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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Inara tells Mal a secret from her past. Kaylee has trouble concentrating. River brings Inara to tears and Zoe offers to help. Mal/Inara. Simon/Kaylee. 34th story in a series. PLEASE read the warning at the beginning of this story.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1445 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Title: Dreams and Nightmares
Synopsis: Inara tells Mal a secret from her past. Kaylee has trouble concentrating. River brings Inara to tears and Zoe offers to help.
Timeline: 3 months after wedding, 2 months after All Good Things Must Come to an End
Notes: Next part of a series beginning with : And So It Begins, Kiss Me, Coming Together, Tell Me, What’s Proper?, Tears , Peekaboo, Impatient, Waking Up is Hard to Do, The Talk, I See You, Exhaustion, Moving Day, Celebration, Surprise , Vacation, Reunion, Manipulation, Baby Talk, A First Time for Everything, The Way It Is, A Special Day, Girl Talk, The Gift, Breaking It In, Making Plans, Friends and Enemies, Where I Belong , Private Time , All good things must come to an end, Moving On, Questions and Answers
Disclaimer: This story is not meant to infringe on the copyright of any person or company related to the trademarked characters and situations depicted in the Serenity movie or Firefly series. I make no money from this. Only done for fun - and a desperate craving to have more stories told about this wonderful ‘verse Joss Whedon created.
WARNING: This story references events that may be disturbing to some readers. They are not overly graphic, but they are referenced. The topic deals with rape.
People handle this type of trauma in different ways, and I really wanted to explore what would happen if it happened to someone in the Firefly 'verse.
As always, please let this play out to its end. Right now there are quite a few stories left in this series. You may be surprised, or not, where it ends up leading.
This story took a bit longer for me to get out than I'd intended. As a result, it is a bit longer than some previous ones.
Enjoy and please comment on what you liked, didn't, guess what's going to happen next, or simply curse me for being evil. It's all good.
The lights had been dimmed for the sleep cycle and the only sound was the soft hum of the engine as it cycled slowly. Some were tucked away in their beds, asleep, some – were not.
Inara whimpered quietly. It was always worse in her sleeping dreams than her waking nightmares. Reliving the experience as if it had just happened, rather than all those years ago. She’d been helpless then. Powerless to do anything. He was too large, to heavy, holding her down, forcing himself upon her, into her.
It had taken many long months before she could even look at another man. And even then she cringed and trembled when they touched her. She spent months recovering, learning her trade again with the male companions living in the training house.
And then, years later, it had happened again. This time in her own home, in her fortress of solitude.
Inara felt her skin crawl as the man held her down. He tore her dress, the silk ripping way from her body like water through a showerhead. Dimly, she heard the roar of the mule’s return but she could hear nothing else over the man’s heavy breathing and the pounding of her own heart.
She struggled to reach the weapons she had hidden so long ago and never had to use. But she was too late, the deed had been done by the time she’d plunged those pins into the man’s exposed neck, piercing and severing important arteries.
Inara inhaled sharply and bolted upright, her eyes wide, her breath coming in huge, gaping pants.
Mal was instantly awake beside her, watching, waiting for her to sink into his arms to chase the dreams away. He watched with growing concern as her body trembled. But the fear in her eyes shook him to the very core.
Mal reached for her but she shrank away. “’Nara, gorramit, why won’t you talk to me?”
Inara closed her eyes and choked back a sob. “It happened so long ago, Mal. I don’t want to relive it all again.”
“An these dreams ain’t relivin’ it?” he countered effectively. He didn’t understand why she wouldn’t talk to him. He didn’t want to push but he was damn frustrated. The dreams had been going on for far too long, and they seemed to be getting worse.
“It’s different than saying the words, Mal.” Inara sighed, weighing, not for the first time since she’d begun having the nightmares, if maybe talking about it with him would help her. But she was ashamed. Ashamed that it had happened to her, not once, but twice. There was nothing he could do now. She’d heard it all before.
“Why don’t you try?” he prompted gently.
“I was raped.” The revelation was quick and far less painful than she anticipated it would be. She felt a weight lift off her shoulders and she inhaled a deep, steady breath.
That Mal wasn’t expecting this sudden revelation was clearly obvious in the way his mouth fell open and moved wordlessly, as if trying to form some sort of response. Mal could only gape at her, his eyes wide with disbelief. When his mind finally wrapped itself around this information, rage instantly welled in his heart and his hands clenched at his sides.
