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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Post-BDM. Gabriel and Regan Tam have arrived and Simon is not pleased. Simon/Kaylee, Mal/Inara
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1362 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
A/N: This is a long one folks ... sit back and enjoy!
Thanks so much for all the fabulous feedback. I'm psyched that the arrival of Mommy and Daddy Tam was met with such excitement ... I hope this lives up!
Thanks again to Leiasky for the beta!
Best Intentions, ch. 14
“What are you doing here?” Simon’s blue eyes were cold and hard as his jaw set and his arms crossed over his chest defensively. Without even realizing it, he took a slight step forward, positioning himself between his parents and his sister protectively.
His mother, Regan, her face moments ago reflecting a renewed hope, looked to him with unparalleled sadness as she moved towards him, reaching to put a hand to his cheek. Simon jerked away and her face fell. “Simon, sweetheart. We haven’t seen you for over two years and that’s all you can say?” Her tone was light, her only way to try and conceal the immense hurt she felt at such a sharp reaction from her baby boy.
His gaze never wavering, Simon bit out, “I’m perfectly aware of how long it’s been, mother.” Shifting his eyes to his father, he asked, “And I have to wonder what prompted your visit now, after all this time? And how you found us?”
As neither parent appeared willing to share this information, Simon felt his gut churn uncomfortably. He had thought the days of the Alliance tracking him and River were over, but maybe not; maybe it had been a ruse, to make them comfortable, to trap them and his parents had willingly agreed to help capture their own children. He could think of no other explanation.
But River knew differently. Resting a light hand to his arm, she got his attention and in an instant Simon panicked again, fearing she had brought this down on them. Frowning at him, she said, “I didn’t tell them where we were.” When Simon stared at her with disbelief, she shrugged and said simply, “Money talks.”
Releasing a sigh of frustration, Simon closed his eyes, his chin dropping to his chest. “Of course,” he muttered under his breath, cursing himself. “How could I have been so stupid?” Raising fiery eyes to his father again, he asked harshly, “Did you come to get it back? To accuse me of stealing from the family fortune?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Gabriel told him, speaking for the first time. Despite his own conflicted feelings at seeing his children again, his tone was firm and commanding. “I’m actually glad you’re accessing those accounts again. I hated to think of you and River living with nothing.”
“Yes, well the Alliance didn’t seem to have the same concern,” Simon told him sharply. “But after the warrants were lifted, they became a bit more – lax.”
The family held each other’s eyes for a moment, none of them comfortable. Simon still couldn’t believe his idiocy; he had realized shortly after Kaylee had been readmitted to the hospital that with the warrants for his arrest rescinded, his bank accounts on Osiris might once again be available to him. And when he’d realized he was right, he’d felt an immense sense of relief – he should have known it was too good to be true.
Still fuming, Simon glared at them, angry that his parents had once again barged into his life uninvited. And deep down, he was scared. Scared that they would take something away, take his life away, a life he had just started to feel comfortable in. Of course, he was a grown man now and he would fight them tooth and nail if they even tried.
“Don’t want to hurt us,” River said softly, her hand still against his arm. Looking into her brown eyes, Simon marveled at how transparent they were, how they told him she spoke with honesty. “Just want to know us again. Love us.”
Simon actually chuckled at the thought and would have leveled a scathing retort at his pitiful excuse for parents, if he hadn’t heard a sweet voice call, “Simon?”
Turning towards the entry to the living room, Simon met Kaylee and Inara there, the Companion supporting her friend who still had a difficult time moving about on her own. Nodding his thanks to the woman, Inara moved back towards the living room, where Mal, Zoe and Jayne had also wandered in, wondering what had happened to the siblings.
As Kaylee smiled up at him, Simon couldn’t help but return the grin; it was infectious after all. Leaning her hands on his arms to steady herself, she asked tiredly, “What’s goin’ on? I thought I heard voices.” Before Simon could even attempt to explain, Kaylee poked her head around his side and saw the two proper-looking people standing hesitantly in her home. With a bright grin, she said, “Oh. Hi there.”
Looking back to Simon, she lowered her voice and asked, “Who are they?”
Knowing that delaying the inevitable would not soften the blow, Simon took her hand and wrapped it through his arm, guiding her towards where his mother and father were standing.
“Kaylee, these are my parents, Regan and Gabriel Tam.” As Kaylee’s eyes widened in shock and her hand flew to her mouth to cover her gasp, Simon finished the introductions. “Mother, Father, this is Kaywinnet Lee Frye. My fiancée,” he added, taking a moment to press a kiss to Kaylee’s temple as she extended an eager hand to them.
“Well, it sure is a pleasure to meet ya,” she told them brightly, getting smiles from both Regan and Gabriel. “An’ you can call me Kaylee.” Turning to him with her lips pressed tightly together, she murmured, “Did you know they was comin’?”
