Part 2

by Juli

Continued from Part 1

"How long are you going to make him suffer?"

Mal looked up to see Inara in front of him. The Companion's arms were crossed across her chest and she looked ready for a fight. After Book had given his little talk to Simon, Inara had made an offer to ease his burden, but it had been rejected. As River's comments had implied, her brother didn't lean towards wanting to pair with a female. Even so, Inara felt her duty was towards helping Simon and she was committed to helping the young man.

"We're still a day out from Sogomra, he's just going to have to make do," the captain replied, not even bothering to pretend that he didn't know what she was talking about. Then, having said all he wanted to on the subject, Mal bent down again to his work. Kaylee normally took care of most of the Serenity's repairs but Mal had found a need to keep himself busy.

He told himself that it wasn't to keep from worrying about Simon.

The last week had been hard on the young doctor. At least, as little as the rest of the crew saw him, it seemed that way. Normally, Simon could be found in the ship's infirmary, fussing with the medical equipment or researching his sister's condition. Since the Inhibitor had been removed, however, he'd kept to his quarters, venturing out only when River coaxed him to. Simon seemed jumpy and uncomfortable in his own skin, very much a shadow of his normal self. He usually retreated as soon as River would let him, hardly even staying in public long enough to eat anything. Since there hadn't been any medical emergencies, Mal had been content to let the younger man hide. He hadn't liked, however, the way Simon refused to meet anyone's eyes.

Then again, there was little about this situation that Mal liked.

"Are you still insisting on subjecting Simon to that travesty?" Inara demanded.

The captain carefully laid down his tools before slowly getting up to answer her. "'Travesty?' That's a strong word, especially coming from you." He was several inches taller than Inara and was doing his best to use that advantage to loom over the slight, dark-haired woman.

Inara's hands clenched at her side. She'd been trained to deal with this attitude but somehow Mal Reynolds always managed to slide right underneath her instruction and cut to the core. "You well know that a common brothel is a far cry from the services offered by a Guild Companion," she began hotly. Trained to observe, she noticed the minute way Mal's muscles relaxed and realized that drawing her into this debate had been his whole plan. That actually was encouraging, it meant that the captain wasn't as cold to Simon Tam's dilemma as he liked to pretend.

"I think that you're taking him to Sogomra to suit your own self, not him." She accused.

"Of course, that's what I'm doing," Mal said sarcastically, "I'm hauling my ship away from paying jobs to take a passenger to the whorehouse. A passenger, I might add, who's a fugitive from the Alliance and has brought more trouble down on us than his fee can ever hope to cover."

"You know what I mean," Inara was relentless and pinned Mal with a knowing glance. "There were alternatives to seeking outside help."

The captain arched an eyebrow. "You implying that I should ask Wash to betray his marriage vows or Book to break his pledge of celibacy?"

The Companion rolled her eyes. "That's not what I'm saying at all and you know it."

Mal continued to play dumb. "You really think that Jayne is a better choice for Simon that a whorehouse? I think he'd rather slit his throat."

"I think," Inara said succinctly, "that he'd rather have you."

The two glared at each other silently.

"I always wondered why you hitched on with us instead of a more lucrative ride," the captain said in a conversational tone. "Now I know why, you're even crazier than River is."

Inara tossed her head back, matching him glare for glare. "And I'm not nearly as dumb as you think I am. I've seen how that boy watches you; Simon is attracted to you, as much as that horrible implant would allow. Not only that, he admires you."

Mal snorted, his opinion clear on that. "And what about me? You're all-fired worried about Simon but what about what I want?"

"They're the same thing," Inara said in a gentler voice. "I'm a registered and trained Companion, I know what I see. And what I see is you, very much aware of Simon. You've wanted him since he came onboard, although you hide it well. Stop fighting it."

"I think you need a remedial course," Mal said, turning away from her in disgust. "This conversation is over."

"Don't do this, Mal. They're not Companions on Sogomra, it will simply be a crude physical act and degrading to his very soul." Inara pleaded, following the captain into the corridor. "You send him off to Sogomra to be serviced by men who will use him but not cherish the experience and it will kill something in both of you."

"I don't need you telling me what to do," Mal said hotly. "The decision's been made."

Inara wouldn't give up. "What you need is...."


