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Awaiting Serenity

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Simon is aware that this is far from the most ideal situation they've ever found themselves in.

Honestly, there's not a lot about life these days that could be considered ideal. Ideal is a long time ago and a long way away, before Serenity and before River went away, though he supposes he views that time on Osiris through the same rose-tinted glasses that everyone sees their home. He remembers fitting in, and not feeling like a well-dressed misfit. Now he supposes he fits in with them a little better than expected, because this place, this party, is not somewhere he can see himself. Not any longer. It's a strange and somewhat harsh reality to face.

Jayne, of course, doesn't fit in here; then again, he's not trying to, because that's precisely the point of his presence. Jayne's his escort for the evening, and gentlemen don't take gentlemen to this kind of affair - they take the kind of man that Jayne is. The captain offered his services but they all knew he didn't fit the part. Jayne is taller and broader and rougher and when they explained to him the part they intended him to play, he blushed and coughed and looked anywhere but at Simon, and he tried to act like it didn't rattle him. It did. He got flustered. Simon, privately, thinks maybe this whole fiasco might have been worth it just for that.

They spent the evening drinking wine and chatting with the other guests, acting the right way (Simon's still not sure Jayne knows how to act any differently), convincing their host that their presence (invited, respectability backed up by Inara) wasn't cause for alarm. Simon made pretty small talk while Jayne fidgeted and scuffed his toes against the floor and ate what was probably too many of the circling hors d'oeuvres. Jayne tried very hard not to look ill at ease on the couch when Simon patted his thigh with a more than usual degree of familiarity, as though this was not at all unusual for the two of them when it was precisely the opposite. Then they stole the medical data that they'd come for from the study - or at least copied it and left the original where it was in the hope the theft wouldn't be found - and made their hasty escape back into the party.

Of course, now they're waiting for Serenity. Which seems apt, given their respective lives at present. They have an expensive room in an expensive hotel, which was provided by the client in whose employ they find themselves, and Jayne keeps glancing at him as he sits there on the couch, jiggling both legs restlessly. Simon understands, and he tries to ignore him. Of course, as large as the room is, especially given the size of their quarters on Serenity, it's hard for them to avoid each other.

The problem is, of course, what they had to do to be convincing. They'd underestimated the commitment required to pull it off. And, for once, Jayne absolutely couldn't blast his way out of the issue. A well-placed hand on a thigh as they sat together hadn't been enough. Simon's mouth by Jayne's ear as he murmured absolutely nothing just with a smile hadn't been enough, or a hand at the small of Jayne's back. They'd had to kiss in a not very secluded alcove to get the point across. Simon can recall the scratch of Jayne's beard against his jaw and Jayne's hands squeezing at his hips. He can recall his own fingers curling at the nape of Jayne's neck, and the warmth of as he leaned up against him. It would be vastly simpler if he couldn't, to be honest.

"Those folks tonight all thought we were..." Jayne says, at last, once he's cleared his throat six or seven times.

Simon nods. "Yes, well, that was the point," he replies. "They were meant to think we were."

"But you and me, we don't..." Jayne says. He glances at him, winces, then looks away.

Simon nods again. "That's right, we don't," he replies.

"But back there..."

"But back there what?"

"It seemed like you were kinda enjoying it."

"I just know my way around places like that."

"So you've been there before?"

"Not there precisely."

"But places like there, right?"

"Yes," he says, like he's admitting more than he'd like to. "Once or twice."

"You think we'll need to go back?"

Simon raises his brows. "Do you want to go back?"

The expression on Jayne's face when he looks at him says yes; the fact he says nothing says he doesn't know how to put that desire into words. And it's not that Jayne minds how he's finding out Simon likes men, that much is obvious. Jayne just minds that he didn't know.

He'd never thought about Jayne like that before tonight, at least not really. He's too big and too coarse and too foul-mouthed, and he's usually smeared with gun oil that Simon really wouldn't want to get onto his clothes, or on his skin. But they dressed Jayne up a lot like him, in a suit that's not available in a camouflage print, and Inara made sure he scrubbed the grease from underneath his fingernails. He's not charming the way the captain is, but there's something about him. And ever since Ariel, he's been so desperate to please.

While Simon was talking to their host, Jayne stood by. When their host's partner slipped one arm around his shoulders, Jayne moved, too; he stepped up close behind Simon, moved closer, moved closer, set his hands at his hips and his chest to Simon's back. It maybe looked casual, as if they'd done exactly that a hundred times before, but the fact is Simon knew they hadn't. When he leaned back against him, that was the very first time. He didn't intend to make a habit of it, but he had to admit it felt good. And when Jayne leaned down to nuzzle Simon's neck, and Simon smiled where Jayne couldn't see it, it had almost felt real, just for a moment. Just for a moment, he didn't mind.

Simon rises. Jayne watches. Simon shrugs off his jacket and he goes to him; he runs his hand over Jayne's short hair and ordinarily he'd expect a flinch, and a curse, and maybe some kind of threat, but he doesn't flinch. He just looks up at him, almost like it's the first time he's seeing him.

"They're going to ask how it went," Simon says. "The captain. The others."

"What are you going to tell them?"

"I'll say the job was successful."

"That's it?"

"That's it."

He almost expects Jayne to sweep him off his feet, but when Simon sits down astride his lap on the sofa, still fully clothed excepting his jacket, Jayne doesn't make a move at all except to skim Simon's thighs with his rough palms.

This can't happen again once they leave this planet, and not just because Jayne will have greasy hands and more firearms than a man can sensibly carry instead of this expensive suit he's not quite hiding in. Except Simon wonders if maybe he'd mind having smudges on his skin, around his wrists, across his abdomen. It's been so long and when Jayne's hands rise to settle at his hips, they feel so warm even through his clothing. It's a dangerous thought, and he knows that.

The data on the disk they've stolen might contain some kind of clue to River's condition, in addition to the formula to cure an epidemic on the planet's nearby moon-based mine. Those are the only reasons he's here tonight, but he figures why not make the most of it? He kisses him. And, not to be outdone, Jayne cups his backside with both hands.

So, they're waiting for Serenity. Honestly, Simon things it might be a long time coming; honestly, the way things are tonight, he doesn't mind.