BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

GIRLFAN

Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Eighteen
Friday, January 5, 2007

Simon has been captured. Zoe tries to hold things together for Kaylee and River. Angst is afoot. Canon pairings. This chapter is rated NC17, for adult themes. Postive feedback perfered.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1600    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Even Roses Have Thorns

Chapter Eighteen: Ignis aurum probat (literally, fire tests gold) Part I

*** *** *** Chapters 1-10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapters 14-15, Chapter 16, Chapter 17 *** *** ***

Simon Tam reminded himself that he was used to dealing with pain. Mostly other people’s, of course. Pain that usually had a relatively easy solution: pain killers. Still, he tried to focus on the ephemeral quality of pain. Pain was only frightening because the body was terrified it was being injured – damaged. Simon wished that he could be confident that they would only hurt him – rather than damage him; use him as bait for a trap – until Mal and Serenity came to get him back.

*** Simon was marched down a corridor and into a yet another cell. This was clearly the cell, the place where the nightmare would really begin. Two guards manhandled him into the metal chair, while another secured Simon’s cuffs to the chair. Across the desk from Simon sat an impassive looking dark haired older man, not unlike Simon’s father. It was not a happy association on any level. The guards saluted and left.

The interrogator pointed to the tray full of standard surgical equipment. He began easily. “Usually, we begin by showing prisoners the tools of our trade. Sort of a softening up process. I know that you won’t be terrified by the sight of a few surgical tools, because they are not nameless, sharp mostly unidentifiable objects to you, Dr. Tam. No, you see them as the tools that they are – not intrinsically good, or bad – not intrinsically anything. You know that it is the hand behind the scalpel, the mind behind the hand that makes the cut – the cut is merely done through the scalpel, not by it. Would you prefer if I called it an incision? No, I see by your eyes that you do not. You’re right, of course. We are serious men, and do serious deeds. Petty games are to aid the understanding of lesser minds, and would only distract you from the harrowing truth I want you to concentrate your mind wholly on.”

“I’m not going to betray my sister.” Simon’s voice was flat.

“No. But you will give her up, eventually. I imagine that the amount of pain you will allow yourself to be in before then will help assuage your guilt.” The interrogator tented his hands on his desk in front of himself. “Dr. Tam, you’ve given her a considerable head start. We can skip any further heroics and have you moved to a holding cell for arraignment. You just have to answer a couple simple questions.”

Simon decided to use the questions to figure out a plausible story that would throw the searchers off of their track. He swallowed, mostly for effect. “What questions?”

“We’ve turned the Skyplex inside out. River Tam isn’t there. How’d she get away? Where would she go?”

Simon decided that the answer to that would be fast burn rocket shuttle. The only place that could get from there was the planet. But he would wait to tell the interrogator that. All his lies would sound more plausible when given under pain.

“Where is Serenity?”

Simon decided to tell them that he and River had left Serenity a few weeks ago, when they thought that the warrants had been quashed.

“See? No need to suffer, or risk death. No need to prepare yourself for martyrdom.”

Simon licked his lips carefully before speaking. “Tell me, are you familiar with the works of Shan Yu?”

The interrogator just stared.

***

As Zoë walked toward the passenger dorms, she felt trapped by the patent irony that what River most needed to comfort her, her valiant ge ge – couldn’t come to her. She stood outside the girl’s room, wondering exactly how often Simon had had to do this. Everyone, herself included, had helped from time to time, but Simon would have stoically borne the burden alone. She wondered too, if this had been the easy part; the two years before he’d rescued his must have been a nightmare far surpassing the one he presently found himself in. ‘I take it back,’ she thought. ‘Simon’s probably only been snatched by his third or fourth worst nightmare.’ She knocked on River’s door, and gently slid it back.

“Ninth worst.” River said. The voice came from behind Zoë, and the older woman turned. River was standing in Simon’s doorway. “Nightmare 1: River is snatched and turned into an evil weapon, with no possibility of rescue or retrieval. Nightmare 2: River is snatched and never heard from again. Nightmare 3: River is snatched and tortured into a permanent vegetative state. Nightmare 4: River is snatched and tortured to death. Nightmare 5: Simon and pregnant Zoë are snatched. Zoë’s baby is put at risk by Simon’s torturers. Nightmare 6: Simon and Kaylee are snatched. Kaylee is put at risk by Simon’s torturers. Nightmare 7: Inara or non-pregnant Zoë and Simon are snatched. Inara or Zoë are put at risk by Simon’s torturers. Nightmare 8: Mal or Jayne and Simon are snatched. Mal or Jayne are put at risk by Simon’s torturers. Nightmare 9: Simon is snatched.”

