Firefly/Serenity, Post-BDM, Inara
Title borrowed from my favorite Nikka Costa song. Characters property of Twentieth Century Fox, corporate embodiment of the anti-Christ, and Joss Whedon, my everyday lord and master.
Discipline only carries you so far, lies are never good enough to truly fool yourself, and pride goeth before a fall. She's never been trained for this.
He storms from the shuttle, anger hardening his features even as pride holds his head high, and her eyes follow where she cannot.
The air swirls around her before closing in, turbulent even in his absence – charged, electric particles that have lost their conductor. There has always been an energy about him, humming on a frequency separate from the fierce current of his intensity - the quiet of an observer among all his bluster, an aura between him and the universe that bordered on awe.
She's never met a man quite like him. And never will again, she knows. There isn't another in creation so determined to prove that he has nothing to prove. To face off with faith at fifty paces, snuff its life away with aim too true, only to lay it to rest deep within himself – buried deep beneath his skin, where it took root in his blood and branched into his veins, until Zoe was planted behind his eyes and River blossomed in his bones and Kaylee sprouted from his very fingertips.
Space for them all, blooming from Serenity itself... but she grew on the outside, sowed against his will, and cannot not flourish as a weed. And he's been clawing at the dirt for as long as she can remember, eroding every inch where she’d found any purchase.
The battles have been too many to count. The stealth attacks, the impasses, wars with words that never end in white flags.
Such rails against his authority held a strange thrill for him – she could spot it in the tilt of his head, see it in the square of his shoulders whenever she voiced a complaint or laced his self-appointed title with disdain. In all her training, after all, she had never been a soldier, a fact he reveled in pointing out whenever possible. She hadn’t seen the things he had survived, hadn’t been there when the shadows crept into his eyes to live and breathe and rage against her light. But perhaps their downfall lies in the trenches of her own past – built of flawless facades, hollowed from other men’s beds. The best were unflinching, unwavering, unfeeling – and she was the best. Yet here she was, fumbling, faltering, feeling far too much. And in all her training, she had never been taught how to stop.
Regardless of reasoning, they could not continue this way. Lying came as easily as breathing… but she's lied to herself for far too long.
His tongue is a sharp edge that cuts at her psyche like a razor, and her hands are too smooth to hold on without him slipping away. There would be no victor here, only unceasing bloodshed and wounds too raw to heal. And all the while the chasm between them would grow, widen, splinter deeper, echoing with his denial and her desperation.
He cannot bow, and she cannot stoop, and there will never be ground level enough to bring them eye-to-eye.
So she’s packing again – pushing through his presence in the air and his voice in her ears and the lingering urge to stop – gathering all that is hers, leaving nothing behind. Not this time.
And she’s saying goodbye, silently – to the shuttle that was never fully hers, to the ship she loves, to the man who might have been both – leaving no opportunity for objection, for words to the contrary, for a plea that will never come.
This time, she cries.