TITLE: He Likes Her Damaged

DISCLAIMER: Not mine.

A/N: So normally my angst is always eventually tempered with some form of fluff…I just can't keep myself away from a happy ending. But this? Not entirely sure where this is going but I can't say it'll be a happy place. One-shot.

HE LIKES HER DAMAGED

He likes her damaged. Likes her broken and bent, likes her mind brutalized and her body not always under her control. He likes her medicated, likes the sour scent of withdrawal hanging on her skin, likes her shivers and glazed, disconnected eyes.

He likes her confused and dazed, powerless to connect her split vision psyche with the rest of the world around her. He likes her lost and bewildered, likes her singing screams through the ship, hollow cries that echo off the walls in agony and despair.

He likes her fumbling, struggling for control, impotent to fight the unintentional violation of the minds around her. Likes her floating, dreamlike, looking for all the world like a little lost girl with nobody to turn to. He likes the nightmares that rip through her, likes her gaunt and empty visage at the breakfast table the next morning.

He likes her thin and pale, likes her hair tangled from lack of care, likes her clothing baggy and worn on her emaciated frame. He likes her refusal to eat, likes the way her hunger rests in someone unable to pay attention to the mundane daily requirements of sustaining life. Likes the way the bottoms of her feet are black from the dirt of the ship, likes the way she is uncaring of the cuts and bruises she accumulates just by existing.

He hates her lithe agility, hates the hold her years of dance still have on her muscles. He hates her at the Maidenhead, hates her on Mr Universes' moon, hates the graceful beauty of the deadly ballet she performs. He hates seeing her in her element, hates knowing she controls every muscle, every limb, every deadly blow with the precision of a brain surgeon. He hates the most microscopic examples of what self-control she is still in possession of.

Hates her spouting random facts, hates seeing her face light up when she can separate the visions and reality, hates hearing her voice clear and her words intelligent. Hates when she is well enough to play with Kaylee or comfort her brother.

He hates it when she knows herself, when she is in control, when she is briefly, momentarily unbroken.

He likes her damaged.

Because mercenaries can't fall in love with damaged girls.

THE END

A/N: Darker than I usually go…but mayhaps a tiny ray of light? Or not, depends on your kettle of fish. Please review Browncoats!