Down for the Count
Wang bao dahn = dirty bastard sons of
Tzao gao = oh, crap
Ma shong = fast/on the double
Lao tien foo = oh, Lord/God
Swai = handsome
Baobei = baby
Shee = shit
Yeh-soo = Jesus
Simon tensed as he heard Mal's familiar tread behind him. The young doctor paused briefly with his chopsticks partway to his mouth before continuing to eat, lips tight as he strained to track the captain's unseen approach. The only other person in the eating area was Book. The Shepherd's kind face looked bemused but the preacher remained silent, making it clear that there would be no help from that quarter.
The footsteps veered off to the side for a moment before creaking closer. Mal's boots needed to be oiled, not that Simon would ever mention it. In fact, Simon thought as he dug the chopsticks almost viciously into the innocent protein mush in his bowl, he hoped the neglected boots pinched Mal's toes. A blister might seem petty but it was still painful in an irritating sort of way.
As far as he was concerned, Mal Reynolds deserved all the irritation he could get.
And then some.
Something of Simon's vindictive thoughts must have shown in his face because Book sighed gently and shook his head before bending down to concentrate on his own breakfast. Simon continued to sit ramrod straight as he kept up the pretense of eating. It took an iron will to keep his shoulders from twitching. The footsteps had stopped and he knew - just *knew* - that Mal was standing behind him... looking at him with that knowing smirk of his... just standing there all smug and waiting to provoke a reaction... silently lording it over Simon....
"Do you *mind*?" Simon finally snapped, tossing his chopsticks onto the table and turning to glare at the captain.
Mal was leaning against the counter, taking a sip of coffee. His dark blue eyes danced at Simon over the rim of the mug, their sparkling depths seeming to mock the doctor. The captain's Adams apple bobbed as he leisurely swallowed his mouthful and Mal made a show of looking at Simon before speaking.
"That's a bit vague, Doc, don'cha think? There's a whole passel of things in this 'verse that don't bother me much." He stopped and shook his mug gently so that the cooling liquid in it slowly swirled. Mal's eyes shot back up and fixated on Simon. "Then again, seems reasonable to me that every man's got one or two things that he minds. Kind of you to ask."
Simon clenched his teeth at Mal's obviously deliberate misunderstanding. "I meant," he said slowly, careful to enunciate each syllable clearly, "Is there a purpose to you standing there. Staring."
"Purpose?" Mal lifted his mug, face shining with innocence. "Kitchen. Coffee. Seems obvious to me."
"Do tell." Simon crossed his arms over his chest. "Then why are you skulking around instead of sitting at the table and being sociable?"
Mal's eyebrows shot up. "Skulking? A man tries to be polite and walk in without disturbing his ship mates, who are obviously concentrating on breaking their morning fast, and he gets accused of skulking?" The captain pushed himself off the counter and headed for the door, saluting Simon with his coffee mug as he walked by. "I do think somebody got out of the wrong side of the bed this mornin', Doc. Or maybe you didn't get enough sleep. Gotta be more careful of your health there, Simon." Mal nodded at Book before leaving to walk down the corridor and out of sight.
Simon sighed explosively and slumped in his chair. Somehow, this wasn't working out quite the way he'd imagined. After luring Mal and Jayne out of the ship and tricking them into dyeing their genitalia blue, his opponents were supposed to be humiliated, chagrined, and perhaps even a bit angry. Okay, a lot angry. Simon had expected shouting and maybe even some hand waving when the two older men returned to Serenity, especially since their glorious azure return to the spacecraft had been witnessed by the rest of the crew. He'd been prepared for unpleasantness, but it had been worth it to show them both that Simon Tam was not a man to be trifled with.
Instead, however, Mal and Jayne had been... nice. Polite, even.
Their reaction was most disconcerting. Simon found himself wincing whenever Mal called him by name and outright flinching when Jayne pulled his chair out for him at dinner. There were times when Simon swore the two older men's faces would crack from smiling so widely at him and he'd begun to watch their cheeks carefully for signs of skin fractures. Any other men and he would come to the conclusion that he was being courted... except it was Mal and Jayne he was talking about. Simon rather doubted that Jayne even knew what the word "woo" meant, except as a sound to utter before "hoo."
"They're toying with me," Simon muttered under his breath. He'd picked his chopsticks up again and had begun to bounce them off his thumb in an agitated manner.
"That's obvious," Book responded.
Simon had completely forgotten the preacher was there and looked at him wordlessly. As positive as he was that he was being played with, it was worrisome to hear Book agree with him so readily.
"I can't say I'd blame them, either," the Shepherd continued. When Simon shot him a hurt look, Book explained. "That *was* an awfully vivid shade of blue, son."
"They deserved it," Simon said defiantly. He'd had to have this conversation with everyone except Zoe. Oddly enough, Mal's second in command had needed no explanation for the doctor's actions. Whether she approved of his tactics or not was anyone's guess, but Simon liked to think that there was now a smidgeon of respect in the warrior woman's eyes when she looked his way.
"Oh, I'm not doubting that they did," Book responded as he got up and began rinsing his bowl. "But it reminds me of this phrase you might be familiar with...."
"I know, I know," Simon waved him off. "'Turn the other cheek.'"
Book dried his hands and looked at the younger man. "That's a good one too, but that's not the phrase I meant." He patted Simon's shoulder in a fatherly manner. "I was thinking more along the lines of 'payback's a bitch.'"
With a last pat, Book left in the same direction that Mal had taken earlier, leaving Simon alone with his thoughts.
"C'mon, Mal, when we gonna get to the humpin' part of the plan?" Jayne whined at his co- conspirator. The two men were in a corner of the cargo area, discussing their favorite topic. Namely, Simon.
Mal stifled an exasperated sigh. Jayne was a good man in a fight, but the planning stages always made the big merc antsy. It was best to just tell Jayne what he had to do and when he had to get it done, leaving the scheming part of the operation to those better equipped to deal with it. Cobb hadn't exactly been hired for his thinking abilities, anyway.
Simon, on the other hand... that boy had an agile mind. Mal tended to forget that, allowing himself to be distracted by how pretty the younger man was. But after a hands-on demonstration, so to speak, of how Simon could apply his impressive intellect to less-than-honorable actions... Mal was seeing the doctor in a whole new light. Instead of being put off by Simon's prank, Mal found himself drawn to the aristocrat even more strongly than before.
