Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Forty-Nine
Sunday, April 8, 2007

The crew pieces together the facts of Simon's disappearance. PG. Canon pairings +1 (River/ofc).


Even Roses Have Thorns

Chapter Forty-Nine: Virtute et armis (By courage and by arms) Part II

*** *** *** Chapters 1-10, Chapters 11-20, Chapters 21-30, Chapters 31-35, Chapters 36-40, Chapters 41-45, Chapter 46, Chapter 47, Chapter 48 *** *** ***

Mostly they just sat together in companionable silence, passing the bottle of whiskey between them. Jayne, when he thought to, watched Inara surreptitiously. He saw that she was struck by something, and followed her gaze. In her rampage, she had spared Aren’s bags. They still sat neatly at the doorway, irony so deep even Inara couldn’t begin to unravel it.

They’d pieced the facts together eventually. They’d both been part of the story, though from different directions. Aren had taken Simon into the theatre to be prepped for surgery, and Haymer’s surgeon had taken charge of the unconscious River, trying to stabilise her, and assess the damage to her heart. When he was done, he immediately scrubbed up to take over from Aren, but he’d barely stepped into the theatre when he stepped back out, face ashen.

Mal and Zoë had jumped to the same conclusion – Simon had expired again – and this time, forever – while they’d worked on River. But that wasn’t the case. Simon was gone. Just gone.Aren was found on the floor of the theatre, scrubbed up, a bullet between the eyes. Zoë called for Jayne, whose tracking skills were too far behind time to catch up, even though he did, unbelievably, find a trail. While Jayne and Zoë raced through the building in an attempt to find Simon, Mal had confronted Haymer, who’d known nothing about the raid. It was when Inara, up until then comforting Kaylee, intervened to convince Mal that Haymer wasn’t lying that she discovered that Simon wasn't the only one who was gone. It was her tailspin, moreso than her conviction that Haymer had not been party to their betrayal, that pulled Mal back into the moment and his crew. He ordered them all back to Serenity. Haymer offered to send his surgeon with them, but with the surgeon’s assurance that River would be fine, Mal declined. He just wanted to get gone.

Mal ordered Jayne to bring the body back, and Jayne complied without complaint. Zoë took charge of the still-unconscious River and the devastated Kaylee, and Mal walked his fiancée to her shuttle before he took the bridge to fly them away from the site of their greatest caper, but which they would always associate with loss. Aren’s body now rested, covered, on the counter of the infirmary, and Jayne had adjusted the temperature to – well, that’s just what you did, and Jayne could do that.

Jayne had run out of things he could do.


“She’s done it,” River whispered in disbelief.

Mal’s head snapped up and over to his pilot. “What do you know, lil’Albatross?”

River pointed to a Cortex search she’d apparently been monitoring. “Inara. She found where they took Simon.”

“River,” Mal started gently. This was the breakdown he’d been expecting. It was almost reassuring, despite how sad it was. “I don’t think ‘Nara’s up to searching for Simon just yet.”

“No.” River agreed firmly, voice sad. “But she was.” River pointed to the information again and Mal rose to examine the screen. It took his breath away. “Permission to change heading, Captain?”

“Do it.” Mal’s nod was firm. “Bridge is yours, River.” He had to find Zoë.

River smiled, unseen. What little they had in common, they had this, her captain, and her brother: when it came to protecting their family, they had a flair for the dramatic.

*** Simon’s guards escorted him to his cell, but he asked to be taken to see Ceres. They complied, unexpectedly, and they gave him a first aid kit when he asked for it. He palmed some painkillers from the bottle and got a water bottle from his guards before they let him into Ceres’ cell. His head was still throbbing, but he had patients to care for.

He knelt next to Sam, and Ceres instinctively moved to give him more room. For several minutes, she just watched silently as he worked, not more than looking up to glance at his face as he entered. Then, suddenly, she looked at him, and announced, “Dead nine minutes precisely. Important number, 9. Past, Present, Future. Body, Mind, Soul. Life, Death, Rebirth. A symbolic three by three. Thirty-three: ancient mysteries, all things are possible.”

Simon pushed the pain in his head down as far as he could, and replied, shaky, All things are possible. We will get out of this.

Ceres stiffened slightly in surprise, and her eyes widened involuntarily, but no other reaction betrayed her shock. Do they know?

No. But they believe me capable of learning.

Our secret then.

