The Slower Path: Favourite Things - Part 1
Saturday, February 23, 2008

The crew's snowed in for the duration, and Mal and Inara share a moment of fluffiness. Originally written as an RP.



The Slower Path: Favourite Things by anjulie and 2x2 Rating: PG Word Count: 2320 Spoilers: Set Post BDM Pairing: Mal/Inara


"It's beautiful," Inara said, coming down the ramp to where Mal stood amidst the falling snow. True, they had already lost four days due to the weather – Serenity's engines bogged down with so much ice that they didn’t have the fuel to thaw through it – but for once, the Companion didn't really mind. The days here had been wonderful – once Mal had resigned himself to the fact that they weren't getting off this world anytime soon. Kaylee and River were especially enjoying the time, hours spent in the snow like children. Even Zoe had ventured out for a stroll earlier today, and Mal had to see the good in that. And it was beautiful, the soft whisper of falling flakes and the creaking of tree branches under the heavy weight of the snow the only sounds. Quiet. Peaceful.

Mal kicked at a pile of the snow on the ground, grimacing when the toe of his boot broke it open with an icy crunch. “Pretty enough, I reckon; but if the temperatures don’t rise we’ll be here 'til the spring thaw. He looked ruefully at the white landscape before turning to Inara, a smile touching the corner of his mouth as he watched her pick her way down in dainty shoes. “Might be we need to buy you a pair of boots, come the next market we hit.”

She glanced down at her shoes and smiled. "And how far away is spring here? A month? Two?" She sighed contentedly as she came to stand next to him. "I could deal with a few months vacation, couldn't you?" Mal raised his eyebrows and remained silent, reluctant to admit he’d never taken a vacation. “I’d say easy four more months of this, but they do have warm spells in between. We’ll just wait for one of ‘em. You…uh…you take months of vacation often? Back when you was workin’ on Sihnon?”

Inara laughed softly. "Not so much, no," she said, lifting her eyes to the blue blackness of the sky above, smiling as the snowflakes settled in her hair and lashes. "Serenity is the closest I've come to a vacation really," she continued softly. "There's something to be said for the slower path."

“While I don’t mind takin’ the slower path, it bothers me some to be stalled. Ain’t generatin’ any income sittin’ here.” Mal sighed, bending to look at the snow as if he’d just discovered something near his foot. “Will you look at that?” he said, amazed, as he bent down and skimmed an object up with his gloved hand. “Somebody left a perfectly good snowball layin' right here on the ground.” He grinned as he fired it at her, hitting Inara squarely in the chest. He chuckled at the look on her face, feeling better than he had since they got snowbound.

She shrieked, gaping at him in shock. "You - you!" she sputtered, unable to stop her grin when he laughed, a vengeful glint lighting in her eye. "You are so dead!" she vowed, reaching for a handful of snow and running at him.

Mal laughed harder, surprised that she would play. He waited until she was almost on him, then spun away, pivoting back to catch her from behind, holding her loaded hand away from him. "Is that all you got?" he taunted, sliding his hand up to grasp her wrist, shaking her arm so that small clumps of snow fell out of her clenched fingers.”

"Hey!" she protested, laughing. She angled her wrist back and made an awkward throw, the snowball sailing over his shoulder harmlessly as she tried to twist away. She dropped downward and scooped up a handful of loose snow, flinging it back into his surprised face, tugging at his hand ineffectually all the while to free her wrist.

Gasping as wet snow trickled down past his collar, Mal turned her to face him, making a grab at her free hand and missing. He tugged her closer, holding on to her captured fingers. “Boots and gloves. One would think you’ve not spent a lot of time out of doors, Ms. Serra,” he commented, looking down at her small bare hand.

"Let go, or you're getting another!" she threatened, still grinning as she bent for more snow despite her cold fingers.

“That ain’t happenin’," he chuckled, making a swipe for her free hand, gasping as his booted foot slipped on the ice-crusted snow. He caught her fingers but lost his balance, grabbing her shoulder to steady himself.

She gasped as Mal went down, feet sliding out from under him to land on his back heavily, his weight on her shoulder unbalancing her too. Then she was falling, her feet tripped up by his, and without her hands free she was unable to brace against the impact as she dropped on top of him, her head cracking against his jaw soundly.

"---ow!" she hissed, squeezing her eyes shut with a wince as Mal groaned beneath her.

“When you said you was gonna kill me, I conjured it was more a figure o’ speech,” Mal grumbled, experimentally moving his jaw. He stopped, satisfied it wasn’t broken, then cupped Inara’s face, tipping it up for him to see. “You hurt?” he asked, brushing a finger over the small bump on her forehead. "Ow! Yes!" she complained, pushing at his hand with a grimace. She sighed, rubbing the bump gingerly. "Sorry," she said a moment later, realizing he was only trying to help, feeling bad for pushing him away. "Are you okay?" she asked, an apology in her eyes.

Mal smiled up at her and shifted a little beneath her. “I been in worse predicaments,” he teased, his gloved hand sliding along her calf. “Need to get you in out of this weather with you wearin' these flimsy clothes.”

