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TAMSIBLING

A NEW LIFE, ch. 17: Ordinary Miracles
Friday, June 30, 2006

Post-BDM: Simon and Kaylee try to reconnect yet again, while Inara shuts Mal out and Millie's kids further endear themselves to the crew.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2691    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

A/N: Hopefully this chapter will make up for some of the "evil" comments I've been getting lately.

To Leiasky - for just about everything - including some very keen insight into key moments in this chapter!

***

A NEW LIFE, ch. 17: Ordinary Miracles

***

Mal found Inara in Kaylee’s room just before lunch. She was standing across the room, in front of one of the windows, and swaying slightly back and forth as she rocked baby Daniel. Mal leaned against the door jamb, content to watch her.

It seemed so natural for Inara to be cradling that baby. He watched as her body moved back and forth slightly and heard the lilting hum of a lullaby drifting from her lips. He had never before thought about having children, had in fact been quite against the idea – Serenity was no place to be having babies – but seeing Inara standing there, framed in the sunlight that shone through the window, her beautiful face resting gently against the top of the baby’s downy head, made Mal reconsider his own position on young uns in an instant.

“Beautiful,” he murmured, shocked when he heard the word aloud. He had meant to think it to himself so as not to disturb the scene in front of him.

Jumping slightly at the sound of his voice, Inara turned and gave him a warm smile as he entered the room and came up behind her. Again turning to face the window, she gazed down into Daniel’s face and said, “Isn’t he?”

“Oh, he is decidedly cute,” Mal confirmed, moving to wrap his arms around her waist. Placing a light kiss on her shoulder, he whispered, “But I wasn’t talking about the baby.”

Inara blushed at his compliment and leaned back against him. It felt so good to have him holding her. Even over the past ten months as everything on Serenity, and seemingly in the ‘verse, had been spiraling out of control, Mal had been the one constant she could rely on. He had stuck by her, weathered the first few months of their relationship and she felt confident now that he would stay with her for the long term, however long that turned out to be.

“You look real natural with a little one in your arms,” Mal murmured, completely oblivious to her internal musings.

While Inara knew he’d meant it as a compliment, she still tensed at the notion. She hadn’t ever thought about having a child, not for years, almost a decade. Now, with the closeness of Kaylee’s baby, it seemed to be giving them all baby fever, even Mal, and Inara worried what that might mean for the two of them.

Moving away from him, she stooped to pick up a few of Daniel’s things, easily balancing him against her as she did so. Once she had straightened again, she turned to Mal and saw a dumbfounded look on his face. Smiling a smile that did not reach her eyes, she said, “Sorry, sweetie, but I know Kaylee’ll want to feed him soon. I was just watching him while she showered.”

Turning to go, Mal reached her before she reached the door. Tugging on her elbow, he pulled her around to face him and questioned, “Did I say somethin’ wrong?”

She smiled that fake smile again, the one Mal hated, the one he was sure she had used for years on her clients and answered, “No, of course not. I just know he’ll get fussy if he doesn’t keep his schedule.” Looking down into Daniel’s face she muttered, “Like most men.”

Not satisfied, Mal started again, “’Nara-"

“Let’s go find your mama, lil’ one,” Inara said, ignoring him as she wandered from the room, again humming a tune to the little guy. Watching her go, Mal wondered what the hell had just happened, and if he should be worried or angry over her reaction.

Deciding on angry, he stalked from the room, content to let her ignore him, if that was what she wanted. Of course, he’d hate every minute of it, but that just couldn’t be helped.

***

River found her brother on the ship the next day, and was not surprised. She was slightly disappointed, disappointed in his reaction to seeing and speaking with Kaylee, but she was not at all shocked that he had retreated to the only safe haven he could find, his infirmary.

Entering the room, she hopped up easily on the exam table and studied his tense shoulders. He hadn’t turned at her entrance although she knew he was aware of her presence. Deciding she could wait him out, she sat in silence. He sat, hunched over some charts across the room, consumed with his research. Charts of his own troubled mind, scans he hoped could shed light on his enigmatic past. Information he needed to make sense of so he could stop hurting the people around him, so he could stop hurting.

Finally, with a sigh and loud slap, he closed his data book and swiveled his stool so he was facing her. His lips set into a thin, firm line, he asked, “Yes?”

“What happened,” she asked him, crossing her arms over her chest. She was surprised by the amount of anger she could feeling coming off of him. Trying to fend it off, she returned his hard gaze.

“Exactly what I thought would happen,” he reported, dropping his gaze to the floor. “I saw her and still couldn’t remember her.” Looking back to his sister, the anger in his eyes was mixed with pain as he asked curtly, “Happy?”

Frowning at him, River alighted off the table and went to kneel in front of him. Resting a light hand against his knee, she said honestly, “No. I’m not happy. Not for you or Kaylee or our family.” She thought of little baby Daniel and how that tiny boy deserved a father, especially one as great as her brother could be. Blinking away sudden tears at the thought, she turned back to him and asked, “So, what are you going to do now?”

Sighing heavily, Simon rose and walked away from her, pacing out into the common room and falling unceremoniously onto the couch. Rubbing a hand over his tired eyes, he finally answered, “I have no idea.”

River had followed him and now stood regarding him coolly from the doorway to the infirmary. “You can’t just give up,” she told him, voicing his immediate thought.

“Why not,” he asked bitterly, thinking that it really was the most advisable plan.

