Title: Lost in the Woods
Prompt: Not-So-Bleak Midwinter prompt #31
Characters & Pairings: Mal/Inara
Word Count: 280
Disclaimer: I don’t own Firefly or the poem featured, prompt was taken from Not-So-Bleak Midwinter Drabblethon, I’m not making any money off of this.
Summary: Inara’s reflections on her relationship with Mal.
Author’s Note: Prompt from day_by_drabble
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
--"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost
Inara: (to Simon) You’re lost in the woods, we all are, even the captain. The only difference is he likes it that way.
Mal: No, the only difference is the woods are the only place I can see a clear path. (Firefly 1.1 “Serenity”)
A companion differs from a common whore in that she is hired for more than simply the pleasures of the flesh; she is hired for the pleasures of the heart, mind, and soul as well. A true companion is trained to be able to read her clients as easily as she reads a book, to be able to dig deeper than the surface and search out the parts of them they keep hidden underneath and find meaning in it. She can figure out their fears and desires; soothe the fears, deliver the desires.
This is how Inara knows that Mal is lost in the woods, even when he refuses to admit it to himself, and how she can tell it’s his stubbornness that keeps him there. He finds comfort being on his own away from the confines of society, sense, and reason. He makes his own way in this world, keeping his friends near and yet being light-years away from them, denial keeping him from having to accept the truths that he doesn’t want to: the truth that the Alliance won the war, the truth that the war is even over, the truth that when the woman he loves leaves his ship, she is going to spend her time with countless other men, sharing her talents with them instead of him. For him, it’s safer in the woods, where he’s too far lost in the thick of the trees and the darkness to be able to see the truth so he doesn’t have to deal with the bitter realities of a life slipping past him unlived; but she wishes he’d let her get close enough to lead him back home.