Even Roses Have Thorns, chapter ten
Thursday, December 21, 2006

Simon and Zoe bond. Inara gets to the bottom of the situation with Kaylee. PG13. Canon pairings. Positive feedback perfered.


Chapter Ten: Ex gratia (purely as a favour)

*** *** *** The first two chapters are here: three and four:, five:, six:, seven:, eight: and nine is *** *** ***

Simon went out of his way to find Zoë. It wasn’t hard, as she was sitting in the lounge, reading some paperwork – not a hard place to find, but certainly, a hard place to imagine finding Zoë, mid-morning. “Ah, Zoë, mind if I join you?”

“No. Something on your mind?” She looked up from her papers. He wasn’t trying to glance at them, but she hid them anyway.

“I just wanted to say thank you for last night, I knew it was coming of course, but ah, it’s just so hard to, ah, plan … for … adequately.”

Zoë smiled at his choice of wording. “You did alright.”

Simon stared at her. “No, I didn’t. River was shouting so much when you came in… that you thought I was… you know, my sister.”

Zoë tried not to look too sheepish. “You noticed, huh?”

“Yeah – and I’m sorry that’s what you woke up to.” Simon knew he couldn’t add ‘and I’m sorry that I frightened you’ because that just wasn’t something he could say to Zoë.

“No, that’s not your fault.”

“So, I just came by to say thank you.”

Zoë smiled. “You can get me back later.” She patted her abdomen.

Simon asked wryly, “Never do today what you pay forward fifteen years?”

“You really did do ok. She told me what you said. She was very excited about the present. Didn’t want to guess what it was.” Zoë raised an eyebrow, curious.

“Oh! Earrings. Garnet. Red may not have been the best choice, in retrospect.”

Zoë snorted with laughter. “I haven’t thought about this is in… years, I guess. My first period, I was not quite twelve; little bit early, not too much. And being vessel side, my schoolin’ was a bit sporadic, so I didn’t have a clue – not a clue – no older sisters or girl cousins on board. I thought I was dying, ran crying for my Momma. Couldn’t find her anywhere. So, I thought all this blood coming out a me, I’d be dead soon, like from gun fire, you know?” She paused, and Simon nodded. “Couldn’t find my Daddy either, and I wanted ‘em so bad. Finally, decided just to tell the first adult I could find. Cryin’ my eyes out now… so the first adult is this old hand, guess about half way ‘tween Mal and Jayne, personality-wise... you get the picture. Cryin’ so hard, telling him I’m bleedin’, I’m dying, finally he figures it out, and just picks me up. Now, I was always tall, and he was no Jayne, but he carried me up to the bridge where the pilot was – and she being a the first woman aboard he thought of, just quietly handed me off with the words – my hand to heaven – ‘wimmin troubles’. So of course the pilot understood, and handled things fine, but Momma and Daddy were so mad at each other after that… still don’t know why – both got off lucky, was the pilot had to bite the bullet.”

They were both laughing. “Well, um, boys don’t get that particular drama, but uh, we do, you know, mess the sheets our own way.” Simon glanced at Zoë, who nodded understanding with a tight smile on her face. “I didn’t dare tell my parents, tried to hand wash the sheets before putting them the laundry – they must have been soaking wet and completely obvious to the staff, but of course, I though I was so clever, and of course, I would have just died if I thought anybody knew. So, was in pre-med at the time, and I eventually worked out what had happened, and the facts of life – as told from a uniquely urologist and OBGYN perspective,” at this, Zoë laughed really hard at Simon’s pen picture. Simon paused, and looked serious for a moment, but Zoë could see the laughter was still in his eyes. “So, no word from my parents. Not one. Finally, on my eighteenth birthday, Father takes me aside to give me ‘the talk’. I thought – I don’t know what I thought. It was just… not the kind of thing we talked about. Finally I stammered out ‘I’ve been in medacad for two years!’ and he said ‘Good talk’ and walked away!”

“Good talk?” Zoë was holding her sides.

“I know… who says that? He must have been watching cowboy films right before and thought it sounded so… capably masculine.” Zoë was still laughing, but now, no sound came out, because she was laughing so hard.


Kaylee knocked on Inara’s shuttle. “Come in, Mei-mei!” Inara called through the door, and Kaylee stepped through and sank unto the couch. Inara was sympathetic; Kaylee was definitely in ‘the miseries’ for the past week.

“Didcha see the pretties River had on at breakfast?”

“The earrings? Yes. Really lovely.” Inara poured tea, it was practically a reflex. Once she’d had a particularly vivid dream that she’d slept walked, and done the Companion tea ceremony… given that everything seemed to be undisturbed when she’d awoken, she’d had to conclude that really was a dream, even if she would never be completely sure.

“She told me Simon gave them to her.” Kaylee said, hurt welling up in her voice.

“I suppose he would have had to, Mei-mei. I didn’t, you didn’t, I can’t see Zoë doing it, and Mal or Jayne wouldn’t, for no particular reason.” Inara actually had known; she’d asked River about them after breakfast and been told that Simon had given them to her, and why; still, the girl had asked Inara not to say anything, and it was not in Inara’s nature to break a confidence.