The combatants stopped, both equally surprised as River came barreling down the corridor towards them. The girl ran up to Mal and grabbed his hand, frantically tugging him back the way she'd just come. "Simon!"

"What's the matter, honey?" Inara asked, trailing along behind them.

"Simon needs help," River panted, urging Mal to move even faster. "Hot, burning up. Wrong! All wrong!" She looked at Mal in desperation. "You can fix. Hurry!"

By this time, the trio were outside the kitchen and River came to an abrupt halt. Urgency gave her strength and she pushed Mal ahead of her, all but throwing him inside. "Help Simon!"

Mal stumbled but quickly recovered. When he did, he immediately saw what had upset the girl so.

A barefooted Simon was pressed up against the wall by Jayne. The bigger man's body was flattened against the doctor's, one knee thrust aggressively in between Simon's legs. Jayne had a hand planted against the wall to either side of Simon's head, effectively trapping his prey underneath him. Jayne's head was bent down as the mercenary whispered into the cornered man's ear, the two were so close that Jayne's scraggly beard was no doubt tickling the doctor's neck.

Simon was panting loudly, his body straining toward's Jayne's. Even as Mal watched, he saw the younger man's hips start to twitch, almost as if they'd decided on their own to slide against the firm thigh spreading Simon's legs. Because his skin was so pale, Simon's flush was easily seen, even from across the room. Mal felt his stomach drop. Soundlessly, he began to back out of the room.

Then Simon turned his head and Mal could no more abandon him than he could the Serenity itself.

The expression in Simon's eyes was familiar to Mal Reynolds. He knew it well, having seen it regularly in his own mirror. It was a type of self-loathing that you normally had to keep hidden if you wanted to stay sane. Mal realized then that Simon's body was making this decision for him. Simon obviously knew it too and hated the idea of having sex with Jayne, but was powerless to stop it. Mal didn't know if Simon had come into the kitchen of his own accord and Jayne had just happened to be there or if the other man had lured the vulnerable doctor out of his sanctuary. It didn't matter. All that mattered was putting a halt to it.

Moving swiftly, Mal crossed the room and ripped Jayne off Simon. "Leave him be."

"Hey, what do you think you're doing?" Jayne was furious. The way his erection tented his pants should have made him look comical but, instead, it made him look all the more dangerous. "The doc and I were havin' us a conversation."

The captain stepped between Jayne and Simon. "Conversation's over. Make yourself scarce."

"Wait just a hellfire minute there, Mal," the other man challenged. "Look at him, I wadn't makin' him do anything he didn't want to do."

Simon looked glassy-eyed and hardly in any condition to protest. Mal took a step closer to Jayne. "Walk away, Jayne. You've done enough here."

That deliberately quiet tone in Mal's voice was usually more than enough to make Jayne back down. This time, however, the other man was too worked up to heed its warning. "I don't think so, Mal. To my way of thinking, I haven't done nearly enough yet." He looked over the captain's shoulder to Simon. "We weren't finished yet, sweetheart, were we?"

Mal was right in front of Simon and could feel the younger man start to tremble. "Well, on second thought, I guess you're right." Mal shrugged sheepishly and turned towards Simon. "I didn't mean to interrupt anything...."

Like Reynolds' earlier tone of voice, his quick change of attitude should have been a warning to Jayne. The big man's blood, however, was currently occupied somewhere other than his brain and he fell for it. Mal struck when his turn was barely begun, catching Jayne on the side of his head. As the mercenary tried to shake off the blow, the captain kicked, aiming for the body part that was attempting to drill a hole through the crotch of Jayne's pants. With a whimper, Jayne sank to his knees, where Inara finished him off with a well-timed bottle to the back of his head.

As Mal looked down at his felled crew member in distaste, Zoe, Wash, and Book came tumbling into the room. While Mal was busy, Inara had sent River off for reinforcements. The three newcomers were perplexed to see Jayne on the floor and Mal standing over him, with Inara still clutching the broken neck of a bottle. Simon had slid down the wall and was sitting on the floor, arms wrapped around his knees.

River walked over to Jayne and kicked him, glaring at the man who'd tried to hurt her brother. She looked at Simon and back to Mal before putting a hand on the captain's chest. "Fix him," she demanded.

