Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Forty-Six
Monday, March 19, 2007

Simon's point of view, in his time of dying. NC17.


Even Roses Have Thorns

Chapter Forty-Six: Transit umbra, lux permanet (Shadows pass, light remains)

A/N1: the tense change here is deliberate, a sort of attempt at an almost onomatopoeic mental quality. It is intended to be a little weird, dissociatiative and confusing. A/N2: The song here is Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms, and the prayer is Tagore’s “Grasp of Your Hand”. A/N3: The exact translation of this chapter’s title is actually ‘Shadow passes, light remains’, but I took a little license with it because I think it gets my intended mood across better, and there’s no chance of confusion about a possible pun on Mal’s home world of Shadow. Transit umbra, lux permanet was (apparently) traditionally inscribed on sundials.

*** *** *** Chapters 1-10, Chapters 11-20, Chapters 21-30, Chapters 31-35, Chapters 36-40, Chapters 41-45 *** *** ***

He’s always liked the slightly numb feeling alcohol gave him before; he’d always considered himself just about the right level of drunk when he could no longer feel his face properly. But now is not the time for numb. Now is the time for grab what you can before it’s gone.

Unfortunately, in the infirmary, there really isn’t anything to latch onto. It’s not really even his infirmary anymore in his mind, and he’d never quite won it back after his time in it as a patient. There’s the infirmary non-smell, nothing more than disinfectants, and the silence of the locked room. He wonders briefly if he should have brought music, then speculates on whether that would have been melodramatic. He smirks at the thought, but loses it quickly, and it’s hard to get back on track. There’s nothing to see, and he’s had his eyes closed since he lay back on the bed. The taste of whiskey in his mouth is fading – he couldn’t make himself drink the sake – the irony was too dark, and it wasn’t that kind of celebration; Simon wasn’t certain that this was any kind of celebration at all. The blood on his arm is warm. For a while, that’s all he can think of. He opens his eyes for a moment to watch it, and it reminds him of River. “Red for blood.” He feels his first pang of regret. “He looks better in red.” He thinks he smiles, but it’s actually a rather sad quirk at the corners of his mouth. He doesn’t notice when his eyes close again.

It’s not long before the cold slips over Simon; he knew it would happen; he’s just surprised that it’s happening so quickly. He knows that the alcohol in his blood is misting his thoughts, but there was no other way. He’d have preferred no buffer from the cold, no buffer from the slow end. It would be his last act. He wanted to experience it, in all its gore and finality. He wants it, wants to have it. Wants it for himself, for his own. But the alcohol is numbing some of the pain. It’s not what he wants, but he sucks it up. Not getting what he wants he can do, he’s used to it. One last time for the road. He laughs a little, and enjoys the pain it causes.

His stomach hurts, but he swallows down the urge to vomit and breaths gently through his nose, noticing, as he does, how much more shallow it’s gotten. When the power goes out, he’s a little disappointed at how quickly death’s claimed him, before he realises that it’s just an engine outage. It doesn’t occur to him to worry.

Aren’s words, “Blood. Okay. This is actually quite promising,” partly rouses his consciousness and disturbs him with its clear threat of continued life, but he’s no longer in a position to do anything except lie there and bleed. If he could still smile, he would, but he can’t. He does wonder for a moment if this is his punishment for every suicide that he tried to save. He knows it’s probably drunk-cockiness but he pushes the worry away: he has to be too far-gone by now. This is too important to screw up. How’d they get the damn door open anyway?

The chattering between Aren and Mal is disturbing him more than what he considers their pathetic attempts to save his life. He realised what the pain in his abdomen was long before Aren even knew it was there; he knew what it meant. He tries to distract himself as he feels Mal hovering nearby and overhears the Captain asking, “Will we get there in time?”

These mist covered mountains/ Are a home now for me/ But my home is the lowlands/ And always will be/ Some day you’ll return to/ Your valleys and your farms/ And you’ll no longer burn/ To be brothers in arms.

As if on cue, Mal leaves. Simon’s mind snorts a quietly to itself. He can feel River’s mind almost more than her hand, as she tries to reach his. He’d close the gap if he could, and he feels his second pang of regret. Through these fields of destruction/Baptisms of fire/I’ve witnessed your suffering/ As the battles raged higher/And though they did hurt me so bad/ In the fear and alarm/ You did not desert me/ My brothers in arms.

