Sushi!Verse - A New Beginning - Part 5
Monday, September 11, 2006

Co-Authored by anjulie and 2x2. Takes place immediately following Part 4 Mal and Inara discuss Abel's offer, and Inara has a secret to tell.


Word Count: 5453 Rating: PG-13 Spoilers: Takes place post BDM Pairing/Characters: Mal/Inara A/N: Special thanks to my co-author anjulie for writing this with me and making things work when I couldn't do it myself! You rock! *G*

Title: A New Beginning – Part 5 – Sushi!Fic By: anjulie & 2x2

Mal grunted and pulled Inara tighter against his side with one arm as he draped the other over his eyes, masking a sigh with a yawn.

Xù shù. You’ve been distracted since the moment you walked in the door,” she coaxed.

He sighed heavily. “Been ponderin’,” he said, eyes still hidden and voice rough. “Conjure it might be time we moved back to Serenity full time.”

Inara’s eyes widened. “What?” she exclaimed, lifting off him in shock. "Mal!” She tugged his arm off his face but he turned his head away, avoiding her gaze.

“Getting’ too comfortable here, ‘Nara. Complacent-like.”

“Comfortable? I thought that was the point!” she said, confused. “This is a safe place for us, for Alley to grow u—“

“Ain’t nothin’ wrong with growin’ up shipboard,” he cut in, voice harsh and she blinked in surprise. “Told Abel as much, too.”

“Mal, shenme shi?” she asked, attempting to stay calm. She knew him well enough to know his anger wasn’t really directed at her, and that this wasn’t the real issue, that there was more to it. Ren ci do Fo Zu getting anything out of him when he was in one of these moods was nearly impossible. “What happened today with Abel?”

“Nothin’ happened—

Hú shuō!” she said, her own voice taking on an edge. “‘Nothing’ didn’t make you suddenly want to run back to Serenity.”

He looked at her sharply, jaw set, and she waited for the heated retort, but it didn’t come. Instead, the anger seemed to drain out of him as he met her sympathetic stare and he sighed again, tugging her back against his side.

She went easily, her head coming to rest over his heart, and she listened to the unusually fast, unsteady beat beneath her ear, stroking gentle fingers across his ribs. “What is it?” she said softly, unable to mask the worry she felt.

“Abel’s got twelve hundred acres of land just a few miles north of Paraiso, you know that?”

“No,” she said cautiously, waiting to see where he was going.

“Took me out there to see it. Twelve hundred acres, all lyin’ fallow. Land’s grass, useless for the apples - won’t grow worth a gorram - so Abel’s fixin’ to sell it. Wanted to know what I thought about that, or so he said.”

“He wants you to buy it?” she deduced, still confused. “But...why would he think you’d want to buy twelve hundred acres of useless land?”

“Didn’t say it was useless, said the apples won’t grow on it. Fact of it is, the land’s near to perfect for grazin’ cattle. Make a nice sized ranch; plenty of grassland, fresh water, few trees here n’ there--”

“A ranch… and permanent ties to Avery,” she said softly, suddenly understanding his instinct to run and his quarrelsomeness. She smoothed her hand over his heart, brushing her lips over his skin. Her heart ached for him. The planet and her people were already so reminiscent of Shadow, where he'd had all of what Abel was offering him taken away; it was only natural that he would shy away from the idea.

But a place of their own! She loved Serenity, but to have a home where Alley could grow up, interact with other children, to stay here on Avery and live her childhood without the threat of bullets or that kind of danger every day… She had to admit the thought was enticing. She also understood that if Mal had had such a knee jerk reaction, a part of him must want it too.

“Mal—“ she started, but he cut her off with a sigh.

“Inara, don’t. There’s no way. Even at the overly fair price he’s askin’, I got no way of comin’ up with that kinda coin.”

“What if you did?” she asked hesitantly.

“I ain’t putting Serenity in hock for it, so you can jus’ get the notion out a’ your head. I set Abel straight on that, too.”

