Compromising Positions | Into the Black | Contact

Nightmares

Notes: Well, looky here. I wasn't going to respond to tenth_muse's ProtectiveMal! challenge, but this bunny jumped me on the subway yesterday, so here it is. It's even got Eli's Reavers angle.




It's the bloodcurdling scream that wakes him. Mal is up, out of bed, and reaching for his gun before he's even fully awake. Quickly, he makes his way up the ladder and out into the corridor before the next scream pierces the air. Ruttin' hell, Mal thinks to himself, not again.

"Jayne again, Sir?" She asks as she climbs out of her and Wash's quarters. Mal feels slightly uncomfortable standing there in his boxers holding a gun, but refuses to acknowledge the slight smirk on Zoe's face. She had taken the time to put on a robe.

"Yeah, Zo. I'll handle it, go back to bed." As Zoe disappears back into her room, he turns to see Kaylee's sleepy face poking out of her hatchway and says, "You too, little Kaylee. Back to bed. It's just Jayne havin' a nightmare."

Too sleepy to even reply, Kaylee slips back into her room and closes the door.

Mal takes the few steps to the hatchway to Jayne's quarters.

Another, more muffled, scream greets him as he opens the hatch and slides down the ladder. He puts his gun down on the table and moves to Jayne's bedside. The big man is tossing and turning, and his t-shirt soaked with sweat, as he struggles and screams against invisible attackers. Mal sits down on the edge of the bunk and puts a hand on the middle of Jayne's back. He knows better than to grab the big man - the last time this happened he had made that mistake and Jayne had nearly thrown him across the room in his desperation to get away.

"Jayne," Mal says softly, "Jayne, wake up. It's just another nightmare." Jayne flinches in his sleep and tries to get away from the hand on his back.

Mal applies a bit more pressure and says in a louder voice, "Jayne, it's me, Mal. Wake up."

This time, Mal's voice cuts through Jayne's nightmare and he sits up with a gasp. Jayne's eyes are full of terror and before he knows it, Mal is captured in a tight bear hug. Jayne presses his face against Mal's shoulder and digs his fingers deep into Mal's back. Jayne is trembling like a leaf in his arms and Mal gently strokes the broad back under his hands.

"Shhh, Jayne it's OK, you're safe." Mal knows the words to say to calm Jayne down - this isn't the first time they've been woken by the big man's screams. Jayne's arms tighten around Mal and he tries to calm his breathing.

Mal strokes Jayne's head and says gently, "Jayne, this is getting ridiculous. You have to tell me what this is all about."

Jayne shakes his head and a muffled 'no' emerges from against Mal's chest.

"C'mon, you're keepin' everyone up and you know how crotchety Zoe can get when she ain't had enough sleep," Mal says, trying to lighten the mood. Mal pulls Jayne's face up and looks him in the eyes. The fear is fading, being replaced by shame and embarrassment.

"I know it's got somethin' to do with Reavers, you only get like this after we've had a run in with 'em. Ain't nuthin' to be ashamed of - Reavers scare the shit out of all of us. Just tell me what's wrong and maybe I can help."

Jayne looks away, unable to meet his Captain's eyes. It doesn't matter what Mal says - it IS embarrassing. He's a grown man, afraid of nuthin' in the 'verse - except the gorram Reavers, who can reduce him to a chicken-shit baby, screamin' and cryin' in the dark. He pulls out of Mal's comforting embrace and lies back on his bunk, curling up on his side.

"I ain't talkin' about it, Mal," he says quietly, pressing his face against the pillow, hoping that Mal can't see the tears welling in his eyes. He bites his lip and holds them back, refusing to allow himself the weakness.

Mal sighs heavily, shaking his head, realizing that there's no way Jayne's going to talk about this tonight. He decides he'll leave it for the morning and starts to get up. Jayne's hand snakes out and catches him by the arm.

"Stay," Jayne says, swallowing hard, "Please."

