Chapter One: The Boat & the Girl
Disclaimer: Ta ma de! I don't own
anything

You take care of what you've got; Malcolm Reynolds knew that. You fight to get it, kill to keep it, and die to protect it. But you never fall in love; love blinds you, it splits your priorities, it turns your world upside-down. Those were the rules. He knew the rules, but they were getting harder and harder to follow every day.

Mal had one mother, one sister, one daughter, and three best friends. Whether it was Zoƫ keeping him in line, Kaylee teasing him, or River curling up at his side after a particularly bad day, he always knew that there were three women in his life that loved him. Three that would always be there for him. It was the fourth woman that set him on edge, and made him feel so unsure.

Inara.

Since their departure from Miranda, there had been very few discussions, but she had informed him that she did not wish to return to the Training House. At least, not right away. She wanted to spend more time with the crew, she claimed; wanted to make sure everyone was all right, and do some healing of her own. He'd believed her. He had no other choice. After all, it wasn't in Mal to hope for good after so much bad; he was afraid to believe that she may have actually stayed for him.

There was no denying what he felt for her, and he'd never been the first one to attempt to do so. He wasn't an all-out-in-the-opened sort of man, but he'd never tried to hide anything; every sour remark, every argument, every conversation between them allowed him to offer her a little more. It was she who had never outright returned the gesture. At one point in time, Mal had thought she felt the same way, but since her departure and return--her almost indifference toward him--he'd stopping thinking that way. Though he wouldn't admit it, it hurt him too much to think she might suddenly turn about and rush into his arms.

He'd broken the rules. You never fall in love with that which you protect. You never let it get that close to you. You never lose yourself in it. Once you do, you don't belong to yourself anymore, and if you die, they die with you. How could hope to protect Inara if he found himself falling for her as surely as rain falls in the spring? He knew he shouldn't, but at the same time, how did he stop himself from loving her? It was like asking Serenity to stop loving the sky.

As Mal watched her, he realized that Inara was Serenity. She was quick, but graceful. Light, but strong. Sweet, but serious. Loving, but strict. And she was willing to fight; always willing to fight. And love--so much love. He wanted her as he'd wanted Serenity; wanted the both from the first glance. But unlike his boat, it wasn't just a new engine and a gentle hand he needed to make her love him back. Inara didn't take as quickly, and she wasn't as trusting; she had a mind and a heart and a soul of her own, and she was too good for him.

Okay, so like it? Hate it? Either way, its my first Firefly fic, so please R&R!
And keep an eye out for Chapter Two: The Guild & the Boy.