Back To The Days
"It must be done." Adelle's voice was soft and yet carried the force of one of the screen door-yielding zombies in the latest game he had grown addicted to. She would keep advancing with the cold steel of her eyes as intense and unfeeling as ever and she wouldn't stop until she had eliminated everything in her path. Her decision would be final; when she made a choice she kept to it unless some previously unseen reason came into play. She would dash the thread of hope he had been clinging to merely by reaching a final verdict on the situation.
His lower lip quivering, Topher shook his head. "Her contract is up. Shouldn't we be releasing her back into the big wide world about now?"
"Are you questioning my authority on this?"
"No!" he waved his hands in front of his face. "I mean, yes! I think I am."
"You must understand that things have changed. We cannot afford to lose any staff and Dr Saunders is indispensable."
"Dr Saunders," Adelle said.
"Claire... Whiskey...whatever you want to call her, deserves to be free! She's done her time. She's paid in more than time. You recall Mr Baddie Pants' slice and dice operation? Yeah? Well that wasn't in the contract, was it? She's ugly now – that's what she'll think when she comes out of this – but at least she'll be free to live her own life again!"
"Personal feelings aside," she said.
"Personal feelings?" Topher accentuated the word "feelings" with air quotes.
"We both know how you feel. If this was any other Active we wouldn't be having this conversation."
"We both know that nothing can ever come of the feelings you have for her." She paused and ran her tongue over her lips. "I am your boss. You are my employee. The only question left unanswered is why you aren't doing your job."
"My job is to reprogram the Dolls who are on contract. Her contract is up. Therefore, programming is a thing I shouldn't be doing to her anymore."
Adelle narrowed her eyes and wrapping her arms around her middle, began to pace back and forth in front of him. "Mr Brink."
Dragging a hand through his floppy hair, he nodded slightly. "Yes?"
"Please do your job."
His face paled when she told him.
"Do you want a treatment?" he asked in the gentle voice he always used on the Actives. It had never affected Whiskey the way it had the others. Behind her, he could see the expansive underground complex that made up the Dollhouse. It was a magnificent view.
The first time he had seen the bamboo decorations and the rock pool and the space between it all, he had nearly forgotten how to breathe for a full thirty seconds. Dominic, head of security, had pounded him on the back while he had almost choked on his own tongue. It was amazing. It really was.
She was too. She had always been amazing, his favourite. For a reason he couldn't put a finger on, he felt a fondness for her. It went beyond simple attraction and on to something else. Love would be too strong a word for it but maybe obsession would fit. He was a great deal obsessed with her as a human being and as his creation.
"I do," she agreed. The smile on her face sent a rush of anger through him. Why did it have to be her?
"Good!" he said. "Let's get this started then. Take a seat?"
Whiskey followed his directions without another word, for which he was grateful. If she spoke or did anything out of the ordinary it would make this a lot more difficult for him to go ahead with. Adelle's words still rang in his head and he sure as hell did not want them put into action because he couldn't...
"Treatment time!" Collecting the necessary equipment, he moved behind the chair and laid his hands on it. Leaning forwards slightly, he hesitated.
"Go ahead," Adelle called from the doorway.
"It won't be easy but these are my orders," she added.
"Your orders? Or orders from your boss?" It's a challenge and they both know it.
"That doesn't matter."
"It does. It does matter! I need to know who's making me do this. Who is really making me do this? Is it you? Or is it your boss?" As he spoke he stepped back and began to pace the stretch of floor between the chair and the control panel. Blinking lights glowed white, red, green and blue from the control panel, though their intensity was nothing compared to what would be seen when Whiskey was transformed once more.
Adelle seemed to consider his words for a moment. She tapped her chin with one slender finger and thin lines formed at the corners of her eyes. She removed her finger and dropped her hand to the side. "It was my boss," she said quietly. "Does that help you? Does that give you the extra incentive to imprint her? If you fail to do your job it is not just me who you will have to face but those higher up than me."
He had no response for that. Swallowing, he gave a short nod and set about the control room, plugging things in and pressing buttons that he barely had to think about to know which ones to press. On autopilot, he touched the final switch but rather than pushing it he looked at Adelle.
"If there was any way I could save her I would," she said.
Nodding once more, he applied pressure to the switch and watched as Whiskey went through the imprint process. It was with a frown that he studied her for when she woke up she would be lost to him again in a crowd of faces that did not belong to their owners. He made sure of that. He'd have to go back to the days of watching her from afar and waiting for the day that she was finally free.