First of Many
Thursday, April 27, 2006

Mal and Inara enjoy a moment as the crew heads back to Serenity. BEB warning *wink*: Fluffy-like.


Written for the LJ community FF_Friday’s Challenge #117 – School Rating: G Word Count: 913 Spoilers: None

First of Many by 2x2

The sun was setting low on the horizon as the crew of Serenity headed out of town, making their way back to the ship leisurely. River and Kaylee chased each other, weaving between everyone in an exuberant game of tag that Jayne enjoyed watching with a leering grin. Simon chastised him to pay attention to the road, fussing over the new diagnostic scanner they had picked up for the infirmary as the mercenary walked the slow moving hover-dolly. Zoe brought up the rear, eyes alert as always for any sign of danger, hanging far enough back that Mal and Inara found themselves alone together in the midst of them all.

Mal walked easily, pleased with the afternoon’s dealings and seemed content to let his mind wander as they kept to the relaxed pace set by the hover-dolly.

“So, um” said Inara conversationally, “when did you read Coleridge?”

“Huh?” said Mal, blinking as he was brought out of his thoughts. “What?”

“Coleridge. I asked when you read Coleridge.”

“Oh! Oh, years ago,” he said, smiling as he realized that she hadn’t forgotten his quip to her, about his reading a poem, back at the Training House all those weeks ago. “‘Was one of the poems my Momma taught me for my schoolin’.”

“Your mother was a teacher?”

“No, not as such. ‘Owned an’ managed our ranch an’ about forty-odd hands back on Shadow, but, well… Closest school was too far away for me to go, but didn’t mean I got away with not learnin’.” He grinned. “My Momma took it to mind that I was to have an education that encompassed more’n horses and cows. An’ when she put her mind to somethin’, weren’t near nothin’ in the ‘verse could change her will on it, let me tell you.”

“Hmm,” smiled Inara. “That doesn’t sound at all like anyone I know,” she teased lightly, careful not to push beyond the bounds of the friendly bantering they’d worked hard to establish over the last few weeks.

“I’m certain it doesn’t,” he agreed wryly and she smiled, her eyes sliding away from him almost bashfully.

“So, you had tutors?” she urged him to continue, narrowing the distance between them gradually as they walked until they were as shoulder to shoulder as their disparate heights allowed.

Mal chuckled. “No, no. No fancy tutelage. My Mamma taught me herself, at home every mid-afternoon. ‘Said it was important to learn more than just the workings of the ranch, not that that weren’t important, mind, but freedom, she said, was the most important thing in the ‘verse. And bein’ educated would give me the means to have any sort of freedom I might aim to. Can’t say she was far wrong,” he said wistfully.

“No,” Inara agreed, her own thoughts drifting to her mother and the last time she had seen her. “She sounds like a remarkable woman.”

Mal nodded. “She was. ‘Spect she’d have liked you more’n a little,” he added and Inara looked up at him in surprise before dropping her gaze again, swallowing with a sudden nervous shiver.

“I would’ve liked to have met her,” she said at length quietly and it was Mal’s turn to look at her. She met his eyes and he smiled, soft and genuine, and as they walked he grasped her fingers briefly as they brushed his and squeezed gently before letting them go again. Inara let out a breath, feeling her heart speed up as she glanced down at their hands and then back up at him but he was looking away from her now, back up the road where River and Kaylee were laughing and ducking behind Simon much to the doctor’s consternation.

Heart beating wildly, she let her little finger brush against him again, drawing his attention back to her and their hands. His gaze flicked down to where their fingers touched, then back up to her eyes as she looked at him timidly and she saw the barest hint of a smile touch his lips as he linked his pinky with hers and then turned his eyes back to the road. Inara dipped her head, feeling a smile steal over her lips, seeing a similar look overtake his features in her peripheral vision as he glanced at her out of the corner of his eye.

They were silent the rest of the way back, content just to be in each other’s presence until Mal had to rush forward suddenly to keep the hover-dolly from tilting over sideways as Jayne finally got fed up with Simon and let the handles go, nearly crushing the doc in the process, and the moment ended at last. Inara smiled as Mal cussed out Jayne and groused at Simon, throwing an apologetic look over his shoulder that she would have missed if she hadn’t been staring. She boarded Serenity with a smile as she passed him and the cargo, giving him her own look back over her shoulder as she climbed the stairs to her shuttle, quivering at the way his eyes barely left her as he and Simon loosed the straps on the scanner.

Safe within her shuttle, she let herself fall back onto the cushions of her couch with a sigh, pulling a pillow into her arms and holding it tightly as she thought of all the other moments they had to look forward to, delighting in the knowledge that tonight’s had been but the first step of many to come.


Thursday, April 27, 2006 8:31 PM


While I am happy I earned a special content warning, I dunno if it's really necessary;)

I what ya did here. Perfect little scene here; takes all the characters into consideration (strengths, weaknesses, habits, etc.); focuses on the Mal/Inara fluffiness and ends on a great introspective note:)

I really like the fluffy plot bunnies you have hoppin' 'round here, 2x2. Shows great skill when you can do both Joss-quality angst AND fluffy personal moments:D


Thursday, April 27, 2006 11:17 PM


You captured a lovely scene of shy uncertainty. Very 'cute' (I hate that word but it really fits here!)

Friday, April 28, 2006 12:51 AM


Awww and I have to agree with Tayeatra, cute does apply :)
Hope there's more to come :)


Sunday, April 30, 2006 11:41 AM


Ditto on BEBs notes.
good fic.

Monday, July 3, 2006 7:28 AM


aww, all the shy cuteness just makes my heart go squishy *moonbrain happy-smile*



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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.

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“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.