Far Too Often

Goodbye.

It was becoming a very familiar word, used far too often on Serenity for Mal's liking.

The first time he'd heard it, Inara had left.

The second time, it was Book.

Before long, a part of him was certain that all of the crew would leave him alone and bitter to wonder what he did wrong. Of course, it wasn't entirely his fault. Both Inara and Book had a part in their departure, too.

Apparently life on the edge didn't do well enough for them. Not surprising. They'd both come from civilisations far from the black of space – as far as he knew, anyhow. It had been nothing if not inevitable that they'd eventually make their way back there.

Goodbye.

After all the time they'd lived together aboard Serenity, that's all they had left to say.

Mal sighed.

It hurt knowing that: especially with Inara. He'd thought there was more…that he might just have a chance with her.

He'd been wrong.

He was the last person in the verse who Inara would…what? Fall in love with? He scoffed at himself for even allowing the thought to pass through his mind and shook his head. No. He couldn't do this. It was stupid and childish he had his pride.

There was no point looking for something that clearly wasn't there.

Goodbye.

It was time he said it, too.