“That’s not what I’m talking about! Tianna, Mal, do you honestly think I’d let you?”

Mal shook his head. He knew Inara loved Serenity. “Don’t imagine so, no. Can’t see there’s any other way of it, though, Inara.”

“Just answer me this, Mal. All money aside, if you could do it, would you?"

"I ain't takin' his charity, 'Nara, so there's no point in playing—"

"Ai ya, Mal! Will you just answer the question? If you didn't have to worry about the money, and didn't have to put Serenity at risk, would you want it?"

He stared at her, confused. "Why are you askin—" he started, but her fierce glare cut him short and he stopped, deciding he might be better off just answering her.

"I… I'm torn two ways about it, truth be told," he said softly. “I guess there’s a fair part a’ me wants it, yeah. But my gut’s tellin’ me it’d be a dangerous thing. I ain’t sure I got it in me to risk goin’ through it again.” His eyes slid away from hers, developing a sudden interest in the calligraphy that Inara had placed in their bedroom.

“Mal,” she said, stroking his cheek, gently turning his face back to hers. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that everything in life is a risk. I know Avery reminds you of Shadow, and I know what you lost. But we have a chance to make a home here, a new home for our family. Can you risk not taking Abel’s offer? We’re never going to get a better chance.”

Lao tien ye, Inara, you think I don’t know that? You think I don’t want that kinda life for Alley? I do, more than I probably should, but I just got through tellin’ you I ain’t got the coin!”

“I know,” she placated, calming him with her hands. “I know.” She pressed another kiss to his chest, drawing in a deep breath before speaking again.

“I'm going to tell you something, and I want you to promise me you won't get upset.”

He studied her for a long moment, suspicion surfacing in his eyes. “Ain’t we a little past that, darlin’?”

“I mean it. I want your promise.”

“If it means that much to you, then you’ve got my word.”

“And don't yell, because you'll wake Alley.”

He sat up a bit, concern creasing his brow at how serious she'd become. "Don’t bode well, you askin' me to make all these promises 'fore I even know what you're gonna say, bao bei," he drawled, his worry carrying over into his voice.

Inara sat up as well, pulling the sheet up to cover her breasts as she propped her back against the headboard, eyes on her fingers twisting in her lap. She took a deep breath and began speaking, dreading what was to come. “Do you remember when Zoe and I went to Sihnon, Mal? For a few days after we were first together? I think I mentioned that I had business to settle, some affairs to put in order.”

His eyes narrowed as he looked down at her. "I hope this ain't about doin' another job for them, 'Nara," he said in disapproval.

Her eyes flashed up at him, annoyed as always at his attitude towards the Guild. “It's not about another job, but it is about finances and I suppose the Guild figures into it in an abstract way. I never told you, but I… I was selling assets, liquidating some stock. I was... preparing, I suppose. Converting credits into platinum as discretely as possible, trying not to attract Alliance attention.”

"Stock?" he asked, not understanding the direction of her thoughts.

“Stock in businesses - in Sihnon, a few in Londinium. I knew I was coming back to you, and I needed to tie up loose ends. I mean, I didn’t know when I might be back or what might happen to us in the Black.”

She watched him carefully as he blinked slowly, and nodded for her to continue. She could see his thoughts, his realization slowly dawning.

“I invested my earnings over the years - stocks, some bonds, lots of diversity. Sometimes clients would give me good advice on what to purchase…” Her voice faltered for a moment, but she took another breath, and tried to calm her thoughts, tried not to babble nervously. Mal looked intently at her, unblinking, listening to everything she was telling him, but she could see he had still not grasped the whole of her disclosure, unwilling to, or unable. She struggled on, determined to make her admission once she started.

“…But I have a good head for business. I studied the companies, what they produced, their stability.” She paused, giving him a chance to ask questions, but he stayed quiet, waiting patiently for her to finish.

