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Out in the black ain't nothing so much as time

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There is no night and day on Serenity, but they still keep to a regular cycle, arbitrary though it may be, a time to sleep, a time to be awake. At this hour, most everyone is in their quarters, if not their beds. So it's unlikely that anyone will catch Simon loitering by the ladder that leads down to the captain's bunk. He hopes not anyway. That would require him to explain, and he's not sure himself what he's doing.

It's not as if anything Jayne says can be trusted.


Two nights ago, Simon was in the infirmary, inventorying supplies, because sleep wouldn't come, and at least this was something useful to do with unwanted wakefulness. All the while, he'd been replaying the conversation with the captain. Maybe you can find a place here. The last thing Simon had expected to hear, and he still couldn't account for it.

He'd thought he was alone, the only one still up, but then Jayne's bulk filled the infirmary's doorway. "I see you're gettin' all comfortable in here."

Simon stopped counting weaves. "The captain did offer me a place on the crew."

Jayne snorted. "Oh, I just bet he did."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Simon asked, frowning.

"Gets lonely out in the black. Cap'n has an eye for a pretty mouth," Jayne said matter-of-factly.

Simon must have looked as shocked as he felt, because Jayne laughed.

"What? You think he's gonna take in fugees out of the goodness of his heart? You want a place here, it's got to be earned. That's just the way it is. Doctoring alone ain't gonna do it."

"Are you saying the captain requires his crew to—?" A rather harrowing thought crossed his mind. "Did he— with you?

Jayne shook his head. "See, now, I ain't much to look on. Not like you. Or, hey, that sister of yours."

Simon took a step toward him, fists clenched tightly at his sides. "Don't even think about—"

Jayne held up his hands. "Ain't me you got to worry about, doc. It's the captain. Might be best you go on and offer up your own self before he comes sniffin' around and fixin' his eye on little sis." He clapped Simon on the back. "Just thought I should tell you what's what, us bein' crew and all now."

Simon stewed about it for days, watching the captain whenever he could get away with it. He'd never seen the least glimmer of expectation. The captain certainly hadn't intimated anything when they'd spoken, but that just brought Simon back to the original question: Why would he let them stay? Why would he risk so much for two fugitives he didn't even particularly like?


It's this uncertainty that has brought him to the captain's door. He can't honestly imagine that Mal would take advantage of a disturbed teenaged girl, but then he wouldn't have predicted he'd extort sexual favors from his crew either. There have already been enough failures of protection where River is concerned. Simon won't take any chances now.

He doesn't announce himself. He just goes, the rungs of the ladder cold beneath his bare feet. Mal is sitting at his desk, a pile of paperwork in front of him. He stills at the sight of Simon, his expression unreadable. Simon just stands there, tongue-tied, feeling uncomfortably under-dressed in his sleep pants and T-shirt. He tries not to think how much more exposed he'll be in a matter of moments.

The captain takes his time before speaking. "I've got to think there's a powerful urgent medical emergency at hand. 'Cause if somebody ain't slipped poison into my protein and you've come runnin' with the antidote, then you and me have a problem, doctor."

"I, uh—" he stumbles over the words, the muscles working in his throat. "The thing is that I want to stay on Serenity, and I'm willing to do what it takes." Mal doesn't appear any more enlightened by this, and Simon adds, "Jayne explained it to me."

Mal raises an eyebrow. "Jayne did?"

"I understand that we have to— but not River— Not that I think you would— Anyway, that's why I'm here. I'll be the one— earning our place."

Mal frowns. "I don't have any notion—" Then his face lights with understanding. "Oh, earning your place." He shakes his head. "About that, doc—"

"I've thought about what you said, and it will be safer for us to stay on the move. So if this is what it takes—"

"That shagua Jayne. What I'm trying to tell you is—"

"I'll do anything you want," Simon blurts out.

At the same time, the captain says, "You don't have to—" He stops and gives Simon an appraising look. "Anything, huh?"

Simon swallows hard and nods.

"All right then, doctor," the captains claps his hands together, "why don't you take your clothes off?"

It's the obvious next step, and yet Simon still manages to be startled by the request. "You mean, you want me to— right now?"

Mal shrugs. "You're the one who said anything. But if you didn't really mean it—"

"No, no," Simon says quickly. "I— Okay."

Simon grasps the hem of his shirt, and nervousness kicks his senses into such a state of hyper awareness it's as if he can feel each individual thread. He pulls off the shirt and drops it at his feet. It's not cool in Mal's room, but Simon shivers anyway. The urge to wrap his arms around himself is nearly overpowering.

