Notes: Written for the prompt," Zoe/any FF lady, Bedroom, Brown, or Fading," at the fangirl squee meme at femslash_land. Post-Serenity.
Inara knew, long before she ever told any one, about the sickness that ate away at the companion even as she held her head up and acted posh. Zoe was the first to figure out, pure random luck to walk in and see the needles, and Zoe was the last to see her alive. Throughout the middle, it was Zoe who kept the secret.
They had left for Inara's home world once Simon gave her the bleak timetable. Zoe couldn't deny her this last favor.
"Open the drapes." Inara asked as Zoe came into the room. There were dark rings under her eyes, she had been abed for days, too weak to sit up. There was something in her eyes like she knew it was the end as she repeated in charmingly polite mandarin with an additional remark about the sunshine. "Its what I'm going to miss most."
Eyes darting away, Zoe unlocked the balcony doors to let in the breezes blowing through the pristine terraformed wilderness. There was a storm coming in. "Not Serenity?"
Inara smiled. "You never leave a place like Serenity." Her eyes peered into space before she made eye contact. "Or friends like you." She reached out her hand.
Zoe took it. "No, I don't suspect you do. The good Shepard would agree." In her life, she had crossed paths with death more than she cared too. Hurt every time. Zoe didn't want to think about the newest wound on her heart caused by the companion's graceful descent into death. "He'll probably tell you all about it, if you want. They've landed."
"Thank you, Zoe." Inara squeezed her hand.
Rain began to fall heavily on the cabin and the drops pounded on the weathered wood balcony. The rich scent of a thunderstorm hung in the air. Lightening crackled overhead. Silence reigned as the heavens poured.
Zoe kissed her hand, saying good bye without words, letting her eyes show how much their time together had meant. She had been broken after Miranda. Inara saved her. She kissed the companion on the forehead as she heard the sound of boots in the hallway. "I'll take care of the ship and crew. Don't you even worry."
"I know. You always have." Inara composed herself as Mal and Kaylee burst into the room.
Zoe backed away, rain sprinkling on her, looking out to where the clouds had covered the mountains.
A fog rolled in over the limitless horizon.