Do you know what a Grizwald is?
Friday, May 14, 2010

Post-Serenity, Mal, Inara, fruit, contemplation. 2x2 made me do it.


-------------------------------- Do you know what a Grizwald is? --------------------------------

They started talking again, which was the beginning of it.

After Zoe went, and all of him was an open wound, more than what he'd ever fancied pain, there had been a long stretch of black nothing to his mind. All that ashen anger of before stopped looming so large, betrayed trust and everything. It had no weight anymore.

He honestly remembered very little of that time between then and now.

When he came out at the end of a foggy tunnel, he weren't mad no longer. At nothing. Because he was not angry at Zoe and her slinking away unrepenting, and if there was no anger for this, there was none for anything. It was just a choice she made, after some years of life. Some conclusion she had drawn for herself, that wasn't about him.

And it wasn't his own conclusion, he'd slowly encroached on comprehending. The something ahead that Zoe hadn't seen anymore, it was still there for him, no matter how uncalled for. Stunned, he was by that. Fiercely.

So when slow and muffled the world had started leaking into him again, he'd looked at his crew and found them still there, a dusty collection of family, and he'd been letting himself feel that. In small doses. Tapping ahead.

And he still stole for a living, and things went sort of on. But he viewed it all new.

Inara, he had at some point come to notice with a conscious sensation, was still there with the rest of them. Still the woman who'd said no and then said yes and then took comfort in less unforgiving arms and was so so sorry for it. That whore.

Still there, still Inara. Solid and light-footed.

She'd been blandly commenting at his latest job when he was fading back into reality one of those times and smelled tea and felt table wood under his hands, and he'd replied all calm and alert and that had been when they started talking again. Climbing out of a roadside ditch they had been in. They could be in the galley now and stir things, or read. Or be out walking. Together. No fuss.

No fuss but for the low burn that would never not be there. Their newfound talking ways did not stray in that direction, though, so it lived there again. That warm cloud between them. Lived there and grew and tugged.

Maybe it was all that mellow breeze and the flowers that hurried their scent along with it but that unsettling cloud felt acute at this particular moment.

He'd carried boxes of fertilizer all day, rubber boots, rope and shovels. Terribly optimistic things to deliver to farming folk on Newhall. Crew was feasting with the locals and he'd come to fetch her, only she'd gone and wandered off among the random greenery.

Hennessy's orchard, if a haphazard field of scrawny fruit trees could bear the name without jest, graced the left of Serenity's landing spot, spread all out as an ecological paradise with all manner of bees buzzing and ladders leaning insecurely.

And Inara stood in it, contemplating one of them trees what held round and dangerous fruit.

One of his boots rested on the ramp, the other in the dirt. She wore green, like she was trying to blend in. Stared at apples like he was staring at her.

It was all of it bathed in orange light. He was caught in a painting, he felt, unable to move ever at all, 'till the end of time trapped in vibrant color.

Inara wasn't, though. She moved. One of her hands, in particular, up to one of the branches on which hung a rare round specimen. Just pulled it off, without any strength.

Woman picking fruit.

There was something about it that sent a shiver down his spine, no heed paid to the warm air. A curious sensation of dread and certainty. He knew she was going to take a bite, saw it happen before it did, and then leaned back in his mind to watch it again, the red apple being lifted and the movement of her jaw. He blinked when she sank in her teeth, started breathing again when she lowered the fruit, licking juice off her lips.

Don't you know you shouldn't pick fruit off strangers' trees, he wanted to ask her. Untold trouble on the end of that path.

But he didn't. All that came out was "Wei."

Nothing to be wary of. She, chewing apple bits, merely turned. Wordless as a tree herself.

She was looking at him. All over him, like there was something new and fuzzy for her here, too.

He didn' t move a muscle, so as to preserve the painting of it. Or he tried long as he could. His hand twitched up eventually, some unthought direction of a gesture not fully formed, but that same moment, Inara took to motion.

Very precise steps she walked toward him, along a short dust path, green dress trailing in dirt and squinting her eyes against the sunset. She kept him all in her sight and held the red apple in her hand. There was some purpose in her eyes.

