Spoilers: Objects in Space, Ariel


Orithain and Rina

January 2005

Disclaimers: You donít actually think we believe theyíre ours, do you? Weíre not delusional. ;) We donít make any money from this, just have fun.

Once assured that River was safe, apparently despite his own efforts to stop the bounty hunter whoíd invaded Serenity in search of his sister, Simon made his painful way to the medical bay with Kayleeís assistance. And by the time they got there, despite his gratitude for her support keeping some of his weight off his injured leg, he was wishing that sheíd left him to get there on his own. Simon knew that the shipís mechanic had been terrorized by Early, but in pain and exhausted from the stress of the night, he really didnít have the energy to spare for soothing her just then.

Simon was still trying to figure out how to send Kaylee back to her own quarters when River, Zoe, Wash and the captain arrived, and somehow River managed to draw the other woman away. Sighing with relief, Simon slumped on the bed, not caring if anyone thought he looked weak.

Malcolm Reynolds leaned back against the counter, arms crossed over his chest and one foot braced against the wall, and he eyed the doctor quizzically.

"You near to got yourself killed tonight, Doctor," he observed.

Simon raised his head to glare at the captain out of weary blue eyes. "He was trying to kidnap my sister, in case you didnít notice!"

"Seems she was doiní a right fine job of saving herself to my mind. It might be that we all need to rethink things when it comes to River."

Simon sighed. "I just want her to be herself again, but thatís never going to happen." He slumped again before forcing himself to begin directing Zoe in removing the bullet from his leg.

"Whereís Inara?" he asked, trying to distract himself from the pain.

"She was going to wake Jayne up and get his help in checkiní on the Shepherd."

Simon stared. "Wake him up? Are you telling me that that man-ape slept through everything that happened?"

"Ainít my fault yer little sister didnít see fit to wake me up," Jayne yelled from the next room where he was lifting weights with Book spotting him, the Shepherd seemingly fine.

Simonís eyebrows rose. "And people say sheís crazy," he muttered under his breath, making Mal smile faintly as Inara joined them.

"Heís valuable in a fight," Mal said, defending Jayne though he thought that Simon had a point.

Jane frowned and set the weight bar on the stand, sitting up on the bench. "Might not have got shot if Iíd been around."

"Or you might have driven that lunatic to kill us all," Simon retorted.

Returning to check on Simon now that Kaylee was calmeróand apparently no longer afraid of Riveróand searching out her jacks for a game, River stopped in the doorway, looking from Jayne to her brother. "Safer," she murmured, watching Jayne closely. "Too much to lose."

The mercenary gave a sickly-sweet smile. "And here I didnít think you cared for me."

"I donít."

Riverís words made everyone stifle laughter.

"So why didnít you wake him, mei-mei?" Simon asked gently, curious. The captain was right that Jayne was their best fighter, so it would have made sense for River to make use of him.

She shook her head. "Such a trial," she sighed.

"Him or me?" Jayne shot back, standing and walking over to the infirmary door to look in on them.

"Both," River replied, moving closer to Mal and away from Jayne.

Simon looked up, straight at Jayne, and frowned.

Watching curiously now that sheíd finished extracting the bullet from Simonís leg, Zoe shook her head slightly and motioned to Wash. "Come on, husband, time to get back to bed."

Jayne smirked and backed out of the doorway. "Glad someoneís gettiní some on this damn ship."

"Here now," Mal said sharply. "Thereís no call for talk like that."

"Change can be good," River observed, dark eyes fixed on the captain, who frowned in bewilderment.

"You surely are the most confusing woman," Mal said.

"Could you all please go away and let me lie here in peace?" Simon asked almost plaintively.

"Yeah, go on, Iíll keep the Doc company," Jayne drawled.

Simonís eyes widened, and he made a sound of protest that was ignored as first River, then Mal and Inara, and finally Zoe and Wash left the infirmary, abandoning him to Jayneís mercies. Alone, he warily eyed the big man. "Iím sure itís past your bedtime. Why donít you go back to bed?" he suggested hopefully.

"Now why would I want to do that? I got plenty of sleep while you all were playing with the bad guy. Me, Iím wide awake." Jayne settled himself on one of the beds near where Simon was reclining, his back to the wall.

Simon swallowed hard, appalled when a tiny part of him noticed how good Jayne looked. "The bounty hunterís gone. I donít need a bodyguard."

Jayne smiled easily and pulled one leg up to his chest. "Well now, you never know what might happen, do you? Seems you get in almost as much trouble as your little sister."

Simon let out a groan of frustration. "Usually caused by somebody trying to collect the bounty on our heads," he said with emphasis.

"Itís a damn sizable bounty," Jayne mused, rubbing his short beard before chuckling at Simonís outraged growl. "Well, it is."

"So does that mean we have to worry about you trying to sell us again?" Simon asked, tired of dancing around the subject and of everyone thinking he was such an idiot that he couldnít figure it out.

Jayne shrugged at that. "Nah, learned my lesson the last time."

"How comforting." Simon stared at him. "Whyíd you change your mind and save us? Assuming that something passing for thought occurred and it wasnít simply an accident," he added sarcastically.

"Guess you could call it an attack of common senseóor morals, whatever you like more."

"Iíd like to be sure that our only enemies are outside Serenity, not sharing meals with us."

Jayne laughed aloud at that. "Well, I canít say none of us donít have designs on you; Kayleeís been eyeiní you somethiní fierce."

Simon frowned. He liked Kaylee well enough, but heíd realized that it was only friendship he felt the first time they actually kissed. If they ever ended up in bed together, it would only be because he liked her too much to embarrass or hurt her. "Kayleeís a sweet kid," he said carefully.

"Thought thatíd be the kind you went fer, Doc." Jayneís deep voice was heavy with amusement as he looked over at the younger man.

"You know nothing about me," Simon snapped.

"So why donít you tell me; what do you like, Doc?"

"Why do you care?" Simon asked suspiciously, intentionally shifting his injured leg in hopes that the pain would distract him from Jayneís proximity.

Blue eyes glinted in amusement. "Why do I feel like you just donít want me to know?"

"Possibly because I canít see that itís any of your business." Simon drew one knee up, not wanting the mercenary to notice the effect that the conversation was having on him.

"Aw, címon, Doc," Jayne pressed, now very interested in the answer. "So itís not Kaylee, and it ainít your sister; that leaves Zoe and Inaraóor am I thinkiní of the wrong gender?"

Simon made an indescribable noise and refused to answer, staring down at the bed in apparent fascination.

"Oh ho, getting close, am I?" Jayne sat up, shifting to dangle his bare legs off the bed and resting his elbows on his knees.

"I should get back to bed," Simon announced abruptly, eyes looking everywhere except at the muscular limbs.

"Didnít see you gettingí out of it, did I? ĎCourse, you are looking a little flushed. Need anythiní?"

Simon gave him a wild-eyed look, biting back a yelp when he took a step without considering his injury. "Iím going to my room," he announced.

Moving easily, Jayne got an arm around Simonís waist and held him up. "Might need some help gettiní there."

Simon inhaled sharply, wanting to push the bigger man away but having to admit, at least to himself, that he needed the help. "Thank you," he said grudgingly, his own arm going around Jayneís waist.

Jayne barely held back a smirk. "íCourse, my roomís closer..."

Simon stopped in his tracks. "What?" he finally managed after several attempts at speech.

"So you donít have to walk as far and all."

"I think Iíd sleep much better in my own bed."

Jayne gave a low laugh at that. "Oh, I can pretty much guarantee thatís the case. Címon, Doc, letís get you to your safe little bed before you strain somethiní."

Simon flushed and took another step, stumbling slightly. He gasped when his misstep caused his erection to brush against Jayneís hip, and he stopped again, biting his lip.

