Choices - Part 1
Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Is Inara making the right choice? Could leaving be any harder? (Mal and Inara angst)


Choices Part 1 by 2x2

Serenity was silent as Inara slowly made her way through the corridors leading to her shuttle, relieved she’d managed to get back on board without running into Mal and being forced into yet another confrontation about her leaving. Everyone else was off-ship for a few hours, with the exception of the Captain, who’d opted to stay on Serenity to do whatever ‘Captainy’ things he felt he needed to do. She’d been avoiding him, and she knew it, though no more than he’d been avoiding her lately.

Except when he wanted to trade insults in his clumsy way of trying to make her stay.

She sighed, letting her fingers linger on Serenity’s sloping hull. How could she have let things go so far? She should have had more control, remained distant, not become attached; then it wouldn’t hurt so much - leaving. But then, it wouldn’t matter one way or the other if she didn’t care, would it?


It was the attachments – the attachment – that was forcing her to leave, before she wasn’t able to. But it was far too late to be thinking of that now. She had to leave, and the less she had to see of him before she did, the less chance there was that he would change her mind and she would never get away.

Light spilled into the corridor from her obviously open shuttle door and she pressed her lips together in irritation. There was only one person on board Serenity other than herself, and only one person who would dare enter her shuttle without her permission, damn him. His name and a curse were on the tip of her tongue as she was about to step through the hatch, but she stopped in silent shock when she saw him.

He was seated on her couch, head bowed against his fists, one of her silk scarves clenched tightly between them. His shoulders shook silently and she was horror-struck to realize he was crying. She blinked in distressed astonishment, pulling back into the shadows of the hatchway, unwilling to intrude on such a personal moment, regardless of whether he was in her shuttle uninvited or not. She had never seen him cry, had never heard of him having done so.

The thought that she had driven him to, was an agony.

Abruptly he stood and she slid further into the shadows of the corridor, careful to remain unobserved as he drew in a deep, shuddering breath.

“Just get them fool notions out of your head right now,” he said, and for a panicked moment she thought he was talking to her, but when he continued she realized he was speaking only to himself. “You can’t have her, and she don’t want you anyway. ‘Got no use for a…” His voice cracked and he drew a hand over his face. “A gorram petty thief likes of you…” He nodded, echoing his words. “Gorram petty thief.”

Inara felt her chest constrict at the pain she heard in his voice, never truly realizing until now the depth to which she’d wounded him with those careless words. She watched him pace the floor of her shuttle, her eyes swimming as he ran a rough hand through his untamable hair.

“You ain’t never been good enough for her, and you won’t never be,” he told himself harshly. He shook his head with a sigh. “She don’t belong here. Not her world… No world, no life for her.” He stopped pacing and sighed deeply again, staring at the scarf he still held in his hands. “She ain’t yours. You gotta let her go.” She could see him trembling as he squeezed his eyes shut and she held her breath, not sure what she was waiting for but unable to resist the tension she could feel in the air. An anguished sound escaped him and Inara had to fight with every bit of her training not to go to him, to comfort him and tell him it was all a mistake, that she wasn’t leaving, would never leave him… but she couldn’t let herself do it.

“Gorramit!” he cursed in defeat, knowing there was nothing he could do to forget her. He stared at the scarf again before bunching it up and shoving it deep into a pocket, letting his hands drop to his sides with a weary sigh. “’Flay you alive if she caught you in here while she was out, and be right to do it,” he grunted and Inara pressed herself into the darkness just as he swept out the door and past her, his face set in a blank expression that hurt her to see, his eyes unfocused and unbearably sad.

She waited, her breath held, as she heard him descend into Serenity’s depths and then open the cargo bay doors, his footfalls echoing heavily in the empty space as he left it behind, and then the final metallic echo as the door closed behind him, settling into silence.

Only then did she give in to the tears, falling to her knees before her statue of the Buddha, praying tearfully for guidance. And the strength to hold to her choice.

Go to Part 2


Thursday, November 17, 2005 11:34 AM


Excellent, almost had me in gorram tears too! I wanted to shake Inara and tell her not to be such a silly goose and just this once to follow her heart. Sigh. Sometimes you have to leave a thing behind to realise how right it is to have it. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, November 17, 2005 5:01 PM


Thanks so much everyone for the feedback. I'm very pleased you're enjoying it. So much so, I wrote my little fingers to the bone getting part 2 done today, just for y'all!!!

Thank you very much!

Friday, November 18, 2005 3:54 AM


inara! sometimes ya could just kick that lot for bein’ so gorram stupid!!!


Tuesday, March 21, 2006 3:10 PM


OMG was just going through the Mal?Inara fanfic thread and ended up going to this link, I was bawling by the end of this little ficlit... and my hand to god, (and not to sound mocho or anything I swear!) I am a guy that never crys, not even at my own grandma's funeral... *sniff*

Friday, December 1, 2006 7:37 PM


Awesomely well-written! I'm speechless.


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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.