Title: Catharsis
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Simon's having a bad night.

*Oh, God...* Simon gasped and twisted away from Mal's mouth on his nipples. "Too much," he ground out. "Can't--"

"Sssh." Mal pressed a kiss to his temple. "You can." He brushed kisses over Simon's forehead, his eyes, hands soothing caresses over his body. "Do you trust me?"

"Yes, but--"

"Sssh." Mal kissed his lips lightly. "I won't give you anything more than you can handle."

"I can't handle this," Simon said shakily.

"You can." Mal kept stroking him, running gentle hands over his chest and his arms. "Just relax into it."

"I'm trying!" Simon's voice was tight and his body denied his words. He was tense as whipcord, every muscle hard as rock under Mal's hands.

"Relax," Mal murmured. "Relax...that's it, Simon. Nothing's gonna hurt you here. Feel this? Feel my hands on you? Doesn't hurt, does it?"

Simon shook his head. "No," he whispered. "It doesn't."

"And it's not going to." Mal stretched out next to him on the bed. He leaned on one elbow, his other hand still smoothing over Simon's body. "I won't give you anything more than you can handle."

"I--I know." Simon sighed.

"You know here." Mal tapped his forehead. "But not here." He rested his hand over Simon's heart, over the sunburst. "What's got you so tied in knots?"

"At the moment? You do," Simon said wryly. He pulled at the strips of fabric securing his wrists to the bed.

"Not what I meant." Mal smiled but didn't release him. "Why're you so tense tonight?"

"I--I don't know."

"What did I tell you about lying to me?" Mal said softly. Damn. He'd thought they were past this, thought Simon finally trusted him enough to open up. But he was back to square one tonight, and if Simon didn't relax the rest of the evening wasn't gonna be fun for either of them.

"I'm not lying, Mal." Simon swallowed. "I don't--" He sighed. "It's just..."

"Just what?" Mal prompted.

"River," Simon blurted. "She's had--out of the past five days, she's had one and a half good ones. And what if she needs me at night? What if--what am I doing here when she could be having a bad night?"

Mal heard what Simon wasn't saying. "So you feel guilty," he said, answering the unspoken admission. "Because you're here and she's in her bunk." *Because you're getting some pleasure out of life.*

"Yes." Simon answered without thinking. "Wait--I didn't mean--"

"Simon." Mal bent and kissed him briefly. "Did we or did we not hook up that monitor to your sister's bunk?"

"We did," Simon admitted reluctantly.

"And haven't we proven that if River's having a bad night, she'll find you? Or the monitor will let you know something's wrong?" Mal asked.

Simon nodded--also reluctantly.

"So what's the real problem?" Mal reached up and untied Simon's wrists from the bed. He stretched out, drawing Simon into his arms. "What's really going on here?"

Against his chest, Simon sighed. But bit by bit, his body began to relax. "It's not fair," Simon whispered. "I'm here, with you, and she's--" He shook his head. "She'll never be able to have a normal life, no matter what I do. She'll never know what it's like to feel this, to--she's so lost, Mal, so damaged--there's only so much I can do for her, and it'll never be enough."

Mal stroked his hair, letting Simon get it out.

"It's not fair," Simon said again. "Half the time I still have to drug her in order for her to sleep. And here I am, and--"

"And you think you shouldn't be," Mal finished quietly.

"Yeah." Simon sighed again.

"Simon--" Mal drew back a little. "You can't give up your whole life for her. You have to live for yourself too."

Simon laughed, but it sounded choked. "I *did* give up my whole life for her!"

"And now you have a new one. Here, on *Serenity*." Mal pressed his lips to the top of Simon's head. *With me.* But he didn't--couldn't--say that.

"She's my *sister*," Simon whispered painfully. "How can I not--she needs me, Mal."

*I need you.* The thought would have scared Mal if he hadn't had it before. Maybe one of these days he'd admit it out loud. But--now wasn't the time. "All I'm saying, Simon, is that it ain't wrong for you to want to find some happiness of your own."

"It feels like it is," Simon said against his chest.

"I know." Mal held him close, kissed the top of his head. "I know."

The first tear hit Mal's chest in almost complete silence, followed by the second. And then Simon shuddered, once, and the dam burst.

Mal just held him through it, letting him get it out. After a minute, Simon's arms went around Mal and he held on almost chokingly tight, but Mal didn't move or let him go. Simon needed him.

"God, I'm a mess," Simon said finally. He pulled back, sniffed, wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. "And I got you all--"

"It's all right," Mal said. "I wash."

Simon laughed, almost hiccuping. "We have a handkerchief around here somewhere, right?"

Mal leaned off the bed and picked up the first soft thing he felt. It was his shirt, but that didn't matter. "Here," he said. "This'll work."

"Thanks." Simon wiped his eyes and blew his nose before tossing the shirt back on the floor.

"C'mere." Mal drew Simon into his arms again. "Feel better now?"

"Some." Simon sighed. "I hate crying. It always leaves me with a headache."

"Better crying than cutting," Mal pointed out.

"I wasn't--I wouldn't--" Simon looked up at him. "I promised you I wouldn't."

"I know." Mal kissed his forehead, then his lips. "Do you want to try again?" he asked.

Simon sighed and closed his eyes. "I think I need to," he admitted.

"Okay." Mal let him go and sat up. "On your back, arms over your head." When Simon did, Mal reached for the lengths of cloth and tied his wrists again. "How does that feel?"

"Um--" Simon tested the bonds and nodded. "Good."

"Close your eyes." Mal hadn't blindfolded him before but Simon needed it now. He lifted Simon's head and tied the fabric around his eyes carefully before putting Simon's head back down on the bed. "Can you see?"

