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Disclamer :Joss is Boss!
Rating: PG
Spoiler: Minor ones for Objects In Space and Serenity the Movie


Nothin' Left To Lose

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By

Lattelady


Captain Malcolm Reynolds’s footsteps echoed through his quiet ship. The usually empty cargo bay had a pile of crated furniture and a number of large trunks tucked into one corner. It was late and the rest of the crew was asleep, even Wash had closed down the helm for the night, but no matter how tired Mal’s body was, nervous energy kept him from sittin’ in one spot long enough to close his eyes.

‘He’…no he corrected in his head…‘they was headed for a life changin’ event early the next mornin when Serenity made a quick stop on a mountainous moon so’s one of the crew could leave, never to return.

“Damn,” he muttered under his breath and climbed the stairs to the catwalk. “T’was ‘Nara’s decision, can’t conjure why I feel so gorramn guilty ‘bout it.” But he did, and Kaylee wasn’t helpin' matters none with her dirty looks and cryin’. The girl had taken it into her head that he was somehow responsible for the Companion’s sudden need to move on to greener pastures.

“Mal,” Inara stood facing him at the other end of the walk. “I…ah…wanted to…ah…”

“Evenin’ ’Nara,” he tried to sound casual-like, but it was hard when he knew it was her last night on his boat. It was a good thing he hadn’t let him own self warm to her any, t’otherwise tomorrow would be a right painful day.

“I wanted to thank you for this detour. I realize Sheydra’s Training House isn’t exactly on the way to New Melbourne where you’d been headed.” The wave had come two days earlier, with an offer of employment and it was exactly what Inara needed. She knew her days as an active Companion were over. This way she could continue in the Guild, but as a teacher. Mal wouldn’t know the changes he’d wrought in her life. It was a small thing, but necessary to her pride.

When they met in the middle of the ‘walk, his hand moved to gently caress her still swollen lip and bruised cheek. He’d figured it was the shadows that had marred her otherwise flawless skin. On closer inspection he realized it was damage left over from Jubal Early’s time on Serenity. “Damn good thing I already kilt that gorramn bounty hunter,” he growled. “Though, now I’m thinkin' he met a might kinder death than he deserved.”

“I…ah…” Unlike the last time Mal had touched her, Inara didn’t pull back. Instead she covered his fingers with her palm and pressed his hand against her cheek. A Companion’s life was filled with touches, but never ones she received for her own pleasure. On that last night, standing on a darkened ship that she cared about almost as much as the man who owned it, she let herself have that touch. It would have to last her a lifetime.

“For a woman with as much learnin’ as you got, you seem to be a might lackin’ in communication know-how tonight.” He hadn’t often see ‘Nara flustered and it was just beginnin to be apparent that he was the cause.

“I’m not very skilled at good-byes.” Her hand slid over his until she gripped his wrist. For just a moment she read something in Mal’s eyes, something she’d wanted to see for a long time. Maybe her leaving was premature? Maybe she was making the biggest mistake of her life?

“Well, given your profession, I’d think sayin' good-bye to a man would be second nature.”

Inara gasped and pulled back as if he’d struck her. “You are correct, Captain, in some cases good-byes are no problem at all!” She turned on her heel, the last of her icy words shot at him over her departing back. A moment later her door slammed echoing through the cargo bay.

Mal let lose a string of Chinese cuss words that would have done Jayne proud. He hadn’t meant to insult her, but somehow it always happened. He just couldn’t stop takin’ a dig at what she did to earn a livin’.

Inara leaned against the locked door of her shuttle. The room was bare of all her beautiful things. Where the couch had been there was one small trunk and two suitcases. The place was almost exactly as she’d found it, only cleaner. She was shaking with anger and hurt, emotions she felt too often recently.

She’d tried, she’d really tried. She had left her Companion’s mask behind and met Mal on the catwalk as ‘Nara but he’d refused to acknowledge the woman over the professional. She slid to the floor and bit her already sore lip battling tears that threatened to fill her eyes. “I will not cry over that man anymore,” she whispered as one small tear made her left eye glisten, but she blinked it into submission.

The night ticked away, but Inara didn’t sleep. The conversation on the catwalk kept playing over and over in her head. In the morning as she was putting the finishing touches on her make-up, she remembered the look on Mal’s face when her hand had traveled over his and gripped his wrist. Was she remembering correctly or was it wishful thinking? Had his expression really been one of longing and caring? “Hmmm,” she ran one finger over her swollen lower lip in wonder.

Turning quickly she opened her travel bags and began rearranging her packing. Ten minutes later she exited the shuttle, and locked the door behind her. Jayne met her on the catwalk and took the two suitcases she had with her. No one noticed the absence of one small trunk that had been left almost hidden on the far side of ‘Nara’s bed.


The End or on to ‘Of Companions And Whores’

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Quotes

The moving finger writes: and having writ Moves on. nor all your piety nor wit Shall lure it back to cancal half a line, Nor all your tears wash out a word of it...The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

If I quiet the voices in my head, I would face the day with nothing to write. - Unknown

I must go down to the seas again the lonely sea and sky...J Masefield

Cinderella walked on broken glass,
Sleeping beauty let a whole lifetime pass.
Belle fell in love with a hideous beast,
Jasmine married a common thief.
Ariel walked on land for love and life,
Snow white barely escaped a knife.
It was all about blood, sweat, and tears.
Because love means facing your biggest fears


The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of...French Proverb

I have drempt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after. They've gone through me like wine through water and altered the colour of my mind ...E. Bronte

To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage...Lao Tzu

It takes chaos to give birth to a dancing star ..F. Nietzsche

How many loved your moments of glad grace, and loved your beauty with love false or true? But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face...Yeats

Let us go, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky...T. S. Eliot

In that book which is my memory, on the first page of the chapter, that is the day when I first met you, appears the words, "here begins a new life".
La Vita Nuova

Midnight courage of the heart...Jen Kirkwood

The three o-clock in the morning courage which Bonaparte thought was the rarest...Thoreau

Did you say it? I love you; I don't ever want to live without you; you changed my life. Did you say it?
Make a plan, set a goal, work toward it, but every now and then, look around, drink it in, 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow. - Meredith Grey

Shakespeare is easy, life is hard...Wheels

Don't try to be a great man, just be a man. Let history make up its own mind...Z.Cochron

I had a job to do and I was unafraid...Jack to John Creighton

For I dipt into the future, as far as the human eye could see. Saw the vision of the world, and the wonders that can be...RWW Hipwell

Without diviation from the norm, progress is impossible...F. Zappa

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea, In a beautiful pea-green boat: They took some honey and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five-pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, and sang to a small guitar...E Lear

Sweet and low, sweet and low, Wind of the western sea, Low, low, breathe and blow, Wind of the western sea! Over the rolling waters go, Come from the dying moon and blow, Blow him again to me;... Tennison

Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn... Keats

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