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Title: Never Runs Smooth
Rating: A Harder R - a first for me

Summary: Chapter 6. There's a reason why Mal doesn't believe in luck. Can Inara and the rest of the crew prove the Captain wrong? Or does Fate truly have a thing against him? This is the sixth installment of my angst contribution to the delightful Sushi-verse.
Series: Takes place in the Firefly Sushi!verse created by [livejournal.com profile] terimaru. Here is the list of fics in this 'verse so far.
Timeline: set between between Mis-Ceptions and Inara's Gift
Pairing: Mal/Inara
Word Count: 3,248
Disclaimer: Mr. Whedon and posse own all but the fish and all things related to Avery. Those are [livejournal.com profile] terimaru's.


Chapters: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8




Chapter 6


Over the next week, Mal’s strength gradually began to improve. With Abigail’s meals, even Mal’s tendency to nibble had turned into a genuine appetite, and Inara delighted as his sickly pallor retreated and his eyes grew brighter and more mischievous.

He was able to walk across the room, now, with help, which thoroughly disgusted him and thrilled everyone else, and stayed awake for hours at a time easily, which Simon was none too pleased with.

Simon, having conceded that the majority of drugs he could have used to help Mal sleep tended to do more harm than good, was beside himself with frustration. The last week’s round of fevered dreams had shaken them all, but none as badly as Mal, who fought sleep now like a man possessed.

He’d drifted off just a few minutes ago, but Inara knew it wouldn’t last long, and had decided to take the opportunity to pull Simon aside while she had the chance. The doctor was starting to look more like his old self as well. Since Mal’s injury, Simon had kept himself near his side for days on end, waking when Mal did and trying to insure he was never in any discomfort – not an easy thing to do when said patient had a high pain threshold and loathed drugs enough to flat out lie about how he was feeling when asked.

She suspected this was the first time Simon had ever been in a position where not listening to the patient had nearly killed them, and it had shaken him to the core. Looking back, both Mal and Zoë had told Simon repeatedly about his difficulties with sleeping meds, but even Inara had had no idea how bad it could be until she’d had to hold Mal down as he relived things he’d already survived; incapable of waking up and unable to recognize it as a dream.

Seeing how he interacted with Mal now made her realize just how confident/arrogant Simon had been in the past. Not that he’d been wrong – he was the finest surgeon she’d ever seen – but his tendency to make an assessment and stick to it held no room for flexibility, and the reality was that different people needed different things.

Kaylee, bless her, had seen Simon’s crisis of confidence and taken him aside to bolster him back up in ways that meant he looked permanently flustered and out of breath. It was hard work not to giggle as the genius mechanic systematically worked the starch out of Simon’s shirts, so to speak, and as Mal recovered, Inara began to realize, they were all beginning to see a side to Simon she suspected only River had ever seen before.

“I know he’s used to running on just a few hours of sleep a night, but with an injury like this, he really needs more,” Simon began as Inara led him across the room to the window that was currently partly shaded against the afternoon suns. It was how he started most conversations with her these days, and it struck her how much he expected her to interpret Mal’s words and actions as opposed to Zoë.

“Can he take more walks?” Inara asked softly, keeping an eye on Mal’s still form as she spoke to Simon. The doctor shook his head firmly.

“He’s already pushing it, really, but since it’s cheering him up to do it, I’m reluctant to slow him down. Any more, though, and he risks re-injuring himself.”

“Then it’s time to try other things. There are other ways of tiring a man out,” Inara said baldly, and had to work to keep a straight face as Simon’s jaw practically hit the floor. Inara’s attention was caught by Mal stirring faintly.

“Uh…” Simon replied, looking briefly at her, then quickly away as he turned red all the way to his ears. After a second, he cleared his throat and ventured, “It might be a little early for that yet.”

“For intercourse, certainly, but how about fellatio?” Inara asked innocently, and had to work hard to keep her face impassive as Mal’s eyes popped open.

“Inara?” Mal asked, his voice still husky with sleep, but his eyes bright as he zeroed in on the two of them across the room. Oh yes, he’d heard her all right.

