The ship was noisy, because she was always noisy. Jayne had gotten used to it: the incessant hum of the ventilation, the clanking of the air filter system as it cycled on and off, the weird thrumming under his feet when Wash pushed it too hard when he did a burn. It was almost soothing. Now, late at night, as he prowled Serenity, he actually listened. He caught its rhythm. He held his breath so he could hear, and right on cue, the ventilation system clanked as some unseen mechanism made an adjustment on some unknown but completely regular schedule.
He'd gotten up when he realized he'd been waiting. It bothered him, that he was waiting. He'd woken up abruptly at midnight exactly and held his breath, listening hard, because he figured something had woken him up—something like the bang of his door as Simon opened it, or the sound of Simon's feet as he descended the ladder into Jayne's room. Some sound like that. But there had been nothing, and he'd been disappointed.
He didn't like that—the disappointment.
It was just for fun, what they did. He liked getting laid, and he liked getting laid regularly even better. And he liked fucking Simon. The little noises Simon made, his aggression, his directness in taking what he wanted—Jayne liked all those things. Jayne wasn't one to play games, and lots of people liked to play games when it came to sex. But he and Simon didn't play games. They fucked at night, and during the day, they sniped at each other. Mal had just said last night, when they'd been arguing about something at dinner, that they needed to play nice because all their carping was driving him nuts. Jayne could only imagine Mal's reaction if he found out what Simon and Jayne got up to at night.
Jayne sighed. He knew exactly what Mal's reaction would be. He'd raise his eyebrows and say, "Huh. Now how 'bout that." And that would be it.
But this waking up thing? It wasn't new. He'd been doing it for maybe a month. He'd wake up, his dick iron hard and aching, ready. Usually he'd go back to bed once he figured out it wasn't Simon. And sometimes it really was Simon, and Simon would take off his clothes and put his vest back on, and lay Jayne open. Maybe it was the doctor in him that taught him how to do that: where to touch, how hard to push.
Jayne thought it was okay to want it, because who didn't want to fuck someone willing? And Jayne still got some on the side, so it wasn't like they were exclusive. But two days ago, there'd been his side trip on Tair, the planet they'd visited last. He'd made an appointment with a respectable doctor and paid what in his opinion was far too much money for a scan that took less than five minutes, although he had to wait an hour for the results. What he paid would have bought a lot of alcohol and an all-night threesome. And what he got for it was a disk smaller than his palm, proving that he was free of disease, certified by the doc, all on the up and up. It was a standard scan for people emigrating to the colonies. Jayne didn't have a medical reader, of course, but he'd looked as the doctor showed him the results, nodding like it meant something, and he'd taken the disk from her and paid her, with no arguments about the price. And he'd set it on the counter in the infirmary when no one was in there and just left it. Next time he glanced in, it was gone.
Maybe it was the kissing. Maybe that was it. He should never have let Simon kiss him—too intimate. Because he woke up at night now, burning for Simon, wanting Simon to pin him to the bed, to ride him, and that was it, wasn't it, the fact that in bed, Simon wasn't afraid of Jayne's size or power, and Jayne loved it.
He fucking loved it.
Jayne pushed the infirmary door open. When he'd set out to take this little midnight walk, he hadn't had a destination in mind, but here he was, in the room where Simon spent most of his time, doctoring up the crew members and trying to figure out what was wrong with his insane sister. Jayne stopped by one of the beds. Simon had taken him here once, not long ago, and Jayne had come all over the bed. Jayne had watched himself come—he hadn't been wearing a condom—and it had been the hottest thing ever, jacking off while Simon pounded him, watching himself erupt and feeling it in his gut at the same time.
"When you fuck me," he'd said to Simon. "It's like a knife, right through me." It was as close as he could come to saying how fucking Simon made him feel. And Simon hadn't understood. He'd said something about prostates and penises and anuses, and he'd even shown Jayne a little diagram of the inside of his body, to explain why Jayne liked it so much. That wasn't what Jayne had meant at all, but he didn't know how to tell Simon. But ever since that day, ever since he'd watched himself, he'd been thinking, dreaming, fantasizing about fucking skin to skin, no plastic. He'd gone to the doctor and gotten certified clean, and now he was in the infirmary.
