ultra_fic: (Christmas Tree)
ultra_fic ([personal profile] ultra_fic) wrote on December 4th, 2014 at 12:36 pm
Merry Christmas, [livejournal.com profile] xfirefly9x!

[livejournal.com profile] xfirefly9x - We may not know each other very well yet, but I'm sure we shall in time. Not sure if this fic is entirely what you had in mind when you gave me the prompt, but I hope you like it anyway :)

Title: Us and Them
Fandom(s): Firefly
Prompt: crossing paths with the Alliance
Timeline: sometime post-BDM
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Any and all recognisable characters do not belong to me.

“This somethin’ like what you had in mind?” asked Mal with a smirk he couldn’t help as he assisted Inara with her chair.

“It’s certainly different to your usual choice of establishment,” she commented with a genuine smile as she looked around at the other patrons of the restaurant.

This place was most definitely what one might call high-end, and no doubt the prices were ten times what any normal person could afford. Inara would love to be suspicious about how exactly Mal was paying for this rather expensive dinner date, but that was a conversation that would wait for another time. He had made an effort which was all she had wanted. Complaining about it seemed unfair, tonight of all nights.

“Waiter?” Mal summoned the man to the table.

Inara watched with curiosity and amusement as the Captain muttered to the server, handed over a couple of bills, and tipped a wink. This night was getting stranger by the minute, but still she would bite her lip and let it go. It was their anniversary after all, and if Mal wanted to spoil her, Inara didn’t like to argue. Still, she was a little concerned by all the money being spent.

“You know, Mal, I appreciate the effort, more than you know,” she said, sipping her water. “But really, I know your situation and it is not at all affluent...”

“Hey, just you let me be concernin’ myself with my own coin, dong ma?” he told her sternly, though he was smiling again in a second. “Did I tell you yet how amazing you look, ‘Nara?”

“You didn’t actually.”

“Well, I’m tellin’ ya now. Most beautiful woman I ever did see any day in time, but tonight? Fair took my breath away when you stepped outta that shuttle looking like you do.”

“Thank you, Mal,” she smiled, putting her hand over his on the table.

She was almost blushing at the compliment. He was still the only one who could cause that in her.

Theirs was to be a romantic evening, no doubt about it, as it should be on such a date. Mal wasn’t much for keeping to the conventions of anniversaries. You loved a person, to his mind that ought to be every day. Gifts weren’t for specified times, just for when you felt like buying ‘em. Still, it meant something to Inara to be treated extra special on such an occasion, and Mal would do just about anything to make her happy these days.

Of course, the one thing guaranteed to upset that smile on his lover’s pretty face was sat right across the room. Mal had clocked them on the way in and hoped against hope that they hadn’t noticed him just the same. He never was all that inconspicuous, always insisting on a brown coat whenever he could get away with wearing one. Besides, enough folks knew his face these days, his name, his reputation. Them that didn’t know him sure knew Inara, especially in this kind of place. One wrong move, they got themselves spotted, and there was bound to be trouble. In spite of everything that had gone before, the Alliance was still strong, and they never did pull punches.

Mal and Inara ordered their food and shared the usual animated conversation. It was hard for him to keep his eyes from straying to the right on a semi-regular basis, but it didn’t seem as if Inara noticed. Mal ought to have known better, ought to have counted on her being smarter than that. Between courses she leaned in closer, hand closing over his on the table one more time as she looked deep into his eyes. He expected sweet nothings or plans for later when they got back to the ship. It wasn’t what he got.

“After all these years, you’re still underestimating me, Captain Reynolds,” she told him, playing the part of a besotted lover even as her words betrayed her.

“Underestimate you, ‘Nara? As if I ever would,” he smiled, matching her tone and looks as he realised she had been watching him watching them this entire time. “You recognise ‘em at all?”

“No, they can’t be of consequential rank or birth,” she said, still grinning as she brought her free hand to his cheek, continuing with their semi-charade. “Or they’re just so work orientated they’ve never been out in public much before.”

“It bother you to leave before dessert?” he checked, kissing her palm.

“If it means the difference between getting arrested and not, I think I can stand to go without the delicacies of a restaurant you can already ill afford.”

That decision made, the couple shared a further smile and got up from their seats. Inara cast her eyes to her left and tried to seem natural when she caught the Alliance men staring. There was every chance they were just admiring her as many a man had in the past. At the same time, it could be that she and Mal had been identified. Taking chances was a fool’s game.

Mal offered his arm to Inara and she willingly took it. They passed by the desk to settle up their bill and were then quick to make for the exit, still trying to appear as if they were leaving only because their passion had overtaken them and nothing else. It seemed to work, they made it outside into the courtyard, but that was just as far as they got.

“Excuse me, Miss?”

Inara and Mal winced in perfect unison at the sound of those words, stopping walking on the very same step. Inara squeezed Mal’s arm and then turned around in one fluid and graceful movement, a pretty smile on her lips.

“Can I help you?” she asked the Alliance man, grateful that Mal seemed to understand she would rather he kept his back to the stranger for now.

“Oh, no,” the other man seemed to blush as he bumbled towards her. “No, I wish to help you. I believe you dropped this inside,” he told her, holding out a jewelled clip that Inara recognised.

Her hand went to her hair and she realised it really was hers.

“Sheh-sheh,” she said politely, nodding once as he placed the clip in her hand. “Could you help me, bao bei?” she asked Mal then, moving in front of him so he could refasten the piece into her hair. “Thank you,” she said as soon as he was done, leaning up to kiss him.

As she clung to him, she peered over Mal’s shoulder, noting that the embarrassed little Alliance man had already backed off, heading inside without so much as another word.

“He’s gone,” she whispered to Mal. “I think we might actually have stayed for dessert after all,” she sighed then.

“Really? Well, can’t say as I’m sorry to be takin’ you home early,” he told her.

“Is that so?” said Inara leaning in closer again. “You mean to say you have further plans for our evening, Captain Reynolds?”

“I mean to say,” he agreed, before capturing her lips beneath his own.

They walked away from the restaurant then without a backwards glance, whilst inside the Alliance men received a complimentary bottle of the finest wine the Core had to offer. After that they ought to get awful sleepy and much sooner than mere alcohol could cause. Mal wasn’t leaving anything to chance, not tonight.

 
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