There are things that don't add up [RP for [livejournal.com profile] gracefulwoman]

Aug. 6th, 2009 09:01 pm
stillflyin: (Someone to carry you)
[personal profile] stillflyin
[OOC: Backstory for [livejournal.com profile] dontrightly_die]

It wasn't that he wasn't grateful. Things could've gone so much worse. Of course, worse was on a whole level of sliding scale at the moment from bad to terrible to 'verse shattering, and he wasn't quite sure where anything lay at the present moment. But he could've been without two of his crew. Zoe could've been without a husband. They could've been without their Shepherd.

What's more...they should've been.

Too many men had lain wounded in his arms too many times for him not to know how badly the Shepherd had been wounded. For all he'd ordered him not to die, the man was headed that way, and he didn't have many minutes left for this 'verse before his God called him home. Until Inara had come running with a syringe in her hand, saying maybe it would help, she didn't know, but maybe it would at least ease his pain...

And the man had gotten up off the ground.

They'd all been too grateful to question it much, thinking maybe he hadn't been that hurt. Simon had looked bemused, but he hadn't been there nearly as long as Mal, hadn't examined him so closely. He didn't know for sure. Inara had mostly stared around at the rest, griefstricken. The Shepherd had looked dazed. Mal had gone on, dismissing it. There were other things to do, things they had to take care of, a man they had to stop, a battle they had to fight.

But when the battle was over there was a man down, and he had a stake through his chest, no denying it. Mal and Zoe had seen it, clear as day, and when Inara did, she was almost as broken as Zoe. They didn't let the rest of them see. Simon was hurt. Kaylee, too. So was he, but Inara had one of those magic syringes, and she tried to give it to him, but he said no. Maybe he was delirious. Maybe he was clutching at hope. He wasn't going to die; he knew that. Wash was gone, but he made her put it in him anyway.

And the wound closed, he took a breath and Wash sat up.

Mal and Inara had stared at each other, and he'd stumbled out. Told Zoe they weren't asking any questions. Told the rest he'd been mistaken.

That wasn't good enough for him. He needed answers, and he had a mind to get them. That in mind, he made his way slowly to the door of Inara's shuttle and after a moment, knocked. Everything still ached, and it was gonna still take some time to put the ship to rights, but he needed to know, now, just what was going on, what she'd gotten involved in, and what the cost might be. Because benefits like this didn't come along without a price. No one gave anyone this sort of thing for free, not in this world.

Date: 2009-08-07 07:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
Inara knew Mal just well enough to anticipate that such an interrogation was coming. And even knowing it, even having a small amount of time to puzzle through what she could say, how much she could reveal--she still hadn't a clue how she was going to answer him.

The vials had been meant for her, not for Wash or the Shepherd, but she couldn't have lived with herself if she'd stood by and let them...let them die. Or stay dead, and oh, she was still shaken by that. She'd watched a tree-trunk sized hole in the pilot's chest heal, flesh and muscle closing in like flood water. Only then had she truly realized what it was she'd been carrying with her in those little syringes, all this time.

Miracles.

The knock threw her for a moment, because technically, it wasn't her shuttle anymore. It could be, if she decided she wanted it to be. Her gaze dropped to the folded red silks and perfumes in the chest she'd 'accidentally' left behind, and she sighed softly before calling out an answer.

"Come in."

Date: 2009-08-08 04:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
Hearing her voice, he let himself in to the shuttle, hovering in the door and watching her for a moment where she sat. Things put back together and he was forced to recognize once again how she spun him all about once more. But that wasn't even on the horizon as much at the moment as the fact of what she'd done and finding out how.

He looked around the shuttle that was bare, really, without all her things in it, the way it had been before. He hadn't spent much time in her since she'd left. It hadn't seemed right.

"Seems to me, we need to have a bit of a chat," he started, not bothering with any preamble.

Date: 2009-08-09 03:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
Seeing it was Mal, she sighed lightly, resigned to the direction the conversation would go even before he said a word. She looked up at him quietly for a moment, then closed the chest carefully and rose carefully from her kneeling position. The picture of patience and control, she sat down on the edge of the unmade bed, folded her hands in her lap and waited. "All right."

Date: 2009-08-09 10:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
He expected her to protest, somehow. To tell him to mind his own business or snap at him or make it difficult. Not that he wouldn't have persevered. His crew was alive when at least one of them had been dead, and if there was power like that in the 'verse when he'd lost...god, so many men...he wasn't just sittin' back and takin' it without questions, but he didn't expect such a calm reaction.

