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When Heroes Fall

Chapter Text

Prologue

He should have listened to Jayne.

It was the only time Simon had ever decided listening to something Jayne had to say would be beneficial to him, but right then as he lay on the cold damp and dirty floor with a musty smell lingering in the air around him, he wished with every fiber of his being that he HAD listened to Jayne. He wished he had swallowed his pride and his annoyance and gave Jayne the benefit of the doubt that maybe just maybe that crazy tah mah duh hwoon dawn [mother humping son of a bitch] had been speaking logic after all. Simon wished he had paid heed to Jayne's persistent disapproval towards his decision to venture off the ship mere hours before they were due to break atmo. Even Mal voiced his opinion on the matter, called the idea absurd, and threatened to leave Simon on that Gorram rock if the doctor stepped even one foot off of Serenity. Simon had called the captain's bluff though and knew the threat was empty. Mal would never leave Simon behind, especially not with Kaylee's current condition. Their resident mechanic would have the captain's head on a platter for that betrayal alone.

Simon should have listened to Mal if no one else, but now he knew he should have listened to Jayne most of all. That foul-mouthed, pride-filled hwun dan [bastard] was smart. In fact, Jayne was very smart, smarter than most gave him credit for, but he brought that upon himself. He'd been dumbing himself down for so long that Simon suspected Jayne had truly begun to believe it also, forgotten the capacity of intelligence his brain actually held. That's why it didn't pass Simon to even give his griping a second thought. He didn't like to admit when Jayne was right, but if only he could see him right now, Simon would tell him how much he wished he WOULD have listened.

There was a flare of pain that started at the end of Simon's tail bone and spread without mercy up his spine and he curled in on himself. His eyes clenched shut, as if the darkness of no sight would somehow dim the consequences of his injuries. Foolish thinking that was. If anything, seeing nothing but a black void only heightened Simon's senses even more. It took all he had within him to swallow the groan of authentic hurt that was bubbling up his throat and even so, the faintest of whimpers passed his lips, just loud enough for his ears to register. Simon wasn't one to vocally or visually express pain. He prided himself in being strong that way. But now, now he couldn't stop the bitter tears of agony from springing to the corners of his eyes.

Simon's arms curled delicately around his bruised abdomen as he pried his eyes open with considerable effort. There was no getting comfortable on the cold, hard ground. His prison. Sleep wasn't a willing option either. He would lay there until his body gave out and finally succumbed to exhaustion, just as he had every night since being thrown into this living Hell. It would be useless though because they would come to claim Simon, his captors, and torture him until he was certain he could withstand the abuse no more. Their laughter and heartless statements would haunt him long after they had tossed him like a rag doll back into his crude cell. Day in and day out, the routine was the same. They were just as cruel from one day to the next and Simon could tell by looking into their eyes that they had no intentions of stopping.

Ruthless is what many would call them and it seemed they openly embraced that title with pride. Thugs of the worst kind, bandits who took pleasure in their crimes and sought the pay out simply in the pain they afflicted on others. Simon's pleas for them to let him go went unheard, or rather ignored in the most blatant way. At first, he tried reasoning with them. He had a sister that needed looking after and a fiance ready to give birth to his first child at any moment. Those confessions only made them beat him more and harder too, if that were possible. Even offers of monetary value (something Simon had no way of paying since the Alliance had locked him out of access to his funds ages ago) were disregarded. Simon's captors simply didn't care. They wanted to see him bleed. They wanted to hear him cry out for mercy and see the recognition in his eyes that that mercy would never come.

It was only a matter of time before they returned.

The air in the cell was cold and felt as if it were getting colder by the minute. Simon couldn't stop his teeth from chattering as the moments passed. The ripped shirt and pants he wore did very little to keep the dropping temperature from clawing at his insides. If only he had thought to dress a little warmer before leaving Serenity. That was a ridiculous thought though. The weather on Jirah had been stifling and unseasonably warm for the Outer rim planet, so much so that Simon had felt uncomfortably over dressed when he stepped off the ship in a pair of neatly pressed trousers and an ironed long sleeve button down. Some of Simon's finer clothing that he wore on occasion and Mal hadn't failed to claim a good five minutes of making fun at Simon's expense.

If only Simon had known.

If only Simon had bothered to listen when it mattered most.

An image of Kaylee's sweet smile flashed through Simon's mind and he closed his eyes again in a grappling attempt to grasp hold of the image. The thought of Kaylee caused the fading swell of hope to flutter to life in him again. Sweet, sweet Kaylee, the only one Simon had ever known who had been able to make him weak in the knees with an innocent glance. She had from the first moment Simon had laid eyes on her back on that fateful day on Persephone, even if it took him far too long to admit such a fact to himself.

And their relationship had been strained from the start. Kaylee was too eager and Simon was...well, he was stiff just as Kaylee had accurately put it. Put off and intimidated was accurate as well. But more so, Simon had been so occupied with River and staying out from under the radar of the Alliance (which proved to be down right impossible regardless of who he was in the company of), that he'd unintentionally ignored the natural attraction of polar opposites between doctor and mechanic. Not to mention that Simon had never been an expert when it came to talking to girls. Kaylee proved to be no expection to the rule and it only made Simon fall for the woman harder.

Simon's heart lept into his throat and he swallowed thickly at the thoughts. 'Oh God, Kaylee' he thought as his shoulders began to quake with silent sobs that only brought him more physical pain. 'I'm so sorry. Forgive me. I never should have left you. I should have listened to Jayne.'

Kaylee would be devastated right now. She would be stricken with panic and grief from Simon's absence and it was the last thing she needed in her fragile state when she was so close to giving birth. It was supposed to be a joyous time for them both and Simon had managed to screw that up in the most royal way. Simon may be a genius, but he had proved himself to be the biggest idiot of them all.

Simon's eyes became heavier and he found it more difficult to keep them open. It wasn't sleep that was taking him. The pain was too much. How much more would he actually be able to take? He needed the crew of Serenity more than ever in that moment, he need a miracle, and he was losing hope that salvation for him was nothing more than a fleeting thought. Simon wanted to believe that Mal and the others were looking for him. He wanted to believe that they were compiling a grand scheme to rescue him from his biggest mistake, but as his eyes finally fluttered shut and the darkness swallowed him whole, even Simon couldn't find it in himself to believe that.

'I'm sorry I didn't listen...'