Broken Wings: Chapter 4 (Repost)
Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fist meets face as Jayne sets Simon straight on a few things. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.


Chapter 4

The two men were silent as the land-bound mule rolled across the country side, each lost in their own thoughts. Simon winced as his still healing body bounced in the uncomfortable seat and he shot an annoyed look at Jayne, who he figured was driving this way on purpose.

He noticed Jayne look at him out of the corner of his eye before muttering,” Didn’t make the roads.” The expression on his face was anything but apologetic.

Simon didn’t even bother to keep the snark out of his tone. “You could drive on them.” He looked away when Jayne didn’t respond.

Minutes of relieving silence passed, and Simon was already lost in his own thoughts when Jayne’s annoying voice intruded. “You got responsibilities now.”

Simon’s eyes narrowed and he pursed his lips, snorting indignantly as he exhaled through his nose. Jayne was the last person to be counseling him on responsibility. “You wouldn’t know anything about –“

“That’s lil’ Kaylee’s kid Inara been carin’ for. Your kid. Ain’t right for you to be ignorin’ –”

Simon clenched his jaw. “I’m not talking about this with you.” He’d had more than enough time to think about his responsibilities, he didn’t need Jayne to point them all out.

“Gotta talk about it with someone. An’ seein’ as I’m sittin’ right here an’ we got a long way to go, guess you’re gonna have to listen.”

“I have my sister to talk with. She’s my family.” The implication that Simon didn’t consider Jayne family was not lost on the big man. “Kindly keep your opinions to yourself until we get to wherever you’re taking me.”

“Could just snap your neck and dump you in the woods, instead,” came the quick retort. “No one’d ever find yer body.”

Simon had long ago stopped flinching beneath Jayne’s threats, but he also knew he would never be able to hold his own against the larger man. “And my sister would respond in kind.”

Jayne grunted and Simon couldn’t help but feel even more disgusted than usual at the sound. “Fight your own battles, little man. Don’t ask baby sis to fight ‘em for ya.”

If he’d been a dragon of old earth-that-was lore, fire would have erupted from Simon’s nostrils. “Stop. Right now. I’m getting out,” he hissed. He wasn’t going to talk to anyone, much less Jayne, about – well anything. Remembering Kaylee’s bright eyes and cheerful disposition made Simon hurt more than any physical injury ever could. Not for the first time did he wish the ship had taken him instead of Kaylee.

The mule stopped and Simon leaped out, wincing as his ribs twisted uncomfortably. He walked in the opposite direction, limping badly on his still healing leg.

“Should just leave ya!” Jayne growled behind him.

“I’m not stopping you,” Simon answered, walking faster as he felt Jayne trudging toward him.

“I loved her like everybody else!”

Simon whirled on unsteady legs and met Jayne’s eyes. He could see the truth of those words and it startled him speechless. He didn’t even have the energy to look disgusted.

His voice was softer now, but still hard. “Ain’t right she chose you.”

Simon bit back the bile rising in his throat and said simply. “That may be the one and only thing we ever agree on.”

“You gotta do right by Kaylee’s boy.”

Simon’s gaze hardened. He’d tolerated this conversation for as long as he intended. Taking parenting advice from Jayne Cobb was the last thing Simon Tam ever intended to do. “That your oversized ape-ish brain thinks it knows what I should or shouldn’t do is a wonder. “

The fist Jayne swung at Simon’s face connected so quickly even at his best Simon would not have been able to avoid it. He landed on his backside with a painful thud and stared up at Jayne, dumbstruck by the big ape’s audacity.

“This ain’t about me not likin’ you, or you not likin’ me. It’s about that boy. He don’t deserve none a this. But his ma’s gone and now he’s stuck with just you.” Jayne’s disapproving gaze was unmistakable. “Ain’t none of it fair. But – that’s life. An’ we’re gonna make the best of it for that kid.”

Simon pushed himself to his feet, incensed. It had been building for a long time, this anger, and trapped in a hospital bed, Simon’d had no outlet. Jayne’s face, Simon quickly deduced, would make a large, ugly one. But regardless of how lost he felt without Kaylee to stabilize him, he refused to let Jayne tell him what to do. “We, aren’t going to do anything. He’s my responsibility.”

