"Ouch. Sadist," Simon snapped. "Okay. Let's try it again."
"Keep your arm up, boy," Jayne said almost gently.
Mal frowned. He looked down over the cargo bay. Jayne threw a punch at the doctor, *his* doctor. Mal stormed down the stairs. Jayne was wearing his favorite green shirt and Simon was wearing a tee-shirt. While that was momentarily distracting, it was the bruises on Simon's cheek and arms that caught his attention. "What the ruttin' hell are you doin'?" he demanded.
"Doc asked me to teach him to fight." Jayne shrugged. "Figure it was a good idea."
"We'll talk about this later, Doc. Right now I'm gonna talk to Jayne." Mal jerked his head towards the main part of the ship.
"No," Simon stated. "I will not leave you to have a talk with him. Say what you have to say. Innara and Kaylee are keeping an eye on River, and I've only fifteen minutes left. I want to see if I can get this right."
"That's an order, doctor," Mal said, eyes cold. "I'll talk to you later."
Simon's fingers curled into a fist. He took a deep breath then turned. Grabbing his shirt off of the cargo as he passed it, he strode to the stairs. "Don't hurt him. Doctor's orders," the doctor sneered. Mal's eyes narrowed as he realized that Jayne was watching Simon's ass as he went up the stairs. If the younger man could have slammed the door behind him, he would have.
"What were you thinkin'?" Mal demanded.
"That the boy needs some learnin' in fighting. What's the problem?"
"And you didn't think to let me know? You seen those bruises, right?"
"Got some of my own." Jayne shrugged. "Only way to learn."
"Wrong answer, Jayne. I told you not to go near him without me. Told him the same thing. This ain't the middle of the galley. This ain't the middle of some mission. You just keep ignorin' my orders." Mal shook his head. "Don't seem to me your provin' yourself real loyal."
Jayne stared. He swallowed hard. "I ain't hurt him."
"That ain't the point. I been givin' you all sorts of chances, you just keep ignorin' them. This is the last time, don't go near the doc without talkin' to me first. Got it?"
"Yeah. I hear you." The mercenary looked at the captain for a long moment. Then, Mal turned and walked up the same path Simon had taken. Jayne watched him leave, a hard knot in the middle of his stomach. He liked Mal. He didn't want to get on his bad side. But how could he walk away from the only person on the ship that wasn't treating him like he weren't there? Zoe had almost always looked through him unless they were in a fight. She didn't trust him at all. And Wash didn't have much to do with him. He was standing in the middle of Mal's ship, praying that he'd still have his own room for awhile longer. He spun and punched the bulkhead. He'd been stupid enough to get comfortable, to get attached. He should've known that something as pretty as the doc was poisoned.
"Hey, Simon. What happened to your face, sweetie?"
Simon looked up in surprise from whatever thought had him frowning. The women took the opportunity to see him touseled. "Jayne's been teaching me to fight. I'm not the best student in the world."
Innara's eyes widened.
"Do you want me to get you an ice pack?" Kaylee asked.
"No. I'm fine. How's River?"
"Fine. She's drawing."
"No problem. I'll go get dinner started." Innara followed her and Simon smiled to himself. He was glad that someone's relationship was going well. He slumped into the chair in the infirmary. He left his shirt open, not really minding the fact that the crew would see him less than dressed. It wasn't the first time they'd seen a tee-shirt he was sure. His father would be aghast. He saw Mal at the doorway and realized he'd been staring into space.
"Unless you broke your hand beating Jayne, I'm not talking to you. Go away."
"Doc, this ain't something I can let go so lightly." He walked into the room until he was leaning against the bed. He crossed his arms. "You could've just told me."
Simon didn't respond, merely stared at the chrome on the bed that was starting to wear thin.
"I ain't mad that you got the good sense to learn fighting. I'm thinkin' you should've asked Zoe."
Simon snorted. "Zoe wouldn't get out of their bed long enough. Not when there's no emergency pending. And you won't be hard enough." Simon looked up. "It has to be real. I know the theory. I need it to be practical."
Mal reached across and lifted Simon's chin with the palm of his hand. "All you had to do was tell me." He brushed his thumb over Simon's lips. "That's why I'm mad at you."
"You're acting like a jealous schoolboy and you're mad at me?" Simon stared. "Who decided that you get to tell me who I can talk to?"
"I did. I'm the captain." Mal brushed the bruise on Simon's cheek with delicate fingers. "I don't like seein' you hurt, boy."
