By Clarity Scifiroots
Genre: m/m, f/f, het Characters/Pairing: Mal/Simon (main)
Websites: http://enchantingmuse.com/artoflife http://community.livejournal.com/enchanting_muse
Disclaimer: This is merely a fan tribute to an amazing fandom. Purely for entertainment purposes with no money being made whatsoever. I'm merely visiting the playground.
Simon could tell there was something not right. Everyone seemed to be acting a bit strange and not quite like themselves. What he could not determine was why something like this would occur.
"Gou se! Don't do that in here!" Simon practically yelped as he quickly turned away from the kitchen where he'd just gotten an eyeful of Wash and Zoe going at it on the kitchen floor with apparently no regard for anyone who might walk in.
"Lighten up, Doc," Wash's voice floated up from near the floor.
"What are you talking about? Don't you have a room for this?"
From the sound of wet kisses and heavy breathing it was obvious that Simon would not win this particular battle. He muttered, "Nah mei guan-she," and beat a hasty retreat.
Wash and Zoe getting physical all over the ship was one thing. After all he supposed that it wasn't much of a jump to that from some of the rather detailed verbal exchanges he'd heard. But when he'd gone to seek out Kaylee the other day and found River draped over the engineer's shoulders and rubbing her pale hands over Kaylee's breasts, it was a little more than Simon could handle.
As far as he could tell, both Inara and Book had secluded themselves in their respective rooms and very rarely ventured out. He had seen Mal a few times but it was only ever quick glimpses so he wasn't sure exactly how the captain was being affected. As for Jayne... Simon felt himself shiver even as his cheeks heated up. He'd heard Jayne's unmistakable groans when passing by his bunk, and another time Simon found him spying on Kaylee and River. His demands that Jayne mind his own business turned into an unwanted game of hide and seek as Jayne turned his attention on Simon.
"Tyen shiao-duh, what is going on?" he wondered aloud.
Simon made his way into his sanctuary of Serenity's infirmary and busied his hands with rearranging his tools of trade. His mind continued to ponder the problem at hand. From his observations, there were at least five crewmembers reacting sexually and it was likely that the other three, not including himself, were being affected similarly yet were somehow managing to restrain themselves by limiting contact with others. But that left him without any symptoms and that seemed strange. Why would he be the only one unaffected? Simon closed his eyes and sighed. And why did he feel a twinge of jealousy? This was insanity!
"Doc? Beg pardon..." Simon turned around, startled to see Mal lingering just outside the doorway, looking a bit uncomfortable. It took a few moments for Simon to be able to drag his eyes away from the captain's face. "'Fraid I was a might clumsy with a repair," Mal confessed, holding up his hand.
Simon frowned, in part because of the injury but also in confusion over his increased heart rate. "Don't just stand there, Captain. Come in and sit down so I can clean that." He turned back to the drawers and cabinets to gather some gauze and antiseptic along with supplies for stitches in case they were needed. "What exactly were you fixing? Doesn't Kaylee do most of the repairs?"
"That may be, but the girl's mighty distracted these days," Mal answered cautiously.
Simon paused and looked over his shoulder to see that Mal looked even more uncomfortable sitting on the medical bed; he'd drawn one leg up to his chest. As he turned back, Simon said quietly, "You mean River. So you noticed, too."
Mal snorted. "Difficult to miss, Doc."
Simon put the supplies down on the metal tray next to the bed and motioned for Mal to hold out his hand. "You still didn't answer my first question," he reminded as he began to clean the long gouge across the back of Mal's hand.
"Console on the bridge needed some tunin' up," Mal grunted, unable to ignore the sting of the antiseptic. "My hand got caught, took some maneuverin' to get it out."
Simon raised his gaze for a moment. "This looks like you yanked it out. I need to put a few stitches in so it will heal all right." He turned to his supplies and moved to the other side of the bed. Simon noticed that Mal shifted position quickly and now had his opposite leg bent up. Not sure what the problem was, Simon didn't say anything and continued with his work.
"Now that I know you've noticed some of the... oddities going on," Simon began, "I wonder if you have any ideas as to the cause?"
"Not in the foggiest, Doc."
Simon sighed. No, the solution couldn't be a simple one. He asked, "What about the cargo? What are we carrying?"
"Nothin' that'd be makin' my crew hot an' bothered!"
