Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Inara saw how stricken Mal was by the revelation that by keeping her from appointments he had kept her from treatment. Treatment she didn’t need, it turned out. But treatment that she had thought she’d needed. That was in the past, though; she wanted the future to hurry ahead so that it would all be a long time ago.

He was standing by the sink, arms still folded tightly across his chest. He hadn’t moved since Simon and Kaylee had left the room. She rose from the table, stood in front of him.

“They counted on my ambition,” she said. He looked up, looked at her. “They counted on my ambition to be House Priestess, mistook it for a lust for power, as they would. And that’s why they matched me with Michel Chamillart: they thought I must long to be connected to a powerful man. Mal. I was ambitious, and arrogant, and many things that I’m glad I’m not now. And that’s thanks to you.”

He raised his eyebrows a little at that.

“No, don’t you dare dismiss it! Don’t you dare allow your self-hatred to dismiss it! You changed me! Being here, all the troubles we’ve had, it changed me, and it was worth it. It was all worth it.” She lowered her voice, and a tenderness he had never seen filled her face. She lifted a hand to touch the hair that rested on his collar. “For you,” she said. She gazed at him. “For you.”

At that, he had to relent, had to wrap an arm around her waist and bring her gently against him. She planted a kiss on his cheek, kissed the spot with tiny kisses that went on and on. “One day, we’ll talk about the war,” she said, very close to him. “You’ll tell me everything and I’ll make you feel better.”

He looked at her, this very young woman, and wanted to smile at her earnest confidence in her ability to bring healing and relief to others.

“So?” he asked. “This doctor was following you round the Border?”

“No. It wasn’t him. I’d contact him as the date of the appointment approached, let him know where I was going to be, and he’d arrange for a therapist to meet me.”

“Always the same one?”

“No. Different ones.”

“They wanted you for something. Wouldn’t let go.”

“Simon and I talked about it yesterday. The fake illness and treatment could all have been experimental. They were simply keeping their options open. I don’t believe that they would have given up on trying to take over the Houses. Or the Law Raterships, one by one. That was their real interest. Perhaps they saw a part for me in that.”

“They want the colleges too.” He told Inara about the Opprobrium panels.

“Anything with a vestige of independent thought. But what for?”

“Ain’t that the question,” Mal murmured. She could see he was thinking. He took a breath as though to speak; stopped; started again. “Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked then, as though forgetting he had asked her before. “Why didn’t you tell me you were sick?”

Inara hesitated a little: the true answer was complex, and Mal didn’t deal in complexity. Before, she had said that she didn’t want to burden him, and that had been part of it. Now, she continued obliquely with a subject she had already broached. If she presented it to him gradually, in small pieces, perhaps he would be able to digest it.

“Because I didn’t want you to get involved," she said. "Your life was dangerous enough. I knew that you’d want to ‘do something’ and it would only bring more danger down on you, and on the rest of the crew too.”

That reminded Mal of the comment she had made in the early hours of that morning, alluding to his having done something inexcusable. But he couldn’t face probing for clarification he more than likely didn’t want to hear. He changed the subject slightly.

“And what Simon found out, about the needles – what does that amount to? You reckon he can fix it, whatever they’ve done?”

“He needs to know what they’ve administered before he can have an idea of how to undo the damage.”

“What kind of damage?”

Inara looked to the side, pulled away a little. “He used the word ‘cascade’. They used to put the needles in my head and in my spine. He says they’ve caused nerve damage and it’s as though its effects are cascading through my body. That’s why my symptoms keep changing. It’s too random and chaotic to be planned. Look at River.”

Instinctively Mal had curled his hand back around her and touched her spine lightly with his fingertips. “Just can’t see Simon having the know-how or the wherewithal to find out what drug it was.” Inara said nothing. “Find the therapist, find the drug is what I say,” Mal continued quietly. Inara shook her head but he went on. “Crew don’t have to be involved.” That subject, the inexcusable, looming between them again.

“Please, don’t,” said Inara, tension in her voice and her expression.

“Don’t what?”

“Just don’t - do anything.”

“We got to do something.”

“Yes. We can bide our time, wait for a better moment.”

Mal shrugged quickly. “S’what you said about Saffron.”

“Yes, because it’s what normal people do!” Inara’s eyes flew open with alarm when she heard what she had said; Mal pulled back, momentarily shocked. “I mean, it’s what people normally do.”

Mal’s emotions prowled behind an impassive mask. “People that ain’t inexcusable.”

Inara steeled herself and pulled back too. “Don’t.”

“What did you mean? This morning. You had something particular in mind.”

