Title: Shattered
Rating: NC-17
Summary: "The gorram Feds got two victims out of the Tam family. Only difference is one's pretending like he's okay."

"One story per night," River says, popping into his room unexpectedly.

He flips over onto his stomach before she can see his chest. "River, what are you doing in here?"

She shrugs and comes to sit on the edge of his bed. "Not a story night."

"That's nice. Can you hand me my shirt?" Simon asks, trying not to sound too exasperated. He's not sure if he succeeds or not; then again, it's either really late or really early by ship's time and he was trying to get some sleep.

River gives him a look clearly stating she thinks he's an idiot, but hands him the dark gray pullover. "Patience," she says sadly.

Simon nearly strangles himself with the shirt before he puts it on. It's just a coincidence. It has to just be a coincidence. *River, please, don't do this to me.* "Mei mei--"

As soon as he's got the shirt on she throws herself at him, clinging tight. "Be patient," she says, head buried against his shoulder. "Takes time. Can't happen all at once. Simon, I didn't know, I didn't know--so much pain!"

"Sssh..." Simon rocks her, stroking her hair. "It's okay, mei mei. It's okay."

"It's not!" River lifts her head, looking at him with wild eyes. "You didn't tell me and I didn't see because there was too much else!" She puts a hand on his chest, right over the scar. "Glass of vodka," she says. "Put the scalpel down. Drink the vodka. Take off the shirt. Red on white, have the gauze handy, wear the vests, no one knows, no one knows..." She shakes her head, half-crying. "You didn't tell me!"

"You didn't need to know," he says, still trying to comfort her.

She hits his shoulder, hard. "I didn't see it! Why didn't I see it?"

Simon holds her tight, murmuring nonsense into her hair. "I didn't want you to," he says quietly. "You didn't need to know." *Because I couldn't tell you, River. Because you're my little sister and I'm supposed to protect you.*

"Simple Simon, shattered Simon..." River's crying now, clinging to him like he's the only stable thing in her world. "All that for me and I'm not even real!"

"Mei mei!" His tone is sharp enough to get her attention; she subsides a bit, looking up at him. "Mei mei," he says again, gently. "You're real. You're my sister--nothing was going to keep me from finding you."

River looks at him for a moment before burying her head in his shoulder again, crying so hard they're both shaking and all Simon can do is hold her, fighting back his own tears.


"Been spending a fair amount of time with the doctor lately," Zoe remarks, leaning back with her cup of coffee. It's a rare treat to have, and Mal's content to sit and savor it for the moment.

He nods, half-listening. Most of his awareness is focused on the delicious scent of the coffee.

"Everything okay with him?"

"He'll be fine," Mal says, resigning himself to the fact that he's going to have this chat whether he wants to or not. *Zoe, why do you have to bring this up now?*

"That wasn't what I asked, sir." Zoe looks at him over her mug, her eyes steady.

"No, I don't suppose it was." Mal sips his coffee, enjoying the rich, bitter taste.

She sighs, but doesn't back down. "Cap..." she says, warningly.

Mal sets his mug down. "The gorram Feds got two victims out of the Tam family," he says, quietly. "Only difference is one's pretending like he's okay." *Pretending so hard, hiding behind that arrogant exterior so no one'll look close enough to see the truth. Fooled me, even.*

"I figured as much," Zoe says. "Doctor's got that look in his eyes."

"What look?" Mal asks, even though he doesn't really need to.

She sighs. "Same one you do, sir. Look of someone who's been through too gorram much and keeps wondering what the hell he's doing still alive."

"I know what I'm doing alive," Mal says, a little more defensively than he'd like. *Sure I do. It's called penance.*

"Beggin' your pardon, Cap, but sometimes I wonder."

"Oh, you do?" Mal snaps. "Have I ever given you cause to doubt my sanity, Zoe?"

"Not your sanity that's in question right now," she says evenly. "And you know that."

He holds her gaze for a long moment before nodding. "I suppose."