The condoms were where they always were. Jayne wondered how many people dipped into the stash. He figured Inara kept her own. She probably had special Companion ones, maybe in different colors and flavors and thicknesses. But instead of taking any condoms, he pocketed a packet of lube, then shut the drawer and leaned against the counter. After a second, he kicked off his shoes. He knew what he wanted. He wanted Simon, skin to skin, and now. Right now. But Simon always came to him, never the other way around, because River's room was right across from his.
It was time for a change, that was all there was to it.
The door to Simon's room slid on its tracks silently. He stepped inside and shut it behind him. When his eyes got used to the dark, he glanced about. Even though River's room was right across the hall, he wouldn't have been surprised to find her asleep on the floor or something. She was always around, and it drove him nuts because she was so damn weird. She said things to him that he didn't understand, and sometimes she was violent. He understood that she was sick and not right in the head, but he had little patience for her. He didn't understand how Simon could put up with it, day in and day out, without complaining.
He saw that Simon was alone, deeply asleep, his dark hair messy and his mouth open. He was wearing light-colored pajamas, primly buttoned all the way up, so only the hollow of his throat was exposed. Jayne crossed the room silently in his sock feet, careful not to trip, and leaned over and covered Simon's mouth with his hand.
Simon's eyes flew open and he started to sit up, but Jayne pushed him down. "Shh," he breathed. The last thing he wanted was Simon's crazy sister to show up.
"Mmf," Simon said.
Jayne bore down harder. "Shh," he repeated as Simon started to thrash.
Instead of quieting down, Simon tried to hit him, so Jayne sat on him, which took a little more work than he had anticipated. The struggle was brief but intense, and Jayne won because he had the advantage of size and surprise. When Simon finally stopped moving, Jayne cautiously let up the pressure on Simon's mouth. Simon was all tensed up. He didn't scream, so Jayne put his hands on Simon's neck. Simon's face was a pale blur, with darker smudges for his eyes and mouth. Jayne, cock throbbing, lowered his head and kissed Simon's ear. As he nuzzled, he felt Simon go limp. Jayne took both Simon's wrists in one of his hands and pushed Simon down as he stuck a knee between Simon's legs. Simon pushed at him, but it lacked the desperation Jayne had felt before, when Simon had thought Jayne was attacking him.
"Shh," Jayne admonished, and he sat back.
If River was going to wake up, it would most likely be now, after hearing his footsteps, or the door, or the muted struggle. Jayne wasn't sure how he'd explain why he was sitting on top of her brother in the middle of the night with an erection and lube in his pocket, but with any luck, he wouldn't have to. A minute went by, then two, then three, both of them listening intently.
"She's asleep," Jayne breathed as, one-handed, he pulled Simon's pajama bottoms down. "Not a word," he whispered, spacing the words for emphasis. Still holding Simon's wrists, he put his free hand on Simon's cock. Jayne was still hard—from anticipation, and from Simon's struggles underneath him—but Simon's penis was small and soft in the tangle of dense pubic hair. Jayne lowered his head and, without pausing, without giving himself time to think, he took the whole thing into his mouth. He felt Simon's body stiffen in shock. In his mouth, Simon's cock swelled. He could feel it plump up. Jayne stroked his tongue along its length and felt it unfold. The experience was so novel that he let go of Simon's wrists. Simon wasted no time: he hauled Jayne up by the ears.
"No," Simon said.
Jayne took off his shirt. "Yes," he said. He began unfastening his pants. They were speaking very quietly. "I'm clean, and you know it." He assumed Simon was clean, because Simon was a doctor. "I ain't in the mood to wait." His pants and briefs joined his T-shirt. Before Simon could say anything else, he put Simon's hand on his cock. "Shut up," he said, and to make his point, he kissed Simon. He made it good.
When he felt Simon's hand close around his cock and begin to stroke, he backed off. He didn't think Simon would cause him any more problems. He helped Simon take off his pajamas, until there was nothing between them, and Jayne knelt between Simon's spread legs. He really wasn't in the mood to wait. Instead of taking his time, toying with Simon until Simon panted for it, he stroked Simon's now-hard cock, feeling the slippery, warm skin slide over the hard shaft underneath, and then took it in his mouth.
