Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Forty-Two
Monday, March 5, 2007

Simon's elastic snaps. PG13 (violence). Canon pairings +1(River/ofc). Reposted due to seriously annoying formating issue.


Chapter Forty-Two: Veluti in speculum (As in a mirror) Part III

A/N: How You Remind Me is by Nickelback, and Running up that Hill is by Kate Bush.

*** *** *** Chapters 1-10, Chapters 11-20, Chapters 21-30, Chapters 31-35, Chapters 36-40, Chapter 41 *** *** ***

When Zoë first passed the cargo bay, she saw Kaylee chattering away to Jayne while she helped him by spotting. When Zoë passed an hour later, they were still there, though Jayne had clearly finished his workout and the two were caught in some deep conversation. Zoë shook her head. That girl really needed to learn how to keep private business private.


Jayne breathed out as he hoisted the weights back into their cradle. He swung his legs over the side of the bench and patted the place next to him for Kaylee to sit next to him, finally deciding to offer a tiny perspective on her bizarre almost-monologue. “See, it ain’t like that at all, lil’Kaylee,” he tried, once again, to explain. “It’s just we ain’t a whole lot better than them ruttin’ hundans who beat on ‘im he says no, and we make him anyway. Yer a girl. Wouldna thought I’d have to explain that no means no.

“Well, ain’t like he didn’t agree, Jayne. Just gots cold feet is all,” Kaylee reasoned. “We gotta fix him Jayne, ain’t right ta leave him like this, all broken an’ all.”

Well, that had really been Jayne’s final argument. If she couldn’t understand that – well, he didn’t know what to offer her by way of reason, ‘cause she sure didn’t seem in the mood or market for it today. He thought again. If he couldn’t get her to stop pressing for it, at least maybe she might slow down. “Last time we tried ta fix him we got him more broke, Kaylee. Ain’t like it can’t wait, neither. No reason ta go racing full burn back ta Belleraphon like someone’ll die if we don’t.” One look in Kaylee’s eyes brought Jayne to a full stop. He could have kicked himself for all his wasted time and breath, ‘cause he knew he’d seen that look plenty often before. Weren’t a word wise enough to stop a girl from a bad decision ‘bout fixin’ up a fella she’d taken a shine to. Jayne disengaged himself from the rather one sided conversation, and got up to shower the sweat and rampant stupidity from his skin.


On the bridge, the Captain looked quietly at River as she muttered softly to herself, knees drawn up to her chest and staring out at the black. "Pretty to look at, lovely to hold, but if you break it, consider it sold." He didn’t ask.


As they got ready for bed, they barely said two words to each other; that was probably for the best. They were both exhausted and hurting: Kaylee still angry with Simon, and Simon still angry with – well, wasn’t easy to be sure exactly with whom Simon was angry. Maybe Kaylee, maybe himself, maybe both of them, maybe someone else entirely, but he was pretty definitely angry with someone or at something and it was clear that there was better than an odds-on chance that if either of them said anything deeper or more meaningful than "is there a clean towel?" or "pass me my pyjamas," one of them was going to snap and Simon had got a bad feeling was going to be him.

But Kaylee insisted on talking. “Simon, ya can’t be mad about this. I know you’re scared, but it’s the right thing ta do.” She’d made her voice was soft and somehow firm at the same time, like she’d decided that talking sense into to him would work, and she’d braced herself to see it through. Still campaigning. Still convinced that she could somehow wear down his resistance, his resentment.

It wasn’t enough that he was just going to do it, Simon thought to himself. It was never enough. He was tired of it never, ever, being enough.

At Simon’s utter lack of response – verbal or otherwise – she pressed a little more, a little harder. “Simon, we should talk about this,” she said firmly, like there was not so much as a single doubt in her mind about whether he would comply.

“That’s it.” Simon’s voice was low, but hard, and his head snapped up so that his eye could Kaylee’s eyes. “That? Is it. Get the hell out.”

Kaylee was taken aback at the venom of his response. “What? No, Simon, you can’t mean that.”

His eyes already hard and cold, she watched in disbelief as the line of his mouth twisted sourly. “I do. Go back to your bunk, or to your hammock, or to Inara. Just leave me alone.”

“No. Simon, we should talk about this.”

“Ok.” He stood up. “Then make yourself comfortable. Talk. I’ll sleep somewhere else.” Despite the gentle propriety of the words, his tone was as cold and angry as she’d ever heard it. He stalked across the hall to Ceres’ room and shut himself in. He couldn’t believe his lover’s audacity. We should talk about this? Right. Now that everyone else on board who’d listen to her for more than thirty consecutive seconds had been sampled for their opinion, now they should talk. They should talk? Is that what you kids call it these days? When had they ever just talked? He could lay the very cloth of heaven at her feet and she could – and would, if the mood struck her – find some way to construe it as a calculated insult. He snorted to himself. He was wrong. All they ever had done was talked. It had never, once, occurred to her to listen.

