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First times second chances

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First times, second chances
by Annuette

Part 1

Simon's never really believed the name Serenity held a quiet calmness about it, he's held it more akin to the longer lasting peace. Can even remember telling Inara he believed it had a funereal quality about it. Now, at this moment, the name is even less appropriate as River's screams rend the air. Battling some kind of inner demon that Simon can't understand much less imagine, the doctor is attempting to restrain her-to hold her down while he administers the tranquilizers.

She's having a bad one tonight and at the moment Simon wishes for help; Mal, Zoe, even Jayne- he's not picky. But no one comes, and Simon's left holding his thrashing sister to her bunk as he uses his teeth to pull off the needle cover. River sees his action and uses it to respond with her own; her head jerks and blunt teeth sink viciously into his arm.

"Ta ma de!"

The words come easily from his lips as Simon stabs the needle into the side of her arm, depressing the plunger. Her teeth are still embedded in his arm, still holding on for dear life as Simon pulls the needle out. As she bites harder, grinding her teeth, her eyes staring at him accusingly, Simon clenches his own teeth to hold off the curses that threaten to come. It only takes 30 seconds for the drug to kick in, for Simon to feel the smooth release of River's rigid jaw. Only thirty seconds before he can ease her mouth open, sliding her teeth from his flesh but for Simon it's a lifetime; a lifetime in which his eyes are still locked to hers, watching as they become more tranquil and knowing that this false relief is all he can give her right now.

River slumps against her bunk, all the fight gone out of her as the drugs kick in. She isn't sleepy yet, just extremely relaxed; her eyes watch him as he holds his arm up to the light to view the perfect set of teeth marks, blood spots form where the teeth broke the skin and purple bruising is already encircling each indent. It won't be long before Simon has a perfect ringed bruise on his arm, yet another wound to add to those his troubled sister leaves - only this one is more obvious.

River's face shows her apology, her sorrow and frustration at hurting him. She doesn't need to say anything, she never needs to say anything, Simon just patches himself up and pretends it never happened - pretends the nights never get this bad. Tucking the blankets around her, Simon watches as she relaxes into them; her eyelids begin to droop as fatigue sets in, it's only a matter of time before she is completely asleep. Simon likes to wait with her whilst that happens, he even has a chair set up in the corner, except this time he won't be reading but tending to the bite she inflicted on him.

"Goodnight, mei-mei."

Simon kisses her forehead softly before he moves back to his chair. So used to this ritual, he is startled when she speaks the words slurring a little, almost lost in sleep.

"Say hello to William for me."

Simon merely nods, though he wonders on her odd sentence till long after she's fallen into sleep. The door to River's bunk slides open and Simon stares up at it, his hand moving from underneath his chin to fall into his lap hiding the bite. He's surprised to see the Captain standing there, even if his attitude doesn't reflect it.

"How is she?"

Mal s question startles Simon. The doctor hasn't been expecting any visitors, especially after River's latest outburst; earlier on it would have been a welcome surprise but now Simon's exhausted, wanting his bunk and nothing more. He should have been expecting Mal's visit; he's known since they landed on this tiny planet that they're going after a large job, he just hopes its not cattle transport again after Mal's comments once before on River spooking the shipment. Carefully he schools his features so his worry doesn't show as he answers,

"She's getting better, the drugs are starting to work again. I managed to mix a new batch for her using some-" he breaks off seeing the expression on Mal's face, "Better, she's doing better. Sleeping now in fact. She won't wake for at least eight hours or so-she won't be a disturbance, not tonight."

"That's good to know, `specially since most of us have been disturbed all evening." Mal's words are rough as usual, but for a moment Simon can see concern in his eyes as he looks at River. "Get cleaned up an' down to the cargo area. Got a job for us all lined up and waitin' for us; you and Jayne are coming with me."

"What, no, I mean I can't." Simon's confused but since Mal's already walked out the room and heading to the bay, Simon has no choice but to follow, but only after sliding his sister's door quietly shut. "Mal, wait!" He calls after the Captain but unsurprisingly the man doesn't stop, or even bother to slow down which leaves Simon tripping over in his haste to reach his side. "I can't, I can't leave River."

Mal's eyes flick down to his and for a moment Simon wonders if he'll get the `I'm the Captain, do as I say speech.' Tien knows he's heard it all before. Mal's still walking and Simon's having to do the same to keep up; the distance has never seemed so short as they enter the cargo bay, Mal finally choosing to answer Simon.

"Inara an Kaylee are real happy to stay here with River; Kaylee started spoutin' something or other about getting out Inara's clothes and tryin' them on. Somehow I think they'll be able to keep your sister occupied if she wakes. Which if I`m remembering rightly, you told me wouldn`t happen for another eight hours."

"Dress up? She's not a doll-" Simon shakes his head, not wanting to know what the women have planned; chances are River will delight in every moment of it. Still that's not the point. They walk past Jayne whose busy cheerfully strapping weapons to every part of his body that he can; normally Simon would be paying the man more attention, especially since he's shirtless and shoeless, but tonight he has other things to distract him. "River has an ear infection; that's what's hurting her, it leaves her feeling a little unbalanced."

"Mind and body in gorram harmony." Jayne's gruff comment earns him a glare from Simon, which the Mercenary returns with a smirk. Normally more comments would follow but Mal senses the direction things are going and steps in between them forcing Simon to look at him, a scowl coming to his face as he hears Jayne's amused snort.

"You've been working damn hard, Simon, been getting us out of trouble and stitchin' us up real good now. But you can't burn yourself at both ends, you need a night off the babysitting." He forestalls Simon's counter arguments by placing a hand on his shoulder, "We got business in town, nice little tavern off the Alliance's radar should get you relaxing real fast."

It is tempting, it's been far too long since Simon seems to have done anything but work or take care of River-but his sense of decorum sets in and he shakes his head. He knows full well, contact or no contact, how Mal and Jayne's bar trips usually end.

"Gonna get you a little less pretty tonight," Jayne peers around Mal at Simon, "well maybe just a little less prissy, doc. You're comin' with us, get yourself some fun times."

Simon's surprised at his good mood, usually Jayne is either surly or confrontational to him. It's an unsettling change and Simon can't help but wonder if he will end up naked and tied to the front of Serenity long before morning.

"Best not be thinking it's a request either. I'm not wantin' my only medic to have a breakdown." Sincerity is showing in Mal's eyes now and whilst he keeps shaking his head, determined to win out in the end Simon feels a pleasing glow in the bottom of his stomach. Mal's words make him feel more like part of the crew and less like an annoyance. Though his next ones do leave Simon open mouthed as the Captain steps to one side, both he and Jayne ready to leave.

"You can shake your head all you like but you're coming with us. Either you come now without complaining or I'll have to knock you out," he glances at Jayne who steps forward eagerly, "Or let Jayne do it. Either way the outcome's the same. Question is, is all your going to be nursing a hangover come tomorrow, or a concussion too?"

Simon's mouth's still hanging open but he's no longer shaking his head, instead a slight smile is quirking at his lips. "Well it seems I have no choice but to agree."

"Can we get gone now?" Jayne's obviously bored of the conversation, or so is appears. Every now and then, Simon can see Jayne's eyes flicking to look at him as he straightens his shirt that was rumpled from the tussle with River.

"After you," Mal's expression is bland but Simon can see a hint of a smile around his lips as he pulls open the door for them, "And Jayne? Since I'm making contact you're responsible for getting Simon back to Serenity before morning take off-dong ma?"

Now Simon's the one who's smiling as Jayne's curses fill the night air.

TBC

Translations:
"Ta ma de!" - damn it
Mei-mei- sister
Tien- God
Dong ma? - understand?

Chapter Text

Part 2

Maybe being concussed would have been better. At least then I wouldn't have to see this, Simon thinks; his eyes averting from the disturbing image across the table of Jayne pawing at a couple of giggling women who sat on his knees. He sips at his drink, the sharp bite of the alcohol a welcome distraction from the womens' crude comments and Jayne's annoying grins. Contrary to what Jayne obviously thought, Simon isn't clueless; being in the top three percent or even a genius didn't mean he lost much measure of common sense, or the ability to read body language.

Jayne's attitude towards Simon. The way he `accidentally' always managed to jostle Simon aboard the ship, the way he cut him to the quick ignoring all attempts to befriend or even hold respect for Simon. The man's annoying ability to irritate Simon at every opportunity or wind him up about something or other. Alone, they would all have been all right, would have convinced Simon that Jayne disliked him (and River) intently and nothing more. But then Jayne's body language always gave him away.

The way the Mercenary's eyes followed Simon; watching, not carefully but with interest, and the way he always made some smart remark when he caught Simon noticing. The body language, leaning in trying to appear intimidating whilst his lust clearly shone in his eyes. And if that hadn't all been enough, the annoying thing poking him in the back that always happened when Jayne ever restrained him from behind.

Jayne's watching him now, Simon can't help but notice though he ignores it; just as he's been ignoring all his comments and crude remarks, whilst he finishes his drink.

"You gonna go and get some more?" Jayne's staring at him challengingly, as if he thinks he can order Simon around, but Simon's had enough of the machismo behaviour. He isn't about to spend the evening with someone who's attracted to him yet denying it at every turn, favouring insults over lust.

"I'll send some over to you." Simon answers as he stands up, catching the confused expression that's building in Jayne's eyes.

"What? No can do doc, you gotta stay with me-Mal said so." Jayne's actually pouting now; Simon can't help but admit to himself how much he'd love to lean down and kiss away the pout, but holds back on the desire since Jayne would probably pound him into a greasy stain rather then reciprocate.

"No, he said you had to bring me back to Serenity by the morning." Simon actually checks his watch, enjoying the annoyance he sees rising. "Which is more then twelve hours from now. Since I have more money on me, I'll hire a room here and promise not to leave till you collect me."

Whether Jayne has no comeback or he's simply too shocked and slow to find one, Simon will never know. Instead of waiting he moves over to the bar, to order some drinks for Jayne's table which will definitely not be going on his bills and to have some more of his own. If he's truthful, a small part of Simon had hoped his actions would spur Jayne into some kind of action, but they hadn't had the desired effect, instead the other man is making a big show of kissing the women he is with on the neck, though his gaze slips to Simon as he does.

"Want some of this?" Simon jumps at the voice in his ear as the bartender leans filling up his glass before he can answer.

"Thank you," Anything else Simon is about to say is cut off as the foul liquid hits his throat, making him gasp and choke. Before his coughing fit is over he is left with a full mug of the alcohol and no bartender to change it. Not to mention the snickers that Simon can hear coming from Jayne's table. Eyes downcast, he stares into his mug trying to ignore the giggles even as his face reddens.

An unfamiliar shivery sensation moves over his neck and Simon swivels in his chair, looking at the man whose eyes are on him. He's expecting laughs, even a smirk or sneer from the man but instead the man catches his eye with not a hint of amusement on his face.

Cool blue eyes with a hint of wickedness in them are assessing him; unashamedly moving over Simon's body whilst a flirtatious smile is aimed his way. Simon can feel himself blushing, his skin heating and blood rising to the surface of his cheeks and neck in response to the blatant interest. If anything the man's smile seems to grow and Simon finds himself unable to look away as the man gets to his feet. The stranger's hair is the oddest shade of blond, more platinum then natural, though it contrasts strikingly with his piercing blue eyes. He's slim, with cheekbones any Companion would die for and he doesn't so much walk as saunter towards Simon, exuding sex at every step.

Simon's still unable to look away, expecting now that something unpleasant will happen, that the man will make some cruel joke or slur and spoil the entrancement Simon feels. But he doesn't. Instead he casually settles into the empty chair next to Simon and for a moment Simon looks down, his heart pounding. He's not done this before, not flirted with a random stranger nor attracted one- especially not with Jayne so close by, watching as Simon knows he is. Feeling Jayne's eyes burning into his back is what makes Simon look shyly up, a nervous smile on his lips, as he wonders what he should say. How he should greet the other man.

"I'm not going to bite you, pet, don't worry."

The words startled Simon, the man's odd accent and words surprising him. It's a nice surprise though, it breaks the ice between them.

"I'm sorry," Simon's glancing down at his hands though; the slim, callus free fingers staring back up at him. "I'm just not used to this, to doing this." He looks up now, his heart skipping a beat as nervousness sets in.

The other man smiles as if amused by that, "Can't say I'm not surprised, figured you were the type to have any you pleased." His fingers were drumming on the bar but somehow they've managed to slide over and the man's thumb is caressing Simon's.