"Not a gorram thing," Simon admitted. Mal nodded to himself, seeing the tension begin to melt away.

"Listen to me," Mal said quietly. "I want you to just focus on my voice. Ain't nothing else in this room but you and me. Nothing to worry about. Nothing to think about--just feel it, Simon. Listen to me, feel what I'm saying. You're safe here. You're completely safe. All you have to do is feel."

Simon sighed, his body going limp against the bed.

"Relax," Mal whispered. His hands began to move over Simon, petting and stroking him, coaxing him to respond even as he relaxed more. "Just feel."

He watched Simon carefully, saw the flush rise in his face and his cock harden. He felt Simon arch into his touch, heard his breath catch when Mal pushed his legs apart. "Mine," Mal said softly. "And there's nothing you can do about it, is there?"

Simon shook his head. "No," he breathed.

"But you don't want to." Mal's thumbs circled his nipples, rubbing them until they hardened under his touch. "Do you?"

Again, Simon shook his head, although his flush deepened. "No," he said again, almost inaudible.

Mal stretched out on top of him, knowing Simon loved the feel of Mal's weight pressing him down. "Tell me," he said. He licked a line down Simon's chest, swirled his tongue around one nipple before raising himself up on his hands. "Tell me who you belong to."

Simon's breath caught in his throat.

"I want to hear it," Mal murmured.

Simon struggled visibly for a long moment. "You," he finally whispered. "I--I belong to you."

"Good." Mal bit his throat, just shy of leaving a mark. "And that's how you want it, isn't it?"

"Yes," Simon whispered, swallowing convulsively.

"I know." Mal slid down Simon's body, mouth moving to his nipples. "Anything I want to do to you, you'll let me do. Any way I want to touch you, anything I want--you'll let me do anything, won't you? Because your pleasure is my pleasure and you know I won't ever hurt you."

Simon gasped, although Mal wasn't sure if it was from the words or Mal's mouth on his nipples, biting and sucking them, alternating hard and gentle in a random pattern. He smiled to himself--not like it really mattered.

"It burns," Mal said softly. "I know it burns. But it feels so good, doesn't it? Makes you arch into it, wanting more, until you wish I'd never stop."

"Please..." Simon swallowed hard.

"I didn't tell you to speak, did I?" Mal pinched his thigh, hard, and Simon whimpered. "Beg again and I won't let you come."

Simon bit his lip hard, clearly trying not to speak. "Do you need me to gag you?" Mal asked. He bit Simon's stomach and Simon twisted under him.

"No," Simon managed. "No, I'll--I'll be okay."

"I'm not gonna ask you again."

Simon nodded in acknowledgment, but didn't speak. Mal brushed a kiss over the inside of his thigh as a reward. "I'm going to take you, Simon," he said evenly. "I'm going to stretch you open with my fingers and then I'm going to take you--just slide my cock into you and take you until the only thing you remember is my name."

He heard a muffled sound and looked up, seeing Simon had bitten his lip in an attempt to stay quiet. "No," Mal said, shaking his head. "I don't want you bitin' through your lip." He grabbed a spare piece of fabric and crawled up Simon's body to gag him. "I know you can stay quiet. This way you don't have to worry about it."

Simon shuddered; Mal paused to kiss his forehead, tasting the salt of sweat, before sliding back down. "Maybe I won't bother to stretch you open," he mused. "Maybe I'll just slick my cock and take you that way." Simon's body jerked, once, and Mal smiled. "I think you like that idea," he said lightly.

If they hadn't been lovers for some time now, Mal wouldn't have tried it. But they had, and Simon was used enough to him that he wasn't worried about Simon's ability to take it. He reached for the lube and slicked his cock generously before kneeling between Simon's legs.

"Breathe," he reminded Simon. "This won't work if you don't breathe."

Simon made a muffled sound of agreement and bent his legs automatically. "Good," Mal murmured, right before he pushed inside.

Simon cried out, the sound muffled by the gag. But he didn't tense up, and when Mal glanced up he saw that Simon *was* remembering to breathe as best he could. "You okay?" he asked, swallowing.

A nod reassured him, and Mal kissed Simon's chest before beginning to move.

He took it easy at first, until Simon was writhing underneath him and the sounds he was making were gagged pleas for more. "I know," he whispered as he began to move harder, faster, practically slamming into Simon with every stroke. "I know how you want it."

Just like he knew if he moved just like *that*--Simon cried out and bucked up under him. "Come when you can," Mal told him. "You close?"

Simon nodded frantically. "Then come for me," Mal managed. *He* was close--Simon's climax would probably trigger his own, but he needed Simon to fall over the edge first.

The gag muffled some of Simon's cry, but not all of it. Come splattered both their stomachs before Simon sank back against the bed. And as Mal had thought, all it took was Simon's near-scream for him to go over the edge. He came hard, his vision greying out for a moment.

When he came back to himself, he managed to pull out carefully and untie Simon before he almost collapsed on the bed. Simon didn't even notice; Mal thought he'd blacked out. He reached for the shirt on the floor and wiped them both off--real cleanup could wait until one of them could stand.

Simon had begun to stir by the time Mal dropped the shirt back on the floor. He lay down again and pulled Simon into his arms, stroking his hair and his back, kissing the top of his head. "Simon," he murmured, wanting to remind Simon of where and who he was. "You with me?"

"Mm-mm." A shake of the head and Simon sighed.

"Come back when you're ready, then." Mal held him close. "I've got you."

He heard a mumbled assent before sleep dragged him down.
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