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FIREFLY: All Your Breath (Mal/Inara)

carmen_sandiego organized truthsome_fic: a Mal/Inara ficathon. I was assigned carmen_sandiego herself, who requested an argument and a kiss.

Title: All Your Breath
Author: voleuse
Fandom: Firefly
Ship: Mal/Inara
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: It will touch through your ribs, it will take all your heart.
Notes: Post-Serenity

"I love this ship. I have from the first moment I saw it."
-- Inara, "Out of Gas"

i. her shuttle

They return to the temple, to refuel and restock. To pick up Inara's things, because she's staying. She never says she will, not for certain. But she doesn't say she won't, either, so they load up her finery and her frippery.

And somehow it ends up Mal's the one to push her furniture round and about, because he's a gentleman like that, and also because Jayne ignores him when he calls over for help.

Inara is rearranging seven stones on a low table, pushing them into a circle, then each into points. She only looks at Mal when he speaks.

In response, he speaks more often, and louder. "Does it work at this angle," he queries, leaning his shoulder against the bedframe, "or should I throw out my back some more?"

One of the stones, small and triangular, spins between Inara's fingers. She looks up. "This really isn't necessary, Mal." She moves the stone to the center, then to a far corner. "I can situate myself later."

"We're in no rush," he grunts, shoving the bed another foot, aligning it to the wall. "No harm in doing things right the first time."

Inara hums, and the stones click against the table again. Mal steps back, and looks around the room.

It's as if time has turned backwards, or that hole in his gut is healing all over again.

He doesn't wait for her to pronounce satisfaction. Instead, he sketches a bow, then walks out the door.

ii. the engine room

He's checking a store of ammunition in the cargo hold when a wisp of laughter echoes through metal and air.

He counts to ten, and then he hears it again. He shuts the locker with a decisive snick.

When finally he wends his way through the corridors and to the engine room, he finds Inara there, sitting proper as can be in Kaylee's hammock. Kaylee herself is sprawled on the floor, chin in her hands and grease on her nose.

They don't notice him right away, what with their giggling. They're a little beyond words now, but he does catch his name.

He clears his throat. They both look to him, and Inara's expression closes off immediately.

Kaylee chokes quick on her smile. "Captain?"

"We don't have work enough, that you ladies have time to chatter?" He lets the corners of his mouth curl.

"Mal," Inara snaps.

"And I'd appreciate it, Inara," he continues, "if you'd keep our business to yourself."

"Our?" She draws the word out like defeat, and her shoulders twist back.

Mal stops cold, and Kaylee curls her knees up, looks at her hands.

"Right." He lets his smile widen. "My mistake."

And he turns, tromps away. Lets the sound of his boots ring over the way she calls him back.

iii. the mess

He gives River the bridge, wanders back to the mess for a drink of water. It's a quick toss back, then he starts to rummage, inventory their remaining supplies.

Stowed behind a container of biscuits, there is a tin of tea leaves he doesn't recognize. It isn't dented, though the lid's been jammed in one corner. The lettering on the label is fine, and it circles around a stylized flower and mountain.

It must be Inara's tea, because it looks three times the cost of the tea he knows they can afford. He pries open the lid and breathes deep.

Not just tea, but mint and herbs and something sweet. He closes his eyes, slides the lid back on.

He places the tin back in its place, neat.

iv. the other shuttle

Persephone is one of the few places they still have contacts, Badger somehow having escaped the massacre. Mal is almost glad of it.

They're break atmo in less than an hour. He doesn't fancy having Serenity too close to Badger's reach, so he directs River to a farther port and readies the shuttle for flight.

He's running another diagnostic when Inara taps his shoulder.

"Guay," he starts, then twists in his seat to glare at Inara. "How many times have I told you--"

"Don't sneak up on a man while he's," she assesses the cockpit with slow, skeptical glance. "Checking shuttle systems?"

"Same principle." He primes the engine, then stands. "There's plenty to do, so--"

Inara steps forward, puts a hand on his wrist. "Mal."

He freezes, and her palm is searing against his skin.

"I wanted to apologize," she begins to say, but he's dipping his head, leaning close.

Her mouth is open when he presses their lips together. She tastes like mint and tea.

v. the bridge

Mal slings himself into the co-pilot's seat, tilts his head at River. Her spine is curved forward, her gaze intent on the swiftly approaching planet.

"I can land her," he offers, running a hand over the instrument panel. "If you want."

River looks over, then away. "You're not worried about landing."

"Never said I was worried."

"You're distracted." At his protest, River holds up a hand. "She's passing the cargo hold. Walking towards her shuttle."

