That Funny Feeling
Lese = crappy
Tian xiaode = Heaven knows what
Even though he had considerable experience doing it, Mal Reynolds hated waking up alone.
Before rolling out of his solitary bed, Mal took a moment to bury his face in his lover's pillow. He could detect a faint trace of Simon's scent and Mal resisted the urge to curl up with it. There wasn't a job on the immediate horizon he had to worry about, but lolling about in bed wasn't exactly an example Mal wanted to set for the rest of the crew. With one last sniff of the pillow, he forced himself to leave the bed and start getting ready for the day.
As he dressed, Mal wondered where Simon had gone. No doubt it had something to do with his sister. Mal didn't even remember Simon getting out of bed, a fact which disquieted him. It had been a long time - a very long time - since Mal had been comfortable enough to share his bed with anyone. That he hadn't even awakened when Simon left... that implied a level of trust that was unprecedented.
Mal didn't know he felt about that. It left a strange, wiggling feeling in his stomach and, if there was anything that Mal hated, it was feelings that wiggled.
With that frame of mind, Mal finished dressing and left his quarters. Arriving in the kitchen, he frowned at what he found there.
"I know that protein's at a premium price," Mal drawled to the room's occupants, "but I don't know that we're so hard pressed that we need to be supplementing it this way."
Kaylee giggled. "Zoe's not doin' no substitutin', Cap'n," she said. "She's just cuttin' Wash's hair."
Mal lifted one eyebrow skeptically and looked at his second-in-command with confused exasperation. "I'd think that personal grooming issues such as hair cuttin' would be more Inara's territory than yours, Zoe." He grabbed his mug and the tea pot with a little more vigor than was strictly necessary. When the hot liquid sloshed over the rim, he took more care as he poured himself some.
"I reckon she could," Zoe blithely ignored Mal's attitude, snipping away at Wash's hair with serene contentment. "But some things, a spouse just prefers to do for her mate her own self."
"And, let me just say," Wash piped up, "that you wield your scissors with fearsome precision." The pilot was seated, with a colorful sheet over him to protect his equally colorful shirt from stray hair clippings. It was hard to tell if his comment was his normal lavish praise for his wife or an attempt to keep the flashing scissors away from his ear.
Watching, Mal felt the wiggle in his stomach again, although it was fainter than before. "You got the left side higher than the right," he said facetiously.
Zoe stepped back, contemplating her work. Seeing that it was perfectly straight, she gave Mal a steely look before resuming her task.
"Oh, just ignore ol' Captain Crankypants," Kaylee said cheerfully. "I think it looks shiny. Handsome, even."
"Careful, Wife," Wash said earnestly. "If you make me too beautiful, you'll have to beat my admirers off with a stick."
"I'll keep that in mind, dear," Zoe said calmly, and then made one last snip with the scissors. "There, all done."
"Stand back, oh ye of little faith," Wash cried out. "Stand back lest ye be eclipsed by my newly shorn magnificent self." With a flourish, Wash whipped the sheet off, sending hair clippings all over the room.
Mal moved his mug to protect it from the flying particles. Unfortunately, Kaylee had the same thought and reached for it too, probably hoping to keep Mal's mood from becoming grumpier than it already seemed to be. Their hands met with a muffled thump, causing tea and hair alike to become airborne. Both landed squarely on Mal, soaking him.
"Eee-ah!" Mal cried out as the hot liquid splashed him. He thrust his cup into Kalyee's hands, jerked his suspenders down, and stripped his shirt off in record time. Wash had been in the middle of assuming a heroic-like pose but froze in dismay at the expression on Mal's face. Speechless, the hapless pilot could only gulp.
With brittle dignity, Mal carefully pulled up his suspenders before folding his stained shirt. The others watched him, silently, waiting for the storm to break. Instead, Mal quietly approached Wash, who was still positioned like some sort of absurd statue.
"Seems to me, since all this started on account of your curly locks," Mal said in a perfectly reasonable tone as he draped the shirt over Wash's upturned arm. He ignored the other man's flinch, "That you should be the one to clean up the consequences." Mal started to move away, but stepped back as something occurred to him. Steadying himself on Wash's shoulder, he bent down and tugged off first one boot and then the other. Piling them on top of the shirt already in Wash's arms, Mal patted the other man on the cheek. "Buff these up while you're at it." He started walking away.