For a while, Simon agreed. After Simon finished attending to Sam, he stood, almost swaying, and stumbled into the tiny water closet that attached to their cell. When he emerged he lay down on the cell floor and mumbled, “Headache. I’m going to close my eyes for a while.” Ceres pushed up against the wall and rested her head on her knees, watching the boys breath. Simon wasted no time. He immediately dumped everything he knew about their situation, and Serenity’s in half-mumbled words and thoughts and pictures into Ceres’ head.

Ceres was more circumspect, carefully selecting memories and information to share. Still, Simon’s control was hard to fathom – tired and in pain, with no real training, he was still communicating effectively, if not entirely coherently. She considered offering some lessons, but he really did need to rest. He’d been running on empty since forever. She knew that she would never have chosen to survive.

“You should take a soother. You should sleep.”

“Someone should watch Sam.”

“I’m just closing my eyes.”

“Well, then we’ll take turns closing our eyes, Simon.”

“Okay.” He agreed too readily, but it didn’t matter. You didn’t need to be psychic to know that Simon needed the rest. His soft snores started after a few minutes, and Ceres smiled. Snoring never bothered her. It meant that she knew her companions were alive without having to check. Where there was life, there was hope? Perhaps. Where there was life, there were options, at least. Still, Simon had made a deal, dangerous and damned. Only Simon would dare to negotiate with Blue Sun; and perhaps more because of that than anything else, Blue Sun considered him enough of a threat to negotiate with. But bitterly negotiated as it was, it was unfinished. The consummation of that deal was still to come, and was due in flesh and blood.

*** Ceres came to abruptly, disturbed by the feel of something soft beneath her. It was a cot. She sat up, and winced at the pain in her abdomen. Sam and Simon had cots too. Someone, probably Simon, had patched Sam up. It was a fairly basic level of care, but he at least he’d finally received some. She raised an eyebrow at Simon, who shrugged at her. “I gave him a soother. He needs deep rest to repair. I gave him some regen boosters, nutrient supplements and re-wrapped his injuries.”

She reached across and gently touched his mind, not surprised by the dark nimbus she found there. They had to be quick. Too much silence, and someone might suspect. In any case, she didn’t want to be open, and she didn’t think that she should risk tiring him out. Quicker was better on all fronts. She pushed gently, to let him know that she was there. His shoulders stiffened fractionally, but he didn’t even look up.

What did you see? She could tell he’d seen something; the dark gore-red-brown (anger-pain) nimbus was shot through with the brimstone-red-black smoke of his shame and traces of the green-black-brown bile of disgust.

Surgery. Genetic project, came the reply, though why it was coloured with the gunmetal grey of regret, Ceres did not understand. I need you to help me. She remembered the steel colossus that she’d pictured before she’d seen him. I need you to help me find River’s mind. She knew then that she’d started, but pretended to be rubbing a cramp in her side, before lying back down. Simon finished, I have a plan. I think, in a few more hours, I’ll have a mental map of this entire facility – ins, outs, exits, trips, traps you name it. Even when they try not to underestimate me, they still do. Find River, feed her enough to start planning something. I won’t know yet for a while exactly what kind of help we’ll need.

Okay. Ceres sent a mental nod for emphasis.

They think that we’re lovers, Simon said.

I know. I think that we should encourage the illusion.

That could be exactly what they want with the genetic project, Simon suggested.

No. They don’t need us to be lovers for that. But it might convince them that you have truly taken their offer if they believe that you’re trying to protect a lover as well as a sister.

“Let’s rearrange the cell, now that we have some cots and things.” Simon began out loud. He paused, then continued as if on impulse, “If you would just…” before he stopped abruptly.

“If I would just what?”

Simon made his tone regretful. “If you’d just, I don’t know cooperated a little more. Just let them train you, train harder, maybe we wouldn’t have to live like prisoners.”

Ceres made her voice sound exasperated. “We are prisoners, Simon.”

Simon dropped his voice as if under the illusion that perhaps it wouldn’t be as easy to pick up by the hidden audio equipment. “I know, I just… I just think that we have to make the best of the situation. I mean I get that there are things you won’t do, and there are things I wouldn’t do. But couldn’t you wait until they dragged you to that spot before you – look, I just think that if you cooperated more, at least just on your training, maybe we could – I don’t, have a dorm instead of a cell. With a separate room for Sam. And proper – facilities.” Ceres snorted and Simon continued. “Look, we could, I don’t know, live like people. I get that we’re prisoners. I do. But River’s safe, our friends are safe, and we’re together. That counts for something, right? Let’s just – just do it for Sam’s sake, even if you won’t do it for mine.” Ceres considered his soft guilt-tripping tone exactly perfect.

