Written for whedonland's Birthday Fic Challenge.
Spoilers: Dollhouse Season 1
Disclaimer: I do not own Dollhouse. No profit made, no infringement intended.


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There are things he doesn't tell people, least he sound crazy. He can get away with a lot being a genius amongst ordinary minds, but saying that the imprints are dreams and ideals realized, each one his child, friend and lover might make them consider him attic material. So he keeps it to himself, his awe over his most elegant creation, Claire, only expressed to his nerdy friend who sits on a shelf, waiting for another birthday.

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He made her hate pancakes. It wasn't as important as medical skills or critical thinking. It was barely anything at all, just a tiny detail lost in the minutiae. But, as he gazes down from his lab at the actives eating breakfast, he feels triumphant. He made her different.

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Falling in love was easy. She was his. His creation, a daydream imprinted. It was while he watched her become her own, creating herself from his clay, that it became more difficult.

Soon she'd pulled control from his hands, and he feared he could not give her up if it were necessary. She was no longer his doll. She was flesh and bone, scars and piercing eyes. She no longer belonged to him, and it made him love her more. It was the tragic flaw in his equation. He hadn't factored in his own weakness.

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She hasn't left the Dollhouse, its walls a prison and a womb. Nights are harder than the day, when silence can eat at her, and cold metal of the knife can prick against her skin as the memory throbs and taunts. When every part of her wants to scream and run, she makes herself walk the halls, her bare feet gripping the cool floor. Light from his lab spills into the darkness, and she lingers in its warmth.

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The ground shifts under her feet, yet she stands on solid ground. It all rushes through her. Loss. Discovery. Fury. She is not one person, nor is she two. She's shaped by both, and yet, she is neither. She wants to go to the source, and discover who she really is, but he is not her God. He is just a man, and he will lie as sure as the lines will greet her in the mirror.

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"He asked me if I always wanted to be a doctor," she tells him, her voice rough. Her eyes cut into him, looking as glossy and empty as the fragile dolls kept from the hands of clumsy children.

He stumbles, fumbles, racing to stop it all from crashing at his feet. "Huh. Well. Who can fathom the mind of a crazy person?" he jokes, ignoring the ache caused by his fake grin.

"The one who made him crazy? ... Maybe".

The words linger in the air as she leaves him, suffocating him. He wants to stop her, erasing the truth with more cunning and elegant lies, but he's trapped by the weight of her realizations. All he can do is cling to his flawed, imperfect memories as he watches the imprint he fell in love with disappear before his eyes.