Like Woman, A Mystery - Part VI
Sunday, November 25, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Sam and Inara finally thrash things out. Thank you to those who have commented - seems this story isn't going down as well as I'd hoped. But nearly the end now. NEW CHAPTER


“Inara, I’ve apologised. I’ve said I’m sorry. Why do you keep pushing me away?” Sam stared at her, his dark eyes entreating her.

“Because you ran! You saw something out here that you didn’t like and you ran.” Inara faced him, her anger almost tinting the air red between them.

“You know why.”

“No, I don’t.”

“I explained.”

“And I let you go.”

He released her arm as if it was red hot. “Inara …”

“You made the decision. Perhaps you ought to stick to it.” She lifted her chin defiantly.

“So that’s it? I just walk away? Go with Serenity and get back to my normal life?”


“That’s what you want.”


He took a deep breath and held it for a long moment before releasing it slowly. “I see. Fine. Now at least I understand.” He walked to the door. “You’d better use this room. I’ll find another. I wouldn’t want to … inconvenience you.”

“Thank you.”

He had turned the knob, opened the door, half-stepped out into the corridor when an enormous crash of thunder roared overhead, and the banked anger inside him broke. “No!” he shouted, turning to her again. “That isn’t good enough!”

She took a step back. “What? Why?”

“Because this isn’t what I want.” He advanced into the room. “I want to take you! Make you love me!” He laughed bitterly. “But I can’t.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Because of what you went through! I can never … I would never force myself on you. But I don’t know how to tell you how I feel.”

“Just tell me.”

“You don’t understand. All my life I’ve lived by my own rules, by a code that … I’m a therapist, Inara. I know this is wrong, what I want, but I …I’m losing you before I ever had you. And I should be emasculated for even thinking like this. For wanting to … to make you want me.” He shook his head. “See what you’ve made of me?”

“Sam, stop this.” She hardened her heart. “This is pointless.”

“I’m offering myself to you, Inara! What are you afraid of?”

“I’m not afraid.”

“Yes you are. I can see it in your eyes. Why are you so afraid?”

“I’m not afraid of you!”

“Then what do you want me to do?” He put out his hands in entreaty. “What can I do to prove how I feel to you?”

She glared at him. “You want to prove you love me?” She glanced down at the fireplace, and bent quickly to pick up the poker. “Take this outside. Into the storm.”


She let it fall with a clatter. “See, I knew you -”

Sam scooped up the fire iron and strode out of the door. For a long moment Inara did nothing, just stared open-mouthed at the empty doorway, then she ran out after him, the blanket falling from her shoulders. He was already down the stairs, undoing the heavy bolts and forcing his way into the tempest.

In the drawing room, Mal felt the wind howl down the hall, and he paused.

“No,” Freya panted, pulling his face back around to hers. “Not our problem. Theirs.”


She twisted her fingers in his wet hair and angled her hips more sharply. “Not … ours …”

Mal’s brain short-circuited at that and he bent back to his task.

Inara hurried down the stairs, almost slipping on the wet floor from the rain already pouring in, and hurtled outside. “Sam! Sam, stop! Come back inside!” Her voice was whipped away by the wind, but he heard her. He turned, facing her, the poker held high in his hand, and every moment she expected to see lightning fork down and impale him. “Sam, please!” If he got hurt because of her stupid pride …

“Why?” He waved his hand. “This is what you wanted, wasn’t it? Me to prove how I feel? Well, here I am.” He looked up into the sky. “Do your worst!” he shouted as the rain hit his skin, bruising him and soaking his clothes.

Inara grabbed for the poker but he held it out of her reach. “Please, Sam!”

“Why, Inara?” He could feel hot tears running down his cheek, and realised he was totally out of control, unable to do a thing about it. “I’m sorry. What else can I say to you?”

She stared at him, then reached up and touched his face, her fingers cupping him. “Sam, please.”

He gazed into her eyes, seeing her carefully coiffed hair plastered to her head, her make-up melting and running down her skin, and his hand opened, letting the poker fall to the ground. “Inara …”

“Come back inside.” Her words were too quiet for him to hear above the noise, but he saw her lips move, felt the tug of her hand on his arm, and he had to follow. Closing the door behind them, she threw the bolts into place, then led the way back upstairs.

