Summery: Ariel AU. Simon gets left behind.
This is, in fact, sort of a Rayne story. But not exactly. *innocent smile*
Massive thanks to michmak for the beta through part 16. Worship to magelette, who picked up at part 17.
Dedicated to literarylemming, without whom this would not exist. She is responsible for feeding the bunny. All credit (and blame for the crack) goes to her. Im just the messenger.
All parts found here: Wingtip Round Up Post
He had never moved. Mal had offered him a bunk. Kaylee had even asked him, months ago, to move in with her. But it had never felt right. River's things were all here, right next door, and it was easy to keep them straightened when he was close by.
It made it easier to remember who he was. Who he had been. Before.
Before Serenity, before River was taken. The first time, he had given up everything to find her. And then he lost her, and he was left with practically nothing.
He clung to the few familiar things that remained.
His bed was made every morning with tight hospital corners. His clothes, although much more tattered than they used to be, were hung neatly in the closet – shirts on one side, pants on the other, all facing the same way.
River’s room was clean and ready for her at any moment. Her sketchbooks and colored pencils had been stacked nearly beside her bed. Once a week he changed the linens and remade the bed – he turned it down automatically, as if she might still come back and slip into bed at night without him noticing.
He still woke up at night, sometimes, but would catch himself right before he opened her door. Her nightmares had bothered her so. Some nights neither of them had gotten much sleep.
Simon's hands trembled on the base on the gun.
He put it down with care. Two dull scalpels and a worn hospital badge lay scattered beside it.
This was the sum of his life, here on this rickety table in a run-down transport ship.
He touched the badge gently. In bold letters, it announced "Capital City Trauma Center Staff: Dr. Simon Tam, Surgeon." A faded capture of a young man looked up at him with a tight, distracted smile.
He wasn't that man anymore. He hadn't been that man for almost four years. Not since he got River's first coded letter. It had taken him days to break the cipher. At first, he thought it was one of her jokes. Something funny or rude, maybe, about one of the instructors.
The edge of the card was curled and burnt, and he picked at it with his thumb. He placed it precisely on the very end of the table – out of his reach.
He hesitated over the scalpels. The steel was cool and comforting in its familiarity. They were slightly dull, but that could still be fixed. They would have to be fixed. There had been little to no money for medical supplies in months.
He moved the scalpels to the other side of himself, leaving only one thing in front of him.
Something he had never in his life expected to own.
He unloaded it slowly, lining up each bullet in a precise line, the casings smooth to his callused fingers. His hands barely shook when he fired... now.
This was the only gun he had, the one he took on jobs. It was the one he learned to shoot on, after Mal nearly brained him with a rock for having bad enough aim that he nearly hit Serenity.
The gun was old, but serviceable. Sometimes the trigger jammed up, and he had to take extra care to clean and oil it carefully before a job.
It was the most obvious example of how his life had changed.
He stared at it. There was a nick on the handle, and a deep grove across the trigger guard that had been there before he ever got it.
Slowly, he slid it to the right – to join the old hospital identification card.
He didn't need it anymore.
Jayne had taken this from him, as well.
END PART 20
HOMG YOU GUYS. FIVE PARTS LEFT. *hyperventilates*