Simon's is permanently blushing now. Not only surprised by the man's brazen flirtation but secretly pleased by his attempts at seduction. "I, err-thank you. Are you making moves on me?" He isn't sure what else to say so as always he falls back on what he knows- manners. "I'm Simon." He omits his last name, not wanting anyone else to overhear. It may mean nothing to them, but Simon isn't naive enough to believe that will always be the case wherever they go.

The blond grins at him, "Maybe, the name's Spike." He pauses for a moment, causing Simon to frantically think of something to say whilst he motions the bartender over. "Whiskey, two glasses."

"Whiskey?" Again Spike's thrown him off balance; he'd figured Spike expects him to be a cheap and easy date, looks like he had the other man wrong after all. Whiskey, especially the brand Spike is pointing to, is expensive everywhere but the Core-Simon is flattered and then uneasy, maybe Spike believes he will pay?

"Should keep us going all night."

Simon's worries are belayed as Spike hands over a bundle of notes. It's a statement to the barman who doesn't even check, merely pales and moves away leaving a full bottle of whiskey on the bar.

"Cheers," Spike's voce is husky and close to Simon's ear, the other man's lips only inches away from his face. Simon is mesmerized for a moment, gazing at Spike and seeing lust flickering on his face.

"Cheers?" The word confuses him for a moment, then Simon notices the Whiskey shots in Spike's hands. One for Spike, one for Simon. "Thank you." A soft smile is on his lips now and Simon wonders what it about Spike that confounds and attracts him.

Taking the small glass, Simon clinks it with Spike's before inclining his head and dashing it back. He's a moment ahead of Spike and so he doesn't notice the man's reaction; the subtle parting of the lips as Spike's eyes fix onto the grove of Simon's neck, watching the pulse beat for a moment-a flash of amber briefly flaring in his eyes.

His eyes closed, Simon licks at his lips to savour the flavour unknowing the reaction he's having upon Spike; by the time he's opened his eyes Spike's already downing his own shot.

"Take it you've found someone to play with." Jayne's voice is unnervingly close and Simon's head whips round to stare at the glowering Mercenary behind him. Jayne's eyes flick behind Simon, narrowing as they take in Spike's appearance but instead of the disgust he expected, all Simon can see is anger.

"Ain't my business doc, but didn't figure you one to play around with whores." Jayne's lips curl in a sneer as he speaks, "Figures a biao zi like that's just fixin' to get a ride-an not just the ruttin' kind." He moves around Simon to lean as much over Spike as he can, attempting to intimidate the smaller man.

"He's not a whore Jayne," Simon's response is soft, but Jayne's behaviour is irritating him now. First the man made it clear Simon was nothing but a nuisance or to be laughed at, now he was trying to ruin any chance Simon had of actually having a civilised conversation and company for the night. "And if you have that big of an issue I suggest you fetch Mal, though he won`t be pleased you interrupted him. Now if you don`t mind, I think your ...friends want you. I`d like to continue where we left off,"

Simon's eyes were on Spike as he spoke the last words, his heart racing as he stared at the blond ignoring Jayne as best he could. The problem was Jayne is standing extremely close to him and Simon's body can't help but react to that, to his shame. It is as though he and Jayne were continually playing games except this time, Simon has broken one of the rules-by not following Jayne's.

Jayne head whipped back to Simon's, incredulity clearly visible. Simon keeps his eyes trained on Spike's calmly reciting the Hippocratic oath inside his head as he tries to ignore the expression on Jayne's face. Had he looked up maybe things would have changed for the better, or maybe for the worse but he doesn't and so he misses the confusion that floods Jayne's face; he misses the hint of pain that shows for a second before Jayne's rigid mask of anger settles back on and he storms off to the bars bedchambers, a giggling women on each arm.

"Didn't know you had it in you mate," Spike looks pleased though not relieved, as Simon would have expected. Then again he can't remember Spike looking anything but expectant when Jayne had leant over him; it was like Spike had known exactly what Jayne was doing and maybe even why he was doing it. "Funny he should think so much on the subject of whores when he's only gone upstairs with two of them; bints have had more fella`s tonight then you can probably count. Sodding idiot's going to end up robbed blind by the end of the night- though after that rant I'm not rushing to help him."

Simon blinks, some of Spike's words going over his head not only lost in the husky accent but normally unheard of nowadays. A small part of Simon feels a sting of satisfaction when he thinks of Jayne bound, tied and robbed of his overbearing exterior. "That' would be a sight indeed," he murmurs.

Spike smirks, his hands moving to the Whiskey bottle to pour them both another shot. "Think so? Can tell you the git's as far off as they come and if I wanted off this poxy little place, I'd get myself travel easy. Much as I've been treated it in the past, I'm not beneath anyone." Simon can see the seriousness in Spike's face and he wonders who told Spike such a thing to make the man so insecure.

"Bollocks to it." Spike sighs now, handing the small glass to Simon, "Bollocks to them-well most of them all. We're going to have a good one tonight, right?" He quirks an eyebrow, a mischievous grin curving his lips, "Besides if I was gonna whore myself out I'd give you a free ride, whereas anyone else-I'd expect a bloody lot from, not then just a short trip."

Simon almost chokes on his shot; having been in the middle of drinking when Spike talks about whoring himself, the words have thrown him, causing him to gasp and some of the liquid to go down the wrong way.

"Sorry but you'd what?" Simon isn't sure he heard correctly but Spike's shameless grin tells him that he has-Simon only has to accept it.

"Come now pet, you knew where this was heading. Not saying we have to shag on the first date, but it would be nice to get to know you a bit better."" Spike's voice is silky now, his body almost touching Simon's as he leans in to pour them both another drink.

Maybe it's the alcohol lowering his inhibitions, or maybe its because Spike's now caressing Simon's knee; his fingers making circles up the thigh, dangerously close to the part of Simon which is the most focussed on the sensation Spike is creating. It is almost indecent as Spike moves his chair in closer, only the length of his coat hiding where his fingers are now stroking.

"Tzao gao!" Simon manages to gasp the curse out as he feels himself hardening, Spike's fingers masterfully teasing his erection up. As the man's thumb joins the torturous massage and the tiny yet audible sound of his zipper being nudged down seems to pierce the room, Simon's sense of decorum overrides his arousal and he pulls back from Spike- his cock tenting his underwear, poking through the zipper.

"I can't... I'm not..." Colour stains Simon's cheeks as he hastily zips himself back up, unable to look around the room to see whose noticed.

"Not what? Humans and their hang ups; gay, sly, bent? What does it matter? " Spike's lips are twitching with annoyance or amusement, Simon can`t tell which though he finds the other man's choice of words odd to say the least.

"Can't tell me you're not bent, can tell that you want me. An you'd have to be a moron not to smell the tension between between you an the git from earlier. He wants you bad pet, an I know you want him- just as much as I know your body aches for me now." Spike's words are soft now, huskily hypnotic as leans closer to Simon.

Simon can't deny it, won't deny any of it, but that's not why he stopped Spike-not the real reason. He remembers telling Kaylee once, after she gave him the come on, that his manners his attitude to her were a manner of showing respect-of showing he was fond of her. Of course at the time that didn't go down too well, much like its not going down well now. Simon's sure any second Spike's going to walk off, that he's blown his chances; he's just not sure how to explain what's wrong.

"Gonna take a while to get through to that one," Spike's still talking, not running as Simon expects and the Doctor is taken aback, even more so when Spike fishes out a cigarette and lights up apparently intent on staying. "Not the worlds best at saying what he wants is he?" Spike's acting almost commiserating now, as he pours them both another drink. "Knew a couple of people like that, known far too many if you bloody well ask me."

"No, Jayne`s not one to want me. Or not one to let on that he does," Simon shakes his head, "Unfortunately I can't help being drawn to him, much as I sometimes detest it."

"The soul wants, what it wants." Spike hands Simon a glass and for a second, Simon wonders if Spike's moved on to alcohol and commiserations to woo him. That's when he realizes how off topic they've got, how far from the truth. Simon is attracted to Jayne, maybe it is more then just that something Simon doesn`t want to dwell on, but the heart of the matter has always been that Simon is afraid of letting it go-of losing the control he has.

He's held onto his manners and ideals for so long; playing down his slyness all his life to appear the perfect son to his parents. Playing the perfect doctor and perfect gentleman to his friends. It's been all he has had for so long now and all he knows-he's scared of stepping from that role and just letting himself be Simon. Even if it's just for one night.

Spike's hand's on his now and Simon can feel the coolness of Spike's resting on his hot and sweaty hand as the man speaks. "Not offering nothing but a good night mate; know where your heart lies and I won't tempt it, just like I know you won't tempt mine. We both want what, for now, we can't have so how about having some fun together? No manners, no civility needed and no one need ever know-you can be what you want, let it all go."

It's almost as if Spike's reading his mind but Simon throws off that thought right away, only River ever seems to know that and sometimes she gets it wrong too. Spike's looking at him now, waiting for an answer Simon isn't sure he can give, at least not sober. Gulping back his shot, Simon lets the rich flavour sit on his tongue for a moment before his eyes meet Spike's. "I'm just not very...I mean I've not really had the time, even at medical school I was always too busy." Simon blurts the words out, the redness creeping across his cheeks, as understanding dawns in Spike's eyes.

Spike's eyebrows shoot up, clearly astounded. "So this isn't about that git? I've just rambled on about a load of sodding stuff to try to convince you and it's because you haven't lost your cherry yet?"

"I'm not sure what that means," Simon's giving him an odd look now, the blush fading with confusion, "I'm a chu nu, yes."

"Don't speak Chinese luv, least not more then the stuff to get by." Spike is grinning now, appearing delighted by the news which flusters Simon; most people were put off by bedding virgins since it always more fun when both people knew what they were doing. Not that Simon hasn't learned anatomically what to do; not that he hasn't read books smutty and otherwise or watched snippets of interest over the Cortex. He isn't an innocent, just inexperienced.

Simon is jolted from his musings as soft lips cover his own, gently touching before parting to slip a cool tongue into his mouth. Spike's kiss is gentle at first but as Simon responds, his lips pressing back his tongue also exploring, the man deepens it. They are no longer just touching lips now, no longer gently kissing. Instead both men are devouring each others mouths, lost in the sensations between them. Thankfully the bar has emptied and so the two men are left undisturbed, the Barkeep only coughing an interrupt when Spike's hands began flicking open the buttons on Simon's shirt.

Simon is the one to break off the kiss; his face flushed and panting a little, he wears an embarrassed smile as he looks from Spike to the Barkeeper. Spike's hand is on his knee now, running over it and slowly beginning its move up Simon's leg. Except this time Simon has no inclination to run away, at least not so far-but he does want to move away in private.

"Just for tonight then?" Spike's question is soft but Simon's already standing, picking up the whisky bottle to take upstairs with them.

"Just for tonight Spike."

TBC

Translations:
Biao zi - whore
Chu nu- virgin

Chapter Text

Part 3

A light touch trails down his side and Simon's squirms, teased from sleep; opening his eyes, he blinks as light assaults his eyes. "Morning already?" That's what he means to say though it comes out as a mumble "mrng dee?"

"Not yet, just got woken up-sorry to disturb you." Spike's voice is apologetic and Simon's closing his eyes against the light, rolling onto his stomach as Spike clicks it off. Cool hands trail along Simon's back, occasionally kneading at the muscles and taking away all his grumpiness at being woken early. It's almost a feeling of deja-vu since Spike spent almost an hour massaging Simon to calm his nervousness when they first entered the room.

"Mmm," Simon almost purrs as Spike's hands dip further working at the muscles in his lower back. He sighs, one eye half opening to peer at the window. Unfortunately thick black curtains block out even a fraction of light which could seep through; that's odd, those curtains look nailed up, like Spike did it himself-which wouldn't make sense, even the most light sensitive sleeper could wear a mask rather then go to the trouble of covering the window.

"How much longer do we have?"

They only have the room until eight in the morning, since Simon suspects Jayne will be barging in on them at that time just to drag him back to Serenity and so far Simon feels like he's barely slept at all. He feels Spike pause briefly at the question, "Spike?"

"It's three, you've only had about an hour or so I figure."

"Three?" Simon's turning now, his eyes on Spike, who is trying his best to appear innocent. "Spike I've not even had that. No wonder my body isn't reciprocating." He gestures to his half hard cock, which admittedly is waning despite Spike's best efforts to now stroke it into a full erection.

