Pugnacious

by Juli

January 2003


Ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng = "Frog humping son of a bitch."

Ta mah du = "Motherfucker"


With a skill born of desperation, Simon had become nearly as adept a hiding as his sister was.

Ever since that surreal day when Mal and Jayne had come into his infirmary asking Simon to judge a kissing contest, the young doctor's life had been turned upside down. He was used to Mal looking him with barely hidden disdain, not with the same expression of juicy calculation that the captain wore when contemplating a particularly lucrative job. And Jayne... there was just something fundamentally wrong about Jayne leering at him.

Even if it did make his insides turn to mush.

If the other two had limited their oddness to simple looks, Simon wouldn't be so discombobulated. Unfortunately for Simon's equilibrium, however, his tormenters hadn't limited themselves to doctor gazing. Suddenly, it seemed as though Mal couldn't pass him a dish at dinner without stroking his thumb along the side of Simon's hand. Simon would find himself relishing the warmth of that contact throughout the meal, once even realizing that he'd passed Mal the potatoes three times in five minutes - without the captain having asked for them. The last time, he'd comprehended what he was doing and jerked the bowl away. The movement caused the dish to spill and Mal to smirk. Simon told himself that his blush was because of embarrassment from dropping the food and not being caught finding excuses for Mal to touch him.

Jayne had always been more tactile than Mal and that hadn't changed. When Simon had first come aboard Serenity, Jayne had taken pleasure into bumping into him at every opportunity. Now, however, the big mercenary wasn't content to merely slam his shoulders into Simon's as they passed in a corridor. He would still bump against Simon, but then go on to press the smaller man against the smooth metal wall. They would stay that way until Simon managed to wiggle free or unless another crew member happened by. Whatever Jayne's game was, apparently it was a private one.

There had been a time when Simon would have been appalled at such crude flirting. In fact, given the social status he'd previously enjoyed, he not only would have looked down his aristocratic nose at the men making the thinly veiled passes, but he might even have sicced the law on Mal and Jayne. Now, however, the only appalling thing about the other men's advances was how much Simon found himself welcoming them. Simon couldn't find it in himself to question their actions, let alone protest them, and he wondered at how far he'd fallen in such a short amount of time....

"Whatcha frownin' about, doc?"

Simon's head snapped up at the lazy drawl of Jayne's voice. Sure enough, the bigger man was framed in the infirmary's doorway, using a small knife to casually clean under his fingernails.

"W-what do you mean?" The doctor sputtered. This was a new and unwelcome development. Whatever was going on with Mal and Jayne, since the kissing contest, they'd avoided the infirmary and Simon had started thinking of it as his refuge.

Jayne took his time putting away his knife. "I mean," he finally answered, giving up his post by the door to saunter towards Simon, "that a pretty face like yers shouldn't be frownin'. The mercenary lifted his hand as if to cup Simon's cheek. "Now you jest tell ol' Jayne who's been botherin' ya and I'll gut 'im like a fish...."

"Jayne!"

This time, two heads snapped around at the sound of an unexpected voice. Zoe stood in the doorway and gestured towards Jayne with a quick jerk of her jaw. "Got some cargo to shift. Better hop to it."Jayne glowered at the woman. Zoe cooly lifted one eyebrow and stared him down. "You got something better to do?" She looked pointedly at Simon.

Jayne seemed to puff up with indignation but then suddenly deflated. "Nah. I live an' breath to sling them boxes around."

Zoe waited until Jayne moved to follow her, then gave a brisk nod and left. At the last minute, however, Jayne turned back to Simon and winked. "We'll jest have ta finish this later, doc." After adjusting his pants, the mercenary stalked away.

Simon let out the breath he'd been holding. What the hell had that been? Jayne had reached for him - and Simon had leaned forward towards the man. Jayne, the trained ape without the training! If Zoe hadn't come in when she had....

Wrapping his arms around himself, Simon fled the infirmary. His sanctuary had been violated by the confused thoughts and emotions that always accompanied one of these encounters with Jayne or Mal. The only thing that would make it worse would be to run into Mal.

As if the thought had conjured him, Mal's voice drifted down the corridor.