Simon paused and looked up to meet Mal's eyes. He was amazed to see the captain looking flushed and could feel his own face burning hotly. Quickly he went back to making the stitches. "Um... of course not... Right."
A heavy silence filled the air as Simon finished and quietly collected his materials again. He went back to the counter to put things in the disposal or cleaning solution.
Eventually Mal said quietly, "Simon..."
Hands still wet from washing, Simon turned around slowly. Mal had stood up and moved rather close so that only about a foot or so separated them. As Simon brought his gaze down Mal's body he became quite aware of what Mal had been attempting to hide before. Strangely feeling more shy than nervous, Simon glanced up at Mal and then again at the obvious bulge tenting Mal's pants.
"Lao tian ye," Mal muttered. He took a step back and inhaled deeply. Simon watched him in wide-eyed fascination. "I'm sorry, Doc. Ruttin' thing's got to me, too..." The frustration in his voice made something inside Simon quiver pleasantly. "Jus' saw yer condition-" he gestured vaguely and Simon glanced down at himself and found that he was sporting an erection as well "-an' made a stupid assumption."
Curious, Simon pressed his hand over his groin. Just as the thread of pleasure shot through his body he heard Mal catch his breath and moan softly. Simon looked up at Mal through his eyelashes and touched himself again, moving his hand up along his shaft this time. Mal stared at him with hunger written plainly across his expression.
"Don't tease, Doc," Mal said quietly.
Simon leaned back against the counter and cupped his hand tightly around his cock. "I don't have to be..."
Mal's eyes flickered up to meet Simon's to verify the meaning of that statement before stepping much closer and pressing his newly stitched hand over Simon's. Simon gasped quietly and pressed forward against Mal's warm, hard body. He was trapped between Mal and the counter and honestly couldn't think of a place he'd rather be.
"Ren ci de fo zu..." Mal murmured when Simon began sucking on his collarbone. He put one hand behind Simon's head in encouragement and placed his other hand boldly on Simon's ass.
In response, Simon tangled one leg around Mal's so that their bodies were pressed even closer. He rubbed their groins together urgently and tangled his hands in the back of Mal's shirt. Suddenly it seemed like getting rid of the clothing barriers between skin was a life or death situation. Mal caught onto the notion quickly and two pairs of hands worked frantically - zippers pulled down, buttons undone or ripped from place when stuck. All the while, stolen kisses they exchanged between ragged breathing and took turns backing each other toward the other side of the room towards the small recovery bed.
Simon barely noticed when the last of his clothing fell away, but he was keenly aware of Mal's boots being problematic. In a sudden move he pushed Mal back onto the bed, fairly easy to do once he had the captain off-balance and tripping because of the pants around his knees. Simon enjoyed his advantageous position for a few moments, groaning as Mal cupped his ass and squeezed gently.
"Tzao-gao! Boots off," Simon insisted, pulling back and kneeling on the floor.
Mal groaned in frustration. Simon yanked at the obnoxious bootstraps that secured the footwear to his soon-to-be lover's shins. Mal recovered and leaned over to help. Simon let him undo the closures and then took over when it came to pulling off boots and pants. Faced with a completely nude Mal gave him pause. Simon let his gaze roam lazily up Mal's body, eventually meeting Mal's eyes.
"Like what you see, àirén?" Mal asked, stroking his fingers down Simon's face and neck.
Deciding to respond without words, Simon brought his mouth to the inside of Mal's knee and sucked softly. Mal's hands on his shoulder tightened their hold. Simon used one hand to steady himself as he slowly moved up the inside of Mal's thigh and used his free hand to explore Mal's chest. Going by touch alone, Simon mapped a history of scars on Mal's body-wounds that hadn't been treated right or else were too deep or large to fully be rid of. His chest ached with the thought of Mal getting so badly hurt, and he couldn't help but think of how scared he'd been when Wash had landed the shuttle back on Serenity but couldn't hail Mal. All of the blood smeared as smudged handprints across too many walls had led him to the bridge where Mal lay too still with his eyes just barely open.
Desperately, Simon reached up to pull Mal down for a deep, exploratory kiss so that he could feel the heat and life in front of him. Mal urged him to stand and climb onto the bed and soon Simon found himself moving steadily on top of Mal as their mouths and hands continued to find new skin to devour. Simon gasped against his lover's neck when he felt a dry finger probe along the outside of his anus. Mal quieted him by mouthing Simon's ear and tugging gently at the earlobe.
