DISCLAIMER: Firefly belongs to the genius that is Joss Whedon and Farscape belongs to David Kemper et al. I'm just a humble fan. No money is being made from this and no copyright infringement is intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for the FSAC: DW08.

Diplomatic Relations
By Celievamp


She wasn't who she said she was, Inara was fairly certain of that. Her colleague was still negotiating with Mal and Zoe about transportation to the nearest commerce planet for them and the small rather beat up ship they had rescued them from with a few seconds spare to them breathing vacuum.

The woman's clothes were utilitarian, plain black leather trousers and top that left her toned midriff bare and showed off her defined arms. Inara tried hard not to lick her lips as she appraised the woman as she worked on getting her ship spaceworthy again, aided by Kaylee's almost mystical ability with technology and Jayne's more mundane talent for lifting heavy things. The leer on Jayne's face was getting more pronounced by the minute as he got a good eyeful of the woman's tight black leather clad ass and it was a good thing both his hands were occupied otherwise he'd be trying to take liberties by now and Inara had the strong feeling that Aeryn Sun was nobody's plaything. Not if she didn't want to be.

Inara sat on the gantry and watched them work, shapely bare feet dangling over the edge. On her last commission she had accompanied her client to a traditional wedding and her feet and ankles as well as her arms had been decorated with henna. Flowers, trails of ivy leaves and complex loops and whorls decorated her long slim calves, twined around her ankles and the arch of her feet. Aeryn kept glancing towards her. Inara shifted slightly so the slit in the side of her dress revealed a little more of her leg. Moments later Inara regretted it bitterly. Distracted, Aeryn touched something she shouldn't have and the shockwave sent her flying backwards to land hard on her back just below where Inara was sitting. Inara didn't even think about it. She swung herself over the railing and dropped to land beside the prone woman.

"Are you okay?" she asked, feeling for her pulse and checking her out… checking her over for obvious injuries. "Where does it hurt?" The woman stared at her silently, storm-blue eyes wide in shock. "Jayne – go and get Simon." The big man nodded and scrambled away.

"I'm fine," the woman gasped at last, trying to sit up. Inara placed her hand on the woman's upper chest just above the rise of her breasts keeping her from moving too much. Her skin was cool, almost cold to the touch, her skin texture subtly different to what Inara was used to. "Not the first time I've had a profusion coil discharge through me… unfortunately."

Jayne reappeared followed by Simon Tam and the woman's compatriot, Crichton. "You okay, Sunshine?" he asked, hunkering down beside her and giving her a visual once over.

"Just got the breath knocked out of me," Aeryn said. She batted away Simon's hands as he tried to check her heart rate. "I'm fine."

Simon scanned her. "I'm not so sure. Your body temp is low – you're going into shock."

"Erm… Aeryn's physiology isn't quite what you're used to, Doc," Crichton said carefully. "Low is good. It's when she starts running a fever you gotta worry."

Simon was looking at his scan in open mouthed awe. "There are organs that the scanner doesn't identify, elements in your blood that are non-human. You're…"

"Not from around here," Aeryn said flatly. She tried to sit up again, and with Inara's help managed it though she went even paler, her mouth compressed in a thin line.

"Do you feel nauseous?" Inara asked.

There was a strangled grunt in response. Quick thinking Kaylee handed over a bucket and then scrambled to fetch a glass of water from the kitchen and everyone looked someplace else whilst Inara held the bucket so that Aeryn could be sick. Once she sat back again, still shuddering with reaction, Inara silently handed her the cup of water and a clean handkerchief from her pocket so that she could rinse and then wipe her mouth.

"Feel better?" Simon asked.

"A little," Aeryn said stiffly, obviously uncomfortable with all the attention.

"Look, I'm not familiar with your… species, so there's not a lot I can do. I'm pretty certain that you have a mild concussion. But if you're sure you're okay – all I can recommend is that you rest for an hour or so and see how you feel then."

"You can rest in my shuttle," Inara said promptly. "It's quiet – you won't be disturbed by this lot rioting around."

The alien woman (how Inara thrilled at the idea of that) glanced up at her male colleague who nodded. "Sounds like a plan, Aeryn. We aren't going anywhere for a while… we're still a days travel from the next commerce planet. Their captain's agreed to drop us off there, see if we can't get enough emergency supplies to get us home again."

Aeryn sighed and looked as if she was about to object before she winced with pain again, rubbing her forehead with one shaking hand. She glanced up at Inara again. "Thank you."

Crichton helped her to her feet. Inara stepped forward. "Lean on me if you're feeling dizzy. Some of the walkways are rather open. You don't want to take another tumble."

Aeryn bristled, about to declare that she didn't need any further help when she realized that the room was rapidly going monochrome around her. "I… thank you," she said softly. She allowed the woman to put her arm around her waist and guide her unsteady footsteps up the stairs to the upper walkway.

Inara's shuttle was a complete contrast to the rest of the ship. It reminded Aeryn of Zhaan's rooms more than anything else though the main colours here were red and gold rather than Zhaan's blues and greens. There were rich hangings on the walls masking the bare metal and cushions and pillows everywhere.

Aeryn sank down gratefully onto the soft cushions. Her nerves still jangled painfully and she desperately hoped that she would manage not to throw up again all over Inara's rich brocades. She closed her eyes, centering herself. Inara left her to it, crossing to the small kitchen area to make a pot of tea.

Aeryn realised what she was doing. "You don't need to…"

"The tea will settle your stomach and soothe your nerves," Inara said. "And it is my custom to make my visitors tea."

