Would You Rather

"Would you rather I lie?" Simon exclaims. His eyes wide and his mouth jutting slightly open, he stands before Mal. At his sides, his hands are trapped in a gesture of absolute bewilderment. Why Mal is acting so childishly, he cannot spare a guess. It makes no sense at all. For Simon to consider lying about the situation... well, maybe he should have done that in the first place. He tells that to Mal.

"Well then," Mal says. "I can see now I made the right decision in all this."


"It's been near on a year you and your dear sister have been with us here. It's time you move on. We both know it is."

Simon scowls. "Mal. You're not listening. River and I. We weren't the ones who ruined the plan. We did everything you said, right to the letter." He runs a hand through his hair and it spikes up for a moment before settling back where it was. "It was Zoe. Since Miranda she hasn't been-"

"Shut your mouth now or I'll-"

"You'll what?"

Letting out a heavy sigh, Mal grips the strap of his suspenders. "Don't you put Zoe in on this. She did nothing-"

"Exactly! She didn't do her part. It wasn't us." Simon stares defiantly at the Captain. "I like Zoe and I want to be here to help her. She needs someone here to talk to and god knows it won't be you. I can't help though if I'm on some piece of crap rock in the middle of nowhere."

Mal snorts.

"Stop blaming me for Zoe's mistake and let me help. Kicking us off for what happened will do no one here any good."

"Yeah?" Mal says. "Well, it'll do me a whole lotta good, that's for sure."

"You're still going to do it, aren't you?" Simon stares at him, not with sadness or anger or regret but disappointment. It sends shards of something through Mal, but Mal has felt plenty and so he brushes it away easily.

"You got til morning to pack your things and be on your merry."

"Of course," Simon says.

Mal nods and turns to leave.

"Of course you'd run at the first sign of trouble. Fights, you can deal with. They are physical and you're good at that. Anything that focuses on your emotions though, you run from." Simon runs his tongue over his lips. "Someday you're going to have to slow down and you'll see what you've left behind."

"Maybe so," Mal agrees. "But that's my life you're talkin' about and my choice. Goodbye, Simon."

Simon doesn't answer and rather, shakes his head in disbelief and storms off.

"I'm sorry," Mal's voice echoed uselessly behind him.