"I'm not a boy, Mal." Mal followed the caress with a brush of his lips. He spoke quietly into the doctor's ear.
"You're my boy, Simon. I don't like you gettin' hurt. Don't matter the cause I don't like it."
Simon tilted his head to give Mal better access to his throat since that's where his lips seemed to be heading. "I'm going to keep learning from Jayne."
"Not without a spotter you ain't." Mal straightened. He kept hold of Simon's chin. "You ain't goin' near the man without a chaperone."
"He won't do it right if you're there!" Simon argued. "He'll pull all of his punches."
"Are you poutin'?" Mal asked in surprise. "Shit. You are." He laughed. "You wanna get beat up all you gotta do is ask." He placed a kiss on the sweet lips.
"You're still in the doghouse, Captain," Simon said softly. "Better find a way out of it quick."
Mal smirked. He placed a firmer kiss on Simon's lips. He licked gently, but Simon turned away.
"And this isn't about sex, Mal. This is about loosening up on that leash you've got balled around your fist. Jayne isn't out to hurt me. And I don't like being restricted." Simon met the captain's eyes steadily, blue eyes cold as ice. Mal's eyes crinkled at the corners.
"That's better. I was wonderin' where you'd disappeared to. See you later, boy." Mal made it out of the door before Simon could respond.
Simon washed his face. He stared at his reflection. It was finally impossible to see the last traces of the bruise on his cheek. "You know, it did actually bruise pretty badly. I didn't think he hit me that hard," he commented to River.
"Matched set. Black and blue."
"Not blue and brown?"
"Not yet. Black and blue will make good bookends."
"Don't start with that again."
"It's really very simple. Just a two-way coupling. Like fixing an engine. Then, Serenity will run right."
"Talk to Kaylee about that."
"But Kaylee's running right."
Simon looked at his sister as he finished buttoning his vest. "Dinner?"
River just smiled and took his arm. They walked to the kitchen. There was no one else there. They took their dinners privately now. It was just easier on everyone if they didn't have to be thinking about what could snap. And Simon was still not talking to Mal. It became more and more obvious that there was something strained between them.
Simon looked up in surprise. "H-hello."
Wash sat down across from him. "Hi. I missed dinner. I figured I'd eat with you two tonight."
"Zoe's mad at you," Simon guessed.
Wash blushed. "Yeah. Anyway. What's to eat?"
"Protein," Simon said with raised brows. "I'm not a good cook."
"I've noticed. But thanks." Simon handed over a bowl. "So, what's between you and Mal?"
"He's mad. I'm mad. We'll work it out eventually."
"It'd help if you two would, oh, I don't know, say two words to each other."
Simon shook his head. "It'll help if he gets off of his power-trip."
Wash laughed. "Let me give you a hint, just because I'm boffing the only person on the ship who's known the man for awhile. Mal's a psycho."
"I know. But even psychopaths have to have rules."
"He won't give in. Better if you just apologize."
Simon's lips tightened. Wash's brows shot up. "He's in the wrong."
"He's Mal. He's never going to admit to that."
River looked at Simon for a long moment. "You'd look pretty praying."
"Don't start with that!" Simon begged. Wash leaned forward.
"So, are we all reading this wrong? Are you having a hot, passionate affair with the preacher?"
"Oh, shut it. Or I'll cook more often."
"I'm quiet. See me being quiet?"
"Not yet. What's the matter, River?" She pointed at the bowl. "I can't help it. Just eat it. It's good for you."
"So you cook on the same principles as making medicine? Sure the cure won't kill someone?"
"I'm eating it too, you know."
"Give me your bowl. You too, River. I'll spice it up a bit."
"Thank you," River said. Wash smiled at her.
"You deserve a medal for putting up with his cooking."
Simon leaned against the wall outside Jayne's bunk. He sighed. "Jayne, don't shut me out."
"I ain't gettin' in trouble with Mal. And talkin' to you is high on that list." Jayne closed his door. Simon slid down the wall to sit on the floor. He pulled his knees up to his chest.
"I'm sorry," he said softly. He forced himself to his feet. He went up to the bridge. He wasn't expecting to find Mal there. He stopped in the doorway. He looked out at the stars.
"Come on, doc. Have a seat."
Simon moved slowly and settled down in the chair across the room. He looked out at the endless stars. "Why are you pushing me?"
"I gotta know. You're gettin' close but you ain't there yet."
"How much your gonna take. You ain't buyin' your way on this ship with sex."
"No, my sister's," Simon drawled.
Mal laughed. "Not that either and you know it. You never wanna come in my bed again, I ain't gonna throw you out."
