Even Roses Have Thorns, chapters 14 and 15
Monday, January 1, 2007

Mal and Inara set up the job; Jayne and Kaylee bond. Canon pairings. These chapters are rated PG, just in case. Positive feedback perfered.


Even Roses Have Thorns

*** *** *** Chapters 1-10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13 *** *** ***

Chapter Fourteen: Gladiator in arena consilium capit (the gladiator is formulating his plan in the arena, which is to say, too late)

Inara composed her face to its most relaxed and (supposedly) unguarded mask as she waited for the connection to open to Durran Haymer.

“Mr. Haymer. How do you do? I am Companion Inara Serra.”

“Miss Serra.” Haymer nodded bluntly, but wary rather than rude. “I am well. How are you?”

“I am also well, thank you.”

“Miss Serra, I am uncertain of how to state this, but if you have heard that I am in the market for a Companion, this is not currently the case.”

Inara smiled. “What I have heard is that you were in the market for this Companion to act as a broker for an antique of some value to you.”

Haymer shifted visibly on his chair. “Indeed. I had hoped to be more discreet, but I should have guessed that you would have the resources to establish that I am indeed the buyer. It’s true. I would like the Lassiter back, and I am willing to pay a considerable sum for it.”

To Inara’s trained eyes, Haymer read as – if uncomfortable – at least uncomfortably open and honest. Vulnerable. ‘Why in the name of earth that was would Haymer be vulnerable?’ She let the question slide from the forefront of her mind as she formulated her next response.

“I am certainly willing to do all I can to help you to acquire the piece.”

Inara noted that Haymer seemed to visibly relax at this. Again, the question ‘Why?’ could not be avoided. Inara kept the puzzled frown of her mind from appearing on her face.

“I believe the piece is currently the property of one Captain Malcolm Reynolds, of the vessel Serenity. Unless there are two such vessels, I would assume that it is the ship you have contracted your shuttle from.” ‘An odd choice of words,’ Inara mused. ‘Not, currently in the possession of?’ But Haymer continued to talk, cutting off her train of thought. “I understand that a Guild fee will apply for this service, which I am happy to pay you now, if you wish.”

“That would fine.”

“Transmitting now.”

Inara glanced, momentarily, elsewhere on her screen. “Received. Thank you.” Inara paused again. “What offer would you like me to make on your behalf to Captain Reynolds?”

“Three-quarters of a million credits.”

“I’ll be in touch.”

Haymer nodded again, this time with greater ease, and cut the comm. Inara pulled the curtain down over her screen, before she turned her attention to Mal and Zoë, seated out of direct sight of the vid pick up.

Mal spoke up. “It’s worth more. Do you think he expects us to bargain up for it?”

Inara shrugged. “It’s worth more to him, and possibly to others, but not to you, and if you can’t sell it, it’s not worth gose.” She regarded Mal seriously for a moment. “What do you think he was talking about? He didn’t sound like someone trying to buy back his own stolen property. ‘Currently the property of?’ why acknowledge it as your property? It’s your possession, but it’s still his property, you only stole it.”

Mal looked like he wanted to argue, but in the privacy of the shuttle, and just the three of them, it wasn’t worth it. “I know. Doesn’t seem right, does it? Do you think it’s some kind of trap?”

Silent up until now, Zoë finally spoke, slow and quiet. “What if, Sir, you never stole it?” Mal and Inara looked at her like she’d gone space mad. “What if it was a gift to you from his wife?”

“Zoë, that woman’s been married to everyone. No way she can make her marriage to Haymer stick, even if the guy wasn’t some Alliance poster boy.”

“What if she doesn’t have to, Sir? From what you said, it did seem he loved her.”

“Yeah…” Mal looked thoughtful. “He did. Wanted to help her. Knew she was crazy. Still, she’s crazy-dangerous. You’d have to be crazy yourself to trust her.”

Zoë and Inara just sat very still and avoided glancing at each other.

Mal sighed. “Yes, I do know what that says about me.”

“No-one’s sayin’ he trusts her, Sir. Just that he loves her – maybe he wants to help her. We can understand that, Sir.”

Inara nodded, understanding immediately where Zoë was going with her train of thought. She spoke, almost to herself. “Not so very unlike Simon and River.”

*** River half-strolled, half-danced into the lounge where Simon was curled up.

“You don’t mind, Simon?” River asked her brother as he carefully stitched Zoë’s – Wash’s? – Zoë’s pants.

“Why would I mind, Mei-mei?” Simon’s tone indicated some perplexity, but he didn’t look up from his careful stitches.

“Because I told Zoë you would help before asking you.” Simon hadn’t looked up, so he didn’t see, but River was quietly biting her lip and looking at her hands.