In fact, the thought of Simon wrapping that impressive intellect around the details of a job excited Mal almost as much as the thought of that pretty mouth wrapped around a certain engorged part of Mal's body.
"It's been weeks now," Jayne continued to complain. "I thought we were just softenin' the doc up while we waited t'get the blue offa our dicks?"
"Patience, my good man," Mal replied cheerfully. "This is a job where the payoff will definitely be worth the time setting it up. Trust me."
Jayne narrowed his eyes as he looked at the captain. "You don't *have* a plan, do ya, Mal?" He asked suspiciously.
Mal looked hurt. "Have you *ever* known me to begin a job without a plan fully in place?"
"Hell, yes," Jayne responded without hesitation.
"Well, all right, maybe once or twice," the captain reluctantly conceded, holding up one hand to stall the inevitable protest. "The 'xact number don't matter none. What matters is making sure Simon don't figure out what we're doin' until we're ready." Mal pointed a cautionary finger at Jayne. "And that means you keep goin' on and treatin' Simon the way you been doin'."
Jayne growled. "Gorramit, Mal! There's only so much of that crap I can take."
Mal lifted one eyebrow. "You're being polite to the man - how is that a chore?"
"Pullin' his chair out fer him, not bumpin' inta him in the hall, makin' sure Simon gets first choice at the supper table," Jayne's eyes started to glaze over as he recited his list. "All that, an' he smells so damn good, an' his skin's so soft, an' his clothes are fancy... an' his eyes... a fella could get lost in eyes like that."
Reynolds' expression softened. "Yeah, the doc's in a class all by himself and that's a fact."
The two men were lost in their reverie for a moment, eyes unfocused and breathing a little harder than normal. Then, each realizing that he'd let his guard down in front of the other, both made an effort to pull themselves together.
Mal cleared his throat and shifted his stance uneasily. "Point is, Simon's a clever fella and not as trusting as he was when he came on board. We got to take our time and set it up right."
Jayne had hidden his embarrassment by pulling out a knife and meticulously buffing it with his sleeve. "All right," he grudgingly agreed. "I guess it ain't like I got something better to do to pass the time."
Mal hid his surprise at the ease of Jayne's capitulation. Looking closely at the merc, he noticed the flush on the big man's face and the way Jayne was going to great lengths to avoid Mal's eyes. "You're not falling for the doc, now, are you, Jayne?"
"Nah," Jayne said, a little too quickly - and still not looking at Mal. "He might smell sweet, but the boy's just a job to me."
A giggle coming from the darkness above them prevented Mal from answering. Jayne sprang from the box he'd been seated on, joining Mal in peering into the dim and dusty depths of the cargo bay.
"Shouldn't think of Simon as a job," River's voice drifted down to them. "Loving Simon is a profession, a life-long body," her words were punctuated by another giggle, "of work requiring specialized knowledge and dedication."
With a flip and twirl of fabric, the girl was suddenly standing in front of them. Even though he'd been watching, Mal hadn't seen exactly where she'd come from.
Jayne just blinked at her and sheathed his knife before grunting, "Huh."
River waited, seeming to expect an answer. Judging by the dumbfounded look on Jayne's face, Mal figured it was up to him.
"I'm not sure how much you overheard there, River-girl and, trust me, we're going to have a talk someday about the politeness of eavesdroppin' on folk..." Mal stopped and gathered himself before going completely off on a tangent. "But Jayne and me, we don't mean your brother any harm..."
"Wouldn't hurt a hair on his fancy head," Jayne interjected, looking about as innocent as boy caught with one hand in the cookie jar. "Ain't innerested in his head no how, 'cept for that pretty mouth."
Mal glared at him. "Like I was saying, we're not planning on hurting Simon, it's just we're... we're playing a game with him."
"Not a game," River interrupted solemnly. "Whether it's to perpetuate the species or for purposes of True Love, choosing a mate is one of the most profound responsibilities in the life cycle." She glanced at Jayne slyly. "Did you know, other than humanity, the only other animal that mates for fickle reasons is the ape?"
"Girl's a Tam all right," Jayne muttered, "got a mouth on her the size of..." the big man subsided when Mal glared at him again.
"River," Mal began awkwardly as he patted the girl on the shoulder. Sex was not a topic he was comfortable talking about, especially to teenaged females. "Just so you know, we're not gonna... there'll be no... that is to say, if Simon says no, that's the end of it. We won't be forcing him." Another glare was shot in Jayne's general direction, to make sure *all* parties were clear on that point.
River's expression became one of sadness. "Won't say no. Just doesn't know how to say yes." A sigh seeming to big for her slight body escaped River's lips then, as though she'd released all of the negative feelings contained within her along with it, she turned back to Mal with a beatific smile. "Daddy'll fix it."
Jayne's eyes got wide and he chuckled evilly. The captain winced. Trust River to call him that when there was an audience. Especially when that audience was Jayne.
"Considering the type of activity I would like to partake in with your brother," Mal said through clenched teeth, "'Daddy' don't seem like somethin' you should be callin' me."
River rolled her eyes. "Not Simon's daddy. My daddy."
"That makes it ever so much better, thank you," Mal muttered.
Jayne's chuckle became a laugh and he clapped Mal on the shoulder heartily. "Shoot, shoulda told us, Mal. Coulda bought a box of them 'It's a girl' cigars at the last stop."
Mal glared at him. "I ain't nobody's daddy," he said firmly over Jayne's chuckle and River's giggles.
The girl's happiness was fleeting, however, and didn't last in the wake of the responsibility of getting the two men to understand what she was trying to tell them about her brother. "You've got to make Simon soup."
"Aw, hell, can't neither of us cook," Jayne whined.
Mal looked at River closely, judging the frustration in the her eyes. "I don't think that's what she meant, is it, River?"
River smiled at him gratefully, long hair flying around her as she shook her head vigorously. "Not make soup for Simon, make Simon soup."
"Like that makes any more sense," Jayne scoffed.
"You chopped up the ingredients already, with kisses that cut to the core. Simon added the seasoning... and the food coloring too," River smiled suddenly at that but the expression was quickly replaced by a desperate look as she tried to make her point. "Been simmering for weeks now. All you got to do is bring it to a boil and you're done," her hands fluttered helplessly as her words came to a halt.
"That's the problem," Mal said, forgetting for the moment that he was asking for relationship advice from an emotionally and mentally disturbed teenager. "Finding a way to make Simon good and hot that don't send him off runnin'."
