AN: Hello everyone- I miss this community so much! The first line of this story popped into my head tonight and I conceived this collection of ficlets (to be updated much more often than my much neglected stories). This collection will feature Buffy, providing characters from multiple crossovers the "nudge" they need at just the right time to act. I hope you enjoy and please, if you feel so inclined, drop me a note.
Chapter One: Changing Course
BTVS & Firefly
“Wouldn’t you like, just once, not to be afraid?”
River stared up, wide-eyed, at the blond woman who crouched over her in the training room as she lay, winded and bruised, from an Alliance “training” session. She could feel the damage she had taken to her knee, the blooming bruises on her ribs, and the swelling of her lip where an Agent had backhanded her moments earlier. Not much of a dancer now… Simon would be so sad.
Black lip. Blue hands.
Her heart quaked, once, as the blinked and started to mouth a question at the woman she had only seen briefly in passing. The woman was older than her by a few years, small and tan, with eyes that would crinkle at the corners if she ever had a reason to smile. The woman shook her head minutely, dirty blonde hair providing them with a furtive curtain for their conversation.
That alone made River twinge. She would be punished for speaking out of turn. No food, no water, no sunlight. Locked away in that
room again. Rocking and frothing until they were pleased. Little bird all banged up from flying into glass…
She gasped from the rising panic in her breast, breaths coming short and fast as the older woman stared at her intently, waiting for an answer she couldn’t remember the words to. So many words had been driven out by their needles, their liquids, which took her further away every time they injected her. Poor river, changing course, poor River, lost in the course of change.
“River.” Her eyes snapped up, helping to shake her from the cresting tide of fear, and she clung to her name. To the strange blonde woman and this moment where time seemed to stop. “Don’t you think it’s time to leave?”
River licked her lips, tasted blood, and closed her eyes before answering. When she did respond she could barely breathe the word past the swelling of her face. “Yes.”
Her eyes were still closed, or she would have seen Buffy smile, seen the creases form at the corners of her eyes.
It should have been terrifying, running from Alliance agents with a stranger leading her through a labyrinth of passageways. Guards chased them, shots ringing out down corridors as the more measured pace of the Blue Men doubled the pacing of their escape. It was
terrifying… running, the shouts, gunfire and energy blasting around them, urged on by the tread of blue handed men who would do so much worse.
But it was also… freeing
The woman seemed to sense her shift because she looked back over her shoulder and shouted, “Can you run faster?”
River swallowed and the words burst from her chest before she even had to think about them. Her knee should be slowing her down but every painful jar lengthened her stride with determination, filled her with the grace of flight. “Of course!” And then she ran, and the blonde woman ran, their soles flashing a laughter-filled goodbye as River changed her own