BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE

GILLIANROSE

Coming Clean
Friday, June 26, 2009

Post BDM; a response to Thomas Zhang's Steamed;


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2184    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

There were moments that weren't agonizingly difficult. Moments when her whole body didn't ache, didn't sing with a dozen very specific and demanding voices of gasp-inducing need. Minutes at a stretch, sometimes a waking hour or two when Inara forgot how long it had been, when she forgot to congratulate herself on the pure torture of the path she'd chosen for herself. Locked in a tiny spaceship, millions of miles from escape, with the one man she'd ever met that she couldn't stop thinking about, yearning for. Dismaying but no longer a surprise, how her body reacted any time he was near. Making ready for something that still hadn't happened. No respite. No relief.

Apparently, this wasn't one of those moments. The water was warm, perfect, but it stung her skin into anguished prickles as she stood, rinsing the shampoo from her hair and trying to breathe. She absently rubbed one naked foot against the rough-textured tile of the shower floor, then caught herself in alarm, nearly moaning as the sensations flashed through her. Was this what she'd been reduced to? Some kind of thwarted, lust-drunk...ah.

Inara raised her eyebrows, inclined her head to look behind and above, then turned around completely to examine the mechanism affixing the shower head to the wall. It was there, tiny, but just where Zoe had said, a few mornings back, smiling over coffee, a quiet joke that was also an admission and, Inara hoped, a step forward.

She held her hand under the spray to rinse the last of the slipperiness from her fingers, then carefully dislodged the shining pin. She held the shower head close, letting it pass over her aching skin, over and closer as she shivered. Shut her eyes, leaned back against the cool cera-steel, bending one leg to brace her foot against the wall as well. Closer, hurtling like an arrow across the sky. Nestled her bottom lip in against her own restless tongue, stretched up. Closer, oh God. Curled her hand, her other hand, over the top of the pale gray shower door. Closer, as she gave up resisting her own fantasy, stopped holding out against what distressing experience had taught her, these lonely months, that she needed to imagine before the tyrant inside let her free. A demand, a ransom she always gave, at the end.

She couldn't come until she thought about Mal. In her rational moments, Inara understood the wish fulfillment, that in her fantasy everything was exactly the opposite of the genial but seemingly frozen state of affairs between them. Unequivocal and unhidden desire, he'd claim her,growling his need against her ear as he moved for her, against her, under her hands, perfectly. In this dream, she was his, one of the few things in the 'verse he'd never deny or pretend he didn't love. Like his ship. Their home. And he was hers, just as much, reading her desire. In this dream, he knew she loved him.

A new compassion for those certain clients, no matter how urbane and forthright they were on the wave, the ones who sent a letter. Written, the most intimate and painful to disclose, who they required, who they pleaded with her to be. The gratitude after..the confessions, the helpless pain, the freedom finally to speak the name, the truth. At the Training House, she'd had one especially perceptive and tender-hearted new friend. One day, walking the path together through the Winter Garden, he'd offered, knowing she'd need to turn from his affectionate gaze, let her eyes scan the drifts of blooming hellebore as she'd gathered her courage. And as beautiful as he'd been, as well as she'd trusted him, she'd declined. She hadn't wanted to admit what taking that step would have meant.

She was the bow, the arrow and the unbounded sky around it as it flew, as she flew, piercing and pierced. Her hand held to the top of the shower door; she thought she'd been quiet enough. Until she heard the rattling of the outer door.

---------------------- The door was unlocked and the room was tiny, so his momentum carried him just to the edge of the shower door, where Mal became aware of several things at once. The thick white towel, its edges finished with shining ribbon; the lemongrass scent in the air; the glimmering fingertips, curled over the edge of the door; and most of all, the particular and breathy little sound he heard from just the other side of the not-entirely-opaque shower door. Inara. It was Inara, he realized, watching the edges of her perfect fingernails whiten as her grip tightened, the same moment that she cried out. It was Inara and she was, right then...

