Finding Precision
Sunday, October 22, 2006

"That was the night she told them she was leaving." Post-OiS. Simon/Inara.


Title: Finding Precision Disclaimer: All things shiny and Firefly-like belong to that Joss Whedon man-person. Pairing: Simon/Inara, (Mal/Inara, Simon/Kaylee) Summary: Simon and Inara share a moment (or several), and Simon has an emo diary (okay—that we already knew). Spoilers: Post-Object in Space Rating: PG Words: 1, 830


Simon kept a stack of journals in the infirmary. If asked, he claimed they were for medical purposes. And they were, in a way. His notes were a meticulous and detailed account of River’s progress since he’d rescued her from that tyen-sah Alliance facility.

If anything, Early’s appearance helped River. She’s found some sort of mental balance not present before…. Oddly, she’s also formed a bond with the Captain. Of what kind, I am not certain. Time can only bring those answers.

Sometimes I cannot say if the drugs do anything to help. I worry that it’s something inside River that makes her this way, something I can never hope to reach. But she’s been laughing more lately. I want… I need her to be happy.

He set his pen down because his leg was shaking. More of a twitch than a tremor, but he found it sufficiently distracting. He closed his eyes, his fingers unconsciously massaging his forehead.

Early had left Kaylee with the deepest scars. Simon knew he would have died that night if it meant protecting Kaylee’s honor. But he found he was no good at comforting Kaylee in the aftermath. It was all awkward silences and pauses with Kaylee looking like she expected his tongue to curl up on itself. So she avoided him and he avoided her, and if it meant putting off the inevitable unpleasantness, he would go right on making things worse.

I wonder… the ease in which Early found his way on here… can we ever be safe? Will we spend the rest of our lives running? There will be more like Early, there will always be more.

He sensed someone entering the infirmary and stopped his writing. His pen left behind a blot of ink on the corner of the paper. He could tell it was Inara from the rustling of skirts and the slightly stale air of incense.

“I’m interrupting,” she said, spotting his journal.

“Not at all,” Simon said, setting down his notes. “What’s—is everything alright?”

Inara gave a half-grimace and gestured to the corner of her lip. “It’s a present from Early. I thought it would heal, but…”

“Good god,” Simon said, noticing the swelling at the corner of her mouth for the first time. He was moving forward in an instant, dragging her into better light and sitting her down on the corner of one of the beds. “Tilt your chin up.”

Inara did, and the light clearly displayed the ugly mark Early had left on her lip.

“It’s infected,” Simon said, sighing. “Why didn’t you come to me earlier?”

Inara glanced away and touched a few fingers to her lip. “I hoped it was nothing. And you were injured. I was just relieved he was… taken care of.”

Even with her protruding lip, Inara still looked extraordinarily lovely. It should have been impossible, out here. After all, she had no clients to impress, no society to appear in. And yet, Inara held herself to certain standards. Simon found it oddly comforting.

The tingle in his leg completely forgotten, Simon hurried to fetch anti-biotic, somehow convinced Inara could read his thoughts.

“This might sting.”

Inara didn’t make a sound as he applied the gel. Her eyes slid downwards, watching his finger against her lip.

Simon cleared his throat. “I’m surprised the Captain didn’t send you down here earlier.” Inara stiffened, and Simon continued, “He’s usually so protective. Of his crew, I mean.”

Inara looked away. “I’m not part of Mal’s crew.” She paused. “And I’m afraid we haven’t been seeing much of each other lately.”

Simon made the appropriate noise of acknowledgment. Things had seemed tenser than normal between the two of them. But he was certain their coldness would pass with time—it always did. Besides, it wasn’t his business.

He finished with her lip and took a step back. “That should take care of the pain and allow your body a chance to heal, but I want you to come back tomorrow.”

Inara nodded absently and slid off the hospital bed. She wandered to the counter and picked up the notebook he’d been scribbling in. “Is this yours?”

Simon nodded, uncomfortable with her curiosity. He had left the book out in the open, and there were no deep secrets. Still…

“You have beautiful handwriting. So… precise.” Inara smiled and shut it. “You’re a well-organized and kind man, Simon. Mal doesn’t pay you enough.”

“He doesn’t pay me at all.”

They shared a gentle smile.

