The Cold
Wednesday, March 29, 2006

One-shot set after Trash; Simon/Kaylee, Mal/Inara; PG-13


The Cold By Kaynara *** One-shot set after Trash; Simon/Kaylee, Mal/Inara; PG-13 *** Oh, how he hated those needles. Big bunches o’ hate. Right now it was all swirling in his head: the doc and his needles and--ai ya, was that another one? Was he really gonna stick him again? Hwoon dan was probably enjoying this. Prolly got his jollies sticking folk with needles and watchin’ em-- “Ow!” “Sorry.” Simon winced. “I’m just gonna draw some blood.” “What for? It don’t need drawing.” “Captain.” He spoke slowly, as though reassuring a small and somewhat daft child. “You haven’t seen a doctor in six years.” “Now that just ain’t so. See your pretty mug every day, don’t I?” “When was your last physical? And before you ask, no. My sewing up your bullet holes doesn’t count.” “Sure as hell hurt less.” He glowered cuz it seemed the thing to do. “I’m almost finished. This would go faster if you’d quit squirming.” “Doctor. I am the captain. The captain don’t squirm.” “Yes. Yes, I see that now.” He rolled his eyes. “My mistake.” “What’s goin’ on?” Kaylee wandered in, a smile cut high on her cheeks. She’d done her hair up in two ponytails, the end result of which had her looking about eighteen. Mal watched her hop up on the table beside him, one teddy-bear patched thigh bumping his. He watched his blood swirl red as, well, blood, into little plastic vials. He felt like an old man. He also felt a mite nauseous. “What’s goin’ on here is the doc sees fit to bleed me. And I’m about one plastic vial away from losing my lunch.” “One more pinprick.” “They ain’t pinpricks!” But he rolled up his other sleeve, eager to be out of here. “Actually, Captain.” Boy looked all too pleased with himself. “Actually, this one doesn’t go in your arm.” Mal just groaned. “Who’s the next victim?” he asked after, rearranging his clothes with as much dignity as he could muster at that moment. “Please say Jayne. Or Inara.” Woman was entirely too smug about the whole thing at dinner last night. “Surely you aren’t afraid of a few needles, Captain.” She laid a hand down his arm, and he felt five searing points where her fingers had been. “Not Malcom Reynolds, war hero and criminal mastermind.” She’d punctuated the statement with a wink to show she was teasing. Still, he had a mind to see how she liked it. Let her try getting prodded and poke--actually, maybe it was best he abandon this whole line o’ thought. “Nope, Nara’s sick.” “Huh?” “Yup.” Kaylee bobbed her head, making her ponytails shake. “Got a temp-a-ture and everything.” “Well, why you stickin’ me then, Doc? Go see to your patient.” Simon crinkled his nose, puzzled. Kaylee watched him and sighed. Mal tried not to roll his eyes at the pair of ‘em. Teenagers. Like lovestruck ruttin’ teenagers. “I looked in on Inara earlier. I’m fairly certain it’s just a cold.” “Fairly certain. That don’t sound especially certain to me. That what you tell all your patients, Doc? ‘I’m fairly certain your arm ain’t broke. I’m fairly certain you didn’t just get shot in the belly. I’m fairly certain you’re not knocked up.’ Anyway, how do you know it’s just a cold? You bring her down here and--and--and do stuff to her? Tests?” “Think you took too much blood, Simon,” Kaylee said, a giggle escaping her lips. She clapped a hand over her mouth at Mal’s death glare. “I did study medicine, Captain. Now and again, I encountered a case of the common cold.” “Now don’t get tetchy, Doctor. I ain’t doubtin’ your craft. Just wanna be sure. Can’t have any o’ my passengers dyin’ ‘cuz, well, it looks bad and no one wants to fly with you no more.” “I’m confident Inara will make a full recovery, Mal.” “Well, good. That’s good. Guess I’ll be on my way, lest you wanna poke me some more.” “I’m fairly certain I’ve poked you enough for one day, Captain.” “Much obliged.” He heard ‘em laughing the minute he turned the corner. Well, that was something at least. Least they waited till he was outta sight this time. *** Inara hated being sick. Well, that was inane. No one enjoyed being ill, of course. But Inara found it especially degrading. Fever chills and shivers. Pale, clammy skin and achy limbs. Limp hair and dull eyes. The base of her nose gone red from blowing. She hated the loss of control, resented the way her body betrayed her. For a woman trained in discipline and composure it was almost unbearable. Wrapping herself in a swatch of silk--her wardrobe really didn’t support sick days--Inara brewed green tea to wash down Simon’s decongestants. An ancient Chinese proverb suggested it was "better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one." As the thought of solid food turned her stomach, Inara decided to lay faith in that wisdom. She carried a cup and saucer back to bed and slipped beneath the covers. Then she heard the knock. “I’m fine, Simon. No need to see to me--oh.” Mal’s head peered around the corner of her draperies, cloaking him from the neck down in royal purple. He looked at once princely and strangely feminine. Princess-ly. She almost giggled. “Expectin’ someone prettier?” She stared for a moment, trying to recall whether or not she