"I came to fetch you," he blurted. For want of better nerves. She carried with her that cloud between them that they had not been touching on mutual silent agreement.

"I know," she nodded. But she proceeded to stare into his eyes after she said the words, and for the greater nearness he could see the flush in her cheeks and the hesitation. He was inevitably trapped.

"There is something I want." Brittle voice, hers. She shook her head. "No, that's not.. there is something I will do. And I'm not going to regret it, no matter what you do."

No matter what he did... Had her hands extended to enter his sternum and surround with her fingers his wet, busy heart, she would not have been met with resistance. He could hear the beat of said heart better than he could her.

There was nothing trustworthy about words at this point, so he spoke not and tried to give permission with his eyes to do as she must, and again he saw before it happened how her apple-less hand rose to his face and tilted him to suit her purpose. Tasted before he did, the apple on her lips and on her tongue. And then felt it again.

A short but unmistakable kiss. Terribly, terribly familiar.

His eyes were closed and opened again to a smile she tried not to hide. She had looked at him like this before, after just such a kiss.

It was an old, harsh ache, and it burned in his newly open skin. "Inara."

"I just want you to think about it." Certain. Unapologetic. Foolish.

She had stayed. They were friends, just about. What heavy weight against the temerity of impulse. But he would. Think about it. He already was. He couldn't not, trapped by her eyes.

She took his hand and deposited inside it the apple that was still lingering on his tongue. The bite, where is was missing, leaked wet against his palm. "Finish this", she whispered into the cloud between them. "It's good."

I don't have a knife, he didn't say. Because her fingers stayed wrapped around his for further moments and he let the sensation imprint on him while she turned her face toward the world behind him,stepped around him and walked away to ever fading dry dust under her thin shoes.

He did not watch her because he was watching the apple in his hand.

A red and sweet apple. Born and raised no further than a stone throw from the spot he was rooted to now.

Nothing depraved about it, nor threatening nor forbidden.

Nothing but the memory of pain.

He swallowed and felt clean saliva.

It took more than one try to just lift the red fruit, white flesh up to his mouth. Once it was up against his lips, he let the motion flow. Took a big bite. Almost too big. It was awkward to chew.

He chewed, though, and contemplated the cavern of missing apple chunk that remained. White, weeping sugary liquid, glistening in the last clinging rays of sun. He swallowed. Felt strangely unharmed.

A nod, another bite.

He ate the entire thing with a methodical sense of mission, until the narrow remains were fit for nothing but dropping into the dirt near his feet and he could satisfactorily wipe his hands on his shirt.

They were sticky. A bit of peel clung stubbornly between two teeth. He smiled, though, at himself.

It faded, when he thought of Zoe. Then it returned.

He watched the stars come to life over the scrawny trees.

He thought about Inara. Seducing him with apples, maybe. Or healing his terrible mind with vitamins.

It was a little bit silly.

He felt momentarily free, though, and happy. Something lay ahead. Maybe a lot.





Friday, May 14, 2010 6:01 AM


Powerful and haunting imagery. I loved how Mal slowly came back to reality after a terrible emotional shock. The evocative images of the apple said so much on so many levels. Wow.

Friday, May 14, 2010 6:09 AM


Happy, happy, happy sigh!!!

Beautiful. Simply beautiful. I love your imagery, your descriptions, this line so much: "I just want you to think about it." Certain. Unapologetic. Foolish. <3's

There is nothing quite like Rouka!fic, it is SO good to read some again! I bask! :oD

I love the idea of being caught in a painting, all bathed in orange(!) light (my favourite!!!) Woman picking fruit. It makes me think of one of my favourite paintings ever, Monet's Woman with Parasol and now I totally want an impressionist painting of Inara picking an apple!

I love Inara walking to him with intent, set to do what she is about to do, and as I said on LJ, about Mal eating that apple without his knife, what that represents, wonderfully done, darlin'!

And also, you have vitamins in there, of which I know you have great love ;oD

Blame me all you want, I bask in your reflected glory! :oD Brava!

Friday, May 14, 2010 6:30 AM


My favourite part is actually the first little bit, with Mal stumbling around numbly after Zoe leaves and going through the motions of every day life. Distant and distracted and not talking to anyone while his mind is struggling to understand why, to cope with the shock of being abandoned by his closest friend. And then, when he starts to understand, and "the world starts leaking back in."

