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Firefly: The Lost Son (Fanfiction)

The Lost Son

Word Count: ~1.400
Summary: Regan had dreamed of this, so often, and had mulled over what she would say, how she would welcome her children back. It had never been like this.
Characters: Regan Tam, Simon Tam
Pairing: Simon/Kaylee (hinted), Regan Tam/Gabriel Tam (hinted)
Rating: PG
Spoiler: a tiny bit of Safe (the flashbacks), Ariel
Setting: after the movie Serenity
Author's Note: This has been with me for so long and I never really got it down on virtual paper. I finally decided to tackle this and here it is – hard work.
Disclaimer: I’m not making money with this fanfic. The tv-show Firefly and the characters appearing within it belong to their producers and creators. Any similarities to living or dead persons are purely coincidental and not intended.

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Unexpectedly, one evening when the air was still warm and the sky clear, he was back, standing in front of the door like an apparition from the past.

Regan had to look twice to recognize her own son. He looked so different from when she'd seen him the last time: Back then, he'd been properly dressed in one of his suits, his hair immaculate and his face smooth.

Now, his dark hair was longer than she'd ever seen it before, falling into his forehead and giving the impression of looking at one of the workers at the docks rather than one of the most talented doctors this planet had. His once clear, curious eyes seemed older, his smooth face a bit drawn as if he hadn't eaten enough in a while. He was wearing a denim jacket over a loose sweater and green cargo pants. He was far from the man she'd raised so carefully. Regan swallowed when she saw what appeared to be a gun hidden in a holster under his jacket. "Simon," she said and paused. She didn't quite know how to continue, what to say.

"Mother." He nodded a curt greeting and his hands tightened around the strap of the duffel bag he was carrying. "I need to get a few things from my and River's rooms, please."

"I ..." Regan swallowed. She didn't know what to say, was too stunned to move aside and let him in.

Simon gave a brittle smile. "Can I come in? We have cargo to deliver and want to be on the way within the hour. I still need to get back to the shipyard, so I don't have much time."

Regan finally found her senses and there was only one question on her mind. "Where have you been?"

His eyes avoided hers. For a moment, she thought that he was ashamed, but then she recognized his expression as the same one he'd worn when River started to send her strange letters from school: Stubborn and resentful.

"The Alliance was here!" she said angrily. "Officers all over our house! Looking for you, saying that you kidnapped River from the school!"

"I didn't kidnap her, I rescued her!" he replied heatedly. "I got her out of there. She didn't want to be there anymore."

"It took your father weeks to gain back some form of respect at work."

"My heart bleeds for him," Simon answered coldly. "Now, can I come in or not?"

Regan stepped aside and let him pass, wrinkling her nose when she smelled something on him that seemed to be grease or machine oil - something mechanical. She looked outside, down the path that led to their front door. "Is she here with you?" she asked.

He shook his head. "Don't be silly, mother. I wouldn't bring her here."

Regan closed the door and crossed her arms. "You talk like we're the enemies in this whole game."

"Not the enemies," Simon replied. In the bright lights of the hallway, she saw a dark smudge on his cheek. The Simon she'd raised had never let himself get dirty. Further proof that he wasn't the same anymore. He glared at her. "You're those listening to them." With that, he hurried up the stairs, his worn boots making no sound on the plush carpet and Regan was once again reminded of a ghost of the past … as if Simon wasn't really here.

Regan followed him, already regretting her words. She'd dreamed of this, so often, and had mulled over what she would say, how she would welcome her children back. It had never been like this. "Simon." She watched from the door as he hastily looked through River's closet, choosing some of her more casual dresses and outfits and shoving them in the duffel bag. The room was exactly how River had left it before she went to school. A teenage girl's dream come true. Regan thought she could still see her cuddled into the rocking chair in the corner - sometimes with her brother close, sometimes alone - reading or listening to music. Regan sighed. "Come home."

"I don't think that would be smart," he answered, going through River's shoes. "The Alliance is still interested in River."

"But it's not safe out there."

"We'll be fine. We've got work, a home, a family."

His casual tone made her sad. "We're your family," she said softly.

He paused and looked up at her. "I thought so, too." He grabbed River's favorite teddy from her bed and unfolded a list written on paper before getting some books from the shelves and dropping them into the bag as well.

Regan hated this, hated this distance between them, this anger steadily building. She touched his shoulder and he froze, still avoiding her eyes. "Simon ... darling ... I'm sorry."

He looked at her sharply. "You are?"

She nodded, seeing a chance to mend some fences. She wanted nothing more than have her children back home. And if she had to admit to mistakes to do that, then she would, no matter what her sometimes mule-headed husband said. "We should have given you more support. We should have contacted the school, asked them if River was unhappy. Maybe she had trouble fitting in."

"They opened her brain and messed around with it," Simon answered. "That's not what I call 'having trouble to fit in'."

Regan swallowed, not sure if she should believe that to be true. It sounded ludicrous and only deepened her concern. "We can find another school for her," she tried to placate him.

He shook his head in determination. "It's too late. River's happy where she is right now and I won't leave her. We won't leave the crew."

She scoffed. He'd inherited too much of that mule-headed stubbornness from his father. Bitterly, she asked, "You're giving up a promising career and a comfortable life to work as a mechanic on some run-down ship?"

"I'm still a doctor," Simon answered, using the door connecting River's room to his. "My wife's the mechanic."

Regan followed him. His room – just like River's – had remained the same: Just as orderly but more practical than hers. Regan was shocked about his casual mention of something she'd been looking forward to, she'd wanted to witness - her little boy becoming a husband. "Your ... your wife?" she asked, dumbfounded.

"I got married last month," he answered, opening his closet. Then he paused, shook his head and closed it again. He packed books, mostly medical, and looked around before zipping the duffel bag closed. "I think that's it." He turned to her, looking more like an adventurer than the doctor she remembered. And he seemed stricken, his cool facade crumbling a bit, now that he was faced with saying good-bye once more. "I wish things would be different."

Regan took his hand. "Come home, Simon ... we can talk about all this, I promise."

"Mother ... even if that were possible, I don't want to come home. River doesn't want to come home. We're happy. Please accept that."

She reached up a hand, trying to rub away the smudge on his cheek - very likely left behind by his wife. Once again, she didn't know what to say. "Simon ..."

He shook his head. "You know, I wish it would have worked out differently. I wish you would have understood ..." He closed his eyes and swallowed. "You have no idea what we've been through, what River has been through. You let us down, so we will continue to count on the people who have been there for us ever since."

"I never wanted to lose you. You're my son, Simon. You belong here."

"I'm your son, but Kaylee is my wife and River is my sister and I've got a crew to think of. We're not coming back." He leaned down and kissed her cheek. "I love you, mom. Tell dad I'm sorry. But we've found something better than this."

His words made her angry again. She followed him back down the stairs and to the door. "What could be better than this?" she asked when he was half-way out the door. He froze and she continued, "What could be better than being comfortable and able to afford whatever you need instead of living on a ship, traveling all the time?"

When he turned to her, he was smiling brightly. "Serenity," he answered. "We found serenity."

And just like that, he was gone again.


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