“No, bao bei,” he told her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “Trust me, I had no idea.”
“Oh, well, then it’s a grand surprise,” Kaylee said, her voice again at its normal volume. Motioning them inside, she said, “Ya’ll don’t hafta stand out there. We was just havin’ a bit of a party.” As she moved back into the living room, she continued to chatter away. “You want somethin’ to drink? We got some mighty fine wine. Or somethin’ to eat?” she questioned, pausing to turn back to them. “We still got some – whoa.”
Leaning heavily against Simon, Kaylee closed her eyes for a moment as a wave of dizziness washed over her. Apparently, the wine, the excitement and all that bustling had been a bit too much. Simon’s arms had fallen around her protectively and she took a few deep breaths before turning her large green eyes up to his face. “Oops.”
“You need to lay down, Kaylee,” he told her, dropping his voice and speaking to her as if she was the only person in the room. His parents could stew for a few more minutes. “You need your rest.”
“I can’t be rude,” she whispered fiercely, taking the moment to flash another brilliant grin at the Tams, before looking back to Simon. “They are your folks, an’ all.”
Smiling at her, Simon said, “You’re not being rude, Kaylee. You’re recovering.” Holding her close, he placed a kiss to her cheek and then whispered in her ear, “I want you to get better. I want you to be healthy again.”
Placing the lightest kiss to the one place on his neck she knew would make him shiver, Kaylee pulled back and wriggled her eyebrows suggestively, murmuring, “I know what you want.”
Simon actually laughed out loud at her eagerness and the truth to her statement and said, “All right, now, I think you have had too much to drink.” Knowing she needed to go to bed and wanting to help her, Simon glanced hesitantly around the room. Catching Inara and Mal’s eyes, he motioned them over with a cock of the head and as the couple approached him, he dropped his voice to a low whisper. “I’m going to help Kaylee get to bed.” Casting his eyes over their shoulders to his parents, he asked his friends, “Can you just – keep an eye on them?”
As Mal nodded curtly, Inara smiled sadly, knowing how hard and confusing this must all be for the young doctor. “Of course, Simon. You take your time. We’ll be sure to keep them entertained.”
Finding himself slightly amused by the thought of Jayne entertaining his parents, Simon turned back to Kaylee who had almost fallen asleep standing up and picked her up in his arms easily. She rocked back into his chest with a contented sigh, her arms worming their way around his neck and locking firmly.
Pressing a kiss to her hair, Simon strode from the room, not bothering to explain his actions to his parents, and fully aware that his behavior could be construed as rude.
Entering their dimly lit bedroom, Simon gently laid Kaylee on the bed, getting her nightgown on her expertly as she continued to doze on and off. Smiling sweetly to him as he tucked her in, she said lazily, “They seem nice.”
“My parents?” Simon asked skeptically, sitting beside her and running a hand through her hair. “Why don’t we see how you feel about them when you’re not tipsy?”
She giggled slightly at his remark and Simon felt some of the tension his parents’ sudden arrival had caused ease. When he’d first shipped out on Serenity, the sting of their betrayal had been harsh and biting and Simon had clung to that wound for a long time, needing the reminder of it to stay strong for his sister. It acted as a beacon for him, a cold and harsh remembrance of the fact that they literally could not go home again. But as Simon gazed at Kaylee’s rosy cheeks and her beautiful face, he slowly began to feel better, lighter. She was his home now and he didn’t need them; so why did their arrival make him want to claw his eyes out?
Shaking the thought away, Simon leaned down and brushed a kiss to her lips. “Sleep tight, bao bei,” he murmured. “I’ll be back in a bit.”
She could only mumble something incoherent before she was asleep and Simon pressed another kiss to her forehead, before he rose and straightened his vest, resolving to get to the bottom of why his parents were suddenly here.
Once Simon and Kaylee were out of sight, the room again descended into silence. The older adults shifted uncomfortably for a moment under the curious gazes of the rest of the crew and then finally, Regan turned to River and said, “We didn’t mean to interrupt your evening.”
“We were having a party,” River told her, looking out to the patio and remembering with fondness the fun they’d been having. “For Simon and Kaylee’s engagement.” Turning those happy eyes to Mal, she said proudly, “Captain Daddy even made a speech.”
Regan and Gabriel sharing a curious gaze, it was her father who questioned, “Captain who?”
Frowning at him, River told him playfully, “Not my real daddy, not you.” Reaching out she grabbed for each of their hands and pulled them towards the rest of the crew. “You should meet them, they’re our new family.”
