I Can Do That, Just Go Back to Bed
“I can do that, just go back to bed.” Simon could have kicked himself the moment the offer was out of his mouth. Did he really think he could catalog all of the supplies in the cargo hold on his own? The listing wasn’t the hard part; the hard part was moving all the boxes around to get to the ones below and behind without losing track of what he had.
But the fact remained that Jayne was sick. And it was late. The guy was fading fast, and as much as Simon wanted Jayne to stick around, the doctor in him told him to let Jayne go for his own good. Assuming Jayne could go.
Jayne’s “help” during the last hour had been mostly bumping into a few boxes to clear some paths and telling Simon repeatedly that he was bored. In fact, it would probably go faster without Jayne around.
“You really should be in bed.”
Jayne looked up at the stairs warily. He leaned back against one of the boxes. “I’m fine down here.” Simon wasn’t sure Jayne even had the energy to climb up the flights of stairs and then down the ladder into his own bunk.
With a deep breath, Simon said something else he hoped he wouldn’t regret. “You can… share my bunk.” Then he added quickly, “Or I can set you up in the infirmary on the examination table under a couple layers of blankets. It won’t be the most comfortable rest you’ve ever gotten, but it’s nothing to sneeze at.”
Simon set down the inventory checklist and took out a small pack of tissues he had in his pocket. He walked over and held it out to Jayne, who eyed it with resentment.
“You're not going to get better by ignoring this cold. You've tried it for the past two days and look where it got you.” Trying to push through his head cold, pretending it wasn't there, had gotten him through the job all right but now the cold was trying to settle in his chest and ears. “Better blow your nose before the congestion makes you start coughing.”
Reluctantly, Jayne grabbed at a tissue and blew his nose sloppily, one handedly before dropping it on the cargo bay floor. Jayne had probably already done the damage of spreading germs around the ship; it was only a matter of time before the rest of the crew fell sick as well. But, for now, Simon resolved to focus on Jayne and what he could do to help. He would worry about the others later.
“Yeah,” Jayne said finally, taking another tissue from the box. “Yeah, let's go to your bunk.” No 'please.' No 'if you don't mind' added. Not even a 'thank you.' He just followed Simon through the sliding doors and then into Simon's quarters. River was, Simon hoped, fast asleep in the quarters next door. With any luck, Jayne's sneezes wouldn't be loud enough to wake her.
He was under no illusions that River was blind to his feelings. Simon had learned long ago that his little sister knew just about everything about him. And if she'd known when he'd been crushing on Kaylee, she probably knew now that all his intimate thoughts lately had been focused on Jayne.
Even in your private bunk with the door locked tight, there was no hiding from a sister who could read minds. But Jayne didn't seem to hesitate to crawl under the covers, so Simon didn't either. At first, Jayne was stiff and unresponsive next to him. But as the blankets warmed and Simon's hand petted Jayne's upper arm, Jayne ended up melting against Simon, curving and fitting his body against the side of the doctor's. Despite his size, considerable muscles, and tough demeanor, Jayne was actually quite soft and comfortable to have against him.
At least, he was until another sneeze came up. And then Jayne tensed again. And he shook as he took a shuddering, intense breath. Simon wrapped an arm around him, holding him close, holding him tight. “heh...”
“It's all right,” Simon whispered. “I've got you.”
“h'PTShhffff!” The sneeze was just as quiet as the others, due in part to Jayne stifling it and part to Jayne burying his runny, sneezy nose into Simon's shoulder.
“You want another tissue?” Simon asked. He had of course still had the pack. Jayne grunted his refusal and rubbed his nose against Simon's shirt. “Fine. But if you need to blow your nose, you're using a tissue right?”
Jayne gave a noncommittal, sleepy grunt and wrapped an arm around Simon's middle, returning the tight embrace Simon had been giving him. Simon ran his hand up and down Jayne's lower arm comfortingly. The doctor was tired; exhausted, really, and it was the middle of the night. But he wouldn't allow himself to fall asleep first. He waited the man out and took it as a personal victory when Jayne started snoring.