Title: Three Simple Words

Author: Settiai

Disclaimer: "Firefly" and other related characters are all properties of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other related corporations. No infringement is intended. This story, such as it is, was written as a sign of respect and love for the characters, the show, and their creator. I claim no ownership of the aforementioned show and characters.

Rating: PG

Summary: One of them had to have hope.

Feedback: Comments and helpful criticisms are always appreciated.

----------

Three simple words.

At times, she thought they were the only things holding her back. Three one-syllable words that, at one time, she would have let spring from her lips in an instant. But that was before. Before they had scanned her. Cut her. Trapped her. Stolen her mind, and her faith, and her innocence, and her life…

Now she was terrified of giving away the one thing she had kept hidden deep inside of her throughout everything.

She knew that Simon wanted to hear the words. He longed to hear them, because they would be proof that what had once been might one day be again. She believed that it was but a dream, a fleeting hope that would most likely fade with time… but in a way she did not want to know whether or not she was correct. Because killing his hope would kill his spirit. But what would false hope bring about?

But she did love her brother, even though she was afraid to tell him.

Her gaze moved toward the door as Simon stepped in, a bittersweet smile on his face. She smiled weakly herself before moving over enough so that he could sit beside her. She gently leaned against him, her arms wrapping around him like she had done when she was little. His body tensed slightly at the unexpected action, and a quiet giggle -- one that only she knew was forced -- escaped her lips.

"I love you, Simon," she said simply.

She heard his sharp intake of breath, and -- without hesitating -- she let her acting come to life even more. A smile appeared on her face, one that she hoped was reassuring. Their lives would never go back to normal, but he didn't need to know. Not yet. Simon deserved to believe. To hope. To dream.

One of them had to.