Zoë’s heart skipped a beat. The flatness of the way the girl said it made it painfully clear that Simon had actually thought about it. Sat up, working it out. Weighted each life, each relationship. She was touched, too, that her baby – unborn and unknown to all of them – warrant such a protective urge from the boy. ‘Women and children first,’ she thought. Simon was such an old fashioned boy. Instinctively, she gathered the girl into a hug. “He did good, getting Kaylee away.”

“He doesn’t think he’d give me up for Kaylee. Scared she’d find out, hate him for it, for what he let them do to her. What he let them do to her while he watched.”

“Doesn’t think?”

The girl shrugged, but Zoë saw the emotion in her eyes. “He’s never been tortured before.”

“He never lets himself have a moment’s peace, does he?”

“Zoë.” The older women barely heard the girl’s so-soft voice. “I have to sit down now. The torture will start soon.” Zoë could see the sadness vying with frantic terror in her eyes, and guided her back to Simon’s bed.

“You sure this the room you want to be in?”

River nodded wordlessly.

“Okay.” Zoë thought for a moment. “Want me to sit with you?”

“No. Too scary. Don’t want you to hear. Simon would be mad.”

“Okay. Call me if you need anything.” She turned and headed toward the door.

“Zoë.” Zoë turned to face the girl again, it pained her to hear how the girl was struggling to keep her tears back and her voice steady.

“What, hon?”

“Promise me.”

“Promise what?”

“No drugs. I might be needed. I don’t know how much help I can be… but no drugs. Tie me up, if you have to. Gag me. Cut my vocal cords… but no drugs. In case I can help Simon.”

“No one’s cuttin’ on you. No one’s drugging you. I promise.” Zoë sat on the bed and held River.

“Zoë, please go. I have to scream. The pain… Don’t want you to hear. Don’t let Mal or Kaylee hear. Please, please go.”

Zoë held the girl tight once more before walking away without looking back. As the door slide into place, River’s screams poured out as a keening wail.

Zoë walked quickly to the engine room, where she found Kaylee and Jayne sitting together in silence. “Kaylee, go help Inara in the shuttle. She’s trying to find any leads on Simon, and she hasn’t had any luck so far.” The girl left wordlessly without ever meeting Zoë’s eyes.

“Jayne, got a favour to ask of ya.”

The big mercenary stood. “Yea, Zo?”

“River’s pretty bad right now. I’m sure you can guess why.”

“Yea.”

“I’d like you to go sit in the passenger dorms. Next time River stops screamin’ to take a breath let her know you’re there if she needs somethin’.” Zoë saw the fear cross Jayne’s face then. “Gets too much, gag her if you’ve gotta, but you know not to leave her alone for even a minute if ya do?”

“Yea, Zoë, know about that stuff… but, uh, couldn’t we drug her? No need for her to be feelin’ all them things they’re doin’ to ‘er brother.” Zoe could see that he couldn’t quite meet her eyes, either. “Zo… Ya know I don’t like listenin’ to her scream, Zoë. I ain’t patient like the doc. And gaggin’ ‘er’s kinda… cold.”

“I know Jayne. But she doesn’t want to be drugged. Wants to be able to help Simon any way she can.”

Jayne looked at his boots for a moment and spoke. “What ‘bout lil’Kaylee?”

“Inara’s got her, and she can’t hear River from the shuttle.”

Jayne nodded and headed past Zoë out of the engine room.

“Jayne, ya don’t have to do this. Ain’t somethin’ I’d order ya to do.”

“‘Preciate it, Zoë, but I’ll go.” As he turned back toward the exit, he said quietly. “Ain’t no favour either, Zo. Ya don’t owe me.”

*** Jayne strode quickly toward the passenger dorms, if only to put some distance between him and Zoë. The girl was still screaming her lungs out, but it sounded as if she was trying to muffle it with a pillow. He parked himself in Book’s old dorm, hoping the old man’s calm would rub off on him. Penance. It was a good Book word, and probably the best description of the hellish scenario he was now in. Whatever what Kaylee had done could be called – and Jayne didn’t agree about the ‘turning in’ part, it had been by accident. He’d once done if for real, for money. If anyone should be made to hear the suffering of the Tams under torture, he knew it should be him.

