Title: Cold as the Stars; Hot as the Sun
Summary: Written for the Contrelamontre challenge. Object: Two scenes. One showing heat, one showing cold, without using words like "hot, cold, warm, icy, etc." Time limit: 70 minutes. This was written in 45.
Rating: PG
Pairing: Mal/Simon

On Osiris, Simon used to sleep under layers of blankets, wrapped in flannel pajamas and down insulation. He used to wake up in a ball in the middle of his bed, completely wrapped in the covers,.

Now Simon sleeps in his shorts, if he sleeps in anything at all. The layers of blankets are gone, replaced by a worn sheet and blanket gone thin from use. He has a tendency to kick the covers off in the middle of the night; if he doesn't, he's been known to wake up sweating.

He rolls over, propping himself up on an elbow, and looks at the man sharing his bed. Traces the line of his face, his arm, still not quite able to believe that he is here--and more than that, that he is wanted--and perhaps, loved, although neither one of them has said the word.

Mal opens his eyes, looking up at Simon, and catches his hand, bringing it to his lips for a kiss. "Stop thinking so much," he says, voice rough from sleep, tugging Simon down against him, holding him securely in the night.

Simon presses a kiss to Mal's shoulder, feeling sunlight surround him as he drifts off.


Inara drinks her tea, only vaguely aware of its taste. She breathes in the steam, wrapping her hands around the cup in a way her teachers would be horrified to see her do. But it's the middle of the night, ship's time, and she cannot sleep. Just for once, for this cup of tea, her training can go hang.

She avoids looking at the bed, draped with luxurious fabrics and thick pillows. Once, she had had a secret desire to have someone share that bed with her, someone who wasn't paying for her time. But that was a while ago, before the conversation that changed everything so drastically.

**"It's Simon, isn't it?" she'd said, meeting his eyes with an effort that didn't show on her face.

Mal had nodded. "How'd you know?"

"I'm a Companion," she'd reminded him. "I've seen the way you two look at each other." Forcing herself to smile, she'd continued. "Be happy with him, Mal. You two deserve to be happy."**

He'd asked if she was all right, and she'd said yes, utilizing her training to make him believe it.

Now, in the dim light of her room, Inara allows a few, bitter tears to fall, not even feeling them as they slide down her cheeks.
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