Simon shook his head. "You'll just give me puppy-dog eyes and I'll feel horrible about disappointing you."
"Look at me, doc. You ain't done that in almost two weeks. Even Kaylee don't hold a mad that long."
"I'm not Kaylee."
"That you ain't."
"Are you ogling me?"
"You ain't gonna know if you don't look."
Simon shook his head. He turned to look at the captain. Mal was exactly as he'd imagined him, grinning and ogling. Simon rolled his eyes. "I don't understand what she sees when she looks out there."
"She sees freedom, doc. She sees possibility. What do you see?"
"Emptiness. Endlessness." Simon's voice dropped. "Death."
Mal crossed the short distance between them. "I know this ain't easy for you, Doc, but you gotta trust that I know what I'm doin'."
"I hate not having choices. Lately, that's all there's been in my life. A series of accidents, fate and desperation. There's nothing left to give."
"Do you know how many times I've been betrayed?" Simon stood. He had to look up to meet Mal's eyes, but he refused to back down from this challenge.
"Do you know how hard it is for me to sit back and watch you hurtin' for no good reason?"
"Do you understand that I'm not a toy?"
Mal shook his head. He traced Simon's jaw with the back of his fingers. Simon scowled.
"You're not listening to me."
"Nope. All I want to hear is, 'I'm sorry Mal. I'll follow orders.'"
"Not tonight." Simon moved past the larger man.
"Soon enough, I reckon. You know where my cabin is."
"You've got a perfectly good hand. I suggest you reacquaint yourself with it."
Mal's chuckle followed the fuming doctor down the hall.
Simon collapsed onto the couch in front of the infirmary. River was doing well. Mal's ear was reattached. The bullets were out of Zoe and Jayne. He shook his head. And he'd thought that he'd have to leave emergency medicine behind. He bit into the apple Jayne had tossed to him on his way through the kitchen. It was crisp and sweet. His eyes drooped as he appreciated the treat. Footsteps approached. "Stop fiddling with it," he said, not looking up.
"Maybe I ain't fiddlin'," Mal protested.
"Keep it up and I'm going to bandage it until it's healed."
Mal sat down gingerly, cradling his stomach. "You still pissed?"
Simon shook his head. He offered Mal a bit of apple. "Live a little. If it were going to blow up it already would have."
Mal rolled his eyes, but took a bite of the offered fruit as Simon held it. He chewed it. They sat in companionable silence. "So, if you ain't pissed at me. . ."
"Well, since you seem to be treating Jayne like a human being again, I suppose that in the interest of your recovery, I could be urged to give you a private examination. Just to make sure your taking things slowly. You died there, didn't you? I saw the marks on your chest."
"He wanted to keep you alive to torture you."
"His torturer did a piss-poor job of it. That thing they stuck on you should have come off before it killed you."
Mal's eyebrows rose. "Oh?"
"But then, you might not be sitting here, so I'm not complaining."
"You reckon you could do better?"
"I may not be able to shoot straight, but if I had the right motivation? Maybe."
"So, if I catch you a purple-belly that worked at that academy?"
"Catch two so I can kill one and torture the other."
"Knew I liked you for some reason."
"Well, River might want to take out her aggressions on one of them, and I need the other one alive for the information."
Mal stroked the longer hair at the back of Simon's neck. Simon bit into the apple then offered Mal another mouthful. He shifted closer to bring the fruit to his lover's lips. Mal's arm slipped around his shoulders and curled him closer. They finished off the apple, down to the seeds. Simon added the seeds to the little collection he had in a bag in his pocket. "What's that for?"
"Yeah. I'm gonna extract it. Thought it might come in handy." Simon shrugged.
"Sometimes you frighten me, Doc."
"Can't have that." Simon kissed the captain gently. "We've got to still work on that leash."
"Gettin' as bad as Wash."
"I'm not that silly. I'm not going to demand to be taken on missions. Zoe's cut out for it. I'm not."
"I don't know. Maybe if'n I can teach you to shoot straight." Mal grinned. He pulled the doctor close for another soft kiss.
"I need to work on that too. Come on. Let me tuck you in." Simon smiled. He used the excuse of Mal's injuries to curl close against his side. Mal leaned a little more than he wanted to admit against Simon's shoulder. Kaylee giggled a little bit when she saw them in the hall like that.
"Need a hand gettin' him into his bunk, doc?"
"No, I think I can manage him. Thanks." Simon nodded in Kaylee's direction. She slid down the ladder into her bunk and shook her head. They were just too cute pussy-footing around one another during the day.