Not that he hadn't thought about it. He thought about it more than he wanted to, wondered about it, how she'd be, illuminated with desire, finding her pleasure with him, with what he could offer to her. But she was ever and always so controlled. Inara - the reality of her, aroused, needing, vulnerable like this made his head spin. He looked down, trying to rein in his thoughts, and caught sight of one foot, one foot only, just adjacent to the tiny shower's drain. That detail allowed him to fill many, but not enough details in a mental picture that nearly brought him to his knees. Inara, naked and wet, an arm stretched over her head, back arched against the wall, closed eyes, parted lips, sounding as she had...The possibilities, what in particular she might be doing, what she'd need the most, had him shocked and gasping with need himself.

He backed away, feeling for the door behind him, his eyes still traveling between her curled fingers and her wet foot. Reached the handle behind him and jerked forcefully, muttering a despairing curse when he realized his mistake. The door to this shower compartment was the lowest-priority repair on his boat, and it was maddeningly touchy. Handle it just right, or it jammed, stuck fast, and required protracted and noisy manhandling to open up again. So he could yank the door six ways from Sunday and free himself, but she'd hear him. She'd know.

Mal looked around, his eyes wild against the futility, the oncoming doom. Hide, a voice insisted, but in this tiny room such a thing was impossible. They'd been getting along, she still teased, but gently; she'd been so damned sweet to him it was like a drug. For his part, he was pretty sure he'd been less of a recalcitrant jackass than usual. He'd been trying. But him barging in on her - she never showered at night, his mind voiced and dismissed the protest in the same instant. And she'd see him, she'd see in an instant the irremediable state of him, what he was thinking and what he wanted to do She'd know he'd heard her.

"Mal?"

Her voice was so breathy, he felt a shiny new wave of panic crash over him. Panic and lust. "No!" He nearly shouted, although she was close enough to touch. If he wanted to be dead. He found himself stepping from the door to the bench, past the shower door to the sink and cabinet. No? He was an idiot. "Yes." He glanced at the shower door, at the faint shadow of her behind it. "I was just here to take..." Idiot. "Take care, one of the bars in here is..." Something possessed him to reach out and shake the towel bar that held her towel, then watch without surprise as it yanked free from the wall and fell through his fingers. It rattled to the floor and rolled, deafeningly, across the tiles to rest under the cabinet. "It's loose."

"And you're fixing it now?"

"Me? No, I..." He was holding her soft white towel, looking at all the shining white loops and fluffy threads. "I came - I can come back later. You don't never shower at night, is what. And you forgot to set the indicator." He commenced to rattling the door loose.

It was embarrassing, how monumental his relief was when she didn't challenge him, just laughed a little from behind the door. "I share these facilities with a Reader, Mal, she doesn't need a blinking light to know I'm in here." And something else they both knew, how some days an unexpectedly locked door was enough to throw River into a desperate panic that would only mortify the poor girl, once she came back to her right mind. A pause. "Don't leave."

He looked over his shoulder to see she'd rolled the door back enough to peek her face out, that her hair was streaming wet around her face and shoulders, that she was radiantly beautiful, shining eyes and a high color across her cheeks as she met his eyes. That steady look, and the way she was smiling at him, he found himself smiling back too. Inara's smile widened into a true grin, and she raised one eyebrow at him while she elaborated.

"Are you confiscating my towel?"

She seemed to glow. If this is what pleasure did to her -----

"Seems I am." And he grinned back for a long moment, answering the mischief in her eyes. Folded his arms across his chest with the towel tucked securely between. "And I count this a perfect opportunity to gain a concession from you."

"Such as?"

Mal pretended to think. "You need to say, 'Mal Reynolds is a superior man, the best captain in the 'verse and I repent of every uncharitable word or thought I have ever directed his way."

"Under duress? I shall not." The warmth in her voice drew him in, despite her words.

"You got two options. Either you get to elocutin' on all my outstanding qualities, or stand there and drip."

