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New Fic: Play The Part

Play The Part
Author: jackwabbit
Fandom: Firefly
Rated: PG
Category: Inara, Ficlet (505 words)
Spoilers:  Our Mrs. Reynolds
Summary:  Inara hasn’t always followed the rules, has she?

xxx

Inara walked beside Mal, only half-listening to his promises of providing transport to a planet where she could find some respectable clients.  She answered him nearly on autopilot as she took in the sights and sounds of yet another border world celebration, which oddly intrigued her (though she’d be hard-pressed to admit that).  She was concentrating more on her surroundings than the captain until Mal managed to snag her full attention with one small sentence.

“I understand,” said Mal.  “You gotta play at bein’ a lady.”

Inara blinked.  Suddenly, she was seven years old again… and her fist was bloody.  Her hair hung in tangled ropes and the dress that had been pristine that morning was filthy.  Dirt, sweat, and blood stained it in a pattern no man could identify.  A bit of the blood was Inara’s, but most of it had formerly resided in one Jason Blanchette, who was squirming on the ground in defeat as Inara straddled his chest.  Blood ran freely from Jason’s nose, but Inara took no pity on him.  She had one fist cocked back, ready to strike another blow, when an adult appeared in the ring of children surrounding her and her enemy.  Inara froze.  Her blow never fell.  Jason escaped without even token resistance from Inara as the girl faced down a far more deadly enemy… an enemy she stood no chance of defeating.

Her mother.

Her mother, who had been known to make Inara stand at perfect attention for hours if she allowed the word “ain’t” to pass her lips; who had once starved her child for two days when she put her elbows on the table; and who had absolutely no tolerance for any sort of violent behavior in anyone but herself.

The beating Inara got that night taught her a powerful lesson.

Inara Serra understood double standards very early in life, and she didn’t have to go to war to learn that discretion really was the better part of valor.  Her mother’s actions that night showed her quite effectively that it really was often the wiser course to let harsh words fall by the wayside; that it was smarter to smile and move on; that it hurt far less to just play your part and not make a fuss.

And when the time came - when fortune smiled on Inara enough to get her noticed for her looks - she would already have the skills she needed to escape her mother’s home.  She would jump at the chance to do so.

Of course, that night in bed, Inara didn’t know that one day her mother’s lessons would come in handy.  And when she remembered how good it felt to wipe that smug grin off Jason’s face, she smiled at her ceiling despite her sore backside.

The briefest shadow of knowing flitted across Inara’s adult face, and even as she heard her mouth deliver a perfectly scripted response to Mal, a wicked voice in her head gave her true answer.

You have no idea, Malcolm Reynolds.

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Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
amberflyant
Jul. 9th, 2009 01:35 am (UTC)
terrific insight to a complex woman...well done
jackwabbit
Jul. 9th, 2009 02:22 am (UTC)
Thank you! I had a hard time not doing a multiples of 100 story, but I managed! Thanks for reading, mate!
lemonpiefirefly
Jul. 9th, 2009 07:59 pm (UTC)
Very nice backstory. Yer so bloomin' good at those. ; )
Deniable plausability *g*
jackwabbit
Jul. 9th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC)
Why, thank ye, luv.

Truth is stranger than fiction and all that rot.
charlie_bz
Jul. 9th, 2009 09:52 pm (UTC)
I love your unique view on Inara's past. There is definitely a spark of the spitfire that walloped that kid still in Inara. Now I'm curious about her mother. Wabbit, you are such a tease!
jackwabbit
Jul. 9th, 2009 11:14 pm (UTC)
Tease? Moi? Well...I've been called worse. ;P

Glad you liked it and thanks for reading, as always. I didn't know Inara's mom was going to be in this story, but she insisted, and now that I've met her, you never know...she might want to talk more. We'll see!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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