Another story in the Bao Bei 'verse.

Here we go, here we go. Prompt the second for the lovely [info]mirasol, who said:You know who I'd love to see if you were of a mind to scribble something? Spike and Mal. Ummm, if you want a prompt, how about "skedaddle"?

I haven't written Firefly in *ages*! Meep! *crosses fingers* :)

The Chinese is hopefully right. Mostly it's from here. The first phrase is from here.

Tah mah duh hwoon dahn - mother fucking son of a bitch
gou - dog
mi hua - plum blossom
Shng d - God
hn dn - bastard

'The Wearing of the Green' is an Irish street ballad. The title is from this Chinese proverb:A person is blessed once, but his troubles never come alone.

Beta'd by [info]darkhavens, of course. Thank you!



Troubles Never Come Alone


by
Tabaqui


Someone was killing a cat. Or maybe killing Jayne? Mal flailed blindly in a tangle of sheet, blanket, twisted shirt and half-undone trousers, cursing.

"Captain?" Zo's voice on the com, mildly amused and not at all alarmed. Not killing a cat, then, though killing Jayne was still a possibility. "You all right in there?"

"Fuckin'...gorram...sheets Zoe! What in all the hells is that racket?"

"We don't rightly know, sir. Seems to be coming from a ship."

"Our ship?" Mal asked, confused half-strangled in his shirt. He bucked, kicking hard, and bounced right off his bunk and onto the floor. "Tah mah duh hwoon dahn!"

"Do I need to come down there, sir?" Zo asked, and this time Mal could hear the amusement in her voice loud and clear.

"No, you don't need to come down here. Somebody want to tell me what's goin' on?" The warbling, wailing noise continued in the background, cut with static and a sort of screechy metal-on-metal sound that boded no good.

"There was a distress signal. Someone crying in the dark. Well, actually it was a little more like...petulantly demanding. " River's voice was contemplative, and Mal made a complicated hand gesture he'd learned on Drexal Primus toward the speaker. "You should wash your hands, if you're going to say things like that with them," River said, and Mal sighed, picking at the tangled bedclothes.

"Stop watchin' me sleep, little cuckoo, or I'll clock you one. Now what I'm hearin' don't sound like no 'distress signal'. It sounds like somebody skinnin' a Yarmouth Rock Cat without benefit of clergy or drugs."

"It's not the signal. It's the...signaler. When we got in range, I asked them what was wrong and they said...." River took a long breath and Mal finally kicked the sheets free of his ankles and stood up, straightening his clothes. His suspenders seemed to be knotted in the small of his back.

"They said what?"

"They said 'Ever gorram bluddy t'ing' is wrong."

"I...that....what?" Mal jerked wildly at his suspenders and only succeeded in snapping himself painfully with them. The muffled giggle over the com did nothing to sooth him. "Gorram it all to the hells and back! I'm on my way up there; you make 'em stop that caterwauling!"

"Aye aye, Captain." This time, Zo didn't even have the decency to pretend to sobriety, and Mal stomped his feet down into his boots and gave up on his suspenders. On his way up the ladder, he made sure to shove his ass at the camera.



"So, what've we got?" Mal asked, squinting out through the forward viewport. A dark hulk dimly lit by a trio of stuttering running lights hung about three minutes dead ahead. She was spinning slowly, as if she'd taken a hit or her directional boosters were malfunctioning.

"Stinger-class scout, Captain. A D-S933 Hornet." River was curled up in the co-pilot's chair with her skirt over her feet and a cup of something was that cocoa? in her hands.

"Hornet? Those're armed."

"And this one seems to be." Zo was sitting in a pose that suggested casual relaxation, but Mal could see the tension in her shoulders.

"Well, did you hail 'em? Why ain't there no vid?"

"Most of their systems seem to be offline. And we did hail 'em, sir. Just...can't seem to get anything makes much sense out of 'em."

"Well, let's do it again." River reached out and flipped a switch and Mal took a breath. "Ship in distress, this is Captain Malcolm Reynolds, of Serenity. What's your emergency?"

There was a crackle and pop of static, and then a voice boomed over the speaker, as if whoever was talking had leaned in too close. "'Mergency? Lemme...tell ya. The 'mergency is...the gorram...bluddy bastar'ss....won again, tha's what th'...'mergency is."

There was wet, raspy breath and then.... Then that noise again, twice as loud and just as dreadful as before, only this time Mal could actually make out the words that were being bawled through the com.

"When the law can stop the blades of grass from growing as they grow...
And when the leaves, in Summer time, their verdure does not show...
Then, I will change the color I wear in my cabbeen:
But, till that day, plaze God! I'll stick to the Wearing o'the Green!
"

There was a sudden thump and screech, as if someone had forced a door, and then a shout, and sounds of a struggle. A moment later the vid screen strobed and then steadied, showing a man with cut-glass cheekbones and a bloody lip, and dark eyebrows over wide, pale eyes.

"Well, I'll be done dirty." Mal leaned down into camera range, and the man on the vid dropped his head into his hands.

"Oh, fuck me running. Mal?"

"Yeah, it's me. Good to see you, too, Spike."



Spike sprawled in all his easy cat-elegance on the couch in the lounge, watching Mal watch him. Simon was making unnecessary banging sounds in the infirmary, put off by Spike flatly refusing to let Simon examine his partner. Telling him it didn't need a Doc to diagnose chronic shit-for-brains. Mal leaned near the stairs, arms crossed over his chest, trying not to twitch like a wire-head.

