He tried not to dwell to often, however Simon still sometimes found himself thinking of the life he would have had if he hadn’t rescued River. Of course not in a scenario where he chose not to extract her from the Alliance facility deemed “The Academy” but a hypothetical world where she had never even caught wind of this imaginary perfect school. Usually it was when he showered, or snuggled with Kaylee. Even worse when his imagination would present him with sweet thoughts of doing more with her than sitting on the couch and talking, only to tense in fear and anxiety. Such sweet thoughts met with not pleasure but pain and feelings of being broken, incomplete, and inadequate. She surely knows, but he’d never tell River how hard it was bidding farewell to an opportunity he’d waited a lifetime for. An elite alliance medical job wasn’t the only thing he kissed goodbye when he left his wealthy life behind. He was also a mere two weeks from a surgery that would make his body feel like his own.
When it pained him though he would push the sweet thoughts of closeness away, and replace them with safe thoughts that were just as tender. Thoughts of Kaylee’s smile, and the sound of her voice, especially the sound of her going on about her passion. He’d take a breath and imagine her hand in his and the look on her face as she fed him a strawberry. Then he’d remind himself why he left his life behind. His baby sister needed him, to leave wasn’t even a choice, it was never a matter of “should I?” or “could I?” it was only how and when. He would take a deep breath and feel all the love in his life. The incomparable closeness with his precious River, the thrilling sensation of the love that grew between him and Kaylee, the trust and comradery he felt towards Mal, and the friendships with the Shepard and Inara, even the silently growing mutual respect between him and Jane. He was never meant to be “Dr Tam Chief of Medicine” he was just Simon the big brother and medic aboard Serenity. He would then place his hands over his binder comforted by the flatness “someday” he’d sigh and smile.