g to nc-17 | sexual content | crazy space incest | major character death | violence

He won't ask about the finger-shaped bruises that mar her wrists.

She almost seems to be taunting him, flaunting them, the way she reaches across him to grab the bowl of rice. Look, she says. Look at what he does to me. Look at what I let him do to me.

He won't ask about the noises he hears at night, the loud screams and squeals that almost urge him to burst into her chamber. The laughing, the obnoxious laughing.

He won't even look at her. She's not there. She doesn't exist.


He's filthy. He doesn't want to think about what might be in the mud that is splattered on his face, his arms, his legs. The cut on his lip and the pain in his side tell him that he's losing this fight, but he struggles to stand up again.

River would have been a much better diversion. (If she wasn't in the infirmary, strapped down, sedated.)

Kaylee signals him; maybe she's just cringing. Either way, Mal and Zoe and Jayne aren't bursting in yet, so he has to keep it up.

He manages a Chinese curse before he loses consciousness.


"Why don't you stay here?"

Inara laughs, softly. "I couldn't work here. There's only a few people here who can afford my - "

"Not necessarily here," Simon says, absently reaching out and touching the rich foliage. "Anywhere. Any world where you could live a normal life, surrounded by normal people with normal problems."

"Normal gets boring after a while."

"I'd kill for something to be normal again," he murmurs.

"You'd kill? Really?"

He turns towards her with a smile, but something in the way she says it, something in the expression on her face ... he suddenly feels very cold.


He put his foot in his mouth again when he suggested that perhaps she go with something other than the frilly pink frock. It wasn't her fault. She'd been raised in the middle of nowhere; she just didn't understand style & fashion.

"You could have just said it was ugly and saved yourself the trouble of buying another ticket," she said, storming past him.

He felt slightly guilty, but nothing more. Then he remembered that he was still a fugitive, still had no home, and all the other women here were married, related, or out of his league.

He followed her.


He waits, staring at the gray walls, listening to the muffled noises outside. Everything hurts, so he closes his eyes, wincing as the action tugs on the stitched skin on his forehead.

The guard outside is laughing.

He has been told that he is being transfered, that he is going to another prison, but he's not as stupid as they want to believe. There is no other cell. There is no reason to keep him.

He doesn't open his eyes when the guard comes in his room. There's no audience. No one will know that he died like a coward.


Her lipstick is smeared - it's called Passionate Pomegranate or some other asinine thing - and there are thick black streaks down her cheeks. She doesn't say and he doesn't ask and even though they've never done this before, when they land on his bed, it's like familiar territory.

His only thought when she removes her ruby red dress is that, once upon a time, he could afford to date girls who dressed like this. He could afford to buy them dresses like this.

He enters her. She starts to speak; he covers her mouth with his hand.

She nods. It's okay.


Real beans, with real cheese and real corn, and even as he spoons the delicious concoction into his mouth, he can't manage to duplicate the smiles and exclamations of joy coming from his friends.

River hasn't bathed today. He can tell; he doesn't know why Jayne doesn't say something.

"You had to," she says quietly, the solemnity of the moment ruined by the fact that her mouth is half-stuffed with rice. "He would have - "

"I know."

"All of us." He hears her putting down her fork. "Even Kaylee."

He stirs his rice. The blood there surely is an illusion.


"You can't tell me that you don't understand why I'm here."

Simon gasps. The sword twists, just a little, and he can actually tell which of his internal organs it just lacerated.

"Sorry." The Operative somehow kneels down without moving the blade any more. "Didn't mean to cause you any more suffering."

"You'll ... never - "

" - find her, yes, I'm sure you think so." He pauses, turns his head as if he's heard something. "This is ... the best kind of death."

He blinks, refuses to look in the direction of where his sister ran.

"It's a shame that it was in vain."


He's calm. Relaxed. Almost happy, and that should bother him. The fact that it doesn't bother him should bother him. He should be bothered. But he can't seem to work up the energy to feel concern. This is the most peaceful that he's been in years, and he's strangely okay with that.

His nose tickles, but he can't scratch it for some reason.

River. I should be wanting to find out what happened with River. If she's -

I'm at peace. Can't I stay here?

" ... coming back. Got a pulse. He's alive."

No. Wuh de ma, no.


He coughs, and it's from his lungs, not just the cut in his mouth; he can tell. Not that it really matters, because even though he doesn't know exactly how this story goes, he's dead certain that he's familiar with the ending.

"So why blue?" he manages to choke out. "Why not the ... stereotypical black, or ... I don't know, red?"

He knows that it's starting even though he's not really even sure what it is. He feels it and smells it and it hurts and the guy doesn't even say goodbye, just steps over the (his) body and -


He sets the clock, puts the hour hand on seven, the minute hand on six, even though he knows the battery is dead and in less than sixty seconds, the clock will be wrong again.

