Pretty ... pretty - chapter 23 - "No more excuses"
Sunday, December 4, 2005

Twenty-third chapter of my Simon/Kaylee series. This part is very much a Mal/inara focused one, she's run out of excuses, now it's time for Inara to make her final choice.


AN: So, sooo sorry for letting it be such a long time until this chapter, I've had *two* exams to study for, as well as a tricky writers block. I've pretty much been trying to write on every day.

AN2: It's time for Inara to make her choice, there are no more excuses to hide behind. Thank you people at the chat (Wash, Shiny, EA... and um... all the others there) for the suggestions and feedback at the tidbits I was struggling with.

*** No more excuses ***

She had been buying her time, trying to keep herself busy with helping Kaylee with the twins. It had worked for most of the time, because she had to admitt they were a handfull. After discovering the reason the twins had been refusing to go to sleep at nights, as well as coming to a realization that the hammock was far from suitable for two adults to sleep in for more than a couple of nights, Kaylee had gone to work on a sepparate intercom system between their bunk and the engine room.

It was mainly used to channel the sound of the humming engine, to help the twins sleep at night. They still woke up often due to need for feeding, burping, diapers and sometimes Simon and Kaylee guessed it to be nightmares, but once their needs were taken care off it took them a lot less time to doze off again.

This didn't stop the young parents from needing every helping hand they could get, especially at days like these. That jobs didn't go smooth was no surprise on the ship, in fact Inara couldn't remember a single job that went as planned, as the captain wasn't exactly a master planner. That jobs went wrong at the same time as the cooling drive malfunctioned however was new.

Due to the twins lack of natural perspiration, like all other babies, Inara had been forced to take them with her to her shuttle, as it was the only place onboard with a properly functioning cooling drive. This would be the first time ever that she had babysat them alone. So far it was going well, while they had still been napping she had made a mobile out of all the hair ribbons she owned. When Leilah woke up, she didn't cry, as she was used to seeing Inaras face over her, also the mobile held a large assortment of colors, which completely took up the babys attention. Her little hands went up as if she tried to grab hold of the things above her.

When Leilah had been born, the entire crew had all agreed that she looked like something of a mix between River and Kaylee, but lately Inara had started to see more and more of her best friend in her, especially the eyes.

Kaylee owned the biggest, brightest eyes Inara had seen, this only empathized with how she wore them, always wide open. Her daughter, upon seeing all the colors above her, did the same thing. Her eyes were open wide, her head turning from side to side to see everything. She was so fascinated, the mere sight of it could charm even the coldest person.

Aidan didn't seem to share Leilah's mood as he woke up with a soft cry. Hoping it wouldn't affect his sister, Inara picked him up and balanced him against her shoulder. He continued crying, despite Inara's gentle rocking.

It was a lucky thing that they had started the twins on bottles, due to Simons discovery of their slim increase in weight. Kaylee had more than enough milk for one, her body had prepared her for that, but it seemed that it was just too little to be enough for both of them. As Inara reckognized the boy's hungry behaviour, she started to prepare a bottle for him. She glanced over her shoulder, happy to see that Leilah was content in the bassinet, looking at the ribbons.

While feeding Aidan the bottle she saw the flash on the screen, announcing that she had gotten a wave. She didn't even have to check to know where it was from... the Training House. They were still awaiting her answer. Last time she had spoken to them was when she had announced the delay in her arrival.

There was a knock on the door just as Aidan spit up on Inara's shoulder. She looked at it and chuckled slightly. How many dresses she had let go to ruin over the twins, she wasn't sure, but it had to be a dozen at least. But she didn't mind at all.

- Cheeng jeen. - Hey you, Kaylee chipped, popping her head in the door.

Inara didn't even have to set foot out the door to realize entire Serenity was one big sauna. Kaylee was glistening with sweat and some engine grease here and there. Her hair was tied up in a bun, except some straws here and there that was sticking to her neck. She wore a sleeveless floral top, that unlike that morning now held some grease stains. Her jumpsuit was tied at her waist.

- How's the babysittin', she asked, cheerfully.

- It's going quite well, I just gave Aidan here a bottle...

- An' half came out on your dress, Kaylee commented, with an apoligising expression. - I'm so sorry, 'Nara. Here, lemme take'im an' you can try an' save it.

- It's nothing, really, Inara answered, assuringly, as she passed the boy to his mother. - I'm to blame for wearing it.

- No, but you couldn' know we'd get the crisis...

Inara couldn't help, but chuckle. Kaylee always felt responsible for things she couldn't possibly control.

- And neither could you. I had plenty of time to change while the twins were asleep, so really. It's my own fault.