Still puzzled, the parents allowed their daughter to bring them face to face with this very interesting and varied bunch of misfits. “This is the captain,” she said, motioning to Mal, who stepped forward with an outstretched hand. “Malcolm Reynolds, ma’am,” he said quietly. “Sir.”
Regan and Gabriel both shook his hand and then turned, as River said, “And this is Zoe Washburn, the first mate and Jayne Cobb, the mercenary.”
Zoe smiled slightly at them, extending a hand while Jayne stood back a bit and just regarded them with one of his classic ape-man expressions. Gabriel’s eyes had widened slightly at the term “mercenary” giving Jayne a clear understanding of where exactly the doc got his squeamishness from. As Zoe straightened back at his side, Jayne asked, “So, you’re really the doc’s folks, huh?”
Gabriel nodded once and Jayne’s face broke into a wide grin. Popping Zoe on the shoulder, he said jovially, “Finally, this evening’s gonna get interestin’.”
When Zoe punched him back, harder and sharper, the older man grabbed at his now throbbing arm, and River could only roll her eyes. “And this is Inara Serra. She’s a Companion. And Mal’s girlfriend.”
As Inara extended a manicured hand to them coupled with her most endearing of smiles, both Gabriel and Regan instantly relaxed. Studying the captain and then Inara, Regan said carefully, “Well, I don’t know if I’ve ever met a Companion in a committed relationship before.”
Inara blushed slightly, glancing to Mal whose chest had just puffed out about ten feet. God, he could be pompous. Looking back to the older woman, Inara confided, “Yes, well, it can make things a bit complicated.”
Leaning towards her, Regan said softly, “The best things often are, my dear.”
Smiling to her, Inara watched as Regan’s eyes darted towards the hallway where her son had disappeared a few minutes before. “That girl,” Regan began, her eyes clouded with confusion.
Placing a hand to her arm, Inara stopped her. She would not let Simon’s mother malign her friend. “Kaylee, Simon’s fiancée,” she provided, making it clear that Regan should show the young woman some respect.
“Yes, of course, Kaylee,” Regan said, smiling. “Is she going to be all right?”
Nodding once, Inara reassured her, “Yes, she’s going to be fine. She’s just recovering from brain surgery.” As the older woman’s eyes widened at the news, Inara explained, “She was in a hovercar accident about a month ago.” Her own eyes unfocusing for a moment as she thought back to those tense days, she added quietly, “It was touch and go for a while though. Simon almost lost her.”
While Regan had just met the young woman, her eyes welled with tears at this admission. Based on Simon’s behavior and the fact that he’d asked her to marry him, it was clear to Regan that her son cared a great deal for Kaylee. She could only imagine the pain he’d suffered fearing she might die. How much had her children had to endure?
There was another uncomfortable silence and then finally Zoe, grabbing Jayne roughly by the elbow, said, “Well, I think it’s time for us to be goin’.”
Even as Jayne grumbled, she shoved him towards the door and then looked back to River, “Please say good night to your brother and Kaylee for us. Dong ma?”
River smiled wide as the two crewmen left, the door closing behind them, just as Simon reemerged, his features again harsh and cold.
Another tense silence. Mal, reading the anger rolling off of Simon’s anxious form, casually moved to River’s side and took her by the elbow, giving Inara a look as well. “What’d ya say you point out some o’ them fancy constellations to me, lil’ albatross?” he asked, as he guided her towards the terrace, figuring Simon could use some time alone with his folks. “You’re always braggin’ ‘bout how you know ‘em all anyways.”
River smiled brightly to him, more than happy to go along with his distraction; Simon did need time alone with their parents. Looking back to her brother, she told him seriously, “Play nice,” before she was outside with the couple and the three of them were alone.
Staring for another minute, Simon finally sighed heavily and asked begrudingly, “Would you like to sit?”
Regan and Gabriel moved to matching chairs, side by side across the room, while Simon situated himself on the arm of the couch. He would not get comfortable, he would not let his guard down; not again. Still staring at one another, Simon watched his father fidget, smiling tightly. It was a tell, one Simon had noticed in his father from a very young age; the elder Tam was not often nervous, but if he was, he’d fidget.
His mother on the other hand sat still, her back straight as a board, her eyes clear and focused on her son. She’d folded her hands in her lap and waited expectantly, like a good noble woman of her breeding. It almost made Simon sick.
As the minutes passed, he finally asked, “Why are you here?”
“We wanted to see you, Simon,” Regan answered quickly, hoping she could convince him of their pure intentions. “When we realized where you were, we had to come.”
“Oh, you had too?” Simon asked. His voice was full of sarcasm and anger and hurt and his mind whirled with conflict. Part of him wanted to hug his mother and father fiercely, confessing how much he had missed them; part of him wanted to lash out and strike at them, hurt them as he and River had been hurt; and part of him wanted to accuse, to demand an explanation for their behavior, which he found unforgivable. Unable to decide on which path to take, he questioned, “Why did you have to come? To drag us back home?”