Mal laughs. "I don't know what you're--"

"Ah." River waves her hand again, then points behind her, face blank. "I'm trying to concentrate."

vi. the corridor

Serenity trembles as they break into atmo. Inara is at the end of the corridor, facing away from him.

He watches as she puts a hand to the curve of the wall, strokes it like a living being. The grating beneath his feet trembles, then there's a slight dip.

"We'll be landing soon," he says. "Just taking a quick detour."

Inara looks over her shoulder, and he's surprised when she smiles.

"Look," Mal starts, "about before, I didn't mean to presume. Not that you should be blaming me for anything, but--"

"Mal." Inara stands her ground as he advances, her smile steady under his scrutiny. He forgets what he wanted to say, and then she's pulling at his collar, and this kiss is even sweeter than the first.

When they break apart, after only a moment, he catches his breath. Swallows once, then twice.

Inara releases her hold on his shirt. "There's plenty to do, Mal." She moves back a pace. "We can talk later. If you want."

"Yeah, I should," he gestures vaguely backwards. "There's a thing I need. For Badger."

Inara nods, then turns, disappears around the corner.

vii. his quarters

That night, after the run, Mal lies back in his bunk, and he smiles.


A/N: Title and summary taken from Adrienne Rich's Final Notations:
it will not be simple, it will not be long
it will take little time, it will take all your thought
it will take all your heart, it will take all your breath
it will be short, it will not be simple

it will touch through your ribs, it will take all your heart
it will not be long, it will occupy your thought
as a city is occupied, as a bed is occupied
it will take all your flesh, it will not be simple

You are coming into us who cannot withstand you
you are coming into us who never wanted to withstand you
you are taking parts of us into places never planned
you are going far away with pieces of our lives

it will be short, it will take all your breath
it will not be simple, it will become your will

Linked on truthsome_fic.



( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 6th, 2006 07:34 am (UTC)
Mmm, hot like a delicately hot thing, as usual.

Also...I <3 Mal/Inara... And the tea thing was weirdly hot. Boys sniffing stuff is always hot.

And I may have to steal that poem for inspiration, because ... also hot.
Jun. 14th, 2006 01:18 am (UTC)
Thank you! Boys and tea are a better combination than I would have suspected at first. And use the poem! Use it!
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 14th, 2006 01:19 am (UTC)
Yay! I am thrilled you liked it.
Jun. 6th, 2006 02:17 pm (UTC)
Very, very pretty. I like the way you've put together the scenes, especially the Kaylee/Mal/Inara one. Well done.
Jun. 14th, 2006 01:19 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Jun. 6th, 2006 03:58 pm (UTC)
Lovely! You always write the sweetest insights into the characters lives.
Jun. 14th, 2006 01:19 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Jun. 6th, 2006 04:14 pm (UTC)
Lovely, and oh, that poem... *loves*
Jun. 14th, 2006 01:19 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it!
Jun. 6th, 2006 04:34 pm (UTC)
Oh, beautiful. All the little places on Serenity that are fitting Inara back into Mal's life. I especially love the first section; I was giggling through the whole thing ("should I throw out my back some more?", HEE), and then that second-to-last line is just breathtaking, you really feel it with Mal. And I loved both the argument and the kiss, and River, and Kaylee, and Jayne ignoring Mal--just excellent, as usual.

And I agree with musesfool... the poem, wow.
Jun. 14th, 2006 01:20 am (UTC)
Yay! Thank you so much! Also, *blushes*.
Jun. 6th, 2006 09:21 pm (UTC)
This was really lovely. You did this in a very unique way, and it really made it pop off the page. Excellent job.
Jun. 14th, 2006 01:20 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Jun. 7th, 2006 01:32 am (UTC)
oooh, just lovely. I love all the snippets. You have some gorgeous moments in here. I love River waving Mal away because she's concentrating, and that the hole in Mal's stomach is healing over. Very well done!
Jun. 14th, 2006 01:20 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Jul. 10th, 2006 03:31 am (UTC)
Very very excellent!
Jul. 19th, 2006 06:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it.
Jul. 30th, 2006 08:15 am (UTC)
Okay, I don't know that I can express why coherently, but this line is perfect:

He places the tin back in its place, neat.

So, so good. Love it. Love how unsure and tentative Mal is with her. And the Inara/Kaylee friendship has always been one of my favorite things about the show.
Aug. 1st, 2006 02:50 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it.
Nov. 12th, 2006 01:42 am (UTC)
I'm so glad I found truthsome and your fic! What a pleasant surprise to find all this great Mal/Inara fic!
I love Cranky!Mal and Inara was so sweet. I can't wait to read more of your fic!
Nov. 26th, 2006 08:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it.
Jan. 5th, 2007 01:21 am (UTC)
That was really sweet! :)
Jan. 7th, 2007 07:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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