"You're a stubborn sonuvabitch."
"Go to hell."
Mal grit his teeth to keep from snapping back. He'd damn well promised himself to hold his tongue when he'd set out from the relative shelter of the small cave. His frustration wasn't helped by the fact that Simon was soaked to the bone and obviously cold, judging by the frequent shivers and the way his arms were crossed tightly over his chest.
Idiot won't even look at me, Mal thought with irritation.
Instead of arguing, Mal took a firm hold of Simon's shoulders and half-dragged, half-shoved the doc back to the only patch of dryness for miles. The doc made plenty of noise but Mal took it all with an eyeroll and making himself focus on the notion that having a sick doctor would not be a shiny situation.
"Be glad I'm ignorin' the garbage spillin' past those pretty lips, Doc," Mal growled once they'd reached the cave. He stooped to move into the tiny area – it was more an indent in the canyon rock face than an actual cave – and yanked Simon in after him. Ignoring the sudden silence that followed his last statement, Mal focused on undoing his shirt buttons and shucking the soaked material.
Eventually Simon followed his example and half-turned to get out of his shirt.
Mal picked up his coat, left behind to stay dry when he'd gone to retrieve Simon. He glanced at the doc before sitting against the wall farthest from the opening.
Simon lay his shirt as flat as possible on what little dry ground they had. He remained standing, bent forward a bit to keep his head from hitting the ceiling. He looked lost and exhausted, much different than the fiery anger that he'd exhibited an hour earlier.
"For Chrissake, sit your lily-white ass down," Mal snapped, patience worn thin.
Simon looked startled but obeyed. He was tense, obviously holding himself so that their shoulders didn't dare touch. Mal bit back a groan of irritation and instead scooted over, plenty close enough to feel the vibration of Simon's continued shivers.
Muttering curses under his breath, Mal tossed his coat over both of them and maneuvered so that he could get an arm around Simon's back.
A few minutes later, Simon asked, "What are you doing?"
Mal leaned his head against Simon's and snorted inelegantly. "What d'you think?"
Simon's lips parted but it took a moment for words to come. "I... Why now?"
Mal closed his eyes wearily. "I don't do courtin', it's cold, we're alone 'til mornin', an' it's about damn time."
Simon said nothing, but as the minutes passed, he began to relax. His hand slid onto Mal's knee under the coat.
"Okay," he murmured.
Mal's lips twitched toward a smile.