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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE
Sequel to "As Dreams Are Made On."
In the morning, Mal has to come to terms with what happened the night before.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 4047 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
As promised, the immediate follow-up to "Dreams." http://www.fireflyfans.net/bluesun.aspx?bid=3317
Rated R for mature content.
The usual disclaimers apply. No archiving, please.
Malcolm Reynolds was thinking unaccustomed thoughts.
His body was trying to tell him that thinking was highly overrated, 'specially under these circumstances, so he should just relax and enjoy the moment. Breathe deep, while all those hot little jolts of pleasure firing along every nerve fused into one very nice, all-over warm tingle. No thinking required.
Remembering was kinda nice, though....
He had felt the bed shift beneath him, and came awake with a start looking around wildly before he recalled where he was and why. "What? What's wrong?"
At some point in the night one of them must have roused enough to pull the covers up, for Inara was slipping down under them by his side. "Shh, Mal, it's all right," she assured him. "I just had to get up for a minute. Go back to sleep."
Which was a good idea, except eventually he was going to have to get up and leave, to at least try and start the day with some appearance of normality. "Wha-what time is it?" he asked through a huge yawn.
"It's early yet," she said, gently stroking his arm. "Just past five."
Early enough, but not so much that someone might be stirring--Wash checking the helm settings, Kaylee in the mood for some tinkering. Not that either one of them would show much surprise to find him roaming about, but even so--
He threw the covers back. "Maybe I oughta think about--"
"Mal." Her voice was full of patient amusement. He hadn't turned the lamp all the way down earlier so there was just enough light to see the tiny smile on her face. "It's all right. I opened the comm lines and listened for a minute. No one's up as far as I could tell. Don't go yet."
She was asking calmly enough, but in her eyes there was a desperate pleading--she wasn't ready to be alone, not after all they'd said and done through the dark night.
He wasn't ready to leave her, not at this moment. "Day's gotta start sooner or later, sweetheart," he reminded her, "but it can wait a mite longer...."
Her eyes went all soft when he called her sweetheart, and the little smile blossomed with such delight that he had to kiss those pretty lips.
She had kissed him back with a fervor which surprised them both.
So there had been more kissing. Which had led to touching. Which, despite his warning earlier about not rushing into certain things, proceeded awfully quick to a divesting of clothes. Then there was a whole lot more touching in ways and places they hadn't indulged in previously. Lips leaving moist trails along fevered skin, fingers searching out sensitive areas.
She went all shuddery when he kissed the back of her right knee. He about died when she gently licked the thin line of scar tissue on his left ear. There was more exploration, accompanied by soft sighs and whispers of encouragement.
There was heat and sweat and louder sounds neither of them could contain. There was one breathless, heart-stopping moment when they paused, just looking at each other with awe and a little trepidation.
Then there was a joining, hot and quick, their bodies locked together as they moved in the age-old rhythm. Inara whispered his name over and over, like she was praying, and Mal hadn't ever felt so alive, so full of glory and power. Her body shook, just like before when he'd thought she was going to break apart in his arms. When he held her tight and spoke her name, the glory took them both and they shattered together....
All he wanted was to hold on to that, like his body was telling him to, but those heavy thoughts were intent on pushing the memory to the back of his mind, demanding he stop and think about something very important.
There was something strange going on inside him, a kind of joyful sadness. It was making his chest hurt and his head spin, but it felt--good. Different. Why was it all so different?
Love, you jackass, a voice whispered deep inside him. This woman loves you, and you love her. You knew that, you knew it for damn sure when she called you back last night and you turned around and stayed. If you can't wrap your thick head around that notion, then you got no right to be lying here holding her in your arms like you're afraid to let go. Love makes the difference--it's gonna make things different for the rest of your life. So get used to it.
Inara sighed deeply, moving against him languorously. She put her hand over his heart, like she'd done before. Claiming him for her own.
He felt himself smiling so hard his face hurt. Yeah, he could get used to this.
Then one last weighty thought dropped into his brain, cold and sudden, crashing right down through to his chest so hard that for a second he couldn't breathe.
This wasn't going to be easy. He had known that last night when he'd made the choice to stay. He'd said as much before they'd gone to sleep.
Shipboard romances complicate things--his own words come back to haunt him. Love made everything different--and life on Serenity was already complicated enough.
They would talk it all out, he had promised her.
Where the hell were they going to start?
Inara stirred again. Her hand on his chest pressed down suddenly against his heart, for she had to feel it hammering. She raised her head, eyes wide with concern as she looked at him. "Mal--"
Whatever she saw on his face sent her quickly upright, leaning over him anxiously. "Xin gan, what is it?" She began stroking his forehead, trying to soothe him. "What's the matter?"
Her body was still aglow from their lovemaking, but all Mal could see now was the alarm and worry clouding her face. He caught her hand in his, pushing himself up so they were eye to eye. "Inara--" His throat tightened up and he had to try again. "Inara, we gotta talk."
She turned away, her lips set into a tight little line. "I know," she finally said, squeezing his hand. Then she let go, slipping out of the bed hurriedly. "I think that's why I--why we let it happen." He heard her sigh. "We were trying to delay the inevitable."
With quick, nervous movements, she fetched her robe and put it on, then sat at her dressing table, her back to him and her eyes downcast. "Everything's different now," she said softly.
Her echo of his own thoughts stabbed clean through him. Mal quickly slid his legs off the bed, found his pants on the floor and put them on. After a couple of deep, steadying breaths he walked over and sat beside her, facing the other way so they weren't quite looking at each other. Inara sat quietly, but he could feel the tension in her, thrumming like Serenity's engines strained to the limit.
