Disclaimer: I'm not really just an obsessive fangirl - I just play one on TV.
Notes: Seventh in a series of thirty for the LJ community, 30Kisses.
It's a bad day. For every ten good days, there's a bad day and today's bad day takes the good ones and tears them apart. She can't remember what's good and what's bad, only knows the difference because it's what Simon's telling the rest.
Simon. Fucking Simon who'd let them take her and waited /twoyears/ before getting her out, got her stuck on some gorram death-trap of a Firefly ship, stuck her with needles, poked and prodded. She sprouts fangs and claws, reaches out with a paw to send his medical tray flying.
He ducks, doesn't get hit. Pity.
The captain is there, yelling at Simon to get her under control. Stupid captain, Mal means 'bad' in latin but it should mean 'stupid', Simon can't control her, no one can control her and you fear her, don't you, deep inside? Think she's gonna grab the gun or the knife or the scalpel - so she does, grabs the scalpel and brandishes it like her claws, growling again.
"Think you can lock me up again, but you can't, bird likes the cage until she gets a taste for the sky and then she won't give it up, SHE WON'T GIVE UP THE SKY!"
She was looking at Mal, but Simon's at her side and she spins, light on thick, clawed paws, waves the scalpel at him, lunges - "SHE WON'T GO BACK" - but misses him again, and the captain comes up behind her and she spins again - "YOU CAN'T TAKE HER BACK" - and he steps away.
She's got them both now, backed into a corner, her scalpel likes claws, growling and she crouches like she wants to get down on all fours, but her back legs are too long, her front ones too short, and the fur on top of her head too long. It's in her eyes, in her way and she can't lunge at them, can't rip and tear and kill and defend because she can't see and-
Up against her, pressing her into the counter, a vice around her wrist and squeezing hard, breaking the bones and she has to let go, let the scalpel fall to the ground with a clatter. She thrashes, wild, protective - "YOU CAN'T HAVE HER - SHE WON'T GO" - but it's strong and presses her, holds her around the chest and the arm, incredible weight against her back won't let her move.
And she changes.
The fur melts, fangs and claws drop, her hair isn't too long, it's just long enough. Human. Quiet. Her head doesn't buzz. Her lungs are too small, though, too small for her body and she can't breathe, but she's trying, the weight makes it hard.
"You listenin' to me, River? You listenin' when I tell you y'er cracked and you'll be lucky if the captain don't throw you and y'er brother's sorry gorram asses off the ship? Eh? You listenin' to me, girl!"
Eyes wide, whites showing all around, but gradually her lungs grow, weight lifted, though she's still held. A little girl again. Little woman. Little Women. Jo. Meg. Louisa May Alcott? She can't remember.
"Jayne, let me-"
"Doc, best get back until she calms down." That's the captain. The captain. Mal. Malcolm Reynolds. She knows this.
Still breathing hard, her hand lifts, the one that had held the scalpel, empty now. Touches the arm around her chest, the hand around her wrist lets her do it, though the grip doesn't loosen. Doesn't trust her and that's fine. She touches the arm, not hers, furry. Speaks to the only bear still in the room. "...I'm listening."
"You gonna calm down now?"
Furry. Soft. Fierce. Hard. She wonders if she can still growl, if he'd understand her better. But she nods, wincing when the hair caught between their bodies is pulled. "Yes."
"Jayne, don't let her go yet. Doc, I want you to dope her."
"Captain, she's just-"
"Just threatenin' us with razor blades. Dope her or drop her off at the next stop."
A pause and she realizes - it's not just her breath that's hard, her heartbeat. It's the bear's. The don't breathe the same, his chest rising a second or two before hers, his heart hammering against her back. She doesn't reach, doesn't want to know what he's thinking the way he hates for her to reach. She just closes her eyes and slumps against him, even before the needle pricks her. His arms close around her, holding her up, letting her lean. Not letting her fall.
"Can you get her over to the cot?"
A soft grunt - he's insulted, she can tell without reaching, she's a slip of a girl, really, of course he can carry her. His arms open, but never release her, against her back and under her legs until she can lie on synthetic softness. Not the same. Her vision begins to blur, but she can see him and he's not a bear.
He's a man.
Once she's down, the captain and Simon start to strap her in, he starts to move away. Her arm lifts, moving before anyone can strap it down and she's got /his/ wrist. Little slip of a girl, he could get away easily. But he stops. Looks at her with dark bear eyes.
"Called me 'River'," she tries to say, but it comes out as a murmur. Click-clack, legs strapped down, waist strapped down, free arm, but they pause at the one on the bear.
Dark bear eyes... they flash discomfort, but he doesn't move. "S'er name, ain't it?" is grumbled instead, avoiding her gaze.
She smiles, or thinks she does, everything fuzzy and blank like she's underwater. But she's holding on - holding to that connection to the world she's just gotten a grip on again. "You ain't never call me 'River'," she murmurs again, mimicking his accent, perfect, like last time.
His eyes flash again, but she doesn't see the whole thing, losing her grip. Her connection is a chain with a thousand links. Some are old and rotten and dissolving, some are shiny and new. For a moment, just a moment, she had one of the new ones. But her fingers slip through the rotten metal and she's lost.
For every ten good days, there's one bad. Ten new chains for one old. And sometimes...
Sometimes she gets a couple in one day and doesn't know what to call it.