|It's been a few days since Simon started administering the
to River, and he's not entirely sure it's working. River seems
sometimes she's a little more lucid, and at least she hasn't assaulted
anyone again, but he wishes he could have another chance to scan
It would be useful to chart any changes over time.
He turns around, vaguely annoyed at the interruption of his thoughts. "Captain. What can I do for you?"
Mal looks strangely uncomfortable for a moment, but it passes so quickly Simon isn't sure he actually saw it. "How's your sister?"
"It's hard to tell. I think the therapy I've devised may take a while to show any really noticeable effects. She doesn't seem to be getting any worse at least, and considering her rapid deterioration in the last few weeks, I take that as a good sign." He shrugs, a little helplessly. "On the other hand, it could be that she's just entered a calmer stage. She's done that before."
"Well, I appreciate your honesty."
"I've never been anything but honest with you."
"Yep." The captain seems to hesitate.
"Is there something else? If not, I have some things I need to take care of." He needs to write all his observations down before he starts to forget. Maybe having things on paper will help him to see patterns.
The captain gestures at the infirmary. "Maybe we can talk in there?" Without waiting for an answer, he walks into the room, leans against the diagnostic bed, and starts to talk. "I can't help but notice you and Jayne've been spending a lot of time together lately."
"It's hardly what I'd call a lot of time together," he replied. They have been behaving more civilly with each other, even bordering on being friendly, in a large part to Simon's own overtures. It's hard to admit, but he feels some dismay at how quickly he judged Jayne, how easily he'd decided he knew everything there was to the man. The past few days have been interesting if strange, Jayne awkwardly spending time with him, oddly kind at bizarre moments, at least what passes for kind in the man.
"Well, you've been more neighbourly, anyway."
Nodding in confirmation, Simon responds, "Sure, I guess you could say that."
Crossing his arms in front of him, Mal frowns. "Doctor, you know I don't care what my crew do on their personal time - unless it messes with our runs - but I gotta tell you be careful not to be thinkin' Jayne is somethin' he ain't."
"What do you mean?"
"I know you're feelin' some gratitude towards him right now. And maybe rightly so --" There's doubt in his voice, something that Simon doesn't quite understand.
"I'm not sure why you would even doubt that River and I are in debt to him. Without his actions, we never would have gotten out of there." As he speaks, he's not quite looking at the captain, instead focussed on his memory of the way Jayne would just not let go of the Alliance soldier -- the way he'd just crushed the man's jaw, determined to get them all out.
"Maybe. But just don't let him get you into something you don't want to be in."
This is rather ridiculous. Mal has a tendency to alternately barely tolerate him and be protective in a way that suggests Mal thinks he is incapable of making adult decisions. Simon had thought perhaps his plan to get River into the diagnostic centre and steal medical supplies might have given him a little more credit, but it doesn't look like it did.
"While I appreciate your concern, I'm quite capable of handling Jayne on my own. And perhaps, in another life, he's not the kind of person I might otherwise have chosen to spend my time with, but I am no longer currently living that life. It's time I started to adjust to that, and if it means spending a little time with someone who saved me, then that's what I'll do." He's beginning to feel tired and annoyed with this conversation.
Impatiently, Mal pushes himself away from the bed, and walks to the doorway. "Again, I'll say maybe so, but consider this: if you're really so hard up to be looking to Jayne for, ah, companionship, open your eyes. You got other offers that you don't seem to be payin' much attention to. Offers that might be better in the long run than Jayne." With that, he walks out of the room.
Companionship? It takes a moment, but Simon catches the allusion. It isn't like the captain to so disguise his meaning. Mal thinks he and Jayne are sleeping together. And wait -- other offers?
Sticking his head around the door, he yells at Mal's back, "Did you just make a pass at me, Captain? If you're offering yourself up as a sacrifice to save me from the big, bad Jayne, don't bother! "
Without turning around, the captain responds, "I was thinkin' about Kaylee. Don't know why, but she's set her eye on you." His voice is uncharacteristically quiet and the words are clipped.
Kaylee. Oh. Well, that's hardly news. He can't help but feel a little embarrassed at jumping to the conclusion that Mal was offering himself. It was foolish, and the captain's quiet rebuke was just another chip away at the remaining vestiges of Simon's dignity.
