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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE
Inara returns Mal's coat.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1598 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Part 1: Favourite Things
The Slower Path: Long Day
Sequel to Favourite Things
by anjulie and 2x2
Spoilers: Set post BDM
Word Count: 1069
Summary: Inara returns Mal's coat.
Author's Note: As requested, a sequel to Favourite Things, the first of hopefully many! We're making this a series now, called The Slower Path. Thanks for reading, and hope you enjoy.
She’d woken late that morning, later than she’d meant to, and the sounds of an active crew could already be heard through out the ship as she exited her shuttle, Mal’s coat folded over her arms neatly. She hesitated on the catwalk, and then took the back stairs up to the front hallway, avoiding the mess. She wasn’t sure she wanted to create a spectacle out of returning the coat, certain that there would be speculation amongst the crew soon enough.
She turned down the hall to the crew quarters, glancing over her shoulder into the mess where she could see Kaylee, River and Simon talking animatedly over breakfast, and she smiled softly, before making her way quietly to Mal’s bunk. The hatch was closed, and she was on the verge of knocking when she heard Zoe and Mal’s voices coming down from the bridge. She turned towards them hesitantly as they came down the stairs into the hall, Zoe’s eyes quickly taking note of what she held, and then the first mate gave a brief nod and continued on to the kitchen, leaving her and Mal alone.
“I, uh,” she started, finding it unnervingly difficult to meet his eyes, but she forced them up into his soft stare. “I wanted to thank-you… for last night. For the coat,” she clarified, holding it out to him, chagrined at her nervousness.
“Couldn’t have you all froze and stiff like,” Mal said with a smile as he accepted it. “Zoe and me was just headed into town. Could come along – find yourself some boots and a pair of warm gloves at the mercantile,” he added as he slipped the coat on. Pausing, Mal sniffed the air, then the lapel of his jacket. “Huh,” he mused, a peculiar smile pulling at one side of his mouth.
“I… what?” she asked, puzzled by his smile.
“Oh, uh...just...this coat's smelled like a lot of things in its day, but flowery’s never been one of 'em," he said with a small smile. "Ain't unpleasant," he assured her.
“Oh! I, uh…” she stammered, feeling suddenly embarrassed and she had an irrational worry that he somehow knew she had slept with his coat beside her last night. “Sorry,” she said anyway. “Well.” She shrugged slightly. “I, um, I promised Kaylee we’d… spend some time together…” she trailed off apologetically, motioning toward the galley with a hand. “But, thank-you,” she added hastily, wanting to assure him that she would have gone otherwise.
“Inara,” he said, catching her hand in his and pulling her around to face him, though he found himself staring at a spot over her ear rather than her eyes. “Was hopin’ that if you had some cold-weather clothes we could take that walk tonight. Won’t be gone but a while–” he said, chancing a glance at her, “and Zoe’ll be along to uh…and Kaylee’s got to get that compression coil cleaned,” he improvised, nodding, not having the slightest idea if you cleaned a compression coil or not, just knowing that he hadn’t slept a wink the night before for thinking of her, of them.
She felt her heart speed up at his reference to their conversation last night and a quick smile flashed across her lips. “Mal, you can’t go giving Kaylee extra work just to… besides, I don’t have anything to wear to get to town right now. And I won’t ask Kaylee to lend me her things and cancel our plans too.” She took a step forward, bringing them closer, her eyes fixed on his chest. “Maybe,” she said, gaze flicking up to his for a moment before dropping again, “maybe you could pick something up for me?” she suggested.
“I wasn’t –“ he started to protest when the rest of her words registered. “Well, I…” he foundered for something to say, ”Wouldn’t know the first thing ‘bout buyin’ women’s things…” Mal frowned, searching for a solution. “Fine. Hold up your hand,” he finally said, holding out his own in front of her, swallowing when she placed her soft palm against his rougher one. “Reckon a small then,” he huffed, making no move to lower his hand. “Color you favor one over t’other?” he asked, heat from her skin running down his arm.
Inara had to press her lips together to fight back a smile at his improvised sizing method, the urge fading as she looked at the contrast of their hands together. Tianna, he had big hands.
“You two gonna hold hands all day, or are ya gonna come down for some ruttin’ breakfast?” Jayne called up suddenly, waiting impatiently for the meal’s leftovers, Kaylee’s admonishing “Jayne!” following. Inara turned, blushing suddenly at their audience as every member of the crew sat staring up at them from the mess below. She let her hand drop and stepped back slightly.
“I’m sure Zoe can help you,” she said nodding, taking another backwards step towards the mess. She paused though, and looked up to meet his eyes, pulling her lower lip between her teeth with an uncharacteristic lack of companion composure. “Brown,” she said softly. “I’m somewhat partial to brown.” She smiled shyly and then turned and headed down into the kitchen, taking a seat next to Zoe where she filled her plate with a glare at Jayne, doing her best to ignore Kaylee’s giant smile and the stares of her friends.
Mal followed, trying to glare sternly at Jayne, but not really following through. He grabbed a protein bar from the table and poured himself a cup of tea, eating as he stood while he looked expectantly at Zoe. “Wastin’ daylight,” he pointed out as he gulped the hot liquid and avoided looking at Inara.
“Yes, sir,” Zoe replied, casting a wry look at Kaylee as she finished her tea as well. Jayne emptied the last of the food onto his plate gleefully and Zoe stood to follow Mal out.
”Have fun, Cap’n,” said Kaylee. “Don’t be gone too long,” she added with a teasing look at Inara.
Inara bit back the smile she felt tugging at her own lips, but she couldn’t resist lifting her eyes to follow him as he walked out, one corner of her lips rising as he looked back at the doorway and met her gaze with his own tentative smile.
Then he was gone and Inara sighed softly. It was going to be a long day.
Go to Part 3: The Basics
Monday, February 25, 2008 6:25 PM
Monday, February 25, 2008 10:37 PM
Monday, February 25, 2008 11:49 PM
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 3:03 AM
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 8:47 AM
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 7:38 PM
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 7:47 AM
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