Then again, weren't like she ever did what he expected.

"What was that stuff you gave Wash an' the Shepherd?"

Date: 2009-08-10 06:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
When it came down to it, Inara had no desire to fight with him. After everything that they'd been through, here was no fight left in her. She couldn't remember a single time in her life where she'd felt so tired.

"I can't tell you that, Mal," she replied calmly, even as she knew it wasn't going to suit him, that she could say it until she was blue in the face and he would keep pressing.

Date: 2009-08-10 07:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
He watched her for a moment, taking in her calm answer before shaking his head. "I can't accept that, Inara. Shepherd should've died. He was near it, and you come along and a few seconds later he's fit as a fiddle. And Wash..." He was a little pale. They'd both seen the hole in his chest. "Man don't get up from that by no normal set of circumstances, Inara. Men don't raise up from the dead, but whatever it is you're carrying, it surely did raise them both up, and I need to know what it is, and how you did it. Seems to me, something like that's a pretty powerful sort of thing, more powerful than what our girl was carrying even, and you see the bit of trouble that got us all into. I ain't going into anything else blind again."

He'd done his best to make sure no one else knew, or realized, just what she'd done, what she held, but if anyone in the Alliance ever figured it out, or knew that sort of power existed? He wanted to be prepared. He had a right to know, to be able to be prepared.

Date: 2009-08-11 04:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
She knew he had a very valid point. But she'd made a promise to a client, a client she liked and respected--and even if she didn't, it didn't matter. A client's confidence had to be maintained.

"I understand that, Mal, but this...this isn't my secret to tell," she insisted, the first sign of her frustration the slight tightening of her hands in her lap.

Date: 2009-08-12 02:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
Mal watched her, and knew her well enough to note the frustration, but he was outright scared, in some ways, about what he'd seen. Grateful, but scared.

"I didn't figure it was," he conceded, trying to stay calm and reasonable and not make this a yelling match that would get them on the wrong side of next to nowhere. "And I have surely done my best to make it so as few people as possible realize you did anything out of the ordinary or that we've got anything more than some extraordinary bit of good luck on our hands. Zoe knows better with Wash, but she ain't gonna say nothing, so I'm doing my best to protect whatever secret it is, but just like with River, I can't do that proper if I don't know what it is I'm protecting."

Date: 2009-08-14 02:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
Inara could maintain her control and discipline among the most difficult of clients, but Malcolm Reynolds was like sand embedded under her skin. She rose smoothly from her perch on the edge of the bed and paced the too short length of the shuttle.

"It isn't that I don't appreciate your discretion, but I can't tell you anything more. My clients expect discretion from me." There. She could tell him that much, she supposed. "It doesn't--there's no reason for you to know."

Date: 2009-08-14 04:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
That told him something he suspected, but didn't know for sure beforehand at least. It had been a client, not just something about her he didn't know.

"You got a client running around handing out something that raises the dead?" He moved to pace to follow her, trailing behind to the end of the shuttle. "How is that even possible, Inara? An' yes. I do need to know. You've got that stuff on my boat. If he's a client, I take you to see him. Alliance finds out about that sort of thing, they'll be on him fast, and I don't know when you might be somewhere I'll need to get you out, or when they'll start looking at you--or at all of us again--for some sort of association."

Date: 2009-08-15 05:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
"I don't think said client makes it a habit of handing them out." As per usual, he was making things much more difficult than they had to be. Inara paused in her pacing, turned on her heel to face him. "As much as I appreciate your concerns, they're unfounded. I can't break a client's confidence when it suits me. I don't have another vial, nor do I plan to ask for another. Let it go, Mal."

Date: 2009-08-17 05:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
"I can't do that," he said, starting to move from determined to frustrated. "You should know that by now, just as much as you should know you can trust me. I ain't gonna..." He didn't even know what she thought he was going to do, but after everything they'd just gone through.

"Inara, I need to know. There's been too many secrets floatin' around the last few months, and I don't rightly think that I can handle many more."

Date: 2009-08-18 03:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
"This isn't a matter of trusting you," she protested, every 's' a hiss slipping through clenching teeth. She pressed her fingers to her temples in an attempt to stave off the temper trying to rise. "I--I don't even know where to begin, or if you'd even believe the truth."

