|When Mal wakes up, the first thing he sees is Simon's face,
peering down at him.
"He's awake." Simon moves away, and Mal moves his head a little, and hey. The whole crew is staring at him, expectant, like they have a surprise for him.
"It my birthday?" He knows the words come out, but maybe his hearing's damaged, because they sound funny. Garbled. But everyone is smiling at him, and so he smiles back. His mouth feels funny. "My mouth feels funny."
The words don't come out nicely.
Simon comes back into view, and asks, "How do you feel?" He's got something in his hand, and before Mal can say anything, he's getting an injection. Simon loves his needles, some days. "Good." He does feel good. Real good. Shiny even. Except for the funny mouth.
Simon's smiling at him still, and hey. He's got a funny mouth too. It makes Mal laugh to look at it. He's laughing, and he reaches up to touch it, because maybe that'll be even more funny. But his arm is heavy, and he can't move it right, and he ends up hitting Simon in the head, and that's funny too, even the others laugh.
But not Simon.
"Do you remember anything?"
He remembers a good job, and payment with a minimum of gunplay and going out to celebrate with Jayne, Zoe and Wash. First time since Inara left that they all went out like that. Things have been rough for a long space. "Job? Bar?"
Simon nods. "Do you remember what you drank in the bar?" His voice precise, like maybe Mal's simple. He ain't simple. His mouth is just funny, is all.
He remembers the beer, and the whiskey, and some kind of food, but he didn't drink that, and then the others not being there, but he wasn't alone, because some bar girl was passing around something and it was – "Blue?"
There's a funny sound. Sounds like Jayne snickering. Maybe Wash. And Zoe. It's a mutiny, but Mal wants to laugh too.
River ain't laughing. She's looking at him, whispering words that don't make sense. "Two by two. Drinks so blue."
He's got to remember, in the future. No crazy girls coming on his ship, even if they end up waving bags of shiny money in his face. Nope. No more crazy girls. None at all.
Simon's nodding again, serious. Least he ain't laughing, and he ain't sharing cryptic words. "Do you ever pay attention to my warnings? Don't drink the blue liquid, I said. There's a drug the locals use, and it's not good for outsiders. The others listened. Even Jayne."
But Mal isn't listening anymore. Because Simon's got a shiny vest, and also a funny mouth, and shiny hair, and come to think about it, the whole damn room is shiny and sparkling, and really, he don't remember it being like that, but it's nice, it's real –
~ ~ ~
Simon looks up at them all. "He's out again. I've given him a dose to help work the drug faster through his system. But it'll take a few days before he's fully right again."
The others are still smiling, only Kaylee hiding it behind her hand. "He'll be up again soon, right?"
Nodding, Simon takes off his gloves. "Yes. When he wakes next, he'll have more control over his movements. I'm not going to strap him down while this works its way out. If he's mobile, it will increase his metabolic rate, which helps even more."
"We gonna stay here?"
Zoe answers. "No need. Wash and I arranged a simple transport job last night, so we'll keep to that schedule. Simon, it won't make a difference to him if we're not on land?"
"No. The drug in the drink isn't particularly dangerous. He just drank too much, too fast. He's coherent. He's capable, he's still able to control himself. He's just elated now, and maybe less inhibited. It'll wear off." He looked down at Mal again, whose lips were still stained slightly blue. "It's probably better we keep him to the ship. That'll be easier if we're flying."
And that's it. They're all filing out, one by one, Kaylee and River lingering a little, but Zoe and Wash laughing to each other. Mal is going to be dealing with the fallout of this for a long time.
It'll be good.
Only Jayne stays, watching, arms crossed, as Simon cleans everything up.
Finally, he says, "He were real friendly when I found him."
Shrugging, Simon undoes his vest. "This particular drug does tend to make people quite happy. Breaks down those barriers, so I'm told."
"I don't mean he were just glad to see me."
Simon stares at him. "Are you trying to be subtle?"
"Mal might kill me if I make it known how he was grabbin' my ass all the way back here."
Pulling a blanket over Mal, he asks, "Since when did that stop you saying anything?" Privately, he thinks maybe that's what Mal needs.
~ ~ ~
The next time Mal wakes up, he's a little more coherent. He pokes at his face for a moment, then says, "My mouth doesn't feel funny anymore."
For a moment, he thinks maybe he's alone, but then Simon appears. "Yes. You should have better motor control also."
Mal thinks maybe now he can poke at Simon's mouth, actually do it right. He lifts up his arm, concentrating hard, but Simon moves out of the way. Darn.
"Do you want to try standing?"
He doesn't, not really. Lying here is shiny and fun, and the ceiling is all sparkly, and so he opens his mouth to say, no, but before he can, Jayne is there, pulling him upwards, so he's sitting. "Guess I got no choice?"
And Simon, he's smiling still, and Jayne's smiling, and so Mal smiles too. "It's better if you walk around. Go walk it off."
Mal nods, kinda not really paying attention to Simon now, 'cause Jayne's there. All big, and wearing tight pants. "Hey."
Jayne looks at him, smile a little odd. "Hey." And then he starts a little, and Mal ain't sure why. Except he's grabbed Jayne's ass, and is holding on tight. So maybe that's it. He lets go, pushes himself off the bed. "You got a tight ass, Jayne."
Behind him, he hears a kind of choked sound. Must be Simon. Jayne himself is smirking now, but he ain't looking at Mal. Mal turns, looks behind him, and yeah. Jayne's looking at Simon. Who's looking right back.
Slowly, they both turn to look at him.