River's subsiding, her sobs turning into hiccups and soft sniffles. Simon grabs a handkerchief and wipes her eyes, giving it to her so she can blow her nose. "How about we go get something hot to drink?" he asks her, smoothing her hair back from her face. "I think there's still some coffee left."

She shakes her head. "Tea," she says.

"Okay. Tea then." Simon stands up, but River makes no attempt to disentangle herself from him. He ends up walking to the kitchen with her wrapped around him, legs around his waist and arms around his neck. It's awkward, but she's not that heavy.

To his surprise, Zoe and Mal are in the kitchen, sitting at the table drinking what smells like coffee. "She having a bad night?" Mal asks, looking up from his mug.

Simon shrugs, trying to set River down. She resists for a moment before sliding off him and onto a chair. "Not me," she says, watching Simon as he heats water for tea.

"I'm fine, mei mei." Simon kisses the top of her head and sets a tea mug in front of her. *River, please, let's just have a quiet cup of tea and go back to bed. Don't do this to me, River. I can't handle it right now.*

"Not fine," she says sadly. "Shattered Simon."

Zoe watches Simon as the girl makes a slicing motion with one hand. He pales, turning away quickly to get his own mug. Well. That answers that, Zoe thinks.

When Simon sits down at the table, he is as composed as if nothing has happened. "Late night," he says, looking into his mug.

"Yeah." Mal sips his coffee. "Couldn't sleep?"

Simon glances at his sister. "*I* could sleep," he says, teasing River. "But River felt that since she couldn't sleep, I shouldn't either."

She makes a face at him. "Didn't wake you," she retorts.

"I just hadn't fallen asleep yet."

Zoe hides a smile. Times like these she can see the playful bond between the Tams. They must have been close growing up. The thought saddens her--they've both lost so much. She hides that as well, taking a sip of her coffee.

River shakes her head, her hair tumbling around her face. "Not a story night," she says. "Don't sleep when it's not a story night."

Story night? Zoe glances casually at Mal, who has shifted in his chair at this news, his pose outwardly casual. She knows him better than that; something River said has Mal keenly interested. Simon isn't doing such a good job of hiding his emotions--he's pale, staring fixedly into his mug.

"Let it out," River says, almost to herself. "Pale outside, red inside, make the inside outside, hide the truth..."

Simon stands abruptly and leaves the room, his back ramrod-straight.

Zoe looks between River and Mal, waiting for one of them to do something. River stays curled up in her chair, hugging her knees. After a moment, Mal stands, going after Simon.

"I don't think your brother's too happy with you," Zoe says mildly.

River shrugs. "Can't save them," she says suddenly, looking at Zoe.

Zoe sets her mug down carefully. "River?" she asks.

River's face twists in pain. "Can't save them," she whispers again. "Broken captain, shattered Simon..." She squeezes her eyes shut, shaking her head. "Be patient," she says. "Be patient. Angels aren't coming, no one's coming to save us, God's given up on us and he can't keep working this much but he's got nowhere else to go..." River's head jerks up. "Break it to put it together," she says.

It's an incredible effort to keep her composure, and Zoe's not sure she succeeds entirely. She knows she hasn't when she sees her hand shaking. *No one came. The angels abandoned us and left us for dead. Broke something in all of us; no one who was at Serenity's ever been the same.* Her hands clench around her mug as she blocks the memories.

"They didn't come for you," River says, looking down at her knees. "Not like he came for me." The sob catches in her throat. "But no one came for him!"

Zoe doesn't know what to say.

Mal finds Simon in the cargo bay, catching him by the shoulders and holding him still. Simon's stiff as a board under his hands and he's radiating anger and hurt. "Simon," Mal says quietly, trying to get his attention.

It takes a moment, but Simon lets out a ragged breath, his head dropping. "Was it so wrong of me to want to spare her this?" he asks, so softly Mal can barely hear him.

"No," Mal says simply. He tries to draw Simon closer, hoping the physical contact will soothe him, but Simon pulls away, hands clenching on the catwalk railing.

