Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Forty-Four
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Simon's elastic snaps, and Green and Banks continue their search for him. NC17 (violence, squicky angst). Shortish bridging piece.


Even Roses Have Thorns Chapter Forty-Four: Veluti in speculum (As in a mirror) Part V

*** *** *** Chapters 1-10, Chapters 11-20, Chapters 21-30, Chapters 31-35, Chapters 36-40, Chapter 41, Chapter 42, Chapter 43 *** *** ***

Aren had packed everything, and checked Inara’s room twice before she headed to the infirmary. She hadn’t brought much with her, and she didn’t want to leave anything behind. Once they hit Belleraphon, they wouldn’t have much time. She wanted to be ready to leave immediately. She didn’t know how the crew of Serenity could live like this constantly; one daring-adventure-gone-wrong was enough to last Aren a lifetime.

She frowned at the infirmary door when it refused her admittance. The blinds were down, so she knocked, but there was no response. She went to bridge. “Mal? May I have a moment?”

“Sure, Aren.” Mal nodded toward the co-pilot’s chair, and turned towards her when she sat.

“Is there a problem? I’ve been locked out of the infirmary.”

Mal felt his unease rise and starting flipping the ship into autopilot. “Didn’t tell anyone to put a lock on the door.”

Aren shrugged. “There’s a key-code.” But Mal was already walking from the bridge.

The door was locked from the inside, and an electronic code had been set. The door wasn’t budging. Mal snapped the nearest comm. off the wall. “This is the captain. All crew to the infirmary at once. Ma shong.”

Zoë arrived first, followed immediately by Jayne, then quickly by Kaylee, then shortly by Inara.

“Where’re Simon and River?”

Zoë frowned slightly. “River’s asleep in her room, saw her there when I was passin’.”

Mal’s mouth tightened, but he didn’t say anything. The girl was probably drugged to her eyeballs. “Kaylee get this door open.”

Kaylee stepped up and started fingering the pad. “Can’t Cap’n,” she began reasonably. “It’s a quarantine lock down. Only Simon’s got the code.” With the ugly twist of suspicion already present in the minds of Mal, Aren, Zoë and Inara, it was a little surprising that Kaylee’s brain snapped across the mental leap as quickly as those of the others. As Kaylee’s head whipped around to face the others, she could feel time slowing down.

But Mal spoke first. “’Nara, take Kaylee to the shuttle. Zoë, go stay with River. Jayne get the blow torch.” As the others began to move, Mal turned to Aren. “How long’ve we got, doctor?”

“Depends on what he’s done, and when he did it.”

On hearing the flat analysis of Aren’s voice, Inara almost stepped away from her young friend whom she had pulled into her arms. “Renci de fozu.”

But Kaylee didn’t notice that she was almost dropped. She hadn’t noticed that she’d been gathered. “No.”

Inara’s attention was firmly brought back the girl in her arms with this tiny vocalisation. “Kaylee, let’s get you to the shuttle.”

“No.” Kaylee’s voice was soft, but getting firm. “No ‘Nara. Cap’n. Captain!” Her head whipped around to find him. She didn’t wait for him to acknowledge her. “We gotta shut down the engine. Gotta shut it down now.”

The only recognisable part of Mal’s tone was the worry. “What the hell, lil’Kaylee?”

“Fastest way ta pop the lock.” At Mal’s nod, she headed to the engine room at a dead run.

“Jayne, go with her.”

“No, Mal.” The merc shook his head. “Ain’t guaranteed it’ll work. Best get the torch in case.”

Mal nodded and Jayne headed away in his original direction. “’Nara, go stay with Kaylee. Don’t let her come back here til she gets my say-so.”

“Of course, Mal.” The fear on Inara’s face flickered but she pulled up one of her many comforting masks as she made her way to the engine room.

Once alone, Mal turned to the doctor. “What we likely to find?”

“He’s a doctor, Mal. Trauma surgeon. If he’s alive we’ll be lucky.”

