Only For You

Prompt: #027 Dying just for you

Notes: Written for 30angsts

Mal stomped over to Inara in the cargo bay and glared at her with an icy blue stare intense enough to freeze anyone in their tracks. His hands were glued to his hips and it was blatantly obvious that something was wrong. Terribly wrong. Inara didn't need her Companion training to know that.

"What the guay did you do that for?" Mal demanded, angrily.

Inara eyed him warily and worded her answer very carefully. "I don't know what you're talking about, Mal," she told him steadily. She held his gaze and refused to let him intimidate her.

"You know full well what I mean!" Mal argued. "You could've been killed out there!"

"Mal! It's my life! It's not your decision what I do with it!" Inara scowled. She finally broke eye contact and focused fixedly on the dirty patch on Mal's jacket, just above the left pocket.

"Why do you care so much, anyway?" she asked. "And don't tell me it's because I'm 'on your crew'. Zoe, Jayne and even Simon and River are on the crew and you've never acted this way when they've willingly put their lives on the line. Just tell me. I'm a big girl."

Mal shook his head angrily and began restlessly pacing the cargo bay. "I don't want you out in the way of trouble, is all," he finally admitted, some of the anger leaving his voice. "In the case that something happened to you, it'd be the end of me…"

Inara looked back up at him. She studied his expression for a moment before realisation dawned on her. Mal had just inadvertently confessed what he felt for her. Finally.

"You really mean that?" Inara asked, wanting confirmation just in case she had read him wrong.

"Every word. I'd die for anyone on this boat, but none so much as you."

"Why, Mal. Is it remotely possible that you're being a gentleman for once?" Inara teased lightly.

"Funny," Mal retorted, a reluctant smile forming. He cocked his head to the side thoughtfully as if considering her question required a lot more energy than it actually did. "You think I can't be gentlemanly?" he asked, daringly. A sharp intenseness twinkled in his eyes.

Inara grinned at Mal's change in mood and shot him a look that suggested that he was as far from gentlemanly as humanly possible. "Let's just say I've met a lot of men…" Inara told him cryptically. She turned to walk away, planning on leaving him with that statement fresh in his mind.

"Right," Mal sighed, his face dropping slightly. "Nice to know you hold such high regard for me."

Inara stopped dead in her tracks and spun back around to face the gloomy captain. "Mal. I regard you higher than any other man I've met in my life. You just don't fit under the 'gentleman' category so much."

Noticing his offended looked, she hurriedly added, "not that you can't be a gentleman at times."

"Thanks," Mal replied stonily, clearly not believing a word she'd said. "I'm off now. Captainy things to do," he excused himself, wanting to be as far away from the Companion as physically and mentally possible.

Inara watched his retreating back sympathetically, wishing that he could find peace again. Since Miranda, things had been tense, especially when it came to him. It was complicated.

Complications or not, when Mal solemnly brushed a hand through his hair Inara found herself unable to let him go. "Wait!" she called, pacing over to join him as he glanced back at her questioningly. Before he had a chance to react, she placed her hands on his shoulders and leaned up, touching her lips to his.

She kissed him softly, only breaking away when he didn't respond.

Mal stood frozen in place, completely at a loss. His mouth dropped open in silent confused and he brought his hand up to his face, brushing his lips where Inara had just kissed him. He'd seen a lot of things in his time in the 'verse, but nothing topped off this.

Turning his gaze on Inara, Mal stared fixedly at her demanding an explanation with his eyes. When none came, he did the first thing that came to mind. He stormed off to his bunk, leaving Inara to stare sadly after him.