Summary: Simon remembers..
Title, Author and URL of original story: Everybody Else’s Girl by dream_country
Author's Note: I was actually going to be a bitca and not finish by deadline, especially since everything this author wrote was so FREAKIN' AMAZING (seriously, go read her stuff!) that I didn't want to touch it, but I forced my way through to something that half-way resembles something decent and finished two minutes before the deadline. Enjoy!
Simon remembers what once was, the girl in the past who only lived for a dozen plus some years. Too young to be put through such horrible things, but then when is a person old enough to have needles jabbed into their skulls.. into their brains.. and have their memories and feelings rearranged, creating something entirely new and foreign in place of the old.
She catches his attention with small movements, her tiny fingers stretching out to find something in the air.. something lost to her.. while he examines his supply of medicines, black market drugs taken from the last deal Mal finished. "I see the gray and am blind to the black and white. Lost in the lack of color and the conglomeration of all color."
He looks up for only a moment, long enough to listen and long enough to find sadness in the fact that nothing she says ever seems to make sense these days. It wasn’t always like that. Simon remembers a time when she was so smart she could run logic circles around him and leave him feeling like a sheer simpleton.
She sees his frown and tries again, saying something that almost applies to this situation, to this medic room and Simon’s task at hand. "Do you remember before you were born?"
He glances at her again, a small smile falling on his face. He places the syringes on the counter, losing the count that he was working on and is all too happy to hear a logical question asked from his sister’s lips. "No. I don’t believe I do.. but scientists have researched whether fetal memory exists for centuries.. from even before humanity abandoned Earth-that-was. There were scientists and medical doctors that said children could be taught in the womb, even those that believed that if a fetus listened to Mozart or Beethoven in-utero they could expand their brain capacity and grow to be geniuses.”
It’s her turn to frown, a deep one that ruins her light and causes her to get up and walk away. Simon sighs, wondering whether he should go after her or not. He never knows how to talk to her these days. There was a time, he remembers, that they would talk for hours, conversations that would last days.. debates that ranged from topics such as her dance recitals to more serious talk of the war.
He busies himself checking the medical supplies once more, but he remembers too much these days. Too much that he could never share with her.. things that make him feel guilt and anger and an unending need to protect what precious little he had left in his sister.
He remembers talking to her before she went into the Academy. He doesn’t want to think about it most days, but the thoughts come when he’s alone. She was apprehensive about it, sensing something even before it all began. He told her not to worry, that if anything ever happened while she was away from home that he would come for her. He would always come for her.. back then, they’d thought it would be simple, like other students picking on her for being too smart or maybe even boy trouble.. they’d walked straight into that trap.
And he’d come to rescue her too late.
He remembers finding the code in her riddle-filled letters, setting up the plan to get her out and away from those who would try to hurt her.. those words: They’re hurting us. Get me out. Over and over, they rang through his head.. they’re hurting us.. hurting..
He falters in his work and the anti-inflammation pills fell from his shaking hands, scattering about the floor. He was getting sloppy; he had to keep it together, one of them always had to be the rock. It was his job, to not fall apart no matter how hard things got or how many memories kept flowing through his mind.
He moves to collect the pills one by one, so he can place them back in their proper bottle. He forces that memory to the back of his mind and another one pushes forward to take its place. River. In the laboratory where he’d finally found her strapped to that chair with the needle driven through her brain.
“Most of our best work is done when they’re asleep.” The doctor had told him, “We can monitor and direct their subconcious, implant suggestions.. she’ll be ideal for defense deployment..”
She was a weapon to them, not the beautiful girl who once loved to dance.. the girl who could turn dizzying circles around him at Alliance cotillions. He remembers going through her chart, reading phrases like ‘tactical advantage’ and ‘modern warfare’. He remembers reading about the tests too: underwater testing, firearm testing, oxygen deprivation..
It was enough to make him sick, but he held together and didn’t speak a word about it. He had to be the rock. He had to be the one that held what was left of their family together out here in the black.
He’s finally done picking up every last one of the fallen pills and gets to his feet. It doesn’t take long for another emergency to strike. This time it’s in the form of the captain standing in the doorway looking none too pleased. “Doc, your sister is hollerin’ up a storm out there. Don’t know what abouts.. but I reckon you better see to her before Jayne does.”
It’s not a request.
Simon nods, placing the cap back on the bottle and rushes out to save his broken sister yet again. When he reaches River, she’s screaming about wanting to be in the right place and have other things in their right holes. He almost understands, but not exactly..
“They’re not mine.. horses and dogs and sunlight and outdoors.. don’t make me remember.” She screams as he presses her to him, holding her tightly as she collapses in his arms.
He carries her to her bunk, places her in bed as she stares at the ceiling trying to make sense of the broken pieces of her mind. Her screaming never stops though, not until Simon grasps her arm and gently slides the needle into her pale skin.
As he smooths his thumb across her forehead, easing out the wrinkles in her forehead and brushing away rampant hair, she quiets and slowly starts to drift away to sleep. She doesn’t have to remember anything, not anymore today, not while she can rest and sleep and dream of a better life—one where she becomes a prima ballerina at some fancy theater house.
She doesn’t have to think about anything, not while Simon is watching over her and protecting her.
She won’t remember this in the morning; she never does.
Simon will though, because there’s no one looking after him and there’s not enough drugs in the ‘verse to block out the things he’s seen. He only has himself to blame, he remembers; he should have gotten there sooner. He should have saved her before it was too late.