Choices - Part 5
Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cha and Confessions...


A/N Part 5 at last... had a bit of trouble getting this one out... all they wanted to do was fight and fight and fight, but I negotiated, and things went a little more smooth... Part 6, what most have been waiting for, coming soon....

Go back and read the Other Parts: 1 2 3A 3B 4

Choices - Part 5 by 2x2

They climbed the stairs to her shuttle silently, neither willing to break the silence, only the metallic clanking of their feet on steel echoed through the hold. Too soon and not soon enough they arrived at the hatch to Inara’s shuttle. She turned at last, gathering his coat in her arms and holding it out for him.

“Thank-you,” she said, feeling awkward under his sad gaze. He took the coat silently, somehow knowing that if he didn’t do something soon, she’d be gone and he’d never have the chance again. But he had no idea what he could do. She turned, and then stopped, looking back at him. “You should drink some Cha,” she said softly. “It will settle your stomach.”

“’Knew there was somethin’ I was supposed to put on the list,” he said with a wry grin. Inara rolled her eyes, feeling a smile tug at the corner of her own lips. She sighed in mock disapproval.

“I have some I can--” lend you, she was about to say, but he interrupted before she could finish.

“That’d be shiny,” he said ingenuously and stepped past her into her shuttle before she could say anything else. Inara opened her mouth to protest, but she could think of no polite way to do so. Sighing she followed him in, shutting the hatch behind her.

He tossed his jacket over one end of the couch, sitting back on the red cushions, lounging comfortably and Inara wondered what the hell she was thinking, letting him in here. She’d spent too much time with him tonight already. So why was a part of her pleased to see him look so relaxed in her space?

She shook such thoughts from her mind, distracting herself with the practiced rhythm of the cha preparation, letting the soothing motions calm her.

Mal watched her work, awed as always by the grace and beauty of her movements. He’d never told her that he thought she was beautiful. He supposed she heard it all the time from her clients, but it didn’t make it any less true. With the possible exception of Serenity, he thought she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen in all the ‘verse.

He was guided back to the moment as she stood and carried the cha to him, placing the tray on the table and sitting beside him, as much distance between them as she could keep without being obvious.

She filled a small, handle-less cup and then crushed some herbs between her thumb and forefinger, swirling it into the liquid with a bamboo whisk.

“What’s that?” he asked softly, taking the cup from her hand with a thank-you as she passed it to him.

“Just some herbs. They’ll help with your head tomorrow,” she said, preparing her own.

Mal held up his cup and made a ‘cheers’ motion before draining the contents. He made a sudden gagging sound and sat up, clamping his mouth shut with heroic effort to avoid spitting the liquid out all over Inara’s couch and carpets. With a grimace, he swallowed the foul tasting drink, shuddering with distaste.

“Gah! I thought all that fancy stuff of yours was supposed to be good!” he complained and she rolled her eyes with a smile, unable to resist.

“The cha is good,” she said, amused. “It’s the herbs that make it bitter, but you’ll be thanking me for them in the morning, believe me.” He gave her a skeptical look but said nothing as she sipped her own bitter concoction, wincing at the taste and then grinning in mild chagrin.

“Even makin’ a face, you’re beautiful,” he whispered.

She stared at him, astonished. Oh, don’t. Don’t say things like that, she begged him silently. She didn’t know how to defend herself against this gentler side of Mal, and it shook her. She set her teacup down with shaky fingers and gathered up the tray. “It’s late, Mal. You should get some rest,” she said, standing.

“Inara, wait,” Mal said, catching her wrist and halting her.

“Don’t,” she said beseechingly, pulling her hand from his grasp and backing away. He was too close, he was always too close, had been all night long. She couldn’t trust herself if she let him touch her, and she’d come too close to giving in already.

“Tian xiao de, Inara, what is it you want me to do?” he asked softly. “We’ve been playing at this bǎ xì all night; you got me turnin’ in so many directions I don’t know which way is up. What is it you want?”

“Nothing. I can’t—you have to let me go, Mal. Just let me go,” she said, using the words she’d heard him speak to himself in her shuttle. He stared at her, thrown at hearing his own words from her lips, and let his hand drop. Inara could see the hurt and confusion in his eyes and she knew she was being unfair, but she had to get him out of her shuttle before he said or did something that she couldn’t withstand. She felt guilty relief as he stood and took a step toward the hatch, but then he stopped and shook his head resolutely, turning to face her again.

“You expectin’ me to make this easy for you, Inara? That I’m gonna let it be easy for you to leave? ‘Cause I ain’t,” he said, stepping into her personal space stubbornly. “You’re runnin’ away. I ain’t sure why, but I’m damn sure that you are.” He stared down at the top of her head, noted the tension in the rise and fall of her shoulders, felt the nervousness that she was so desperately trying to keep hidden. He bent his lips to her ear. “What ‘you afraid of, ‘Nara? Actually showing some emotion? Admittin’ you got feelins like normal folk?” Her eyes shot up to his in indignation.

“Chui se!” she spat, eyes blazing. He nodded, smiling without mirth. “I expect to, several times over, but that don’t answer the question now, does it?” he said, not relenting. He watched the anger and fear swimming in her gaze as she refused to back away. He leaned closer to her. “You knew what I was gonna say, Inara… after Nandi died.” Inara drew in a sharp breath, her eyes widening, suddenly very afraid. “You wouldn’t let me say it then. Well, I’m gonna say it now.”

