Simon doesn't touch her the way he touches Kaylee.
Hand at the small of her back, leading her to the dinner table, is chaste. He brushes her hair back from her face as he tucks her in for the night, long fingers cool against her forehead. His fingers still carry her scent. He swims in memories of her—he doesn't think she sees, but she does. Even when they are apart, they are together. They carry pieces of each other in their pockets.
Simon doesn't think she understands, but she does.
He is everything she has. And he found her broken. He needs someone whole, someone who looks at him and sees him and not everything he was, or everything he could be. Who he is, now. Who she makes him.
She was everything he had, but now he's taken more. Taken Kaylee to his bed. Taken her touch, her mouth, her heart, her soft cries in the night as he strokes her hair. Strokes her. Taken all the pieces and made them whole and stronger then they were before.
Simon doesn't treat her the way he treats Kaylee.
He's ice, and cool summer breezes as he rouses her from sleep, takes her blood and searches for her secrets. He's the smell of roses on the wind as he takes her hand and guides her down the stairs, not trusting her bare feet to know the way even though she could close her eyes and tell him the location of every rivet in the ship's deckplates. Every scuffed coupling or joining that keeps her flying.
He's fire that melts snow and burns when he touches Kaylee. Sweat slides down his neck as he braces her up against the wall, face buried in her hair as they rock against one another. They think she doesn't know—can't see. But it's in their eyes, as they brush hands at the dinner table. It's in their voices as they sit side by side in the lounge, heads bent close together, voices low. All the clothes are stripped away by hungry eyes, memory sharper and clearer than the now.
Simon doesn't kiss her the way he kisses Kaylee.
Lips brush her forehead as he powers down the lights in her quarters, lips curved in a smile. A mother's kiss, from her dà gē. Keeps her safe. Keeps her warm. Mother and father have forsaken them, so they must play their parts, alternating as it suits them. It's only half a game.
He doesn't push her back up against the pillows, tongue sliding between her lips. She doesn't twine her fingers in his hair, holding her closer to him. Melt into him, their breath mingling, hot and sweet.
She doesn't wrap her legs around his waist and grind herself against him. He doesn't spill himself into her. He doesn't cry her name into her hair like a prayer.
She doesn't wake with his arms wrapped around her, leg thrown over hers in a casual and unconscious pose of total possession.
Simon doesn't love her the way he loves Kaylee.
Murmured words of care and affection, backed up by the unshakeable and certain knowledge that he would could should kill for her—use those hands to hurt instead of heal, if she needed him to.
Devotion. Pure. Agape.
He would die for her.
But he lives for Kaylee. He laughs for her. He smiles for her. He looks for her first, when he steps into any room. He moves to her side without thinking. Without noticing whose side he's leaving.
Devotion. Pure. Eros.
He's her brother, and he loves her.
But it's not the same.
dà gē elder brother (formal)