But Aren sends his sister’s soft mind drifting back on waves of sleep. He’s not worried. If she wants to join him, it should be her choice, made freely, not some sort of two for one arrangement. He wants to believe that she can be happy here, but he’s not certain that’s the case. Anyway, he tells himself, that’s for her to decide. There’s so many different worlds/ So many different suns/ And we have just one world/ But we live in different ones.

When Zoë’s hand rests on his shoulder, all he feels is the same gentle – almost – guardianship. It seems like the right word, but he can’t see how it applies to him. Not as the guarded, at any rate. Parental, maybe? He wouldn’t know. Now the suns gone to hell/ And the moons riding high/ Let me bid you farewell/ Every man has to die.

He thinks he hears the distinctive sound of a neck being snapped, but it doesn’t gel with his surroundings – Aren and Zoë and River. They’re not dead. They’re not dying. Just him. He thinks something about sacrifices offered, taken and untaken, but he’s not sure that it’s his thought, or if it’s something he heard somewhere else before.

He wonders if it’s a sin for a suicide to pray. What could the prayers of the damned possibly be worth? Nonetheless, one comes unbidden to his lips as he lies there questioning its appropriateness. Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it. Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved, but hope for the patience to win my freedom. Grant me that I may not be a coward, feeling Your mercy in my success alone; but let me find the grasp of Your hand in my failure. He wonders if this is a failure. He supposes that it is. River might have always liked Nietzsche – ironically appropriate now, he supposes, given that she is, in a way, the Übermensch – but he always preferred Thomas Browne himself: “Where life is more terrible than death, it is then the truest valour to dare to live.” Despite that, Simon doesn’t consider himself a coward. It’s a failure on a moral level, and as a profoundly moral man, he owns that. But it’s his life, his pain – his to end if he chooses. River’s an adult, free to make her own choices – and own mistakes – and right now, he thinks, she’s probably saner than he is. He knows that he should stay to protect her, but how much protecting has he done, lately? He feels a third pang of regret before thinking, “Well, no more regrets.” In the end, there’s no more time for regrets, and this is the end.

He has time to consider that he might be hallucinating – drugs and alcohol and pain and blood loss – before his mind slips and he’s lost to the landscape he finds himself in: walking in a dark, deep, forest where it seemed as though no-one had walked before. He scrapes his arm on a thorn, and the poison stings. He feels profoundly alone.

*** *** *** Chapter 47 *** *** ***


Monday, March 19, 2007 1:16 AM


/Still/ not happy with my writing.

Thank you for reading, and commenting, and for your patience.

Monday, March 19, 2007 1:39 AM


Oh! Readers who have not seen my St. Patrick's Day poll and who might like to participate, can find it here:

Monday, March 19, 2007 3:05 AM


Oh Simon. Oh dear dear dear.

I really do just want to cry when I read your stuff.

But in a good way. :)

I really envy you, I could NEVER write something this intense.

Well done :)


Monday, March 19, 2007 5:01 AM


Very sad from Simon's pov. But - uh, no thoughts about Kaylee? That seems very odd.

Monday, March 19, 2007 7:37 AM


Ouch. Even in death he can't let it all go.

So it seems he didn't want to be saved, after all, and wanted to make sure he suffered. That's so ugly in the head that even if he lives, it might be Simon doing the living.

Just icky. I'm not sure what to think yet.

Monday, March 19, 2007 10:32 AM


girlfan...may I ask what will it take for you to properly see your brilliance? I inquire here because I cannot fathom how you can be unsatisfied with what you wrote here! It's perfect in the level and focus of Simon's self-loathing and disgust at everything, and the iamgery used here was unbelievely sad in it's beauty:D

Also...doesn't really surprise me that there wasn't any thoughts from Simon about Kaylee. For whatever reason - guilt that he is going to drive Kaylee to madness herself though the guilt she will feel or continued fury at her inability to truly fathom what is going through his head and why her behaviour has been rather destructive - thinking on her makes the whole situation tainted:(


Monday, March 19, 2007 5:55 PM


I'm at uni on a friends computer right now, so I'll keep this brief and elaborate further when I'm home and have more time.

Girlfan, that was simply incredible. It seems that every cha [pter you have a small (or large, who can know but you?) quirk about the fic you've posted that you don't like.
I'll be honest, I don't see it. There's absolutely nothing wrong with anything I've written so far. Anything.
And this chapter is simply more proof that will solidify my position over just how great a fic writer you are.

Just mesmerising stuff. Heartbreaking and angsty and downright *hard*.

Bravo, and kudos of the highest order.


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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
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Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Fifty-One
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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.

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.