The Forgotten Ones

"I won't remember," River says. "I don't want not to remember." Her eyes widen as she trails slender fingers across Sam's face and along his jaw.

He studies her with concern and instinctively reaches out to envelope her in a warm hug. His arms go around her small frame easily and he ensures he is gentle, afraid that if he doesn't he will crush her. "It will only be for a little while," he says. "And when it's all over, you'll be back to your old self."

"You won't be broken anymore," another voice puts in.

They both turn to look at the pale girl who has just turned up.

Adelle smiles thinly. "This is Whiskey, one of our current actives."

"Hi, Whiskey," Sam says, smiling at her. Whiskey looks at him and then walks away again. He turns back to River. "See? You can make friends here. You'll be okay."

"We'll take good care of you," Adelle agrees.

River tilts her head up and looks into Adelle's eyes. "Not you who'll do it. Bad apple. He will come and he will dress us all up like gorram dolls and do as he pleases. It can't be stopped. Won't be stopped. And we won't remember. We'll all fall down and our memories will fall with us."

Sam offers Adelle an apologetic look and lifts one shoulder in a half shrug. "She's a little worried today. I'm sorry."

"That's quite all right. If you just fill out some paperwork we can get her all set up and on her way to recovery." Adelle presses her lips together.

"Lead the way," Sam agrees.

Later, he drapes his arms around River again and pulls her in to place a kiss on her cheek. "It's time for me to go. You'll get better here and I'll be back before you know it to take you back home."

"Home?" River asks.

"Home," he agrees.

She stares up at him with one of her unnerving stares anyone else would falter under. He doesn't waver and finally, she breaks her gaze and looks at the floor. "I do like painting," she says.

"Great," Adelle smiles. "You can paint here."

River nods.

"Okay." Releasing River, Sam stands up. "I'll see you later, okay?"

Smiling softly, River nods again. She swallows and stands up, too and then watches as Adelle leads him away and out of sight. "And then the end came."