Of Boots and Books and Rolling Stones

by J.M. Griffin

[Story Headers]

Of Boots and Books and Rolling Stones
by J. M. Griffin

The marketplace was so crowded, Mal could scarcely make his way through the mob of shoppers. He knew what booth he was looking for, but it didn't seem to be where he remembered it being last time he'd visited New Town on market day. A kid darted in front of him, causing the captain to step back hurriedly. He started to move forward again, only to have a second little boy cut in from of him and pelt after the first. Mal rocked back on his heels, turning his head to see where the boys had gone...and spied the very shop he was looking for.

"Ah, Captain Reynolds," the bookseller exclaimed when Mal approached. "So good to see you, sir. And wouldn't you know, I have a little something I have been holding until I saw you again." The burly, balding man smiled a gap-toothed smile and reached one hand into a deep basket. He pulled from it a thin book, the worn cover a soft red.

Mal was immediately interested, but he kept that to himself, shrugging his shoulders nonchalantly. "So, what izit?"

"A book of poetry," the vendor crowed.

Mal took the book gently from the man's hands. "Robert Service. Never heard of him," he said, continuing to feign disinterest as he read the title. "Rhymes of a Rolling Stone." The well-worn book fell open in his hands and Mal read the verse on page five:

"In a flannel shirt from earth's clean dirt, Here pal, is my calloused hand!
Oh I love each day as a rover may,
Nor seek to understand,
To enjoy is good enough for me;
The gipsy of God am I;
Then here's a hail to each flaring dawn! And here's a cheer to the night that's gone! And may I go a-roaming on
Until the day I die!"

Looking up from the page to find the big man grinning at him, Mal could no longer pretend disinterest. He'd spent far too much time reading the poem for that. Except it wasn't what he'd come for. Still, he didn't hand the book back. "I'm looking for old medical texts, actually."

The merchant's eyes gleaming with interest. "Hmmm, don't see many of those. Whazza matter, Captain? One of your crew took sick?"

Mal shook his head. "Nah, my engineer has turned into a pretty good medic and I wanna make sure she gets things right," he lied.

The merchant gave a belly shaking chuckle. "Oh, so that's how it is. Well, then, I have just the thing you need." Once again he burrowed into his largest basket.

Mal winced, everything from that basket always cost a pretty penny. There was no way he could afford both the poetry book and a medical text from Earth-That-Was. He shifted from foot to foot. The sole of one of his boots had a hole in it, worn out from nights of pacing in his cabin, he reckoned. After Simon had stopped visiting, of course, for he rarely stayed on his feet when the doctor came to visit.

"Huh?" Mal blinked and looked up to find the bookseller waiting patiently, a book in his out-stretched hand. "What did you say?"

The man just wagged the book at him. Mal reluctantly passed the book of poetry back and took the medical text. It was a hefty tome and when he paged through it, Mal saw it was full of pictures of (to his eyes) strange medical conditions. Simon would love it. And maybe he wouldn't be so mad at Mal anymore and then he'd....Mal shook his head to stop that line of thinking.

He looked up to find the bookseller staring at him intently. Mal didn't want to contemplate what that stare meant, so he asked, "How much?"

"For you, my good captain, a bargain." And he named a price that made Mal's head spin.

"No, no," Mal sputtered, trying to shove the text back into the bigger man's hands.

"That...," the man continued, "for both books."

Mal shook his head. It was still too much. He wouldn't be able to buy new boots if he took the 'bargain.'

"Ah, Captain, you drive a hard bargain." The vendor named a slightly lower price that was still far over Mal's budget. But if the gift appeased Simon...he could always stick a piece of leather inside his
boot to patch the hole. That would work until after their next job.

"Deal," Mal said, but he grimaced when he handed over the price of the books.

Dust from the streets seeped into the hole in the sole of his boot as he walked back toward Serenity, but Mal refused to let it bother him. As he neared his ship, he met up with Zoe, also on her way back from the marketplace. His first officer frowned at him in greeting.

"I thought you were going to get new boots." Zoe cast a disdainful look down at Mal's feet, then eyed his small paper-wrapped bundle. Her own arms were filled with packages.

Mal just shrugged.

"You bought books, didn't you?" Zoe admonished with a shake of her head.

Mal shrugged again and Zoe rolled her eyes and said no more. Though in truth, Mal figured he'd hadn't heard the last of it.

The galley was bustling with noise and the sound of opening packages. Everyone had taken advantage of a little money in their pockets after what had been a long spell of collective poverty. Jayne was showing off a new pistol and new boots, which didn't rankle Mal. He was captain of the ship and if, just this once, he took a bit less than his share so the others could have more, well, that was his business and no one else's. Kaylee and River were sitting at a table with a feast of nuts, fruit, and candies before them.