"The third?"

"There's no third."

Inara laughed a bit at that, let one hand brush the hair back away from her face. Her voice was gentle as she reminded him of something he already knew and shouldn't have forgotten.. "There's always a third." Took a deep breath as if she might begin the recitation after all, then stood straight upright, still smiling, still holding his eyes with her own, and rolled back the curving shower door.

Naked to his eyes, wild and perfect as some pagan spirit of the waves, leaving one quick wet footprint on the tiles before she reached him and pivoted quickly so she stood with her back to him. Slowly Inara reached both hands into her hair and held it in a wet extravagance on top of her head. She was inches from him, he could have leaned down and drunk of the stream of water gliding along her neck. Just as slowly, calmly, she looked over her shoulder, letting show her amusement at his expression as he swallowed, convulsively, against the clamor of his senses. "Captain?" She murmured the request in a low hum.

Mal had been out of the barn long enough to know when he was in a showdown. One basic but important rule was, in a showdown, don't be the one who's naked. Nakedness was, by and large, a liability. In this case, Mal wasn't ready to claim the upper hand. But if she wanted to play, she'd find out he wasn't entirely without resources of his own.

He unfolded his arms, letting her see as his eyes moved slowly down and up, exhaling gently as he met her gaze again. "Huh. Not half bad."

Inara made a point of sighing at this, and then it was her turn to look, slowly, delicately down and then up to his suddenly warmer face. "More than half, I'd say."

She was even closer now. He could feel the warmth of her through the air, and a few cooling drops of water from her hair had spattered the old grey t-shirt he wore. Mal said nothing, but watched her follow his hands with her eyes as he stretched each end of the towel to wrap around her. He overlapped it snugly in the front, carefully tucking one ribboned hem over the other just above the curve of her bosom. If he wasn't smiling quite so much, well, neither was she.

-----------------

If that step out of the shower didn't send the man a clear and unequivocal message about her receptivity, Inara could scarcely think of what might. She tried not to think of how she'd feel if he left her now, if he made some joke, if he bade her good night and walked away alone. She pulled her hair straight with both hands then coiled it, squeezing some of the water out onto the floor.

"Awfully drippy," Mal commented from behind her.

"My apologies," she chuckled, turning to face him. He'd intended to shower here, she realized, noticing the t-shirt and soft-looking sleep pants he wore.

Mal shook his head at her, then pointed to indicate the wet floor around her feet. "Liable to slip and fall and break your naked limbs." "If you are so concerned you might pass me a towel for my hair," she replied, giving him an expectant look and nodding at the cabinet.

He flexed one eyebrow but stepped away, indulging her for the moment. "You seem taken with the notion of having a man do for you." Mal reached into the cabinet, retrieved two small towels, and turned to face Inara. He passed her one of the towels and watched her wrap it loosely around her hair, patting and squeezing.

Inara was surprised he was still here. Surprised he hadn't passed her the towel and rattled the door and himself free. But when had Mal ever, ever done what she expected?

-------------------

"C'mere." Mal said nothing more but smiled as he crouched down in front of her, resting one knee against the tile. He spread the towel out across the knee closest to her glossy wet toes, patted it and looked up expectantly, quirking an eyebrow and waiting for her to give him her foot. Inara breathed a little surprised-sounding laugh, biting her lip for a moment, then letting her demure expression bloom into true merriment. She set the towel for her hair aside, tucked her towel close to her legs and let one hand rest on his shoulder before lifting one foot a few inches and letting it light on his knee. Obliging as he'd ever been in his born days, Mal wrapped the little foot in the fluffy towel, slowly drying her instep and all the smooth, clean skin from her heel to her toes. He rubbed his fingers across her ankle and pushed gently to indicate he was finished, that she should give him her other foot. She did.

"Of course, sounds like you got by without a man to do for you just now." Spoken in the most innocent tone he could muster, but Mal punctuated the observation with his widest grin and a nod at the shower, watching her eyes widen in surprise.