The companion took out wash cloth and dipped it in a bowl of water. She dried off as much as she could and scrubbed the rest of the fabric, until there was just a minor stain left. When there was nothing more she could do, she dipped the wash cloth into the bowl one more time and washed off the grease stain on Kaylee's nose tip and left cheek.

- There, Inara said, as she spotted Kaylee's pretty face emerging. - All better.

She received a smile wide enough to light up entire Serenity.

- How's the work coming?

- Tried cookin' in a sauna an' stuck your head into the oven?

- That bad huh, Inara sympathised.

- Only time I ever felt uncomfortable under the engine.

- Will it be long before the ship cools off?

- Well I've fixed the coolin' drive, but she needs some time gettin' the temperature down, I could set it down a notch or two, but then we'd all of a sudden be freezin'.

- We wouldn't want that, the companion chuckled. - So it'll be a while huh.

- Yeah, you're pretty much stuck with us... for a while anyway.

- I don't mind at all, méimei. It helps to take my mind off... things.

- With things, you talkin' 'bout capt'n, the mechanic asked, curiously.


When the two had felt the familliar shakings of take-off, they concluded that the ship had cooled down to a working temperature. Kaylee carefully lifted the bassinet containing her sleeping babies and headed for the doorway. She turned and flashed Inara an encouraging smile before backing out the door.


Inara chuckled slightly when she saw Zoe drag Wash with her out from the helm and into their room. It made her wonder if this was just one of their regular acts of passion or if Zoe had started her mission to get a baby. The companion shrugged and concluded that time would tell. Being so close after take-off this meant Mal had been instructed to take the helm.

Just as she thought, he was sitting in the pilot chair, staring into the black, something he known to do. He was bound to have heard her enter. Inara had made no effort to hide her steps, as she didn't want to start the conversation with startling him, though it was a fun thing to do sometimes. However Mal didn't seem to show any interesst in ackowledging her presence, which felt weird. True, they had avoided each other the best they could these past months, but they had at least remained civil. So she couldn't help, but wonder what it was that had left him in such a mood.

- I was wondering if we could talk, Inara started, getting straight to business.

- No need to, he said, a bit too gruffly for her taste. - Allready know what you're gonna say.

- I'm pretty sure you don't.

She tried to ignore his behaviour, but it was prooving to be diffcult. Why did he always have to push her buttons?

- You talked to the trainin' house yet, he asked.

- H-how did you...

- Walked by your shuttle, heard you an' Kaylee talkin'

- You were eavesdropping?

She didn't know why she sounded so surprised, it wasn't as though he hadn't done it again and again in the past. In fact it should have been the first thing on her mind, when he had confronted her.

- How much did you hear, she continued, trying to ignore his disrespect for her privacy.

- 'Nuff to know I ain't particulary fond of your decision.

She bit her lip and took a step backwards, this being as far from reply she had expected.

- I thought that was what you wanted.

- What I want? You know what I want right now? I want things to be like 'fore. 'Fore my stupid slip-up with Nandi, 'fore you started lookin' at me like I was betrayin' you. An' why is that? You can bed a thousand men, but when I bed one woman I'm a monster?

He bit his tongue the minute the words left his lip. This was as far away from what he had intended to say, he was hurt and angry and he knew very well that he was just making matters worse. What he had heard of her conversation with Kaylee kept repeating in his head.

- Simon an' me 've been talkin'... Engine parts will continue breakin' an' with the jobs capt'n takes, there'll be plenty of injuries, sometimes at the same time. Today prooved that. An' even when they don' we need all the help we can get. We don' want to run to whoever's free an' ask, 'sides, the twins like you. This ain't charity, it's a job. I know it ain't anythin' fancy an' we can't pay you well, but we can pay.

- It's sweet of you, but I can't accept.

He had been at loss on finding a solution for them. He could never manage to share her with those men. The alternative to let her in on the jobs, all he could imagine was putting her in one dangerous situation after another. As a companion she had a somewhat safe position, a failsafe, using her respectability to get them out of tight spots. But to play the failsafe after quitting as a companion wouldn't work either. It would eventually get out that she was no longer a working companion and the respectability would be gone.

So to have her turn down a solution that would mean she wouldn't need to whore or to risk her life at jobs, hurt tremediously. He knew he would never ever convince her to not hold some form of work, not that he would ever want to. Every person needed a purpose in their life, a livelyhood. If she had started living off him, sooner or later it would ruin their relationship. Not that he imagined a chance for them after what he had just said. Couldn't he ever have a conversation with her and not call her a whore?

But even though he felt horrible for saying it, he couldn't help displaying his anger, when thinking about Inara's choice.

- You know what, I changed my mind, this is what I want. I want you gone, want you to stop spinnin' me 'bout.

- Mal...

Inara's voice was already hinting of anger. Anger for him once again implying that she was a whore, anger because he was yelling at her for no apparent reason.

