Title: Much too Soft
Pairing: imagined Mal/Inara
Summary: But she isn’t the one on his mind at these moments, so there’s no shame in it, either.
He tells himself that it isn’t her, that what he imagines is nothing familiar, nothing he knows, or something, someone, from years past, from his youth, idealized in the subsequent failing of memory. The point is that it isn’t her.
He closes his eyes and allows himself submersion in half-remember images of flesh and dark eyes, phantom touches of soft soft skin. The indulgence is brief, as it must be, but it is necessary. A man can only take so much, go so long, without giving vent to these things.
He handles himself roughly and does not think of her. The ghost scents of incense and silk drift innocently in his perception only because he has cleaned out her shuttle today. The hands he imagines tracing his spine belong to noone. The breasts his mind shows him are too full to be hers. The legs that are not wrapped around his waist are too thin, too pale. The mouth that is nowhere whispers too softly.
His climax is surprising and painful, as, it seems, are most thing for him. It is punishment as much as relief, and he takes no pleasure in it. But she isn’t the one on his mind at these moments, so there’s no shame in it, either. He does this quickly, as needed and without over-much consideration; his clothes are resettled in a matter of seconds.
He will go up to the bridge soon, but he allows himself a minute more and now he does think of her. He wonders whether she has gotten to wherever she was headed and if she is really so much happier there than with Serenity. He imagines that she is smiling in that way that she has and thinks of the things she left. He thinks of the melodic swish of her skirts and of the times when her name catches in his throat and shatters as it trips over his tongue; it is much too delicate a thing to be couched in his ungraceful mouth.
But this he shoves aside as he pulls himself onto the ladder. It doesn’t do to dwell, not when there’s work to be done, and, on this ship, there’s always work to be done. He won’t think of her and he won’t speak on the matter. Because, he tells himself, none of it means a damn thing.