Inara's Return
Sunday, September 24, 2006

Music, dance, Sake, angst. Jazmine is foolish. Will it work?


Disclaimer: Characters are not mine, I just like messing with their heads. Nobody's getting paid.

Scene 1 (Persephone. Airlock. Inara is arriving with trunks and baggage.)

MAL: ‘Lo Inara. Trip’s only a week out. You plan on setting up shop there? INARA: Be nice or I’ll give your present to Jayne. JAYNE: She brought gifts? Go on Mal, give her a hard time! MAL: Just for that I’m on best behavior. INARA: How will we tell? (sniffs) Who’s been eating garlic? KAYLEE: Everybody! (hugs her) Perks up a meal no end. ZOE: Cook’s marking territory. You can tell who’s crew in the dark. SIMON: (gets a hug) Sort of like all getting the same tattoo, but edible. You’re also not stuck with it for life. Do you want help with your things? INARA: Please, I’ll be staying in the shuttle. I didn’t want to impose. Where’s River? SIMON: Piloting. MAL: Like a duck to water. Jayne, help the lady with her sundries. No pawing through or shaking suspicious gift shaped packages. I’ll go let QBG know you’re on board. She’s whipping up some kind of welcoming tea party or some such. Music tonight. INARA: I’m sure that will be lovely, thank you. The cook’s a she? ZOE: Very much so. INARA: QBG? ZOE: Queen Bitch Goddess. INARA: Sounds pleasant. ZOE: Usually, but she’s earned it a time or two. INARA: I’ll try to keep that in mind. So when are you due? ZOE: Not soon enough. Two months give or take. Doc here and his nurse think I may go a little early. INARA: You have a nurse now? KAYLEE: Shanty again. INARA: Cooking, music, medicine. What else does she do on board, and where does she find the time? JAYNE: Keeps the captain’s bunk warm. KAYLEE: Jayne! JAYNE: Well, it ain’t in her official duties. More like fringe benefits, or should I say trim benefits? INARA: Can you get more crass? Never mind, the answer is yes. Really, with Mal? Simon: Really. With Mal. INARA: Hope it puts him in a better mood. I’d better go introduce myself to this prodigy of womanhood, then get settled in. It would be rude to delay tea. (She exits up, Jayne follows with trunk) JAYNE: So ‘Nara, since you’re not crew this time.. INARA: No. KAYLEE: She almost stopped smilin’. ZOE: This should be interesting. KAYLEE: Should I have told her right off? ZOE: What, and ruin the surprise? SIMON: Come on Kaylee, let’s go find something to do in the engine room. KAYLEE: Bags first, hide later.

Scene 2 (Hall. Looking into dining area. Mal behind Jazmine, with his arms wrapped around her, rubbing her belly. Inara almost walks in on them but waits outside observing the exchange)