“Only if he keeps still. And I’d like to check his dressings after the first few times to make sure everything looks fine,” Simon said as he avidly avoided Inara’s eyes. Even ducking his head, though, it was impossible not to see the wide toothy grin that stretched his cheeks and made him look impossibly young.

In that moment Inara was reminded that Simon wasn’t too much older than River, and it amazed her to think of all he’d gone through, first to rescue and then later protect his sister. Simon had a lot more in common with Mal than he realized, and in a burst of insight Inara understood how much Mal had been protecting both siblings from the Alliance, not just River. She hoped someday Simon might see it as well.

“Inara?” Mal asked again, and his voice was pitched nearly an octave higher.

“Hush, honey. I’m not done talking about our sex life with your doctor yet,” Inara replied, and Simon coughed into his hand.

“If you can wear him out enough that he sleeps more than a couple of hours at a time, you’ll go a long way toward speeding his recovery,” Simon said, his voice nearly warbling with mirth.

Inara smiled brightly and turned the full weight of her grin on Mal. “I’ll take that as a challenge,” she said.

“Right, then,” Simon said and nodded rapidly as he fled the room, closing the door behind him firmly. Inara could hear Kaylee’s cheerful voice outside the door and Simon’s muffled snorts of laughter as he clearly was filling her in on why now wasn’t a good time to be checking up on the captain.

“Fellatio, huh?” Mal asked, trying to regroup his dignity, but she could see that although mortified, he was also interested. Very interested.

“You know that word, do you?” Inara asked in a low voice as she prowled towards the bed. Mal’s eyes were lit from within, the most animated she’d seen him in weeks, as she crawled up onto the foot of the bed and let her silky shirt fall forward as she slinked towards him, revealing the lacy corset she wore underneath.

“Oh, I know plenty of words,” Mal said, his lips curled in a devilish smile and the corners of his eyes crinkled with mirth. He opened his mouth to speak again, but Inara put a finger to his lips to quickly shush him as her other hand began to pull down the sheets.

“Ah ah ah,” she scolded him. “You don’t want to shock me, now, do you?” she purred. Mal laughed and shook his head.

“You are a wicked, wicked woman and you take entirely too much delight in shocking me. I don’t think I’ll every be able to look Simon in the eyes again,” he said, and closed his own eyes as she let her fingers slide from his lips, down his chin, and caress his chest before dancing on the edges of his bandage and gently trailing lower.

The heat radiating off his body made her own skin flush in response. It was going to be a lot harder not to disobey Simon than she’d originally thought, but she’d set a goal of three and a half hours, and had every intention of seeing to it Mal cooperated.

Mal’s breath hitched as the sheets slid down his warm skin. Inara gently suckled the fingers she’d held to his lips for a moment, then slid her fingertip across her collarbone from one shoulder to the other, leaving behind the faintest trail of moisture. Mal swallowed hard, his pupils so dilated his eyes nearly looked black.

Delicately, Inara’s fingers trailed from her collarbone, slowly down her chest, to begin expertly unbuttoning her blouse with one hand, a trait that amused Mal to no end when he was in a playful mood; declaring that only men should be that proficient at undoing clothing.

Inara’s retort the first time he’d said that, promising that she was just as adept at unhooking corsets and bras with one hand as she was at unbuttoning shirts, had left Mal’s eyes glazed for the rest of their lovemaking that night.

As her shirt fell open and slid down her arms, he reached out to touch her face. She caught his hand in hers, then spread his fingers open so she could kiss and nip at his palm and wrist for a moment before pressing it back to the bed, shaking her head. Pulling back, she quickly drew her skirt over her head and tossed it aside.

“I’m flying, dong ma? You’re just along for the ride,” Inara said huskily, and began working his boxers slowly off with a technique that didn’t even require him to move his hips.

“I’m thinking it’s mighty selfish, me expectin’ you to do all the work,” he said with a thick voice, his hand reaching quickly out and brushing against her breast, rubbing the lace of the corset she’d been wearing underneath her clothes against her nipple. For someone who’d always seemed so puritanical about talking of sex, Mal knew just what sent shivers to her core and made her spine tingle with delight.