"Half an hour more?" Simon pleads, closing his eyes and manoeuvring himself onto his back as he wriggles to get comfy.

"Half an hour?" Spike sounds disappointed and Simon cracks open an eye to squint at him.

Spike's pouting, his lower lip definitely sticking out as his eyes dance with glee, an undercurrent mischief and a hint of wickedness showing as Simon glances at him-and then looks down, at Spike's rigid and demanding cock.

"Where the di yu do you get your stamina Spike?" Disbelief colours Simon's voice as he thinks back on the four hours of shagging (as Spike put it), they'd just enjoyed. Not to mention the four orgasms, the last of which had been almost painful for Simon.

Spike grins delightedly, "Best off not knowing, comes in handy though."

Simon's now wondering if Spike's taken something; even Jayne wouldn't have this kind of energy, Simon was sure. "You haven't ingested any kind of pill have you?" Concern laces Simon's voice and then it hits him that he's gone to far-become too doctoring. "I'm sorry that was very rude of me, I'm sure it's a personal matter."

"Nothing to it," Spike fiddles with his cigarettes, putting them away at Simon look. "Just me, luv, but I understand if you need sleep-" He hesitates, one hand gently stroking his cock.

Simon licks his lips, his fingers creeping out to cover Spike's as he strokes. "Lube?" Whilst he's not hard enough for them to have sex, he can imagine how chafed Spike must be given that Simon was a little sore himself.

Spike shake's his head, "Not needed. Bit of pain never did anyone any harm." He keeps their hands firmly entwined and stroking as Simon moves to pull back, unhappy about causing any kind of pain, "Not bad pain, just an edge. Not so much a bite but a sting, brings you close makes you blood pound an' your bell-end stiffen. Can be begging for it, begging for more, no matter how much it stings-pain can be delicious that way."

Simon's not liking the descriptions so much, the idea of causing pain even to release pleasure is lost on him. But then he's spent his entire life fighting against pain. Spike's obviously liking it though, his cock leaking precum and his eyes closing as they stroke- and Simon is loathe to ruin their night.

Rolling onto his side, Simon's other hand sweeps down lower and cups Spike's balls gently massaging them as Spike's breathing hitches, showing the man's enjoyment. Spike's shuddering slightly, his cock pulsing at the feeling. Simon's enjoying this control, the slight power he has over Spike at the moment and whilst he can't muster up enough energy to join in himself, he's loving the part he plays now.

Just to tease, Simon removes his hands from Spike's jarring the other man's hands loose. Despite the small growl he hears, Simon doesn't look up- instead he pulls himself up onto his knees, pushing Spike firmly back against the mattress. Leaning over Simon soothes Spike's cock with his tongue, not truly believing the other man doesn't feel in the slightest chafed, before he takes it into his mouth; gentle movements give way to forceful ones, Simon sucking hard as Spike encourages him by thrusting into his mouth. Simon tries to ignore the inherent gag relax when Spike's motions get a little too strong, it seems practice makes perfect and Spike is definitely not complaining about Simon's blowjobs even though the man has had little practice. Having to gasp for breath, Simon opens his mouth letting his hands return to pleasure Spike as he kisses the man's stomach, tongue running over and into the small dip of his belly button.

Simon can hear Spike groaning now, hoarsely murmuring something Simon can only just make out, as the doctor pumps his cock faster. Spike's hands are in Simon's hair, holding the younger man in place as his back arches. For a brief moment Spike's mind is somewhere else, slipped into a fantasy and so his body react unconsciously holding Simon in place not only to prolong his pleasure but so the man cannot see the raw need on his face. Simon's mouth is on Spike's nipples now, sucking and biting leaving them swollen and hard as his hands grace over Spike's cock. Simon's living in the moment now, waiting for the second when Spike's lets go and his body responds-he waits for the heat to rise, for Spike's skin to pinken as blood rushes to the surface. Simon's still waiting as Spike groans loudly his cock twitching as the orgasm is pulled from him.

It's strange that it's taken Simon this long to notice the oddities about Spike, strange that's he's brushed them aside all night; the coolness of Spike's body more akin to a cooling corpse then a living being, his strange stamina- It all now strike Simon as odd. He can't help but draw back a little, moving to his side of the bed to stare thoughtfully at Spike. Medically speaking the coolness of Spike's body could be attributed to a number of things, and as for his stamina Simon isn't entirely sure the other man hasn't taken something to keep him aroused. Thinking like that relaxes Simon, puts him back on common ground and breaks his mind away from assessing Spike.

"Sorry Pet," the other man's voice is low as if troubled by something and Simon squints up at him, wondering what for?

"Shouldn't have said what I did, 's rude. I'm with you, just mind wanders sometimes; makes me remember an` I forget."

"Oh." Simon's unsure what to say now. He'd noticed Spike's word slippage earlier, the soft groaned out word that the other man had let out, but he`d been planning on ignoring it. After all Simon's also guilty of slipping into fantasy; of pretending the mouth worshipping him was Jayne`s, not Spike. "Who is he?"

Spike gives him a long hard look, seeming to weigh up whether to answer or not. "Special- he was one in a million," he finally answers quietly as he plays with his fingers, nervously peeling and scratching off the dark colour that stains his nails.

Picking upon the past tense Simon keeps quiet, just waiting for Spike, letting the man chose whether to share or not- rather then annoy him by saying something out of turn; after all Simon's not good at talking to people- he messes it up or is a boob as River says.

"Knew him for eight years. Went from fighting each other, to fighting together, to fucking-somewhere in the middle I fell for him." A wistful look is on Spike's face now and Simon can't take his eyes off him as he continues, "What's more bloody astounding is he fell for me too, weren't the love-dovey type neither of us but we said it, felt it and knew."

So this is what Spike meant when he'd told Simon they couldn't tempt each others' hearts, the man is still obviously in love; pain and sorrow etched into his face and words as equally as happiness when he speaks of him. Spike's looking at him now, expecting him to say something but Simon can't just wave his hand and say `please continue'. Instead he uses the broadest question his uneasy mind can dredge up, "You lost him?"

Spike's nodding slowly now, the bitterness of his expression seeming out of place on him, "Didn't even have him as mine for a decade you know. Decade was all we needed, was what we were waiting for. Then there would have been no way some damn demon could have taken him from me."

"Demon?" The word is unusual and conjuring up odd images in Simon's mind so he can't help the question in his voice.

Spike's glancing at him now and there's something unreadable in his face, "just a turn of phrase from around my end. Would have been all right if we'd had that decade or if the damn bitches had got me or Red to him in time-could have helped him, could have made him right again."

Simon doesn't ask how, doesn't go down that road. The time for questions is past now, Spike's just telling his tale lost in the memory of his own past. His accent's changing as he does, becoming a little less rough, more polished and refined, closer to that of Simon's.

"He was in England, I was in LA when it happened."

Simon's going through his memory trying to place those planets, trying to fathom if maybe they are two cities on the same planet but Spike doesn't elaborate, just keeps on speaking in that soft tone of his, "He was attacked, got beat up and badly hurt. Stupid git was trying to save someone, trying to help someone, he never did think!" Spike`s hands are clenched now, "Never lost his bollocksy white knight complex, never thought about himself or what we'd do."

Spike's eyes are shining suspiciously now, anger and pain predominant on his face; Simon knows no matter how long ago this happened is irrelevant-the pain hasn't faded with time, only become easier to deal with. We know a hundred ways of treating a patient's body, of righting it when it's broken yet we can do nothing for the mind, Simon can't help the thought, it reminds him of River because just like her Spike's been broken inside.

"His mates weren't with him, only that prat Andrew and his girls. They weren't no help from what Red told me, bitches stood back and did nothing whilst it pounded on him, too damn new and unsure to trust their instincts and Andrew, " Spike snorted derision on his face, "Fucking Watcher wannabe. Couldn't get his head out his arse long enough to make a decision. Took them an hour to get him treated and call Red about it. Worse thing is we both knew something was wrong, were trying to get hold of them but it didn't happen till it was too late. Internal bleeding the doctors said, thing messed up his stomach and brain, by the time Red an' me got there only the fancy equipment was keeping' him alive."

"That must have been awful for you." Simon cringes after he's said the words, knowing they have to be his most idiotic to date but Spike doesn't notice-doesn't turn on him and snap, he just keeps speaking,

"She begged me you know, wanted me to do what she couldn`t, but it was too late. Magic, love, all the fucking want in the world couldn`t do anything for him-and believe me we tried. Stayed by his bed for nearly a month trying to find ways to make him whole again. Red, she collapsed in on herself, couldn't stop trying' since it was all that was keeping her going. The others, they fell on each other trying to make some sense of it but Red, she fell apart." Spike's head is in his hands now, knees drawn up to his chest, "Stayed strong for her an' the others when all I wanted to do was get payback and get Xan back. Even the ponce tried helping, just made everything go tits up though; got a necro-a bint to come an' scan Xan's head."

Simon is nodding now, knowing what's coming next, having heard this kind of thing before. "The mind is extraordinary," Simon's speaking softly, his hand on Spike's arm. The man isn't looking at him, still has his head in his hands, "But there's only so much healing a body can take. Some things, they just stay broken." He feels akin to Spike now understanding the frustration of watching a loved one suffer when you can't help them, when your best isn't good enough. "Sometimes it's just too fragile." he murmurs.

Spike is looking up now, his blue eyes focussing on Simon, reading the understanding there and for the longest moment neither say a word, just comfort each other in silence. Then Spike breaks the silence, a look of self-loathing in his eyes, "There wasn't anything in there, nothing left but to bury his body, his soul was already gone. Girls couldn't do it, wouldn't ask it of them and Giles..." Spike shook his head, "Was up to me to stop the machines."

Maybe Spike's a writer or perhaps religious, Simon can't help but wonder given the man's choice of words. Having your soul move on whilst your body still lived, was more poetic a term then its clinical counterpart-brain death. "So you did what you had to." It's not a question but Simon says it anyway.

Spike shudders, as he swings his legs to one side and strides over to his black duster. For a minute Simon expects him to pull it on and walk out, their conversation having taken such a dark turn, but Spike merely reaches into his pockets and pulls out a white packet. Extracting a cigarette from it, he lights up and draws in a deep shuddering breath before answering, "Can't bring back the dead, no way of doing it-not anymore. Knowing Xan, an' after what happened with Buffy," Spike takes a longer pull on the cigarette but this time there's resolution on his face, as though he knows what he did was for the best, "couldn't ever do that to Xander."

"I'm not sure I understand," Simon's confused now, uneasy over Spike's sentence. As a doctor he's pulled many patients back from the brink of death or even pulled them from its clutches minutes after, but from the way Spike is speaking it's more than just cheating death.

"'Not important," Spike's shaking it off now, not so much putting back up a mask but putting the conversation aside along with his pain. "I just figure if I'm lucky, maybe one day the Powers will send Xan back to me."

"The powers?" Simon's more baffled now. He's not one for much religion himself but he does pride himself on knowing about many different variants, however whilst Tien might feature a lot in all of them in various different forms, he's never heard of it referred to as powers.

Spike's hand is at his eyes now, rubbing the eyelids with his fingers, "Listen to me, I mean bloody listen to me!" He laughs, startling Simon, "sorry luv it's just I'm starting to sound more and more like the great poof an I'm confusing you in the bargain, instead of screwing you into the mattress."

"Screwing me into the mattress?" Simons staring at the laughing man, seriously wondering if maybe he's the only sane person in the world. Unfortunately his question is answered when the door to their room is wrenched open and a furious Jayne storms in. A furious, armed and completely naked Jayne, that is.

Simon can't help but stare, his eyes trailing over Jayne's body appreciating the view. He knew Jayne was toned, had seen him working out more times then he'd be inclined to admit and he did have to stitch him up quite a bit. But there was a big difference between appreciating a view and enjoying it quite so much. Simon slaps his hand over his newly enthused and rising penis at the same time Jayne slaps his hand over his own cock.

"Get your gorram eyes from me before I whup your ass boy."

Simon flinches a blush making its way over his face as his cock twitches in response to that idea, but Jayne's not looking at him. No Jayne's standing in-between Simon and Spike, glaring at the blond who looks completely at home with being naked and threatened.

"Jayne?" Simon's trying not to look at the mercenary's back and butt, which are just as toned and lickable as the rest of his body, "Much as we don't appreciate the intrusion, what are you doing in here flashing around your...weapon?"

