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23 December 2009 @ 11:59 pm
Firefly Fic: Peace After Wartime  
Posted to ff_fanfic

Title: Peace After Wartime
Pairing/Characters: Mal/Inara
Rating: PG13
Spoilers: Serenity
Summary: After years of battling each other Mal and Inara finally make peace
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ

They meet on neutral territory, far from the ship and anywhere Inara's had clients. She may be retired from the Guild, but neither of them wants memories to intrude on this truce, this peace agreement as Inara likes to think of it. She doesn’t say that word in front of Mal though. To him peace means what the Alliance said they won in the war, which makes it a tainted word in his book.

By agreement they spend a whole day arguing, hashing out every petty difference they've had in their years flying together. It's actually enjoyable, their fighting, because there's no animosity behind it, just good natured swearing in Chinese - fouler on Mal's end of course. Half the time they end up laughing, but the feint and parry is almost like foreplay to them even though they've never consummated their mutual attraction. They never could while Mal disapproved of her job, which is really saying something given that he's all but a professional thief for a living.

Inara has had many lovers - men and women, good and bad, clients and fellow companions - but Mal is different to her. A lot of people respect her as a companion, yet pay no heed to the woman behind the title. Mal is the only one to be openly derisive of her occupation, yet he's respected her more than anyone she's ever met. She's known, for years now, that he would lay down his life for her. That level of loyalty, devotion, takes her breath away. Mal is nothing like her on the surface - coarse, rude, uncivilized - but his values and ethics resonate with her. He's unshakable in the defense of those he cares for, he puts the needs of his crew before his own and when he believes in a cause he will fight to the death for it.

They retire to separate corners that first night exhausted from their strenuous bickering and she sleeps soundly, dreaming of what it might be like to have those rough hands on her smooth skin and Mal's raspy whisper in her ear. She wakes to the siren aroma of tea only to find Mal's brought her breakfast in bed. It's not an unusual romantic gesture, well for Mal perhaps, but it's food that few if any people would think to include on a breakfast tray. She has no idea where he found fresh jin doi and char siu bao and the tea is exquisite.

He speaks very little, mostly just sitting on the bed keeping her company as she eats. Oddly she doesn't feel uncomfortable at this invasion of her space or him seeing her before she's had a chance to dress or brush her hair. If anyone could handle her appearance without the benefit of her companion training to affect her looks, it would be Mal. In his eyes she always feels beautiful.

On the second day they walk in the gardens, their voices subdued as they share a more private side of themselves. She marvels as Mal reveals himself to her, his doubts, his grief, his history. She responds in kind, ignoring the enigma she set out to be when they first met and replacing her story with the truth of her life before she became a companion. The sun goes down before they realize it and he offers her his coat on the walk back as a chill nips the air.

She was never a browncoat, but somehow - with him - she feels like she is in spirit. Her choice to throw in her lot with Mal and his crew was already such a daring decision. And risking her life to get the message out about Miranda made her realize just how important their cause was. She had her own reasons for hiding out in the black, but she found something out there she hadn't intended: the most wrong man in the universe for her was the one who stole her heart.

She makes him dinner, nothing fancy, but it's dishes she remembers from when she grew up - not food she learned to make for clients. He compliments them all and takes seconds of everything. She'd been afraid he'd be on his best behavior in front of her, but she shouldn't have worried. He's still her Mal and she's more than pleased at his robust appreciation of her efforts preparing the meal.

They play wei qi after dinner and she wins, of course, having studied strategy enough to challenge master player clients. She always let her clients win, but in this case she relishes her victory and the fact that Mal didn't throw the game in the least. He's unoffended by her superior skills and jokes about a rematch in the future even though she knows he's assured of losing again.

And then the energy shifts. Mal reaches for her hand and she feels butterflies roust within her as if she's a schoolgirl anxious for a first kiss. He presses a kiss to the back of it that's almost gentlemanly and then turns her hand to kiss the inside of her wrist - a more intimate gesture that makes her heart race with anticipation.

Then he presses her palm to his cheek and she has to bite back her response. This is the Mal she's never seen before, truly vulnerable, weak and seeking her strength. He's not the captain here, he's just a man - a man who has gone too many years alone. She knows that he's waited for her, found every other woman wanting, and that is what drew her to this place, this time, this moment with him, so long delayed.

She can't bear this anymore, making him crawl to her when she wants this as desperately as he does. He's done his penance, paid more than any man should for his sins, and now she wants the reward to be theirs together.

She pulls her hand away only to have him look up, questioning with his eyes. She pulls pillows onto the floor and lies back against them, reaching out to pull him down beside her.

He looks at her warily, disbelieving, but he comes - settling beside her on the soft pillows. It's all wrong: he's all spartan and utilitarian, hard and coarse, not a man for soft pillows at all. But this is what she offers, her softness along with her strength. She is his respite and he is her destination.

She snakes her arms around his neck, encouraging him to wrap his arms around her as well. The air is filled with the scent of him now; she'd know Mal's skin even blindfolded.

She clasps her hands behind his neck to hide the tremble in them. She has kissed men for money, been trained in the best ways to kiss, and yet she hovers her lips over Mal's, uncertain.

So much rests on a single moment in time, as if their future will be decided upon first kiss.

"It's always been you, Inara," he breathes, the air between their mouths mingling. "Only you."

A rush of joy brings them together, a kiss born out of impatience and love and deep deep longing. It's not perfect and yet it is because it's them.

The moment they've been dancing around for years is over.

Now they've got years to enjoy it.

Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 26th, 2009 09:14 am (UTC)
I confess I have no idea where this fic came from. It feels like a rambling incoherent mess that I'm just publishing because I had one day free to publish before year's end and Firefly was the only fandom I hadn't published a standalone fic for in 2009.

Hopefully this will be quickly forgiven and forgotten. Mea culpa.


Emma DeMarais
ladygray99: Charlie Blueladygray99 on December 26th, 2009 09:36 am (UTC)
I'm not sure if I have words to describe how perfect this is. the tone, the pacing. I picture Inara with perhaps just one grey hair and Mal with a few more scars. The part where Mal offers his coat I could just picture. This is perfect and thank you for writing it and happy holidays.
Mareel: FF Good Daymareel on December 26th, 2009 12:25 pm (UTC)
I love this. It just feels right for them, completely believeable, and full of lovely images.

Thanks so much for sharing it.
browncoat_2x2browncoat_2x2 on December 26th, 2009 01:25 pm (UTC)
I certainly enjoyed it! I like this picture of a Mal and Inara who've finally come to this place where they can leave all their past troubles behind them and finally move forward. Very nice!
rubynye: Tilly (Hyel)rubynye on December 27th, 2009 01:05 am (UTC)
Oh, this is so warm and lovely and comforting! So true to them, and such a lovely ending for them.
ncb1 on December 27th, 2009 04:16 am (UTC)
fyreflyfyrefly101 on January 12th, 2010 02:43 pm (UTC)
Lovely, just lovely.
Neisystheneis on August 7th, 2010 10:04 am (UTC)
It's lovely.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on August 7th, 2010 06:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm pleased to see it's not long forgotten.