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03 January 2006 @ 07:35 am
[fic] Mechanic's Waltz 1/1 (Firefly; Kaylee/Inara, PG-13)  
Author's Notes: Wow, this is my very first Firefly fic. Femslash, at that! Non-graphic, possibly pre-slash femslash, but femslash none the less. ^_^;;; This story was written as a Christmas present for the ever wonderful and amazing likethesun2, who has an amazing Zoe fic you should definitely read. I'm serious. My own humble offering is Kaylee/Inara, with slight spoilers for "Shindig". I can't thank you enough for taking the time to read this, and I hope it doesn't disappoint. ^_^


===========================
Mechanic's Waltz 1/1
by Meredith Bronwen Mallory
mallorys-girl@cinci.rr.com
http://www.demando.net

===========================



Kaylee Fry has never been one to make plans-- Inara supposes its not in her nature. It seems to her as if the younger girl opens her eyes each day untouched by past or expectations of the future; she swings down from her hammock, moving always within the womb of her beloved Serenity, and her thoughts are solely for the present. It's a quality that both confounds and intrigues the Companion, touching something inside her that is not quite envy. A customer once told Inara that she was a 'very singular woman', and that is how she thinks of her friend. The mechanic is singular, she moves with earthly grace to fix the quadra-router, to play marbles with River, or kiss the Captain's cheek. Once, in a rare moment of insight and inebriation, Malcolm told her that Kaylee was everyone's little sister. Sitting in the smokey scarlet shadows of a backwater beer-hole, Inara had not bothered to correct him. Instead, she smiled, much as she always does. A smile that says, 'I'm listening', but does not say 'I agree'.

Inara doesn't take many female clients, but she has known Companions who do. Her line of work always requires a certain amount of artifice, light and shadow arranged to suit a impressionist painting, suggesting to the viewer what it is they want to see. There will always be artifice in her profession, but she feels significantly less when her clients are women, when they laugh and talk quietly before moving hands to shapes that mirror and embrace. When she looks in the mirror, Inara sees herself as she wishes others to perceive her. Though she remembers being young and seeing just a girlish face, round and misty with youth, the memory feels divorced somehow-- not her own. In some ways, Malcolm is right; she has been in this profession far too long. But this is a dance she's familiar with, as comforting and elegant as courtesans at a ball. On Persephone, she moved on Atherton's arm, a breathless arch of motion, never flinching even as she came to chip away at the varnish on his pretty words. Kaylee didn't dance, she noticed, and that's something else that makes Inara pause. She holds the image of Kaylee laughing, surrounded by ruffles, with strawberry in hand, as if it is a holo-shot. No one's face is as unguarded as Kaylee's, freckles, blush and all. Only her young friend would blossom on the wall, talking shop with a bevy of enthusiastic nobles. The thought brings a smile to Inara's lips and, so lost in the memory is she that, when music comes to caress her ears, she believes it is also of her mind.

It isn't-- the delicate strains of piano, cello and violin echo up through Serenity's comforting shell, all the easier to hear, as most of the crew is in bed. Turning, Inara lifts the amber folds of her gown, moving down to where Kaylee's endearing scrawl claims her territory with glitter and painted hearts.
"Kaylee?" she asks softly, even as she takes the ladder, one rung at a time.
The mechanic smiles brightly, loose twin buns bobbing with the movement of her head. "Hey, 'Nara." The younger woman is sitting her bunk, heavy-heeled boots tapping gently to the music, endless ruffles of her dress displayed like some priceless painting on the opposite wall. Wiping her hands on her coveralls, Kaylee fingers the lace reverently, lips tilting slightly. "That was such a nice party, wasn't it?" After a moment, she frowns. "Until the punching and fighting and challenging to a duel part."
"It was lovely," Inara agrees. "I'm so glad you had a good time. I didn't see you dance though," she winked, teasing gently, "was the buffet table too tempting?"
"Oh yeah!" Kaylee bounces a little, licking her lips in remembrance. "Everything was real, you know-- strawberries and apples and _chocolate_...I've never had food like that." Kaylee's eyes return to the dress for a moment, before she looks down at her wide, capable hands with a small shrug. "Plus, the dances were all so complicated-- I was s'prised when the Captain knew how to lead you about like that." A little grin, flushing coral pink, "You looked so handsome together."

Inara nods, thinking that she moves in practiced patterns with the Captain for the same reason she does with any other man-- because that's the way it's done. On or off the dance-floor. For a moment, it feels as if she's wearing a heavy mask, a china-doll face with painted lips that won't let her say the words she needs. Then, slowly, she lifts a manicured hand, and holds it out to Kaylee, soft palm cupped to offer.
"I can teach you, if you like." Kaylee's smile is bright, so bright, but at the same time like the comforting glow of her mother's sewing lamp oh so long ago. Kaylee's hands are soft as the quilts Inara once gathered around her shoulders to keep out the cold, listening to stories of elegant ladies and poised princesses.
"Oh, yes-- please." The young mechanic shifts from foot to foot, a little hesitant. For a moment, they stand there, smiling at each other, almost shy.

