Author's Note: Let me preface this story by saying that I have only seen the first three season of Simon and Simon and only a few scattered episodes after that so if this doesn't fit canonically then just consider it a bit of fun for any who would have liked to see a scene like this.
Young AJ Simon sat on his bed in his college dorm room holding a letter with a grip of steel. He had tears misting in his eyes but his face was a mask of shock. Peter Conolly, AJ's roommate, entered the room, took one look at the strange scene and rushed over to his friend. He sat beside him and placed a hand comfortingly on his shoulder.
"Hey, what's up? You look as though your dog just died?" Peter asked, trying for a lighthearted tone to his voice.
AJ shook his head and blinked causing the tears to fall, "Um...I um...this letter..." Helplessly he handed the paper to his friend. Peter took it and read solemnly.
TO: Andrew Simon
From: War Dept.
RE: Condolence Letter
We regret to inform you that your brother, Richard Simon PFC is now classified as M.I.A. All efforts possible are being made to locate him. Will update as soon as new information arrives.
"Oh, wow..." Peter whispered, unable to think of anything else to say. He put his arm around AJ who finally collapsed in tears, sobbing until he had nothing left. When he sat up his eyes were red and puffy and tears streaked his youthful features. Peter smiled halfheartedly, "Hey it could be worse news! It could have been a death notice. MIA means there is hope."
AJ shook his head miserably, "No, no he is dead. How many times does MIA really end up with the soldier being found alive?"
"Well, I am not sure but surely it does happen sometimes..." Peter tried his best to be cheerful. "Maybe he's a prisoner...or something..." He trailed off, realizing he'd said the wrong thing.
"If he is a prisoner," AJ choked out, "then he is being tortured..." Fresh tears fell as he thought of his big brother, his protector, being tormented by VietCong in some dirty prison camp. He had heard stories of the filth and squalor associated with such places.
Peter chewed his lip, wishing he had the magic words that would ease his friend's pain but he did not have them. The two sat in silence for several hours until the big clock outside boomed, telling the hour to be midnight. AJ stood and mechanically began to pack a duffelbag with some clothes. Peter caught his arm, "Where are you going?"
"I...I have to go home, Mom will need me..." He continued to stuff shirts into his bag very unlike his normal careful packing method. Peter wordlessly took the bag out of AJ's hands and dumped it out, folding and replacing the items neatly. He quickly found AJ's razor and other essentials and packed them as well. Then he reached under his bed and pulled out a small suitcase and began packing his own things. AJ looked on in confusion until Peter was done and turned to face him.
Smiling the tall lanky, brown eyed, brown haired boy picked up both bags and motioned towards the door. "Will you get that for me?"
AJ frowned and did as he was told.
"Thanks," Peter said as he squeezed through the narrow doorway and into the dorm hall. He looked back to see AJ just standing there, frozen, his face still drawn into a frown. "Come on!" He called back, continuing down the hall towards the exit. "I am not letting you travel alone in this state. You'd get lost!"
AJ felt a wave of warmth wash over him at the realization that he wouldn't be making the long journey unaccompanied, what a friend! He pulled the door shut behind him and walked briskly to catch up with Peter's long strides. Together the two boys walked to the street and hailed a cab which took them to the bus station. They bought two red eye tickets and the settled back into their seats as the large silver bus took off from the station a few minutes later. It wasn't long before the noise and motion of the vehicle had both boys fast asleep.
It was full daylight when the boys found a cab driver to take them from the destination bus station to AJ's mother's house. The house he had grown up in...the house he and Rick had grown up in... Dark thoughts plagued AJ for the entire ride to his front door so he sat in morose silence. Peter, realizing that his friend needed space sat looking out the window on his side of the car. The yellow cab pulled up outside the handsome spanish style house and deposited the two college mates on the front lawn before driving away. In the stillness AJ felt a new surge of pain when he saw the yellow ribbon tied to the tree in front of the house. A candle burned in the window. AJ gulped, picked up his bag and started for the door. Peter trailed behind, unsure whether he should wait at the curb or follow his friend inside. Walking up to the large wooden door, AJ knocked and then waited a few seconds until the door opened and his Aunt Vivian answered. She wordlessly drew AJ into a firm hug then led him inside.
