The Soul to Crown

by templemarker

Notes: Day 7 in the 12 Days of Ficlets holiday challenge.

***

Inara closed her eyes. Though decadence was her tool of trade, she rarely afforded it to herself outside of the necessities of her work. Long baths, thick, expensive creams, rare silks and brocades: all these were welcomed, expected of her. But rarely did she let her eyes slip shut and see the things she could not have.

Today was different; today she had been refused entrance onto the world they orbited because of some outdated law the Prefect of the main city delivered with a crooked leer. She had fought with Mal, which, while nothing new, tried her patience more than it normally would have; and when she returned to her shuttle, she discovered River painting pictures with her rouge.

It was not an easy day, even for one accustomed to enduring that which does not always please.

And so her eyes slipped shut: and behind them she saw the planet of her childhood, the dusty roads she played on as a child and the cat who followed her around warily.

She saw herself bent over textbooks and information dockets, outmoded glasses perched on her nose, laughing with a friend over an example in the text.

She saw a small house on an open prairie, and Mal slipping his arms about her waist, and two children running between them, to play laughing in the dusty roads.

Only on days when she couldn’t bear any longer to push the wishes and dreams she tamped down did she hide away like this, lost and frustrated with the Inara That Was.

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