MAL: So how’s my Lotus Flower feeling? JAZ: Can’t complain. Leg’s not so sore today. It’d be better by now if there were more meds Simon could use. Just have to be patient and learn to sit more. The bump and I are fine. Am I whining? MAL: Probably. Starting to get noticeable there. How long ‘till you start wrestling Jayne for rolls? I’m in charge of the pool is all. JAZ: I graze while I cook. Cuts down on the bloodshed. MAL: Considerate of you. Inara’s on board. Should be coming this way soon. She said tea sounded lovely. JAZ: Special almond cookie recipe. Tea itself’s probably not what she’s used to, but it’s the best we’ve got. Still, so long as it sounds lovely.. MAL: It’ll be fine. She’s nothing if not unflappably courteous. Excepting with me. JAZ: You are an exception to most rules, Bamboo. (Turns in his arms, they kiss) INARA: (enters) I’m sorry, am I disturbing you? I can come back later. MAL: (helps Jaz to chair) Not a bit. I was about to come fetch you. Where are my manners? Inara Serra may I present Jazmine Li. INARA: Miss Li, so nice to meet you. (extends hand) JAZ: (takes hand) Widow, properly. (Inara stares as the tumblers click into place) I’ve heard so much about you Ms. Serra. Please, call me Jazmine. INARA: Inara. The crew seems quite thrilled to have a full time cook on board. Did you say The Widow Li? JAZ: Yes. Is something wrong? INARA: Not at all. I think we have a mutual acquaintance. Petra Danna? JAZ: Petra? Have you spoken with her lately? INARA: She sends her regards. JAZ: We’ll have to gossip later. (looks at Mal briefly) INARA: That would be fine. JAZ: I’ll get the tea set up. (slowly rises, winces) MAL: Let me help you. (Jaz nods) INARA: Are you injured? JAZ: I got shot a couple of weeks ago. Lucky a crate slowed it down a little. I’ll be fine. Simon’s taking good care of me. INARA: Captain, does everyone you know end up riddled with bullets? MAL: Not River so far. (thinks) You either. We’ll have to work on that. INARA: Here, let me help with the tea. JAZ: Ah the herd of elephants arrives. (Simon, Kaylee, Zoe enter and sit. Jayne heads straight for cookie platter) Jayne (smacking hand) would you be a dear and bring these in to River? (hands him a plate) JAYNE: Yes m’am. (sniffs plate as he exits) INARA: Yes m’am? KAYLEE: Never upset the cookie fairy. INARA: Ah. SIMON: Besides, this way everybody gets at least one before he gets back. INARA: Jazmine, would you like me to pour? JAZ: That would be lovely Inara, thank you. ( Jazmine sits with a sigh) Inara starts pouring, Jayne comes back and sits. JAYNE: River says don’t wait on her. RIVER: (entering with empty plate) Did not. Hello Inara, you look well. (kisses in passing) You, Jayne, owe me a cookie. JAYNE: Tattle tale. (hands her one of his).

Scene 3 (Common room. Jayne with guitar, River on fiddle and whatever isn’t being played otherwise. Kaylee and Simon with kazoos, everyone has something or is clapping along.)

INARA: (as music ends, clapping) Well, I’m just sorry I left my dulcimer at home. ZOE: Give us a song, Shanty. JAZ: Hmm. Ah! Got it. I haven’t sung this one for our young lovebirds yet. This one’s older than old. A love song from the mists of time. (a capella: She Moved Through The Fair)

His true love said to him, my mother won’t mind And my father won’t fight you for your lack of kine Then she drew away from him and she did say It will not be long now Till our wedding day

Then she drew away from him and she moved through the fair And so proudly he wached her move here and move there As she made her way home with one star awake Like a swan in the evening Moving over the lake

Then one night she came to him and softly she crept in And so softly she moved that her feet made no din The she laid her hand on him and she did say It will not be long now Till our wedding day

JAYNE: I like the part where she lays her hand on him. INARA: That would be the only part you remember. RIVER: (jumps up, to Inara) Beledi? INARA: Delighted. Do we have music? JAZ: ..Please...(pulls out hand drum, starts a beat, others pick up clapping as dancing begins. River and Inara playing off one another). SIMON: This has all the signs of a late night. ZOE: Good. (Gets up and joins the dance). ** ( Later, most nodding off. River doing fan dance to Jazmine playing the Flower Drum Song)

Scene 4 (Outside Inara’s shuttle, not terribly much later)