"Might be too late for that though."

Raising his eyes, Simon met Jayneís gaze helplessly, unable to move.

Reaching around with his free hand, Jayne brushed his palm over the bulge at the crotch of Simonís trousers. "Ainít no doctor, but I think I could give you a hand with that."

Simon bit back a moan but couldnít prevent the convulsive movement of his hips. "I..." He trailed off helplessly, knowing he should stop this but not wanting toóand not sure that he could even if he did want to.

"Yes or no, Doc; I donít want yer sister cominí after me for takiní advantage of you in your weakened state..."

Surprised into a laugh, Simon looked up at him. "Iíd rather not have to stitch you up again," he agreed. There was a long moment of silence before he nodded sharply. "Yes."

Jayneís smile flashed white against his beard. "All right." He looked around, frowning somewhat before glancing back at Simon. "Yer sister is out of the comm systems, right?"

Simon shrugged slightly. "She was in the cargo playing a game with Kaylee. I doubt she has any more interest in the comm system tonight."

"Good." Jayne nodded as he got them moving again, half-carrying Simon down the corridor to his cabin.

A shudder ran through Simon as he admitted to himself how much he enjoyed Jayneís size and the thought of being overwhelmed by him. Jayne wasnít even winded by practically carrying him around the ship.

Once they were in his cabin and Simon was lying on his bad, Jayne leaned back, liking the look. "Howís the leg?"

"What leg?" Simon replied wryly, most of his attention centered elsewhere as his eyes ran over Jayneís big body.

"The middle one." Snickering, Jayne stripped off his shirt and walked over to the bed, sitting down beside Simon and running a hand up his bare chest. "Nice."

Shivering, Simon stared up at him, eyes wide and darkening with arousal. "You too," he whispered, taking in the sight of the wide, heavy chest dusted with hair that he imagined against his own smooth body.

"Now thatís one thing Iíve never been called before." As he spoke, Jayne lay down alongside Simon, still stroking his chest, his fingers sliding over the pale, smooth skin as he cataloged what made Simon shiver and what made him moan.

"You look nice," Simon managed, reaching for Jayne as well, though his talented hands seemed suddenly clumsy as they glided over Jayneís chest and slid lower until his fingertips were nudging the hard cock.

"Sure, Doc, whatever you say, Doc," Jayne murmured, covering Simonís hand with his own and pressing it against his erection. "Now thatís nice," he growled as he let go of Simonís hand and slid his own hand under the waistband of Simonís pants to find and circle his cock.

"Oh yes," Simon panted, arching up into Jayneís hand eagerly. "So good. More," he begged, reveling in the sensations. It had been so long, and heíd wanted Jayne almost from the moment heíd met him, which was part of the reason heíd been so antagonistic. And now he could have what he wanted.

"Now, donít hurt yerself," Jayne muttered, twisting up to push Simonís pants down and out of the way, baring a nicely formed and sized erection to the mercenaryís gaze. He stroked the bare skin again, then smirked and leaned in to lick a stripe from the base of Simonís balls to the slit at the tip of his cock.

Simon yowled before he shoved a fist against his mouth to muffle his cries as Jayne licked him. His hips rose off the bed, the flash of pain in his thigh instantly forgotten in the pleasure.

Liking the extreme reaction, Jayne repeated the maneuver, this time sucking on the head of Simonís cock. Since Simon seemed distracted, Jayne caught his hand and brought it back to his own crotch, urging him to undo his shorts and get them off.

The sensation of Jayneís heavy erection in his hand drew Simonís attention, and he somehow managed to regain enough coordination to strip the other man and curl his hand around the thick shaft. He drew in a shaky breath as he stared at the erection that was in perfect proportion to Jayneís big, sculpted body, and Simon nearly whimpered as he imagined how it would feel inside him. His hand moved along that shaft erratically, trying to match Jayneís rhythm, but the pleasure of Jayneís touch kept distracting him.

"Nice, real nice, Doc," Jayne murmured, arching into the touch, liking how Simonís hand was almost as soft as a womanís but that there was steel behind his grip. He spat in his palm, stroking the length of Simonís cock as he licked at the head.

"Want you in me," Simon said, finally asking for what he wanted even as he enjoyed touching and being touched.

That comment surprised the normally unflappable mercenary, and he raised his head to look at the younger man. "You sure Ďbout that, Doc? And better make sure you are, Ďcause I ainít asking twice."

Simon nodded. He didnít know if heíd ever get another chance at this, and in case he didnít, he wanted to have it all. He wanted to feel that big body covering him, pressing him into the mattress and filling him. "I want you," he said.

"Yeah, sort of gathered that," Jayne drawled, sitting up even though he continued to stroke Simonís cock. "Not that Iím complaininí at all."

Simon groaned in complaint as Jayne moved away from him, and he reached for the big man with his free hand, the other still busy with Jayneís cock. "Fuck me," he demanded, fairly certain that crudity would urge the mercenary on.

"You ever done this before?" Jayne asked, both amused and aroused by Simonís attempt to take command.

Simon just looked at him. "Just how old do you think I am?" he asked wryly.

Jayne snorted wryly. "With a man," he countered.

"A lot more often than with women," Simon retorted. "I always liked men better." They just werenít usually as earthy as Jayne.

"My, my, Doc, youíre just full of surprises, ainít you." Chuckling, Jayne started to roll Simon to his belly but paused. "Which wayís better for your leg?"

It took Simon a moment to focus on the question, and when he did, he smiled, touched by Jayneís concern. "On my back," he said, promising himself that sometime soon heíd be able to get down on all fours and have Jayne cover him. Unfortunately, it would hurt too much at the moment, no matter how much heíd like it.

Nodding, Jayne reached for the lube he kept in the lockbox by the bed and moved to his knees, situating himself between Simonís thighs. The younger man wasnít large, but he wasnít in bad shape, not for someone whoíd had an easy life. He dropped the tube on Simonís stomach and ran his hands up Simonís thighs, taking care not to hit the bandage over the gunshot wound.

Simon shivered and writhed against the cotton sheets, his eyes on the calloused hands running over his body, every rough spot against his skin making him moan. His legs spread wide, his hips pumping helplessly as he sought more. At the same time, his fingers tightened around Jayneís cock, stroking roughly, the motion growing easier as precome slicked his hand.

"Mmm, thatís nice, Doc," Jayne growled, grabbing the lube and squirting some into his palm, warming it before coating two fingers, filling Simon with one, then two when he discovered the doctor hadnít been lying about having done this before. His breath coming in short pants, he squirted more lube onto Simonís hand. "Slick me up."

Simon made a soft, guttural sound of pure pleasure as he rode the fingers inside him. He eagerly smoothed the gel onto Jayneís cock, moaning with anticipation as he spread his legs even wider, inviting Jayne to take him.

Catching Simonís hand, Jayne pulled it away from his cock and steadied himself before pushing forward into the tight, slick grip of his ass. He groaned and caught Simonís wrists, pinning them back against the bed as he stared down into Simonís face, watching every change of expression.

Whimpering, Simon stiffened, waiting till the initial burn of possession faded and left only the ache deep inside him. "Move," he panted, hands clenching into fists above Jayneís restraining grasp, his legs rising to hook over Jayneís shoulders. He never even noticed the quick flash of pain caused by the pulling on the wound in his leg.

"Whereíre yer manners, Doc?" Jayne asked, lifting his head and grinning down at Simon as he lazily rocked his hips in a small circle.

"Please," Simon begged, squirming but unable to move much unless Jayne let him.

"Thatís better." Leaning in, Jayne licked at Simonís mouth, his tongue sweeping in when it opened, and claimed it in the same rhythm as his ass.