Mal hears the need and desperation in Jayne's voice and sits back down. Jayne scoots over to the far side of the bunk, making room for Mal to lie down. Feeling uncomfortable, Mal lies down on his back, wishing that he had thought to at least put on some pants before coming into Jayne's bunk. Jayne curls against Mal and rests his head and hand on his chest. Mal stokes Jayne's head and soon the big man's breathing slows and deepens as he falls to sleep.

It takes a long time for Mal to fall asleep as he tries to come to grips with just how good and right Jayne's body feels tucked up next to his.




The next morning when Mal wakes, Jayne is sitting on the side of the bunk with his head in his hands. He must sense the change in Mal's breathing, because he speaks without turning.

"Don't tell no one."

"I hate to break it to you, Jayne, but everyone heard you screamin' last night."

"Not about that, about me askin' ya ta stay. Like I'm some big baby," Jayne's voice is filled with shame and misery. Mal reaches out and squeezes one of Jayne's shoulders.

"I won't. Let's just hope I can get back to my bunk before anyone sees me," he says sitting up.

Jayne finally looks at him - his eyes are filled with silent gratitude. Mal gets up out of the bunk, gives Jayne's shoulder a final squeeze, and leaves.




Mal spends the rest of the week doing double duty - spending part of every day trying to get Jayne to tell him the cause of his nightmares and most of every night holding the big man as he falls back to sleep after another one. Mal knows that Zoe suspects that he's not sleeping in his own room, but he chooses to ignore the sideways glances and the not so subtle comments.

It's a really bad one tonight - Jayne is thrashing and jerking and can't seem to pull out of the nightmare that has him trapped. When Mal tries to hold him and calm him, Jayne's mercenary training takes over and Mal finds himself trapped under Jayne's body with an arm across his throat. Mal slaps and pulls at Jayne's arm, trying to get it off his windpipe.

"Jayne," he whispers hoarsely, twisting his body around as much as he can, bucking against the heavy body on top of him, trying to push Jayne off. Mal is absurdly grateful that they are both fully clothed tonight - he gets the feeling that were they less clothed, he'd find this whole situation vaguely erotic, which is a mighty creepifying thought considering the fact that Jayne is currently choking him. "Jayne." Mal's chest is heaving for air when Jayne's eyes finally open.

"Oh my God, Mal," Jayne says, pulling his arm away, "Are you OK? I'm sorry."

Mal rubs his throat with his hand and looks up into the big grey-blue eyes peering down at him. Mal decides it's time to push a little harder for answers. "I'm fine, this time, Jayne," he says sternly, "But next time? Maybe not so much. I think it's well past the point where you have to tell me what's going on - you could have killed me."

Jayne rolls off him and turns his face to the wall. Mal turns onto his side and strokes Jayne's back.

"You, you ever see what Reavers can do, Mal? Real close up? That ship we found was nuthin'. They was in a hurry an' didn't have time to play." Jayne says in a very soft voice.

"I've heard all the stories, just the same as everyone else," Mal replies.

"Well, it's more 'n just stories for me, Mal. I SEEN it. My first job, when I was young and didn't know no better, was a clean-up of a colony that'd been hit by Reavers."

Mal takes in a deep breath, he figured the source of Jayne's nightmares was something bad - he'd seen the man stare death in the face without even flinching - but he hadn't figured on this. He keeps silently stroking Jayne's back, letting the big man tell his story at his own pace.

"It, it was horrible, Mal. It was the worst thing I've ever seen EVER, still is. Men, women, children, all of 'em dead, but not just dead, ripped to pieces. There was blood an' guts and bits o' stuff everywhere. It took us three days to clean up that town and another one to wash all the blood off." Jayne's shoulders start to shake as the images replay inside his head. "There was this one little girl...couldn't have been more 'n three, she was all torn up, guts hanging out..." Jayne trails off, not able to continue the horrific description. "I can't get it outta my head, Mal. An' every time we get anywhere near Reavers all I can think about is what could happen to us if they catch us." Jayne's hands ball into fists. "My guts turn to water and all I can think about is runnin'. I hate it Mal, I hate it. I ain't a coward, but I can't I just can't face 'em. An' then the nightmares come an' I can't stop 'em. I hate bein' weak. I hate lettin' ya down..."