Mal went down the ladder. "You comin'?"
"I did say I was going to tuck you in." Simon climbed down carefully. Mal was pulling down his suspenders. "Did I say you could do that? I'm taking care of you tonight." The captain blinked. Simon crossed to where he was standing. He opened Mal's shirt carefully, kissing each bit of exposed skin. He pulled the soft cotton out of the waistband of the tight pants. He slid the suspenders down Mal's arms. The shirt followed them. He licked the exposed soft skin, carefully avoiding every bruise and cut. He unfastened Mal's pants. Then, with a slight push he maneuvered the man to his bed and sat him on the edge of it. Simon went to his knees. He stroked up Mal's legs gently and back down to deal with his boots. He removed them carefully and set the knives inside each one as he removed the sheathes.
Mal licked his lips as he watched Simon's intent work. The gentle fingers probed the muscles of his feet, finding the sore spots. At the captain's groan Simon looked up. He smiled and continued to ease the tension he could feel there. Then, his fingers slid up the strong calves to the taut thighs. He placed a gentle kiss on Mal's naval. "Up," he ordered and pulled off the familiar tan pants. He set them to the side. Mal's cock was stiffening rapidly. Simon smiled and it sprung to full attention. The doctor kissed each knee, then worked slowly up Mal's thighs with licks and nips mixed with kisses. Mal's hand settled on the soft black hair. He buried his fingers in it. He tugged towards his cock, but Simon scowled up at him. "No." Mal sighed. "Just relax, Mal." The captain felt a surge of heat through his system as the name trembled against his eardrums. He didn't hear it often enough from the doctor's lips to make his reaction lessen. He groaned.
"Maybe I should just talk to you," Simon said with a smile. He licked the tip of Mal's cock. Mal stiffened and cursed as he blew across the wetness.
"Less talkin' and more action'd be appreciated."
"Then be good and relax. I'll take good care of you."
"Didn't lock the door."
"Nope. Shut up, Mal."
Mal gaped at the doctor. Then, there was a light lap along his cock and he couldn't think of anything more to say. Simon carefully covered Mal's cock with soft licks. Then, without warning he took the head of it into his mouth. The warm, moist heat made Mal moan. He'd missed this so much that he couldn't believe he'd offered to end it all. He should have apologized weeks ago. His hand had nothing on this sweet, soft heat that was trying to swallow him whole. His eyes closed in appreciation.
Simon sucked firmly on the tip for a second as Mal swayed above him. His own cock was beginning to press against the front of his pant. He shifted and braced himself against Mal's hips. He pulled back, then took his lover's cock as deeply as he could. Mal yelped in surprise. His groan built from somewhere deep in his chest. His fingers tightened on the back of Simon's neck. Simon ran his tongue along the underside of Mal's cock. The cock bucked under the treatment and he could feel it swell. The salty-tangy flavor of Mal's precum dripped against the back of Simon's throat. Simon varied his suction, knowing almost instinctively how to keep Mal on edge. His own cock strained against his pants and he had to adjust it. He had plans that he wasn't going to put aside just for pleasure.
"Please, your killin' me, doc." Mal started babbling in a mixture of Chinese and English. When he stopped making sense, Simon finally let him come. He swallowed quickly. He lapped at the softening cock, cleaning it. Mal stroked his doctor's hair as his eyes started to focus again. "You are too ruttin' good at that, boy." Mal's eyes focused on the hardness that he could see tenting Simon's pants. "Lemme help you out there, Simon."
Simon shook his head. "Not yet. Lay back, captain."
Mal raised his brows. Simon pressed a finger to Mal's lips. He was smiling with all the cheerful menace of a cat with its favorite toy. Mal felt his own lips curling up to mirror the smile as he carefully maneuvered himself to lay back on the bed. Simon took his time carefully exploring the contours of Mal's face with his lips and tongue. He kissed the much abused ear gently. "You keep tellin' me not the play with it."
"Hush." Simon kissed Mal carefully. "You want me to trust you, you have to trust me," Simon purred.
"So do you?"
"Trust you? Maybe." Simon straddled Mal's hips. He carefully removed his blue shirt. The captain licked his lips.
"Doctors shouldn't look so damn good."
"Be quiet, captain. I don't need any distractions." Simon arched back to relieve the stress there with the added benefit of giving Mal a show. The light shifted over his pale skin, leaving shadows in the curve of his stomach and the hollow of his clavicle. He smiled. He leaned down and kissed his lover gently. He brushed gently against Mal's cock and it stirred at the attention. He leaned back, carefully opening his pants.
