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

Post Simon's Big Damn Rescue: Simon and Kaylee finally talk. Other stuff happens too. Canon pairings. Please try to be patient with the original characters, I think it will all make sense eventually. This chapter is rated PG13, for adult themes. Positive comments perfered.


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

*** *** *** Chapters 1-10, Chapters 11-20, Chapter 21, Chapter 22, Chapter 23, Chapter 24, Chapter 25, Chapter 26, Chapter 27 *** *** ***

“Okay, lil’Kaylee, I’m just gonna wait out here. You go git on in there.”

The mechanic nodded and walked as slowly as she could toward the infirmary. Jayne resisted the urge to push her. He’d walked her the whole way here – better if she walked the last few feet alone.

Kaylee was dreading the coming conversation. It was worse, too, up here, so close – seeing him. She stood by his side, but after a first, fleeting, furtive, glance she just looked at her hands. “Simon, I’m so sorry.” She could feel the tears welling up again. “Simon, never meant for alla this ta happen. Weren’t right. Never was. Never shoulda gone making scenes like that. Were bound to end badly even if it didn’t end like this.”

“You couldn’t know it would end like this.” Kaylee’s face snapped up and over to River as River spoke. River shook her head and nodded toward Simon, as she continued to speak. Kaylee thought she understood, and she turned her attention back to her hands. “You were almost caught yourself. I know you didn’t mean for this to happen.”

Kaylee sobbed. “But it did!”

There was a long pause. “Do you – do you, shall we say – still love me?” River’s voice was low, soft and hesitant. Kaylee looked at Simon’s face, to catch his eye, but they were closed, his pale, bruised face set. Prepared to hear whatever her response might be. Kaylee stared – had he heard what she’d said before his surgery? Did he think she meant it? She didn’t know what to say. At her silence, River continued. “I understand. Can you forgive me, at least, please, bao bei? Knowing that it could have been you?”

“Simon, ya don’t got nothin’ ta apologise for! Not one thing.”

She heard the hitch in River’s voice, and saw tears sitting in the corners of Simon’s still-closed eyes. “You – you should know. I couldn’t – wouldn’t – have given River up to save you. You would have died. It would have been – awful. Painful. Slow.” He didn’t want to say it, didn’t want to admit it to her, but she had a right to know. Had to know, to understand. “And I could have – would have – done nothing to save you.”

Part of her was horrified. What was she supposed to say to that? Part of her was just saddened by his pain, and by his complete self-doubt in the face of his own exceptional courage. She saw a tear make its way down the side of his face toward the pillow. Such vulnerability. He had already suffered so much. Gingerly, she put her fingers to his face to brush it away, before brushing away more of her own. “You can’t know that, Simon Tam. And if ya did, I wouldn’t a deserved saving. Were my big mouth got us into that mess. And ya made sure I got away. I got saved. Ya made sure a that, Simon. Ya didn’t ‘do nothing’ – ya protected me, saved me. Took alla this on your own self, knowin’ what they’d do. I’m the one who let you down, turned you in and ran away.”

River’s voice was tear-choked. There were more tears falling along Simon’s face, but his eyes never even once fluttered open. “No. It wasn’t your fault, bao bei. Please believe me when I say that it wasn’t. You did the right thing, Kaylee. You – you had to get away.”

“No. Even less since ya got back. Hidin’ in my bunk and the engine room. That doin’ right by you?”

There was a long pause as River and Simon swallowed simultaneously. River whispered. “You were scared. It’s all right. It’s hard to face. You shouldn’t,” there was another hitch, “blame yourself. It’s never been your fault that my being wanted has put you in danger.”

“Ain’t yours neither, Simon Tam!”

“Please forgive me, Kaylee.”

“Simon, I ain’t saying I forgiving ya, that makes it like I thought you did wrong.”

“Please Kaylee.”

“No Simon. Ain’t right.”

“Please say it.” Even from River’s mouth, it tore at her heart to hear such a proud man beg. And for what? He had never hurt her. Never would hurt her.

“Ain’t nothing ta forgive, Simon. But if it means that much to you, I’ll say it. I – I forgive you.” Her voice cracked.


Jayne stood in the lounge waiting for Kaylee. He had peered in the glass at first, just to keep an eye on Kaylee. She was wetter than a melted ice planet, but he was proud of her.

He turned away when he saw her gently wiping a tear from Simon’s cheek. Wouldn’t shame him like that to be watched. Weren’t right.

*** After dinner, Zoë brought the prisoner some food. As always, the girl promptly stood to a casual attention – though that mystified Zoe on several levels: how could she make standing to attention seem quite so casual? Why bother? Should she stop the girl? Zoë knew better than to let it fluster her, but the thoughts crossed her mind each time Ceres did it.

She set the food down on the side table without a word, and picked up the tray from lunch. The girl, as always, softly said, “Thank you ma’am.”

