Eyes of the Beholder

by Juli

May 2003

Be sure to check out  the end of the story to see what's got Simon so hot!

"What are you doing?"

When he came down the ladder to the quarters he shared with his lover, Mal Reynolds, all Simon could see was the top of Mal's head. The older man was bent over some papers on his desk, not even looking up when Simon entered. Tired himself, the doctor turned and, after toeing off his shoes, began undoing his vest. While he didn't need the fancy garments much anymore as a physical reminder of his old life, he still liked their colorful material and tended to be careful with their care.

"The Alliance, in exchange for all the bureaucratic nonsense that sucks the life right out of decent folk tryin' to make a living," Mal answered Simon's question in an absent, cranky voice, "has decided to charge us for the privilege."

Simon turned at the sound of tired irritation in his companion's voice, deft fingers still working at the buttons of his shirt. "Taxes?"

Mal threw his pencil down in disgust. "Taxes. Funny how the bloodsuckers are always the first with their hands out for your money, but the last ones to offer a hand if you're in need. Sometimes I think all that comes out of the Core is death and taxes."

Being Core-born himself, the doctor opened his mouth to refute that statement, but stopped when he got a good look at Mal's face. Leaving his shirt partially unbuttoned, he moved across the small quarters to peer intently at his lover. "What are those?"

Mal turned to look over his shoulder. Not seeing anything, he gave Simon a blank look. "What?"

"*Those,*" Simon said, invading Mal's space. The captain was forced to shove his chair back from the table and, even then, Simon followed him. The doctor placed one hand on either arm of Mal's chair, effectively pinning him. Not that Simon noticed, he was too intent on staring at Mal.

Mal gulped. His intensity was one of the many things he loved about Simon, but it was a little disconcerting to have it turned on him - and him not having a clue why. "You want to give me something to work with here, Simon? I don't know what you're talking about." In truth, Mal was a little worried. The only other person he'd seen with that kind of look of avid fascination was River… not exactly the most comforting comparison.

"Those," Simon said succinctly. In his desire to get a close-up view of his lover, he straddled Mal, ending up on the bigger man's lap. "The glasses, I've never seen you wear them before."

"These old things?" Mal scoffed, finally remembering that he had the spectacles on. "I don't need them for most stuff." That wasn't the only reason - Mal was all too aware of the youthfulness of his lover. While far from an old man himself, sometimes he felt older than his years and the glasses just added to that self-perception. Since the Tams had come on board, he'd actually avoided wearing the blasted things all together.

"I like them," Simon purred.

Mal abruptly re-thought his whole position on the eyewear issue. "You do?"

"Yes," Simon said decisively. "They make you look very distinguished." He nuzzled behind Mal's ear, nipping gently at the lobe.

"Ar- are you sure it's not just that captainy aura of authority that I exude?" Mal asked, determination getting the better of the breathlessness caused by his lover's antics.

Simon left off snacking on Mal's ear to pull back as much as his perch on the older man's lap would allow. He seriously studied Mal's face before shaking his head slowly. "No. It's more than that. The glasses make you look… more like yourself, I guess."

Mal wrapped his hands around Simon's bottom, pulling the doctor back close again. "They make me look more like me? Who do I look like without them?"

"I don't know," Simon said in exasperation. "I don't have to have a reason for liking the way you look, do I?"

"No," Mal admitted, keeping a perfectly straight face. "But a man likes to know these things. What would happen if I put on a hat, would I look like me then?"

"You're impossible, you know that?" Simon complained fondly. He kissed Mal briefly, then got up and offered his lover a hand. "Come on, let's see if you look like you without all those clothes on."

Mal let himself be coaxed out of the chair. "What about the taxes?" He asked in false concern, eyes twinkling as his lover rolled his eyes.

Simon detected the twinkle. Now that Mal was standing, he had to lean up to kiss him. That accomplished, he waggled his eyebrows at the older man. "If you're a really good boy, Mal, I'll prove to you that not every thing that comes out of the Core is limited to death and taxes."

Simon grabbed Mal by the suspenders and propelled the captain to the small bed that they shared, where not only did Mal come to eat his words, but he found them mighty tasty at that.

~ the end ~

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