His hips rocking against Jayne, matching his motion, Simon moaned, his eyes closing as the pleasure filled him.

"Tell me how you like it," Jayne rasped, pulling back to look down at Simon again. "Fast? Slow? Hard? Easy?"

"Yes," Simon said, laughing helplessly. "But now? Hard and fast." Heíd wanted Jayne for too long to make drawing it out anything but torture.

Jayneís smile grew, and he released Simonís wrists so that he could push up on his hands. "Hard and fast; gotcha." That said, he began to thrust, his movements causing the bed to bang against the wall, his flat stomach rubbing against Simonís erection.

"Oh yes!" Simonís hands flew to Jayneís arms, clutching at him while they pounded together. "So good," he panted, head tossing on the pillow. He forced his eyes open to stare up at Jayneís face, every pounding jolt into his body reflected in a grimace on the bearded face. The sight made the tension in his belly coil tighter at the knowledge that the lust he saw was for him.

Jayne nodded, close to the edge and wanting to feel Simon tightening around him as he came. He leaned his weight on one hand and dragged the other between them, jerking Simon off as they moved together.

Simonís scream echoed in the confines of Jayneís room as he convulsed in orgasm. His entire body stiffened and spasmed, his ass clenched around the thick cock still pounding into him, and his fingers dug into muscular forearms hard enough to bruise.

Jayneís orgasm followed hard on the heels of Simonís, and he kept moving until Simonís spasms had stopped. Keeping in mind Simonís injury, he rolled to his side, easing Simonís legs off his shoulders and to the bed as he moved. "Now that was nice," he murmured, a hint of a laugh coloring his voice.

"Very nice," Simon agreed, satiated contentment filling his tone. "Wouldnít mind doing it again sometime," he added cautiously, deciding that Jayne was too relaxed to hurt him if he didnít like the idea.

"Yeah, you werenít too bad." Jayne snickered at the flicker of outrage in Simonís expression. "Wouldnít have suggested it if I wasnít interested in doiní it more than once."

"Oh." Simon decided that saying anything about not thinking Jayne knew there was more than one-night stands was probably not a very good idea despite the impulses their months of unfriendly banter had created. "That sounds... nice."

"Yeah, it does." Jayne pushed up onto an elbow and studied Simonís prone body. "Leg okay? Good for the night?"

Simon nodded. "I donít think I could move anyway."

Jayne yawned and rolled to his back, drawing Simon along so that the younger manís head was pillowed on his chest. "Now thatís good for my ego."

"Felt even better from my side," Simon replied sleepily, rubbing his cheek contentedly against the soft hair on Jayneís chest. "Much better than the start of this night."

"Mmm, more ego-strokiní; come morning, weíll see about stroking other thingsóunless folk decide to come lookiní for you."

Simon snickered. "You can explain to River."

"Tianna," Jayne muttered. "Go ta sleep, Doc; ya obviously need it."

"Jayne Cobb, this is the lowest thing I ever did hear of!"

The angry voice woke Simon from a sound sleep, and it took him a moment to figure out where he was and why his pillow seemed to have a heartbeat. By the time he did, Kaylee was off again.

"Taking advantage of a wounded and drugged man..."

"What the... Ow! Now stop it, Kaylee!" Suspecting that only the fact that Simon was half on top of him was keeping Kaylee from attempting to do him serious bodily harm, Jayne wisely didnít move. "Werenít no takiní advantage of anyone here, got it?"

Simon groaned as he buried his face against Jayneís neck. "Go away, Kaylee," he grumbled. "This was not how I hoped to be woken up this morning."

"You mean you... both of you..." Serenityís engineer flushed bright red, and she took a half step backward. "It ainít right; Simonís hurt, and he should be in bed."

Jayne gave a wry chuckle. "Last I saw, thatís where he was."

"As the doctor, I prescribe complete bed rest for the day," Simon said, nibbling on Jayneís throat, secure in the knowledge that Kaylee couldnít see what he was doing.

Kaylee squeaked and bolted up the ladder and out of the cabin, slamming the door behind her.

"Wanna make bets on whoís next?" Jayne asked, tilting his head to the side so Simon could have easier access to his throat.

"River or Mal, Iíd say. None of the others would come into your room; theyíll wait till they can corner us at dinner.

Jayne groaned. "Any chance you can keep River from killing me?" As for Mal, this wasnít an air-lock venting situationóhe hoped.

"Iím not sure, but I think she approves." Simon raised his head to look down at Jayne. "I think thatís why she didnít wake you up last night." He shook his head. "She was protecting you for me."

"You sure you didnít hit yer head when you got shot?"

"It makes sense if you think like River," Simon said wryly. "She tries to protect me. She knew I was interested even if I wasnít admitting it. Youíre the best fighter on the ship, but she left you asleep... so you wouldnít get hurt."

Jayne scratched his head. "Think Iím glad I donít think like yer sister." He sat up slightly and frowned. "You know you been bleediní all over me?" It was an exaggeration, there wasnít much blood on the sheets, but there was enough to tell him that Simonís wound had reopened sometime during the night.

Simon raised his head to peer down, and he made a faint sound of derision. "You call that bleeding all over? Iíll check it when I get up, but it doesnít look like much. Changing the dressing should take care of the problem."

"Ainít your bed youíre bleediní all over, is it?"

"Fine, tonight we can sleep in my bed." The moment the words left Simonís lips, his eyes widened, and he swallowed hard as if trying to snatch them back.

Jayneís eyebrows rose. "Not that I mind, but you ainít the quietest fella, and yer sisterís right nearby."

"As I said, I think she approves." Simon still blushed at the thought of River hearing him, especially if the night before was any indication.

"So, you sayiní sheís going to listeniní in on us?" Jayne wasnít sure if he should laugh or be worried.

Simon looked utterly horrified. "Maybe I should just bring some sheets over here," he said hastily.

"Itíd be simpler to just get to the infirmary and patch you up."

Simon stared at him, not sure if Jayne was telling him not to come back or if the mercenary was expressing concern over his well-beingóor possibly that of his sheets. "I suppose I should let you get to work," he said carefully, not that Jayne had much to do when they werenít on a planet.

Now Jayne frowned. "Werenít kickiní you out, Doc, just meant that it might be best to clean you up before we do anythiní that might mess you up again. Not like anyoneís going ta be doing anythiní strenuous today."

That sounded rather more promising. "I donít know; I can think of a few strenuous activities that Iíd be up for," Simon replied with a faint smile.

"After we get ya cleaned up."

"Yes, Mother," Simon sighed, looking around for his clothes. Spotting the pajama pants in a corner where theyíd apparently been kicked, he got up to get them, only to stop with a gasped curse the moment he put weight on his injured leg.

"Told ya," Jayne muttered, hopping out of bed and catching Simon before he fell. "Sit, Doc; tell me what to get to fix ya up, and Iíll get it."

Simon grumbled, but to himself he had to admit that staying off the leg would be for the best. And he couldnít really mind being stuck in Jayneís bed for a while, even if it was going to mean explaining this to the captain and the rest of the crew. "Just some gauze pads, disinfectant and clean bandages," he finally replied. "Oh, and if you bring some clean sheets, Iíll see about changing the bed."

Jayne shook his head as he pulled on whatever clothes he found lying around. "You just stay where you are, got it?"

Simonís eyebrows rose at the order. "When did you get promoted to captain?" he asked snarkily, old habits kicking in.

Jayne smirked. "Since I came up your ass. Sit tight, Doc; Iíll be back soon." With that, he leaned in and gave Simon a quick, hard kiss, then headed out of the cabin.

Stunned speechless, Simon stared after Jayne for long moments. "I am in deep trouble," he finally muttered.

Jayne was in the midst of raiding the infirmary for everything that looked useful when he heard a noise behind him and looked back over his shoulder. "Yeah?"