He’d barely gotten the door closed behind him and was walking toward the bed when he heard the hand pulling on the delicate doorframe. “Kaywinnet. Lee. Frye,” he seethed as he turned back to face her. “Leave. Me. Alone.”

His eyes, anger-fierce, met hers – scared but defiant. She braced herself to go to him, and shook her head. “Ain’t letting ya hurt yerself.”

“No, of course not. Where would the fun for you be in that?” At his sneering voice, she felt her face get hot. He closed the door again, and no sooner than he had, he felt her tugging at it again, but this time he was holding it closed. “So help me, Kaylee, if you come in here tonight I will put you back on your side of the door.” It wasn’t exactly a threat, because Simon was pretty sure that he could do it without actually hurting her, but it was much too close to a threat for him to feel okay with, and that just pushed Simon to a whole new level of mad.

Which was fine, because she’d just found a new level of mad-and-scared-at-the-same-time, and that was closer to genuinely being on the same page than the two of them had been in a long time. “Simon Tam, you ni hunqiu, you open this door!” At his silence, she tugged the door hard again, only to find that it still wouldn’t budge. “You coward!

Zoë finally spoke up from her own doorway. “Miss Frye, I suggest you get yourself back to bed.” Her face was more clearly-not-impressed than impassive. “And if you can’t sleep, at least have the courtesy not to go keeping any th’other crew up.” Zoë waited a good thirty seconds, and Kaylee still hadn’t moved, didn’t even acknowledge Zoë’s presence.

“Simon Tam, you let me in!” Kaylee hissed at the door in front of her with another tug on the handle that went nowhere.

“Kaylee.” Zoë moved up the hallway to stand beside the mechanic. “You go get yourself back to bed.” Zoë’s patience was running a little short where the younger woman was concerned, but her voice was gentle and not unkind.

“Zoë,” Kaylee’s protest was soft.

Zoë shook her head. “Won’t presume to tell you about your personal business, Kaylee, and while I can’t say that there isn’t a time and place for this,” indicating their quarrel with a small gesture of her hand and making her voice forged steel mid-sentence, “it’s not now and it’s sure as hell not here. So. You don’t want ta go back to bed, fine. But you don’t get yourself under control and outta this hallway in the next six seconds and I’ll have confined to quarters until morning.” The first mate looked pointedly in the direction of the end of the corridor and remarked with a solid, “Good night, Kaylee.”

“Good night, Zoë.” Reluctantly, Kaylee headed away from the passenger dorms.

Zoë waited until Kaylee was gone before rapping lightly on Ceres’ door.

Simon swallowed and tried to make his voice calm. He’d never learned to hide anger well. “Do you need something, Zoë?” It came out cold, rather than calm, but Simon was well past the town of Caring and closing fast on the turn off for Fuck-off-and-Die.

Zoë raised an eyebrow to the door panel. Simon was good, had to give him that. No ambiguity. No opening. She hadn’t expected a ‘come in’ – mad Simon didn’t appear very often, but he seemed to like being left alone. But no ‘can I help you?’ or ‘what is it?’ – that was genius in its level of closed-off-barely-contained rage. She could have whistled in admiration. Most people weren’t that fast on their feet when they were a whole lot calmer than Simon. But damn it if that boy wasn’t a boy scout when it came to snark. Always prepared. “Just wanted to say to good night, Simon.”

Simon pushed out the breath he’d been holding. “Oh. Of course. Good night, Zoë.” His voice came out a little tight, but almost normal. She made sure to let him hear her walk softly away.

Simon let his emotions swirl for a moment before reigning them in. His mind flipped up some lines jotted carefully among his notes. 'Pick a task. Sing songs. Recite poems. Walls of other-thought are better than pictures of walls. A wall is pretty clearly a wall. You can see it, and you wonder what’s on the other side. A poem is just a poem, a song may be caught in your head. Less obvious to the casual observer, and easier to focus on: one word leads to another. Aids concentration.' Well, time to see if it worked for him. He started to focus before he even allowed himself to admit what it was all in aid of.

Never made it as a wise man/I couldn't cut it as/A poor man stealing/Tired of living like a blind man/I'm sick of sight without/A sense of feeling/And this is how you remind me/This is how you remind me/Of what I really am/This is how you remind me/Of what I really am/

He murmured the words softly, but with bitter irony as he laid out the craft box, and the witch hazel and cotton balls, and organised everything to just the way the way he wanted it before he began.

It's not like you to say sorry/I was waiting on a different story/This time I'm mistaken/ for handing you/A heart worth breaking/And I've been wrong/I've been down/Into the bottom of every bottle/These five words in my head/Scream/Are we having fun yet?

As he picked up the blade to begin, he smiled tightly and switched songs. It doesn't hurt me./Do you want to feel how it feels?/Do you want to know that it doesn't hurt me?/Do you want to hear about the deal that I'm making?/You, it's you and me. And if I only could/I'd make a deal with God/And I'd get him to swap our places/Be running up that road/Be running up that hill/Be running up that building./If I only could, oh... You don't want to hurt me/But see how deep the bullet lies./Unaware I'm tearing you asunder./ Ooh, there is thunder in our hearts./ Is there so much hate for the ones we love?/Tell me, we both matter, don't we?