Then Inara comes forward-- puts her arm around Kaylee and her hand on the other girl's waist, to lead her in a dance.

#(#)#(#)#(#)#(#)#(#)#(#)#


Feedback makes me a shiny, happy person. *puppy eyes*
 
 
Emotional Temperature: anxiousanxious
The Band Plays:: "Without Reason"-- by the Fray
 
 
 
Silke: kayleejimaine42 on January 3rd, 2006 12:51 pm (UTC)
*sigh* this is lovely. Your take on Kaylee and Inara is perfect and I'm not just saying this because I adore everything you write:-) I'd like to read more...anything with Kaylee in it...Kaylee dipped in chocolate with strawberries (*scrubs brainpan*)
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: notafraidgarnettrees on January 7th, 2006 05:29 am (UTC)
*tackles* You always make me blush so, Jimaine! I had no idea you were into Firefly, too, but it's awesome to see you the same fandom again, and I completely agree with you on Kaylee's deliciousness. ^__^

I'm so glad you enjoyed the story!
-Meredith
agent_rouka: Red Bathing Beauty FFagent_rouka on January 3rd, 2006 12:58 pm (UTC)
Oh so pretty!

The mechanic is singular, she moves with earthly grace to fix the quadra-router, to play marbles with River, or kiss the Captain's cheek.

That's Kaylee right there. She's earth, unembarrassed and solid and fruitful. Such a lovely, quiet, sad look at her through the eyes of Inara's many layers. And what a beautiful reflection of Inara, too.

You really hit on what it is that draws them to each other!
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: ayutwicegarnettrees on January 7th, 2006 05:31 am (UTC)
*stares for a moment and Agent's icon* Pretty...

Ahem. ^_^;; Thank you so much for your kind words. I was a little uncertain of my Inara voice, so I'm glad you think it sounded good. Kaylee really is very earthy, and that's one of the things that draws me to her character.

Thanks for commenting!
-Meredith
Amberminttown1 on January 3rd, 2006 01:03 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow, this is so beautiful. There's so much to love about it: the way you write about Inara's profession, the way you write about Kaylee's childlike quality, the way you write about the ship itself and capture that their world is the real one tweaked. I'm always impressed when anyone can write in a science fiction universe and make that feel like what's real, and you've done that there. It's lovely.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: pmsgarnettrees on January 7th, 2006 05:33 am (UTC)
I'm always impressed when anyone can write in a science fiction universe and make that feel like what's real, and you've done that there.
Wow, that's a high compliment, Amber. *blushes* I think a lot of that this the feel I get from Joss' sets-- Serenity herself seems like a real ship to me, almost. That helps a lot. I'm so glad you enjoyed the story!
-Meredith
lyrstzha: Fireflylyrstzha on January 3rd, 2006 01:36 pm (UTC)
I especially liked the sweetness that lingered everywhere in this. The characterizations were engaging and intriguing, especially Kaylee's. Also, much of your language was lovely and vivd. This I especially liked: A smile that says, 'I'm listening', but does not say 'I agree'.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: love2garnettrees on January 7th, 2006 05:34 am (UTC)
This I especially liked: A smile that says, 'I'm listening', but does not say 'I agree'.
I'm glad that made sense-- I love that expression Inara gets sometimes. Very diplomatic, in a way. I'm so glad you liked this piece, and even more glad you commented!
-Meredith
Nebula: Inara 'elegant'authoressnebula on January 3rd, 2006 01:39 pm (UTC)
Oh oh lovely sweetie. Absolutely wonderful. *happy sigh* I could so see this happening now. Loved the back story on Inara!!

*snuggles*

~Nebula
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: love1garnettrees on January 7th, 2006 05:35 am (UTC)
*snuggles her 'lambykins'*

Inara's backstory sort of wrote itself, but I'm glad it made sense to you. Getting praise from you always makes me shiny. ^__^
-Meredith
Lyra: shiny--by bargainingwatergal on January 3rd, 2006 01:56 pm (UTC)
Oh, very pretty. I like seeing what chord Kaylee touches in Inara
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: ayugarnettrees on January 7th, 2006 05:36 am (UTC)
*grins* Thanks. Pretty is good. ^__^
-Meredith
Lissa: writing procrastinationmoontyger on January 3rd, 2006 02:32 pm (UTC)
This is really lovely. It feels very real, like something that could happen.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: frozengarnettrees on January 7th, 2006 05:37 am (UTC)
That's one of the best compliments any writer can receive. Thank you!
-Meredith
bouncykeira: Love as thou wiltbouncykeira on January 3rd, 2006 06:43 pm (UTC)
that was lovely :) I loved how you conveyed both ladies' personalities, I can see this happening.
Meredith Bronwen Mallorygarnettrees on January 7th, 2006 05:38 am (UTC)
*blush* Inara was a little hard to write, so I'm glad you didn't think she was OOC. ^__^ Thanks for commenting!
-Meredith
jarrow: pourjarrow on January 3rd, 2006 08:33 pm (UTC)
This is well done. Kaylee/Inara has been my Firefly OTP from the start, and this is beautiful evidence why. Thank you for sharing this with us.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: togethergarnettrees on January 7th, 2006 05:39 am (UTC)
*giggles madly at Jarrow's icon* That's the best!