Everyone stumbled or started a little as the engine went out like a single candle in a crypt; more eerie, as the auxiliary power started up, it too was shut down. It was only a few seconds of darkness, but all the conscious minds on Serenity couldn’t help but return to the awful memory of the fire that had left them on the drift to die.

Mal and Aren heard the lock pop and were pulling the door open as the engine sprang to life again and the lights and sounds of the ship drove away the dark for a moment. For Mal and Aren, it was an especially short moment. Under the harsh light of the infirmary bulbs, Simon’s still form lay at once cold and yet debauched: corrupted, ill-used. He lay on the infirmary bed, left arm held out over the floor; under it entirely too much blood pooled. On his stomach, where his right hand rested, a bloody scalpel also lay. Hope drained from Mal.

“Blood. Okay. This is actually quite promising.” Despite her words, Aren’s soft tone was too grim to actually be cheering. Mal turned wordlessly to her, as she set to work immediately. ***

Ceres had been pumped full of endorphin inhibitors, adrenaline, and a cocktail of neural suppressants to lower her mental walls. Other chemicals kept Harley awake and aware through her beatings; she cried all the time now. When Agent Cooper started to cut the clothes from the younger girl’s body, Ceres managed an unsteady, “No.”

“Then read for us the location of Serenity.”


When she had done everything she could, Aren gestured for Mal to join her on the outside of the infirmary. “He needs more blood,” she began. “I’ve used up the last of the O+ and the O-. We need to set up a line between him and River.”

Mal looked over to Jayne who was waiting in the lounge with the unneeded blowtorch. “Jayne, you go bring River up here. Try not to wake her. Tell Zoë to take the bridge.” Jayne just nodded and left.

Aren continued. “He’s lost a lot of blood. He cut the major artery of the arm. He didn’t sever it…”

“That’s good, right?” Mal interrupted.

Aren bit her lip. “Yes. And no. I can repair it. If he’d severed it, though, likely he wouldn’t have bled so much. Dying this way – well, it takes it’s toll on the body.” Aren let that sink in before she continued. “His blood-alcohol level is so high that I’m frankly surprised that he had the dexterity to find and open the brachial artery, instead of just butchering everything in his arm.”

“Simon’s drunk?” Somehow, to Mal, that was far stranger than the tense young man’s suicide attempt.

“I wouldn’t say drunk. He passed drunk a few drinks back. Dr. Tam is, in strict medical parlance, fucked up.” Aren turned away from Mal to gaze back in the window. “He’s also taken a pretty unhealthy dose of aspirin.”

“So, you think maybe this was an accident? He got drunk and then thought that this was a good idea?” Mal offered.

Aren’s arched expression was a clear denial. “Oh, no. No, for sure it was deliberate. He wasn’t numbing his pain with the booze and drugs. That was to make sure his blood had the consistency of tap water when he cut in to his artery. We’re just lucky that this is the way he decided to go out.” At the sound of Jayne’s approaching boots, both fell silent. “Okay, Jayne. Get her up on the counter.”

“Jayne. Do me a favour, let Kaylee know Simon’s alive and Aren’s patching him up.” Aren looked up from the lines she was running between the two siblings, but didn’t add anything.

“Sure Mal.”

“What did you mean?” Mal asked as soon as Jayne was gone.

“There are several dozen ways he could have picked to go out – faster and painless – but he picked this one. If he’d picked something else, well, it would have been over before he hit the floor.”

“Cry for help?”

“You think he had anyway of knowing that Kaylee could get that lock open?”


There was another few seconds of silence as Aren carefully studied her monitors. “Mal, close the valve on River’s line.”

“What the hell?” Mal said.

“Can’t lose both of them. Close the line. Just for now.” Mal moved to obey as Aren carefully palpated Simon’s abdomen. “If you can’t do what I say, get someone else in here, Mal.”

“What’s going on?”

“Sudden acute gastrointestinal haemorrhage. Alcohol and aspirin.” At Aren’s words, the penny dropped. Simon was just bleeding River’s blood out. Can’t lose both of them.

Aren worked quietly for a few minutes, and Mal just stood at the ready. “Should I get Zoë to change course?”

