If Simon had ever thought their whatever-this-is would make Jayne nicer to him, give him even a hint of politeness in their day-to-day life, he was quickly taken out of that notion. One day, after a particularly vicious outburst from Jayne, complete with him slamming the door to the galley shut behind him as he marched off, Wash suggests leaving him stranded somewhere.
"Preferably in deep space", he says, letting his real concern shine through the joking words. "I could make it look like an accident. Please say yes, I'm already looking forward to it."
"I think Simon can handle this", Inara says softly and refuses to meet Simon's eyes.
Simon wonders if he can. When he walks down to the infirmary to find Jayne already waiting, when his hands almost shake with eagerness to fasten the leather bands, Simon wonders if he's in over his head.
A job goes south. This is nothing new to any of them. Simon gets kidnapped. He wishes this was new. Or even better, something that never happens to him at all. Sitting gagged and blindfolded in a small shed full of old machinery with the promise of nasty infections on every edge of their rusting blades, it is hard to remember life before kidnappings became an everyday occurrence. At least these people don't seem to realize who he is, other than someone to hold hostage until Mal does… well, whatever they want the captain to do. Simon isn't too clear on the particulars. He sighs and tries to lean back against the wall without cutting himself on the farm equipment. Despite the uncomfortable position, he is asleep when help comes.
Simon wakes to the familiar sound of gunfire and screams. He smiles fondly before realizing how entirely out of place that feeling is. This life has warped his mind. Then there's not much time for thinking. Somebody kicks the door open, slamming it into Simon's knees.
"Sorry, doc, didn't know you were there", Jayne says without a trace of remorse.
"We're in a bit of a hurry", says another voice that Simon after a few moments recognizes as Mal's. "The good people of this town are having a bit of a disagreement with our methods of trading. Now come along, let's get back to the ship."
Jayne hauls Simon up on his feet and drags him, still blind and conveniently unable to protest, towards the screaming.
"Now let's just do this in a nice, orderly manner", Mal says to the crowd as Simon is lifted and thrown into the Mule. "I'll shoot the first one to move, how does that sound? Good, good." Then, in a lower tone: "Let's get out of here. Fast."
It isn't until they get back on the ship that Mal at last cuts Simon's hands free and removes the gag and blindfold. Simon coughs and swallows, trying to get the taste out of his mouth. The cargo bay has never been as bright as it is now, and it takes a while before he can see properly. By then, the captain and Zoe have left for the bridge. Simon is alone with Jayne. Jayne who – Simon blinks again, tries to get his eyes to focus properly – is looking furious.
"Now what the fuck was that good for?" Jayne spits at him. "Letting yerself get kidnapped like that, almost losing us the cargo – why were you even out of the ship?"
"I—I didn't think—" Simon starts.
"Damn right you didn't think", Jayne interrupts. He takes a step forward, making Simon stumble away from him. Simon's back hits the wall but Jayne keeps advancing, seizing Simon by the shoulders. His hands press close to Simon's throat, making it hard to breathe. Simon grips his arms, tries to push him off, but doesn't manage to make Jayne move an inch.
"You better keep your pretty little face in the med bay when we touch down on a rough moon like this. Folk like them here know an easy target when they see it, and I don't have time to go a-traipsin' about rescuin' your sorry ass."
Simon wheezes something unintelligible and Jayne looses his hold a fraction. It gets easier to breath. Simon could speak now, but he doesn't know what to say. Neither do Jayne, apparently. He looks at his hands on Simon's shoulders and seems to lose his thread of thought. There's something familiar in his eyes and Simon feels a rush of adrenalin through his body that has nothing to do with the kidnapping. Jayne grunts, turns and walks off, leaving Simon standing there with legs shaking so bad that he can't walk for another ten minutes.
Later, Simon lies in his bunk, aching all over after the day's adventures. He can't get the memory of Jayne's hands on him out of his mind. He's always known the man was strong, but it has never been as clear to him as now. But why should it affect him like this? Simon turns it over in his head a few times before recognizing what it is. He feels powerful.
The next time he straps Jayne down – only the next day, in fact, to treat a minor knife cut that Jayne got in the rescue mission – Simon looks at the muscles outlined under the skin of Jayne's bare arms. He flushes so red that he has to turn away for a moment to regain even an ounce of his usual composure.
After the kidnapping, Jayne is ruder than usual to Simon. On several occasions he even goes far enough that Mal orders him to back down. During their next heist – which Simon dutifully sits out in his room, rather happy not to be in danger of being kidnapped again – Jayne gets a wound on the temple that bleeds through his makeshift binding in minutes. Simon finds him in the infirmary, but rather than let Simon tend to him, Jayne grabs a bandage and stomps off. On his way out he yells to nobody in particular, though loud enough that Simon can hear him clearly, that he's going to the whorehouse.
Simon knows that this is, in some way, directed at him. He has followed Jayne, not sure what to do, and is standing above the cargo bay as Jayne walks off the ship.
"Good thinking there", Wash says behind Simon. "Might make him a bit more bearable."
Inara, walking past them, gives Simon an unreadable glance. As if she knows he is… but he's not sure himself what he's feeling. Is he jealous? He doesn't think so. Is he meant to be? Possibly. This thing, this arrangement between him and Jayne isn't really about sex. So why does Simon have a slight feeling of being cheated on? Or, rather, why does it feel that this is exactly what Jayne wants him to think?
It's not only Jayne who is out and about that night. Simon is talked into going out for a drink with the other crew members. The heist has apparently been very successful indeed. It's already beginning to get light when they make their way back to the ship. Simon thinks longingly of his bunk and at least ten solid hours of sleep but first, he heads towards the infirmary. There will be hangovers in the morning and he'd better put some painkillers and rehydration pills easily accessible, or he will have half of the crew messing up his cupboards tomorrow. He is just about finished when he hears somebody open the door.
Jayne isn't drunk, he can still walk straight up to Simon without stumbling, but he has definitely been drinking. The glint in his eyes is familiar but heightened by cheap alcohol.
"Think I might be needin' some seeing to, doctor", he says. "I found myself a bit of a fight down there."
"In the brothel?" Simon asks, trying to muster the energy to sound offended. "Didn't you go looking for another kind of fun there?"
Jayne scoffs. "Weren't any girls pretty enough", he says. "They got a mite upset when I told them. Isn't no good, hidin' from the truth like that."
"Sit down, then", Simon says. "Now, where are you hurt?"
It appears that the woman Jayne had insulted – in the midst of the act, no less – had been in possession of a set of extraordinarily long and sharp nails that has left angry red marks along the side of Jayne's back. That means Jayne has to lie on his other side, and that meant the straps will be useless.
"You'll just have to lie still", Simon says. "Now, this will sting a bit."
Simon starts cleaning out the cuts with a bit more force than is strictly necessary. He is swiftly forgetting how tired he is. Jayne is breathing heavily and Simon can feel his ribcage move under his fingers. When he is done, he goes to put away the cleaning solution and get some bandages. Apparently, this is taking too long for Jayne's liking. Simon has to stop him from sitting up – that might make his shirt fall back down and possibly get dirt back in the cuts. At first, Jayne resists the soft pressure of Simon's hand on his shoulder, but then he sinks back down. Simon remembers when their situation were reversed, knows that he wouldn't stand a chance against Jayne if Jayne didn't let him. He shivers.
The bandages are soon applied, neatly and professionally, and Simon has to let Jayne get up and out of the infirmary. Simon walks slowly toward his room. The bed, that seemed so inviting a short while ago, is sadly lacking in something.