Jayne ran the tip of his tongue around the cap of Simon's penis, then licked the slit at the tip. He pursed his lips around the tip and sucked slowly. Usually, he had to push hard against plastic to feel Simon's heat, but now, it was right there, throbbing in his mouth, and the taste—he hadn't expected the taste, kind of dusky and salty and a little bitter. He slid his mouth down the shaft, experimenting with his tongue. He felt Simon's breathing quicken as he drew his mouth up slowly, sucking hard, and then pressed down again, feeling Simon's cock rub against the top of his mouth. Instead of the hard slickness of plastic, he felt the warm, living elasticity of Simon's cock, the sponginess of its head. When he drew his lips up very, very slowly, he could feel every vein, every fold in Simon's dick. Every time Jayne inhaled, he smelled Simon—his sweat, his excitement, and the smell, combined with the taste, hit Jayne in the back of the brain. His own cock jutted out, rock hard, as he teased Simon.
When Simon put his hand around the base of his own cock, Jayne included some of Simon's fingers in the treatment he was giving Simon's cock, sucking at them briefly before moving back up. Simon made a little noise, the noise he unconsciously made when he was really hot, and began sliding his fingers along his cock as Jayne sucked, matching Jayne's rhythm. For a long few minutes, Jayne, feeling his own cock throb, licked and sucked Simon's fingers and cock, setting a slow, steady rhythm. Then Simon's hips began to move, and he began thrusting into Jayne's mouth as he began to masturbate in earnest. He made a quiet little sobbing noise, and he came, jetting hard, flooding Jayne's mouth with thick, acrid liquid. Jayne let it gather in his mouth, spurt after spurt, before swallowing. There wasn't as much as he thought there would be.
The second Simon released his cock, spent, Jayne unceremoniously flipped him over. He managed to find the bottle of lube, still in the pocket of his pants. He was so hard that he was practically vibrating. The taste, coupled with Simon's obvious pleasure, had made him more than ready. He slicked himself up and pulled Simon's hips up and back, so Simon had to come up on all fours. Simon was still panting from his orgasm as Jayne found the pucker of his asshole with his fingers.
Jayne couldn't wait. He centered himself and with one thrust of his hips, pushed himself in to the hilt. He stopped, stunned at the sensation. Simon was slick and hot inside, and he was tight. Jayne could feel every inch of his cock in Simon. The sensation hit him in the stomach. He was skin to skin, just like he'd wanted. He bit his lip so he wouldn't cry out or moan. He pushed forward until his aching balls pressed against Simon's ass. He jerked himself forward a couple times, stimulating his balls by banging them against Simon, feeling it straight through his body, before giving it to Simon in earnest. He fucked Simon with long, hard strokes, pulling Simon into him by the hips. Simon braced himself under him, weight on his forearms, exhaling hard with each of Jayne's thrusts in. He didn't shove back onto Jayne's dick but held himself steady, letting Jayne push and pull, letting Jayne ride him. Jayne liked the immediacy of the warmth and tightness, which had always been blunted before by the condom. When he pulled back, Simon's ass released his cock reluctantly. He could feel it dragging at him, seeking to keep Jayne inside. When he pushed in, his penis drove into a bubble of charged heat that reluctantly, sensuously opened to him. It took maybe a dozen strokes before he lost it. He lunged forward, fingers pulling Simon close, and he erupted, coming in a series of intense, hard little rushes, the only sound his gasps of breath as he fought to keep silent.
He pulled himself out as soon as he was done. When he let go of Simon, Simon collapsed forward and turned on his side. He pulled a trembling Jayne next to him. "Shh," he breathed in Jayne's ear. Jayne opened his mouth and tried to slow his breathing. He couldn't catch his breath. His orgasm, blinding and white-hot, had taken it all. Jayne felt Simon's chest move against his back as Simon twisted to pull the light blanket up to cover them. The length of Simon's body pressed against his back a moment later. Jayne relaxed into Simon's arms. Simon made tiny soothing sounds right into Jayne's ear. "Mmm," he said, deep in his throat, like he was purring. "Mmm."
Jayne felt himself grow heavy and warm as Simon stroked him. Simon's breath felt cool on his sweaty neck. When Jayne realized he was falling asleep, he forced his eyes open and pushed the blanket down. The cool air helped some. He rolled onto his back and pulled at the bedclothes until they gave up his pants. The briefs were still inside. It was time to go. His T-shirt had fallen to the floor. He felt for the tag and pulled it on. He let Simon tug it down.