Mal remembered the look in Simon's eyes and bowed to the inevitable. Nodding curtly to River, he reached to pull Simon gently from the floor. "C'mon, let's get you out of here."

Zoe arched one eyebrow and looked like she was hard-pressed to stifle a grin. "Captain, what do you want us to do with Jayne?"

"Just let him sleep it off." The captain reconsidered. "You might want to restrain him. He's bound to be a bit surly when he wakes up." Mal wrapped an arm around Simon and steered him towards the door, carefully guiding him around the broken glass glittering on the floor. "Wash, we need a new destination. Preferably somewhere we can make a little money."

"Sure thing, Mal." Wash wasn't even bothering to stifle and a broad grin lit up his face. "We're probably a couple days out from anything too promising. Take your time."

"Thanks," Reynolds said shortly, glaring at the whole group. Was everyone determined to get him to bed Simon Tam?

"Oh," Kaylee said as she bumped into them. The mechanic had been late to the party and smiled when she saw Mal leading Simon away. "You're finally going to have sex now. Good. Hope it's nice." She waved at them merrily until the two men rounded the corner and were out of her sight.

Simon was unresisting as Mal guided him away from the kitchen... and away from Jayne. The doctor balked, however, when he realized he was at the entrance to Mal's quarters.

"Mal, I'm sorry," Simon protested. "You don't have to do this. Book's right, I can't handle it alone, but we're almost to Sogomra. I can... I can take care of it there."

The older man chuckled. It was far, far too late for that. "It's not exactly a chore, Simon." He pulled the doctor to him so that Simon could feel the hardness that Mal was sporting. "See?"

"Oh." Was all Simon said when he realized that the attraction was mutual.

Mal was inordinately pleased at the way he'd managed to fluster all the fancy words right out of Simon's head. He kissed him hard and then let go. "Go on down, now." He nudged his companion towards the ladder that led down to his quarters.

Simon licked his lips, tasting Mal there. His eyes got wide as he realized that he would likely be tasting much more by the time they were through. Suddenly in a hurry, he all but leapt down the ladder.

Mal chuckled again and followed. Now that he was through resisting it, he was thoroughly looking forward to the experience. The captain's feet had barely touched the floor, however, when he was abruptly pounced. Mal found himself with an armful of Simon Tam, whose momentum allowed him to press the captain back against the wall and kiss Mal thoroughly.

So much for shy virgins.

Simon was making whimpering noises in the back of his throat and rubbing his body frantically against the older man. Mal wrapped one hand around the back of Simon's neck and brought the other to cup his lover's face, trying to control the kiss. After a moment, though, Simon's body stiffened and Mal felt a damp sensation against his leg. Simon lay limply against him, breathing hard.

"Sorry about that," the doctor said softly. "I just... Need... so badly and I don't know how to stop it."

Mal felt a wave of gentleness for the man in his arms, an odd sentiment for him. "Don't worry about it. From what Molly told me, we're gonna have lots of opportunities before this is over. Just think of it as the start to the party."

Simon wouldn't look at him. "I'm just so sorry that you got drawn into this... another complication I've caused you."

The captain brought his fingers underneath Simon's jaw, tipping the doctor's face towards him. "Hey, I like my life complicated. No need to apologize." He kissed the younger man's forehead, then his temple and the side of his jaw, before bringing his lips to his lover's.

This time, Mal controlled the kiss from the beginning and it was slow and deep. He felt Simon's lips open under his own and slipped his tongue inside. Simon startled in his arms, but Mal pulled him closer, feeling the doctor relax again as he got used to the sensation of another's tongue exploring him. Mal took advantage of Simon's distraction to begin working at the buttons to the doctor's vest, keeping one arm firmly around the other man's back. He'd been reluctant to engage in this activity with Simon, but now that he had begun, he was loathe to let go of the very desirable body that had made its way into his arms.

The vest hit the floor and Mal immediately started in on the shirt. He'd never liked Simon's clothes but that dislike abruptly turned to hate. There were far too many layers between him and his lover's skin. His mouth left Simon's as he got the shirt halfway undone and off one of Simon's shoulders. The younger man moaned as Mal nibbled on his neck, not even aware that the talented captain had started walking them towards the bed. Simon's entire focus was on Mal's mouth and the way he was sucking on Simon's collarbone, sending all sorts of sensations tumbling through Simon's body.