Jayne shrugged. "Don't see what the big deal is. We just make it so he can't run."
"No forcing!" River snarled, fending off visions of Simon being the one tied in the chair, medical implements clacking all round him, being welded by malevolent blue hands....
"No forcing," Mal agreed, coming up behind her and putting his hands on her shoulders. "But, girl, aren't you the one insisting that he won't say no?"
River calmed as the captain's warm touch grounded her. "No," she shrugged, "he won't say no....the troubled knight's passion is sleeping but he should have the chance to say no when his Princes Charming come to kiss him awake."
"He'll have a choice," Mal solemnly assured her. "There'll be no forcing, you have my word."
River smiled at him tremulously. "I knew Daddy could fix it."
"That don't answer the question, though," Jayne grumbled. "How we gonna get the doc to hold still in the first place?"
River grinned, pulled Mal down by the ear, and whispered hoarsely. "Want to know a secret?"
Mal nodded cautiously and River tiptoed up to breathe a few words in his ear. When the captain pulled back, he was grinning widely. "Mighty obliged, River, that'll help."
"No forcing," she reminded him, shaking a finger at Mal solemnly.
"No forcing," he agreed, equally serious.
After looking at Mal deeply for a long moment, River nodded slowly and twirled out of sight. Mal looked contemplative but content, until Jayne began whining again.
"What did you go and promise that for," Jayne complained. "How we gonna get him if we can't make it so he can't run?"
"Now, Jayne, you knew there'd be no real forcing the doc," Mal corrected him. When the mercenary started to scowl, Mal's expression lightened up. "I promised the girl I'd let her brother make the choice, but there's nothing wrong with making sure he don't make it prematurely."
Jayne wasn't sure that using the word "prematurely" was a good thing when talking about sex, but after a minute, he realized what his co-conspirator was hinting at. "Is that a fancy way of sayin' we're gonna make it so the doc can't run?"
"Yes, Jayne," Mal confirmed with a sigh of long-suffering. "But, if we can't convince him, then we let him go and that's final."
The merc scratched at his head and then conceded the point. "Okay, he don't say yes, then we stop." He looked up at Mal. "What did that crazy-ass sister of his whisper to you anyway?"
Mal's expression was far too innocent. "Oh, just a little something about Simon being a mite bit ticklish."
Jayne's dirty laugh of response was every bit as evil as Mal had hoped.
Simon knew he still had a nose because it itched. As for the rest of his body, it seemed rather vague and far away. That should have worried him, but he was too warm and fuzzy to care. Ignoring the itching nose and lack of other physical form with the mental determination that allowed him to finish medical school a year early, he snuggled back into his pillow, determined to enjoy more sleep.
Except... there was no pillow either.
That was really too bad, Simon reflected as he again began to drift back into slumber. It had been a nice pillow, all soft and cuddly. One of the few things on Serenity, he'd found, that didn't have hard edges.
Another tickle to his nose interrupted Simon's sleepy philosophy.
"River," he said without opening his eyes, using that cross tone of voice that was universal to older brothers everywhere, "go 'way, 'm tryin' to sleep."
The chuckles that answered him were a couple of octaves too deep. That, and the fact that he couldn't raise his hand to bat away the annoying tickle, finally caused Simon to make the effort to open his eyes.
He immediately shut them again, sure that he was still dreaming.
"Ah, ah, ah, none of that," Mal's voice chided him. "We saw your eyes open."
"Aw, let him pretend." A smirk was evident in the tone of Jayne's voice. "If he's play-actin' at bein' asleep, just means we can play with him some more, pretendin' to wake him up."
The glee that statement was said with caused Simon's eyes to pop right open. The sight before him hadn't changed any. Mal and Jayne were still standing in front of him, wearing nothing but a grin. Each man held a large feather, and Simon knew why his nose had tickled. He was somewhat relieved to realize that he himself was still clad in his blue silk boxers, if nothing else. That relief was mitigated, however, by the further realization that his hands were bound and he was dangling from them, like so much meat on a hook. As far as he could tell, his toes were only a few inches off the floor, but it might as well been meters, for all the good it did him. The room itself, he didn't recognize.
Payback was apparently upon him and, as Book had warned, it was indeed a bitch.
"What is going on here?" Simon demanded with more aplomb than he felt.
"Kind of thought it would be obvious," Mal said while he circled Simon, "to a sophisticated Core gentleman like yourself."
Simon twisted in his bonds as he tried to follow the captain's movements, but only caused himself to start swaying.
"Lookit that," Jayne chuckled. "Boy's all rarin' to go."
"I am not raring for anything," Simon spat out. "I insist that you take me down right now."
"Insist, do you?" Mal responded said casually, trailing his feather along the sensitive skin beneath Simon's armpit. "You sure about that, Simon?"
The light brushing touch caused goose bumps to raise on Simon's skin and his nipples to tighten. He ignored both sensations as best he could, continuing to glare at the other men. "Quite sure."
"I dunno 'bout that," Jayne sauntered over, wielding his feather like a sword. "Seems to me we owe you for a case of the blue balls." Using a surprisingly delicate touch, Jayne brushed the feather along the back of Simon's knees. "Gotta hand it to you, Doc. That were the longest case of blue balls I ever had."
Simon did his best to stretch his body away from the wispy torture device. "It was only a dye. I didn't physically harm you."
Jayne pressed his body close, his burgeoning cock hot against Simon's skin. "Weren't talking 'bout the paint job, Doc."
Mal cleared his throat. The sight of a nude Jayne sidling up to a nearly nude Simon did strange things to his insides. Problem was, though, he didn't know if that was a good thing or not.
"What Jayne's sayin' is, we underestimated you," Mal said, putting false cheer into his voice. "Shouldn't have happened and I can guarantee you that it won't happen again."
"So, what is this, some sort of sick revenge?" Simon held on to his anger with an air of desperation.
Mal tapped the feather against Simon's nose, the younger man's eyes almost crossing as he tried to keep an eye on its movements. "Do either of us look like vengeful men?" Simon opened his mouth and Mal started talking again. "Okay, we both *are* vengeful men but this here isn't about getting back at you for what you done. No, this is more like what's good for the goose is good for the gander."
"Ow!" Simon did his best to turn his head to look back at Jayne, who had just pinched him on the ass.
"What did you do that for?" Mal demanded.
Jayne looked confused. "What? I thought you said to goose him."
