Shades of Something New
Thursday, November 30, 2006

Little glimpse at Mal and Inara pre-series.


Title: Shades of Something New Disclaimer: Firefly does not belong to me. Summary: Short (and I mean short) look (more like a glimpse) at Mal and Inara pre-series. Word Count: 771 Rating: PG, for very workplace appropriate! A/N: For some reason, I wish there was more pre-series Mal/Inara out there. I envision this taking place about a month after Inara has come onboard, but it could take place at any point pre-Serenity (pilot).


It hasn’t escaped Mal’s notice that he’s the only one who has a problem with Inara. She gets along fine with Zoe and Wash, and is near chummy with Kaylee. Well. It’s nice for his crew. Seem to like being around that sort of finery. Still, he figures, long as she’s staying with them, it can’t hurt to try and be pleasant.

He decides not to dwell on the way he has compulsively-obsessively arranged his day so that he just-so-happens to be walking by her shuttle at the precise moment that she docks back with the ship.

When she steps out, he carefully screws up his expression so as to look surprised. “Back so soon?”

“Mal,” she says, eyeing him wearily. “Hi.”

He sets down the crate he’s carrying, yelping a little in pain, because the thing is really too damn heavy to be taken up the catwalk. “Uh—engine part,” he explains.

She looks baffled. “I see.”

“Putting it here for storage,” he adds.

She nods. “Well—I should…”

She turns to go down the catwalk, which is simply not fair, given the amount of time he’s spent preparing for this moment. Something about Inara and her trade is almost more distracting than any impending threat posed by the Alliance. Leaves him all itchy inside, and makes him say and do stupid things. Like haul engine parts up catwalks. Or rent the shuttle to her in the first place.

He goes after her, blocking her way down the catwalk. “So. How was work?”

Not the best question he could ask. Her eyes narrow, her gaze making him feel about two feet high. “How was yours?”

“Very—uh, legal,” he says. “There was… saved a cat from a tree, and then helped an old lady cross the street. Doris—her name was.”

She almost smiles, but he can tell she’s doing her best to get around him as fast as possible. “That’s… almost chivalrous of you.”

“Just in a day’s work,” he says, quite modestly. “Heading down to the galley?”

“I… yes,” she says. He does not move, so she sighs and finally says, “Care to escort me?”

“Well, I am chivalrous,” he says, surreptitiously kicking the engine part aside. “Don’t really need that, anyhow.”

“Of course,” Inara says, raising her eyebrows a few inches.

She’s gotten closer to him, smelling all good in that way she does. It’s not-quite-but-almost-pleasant until she offers out her arm, and he’s reminded that “escort” means physical contact of some kind. Right. He can do that too. Even if it leads to some stuttering and throat clearing.

“So… how’s… I mean… nice shuttle,” he finally manages. “Like what you’ve done with the place. Very…”

“Red?” Inara suggests. “It does bring to mind a certain mood. Old Companion technique.”

“Right.” Awkward pause. “But there’s… with the… drapes. Didn’t look half so good before you moved in.”

She turns her head slightly to look at him, pleased by the compliment. “Thank you. Small objects like that, tiny relics of the past… it’s soothing.”

“Makes sense,” he says, privately reflecting that the cost of her drapes could keep all of Serenity fueled and fed for a month. “What?” he says, unnerved by the way she’s looking at him.

She shakes her head. “I just… you’re being...”

“What?” he says again, a little more forcefully, and it’s with some relief that they’re finally nearing the kitchen so he can go stomping off to the bridge and pretend like he has no interest in talking with her.

“You’re not usually so….” She trails off, a genuine smile curling at her lips. “Friendly.”

“Got a right to get to know those flying with me,” he says, very quickly, honestly not sure whether to take “friendly” as a compliment or not. At the galley, he disentangles as fast as he can, all but pushing her inside. “Well, here we are.”

She’s amused at some joke he’s failing to grasp. “You might even be in danger of losing some of that hardened exterior,” she says. “It might give people the wrong idea.”

Right. He nails her with a cold stare. “Don’t need to be friendly,” he says. “Long as you keep paying your rent on time.”

The good humor dies in her eyes and she backs up a few feet, putting more distance between them. “Of course,” she says. She clears her throat. “Thank you… for the escort, unnecessary as it was for timely rent.”

She all but dismisses him then, making her way to the stove like he’s a fly on the galley wall. Not a problem. He has more important stuff to worry on, anyway.


Thursday, November 30, 2006 6:53 PM


“Very—uh, legal,” he says. “There was… saved a cat from a tree, and then helped an old lady cross the street. Doris—her name was.”

I think I've commented on this cute little story before, but I just had to tell you how much I love that line. Mal stuttering...sigh ;)

Thursday, November 30, 2006 7:06 PM


I love pre-series Mal/Inara too! Great fic, Goldy. Always a pleasure.

Thursday, November 30, 2006 9:37 PM


Yep...this is pure Ma/Inara gold..and it's brilliant in that Mal's presumably not instigated (though it could have been Inara, unintentionally) the "whore/thief" sparring model yet;)


Thursday, November 30, 2006 9:55 PM


This was funny and I enjoyed but confused that you call it 'pre-series' as it was not until the series started that Inara joined Serenity. I could so see the awkwardness of this conversation given Mal's lame excuse for hanging around as Inara's shuttle docked and then her amusement at his quip about the good deeds. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, December 1, 2006 4:20 AM


brillant as always you write Mal and Inara very well

Friday, December 1, 2006 8:04 AM


This was charming and funny ... a great combo! The cat in the tree and old lady bit were absolutely perfect, as was Inara's dismissal of him after he treats her like crap.

Friday, December 1, 2006 6:48 PM


Thank you, all! *covets comments*

Ali D: I didn't mean for the confusion! Maybe I didn't make myself clear? We know that Inara had already been on the ship about 8 months by the pilot, so I wanted to try and write something just after she'd flown out with Serenity. Discounting the flashback in OoG, it took place before the series started.


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