was angry at him. If they were fighting--and by fighting she meant something new, separate from their usual squabbling--the basis escaped her now. Just another reason to bemoan her congested head. Finally, she gave up, shrugged a single shoulder and smiled. “He’s the only one who knocks. Kaylee’s always too excited to remember and River’s, well--” “River,” they finished together. “And the Shepherd no longer pays me surprise visits. I can’t imagine why.” She met Mal’s eyes, her own round with only half-affected innocence. “Can’t think why the preacher’d take a dislike to you. After all, weren’t J.C. himself a fan of...Companions?” “I don’t know. I never serviced him personally.” She was getting riled. He could see it in her eyes, sparks of fury just under the sheen of sick. Ai ya, he had no call comin’ in here like this, baiting her when she was less than her full self. “Did you want something, Mal?” “I uh...well.” Just now he wasn’t quite sure. He watched her shift uncomfortably on the bed--now that was squirming; someone oughta show the doc so he didn’t mistake it--as she blinked back at him, waiting for her answer. What was the question again? “Oh, right. I apologize, it slipped my mind. Would you look in my purse? The mauve one. Pink,” she clarified after glimpsing his bewilderment. He didn’t know what they were talking about anymore. At some point here he’d loss the trail of conversation. Now he was stumbling around in the dark, smacking his head on tree limbs. He hated when that happened. “Mal? Will you check my purse?” “I ain’t goin’ nowhere near that thing. I know what you girls keep in there.” She raised a delicate brow. “Such as?” Princess to peasant. She woulda pulled it off better were she slightly less congested. He grinned, sobered realizing she was still awaiting an answer. “I, uh. Well, womanly sundries, I expect.” “Sundries?” He almost smiled, cuz it came out sounding like ‘shundries’. Which wasn’t a word, but it made him think of undies. Also not a word but...well....dammit, he was grinning like a gorramn teenager. She didn’t look all that amused. “ know. Lip paints and, uh, stuff for, ahem, cycles....” His voice trailed off. Oh, humping hell, this weren’t going so good. He’d just dropped in to check on her, whine about gettin’ poked on some. And maybe gloat. Just a little. How did he wind up standing before her bed, ears as red as the tip of her pretty little nose, talkin’ ‘bout ‘cycles’ of all things? “Cycles.” She bit her lip hard enough to draw blood. If she smiled, she’d ruin it. He decided to try for mercy. “Inara. Ain’t you too sick for makin’ me the fool?” “Just hand me my purse, Mal.” Her lips curved. “Please.” “Sure thing.” He tossed her the little satin bag, crossed his arms over his chest. “What for?” She blinked at him again, as though they hadn’t perhaps been present for the same conversation. “Your rent check. Today’s the first, isn’t it?” “What’s that gotta do with--wait, a minute. You think I came in here to collect?” “Mal, I didn’t mean--” “Fine. You that eager to write me a check? I ain’t one to turn down money.” He settled back on her sofa, waiting. She’d insulted him. It wasn’t her intent. Sighing, she slipped out of bed, sliding her feet into fuzzy red slippers. She hesitated, decided she’d kick him someplace painful if he mocked her. In her robe, she shuffled over to the sofa, sat as far from the captain as physically possible. She opened her checkbook over her lap. “Do you have a pen?” He was smirking. If his gaze strayed to her feet, she’d take aim. “Don’t carry one regular.” He bent one leg over his knee, waiting. She rose, frowning. “I must have one somewhere....” She leaned over her dresser, fumbling through the medicines Simon left. And then she was being lifted off the ground, one large hand clasped under her arms, the other catching her beneath the knee. “What the--?” “Enough. You and me can trade potshots later. Best you be in bed nowbouts.” He deposited her there, with a pat on the head as though the matter were decided. “I can’t believe you. How dare you....manhandle me!” Mal snorted. “That weren’t manhandling, darlin’. You wanna see manhandling...well, I could show you!” “Why don’t you just leave?!” “With pleasure!” He turned to go, hesitated. “You, uh, you need anythin’ ‘fore I go? Water maybehaps?” “I’m fine, Mal.” She softened. She couldn’t say why, but she always did. No, that was a lie. And lying to one’s self was a bad trend. She knew why her insides went to goo, as Kaylee would say. Ai ya, she knew. “Thank you, though.” And then her body betrayed her once again. She sneezed. Mal chuckled and pulled a handkerchief from his pocket. He dropped it in her lap, and she stared at it a moment before lifting the worn cloth to her face. She hadn’t known that before, hadn’t known he carried handkerchiefs. It was an antiquated practice today something observed almost exclusively by wealthy men of a certain age. She wondered if he had other eccentricities of which she was even now unaware and why was he now sitting on the edge of her bed? He pressed the back of his hand to her forehead, gentle as a nurse. Or a lover. “Still kinda warm. Doc give you anything to bring