“Simon.” His father’s voice was sharp and Simon’s eyes immediately snapped to the man’s face. He remembered that tone; it was the one his father had always used when he was a boy, when he was to be scolded. As he noted his son’s eyes resting on him, Gabriel softened his tone and said quietly, “I realize that we are not on the best of terms with one another, but do you think you could try and be civil?”
His cheeks flushing, Simon dropped his gaze for a moment to compose himself. The older man had a point, but Simon had more than that, he had unbridled anger and it was a heady propellant for his behavior. “I think that considering all we’ve been through, I’m showing you more than the respect you deserve.”
Gabriel’s face blanched at that and he sat back heavily in his chair. Regan kept her eyes on her son and then asked quietly, “Simon, what happened?” Her tone was plaintive, curious and Simon found it laughable.
“What happened?” he repeated incredulously. Rising he paced away from them, walking up and down behind the couch, trying to release some of his tension with the movement. “What, you don’t remember?”
Pausing for a moment, he turned a mocking gaze to them and said, “Let’s see. River was being tortured at a government run facility. A fact I told you about and you ignored. Then, when I tried to get her out, you both disowned me, shutting me out of your lives. And then, once I again had River safe, you did nothing to help us as we were hunted and chased like animals from one end of the ‘verse to the other.” Darting his angry eyes between both parents, he asked sarcastically, “Ring a bell?”
Regan, who had valiantly been trying not to cry, felt a few tears fall down her cheeks and she wiped at them quickly. Her son, her handsome, intelligent and caring Simon, was so angry at them, so hurt. She could see it, could see the way his heart was broken over something she and his father had done unwittingly. Regan had wanted to believe that once she saw her children again, all would be forgiven, their time apart having healed the rift between them. But she saw now that rift had not been closing, it was simply widening into a chasm.
Turning her now watery eyes to him, she breathed, “Simon, dear, we didn’t know.”
“I told you,” he said, leaning forward, his hands gripping the back of the couch so tightly his knuckles turned white. His voice dripping with venom, he continued, “I told you. I showed you the letters, I begged you to help her. And you turned your back on us both.” Straightening back to his full height, he said coldly, “You didn’t want to know, mother. There’s a difference.”
“So, we’re not allowed to make a mistake?” Gabriel questioned. His hands were steepled in front of his face, his eyes emotionless. “We’re not allowed to be fallible, Simon? Not everyone is as perfect as you.”
“Don’t even turn this into some pissing contest, father,” Simon bit out, knowing his language would offend him and not caring. “This isn’t about who’s the better man or the smarter man, it’s about and has always been about, River. What was best for her. Your daughter, by the way.”
“Don’t speak for me, Simon.” River’s quiet and commanding voice sounded across the room, and all three sets of eyes flashed in her direction. She was standing in the open doorway, her small, lithe frame silhouetted by the lights of the surrounding city. Her hair blew about her face gently in the evening breeze and as she strode into the room, on dancer’s feet, it was Simon she addressed. “Don’t yell for me. I’m not angry.”
As if to prove her point, River turned and walked towards her parents, sitting on the arm of her mother’s chair and resting a gentle hand to the woman’s back. Leaning over and resting her head against Regan’s soft hair, River looked back to her brother and said, “They’re sorry.”
Mal stood uncomfortably in the doorway, watching the family reunion play out before him. He didn’t like this entire scenario, but he suspected that was mostly because he was witnessing it; in general, Mal did not like drama. Taking Inara’s hand quickly, he released a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. As they offered a hasty goodbye, they were to the lift when she asked, “How do you think it’s going to go?”
“’Member Miranda?” Mal asked as he guided her into the lift. As she nodded, he jabbed at the button for their floor and muttered, “It’ll be worse.”
Back inside, it was getting worse. Simon would not budge, not on this. He could still remember his shame the day his father had unequivocally told him he was no son of Gabriel Tam’s. He still remembered his intense disappointment when his mother had called him paranoid. He wouldn’t apologize either; it was his brashness and paranoia that had gotten River out of that place. It didn’t matter what his parents said; Simon knew he would never consider that a mistake.
And he was tired, in no mood to deal with any of this; he’d been having the perfect evening, celebrating his love for Kaylee and her rapidly improving health. Why had it had to end? And like this?
With a sigh, Simon told them, “I’m not really sure what you want me to say.” As Regan looked back to him, he continued. “And I know for certain nothing is going to be resolved tonight.” Studying his father he said, “It’s been a big day and I would really like to turn in.”
