Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Forty-Eight
Sunday, April 1, 2007

Because it never goes smooth. PG. Canon pairings +1 (River/ofc). Bridging piece.


Chapter Forty-Eight: Virtute et armis (By courage and by arms) Part I

*** *** *** Chapters 1-10, Chapters 11-20, Chapters 21-30, Chapters 31-35, Chapters 36-40, Chapters 41-45, Chapter 46, Chapter 47 *** *** ***

After the guards shoved the cousins into their cell, Sam slid down the wall to sit on the floor, his head in his hands, his knees up to his chin. Ceres sat on the floor on the opposite wall and watched him silently as he cried.

What the hell was she going to do? Sam wasn’t a soldier. Sam was Sam.

She remembered the last time she’d seen him. His mother had taken them to the airport. She’d been four. He’d been three, and couldn’t pronounce her name properly. It had never occurred to her that his compromise might become a nickname. Leaving her past behind had not meant burning any bridges, but it had meant ignoring any bridges back, and Sam had been one. She knew that his mother had been pregnant when they’d left, and that that baby had been another boy, her cousin Ben. She’d never met him. She knew that their father went missing in action during the war, and was presumed, then later legally declared, dead. Last she’d heard Sam had gone to university to study art history.

Green’s words came back to her. “You though you were alone in this cold, dark universe, but you’re not. Isn’t it wonderful?” ‘I hate love,’ she thought as she pushed herself up and sat down next to Sam, arm around his shoulder, as he shook.


She was flat on her back, and everything hurt. As the unconsciousness slowly lifted into a vague wakefulness, Ceres inwardly groaned deeply with guilt. If she’d been beaten badly enough to pass out, what had those hundans done to Sam? She opened her eyes. They were back in their cell.

She turned her head to the left. Sam was still out. She’d known that already. If Sam had come around first, he’d have been on her like sweat on skin. He didn’t know much about field medicine – not that they could even do much by way of first aid, but he was picking it up pretty quickly. They had to talk about something, and it was a topic of recurring interest.

She peeled herself off of the floor tentatively, noting each injury and wincing. They all reminded her – Sam’s hurt worse. She checked her cousin for injuries, starting with his head.


“You know, I’ve heard suicide defined as a permanent solution to a temporary problem. In your case, it would appear, it’s a temporary solution to a permanent problem.”

Simon’s head throbbed, and the unfamiliar voice made his eyes snap open – then shut, because the light was set just above his head and too gorram bright. He heard the light switch off and felt the heat from the bulb being pushed away from his face. The unfamiliar voice spoke again. “You can open your eyes now, Dr. Tam.”

Simon did. He’d never seen them before, but that didn’t matter. He’d recognise them anywhere – a pair of Blue Sun spooks.

“I’m Agent Green, and this is my partner, Agent Banks. To bring you up to speed, you successfully killed yourself, and were then resuscitated. On your arrival at the Haymer property on Belleraphon, you were rushed into surgery, where an extraction team was waiting to bring you to us. You have been treated for your injuries, and the limb-replacement surgery you were scheduled for on Belleraphon was completed. As a gesture of good faith, we made no attempt to capture your sister or harm any member of Serenity’s crew.”

“Gesture of good faith?” Simon repeated the phrase numbly. It was bizarre, but he tended to believe them.

“Yes. A gesture of good faith. We have an offer for you. We don’t think you’ll like it, of course, but we think you’ll accept it.” Green glanced at Banks, and his assistant picked up the explanation.

Banks began, “We’re proposing a straight deal, Dr. Tam: one life for another. You cooperate with us, and we will stop perusing your sister."

Simon wondered where the adrenaline was. It should really have kicked in by now. “How will I know?” He managed to grind out between clenched teeth. Even moving his jaw so little turned the pain in his head to white-hot.

Banks understood the implied question, and smiled tightly to himself. Dr. Tam was clearly not at the top of his game. “You will be allowed to create a message to send to your sister. Included in that will be the offer that she will be permitted to write to you, and we will not in any way interfere with the letters, though will, of course, be ensuring that the letters contain nothing more dangerous than paper and ink. You will be permitted to acknowledge them, though, as a precaution, your replies will be limited to responses such as 'I received your letter dated... Love, Simon,' or 'I received your undated letter beginning... Love, Simon'."

Simon’s mind was not sufficiently suppressed by the pain to not notice the careful construction of the plan. Still, it was an offer they didn’t need to make. Clearly they were cutting their losses.

Banks continued. “It’s more than fair, all things considered, Dr. Tam. We already have you; we didn’t need to make you this offer. Should you not accept, we will continue to pursue River Tam. Given your sister’s nature, and that we have already accepted the loss on this project, that pursuit will likely result in her death. Tactically, simple destruction of Serenity will be simplest for us, resulting, clearly, in the deaths of all aboard her.”

Clearly they were cutting their losses. Simon changed the subject. “Where is Ceres?”