“You’re welcome, Cadet Swann.” Zoë headed back to the door.


Zoë turned back to the prisoner. Besides her ‘thank yous’ the girl had not once initiated any talk between them. “Cadet Swann?”

The girl spoke hesitantly, as though out of practice. Then again, Zoë thought, she probably was. “Ma’am, I appreciate the consideration that I have been treated with. But it seems to me that as yet the Captain has made no decision about me – my status. I understand that it is a difficult situation for him.” The girl paused, and dropped her gaze to the floor. Zoë saw a look of fear cross her face as the girl remembered herself and composed her face back in the correct way for standing to attention. “I would ask, that if he is ultimately going to have me executed, to please not wait. It is – it would be preferable to me not to wait here seemingly without end. If he isn’t comfortable with that, if he can just lend me a knife, I can handle matters quickly myself.”

Mal and Inara had told Zoë what they knew about Ceres. Zoë had glanced through her files as well. Zoë had yet to see either the dedicated genius or the cold blooded killer the files had described, just a rather subdued not-quite-there young woman; but Zoë recognised steel when she saw it. And the girl was right. The situation she was in was unfair. It might not get any fairer, but at least it could be over. She would speak to Mal. She told the girl as much, and turned back to the door.

Just before she got there, a thought struck. “Cadet Swann, I was wondering if you knew what the abbreviation GKC stands for?” Zoë had planned to look it up later on the Cortex, but the girl hadn’t had a proper conversation in probably two years. It couldn’t hurt to ask. Zoë knew how lonely being a prisoner could be.

“In what context, ma’am?”

“Medicine. Medical records. Usually next to gunshot wounds.”

“Ah, ‘Gun and Knife Club’, I believe, ma’am.” Zoë blinked in surprise. “Usually relates to injuries sustained in relation to criminal or gang activity.”


“‘Acute lead poisoning’. Gunshot wounds.”


“Status Post Ass Kicking.”

Zoë’s eyebrows hit her hairline. That was going to make for an interesting conversation with Simon at some point in the future. At least that explained the =Ok part. “Ah-huh. TBP?”

“Total Body Pain.”


“Talks All The Time.”

Zoë nodded. That was Wash, alright. “G2P0-0-1-0?”

Zoë noticed the girl run her tongue behind her teeth nervously. Had she seen that somewhere before? “Could you repeat that, ma’am?”

“G2P0-0-1-0.” Zoë repeated it slowly. She watched as the girl mouthed the phrase to herself.

“Ah – that would mean a woman pregnant for the second time, whose first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.”

“There’s a code for that?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“How do you know this?”

“I had a broad education.” It stuck Zoë as an oddly almost Book answer; not reassured by the comparison, she turned to leave. “Ma’am?”

“Cadet Swann?”

“Before he makes his final decision, the Captain should know – should be made aware – that I’m a Reader.”


When Dr. Wren dropped in to check on Simon one final time before bed, she saw River drop off of the counter and heard the girl say “I love you” to her brother before leaving the infirmary. It was an odd habit; Aren was certain that every time she’d come by the girl had been there, and had always said that before she left her brother. The girl always seemed to arrive back just as she was leaving, too.

River wandered off to find Jayne. It was hard to catch him alone. He was heading for his bunk – she ran to find him before he hit the stairs. She knew that he wouldn’t be keen on her following him down. As she raced toward him he looked up, anxious. “Somethin’ on fire, River?”

“No.” The girl could stop on a dime. “I just wanted to see you before you went to bed. To say thank you. For helping me.” She stood on demi pointe – tippy toes to Jayne – and planted a light kiss on his cheek. “You are a good ge-ge, Jayne.” As she walked away, she called back, “Good night.”

“’Night, River. Ah, sleep tight.”


Mal wasn’t pleased. “Why the hell would she tell you that? Makes it more likely we’d shoot her. It’s like announcing ‘I know all your secrets. You can never let me go.’”

“I know, Sir.”

“Ya think she is?”

“I know she is, Sir.”


“Knew I was thinking about Book just before I left. No way that was a random guess.”

“Aiya. Think she’s wants ta die?”

“Sir, I don’t know. She’s been locked up for two years, and no end in sight? Aside from her torturers, rapists and guards, I don’t think she’s even seen anyone let alone talked to them.”

“I’ll talk with her, Zoë.” He looked at his hands. “Don’t much want to shoot her, she’s been through enough. Don’t want ta turn her loose, don’t seem like a solution. If they get her back, it’s bad for her, and bad for us. Worse again if they turn her into something like we saw in the Maidenhead. Not somethin’ I’m keen on seeing. Not somethin’ I’m keen on being responsible for.”

“Sir, she did say that she’s prepared to deal with the matter personally. She seems to understand that this presents a dilemma for us.”

“Deal with it how?”