Mal rolled his eyes. "No hands, Jayne," he reminded his co-conspirator. "Just the feather." Mal turned back to Simon. "You had us put ourselves on display so we could see the merchandise. Just seemed to us we ought to get the same chance."
"That was different," Simon sputtered. He was having difficulty talking because he was so angry. Jayne, who had lost interest in the conversation between the other two men, had started stroking his feather across the top of Simon's feet, further interrupting Simon's concentration.
"Really." Mal said flatly, no question in his voice.
Simon started to wiggle, testing the strength of his bonds. "You did that to yourselves! All I did was give you a suggestion, you just made an assumption! I didn't put that dye on you, the two of you handled that all on your own. You could have said no but this," he gestured at his bound hands with his head, "this doesn't give me a choice."
"Oh, there'll be no forcing going on here," Mal reassured him, his wolfish grin keeping him from being entirely successful on that front. "We're just wanting you to hang around until we've had a chance to convince you. Right, Jayne?"
"Right, Mal," Jayne answered with a leer. He held up his feather. "Now?"
Mal looked at Simon, enjoying the rosy flush coloring the doctor's skin. "Now."
With that, both men descended on their victim. Jayne seemed intent on discovering which spot on Simon's body was the most sensitive. He trailed his feather all over the younger man's exposed flesh, keeping careful track of which touch caused a shiver or nearly-repressed moan. Mal, on the other hand, was much more focused. He manipulated his feather with agile fingers, sending it into the slit in the front of Simon's boxers. He tickled and stroked the penis hidden within the garment until Simon's cock started to swell. Soon, it was causing the silken fabric to tent, the engorged head peeping out of the opening as if seeking more of the feathery caresses.
For his part, Simon was struggling to stay in control. At first, he strove to maintain a shred of dignity but it didn't take long for that to change to simply trying not to start begging as his body writhed in response to Jayne and Mal's ministrations. His toes curled as he dangled in helpless thrall to the sensations tearing through his body. When he realized that the 'please' trying to come out of his throat was for *more*, however, something snapped.
"Stop it!" Simon threw back his head and howled, all pretense at control or finesse gone. "Wang bao dahn - just stop it."
Simon's shout took Mal and Jayne by surprise. Caught up in what they were doing, neither man had realized that Simon's squirming had been desperation as much as enjoyment. Feathers drooping, they stared at their captive. Simon's chest was heaving as he fought to rein in his reaction, but neither of his tormenters took pleasure in the sight.
"You've had your revenge," Simon said, eyes closed and head resting against one of his arms. "Just leave me alone."
This had not been the reaction Mal and Jayne had been trying to achieve. Looking at each other in consternation, they dropped their feathers and moved to take Simon down. Almost stumbling over themselves in their eagerness to untie him, it took longer to lower the young man to the floor than it otherwise should have.
"Simon," Mal said with uncharacteristic hesitancy, "you okay? This... this didn't exactly work out like we had planned."
Simon sat on the floor, rubbing his newly-freed wrists. Eyes downcast, he wouldn't look at either Mal or Jayne or acknowledge the captain's question.
"Tzao gao. Didn't mean to hurt you none," Jayne said. "Been tryin' to show you what we thought of you, but you ain't been listenin'."
"By drugging me, I assume? Binding me? Torturing me?" Simon looked briefly up at Jayne before returning his attention to his wrists. "I guess that shows what you think of me."
Mal squatted down so he was at Simon's current eye level. "We were careful. Used the same injection you used on Jayne, after that botched train job. Knew it had to be safe."
Simon snorted. "If you used the same dosage, it's surprising I'm conscious. Jayne has more body mass than I do." He turned his head away. "You could have asked me."
"What?" Mal misunderstood Simon's last statement. "We couldn't very well ask you how much drug to use on you - might have ruined the surprise."
"You could have asked me," Simon repeated forlornly, still not looking at either man. "Instead of coming up with that stupid kissing contest, instead of making it a competition. You could have asked me."
Jayne knelt down. "You mean, just up and say 'Simon, can I kiss you?' You wouldn't have run?"
Simon apparently hadn't heard him. "But instead, you two have to make it a contest. Have to be devious about it. One day, you can't stand me, the next you're both courting me... what was I supposed to think?"
Jayne looked doubtfully at Mal, who just shrugged. Shrugging in return, Jayne turned back to Simon. "Simon, can I kiss you?"
"Your idea of letting me know you think I'm attractive is to humiliate me. Makes perfect sense, I suppose - I'm a bone you're fighting over...."
Simon's rant broke off as Jayne grabbed him by the chin.
"Simon. Can. I. Kiss. You?" The bigger man asked again, using exaggerated patience. Mal remained silent.
Simon looked carefully into Jayne's face. Seeing only simple want there and no trace of mockery, he smiled. "Yes, I'd like that."
Jayne bent down slowly, as if afraid that Simon would bolt. Their lips came together in a gentle touch, the kiss deepening as pulses quickened. Simon's lips parted slightly and Jayne pressed forward, his tongue introducing itself almost shyly to Simon's.
When they parted, Jayne licked his lips, savoring the lingering taste of Simon there. At the sight, the younger man groaned and pulled Jayne's head down to his again, his tongue not at all hesitant as he explored Jayne's mouth fully.
So involved were the two in their kiss that Mal almost crept away unnoticed.
"Mal, where are you going?"
It was Simon's question that stopped the captain in his tracks.
"You said all we had to do was ask, but I'm not real good at asking for things," Mal said, not looking back. "Leastways, not for anything that counts." The reason was clear in the bleak tone of his voice - because the answer the 'verse gave to Mal Reynolds for the important things he asked for was no. N - rutting - O.
Simon was in front of Mal before the older man could take another step. Jayne was a vague and warm presence behind him.
"If you can't ask, then I'll do it for you," Simon said. "Please, Mal, stay with us."
"Why?" Mal's voice cracked on the word.
Simon hands fluttered, making him look more like his sister than he ever had before. "Jayne and I are on two ends of a continuum. You're in the middle. I'm not sure he and I could go any further without you there to help us relate."
"Looks to me like you were relatin' just fine," Mal scoffed, trying to take another step.
Simon blocked him. "For a kiss, yes, but I want more than a kiss. Don't you?"