Coming to sit next to him, she took his hand and he looked at her. There was that determination again, didn’t she ever falter? “Because, you deserve better, you deserve more. And so does Kaylee.”

But he couldn’t give Kaylee what she wanted, he couldn’t give her more. He couldn’t remember her. Pulling his hand away from his sister, he leaned back his head and closed his eyes. He wished he could just disappear. Maybe if he was gone the pain, the heartache he was obviously causing would just disappear as well. He didn’t know if that were true, in fact, he suspected it wasn’t, but he couldn’t continue to see Kaylee, to watch her die a little every time his mind refused to place her. It would be so much better for her, for them all if he was gone. “Just go,” he said quietly.

He knew it had probably hurt her feelings and he knew that he should feel ashamed for pushing his sister away, but he just couldn’t take it. The weight of everyone’s expectations was going to suffocate him.

When he again opened his eyes he realized that River had obeyed him and he was alone. Rising with a weary sigh, he walked back into the infirmary to again study the cerebral scans they’d done, hoping he could find an answer to how to unlock these still hidden parts of his life.

He resumed his inspection, because even though the odds were decidedly stacked against him, he could not quit. He was a doctor, a good one, and that meant he fixed things. It was his job to make sense of medical anomalies where there was no sense to be made, and he would make sense of this one. If only to bring a smile back to that bright girl’s face, who he could only remember from yesterday. If only to know that he had done everything in his power to make her happy again. He knew now, from meeting her, talking with her, he owed her that.

***

The next few days were tense. Simon and Kaylee barely spoke to one another, unless it was absolutely necessary. Simon had managed to venture from the ship, coming out in the mornings to have breakfast with them all and occasionally, staying for supper as well. But with the exception of meal times, he made no effort to be with Kaylee or see her, and that saddened everyone.

He was outside, moping, when Elijah wandered over. Unable to play for as long as the others, he tiredly strode over to the porch and sat on the step next to Simon. Simon studied the boy, the doctor in him immediately growing concerned – he was sick, it was painfully obvious. He had spoken briefly with Millie about his condition and she had told him that although their local doctors had tried to ease his coughing and his breathing, they had been fairly unsuccessful.

Noticing his gaze, Elijah nodded toward the group of people laughing in the yard, “Why aren’t ya out there,” he asked, his voice consistently hoarse. “I’m sick, what’s your excuse?”

Simon looked back toward the scene and saw his sister’s smile, laughing and running with such ease, it brought joy to his heart. Glancing back to the boy, he told him truthfully, “I’m kind of dull. Not much imagination.”

Elijah gave him a skeptical look and said, “But you’re a doctor, ain’t ya? Doesn’t than mean you’re real smart?”

Chuckling, softly, Simon said, “I guess. But smart and fun, don’t always go together, especially in my case.” The boy seemed to think on that statement and silence fell between them again. Consumed by his own troubles, Simon had almost forgotten about him, when he finally rasped, “Is it true you can’t ‘member anybody?”

Not knowing why he was surprised, Simon turned a stunned look to the boy. He knew that the children had been all abuzz over his troubles and his possible connection to Miss Kaylee. He had heard them whispering, in the loud, easily understandable tones of children and been amused when their conversations would stop the moment he came into view and start up again the minute his back was turned. Shrugging slightly he decided dishonesty would get him no where. “Yes, it’s true.”

Elijah nodded thoughtfully for a moment and then sighed. “Must be nice.”

Not expecting that to be the child’s response, Simon asked, “You think so? Why do you say that?”

His eyes focusing on the children playing and then focusing on some moment in time far removed, it took Elijah a full minute to answer the man. Finally, he said, “When I was little, real little, like Cadie’s age, I wasn’t sick.” Sighing heavily and starting a coughing fit, Simon reached out to steady the boy, placing a gentle hand against his back. When he again had it controlled, he looked to Simon with sad eyes and said, “Some days, I’d really like not to remember.”

Simon smiled at him sadly and watched as his eyes again watered and he started to cough, more violently than before. The fit got the attention of the children playing and they all came rushing forward, as Simon hefted the boy into his arms and headed for the house. Millie had come running at the commotion as well, and opened the door for Simon as he held Elijah’s still shaking form.

“His room,” he asked quickly, following Millie’s arm that pointed in that direction. Calling over his shoulder, he said, “River, get my bag. It’s in the mule.”

His sister turned and immediately left, finding him just a few minutes later. He had laid Elijah down, propping up the boy’s head to keep his airway open. Noticing the humidifier in his room, Simon had kicked it on instantly knowing that they dry summer air could easily exacerbate his condition.

Taking his red bag from his sister, he nodded his thanks. River watched her brother as he confidently pulled out his instruments and tried to help. Millie had shooed the children away from the door, but she, her sister, her sister’s husband and now Kaylee were all standing in the entryway, looking to Elijah’s rasping form with concern.

Simon blocked out all of this as he placed his stethoscope against the boy’s chest, listening with a frown as he heard him struggle to breathe. It didn’t sound good and from Millie’s hasty assessment earlier that day, it was worse than their local doctors had imagined.

Replacing his stethoscope, he pulled out a syringe and a vial of smoother, knowing that he could at least help the boy rest. Looking down to Elijah, he laid a gentle hand on the boy’s shoulder and said, “Elijah, I’m going to give you something to help you breathe, all right?” Nodding watery eyes at him, Simon smiled back, trying to put as much reassurance and kindness into the gaze as he could. “All right, this is just going to pinch for a second.”

