Even Roses Have Thorns, chapter six
Monday, December 18, 2006

Simon and Kaylee fight. :( I really don't know where that came from.


Chapter Six: Experientia docet stultos (experience teaches fools)

*** *** *** The first two chapters are here: three and four are here: and five is here: *** *** ***

Simon and Inara walked from the infirmary to the engine room together. Inara was always observant, ever watchful – it was her training. She could no more stop that than Simon could stop worrying about the health of the crew. Still, Simon’s stiffness told her that, among other things, he was aware of that… and not particularly enjoying the thought at the moment.

‘May as well break the ice,’ she thought. “Simon,” she said in a quiet but conversational tone, “there’s no need to feel so… like a zoo specimen. Serenity has an observant crew, all of us in our own way – you included. People will notice less if you stop acting suspicious around us.”

“I just don’t want to be the subject of rumours.” He looked toward her. “I’m not saying that Kaylee shouldn’t have spoken to you, I’m glad that she has you to confide in. But what you think of me isn’t really any of my business.”

Of course Simon would have guessed that Kaylee would go to her. “Ah, touché. Well, I don’t think anything bad about you, in case you’re curious. I don’t think anyone will, particularly.”

Simon’s eyebrow shot up to the far reaches of his forehead. “Yes they will, Inara. They already do.”

“Well, it’s not like Mal’s going to shoot you.”

Simon considered this. “I suppose as heart wounds go, this type isn’t generally fatal.” His serious tone was almost morose.

“Simon,” Inara made her voice gentle. “Do you have… anyone to confide in, as you would say?”

“Well, there’s River.”

“And you do talk?”

He looked away. “It’s actually rather more efficient than talking. I think sad thoughts, and River makes faces at me.” He paused, and caught Inara’s eye. “We’ve always been very close – no need for words.”

She knew that his sarcasm was intended to cover his loneliness, and she didn’t really know how to answer either; nonetheless, as they had talked, Simon had lost most of his extra stiffness. They walked in silence the rest of the way.

When they arrived at the door, Mal and Jayne were only just leaving. Inara smiled, pleased to have someone else to talk to. “So late! Did you two enjoy yourselves?”

Mal glanced toward Jayne with an amused look. Jayne was almost hyper. “Ya know, ‘Nara, it’s like Kaylee says – ain’t too hard when you think of it as carin’ for a really big gun.”

“The engine?” Inara tried to hide her own amusement.

Mal added in a conspiratorial stage whisper, “Even better – there are explosions.” Inara did laugh at that.

“Ha ha ha. You’ll see. Just like a really BIG gun.” Jayne said to Inara, before he wandered off.

Mal looked at Jayne’s departing back, and asked Inara, mock-seriously, “Do you think we should warn Vera about Jayne’s cheating heart?” He gestured with his head. “Best you two get in there. Can’t have you holding up River and Zoë.”

“Of course not,” Inara smiled, and swept into the engine room.

Kaylee was immediately taken aback. “’Nara, you can’t wear that playin’ with the engine!”

“Will I be playing with the engine today, Mei-mei?” Inara’s tone of amusement hadn’t worn off.

“Well, you’re not gonna learn anything if ya don’t touch the workin’s.” Kaylee looked at her friend appraisingly. “Git. Go to my bunk and change into a spare pair a’ coveralls.”

“Is it really necessary, Kaylee?”

Kaylee looked at Inara as if she’d suddenly gone half-mad. “Cap’n said ya only gotta do this if yer willin’ ‘Nara, but I ain’t ruining nothing so fine.”

“Very well, Mei-mei,” Inara said indulgently. “Don’t start without me.”

*** Elsewhere on the ship, River couldn’t help but roll her eyes, even though, like the tree falling unheard in the forest, no one was there. ***

As Inara walked off, Simon realised that he was going to have to make conversation – alone – with Kaylee again. He knew that it shouldn’t be hard; he also knew that it would be.

“The waffles were nice.”

“You helped me make ‘em.”

“Not really. I – ah – mostly watched.”

“Don’t gotta be awkward Simon.” Kaylee turned to the engine to tinker. Her voice verged on not-quite-hurt. Simon knew from experience that full-blown-hurt was only a moment and a mouthful of words away. He tried to avert it.