Jayne stepped back, unclenched his fists and walked away. “An’ it only took you a week to admit it.”

Simon huffed, shocked that Jayne backed away from a fair fight. One that Simon desperately needed. “I hardly think you have the qualifications to council me on –“

Jayne whirled on Simon, cutting his stride short. “We was friends. Kaylee an’ me. An’ that kid. He’s innocent. Just like lil’ pint.”

Simon recoiled as if he’d been hit again. He couldn’t think about Madeline right now; there was only so much heartache he could take. But even the mention of her name forced even more regret to invade his already guilty conscious; He’d refused to see her at the hospital and had left her to Inara’s care – just like his son.

He was a fish out of water in this place – in the Black, outside of the stark cleanliness of a medical ward, or the neat, opulent home he’d grown up in. It had taken a year, but Kaylee had helped him to adjust, get used to living on the run. Now that she was gone, the strongest connection to this new life was gone, and he felt himself spiraling out of control. He needed to find something to steady him. Maybe it had been there all along and he just hadn’t seen it. His son would be a constant reminder of what he’d lost, but the boy would also be a reminder of what he’d gained – if even for a short time.

Simon suddenly knew how badly he’d handled everything that had happened, and felt ashamed. He stared at Jayne, annoyed that it had taken a painful punch from the big man to make him see that a solution to his grief had been right in front of his eyes the entire time.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

“Jayne better not have killed ‘em,” Mal said to the wind. He could sense Zoe behind him but didn’t bother to turn around. She’d speak up when she felt the need. He gripped the wood railing and continued to stare down the road, expecting the mule to come into view at any time.

“Jayne ain’t that dumb.”

“Rough him up a bit then?” The hopeful look on Mal’s face made Zoe chuckle.

“Doc’s already hurt enough. Don’t need to add to it.”

Mal glanced back, unable to see inside the house, but it was a clear indicator to Zoe all the same. “Ain’t no one that ain’t hurt here, Zoe.”

“Give him some time.”

“He’s had a week.”

“Been recoverin’ from wounds for that week.”

Mal didn’t like the direction this conversation was heading. “Plenty of time to think.”

“I know what he’s going through.” The voice was soft, low, and Mal’s head whipped around to take in Zoe’s face, the sadness in her eyes. He felt like a heel, guilty – for more than he could even begin to admit, truth be told. He’d forgotten. With all of his self-righteous pain and anger directed at Simon, he’d forgotten how Zoe’d lost Wash. She’d struggled with that pain alone, pushing everyone away – including him. She’d kept on with her duties… But that didn’t excuse Simon’s behavior. He had a son. Zoe had not been so blessed – or cursed. “Give him some time.” “He’s had enough time.” The annoyance was clear in Mal’s tone. “You push him and he may snap.” “Better than the nothin’ we been gettin’ so far.” “Everyone deals with grief in their own way.” Zoe’s voice was quiet, reflective. “Not used to anyone caring so much.” The two turned at the sad sound of River’s voice. “Never been part of a family – a real, true family. He doesn’t know what to do. He’s lost.” River lifted her eyes to Mal’s. “Lost in the woods.” She walked to the railing, curled her fingers around the rough-hewn wood. “He doesn’t like it there.” Mal’s gaze softened instantly. Over the last months, River had slipped into a special place in his heart. He was surprised to learn that he loved her – every bit as much as he loved Kaylee. And as such felt an overwhelming desire to protect her. He stepped forward to embrace the girl, but River tensed, and he stopped his advance. River eyes pierced his deliberately hardened heart. “You don’t really like it there either. But it’s safer. Can’t get hurt as badly.” Mal was instantly defensive. “Ain’t about me, Albatross.” “Not right now.” She looked around his shoulder to see the mule approaching from a great distance. Mal’s gaze followed and he inhaled deeply. “Help him – please.” River pleaded with Mal. She took his hands and squeezed them. “He needs you.” She closed her eyes and when she opened them, they were wet with un-fallen tears. “We all do.” “Ain’t sure there’s much I can do.” Mal wasn’t sure he wanted to do anything but hit something – or someone. River offered him a sad smile. “You’ll find a way.”

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

When he finally hobbled up onto the porch, Simon hugged his sister tightly, sinking into her welcome embrace with a heavy sigh. He hadn’t seen her at all during his stay in the hospital, though Inara brought him messages, handwritten notes and drawings, to try and help his increasingly melancholy mood.

