Sunday, August 20, 2006

Set during the coda of the movie. Mal returns to Serenity after being treated for his wounds in a medacility. It's hard to tell which he's most piqued by - Inara contradicting his orders, or who she's contradicting them with.


Follow-up to "The Syntax of Things" and 3rd-person POV missing scene from "The Happy Return", although knowledge of either previous story is not necessary.

For ff_friday's 133rd challenge, 100-1000 words about a wish.


Inara holds the level, nudging Simon’s shoulder and indicating where the frame of the built-in couch needs to be jammed up a bit. In tedious work, the greatest satisfaction can be found through precision, in a perfectly flush cross-brace, in a coat of paint so even it’s impossible to tell these bulkheads were ever stained with grime and smoke and blood. Inara is already stitching the cushion in her mind, completing the picture of the common room as it existed before a flood of Reavers had ripped through it.

Simon looks up at her and smiles the shwai smile that felled Kaylee.

“I don’t think anyone’s going to roll off it at this angle, Inara. We can’t afford to rebuild it again –”

“Just a little – we could wedge a…”

“Or we could just bolt it in at last and see if anyone can tell the difference.”

“Doctor Tam, I’d never expected you to give up your exacting sensibilities. How very unprofessional.” The playful chide rolls off her tongue so smoothly it could have been a flirt, if it hadn’t passed between these two individuals.

“No, what I’d call unprofessional is a Companion haulin’ wrenches an’ the like when she should be conductin’ her business in the society where she belongs.” The captain’s voice is hoarse but tinged with the flare of his usual wryness. He leans against the portal to the common room, staring at the pair crouched over the handiwork they are so proud of. “I thought I told you to find a place planet-side; you shouldn’t be swimmin’ in our mess.”

“I’m not paying rent,” Inara replies matter-of-factly.

Even Simon looks up in confusion.

“I’m not paying rent,” Inara continues, “And I wish to remain with my possessions in Shuttle One. Therefore, I will be aiding in the reconstruction of Serenity, to earn my keep.” She pauses, eyes lingering on Mal’s hand clutching the portal frame, before matching his gaze once more. “I wouldn’t want any favors appearing…unprofessional.”

“Maybe I should –” begins Simon, suddenly aware he has become scenery.

“No, Simon,” Inara cuts in. “We have a job to finish.”

Mal speaks at the same instant. “Go ahead, your work’s done for today.”

Simon freezes, kneeling up on one knee with a hand on the chair beside him.

“I think I’ll check on River,” he says, and barrels out of the room.

The Captain and the Companion are now alone. She rises, places the level on the small table in front of the half-constructed couch and does her best to set her mouth in a firm line. Instead, her full, soft lips waver between a frown and a pout.

“I see you’ve made it back in one piece.”

“Mostly,” replies Mal. “I see you stayed.”

“You need me here,” she says. “Serenity needs me. You can’t make me leave.” You can’t make me leave again.

Mal glowers his approval.

“No reason to make a decision ‘til she’s ready to fly,” grumbles Mal. “But you gotta know, if you’re on this ship, an’ you work with the crew, you work like the crew. If you wanna help, I gotta know I can depend on you. Won’t go runnin’ off or – disappearin’ with clients or –”

“Mal, I would never –” She is becoming incensed.

“I am the captain of this ship and you follow the captain’s orders. It’s final.”

“If I had followed your orders, I wouldn’t be here!” she finally snaps.

Mal gulps. His fingers clench and unclench on the portal frame. He sways slightly. Inara comes to him, puts an arm around his waist.

“Come on, you should sit. You’re still recovering.”

She leads him to the only chair with finished cushions and settles him down. He looks around the room for the first time.

“I hear you an’ the doc made this place a little joint project.”

“Yes. We thought it would be beneficial if the galley and common room were in order, and since Simon isn’t yet in condition to do heavier work – you know, the boy needs to feel useful. Despite what you may think, he’s sincerely helpful, and a generous –”

“How much time?” Mal mumbles. Inara questions him with a tilt of the head. “How much time have you two worked together?”

“Since I returned to the ship, after visiting you.”

“I don’t want this – to become a complication on board. I’d trusted – you know how Kaylee feels, and honestly, it’s unfair to expect the girl to – ain’t no one out-charmin’ a Companion. I don’t want to see you do any charmin’, then, unless you know exactly –”

“Mal, what are you talking about?”

“You hold a candle for the Doctor? You got a – a hankerin’ for him?”

Inara can’t keep from laughing gently.

“I wish. It would make sense, wouldn’t it?”

Mal grumbles. “Ain’t gotta rub it in. We all know you two’re civilized folk.”

Inara perches precariously on the edge of the couch frame. Mal turns his head reluctantly toward her when the silence has become too long, too soft. Inara simply smiles, and the sweep of her eyes over his face feels like a tangible caress. Soon the illusion is given flesh – she reaches out a cool hand and brushes the hair away from his eyes.

“Nothing’s ever that simple,” she whispers.

Mal rises abruptly, at once his casual self again.

“In that case,” he pronounces, “I want you to keep an eye on him. Make sure he don’t do anything stupid, what will harm Kaylee. ‘Cause I got a feelin’ he’ll manage somethin’ foolhardy before he learns to keep that fancy mouth shut.”

“Is that an order?” Inara asks with a return to her playful tone. Mal stops on his way out the portal.

“Consider it an unprofessional favor,” he murmurs, and disappears into his ship.


Sunday, August 20, 2006 9:47 PM


This is really quite excellent. I think you really nailed the dynamics of Inara and Simon and the dialogue between Mal and Inara cannot be improved on. Really excellent stuff!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 12:35 PM


Loved this. I hope you'll write a sequel or make this into a series. Mal and Inara were dead on and the UST was perfection!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 2:08 PM


Oh...the spark is there between Simon and Inara...but it's nothing compare to jet of fire that Mal and Inara make when facing down one another;)

And I gotta admit...could totally believe Mal would ask Inara to keep an eye on Simon. She knows about proper society's manners and Kaylee's personality, so she can guess what will cause Kaylee some consternation and what won't;)



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A short ficlet set during the pilot; whatever happens to Simon's red glasses?

Set during the coda of the movie. Mal returns to Serenity after being treated for his wounds in a medacility. It's hard to tell which he's most piqued by - Inara contradicting his orders, or who she's contradicting them with.

The Happy Return
Simon's diary, set as a bridge between the scenes of the coda at the end of the movie. Simon struggles with the foot wedged firmly in his mouth, and his own inner troubles, while the crew and the ship heal. Follow-up to "The Syntax of Things". Simon/Kaylee, Simon/Serenity, crew/Serenity

darkness, light, darkness
A life painted in words. Simon's history flickers in phases like the day coming and going. For the ff_friday prompt "darkness"; title inspired by Jan Svankmajer. Simon/Kaylee

Tooth and Nail
Simon and Jayne have a little altercation over family politics. For ff_friday's 132nd prompt, "animals." Simon/Kaylee and implied Jayne/River.

As A Vision Seem
Tracey goes under: what he sees and what he doesn't see. Is death a moving forward or a moving backward? Written for ff_friday's 131st challenge, "a box".

Kaylee's sweet tooth is infectious. Soon the whole crew will be overdosing on sugar...or something else. Sharing is caring!

The Syntax of Things
The only thing worse than a waiting room is a cold bed. Immediately after the battle on Mr. Universe's moon, the crew wakes up to a different world. Inspired by the e e cummings poem, "since feeling is first". Simon/Kaylee