The Opposite Of Greed
Wednesday, May 3, 2006

A drabble written for a prompt by cathiexx. Post-Serenity, not everything is peaches and cream. Mal, Inara, River, demons and tea.


Mal. Inara. River. Post-Serenity. There is angst. Rated G.


The Opposite Of Greed


It's an energizing tea. Drinking it late at night is not going to help him sleep, he knows that. Ain't nobody don't know that.

It's just he likes the taste of it. Subtle and soft. Very much like it looks. Green. That's a friendly color.

Also, it's the kind Inara made for herself so she can sit up in the cockpit all night, keeping watch, so River can go to bed and have dreams that might be bad or might be not. So Inara can feel like she's useful on this ship without a job or rent to pay. So she can be alone.

She's angry.

He's a dense man, sometimes, but even he can tell. Kaylee can tell. River can, of course, tell. She makes her eyes go all soft when she tries to explain, like that'll somehow help him along.

"Choose your own cage."

It's murmured downwards, a guilty child for telling secrets, for making it so. Could be she's also cowering from the sound of his voice.

"Serenity ain't a cage." And that's final.

But watching Inara sort and re-sort her fewer possessions, pace the catwalk at odd hours, he knows that somewhere along the line his ship turned from wings to chains.

I'm not running from anything. Such a liar. He's always been her getaway car. A means of escape. Running away from home, only now home is here and back then is closed. Trapped.

"They ..." So pale and empty. "They threw me out."

"Guess, you're one of us now." He tried to smile. She didn't.

I don't know, out the window. And that is that.

Free like birds. Independent. Just like before, minus her own self. Minus the choice. Her shoulders look so tense, at times, he wishes she'd just start clawing at the walls and get it over with.

Last time he felt like that, he bought himself a ship.

"It's a cage for the rest of the verse to stay out of."

And she ain't wrong. Little Albatross, sees too much for him to bear. He has love enough for walls and ties. Shields and swords. And sword fights. Love enough for spite. Love enough to hold.

Love enough to need her happy.

Enough to hold and not close his fingers all the way.

Her uses her pretty china when he brings her a some tea. Not the tin cups. Those are for crew. She's not crew, not until she wants to be.

Might be one day she wants to be.

Might be she'll want off the boat three planets from now and he'll let her without wounding.

Leave a light on for her.


He says it soft like he wants to touch her with just his finger tips, but he doesn't come too close. He stays standing and looks out after handing her another hit of friendly green.

She's calmer, up here. Tonight. Home with a view.

Her smile has room to stretch. Space to move.


And then there's quiet.

It's just presence and stars. He's there. She's there. And tea.

Not much. But it's enough.

And enough is good. Ain't nobody don't know that.



Wednesday, May 3, 2006 2:01 AM


Some very subtle parts, I like it.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006 2:17 AM


Beautifully crafty. Sad and yet something hopeful about it.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006 3:13 AM


well done.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006 3:48 AM


I really like the word pictures and the hopeful ending. Great!

Wednesday, May 3, 2006 5:44 AM


I loved the gentle way Mal is feeling his way around Inara, not pushing or making things harder but being her support, a firm unyielding presence ready to stand beside her or fight for her. Whatever. Hope it doesn't take the last sip of the last bit of green tea for her to realise that. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, May 3, 2006 6:44 AM


Aww. that was very bittersweat. He's so thoughtful, but there is still so much sadness. I really enjoyed it. I also found it very realistic. Serenity-Movie ends with a sense of unity, but whenever I think about it, the aftermath seems like it would feel exactly the way you've captured it here -- lonely, ambiguous, trapped, especially for Inara who has no defined role. Great story.


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