Author's Note: I've only seen up through Disc 3 of this wonderful series. So, that's how far canon has gotten in these drabbles.When I get past that point, I'll let you know.

These are for icedragonchilde, since it's her fault for encouraging me to watch and write Firefly fic. Don't worry, love, there will be more, these are just a warm-up. :)


Degrees of Honor

Mal doesn't like Inara. He will swear to the day he dies (aboard Serenity, with any luck) that he does not like that woman. It is one thing to have sex as you please (he just has to remind himself of how he met Kaylee to reaffirm this) but it is another to be paid for it. Companions are a creation of the Alliance, and since the Alliance is the epitome of human worthlessness, it doesn't seem like much of a logic jump to Mal.

Inara, however, constantly disagrees.

"If my profession bothers you so much, Mal, then why did you rent me the shuttle?" She levels at him.

"The extra opportunity," He levels back, the answer so ready on his tongue he says it before she's done speaking.

She crosses her arms, and Mal recognizes battle. "You call me a whore to my face, yet defend my honor in a swordfight, which you swear Companions hold none of."

"'Course not," He scoffs. "They don't." She raises an eyebrow. "Most of them." His mind recalls a particularly well trained one that nearly did in all of them. "Especially redheads."

"You still have not explained why we haven't hit anything other than backwater moons without clientele in weeks." She leans in, and he catches a whiff of something somewhere between incense, tea, and skin. "Are you trying to sabotage me, Mal?"

Sabotage, well. "That may be too strong of a word."

She looks just as lovely when she's surprised, Mal thinks before he catches himself or the full implication of his words. "Are you trying to keep me away from clientele?" She pushes out from between her teeth. "Do you want me off your ship that much?"

Oh, gorramit, that wasn't what he meant at all. "Just keepin' to honest work, that's all. You should try it sometime."

Inara laughs. In his face. "Honest work?" She shakes her head, limit reached. "Get out." She points to the door with one slender, meticulously manicured fingernail.

Well, Mal thinks, I don't like you much anyway. Even if you smell like all of Serenity Valley blooming. "Shiny, just shiny." He raises his hands in mock defeat and backs out the door. "At least I didn't call you a whore this time," He tells her as he shuts the door, leaving her fuming in her den.

The next day Wash sets a course to a planet with a decent settlement, and Inara thanks Mal as they clear off the table after dinner. He grunts something about wanting to get rid of her for a few weeks, but she smiles at him anyway. There's been something bothering him about their argument, even since he realized he couldn't give her an honest answer about why they were avoiding big settlements. Of course, she interacted with the crew more when they were this far out; hell, even River seemed to like her, wandering into the shuttle whenever Inara let her. It was just nice to see her acting like a human being, that was all. Not that Mal likes the extra company, no, or dislikes the thought of her doing work.

His hand wanders down to the scar on his side from the sword–point, splayed out and reminding him that his gut instincts toward the woman don't show his dislike at all. He has his honor, and he supposes she has hers.

That doesn't mean he has to like her.