“River’s making progress,” she said. “You know that, don’t you?”

“Sometimes,” Simon said. “Other times I just want her to be… like she used to be.”

Inara gaze was understanding. “She’s lucky to have you.” She paused. “This ship, I think it’s become a home to her.”

“Yes,” Simon said, tugging at the corner of his ear. “She does seem… comfortable. She and Kaylee have grown very close.”

“You don’t feel the same,” Inara said. Off his look, she added, “I’m trained to read people.”

“I’m not unhappy,” Simon said honestly. “In fact, sometimes I feel… lucky.”


“River’s alive,” Simon said. “I… did it. I managed to bring her out of that place. I can’t even begin to imagine what my life would be like if I had failed.”

Inara set down Simon journal and took one of his hands in hers. “I think you’ll surprise yourself one day, Simon. This ship… there’s enough love for you too.”

Her smile kind, she released him.


That was the night she told them she was leaving.

As soon as she cleared her throat, Mal was gone, leaving his dinner half-eaten. They heard the hatch to his bunk slam shut before Inara managed to gather herself and continue.

Simon felt removed from the reactions of the others—Kaylee’s loud protests, Wash’s indignation, Book calmly asking if it was the right choice.

Later, he wasn’t sure what made him go to her shuttle. The loss of a friendly face? The fact that she could choose to leave when he could not?

“Simon,” she said, opening the door. For a moment, he sensed her disappointment, but then it was gone and replaced with a smile. She’d been crying, he noticed—her eyes were puffy. “Please, come in.”

He did, only to stand awkwardly in the doorway.

“I—um, I don’t really know what to say.”

Inara nodded. “Tea?”

“Yes, thank you.” He tugged at his collar, it suddenly felt stiff and confined. “When are you planning…?”

“Soon,” Inara said, her hand jumping slightly as she set the teapot. “I can’t bear to draw it out.” She sat back once the tea was set and released a breath. “It will be… hard. To leave.”

“Then why are—” He stopped at the look on her face. “Mal.”

She inclined her head slightly, but didn’t give him any other answer. Instead, she busied her hands by setting out two cups.

Simon had no words of comfort to offer her. What good had he been to Kaylee? He seemed to ruin her a little more every time he tried. He couldn’t even begin to imagine how to help Inara deal with the Captain.

He gratefully accepted the tea she offered and burned his tongue. Wincing, he said, “Losing the only other civilized person on this boat… well, it will be hard.”

The sadness came back into Inara’s eyes. “Civilized,” she said. “If you can still call it that.”

Simon took another sip of tea. His eyes darted around Inara’s shuttle, taking in its deep reds, the incense in the corner, every item intent on serving her work. She had yet to start packing, and he let himself admire the various statues decorating the walls and table. Some of them were very old, very precious items.

The tea made his stomach feel uncomfortably warm and he shifted, searching for something else to say. “So… do you—I mean, do you know where you’ll go?”

“There’s a training house, not too far from here,” Inara said. “They’re looking for someone… with experience, who’s been with the Guild for many years. Payment is fair.”

“You’re not going back to Sihnon?” he said, genuinely startled.

“No,” Inara said. “I can’t—that’s not an option.”

She was so composed. If he wasn’t a doctor, he wouldn’t notice her fidgeting, or the way her voice rose slightly at the mention of Sihnon. This was a woman good at keeping her secrets.

He wondered if anyone had ever known Inara. Mal certainly tried, and perhaps his loud voice and insults got him farther than Simon could ever hope to.

“I wish I had something to give you,” Simon said. “Some… token. But I don’t—I mean, River and I came here empty-handed.”

“Oh, Simon, I don’t need…” Inara sighed. “I already have so many gifts, so many things given to me by clients I’ll never use. I do hope you’ll write to me.”

“Of course.”

Simon set his teacup down, sensing Inara’s desire to be alone. So she could… what? Allow herself to cry again? To deliberate on everything she was about to give up?

He stood up, somehow sensing his formal stiffness. The polite way they talked to each other, the easy camaraderie, it seemed like a lie, a way of recognizing the real issues and stepping around them.


She raised her face, her eyes larger than he could ever remember seeing them. There was an almost childlike fear on her face. “Yes?”