“Right. So… are you enjoying teaching class?”


He should have stopped there, but River had warned him that if he didn’t make things awkward, that they wouldn’t have to be; it didn’t occur to him immediately that silence might be less awkward. “I was surprised to see that Jayne enjoyed the lesson so much.”

“He’s not a dummy, Simon! Ain’t his fault he ain’t over educated!”

“Kaylee, I didn’t say anything like that!”

“Yes you did, you are always making fun a’ Jayne, lookin’ down on him ‘cause he’s Rim.” Her voice went tight and her eyes narrowed.

“No I don’t!”

“Yes you do!” the mechanic shouted.

“Kaylee, I don’t have anything against people from the Rim. This boat is populated with them – I don’t – look, I’m the one constantly being harassed for being too Core. Not Inara, not River. Let’s stop pretending that this is Core versus Rim. This is you thinking that I look down on you and your friends and your family and your home, and you don’t trust me enough to believe me when I say I don’t!” His voice was getting louder too.

“You act like I’m a whore!”

“What? Where the hell did this come from? That word has never passed my lips, Kaylee.”

“You think all I care about is spreadin’ and sexin’! You don’t think I’m any kinda lady.”

Inara, unnoticed, returned from her trip to change clothes. She had hurried, so not to waste time, and was shocked at how quickly the conversation had turned bad. They’d seemed fine, if a little forced, together at breakfast.

Simon’s voice went quiet, and totally cold. “If you think that, I don’t understand why you’d even want to talk to me.”

Inara decided to intervene. “Mei-mei, I don’t think that Simon…” she began soothingly but Simon interrupted. His voice was very formal.

“Thank you Inara, but there’s no need to speak on my behalf. In any case, you’ve arrived, and I’m sure it would be best if we just got on with the class.”

“I ain’t teachin’ you! I ain’t talkin’ to you!” Kaylee’s voice erupted in angry disbelief.

“That’s a matter to discuss with the Captain, Kaylee, it has nothing to do with me.”

“Well, I’m tossin’ you outta my engine room, and that’s something to do with you!” She tossed her head and pointed at the door.

“Good day, then, ladies.” Simon pointedly left, but inside, under the anger, he was shaking. He could almost deal with Kaylee’s childishness – after all, he knew that she easily riled and that he didn’t exactly have a way with her – but he hadn’t been so hurt in years. That she might actually think *that* of him, was just beyond his comprehension. He knew that he should go to the Captain or Zoë about the missed class, but he just couldn’t face the idea of looking like he was tattling on her. He went to sit in his room. River joined him almost immediately, without even a hint of a knock. She curled up next to him, but gave him one of her ‘boob’ looks. “River, please. Everyone always takes her side.” He sighed. “And we were having such a nice morning.”

“You got weird.”

“That’s no excuse for what she said, River.”

“You hurt her feelings.”

“No, see, River that’s exactly what I didn’t do. I didn’t hurt her feelings, she hurt them all by herself this time.”

“And then she hurt yours?”

“River, this isn’t an appropriate…”

“See, this is why I make faces.” Her eyes willed him to remember his earlier comment.

“I’m sorry, you’re right.” He pulled her close to him, and kissed the top of her head. “I want things to be friendly between us, but when she gets all – riled – I guess, I just can’t deal with it. I don’t know what to say. Half the time I can’t manage to talk to her when she’s happy. What am I supposed to say when she wants to pick a fight?”

“‘I’m sorry, you’re right’?” River pulled a passable ‘Simon’ face. He laughed, but not much.

“I can’t say that when what she’s saying is that I think she’s…” Simon hesitated. He really didn’t want to say it.

“A doxy? Floozy? Harlot? Strumpet? Tart?” River supplied.

“Loose woman, I suppose.”

“You didn’t even notice that I listed them alphabetically.” River pretended to pout.

“That’s… true.” He looked at his hands. “Why does she think I think that?”

“She doesn’t. She just worries that you do.”

“But why? I’ve never not treated her like a lady – that’s the one thing I’ve never not done.”