Finding the boy’s vein with a practiced hand, Simon had administered the medication and replaced the vial as Elijah was able to take his first steady breath. “That’s a good boy,” Simon murmured, running a hand over the boy’s dark brown hair. He sat with him as he continued to take deep breaths, continuing to comfort him. “You’re doing really well, Elijah, just keep taking easy breaths and get some rest, all right? I’m going to do my best to help you, I promise.”

The boy nodded and as Simon turned to go, he was surprised by the firmness of the grip that held his hand. “Thank you, Simon,” he whispered, his eyes again filling with tears.

Simon smiled at him and gave his shoulder another light squeeze. Feeling more at ease than he had for quite some time, Simon stood, and collected his things, ushering all the adults into the hallway and closing the boy’s door. River followed him out and once they were standing outside, slipped her hand into his, giving him a wide and happy grin.

“Is he all right, doc,” Walt asked, his arm instinctively holding his wife to his side.

Simon tried to avoid the fearful expressions on all their faces especially Kaylee’s, as he addressed the group. “He’ll be fine for now, but it’s worse then you told me this morning,” he reported, looking to Millie. A hand flew up to the woman’s mouth and Kaylee reached out an arm to comfort her friend. “I’d like to take him back to the ship tomorrow and run some tests. We don’t have the best equipment, but it’ll give me a much clearer picture of what we’re dealing with.”

Millie nodded once, her eyes filling with tears. “Thank you doctor,” she whispered, reaching out to squeeze his arm.

Simon smiled at her and said, “You don’t have to thank me, Millie. You’ve done so much for all of us,” he told her, letting his eyes drift to his sister and then quickly to Kaylee. She was watching him as well, and Simon hastily dropped her gaze. “This is the least I can do. And it’s Simon, please.”

Millie smiled at him and then turned to enter Elijah’s room. Walt and Marie quickly drifted away, glad that the immediate crisis had passed, leaving Simon, his sister and Kaylee to stand awkwardly facing each other.

Kaylee looked ready to say something when the sound of footsteps could be heard. Having found River and sensing her and Elijah’s distress, Cadie came bounding around the corner at a full run, running right into Simon’s legs. Instinctively, Simon reached down and scooped up the little one, even as Kaylee and River both reached out to take her. Holding her to him, Simon looked at her little face and asked, “What is it, little one?”

When she didn’t answer, Simon was not surprised. Glancing to his sister, he got a slight nod from her and then turned back to the little girl, noticing that she had a few tears welling up in the bottom of her eyes. “You want to see Elijah, don’t you?” She nodded hesitantly and Simon told her, “Well, you can’t right now, sweetheart. He’s resting. He’s very tired.”

Continuing to stare at him with those wet, blue eyes, Simon tried to think of something that might cheer the girl. “I tell you what, how about we go draw him a picture. How does that sound?”

Still not thoroughly convinced but liking this man more and more Cadie nodded, and wrapped her pudgy little arms around Simon’s neck. Sighing tiredly, Simon suspected it would soon be time for the girl’s nap as well.

“Okay,” he whispered to her, rubbing his hand lightly across her back. Giving Kaylee a tentative smile that she remembered all too well, he headed back the way Cadie had come, so they could set to their task.

Kaylee watched him go in awe, completely unaware until this moment that he’d have such a way with children. Why she was surprised, she didn’t know. Simon had always been kind and gentle to everyone he met, but she had assumed it was some kind of doctor trait, learned in medical school and reserved for hospitals and the like. But no, it extended to everyone. Elijah and Cadie … Kaylee’s eyes welled at the thought that it didn’t encompass her anymore and then she thought quickly of her son, their son and what a wonderful father Simon could be, would be.

Coming up to her friend’s side, River wrapped an arm around her shoulders and said, “Always wanted a family. Just never knew how much.”

Kaylee nodded once, biting her lip to keep her tears in. “I have to go check on Daniel,” she murmured and hurried away, heading down the hall in the opposite direction. With them both gone River sighed heavily and leaned against the wall. Letting her head fall into her hands, River wondered when exactly all this pain would pass.

***

Simon was brooding again in the infirmary on board the ship when he heard the sound from the cargo bay of Zoe carrying a wailing Ellie in her arms. As they rounded the corner into the infirmary, Simon immediately saw the child’s trouble; her right wrist was cocked at an odd angle indicating it was probably broken.

Simon guided both girls over the exam table, where Zoe laid down the little one before stepping back a bit. Worried she would leave, Ellie clung to Zoe’s hand fiercely and smiling down at the girl, Zoe whispered, “It’s all right, baby. I ain’t goin’ nowhere.” She ran a light hand through the girl’s platinum locks as Simon prepped a syringe with a mild pain killer. Within minutes the girl was quieted, her brown eyes still wide with shock, but her entire body much calmer.

Working with deft hands that had not forgotten their trade, Simon slowly examined her bent wrist. Wiggling his fingers gently underneath, Simon asked his patient. “What’s your name, sweetheart?”

She looked from him to Zoe. At a nod from the older woman she turned back and stuttered, “El-Ellie.”

“Well, hello Ellie, I’m Simon,” he told her, reaching up to place a gentle hand on her shoulder. His eyes were warm and Ellie liked them. “How did you hurt your wrist?”

“I was playin’,” she said, realizing now as the doctor continued to poke at her wrist that he was a nice man. “Tristan dared me to jump outta tree, said I was chicken cause’n I was a girl. But I showed him,” she finished proudly, her face screwing up with a satisfied grin.