Later, while doing an inventory of their medical supplies and integrating the items he insisted they keep from the job, his thoughts go back to the conversation.
It's not that he hasn't considered bedding Jayne. The thought just never would have occurred to him until recently, partly at least because he figured he'd be asking for trouble raising the subject of sex to Jayne. Or even talking to him on a non-business basis.
Lately though, Simon has sensed the hunger coming from Jayne. It isn't what Simon is used to. His idea of sex has always been surrounded by a veneer of finesse and decorum, something he took for granted until so recently. He's used to structured, skilled courtships, never long, rarely elaborate, but following a predictable pattern and loaded with certain expectations. He remembers quiet conversation in warm surroundings; soft, elegant fingers; and educated laughter at subtle jokes.
He misses those days, the experiences, and the sweet smiles of his sister as he told her about the dates - not the details, but the feelings, the hopes.
It's nothing like he'll find on Serenity. Perhaps his best option would be Inara, but she doesn't work for the crew, and the captain would probably kill him. Besides, he likes Inara, he doesn't want to drag her into the shambles that is his life.
Jayne's attention it isn't quite enough for Simon to want to do something about it, but the idea is entertaining and something to think about. He's getting to the doing -something-about-it stage, he can tell. Perhaps Jayne will make the first move, and Simon won't have to make a decision about how to approach the issue. There's something attractive to the thought of going with the flow, letting another make the decision. He's often too consumed with thinking about River to try and figure out what he wants to do for himself.
Jayne isn't all that bad to look at, and Simon's not ashamed that he's spent time wondering what it might be like with the mercenary. He isn't foolish enough to imagine there'd be romance, but that's not really what he's looking for anyway. He has wondered if Jayne kisses, what it might be like to touch those well-defined muscles in something other than a professional capacity. He has yet to see Jayne fully naked, but Simon's thought about it, and what he's imagined is pretty damn impressive.
He is so distracted with these thoughts that at first he doesn't think about the other things the captain had said. After a while though, the pieces fall into place, and he feels sick, nauseated that it has taken this long for him to realise the truth. There's even some resentment that the captain was incapable of coming out and telling him everything. He leaves the infirmary, his mouth grim, heart oddly aching, and goes in search of Jayne.
He hopes what he suspects isn't true, but really, he knows better than that.
"Jayne? Am I interrupting anything important?" Simon stands awkwardly at the door to the kitchen, where Jayne is sprawled and passing the time, itching for something real to do.
Shrugging, Jayne sets aside the gun he'd halfheartedly been inspecting for rust. He doesn't have no fancy Alliance crap, and the metal tends to show signs of stress more easily than the high-tech stuff. "Nah. What? I ain't real interested in playin' that game right now." Truth be told, the game was kind of dull, too much thinking, not enough action.
Hands in his pockets, Simon enters the room, staying just inside the door. "I had an interesting conversation with the captain a few hours ago."
Inwardly, Jayne groans. Here it comes, and he's kind of surprised at how long Mal had kept the secret to himself. He figures it would be best to just come out and say it himself first. "I wondered how long it'd take. Look, I got no excuse, 'cept maybe --"
Simon cuts him off with an upraised hand. "Please let me finish."
Damn doctor, always has to have his say.
"The captain expressed concern at the time you and I have spending with each other, not that I would consider it excessive. I would have thought he'd be pleased that we were no longer antagonising each other as often. It seems to me a crew that is civil and can tolerate each other is more efficient. So, it struck me as a bit strange that he would be warning me away from you, and suggesting that you're not who I think you are."
Simon is talking a mite slowly, almost like he's thinking out loud. It's just typical that the doctor would take so long to come out and get to the point. Jayne never understood the point of pussy-footing around the issue.
After a short pause, Simon continues, speaking a little more directly at Jayne, "I think you know that I appreciate what you did back on Ariel, and your actions made me reconsider what I thought of you. I'm not saying I've idealised you, although I'm embarrassed to admit that I was somewhat fawning at first. I suppose I'm not used to others acting quite so violently on behalf of River and me. We were the only ones ever truly looking out for each other long before we boarded Serenity." He looks away, eyes roaming the small room as he spoke. "I can't say that I know you well Jayne, but I've seen what you're capable of doing, bad and good. And it occurred to me that the captain wouldn't be saying these things if he didn't have a reason."