“You’re talking like Mal now.”

“Well, we have been here for nine months.”

“I meant, like whining about Inara.”

“What? River, he… he uses that word all the time!”

“Good point. Bad analogy.” She sighed. “Simon, it comes down to this: trust isn’t earned, in the end, it’s given freely, or it’s not. She loves you, but she doesn’t trust you.”

“Because I’ve hurt her too many times?”

“No. You haven’t *broken* her trust, she just hasn’t given it to you yet.”

“What can I do to earn it?”

“What did I just say? You can’t earn trust; it’s the wrong word to use. I trusted you to help me when I was stuck in the academy – afterwards, you proved yourself worthy of it, but it wasn’t earned – it was just there. Awarded. Given freely… and until she stops worrying that she’s a bimbo, she’ll never believe that you would think that of her. Just like until you stop worrying that you’ll never be able to give her what she wants, you’ll never believe that you can give it to her.”

“River, I know what she’s said.”

“She knows what you’ve said too.”


Mal’s head popped unannounced around the doorframe; Simon could see Zoë standing behind him, her hands on her belt. “What are you doin’ in here Doctor? I’m sure that you’re supposed to be in the engine room; it’s not like I can keep you out of there when you’re supposed to be elsewhere.”

Simon’s lips pressed together mostly automatically.

“I had a quarrel with Kaylee. She threw me out of the engine room.”

“It’s not her engine room to throw you out of!” “With respect Captain, if I asked her to leave the infirmary, I would hope she would do so.”

“’Cause it’s your happy place?”

“No, because fighting is not conductive to surgery – or, I suspect, engine maintenance, though the class didn’t actually get that far.” Simon’s tone had become acerb again.

Unexpectedly, Zoë intervened. “There’s nothing wrong with either of your hearing, but I think you’re both hard of listening. Not you, Sir.” She paused. “Simon, people fight. Doesn’t matter whether you’re at fault, go apologise to the girl.”

Simon was going to argue the point, but then he realised – if he lost Kaylee – suddenly – like Zoë lost Wash – it wouldn’t matter to him that she’d never said she was sorry – only that he hadn’t. His voice was low when he answered. “I’m not courting her anymore. I just want us to be friends.”

Zoë remained impassive. “All the more reason. Sir, I’ve got some first-mate-y things to discuss with you on the bridge.”

Normally Mal would just follow, but he turned to her and asked, “Can it wait?”

River spoke up. “Deliberation of jurisdiction. The husband is head of the house, but the wife is head of the table.” From behind Mal, Zoë smiled at the archaic reference. Mal did not.

“Lil’ albatross…” his tone was warning.

“It’s alright, Sir. She wasn’t talking about you and me. She was talking about you and Simon and Kaylee. The ship is your house, but your doctor and your mechanic have to their authority respected in their own areas.”

River nodded. “Like the gods of old.” Zoë nodded in return, and left Mal standing there; with one final look at the siblings, he turned and stalked off.

River turned to Simon. “That went well.”

Simon put his head on his knees. “Yeah. I’d better go find Kaylee. She still mad?”

River thought for a moment. “As hell.”

Simon kissed his sister again and stood. “Oh good. I intend to grovel.”


Monday, December 18, 2006 11:31 AM


Thank you again for the shiney comments on previous chapters.

For the shippers, it's not all angst. I'm nearly sure. I really didn't expect them to do that.

Is shippers the right word?

Monday, December 18, 2006 11:38 AM


I think this is a really interesting take on Simon and Kaylee and I am anxious to see where else you take them.

I like your moment with Simon and River as well - especially Simon's comment to Inara that "talking" to River is more efficient - I think sad thoughts. She makes faces. - that was absolutely priceless!

Monday, December 18, 2006 12:22 PM


Interesting direction you're taking the story. Hopefully with this 'fight', you'll have each of them grow up a bit and realize that they're happier together than apart.

Monday, December 18, 2006 12:40 PM


I totally understand Simon's problems here. He didn't start it - in fact, he did a damn good job of NOT making it worse by saying something dumb - and now he's the one who has to apologize. I feel his pain: every few weeks my marriage consists of:

"I'm sorry, honey."
"What for?"
"I was hoping you'd tell me since I'm apologizing..."

