Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Twenty-Seven
Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Post Simon's Big Damn Rescue: A certain amount of "We'll go hand in hand/But we'll walk alone in fear". Simon and Kaylee struggle seperately, and this has a wider impact on the crew. This chapter is rated PG13, for adult themes. Positive comments perfered.


Chapter Twenty-Seven: Caelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt (They change the sky, not their soul, who run across the sea.)Part II

*** *** *** Chapters 1-10, Chapters 11-20, Chapter 21, Chapter 22, Chapter 23, Chapter 24, Chapter 25, Chapter 26 *** *** ***

The few days that seemed to take such little time to pass for most of the crew, seemed especially long to Simon. Dr. Wren had kept him sedated, sometimes lightly, sometimes deeply, for much of the time; she had removed his vocal cords entirely and delicately, patiently, reset each bone in his right hand. She had done as much as she could, both surgically and medically, to repair the damage to his back – now it was a matter of time, rest and, soon, physiotherapy. River was there whenever Dr. Wren wasn’t, but mostly Simon ignored her and tried to sleep. He was too weary for anything else, but River seemed content to silently keep him company.

Mal and Inara came by, sometimes singly, mostly as a pair. The first time, Inara had tried to converse with him, but he ignored her too. That had clearly annoyed Mal, but River just told them that he was always cranky when he was tired – patently untrue and they all knew it – but they left. Bizarrely subtle for River, who would have normally just bluntly reminded them of his injuries. Maybe it was him she was trying to avoid reminding. After that, Inara restricted herself to updates on what was happening, and never expected him to acknowledge her.

Zoë came by. She never said anything, though she often laid a gentle hand on his arm or shoulder if she thought he was sleeping.

Jayne came by again. Usually he just peered from the windows; rarely a small wave from the door, but his time he came in. “Heya, Simon. Gotta borrow River a minute.”

River said “I love you,” to Simon, and the two of them stepped out, but it was a twenty-second message. Simon counted. He wanted his sister back, hovering silently nearby. When she was there, he knew that he hadn’t quite lost everything. When she was away… it was harder to remember. Harder to fight the thought that it would have been better if he had just died. Harder to fight the urge to mouth the plea ‘kill me’ to Dr. Wren. He wondered if the only reason he didn’t risk it is because he knew that she would refuse, and then he would be left with the terrible knowledge that he was truly trapped. When River slipped back in, she tilted her head and gave her brother a small smile before walking over to the counter. He was morose, and not paying her much attention. Sometimes they talked (well, more efficient than talking), little conversations when he was lightly sedated and nicely relaxed. Right now, he just wanted her nearby, and she often sat – sometimes napped – on the counters near him.

He heard a metal tray being set down next to him. He turned his head toward it – there was a single hypo sitting on it. River was still doing something at the counter – he turned his attention to her. She spoke aloud, though quietly, “‘The thought of suicide gets us through many a long night.’” He was familiar with it. It was a quote from the old Earth-that-was philosopher Nietzsche. Was she offering what he thought she was offering? “If it gets bad enough. If you decide that it’s over.” In his chest, he could feel his heart start to pound. Excitement at the possibility? Or dread? Did he want it? Well, yes, at least partly. But did he want it now? Could he wait? Keep it for if it got bad enough? Then he saw her small hand place a second, identical needle next to the first. “For Jiangyin. For Ariel, and Miranda. For two years of terror. For a year of grief. For the pain of four hundred lashes. For the truth of your last words. For fifty-eight broken bones. And because we take so much looking after.”


Ceres spent much of her time sleeping or dozing. There wasn’t really anything else to do. Once a day Zoë walked her to the shower, issued her a change of clothes and checked her wrist. Three times a day she brought food, whatever the crew was eating.

Ceres liked Zoë. She was integrity, and resolute courage. Even her anger and worry were quiet, contained. She was brown like mud on a battlefield, and red like spilled blood, a testament to all that had happened but silent for all her commanding presence.