*** *** *** Chapter 19 *** *** ***

COMMENTS

Friday, January 5, 2007 5:01 AM

GIRLFAN


Thank you to all who have commented - several of the comments have weaved their way into the story, in more (or less, cough, cough) subtle ways. They continue to influence me, cause me to think about what I'm writing, where the story is leading - I appreciate all of that.

I hope you continue to read and comment.

Friday, January 5, 2007 6:22 AM

LEIASKY


Wonderfully done torture scene without actually writing the torture. The interrogator was just perfectly done, taking into account Simon's knowledge of the impliments that would soon be causing him pain.

I like Zoe here, and continue to like her throughout the story. She's got the level head and her scene with River and Jayne was wonderful.

I'd like to see more of how Kaylee is feeling over this turn of events, especially if she hears River screaming and knows that its because of what's being done to Simon.

>If anyone should be made to hear the suffering of the Tams under torture, he knew it should be him.

Perfect Jayne thought.

Friday, January 5, 2007 6:52 AM

MANICGIRAFFE


> “Tell me, are you familiar with the works of Shan Yu?”

Ha! I liked that one. Sarcastic Simon is always fun.

I like Jayne showing a little heart here. He knows he screwed up on Ariel, and is willing to take a little karmic punishment for it. Good for him.

Simon's nightmares are great - most possible combinations of crew, all being injured on his behalf. And River's one little bit of analysis is actually scary: he doesn't mnd if Kaylee gets tortured for River - he's only scared that she'd find he lets them. Now THAT is creepy.

Friday, January 5, 2007 7:13 AM

GIRLFAN


"And River's one little bit of analysis is actually scary: he doesn't mnd if Kaylee gets tortured for River - he's only scared that she'd find he lets them. Now THAT is creepy."

Well he does mind. He just minds more what the fact that River gets places 1-4 and Kaylee's only number 6, and he doesn't particularly like what that says about him.

Friday, January 5, 2007 7:13 AM

GIRLFAN


Oh! And

> “Tell me, are you familiar with the works of Shan Yu?”

Ha! I liked that one. Sarcastic Simon is always fun.

Thank you so much. I'm always worried that my funny isn't that... well, funny.

Friday, January 5, 2007 7:29 AM

GIRLFAN


>If anyone should be made to hear the suffering of the Tams under torture, he knew it should be him.
Perfect Jayne thought.

Thank you, too, Leiasky. Like I was saying somewhere else, I think Jayne's a hard character to get right. He's always had some sense of conscience, however deeply buried, and it does seem to grow through the series and the movie. But still, Jayne is in other ways very straightforward, and you can't make Jayne too deep. It's a hard balance to strike, and I'm not sure that I do it perfectly, but it's nice to know that that line, in particular, rang true.

Friday, January 5, 2007 9:36 PM

TAMSIBLING


Nice - this is an incredibly tense piece and although the Simon/Kaylee dynamic from the beginning has been troublesome (just because I don't like them apart), I think your further exploration of Simon's character, through the nightmare scenarios and his discussion with the interrogater are just perfect!

Sunday, January 7, 2007 4:55 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Oh...this is some mighty brilliant work here, girlfan! Definitely loved both the scene between Simon and his interrogator, and Zoe's conversation with River about Simon's own fears and River's need to experience Simon's torture while still remaining fully cognisant. Was definitely thinking during these times you had Joss tied up in your basement for assistance;D

But I really gotta give you props for how you handled Jayne here. Nothing is ever truly water under the bridge when it comes to characters inhabiting Joss' storyverses and I was totally taken in by how you had Jayne accept his role as observer to River's agony and penitant seeking absolution for a crime Jayne needs to come to grips with so he can have a solid relationship -if only platonic and generally antagonistic - with River:D

BEB

Sunday, January 7, 2007 8:39 PM

GIRLFAN


Tamsibling - I don't like them apart either. The huge fight in chapter six came from no where, really.


BEB - are you pacing yourself? I love coming back to your comments, but, like Jayne, 'ain't patient'. Would love more shiney comments sooner. :)


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