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A Matter of Hierarchy

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Serenity's lights flickered once, then twice, then settled on sputtering like a dying candleflame. Simon gave up the task of sorting through his supplies to poke his head out of the infirmary and into the stretch of hallway. He moved cautiously as one never knew when a bit of the ship might just...fall off. Placing a hand to the doorframe, he felt as if some invisible layer guarded his little bubble of calm, a membrane stretched tight that he had to push his way through—and in doing so passed from a world of order to one of chaos.

A runaway train in the general shape of Jayne's bulk hurtled towards him, heavy footfalls turning thunderously loud as the power cut to nothing and dropped the ship into an abrupt silence. The darkness heavy and smothering, Simon held fast to the safety blanket of the doorframe, flinching at the push of air when Jayne swung in past him.

He didn't have a chance to ask what was going on before Jayne grabbed him by the belt and forced him into an awkward crouch. Jayne's voice grated more than usual in delivering a harshly whispered: "Hush up."

Just like that, Jayne's arm swung around Simon, his hand smacking over Simon's mouth to reinforce the order. As if Simon needed to be told to keep quiet twice. He had been in enough scrapes as a member of the crew to have learned better by now.

Jayne didn't ease into his crouch, remaining on-edge and wary, a mountain of tensed up muscle pressed close to Simon. Simon suffered equal parts unease and comfort by the virtue of Jayne's presence—on the one hand, Jayne knew how to deal with trouble, but on the other hand, Jayne managed to carry with him his own brand of trouble.

Minutes dragged by and turned into more minutes. Simon struggled with the conflict of emotion when the passage of time carried with it nothing but the pound of his heart and Jayne's quiet, measured breaths. The moment stretched into tedium, cresting the point where Simon's attention jumped to every little sound echoing up from the rest of the ship. Accordingly, he began to notice more immediate, trivial things like how his lips touched against the pollicis brevis of Jayne's big hand and that the palm of said hand had grown damp from sweat or perhaps the moisture in Simon's own breath. He noticed, too, the creeping ache in his calves from the effort of keeping still, and the precariousness of his huddled stance which forced him to lean in such a way that he found himself cradled uncomfortably against Jayne's chest.

As if sensing Simon's unease well on its way towards blossoming into a full-blown episode of extreme disquiet, the lights in their mercy chose to return at half-power. The familiar shapes and angles of the infirmary sprang back into his vision. The whites and chrome carried a sickly, jaundiced glow until the lights powered up to full.

Simon chanced to look to Jayne. "What's going on? Did something happen with the transfer?"

"Told you to shut your ruttin' trap, pretty boy," Jayne growled. His grip tightened, fingers curled around hard enough to force Simon's cheek against his teeth. Some great comfort he was.

Jayne leaned forward, and Simon struggled not to lose his balance as the only options presented to him were either to move with Jayne or have his head wrenched from his shoulders. Having been in possession of his head since birth, Simon was rather keen on the notion of keeping it.

"False alarm!" Mal's voice rang down the corridor. Seconds later he shadowed the infirmary's entrance to repeat the announcement with enthusiasm.

Free at last from Jayne's grip, Simon greedily sucked in air and worked his jaw from side to side. He honestly didn't need the occasional reminder of just how much strength Jayne actually possessed.

"Heard you the first time, captain," Jayne muttered, brushing his hands over his shirt as if it were covered in dust. Or cooties. Simon ran a shaky hand down his own front for good measure.

"Then there's no need for me to query the doc to test your hearing. And since no examination needs be done, there's no sensible reason for you to be taking up the man's time."

Jayne straightened his posture. He tucked his gun into the back of his pants at the hollow of his spine and shot an oddly challenging look at Simon before trailing out behind Mal. Alone again, Simon sagged against the counter, troubled to his core as something in his chest had made a highly disturbing flutter when Jayne's gaze had skewered him.

It didn't help in the least that he could taste Jayne's sweat on his lips.

Or feel the phantom swell of muscle against his shoulder.

"Oh God," Simon said, staring down at his body and wondering if some freak accident had replaced it with nerves and impulses that really shouldn't have come from his own.


Horrifically, Simon's chest tormented him with that same stupid loopy twist the next time Jayne's path crossed his. The circle of River's arms tightened around the crook of his elbow.

"This here's for walkin', not standing around on like a bunch of-" Jayne failed to come up with an appropriate metaphor, but it didn't matter since he was already taking the stairs two at the time away from the catwalk. Giving up on finding the right words, he threw a hand up in a powerful signal of his disgust for being slowed down on his way to doing something important like clean his guns for the third time today.

"Pounding, like pistons," River said. She rested her head on Simon's arm and kicked one leg out, toes flexed and foot idly rotating at the ankle. "Things that slam and thrust and take and take some more."

Simon flinched. Those words in that tone shouldn't ever have come out of his sister's mouth.

"Hierarchical," River added, "a pecking order. You're on the bottom."

"River, that's enough," Simon said.

"You like it there."

