With thanks to Brenda, for allowing me to 'borrow' her favorite fragrance.
Tzao gao = Oh, crap
Go se = Dog shit
Dong ma = Understand?
Baobei = baby or sweetheart
(With thanks to Eli for compiling the translations)
As mutinies went, Mal had to admit, the one his crew had pulled hadn’t been half bad.
Inara had said: “You have to rest and give your body a chance to heal.”
Book had chided: “Martyrdom doesn’t suit you, son.”
Jayne had added: “Hell, you’ve had more bullets in ya than Ella, ‘n she’s m’second favorite gun.”
Kaylee had told him, the usual cheery chirp missing from her voice: “But Simon won’t rest if you won’t, an’ he needs it worse than you do.”
It was that last that had gotten Mal’s attention and so he didn’t fuss – much – when the crew informed him that they were temporarily usurping his authority. It was for his own good, they told him, as they delivered him and Simon onto an exquisitely deserted beach, located on a conveniently unpopulated planet. Concentrate on the three Rs, the two men were instructed. Rest. Relax. And, above all, Recuperate. Under no circumstances were they to devote a lick of attention to the other three Rs – Reavers. River. Revenue.
Simon had gotten a little bit huffy at his sister being lumped in with the Reavers, but had quickly settled down. Too quickly. That, in and of itself, had worried Mal enough that he hadn’t protested overmuch. During their last job, Mal had been shot and Simon had been exposed to some rather nasty gas. Since the doctor put off treating himself until he’d seen to Mal’s wound, the gas had made Simon sicker than it should have, to the point of causing a lingering case of aspirant pneumonia. Mal’d returned the favor upon waking, insisting on being ambulatory much sooner than was wise so he could help care for Simon. The captain, always a bear when one of his crew was injured, was even harder to live with when that crew member was his lover.
Mal winced. Thinking over his behavior, it was a wonder the others hadn’t spaced him.
As if sensing the turn of Mal’s thoughts, the young man nestled against him snuffled and shifted in his sleep. Mal smiled with a gentleness that would have surprised anyone but the man in his arms. The captain stroked his long fingers through Simon’s dark hair, resuming the petting he’d been doing before being distracted by his thoughts.
Oasis was a rarity for an outer rim world – it was a sanctuary. Although the denizens of the outer rim tended to be roguish sorts, even the roughest of them could see the sense of a “safe zone,” a place of escape meant for regrouping. So valued had it become that the sanctity of Oasis was as universal as the hatred and fear of Reavers.
So it was that Malcolm Reynolds found himself on an isolated beach, alone except for his lover, with orders to do nothing but heal. Although, as a general rule, the war had cured Mal of any strong inclination to follow orders, these’d been surprisingly easy to swallow.
“You’re thinking too hard.”
Startled, Mal looked down and saw two half-lidded eyes looking at him sleepily. He grinned. He couldn’t help it; Simon looked like a lazy tabby cat, one just awakened from a doze. Mal tucked the comparison away for future use. It would come in handy the next time he really wanted to see his lover sputter. Simon was just too damn cute for his own good, especially when he was flailing around for words.
“Sorry about that,” Mal apologized. “The ol’ mental gears are a little rusty from our enforced vacation. I guess they’re a little squeaky.”
Simon settled his head back down on Mal’s chest. “You’re too sneaky to be squeaky.”
The older man’s upper torso shook with the effort not to laugh and the doctor sighed. “I guess I’m not quite awake yet.” He looked up at Mal hopefully. “That’s not going to be one of those phrases that I get teased about for years to come, is it?” When Mal just looked at him with a patently false expression of innocence, Simon sighed again and nuzzled his face into Mal’s warm skin. “Tzao gao,” he mumbled.
This time, Mal let the chuckle come, but the sound lacked the sarcastic edge that so much of his laughter tended to be tainted with. It was hard to be tainted by anything, much less sarcasm, on such a beautiful day. The lovers were curled up together on, of all things, a big hammock. It swayed gently in the soft ocean breeze, the creaking of the rope that tied the hammock to two palm trees blending in nicely with the rhythmic sound of quiet waves lapping against the beach. It was a bright day, but the trees sheltered the two men from the worst of the sun’s rays. Simon lay half next to and half on Mal – just where the captain wanted him.
Reveling in the peaceful atmosphere of their temporary exile, Mal ran his hands up and down Simon’s bare back in a lazy motion. The young doctor was only dressed in a pair of dark blue swim trunks. They’d been borrowed from Wash, so the garments tended to ride down Simon’s hips, a phenomenon that Simon found faintly irritating but Mal didn’t mind in the least. He loved it when they slid low enough that he could just make out the dark crevice dividing his lover’s cheeks. It was a downright indulgence to be treated to such a sight, with no one else around that he had to worry about seeing it too. Like Jayne.
