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By NEStar


Chapter 1

Simon walked through the cargo bay, there was still so much work to be done but after the funerals... every one had seemed to need time to themselves. Even River had curled up in her bunk. Simon thought he had seen one of Wash's dinos clutched in her hand.
Simon sat down on one of the cargo crates with a sigh. So much had happened in the last, god how long had it been since the robbery on Lilac? A week? Was that really all? It had felt like years since he had confronted Mal outside of the engine room about River's involvement in the heist.
One week and his life was changed.
One week, a senate assassin, the lives of two good men, and the extinction of a planet.
Was it worth it?
For the first time in two years he was a free man. But right at this moment, in the cargo bay of a broken ship, Simon realized he had been far, far, happier as a fugitive.
God, how? Why?
It was strange, but Simon had grown so close to the odd ball pilot. Simon knew that at first glance most people would never group the two men as kindred spirits, but beneath Wash's jocularity and Simon's reserve there was the same will to be the best in their field, the same head that was cool and calm under pressure, and the same heart that would go through hell and back for the ones it loved.
A shadow fall over him and Simon looked up to see Kaylee holding a small basket, tears slowly rolling done her cheeks.
“Kaylee?” Simon asked softly.
Kaylee held out the basket, “Strawberries.”
Simon stood up and put one arm around Kaylee's shoulders, she turned her face into his chest and started crying even harder. Through the her sobs Simon could hear her trying to talk, “I was looking through the food supplies that got sent over. Needed something to do with my hands. I found the strawberries.”
Simon could feel Kaylee's strength giving way, so he reached down and slipped his other arm under her knees. By the time Simon had carried Kaylee through the lounge, the kitchen and into the crew hallway her fierce sobs had ended. Once they were sitting on her bed Kaylee told Simon of the day on the Eastdown docks. How she had seen this old man who was all set for traveling, but who hadn't looked at a single destination sign. How she had called to him and told him that he was going to be flyin' on her ship. How he had bought his passage on Serenity with only half money and the rest in a box of strawberries.
“It's a silly thing to be cryin' over.” Kaylee said as she wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand.
Simon leaned over and kissed her forehead, “It's a fine thing to cry over.”
“I just...” Kaylee took a deep breath and lay back on the bed “It use to be a happy memory, but now I'm crying over a strawberry.”
Simon took a berry from the basket and then set the basket on the floor. “So we'll find a way to make strawberries a happy memory again.” Simon adjusted so that he was laying next to Kaylee, took a bite of the dark red fruit, then leaned over and kissed Kaylee.
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