Garden, With Cakes
Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Integrating Inara's storyline with other stuff going on. Still sticking to my own little corner of the 'Verse.


Fanfic. Not commercially profitable. Don't sue. It's the best we can do until the strike is over.

Garden, With Cakes

******** He was a pushy little man. While men of that sort tended ot grate on the nerves, they were usually fairly easily dealt with, and he was no exception. Make him feel he’s getting his way, and he’d soon be on his way. Far, far away with any luck.

Ordinarily she would not have accepted this tiresome oik as a client, but with higher status and position came added responsibility and the need to occasionally tackle a problematic client herself. This one needed special handling, and would unwittingly act as a conduit for information if she was careful. Besides, there was not a novice in the House she’d wish him on, learning curve or no.

Inara Serra gently led her client to the door, artfully allowing her robe to slip oh so slightly off her shoulder, the maneuver so practiced as to seem completely accidental. A last glimpse of paradise to ensure he’d leave with fond memories, before she adjusted her garments. Paradise lost. The look in his eyes assured her of his return.

Look away, smile and return the gaze, wish him a safe trip, hope for another visit soon, blah blah blah, time together too short, blah. As soon as he was out of sight she closed the door, turned her back to it, rolled her eyes and handed her robe to the novice who’d already drawn an anticipatory bath. Inara addressed her next remark to the young woman as she sank into the tub. “So, what have we learned from today’s observations?”

The girl paused a moment, choosing her words carefully. “I am not certain, Aunt. If I may be so bold..”

Inara quirked an eyebrow at her. “You may, or I wouldn’t have asked.”

The girl hesitated “Your parting gestures did not seem very... subtle. Your exchanges are usually very nuanced.”

Inara tilted her head in acquiescence. That particular man is not very... subtle. Had I not given him as blunt an invitation as that he might have overlooked it, yet i allowed him to think himself quite the perceptive fellow. What can we glean from this interaction?”

The girl paused again, then replied “Sometimes one needs a bigger stick?”.

Inara allowed a small smile used for a bright student who has gotten it exactly right. “Precisely. We must never forget that our clients have not spent their lives in a Guild House studying people. If they did, there would be no need for us. Well done, and the water is perfect. You may go.” She sank deeper as the girl departed, and mused on whether or not that one showed enough promise to warrant a tutor for developing her talents. She looked through her waves with a desultory flick of her hand until one caught her eye. It was in-house, from Petra, requesting to meet her for tea today. She sent a brief reply accepting in an hour’s time in the Garden of Seven Fountains, where background noise would make it difficult to be overheard should the discussion turn interesting in an overthrow the government sort of way, and gave herself a rare indulgence of ten minutes’ uninterrupted solitude. As she dressed for tea, because there were standards to maintain, she mused on the various twists and turns which had brought her to the current place and time she found herself occupying. Life had been decidedly interesting for the last two years. After her recovery from the little incident at Kaylee’s wedding, she’d had to meet with several High Guild Officials to reassure them that she was truly healed and capable of resuming her duties as an instructor. She was declared, as always, flawless.

Six months of stability and steady progress up the ranks in her House had been unceremoniously thrown into t eh wind, along with the fortunes of all the House Mistresses and Priestesses, like so much chaff to be winnowed, when sociopolitical turmoil had befallen and the Guild found itself in the fight of a lifetime. She had been quite surprised to discover that the removal of seven key people by Council Ruling and assassination had left her sitting pretty, near the top of one of the most influential Houses in the Guild. She was not so much surprised at her position, but rather that she had not needed to actively arrange events. She was not one to trust to Luck, but also knew better than to fail to firmly grasp an opportunity when it presented itself.

She paused to check the time before applying a last artful brush stroke to her face and donning her earrings. She counted to thirty to ensure perfect punctuality. During her walk she mused on the sixty women under her charge, and the two who included her in their tally, and entered the garden, as always, flawlessly.


Petra was full of surprises today. Inara was not certain if she should actually be annoyed, but she absolutely would not let a passing flicker of resentment pass her features. A hesitation at the discovery of a third person for tea, like a cloud crossing the sun at a storm’s clip, was all that anyone might register as surprise or alarm.

“Inara, darling, you look delicious as always.” Petra trilled as she pressed her lips to the air near the delicious one’s cheek.

“Thank you Petra, that perfume is quite becoming on you. Wherever did you find it?” was Inara’s rejoinder to the olfactorily enhanced woman.