"Donít suppose youíd know why the doc wasnít in his bed this morning, would you?" Mal asked lazily, eyeing the mercenary with interest. Heíd had quite an earful from little Kaylee that morning; now it was time to see what Jayne thought about it before he decided what he should do.

"Thatíd be because he was in mine. Still is if you need to know." Jayne leaned back against one of the beds and looked the captain in the eye, his arms crossed over his chest.

"Think you know my feelings on crew romances," Mal replied. "They tend to get messy when they end, and I donít like things that affect my boat."

Jayne smirked. "You think I donít know that? Gorram, this oneíd get damn messy if it was a romance because Riveríd probably explode my head all over the deck if I hurt her big brother."

Mal frowned. "This oneíll get messy if itís not a romance, Jayne. I donít think Simon plays those games, and if you hurt him, nothing in the Ďverse will stop that little girl from cominí after you."

"I ainít the romantic kind, Mal, thought you knew that. Doesnít mean Iím gonna hurt him though."

"I know that, but did you make sure that Simon does? The boyís awful sheltered, and he may have... expectations." Mal shrugged as he turned to leave. "Donít mess up my crew."

Jayne shot off a sloppy salute, accompanied by a smirk. "Yessir, gotcha, sir. No hurtiní my Doc."

"Good," River announced from nearby, making both men turn to stare at her. She stared back at Mal. "No touching guns. She understands."

"Uh, yeah." Jayne busied himself gathering up the rest of the supplies Simon needed, not liking the idea that maybe River could look in his mind and see what heíd done to her brother.

River giggled. "Simple Simon isnít so simple." Easily sensing Jayneís increasing discomfort, she swirled into a balletic turn and danced away.

"Girlís not right in the head," Jayne muttered, knowing it wasnít her fault but unsettled by it all the same. He turned back and looked at Mal. "Got anythiní else to say about this?"

"Just keep in mind that she seems to prefer knives anyhow," Mal said calmly before heading after River.

Jayne groaned and dropped onto the exam bed, wondering what the hell heíd gotten himself into. Finally, he got up again and grabbed the supplies, heading back to his cabin and the man waiting there.

Simon looked up as Jayne came back down the ladder. "Did you have trouble finding the things?" he asked, curious as to what had taken so long.

"Yeah, you could say that." Jayne set the supplies on the bed and frowned. "Thought I told you not to change the sheets."

"And I thought I made it clear that I donít take orders. Most times," he added almost against his will.

"Donít need yer sister guttiní me Ďcause you hurt yourself here," Jayne growled. "Got what ya needed here."

"River wouldnít do that," Simon replied, and even he was aware that heíd said wouldnít, not couldnít. "Thank you. Iíll try to make sure I donít Ďbleed all overí any more of your sheets."

"Damn right; not hurtiní you, even if it wasnít meant."

That brought Simonís eyes to him, a frown creasing his forehead. "What are you talking about?"

Jayne shrugged. "Knew you was hurt last night, should have waited."

Simonís eyebrows shot up. "Did you hear me complaining?"

"Naw, heard a lot of yelliní though."

"That was pleasure, you ape!"

Jayne looked wounded. "Donít ya think I know the difference?"

"Then whyó" Simon broke off with a groan of frustration and raked his hands through his already tousled hair. "Do you want me to leave?"

"Gorramit, trying ta be nice and... ta hell with it." Jayne flung himself into the single chair and glared at Simon. "Do you want ta leave?"

About to snap back the way he always did, Simon stopped himself and took a deep breath. "No," he said simply. "I want to stay."

Jayne sat up, looking somewhat surprised, then nodded warily. "Okay. What can I do ta help with yer leg?"

Simon shrugged. "Nothing to do. It just takes time to heal. Iíll clean it again and change the bandage, and it should be fine." He flushed slightly. "I just need to try not to move it too much for a little while."

"Guess itís gonna be hand jobs fer now then," Jayne replied, smirking at Simonís flush.

"Only if you want me to hurt something else from sheer frustration!" Simon exclaimed.

"The longer it takes fer you ta heal, the longer itíll be before I can take ya on yer knees."

Simon shivered convulsively at that thought, and his eyes darkened. "Have I mentioned that I grew up rich and never learned to wait for what I wanted?"

"Have ya forgotten ya have a sister who can make my brains leak out my ears?"

"Have you forgotten that this is the same sister who kept a bounty hunter away from you so you wouldnít get hurt?"

Jayne groaned and fought the temptation to reach for Vera. "You can be a real pain in the ass at times, you know that, Doc?"

"We havenít tried that yet."

"Let yer leg get better first, then yer welcome to it."

"Actually," Simon mused, "that would be easy if you were on top."

Jayne shook his head though he didnít look all too adverse to the idea. "Got an answer for everything, donít ya?"

"Well, I am a genius, even if not in Riverís class."

"Aní Iím just a dumb-ass merc; I got it. So fix yerself up, and weíll see what we can get up to."

Simon frowned, for once not having meant to insult Jayne. He moved toward the bigger man and braced his hands on Jayneís shoulders so he could kiss him.

Jayne smiled and licked his lips when Simon pulled back. "Thatís a purty good start."

"So itís just whores you donít kiss on the mouth?" Simon asked, smiling curiously. He moved back to the bed, careful to keep his injury away from the clean sheets, and began unwinding the bandage so he could check and clean the wound before re-dressing it.

"Yeah, you could say that." Jayne leaned forward, watching Simonís movements and frowning when Simon winced as he pulled the bandage away.

"Iím glad," Simon said, flinching slightly as he probed the wound before nodding with satisfaction. "I like kissing." He cleaned his injury and began bandaging it again, reminding himself to add an extra gauze pad to absorb any seepage.

"So, you done a lot of it?" Jayne asked, grinning slightly.

"At every opportunity," Simon replied with a wide smile.

"Well then, git done so we can do some more."

Simon tied off the bandage with slight flourish. "All done." He leaned back on the bed, dark blue eyes fixed on Jayne.

Jayne stood and slowly smiled as he skinned off his shirt. "Naw, Doc, we ainít even started yet."

"Iím delighted to hear it." The low-slung sleep pants that Simon was wearing tented as he watched Jayne, and he swallowed hard before licking suddenly dry lips, his eyes fixed on the now bare chest.

Seeing the reaction, Jayne paused. "Ainít no Companion, but I can give it a go," he rumbled as he made a show of skimming out of his pants before stalking toward the bed.

"Iím not Mal," Simon said softly. "Iíd rather have someone real." And they didnít get much more real than Jayne Cobb.

Jayne roared with laughter at that. "Maybe you should mention that to him; doubt him and Inara will get around their danciní otherwise."

"I think Iíll leave the matchmaking to River. Besides, I think those two together is a recipe for disaster. Theyíd maul each other and end up hating each other." He shifted on the bed. "Donít we have better things to do than discussing Mal and Inara?"

"Like each other?" Jayne asked, dropping to the bed beside Simon and lacing his fingers together behind his head.

Simon rolled to his side, glad Jayneíd settled on the side away from his injured leg, and looked down at the strongly built mercenary. "I certainly hope so."

Jayne reached out and caught Simonís hand, pulling him closer. "So címon and show me how."

Simonís eyes widened. "Show you? I thought youíd done this before."

"íCourse I have, I was lettiní you take charge."

"Oh." Simon smiled slowly and shifted closer, half on top of Jayne, and he licked the mercenaryís lips, tracing their surprising softness.

"Yeah, thought you might like that," Jayne murmured, running a hand down Simonís back.

Shivering, Simon pressed closer, the contrast of silky lips and soft beard making him moan into the mouth that opened for him. His hands rose to clench in the short hair, and his hips rocked against Jayneís solid mass as his arousal grew.

