Just Might Be
Monday, November 9, 2009

Mal and Inara are a little worse for wear after the crew engages in a drinking game...


Just Might Be by 2x2 Rating: PG Word Count: approx. 1106 Spoilers: Set post BDM Pairing/Characters: Mal/Inara Authors' Note: Written for fireflyfaninnc for her prompt of ‘drunk’. This one turned out a bit longer than expected :o)

He thinks she’s a lightweight, and maybe she is, a little. She’s certainly not used to imbibing these quantities on a regular basis, and most definitely not anything as strong or ‘potent’ as Kaylee’s home brew. And she knows it’s not the wisest course, that she’ll pay for this tomorrow, but nothing short of passing out or dying is going to stop her from playing. Things have been too serious around here of late and she could use the break as much as the rest of them.

River goes down first, once they convince her brother that she's old enough to have some, not used to the effects that don't agree with her at all. Then Kaylee, who’s a happy drunk after five or six rounds, bows out, preferring to stay that way and not get sick. Inara suspects that she's wiser than everyone.

Simon surprises them all, going nearly toe-to-toe with Jayne until he does get sick and withdraws into Kaylee's willing care. Zoe abstains, refusing to drink, though she stays to watch, shaking her head at their foolishness, but smiling.

Inara's not sure, but she swears she sees a look pass from Mal to Jayne, and after the next round the mercenary is calling it a night, leaving just the two of them. She's suspicious – Jayne should be able to out-drink them all, she thinks - but her judgment is not what it should be and so she can't be sure.

The crew gathers around the table, watching with keen albeit drunken interest as Zoe fills two shot glasses and sets one in front of each of them. Lord, how many is this now? Inara wonders. She's lost count, the number of overturned glasses in front of her too blurry to figure it out. The only thing that matters is Mal sitting across from her, a smug look on his face as he lifts his glass with far too much ease, waiting for her to do the same.

Her fingers feel thick and tingly and not entirely there, but she manages, cursing herself for the hangover she knows she's going to be suffering tomorrow. But her damned competitive streak won't let her give this up without a fight, so on the count of three she's downing another, slamming her glass home on the table top a full second before Mal does, grinning triumphantly at the way he's blinking a bit too fast and glaring at her.

Three more rounds and she's slumping over the table, unable to keep her eyelids from drooping, the cool, cold press of the glass against her cheek the only thing that's keeping her in this moment. She has no idea if Mal's still going or not, she can't even see him. She only hears voices, distant and slow-moving through the thickness of the air around her, urging her on. One more, Inara, they say, just one more.

She fumbles with the glass, nearly spilling it, her eyes closed. It seems to take an eternity, but finally she feels the touch of the rim to her lips and the alcohol fills her mouth. She swallows to cheering voices, darkness following the liquid down her throat until blessed unconsciousness is all she knows…

…someday, she'll look back on this and laugh, Inara is sure, but that moment seems a long way off as the evening before is revisited upon her with a vengeance, the cool bowl of the toilet her only comfort as she rests her cheek against it.

She has, at least, the satisfaction of knowing that Mal is faring little better than she is; his groan comes from somewhere on the floor to her right, the two of them cramped in the tiny space the head affords them.

She tries to remember whose idea this was, tries to summon up anger when she remembers it was his, but the effort is too much to spare. Besides, she thinks he might be a saint for holding her hair back for her while she was—She tries not to let the thought finish, but it's too late, and she's leaning over the bowl again, cursing the invention of alcohol, and drinking games, shot glasses…

…when she wakes, she's sprawled on top of him, his neck and collar embarrassingly damp with what must be her drool. She knows nothing's happened. Aside from the fact that they were both far too inebriated to have tried anything, they're still on the floor in the head, barely room for them to lie there let alone for anything else.

"Eugh!" she says in disgust as the thought sinks in and she pushes herself up.

"Was I that bad?" Mal jokes weakly, staring up at her through bleary eyes.