Inara swallowed nervously, then raised her eyes to Mal’s, trying to gauge his reaction. “What I'm trying to say is...I have...remember you promised you wouldn’t get angry.” At his nod, she continued, “I have the money, Mal.”

He frowned. His confusion was evident, but she could see that he was trying to remain still and calm. "So, what, you've got a few hundred credits squirreled away for a rainy day?" he guessed lightly.

Inara dropped her gaze, playing absently with a string on the bed cover, wrapping it around her fingertip, before she firmed her chin and looked him in the eye. Word or no, Mal would not take this well, and prolonging it would only make it worse.

“We have a lot of money, Mal. By Avery standards, we’d even be considered well-off.”

Mal barked out a laugh, scoffing. "Come on, 'Nara," he said, and she could tell part of him was thinking that she was joking. “Wouldn’t a been working so hard these last years, living in a bitty place like this if we was rich folk, now...” He swallowed, the smile sliding of his face as more and more of him began to think over what she’d said.

She placed a hand on his. "You've provided everything we've needed. The work hasn't been that hard, and things have been so much better since Avery. I love our home, the memories we've made - Alley's first steps were taken here. We’ve been rich in blessings even without the money.” He made no effort to return the caress, remaining motionless and stiff under her touch.

Inara sighed, knowing she couldn’t predict his reaction, and slid from the bed. She felt his eyes on her as she pulled on a robe before moving to a lacquered cabinet she’d had moved from Serenity. After a brief search through an accordion folder, she removed a sheaf of documents and carried them back to the bed, gently laying them before Mal.

His breath came faster, heavier through his nose as he suddenly realized she was serious. Inara’s heart sank as dread filled her chest.

“Perhaps it would be better if you saw for yourself.”

Mal sat up fully, staring suspiciously at the papers. He looked intently at her for a moment, then down, blinking twice before he reached for one and pulled it closer.

She watched, sick at heart, as he scanned over the paper, his eyes darting back up to re-read the amount he saw there in disbelief, face going slack as he took up another page. He shook his head once, a quick jerky motion.

"This… ain’t... This can't be right," he wheezed. He flipped through several more, before glaring at her, shock and disbelief fast being replaced with rage. His fist closed furiously around the last sheet, wadding it up without really noticing what he was doing.

"How much?" he demanded, jaw clenching.

Inara’s eyes fell before his temper, guilt and trepidation washing over her in waves. She forced the words out, her mouth suddenly dry.

“Three hundred thousand platinum that's liquid and I still have stock in a biotech firm in Londinium that's paying a hefty dividend quarterly,” she confessed quietly.

"Three hunhhh---" he gasped out hoarsely, before suddenly throwing the paper across the room and spitting out a blistering string of Mandarin curses in a vicious voice.

Inara cringed inwardly, but refused to back down in the face of his belligerence, knowing that with Mal she could never show that weakness.

“Mal, hush! You'll wake Alley. You promised!”

He lurched from the bed, careless of his nudity, towering over her. Inara raised her chin, a spark of anger making its way through her remorse.

"I promised! Just how long were you plannin’ on keeping this little detail from me, Inara?" he hissed, suddenly turning to stalk the length of the room. "Tianna, all this time, all this gorram time, and not one mention," he spit out, his anger burning in his eyes.

“I knew you'd act like this, Mal. As I said, I never needed to mention it. We’ve been fine without it. The money’s been growing.”

"Well," he sneered. "Got yourself a right nice little nest egg, I reckon. Something to set yourself up with if things didn't work out, right?”

“What? No!” Inara hissed, instantly furious at him for jumping to that conclusion. “Oh! That is so like you! You have never truly let yourself believe that I’m staying. I wanted you, Mal. I chose you. Ai ya!” She accused quietly, but vehemently, her hands fisted in frustration. “You make me so angry! I did this for us. I was afraid we’d need the cash while we were on the run.’

