In Heaven There Are No Walls
by Pablo

Sometimes Simon thinks he wants to know what happened to River at the Academy. But then in the middle of the night he wakes up to her screams and he's scared that one day he'll actually find out. Torn from his own dreams to wake to the nightmare that's now his sister's life.

Her ragged voice tears through him more sharply than any knife, skins him from the inside out quicker than the bodies they found mutilated by the Reavers. He tries to comfort her as her body twists. Unseen demons that Simon knows are barely hidden under her skin; contained somewhere that at the moment he has no hope of being able to reach.

A thin layer that's the only thing that separates Simon from the truth. If only he was able to see through it. Those are the times when he thinks he's better off not knowing what she was put through, because if remembering them is this bad how bad does that make reliving them?

Thinking like that only makes him feel guilty because it's his responsibility to find out what happened to River. His familial obligation; except it isn't really an obligation at all. He wants to help her out of love.

Simon wants to be strong so that River doesn't have to be.

If he was strong then maybe River could tell him what happened. And if he was strong maybe Simon could listen.

He wonders how he'll react when she does. If she's ever able to.

Simon's never really had to wonder if he has the strength when it's needed but things have changed so much lately that it's pretty much all he can think about.

Now he wants to prove that he's strong enough, prove it to River, to Mal to the whole crew if he has to. Because if Simon is strong enough, River'll be able to tell him exactly what happened and then he won't have to drive himself crazy imagining it.

He won't have to wake in the middle of the night to his own screams as he plays over in his mind what River might have been through.


When you're in space it doesn't matter that you're inside a ship, everything still feels like a vacuum.

The others all still look at him slightly strangely. He'd at first thought it was because of the way River acted, that if he ever left her alone she'd trail around the ship muttering under her breath. They're all just as scared of finding out what happened to her as Simon is.

Maybe because the sort of thing that happened to her; could always potentially happen to them.

But they still look at him strangely.

He catches them watching when they think he can't see, they're already so used to simply staring at his sister. Unashamed to watch her ghoulishly, she doesn't react. But Simon can see the way they look. See the pity, the fear. Everybody's afraid and nobody's as strong as they pretend to be.

So he tries his best to fit in, to be just as strong as the others try to be.

They all seem to want him to. Everybody except Jayne, that is. Jayne who delights in tormenting him; waiting for him to fall. To add another mistake to an already growing list.

Jayne, who watches him the most and forces Simon to pretend not to notice.

Jayne is strong, at least physically and when Simon catches Jayne watching him he can feel the resentment. He knows that Jayne only views him as a threat. Not to his position, but to his safety.

Maybe Jayne is everything Simon isn't but Jayne isn't the sort of person Simon wants protecting them. He knows Jayne thinks of himself above all others and the fact that he knows about River couldn't frighten him any more.

The fact that Simon is forced to trust him. Out of necessity, because Simon isn't foolish enough to place his trust in somebody like Jayne unless he has to.

When Jayne's watching him, Simon can feel the look pass over his body like ice. The cool of his gaze making his skin itch and Simon's without a doubt that Jayne would even think twice about betraying them if it meant saving his own skin.

Protecting himself. Because in this sort of place you start to wonder if anybody else would even bother.

Simon's sceptical at best and downright suspicious when he's being honest with himself. He can't afford not to be. He can no longer think only for himself, like Jayne does. Simon has to think about River as well. That's his responsibility and as much as that thought frightens him he doesn't have a choice.

Simon has to be strong for the both of them. For River, and sharing his strength and his concern makes him so much stronger than Jayne could ever be.


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