Compromising Positions | Into the Black | Contact


Thanks to: Brenda, my wonderful beta, corrupter of the last vestiges of my innocence. Any remaining spelling or grammar mistakes are mine.

Series: Aftermath

Simon regains consciousness with a muffled gasp, face pressed against the dirty mattress. He aches all over, feeling as though he's been torn in half. His pale, naked flesh is covered in bruises and bite marks, blood and semen matted in the hair on his thighs. He starts to move, then remembers where he is and freezes as the events of the previous thirty-six hours begin to replay in his mind. Unconsciously, he curls into a tight ball, legs pulled up to his chest by his arms, and begins rocking slowly back and forth, whimpering, lost in the terrible memories. He is so lost, that he does not hear the gunfire in the next room.

Mal hits the door open with his shoulder, crouching low to cover the dark room as Jayne works his way down the stairs, Vera at the ready.

"You sure he's here?" asks the mercenary, eyes trying to adjust to the light.

"He's gotta be. This is the last room in this place." Mal says with some desperation. His attention is caught by a sound in the corner. He moves quickly past Jayne towards the noise.

Simon, hearing men's voices, begins to shake and murmur in a barely audible voice, "No. No. Please, stop. Don't hurt me anymore." The movement of his mouth reopens the tear on his bottom lip where teeth had pierced the sensitive skin. Blood slowly slides down his chin.

"Simon?" Mal questions tentatively, horrified at what he sees. He moves closer. Simon scrabbles away desperately, and calls out in a voice made hoarse by too many screams, "No. No more. Stop..." The protests fade into harsh sobs. Jayne moves forward and finally sees the doctor. His eyes go dark with anger and his grip tightens on Vera, a low growl beginning in the back of his throat.

"Simon, it's me, Mal." The Captain crouches slowly next to the shivering doctor, trying not to spook him.

Simon turns his head toward the familiar voice, eyes wild. "No. It can't be you. You didn't come," he says through the tears. "It's all in my head. You're not here. You didn't come." He curls back in on himself, and begins to rock back and forth. The words cut Mal like a knife. They hadn't even noticed he was missing until the second day - everyone thought he had returned to the ship to be with his sister.

Mal takes off his long brown coat and wraps it around the shaking body. "Can you carry him?" he asks Jayne. "We've have to get him outta here."

Jayne hands Vera to the Captain and scoops the doctor up in his arms. Simon tries to fight back, but he's too weak to do much more than bat lightly at Jayne's chest with his hands.

"Shh. It's all right. I'm not gonna hurt you." Jayne says in a surprisingly gentle voice as he cradles the doctor against him. He continues making soothing noises as Mal leads them up and out of the room, through the rest of the complex, negotiating nimbly around the six dead bodies. Soon, they reach the shuttle and the relative safety of Serenity.

Sometime during the trip back, Simon had passed out again. Jayne lowers his limp form onto the bed in the medlab as Mal searches for antiseptics and gauze. Jayne moves across the room and closes the blinds over the big windows.

When he's done with the blinds, the mercenary retreats to the door of the medlab, and leans his body against it. He pulls out his pistol and starts cleaning it - he needs to keep his eyes and mind occupied in order to keep the anger at bay.

Mal moves quietly around the bed, cleansing the wounds as gently as he can. The sight of the finger-sized bruises and teeth marks on the doctor's pale skin torments him. My fault, he thinks. Should never have let him leave the inn alone. Never mind that he told me he'd be fine. Shoulda called Serenity sooner. Shoulda known something wasn't right. As gently as he can, the Captain removes the last of the blood and semen from the doctor's bottom, inspecting the damage. It's worse than he had imagined. The orifice is torn badly and still slowly leaking blood. He does what he can, putting a healing ointment on the tears. How many times? He asks himself. He reaches out and lightly brushes the hair from Simon's forehead.

"Jayne," he says quietly, shaking with rage, "Can you go get a robe or something for him? I don't want him to wake up naked."

"Sure." Jayne says and leaves the room.

As Mal caresses the doctor's bruised face lightly, he starts twitching under Mal's hand, shaking his head back and forth whimpering the word 'No' over and over again. The Captain opens a drawer and sorts quickly through the supplies and finds what he's looking for - a sedative. He injects Simon just as the doctor starts thrashing on the bed. With a soft sigh, Simon's body relaxes and he falls into a dreamless sleep.

