tried to roll her eyes, but couldn’t quite manage it. “It was not romantic.” Best to get these silly notions out of Kaylee’s head. “He was… sticking his overly large nose into places he had no business.”

As usual.

Her stomach gave an unpleasant lurch. “It’s like he thinks… he thinks he has the right to control me now. I’m not his property.” Inara’s tongue grew heavier. “Simon lets you live your life, he lets you be your own person… Mal is… he’s…. everywhere. All the time. Even when he isn’t!”

Inara knew she wasn’t making much sense. Thankfully, Kaylee was drunk enough to nod in that understanding sort-of-way.

It made her feel a touch better.

“You always been real independent, ‘Nara,” Kaylee said.

“Exactly!” Inara said, slamming her hand on the table. She winced. Ouch. “That’s… it! I never wanted… I was a Companion. It meant something. Companion’s don’t get tied down.”

Kaylee gave a small yawn. “Mmmhmmm.”

“And I worry about him! All the time! He’s so reckless, even more than before. He’s so obsessed with keeping us all safe, he doesn’t even bother to think about what we’ll do without him.”

Kaylee patted her absentmindedly on the arm. “Cap’n’ll be fine, ‘Nara. Always is. And when he ain’t, Simon’ll be there to patch him up.” Kaylee’s eyes turned troubled. “Right?”

“I don’t know, Kaylee,” Inara said. “I wish…”

“Things are all so different since Miranda,” she whispered. “It’s shiny and all, havin’ you back onboard… but we never use t’a be so…”

“Sad?” Inara offered.

Kaylee nodded, solemn. “Yeah.”

Something in Inara’s stomach gave way. She pressed a hand to her mouth.

“I, uh… I have to…”

She sprang up and zigzagged her way to the toilets, only making it to the sink before spewing up the contents of her stomach. She coughed and sputtered, cursing her own stupidity for such a lack of… control.

She slumped on her elbows, lowering her head and breathing deeply. Eventually the dizziness passed. She cleaned herself as best she could. Soap. Toothbrush. Towel. She refused to look too deeply into the mirror. She feared she wouldn’t recognize herself.

She stumbled her way back to the galley, bracing herself on Serenity’s jutting pipes to shuffle along. She found Kaylee asleep, forehead drooped down on the table, fingers still clutching at her mug.

Inara stared for a moment. “But that’s not even the worst of it,” she said quietly. Kaylee didn’t stir. “Sometimes… I don’t think he can see the future. It’s like he wants us to stay the same. But we can’t. We can’t stay on Serenity forever, no matter how much Mal wants us to. We just… can’t.”

She could imagine Kaylee’s mouth bobbing open in indignation. “That ain’t true, Inara! ” she’d say.

“You know full well it is,” Inara said. “What happens if you want children one day? What if I do? We can’t… it’s just not feasible. We can’t live like fugitives forever. But Mal can’t see that. He thinks if he holds us together tight enough… or if he loves us enough… then we can stay like this.”

“But… ‘Nara. It’s our family. What else have we got?”

“I’m not saying it’s soon,” Inara said quickly. “I just… there’s more to life than this ship. That’s all.”

Inara sighed. She brushed Kaylee’s hair back and bent to kiss her cheek.

“Sleep well, mei-mei,” she said.

Inara managed to find her way back to her shuttle, before falling face first into her bed. She didn’t sleep, though. She never did when Mal was out on a heist.

Her eyes closed, her entire head aching. It was so unlike her—drinking herself into a stupor.

When Mal came in, she heard his boot’s first. She’d memorized the sound of them, the way they sent a slight tremor along her shuttle floor. Inara shifted and rolled over.

Feigning sleep would not fool him. Still, she did it anyway.

She heard him undress and stayed still, waiting.

Finally, Mal spoke. “Zoe’s down in the infirmary. T’was good we had River with us, else we would’a… anyway, both of us are gonna be fine.”

Inara gripped her pillow in one hand. She didn’t say anything.

Mal sighed and the bed heaved as he settled in next to her. He spooned up behind her, breathing in—before breaking down into a coughing fit.

Wuo duh Ma, Inara, what in god’s ‘verse have you been drinking?” he moved away. “You smell horrible.”

Inara curled up tighter around her pillow and used her best ‘I’m-going-to-kill-you’ voice. “Mal, go away.”

“Aww, come on, ain’t that bad,” he said. He sounded like he was laughing. Hundahn. “Just… let me know if you think you’re gonna be hurling. I’ll run and get you a bowl.”

“Murder’s not always a crime out on the rim, right?” Inara said.

Mal settled down again, leaving a good foot of space between them. “Would cuddle, but, you know… you’re in a murderin’ mood. Also, point of interest, you don’t smell too good.”

“Perhaps I’m the one not in a cuddling mood, Captain.”

She tried to sound furious, but her slurred voice rather ruined the effect.

“Great,” Mal said. “We’ll just… lie here, then.”


“Inara…” he trailed off, and took a breath that signaled that she would probably not like whatever he was about to say next. “Can I maybehaps know why you were tryin’ to run your liver into an early grave?”

Inara thought about answering truthfully. And didn’t. “I promised Kaylee.”


“Now, if you don’t mind, I’d really like to get some sleep.”

“Yeah, sorry.” He rolled over. “Love you.” He paused. “You still stink, though.”


Wednesday, August 9, 2006 4:43 PM


It isn't often you get to see an Inara who isn't her picture perfect companion self. Well done. I love drunk Kaylee and drunk Inara. And even though this was funny, it had an angsty undertone that I enjoyed. Excellent job.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006 6:24 PM


aye, loved it as well

Thursday, August 10, 2006 12:52 AM


I loved this though I was a mite puzzled. The way Inara was talking with Kaylee I never would have thought she was sleeping with Mal so that came as a surprise and made Inara's words to Kaylee even more foolish. For all her whining about the Captain they obviously are keeping company on a regular basis and Mal did say "I love you" before going to sleep, so what is she complaining about? I also loved Kaylee's comments about Simon. I don't know what that yellow stuff is they drank but hope none of it ever comes to my end of the 'verse. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, August 10, 2006 2:36 AM


loved it

Thursday, August 10, 2006 7:27 AM


Poor Inara, she just can't see the future because she is still feeling lost about giving up her past! And Kaylee's comments about Simon...hilarious! They are complaining about haviing the opposite things,and wanting what the other has ( but not the man, let me make that clear!). It's a nice commentary of what different kind of women they are! Nice Job!

Friday, August 11, 2006 6:38 PM


Maybe they should sleep with each other's man....then they could get what they were wanting in the first place;)

Definitely enjoyed reading this, Goldy...though I have to agree with Alison about Inara's comments when she has Mal and he's admitting his love for her. Also gotta agree with Leighkohl, in that the dreaded resentment has begun to set in cuz Inara wants to blame Mal for her decision to leave the Guild and explore life outside the gilded cage:(

Still...cracking good stuff here, Goldy;)



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