"I just--I need to be strong for her," Simon says, knuckles white. "I need her to know she can depend on me." He shakes his head. "How can I convince her of that now? How--" His voice catches and he swallows. "She thinks I'm as broken as she is," he says dully. "Like you do."

*"You're 'bout as broken as your sister."* Mal remembers. Probably wasn't the best thing to say at the time, but what's done is done.

Simon straightens up. "I can't do this anymore, Mal. I can't--I've got to put myself together. By myself." He releases the railing with an effort and turns, walking out of the cargo bay, picking up speed as he goes.

In the kitchen, River's eyes widen and she shoves her hands over her mouth. "Simon, no!"

Zoe looks, but does not see the doctor.

"No..." River moans, and almost faster than Zoe can follow, she jumps out of the chair, running for the infirmary.

Simon's running, taking the stairs two at a time, blindly heading for the only place he feels safe. He hears Mal behind him, knows the captain isn't making a real effort to catch him and isn't sure whether to be upset or relieved by that.

It doesn't matter.

*Just gotta get myself together. Can't lean on anyone, can't depend on anyone. Just have to be strong for River. That's all that matters. She's all that matters.*

Mal could catch Simon in an instant if he truly wanted to. He's holding back, waiting to see where Simon will go, although he's almost positive it'll be the infirmary. Simon feels more at home there than he does anywhere else; it's the closest thing he has to his old life. Medical equipment doesn't change much and Simon's made the infirmary his own space, organized it the way he likes.

As Mal follows the doctor, he's faced with the grim realization that he could very well end up bleeding from this night.

Zoe's chasing after River, hoping the girl won't need to be sedated. She has no idea what happened between River and Simon earlier that evening but the doctor had better be in better shape than his sister or they're all fucked. River's sprinting with the speed of a wild animal, focused on one thing only--getting to her brother. And despite everything, Zoe finds herself running as hard as she can just to keep up.

It's like everything's in slow-motion all of a sudden, Mal thinks. He sees River running for Simon, sees Zoe--Zoe?--trying to catch River, watches Simon try to get to the infirmary, and he realizes in an instant what's going to happen.

River slams into Simon, sending him flying backwards, arms instinctively windmilling as he tries to keep his balance. Mal catches him but it's not enough to keep them on their feet and the three of them go down, hitting the floor hard. Zoe had managed to stop before running into River, leaving her the only one still standing.

"Don't do it, Simon, don't do it, please, don't," River's begging, not seeming to care about her surroundings. Mal's almost willing to lay odds that she's forgotten he and Zoe are there.

"Sssh..." With an effort, Simon sits up, pulling River into his lap. "Mei mei, shush, I'm fine."

"You're not!" River insists. "Don't do it for me, Simon, please, don't do it for me..."

"Don't worry about me, mei mei," Simon says, rocking her.

"No," River whimpers, shaking her head against his chest. "No, Simon, please!"

Mal kneels next to them, ignoring the painful metal grating. "What's he going to do, River?" he asks.

"Red on white," she says, and there's a collective pause as everyone stops, realizing what she means.

"No, he's not," Mal tells her. "He won't. He promised me--right, Simon?" *Hwun dan...Simon, I told you no more. Don't you do this to me.*

"I won't," Simon agrees. "Mei mei, I won't."

"Liar!" She hits him in the shoulder.

Damn. Mal had been hoping he was the only one who knew Simon was lying through his teeth, but he supposed that was too much to ask for where River was concerned.

River raises her head, looking at Mal. "Can you put him together?" she asks urgently.

Slowly, Mal nods. "I'm trying, River," he says.

River rubs the back of her hand over her eyes and turns to Zoe, looking a little confused. "You put him together," she says; Mal feels his heart stop for a moment. "But who puts you together?"

Zoe crouches down on the other side of Simon and River. "Wash does, sweetie," she says, more gently than Mal would have expected from her.