Simon smiled at her and agreed. “You certainly did.” Looking up to Zoe finally, he read the concern on the woman’s face and had to wonder if she wasn’t getting just a bit attached to this little one. She was adorable; Simon could see how someone, especially a woman like Zoe who had recently lost a husband, could care for her. “It’s broken,” he told her firmly. At the sound of a slight whimper for the little girl, Simon looked back to her and smiled again; Ellie instantly quieted. “But not to worry,” he told her. “We can fix it, make it as good as new. Maybe even better.”

Zoe nodded once and said, “Thanks Doc.”

Simon nodded and moved to get some things. When he came back to the bed, he saw that Ellie’s eyes which had previously been fearful of this whole experience were relaxed, the drugs no doubt taking effect. As Simon began his work, which he knew would cause the child additional discomfort, he talked with her, making sure she was distracted.

“Ellie, how old are you?”

“Five,” she told him, wincing slightly as he steadied her hand to wrap it.

“Why, five, that’s pretty old,” Simon told her, again glancing to her and smiling. She returned the grin and Simon mused how simple it must be to be a child. “You’re going to be a grown-up soon.”

Shaking her head sternly from side to side, Ellie didn’t even notice as Simon continued his work. “Nu-huh,” she told him, her voice taking on a defiant tone. “I’m gonna be a kid for as long as I want. Miss Millie said so.”

“Well, Miss Millie sounds like a very wise woman,” Simon told her. Working for just a few more minutes, her arm was bandaged before she even knew what was happening. “All done.”

Surprised, Ellie looked from the doctor to her now wrapped arm and back again. Turning a wide grin on him, she looked back to Zoe and said, “You were right, he’s good.”

Zoe grinned sheepishly at getting caught in the compliment, and looked to Simon for an escape. “Is she gonna be all right?”

“She’ll be fine,” Simon said, moving to wash his hands. “She just needs to lay off that arm for a couple of weeks. And no more jumping out of trees, dong ma,” he scolded tenderly, getting a blush from the little girl, but a nod as well. Looking back to Zoe he said, “I’ll bring some pain meds to Millie’s, just in case she has a hard time coping these next few days.”

Zoe nodded once as Simon moved forward and patted the girl on the head. “Ellie, it was very nice to meet you.”

Ellie grinned at him and he thought for a moment she would say something else, but her expression grew thoughtful. Her eyes were still wide and they studied him now with an intensity he was unaccustomed to, except possibly from his sister. “Come on, baby,” Zoe murmured, trying to pull the girl from the table.

Shrugging off her touch, Ellie continued to hold Simon’s gaze, finally saying, “You ain’t mean.”

More than surprised, Simon studied the girl back and asked, “What?”

“You ain’t mean,” she repeated, showing slight frustration at having to say it again. Sometimes adults could be really stupid.

Zoe, who was equally amused by the girl’s assessment, asked, “Who said Simon was mean?”

Ellie shrugged simply, and looked back to the older woman. “No body, I just figured he was ‘cause ever since he’s been here, Miss Kaylee’s been crying somethin’ fierce.”

At the sound of Kaylee’s name, Simon felt all traces of his good humor vanish. Knowing that he had made her cry again pierced him to the core. That had never been his intent, but he’d known the other day when they had talked, that he’d behaved badly. How he could have acted differently, he did not know, but the thought that he had again caused her pain inexplicably ripped at his heart.

“She’s been crying,” Simon asked, his eyes cast to the floor. He was too ashamed of his behavior to even look the little one in the face.

Nodding profusely, Ellie continued, oblivious to the doctor’s anguish. “Uh-huh. Like when she first got here. She cried all the time then too. But then Daniel came and she got better, at least for a bit.”

Zoe inhaled sharply at the mention of Kaylee’s son; Kaylee and Simon’s son. She knew that her friend didn’t want Simon to find out about the child too soon; she feared his reaction, but the damage was done now as Simon’s ears had perked up at the mention of the name. He glanced to the woman hurriedly, looking for some confirmation of who this Daniel might be, but Zoe’s face remained placid and unable to get a read off of her, turned back to his little patient.

A jealous hand gripping his heart, Simon asked slowly, “Who’s Daniel? Her husband?”

Giving him a look of pure idiocy, Ellie stated plainly, “No, silly. Daniel’s her baby.”

Simon backed up against the counter, leaning heavily against it for fear he would fall without its support. Kaylee’s baby; Kaylee had a baby, a son. The woman he had loved was a mother. But who was the father? Was it possible he’d gotten her pregnant and not even known? Surely if Kaylee’d been expecting when Simon had gone he’d be able to remember her. He hoped that he wasn’t the kind of man who could forget something like that. Or was it possible that she had moved on? Found someone else since he’d been feared dead? Had another man’s child? For a reason he could not explain the thought of Kaylee having a child with someone else angered and hurt him. It shouldn’t; he could not remember her, he had no claim to her or her life, but still … he knew, deep down, that if Kaylee were to have a child, it should be his. He’d want it to be his.

Zoe watched the doc’s reaction ready to steady him should he faint. Most men had a hard enough time with the concept of fatherhood, let alone men whose memories had been wiped. But with an uncanny ability Zoe didn’t expect from the young man, Simon was able to pull himself together.

