Jayne doesn’t know what to say the first time it happens. It’s one of those nights where he just can’t sleep. He’s trying to, gorramit, but it just don’t work. Finally, when he’s almost on the brink of sleep, he hears his door open and someone climb down the rungs.
“What the hell?” he says sitting up, feeling the cold air form goose bumps on his chest.
“It’s just me,” Simon mumbles quietly.
Jayne reaches out and turns the light in his bunk on. Simon is standing in the middle of the room and he looks kinda small and helpless. Hell he’s been looking like that the last 3 months. Ever since River was shot.
The first week Simon didn’t speak and the rest of the crew practically had to force-feed him. He looks small and alone and cold and Jayne can’t help thinking that maybe it would have been kinder if he’d died with his crazy sister.
“Yeah? So what?” Jayne asks, trying not to sound too pissed.
“It’s just…” the boy starts shuffling his feet and shivering slightly. He’s only wearing sleep pants.
“Can’t sleep?” Jayne asks, remembering how his Ma would always ask that if she found him up at night.
“Cold,” Simon answers. He takes a few more steps toward Jayne’s bed. Stops and stands there fiddling with a loose thread on his pants.
“Yeah…so what do you want?” This makes Simon go over to Jayne’s bed and sit down. Up close, Jayne can tell the doc hasn't slept well these past few months. His skin ain’t just pale anymore it’s white and his blue eyes seem blurred somehow.
“Please,” Simon whispers looking down at his own hands. Jayne just looks at him. “Please can I sleep here?”
Jayne can’t believe what he’s hearing; it’s not the words, not what they mean, it’s the way the kid says them, like a wounded desperate animal. Like he’s weak and no matter what Jayne has thought about Simon in the past, he always knew he wasn’t weak.
Jayne just can’t stand it. He pushed back on the bed and makes room for Simon. He lifts the blanket up and Simon climbs in. His skin is cold, so cold that Jayne can’t help thinking about the way little River had felt when Jayne carried her back to the ship. Her thin arms lifelessly hanging down.
Jayne pulls Simon close to warm him. And Simon falls asleep.
Next day Simon seems to be doing better. He still doesn’t say much and he still eats too little but at least he is eating.
Jayne is sleeping when he feels Simon slip into his embrace, later that night, and fall asleep. Jayne doesn’t mind.
This goes on for a month. They don’t talk about it. But one morning, at breakfast, when the Captain says something about Simon looking better, Simon looks directly into Jayne’s eyes and smiles a little sad smile.
That night things change. Simon comes to Jayne’s bed just like the other nights only this time he bends down and kisses Jayne before climbing in.
Jayne wants to tell that little shit that he ain’t into that kinda thing. He thinks about kicking him out of the bed - but he doesn’t. He just wraps his arms around Simon a little tighter and Simon leans into Jayne’s warmth a little more than usual.
Simon starts doing the things he used to do. Cleaning up the infirmary and making lists of things they need. He laughs at dinner, something he hasn’t done for a while and he jokes about Jayne being a man-ape and Jayne doesn’t mind cause he’s just happy that Simon is laughing. He still makes sure to look a little angry just for old times sake.
Simon sleeps in Jayne’s bunk every night but always makes sure to be back in his own room before anybody else is up.
Simon dreams sometimes…those are the nights Jayne hates. He just can’t stand the pain etched in every muscle of Simon’s body. He cries and mumbles in his sleep and moves around and Jayne just wants him to stop, to sleep, so he turns Simon around so they face each other and he whispers to Simon.
Tells him about that time River was suppose to cook for the crew and made chili so strong Mal ended up in the infirmary. Or the time she decided that clothes was too much of a bother and walked around in her birthday suit. Simon smiles and falls asleep, his face close to Jayne’s.
Jayne starts having trouble falling asleep when Simon goes back to his room in the morning, so he gets up and it doesn’t take long for them to start eating breakfast together in the quiet galley.
Jayne soon discovers that Simon eats more when it’s just the two of them and finds a quiet pleasure in seeing that he’s starting to look more like old Simon.
Jayne's sure the Captain doesn’t know about their little arrangement.
As for the rest of the crew…well Kaylee sure as hell doesn’t know, Book hasn’t been around cause he’s off somewhere praying or something, Wash doesn’t know, Jayne’s sure about that because he hasn’t joked about it, Inara is too wrapped up in fighting with Mal and that just leaves Zoe.
Now Zoe he’s sure knows something. She’s been looking at him funny and a little scary.
But nothing’s going on. It’s not like him and Simon are doing anything.
But that soon changes.
One night, no different than the others Simon starts caressing Jayne’s arm. They always sleep spooned up against each other, Simon’s back against Jayne’s chest with Jayne’s arm around Simon’s waist. Just because there isn’t much room in Jayne's bunk.
But this night Simon caresses his arm. Fingers moving in soothing circles up and down Jayne’s arm. Simon turns around so he’s facing Jayne and Jayne has to move a little to make room.
“Don’t,” Simon says.
“Don’t move away,” he answers. So Jayne doesn’t. Simon’s hand moves from his arm to his chest and then...well, then all kinds of things happen.
It’s all a blur really: hands, lips, wet, warm, slick, smooth, shivering and wanting…needing.
The rest of the crew start noticing, mostly because Simon changes.
He has a new purpose. Now that River doesn’t need him…wont ever need him again…Simon has found a new purpose. Jayne.
In the beginning it’s because of Jayne he eats, sleeps and works. But then it changes and he does it for the both of them. Simon and Jayne.
And the crew seem surprised by Simon’s newfound energy.
Until one day at dinnertime, Jayne walks in and sees Simon stand by the sink getting a glass of water. He walks over to him and leans into his warmth and rests his hand on the small of Simon’s back. It’s a simple gesture but it speaks volumes.
He knows that the rest of the crew’s watching them and Jayne doesn’t care. Something that surprises even him. He's found a new purpose just like Simon.