Ceres liked the brother and sister. Nothing about the sister was contained. She was a riot of colours, mostly pastels, with flashes of metallic paint. She had courage too, and strength of will. She was curiosity, and the bloom of youth. The brother was contained, but not entirely by choice; his pain overflowed, royal purple and blue, sucked down a forgotten drain. He was a sacrifice, offered but untaken. When Ceres slept she had a hard time separating herself from the brother; his pain, fresh and raw, blended with her remembered pain. When she dozed, if the brother slept, sometimes she could feel the sister’s mind at the edge of her mind. The girl was trying to read her. Mostly, Ceres tried not to read others, but she understood the temptation, especially around enemies.

Ceres heard the sister’s offer. It was achingly beautiful: heart-rending. The light pink of hope and sky blue of elation, the charcoal grey of dread. The bright sapphire of perfect truth. The soft red-yellow-orange of flame embers, bonds of love forged against this day. But it was also sad. A word of warning to Zoë could prevent such a future, and the part of her conscious aware of Zoë’s worries about her unborn child wanted to say something. But Zoë had a doctor, and it was the brother and sister’s choice. Ceres knew as well that in a sense, she wasn’t really even here: a ghost, the sister had called her. A spy: an observer of others. It wasn’t for her to interfere.

‘And if it had been?’ another part of her mind asked. Well, then who was she to deny another the means of ending their pain?




“I was wondering if you could tell me where the crew’s medical records are kept. I’ve been looking for Simon’s for several days, and I can’t find where he keeps them.”

“He keeps them in the infirmary, right enough.”

“That’s what I thought.” The woman paused and studied his face for a moment before speaking again. “I’m sorry, Mal, I think I’ve upset Simon.”

“Shen me?”

She shook her head. “It was a stupid mistake. I was looking for them everywhere, and I asked him if someone had taken them. He was very still, but I thought, perhaps, a little smug – so I asked him who took them, listing the crew’s names... and he just became very determined looking.”

“Like he thought that there would be consequences for not telling.”


“But he wasn’t going to tell anyway.”


“He have a flashback?”

“I’m sorry. Probably.” She amended. “Almost certainly.” Mal took a deep breath and reminded himself that Inara would be very angry if he shot her friend. It had been bound to happen, after all. She repeated herself. “I am sorry, Mal. If you can find them, however, I really do need those records.” She left.

Mal went to find his first mate.

“Zoë?” Mal called through her closed door. “Can I come in?”

“Yes, Sir.” She called back.

He pulled the door open, and stood in the frame. “Don’t get up, Zo. Just wondering if you know where Simon’s medical records are? ‘Nara’s lady doctor’s looking for ‘em.”

“Couldn’t say, Sir.”

“They’re not the infirmary. She’s torn the place apart looking for them. Simon won’t tell her who has ‘em, and since you were the last one with them I thought you might know where they are.”

“Couldn’t say, Sir.”

Mal nodded. “River might have ‘em, a’ course the girl would never tell me if so. Still, if Simon won’t say who took ‘em, gotta wonder if maybe the boy has a reason.”

“Most like, Sir.”

“Gotta wonder, though, what it might be. Seems the whole reason a having records would be so someone could take over in a pinch.”

“Could be, Sir.”

“Or maybe he keeps ‘em to remind himself what’s happened? Keep everyone straight in his head?”

“Possibly, Sir.”

“Guess I’d best go ask River, for all the good I expect that’ll do,” Mal said as put his hand to the door to pull it closed. “Ya know, Zoë, everybody who knows ya knows what ya mean by ‘Couldn’t say’, right?”

He thought he saw a small smile play across her lips as she returned to her reading. “Kinda the point, Sir,” she admitted. He nodded and left.

She turned her attention back to her medical record, still trying to puzzle out what GKC meant. It was scribbled in the margins in a number of places, as if for quick reference. Grievous knife cut? Couldn’t be, mostly they were next to summaries of gunshot wounds. Those were usually marked GKC/ALP.