Ellie watched the doctor as he struggled to contain his emotions wondering what all the fuss was about. Moving forward he knelt in front of the girl and said, “I never wanted to hurt Miss Kaylee.” He hoped his insistent gaze and genuine regret could translate to the girl. He stayed silent for a moment, but when he was unable to silence a nagging question at the back of his mind, he gave into the urge to voice it. “How old is Daniel,” he asked.

The girl cocked her head to one side, thinking, and pulling out her uninjured hand counted on her tiny fingers. “Dunno,” she said finally. She wasn’t yet very good with math. “He ain’t that old, he’s still real little. But he’s pretty, he’s got dark hair and blue eyes. Miss Kaylee really wanted him to have blue eyes,” Ellie told him, noticing as she looked back into Simon’s face that his eyes were also a startling blue.

Simon just stayed there, his shock causing his whole body to tense. That confirmed it, the baby had to be his. Of course, the word of a five year old was not totally reliable, but with a certainty Simon could never explain he knew it. And the fact that he could not remember Kaylee, the bright girl whose smile could encompass the ‘verse, and now, the mother of his child, brought on a fresh wave of agony.

Bored, Ellie looked back to Zoe and whined, “Can we go now?”

Zoe moved forward to pick up the girl and she easily snuggled into Zoe’s arms, the pain meds finally causing her to tire. Resting a light hand on Simon’s shoulder, Zoe asked, “You all right, doc?”

By the look on his face she knew the answer, and she also knew he would deny it. “Yes, I’m fine, Zoe. Thank you.”

Zoe nodded once figuring it was the best she could hope for. Maybe once she’d gotten Ellie settled in for the night she’d send River down to check on the boy. He’d just had quite a shock. “All right then,” she said, turning to leave. Glancing back over her shoulder, she told him, “We’ll all be up at Millie’s if’n you need anythin’.”

He nodded once and then she was gone.

Simon straightened slowly, his muscles fighting the movement. His body had stopped functioning since he’d figured out that he was a father. A father; the thought at once thrilled and scared him. But what angered him more was that he could not remember his own son’s mother.

And he should. Having just met Kaylee briefly for those few moments the other night, Simon could see she was the type of woman any man would be lucky to know, let alone love. She always smiled, always tried to be positive, was constantly trying to see the best in everything, including him. Even when he was being the biggest boob in the ‘verse, she had been there to give him support, offering him any help he could possibly need; and like an idiot, he’d pushed her away, content to remain miserable.

Sighing heavily, Simon surveyed the mess in front of him and moved to clean up. His thoughts were still consumed with Kaylee as he reached in to a concealed cabinet to pull out a special cleaner he had stored. As he felt his hand grip around the bottle, his fingers brushed against something else, something that didn’t seem to belong.

Reaching around with his hand, unable to see into the small space, Simon closed his hand over the rounded object and pulled it out. At the sight of the carved wood, with its hand-painted roses and birds, and with a gasp that took the air from his lungs, Simon sank to the floor.

In an instant, every memory, every moment came flooding back, the sensation threatening to overwhelm him, causing him to have to concentrate on just breathing. He had hidden this small box in the infirmary just a week before he’d been taken. He had hidden it here so Kaylee wouldn’t find it. Since she had moved into his bunk, he’d been unable to conceal anything from her; she had even managed to stumble upon a birthday present he had thought he’d concealed fairly cleverly.

With a trembling hand and a shaky breath, Simon reached out to pull back the lid of the box, relieved to see that the contents were still intact. Replacing the top, he ran a finger over the tiny carvings and felt his tears fall. He’d bought this for Kaylee, his Kaylee and he remembered.

He remembered her. Remembered the way she hummed when she worked on the engine; the way her nose wrinkled at a wretched smell; the way she’d bat her eyes when she wanted something from him; the way her mouth felt on his; the way her body felt under his hands ….

Closing his eyes, Simon indulged in these moments as they came flooding in and more followed: the moment they’d first met when she’d been twirling that bright umbrella; the day she’d been shot and he’d saved her life; the time she had made him a birthday cake; the minute Early had threatened her life; the fear in her eyes as they’d faced the Reavers; the determination in them as he’d told her he wanted to be with her; their first time together, on the floor of the engine room; the minute he’d told her he loved her.

It was almost too much. Sobbing heavily, he clutched the small box to his chest as he realized that he had almost lost the best thing in his life. But his gratitude at having the memories back washed over and through him and even as his tears stilled, his mind raced. His relief at remembering was quickly replaced with a nervousness that only Kaylee could cause. He had to make it up to her. He had to tell Kaylee, show her how much he loved her, how sorry he was that he had put her through this, all of it, any of it. And he had to let her know that he wanted his future to be with her, her and their son, so badly he thought his heart would break if it couldn’t be.

Standing on shaky legs, Simon took a few deep breaths and then, straightening his shirt and running a hand through his hair, he headed towards Millie’s, the box still held tightly in his hands. Now that he remembered Kaylee, there was nothing he wouldn’t do to be with her, forever.

***

Simon found her with Inara in her room. As he peered around the corner, he saw the two friends sitting on her bed, laughing lightly at some shared joke. Kaylee was cradling a baby in her arms and he knew it was his son, their son. Taking a deep breath and trying to stymie the continuing nerves he felt, Simon entered the room.

Both women turned at his entrance, although Inara, recovering first, looked from Simon back to Kaylee, trying to gauge her friend’s reaction. Kaylee couldn’t speak for a full moment. She hadn’t spoken to Simon since that horrible fight a few nights ago, but now here he was, in her room, and he was getting closer.