After a moment, River nods. "Good," she says firmly. She kisses Simon on his forehead and slides out of his lap. Turning to Mal, she touches the back of his hand lightly. "Can you put him together?" she asks again.

The words are the same but the question's different. Mal nods, somehow understanding. "I can," he says. "Just like he can for you."

River smiles a little. "Blind leading the blind," she says lightly.

Mal reaches out and puts a hand on her shoulder. "I can see just fine."

She studies him carefully for a long moment, then nods. "Yes," she says. "You can." Standing, she turns to Zoe. "Is there any more coffee?"

Zoe laughs. "I don't know." She rises to her feet and they walk off together--but not before Zoe gives Mal a significant look. They will discuss this later, he's sure.

He's not looking forward to it.

"If you think I'm letting you sleep alone tonight, you're out of your ruttin' mind," Mal says evenly once they're gone. He hasn't spent the night with Simon before; he's come close, but they've never spent the entire night in the same bed. But it's what Simon needs, whether the doctor knows it or not.

"I thought we already established that," Simon says bitterly. "I'm crazy, remember?"

Mal ignores him and gets to his feet, taking Simon's hand. "C'mon," he says, pulling Simon up. *Doc, you're not as broken as your sister, you're worse off. At least she doesn't have to pretend to be sane and in control all the time.*

"Mal--I'll be fine." Simon makes a half-hearted effort to pull his hand away. "Just let me go back to my bunk and get some sleep."

"Sure." Mal nods agreeably. "I got no problem with that." He tightens his grip on Simon's hand. "Long as I'm there."

"That wasn't what I meant."

"I don't really care what you meant," Mal tells him. "I'm not letting you sleep alone tonight."

"You're psychotic," Simon grumbles.

"Been told that before," Mal agrees. "So. Your bunk or mine?"

"Both." Simon's jaw is set, and Mal knows he's not going to win this argument by any rational means.

"Mine, then." Mal drapes an arm around Simon's shoulders and steers him in the direction of his bunk. "Before you get any thoughts about trying to get rid of me," he says conversationally, "let me remind you that I'm bigger, I'm meaner, and I'm the captain. I'll make this an order if I have to, Simon."

Simon pointedly ignores him.

They reach Mal's bunk without running into anyone else, thank goodness, and Simon climbs down the ladder silently. "Does Wash know?" he asks as soon as the hatch is closed.

"Know what?"

Simon's mouth twists. "That you sleep with his wife."

*He's trying to get a reaction from you, Reynolds. Keep it together. Don't lose your temper or he'll leave and then you're both fucked.* "Not that it's any of your business," he says evenly, "but Zoe and I have never slept together."

He can see the struggle on Simon's face before the doctor sighs. "Sorry," he mumbles. "That was uncalled for."

Mal shrugs. "Not the first time someone's said something to me that wasn't called for."

"I can't keep leaning on you," Simon says, a bit desperately. "It's wrong, Mal, surely you see that!"

"Why's it wrong?" Mal asks.

"Because it only works if it goes both ways." Simon swallows. "And you won't let me give you anything."

That throws Mal for a loop. "Not right now, no," he says after a moment. "Right now you need to put yourself together."

"So I'm too weak," Simon says with disgust.

"Didn't say that." Mal walks over to Simon, resting his hands on Simon's shoulders. "You've just got a full plate right now, is all. Not saying I'm never going to lean on you, just that now isn't the time."

It takes a minute, but Simon nods. "Okay."

"Tired?" Mal asks.

"Some. Not enough to sleep." Simon steps away, practically vibrating with tension.

Mal reaches out and closes his hand around Simon's wrist, pleased to hear the sharp inhalation it causes. "This what you want?" he asks.

"No," Simon whispers, but it's a lie. Even if the rapid pulse under Mal's fingers wasn't a giveaway, it's impossible to miss the growing bulge in Simon's pants.

Deliberately, Mal tightens his grip. "Mal..." Simon's voice catches in his throat. "Mal, *please*..."

