Spoilers: Safe AU
Summery: They stay, oddly enough.
They stay, oddly enough.
Serenity never comes back, and people tend to smile at River's odd pronouncements. Mostly. Some of the men grumble about witches, but if he loses his sister, they lose their doctor, and it took them a long time to find one.
So, they stay.
Simon splints broken bones, and gives vaccine shots and soothes new mothers. River dances behind him as he sits at his desk, whirling and spinning, correcting his spelling and informing him that his medicines are no longer potent.
It's a different life.
Different from when they were children, planning assaults on the Browncoats and studying for medical school and dance class.
Different from Serenity, where the grime and the dirt and the hum of the engine worked its way under his skin and into her thoughts, where everything was backed by the whirr of the machine that is all that was keeping them from dying in the cold vacuum of space.
Different, but good, in it's own way.
The medicines are old, and the people are needy and poor. But they feed him and his sister, and repair the house when the roof falls in one winter, and keep them both clothed, because Simon is good with a needle, but River can't be trusted not to stick either of them to see what happens.
The ladies at the church don't seem to mind that River never comes inside, just dances outside when the hymns were playing. While Simon sits in the pew closest to the door, ready to jump up if he is needed to deliver Mrs. Jeffy's new baby, or to stop River from yelling insults during the sermon.
It is different.
Slower than life before, with their parents, where they had to be the best and soon and This should be easy work for a boy of your brain, Simon. You need to work harder.
Slower than life on Serenity, which Simon can barely remember anymore. He remembers being scared, for his life and for River and of Mal, more than once.
Slower, different, but good.
Young Beth McCasey has been watching Simon out of the corner of her eye lately, and brought over a hand made chicken pot pie and a picnic basket, and she is pretty and nice, and this is his life now. River likes her too, teasing Simon when no one else is around and she can make herself better understood.
Beth and Simon are married in the spring; outside beside the church that his sister won't go in, and the only girl there who looks better than the bride is River, spinning up the aisle, flower petals fluttering in her wake.
And sometimes, when he wakes up in the morning, he forgets that his life had ever been different. That he had been a doctor poised to shoot to the top, that his sister had been broken, that he had ever set foot on a ship called Serenity, even though it had brought him to this place and this life, and this peace.
It isn't a perfect life, but it is different, and it is good, and that is what is important.