Title: Round the Vowels of Oblivion
Pairing: Darla/Inara Serra
Summary: Soon I'll be nothing but narrative.
Notes: No spoilers.
Inara met Darla at House Sakuya, before she achieved her Companion status. Darla had been well-established there, clients clamoring for her time and novices swooning at the mystery of her smile.
Inara was less than impressed or, at least, she tried to seem so. She didn't think Darla had noticed her, outside of common courtesies, so when Darla interrupted her in the temple, Inara thought it was an accident.
"It fascinates me," Darla said, trailing her fingers over the papery walls, "how so many centuries later, little rituals still bring humans such comfort."
Inara dipped her head as she rose from the ground. "You make it sound like you're not."
"Comforted?" Darla asked. She sauntered close, and closer.
Inara glanced at the loose tie of her robe, and her fingernails, trailing against her collarbone. "Human," she murmured.
Darla caught Inara's chin in her hand, pressing their lips together for the space of three breaths. "You have promise, Inara," she said, finally. "I'd like to train you."
Inara's eyes fluttered open. "It would be my honor," she replied.
This is the way Darla trained Inara: in the dark, candle-flames flickering tall in the corners. Inara stroked her way down Darla's arms, and watched her skin pucker in the cold.
"The body always tells," Darla said, her fingers winding in Inara's hair. "One shudder is worth a dozen screams and moans."
Inara touched her tongue to the crease of Darla's thighs. "Did you scream," she asked, delving higher, deeper, "or did you moan?" She dragged the tip of her tongue against Darla's sex, humming when Darla arched.
Darla's heel dug into Inara's shoulder, and her nails pricked Inara's scalp. "I did whatever I thought they wanted from me." Her hips writhed as Inara slid a finger, then two, inside. "I whimpered and groaned and begged for them."
"Oh?" Inara pulled back for a moment, though her fingers continued their push and glide. "Did you ever mean it?"
"I did." Darla yanked gently on Inara's hair, until Inara again buried her face between her thighs. "I just never meant it for them."
Following Darla's murmured commands, Inara twined their bodies together, until the candles burned down to puddles of wax, until Inara lay panting in the moonlight.
It was four years until they met again. Inara entangled herself with the crew of Serenity, then disentangled, and tangled again. She draped her shuttle with silks and beads, burned incense in the corners, and tried to pretend she was just like every other Companion.
And then Darla sent her a wave.
Upon sweeping into the shuttle, Darla discarded a half-dozen shawls on the floor before draping herself across the bed, and Inara raised her eyebrows. "That's a little dramatic, isn't it?"
Darla rolled onto her hip, her layered skirts parting to reveal smooth thighs and a hint of lace. "One of my most enticing features," she purred. "Unless you have other suggestions?"
Inara sighed. "Why did you contact me?"
"Inara." Darla sat up, swayed towards her. "I thought you'd be pleased to see an old," she paused, "friend."
"You haven't aged a day," Inara parried.
Darla laughed. "I never do."
"So what do you want?" Inara said. Her hands fell to rest on Darla's hips. She tightened her fingers, feeling the fabric crinkle under her grip. "I'm not a novice anymore."
"No," Darla agreed. She hooked her index finger in Inara's bodice, tugging it low. "It suits you." She pulled, and Inara felt the threads of her bodice strain. "But even better--"
Inara dipped her head, and caught Darla's mouth in a hard kiss. She ended it with a bite, and Darla fell back with a laugh.
"What do you want?" Inara asked again, but her heart pounded. Her palms tingled.
Darla perused her slowly, her gaze lingering on Inara's disheveled bodice, and then on her throat. "Maybe, instead, I'll show you," Darla said, her eyes traveling to Inara's lips. "For old times' sake."
When Darla smiled, it was all teeth.
A/N: Title and summary adapted from Mark DeCarteret's Apparatus. Link courtesy of breathe_poetry.