Mal doesn't say anything. He just watches, his expression even more shuttered than usual. Simon undoes the drawstring of his sleep pants. His hands never shake when he has someone's life in them, but now they're not nearly so steady. His pants drop to his ankles, and he pushes down his underwear and steps out of them.

Simon can barely breathe, and his skin has gone from cold to disturbingly hot in a matter of moments. He's not used to being looked at, not like this, so he doesn't expect that it will feel so much like being touched, like Mal's hands are all over him, even though he's standing three feet away. Simon's knees go watery, and heat flares in the pit of his stomach. There's a sizzle of surprise in discovering how arousing it is to stand naked in front of someone else.

Mal doesn't do anything for what feels like forever. When he does finally move, it's unhurried, almost nonchalant. He comes close, and then closer still, and then he's right there, nothing but thin molecules separating them. He tips up Simon's chin like he's going to kiss him, and Simon tries to just go with it. He's never been much good at this kind of thing, though, and he jumps skittishly at the touch of Mal's breath against his lips.

Mal pulls away a little and gives Simon a scrutinizing look. "You ain't gonna be much good earning your place if you flinch when I go to touch you. Might get the notion you're not as willing as you make out."

"No, it's not—"

Thinking too much has always gotten in Simon's way, so for once he just acts. He grabs fistfuls of the captain's shirt and draws him in, presses their mouths together. Mal surprises him by not taking charge, and someone has to obviously, so it's up to Simon. He parts his lips and runs his tongue along Mal's lower lip, tentatively at first, and then more boldly when Mal doesn't express any complaints.

There should be disappointment in every touch. All the fairytales Simon has tried to spin about some hidden noble streak in the captain's nature are disproved a little more with each kiss. But Mal smells of manly things, leather and gun oil and sweat, and he tastes just the faintest bit of whisky. His shirt feels soft against Simon's bare chest, but the fabric of his pants is rougher, and the contrast is a tease to his skin.

Mal starts to kiss back eventually, and it occurs to Simon then that arousal has levels upon levels upon levels. He groans softly and drives forward, Mal's belt digging into his belly. Mal puts his hands on Simon's ass, fingers curling in, catching at flesh. Simon is already achingly hard, and when Mal thrusts a knee between his thighs, the fabric rubbing against his erection makes him suck in his breath and squeeze his eyes shut. Sheer willpower alone keeps him from coming.

It's the hair trigger response of a puberty-stricken boy, and Simon's face burns with embarrassment. "I don't— have much experience," he finds himself stammering out the awkward truth.

Mal's gaze drifts downwards, taking in the effect their closeness is having on Simon's body. "Exactly how virginal are we talking?"

"I've kissed people," Simon answers defensively.

Mal raises an eyebrow.

"Do you know how hard I had to study to get into Medacad?" he says almost angrily. "And it's not like my workload eased once I was there, and then being a trauma surgeon—" He mumbles the rest, "There just wasn't any time."

"And you think now would be a good way to start?" Mal runs his hands over Simon's body.

Simon's skin feels impossibly hot everywhere Mal touches him. "I want us to stay on Serenity, River and I." It sounds strangely like an excuse for something that's entirely the truth.

"And you'll do anything. So you tell me." Mal gets a speculative look. "I guess you'd best get me naked then."

Simon draws in a shaky breath as he fumbles with the buttons of Mal's shirt. He feels warmth and the firmness of muscle and Mal's chest rising and falling beneath his hands. He pushes the suspenders down Mal's arms, slips the shirt off his shoulders and lets it fall. Mal's body reads like a history of violence, a long, raised scar from a knife wound along one side, the telltale pucker from a bullet to the shoulder, a fairly ghastly mark from an incision to his abdomen that makes Simon want to hunt down the butcher of a surgeon responsible for it. Simon starts tracing the jagged white lines with his fingers, a physician's instinct, and then he presses his lips along the same path his hands just traveled, an impulse of a different sort.

Mal cups the back of Simon's head, thumb moving in circles against his neck, sending shivers down Simon's back. Simon pops the buttons on Mal's pants, fingers trembling as if he's never held a scalpel in his life. His knuckles brush Mal's cock, already hard, through his underwear, and he takes a breath and pushes the clothes down Mal's legs. Mal pulls his boots off and steps out of his pants and kicks them away.

