Title: Devotion in the Details

Author: Secret-Agent-Omega

Category: Romance

Rating: T.

Pairing: Mal/Inara.

Location on Firefly Universe Timeline: Sometime after the events of the BDM.

Spoilers: Nothing terribly plot-related.

Summary: Inara contemplates the changes in Mal's behavior.

Disclaimer: The people, places, and plentiful paraphernalia you know and love/hate are the property of their respective owners, namely Joss Whedon, his associates, and any groups which control or are controlled by said individuals. No profit is made by the author of this work of fiction from the creation or distribution of said work, nor is any infringement intended. Plagiarism is considered a serious criminal offense, and punishable by law. Please ask before redistributing this work.

Length without header: 1 page(s) at 12-point Times New Roman font; 369 words; 2,065 characters including spaces.

Feedback: Some authors don't care about feedback. I am not one of those authors. Giving feedback tells me that you took the time to read it and cared enough to comment on it. Receiving feedback is a wonderful thing, and every author should experience it.

Notes: I wrote this fanficlet on my shiny new Sidekick 3, then e-mailed it to myself, added a header, and uploaded it. Isn't technology wonderful?

Devotion in the Details

By Secret-Agent-Omega

He isn't a man who shows his affections openly; she knows this from experience.

For the longest time after she came aboard, ignorant of his past and seeing nothing but half-smirks, she thought him incapable of truly smiling; after learning of Serenity Valley – and all it represented to him – she couldn't blame him for forgetting how.

There were rare moments though, when he awkwardly returned Kaylee's hugs, and later, when he fatherly tousled River's hair, that she caught glimpses of the man he was before he lost his faith.

They caught her off-guard, and she made jokes that he was going soft, but secretly she envied the recipients, for he was always so guarded with her.

It is because of this restraint with his emotions that she finds his demonstrations so touching.

No matter where they are, his hand always seems to find hers. He never seeks possession; only wishing to affirm that whatever may come, he is there for her.

When she is upset, he holds her. Not in the brotherly fashion he reserves for Kaylee, but a quietly passionate embrace; a gesture of reassurance that soothes her with its gentle intensity.

When he must leave on a job, he presses a kiss to her hair. He inhales her scent, as though to remind himself of what he leaves behind, then meets her bottomless eyes with his own; a silent promise that no matter what, he will return to her.

When the job is over and his promise is kept, he does not kiss her immediately. Instead, he simply touches his forehead to hers; eyes closed, noses brushing, he tells her wordlessly how much he has missed her.

Every time they make love, he holds out for her. As though in apology for all those who once hired her for their own gratification, he insists that her pleasure come first; only through her satisfaction can he find his own.

These details mean the world to her, but one stands out above the rest.

In his eyes, she used to see such terrible emptiness: longing, sorrow, and resentment for making him feel at all.

Now, she sees only fulfillment: love, trust, and his eternal thanks for making him whole.