"Son of a bi-..." Simon bit off a curse and abruptly altered course. Instead of heading into the kitchen, he darted into one of the side passages that he'd found while trailing after River. Simon suspected that seeing Mal wouldn't help his equilibrium at all. If it took hiding in a dark, twisting access outlet to avoid the captain, then that's what he'd do.

Simon felt his way through the stuffy environment of his escape route until the could see the faint dust-filled light that spilled in through the ventilation system. He'd discovered that this particular outlet threaded past the kitchen and he stopped for a moment to ward off a sneeze. He could hear voices in the room beyond, most significantly, Mal's. It wouldn't do at all to make a noise that would alert the others and lead them to discover him. Holding perfectly still, Simon resolved to stay there until the kitchen was empty and it was safe to emerge.

"All work and no play makes Simon a dull boy."

The words were whispered right into his ear and Simon stifled a yelp as he recognized his sister's voice. "River!" He protested hoarsely, careful to keep his complaint as quiet as possible.

In the dim light, he could barely see the girl pressing her finger over her lips and his own thinned in irritation. It was a little late, he thought sulkily, for her to caution for silence now.

"What was that?" Mal's voice was muffled through the wall but Simon could still hear it.

"Dunno. Probably jest a rat."

Jayne's voice was equally discernable and Simon crept forward. His two tormentors were in the same room. It was risky getting so close to the ventilation panel itself, but he thought it worth the possibility of discovery. Peeking through the metal slats of the vent, the doctor could just make out the forms of Mal and Jayne. The two looked like they were having some sort of face off.

"Are you sayin' my ship has rats?" Mal said quietly.

"N-no," Jayne was quick to back-pedal verbally. "Jest that crazy girl. She's always sneakin' around and such."

Mal acted as though he hadn't heard the other man. "'Cause, far as I can tell, Serenity's only got th' one rat and I'm lookin' at him."

Simon's ears perked up. This was starting to sound interesting. He was momentarily distracted when River crept up to kneel next to him, but the look in her eyes reassured him that she wouldn't give them away.

"Whatcha mean?" Jayne asked belligerently.

The captain took a couple of steps forward and got right into the other man's face. "Zoe told me she found you in the infirmary. Seems to me, that's against the rules."

Unseen, Simon whispered, "Rules?"

"Yeah, well..." Jayne hedged. "Stupid rules. When'd you ever give a rat's ass about rules, anyway?"

"When I set them," Mal retorted, then started ticking off each one as he spoke it. "Rule 1: No telling him. Rule 2: Leave him alone when he's tending to his sister. Rule 3: Stay. Out. Of. The. Infirmary. And the most important one of all: no forcin' him. It's not a fair contest if Simon can't chose." The captain glared at his cohort. The last rule had been unnecessary, anyone who knew Mal even marginally knew he wouldn't abide rape on his ship, but it always paid to speak clearly whenever Jayne was involved.

Jayne scratched at the back of his neck. "Why'd we set that infirmary rule anyways? We pulled the kissin' contest job on 'im in th'infirmary."

Simon's body tensed. He knew what the meaning of the word 'job' on was Serenity and wasn't happy to hear it applied to himself.

"Because," Mal answered Jayne with a show of patience. "It ain't fair to the rest of the crew. It's one thing to get the boy all hot and bothered one time in the infirmary; it's somethin' else to wage a whole campaign there. If someone needs healin', we can't take a risk that Simon's too distracted to do it right."

"I s'ppose," Jayne said reluctantly. The mercenary looked disappointed for a minute, then shook off the mood to leer conspiratorially at Mal. "The boy is lookin' a mite bit distracted, ain't he?"

"He is at that," Mal said with satisfaction, totally oblivious to the soft hiss that his words prompted out of the hidden Simon. "In fact, I'd say our doc is lookin' downright in need of some relief."

Jayne snorted in laughter. "You got that right. I've never seen a body in need of a spread an' thrust as bad as that pretty doc is." He made a show of grabbing his crotch and letting go. "An' I'm jest the fella ta give it to 'im."

"That so," Mal looked at the mercenary thoughtfully. "You care to increase the wager? Maybe two cigars and a glass of whiskey?"

The mercenary smacked his lips, the sound covering the muffled cry of outrage that Simon couldn't quite manage to stifle. "Yer on."

"May the best man win," Mal said with a grin, slinging an arm across Jayne's shoulders as the two made their way out of the kitchen.