"Sir..." Zoe said, a hint of caution in her voice.
Mal waved off her implied warning. "Just get the hair of the dog that bit me off my boots." And then he exited.
Down the corridor and out of sight, Mal allowed himself to grin. He didn't often get the best of his second-in-command, but the look on Zoe's face had been priceless. As for Wash, he looked like he was going to piss himself. Either that, or swallow Zoe's scissors. He noticed that Jayne was coming down the corridor towards him and Mal was tempted to share the joke. He saw the mercenary's appreciative smirk, however, and quickly changed his mind.
"Doc know you're wanderin' around the boat half-nekkid?" Jayne asked, eyebrows wagging.
Mal kept a straight face. "Know? He not only knows, the man requires it." Jayne stopped in confusion and Mal slapped him on the shoulder as he walked past. "Insatiable, that's what Simon Tam is. I'm wearin' myself thin just trying to keep up with him."
Stifling a chuckle, Mal kept on going. Speaking of Simon reminded Mal that he hadn't seen his lover yet that morning. Mal and the wiggling feeling in his belly thought that remedying that oversight immediately was a fine idea. He modified his course to bring him to the infirmary and, once there, stayed outside to observe. Simon was indeed busy with River, focused on yet another round of fussing with her treatment.
Mal loved to watch Simon work. Once, back on Shadow, Mal had seen an avalanche. He'd been perfectly safe on a neighboring hill, but he clearly remembered the terror-filled awe as he watched the jumbled mass of land hurtling down at breakneck speed. Full grown trees and sizeable boulders had been tossed around in its wake, nature's play things.
Sometimes it seemed to Mal that River's insanity was a lot like that avalanche. Big and dangerous, intense and disorganized, madness constantly threatened to barrel down at the girl from the depths of her own mind. Her thoughts and even emotions became so much debris, battering at her fragile psyche like a veritable landslide, threatening to sweep her away. Standing in its path was Simon, determined that his sister would be cured. Knowing his lover as he did, Mal almost felt sorry for the insanity. In the face of Simon's resolve, it didn't stand a chance.
River saw him watching and rolled her eyes at Mal while Simon's back was turned. He grinned in response and raised his eyebrows, asking a question silently. River smiled back, giving him a furtive "thumbs up" sign. Both smile and thumb, however, were gone by the time Simon brought his attention back to her.
Mal chuckled as he moved into position, away from the window and out of Simon's line of sight. It should have bothered him, he supposed, that he found it so easy to communicate with a crazy girl. Mal had known more than his fair share of crazy folk, though, and he knew that River wasn't the average insane person. Besides, she was Simon's sister. That was enough for Mal and his belly wiggle too.
A tornado of giggles and flying hair suddenly thundered past him, ridiculous combat boots making clomping noises as the whirlwind-of-a-girl sped away. A wolfish grin spread across Mal's face as he heard his lover call, "River, come back here!" in an exasperated voice. His fingers twitched in anticipation as he heard Simon leave the infirmary and, by the time doctor got close, Mal was ready.
Simon came into view and Mal pounced. The doctor had been walking with a purposeful stride, concentrating on catching his wayward patient. Simon's distraction, though, was to Mal's benefit. As Simon walked by, Mal wrapped one bare arm around the younger man's waist, swinging him around so his back was to the corridor wall. Mal followed, using his body to press his lover close, pinning Simon in place.
"Well, hello there," Mal purred. He took advantage of Simon's surprise to worm a knee between Simon's legs, making the younger man straddle him.
"Mal, what are you doing?" Simon demanded. "River took one of my medical instruments. I have to make sure she doesn't damage anything...."
"Can she make Jayne bleed with it?" Mal asked. When he saw Simon start to frown, the captain qualified his question. "More than any other more common object, that is."
"Well, no," Simon sputtered.
Mal pressed himself closer, one hand braced to either side of Simon's squirming body. "Then forget about it."
