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Inside, Zoe is the same first mate as yesterday, as five days ago, a month. As far back as Serenity. If you thought she didn't react properly, if she didn't break your heart, I haven't done my job. "Sir, we have a green light. Inspection's poz, and we're clear for up-thrust." He considers her, his opposite, his other, his sister, his best friend. Artemis to his Apollo. "Think she'll hold together?" She swallows, and tells the truth, answering his real question, and not the question he's pretending to ask. "She's tore up plenty. But she'll fly true." He looks at her with more love than you've seen on his face. More than Inara, more than Kaylee, more than River, she is him. He responds to "him," whether it's another person, or a whole family. "Make sure everything's secure. Could be bumpy." She heads out, funny as ever. Strong as anything. "Always is." They clean up. They reload.
Mal finds Inara in the quarter corridors -- which is, I hasten to point out, just off the common area, the family location, and nowhere near her shuttle, where "Inara the renter," the faintly appalled, better-than-this Companion, belongs. "Taking her out. Should be about a day's ride to get you back to your girls." She nods, searching his face, even though this is one of those rare times where he's asking. "Right." He almost smiles. "Ready to get off this heap, back to civilized life?" She looks at him, long, and hard, and bravely. "I, uh...I don't know." He smiles. And I mean he smiles. If you've got her back, for yourself, if she's willing to fight it out, that is one thing. But if she's back in the family, in the crew? "Good answer." She smiles back. He turns to leave, and she watches him go, smiling to herself. She is full of joy. Morena Baccarin, you know, is the kind of pretty that gets bored when you tell her she's pretty, because she already knows, dude. Perfect body, perfect skin, perfect smile, perfect eyes, perfect beauty. You don't get to thirty still giggling about that shit. You take it as a compliment and you keep walking. So when I tell you she is beautiful in this moment, really beautiful, I want you to know what I mean. She is lit by a light less harsh than Miranda. She has found her place, a healer like Simon but better, and she has found her heart. And she has knocked on the door, and the answer is good. She is beautiful in this moment.