Speaking of which, Nandi wanders around the room and changes the subject to Inara. She talks about how great Inara is. Mal agrees. Nandi is obviously feeling Mal out to try to determine if there's a connection between him and Inara, but Mal, of course, is oblivious. As he always is about Inara. Nandi asks if Mal knows why Inara left the guild house and struck out on her own. Mal doesn't know. Neither does Nandi, because Nandi left the guild, permanently, long before Inara took off. Nandi talks about how Inara had some sort of ambitions to be a "priestess" -- and I don't even want to know what that companion-related euphemism means -- before she left. She declares that Inara is "special," and that she and Mal have certain personality traits in common, like not wanting "complications." Mal, of course, misses all the subtlety. You need to give Mal a condom and say, "Inara is in Room 312. Go have sex with her now. Idiot." That's the only way it's going to happen.
Inara herself is down helping Simon deliver Petaline's baby. River is there, too. There's the typical contraction, don't bear down, blah blah blah baby-cakes. Inara serves as a nurse, wiping Petaline's brow and getting medicines for Simon. She asks Simon how many babies he's delivered. He admits that this will be his first. Inara says it will also be her first. River adds that it's her first, too. Simon and Inara give River a look, because I guess it's normal for companions to help deliver babies? Inara insists that Simon's a great doctor and gives him a little peck on the cheek. River watches Petaline and asks, "Who do you think is in there?" Because she's crazy. Or possibly she believes in reincarnation.
Back in Nandi's room, Nandi is explaining to Mal that the dulcimer drove her out of the companion academy. As it would any sane person. Mal jokingly asks her if she killed a dulcimer in a heat of passion. It turns out she did. She was constantly practicing the thing, and her instructor kept telling her that she was just "playing" some piece, not "feeling" it. Finally she just picked the dulcimer up and smashed it. As would any sane person. So, she realized the life of a companion was just a bit too constricting, and left to become a plain old whore who doesn't have to play pretentious music and just has sex for money. Mal laughs as Nandi refills his glass with some more booze. Is it sexist against men for me to point out that booze will probably seduce more men than some stupid dulcimer anyway? Nandi blathers a bit about the man who ran Heart of Gold before she arrived, so she really didn't build it with her own two hands or whatever. Anyway, he was an ass, and she took care of him in some sort of vague, unexplored fashion. Mal finishes his drink and starts flirting with Nandi. She starts flirting back. Mal realizes where this is going and pauses, saying he should check the barricades. Nandi interrupts him to tell him that everyone's asleep. There's more banter. They get closer, closer, closer. There's a reference to Book. Ick. Closer. Finally, they kiss. She asks him if he's okay with the kiss. He says, "I'm just waiting to see if I pass out. Long story." As I recall, way too long. Nandi says she wants to sleep with Mal. Mal agrees. Nandi stops him short for a moment when she says, "I ain't her." Mal says that it's only going to be the two of them (meaning he's not thinking of anybody else). It's unclear whether or not Mal realizes she meant Inara and not Saffron. But I'm going to guess Saffron, of course. There's more sex dialogue about remembering where things go and taking it slow.