the fever down?” “Yes.” She sounded breathless. She hoped he’d credit it to her cold. She sounded breathless. Must be sicker than she looked. “Well, let’s get you back into bed. What’s this?” His finger looped through the strap of her garnet-toned nightgown, rough knuckle grazing her shoulder. She held herself very still. God and Buddha, why was he touching her? “It’s a lady’s nightdress, Mal. Surely you’ve had occasion to see one or two.” “Knew it looked familiar,” he quipped. “Now why you wearin’ some flimsy flouncy thing when you’re feelin’ poorly?” “I happen to like this gown,” she told him, teeth clenched. “Oh, I ain’t expressing a dislike. Just sayin’ it ain’t proper sleepwear for the sickly.” “I’m not--s-s--” She sneezed again, with a force that felt strong enough to jar her brain. Moaning a little, she blew her nose in Mal’s handkerchief, no longer perturbed by his presence. To hell with it, and to hell with him. The captain wanted to witness her humiliation? Let him. She buried her face in a pillow, hoping he’d leave her alone. “Inara.” He was poking her. He was actually poking her shoulder. “Oh, can’t you go away?” “Don’t ya got anything more cozy-like? Tee shirt?” She was struggling to stay calm. If she didn’t look so miserable, he mighta been tickled by that fact. “No, Mal. I do not have any tee shirts.” “Huh. Well, guess you can borrow mine. Make sure you wash it after. Use plenty o’ fabric softener; I got sensitive skin, darlin’.” “Are you--what are you doing?” “Darlin’, I know you seen a man undress before.” “I know you’re undressing.” She gritted her teeth. She wouldn’t yell. She absolutely would not. “I wonder why you’re doing so in my shuttle.” He blinked at her, as though the question weren’t perfectly sensible. “I’m loanin’ you my shirt, ‘member?” Dumbfounded, she watched him finish unbuttoning his shirt. His movements matter-of-fact, he pushed his suspenders down over his arms and slipped his wrists free of the sleeves. In a quick motion, he tugged his tee shirt over his head. He shrugged his arms back into the sleeves of his overshirt and hauled his suspenders back in place, all without uttering a word. He handed her the discarded tee, not bothering to button up first. He leaned over the bed, offering her a close-up view of his chest and abdomen. She could smell his soap--something fresh and woodsy. If she lowered her gaze, she’d be able to count the hairs on his belly, follow the slim stretch that extended beyond the waist of his trousers. Ta ma de--the hwoon dan was playing her. Smug son of a....Breathe. Getting mad at Mal never accomplished anything. It was far more satisfying to get even. “Thank you.” She smiled, lowering her lashes so they brushed prettily over her cheeks. “I appreciate the gesture.” “You--well, good. Glad to hear it. Anyhow, I got captainy stuff. I’ll just be--” “Mal?” Normally, she’d toss her hair now, make the dark curls bounce over her shoulder. She hadn’t actually washed her hair in a couple days, so she’d have to employ another smile. If she were lucky, he’d mistake the flushed cheeks for a blush. “Huh?” “Would you do me one last kindness? Before you go handle your...captainy matters?” “I--well, sure. Sure, Nara. Whaddaya need?” “Actually.” She raised a single shoulder, lowered her eyes in embarrassment. “I’m feeling a little weak. Could you...would you mind helping me change?” She held out the tee shirt. And watched his jaw drop. Wuh de tyen, ah. Oh, holy hell, this was a dream. He gave his arm an experimental pinch, winced when he hit one of the spots still sore from the doctor’s probing. Ow. “You, uh, you want help gettin’ out o’ your nightgown?” He made his face expressionless, trying to pretend his voice didn’t crack just now like some prepubescent schoolboy. “If you don’t mind.” “I, uh, well--” He shifted in place, trying like mad to come up with something. “Unless the idea makes you uncomfortable...?” He blinked then, understanding dawning at last. Sure as Jayne loved guns, that woman was playing him, poor health and all. Why, that little....Just ‘cuz she was educated fancy didn’t mean she could pull one over on Malcom Reynolds. Hell, she wanted to play? He was game. “Inara...ain’t nothin’ uncomfortable ‘bout viewin’ the human body in its natural state.” Even he had trouble gettin’ that one out. He had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing. “I--I’m glad you think so.” What was happening? He should have been halfway out the door by now. Unless...oh, go suh. Did he know? He couldn’t possibly. Head cold be damned, Inara intended to win this round. She rose to her knees in the center of the bed. And waited. He crossed the room slowly, eyeing her as though she might at any moment draw a gun. He hesitated at the edge of the bed. When she made no move to inch closer, he raised one knee, then the other, till they knelt facing each other. When he finally dared meet her gaze, she smiled. Not an “I’m playing you” smile. A “thanks for being a good friend” smile. Don’t fall for that, he warned. Ai ya, his gorramn hands were shaking. Oh, please don’t let her notice. His hands were shaking. The knowledge had her whole body going warm with glee. Or