Someone working at the Dollhouse probably shouldn't be surprised by scarily advanced technology, but Boyd can't help it.

"You're saying that that… girl, you're saying it's-- she's a robot?" Boyd asks.

"Yup. Totally and completely mechanical, not an iota of humanosity in sight," Topher confirms. "Dr. Saunders says that it's, um. Anatomically correct in most ways, but still. Just a machine. One hell of a machine, though, I wonder what kind of programming it's got…" Topher eyes the thing on the table with undisguised curiosity.

"So what is it for? Is it another spy, one we can't put in the Attic?" Boyd asks.

Topher rubs the back of his neck and colors a bit. "Letting the new job go to your head, man-friend?" is all he says.

"It's for sex," Dr. Saunders says, from the doorway. "I would have thought that would be obvious.

Boyd nods, and Topher shifts uncomfortably. "So," Topher says, clearing his throat. "Boss-lady give me permission to take a look under the hood yet?"

"Yes, she did. Don't be too rough on her, Topher."

Topher raises an eyebrow. "It's not a person, Dr. Saunders."

"You don't know that."

Topher shrugs indifferently, and goes to find Ivy to help him carry it up to his lab.

Boyd turns to Dr. Saunders. "So how did it get here?"

"Some of our off-duty Handlers found her wandering around the streets. They thought she was a new Doll that had gone off assignment, or been wiped remotely. I can't say I blame them, judging by the way she was acting. She kept babbling nonsense until we figured out how to shut her off. The way she was talking wasn't unlike a Doll."

"What kind of nonsense?"

"Something about a 'slayer'. And she was looking for something, a spike. Or maybe that was a name. Do we have any staff who go by 'Spike'?"

"Nicholas says he used to when he was a teenager, but not anymore. I'll look into it anyway."


Topher is tinkering with the wires, trying to figure out what the hell whoever made this was thinking. It's obviously had repairs done on it before, things patched up oddly and wires crossed in strange places. Topher's only been looking for five minutes and he can see ten different ways to improve its efficiency, and he's not even sure what half of the wires and chips are for.

"Hello," the robot says, without any warning. Topher jumps, and nearly breaks a wire with his screwdriver. He must have hit an on-switch somehow.

"Hey! Watch it," he says, before he realizes he's talking to a robot, which is probably not healthy.

"Oh, sorry. Willow, is that you? You're more butch than I remember. I'll update my file."

"Huh? I don't know anyone named Willow, and by the way, what exactly are you, strange robot girl? If you say you're a Cyberman I'm going to have to kill you," Topher warns. "It could quite possibly end the world if I let one of those roam free."

"I'm Buffy," she says, turning around to look at him. "Are you Spike?"

"No, unless I've suddenly developed a way more badass name. I'm Topher. Who made you? Did they happen to leave a calling card?"

"Warren made me, but he's gone now."

"Gone as in dead or gone as in taking a nice vacation somewhere in the Caribbean?"

"Dead. I guess I'm an orphan now," she says, looking a little dejected at the thought, sticking her bottom lip out in something like a pout.

Topher scratches the back of his head and wonders if he should try to comfort her. It? Her.

"Are you sure you haven't seen Spike? I need to find Spike. I think he died for a little while, but Andrew said he's better now. I died for a little while too, but Willow fixed me again, so I need to find him and tell him. We can bond. I've never tried bonding. I think it would be fun."

"Right. Well, whatever programming you have is obviously messed up, or else this Warren guy was just crazy. I don't even want to know what he was thinking with some of this repair work…"

"Actually, this model of me was made by Willow."

"Do you know where I could find her? Someone really needs to tell her that this configuration here is a blowout waiting to happen, and--"

"She's on the astral plane right now, according to my most recent information."

"…Um. Is that some fancy name of a resort?"

"It doesn't matter. My system diagnostics indicate that everything is running satisfactorily."

"Sure," Topher says, brandishing his screwdriver indignantly, "Everything's fine now, but after a few weeks of use you're going to be glitching, and will probably have more chance of dying than you would in a Sierra game."

"I'd love to stay and talk, but I really do need to find Spike."

"Hey, wait--" Topher tries to say, but the robot--er, Buffy--is already up, and peering around the lab.

"Here!" she says triumphantly, picking up Topher's directory. He usually uses it to find new Chinese restaurants to send Ivy to get food from. "Angel Investigations! Andrew said he was with Angel."

"Um, this is Los Angeles," Topher points out. "City of Angels. Can't be too uncommon a thing to name businesses after. Guess it give a good image, you know."

She shrugs. "If Spike isn't there, I can always come back here, right?" she asks. "You're nice. You'll help me."

"Uh," Topher says. "I don't quite think either of those things is true."

Buffy just smiles at him brightly. "I really do wish I could stay," she says, and leans in to kiss him on the cheek. Topher blinks.

"I'll be back if I don't find him! Maybe I could love you instead," she says, and she walks cheerfully to the door.

"I, um, what? Wait!"

Buffy turns around, and tilts her head to the side. "Yes?" she asks.

"You, uh. Do need to come back, whether you find this Spike guy or not. Those glitches will come back to bite you in the ass. Hard."

"That's always fun when Spike does it," she muses under her breath, and Topher sputters for a moment before pretending he didn't hear. "Don't worry, I'll be back!"

Topher just nods as she walks away.

Well, he did know that he'd see some interesting things in this line of work.