Hair, Sheep And Kisses

"You really annoy me sometimes," Inara tells Mal in exasperation.

He looks up at her, the picture of innocence. Until he smirks. "Only sometimes?"

She glares. "Would you just...stop that!? Please?!"

"Stop what?" Mal plays dumb. "Stop this?" He takes another strand of her long, black hair and twirls it around his finger. Once he's twisted it the whole way, he slowly unravels it and lets it fall back into place. It almost seems to bounce when it's released, grazing Inara's cheek and obscuring her vision. She tosses the arrogant strand from her face with the flick of her wrist.

"Yes, Mal. That," she confirms. "I know you love playing with my hair, but really, it has to stop. My hair hasn't been this wavy since I used to use electrical appliances to curl it."

"Electrical appliances, huh? I'm that good at curling hair?" He pretends to think something over seriously. "Maybe I should become a hairdresser."

She holds back the snort of laughter she so fiercely wants to let out. "I imagine curling hair is not the only skill you require to become a hairdresser."

"Well, yeah, but - "

"Are you able to cut hair, too?"

"Does sheep count?"

She stares blankly at him.

"Back on Shadow, my ma had a farm. Used to raise cattle and we had a few sheep at one point. I helped cut their hair some."

"Oh?"

"Yeah, there weren't much else to do an' the stable hands liked the help. Learnt a lot from those guys."

"It sounds like you had a wonderful childhood."

Mal looks into space, as if reliving those days. "Yeah," he murmurs. He shakes out of his trance-like state. "But anyhow. I can cut sheep hair, so why not people hair?"

"Oh, I don't know, Mal. It's really quite different, don't you think?"

"Ahh, spoil it for me then. Burn my dreams to ashes."

"If you were to become a hairdresser, you'd have to settle down, you know. Find a place to call home that isn't the sky."

"Yeah, I know," Mal nods. "'s probably why I'm still flying and not settled down someplace with a pair o' scissors."

"Hmmm, yes," she murmurs, smiling softly.

"Would you...uh...would you ever consider settlin' down?"

"Me? I...really couldn't say. I've always imagined that I would, but since I arrived on Serenity, I just don't know. Serenity is more a home to me now than any other place I've been."

"Yeah?"

"She really is."

They share a smile.

"Me too."

"Anyway," Inara says. "Any life but the one we're living now would be awfully boring after what we've seen and done."

"True."

Mal, again, reaches for her hair and she moves backward quickly. Her hair slips through his fingers and he gives a short burst of laughter. "You really don't like that, do you?"

She smiles and lifts one shoulder in a half shrug. "It's annoying but I don't hate it," she admits.

"Well then," Mal continues. "I might have to do somethin' 'bout tha - "

He breaks off and pounces on her, pinning her wrists to the bed, on either side of her head. He shimmies up so that he's on top of her and stares down at her.

She's breathing hard and there's something primal in her eyes, something he rarely sees.

"As interesting-ful as all this hairdresser talk is, I think there's somethin' much better we can be using our mouths for," he hints.

She narrows her eyes at him, lips curling up into a wider smile. "Oh yeah?"

"Yeah." Mal closes the distance between them and kisses her.

fin.