Mal lost his patience about the time they made it to the bed. When he felt Simon bump up against the mattress and stop, Reynolds just muttered, "To hell with it," and ripped the rest of Simon's shirt open. Buttons made pinging noises as they bounded to the floor but were ignored by both men. Mal pushed the once-crisp white material off Simon's shoulders and off his arms, running his hands along the bare skin that was newly exposed.

Simon looked at his lover mutely, not exactly sure what to do. Mal growled softly and impelled Simon down, following until they were both horizontal. Mal's hands continued to wander the contours of Simon's chest, stopping only when they encountered the fleshy nubs that were taut with arousal.

"Oh," Simon breathed as Mal stroked first one nipple, then the other. The inexperienced doctor felt his body pressing himself into his lover's skilled caresses.

The captain smiled smugly. "They didn't teach you about that in the Medacad, did they?" He didn't wait for an answer, just resumed kissing Simon's neck and blazing a moist trail down to the first little nub. He looked deeply into Simon's eyes before latching onto it, not terribly surprised to feel his partner cry out and stiffen underneath him.

The damp patch on Simon's pants got noticeably larger.

Mal slowed down, knowing that Simon's second release had bought him a little more time. He lavished attention on one nipple and then the other, pinning Simon's hands to the bed when the doctor frantically tried to position Mal where he wanted him. Eventually, though, Mal decided it was time to explore the rest of his lover. Leaving Simon's chest, he nibbled his way down the younger man's stomach, frowning when he realized how much weight Simon had lost.

"Mal? What's wrong?" Simon gasped out a question. "You stopped."

"It's nothing, just needed to catch my breath," Mal lied. He couldn't do anything about how his hesitation had caused Simon to suffer. All he could do was to make sure that this experience made up for it.

With that in mind, the captain dove his tongue into Simon's bellybutton, pleased to see that it was an innie. He lapped at the little dimple playfully, feeling Simon stiffen and cry out once again.

Taking advantage of the lull, Mal stood up while Simon recovered and quickly stripped. Then, while his partner was still limp from his third orgasm in less than 15 minutes, he undid Simon's belt and slipped the pants from his lover's slender hips. He wasn't at all shocked to see that the doctor had plain white boxer shorts on underneath; no doubt they'd originally been starched but now were damp with the results of Simon's triple release. These were also lovingly removed and then Mal used his own shirt to clean his lover up a bit. Simon was a fastidious man and would no doubt be discomfited by the stickiness.

By the time Simon had recovered enough to open his eyes and take measure of the world around him, Mal was stretched out next to him, holding Simon lightly. "Hello there."

"Hello." Simon smiled shyly.

"How's it going so far?" Mal asked shamelessly. "Living up to your expectations?"

Simon blushed a deep red but, despite his embarrassment, Mal could feel his lover begin to harden yet again.

"I always thought that people were weak," the younger man admitted, "when they talked about how their body burned with need. After all, I never felt that kind of lust, I thought I was just strong and naturally able to resist." He laughed bitterly. "Now I know different. I burn just as hotly as anyone else," Simon looked at Mal from underneath lowered lashes, "And it's divine. Thank you."

"Don't thank me," Mal said, trailing a hand down Simon's chest. "Being here with you like this is hardly a hardship." The hand wandered over the doctor's hip. "I'm getting as much out of this as you are." The captain grinned wickedly before abruptly grasping Simon's penis. "Besides, we're not done yet."

Simon's hips came off the bed as he felt for the first time someone touching his cock. He'd had physical exams before, of course, but this was different. His hands fisted the sheets as he fought to control his reaction. Mal watched him, smiling, as he gently began running his hand up and down the shaft. It was wicked of him, he knew, but there was something about watching Simon Tam lose control that just did him in.

By the way Simon was shaking, he was about to lose control again and Mal didn't know how much the younger man could take in one session. The captain's hand went to the base of Simon's cock and squeezed carefully. The doctor's eyes flew open and glared at Mal in accusation.

"What are you doing?" Simon gasped.

"Just makin' sure you'll be up for all the festivities," Mal assured him. "Don't worry, you'll like this even better."

The captain slid down his lover's body until he was crouched over Simon's groin. Grinning up at the younger man, he slowly lowered his head, lapping at Simon's cock as though it were a piece of candy.