“There’ll be plenty of time for that later, Captain,” Inara purred as she reluctantly pulled out of his reach. If he touched her like that much longer, she knew she wouldn’t be able to resist him.

She began kissing his chest, licking at his nipples and nipping at his sides where she knew he was most sensitive, letting her hair slide across his skin as she swayed from side to side. Turning her face for a second to look at him, she delighted at how flushed he was, and sucked on her finger for a moment before putting it up to his lips and letting him draw it into his mouth, swirling around the tip with his tongue like she’d soon be doing with him.

Tianna, Mal,” she murmured against his skin and let her other hand slide down low and curl around him, beginning to slowly stroke. She felt intoxicated at how alive he was, at how incredibly lucky she was, and slid her tongue down his belly, skirting the edges of his bandage, until she could take him in her mouth and nip at the ridge.

Wo detain! How am I not supposed to move?” Mal rasped, and Inara smiled around his length as she looked up and met his eyes, knowing how much he loved to see her like this.

She placed a hand firmly against his chest, directly above his heart, and had to struggle not to let the emotion overwhelm her as she felt his heartbeat thump rapidly against his ribcage. She’d been taught since a child how to give of herself, but none of it felt like enough with this man. She craved him inside her like an addict craved drops and knew he could see how much she wanted him.

“I love you,” he said, eyes dark and breath ragged as she brought him further and further to the edge, and just like that, it clicked into place.

She wanted everything with this man. She’d been waffling for days over what Zoë had said - about lost opportunities - and suddenly her own reluctance to continue taking the shots that prevented pregnancy solidified into something far more tangible. She wanted to someday bear Mal’s children with a hunger that shocked and nearly overwhelmed her.

As Mal’s eyes rolled up in his head in ecstasy, Inara hungered to take him inside her, for the first time in her life, with the possibility that she might get pregnant. Just the thought of it made her tighten in anticipation.

She swallowed hard as Mal groaned in rapture, keeping him in her mouth long after he’d stopped shuddering. Breathless and sweaty, Mal tilted his head forward to look down at her, lips quirked in a satisfied grin.

She sat up, still straddling his legs, and began to undo her corset with one hand as she reached down to touch herself with the other. Immediately Mal began to stir, eyes wide.

“The term ‘fellatio’ covers a lot of ground, Mal. We’re just getting started,” she murmured and gasped in pleasure at her own fingers before giving him a scorching look. “Just think, the more you cooperate, the sooner we do more,” she said, letting her body sway over his thighs as her words sunk in.

Inara sighed with satisfaction, pleased that Mal would be trying a lot harder now to get rested up, she figured he would be good for at least two or three more rounds this afternoon alone. This was a road to recovery she could get on board with, and it was definitely safer for Mal than drugs.

*****************************************


Zoë slowed her approach to Mal’s room at the sight of Simon perched on a chair just outside the doorway. He wore an expression of stunned bewilderment. Setting aside the captain’s dinner tray, Zoë walked silently up to stand behind him and see what the doctor was so entranced watching.

“You’re looking a little lost, there,” Zoë commented, startling Simon so completely he nearly fell out of his chair.

She glanced in the room to see what he’d been looking at, and smiled at the sight of River sitting on the side of Mal’s bed with her chin resting on her knees as she stared intently at a chessboard set between them. She was still wearing her nightshirt, and had pulled it around her legs like a tent. Mal was propped up with pillows, looking as relaxed and cheerful as she’d seen in a long time, and watching as River’s fingers danced from chess piece to chess piece. Her eyes would dart up to glare at Mal for a second before switching to another piece, then pausing and glaring again. Clearly a lot more was going on than was readily apparent.

“Could you, uh, I don’t know, cough or something when you’re coming down the hallway?” Simon asked as he regained his composure. Zoë gave him a wide grin and didn’t reply. He sighed. “No, I didn’t think so,” he replied.

“I don’t think you’d have noticed, anyway,” she observed. Simon smirked and shook his head wryly.

“You’re probably right,” he conceded.

“You’re cheating!” River’s voice rang out. Simon was about to stand up, but Zoë put a hand on his shoulder and shook her head.

