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Ships that Pass in the Black

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Summary: New Melbourne has a bit more than fish and fish-related activities.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Firefly > Xander-Centered > Pairing: Inara(Past Donor)SnagFR18810,603159236,62220 Oct 0927 Feb 10No

Abnormal is Normal

Sorry folks! I got mugged by a bout of job hunting, the holidays and new job training. Apologies if either of our intrepid pair seem off. I'm shaking off some rust here.


Xander couldn't remember the last time he'd been dancing. That last year in Sunnydale, there were too many dire happenings afoot to really be thinking about social outings. Then after Sunnydale imploded, there was the sudden influx of work and traveling and finding of Slayers, hence no time for much dancing. Once Xander was shipped off to this future here-and-now, he really hadn't much wanted to do any dancing.

It didn't help that dancing had progressed so far, it was looped back to retro. The few times he'd been to a party since his arrival, everything was vaguely reminiscent of a medieval movie or a small town western hoedown. Or possibly the renaissance festival.

Talking to Inara, though, hearing how much she missed dancing, made him miss it. So he went through the indignity of feeling like a clod with four left feet attached to two legs whose knees bent backwards, while Inara patiently taught him a simple yet elegant dance. Once Xander could perform the steps largely uncoached by Inara, they resumed their idle talking.

"So, you get to cruise the galaxy, going from place to place and seeing all kinds of stuff I probably couldn't imagine in my wildest dreams. What's that like?" Xander asked, when the music shifted them to a slower-paced song.

"It's a lot of things," Inara replied with a smile. "Travel through space itself can get a little dull at times. It's really the people that I'm interested in seeing when I get to my destination." She looked at him slyly. "Oftentimes, I'm even more pleasantly surprised when I see them."

The look that she gave him made Xander lose his concentration for a moment and move one direction when he should have moved another. Inara shifted her feet slightly and made the maneuver seem like it was what was supposed to happen and they continued to dance.

Xander chuckled ruefully. "See, now where were you when I was embarrassing myself dancing in high school? Being able to dance at all is one thing. Being able to avoid getting your toes stomped and make it look like part of the dance is pure talent."

"It's all part of the Companion training. Art, politics, history, space travel, sports, even military matters." Inara smiled mysteriously, then looked a little bemused.

"Why the QuestionFace?" Xander wondered.

She shook her head. "I'm sorry. We don't normally discuss our training during our encounters."

He shrugged. "So don't be normal. For me, abnormal is normal."

The latest song wound down, and Xander stepped back to give Inara an excessively formal bow. She recovered from her verbal gaffe and returned the gesture with an elegant curtsy. The fact that they were both still quite naked didn't detract from the courtesy in the least. At least, until they both laughed at the absurdity of it all.

Xander straightened up and held out an inviting arm to Inara, who neatly tucked herself against his side. He walked with her back to the bed, pausing to poke the mute button on her Cortex terminal, and looked at the disheveled bedding. Suddenly struck with an idea, he pulled the blanket off the bed and draped it around the two of them.

"What's going through your head?" Inara asked, arching her eyebrows in amusement.

"I'm having an inspiration here." Xander couldn't really elaborate on why he was feeling a little bolder. Though the steamy lovemaking and subsequent nude dancing probably helped his comfort level with Inara. He walked them over to Inara's couch and sat with her, arranging the blanket for maximum coziness as they settled into a nice snuggle.

"Inspiration indeed. I may have to steal this idea." Inara murmured in surprised contentment.

Xander chuckled. "Feel free. Although for maximum effect, there really should be a fireplace involved." Once they both got their arms settled comfortably around one another, there was a mutual sigh of comfort.

After a few minutes of quiet canoodling, Xander peered down at Inara curiously. "Mind if I ask you something?"

"Of course not."

"Well, Companions are basically a mix of psychiatrist, bartender, personal company and bed partner all rolled into one, yeah?"

Inara looked up at him with her brows arched. "In essence, yes. The term 'Companion' is intended to be as literal as it can be made."

Xander nodded as he absorbed this information. "So, who do you guys go to when you need comfort and company and all?"

"Who guards the guardians, you mean?"

"Basically. Or maybe, 'who helps the helpers'." He frowned. "That doesn't sound right either. 'Who keeps the Companion company?' maybe?"

Inara smiled, her expression suggesting that she felt touched by him taking the time to ask this. "We have other Companions we can talk to, if we live in one of the Companion Houses. For those of us that prefer a more mobile lifestyle, we tend to find friends we can chat with. Now and then, we even find clients that are thoughtful enough to ask that very question."

Xander ducked his head, bashfully accepting the praise. "Does it help?" he asked.

"Most of the time, yes." She reached up to brush his hair out of his eyes. "There are a few things that are a bit difficult to explain to someone that isn't also a Companion. And, of course, some things are guild secrets that we're not permitted to discuss."

"Fair enough." He paused a moment before plunging ahead. "So, what about you?"

"Me?" For once, Inara seemed taken off guard by him.

"You've been nice enough to listen to me chatter, yammer, babble and otherwise generally ramble on. Is there anything that you need to hash out?" Xander put on his best 'ready to listen' expression and waited.

The End?

You have reached the end of "Ships that Pass in the Black" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 27 Feb 10.

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