"Knowing that sister of yours, Mr. Top Three Percent, she'll probably give it back to you working better than it was before." Mal nuzzled behind Simon's ear, taking the lobe gently into his teeth a moment before letting go. "You got better things to worry about."
"I do?" Simon asked, sounding breathless rather than haughty.
"Yup." Mal's attention moved from Simon's ear to his neck.
"Ooooh," Simon moaned, putting his hands on Mal's shoulders to balance himself. As he did, he noticed something was missing. "What happened to your shirt?"
"Got some tea on it." Mal managed to shrug without breaking his lips' seal on Simon's skin.
"Tea?" Simon attempted to push Mal away, but the captain resisted. "That's what's gotten into you. I told Kaylee to always make sure that I got a chance to analyze any tea that was brought on board for the crew's consumption. These lese local markets, you never know what kind of tea leaves they try to pawn off. Tian xiaode what kind of chemical reaction you're having...."
Mal chuckled around his mouthful of Simon. "Didn't drink any. Got spilled on my shirt."
Simon blinked and then arched his neck, giving Mal more access to his favorite sensitive spots. "Then what's all this?"
"This," Mal explained, "is the result of waking up alone... and noticing that someone's breakfast bowl hadn't been used, even though he's apparently been up for hours."
Simon rolled his eyes. "Mal...."
The captain left off his nibbling so he could be nose to nose with his recalcitrant lover. "What was our agreement?"
"Mal..." Simon gasped as Mal pressed close, suddenly hungry, but for the body bearing down on his, not food.
"The agreement, doctor." Mal was implacable.
"Unless someone's spurting blood, m-m-iss-ing a body part," Simon stumbled in his recitation as Mal's bare foot started stroking up and down his calf. "Or having a baby, I'm to see to my welfare before the crew's."
Mal repeated the last part along with Simon. ".... Because I can't take care of the crew if I don't take care of myself."
"Okay, now that we have that settled, let's get you something to eat, then go back to the bunk," Mal leered at his partner. "For somethin' else to eat."
The captain drew his body off of Simon's. The younger man immediately missed the heat and the welcome weight pressing on him. Frustrated and determined to get a little of his own back, he blew a wayward piece of hair out of his eyes. "You know, I was thinking, does Zoe know about that last part of our `agreement?' Seems to me she might be interested in baby-having section."
Mal tapped him on the nose. "Don't change the subject. Food, then you can get back at me." He hadn't missed the glint of rebellion in Simon's eyes. Then again, if he had, he wouldn't be Mal. Or, at least, he wouldn't be quite so infuriating.
Simon's eyes narrowed as Mal started to walk away from, confident that Simon would follow. His eyes narrowed... and then he smiled a not entirely pleasant smile.
Mal didn't feel deft fingers grip the back of his suspenders, but after he took another step, he certainly felt them grow taut. He stopped but it was too late - Simon had already let go. The suspenders were leather rather than an elastic material, but they were old and worn. As a result, they had enough give that, when released, they snapped back into place against bare skin with a resounding S-M-A-C-K.
The captain stopped. His lips twitched. Then he turned around, a foreboding expression firmly in place.
Simon's eyes danced with mischief. "Oops."
Mal made the tiniest shift, the slightest reallocation of weight in preparation to moving. It was enough, with a loud whoop, Simon took off running.
Serenity's crew had grown accustomed to Kaylee and River playing tag. Simon and Mal were quite another thing. The ship suddenly seemed smaller as two adult men whooped and chased through its corridors Wash was still sweeping up the kitchen when the other two man ran by. He watched in dumbfounded confusion as a laughing Simon ran into the area and circled the table, Mal right on his heels.
"I"ve got you now," Mal exclaimed, bare chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath. He knew Serenity better but Simon was faster.
"That's what you think," Simon said. With a grinned challenge, he took off again. Mal thumped the table once in frustration and then followed.
Wash turned to his wife, who hadn't stopped wiping tea from the floor. "What was that all about?"
"Mal was chasing him, dear."
"I know that," Wash responded. "But why?"
Zoe looked up at him. "So he can catch him."
