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What the Universe Offers (Prodigal Son, M, Malcolm)


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So, "Prodigal Son" is a new show in the U.S. Basically, the main character solves crimes for the NYPD with the help of his imprisoned serial killer father. It's dark, and angsty, and super entertaining. If you want to see a preview, here's the link:


Malcolm is adorable and fragile and perfect fodder for a sneeze fic. :wink2:


Malcolm woke the way he always woke: violently snapping out of a nightmare, screaming and pulling at his restraints. This morning was further complicated by a grating cough that tore at his throat, making it difficult for him to overcome the panic. He willed himself to deepen his breathing and slow his heart rate and, after a couple minutes, he was calm enough to undo the wrist restraints that kept him from sleepwalking or hurting himself while he slept. The nightmares were worse than usual—a mix of his usual childhood terrors interwoven with details from this latest case.


He sneezed wetly against his wrist, feeling dampness through his sleeve.

“Off to a great start,” he sighed to himself. Apparently an early night had done nothing to fend off the cold he’d been fighting yesterday. “Suppose I’m not taking the best care of myself,” he said out loud, putting a small scoop of bird seed in his pet’s feeder. “You eat much more regular meals than I do, don’t you?” He stuck a finger through the cage and pet the top of the bird’s soft head, earning him a chirp and a gentle nip. Self-care had never really been his strong suit, but even Malcolm knew he’d been letting things get dangerously out of hand since he resumed seeing his father at the prison hospital. And yet…and yet he couldn’t stop. Not until he had the answers he was looking for.

It took him longer to get ready than usual, but since he didn’t technically have a real job, it didn’t matter much. After taking a couple Tylenol to fight back against the headache and sore throat, Malcolm took a card from the box his therapist had given him.

“Stop overthinking and say yes to what the universe offers.” He took a deep breath and repeated the day’s mantra to himself. “Say yes to what the universe offers. Okay. How hard can that be?” he asked his bird.

Being a consultant for the NYPD had its benefits. Nobody really cared about his comings and goings, and because he made people uncomfortable, they mostly left him alone. So, at a little after 11am, Malcolm found himself alone in a conference room staring at an evidence board waiting for some kind of idea to present itself. Malcolm loosened his tie a little and swallowed painfully, squinting through the headache that had come roaring back.

“Got anything yet?”

Malcolm startled at the sound of Gil’s voice. He hadn’t heard him come in and the surprise made his pulse spike with anxiety again.

“Sorry, man. Didn’t mean to scare you,” Gil said.

“You didn’t,” he lied. “I just—”

“Whoa. Malcolm, you look like shit.”

“Thank you, Gil.”

“What’s going on?” Gil could shift from hardened detective to concerned father figure in the drop of a hat and Malcolm couldn’t hide a tight smile. “You’re not sleeping,” Gil said. “But what else is new? Is this case too much? You know it’s okay to sit it out if—”

huhSCHHoo! hhTSHHoo!

“Bless you,” Gil said, rolling his eyes.

huh uhh…HuhKTSHHoo!

“Malcolm, why are you working if you’re sick?”

“M’fide.” He sniffled and pinched his nose to try and get the itch in his sinuses back under control. It had been building since before Gil had joined him and he was afraid he was working towards a proper fit.

“What have you taken?”

“Some Tylenol before I left the house,” Malcolm said.

“Hm.” Gil put a hand on his forehead. “You’ve got a fever even with meds.” He cut off the younger man as he saw him gearing up to argue. “I’m going to stop you right there,” he said. “If you’re not smart enough to make good decisions, I’ll make them for you.” He put a hand on the side of Malcolm's face and patted his cheek. “You’ve got to take care of yourself, Malcolm. I’m worried about you.”

“Just a cold,” Malcolm mumbled, fully aware that Gil meant “big picture” worried and not just him shaking off a case of the sniffles. Gil gave him a little push towards the door.

“Look, if the case heats up, I’ll call you. Otherwise, go home and get some rest.”


“No ‘buts.’ Get out of here. Call if you need soup or something.”


The ride to the prison almost lulled Malcolm to sleep in the back of the cab. Despite the painful congestion throbbing in his head, his tender throat, and rising fever, he knew he’d never get any sleep while the case was unsolved. Maybe his father could lend some insight. Or maybe he was looking for…what was he looking for?

The cold air bit at his skin when he exited the car and he hunched down into his coat and wiped his runny nose with a gloved hand. After clearing security, he had a guard escort him to the bathroom before going to his father’s cell. Malcolm took a handful of rough paper towels and blew his nose. He glanced at the mirror above the sink and sighed when he saw the sallow reflection that looked back at him. There was only so much he could blame on poor lighting.

huhtschhoo! HuhTSHHoo! huhpTSHHoo!

The messy trio of sneezes he quickly caught in his hands immediately undid any progress he’d made in clearing his head. He put paper towels in both pockets of his jacket and washed his hands before walking down the long concrete hallway towards his father. He’d made the walk many times before, but it seemed especially long and cold as his footsteps echoed through the space. He could see his father turned towards the back wall of his cell, dressed in his usual grey cardigan over his prison uniform, hands clasped behind his back, looking like he didn’t have a care in the world. The first time Malcolm visited him in prison he was expecting more of a Hannibal Lector setup but, thanks to the money he made doing teleconsultations with wealthy private clients (who apparently didn’t mind that the world-class cardiologist was also a serial killer), his cell felt more like a professor’s office. Really, if not for the fact that the doctor was leashed to the wall with a long metal cable with shackles around his ankles, the space could almost be described as cozy. The guard buzzed him in, and Dr. Whitley turned around and greeted his son with a glowing smile.

