Okay, final chapter. I would just like to say a thank you to everyone who added this to their favorites, alerts, and reviewed;
Sakura Katana, Chicago Brown, WonderfallsOnDaisies, Maaiikee, Like-Vines-We-Intertwine, butimbroken, TopherBennet, o0Kayleeo0, Sailor moon fan, Whiskey's Original Personality (The Wife of Remus Lupin), Viscy Whiskey Poo, JenniferTvgirl, geekers, ray1, Likewow5556, -Athena's. Wise. Girl.-, DreamingofkillingAnneBoleyn
Overall I'm pretty satisfied with this story even though I feel like I wrote Claire and Alpha slightly out of character. This was originally only meant to be three chapters but somehow ended up being twice as long. :)
Chapter songs: Mad World- Tears for Fears, Imaginary- Evanescence
Disclaimer: All things Dollhouse belong to Joss Whedon and to a lesser and undeserved extent Fox.
Whiskey calmly walked up the stairs to the fuse box as if the sounds of the fighting butchers were a million miles away instead of downstairs. Those kind of things had no effect on her. After all, she knew what she was supposed to do. She walked up to the fuse box set in the wall and opened the door, then pulled the latch that would make them all fall asleep.
"Sleeping gas? That seems like an odd security measure, even for DeWitt."
Claire stood next to Alpha as he began hooking up wires in the fuse box.
"It's a precautionary in case we get attacked by a large group," he explained as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "This way instead of being outnumbered two to one we can just pull a little switch and they all go nighty-night."
He put the cover back over the switches and and closed the fuse box. "I'm actually surprised you agreed to do this," she admitted.
Alpha raised a brow questioningly. "And why is that?"
Claire let out a short laugh. "Please, with your 'superior being' attitude you used to have I didn't think your pride would let you."
"I'm just glad I could do this since Echo refuses to let me do anything important or tell me anything for that matter," he said glumly, scowling.
"They've only been around you for a few months, just let them get used to you."
He sighed. "Whatever, it doesn't matter." He grinned playfully at her. "At least I have that other rogue doll to keep me company at night."
"Careful with her," Claire said, somehow managing to keep a straight face. "I hear she once let a bunch of rats loose in Topher's office."
Alpha slid an arm around her drawing her closer. "Did she now?"
The white gas began to billow out and spread acrross the bottom floor slowly knocking the butchers out and causing them to drop one by one. The gas began to rise toward the second floor as Whiskey sat on the edge, slipping her legs under the banister. She could have gone with the others but she knew where her place was.
"Claire, come on we have to go."
Claire kept her back turned toward Echo as she stood in her office. "I'm not going," she said flatly.
"What? What do mean you're not going?"
She sighed and turned to face Echo who was staring at her in disbelief. "I need to stay here so I can tell other people who come here where the compound is, and if Alpha is able to find his way back here..."
Echo's expression of disbelief turned to one of sympathy. "Claire, Alpha knows where the compound is. He's most likely to show up there."
Claire scoffed. "Even Alpha can't fight his way out of a city of butchers on his own. Besides that isn't the only reason I'm staying here, that's only part of it, like I already told you."
Ballard appeared behind Echo. "We're ready to head out."
Echo didn't respond to him. "You'll go insane," she said.
She shrugged. " Haven't I done that once already?"
The gas had begun to reach the second floor and tendrils of it were already reaching her. Whiskey laid her head down on the rail contet in knowing she had been her best. She soon found herself immersed in the gas and sleep quickly followed seconds later.
It was obivous from the small crater in the floor that someone had been there. It didn't come as a surprise to Alpha. Many of the actuals had taken to hiding underground so it was likely a group of them had stumbled across the roof entrance to the Dollhouse. He knelt down in front of the widend hole and surveyed the pipes and rubble surrounding it. He slung his battered pack off his back and pulled out coiled up rope and a flare stick. Taking out an old lighter from his breast pocket he lit the flare and let it drop to the floor down below. It didn't light much but it revealed enough. There were the remains of gas swirling around and what looked like a few dead butchers. Alpha's heart clenched when he realized who was most likely responsible for setting of the sleeping gas.
"What the hell do you mean she isn't here?" Alpha looked around the small kitchen and met the gazes of several guilty expressions.
Echo was the first one to speak up of course. "She said she wanted to stay so she could help other people find out where the compound is, and that if you found your way back to the Dollhouse she wanted to be there."
Alpha stared at Echo balnkly, not understanding the last part. "Why did she think I would go to the Dollhouse?'
"We told her you got seperated from the group last time we were in the city," Ballard explained.
Alpha gitted his teeth in frustration and began pacing the room, running a hand through his hair. He wanted to yell and scream at them for being so stupid as to let Whiskey stay in that place, but he knew that there was nothing they could have done to make her go short of kidnapping her. Maybe if he had been there, though...he shook his head, knowing it was pointless to dwell on the 'what if's'.
"We have to go back and get her back," he said turning to face Echo again.
"There's now way," Victor said from his seat next to Sierra. "The city was filled with butchers last time we left."
"So we just leave her there?"
"There's nothing else we can do." Echo's voice was firm but her expression was somber.
Grounding his teeth in frustration, Alpha stalked out of the room, punching the wall next to the door as he did so.