"Damn straight." Jayne's words floated out to the concealed siblings as he and Mal exited the room. "Jest don't cry none when the best man turns out ta be me."

In the hidden passage, Simon quietly exploded. "A bet? First the kissing and now all of this flirting and.. and... and touching, has been because of a bet?"

River hovered near him, hands fluttering as she tried to deal with her brother's emotional outburst. "The flower doesn't know why it needs the bee," she said desperately, "it just does. The petals don't question, they just stroke the pollinator as it penetrates." When Simon ignored her, she grabbed his arm and made him turns toward her. "The seed doesn't ask why it's been fertilized, it just accepts it as a natural calling..."

Simon finally realized his sister was upset. Pulling her to him, he automatically started to sooth her. "Shush, now, River. It's going to be all right."

"All work and no play makes Simon a dull boy," River tried a different tactic, her addled mind aware enough to realize that her brother wasn't understanding what she was trying to tell him.

"It's okay, River," Simon responded. "I know what they're up to now... and this is one flower that's not playing anymore."

In the dim light of the hidden corridor, the doctor's eyes glittered with barely suppressed emotion. If it was a game that Mal and Jayne wanted, then Simon would make sure that they got an interesting one.

 

Mal leaned up against the rock and whistled tunelessly. His eyes swept across the picturesque clearing, more from imbedded habit than out of any real need. Nirvinia was as pretty a planet as he'd come across in his wanderings and plenty peaceful as well. It's settlers were simple folk of a religious mind, perfectly friendly to visitors if they remained respectful. As long as you stayed east of the big canyon, all comers were even welcome to whatever water and natural provisions you wanted; the colonists believed in their favorite religious tenet of sharing their bounty with those less fortunate. Of course, if you forgot to be respectful or wandered west of the canyon, then the settlers practiced their other favorite religious tenet - 'an eye for an eye.' Considering they were also well-armed, it tended to encourage everyone visiting the planet to abide by all sorts of mannerly behavior.

While he waited, the only sign of Mal's impatience was nervous folding and unfolding he did to the piece of paper in his hand. Its surface was no longer pristine white; having been handled and creased so much that it was gray and fuzzy. On it was a simple request for Mal to meet someone in this specific clearing, right at the time when Nirvinia's moons were at their highest. Since it was Simon who'd slipped the note to Mal after dinner, the captain had no doubts as to who he was meeting. Considering how the doctor had blushed when he'd handed it to Mal, the older man had no doubts as to the reason for the meeting either.

The captain had been afraid that Jayne's blunder of taking their game into the infirmary would scare Simon off. Mal had been on the outside lookin' in enough to know when a body needed a bolt hole; a place like no other where you could feel safe. Tweren't fair of Jayne to rob Simon of his and he'd done his best to make sure it hadn't happened again. Much to Mal's surprise, though, Simon hadn't seemed to be put off. If anything, he'd shyly begun to respond to Mal's clandestine caresses. In fact, at this evening's meal, it had been Simon to stroke Mal's hand when they passed the vegetable dish, the young doctor already seated close enough to Mal that their thighs touched. When he'd passed Mal the note a little bit later, it took all the captain could do not to gloat at Jayne. That would have been too obvious. As it was, Inara, Kaylee and Book had begun to sense that something was going on; Wash and Zoe had been in on the competition from the beginning.

Mal didn't know what had made Simon pick this particular clearing, a lovely little spot complete with a shallow babbling brook. It wasn't too far from where they'd brought their equipment that afternoon to gather water and he supposed that the doctor had found it during a break from the earlier chore. Given how secluded it was and the fact that the meeting time was during the middle of the night, Mal also guessed that Simon was aiming for privacy. Mal approved, feeling that some activities should just be private, but something was nagging at him. Something about these arrangements just didn't seem quite right, but for the life of him, he couldn't figure out what it was.

The sound of footsteps on the path drove any residual uneasiness right from Mal's thoughts. The captain eagerly turned towards the newcomer, the light of Nirvinia's two moons making it almost as clear as daylight.

Convenient, that, because it made it easy to tell that Jayne's expression was just as shocked as Mal's own.

"What the hell..." Jayne growled, looking from Mal down to his own piece of paper as though it had betrayed him. "What're you doin' here?"

