The Slower Path: The Basics - Part 3 - Sequel to Long Day
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mal and Zoe go shopping.


________________________________________________ Part 1: Favourite Things - Part 2: Long Day ______________________________________________

The Slower Path: The Basics Sequel to Long Day by anjulie and 2x2 Rated: PG Word Count: 1052 Characters: Mal, Zoe, Mal/Inara implied Spoilers: Set post BDM


Mal added two boxes of ammunition to the assortment of rations on the counter, mentally figured the cost, then adjusted it as Zoe added a box of tea. She held up a small burlap bag of coffee with a questioning glance only to put it back as Mal shook his head with a regretful frown.

“Will that be all?” the shopkeeper asked from behind the worn wooden counter.

“Got a call for some women’s things.” Mal said. "Gloves, good pair of boots, maybe a …” he stopped, looking Zoe over to see what she had on. “Maybe a pair of pants,” he wondered out loud, his eyes asking the question of Zoe.

“Right over in that corner,” the shopkeeper informed him, pointing his thumb to the back of the store. “Everything you mentioned should be in that area. Underwear, too, if you’ve a need,” he added with a wink at Zoe.

Following his directions, Mal moved through canned goods, cleaning supplies, farming implements, and sacks of feed until he came to a long table of folded clothing sorted by item. Forgetting Zoe for a minute, he stopped by the first stack, lifting a pair of white cotton panties up to study them, and then quickly dropped them when he realized she was right behind him.

Zoe quirked an eyebrow at him, smirking slightly. “Lookin’ to change your wardrobe, Sir?” she asked.

“A little too high cut for me,” he deadpanned back, his eyes flickering from one stack to another searching for what he needed. “Why do women need so much stuff?” he asked, slightly confused as he lifted a scarf and then a hat. Rubbing his nose as he turned, he finally spotted the gloves. “There’s somethin’ practical,” he groused, as he leafed through the small cache until he found a brown pair. As he checked the size, he met Zoe’s amused gaze.

“It’s a favor, juàn gù? She needs some clothes. Think you could find her a pair of jeans or pants that would fit? I gotta look through the shoes,” he huffed as he tossed the gloves, starting a new heap on the table.

Zoe merely nodded without commenting, finding it telling that he hadn’t even felt the need to distinguish that ‘she’ was Inara. Smiling a knowing smile, she moved to the pants, pulling out a few styles that she expected would fit the companion, one black, one olive, and one tan that was, coincidentally, quite close to the color of Mal’s own.

“How’s she fixed for shirts or a jacket?” she asked as she placed the pants in the mound for Mal to choose from, smirking at the look of consternation on his face as he examined the boots.

“Shirts she can borrow from Kaylee,” he stated firmly, returning the tan pants back in the store stack. He held up two pair of boots to Zoe, his eyebrows raised in question. “We ain’t got coin enough to be buyin’ a whole wardrobe and she’ll likely have her own stuff back 'fore much longer. You think she needs a jacket?” he asked, trying to remember if he’d seen her wearing a coat since they’d left the Alliance port.

Zoe pointed out her preference of boots and held up the olive and black pants in turn. “Not sure. Seen her wear a shawl from time to time. Guess that depends on what she plans on doin’ out in the snow,” she said, lips quirking. “Might have a sweater or two she could borrow.”

He met her smirk with a warning frown and pointed to the black pants. “Walkin’, I expect,” he said darkly, knowing all too well that Zoe would tease him to within an inch of his life if he let her. “What about this?” he asked as he held up a brown jacket with a fleece lining and a hood. “Think she’ll wear clothes what ain’t got them shiny beads on ‘em?”

“Walkin’, huh?” Zoe replied, smirk growing at his frown. “’Spect she will. Probably need some decent socks to go along with the boots,” she added, nodding him toward a pile of wool products. “Kaylee’s sure to be tickled, lending Inara her clothes. Be full of questions, too, I don’t wonder. Might even want to go along for a walk,” she teased, unable to resist ribbing him gently.

“God!” Mal jerked out, throwing two pairs of socks onto the pyramid. “How'd this get so complicated?” he growled as he looked over an assortment of blouses and tossed two knit shirts in the purchase jumble. "Fine. Now she won’t have to beg nothin'…” he stopped, a new thought coming to him. “Do you uh…,” he looked around to see where the shopkeeper was. “Do you think she needs some underthings? I mean, she didn’t have time to take anything…what do you suppose she’s been makin’ do with?”

Zoe grinned wryly at him. “Might be she just don’t wear ‘em,” she supplied, unable to suppress a laugh at the look on his face at that. Taking pity on him, she plucked out a few pairs of cotton panties and added them to the now considerably larger jumble. “Conjure that ought to do her, sir,” she said nodding. “Got the basics covered, at least,” she added with a smirk.

Mal looked down at the pile of clothing that had accumulated. “The basics?” he asked incredulously. “That’s ‘the basics'? That’d outfit half a company.” He gathered everything up and dumped it in Zoe’s arms, covering the panties up with a shirt before nodding toward the desk. “Let’s go ‘fore you remember something else she needs,” he said.

Zoe just chuckled and carried the clothes up to the shopkeeper, dropping the clothing and boots onto the counter next to their other sundries. She waited as the man behind the counter rang up their purchases, raising an eyebrow at the Captain as the total came up.

Mal counted through the cash in his pocket, noting Zoe’s look with a frown. Then, with a roll of his eyes, he grabbed the burlap bag of coffee she’d set down earlier and added it to the pile, shaking his head at her smile.

“Not a word,” he grumbled, hoisting the sack of goods over his shoulder and heading out as she followed, chuckling, grin wide.


Go to Part 4: Brown Paper Packages ________________________________________________


Wednesday, February 27, 2008 8:07 AM


That was adorable. Sorry if that's not what you intended but I couldn't come up with a better, or more appropriate, word :-)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 8:16 AM


Aw! That *was* adorable. And funny! I'm gonna like this, I know it!

And I love it when Zoe teases Mal. Good times.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 8:38 AM


I can see Nathan and Gina playing this scene as you described it. LOL! This is great!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 9:14 AM


Can't wait to see Inara's face and how she decides to thank Mal. Wouldn't Zoe like to be a little fly on the wall for that conversation? (Me too!). Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 9:26 AM


This is such a sweet situation...I am damn near speechless.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 4:11 PM


Such a simple slice of life, but you two made it sparkle with a new life of its own. Glad Zoe could come alive to rib him about what he was doing. Looking forward to more!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 4:13 PM


Adorable is the right word Megg. I can see this playing out on the screen too. I can just see Nathan's confused look and Gina's deadpan.LOL

Please let us know Inara's reaction.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 6:54 PM


love the way you write Mal and Zoe, and neither one needs to mention her name, but they both know who they are talking about

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 10:04 PM


I might have a tooth ache later from all this sweetness! I loved Mal's reaction all along, I could immagine Zoe ribbing him all along *grins* I can't wait to see Inara's reaction when he gives them to her, especially the panties - I can see them blushing!!! Hope to see the next part soon =)

Greetings from St.Theresa Junior Lyceum (my school)

Keep flying ;)

Thursday, February 28, 2008 4:54 AM


i love the naturalistic way you write:)

Friday, February 29, 2008 11:07 AM


Another fun scene. I'm glad to see Zoe having fun, especially at Mal's expense. That's probably more healing for her than any heart to heart they could have.


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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.