When Mal didn't answer, Jayne chimed in. "Don't know 'bout this con-tinny-um the doc's talkin' about, but hell, I can't understand most things he says if you don't translate, Mal." Jayne stepped closer to Mal, who'd forgotten until he felt the bigger man's skin flush against his own that they were both nude. "An' the view from back here ain't bad, either."
"You complete the circuit," Simon said, eyes beseeching Mal. "It's not like a Companion, Mal. It's not like you're whoring yourself out to a different partner every night. You're still loyal to your lover, there's just two of us is all."
"That's *all*, is it?" For the first time in the last several minutes, Mal smiled. "When you first came aboard, you talked about your sister bein' a brat, but you're used to gettin' your own way, aren't you?" He reached out to brush the hair out of Simon's eyes.
"Not lately," Simon responded softly, leaning into Mal's touch. "Please, Mal. It - it took me a while to figure out what I want, but now that I do, I don't want this taken from me too. Please...."
It would have taken a stronger man than Mal to resist that plea. Bending close, he kissed Simon tenderly. "So, that feel real?" He asked after he pulled back.
Simon touched his lips. "Real?"
"On Nirvinia, you said the next time one of us kissed you, it better be the real thing," Mal explained. "That fit the bill?"
"Any more real and I'd be a goner," Simon answered.
Impatient for action, Jayne nudged Mal. "Hey, Mal. Don't have to be all polite-like with me. Dong ma?"
Mal's eyes crinkled as he grinned at Jayne's enthusiasm. Wrapping one arm loosely around Simon's waist, he reached back with the other to pull Jayne's head down. Despite the awkward angle, the two managed to kiss thoroughly.
Simon found the sight high erotic, which was heightened by the way he could clearly hear the moist sounds of the kiss. "This place have a bed?" He asked breathlessly.
Mal and Jayne broke apart. "Nope." Mal said, winking at Jayne.
"Then what were you planning on using... oh, no!" Simon's eyes got wide as he looked at the hook from which he'd previously dangled. Surely, Mal and Jayne hadn't planned on using *that* for their assignation?
"Don't worry, Doc," Mal reassured him. "We have a more comfortable spot in mind for your tender self."
Jayne's voice sounded thoughtful when he said, "Ain't a bad idea, though."
Simon's eyes narrowed but he was distracted from saying anything by Mal taking his hand.
"Never mind, that's a discussion for the future," Mal said as he led Simon to the corner of what Simon could now see was a large interior space. It almost looked like an ill-read person's fantasy of what a bordello was supposed to look like. Garish draperies covered the walls and mirrors were everywhere, giving the place an air of tawdriness. Simon didn't really care, as long as the three of them continued to be the only occupants. A bed would have been nice, but when he saw what Mal was guiding him to, his eyes lit up in anticipation.
It wasn't exactly a bed, that much was true, but it was a decadent enough sleeping area to put any traditional bed to shame. A wooden frame had been built on the floor and was about a meter in height, creating a box of sorts. The top of wooden rail was padded and the area it enclosed was brimming with pillows of every size, shape, and color. It was at least three times the size of any bed Simon had seen, even amongst the most lush of Core estates.
"YeeHAW!" Jayne yelled and ran forward. The big merc jumped right in, pillows tossed in the air at the force of his impact. A few feathers drifted on the resulting breeze, giving Simon a clue as to where the other two had gotten the "torture" devices they'd been using earlier.
"You like it?" Mal asked quietly.
Dazed, Simon nodded. "It's perfect. What is this place - how did you find it?"
Mal looked smug. "I called in a few favors."
"Quit yer lallygagging," Jayne emerged from the sea of pillows and frowned at them. "Ain't we waited long enough without the two of you jawing about it?"
Mal grinned and it occurred to Simon that he'd seen the captain smile more in the last few minutes than he had the entire rest of the time he'd known him. "Man's got a point, Doc."
"He does at that," Simon answered and allowed himself to be led the last few steps to where Jayne waited for them. When he would have entered the pillow area, however, Mal stopped him.
"Wait a minute," Mal said, tugging on his hand to hold him back.
Simon and Jayne looked at each other, surprised that their sentiments so closely echoed one another.
Mal chuckled. "Don't you think someone's a little overdressed for this party?" He looked pointedly at Simon's silk boxers. Simon blushed sheepishly and moved to take them off, but two sets of hands stopped him.
"Let us," Mal explained, before turning Simon to face him and kissing him deeply.
"Unwrappin' a present's half the fun," Jayne added as he reached over the rail towards Simon.
Simon shivered as he felt two sets of hands on him. Mal's agile hand slipped down Simon's side, slipping under the slick fabric and caressing his hip, easing the material down as he went. Jayne's blunt fingers inched up the leg hole of the boxers, massaging one cheek before tugging the material downward. In concert, the two older men divested Simon of his last garment. The doctor felt his cock spring free as the silk fabric slithered down his body and pooled at his feet, the cold air on his erection making him gasp.
Mal helped Simon step over the wooden barrier and in amongst the pillows. The talented captain kept up a steady stream of kisses as he joined him, stealing Simon's breath and ability to speak alike.
Not to be outdone, Jayne stayed on his knees and laved those body parts available to him. He started at the small of Simon's back and left a wet trail down the doctor's spine. When he got to Simon's ass, he leered and, instead of kissing, nipped each cheek sharply. Simon gasped into Mal's mouth, grabbing onto the captain for support.
Mal left off kissing Simon and looked down at what his co-conspirator was doing. Seeing Jayne worshiping the glorious ass in front of him, he grinned. With one last deep kiss, he left off what he was doing and started to kiss his way down Simon's body, slowly getting on his knees as he did. He stopped for a moment and fucked Simon's navel with his tongue, grabbing on to the younger man's hips as Simon cried out and clutched at him again.
Jayne left off licking patterns onto the globes of Simon's ass and observed Mal in action. "Oh, so that's what you're up to," he muttered. The mercenary buried his face in-between Simon's cheeks for a moment, then contorted his body so he was in a position to lick Simon's balls.
Simon started to whimper.
Mal tapped Jayne on what he thought was the other man's shoulder, but turned out to be Jayne's hip. Once he had Jayne's attention, Mal gestured towards Simon's cock, which was hard and moist, as if begging for attention. Jayne smirked and moved again, kneeing pillows out of the way as he sought to position himself. In a few moments, Simon was standing amidst the pillows, with Mal on one side of him and Jayne on the other, all three of them breathing hard. The two older men grinned at each other and reached for Simon's erection simultaneously. Mal ran his mouth down the top of the rigid organ while Jayne went for the bottom, using just a hint of teeth to make things interesting. Simon moaned and his legs failed him, but Mal and Jayne were there to hold him up.
