S'mores Fight
Thursday, March 9, 2006

Toasted Marshmallow and hair don't mix too well. Or do they? Written for the FF_Friday Challenge #111 - Hair


S’mores Fight By 2x2 Written for FF_Fridays Challenge #111 – Hair Pairing: Mal /Inara Spoilers: None really Set Post-BDM A/N This is not at all what I intended to write. I was going to do something introspective, about Mal thinking on Inara’s hair and such, but, well, this is what came out.

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S’mores Fight

Mal hesitated outside the door of Inara’s shuttle, unsure if he wanted to risk entering. On the one hand, he knew that right now she’d probably just want to be left alone. On the other hand, he suspected that melted marshmallow must be fairly difficult to get out of one’s hair, and she might appreciate the help.

Or not.

She’d been pretty pissed off, he had to admit, when the melted goo had landed smack in the middle of the back of her head. Jayne’s explosion of laughter hadn’t helped much either. Truth be told, if he went in there now, he’d likely end up a dead man. Still, he did feel pretty bad for making her so upset, and Kaylee’d been just about in tears after the incident. It was probably better to get it over with so things could get back to normal sooner rather than later.

Warily, he took a quick peek around the hatch and saw her sitting on her bed, her back to him as she tugged a brush through her hair in angry strokes, trying to work the sticky substance from her locks and cursing in frustration. Yep. She was still upset.

Mal drew in a deep breath, steeling himself, and entered the shuttle, making his way across the carpeted floor silently until he came up behind her and took the brush from her startled fingers, eliciting a surprised gasp from her.

“Can’t you ever knock!” she threw over her shoulder angrily, grabbing the brush from him and dragging it through her hair again harshly, wincing as it caught and ripped more strands from her scalp.

“’Came to help,” he said, ignoring her expected reprimand, an apology in his voice. She shook her head, too mad to care.

“The last thing I need is your… you!” she spat and Mal had to fight the instinct to snap back at her, but the distress he could hear behind her words was more than enough to tell him how truly upset she was. And, seeing as how he was more than a little to blame, he kept silent as she continued to work at the giant, tangled mess in her hair until, finally, she threw the brush down, cursing in frustration, dropping her head into her hands. “I’m going to have to cut it,” she said through her fingers at last, voice thick with emotion.

“Now, you don’t know that,” said Mal, sitting behind her, taking up the brush as she scoffed at him with a huff. He slid his fingers into her hair, gently working at the knots, pulling strands free, careful not to hurt her.

“What are you doing?” she protested.

“Helping,” he replied, and continued untangling her hair with his fingers when she didn’t pull away. He felt a pang of remorse as a large clump came away in a matted ball and he set it behind him guiltily, before she could see it. He moved on to a new section, unable to deny he enjoyed the way his fingers slipped through her silky curls, soft against his skin. He drew the brush down in gentle strokes, working out another snarl, depositing it next to the first one.

Inara closed her eyes, clenching her teeth as she tried to hold on to her anger, but the touch of his fingers was surprisingly soothing, the repetitive sweep of the brush lulling her into a relaxed state, and she sighed, giving up. It really had been an accident, she knew. The look of horrified shock on his face had been testament enough of that. And, she supposed, she shouldn’t really have gotten angry with him for allowing himself to relax and let go for once. She just wished her hair hadn’t had to suffer for it.

“Ow!” she said as he caught a particularly stubborn snag, pulling her hair sharply.

“Sorry!” he said, smoothing his hand over her scalp apologetically. He stilled, letting out a breath. “I, uh… I am, in case you were wonderin’. Sorry, I mean to say,” he said, shaking his head. She blinked rapidly, surprised to hear him apologizing. Mal had never been one to say he was sorry, for anything, in her experience.

It was another sign that he was changing – they were changing.

“I know,” she acknowledged softly.

He sighed. “’Shouldn’t’ve been horsin’ around in the first place,” he chastised himself.

“Oh, Mal, I know it was an accident,” she said, turning to look at him over her shoulder, her anger gone. “There’s nothing wrong with having some fun once in a while. I should be apologizing to you for over reacting.”

Huh, thought Mal, a smile creeping onto his face and he chuckled. “‘How’d you like that?” he said, eyes twinkling. “You an’ me sittin’ here, both of us apologizin’ to each other.”

She echoed his smile. “It is unusual,” she admitted. “If we’re not careful, we might actually have to start getting along.” Their eyes met, a sudden weight between them, and she turned away, sure she could feel a blush stealing over her face. She felt him resume his brushing, fingers trailing through hair no longer tangled with sticky confection, and she closed her eyes, wondering where this was going to take them. Neither of them spoke for a long moment until finally Mal cleared his throat uncomfortably.

“Kaylee was aweful upset,” he said softly and she sighed in self-reproach, clasping her hands in her lap.

“I should go apologize,” she said, glancing at him again and he nodded, his fingers grazing her skin just behind her ear, trailing down to her jaw before he let his hand drop, sending a shiver through her.

“Prob’ly,” he conceded.

There was a snicker from the beyond the doorway, and then Kaylee’s voice called out. “Nah, I’m shiny ‘Nara! Jus’ you an’ the Cap’n go back to what you was doin’!” she said, laughing, punctuated by River’s giggle.