“Now, darlin’, the fact that you’re accusin’ me of cheatin’ seems a bit ironic ‘n all, considerin' the only way you’d even think such a thing would be if you was tryin’ to read my brain,” Mal replied in an accent so heavy it nearly dripped.

River harrumphed and stuck her tongue out at Mal, then reached out and moved her knight, taking one of Mal’s pawns. He chuckled and settled in to figure his next move as Zoë pulled Simon further into the hallway so Mal and River wouldn’t hear their conversation.

“I didn’t even know he played chess,” Simon said.

“The Captain’s a lot more learned than he’d like you to believe,” Zoë replied.

“I can’t last more than fifteen minutes with her,” he continued, and Zoë laughed softly as the full implications of Simon’s bewilderment revealed itself.

“How long have they been playing?” she asked.

“Two and a half hours,” Simon replied.

“It does look like she’s winning,” Zoë offered, and Simon’s eyes registered surprise at her as well before he shook his head ruefully and smiled.

“I should have known better,” he said. “Truthfully, I’ve been sitting out here watching the two of them play and realizing just how much I don’t know about the Captain. River’s brilliant at chess. One of dad’s friends was a chess master, back on Osiris, and even he only lasted about an hour with her,” Simon said and turned to Zoë with questioning eyes.

“If you’re asking if it’s a fluke, it isn’t,” she replied and decided the Captain’s dinner could wait a few minutes. “The man’s naturally gifted at strategy.” Simon winced as he caught on to what Zoë was implying.

“I didn’t mean…” Simon began to say, looking desperately uncomfortable at her clear reference to Miranda. They’d seen on the cortex just a few weeks ago that the ‘Miranda incident’, as everyone had taken to calling it, had destroyed nearly three quarters of the Alliance’s Circinus Fleet.

“I know you didn’t. That’s not what I’m saying. That man’s got a mind for war that puts even those officers that got their learning from the highest caliber military academies to shame,” she said with a shake of the head at the memories. It had brought Mal no end of trouble that he could run rings around his superiors, and his natural ability at guerilla warfare had taken them both into some pretty dicey places.

“Then why do all the jobs he plans out seem to go wrong?” Simon blurted out, then looked mortified to have done so. Zoë nodded and went to pick up the Captain’s dinner tray. Simon shrunk in his seat, clearly about to apologize, but Zoë shook her head, and she knew he’d realized she wasn’t angry.

“A great strategist knows that there are always risks; that the troops he sends to battle stand a good chance of dying. The Captain’s done with ‘acceptable risks’ for everyone but himself,” she explained and waited a moment as her words sunk in. Balancing the tray in one hand, she gave Simon’s shoulder one last squeeze and walked inside. She’d certainly left him some things to think on.

“Yum!” River greeted Zoë by saying, then quickly returned her concentration back to the chess board.

“I hear you took a nice long nap today, Captain,” Zoë said as she placed the tray on the nightstand next to Mal and loved the bright red color he turned as he scowled at her.

“Yeah, you and the whole gorram planet,” Mal grumbled.

“I’m thinking those ‘wiles’ can be mighty…” Zoë began.

Bizui, woman!” Mal said, and Zoë chuckled. “Does Abigail think I grew an extra stomach while I was sleeping?” he asked as he stared at the tray Zoë had brought. It was practically overflowing with stew, steamed vegetables, fruits and breads.

“She’s thinking with all that activity, you’re bound to have an increased appetite as well,” Zoë replied blandly and Mal groaned.

“You’re all fired,” he grumbled, his cheeks still tinged pink, and pointedly ignored her as he reached for a roll with a lot less hesitancy than he had even a few days ago. Warmed, Zoë turned to leave and noticed River move one of Mal’s chess pieces while he was spreading jam on his dinner roll.

“I saw that, Albatross!” he said, and River quickly returned Mal’s piece to its proper place and giggled, eyes wide with surprise.

Zoë smiled warmly at her as she left the room, and winked at Simon, nearly causing him to fall off his chair again as she headed back down the hallway and towards Abigail’s kitchen and her own dinner. It had been a good day.

************************************



Translations:
Tianna – Oh God (exclamation)
Wo detain- Dear God in Heaven
Bizui – Shut up

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