Mal himself was dressed in a pair of thin white pants and a matching shirt, which was currently open all the way down. Simon had protested when Mal donned the long pants, hoping to catch a glimpse of the captain in a swimming suit. Those protests had stopped, however, when he realized that the fabric was thin enough that he could detect the bronze of Mal’s skin tone through them. If that weren’t enough, the material had a tendency to blow about in the constant breezes off the ocean, cupping the fabric around Mal’s ass in the most delightful manner….
Coming from a background of ranch work, Mal’s skin quickly remembered what it was like to be out in the sun and, when he did have his shirt off, he tanned beautifully. Simon had groused that Tams only had two colors – white and red. Luckily, Inara had provided him with some protective lotion and, as Mal’s hands stroked Simon’s back, he was relieved to see that it had worked. Simon was as fair as when he’d stepped off Serenity.
“Mmmmmm…” Simon purred, arching his back into Mal’s touch. “Feels good.”
Mal pressed a quick kiss to the top of Simon’s head, breathing in deeply as he did. “Smells good too.”
Simon’s forehead creased. “Smells….? But Inara said the lotion was scentless.”
“Well, you know how I hate to contradict a trained Companion,” Mal said lightly, “but my nose does detect a fragrance.”
“Really?” Simon sniffed the back of his hand. “I don’t smell anything.”
“I think it’s called ‘Fresh Young Doctor,’” Mal shifted abruptly, sending the hammock to swaying a little more strongly. “Sold only in the Core’s finest boutiques.”
Simon couldn’t help but laugh. Unfortunately, that set off a coughing fit. Even though the doctor quickly got it under control, Mal was frowning at him by the time it was done.
“Mal, I’m fine,” Simon assured the older man. “Shiny, even.”
“Funny, you didn’t sound shiny just then.” Mal disagreed. “And that’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about. I guess now’s a good a time as any.”
The doctor rolled his eyes, lending absolutely nothing to his professional physician’s demeanor. “Is this where I get the lecture about –“
“Being so stupid as to do surgery on me when that go se gas is doing a job on your lungs,” Mal interrupted. “You shouldn’t have taken a risk like that.”
“Well, I wouldn’t have to if you didn’t get shot so often.”
Mal glared at Simon but his heart wasn’t in it. As frightened as he’d been when he woke up in the infirmary and learned what Simon had done, he couldn’t honestly say he wouldn’t have done something like that himself. Besides, Simon was looking at him with a definite glint of fire in his eyes, one dark curl hanging low over his forehead and into his eyes.
Dang, if his lover wasn’t cute when he was being defiant too.
The captain sighed. Like the crew’s ‘mutiny,’ he’d found himself capitulating to all sorts of things of late. “How about this: I’ll try harder to not get shot if you’ll try not to breathe in toxic fumes that do all sorts of hurt to your lungs. Dong ma?”
Simon blinked, having expected a fight or, at least, a lecture. “That sounds surprisingly reasonable.” He settled back down against Mal’s chest, tentatively stroking Mal’s belly.
As eager as he was to get back to their peaceful mood, Mal had one more subject to broach. “Simon, about River….” Dark eyes snapped back up to his face. “Baobei, if we’re on a job and it’s a choice between saving her or me….”
Mal felt his throat tighten. “Probably not, but if it does…”
“If it does, I’ll choose River,” Simon finished for him.
Even though that had been what he was going to say, Mal found himself a little bit hurt at the speed of Simon’s blunt answer. He swallowed and looked away before he could say anything. “Yeah.”
Simon saw his difficulty and reached up to cup the older man’s cheek. “Mal, look at me.”
His lover wasn’t using any pressure to make the captain’s head turn, but Mal found himself looking at Simon anyway.
“I’ve thought about that scenario, had nightmares about it,” Simon admitted. “It would break my heart in two, but if the unthinkable were to happen… I would choose River – because she could survive being chosen. If I chose you… the guilt would eat you alive and I’d lose you anyway.”
Mal blinked his eyes rapidly and cleared his throat. It didn’t seem safe to try and say anything yet, so he instead let his body do the speaking for him. Pulling Simon to him tightly, he slipped one hand down the loose trunks and squeezed one firm cheek. Simon seemed to understand. He snuggled closer, lips unerringly finding the scar on Mal’s chest from Niska’s torture device. He kissed it reverently, as if the action was a benediction to keep his lover safe from any future harm.
After a few minutes, Mal broke the emotion-laden silence. “Sure is a nice beach.”