She moved into his space, their eyes throwing sparks as they met. “This is why I never told you, Mal. You would have let it come between us. You would have blown it so out proportion that I had coin and you had nothing. I know you. Don't you understand? I chose you over my other life and I've never regretted it for a second.”

His lips pressed into a hard line, most of what she said flying past him. "I may have had nothing, Inara, but I was honest with you," he spat fiercely. He turned away from her to pace the room, his fists clenching and unclenching as though he needed to punch something.

Inara followed him, gracefully moving up behind him to lay a placating hand on his bare shoulder. He stiffened under her touch, but didn’t pull away. “I was honest with you when I told you I loved you. That's what mattered most to me then, and that's what matters most to me now. I had practically forgotten it existed until you mentioned the ranch. I’m giving it to you to buy the land.”

He recoiled as he realized what she was saying, and pivoted back to face her. “No!"

He bit back the words that she could sense threatened to spill from his lips, words that, even as angry as he was, he knew better than to utter...

"I ain't takin' your money, Inara."

“Don't be ridiculous, Mal. When I married you, everything I had became half yours.”

She thought back to Zoe telling her that Mal would never be easy and sighed. Those words had proven prophetic during the short years of their marriage. Inara took a deep breath, trying to calm herself so she could handle him. She pulled out her trump card, the one thing that Malcolm Reynolds could never resist.

“This isn't about you, Mal. It's about our daughter and her future.”

She gave a sigh of relief as his head snapped up, seeing her, her determination, blinking as the thought of his daughter finally began to leach through the slow burn of his outrage.

“But while we’re at it, Mal, let's get it all out. All the poison, all the words. I've put this day off for over three years. I want everything out that needs to be said, and then we're putting this behind us. I won't lose you now, Malcolm Reynolds. Not after all we've been through. There's not enough money in the verse for that.”

"I ain't the one who's been hiding things," he muttered, and she could see he was stewing, still fighting his emotions. "How'm I supposed to believe you now? Go neong yung duh, ‘Nara you lied to me!"

“I didn’t lie, Mal, I just… never told you.” His look told her he considered it the same thing and she huffed angrily. “You and your stiff-necked pride! You'd have burned this money before you would have spent a qiang of it. I told you, I saved it for a need. We have a need now.”

She turned from him, suddenly exhausted by the day and the emotional upheaval of the argument, sitting heavily on the bed.

Tianna, Mal, what do you want me to say? I'm sorry? I am. Sorry that I couldn't tell you. Sorry that I knew you wouldn't make it easy and that I was afraid if you knew you’d…react badly.”

He stilled, hands on hips as he turned his head away from her. "You could have told me," he insisted, voice rough but quieter now. "I woulda... woulda been better than like this." The muscle on his jaw twitched as he clenched his teeth together. "It ain't the money,’s the stock in me you didn’t have. You didn't trust me.”

"You're wrong,” she said, her voice soft, barely audible. “I trusted you with my life. I still do, but you’re so… you were unpredictable, Mal. I was afraid that you'd see what I had instead of me - and push me away. Then, later...there never seemed a good time. It was just easier to pretend it wasn't there. I'm sorry for that, I know I've hurt you. But believe me when I tell you that Alley and I have never needed anything that you haven't given us, provided for us. I love you. I need you to forgive me and we need to move past this. Whatever you decide to do with it, Mal, the money is not as important as our family. If it's going to affect our marriage, I’ll have it all sent to the Southdown Abbey.”

"Just like that?"

“Just like that. Nothing is more important to me than you and Alley, xin li nothing.” She stood gracefully and went to him, waiting quietly for his answer. She meant it. She’d do whatever he wanted with the money, excepting the small amount she’d set aside for Alley. She wouldn’t leave her daughter’s future completely to chance, but neither would she jeopardize their relationship.

Mal looked down at her, studying her face, recognizing the truthfulness in her eyes, and he pulled her to him with a sigh. “I reckon we won’t be needin’ to give it all away, but wouldn’t hurt to pass a bit along to Ethan for that woman with them twelve kids out his way. No sense sendin’ money off-world when there’s a need for it right here.”