“Mal—” she forestalled, falling back a step. He advanced, pressing her back until she hit the bed and had nowhere left to go. They stared hard at each other for a long moment, neither moving, until Inara finally sighed in defeat, dropping her gaze, knowing she had no choice but to face this, that he deserved at least that much from her.

He reached out and tipped her chin up so that she was looking at him again, his fingers brushing her cheek with the barest touch. She stared back at him, never before seeing such openness and vulnerability in his eyes and her breath caught, knowing that for good or for ill, this moment was going to change things forever.

“Ain’t nothin’ in this ‘verse gets inside me like you do, ‘Nara. And there ain’t no point pretending it ain’t so,” he said, his voice soft but rough. He looked away from her, unable to maintain her direct gaze. “Scares the hell outta me, lettin’ myself care for you…” he continued, swallowing hard. His eyes flicked to hers briefly and then away again. “’Nothin’ I ever cared about I didn’t lose or that weren’t taken from me. Serenity and this crew’s all I got left in the ‘verse, an’ you’re a part of that. You leave, you’re gonna take that away from me too.”

“Don’t put that responsibility on me,” she protested in a voice thick with emotion. She wrapped her arms around herself defensively, her eyes watery. “That’s not fair--”

“Ain’t tryin’ to be fair or otherwise, ‘just tellin’ how it is,” he said, gently but firmly. “Now, I don’t know if you got any of the same sort of feelins for me inside you, behind that mask you like to wear, but I know I weren’t the only one felt something in that coach out there tonight. Was I, Inara?”

She closed her eyes. She’d been in this position before, and he’d demanded the truth from her then, too. She’d been ready, at the time, to face the consequences of answering him. But everything was different now. After Nandi… But how could she lie? She had almost kissed him in the carriage and he knew it. He would know the truth, regardless of her answer; there’d be no misconstruing her meaning this time. Better to be truthful with him, and at least surrender with dignity. She drew in a deep, fortifying breath, trembling as she let it out.

“No,” she said at last, lifting her head to meet his gaze. “It wasn’t just you.” A tiny smile softened the corner of his lips and she saw something new suddenly light in his eyes. And, in that instant, she knew there’d be no turning back.

* * * * *

Chinese Translations: Chui se = go to hell bǎ xì /acrobatics/jugglery/cheap trick/game/ Tian xiao de = name of all that’s sacred

Go to Part 6


Tuesday, November 29, 2005 3:54 PM


Is it so terrible that I almost squealed with joy when I saw this fic? Literally, squealed. Had my buds afraid that I was going into convulsions like.

So...amazing. Thank god Mal is actually getting some nerve that isnt induced by alcohol ;)

Oh, no turning back! No turning back!! don;t you dare turn back!!


Tuesday, November 29, 2005 4:44 PM


LOve it, no turning back. I was waiting for that crabby old guy to come in and ruin everything!
Thankful he didn't!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 5:00 PM


Wow... I ain't never made nobody squeal before... well, leastwise, not from one of stories, anyway... <huge grin>

Thank you soooo much!! I was having one of those bouts of "ah, this story is no good, what am I doin'?" moments, and hearing that all of you like it so much really picks me up...

Part 6 is coming soon, I'm so excited!!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 11:49 PM


OH thank you! this is the pick me up i needed! Ok now stop reading all thees reviews that i know are only here to boost you ego (cause we all only seem to have nice things to say about you) and get to posting part six lol. ok well once again thanks i loved that you had him tell her she is beautiful, it just made me swoon and let out one of those dreamy sighs hehe. I am still smilly all silly like some romantic. thank you!!! oh and please no turning back and no mean old cabbys! i wanted to throw my computer at a cabby the last time i read! heh...ok now i am blabing....i should stop...

Wednesday, November 30, 2005 5:12 AM


"This story is no good"?? What are you thinkin?!! Finally you have made that stubborn man (that I'm obssesed with) speak the truth! Can I get an AMEN!! ok I'll sit down now...

Wednesday, November 30, 2005 6:59 AM


haha!! my nefarious plan worked!!! get the taxi guy out of the way, and all will be shiny...
*banging noises* QUIET IN THERE!!! *kicks cupboard door*


Wednesday, November 30, 2005 9:01 AM


Oh Wow, don't screw this up Inara! I so want them to drop all the pretences and admit to not only wanting each other but all the love tangled up inside as well. This is such a fabulous story, please post the next part SOON! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, November 30, 2005 12:39 PM


Oh my gosh.. I'm just overwhelmed with all the support from you all... There is nothing in the 'verse like gettin' home from work to find a ton of supportive, positive, super ego boosting comments on something you created... I'm speechless... not Typeless, fortunately tho... part 6 is in the works, and coming along... tee hee!!!

Thank you all from the bottom of my little writing heart!

Thursday, December 1, 2005 12:04 PM


you know, i've stopped reading for a week (thanksgiving rush and all) so i was soooooo excited to see 5 AND 6 up! yay! my life can return to the normalcy of breathless anticipation!

Friday, December 1, 2006 8:08 PM


This gave me chills. I wanna keep reading but I have to get up so early! Uggghhh! You write amazing fanfiction. Cheers.


You must log in to post comments.



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.