Behind the mirror, Banks tossed his partner a weary glance. “She seems to have an endless repertoire, doesn’t she?”

Green half-frowned in concentration, never taking his eyes off of the scene in front of him. Green pushed aside his unease at her effect on her interrogators. She was good at pushing buttons. He considered his reply. “Doesn’t matter. Let her tire herself out. This defiance will seem all the more wasteful tomorrow. I’ve suggested that we step things up then.” Green paused, causing his partner to glance his way again. “We should relieve Agent Cooper before he goes too far. I think he may break her jaw.”

Banks’ hand went straight to the call button, as the agent inside the room lashed out at his prisoner severely once again, but he still half-noticed it when the prisoner’s soft mezzo, long harsh from screaming, changed tempo, signifying that she was yet again moving from the end of one song to the beginning of the next and "Are we having fun yet?" became "It doesn't hurt me. Do you want to feel how it feels?"

*** *** *** Chapter 43 *** *** ***


Monday, March 5, 2007 11:16 AM


Gah! I have posted. That's all I can say about that, except to say thank to all of you reading and commenting.

Also, for anyone who missed it, I'll repost my CLARIFICATION comment from the last chapter:

>Would be interesting to see a counterpoint to this chapter by having the next one focus solely on River as she experiences everything Ceres just did

Alas, this *was* the counterpoint. This is Ceres' first day of capture - this is the counterpoint to River with Mal on the bridge in Chapter 38.

Monday, March 5, 2007 11:50 AM


i am so so sorry i made you repost :'(

erm. I'm kinda drunk. I'll apologise better when I'm sober

I really love this fic and I'm so sorry!!!!!!!!

Monday, March 5, 2007 11:53 AM


>i am so so sorry i made you repost :'(

erm. I'm kinda drunk. I'll apologise better when I'm sober

We're good, dude, don't sweat it. These things happen.

Monday, March 5, 2007 11:55 AM


I'm rating it ten again cos it's THAT good. and I feel THAT bad.

whoa dont mix portugese rose and vodka. Ever.

Monday, March 5, 2007 1:06 PM


> Jayne disengaged himself from the rather one sided conversation, and got up to shower the sweat and rampant stupidity from his skin.

And that, right there, sums it all up. As I said a chapter or so ago, when it's JAYNE being the compassionate and considerate one, you know something is seriously f'ed up.

I usually like figuring out "ok, how we gonna get out of this one?", but I'm honestly at a loss for what you'll do with Kaylee. Even Zoe seems to be at the "not gonna deal with it" stage, Jayne's big brother advice didn't make a dent, and Simon is way beyond trying to reason with her. I very much look forward to your solution (even if the solution is to not solve it and they go their separate ways - that happens sometimes, even to good people).

I somehow find it exceptionally creepy that Simon, River and Ceres are singing the same song. Simon already "snapped" a bit, but it didn't seem to bring him any peace - I'm cringing in anticipation of a major explosion here. You put the nutty doctor, the trained assassin, and the OTHER trained assassin in each other's heads, and this could get quite messy.

Monday, March 5, 2007 3:15 PM


Oh...the sheer level of utter brilliance here was flabbergasting, girlfan! Especially in how you've achieved what I thought was utterly impossible: making Kaylee a completely unlikable character who I want to rip into for being a manipulative bitch. Even when TamSibling was setting the standard for Bitch!Kaylee in the epic "A New..." trilogy of tales, I still had some ounce of compassion. But here? Oooh...definitely Bizarro World time;D

And the linking of Simon, River and Ceres? Completely spine-chilling in its creepiness and utterly spectacular:D


Monday, March 5, 2007 3:18 PM


Okay, I just joined so I haven't commented any other chapters but I absolutely love it. River is my favorite character and you really portray her well—along with everyone else in the story.

Pretty much it is just awesome and this chapter was amazing. I would seriously hate to be the guard who's victim was singing like that.

ALSO, I absolutely love Running up that Hill, though I've never heard the Kate Bush version. Placebo has a cover of it that I love, you have awesome taste in music. :•)

Monday, March 5, 2007 6:06 PM


gotta agree with what has already been said... brillant work...great take on Kaylee. Her insecurities can make her obnoxiously controlling, especially in regards to Simon. I always thought of her as the epitome of "how to lose a guy in thirty days". (sorry Kaylee lovers, clingy gals can bug)

really enjoyed this chapter!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007 3:24 PM


Spine, meet Simon. Simon, meet your spine.

If we can't have Simon/Ceres, my vote is still for Simon/Zoe. Or Simon/anyone so long as Kaylee isn't in the picture. I swear that girl is getting more and more irritating. But if Simon isn't willing to stand up for himself, he's asking for Kaylee and Mal to walk all over him.

On the issue of Mal, could someone hit the dense Captain with a cluebat?

Love that Simon, River, and Ceres are singing the same songs.


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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.