“Zoë told me that you’d said that I could help, not that I would help.” He looked up and smiled at his sister. “Or was our fearless first mate covering for my naughty little sister?”

It was River’s turn to be puzzled, but it was momentary. “I did say ‘could’, yes.” She drawled, before continuing honestly. “But I meant ‘would’.”

“You didn’t say it River. That’s what really matters.”

“I answered her question before she asked it.”

“That’s going to happen, sometimes, Mei-mei.” Simon spoke gently.

“I want to be a real girl!”

“You are a real girl. You have the earrings to prove it.”

“Ugh, Simon!” She frowned at her older brother. “You know that’s not what I meant.”

Simon looked down and added a few more stitches while he thought about what to say. River waited in companionable silence until he looked up and spoke again. “It’s going to take practice. And for what it’s worth, all teenagers practice – it’s mostly what being a teenager is for, Mei-mei. Practicing to be an adult. Making mistakes. Deciding who you want to be. Learning who you are and who you will be. Growing.”

“Grow or die.” River muttered.

“I guess that’s one way of putting it.” Simon turned his attention back to his work.


It seemed to Kaylee that Jayne really was beginning to get the hang of the engine’s workings. She’d begun, also, to see better how special she was, gifted, mechanically – though her father had always said so – as she was trying to teach Jayne. He was trying to learn, where to her it sort of came naturally. She couldn’t always explain it. It was an insight, too, into some of River’s frustration – knowing something that she couldn’t communicate easily to anyone else.

“Ya outta think about talking to the Cap’t, Jayne. Ya keep at this, you’ll be worth another bit of a percentage ta him, soon.” She added affectionately, “More ta Serenity, a’ course.”

Jayne didn’t look up from the part he was examining. “Ain’t gonna get extra Kaylee. Mal wants us all ta be able ta help out.”

That was true, Kaylee knew. But that Captain hadn’t meant anymore than ‘help out in an emergency that isn’t particularly hard to fix’ if his two hours of cross training was the standard used to judge it. Jayne was already well past that. Still, Kaylee didn’t know whether to say anything. He often didn’t have much to do between jobs, and she wondered if Jayne was perhaps lonely, or bored. She decided not to say anything. After all, he seemed to like working away at the engine, and she liked the company.

*** *** ***

Chapter Fifteen: Crudelius est quam mori semper timere mortem (it is more cruel to always fear death than to die)

“Would you perhaps like to try one of my robes?” Inara began carefully.

“No, thanks Inara.” Zoë stood. “I’ll take that as my cue to go see if Simon’s managed to alter Wash’s pants yet.” She left the shuttle with as much dignity as she could muster.

Mal watched as she left, before turning back to talk to Inara. “Brave girl, my Zoë. Always said that.”

“You do.”

“Still, that dress? Looks like she lost a bet.”

“Oh, come on, Mal! It’s not that bad.” Inara was surprised at his comment.

“I didn’t say bad, ‘Nara. But Zoë, wearing that dress? You know Zoë, you see her in that dress, you got ta wonder why. That’s all I’m saying.” He shifted his saucer a little.

“Well, it’s not as if you don’t know the answer. She’s pregnant, Mal.”

“She’s only a little bit pregnant.”

“You can’t just be a little bit pregnant.”

“You know what I mean.”

“I do. Some women just get bigger than others, and some do it faster. Zoë’s tall, she’ll likely have a big baby.”

“What sized babies do you think you’d make, ‘Nara?” Inara wasn’t entirely certain whether to classify his tone as playful or not.

“A woman’s first baby is usually about the same size she was when she was born. Later babies are usually bigger. I was nine pounds.”

“Nine pounds.” The Captain let out a low whistle. “And look at you now.”

“Well, yes, we all do grow,” Inara began. “As much as I love our… awkward and inane conversations, I really…”

Mal cut her off. “Do you really?”

“Really what?”

“Love our conversations?”

Inara was taken aback, and growing flustered. She knew that she shouldn’t let him get to her. “Well, yes… but…”

“But you’re gonna give me the polite ‘go away now’ excuse-me, aren’t ya?” His tone was quiet and almost friendly – she’d heard it before. ‘Truthsome’ he called it. She braced herself.

“Mal, please.”

“’Nara, no one in this shuttle but us. And I’ll leave if you want me to. But I don’t see why we can’t talk, even if we don’t do it so well. I wonder why that is?” His eyes swept away from hers for a moment before returning.

“For the same reasons Simon and Kaylee don’t do it so well.” She let it slip out; it wasn’t quite an accident.

“Yeah, I think so too.”


When Mal walked out of Inara’s shuttle later, he saw Jayne working out. That wasn’t unusual, and his brain barely noted it. As he came closer, however, his eye told his brain to turn around and take another look. He did. A man didn’t live long a life like his if he didn’t pay attention to his body’s instincts.

