Plan A Never Works
Sunday, March 18, 2007

My first Mal/Inara fic. I have found out that good Mal/Inara "conversation" is hard to write. So if you have constructive criticism please let me know. Many thanks to my beta Girlaskew for helping me get over the awkward parts. DISCLAIMER: Joss writes these characters much better than I do Yackety Smackety


Legitimate jobs normally didn't strain the crew of Serenity, but things generally didn't go smoothly for the crew of the cargo ship. The first job since Miranda had gone smoothly, so smoothly that Jayne stomped around the ship in a snit because he didn't get to use any of his newly cleaned guns. Except for Jayne, everyone including Serenity herself, let out a sigh of relief as Beaumond disappeared and the silence of the Black engulfed them.

That evening after dinner Kaylee brought out two jugs of her inter-engine brew. She had found them shortly after the crash, while she was fixing Serenity up again. It was a miracle that they had survived, so she had decided to keep them and bring them out when she thought they were needed and that time was now.

The crew scrounged glasses and mugs and broke the seal on the first jug. Mal was very surprised as he watched Inara drink several glasses of Kaylee’s concoction. Before, Inara would politely sip her jasmine tea and quietly retire to her shuttle before the crew got really rowdy.

After about two hours of laughing and drinking everyone wandered off. Jayne to his bunk to sleep off his mild buzz and Simon and Kaylee slipped away to Simon's passenger dorm.

Finally, Mal and Inara were alone. “I thinkin’ you’re a mite tipsy,” Mal said amused as he watched Inara politely lift a hand to her mouth to hide a hiccup. “I ain’t so clear-headed myself, so I know you ain’t sober.”

Inara attempted to straighten the slump that had overtaken her shoulders. “You’d be surprised how sober I am. I’ve got a surprising tolerance for alcohol. A Companion has to stay clear headed no matter how much she has imbibed.” Inara hiccuped again.

“The high and mighty Inara Serra is drunk with a petty thief.”

“I’m not intoxicated.” She emphasized pointing at Mal with a shaky finger. “I’m just a little out of practice that’s all. I haven’t had more than a glass or two of wine since I was teaching at the Training House and that was fine wine, not space ship engine brewed moonshine.”

“You disparaging Kaylee’s home brew?” Mal asked with mock seriousness. “If you are I may have to toss you out the airlock.”

“Oh, please don’t throw me out of the airlock, Captain please!” Inara said in a teasing voice. She took another big gulp of Kaylee's deadly brew and put her glass down.

Mal’s insides tightened to see the pained look that crossed her face.

“Ain't looking quite yourself, there. Somethin' wrong?”

“Oh, no…” Her voice cracked a little as Inara tried unsuccessfully to put her thoughts together coherently. All she could do was think about how she wished she had a capture with her so she could save the look he was giving her, so she could pull it out when she needed to feel that…whatever that look was. In any event, it wasn’t helping her speak. “I ...I don't know...what ....”

“'What darlin'? Talkta me,’Nara” Mal said, trying hard not to slur his words.

Mal saw a tear slowly start to build in her right eye. It got bigger and bigger until it started to slide down her cheek. He wanted more then anything to raise his hand and wipe it away, but his hand wouldn't move no matter how hard the rest of him told it to.

“I love this ship and I don't want to leave,” Inara said. “I've got to decide what to do’s…it’s you, and it’s, well, its harder than I want it to be.”

She looked at him straight in the eye and then lowered her head as she wiped the tear off of her face.

“You don't have to make your decision until you're good and ready. This isn't the time to make them. You really ain't been drunk before?” Mal asked, moving her hair out of her face. “It’ll be all right. Come here and we'll sit on the couch an' talk. I promise not to do anything unseemly.”

Inara nodded and wobbled a bit as she stood, her knees feeling a bit like jelly. “I'm a little dizzy.”

