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“So how does it feel —” asks the interviewer, “being such a convincing shipped couple that you’re making hearts flutter throughout the ‘Verse?” His smile is a little teasing, a little knowing, and a lot, if Kaylee knows her co-star — and that’s a point to be fought over on another day — setting Inara’s teeth on edge behind the unshatterable poise of her fixed facade.

“Well”, begins Kaylee, leaning forward and slightly across Inara to reach the interviewer’s mic. The movement brings her right thigh to rest gently against Inara’s left knee as she does so, the hem of her thin dress inching further up her thigh at the friction. The moment brings forth a gasp, as well as a few muted squeals, from the otherwise well-behaved audience as the event staff signal for quiet with polite but frantic hand motions. 

Kaylee smiles up at their audience of breathless teenage girls and women, a sweet smile, of course. She reaches up to tuck a strand of hair that’s come loose from her messy styled bun back behind her ear, even as she feels that damned inescapable blush rising hotly up her chest and face and burns to conceal it somehow, impossible in the strapless, summer dress she’s wearing. 

And then Inara — finally taking her cue, how unlike her to be a beat late in the movements of this, or any, dance —  slides her left arm around Kaylee’s back and hooks her hand around her slim waist, the movement subtly intensifying the press of their legs against each other, the pace of camera shutter clicks and flashes, the rising, excited murmur of the crowd of people that surrounds them. 

“Well”, Kaylee tries again. Her posture now hints at the possibility of easing back to rest into Inara’s taller, broader frame, while they maintain the tantalising separation of her chest from Inara’s back at a distance of mere, enormous inches. She smiles again, and this time it’s directed at Inara, a blinding smile, of course. Inara smiles back, the slight tilt of her lips mysterious, the look in her eyes so scalding that Kaylee can feel it physically melting away all her polish, leaving her head empty of the practised line that she knows she must recite on this occasion.

“Well”, Kaylee is near desperate now, the audience cooing supportively at how very obviously flustered she is, but then Inara steps in, and this beat is familiar, too, even if it’s unplanned on this occasion: the green, blushing newcomer from the outer planets, pleasingly unmannered and shockingly talented; the calm, enigmatic former Companion,  dangerously gentle and stunningly graceful.

“I think what Kaylee wants to express”, says Inara, “is our gratefulness to our lovely fans for thinking of us this way. If you see us as a couple, we think that means we’ve done our work well, served you well.” She is sitting up to speak into the mic, pulling Kaylee further across by her tight hold at her waist. Her chest is pressing against Kaylee’s back, their faces so close that her beautiful dark curls are tangling with the wispy brown baby hairs falling out of Kaylee’s bun. 

“Isn’t that right, Xiao Mei Mei?”, Inara asks, almost directly into Kaylee’s ear. Kaylee shivers, struggles to think of anything but the feel of Inara’s breasts against her back, what might or might not be the press of her nipples she can feel through the thin cotton of her own dress and the thick velvet of Inara’s. The screams of the audience continue to crescendo into a terrifying wall of sound. 

“That’s right, Inara”, she manages to get out, shaky and barely audible above the roar, which rises afresh at her (bold? casual? intimate) use of her senior’s first name. “We are so thankful to our fans for thinking of us this way.”

Kaylee smiles again, and this time it’s directed at the audience, a tremulous and thankful smile, of course. “We hope you’ll stay with us — together — for a long time.”



Inara isn’t sure how she first finds herself in this position: undignified, unbefitting of her past station, her training, everything about herself which she knows to be true. She knows it’s something about the breathtaking ease with which Kaylee is so beautiful, so natural, and so unaware of it — if anything, far too aware of her imagined flaws. 

And the way Kaylee looks at Inara, those honest eyes burning with a heady combination of lust, and curiosity, and hero worship (“My co-star! A real live Companion ! Well, gosh!”, and it somehow, ludicrously, hadn’t been an act). It’s the lust, Inara thinks, unwilling to admit the possibility that there might be anything more gentle or permanent than that in Kaylee’s gaze when it’s on her, taking in the way the habitually plunging necklines of her exquisite clothing reveal the firm sides of her breasts, or the curl of her perfectly coiffed hair, or the deep red bow of her lips.

On Sihnon, we started training at twelve, years of discipline and preparation before the physical act of pleasure was even mentioned”, Inara says, aware of the ludicrousness of these words coming from her lips as her hands carefully massage scented oil into Kaylee’s naked back.

“That’s — how — fascinating”, Kaylee mumbles into the pillow beneath her face. She’s practically boneless already.

“Control was the first lesson, and the last”, Inara continues, rubbing practised fingers over the knots of tension in Kaylee’s shoulders and back, feeling herself getting wetter with every satisfied moan that her — co-star? sister? friend — lets out. She tells herself to focus as she works her fingers from Kaylee’s back to her sides, and then tentatively traces them down the sides of her breasts. 

Inara knows how to incite desire, knows how to make its fulfilment pleasurable, knows how to do both with perfect control over herself, and it’s baffling that it should be some farmgirl mechanic from a nothing planet (who is also the sweetest girl she’s ever met) who riles her up so hard that before she even really knows what she’s doing, she’s sliding her hands underneath Kaylee’s body, grasping at her small, perfect breasts. Kaylee shouts into the pillow, her fingers coming up to squeeze at it as she presses herself down more firmly into Inara’s hold. Inara smoothes her hands over Kaylee’s breasts, pulling at her nipples. 

It’s overwhelming, finally having her hands on Kaylee without the barrier of cameras and staff and direction, but it’s also not nearly enough. She turns Kaylee over roughly, takes in the sight of her shocked, wanting face, her breasts glossy with oil, nipples reddened and stiff. Kaylee smiles up at her and she looks tentative, but hopeful, and that’s not something Inara wants to think about right now. 

