g | no warnings apply

He doesn't want to let go of her hand. He grips her fingers, and he can feel them flexing, as if she's not certain whether or not she wants to hold onto him. Her neck is twisted at an odd angle, her head tilted, staring down the hallway, and he's relieved to see that it's cleaner than he thought it would be. He's heard stories, but they don't seem to be true.

"I'll visit every week."

"You won't." She's crying. "You'll forget. You'll be busy. There's a new girl in cellular biology, and you want to take her to the dance."

"I promise."

"You lie. You said you'd always take care of me. You said you loved me."

"Mei-mei - "

Her head whips around, so fast that her hair flies up, tickles his nose. "Don't call me that."

"River. It'll be okay."

"They'll find me here. You didn't even think to use a fake name."

She's actively trying to pull away from him now. He struggles to hold on, or at least keep her from making a scene; the last thing he wants is for her to be sedated in the lobby, where anyone could just walk on by and see her. Whose bright idea was it to put glass walls in this place, anyway?

"River, they're going to help you get better."

"There is nothing wrong with me," she says, practically spitting out each word. "Nothing wrong except the people who are trying to cut into my brain."

"No one's going to do that." He swallows hard, tries to adopt a more soothing tone. "I promise, no one here is going to do that."

"Lies," she hisses. "You said you'd protect me, but you ignored me, you didn't listen."

She tries to wrench free, but she doesn't have the strength. He reels her in, wraps his arms around her, keeping her close when she causes him to lose his balance and tumble to the floor. His head hits the wall, but he shouts for the orderlies to get back, he can handle this.

"They're going to come and get me."

She finally seems resigned to her fate; she's completely limp now, her head on his shoulder. He pulls her up, forces her to meet his eyes. He's used to her looking right through him, but this is different. Vacant, lost. He almost wants to tug on her hair, just to see if he can get the same reaction he used to get when she was five.

"It's not too late." And she's back, imploring him with her gaze. "There's a ship, we could make a run for it."

"These people are going to help you get better. You'll stop worrying about the blue headed people."

"Blue hands. Hands, Simon. A two-year-old could have translated that code."

"Mr. Tam, it's time."

Before he can even respond, there are strong hands, prying her from him. She makes a final reach for him, but when she sees his face, her arm drops. Her feet drag on the floor as they lift her up, haul her away. He stifles a sob, biting his lip to keep from shouting out. He could stop this, he could, it's not too late, but no, it's for the best.

"We'll make sure she gets the help she needs."

There's a reassuring touch on his forearm, and he glances down, doing a double take when he sees the bright blue glove.