“Jayne, you provoke Kaylee?”

Jayne hooked his weights in their cradle and sat up. “Naw. Why?” He towelled his head a bit, oblivious to the grease coming off onto it.

“You look Kaylee cleaned the engine with you.”

“We did clean the engine.” Jayne was puzzled.

The Captain frowned a little. “What do you mean?”

“I mean we was cleaning the engine.

“I meant you looked like she used you as a rag to clean the engine.”

“Well, she did make me do some of ‘em hard to reach parts…” Jayne began defensively.

“Jayne, are you saying you helped Kaylee clean the engine?”

Jayne’s confusion deepened. “Yeah.”

“Zoë tell ya to?”

“No.” “Kaylee ask you to?”

“She mentioned she was doing it.”

“And you just offered to help.”

“Yeah. Like cleanin’ a gun.”

The comment jogged Mal’s memory. “You like helping Kaylee with the engine?”

Something in the deep, ancient part of Jayne’s brain, having no word for ‘airlock’ notified him as best it could of impending danger. Jayne proceeded with what little caution he could muster. “Yeah. She’s been teaching me bits an’ pieces like you said. Ain’t nothing untoward, Mal.”

“Huh.” Mal raised an eyebrow and walked off. Jayne couldn’t help but notice that it was in the general direction of the engine room.

When Mal arrived, Kaylee was lounging in her hammock.

“Hey Kaylee,” Mal announced himself as he walked in. “Just passed Jayne, looks like you’ve been putting him to good use.”

Kaylee looked a little guilty.

“He seemed to like it, Cap’t. Didn’t like to say no.”

“He asked if he could help?”

The girl shrugged. “Can’t remember. Why?”

“You can’t remember.” The Captain’s tone was incredulous.

“Na. Is it important? He’s been helpin’ out like you said.” Kaylee knew that she was fudging a little here, but the Captain was being weird, and Kaylee didn’t want anybody getting into trouble. The memory of cleaning cargo bay had not yet begun to fade.

“I did say that. Didn’t mean more than basic, though, Kaylee.”

“I think he likes it, Cap’t. It’s kinda nice spending time with Serenity and he don’t have much ta do between jobs.” Mal’s face softened slightly, and Kaylee remembered to put a good word in. “He’s gettin' good at it too, bit by bit. Soon you’ll have a second mechanic.”

“Ya serious, Kaylee? ‘Bout him being good, I mean.”

“Cross my heart, Captain. At least as good as Bester, real soon.” Mal was not reassured by this, but Kaylee didn’t notice. “Prolly better, with time. He realises the importance of keepin’ it clean. Won’t let nothin’ go tacky, jam up the workings.”


*** *** *** Chapter 16 *** *** ***


Monday, January 1, 2007 5:48 PM


The comment facility is once again damaging my calm.

Thank you to everyone who has commented. I really do love reading them.

Apologies to those who read the piece before the broken italic tag was fixed (first 5 or so readers). I hope it wasn't too distracting, and I hope you all enjoy.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007 12:21 AM


Are we heading towards Kaylee/Jayne?
I don't see Kaylee overreacting with Jayne as she seems to perceive herself as better, or cleverer, or more mechanically gifted than Jayne is and is comfortable with that. It'd be a mistake on her part to think it, mind you, as Jayne has his own gifts, but she's coming across as being more comfortable around him than she is with Simon.

The Haymer complication is a nice one. It makes sense that he'd want his gun back, but if he already knows who has it why would he not just turn 'em in?

Tuesday, January 2, 2007 4:01 AM


Not necessarily, though half the time -more than half the time - I can't get them to do what I expect, let alone what I want.

I really am just exploring the dynamics - romanitic, friendly, family - as best I can.

I will confess, since I know that some readers have strong relationship prefences, that I can read nearly anything, as long as it's vaguely plausable, and the characters sound close to the show (it's hard to get right).

I'm with whoever said on some thread here that any relationship is fair game as long as you take the time to get the characters to that place - vide Buffy/Spike.

This isn't a warning that I'm writing Kaylee/Jayne - I still think that I'm probably writing Kaylee/Simon - but I don't want to get cocky about it, Kaylee keeps doing things that I don't expect.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007 7:03 AM


Hmm...not sure I'm quite smelling the inevitablilty of Jaylee, yet. Honestly, it just seems like Kaylee's lonely.

Up until this whole incident, Kaylee could often be found hanging out with Simon, chattering away. Now she can't even go near the doc without ending up in a fight of some type. Mal, Zoe, River, and Inara have given her rather harsh advice on the whole deal, but Jayne has yet to voice an opinion to her (it's doubtful he even cares beyond "dammit someone's crying again"). He's literally the only person she can be around without walking on eggshells.