Mal's prediction was right on the money - Simon did like what he was doing. A lot. Moaning incoherently, the younger man hips thrust instinctively and, squeeze or no squeeze, he erupted again.

The captain laid down again, kissing Simon's shoulder. "You okay?" He figured that the doctor would have to be getting sore, as many times as he'd come already. Post-Inhibitor surge or not, a body had its limits.

"I don't know," Simon said in frustration, hiding his face against the pillow. "It keeps feeling like I need more but I don't know what it is."

Mal rubbed the distraught man's stomach. He had a feeling he knew what Simon's body was craving but was hesitant to offer. As sheltered as Simon had been, he didn't know if the younger man was ready for it. Learning about it as a doctor was one thing; putting it into practice was quite another.

While the captain had been thinking, Simon had snuggled closer to the heat of the older man's body. As he did, he realized he felt a hot length poking against his thigh. Blindly reaching down, his fingers encountered Mal's erection.

Both men gasped.

"Mal, I'm sorry," Simon whispered. "I've been selfish - you need release too. Can we do whatever it is you need to do to get it?"

That pretty much decided the issue for Mal. "All right," he said, "but if you're uncomfortable or want to stop, you just say so and I will."

"Okay," Simon said simply. He'd learned a lot about trust since boarding the Serenity and learned even more about its captain since he'd entered the man's bed. Whatever Mal wanted was more than okay with Simon.

Reynolds smiled and gathered his lover close, rolling so that Simon was completely on top of him. The two men kissed for several moments, then Mal reached between them and slicked his fingers with the seed from Simon's last orgasm. The doctor was oblivious to the other man's movements, lost as he was in Mal's kisses. That changed when Mal's hands dropped to Simon's ass and gently parted his cheeks. Simon lifted his head and looked at Mal with eyes wide in a combination of surprise and desire.

"Still okay?" Mal asked softly.

Simon nodded and buried his head in Mal's neck. Mal kissed him before concentrating on the task of readying his lover. His fingers tenderly circled the virgin opening to Simon's body, which was not easy to do with the young man squirming on top of him. As the tip of Mal's finger breached his body, however, Simon stilled completely, his breathing loud in the quiet room. The captain only wiggled inside as far as the first knuckle, kissing Simon's trembling shoulder gently.

"Still okay?" He asked.

Simon nodded again and Mal pushed forward, this time burying the whole finger inside his lover. The doctor cried out and clutched at Mal, his body flushed at even this tiny penetration.

"Mal," Simon breathed. "That's the oddest feeling." He felt his body tighten and welcome the intruder. "More."

The captain laughed with relief and withdrew. The next time, there were two fingers striving to enter the narrow passage. It was a bit more work to get Simon's body to accept them, but soon enough they'd gained entrance. This time, Simon tensed at the sensation of being stretched, but Mal's free hand rubbed at his back and the younger man soon relaxed. Before long, Simon had orgasmed yet again and the young man was practically purring.

Simon's reaction was more than Mal had hoped for and the captain proceeded with care. It was with some trepidation that Mal breached Simon's body again, this time with three fingers. Simon cried out but Mal was patient and managed to make them fit. By the time he's finished stretching and massaging the doctor's rectum, Simon was even moving with him. His lover's undulations made their cocks brush together and it was hard to tell who was more eager for their joining to happen, Mal or Simon.

"Okay, Simon, it's time," Mal ground out past his desire. He removed his fingers from Simon's body, ignoring the younger man's protest. Instead, Mal lightly slapped Simon's hip and made his lover move, rolling Simon until the smaller man was on his side. Mal spooned right up behind him, after he'd taken time to retrieve a tube of lubrication from the night stand drawer. Luckily he kept it there to make his own masturbation sessions a little more comfortable. Fingers were one thing with only semen as lubrication - Mal had no intention of taking a virgin without a little more assistance than that.

Slicking his cock up, Mal succinctly gave his inexperienced lover some instructions. Simon might be the doctor, but he'd never done this before. Mal had and was determined that it go smoothly.

"I'm gonna go slow, Simon, but stop me if you need to. There's no shame in it - this can hurt if we're not careful. Got that?"

Simon simply nodded and Mal took that as an affirmation. Taking a deep breath, he lifted Simon's leg up, exposing the younger man to his cock's probing. The doctor gasped as he felt the blunt head of Mal's penis. Somehow, it hadn't felt that big before.

