Process of Elimination

by Sonya

[Story Headers]

Simon stood in the infirmary, his back to the door, fingers toying distractedly with three tiny vials of medicine that lay before him on the counter. They clinked softly as they bumped into each other, though Simon hardly noticed. His mind was far away on the other side of Reaver space, where an Alliance fleet undoubtedly waited for them.

Not for the first time, Simon found himself wondering if he was doing the right thing. His need to protect his sister was at odds with his desire to keep from placing everyone else in danger. He told himself that they'd been in danger from the first moment he and River set foot aboard this ship, but it did nothing to ease his conscience. After all, knowing that you were putting someone in danger in theory was entirely different from seeing the fact of it staring up at you from behind the sightless eyes of a man you once called friend. The blood of innocents was on his head, and he didn't think he was strong enough to carry that weight. He wasn't a man of war; he couldn't rationalize death away as a necessary evil. He couldn't forget their faces. And he couldn't stop himself from thinking of all the faces he'd never seen, except on a tiny view screen in the ship's cockpit. People who'd been guilty only of associating with Captain Reynolds. They'd had nothing to do with Simon and his sister, but it seemed that the Alliance couldn't be bothered to make such fine distinctions.

Yet, if he had it all to do over again, would he choose to do it any differently? His sister was free and as close to being whole again as she was ever likely to get. That was worth dying for, and, if he was being honest with himself, it was worth killing for, too. So perhaps he was more a soldier than he would like to believe. The thought was both disturbing and empowering at the same time.

"Hey, Doc. You wanted to see me?"

The unexpected voice caused Simon to jump, the vials clanking together loudly and almost rolling off the counter. He moved to catch them, but a pair of large hands beat him to it.

"Careful! Who knows how much this stuff costs?"

The voice was so close to his ear that Simon couldn't stop a shiver from working its way down his spine.

"Once this thing goes down, I reckon we'll be needin' every scrap'a currency we can rustle up."

Jayne placed the vials back on the counter, far away from the edge, and shoved his hands into his front pockets, rocking back lightly on his feet. Simon expected the mercenary to take a step or two backwards now that the vials weren't in danger of falling, but the man didn't move another inch. Simon forced himself to ignore the invasion of his personal space, chocking it up to another one of Jayne's juvenile games of petty one-upmanship, and turned to the counter. He picked up one of the vials and turned back to face Jayne, holding it out expectantly.

After a long moment, during which his face remained inscrutable, Jayne reached out a hand, his fingers brushing against Simon's in a way that felt a little too deliberate for comfort. The touch lasted longer than necessary, but before Simon could bring himself to say something about it, Jayne took the vial and looked down at it curiously.

"What's this?"

"A morphine overdose. The rest of the crew already have theirs."

He didn't have to say what it was for.

"And them?" Jayne nodded toward the two remaining vials.

"One for me; one for River." Simon was surprised by how calm and steady his voice sounded while he spoke of killing his own sister. The very thought went against everything he'd ever believed in, and yet he knew she'd rather be dead than back in the hands of the Alliance. Or worse, the Reavers.

Jayne studied the vial for a moment, before handing it back. "Thanks, but no thanks, Doc."

Simon took it back, confused. "Are you sure that's wise? What if-"

Jayne stopped him mid-sentence with a quick, decisive shake of his head. "Don't need it." He patted the gun strapped to his thigh. "If Reavers come callin', I got my own solution."

Simon swallowed, fingering the vial in his hands for a moment. "I see. Well, then I guess I called you here for nothing."

"Guess so," came the gruff reply.

Their business finished, Simon nodded his thanks and waited for Jayne to leave so he could get back to work, but the mercenary didn't seem all that inclined to acquiesce to his unspoken wish. After a long moment spent staring down at the vial of morphine, while Jayne apparently became extremely fascinated by his own boots, Simon gave up on subtlety entirely. "Was there something else?" he asked, exasperation in his tone.

Jayne shrugged, one hand reaching up to rub nervously at the back of his neck. "Well, ya see, I was thinkin'..."

"That's a scary enough thought in and of itself," Simon quipped as he placed the vial back on the counter.

Jayne glared. "Very funny. Now could you shut that mouth of yours for more'n five seconds at a time?," he snapped. "I was trying to say somethin' important."

Simon sighed, and gave a rather unconvincing gesture of encouragement. "Fine. Tell me. What where you thinking about?"

"Well, we're about to face down somethin' that we ain't likely to be walkin' away from, right?" When Simon didn't protest that bit of logic, Jayne continued. "An' the way I see it, when a man faces the end of his life, that's when he realizes what's really important to him."

