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It was morning, or what passed for it on a ship where there was never any daylight. Mal lay in his bed, looking at the ceiling, trying to convince himself to get up. It wasn't normally a problem, but this morning... today was different.

"Yes... Please Mal..."

The voice haunted him. Teased his dreams. Simon.

Today Simon wanted an answer, Mal wasn't sure he had.

It was just stress relief. Stupid, fucking a member of his crew, but Simon wasn't really crew... that's what Mal told himself anyway. He was just a passenger and so Mal fucked him... it had been simple at the start.

"Simon... breath, just breath..." Mal begged, tearing at his shirt, using it to stem the blood flow.

Simon nearly died. Nearly died, taking a bullet meant for him... it wouldn't have bothered him... at least, not nearly so much... if it had been anyone but Simon.

"I love you..."

Simon's words were muffled, muted. He had more drugs coursing through his veins than a two bit whore, but Mal never doubted they were true, honest. Simon couldn't remember saying them, Mal couldn't forget.

"I love you..."

Mal whispered the words, his face buried against the crook of Simon's neck. Simon's harsh breathing, hot and heavy from their pleasure, paused... a few beats of silence.

"I love you too..."

Mal knew it, but it was still nice to hear. Terrifying, but nice. No one had loved him in a long time.

"It's over..."

Mal still isn't sure how it came to this... to fear and doubt, to angry, bitter words... but he knows, deep inside, it's his fault. While Simon gave him everything, he held back, gave Simon his heart, but never his soul.

And today, Simon leaves. The ship is set to dock at noon and if Mal can't give Simon the truth... that last secret he's keeping... if he can't pull down that last barrier and give Simon everything, that Simon has given him... Simon is leaving.

But Mal isn't sure he can. Isn't sure he has the words and if he did, he thinks, Simon would leave anyway. Some secrets are too terrible.

Mal rolls over in bed, the pillow still smells like Simon, warm and nutty, soon even that will fade and Mal will have nothing. He can live with that, he tells himself, he did for years.

"My soul mate..." Simon murmurs, sliding into him, hot and hard, Mal pleads for more, begs for it, needs it like he needs to breath.

Simon loved him, forgave his faults and gave him a reason to live; to truly live, not just exist... he had to try.

*~*~*~*~*

Mal knows it's already past noon... the ship docked twenty minutes ago, but vein hope bubbles along side the need.

His clothes fight with him and he curses, still fighting with his shirt buttons as he runs for the cargo hold, praying to a God he no longer believes in, that somehow, Simon won't be gone yet.

Half jumping down the stairs, breathing hard, he looks towards ZoŽ, towards Jayne and Wash... The bags he knows were packed and waiting beside the mule are gone and Mal feels his chest tighten and swallows back tears, he won't cry in front of his crew.

"You're late."

Mal spun around, hardly believing, hardly daring...

"Simon..."

"I couldn't leave, not without..."

Mal didn't care why he had waited; only that he had, only that he had his chance.

"Stay. Now, forever, don't... don't leave, Serenity... I... Please?" Mal asked. And it wasn't nearly what he wanted to say, nothing like it, but it was everything he had to give.

Simon looked at him, like he was thinking about it, like he was trying to work out all the things Mal wasn't saying.

"Why?" Simon asked.

Mal closed his eyes. The question he couldn't answer, the answer he couldn't give.

"I can't..."

Simon nodded. Thoughtful. "Goodbye Mal," and he walked away.

Mal choked, unable to breath, he turned, watching Simon leave, watching him walk away.

Some secrets were too much, too deep... some secrets could tear you apart and leave you bleeding from the inside out.

Mal watched Simon walk away and his heart bled.


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