RIVER: (Still dancing with fans) Good night ladies. JAZ: Goodnight, Sweetling (shoos her off to bed) INARA: Off she goes. I don’t think I’ll ever see anyone that graceful again. She’s wasted out here. JAZ: Beauty in unexpected places is never wasted. Besides, Serenity’s where she’s happy. Are you still awake enough for gossip? INARA: Dahng rahn. Please, come in. (they enter shuttle and sit). What shall we discuss first, business or pleasure? JAZ: Business, in case we don’t get another chance. Then pleasure if we’re still able. What did Petra have to say? INARA: That she was sorry she couldn’t make it herself, but she is maintaining dynamic equilibrium at the moment. She hopes you understand. JAZ: Of course. So conditions are still tenuous but stable? INARA: For the moment. Petra recommends stepping up the schedule if you can. Parliament may have to give in and hold elections within the year. JAZ: That doesn’t give you much time to get suitable candidates in place. I trust there’s a pool to choose from ready? INARA: A few. More being groomed as we speak. I’m not sure it will be enough, even if all the tiles are cast in our favor. JAZ: And our favorite conglomerate? INARA: Stocks are soaring, and so is their hubris. JAZ: Not so good for us. I think it’s time to sell some stock and see if we can’t start some unfounded rumors. Not a full fledged panic, just a small run. INARA: I’ll pass the suggestion along. It may delay the inevitable a while. JAZ: Any advice? INARA: Move quickly. Quietly if possible. Stealth is less important now. It may not be long. How is it with you? JAZ: Popular sentiment is still on our side. People are unhappy and want a change. They can’t agree on exactly what change, but that’s been a constant since ancient times. Transport can be ramped up significantly. Yanosh’s people are with us and can make several runs. Mal and Simon actually gave me a good idea for getting med supplies stashed quickly and in large quantities. Jahnna’s got seed, feed and stock under control. Feng Lei is working on a small stash of defensive equipment for each site just in case. Settlers are coming out in droves, so we blend into the background. A few more bedrolls slipped in here and there aren’t noticed. INARA: It sounds as if things are under control. JAZ: For the moment. I may have to drop out of sight for a while. We’re going to be a little busy here. Life goes on. I’ll try to get things in motion before you leave so you’ll have more detail for Petra. Thank you for bridging the gap for her. INARA: How could I not? Besides, Kaylee was so hopeful, I just couldn’t stay at the training house. JAZ: Speaking of the business of pleasure, I’d like to engage your services if you’re willing. INARA: (raising eyebrow) Really? JAZ: Not for myself. More of a couple’s counseling arrangement. INARA: For which couple? JAZ: Malcolm and yourself. INARA: Shen Me? We are most certainly not a couple. JAZ: That’s the problem, you never were. I was hoping I could give the two of you a night to work out the what ifs. INARA: How long had you been hoping this? JAZ: Since he called me by your name. INARA: While you were having sex? JAZ: No, after. While we were fighting. INARA: Ah. That makes more sense, yes. JAZ: It is not what we are not allowed that we desire most, but what we do not allow ourselves. Give him a toss, enjoy yourselves. Decide if it would have been worth leaving the guild over. Show him what he missed. I suggest starting with a foot bath. He seems to like them. INARA: And if we decide that it would have been worth it? JAZ: I’m not afraid of losing him, and I’m not afraid to share. The air on Serenity needs clearing. We, all three, deserve that. If you can take him from me you can keep him. With my blessings if you make each other happy. An amicable resolution would be preferable from my viewpoint. INARA: You won’t be jealous? JAZ: Of course I’ll be jealous, don’t be foolish! I love that man and I’m not willing to give him up without a fight. But I can’t fight a ghost and I can’t fight him. INARA: You’re very direct when you want something, aren’t you? JAZ: Life’s too short for games. I do not play when it matters most, and I do not bluff. I’m sure you ran a profile on me before this meeting. Are you willing to accept my proposal? It neatly circumvents the Guild’s dating rules, as this is a business proposition. No one needs be the wiser. INARA: Malcolm has agreed to this? JAZ: I wanted to make certain you were willing before I broached the topic with him. I think he might be or I wouldn’t have bothered. One night of sex and open communication. INARA: I really don’t thing Mal and I have anything left to say on the topic. JAZ: Fei hua! How about: I care about you deeply and I’m sorry I’ve hurt you? That’s always a good start. How about: Here’s what I really wanted to say the last time we parted? How about I deeply regret neither of us is willing to change drastically enough to fit into each other’s world, and that if one did it would probably change that person beyond recognition, thereby losing what we were trying to find with each other. You could start there. INARA: Does the crew talk incessantly about nothing else? JAZ: It’s more what they don’t say really, especially Malcolm. Think carefully before you decide Inara. I don’t think I can bring myself to make this offer again. I won’t pretend it does not touch my pride, or that it doesn’t hurt. INARA: (Pauses a moment) The Guild would probably frown on this if they knew all the details. JAZ: Screw the Guild. INARA: That’s exactly what I was about to say. I accept your offer. My standard fee is JAZ: (cuts her off) I don’t care. Just bill my account, here’s the number. It’s money well spent if it does anyone any good at all. (Pats Inara’s hand) Enjoy yourselves. INARA: Aren’t you going to ask Malcolm what he thinks? JAZ: Do let’s, since he’s been standing outside listening the whole time. MAL: (sheepishly peeks in open doorway) You knew I was there? INARA: Yes. MAL: You still said all that? JAZ: Saved time repeating it all to you later. MAL: You certain this is what you’re wanting Jazmine? JAZ: Want? No. But it’s needful. (gets up and crosses to him) You keep telling me you’re over something that never was. (touches his face) Malcolm, be truthful, with yourself, with her, with me. Get it out of your system or change your minds. What happens, happens. Take your time. (Kisses him) You know where to find me. I’m not going anywhere, Bamboo. (leaves, shuts door). (uncomfortable pause) MAL: Well, here we are. INARA: That’s a brave woman. MAL: That she is. Full of surprises, too. INARA: I certainly wasn’t expecting this. MAL: Don’t think anybody saw this coming. Tends to think quickly and then act on a thing before you know what’s hit you. INARA: I can see that. She’s usually right? MAL: (nods) Cooks, too. INARA: I’d noticed. MAL: Sooo. How does this usually go? INARA: Not like this. She suggested foot washing. I usually start with tea. What do you feel most comfortable with? MAL: Jumping out the airlock without a suit? INARA: Shall I join you? MAL: She’d just get mad. Bad temper on that one. INARA: I’d imagine so. I’ll get the Sake. We can talk, get drunk, talk, and have sex. After that if there’s anything left to say we can talk some more. Sound like a plan? MAL: Better than anything I’ve come up with. INARA: I’ll get the bottle. Don’t go anywhere (crosses to trunk) MAL: (quietly) This is gonna hurt something fierce.

