White Flag

by Rachel Lee Arlington

White Flag

"Hold him -- just -- hold!" Mal yells as he sprawls through the galley hatchway, thrown off the shoving, swearing tangle of people trying to subdue Jayne.

"We have him sir," Zoe cries in triumph as she and Wash manage to muffle both of Jayne's fists under their arms and Book swings a piece of cargo rope around the mercenary's shoulders.

Jayne thrusts hard to one side, smashing Wash against the corridor bulkhead and stunning him, then shaking Book off like an irritating fly while sweeping Zoe's feet out from under her and depositing her in a sudden heap beside her dazed husband.

"We don't have him," Zoe amends, as Jayne launches himself through the galley hatch after Mal.

"Jayne, listen to me," Mal implores, one hand extended in a placating gesture while he backs speedily away. "You don't know it, but you're doped up on something' that's making you crazy -- well, crazier, anyhow."

"I'm gonna kill you, little man," Jayne snarls, still advancing as Mal fetches up against one of the galley chairs. "I'm gonna rip your guts out and wrap'em round your throat and yank ... "

"Yeah, okay," Mal shrugs. "But first -- "

Mal swings the chair up by its back rail, slamming it into Jayne hard enough to knock the bigger man clean off his feet. Before Jayne has a chance to do anything more than roll onto his back, Mal grips the chair two-handed and jabs down, catching Jayne on the side of the head and knocking him out.

"Okay," Zoe observes, pushing the dark mass of her hair back from her shoulders as she limps down the galley steps. "Now he's poisoned and concussed."

Mal drops the chair in wry dismay.

Cut to

"What happened?" Simon demands, as Mal, Zoe, Wash, and Book, each struggling with one corner of a still unconsciousness Jayne, drag their burden into the medical bay.

"He took some of the local fun powder and I had to hit him with a chair," Mal explains, grimacing as the four of them manage to heave Jayne, one limb at a time, onto one of the medcots.

Simon flicks a look of dark disapproval at the captain before moving to examine his patient. Jayne is stirring, his brow twisting into an intense frown.

Simon peels a small square of transparent tape off a backing sheet and presses it briefly to a bloody graze on Jayne's knuckles, then returns it to its backing and studies the color change taking place.

"Beta toxin," he announces.

Mal and Zoe exchange a startled glance.

"You know it?" Simon prompts, gathering a hypodermic gun and several vials.

"Yeah," Zoe admits, still looking at Mal. "Soldiers use it in combat ... it keeps you going ... keeps you ... "

"Keeps you killing," Mal supplies.

"Well, he's had enough to blow every vein in his body if I don't get his adrenalin levels down," Simon mutters, pressing a vial into the cartridge space of the hypodermic gun.

Jayne's eyes snap open, his pupils hugely dilated, turning his gaze into a black pit. One broad hand flashes out, knocking the hypo out of Simon's grip before closing around the young doctor's throat. Simon thrashes desperately, clawing at Jayne's implacable grip. Wash cries out, his hands around Jayne's wrist, trying to tear him off Simon while Mal and Book try to stop Jayne from sitting up.

Zoe bends, a swift graceful lunge from the hips, and scoops the hypo off the floor, pushing the nozzle against the bulging muscle of Jayne's upper arm and clicking the trigger. Jayne snarls, shifting his attention to Zoe for one heart stopping second before his eyes roll up and he drops back on the headrest, his hand sliding from Simon's throat and dropping to hang limply off the side of the medcot.

Simon coughs, gasping for air and massaging his abused throat.

"Restraints," he manages, after swallowing painfully.

"Got it," Mal nods sharply, he and Zoe and Wash hastily binding Jayne to the medcot with thick black straps.

"That sedative gonna keep him down?" Wash asks anxiously as Jayne's powerful body flexes.

"Should be enough to keep a mule down," Book returns, apparently drawing again on his oddly assorted store of knowledge.

Jayne manages to hoist his head off the medcot and crank his scary black eyes open again, baring his teeth in a bloodthirsty snarl.

"Then I guess Jayne ain't a mule," Mal observes. "All appearances to the contrary."

"Wash -- Captain!" Kaylee's voice echoes over the tinny intercom. "You guys better get up here -- we've got trouble!"

Mal glances toward Simon; Simon nods firmly.

"Go -- I'll do what I can for him."

Cut to

Simon, alone with Jayne in the medical bay, stumbles and clutches the edge of the medcot to steady himself as Serenity shudders. Jayne thrashes, the black restraint straps straining across his chest and biceps.