Mal pulls on Jayne's shoulder until the big man has turned around and is facing him. Mal takes him in his arms and holds him close, wishing he could shelter him from the vivid memories.

"You're not letting me down, Jayne. Anyone who had seen what you've seen would have trouble processing it." Mal caresses Jayne's face, running his thumb along his cheekbone, staring into his eyes. Jayne's face is often like a child's - open and honest, showing everything he's thinking and feeling. Desire burns in Jayne's eyes at Mal's touch and his breath catches in his throat. Seeing what he had hoped to see in Jayne's expression, Mal leans in and brushes his lips against Jayne's ever so lightly.

Jayne pulls back, confusion in his eyes. "Mal?"

"Jayne," Mal says, kissing him gently again.

"What are you doin'?" Jayne asks, his hands tightening around Mal.

"What does it look like I'm doin'?" Mal asks, kissing Jayne again, but with more force as he slips his fingers under Jayne's t-shirt.

Jayne shudders as Mal's fingers find flesh and begin to slide up his body.

"Looks like yer tryin' to distract me," Jayne says and then moans softly as Mal's thumb brushes across a nipple.

"Is it working?" Mal says and then kisses Jayne again, teasing his mouth open with his tongue and sliding it deep inside to taste and explore every inch of it. When he's done he sucks hard on Jayne's lip until the big man is moaning and clutching at his shirt. "Well?" Mal asks.

"Yesss," Jayne hisses softly and starts working on the buttons of Mal's shirt. He slides the shirt and suspenders down Mal's arms and starts tracing patterns on his chest with a finger and lets Mal struggle with freeing his arms. Once he's tossed his shirt onto the floor, Mal cups Jayne's head and pulls him into a passionate kiss. As their tongues wrestle, Mal works his fingers under the edge of Jayne's shirt and starts pushing it up his chest. When it can go no further, they break the kiss and pull the shirt off and toss it on the floor.

There is no urgency to their actions as they exchange hot, wet kisses while their hands glide over warm flesh, exploring every curve and hollow of each other. Mal latches onto Jayne's neck with his lips, sucking a dark purple bruise into the flesh over his pulse point, loving how Jayne moans and arches into his actions. His hands slide down Jayne's chest to his pants. Mal cups the bulge and rubs his thumb across the head of Jayne's cock. Mal gives it a tight squeeze and Jayne's hips jerk forward and he gasps. Jayne reaches for the fastening to Mal's pants and within moments they're open and Jayne is stroking his cock with sure fingers.

Mal moans and arches into Jayne's touch. Mal quickly opens Jayne's pants and pulls him out. Their lips meet in a fierce kiss as they begin to jack each other off. Lips glued together, they stroke and tease, making each other moan and gasp. They press closer and closer together until their cocks touch. Jayne pushes Mal's hand away and takes both of them in one big fist. Mal wraps his arm tightly around Jayne's back, fingers digging into the strong muscles and starts to thrust into Jayne's hand. Jayne matches his thrusts.

Their cocks rub and slide against each other in the tight grip of Jayne's fist and soon the two men are panting into each other's mouths, barely able to breathe. Their hips jerk and thrust, the rhythm becoming erratic as they both near orgasm. Mal opens his eyes and sees Jayne watching him with an open, vulnerable look on his face. Keeping his eyes open, Mal kisses him gently and then gasps out his name as he comes in long, hot spurts.

"Oh, Mal," Jayne moans and comes hard, hips and back arching sharply. Mal holds Jayne tightly as his body shakes and twitches. Jayne buries his face against Mal's shoulder and breathes deeply. He slides down a bit, twines their legs together and relaxes into Mal's embrace. Mal strokes Jayne's back and shoulders while Jayne plants soft kisses on his chest. Feeling safe and secure in Mal's arms, Jayne falls into a dreamless slumber.