Jayne returns with a red silk dressing gown in his hands. Seeing the Captain's raised eyebrow, he defends his choice, "Thought it would feel, you know, soothin'. An' it won't show the blood." Together they slide the doctor into the robe.

Jayne paces around the medlab while Mal makes himself comfortable on a stool next to Simon.

"When's the ruttin' doctor getting here?" asks Jayne impatiently.

"Soon. Zoe figured about twenty minutes."

Jayne resumes pacing and Mal takes one of Simon's limp hands in both of his.

The men just keep coming - one after another, pinching, punching, biting, squeezing, impaling him over and over, tearing and bruising his flesh, laughing the whole time. They ignore his cries, his pleas for them to stop, one of them in particular, enjoying the sound of his screams, always went last, making it hurt as much as possible.

Simon is thrashing on his bed, twisting and turning, trying to get away from the men in his head. He wakes himself up with a ragged shout. He lay there gasping staring up at the ceiling, confused. At first he doesn't recognize where he is - then he remembers - he's back on board Serenity, the Captain and Jayne had come for him. The men were dead. His body begins to tremble as he's wracked with sobs. Simon curls up on his side and cries himself back to sleep.

The whole crew acts differently around him. No one seems to know what to say, so they all just make small talk about ridiculous things. But he doesn't know which is worse, the tears that well up in Kaylee's eyes every time she looks at his still-bruised face or the fact that Jayne's being so rutting solicitous. He can barely walk into a room without the mercenary hovering around him to see if he needs anything. Simon knows the big man is trying to be helpful in his own way, but it just makes him feel even more damaged than he already is. And the Captain is so awkward around him, so full of guilt and shame for letting him leave alone that night, that they are avoiding each other as much as possible.

Simon sits down gingerly in his seat, hissing slightly at the quick jolt of pain that flows through him, and begins to eat his lunch.

Jayne saunters in whistling a tune. "Hey," he says, moving towards the counter, "smells good. Any left?" He finds the pot and pours himself a bowl of the 'protein slop du jour'. "Need anything?"

Suppressing a sigh, Simon answers. "No Jayne, I'm fine. Just come sit down, O.K?"

Jayne sits across from the doctor and starts shoveling the food into his mouth. Watching the mercenary eat, Simon marvels at how quickly the food disappears.

"Jayne?" He asks, his curiosity getting the better of him.

"Hmm?" comes the answer around a mouthful of food.

"Do you come from a big family?"

"Yeah, twelve brothers an' sisters an' a bunch of cousins all sharin' the same farm. Why do ya ask?"

"Just curious." His suspicions confirmed, the doctor turns back to his own food.

Jayne pushes his empty bowl away and leans forward a bit. "Anyway, Doc, I was thinkin'," he says.

"Don't strain yourself," Simon quips, hoping to get Jayne to respond with an insult, trying to get things back to the way they were between them.

"Very funny. Ha, ha." Jayne says with a smile. "I was thinkin' that maybe it was time for you to start carrying a weapon."

Simon stops with the spoon halfway to his mouth. "What?" he asks incredulously.

Jayne rubs his hand across his brush cut and says, "I got this gun, Sara, practically shoots herself. She's light, but she packs quite a punch. I could give her to ya and show ya how to use her." He gets up. "You think about it. An' when you're ready, you know where to find me." Jayne leaves the galley before Simon can gather his thoughts to answer.

They're in the cargo bay, Simon holding Sara in his right hand, testing the weapon's weight.

"Isn't she beautiful?" Jayne asks.

Simon looks down at the weapon. In a way, it is beautiful, the way the steel curves and shines, its deadly intent obvious. It fits in his hand like it was meant for him. "Do you name all your weapons, Jayne?"

"Yup. If you name 'em they mean more to ya. That way you show 'em the respect they deserve. Next time we land, I'll see if I can get get holda some ammo that Mal'll let us fire on the ship, that way you can fire her for real. For now, we'll get the basics down."

"This just feels so weird, Jayne." Simon says adjusting the gun belt around his hips with his free hand.

"You get used to it. Stop fiddlin' with it and pretend it's not there," he says. "Now show me how you hold a gun."

Simon self-consciously assumes a pose that he believes is correct.

"Well, no wonder ya didn't hit a thing on the space station," Jayne says good-naturedly. "Your stance is all wrong."

