Master of Ceremonies AAC 2007 (jugglesgeese) wrote in fireflyfans,
Master of Ceremonies AAC 2007

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Title: Start of Something New
Rating: PG-13, (will change to R in later parts)
Pairing: Mal and Inara, cannon for the rest
Part: One be determined
Summary: This takes place between Shindig and Serenity. Mal and Inara find out just how close they're becoming to one another. Mostly covers the mishaps between episodes, filler. BIG thanks goes to noneofyours for being Inara :3! And more thanks to my friends for betaing this story for me! Hope you all enjoy this!

Mal winced with each step he took, feeling his blood spill out of him more and more. "See, now this is why I dun go to parties often. I end up gettin' myself in a mess of trouble tryin' to keep people safe and then I get myself stabbed or somethin'..AAA!"

"Mal...." Inara shook her head, holding onto Mal with both hands. They were on their way back to Serenity. "Oh no, can I do anything?" She rested her head against his shoulder, sighing a little.

"Well, ya' can make my side stop bleeding.." He stopped and closed his eyes, leaning against a near by tree. He was getting pretty dizzy, but he wouldn't tell her that. Instead he just grabbed his side and bit his lip. "Gorram.."

"We're almost there, Mal. Just a few more steps, and then Simon can patch you up." She stopped when he stopped, biting her bottom lip. "We're almost there...."

He nodded and walked along with her seeing his ship. "Ya' know..don't do it offen..but your worth gettin' all bloody for. Ya' know that right. Not the only person that thinks so on this ship.." He got to the door, seeing Badger on his ship. We rolled his eyes to his crew sitting down and playing cards.

"Well, ain't this a sight," he yelled, all of them looking up. Badger got up from the chair and smirked at him. "Got us a deal?"

"I got a deal, now get off my ship." Once telling him to get off, he collapsed in the chair Badger had been sitting in, the slimy Irish man and his men leaving.

Simon shook his head. "You're hurt." Inara stayed beside Mal, her hand resting against his arm. He had said something nice to her. She was going to die of shock, she was sure of it. He thought it was worth getting bloody for her. She rubbed his hand with her own as Simon spoke. "Ok, Jayne, Zoe, bring him to the infirmary."

" Ain't movin' from this chair." He knew he wouldn't make it to the infirmary. "Sure you can tend to me here." He slowly started to take his shirt off and balled it up, pressing it to his side. He rested his head against the back of the chair and closed his eyes. If Inara wasn't going to die of shock, he was. Literally.

"Mal..." But already Simon was going to get his bag and do as Mal asked. Jayne took off, muttering something about not wanting to see Mal's chest. Inara felt Kaylee's hand on her shoulder, but she didn't move. Reaching out, her hands brushed against his, offering to hold the shirt to his side for him. "You need pressure, Mal."

His face cringed in horrible pain, weakness. But it was brief. He exhaled heavily and placed his hands over hers. "Pressin' s'hard as I can.." which wasn't true. Between not sleeping the night before and getting his pigu handed to him he didn't have it in him to begin with.

She felt a shiver run through her body at his hands on hers. Thankfully, Simon came back, so she didn't have to think about it. He took the shirt off and began to work, a pair of gloves on his hands. "This isn't too bad, Mal. You could have been hurt worse." He swabbed the blood away and began to sew him closed.

Mal watched him. "Naw..this ain't nothin'." He smirked at Inara and Kaylee. Simon rolled his eyes and finished sewing, wrapping the wound tightly. He saw to Mal's other wounds and took a step back. "You gonna get up now..? You need to lay down." Mal shook his head. "Cargo should be showin' up soon. Need to be here for it."

Simon frowned. He couldn't tell Mal what to do, but he didnt like it. "Well, I insist you go to your bunk as soon as it does. I would... suggest, that you have Zoe or Jayne do all the work and set up if anything needs to, and then maybe Inara can help you to your bunk. If I had to make a suggestion." Simon packed up his bag and headed off to the infirmary. "Um, Cap'n, I"m glad you're ok. I'm a just gonna see if Simon needs any help." Kaylee smirked and took off after Simon. Zoe and Jayne stood there, Jayne already bitching at the possibility of extra work.