She compared it to Wash’s record. GKC was marked next to Simon’s treatment of Wash post-Niska, except it was GKC/TBP/SPAK=OK. At the top of the chart, next to Wash’s name was (TATT). As much as her fingers itched to, she didn’t open anyone else’s file. Well, she decided that could have a peek at Simon’s – but only the parts she had added herself. She flipped carefully to his entry next to her write up of the post-Early stitches. GKC/ALP/SPAK=OK. That was no help. She closed it again, and turned back to her own.

Next to the notes he’d made the night he confirmed her pregnancy was written G2P0-0-1-0. She braced herself, and read through his comments. Mostly, it was a summary of the questions he’d asked her that night, but she was struck by one part. In the middle of the terse list of questions and their answers was written, “Previous pregnancies: One, due to rape, second term miscarriage.” That itself didn’t startle her. Medicine was a cold as the military, in her experience. It was the next part that surprised her, and brought tears to her eyes. In the middle of the line, he had written Hera Allenye in very neat calligraphy, and added the letters RIP underneath; around the whole thing he had drawn a little heart.


Jayne found Kaylee in the engine room. He didn’t bother to hide his annoyance. “You ain’t gone ta see Simon yet, Kaylee?”

She looked up, startled and upset. “How’d ya know?”

“Whole boat probably knows. Anyway, I just asked River. She said ya hadn’t been by anytime she’d been there, and she’s always there when the doc ain’t. So ya ain’t been.”

“Jayne, I can’t.”

He waited, arms folded. “Ya gonna finish that sentence?”


“You said ‘I can’t’. I ain’t seeing the reason, so ya best tell me.”

“Simon’s hurt ‘cause a me. Nearly died Jayne. Can’t even talk. I can’t go facing him after what I done.”

“Kaylee, you ain’t done nothing wrong, ‘cept ignore him when he could use yer company.”

“No, Jayne, it’s worse than that…”

“What’s it about, then?”

“Every time we fight something like this happens.”

Jayne stared at her in disbelief. “No it don’t.”

“It do!”

“Kaylee, this here’s the first fight I recall where someone ended up getting pinched by the Feds. Ain’t yer fault.”

“Is. Shouted at him. Called his name.”

“And if he weren’t a fugie, woulda been no harm done. Simple mistake Kaylee. He set ya off, ya bickered. Nobody deserved what happened after. Ain’t right ya leavin’ him all alone.”

“Can’t face him, Jayne. The thought a’ looking at all them bruises – Jayne, they beat him so bad!”

“I know. You sitting here ain’t making it better.”

“He won’t want ta see me after what I done.”

Jayne took the bait. “Ok, lil’Kaylee, hows ‘bout you tell me what it is ya done.”


“Naw, I’m serious. Very curious. What ya done?”

“Turned him in.”

“Naw. Some old Fed called the… Feds. What did ya do?”

“Called him by his name.”


“We was fighting.”


“’Cause he said he don’t like my wine.”

“Kaylee, yer engine wine can be used to strip clean parts. Stuff’s harsh.”

“I know that Jayne!” The girl started crying. “See, now?”

Jayne didn’t. He thought for a moment. No, still not coming. “No.”

“Every time we fight, it’s like this. Cap’n told us not to drink anything while we was out. So we didn’t. But Simon wanted to buy a bottle a wine to bring back with us, ya know, ta share. And I was teasin’ him, saying ‘doncha like my wine’ and he went and said something stupid about it bein’ fresh. And I blew up at him, and we quarrelled.”

“Yup. All yer fights are like that Kaylee. Still ain’t seeing.”

“He don’t deserve it. Never did and it was bad enough that I’m always yelling at him. Now he’s been hurt real bad – why would he put up with it? God, Jayne, he was so shui.”

“Kaylee, ya gotta stop sayin’ that. It’s all sorts a wrong. Him being shui ain’t why ya love him, and them bruises on his face’ll fade. Done had worse my own self. Ain’t why he’s lyin’ in that bed.”