"Captain, come try some of this," Kaylee called out to Mal. River just smacked her lips around another bit of fruit.

"Nah," Mal called to her from the door. "I have some stuff to put away. Save some for me later." He'd seen enough to know Simon was not in the galley. If River was here, Simon was bound to be back. They'd gone out together. The doctor must be in his cabin.

Mal got no answer to his knock on Simon's door, so he slid it open and stepped inside. The cabin was empty. Simon must have sent River back with Kaylee while he went on some errand of his own. Mal thought about leaving the medical book on Simon's bunk with a note, but he hadn't a clue what he'd write, so in the end he simply left and headed for his own cabin.

Once there, he unwrapped the books and placed them on the bed. Then he sat down and took off his boots, being careful to invert his dirty right sock so as not to spread the fine dust of the marketplace all over his cabin. Then he went to take a shower. He needed to wash between his toes well, that was for sure.

When he was done, Mal padded back into his cabin to snag some clean clothes. He stopped short of the clothes bin, though, because Simon was there, sitting on Mal's bunk, thumbing through the book of poetry.

Simon looked up, and Mal resisted the urge to cover his genitals with the towel he'd been using to dry his hair. They'd been lovers for, how long now, six months? Simon had seen him nude many times. Not in the last few weeks, however. Not since he'd pissed Simon off by not allowing him to tag along on a job he had no business on in the first place. Simon had hoped to snatch some (in his eyes) much needed med supplies, and Mal had felt the risk was too great. They'd had a huge dust-up. The entire time Mal was shouting at Simon that he was the captain and his word was law on the ship, he'd known he was going to far, but he couldn't seem to stop himself. In the end, Simon had gone still and silent, and, when Mal had tried to backtrack, all he'd gotten from the doctor was a flat, stony look. When he'd gotten back, Simon had already taken his things from Mal's cabin all those essentials one needed when staying on in someone else's space.

After that, Simon had played it aloof and unapproachable, so Mal had just let him be. It didn't help that what he'd been worried about...a rumor of an Alliance presence at the compound...had turned out to be true. Still, he shouldn't have left it so long. Every day he'd put off confronting Simon seemed to make the rift between them grow wider. It had finally reached the point that Zoe, and then Book, had said something. Mal had down-played the whole thing, telling both first officer and preacher that there was no cause for worry, it was just a case of Simon bucking authority, as usual. Apparently, he'd managed to convince them, because they had both let it drop after that. On a ship this size everyone knew Mal and Simon were sleeping together. What they didn't need to know was how important Simon had become to Mal, how much he....

"Wo de tian a, Mal, I can see the cogs whirling in your brain. What`s going on in that head of yours?" Simon snapped, breaking the quiet in the cabin and making Mal startle. When had Simon gotten up from the bed to stand not two feet from him? Mal wondered.

Without saying anything, Mal shoved past Simon to his clothes bin and took out a pair of pants. Then he bent and slipped them on. The hell with underwear, he just wanted to be clothed. He started to turn and go back into the head, but Simon stopped him with a hand on his bare chest.

"Mal." Simon's eyes were earnest and worried. "Mal, you were right, okay? If I'd gone it would have ended up a big mess. I'm sorry I acted like such an idiot."

Simon's fingers were still splayed on Mal's chest, his middle finger pressed against Mal's left nipple. Mal shivered, feeling the heat of the contact deep in his groin. He should step away and say something to Simon something sharp and cutting that would severe, once and for all, the connection between them. A shudder ran through him as he contemplated life without Simon. Life without Simon in his bed was a terrible thing, yes. But life without Simon at all...Mal knew he couldn't bear that. He gave a low groan, and, closing his eyes, leaned in toward Simon.

Simon's arms went around him, and Mal heard something that sounded suspiciously like a sob close to his ear. He opened his eyes and pulled the younger man tightly against his body. Simon was shaking like a leaf. "Easy, easy," Mal whispered into his ear.

Strands of Simon's inky dark hair brushed against Mal's mouth, he tongued them away, then went on to lick at the shell of Simon's ear.

"Mal," Simon whispered.

"It's okay," Mal said as he guided them both down onto his bunk. The books slid to the floor as they sprawled out on the bed together.

Simon nestled in Mal's arms, his head tucked down on Mal's chest for a time as he fought for composure. Then he shifted over, propping up on one elbow so he could look into Mal's face.

"You're not mad?"

"Nah, I bought you a make-up present," Mal said with a grin. Simon's eyes went to the books on the floor by the bed.

"The poetry or the medical text?" he asked.

"Both," Mal told him. "Well, the medical text for you and the poetry for me to read to you."

"Really." Simon's eyes had lit up and he was smiling now. "You planned to read poetry to me...in bed?"