"You gotta stop looking like that at each other. It ain't right. Makes me feel right queasy."
Simon's eyebrow raises, right up high, near to his shiny hair, and that's distracting. But then Simon's mouth starts moving, and that's even worse.
"I think you'd be best to go and walk around. Don't go near the airlock. Um. On second thought, Jayne, maybe you'd best go with him? Get him some exercise."
Jayne shrugs, and he reaches out, pulls Mal off the bed. Mal goes, 'cause hell, who's he to put up a fight when Jayne's wearing his extra-tight pants and his very best t-shirt? Any anyway, Mal's got some thoughts about what kind of exercise he could use right about now.
On the way out the door, he grabs Jayne's ass again. For balance. Behind him, there's another choked sound. But Jayne, he doesn't flinch a bit.
~ ~ ~
It doesn't go down the way he hopes. Specifically, Jayne doesn't go down.
"Nope," he says, when Mal asks by way of sticking his hand up Jayne's shirt.
They're in the cargo bay now, and Jayne's making Mal walk up and down stairs. It's boring as hell.
Jayne rolls his eyes, and it's – it's disturbingly like something Simon would do. Mal doesn't like it one tiny bit.
"How much of that blue shit did you drink?"
Mal hits another step, and ogles Jayne's ass. "Drink? Anyways, ain't like you not to say yes."
"When's the last time you asked me?"
Mal thinks on it a space, turns, heads back down the stairs. "Never?"
"Why not?" And he stops with the stairs, walks right close to Jayne, and pokes him in the chest. "Why not? Some kinda rule? Rule I don't know about? It's my boat. I make the rutting rules. You don't get to."
Jayne, he just moves back a pace, and looks around, real shifty. Guess he doesn't see nothing, 'cause he moves closer, and grabs Mal's arm. "Come on."
But Jayne doesn't drag him to a bunk, or even to a dark space in a corner somewhere. He just drags him into the infirmary. Simon's waiting, arms crossed. Like he's the Tam with the rutting psychic powers all of a sudden.
"He won't shut up." Jayne pushes Mal forward, up against the bed.
"He's goin' on and on."
Simon nods. "So? What then?"
"I ain't had my ass grabbed so much since I was a kid and bein' chased by older cousins wantin' to dress me up for church."
And they're looking at each other again. Not so much like they like each other, but as though they got thoughts. Possibly disturbifying thoughts that Mal doesn't want anything to do with. Possibly not.
"He put his hand up my shirt!"
Simon looks unimpressed, his mouth pressed a little thin, and that gives Mal thoughts of his own. Mostly of the punching kind, 'cause Simon's probably about to spoil his fun. But not just punching thoughts.
"And what? You're hardly an innocent virgin, Jayne."
Jayne moves closer, and lowers his voice, but like most things that Jayne tries to do small and quiet, it hardly works. Mal can hear it all.
"Listen here. I'm tryin' not to hump his ass like he's askin, mostly 'cause he'll shoot me when he gets himself straightened out. Maybe Zoe'll shoot me too. So you gotta take care of him. I ain't good at – restrained."
Simon shrugs. "It's a good time to practice. Just say no, Jayne."
Mal can almost see Jayne's teeth being ground together. "It ain't gonna work."
"You don't understand! Shootin'! My ass!"
"And this would be bad why?"
Now Mal's got suspicions. Like maybe that's a smirk on Simon's face. A little one, one Jayne doesn't see. And he's had enough anyway. So he lurches away from the bed, grabs Jayne's arm. "I've had enough. You. My bunk. Now."
Jayne's face just shuts closed, not that he's usually hard to read or nothing.
"I ain't gonna shoot you!"
"If I may?"
They both turn to look at Simon. "What?" Mal asks. Rutting Tams. Never shutting up.
Looking right at Jayne, Simon says, "I'll bear witness that Mal asked for this. Frequently. Insistently. Amazingly. Graphically."
That's good. Maybe there's a bit of a sarcastic tone going on, but that's good.
"So, if he wants to shoot you afterwards, I can revisit this conversation for the crew. Complete with actions."
Actions? That doesn't make sense. "Actions?"
Looking down a little, Simon looks at Mal, then Jayne. Mal follows his gaze. Oh. His hand's trying to work itself into Jayne's pants. "Yeah. Bet you'd like that. Actions."
Simon's looking at Jayne again. "So. Why don't you two get out of my infirmary? And please. Don't come back. Ever."
Shiny. Shiny. Jayne, he's looking less annoyed, more interested. This time, it's gonna work. Thanks to Simon. Good man. Annoying, and prissy, and can't shoot a gun. And Mal doesn't trust him much further than he can throw him. But still. Good man.
They're half-way to Mal's bunk, Jayne looking this way and that, shifty-like, antsy, when Mal figures maybe he could've invited Simon to watch. As a thank you. Ain't a good idea to have debts, is all.
He's still thinking on it as he climbs down the ladder, as he starts shucking out of his shirt, kicking off his boots. Maybe. Could be interesting.
But, naw, he thinks as Jayne pushes him down to the bed. Maybe next time Simon annoys the hell out of him, he'll just remember not to shoot at him.
Ah hell. That ain't going to work.
But Jayne, he's doing things now, dirty, rotten, manipulative, sexy things, with his big hot hands, and Mal's feeling generous. Real generous. So he decides – he won't shoot Simon anywhere fatal. That's fair. That's real fair.
As Jayne leans over a little, drags his tongue across Mal's hip, Mal thinks, yeah.
Does Mal ever listen to Simon's warnings?