"Your mother is in the living room," She said quietly. She was Cilia's sister and resembled her in many ways. But her eyes were a sparkling blue that AJ had always found reminiscent of his brother's. The thought of Rick tugged at his heart but he squared his shoulders, kissed his aunt then entered the living room. Peter was greeted warmly by Vivian who ushered him into the kitchen for some refreshments.
Cecilia Simon sat in a large armchair looking out the window onto her back lawn. Her thoughts were filled with images of her two sons running about out there, playing hide n seek, having imaginary battles, playing soldier... She could picture perfectly, her oldest standing at the top of the small rise, holding a stick with a handkerchief tied to it aloft in triumph as he and his brother had scaled Mount Sirabachi on the island of Iwo Jima for the fifth time that day. AJ's tiny face looked up adoringly at his brother as he stood beside him, pumping his little fist in the air and yelling 'hurrah!'. The scene quickly changed however to her dark imaginings and she could see Rick lying wounded in some jungle as a harsh oriental face looked down at him, bayonet poised... She shook her head and turned away from the window as if to get away from such thoughts. A soft noise drew her attention and she looked over to see he youngest standing in the doorway. "AJ!" She called, joy and sadness mingling together as she rushed over to him and hugged him fiercely. "It is so good to see you!" She said between sobs. "I really needed you here."
AJ cried as well and hugged his mother as hard as he dared. His six foot frame dwarfed her petite five two. They stood there for some time, taking comfort in each other's presence. Then Cecilia pulled back, grasped AJ's hand and led him to the couch where they sat, side by side.
"Have you heard anything?" AJ asked tentatively.
Cecilia shook her head in sadness, "No...but at this point maybe no news is good news."
AJ nodded, but doubt assailed him. What if they never found out what happened to his brother? What if he became one of the many who's bodies were never recovered? What if... Stop it! He chided himself. Thinking like this wasn't going to help anything. He needed to be strong for his mom now. He squeezed her hand gently and smiled reassuringly. "I am sure you're right. No news is good news. Rick is a fighter. He won't go down easy."
Cecilia choked back a sob, "Oh AJ!" She despaired, "What are we going to do? I feel as if I have lost him..."
AJ drew his mother into his strong arms and stroked her hair soothingly, "He is going to be fine," he said over and over, "he is coming home." He only wished he could believe it himself.
Lunch was a quiet affair, Peter helped Aunt Vivian prepare cold sandwiches and coffee. Neither AJ or Cecilia had an appetite but at the insistence of the two supporters they managed to eat a little bit. The day passed slowly with night creeping up on the four sitting out back on the patio in companionable silence. At length, as the shadows grew Peter stood and yawned. "Well, I am off to bed. I recommend that you two do the same," he said to AJ and Cecilia. AJ nodded mutely and helped his mother to her feet. He walked her to her bedroom door where Aunt Vivian took over. She guided the silent woman into the room and closed the door.
AJ began the ascent to his and Rick's old room at the top of the stairs. He found himself remembering the many good times they had spent here. In his mind's eye he could see Rick at the top of the staircase, a wooden sword in his hand as he sat astride a wooden rocking horse. He was about ten and far too big for the horse but, legs dangling he pushed off the top landing and sailed gloriously into the wall at the bottom of the stairs. He sat up as AJ rushed down as fast as his little legs would carry him. Holding up a broken arm he had forced a grin and said, "Wow! What a ride! Your turn next AJ!" Their mother had come in just then and exasperatedly called the doctor to set up an appointment for a cast while hiding the rocking horse in the garage. AJ wondered if it was still there.