"After," Mal said seriously. "Only after we made up."

"You planned on us making up?" Simon's eyes were glowing now, and Mal could feel the younger man's burgeoning erection pressing against his hip.

"I was hoping," he sighed.

Simon laughed, a light and carefree sound that bounced off the walls of the small cabin.

Mal couldn't wait any longer, his hands went to the opening of Simon's black breeches, and his lover shifted so he could have better access. Soon, Simon's cock was hot and heavy in his hand. Mal pushed Simon onto his back and straddled him, sliding down until he could take Simon into his mouth. He licked lazily and was rewarded with a gasp and Simon's hands slipping into his hair.

Cupping Simon's heavy balls in the palm of his hand, he massaged gently as he started to lick and suck at Simon's shaft until he reached the weeping head. There, he tongued and licked as Simon writhed beneath him and his own cock filled. Then he got serious with his attention to Simon's cock, taking it down whole and beginning a strong steady suction that had Simon mewling soft cries of pleasure.

Simon's hands grasped at Mal's bare shoulders, digging in so deeply, Mal figured he'd have a bruise or two when they were finished. He stepped up the rhythm as he sucked Simon down, faster and faster, until Simon was thrusting, arching up so fiercely that Mal knew he was about to come. With a guttural shout, Simon exploded into Mal's mouth, and he swallowed more than once as Simon's seed shot against the back of his throat.

He finally released Simon's cock and slid up his boneless body to kiss him deeply. Simon's tongue slipped into Mal's mouth, tasting himself there and giving a satisfied moan.

"You. Now," Simon breathed, and he pushed Mal away, leaning down to strip off his pants and then fumble under the mattress for the tube of lube stashed there. By the time Simon squeezed the slippery stuff into his palm, Mal had taken off his own pants and his erection bobbed in the air between them. He hissed as Simon anointed him with the lubricant. When Simon raised his legs over Mal's shoulders, Mal had to clench his teeth to keep from coming at the sight of the beautiful young man's body laid out before him, naked from the waist down, his shirt rucked up to bare his belly and ribs; his face open and expectant and eager. Mal lined himself up and pushed, sliding home with ease, and then he stopped, having to suck in breath before he could continue. Wo de ma, Simon was all velvet and warmth inside, and Mal thought he might die it felt so good.

He moved, penetrating Simon deeply, and then he slid back out, not all the way, but almost, and slid into Simon's body again. One, two, three times, and then Mal was climaxing so hard, stars danced before his eyes.

They dozed for a bit, curled in each other's arms, not having bothered to clean up first. Simon was already awake when Mal opened his eyes.

"I bought you something, too." he said as soon as he saw Mal looking at him. He pointed to the captain's desk, and Mal followed his finger with his eyes to see a pair of boots standing up right in the middle of his desk.

"Boots?" he asked, still muzzy from sleep. "You bought me boots? But I told everyone that was what I was going out to buy."

Simon shrugged. "Somehow I just knew it wasn't what you'd end up getting. And anyway, you could use more than one pair."

"You know my size?" Mal asked, still a bit puzzled by Simon's gift.

"I'm your doctor, fool. I know everything about your body. And beside, it was a make-up gift," Simon explained.

"Ah," Mal said, nodding his head. Then he eyed Simon sharply. "Whatddya mean you know everything about my body?" he said archly.

Simon just laughed. "Well, not everything. There are a few places where I have yet to delve."

Mal widened his eyes in mock astonishment. "Huh!" he said sternly, "in bed, I hope, NOT in your infirmary."

Simon just laughed and reached down to grab one of the books from the floor by the bunk. "You promised to read me poetry," he said softly.

Mal nodded and took the book from his slender hands.

He bunched the pillow under his head as Simon shifted into a more comfortable position by his side. Then Mal opened the book to a random page and began reading:

"Just Home and Love! The words are small Four little letters unto each;
And yet you will not find in all
The wide and gracious range of speech
Two more so tenderly complete:
When angels talk in heaven above,
I'm sure they have no words more sweet
Than Home and Love."

He managed to get through the first stanza of the poem before he stopped, unable to continue reading for the lump in his throat.

"Mal," Simon said quietly, "are you okay?"

The captain cleared his throat with a loud noise. "It's just a poem, Doc," he drawled. "Now shut up and listen, I'm not finished reading."

Finis

Note: Earth-That-Was poetry quoted from Rhymes of a Rolling Stone by Robert W. Service

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Title:  Of Boots and Books and Rolling Stones
Author:  J.M. Griffin   [email]
Details:  Standalone  |  NC-17  |  *slash*  |  15k  |  07/26/04
Characters:  Malcolm, Simon
Pairings:  Mal/Simon
Summary:  Mal finds the right words.
Notes:  None

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