They manoeuvred the cots so that Sam’s was in the bottom right corner against the wall, and pushed Simon’s toward the bottom left corner but left enough room to climb out, and pushed Ceres’ bed along Simon’s. Ceres demanded to be in the middle; it gave her the best access to the door. They then lay down and curled together, Ceres’ head on Simon’s shoulder, and holding hands. They closed their eyes and reached out, together, to find River’s mind. They had a rescue to coordinate, and not very much time to do it in.


On Serenity, in the pilot’s chair, River snapped awake with a smile.

When Inara came to relieve her, River went to Simon’s room check on Kaylee. The mechanic was still asleep, hovering between sleep and drug-induced unconsciousness almost constantly. Jayne had taken to sleeping in Book’s old room to be close at hand, but Kaylee never needed anything. Like Simon, like Aren, she was just gone. Not even Inara could do much with the girl, though she tried. River curled next to her friend and whispered her hopes into Kaylee’s dreams.

*** *** *** Chapter 50 *** *** ***


Sunday, April 8, 2007 11:24 AM


First of all, thank you to everyone who continues to read and support this series.

Second of all, and by no means navel-gazing, I am completely unhappy with this piece. I'm really okay with it if you are too.

See you all next Sunday, when our three basket-case pyschics construct a rescue plan.

Sunday, April 8, 2007 1:09 PM


So Simon is overtly psychic now. He seems to always have had a subtle version of what River could do - what with sharing the songs and everything - but it seems he's figured it out and made it conscious. Was that induced by his little trip through the afterlife? I feel like I missed something somewhere...were there clues I just went past?

I'm sad over Aren - I really liked her. I surely hope Jayne gets some retribution for her. Like Wash and Book, she was another innocent hurt for doing right by River, and she deserves the same consideration.

Sunday, April 8, 2007 3:08 PM


Whoa! Retribution promised for all the pain inflicted, or there's at least the hope of retribution. Chosen to survive? Book's shade offered a way out maybe? Like this very much, like Simon's sudden strength even better - it offers hope instead of the moping that he's done. I can't wait for the next ... Sunday?!?!?

Next Sunday before the next chapter is posted?


Sunday, April 8, 2007 3:43 PM


Well well well. THAT was interesting. A whole lotta unseen doors just got blown way the hell open methinks.

Simon the psychic? I can understand that. He said they are in a Genetics Project, and if little sister is a reader, then perhaps big brother shares the trait. I don't think that he is *as* psychic as River or Ceres, but as MG pointed out, the songs sung in previous chapters make it seem that he has some base ability.
Also, with the whole 'reaching out to River's mind', I think that Ceres was doing almost all the work. Simon is far too weak mentally to be of much help to her in that task right now. At best, I think his mind would be acting as a kind of locator or booster.
After all, we don't know REALLY how powerful Ceres is. But one assumes (at least I do) that if what we've seen of her abilities is her in control, then what exactly is she like when she unleashes?

That said, the comments on her interpretations of Simon's 'colours' seem likely to make what I just typed utterly redundant and completely wrong. Maybe while he was out, Banks and Green did a little 'reconstructive surgery' of their own on Simon's brainpan.Just hypothesising.

Loved the 'reader dialogue' between those two also. Conniving ones they are. Banks and Green have no idea, it's great!

And is it possible? Could it be? Is that a Big Damn Rescue coming into formation?
Yes? No? Maybe?

I love that Simon's starting to take charge of himself. It makes a nice change from the mopey bastard he was. Now, that change make me wonder just what caused it...

Damnit girlfan, you've opened up so many possibilities it's so damn hard to guess without feeling completely wrong! You're too good!

I'm happy with it girlfan, so now you have to be too!

Monday, April 9, 2007 2:41 AM


It really was a good chapter, as always. One thing is these last few chapters have been just a teensy bit confusing. It might just because of the time between reading them though.

Bring on the big damn rescue!!!!

Friday, April 13, 2007 8:25 PM


Damn...things have just gotten all kinds of interesting, I must admit. Especially the revelation that Simon now has a level of active psychic ability - his conversations with Ceres being the current example - since it's probably been a long time coming. Do have to wonder how his powers got fired up though...external tinkering or did Simon's death experience allow him the freedom to unlock the portion of his brain that deals with psychic phenomena:S

Still...amazing work here, girlfan! Really loved the level of angst and careful scheming presented in this chapter;)



You must log in to post comments.



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.