The subtext of this exchange was “I’m probably about to use you as bait” followed by “I thought something smelled, where’d you dig up this bit of trouble?”. Nobody but the two women would have been able to follow the unspoken commentary, but the third person in question was rising to greet the recent arrival. Petra turned to extend a hand. “Come my dear. Inara Serra, may I present Magda Martin? Magda, Inara.”

The now appellated woman received Inara’s graciously extended hand and her stated “So lovely of you to join us today.”

Magda murmured a polite “Delighted.” but did not miss the glance at the second companion.

Neither did the companion in question. “I’m terribly sorry about the unannounced addition, but I felt it imperative that Ms. Martin’s visit be off as many official documents as possible.”

Magda laughed at that. “How delightfully cloak and dagger of you Petra.”

Inara smiled and motioned to the table. “You wanted to keep her visit a secret so you invited her in for tea in a conspicuous garden. I’m afraid I’ve left my cloak in my rooms, and as I don’t see any daggers lying about perhaps we should sit and talk. Giselle makes a beautiful pot of tea and it would be a crime to let it go cold.” With that the dance began.

Over what did indeed prove to be a beautiful pot of tea and several exquisite almond cakes it was determined that their guest was also full of surprises, not the least of which was espionage. Magda evidently had several associates in common with the two companions in that respect. The name of one took Inara so by surprise she nearly dribbled her tea.

“I’m sorry, did you just say Malcolm Reynolds?” she inquired as she gently dabbed her lips.

Magda nodded cheerfully. “He’s actually the reason I wanted to see you. I’d heard it out and about that you’d been on his ship for a while, and I was hoping you could help me track him down. There are some old friends who would like to get in touch with him again. He can be quite the slippery eel to get hold of when he wants.”

Inara covered her frantic consideration of this twist with a gentle joke. “I’m not sure Captain Reynolds would find that particular analogy flattering, but it is an apt one.”

Magda sighed. “Well do I know. I’ve been trying to locate him for nearly a year. He seems to be able to disappear into thin air and is collecting a tail of tales like an epic comet. Shot dead, risen again, single-handedly bringing about the overthrow of the government, working with the government to wipe out the Reavers, secretly runs Blue Sun, finding lost puppies, saving people from interstellar shipping accidents, touch cures scrofula, that sort of thing.”

Inara gently lifted an eyebrow “So these friends want him for...?”

“A rallying point, I believe. Old war hero trots back out for another go at it.” wafted Magda.

Petra interjected with “If the rumors have him running the government single handed, why would they think he’ll want to see them again?”

Magda fixed her with a level gaze that would have laid anyone but a Companion flat on the grass and withered a silhouette into the lawn for good measure. “I’ve fought with the man, Petra.”

Inara snorted “Who hasn’t?” before she could stop herself.

Magda nodded to her. “You’ve met him then. I hardly need to tell you he is the last person likely to have anything to do with the Alliance other than possibly poking it with a very sharp stick. Many of my associates feel that the time is ripe for another bid for independence. Things have changed, emotion runs high and public sentiment is with them. Many have also had a bellyful of war and would rather not repeat the past.”

Petra filled the pause with “So these old friends want to see where our fabled Captain stands on the matter.”

Magda nodded “Just so.”

Inara gave her a considering gaze and sipped her tea. “Let us talk more, perhaps I can be of some assistance.”



Tuesday, January 1, 2008 5:15 PM


Huh. What exactly did Magda mean when she said, “I’ve fought with the man”?

Hope there's a second chapter!

Thursday, January 3, 2008 6:16 PM


"oik" broke it for me. A narrator, or Inara, wouldn't.

Monday, January 21, 2008 4:07 PM


Ouch.. wrecked it for you in the first paragraph...

It's also amazing what slips through spellcheck isn't it?

Saturday, February 9, 2008 2:13 AM


I love the direction it's taking - when you asked me if Magda would be up for another run at the Alliance I had no idea how thrilling this would be!

I love that she holds her own with two trained Companions... I guess I agree with Vex on the word 'oik', I think Inara would practice not to even think that kind of word... but I love the way Magda talks - she would have gone to school with girls who left to become Companions in her younger days... and she is the 'Core World equivalent of Royalty' according to one of my own fan fics!

Please write more Sweety - I am positively longing to see where this leads!

Saturday, February 9, 2008 2:15 AM


OOops - Phyre light - She actually fought with him at the Battle of Serenity Valley! She was in the 76th Battalion and there is fan fiction about many of the characters we've created over on the home site/forum!

Sunday, February 24, 2008 2:26 PM


"Actually"... you're so cute when you willingly suspend your disbelief!


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The landscape's changing. Serenity's moving on. They'll all be fine.

Garden, With Cakes
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