BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

NESS

Ceremony
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Post BDM; Inara discovers a gift addressed to her and wonders who it's from.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2299    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Disclaimer: All is owned by Joss.

A/N: This fic was written way back in January as a birthday gift for 2x2. Who, by coincidence, also beta-ed it. So thanks to 2x2 for getting me to write this and for going through it.

**************

Inara found the package sitting on the table.

It was positioned so it was the first thing she saw when she entered the kitchen. Sitting beside the package was a small piece of cardboard folded in half with her name written on it.

She stopped just short of the table, dumbfounded for the lack of a better word. When she told the crew she would be staying on board Serenity rather than returning to the training house there had been a small celebration, but no gifts, simply because she had insisted so. Money was always in deficit on the ship and she had seen no reason for the crew to waste some funds on her. She was returning to be with friends. What more did she need?

Slowly, Inara approached the table, examining the package and the piece of cardboard. She didn’t recognize the handwriting, but her name was written in bold capital letters so it was hard to discern. The package itself was wrapped up in simple general store brown paper.

Maybe Kaylee bought it while planetside, Inara thought to herself. Currently the crew was all off ship, enjoying some rare free time before they had to leave for their next job. Inara herself had just returned from seeing an old client who had been delighted to hear she would be in the area.

It seemed doubtful the package was from Kaylee, as Inara thought about it more. The mechanic was fond of presenting gifts in person and even if she wanted it to be a surprise she would have remained on the ship just to share in the excitement. Inara sat down in a chair, pondering the situation further. She couldn’t picture the others buying her a gift and leaving it out for her to find. It just felt too... intimate.

“Oh, just open it,” she muttered to herself. What would the harm be anyway? Someone had bought something for her and obviously meant for her to enjoy it, not stare at it as if it were going to explode.

She reached for the package and tore off the wrapping. When she exposed what lay underneath, she was genuinely surprised. She hadn’t been expecting this.

“When did you get back?”

The sound of Mal’s voice cut through silence of the kitchen. Startled, Inara nearly dropped her gift. “You could have given me some warning.”

“You didn’t hear the clompin’ of my boots?” asked Mal. He slipped off his brown coat and threw it over the back of a chair. “Must have been pretty distracted, considerin’ your heightened Companion senses and all.”

While she knew that Mal was happy to have her back onboard, he rarely seemed to show it. A day after she had decided to return to Serenity, they had gotten into one of their familiar arguments. Though it had been during their verbal sparring that Inara realized just how much she missed being on this ship.

“I found this sitting on the table, addressed to me.” She showed Mal the gift, not bothering to hide it from him. He was bound to find out about it anyway.

He stopped searching through the cabinets to look briefly at the writing on the outside of it. “It’s tea,” he stated, clearly unimpressed.

“It’s White tea,” Inara corrected, indicating to the type of tea on the box. “I’ve only seen it be sold on Sihnon.”

“So a back water slum ain’t got the right to sell some frilly tea?”

Inara stopped herself from making an inappropriate reply; it would only serve to fuel the sparks for a heated argument. “I’m simply surprised. I told the crew they didn’t need to get me anything to welcome me back.”

Mal returned to the table with a protein bar, a bite already missing from it. “It’s just a pricey tea, Inara. Ain’t exactly somethin’ unfamiliar to a Companion.”

She watched Mal take another bite of his protein bar. As he was chewing, she asked, “How do you know it’s expensive?”

He paused before swallowing the bite. “Just figured. Anythin’ from Sihnon’s gotta come with a high price.”

“So are you suggesting that I come with a high price as well?” Inara asked her question coolly, well aware of what she was getting in to.

The protein bar was crushed in Mal’s hand as his grip tightened around it. “I ain’t sayin’ that. I just–” Rather than completing his sentence, he reached for his coat. “Y’know what, I’ve got things to do. Got no time to stand about, yakkin’ about tea.” He headed for the door.

Inara made no attempt to follow. “You could have just given me the tea.”

A few steps away from the door, Mal came to a stop.

“I know how expensive White tea is. You didn’t need to do this, Mal.”

There was silence for a moment. “You took your supply of tea with you when you left.” Mal didn’t turn around. “Gotta have somethin’ for that tea ceremony you’re always pullin’ out for the clients.”

If Mal had chosen to turn around he would have seen the smile appear on Inara’s lips. “I appreciate the sentiment, Mal. Thank you.”

“Yeah, well...” He started up the steps to exit the room, leaving Inara alone. But just in the doorway, Mal paused and glanced back over his shoulder. “Welcome home.”

Inara’s smile deepened. Mal, she thought. Always a mystery.

COMMENTS

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 1:49 PM

AMDOBELL


Oh yeah, like woman he's a mystery and that's part of why Inara loves him. Ali D :~)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 2:34 PM

2X2


yay! It's here!
I sooo love this story, and not just because it was my birthday present, but because it's so sweet and so very *them*

I can just *hear* the way Inara says “You could have just given me the tea.” It's so perfect...

I hope everyone reads this and takes the time to comment, because now that Exams are over for Ness, she's gonna have more writin' time on her hands *G* So some encouragement would not be amiss!!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 4:28 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Oh yeah....this is the kind of private moment that we all want (well....those who ship Mal/Inara anyway) and that Joss would provide us:)

BEB

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 5:48 PM

ARCADIA


awww. that was so sweet in a very mal/inara not sugary but very touching way. :-) Very, very nice. I really liked the moment when Inara said, "You could have just given me the tea." It rang perfectly.

Saturday, July 1, 2006 4:14 AM

BELLONA


mmm, warm and fuzzy-makin'...

b


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