When Simon wandered into the cargo bay, he found Zoe there, strapping on her gun holster. He raised one eyebrow, glanced at his expensive watch, and said, "It's a little late for crime, isn't it?"
Zoe's flat expression didn't change, but she shook her head. "Ain't crime. Captain's gone into town to get himself a drink."
"And this requires weaponry?"
Zoe gave him a sideways glance, then checked the chamber of her gun and pushed it into her hip holster. "Do you know what day it is?"
"Sure. It's the sixth of..." Simon stopped short. "Unification Day."
"But we're pretty far from the Core. The captain can't have found himself all that much trouble."
Zoe's pretty eyes narrowed into tiny green slits. "Doctor, have you met the captain?"
It was a point. Simon toyed with the cuffs on his shirt, watching as Zoe bent down to pick up her knife, and slide it into its sheath. She grimaced in pain, as her fingers closed around the handle. "How's your wound?"
"It's fine," Zoe answered, as if there had been no sharpness in the question. "You did a bang-up job of stitching me up."
"It wasn't a complicated injury." Simon pushed aside the compliment. He was still watching her,
blue eyes bright. "I'd still rather that you didn't over exert yourself and open up the wound. Or get yourself shot all over again. Are you worried that I'll get bored without enough to do?"
Zoe looked at him, with the ghost of a smile, but said nothing.
"Jayne was hurt worse than you were," Simon continued. "He can't go either. I suppose it will have to be me."
She stared at him some more, then finally said, "Fine. You better take my gun."
Simon shook his head. He had been on the ship over a year, but he still hadn't learnt the skill for firing a pistol, didn't like the feel of one in his hands. "I'll be useless with that. I'll find some other way."
The small, dusty town had two bars. Simon found Mal in the second one, already drunk.
Mal looked up briefly when Simon entered, then turned back to his drink. "What are you doing here, doc?"
"Zoe sent me," Simon said. "She thought you might need saving from yourself."
Mal scowled, and swallowed a mouthful of whiskey. "Zoe worries."
"About you, alone in a bar on an Alliance-friendly planet on Unification Day? Yes, she does."
"Ain't no need..." Mal began, and was interrupted by the sound of singing. Simon glanced back at four men standing by the bar, warbling something off-key. It sounded vaguely like the Alliance anthem.
Mal put one hand on his pistol, and started to move towards them.
"Mal," Simon said, "don't."
Mal stared hard at the bar, and then glanced back at Simon. "No offense, doc. But you don't know a thing about this."
"I know I don't," Simon said softly. "And frankly, I don't much care. The war's over, Mal."
The captain glared at him. "You think I don't know that?"
Over at the bar, the song was dying down. The piano player started up again with an easily recognisable tune, a slow pretty melody. "Ignore them," Simon said. "Dance with me."
Inebriated, Mal was easily pliable, and he stumbled uncertainly into Simon's arms. He tried to escape, but Simon had a firm hold, slender fingers pressed tightly to the small of Mal's back.
"What the rutting hell do you think you're doing?" Mal demanded, voice hoarse with whiskey.
"Saving you from yourself," Simon answered, as they stood, barely swaying to the music.
"Is that right?" Mal asked. "And who's going to save you?"
"Who says that I need saving?"
"Keep this up, doc, and you might." His own strong arms had moved around Simon, holding him tightly, almost holding himself up. Simon could feel the heavy warmth of the captain, seeping through the brown uniform.
"I can take care of myself."
"Hmmn." Mal seemed to think about that for a moment. "I imagine you..."
By the bar, the singing had started again. Abruptly Mal stopped talking. Simon could feel the tension ripple through him, ready to break.
Simon's voice was barely louder than a whisper. "Don't."
Now blue eyes were staring at him, considering him carefully. "Are you making me a better offer?"
In response Simon's hands shifted, slipping gently down Mal's back, into the crease of his waistband. "Yes," he answered simply. "I
Mal was a good kisser. The moment that the door to Simon's bunk had closed behind them, he had his mouth on Simon's own, his tongue warm and probing. They stood there, for a long moment, pressed close together. Gently Simon swayed in Mal's arms, mimicking the movement in the saloon.
