I don't own them, I'm just borrowing them.
Simon scratched the back of his hands as he walked back from the kitchen. They were always dry and irritable whenever he got stuck with the dishes. It was one of the reasons everyone hated getting stuck with them. Mal always bought the cheapest dish soap on the market and it played havoc on the skin.
When he got to the catwalk overlooking the cargo bay he saw Zoe, Wash and Jayne leaning on the railing trying hard not to laugh. Following their gaze he found out why. "What's Mal doing?"
"Practicing sword fighting." Zoe told him, never taking her eyes off the captain. She didn't want to miss a second of the entertainment.
Simon cocked his head curiously. "Is that what that's supposed to be?"
"So he says."
Shaking his head Simon headed down the stairs. "So, what exactly are you doing?" He asked Mal loudly while still a good distance away. No sense taking chances when Mal was swinging a three-foot blade around.
"Brushin' up with the sword gos se." Mal told him. "Inara's coming back in a minute."
"Well she said she would help."
Simon gritted his teeth. "I meant why the sword."
"Going to another of them fancy parties tomorrow."
"Are you expecting much swordplay?" Simon asked as he picked up the slim blade Inara must have been using from a nearby crate. Awkwardly he imitated Mal's grip on the blade.
Mal grinned as he saw him take several clumsy swings from the shoulder. He had done the same thing the first time he held a sword back on Persephone. Before Inara came in and set him right anyway. "Wasn't expecting any last time as I recall."
"True enough." Simon agreed as he swung a few more times, overextending each one. "At least you're not relying on luck to get you through this time."
Mal bristled and batted Simon's clumsy swings aside and got in the man's face. "Luck? I bet I could beat you any day of the week!"
Instead of being intimidated like he expected the doctor simply took a step back and levelled him with a look he couldn't quite identify. "I'll take that bet."
Mal blinked and stared blankly at his ship's doctor. This wasn't how things were supposed to go.
"Simon I don't think-" Zoe tried to cut in as Jayne egged them on. He probably just wanted to see Simon skewered.
Simon ignored them and brought his blade up. "I'm serious. But let's make things interesting."
"More interesting then my doctor going kwong-jun duh?" Mal asked, wondering if Simon had finally lost it.
"Yes. How about the loser does the winner's chores for a week?"
Now Mal was torn. On the one hand a doctor suffering from severe blood loss was no use to him. On the other he could really do with a week without chores.
"Alright." Mal said as he brought his own sword to the ready. "Don't say nobody tried to warn you."
After a minute or so Mal was starting to get frustrated. Simon didn't move a muscle. He just stood there, blade ready, staring at him with a neutral expression. At his first fight not only had he already attacked but was already bleeding by this point.
Finally Mal had enough and lunged forward with a thrust. Seconds later his eyes widened in shock as he sword clattered across the cargo bay, Simon's resting at his throat. "Wha? How?"
Simon just grinned at him before setting the sword back on the crate he'd found it. "Enjoy the extra chores captain." He called over his shoulder as he left for the infirmary.
Mal was still standing there in shock when Inara came back.
"Why were you fighting Simon?" She asked.
Inara nearly laughed out loud when Mal turned to look at her with confusion all over his face. He just couldn't comprehend what just happened. "I knew I'd win."
"With a sword? Against Simon? Not likely." She told him with certainty.
"What do you mean?"
"You really don't know?"
"I didn't think you'd want to learn anything about fighting from Simon or I would have gotten him to teach you." Inara explained to the confused captain. "He's a three time Alliance wide fencing champion."
"Three time champion!" Mal muttered before swearing loudly
"What is it?"
"That boy just hustled me!" Mal frowned. "I'm not sure whether to be proud or beat the living tar out of him."
Just a quick fic that came to me after watching 'shindig' again. When that one guy told Mal that any of the gentlemen at the party could lend him a sword it got me thinking. It seems like in that upper class society it's the norm to at least know a little about handling a blade. I figured that Simon was raised in that sort of society as well so it would make sense that he would know swordplay too. I only made him good because I can't see Simon as the type to do anything halfway.