Inara took a deep breath, lowered her voice. “I meant that you are reckless. You are reckless. And that has consequences. For the people around you.”

Mal nodded. “Inexcusable. Consequences.”

Inara held his gaze, said nothing: he wasn’t going to draw her, she was determined. What was gray he would try to make black and white. What she said from the truth of her heart, the heart that loved him but knew all his flaws – he would turn that into an accusation, an indictment that was never meant.

“You can not act as though you are free to play with your life any more. I need you. I need you!”

Her emotions overwhelmed her with a burst of tears, and she turned and hurried from the mess.

She looked for Kaylee, found her quietly closing the door to Simon’s quarters behind her.

“He’s asleep” – Kaylee started to say before Inara fell into her arms, sobbing.

“Oh Kaylee!” She was finding it hard to speak. “It hurt so much! They stuck those needles into me all over, and it hurt so much!”

Kaylee stayed where she was, whispering comforting words to Inara, wondering – and feeling she knew all too well – why Mal wasn’t in her place.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009 10:56 AM


I'm wondering if I've really got across my 'Mal's a touch inadequate' point enough. Or perhaps it could do with another chapter? :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009 11:11 AM


I like what you're doing, and yeah, I think I got it. Mal's still focused on him, his fears. And that's just very him in this situation. He's trying to be supportive and comforting, but he's not very used to that. :)

I also like how you've set up for that the Guild (or whoever is controlling the guild, betta korski, and other parts of the Alliance) might still want Inara for something.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009 9:41 PM


Interesting relationship developments in this chapter, and Mal would never not stop looking for answers and maybe that's why she couldn't tell him.

I like this approach, also, it's very layered and insightful in regards to Inara's fears of losing Mal before she dies. She wouldn't have much to live for if he was gone.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 4:36 AM


Hmm. She wouldn't?

She'd miss him terribly, and have a lot of regrets if he were to die...

Do you mean her disease, in that if Mal were to die, she'd have no one pushing her to look for treatment, to look for the truth? If she got tired of living with her disease, and Mal wasn't there, I suppose she might just let herself go. She might even have committed herself to that path after the movie Serenity, just to be with him.

But absent the disease, I'm not sure I agree that without Mal she'd have nothing to live for. If she lost Mal, and had to move on, she might feel like her life is unfulfilled, because she'd probably leave Serenity and contract with some rich guy she likes as a friend. She could be happy or at least content without Mal.

Now, I'm not sure Mal can be happy without HER...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 5:45 AM


I dunno... I was looking through the Inara dying lens from what we see in canon, especially in Better Days. One would have to come to the conclusion that she is focused and fixated on Mal.
And she needs him alive and well so she can live. He's as much as a beacon for her as she is for him. I see the need in both of them.
Inara and a rich long term client...hmm, duty over desire, loveless life, not very fulfilling in the long run because it wouldn't be Mal or real. I think she'd live out her days teaching and writing, maybe traveling as a representative of the Guild, or councilor to a governing board.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 5:56 AM


Obviously, if Mal was still a possibility, she'd choose him... Eventually. We hope.

My scenario was more in the event where being with Mal just isn't possible. Either Mal dies, or everything goes to so many pieces that nothing can be pieced back together. A really awful fallout/break-up kind of thing. Which could happen, as good as the relationship would be for both of them, there's no denying that it would be a troubled one, too.

I'm just saying, I think Inara could move on. You might be right in that she chooses to remain alone, that's how I kind of see Zoe post movie. But she might also look for comfort in a new life with someone she doesn't care as deeply for, but who she at least enjoys the company of so she's not lonely.

I agree with you though, about her needing him to live, considering the disease thing. Maybe she needs him to REALLY live if you factor out the illness as well, but I don't quite think she couldn't live without him.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 7:03 AM


The thing is, I like what you're saying and on some level I think you're right. I'm not exactly sure where my disagreement is, or why that's my immediate reaction.

Here's one I'm going to pose to you, and anyone else who'd like to comment. WOULD Inara really be able to live without Mal? Would Mal not be able to live without Inara?

I noticed that I'm assuming Mal wouldn't be able to as much as I'm assuming Inara WOULD be able to. And yet, I think of them both as equals, so shouldn't both of them be able to live equally with or without the other, whatever the case might be?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 8:39 AM


Reading your comments, I think about the death of Buffy's mother. It was for a reason. We know that Joss is not afraid of character death (!), but I can't see that there is a reason for Mal or Inara dying, in terms of what it would mean for the other as a character. Mal is on the other side of what her mother's death meant for Buffy - he's suffered everything already. Firefly is so much about his return from a sort of living death. He knows that Inara can do that for him. (And boy, does that process of coming back to life hurt. As in Buffy.) As for Mal dying, in terms of it developing Inara: of course Firefly just isn't Inara-centric like that. It's about Mal, and Inara is a character in his drama. Mal dying would be the end of Firefly.