"Huh?" Wash leaned against the broom and gazed down at his wife in confusion.
Zoe got up and kissed him fondly. "You know, so he can catch him," she whispered hoarsely in his ear.
Suddenly hot, Wash pulled his shirt away from his neck. "Oh."
Back near the infirmary, Mal had finally managed to corner his prey. "I got you Simon. You're gonna have to come to the kitchen and eat your breakfast like a good boy."
Simon snorted. "I am not good and I'm not a boy," he announced, turning to flee again. Whether he was slowing down because he wanted to be caught or whether he was just tired became a moot point. As he rounded a corner, a combat-booted foot stuck out and him and tripped him.
From the floor, Simon looked up at his giggling sister. "River!"
His sister just shrugged at him. "Oops."
It gave Mal enough time to catch up. "Many thanks, mei mei. This one's been all sorts of trouble." He gave Simon a hand up from the floor but didn't stop there. He used the momentum to yank the doctor up and over his shoulder, ignoring his muffled protest. "I don't know how you put up with his antics."
"He is such a handful," she said in mock sorrow. As Mal strode away with his burden, she shook a finger at Simon's retreating figure. "Now be good and take your medicine!"
Instead of the kitchen, the two men ended up at the entrance Mal's quarters. He put Simon on his feet but, before the younger man could utter a word, Mal kissed him deeply. When their lips parted, Simon was smiling and had his eyes closed. The wiggle in Mal's belly did flip-flops at the sight.
"Does this mean we're not going to the kitchen to eat breakfast?" Simon asked, finally opening his eyes to look at his lover.
Mal cupped Simon's jaw and kissed him again, suddenly gentle. "I guess we can eat in bed."
Simon grinned triumphantly and turned to head down the ladder. As he did, Mal slapped him once on the ass.
"What was that for?" Simon said, rubbing his cheeks as the captain climbed down.
"Don't want you to think you're gettin' your way all the time," Mal said.
"Oh, I'm not?" Simon asked, unbuttoning his shirt as he stepped back towards the bed.
Mal licked his lips as he saw his lover's chest slowly revealed as button after button was undone. "No, you're not."
He stepped closer and began helping Simon, almost reverently dragging the shirt out of Simon's pants. Simon kissed first one of Mal's shoulders and then the other, tenderly sliding the suspenders off so that they hung loose at Mal's waist.
The two men continued to kiss, working at each other's pants and undergarments. When they were both undressed, Simon kissed Mal one last time and climbed onto the bed. Silently, he lay back and opened his legs.
Mal gulped. "Okay, maybe you'll get your way once in a while."
The captain joined his lover on the bed, covering Simon's form and pressing him into the mattress. Finally feeling the welcome weight of Mal's body blanketing his, Simon moaned and opened his legs further. Mal gasped as their cocks slid past one another and pushed down harder, grateful that Simon was well built and perfectly capable of handling the strain.
The two men were too aroused from their chase for much finesse. Their hips danced in sync as their mouths all but fused together, only taking short pauses for deep moans and softly uttered swear words. Mal bit down on Simon's lip, the younger man crying out and lifting his hips at the sensation. Feeling Simon's release bathe his stomach spurred Mal to completion. He fisted his hands in the sheets and rocked forward sharply. Simon wrapped his legs around Mal and whispered loving nonsense in his ear as Mal's climax added to the slickness between them. When he finished, Mal stayed on top of Simon, kissing him randomly as both of them calmed down.
When their lust had abated into sleepy afterglow, Simon re-asked Mal a question that the captain had avoided earlier. "Mal, what brought all this on?"
The older man had moved to the side a bit, laying so his head was pillowed on Simon's stomach. The doctor's fingers were carding through his hair and, even as content as he was, Mal was all too aware of the wiggle in his belly.
"Can't a man enjoy a lusty morning with his mate?" He tried to deflect the question, not wanting to ruin the mood.
"Of course you can," Simon soothed. "It's just, you're usually not so... giddy."
"Giddy?" Mal lifted his head to look at the doctor.
"Yes, giddy." Simon said firmly.