Mal watched them all walk away and then he closed his eyes, sighing. He looked as though he'd passed out. Peaceful almost.

Zoe and Jayne set up the cargo bay. Wash went up to the bridge to set the coordinates to Jangyin. Book and River went off together, strangely, leaving Inara with Mal. Still kneeling beside him she closed her eyes and rested her head against his arm, muttering something quietly.

"Meant what I said ya' know. 'bout bleedin' for ya'." He opened his eyes and watched her rest on his arm. "He ain't gonna come back and do nothin' to ya' is he? That Guild of yours ain't gonna be tellin' ya' to finish up?" He would fight Atherton again if he had too. He still had some fight left in him. Enough fight to maybe get out of that chair.

"No..." She had to wave the Guild, but she didn't have the energy to get up just yet. "As soon as I contact the Guild, he'll be taken care of. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't know already, somewhat, other Companions and such." She looked up at Mal, her eyes wide and innocent under those dark lashes of hers. "I know you would, Mal, bleed for me. Just rest... no more bleeding." She reaached up and gently stroked his cheek.

He barely leaned into her touch when the doors opened and Warrick stepped on board. Mal pushed himself up in the chair and regretted every minute of it. He winced louder then he wanted and hunched over, holding his side and the arm to the chair.

"Mal!" Instantly she was there, her arm around his waist, supporting him. She looked up at Warrick, giving him a small, grateful smile. "Malcolm Reynolds." Warrick walked over and handed Mal a small leather satchel, with half the pay and the specific coordinates. Behind him, a few men were bringing the cattle.

"Warrick," he smirked through his pain. He looked strong even hunched over, the way his crew always saw him when he was hurt. Strong, fighting it. "Be sure to get 'em there soon as we can. And safe like." He straightened himself out, arm still around her.

"I'm sure you will." Warrick turned to Inara, taking her free hand in his. "Ms. Serra, it was a pleasure meeting you. You have a strong champion here." Inara blushed and nodded her head, silent. Warrick turned back to Mal. "You will get the other half on the planet, but I threw in an extra 2000 coin for you." So Badger cant get a cut of it, Warrick thought, but didn't say. "I think, in the future, I'll enjoy working with you, Captain Reynolds."

"Much abliged." Warrick shook Mal's free hand and stepped off the ship, past the fences and out the door. Mal sighed and spoke quietly. "Anyone else in the bay..?"

"Well, Warrick is taking his men with them." Inara smiled. "Zoe and Jayne set up the metal cage barriers, so the cattle won't run." She looked around the bay. "No, Mal. Zoe closed the doors and went up to the bridge. And Jayne, who knows where he went." She looked up to Mal. "We're alone."

He crumbled back into the chair, hissing. His breathing was labored, sweat beading on his brow. He felt like he'd never worked so hard in his life. After a few minutes, his breathing calmed, but he still looked like hell.

"Mal, why don't we get you up to your bunk? Some rest will do you good and it isn't that far. I can help you." She pulled a small scarf out of her pocket and dabbed at his face with the silk. She was worried, but she wouldn't voice it. She knew he'd only tell her not to be and he didn't need to be irritated at the moment.

He nodded and took a deep breath, sitting up again and biting his lip. "Ta ma de.." he seethed. He did his best not to lean on her and started up the stairs, taking them one at a time. "Sure you got better things to do then play babysitter ta' me."

"I think it's the least I can do for a bonafide champion." Once they got up to the steps, she smiled at him, trying to take as much weight as he'd let her have. "At least you have a better attitude then say Jayne." Once at the steps to his bunk, she faltered. "Are you going to be able to make it down those, Mal? Maybe we should go to my shuttle instead?"

He was winded again, not really with it enough to hear her. He pressed his hand to the wall and curled away from her, putting all his weight against it. Just then Kaylee's bunk opened, and Mal shot up. "Kaylee. How's things runnin' in our engine? Gonna be able to support all that bovine?" His shield was up again.