Jayne doesn't even have the decency to blush, just grabs Simon's trousers and yanks them on. They look almost obscene and ridiculously tight on him, not to mention several inches too short. Then Simon realises he has none to wear, "Did you...you just took my trousers, Jayne!" As Jayne ignores him and moves to the door poking his head around it, Simon scoots off the side of the bed and moves behind him.

"Jayne-" He's tugging on his arm feeling all shades of stupid and uncouth, still cupping his penis with his hand. His back is to Spike and so he doesn't notice as the man cocks his head obviously listening intently, although silence is all the others can hear, before grabbing his own trousers and yanking them on. Spike's already lacing his boots when Simon glances back at him, "Spike?"

"Sorry pet, seems the git here is expecting company and not the friendly sort." Spike's pulling on his shirt now and moving to the bed, reaching underneath he pulls out a small metal case.

Jayne's glancing around now, having given up on ignoring Simon, "Them whores ain't too happy that I weren't willing to hand over all my stuff so they tried getting' their boys on me-telling `em I did the dirty and owed them stuff. Hell I ain't paying for no lousy rut," His eyes caught the case, "You got a gun in there?"

Spike looks up and Simon can see amusement written all over his face, "No, mate, let my hands do the talking."

"Them pretty things?" Simon can hear the speculation in Jayne's voice though he can't see it. He's too busy searching for anything that can cover him. Unfortunately in a passionate moment earlier his shirt was somewhat shredded and Simon can feel, with a sinking heart, that his dignity is about to go that way.

And it's not like he won't have a large audience, Simon can hear people running now and shouting from below. Inwardly he curses before crossing his arms over his chest, "What were you thinking of Jayne? Intruding in here, disturbing us and embroiling us in yet another ridiculous situation?"

"Promised Mal I'd get ya back to the ship, couldn't be sure them fine upstanding' citizens downstairs wouldn't take my leavin' out on your pretty little hide." At least Simon has Jayne's attention now; maybe a touch too much, since his eyes are moving over the doctors body at the same time as a bullet embeds in the door frame.

"Tzao gao! These folks ain't getting on my good side."

"Do you even have one?" Simon's shaking his head in disbelief, not noticing that Spike's pulling the curtains off the wall-the nailed down curtains.

Spike lets out a whistle as Jayne lets off a few rounds, firing down the corridor, "Right this is the deal. You want out of here, I'll get you out. Window here lead you outside and I can get you back to you ship, but since you've ruined this place for me-you take me with you."

"No ruttin' way." Jayne growls out the words, glancing back at them, "We don't owe you nothing. You had the doc-call it even."

Simon's mouth drops open at Jayne's crudeness, more put out by that then being in the same room as both Jayne and Spike. Murmuring curses under his breath he shoots Jayne a glare as he gathers up what's left of his money and underwear. A pair of boxers, that's all he has to his name; sighing Simon pulls them on as Spike pressed something into his hands-his leather duster.

"Here pet, you'll catch a chill," A leer comes over Spike's face as he adds, "Or they'll be chasing us for more then just your pal here."

"Thank you." Simon pulls on the jacket, which covers him nicely. When he catches sight of himself in the mirror though he has to groan. He looks every inch the debauched virgin or perhaps virgin turned slut since his lips are swollen, his hair mussed and feet bare. Kneeling down, he pulls on his `fancy shoes' as Jayne calls them just as the mercenary jumps back into the room, startled by the bullet that whistled past his ear.

"Couldn't hurt to take on another."

It's Jayne's way of saying he agrees, as Simon's about to tell Spike, but the man guesses himself and already has the window open and waiting.

"You first Simon." Jayne's hands are on his waist as he speaks, helping Simon up onto the ledge and the doctor can't help but pause, disbelief on his face,

"I think that's actually the first time you've said my name."

"Yeah well, gonna be the last if you don't move it."

Simon balances on the ledge careful not to scrape any sensitive parts as he moves himself over and onto the ground below. Heaviness fills his hands as Spike hands Simon his metal case, and the man has to struggle to hold it up. "Take this for me pet."

Jayne's half out the window as Simon hears the door burst open and gunfire crack in the room. Jayne teeters on the edge falling backwards and for one awful moment Simon believes he's been hit, shot at close range with no chance of survival. He's leaning over the man, hands running over his chest and moving to his neck to search for a pulse when Jayne's hands shoot up, grabbing his wrists. "Damn fool whore of yours pushed me out the gorram window!"

"Spike?" Now Simon's worry has a new direction as he stares up at the window, hearing the sound of fists on flesh, "We have to help him."

"Ain't no helping' him now, took one full in the chest-fool boy." Jayne's upright now, grabbing Simon's arm bruisingly, though when Simon looks at him its not anger on his face but worry and confusion.

"We still have to-" Simon's words are bitten off as Spike appears at the window, jumping agilely down onto the ground before them. Astoundingly the man's clothes are barely rumpled, just bloodied from the fight, though Simon is suspicious of the large patch in the centre of his chest. He stands up easily and saunters over to them, with the moonlight shining on his face he looked deathly pale and sinfully sexy.

"No way, no way in hell. You took a damn bullet to the chest." Jayne's voice is a whisper, a tinge of fear noticeable in it.

Spike shrugs, nonchalant to the end, "Not a proper bullet, idiot forgot to use real bullets an' got me with a blank-tore me up some but not so bad. Can't make a corpse of me yet." At his last words an odd smile playing over his lips as if making a joke neither of them could understand.

All Simon can feel is relief; well relief and a touch of embarrassment, which is sure to become extreme. Pistol shots in the background remind him that they still need to run and stepping backwards, he says, "Fascinating as this is, I don't think anyone appreciated our little runaway or Jayne's attitude. Maybe we should be getting back to Serenity?"

TBC

Translations:
Di you - hell
Tzao gao -damn/shit

Chapter Text

"Well now, isn't this a sight?"

As the low drawl accompanies them up the ramp into Serenity, Simon feels heat surface on his cheeks; a hot blush which only intensifies and travels down his neck as he glances up, catching the amused eyes of the Captain looking him up and down. Straightening himself as much as possible, he manages to meet Mal's gaze with as much dignity as he can manage. He knew their arrival would attract attention; how often did you see three men on horseback racing towards a spaceship, one of whom couldn't resist whooping "yeehaw!"as the cargo doors opened.

If it hadn't been for the furious mob behind them, Simon would have insisted they found other transport, especially since his horse riding skills left a lot to be desired. Instead he'd been shoved onto the biggest horse and left clinging to Jayne as the three of them rode towards Serenity. Simon had felt himself slipping and sliding, and had been forced to clamp his legs as tight to the horse as possible. Unfortunately this put his near naked crotch against Jayne's buttocks, also bumping and chafingâ€" Simon had all but fallen off the horse at Serenity, buttocks and thighs sore and chafed.

My business, no one else's, the doctor silently repeats the sentence as he keeps his eyes on Mal, refusing to hear the choked off laugh from Kaylee as she enters the cargo hold.

"We had a few problems in town, a small dispute that someone just couldn't help antagonizing." At the word someone, Simon's eyes flick briefly to glare at Jayne, gaining another sputter of laughter from Kaylee.

The mercenary is oddly at ease with the situation despite looking ridiculous in Simon's tight pants and nothing more then a gun strapped to him. Ridiculous and yet sexyâ€" Simon shakes that thought immediately as Spike follows Jayne in, eyes flicking over first them then towards the crew. Simon has to admit he is surprised Jayne didn't try losing the man whilst riding; he'd half expected that was why Jayne had pushed him onto his horse.

"Now ain't this even more interesting."

Mal's eyes are on Spike now and he doesn't look happy about having anyone else on board the ship. As Spike moves towards Simon, Mal steps in between them his eyes flickering over the blond man.

"Could say that." When he speaks, there's an odd light in Spike's eyes that fits perfectly with the twisted smile on his face. The intensity of his gaze is almost chilling and Simon can see his body is oddly tense, as if Spike's having to mentally restrain himself from leaping at Mal. Simon's impressed that Mal's face remains so neutral, no sign of fear or annoyance registering on his features at all. Not that Spike would be able to tell anyway, Mal always is admirably able at keeping his emotions from showing, though Simon can see the captain's hand twitching ever so close to his gun.

Simon isn't sure where the sudden hostile tension has come from, or why Spike is now circling Mal. Simon has the sudden protective urge to stand between Spike and Mal, but as he takes a step forward the brief tension is broken.

"Sorry mate, thought you were someone else."

Spike's eyes are still fixed on Mal but they are thoughtful now, not feral. "Thought he couldn't stand bints." He moves closer to Mal and sniffs him, "Maybe he just couldn't get any," looking Mal up and down, Spike adds, "Many. Or else the Powers seem to think even he deserves a second chance."

"Huh? Wha-?" Mal bites off his own reply and settles for switching eye contact between Jayne and Simon, "Will someone tell me that the kao is going on here?"

"We're gettin' off this rock before we're well and truly humped." Jayne answers for them as he slams his hand down on the button to shut the cargo doors. "These folks ain't happy with me, nor the doc and his biao."

"Really." Mal's reply is sarcastic though his expression is innocent as he surveys Jayne, "And why am I not surprised at that. Should count yourself lucky you actually brought Simon back in one piece, even if you did pick up a stray along the way."

Jayne's mouth drops open and Simon swallows the laugh he can feel coming, though not quickly enough as a soft noise escapes drawing Mal's attention to him.

"An' you, not looking so much like your fancy self but like a misbehaved brat."

Simon feels the blush return as Mal surveys his lack of clothing, and pulls Spike's duster a little tighter around his body.

"I've just about had it with the pair of you. Actin' like a couple of brats when you know this is the first job we had come our way in a long while-lucky I got the damn thing already or you'd both be in serious danger of getting up close and personal with the black." Mal pushes the button on the communication panel beside him, "Take us away from here Zoe, b'fore this gets messy."

"Already got things ready Captain." Zoe's reply is brisk, as are her actions; only seconds later Simon feels the floor vibrate gently as Serenity's engines kick in and she rises away from the planet.

"Jayne, get yourself decent an' sort this place out. Got some fancy cargo an' we don't want the owners needin' an excuse to rag on the deal." For once Jayne doesn't argue, instead his eyes flick briefly from Mal to Simon.

Spike moves closer and places one hand on Simon's hip, a challenging expression in his eyes which Simon doesn't notice. Jayne's expression turns ugly, his lips twisting in bitterness as he storms out of the room, curses dropping from his lips at every step.

"Well I'm mighty glad you ain't tryin' my patience no more." Mal's voice is firm and Simon's looks up at him, startled by the comment. "You got an infirmary to deal with but first your going to explain what crossed your mind with thinkin' you'd bring a stray aboard my boat? You have your uses and your sister can be damn amusing at times, but-"

"Not his fault, mate. Your green eyed monster out there?" Spike gestures with his head, "Put me in the middle and I couldn't leave the boy."

"Well now maybe chivalry's not dead after all." Mal looks amused for a moment but then his expression becomes serious, his mind focused on one thing-payment. Though Simon hates that Spike has helped them and yet has to pay, it is Mal's ship and she is in need of repairs or they'll all end up adrift in space- much as Kaylee loves to tell them with a horrifyingly cheerful attitude.

Spike rolls his eyes, only a slightly though and his expression never wavers from its smirk, "No worries, prefer cash or credit?"

"Credit?" Mal looks confused for a moment, before his eyes sharpen to reassess Spike.

Everyday non-core or Alliance types tended to opt for the anonymity of cash, only those with wealthy backgrounds or profitable businesses favored credit. Simon can see Mal musing over the prospect of having someone like Spike, seemingly connected, aboard even if he is as much of a mystery as the Shepherd. Simon misses the flicker of suspicion on Mal's face as pulls the coat more firmly around his body, feeling naked and embarrassed at his undignified appearance.

"Cash or goods always sit best with me, most of us folks aren't partial to things of a more personal nature," his eyes flick briefly to Simon for a moment, then back to Spike before he adds, "I'm sure a gentleman like yourself understands."

Simon can detect the hint of humor in Mal's voice as his eyes take in Spike's clothes, the dark demin trousers and the blood spattered shirt which fit so snugly adding to the man's sex appeal. He's not expecting Mal's next comment, his mouth dropping open at the crude implication.