Another time he and Rick had climbed to the top of the roof and were in the midst of planning a heroic parachute assault on the imagined enemy forces entrenched below them in the yard. They had stolen the sheets off their beds and tied them with twine around their chests. Rick felt sure that the cloth would hold them and had convinced AJ of that 'fact'. They had been saved just before jumping when the babysitter screamed upon seeing their legs dangling from the roof's edge. Hurriedly she had climbed up to the attic, nervously crossed the roof and then drug them both back inside. AJ smiled as he suddenly remembered that that was the last time they had had that particular babysitter.
He reached the door that opened into the room he and Rick had grown up in. Taking a breath he pushed it open and stepped inside. Peter was asleep on Rick's old bed. The furniture was the same although the toys and later posters and records had been thrown out or stored. He looked wistfully at the hash marks in the doorjamb, indicating his and his brother's height throughout their childhood years. Casting his gaze about the small room he took in the familiar shapes of his and Rick's beds, the old lamp they had begged their mother for because it had Gene Autry on it. The pennants from his dream colleges still adorned the wall over his bed and Rick's had a small shelf with some old army figures and a few small mementos from childhood. With a heavy sigh AJ collapsed on his old bed and closed his eyes. He was too exhausted to be sad and soon drifted off into a deep sleep.
Two days went slowly by, full of memories and worry. Both AJ and his mother knew that they had to start living their lives normally soon...or As normally as they could manage with the possibility of horrific news hovering over them. But neither of them knew exactly how to go about it. They both drew comfort from each other and AJ felt it would be abandoning her to return to college. Peter had left the day before at AJ's insistance. Term finals were coming up and he didn't want his friend to fail because of him. Aunt Vivian still bustled around the house, doing the household chores in the background. The silent supporter to the devastated family.
Breakfast was almost over on the third day when a knock sounded on the door. AJ wearily got up and looked out at the driveway where he saw a black, official looking car. His throat tightened when he saw the uniformed man sitting in the driver's seat. This was it, the bad news they had been waiting for. He turned to his mom and the look on his face told her all she needed to know. She buried her face in her hands and started weeping. Aunt Vivian started for the door but AJ stopped her. He needed to do this himself. Squaring his shoulders he stepped over to the door and opened it briskly. And then he felt his knees buckle upon seeing his brother at the door. Rick's smile disappeared as he caught his little brother before he fell.
"Hey there, AJ. What kind of greeting is that?" He asked gently. AJ swallowed, regained his footing and then with a grin of pure delight threw his arms around his brother. Cecilia came to the door and cried out when she saw Rick standing there. Vivian gripped her arm to keep her from falling but she didn't faint, she ran over and was drawn into a solid embrace by both of her sons. Vivian stood back in the kitchen doorway and cried tears of joy at the joyful reunion before her. Rick smiled at her then gently disentangled himself from his family and gave her a quick hug.
"I am starving!" Rick said with a grin. "What's for breakfast?"
Vivian shook her head with a smile then stepped into the kitchen to start preparing her nephew's favorite breakfast. AJ, Rick and Cecilia followed and sat at the small kitchen table.
"Why didn't you tell us you were alive?" AJ finally asked, "What happened?"
Rick's face grew serious and he put a hand on his little brother's shoulder. "Ask me what happened again sometime and then I will tell you. Right now I am working on some distance from it. As for why I didn't call...I Just didn't know what to say. I knew the Department had contacted you about me being MIA and I just couldn't think of any words that said...Hey I am alive."
"Those worked," Cecilia said, tears still sparkling in her eyes. She reached out and stroked his face. "I am so glad you are home."
"Do you have to go back?" AJ asked quietly.
Rick shook his head, "No, I am officially discharged."
"Thank God," Vivian said happily, she set a large plate in front of her nephew and grinned with delight at the smile that spread across his face.
"Auntie!" He exclaimed, "You remembered!"
"Of course I remembered!" She said with a wink, "How many men eat five eggs with six slices of bacon over rye toast smothered in gravy?"
They all laughed as Rick dove into the meal with gusto. AJ watched his brother eat and smiled. He knew that the war had changed him and it was going to be a long road to recovery but he was here now and they were a family. At least for a few moments, all was right with the world.