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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Post-BDM Mal/Inara. More realizations.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1180 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Thanks to Platonist for the idea for the title; and to Bytemite for topnotch beta-ing.
Mal awoke, disoriented. The yurt was in total darkness. Somebody was picking their way over the sleeping bodies towards the yurt’s entrance. Probably going to relieve themselves.
When he had fallen asleep it had been with the sense that both his body and soul had been reawakened: his body by the union with the long-haired woman; and his soul, through that union, to the profound depth of his love for Inara. An impression of Serenity being jumpstarted in space came to him: the Black surrounding her being the morbidity that had consumed him so relentlessly since things had gone to hell with Inara; Serenity being the part of him that did, after all, want to believe that life was worth living.
He would have dismissed any suggestion that his morbidity was unhealthy, abnormal; it had had him so utterly and for so long that he could no longer be aware that his state of mind was one usually only shared by suicides and madmen. And Retrieval Squads.
And though it was impossible to lose the terror that accompanied every mental brush with death, he had become used to it. Not even a dream that he had had where a fully-Reavered Reaver had boomed at him in a hollow baritone, from a deep hole in Serenity’s hull that didn’t exist: “Mr Reynolds! Are you a Reaver?” had led him to properly question what his mind had been trying to force him to confront.
That dream; he dwelt on it now. He had had it just after Inara had left. It had been one of the things that had pounded blackness into his heart; he’d welcomed it, revelled in it, gone to sleep at night thinking it was true, that he was a Reaver.
Then he thought of Nandi, and the night he’d spent with her; and he started to compare what he’d done all those months ago with what had just taken place. And then, just as the sex with the unknown woman had brought him to a full realization of his feelings for Inara, so did the fact that that sex had been a betrayal of her bring home to him how completely he had failed her. Pitilessly the details of that failure paraded through his mind: that she was sick, and he had left her amongst strangers on Pity; that she had sought him out, to draw him back, knowing full well what she would find, and he had abused her as thoroughly as he was able. He did not know which was worse.
The fact that he was lying absolutely still only heightened the sense of panic that gripped him. She would never forgive him…She should never forgive him…
And yet she had to; for the sake of his existence she had to. He began to rehearse in his mind, and then to whisper to himself, the things that he could say to her, stopping only when the person who had left the yurt returned. He had a sense that the first whisper of dawn had entered the yurt as the entrance flap had been pulled back and then closed and fell asleep with the words that had to win Inara back spiralling through his head.
Mal awoke again to the sound and feeling of people moving around, and in and out of, the yurt, and an instant memory of the night just passed: sex, resurrection, betrayal, remorse, and finally a hope-tinged despair.
People were talking. He wanted to crane his head around to see if there was any sign of Tara. It had been Tara, hadn’t it? And how was he going to look her in the eye now that it was daylight and there was work to be done, difficult work, and – well, now that they weren’t having quick, faceless sex in the dark?
At the same time, all the time, he saw Inara’s face and felt the weight of his love for her in his heart.
He looked behind him, to the left, and was greatly relieved to see that River was still sleeping. She was curled up on her side with her back to him. He hoped that the fact that she had not yet woken was a sign of her having slept deeply during the night. Very deeply. Never mind what he had done to Inara: what kind of captain did it make him, when Simon had entrusted the ship’s most vulnerable crew member into his care, and he’d had sex no more than a breath away from her and then cried about –
Stop, said a voice – though without words – deep within him. No more. Not now.
And somehow, perhaps for the first time, the voice stilled the self-hatred that flowed like slick, watery sewage through his mind. In their place he heard Inara’s words: “You can not act as though you are free to play with your life any more. I need you. I need you!”
It had never been Nandi, nor the woman of last night, nor any other woman, who had been a rival for his affections, but death itself, beckoning him away.