Simon was about to ask Inara to give them a minute, when his gaze fell to the tiny baby in Kaylee’s arms. Reaching out a gentle hand to place on his son’s dark-haired head, he took a moment just to stare. Both women exchanged curious glances as he stood, enthralled with the infant. Kaylee felt her heart start to beat wildly, thinking that Simon looked all too familiar with Daniel – he couldn’t know, could he?

Finally, deciding to get his attention, Kaylee called to him. “Simon? Everythin’ all right?”

Simon pulled his gaze from his son’s sleeping face and brought his eyes up to rest on Kaylee. “He’s beautiful,” he told her honestly, his throat constricting as he fought to keep his sobs at bay. Watching as Kaylee’s cheeks flushed at the compliment, his heart swelled with the nearness of her and he wanted so badly to kiss her, tell her he was sorry and just hold her again. But he wanted to do it in private.

Turning to Inara, he didn’t even have to ask. Reaching for Daniel, Inara took him from his mother, the baby not even making a sound as he switched hands. “Why don’t I take him for a bit, mei mei,” she commented, rising in the process and grabbing a few of his things from his crib. As she headed for the door, she turned back and said, “You two, just take all the time you need.”

Simon smiled his thanks at her, almost certain she could tell he’d remembered. She nodded to him slightly and with fresh tears in her eyes, hurried from the room, hopeful for the first time in weeks.

Once she’d gone and the door was safely shut behind her, Simon turned back to Kaylee and noted the somewhat apprehensive expression playing across her features. She still hadn’t figured out what could have brought about such a change in Simon, although her heart insisted it was because he had remembered her. But her mind could only dwell on the pain of the past ten months and she didn’t want to be wrong; not about this.

Sitting next to her gingerly on the bed, Simon looked over to Daniel’s crib and then back to Kaylee. “He really is a beautiful baby,” he told her, watching again as she blushed with motherly pride. “He’s yours, isn’t he?”

Her eyes widening at the question, Kaylee could do nothing but nod. He’s yours, too, she wanted to yell. Her heart ached to tell Simon he was Daniel’s father, but her fear and her hurt stayed her tongue. She worried that if he knew the truth, he’d be hurt and angry and resent her for keeping his son from him. She feared that reaction almost as much as she feared none at all.

She watched as Simon’s gaze roved back over to the crib, and it was while he stared at it that he added quietly, “And he’s mine too.”

It wasn’t a question and Kaylee knew it. Unable to believe that her greatest wish could be coming true, she bit her lip to keep her tears in. When she didn’t answer, Simon turned back to her, and saw that her hopefulness and her excitement were apt to make her burst. “He is,” she whispered, surprised she could even get the words out.

Simon watched her for a moment, and Kaylee could not break the silence that had fallen between them. She was living in a surreal world right now, where Simon remembered her and she feared that if she spoke, the spell would be broken, her life again shattering. And she couldn’t take that. She studied him closely, noticing that his eyes were different now, different than they had been two days ago. More like they had always been in the past – warm and expressive. It gave her more hope than she really wanted to admit - that maybe he had remembered and they could pick up their lives where they had left off.

A few tears leaked down her cheeks and Simon smiled warmly at them, reaching up a hand to brush them away. She sighed against his light touch and closed her eyes. He was touching her like he used to, like he had a million times before; could it be?

Simon delighted in seeing her relax, it was the most he’d seen her let go since he’d been back and he was so grateful that she could. When her eyes again fluttered open, Simon saw her pain and her hope reflected there. He could see her question too, could see how she held it on the tip of her tongue, afraid to ask, afraid of his answer.

To save her the anxiety, he pulled the box he’d found no more than an hour ago from his pocket and held it up to her. Her eyes brightened at the sight, and she inhaled a light breath. “Ooh,” she cooed as she peered closer to study it further. “It’s so pretty.” Looking up to him again with a genuine smile on her face, she asked, “Is it for me?”

Simon nodded once, worried his voice would falter. She took it from him and glided her hands over it, tracing each of the flowers and birds, turning it over in her grasp to take in every aspect. With amusement, Simon noticed that, not once, did she even think to look inside.

“It’s real pretty, Simon,” she told him, again looking to him with tear-filled eyes. “I love all the painting. And what is this,” she questioned, pointing at one particularly blobby shape. “Is that a duck?”

Simon laughed now, a genuine deep laugh and the sound was like music to Kaylee’s ears. Taking her hands in his own, he placed the box on her nightstand and said, “You always were fascinated by ducks.”

And with that one word, ‘always,’ Kaylee knew her prayers had been answered. “Simon,” she whispered, her voice barely audible as her tears and her joy threatened to overwhelm her.

Taking her face in his hands, Simon studied her for a moment more, trying to burn every aspect of her into his memory so he could never forget again. “Kaylee,” he whispered back, bringing their faces closer. “It’s me, bao bei. I remember everything.” And with that admission, he pressed his mouth to hers.

It was quite possibly the best kiss Kaylee had ever received. Her mind was at a loss to form any coherent thought as one thing just kept repeating over and over again – he remembers. She sobbed against him, unable to contain her happy tears, and Simon pulled her into his arms in a tight embrace, holding her against him as she cried. He cried with her, unable to believe that he could have ever forgotten her, that he could have ever been taken from her.

“I’m sorry, Kaylee,” he whispered into her hair, even as she continued to cry. “I’m so sorry.”