"Shiny, Cap'n. Gonna go check on her now, but she's runnin' smooth! I need to check the fastenings on the compression coil, and I wanna make sure the air system's workin', what with havin two weeks of smellin' cattle. Trust me, don't wanna smell that if ya don't have to." She smiled at Mal and Inara. "Not to fret!" She scampered past them and off towards the Engine room.

He watched her go and sighed, ready to crumble again and tell Inara where he probably should go, when Jayne appeared with something to complain about. He sighed heavier and started walking back to the catwalk, Jayne cryin' in his ear the whole time. Something about listening to cows and not having enough ammo for his new gun he picked up off someone somewhere.

Inara followed along, refusing to leave Mal's side. How badly she wanted to tell Jayne where to go, but she didn't. No, that was Mal's thing, and it wasn't her place to say a word. "Mal, you're about ready to drop. Pick a place," she hissed.

He stopped on the railing about to tell Jayne where he could stick his empty clips, when Simon appeared to complain about low supplies in the infirmary. Mal was about to admit it was his fault and most of it was used on him, when Zoe appeared, looking for better quardinates for Wash. He was getting dizzy again and angry fast. It was evident he was about to snap.

There was only so much Inara could take. If Mal chose to get mad at her, well then so be it. He was sick, hurting, and these people were going to drive him insane. "Ni men dou shi sha gua! " Inara reached into his pocket and pulled out the small satchel where Mal had placed it, handing it to Zoe for him. Then, she turned to Simon, snapping at him. "Make a list." Shaking her head, she urged Mal off, towards her shuttle.

Mal didn't really fight her choice of words. S'what he would have said. He got to Inara's shuttle and walked in, standing there not sure where she wanted him to go. "Thanks." He whispered in a very tired voice.

Inara shut the door behind him. "You're welcome, Mal." She urged him towads the bed, tugging ligthly on his arms. "Please, you need to rest." She wouldn't take no for an answer. Her look told him that he better listen to her. "They need people to coddle them. Now is not the right time."

Mal pulled his boots off, still not laying down yet. "Puttin' ya' out. Can't be doin' that.." He laid down slowly on his good side and closed his eyes, pain still evident on his face. "I'm the Cap'n..they look up ta' me..course I have to coddle 'em.."

"Mal, you're hurt." She sat on the edge of the bed, running her fingers down his arm. "They should see that, and not want to be coddled, at least letting you heal first." She leaned down and kissed his cheek. "You're not putting me out, so get that notion out of your head right now. Let me coddle you."

He was almost completely passed out. "Tryin' ta be strong for 'em all the time. Cap'n can't be weak..get hurt so gorram easily." He was panting again, shivering some. All the effects of losing to much blood. "Never been coddled.." he whispered softly.

"Well, now it's time, isn't it." She got another blanket out and draped it over him. Crawling up on the bed behind him, she gently rested one arm over his chest, careful to not come anywhere near his wound. Stroking him, she kissed the back of his shoulder. She would probably regret the intimate touches later, but he needed this. "Shhhh. Captain can be weak here, I won't tell."

His body relaxed instantly and he was out cold. His breathing slowed down, body shaking less and less. He still had a slight fever but that was dropping. Mal was out cold and resting. Something that rarely if ever, happened. When he would come to, he would hardly believe it himself. No sooner had he konked out was there a knock on the door.

Inara rose and gently went over to the door. Opening it a crack, she peekd out, whispering. "Who's there?" She looked around, not wanting to wake Mal.

It was Book, holding his prayer book. "Just wanted to make sure he got to laying down all right. Thought maybe I could say a quick prayer if he was sleeping."

Inara nodded her head and stepped back, allowing Book entrance. She gave him a 'just be quiet so he doesn't hear you' look and walked over to the bed, standing at the foot of it. Mal looked so peaceful when he was sleeping.

Book bowed his head and silently prayed and thanked God Mal was all right. When he was through, he looked up and smiled at Inara. "I don't recall ever seeing Mal so relaxed since my time on this ship. Who knew it would take a sword in the side to do so."

Inara smiled, that knowing look of hers. She wouldn't tell him that she had just been snuggling up to Mal. "I think he's just happy he can be in the bed. My defenses were low, it was be kind to poor sword victims day," she teased.