"Got a fellow dignitary on board if you get my drift, our Ambassador should I say." Mal's smiles charming now, almost winning and whilst Spike seems to understand his hints and looks tickled by the suggestion-Simon isn't. In fact he's close to furious now.

Why Jayne insulted Spike as though he were a whore was obvious to Simon-jealousy, because he had paid attention to something Jayne had not and because Simon was now no longer playing Jayne's ludicrously immature mind games. Why Mal chose to do the same was beyond Simon. He believed the Captain to be a fair man, an honorable one even if it was a twisted kind of honor at times, his quick judgment of Spike didn't sit well with Simon. And the doctor had to admit, even though it was with a little shame, that the assumption that Simon had no choice but to pay for intimate company stung.

"I believe your judgment's flawed Captain," Simon's voice is soft and he straightens a little as Mal's eyes flick to him, surprise flaring briefly in them. "Spike is no more a whore then you or I; he was merely in the right place at the right time and got dragged into this comical mess with us." He paused, "And contrary to obviously popular belief, I am neither desperate enough nor useless enough to attract only with the offer of payment."

"That ain't what I meant, Simon." Mal shakes his head his tone softening as he takes in Simon's rigid form, the sudden tension in the doctor's body and hurt that flashes in his eyes. But Simon's unable to stop speaking now, the words rushing over his lips before his mind can process his thoughts and speak cautiously, calmly.

"Well it seems a popular preconception that you and Jayne share. Tell me do the others share it too? Kaylee," His eyes flick to the woman standing off to one side, relaxing a little as she shakes her head in denial. "Zoe, Wash or maybe Inara? Slyness may not be a desirable trait to most of those in the Core but I can assure you I did get offered my fair share of bedfellows and never once engaged a Companion. Spike is very attractive-"

"Much obliged pet." Spike's grinning again, looking both innocent and devilish at the same time, earning the murmured agreement from Kaylee, "Shuai,"

"As for my choice in partners, I think it's improved from my normal insane attractions don't you think-"

Simon's cut off mid rant as Spike slaps a hand on his shoulder, "Boy's right." Spike's eyes are on Mal now though his mouth twitches into a bigger smile as Simon shoots him a disgruntled look at being called 'boy.' "Can't say I've ever considered that line of work, not that much of a tart though I'm sure there are some who would disagree."

Simon can't help but feel relief rush though him as he realizes how close he came to voicing his lust for Jayne, even if it was only to look down on it. Though the crew suspect or even know in some cases, it isn't something he wants brought into the open-the subject of gossip and speculation. Especially when the volatile object of his affections is firmly denying the attraction between them.

Spike called him the 'green eyed monster'; I would say that's apt given his demeanour over the last twelve hours. He doesn't want me, yet he doesn't like it when another does. The man is confusing to say the least, uncouth and overbearing at times though strangely emotional at others- Simon shakes himself out of his own musings as Kaylee's fingers lightly rest on his arm.

"You okay Simon?" Her voice is soft, a tinge of worry and unhappiness on it that is out of place and not to Simon's liking. He cares for her greatly, though not in the way either of them had first hoped and doesn't like to see her affected by all of this-by his problems.

"I'm fine." He answers stiffly at first, as always unable to relax with others in the room. When alone with her, or even with River as added company he's lost a few of his rigidities, not enough to worry himself that he is changing from who he was but enough to enjoy each the company and to be honest to each other.

Spike's leafing through his pockets flashing money, haggling over a deal with Mal who looks not only pleased but relieved at being back on normal ground.

"No you're not." Kaylee's not letting this go, determined to drag it out in the open then let it stew just as she had with confessing his growing desire for Jayne; just as he had with her own hidden devotion-their common devotion.

"Cap's just being a pigu. Ain't no way you can't get none without payin' for it an' Jayne's just steamin' because you got yourself a fancy and tasty looking' friend 'stead of hankerin' for him."

The sincere words bring a soft smile to Simon's face, "You always know the right words, unlike myself at times."

Kaylee's smile grows a little as a happy blush stains her cheeks.

"Right, we've come to an arrangement of sorts, an' if Kaylee don't mind," Mal's looking at Kaylee now, "You'll be sortin' out a bunk for him while Simon shows him the ship. This bay is off-bounds come tomorrow as are my crew's bunks an' I mean all of my crew's bunks-" Simon tears his eyes from Mal's knowing gaze, looking down at the floor, his cheeks pink with embarrassment he misses Spike's nod, "Ain't havin' no ruckus aboard my boat."

"Well now that's settled, lets go about gettin' you in."

Simon looks up in time to catch Kaylee flashing a bright smile to Spike which appears to daze him a little. She's more then just enthusiastic at the moment and Simon has to suppress a laugh as she acts as though to take the case from Spike but runs her hands over his arms getting in a quick feel whilst she can.

"Not exactly what I had in mind when I told you to have some fun Simon, best be hoping your fun don't cause trouble here; if it does, you and me be having words-dong ma?" Mal's words are dry but Simon can hear the warning in them, he holds the Captain's gaze for a moment letting Mal search his face for the answer he thinks he needs. Trust me Mal, just this once.

Whether Mal read the unspoken plea or not, Simon isn't sure but the taller man holds his gaze only for a moment more before turning and striding out of the hold.

****

"So you boys be ready for breakfast at seven?" Kaylee's enthusiasm hasn't wavered in the short time it's taken to reach the infirmary, in fact its only grown.

"If I'm invited, Simon best be getting dressed first though, right mate?" Spike winks at Kaylee as he claps Simon on the back, turning the gesture into a one armed hug, "Wouldn't want you turning any more heads and causing your pals grief."

"I think the image of myself dressed so inappropriately is something they would want, or should want stricken from their memories." Amusement is obvious in Simon's voice as he pulls open the doors and strides over to a cabinet, hands rummaging through it in search of cream for his chafed thighs.

"Oh I don't know, some of us like looking." Kaylee's hands are folded over her chest as she beams at the both of them. "Simon's all pretty an' fancy and it ain't bad to imagine if he's got nothing on under that." She laughs as Simon hugs the coat closer, his eyes wide as he turns to look at her. "Not my kind of pretty but some of us sure do like looking at him."

"Kaylee!"

"I'm only funning with you Simon, don't take it to heart," Kaylee's still smiling but it's softer now as she notices the embarrassment stealing over Simon's face. Turning to Spike, she adds, "Simon's not one to think he's anything more then average. He knows he's got the smarts but he ain't sure about bein' shuai. He's different...thinks nothing of charging in an' saving someone even if it hurts himself, an' he's real good to River."

Simon's physically hot now, embarrassment having the full effect, keeping his head down he tries to ignore the compliments as he searches. Although he appreciates them, hearing Kaylee voice his praises makes him feel awkward, as though it is somewhat unseemly to listen and accept the compliments.

"No worries." Spike's nodding now, agreeing to the silent warnings that Simon just can't see or hear-the warnings Kaylee, despite her welcoming Spike, is subtly dropping into the conversation.

"Shiny," Kaylee's beaming again, happy at the answer Spike's given. "Well I best be going now, got to get your bunk sorted for you so's you can get ready for dinner. I mean you don't have to change or nothin' just you might not be getting' on the Cap's best side if you come to dinner all bloodied."

Simon pulls out the tube of ointment he's located and as the doctor moves over to them he gently plucks at Spike's shirt, "I should really check that out, I'd like to make sure you weren't too damaged and see about preventing infection."

Spike raises an eyebrow and sets the metal case he's been possessively holding carefully down. Simon is almost tempted to ask what's inside it but not only would it possibly annoy Spike, it would also show an appalling lack of manners.

"I heal fast and it was never more then a graze." Spike's trying to convince Simon there's no need but the doctor stands firm even though he looks ludicrous with a leather jacket, bare feet and now nitrile gloves over his hands.

"On the table please."

Simon's hands are at Spike's shirt as the man reluctantly climbs onto the table, they pause and his gaze swivels to meet the interested eyes of Kaylee. "Kaylee? Would you mind?"

His words are slightly aloof but his apologetic tone compensates and he's pleased to see the blush that covers her face as she ducks out of the room.

"I promise I'll be gentle." Simon's words are soft as he unbuttons the ruined shirt, his fingers less shaky then they were when taking it off for the first time. Even though Spike's denied the blood is his, the man strikes Simon as one who would brush off pain with ease and declare even a bullet wound as just a cut. Simon's prepared to see welts and gouges under the skin yet when he parts the shirt, the skin underneath is smooth and only marred by a vicious looking graze.

Simon doesn't even notice the breath of relief escaping him, though Spike's slight smile and the softening in his eyes shows that he has.

"Not so bad, see pet?"

"Thankfully." Simon's cleaning the graze now, taking care to be gentle although Spike's barely wincing. The graze is quite deep although scarcely bleeding which is a marvel to Simon and under normal circumstances would inflame his curiosity. But today has been a long day.

"I never did thank you for that, for helping Jayne and I."

"No thanks needed, couldn't say I'd have been happy staying there after that or leaving you in his care. Bloody great moron might be jonesing for you but that's not to say I think he'd take the most care in the world. Strikes me as the type who'd run, dragging you after him and notice only later that he's dragging a bloodied corpse." Spike's almost nonchalant in his reply but his eyes are on Simon as he speaks, a thoughtfulness in them that's becoming more frequent.

"Jayne wouldn't do that." Simon winces, his fingers pausing in their ministrations, the bandage only half stuck down on the wound. "I'm sorry, that was rude of me and in all truth you could well be right, I don't know why I bothered defending him."

Spike shrugs, "He's your pal, and there's a good possibility I'm wrong about him."

"He's not my friend, in fact we barely tolerate each other." Simon sighs as he smoothes down the tape, "That's untrue. He barely tolerates me. You obviously know how I feel and how he feels but the likelihood of us being anything more than civil is low."

"Sometimes things aren't always what they seem." Spike's pulling his shirt back on now, hiding the toned flesh beneath. The toned flesh Simon's fingers have trailed over, kissed over-it's only been a couple of hours but it feels as though their intimacy was days ago, circumstances having them act more as friends now not recent lovers.

Though it's not to say Simon's not up for a repeat or two whilst they have time together aboard; Jayne's presence he knows will add a measure of guilt and Mal's stern warning about bunks will cause complications, but something about Spike is addicting. Simon wants to talk to him, be intimate and laugh with him. It's not the kind of want and need which would lead to love but it's enticing in itself and when Spike leaves, Simon has no doubt they'll part as friends and nothing more.

So I should enjoy it whilst it lasts then, the thought is tempting and Simon knows that acting upon it will cause problems but his fingers are stroking the nape of Spike's neck on their own accord.

"Possible to hate each other and then grow out from that. Had it myself you know," Spike's leaning into the touch, "Thought he hated me an' I hated him, thought he was useless and just out to bloody taunt me when he could because he liked the power of being one up on me. Dunno what happened, weren't some magical epiphany or anything. He grew up an' I learnt to tolerate more. Looked at me from what he saw, what he judged me to be 'cos of Angelus, Darla and every other damn vam-prat that had turned his life upside down an' screwed him over."

"Xander?" Simon's sure that's who Spike's talking about, the wistfulness in his eyes having stopped his gentle stroking.

"Xander." Spike agrees, but as he speaks the name there's a smile on his lips. "Circumstances changed us. I had to adjust an' he was already doing it. Started to respect him, taught him a few moves to defend himself an' we went out for beer and pool. Wasn't till the damn preaching wanker hurt him that I started to realize what more he could mean to me."

"He was hurt before his accident?" Simon's treading cautiously now, not wanting to bring up unpleasant memories.

"Eye was gouged out." Spike's reply is short, but the loathing that crosses his face lasts longer and Simon can't help but pull his fingers away, stepping back in case his reminder has upset Spike. The loathing is still there as Spike continues although after a minute or so, it dies down as happier memories take over. "Bastard paid for doing that I can tell you. Xan an' I we had our own troubles after that, both of us going on even though we wanted to give up with the crap that happened next." Spike doesn't elaborate on the bad times merely skips to the better, "Didn't see each other for a few moths after that, was me that got to him first. Just walked into the bar he was in, saw him playing pool and asked him if he fancied again. Nearly gave him a heart attack and then the git had the cheek to ask me to buy the first round." Spike's smiling fondly now, "led to more drinks, more nights and then we sorta fell into things- did the shagging, did the friendship things then did the awkward emotional crap."

Simon's not sure what to say, how to react to what Spike's saying. The man had started out saying it to convince Simon that he and Jayne are not as unlikely as Simon believes, but his own memories have side tracked him.

