|Compromising Positions | Into the Black | Contact|
ComplicationsNotes: So…as usual, there wasn't supposed to be a sequel, but you know my Muse… Hugs and kisses to mays for holding my hand and assuring me that I’m on the right track. Spoilers for Heart of Gold.
Sequel to: Revelations
Simon makes himself extremely scarce over the next week, staying mostly in his bunk, complaining of a stomach upset. Jayne knows bullshit when he hears it. He knows that the Doc is avoiding the common areas so that he can’t run into Mal. Mal on the other hand, has been stomping around the ship like a bear with a sore head, snapping and growling at everyone, but Jayne in particular.
Jayne just can’t figure it. It’s obvious to anyone who’s got eyes that Mal and the Doc want each other so badly it hurts, and he doesn’t know why they don’t just fuck and get it over with. This is why he goes to whores – none of this feelings crap. He gets an itch, he gets it scratched. Money changes hands, no emotional mess to clean up afterwards. No complications.
“So, what are you going to do?” Kaylee asks, sitting on Simon’s bunk with him. “Hide in here forever?”
Simon shrugs and says facetiously, “Why not? Seems to be working so far.”
Simon sighs, leans back against the wall behind him and closes his eyes. Rubbing his face, he says, “I know I can’t avoid him forever, for one thing, it’s been a whole week and a half since he’s been shot or stabbed. He’s bound to need doctoring soon. I’m just trying to minimize contact as much as possible right now, okay? I just can’t deal with the pity.”
“What makes you think he pities you?” Kaylee asks, brow furrowed.
“Oh, come on Kaylee. The only thing more pathetic would be if I’d fallen for Jayne. How could he not pity me? Or worse, loathe me. Some men would, you know.”
Kaylee reaches out and takes Simon’s hand. “The Captain ain’t one of those men, Simon. I can’t imagine him pityin’ you. Or hatin’ you either. He ain’t that type. I really think you should talk to him. Maybe…maybe he feels the same. Ever think of that?”
Simon opens his eyes and looks at Kaylee and raises his eyebrow cynically, and says bitterly, “Yeah, right. And tomorrow River will wake up and be the person she was before the Academy got their hands on her.”
“Why’s it so hard for you to imagine he could have feelin’s for you? It’s not totally impossible, you know.” She squeezes his hand lightly. “You’re pretty swai, in case you hadn’t noticed. I wouldn’t be surprised if I weren’t the only one Serenity pinin’ for you.”
Simon snorts quietly, Kaylee’s boundless cheerfulness has buoyed his spirits over the last seven days – no matter how bad he feels, somehow she manages to find something positive about the situation, somehow makes him laugh. He’s insanely grateful that his stupidity and insensitivity hadn’t destroyed their friendship. He’s not sure if he could have made it through the last week without her. He smiles slightly at her joke and squeezes her hand back. Maybe he will talk to Mal tomorrow. Not that he believes Kaylee for a second, but it’s certainly time for him to stop being such a coward.
It's late and Mal has just finished his final circuit of the ship. He goes into the galley and makes himself a cup of tea. He sits and tries to make sense of the last few weeks. Mal hadn't been lying when he had told Nandi he didn't like complications. He didn't. Things were tough enough out here in the black without deliberately going about complicating his life by giving in to his feelings. But now, Inara was leaving and the Doc apparently had a crush on him.
Ever since Jayne had told him and he had seen the truth in Simon's eyes, it had been haunting him. He just couldn't seem to shake the look of absolute despair on Simon's face out of his head and it hurt knowing that he was the cause of it. Mal knows he shouldn't feel guilty – he hadn't done anything to encourage the boy – yet somehow he does, somehow Mal does feel responsible for Simon's feelings.
Simon had been avoiding him completely for nearly a week and Mal hadn't realized just how much Simon had become a part of his life until he wasn't there anymore. He missed the doctor's quiet calm and sarcastic wit, he even missed Simon's annoying habit of pointing out the flaws in his logic. He missed seeing his face across the dinner table, missed the clean scent of him when they passed in Serenity's narrow corridors. Mal also hadn't been lying when he told Nandi that he leaned toward women. He did prefer women, but there had always been room in his bed for the occasional man. And it looks like his subconscious had already chosen one for him without his noticing. Because now that he knows how Simon feels he just can't stop thinking about the boy – about his laugh, his smile, the way his too-long hair curls over the collar of his shirts, his pale, smooth skin – it was driving him to distraction.
So now he's got complications. His newly realized feelings for Simon in no way negated his feelings for Inara - her leaving was tearing him up inside. He's trying to come up with ways to keep her on board and all he can come up with is to take her away from civilization. It's mean and it's petty, but he thinks it might just work. If he keeps her away from the Core long enough maybe she'll change her mind.
A part of him tells him to let her go, to concentrate on this new possibility. There is no doubt whatsoever in his mind about how Simon feels about him- it was written all over the boy's face. Inara, on the other hand, keeps her feelings to herself. It's always a minefield of misspoken words and misunderstandings around her. Simon would be the smoother path.
Mal laughs cynically at himself. Yeah, right, smoother path. Because trying to make a relationship, any relationship work, always went so smoothly for him. Mal knows he's emotionally damaged, knows that it would be best for everyone involved for him to just stop, for him to put his feelings back in the box in his soul and forget about them. But his experience with Nandi made him think, really made him think. Did he honestly want to spend the rest of his life alone, an island surrounded by the love and affection of others, but never allowing himself to be touched by it? His answer is no. No, he doesn't. He wants to experience love again. He wants to shed some of the cynicism that has crept into his soul. He needs to, or he will turn into the bitter, mean old man that he half-seriously tells Kaylee he already is.
Sighing heavily, Mal realizes this situation is not going to resolve itself tonight. He gets up and rinses his cup and goes to his bunk to toss and turn the night away. Lying there, Mal makes one decision – Simon will no longer be permitted to hide from him.