"It's what you want," Mal murmurs, watching Simon's pupils dilate and his breathing become more ragged.

Simon swallows, his Adam's apple bobbing in his throat. "M-maybe."

"Let it go," Mal says, feeling Simon's heart pounding. "Just let it go, Simon."

It takes one small tug on Simon's wrist, barely enough to pull his arm toward Mal, and Simon makes a soft, broken noise and falls to his knees.

Mal releases his wrist, watching Simon carefully for a moment before he goes to a drawer and pulls out a few things. "Stand up," he says quietly.

It never ceases to amaze Mal, the way the tension in Simon just melts away once he realizes that he's not in control anymore. Sometimes it takes longer than others; sometimes Simon will push him, challenging his dominance. But eventually, Simon will relax. And every time, a little less of it comes back.

He holds the strip of fabric up in front of Simon, letting Simon see it. "Close your eyes," he says, waiting to see if Simon will or if he'll hesitate. This is always the hardest part for him; if Simon's going to resist, he'll do it now. He won't win, of course, but he'll try.

But to his relief, Simon doesn't struggle against the command. He just closes his eyes, letting out a soft sigh. Mal cups the side of his face with a hand and kisses him, lightly. "Good," he says before he ties the blindfold around Simon's eyes.

Undressing Simon is always fun; Mal likes to run his fingers lightly over Simon's ribs, seeing if he can make Simon laugh and shiver under his hands. He likes seeing the pale skin emerge from the dark clothes Simon wears, likes feeling the warmth of Simon's body under his hands. He takes his time with it, until Simon's almost purring with pleasure and his cock is begging to be touched.

Mal guides him to the bed, easing him down on it. "On your stomach," he says, watching Simon lie down. "Legs spread, Simon--you should know that by now."

There's the faintest hint of a flush on Simon's face; he doesn't like being reprimanded. It's one of the reasons Mal avoids punishing him unless it's absolutely necessary--a mild comment is usually all it takes for Simon to behave. "Arms over your head," he says, running a hand down Simon's back, resting it possessively just above the curve of his ass. "Do you want me to tie you?"

He feels the ripple of surprise run through Simon at the question--a little hesitantly, Simon nods. "Please," he says, softly.

As Mal fastens each restraint, Simon relaxes a little more, until he's almost limp on the bed. "That's it," Mal murmurs, stroking Simon's back. "Let it go."

For a moment, Mal just stands next to the bed, his hand on the small of Simon's back. He can feel the miniscule tremors running through Simon and knows that it's going to be a long night. River scared him and Simon doesn't know how to deal with that.

He hates to break contact with Simon but he has to take off his own clothes. Fortunately, it only takes a minute and then Mal can climb onto the bed, hands running over Simon's body easily. He imagines he can feel the scars under his fingers, even though they're faded and if he wasn't looking he wouldn't know they were there. There are only two scars on Simon's body that are raised to the touch--the sunburst over his heart and patience in the middle of his chest.

The tremors are increasing; Simon's almost shuddering under his hands and Mal knows it's not with pleasure. His skin's cool, his heart's pounding, even though he's outwardly relaxed. "Simon," he says, quietly but firmly.

Like it always has before, using his name works. Simon lets out a deep, shaky breath, relaxing a bit. "Yes," he says softly.

"What do you need, Simon?"

"I--" Simon stops, shaking his head. "I need--" He stops again, unable to say the words.

"What do you need, Simon?" Mal repeats. He's kneeling between Simon's legs, hands on Simon's back, waiting.

"I can't," Simon whispers.

"Tell me," Mal says, not moving.

Simon shakes his head again.

"Simon, let me explain this. I got no problem with keeping you here for a week if that's what it takes." Mal's cock twitches at the thought of keeping Simon tied to his bed; he ignores it.

"You wouldn't," Simon says, half-pleading.

Mal doesn't answer.