“It ain’t your fault, Simon,” she told him, her voice broken by her tears. “I just, I never thought … I only dreamed that …” She was unable to finish the thought as more tears of relief washed over and through her.

Simon pressed kisses to her hair, her temple, her cheeks, her eyes, her mouth, anywhere; he wanted to reassure her that he would never leave again. “I’m sorry I couldn’t remember you,” he whispered to her, as he buried his face against the top of her head.

Kaylee sank into him, taking comfort in his presence. For the first time in almost a year she felt safe and whole. She felt complete. Simon was back and he loved her still and that was all she would ever need. “I don’t care,” she told him truthfully. “I love you, Simon,” she managed to get out through sobs.

“I love you too, Kaylee,” he answered her, meaning the words in a way he never had before. Pulling back slightly, he gazed down into her face and kissed her again, pouring as much passion and love as he could into the gesture. Kaylee returned his emotions and then some, letting her arms snake around him and pull him tighter to her. Her body was alive with her want, her need for him. She had missed having him close, missed waking up with his strong arms around her, missed his loving touch, missed him. And she almost couldn’t believe that he was back.

Simon ran his hands up Kaylee’s back and into her hair, inhaling her sweet scent. She was perfect, always had been. He felt his body respond to her touch and he wondered again how he could not have known. Pulling back from her, Simon again cradled her face in his hands, content to stare at her until the sun rose.

Reaching out a gentle hand, Kaylee caressed his cheek and held his look, still in awe that he was here now, holding her. Her eyes started to swell with tears as her mind again awoke to the fact that he had returned to her. Holding her hand to his cheek, she whispered, almost to herself, “Please God, don’t let this be a dream.”

Simon smiled at her and placed a gentle kiss against her mouth. “Not a dream, bao bei,” he whispered against her cheek.

She sobbed again at his words, and Simon wrapped a strong arm around her shoulders, holding her close. Kaylee could not let him go, she could not be without him again, she knew that now. After what seemed forever, when her tears had finally stopped, Simon asked her, “Are you all right?”

Kaylee nodded once, unable to trust her voice. Sitting up to look at him, she questioned, “Are you?”

With just the barest of flickers, she saw his eyes reflect the pain of the past month, but quickly it was gone, replaced instead with his love and concern for her. Pressing another kiss to her mouth, he whispered, “You had a baby.”

Kaylee bit her lip, worried now that he would mention how wrong she had been to keep Daniel a secret. “I’m sorry I din’t tell ya,” she said quickly, her heart racing at the thought that she might get Simon back only to lose him again. “I just …” she trailed off, trying to think of the best way to explain herself. Finally, as she looked back into his blue eyes and felt more tears coming, she told him, “He was all I had, all I had left, of you.”

Simon started to cry again as well. How Kaylee could have survived this much pain was a testament to her strength and her determination. And how she could still love him, still want him after all that’d happened, was a testament to her character and her devotion.

“You are amazing,” he whispered, running his hands through her hair. She sighed at the touch and again closed her eyes as he drew her closer for another kiss. He didn’t want to rush things, although his body ached to touch her and be touched in return. But it could wait, that could wait – they had all the time in the ‘verse.

Kaylee was mesmerized by his presence, his touch, his words; she could think of nothing else. Her heart still pounded in her chest with mild uncertainty, uncertainty that this was all a dream and she would awaken in a few hours, alone and cold, again mourning his death. But as she opened her eyes and saw his blue eyes gazing at her, she did her best to stifle those fears.

Biting her lip to keep her tears in, Simon saw her trepidation. “What is it,” he whispered, worried that maybe she had come to her senses and wanted him gone.

“It’s just gonna take me a while is all,” she told him, running her hand over his face. “It’s gonna take me a while to trust that it’s really you. That I ain’t dreamin’.”

Smiling at her, Simon let her trace his eyes and nose and mouth with her hands, doing her best to commit him to memory. Finally, he watched as her eyes fluttered closed, and her body sagged slightly, the emotions of the day and her tiredness getting the best of her.

“Come on, Kaylee,” he whispered, guiding her legs onto the bed and placing the covers over her. “Time to sleep.”

She protested him, even as her eyes grew heavier with her exhaustion. “Simon,” she called, placing her hand over his.

“I’m right here, bao bei,” he told her, gently placing a kiss against her palm. “I’m not going anywhere.” Indeed, he had every intention of staying with her through the night, watching her sleep.

“Hold me,” she whispered, her large green eyes opening again. Her need for him almost palpable, Simon nodded once and then gently lied down beside her. She easily snuggled into him like she always had and the feeling of her next to him brought fresh tears to Simon’s eyes. She was warm and whole against his side; she was home.

She looked into his face as he stared at her, neither one speaking for quite some time. When she knew she’d be unable to fight sleep a moment longer, Kaylee placed a light kiss against his lips and asked one final question. “You’re gonna be here when I wake up, right?”

Simon watched as her eyelids dropped shut. Her question brought on a fresh wave of guilt and he realized he would spend the rest of his life ensuring she never had to doubt him again. “Yes, Kaylee,” he whispered back, tightening his hold on her, and placing a gentle kiss against her brow. “I’ll be here. I’ll always be here.”

With that, Kaylee snuggled just a bit closer, making sure there was not an inch of wasted space between them and fell asleep in his warm embrace. Simon was content to instead stay awake all night, marveling at the beauty of the girl at his side, the perfection of their son and the never-ending ways in which the ‘verse could surprise, amaze and startle him.