"It's okay, no one's going to hurt you," Simon soothes shakily, leaning over to examine the row of diagnostic patches taped to the whipcord veins inside Jayne's elbow.

Jayne snarls, trying fruitlessly to lunge at Simon. Simon backs off, eyes wide with alarm. Jayne convulses again, and this time the straps holding his right wrist and upper arm give way.

Cut to

Inara and River, crouched in a velvet and silk draped corner of Inara's shuttle, duck their heads as another shudder shakes Serenity. Suddenly River looks up, eyes huge with dismay.

"Fire with fire, Simon," she urges, shaking her head in anxious denial.

Cut to

Simon hits the bulkhead of the medical bay hard, then falls forward onto his hands and knees. Jayne, still tethered to the medcot by one wrist, scrabbles feverishly through the instrument tray at his elbow, snatches up a scalpel. Simon cries out, lifting one arm across his face in a pointless gesture of defense.

"With fire Simon!" River screams, ignoring Inara's desperate attempt to soothe her. "Stand down soldier! Stand -- "

" -- down!" Simon roars, getting one foot under him, then the other.

Jayne blinks, confused.

"That's an order," Simon yells, thrusting up onto his feet, steadying himself with one hand against the bulkhead as Serenity lurches, drops, then rights herself again.

Jayne staggers, shakes his head uncertainly.

Simon pushes away from the wall, grabs up the hypo gun from the spilled equipment on the bench, and strides toward Jayne.

Jayne snarls, but backs up a step, against the edge of the medcot.

"Stand," Simon spits, swinging the hypo up at arm's length.

Jayne jerks his head to one side, exhaling hard, his face twisting in a grimace of pain.

Simon levels the hypo gun at Jayne's chest.

Jayne, eyes narrowed, shoulders and chest working as he struggles to breath, stares at Simon for a long long beat, then drops his gaze to the hypo nozzle pressed against the khaki gray cotton of his tee shirt in time to see Simon click the trigger.

Cut to

"What the hell happened down here?" Mal implores, stepping over the debris in the doorway of the medical bay and gazing around at the smashed and scattered equipment, the overturned medcot, and Jayne lying motionless on the floor.

"This looks worse than the cockpit," Zoe observes cheerfully, picking her way through the chaos.

"Eh -- looks like you had your own battle Doc," Wash grins from the threshold.

Cut to

Simon arranges instruments neatly on a metal tray, then glances around the restored order of the medical bay with weary satisfaction.

"Hey ... Doc," Jayne husks from the doorway.

Simon turns, surveying his patient from head to foot and back up again.

"How are you feeling?"

"Shiny 'n' new," Jayne smirks, though the slump of his wide shoulders and the redness rimming his eyes belies his optimism.

"Come on in, I can give you something for the hangover," Simon remarks as he returns his attention to his supplies.

"Well ... okay ... not that I need it or anything," Jayne shrugs, dipping his close-cropped head a little as he steps through the hatch.

"I'll give you a neocortin patch," Simon goes on, setting a tray with a couple of crystalline paper wrappers on it down on the medcot and positioning a chair at one side.

"Okay ... I do feel a little ... fried," Jayne admits, sitting down in the chair.

Silently Simon opens a swab; standing over Jayne, he lifts the short sleeve of the other man's tee shirt and cleans a patch of tanned shoulder.

"I could have killed you," Jayne announces, somewhat redundantly.

"Yes, I did get that," Simon observes blandly, placing the derma patch to his satisfaction on Jayne's skin.

"So why didn't you just lock me up an' let me rave?" Jayne prods, watching Simon's slender fingers smoothing the patch into position.

"Without continuous monitoring, a large dose of beta toxin can be fatal," Simon returns. "You needed medical attention -- I'm a doctor."

Jayne lifts his gaze, frowning as he considers the delicate dark line of Simon's profile.

"You've got guts, Doc," he murmurs.

Simon glances down at Jayne, the corner of his mouth creasing in acknowledgment of the compliment.

"Pretty eyes, too," Jayne adds.

Simon freezes, his expression hardening. He pushes back, gathering up the wraps and other debris from the instrument tray and taking them to the disposal. He turns back, steeling himself to meet the mocking disdain he expects to see twisting Jayne's features.

Jayne is hanging his head, weaving his thick fingers together, and whistling soundlessly through pursed lips. Feeling Simon's gaze, he looks up, forehead creasing.

"Sorry," Jayne offers shortly.

Simon, still wary, doesn't answer at once.

"What do you want?" Simon demands at last.

"I don't know," Jayne admits, then, his eyes narrowing and his face settling into its accustomed expression of suppressed anger, "Nothin'."