Simon propped himself on his elbows so that their cocks slid together with better friction. Mal continued to carefully probe Simon's opening with one hand and leaned up so that he could lick a nipple. Simon's breathing sped up into smaller gaps and he felt Mal's arm go tightly around his waist as they thrust quicker. With the onslaught of sensations, Simon climaxed first with the captain's name on his lips. Mal followed only a few thrusts after and captured Simon's mouth again.
~ * ~ * ~
He could tell something wasn't quite right. Not that anything was wrong or bad, per se...
"Tell me," Mal's voice was quiet even though he spoke directly into Simon's ear, "am I hallucinatin' or is there someone starin' at us?"
Startled, Simon jerked his head up and scanned the doorway and the windows looking into the infirmary. He froze when he saw not one, but three faces peering in. "Wo de tian a..." Simon groaned into Mal's neck. He felt Mal lift his head and soon heard three pairs of feet stumbling to get out of the way on the metal walkway outside.
When things quieted down again, Mal laid a comforting hand on Simon's bare back. "I'm sorry, Doc..."
Simon lifted his head and asked, "What happened to ‘àirén'?" Mal grinned at him. Satisfied that the slip-of-tongue hadn't been some hint of regret, Simon leaned in for a kiss.
Mal's hands rubbed seductively over Simon's back, slowly moving towards his ass. Simon opened his mouth in invitation and pressed his hips down firmly.
"Excuse me, gentlemen..." The sound of someone loudly clearing his throat came unexpectedly. Mal and Simon looked to the door and Simon felt as if he'd die of embarrassment when he saw that of all the crew, the Sheppard stood there.
Mal recovered quickly and seemed unfazed after his initial surprise. "Sheppard, think you could come a'knockin' later... as in, much later?" To Simon he murmured, "Fang xin."
Book was good at keeping his eyes locked on Mal's face. "Captain, I believe you'd be interested in what exactly is going on with your crew?"
"I'm listenin'," Mal prompted when Book didn't continue.
One eyebrow raised, Book asked with some amusement, "Wouldn't we all be a little more comfortable with some clothes on?" Simon quite agreed. Though Mal stubbornly seemed determined not to back down.
"Mal?" a female voice made its way to them down the hallway, and Simon felt Mal tense.
Simon drew back, suddenly not caring about what Book saw as he reached blindly for a blanket to put something solid between him and Mal.
Inara's footsteps echoed down the hall nearby. Simon caught Book watching him with a sympathetic gaze. Simon looked away quickly, not sure what that meant and sure that he didn't want to see Inara's expression.
"Mal, are you all right?" Inara asked as she turned into the room. And stopped dead still. Her lips parted in shock as she looked back and forth between the two naked men. It took her a few moments to recover, but when she did, she put on a brave face. "Well, something like this was bound to happen with that shipment of yours."
Simon closed his eyes as he felt the world around him fall apart. He heard Mal shifting position, sitting up.
"What're you talkin' about?" Mal asked gruffly. Simon heard the rustling of cloth as Mal put on his pants and stepped away.
"Your client's shipment," Inara repeated haughtily, Simon knew she was glaring daggers at Mal-maybe even at him. "One of those containers came unsealed and those supposedly harmless flowers aren't exactly what you were led to believe. The pollen got into Serenity's air and affected the crew. It acts as an aphrodisiac and lowers a person's natural inhibitions."
Simon swallowed with some difficulty and wished he was anywhere but here. He knew why Inara was so mad, now; she must be insulted that Mal hadn't gone to her-or maybe he had and then decided he needed more? That thought was almost worse than Mal seeking him out for some visceral relief in the first place.
His voice strangely devoid of emotion, Mal asked, "Did you fix it?"
"Yes. The Sheppard and I took care of it a little while ago. In a few hours things should be back to normal," Inara said.
There was a long pause and Simon felt more than one pair of eyes on him. "Inara, I need to speak with you, alone," Mal intoned. Simon listened to them leave and quickly pulled the blanket further up his body.
He was surprised when Book came to sit beside him and handed over Simon's clothes. "Here you are, son."
Simon couldn't meet the Sheppard's gaze but he did accept his clothes and slipped on his shirt. As he began to button the shirt he realized that enough buttons were missing to make the action obsolete. He leaned against the bulkhead and squeezed his eyes shut tightly.