Mal shifted in the bed, pain running over his face for a moment and then he was fast asleep again. "Boy's strong. Probably the strongest I've know. Never a dull moment with him around."

Inara nodded and walked back to the shuttle door, leaning against it. "He really is. I don't know what we would do without him. Just don't let him know I said that."

"I can't think of this crew functioning without him." Book walked with her to the door and took her hand. "Watch out for the leader of the flock. I'm sure by morning he'll be back to his normal self." He took one last look back at Mal and then headed out the door.

Inara nodded her head and closed the door. "He couldn't be more right," she whispered. Heading over to the couch, she got out a book and began to read it, occasionally looking up at Mal to check on him.

Another knock came on the door the next morning, but they only left their present by the door. Mal was woken by the sound and slowly sat up supporting his side. Oh it still hurt, but at least he didn't feel completely trashed anymore. Slowly getting off the bed, he walked to the door, seeing the jug sitting there. He smirked. "Has ta be from Kaylee.."

Inara had fallen asleep on the couch. Her dress had inched up to her thighs and she was snuggled up to a sofa cushion. Her hair was all rumpled and she looked like she'd just had sex, except she hadn't. The knock stirred her, but only just, blinking and rolling over onto her other side, now her backside was to Mal.

Mal saw her move and smirked. So this was Inara at her worst? She wasn't the beautiful, pampered woman he saw everyday and he held back a laugh. "Think I like this one more," he whispered to himself. Walking back to the bed, he reached down and grabbed the shirt someone must have brought him up and put it on, not bothering to tuck it in. He sighed, realizing how much work that was and looked around the shuttle.

It was the sigh that woke her, surprisingly. "Mal," she murmured a little, rolling over onto her back and sat up. Rubbing at her eyes, she yawned, stretching her arms above her head.

He focused on her. "Mornin'." He rubbed his own eyes and stood slowly. "Some night huh?"

Inara nodded her head and stood up. "It... it was." She blushed and looked into the mirror, immediately smoothing down her hair, checking her makeup, and unable to believe that Mal is seeing her like this. "I, um... how do you feel? Do you remember anything?" Like me cuddling you, she thought.

"I remember the squabble outside..everyones problems I gotta deal with later..and" He shook his head and watched her out of the corner of his eye as she changed. "Didn't really dream much either. Just passed out and woke up here."

Oh thank Buddha, she thought to herself. She smiled, looking up at him. "I... I'm sorry, I probably shouldn't have snapped at them like I did. They just... upset me."

"Ya' just said what I was thinkin'. Might have passed out right in front of them iffin' I'd blown up. So, I appreicate it." He nodded and finally looked at her. "Though I'm sure they'll all need me to solve somethin' soon enough." He laughed and winced. Gorram stab wound.

Inara stepped closer, sighing. "Mal, I'm so sorry." She reached up and pet his shoulder. She wanted to run her fingers over his wound, but didn't want to hurt him more. "Can I do anything for you?"

"Ain't nothin' ta' be sorry for." He was very astute about that. "Gonna have a drink on the catwalk though. Join me?" He knew Kaylee's moonshine all to well. And he also knew Inara had never had the 'pleasure' of trying it before.

"Well, her shine is pretty strong. I..." She looked down at the floor, then back up to him. "I... I would like that a lot." She extended her arm to him, looking coyly up from beneath her eyelashes.

"Shiny." He bent down slowly and picked up the jug heading out to the bay and sitting down. There were cups with it and he started to pour some for himself and Inara, looking down over the cows in his bay.

Inara slowly followed and sat down beside him, carefully arranging her skirts. Sitting quite still, she looked up at Mal, taking one of the cups as he handed it to her. "Thank you, Mal. Are you hurt?"

"Well..if we remember correctly I got stabbed, right here. Wanna see?" He lifted up his shirt and showed her the blood stain bandages.

Inara held up her hand. "No, that's quite alright." She looked out at the bay, sniffling her nose a little at the cows. She smiled, thinking of Serenity and everyone on it. "I wasn't going to take his offer, you know."

"I know." He smirked and sipped at his moonshine, hiss a moment as it hit his tounge. Good strong stuff. Just as he liked it.