"Mmm, nice," Jayne breathed, resisting the urge to drag Simon on top of himself. He made do with cupping a hand over Simonís ass and pulling him closer.

Simon nodded as he rolled to his back, tugging at Jayne to draw him over himself. He stared up into the blue eyes, his erection nestled between Jayneís cheeks, and he ran eager hands over the broad chest.

"So, you wanna take control here or what?"

Simon flushed, not knowing how to tell Jayne that he liked the idea of being controlled rather than being in control. Too embarrassed to say it, instead, he reached for Jayneís erection, curling his fist around it as he started to pump him.

Jayne nodded even as he arched into Simonís touch. "Guess Iím gonna be bottominí from the top."

"I canít say that Iíll mind watching you," Simon said almost breathlessly, his hand moving more rapidly on Jayneís erection.

"Not mindiní it much here either." Jayne pushed up to his knees and began working Simonís pants over his hips, taking care not to snag his bandage.

Simonís breath gusted from him as his erection was freed and he could feel the heat of Jayneís skin against him. "You feel so good," he whispered.

"Feel even better soon," Jayne promised, tossing Simonís pants aside and running his hands up Simonís legs before settling astride them again, careful to avoid putting any pressure on the wound.

Simon arched up, rubbing against Jayne, wanting to feel that bulk enclosing him him, covering him, belonging to him.

Catching Simonís chin in one hand, Jayne kissed him leisurely while he reached for the lubricant theyíd used the night before. Releasing Simon, he squeezed some of the lube into his palm and reached behind his ass, pressing two fingers inside himself.

Simon couldnít see through Jayneís body, but he could see him twist and feel the movements, and he groaned with rising passion as he imagined those thick fingers sinking into Jayneís ass, opening and slicking him for Simonís cock.

"You likiní this, Doc?" Jayne rasped, riding his own fingers before squeezing more lube onto Simonís stomach and slicking it onto the doctorís cock.

"Oh yes," Simon moaned, fingers digging into Jayneís hips as he thrust into that knowing grasp. "So good, so rutting good..."

"Get better soon," Jayne promised, holding Simonís cock steady as he pulled his fingers from his own ass and sank down on it, groaning at the fullness.

A long, harsh groan escaped Simon as he felt the tight heat surround him, something heíd rarely experienced since he usually preferred to be the one being taken, but with Jayne, he wanted everything. Despite appearances, they fit together perfectly, as if their bodies had been made for each other, everything pure pleasure. "Move," he begged, one hand releasing Jayneís waist to curl back around his hard cock, stroking it eagerly.

"You got it, Doc," Jayne sighed, raising and lowering himself on the younger manís erection and groaning with pleasure as they moved together.

Simon gasped, his body shuddering with the ecstatic sensations, and he curled his free hand around the nape of Jayneís neck to pull him down into a kiss. He absently noted that even now Jayne kept his weight off Simonís injured leg, and a feeling of warmth spread through him.

Jayne tightened his ass down around Simonís cock and gave a sigh of pleasure. "Not too bad at this, are you, Doc?"

"Must be the inspiration. I havenít done this very often," Simon confided in a burst of honesty. But at the moment he couldnít imagine why not.

"Guess Iíd better make sure ya get more practice then."

Simon opened his mouth to answer, but a particularly hard thrust had Jayne clenching around him, and the words flew from his mind. He moaned, eyes locked on the blue ones staring down at him, his hand moving rapidly on the other manís erection.

"Oh yeah, like that," Jayne rasped, his hips arching faster and faster as they rocked together, his hands stroking up Simonís chest and playing with his nipples.

Whimpering, Simon writhed under the heavier man, his leg distantly aching but the slight pain overwhelmed by the pleasure coming from every side. "So good," he panted.

"Yeah, it is, ainít it." Jayne moved harder and faster, closing his hand over Simonís and rocking into the tight grip until he came, his back bowing with pleasure.

The tight grip made Simon cry out, and he thrust upward uncontrollably, again and again, until he came as well, buried deep inside Jayne and still staring up into passion-dazed blue eyes.

Jayne shuddered, then smiled lazily down at Simon. "And you say you ainít done this much, Doc? Iím lookiní forward to see what you do with practice."

"Iíve just usually done it the other way around."

"Well, I ainít sayiní I mind that either." Jayne moved to the side to get his weight off of Simonís injured leg.

"But this was good," Simon said hastily, not wanting Jayne to think that he hadnít enjoyed it or expected Jayne to always be the top.

"Yeah, it was." Jayne yawned and grabbed for his shirt to clean them both up, then relaxed against the mattress again. "Whatíd be good now is a nap though."

Simon nodded, hesitantly rolling toward Jayne and nestling close, enjoying the feeling of being surrounded by the bigger man.

Jayne smiled, though Simon couldnít see it. "Get yer rest, Doc; I got a feeliní youíre gonna be neediní it."

Simon sighed heavily. "I hope we donít have too many nights like last night. I really donít enjoy being held hostage and shot."

"Well, I hope the endiní was a little better Ďn the beginniní."

Simon pretended to think about it. "Well, I donít know." He started to laugh at the expression on Jayneís face. "Of course it was! I stayed, didnít I?"

"Yeah, ya did." Jayne smiled again.

"I even made your bed," Simon pointed out, his smile widening. "I donít even make Riverís bed."

"Ya mean I got a maid out of the deal too?"

"Tianna! In your dreams," Simon growled.

Jayne snickered and kissed the top of Simonís head. "Weíll talk about whatís in those once your leg is better."

"Sounds like fun." As Simon tucked his head into the curve of Jayneís shoulder, he wondered if this was all some fever dream caused by being shot. Things had changed immensely in the last few hours, and he was having trouble keeping up. "This is real, isnít it?" he suddenly asked anxiously.

"Consideriní yer comeís drippiní out my ass, Iíd say so," Jayne chuckled, stroking the younger manís back to calm him. "Go to sleep, Doc; Iíll still be here when ya wake up."

"Promise?" Simon asked, suddenly sounding young and scared.

"Ya got my word."

Simon let out a sigh of contentment, and without another word, he nestled close and fell asleep again.

"Careful where yer steppiní there," Jayne called out without looking up from the gun he was cleaning. They had a delivery to make tomorrow, and he was in the process of breaking down and stripping all his weapons in preparation for it.

"Donít worry; I wouldnít dream of stepping on one of your precious guns," Simon replied, rolling his eyes as he stepped into the kitchen. "Why do you insist on doing that on the table where we eat?"

Jayne shrugged easily and looked down the barrel of the revolver, nodding to himself before beginning to oil it. "More room to spread out. Somethiní else youíd rather I was doiní here?"

The snide reply Simon had been about to make was completely forgotten as he imagined Jayne bending him over that table and taking him, neither of them caring if the rest of the crew walked in on them or not. He raised dazed blue eyes from the suddenly erotic surface to meet Jayneís knowing gaze, and he swallowed hard, involuntarily leaning toward the mercenary as if drawn.

The way Simonís pale skin flushed drew a smirk to Jayneís face, and he stroked the revolverís barrel suggestively. "Yeah, Iím likiní that idea too, but not with all my gear there; donít want you gettingí stuck with the wrong thing."

"I canít rightly think of what would be the right thing on the table," Malís voice said acerbically behind Simon, making him flush and edge toward the other exit.

Jayne burst into laughter at the comment. "Donít I always clean up?"

"Always?" Mal and Simon repeated in chorus before realizing at virtually the same instant that Jayne had to be referring to his guns since there hadnít been anyone on the ship for him to do anything else with.

"You should start cleaning now," Kaylee said cheerfully as she pushed past, not noticing the undercurrents. "Iím going to start making dinner."

