DISCLAIMER: Firefly & Serenity are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and Universal.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I’d like to thank my awesome beta mysensitiveside for helping me out with this! Written for smirnoffmule for femslash08. I really hope you like it!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Of Dreams and Reality
Kaylee's been dreaming about this for ages.
It always starts off slow first, they have tea, and then maybe Inara braids her hair. But it always ends the same way, with soft sighs and wandering fingers, gentle lips pressing into her flushed skin. It's a wonderful feeling, like nothing she's really felt before, and when Kaylee awakes after dreams like these, she feels an odd sense of loss, as well as a low stir in the pit of her belly that sends her back to her bunk until it settles down.
The reality of the situation is a lot different.
Because truth be told, it's a little sloppy. Okay it's more than a little sloppy. It's wet and noisier than she'd imagined, and there's teeth clashing and a definite lack of tongue. And Kaylee's pretty sure that Inara's had better first kisses, more refined first kisses the kind that involves expensive wine and polite laughter but suddenly she doesn't care. Because this kiss? This kiss is real and heated and rushed in a way that's just right.
They break apart after what feels like hours, with Kaylee breathing in short gasps of air, and Inara doing the same.
Kaylee's afraid to look Inara's way because there's that feeling in her belly again, the sort of feeling one gets after a perfect kiss, no matter how sloppy. And she doesn't want to see what she knows is coming: the regret in her friend's eyes, the 'we shouldn't have done that, bao bei,' and the 'let's pretend this never happened,' and gorram it she just wants Inara. She wants her so bad, she'd give up anything for her.
But then there's a firm knock on the door, and instantly Kaylee knows who it is.
Sure enough, the door swings open seconds later without invitation, and there stands the Captain, arms folded across his chest, thoughtful frown etched into his features. And Kaylee adores the Captain; anyone can see that, but right now, she's more annoyed at him than anything else. Two seconds earlier, and he could have-
"Mal," Inara's voice interrupts Kaylee's thoughts, and Kaylee knows it's childish, but she's secretly glad to hear the slight irritation in the Companion's tone. The dark-haired woman's tone changes to one of dry humour. "What an unexpected surprise."
"Can't say I didn't knock, now," Mal says almost nonchalantly.
"You're supposed to wait for an invitation," Inara sighs as she stands from the bed, and Kaylee, sitting next to her, does the same. "That's the polite thing to do."
"Seeing as how I'm renting the shuttle to-"
"Did you need anything, Cap'n?" Kaylee interjects. She's been around the Captain and Inara for long enough to know when they're about to start a fight, and this fight had long, drawn-out, and boring stamped all across it and Kaylee isn't really in the mood to hear them go at it again. The thought of the both of them quarreling like lovers is enough to make her unsettled, and she shifts uncomfortably under the Captain's surprised gaze.
She's glad when the Captain speaks again.
"No need to be gettin' tetchy now. But I'm glad you asked, Kaylee I was actually lookin' for you. The engine's not runnin' like it should; I think something might be loose."
"I'll take a look, Cap'n," Kaylee says as she moves around the Captain and towards the door. "It's probably just the catalyzer again if only we could replace it-"
"Kaylee, there's no replacin' to be done when I don't have the credit," Mal says sternly.
A sigh, and then a quick glance back.
"I'll see you later, 'Nara," Kaylee says shyly before she ducks out into the hallway.
Kaylee doesn't see Inara's farewell smile, but she does hear the Captain's voice: "Now. What have you done to my mechanic that's got her actin' so strange-like?"
Two hours and a repaired (as best she can) catalyzer later, Serenity is flying smoother.
Kaylee finds herself in front of Inara's shuttle door, and she hesitantly knocks on it. She's still afraid of what Inara will say, but Kaylee's never been one to run away from her problems. She likes knowing; it's better than false hope, and with Inara, false hope is something she doesn't want to have.
"It's not the Cap'n, 'Nara," Kaylee calls out, and knocks again after a minute of silence.
The door opens then, and Kaylee's greeted with Inara's smiling face. "I know," Inara laughs softly. "If you were Mal, you would've walked in minutes ago."
Kaylee smiles a little unsurely. "There's dinner ready, if you want to join us."
"Of course," Inara replies.
And as they head for the kitchen, Inara gently takes hold of Kaylee's hand, and Kaylee's so happy her stomach's doing flips and she's feeling a little woozy. She laces her fingers with Inara's and squeezes, and her heart leaps and her skin tingles as she feels a little squeeze back.
Long after dinner, Kaylee sits quietly in Inara's shuttle, watching as she folds silk scarves before getting up and stowing them away in a drawer nearby. She does this several times, and Kaylee watches her patiently for most of it, before her attention wavers and her gaze wanders around the room.
Kaylee's been in here more times than she can count, but she's never taken the time to really look around.
The room is bathed in shades of red and gold, and the light's not very bright, but Kaylee can see well enough. The sofa she's on is soft and plushy, and from her few moments sitting on it this afternoon, she knows that Inara's bed is even softer. Briefly she wonders what it'd be like to be in Inara's bed and not just sitting on it, but the thought makes her color and, embarrassed, she focuses instead on the light overhead.
"Is everything all right, bao bei?"
It's funny, Kaylee thinks, that Inara's so quick to notice the change in her mood.
Kaylee nods slowly, hoping Inara hasn't seen the flush in her cheeks. Then she speaks, admiration lacing her words, "You sure got a lot of fancy things down here, 'Nara."
Inara smiles. "It reminds me of home."
Kaylee nods again. Inara's home in Sihnon must be a lot nicer than her shuttle in Serenity. She's surprised at the hurt she feels at the realization, even though she knows it's true. Half-curious, half-afraid of the response she's going to get, she asks anyway, "Would you rather be home?"
Inara looks up at the question and meets Kaylee's eyes, stopping her folding abruptly. She moves so that she's sitting down next to Kaylee, and soon Kaylee feels Inara's fingers starting to lace with hers.
"I'd rather be here with you."
It's simple, but the honesty behind Inara's words takes Kaylee by surprise.
And really? It's all Kaylee needs to hear.
In a moment of bold clarity, she untwines her fingers from Inara's and slides them up to her face so she's stroking Inara's cheek with a thumb. She leans forward, and at the same time, she can feel Inara doing the same.
Her eyelids flutter shut, her lips press against softer ones, and her last coherent thought is that this? Is so much better than her dream.
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