The Slower Path: The Companion's New Clothes - Part 5 - Sequel to Brown Paper Packages
Sunday, March 2, 2008

Inara finally gets a chance to examine her new clothes.



Part 1: Favourite Things - Part 2: Long Day - Part 3: The Basics - Part 4: Brown Paper Packages


The Slower Path: The Companion's New Clothes Sequel to Brown Paper Packages by 2x2 Rating: PG Word Count: 1259 Spoilers: Set post BDM Pairing: Mal/Inara


Closing and securing the hatch, Inara turned and sagged against the door, releasing a sigh. She had been distracted all afternoon, her thoughts constantly straying to the simply-wrapped package that contained the clothes Mal had bought her, wondering what could be in it. Not to be unkind to Kaylee, but, it was a relief when their afternoon came to a close and the young woman finally left the shuttle.

Alone, at last.

She worried at her bottom lip, fingers, drumming against the cool metal of the hatch behind her, hesitating now, wondering why she was making such a big deal out of a few articles of clothing.

Of course, she knew perfectly well why, she chided herself. She'd been given countless gifts from clients in the past; gowns of the finest silk, jewels and innumerable other fineries, all given in the spirit of currying her favour or winning her affections but never simply because it was something she needed. Of course, she had never really needed for anything before....

But this was different. He'd bought them for her, with money they could scarce spare - and, she knew, he would bear the brunt of any shortage that might arise as a result.

For her.

Not that he wouldn't do the same for any of them, but… she wasn't sure how she should feel about that. On the one hand, she couldn't help but be touched by his simple concern for her – not that his actions were completely selfless, she thought wryly – and yet, she wasn't used to having needs for anything, or looking to anyone but herself. She didn't need Mal to 'take care' of her, nor did she want him to. But, at the same time, she knew that he wasn't trying to usurp her independence; he'd simply seen that she had a need and provided for it.

The fact that she didn’t have the money to repay him bothered her, though he would most certainly be offended and hurt if she so much as offered. And she really could use some more appropriate clothing – any clothing, honestly…

Again, she came back to the thought that he'd bought them for her, and she had to admit, that made them all the more treasured than any of the gifts her clients had ever given her.

So, what was she waiting for?

It was the intimacy of it, she thought, feeling her heart speed up. He'd never given her anything before, and this felt somehow more intimate than even the kiss – kisses, she corrected herself – they'd shared the night before.

But that was why she was still here, wasn't it? To explore this thing between them, this hold they had on one another; to become 'intimate'?

"Nín yú chǔn," she scolded herself, and pushed away from the door, striding purposefully to the chest where she'd hidden – placed, stored, whatever – the parcel when Kaylee had arrived.

Chest tightening in anticipation, she lifted the package out and placed it on her bed, fingers running over the loosely woven twine that bundled it together, the paper crinkling softly. Catching her bottom lip between her teeth again, she pulled the ends of the string and untied the bow, carefully peeling back the folded brown paper to reveal its contents.

The first thing she saw was a pair of black twill pants, and she smoothed her hand over the fabric, reminded by their heavy feel of the few times she'd worn riding pants, a smile beginning to curve her lips. She held them up appraisingly and found they were comparable to the sort of thing she'd seen Zoe wear often, serviceable but well cut.

Beneath them she found two knit tops, certainly of a heavier weave than her usual attire, one white and one a deep burgundy wine. They were both the same, aside from colour, long-sleeved with a few buttons at the collar. She set the white one with the pants and the other aside, a hand flying to cover her mouth at what she revealed next.

"Renci de Fozu," she gasped aloud, fighting not to laugh, the image of Mal buying women's under garments both amusing and mortifying. She could just imagine what Zoe must have said! Oh, Mal.

She set the panties aside, shaking her head ruefully and picked up a pair of leather gloves – brown she noted with a smile – and tried them on, flexing her fingers experimentally. She brought one hand up to her nose and inhaled deeply, filling her nostrils with the new-leather smell. She smiled. It made her think of Mal.

She placed the gloves on the pile, and then socks followed, heavy and made of wool, and last a brown corduroy jacket, fleece lined and hooded; it wasn't fancy, but it looked warm and comfortable, and she regretted again that they hadn't been able to stay for their walk.

She shook her head, taking in all the things he had purchased, knowing it must have cost him a significant amount of coin. She'd have to make it up to him. And, she thought, she could at least start by wearing them.

Admittedly excited, she quickly slipped her gown off and, biting back a laugh again, slid on a pair of the white cotton panties, turning to look at herself in the mirror critically. At least they were high cut, she mused, shrugging lightly. Sitting on the edge of her bed, she pulled on the socks, wincing at how thick and warm they were – the panties were one thing, but how was she going to get used to these, she lamented, her feet already feeling confined and hot, and she didn't even have the boots on!

She shook her head skeptically, but stood and pulled on the pants, tugging up the zipper and struggling a moment with the button, they fit so snugly. Looking over her shoulder at the mirror, she raised her eyebrows at how well the garment molded to her curves, impressed.

"Huh," she said, mildly surprised.

She took up the white shirt and pulled it over her head, taking a moment to free her hair, feeling surprise again at how soft it felt next to her skin, and comfortable. She smoothed her hands down the front of the shirt and contemplated whether or not she should tuck it in, but found she liked the casual look of it loose and so decided to leave it out.

Finally, she sat to put on the boots – brown leather again, she noted, and sturdy. The perfect sort of apparel for the day to day activities aboard ship and off; completely the opposite of the silken slippers and heeled shoes she was used to. With a shrug, she slid her foot inside, frowning in consternation as she had to pull on it quite forcefully before her heel slipped into place and she could zip it up, closing around her leg mid-calf. She repeated her actions with the second boot and then stood, stamping her feet experimentally, a curious smile curving her lips as she turned to survey the completed picture.

"All I need is the holster and pistol," she mused, hands on hips, not displeased with what she saw. The boots were going to take some getting used to, that was certain, but overall the clothes fit well and were fairly comfortable, if a little heavier than was her norm.

She gave herself a shake of her head and then drew in a steadying breath. "Well then," she said. Time to make her debut.


Go to Part 6: A Measure of Healin' ________________________________________________


Sunday, March 2, 2008 7:10 AM


Yay! I really wanted to see Inara opening the parcel, I could almost see her biting her lip as she saw the clothes. The fact that they were special to her just because Mal gave them to her made me grin so wide I could eat a banana sideways - LOL! Hope to see the next part soon =)

Keep flying ;)

Sunday, March 2, 2008 8:15 AM


This was delightful, and full of meaning in so many ways. Glad she was able to see the value of the gifts and appreciate the effort it took. You guys go as slow as you like - this is wonderful!

Sunday, March 2, 2008 9:21 AM


well written, will be waiting for next episode

Sunday, March 2, 2008 10:33 AM


I am really pleased that Inara waited until Kaylee left her at last alone before trying on the clothes. It made it feel like it meant more to her and now I can't wait for Mal's reaction when she steps out of her shuttle and he sees her wearing them for the first time! Lovely fic, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, March 2, 2008 6:21 PM


I have a feeling that a holster and pistol are coming soon. LOL

I love how slowly and naturally this is happening. And on we all hope to Mal's reaction.

Monday, March 3, 2008 2:19 AM


i second the comments about how natural this piece feels. really enjoying this:)

Monday, March 3, 2008 9:10 AM


I am smiling every time I finishe one of these chapters. The tone is right ,the tenderness exquisite. I can't wait to read them all.


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