Malcolm In the Middle
Malcolm In the Middle
The burdens of leadership. I tell you. When the day's work gets all uglified, it's the other side of the coin from putting food on the table. I want to make sure my crew gets their three squares, but it don't always happen. And each and every time, I want to make sure we have a milk run and a fast payday, but that sure don't always happen.
So when this ball of wax started to desmooth itself, it was my responsibility to fade the heat for my loyal crew member. I shaped my arm into a hug and whispered, "Whatever happens, just remember that I love you." And that earned me one bitch-kitty of a dirty look. "We're married."
"Gorramit, Mal," Jayne said. "You finally lost your last ruttin' marble."
"No, you don't get it," I said. "We're play-acting! Gotta fool 'em!"
Looking back on it, a little change in casting probably would have helped. But considering that none of the stuff we buy exactly comes with a guarantee (not to mention the stuff we don't exactly buy) I figured that dropping Zoe on the end of a cable was our best bet for packing the most smarts and guts per pound. Say that for her, she got them boxes off the train and back on Serenity right smart, for all they didn't stay there long.
Luckily, Jayne keeps his trap shut when there's Fed around. So when the Sheriff of Paradiso had a little chat with us, I was able to spin him a tale about how we knew his rock wasn't up to much, but it was one of the few places that would credit our marriage lines from Nuevo Ontario. Jayne just let his mouth hang open and nodded and tried to look all "Yes, dear." I think the lawman bought it. We didn't get bound by law, but on the other hand they weren't letting us--or anybody--out of the hoosegow. Time was a-wastin' for the meetup with Niska's men. I was beginning to cast my mind toward getting us out of there, but then it all got done for me.
"There they are!" Simon said, strutting in in his best outfit like he owned the place and liberally dispensing sums of cash. I had a fair-to-middlin idea where he got that money from too. He shoved Jayne away from me and backhanded me across the mouth. Lefthanded. "You still owe me one," he said real quiet, grinning like a ventriloquist. I could tell he'd decided against risking his right hand on my face, which meant he'd been thinking about it.
"This is my runaway indentured man," he said, trying his best to snarl. "Six months to go on his debt, and he skips out. I'll take him back with me now, if you're done with these...inquiries."
The sheriff folded up his cut of the Christmas presents and nodded.
"Me! What about me!" Jayne said.
"Ah, yes," Simon said, shaking his head. "My wastrel brother. Weak-minded. Tragically easily led astray. Come along home now, Mervyn."
"I'll see that he's properly punished when we get back to the estate," Simon called over his shoulder.
"Damn!" Jayne said. "Wish I'd known to print tickets 'fore we left!"
We marched back to the shuttle, Simon walking point, Jayne behind me. And that was the story of my life just then: stuck between them. And 'Nara nearby, laughing her fool head off.
Look, the trouble started when the doc turned up. Before that, sure I got horny and I'll bet my soul and overcoat Jayne did too, but we managed it in a way that didn't turn into a menace to navigation. Simon was just the one ingredient that turned two innocent ingredients into a bomb. Don't go trying to figure out which one was the sack of fertilizer, neither.
But once he was there, it was like I was caught between two stories, two picture books about "What is a Man". One of 'em so educated and smart and civilized. The other one so...not. The city man and the natural man. One of 'em all about the plans and the waiting and the being nice and the not having what the other one just growled and grabbed. What the doc didn't understand was that I was in no danger of turning into Jayne, Jayne already did it for me. He'd probably like it if I tried to turn myself into him, but that just wasn't about to happen.
And neither of 'em exactly a trial to look at, one of 'em so rugged and tall and strong and one so smooth and pretty (but with more muscle on him than you might think). That damn boy better not be well hung. If he is, that'd just be more proof that there's no God and the 'Verse hates us.
They tell of a philosopher, and the problem is he had a philosophical ass. A real one, I mean, of the donkey kind. This is an improving story, not just a pile of mindless smut. Trouble is, the philosopher kept it in a barn between two bales of tasty hay. The beast never could make up its mind where to start eating because one was just as good as the other. So it starved to death. You'd thinking between the Core-ing and the Rim-ing I'd be a satisfied (if worn-out) man. But I was so spoiled for choice that there I was, just another dumb ass not getting any.
Once we got back on the boat, Wash was all set to take off again, but I had to break the news to them about the change in plans. I knew once I got Zoe on my side, it'd be all right--Wash'd go along with her. I didn't even have to sink my teeth into telling Kaylee about the sick babies, and of course it was just the answer to the preacher's prayers, crime not paying. Good thing Simon hadn't been around to hear me saying that it was so much fun sneaking the stuff past the feds, I'd do the job for free, 'cause he'd just say to think about it as a volunteer drug delivery assignment.
The mule was a lot lighter when we came back than when we went out, giving that stuff back. My wallet was a lot lighter, but so was my heart. I was some worried about how the engine'd run, what with all that Crow and such, but she ran sweet. Must have been the lube. Or the special energy additives in his tats.
After everyone else'd gone to bed, the three of us sat out on the catwalk. Jayne poured me a drink. Simon put his hand over his cup of green tea.
"Good, more for me," Jayne said, pouring another slug of 'shine into his mug. "And so it ends. Another blown job."
Simon glared at him.
"There was an "n" at the end!" Jayne protested. "Warn't there, Mal?" he said, looking over and appealing to me. Tell you the truth, he'd been looking pretty appealing lately anyway. "And what was all that 'married" bullshit?"
"First thing that come into my head," I said, and explained to Simon what'd happened.
"Freud would be pleased," Simon said, and inevitably Jayne said "Huh?" No wonder I wasn't getting myself into any of what I knew I'd be getting myself into.
"So," Jayne said, standing up and stretching and my, if what was at eye level wasn't a sight for sore eyes. Four of 'em, apparently. "So, ya want the wedding night, or what?"
"That wouldn't be appropriate," I said stuffily. Because it's a lot easier to do something stupid, later on, than go back and not-do something stupid you've already done.
"I'd offer you a piece of the pie, sweet thing," he said, "But I know you don't approve of me and all."
The tip of Simon's tongue flicked over his lips, fast so you'd only notice it if you were looking. "Well," he said, "I was brought up to look for the best in every man. Especially if his best looks to be about eight inches."
"So what does that make us?" I had to ask.
"Big damn homos, sir!" Jayne said cheerfully.
Title: Malcolm In the Middle
Details: Standalone | R | *slash* | 7k | 08/20/04
Characters: Malcolm, Jayne, Simon
Summary: An AU version of "The Train Job", explaining how they got into the predicament