Title: In Flux
Date Posted: 8 March 2006
Author: Van Donovan
Rating: PG
Characters: Simon, Inara
Pairing: implied Simon/Inara
Word count: 865
Warnings: Spoilers through the TV series. Loosely set between Objects and Space and the movie.
Summary: Simon has a request before Inara leaves.
Notes: Written to fill a requested Simon/Inara with the prompts: wine, masks and clothing.


“Come in,” Inara called after the light knocking on her door had subsided. She lifted her eyes from the clothing she was carefully packing into a trunk. She hadn’t expected Mal, but was surprised to see it was Simon standing in the doorway, and not Kaylee. Pushing to her feet, Inara smoothed out her robes. “Simon,” she cordially greeted.

Simon’s eyes danced around her shuttle, taking in the changed setting. Most of the flowing fabric had been removed from the walls, leaving the barren grey bulkhead exposed in their stead. His gaze drifted to her bed, the remaining source of splendor left. “Kaylee said you were leaving,” he finally said.

Inara glanced around her shuttle, and its state of undress made her intentions clear. “It’s about time I finally did,” she replied. “I never met to stay this long to begin with.”

Simon wasn’t a forward person, and he more often than not beat around the bush when he wanted to say something, so it surprised Inara when he easily said, “I wish you wouldn’t.”

She studied the way he stood, with his hands clasped behind his back, his feet planted parallel to his shoulders. It was a gentleman’s pose, and it showed off his broad chest and highlighted the intricate brocade of his expensive vest. She could read him as easily as she’d ever read any other man. Kneeling again, she resumed folding her clothing into the trunk. “There’s never going to be a day when I don’t have to wear a mask around this crew. The song and dance wearies me.”

“Will you go back to the Core?”

Inara lifted her eyes to him. “No.” She looked down at the wine-colored silk robe she was fingering. “There are new training houses appearing all over the border worlds. I’ve found a position as a teacher at one of them.”

Simon stepped further into the shuttle, his presence suddenly becoming clear. “I realize it’s a lot to ask, but, would you be willing to take us?”

Inara was surprised, but she didn’t let it show. “You and River? You want to leave Serenity?”

“These past few months have changed us, and I’m not sure it’s for the good. I rescued River from the Academy to keep her safe. That is still my intent.”

Inara rose to her feet again. “And you don’t feel Serenity is safe, anymore.” She smiled courteously, gesturing for him to sit on the couch at her settee. Packing could be done later.

Serenity has never been safe. This ship was a weigh station for us. Just like you, we never meant to stay. With Shepherd Book now gone, and you leaving, I’m afraid I’ll lose myself in the changes.” He sat down beside her on the couch.

Their bodies were angled together, so their knees brushed. “How does River feel?”

Simon looked away from her. “When she’s lucid, she wants to stay.” His gaze returned to hers, intense and determined. “But I didn’t rescue her to see her killed by space pirates or reavers.”

Inara rested a hand on Simon’s knee, calming him with just a touch. “You’re welcome to go with me, if you wish to escape this life,” she answered. “But I won’t take River away from this ship against her will.”

Simon looked at the hand on his knee, taking in a deep breath. “I won’t leave her.”

Inara smiled. “Of course not.” After a moment of silence, she added, “Serenity is as much of an escape for you as any Companion training house might be. Though there are pirates, it’s still safer for you two on the move. Mal cares about the both of you. He’ll protect you.”

Simon’s head rose at that, his dark eyes seeking hers. “He cares about you and would protect you, too.”

Inara kept her eyes averted. “We’re running from different things, Simon. You gave up this life style when you rescued River. It’s time you stopped trying to cling to it.” She met his gaze at last, smiling gently.

Simon was silent for a period of time. “It’s just not that easy. I don’t think I’m strong enough to do it.”

Inara smiled more. “Have you ever been with a Companion before?”

Simon blinked at the question. “No.”

Inara laughed softly. “Then let me give you strength.” As his body tensed to flee, she shook her head, studying him sidelong. “It isn’t all like that, Simon. There’s so much more to a Companion beside that.” She picked one of his hands up between her warm ones, rubbing her thumbs along the thick flesh of its heel. “Relax,” she whispered, “and close your eyes.”

“Inara,” he began in protest.

“Simon. Do you trust me?”


“Then do as I say.”

Simon took a deep breath, closing his eyes. “I thought you didn’t service crew,” he whispered as she massaged his hand.

“You aren’t crew,” she simply replied, “you’re family.” Her touch moved up to his wrist and along the back of his hand. “Besides, rules change. Everything changes. The universe is always in flux.”

“Then why are you leaving?” he asked softly.

The massaging hands halted. “Because change can be so frightening.”

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