Just as bad as what he was feeling himself. There was one thing he had to ask, that he had to know before they dealt with anything else. He ached to touch her, but kept his hands locked together firmly on his knees.
"You got--regrets?" he asked, the words burning his throat like acid as he stared into the distance.
She made a little noise of surprise as her head came up sharply. "About--about last night? For what happened just now? Oh God, Mal--no. Not ever." She eased closer to him, so their shoulders were just touching. "I'm sorry for all the--playing," she confessed softly. "For all the games, all the lies. All the misery and pain we put each other through--" Her breath caught over a tiny sob as she put a hand to her head, unable to go on.
Dah bien! The guilt over that would be weighing them both down for a long time to come, keeping them wary and skittish of each other even as they grew closer, making all the other complications they faced seem like nothing. He felt an overwhelming surge of bitter frustration clamping down on his heart, but damn if he was going to let it drive them apart now--
He unclenched his aching hands and gently laid one on Inara's arm. "Seems to me that burden will be a whole lot lighter if we're carrying it together."
She sighed, and as he felt some of the tension drain out of her his own pain eased a little. "It will," she agreed. "But neither of us is very good at compromise, Mal."
"I know. Though it appears we're making a fairly good start at learning how." Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the start of a smile, which went a long way toward making him feel better. "But as much as we need to spend the rest of the day getting ourselves some more schooling--" With great reluctance, he got to his feet.
Inara turned to watch as he found the rest of his clothes. "I know," she said, picking up her brush and running it through her hair, trying to emulate his deliberate casualness. "In here, it's just--us. There's a whole other world out there--" she waved the brush to indicate the rest of Serenity--"that we have to deal with."
Mal finished dressing and stood still for a moment. "Do we know how we want to--play things?" he asked.
"You mean--with the others?" She tilted her head to one side, pondering. "Somehow, I don't think a formal announcement would be appropriate."
He tried not to frown. Fine--he could see she was joking 'cause she was nervous, but still--
She had the grace to look chagrined. "I'm sorry. Do you have any idea what we should do?"
"Well--" He scratched his head, trying to think. "Aw, hell--I got nothing. Maybe we just oughta act like nothing much has changed. Let it slide till we got things more settled in our own minds."
"But--we wouldn't be able to keep that up for more than a few days," she protested. "Heaven knows what River might be able to pick up from either of us, or if anyone would be able to fathom what she means if she even says anything. And it will certainly raise suspicions if I've suddenly stopped pestering you to take the ship to a decent planet where I can find--" She broke off, her cheeks going red as she put a hand to her mouth.
Mal felt the pressure in his chest tighten again. Except for one tense moment last night, that was the issue they'd still been dancing around. Of all the choices, all the changes--that prospect was the most daunting. "I--I expect that's gonna be complicated for you," he managed to say.
Inara nodded slowly. "Yes. There are--protocols, and procedures. I have to--play by the rules, and it's going to take time..."
An irrational surge of jealousy shot through him. "So--that means you... that officially, you're still--" He couldn't finish.
"Oh, Mal--" She leapt up and hurried to his side, taking his hand as she smiled in reassurance. "Long before you locked that door last night, you had lost your 'ambassador.' So from now on, you're going to have to rely on your own unique charms to get landing clearance on some worlds."
"Oh." He smiled back, trying not to let the full extent of his relief and joy show. Perhaps far back in his mind he had suspected as much for a long while, which might explain why he'd treated her so unfairly in the past weeks, looking to protect his own turbulent emotions. And why, despite her constant complaining, she'd never carried out her threats to leave Serenity....
"Well, then," he said, "guess that means you're just one of the crew now. As captain, I'll have to figure some way for you to earn your--ow!"
She had his hand twisted back at a painful angle, glaring at him. "I have more than enough valuable skills to offer this ship and crew that don't involve keeping arrogant, pigheaded captains satisfied," she informed him icily before loosening her grip.
Mortified, he took a step back, shaking his wrist. "Gorramit, I did not mean--I just--"
Inara bit her lip nervously, realizing she had overreacted. "You--you were just being you," she conceded.
No way to argue that. "I'm sorry," he muttered, staring down at the floor.
"Me too," she said, holding her hand out to him shyly.
After an awkward pause he took it. They moved together in a comforting embrace, which Mal broke off reluctantly after only a few seconds. "I have to go."
"I know. Serenity needs her captain."
They were still holding hands, not quite looking at each other. He couldn't make himself move. "We'll talk, later. Whenever."
"Yes, there'll be--talking."
There had to be words he could leave her with, that would let him leave her. "We'll get through this," he promised. "It'll be tough, ain't no denying it, but we'll do it."
Eyes shining, she nodded, although she wasn't letting go of his hands.
A captain had to be strong. A captain had to be steely. A captain always had to know the right words.
Malcolm Reynolds looked into his heart and found them.
He took Inara gently by the shoulders. "You said everything was different. You know why?"
And before she could find her own answer, he put his hand over her heart, kissed her tenderly on the forehead and gave her his. "Love."
Then he was able to walk away from her. He triggered the lock, opened the shuttle door, then for one moment lost his steeliness and glanced back.
The radiant smile on Inara's beautiful face as she watched him leave was all he needed to send him on out to face the day.
Thursday, March 31, 2005 6:18 AM
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Thursday, March 31, 2005 7:49 AM
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