Disclaimer: The characters belong to Joss. I only want
them to love each other.
Timeframe: about a month before the movie. Spoilers: Shindig
Something’s Gotta Give series Shattered, Nothin Left To Lose, Of Companions And Whores, Of Captains And Desires, Heart Bound ....later down the road comes Walking With The Dead
Inara looked out over the valley below the Training House and shivered as the evening breeze blew across her skin and through her hair. It had been over two months since she’d left Serenity. Golden high summer had given way to the beginnings of fall. Nights were cooler and there was the smell of frost in the air. It had been a long time since she’d been planet bound and had never spent a winter on one that hadn’t had environmental controls.
When the sun slipped behind the highest mountain peek, it shrouded everything below in shadows. “Like my life,” murmured Inara. She tried to tell herself that it was the thought of the long cold season ahead that caused her to tremble, not the searing loneliness that came out each night to torment her.
She was caught in a trap she hadn’t
seen coming, but it held her in its grasp as tightly as an
She closed her eyes and pictured
herself standing outside a door in Serenity’s guest section. It had been right after Kaylee had been shot. Zoe had been explaining to Simon about
On this quiet night surrounded by
mountains instead of the Black, she could hear Zoe’s words as clearly as she
had then. ‘Mercy, forgiveness, trust, those are things he left back there. What he has now is this ship and us on it…Once
you been in Serenity you never leave.
You just learn to live there.’
She was a Companion who had strayed. She had broken the first rule of the Guild: do not get emotionally involved. It was there for a sound reason. Involvement meant loss of control and loss of control could be devastating. The results were well documented, though they usually took the form of physical abuse. She herself had brushed very close to the edge of that kind of treatment in her dealings with Atherton Wing. The man had a streak of cruelty hidden beneath his polished exterior. She had no doubt what he would have done to her if she had become his permanent Companion.
Her eyes filled with tears as she
remembered how Wing had toyed with Mal when the men had dueled. He’d take joy
in cutting small slices out of the less experienced swordsman rather than a
quick clean kill.
She bit her lip to keep from moaning as the memory and ramifications became full-blown. It was something she’d been able to blot out until just now. It was obvious she’d become emotionally tied to Malcolm Reynolds and his undeniable strength of will. There was only one power in the ‘verse that would have caused her to offer herself up to a man like Wing for more than one night, but even now she couldn’t say it out loud.
“Inara, you’ve got a wave.” Sheydra handed over a handheld communication device, and quickly left. The rumor mill at the Training House vibrated with romantic stories about Inara and a certain Rim pirate. Though Inara heatedly denied them, Sheydra had her own opinions on the matter.
A knot formed in
“Fine, just fine, my dear.” He’d caught a fleeting look in her eyes and
knew that he was not who
“They’ll miss you,” she whispered.
“The Captain promised to be back for visits.” Booked looked her straight in the eyes at the mention of Mal.
“How is he…how is everyone doing?”
“They’re missing you a great deal,” he spoke slowly then added quietly, “every one of them.”
“Inara,” he cut in sharply, riveting her attention to his wise old eyes. “You really should tell him the truth.”
“I…don’t…I…” She shrugged and tried to smile, but only succeeded in looking sad.
Book studied her face and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. She was a Companion, but suddenly she looked shy and unsure of herself. He nodded as an idea took hold. “Haven is having a celebration in four months for the Christian winter holiday and you’re invited. In fact I’ve got a friend with a Firefly class ship who I’ve almost convinced to come. I bet he’d be glad to stop on his way and pick you up.”
“Thank you, Shepherd; I’ll keep your offer in mind.” Inara sign off. She’d been given a lot to think about.
“You do that, child,” Book whispered as his ancient wireless went black. One of the sad things about being a Shepherd was that any secret he learned while giving solace had to be taken to his grave. He was afraid Mal and Inara were just stubborn enough that that would be the case.