But here was another voice, the one that had spoken to him of the certainty of his love for Inara. Hearing it again, he was able to push himself up, to stand and straighten his clothes and, wrapping his coat tightly around him, make his way out of the yurt. Somehow knowing that he loved her, and how much, felt like hope. That was the feeling he’d had, finally, just before he had fallen asleep. He may have lost her, but he loved her, and being connected to her in his feelings for her might mean that, impossible as it seemed, the loss was not irrevocable…
It was very early; he felt the last traces of night in the whitening sky. A metal trestle table had been put up outside the yurt, and a handful of people, all bustled up to the nose against the cold, went to and from it, helping themselves to the contents of a number of food containers. Mal walked the length of the table, glanced inside. Protein. Different colors and shapes, but protein all the same.
Then he saw Tara, at the head of the table, wearing a fur-lined hat. He looked at her quickly, not sure whether to greet her or not. To his horror he blushed deeply. Her cheeks were pink too, where the cold early morning wind bit them, and strands of black hair blew around her face. She looked up, caught sight of him, smiled.
And it would have been downright ungentlemanly to just stand there then, when they’d – well, hell, she’d done all the doing, didn’t know what he had to feel guilty about in relation to her. Only she was standing there nibbling at some protein looking like a little white-skinned, black-haired, pink-cheeked Mongolian doll and it made him feel like he was the one that’d taken advantage of her, that - never mind the enormity of his betrayal of Inara - he needed to straighten some things out with her, like that he’d be leaving as soon as Serenity’s business on Cornelius was done.
Like she was expecting anything different. Jackass.
Only hadn’t he better make sure she wasn’t expecting anything different? But how, exactly, was he going to do that?
For a moment he imagined Inara looking at him, seeing him now and as he was before with the woman on top of him, hating him for his betrayal, scorning him for his dilemma.
He was just about to approach Tara when two things happened: a man called out, “Bolor!” and Tara turned a little in response to the name. The man, jogging up, repeated the name, and Tara turned fully to talk to him.
At first Mal wondered if ‘Bolor’ was a word; but no, he knew when a name was being used. The woman was not Tara. She looked like Tara, but she wasn’t. She was Bolor. He realized he was standing with his mouth hanging open. What the hell was going on?
He shook his head, let out a quick breath, and turned his thoughts to the safest thing he could think of: work. There was protein a-plenty on board Serenity. He’d grab a bar there, speak to Kaylee about harnessing Serenity’s power to get the bicarium chamber going, finish the job, head back to Pity, and Inara. He tried to remember some of the things he’d thought he’d say to her, last night, before he’d slept. He’d repeated them to himself over and over again, hoping he wouldn’t but knowing that he would forget them. It was the words, the right words, that were going to matter. Not that he loved her. What use did she have for that, when it hadn’t stopped him from saying the things he’d said to her?
He was striding towards the ship, deep in thought, when Tara – the real Tara, fur-topped boots but no fur hat – crossed his path in a way that suggested she had no intention of stopping.
“You got a sister called Bolor?” he asked, coming to a stop himself.
“I have,” said Tara, turning towards him with an obliging smile.
“And – er, good morning,” Mal continued. “I should’ve said good morning.”
Tara laughed. “Good morning!”
“I – um, I was going to talk to you, but it wasn’t you, it was Bolor.”
“We always get mistaken for each other.”
“Well – that’s a particular, er, problem for me. Ain’t it?”
“Er, well” – he scratched his head – “You’ll either know what I’m talking about or you won’t” –
“Well. I guess you don’t. I guess – we don’t need to be having this conversation.”
“It was still nice to meet you though!” said Tara, turning to leave.
“Uh – but we – we already met.”
Tara laughed. “Are you sure?”
Using one hand to hold his coat closed against the cold, Mal held up the other palm questioningly. “Yesterday.”
“I’m Saran,” said Tara. “We didn’t meet yesterday. I was filling in pipe trenches about two miles from here.”
“You’re not Tara?”
“No. I’m not Bolor and I’m not Tara. I’m Saran.”
“And you’re – their sister?”