***

Okay, I think that deserves some comments!

COMMENTS

Friday, June 30, 2006 1:20 PM

BRAINSPECIALIST


Fina-frickin'-lee!

My God, I'm hooked! Some of the best stuff out there!

By the way, a small thing, but it's really annoying how you end character's questions with commas instead of question marks. Apart from that, great job!

Friday, June 30, 2006 1:24 PM

LEIASKY


I'm glad I read this months ago as you were writing it, or I'd be bawling my eyes out right now while sitting at work!

I just LOVE that Ellie was the one to inadvertently spill the beans AGAIN. Ahh, the innocence of children.

Loved how Simon finally remembered too and how the box had little engravings on it that Kaylee thought looked like ducks!

The 'real' reunion was just perfect, but you already know that. . . can't wait to read what everyone else thinks! :)

Friday, June 30, 2006 3:02 PM

JEDINERD7


FINALLY! That was the best chapter yet! I loved all the kiddie interaction (I hope Zoe adopts Ellie) and I especially love how Simon remembered! I feel like crying!

Friday, June 30, 2006 5:51 PM

WICKEDWMS


Woohoo! I have computer access for the BEST CHAPTER YET! I loved that it was an object he found that triggered his memory and that he seems to get all of his memories of Kaylee back at once and not little bits at a time. I too hope we get one more chapter of fluff before Gabrial and the blue hands show up to ruin everything. Hopefully the BDH will be prepared with a good defense. Stay Shiny.

Friday, June 30, 2006 7:42 PM

MRSSIMONTAM


*SOB* that was the best chapter yet keep it coming!

Friday, June 30, 2006 8:10 PM

SUZFROMOZ


excellent! i think I vote for at least one happy chapter too before the baddies arrive. And, is anyone else wondering what was in that box??

Saturday, July 1, 2006 3:48 AM

LEIGHKOHL


I have to say this chapter made me a little weepy! All the anguish that has been flooding this story, it was a nice break to FINALLY have a lovely Simon/Kaylee scene! I loved that the box triggered his memory, and I too am curious as to it's contents! So intrigued by Inara's reaction to Mal's little statement at he beginning of the chapter! What is up with her? And I know this happiness is not going to last, not with the two angst twins at the helm of this story! But this was a wonderful chapter! Can't wait for your next post!

Saturday, July 1, 2006 9:30 AM

AMDOBELL


This is so very good but I got frustrated when Inara took the baby away so Kaylee and Simon could talk. The baby should have stayed with Kaylee, after all couldn't very well put the cat back in the bag now that Simon knew, thank goodness! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, July 1, 2006 10:52 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Ah...from the mouths of babes comes the shining truth (probably not the real quote...but it's shiny, dontcha think?)

:P

This chpater rocked, TamSibling! You have the touch and no one should say differently:D

BEB

Saturday, July 1, 2006 3:02 PM

RIVERISMYGODDESS


I really hope that Simon can help little Elijah.

Yay for Simon fixing up all of the kids.

Double yay for Ellie dropping the bomb on Simon, he needed that wake up call.

This was a great chapter, and I assume there are some loose ends that will be tied up, with lots of possible angst.

Saturday, July 1, 2006 3:30 PM

ALLIETHORN7


Okay, take it back: you are not evil. But I still say that Keller and Gabriel should die. Slowly. And Painfully.

-Danny

Sunday, July 2, 2006 4:59 AM

BLACKBEANIE


There is a God and his/her name is TamSibling! If I could I would give this chapter a 20!

Sunday, July 2, 2006 4:59 AM

BLACKBEANIE


Oh wait, I can!

Saturday, July 8, 2006 10:09 AM

GRIMLOCK


What's that old Japanese adage? Children and drunks can do no wrong? Speaking of children... We have one sick boy, whom I'm guessing needs some fancy treatments.

And we have Ellie, who shows no fear of Zoe. I'M afraid of Zoe! Well maybe "afraid" is a strong word...

Monday, July 10, 2006 6:41 AM

WINTERHART


Aah no fair, happy chapters making me cry!

You're amazing, this story needs to go on, I don't think I can stand the loose ends! :)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 8:35 PM

JONDESU


You have the amazing ability to keep me up far too late into the night. I'll get less than 4 hours sleep tonight because I can't stop reading, but I can't even bring myself to be mad at you for it. Incredible writing.

Monday, November 6, 2006 5:04 PM

LAOSHI


Thank you! Simon was in danger of turning into Angel there brood, brood, brood. I loved how he was all jealous of her to begin with.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 12:19 PM

ANNUETTE


I'd better comment here since the net will actually allow me rather than having to d/l. Just read up to hear over the last day. Evil plain evil, writing something that's got me so hooked i couldn't put it down till gone 1am lol.

Really enjoying this series, just wishing it was somewhere as a central documents cos i can't read so well-net constraints but ill be giving feedback whenever i get back on and have read a chunk. Have to say you have very good writing, really gripping and the characters are so true to themselves. Mainly avoided the Simon/Kaylee pairing because wasn't sure about it being done justice but you've got me wanting to read it more. Wanting to beat ten tons over Simon's parents though, just hoping they get theirs.

Thanks for a lovely read! *hugs*

Monday, September 26, 2011 12:00 AM

SHINYZOEKAYLEE


Aaaaa this got me teary eyed! And that's darn hard to do! Best. Chapter.


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