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17 July 2008 @ 06:46 pm
II. A Kiss Across The Ocean Blue  

Words: 1,291
Summary: I'm just feeling kind of truthsome right now.

"A Kiss Across the Ocean Blue"

She was playing music. Something old, he thought, maybe from Earth-That-Was. Maybe a waltz. Mal could hear the notes wafting out through the closed door to Shuttle One as he stood before it, unmoving except for the occasional gulp to rein in his nerves.

To hell with it. If he was going to go through with this, the time was nigh. No more practicing in empty rooms, reciting declarations to the walls.

Last chance.

He had already done every stupid thing he could think of, short of just saying the damn words out loud. Short of locking her in and ignoring her shouts until he got her as far away from their destination as possible. He had kept her on his boat for as long as he could, taking jobs every which way but this one, making promises and breaking them, staving off the inevitable.

"That's the kind of stupid I don't mind," Wash had told him, seeing straight through his dishonesty and to the truth of the matter.

But stupid wasn't good enough.

He clenched his hand into a fist.

Serenity was on a course to deposit Inara at some gorram Training House in the middle of no and where, and hell if he was going to let that happen.

He raised his arm, took in as much air through his nostrils as his lungs could handle, and knocked three times on her door.

Something quietly clanked then rustled on the other side before he was greeted with a resigned, "Come in."

He wasn't quite prepared for what he found on the other side of the door and his eyes began darting around in a quiet panic. They scanned across barren walls, over cold metal and steel; landed on trunk upon antique trunk full of everything he had loved and loathed about this little corner of his boat. Nothing remained that was warm and inviting. Nothing but Inara. She kept her back to him as he approached and continued to stuff her possessions into the overflowing bags strewn across the exposed mattress.

Mal watched her hands as they fidgeted over unpacked perfume bottles and other sundry knickknacks, and if he didn't know better he might have thought he was making her nervous. She turned towards the Cortex, fingers ready to turn the music off, when she hesitated, letting her arm fall to her side. Mal was glad of it; he thought of Persephone, and tried to gain some extra strength from the notes as they cut through the silence that quickly outstayed its welcome.

"Come to help me pack?" she asked wearily.

He cleared his throat.


Inara turned towards him, moving to place a few effects gently in a bag. She pulled tightly on its drawstrings, sealing them in, then put the bag back down and stood tall, fixing a glare his way.

Mal couldn't stop himself; his eyes darted up and down, taking in the sight of her on his ship for what very well could be the last time. Half of her curly brown locks were piled high upon her head, the rest left to hang loose and tantalizing around her shoulders, all of it offset by a gold headband. His gaze caught on all her shiny gold accoutrements...armbands, bracelets, chains, rings. Red silk top. Matching long skirt that puddled around her feet. Exposed midriff. She was dressed to the nines, but when she stepped forward, he noticed she had yet to put on any shoes. Mal almost smiled; he had always loved it when she wandered about Serenity barefoot. That she was comfortable and at home enough to do so. Home. Mal gulped and turned his wandering eyes upward.

He focused on her eyes, saw that they were slightly red and glazed, traitors to the unreadable expression she was trying to put on. He searched them and found the usual impatience, but there was something else--he wanted to name it hopeful expectation; could've just been annoyance.

"Then what are you doing here, Mal?"

His tongue caught on the roof of his mouth as she stood there, waiting for his answer, and when none came she sighed and turned back to her things.

He shoul've expected that bluntness, too, come to think of it. He had been evading and ignoring her for the last two days, and they hadn't exchanged more than a few words here and there since he had set a course for the Training House. He'd have done well to remember that the last words they had spoken to each other were shouted loud enough for inhabitants of the nearest moon to hear. The idle small talk he envisioned for this meeting, chatter that would allow him to casually slip in his request, was now quite out of the realm of possibility.


Serenity's comm system crackled, and Zoe's voice interrupted his stutter. "This is Zoe. We'll be touching down at oh-nine-hundred, roughly thirty minutes or so. Anyone has anything they need to get done shipside, now would be the time to--"

Wash's voice broke in as Inara began moving to her Cortex screen.

"Actually, probably be about twenty minutes, so any particular people with things to do might want to get a move on. And...that's about it. Weather looks nice, little cloudy, maybe...hey--"

The comm cut out.

Inara brushed her fingers against the touchscreen, stopping the music.

"I think I actually knew that one," Mal attempted.

"I need to finish packing."

Mal grasped his hands behind his back. "Never took you for a procrastinator."

"I'm not."


He moved in closer as she shoved the last of her fineries away.

"If you're looking for one last fight, I don't have the time," she said as she side-stepped him, picking up a bag and moving briskly toward the door. "I wanted to give Kaylee--"


She halted at the door, her back turned.

"Could you, maybe, not be facin' the door right now?"