Jayne can feel a headache coming on. "Maybe."
Simon meets his gaze steadily, his face blank. "I didn't think about it at the time, the combination of the change in plan and the surprise by the Alliance soldiers. I was too busy trying to figure out what went wrong, and then realising I had no chance of getting River out of the situation. After, I was so awed by what you did, and so shell shocked over the killing, the screams of whatever our pursuers did to the soldiers, and our escape, that things didn't begin to fall into place. Maybe they never would have if the captain hadn't warned me off."
Gorram captain. Jayne shrugs off the thought and concentrates on the man in front of him. He'd never seen the doctor so still, so focussed. It's eerie.
Moving closer to where Jayne is sitting, Simon keeps talking. "I guess you're probably thinking I'm taking too long to get to the point. You're the kind of person who doesn't seem to like a lot of chatter."
There is something about the way Simon is looking at him that makes Jayne suddenly glad most of his weapons are out of sight, and that Simon ain't too close to the kitchen knives. He keeps a close eye on the gun next to him.
"You sold us out to the Alliance, didn't you?" The question is asked quietly, calmly, not the way Jayne had imagined things would go when Simon found out. He'd thought it would be yells, whining about hurt feelings and betrayal, maybe even some futile threats, not this kind of quiet dignity that Simon's projecting.
Looking away, he nods. "Yep." He waits for the man to leave, but when he turns his face back, Simon is still standing in front of him, just staring.
"I don't suppose you'd planned on telling me."
He'd thought about it, but never seriously. "Nope." He hesitates, then offers, "I had a reckonin' with the captain."
Simon seems to ignore the last statement. "It must have been very frustrating when you realised the Alliance had sold you out as well."
What the hell is going on? He hadn't expected Simon to stick around, conversing after.
"I imagine it's kind of how I felt when the captain left River and me that once. You have no idea what it was like to watch the ship leave atmosphere, while we were surrounded by a group of barely literate, gun-toting villagers." Simon's voice is still soft.
Jayne wants out of the room, now. The doctor's flat expression and voice are downright creepy. It's almost like he was fixing to have a fit like his sister. Jayne can handle yelling and threats, but he ain't used to this kind of confrontation.
"It must have felt wonderful the last few days, having me following you around, so grateful and hero-worshipping. I can't imagine you've had much of a taste of that, given the way you reacted to the mudders' treatment of you. That must have been great, all those women throwing themselves at you." His voice takes on a sharper edge, "How did it feel to have that boy die for you? Pretty good, I'm guessing."
The women had been nice, but he'd felt like crap about the boy.
"It was pretty damn hard to miss the looks he'd been giving you." Simon's eyes narrow a little. "I'm wondering - did you fuck him too?"
"Don't see that's any of your business."
Simon crouches down in front of him. "Maybe not, but the captain said something else that got me thinking. Truthfully, I'd been wondering about it the last few days myself." He smiles up at Jayne, but his eyes are hard. "Do you think about me? Maybe down on my knees in front of you," he gestures at his position, "kind of like this, trying to show you how much gratitude I feel? Or maybe you imagine fucking me into your bunk, with me screaming how wonderful you were, how amazing, how brave."
"No." He's pleased at how steady his voice is. He's never heard the doctor speak like this, use these kinds of words. Simon's voice is low and grating. His expression is cold. Jayne shifts uncomfortably, dismally aware that he'd dangerously close to becoming aroused. It ain't the time for it, he doesn't want Simon to see what he's doing.
Simon licks his lips, and Jayne can't help tracking the motion. "Really? I'm surprised to hear that, given the looks you've been sending my way lately. I'm not stupid, Jayne." His tone becomes bitter, almost like he's mocking himself. "It might take me a while, I might be a little too trusting - you'd think I would have learned by now -, but I'm not an idiot." He pushes himself upright, once more looking down at Jayne.
