Let's Just Hope

"They're at it again?" Mal asks as he joins Inara on the catwalk above the cargo bay. He shoves his hands deep into the pockets of his rusted brown coat and offers her an ironical smile.

Down below, the figures of House and Cuddy are set in the all too familiar stance that means they are at odds. Cuddy's hands are on her hips and her lower lip juts out in a defiant and yet rather sexy way. House is scowling back at her, leaning on his cane for support. His hair is ruffled and unkempt and even with the distance between them, Mal can see he's in desperate need of a shave.

Though somewhat muffled, their words are sharp and biting.

Mal lets out a sigh of exasperation and removes his hands from his pockets to grip the railing. "Those two are beginning to grate on my nerves what with all the arguing and bickering and all," he says. "No chance they'll let up soon, do you think?"

"I wouldn't count on it."

"Right. Of course not." His voice grows weary.

They stand in silence for a moment, allowing the conversation from below to waft up. Snatches of words (idiot!) and phrases (you're not my boss anymore) stand out as if doused in flames that refuse to burn out. River is mentioned, as is 'psychosis' and 'a treatment'. 'Idiot' again. More insults.

"Thank the Buddha we've moved past that stage," Inara murmurs, breaking Mal from his trance.

Turning to study her, he nods his agreement. "Let's just hope they don't take as long as us to figure things out."

"Indeed."

He winces as Cuddy spins around and walks away from House, towards the infirmary. House stares after her and for a moment Mal is reminded of all the times he stared after Inara in such a way.

Mal puts an arm around her and pulls her close. He presses a slow, passionate kiss to her mouth and feels some of the tension melt away as she responds. When they pull back, he leans his forehead against hers. "Let's just hope."

fin.