River tugs a flask out of Jayne's pants, chugs the liquid, gags. There's a bloodstain on the metal, on her hands, but she doesn't seem to care.

He finds himself playing with Kaylee's hair, propping his feet on the captain's body. The air must be getting thin, because he's obsessed with making sure the clock is set properly.

He moves the minute hand to seven.


Monday, he pretends not to notice when Mal touches her face, brushing black curls away from her cheek.

Tuesday, he averts his eyes when Inara's fingers brush the captain's, as she's handing him a gun.

Wednesday, he looks the other way when Mal leans in close, when he whispers something in her ear, when she laughs so hard that her face turns red.

Thursday, he bites his tongue instead of asking her why she no longer spends the nights in his bed, why she avoids him in the halls.

Friday, he's not surprised to see them kissing in the cockpit.


It took less than a month for him to destroy his life.

Information can be bought so easily that it's mind-boggling. He had plans and back-up plans, a knife hidden under his jacket, just in case, but all it took was a fifteen second exchange in a bar.

Give them the money, get the disk. Simple.

Not quite as easy to get her out, but still easier than he thought. Money, that's the key to anything.

(Except now he has none.)

It took less than a month to save his sister's life. This is what he tells himself.


She doesn't tell him until it can't be hidden, when her billowing shirts can't be relied upon to cover up the bulge. Until it's no longer really a bulge.

He touches the swell, swallows hard. It's there, real.

It disturbs him that his first thought is how his co-workers will be horrified, disgusted with him. She picks up on it, ducks her head, crosses her arms, stops talking.

"They won't let us stay," he whispers to her, as he cradles her head, caresses her hair. "They won't let us stay."

"They already know," she responds, tears soaking his shirt.


Why does it suddenly feel okay now?

Well, not quite okay, he thinks, as he caresses a breast. Not quite okay, but somewhat less illicit. She arches her back and laughs, possibly because of his thoughts, or maybe because his hand has wandered lower, tickling her rib cage.

He kisses his eighteen-year-old sister, finds himself smiling, in spite of himself. She smells like him, feels like him, and is this narcissism? Is he staring into a pond, leaning in to kiss his own reflection?

She laughs again, and he silently admonishes her to stay out of his head.


Soft, perfumed skin, and this could be so perfect, he thinks. The curtains are closed in her tiny shuttle and if it weren't for the clanging that he can hear through the walls (Kaylee's fixing a broken railing), he could almost believe that they were anywhere but here.

She gasps, and he's flush with pride until he remembers that she's a pro, that this might just be an act. But she moans softly, running a hand over her perfect breasts with her hardened nipples, and that, that - he tells himself that can't be an act.

So he lets himself come.


Her eyes dart down, and she's so good, so smart, so good at manipulation that he can't believe that she's not doing it on purpose; she wants him to know.

(Also, the way her hand lingered on River's, when Inara could have dropped it instantly.)

She says his name. Just his name. A weak greeting, she almost sounds flustered, she's rubbing it in his face. Myriad of Chinese curses leap to mind, but he bites his tongue, focusing on the way River's big, dark eyes stay fixed on Inara's feet.

(Foolish to think she'd always belong to him.)


He could come just from this, he thinks, as perfumed hands glide along his foot, from the heel to the toes, muscles and bones that he knows the names of, usually.

Just not right now. Not with her fingers there, her thumb there.

He tilts his head back, closes his eyes, but only for a moment, because he doesn't want to stop watching this. She glances up at him, smiles, lifts up his foot and kneads it as his toes press against her perfect little breast, a hard nipple encased in silk.

His hips buck involuntarily. He shifts, groans, blushes.


There are reasons why people don't do this, plenty of reasons, good reasons, and he could think of all of them, if he could just close his eyes and focus. Her lips haven't quite touched his yet, and if he leans back, pulls back -

Simon ...

- runs away. He could run, into the next room, next door, down the street, past all the high-security fences, to his friend's house, his girlfriend's house -

She's not your girlfriend.

"Stop that," he whispers, but his words are muffled by soft, sweet lips that taste too much like his own.


One hand on her cheek, thumb on her chin, parting her lips - dark, dark lips - so he can cover them with his. For a moment, he thinks that he feels her stir, hears her groan, protest, something, but no; it's an illusion.


Cold, so cold, lips nearly purple, and he wouldn't even care if she declares to the whole galaxy that she wants to marry him. She could detail their sexual exploits on the Cortex for all he cares.


Cold. Too cold. Her chest rises, falls. Stays there.

"Breathe," he whispers. But she never did listen to him.