Jayne gave one last lick to the rosy head of Simon's engorged penis and sat back, panting. "Don't know about you, Mal, but I sure could use a good, hard ride."
Mal looked up into Simon's flushed face, noticing with satisfaction the dazed look the doctor wore. For one of the few times since he'd met Simon, the younger man seemed at a total loss for words. "Don't know that it's up to me," Mal finally said, needing every once of willpower he possessed to keep from fisting his own throbbing cock and bringing an end to its growing need. "Simon?"
Simon's eyelids fluttered and he looked down at the two men pleasuring him. The expression on Mal's face was full of anticipation, while Jayne looked like a poster boy for lust. "Yes... I think... I think that would be good." His gaze focused on his lovers' erections and he licked his lips as he realized they were both hard for him.
"'Bout gorram time," Jayne growled. He and Mal withdrew their support and Simon slowly collapsed down onto the pillows. Mal fished for the lubricant that had been stashed earlier and, after squirting some out onto his fingers, tossed the tube to Jayne. While the mercenary fumbled with it, Mal helped Simon get comfortable on the pillows, using a few of the more firm ones to lift Simon's hips.
Mal stretched own next to Simon and kissed him as Jayne spread the doctor's legs. Simon gasped as he felt the tip of Jayne's finger play around the edges of his hole and Mal gladly swallowed the sound. That gasp became a moan as the mercenary's finger breached the tight opening and Simon bit Mal's lip as he felt himself begin to stretch. Mal's hand slipped down and firmly grabbed Simon's erection, pumping it twice but stopping when he saw Simon's eyes roll back in his head. He wasn't as vocal about it as Jayne was, but the captain was every bit as eager to be inside their lover and had no intention of letting Simon come before that joining was accomplished.
"Mal, get your ass down here," Jayne ordered, voice rough with desire. "Or don't you want to help none?"
With a playful kiss to Simon's nose, Mal inched his way down, helping Jayne to spread Simon's legs wider. He groaned as he saw Jayne's finger embedded in Simon's opening and he eagerly added more lube to his own. Simon's pelvis arched as Mal took his turn at teasing the rosebud that was already beginning to stretch and the doctor cried out as Mal coaxed his finger into Simon's rectum, joining Jayne's inside their young lover.
The two older men's fingers moved inside of Simon, sliding and stretching in a movement that mimicked a dance. Simon cried out and stretched his legs, begging for more. Jayne and Mal used their free hands to keep Simon from touching himself, ignoring Simon when his moans and cries turned to curses.
"Ma shong!" Simon panted. "Lao tien foo, I'm ready, I'm ready."
"We'll say when you're ready," Mal said more sharply than he'd intended. It was hard to work past his own lust and make sure Simon's body was prepared for them. "Don't want to hurt you none."
"Yeah," Jayne added, bending his head down to nip at the inside of Simon's thigh. "If you're gonna take two of us, got to start slow." He leered at their mate. "We'll make up for it later."
When they felt that their lover was prepared enough, Mal and Jayne looked at each other in dismay, realizing they'd left one important question unanswered.
Who was to go first?
"It was my idea," Mal said defensively.
Jayne scowled at him. "I *asked* first."
While the two argued, their fingers had their stopped movement and the cessation of that sensation allowed Simon to gather himself a bit. "Gentlemen, it's my body, I decide who goes first."
Mal and Jayne eyed each other and shrugged.
"So, who's it gonna be?" Jayne asked.
Simon propped himself up on his elbows, stifling a moan as his lovers withdrew their fingers. "Come up here, please."
Jayne and Mal complied, wading through the pillows made difficult as the soft obstacles bumped against their jutting erections. When they were positioned, one to either side of Simon's face, he began the enviable task of making his choice. With a shaking hand, Simon ran his fingers down the length of Mal's cock and then brought them up to his lips for a taste. "Nice," he murmured, barely heard over Mal and Jayne's moans. Then, he turned towards the mercenary. Jayne's penis got the same treatment, the large organ rebounding against Jayne's stomach with a snap when Simon let it go.
In the end, it was the doctor part of Simon that decided.
"Jayne, I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to choose Mal," he finally said.
"Aw, hell," Jayne griped. "It's cause he's fancier than me, idn't it?"
"Not at all." Simon pulled Jayne's head down for a kiss. It was hard to look bashful while on your back, with your legs spread and rectum stretched and ready for penetration, but Simon managed. "It's just, it's been a while for me and unless Mal goes first, I don't think I'll be able to... accommodate... a man of your size."
Jayne's look of frustration changed to one of smugness. "Oh, I'm too big and you need the stumpy little guy to go first. Should have just said so."
Mal bit back a smile, not at all offended by Jayne's manner and actually admiring Simon's technique for handling the big merc. The captain part of his brain that wasn't shut down even in the midst of mind-blowing sex tucked that information away for future use - maybe he'd let Simon cope with Jayne's quarrelsome nature more often. Mal bent in for a quick kiss and murmured "thank you," to Simon.
While Jayne settled himself with Simon's head cradled on his lap, Mal slicked himself up and found his position between Simon's legs. "Hope you don't mind, Doc, but I'd always imagined doin' this while bein' able to see your face."
"I don't mind," Simon answered, almost undone by the sensation of having one powerful man behind him and another one ready to penetrate him. At this point, the matter of position was the last thing on his mind.
Mal grabbed his hips and slid Simon down until he was draped across the captain's lap, then gently reached down to find the younger man's opening. Fingering it and deciding it was still nice and loose, he lifted up a little and positioned his cock. He rubbed it lightly against the ring of muscle, before giving Simon one last chance to back out. "You ready for this?"
Jayne growled, "He's ready already. Quit yer dawdlin'."
Simon just curtly and opened his legs further. "Please."
The doctor's answer was the one Mal was waiting for and he carefully pushed in. Simon hadn't needed to warn him that it had been a long time since he'd last taken a lover inside; Mal had been able to determine that by how much work it had been to loosen the younger man up. As the head of his penis breached the tight muscle, Simon cried out and arched his back, settling down when it finally slid in with an audible pop.
"That's it, swai baobei," Mal murmured, waiting for his lover's body to relax and accept him. He propped himself up using one arm and used the other hand to stroke Simon's side. A surprisingly gentle Jayne reached across to stroke Simon's chest, murmuring indistinct soothing words into his ear.