He and Simon had discussed this possibility. Wondering, in the days after those men had boarded Serenity, if Kaylee and Inara had suffered that fate. But Inara had said nothing to him about it, and after a few days Kaylee even seemed on the mend. Not behavior he would consider to be indicative of such a violent act. He and Simon had spoken no more on the subject.
He watched the interplay of emotion cross Inara’s face, from hesitation to disgust to fear and then she shivered, so slightly if he didn’t know her body so well he would have missed it. He wanted to reach out, to pull her into his arms and chase away all the fear, but he also wanted her to tell him, to talk to him. So he waited, his body wound so tight with tension and anger he had to clench his fists from screaming out in rage.
Inara inhaled a slow, calming breath as the memories and the feelings associated with them washed freshly through her mind. She trembled and rubbed her arms with suddenly cold hands. “It was a long time ago. It’s been a while since I thought about it. I guess the attack –“
Mal narrowed his eyes. Something wasn’t right. She wasn’t talking about – he shook his head, struggling to understand. “Wait – when did this happen?”
Inara stared at some unidentifiable object on a far wall and continued, her voice devoid of all emotion, all feeling. “I was young. I didn’t know how to fight back. I went to my client’s home. An elegant place, really. We had a lovely time and then – he just – he became angry, his grip tighter, bruising my arms. I asked him to stop. The request only angered him. I tried to fight back but that just enraged him further. He wanted to control. It was not about sex, he’d already paid for that. It was never about sex.”
Mal let out a long string of curses and sat up biting his tongue against any further outburst. He knew she needed to continue. He wanted her to continue. He needed to hear what she had to say.
She repeated the words her councilor had drilled into her head, over and over. “It is part of my past but I am no longer defined or controlled by it. I received the best counseling the Core could offer, and I recovered. I learned that it was his way of exerting power over me; a much smaller, weaker person. It wasn’t my fault.” Inara took a deep breath, exhaled it slowly. “The dreams haven’t been this bad in a long time, but they, too, will pass.” And they had, for a time. But Inara would never forget. The physical scars were long gone but the emotional ones would be with her for the rest of her life.
“What can I do?” He needed to do something. It didn’t matter that what had happened was far in her past. It was haunting her present and he could do something about that.
Inara smiled gratefully at him and leaned against his chest. “You’re doing it. Just by being here.”
“I’ll always be here,” he assured her, pressing a kiss to her temple. He wanted to know what happened and he tried to be patient, to wait until she wanted to continue, but when she didn’t, he found himself asking anyway. “Did they get him?”
“He was prosecuted.”
Mal frowned. That hadn’t been the answer he was expecting. But, then again, Inara rarely provided information without twisting it in some indefinable way to suit her purpose. “Meaning?”
Inara knew nothing short of telling Mal the man was castrated and thrown in prison would satisfy him now. She could feel the tension in his body, even though he held her with a gentility that no one would have ever known he possessed.
“Meaning it is done and over with.”
“Obviously not for you.” The irritation in his voice was evident.
Inara sighed, hoping, praying that he would let this go. It wouldn’t do either of them any good now. “He was publicly admonished and removed from the client database.”
“That’s it?” Mal could feel his heart rate quicken and his lips twist in disgust.
“He was fined and jailed for a time.”
“What was his name?”
She suddenly felt nauseous. She knew instantly why he wanted the name. “No, Mal.”
She almost laughed at the innocent look that passed across his face. She could read him like a book. “It is in my past. I don’t need you to go off after him for something that was done fifteen years ago. Your anger now will not help me. Please – let it go.”
Mal grumbled and leaned back into the mattress, dropping the subject – for now.
“Thank you, Mal.” Sleep eluded her as she closed her eyes and settled against him.
Instead of the nightmares of her past, visions of her future, and of her more recent betrayal, flashed through her mind. Bile rose in her throat and she trembled in his arms as she thought about how long it had taken her to recover, how long it took her to trust again. She couldn’t let that happen to bright, happy Kaylee.
She wouldn’t let another go through the pain and heartache that she had endured. Not if it was in her power to stop it. And stopped it she had, with skills she had acquired after years of training and practical use. She helped Kaylee bury the true memories so deep it would be near impossible to remember them.
Kaylee wiped the beads of sweat off her forehead with a grease-stained rag, cursing her inability to find a solution to what should have been a few simple problems. She was tired, it was late, and she just wanted to crawl into bed. But she had been working on small problems all evening, her agitation growing as it took longer and longer to complete each simple task.