I agree that any relationship is fair game (that was me way back when on Chapter 2), but before Jayne goes a-swoopin', I'd like to see our current two anti-lovebirds make an honest effort at a resolution here (no, Kaylee, hopping into bed doesn't count as a resolution). River has apparently stopped running interference and Inara's advice has been given. Time for one of the two of them to make the heroic effort, put on the body armor, and bring the subject up - and for the other to slow down on their righteous fury long enough to think.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007 8:08 AM


"Kaylee, hopping into bed doesn't count as a resolution"

I was worried that maybe I was the only one who thought so :)

"Time for one of the two of them to make the heroic effort, put on the body armor, and bring the subject up - and for the other to slow down on their righteous fury long enough to think."

Well, yes, indeed. But what's the point without some character building, first? There was fluff in chapter 5!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007 8:13 AM


Hey, Mal didn't give her any advice!

I don't remember, anyway.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007 8:45 AM


> Hey, Mal didn't give her any advice!

Sure he did, just not directly. Kaylee ain't stupid: she'd know that the official sanctions came down from Mal via Zoe - Zoe'd never hand out shipwide punishment without Mal's approval. Mal has effectively said "knock it off" as his advice. And we all know his standing policy on shipboard realtionships.

You know what might help? Injure Simon. Think about it. He pisses her off in "Safe", but she forgives him after he's kidnapped and almost toasted. Pisses her off again in "Jaynestown" (although not entirely his fault that time), but she forgives him after he gets the crap kicked out of him. "The Message" is slightly different, but the result is the same: something forces her to re-evaluate Simon's pros and cons. She had a bit of that after Inara's advice here, but perhaps more painful circumstances would move it along.

Besides, I have a thing for mentally/physically torturing Simon. It's fun in a sadistic way. He's like Wile E Coyote: takes a licking and gets back up for another round.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007 9:06 AM


"You know what might help? Injure Simon."

You're not the first person to suggest this.

"Think about it."

Oh, I do. All the time. "Safe" is my favourite episode ever, if just for the moments where he steps up onto the pyre and when he says "Light it".

"Besides, I have a thing for mentally/physically torturing Simon."

It appears to be going around :)

Since I've now had at least two requests (one more overt than the other), I guess I'll have to speed up the Simon-hurt-argh-angst!


Tuesday, January 2, 2007 9:50 AM


I like the slow character build and i think I suggested injuring Simon at some point too. It does seem to make Kaylee reevaluate just why she's mad at him - realizing maybe it isn't all that important or she is overreacting.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007 9:53 AM


Yes, Leiasky, you were the other person I was thinking of. I didn't know if you'd mind being directly mentioned in my previous post.


Wednesday, January 3, 2007 8:06 PM


Well...I know I have certainly noted in various locales and threads relating to shipping pairs that I really have no iron-clad relationship pairings. I will take whatever's put in front of long as the "chef" has taken the time to make the dish palatable (i.e. worked on why previous paring - if any - didn't work and how the chosen two got together, along with how their relationship blossoms). Some of the most brilliant stuff I have read has been "non-conventional" pair-ups;D

And I think Jayne would make a great back-up mechanic besides River (whose genius would presumably allow her to understand and fix mechanical issues), since he's quite the dab hand with his weapons...which have a lot of complex and finicky moving parts, especially Vera:)

And I think Jayne could/should have an opinion about Silee. What it should be is another matter entirely...but I get the feeling Jayne could very well give Kaylee some ge-ge style advice about how she has been treating Simon and the need to get things settled before she could move on;D


Wednesday, January 3, 2007 8:24 PM



It's interesting that you should say that ("I get the feeling Jayne could very well give Kaylee some ge-ge style advice" etc.) I've just finished chap 17 , and I'm starting chap 18 now.


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Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Fifty-Three
Ultimate chapter (i.e. the conclusion). PG13 to be on the safe side (language only). Canon pairings +1 (River/ofc).

Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Fifty-Two
Penultimate chapter. (No, penultimate is not a fancier version of 'ultimate'.) Some fluff - Jayne gets to go home. PG13 to be on the safe side (probably G, at least if you ignore the comments - man, I can't spell). Canon pairings +1 (River/ofc).

Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Fifty-One
How far did Green and Banks get? Five moments of revealation. NC17 (adult themes). Canon pairings +1 (River/ofc).

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.

Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Fifty
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).

Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Forty-Nine
The crew pieces together the facts of Simon's disappearance. PG. Canon pairings +1 (River/ofc).

Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Forty-Eight
Because it never goes smooth. PG. Canon pairings +1 (River/ofc). Bridging piece.

Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Forty-Seven
Coda to Simon's time of dying. PG (language, themes).

Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Forty-Six
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.