- Why can't you accept what I want and get the hell off my ship and outta my life, he cut her off as he stalked out into the hallway.

- Because I love you, you hwoon dahn, she yelled after him in frustration.

Mal stopped dead in his tracks and turned around. Inara looked like she was torn between acting on her words and yelling at him. Knowing her voice was still leaning towards the latter, he beat her to it and pulled her close for a kiss.

As she let herself loose herself in the passion, she thought back to a few hours earlier.

- You're wrong 'Nara. You keep tellin' me that you an' capt'n ain't like me an' Simon, but you are. You keep lettin' your bein' a companion gettin' in the way, jus' like Simon did with bein' a fugitive.

- It is different, Inara objected.

- Yeah, Simon has no choice. He can't change that the Alliance is huntin' him an' River. He can't change that people like Early comes after'im. You can choose 'Nara, you said that you even thought 'bout quittin'.

Inara opened her mouth, but heard no reply coming out.

- Simon an' me 've been talkin', Kaylee continued. - Engine parts will continue breakin' an' with the jobs capt'n takes, there'll be plenty of injuries, sometimes at the same time. Today prooved that. An' even when they don' we need all the help we can get. We don' want to run to whoever's free an' ask, 'sides, the twins like you. This ain't charity, it's a job. I know it ain't anythin' fancy an' we can't pay you well, but we can pay.

- It's sweet of you, but I can't accept.

She took a pause gathering her words, trying not to look at Kaylee's disappointed expression.

- You and Simon will need all your money for the twins.

- All taken care of. Capt'n's givin' me an' Simon a raise. He spoke with my daddy last night an' daddy's been workin' on a bigger airborne mule, that can help with greater jobs. Good model too, expencive type. Daddy's givin' it to 'im for free, if he raises mine an' Simons share on the jobs. If jobs go bad, he can sell it for a good profit.

- I don't want you to be the reason I'm staying, Inara sighed.

The mechanic grinned and threw her arms around her best friend, hugging her tightly.

- Sounds to me it ain't.


Sunday, December 4, 2005 6:29 PM


All I have to say, is finally. On so many levels.

A new chapter, Mal and Inara FINALLY get it right.... I've been waiting man.

But writing blocks suck. I've had them, and they're the worst.

Sunday, December 4, 2005 6:34 PM


ooooooo. I been waiting for ch 23 and this one was a good un. I think it was a good idea to have Mal muck up the conversation again like he alwasys does, and then Inara yelling at him. Great. I'd like to see your take on some of the other characters, more in depth too. Keep it up MK.

Sunday, December 4, 2005 6:47 PM


One more thing: Could you add more Simon/Kaylee fluff? Now it's more about the kids, which is fine and all, but we're seriously on a Simon/Kaylee fluff drought.

Sunday, December 4, 2005 7:26 PM



Was wondering when this chapter will be up. And I gotta say I enjoy this. Can't wait for the final chapter.

I'm also slowly working on my stuff as well. Next chapter should be up soon.


Sunday, December 4, 2005 7:41 PM


So can we look forward to some Mal/Inara action in Chapter 24? And some Simon/Kaylee action soon to follow? or better yet have it in the same chapter and give Wash and Zoe a chance to practice their parenting skills! That would make for all kinds of craziness! Wash might have to share his dinosaurs!

Sunday, December 4, 2005 7:52 PM


Yay! Have been waiting for a new post! Awesome job and can't wait for more. Thanks :)

Sunday, December 4, 2005 8:16 PM


FINALLY. lol, loved it doll.

Yeah, aren't blocks the worst? *sighs*

Monday, December 5, 2005 7:15 AM


SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!! SHE'S STAYING!!! she IS staying, right? please?


Monday, December 5, 2005 7:37 PM


Yeah! You finally got unstuck! And nice use of hwoo dwoon (sp?).. Loved it! And like everyone else said, FINALLY!

This is the way Firefly should've happened... stupid fox... *mutters choice chinese* LOL

And..BABIES!!! I love em!

Friday, December 9, 2005 9:12 AM


oh my god YES!!!!! finally! and thanks for putting me up there on the thanks list! *kiss* Inara ... and Mal!!! yay! just like you said. Now for the last fic, maybe we open with that kiss or one/both of them thinking about that kiss and what it means. Inara makes her decision about staying and leaving (stay! stay! of course that isn't relevant to the movie ... so maybe inara wants to stay but mal makes her go or something???) Simon and Kaylee need some alone time i think. still want to hear about the kids, but simon/kaylee alone time would bode well. All i can say is... MORE MORE MORE!!!!!

Thanks for yet another great fic!

Sunday, December 18, 2005 2:13 PM



YAY!!! that's all I got to say :)
Loving it!


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