"Ooooh," he sighed as he felt his lover begin to thrust in. It burned but the Need in him recognized it.

"Hang on, Simon, this is the worst part," Mal said hoarsely. He was being careful, but he knew he was probably hurting the other man. Even with their preparations, Simon was still a virgin. This first intercourse was essentially prying Simon's body open and, even as it was pleasurable, the pain was unavoidable.

For a few heartbeat's, Simon's world came narrowed down to the pressure in his ass. Then the head of Mal's cock popped past the opening and he could breath again.

"Okay?" Mal asked, unable to articulate a more meaningful question. Simon nodded, unable to verbalize even that much and the captain began again. He would push forward an inch or two, then stop and let Simon's body adjust. Once he felt his lover begin to accept the intruder, he would start the process again, gently but relentlessly.

Now Mal knew why what he was doing was referred to as "deflowering" a virgin. He could literally feel Simon's body waking up and blossoming all around him. Finally, it was done and Mal was as buried as deeply within his lover as he could possibly get. He desperately kissed the back of Simon's neck, tasting the sweat that decorated it.

Simon clutched at the sheets, feeling more full than he'd ever been. His body burned and throbbed, but not from pain. Instead, he ached from being so close to the ultimate completion, but still needing... something. Instinctively, his body started to dance on Mal's cock.

The captain took the hint. Slowly and carefully, he started to thrust, keeping a firm hold on his own urges. Mal was ever mindful that it was a virgin he was making love to, never mind that Simon's body was tempting him to forget that and pound into him hard.

Mal's small quarters resounded with the moist sound of bodies slapping together. Eventually, the primal sounds were joined with a low-keyed whimper.

"Mal, please," Simon mewled. "I need something...."

The captain took pity on his lover. He reached around Simon's hip for the younger man's cock. At the same time, he swivelled his hips, changing the angle of his thrusts. The simultaneous stimulation of his cock and his prostate sent Simon over the edge. Simon's mouth opened but his scream was silent as his body spasmed over and over again. Wordlessly, Simon's head thrust back against Mal's shoulder and the doctor clutched at the sheets as he erupted in a massive, but dry, orgasm. At this point, even given his post-Inhibitor needs, his body had simply no seed left to ejaculate, so often had Mal brought him to completion.

Mal felt his young lover's body fall apart around him. Losing his altruism in the heat of passion, he thrust deeply and, while his cock was still buried as far as it would go into his lover's body, rolled him onto his stomach. The captain wrapped a possessive arm around Simon's belly and pulled the young man's unresisting body to his knees. The new position allowed Mal to thrust harder and faster than before and he did so vigorously. Half a dozen thrusts more and Mal was coming himself, seeing stars as his cock pulsed repeatedly, emptying itself inside the furnace of Simon's body.

The captain staggered as his orgasm finished sweeping through him, collapsing onto the bed as he went weak in the knees. He took Simon with him in a controlled fall, careful not to squish the smaller man. When he'd recovered enough, he checked on his lover, tenderly brushing the dark hair off Simon's forehead. He couldn't help smiling as he did so, Simon was downright cute when he was mussed, especially when Mal was the one who'd done the mussing.

Simon missed the tenderness, already being deeply asleep. Between the malfunction of the Inhibitor, fighting the affects of it being removed, and now a session of passionate sex, the doctor was down for the count.

Realizing that since no one was awake to see him do it, it was safe to show affection, Mal kissed Simon tenderly and then wrapped the blankets around both of them. His intuition was telling him there'd be repercussions to helping Simon with his problem but damn if he could think about it at the moment.


48 fun-filled hours later....

It was movement that woke Mal. He stretched languidly, reluctant to move. Simon might have been the one flooded with urges from a body getting used the existence of sex, but Mal had been trying to keep up with him - without the benefit of years of pent-up sexual frustration.

The captain had a right to be tired but he cracked one eye open anyway. In the dim light of his quarters, he could see Simon struggling with his boxers. It was endearing watching the younger man try to be quiet and Mal smiled at the sight. Until, that was, he noticed the marks on Simon's body. The younger man was dressed only in his shirt, which thanks to Mal, had no buttons and he couldn't close. As it result, the garment hung open, leaving most of Simon's body exposed. Two days of wild and unbridled sex had left their brand on the doctor. Remember the smooth expanse of pale skin and he'd undressed Simon the first time, Mal couldn't help but be ashamed of the bruises and red blotches marring its surface now. Especially the hand-shaped bruises on both of the younger man's hips.