Mal recognized the same determination in Simon's eyes that was there when Simon was working on a treatment for River. Giving up, he laid his head back on his lover's stomach. "When I woke up this morning, I had this funny feeling."
Simon tensed. "You weren't feeling well? God, Mal, you should have said something. I wouldn't have let you pounce on me and chase me if I'd known..."
The captain kissed Simon's bellybutton, interrupting his lover before he got too wound up. "Tweren't that. Just... a funny feeling. One I haven't had in a long time."
Simon seemed to sense that Mal needed space to vocalize what he was trying to say and didn't press him. Finally, Mal explained.
"This feeling, it kind of wiggles in my belly," he said quietly. "Took me a while to place it, but I know the cause." He sighed profoundly. "I think I'm happy."
Mal made his pronouncement in such an emotionless voice, Simon didn't know whether to laugh or cry. "You're happy. That's good." His voice got more hesitant. "It is good, isn't it?"
"Depends on how you look at it." Mal said, flopping off Simon and rolling onto his back. "Been my experience that happy's always followed by a whole lot of not happy."
Simon stared at the ceiling, thinking hard. Just when he'd thought that he was settled in the Medacad and River was at some fancy Alliance school, he'd begun getting the feeling that something was terribly wrong with his sister. Then, when he finally got help to get her free, he came to the humbling discovery that he was going to need a lot of help to keep both of them free. He glanced over at Mal, noticing how expressionless his lover's face was. He noticed... and then got angry.
"The `verse owes us," Simon said in a clipped voice.
His anger got through to Mal in a way that nothing else could have. "What do you mean?"
"You lost everything in the war. I know by the way you won't talk about it that it's got to be bad." Simon said fiercely. "Sometimes, when you talk about Shadow, I can tell that this," he gestured to his surroundings, "was not what you were raised to. The `verse owes you for that. And me, well, the `verse owes me for taking my sister."
Mal smiled sadly. "And what do you think `owing' has to do with it? The `verse is a notorious for not payin' up it's debts. You can't count on its sympathy."
"Maybe not," Simon said, determined. "But you can live for each day even while you plan for the future. Take what happiness you find and hold onto it with both hands, `cause you never know when you'll get another chance."
"You mean, if it wants it, make the `verse have to take my happiness out of my cold, lifeless hands?"
Simon nodded. "I wouldn't put it in quite those words, but something like that."
Mal thought about it and then nodded. "I can do that." It was said with the solemnity of a vow.
"Yeah, I thought you could," Simon said, admiring his lover's strength. Then, wanting to lighten the atmosphere, he added, "I make you happy, huh?"
"Who said it was you?" Mal asked, lips twitching.
Simon pretended to be offended. "What else could it be?"
Mal considered for a minute. "Jayne's been bathing regularly. I must be happy `cause he don't smell so bad."
That comment earned him a smack on the chest. "I will thank you never to bring up Jayne's name in our bed again. It's enough to make me lose my appetite."
Unfortunately for Simon, his remark reminded Mal of something. "Speaking of appetite, we never did have breakfast."
"I wasn't talking about losing my appetite for food," Simon quipped. When Mal moved to get out of the bed, he put a hand on his lover's hip. "Not just yet. What were we saying about happiness? Maybe we should play another game. You know, to cultivate some."
"Another game?" Mal asked, frowning. "I don't think me or Serenity's up for more tag."
Simon smiled slowly. "I wasn't thinking of tag," he said as he slipped under the covers. "I was thinking more along the lines of hide and seek."
Mal looked at the lump of covers that housed his lover, trying to figure out what Simon was doing under there. Suddenly, he jerked as he was touched in an intimate place.
"What was that about holding onto your happiness?" Simon's muffled voice came.
"If you think that was my `happiness,'" Mal said roughly, "then maybe you need to go back to that fancy Medacad of yours." The sensation of Simon's blanket-covered hand covering his sensitive cock was causing the satisfied organ to swell.
"You'll have to find me first," Simon challenged.
With a grin that spoke of happiness, wiggles, and love for a determined young man, Mal dove under the blankets.
They never did get to breakfast, but oddly enough, Mal didn't seem to mind.
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