TITLE: More Than A Companion
SUMMARY: Inara is hired by a mysterious loner to live with him for a month. The details of her stay will be made known only upon arrival.
NOTES: Set before Firefly, the series, Fifthteenth Entry in the August Fic-A-Day Challenge at Twisted Shorts
DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the characters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and/or Angel the Series, they belong to Fox, the WB/UPN, Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc. The characters of Firefly belong to Fox, Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc. The ideas and concepts in this story are mine entirely. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
Inara swallowed down her fear and nodded to the crewman as she descended the craft. Her client had paid for her trip and had given her fifty percent of her fee up front. She had been guaranteed that should she not feel comfortable that she would be given another twenty-five percent and sent on her way. The greedy side of her had convinced her that coming here was a good idea. She watched as her favorite foods and a month’s worth of her personal items were loaded on a smaller hovercraft to be taken up to the estate.
She surveyed the planet and was impressed. It was lush, clearly terraformed to sustain human life, but it was like none she had ever seen. This planet was teeming with life and Inara swore she could feel it in her soul. It was rumored, around the House, that her client was the sole owner of this planet. Everyone had a story about the man that lived alone and secluded from the world, but Inara had not bothered to listen to any of them. He had handpicked her out of plenty of other companions at The Guild. His record was pristine; he wasn’t even a small blip on the Alliance radar. Should anything happen to her there would be swift retribution on her behalf, of that she was sure.
The ride from the craft landing zone to the estate took awhile. The forest they maneuvered through had animals she had only read about. How this man had managed to not only collect, but keep these animals was beyond her. Finally the craft arrived at the estate, and pulled into a designated area at the back of the house.
“Please, follow me,” the driver suggested and held his hand out for her. She spared a quick look at his oil-stained fingers and grimaced slightly. She accepted his hand, gently placing her white-gloved hand in his as he assisted her out of the craft.
“Thank you,” she acknowledged him with a slight bow of her head and shoulder. He nodded once and started removing a few small items from the craft. There was an empty, running craft waiting a few feet away from their craft.
“This is it for me, M’am,” he told and tilted his head toward the empty, waiting craft. “We’ll be back in a month to collect you and bring new supplies. If there are any problems we’ll send the closest ship to pick you up, but we don’t expect you’ll be having any problems,” he added and offered her a tight smile. “I expect he’s waiting for you, so I won’t keep you waiting. It’s a pleasure, M’am,” he excused himself and climbed aboard the craft. He was gone before Inara could even give her farewells.
She slowly turned, looking for the entrance to the house. The door opened at the top of the stairs to reveal a handsome man in his late twenties, early thirties. His brown hair was cut short, spiking out in many different directions. His outfit was done in black from his boots to his shirt. He smiled at her and looked completely harmless, but something under Inara’s skin was tingling. Something wasn’t quite right about this man.
“Madam Serra, I’m glad to see you made the trip,” he spoke as he descended the stairs and crossed the distance between them.
Inara curtsied before him and offered him a dazzling smile. “The trip was good and it is a pleasure to be here,” she replied. “Perhaps if I might ask, how would you care for me to address you?” she added, looking him in the eye and waited for an answer.
“You may call me Angel, if you’ll allow me to address you as Inara,” he answered with a genuine smile. There was teasing there that she didn’t understand. He treated her as if he knew her, but she was most certain she had never met this man before.
“A fair trade,” she consented.
“Please, if you’ll accompany me inside I would like to go over the terms of your stay before the ship truly leaves. If you are uncomfortable with what I am to propose then you’ll be free to leave immediately, and you will be paid as promised.” He gestured toward the stairs he had just come down.
“Certainly,” Inara agreed and moved toward the stairs. She only hoped that today would not be the last day of her life.