The Slower Path: While The Cat's Away - Part 9 - Sequel to Staying One Day Ahead of Yesterday
Monday, April 14, 2008

While Mal and Zoe are on Verbena looking for work, Kaylee and Inara have a little girl talk.



Part 1: Favourite Things - Part 2: Long Day - Part 3: The Basics - Part 4: Brown Paper Packages Part 5: The Companion's New Clothes - Part 6: A Measure of Healin' - Part 7: Snow Cream Part 8: Staying One Day Ahead of Yesterday ________________________________________________

The Slower Path: While The Cat's Away Sequel to Staying One Day Ahead of Yesterday by anjulie and 2x2 Rating: PG Word Count: 1824 Spoilers: Set post BDM Characters/Pairings: Kaylee, Inara, mentions of Simon/Kaylee and Mal/Inara


“’Nara?” Kaylee asked, standing between the galley and the common room. “You busy?”

Inara smiled and set down her tea cup. "Not at all," she called, waving the younger girl in. "Come in. Would you like some tea?"

“Well, sure,” she said with a bright smile, moving in to the familiar space. “Left Simon sleepin’. He won’t be wakin’ anytime soon so I got the time,” she added with a conspiratorial grin.

"Ah, I see," Inara smiled, pouring a cup for the mechanic. "All the 'help' in the engine room must have worn him out I guess?" she asked facetiously.

Kaylee snickered. “Somethin’ like that. He’s the sweetest thing, though,” she sighed dramatically. Plopping down on the sofa she glanced at Inara out of the corner of her eye. “Like the Cap’n, once you get past that tough face he puts on – just a big ol’ softie.”

Inara raised an eyebrow, containing her smile. "Oh, I'm not so sure about that," she said, handing Kaylee her tea. "But he does have his moments," she added.

“Ooh, xie xie,” she added, putting on her best manners with Inara, watching carefully to see how the Companion held her cup and carefully imitating her. “You’re such a lady, Inara,” she sighed admiringly. “But anyways, we was discussin’ you and the Cap’n and your…,”she glanced around at the common area, “courtin’,” she added with a grin.

Inara chuckled and tucked her feet up under her, turning to face Kaylee more fully. "Is that what we were discussing?" she asked, smirking behind her cup as she took a sip, her eyes laughing.

“It’s what I been dyin’ to talk about ever since you two started holdin’ hands and makin’ calf eyes at each other – not that you ain't been doin' that forever but now you're ownin' up to it,” she added just to be clear. “So you gonna tell me?” she begged sweetly, politely sipping at her tea.

"Holding hands? Are you sure you're not thinking about another Companion?" she teased. She shook her head and laughed. "Really, there's not much to tell."

Kaylee sipped her tea again, all innocence. “Well, you say so … course… that ain’t the way Jayne’s tellin’ it…,” she trailed off with an evil little smile.”And me and Simon may be blinded by desire our own selves, but we ain’t stupid,” she added for good measure.

"Jayne?" Inara exclaimed. "What has Jayne seen?" she sputtered.

Kaylee grinned into her cup. “Oh, don’t’ pay him no mind. It’s not like I believe every little ole thing he says bout you and the Cap’n and you outside his bunk, givin’ him back his clothes…,” she said. “It’s like I was tellin’ Simon after we caught you… I mean after we ran into you two in here the other night,” she smiled. “I nearly died I was so tickled. I swear, ‘Nara, Cap’n was so swai all flustered like that, tryin’ to look like nothin’ had happened - all natural-like – cept for his hair mussed up and his mouth lookin’ like he’d been kissed...” She stopped to sigh. “Do hate we broke you two apart. If we’d been just five minutes later you mighta been in his bunk settlin’ this once and for all.”

Inara coughed, nearly spilling her tea, and she set the cup down, feeling a blush work its way up her neck and face. "I don't think it would have gone that far!" she said, shaking her head before she paused and considered. "Then again..." She bit her lip, a smile spreading amidst her blush.

"We haven't yet," she said, hushed and excited. "But..." She grinned and drew in a deep breath.

“But you’re yearnin’ for him?” Kaylee asked.

Inara let her breath out slowly. "Oh, Kaylee," she said softly, "since almost the day I met him."

Kaylee gave a dreamy sigh, smiling happily. “I know it. It’s been the same for him, too. You gotta know that. I hadn’t ever seen nothin' fluster him ‘til you come on board. The longin’ he’s had,” she finished softly. “I hope you two can finally be happy, jei jei,” she wished aloud.

Inara swallowed, her smile slipping from her face. "I know," she said softly. "But it's been...complicated." She stared down at her tea, lost in thought a moment. "The slower path," she said to herself before she looked back up and smiled, trying to banish her doubts. "We're trying," she said.

Kaylee grew serious as well. She sipped her tea, looking for the right words. “Cap'n's a hard man. I know he can be mean at times; actin’ like he don’t care ‘bout nothin’, but that just ain’t true…” she trailed off. “When you left…well, I thought he was gonna run us all off he got so low. We begged him to come to you but - like you said – complicated and all. I’m just sayin’…I don’t wanna see him like that again. Bad as it all seems I just know you can work it out if you both give a little bit. Don’t reckon that I’ve ever met a man who holds to his convictions the way he does. You let him go – ‘fraid you’ll always regret it.”

