TITLE: The Bee Holder

DISCLAIMER: As always, not mine.

A/N: Just a little offshoot – I always find Simon interesting, especially in respect to Rayne stories. I thought I'd try to look at the relationship through his eyes. I just re-read this…it sounds kinda wanky. Sorry!

The Bee Holder

It began, as so many of these things do, slowly. Her sentences, usually so disjointed and confusing, occasionally held a hint of coherence. No one could deny that the purge of Miranda's dark secret had eased some part of her fractured psyche into a semblance of what it once was. She would never be completely normal, but Simon knew she never had been. Simon remembered a little girl whose imagination was always too much for the adults around them, a pre-teen who seemed to see much more than their secretive society had wanted her to see.

Simon knew that the Sight wasn't a ramification of the Alliance meddling in the young mind of a teenage girl – it had always been there. The Alliance had only tried to push it too far, had only attempted to use it for their own gains, had fragmented open her already extrasensory perceptions. Like a melon split open her psyche had been forced to experience the slow leaks of those around her, until it was swept away from the Self in a tidal wave of Them.

Miranda had helped, had reformed some of the broken barriers, had allowed her some semblance of control. But his sister would never be normal. And if he really thought about it, that wasn't the worst thing in the 'verse. The slow acceptance they'd experienced as members of this crew had aided in her recovery more than the others knew. Being treated like she meant something to people other than her brother, being allowed to play and act immature had freed her from some of the nightmares that still occasionally left her screaming. He hated those nights more than anything, hated the way her eyes would go wild and unrecognising, hated how her voice would turn hoarse as her abused vocal cords desperately tried to purge her soul of its demons.

But he hadn't heard those anguished cries in months. And if, occasionally, he saw dark circles under Jayne's eyes, saw exhaustion and pain in his tired movements, he didn't say anything. If these mornings when the mercenary would look gaunt and drawn coincided with River being more subdued, less connected to reality, he didn't mention it. Because one exhausted arm was still slung around her thin shoulders, and she always leaned into the wall of muscle.

Things had changed after Miranda, not one of the crew would deny it. Bonds had been solidified and wounds had been licked. The crew became more protective of one another, less receptive to outsiders. The reputation of the rebel Browncoat and his band of misfits with their untrusting eyes and fast results had spread quickly.

The first time he had seen the change he thought he'd been mistaken. Jayne's eyes couldn't have lingered on River's back; he couldn't have seen a large hand briefly skim her face to move her hair to one side.

The second time he knew what he'd seen, knew that the mercenary's hands had lingered around River's ribs while he helped her out of the mule. He'd stayed awake that night, waiting to see if his suspicions would be confirmed. At the whisper silent sound of the bedroom door open, the air in the room moving slightly as she crept out, he knew what he'd seen. Knew that she'd known he was awake, and had allowed him to find out. He'd fallen asleep with a furrowed brow warring with a slight smile.

Now he saw it everywhere. Saw it in the way Jayne's hand would wrap around the back of River's neck when they stood at Mal's side, firearms at the ready, physical contact anchoring her to this reality, keeping her senses sharp. Saw it in the smile that graced her face as she danced alone in the cargo bay; saw it in the nonchalant stance of the large man leaning against the wall watching her. Saw it in the way her words could now be figured out if one only carefully considered. He'd learnt the last one with some difficulty.

She'd approached him after he'd seen Jayne's hand linger protectively at her side after Zoe went into labour. Her secret smile, her delicate ballet steps, the little tune she was humming to herself all reminded him of the girl she had been and the woman she was becoming. She'd leant very close to him, her nose almost touching his.

"He has to hold bees to understand. He would have left cards." She flitted away down the corridor, and he'd spent days thinking over her words. It had come to him one night when Mal had produced a familiar looking deck of cards, a thread of memory tugging at him until he saw the whole thing.

Before Miranda Simon could only think of three times it had happened. The first was for him, when he held her shaking, naked body as she cried out her terrors in the cargo bay, entire crew looking on in shock.

The second time had been days later, in the infirmary. It hadn't been recognition, simply placing a name to a face. It had been a warning, a definition of Latin, a prediction. He hadn't realized it at the time, hadn't yet figured out why her grip on reality was so tenuous, hadn't deduced that she didn't see those around her, only their thoughts and fears gripping onto her like thorns pricking her skin. Even seeing the world through shards of insanity she could place a name to her brother, although he knew it wasn't always the Simon of this reality that she spoke to.

The third time had been the key. A dangerous plan, a great gun heist, a scheming ex-wife. They'd been left in hiding, and their bringer of provisions had gotten into an argument with River about names and genders. She had said his name after that, pointing out his fear of discovery, his concern that they would find out about Ariel. Recognising him in this reality, placing a name to a face. She had teased him, had interacted with him, had been a brat to him.

Later, after he'd delivered his calm promises to the paralysed mercenary, he'd wandered out of the infirmary, lingering only a moment to hear what River would say. To him, not at him, not at some unseen presence, but to him.

"Also, I can kill you with my brain." A childish threat, directed straight at the man himself.

Simon had known later, when he tried to decipher what bees had to do with anything, exactly what she had meant. And if he was confused as to why the mercenary who had betrayed them was the first person to be graced with actual interaction, if he was angry that some part of her psyche had recognised him as important, then he said not a word. He didn't demand answers, threaten harm if the relationship continued, yell and shout when Jayne asked him if he could make River his wife.

Because he'd seen the protective glare in the mercenary's eyes.

Because he saw them speaking volumes without words.

Because it made his sister happy.

Because he was holding bees now.

And as he stood in front of the rest of the crew and the Cobb clan, as he rose his glass to toast the couple, as he saw his sister radiant and beautiful with her hand held by the great man-ape gone wrong thing, he knew he'd made the right decision. He waited for silence before beginning his speech.

"It began, as so many of these things do, slowly."


A/N: Ok this might have been one of those things that made more sense in my head than on paper, but Simon is such an interesting character, and I refuse to believe there is nothing but a spoiled Core dandy in there! I really enjoyed writing this. Please review. Until next time Browncoats,

The Frisky Firelily