He crouches down in front of Simon and adjusts the placement of his feet on the ground. "Grips a bit off too," Jayne mumbles as he quickly moves behind the doctor and reaches around him to adjust his hands and arms.

Initially Simon enjoys the sensation of the warm body next to his, the strong arms around him - he's always been attracted to Jayne, it is what puts so much tension in their arguments - it is like pulling pigtails in grade school. Suddenly, the memories of other bodies pressing against his, biting, and scratching, and pinching and hurting him beyond endurance, come crashing down, mixing in with the slight thrill of desire Jayne's proximity has caused. Simon freezes, feeling sick, how could he want.... The memories overwhelm him, caught in the terror he begins to tremble, his eyes glazing over. The gun falls from his hand as he wraps his arms around his quivering body.

"Simon? Simon, what's wrong?" Jayne says moving around to look at him. Seeing the blank look of panic in Simon's eyes, he wants nothing more than to take him in his arms and comfort him, but he knows this would be the exact wrong thing to do right now. Jayne slowly reaches out a hand and takes Simon gently by the arm. He leads him to a bench and helps him sit down. Jayne crouches beside Simon, making himself as small and unthreatening as possible.

"Simon," he says softly. "You're safe. You're aboard Serenity. You're not in that room anymore. Don't let them bastards win. You're stronger than that." Jayne keeps up this encouragement until Simon's eyes finally focus.

"Hey, you O.K?" Jayne asks, rubbing the back of his knuckles lightly against the outside of Simon's knee.

"Oh, Jayne. I'm so sorry," Simon says, humiliated. "It just happens sometimes. I can't seem to control it."

"My fault. I shouldn't a gone behind ya like that without warning ya. It's only been a few weeks, since, since you been back." He looks at the puffy dark circles under Simon's haunted eyes and says, "Bet you're still havin' nightmares."

Simon nods.

"What say we call it quits for today, you go pull yourself together, and we'll pick up where we left off tomorrow?" Jayne says looking up into Simon's eyes.

Simon nods again. Jayne takes his hand and helps him up. Unable to resist the urge, Jayne reaches out and gently brushes the hair off Simon's forehead. "You'll be O.K. All you need is some time." The smile Simon gives him is weak, but at least he doesn't flinch from the physical contact. He turns and walks out of the cargo bay, shoulders slumped, and his head down, arms wrapped around tight around his body as if to hold himself together.

Jayne watches the doctor leave, his heart aching at seeing this once proud man curled in upon himself, defeated. He goes and fetches Sara, brings her back to the bench, and starts compulsively cleaning the weapon.

Mal is following the sounds that echo down the corridor.

Thump. Thump. Thump, thump. Thump. Thump, thump, whack.

When he reaches the cargo bay he sees the source of the noise. Jayne is standing before a punching bag that he has somehow rigged up. Shirtless, covered in sweat, knuckles bleeding, the mercenary is pounding away at the bag, rage blazing on his face.

Mal slides down the ladder and holds the bag steady for a while, admiring the sheer power of this man. Jayne finally stops, winded, his breath coming in heavy gasps.

"How long you been at this?" Mal asks.

"Couple a hours," grunts Jayne, using his shirt to wipe the sweat and blood off himself.

"Any reason why you felt the need to beat yourself bloody?"

"I got too much anger in me right now, Mal. I gotta get it out somehow or I'll snap. Can't bring those sons a whores back to life to kill slowly, so...." Jayne says, nodding towards the bag.

"What happened?" the Captain asks perceptively.

Knowing when he was beat, Jayne answers honestly. "I was showin' the doc how to shoot a gun and I was dumb - got too close too fast. He went off into his head. I can't stand seein' him like this, Mal, all broken and lost. He needs help, help I wanna give, but..." he trails off.

"What do you mean?" Mal asks frowning slightly.

Jayne rubs at his head and face with one big hand before speaking. "Mal, they broke him, don'tcha get it?" Jayne says heatedly. "They didn't even have him tied up no more when we found him. He was too shattered to even try to escape. He needs someone to put the pieces back together and it's gonna have to be soon, or he'll never mend."

"What do you mean?" Mal's still confused, not entirely sure what the mercenary is trying to say.