"Fang xin," Book told him gently. He rested his hand on Simon's shoulder encouragingly and finally got Simon to look at him. Simon felt a mixture of relief and confusion when he saw nothing but kindness in the Sheppard's expression. "Don't look so shocked," Book said with a small laugh. "We're all the good Lord's children."
"Strange reaction from a cleric, Sheppard," Simon said quietly.
Book shook his head with a tolerant smile. "Whatever order you're familiar with, son, I can tell you I'm not very proud if they have you fearing some holy wrath upon following your heart."
Simon snorted in disbelief. "I thought all this was an uninhibited sexual frenzy?" he said with distaste.
Book frowned. "Simon, it's not an excuse, but Inara is hurt and angry right now and was not exactly truthful." Simon remained skeptically silent. "If the pollen really was a non-exclusive aphrodisiac, don't you think Inara or myself would have given in? We found out that the chemical properties of the pollen lowers a person's inhibitions and can increase libido, but what interested the Captain's client is the fact that an affected person will only seek out the person or people that he or she cares for, dong ma?"
Simon stared at Book for a long while, trying to figure out if he should believe what he'd just heard.
Book stood up. "Think on it for a spell. Why would Inara be so angry?" He patted Simon's shoulder as he left and considerately closed the door.
Slowly Simon slipped on his pants and gathered the rest of his clothes and shoes. He made his way back to his room unnoticed and found another shirt to wear. He supposed that he would have to let Kaylee give him some mismatched buttons for replacements unless he could find all of the originals.
He sat down on his bed and stared at his shirt, running his fingers over the snapped threads where buttons had been attached and thought about everything that had happened up until Book's interruption.
When he let the Sheppard's words sink in, Simon had to admit that something that would enhance a person's natural desires - and wouldn't lead Mal straight to Inara - would be what would upset her. With that in mind, a load of entirely new questions arose. Didn't Mal love Inara? What did it mean that Mal had been avoiding him and then gave in eagerly? And why had Simon invited Mal to stay without any questions?
Frustrated, Simon balled up the shirt and threw it across the room, disappointed when it unfolded mid-air and fluttered down only a few feet away. A brief thought of Jayne entered his mind and he groaned in annoyance. What in God's name did it mean that the big mercenary had searched for him?
Giving up, Simon lay down and tried to fall asleep.
~ * ~ * ~
"Good afternoon ladies an' gents, this is your Captain speakin'." Mal's wry voice carried through the ship's comm. "We're comin' up on Ravina in ‘bout an hour an' could do with a pilot up here so we don't go crashin' through the atmosphere. Everybody get refreshed an' pretty, we got cargo burnin' a hole in my boat."
Simon had rolled onto his back to stare at the speaker by his door while Mal spoke. He wasn't sure how long he slept and wondered if it was a side effect from the strange pollen. Now that he had rested, he realized how ridiculous the whole situation sounded. Nonetheless, he couldn't exactly doubt the facts.
Needing to assure himself that everyone had recovered, he got up and finished dressing. He ventured into the hallway and passed Book's open door, the Sheppard busy pulling his hair back into its orderly bun.
"Feeling better, son?"
Simon nodded, "Yes, thank you."
"Good, good. I think you'll find the crew in better shape."
Simon entered the lounge area outside the infirmary and found River sound asleep on the couch. He knelt next to her and gently tucked wild strands of hair behind her ear. She shifted slightly towards his touch but remained asleep. He found Kaylee humming to herself in the kitchen
"Afternoon!" she greeted cheerfully.
"Ah... How are you feeling?" he asked carefully, at a loss as to how to handle this delicately.
Kaylee stopped what she was doing and blinked at him. "I feel fine. Shouldn't I be?"
"I mean, you know how things were going before...? So, do you feel better now?"
She rolled her eyes and laughed. "Oh, this ‘bout that silly cargo? Sheppard let us all know. Way I see it, ain't any worse'n a coupla drinks."
"Um, right..." Simon turned to go.
"Cap'n's with Zoe and Wash on the bridge!" Kaylee called out helpfully. Simon winced, remembering that Kaylee had been one of the people looking in on the infirmary that morning. Speaking of which...
"Do you know where Jayne is?" Simon asked before leaving.
"Ain't seen ‘im," Kaylee answered. "Last I saw, River kicked ‘im good an' hard."