She pulled her shoulders back, and, after what Mal knew was only a few seconds but felt like an eternity, finally turned to him. He could see her struggling to keep her composure and if he could have spared some courage to reach out and touch her, he would have. As it was, he seemed to have lost all of it within the time it took her to turn around.

Her eyes grew wide, something the walls of the galley never did when he was practicing. They never looked at him as if the entire universe hinged on what he was about to say.

It threw him.

He clenched his teeth and hesitated; stayed silent a few seconds longer than he should've.

"Mal," she started, as she turned back to the door, "I really have to--"

"I'll miss you, Inara."

She stopped in her tracks, her arm paused midway to opening the door.

"I keep coming up with all manner of things to say but that's what they all mean, it comes right down to it"

He walked up to her. Put his hand on her shoulder. He made to spin her around, and she moved so gracefully with the gesture he wondered if she hadn't been practicing her moves too. She held her head high as he gazed down, staring anywhere but her eyes, fixing on the bag clutched firmly in her fingers instead. When he spoke, the words came out quieter than he thought they would, but his tone remained firm.

"Don't leave."

Her knuckles tightened their grip around her belongings before her fingers twitched and loosened. She let the handle slide off her palm. Mal watched as it fell slowly from her hand, landing with a soft clank on the metal floor next to his boots.



o1. "Dazed and Confused" - Led Zeppelin
Been Dazed and Confused for so long it's not true
Wanted a woman, never bargained for you
Don't know where you're going
Only know just where you've been
Sweet little baby, I want you again

o2. "The Strangest Thing" - Bernard Fanning
Because I don't even have a photograph
So I can lose myself inside your laugh
I just pray that you'll be coming back to
Mend my heart's wound

o3. "Wait" - Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire
Wait, don't go too early
You're tired but everyone's tired
But no one is tired enough
Only wait a little and listen

o4. "The Departed Tango" - Howard Shore

o5. "Red Red Red" - Fiona Apple
But he's been pretty much yellow
And I've been kinda blue
But all I can see is
Red, red, red, red, red now
What am I gonna do
And it's dangerous work
Trying to get to you too
And I think if I didn't have to
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill myself doing it
Maybe I wouldn't think so much of you

o6. "One Chance" - Modest Mouse
We have one chance
One chance to get everything right
My friends, my habits, my family
They mean so much to me.
I just don't think that it's right
I've seen so many ships sail in
Just to head back out again
And go off sinking

o7. "Made You Feel Better" - Red Hot Chili Peppers
In a world that has run amok
I've got to set my sights
Just to get struck
I walk away from the rank and file
With a punched out mouth
And a pack of style
I say...she's the one she's the only one
Make me search myself
Until I'm alone and
Tell me now in a telegram
Do the sea of stars
Make a diagram

Sendspace ; Mediafire
61MB | seven tracks (mp3) + album art (png)
jackwabbit on September 23rd, 2008 03:32 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this one a LOT! I really like how you brought in the Those Left Behind comics dialogue and made it work in the conversation. Nice AU, there.

I like this fic because it leaves the future open to possibilities for the reader to fill in, rather than explaining everything. That is more my cup of tea.

I also really enjoyed the spooked horse feel to Mal when Inara reacts to him. Believable.

Anyway...nice little fic.
ohvienna on September 29th, 2008 01:49 am (UTC)
Thank you! And thanks for the comments -- that dialogue from TLB was the motivation for the entire fic, so I'm glad it worked!
jackwabbit on September 29th, 2008 12:31 pm (UTC)
You are quite welcome, ma'am.
queen_bunnie on September 23rd, 2008 01:41 pm (UTC)
oh that was a fantastic drabble. poor both of them. these drabbles are great! ahh I love well written stuff. downloading!
ohvienna on September 29th, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)
Thank you! Very glad you enjoyed the read. :DDD
makeitstopjamie on September 23rd, 2008 08:06 pm (UTC)
The drabble was very sweet and sad:( Snagging the mix:)
ohvienna on September 29th, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)
Thank you! And enjoy the mix! :D
colls on September 24th, 2008 11:44 pm (UTC)
Read the fic (lovely) & downloaded yesterday.
Listened to this mix today, and I love this song
"The Strangest Thing" - Bernard Fanning
ohvienna on September 29th, 2008 01:52 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked! And that you're enjoying the mix as well. Love that song, too. :DDD
takethesky87 on October 23rd, 2008 04:24 am (UTC)
Ooh, very beautiful. I love the tension between them, and the hint that maybe Inara has practiced this moment too. Coming back later for the mix. Thanks!
agent_omega on October 26th, 2008 04:44 am (UTC)
I... wow. There aren't any two ways about it - this was beautiful.

Characterization, voices, and the feelings behind everything are just so. They're everything they ought to be, even while breaking from their old patterns and taking that chance.

Also, the title of this particular scenario... it makes such beautiful sense, and it's so epic.

A most excellent job.

chocolate_inyx on December 31st, 2010 08:10 am (UTC)
Can't wait to listen, and I love the fic.