Inara let out a slow breath, pressing her face into his chest gratefully.

Wu toh wu now,” he said softly.

She nodded against him. She could imagine his state of mind, Abel and her both hitting him with all this in one day. She knew Mal hated surprises, hated anything that left him feeling out of control, and this day had been full of them. That he could admit to her that he was muddled was a testament to how much they’d grown in the past few years.

“I know it’s a lot to accept, but please try to see it for the how shi sung chung it is”, she offered softly, gently leading him back to their bed so that he wouldn’t be towering over her.

Mal sat on the edge without seeming to notice that she’d maneuvered him there. “You got a strange way o’ lookin’ at things, ‘Nara. Good fortune!” he muttered, with a tinge of his earlier ill temper.

Inara knelt between his legs, reaching up to smooth her hands over his face, into his hair, around his nape, lightly touching him in ways that she’d learned soothed him. She pulled his face to hers, lightly kissing him, relieved when he unconsciously returned the kiss.

“We have a chance at a life here…a life for Alley, for our family. Isn’t that worth having? This isn’t Shadow, Mal,” she whispered softly, watching him closely, not surprised when his eyes slid away from hers and she heard him swallow, knowing how difficult it was for him to deal with those memories. She turned his face back to her gently, eyes seeking his compassionately. “This is not Shadow,” she reiterated, “But it could be the next best thing.”

“There weren’t even a blade of grass left on that place, Inara. If that was to happen here…sometimes it’s better not to have a thing.” The sadness in his eyes nearly destroyed her.

“We can’t live by what-ifs. Would it have been better not to have Alley? Not to have us? The war is over. You’ve said so yourself, many times, but you have to start believing it! You have the opportunity to give your daughter everything you lost. Isn’t that worth having, worth taking the risk?”

“Risk is an easy word to throw around when you don’t know the full scope of it,” he grumbled.

Inara fought the urge to shake him. How could so much stubborn fit in one man, she wondered. “You think I don’t know what it is to risk everything? I did just that, Mal. For you,” she said thickly. She could tell she had his full attention then, as he looked down into her face seriously.

“Ain’t ever like to forgot that, bao bei. Not a day goes by I don’t think how lucky I am to have you and Alley. ‘Like a dream I didn’t ever dare think would come true. I reckon we done pretty well with that part, come to think of it,” he added as he took her hands and kissed each one.

A smile pulled at the corner of her mouth, her eyes glistening with more unshed tears. “I think so, too,” she whispered. “I’ve never regretted it, Mal. It’s not a sin to want to be happy. I think we deserve this chance. And I know you, Malcolm Reynolds. This wouldn’t be eating you up half so much if you didn’t want it, too.”

His sigh flowed around her. “I s’pose you’re right about the wantin’. Burned me up when I sussed out what it was Abel took me out there for, but he was right all along.”

“He’s been a good friend. He loves you, Mal.”

“Yeah,” he agreed softly, knowing that what she said was the truth. “He’s been a light on the path, that’s sure.” He fell quiet, his hands moving to play absently with her hair, fingers trailing over her ears and jaw.

Inara quietly enjoyed the shivers of pleasure his touch always brought her as she let him think, put things in order in his mind. Her eyes slid shut as he continued with his preoccupied caresses, and she sent up small prayers of gratitude that they had weathered another storm and made it through together.

“I s’pose…if we both wanted it…together-like…for Alley ‘n all…buying a ranch… wouldn’t be the end of the world. Not like we couldn’t sell it if we got tired of it. Nothin’ says we couldn’t just leave it here and go back to Serenity anytime we took a notion – us bein’ wealthy land holders and all,” he ventured softly, staring at a spot just past her left ear. Inara tried to hold back a smile - or at least not let it spread too wide - as her eyes flew open to meet his, but it was nearly impossible. Sweet Yesu, she loved this man with his quirky ways.

