: 15, mostly safe.Disclaimer
: Anything you recognize is owned by someone other than me. Joss Whedon owns both series. I just own a part of the plot.Summary
: It took her one day to escape. It took her three months to lose her name. It took them six months to realize they were protecting her.Notes
: Continuing on after Misbegotten. This may become a full story at some point when ‘Letting Go’ is complete. Feedback would be welcome
so I know whether or not to put more time in, other than working on other projects. 2,000 words.- - - - -
It was six weeks to the day she had arrived on the hard sidewalk, surrounded by a city of flashing lights and brilliant colors, that she had been snatched.
It had taken her only one day to attempt an escape.
The cattle prod had done little to satiate her enthusiasm as she gleefully attacked the men who had grabbed her off of the streets. After she had realized what had happened – she was, fortunately, not a moron – she had begun to figure out how to take care of herself on the streets. It made her a target for anyone that would see a blonde teenage girl as an asset – slave traders, recruiters or even conglomerate overseers. Buffy could count on both hands the number of times she had been approached to join this Guild or work on whatever world she chose.
The city she appeared in was as easy as the last city. Judging by the looks of some people, she knew who to beat for information and intel gathering was actually quite simple. Anyone that dared to put her in the slave trade was given an “accidental” concussion and sent on their merry way.
In one moment, all had changed.
Her first escape had been simple enough. Barred cell doors could easily be pried open, adversaries could be dealt with. It was the same old, same old.
It was returning to the same place she had just come from that had stopped her.
All because they couldn’t resist the chance to play with her brain.
She knew what had happened when she woke up, in a sterilized room, surrounded by medical professionals who looked down on her like she was just some toy to experiment with. The snatchers had found her, they said. They had brought her to some government-run facility, or so they claimed. When she began to ask questions, things became harder.
It took her three months to lose the memory of her name.
Then they began to ask questions, things that they couldn’t decipher by digging around in her brain. Her powers were the topic of their curiosity many times and not even the invasive mental torture they put her through could tackle that. It was the one thing she could hold onto, the one secret she could keep.
After all, they had kept a lot from her. When she had last walked the streets of Sunnydale, which seemed like years ago, not mere weeks, there had been the planet Earth. Now she was in the future after one angst-filled, anger-driven night, appearing in a colorful city five hundred years ahead with no Earth, but more than a few dozen planets.
It hadn’t taken them long to break into those memories, to pull them out and use them against her. Night after night she woke up, watching her friends and loved ones die horribly. From there, it got much, much worse.
Hospitals had freaked her out before. Now they were making her crazy.
There weren’t many other patients, at least that she saw. There was a dark-haired girl that popped up when she slept, telling her that it would be alright and that all would soon be over. She couldn’t remember the names of the people in her dreams, the people who she knew were important and yet could not remember them. There was a school and light and color and there was her, skulking around a graveyard, alone, out of the light, away from the school, in a place with no color.
None of it made any sense. If she could only figure things out, but her mind wasn’t the refuge she needed it to be. Closing her eyes meant a dull thud behind her eyes, something that wasn’t quite working with the rest of her, like her memory.
Two doctors stood outside the white padded room, watching as a third administered another sedative.
“She’s using four times what the others use,” one said in a low voice.
“Her body is breaking down the enzyme,” the second replied in a deep voice. “There is little we can do but to increase the dosage.”
“That level of medication in her bloodstream will cause paralysis, maybe even death.”
“Not if her body keeps breaking it down,” the second doctor replied, folding his arms as the third doctor passed between them, sealing the woman’s door behind her.
“She still remembers nothing?” the first asked as the two turned back down the hall.
“What she does remember is vague… the color of her high school cheerleading uniform, the smell of the dirt in a graveyard… all irrelevant.”
The doctor paused, his shiny shoes squeaking in the brightly-lit corridor. “Irrelevant to us, but not to her. As long as she continues to evade our efforts, we must double them. Have the geneticists completed the blood labs yet?”
“Her blood is as human as the rest of ours,” the second murmured. “We’ve been administering it to the others, but to little effect.”
The doctors continued down the hall, discussing another alternative to discovering the girl’s secrets. As they moved past another cell, the girl within stared at the parchment spread across her cot. Most of it was gibberish, mathematical equations and theorems that could never be proven. The girl muttered under her breath, her pen flying across the page, all written in a language that was clear to her battered mind. But the meaning was there.
‘They’re hurting us. Please help and get me out.’
Her eyes darted up to the door, where she could feel a figure standing on the other side, the woman doctor, the one that carried the needles. Her hand held her pen tightly, her lips twitching. If the woman walked in, River would need to protect herself. As the soft shoes scuffled by, River glanced down to see ink from the cracked pen running down her arms and into her scrub bottoms. Tossing the useless device aside, she gazed at the black streaks running down her arms.
