A/N: Written as a Christmas gift for my sister aka goddesswashu. My first Dollhouse fic; I look forward to playing in Whedon's head space a little more in the near future.
001. youth is full of pleasure, age is full of care
He waits for her, until it is late and he is one of the few Actives still in the common room. It does not matter, Victor thinks, because Sierra will come back and he will see her face again and they will hold hands and walk together to somewhere just for the two of them.
She always came back. To him.
And when Sierra comes back and sees him, the tiniest percentage of him says something is different. It is overwhelmed by all of the parts of him that want to be near Sierra.
He takes her hand, and smiles.
002. consciousness is unquantifiable, a ghost in the machine, barely considered real at all
In a sleep pod, they are together, two bodies intertwined around each other. Where they touch, they are healed: the living caduceus in the house of love. Victor looks down onto Sierra's face which seems so peaceful; his fingertips ghost over her cheek, as if not daring to touch the person beside him.
Are you real?
She laughs. Of course I am. She frowns. Aren't you?
Of course I am, he mimics, and they laugh softly and everything is right again.
He does not feel Sierra watch over the couple; if he knew, would he approve of it?
003. what isn't remembered never happened; memory is merely a record
She remembers spending time at the Dollhouse. Making crafts. Painting pictures. Dreaming silly dreams in her own pod. A blank canvas, but content.
Different memories are forming for Sierra now: holding hands with him. Taking walks with him. Sitting side by side until they can feel each others' heat through their clothes. Victor: she whispers his name into her hand as she falls asleep.
Some days, something feels missing. A piece absent from a puzzle; the picture is all wrong. Uncomfortable moments linger heavy in her head.
Then Topher asks if she'd like a treatment, and she forgets again.
004. in minds crammed with thoughts, organs clogged with toxins, and bodies stiffened with neglect, there is just no space for anything else
There is always something about a treatment that makes Sierra feel better, cleaner. But it is always a little bit scary.
One time, she receives her treatment. She gets up from the bed, lets Topher examine her. She feels fine. A little tired, but that's normal for her. And yet, something feels missing.
When she tries to sleep in her pod that night, she thinks of a dream she had. In the dream, she is herself but not, and she is kissed by Victor.
She laughs softly, but wonders what his lips would taste like. It keeps her awake.
005. it is the good war that hallows every cause
It was the black paint that made him remember. Or imagine because Victor knew he'd never been in a war before, but at the same time he had. When the images washed away with the paint, when he held on to Sierra and she onto him, he could pretend it was over.
When his handler prepares him for his treatment, Victor wants to mention it, but he doesn't.
When Sierra starts painting again, Victor wants to take away the dark scary paints. But they make her happy, so he doesn't.
He does so many things, none for himself.
final. we should be careful of each other; we should be kind while there is still time.
He doesn't want to remember. He doesn't want to be in charge. And yet the next time Sierra goes away and he waits until she comes back, it's Victor who takes her hand and Victor who smiles first as they walk away.
Only this time is different. Everything feels different. He could pick Sierra up and spin her around, even kiss her if he wanted. She's the one he's been waiting for.
Call me Priya, okay?
He kisses her and thinks 'I'll do anything for you.' So he does.
Behind them, the Dollhouse burns.