Inara let out an exasperated breath. "Physical pleasure is a completely natural part of life for most healthy adults, Mal. But it is generally considered a matter for discretion."

Mal chuckled, leaning back and looking up at her. "Yeah, but in this case discretion's no fun."

She rolled her eyes, then sent a pointed look between him and the foot still wrapped in a towel on his knee. Mal went back to drying.

"Who's the lucky fella?" This was a gamble, he knew. She'd had regulars, men she'd seen for years, men who'd had the chance to learn her ways. Might be the question he didn't want an answer to, finding out she yearned for some wealthy, mannered gentleman twenty worlds away. But she was still here, after all these long months, and he knew it was past time to find out why.

Inara held his eyes but her expression took on a guarded aspect. It seemed she could not control the flush blooming its way across her cheeks. After a long moment she dropped her eyes and looked away.

"Awfully bold with that lovely skin of yours, but I guess there are some things you do want to keep private." His hand smoothed slowly over the back of her calf to where a few opal-glowing soap bubbles remained. Moved his fingers to brush them away and felt her shiver, felt her fingers tighten for a moment around his shoulder. "You missed a spot."

Her voice was warm, teasing. "How solicitous, Captain."

Mal nodded, the picture of self-satisfaction. "One of my under-appreciated qualities."

This earned him a smile. "I'll keep that in mind."

His hand had traced upwards a little, to just below the curve he'd found himself studying, the one on the inside of her knee. He could look at that curve, he could smooth over it with his thumb. Doing both at once wasn't a thing to be chanced. He had his composure to maintain. And he needed an answer, just one.

"You're indulging in some mischief with me tonight, aren't you? Not that I'm complaining, I can't remember any kind of mischief I'm half as partial to. But it's time to come clean."

He felt an immediate stillness in her, in the hand on his shoulder and the skin beneath his fingers. Her face had gone serious, not quite apprehensive but some kind of cousin to it. Inara abbreviated a gesture with her free hand, let go a little sigh. She glanced down at him, behind him at the shower and back to him again. There was a pensiveness he could see breathing in and out of her, and Mal wondered if he had asked the wrong question, pushed too far again, after all these months of letting well enough alone. Started wondering a whole different set of mysteries as she let go of him, as he watched her drop her gaze from his eyes, then turn quietly and lock the door.

----------------

It was only a half step that carried her back to him, still kneeling as he had been but with his hands braced against his thighs, ready to move. She sank into him, sank down with her arms around his neck, settling her weight across his lap, leaning into him. He was so close and his eyes on hers were watchful, almost covering the hunger that he'd never acknowledged.

His hands were at her waist, at her back. They were warm, and shook a little. She remembered he was waiting for an answer. "It's you." Maybe he'd understand. They were both very still. She kissed him.

Felt him kiss her back, slowly, once and again. Her own body was moving, leaning and pressing closer to him. More kisses, still slow, awakening, cautious and fierce.

Mal's hands tightened around her. He was mumbling something haltingly against her mouth, a question. "You want me?" More than one question. Inara heard them, heard each word, heard the sorrowful, bewildered yearning, the terrible loneliness. It grieved her, to hear and in that moment understand how much he had foresaken for this life apart. He thought he'd be alone forever, she realized. He thought no one would ever love him again. -----------------

She wasn't kissing him now - she'd kissed him, that was something not yet to be believed - but passing her eyes across his face. Intense, searching, and when their eyes met again he found hers shining, brimming with emotion and tears. One soft hand touched the side of his face and rested there. Inara tried to smile, blinked the way a woman does when she doesn't want the tears to come. She was breathing and stopping, breathing and stopping, like at this moment it didn't come naturally to her. Time stretched out while she looked at him.

Finally, she spoke. She said his name. "Mal," said his name and her voice pulled him in, he didn't know what to call the tenderness he heard. It seemed difficult for her to get the words out. "Mal." Her eyes were so bright, so full. "Don't you know how much?"