“Malcolm! My boy! So good to see you.”

“Doctor Whitley,” Malcolm greeted him formally.

“To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit? I mean, I’m always glad to see you, but two visits in as many weeks? Not sure I what I did to deserve all this attention.”

“I’m working the Thompson murders.”

“Ah! I’ve been following it. Grim affair. Puzzling I assume.”

Malcolm could feel his hand wanting to break into a tremor and clenched his fist. He tried to take a slow, deep breath through his nose to calm himself, but it ended up making a wet sniffling noise that instantly made him need to sneeze. His breath hitched and he raised a finger to his father, turned slightly and did his best to muffle the sound into the bend of his arm.

Huh huhKTSHHoo! ehhKTSHHoo! huhKTSHHoo!

“Bless you! Malcolm, you’re not well. Why didn’t you say something?” An expression like concern flashed over Martin’s face. Of course, Martin Whitley was unable to feel concern or empathy Malcolm reminded himself; it was more the practiced response of what the doctor knew he was supposed to feel. “Sit down, my boy. Sit down,” he said, nodding towards the visitor’s chair. “Do you want me to have them bring you some water?”

“No. I’m fine,” Malcolm said. He did accept the proffered chair though. Say yes to what the universe offers, he thought to himself. He took a paper towel from his coat pocket and wiped his nose then tried to refocus his efforts on the task at hand. Martin sat in the chair on the other side of the desk and tilted his head, observing his son.

“How long have you been sick?” he asked.

“Just a day or two. It’s nothing.”


“I’m not here for an exam,” Malcolm said tersely.

“Why not? I am a doctor after all.”

“You’re a serial killer.”

“Well, technically, I’m both. I mean, one doesn’t cancel out the other.”

uhhNTshhoo! HuhhTschhoo! huh uhh…huhhKTSHHoo!

“Bless you.” Martin tsk’d and shook his head. “Son, you sound terrible.”

He’d felt those sneezes in his bones. Malcolm shivered and blew his nose into the rough paper towels he’d taken from the bathroom. He needed to get what he’d come for and then hit up the nearest pharmacy for the strongest cold medicine commercially available.

“Tell me what you know about the Thompson murders,” he said, hoping he sounded more sure of himself than he felt.

“You can’t see it, can you?” Martin asked. “Why he drowns them—you can’t see it.”

“If I could, I wouldn’t be here,” Malcolm said, his voice trailing off as his breath hitched softly again. He curled a finger under his nose to try and fight it off, but his eyes watered with the effort of resisting and his lungs began to burn and twitch with the urge to cough.

uhh hih…huhIHGSHHH! HuhNKSHHoo! huhNTSCHooo!

“Bless you. You know, you’ve always sneezed in threes when you get sick. Ever since you were little. You sound close to a sinus infection, my boy. Try hot showers, saline—”

Malcolm got up from the table and went to knock on the door of the cell. He had no interest in listening to Martin Whitley play concerned doctor and father.

“They don’t show signs of a struggle do they?” Martin called out, halting Martin in his tracks. Damn him—he really was a master manipulator. “Your murder victims don’t have defensive wounds, do they? He manages to drown them without a fight.” Malcolm turned slowly and saw the satisfied smirk on his father’s face. “Do you know how hard it is to overpower that innate, primal fear response?” he asked. “It’s one of the hardest things there is to control. Takes a special kind of killer to do that.” Malcolm returned to his chair and couldn’t hold back an exhausted sigh as he sat back down.

“Explain it to me, Dr. Whitley,” he said.

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Oooooooo this is interesting!!!! And that show looks good! Is the serial killer father the same actor that plays Aziraphile in Good Omens?

Edited by caramelfuzz
Called it a movie not a show
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OMG THIS IS PERFECT!! Malcolm is such a great candidate for a fic since he has so many issues. You captured him perfectly! I love the banter with Gil! But omg you write Martin amazingly!! It's so easy to picture them together! 

@caramelfuzz yeah Michael Sheen plays the serial killer dad and was Aziraphale ❤

Edited by Kaze OoOoOo Hiku
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  • 1 month later...

This story is absolutely lovely. I always likes how Martin thinks he's such a good dad, and tries to take care of Malcom, and how adorable Malcom is. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lol I was JUST watching the show last night and kept thinking Malcolm would probably get sick all the time!! Thank you for making it a reality! I would love to see more, if you've got it!

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  • 3 months later...

This was REALLY well written. I'm super impressed.

I would love to see Martin catch his son's cold. A man who is usually so in control of his world and of everyone around him losing that control in his own body might just be delightful!


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  • 2 weeks later...

I LOVE Prodigal Son!! This was so nicely done, and I love the blend of angst with fluff. Beautiful work!

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  • 1 year later...

This show is on Netflix Canada's top 10.... and oh my god this show is perfect for us. All the crazy hurt Malcom goes through makes my brain spin with sf fic possibilities 🤣 That being said this fic is amazing. It's so realistic that it could easily be a part of an episode. I love how well you captured Martin and Malcom's dynamic.... soooo perfect! I always love your fics and this one is definitely up there my goodness 😍 

Thanks for sharing Matilda!!

Too bad the show was cancelled after two seasons :( hopefully it'll pull a Lucifer and get picked up by Netflix or another network because we all need more Malcom in our lives.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 6 months later...

This fic is so good and so in character!! Love the show and hope that there are people in high places who want more too!

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