Scene 5 (Dining area. Zoe in robe and slippers, hair down. Rummaging through cabinets)

JAZ: (Enters, tears in her eyes. Sees Zoe, dashes them away. Pulls herself together, sort of) Third container on the right. Leftover dim sum. ZOE: (starts) How did you know? JAZ: After midnight it was always cold pizza or dim sum with me. Cheese danish mid day. ZOE: (turns to face her, looks closer) Have you done something foolish? JAZ: Probably. But it needed doing. I hired Inara for the night. ZOE: You? JAZ: Them. ZOE: Oh. I can see where that might keep a body awake. You want company? JAZ: Only as long as you can keep your eyes open. I’m just avoiding that end of the ship right now. Thought I’d try some tea. ZOE: So what brought this on? JAZ: I refuse to compete with a might have been. I can’t and I won’t. I’ll share him if I have to. ZOE: You’ve got it bad. JAZ: Wasn’t looking for it. ZOE: Has a way of doing that. Did I ever tell you I didn’t like Hoban when we first met? JAZ: Go on! ZOE: Nope. Wanted no part of him. Now look at me. Takes you like that. JAZ: Doesn’t it though? I was just looking for a ride, maybe getting pregnant and quietly slipping away to start a new life. Then I fell in love. With this ship, this crew, and most of all that infuriating, amazing man. ZOE: You really think this will help? JAZ: Worth a try. Get it out of their system or show them what idiot’s they’re being. She’s a hell of a woman from what I can tell. ZOE: She’s not the only one. You’re the first person I’ve seen him happy with Shanty. I’ve been with him a while too. Got a good heart, but his head gets in the way. JAZ: You mean he actually uses that thing? ZOE: Occasionally. Usually at the wrong time. JAZ: I’ve noticed that tendency. I have the same problem, to be fair to him. Take tonight for example. ZOE: You really staying out here all night? JAZ: No, just going to finish my tea, then head back to my cabin. Maybe not my cabin. Somewhere. He’ll be out for food eventually. I don’t want to run into them right now. ZOE: Tomorrow going to be any better? JAZ: Well, I’ll have had a good cry by then. Won’t be the first, won’t be the last. Speaking of Wash, how are you holding up? ZOE: ‘Bout the same as you. I’m too busy to really get into a funk, and soon I’ll be even busier. Still hurts, still cry. JAZ: Well, thank you for putting up with my mopey, whiny carcass a while. ZOE: Did it help? JAZ: A little. (stands up) Enjoy the feast. Goodnight Zoe. ZOE: ‘Night Jaz. Get some rest for the baby’s sake. (Jaz nods and limps off) Ship. Of. Fools. I know you’re laughing, Baby. Oh to be a fly on the wall tonight. (Cut to River listening at shuttle, hidden.)