Mal held out his hand to her and they both made their unsteady way to the couch Kalyee and Simon had vacated from the galley. Mal plopped down on the couch and Inara fell instead of sitting down gracefully. Mal caught her before she hit the floor and held her tightly against his chest.

The scent of the perfume she had put on wafted to his nose and it was almost as intoxicating as the alcohol he had consumed. It was something floral, but he couldn't place the smell exactly.

As he steadied her he ran a calloused hand up and down her bare arm and was surprised by the muscles underneath. He knew she had fought well in the battle with the Operative at the Training House but Mal had never realized that she had had any formal training. Weapons, yes. She had tried to teach him how to sword fight for his duel with Atherton Wing but he didn't know she knew anything about hand to hand fighting. She had moved well in her brief struggle. She was full of surprises in more ways than one.

He had never been permitted to touch her like this before.. He could count on one hand the times that they had actually touched. He was amazed that she hadn't recoiled at his rough hands as they slid over her back.

As he lowered her gently to the sofa Inara moved closer and closer into his arms making gentle, contented sounds. It almost made him moon brained. Mal decided that he had to kiss her now or he would never gain the courage to do it ever again.

He turned his head to her face and gave a gentle kiss to her rose painted lips. Expecting at least a smack for his impetuous action, Mal was surprised when nothing happened. He sat there, more then a little stunned

,'Nara,” he said soflty. “‘Nara, are you all right?” Panic entered his voice a bit.

He stole a look at her face and her eyes were tightly closed. Inara had passed out. “Plan A never works”

Inara moved again and buried herself more cozily into his chest and her rhythmic breathing started to hypnotize Mal. He wrapped her tighter in his arms, and sighed as he closed his eyes.





Sunday, March 18, 2007 3:37 PM


Well, ever'body is postin' good stuff today. I like it.

Sunday, March 18, 2007 4:32 PM


You know...I think it says something when the quality Mal/Inara moments in fanfic seem to come when either one or both of them are under the influence of either alcohol or a mood-altering substance. Mainly that there is too much in the way of walls and masks that have to be taken down or put away before the really honest stuff comes out to play:(

Still...this was some utterly beautiful work, ncbrowncoat! I especially loved how you ended this, since it both emphasizes Mal's core nobility and compassion...and it counterbalances the moment in "Our Mrs. Reynolds" when Inara lays one on Mal while he's out cold from the Goodnight Kiss in relief;D


Sunday, March 18, 2007 4:58 PM


Thanks for the comments folks. You've made me feel real good.

BEB I intentionally made you think of "Our Mrs. Reynolds". It's one of my favorite episodes. Along with Trash, Shindig, Bushwacked, Heart of Gold ....oh well, all of them.

Monday, March 19, 2007 12:47 AM


This was great and I did smile at the end with Inara passing out on Mal before he could kiss her. Loved this and oh my, I wonder how they will react on waking? I'm thinking Inara will be back to trying to keeping Mal (and her feelings for him) at arms' length, such a pity that would be. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, March 19, 2007 3:20 PM


I rarely comment on other people's work, but since we're both New Carolinians an' all . . .

I have to agree with Whelp. Your set-up was a little jerky, and you never provide a pay-off (i.e. just why was this job going smoothly? Missed opportunity for some levity, there.) A stronger sense of occasion around the bottle, perhaps with some witty dialog, would also not have been amiss. Stronger descriptions of setting and character all around would have leant strength to the piece.

That being said, you played the characters well, very authentically. My criticism on that front would be more humor (which I know is hard to do on the fly)and some internal monolog would have been nice. Also, a longer lead-up to the payoff would have helped. Lastly, firmly maintaining POV (ALWAYS hard for me) is essential.

All in all, a good piece. GREAT title (I may steal it -- fair warning). In short, I enjoyed it.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007 1:36 PM


I loved it.

the characters were grrrrreat!

plus I love how you had Inara be a little less like her normal companion self but she didn't completely lose herself. very good.

I agree with STA, it could've used some stronger descriptions but all in all I liked it quite a lot!



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