“Miss Swann is currently in her cell, recovering from her most recent beating and attempting, I believe, to render first aid to her cousin, whom we have acquired in an effort to pressure her. They have no equipment with which to tend their injuries, and the medical attention she is in receipt of is, currently, minimal. Her whipping boy, of course, receives none.” A thought hit Banks. “With your cooperation, you could ameliorate the worst of their suffering. We could permit you access to them and to first aid equipment with which to treat them.”

The headache was not helping Simon’s already snarky nature. “Sweetening the deal with rat poison.”

“Suicide on the brain, Dr. Tam?” Green’s retort cut in.

“It’s a good deal, Dr. Tam. We already have you, after all. You have nothing to lose, and much to gain from accepting it.”

Simon knew that already. He closed his eyes and nodded. “I accept your deal.” It was him against the devil protecting his own.


Mal watched River out of the corner of his eye. She’d been eerily calm throughout, eerily calm since they’d first won Simon back. The longer it went on, the less reassured by it he was. It didn’t seem right that she hadn’t snapped, at least a little.

As if in response, he noticed that she turned her head toward him, to where he sat in the co-pilot’s seat, and spoke. “Dead nine minutes precisely. Important number. 9. A symbolic three x three. Past, Present, Future. Body, Mind, Soul. Life, Death, Rebirth.”


Inara had closed herself in her shuttle. Jayne wondered if she knew how much noise she was making trashing her things. He sat on the edge of his workbench, having pushed his body past its point. Zoe'd finally knocked Kaylee out cold with something from the infirmary, and he'd run out of things to do to distract himself. He went to his bunk to change his shirt, and then to the kitchen to dig out the bottle of whiskey he’d set aside. Then he headed back to the cargo bay to wait for the crashing sounds to stop.

He sat on the steps outside her shuttle and gave it time. Eventually the crashing stopped and he waited several more minutes before he got up and knocked. She opened the door a crack after another minute, and her eyes were red and her hair untidy. He lifted the bottle a little, and spoke steadily, “To absent friends.” Inara let him in.

*** *** *** Chapter 49 *** *** ***


Sunday, April 1, 2007 11:29 PM


I have posted.

Thank you to everyone who continues to read and comment - the support is appreciated.

Monday, April 2, 2007 6:28 AM


Oh, Simon. Of he'd take the deal. He do realize that if (when) she figures it out, River's going to come after and get killed anyway, right? Here's hoping that once his brain is back online, Simon remembers some lessons from his little trip through Hell. Until then, Ceres ain't beat yet, and she's at least motivated to get the hell out of there.

Monday, April 2, 2007 6:28 AM


Sorry - have I missed something here? I've gone back over the previous chapter, and apart from the comment to "Send an extraction team" - suddenly Simon is in the hands of the Alliance? I need to know how!

Monday, April 2, 2007 6:33 AM


>Sorry - have I missed something here?

No, not at all. I plan on revealing it as the characters piece together/deal with what happened.

What G&B say to Simon and the last bit with Jayne and Inara is foreshadowing.

Monday, April 2, 2007 11:43 AM


Come on!

Comments are love!

Monday, April 2, 2007 8:04 PM


And love ye shall recieve!

Hot damn, it's good to have you back!

Man, Simon must have the shits in the extreme. He *fails* in his attempt at suicide, and now he wakes up in the hands of Blue Sun...which, if i recall correctly, are the hundans who started this whole hellish experience of his with a bunch of brutal torture. Things really aren't looking up for him at all, and I love it.

As for Ceres...that poor girl just can't catch a break can she? Grren and Banks are on top of their game when it comes to her. Bringing in the friends and relatives from her past....evil genius stuff. Her situation is so dire, yet still she finds the strength of will to look after her cousin and hold on to what little hope (to the point of insignificance?) there is.

Green and Banks...such good antagonists. Truly evil in the most vile sense of the word. Brutal, cold, incredibly efficient? Yes. Dead set masterminds? Absolutely.

Pure gold fic here girlfan. Pure gold.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007 4:05 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER are definitely maintaining your ability to write some quality angst and drama here, girlfan! Cuz damn...I know what I would be thinking if I had tried to commit suicide, failed and ended up back in the hands of those who tortured me:(

And Ceres...definitely loving the work you're doing with her, especially all the exploration of her past and her desire to do everything she can for those she cares about. Even if hope seems a faint memory. A worthy partner to our favourite teenage Cassandra/Athena hybrid;D


Thursday, April 5, 2007 8:21 AM




Says it all, really, BEB.

Saturday, April 7, 2007 2:28 PM


I'm thinking Book's shade isn't a deliverer of afterworld-justice, but a corrupter of the innocent.

Book has cut Simon off from one avenue of escape from a not-so-bright future, the one way Simon could prevent Blue Sun from turning Simon into some evil, never-question-orders zombie; death.

If Simon refuses Blue Sun's orders, he risks his sister and friends being killed/hurt. If Simon doesn't refuse Blue Sun's orders, he hurts strangers. So Simon can't run from Blue Sun, can't resist Blue Sun, and cannot look to death for a way out of his predicament.

I cannot believe that God would so utterly abandon Simon and Ceres, ergo Book's shade, Shepherd status notwithstanding, is evil.


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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.