Phantasmagoria (Inara/Cordelia, R)

Probably not the most appropriate title for the week we finish fantas_magoria's mission. But it fits...

Title Phantasmagoria
Author Brutti ma buoni
Pairing Inara/Cordelia
Rating R
Prompt In the Firefly round at femslash_minis for clockwork_hart1, who wanted "extraordinary", heroism, chocolate
Words 600
Warnings This isn’t a very nice story; kind of dub con, though who exactly isn’t consenting could be debated. It also plays with fannish rumour about Inara and her intended fate, which may I guess be Jossed by the new Firefly comic. It also suggests something about Cordelia’s role that may stray from canon, or may just be about the way history sometimes tells accidental lies.

At the Houses, they learn about the heroes of old. The women who made Companions who they are. The women who made women who they are, overcoming the foolish old ways of ‘male supremacy’ to bring recognition of civilisation’s power. The penis is not all.

No, indeed.

(Inara smiles, internally and externally, when they are told this, in all solemnity.)

She likes to dream, does Inara Serra, of the heroes of old. Of Florianne and Wing-Mei, and Nkezi and Triss. But her favourite is Cordelia Chase. The portraits alone are quite stimulating. The legend: outstanding. The woman who took on a demon form, who mothered a demon and yet survived. Barely, but she survived, and she fought, and she won. The woman whose story inspires generations and millennia. Her name will endure.

In all honesty, it’s more that Inara loves the remnants of Cordelia, perhaps. She leaves more traces than most of the heroes, though she’s older than most. More recordings, certainly more photographs. Even some of her clothes, preserved like the rest at the Wolfram and Hart Museum. Inara has stood, yearning, on one side of cold, unyielding glass. She knows that no vestige of Cordelia can possibly survive on those slippery fabrics, but she longs to touch, to sniff and stroke, anyway. The shoes and handbags; the box of expensive chocolate still sitting awaiting the hero’s tongue (a replica, she is assured – the original sweetness has long since been removed).

Inara has been at the House for over two years when the yearning bears unexpected fruit. A quiet evening to herself, practising her self-pleasuring homework (too easy, these days, it barely holds her attention, and the examiners have begun to notice), and when a voice speaks to her it speaks too clearly from fantasy.

“All this? For me?” It’s a warm voice, and amused, and familiar. And terrifying.

Inara stops, stills slick fingers, lets her jaw flop. Inelegant, but unavoidable on this occasion. “Oh. My. Goddess.”

“Really not,” says Cordelia Chase. “Just a demon girl with a streak of recurrent immortality. So, you know,” she shrugs. “Sometimes, I surprise people.” She pauses, looks down at Inara’s silent, gaping sprawl, and adds, “I’d say I was sorry for interrupting, but the truth is? I wanted to get in here so bad, the Powers that Be even let me come down. Just for you, Inara Serra, you and your silent, gorgeous obsession.”

Inara tries to sit up, but Cordelia is on the bed already, though Inara didn’t see or hear her move. “Nuh uh, you’ve been dreaming of this for so long… Making use of my image to get you off, and really? How flattering is that when you’re as old as me?” She leans down, hands bracketing Inara’s head, and her lips touch Inara’s in a fleeting kiss. She tastes of sweetness, and old age, and something far beyond humanity. And Inara wants to say no, and flee, and yet wants to be here, with the extraordinary made flesh. So she takes that taste into herself, the darkness sinking in deep alongside the sweat and the sweet and the want.
Cordelia is everything she imagined. Beautiful and skilled and sensuous and natural – and old. T¬¬here are moments when she shocks Inara; moments when Inara shocks her. Time out of alignment, sexual courtesies not wholly compatible, and the strangeness of physicality almost overcomes the broader strangeness of anachronism.

And yet, as Cordelia smiles, and Inara suckles at her breast, light and absent in the aftermath of sexual satiety, Inara feels something dark take root inside her. And all Cordelia’s shining smile can’t blot it out.

After, when they tell her how she now carries her death within, she knows how and when the darkness first clawed into her, and she knows that whoever was riding Cordelia Chase that night, her visitor wasn’t the hero she loved.


Ouch, that one stung.

I loved the world you built, though, the way you brought Inara and Cordelia together. Very interesting.

Oh. That's a bit dark and ouchy. And here I thought they were having fun... *sigh* Well done.
I completely adore this. It's dark and sad and beautiful. Both nothing and exactly like what I had in mind.

So very perfect.
Oh, I'm so pleased! Because your prompts sounded happy, and I didn't really mean to go dark, but that seemed to be the way to go after a while. So I'm glad it fitted in the end.
Painful and beautiful. I hadn't seen that final twist coming.

I really love the way you have combined these two women.
This was awesome and dark and beautiful and gorgeous.

I am unfamiliar with the rumor about Inara. Can you shed some light on that for me? I don't mind spoilers.
Oh, there was speculation she might be ill, possibly fatally, and/or unable to have children and/or much older than she seemed and doing something terrible to keep it up. Something to do with the syringe she had in the brothel episode, I think. I can't remember the details. But I'm glad you enjoyed it!
If I recall correctly, the discussion in the 10th anniversary panel(aired on Science channel in the U.S.) confirmed that Inara did have a terminal illness.

Of course, since this was never actually stated on the show, Joss could easily decide to change this for the upcoming comics.