There's nothing in the way now, and Simon can feel the heat of Mal's skin even before they're actually touching. Staring at Mal's body makes Simon blush, but that doesn't keep him from doing it. Mal's legs are long, strongly muscled. There's a tattoo on his hip that makes him seem all the more naked somehow, and Simon itches to touch it, to draw its dark, inky shape with his finger. Mal's cock seems to appreciate Simon's gaze, because it's standing at full attention, darkly flushed, wet at the tip. Beautiful. That's what flashes through Simon's head, and he's startled to realize it's not the first time he's thought this about a man. He has to wonder if maybe busyness hasn't been the only thing holding him back from sex.

Mal pulls Simon close, and whatever remains of Simon's outrage that the captain would demand this as his due slips sideways in the kiss of their skin. Mal's erection nudges wetly at his hip. Mal's fingers press into his shoulder blades, deep and hard enough that Simon imagines fingerprints left behind. Mal wears a little smile, quizzical and challenging at the same time, like he's waiting to see what Simon will do next. Simon slides his hands into Mal's hair and pulls him into a kiss, not at all gently, licking desperately at his lips until Mal opens up for him.

When Mal pulls away, it's to string kisses up Simon's neck and along his jaw. "If I take you into my bed, I'll mean to fuck you." His breath tickles hotly against Simon's ear.

Simon surges against him, kissing urgently, fingers dragging over Mal's biceps. It's not the response he would have predicted from himself, but then he had no idea anything could feel like this, the feverish press of flesh, the air burning in his lungs.

"Simon, Simon." Mal's hands close over his shoulders, but Simon doesn't want to be pushed away, and he strains forward for another kiss. "Hold on." Mal is breathing heavily. "I gotta tell you,. It ain't never a good idea to go bartering your body."

Simon blinks. "What? But you—"

Mal shakes his head. "I really shouldn't ought to played that trick on you about Kaylee. It's gone and given Jayne the idea that you're free to make sport with."

"I don't understand—"

"Like I told before," Mal's tone is unexpectedly gentle, "you ain't known me long enough to understand my ways. I don't take nobody into my bed, not man nor woman, who don't want to be there."

"But what's all this—" Simon gestures with his hand at their nakedness.

"Wanted to see how far you'd go for your place on Serenity. Man's on your crew, best to have an idea about his limits." Mal smiles softly. "Seems I found out some other points of interest while I was at it."

Simon feels his face go hot, all the way up to his hairline. "You're a psychopath, do you know that?" He looks around wildly for his clothes, and starts to grab them up.

"Been told that before." Mal's hand flies out, latches onto Simon's arm, and hauls him in. "I don't take nobody who ain't willing into my bed, but you don't seem all that set against the notion." He strokes a hand over Simon's hip, stares down at Simon's erection that isn't any less interested now than it was before this was just another cruel joke. "Out here in the black, a man ain't got nothing so much as time. Might as well spend it getting a little experience."

He bends his head and pushes his mouth against Simon's before Simon can make any answer. Their bodies slide together, and any thought Simon has about pulling away goes right out of his head. He kisses Mal back, puts his arms around him, brushes his fingers in the soft hair at the nape of Mal's neck.

"You're a hundan, you realize that," Simon says when they break the kiss.

Mal grins. "I reckon you're right about that. So," he strokes Simon's hair back from his face, his thumb trailing lightly along Simon's cheek, "you want to bed with me? It'll just be what it is. No presuming. No complications."

"No complications," Simon murmurs. On a ship as small as this, that seems like the wildest sort of wishful thinking, but apparently he doesn't mind all that much. He cups Mal's jaw in his hand and kisses him again.

"I'm gonna take that as a yes." Simon can feel Mal's smile against his lips.

Mal strokes his hand over Simon's hip, thumb pressing into the hollow of bone, and his fingers brush Simon's erection. Just the lightest, barest touch, and Simon sucks in his breath embarrassingly loudly. Mal curves his palm around Simon's cock, tightening his grasp, moving slowly, up and down.

"Oh God," Simon whimpers. Having someone else's hand on him feels so different than when he does this for himself, by orders of magnitude.

Mal rubs at the underside of his cock with his thumb, and Simon's eyes fly shut, and he starts to shake. "Not going to last if you—"

"You're not going to last, period," Mal sinks to his knees, "what with never being touched before and all." Mal licks the length of Simon's cock, making him shake even harder. "I'm right disappointed in the initiative of those folks on Osiris, I have to tell you, doctor." He smiles up at Simon. "Would have thought some enterprising nurse would have shoved you into a supply closet and done this a long time ago."

He bends his head and goes down, and all Simon can manage is to tighten his fingers around Mal's shoulders, squeeze his eyes shut and thrust once, twice, three times into Mal's mouth before he comes.

Mal nurses him through the last of his orgasm, pulls back and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. He looks decidedly pleased with himself. Simon pulls at his arm, urging him up, and when they kiss, he can taste himself in Mal's mouth.