"Thank you," Aeryn said faintly, remembering one of Crichton's lectures about manners. She wondered what this woman's function was on board Serenity. She was obviously important in some way. She struggled to sit up again as Inara brought over the delicate porcelain cup of steaming tea.

"It can be a little bitter to some tastes so I added a little honey," Inara said. She dazzled Aeryn with a playful grin. "Not too much, don't worry. You do not strike me as someone who has a sweet tooth."

"Not so much, no," Aeryn smiled and sipped the tea. It was good. "I was brought up a soldier, a Peacekeeper. Until a few years ago, I knew no other life."

"Then we are equal and opposite," Inara smiled shyly. "Since childhood I have trained to be a Companion. Like you, I knew and expected no other life. Until I came to live on Serenity. Since then I have… expanded my horizons a little."

"A Companion…" Aeryn frowned. The Peacekeepers owned and operated brothels all over the quadrant, places were no strings sexual gratification could be had if you didn't want to frell your bunkmates. They were clean, functional, well organized and emotionally sterile, as one would expect from the Peacekeepers. Hetero and homosexual relations were catered for. The Peacekeepers had long since recognized that the way your sexual triggers were hardwired had no bearing on your ability to fight and to follow orders. No money changed hands but each encounter was noted on your file. Repeat liaisons between the same individuals were not encouraged, nothing that could constitute a relationship. It was designed to be a healthy relief of unwanted sexual tension, nothing more.

Aeryn had made use of them infrequently – not making use of the 'facility' at all could get you as much unwelcome attention as over frequent use. She was careful not to get into a pattern; taking female as well as male partners but if anyone truly was keeping track of such things they would have noted that they tended to be of a slender, athletic physical type with dark hair and dark eyes. This Inara would certainly have been on her shopping list in the old days. But Aeryn got the feeling she was far from a functionary. There were stories that the higher-ups visited far more opulent establishments if they didn't keep a personal servitor to take care of such things for them. From what she had heard about them Inara seemed to have stepped from one of those – making her far out of Aeryn's league.

Aeryn did not want to offend this beautiful young woman who had been so kind to her. Crichton would be proud. "A Companion… so you…"

"Offer personal, usually sexual services for money. Yes," Inara said evenly. "I have a client list. Quite exclusive. I receive requests and I choose whom I wish to spend my time with and how much if anything I wish to charge for that time. A portion of that money goes back to the House where I trained. The rest is mine to do with as I please. No one forces me to do anything that I do not want to do. I pay Captain Reynolds rent for this shuttle and I have come to consider everyone on Serenity a friend… almost a member of my family." She quirked a smile. "A rather dysfunctional family."

Is there any other kind Aeryn thought as she took another sip of her tea? It really was delicious and she was feeling substantially better though her headache still persisted. As if sensing her continued pain, Inara reached out and gently stroked her thumb over Aeryn's browline, her fingers cupping her cheek. Aeryn fought her instincts to draw back. "Mal… Captain Reynolds sometimes introduces me as a diplomat. Of course, compared to his usual style of dealing with people we encounter…" Inara's hands were warm and soft and Aeryn's skin tingled where she touched.

"That feels nice," she admitted softly. "I think I see the advantages of your approach to… relations."

"And what about this?" Inara asked, leaning in and pressing her soft lips gently to Aeryn's for a moment. Again Aeryn froze for a moment before tentatively responding, returning the kiss and running her fingers up Inara's bare arm. She was so soft, so warm, Aeryn could smell the oils she had used in her hair and to perfume her skin. It was pleasantly distracting as was the weight of the breast that her hand had traveled to of its own accord. She ran her thumb over Inara's nipple, feeling it swell in response to her touch.

"Are you this soft all over?"

In response Inara took the half-empty tea cup from Aeryn's other hand and set it on a convenient side table. She reached up and removed a pin from her hair, sending coils of dark silk cascading around her face and shoulders. Lithely she moved until she was straddling Aeryn's leather clad thighs and then undid a simple clasp at the shoulder of her garment. The brightly woven cloth fell from her body with a slight whispering sound revealing the beauty of her body to Aeryn's appreciative gaze.

"Why don't you find out, Aeryn Sun?"

Aeryn smiled. She always did like a challenge. Inara's small but full breasts were enticingly close to her lips. She drew a dark nipple into her mouth, rolling her tongue across the sensitive surface, her hands traveling down Inara's ribcage to rest on her slim hips for a moment then down and back to cup her rounded arse. Inara's hands were running through her hair, she was humming softly under her breath and Inara could feel the growing warmth of the woman's centre through the leather of her jeans. The seam of her jeans chafed pleasantly against her own clit as she moved her thigh up a little to lightly increase the pressure on the other woman's centre. Inara rocked slightly, rubbing herself along Aeryn's thigh as Aeryn transferred her attentions to the other breast, alternately laving the nipple with her tongue and lightly grazing it with her teeth.

Inara bent her head forward, her eyes heavy lidded. Her dark hair fell around them like a perfumed curtain. She drew back a little so that she could reach between them and pull at Aeryn's top. Aeryn helped her draw it over her head. She hissed in appreciation as Inara's hands molded her breasts, rolling her nipples between her thumb and forefinger. Aeryn's hands returned to Inara's rounded hips. She eyed the neatly trimmed dark curls of hair at the cleft of Inara's thighs and licked her lips.

Inara laughed. "You really are feeling better."

"I am," Aeryn smiled.

"Still, I think we should take it slow. As your friend said, we're still a day's travel away from the commerce planet. We have plenty of time to get to know each other better."

Aeryn wasn't sure about that. She didn't think that a day would be anywhere near long enough to get to know all of Inara Serra. But she was more than willing to try.

The End

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