"You okay, Simon?"

The doctor startled, not realizing his lover was awake. He jumped at Mal's voice and then sagged against the wall. "I'm fine. I just thought... it might be time for me to go." He wouldn't look at Mal. "You've been exceedingly kind but I need to check on River."

"River's fine, Inara and the preacher have been looking out for her," Mal reassured his companion. Their shipmates had thoughtfully lowered food and supplies down to Mal's quarters a couple of times. In the brief periods between their frantic coupling, Mal had read the notes that accompanied the care packages.

Simon blinked at Mal's report but then quickly ducked his head again. "Still, I can't impose on you any longer, you've already done so much."

Mal sat up. He'd gotten to know Simon rather intimately during the last two days and knew the other man was ashamed. "Simon, come here." When the younger man hesitated, Mal crooked a finger at him. Reluctantly, the doctor dropped his uncooperative underwear on the floor and slowly approached.

The captain shifted until he was sitting on the side of the bed. As Simon got close, he patted his thighs, inviting his lover to sit. Simon hesitated but then moved the last few feet forward and sat carefully on Mal's lap.

The older man pulled Simon close to him, rubbing the dark-haired man's back. "The Need's gone, isn't it?"

Simon nodded silently. Uncomfortable, he shifted on Mal's lap, wincing when the movement made certain overused parts of his body throb.

Mal saw the other man flinch. "Hurts?"

"A little," Simon admitted.

Not relinquishing his hold on Simon, Mal fished around the covers. Finding the last care basket where it had been thrown carelessly under the blankets, he dug into it one-handed. Retrieving the tube he was looking for, the captain deftly opened it and squirted some of its contents out onto his fingers. He shifted Simon closer and blindly searched for the opening to the younger man's body. He knew when he found it, not only due to its warmth, but also by the way Simon flinched again. With infinite care, Mal spread the healing lotion around the tender flesh.

"Sex isn't all about friction and frenzy," Mal lectured as he worked. He heard Simon snicker and corrected himself. "Okay, it is all about friction but it doesn't have to be frenzied. Slow and gentle is nice too."

By this time, Mal had finished ministering Simon's sore bottom but he continued lazily rubbing the firmness of the younger man's cheeks. The doctor sighed and rested his chin on the captain's shoulder.

"This isn't going to happen again, is it?" Simon asked softly. He might be inexperienced in the ways of lovers, but he'd felt the goodbye in Mal's hands.

Mal stopped his kneading. "No, it's not. It can't."

"All right," the doctor got up from Mal's lap and, now that his ass didn't hurt quite so much, had an easier time of donning his underwear. "I thank you for your services." The younger man laughed bitterly. "I'd offer to reciprocate but something tells me that's the last thing you'd want."

"It's not a matter of what I want," Mal said slowly. "It's a matter of what's right. As the captain of this ship, I can't get involved with any of its crew or passengers. It would be enjoyable for the short term, but cause problems down the line. I can't have anyone thinking I'm playing favorites." He watched as Simon tugged on his trousers with short, abrupt movements that clearly revealed the other man's anger. "You feel this way now because I was your first. It'll pass, just you see. Before long, you'll have attracted so many lovers that I'll just be a faded memory."

By this time, Simon had finished with his pants and dug around the pile of discarded clothing until he found his vest. Draping it over his shoulder instead of putting it on, he reluctantly moved towards the ladder. When he had one foot on the first rung, Simon spoke again, although he didn't turn around to face Mal. "I've had to learn to do without a lot of things since I helped River escape. I've learned to do without money, to eat things I'd normally turn my nose up at, to be grateful for a tiny bunk on a small ship instead of being able to freely travel wherever I wanted to go... but of all the things I've learned to do without, this newest lesson, of learning to do without this between us... I think it's going to be the hardest."

Mal let the young man leave with his dignity intact. After Simon was gone, the captain fell back into the bed. Unlike Simon, this was a lesson he'd learned all too often and all too well...

.... and it was still painful.

~ the end ~  


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