The Speed of Choices (Two)
by dirty diana
no warnings, spoilers for "Heart of Gold" Disclaimer: I didn't invent these characters. Obviously. Notes: Sequel to The Speed of Choices, part one. Beta'd by sf fan. Give her a hug.
Late at night, Simon is packing up the infirmary. He is taking as little as he can, just the things he doesn't think River can do without. Everything is itemized on the list he is making, and he'll pay the captain what he thinks is fair.
"Jayne." Simon doesn't look up when he recognises the voice. "Don't tell me you've pulled your stitches already. I told you not to..."
"No, it ain't that." Jayne says as he enters the room. His words come from low in his throat, almost a growl. "I just saw the light on, and I thought that maybe..."
"Yes?" Simon asks impatiently.
The mercenary has given up on words. Instead he stands behind Simon, and places two strong hands on his waist.
Simon lets out a gasp, one that he knows didn't sound nearly as offended as he intended. "Jayne..." he says slowly. "Jayne, what are you doing?"
"Well," Simon can hear the shrug in Jayne's voice. "I figured we could have ourselves a little fun. Since you an' the captain ain't..." And his hands start to travel, around the swell of Simon's ass, across his thighs, pressing the fabric of Simon's pants smooth against his skin.
Simon still isn't looking at Jayne. He closes his eyes, lets Jayne's fingers caress him, just long enough to count to ten. Fifteen. Twenty. Then finally he turns around, pushing Jayne's hands away from his body. "No."
Jayne opens his mouth and closes it again, like he's having trouble understanding something. "But...you...and the captain said..."
"Mal," Simon explains with a sigh, "has gotten the wrong idea."
"Oh, well that's fine." Jayne brushes that aside. "I ain't talking about getting ideas. I'm talking about gettin'..."
And his hands reach for Simon again, but the doctor takes one more step back. Getting the words out is a struggle. He's never been good at explaining himself. "Jayne, I can't...this was never meant to be...it doesn't make sense to..." He stops and takes a deep breath, reaching for the one thing that he knows Jayne will understand. "I'm leaving."
Mal didn't notice exactly, when he became friends with Inara, but he reckons that it's around the time he started sleeping with Simon. When he knocks on her shuttle door, she doesn't look surprised to see him.
"Come in," she says. "I was just making tea. Would you like some?"
Mal sits down heavily on the loveseat, with a sigh. "News has spread pretty fast, I guess."
"It's a small ship," she answers placidly. "What did you do?"
"What did I..." Mal's eyes narrow into slits at the accusation. "It ain't my fault."
"Mmmnnn." Inara sweeps her skirts underneath her, and sits down. "And you have no idea why Simon would rather take his chances with the Alliance, than deal with you?"
He shakes his head, but answers the question anyway. "He more or less accused me of thinking I own him. Of thinking that he's a..."
"Whore?" Inara finishes the sentence as she pours Mal a cup of tea. "And where would he have gotten that impression?"
"Well, I..." Mal breaks off, and he considers the contents of his cup. "What kind of tea is this?"
"Don't change the subject, Mal. We weren't talking about tea. We were talking about your unrelenting need to control everything around you."
Mal's expression twists, but her words knock him silent for a moment. "I thought we were talking about Simon leaving," he says, finally. "It ain't that much of a surprise, I guess, I figured he'd go sometime. It just seems a bit soon. Kinda all of a sudden, like."
Inara shrugs, as her soft hands stir the sugar in her tea. "It wasn't all of a sudden for me."
Simon sits on the floor of the infirmary, watching the dim lights bounce against white walls. He thinks better in here, than anyplace else on the ship. River makes no noise when she enters, soft like a cat. She simply crawls into his arms, warm and still. Simon can feel her disapproval, mixed with sadness, steady in the rhythm of her heartbeat.
"I don't want to leave," she whispers. "It's cold outside."
"I know," he answers. "But it's time."
"But it's safe here."
He shakes his head, as his mouth brushes her cheek. "That's just it, mei-mei. I don't think that it is."
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