"Okay," Simon offered somewhat hesitantly. Long months on Serenity had taught him never to agree too readily with Jayne. "I'm with you so far."

"He has to decide what he wants to do with the time he has left."

Simon shrugged one shoulder, still not sure what Jayne was getting at. "I suppose that makes sense."

"And if he's smart, then he'll want to be with the people that're closest to him."

Simon let out a huff of air in frustration. "Alright, forgive me for being dense, but if all this is true... then why are you here?" He gestured around him at the sterile, infirmary walls and cold metallic surfaces. "I'm hardly the closest friend you have on this ship. In fact, I wasn't even aware that we were friends at all."

Jayne managed to look honestly perplexed, which was either the best acting job Simon had ever seen or... well, there really wasn't any kind of 'or' he could think of that made the blindest bit of sense in this situation.

"What makes you think we ain't friends?"

Simon was left in the rather undignified position of gaping like a fish, which he didn't appreciate in the slightest. Sputtering indignantly, he replied, "Jayne, you hate me! And River!"

"Since when?"

"Since you said so. Out loud. Many times."

"I think you was readin' too much into all that," Jayne replied, as if that made perfect sense and the 'verse wasn't currently in the process of falling down around Simon's ears.

"Reading too much...? You tried to get us thrown off the ship!"

Jayne rolled his eyes. "Well, it ain't like it worked, anyhow. Look, in case it escaped your notice, you an' your crazy sister are still here, an' we're about to go fight a gorram war for you. So don't get your panties all tied up in knots over stuff that don't matter no more."

"You seem to have missed my point entirely, Jayne. Not that I'm all that surprised."

"Nah, it's you that done missed my point, Doc. All that schoolin' an' ya still don't get it."

"Get what? That you're in the process of having a mental breakdown as we speak?"

Jayne sighed in exasperation. "Why's it that nothin's ever easy with you? It ain't like I'm askin' you out to dinner or anything!"

"Then what are you asking?"

"C'mon, Doc. Two people don't gotta like each other for them to enjoy themselves together."

"Enjoy...?" Simon froze, his eyes narrowing as understanding dawned. The idea was beyond absurd, but there didn't seem to be any other explanation. "Jayne... are you propositioning me?"

The mercenary grinned wolfishly and leaned forward a bit, forcing Simon to back up as far as he could before the counter halted his progress. "Guess that depends on what your answer is."

Simon made a face, putting a hand against Jayne's chest and attempting to push the man back a step. It was like moving a brick wall. "This is ridiculous. All that talk of the end of your life and being with the people you're closest to... and you just wanted sex?"

Jayne's smile grew wider as he took a step forward, one hand coming up to hold Simon's fingers in place against his chest. "Well, people get pretty close durin' sex, don't they?" he replied conversationally, like it was perfectly natural for the two of them to be discussing sexual relations in the ship's infirmary just before a battle. "You're a doctor; you oughta know that."

Simon swallowed nervously, his eyes riveted to the sight of Jayne's fingers wrapped around his. He wanted to say a million different things, most of them beginning with 'You're insane' and ending somewhere in the vicinity of 'Get the hell out of my infirmary.' Of course, his mouth chose that moment to be traitorous and simply asked, "Why me?"

Jayne shrugged easily. "Well, Wash 'n Zoe were otherwise occupied, Mal's too busy broodin' over Inara, Kaylee's still hung up on you, an' cute as your sister is--"

Simon shook his head quickly, desperately trying to stop Jayne from finishing that sentence. The mere idea of Jayne and his sister together was enough to scar him for life; he had no need to hear the particulars. "So... what? You thought about all the possibilities and, by process of elimination, picked me?"

Jayne shrugged. "Pretty much, yeah." At Simon's less than thrilled expression, he added hastily, "Though you're a lot prettier than the Captain and Wash, and a lot saner than your sister, so I'd call that an upside."

Simon rolled his eyes. "I'm beyond flattered. I simply must have my way with you now. Should we lie down on the floor right here, or do you think we'll be able to make it to your room before our passion gets the best of us?"

Of course, much to Simon's dismay, both of those ideas actually sounded pretty appealing at the moment, not that he would ever admit that out loud. Just because he'd spent far too long with only his right hand for company, there was no reason he had to let Jayne know that.

Jayne smirked, seemingly unperturbed by the deluge of sarcasm Simon unleashed upon him. His gaze flickered down to the doctor's mouth, and he reached out to place the hand that was currently unoccupied against Simon's jaw line, his thumb lightly stroking Simon's bottom lip. "I always did love that pretty mouth'a yours, " he murmured. "Even when you were usin' it to tell me off."