They kissed, and it was as though he was far, far underwater in the cold but surfacing fast, rushing toward the light, toward the air, feeling the deep give him up. Inara tightened her arms around his neck and pulled closer to him, moving a knee to each of his hips, closer yet. The towel was slack in his hands and he pushed it down, craving to touch her skin.

"Take this off, take this off," she gasped as they kissed and she pulled at his shirt. Her hands moved under the material and pushed up, then moved boldly over his skin.

"Inara, I - " Kissing her, trying to think of what would be the right thing or at least not the disastrously wrong thing but she was closer now, pressing against him and the fluffy towel was only half-draped around the curves of her waist and hips. He had something to say but Inara needed warming, her ears and her throat and her breasts and it seemed that this could not wait. Nor could he, possessed of a primal greed for the sound of her, the sounds she made when his hands touched her and his mouth followed.

She had the shirt around his neck then and somehow pulled it free of him. The feel of her, naked against his skin, might have scalded him. He heard her take a breath at the sensation, and the soft, wild, delighted sound she made, eclipsed almost everything else, everything but an inchoate awareness of the pitiless cold wall at his back.

Mal laid a slow kiss on her neck and wrapped his arms around her as if to lift her while he stood. "Think I can get us to your bunk."

Inara kissed him. "No." She shook her head, kissed him again. "Here."

"Here?" He tried not to think of all the places she'd surely been received with ceremony, with luxury. "Inara, I never planned on havin' this be where we - "

"Neither did I." He could hear the smile in her voice as it brushed his ear. "But this just became my favorite place on the ship."

That was something to wonder about - to try to, anyway, while he was learning the endless, fascinating softness of her skin. Pondering the why, in between concentrating on every kiss, every touch, everything she seemed to like. Touching, kissing again, to see if she'd like more.

And she did. She was shining, breathless in his arms as she molded her body to his and whispered his name. Mal had indulged in private speculation that she'd be wickedly seductive, provocative, expertly sultry. That anything between them would be another kind of showdown. Figured he'd lose, but that he'd get over it. Instead, she kissed and touched and held him with the most beguiling, happy sweetness he could imagine. The same sweetness he'd been contenting himself with each day, the merest bits of it, when she'd smile at him, wait for him in the evenings with her fancy red teapot at the galley table and they'd share news about the ship, the journey, about their brave and wounded little family.

And among the brave, she wasn't the least. She'd given River her confidence, moving into the adjacent passenger dorm, choosing each night to sleep only meters from where the girl lay to rest. Mal had seen the gratitude in River's eyes, so many nights when Inara would catch her yawning or staring fixedly into empty air. Inara would smile and stroll with her, arm in arm, to retire for the evening. Just like she might with one of her students, one of her Sisters, with any pretty, sleepy young girl who wasn't an Alliance-corrupted, brain-damaged killing machine.

She'd cried with them and for them, so many nights and mornings and afternoons when suddenly the next moment seemed the one they could not get through, when all that held them to this life was each other's voices, arms, tears. Kept vigil with Zoe, with Kaylee and the doc; hell, he'd even seen her more than once, sitting with a morose and lost-eyed Jayne, pressing her sorrow and fragile strength onto the backs of his frying-pan hands with her clean, gentle fingers.

The words had been his, months ago. She had never spoken them, but in his mind now it was Inara's voice he heard. Love keeps her in the air. In the air, on his ship, when she might have made an easier home on any number of worlds.

She loved them all. And she loved him.

"Here?" Mal asked again, and smoothed a hand over her hair to cradle her face and see what needed seeing. "Darlin', what do you think's likely to happen when we unlock that door? Are you afraid this is all I have for you? That I wouldn't want you by my side and in my bed every night and day?"

Inara kissed him tenderly, drew a breath to answer, but he'd marked the uncertainty in her eyes.