"Doctors are getting' prettier every day," Spike drawled, and Mal snorted.

"Don't make up for his hoity-toity attitude," he said, and Spike grinned.

"You still running with that gou Jayne?"

"Yup. He's mellowed some." Spike laughed, crossing one booted foot over the opposite knee, and Mal ground his teeth a little. "What in buggery is going on with your partner?"

"Angel? Oh, once every...while, he gets a hold of some really good whiskey and takes a little stagger down memory lane. He's got a lot of memories. It makes him a little...." Spike wobbled one long hand elegantly back and forth, rings on every finger, and Mal smirked.

"You don't say."

"Last time, he just about put us dirt-side nose first and near-light. He gets...maudlin." Spike put both arms on the back of the couch and stretched a little, arching his back.

Mal clenched his fists under his arms. "You need to keep a better eye on him."

"Can't watch him forever. 'Sides...things get boring. I don't mind a little shake-up every now and again."

"Cap'n'?" Kaylee interrupted them, stomping up the stairs, her coveralls tied around her waist, grease already smeared back over her cheekbone and along her chin. "He's made a right mess of that poor ship, Cap'n."

"Can you fix it, mi hua?" Spike asked, and Kaylee grinned at him.

"Course I can. It'll take me a bit, though. Twelve, fourteen hours." She craned around Mal to peer into the infirmary window, sweat and burnt-oil smell in Mal's nose. Undertone of something floral, light and sweet. "Simon still mad at you?"

"I reckon." Spike stood up, a smooth unfolding like a piece of heavy silk. His trousers and linen shirt were old stained by years and faded from washing; snug-fitting and a little frayed around the edges. He looked like a holo from some high-class, high-credit resort. Just your average demi-god, jaunting on the dangerous side. "You know I'll make it worth your while, you fix me up."

"I know you will. We'll talk particulars in my quarters. Kaylee?"

"Yeah, Cap'n?"

"You go on and fix what they fucked. Tell Zo I'm doin' business."

Kaylee gazed up at him for a long moment, and then a blinding smile broke over her face. "Course you are, Cap'n. In your quarters. Where you always talk 'business'." She looked over at Spike and waggled her eyebrows and Spike burst out laughing, swaggering over to her and giving her a little chuck under the chin.

"Mi hua, I swear I could eat you right up," he said, his voice low and teasing and all but purring, and Mal straightened with a snap and took Spike's arm.

"Time's wastin', now, let's all get to our business. Go on, skedaddle."

"Sure, Cap'n, sure, I'll let you get down to it," Kaylee smirked, and Mal strode away toward his quarters, dragging Spike behind. He was pretty sure he heard a giggle over the com, too. Damn womenfolk.



"You know, a man might think you'd missed him or something," Spike said, swinging off the ladder and into Mal's quarters.

"Shng d, shut up." Mal fisted both hands in Spike's stupid gorram shirt and hauled the other man the scant feet across the floor to his bunk. When Spike's thighs hit the bunk's edge and he started to fall, Mal fell right with him, pinning him to the mattress and shoving a knee between Spike's thighs. "You just never shut up, you know that? And you come in here and you...talk, and you stretch your gorram arms all over my couch and...and strut all over my hold and smirk at my doc and charm my mechanic...."

"What about that little thing on the bridge, she seemed to like me, too," Spike said. His hands were somewhere between them, busy with buttons and zippers and Mal groaned and lifted up a little and jerked ineffectually at Spike's shirt.

"Her too. You charmed her too, hn dn. Hell, Zo was grinnin' at you. Zo don't grin at nobody 'less I tell her to and mostly not even then."

"Guess they just like me better," Spike muttered, and gave a little growl, pushing at Mal's trousers. "Get these fuckin' things off before I shred 'em."

"You get 'em off," Mal said, and sealed his mouth over Spike's. He had his hands up and curled into Spike's hair now, soft dirty-blond and ragged, chopped off all over his head like some kind of bad orphan haircut. He tasted like the little cigarillos he liked to smoke and like salt and Mal groaned again and rutted his groin into Spike's.

Spike responded by wrapping both arms around Mal and rolling them both, hard. Once on top, he pushed himself to his knees and dragged his shirt off, cursing as the cuffs caught on his wrists. Mal yanked at the waist of Spike's trousers and got the fly open just as Spike gave a jerk and sent cuff buttons pinging off the bulkhead.

"Never find those," Mal said, and Spike huffed.

"I got more." With a wrench, he got Mal's trousers open and a moment later had them crushed together, mouth to mouth and cock to cock and Mal bucked and heaved and got them flipped again. Got his knee just right and one hand under Spike's ass and his cock slotted sweet as sin into the groove of Spike's hip, Spike's cock hard and wet against Mal's belly. With a moan of satisfaction, Mal bent his head to Spike's mouth and rolled his hips, and Spike arched under him, his hands shoving at Mal's trousers and getting a double handful of buttock.

"Well I'll be fucked sideways. That you, Spike?"

Spike twisted his mouth free and grinned, hooking his thigh around Mal's ribs. "The one and only, Jayne. Good to hear you."

"I'd say good to see you, but I ain't exactly happy to be getting' an eyeful of you and the Captain ruttin' like weasels. Maybe you all ought'a quit doin' that on a live feed."

"I will kill you all!" Mal shouted, and didn't even care that the book Spike fired at the com board cracked the panel right down the middle.




The End





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