Simon comes forward to take away the instrument tray, but he's distracted and not watching where he's stepping. The toe of his shoe fouls on the formidable obstacle of Jayne's outstretched boot. Simon stumbles, tilting into Jayne's zone as he puts one hand down on the edge of the couch to steady himself. Jayne's hands snake round him, fingers spread across Simon's left hip and around Simon's right wrist. Simon looks down into Jayne's upturned face.

Maybe Simon's been on Serenity too long ... maybe his day in day out terror has become blunted by habit ... maybe he misses the sharp cut of adrenalin. Or maybe Jayne is staring up at him, charcoal gray eyes wide and lips parted.

Simon leans a little more, reducing the space between their faces to less than a foot. Jayne makes a small noise deep in his throat.

Maybe Simon has a death wish ... or maybe it's because Jayne isn't doing anything -- anything -- to force the issue, just clutching Simon and breathing in shallow hoarse breaks and waiting.

Simon bends down, bringing his mouth to within a breath of Jayne's. Jayne's fingers flex on Simon's wrist; Simon feels the bones grind against each other.

"Alright," Simon breathes, as he dips his head the last inch and presses his mouth against the incongruously soft flesh of Jayne's lips.

Jayne cries out, a hoarse bark of triumph that gets muffled as both men push hard against the kiss, Simon's slender hands splaying along the rough sand-bristled skin of Jayne's jaw, Jayne's big hands sliding between Simon's vest and shirt, learning the taper and flare of Simon's torso. Simon shifts his weight, straddling Jayne's spread legs and sitting down on him, Jayne bucking under him as Simon settles against Jayne's impossible to miss erection.

"Yeah, come on, come on," Jayne urges feverishly as Simon breaks from their kiss, clawing Jayne's khaki gray tee shirt off and over Jayne's head, flinging it away before plunging his own head to mouth greedily at the knot of muscle between Jayne's neck and shoulder.

"Simon," Jayne growls, both wide hands hooked over Simon's shoulders, pulling him down hard into Jayne's lap.

The raw, defenseless need in Jayne's voice lifts Simon's head again, makes him grin arrogantly into the other man's face. The slide and squeeze of Jayne's hands down Simon's spine and around his ass makes Simon forget about the sudden shift of power and remember how good Jayne's mouth tastes.

"Get up," Simon instructs between kisses.

"I already -- "

"Stand up," Simon amends, slithering out Jayne's lap but maintaining contact between them with hands and mouth and then, as Jayne obeys, with hips.

Jayne is leaning forward, trying to press as much of his body as possible against Simon's slender frame; Simon's leaning back, trying to open up enough space between them to get to Jayne's belt buckle. They've got some momentum and very little control; the instrument tray goes over with a crash and they stumble together, fetch up hard against the wall with Jayne pinning Simon against the bulkhead, fingers buried in Simon's dark hair, mouth fastened on Simon's lips, while Simon heaves his hips against Jayne's to throw the other man off enough to get Jayne's pants open.

"Yeah -- sweet -- sweet," Jayne gasps against Simon's mouth as Simon finally gets both hands inside Jayne's open fly.

"Yes, yes," Simon hisses, arching his spine away from the bulkhead behind him as Jayne cups both broad hands under Simon's ass and tenses, ready to lift him.

"Jayne! What the -- " Mal cries from the doorway, frozen by the sight of the two men grappling with each other, but readying himself to spring.

"Oh r-- "

"I -- "

Jayne pulls back from Simon even as Simon shoves him off, both men panting hard, Simon turning his head away while Jayne looks from Simon to Mal in stunned disbelief.

"What the -- " Mal repeats, outrage giving way to confusion as he registers the vast brown expanse of Jayne's bare chest, and Simon's flushed cheeks and rumpled hair.

"What the ... " Mal finishes, mouth curling in a slow grin as Jayne finally ducks his head in embarrassment at the same moment that Simon turns his face towards Mal and meets his gaze defiantly.

"So ... I guess I don't hafta worry about you two killin' each other anymore," Mal gloats.

Jayne and Simon glance at each other.

"I guess not," Jayne allows quietly.

"Well then, that's all kinds of good," Mal announces with heartfelt satisfaction. For another long beat he stands there, watching the two men avoiding each others' eyes.

"An' ... don't let me intrude," Mal goads, trying to suppress his insistent grin. "You jus' go right back to ... it," he finishes, throwing a last amused glance over his shoulder as he turns and leaves.

The silence between Jayne and Simon lasts long enough for them to hear the distant peal of Mal's laughter.

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