Trade Negotiations

by Juli

March 2004

“I wasn’t lookin’ for a fight,” Mal called over his shoulder as he stormed out of Inara’s quarters. He stopped short – Jayne was standing, waiting for him. “”Always seem to find one, though.”

The big mercenary had that look on his face, the one that said he was planning something particularly Jayne-like. “So’s they gave you a wife. All I got was that crappy stick.”

“And, still, I’m not sure which of us got the better bargain,” Mal muttered.

“Way I see it,” Jayne continued, not having heard the captain. “Ain’t rightly fair.”

“Fair?” Mal asked, relaxing minutely. If this was about Jayne getting his fair share of the take, that was an argument he could easily deal with.

“What I was wonderin’,” Jayne said, sidling up to Mal. “Now that you got a wife, can I take a go at the doc?”

“Simon?” Mal repeated, not sure he understood correctly.

“Yeah, the doc,” Jayne said, leering. “Way I figure it, you got a wife to spread for ya now, don’t need the doc too. You’re almost as celibate as ol’ Book. You don’t hardly know what t’do with one of them fine pieces of flesh, let alone two.” The mercenary made a show of adjusting his pants. “Me, though, I’ve got me a powerful appetite. Could take care of the doc real good.”

“The doc has a name, Jayne, use it.” Mal said, furious. “And there’s so much wrong with those thoughts of yours, I don’t hardly know where to start.”

“But Mal, it’s not fair, you got the prettiest piece of ass on the ship,” Jayne whined, “And now you got the best woman too.” The big man’s face screwed up as he thought a bit. “Well, maybe not the best woman – but the best one that’s free.”

Mal ignored the big gun Jayne was toting and got right in the other man’s face. “Simon and Saffron both, they’re innocents. To be protected. Not bartered, bought, shared or lent. Got that?”

“But Mal…”

“And if I find out you’ve so much as thought about the possibility of touching either one of them, I’ll cut off your testicles and hang them in the cockpit for decoration. Dong ma?”

Jayne looked at Mal long and hard, then deflated. The captain wasn’t kidding. “Not fair, you got a wife now and you’ll still have a piece of ass on th’ side. And I don’t got nothing’.”

“I can think of two things you got,” Mal reminded him. “But you won’t have them long if you do any touchin’, any touchin’ at all. Dong ma?”

The two men stared at each other, until Jayne broke eye contact. “Understood,” he muttered. Heading down the corridor, he could be heard muttering about wives, floral bonnets, and greedy captains.

“And she’s not my wife!” Mal called after him.

“Really?” Came a soft voice out of a darkened corner. “Because she certainly seems convinced she is.”

Mal turned. “Simon….”

Simon eluded his lover’s reaching hand. “No, Mal. You’re married now.”

“No, I’m not,” the captain responded, running a hand through his hair and making it stand up on end. “Putting some flowers in my hair and drinking from a bowl does not make me a married man. I wish y’all would get that through your heads. Especially that girl.”

The doctor looked long and hard at Mal, judging the depths of his words. Seeing that the captain was truthful, he relaxed fractionally. “Unfortunately, your spouse does believe it. That has to be dealt with, Mal, the sooner the better – for everyone’s sakes.”

“Won’t find no arguments here, Simon.” Mal responded fervently. “I know who my better half is and it’s not no chow-cookin’, feet washin’ waif of a girl.”

Simon smiled. “Well, that’s reassuring. I guess you’re more partial to the snobbish, doesn’t-know-the-proper-end-of-a-gun fugitive of a doctor type.”

“Damn straight,” Mal answered, with a matching grin.

“Well, go fix it,” Simon instructed Mal, turning to head to his room. “I might be a wanted criminal but I’ll not be a home wrecker.”

“No, not you too,” Mal groaned as he made to follow. “Why is it everybody but me thinks this is funny?”

Simon stopped him with a single hand on his arm. “No, Mal, really. I can’t – not while you’re married.” He gave his lover a sad smile as he walked away. “Come see me when you’re single again.”

Mal watched as his lover walked away. He had a whole new reason to resolve the situation with Saffron, the most compelling one of all – Simon.

~the end~


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