jebbypal: (plot bunnies)
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Nerves by [livejournal.com profile] jebbypal
Rating: TV 14 for goriness.
Spoilers: Not really any for the movie, Serenity, but it's based on Session 1, 22, and 416 of the viral marketing clips, so spoilers for those.
Summary: River's nervous during the interview.
A/N: Thanks to Neroli66 for the quick beta last night.
Oh, and Darn Joss for planting this bunny!






Session 1

The interviewer makes her nervous. It’s as if spiders are scuttling out of him and into her stomach, a feeling that she can’t block out at all. Instead, River settles for glancing nervously away from him as she answers his questions. Hopefully, she isn’t making too bad of an impression. The school’s brochures were so exciting when she read them. The idea of being at a school filled with kids just like her is too tempting to resist. That must be the cause of this the crawling anxiety that she can’t quite repress.

She can’t remember a time when she’s ever wanted anything so much. Not even the lead in Swan Lake when she was ten.

She looks back at the interviewer as she answers his question. “They call me ‘Little Mouse’,” she says.

He nods with satisfaction and asks if the students in her classes are ever jealous. The question throws her. What does it matter if they are? Simon’s proud of her, that’s all that matters. Thanks to him, she’s never minded not having friends her own age. He doesn't even care when she makes fun of his friends, after they leave, of course. River remembers when Simon told her that she had to wait until they were alone to crack her jokes. She thinks she was three.

The man leans forward slightly with anticipation as she explains her ability to read body language. She’s surprised that he’s giving so much away. The interview invite had stated that he was a neurologist and a psychologist; surely, he’s learned to control his body language better. But his reaction calms River somewhat, he must like what he’s hearing.

"Your mind. Letting it do everything it could. Does that sound like something you'd be interested in?" he asks.

The question elicits a flutter of fear that banishes her smile and outward cheer. It’s the same fear she felt when her father gave her the news about the interview. Simon had explained it well when she told him. He’d reminded her of how nervous and uncertain he’d been when he’d started at the med-acad. Then later of how much he dreaded every new rotation during his internship. At least until he rotated in general surgery. That had fit him like a glove.

He’d told her that it would be the same for her. Even as bored as River felt while she filled her time with college classes, dance recitals, and artwork, it was still comfortable. Leaving behind the familiar would always be a little scary, no matter their age. But once she went (because there was no way they wouldn’t accept her) and adjusted, she’d be happier than she’d ever been in her life and barely remember how nervous she’d been of the transition. Afterward, every transition would be a little easier, her brother assured her.

That must be it, this feeling. The spiders came from River’s fear that she wouldn’t be accepted as well as her apprehension of what changes the school would bring to her life. “Would I still be allowed to dance?” she asks.



Session 22

He’s back again. River thinks she dreads these sessions almost as much as she dreads what is to come. But maybe that isn’t true. Maybe she’ll convince him that she’s wrong for the program. Or at least get to see her brother. Simon will fix everything.

"I don't think – I'm sorry – I think there's been an error. I don't think…I think I may not be the right subject for these…for this program," she says, stuttering slight as her nerves and desperation betray her. Vaguely, she remembers a time when her voice never would have cracked, when it would have exuded her certainty and knowledge that everyone else was wrong. There was a time when she'd never have come to any meeting dressed in a dingy white shirt, too, she recalls with bitterness.

"It's perfectly natural to feel a little nervous," the doctor says.

He throws the past at her like weapons. Suddenly she's four again and trying desperately to keep her mother from throwing away her ratty rabbit. It had been good enough for Simon, it was good enough for her. She'd failed then, too. Then, she'd lost the only toy she ever loved. The stakes are higher now. (Two by two.)

They’ve already decided that she’s the perfect subject, that she’ll be the success the others aren’t.

Suddenly, she knows why the doctor will never let her go. He started it all. He even performed the first operation. He didn’t even feel the fear or pain of the boy who died, just a little sadness at the lost potential. “We're doing such good work,” he told the nurse as they removed their blue gloves.

Two by two, they’ve tested and prodded and poked and hurt her. The worst pain is yet to come, she knows this. “I would like to see my brother,” River declares.

“Well, you can write him any time you like.” Her continued insistence bothers him. She's supposed to give up now, to be a good little girl. River's never liked being a good little girl. "I'm sure he's very busy," the doctor says at last.

Busy. Simon has never been to busy for her. But he’s right. She can write Simon. She can tell him everything and then he’ll come and fix it all.

She just hopes that he doesn’t take too long.



Session 416

River knows what's coming as they lead her to the interview room. It's a pity that they don't. Then again, that's why she's here, isn't it? She can see what they can't. She giggles as she thinks of what is to come. They won't even see the joke.

As always, it's the same interviewer as every time before, the doctor who started it all. The blood is true, he admitted it. Really, she's quite bored with him. Since they changed her (needles coming, more than two by two, more than she can count), he's even more boring. Long ago, she gave up trying to impress him. Her brains impressed him, her tears never did. (Sign of weakness, accelerate the treatments.)

The door shuts behind her. He's sitting in the chair. She doesn't even give him a chance to wave her to her place. (Two by two, a space for everything and everyone. If it doesn't fit, get rid of it.) Odd, he doesn't seem to register that she's in the room until the pen breaks the skin on his throat. He resists, but it's over much too fast for him to do much other than register a cough of surprise.

River stays silent as she watches him. His eyes stare at her with horror before he glances desperately toward the door. Silly bird, he thinks help will come.

River asked for help once. Asked to see her brother. Naïve. Help never comes. Besides, the Alliance needs her and the rest of the facility is oh, so very busy. She should know, he's told her that enough times by now.

The interviewer pulls at the pen, coughing and gurgling the entire time. A last, desperate effort succeeds in dislodging the pen. Blood spews from his throat to coat the table as his hand lands limply, dropping her tool. His eyes are wild as he struggles to his feet, only to lose his balance from shock (eight point six seconds to drain it all). He collapses inelegantly on the floor in a lifeless heap. Really, River could do better even half asleep. Score of two, only that generous because of his inexperience.

Drama over, River turns her attention to the audience behind the window.

"I can see you."

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August 2017

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