Before he could get up, Simon straddled him. Jayne sat back as Simon's hands ranged from his shoulders down his arms, then back up; down and up his chest; and then up to his neck and ears, weaving his fingers into Jayne's hair. Simon cupped Jayne's face in his hands and leaned forward. Jayne put his hands on Simon's hips. Simon's lips brushed Jayne's, first gently, then harder, his tongue persuasive, his teeth lightly scraping Jayne's mouth. Jayne tightened his hands. Simon's fingers stroked his cheekbones and around his ears as they kissed, and Jayne shut his eyes and opened his mouth. The intimacy of it—the touch on his face as their tongues twined together, the sensuousness of Simon's mouth on his, the feeling of Simon's body under his hands, the message Simon was giving him that fucking skin to skin had turned him on—overwhelmed him. The kiss was like touching the flesh of Simon's cock with his mouth for the first time and feeling Simon unfold. It was like driving into Simon's body: it was a kind of wanting that made him forget where he was. It made him forget everything except Simon's body against his.
Jayne opened his eyes when Simon pulled back. He regretfully let go as Simon shifted positions, kneeling at Jayne's side. Simon pressed a last kiss on Jayne's stomach. Jayne stood up and pulled his T-shirt the rest of the way down as Simon rearranged pillows. When he left, Simon, dark hair messy, skin gleaming pale in the half-light, was sprawled across the bed.
Jayne shut the door behind him and stopped to let his eyes adjust to the light. The wanting that had driven him here had been transmuted into a warm glow in his belly. He listened carefully, but he could hear nothing from either Simon's room or the room across the corridor. He knew coming to Simon's room had been begging for discovery. It was incredibly stupid, just like wanting to feel Simon without anything between them was stupid. But he would remember this for a good long time, and even if it was stupid, it had been worth it.
Instead of heading back to his bunk, he quietly stepped across the hall and stood by River's door. He spread out his arms and braced himself against the door frame as he set his ear very close to the door and held his breath. In his mind's eye, he could see River doing just what he was doing. She would stand at Simon's door like a ghost and listen to the bed creak, listen to the slap of flesh against flesh. She would hear the wild panting and the gasps of pleasure. She would listen to their furtive coupling, not at all fooled by their attempts to keep silent.
Nothing. He heard nothing.
There was a low thump, and Jayne froze. Somewhere above him, a ventilation shaft fluttered open. He looked up, squinting, feeling the rush of air across his face, the sound of the ventilator suddenly very loud, and when he looked back down, the door was open. River was on the other side, arms extended, mirroring Jayne's posture. She was looking up at him. His hands closed reflexively around the door's edges.
"Shh," she whispered. "Quiet. Listen."
The warmth in Jayne's stomach turned into a knot. He thought of Simon, just beyond a closed door, nude, lying in rumpled bedclothes, arms outflung, fucked and ready to sleep. River, ghostly pale in some kind of white nightgown that barely came to her knees, somehow resembled him right now, her skin the same moonlight color, her face a perfect oval. Her dark hair tangled around her shoulders.
"Secrets in the dark," River said, her voice so quiet that Jayne had to strain to hear. "His is that he wants it. Mine is that I pretend not to know. What's yours?" She cocked her head. "Oh," she said understandingly, as if Jayne had spoken. "Yes."
She dropped her arms. She seemed much smaller than him. Jayne trembled slightly as she touched his shoulders, but he didn't move. Her fingers lightly ran along his arms, then back. Her touch along his chest was equally delicate. When her fingers wound into the hair just behind his ears, his heart started pounding. She had to come up on her toes to touch her lips to his. He felt her tongue lick delicately. It was Simon's goodbye kiss all over again.
She tasted exactly like Simon.
Jayne wrenched his head back, and River settled to her usual height. They stared at each other for a long few seconds. The knot in Jayne's stomach twisted. He didn't like where this was going. He didn't like what it implied River knew. She understood too many things—too damn many things.
River slid a hand along his chest and around his neck. She leaned up as, unwillingly, Jayne bent down. She wanted to say something. He had to listen. She put her lips next to his ear.
"Mmm," she purred.