Back inside his room, she walked to the empty fireplace and stopped, facing away from him as she wiped her face with her hands. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I shouldn’t have provoked you.”

“You didn’t. I didn’t have to go out there.”

“The grand gesture …”

“Something like that.”

“Why couldn’t we just talk?” She hugged her arms around herself. “We never just talked!”

“Inara, we did nothing but talk!”

“Not about us!” She sat down heavily on the bed. “You know so much about me, about what happened with Anthony and …” She took a deep breath, trying to calm the wild beating of her heart. “Yet you don’t know me.”

“Of course I do.”

“Do you? Do you know how I take my coffee? Whether I prefer oranges to apples? You know all about how I will always love Mal, but do you know what makes me me?”

“Black. And you prefer oranges but they make your fingers sticky. I know you’ll always love Mal. And I want to spend time finding out what makes you you.”

“You don’t even know how I feel.”

“Then tell me.”

“I fired you. I fired you so we weren’t doctor/patient anymore, so that we could … you must realise.”

He went down on his knees in front of her. “Inara, I care about you. So very much. More than care. And I want us to explore that. But you’re afraid of something. Is it me?”

“Sam, I’m not afraid of you,” she whispered. “I’m afraid of me. That there’s no-one inside here, inside this shell that everyone calls Inara Serra.” She shivered.

Sam became all efficiency. “We need to get you out of those wet clothes,” he said, getting to his feet and going to the wardrobe.

Inara almost laughed. “Are you propositioning me, Dr Nazir?”

“I just don’t want you catching pneumonia. I think your Captain Reynolds wouldn’t be too pleased if you did.”

“He’s not my Captain. He hasn’t been for a long time. Since I ran away from him because I didn’t want him to tell me how he felt. It cost me his love.”

Sam paused, a robe in his hands. “You ran?”

“He said once that he thought he’d loved me enough for us to make something. Even though Freya was always there in the background. That we could have made it work. Except by the time I came back it was too late.”

Sam crossed back to her, made her stand up. “Inara, regrets are all very well, but you can’t live in the past.”

“I know that, Sam. And I don’t. I let Mal go. But it was hard, and it still hurts sometimes, when I see them together, with their children. It hurts.”

“And you thought I’d done the same thing. Run away from something we could have made.”

“Yes.” She lifted her head. “I never forgave myself over that. How could I forgive you?”

Suddenly Sam laughed. “How old are we, Inara?”


“I have a grown daughter, I’m a grandfather, and here I am acting like a love-sick teenager.”


“Oh, yes. Definitely. And you, my dear, have a touch of the petulant child about you.”

She was about to demand he take that back, that it wasn’t true, when she realised it was. “Cutting off my nose…” she murmured.

“What?” Now it was Sam’s turn to be confused.

“Something Freya said. A saying. Cutting off your nose -”

“To spite your face. Yes, I know it. My grandmother used to use it.”

Inara smiled. “You should talk to Freya. I think you’ve got quite a lot in common.”

“I’d rather have something in common with you, Inara.” He undid the front of her over-dress. “But right now you have to get out of those wet things.”

“I can do it.”

He smiled and took half a pace back. “Go on then.”

She peeled the gauzy fabric from her arms, then tried to undo the buttons on her shoulders, but her fingers refused to work. She struggled for a minute, then looked at him. “I think I need help.”

“I’m a therapist,” he said gently. “That’s what I do.” Closing the gap between them, he began easing the buttons through their tiny loops.

“But you’re wet through too,” she pointed out, feeling his proximity, his warmth.

“I’m pretty cold-blooded,” Sam admitted. “It takes a lot to get me out of my normal state.” He leaned closer. “It takes you, Inara.” With a swiftness born of believing she might tell him to stop, he brushed his lips across the base of her neck to under her ear.

“Sam …” she whispered on an intake of breath.

“Too much?” he asked, looking into her eyes.

“I …” She couldn’t speak, just pressed her mouth to his. It seemed an age until his arms surrounded her, but he pulled her body into his. She felt his tongue press between her lips, tasting her, his hands around her waist and on her back, and she opened her eyes. His were closed, as if he was memorising every sensation. Then they opened, and fixed her with their darkness, full of secrets that she was longing to unravel.

He smiled as he pulled back a little. “I’m surprised we’re not steaming,” Sam joked.

“I’m still cold.”