“And how many more of you are there?”
“One more. Bayar.”
Mal paused, considering the implications of this news. “Right.”
While Mal had imagined something like the hardware on Mr Universe's moon, it turned out that the breeze block shed next to the yurt was the bicarium chamber. The Cornelius settlers had already done the hard labor of laying the pipes that would channel the bicarium in its gaseous state to the settlement’s yet-to-be-constructed buildings.
Mal was struggling to attach another pipe, the one that connected Serenity and the chamber, when Tara came in. He was pretty sure it wasn’t Bolor or Saran; that this time it was Tara herself. She got straight down to business and he listened while she explained to him how Serenity’s engine would be linked to the chamber, in order to generate the energy needed to begin the process of converting the bicarium from metal to gas. He stole glances at her while she talked. Her hair was different, he thought: yesterday it had been in one plait, now it was in two. So she’d done her hair this morning. But that didn’t mean anything. How tall had the woman been, who’d climbed on him in the night? He couldn’t tell; and he’d have to see the sisters all lined up to make a judgment about their heights. And wasn’t that a scarifying thought, the four of them all in fur hats and fur boots, looking at him with those little pink-lipped, knowing smiles. That was when it occurred to him that maybe they were all in on it, that maybe they’d planned it.
When Tara had finished her explanation, Mal asked, as casually as he could: “You all scientists?”
“Some of us; also engineers, architects.”
“I mean your sisters.”
“Oh yes. You’ve met them, I hear.” Mal winced inwardly at the thought of them huddled in a circle, laughing.
“Not Bayar. Unless you’re Bayar.”
“I’m Tara,” said Tara, as though Mal was a fool (which he was). “I meant Saran. You talked to Saran earlier on.”
Tara smiled to herself. “She said you said something about having a conversation with her, which you then decided you didn’t need to have.”
“Wonder what that could’ve been about.”
“If I didn’t mention that she’d talked to me, you wouldn’t know that I knew. That you wanted to talk about it. I mean, you do. You did. Didn’t you?”
“Talk about what?”
Tara smiled at him now, knowingly, deliciously, and Mal felt simultaneously a flash of what had happened between them and the world-ending importance of making things right with Inara.
“You’re going back to Pity,” Tara continued. “Today, if we can get the chamber going.”
“That’s the plan.”
“Then there’s nothing to talk about.”
Mal lifted his hands in the barest of shrugs.
“For a man,” Tara went on, “you’re very beautiful.”
Mal opened his eyes very wide and almost squirmed with discomfort as he bent with renewed application to attaching the pipe.
Tara laughed. “That’s my reason. If you wanted to know why.”
He straightened up, bent again, half-straightened; jackass. “Fine. I mean, you’re – very pleasing – to look at” –
“I wasn’t looking for compliments! Just know that I don’t always do – that.”
Mal met her eye. “You got someone?”
Tara’s smile faded a little. “Yes. He’s in prison on Londinium.”
“Huh. That’s tough.”
“Yes. And I don’t like to think of him knowing about it. Though he never will.”
“Got you there.”
“You’ve got someone too?”
“Nope. Screwed up. Only hope it ain’t too late.”
Tara smiled gently now. “Good luck,” she said, before turning to leave the shed.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009 12:18 PM
Tuesday, October 27, 2009 5:22 PM
Tuesday, October 27, 2009 6:19 PM
Wednesday, October 28, 2009 2:43 AM
Wednesday, October 28, 2009 3:33 AM
Wednesday, October 28, 2009 11:17 AM
Thursday, October 29, 2009 5:26 AM
Thursday, October 29, 2009 6:32 AM
Thursday, October 29, 2009 1:10 PM
Friday, October 30, 2009 2:37 PM
Thursday, November 05, 2009 1:00 AM
Thursday, November 05, 2009 2:34 AM
Thursday, November 05, 2009 10:42 AM
Friday, November 06, 2009 1:45 PM
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