River stepped away and prodded him toward the door. He knew what waited for him there. More guilt. More regret. And probably more than one angry word. “Go. They’re waiting for you.” Simon nodded, unable to completely mask his fear. He knew it wouldn’t do any good. His sister could feel it anyway. She briefly touched his bruising cheek before turning away, forcing Simon to make the long journey inside alone. After he’d gone, River glared at Jayne. “You didn’t have to hit him.” The big man shrugged. “Seemed like the thing to do.” Mal stared incredulously at the mercenary. “You hit him?” “Had it comin’.” Mal was torn between annoyance and pride. “It’s my job to hit him, Jayne.” He pointed at his chest. Jayne ascended the steps and shrugged again. “You can do it next time.” “Won’t be a next time,” River said, hugging the big mercenary. “He knows what he has to do now.”

Jayne patted her slim shoulders, clearly uncomfortable, and looked around. “Where’s lil’ pint?” River smiled at the endearment. “Out playing with some of the local boys in the back yard.” Both men visibly bristled at this new information.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Inara made no move to stand when Simon approached. His entire stance was one of nervous apprehension but Inara didn’t want to make this easy for him. He’d rejected his own son, only seeing the boy once since he’d been in the hospital, and somewhere in the back of her mind she wanted to punish him for that.

But another part of her, the part that grieved for their lost friend, understood. And as she watched the myriad of expressions and uncertainty that crossed Simon’s face now, she couldn’t, in good conscious, lash out. Everyone grieved differently.

Inara settled the boy into her arms. “He’s missed you.” It sounded lame even to her own ears but she needed to say something. She knew too much of Simon’s history with Kaylee to think he would be the one to speak first – or even well.

“He doesn’t even know me.”

“Whose fault is that?” Inara winced at the instant retort. She’d vowed not to do this. “I’m sorry. That wasn’t fair.”

“It was fair. You’re right.” He took a step closer, his eyes falling to the bundle wrapped in her arms.

“He needs his father.”

It was clear Simon didn’t know what to say. If this hadn’t been such an important moment, Inara would have laughed at his reversion to the man who had been unable to speak well around any of them when he’d first boarded Serenity. “I don’t know how –“

“You and Kaylee planned for this. You talked about it. You were ready.” Inara lifted her eyes to his and smiled. “She told me all about it.”

The wry grin that crossed Simon’s face was not lost on Inara. “I’m not ready to do it without her.” Simon sank into the closest chair and Inara found it difficult to be angry at him as she watched the grief and fear pass across his face. “So, you’re ok with this?” Simon asked as Kaylee snuggled against his side. “It’s a big step. I’m –“

“Should be askin’ you that question, Simon.” Her bright eyes could warm the coldest heart and Simon found himself smiling despite his nervousness.

“I’m ok.” He took a deep breath. “Mal won’t be. He’ll be mad.”

Kaylee pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth. “We don’t gotta tell him right away.” She nuzzled her cheek against his and sighed. “You just let me handle the cap.” Simon chuckled and tightened his arms around her shoulders. “Gladly.”

“You’ll make such a good dad.” Her fingers tapped out an uneven rhythm on his bare chest.

For the moment, he ignored how the simple touch aroused him, and asked, “Why do you say that?”

“’Cause what you did for River is the most selfless thing I ever seen.” She snuggled closer, fingers slipping now beneath the waistband of his sweatpants.

“That doesn’t make me fit to be a parent.” Simon tried to concentrate, wanting to finish their conversation. He was nervous. But with Kaylee by his side, he knew they could raise this child. They’d made a home here –together, and it would be as safe as they could make it.

“Love like that ain’t somethin’ that can be taught or learned.” Kaylee’s eyes twinkled mischievously and Simon knew their conversation had come to an end. The blood pooling in his groin was as clear an indicator as Kaylee’s teasing fingers and matching grin.

When Kaylee leaned over and kissed him, her touch fueled a fire in his blood that he hoped would never be quenched. He couldn’t keep the sad longing out of his voice as he relived the memory. “Things don’t always turn out the way we planned.”

