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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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.