maybe it was fever. Immaterial. She was so close to winning this. Any second now, he’d back away, babbling about captainy business or the like. Slowly, she turned her back, allowing him access to the zipper. She twisted her hair up in one hand and waited. “Mal? Is something wrong?” she asked after a long moment in which he made no move to touch her. “Yeah. I mean no. Nope, nothin’ wrong.” Easy now. She’s playing you. Woman unleashed her wiles and they’ll eat you alive lest you get a hold. Easy, boy. Do this nice and slow. He raised his left hand and placed it flat against her back. With his right, he found the little zipper hidden in the silk of her gown. He lowered the zipper with his right hand, allowing the left to stroke over newly-bared flesh. Oh, dear God, he hoped she was playing him. Elsewise this was all manner of inappropriate and him a lecherous hump for taking advantage. She made a small sound like a sigh, and his hands froze in place. This wasn’t how it should have gone. It shouldn’t have gone this way at all. What was wrong with him? Why wouldn’t he give already? Ren si de fo zu, her head hurt. Okay. She’d had her fun, game over. Sure, he could appreciate a good rib-tickler. But enough was enough. Time to show the lady your poker face. “Lift your arms,” he instructed. If she was surprised, she didn’t show it. She just inched closer, raising her arms over her head. He was going to do it. He was actually going to take off her nightgown. *I’m gonna do it. I’m actually gonna take off her nightgown-thingy.* His fingers brushed her calves, gathering the material at the hem. Slowly he bunched it in his fists, dragged both hands up her body. His knuckles grazed her breasts as he lifted the gown over her head. And then he was holding it, clutching the silk in his hands as he stared down at her back, naked to the waist where matching red panties blocked his view of anything lower. He suddenly felt very lightheaded, wondered in an offhanded way if what she had was catching. Breathe, she commanded, compelling her lungs to take in air. There’s nothing awkward about nakedness. She’d seen Mal naked, just weeks earlier when Saffron dropped him in the desert without a stitch. Surely his boldness then was a facade, affected to hold on to whatever dignity one could muster in such a situation. Surely he couldn’t be so casual about striding naked into the cargo bay. At any rate, she wasn’t completely nude. She’d worn backless gowns that revealed as much, worn them in front of hundreds of strangers without feeling the slightest bit of discomfort. She wasn’t self-conscious; what a ridiculous thought. It was merely the fever, pinking her skin and coloring her judgment. One thing was certain: she had no intention of giving the captain a free show. Deliberately, she reached around him for the tee shirt, shifting so her bare back pressed against the front of his chest. Oh, why did his chest have to feel so warm? It was confusing her purpose in this. Casually, she dropped the tee shirt into his lap, offered up a sweet smile over her shoulder, and waited. One move and he could be holding her. All he need do was grab ahold of her arm, turn her about to face him. Assuming the sight of her full-frontal glory didn’t kill him outright, he could be kissing her in under five seconds. No. He wouldn’t just take. She weren’t his for the grabbing. If they were gonna do this--and holy hell, maybe they were--he’d have to ask proper. He laid a hand on her shoulder, cupped his palm over the slender bone. “Inara--” She sneezed, gave a rather unladylike groan and reached for his handkerchief. He realized he hadn’t been breathing for some time now. He let the air out in a rush and grabbed hold of the tee shirt, dragging it roughly over her head. Moving quickly now, he maneuvered her arms through the sleeves, tried to tug the whole thing down without feeling her up too much in the process. “There now.” He turned her over, avoiding her eyes and the light in case his ears still burned. “Better?” In truth, she wasn’t at all sure. What in a thousand worlds just happened? Suddenly she was exhausted. Her head was pounding, her entire body quivering with...something. Chills probably. Of course. Chills: what else? She bobbed her head to indicate the affirmative, let him tuck the covers up to her breast. He stood up, stepping back from the bed. “You, uh, you need anything else?” “No.” She smiled, meeting his gaze. “I’m cozy.” “Guess I should let you sleep then.” “Good night, Mal.” “Night, Nara.” *** He kept the grin to himself on the way out. Woman was indisposed, after all. No need to rub it in her face. Anyway, they both knew the truth. Nobody--not nobody--played Malcom Reynolds. *** She’d played him. Even at half strength, she bested him. That man was as clay under her touch. She’d seen the way he walked from her shuttle. If his pants weren’t tight before....She was still smiling when she closed her eyes. This shirt really is cozy’ was her last coherent thought before sleep took her. *** Hope you guys enjoyed this. I’ve been home sick the past couple days and found myself day-dreaming about a certain swai ship’s captain. Inara’s so lucky. *Sigh.* ;)