“Be a lot more work, though. Startin’ from scratch n’ all.”

Inara nodded, a small grin working its way out. “It will.”

“No fancy house, or even a house at all, for a while. Gotta get fencin’ done first, corrals built. Always gonna be like that on a ranch, livestock comes first,” he warned softly, as if giving her a chance to back out.

She watched him as he began to catalog what needed to be done, his mind already working at a furious pace now that the idea was turning into reality.

“That’s fine, Mal, I know. We have our home here – we don’t have to be in any hurry to leave it,” she assured him, her heart feeling incredibly full with the promise of a future on Avery with her daughter and husband. “I’ll need to contact my attorney on Sihnon,” she went on. “And we’ll have to talk to Abel, of course,” she added, excitement growing in her by the second.

“Now pingjing xialai a minute. We need to talk out some other issues first, speakin’ of advocates. I reckon if we do go through with this, we’d best think on who’s name it ought to be in.”

“Well, I thought ours, naturally.” She sensed his hesitation. “Mal?”

“All I’m sayin’ is, not bein’ pessimistic or anything, but might be best to have the ranch in your name. Somethin’ happens to me, would simplify things. Maybe best to keep my name outta Allicance records.”

Inara sobered at the thought, eyes drifting away from his for a moment. Perhaps he was right.

His teasing voice brought her back. “Not that seein’ my name next to yours wouldn’t be all kinds of thrillin’, not to mention a little xinggan.

She gave him a small smile, happy that he’d come full circle to his old self, but still troubled by his point. “I suppose,” she said, hesitantly. “Considering your history with the Alliance,” she said, voice tinged with a touch of sadness. “I want this to be our home, Mal, not mine.”

He crooked a finger under her chin, lifting her face up to meet his eyes. “Where you are is my home, bao bei. Name on a piece of paper don’t mean nothin’. We’ve had a smooth ride since Miranda, far as the Feds go; but I learned a long time ago not to trust a thing seems too good.”

She nodded, her eyes filling at his words.

“Hey, now. What’s all this?” he asked gently, catching a tear with his thumb. “Oughta be a happy occasion when a man and his wife decide to set down roots.”

She laughed tearfully, “I am happy. Very happy,” she added in a whisper, unwilling to share that part of her happiness was for him being able to dream again – even if it was something so mundane as buying a piece of ground. Such a small thing to some, but to Mal it was risking his heart again.

“Good. That’s good. Reckon if I could reach down past the panic and shortness of breath I’d be able to feel some of that too,” he joked lightly, drawing a laugh from her that was quickly sobered by the seriousness of the words that followed. He caught another sparkling tear with his thumb, his expression turning more solemn.

“You give me strength, Inara. Make me able to do things I couldn’t without you - and I don’t mean the platinum. Don’t say it enough, prob’ly never, ain’t my way.”

“Mal…” she said softly, another tear sparkling in her lashes, always undone on the rare occassions he spoke to his this way, this honestly.

“You make me more. You make me want to be more for you,” he whispered earnestly.

Inara sniffed, drawing in a shaky breath as she lowered her gaze. “Oh, Mal,” she said, catching his hand in hers, her voice thick with tears. “The life I have with you, I never dreamt it was possible, never even knew it was something I wanted until I met you. You’ve brought me so much… I can’t imagine my life without you and Alley in it.”

He smoothed a hand over her cheek, wiping away the last of the tears, pushing her hair back and tilting her face up to his for a warm, slow kiss. “Wouldn’t be no kinda life for me, neither,” he murmured against her lips. He pulled away slowly, placing lingering kisses on her cheeks and eyelids.

“I love you,” she mouthed, eyes closing. She drew in a deep breath, visibly composing herself before she opened her eyes again and smiled.

“First things first,” she said, wiping the last remnants of her tears away with her hands. “We have to wave Abel.”