Simon's in control in a way Jayne has hardly ever seen. His memory flashes back to the hospital and the way Simon just shoved aside the other doctor, put him in his place, and saved the old man's life. Jayne should have known Simon could be vicious when he needed to be.
The cold smile comes back. "It's funny really, because I probably wouldn't have said no if you'd told me what you wanted. You've got some appeal, even for a dumb bottom-feeder. The last few days, I've even found myself looking forward to our time together. The crew is accepting, they tolerate River's actions and my own behaviour, but pretty much it's just tolerance, except perhaps with Kaylee. It's been kind of nice to maybe have a friend again, such as it was."
Ah shit. Jayne closes his eyes briefly, slumping deeper into his chair. "What're you gonna do?"
"There's nothing I can do. You're still here, so the captain obviously still wants you around, maybe even more than he wants me on board. Definitely more than he wants River. I just wanted to let you know that I know the truth."
"I won't do it again." The words slip out before he can think about them. It's the story of his life. "I just got greedy, didn't think things through." It's an echo of his talk with Mal, another time he couldn't keep his mouth shut.
Simon shrugs, looking almost sad. "Maybe you believe that now, but I don't." He wraps his arms around himself, the first time since the talk began that he's looked less in control, more vulnerable.
It's suddenly important that Simon believe him. "I won't. Mal already said he'd space my ass if it happened again, and I said I wouldn't." He pauses, finding it difficult to meet Simon's eyes. "'Sides, I ain't never thought about what they might do to you when they got you back. I don't much care for your sister," unconsciously he fingers his shirt over the scar of the knife wound, "an' you're a pain in the ass in your own way, though you ain't half bad," Simon almost-smiles, a bitter, hurtful, expression, "but them screams we heard...that ain't normal. That ain't about keepin' to the laws or payin' the price. I don't know what they were doin', but it ain't natural and it ain't right."
Simon stares at him a for a few more minutes, his face still twisted and tight. Finally, he speaks, "No. No it isn't. And you can bet that it wouldn't be over as quickly for River or me as it was for the men we heard." Turning, he starts towards the door, stopping half-way there. "I still appreciate what you did after. It still would have been easier for you to cut and run."
Shit, that's worse than he'd expected. The fawning had been hard enough when Simon didn't know the truth. It was even worse hearing the thanks now. He feels lower than dirt, lower than some mudder's pond. He keeps his mouth tightly shut, unsure what else might slip out.
Half-turning back towards him, Simon briefly offers him another cold smile. "It could have been interesting, Jayne. We might have had some fun."
Something in that smile makes him think maybe there's some way he can still get what he wants from the doctor. "Might could still." Can't hurt to ask. Maybe Simon doesn't like him too much, but...
"No." Simon's tone of voice is final, maybe a little regretful. He doesn't look back as he walks out the door.
He closes his eyes and sinks into the chair, hard wood digging into his neck. It doesn't help the headache that has stolen up on him, pounding behind his eyes. It's one of the gorram headaches he gets sometimes, distracting, painful and frustrating. He'd said something about'em to Simon, not long after Mal finally let him out of the airlock. He'd been exhausted, hungry and his head had been on fire. Simon had seen him frowning, had asked what was wrong.
He hadn't been able to tell the whole story, but he'd said his head hurt, and Simon had abruptly started apologising for not thinking to check over his injuries. Going into doctor-mode, he'd checked out Jayne's eyes, asked questions about the kind of pain and how often Jayne got it. Then he'd gone on about a concussion maybe, but that patterns of this kind of pain meant some kind of -- Jayne didn't know. He hadn't really listened, wouldn't have understood the words anyway, just nodded carefully when Simon said to come by whenever his head hurt. There was some kind of shot he could give, something that would make the bright patterns behind his eyes fade, and the pain stop.He's pretty sure he ain't going to be asking the doctor for help any time soon.
Series: A follow-up to Big Damn Hero
Spoilers: Up to and including Ariel
Disclaimers: Not my characters, not my show
Summary: Simon might be a bit slow on the uptake, but he's not stupid.
Notes: I wanted to make this smutty, but it didn't
Damn. Big thanks to Squeaky for the beta read and for calling me