Simon decided he didn't want to know the details so he quickly left. He paused at the bottom of the steps leading to the bridge. He could hear bits of the conversation taking place, mostly between Zoe and Mal. From his position he could only see the back of Wash's head and Zoe standing beside his chair.
"Sex talk, stop now!" Wash shouted abruptly.
Simon dropped back and decided he wasn't quite ready to face more of the crew. Hastily he returned to his bunk.
~ * ~ * ~
"Simon! They're going to let the roots grow in the ground again," River sang as she opened Simon's door and leaned in. She balanced like a ballerina on one foot and smiled happily at him.
Setting aside the file he'd been reading, Simon smiled for his sister's benefit and stood up. "Are we supposed to stay back here, mei mei?"
River gracefully made the transition to standing tip-toe on both feet and turned around slowly. "Captain says you should help transplant the flowers," she said matter-of-factly. "We shouldn't go very far, else we lose our way in the woods. No pebbles or bread crumbs." She spread her arms to show him and Simon smiled gently.
"Alright, mei mei." River followed him at her own pace as Simon made his way to the hold.
Kaylee held the inventory sheet and seemed to be directing the unloading. She smiled brightly when she saw Simon and River approaching.
"Hiya, Simon! Could use some extra muscle, you up to it?"
Simon eyed the large crates, not at all sure that he was. Jayne passed by at that moment and grunted. "Scrawny prissy-boy ain't gonna help."
Not about to let Jayne get the upper hand, Simon walked over to help Book get another crate. Getting it off the floor was the toughest part and his body protested against the strain on his muscles, but he was determined to follow through. He'd probably get used to this if he and River continued to stay aboard.
"Nice and easy," Book directed when they got to the flatbed trailer at the bottom of the ramp.
Wash double checked the mostly repaired mule. He glanced up at Simon as the crate was loaded and gave a short nod and an encouraging smile.
"Up to getting another one, son?" Book asked. Simon bit back a groan and followed the Sheppard back into the hold. They passed Jayne and Mal on the ramp.
With everything loaded up, Mal ordered Kaylee and Zoe to go with Wash. After dropping off the merchandise they would head into town and load up on supplies. River pouted and soon had Kaylee on her side and turning pleading eyes on the captain. Scowling, Mal gave in and said River could go on out. He glanced at Simon but asked Book if he'd go with to keep an eye on the girls. Simon was surprised and watched Mal for some hint as to why he wasn't going.
Jayne grumbled choice phrases under his breath before heading back to his bunk. All too soon Simon realized that he and Mal had been left alone. Mal went to the door controls and locked up since the others wouldn't be back for a few hours.
"Why didn't you tell me to look after my sister?" Simon asked quietly.
Back still turned, Mal said, "You didn't exactly jump at the chance to go into town."
"It hasn't stopped you before," Simon responded dryly.
Mal turned to face him and shrugged casually. "Mayhap there's this thing called talkin' we need to engage in." A quirked eyebrow questioned Simon if he would object.
"Maybe there is," Simon agreed.
Silence was the only thing to fill the space between them for long moments.
"Tiana," Mal muttered. "Look, I had a nice long chat with Inara and got some things clear - includin' that bit of omission on her part." Simon carefully kept his emotions from showing. Mal glared at him in annoyance but continued, "Things got off to a bad start this mornin' and I'm sorry about that."
"Things have been strange, it's al-" Simon started.
"No it ain't." Mal caught Simon's gaze. "Seein' as that's the case, I figured we oughtta try again?"
Simon caught sight of a lively spark in the captain's eyes and smiled slowly. "I suppose I could agree to some experimentation. In the name of science, of course."
Mal nodded solemnly. "Of course. Perhaps a change of locale this time, Doctor?" His arm wrapped snugly around Simon's shoulders.
"What did you have in mind?"
"Oh," Mal said as he led the way, "I was thinkin' a bit more room and better privacy? Say... Captain's bunk?"
"Has a lock?"
"Can't have a body murderin' the captain in his sleep."
~ * Fin * ~
Go se = Crap
Nah mei guan-she = In that case, nevermind
Tyen shiao-duh = Name of what's sacred/God knows what
Lao tian ye = Oh God / Jesus
Ren ci de fo zu = Merciful Buddha
Tzao-gao = damn it
Àirén = Lover
Wo de tian a = Dear god in heaven
Fang xin = Don't worry
Dong ma = Understand?