She muttered to herself and stood quickly to locate a tool with which to clamp two wires together while she re-routed some non-essential power. But she stood too fast and found herself off balance and suddenly dizzy. She reached out to clutch something steady, her fingers finding and gripping her workbench tight enough to turn her knuckles white.
She heard a sudden sound and glanced around the room, annoyed that she could still be startled by the tiniest noise. It had taken a few months for her to be comfortable in the engine room again after Early had violated it, but the unease had faded with time. Now, she just had to get by the fear that someone was just waiting around the corner, hidden in some deep, dark recessed shadow, to grab her.
Kaylee groaned and closed her eyes for a minute as bile rose in the back of her throat. When she opened her eyes, her vision blurred momentarily before righting itself. With a resigned determination, she pushed the disturbing feelings aside and turned to rummage around on her cluttered desk. Just as she knelt behind the engine once again, Simon appeared in the doorway, eyes searching the open space for his wife.
He gaped in her general direction when he heard her let loose a string of curses that would have made even Jayne take pause. His brow furrowed at the very un-Kayleelike behavior.
“Kaylee?” he walked around the room until he saw half her body protruding from beneath the engine.
At the sound of his voice, Kaylee pushed herself with a decidedly unladylike grunt out from beneath the large hunk of metal. “Oh, hi sweetie.”
He stared down at her in concern. “You okay?” He’d noticed her slowly getting crankier and was worried she was pushing herself too hard.
“Oh, fine. Just frustrated that it’s taken me so long to do such simple things t’night. It’s all done now, though.”
Simon craned his neck to look at all the unfamiliar parts. “Swear it into behaving?”
Kaylee swung a very dirty hand at his clean sweater. “Hah. Very funny.”
Simon stepped back and caught her hand in his, quickly covering it and brushing his fingers lightly against the back of her wrist. “Time for bed, right?”
Kaylee grinned coyly at him and shrugged. “I dunno, sweetie, I have a lotta work ta do. Press regulator been actin’ up an then the grav –“
Simon pulled her into his arms and kissed her long and deep. When they finally parted, Kaylee giggled. “They can wait, though. Do no good t’night anyway. Can’t seem to fix the simplest problems.”
“You’ll feel better after a good nights sleep,” Simon wrapped his arm around her shoulders and led her out of the room.
Kaylee raised an amused eyebrow knowing she didn’t just hear him say that. He wasn’t planning on letting her get to sleep anytime soon. Not with that twinkle in his eyes and swai smile turning up the corner of his lips.
Kaylee glanced apologetically back at the engine, looking forward to her husband’s relaxing touch. She had been so tense lately, and so anxious, that it felt so good to just crawl into bed and have Simon use those talented hands to massage away the day’s troubles.
Even after a night of exhausting passion, she would have to feel better, more coherent than she did now. If Simon hadn’t come to fetch her, she’d probably have done more damage trying to fix the little problems, making more work for herself in the morning anyway.
As they walked, Simon noticed her thoughts seemed far away. “What are you thinking?”
Kaylee shook her head and smiled brightly at him as he opened the door to their room and she stepped inside. “Oh, nothin’”
Simon simply stared at her eyebrows raised ever so slightly, his face emotionless. A sure sign that he hadn’t believed her lie. He reached behind him to slide the door shut and simply waited.
The corners of Kaylee’s mouth curled into a teasing smile when he reached out and slid his hands around her neck, thumbs brushing against the long, smooth skin while the smaller digits slid beneath her overalls to trail lightly over her collarbone.
Kaylee’s head fell back and her eyes fluttered closed as he slowly slid the material off her shoulders. She simply stood there, relishing the feel of his hand as it slowly drew the zipper down to its end. A soft sigh escaped her lips and then a much deeper moan when she felt his lips close over that sensitive part of her neck. Whenever he wanted something that was the first place he reached for, knowing what it did to her.
“You sure it’s nothing?” She felt him whisper as his mouth traveled to that sensitive point beneath her ear.
Simon grinned against her skin and pulled her against him, not entirely satisfied that nothing was wrong. But when she rubbed her body suggestively against his, all questions disintegrated from his mind, to be replaced by an overwhelming desire to pleasure his wife until she cried out his name in ecstasy.
“Gonna harm that little weasel if he backs outta helpin’ us.” Jayne lumbered onto the bridge after the morning meal was eaten in relative silence.