"All my things are here." She looked at him, giving him a smile. "Why would I want to leave Serenity anyway?"

"Can't think of a reason." He sipped again, looking around the bay. The cows were awful noisey down below them, but he ignored it. It was then that Jayne popped in again. "Mal? You was in there all night?" Mal looked up and sighed. "I was sleepin' Jayne. Whatcha need now?"

Jayne leered, but didn't say anything more about it, just nodding his head at Mal. Oh yeah, he was grinning wide, causing Inara to shake her head and stare out at the bay. Taking a sip of her drink, she coughed a little, raising an eyebrow. This was strong stuff.

"I'm just sayin' Mal. Weren't on Persphone long 'nough ta get supplies. Food and ammo and import thing like that. Need ta' be stoppin' soon."

Mal sighed. "All right. Find a small moon for us to land on. We can stop for a few hours grab what we need." Jayne looked like a little kid in the candy store. He ran off to go tell Wash.

She listened to the exchange between Mal and Jayne, watching him run off. "You know, he's going to run for the closest whorehouse or tavern." She looked up at Mal, trying not to laugh.

"Yeah well..he's only got a few hours and I'm leavin' him if he's late." He finished his drink and contemplated another. But decided against it. He sighed and looked out to the bay again.

Inara finished her drink and gave him her glass. "Some more please?" She looked out at the cattle, wrinkling her nose a little at the smell.

He raised an eyebrow. "Really now?" He picked up the jug and and poured her another glass. Wash voice came over the radio. "Should be landing in an hour or so. Little back water moon, so no worries of Alliance."

"Good to hear," Mal murmered as he poured.

"Yes, Mal, really." She hiccuped. "It really is quite good stuff, if you ignore just how strong it is. I don't think I can have more after this glass, though. Who knows what I might do, inhibitions and all."

"I think it's already taken to ya'." He smiled and poured himself another glass as well. "Ain't right for a lady to be drinkin' alone." He smiled and took a long swig. He placed his glass down and stood up, hating every minute of it. "Suppose I should go change.."

"You offer to drink with me, tell me not to drink alone, and then you leave me." She raised her glass to Mal, grinning. "Fine, be it as it may..." She tilted her head back and chugged the shot, very not like her. She wanted to try to make Mal smile. Then, she winced. Damn it was strong stuff. She coughed a little. "Um... I don't think I can help you with that."

He did smile and shook his head. "Dun think so either. So. I'll be back. Sure you'll wanna be getting off ship as well." Simon stepped out into the bay.

"MAL! You should come and let me look at your side before we go planet side."

"All right ma'!" He shook his head. Only a matter of time before the good doctor caught up to him again.

Inara stood up, starting to get a case of the giggles. Just the idea of helping him dress made her blush, really blush. "Well, no, I don't think... I mean, not that I would, I..." She was very glad of Simon's interrruption. She left the glass with the jug, slowly moving back a little. "I don't really want to get off ship unless someone accompanied me. I'll see you later, Mal."

"Well ya' can come with me. Just plan on takin' a walk anyways. Crew can get things and I know Simon's not gonna want me liftin' nothin'."

"I might like that." Inara watched him head off to see Simon and went into her shuttle and changed into a clean dress, one that was a little tighter in the bodice. And it was shorter, it fell down to her shins, with a pair of strappy golden sandles. Pulling her hair up, she left a few tendrils falling down around her face and returned down to the cargo bay. There, she ran into Kaylee and started talking with her, mostly girltalk.

Serenity landed and Mal appeared at the doors with the rest of them. Dressed like nothing was wrong, though his hand was still firmly planted on his hip. Wash came down and joined them as Mal opened the door. " Now remember, ya'll have a list of things you're needing and we only got a few hours so don't be wandering off and losin' track of time." He walked over pressing the button to lower the door. The crew just nodded and mumbled amoungst themselves. Like they hadn't gotten this speach before. Mal shook his head and turned to the outside, freezing in place.

His eyes grew huge at the sight. Bodies, everywhere. Building's burnt, bodies or what were left of them also burnt and smoking. "Reavers.." Mal breathed. They'd long come and gone but the mess was still..horrifying.

End Part One
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