A brief coda to "Our Mrs. Reynolds."
No dough, no foul.
High on your victory over an unarmed, half-naked whore--your ex-wife--you come to Inara to gloat. First mistake, right there.
"I need a sovereign," your would-be wife had said. At least, it sounded that way at the time. Could have been, "My name is Saffron."
You think you can be gracious, coming here and complimenting your own pet companion on her grace. But why does she follow you? There must be less dangerous ways to rent a shuttle, and more sophisticated landlords. Why you? Whatever her original reason, she's seemed so annoyed lately--why does she stay?
"You know I'm to cleave to you," the girl whose name was never really Saffron had said.
You came to Inara to gloat, not to give away compliments. Go ahead, ask her about tripping and falling. You have a theory and you're gonna stick to it, come Alliance or Reavers. But aiya tian-ah, why are you thinking of Reavers right now?
"He makes everybody cry. He's like a monster," Kaylee said, when your wife pretended to cry.
You know her story doesn't add up. Inara didn't confront your wife in your cabin, over your drugged body, and still kiss her, but then she didn't kiss her in the hall and then somehow reach your cabin--unless Saffron's lips were worn down like a Reaver's and not so poisonous anymore. Aiya huaile, the Reavers again!
"A special hell," the preacher said. He damned you to a special hell, and though your wife was a murderous whore not an innocent babe you're still burning in it.
You came to Inara to ask, and you ask her about tripping and falling, before you can think too hard about it. You expected pride, defensiveness, but it's not what you see. In her eyes, you see fear. For all that education, it's one emotion she can't fake or hide. Or she chooses not to.
"It's my specialty," Inara said. Washing feet, like your wife, in your little tortured dream of domesticity.
You feel the fear too, but you can hide it. You sense the Reavers of the mind breathing down your neck, but you can smile. That's your own speciality, whistling in a graveyard. You know why Reavers: there's an idea here that if you look upon it, will shatter your mind. There is a temptation greater than playing house with Saffron, more infectious than her painted-on innocence, more dangerous than her murderous hobby. If you see it, there is no closing your eyes ever after. The only way to live is not to see. To turn away. Now, before it's too late.
"I knew you let her kiss you," you say.
Will she buy it, that you're as stupid as Jayne? You have to turn away, walk away, and be that dumb. You never look the Reavers in the eye; you look away, you hope they'll pass. And then you pretend it never happened. If you want to stay sane.