"I was about to ask you the same thing," Mal responded tersely, but the presence of another newcomer precluded Jayne from answering.

"Good, gentlemen, you're both on time," Simon's voice was bright and chipper as the doctor emerged from the shadows. "I appreciate your promptness."

"What's this all about, doc?" Jayne asked, impatiently.

"I couldn't help but notice both of you vying for my attention of late," Simon said bluntly. "And, being an honorable man, I came to the conclusion that I would have to let each of you know of the other's intentions."

"What's vyin' mean?" Jayne whispered in an aside to Mal.

"Competing," the other man answered succinctly, still wincing from Simon's use of the word 'honorable.'

"Aw, hell," Jayne groaned, but Mal quickly shushed him.

"The kissing contest the other day certainly opened my eyes to new possibilities," Simon continued, "but I'm afraid that's just not enough information, if I'm to make an educated choice."

"'Choice?'" Mal repeated. It was important to figure out just what Simon did and did not know about that little kissing contest... or the current one.

"Given how competitive you are," the doctor explained, "I'm obviously going to have to choose one of you before this situation goes very much further." He smiled sheepishly. "It wouldn't do to have the two biggest men on board Serenity come to blows, not over something so trivial."

"It's not trivial, Simon," Mal protested, going silent as the younger man held up his hand.

"Be that as it may," Simon responded, "At some point, I am going to have to pick one of you, which means the other one is bound to get his feelings hurt. I just figured I'd nip that in the bud; make the choice early on, so that the one not chosen hasn't become too emotionally invested."

Jayne scowled. "Huh?"

"He's gonna pick one of us right away, so the loser don't fuss," Mal explained, stepping on the mercenary's foot to keep the taller man from saying anything stupid.

"That's right," Simon agreed. "I'm going to pick one of you, but before I can do that, I need a better look at the merchandise."

"Huh?" This time, the confusion came from Mal.

"We've been dancing around each other for days - with little progress." Simon sighed. "If I'm to pick one of you, I want a better look at what I'll be getting. Take your shirts off." The doctor went on to shoo Mal away from the rock before leaning on it himself. That left both Jayne and Mal to stand in front of him, looking at the younger man in dismay.

"Our shirts?" Jayne protested. "You seen us nekkid plenty of times."

"For medical purposes only," Simon shook his head. "I assure you, looking at a naked body while performing my duties as a doctor is no different for me than it is for Kaylee to look at engine parts while she's doing repair work. Tonight, though, I want to look at you with the eyes of a potential lover. Off with your shirts."

Mal and Jayne looked at each other, then Mal shrugged. He was just relieved that Simon apparently took their advances as flirting and hadn't cottoned on to their wager. "I got nothin' to hide." It was a warm night, so the captain had left his coat behind. He slid first one suspender and then the other off his shoulder, never breaking eye contact with Simon while his hands moved. Reynolds was pleased when Simon licked his lips as he unbuttoned his shirt. With no apparent embarrassment, Mal slid his shirt off and tossed it aside before holding his arms straight out from his body. "There you go."

Jayne snorted at the display. Wordlessly, the mercenary grabbed the neck of his t-shirt, then simply ripped the worn garment right off his body. "Feast yer eyes."

"Oh, my," Simon no longer looked quite so aloof or in control. Eyes dark, he pushed himself off the rock and circled around the bare-chested men. Despite the sight in front of him, he was careful of his footing. They were so close to the brook that they were actually standing on its sandy bank; a misstep would send him stumbling into the water. "Very nice, very nice indeed." He stopped at Jayne and ran his hand along the taller man's back with a light touch that caused the big man to shiver. "All that time you spend lifting weights has been very effective."

Jayne shot a triumphant look sideways at Mal. "My body's my most 'portant weapon. Gotta keep it in top fightin' form - and if it's in top fightin' form, that means it's in top lovin' form too."

Mal glared at the other man's boasting but didn't respond. Even so, Simon noticed the byplay and moved on to the neglected captain. He brushed his hand over Mal's warm back and sighed in appreciation. "Brute strength is nice enough in its own way," he commented as he stroked Mal's smooth skin, "but there's something to be said for subtlety too." Reynolds' muscles were just as hard as his competitor's, but less sharply defined. A lover's touch, however, readily discerned their strength.