May I ask a favor? Don't let Kaylee off the hook! You've done an excellent job promoting how unreasonable she gets where Simon's opinion is concerned (which I find a greatd eparture from the standard "boobness" from Simon, and we have ample evidence of this behavior from the show). Have him beat her over the head with it a bit - relationships take two people working together, and Kaylee needs to own up to her half.

And it does sound like River is poking Simon in the direction Kaylee wanted, anyway. She makes a good point about trust: you can't earn it if the other person isn't willing to give. Maybe River should be over talking to Kaylee, too?

Monday, December 18, 2006 12:44 PM


P.S. Sorry I keep commenting so much, but you've maanged to do what I've been trying to figure out - a S/K fight where SIMON is actually the "right" party for once. I couldn't think of anything bad enough Kaylee could do, but it appears you have. This tickles me.

Monday, December 18, 2006 1:16 PM


I think Kaylee's ready defence of Jayne (even when Simon wasn't saying anything derogatory about him) is more a matter or her own insecurity, her own fear that Simon thinks she is too Rim-folk as if that makes her inferior to his core-bred standing. Yet, note how she doesn't hold the same warped mirror to Inara. Sad that Simon has to apologise, personally I would leave her to sort herself out not run round after her which will just make her even more convinced that she is right. A little humility all round oils all manner of awkward situations. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, December 18, 2006 2:09 PM


Gotta's mighty refreshing to see Simon actually be the "victim" in a fight with Kaylee. Cuz the series often had him in the role of offending party (even if it was subsconsciously) and thinking back on it? It wasn't quite fair. Simon did act like a boob, but Kaylee went off a tad bit too easily and for occasionally manipulative reasons, so it's fabulous to see Simon being the aggrieved person this time;)

Not sure how I feel about Simon needing to apologize though. He and Kaylee need to get to neutral/friendly terms to rebuild and strengthen their relationship (making the upcoming apology necessary), but Kaylee has had a fugging monopoly of being the victim and she has begun to abuse it. I personally would have advised Simon to let Kaylee cool off and make another attempt at being civil and friendly towards her while letting Kaylee reflect on her own hang-ups;)


Monday, December 18, 2006 6:38 PM


Don't much like Kaylee, what with what she said. Don't much like River, or Zoe for suggesting Simon go apologize for something he hasn't done. Don't much like Simon for going to apologize for something he knows he didn't do.

Simon, if these are folks he considers friends, needs to leave the boat.

Write more soon!

Monday, December 18, 2006 10:34 PM


no way - i'm with kaylee! simon asked her to marry him but it wasn't sincere - i mean, kaylee's right, he shouldn't have asked if he wasn't willing to put her first. that's what marriage is - and why its different from just goin' steady! and what's this crap about just wanting to be friends - typical man! you can't just go back. he's showing her that he doesn't care enough about her or their relationship to even want to try to make it work or contemplate for more than a short time about his relationship to kaylee in regard to river.

aaahh... i love a good fanfic debate! and i love the fics that spawn the debates! can't wait to see how it plays out.


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Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapters 46-50
All already posted before, just posted together for convience of new and (re) readers. Overall rating NC-17; this applies to all chapters in this grouping, for violence, non-con, death, extreme angst (hurt w/o comfort) and generalised squickiness. Canon pairings +1 (River/ofc). Postive comments perfered; any cease and desists recieved will be complied with, and shown off at parties.

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The BIG DAMN Rescue. Some revenge, some poetic justice. Very narrator pov, but I like it. Hey, it worked for Dickens. NC17 to be on the safe side, but mostly implied. Canon pairings +1 (River/ofc).

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Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Forty-Seven
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Simon's point of view, in his time of dying. NC17.

Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapters 41-45
All already posted before, just posted together for convience of new and (re) readers. Overall rating NC-17; this applies to all chapters in this grouping, for violence, non-con, death, extreme angst (hurt w/o comfort) and generalised squickiness. Canon pairings +1 (River/ofc). Postive comments perfered; any cease and desists recieved will be complied with, and shown off at parties.