Bone Deep Chill (Repost)
Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rating: NC17 for sexual situations. Dark Fic. Please do not read if easily offended or underage. Summary: Prequel to “Dark Side of Night”, because EmpireX asked so nicely to know how Mal and Inara got from the BDM to where they are in that story.


Inara watched Mal, as had become her custom since renting his shuttle in the beginning. At first she had watched despite her best attempts to do otherwise, fascinated by the endless mysteries that the man presented.

But now she watched for a different reason, a more disturbing one by far. The entire crew, with the arguable exception of River, had been damaged badly by the events surrounding the Miranda wave, but for the most part, they were slowly healing. However, Inara saw in Mal a fracture that was not likely to heal on its own, a dark, ugly wound festering in his soul, eating at him from the inside out. And so she watched.

Mal sat in the cockpit, staring out into the vastness of the Black. The sight had once brought him comfort, but now it just seemed cold and empty, like his own heart. Numb with the weight of guilt and grief he could not seem to shake, he nursed a mug of whiskey-laced coffee and tried not to think.

Inara put her hand on his shoulder, but he shrugged it away. “Whaddya want, Inara?” he asked gruffly, in no mood for a round of verbal sparring.

Inara took a cleansing breath, and answered mildly. “I want to help you feel better, Mal,” she said softly. “It’s very difficult to see you like this.” She paused, wondering how far she could go with this line of thought before he erupted in fury. “And it’s hard on the crew.”

Mal’s knuckles on the handle of his mug turned white, and the line of his jaw hardened. “How are you plannin’ to help me ‘feel better’, Inara?” he asked, his voice like a lash against her skin. “You offerin’ to service me, maybe? Break your little rule about servicin’ crew?”

Inara swallowed the retort that rose in her throat, knowing he was raw with anger and grief. She had truly had no intent to offer him anything other than her shoulder to lean on, but she was well-trained in the art of reading men, and she could see that he was not able or willing to lean on anyone’s shoulder in the conventional sense just yet. She realized with shocking clarity that she would be willing to do almost anything to relieve some of the tension that had enveloped him. She would have to try a different tack.

“If that’s what you want,” she answered, keeping her voice perfectly neutral.

His head jerked up sharply, surprised by her answer. He’d expected her normal stinging rebuff, not the quietly modulated tone of her voice. The shock of it sent his world spinning slightly off-kilter. Truly looking at her for the first time in weeks, he felt a pressure building behind his eyes, and had the sudden overwhelming desire to break through her cool exterior, to call her bluff and see just how far down this dark road she was willing to go.

“How much?” he asked roughly.

Inara met his dark eyes and named a price well below anything she would have expected of a real client, knowing that this transaction would never take place with Guild approval. He nodded, caught in the game now beyond his ability to back away. “Fine,” he answered shortly, turning back to stare out Serenity’s transparency.

Inara stood quietly, uncertainty making her heart hammer in her chest uncomfortably. “When would you like to…schedule your appointment?” she asked after a long silence.

His voice was cold, and his heart colder yet. “Go back to your shuttle, Inara. Do whatever needs doin’. I’ll be along after awhile.” She nodded mutely and turned to go. “And don’t bother with the whole tea ceremony go se,” he called after her. “Won’t be needin’ nothin’ such as that.”

Inara walked back to her shuttle, his hard words ringing in her ears. Wondering wildly what she had just done, she set about preparing for his arrival with trembling hands. All the times she had allowed herself to envision Mal coming to her, she had never imagined it would be like this, so cold and impersonal, so painfully lacking in beauty and tenderness. But she was determined to do whatever it took to bring him back from the dark place he’d gone, and she was not afraid to at least try.

After a small eternity of waiting, Mal entered the shuttle and stood stiffly by the door, obviously fighting whatever conflicting impulses slowed his progress. Inara arranged her face into a welcoming smile. “Come in, please,” she said, extending one graceful hand in invitation.

When he didn’t move, she said hesitantly, “Are you sure you wouldn’t like some tea?”

“No,” he said flatly, though the words had propelled him forward. “’Spect the price you named ain’t enough for the whole show. Best we just get to the thrustin’.” With that, he walked to her bed and took off his boots and clothes, throwing them impatiently away from him.

Inara stood rooted to the spot, something in her mind having thought that somehow, even though this is what she had offered and he had accepted, there would be a change at the last minute in this twisted game of cat and mouse they were playing. He looked at her steadily. “So?” he said, his voice a little hoarse.

She removed her clothing, praying he did not notice her shaking hands. As she moved toward the bed, she could not contain a shiver. His eyes raked over her appraisingly, and she could see that the shiver made him swallow hard. Cataloguing that for future reference, she climbed onto the bed. She reached out to touch him, but he caught her hands and held them away from his body. “Won’t be needin’ none of them Companiony skills,” he said, his voice a low murmur as he laid her back against the bed, running his hands over her chilled flesh.

“Mal,” she whispered, but he stopped her words with a look.

“Won’t be needin’ the talkin’ neither,” he said, as he positioned her body as he wished.

She nodded, watching him with wide eyes as he began to move inside her, the harsh lines around his eyes slowly softening as her body gave him release. Afterward, he lay on top of her for a moment, his head resting in the valley of her breasts, and she suppressed the urge to run her fingers through his hair. She listened, instead, to the rhythm of his breathing and felt the steady beat of his heart against her belly. And she knew that, though this was not the way she had imagined it would be, it was perhaps the only way she could ease the tension that threatened to consume him, at least for the present. Perhaps later there would be the beauty and grace she knew him capable of, she thought for a fleeting moment as he pulled away from her and silently dressed in the dim light of her shuttle. And when he moved to the door, stopping only to leave the coin on her table, she closed her eyes against the sight and shivered again, pulling the covers up over her cold body. ******************* For the next part of this twisted tale, see "In Pieces", where the situation comes to a breaking point.



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Starting Over (Repost)
Rating: NC17
Summary: Follows “Tomorrow” for those who keep up with that kind of thing. Mal and Inara begin again.

Tomorrow (Repost)
Follows “In Pieces”. Inara has high hopes for tomorrow, but Mal still has some things to work out.

In Pieces (Repost)
Rating: NC17 for sexual situations. Please don’t read if easily offended or underage.
Summary: Follows “Bone Deep Chill” and “Dark Side of Night”. Mal’s relationship with Inara takes a decided turn.

Bone Deep Chill (Repost)
Rating: NC17 for sexual situations. Dark Fic. Please do not read if easily offended or underage.
Summary: Prequel to “Dark Side of Night”, because EmpireX asked so nicely to know how Mal and Inara got from the BDM to where they are in that story.

Dark Side of Night (Repost)
Rating: NC17 for sexual situations.
Author’s Note: This is a VERY dark fic. Please do not read if easily offended or underage.