Nodding once, both Gabriel and Regan stood at the dismissal, knowing better than to overstay their welcome. Moving towards the door, River went with them, her hand in Regan’s. Kissing both of her parents on the cheek, she stepped back to Simon’s side as they turned to go and he instantly wrapped an arm around her shoulders; she wasn’t going anywhere.
“We will be staying on Sihnon for a few weeks, son,” Regan told him, her tears having dried. “We would like to try and make this right.”
Not giving anything away, Simon told her quietly, “We’ll see.”
Frowning to her brother, River looked back to her mother and said, “Call us tomorrow. We can have a picnic.”
Regan smiled warmly at her little girl and unable to resist, moved forward to place a kiss to her cheek. “It’s so good to see you, sweetheart,” she whispered, her hands cradling her face. Glancing to Simon, she added, “To see you both,” before turning back to her husband waiting in the doorway.
“Good night,” Gabriel said, placing his hand to the small of Regan’s back and guiding her out the door.
Once it was shut behind them, River stepped away from her brother, her anger evident. Waving a hand at her, Simon said tiredly, “I really don’t want to hear it, mei mei.”
She followed him as he moved back outside to clean up and stood haughtily in the doorway, blocking his entrance, his arms full of dishes. Frowning at her, he said, “Move, River.”
Cocking her head to the side in a look of pure defiance, she said sharply, “No.”
And that was it; the final straw. Dropping his arms to his sides quickly, the plates he held fell to the cement floor and shattered, making a horrible crashing sound. With his jaw clenched tight, Simon whirled away from her and stalked across the terrace, pausing at the railing. His shoulders heaving with emotion, he asked her in a controlled voice, “You honestly think I’m going to forgive them?”
With a sadness that was borne of her abilites, River said quietly, “No. I know you won’t.” As Simon turned to her with an incredulous gaze, she answered his unspoken question. “But I might and I don’t want you to hate me for it.”
Sighing as his anger dulled back into pain, Simon dropped his chin to his chest and said quietly, “Mei mei, I really wish you’d reconsider. They don’t deserve your forgiveness.” Glancing back to her, he said firmly, “They don’t deserve us.”
Moving to him, River placed a light hand to his cheek and said quietly, “I know you believe that, and I know why, but Simon, I know them, better than even they know themselves.” Simon knew that was true and let her continue. “They didn’t mean for those men to hurt me. But they didn’t know how to stop it. They were scared and worried and it paralyzed them.”
“Of course they were worried,” Simon spat, his anger again on the rise. He hadn’t been paralyzed, and he knew he’d been just as scared. “They were worried they’d lose all their precious friends and precious money. All of our fine things.” Turning back to his sister, he told her harshly, “That’s what they sold you out for River: a mansion and priceless works of art.”
Another heavy sigh escaped her lips and as River felt tears well in her eyes, she willed them away. There was a chance, a small glimmer of hope that Simon might, one day, move past this perceived betrayal. But until that small glimmer turned into a large radiance, she knew her words were only falling on deaf ears.
Going to him, she pressed a kiss to his cheek and said, “Don’t be mad. Be anything else, but not mad. Kaylee doesn’t deserve that.” And then she was gone, leaving Simon to feel more distraught and conflicted than only moments before.
And despite his assurance to Kaylee that he would come to bed soon, he spent most of the night sitting outside and staring at the stars and, for the first time in his life, yearning for the freedom of the black.
Kaylee awoke slowly, feeling the dim light shining through the curtains begin to warm her face and eyelids. Before she even opened her eyes, she rolled to her side, reaching for Simon and only getting cold sheets in the process. Waking the rest of the way, Kaylee blinked quickly and saw that not only was Simon not there, it looked as if he might not have come to bed at all, the sheets still smooth on that side of the bed.
Concerned and confused, Kaylee was about to go searching for him, when he entered the room, a smile on his handsome face. Kaylee relaxed visibly, sinking into her pillows and smiling wickedly at his handsome face. As he always, he had only slept in pajama bottoms and as he rounded the bed to hand her a cup of coffee, she allowed her eyes to linger on his well-muscled chest.
Trying to ignore the sultry look she had fixed him with, Simon moved to the side of the bed and sat beside her, taking her hand in his and kissing it. “Good morning,” he said softly.
“Mornin’,” she answered, leaning forward to place a peck to his lips as he offered her the steaming mug of coffee. Sitting back and cradling it in her hands, she watched him, noting his guarded expression even in her current state.
She had been asleep by the time he’d left the room the night before, but she had awoken a few times to find him not there. As he allowed his gaze to drift to the window, Kaylee reached out a hand, resting it against his, and getting his attention.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?” she asked him innocently, blinking her big green eyes to him.