The captain turned to Jayne and smirked, his grin turning wider when his competitor snarled at him. Even if it had been couched as a compliment, Simon had just referred to Jayne as a 'brute.' Things were looking up for Mal.

With a final pat, Simon left off caressing the older men's broad backs. Stepping between the two potential mates he was comparing, Simon turned and faced them. Skilled fingers deftly located a nipple on each shirtless man and made quick work of tickling them into stiffness. Mal bit his lip to keep silent; Jayne didn't bother, groaning loudly and leaning into the touch.

"Such a little nub of flesh," Simon said softly, looking at the reaction his fondling was causing. "Yet, so sensitive." With a final pinch that gained him a gasp from each man, he dropped his hands from their chests and sighed. "Tasting, I'm afraid, would be a little forward of me at this juncture."

"No it wouldn't," Mal disagreed breathlessly.

"Yeah, tastin'," Jayne chimed in eagerly. "Go right ahead."

Simon shook his head sadly. "No, I'm afraid that's going to have to wait until I've made my selection and have entered into a deeper relationship with the chosen party." He dipped his head as if suddenly shy and looked at the pair through lowered lashes. "I wouldn't want you to think I've loose morals."

Mal and Jayne looked at each other in dismay, clearly disappointed in Simon's decision. Before they could reassure the younger man that, under the circumstances, that they'd actually prefer he had loose morals, Simon had moved on to another topic.

"No, you're too evenly matched. I think we need to move on to the next level." Simon looked at the other men calmly. "Take off your pants."

"Huh?" Jayne grunted.

"What about loose morals?" Mal protested. Getting naked with Jayne, outside, while Simon watched and judged, wasn't exactly an event he wanted to participate in.

"There will be no tasting involved," Simon assured him. Seeing by the expression in Mal's face that the captain was about to balk at his direction, the doctor added, "You are perfectly welcome to refuse if you like, but that means that Mr. Cobb will win by default."

Jayne didn't quite understand. "Huh?"

"If Mal doesn't do as I say and take his pants off, you win," Simon explained. Jayne turned to Mal with a gleeful glint in his eye. "And if you don't cooperate and take your pants off, Mal wins." The gleeful glint disappeared as that last bit sank in.

The mercenary's eyes narrowed. "What if neither one of us cooperates? Whatcha gonna do then?"

Simon crossed his arms over his chest, confident that he was in control of this situation. "Why, then I bid you both a very good night and go back to Serenity."

"Nobody wins," Mal clarified.

Growling under his breath, Jayne reached for his pants button. Not about to be outdone, Mal followed suit. Simon waited until they were about ready to slide their garments off their hips before adding the next requirement.

"It occurs to me that this relationship, whichever one of you I end up having it with, isn't going to be just about the physical," the doctor said thoughtfully. "I find that only sexual involvement gets very boring. Please, while you finish disrobing, tell me why you chose me. I mean, you both didn't like me when I came aboard, what made you change your minds and decide to woo me? Mal, you go first."

The captain looked at Simon dumbfounded, but just as he was opening his mouth to protest, a particularly sparkling beam of moonlight bathed Simon's form. Its crisp, clean light made Simon all but gleam and Mal found himself captivated. Oh, he'd referred to Simon as 'pretty' before, especially in conversations with Jayne, but why had he not realized the extent of the young doctor's perfection?

Mal's desire to win redoubled, not just to win a bet with Jayne, but for the opportunity to get closer to the dazzling creature in front of him.

"I suppose," the captain said careful as he made the most of peeling his tight pants off his hips and down his thighs, "it was watchin' you with your sister." Mal bent to undo his boots, shameless turning to present Simon with an eyeful of his ass as he worked with his uncooperative footwear. "I won't lie, I wasn't too fond of you when you came on board. Especially seein' how Kaylee bore the brunt of the Alliance lookin' for you." He looked up to see Simon's face redden. He was unsure at first if it was because of the view or because of shame at past actions. The doctor caught his glance and tersely nodded, the tightness around his eyes proving to Mal that Simon did indeed take responsibility for what had happened to the innocent engineer.

The captain discarded his boots and agilely stepped out of his pants. His action solved a mystery that had plagued Serenity's crew since long before the Tams became a part of it - what kind of garment did Mal manage to fit underneath his skin-tight breeches? The answer, as Simon and Jayne now saw, was nothing. By taking off his pants, Mal had stripped himself completely bare.