Wednesday, March 29, 2006 4:36 PM


Phew... I think I might be gettin' a touch o' that fever my own self <grin>

Very yummy! Sorry to hear you've been under the weather... boy, it'd be worth it to be taken care of by Mal tho, I can't blame you for your day-dreams.. hell, I don't have to be sick to have those day-dreams <wink>

I love the last lines, the way they both think they got the better of the other, so *them*! Squee! Love!!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 4:39 PM


oh very nice. You should do more of these! Though don't neglect your series, cause I love that too! :)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 4:43 PM



*claps hands happily*

Funny and hilarious (and, okay, both mean the same thing - but I laughed out loud SEVERAL times). Sweet and touching too.

I love them - and I love the way you write them. Getting their dialogue and interaction and everything spot-on. Perfect.

I'm so sorry your sick, tho! *hands you chicken broth*

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 5:04 PM


This was so very cute! They just don't know what to do with themselves, do they?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 6:10 PM


Wow even when sick, you turn out some good quality fic, Kaynara:)

And yeah....I am with Goldy here...ROFL calibre stuff here. Even when sick, Inara can't let the good Captain win....sigh;)


Thursday, March 30, 2006 1:36 AM


The Mal and Inara piece was wonderful and I loved it that they both thought they had won that little battle of the wiles. Cute. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, March 30, 2006 11:55 AM


I loved it! Had me laughing out loud pretty much constantly. Hope you feel better!!! :)

Friday, March 31, 2006 4:57 AM


mmm, don't we all need a Mal of our own to lend a tee shirt when we're sick...


Friday, March 31, 2006 8:30 AM


That was great, very cute and funny. Wouldn't mind some more of these one-shots in the same vein Kaynara.

Thursday, April 6, 2006 5:57 PM


Loved this! I had a silly grin plastered on my face by the end. This was so cute, and I think it's definately a cure for what ails ya, if the "ya" happens to be a Mal/Inara shipper. Great work, and I hope you're on the road to recovery and composing some more of the fantastic "Bed and Wine"

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 4:12 AM


oh captain, i'm feeling a little *dramatic hand on forehead*...feverish.



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