“I just—I—”

He wasn’t sure what made him lean down and kiss her. Maybe because he was so intimately familiar with the fear that comes from uncertainty, of the unknown. The selfish part of him sensed this was his only chance, his last chance.

And surprisingly, she kissed him back, gently at first, and then with an increasing desperation that had him cupping one of her cheeks, pushing his tongue into her mouth. She had her eyes closed, and he couldn’t say that she was even thinking of him in that moment. But there was a certain intimacy in their kiss. They might have simply been two lonely people, but it brought him a moment’s peace.

When she finally pulled away, she didn’t seem horrified or regretful. Instead, she took one of his hands in hers, and gently led him to the door.

“Inara—” he let his fingers touch her cheek one more time, and her skin was smoother than anything he’d ever touched before. “I’m… I wanted to…”

“It’s fine,” she said, and her tone made it fine. She didn’t step closer, but she didn’t pull away either. Simon knew she’d left that to him.

He finally withdrew his hand and took that step outside the shuttle doors. He almost said “good-bye” before thinking better of it. That wasn’t what their meeting had been about.

He gave what he hoped passed for a gentlemanly bow, and then turned away, managing not to look back.



Sunday, October 22, 2006 5:57 AM


Very nice missing scene--or two! You've got a good handle on both Simon and Inara's characters. I could really see this happening.

Well done!

Sunday, October 22, 2006 6:23 AM


That little story was lovely and I agree with previous post - you really handled the characters well.

Sunday, October 22, 2006 6:23 AM


That little story was lovely and I agree with previous post - you really handled the characters well.

Sunday, October 22, 2006 8:21 AM


Nicely done. Heartbreaking, the way Simon feels helpless to comfort Kaylee, and, later, Inara, though he really wants to. Nice character studies. I would've been interested to see where Simon and Inara's relationship went if the series had continued (sigh...).

Sunday, October 22, 2006 8:31 AM


Interesting take on these two characters - I don't know if I buy Simon kissing Inara or her kissing him back, but I loved your insight into Simon at the beginning and his frustration at being unable to help Kaylee. Very cool!

Sunday, October 22, 2006 8:39 AM


This was a lovely piece. I think that Simon and Inara found a certain comfort in one another that the others couldn't possibly share on Serenity. Their relationship had an ease to it and I do believe that they had a bond with one another, something you can pick up in the opening scene of Bushwhacked. What I found very sweet in this story was how the kiss had nothing to do with romance but was more of a physical act of good bye-
>They might have simply been two lonely people, but it brought him a moment’s peace.<
Great Job, Love your work!

Monday, October 23, 2006 5:12 PM


Well now...this certainly strikes an interesting note. As it's been noted, Simon and Inara have quite the bond because of similar ages and cultural they are outsiders looking in towards a microcosm of emotional freedom that's intimidating.

They definitely have that "je ne sais quoi" kind of connection between one another...though I doubt if the meshing would have been complete. Mal and Kaylee are factors having Newtonian effects on Inara and Simon, forcing alterations of who they "are." Those effects were generally positive, though occasional rough and uncontrolled;)


Tuesday, October 24, 2006 11:22 AM


What a lovely fic, and an excellent character study.
It makes you see how Simon is bound hand and feet by his life, he has nothing to give, nowhere to go, no choice in anything, no control over his life. And I see how he can envy Inara her freedom of choice.
Those phrases put it so precisely:
“He doesn’t pay me at all.”
"Me and River came here empty-handed".
"The fact that she could choose to leave when he could not?"

And I see how Inara leaving would break not only Mal's heart. It would be very hard on Simon and Kaylee as well, as she was their respective best friend. Plus for Simon it would also mean losing the last glimpse of civilization...

But Simon is also pitying Inara, for being alone, and uncertain, and having to keep secrets she can't share with anyone. That's something he can really emphasise with: the years when he had to go through the same, trying to get to River, were the worst in his life, no doubt. So this one really hits home:
"he was so intimately familiar with the fear that comes from uncertainty, of the unknown"

And I so love this:
"He wondered if anyone had ever known Inara. Mal certainly tried, and perhaps his loud voice and insults got him farther than Simon could ever hope to."
And the bit about "child-like fear" - that's Inara when she's breached down to her heart, I can just see her.


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