She arched an eyebrow at him. "I hadn't quite expected to end up lying in the snow," she said, poking him in the chest. "Next time I'll be more prepared," she warned, grinning. "I'll wear a helmet."

“Next time? You aimin’ to lay on top’o me a lot, are ya?” he asked, faking surprised concern.

"I guess that depends on you," she said, giving him a serious look. "And whether or not you plan on tripping me again anytime soon," she added with a smirk.

Mal swallowed hard, any suggestion of a smile leaving his face. “I…uh…you have snow in your eyelashes,” he said inanely.

Inara smiled warmly, fluttering her lashes. "A few of my favorite things," she said, brushing snow from his bangs. Her thumb lingered on his forehead, caressing lightly, and - she couldn't help it - she dipped her head down and pressed her lips to his softly.

"I could maybe find more planets with snow," he offered as she pulled away, voice slightly hoarse.

Her smile widened and she trailed her thumb down his cheek, ghosting over his bottom lip and then his chin. "Let's take it one planet at a time," she chided softly. She drew in a happy sigh, lifting her gaze to the sky again. "I wish I did have appropriate clothing. It's a lovely night for a walk."

"Beautiful," he agreed softly, his eyes on her face before her words registered. "Kaylee's most like got something you could wear. I'll wait; you wanna go see. Ain't in no hurry - that's for sure."

She brought her gaze back down to him at his words, still smiling. "Maybe," she said, making no move to get up. She brushed his bangs again, affectionately. "You're getting wet."

"It is a might chilly, but the company's good so I hate to rush away." He slid his hands over her calves again, squeezing them lightly before sliding them up her sides to loosely rest them on her waist. "Need to get you inside though. A good case of pneumonia would be all we'd need to top this job off," Mal said, making no move to get off the ground.

She nodded reluctantly. "Catching a cold isn't one of my top priorities," she admitted, pushing herself up carefully to a sitting position, shivering at the chill that crept into her without his warmth.

Mal sat up as well, keeping her close with one hand on her back. Reaching down, he unbuttoned his coat, and pulled her tighter to him as he wrapped her in its warmth, thankful for the cold for once. "You can slide your hands in to warm 'em, but no ticklin' - and no more snow," he warned with a small grin.

Her lips twitched in a grin and she shifted closer to him, slipping her hands inside his coat, sighing at the warmth of him. "How can you be so warm?" she asked, snuggling into him until she was pressed against his chest, her head tucked under his chin.

Mal froze, unable to formulate anything that resembled a sentence. Instead he simply shrugged and hesitantly at first, then with more confidence wrapped his arms around her, gathering her small form snuggly against him. He closed his eyes, inhaling the scent of her hair and light perfume, luxuriating in the feel of feminine curves and satiny silks. Instead of ruining the moment with idle chatter, he simply pressed a kiss to the top of her head.

She smiled against his neck at the feel of his lips on her crown and nuzzled the underside of his jaw contentedly, sighing happily.

"We should probably go back inside," she whispered, lips brushing his throat. "Not that I'm in any hurry to move." She hummed against him, eyes closed, wrapped up in him. "This is nice."

Shuddering slightly, Mal angled his head down to brush another light kiss on her temple, "Real nice," he agreed, skimming his lips across her cheek, his lips warm against her cold skin.

She shivered, the cold only partially responsible, and turned her head, lips seeking his. She kissed him softly; gentle, exploratory first kisses, sweet and tender, her arms tightening around him as she did. "No one's ever kissed me in the snow under the stars before," she said quietly, eyes still closed as she absorbed the moment.

“Well, darlin’, they don’t know what they missed,” Mal sighed against her skin, his hand sliding up her back to lightly cup her head before he moved helplessly back to her lips, their kisses deepening into passion despite the cold around them. Inara surrendered to the pull of his lips, breaths quickening as a small moan escaped her. Gasping softly, she slipped her fingers up between their mouths, covering his as she pulled back slightly with a giddy smile. She pressed her forehead against his, breathing hard.

"I think," she said between breaths, "that I should, maybe, go back to my shuttle now..." She chuckled softly, lips ghosting over her fingers and his mouth, barely touching.

Mal reached for her hand, nipped the pads of her fingers lightly with his teeth, then pressed a soft, smiling kiss to them. "If you'll help me up, I'll escort you myself," he said softly, memorizing her face; pink cheeks, laughing eyes, hair dotted with snow flakes, and her lips shiny and slightly swollen from their kisses. He moved her hand away to touch his mouth to hers once more.

Her lids closed and she released a chuckling sigh and sank into his kiss again, smiling against his lips even as she opened her mouth against his, offering him more.

His breath was as warm as the rest of his body and she accepted it greedily, knowing that if they didn’t stop soon, they weren't likely to stop at all, and not really certain if she wanted to. "Mal," she moaned into his mouth, lost to the sensation of his kisses.

