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Disclaimer: Firefly and all related elements, characters and indicia © Mutant Enemy Productions and 20th Century Fox Television, 2003. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situationssave those created by the authors for use solely on this websiteare copyright Mutant Enemy Productions and 20th Century Fox Television.
Author's Note: Derra IV is from the Star Wars universe, first seen by me in the X-Wing books by Michael Stackpole. I liked the name so I used it again. (please don't kill me Mr.'s Stackpole or Lucas)
Malcolm Reynolds couldn't figure out what was worse; having the Doc talk to him or having the man glare at him in closed-lipped silence. Simon could ramble on about supplies needed, apologies for his sister, or make breathless excuses as to why he really didn't want to get off the ship through a docking tube in deep space. Then his emotional moon swung to a darkside orbit and all Mal got was clipped replies to questions, cold looks of disgusting superiority at Mal's orders, or a pale arm wrapped around River's shivering shoulders and an even paler look of reproach if Mal got upset at the girl.
All in all it was a most vexing situation. He never should have gotten that drunk on Derra IV. He never should have let Zoe and Wash leave him in that tavern. Jayne, well Jayne had left long before Mal even noticed though Zoe claimed the huge man just went to "have some fun an' not trouble. Leastwise that's what he said, Sir." The gunner had gone to a pit fight and earned some credits Mal found out laterJayne showed up with a black eye and a huge grin. Inara wasn't around as she had a client to cosset, Book never indulged and Kaylee was elbow deep in the engine again, so Mal had continued to drink alone. A classic mistake he really should have known better than to do.
When Mal drank alone he got introspective. To be honest, he got deeply morose and staring out at the dusty, barren landscape of Derra IV didn't help to bring his spirits up. All the nameless faces of the men and women who fought and died during the war kept floating in his mind. It hurt to no longer remember their names. He should have been able to remember. They *died* around him and he couldn't remember so he drank more.
That night, well into the suffocating darkness that marked that planet, Simon had wandered in. Mal hadn't know how long he'd been there, how long he'd been sucking up the oily alcohol in front of him, but he was well past being able to focus. In fact it took him several minutes to realize that Simon was Simon and standing in front of him.
"Doc! S'at you? Well then pull up a chair an' have a drink!"
Simon had shook his head and squatted down close to Mal's side. "No, Captain Reynolds, I think I'll decline. In fact, I think it would be nice if you accompanied me back to the ship. Please."
Mal had fixed Simon with what he'd been sure was a confident grin and said he'd stay a bit longer and sit down and have a drink. Simon had heard "S'fineDoc. Stayins'notclosed. An' siddownhafadrin.." with the Captain grinning at him like a loon and waving a limp hand at him.
"CaptainMal, I think... Lord." Simon had rubbed a hand across his face and switched tactics. "Malcolm, please, I need your help with something aboard Serenity."
Mal's eyes had lit up at that. Simon asked for help! With the ship! Well, on the ship and that was dandy! He was the Captain and he knew just what to do. As soon as he could find his feet.
The trip back to Serenity was still a blur to Mal. He knew he got distracted by something at one point. Something shiny and silky with buttons. He knew Simon had coaxed, wheedled, threatened and pushed and pulled him onboard. He knew he damn near broke his head open falling down the ladder to his room. He knew that his bed had been cold but the body he'd grabbed onto, kissed behind an ear, held until it stopped squirming with a sigh, had been warm.
Yup, pretty bad thing to go feel up the Doctor and only really remember it days later. It didn't help that Wash mentioned just how drunk he was and Simon came bar crawling to find him and keep him from doing something stupid. No wonder the man kept glaring at him. How in the hell was he going to explain? Being drunk enough to molest wasn't something he'd done before and he sure as hell couldn't justify it now. And with one go se situation after another popping up, he wasn't sure when he'd have time too.
Mal nearly shot up out of his chair. How did the little dandy move so quietly? Simon was standing in the mess hall door, looking chagrined. "Yeah, what's up? Book still all right?"
"He's fine and still resting." Simon said. "The Alliance gave him the best care for that gunshot. He'll heal up fine as long as we avoid gunfights at dropoff point next time. A man of the cloth gets shot and we will defiantly go to Hell." Simon smirked. "Of course, much like everyone else on this ship, I'm arguing with him on when he can get up."
Mal nodded, a crooked grin on his face. "Looks like we're just a stubborn crew then. Darn it, I knew I shoulda asked for a complacent one."
Simon laughed quietly. "Somehow I doubt you'd enjoy that much. I just wanted to thank you again. Your arrival was perfect and dramatic as usual. Zoe and you time things that way, don't you?"
"Well, I don't want to give away secrets but we just might." So Simon was talking to him again? Good, maybe he was off the hook then. " `Sides, better a live Doc than another trip to an Alliance base."
"And here I though you rescued us out of the kindness of your heart." Simon replied.
"Like I told Jayne, you an' your sister are part of the crew. Rescues come with that. Usually. Unless I'm real busy."
Something in the look the doctor gave him made Mal wince inside. It wasn't a hurt look per se, but it had a hard quality that Mal wasn't sure he liked. It didn't set right in the young, open face. Good, part of his brain told him, the boy's learning the real facts of life. Shut up was all the other part had to allow.
"Why did you do it?" Simon asked softly.
"Well, like I said, an' only gonna say it once more, you're part of..."
"Not that." Simon waved his hand impatiently. "Why did you kiss me?"
It probably wasn't good business sense or captain sense to want an attack or an engine malfunction, but Mal couldn't help it. Did he really think he was off the hook? With the Doc being one to beat horses until they were smears on the deck? Any pithy reply he might have made not only refused to come, but plain up and died on his lips each time he opened his mouth.
"Let me forestall any of the expected excuses." Simon sat, looking a touch smug but a might more weary than Mal had seen him look. "You don't remember it. You were drunk. You didn't realize it was me."
"That pretty much covers anything I can think of." Mal said, a tight smile on his face. "I can apologize if it will help."
Simon snorted. "You do that? I didn't think it was part of ship's rules."
Mal sat and clenched his fists on his knees. That stung even if he wouldn't admit it out loud. He might not have the same principals as everyone else but he had some.
"I can and I do." His voice was quiet and even. "I do recollect what happened for the most part. The details are a bit blurry is all. I *was* drunk but that ain't an excuse, least not one I'd accept of myself. I ain't likely to get that sloppy again, if you're worried about that, and I ain't gonna take that advantage again either."
"Good." Simon's smile was close to genuine as he stood. "Because the next time someone on this ship kisses me, I'd prefer them sober. It's a little easier to respond if they don't pass out."
Mal just stared at Simon's retreating back, replies once again dead on his lips. Then a small smile formed. If Simon preferred sober, then he'd get sober.