Frowning slightly, Simon had hoped he’d be able to get away clean, have a bit more time to think about all that had happened before she confronted him on it; but he should have known that wasn’t going to happen.
Still, he could try. “What do you mean, Kaylee?” he asked, his tone also innocent as he brushed some hair back from her face.
Frowning harshly, she crossed her arms over her chest, and said, “How many times we gotta go through this, Simon Tam?” As he regarded her with a puzzled look, she restated, “Don’t lie t’me. I know somethin’s wrong, so how’s ‘bout you just come clean?” As Simon refused to budge, she said, “Or I could jus’ get River to tell me.” Simon’s eyes widening uncomfortably at the thought, she cocked an eyebrow at him playfully and told him, “She is a reader.”
“All right, there’s no need to play dirty,” Simon grumbled. With a heavy sigh, he rolled over her to his side of the bed and Kaylee shifted her position so she could face him. As he lay on his back, his hands resting on his bare abdomen, his eyes locked on the ceiling, she just watched him. She knew he would tell her, she’d made it plain he didn’t have much of a choice.
“I don’t want my parents here,” he said finally, his voice low. Not turning to look at her, he said softly, “I just don’t. I don’t want to see them, I don’t want to talk to them, I don’t want to know them.” With another heavy sigh, he finally rolled his head to meet her steady gaze. “That makes me a horrible person, doesn’t it?” He sighed again, looking back to the ceiling and rubbing his eyes tiredly. “Please don’t think any less of me.”
“Oh, sweetie,” Kaylee murmured, inching closer to him and resting her head on his shoulder. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her close and Kaylee nestled into his side. “You ain’t a bad person.” Simon smiled into her hair at her reassurance, as she added, “But maybe your folks bein’ here’s a good thing.”
“How?” Simon asked skeptically, hearing the negativity in his voice and hating it. River’s words from the night before still haunted him – “Be anything, but not mad. Kaylee doesn’t deserve that.” She was right, Kaylee didn’t. Kaylee didn’t deserve to be dragged down by his foul moods or his insane family life. Pulling her tighter at the thought, he listened as she explained.
“Look, I ain’t sayin’ I understand all you went through to get River out, an’ I ain’t sayin’ your folks was right to turn you away,” she told him, lifting her head to turn and look into his blue eyes. “But maybe they’re here ‘cause it’s time. It’s time for ya’ll to be a family again.”
Unable to swallow his immediate reaction, Simon snorted and said, “Right, a family.” Looking to her with clouded eyes, he told her softly, “We never were a family.”
As Kaylee’s eyes narrowed in confusion, Simon told her, “We were four people living in a house with almost twenty servants. River and I were cared for through nannies and butlers and maids. If we saw our parents twice a day, once in the morning and once at night, that was a treat.” Simon sighed again, remembering things he’d tried not to dwell on – namely, his childhood.
Removing his arm from around her, Simon sat up and faced away from her, not liking the fact that his anger was back or that he’d just gotten an inexplicable chill. “I never wanted to remember my parents like that,” he said softly. “I tried to remember them from those moments I got, the glimpses I had of them those two times a day.” Taking a deep breath, Simon allowed his head to drop into his hands and he rubbed his face harshly.
“It got better once River was born,” he continued. “I had someone else to be with. Of course, when she was a baby, she was pretty boring, but I tried to play with her and care for her. My nanny at the time; what was her name?” Simon let his mind wander, trying to remember. She’d been very nice and a bit older, and had taught Simon just about everything he could have ever wanted to know about caring for an infant. “That’s right, Pei-li, she said I was a natural.” Simon turned slightly and caught Kaylee’s concerned gaze out of the corner of his eye. “I was so proud, so happy to know that I could care for River; that I could make her happy and safe. It helped, when I was lonely or unhappy or feeling unsafe to know that I could do that for someone else. It made me feel protected somehow, untouchable.”
Kaylee watched him, her eyes widened with sadness and a bit of shock at all he was telling her. She had known his childhood, while filled with every toy and luxury known to man, had not necessarily been as charmed as some would believe. But she’d had no idea he’d been so unhappy, so lonely. And it made her heart hurt, made her want to love him more, protect him from those memories. But she knew that they were also a part of him, that pain and his upbringing had shaped him into the man she loved and trying to change that would just be unfair.
Inching closer, she sat up behind him and wrapped her arms around his chest, resting her chin on his shoulder. He reached up, lightly rubbing the arm that had fallen across his collarbone and Kaylee pressed herself tighter to him, wanting him to know she was here, that he wasn’t alone, not anymore; not ever again, if she could help it.