"I--" Simon swallows. He's trembling under Mal's hands now, his skin ice-cold. "Make it stop," he bursts out, pleading. "Make it stop, Mal, please--I don't want to think anymore, I don't want to think about any of it--just for tonight, Mal, please, make it stop!"

Mal thinks briefly about untying him before deciding against it. Simon needs something to struggle against, and he'd rather it be pieces of fabric than a live target. "Okay," he says, brushing a kiss over the back of Simon's neck. "Okay."

Now he just has to figure out how to do it. Simon's too keyed up for soft commands and gentle caresses; eventually, perhaps, but not now. Unwillingly, Mal's thoughts turn toward the black whip he keeps hidden, tucked far away at the bottom of a drawer under spare shirts.

No. No, he can't do that. He can't use the whip on Simon; not when he knows, all too well, how it feels. The whip is his personal Hell, his private salvation.

Simon shifts under him and Mal realizes he has stopped moving, lost in thought. "Don't you dare move," he says in a low growl. "You know the rules, Simon. You don't move unless I tell you, you don't speak unless I tell you, and you don't come unless I tell you." His hand lands on Simon's ass with a firm smack and Simon gasps, struggling to remain still. Mal brings his hand down twice more, pausing for a moment to admire the sight of Simon's skin turning pink, before he gets off the bed.

He finds what he wants easily enough and returns to the bed, lifting Simon's head by the simple means of sliding one hand into his hair and pulling. "Open your mouth," he says, letting go of Simon's head so he can fasten the gag. "Good." He pushes Simon's head back down on the bed, closing one hand around the back of his neck. "You want pain," he says darkly, running his hand down Simon's back. "You want me to hurt you." Simon makes a muffled sound that could either be agreement or protest; Mal ignores it.

"I don't care what you want," Mal tells him. "Pain isn't what you need, it's just what you're used to." He's pleased to notice that Simon's skin is warming up and the trembling has stopped; the fear's gone, thankfully. Mal slides his hand under Simon's body, feeling Simon's cock jump in his hand. "Don't even think you're gonna get off that easily," he says, squeezing once before letting go.

Simon whimpers, trying to thrust into Mal's hand. "I said don't move," Mal reminds him sharply. "Not so bright, are you?"

Fair skin shows embarrassment well and Simon's unfortunate enough to blush all the way down his chest. "Thought I'd go easy on you?" Mal asks, picking up the jar of lube. "Thought I'd be gentle with you tonight?" He snorts. "You lied to me, Simon. You sat there and you swore you weren't going to hurt yourself again." Mal rubs some of the lube on his fingers, pushing one into Simon without warning. "If I'd left you alone tonight, I'd have found you with new scars in the morning," he states, turning his finger inside Simon. "Wouldn't I? Nod if I'm right."

Simon's face is bright red; he clearly doesn't want to answer Mal, squirming against the restraints. "Answer me," Mal snaps, and reluctantly Simon nods.

"Now, why should I go easy on you?" Mal asks. "I don't take kindly to people who lie to me." He adds a second finger, hearing Simon's gasp as he does so. "I'm wondering if I should even let you come at all tonight," Mal says casually. "It ain't like you deserve it."

The muffled cry of protest makes him grin. "You gonna lie to me again?" Mal asks, crooking his fingers inside Simon. A frantic headshake is all the answer he needs, and Mal twists his fingers, rubbing against Simon's prostate and making him moan.

He pulls his fingers out of Simon, smiling to himself at the whimper it causes. "Oh, I ain't done with your ass yet," Mal tells him, adding more lube to his fingers. "Not by a long shot." He's a little more careful, easing three fingers in, making sure Simon can take it easily. "But I don't think you deserve to get fucked."

As he expected, Simon's body jerks at that statement. If he wasn't gagged, he'd be begging, regardless of whether Mal told him he could speak or not. "You can't lie to me," Mal says patiently. "Not and expect to get away with it." He's barely moving his fingers, pushing into Simon with tiny little thrusts that have Simon groaning. "An apology ain't gonna be enough this time," he says, pulling his fingers out almost completely before shoving them back in as deep as he can get. Simon moans, past the ability to even try and speak.

