Mal couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen snow. It had to have been before the war. Maybe during the war, but at that point he’d been thinking about everything that wasn’t the weather. If he’d seen snow on the battlefield, he couldn’t remember.
He watched as Tracey’s family cried over the body of their loved one, as his crew mourned the loss of someone they barely knew, save Zoe. He watched as Simon took Kaylee’s hand and comforted her. He wasn’t jealous, not really, but there was a little voice inside, telling him how right that was. How right Simon and Kaylee looked together, and how hurt Kaylee would be if she knew the truth.
He couldn’t think about that right now, though. He turned his thoughts back to the body in front of him. The stupid ex-solider who’d gotten himself killed, not that Mal hadn’t helped him along at all. He knew it wasn’t Tracey’s fault, not really. Some people just couldn’t cut it, but it made it easier for Mal to blame him. It was always easier to blame someone.
Even when that someone was lying dead in front of him right now.
They were back in the air. Mal had been relieved when they’d finally gotten away from the family of his old friend. It wasn’t that he wasn’t upset by Tracey’s death, quite the opposite, but he didn’t feel like showing it around so many people, regardless of how they were all feeling the same way. Hell, he didn’t feel like showing it in front of his own self.
He was back down in his bunk, pretending to do some sort of work, filling out paperwork, searching out contacts, anything to keep his mind busy, when he heard the door snap open and someone start down the ladder. He knew who it was. There was no question.
He knew the sound of those steps coming down the ladder. He’d heard them every night for a month.
Mal didn’t look up or turn his head.
“You should go back to Kaylee. She needs you right now.”
“I don’t want to go back to Kaylee,” Simon kept walking toward Mal.
“I didn’t ask if you wanted to. I told you that you should, so go.”
Mal turned around to look at Simon. He hadn’t been crying. He wouldn’t let himself, but looked like he might break any second now. Simon hated seeing him that way. It made him look so weak, and he knew that Mal wasn’t weak, not by any means.
“I’m not going anywhere.”
Mal stared him down. He wasn’t angry, but it was easier to vent his emotions that way, than to get upset.
Simon stood in front of Mal.
“You need to talk to someone, Mal. So talk to me.”
“I don’t need to talk to anyone. I need you to leave.”
“Well, I’m not.”
Simon had to be stubborn. Mal knew he should be used to it, and usually he was, but he wasn’t in the mood for dealing with it right now.
“Doc, get out.”
“Oh, it’s ‘Doc’ again? I thought we were long past that,” Simon went to lay back on the bed, “I’m not leaving, so you can either sit over there and sulk or you can come over here and talk to me. It’s up to you.”
Mal ignored him and turned back to his work. Or at least pretended to turn back to his work. He couldn’t concentrate, and not just because Simon was lying in his bed waiting for him, which usually would be reason enough for him to say to hell with the work.
Tonight it wasn’t.
Neither said anything for a long while. Mal didn’t want to talk about it, and as much as Simon wanted Mal to talk about, he wasn’t going to force him.
“Okay, you win,” Simon stood up, “If you need anything, I’ll be in my room.” Mal was too stubborn, and even though Simon wasn’t exactly not stubborn, he wasn’t going to do this. Not now.
He was almost up the ladder and out the door when Mal finally spoke up.
Simon stopped but didn’t come back down. “What?”
Simon sighed. This wasn’t what he wanted. He hadn’t come here for anything more than to get Mal to talk, but he found himself going back down the ladder anyway. When he turned around, Mal was already standing right behind him.
“Mal, this isn’t what I--”
Mal cut him off by kissing him harshly. It was easier to pour everything into Simon than it was to actually talk about it. He knew this wasn’t what Simon wanted, but right now he was thinking about what he needed and nothing else.
Simon didn’t pull away. He couldn’t. He didn’t think it was the best idea, but when Mal was kissing him, he never really paid much mind to anything that might be considered logical. It became about kissing Mal and nothing else.
Mal started pulling Simon toward the bed. Everything inside Simon screamed this wasn’t the right time, but when did he ever listen to that voice around Mal? If he’d listened to that voice, this never would have started in the first place.
Simon didn’t realized he’d been pulled onto the bed until Mal was rolling over on top of him, working on the buttons of his shirt. The voice inside his head got louder. He couldn’t ignore it.
“Now? I’m kind of in the middle of something,” the words were barely a whisper and Simon could feel Mal’s breath on his neck.
He wanted to say never mind. He wanted to say keep going. He wanted Mal. But he knew he shouldn’t, not now. Not like this.
“Mal, I’m serious.”
Mal groaned and rolled off Simon to lie on his back. He knew Simon wanted to talk, but he didn’t want to talk. There was nothing much to talk about, not really. Someone had died, someone he knew, yes. Someone he, in part, felt responsible to, but it happened. People died, everyone died, and it wasn’t nothing to dwell on.
Even if he was doing the least bit of dwellin’.
“Ain’t nothin’ to talk about. I know you think there is, but there ain’t.”
Simon didn’t believe him, but he knew what Mal was like. He wasn’t going to push. Maybe in the morning, but it had been a long day. He couldn’t push tonight. He moved over on the bed so he could drape his arm around Mal.
Tomorrow was another day though. Tomorrow all bets were off.