“Do you think they were for me?” the mechanic blurted out.

“No… why do you think that?”

“It’s not her birthday yet, no reason to give ‘em to her.”

“That’s not a reason not to, either, Mei-mei.”

“I know… just, I ben thinkin’, what if he got ‘em for me, but you know, won’t give ‘em to me now, and decided to give ‘em River? And do you think I was meant to know, kinda like, to torment me?”

Inara suddenly felt unbelievably trapped. She knew that wasn’t the case, but how to tell Kaylee without breaking River’s confidence? She prevaricated. “I doubt that Simon would ever *try* to torment you, Kaylee, no matter how good at it he might inadvertently be. Maybe he was just being spontaneous.”

“Ain’t never spontaneous with me!” Inara sighed inwardly. It was going to be difficult to get this latest slight off of Kaylee’s mind.

Mal eventually came and sent Kaylee to the engine room, and Inara immediately took the opportunity to go to River, who was half-folded and half-curled into the pilot’s chair. “River, may I join you?” the Companion spoke from the doorway.

“Please.” The girl indicted the co pilot’s chair with a sweep of her eyes.

“You, ah – do you know why I’ve come?”

“To talk to me.”

“But you know about what?”

“Because if I didn’t you couldn’t tell me.”

“Yes.” Inara answered plainly.

“I know.” The girl met Inara’s eyes.

“Could you perhaps tell Kaylee? I know it’s private, but she’s really hurting.”

“And utterly paranoid.”

“Well, hurt and thus, perhaps, at little unreasonable at the moment.”

“You can tell her. Tell her you asked me and I told you.”

That agreement had been reached so quickly surprised Inara. Puzzled, she asked, “If you don’t mind Kaylee knowing, why didn’t you just tell her when she asked this morning?”

River turned back to the console and adjusted some buttons before turning back and answering. “Because she needs to learn that just because she’s afraid of something doesn’t make it true. Her assumptions aren’t facts.”

Realisation dawned. “You knew that she’d… ”

“Assume the worst? Yes. There are no shadows without sunlight.”

“River,” Inara’s tone was admonishing. “That was unkind. Kaylee is your friend.”

“And now she’ll learn that her fears were unwarranted. Couldn’t figure out how to do it until this morning.”

“And I couldn’t figure out how to do it at all. Still, it seems a little harsh.”

“I feel bad about that.” River said, and Inara felt a bit better. “But only a little.”


Thursday, December 21, 2006 1:59 PM


Once again, thank you all for your wonderful comments. I hope you enjoy.

To Leiasky: I would say mea culpa, but it really isn't my fault. Next chapter, I'm sure they will talk. They kind of have to, now, right?

To BEB: I left an explaination of my logic in the comment section of chap. 9.

Thursday, December 21, 2006 2:53 PM


I really liked Simon and Zoe's talk.

Kaylee jumping to conclusions was soooo wonderfully in character as well. That whole conversation was just nicely done.

I hope the two of them work out their issues soon. I like angst, but I do like eventual resolution as well! :)

Thursday, December 21, 2006 4:46 PM


Yes, SImon and Kaylee need to talk.

Simon and Zoe though was just perfect!

Thursday, December 21, 2006 8:26 PM


I remember when my dad gave me "the talk." I was in 8th grade at the time, so I'd had the public school version of it already. But dad was undeterred. He drew pictures. I nearly died laughing. "Good talk", indeed.

What's up with Kaylee? Now she's inventing totally random reasons to worry. Her paranoia is going to get so bad that she'll never believe Simon, even if he does talk to her. Time for River to stop playing God and intervene, I think. Turning Kaylee into a pile of gibbering goo isn't going to solve anything either.

Thursday, December 21, 2006 8:28 PM


Ooooo ... Simon's been the model of restraint, but Kaylee's really wallowing in the pity party. If he hears that she thinks those earrings were really meant for her, he may finally lose his temper. Even River is irritated with her.

I doubt Kaylee's going to quit the wallowing until the two of them have a screamfest extraordinaire and I don't know if Simon can be provoked by her into losing his control.

Like the continued Simon/Zoe that's going on.

Saturday, December 23, 2006 11:24 AM


Never seeking out your logic, girlfan. Just givin' ya props for tackling an issue I doubt most of us care to or choose to investigate for one reason or another;)

And I gotta agree with River somewhat. Kaylee needs to be shown that her paranoia is plain foolihs lest she has more proof than the obscenely circumstantial fei hua she's cartin' 'round. Though I also agree with ManicGiraffe about River intervening so things don't completely go to pot;)

Still...maybe a massive emotional slobberknocker would be the best thing for Simon and Kaylee. Simon's the kind of guy who plays close to vest, even with Kaylee's efforts. And for all of Kaylee's positive attributes, forgiveness and understanding do not rank amongst her best skills, especially when someone is slanging her or her "family" (i.e. the crew or Serenity)...


Saturday, December 23, 2006 11:37 AM


Wow, still getting comments.

You guys really do know how to make a girl feel shiny :)

Chapter 11 soon (probably tonight!)

How often should I be posting? Is it important to be regular? If so, I'm really sorry that I'm not, and I will try better.


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