Date: 2009-08-20 12:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
"Just start at the beginning," he suggested simply, no sarcasm there. "I saw a man's chest with a hole in it close, Inara, and him breathe again, fit as if he'd never been wounded. I'll believe you."

Date: 2009-08-20 04:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
Even with that, it was a fantastic tale, one that Inara could hardly believe on most days. Still, she sat back down and folded her hands in her lap, a resigned sigh slipping out before she began. "He's a regular client of mine, and has been for years. He...I don't even know how to say it."

Sitting still was no longer an option, and she rose again to pace across the shuttle. She was sure that Mal didn't care about half of what she was saying, but if he wanted the story, he was going to hear it the way she wished to tell it. "He's always enjoyed swordplay--not that unusual, fencing is a common activity in high society, as you've witnessed. But he also appreciated older forms of swordplay, forms I studied at the temple and rarely have the chance to practice. I cut him, once, accidentally. A superficial surface wound, but it...healed. Right before my eyes."

Date: 2009-08-20 05:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
If he hadn't seen Book and Wash, Mal might not have believed that, it was true, but seeing what he'd seen...it seemed reasonable that somehow, someway it had happened before.

It took him just a bit aback, however, at the implication of what she was saying. Part of him had figured on it being some sort of miracle drug, some other Alliance secret, even if it had looked like blood. He remembered hearing someone talk about something that had been mentioned in research once about machines they put in your blood so tiny you needed a microscope to see. He didn't think it had gone anywhere, but maybe that sort of thing.

"...He just healed? All by his ownself?"

Date: 2009-08-20 05:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
"Without so much as the faintest scarring left behind. Just a line of blood with no source wound. I...didn't know what to say, what to think." And yet somehow, she'd managed to keep her calm. "It's a...genetic quirk, let's say. His cells regenerate unbelievably fast, and so, he heals from every wound, every sickness, every poison, in mere seconds. And if his blood is transfused into another living being, it will do the same to their body, for a brief time. He gave me those vials after he learned that I traveled with...space pirates." And despite the seriousness of the discussion, she rolled her eyes at the term, just a little. "Just in case things ever went badly enough that they would be beneficial. For an emergency."

Date: 2009-08-20 10:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
Mal was just staring at her. He managed not to gape, kept his mouth closed, but whatever he'd been expecting, a client with magic healing blood surely wasn't it.

"So this fella's got blood running in his veins that can raise the dead," he said after a few minutes of silence that stretched out long while he just stared at her. "And somehow the Alliance hasn't...they lock up River 'cause she's got a bit of a gift at readin' folk, but he can raise the dead an' is running around free and hiring you whenever it tickles his fancy?"

Somehow that didn't seem right at all, and he didn't know why he was feeling angry, except from fear maybe, that there were things in the 'verse that were so far outside of his contemplation.

Date: 2009-08-20 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
"I told you it wasn't easy to believe," Inara replied in a half-snap, thoroughly irritated. "I would imagine, Mal, that he stays out of the Alliance's radar by not parading his unique ability in front of the masses."

Her lips pressed into a tight line, she shook her head and swept across the room to burn off the sudden swoop of frustration and anger. She shouldn't have told him a thing. She knew better, what was wrong with her?

Date: 2009-08-21 02:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
"I didn't say I didn't believe you," he snapped back. "I just..." He ran his hand through his hair, watching her with frustration brewing of his own. "I don't know how to...It is one of the most...fēng kuáng de things I've ever heard, and I don't know how it fits in the world. Whole damn thing is turned upside down and around, all over again."

Date: 2009-08-21 02:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
Someday--no, who was she kidding. There was no someday. He would never listen to reason or entertain the notion that someone other than him knew what was best. He was Mal.

"You wanted to know," she pointed out simply, folding her arms and turning away to resume pacing.

Date: 2009-08-21 05:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
"Didn't say I didn't," he shot back. "Just...wasn't expecting it to be...that."

Date: 2009-08-22 03:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
"And what were you expecting?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. "Because even knowing what I did, I certainly didn't expect anything to happen when I injected Was with that syringe. I don't have answers for you, Mal. Why couldn't you just let this go?"

Date: 2009-08-22 08:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
"I surely don't know!" Mal exclaimed, throwing his hands up. "Some secret drug or...those tiny robots they were talkin' about puttin' in people a while back to fix 'em up, but no one thought it was a good idea!"