“He’s afraid. He’ll help us, whether he wants to or not.” River didn’t look at Jayne, simply stared out into the black.
Jayne looked down at the Cortex screen. “Nothin’ yet?”
“He won’t make contact unless he has some useful information.”
“Yeah, well he better be doin’ it soon or –“ He suddenly noticed River’s melancholy mood and narrowed his eyes. She hadn’t been quite right for the last few months, maybe longer. “You feelin’ all right, Crazy? That no good brother a yours been payin’ ‘nuff attention to ya?”
River still didn’t look at him but she hid a smile as she turned away from his concerned gaze. “Fine, Jayne.”
“Yeah, well you don’t look fine ta me. Maybe the doc should take a look at –“
“Thank you,” River said suddenly, and one could have blown Jayne over with a feather he was so surprised.
Confusion passed across his roughened features. “What for?”
Jayne’s brow furrowed.
River turned her head slowly regarded the mercenary with a steady, unwavering look. “You’re not as mean as you look. You protect us. Care for us in your own way.”
Jayne opened his mouth to refute her words but she just laughed.
“Tough boy with a girl’s name cares.”
“Yeah, right, crazy. ‘bout as much as anyone can with the misfits on this boat.”
“We’re family. Been through a lot together. Made us strong.”
Jayne pursed his lips, thinking on her words. “Yeah, suppose you’re right.”
“Need to be strong. It’s not over.”
Jayne misunderstood. “Ain’t over until that hundan Niska is dead.”
River turned unblinking eyes on him and he felt a sudden chill sweep into his body. He stalked off the bridge as fast as he could, the chill following him all the way to his bunk.
“Anything I can do to help?”
Inara jumped as the disembodied voice reached her ears. A moment later, Zoe stood behind her, reaching out to steady the trembling cup in her hands.
“Oh, Zoe, hello.” Inara smiled politely and placed her other hand over the rim of her teacup to steady it. She moved toward the table and sank into the nearest chair.
“You’ve been tired.” Zoe poured herself a glass of water and took a seat opposite Inara.
“Oh, it’s nothing a bit more sleep won’t cure.” Inara sipped her tea, gripping the cup tightly to keep her hands from shaking.
Zoe said nothing, simply looked at Inara with those all seeing eyes.
The former Companion dropped her gaze, uncomfortable with what she felt was a scrutinizing look from the woman.
“If there’s anything I can do –“
“Nothing,” Inara said a bit too quickly. ”Thank you for the offer.” She turned a polite, strained smile on Zoe.
The older woman nodded and stood. She turned to walk away but she hesitated, saying over her shoulder, “I know what you’re going through. If you need to talk, you know where I am.”
Inara’s breath caught and she gaped at Zoe as she walked out of the room without looking back.
“You can imagine I ain’t his favorite person right now.” Badger tugged uncomfortably at his collar. “No way he’ll take another job from me.”
“I will make it quite – lucrative, of course.”
“I –“ Badger swallowed nervously, frantically trying to find a way out of this mess. “I will ask him, but I’m sure he’ll tell me to shove the offer up my –”
“You’re somewhat intelligent, I’m sure you will find a way to persuade Captain Reynolds to accept.”
Badger steeled himself for the threat.
Niska leaned forward and stared into the screen. “And if you can’t, I’m sure I can find someone who will.”
Badger leapt at this chance to back out. He could take care of Mal on his own. It was Niska that truly worried him. The man had a reputation for all kinds of unpleasantness. “Well, yes it might be a good idea if you –“
“I’m sure you are quite aware of the – consequences that befall those who take a job and fail to deliver the agreed upon goods.” Niska leaned slowly back in his chair and smiled malevolently as a scream echoed from behind him.
Badger shook his head, his legs now shaking nearly as much as his hands. “I did my part! They just left the drop point too soon!”
“And it was your responsibility to keep them there. I will not accept failure again.”
The Cortex screen flicked off and Badger hurled a long stream of Chinese at it, cursing every living or dead ancestor of Adeli Niska and Malcom Reynolds.
“Listen you little weasel,” Mal leaned forward and looked straight into the screen. “I don’t care what he thinks. You set it up.”
Badger gently touched his cheek where the scar of his previous encounter with Malcom Reynolds puckered against his fingers. “You know as well as I do, Captain Reynolds, that Niska isn’t the sort to –“
“He hadda know we weren’t dead when his goons didn’t return. Sos I figure he’ll be contactin’ you again to set up another job.” Mal grinned conspiratorially at Zoe, who stood out of Badger’s view. “So you let us know when he does, dong ma?”