The dual comfort and stimulation relaxed Simon and Mal was able to ease inside, inch by inch. As he did, Simon's eyes got wider and wider and he started to tremble. Having the two of them with him, loving him, such care in their touch and voices... it was more than Simon had ever expected.
Finally, Mal's balls were cradled between the firm globes of Simon's ass; he was fully sheathed. "All the way in," Mal breathed. "Doin' okay, Simon?"
"Oh, yes," he answered, wiggling his butt experimentally. When the action caused Mal's cock to shift inside him, hitting his prostate, he hissed and arched again, seeking more sensation.
Jayne chuckled. "Oh, he's ready, all right. Aren't you, baobei?" His caresses to Simon's chest became pinches and tweaking of the younger man's nipples. At the same moment, Mal felt Simon's body relax around him and started to shift out, thrusting back in right before his penis slipped out all together.
"Shee! Shee!," Simon cried out, all but lifting himself out of Jayne's arms.
"That's quite the potty mouth you got on you, Doc," Jayne teased. "Let's give you somethin' else to do with it." He slipped a couple of his fingers into Simon's mouth, encouraging the doctor to suck on them. Simon complied, curling his tongue around the tips and nipping them delicately. It became Jayne's turn to gasp. "Next time... next time we find out just how talented that mouth of yours is." Mouth full, all Simon could do was moan his agreement.
Mal's thrusts were gentle at first, but became more forceful as he felt Simon respond. The doctor was writhing beneath him, hips lifting to meet Mal, impaling himself that much further on Mal's cock.
Having been tickled and teased even before his lovers had pleasured him with their mouths, Simon soon reached the edge of climax. Jayne saw the young man's hands clench on the nearest pillows, all but ripping them apart, and he moved quickly. Taking Simon's head out of his lap, he moved around, grabbing Simon's cock by the base and squeezing carefully.
Simon's legs spasmed and he glared at the mercenary. "What are you doing? I was so close...."
Jayne leaned forward and hoarsely spoke loud enough for both Mal and Simon to hear him. "He gets inside you first, but you come on my cock. Here me, Simon? This first time, you come on *my* cock."
Sweat running down his back, Mal was beyond agreeing or disagreeing. All he knew was that he needed his own release and needed it soon. Unfortunately, it had been too many nights with just his hand for comfort. Mal was driven by *too* much need and found he couldn't *quite* reach the pinnacle, no matter how beautiful and willing the body underneath him was....
A sharp slap on his ass caught Mal's attention. Still deep inside of Simon, he swivelled his head awkwardly and saw Jayne behind him. The merc waggled his eyebrows at Mal while he ogled him, grinning as he held up the finger that Simon had moistened for him. Simon chose that moment to squeeze Mal inside him, causing a renewal in the vigor of the captain's pelvic movement. Simon's body was hot and taut around him, yet Mal still could not find relief.
Suddenly, Mal felt his own cheeks parted and a draft of cool air on his ass. Then, a large finger was breaching him and tickling his prostate. It was the final sensation that he needed. Throat working in a silent yell, he threw his head back and grabbed Simon's hips, grinding the doctor's pelvis almost brutally against him as he ejaculated deep within his body. When his cock was spent, he fell forward, letting Simon catch him and hold him close. Distantly, he was aware of Jayne settling beside them.
"You know," Jayne said bluntly. "Doc's not the only one around here with a good ass."
"That, he's surely not," Mal panted as he talked, trying to catch his breath. "And when I've recovered a bit, I can plow yours for you."
Jayne just grinned. "Well, you can try."
"Um," Simon's voice was strained with need. "Third party here, remember?"
"Don't you worry none, Doc," Jayne assured him. "Ol' Jayne here's got plenty of party left for you."
Mal realized that he felt the hot length of Simon's erection pressed against him. He kissed the smaller man gently and brushed Simon's sweat-soaked hair off his forehead. "You okay for another round?"
Simon nodded, biting his lip. "God, yes. If I don't, I might just explode."
"Can't have that, now," Mal rolled off Simon. "Jayne, get your ass in gear. Can't you see this man needs relief?"
"Oh, I got some for him," Jayne said, squeezing more lube into his hand and fisting his cock, getting it good and slick.
"You want to stay on your back?" Mal asked, solicitous. He knew what a gift Simon was about to give Jayne.
Simon moved his leg and winced, muscles cramped from the workout he'd just received. "No, better not."
"On yer belly, then, Doc," Jayne directed, impatient.
"Jayne..." Mal said. His tone was all the warning he needed.
"Mal," Jayne protested desperately. Any dominance he'd exhibited melted at the one-worded exertion of Mal's authority. Jayne observed avidly as the captain helped Simon sit up and then turn over. "Watchin' the two of you, it's got me all hot and bothered. Can't hardly think."
"Don't need to think," Mal said firmly. "Just need care. Just like there's no forcing, there's no hurting either."
"No hurtin', promise," Jayne said.
"Oh the hell with hurting," Simon said impatiently. The doctor was on all fours, his cock recovered from Jayne's earlier handling and aching for release. "Let's concentrate on hurry. Now, Jayne."
The older two men blinked in surprise at Simon's forcefulness and a slow smile made its way across Jayne's face. "Well, you heard the man, Mal."
Mal stayed by Simon's head, kneeling and putting Simon's hands on his shoulders for support. He kissed the doctor gently as Jayne moved behind him, feeling Simon's gasp as his cheeks were parted.
"Here we go," Jayne said in a tight voice. Simon's opening was red and stretched, but Jayne still had a hard time working the large, blunt head of his cock inside. Simon's eyes widened again and he bit his lip, holding on to Mal for dear life.
"You okay, Simon?" Mal asked, looking over Simon's head to see Jayne with an unusual look of concentration on his face. As far as the captain could tell, the mercenary was being very gentle indeed. "You too sore for this?"
"No," Simon moaned, voice husky with desire. "Yeh-soo, no. It's just, he's so big...."
Now that he had his cock started on the journey inside, Jayne put a hand on either side of Simon, pulling the younger man's legs as far apart as they could go. "Shee. You sure you rode him, Mal? Yeh-soo, he's tight."
Mal didn't answer, he was too busy looking at Simon's face. Fleeting expressions of pain and then ecstacy flittered across Simon's fine-bonded features. Mal's cock was too spent to even twitch but Mal felt his heart begin to swell and he couldn't help but kiss Simon again.