Mal drew her to his side, gliding his hand across her warm bare shoulder, then down to lace her fingers in his. "Guess I've been pretending for a long time that I didn't need to speak truth to you, that there was nothing I needed to ask nor tell." He kissed her brow, closed his eyes for a moment. "That it was enough to carry on as I have been, that if I never tried to keep you I couldn't ever lose you." He watched their joined hands, listened to her breathe for a moment as he thought.

"I been grateful to have you here all these months. But I can't give you my heart, Inara. You already have it, it's been yours for - well, for a good long while."

He heard her, heard something almost an oh! on an indrawn breath. When he looked, her smile was one he'd never seen. Her face was shining, her eyes brimming as she shook her head. "Then it doesn't matter where we are."

And it didn't. None of it mattered, not the tiny room or the faded colors of the towels on the floor. Later, as he'd lifted her to the edge of the sink, she'd smiled, then leaned back toward the mirrors, arching her back and watching him, watching her. She met his eyes and smiled again, let him see her breathe shallowly in and out as for one incendiary moment her eyes lingered provocatively on his naked body. And there it was, the wickedness he'd pondered on, but he'd been wrong; she wasn't one or the other, wicked or sweet; she was both. She was all.

---------------------

Afterward, she held him and he held her, running his hands carefully over her volatile skin.

Mal whispered a question to her temple with a kiss. Felt her nod as her arms tightened around him.

He took a few quiet, wondering moments to absorb her answer while he felt the wings of her eyelashes against his throat as her eyes opened briefly then closed again. When he spoke again, his voice was gentler yet.

"Stay with me tonight."

She nodded, then pressed a kiss over his heart.

COMMENTS

Friday, June 26, 2009 6:40 AM

BYTEMITE


Oh hey! I was wondering if this was a response to Steamed, and then I see you've posted everywhere that it was. Guess I'm not very observant.

Interesting towards the very end, your take that Inara doesn't know the depths of his feelings towards her. I've always kind of assumed that she would, but perhaps, her own feelings and worries might keep her from that realization.

Friday, June 26, 2009 7:20 AM

GILLIANROSE


At the end, what Inara doesn't know is, what is Mal going to do. Not how he feels, but how willing he is to admit those feelings and act on them, if that makes sense.

Friday, June 26, 2009 8:00 AM

BYTEMITE


That's a good perspective, after all, she never HAS been able to predict Mal. :)

I remember a line from another of your stories, about how she despaired about his courage in all things, except his own heart.

Friday, June 26, 2009 12:59 PM

PLATONIST


Oh my, this is the most beautiful piece of Mal and Inara I've read in a long time.

I especially like this,
"Who's the lucky fella?" This was a gamble, he knew. She'd had regulars; men she'd seen for years, men who'd had the chance to learn her ways. Might be the question he didn't want an answer to, finding out she yearned for some wealthy, mannered gentleman twenty worlds away. But she was still here, after all these long months, and he knew it was past time to find out why.

After all this time, he's got to be asking himself that very question. What does she want from this life on board his boat?

Are you continuing from here or the Misfortune?

Friday, June 26, 2009 1:27 PM

GILLIANROSE


Thank you for the lovely compliment!

I intended this to be a one-shot, but congruent with the general ideas I have for post-BDM. I'm still trying to sort that all out.

I have another chapter of the Misfortune about 2/3 drafted, but it's coming along slowly. I'm hoping, hoping to get it finished next month.

Friday, June 26, 2009 4:45 PM

KATESFRIEND


Wow...perfect! Loved the apprehension in Inara's approach to Mal, and the implied pain in Mal when he let her know she already had his heart. Wonderful and unique perspective, and artfully understated. How you managed to bring in a feeling of the rest of the crew all present and accounted for in a fic like this is amazing - and well done! Well worth the wait, and looking forward to more.