He gradually pulled away from her with an effort, breathing heavily, smiling into her upturned face. "No, really, you'll have to help me up," he joked, lightening the moment even as he acknowledged that he wanted nothing more than to follow her to her bed; but it was too soon, too new, and as he'd said earlier, he was in no rush. He touched his lips to her reddened nose and brushed his thumb over her cheek to dislodge a snowflake. "There's something to be said for the slower path," he reminded her, using her earlier words. "Now get off me, woman, before I freeze solid to this piece of ground."

Sighing only half-jokingly in disappointment, she relented, knowing he was right. "Just so long as we don't stall," she said quietly, her smile holding a note of seriousness. She pushed herself up off him, then bent and offered him her hands, helping to pull him to his feet.

She stared at him for a long moment as he stood, a soft smile playing over her lips. "Well," she started, but trailed off, feeling herself inexplicably blushing under his gaze.

Shrugging his coat off he wrapped it around her shoulders. You go on ahead." Pulling her closer, hands cupping her elbows, he pressed a soft kiss to her forehead. "Need to take a turn around the ship; check that forward engine."

Inara started to say more, but hesitated, nodding ruefully. She pulled on the lapels of his coat, tightening it around her shoulders. "Don't be out too long. Without your coat, you'll catch cold."

"Oh, I'm not worried about that; 'm still plenty warm," he teased with a tender smile before turning her toward the ship with a gentle push. "G'night, Inara."

A smirk of understanding spread over her face and she nodded lightly, stepping up onto the ramp. She turned back to him and gave him a smile of promise. "Good night, Mal," she called softly and then headed back up into the ship.


Go to Part 2: Long Day ________________________________________________


Saturday, February 23, 2008 7:23 AM


Very nice. I hope you write more.

Saturday, February 23, 2008 8:14 AM


You write so beautifully....sigh. There's never a bad time for more Mal/Inara. Glad they're taking it slow - that's so much more in character for them - and can lead to more stories!

Saturday, February 23, 2008 8:51 AM


*content sigh* You always write the best M/I fluff. Lovely to see you're posting again!

Saturday, February 23, 2008 10:59 AM


I LOVE THIS!!!! I hope you'll write more fics of this kind because you're a natural at it => I glad too that you started posting again *welcome back*

Keep flying ;)

Sunday, February 24, 2008 1:49 AM


I **adored** this and loved the way the snow clad world wove its' magical spell over Mal and Inara taking the prickly stubborn edge off their relationship so they can be that bit more truthsome with each other. And I loved Mal quoting the "slower path" back to Inara and her getting his meaning. Hope you continue this as we surely are missing some lovely Mal/Inara moments. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, February 24, 2008 10:56 AM


I always enjoy your Mal/Inara interactions, and get swept up right into the moment.

Thanks for posting.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 12:59 PM


Thanks everyone for the shiny comments! Very glad you all enjoyed.

We'll be writing a few more of these from time to time; hope you like it!

~2x2~ and anjulie


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History of an Object
There’s no reason to keep it, damaged as it is. Save one. Doesn’t matter that it’s finer than any other cup on the ship, even with the crack. Doesn’t matter that it would never hold liquid again without some of it seeping through. Burning your fingers. Was only one reason he still has the cup.

Five Years' War
The night was warm. Clouds, low on the horizon, blue black in the last light of the setting sun. Nothing but the breeze and the buzz of the cicadas breaking the stillness. A perfect evening.

The Close Shore, At the End, Untenable
“Dead ’re in my head tonight,” he said finally. “Can’t get ‘em out. Don’t got the booze or the bar to distract me. Don’t know why I’m here ‘cept I don’t think I can go through it alone.”

The Slower Path: All the Difference - Part 15 - Sequel to The One Less Traveled By
She let out a breath, saying nothing for a long moment before she raised her eyes again. “There are some things I want you to know,” she said softly. “Things I want you to understand.”

Much as he wished he could ignore it, he could see it was important to her that he know whatever it was she wanted to tell him. He knew he wouldn't have let himself see it in the past, but that weren't where they were anymore, or at least, not where they wanted to be, either of them. Their relationship had changed, was changing, and he weren’t so stupid he didn’t recognize that. He didn't know that he wanted to know it, much less understand it, but she was reluctant enough to talk about any aspect of her life as it was; could be he might ought not stop her when she wanted to.

Unlucky at Cards...
“I… You can’t be that lucky!” Mal moaned as Inara beat him again, laying out her cards with a flourish.

The Slower Path: The One Less Traveled By - Part 14 - Sequel to Regrets
They fell silent again, struggling to find the ease that they had found, before; before the argument that had almost ended things.

"I feel like-," she started.

"This is-," he said at the same time.

They looked at each other. "Awkward," they both said, laughing lightly.

Always Had Faith
Faith in a higher power? That was always Mal's thing, the Captain, back in the war.

Loved and Lost
Love’s the biggest kind of hurt there is.

And I wouldn't trade that love for nothin'.

The Mood That Passes Through
He felt the first trembling shudder go through her, heard her breath hitch and felt her fingers grip his skin; knew it was comin', the wave that was cresting the walls she'd built to hold it back, whatever it was. Knew they were about to come crashing down around her. The first sob still hurt though, still lanced through his heart like a searing hot blade to hear her make that sound.