Mal ignored his own nudity. "But seein' you with your sister... if there's one thing I admire, it's loyalty. If there's a second thing, it's courage." He nodded levelly at Simon. "You've got both. Made me realize that there was to you than your fancy ways and pretty vests. I guess I decided I wanted to learn more."

Standing comfortable in nothing but his own skin, Mal's word came to a halt. He was surprised to realize that every one of them had been true. Uneasy with his emotional nakedness as he hadn't been with the physical, he grinned suddenly. "That and I wanted to fluster you some. You look good flustered."

Simon sighed, although he was actually a bit grateful for Mal's quip. It had gotten just a bit too real there for a moment and he'd begun to doubt if he could follow through with his plan. Giving Mal a look that told the captain that he wasn't finished with him yet, Simon turned to the second competitor. "And what about you, Jayne?"

The mercenary was hopping around on one foot as he pulled off his last boot. Dropping it with disgust to the sand, Jayne shrugged. "Yer big enough ta mount and pretty enough to do face to face." He pulled his pants and underwear off with one grand gesture, kicking them easily to the side. "Been my 'perience that prissy fellas like you like ta roll in th'dirt once a while. Figure I got plenty of that, might as well see if ya wanted to smudge yerself up some."

Luckily for Jayne, Simon had been distracted from listening to his words. Instead, the doctor's eyes widened at the mercenary's revealed cock. Impressive in its length, it was already half-hard and glistening in the moonlight. "Oh, my. I see that you're proportionately sized all over, Mr. Cobb."

Jayne's chest puffed out at the praise. "Yup. Let's jest say that Vera ain't the biggest weapon in my arsenal." At Mal's snort of laughter, the mercenary turned to his competitor. "What?"

"I bet you named it too," Mal said, looking at Simon with one eyebrow raised.

"So what if I did?" Jayne said after a moment of irritated silence. "Ain't nothin' wrong with that."

"Nothing wrong with that at all," Mal facetiously reassured him. Simon Tam was not the type to be impressed by physical attributes alone and the captain figured it was in his own best interest to play up Jayne's non-physical characteristics. "I'm sure all the tough guys give nicknames to their 'little warrior.' Especially a fine figure of a man like you, since you're hung like a horse and all." Simon had begun to approach Mal and the captain finished his comment softly enough so that it was for the doctor's ears alone. "I'd call that appropriate, since he's got the IQ of a horse too."

Simon's lips twitched but when he spoke, he chose to chastise. "Be nice, Mal. It's not like you've anything to be ashamed of." With an expression of appreciation, Simon looked down at Mal's own sex, which was completely rigid and straining towards the captain's belly.

"Stumpy little thing," Jayne snorted. "No wonder he wears his pants so tight, his cock'd get lost in anything looser."

In fact, the captain was perfectly normal in size, if a bit thicker than usual, and he was perfectly comfortable with his sexual equipment. Next to Jayne's monster, any man would look inadequate, but being a doctor, Mal was confident that Simon would know that. "I've never heard any complaints."

"I'm sure you haven't," Simon placated him, patting Mal on the hip as he circled both men. "And speaking of tight pants..." the doctor indulged himself by doing something he'd been longing to attempt ever since that damnable kissing contest. Quite daring, he reached out and firmly grasped Mal's ass cheeks, squeezing their solid flesh in-between his fingers. The captain jumped in surprise, causing Simon to chuckle. "You'll never be able to hide these if you insist on wearing your trousers so snug."

"Maybe that's the idea," Mal countered and was rewarded with another chuckle.

Removing his grip from Mal's butt before he was tempted to anything more rash, Simon stepped up behind Jayne. Instead of grabbing the mercenary's ass, though, he slapped it sharply. The resulting 'smack' reverberated in the quiet clearing.

"Ow!" Jayne complained, turning to glower at the smaller man. Simon just grinned at him.

"Impressive - very firm." Simon complimented the mercenary. Jayne had moved his hands to cover himself from another slap and the doctor took pity on him and moved around to face him. "I admire your musculature, Jayne. Not so much as a quiver, very solid."

"Yeah," Mal quipped, not liking the admiration he saw in Simon's eyes. "When Kaylee can't find the right wrench, she calls for Jayne and he removes screws and bolts just with just his ass cheeks. Very handy."

