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Opaque

by Northlight

     Subject: Opaque (Mal/Inara, v.2)
     Date: Tuesday, December 24, 2002 9:11 PM

     Title:  Opaque
     Author:  Northlight
     email: temporary_blue [at] yahoo.ca
     Summary:  "He called her a whore the first time they met."
     Pairing:  Mal/Inara of the angsty variety.
     Rating:  R.
     Distribution:  List archives and those who ask.  
     Disclaimer:  Joss Whedon owns Firefly and all related
     characters and situations.  I am in no way affiliated with
     the show.  No profit is being made from this fan work.  No
     harm is intended.
     Date:  v1: Dec. 12,  2002.  v2: Dec. 17-24, 2002.
     Note:  Thanks to Cassandra for her helpful comments on v1 of
     this story.  Whatever improvements you may see are due to
     her influence.  Whatever faults remain are due to my own
     limitations as a writer.  

1.

He called her a whore the first time they met.

He called her a whore the first time they met and Inara's spine was already straight. He called her a whore and Inara's shoulders were already squared. He called her a whore and because Inara was not, she did not reach out and strike his smug face.

Inara did not forget. Inara might have forgiven if it were not true that good girls did not become Companions. Men of power might seek her services. Men of good standing might curry her favour. And men of moral repute would not have their daughters and sons warm the beds of lords and politicians and captains of industry.

Companions shone with grace and culture only because men of power and good standing would not allow it to be otherwise. Inara shone with grace and culture only because men of power and good standing would not allow it to be otherwise. Men bowed to her and kissed her gloved hand because they were gentlemen such as no man might question. Women smiled and curtsied because their fathers and brothers were men of import such as none could question.

Inara glowed Inara was ethereal. Inara laughed, light like bells. Inara laughed, smooth and rich like honey. Inara played the harp. Inara did watercolours. Inara acted the part of a lady. She sought to forget that she acted. A whore was a whore was a whore and Inara spread her legs and sighed and smiled.

Mal called her a whore the first time they met. A Companion was not a whore. Inara was not a whore. Yet, everyone knew that good girls did not become Companions.


2.

Mal did not know that good girls did not become Companions.

He treated her like more than a whore. He treated her like less than a Companion. And more the fool she, Inara found that she could not help but love him. He spoke plainly, simply, hurtfully and would not have others do so. Mal did not bow nor kiss her hand. He did not draw his hands across her hips and breasts and breath heavily against her ear. He did not respect her, but he thought her to be strong and brave and worth more than men's coin and lust.

Inara knew of the desires of others. Inara knew of the emotions of others. She had been taught to recognize the needs of those around her. She had been taught to soothe the emotions of those who came to her. Inara had grown to womanhood knowing that her duty was to serve. Inara had grown into womanhood believing that service to be sacred. She had not learned of her own emotions nor her own desires.

Mal overwhelmed her. Mal frightened her. Mal made her feel shame. Mal made her feel loneliness such that she might weep were she not a Companion. Such that she might weep had she not despised the weakness of her heart and Mal's easy ignorance of everything that she was, of everything that she was not.

Mal did not know that good girls did not become Companions. He called her a whore and she was more of a lady still than any woman he'd known. Inara had fine silk and satin dresses. Inara's skin was always clean--no grease, no blood, as for which Mal could respect Kaylee and Zoe. Inara's lips and eyes were delicately painted. Inara had been taught to walk like a lady, to sit like a lady, to eat and smile and breath most pleasing to those who sought her company. Inara was privilege. Inara was riches. Inara served those whom Mal most hated.

Calling her a whore was easier than anything else he might do.


3.

Companions were never bitter. Companions were never angry. Companions never hated, never envied, never mourned their lot in life, never wished for more. Companions were Companions, always. A Companion would not have loved Mal. Inara should not have loved Mal. She stretched out on silk sheets and wondered who she might have been were she not who she was. She stretched out on silk sheets and held tight to the thought of Mal, held tight to the image of the woman she might have been, held tight to the image of the woman she thought she might be.

Inara was not a whore and she would not invite Mal into her bed. Inara was a woman who wished that she might. Mal thought her a whore and would not approach her. She was a woman and he wished that he might. Inara brought men into her bed and her body. Mal scorned her and scorned them. Yet, if she had been anything but what she was, if he had been anyone but who he was, he would have sought to know her as did they.

Mal was a criminal. Mal was a thief. Mal was a killer. He smelt of gunpowder, of blood and sweat, of dirt and horses and oil. Mal was everywhere Inara looked. She could place her hand against a wall and feel Mal's heart beating in tune with the thrum of Serenity's engines. He hid without hiding who he was. He was distance and overwhelming presence. Mal was a mystery. Mal was a paradox. Mal was as nothing Inara had ever known. Inara forgave Mal as he could not forgive her. Inara loved Mal as he would not love her.

She was what she was. Mal was who he was. Together, they were nothing.

~end~


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