Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Zoe comes to Inara for advice about her marriage to Wash.


CHARACTERS: Zoe / Inara RATING: PG - it doesn't quite get kinky SPOILERS: Not really any DISCLAIMER: I'm really the only villain here, making Joss' characters do terrible things with hairbrushes FEEDBACK: *nods* Please NOTES: Requested by astarte99, part of the Fireflyfic Challenge The specific request was: they see the outsiders as villians, but are they really the bad guys? This isn't quite right, but I like it anyway. Sorry this took so long, astarte - it was totally kicking my butt trying to get the voices right. THANKS: to FuzzyBen for being such a great audience!

Inara spent a lot of time alone in her shuttle, maintaining herself and letting her thoughts wander. While her beauty was entirely natural, it would be easy to slip - to brush just a little less; not moisturise as often. Instead, she took the opportunity to care for herself in ways she could not care for the others. While she and Kaylee were close, she knew that her position and her job estranged her from so many on the crew. So she soaped herself and thought of another’s body. Slid satin over her skin and imagined the hair of another slipping through her fingers. Lay in her bed late at night, pleasuring herself in all the ways she'd been taught, but thinking of the fingers of another. Helping, sharing, touching. Caring.


"Inara. Could I have a word with you?" Zoe, dusky-tall in her brown suede trousers and faded red shirt, stood in the entrance-way of the shuttle. How long had she been there? Inara rose smoothly from in front of her dresser, her just-brushed hair flowing around her.

"Can I help you, Zoe?" Curious. Other than at the occasional meal-time, Zoe rarely had anything to say to her. She and Inara occupied different worlds, and the cross-over was minimal. Sometimes she wondered if Zoe were afraid that being around her would contaminate her somehow. Make her less Amazonian and more Aphrodite. A shame, as they were both strong women.

"It's personal. Can I come in?"

"Certainly." This was unexpected. "Come sit over here, and tell me all about it." Marital problems, perhaps? Or was Mal being a problem? Maybe it was to do with her, and not Zoe at all. Patience. It would be told.

"I know we don't really talk, Inara, but in some ways we have a lot in common, I think. I mean, not obviously ..."


"... but we're both on the outside. Different." She stopped, gathered her thoughts. They were both sitting on the edge of her bed, but the scant half-a-foot between them was as solid as a wall. "I feel like no one understands. Even Wash. I love him, but he's a man. And Mal's no better." She sighed, continued. "Kaylee's still young and optimistic; River's River ... I need to talk to a woman, someone who understands women, and that's you."

Inara smiled, just a little. "Thank you, Zoe. That's a nice compliment. But what is it that no one understands?"

"I'm not sure how well I can explain it. I'm strong. Mal's 'right-hand-man', Wash's Amazon woman, the one who can take it all and keep going. I love who I am and what I can do. But sometimes ... sometimes I want to be pampered. Treated like I'm dainty, controlled a little, given boundaries. Not in my work life, not when it matters ... but when I want it, privately. I want Wash to be like me, just for a little."

Aphrodite indeed! "Have you told Wash this, Zoe? Tried some, how do I phrase it, some roleplaying?"

"That's just it - I don't know how to bring this up. Will it hurt his feelings? Will he think that I'm not happy being who I am, how we are? That's not the case, but I've never been anything other than the one wearing the trousers, and he may not like the change." She was looking as distressed as she ever looked now, brow crinkled and mouth turned down. Unthinking, Inara turned slightly and placed her hand on Zoe's knee.

"It's OK, Zoe. This is something I can help with. I'm glad you came to me."

"You can? Thank you, Inara. I really wasn't sure if you would."

Surprise again. "Why on earth not?"

"I thought ... I thought that you didn't like me, that I was rude and hard. Unfeminine."

Inara laughed, heartily. Couldn't stop once she started, and her chortles were infectious. Without knowing quite why, soon Zoe was laughing too, until the two of them were doubled over with delight. "What's ... what's so .... funny?" she asked between captured breaths.

"I can't believe you thought that!" Inara said. "You're a strong woman, but you're definitely not unfeminine. Just a different type of feminine." Made a decision, acted before she could change her mind. "Would you like me to brush your hair?"

"Oh no, I couldn't ..."

"Zoe. Sit over on the chair. Hands in your lap. I'm going to brush your hair."

Shocked into silence, Zoe complied. Inara picked up the brush and began to slowly untangle Zoe's skein of shiny black, brushing the ends first, and gradually moving to the roots as the tangles subsided. They were both silent, Zoe watching her work in the mirror.

"If you want to be pampered, Zoe, the best person to pamper you is someone who understands. Someone who will know what you want, how to provide it. Someone who knows the right thing for you and is strong enough to ensure you do it. And that someone isn't Wash, isn't Mal, isn't yourself. It's me."

Zoe was silent, but the widening of brown eyes, the open O of her mouth, was all the agreement that Inara needed. Helping, sharing, touching. Caring. No longer would it be a desire unfulfilled. No longer would she be alone on the outside.

It was going to be the start of a beautiful friendship.


Thursday, June 17, 2004 12:07 AM


I wasn't expecting that, gorrammit! Very well written. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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The beginning of <i>Objects in Space</i> looked at from a uniquely River point-of-view.

Weight of the World
Mal is sitting naked on a rock, waiting to be rescued. Time for a little thinking.

Same Time , Same Place
River and Simon are closer than they realise, thoughts entwining as River is smuggled on-board.

Zoe comes to Inara for advice about her marriage to Wash.

Never Kill a Boy on the First Date
Mal and Jayne get a drink after Jayne joins the crew. Fun action bar misadventure, written in script style.

Something Blue
Mal contemplates the difficulties of shipboard romances

Conversations with Dead People
Post-Ariel, Jayne is still sitting in the Outer Cargo Bay, waiting to be let back in.

Dead Things
Set during 'Out of Gas', Jayne and Book talk on the shuttle as they leave Serenity.