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|Title: Like Gravity
Author: Eleanor K.
Posted: 1 Feb 2003
Spoilers: very minor for Bushwhacked.
Disclaimer: All hail Joss, master of the 'verse.
Notes: Written for Kirby Crow's challenge--1500 words or less to go
with her truly stunning picture: http://slashgirls.tripod.com/story.jpg
Simon pushes his sheets to the bottom of the bed and pulls free of
the tangle, giving up on sleep for another hour or so. River's sleep
patterns have now more or less normalized, but his own have not.
He rises, stretching, and steps out of his room.
He doesn't mind these early morning excursions into a sleeping world.
Thinks he might even miss the privacy, the secrecy, when he can sleep
through the night.
He pauses at the foot of the stairs. For a second, he thinks he's
imagining the cool breeze that eases across his skin and fades away.
It comes again, and he looks through the door to the cargo bay. The
ramp is down, and the door stands open to the night air. He sees a
figure outlined against the dark.
He eases into the cargo bay, keeping to the edges of the room. He
wants to know who is sharing his insomnia tonight, but the thought
of company does not appeal.
The figure turns, presenting Mal's unmistakable profile, and Simon
amends his previous thought. He does want company, but the company
he wants is unlikely to want him in return. He turns away, moving
quietly back the way he came.
"I know it's you, Doc. Come on out here."
Simon hesitates. The invitation has novelty value if nothing else.
Mal has been avoiding him this week. In the dance they've been doing
since Simon came on board, he has suddenly found himself without a
Still, he knows there is no point in hesitating. It's not as if he's
going to refuse.
Mal waits until Simon is standing beside him and turns back to the
darkness of the world outside.
"You ought to be in bed, Doc. No wonder we never see you for breakfast."
"You're up past your bedtime yourself, Captain."
"Neither can I."
It is chilly out here, the more so in contrast with the warm, still
air of Serenity, heavy with sleep. Simon moves a step closer to Mal
until their shoulders are nearly touching. He crosses his arms over
his chest and shivers, wishing he'd stopped to put on a shirt.
A large, warm hand strokes down his back and lingers for a moment
at the base of his spine.
"You're cold," Mal says.
"I'm not dressed for the weather." It's been weeks since he's left
the ship for even five minutes. He's not used to the concept of weather
He doesn't look over at the movement beside him, and so the coat draped
around his shoulders comes as a surprise. It holds Mal's body heat,
and he pulls it close about him.
"Such a gentleman." It was supposed to be teasing, but that's not
how it comes out. "Thank you."
"Ask me why I can't sleep," Mal says, after a moment.
Simon looks over, but can see nothing of Mal's face but the faint
shine of his eyes.
"Why can't you sleep?"
Mal moves to stand behind him, hands on his shoulders. "I keep dreamin'.
Ask me what I dream about."
Simon's breath catches at the touch, at the unfamiliar tone in Mal's
"What do you dream about?"
Mal's lips brush the skin behind his ear. "You, Simon. I dream about
you. Want to tell me why that should be?"
A shiver of heat works its way up Simon's spine, and he closes his
eyes for a moment. This moment has always seemed inevitable to him,
but it has been a long time in coming.
"I couldn't say."
Silence for a moment, and Mal draws him closer, one arm across his
"Tell me your dream," Simon says quietly.
Mal is silent for a long time. When he speaks, his voice is musing.
"You know how it feels out in space? Like you could fall forever and
never hit bottom?"
"Yes," Simon says tightly. He does know, and he hates the feeling.
Mal gives him a gentle squeeze before going on.
"I'm on this...asteroid, I guess. Comet, maybe. Some bare rock, falling
through space, moving faster than any ship could manage. No atmosphere
or nothing. Just bare rock and black space and stars. And the stars
are so far away." Mal pauses. "That part's old. Been dreaming that
for a good long time now."
"And the new part?"
Mal's fingers slide across the skin of his chest. "Well, now, that'd
Silence again, for so long that he thinks Mal won't tell him any more.
"The stars are closer," Mal says, at last. "The rock's warm under
me. Under us. We're naked. Did I mention that?"
"No," Simon says with a smile. "No, you didn't mention that part."
"Yeah. So, naked, and the stars are sort of all around, like the rock
we're on is going right through them." An arm appears beside Simon's
face, the hand pointing upwards. "See that?"
"Or moon. Don't rightly know which. The blue one, anyway. That's what
got me out here. Saw it from the bridge, had to come down and take
a look. Just like it is in the dream. Glowing down on you. Makes your
hair look almost blue." Fingers comb briefly through Simon's hair.
"Does here, too, come to that."
Simon leans back against him, feeling much warmer than the coat or
even Mal's body heat can account for.
"And what are we doing, naked on this rock?" Heat curls in his stomach
in anticipation of the answer.
"Well," Mal drawls. "We're fucking, as it happens."
Simon stifles a laugh. "I can't quite see what you're objecting to."
There is a thoughtful silence behind him. "The waking up, mostly."
Simon does laugh then, and turns in Mal's arms to look up at him.
"I can see your problem. And did you have a solution in mind?"
Mal lays a light hand on his face, thumb rubbing across the curve
of his cheek. Says nothing, just looks at him. So very serious.
Shadow of a smile. "Simon."
Their eyes meet and hold.
"Let's go inside," Simon says, after a moment. "It's cold out here."
(1021 words )