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WARNING: If you haven't read the warning on the index page, go back and read it. If you don't, and you don't like what you find here, don't come crying to me.

Title: A Day Like Today

Author: Eleanor K.

Fandom: Firely

Pairing: Mal/Simon

Rating: PG

For Skripka, who provided the following line as a starting place:
"You don't know how good you got it."

***

Simon sits on the porch and watches River's children play in the long grass. It's green and high from the spring rains, and their bare feet leave impressions wherever they step. The crushed blades rise up seconds later, unharmed.

The youngest, Malcom, trips over his feet and falls. His arms flail angel wings into the grass, and his two-year-old lungs, specially designed for bawling, or so it seems to Simon sometimes, fill and empty, pulsing like an air raid siren.

Simon drags himself out of his chair, body stiff as the cane in his hand. He makes his way down three steps and picks up the boy. It sends sharp pains down his spine and his damaged hip, but he's never allowed pain to stop him doing what needs to be done.

He sits Malcom on his lap and rocks them both until the boy quiets.

"Are you hurt?"

"Nuh uh." The boy sniffs and looks up hopefully. "Story?"

"No stories today. Go on and play."

He brushes grass off patched pants that used to belong to Malcom's older sister and sets him down.

"Go on," he says to the small face, now twisting in a pout and threatening tears again.

"Wanna story!"

"Not right now."

"Not fair." Chubby arms crossed, unsteady legs locked in protest. "The sun is at its zenith," he says carefully, lisping on the last word. "Too hot."

It's not easy raising River's children, even with the task divided between her, her husband, and himself. She's the only one who can match them in intellect.

"Be glad you have sun to play in. You don't know how good you got it," he says, thinking how different things might have been. it's not until after the words are out that he registers them. Living here has changed him in many ways, but the erosion of his language is the one he finds most constantly disturbing.

The boy blinks stubbornly at him, but now his older sister is calling, and he turns with a smile to run down the steps and back into the grass.

Simon watches and thinks about a story he might have told him.

Once upon a time, a prince and a princess ran for their lives, but their enemies caught up with them. Their guards fought valiantly to protect them, but in the end, the castle walls were breeched.

He remembers air whistling out of a rip in Serenity's hull. Mal shoving him and River in shuttle two, the coffee flavor of Mal's last kiss before the door sealed shut and Mal launched them into space.

It's been ten years since that day.

He doesn't know if any of them are still alive, though River insists they are. He used to think Mal would find him once they shook off the Alliance. All the while he was recovering from the crash of the shuttle onto this planet, he thought about it. Sitting here, in this chair, on the porch of the quiet man who took them in, who would become his sister's husband.

It would be a day like any other. Maybe just like this, blue sky, green grass, children playing. Mal would show up out of nowhere, smile on his broad face, pulling Simon up and into his arms, like coming home.

Simon looks up and sees a glint of sun off metal and a cloud of dust rising beyond the hill at the end of the drive. River steps out of the house and lays her hand on his shoulder.

"A day like today," she says, and bends to kiss his cheek.

He watches with hope rising in his chest and tears stinging his eyes as a figure in a brown coat crests the hill and starts the long walk up the road to the house.

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