"Where you headin' with this, Simon?" Mal asked, voice growing hoarse as he saw the younger man's cock rising free of its restriction.
"You'll enjoy it," the doctor purred. "Trust me."
"Think trustin' you might just kill me."
"But what a way to go." Simon removed his pants, then once again straddled the captain. He studied the bruises with a clinical eye. "I think you'll live for a little longer." He leaned down to nip at one exposed nub. Mal's fingers slid up Simon's arms to settle on his shoulders. Simon's eyes half-closed as he cataloged the flavors that were Mal's alone.
"Tell me you've got some ruttin' lube," Mal growled.
Simon shook his head. "You do. In the drawer."
"You been sneakin' into my bunk lately?" Mal said handing it over.
"Well, I did have some time on my hands. And it's not like someone on this ship doesn't know. I made sure it was up to date. Just in case you ever got over your perennial hard-on for hurting Jayne."
"Who says I have?" Mal demanded.
"You're starting to treat him like the mercenary freak that he is." Simon shrugged. "He really is loyal to you. It's been killing him to have you pissed at him."
"He needs his lessons drummed in."
"Not this hard." Simon focussed his attention and Mal's cock bobbed up.
"Damn it, boy. This ain't the time to be talkin' about this."
"Ain't it?" Simon mimicked Mal's accent lightly. "I reckon this is the perfect time. I've finally got all of your attention." The doctor smiled. He kissed Mal's nose. He rubbed himself against his lover's cock and it went fully erect. Mal moaned.
Simon ignored him and set to work lapping up the trails of sweat on Mal's stomach. Mal's fingers clenched against Simon's upper arms. He pulled at the younger man urgently, trying to get him close enough for a kiss. Simon caught Mal's wrists and pushed his hands back. He gave Mal his best "disappointed" look that he'd copied from his father. Mal's head fell back.
"Just hurry it up, Simon. I'm dyin'."
"Sh. I'm trying to concentrate." Simon hid his smile by leaning back down to slick Mal's cock with careful fingers. Mal's hips rose after the sensation. "Calmly now, captain."
"Ruttin' hell, doc, you've got the patience of a gorram saint! What do you want from me?"
"I want Jayne," Simon whispered. Then, as Mal stared in shock, Simon slowly lowered himself on Mal's cock. His eyes closed as he adjusted to the familiar and missed fullness.
"What?" Mal asked, trying to think despite the tight heat around that closed around his cock.
"I want Jayne. And you're going to get him for me. For us. Aren't you?" Simon asked as he started to move in tiny, torturously small movements. Mal swallowed hard.
"Shit," he breathed. His hips started moving to meet the doctor's rhythm. "Jayne ain't fit for the likes of you."
"Let me be the judge of that. I want Jayne."
"Brat," Mal growled. His hips moved without his control. His hands settled on Simon's hips. "You sure what you want? Man ain't good for much."
"I want him. I want to fuck him. And I want to be able to talk to him without you acting like he just touched your favorite toy."
"You are my favorite. Now, you either move or Iím gonna flip you and fuck you 'til you can't sit for a week."
"Just agree." Simon's smile was lethargic. "You feel so good. I can hardly imagine what it'll be like being trapped between the two of you." He lifted himself almost completely up and off of Mal's cock then dropped back down.
"You win," Mal groaned. "You can have him. I'll even get him here for you." Simon nodded and started moving at the pace he'd wanted to be moving at since he'd started this little scene. Mal's moan was half relief, half pleasure. He flipped Simon onto his back and started driving into him. Simon didn't resist, arching his head back to let Mal feast on the sight. Mal grinned in satisfaction as he drove in and out, enjoying the heat. Simon came hard and Mal continued to thrust as the doctor's body clenched around him. He slammed in deep and stayed there, riding out his own orgasm.
Mal lay sprawled over Simon's body, head nestled close to Simon's shoulder. He slowly slipped free of the younger man's body. "Jayne?" he whined.
"Yes. You tell him he can talk to me first. We'll work from there. It won't be hard. He adores you."
Mal shook his head. "Boy don't know his place."
"Then we'll teach him."
"Psycho," Mal teased then placed a gentle kiss right below Simon's ear.
"Yeah. But happy."
"Like you bein' shiny. Like you mussed too." Mal tangled his fingers in the soft black hair. "You're mine. Remember that. I don't care what you do with Jayne. You're still mine." Simon nodded, cheek sliding against Mal's.
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