“I know, Jayne. Just can’t face it. I did alla this ta him.”

Jayne realised that they would always come back to this point; it was time to switch tactics. “Fine. Ya think so, then ya go apologise.”


“I mean it Kaylee. You so sure you done wrong, you go apologise. Own up to it. Ain’t easy, but then I imagine it weren’t so easy for him after that hundan Fed shot you. Think he don’t blame himself for that? But he put you back together with his own hands, and dressed your scar and did all that exercising with you til you was better. Couldn’ta been easy for him, thinking himself the cause a’ yer pain that whole time.” Kaylee started crying harder. Jayne wasn’t sure if it was at her own thoughts, or in response to his little lecture. He drew her into a hug. “Now, now, ‘nough a’ that. Come on, yer gonna go see Simon now.” He took her by the hand, and started leading her out of the engine room. “I’ll go with ya.”

“Why, Jayne?”

He turned back toward her momentarily, and shook his head. “Yer brothers deserve the soundest whupping, lil’Kaylee.”

*** *** *** Chapter 28 *** *** ***


Wednesday, January 17, 2007 5:38 AM


Well, I hope it's more interesting anyway. Next chapter, Simon and Kaylee talk. Well, Kaylee talks.

Apologies to those who thought they would do it this chapter, but I figure Kaylee would need some sort of impetus - probably external - to give her a push in that direction.

Thank you to ManicGiraff and TamSibling for suggesting spending more time with River, Kaylee and Simon, and to tkid for the TLAs in the medical reports - which will be explained, eventaully.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 5:43 AM


Creepy that River would offer herself to go with Simon is he decided enough was enough. But he's stronger than that, even if he doesn't realise it yet. But Jayne and Kaylee? Just right!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 6:20 AM


I don't want to say if Simon's too strong to do it yet...he's absorbed a lot (even before recent events) and might just be tired. Eventually you run out of willpower. But River offering to go with? Heartbreaking.

I don't know jack about medicine except what I learned in the Boy Scouts and a bit extra picked up from here and there. Since there was a decided lack of gunshot wounds as a teenager, those acronyms mystify me. Can Zoe look them up on the cortex? They must have WebMD in the future.

And good on Jayne. He's going to fix Kaylee and Simon up if it kills him (or, more likely, them).

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 6:33 AM


>Since there was a decided lack of gunshot wounds as a teenager

Man, when were you a teenager? (j/k)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 8:25 AM


Hi girlfan,

I really loved your Jayne/Kaylee convo - I think it was oddly appropriate ... and I certainly hope that Kaylee talks to Simon in the next chapter. Her staying away from him is cowardly, whether she wants to admit it or not.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 8:29 AM


>I certainly hope that Kaylee talks to Simon in the next chapter.

She will, I promise. I'm polishing that convo now.

>Her staying away from him is cowardly, whether she wants to admit it or not.

I agree, but she's not in an easy place either, and I want to be fair to her.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 9:12 AM


Regarding those acronyms: I'm looking forward to the moment when Zoe's eyebrows hit hit her hairline. Haven't figured out what GKC or the GP000whatsit means.

I started bawling when River spoke to Simon.

Kaylee was upset because her wine was called 'fresh'. I have to admit, I'd've got cranky about that if I were in her shoes.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 2:15 PM


>Zoe's eyebrows hit hit her hairline

I am so using that line! Thank you.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 2:16 PM


>But River offering to go with? Heartbreaking.
>I started bawling when River spoke to Simon.

Well, good. I wanted it to be, you know, sorta sad.

To Jane0904, I can see how it might be creepy too :)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 8:04 PM


I think River's moment with Simon and the syringes was perfect...heartbreaking and totally true, since neither Simon nor River could probably carry on if the other was lost defending the surviving sibling. makes for a great way of subtly making Simon move off the suicide path:(

And Jayne! Jayne was brilliant here! Especially with his comment at the end about the Frye boys needing a whupping so bad for their purported failures to be good older brothers:D



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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.