“They were much closer to me the older I got, especially after I went to MedAcad. My father was like a proud owner, showing off his favorite pet.” With a bit of disgust, Simon gestured at nothing as he mocked. “Here’s my son, the brilliant surgeon, top three percent in his class. He can also leap tall buildings in a single bound.” As Kaylee turned a quizzical look to him at that last, he smiled slightly and said, “I’ll explain it to you later.” She nodded once, and he continued. “So when I figured out what was happening to River,” he said, his voice rough from the emotions he was reliving. “I tried to convince them to help her. I did everything I could think of. I figured they’d listen to me. I mean, we actually talked back then, more than hello and goodbye. I thought they would trust me, believe me, help me and River. But …” His voice trailed off and he found he could not finish the thought.
He had hoped it would help, talking about it, but instead, Simon found his sadness increasing, threatening to overwhelm him, to swallow even that bright spot in his heart where Kaylee was and he couldn’t take it. Feeling the churn of bile in his gut, he rose abruptly and stalked across the room, crossing his arms over his bare chest as he stared out the window. He was trying, he really was, trying to get his emotions under control, but they were so varied and so intense, he only found each one more overpowering than the last.
His body tensed slightly at Kaylee’s voice and with a deep breath, he turned back to regard her. When he met her gaze, he saw her love there and it again warmed his heart, making the sadness recede, just a little. Reaching out a hand to him, she told him, “You need to keep talkin’.”
Shaking his head slowly, he did not approach her, but dropped his eyes to the floor. “There’s nothing more to say.”
Frowning at him, Kaylee wondered if Simon were really that stubborn or if he thought she was really that dense. Guessing by the idiocy with which he’d treated her during his first eight months on Serenity, she was going to have to go with the former. Watching him as he studied his feet, she finally questioned quietly, “What’d they say? When you tol’ ‘em about River?”
Simon inhaled sharply. He had never recounted this story to Kaylee; to anyone. River was probably the only other person who knew what had transpired that night and the nights in the following weeks as Simon had become more and more reckless in his quest to free her. “They didn’t help me,” he repeated, unwilling to relent.
“That ain’t what I asked,” Kaylee reminded him, her voice gentle, but insistent.
Nodding once, Simon walked back towards the bed and sat down facing her, his legs crossed in front of him. Resting his hands on his knees, he still didn’t meet her gaze as he told her, “They said I was paranoid. That talking about River being in trouble at the Academy could jeopardize my entire future. That maybe I was the one who couldn’t be separated from her, and I was imagining it all.”
It still stung. Simon had thought maybe it would be easier now, but he should have known, it was never going to get easier. “Oh, Simon,” Kaylee breathed, knowing how devastating those words must have been to him, especially coming from the two people in the ‘verse who were supposed to always support their children, no matter what.
Simon continued tonelessly, “It got worse. In the following weeks, I started to do things that were more and more dangerous.” Kaylee sat back, continuing to listen so she could understand. “Then, one night, I was arrested in a blackout zone.”
Simon glanced to Kaylee’s face quickly noting that her reaction was not as overt as he would have expected. “What’d your pa say to that?” she asked instead, her eyes still locked on his face. “I can’t imagine he was too thrilled.”
Smiling slightly, Simon told her, “No, he most certainly wasn’t. He came storming into the holding station, all bluster and ego and gave me an ultimatum.” Simon closed his eyes for a moment, trying to shut the memory out. Instead, it only came into sharper focus, the moment in the station burned into his brain. “He said I could stop trying to get to River or I could leave home.”
When he reopened his eyes to Kaylee, her mouth was agape and Simon guessed she hadn’t expected his story to take that turn. Leaning forward, she brushed a light hand through his hair, her touch helping to soothe him. “What’d ya do?” she questioned quietly, inching a bit closer to him.
“I went home with my father, packed a few of my things and I left,” he said, his voice low. “I haven’t been home since.”
Kaylee watched Simon struggle to come to terms with these memories and her heart went out to him. She had known that his parents had been less than supportive when he’d first confronted them about River, but she had never suspected they could be so cold.
Having dropped his eyes to his lap, Simon didn’t notice as Kaylee edged closer to him until she’d cradled his face in her hands. Lifting it up to meet her gaze, she said softly, “You are so brave an’ strong. I don’t know if I’ve ever tol’ ya that, but I’m thinkin’ I shoulda before now.” She then leaned forward and kissed his cheeks and forehead before placing a kiss to his mouth.
When they’d parted, he said to her quietly, “It wasn’t bravery, Kaylee. It was necessity. I had to get River out of the Academy. I had to save her.” His eyes searched her face, looking for her approval, her understanding and with a sigh of relief, he found it there.
“Of course, my father saw it as anything but,” he muttered bitterly, still angry at the man after all this time. “He couldn’t handle the fact that I had finally begun to think for myself. He thought I was dangerous, a threat to him and my mother and all they had worked for.” Looking back to Kaylee with angry eyes, he said, “That’s what they were concerned about Kaylee: their things, their money, their life. They didn’t care about River at all.”