Jayne looked at the captain, uncertain if he was being mocked or not. "Yeah, I've got a very talented butt."

Before, when the two competitors has sniped at each other, Simon had acted as referee. Not this time and, at his silence, the older men turned to look at him. The doctor had gone back to leaning against the rock and was looking at them intently.

Simon continued to contemplate the older men before making a tsking noise and shaking his head. "While I certainly appreciate the view," he sighed, "this isn't helping me make up my mind either."

"Don'cha like what ya see?" Jayne challenged.

"Oh, I like it very much," Simon answered easily. "But that's the problem - how can I make a choice between two such fine specimens? On one hand, we have a fine example of buffed brute strength; on the other, classical chiseled features. Who could choose?" He didn't wait for an answer. "I was afraid that it would come to this - I think I need to see the equipment in action."

"Now wait a minute, doc," Mal protested. "This ain't exactly like buyin' a ship - ain't no test rides to be had here."

"Why not?" Jayne countered. "Works for me - which one of us do ya want ta ride first?" The mercenary waggled his eyebrows at Mal. This would work just fine, whichever man Simon picked to do a sample rut with first would win the wager.

"It's not that simple," Simon disagreed. "If I'm not willing to taste yet, then I'm also not willing to do any... riding... yet."

"So what do you have in mind?" Mal asked suspiciously. The captain had a feeling that he wasn't going to like whatever the doctor had in mind.

Simon didn't disappoint. Reaching into his pocket, he fished out two small vials and tossed them to the other men. "I believe that both of you are familiar with the concept of self-gratification?" He didn't even bother to look to see if Jayne was confused, Simon went ahead and explained. "Masturbation. By showing me how you pleasure yourselves, it will give me a good idea of how you plan on pleasuring me." When the competitors just looked at him dumbly, Simon gestured to the vials they were holding in their hands. "I took the liberty of providing some lubrication, so you shouldn't experience any discomfort."

Surprisingly, it was Jayne that shifted from foot to foot in uneasiness. "I dunno, pullin' our meat out in public and everything? Jest don't seem proper."

The doctor raised one eyebrow. "And yet you were willing to have me do, what did you call it?, a 'test ride,' just a few minutes ago."

"That were different," Jayne retorted. "Been used to ruttin' whenever the opportunity presents itself. Masturbation's jest more... personal-like. Not sure I can do it outside m'bunk."

Mal stayed silent, hoping that Jayne would refuse and he could win by default. No such luck. Simon and Jayne faced off but it was Jayne that dropped his eyes first.

"What th'hell." The mercenary twisted the cap off his vial and poured the contents into his hand. "I've come this far, might as well finish it up." He rubbed his hands together briskly before applying them to his cock. "Ahh.... that's better." Truth was, the evening's activities had gotten him pretty hot. He'd been hoping that maybe this wager'd be finished and it would be the doc's pretty mouth givin' him relief, but at this point, he'd take anything he could get. Even if it was just his hand and of the others.

Not to be outdone, Mal did the same. The vial contained a musky-scented oil and, like Jayne, Mal gasped at finally gettting some physical stimulation where he needed it most.

"That's it, gentlemen, very nice." Simon complimented the men striving to please him. "Now that you've begun, though, I'd like you to move into the water behind you."

The other two had almost forgotten the small brook, even though they'd been standing on its sandy banks.

"What?" Mal protested. "It'll be cold."

"Don't be such a baby," Simon laughed at him. "The water's only as high as your ankles. Call it an endurance contest, if you will. Let's see which of you can bring your actions to their natural conclusion, even with the impediment of standing in cool water."

"This better be worth it," Jayne growled, even as he moved to comply.

"I assure you - it will be beyond your wildest dreams," Simon said solemnly. When both men had grudgingly moved, he praised them. "That's it, I can see that you're both not easily deterred by a little water. I want you to close your eyes and imagine that it's me you're with." When they obeyed, he left his position at the rock and quietly began moving around the clearing. "That's it, just touch yourselves like you were touching me...."

The clearing became still, the only sounds the were the babbling of the small brook, the rasping as hands pleasured two cocks, the soft groans that the participants couldn't quite stifle... and the unsuccessfully suppressed sounds of Simon moving about.

