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This was originally posted on Reviews Please...Feed My Need


He had never thought it would actually happen, they'd always had some furious fights and separately they would cool down and everything would work out some how. She wasn't supposed to actually leave, it wasn't how this worked. They were supposed to fight and pick and tease each other, she wasn't supposed to pack up and leave them behind.

It was late in the night and here he stood in her empty shuttle, a shuttle now devoid of all color and warmth. Cold and barren, just how she probably thought his heart was. In many ways, on that count she was probably right. He knew he had hurt her, but he had expected her to come back fighting as she had always done, not turn around and walk away.

There last conversation had been about family how when you make a family you are willing to do anything for them, were they not her family, were they not all a family. Evidently they were not, or she would not have been able to walk away. Hell he knew it hadn't been easy for her to walk away, just how it hadn't been easy for him to watch her go.

They all missed her, and they all blamed him, which they had every right in the verse to do. He had pushed her and prodded her until she felt as if she didn't belong here and if she didn't belong here, then maybe none of them did.

Even without all her finery, it still smelled of her incense and the scent alone made a million different memories flash through his mind like a capture, mostly of him barging in on her and making her feel uncomfortable in her own home.

The memory of the tears in her beautiful, haunting dark eyes that last time fueled a rage in him that he hadn't felt the pull of in a mighty long time. With a force he didn't know he had he punched the wall of the shuttle, breaking more than one knuckle on his right hand and leaving a splash of blood behind. That's all his life was about blood, fighting, war, death and destruction. He had nothing to give to her, had nothing to give to no one.

He didn't know what love was. Duty, honor, integrity, courage and fear, those he knew plenty about. Love was as elusive to him as the rain to the desert. But if he could find out about love from anyone he'd want it to be her and only with her.

Sliding to the floor, he pulled out the few items he had brought with them into her shuttle. One was a huge bottle of Kaylee's home brew, of which half he'd already drunk before coming here. He knew he would never be able to face this place, her place, sober. Luckily for him he was already well and truly drunk.

The other items he spread out on the floor around him, they had been confiscated from Kaylee's room while she had been with Serenity's engine. There were seven, and they were all of her. She floated across the screens of each, living life and talking to Kaylee as she went. In two she was packing up her things for her final trip back to the Guild house. It was these pictures that he hated the most, but they were the ones where she was the most beautiful shiny that she had ever been.

He took long pulls of the liquor relishing the warmth it brought to his gut if not his heart. There was nothing that he could offer her out in the black, besides him, and old ship and more mischief than she should ever see. It ate at him that he had shown her a world of blood shed and crime, things that a woman like her should never even know about. Hell she belonged on one of those fancy floating homes with a passel of children at her feet with no worry as to being shot at or knocked unconscious or dealing with criminal folk such as he.

But gorrammit he wanted her here, even if life was hard. She made it worth it. Worth the bullets and the running from unsavory characters. Living hand to mouth sometimes, not knowing when the next job was coming in, or having the Alliance hot on their tail. All he had to do was look into her incredibly dark eyes and it all felt worth it, life even through the hardships was worth it.

She had never once complained about life in the black, about the loneliness that could eat you from the inside out, or having only protein in most of the colors of the rainbow without the taste as the only sustenance. Never once got after him for not enough water to properly bathe, or that the mess was stocked with the basics and few of those, though he did always try to keep the spice tea she liked so much on hand. Hell, he had to hide that purchase from everyone, least they yell at him for spending money on tea instead of bullets or some such needed necessity.

Staring at the capture he ran his hand down the fine contour of her jaw and over the fullness of her lips, gorram she was beautiful and he was all sorts of fool. For her he would take back and do so much, would have treated her better for starts, never once would have called her a whore, or say anything at all about her being a companion.

Taking another long drought of liquor he banged his head against the wall the echo reverberating through his skull sounding just as empty the way he was inside. Picking up a capture that Kaylee had taken of her looking over her trunk of clothing. She wasn't paying any attention to the camera which was a good and bad thing, he could see the grief on her face in it's stark reality.

Pain was etched into her beautiful features as if by a sculptor's hand, her eyes had lost their luminosity and her smiled had faded as if it had never been there. The thing that clutched at his gut and mad him feel all kinds of a bastard was the tears that flowed freely down her face and the tremble in her chin where she contained the sobs the capture caught trying to escape. The capture faded for a few minutes but kept going he could no longer see the picture, the sounds soon hit his chest like a sledge hammer.

She was sobbing, harsh wracking cries that shook him to his core and punched at his gut until he felt he was going to be ill. Tears flowed freely down his cheeks and he didn't even bother thinking of the last time he's ever shed a tear and soon his own cries filled the interior of the shuttle.

Quickly he drained the last of the bottle, the fire not even affected the cold that burned hotter than any flame could have. Laying down he laid in the same position that her bed would have been and the place where her head laid on so many nights. Nights that they spent alone when they could have been wrapped in each other's arms and finding a little peace in the chaos that was their lives in the black.

He hated himself for making her leave, even more for not asking her to stay. He was ready to admit it to her now, to tell her everything and beg her to forgive him and give him another chance to make it right. For the first time in his life he was in love to the bottom of whatever soul he had left, but it was too late.

Reaching out for a ghostly image of her in his mind, his hand wrapped around her and fell through and he let himself fall with it into drunken oblivion.

She was gone, Inara was gone.