Sighing, Jayne checked the revolver again and set it aside before standing. "Anyone feel like helpiní?"

"Sure," Simon replied.

"Now thatís purely creepifying," Mal announced.

"I think theyíre kinda sweet, capín," Kaylee said.

Jayne winced. "Now that is purely creepifying," he muttered.

"They have their own language," Simon muttered under his breath, only to look up guiltily when he heard Riverís silvery laugh.

"Ainít inner core, but it does us fine," Jayne answered, gathering up his weapons.

"Yes, it does," Simon agreed, picking up two and nearly staggering under their weight. His eyes widened as he stared at Jayne. "You wear all this?"

"Naw," Jayne drawled, "thereís that too." He nodded to the pile of knives on one of the benches."

Simon blinked. "How can you even stand up under all that?"

Now Jayneís expression turned to a smirk. "Wanna guess?"

Simon looked at Jayne like a starving man whoíd just seen a banquet. "It seems youíre stronger than I thought," he managed in an only slightly strangled tone, but Kaylee giggled, and River tugged at the captainís arm to draw him toward the far end of the table, away from Jayne and Simon.

"This? It ainít nuthiní," Jayne laughed. "If I was carryiní you on top of it all, it might be somethiní."

Simon shivered and tried not to whimper.

"Could you?" River asked curiously, ignoring her brotherís attempt to silence her.

Jayne smirked. "Could probably take both of you on."

Kaylee groaned and rolled her eyes. "Iím ignoring you now."

"Thatís my sister, you baboon!" Simon exclaimed, momentarily shaken out of his haze of lust.

"I meant carryiní," Jayne growled, grabbing the last of his weapons and stalking out of the galley.

"Jayne, wait!" Simon chased after him. "Please! Iím sorry, I know... well, I know, all right? Itís just instinct to protect her, and you must admit you donít think much of most women."

"So you think Iím suggestiní gettingí both of you in my bed; thanks, Doc, appreciate that."

"Iíve seen you with two women all over you, Jayne," Simon pointed out.

"You calliní yourself a woman?"

"Of course not." Simon eyed him searchingly. "But I didnít think it made a difference to you."

"So whatever I told you donít matter then?"

Simon thought frantically, trying to remember anything that sounded like they were making this exclusive, but heíd been so tired and coming down from the stress of the night, that all he really remembered was Jayne himself, and how good it had been with him and how safe heíd felt in those muscular arms, and he didnít remember anything in the days since then either.

"Guess not," Jayne said sourly, roughly grabbing the guns Simon was holding and hoisting them to his shoulders before walking away.

"Jayne, please," Simon called desperately. "It was the first time I was shot and held hostage by a bounty hunter wanting to kidnap my sister. No, parts of the other night are a blur, and I donít remember every word that was said, but I remember you, and falling asleep with you.

"Was there when you woke up, werenít I?"

"Yes, and Iím glad. But Iím fairly certain Iíd remember if weíd gotten married, which means that I donít have the right to... have expectations."

"Fine, Doc, I got it, no expectations, no concerns."

Simon slumped against a wall in frustration. "I donít understand you. I didnít think you wanted anything else!"

Jayne stopped walking and looked over his shoulder. "Ya ainít a stranger, Doc; yer crew, yer... a friend; itís already somethiní else."

"Oh." Simon stared at him helplessly. "I... Iím glad."

"Glad ta hear it."

"Then take it out of the gorram corridor!" Mal growled from the galley, tired of this already.

Jayne growled and glared at the captain. "I ainít the one who started it!"

Groaning, Simon slipped past and nearly fell down the ladder to Jayneís quarters, but somehow managed to get down without killing himself. "Do you want to hand the guns down to me?" he offered.

"Sure ya ainít gonna drop one and break yer foot?" Jayne asked before handing one down.

"I wouldnít be a doctor if I were that clumsy," Simon pointed out, carefully placing the weapon to one side.

"Doctoriní and handliní guns are two different things," Jayne observed, climbing down the ladder one handed and beginning to stow his weapons away.

"Yes, Iíve noticed that. Also that handling guns tends to lead to Ďdoctoringí." Simon sat down on the bunk and watched Jayne, absently admiring the play of his muscles under the tight t-shirt and pants.

"Without the guns, doubt any of would be here to doctor." Jayne hooked the last of the guns into the mounts on the wall, taking special care with Vera, then turned and eyed Simon speculatively. "Thought youíd be gettiní undressed by now."

"I wasnít sure if youíd want to right now." Simon stood up and removed his vest, carefully folding and laying it aside before reaching for the buttons on his shirt, blue eyes watching Jayne watch him.

Surprised, because heíd actually said that to goad the doctor on, Jayne leaned back against the cabin wall, his arms crossed over his chest. "Damn, you got a pretty mouth, Doc."

Eyes narrowing slightly at the tone rather than the words, which brought a flush to his high cheekbones, Simon dropped his shirt on top of the vest, not bothering to fold it, and crossed his arms, eyeing Jayne challengingly. He hoped Jayne hadnít noticed the betraying quiver that ran through him at the statement that instantly made him imagine having his so-called pretty mouth wrapped around Jayneís big cock.

Lowering a hand to rub his crotch, Jayne glanced down, then back at Simon, noting that he was breathing a lot faster now. "Feel like puttiní it to use?"

Simon took a single step forward and dropped to his knees. He leaned forward, rubbing his cheek against the bulge in Jayneís trousers, smiling faintly when he felt the mercenary shiver. "Love to," he murmured, showing just how experienced he was by opening the pants with his teeth.

"Damn, Doc," Jayne murmured, carding his fingers through Simonís soft, dark hair, his hips arching toward the younger manís face. "Yer full of surprises."

Simon chuckled against the now bare skin. "I told you Iíd done this before." He flicked his tongue lightly against the straining cock, barely touching Jayne and teasing himself with the briefest taste.

"Yeah, but thereís doiní, and then thereís beiní good at it." Jayne chuckled and rubbed his thumb over Simonís cheek.

"Iíve always been an overachiever." Simon turned his head slightly to catch the thumb between his lips and began to nibble and suckle on it.

"Then how Ďbout you get your lips over my cock, hmm?"

"If you insist," Simon murmured, licking the tip lightly before closing his lips just below the head and suckling strongly while his tongue lashed the sensitive flesh.

"Dayum," Jayne groaned, leaning fully against the wall and arching his hips forward as he drew Simonís head down, wanting to feel that hot mouth over the full length of his cock.

Simon moved easily, taking Jayne deeply until his nose was pressed to the dark curls at the base of the shaft, and he inhaled Jayneís scent. Humming his pleasure, he swallowed, enjoying the sensation of his throat muscles flexing against the unyielding length.

Groaning at the unbelievable sensation, Jayne thrust a little harder into Simonís mouth. "Gonna do it, ya know. One day, Iím gonna take you over that table."

Even muffled by the cock in his throat, Simonís sound of pleasure was clearly audible. He shuddered with increased arousal as he imagined it, and his hands rose to cup Jayneís ass, pulling on him, urging him to take what he wanted.

Jayne stared down at Simon for a moment, unbelieving, then grinned and tightened his hands around the younger manís head before thrusting harder, fucking Simonís talented mouth.

Simon tilted his head to the perfect angle to let Jayne move easily and opened his throat, reveling in the sensation of being taken. His own erection was throbbing, but he ignored it for the moment, wanting to concentrate on Jayne.

"Pretty mouth, gorgeous body, good in bed... May have ta keep ya." Jayne thrust harder, then pulled back. "Suck me, Doc, gonna come soon."

