Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Just play with 'em on occasion.
Summary: Sequel of sorts to "Blaze of Glory" for the kind folks who asked so nicely for a little more. Mal and Inara decide to tell the crew about their new relationship.
Mal awoke to the sound of the crew moving about to start the day on Serenity. Stretching muscles pleasantly abused by his evening of passion with Inara, he smiled at the memory. There were certain advantages to sharing a bed with a former Companion, he mused, for once not letting his disdain for the profession sour the thought.
Opening one eye to check the chronometer, he was startled to see Inara still curled up under his covers, dead to the world around her. "'Nara," he said, nudging her with his leg. "'Nara, darlin', it's past time to get up."
Inara mumbled incoherently and pulled the sheet up over her head. Mal peeled it back gently, and leaned forward to kiss her. "Come on, sleepyhead," he whispered against her ear. "Time to get up."
Drawing a deep breath, Inara opened her eyes and smiled lazily. 'What's the hurry?" she asked, stretching like a well-satisfied cat.
"Crew's already up and about," Mal replied calmly.
Inara jumped out of the bed, frantically searching for her clothes. "Mal," she said, exasperated. 'Why didn't you wake me before?"
"Only just woke up two minutes ago myself," Mal replied. Giving her a lop-sided grin, he added, "Guess I was all tuckered out from last night." He ducked as Inara's slipper sailed past his head. "Whoa now, no need to get all tetchy," he said.
Inara gave him a look halfway between anxious and annoyed. "I thought we were going to keep our relationship a secret for now," she said, brushing a trembling hand through her tangled hair.
"I thought so too, darlin'," he said, discerning she was more nervous than angry. "But I overslept, plain and simple. And so did you." He padded over to her and took her into his arms. "Ain't the worst thing in the 'verse to have to admit to beddin' me, is it?"
Inara leaned into the embrace, relaxing into the warmth of it. "Of course not," she said, sighing. "It's just that so many things have changed so suddenly. I suppose I'm just a little dizzy from the spin."
Mal chuckled lightly. "Now you know how I've felt ever since you walked onto my boat. Welcome to my 'verse."
Inara rolled her eyes, but she graced him with a smile nonetheless. "So, how are we going to break the news to everyone? Just blurt it out over breakfast?"
Mal gave her a mock frown. "Well, if you think that's best, I reckon I could do that," he replied. "Or maybehaps you'd rather I just fling you onto the table and…"
Inara punched his arm. "I'm serious, Mal. What are we going to say?"
Mal sighed. "I ain't altogether convinced we gotta say anything in particular. They're fairly smart folk…well, 'ceptin' Jayne of course, and Kaylee can explain it to him, if need be. Why don't we just act natural-like and let them figure it out?"
Inara nodded her assent. "I just wish we could have waited a little longer before complicating everything again."
"It ain't gotta be complicated," Mal said easily. "'Sides, how long do you think it would be 'fore Kaylee notices your shuttle ain't exactly work-ready anymore?"
"I suppose you're right," Inara said. "Might as well face the music."
Mal grabbed her hand and spun her about. "Maybehaps they'll be playin' our song," he said, laughing as her spin landed her against his chest awkwardly. Inara couldn't help the laughter that bubbled up in her own throat in answer.
"Think they're ever gonna quit ruttin' and come to breakfast?" Jayne asked, his mouth full of protein mush.
Simon sighed. "Why must you be so crude in the morn…all the time?"
Smirking, Jayne replied, "Oughta' be grateful I ain't still talking 'bout you and Kaylee."
Simon's ears turned an alarming shade of red, while Kaylee just smiled sunnily. "Well, I think it's just the shiniest thing that the Cap'n and Inara are sexin' each other."
Zoe surprised everyone by adding a rare personal comment of her own. "I'd say it's about gorram time."
"Time for what?' Mal asked, sauntering into the galley hand-in-hand with Inara.
River grinned and rose from her chair to peck Mal on the cheek. "Time for the music to start," she answered breezily, dancing out of the room.
"Time to get to work on that compression coil," Kaylee covered for Zoe, trying not to stare at the Captain and Inara's entwined hands.
"Yes," Simon said, hastily pushing back his own chair. "I have some re-organizing to do in the infirmary myself," he said, not quite meeting Mal's surprised eyes.
"I'll be in the cargo bay," Zoe said, taking her bowl to the sink. "You comin', Jayne?"
Jayne looked up, still shoveling mush into his mouth. Seeing Zoe's threatening look, he said sarcastically, "Yeah, got that important cargo bay thing to sort out." He rose reluctantly to follow the scowling Zoe out.
Inara looked around the suddenly empty galley. "I thought we'd been so careful. But they already knew, didn't they?" she asked in amazement.
"Ya' think?" Mal asked, cocking one mischievous eyebrow as he pulled her closer for a proper good-morning kiss.
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