Inara brings her hands quickly to Kaylee’s breasts once again, unable to keep from touching or from rubbing her thumbs over her nipples with absolutely no finesse, hungry eyes taking in the way Kaylee moans and jerks into the touch. She leans down to kiss her, biting down gently on Kaylee’s lower lip and licking into her mouth when it opens on a gasp. 

Kaylee kisses back enthusiastically, but Inara needs her to follow here, not try to match her. She pulls away from the kiss abruptly and leans down to suck at Kaylee’s nipples as she skates the fingers of her right hand down her soft stomach to her pussy. Kaylee is — so wet — and Inara gets two fingers into her straight away, thumb rubbing near her clit as she gauges her sensitivity to the touch. 

Inara herself is so wet she can feel it soaking through her underwear, squeezing her thighs together to try to relieve the desperate edge of her tension. Inara, who once spent almost all three days of an extended weekend with one of her loveliest, most beautiful clients working her up to a fever pitch of arousal before finally taking her over the edge on that last night, and taking nothing for herself. Inara, who even at the height of her own pleasure with her own clients kept a firm grasp on each movement and sound she allowed to escape from within her. Inara, moaning around Kaylee’s nipples at the warm taste of her and the soft wetness of her cunt around Inara’s fingers. What is she doing?

What is she doing?

Inara pulls her head back, looks at Kaylee’s face — overwhelmed, tear-stained, but somehow still smiling. She thrusts her fingers within her one, twice, more unable to resist, and then draws them out slowly. Runs her wet, trembling fingers up Kaylee’s soft stomach and the side of her breast before finally pulling away her touch.   

“Control was my first lesson, and my last”, she repeats, her voice husky with barely restrained pain and desire as she turns around and walks away. It’s never been less true, or less relevant, to who she is.



“And is that all you really are to each other”, asks the interviewer, “just a shipped couple? Can any shipped couple really be that convincing, winning over fans from the Core to the Rim, all planets alike?” His smile is a little insinuating, a little over-familiar, and a lot, if Kaylee knows her girlfriend — and that’s a subject for pointless bickering on plenty of other days — causing Inara’s beautifully painted nails to dig harsh crescents into her soft palms behind the gleaming calm of her outward posture.

“Well”, says Kaylee, leaning forward and slightly across Inara to reach the interviewer’s mic. Nearly two years into this, a small part of her thinks, and they still assume the one who plays the bottom on screen won’t ever be the one who speaks up first off-screen, despite all evidence she’s provided to the contrary. 

Kaylee’s hair doesn’t fall across her face this time, the glossy waves held firmly in place by a quantity of hairspray that must make her a walking fire hazard. From the polished casual hair to the screamingly understated designer boiler suit she’s wearing — straight from Sihnon Fashion Week, darling, long before it’s available in anything so commonplace as a shop — her team really have honed her signature Outer Planets, But Make It Princess look into an art form. The actual scream she had let out upon seeing the price of the damn outfit was just by the by.

It’s amazing, the freedom she has to think these days, now that the motions of this dance are entirely memorised (memorised, wonder of wonders, by as awkward a personage as Kaywinnet Lee Frye, whose teen years had been less blushing romance and school dances and more bunking off to fix engines and suck dick (Kaylee was always one for multitasking) until that chance sighting by a talent scout with a Firefly-class ship in sudden need of repair.

Kaylee is careful not to touch Inara at all, can feel the tension of that denial in the hushed held breath of their audience and the slight blush that spreads, invisible at anything but the most intimate distance, across the tops of Inara’s cheeks. But then Inara leans forward, slides her left hand into Kaylee’s right, their fingers entwining (by instinct? habit? desire) and arms pressed together. 

Kaylee turns towards Inara without thinking, face upturned. She smiles, a smile so brilliant it ripples out in little mirrors of itself across her captive audience, none more captivated than the woman whose hand she is holding. Inara smiles back, elusive pressed tight twist of her lips, the banked-fire-burn of her gaze so intense that Kaylee can feel it physically pierce into the heart of her, spreading honey warm through her now trembling fingers and the tips of her toes. Kaylee has no idea what her own face is doing, has no thought to spare for anything but the barely controlled wildness in Inara’s eyes, but then Inara breaks her gaze away suddenly.

“I think what we want to say is, well, what we always say”, begins Inara abruptly, shattering the moment’s store of pent up silence as her blush deepens into visibility, “We are sisters who love each other very much. Kaylee is my — my Xiao Mei Mei.”

“And you”, cuts in Kaylee, who has learnt her own lessons in the last two years about control, and loss of control, and the thinness to which the high wire of plausible deniability can be shaved while still holding both of their weight, “are my Inara.”

The audience sighs audibly, satiated by the sweetness of the sentiment despite its scripted substance leaving something of an aftertaste, more bittersweet than sour. The story is one they love so much, even if it’s planned on this occasion: the forthright, funny youngster from the outer planets, unaware (or is she?) of the legions of hearts she breaks every day because the one heart she cares about is so obviously hers to break, or cherish, as she will; the wise, acerbic former Companion, dangerous to all others, gentle only to one who takes it as her due.

“My Xiao Mei Mei, whom I love the most”, continues Inara, and her blush has cooled but she’s still looking at a point ever so slightly to the left of Kaylee’s eyes, “let’s stay together for a long time.”

Inara rubs her thumb softly over the back of Kaylee’s hand as she speaks, and Kaylee shivers, still, despite the familiarity of that touch. The hum and buzz of their fans is a comforting background murmur, mere white noise at this point to Kaylee, whatever its volume.

Kaylee smiles again, and this time it takes in both the audience and Inara, a loving, vulnerable smile, of course. “Let’s stay together — forever”, she replies.