Eyebrows rising slightly, Simon made a mental note to remind Jayne later that he wasnít some kind of pet the big mercenary could keep if he wanted to. Sometime when they were both sated and mindless with pleasure would be good. He slid his hands over Jayneís buttocks, letting his fingertips slid into the crevice and lightly tease the opening.

Jayne groaned deep in his chest and rocked forward, spewing come into Simonís mouth and smiling dopily as the other man drank it down.

The moment the last tremor passed, Simon surged up Jayneís body, his own erection caught between them, and kissed the other man hungrily, sharing the taste of his come with him.

Turning them around, Jayne pressed Simon against the wall, then slid down his body, undoing his belt and trousers, then roughly pushing them down so that he could take the doctorís cock into his mouth as a return favor.

"Jayne!" Simonís knees gave out, and the only thing keeping him upright was his hands braced on Jayneís shoulders. "Oh God, so good, please, Jayne," he babbled, trembling against the other man.

Jayne rumbled in answer, the deep note reverberating over the sensitive skin in his mouth, and he cupped a hand around Simonís balls, rolling and tugging at them.

Already on the brink, it didnít take long for Simon to wail his pleasure and come, semen pulsing into Jayneís mouth.

Deciding what Simon had done after heíd come had been damn hot, Jayne stood and pulled Simon into a deep kiss, rubbing up against the smaller man as he did so.

Simon moaned into the kiss, tasting himself, with undertones of Jayne still in his mouth. His arms slid over Jayneís shoulders, his sensitized body shivering as Jayne rocked against him.

"Mmm, good way ta work up an appetite fer dinner," Jayne muttered, stroking his hands over Simonís bare back.

"Good point. Iím hungry enough now that even protein mush will taste good."

Jayne chuckled. "And ya even had a fancy before-dinner drink."

Simon snorted. "Should I stick a little paper umbrella on top before I start next time?"

"No!" Jayne exclaimed, shuddering at the thought. "Just yer mouth is fine."

Snickering, Simon stroked the back of Jayneís neck. "No umbrellas then. Too bad we donít have access to cherry sauce out here. I wouldnít mind licking that off you. But protein just doesnít taste the same."

Jayne shrugged. "After someía the crap Iíve eaten, itís not too damn bad; now come on, time ta go eat, then we gotta go over whatís goiní on tomorrow."

"Whatís going on tomorrow?" Simon asked, not really having paid much attention to anything that day.

"That delivery, remember?" Jayne asked, shaking his head and giving a fond smile. "Work?"

"Um, okay," Simon replied, clearly not remembering at all.

"Doc, ya gotta listen up a little closer." Jayne kissed him again before stepping back to set his clothes to rights. "Shouldnít need yer skills tomorrow so no need to worry."

Simon watched him, enjoying the sight, not moving until Jayne was fully dressed again. Then he grabbed his shirt, fortunately not too wrinkled, and slipped it on. "I think Iíll still make sure that everythingís ready. This crew has a disconcerting way of getting shot under the least likely circumstances."

Jayne chuckled as he reached out to button the silver buttons on Simonís vest. "Canít imagine why; weíre such a sociable bunch."

"Of course you are," Simon said wryly, watching Jayne dress him and finding that almost as arousing as Jayne undressing him.

"You teasiní me, Doc?" Jayne asked mildly, a slight smile quirking his lips.

"I wouldnít dream of it." Simon reminded himself that he was much too old to stick his tongue out at anybody.

Jayne snorted. "Uh huh. Now get yer gorram ass up the ladder so we can eat."

That was it. Simon stuck his tongue out, then bolted for the ladder.

"Anyone ever tell you yer a brat, Doc?" Jayne yelled, chasing Simon up the ladder and down the corridor, into the kitchen area.

"I did," River replied. "Often."

Simon grinned at Jayne. "Apparently you and my sister have something in common."

Jayneís blue eyes widened. "Iím purely terrified now."

"I do believe thatís my line," Mal drawled.

Simon snickered while River shook her head and moved to sit at the table, ending up beside the captain.

"Iím thinking I need to have a talk with the two of you later," Wash announced as he sat down at the table.

"No!" Jayne exclaimed.

"The care and feeding of a soldier?" Simon asked, eyes moving from Jayne to Zoe before he grinned at Wash. "I think Iíll figure it out on my own."

"More like how to keep them under control without getting knifed," Wash laughed, kissing Zoe when she frowned at him.

Everyone burst into laughter at the thought of Wash controlling Zoe.

"Are you feverish, husband?" she asked dryly.

"Only with love," he confessed, causing a louder round of laughter.

"As it should be." She nodded serenely, her dark eyes sparkling with mirth. "I hope all you men are taking notes."

Simon snickered. "Itís so much easier dealing with a man."

Kaylee, River, Zoe and Inara all eyed him. "Would you care to expand upon that statement, Simon?" Inara invited sweetly.

Eyes widening, Simon shook his head emphatically.

"Yeah, please do, Doc," Jayne added, taking a drink as he looked at the younger man.

Now looking hunted, Simon sank down in his seat, shaking his head.

Taking pity on her brother, River intervened. "Playing or for keeps?" she asked Jayne, watching him intently.

The mercenary raised his head, meeting Riverís dark eyes and trying not to flinch at what he saw there. "Fer keeps, little girl. Got a problem with that?"

She smiled slowly. "Smarter than you show."

Realizing what they were talking about, Simon flushed and stared at his plate, wondering when his private life became common property.

"So my headís safe fer now?"

"From me," River replied, darting a mischievous glance at Simon, who nearly choked on his water.


Mal nearly choked on his drink, and Kaylee blushed bright red as Jayne laughed uproariously and the Shepherd shook his head.

"Thatís it, Iím in hell," Simon groaned, covering his face with his hands.

River giggled. "Heaven."

"River, please!" Simon begged.

Jayne had to chuckle at that. "You sayiní it ainít?"

"Oh, please let me just die now," Simon groaned, prompting another round of laughter.

"Relax, Doc, ainít gonna happen." Shaking his head, Jayne tucked into his food, prompting the others to do the same.

Hungry, Simon started eating as well now that he wasnít the center of attention. Once his initial appetite was appeased, he glanced across the table at River. "Are you all right, mei-mei? I know I havenít been checking on you very much today."

River rolled her eyes. "Iím fine, Simon. And youíre busy."

Wash choked back a laugh, giving Jayne an innocent look when the mercenary glared at him.

"Iím starting to understand Malís point," Simon grumbled into his plate, though he placed a hand on Jayneís thigh to let him know he wasnít serious.

"Canít take the heat, Doc?" Jayne asked, cocking his head to the side and flexing his leg under Simonís hand.

Simon sighed. "I can take whatever I have to. Some things are worth the effort." He glanced from Jayne to River and back.

"Hrmm, getting serious here," Zoe murmured, glancing at Mal.

"Dial it down some there," Mal advised. "We donít want indigestion."

Simon sputtered a laugh. "Whatever you say, Captain."

Kaylee leaned over and spooned more protein mash onto Simonís plate. "Eat up, guessiní youíll need it." She gave him a melancholy smile, then started talking to Zoe.

Simon frowned slightly but realized that anything he could say would only make it worse. "Thank you," he said before taking a bite, unconsciously leaning against Jayne.

The crew spent the meal discussing possible problems with the delivery the next morning, then broke for the evening, Zoe and Book on clean up.

"So," Jayne drawled, glancing over at Simon, "got plans for the eveniní?"

"I hope so." Simon smiled faintly, moving a little closer as they walked down the hall.

"Good thing, Ďcause I do too." Jayne slid an arm round Simonís waist and led him toward the ladder down to his quarters.

Simon hovered anxiously over Washís shoulder, waiting for Mal, Zoe and Jayneís return and nearly driving the pilot to distraction. "How do you stand this every time they go out?"