His chest heaved with anger and Kaylee let him fume for a moment. She didn’t truly believe that Simon’s parents had wittingly sold out their daughter for a nice house. She’d never known such selfish people. But she knew Simon did and she also knew that trying to convince him otherwise might be a lost cause; but she was going to try.
“So, I’m guessin’ that once I went to bed last night, things didn’t go so well?” she questioned lightly, trying to bring at least the ghost of a smile to his lips.
Shaking his head, he said softly, “No, it didn’t.” Pausing for a moment, Simon thought of his sister, of her reaction to seeing their parents unexpectedly and it caused another wave of anger to wash through him. “At least not for my parents and I, but River …” He stopped, uncertain of how to go on. He couldn’t handle the fact that his mei mei was going to forgive them.
“She was happy,” he finally said. “She’s glad they’re here. She wants to know them, wants them to know her.”
Reaching up a hand to his cheek, Kaylee asked, “Is that such a bad thing?”
With a suddenness she hadn’t expected, Simon brought his eyes to hers and bit out, “Yes.”
Shocked, Kaylee murmured, “Why?”
“Because she can’t trust them again,” he whispered, surprised when the words came out. “It’s not safe.”
Frowning slightly at him, Kaylee said, “Simon, River’s her own person. Don’t you think she’s gotta right to make that decision for herself?”
“No,” he said frankly, regarding her with lifeless eyes. “No, she doesn’t. She can make a decision about just about anything else, but this? No.”
Not deterred by his stubbornness, Kaylee kept pushing, knowing that he had almost said his peace, but knowing he would not go the rest of the way willingly. “An’ why is that? What makes you think you know what’s best for her?”
“Because I saved her,” he shouted, surprising her and himself. Rising swiftly, he again paced the room, his hands clenching and unclenching at his sides. “She should trust me,” he said hotly, pausing and jerking a thumb to his chest. “Me, not them. If it’d been up to them she might still be in that place. She could be dead!”
Rising slowly, Kaylee came to stand in front of him, and said, “Simon, if River forgives them it don’t mean she ain’t grateful for what you did for her. You know that, right?”
Did he? Simon wasn’t so sure. More than the shock he felt at seeing his parents, more than the anger he felt for their treatment of him, what he felt the clearest was an overwhelming sense of betrayal – from the one person he’d thought he’d always be able to trust. He’d saved River from a fate worse than death; he’d acted when no one else had; he’d held her through her nightmares; he’d given up everything he was for her; he’d watched her level a room full of Reavers; he had, Simon, and yet she was willing to disregard all of it by allowing their parents back into her life. Two people who hadn’t done any of those things. Never would have done those things, simply for love.
“They can’t be trusted,” he finally murmured, unwilling to meet Kaylee’s imploring gaze. “They don’t deserve to have their daughter back, not when they didn’t do anything to save her.” Bringing his eyes back to Kaylee’s face, he asked quietly, “Why can’t she see that?”
“Oh sweetie,” Kaylee whispered, reaching up and wrapping her arms around him. Simon returned her embrace, burying his head in her soft hair, and letting out a huge sigh. As Kaylee ran her fingers through his hair, she said quietly, “Maybe she will, maybe she’ll figure it out, all on her own, that your folks ain’t to be trusted. But Simon,” she said, pulling back from him to again study his conflicted features. “Maybe you need to give ‘em another chance. Maybe you need to let them try and make it right.”
With a heavy sigh and a sinking feeling in his gut, Simon knew she was right. It had been unfair to treat them so harshly the night before, but his anger and his shame at their dismissal still colored his reactions and he honestly didn’t know if the day would come when it didn’t. “I don’t know if I can,” he whispered.
Placing a hand under his chin and bringing his eyes to her face, she smiled and asked, “Can you try? For me? I figure I gotta know my in-laws, even if it’s only enough to know I don’t like ‘em.”
Simon smiled back at her, thankful that she was here with him. Leaning down, he brought his lips to hers and kissed her, slowly and passionately. Kaylee returned his touch, leaning into him and again winding her arms around him to pull him close. When they parted, panting slightly, Simon asked breathlessly, “What did I ever do without you?”
“Oh, suffered in silence, I’m sure,” she murmured back, her hand running down his cheek.
Grinning at her, that swai grin she loved so, he took the hand and kissed it and then said, “Maybe I can try. Just once.”
Smiling widely at him, Kaylee leaned in to kiss him again, and whispered, “That’s what I was hopin’ you’d say.”
TBC - It might take a few extra days to get the next chapter up ... sit tight!
Monday, November 27, 2006 5:27 PM
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