"Simon," Mal says in a tone guaranteed to get his attention. It works; Simon shakes himself, turning his head toward Mal even though he can't see him. "Think you can take more?" Mal asks, nudging at Simon's hole with a fourth finger. "Think you can take my hand?"

Simon nods, swallowing. His skin's shiny with sweat and his face is flushed and he looks completely, utterly fuckable. For a brief moment, Mal's tempted to change his mind and just shove his cock into Simon's body--but no. Much as he'd like to, that's not a good idea tonight. "You sure?" he asks again, dragging his attention back to the present.

Simon nods again.

"Okay." Mal reaches up one-handed and unties the gag, tugging it loose. "Pick a word," he says, withdrawing his fingers and wiping them on the gag, tossing it on the floor when he's done. "Something you can use if it's too much."

"Um--" Simon licks his lips. "Serenity," he says, his voice hoarse.

"Okay." Mal nods, slicking his fingers with the lube. "You say Serenity, I stop. But that's the only word I want to hear from you."

Simon's relaxed enough to take two fingers easily and a third after just a moment. The fourth takes a bit more effort; Simon's panting for air by the time Mal has it inside him, but he doesn't say anything. "You okay?" Mal asks, vaguely noting that his own voice is tight with strain. It's hardly a surprise; he's ignoring his own erection but that doesn't mean it's not there.

"Yeah," Simon says breathlessly. He swallows, choking back a cry when Mal twists his fingers.

Mal takes his time with four fingers, both because he doesn't want to hurt Simon and also because he loves the way Simon's gasping and writhing on his hand. His free hand is wrapped around his cock, keeping himself from coming. Yeh soo--it's almost hotter than fucking Simon, to watch Simon come unglued like this.

He has to let go of his cock so he can slick his thumb, coating it and the rest of his hand liberally before taking a deep breath and sliding his thumb inside, one bit at a time. There are no words to describe the sound Simon makes; he's shuddering around Mal's fingers, half-sobbing in need.

Getting past the widest part of his hand takes some effort and Mal's half-afraid Simon won't be able to take it. He's almost ready to stop when something just *gives* and his hand slides into Simon, up to the wrist. "Come for me," he gets out, watching Simon's body tremble as he moves his hand, continually rubbing over Simon's prostate. "Come for me, come on..."

One hand's buried inside Simon, working him, fucking him hard; Mal's other hand is jerking his cock, a little awkward but still enough to get him off. But he needs to see Simon come, needs to watch him fall over that edge first. "Just like that, come on, Simon, come on, give it up..." Mal's lost track of what he's saying; as long as it gets Simon to climax it's not important.

Simon's past sound; his mouth is open, he's straining for breath, and as Mal twists his hand he shudders, gasping for air as he comes hard. It's finally enough for Mal and he groans, coming all over Simon's back.

The sound of their breathing is harsh in the bunk, a syncopated rhythm of satiation. "Relax," Mal says when he can speak again. He slides his hand out of Simon carefully; Simon winces a little as the first finger leaves him but after that it's easier. Mal crosses the room to the sink, washing his hands off before returning to the bed and untying Simon, soothing him with gentle caresses and kisses brushed over his skin, cleaning Simon off with the cloth he used to tie him.

"Keep your eyes closed," he says, taking off the blindfold. Simon nods, holding out his arms in a mute plea to be held. Mal grins, stretching out on the bed next to him. "C'mere," he says fondly, drawing Simon into his arms. Simon sighs, cuddling close, his head tucked under Mal's chin. He's still beyond words, which is fine with Mal.

"Go to sleep, Simon," Mal tells him. It takes a bit of an effort to get them both under the covers, especially as Simon's pretty much dead weight, but he manages, reaching one arm up to hit the light switch.

Mal falls asleep wondering just what the hell he's going to tell Zoe.
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