“Then I think we’d better do something about that.” He went back to undoing the buttons, and suddenly her shoulders were free. He swallowed as he saw the soft, white skin revealed. He turned his back.

“What are you doing?”

“Being a gentleman.”

“Isn’t it a bit late for that?”

He stared into the shadows in the corner of the room. “Not until you give me permission.”


“Inara, I want you. So badly. More than I’ve wanted almost anything in my life. Perhaps more than everything. But I’m not going to take it when it isn’t offered.”

She didn’t answer, and he thought he’d offended her, but then he felt her hands slide around his waist. She seemed to be trembling.

“Sam, I am afraid.”

He put his hands on hers. “Afraid? Of what?”

“Of myself.” She tried to take a deep breath, and only managed a shuddering one. “Sam, I haven’t slept with a man as me since … since Gregor. I don’t know if I know how to be a woman.”

“You are a woman, Inara.”

“No. I was a Companion. It’s different.”

“Inara.” He turned, looked down at her, more than aware she was naked. “I want this. But if you’re not ready …”

“I am.” She stepped back, two, then three paces, and the lantern illuminated her slender body. “Oh, Sam, please don’t stop.”

He stared at the magnificence he saw there. Her high breasts, slim waist, the long legs that seemed to go on forever … and he realised with a start that it didn’t matter. Oh, she was a beauty, that was evident, but it wasn’t just her physical charms that had attracted him. It was her, the real Inara, the one hidden inside all the armour. The Inara who had been through so much, yet come out whole and strong. That was the true woman.

“Inara …”

“And I’m still cold.”

“Then perhaps you’d better get under the covers,” he suggested.

“Are you going to join me?”

He smiled. “You know, I think I might.”

Her face lightened, and she crossed to the bed, slipping under the sheet. “Then I give permission.”

His smile widened to a grin, and he quickly stripped off his wet clothes, pulling the tie from his hair so it hung wetly down his back.

He reminded her of Simon. She blushed as she realised she shouldn’t be thinking things like that, particularly as he was naked, but it was true. The hidden strength inside a deceptively slim frame, muscles flexing as he climbed into bed with her.

His olive body, all smooth and lithe, lay against her, just touching, nothing more. Slowly, as if he was tracing a pattern, he ran a single finger up her thigh. She quivered.

“Sam …”

“No. You do nothing. This is all for you.” His words whispered over her shoulders, grazing her cheek. She tried to remember to breathe.

The finger continued up over the swell of her hip, past her waist, then just touching the side of her breast. It didn’t stop, but carried on higher, across her neck, her cheek, and into her hair.

“I’ll never get the tangles out,” she murmured, just needing to say something, anything.

“Then tomorrow I’ll brush it for you,” Sam promised.

“Are you going to leave?” she asked quickly.

His eyes searched hers. “Do you want me to?”


“Then no.”

She pushed herself onto her elbows. “Are you just saying that because I asked?”

He shook his head. “Inara, I think I’ve come to realise something tonight. Even if you’d told me to go, I wouldn’t have. I’d have sat at the end of the orchard, my belongings all around me, and waited for you. Perhaps I’d have got Mr Boden to build a tree house for me to live in, but you wouldn’t have been able to get rid of me. I was stupid, Inara. And I’m going to make up for that. Even if we get storms like this every week.”

“Storms?” She half-smiled. “Is it still raining?”

“I have no idea.” Sam cupped her cheek. “Want me to go outside and find out?”

“Don’t you dare.”

He grinned, leaning forward to stop any further words.

to be concluded


Sunday, November 25, 2007 3:38 AM


Lovely! Finally Sam and Inara get things out into the open. There is a certain electricity in the air during a storm isn't there?

Sunday, November 25, 2007 7:59 AM


If they could figure a way to bottle that storm, they could put Viagra out of business.
Don't see him strapping on a gun and going on a heist yet but I guess Sam's ok after all.

Sunday, November 25, 2007 8:30 AM


Well now, that's more like it. I thought Sam deserved another chance, and it looks like maybe this time, it's gonna work out! Lovely!

Sunday, November 25, 2007 8:46 AM


Wow! And I thought I was odd for being turned on during thunderstorms, lol. What a great write! I still don't think Sam deserves it, but I have to admit it was well done, almost makes me like him again. Keep it up!


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