Author: The Jedi Wizard Hobbit PM
Simon remembers a day with River long before they boarded Serenity. Sometimes, you just have to jump in the water.Rated: Fiction K - English - Simon & River - Words: 1,213 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 1 - Published: 07-30-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3075595
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: A friend of mine gave me the prompt "chutes and ladders". Not neccessarily the game. This is what happened. I hope you enjoy it!
Simon remembers the time he took River to the water park.
She was eight at the time, and hadn't seemed to think it was a good idea. Not that she didn't think she'd have a good time – it was Simon she was worried about. He never seemed to do well in places where physical activity was expected. He didn't play sports, didn't like playground games, didn't like anything that didn't involve gaining practical knowledge.
Simon's teachers had often told his parents that he was a fantastic student, but they wished he wouldn't read so much during recess.
So when he told River that he was taking her because their parents had a last minute change in plans, River had rolled her eyes and pouted.
"It'll still be fun!" Simon insisted. He hated when she used that look on him. As if there was anything he could do about it.
"You'll just stand there the whole time and you won't have fun," River said sagely. Because she was right.
"Cut me a break, River. Please," he pleaded, gathering up their towels and placing them neatly in large wicker bag. "I thought you really wanted to go. This is your only chance before school starts this year."
He didn't understand how his brilliant little sister could still be so exited by such a banal activity. She was just too smart to be distracted by something so… simple.
But River had kept hold on his hand as they joined the throngs of people heading into the park. She looked absolutely thrilled, watching the masses with an unnatural intensity that would have made people nervous had they noticed. River twirled around in her purple bathing suit with the red flowers. Whenever someone glared at her for spinning into them she grabbed their hands and made them twirl with her until they were smiling again.
She always looked like a ballerina to Simon.
"All right, Simon, it's time to go down the slides," she told him with the air of a queen from Earth That Was.
Simon hated wearing his bathing suit. He always thought that it made him look short.
"No, River. You go ahead, I'll be right here."
Oh no. She was doing it again. That pink lower lip jutting out in frustration and fury.
"I'm not going if you're not going."
"Don't be silly, River," said Simon, attempting to placate her. "Go ahead. This just isn't something I'll enjoy as much as you. You'll have more fun if I wait down here."
She folded her arms across her chest and sat down in the chair next to his, looking crosser than their mother had that time they had almost blown up the kitchen trying to make brownies that only had a five-minute baking time. Simon sighed and threw his towel over his eyes. He knew where this was going.
They sat in silence for ten minutes while Simon got up his nerve. Finally, he sat up.
"I really have to go up there with you?"
"No, I don't want you to come. This was a terrible idea."
"Don't say that-"
"You never have fun, Simon."
He attempted a little smile. "I'm not supposed to have fun. I'm your big brother."
She was not amused.
He put a hand on her shoulder, trying to get her to look at him. "I'm sorry," he told her. And he meant it. "Hey, did you put on sunsc-?"
She whirled around and grabbed his hand, dazzling smile suddenly there as if it had never left. "Let's go!"
River dragged him all the way to the top of the ladder. Simon had visions of falling, or of River falling and him having to catch her…. Simon wasn't particularly fond of heights.
Once they reached the top, River motioned for him to go, handing him a floaty mat to make sliding easier. Simon backed away slowly. No matter how many cries of joy he heard erupting around him as others began their descents, he couldn't shake this feeling that something would happen as soon as he put one foot on the slide.
River was waiting with a patient smile. "Just sit and I'll give you a push down the chute."
Simon sat, but as soon as his feet felt the cool water rushing over, he turned back to his little sister. "No, I think I'll just go back down and wait for you-"
No sooner had he made the effort to get up then River jumped in behind him, giving them both a push and sending them on their way. Simon was terrified, and he felt ridiculous listening to River shrieking in delight while he continued to panic. It should be him sitting behind River, protecting her, not strapped at the front while his little sister continued to prove how much more she knew about life than he did…
And then suddenly, Simon realized that this dipping feeling in his stomach was not only bearable, but he was laughing. He had started laughing right along with River. It was amazing, it was absolutely freeing, it was fun-
-it was over two seconds later as they hit the water with a heavy splash.
Simon coughed and sputtered, and he tried to talk, but now he was freezing and River was pulling him out of the water quickly.
He took a moment to catch his breath once he felt ground beneath his feet. River eyed him with curiosity, her sopping hair still clinging to her face.
"I'm sorry I pushed you."
He raised a finger at her in admonishment. "That was completely underhanded-"
River's face fell, her eyes drifting to the ground.
"-and nasty and unfair and you'll be lucky if I speak to you at all this week and you also better hurry and get back up that ladder before I beat you to it."
River's face lit up again as she watched her dripping brother smiling at her in that goofy, jubilant way that he reserved just for her. Before he could make another move, she had turned on her bare heel and rushed to the ladder.
She didn't have to stop to make sure that Simon was really following. She knew he was.
Simon wasn't sure why he was telling Kaylee the story. Maybe he just wanted her to know what River had been like before…
But he didn't have to say that to her. He knew he didn't when she put a hand to his mouth, her eyes twinkling with something other than cheer, and she said to him, "That sounds like a real great time, Simon. I wish we could take her again."
He smiled and took her hand from his lips, squeezing it without thinking. Count on Kaylee to give him hope about anything. She was infectious, the same way River's joy was…
Maybe they would go back someday.