Simon shook his head to clear his thoughts. He could feel Kaylee close to him, smell her. When he opened his eyes and she wasn’t there, it was as if all the stability in his life had suddenly been pulled out from beneath him. His heart leapt into his throat when he lifted his head and saw Inara standing over him.

“But this little boy needs you.” She placed the squirming baby into his arms and stepped away. “I know, just like Kaylee did, that you’ll be a good father.”

Simon glanced down at the little boy, his dark tuft of hair standing on end. He settled the baby in his arms and then lifted a hand to run a solitary finger down his forehead to his nose. Simon traced the outline of the boy’s thin lips before curling a finger around his cheek and beneath his chin.

“You should probably start by giving him a name.”

By the time Simon could tear his gaze away from the little one lying in his arms, Inara was gone.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Later that evening, Simon stood on the old wooden porch, staring out into the flat landscape that surrounded them. Kara Eldar had kindly offered them a place to stay – in exchange for assisting around her ranch. They’d had the money, thanks to the case Jayne had dragged out of the wreckage; the compensation from the Independents to whom they’d delivered those weapon plans, to pay for everyone’s medical bills, and they even had some left over. It had been squirreled away in case it was needed. For now, they could work on the ranch before deciding what they needed to do next.

The baby cooed in his arms, and as the cooling breeze ruffled his hair, he tugged the blanket around the little bundle and buried his nose in the sweet smell. His eyes slid shut and he tried in vain not to let despair overwhelm him. He wasn’t ready to be a single parent.

He’d been able to weep in peace for the last week, and now, seeing his family, his friends, his son, again, had brought more unwanted loneliness and tears. Kaylee wanted this little one so badly, was so happy with her life – except when he and Mal fought. Nothing, Simon knew, had ever dimmed her bright, cheerful nature.

Nothing but the sting of death.

Lost in his thoughts, he sensed, rather than heard, an approach from behind. Mal still walked with a little bit of a limp, but Simon would have recognized the heavy footfalls anyway. He glanced down at the cane he used to get around on his own healing leg, before lifting his face into the breeze in hopes it would dry the lingering tears before Mal reached his side.

They hadn’t spoken much, and if Simon really thought about it, he was to blame. He’d pushed everyone away this last week, preferring to wallow in his guilt and sadness alone. Only since he’d been here, in this old, rickety farmhouse, had he begun to re-stitch the friendships that had been forged over the last two years.

No Alliance ships had returned to see that Serenity had been properly dispatched. Maris Kim must have had more important fish to fry, though Simon could not fathom how she wouldn’t want to know if her own daughter had survived. Looking down at his son now, he couldn’t imagine how any parent could not want to know if their child was alive or dead. He couldn’t imagine not searching to the end of the ‘Verse for his flesh and blood. But his father was living proof, as was Maris Kim, that sometimes people didn’t deserve the children with whom they’d been blessed.

“Gettin’ cold,” Mal said, a hint of reproach in his tone that Simon did not acknowledge.

“What is her father’s name?”

Simon could sense Mal’s surprise at the sound of his voice and he waited expectantly for the captain to answer. The older man’s voice was quiet, when he finally spoke, “William.”

Simon nodded and said nothing more.

“That the little tyke’s –“

“Yes,” Simon interrupted, and glanced down at the bundle in his arms. Silence fell for a moment and Simon pushed back the sadness that constricted every muscle in his chest whenever he thought about Kaylee.

“I want to take her home.” Simon turned around and met Mal’s wide eyes. “Somehow.”

He could see Mal’s jaw tighten. Serenity wouldn’t fly again. Not without a lot of work and money.

Simon felt a great sense of overwhelming relief when Mal took a step forward and laid a firm hand on his shoulder. “We’ll get her home, Simon. I don’t know how. But we will.”

Clearly identifiable gratitude welled in place of tears in Simon’s eyes. It’d been a very long time since he’d felt anything but anger and disdain for Malcolm Reynolds. No matter how much the two men went through, how they suffered together, they’d always maintained a kind of unspoken distance. Not quite the uneasy truce that Simon and Jayne had managed to form, but something akin to it, which was even further strained when Mal had learned about Kaylee’s pregnancy. But something had drawn them closer this time. The distance between them had shortened, despite the damage Simon felt he’d done to all his friendships over the last week.