Simon chuckled, his voice moist from unshed tears. “Yes, it is. It was kind of the others to find such a lovely spot to dump us.”
“Still shouldn’t have done it,” Mal muttered. “An’ I shouldn’t have let them. Authority’ll be all shot to hell. In the old days, a captain would’ve made his crew walk the plank for a stunt like that.”
“Like you would have made Kaylee walk the plank,” Simon teased, “One quiver of her lip and you would have been begging her pardon.” He didn’t mention what would have happened had Mal tried to force Zoe to walk the plank. She’d probably tear the poor wooden board off its foundation and beat Mal with it.
“It’s the principle of the thing,” Mal grumbled.
“Besides, it wasn’t a mutiny,” the doctor blithely continued, ignoring Mal’s complaints *and* the fact that he himself had not been too pleased with the others’ plan at first. “They were just taking care of a captain that wouldn’t take care of himself.” Simon looked around them. “Has she been by today?”
Although Serenity’s crew had claimed they were leaving the two men for an unspecified period, it hadn’t taken Mal and Simon long to realize that they were being checked on a regular basis. It was always Zoe. Sanctuary or no Sanctuary, Mal’s second wasn’t about to let her captain go unguarded. Since their guardian took such pains to stay hidden and not reveal her patrols, Mal and Simon had pretended not to notice.
“No, not yet.”
Simon trailed a finger around Mal’s newly tanned chest, idly circling one nipple. “That’s too bad. Inara said that this lotion she gave me has more than one use, and it *is* nice and slippery, you know…. but we wouldn’t want an audience when we try it out.”
Mal’s breath caught at the sensation and at the coy tone in Simon’s voice. “You really think your lungs are up to that kind of activity? Just laughing started you coughing.”
Disappointed, the younger man rested his chin on his lover’s shoulder. “I suppose not. Besides, I want to make sure your wound is fully healed, the bullet nicked an artery.” Suddenly, Simon yawned.
“Well, if neither one of us are up to more physical activity,” Mal suggested, “how about a nap?”
“Okay,” Simon agreed readily. Despite his best intentions, napping seemed to overcome him with distressing regularity. “Tell me a story, though.”
“I dunno, Simon,” the older man hedged. “Fairy tales aren’t exactly my cup of tea.”
“Not a fairy tale,” the doctor explained, not bothering to open his eyes. “Just tell me… tell me about where you’d live if you wanted to live on a planet instead of Serenity. Would it be a beach like this one?”
“Nah,” Mal let his head loll until it was resting on top of Simon’s. “I’d want wide, open spaces were I could do some ranching, like on Shadow.”
“That sounds nice,” Simon murmured. “And I could have rural clinic.”
“Thought you’d want some big fancy hospital,” Mal said, surprised.
Simon smiled. “No, thank you. I’ve had rather enough of doing research and the like. I want to help people, decent folk. Not spoiled Core brats. Definitely, a rural clinic.” He opened one eye. “With a decent theater district within reasonable traveling distance.”
Mal chuckled. “Okay, one ranch with an adjoining clinic, right outside a theater district.” The captain began to get into the swing of things. “Zoe and Jayne’d help me with the cattle.”
Simon lost some of his enthusiasm. “Jayne? Around cattle? Are you sure that’s such a good idea?”
“Why not?” Mal questioned. “He likes smackin’ them.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Simon explained. “What if ‘smackin’ cows’ is just an euphanism for something more… unclean.”
Mal paused and then winced. “Okay, gonna have to clean out the inside of my eyeballs now, thanks to *that* mental picture.” He sighed and tried again. “Zoe and Jayne will help me take care of the cattle and, to protect the cattles’ virtue, we’ll be mindful that Jayne’s never left unsupervised with them.”
“I can live with that,” Simon agreed, snuggling close and letting his eyes fall shut again. “What about River?”
“River and Book will run the local school. Book will do the book learnin’ part and River’ll teach arts and dance and stuff.”
“She’ll like that,” the doctor agreed. “And Inara?”
“Don’t want no whorin’ on my ranch…”
“All right, let me think a minute.” Mal did and then came up with an idea. “Inara’ll retire from being a Companion and will become the planet’s governor.” He grinned. “Having associated with thieves like us, she’ll be well prepared for the job.”
Simon’s breathing was beginning to get heavy and Mal hastened to finish the description. He wanted to send his lover off to pleasant dreams. “Kaylee’ll have the most popular ship repair depot on our side of the rim and Wash, when he’s not helping her, will be taking care of his and Zoe’s kids. All ten of them.”
When Simon didn’t react to that last bit, Mal knew the younger man had fallen back to sleep. It sounded like a plan to him and he quickly joined.
And, for once, it was a plan that went smoothly.
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