Date: 2009-08-22 10:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
"Nanites," Inara mumbled, unable to keep from rolling her eyes a little. "They're called nanites, Mal." And they were straying from the point. "You can't speak a word of this, not a word. Not to Zoe, not to anyone."

Date: 2009-08-23 11:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
Mal gave her a truly offended look, not mock, and not playing. "I promised you I wouldn't when I asked."

Date: 2009-08-24 02:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
"Yes, when you thought it was nanotechnology or a secret potion," Inara replied, meeting his gaze evenly and somberly. "Not an ability living within someone's very cells. I just wanted to stress how important it is that this be kept quiet."

Date: 2009-08-24 03:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
"Doesn't matter what I thought it was going t'be. I gave you my word I wouldn't say anything, an' I mean to keep it." He held her gaze, still with the hint of being offended in his.

Date: 2009-08-24 01:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
In Inara's mind, he would just have to be offended--he couldn't begin to understand the breach in professional behavior she'd just let slip, not to mention betraying the trust of a dear friend who'd done so much for her. The entire conversation had left her with a very sour taste in her mouth. "All right," she replied simply, clasping her hands in front of her and frowning down at the floor.

Date: 2009-08-24 08:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
He stared back at her for a long moment, then nodded. He did have some idea what it cost her to tell him, that it went against her own promises and loyalties, but he still figured on the fact that he had a right to know. Even so..."Thank you," he said, voice a bit gruff. "For tellin' me. I won't let no one know."

Date: 2009-08-25 04:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
All things considered, that had gone...much easier, than she would've thought, and she smiled a little as she looked up. "I appreciate that, Mal."

Date: 2009-08-25 08:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
He gave her a bit of a smile back, and then frowned, because there was, of course, one more important bit of info she hadn't given him, and it seemed sort of important if there were other folk even more...special than River running around in the world. He could narrow it down, really, given he knew a bit more about her business than he let on, but the question tumbled out anyway.

"Who?"

Date: 2009-08-25 11:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
Dammit. She'd so hoped that he hadn't noticed she'd danced around actually giving him a name. All hint of a smile disappeared as she sighed. "No one that, to my knowledge, you know or have ever met. Does it really matter?"

Date: 2009-08-26 03:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
"It matters." Truth be told, he weren't totally sure why it mattered, but it did. "Man saved my crew. Even if I ain't ever gonna say a thing to no one, I s'pose I owe him a kindness for that, should it ever come to it."

Date: 2009-08-26 05:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
Her frustration returning in full force, Inara heaved a sigh and folded her hands tightly in front of her. "Allow me to speak with him first, at the very least. Please."

Date: 2009-08-27 04:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
Mal frowned, not liking being put off, but he figured he owed her and the mystery man a debt he weren't likely to ever be able to repay, so he nodded once. "All right."

Date: 2009-08-27 08:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
Thankful that he would at least give her that much, her posture relaxed again. "Thank you."

Date: 2009-08-27 08:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
Mal nodded a little, though he still looked discomfited. "Least I can do..."

Date: 2009-08-28 01:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
"Yes," Inara replied rather bluntly, raising an eyebrow at his look. "It is."

Date: 2009-08-28 02:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
Mal shot her a bit of a look at the tone and then glanced away, changing the subject. "Is there anything you need as you're settlin' back in?"

Date: 2009-08-28 02:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
Inara glanced around the very bare shuttle, a trace of a smile touching her lips. "...I scarcely know where to begin, but I'll manage well enough. Thank you."

Date: 2009-08-28 02:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
Mal nodded a little. "All right. You think of anything...let me know?"

Date: 2009-08-28 04:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
"That's..." Very unusually accommodating of you, she wanted to say, but caught herself and merely smiled. "I will. Thank you Captain."

Date: 2009-08-28 04:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
He nodded, then scowled a bit, straightening. "Right, then. I'll...let you get back to whatever it was you were...doing. You'll let me know when you've spoken to him?"

Date: 2009-08-29 10:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gracefulwoman.livejournal.com
"Of course," Inara replied, the picture of control and courtesy again.

Date: 2009-08-29 11:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stillflyin.livejournal.com
Mal nodded a bit, and started to say something, then floundered, unsure what else there was to say, and nodded again, before letting himself out.

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Malcolm Reynolds

August 2009

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