Scene 6 (Common area, Jazmine under low lighting. Pulls out strum stick and begins to play/sing “Blackest Crow”. Images under music. The time draws near, my dearest dear When you and I must part. How little you know of the grief and woe In my poor aching heart. It’s what I suffer for your sake You’re the one I love so dear. I wish that I was going away Or you were staying here.

I wish my heart was made of glass Wherein you might behold That there is wrote your name my love In letters made of gold. In letters made of gold my love Believe me when I say You are the only one for me Until my dying day

The blackest crow that ever flew Will surely change to white If ever I prove false to you Bright day will turn to night. bright day will turn to night my love The elements will mourn If ever I prove false to you The seas will rage and burn.

Images under music: Zoe holding dinosaur, crying herself to sleep, but smiling too. Simon and Kaylee curled up in her bunk. Jayne sleeping soundly. River in pilot’s seat, curled up and looking out at stars. Mal and Inara laughing, drunk. Talking seriously. Jazmine holding head in hands, rocking. Mal and Inara kissing. Jazmine crying, blowing nose. River feeling it with them. Mal and Inara post coitus, looking thoughtful, talking. Jazmine curled up on couch, sleeping. Mal, in pants, in kitchen. Banging head on cabinetry. River gently banging her head on chair. Shakes it off. Mal going back to shuttle, Inara sleeping. He watches her, then turns to leave. Turns off light. Mal in tub. Sinks under water. Stays there. Bubbles. Comes back up. Gets out and towels off. Mal wandering toward cabins in a towel. Spots Jazmine on couch. Watches a moment. Covers her with a blanket. Turns off light. Mal climbing down into his bunk. Drops towel, crawls into bed. Turns off light. River sighs with relief, curls up in chair to sleep.

Scene 7 (Kitchen, nominal morning. Jazmine is cooking with her back to the table.)

RIVER: (staggering through, yawning) Analgesics? JAZ: Table. RIVER: (keeps walking) Good. INARA: ( pads in) Analgesics? JAZ: (not turning around) Table. Mal still sleeping? INARA: I really couldn’t say. He was gone when I woke up. JAZ: Tea or coffee? INARA: What ever’s made is fine. JAZ: Both ready. INARA: Tea then. Are you all right? JAZ: Didn’t get much sleep. (Puts teapot on table) ZOE: (enters) Oatmeal? (peeks in pan) ooh. Raisins and almonds. Cinnamon too? JAZ: Of course. (gets bowl from cooler, puts it and coffee on table) Peaches, canned. Best we could do this morning. INARA: Smells delicious. ZOE: Always is.(Jazmine puts pan on table) JAZ: Zoe, I’m feeling a bit off this morning. Gonna go lie down a while. Don’t let Jayne eat it all before everyone’s had a chance. ZOE: Got you covered. JAZ: Thanks. Inara? (touches her shoulder) Thank you. (leaves) ZOE: Must be off, she forgot the fixings. INARA: I’ll get them. ZOE: She reorganized. Her kitchen now. INARA: Oh. Do you know where she keeps them? ZOE: I’ll get it. (gets up and does so) MAL: (sleepwalks in) Coffee? ZOE: Table. (Inara pours a cup) MAL: ‘Killers? INARA: Table. (Zoe puts down addenda) MAL: (shakes out a few pills, takes proffered cup) Thanks. (Downs pills, winces at coffee’s heat. Looks around, slightly more alert) Zoe, you didn’t cook did you? ZOE: Not likely, Sir. MAL: Didn’t figure. Where’s Jazmine? ZOE: Shanty said she was feeling poorly, went back to bed a while. Asked me to make sure you got a chance to eat. INARA: I thought she said.. ZOE: She said everybody, meant him. Usually last one to the table. INARA: Ah. MAL: I’ll take her a bowl later, she how she’s faring. ZOE: Good idea. Give her a while. (Simon and Kaylee enter, holding hands). KAYLEE: Morning! Ooh, oatmeal! (sits) SIMON: (Looking at them) Late night?