Just how he's in a daze for an indeterminant amount of time. And I also like the suggestion about how his REALITY changes, like the reality he'd been drifting through before all angry wasn't reality either, but maybe some kind of miserable prison he'd constructed for himself.

I'm also really curious about how it sounds like he and Inara got together, then Inara got scared and went to someone else. And then Zoe left. No wonder he was so affected.

Friday, May 14, 2010 7:16 AM


Yes, I was wondering about that too! So much going on in this, so much to think about!

Friday, May 14, 2010 7:38 AM


Awww, you are all too sweet.

Katesfriend, yes, I tried for levels. I love levels unhealthily. I'm glad they came through!

2x2, I hadn't even thought about the orange connection, but now that I think of it, your painterly eye might be prone to enjoying this one more than I even intended, hehe. Glad you like it!

Byte, the beginning really took me the longest. I knew once I arrived there, the orchard part would write itself, but the beginning I had to construct and retranslate from the images several times because Mal's set of mind kept shifting. This was the way it made the most sense, in the end. I really like your take on the concept of reality!

Thank you all for the friendly words!

Friday, May 14, 2010 2:45 PM


Adam and Eve reference?

Neat and smart things come together.

Friday, May 14, 2010 6:31 PM


I'm one of those rare fans who likes to read about Mal after Zoe leaves. As shocking as it may be at first for him, it can’t be healthy for anyone to continue to live in the past; especially when that past is filled with dark memories and images so this works for me on a multitude of levels.

Love the running symbol of the apple as possibly something new and fruitful between Mal and Inara, but still rather a cautious proposition with Mal because of what the past dictates as the rule of apple eating.

Inara, steps forward, breaks the obsolete rule by not only eating the apple before cutting, but by kissing him, too, love the subtle challenge in that.

And, the way you’ve portrayed Inara here, as staying, solid and steady and dare I say waiting for him to realize the potential of a relationship without completely sacrificing who she is, but maybe willing to compromise, to meet him half way.

Okay, I’ve gone on enough…thanks for posting.

Saturday, May 15, 2010 10:58 AM


Pretty language! Fanfic this good deserves more than fumbling, if enthusiastic, praise.

I really liked your shut down, numbed Mal. A shame that that faithless skank had to make him live again. ;)

Saturday, May 15, 2010 12:34 PM


Just beautiful: poetic and very subtly erotic.

'that wasn't about him' - *loud cheers and sounds of cannons being fired* Hooray! Mal has grown up a bit!

'Solid and light-footed'. I know how much you love Inara, it's lovely to see her depicted through your eyes.

He doesn't just take a bite; he eats the whole thing. This bodes well for them, I think.

Sunday, May 16, 2010 8:48 AM


Platonist, I think there is a surprisingly large group of people who share your feelings about Zoe leaving, me on top of that list. Progress, is what I call for. Progress!

Mincingbeast, she's such a no-good, sleazy strumpet, isn't she? All breaking his heart and clawing for it once again, to try for happiness? Selfish, selfish, selfish.

Aliasse, ooh erotic. High praise from you! Inara is just so lovable. Not enough people realize that. *le sigh* I wanted something optimistic for them, yes.

All of you - thaaaaaanks. :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010 1:14 PM


I'm sorry to be late in commenting - I've read this several times and it's gorgeous, thank you so much for writing it and posting it! I love the gradualness and suprise of his state at first, where he's living in rage and pain but around him (and within him though unnoticed, maybe undetectable) life is going on, and after a while he has these - maybe fractal - moments and realizations. Not neat, not linear.

I'm still marvelling at the strength it must have taken for Inara to stay during this time. You hint at things having gone so, so wrong - and yet there she is, carrying on, bringing some normalcy to life for her family? All the little details about the earthiness (Earthiness) of her here are such a delight. And Mal, coming back to life in fits and starts (one boot on the ramp, the other in the dirt - beautiful!). In a garden, which delights me :)

Your language throughout is such a treat, sweetie!

And I also like the Zoe-moving-on aspect. How can they be alive if they are forever stagnant?


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