"Let me—" He runs a finger tentatively along the length of Mal' cock. It's hot and slick and alive, and Simon licks his hand, wraps it around, gives a little squeeze. Mal murmurs approvingly, and Simon gets more adventurous, doing to Mal the things he's always liked himself.

Mal leans in, his breath coming in warm puffs against Simon's cheek. "Bed. I'm an old man."

Simon sinks down onto the bunk, and Mal lies on top of him. The weight of a body pressing him into the mattress makes him moan with unexpected pleasure. He spreads his legs, and Mal's cock slides against his, and he moans louder.

It doesn't seem to matter that he's already touched Mal. Now that they're in bed together, shyness settles over him. "Is it all right—" He strokes a hand questioningly along Mal's side.

Mal kisses his neck. "Anything you want, wherever your urges take you."

Simon moves his hands over Mal's body, exploring, hard muscle of his back, flat planes of his stomach, curve of his ass. He strings kisses over Mal's chest, licks at his nipples, smiles at the way this makes Mal gasp.

Mal kisses him and thrusts against him, and Simon makes an uncivilized noise in the back of his throat. He's already getting hard again. "You said you meant to fuck me if you bedded me." The invitation just sort of tumbles out of him.

Mal stills, draws his thumb in a ruminative line along Simon's cheek. "You don't have to."

"No, " Simon smiles softly. "I don't."

He puts a hand to Mal's shoulder, moving him back so he can turn over onto his stomach. He spreads his legs, feeling uncharacteristically wanton. Mal reaches for something, and there's the soft rasp of a lid being unscrewed, and then a cool, wet touch along the crease of Simon's ass. Mal presses a kiss to the small of Simon's back and then opens him up with his fingers. Simon wraps his arms around the pillow and pushes back into the touch and can't help the broken little noises that stream out of him.

Mal stretches out along his back and kisses his neck. "Okay?"

Simon nods, and then there's pressure and the burning sense of being filled that's just this side of pain. The irony that Simon had to come to the back end of nowhere to finally have this doesn't elude him, but it's only a fleeting thought, quickly lost in the riot of sensation.

Mal pulls out, just a little, and pushes back in. Simon's breath hitches, and Mal smoothes a hand along his side. He thrusts again, and something is different this time, the angle or the depth, because it suddenly feels as if Simon's being lit up from the inside. He moans and lifts himself up onto his elbows and pushes back into the next thrust.

"Simon." Mal's voice is a throaty rasp.

Mal pulls Simon up onto his knees, reaches around to jerk his cock, fucking him deeper and harder. Simon drops his head down and shoves his hips back onto Mal's cock and then forward into Mal's fist. He manages it once, twice, sweating stinging his eyes, and then he's trembling and coming apart. Everything spirals away. He's only dimly aware of Mal gripping his hips and choking off a cry as he comes a few moments later. Afterwards, Simon sinks down onto the bed, feeling more languorous than he has in his life. Mal flops down beside him, one arm flung casually across Simon's body, the other curved around his head on the pillow. He strokes Simon's hair; it's gentleness that Simon wouldn't have expected, but then the captain is nothing if not surprising.

Simon lies there quietly. The rush of his own breath, the slowing thud of his heart sound very large.

"I should go," he says after a while.

Mal's hand stills from its stroking, just for a moment, then starts up again. "I expect that's so."

Simon lingers a little longer, the newfound experience of skin against skin not something he's all that eager to give up. At last, though, he forces himself up and pulls his clothes back on. Mal turns onto his side to watch, and the way he looks makes Simon's mouth go dry, all sprawling and rumpled from sex. Sex that he had with Simon, who is not remotely virginal anymore.

He leans down to kiss Mal on the cheek.

Mal gives him a stern look. "No complications."

"Of course not," Simon says neutrally.

He has one hand on the rungs of the ladder when the captain calls after him, "Not that we shouldn't put the spare time we've got on our hands to good use on occasion."

Simon smiles back over his shoulder. "Naturally."

He's still smiling when he steps off the ladder onto the deck. He turns toward his own quarters and nearly runs headlong into Jayne, who's apparently just come from the mess, a mug of tea in one hand, snack in the other.

"Doc." His expression freezes, lightning struck with disbelief.

Simon nods. "Jayne."

He continues on down the corridor. He can feel Jayne watching him as he goes, can almost hear the hamster wheels turning in Jayne's head as he tries to figure out if what he just saw means what he thinks it does.

Simon smiles all the way back to his room.

shagua - idiot
hundan - son of a bitch