“What?!” Mal leapt up and away from Inara hurriedly, hands rubbing his thighs nervously. Inara smiled in amusement and rose gracefully, going to the door where she gave Kaylee a look of gentle chastisement, tinged with humour, as she pulled the younger woman into a hug.

“I’m sorry, mei mei,” she whispered as the mechanic hugged her back tightly.

“Aw, s’okay. Everythin’s workin’ out shiny,” Kaylee said with a coy smile. Inara rolled her eyes, grinning wryly.

“Well, guess I better, uh…” Mal stammered, moving to the door, but Kaylee stopped him.

“No you don’t!” she said, blocking his way. She leaned up and kissed his cheek before he could protest. “We was jus’ leavin’,” she said, smiling as she stepped back. River grinned and took her place. Leaning close, she shot a sly glance at Inara before bringing her lips to his ear.

“Kiss her!” she said in a stage whisper, grinning widely as he took hold of her firmly, his lips twisting sardonically, giving her a gentle shove in mock irritation.

Gwon nee tze-jee duh shr!” he said, swatting at her as she and Kaylee retreated amid peals of laughter. “Brats!” he yelled after them and Inara laughed softly. He turned to face her, embarrassed. “I uh, …ah… Kids,” he shrugged helplessly. He scratched his nose. “Guess I’d better…” he motioned out the door with his thumb awkwardly. Inara nodded, stepping close.

“Thank-you,” she said softly, “for your help, and… It’s been a long time since I’ve had the luxury of having my hair brushed,” she said.

“Yeah?” he asked and she smiled warmly. He swallowed, reaching a hand out to push a lock of hair behind her ear gently, feeling his heart speed up as she turned into his hand slightly. “We, uh… we havin’ moment here?” he asked, his voice dropping to a whisper.

Inara rolled her eyes at him, her smile widening. She stepped closer, placing her hands on his shoulders as he blinked down at her and drew herself upwards, intending to place a kiss on his cheek. He stared at her as she rose, indecision warring inside him, until at the last possible second he took River’s advice and turned his head, meeting her mouth with his. Her lips parted with a quick intake of breath, hands clutching his shoulders in surprise as his mouth moved over hers unexpectedly. Inara’s eyes fluttered and then closed as she felt his hands move to her waist, holding her as they kissed sweetly.

They parted slowly, both of them stepping back and looking away shyly. A smile grew unhurriedly on Inara’s face, and she looked up as he met her gaze with an answering grin. She looked away again, her smile broadening.

“Well, uh,” said Mal around his smile, motioning towards her hair. “If you ever need a hand, uh, brushin’ and such…” he trailed off, scratching behind his ear. She arched an eyebrow at him, still smiling.

“I may just take you up on that,” she said demurely. He let out a little laugh and nodded.

“Well… I have… Captain-y things I’m sure need doin’,” he said, motioning down the catwalk. Inara nodded and he nodded back, giving her a little wave. “Right. Uh, okay,” he mumbled, and walked away with a shake of his head and a self-deprecating smile. Inara turned back into her shuttle, drawing in a deep breath and smiling widely.

“You know, there might be some more marshmallow in the kitchen…” Mal said, peeking back around the door of her shuttle with a smirk, eyes wide in feigned innocence.

“Get!” she roared, laughing, and he scampered away boyishly, eyes twinkling. Shaking her head, she returned to the bed, sighing ruefully at the little tangles of mallow-coated frizz Mal had removed from her hair. She gathered them up in her hand. Yes, things were definitely changing.

She smiled.

* * * * *

Chinese: Gwon nee tze-jee duh shr = Mind your own business. mei mei I figure goes without sayin’ by this point.


Thursday, March 9, 2006 5:28 PM


aww that was cute, perfect mal/inara moment

Thursday, March 9, 2006 5:49 PM


*sigh* I couldn't decide if I wanted to comment here or on lj, but this was just lovely. A very very nice moment. I really liked Mal flat out asking if they were having a moment, seemed just right to me.

Thursday, March 9, 2006 8:32 PM


Darling just darling. Now I want my hair brushed.

Thursday, March 9, 2006 11:00 PM


What a sweet moment! Lovely job! Mal asking if they were having a moment is so cute and true to character! That was my fav part.:D

Friday, March 10, 2006 12:19 AM


I want my own hair brushing Mal!

This was really cute. Good mix of the serious and the light humour!

Friday, March 10, 2006 1:35 AM


I think I likt this a lot better than introspective Mal. Everybody needs to Mal/Inara fluff once and a while. Plus, I am a sucker for guys brushing girls' hair, there's just something about it... Plus, s'mores!

Friday, March 10, 2006 1:40 AM


Great to see the lighter side of Mal & Inara. Loved Kaylee and Rivers' 'help'!

Friday, March 10, 2006 4:15 AM


Having a moment... great line!

Very nice moment indeed!

Friday, March 10, 2006 4:28 AM


That was great. The dialog was spot on.

Friday, March 10, 2006 8:31 AM


Oh that was so sweet!!!!!! I wonder what other foods they may encounter just to have another moment like this one? Chocolate sauce, peanut butter, maybe whipped cream? *grin*

Thanks for sharing.


Sunday, April 23, 2006 5:47 AM


*looks around* i'm sure there's some marshmallows somewhere...



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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.