Scene 8 (Hall outside Jazmine’s cabin. Mal knocks at door) JAZ: She died, go away. MAL: Would her corpse like breakfast? JAZ: Maybe. MAL: (enters room, closes door. Sits on bed still holding tray) Zoe said you were a mite off. JAZ: Didn’t sleep well. (takes tray) Thanks. MAL: Good coffee this morning. JAZ: Thanks. So how’d it go? MAL: Well, the sex was pretty good. Got a little weird for a while... JAZ: Malcolm, a spoon can be a deadly weapon in the right hands. MAL: We talked. At length. JAZ: And? MAL: Still not worth leaving the Guild over. I’m not leaving my ship. But we made our peace. Wasn’t easy. (puts his hand on her leg, she looks at him) It was a kindness. It’s over. JAZ: Feel better? MAL: Like a weight’s gone really. Peaceable like. You? JAZ: Tired. Glad it’s over. What happens now? MAL: (puts arm around her)Firstly, you’re going to eat something, little mamma. Then I’m going to spank you. JAZ: For? MAL: Being right again. JAZ: Have to catch me first. MAL: (Pulls her closer) That’s why I’m not letting go.


Sunday, September 24, 2006 7:51 AM


Very, very interesting premise ... I honestly did not think Mal and Inara would sleep together, but I guess it is good that they know now for sure.

I'm starting to really like Jaz. I came into this story near the middle, but it's pretty neat ... keep writing!

Sunday, September 24, 2006 8:04 AM


Oh...this was completely and utterly brilliant, stinkingrose! I totally loved how you had Jazmine hire Inara on Mal's behalf to get things worked out between the three of them. It's crazy, it's odd...but it makes sense and it upholds the Whedon standard for surprising but wonderful character actions:D

Gotta say though...while I am glad you had Mal and Inara finally be together and then decide their future...I kinda hoped a bit more triangular fun was in the works. Nothing completely angsty...but I would think both women would move to their "A" game to snag Mal;)


Sunday, September 24, 2006 8:08 AM


Inara's not gone yet. She may not stay on the ship, but she's likely to pop up now and again.

Sunday, September 24, 2006 12:17 PM


Wow, is Jaz a strong person and wise beyond her years. No way would I be able to share the love of my life with another, even just to clear ghosts of maybehaps might have been out of the gorram closet. I am hoping that Inara will now just leave them to be happy together and let that be enough without any future meddling. I really think Jasmine is an awesome creation, love her to bits and I love how she brings all the crew together in harmony - even Jayne! She is oil on troubled waters and the perfect partner for Mal because she really loves him and cares about him and he needs that to fill the empty that would otherwise destroy him. Wonderful piece of writing, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, September 29, 2006 5:57 AM


Absolutely brilliant! I wouldn't be surprised if you were Joss Whedon or one of his main helpers that worked on Firefly in disguise!


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The landscape's changing. Serenity's moving on. They'll all be fine.

Garden, With Cakes
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Lonesome Albatross
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