"Gorramit, Mal. Do I hafta spell it out for ya? Jayne says. "He needs someone to touch him, someone that don't scare him and put him back into that dark place in his head. If he doesn't get used to human contact again soon, he's gonna stay the way he is right now, falling back into that nightmare whenever anyone comes too close to him."

"You seem to know a lot about this," Mal says, looking deep into Jayne's eyes.

"Mebbe I do." Jayne shifts his eyes away from the Captain's scrutiny, not wanting to talk about how he knows about what's needed after a man's been raped, not now, not ever. "Not important now. What's important is Simon. He needs mendin'."

"And you figure you're the one to do this?" Mal says, crossing his arms over his chest.

"I wanna be, but no. I'm too, too intimidatin'. Thought mebbe you could..."

"Me?" Mal asks in shock. "Are you insane?"

"Don't tell me you don't fancy him, Captain. 'Cause I know ya do, I seen it in your eyes. An' I seen it in his. Before all this happened that boy woulda fallen into your bed without hesitation." Jayne pokes a finger into the Captain's chest as he says this.

"It would be inappropriate..." Mal begins, distinctly uncomfortable.

"FUCK inappropriate, Mal." Jayne rudely interrupts. "Just think on it, O.K.? You got some time, it's still way too soon. Mebbe in a month or so."

"All right, but I ain't promisin' anything," Mal answers, surprised at the words he hears coming out of his mouth.

"That's all I'm askin'. "

As the Captain turns to leave, Jayne resumes punching the bag. The sound follows the Captain out of the cargo bay.

Thump. Thump. Thump, whack, thump. Thump. Thump, thump, thump.

And Mal does think on it. He spends the next couple of weeks watching the doctor carefully. He finds reasons to go to the cargo bay so he can watch Jayne with the Doc. Watches Jayne, slowly, cautiously touch Simon here and there as he adjusts his stance. Watches them sit side by side on a bench, as Jayne discusses the finer points of weapons maintenance. Watches when Jayne finally gets some acceptable ammo and sees the smile on Simon's face when he actually hits the target for the first time. The smile pierces Mal's heart and he realizes it's the first real one since they brought the doctor back and thinks how he'd do anything to make Simon smile again. Now, he's watching Simon from the doorway - he's reading a book, his slender body curled up on the couch in the corner. It's late and everyone else has retired for the evening, so there will be no interruptions.

"Whatcha readin'?" Mal asks. Not really interested, but he needs some way to start a conversation. He moves to the couch and sits beside Simon. Simon uncurls himself and sits up next to Mal.

"Just some poetry," he shrugs, closing the book.

The Captain gently takes the book from his hands and puts it on the table. He takes one of Simon's delicate hands into his and starts to gently stroke it. Looking into Simon's eyes he tries to speak.

"I..." he can't seem to think of anything to say. He wants to say he's sorry. Sorry for letting him leave on his own, for taking so long to find him, about everything. But Mal knows that the words are hollow, that no matter how sorry he is, it can't change what happened.

"It's all right, Mal, you don't have to say anything," Simon says softly, squeezing the hand holding his. "I know. What's done is done. There was no way you could have known."

The Captain slowly reaches out with his free hand and cups Simon's face. He runs his thumb lightly across the scar on the doctor's bottom lip. The doctor's eyes go wide and Mal can feel him trembling under his hand.

"You are so beautiful," Mal says softly. "May I kiss you?"

Simon nods. Mal leans in slowly and gently brushes the lips before him with his own. He pulls back to look into Simon's eyes - checking for fear or panic and sees only longing. He leans in for a longer kiss, keeping his hand light on the doctor's face. Simon's free hand comes up and tangles in Mal's shirt. He lets Simon take charge of the kiss and soon Simon is sliding his tongue Mal's mouth. Mal moans softly and tightens his grip on Simon's hand and face. Simon freezes and Mal pulls back immediately.

"Sorry," Mal apologizes, looking worriedly into Simon's face.

"It's O.K. It was nice," he looks away a bit embarrassed. "Will you hold me for a while?" Simon asks in a small voice.

Mal opens his arms and Simon snuggles in against him, head tucked up under Mal's chin, hand on his chest. Mal wraps his arms loosely around Simon, so as not to confine him, and kisses the top of his head.

Jayne sees them curled up together from the corridor. Suppressing the spike of jealousy, reminding himself that he's the one that recommended this, he continues on to his cabin. He's got some guns that need cleaning.