Simon looked upward in the hopes that a part of the ship would fall off right now and kill him dead.


"You're acting mighty curious," Kaylee commented.

Simon sank into the cushions of the sofa. "I've had a lot on my mind."

"Nothing bad, I hope."

For how far they had come and all that they shared after they had fallen apart and built things up again, Jayne's effect on him wasn't something Simon felt like explaining to Kaylee of all people.

Odds were she'd get all excited about playing matchmaker.


Simon's luck for better or worse had circumvented the third-party stage and instead led him directly into a confrontation. Unfortunately in most situations, he really didn't do well at facing things head-on.

"Look, I ain't stupid."

Case in point: despite a comment that should drum up the most obvious of retorts, he had no idea what to say. Jayne's hand less than an inch from the side of his face complicated things exponentially.

"I seen your eyes on me," Jayne said. His arms bracketed Simon like a cage, shirtsleeves riding up on his biceps.

Simon stared directly up into Jayne's face. "My eyes haven't been anywhere. I don't have the slightest what you're referring to." His heart sped into triple-time.

"You're horny for me. Horny as a whore looking at a man that done just got paid." Jayne's mouth twisted into an insufferably smug smirk. "Fanciful clothes and prettied up words, I always reasoned you for a pillowbiter. That why you and li'l Kaylee called it quits? She grow weariful of always having to wear the pants and the hardware?"

That hadn't been it! Far from it, but of all the people who needed to know the intricacies of his relationship with Kaylee, Jayne was so far down on the list his name was crammed into the margin. The crudity of Jayne's comment did its trick though, further rendering Simon speechless.

"Figured," Jayne said, crowding in just a little closer. The tip of his nose hovered so close to Simon's that Simon feared breathing lest that bring them to touching.

"H-hard up for it are you?"

"Not s'much as you, peg-boy." Jayne's eyes slid down Simon's front, and Simon's skin flushed hot as a sun beneath his collar. He broke out in a light sweat when Jayne shoved a leg forward, ground his thigh between Simon's and got more than a slight twitch of proof.

"This is highly inappropriate," Simon snapped, as surprised as Jayne when the force in his voice matched the way he'd rehearsed it in his head.

Jayne's surprise snuck away quicker than his own though, and he looked down to find a fist crumpling the front of his vest.

"Chun zhu! What's inappropriate is you being all high and mighty and turning down a perfectly good fuck," Jayne spat, literally, since Simon felt flecks of spittle strike high on his cheek. Simon turned his face away, nose crinkling in disgust.

"A good fuck, from you," he said, a laugh on his lips. His limbs unfroze and he put a hand to Jayne's chest. He pushed, fingertips going white as they grated against Jayne's sternum.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means you couldn't find your dick with two hands and a torch."

"Could if I held the torch in my mouth," Jayne said. He released his hold on Simon and smacked at the wrinkles left by his grip in Simon's clothes. He didn't step back though, not an inch, and Simon shuddered when Jayne's knuckles skimmed down his disheveled vest and towards his belt. "Don't take some kind of freak genius with three arms to find yours."

And with that, Jayne's hand gripped his crotch, fingers splayed to trap his prick and his balls all at once. Simon edged up, heels rising off the floor. He reached towards the controls for the door, but couldn't quite... "What are y-"

Jayne's hand tightened, not quite a threat to crush when a turn to his wrist put all the pressure on the stiffening length of Simon's cock. He leaned in, wolf-grin blurring in the field of Simon's vision. His breath washed hot over Simon's lips. "Giving you what you so sorely want, but ain't got the bleedin' innards to ask for."

"I- River-"

"She ain't coming back."

Simon's eyes, which had somehow begun to grow heavy, flew wide, and he struggled anew against Jayne. He bodily forced Jayne back a step, and whirled around to open the door. "If you-"

"She's steering the ship, dumbass," Jayne said, catching his hand at the wrist. "Besides, who d'you thunk told me to get on in here? Mal and Zoe don't care none that you're a pansy slut in need of a real man."

Simon could feel his mouth working, but the only sound in the entirety of his quarters was the air cycling from the vents and a low chuckle from Jayne. Realising Jayne hadn't laid a hand on River—not that, in retrospect, River couldn't take care of herself—had stolen all his steam and put him right back at square one. Jayne shamelessly took advantage of the fact, shoving him face first into the door and skidding a hand down his side. To his consummate shame, the moan that had hung trembling on Simon's lip peeled itself free.

His knees buckled, but the sag of his weight didn't send him dropping. Rather, Jayne hauled him back, shoved him stumbling towards River's bed. Simon managed somehow to catch himself and move to his own bunk, because if this was really happening, it wasn't going to happen where his sister slept.

"Are you even going t-"

"Enough talking," Jayne said, and Simon blushed like a virgin when he saw that Jayne's fly already hung open and he was busy tugging his cock free.