Badger considered this for a moment before smiling spitefully. “Oh yes, I will definitely be lettin’ you know.”
Mal grinned, knowing Badger had a plan up his sleeve. He’d been doing this for far too long, and been burned one too many times, to trust Badger now. He wouldn’t blindly put his crew at risk again.
“We’ll be waitin’.”
“Contacting that man is easier said than done, my friend.” The sickly smile on Badger’s face caused tendrils of disgust to race down Mal’s spine.
“Don’t be mistakin’ this deal we got goin’ for friendship there Badger.”
Badger smiled politely, his eyes twinkling. “Wouldn’t dream of it.”
“Good. Get us that job with Niska.”
Badger nodded and grinned crookedly as the screen flickered out.
“Man gives me all manner of creeps, Sir.”
“He’s already got somethin’ in the works.”
“That’s obvious, Sir.”
Mal leaned back in the chair and smiled at the dark screen. “But so do I.”
River swept into the room as Inara sat staring intently into her teacup. The girl glanced away from the former Companion when Inara looked up and offered a forced smile. She perched herself on the end of the table and watched Inara carefully, noting the tension radiating off the older woman.
“What can I do for you, sweetie?” Inara asked after prying her eyes from her cup.
Inara forced a small smile. “Simon isn’t around to –“
“Busy with Kaylee. Don’t want to interrupt.”
“I see.” Inara glanced down at her hands forcing herself not to think of the delicate fingers holding the antique necklace Kaylee and Simon had received as a wedding gift from his parents. Try as she might, she couldn’t get the image out of her mind. She stood suddenly, nearly spilling the remainder of her tea.
River looked away as the emotions and the guilt and the pain washed through her slim form, nearly knocking her over. She knew, of course, about everything, but it was still overwhelming nonetheless.
Inara tried to steady the cup but her hands shook so violently that she gave up and backed away from the table. “I’m sorry, River, sweetie, I’m not feeling well. I think I’ll go lie down.” Inara made her escape but only got so far as the common room before her heart threatened to pound through her chest and she became so dizzy she couldn’t stand. She sank onto the couch with a barely audible sob and closed her eyes, willing the nausea away.
In her mind, she could see the necklace swinging like a tiny pendulum in front of Kaylee’s eyes. Her calm, soothing words combined with the heirloom sending the younger girl into a deep meditative trance.
With a little prompting, a few carefully worded questions, and Kaylee remembered everything of that day. Inara whimpered as she remembered what the distraught mechanic had said, recounting everything that had happened to her, down to the most disgusting detail.
Inara sat horrified while Kaylee narrated the event as if she had witnessed it apart from her own body. But then she had done an unspeakable thing. In an effort to protect this sweet, bubbly, energetic girl, Inara had used her training to block the horrible memories. To make Kaylee forget it ever happened.
There were days when she couldn’t come out of her shuttle, where the guilt was so strong that she felt on the verge of telling Kaylee everything. But then she would see how content the girl was with her life and her husband, and Inara couldn’t bring herself to destroy that happiness. And she knew it would utterly and completely destroy her cheerful friend. Snuff out that bright light that glittered around her, and everyone she touched, like a halo placed there by God himself.
But today, the guilty memories were too much. She’d become far too emotional over the last few weeks and she knew it would only get worse. Overwhelmed with sadness, her emotional tolerance at its weakest level that she could ever remember, Inara broke down into tears, her sobs piercing the quiet of the room.
Suddenly, River was kneeling at her side, her own eyes full of unshed tears. “It’s hard. I know,” she said. No malice or hurt intent in her tone. She simply wrapped her arms around the older woman’s waist and hugged her tight, pressing a smooth cheek to her stomach with a soft sigh.
Inara hesitated for a moment, but only a moment, as the shock of River’s admission hit her. She threaded her fingers into the girl’s long hair and held her cheek against rumbling stomach, praying that everything would somehow work itself right and the pain and heartache would end.
“I’m sorry,” River whispered against her abdomen, her tears wetting Inara’s fine silk dress.
Inara gulped wondering what River meant by her comments and her apology. She was afraid to think on it further, knowing the girl could read her mind. But when River buried her cheek even tighter against her stomach, Inara whimpered, realizing that this hell she was living may just never end – even if she could bring herself to reveal everything.
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