Kaylee/Inara has been my Firefly OTP from the start
I know exactly what you mean! They had me from the "Hey, you". ^__^ I'm so glad you liked this, and I can't thank you enough for commenting!
-Meredith
jarrow: bunkjarrow on January 7th, 2006 05:46 am (UTC)
YES. That "Hey you" establishes right away that they're madly in love and have a wildly erotic sexual history. Intonation is everything. I have friends who will call me just to say, "okay, I just started Firefly fifteen minutes ago, and are Kaylee and Inara doing it?" Fabulous.
srichard on January 4th, 2006 06:44 am (UTC)
Mmm, that's very pretty and suits the two of them so well.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: lily2garnettrees on January 7th, 2006 05:40 am (UTC)
*grins* Thank you.
-Meredith
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical: older Cordeliahermionesviolin on January 4th, 2006 09:56 pm (UTC)
Her line of work always requires a certain amount of artifice, light and shadow arranged to suit a impressionist painting, suggesting to the viewer what it is they want to see.

Mmm, interesting. (Nitpick: "Impressionist" should be capitalized.)

Inara nods, thinking that she moves in practiced patterns with the Captain for the same reason she does with any other man-- because that's the way it's done. On or off the dance-floor. For a moment, it feels as if she's wearing a heavy mask, a china-doll face with painted lips that won't let her say the words she needs.

This is also really interesting. I completely know that feeling of feeling unable to say what one wants/needs to. And what an insight into Inara's relationship with Mal. All through, the idea that Inara is somewhat unhappy with her chosen profession is an interesting one I don't see too often, since in the series she so defends the profession generally and her choice of it specifically. Oh, and I love the point about Kaylee not dancing in "Shindig," expanding the metaphor about dancing.

You do a great job of showing why Inara would be attracted to Kaylee, and you also have a lot of interesting ideas about Inara and her relationships with other people.

One formatting comment: Having line breaks rather than paragraph breaks for the dialogue sections is a bit off-putting.
Casandrajeepy91 on January 5th, 2006 06:49 am (UTC)
Such a profound and honest look at Kaylee from Inara's perspective. Loved the detail and especially the analogies you used to tell the story. Very intricate and yet very simply painting a beautiful picture to get the story across. Very nicely done. :)
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: ayufuturegarnettrees on January 7th, 2006 05:46 am (UTC)
Thanks for the pointers, Elizabeth. I'll be sure to fix them up before I post this story elsewhere. ^__^

This is also really interesting. I completely know that feeling of feeling unable to say what one wants/needs to.
That's a theme I seem to return to again and again-- the limitations of language. I'm glad its something others can relate to.

All through, the idea that Inara is somewhat unhappy with her chosen profession is an interesting one I don't see too often, since in the series she so defends the profession generally and her choice of it specifically.
I think Inara's dissatisfaction is a little more diffuse than that-- because she's good at being a Companion, and it's obvious she enjoys it, for the most part. I think she's enjoys being able to help and connect with people. However, her interactions with Atherton in "Shindig", and her comments to the Senator in "War Stories" seem, to me, to indicate that she does in some way chafe under her masks, or is at least uncertain of who she would be without artifice. Maybe I'm reading too much into things, but I've always seen a bit of sadness in her serenity.

I wanted to see Kaylee dance, and this fic grew out of that. I'm glad you enjoyed this piece, and I really liked being about to read your comments-- they got me thinking.

Take care!
-Meredith
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical: older Cordeliahermionesviolin on January 7th, 2006 08:30 pm (UTC)
Ah, that is a good point, that Inara definitely isn't always entirely comfortable with her masks, and that's a really interesting idea that she might be "uncertain of who she would be without artifice."
Alice: inara/kayleebeerbad on January 6th, 2006 10:48 pm (UTC)
Cute! :) You should write more.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: katiegarnettrees on January 7th, 2006 05:47 am (UTC)
*blush* I'm glad you think so!
-Meredith
S A R A H: #5theagonyofblank on January 12th, 2006 03:39 am (UTC)
I thought this was very cute. ^^ I liked it a lot.