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Disclaimer: Firefly and all related elements, characters and indicia Mutant Enemy Productions and 20th Century Fox Television, 2003. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situations -- save those created by the author for use solely on this website -- are copyright Mutant Enemy Productions and 20th Century Fox Television.

Notes: Written for the Serenity-Not-Quite-Now Challange. Thanks to emeraldsedai for a thoughtful and shiny beta.

Spoilers for Heart of Gold.


by liquideyes

The careful artifice was gone; the rich wall hangings, cushions, suggestively placed vases, the artful misdirection from the unfashionable curve of the wall and the harsh metallic shuttle-shine. Inara was the only reflection they should have been able to see. She had been, once. That was gone. Stripped meticulously, deliberately, coldly. Never hurled in anger, though that might have made folding her last year into trunks easier. Taking nothing (hearts could not be taken, or so she told herself), leaving less.

Goodbyes had been said the night before. Small trinkets of remembrance (but nothing that had actual meaning beyond a pretty or useful object) given, along with words that were meant as comfort but were as echo-y-hollow as the almost empty shuttle. She thought she might let herself cry, that final night. Instead she sat, straining for the sounds of anyone else not sleeping. She almost expected Kaylee (or Mal) to knock (or barge in). They did not.

In the small-hours she painted on her mask, dressed in her armour of silks, and locked the last trunk. Nothing left but her, empty herself

She pretended she hadn't waited too long, and resolutely (no glance back) pushed open the shuttle door.

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