Simon felt like every nerve in his body was centered on the movement of Jayne's thumb, and his heart was beating so loudly it was a wonder no one else could hear it. He swallowed, trying to ignore the feel of Jayne's hand wrapped around his and the hard muscles of the mercenarys chest beneath Simon's fingertips.

"You're mad," he whispered, his lower lip dragging across Jayne's thumb as he spoke. The taste of salt and gunmetal was far more erotic than it had any right to be, which seemed to indicate that Jayne wasn't the only one loosing his mind.

He closed his eyes for a moment while he tried to gather his wits about him, and when he opened them again, Jayne's face was much closer than he remembered it being before.

"Look, this is crazy," he said, reaching up to pull Jayne's hand away from his face. "You know it is." Surely the man would see reason. He had to.

"No more crazy than one ship takin' on the whole 'verse for you an' your sister,' Jayne replied, twisting his hand in Simon's grip and capturing his wrist. Leaning forward until his mouth was only a few inches away, he brought Simon's captive hands around to his sides against the counter, effectively pinning him in place.

Simon started to tug at his wrists in an attempt to break free, but then Jayne began to nibble lightly at his jaw line, slowly working his way around until he could catch an earlobe between his teeth, and Simon forgot what he was supposed to be doing.

Jayne ran his tongue along the shell of Simon's ear and then began the slow, torturous route back down his neck, the stubble of his beard rasping against Simon's skin and making him squirm.

"I... I think..." Simon tried to form a coherent sentence, but his thoughts were so scattered, it was impossible to make sense of them.

"Don't think," Jayne whispered against his throat. He worked his knee between Simon's thighs, pressing against the growing hardness there. Simon's hips jerked forward, seeking more pressure, and he had to bite back a moan when Jayne obliged him by pushing against him even harder.

Simon felt the pressure around his wrists lessen for a second as Jayne shifted his grip, pulling Simon's hands behind his back and pinning them on the counter with one hand. He felt off balance, leaning back against the counter while his hips pushed forward, seeking the pressure he desperately needed. He heard a voice whimper plaintively and was shocked when he realized it was his own. But then there was a hand at his waist, making fast work of his belt and unzipping his pants.

When Jayne wrapped his fingers around him and stroked, Simon almost cried in relief. It was different than when he did it himself. Jayne's touch was harder, faster, pushing him just to the brink where pleasure became pain, but never quite crossing that line.

It didn't take much more before Simon lost control, his hips bucking forward as he came. He saw himself as if he were standing at a distance, heard himself cry out, felt Jayne let go of his hands and cover his mouth to muffle the sound of his release.

It felt like an eternity before he came back to himself, trembling and sticky and slumped weakly against the countertop, Jayne's arms the only thing keeping him from sliding to the floor. The world felt off somehow, like it was too loud, too close, and all he wanted to do was hide himself in the man in front of him until he could get his bearings again.

He felt strong hands tucking him back into his clothing, and settling him more securely against the counter. "You okay to stand?" Jayne asked, his voice a strange combination of gruffness and concern.

Simon nodded, shaking the lassitude from his muscles and forcing himself back to reality. "I'm fine," he said, pushing Jayne's hands away and trying to do a little damage control on his clothing, though it was mostly a lost cause. Getting back to his room unnoticed was going to be interesting, to say the least.

Just then the comm. crackled to life, Mal's voice sounding a little more strained than usual. "This is the captain speaking. We're getting ready for take off. I need everyone to finish up what youre doing, get to your places and strap yourselves in."

"Right," Jayne replied, stepping back. "Best be goin' then. Mal'll be lookin' for me."

It wasn't until then that Simon noticed Jayne's predicament.

"Oh, wait, you didn't...?" he trailed off, raising one shoulder in a half-shrug.

"Don't worry, Doc," Jayne replied, raising an eyebrow and giving Simon a look that could only be called predatory before he turned and headed for the doorway. "You can pay me back later."

Simon grabbed his medical case and hurried to his room for a change of clothes, mind already planning ahead to the battle that awaited them. But in the back of his mind, there was a part of him that couldn't quite let go of what just happened in the infirmary. And if there was one thing Simon knew for sure, it was that this was a debt Jayne would surely be collecting on.

He couldn't help smiling to himself.

Just one more reason to make sure they both made it through this thing in one piece. Because Simon always paid his debts.

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Title:  Process of Elimination
Author:  Sonya   [email]   [website]
Details:  Standalone  |  NC-17  |  *slash*  |  15k  |  04/03/06
Characters:  Jayne, Simon
Pairings:  Simon/Jayne (PWP)
Summary:  "So. what? You thought about all the possibilities and, by process of elimination, picked me?"
Notes:  Set during the BDM, just after Mal's "I aim to misbehave" speech.

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