and they all fall down

pg-13 | major character death

Her eyelids flutter rapidly, and he struggles to find some code there, some hidden meaning. But it's random; there's nothing there but a blank stare.

Belatedly, he realizes she's blinking like that because she's standing directly under an air vent.

"It's okay," he manages in a hoarse whisper. "Everything is going to be okay."

But he doesn't really believe it, so he's certain she doesn't, either. He tries to look her in the eye, but his gaze keeps getting diverted down to the copious amount of blood on her shirt. It's clinging to her and he's randomly reminded of that party at the Davis home, when he jokingly shoved her into the pool, fully clothed. That had gotten him grounded for three weeks.

"The captain's coming."

He searches for emotion - any kind of emotion - in her voice, but it's as blank as her face. This is just another day on Serenity, as far as she's concerned.

A shout from the outside the infirmary tells him that the captain is, indeed, coming, and more to the point, he's just stumbled upon the first dead body. Simon's never really liked Jayne, but he feels a twinge of regret. Nobody deserves to die like that. Not even the people who did this to his sister.

And now a scream. Kaylee. Wuh de ma, Kaylee.

He blinks and then Mal is right there. He tries to apologize, but he doesn't have the strength anymore.

"What happened?" Mal demands, and that's when it hits him. The captain doesn't know. He doesn't realize what's going on. Simon struggles against unconsciousness and attempts to explain, but then Mal catches sight of River's hands, bound with rope, tied to a part of the bed.

"She ain't hurt."

"No," Simon gasps. "It's my . . . my fault. I was - "

"What in the hell did she do to my crew?!"

"I was running . . . a test. My fault. Please. They . . . they tried to help me. Please."

Please don't throw her out an airlock. Please don't put a bullet in her brain. Please, please, please.

Then everything goes black, but not before he hears, "He put snakes in my brain," not before he sees that his sloppy knots were insufficient.