Wash turned and patted Simonís shoulder. "You get used to itóand you try not to think about it too much."

Simon couldnít imagine being able to do that. Heíd been able to think of nothing else since they left. The moment the message came in that the others were on their way back, he bolted down to the cargo hold, waiting anxiously.

His eyes widened when the three came in together, two of them supporting the clearly injured third. For a moment, blinded by the sun, he couldnít tell who was who, but then he blinked and saw that Mal was limping, blood seeping through a bandanna hastily bound around his leg.

"Told you to go left," Jayne groused, glaring at Mal as he helped the captain into the bay of Serenity. "No need to worry, they ainít cominí after us."

Simon permitted himself a single touch to Jayneís arm before concentrating on Mal. "How delightful, we can have matching scars," he observed. "Letís get you to the infirmary, and Iíll get that bullet out."

"Donít worry, Mal," Jayne commented, once he and Zoe had gotten the captain to the infirmary, "weíll keep an eye on the pay."

"Never doubted it," Mal replied, leaning back on the bed. "Have Wash get us out of here, Zoe."

"Gotcha, Capín," she called, hitting the comm even as she spoke. "Take off, Wash."

"Iíll get the gear racked," Jayne announced, taking the loose guns and shouldering them.

Simon watched them, noticing, as he hadnít for some time, how well they all worked together. Each had a function and did it without a movement or moment wasted, and somehow he and River had made places for themselves in this tight-knit group. "Relax, Captain," he said, "this is going to hurt quite a bit. I can now say that from personal experience."

Mal groaned. "Why donít that make me feel any better?"

Simon grinned. "Would you prefer that I lie?" He gave Mal a local anesthetic and waited a moment for it to take effect. "Of course, you donít have someone to hover over you once weíre done here."

"You need a nurse," River announced from the doorway, the closest she would voluntary come to this room. "I could do that."

Malís eyes widened. "Thatís okay, River; Iíll be fine."

Her face fell. "Still no trust," she said sadly, turning to leave.

Simon made a sound of protest, but heíd learned not to interfere when it came to the captain.

"Whoa, whoa now, River, stay if ya want; I just thought ya might not like it," Mal said quickly.

Riverís head tilted, as if she were listening to something, and after a moment she smiled. "Iíll help you. Like Jayne does Simon."

Simonís eyes widened, and he whipped his head around to stare at her so quickly that he almost hurt himself.

Mal swallowed hard but managed a nod. "You can stay here with me, but once you get tired, head to bed."

A tiny smile curved Riverís lips as she nodded her agreement.

"Once I get the bullet out, thereís no reason for you to stay here, Captain," Simon put in. "Iím sure youíd be more comfortable in your quarters. Weíll just give you a hand getting down the ladder."

Mal started to protest, then caught sight of Riverís expression and nodded. "Yeah, you get me to my quarters, Iíll be fine."

"Iíll check on you to make sure," River said helpfully.

Mal caught Simonís gaze, his gaze pleading.

"River," Simon tried, "Iím sure the captain just needs to rest. We should let him sleep once heís back in his quarters."

Another secretive smile curled Riverís lips, but she only nodded again.

If anything, Malís smile grew even sicklier.

"There, you should be fine once you get some rest," Simon said with satisfaction once Mal was settled in his own bunk, River perched on the bottom corner. He started for the ladder, then hesitated when he noticed his sister wasnít following.

"River?" He held a hand out to her.

"You go on, Simon. Iíll be up in a minute."

Simon gave Mal a helpless look, not willing to drag River away forcibly.

"Gíwan, Simon, Iím fine," Mal said in a resigned voice.

With a last look, Simon gave up and left, not sure which of them to worry about.

River simply sat, watching Mal intently.

"So what do you want, little girl?" Mal asked, pushing his pillow behind his back so that he could watch her.

"You." For all her usual vagueness, River could be uncomfortably direct at times.

"Excuse me?"

"Not necessary," River replied kindly. "You need a little time to get used to the idea."

Mal groaned. "Must be the drugs."

River laughed, the musical sound filling the room. "They help."

"Thought you wouldnít want anything to do with them after... everything."

She eyed him oddly. "The ones Simon gives me, trying to fix that."

Mal nodded at that. "Yeah, those; sorry, River."

"Not your fault." She shrugged. "But most of the time, you see me. Simon sees who I used to be; the others only see what was done to me. You see me. I like that."

"Pretty hard not to from where I am."

She giggled. "And smarter than you pretend." She watched him curiously. "Thank you."

Still perplexed, Mal only nodded. "Welcome." He yawned and shifted, making his leg more comfortable. "Should get some rest, little girl."

She nodded before getting to her feet. She hesitated for a moment, then leaned over and brushed a kiss over his cheek. "Good night, Captain. Donít let the space bugs bite."

"Should be telling yer brother that," he murmured, feeling strangely settled after that. "And take care."

"Simon likes it when Jayne bites." And with that she was gone.

Simon leaned against Jayne, slowly relaxing as he told Jayne about the scene in the infirmary and the captainís room.

"So you think Riverís got an eye on the captain?" Jayne asked, trying not to laugh.

Simon shuddered and buried his face in Jayneís chest. "I donít want to think about it!" he almost wailed.

"Gonna have to face it, Doc, baby sisterís all grown up."

Groaning, Simon raised his head. "If he was making advances, I could do something about it, but itís her. I look at her, and I see the bright fourteen-year-old who left for the Academy. Itís hard to get past that."

Jayne nodded, trying to understand, as he drew Simon toward the bed. "That ainít her any more, Doc. No matter what you think, it ainít her."

Following where Jayne led him, Simon sighed. "Maybe if I ignore it, itíll all go away."

Jayne swallowed a chuckle and kissed Simonís forehead. "Let Mal worry about her right now, aní you can worry Ďbout me." As he spoke, he stripped Simon of his vest and shirt and began working on his pants. "But the better ideaís we both get some shut-eye."

Simon leaned wearily against Jayneís shoulder as he was undressed, enjoying being able to let go and trust someone to take care of him for a change. "I was so afraid that you were the one hurt," he murmured, raising a hand to pet Jayneís hair.

"Too tough to hurtómuch," Jayne allowed, getting Simon undressed and in bed, then stripping off himself. "Aní if ya worry too much, itíll turn yer hair grey."

"Then youíll just have to be careful, wonít you?" Simon nestled close, gravitating toward the heat and comfort of Jayneís body.

Jayne nodded, chuckling low in his chest, wrapping his arm around Simonís waist. "Guess I will; donít want ya yelliní at me Ďcause ya have ta get Inara to dye it."

"Not to mention that annoying the only doctor on the ship isnít a very smart idea." Simon rubbed his cheek against Jayneís chest.

"Guess Iíll have to keep ya happy then, wonít I?"

"I like the sound of that," Simon admitted, smiling.

"Good thing," Jayne murmured, stroking Simonís back and feeling the younger man relax against him, "ícause thatíll keep me happy too."

Simon stilled, not even breathing for a moment. Slowly he raised his head, his eyes seeking Jayneís. "Really?" he asked, knowing he sounded needy but unable to stop himself from asking.

"Said so, didnít I?"

"I... I didnít think you wanted more than this."

"This what?" Jayne asked, his eyes narrowing, wondering why they were having this conversation again.

Taking note of the expression and thinking back on their conversation the night before, Simon realized he was acting like an idiot and shrugged slightly. "Nothing. Iím tired and not making sense."

"Then Iíd say youíd better get some shut-eye; donít want ta have women nagging at me over weariní you out."

"Not over talking at least."

Jayne chuckled again. "Exactly."

Simon laughed and kissed him. "Good night."

"Night, Doc," Jayne murmured, pulling Simon back to his chest and closing his eyes.


  since 02-03-07


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