Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mal and Inara, suspended between things in more than one way. - A little too sad to be fluff, a little too silly to be serious, with a generous dash of crack. Written in November for the most amazing Goldy. Free for all ages.


Mal. Inara. A certain something everyone knows. Post-Serenity. Not really fluffy, not really not. Not really shippy, not really not.

-------------- Pause --------------

"I'm sorry, you're out of time, sweetheart."

The voice was well-chosen, all fluid suggestion of sweet and sticky treats, making the bitter disappointment all the more humiliating.

"I'm sorry, you're out of time, sweetheart. I'm sorry, you're out of time, sweetheart. I'm sorry, you're--"

The whap of a smothering pillow did little to dissuade the handsome talking head on the wave monitor.

"-- out of time, sweetheart."

Inara growled low in her throat. Or rather, she muttered. "Unbelievable, rutting, arrogant piece of space trash..."

The small controller in her hand fought valiantly against crushing death under well-manicured hands.

"Worthless, manipulating waste of time and money," it came forth between clenched teeth.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say you're talkin' 'bout me."


She whirled around with such ferocity that the only response he felt it in himself to give was an equally heart-felt, "Bwah!"

Complete with the jumping of half a foot.

They blinked at each other for a few seconds, he wide-eyed and bewildered, she wide-eyed and just slightly manic.

"It won't let me win," she finally ventured, an attempt at calm poise.

He blinked again. "Right."

Before he could speak again, Inara frowned eloquently. "I'm not talking to you."

It was said with accusation, as if she had been tricked. Under her narrowed eyes, he noticed a certain lack-- well, actually a fairly new overbundance of dark, bruise-colored rings of exhaustion.

"You're not sleeping?"

The frown merely deepened, taking on a certain egde of stubborn confusion.

"I'm perfectly fine, Mal."

Her eye twitched when the voice beehind her droned on about failure to meet time constrictions. He cast a careful glance, just half a second, so as to not miss any sudden move on her part, aimed at injuring any of his parts. There was that glint to her face.

Level 24, the screen informed him below the ridiculously handsome projection of a male face. Game Over.


"So, that's one of those games, right?"

Inara widened her stance in a way that seemed protective and tired all at once. "So what?"

He shrugged, "So nothing?"

"Wrong answer." Her glare suggested as much.

His arms folded themselves in front of him without asking permission. An eyebrow twitched for elaboration.

"I've been playing this game for four days now." Inara's voice held a faint quiver to it. "Four days. After one day of looking for it, which again happened after five days, I repeat for you, five days of cleaning my shuttle. And crocheting."

His mouth opened, but to no fruitful end.


One of her fingers pointed toward the far corner. Something... it was terribly ugly. Whatever it was, it went wrong. And it lay on her unmade bed like a cancerous growth.

Apparently satisfied with his wince of disgust, she took a triumphant if unsteady step closer.

"I've tried being patient, Mal."

"I'm sorry, you're out of time, sweetheart," the voice behind her agreed.

He glared at the screen.

"Why aren't we on Bena yet?"

He glared at the screen some more, and pouted. "As you know, we're trying to stay below radar, here."

"And as you know, if you take any more detours to avoid landing on a decent planet, we'll have starved and saved the Alliance the trouble."

So perhaps she had a point. However, in the light of her having seen two clients in the last three months, making that two clients more than he was willing to carve out of his still beating heart, he chose to dismiss that point as utterly irrelevant to the issue.

"So why can't you win?"

"You tell me." She looked so sad. And sleepy.

"I meant the game."

He pointed vaguely and waited for the utter expressionlessness to fade from her features. Which took a while, since she just continued staring at him and, he suspected, wondered at his powers of evasion.

"You tell me," she eventually repeated, quiet and dull, eyes slowly sinking to the floor.

He felt bad. He felt very bad. Just not bad enough.

He tried a smile. "Wanna show me?"


But she shuffled over to the wave screen, anyway.

He followed without question and sat in front of it. A few screen taps later, brightly glaring letters informed him of the honor of entering Level 1 and the male head winked suggestively.

Inara held out the controller like a steering wheel.

"This button to turn the figures in the air. This one to speed their fall. Just stack them most efficiently."

She flopped down on the couch, and he tapped the screen one last time. The game, it appeared, started and little shapes started raining down what looked like a three-dimensional ventilation system. He could see no sense, but proceeded to stack them.

"That was stupid," she informed him from her spot behind him.

He didn't smile. "Thank you."

"You really need to be faster if you want to win."

He didn't say anything at all.

When she stopped her kindly commentary, he turned off the sound.

He didn't leave, though. Didn't speak. Didn't win.

Just stacked the bits and listened to her breathe.

- - - END.


Thursday, March 15, 2007 6:49 PM


Oh my - I spent many of my undergrad years playing Tetris, when I was supposed to be writing papers. This fic brought it all back I can totally see both Mal and Inara getting addicted to it.

Very fun fic !!!!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2007 7:04 PM


Ya know...I can't imagine Inara getting hooked on Tetris. Dunno why...but it just seems too...simplistic a game for a Guild Companion to find more than slightly amusing. But that's my view and yours is just as shiny;D


Tuesday, March 20, 2007 9:55 AM


Hmm. The tone is so uneven I don't know what to make of it. The twin "Bwah"s were wonderful, as was the bit where he just didn't feel bad <i>enough</i>. They're both very in-character, complete with snarking at each other. It's just the ending is so odd.

Saturday, August 4, 2007 3:58 PM


Something so familiar about this: Tetris, a guy playing it, and a girl napping on a couch. Hmm... Oh, wait! That happened to me last week, LOL! It's nice to see some things won't change over the next 500 years!


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