Mal's hands pulled open the buttons of Simon's shirt, sliding inside to caress flawless skin. He shifted his body slightly, and Simon could feel the hardness of him, pressed against his thigh.
He groaned, suddenly aware of the throbbing of his own cock. "Mal," he whispered.
Mal responded by pinching Simon's nipple between his thumb and forefinger, twisting hard. Then he sat down heavily on the bed, pulling Simon towards him, mouth brushing Simon's belly as Simon's fingers tangled in his hair. His fingers grasped at Simon's slim hips, tugging at the opening of his pants.
Simon breathed in sharply. "No."
"No?" Mal repeated, stopping his movements abruptly.
"No," Simon told him. "I want...the thing is...I'd like to fuck you. Can I do that?"
The captain was silent for a moment, motionless.
Simon thought for an instant that he'd rushed it, crossed Mal's ever-moving invisible line. "We don't have to."
"Ain't that," Mal said quickly. "It's just...I' ain't never done that before. Don't laugh," he added sharply, as Simon's eyes threatened to fold into a smile.
"I'm not laughing at you," Simon told him truthfully. "I just didn't think that anyone had less experience than I do." Here Simon paused to kiss him, hard on the mouth. "But I think we'll manage."
Simon undressed slowly. Mal watched him, licking his lips. Then Simon's naked body straddled him, pulling off Mal's shirt. Steady fingers traced their way along sun-weathered skin, across old scars and newer ones. The slim flat mark of a sword, the small, neat mark left by bullet wounds.
Simon lowered his head, teasing a nipple with his tongue, hand sliding up to stroke the other with the flat of his palm. His cock brushed against Mal's as he knelt astride him, desperately hard.
Then he moved aside, fingers moving quickly, pulling down Mal's pants and throwing them to the floor. "On your stomach," he whispered.
Mal rolled over. Simon's hand stroked the curve of Mal's ass. He pinched the skin, and then bent his head and bit the smooth inside of his thigh. Taking his time, Simon slid his hands slowly up Mal's thighs, spreading them wide. Then he made his fingers slick with lube, and pressed one finger inside Mal, just the tip, gently teasing him. "Tell me if I hurt you."
"'Kay," Mal nodded, which Simon knew meant that he wouldn't say a word.
The second finger followed, and then the third. Simon's fingers slid in and out of Mal's ass, fucking him gently, causing Mal's body to arch up off the bed with a hot moan.
"I think you're ready," Simon whispered, as he brought his body on top of Mal's, slipping his cock inside him. "Tianna. You feel so good." He thrust slowly, as slowly as he could, groaning with the struggle to maintain control. Mal groaned in return, their noises echoing in the quiet room. Simon's fingers clutched Mal's hips tightly, as he began to thrust faster, until his body jerked one last time, and he overflowed.
"Roll over," he told Mal as he pulled out. Mal lay flat on his back, gasping for air. Simon grasped Mal's cock inside his slippery hand, palm sliding along the length of the shaft, over and over.
Simon watched Mal's face, could see him fighting to hold on. Simon pumped harder, and Mal moaned out loud.
"It's okay," Simon said in a low voice. "It's okay. Come for me."
Mal groaned, bit his lip, and spilled hot over Simon's fingers.
"Looks like you fulfilled your mission," Mal said, stretched out in Simon's bed, half-asleep. "Zoe'll be proud."
"Well, if it's just the same to you," Simon answered, "perhaps we won't specify just what my methods were."
"Sounds like a good idea," Mal agreed. "But what's so funny?"
"Nothing." Simon shook his head, but still a smile touched his mouth, tongue brushing his upper lip. "I was just thinking that I've been on this ship for so long, over a year. I wish I'd known that all it would take for us to get 'here'," he gestured vaguely to the bed, and Mal's naked form, "was for you to be drunk and nearly suicidal. That's a regular Saturday night for you, isn't it?"
Mal scowled, and then surrendered to a slow smile. "Well, I was goin' to thank you. But never mind."
"You don't have to thank me," Simon told him. "But you're welcome." Gently he stroked Mal's skin, at the back of his neck, and then rolled over, and fell asleep.