"We're on the floor of the bathroom, Mal," she says, shuddering, trying hard not to think of what Jayne does in here.

"Eugh," he grunts in agreement.

He helps her up, and she helps him, and together they stand, both of them wincing and moaning at the after-effects of last night's indiscretion and the aches that come of sleeping on the cold steel tiles. She's not much impressed with the experience.

"Remind me never to drink again," Mal groans, echoing her thoughts, but he's grinning and it's contagious and soon she is too.

“I feel disgusting!” she says, chastisement in her voice though she can't keep the amusement from creeping in. Somehow she finds it all ridiculous; like it's the funniest thing she's heard in ages. She shakes her head. “Fozu, I need a shower.”

"Yeah, me too," he agrees.

There's a moment of silence as their eyes flick to the shower stall standing, conspicuous, beside them.

"You know," Mal starts, taking a step toward her conspiratorially, "seems to me the whole point of over indulging is to do things you mightn't otherwise."

"The over-indulging is the part I wouldn't otherwise do," she replies.

"Well, sure," he says, nodding sagely, that grin still dancing about his lips. "But seems to me, seein' as how we already done the over-indulging, an how we’re certainly sufferin' the punishment, well.."


"Seems only fair we ought to… take advantage of the situation. As it were."

"And by advantage you mean…" She lets her eyes drift to the shower and then back to him.

He quirks an eyebrow, "Wanna?"…

…there's steam all around her, and water, hot and rhythmic against her shoulders, and his hands, big and strong… And despite it all, despite the vomiting and the dehydration and the headaches she knows she'll suffer for the rest of the day, despite it all she thinks it just might be worth it.


Monday, November 9, 2009 10:01 AM


...Well, statistically speaking, Mal's plans can't ALL be bad. :)

Monday, November 9, 2009 10:57 AM


By which I mean to say 'Go Mal.'

Monday, November 9, 2009 12:47 PM


I was giggling from paragraph 5 onwards. Most enjoyable! And I'm hoping it will inspire a little mini-series a la the shower fics: the most unromantic way that Mal and Inara could get together; and the words 'drool' and 'toilet' have to be used...! :)

Monday, November 9, 2009 3:39 PM


Only in your hands could a hangover and the word "eugh" be considered romantic. Loved this and the after effects. Way to go!

Monday, November 9, 2009 6:41 PM


@fic series: Only, despite unromantic settings, it will of course actually be very romantic, because it is these characters.

Like those pretty lines about Inara in the shower and hands. Sigh inducingly nice.

Monday, November 9, 2009 7:36 PM


*claps hands* I love this! I just hope that they don't get sick all over each other in the shower:)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 2:47 AM


@fic series: That's the challenge - 'drool', 'toilet' etc. but still sigh-inducing. Like here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 5:45 AM


This is fabulous! Oh it made me smile soo big. What a situation. Very well written.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 1:17 AM


You write the post-drinking miserables with such absolute clarity, it makes me wonder, darlin'!

Rereading, I especially love their moment of silence both looking at the shower. I also, of course, how gallant passed-out Mal is, letting passed-out Inara lie on him rather than on the bathroom floor.

I'd lift a glass to this fic but I have it in my mind right now I'll never drink again either...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 5:23 AM


Thanks everyone :o) I'm glad you all found it giggleing, sigh-inducing, eugh-romantic, hand-clapping, big-smiling and sobering worth!! ;oD

Aliasse and Bytemite, I'm looking forward to those challenges ;o)

And to clear up your curiosities, GR, I've been drunk enough to throw up a whole two times in my life. That was enough. One time I was fortunate enough to have a fellow hold my hair, but I've never spent the night passed out on the bathroom floor, thankfully. But I so would with Mal and Inara! ;oD

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 8:43 AM


2X2 that was awesome...made me smile to think of the situation. You hit their voices just perfectly. Thank you.

Saturday, November 14, 2009 5:08 PM


So when do we get the rest of it? :) Mal would make any hangover worth it.


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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.