Spike looks up, eyes focusing on Simon as if sensing the awkward tension, "Hey now, no getting all broody on me. Know someone who can brood for England and I don't need to see more of that."

"England?" Simon's trying to place the city, the name completely unfamiliar, Spike's words do relax him a little-throw him out of his potential brood.

"Part of what you call Earth-that-was." Spike's shrugging off the impact those words have, the mere mention of Earth-that-was. In fact he's distracting Simon from thinking about it too as he bends to run cool fingers from Simon's knee up his calf, delving into the folds of his coat to stroke at the chafed skin there.

The action has Simon's cock hardening before the Earth-that-was questions come to light, Spike's hand teasing higher and his nails lightly rubbing against Simon's sac through his boxers. To his mortification, the doctor lets out a soft moan, closing his eyes as Spike's hand slips into his boxer's to grasp the rigid flash there.

"Want me to doctor you now Simon?" Spike's voice is husky and Simon bites back a groan of regret as Spike's hand moves back down to stroke the sore skin.

"How about just getin' your ruttin' hands off of him."

The harsh proclamation isn't a question and Simon's heart plummets as he opens his eyes to see Jayne standing at the door, arms folded over his chest. The glare on the mercenary's face is full of more fury then Simon can ever remember seeing; as Spike extracts his hand from under Simon's coat, Jayne's fists tighten.

The humiliation at being caught in such a situation, at appearing so wanton, has Simon's heart racing. He can't help but look away as Jayne's eyes rest on him, shame and embarrassment equal on his face.

"You playin' at being a Biao zi now doc?" Jayne's voice is dangerously calm, loathing no longer on his face but some emotion Simon cannot identify, his fists still clenched as he moves towards Simon.

Instinctively tensing, Simon for one moment wondering if the fists will fly out at him in fury unparalleled to the normal punches and jostles he's received aboard Serenity. Standing his ground, he keeps eye contact with Jayne unsure of what to say other than the soft, "No," that leaves his lips.

"Only a bit of fun here mate." Spike's voice is silky smooth and effective at distracting Jayne. The man's eyes slip immediately from Simon to Spike, loathing returning in full force as Spike keeps speaking. "Simon's a touch saddle sore an' I can't help but offer my services in doctoring the doctor."

"That ain't no way to talk about the doc, no matter if he's sore from your ruttin'."

The disbelieved sound that leaves Simon's lips is drowned out by Spike's laugh and the doctor sinks into a chair his face in his hands. The laugh does nothing but antagonize Jayne and he lunges forward fisting Spike's shirt and shoving him hard against the wall.

"Doc ain't just some hole where you can stick it, Hwoon dahn!"

The thump jolts Simon into jumping to his feet and he's moving towards them, intent on pulling them apart even if he has to jump on Jayne's back.

But in a moment everything changes. Somehow, though Spike is just too fast for Simon to see how, Spike turns the tables on Jayne and with surprising strength and an even more astounding lack of force, has Jayne pressed face first against the same wall. Jayne's nose is bleeding as he struggles and curses but somehow Spike manages to hold him firmly against the wall.

"Think you'll find it was the other way around there." Spike's pulling Jayne's arms closer together but at his words Jayne stills, his head turning as far round as it can to get a glimpse of Simon.

"Doc?"

Jayne's amazement annoys Simon but he keeps his head high, speaking not to Jayne but to Spike, "Please let him go Spike."

The blue eyed man glances over his shoulder at Simon but doesn't question him, instead with a motion which is almost vicious, he swings Jayne around dumping the man on the floor. Moving to Simon's side, Simon misses the smirk that creeps over Spike's face as he deliberately baits the fuming Jayne.

"Jayne's leaving now, aren't you Jayne?" Simon's trying to keep his voice steady and so his words come out sounding a touch arrogant; this time he can't help but see the look of hurt that flashes across Jayne's face. Jayne's reply has him feeling hollow and confused as the man quietly speaks before leaving the infirmary without a backward glance.

"Came to apol'gise about ruinin' your pants. I'd have brought ya a new pair but seems ya got enough fancy crap onboard already. Next time I won't bother ya."

Chapter Text

Simon sincerely hopes dinner will be a more mundane affair then it has for the last two days, but somehow he doubts it. Resting his arms on the rail of the upper level cargo hold, he stares at their newest and oddest cargo to date-dogs. Puppies to be exact and more then just pedigree ones according to Mal; the eight bitches and dogs were among the rarest of breeds and highly sought amongst the Core. Hence why the owner was a tad nervous at having them transported on a Firefly; according to Zoe only Mal's reputation as a man of honour (when it came to jobs) was what convinced the owner to trust them rather then the more pricey, more unscrupulous offers.

One of the puppies yelps and Simon watches as his sister picks it up, murmuring gently to it as she cuddles it against her chest. Whatever River is saying calms the pup and Simon can't help but wonder at the positive effect their cargo is having on his disturbed sister. Not only is River the only person who can calm the pups but being amongst them is holding her nightmares at bay-she doesn't even seem to notice the pain of her healing ear infection.

Surrounded by puppies, some of which try climbing onto her crossed legs, River seems at peace as she hums a tune Simon doesn't recognize. He finds it odd in a way that she's so happy to be 'caged' inside the pups large enclosure, but she's been there for hours now. Even Mal wasn't able to convince her to move for long and hearing the howls that her leaving brought, he hurriedly manoeuvred her back into the hold.

"River?"

A soft smile plays on Simon's lips as Kaylee steps into the enclosure, moving towards his sister and muttering to her. The hand that trails over River's shoulder and gently down her arm should have Simon immediately on guard-God knows he would be if the action was by anyone but Kaylee. But the mechanic's touch is gentle, her presence obviously welcome by the joyous smile on River's face as she tilts her head up to look. The two don't speak, just sit in comfortable silence, Kaylee cross-legged and opposite River as the two stroke and pet the puppies.

Occasionally Simon notices Kaylee's hand hesitantly wander to touch River's leg, her arm, any part she can within the boundaries of appearing tactile and nothing more. He wants to tell Kaylee that River's smiles, her laughs, the way her eyes light up when Kaylee is near; they're all indications that his sister reciprocates the interest. But River's still so broken and Simon daren't let anything else hurt her; no matter how much he trusts and values Kaylee; River came first-she always comes first, the thought is fleeting, yet more determined then bitter. Never once has he felt bitter towards River, angry that he's become committed to a fugitives life-she's his sister and to Simon there's no one more important.

Kaylee comes close, Jayne....Simon shakes his head not liking where those thoughts are leading him, the last thing he wants to do is start musing over Jayne, especially with Spike still on board. And with the tension as unbearable as it is.

The first morning Spike was aboard Jayne never appeared for breakfast; Simon hadn't been too worried over it, in fact he'd been relieved after Spike and Jayne's confrontation, especially after the last words the mercenary had spoken to him. Guilt inducing words which had Simon shaking his head at himself for feeling that way about hurting the feelings of a man who'd sooner see him sold to the Alliance then aboard the ship. That had wanted them returned to the Alliance, of late Jayne's requests to Mal had dwindled that Simon had seen from himself but he expected them to start up again now.

"Penny for them."

Simon manages to bite back a yelp, startled by the husky voice in his ear. Turning to look at Spike, he catches the mischievous look before the other man can school his features into a more innocent one. Simon's noticed how stealthy Spike can be of late and whilst the man's not entered his bunk yet he has managed to be in every other off-limits place that Simon's been in.

Emerging from shadows, sloping silently into the corridors.... Simon wonders if Spike enjoys the game of cat and mouse Mal's rules have inadvertently brought about. Simon knows he enjoys it, he's never been such an exhibitionist in his life and each time Spike catches up with him he can't help but do something that makes his toes curl. Even if he feels confused and uneasy afterwards, his eyes always checking that there's no sign of Jayne.

In the infirmary Spike had caught Simon off guard whilst he was cataloguing inventory and had been down on his knees in front of him before the doctor could say hello. How Wash hadn't guessed what was going on Simon wasn't sure but he'd managed a half-hearted wave and a strangled smile to the pilot from the windows as he passed, even as Spike's mouth had teased him.

Then came the corridor, Spike's temporary bunk, the infirmary again and now the cargo hold- Simon can see it in the gleam in Spike's eyes.

"My thoughts?" Simon asks, assuming that's what Spike means. Having spent so much time with him, he's is starting to understand what Spike's odd sayings actually mean.

His eyes move from Spike down to the puppy covered women below; neither notice that he's above them, that they are now above them, which is probably good since one of them would inadvertently say something to clue Mal in. "I'm watching them. River, she's so fragile, fragmented yet strangely-" he pauses, the softly spoken words hanging in the air.

"Perceptive?"

The word is so apt, Simon can't help but glance at Spike. Spike and River had only exchanged a few words, both Mal and Simon agreeing it was better for her to remain hidden in case Spike realized who she was and decided to cash in on the Alliance reward. Simon hadn't thought it likely, but with River he had to remain guarded and vigilant. Much as he loves his sister, Simon is in no way blind when it comes to seeing her slightly freaky behaviour, and how off putting it can be.

River had other ideas. She'd accosted them in the corridor chattering insanely about powers and champions, to the stunned looking Spike.

"Not all there, away with the fairies and all that rot." Spike's speaking just as softly but observing River with thoughtful eyes as if he knows something Simon does not. But then Simon cannot see the slight flickering of River's eyes; can't see her watching them using reflections rather then turning and staring their way-whereas Spike notices.

"She has her moments, but she's really quite lucid right now. Much calmer these last two days; I remember reading something on animals and people with illnesses on the Cortex when I was much younger, but given that River tends to frighten animals when she-" Simon hesitates, then pushes himself away from the bars. He doesn't want to catch River's attention, to have her unsettle Spike as she did before. It's been a few hours since he's seen the man, courtesy of Mal's demands for an inventory and checking on River every half an hour.

"Wouldn't think the kid scares them, not given the whelps' behaviour towards her."

"She scared cows once," a smiles on Simon's lips as he remembers, "She said they weren't cows, didn't remember that they were until they looked up and saw the sky."

Spike shifts, his body pressing Simon back against the bars, holding him in place though the metal doesn't grate against Simon's back. "Bit of a poet your little sis,"

"She has a more capricious side to her too; sometimes I wonder if she can't see into them, become a part of them." Simon purses his lips, cutting off the rest of his thoughts, his ramblings on River being psychic.

Even without Simon saying the words, Spike guesses what he's thinking as though he's the psychic, not River, "Words are just words sometimes, luv. Nothing to them but that, no hidden meanings, no prophecies, just words. Your sister's smart, damn screwy an' scary too there's no doubt but doesn't mean she knows everything." His eyes drift behind Simon as his hand slips down to intertwine with the doctor's, his thumb caressing his palm. "Everyone's got secrets."

"Even you?" It's as close as Simon can come to asking, to voicing all the questions that have been burnt into his mind since meeting Spike, all the questions which were so cleverly distracted by arousal, seduction and sex.

As if true to form, Spike's mouth is at his ear taking the sensitive earlobe between his teeth and nipping it gently, "Even me, pet. Some secrets you find, other's you won't."

There's a silent warning in the last word, in the tone of it, and Simon can't help but shiver at it's dark quality. It advises caution and promises danger, but is still erotically enticing. Too curious by far Simon's almost compelled to ask, to break the silent spell that Spike has woven though the other man must sense this since his hands are now skirting Simon's body, teasing the doctor with the promise of sex on the grounds that the conversation is forgotten.

Simon can't forget. But there's no way those skilful hands are going anywhere but on him, no chance he'll open his mouth now and spoil the moment. Groaning into Spike's mouth as the blond man kisses him possessively, Simon's hands clench his buttocks kneading the toned the flesh. Their tongues engaged in a passionately dance, neither notice as first River then Kaylee with an 'eep' and blush leave the cargo hold.

Simon knows he should resist, should go back to acting the dignified fellow but Spike's kisses could make even the most icy melt. Spike pushes him back against the bar, nipping and sucking at Simon's neck and chest until he's holding on for support, his flies parting under the blond's nimble fingers. As coolness encircles his hardening cock, Simon bites back a cry and trembles against the urge to thrust forward to bury himself in Spike's mouth and take his pleasure quickly; he wants to reciprocate but Spike's fingers are massaging his balls, urging his body to do as it wishes rather than enjoy the sensations and revel in the moment.