Mal cracked one eye open. "Whatcha doin', doc?" He rasped, a little too involved to string together a longer sentence.

Simon picked up the last piece of discarded clothing, which happened to be Jayne's boot, and moved a few steps up the trail. "I was just heading back to the Serenity."

"Huh?"

"Huh?"

The doctor grinned when both of the competitors sounded off with exclamations of confusion. Their expressions were most satisfying and they hadn't even found out the 'good' part yet. "I invited Kaylee, Inara, and Book to a sunrise picnic." He looked up at the sky, where the two moons were just beginning to set. "I figure there's just about an hour to get everything ready."

"But what about....?" Jayne gestured at his rock-hard cock.

"Oh, we're finished here," Simon assured him. "Or at least I am. You've got a little bit before the color reaches its deepest."

"Aw, hell," Mal groaned, after taking a quick peek down. There was enough moonlight to see that his cock was now a startling shade of blue, as were the palms of his hands. Looking calmly at the thrown away vials, he stated a hypothesis. "You put something in the lube, didn't you?"

"It's a dye, actually," Simon said smugly. "Reacts to the protein in your seminal fluid. Perfectly harmless, I assure you. It'll wear off in a few days."

"Why you little..." Jayne growled, but Mal's hand stopped him from charging at Simon, who was out of arm's reach.

The captain had finally figured out what had been bothering him when he'd been waiting for Simon. Nirvinia had a nasty little bit of wildlife, called a bloodworm. They came out at night and lurked wherever there was grass. As long as you wore hard-soled shoes, you were fine. Go barefoot, however, and you hazarded a potentially fatal bite. That's what had seemed odd that Simon had wanted to tryst outside and at a time when the risk was highest. Mal had become too distracted, though, and hadn't been able to put two and two together until just then.

"Don't. Bloodworms," he warned Jayne succinctly. He looked at Simon and found the young doctor grinning a bit wildly. Funny, he'd never noticed that Simon had dimples before.

"You're perfectly safe there in the water," Simon pledged them. "Or even if you stick to the sand. But I'm afraid that you'll have to wait until sunrise to come back to Serenity." The darkhaired man put a finger to his chin as he pretended to think. "Do you suppose that Zoe and Wash will be up that early? I'd hate for them to miss out... on the picnic, that is."

"How long have you known?" Mal asked quietly, hands at his side.

"Long enough," Simon replied, his smile dimming. He lifted his gaze so that it encompassed both of the competitors. "I suggest, gentlemen, that the next time you kiss me, that it had better be the real thing."

With that admonishment, Simon turned and walked away, taking every stitch of their clothing with him.

"Ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng..." Jayne cursed under his breath as the sound of Simon's footsteps faded. The big man's erection had waned as the import of what had just happened sank in.

Mal, on the other hand, remained fully erect and actually started to laugh. Jayne snarled at him, "What's so gorram funny? Come sunrise, we're gonna have to go back to th' ship and parade ourselves in front of Kaylee, Book, and the rest." His voice lowered as he pouted. "Ain't right ta show yer danglies in front of a preacher, 'specially when they're blue."

"He got us," Mal said. "I didn't think the boy had it in him, but he not only figured out what we were doing, but he beat us to the punch." The captain shook his head in admiration. "Our little doctor isn't quite the innocent that he seems. I find I have to admire his sense of style."

"Easy fer you to say," Jayne grumped. "You can cover yerself with yer hand. Me, my pecker will be swingin' in all it's blue glory fer God an' everybody ta see." He looked maliciously up the trail where Simon had disappeared. "When I get my hands on that little Ta mah du, we'll see who's laughin'."

"You'll do nothin' and that's a fact," Mal said coldly. "He got the best of us fair and square."

"But Mal..." Jayne whined.

"But nothin'," the captain said firmly, then grinned. "Besides, we'll have better things on our mind..."

That peaked Jayne's interest. "Like what?"

"Just something Simon mentioned right before he left," Mal explained. "He said that 'next time' we kissed him, it better be real." When Jayne looked as if he didn't understand, Mal repeated the most important part. "'Next time,' Jayne. Think about it."

Jayne did and finally understood. When he started to laugh, Mal joined in. Simon, had he seen the expressions on their faces, might not have walked away feeling so smug.

~the end~

 

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