Mal blew out a breath. “Yeah. Do kinda dread that part. I, uh, I might have been a mite short with him today. Rude, you could even say.”

She tilted her head, waiting for the rest of the story to come out - the story that had started them on the events of the past hour, finally coming full circle.

She raised her eyebrows. It was her turn to tease. “You? Rude? Mal, I won’t believe it.”

He grinned, abashed. “Could be I need to be sayin’ some words of apology to him, seein’ as he was trying’ to help and all.”

She cupped his cheek softly, fingers trailing over his jaw and touching his lips as she gave him an understanding smile.

“Would you like to go alone?” she asked, not sure what he would find harder.

“Think maybe you could come, too. Abigail will be awful disappointed if you don’t bring Alley by for a visit. And, you know, with your head for business and all, could be you might help work out the details. All that fancy schoolin’ ought to come in handy.” He grinned, suddenly the old Mal. “Can’t have Abel cheatin’ me now, can I?”

A smile slowly grew and she cocked an eyebrow at him. “My head for business,” she echoed wryly, giving him a look.

“Well, that and your moderately decent looks. Might be able to haggle him down a little.”

She rolled her eyes at him affectionately. “Sure, use my wiles when it benefits you,” she said playfully.

“Well now, I seem to recall it workin’ on me once upon a time. Didn’t act all that troubled about trying to dicker me down to a lower rent.”

“Hmmm. I didn’t, did I?” she grinned. “And I was right, too.”

“Were you now?” Mal returned her smile, playing along.

‘Wasn’t I?” Inara asked, letting a sultry hint slip into her voice.

“’Bout what, exactly?” Mal asked, swallowing harder.

She slid up his torso from her kneeling position, bringing their bodies close together, lifting her eyes to his while dipping her chin forward. “You wanted me,” she breathed, biting back a smile.

“Reckon I did. Never had in all my days seen nothin’ as pretty as you when you came on board,” Mal answered, his voice husky. “Could barely put two words together in a sensible way. Guess I was lucky you just wanted a little discount ‘cause from the second I laid eyes on you I ain’t been able to think straight.” He brought his arms up around her. “ Hope not to be for a long time to come.”

“How do you think I felt, coming on board to find you all full of rough, Rim-world charm?” she asked with a smile. “I could smell danger and leather on you the instant I met you, and let’s just say it was an enticing aroma. I knew the moment I saw you I was in trouble. Every single day from then on was a struggle not to drag you into my bed and have my way with you. Those days I didn’t want to shoot you, that is,” she chuckled wickedly, fingertips skimming the muscles of his abdomen temptingly.

“Course it was a struggle, woman. Knowin’ a handsome man like myself was just a few steps away. I don’t know how you did it, but I’m guessin’ all that Companiony control trainin’ took. Lucky for you, we got past all that and you needn’t hold back any longer.” He caught the lapels of her robe and peeled it off of her. “So here we are, naked as the day we came cryin’,” he murmured, capturing her smile with his lips. “Don’t feel like you need to struggle to keep away from me no more, darlin’– might be I’d even help you along a bit,” he whispered breathlessly, pulling her up onto the bed with him.

“Mmm. What about Abel?” Inara whispered between kisses.

Mal rolled her beneath him with a grin. “Abel‘s got his own woman.”

Xù shù = relate (a story or information), tell or talk about Ren ci do Fo Zu = merciful buddha Shenme shi – what’s the matter? Hú shuō = bull shit (loosely) Tianna= Oh God Ai ya = Lao tien ye = Jesus bao bei = sweetheart Go neong yung duh – son of a bitch wu toh wu now = muddled, mixed-up, confused how shi sung chung = happy or fortuitous development, good fortune qiang – small coins, sometimes held on a string xin lin – my heart pingjing xialai = calm down xinggan.= sexy


Monday, September 11, 2006 6:44 PM


Thoroughly enjoyed this, was worth the waiting. I loved how Inara rode out Mal's anger and gently brought him back to his senses. My, but the two of them have come a long way in their relationship and it is pure pleasure to see! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 2:20 AM


What a wonderfully refreshing breath of fresh air Sushi!verse is! So glad to see this story unfolding. You guys write fabulous Mal/Inara voices and your story lines are incredible. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful work.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 9:09 AM


Tuesday, September 12, 2006 9:43 AM


Sushi!Verse, the very best of M/I, post movie.

