Title: More Trouble than it's Worth
Disclaimer: "Doctor Who" and other related characters are all properties of the BBC and related corporations. "Firefly" and other related characters are all properties of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other related corporations. No infringement is intended. This story, such as it is, was written as a sign of respect and love for the characters, the show, and their creator. I claim no ownership of the aforementioned show and characters.
Summary: Mal was starting to regret picking up that passenger on Dyton.
Feedback: Comments and helpful criticisms are always appreciated.
It had only been a day, but Mal was already starting to regret picking up that passenger on Dyton. Not for the first time, he couldn't help but ask himself why he'd let Kaylee convince him that it wouldn't be any trouble to let him hitch a ride with them to Beaumonde. Especially after she'd started rambling on about the man being a time traveler trying to find some lost friends or some such nonsense.
Mal shook his head. His gut had told him to turn that Jack fellow down flat, but the price the other man had been willing to pay for passage had been a bit too tempting.
He should have listened to his gut.
Mal froze in the doorway to the dining area, his gaze quickly moving over the scene in front of him. Wash had their newest passenger pinned against the wall, while Zoe was staring at them both with a combination of amusement and exasperation on her face. Kaylee was glaring at Wash, while the doc was standing in one of the other doorways—a look of trepidation on his face—with his sister peering out curiously from behind him. Inara and the Shepherd were nowhere to be seen, and Jayne, in the meantime, was helping himself to dinner as if nothing whatsoever was going on.
"What the hell is going on in here?"
There was a wide variety of reactions from his crew. The passenger, Jack, shot him an obviously relieved look, while Kaylee turned toward him with a similar expression. Zoe's bemused look didn't change, and Mal didn't even want to try guessing what the look on Simon's face meant. River shot him an eerie grin from behind her brother, and Jayne ignored him completely.
Wash merely turned toward him with an angry look on his face. "This qingwa cào de liúmáng needs to learn when to keep his mouth shut."
At that, Mal glanced at Zoe and raised an eyebrow.
With a smirk playing at the corners of her mouth, Zoe shrugged. "He was flirting with me, sir," she said matter-of-factly.
Mal stared at her for a few seconds before glancing over at Wash. "That doesn't explain why your husband is practically strangling our paying passenger."
Wash turned his attention toward Mal, unconsciously loosening his grip on Jack's shirt collar as he did so. "He was flirting with my wife."
"Jayne does that all the time," Kaylee protested heatedly. She glanced over at Jack, the same look on her face that she got whenever she looked Simon's way, and gave him a brief smile. "You've never threatened to throw him—or anyone else—out an airlock."
At the sound of his name, Jayne looked up. "Don't drag me into this."
"She doesn't flirt back when it's Jayne," Wash shot back at the same time.
Behind Mal, someone coughed. He glanced back to see Book and Inara standing a few feet behind him, both of whom where wearing puzzled looks. "I think we've missed something," the Shepherd said dryly.
"You ain't the only ones," Mal replied with a frown. Then he turned back toward Wash and gave the other man a stern look. "Wash, let him go."
Wash just stared at him. "But Mal..."
"Kaylee's right," Mal said, cutting in. "Ain't the first time someone's been interested in your wife, and it won't be the last."
Jack took Wash's distraction as a chance to slip out of the man's grip and quickly slide toward the opposite end of the room. "I honestly didn't mean anything by it," he said as soon as he was out of reach. "It's one of my rules. Never sleep with half of a married couple." He paused for just a second and eyed Wash speculatively. "Of course, I have no problem sleeping with a both halves of a married couple."
Wash and Zoe both froze for a second at that, and Mal couldn't help but think that he saw at least a glimmer of interest in both of their eyes. Behind him, Inara laughed softly, and—judging from the lack of sound coming from the preacher—Book was mostly likely shaking his head disapprovingly.
Jayne had looked up at that, and he was now eyeing Jack speculatively. "Think you could get another one of the women to join in too? Kaylee here would do it, Inara might if you paid her ... maybe even the crazy girl would want to get in."
"River won't be joining in anything," Simon said, speaking up for the first time. "And if you even think that again, I'll..."
"You'll what?" Jayne asked, grinning as he pushed his chair back from the table.
"It doesn't matter what he'll do," Mal said loudly, stopping Jayne in his tracks. "If I were you, I'd be more worried about what I'll do."
At that, Jack turned his attention away from Wash and Zoe, focusing it instead on Mal ... and the captain knew he wasn't imagining the look on the other man's face. "Don't even think it," Mal said warningly.
"Wouldn't dream of it," Jack said innocently, his gaze still drifting over Mal's body.
From the other side of the room, Simon coughed. "That's what you said when I told you to keep away from River."
Jack tore his gaze off of Mal and looked over at the doctor, rolling his eyes as he did. "For the last time, I was only talking with your sister," he said, a hint of exasperation in his voice. "She's barely seventeen. I know better than to have sex with a seventeen-year-old."
River peered out from behind Simon again. "The big bad wolf came and took his friends," she said matter-of-factly. "Ate one of them. He still wants to find them, so he looks for the blue box. But he can't find it."
"I'd still like to know how she does that," Jack muttered.
Ignoring what he was saying, River tilted her head a bit. "Two and one makes three," she said thoughtfully. "Adding another would make it even. Two and two, male and female."
"River?" Simon asked uncertainly.
She smiled. "I'd join in. It would be educational."
It took a second for her words to sink in, since it had been several minutes since that part of the conversation had been dropped, but—as soon as everyone realized just what she had said—everyone reacted.
Mal just groaned. "Nobody kill anyone!" he ordered loudly. Then he turned around, pushing past a startled Inara and Book as he walked away. "Why can't we ever get some nice, normal passengers?" he muttered. "Ones who ain't fugitives, or feds, or preachers, or whatever the hell that Jack fellow is."