Mal squeezed Simon’s shoulder one last time before turning away and whispering to the wind, “Somehow.”

TBC -------------- Reviews before the hack --------------

AMDOBELL Monday, September 03, 2007 - 08:24

I liked this. It was never going to be an easy road for Simon to travel and it is good that the story addresses that in a way that doesn't brush aside the difficulties that have to be faced one by one. Really glad that Mal is going to help him, even if River had to nudge him with the knowledge that he would do it after all. Bringing that to the forefront just gained them both a little ground. As for Jayne hitting Simon on his ass at least it has got him thinking again though I don't like the thought of Simon being knocked about when he is going through so much. And poor Zoe, all this must bring Wash's death ever closer to her. Ali D :~) You can't take the sky from me ------------------ wytchcroft Monday, September 03, 2007 - 09:22

tightly balanced. descriptions worked well. keep em comin! -----------------

nbz Monday, September 03, 2007 - 13:09

Once again very well written. Different to what I imagined, but so much better.

I must add that there does seem to be a sheer hopelessness to the situation which is rather bleak (which can't be helped considering the subject matter...). -----------------

blackbeanie Monday, September 03, 2007 - 23:00

Wow, didn't think Jayne would be the one to snap Simon out of it. But still, very effective.

I love it, keep it up. --------------------

Chazzer Tuesday, September 04, 2007 - 03:50

Ok, note to self: don't read the next chapter in the library. People can see me trying not to cry.

This is painful and difficult for me to read, as with Kaylee gone I really can't see any light at the end of the tunnel. But I will persevere, because your writing is amazing.

But please do some nice S/K fluff after this!!! :D:D ---------------

TamSibling Tuesday, September 04, 2007 - 08:27

Unbelievably painful for all involved, but so well crafted! I realy love it and hate it at the same time! ------------------

BigBadJayne Tuesday, September 04, 2007 - 14:20

The fun of Jayne's punching Simon, itself a stroke of genius for the ape-thing, was perfectly counterbalanced by the memory of Simon and Kaylee begining to start that new life, and the sadness that he will never have that with her again. Buckets, damn you, filling buckets right now.... --------------------

mal4prez Wednesday, September 05, 2007 - 04:30

I love the scene with Jayne and Simon. Jayne's still a big lug, but he's a tougher about handling tradegy and talks sense when Simon needs to hear it. And there's just enough little funnies tossed to lighten it up where it's needed.

And Simon finally able to accept his son, and a flash of Kaylee in the flashback... it's such a lovely chapter. Beautiful! --------------------

LadySage Wednesday, September 05, 2007 - 06:39

Wow - this was a good way to show Simon's journey back from the depths of black despair and face his grief. I like his scene with Jayne and the way you bookended this story by then having Simon's scene with Mal at the end.

Fun stuff - keep writing!




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Simon and Kaylee discuss other - avenues, as they lay in bed. Oddly, this is a pretty PG story.

Simon and kaylee disturb the ship with their nocturnal activities. Post BDM. Part of a challenge table. Rated NC-17 for adult content.

Broken Wings: Conclusion (Repost)
The crew take Kaylee home to be buried and the reason for Simon's secrecy is discovered. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.

Broken Wings: Chapter 18 (Repost)
Simon, Mal and Jayne have a moment with Kaylee. Inara and River are reunited with the rest of the crew. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.

Broken Wings: Chapter 17 (Repost)
Simon has a conversation with Zoe, Mal and Jayne - separately. Sequel to 'On the Edge.' Cannon pairings.

Broken Wings: Chapter 16 (Repost)
The crew is reunited - mostly, as Simon arrives to treat the wounded. River rushes to Inara's aid before her deception is discovered. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.

Broken Wings: Chapter 15 (Repost)
Simon's escape is halted by his father. But River comes to the rescue. Jayne - sees the light - far too up close and personal for his safety. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.

Broken Wings: Chapter 14 (Repost)
Simon and Inara's deception is discovered. Mal, Jayne and Zoe continue to fight what looks to be a losing battle. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.

Broken Wings: Chapter 13 (Repost)
Simon has some unexpected help with his fussy son and River receives another assignment. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.

Broken Wings: Chapter 12 (Repost)
Inara and Simon continue their work while a message gets out to those on the front lines. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.