I don't think it would be the end of Inara, maybe just because (assuming she gets over her illness, no matter how you conceive it) she's so young. Her relationship with Mal would shape her forever, but there would have to be someone else. And she would have learned so much from loving him that she could take elsewhere. That makes me think that she'd be more likely to seek out another love than retreat into a sort of marriage of convenience. With someone who, let's face it, would be a little easier on her than Mal has been.

But then, I am trying to show in this series that she needs him too: not just to overcome her illness in a literal sense, but also to come to life in her own way. So, I guess I'm saying I agree with Platonist, that they are both a beacon for each other.

P.S. Thanks for commenting ladeez.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 9:39 AM


Platonist brought this idea up when we were talking this over further in PMs. Since I'm not the one busy painting my house, I thought I might introduce it to this discussion.

She asked me if I thought that Inara would ever be able to feel as strongly about someone who was not Mal.

Everyone's first, from what I hear (haven't had that experience), is something. Few people really end up with their first, though, and often end up with someone they connect with better and who is more suitable later on.

Yet in Mal and Inara's case, I think they must have a particularly strong connection to even have overcome all the issues/obstacles/disagreement between them. Because their first real relationship would be harder than with any other, I think the connection and feeling must be greater to compensate.

So, while both of them, in the event of losing the other, would likely try to move on, pretend like what they had really wasn't so significant, and try to be with other people... Ultimately I thing those attempts at relationships would fail, because they would be comparing that relationship to what they had.

Example: What if Nandi had lived, and Inara died?

Just wouldn't work.

So perhaps eventually, they would choose to remain unattached, rather lead on someone they would never feel as strongly for.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 11:03 AM


Read this one to find out why Nandi and Mal don't work, even if Inara doesn't die,

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 12:43 PM


I wanted to take a minute and send a quick thought or two, I have read this 3 or 4 times and it's very interesting. Very interesting to see Inara comfort Mal, take a proactive stance, be the strong one, trying to protect him from his own miserable thoughts, trying to protect their relationship. This, coming as she's just found out about some very profound violations of her body and her trust...was she compartmentalizing there, mentally telling herself not to think about it so she could reach out to Mal? Because her falling apart in Kaylee's arms was so sudden - it rang very true, though.

And I like the continuing ambiguity of the "inexcusable" remark. "Normal people:" I think Mal is well aware that he is not normal, but how likely is it that he wants to talk about it? Nice little part there.

Thursday, July 9, 2009 1:41 AM


Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Gillian. I think that putting side her own needs (or 'compartmentalizing' indeed) is as instinctive and necessary for Inara as breathing. It will be part of her growth that she will have to learn to do otherwise. I don't think that she sought Kaylee knowing that she was going to fall apart, or that it would be about the pain she had suffered rather than the scene that's just taken place with Mal. Rather that Kaylee's constant, feminine kindness and understanding brought it all out in an unbidden rush.

Mal knows what's up: he knows what the 'inexcusable thing' is, he just can't face it yet (Inara IS feeding it to him in bite-sized pieces). And it is a big thing, an enormous thing, the thing that's central to whether he can change, and be actually able to help Inara without getting himself or other people killed, or not. So I think he would be distracted by it, to say the least.

Thursday, July 9, 2009 1:44 AM


Byte, I think Inara dying would be the end of Mal. I think that it would eradicate what's left of his - not hope, that's gone - but his ability to carry on without hope. He's not the kind of guy who would turn to drink or drugs as a means of destroying himself but he would put himself in the way of all sorts of harm until finally his luck ran out.

Thursday, July 9, 2009 7:00 PM


I actually agree, and that's something that... Well, you'll probably see soon enough.

Inherent in my comments about Mal moving on is the assumption that Mal actually lives long enough.


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Inara's and Mal's paths converge.

Mal recovers.

Further apart, still together
Mal's journey begins.

Farewell Part II
The 'Verse turns, Serenity's people move off on different paths.

Farewell Part I

No ship to fuel, no crew to feed, no job to chase
Mal gets ready to move on.

Previously on Aliasse's Firefly Fan Fic Series.....
Self-important, moi?

Fight. Flight.
Next in this Mal/Inara saga. Inara breaks away. Follows 'Connection'.

Mal re-enters the human race. Short update.

Mal and Inara talk. Next in series.