Inara sighed, closing her eyes. She'd suspected some of what Kaylee had said - Mal had been so angry and far away when she'd come back to Serenity. And the girl was right, Mal had always held to his convictions, but that was part of their problems. The question of her status as Companion hadn't come up yet - they were both avoiding the topic - but she knew he would never accept her if she continued to take on clients.

And, as right as she was about Mal's convictions, Kaylee was just as astute in her assessment of Inara. That was why she was here, after all, to give their relationship a chance; any other course and she would regret it, for the rest of her life.

"I don't want to let him go, Kaylee," she said quietly after a long moment, lifting her eyes to meet the girls gaze. "But there are a lot of things that we'll have to work through. We're ignoring them for now, but eventually...we will have to talk about them."

The younger girl shook her head with a sad smile. “You may have to bend a lot, ‘Nara. He’s been set in his ways so long. But when we come so close to dyin’ out there - said to myself that I’d never take another day for granted after all that happened. Zoe losin’ Wash. Shepherd Book dyin'. Life’s short everywhere, but it sure seems that it’s a lot shorter out here than most places. You think on that when that talk happens. How glad you was to see him walk towards you on Miranda.” Kaylee looked down into her cup as if she could see the whole scene again, the injured and the dead. Shaking her head, she forced a bright smile. “Now that’s enough o’ that sad stuff. What I wanna know is how’s the kissin’?” she asked outrageously.

There was nothing Kaylee'd said that she hadn't thought of before. She knew that most of the compromise would end up coming from her. And she no more wanted to have this conversation with Kaylee than she did with Mal, so she was more than happy to let the girl distract her. She smiled and let herself revisit the feel of Mal's lips on hers.

"The kissing is fine," she said demurly. "He's... adept." She grinned.

Kaylee placed her cup on the table and flopped back on the worn sofa, sighing dramatically. “Figured,” she said with a knowing smile. “First time I saw him, I knew that man would be a good kisser. Not that I - there’s never been nothin’ like that with us,” she assured the Companion, then added with a grin,“not that I would have said no, mind you. Not in the beginnin’ anyways. Those first weeks learnin’ Serenity’s ways, well I’d a welcomed him into my bunk sure as anythin’ then. But it weren't too long for he started seemin’ more like a brother than somebody to keep my feet warm at night,” she laughed,"or my daddy. Always checkin' out what boys I could find and then scarin’ ‘em away.” Grabbing a pillow from the floor, Kaylee pulled it to her stomach and stetched her legs out. “Way I figure it, he’ll come back from this trip so ready for you that he’ll walk over anybody as gets in his way,” she grinned. “Bein’ gone after he’s had some lovin’- that’s gonna work on him,” she teased her friend.

Inara smiled a secret smile. "I miss him, already," she admitted. "I'm surprised how much, really. Since Miranda, well..." she trailed off, thinking again. She shook her head and smiled. "I wouldn't be surprised if it happened soon," she confided.

“Aw, I’m so happy for you. Best be thinkin’ of places, though” she thought out loud. “Serenity’s big til you try to have some privacy." Kaylee paused, thinking. “Should we move one of the beds from the passenger dorm into your shuttle? Get you set up homier? I know you been sleepin' in there for a while but it don't seem the same without your shuttle all fixed up." She looked at Inara consideringly, "We could use some of this down time to fix it up. While the Cap’n ain't here to grumble and grouse 'bout us wastin' valuable time decoratin'," Kaylee winked conspiratorially.

Inara fought a smile. "I don't have much to decorate with I'm afraid, but maybe we could see what we can come up with," she agreed, nodding. "That cot isn't the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in, I have to admit."

"I have some scarves and a few pretties. I'll loan 'em to you until we get to the Trainin' House to pick up your things," Kaylee offered. "It'll be fun. We could stencil..." she began hopefully.

"Let's not get too carried away," Inara cautioned, smiling. "Mal's only going to be gone a few days." Seeing the mechanic's hopeful look fade, the Companion bit her lip and smiled. "Okay, maybe one wall..."

Kaylee squealed joyfully, plopping her tea down and leaping from the worn couch. "I'll get my brushes and paints and get that lazy Simon out of bed. Him and Jayne can move the heavy stuff for us," she grinned. "Oh, and we'll ask River to help, too," she said excitedly. "Well," Kaylee said expectantly, "Let's go. Cap'n'll have a hissy if he gets back and its half done," she warned with a knowing look. "Ya gotta choose your moment to do stuff like this, if you know what I mean," she grinned.

Inara laughed out loud and let Kaylee pull her to her feet, echoing the younger woman's grin. "Wiser words have never been spoken, mei mei," she agreed.

______________________ Go to Part 10: Weighing the Costs ______________________


Monday, April 14, 2008 5:44 PM


So glad to see more of this story so soon! Beautifully written as always. Kaylee's wheedling was spot on and Inara still managing to control the flow of information was wonderfully in character. Why do I get the feeling that Mal's return to the ship isn't going to be so easy?

Monday, April 14, 2008 10:14 PM


Hooray, moving in the right direction is always fun! Kaylee is so in character, I can imagine her saying just those things and in that way and she surely does know her Captain. With a little luck, Inara will be knowing him a lot better too. LOL. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 2:45 AM


Nicely done, particularly the fact that Inara knows it isn't going to be so easy as just falling into bed/love with each other.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 5:34 AM


Ah, Kaylee, even with all her shipping, has her eyes open, and has Inara's number.
<i>Kaylee gave a dreamy sigh, smiling happily.</i> She's not the only one. : )


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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.