Choices - Part 8 C
Saturday, December 17, 2005

Mal is intent on doin' some justice, and Inara isn't going to be left behind.


A/N Sorry for the delay, and the shortness of this part. Part 8 should've been put out as one part, but I've been sick, and writing sporadically, and wanted to get the parts out... this is the most tenatious flu I've ever had.. Anyway, just a little bit before Mal goes lookin' for Whelt...

Go back and read the Other Parts: 1 2 3A 3B 4 5 6 7 8A 8B

Choices – Part 8 C by 2x2

The crew watched in silence as Williams and his men disembarked and disappeared into the crowd filled docks. Zoe punched the switch to close Serenity’s cargo bay doors, her eyes on Mal and Inara as they stared at each other, waiting for the Captain’s inevitable reaction.

“Pretty cunnin’, makin’ ‘em think you was ‘Nara’s client an’ all,” said Jayne, breaking the silence. He gave Inara a leering grin.

Mal gave him a hard look, too angry to have patience with the mercenary’s tactless obtuseness. He shook his head. “Prep the mule,” he barked before stalking towards the stairway.

“Mal,” said Inara, stepping after him.

“Wha’s his problem?” Jayne muttered as the Companion walked past him. Receiving no answer, he shrugged and nodded for Book to help him with the winch, mumbling under his breath about other people’s problems and things you couldn’t change.

“Zoe, gear up and have Wash plot us a course from this world ‘case we need one fast,” Mal continued.

“Sir,” Zoe nodded and headed up to the cockpit, aware of the imminent confrontation brewing between the Captain and Inara, and happy enough to be elsewhere when it came.

“Mal—” Inara called after him again, growing frustrated as he continued to ignore her.

“Kaylee—” he hollered, hands on the railing about to climb when Inara’s voice rang out sharply, demanding he hear her.


He stopped, closing his eyes with a sigh.

“I’m going with you,” she said in a determined voice. He’d been waiting for it, knew it was coming, but that hadn’t kept him from hoping it wouldn’t.

“No, you ain’t,” he growled over his shoulder, harsher than he needed, but worry and anger were pressing on him, and he didn’t want to have this conversation.

“Mal—” she protested and he turned, coming back to stand before her angrily.

“Inara, I’m not lettin’ you go out there—”

“Letting me?” she challenged, her ire rising.

“You’re what they wanted in the first place. I ain’t about to give ‘em a second chance at getting’ you.”

“I hardly think they’re going to be staking out the crime scene. I need to go—”

“An’ I need you to stay!” he said explosively, shocking her into silence.

Book and Jayne exchanged a glance and Mal ran a hand through his hair as they did, suddenly aware of the audience he had. Forcing himself to calm, he lowered his voice. “I can’t do what I gotta do if I have to worry about keepin’ you safe, Inara.”

“I can take care of myself, Mal—”

“Like last night?” he said exasperated. “You mind explainin’ how exactly you was takin’ care of that?”

“Last night I was drunk! And… obviously confused!” she snapped, growing angry.

“Confused! Well you—I—Don’t… What the hell is that supposed to mean?” he stammered.

“It means that there were… certain things I would’ve done differently! Or not at all!” she hissed as he scoffed.

High above them, Kaylee looked down with a sigh. “Well. That didn’t take long,” she said, shaking her head sadly.

“Afraid,” said River. “Can’t fix what isn’t broken.”

“If they ain’t broke, why can’t they just…” Kaylee shrugged helplessly. “Make it work? I mean, they both care ‘bout each other, an’ all.”

River tilted her head to the side, her gaze far off and distant. “Two different puzzles. Shapes fit together, but the picture makes no sense.”

Kaylee frowned and shook her head again. “But it’s such a shame,” she said, directing her gaze back to the cargo bay below to where the Captain was staring open-mouthed at Inara.

Mal closed his mouth slowly, blinking as confusion and nervous hurt crept into his face. He swallowed. “Not… not at all?”

Inara hesitated, conscious of the precipice they were suddenly teetering on the edge of as she realized what she’d said. She drew in a deep breath, forcing herself to calm. “I didn’t mean…” she said softly. She had, but she hadn’t meant it. It was so easy to fall into their old pattern, pushing each other’s buttons… This wasn’t what she wanted, but ren ci de fo zu the man was infuriating! She took a conciliatory step forward, closing the distance between them. “What I meant was, I would have been more aware of them, of their interest. I wouldn’t have walked into that situation because I would have spotted the potential danger from the start. Mal,” she said, dropping her voice so only he could hear. “I don’t regret last night. I… I’ve been running away from it, from you, for too long. But that doesn’t mean I’ll blindly follow your every command. It can’t, Mal.”

“I ain’t askin’ you to—” She covered his lips with her fingers gently.

“You know as well as I do that if I hadn’t been there last night, this wouldn’t have happened…” she trailed off, her eyes conveying her distress.

He stared back at her a long time and then sighed in defeat. “Ain’t gonna make it any better, seein’,” he said sadly, resignation in his voice.

“It will be worse,” she agreed, looking away. “But I… I need to do it.” She brought her eyes up to his and was caught in the sad tenderness of his gaze.

“I don’t want you to do this,” he said, holding up his hand to forestall her renewed protest. “But I guess I ain’t gonna stop you.” He pressed his lips together in a disapproving frown. “… I don’t expect you to… blindly follow me, or any such, like you said,” he started, his voice hardening as he continued. “But if you’re comin’, you’re to do exactly as I say when we’re out there. Don’t care what it is, I tell you to do it, you do it. Dong ma?” She nodded, knowing his demand was not unreasonable. “And borrow something from Kaylee,” he continued. “Or even Zoe. Anything but,” he waved a hand at her current attire. “No point wavin’ a sign over your head, tellin’ ‘em where you are.”

“All right,” she said, inclining her head in acquiescence.

Mal tugged Inara back to the stairs with a gentle hand on her elbow as Jayne and Book began lowering the mule toward the deck. “Best get to it,” he said, giving her a small, melancholy smile. She nodded, echoing his sad smile, and with a last look, headed up the stairs.

* * * * *

Chinese Translations

ren ci de fo zu = merciful buddha Dong ma = understand

Go to Part 9


Sunday, December 18, 2005 1:42 AM


Wow, loved this! Just *loved* it. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, December 18, 2005 8:12 AM


“Well. That didn’t take long.”
*sigh* someone just kick them, please?


Sunday, December 18, 2005 11:36 AM


drama drama...yikes

great work, hope you feel better soon!

Thursday, February 16, 2006 5:49 PM


Just realized I was so sick, I never even got around to thanking you all for the get well comments, as well as the comments on this part... So, sorry it's late, but Thanks!!


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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.