Sexyfun, poignant, and angsty..What else could a reader need?

Thanks for the link.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 10:42 AM


Thanks everyone for your wonderful, kind words. Sushi!Verse is a fun place for us to play, and we're really happy that so many of you enjoy it too!

Amdobell, I'm glad you like the way we've progressed M & I's relationship! It's great for us too!

Katesfriend, thank-you so much! So happy that you like our 'voices' and storylines! That is a wonderful compliment! Thank-you!

librarygirl, thanks so much for pimping the link!!! *G*

and Platonist, wow, what can I say? Thank-you so much! I couldn't ask for a reader to enjoy it more!

And feel free to follow that link and visit us in LJ land, anytime!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 12:02 PM


This is great! I too love your M/I voices and how you're building a new life for them. More please!

Friday, September 15, 2006 8:32 PM


Oh anjulie and 2x2...the heights of your skill still amaze me, even after following your work for so long in this beloved storyverse:D

Definitely could see both Nathan and Morena doing this scene in my head and just how you have Mal and Inara acting. Inara is definitely a balancing influence on Mal's well-worn cyncism and paranoia;)



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History of an Object
There’s no reason to keep it, damaged as it is. Save one. Doesn’t matter that it’s finer than any other cup on the ship, even with the crack. Doesn’t matter that it would never hold liquid again without some of it seeping through. Burning your fingers. Was only one reason he still has the cup.

Five Years' War
The night was warm. Clouds, low on the horizon, blue black in the last light of the setting sun. Nothing but the breeze and the buzz of the cicadas breaking the stillness. A perfect evening.

The Close Shore, At the End, Untenable
“Dead ’re in my head tonight,” he said finally. “Can’t get ‘em out. Don’t got the booze or the bar to distract me. Don’t know why I’m here ‘cept I don’t think I can go through it alone.”

The Slower Path: All the Difference - Part 15 - Sequel to The One Less Traveled By
She let out a breath, saying nothing for a long moment before she raised her eyes again. “There are some things I want you to know,” she said softly. “Things I want you to understand.”

Much as he wished he could ignore it, he could see it was important to her that he know whatever it was she wanted to tell him. He knew he wouldn't have let himself see it in the past, but that weren't where they were anymore, or at least, not where they wanted to be, either of them. Their relationship had changed, was changing, and he weren’t so stupid he didn’t recognize that. He didn't know that he wanted to know it, much less understand it, but she was reluctant enough to talk about any aspect of her life as it was; could be he might ought not stop her when she wanted to.

Unlucky at Cards...
“I… You can’t be that lucky!” Mal moaned as Inara beat him again, laying out her cards with a flourish.

The Slower Path: The One Less Traveled By - Part 14 - Sequel to Regrets
They fell silent again, struggling to find the ease that they had found, before; before the argument that had almost ended things.

"I feel like-," she started.

"This is-," he said at the same time.

They looked at each other. "Awkward," they both said, laughing lightly.

Always Had Faith
Faith in a higher power? That was always Mal's thing, the Captain, back in the war.

Loved and Lost
Love’s the biggest kind of hurt there is.

And I wouldn't trade that love for nothin'.

The Mood That Passes Through
He felt the first trembling shudder go through her, heard her breath hitch and felt her fingers grip his skin; knew it was comin', the wave that was cresting the walls she'd built to hold it back, whatever it was. Knew they were about to come crashing down around her. The first sob still hurt though, still lanced through his heart like a searing hot blade to hear her make that sound.