The woman doctor stopped at the first terminal in the empty corridor. She ran her card through, typed in her authentication code. A moment later, a voice said, “What do you have?”
“I am having difficulty keeping her memory suppressed,” she said, her voice rushed and soft and fearful. “Her body is breaking down the drugs faster than I can administer them. I don’t know how long I can keep them from finding out anything.”
The dark-haired figure on the other side frowned slightly. “Just do the best you can, doctor.”
“If I increase the dosage even a half-dose more, I could do irreparable damage to her brain. I… I don’t want to be responsible for that, not if you tell me how important she is.”
The man stepped closer to the camera, dark eyes filled with no emotion and yet all the subtlety of an old soldier gone mistakably wrong. “We need her to stay quiet.”
“She doesn’t even remember her name. You ask for details and the most she can give you is a color or a sensation. There isn’t anything there to
“Then we have less time than I thought.” The man paused, glancing down for a moment. “I spoke with a young man from Osiris not so long ago, one who was interested in his sister, another patient at your clinic.”
“Miss Tam?” the doctor replied, nodding. “I know her well. I’m not involved with her treatments, but—“
“I believe that the Academy has done all it can for Miss Summers,” the man finally said, reaching for his terminal. “I’ll be in touch.”
The doctor watched as the screen blacked out and she pulled back, shaking her head in wonder. As she turned to continue her rounds, she froze when she saw one of the lead doctors on the Summers case standing there, hands on his hips.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that that was really quite unnecessary.” At the woman’s blank look, he chuckled. “We’ve known for quite some time that someone has been making outside contacts. I never suspected it would be you, Susan.”
The doctor’s eyes hardened as she stood there, rooted to the spot.
“Now you choose to remain quiet,” the doctor marveled, taking a step closer. She felt the weight of two sets of hands on her arms as orderlies arrived, yet she made no move to fight them off.
“You won’t get to her. Even if you dig around, you won’t find what you’re looking for. Generations of men and women have died to protect those secrets and I’ll be damned if I let you take them now.”
Before the doctor could act, the woman twisted her arm from one grip and used the leverage gained from the use of her free arm to level a punch into the face of the opposite orderly before turning and kicking out at the other. Both orderlies were on the ground before the man could react. She had just taken her first step toward him when his weapon discharged and she fell, the light dying from her eyes.
“I’ll take your concerns under advisement,” the doctor said, reaching down to where the woman stared, blankly, at the polished white ceiling. To the other doctor who had arrived, he added, “It appears that we were wrong about Summers. I want her in the same program as River Tam.” He paused for a moment, his gaze sliding down to his firearm and back again. “No interactions.”
“But, doctor, should we—“
“No,” he said sharply, his voice echoing in the empty hallway. “No.” He glanced down, nudging the woman’s body with the edge of his foot. “Get this mess out of here.”
As the doctor moved down the hall, he paused momentarily to stare at one cell door. River Tam was crouched down on the other side, a bit of her hair in her mouth, chewing thoughtfully as her mind wrapped around what she heard. She could feel his anger, giving her chills down her spine. She slowly backed away from the door as he continued on, his footsteps heavy, plodding.
Buffy Summers remained where they had left her. Her body was curled in a slight fetal position, her hair streaming out on the white padding behind her. Her face was slightly bruised, the aftereffect of their instruments. Her hands were tied behind her back and lay, immobile, behind her. Her body shuddered as he touched a cool cheek, tipping it to the faint light coming in from the bright hallway.
“What secrets could you hold, little girl?” he marveled, watching the way the light from the hallway brought out the paleness of her skin. “What would inspire my own staff to turn against me, to protect you?” He dropped her face, watching as her head fell with a dull thud back to the pad. Two men entered behind him, a stretcher in the hallway. “You can’t escape you know. Others would tell you that your mind is your refuge,” he continued, so quietly that only the girl, should she be listening, could hear. “But I would know better. Forty years of this works against you. You can’t hide forever.”
He stepped back then, allowing his staff to lift up her frail body and place it on the stretcher, rolling it down towards a more secure room.
His eyes grew chilly as he closed the door behind him, looking one last time at the room that one girl had single-handedly destroyed better than the ten patients before her. Then he closed the door firmly, but not before a slight, sinister smile came to his face, lessening his years in the light. The moment passed, his face took on its normal prominent scowl and he continued down the hallway.
River twisted her hair in her fingers, listening as the man’s footsteps came and went. “No,” she muttered softly, her eyes gazing dreamily at the spot where she knew the security camera was watching her. “No hiding… for you.”- - - - -