Simon's panting now, one hand in Spike's hair as he thrusts forward into the man's mouth. His eyes open, his gazes catches the dark objects by the side of the stairwell placed strategically where no one will trip.

Jayne's weights.

Simon's heart rate jumps and he feels his cock softening as the sight of the innocuous equipment has its effect on him. The mere thought of the mercenary has him ill-at-ease and feeling sordid and soiled; it's almost as though he's cheating on a long time lover but that in itself is laughable since Simon knows Jayne wants nothing to do with him. In fact he's sure if Jayne did, it would be nothing but a quick rut to get it out the man's system.

Exhibitionist as he may be of late, the cargo hold is Jayne's second home and it almost feels like a violation for them to be in it.

"Simon?"

The question in Spike's voice has Simon groaning as he looks down to see the blond looking back up at him, Simon's barely hard cock now in his hand.

"I'm sorry," Simon can feel the blush heating his cheeks and he stammers over his next words, "I can't do this, I just don't feel right with it, with River so close-" he breaks off his sentence as he turns around seeing his sister and friend gone, his excuse gone. His hands are trembling as he buttons himself back up, the fun he hasn't minded sharing up till now tainted by the thought of Jayne. By Simon's attraction and feeling towards the man.

"No worries," Spike's grinning as he gets to his feet, commiserating Simon as he wraps an arm around him, "An' no brooding either or you'll be giving to the poof a run for his money. Told you before Simon, it's just shagging. Don't want no fancy words, declarations and I've got no expectations so you needn't worry."

Simon can't quite believe what he's hearing and is still unable to stop blushing, "You're not offended?"

Spike laughs throatily, "Not in the slightest. We had a good run, besides your bloke's getting a bit twitchy-reckon it might be time for you to do what your heart desires, then you might get what your body wants."

"You...what?" Simon's confused, at least he looks confused and more so by Spike's attitude then the heart flipping idea of approaching Jayne. "You're the most unique person I think I've ever met Spike." He finally manages to get out as Spike continues to squeeze him in a one arm hug, "And I sincerely hope you get what you want." Who you want, Simon thinks.

"I hope we both do, Simon," Spike squeezes his hand as he breaks away, "Think I better be getting back to my bunk before your bloke comes after me with one of the fancy guns he keeps waving in my direction at tea."

"That may be wise." Simon hides a smile; his stomach may be churning at the idea of actually speaking to Jayne, at 'having it out' as Spike would say, but he can't help interjecting a little light heartedness into their conversation. " Knowing River she's gone after anything that can record images and the last thing we need is Jayne seeing me naked before I see him."

****

No one else knew of his and Spike's new understanding, or of the compassion and depth that the other man could show. Perhaps if Jayne knew how Spike believes I should pursue him, Simon mused, he may not be acting like such a boar, so arrogant and graceless towards Spike.

Simon's staring down at his plate as he uses his fork to toy with the food. He's trying exceedingly hard to ignore the conversation around him despite Kaylee kicking him on the shin every few minutes to get his attention, hoping that Simon can calm the volatile atmosphere. The evening meal has turned from a tension filled, uneasy dinner to an all out contest; with both Spike and Jayne tossing innuendos and comments at each other ranging from insulting virility, to family and personal hygiene.

About ten minutes in Mal had finally got sick of saying, "No damn pissin' matches on my boat" and settled for stomping grumpily off in the direction of his bunk. Less then two minutes later Wash had steered Zoe off before the second in command fetched her pistol and blew both men "a new hole in their pigus" as she so easily threatens.

Simon bit his lip, holding in the curses as he glares across the table at Kaylee; she looks apologetic but flicks her eyes to Inara who is not looking in amused in the slightest, in fact when the Companion catches his eye Simon thinks she can see a flash of something akin to sympathy in her eyes.

"Didn't you ever hear the old saying, 'a rose by any other name, would still smell as sweet'?" Inara's voice is soft, culture and poise showing as she appears the embodiment of serenity, yet the annoyance which flashes in her eyes is clear.

Jayne snorts, "How about niou-fun still bein' shit?"

Inara purses her lips together, her appreciation of the joke not showing although Kaylee bites back a laugh. Ever the lady, Inara folds her napkin and sets it sedately by her plate, "And on that note, my appetite is gone. It was very nice to meet you...Spike." Inara pauses over his name, a grimace coming to her lips at the smirk on Jayne's face.

"Nice to meet you too ducks." The seductive smile on Spike's face doesn't inspire any jealousy in Simon at all, much as Jayne quickly glances at him to gauge his reaction.

"Good night." The words are harsh, almost as though Inara is reprimanding them all before she glides from the room, glad to be free of the joviality and rudeness.

"So is it a nickname or summit?" Kaylee's genuinely interested now as she looks at Spike, having jumped off Jayne's innuendo bandwagon.

"Yeah you named after the somethin' in your pants that's gonna lube Kaylee as she pants o'er you an' the doc?" Jayne's back on the innuendos again, openly sneering at Spike; now having realised the hilarity of Spike's name when compared to the profession that Jayne and Mal had thought he belonged to.

Kaylee's glower is as intense as Simon's now, "Jayne that ain't funny, I'm just being polite an' wonderin' is all. Not all of us got your kind of mind you know."

"His is in the gutter, don't take it too much to heart." Spike's smiling at Kaylee now, a lazy flirtatious smile that can weaken knees and Simon can just see it all starting again-can see Jayne bristling, his face set in a scowl. Jayne's comments, some of which are pure filth and too vulgar for Simon to want tooto listen to verses Spike's beguiling smiles and lazy answers; the more Jayne baits, the less Spike reacts and the crazier it drives the mercenary.

Kaylee found it funny at first, whilst Simon just found it too embarrassing especially since he was always dragged in, either through mention or kick, to the burgeoning war. River on the other hand was playing both sides. It's taken Simon a while to notice, but his little sister is definitely using her intelligence for this one, appearing to interject innocent comments and questions which ensure that the tension between Spike and Jayne remains palpable and never dissolves back down to quiet unrest.

"I like William better." River's comment is thoughtful, a sweet smile on her lips as she speaks.

That was his mei-mei, now back firmly in the land of distorted ramblings and for that Simon is relieved. Maybe now the comments will die down and they can finish dinner in a civilised manner. His eyes on River, he misses the shock on Spike's face, the narrowing of his eyes as Spike reassesses her.

"It's a lovely name River but Spike already has a name, you can't rename him." Simon speaks gently not wanting to upset her into a possible fit; he remembers the time she rewrote the Shepherd's bible and renamed all of Wash's dinosaurs- he'd dealt with two very unhappy men for over a week.

River rolls her eyes at him as if knowing something he doesn't or perhaps being superior to him but Simon's used to it River perfected that look before she hit puberty.

"Means protector, boy's name from the Earth-that-was, Champions, name from Earth-that-was." River's voice is lilting as if about to recite a poem or Haiku, "Only fitting."

Throwing Spike a contrite look, Simon notices the uneasy frown on his face and hastens to assure him, "She doesn't mean it. You won't wake up with the name tattooed across your forehead." As Wash had found on all his dinosaurs. "I can assure you."

"Sounds like a sissy kinda name to me." Jayne's apparently disgusted by the idea, sneering into his drinking cup as though its left a bad taste in his mouth.

"Jayne's a girl's name." River's response is automatic and bland as it can be but Simon is sure he can see a glimmer of mischief in her eyes and he groans audibly; the noise is drowned out in part by Spike and Kaylee's laughter and in part by the crash of Jayne's fist, as the man slams it onto the table.

"I told you once an' I'm telling' ya again, I ain't named after no girl or got the gorram parts to match. An' I can prove it, told yer I'd damn well show you what parts I got if she went an' started this go se again!" Jayne's indignation is visible and Simon's shaking his head in amused disbelief,

"There's being crude and then there's you. Jayne, congratulations, I've lost my appetite too." Simon looks around the table, from Jayne's angry face with the hands on his flies to disprove what River's saying, to both Kaylee and Spike who swallow their laughter and smoother their smiles.

"She's besmirching my name, doc." There's a whine to Jayne's voice that has Simon barely able to keep his composure, the smile threatening at the corner of his mouth.

"River," Simon's looking at his sister now. She is the picture of innocence, her head turning towards him as if curious but Simon can see what she's trying to do, whipping up the animosity between Jayne and Spike, though for what reason Simon's not sure. The obvious, that she dislikes Jayne, seems redundant now given that River's playing both men equally off against each other. Perhaps she finds humour in it, Simon thinks clearing his voice before he speaks and standing up.

"River I can assure as Jayne's physician, I've had to stitch him up, treat his wounds and focus on keeping him, along with every other person aboard this ship, in good health. That said I'm sure I don't need to elaborate when I can quite clearly state, with some emphasis, that Jayne is not a girl and has no hint of any female parts anywhere." Simon's blushing now, unable to meet anyone's eyes but River's though his peripheral vision tells him that Jayne's nodding.

"Which I hope satisfies every one's curiosity and stops us having to witness the insanity bringing image of Jayne proving it himself."

The blush is deeper now since Simon's having vivid mental images of Jayne in the infirmary, with no top on, with no trousers on and with no underwear on when the mercenary just wasn't sure what the rash was. At the time, he'd been more focused on doing his job, now he was more focused on other things.

And damn if River isn't laughing at him, silently laughing but it's still laughing and Simon's just grasped why. Having a sister who can read minds doesn't always lead to the most ideal of situations as Simon's suddenly perceiving. He sinks back down to his chair, unable to hold back the sigh as Jayne finds something else to laugh about.

"I best be packing."

Simon looks up, startled by the sudden change in conversation and Spike, ignoring all Jayne's remarks and motions, fixes his gaze on Simon.

"Packing?" He feels stupid the moment he says it and groans inwardly at the look of amusement on Spike's face.

"Packing the rest of my gear. Didn't unpack much but your pal," Spike thumbs the direction Mal's gone, "Said we're only an hour or so from Helios and much as I'd love to stay and chat, Angel will be waiting for me."

"Angel-" Jayne's laugh is cut off with a cry as River indiscreetly kicks him under the table, her long legs supple and easily reaching their mark. "Gorramit River-girl!"

Spike throws her a grin as he stands up, "Cheers kid, next time make it a bit higher yeah?" His eyes swivel to Simon's along with everyone else's as he carelessly adds, "See you in the hold in an hour Simon? Got something to ask you before I leave, might be something you want to consider if things don't pan out here."

He offers Simon a wink, everyone's eyes on the doctor as their expressions range from uncertainty (River) to horror (Kaylee) and anger (most definitely Jayne). Only Simon watches Spike saunter from the room, a thoughtful look settling over his face. He knows Spike means nothing by the comment and from one quick glance around guesses that Spike is ingeniously playing them all-attempting to force Jayne's hand or possibly even Simon's own into denying it, denying he'd ever consider leaving Serenity for Spike.

Evil as it may have been and devilish as it is, Simon has no intention of reassuring anyone. Instead he leaves them all to ponder, slipping from his seat with a soft, "Excuse me." as he follows Spike.

Spike's not got that much of a head start but Simon pauses in the corridor, unsure what he's waiting for. No that's a fallacy, he knows what he's waiting for but he's not sure he'll get what he hopes. Instead of chasing after Spike, he's leaning against the wall hoping the Jayne will come after him, will stop him.

He's too far from the dining area to hear the drama unfolding there; his heart beating erratically Simon's trying to get his stomach under control as it churns wildly at the thought of what could happen.

Starting to have doubts, Simon can't see the look of fury on Jayne's face as he spits out his belief to Kaylee,

"No way." Jayne's fists are clenched as he stands up, barely able to restrain his own ire at her opinion.

Kaylee's reassurances fall on death ears as River fuels Jayne's fears; whether she is genuine or rambling the man doesn't know but River's words are enough to strike him cold, and he freezes listening to her wails as Kaylee tries to comfort and calm her.

"Bao bei, shhh, its okay Simon ain't never gonna leave you." Kaylee's stroking her hair and holding her still as she writhes.

"It hurts, he hurts. He's going to take Simon, take him away where blood runs red and the darkness comes. Stealing him if Simon says yes, he'll make a kitten such a pretty kitten but it won't be Simon!"

Something flares in Jayne's, something close to primal that quiets River and has her whimpering in Kaylee's arms, "Choo fay wuh suh luh," the mercenary growls before turning on his heel and striding from the room.