“We still headed for Belleraphon?”


“Then no. We’ll definitely need medical facilities.”

Mal almost didn’t ask. “Will we get there in time?”

“I really couldn’t say.”

“This is the Captain. I need Zoë to the infirmary. Inara, take the bridge – best speed current destination. Kaylee and Jayne to the engine room.”

Aren wanted to contradict him, but Zoë was the best-qualified member of the crew for the task of helping her. Still, the continued strain… Aren forced herself to focus on one problem at a time, each step in order.

As Mal turned to the door, he spoke again. “Zoë’s on her way. I’m gonna let Kaylee know what’s going on, get her to do what needs to be done, then take the bridge.”

After Mal left, Aren noticed that River had woken and was staring at her hand as she tried to reach Simon’s. As Aren walked toward her with a soother, the girl didn’t ask any questions, merely mumbled the observation, “Two by two, hands are blue.”

“Yes, River. Just some blood loss. You’ll both be fine.” Aren gently stroked the girl’s hair as she positioned the hypo.

“Two by two. Hands are blue.” River tried to emphasis the urgency of her message, but she was asleep again in a moment.

*** *** *** Chapter 45 *** *** ***


Tuesday, March 13, 2007 3:42 AM


Thank you for everyone who contiunes to read and comment.

I'm not sure I like this chapter, but I need to set up for the next one, so, it stays...

Anyway, wish me luck. My muse wants to get drunk and work on my MA thesis for a while as a reward for doing this, and I guess I'd better let her.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 3:56 AM


OMG Simon!

This story is so great but I always feel I'm shaking a little at the end of each chapter.

And not in a GUH way either.

But I love it anyway! xxxx

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 5:49 AM


Get drunk AND work on a thesis? Usually that's an "or" proposition. Still, I like the way your muse thinks.

OK, Mal, NOW you need to do something. Simon's coping behavior just missed the exit for "safe" and hauled ass into "stupid" without stopping for gas or checking the map.

Frankly, Simon just hosed out any support he had. Zoe and River were willing to back him up, but probably not anymore. And Kaylee is hopefully going to be righteously pissed - and this tme it's deserved. Granted her timing sucked, but she at least tried to talk so it wouldn't get this far. Lay it on him, folks!

Aren makes a good point - Simon chose a method where he could potentially be saved, and he'd know better. Maybe just the obvious conclusion to his established behavior? He chose this way because it was the first thing into his head?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 8:26 AM


I really like that you finally had Simon try to off himself, but I feel its coming far too late into the story.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 8:29 AM


Oh...I think Simon chose cutting his wrists/slashing an artery for a reason. And not because it would leave a tiny glimmer of hope...but because it WAS slow and painful and punishing. Simon's hit rock bottom and the crew needs to fight harder than ever before if they want to pull Simon back from the edge permanent:( are just too freakin' brilliant for words, girlfan! How can you think this chapter less than spectacular? You are taking the BDHs into dangerously realistic territory and doing it with a level of skill that Joss would be jealous of:D


Tuesday, March 13, 2007 9:01 AM


Migawd the site is back!

I'm going to disagree with MG - Simon didn't chose this way so they could save him, he chose the slow way to die so the rest of the crew could stand there, helpless, and watch him die.

Simon's going to have one helluva temper when he wakes up and Mal starts up on him. I've got a funny feeling Mal's going to wind up going against the full fury of a man who has never lost control before (or dared to lose control).

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 8:39 PM


Woah. Just too good.

Man, this is getting just so dark and real, it's incredible. This is kinda uncharted waters for our beloved Big Damn Heroes, and gorram if it isn't one helluva ride you're taking them on.

I gotta agree wholeheartedly with BEB and tkid concerning the way in which Simon attempted the suicide. It's all about maximising the anguish in himself. In many ways, it's simply an extension (perhaps a final one) of his cutting.

It can be said, however, that when he wakes up, it's gonna be one VERY interesting little scene.

And go Kaylee for her quick thinking with shutting down the engine! Way to save a life!

Genius, as per usual.


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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.