Monday, July 6, 2009 1:17 AM

ALIASSE


Okay, I'll admit it. I had to ask Bytemite what the pin was. I was thinking 'why would someone have a dress-making pin in the shower'? Kept re-reading, squinting at the words, getting a sense of what was going on and that it was quite rude, but still stuck on the pin. Anyway, now that Bytemite has so delicately put me straight, I would like to invite everybody to Gillian's official induction into the FFF Hall of Smut (of which I am president). Because this might have had the usual GR tenderness and subtlety, but it was still very very rude indeed. (And yes, that's a good thing.)

Monday, July 6, 2009 1:18 AM

ALIASSE


Oh, and LOVE the title. Very clever.

Monday, July 6, 2009 7:05 AM

GILLIANROSE


Well, thank you! On a ship where our sweet Kaylee is the mistress of all things mechanical, do you think she would neglect to make the shower apparatus as versatile as possible? Charlie and I figured it was a running joke among the women on the crew for a long, long time :) I'll be in the shower :)

I can't claim credit for the title, that was terimaru's brilliant gift.

Monday, July 6, 2009 7:10 AM

GILLIANROSE


I should say, Thank you Madame President! And, should the smutty hand of inspiration tug at you, feel free to write a sequel. Because yes, love, yes, tenderness, yes, a heart awakening after being frozen in grief and pain for so long. Yes. That doesn't mean our Mal is not dying to see exactly what Inara was doing in the shower :)

Monday, July 6, 2009 9:08 AM

ALIASSE


It's been done, mate, and in great style, by hr_musings on lj, where it's part of a Mal-Inara Big Pay-off scenario. Did you ever come across it? - it was called 'Crash Into You'. But she seems to have deleted it. So, I'm not making any promises (I seem to remember now that I haven't delivered on a 'Kaylee Gives Mal a Manicure' fic), but who knows how and when the Smut-Muse will strike?

Monday, July 6, 2009 10:17 AM

GILLIANROSE


That does not ring a bell, and I definitely think I would remember such a story.

Who knows, indeed? But I don't want to distract you from your current series, I'm so eager to find out more! I was thinking about it today, driving around running errands, about how profound a betrayal was committed against Inara. By her doctor, someone she trusted, someone she went to and exposed her vulnerabilities to, her hopes and fears. The doctor who listened, spoke gently, dried her tears, and all the time it was utter betrayal and manipulation!

Monday, July 6, 2009 10:41 AM

ALIASSE


It's a shame she deleted it. It was really good.

As for your description of the doctor - that's going STRAIGHT into the next chapter. (Do you, ahem, beta at all?...)

Monday, July 6, 2009 1:47 PM

GILLIANROSE


Absolutely I beta, especially during summer vacation! Learning the truth about the doctor, I can see that affecting Mal (him knowing how reserved she is in letting herself be known, letting her weaknesses be seen, woe be to that Doctor if he ever crosses paths with Mal, Mal can be very scary!) and Inara, of course, terribly, as you have begun to show in the last chapters. But it also must be nigh intolerable for Simon even to contemplate.

Saturday, July 25, 2009 6:17 AM

CLIOSMUSE


I've been meaning to read this for AGES, and, yes, I finally have, and, yes, it certainly did live up to my expectations. Umm. I have nothing useful or thoughtful to say. Just, yes (which seems to be the refrain of my comment). Yes, I liked.

Saturday, October 8, 2011 6:29 PM

BYTEMITE


Rereading to celebrate!

Heh, I was wrong about the pin.

The discussion of what Inara knows, what she can predict, whether Mal might suspect he's the answer for why Inara still happens to be on his boat. This should spawn another email conversation.

Sunday, October 9, 2011 4:04 PM

GILLIANROSE


Yes, hehe, sometimes subtlety tips over into ambiguous...no worries :)

Thanks for rereading, I reread myself today after your email and oh, how I love these two!

As for what Inara knows, I think she at some point has recognized his devotion for what it is. But she is also mature enough to know that love doesn't cancel out all the other problems a person might have.


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Coming Clean
Post BDM; a response to Thomas Zhang's Steamed;