What it Means to Be a Wife

by Rysler

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Kaylee knocked quietly at Inara's shuttle.

"Come in, Kaylee," called Inara.

Kaylee pushed open the door. "How'd you know it was me?"

Inara was sitting on the edge of the bed. She smiled at Kaylee. "It's your knock."

"I have a knock?"

"And a beautiful blush."

Kaylee raised her hand to her cheek. "I didn't see you at dinner."

"I guess I don't feel very comfortable around Saffron." Inara sighed.

Kaylee stepped further into the shuttle. "Inara is she... Is that how a wife's supposed to act?"

Inara met Kaylee's eyes. "Do you think so?"

"It's just... She seems so certain of it. But I ain't never encountered someone like her before. She taught me how to cook what she was making for Mal..."

"I saw," Inara said.

"You saw?"

"I... didn't mean to spy. I saw you with her. Her hands... guiding yours. I thought--"

Kaylee giggled. "You thought... what? That Saffron was making the moves on me? She's Mal's wife."

"She's more than meets the eye, Kaylee."

"I know that." Kaylee settled onto the bed. "But I ain't... I mean... You always taught me that being a woman is about choosing who to love, and enjoying finery and art and men. And that's kinda what I already knew. But Saffron says its all backwards."

Inara leaned back on her elbows. "Kaylee, why do you feel you need to learn anything from Saffron?"

"I'm not anybody's wife. And I'm sure not anybody's Companion."

"Kaylee... What emotions do you see, when you look at her?"

"Emotions? Well... She's scared. Of everything. And sometimes she gets angry. Like at Zoe, or you." Kaylee wrinkled her nose.

"What is it?"

"She doesn't like other women much, does she?"

Inara laughed. "No."

"Does she think we're going to steal Mal from her?"

"Don't we have more of his heart?"

Kaylee stretched out, next to Inara, on her side. "Yeah, but... He knows us. He could get to know her, too."

"And she could know us. Think of her getting to know you."

Kaylee blushed.

Inara cupped her cheek. "You're not anyone's anyone. You're a wonderful woman, and a tender lover, and a good friend."

"I'm not sure Saffron has any friends."

Inara's fingers stilled on Kaylee's jaw. "Do you want to be her friend?"

Kaylee's eyes widened. She laughed. "Inara! You're jealous."

"Companions don't get jealous."

"Friends do," Kaylee said, rolling onto her back. "You're jealous. Of Mal's wife."

"I'm not jealous because she's Mal's wife."

Kaylee propped her hands behind her head, and grinned. "No?"

"No." Inara leaned over Kaylee, and kissed her. Her lips brushed Kaylee's mouth twice, and retreated so that Inara could see Kaylee's face.

Kaylee kissed the corner of Inara's lips. "I ain't interested in getting to know Saffron like I know you, Inara. And neither is she."

"Neither is she?"

"I asked." Kaylee smiled smugly.

Inara wrinkled her brow.

Kaylee stretched, arching up to press her body against Inara's. "Show me just how jealous you aren't."

Inara slid her arm under Kaylee's back, to pull her closer. She purred into Kaylee's ear, "I think you know all you need to know about being a woman."

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