"Oh God." Simon felt his jaw go slack, mouth open to catch flies, or maybe to do something else. He undid the buttons of his vest, stripping it free, tossing it aside and steeling himself for the possibility of wrapping his lips and tongue around-

But then Jayne's hand was on the back of his neck, spinning him around and shoving him down face first into his own pillow. Simon's body ran two steps in front of his mind, and his hands didn't feel at all like his own as he hurriedly worked his pants down far enough to kick a leg free and stretched out towards the niche in the wall that held a field kit.

"Way ahead of you, doc," Jayne said, rough and right in his ear. The mattress bucked as Jayne leaned back, and then Simon's pants were rudely dragged off and slippery fingers pushed up between his legs just like that.

Simon squirmed as Jayne dropped back on top of him again, found his mark with lewdly searching fingers, and shoved the very tip of one inside him. Jayne muffled a hungry sound against his shoulder. "Tight as a twelve-year-old girl," Jayne groaned.

As unsexy as that had been, Simon's body clenched around Jayne's finger and he felt every millimetre as it withdrew and pushed in again slow enough that his mind whirled around the novelty of Jayne being gentle. By the time Jayne worked a second finger into him, he stopped trying to keep his throat closed tight as an airlock and let the pillow absorb the sounds he made.

"Oh yeah, knew you'd wriggle around all lively-like." Jayne's fingers pulled free, left Simon arching up right into a harsh smack that left the cheek of his ass smarting.

"Again," Simon moaned.


"Again. Smack me again."

He could practically feel the grin beaming on Jayne's face like a laser behind his shoulder. "Don't need to ask twice," Jayne said.

Simon rolled his eyes. "Aiya. I just did ask twice." he said, shoving up on his elbows to twist around and shoot a glare at Jayne.

"Well, you don't need to ask a third, then. So gorram pushy," Jayne muttered, and he put his hand to Simon's ass, palm curving over the fullness of it before he pulled his arm back and swatted Simon hard enough to make his teeth rattle.

Jayne kept to his word, delivering a series of solid smacks that got progressively harsher and didn't once pause to wait for Simon to ask for more. He stopped after nearly a dozen, hand caressing again, squeezing and groping as his fingers slipped into the cleft of Simon's ass. Simon half-panted and half-moaned, his head hanging and forehead just brushing the bed. His backside burned, flush with heat and stinging, and his cock ached. Mercifully, Jayne didn't need any instructions or a map when Simon pushed back, offered himself up.

"Told you that you was horny for me," Jayne said, and Simon nearly swallowed his tongue when Jayne wasted no time getting his cock nudged into place and pushed.

Too busy trying to remember how to breathe, Simon told the part of him that was still thinking to shut up and roll with it. Roll with it and arch into it and god, take every single bruise that Jayne's fingers were digging into his hip as Jayne thrust in balls-deep and fucked him straight into the mattress.

Jayne spit out a stream of filthy curses and mouthed a sloppy kiss against his neck. His chest brushed against Simon's back, the contact slick with mingling sweat. Jayne's arm curled under Simon, hand spread from hip to abdomen to keep their bodies tight together, make sure he felt the prickly grind of Jayne's pubic hair at the peak of each thrust. Simon twisted a handful of the sheets in his grip and just hung on. His body shuddered with the force of Jayne slamming into him, nerves lit up like a city in the Core.

Jayne fucked him so hard, he blacked out when he came.


"Better now?"

Simon blinked his eyes open. Immediately, he scrabbled for the sheets, as he became intensely aware that the only thing he had on was his shirt tangled at his elbows and a series of livid marks.

"River, uh, hi. What are you-" Simon whipped his shirt off, crumpling it in front of him since River's slight weight perched on his bed did an amazingly good job at pinning the rumpled sheets in place. "I thought you were, uh, flying the ship."

"Auto-pilot," she said.

"Right. Auto-pilot," Simon repeated numbly. The most vital parts of his nakedness covered, he reached out carefully for his pants. "This isn't what it looks like."

River cocked her head to the side and smirked at him, and if waking up post-coital to find his sister sitting at the edge of his bed had made his face burn, the smirk made it a hundred times worse.

The door to their room slid open. "We're coming up on-" Mal stopped short, turning on his heel the second his gaze hit Simon. He scratched at the back of his head, a shudder rippling his frame. "On the last thing in this lifetime I had a need to see."

River slid off the bed. "Debris," she said, slinking past Mal who made good and sure not to turn around again. For that, Simon felt grateful. He dragged his pants on as fast as humanly possible.

"When you're decent, doc, Jayne's been asking for you," Mal hollered, well away from the open door.

Simon's head jerked up. How long had he slept? A spark skittered down his spine, and his stomach was back to doing those flips again. He'd held out some vague hope that it was out of his system.

Mal's voice echoed back, mostly out of earshot, but not quite that Simon couldn't hear the commentary, "Lord knows why. It's unnatural, him not keeping ten paces and then some."

River said something in response, and with creeping dread, Simon gathered up the rest of his clothes. Clearly it hadn't been Kaylee that he should've been worried about.

"Last thing in this lifetime I needed to know!" Mal cried.

Simon groaned. He was never leaving his room again.