Title: The Smiling Man

Author: Catalyst

Summary: The Smiling Man brings her breakfast and pills. Post "Damaged"

Rating: PG

Warnings: None

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. I never have and I never claimed to.

Authors Note: Written for the Buffy Lyric Wheel

The morning sunlight is shining on her bed. This was important because it means it is time for breakfast. She has no other way to measure her days. She has no clock and no knowledge to read one if she did. She has spent the morning sitting on her bed, her legs dangling over the side, her toes brushing the carpet, watching the white light creep across the floor towards her. When the sun is almost touching her toes, she gets up and sits in the chair on the other side of the room. The sunlight is pretty but she doesn't like it to touch her. It is enough that she can see it.

When the door opens, she knows it is the Smiling Man without looking over. He always knocks twice, one loud long rap followed by a softer knuckle tap, before coming in. No one else does except the Leader, barely. His shoes on the hard hallway floor are more of an announcement. Her sisters don't bother to announce themselves at all, just burst in whenever it pleases them.

"Did you sleep okay?" The Smiling Man asks as he places the breakfast tray on her bedside table. She tries to smile back at him but, as usual, the emotion never reaches her deadened face. She yawns and does not bother to cover her mouth. This is etiquette she has forgotten, if she was ever taught at all.

"Rough night, huh?"

It is always a rough night. She has been up since the sun first peeked into her room and was laying awake long before that. She does not like to sleep. The dead sister's voices are loudest during the night, when they all clamor for her attention, all make demands. Sometimes it seems morning will not come soon enough. But she has no way to explain this to the Smiling Man. She likes him but he will not understand.

The Smiling Man is not offended by her silence. He offers her breakfast instead. He had brought her crispy bacon, soft brown toast, no butter, orange juice, extra pulp and runny eggs over easy. She eats slowly but steadily, enjoying the meal. The Smiling Man knows how she likes her food. That is one of the many reasons she likes him.

The Smiling Man sits on the bed and begins to talk. The Smiling Man always wants to talk and he takes her silence as an invitation to speak. She does not mind. She enjoys it when he talks, especially when he tells his stories. Sometimes he tells stories from books, the ones with the colored pictures are her favorites. The Smiling Man has tried to teach her the language of the books, how to understand what they say. But she has no interest in the printed words. She prefers to listen and likes with best when the Smiling Man tells the stories from his own head.

"Don't forget to take your pills, Dana." The Smiling Man says suddenly, interrupting himself.

She slips the little pink pill under her tongue, where it melts away. She doesn't like the pink pill. It makes her lazy but she knows if she refuses, they will give her the big needles. She likes the needles even less than the pill because they bruise her arms and reminds her of the dark city, the bad men, in a time before the Smiling Man took her away.

The Smiling Man was the first person she trusted in this new place. He was the one who took her away from the dark city, after she cut off the bad man's hands. He was the one who took her to her new room. He didn't get upset when she hid under the bed and stayed there. Instead, he left her food at the edge of the bed. He talked to her. And he waited. He waited until she came out of hiding. And it that one single action he won her trust.

"Now the blue one." The Smiling Man prompts. This is an important pill. It quiets the dead sister's voices, already dimmed by daylight, even more, to a point where she's almost alone in her head. The voices become her own thoughts and she becomes aware that she is insane, that her safe room is actually a prison and the Smiling Man her warden. She is almost glad when the voices return to mutter in the back of her brain, almost.

Despite the side effects, she takes the pills diligently everyday. They tried to stop giving her the pills. They thought she was better and that she didn't need them anymore. She wasn't better. She broke the Smiling Man's arm when he brought breakfast. She didn't mean too and was very sorry afterwards. The Smiling Man forgave her with a smile. She loves to see that smile. He smiles a lot and she never tires of it.

"Do you want to go outside today?"

The Smiling Man asks this every morning and every morning, so far, he has gotten the same reply, a simple shake of the head, so brief, he'd miss it if he wasn't looking for it.

"Is it because the light is too bright?"

The Smiling Man is her favorite man but he doesn't understand. She has tried to offer an explanation many times but like her emotions, they never seem to express what she truly means, "Sometimes sunshine does not want to shine on me, Andrew."

Andrew is the Smiling Man's proper name. He is forever asking her to call him by his proper name, even if it is not his real name to her. She calls him by his proper name to see him smile. It is worth it, to see him smile.

And smile he does, in a confused sort of way. As if his train of thought derailed somewhere and he's not sure if he should try to get back on track or just abandon the conversation.

He chooses abandonment. He picks up the tray and heads for the door. "We're having grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch."

A slight smile suddenly decides to play at the corner of her lips. Weeks will pass before the Smiling Man realizes she is not smiling at the prospect of lunch, that she in fact, hates tomato soup and isn't too fond melted cheese on toasted bread either. The Smiling Man may never realize that the flash of a smile he just glimpsed was relief that he was leaving before he found out her secret.

She doesn't want the Smiling Man to know because he won't understand. He won't understand that the sunshine is like the blue pill. It makes the voices go away. It makes her see herself. He doesn't understand that she doesn't want to see, doesn't want the blindfold to come off, doesn't want to get better. Because she knows who she is. She is not a little girl, rescued from the scary, dark places by the Smiling Man, being kept safe from the monsters of the world. When she steps into the sunlight, she sees what she truly is. She is the monster who is locked up to keep others safe.

The Smiling Man can't know that she knows who she is or else he may stop smiling at her.

The End

End Note: The following are the lyrics that this story is inspired from.


Sometimes sunshine
Does not want to shine on me
And sometimes I find myself blind
At first I cannot see and then I see it's me

I chose a road when I was young
In search of fun temptation won
And all my soul I did surrender
If I had a chance to go back now
Would I redeem my moral vows
Or would I repeat for my own laughter

Sometimes I hide somewhat
Like a bulb behind a shade
And sometimes I ask myself why
Is it cause the lights are too bright
Or because my eyes are closed too tight

Sometimes I find myself blind
Don't use my brain don't use my mind
Distorted feelings always leading my way
But I must forgive myself
and let the past lay down to rest
And be prepared to face myself in another day

From now on I will behave
But in the back of my mind I will be enslaved