"Mal," Simon breathed his name like a benediction. "It's so much..."
"Never took you for a size queen, Simon," Mal teased.
"It's not that," Simon said. It was difficult for him to focus, being split in two by a monster-sized cock as he was. "It's just, both of you... for so long, I had so little and now *both* of you...."
"I'm here, Simon," Mal reassured him, using his body to bolster Simon's. "We're both here." He should have figured. Simon had been all but alone as he sought to free his sister and, then, when he succeeded, it was only to find he had to leave his life behind. After such emotional solitude, no wonder Simon was overwhelmed.
Jayne wiggled his hips, careful not to force the body beneath him. Damn but the boy was tight! "Almost there," he said through clenched teeth. Even with Mal having been there before him, the doc was as tight as any he'd had. Finally, though, Jayne felt his belly press against the firm flesh of Simon's ass. "Full enough for you there, Doc?"
Simon looked into Mal's loving eyes and grinned. Jayne's smugness lightened his mood and it was easy to throw off his own glut of emotions in order to respond. "I can take whatever you got, ape-man."
"Ooooh, gonna make you regret that, prissy-boy," Jayne laughed as he said it. Taking a firm grip on Simon's hips, he pulled back and then slammed back in, belly slapping down against the smaller man's ass. "How's that?"
Simon clutched at Mal as his body took the impact of Jayne's thrusts. "If that's the best you got...."
Jayne simply growled and redoubled his efforts.
Mal let the sexual competition go on for a few minutes, then decided to intervene before Simon got hurt. Transferring the doctor's grip from his own shoulders to the padded wooden rail, he moved to where Jayne and Simon's legs overlapped. Careful not to interrupt their rhythm, he reached between the two men and wrapped his hand around Simon's erection. The doctor cried out at the added sensation and it only took a couple of pumps before he came all over Mal's hand. Jayne felt Simon's body clamp down on him and shifted his grip to Simon's waist, urging the doctor up onto his knees. Pulling Simon back onto his lap, Jayne thrust into Simon's body even as it clenched around him. The two men shared an awkward kiss as their bodies finished before finally collapsing down into the pillows. Mal joined them in a sweaty and satiated pile.
"I still think yer a mouthy little thing," Jayne said when he was able to talk. "But ya got the finest ass... I guess yer not so bad."
It took Simon's sex-soaked brain a moment to realize that had been a compliment. "Thank you. And for an ape, you're not so bad yourself."
"You came before I did, though," Jayne said smugly.
Simon was indignant. "Only because Mal cheated."
Amused, Mal watched them, surprised to feel Jayne's hand wrap around the back of his neck and pull him close for a sloppy but thorough kiss. "Knew I liked that about you, Mal. When there's cheatin' to be done, you go ahead an' do it."
"We're going to have a talk about that someday," Simon said with a yawn. "Someday in the far flung future when I can string more than two words together."
Jayne slapped him lightly on the ass. "Go to sleep. You done been rode hard, you deserve it."
Simon batted his lashes at him. "Why, Jayne. I do believe that's the most romantic thing anyone's ever said to me."
Mal shushed Jayne with a quick kiss. "Settle down, you two. We got this place for another couple of hours. Let's make use of all these pillows."
The two bigger men helped Simon burrow down into the pillows. They ended up in a tangle, with Jayne wrapped around him from the back and Mal facing the doctor, one knee between Simon's legs. It wasn't long before the soft snorts and deep breathing coming from Jayne indicated he was asleep. Mal sighed and finally opened his eyes. He was unable to sleep himself, so he figured he might was well take advantage of the scenery and watch his lovers as they slept.
Simon, though, was awake and looking right at him. "Something wrong, Mal?" he asked quietly, speaking softly so as not to wake Jayne.
Mal shrugged. "Everything's fine, Simon. Go to sleep."
"It's hard to sleep," Simon retorted, "with you fretting and all."
"I do not fret," Mal objected. "I wrinkle my noble brow with all sort of captainy worries but I do not fret." When Simon opened his mouth to object, Mal added, "Or fuss, either."
"All right," Simon said smoothly. "It's just that after a session of mind expanding sex, I would have thought you'd be too tired for any brow wrinkling, is all."
Mal sighed. Used to getting his own way AND persistent, that was Simon Tam. "I always said that I was against getting involved with a member of my crew. And here I am, having relations with two of you."
Simon looked at him calmly. "So?"
"So?" Mal sputtered. "I'm breaking my own rules."
"No you're not," Simon disagreed. "Your rule is no getting involved with a member of your crew, right?"
"Right." Mal answered, dubiously.
"Well, you're involved with TWO members of your crew, not *a* member." Simon explained patiently. "Since your rule only applies to ONE crew member, not two, you're not breaking it."
Mal looked at his lover for a full sixty seconds before answering. "You've got a sneaky mind, for a Core-bred man, you know it?"
"So goes the popular theory," Simon said with a smile. Jayne snuffled in his sleep and nuzzled his face into Simon's neck. Absently, Simon reached back and patted him. "Is this real enough for you?"
Mal didn't even need to think about it. "Any more real and I'd be a goner."
He was answered by an unexpected source. "Good," Jayne said. "Now will the two of you go to sleep. I need m' beauty rest."
Laughing, Simon and Mal snuggled down into the pillows. "Yes, I can certainly see you need your beauty sleep," Simon teased. "Especially the beauty part."
Jayne smacked the younger man on the hip. "Mouthy little thing," he complained. Nonetheless, one corner of his mouth turned up.
The three men settled back for some well-deserved shuteye, when something occurred to Jayne. Sitting up, he poked Simon awake. "Hey, Doc, who won?"
"What?" Simon said, sounding more confused than irritated.
"The contest," Jayne explained. "Who's better, me or Mal?"
Simon rolled his eyes. "I'm not going to dignify that with an answer."
"What the rutting hell does *that* mean?" Jayne groused.
Mal provided the explanation. "Means it were too important a thing for a contest. May have started out that way, but we did the act for itself, not for some competition." He ran a hand along Simon's thigh, watching as a delicate shiver shook the sleepy man in response.
"Hell, somebody's got to have won," Jayne persisted.
Simon sighed. "Oh very well, we all won. There. Happy?"
A contented silence descended over the trio, only to be broken by Jayne's bewildered voice.
"I don't get it."
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