So taken aback Kaylee doesn't notice the faint smile on River's lips, she just holds her tightly whilst her hands stroke her back, hoping that what River speaks of will never happen.

****

"You ain't leavin'"

So deeply entrapped in his own musings and paranoia Simon is startled by the barely growled out words. He blinks in confusion, then inches to one side, looking past Jayne to the empty corridor either side of him, "Excuse me?"

"I said you ain't leavin', we've go unfinished business you an' me." Jayne's glowering now, arms folded over his chest as he attempts to stare Simon down.

The whole conversation throws Simon a little, but regardless of the confusion he feels a small fission of excitement unfurl in his belly as he wonders if what unfinished business. His mouth is dry and a queasy feeling is settling in his stomach but Simon forces the word out. "Business?"

Jayne's nodding now but Simon can see a panicked look in his eyes, as if the merc has the sudden urge to bolt and it disheartens him. Had he known Jayne has the urge to throw Simon over his shoulder and lock him up in his bunk till Spike leaves, Simon would not have been so.

"I see." Jayne's still not elaborating and the sinking feeling in Simon's chest is only increasing. He can't believe how upset he feels at the simple knowledge that Jayne can't or won't ask him to stay. "Well tempting as your silence is to consider, I'll bear your apparent loathing of me up against Spike's generous offer-whatever it may be."

Sidestepping past Jayne, Simon is in no way prepared when the mercenary pushes him against the wall, one leg parting Simon's and trapping him firmly there.

"Chur ni-duh Simon for makin' me say this." Jayne is scowling now, the expression not the only thing holding Simon in place, much as he wants to walk away. Jayne's hand is on his shoulder, it has been squeezing but now it is caressing almost as though soothing the skin in case it has been bruised.

Blue eyes lock as the men stare at each other; Simon trying to understand Jayne's meaning, dejection and hope both confusing him as he does but Jayne's expression is unreadable, an odd emotion that Simon can't place shining in his eyes.

"I ain't funnin' with you now, you gotta believe me on that but I ain't good with all them fancy words an' that." Jayne pauses, "So I ain't gonna say much but I ain't after no quick rut with you just to even the score, that ain't me an' it won't be you neither. But fancy and pretty? Not me, can't do that stuff an' can't understand it."

Simon swallows hard readying himself for the rejection he knows is about to happen; he wants to say something, maybe joke and lighten the tense atmosphere or put in some quick comment that will have Jayne snapping at him again. He'd rather the snappish, annoying man that was quick to insult rather than one who's publicly turned him down.

"Look at me Simon."

Jayne's words are harsh, but as Simon looks up he catches the fleeting worry in them and he realises Jayne's just as anxious as he is, maybe even just as nervous and unsure. It's this that keeps the doctor's eyes on Jayne, keeps his attention from being purposefully diverted and stops Simon making the biggest mistake by saying the wrong thing. So for once, Simon Tam keeps quiet.

And it's worth it.

Softly, Jayne presses his lips on Simon's, the warmth of them the only thing that shocks Simon out of his astonishment. Hesitantly Jayne pulls back as a look of wonderment sweeps across Simon's face and spurned on by that the man leans in for another kiss, this one longer and deeper then before. Closing his eyes Simon melts into the kiss, uncertainty making for hesitant exploration as he massages Jayne's tongue with his own. The nervousness is short lived though as Jayne's also seems to fade, the other man deepening the kiss as his hand cups Simon's jaw.

Simon gasps softly as Jayne grinds up against him splaying him between the man and the wall, his body aching but his mind no longer confused. This is who he wants, Jayne's always been who he wants and Jayne's always been the one who can have him-it's just taken the merc a while to realize what he wants for himself.

Breaking off the kiss, Jayne gives him a stern look. "You know this means, you ain't goin' nowhere right? Or do I have to shackle ya up in my bunk?"

The blush that alights on Simon's face is nothing in comparison to the cock hardening against Jayne's leg but instead of replying he follows Jayne's example and leans forward, claiming Jayne's mouth in a deep kiss that has both men hardening. Exhibitionist as he may have been with Spike, and passionate as his responses were, they pale somewhat in comparison to Simon's response to Jayne.

Usually more reserved Simon can't understand what brings out such wanton behaviour in him. Jayne touches and caresses are masterful, as though the man is skilled at the art of seduction, but Simon himself has been schooled into proper and seemly behaviour from such a young age and should be able to resist. Jayne's kisses are more tender then he ever expected, the reality better then dreaming.

Jayne's voice, his scent and manner it all drives Simon to distraction, almost to the brink of insanity; actually having him now, in his arms or albeit being in Jayne's arms, isn't so much like scratching an itch or closing a book-it's like opening one at the beginning and starting anew.

Chapter Text

"I still like William better."

River's voice is almost sulky, her lips pouting as she grips Spike's arm. Leaning against him, she lays her head on his chest listening to the nothing heshe knows she will find.

"If you like poncy names." Spike's not minding what she likes or doesn't; he finds her fascinating, more so then even Dru had been. Insane as her ramblings are, there have been half truths and realities murmured forth which only Spike understands, which he knows were meant for his benefit.

Despite her apparent fragility he senses something lurking beneath the surface, a dark grace and beauty that he can appreciate. Someday he believes her trembling hands, however innocent now, will have men kneeling at her feet. Not in lust, but in supplication.

"Sad to leave?"

River's staring at him now and Spike shakes his head meaning every word, "No, too old for that now love."

"Made me shake all thoughts of taking Simon in your head, naughty to scare me so." River's tone is accusatory as she glowers up at him, but seconds later a sly smile takes its place, "Got Jayne moving, stubborn stupid man almost losing Simon."

Spike nods fully in agreement with her, "Can't say I disagree with the last one but you shouldn't worry about the first; he'll never leave you, you know that. Thinks the world of you he does, can see in his eyes the boy will go through heaven and hell and damn near anywhere else to keep you safe." There's a wistful look in Spike's eyes as he remembers another time, another person so eerily similar to Simon in that manner.

River's not talking now, only looking up at his with those ever knowing eyes. They burn into his soul, stoking his own guilt and reminding him that yes, for a brief moment Spike did consider making the offer to Simon-asking the boy to come with him, rather than remain where he might never be appreciated. In some ways because of this Spike is glad his trip is over, that he's reached Angel's latest home rather than continue being enticed by the possibility of maybe.

He supposes he's lucky Simon stopped it where he did, the doctor's guilt and emotion forestalling any kind of bond forming between them. Tempting as it has been, and Spike hasn't been so tempted in a long while, Spike's still waiting and hoping he'll get his mate back-his Xander.

It's been well over six hundred years but the ache is still there, the desperate need and want all tied up in love and regret; for a brief moment being with Simon has numbed the pain but it never truly went away, never really goes away for Spike. He can only hope that one day he'll redeem himself enough to get a glimmer of hope, the possibility of Xander coming back be it reincarnated or as he was.

"Protector." River's voice is soft, completive and Spike looks down at her his mind no longer focused on his love. "Never shanshu and always fighting but one day again the white knight will fight with you. Have eternity, watching stars be born."

She pushes away from him and spins gracefully in a circle before pirouetting and collapsing gently into his arms, expecting him to catch her even before he moves to.

"You reckon, luv?" Spike's voice is husky as he stares into her dark eyes, seeing nothing but the reflection of himself in them. He can't bring himself to say any more, too afraid she could just be picking up on his desires not reality.

She places a finger to his lips, "The Angel stumbles, the poet falls and the white knight and his golden girl pick them up." Her finger strokes up his cheek and had Spike not been holding her tightly he would have dropped her at the shiver her touch provoked.

"Not here, not now, but soon." With a move even the most flexible would admire, River slips out of his arms. She stares out through the open cargo hold doors, into the darkness beyond. "Try to help, come here. Can't be an Angel when you've forgotten how to fly." she whispers, the words so soft only Spike can hear them-just Spike and Angel that is.

Spike can scent his Sire on the wind as it blows into the hold, Angel obviously drawn by curiosity and suspicion alike to check out Helios' newest arrival.

"Masochistic and ironic." River's chin juts out, her head held high as her piercing gaze stares out into the darkness.

Spike knows Angel will hear her but whether the Vampire takes notice is another matter. Spike has to agree with River, Angel newest choice of locale was not only named after the ancient Greek God of the sun (Which is a travesty to those with sunlight issues) but it was aptly so, the planet of Helios's only having four hours a day without sunlight. Wonder how the ponce lasted five months, Spike can't help but speculate; having no intention of remaining on such a boring and hazardous planet, his new aim is to get Angel away from it.

To knock about for a bit, stir up some trouble and help the helpless, or hopeless as Spike saw them. The poof won't be thrilled to see him at first, in fact Spike can already hear the growls and teeth grinds from outside; probably spends all his time moping in dark corners or whipping himself, Spike smirks at the thought. Well that will change now, he'll do his bloody best to wind Angel up because an irate Sire is definitely more fun then a depressed one. Besides maybe, just maybe Spike will let him in on what River has just told him.

"Wakey, wakey."

Spike starts as River waves a hand in front of his face, giggling wildly. His eyes flick up to the small gathering of people around him, taking in each one as he does. Admittedly only Mal and Kaylee are there since the others he has had little contact with and Mal, Spike's sure, is only there as a courtesy-Captain to passenger.

Nodding to Mal, Spike notes the look of relief in the man's eyes and wonders briefly if Mal sensed the tension and animosity, not only between himself and Jayne but between Mal and Spike; hostility that Spike has felt towards a man who looks uncannily like the one who hurt his lover. He's not surprised the Captain's happy to see him go, adding into that Spike's unique brand of 'messing with his crew'.

"Take care, won't ya?" Kaylee doesn't settle for a nod or smile, she runs right up to Spike and hugs him tightly; her hands getting in one last grope, she winks at him before pulling away, her arms now full over an over exuberant River.

But Spike's not paying attention he can hear footsteps approaching, two sets, and one remarkably heavier then the other as Simon and Jayne enter the hold together, the scent of the two permeating the air a second before they appear. A grin springs to Spike's lips as he catches the unmistakable tang of arousal, the grin only widening as Jayne moves closer to Simon, his hand almost on the doctor's back as if drawing him closer as they walk up to Spike.

Much as Spike's enjoyed the bantering and insults with Jayne, he's glad to see they haven't put the man off, instead they've had the desired effect and brought him closer to Simon; the mercenary now stating a rather possessive claim by laying a hand on Simon's hip as they stop.

Simon's blushing hotly, making Spike wish he could kiss those delectable pink lips one last time as Simon's tongue nervously wets them. "Spike, I'm sorry to see you go so soon."

Spike can't help but smirk at the scowl that forms on Jayne's lips, but as if guessing the expression of the man behind him Simon moves closer and Spike notices his hand rest against Jayne's leg, squeezing the flesh there.

"Same here, pet." Spike's grinning cheekily now, determined to leave the ship in style just the way he came on and knowing exactly how to do it- in a manner that will save Simon's blushes and awkward goodbyes.

"One for the road then."One smooth step forward and his mouth is on Simon's, claiming a quick, hot kiss before Spike pulls away. The doctor looks dazed, his finger moving to touch his lips as the blush returns in full force.

The sputtering, glaring man next to Simon clenches his fists, diverting Spike's attention and only River's cool comment calms him; her soft tone speaking words, which soothe Jayne's ego as well as his pride.

"Jayne...means victorious."

The smug smile on Jayne's face collapses into a pout as River nonchalantly adds, "Even if it is a girl's name."

The laugh that bubbles from Spike's lips is involuntary and from Jayne's expression the man is seriously close to gutting him, or at least maiming. In for a penny in for a pound, Spike thinks as he takes a step closer to Jayne, the man's glare only wavering slightly.

"Bollocks to it, how about two for the road?"

Spike emphasizes his words as he grabs Jayne's shirt pulling him into a searing kiss. His tongue teases Jayne's mouth before he pulls back relishing the dazed look upon Jayne's face. Not half bad, Spike licks his lips before tossing Mal a smirk, "Cheers mate, catch you later!"

"Not if I see you first."

As he strides from the ship, into the warm night air Spike catches Mal's muttered reply and half turns, throwing the Captain a wicked smile before glancing back at Jayne and Simon. Jayne's arm is around Simon's waist as he murmurs to him and Spike can't resist one last parting comment to keep Jayne on his toes as he disappears into the night.

"Keep your bunk warm for me luv, been a while since I've had a threesome."