I own nothing. All is Joss. Joss is God. Thou art God- wait, that's a different story. Never mind. (Hmmm... how would I make that work? Pondering...)
The two girls were similar in appearance, both pale with long dark hair, but their histories could not have been less similar. One, slight and thin, came from privilege. She was a pampered younger child, with a brother studying to be a doctor, and parents who only wanted the best for her, and could provide it. The other, a little older, with an adult's height but none of the bulk or curves, came from poverty. Her only family was a drugs-and-drink addled mother with a tendency towards verbal abuse and short-term relationships with angry men. The only thing they had in common was that this place had wanted them both, and it had gotten them.
The older girl had been here nearly two months, sold by her mother for drug money and grabbed off the streets. She was currently curled up on the most comfortable bed she'd ever been in, reflecting on the irony (though she did not know the word) of such pleasant surroundings masking such painful experiments. She heard footsteps outside the door, and immediately tensed, rolling over to face the door and pretending to sprawl casually on the bed.
The younger had been at the facility (they called it an Academy, but there were certainly no classes or teachers) for a little over a week, but it had all been spent in labs and testing rooms. She was haggard, pinched and frightened, as she was all but shoved into the double room. She stumbled to the empty bed, and dropped her two spare uniforms onto it from numb fingers.
The older injected some Rim drawl into her voice. “What'cha in for, sister?”
The younger jumped, and turned confused eyes on her roommate. “I- What?"
A flash of grin. “They got me for cattle rustlin' and public nudity. Which, le' me tell ya, are a whole lot more fun together.” This earned her a giggle, and she nodded and shifted back to her normal, Core poor, accent. “See, just need to keep a sense a' humor. Keep your chin up. I'm Faith.”
“Stiff upper lip, my father would say.” Her voice was soft, still uncertain. “I'm River.”
The two girls were best friends from that moment on, inseparable whenever they had the choice, and often when they didn't. The shadowy figures that tested them, trained them, cut into their bodies and brains and souls, had discovered that they were capable of remarkable things together, and began to treat them as a unit. However, they had not discovered the extraordinary things the girls could do, the way they could make their minds flow into one another and speak without words. Both girls also knew their bodies were capable of far more than the shadows pushed them towards, but they had determined very early that they would show not an iota more ability than their testers expected and wanted.
That determination, those hidden abilities, kept them sane far longer than anyone could have expected, but in the end it wasn't enough, and they were both stripped raw.
When the younger girl's brother came to rescue her, years later, he found them both strapped to tables, with wires in their brains. He disabled the doctors and pulled the wires from their heads, then stood uncertainly for a long moment. He had only come for his sister, but to see another girl, so similar and in the same position, well, between his natural compassion and his doctor's training, he couldn't leave her behind. The smugglers were not pleased, when he got the girls to the roof, to see the second one, but they were more concerned with getting away, so the arguments were set aside in favor of fleeing.
When he saw how trustingly his sister slept, curled up with this silent stranger, the doctor just sighed and arranged for a slightly bigger cryo-box. He knew he'd have to worry at some point about what he would do with them, how he would keep them, but for now he just wanted to get out onto the Rim, find a place away from Alliance eyes for a while.
Which is how he came to find himself on a beaten-up old Firefly, smiling at a pretty mechanic.
NB: So I have a different Faith-on-Serenity story, that I'm not going to post til I have several chapters written, but this quirky little thing sparked in my head, and I wanted to get it out there. If someone wants to pick it up from there and run with it, feel free, just link your story back to me, and let me link to you.