“Suicide.” She saw Mal pale. Zoë knew that it wasn’t a topic he was real comfortable with, save except when it came to Reavers. “Sir, she’s not morose, not pleading for death. Just wants a way out. Seems to think this is an equitable solution.”

“And you agree?” Mal’s brow furrowed. He was becoming mad.

“Didn’t say that, Sir. But I don’t think keeping her locked up here much longer counts for much by way a’ mercy.”


On the way to talk to the girl – his prisoner, unfortunately for them both – Mal paused for a cup of coffee in the galley. He didn’t rightly know what to say to her. As he was considering whether to sit to drink it or wander the ship, Aren walked in. “Good evening, Mal.” He watched her consider the food lockers for a moment. “I’m sorry, I thought I’d remember by now. Which one is Inara’s?”

“This one.” Mal reached over and tapped it. “You’re more than welcome to the things in the general stores, though.” He pointed at them.

“Oh, thank you. I know. I was just going to make some Darjeeling before I retire.”

“You’re sleeping in the shuttle, aren’t you?”

“Yes.” The woman rifled through her friend’s things a bit absently. “Oh – Inara only keeps some of her teas in there, the herbals, greens and whites. I prefer more – caffeinated – substances. A doctor’s vice.” Mal raised his cup of coffee and an eyebrow at her. She amended her statement. “Not just a doctor’s vice, a suppose.”

“’Nara mentioned that you were a client of hers.”

Aren turned a smile and her full attention on him, momentarily abandoning her search for the tea. “Really?”

“Indeed.” When the doctor laughed, Mal was puzzled. “Is it not entirely true?”

“No, no. Quite the opposite: it’s perfectly true. It’s just that I’ve never known Inara to kiss and tell.” Mal kicked himself silently; he had just been making conversation. Eyes dancing with merriment, the doctor turned back to Inara’s stash of fine – but caffeinated – teas.

Mal wasn’t used to apologising, but he hadn’t meant to make things awkward for Inara. “I’m sorry. I spoke out of turn.”

Aren looked back at him, still smiling. “Oh, please don’t be. I won’t say anything to her. I’m just delighted that she finally has someone that she can truly confide in.”

Which only left Mal with an extra puzzle for the night.

*** *** *** Chapter 29 *** *** ***


Wednesday, January 17, 2007 4:14 PM


Thank you to all of you who continue to read and comment - your thoughts are both helpful and appreciated.

Thank you to tkid, whose comment insipired (ie makes up) one of the (funnier) sentences of the chapter.

I hope you enjoy.

And comment.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 6:20 PM


Y'know, sometime in the future, months or maybe years from now, the memory of her just standing there with her mouth agape instead of telling Simon she loved him will keep Kaylee awake at night.

Particularly after he's hooked up with Ceres. *wicked grin*

GKC - Gun and Knife Club! *smacks forehead* How did I not guess that one?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 7:39 PM


> GKC - Gun and Knife Club! *smacks forehead* How did I not guess that one?

I know how you feel. I hit my head on the desk in amazement.

> Particularly after he's hooked up with Ceres. *wicked grin*

Oh god, no. One reader in his life is enough. Add in another suicidal one and he'll be diving for those hypos in a heart beat.

I do have to agree about Kaylee: she does a fine job of talking but never actually communicating. Kudos to Simon (and River) for being brave enough to lay it on the line, as if he doesn't have enough to worry about.

However, the romantic in me hopes that you simply cut off the scene early, and Kaylee managed to dredge up some heartfelt words that will make a difference. Right now, it's concerning: Simon is pretty much non-responsive to anyone except River, and River has given a tacit OK to him offing himself. Unless Kaylee wants her man to go from "injured" to "stiff, but not in that good way", she'd better make him sure that there's at least one other person worht sticking around for.

Meanwhile, Mal needs a pile of liquor. He has far too many strong-willed women around. Would drive any man to drink.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 8:47 PM


Oh...if I was in Mal's position right then, I would be debating between getting soused so badly I couldn't see straight and finding the nearest habitable planet or moon to set down on, run outside and just scream myself hoarse:(

Still...brilliant work with the Simon-through-River and Kaylee conversation, girlfan! Definitely gotta agree with ManicGiraffe and tkid about Kaylee's reaction: Kaylee needs to get her bum in gear and find a way to convince Simon that he's got at least one other person he can turn to in this time of agony for comfort. Cuz Silee is in some mighty perilous danger here...


Wednesday, January 17, 2007 11:34 PM


>Oh god, no. One reader in his life is enough. Add in another suicidal one and he'll be diving for those hypos in a heart beat.

I know! No, we're not heading for Simon/OC. Both he and Mal have enough women who already make them crazy in their lives.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 11:36 PM


>Oh...if I was in Mal's position right then, I would be debating between getting soused so badly I couldn't see straight and finding the nearest habitable planet or moon to set down on, run outside and just scream myself hoarse:(

Well, it can't all be Simon's problem :)


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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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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.