"I don't understand the point of this," he says.
"The point is to prove that you trust me, Mal," Inara answers, deftly making the last knot in the silk rope that held him to her bed. "You said that you did."
"I do," he says, then catches her unconvinced stare. "I do. But this just seems a mite unnecessary."
She smiles softly, runs her fingers along his bare torso. "You'll like it. Trust me. I wouldn't really hurt you."
"I know," he answers, and she glances at him, like maybe he's a little too sure.
"But if I...if you want me to stop, just say..."
"Stop?" he suggests helpfully.
"No. Well, you can. But I might not. If you really want me to stop, say...say serenity."
"This don't make no sense," he grumbles.
She gets up and walks out.
He watches her leave, graceful as always, like she's walking on air. He's starting to wonder just what he's agreed to. He's made love to Inara many times in the past weeks, but still doesn't reckon he knows her. Doesn't know what she's thinking. What she wants. What she's thinking about outside the shuttle, what she's planning.
But the possibilities are starting to run through his head, like a vid on loop, making his cock twitch.
He's not sure if it's been two minutes or two hours when she finally returns. She stands at the foot of the bed, looking at him, like she's making up her mind about something.
"Gotta tell you," he says, "so far, this is kinda boring."
She glances down at the growing erection that is contradicting his words. She doesn't say anything.
"And these ain't even that tight," he moves his hands to indicate the restraints. "Reckon I could get free with no trouble."
So he tries, with a grunt and a burst of strength, but only succeeds in shaking the headboard.
"I know what I'm doing, Mal." She sits beside him. "You're not exactly the first man I've tied to that bed."
"Course not." He's angry now. "Any well-trained whore such as yourself..."
She slaps him, full across the face with the back of her hand, so hard that he groans in pain. "There you are. You've been so nice to me these last few weeks. I was starting to wonder where you'd gone. It kills you to be nice to me, doesn't it?"
"It does when you're acting like a..." he stops himself.
"Oh, don't stop now. Like a what?"
She laughs gently, in the back of her throat. "Yes. You're definitely here. Arrogant si-sheng-zi. Tell me what else."
He wants to grab her, to hold her down and make her stop talking. But he shakes the headboard, and he can't get free. "Inara. We shouldn't."
She slaps him again, harder this time. "What else?"
"Slut," he says between clenched teeth. "Whore."
Then she reaches down, touches his cock, hard and straining against his pants. This time bears no resemblance to the times before. Her palm rubs against him with a harsh, mechanical rythmn, hard and fast.
"Whore," he moans again, and then only a few short strokes of her hand and he comes.
She's lighting candles, dozens of them. He hates the candles, they make him feel like...well, like he's in a whorehouse. He's told her as much.
"Inara," he says quietly, but it doesn't seem to get her attention. "Inara," louder this time. "I'm sorry."
She's ignoring him. So he sits there, quiet, watching her. He can still feel his own wetness, rubbing against him inside his pants. He wants to touch her.
She steps back from the last candle and begins to remove her robe. The flickering light bounces off her pale honey skin, off long limbs, smooth round breasts.
She crosses the room and climbs on top of him, straddling him gently. Then she leans forward, and kisses him. It's a sweet kiss, gentle, and he's so surprised that he's grateful. Softly he kisses her back, tongue probing wet and hot inside her mouth. Ages go by before she pulls away. He's breathing hard.
"You seem nervous," she whispers.
"Maybe a mite."
"I told you I wouldn't really hurt you."
"You'll forgive me, but I ain't seen no evidence of that so far."
She runs her hands over his broad shoulders, down his chest, against his nipples, making him gasp. "Believe me, Mal, when I assure you that it could be worse."
He does believe her, and so does his cock, starting to rise again underneath her. She notices, and smiles.
"Maybe I shouldn't have held back."
"Maybe you should remember that you'll have to untie me eventually."
Her eyes crinkle at the threat, laughing. She continues to tease him, fingers still brushing his nipples, pink and hard underneath her touch.
She reaches up, tracing the outline of his mouth, then slips two fingers inside. He sucks gently, tastes the salt of her skin on his tongue. Her fingers are wet and slick when she pulls them away, rubs against him, leaving a trail of wetness on his chest.
He moans, beginning to relax. She draws her tongue along the right nipple, then the left, then repeats, over and over. His cock is throbbing hard, the only thing he can think about, separated from her only by a simple stretch of fabric.
Her mouth is moving downwards, stopping a moment in the hollow of his chest. Then against his hip, just above the waistband of his pants, the soft gentle pressure of her tongue, then something hard and sharp.
"Inara," he demands, "did you just bite me?"
Her only response is to do it again, harder this time. He groans, and she laughs. She straightens up, shifting her weight so that she can strip away his pants and throw them onto the floor.
With her hips she guides herself onto him, soft and wet. She shifts, his cock inside her, movements so slow as to be barely noticeable. He's dying, he's sure of it, this is what dying feels like, being joined to her, so close and unable to move.
She grinds against him again, then again, over and over, several beats between each thrust. Then she closes her eyes, tilts her head back, and she's climaxing, climaxing hard, shuddering and shaking as he watches.
"Inara," he whispers.
And then she leans forwards, so that there's no more space between them. She pushes her tongue between his lips, and it's happening again, she's trembling like a leaf, moaning into his mouth as she comes.
He wants so badly to touch her.
"You're so beautiful," he whispers as she pulls her head away.
She smiles, gently. "Say it again."
"You're so beautiful. Mei-li. Inara..." his voice drops to a cracked, desperate, whisper, "please."
She reaches around him, holding on. And then she jerks her hips against him, thrusting, hard and fast, until he spills inside her with a whimper.
"I'm sorry," he brushes aside her hair to whisper in her ear. "The things I said, I - I didn't mean 'em."
She is cradled in his arms, almost asleep. "Neither did I."
"Yes, you did."
He heaves a silent sigh. There's no winning with her, never has been. And there's nobody else, nobody that can make him feel this full, this drained, this...
"I love you," he tells her in the darkness.
"I love you too," she answers softly. "Go to sleep."