It was slow going as Alpha carefully lowered himself down into the Dollhouse by rope. While he did so, he couldn't help but wonder with a wry smile how many times he was going to break into the Dollhouse. He had a piece of cloth tied over his mouth and nose so the dissipating gas wouldn't affect him. Once he touched down on the ground and held his gun in a ready position just in case some of the butchers somehow escaped the gas.
He surveyed the main area and other than several unconsious buthcers it remained eerily the same as it had the day he left. His eyes were roaming the second floor when he saw her. She was sitting on the edge of the second floor with her head resting on the banister and her legs dangling carelessly over the edge.
"Whiskey," he breathed. Glancing at the unconsious butchers to make sure they were still knocked out he sprinted up the stairs and ran to her his gun to his side he carefully took her into his arms and checked her pulse; slow but steady. It'd been almost six years since he'd last seen her. The scars were still gone. She had done that shortly before he'd left. He still couldn't help but to touch the place on her cheek where one of them had been. She looked much paler than he remembered but that was only natural after spending years underground.
He wanted to stay with her until she woke up but knew that he had to take care of the butchers before they stirred. He carefully picked her up and carried her over to the couch in Topher's office (which was still filled with the same toys fueling his already eery sense of deja vu) where he laid her down gently. With a sigh he began the grueling task of dragging each butcher up the stairs in order to put them in the chair and wipe them. At first he considered tying them up just in case the gas wore off but it didn't seem like it'd been that long since they'd been knocked out judging by the lingering gas.
In all there were twelve butchers. That meant twleve cylces of dragging a heavy body up the stairs and heaving it into the chair. Twelve cycles of, 'did I fall asleep' and 'for a little while'. Alpha honestly didn't know how Topher could have stood the same monotonus routine day after day but then again he supposed that Topher did have the fun of constructing different personalities and didn't have to drag his actives up the stairs. After wiping them he would make them go down in the main area to sit or just read one of the books that were laying around.
Once the last butcher had been wiped Alpha sunk down in Topher's office chair with a relieved sigh. He had long since removed the cloth covering his nose and mouth since the gas was completely gone and his gun lay next to him on the desk within reach just in case of any nasty surprises. There was still work for him to do, even with the butchers all wiped. He still had to get them proper clothing and try to see if there was any food left in the place. Then of course he would have to do a full sweep of the place in order to make sure there were no ways in which butchers could enter. For now though, he was going to rest, if not for a few minutes.
Alpha shot up in the chair and turned to the couch where whiskey was sitting up looking at him with a composed yet curious expression. Alpha rose from the chair and took a seat next to her on the couch.
"Whiskey," he asked quitely, hardly letting himself believe he was actually talking to her again after all these years, "are you alright? Do you feel nauseous? Does your head hurt?"
"No, I just feel tired." Alpha winced at how active-like her voice sounded. Fear constricted his heart at the thought that somehow she had been wiped underground, but he was good at suprressing feelings and imprints alike and quickly pushed it down.
"Do you remeber me," he asked tentatively.
"Yes," she answered in a voice that he thought sounded less monotone than before. "You were my friend, but then you went away...they all did."
Alpha fought down the guilt of leaving her just like he had done for years and concentrated on what her answer meant to her state of mind. It was vague to say the least but she did remember some things which was good. Independent of programming or not she had been formed from an imprint making him wonder if it had some how detoriated over the years making her revert back to her active state.
"Do you remember being a doctor?"
She tilted her head, her eyebrows knitted together in confusion. "...Doctor...I remember a doctor, he was nice. I used to wear a lab coat just like his."
"Would you like to be a doctor," he asked the gears in his head already in full motion.
A smile stole over her lips, illuminating her eyes. "Yes, doctors help people and that's what I want to do."
Had Alpha been in a normal state of mind seeing her give him a genuine smile would have made him happier than he had been in years, but his mind was in a frenzy. He was laying out a plan and the qualified imprints were filling in any missing pieces. If he could get a scan of her brain he could probably rebuild her Doctor Saunders imprints and then retrieve her memories. His mind was so far ahead that he was already imaging what his first conversation would be with her.
Alpha hopped up from the couch, his previously dull, tired body became animated at the thought of getting his Whiskey back. "Whiskey, would you like a treatment?"
"Do you need to find the way to safe haven," she asked, the smile now gone from her face as she looked up at him expectantly.
Alpha was momentarily caught off guard by the unprogrammed answer, but he quickly shook it off. "No, I want to make you better with a treatment."
"I don't want a treatment," she said with more force than Alpha thought she was capable. For one of the few times in his life Alpha felt surprised.
"You don't want a treatment?"
She shook her head fiercly. "But a treatment will make you better," he told her in the same sickening sweet voice the handlers used, hoping that it would trigger the programmed, 'yes', in her mind.
"No, treatments just make people dissapear."
Alpha looked down at Whiskey uncertainly and she gazed back up at him stubbornly. He felt certain he could get Claire back if he just got her in the chair, but he couldn't do that if she didn't want to. Of course he could always force her in it, but having been forced in the chair at one point himself he dissmissed the idea almost as quickly as it formed.
Alpha sighed and held out his hand for her. "It's okay, you don't have to get a treatment."
She looked down at his hand ponderingly for a moment before accepting it and allowing him to pull her to her feet. He would just have to convince her over a period of time, but for now he had other things he needed to do.
"Whiskey, do you think that you could help me with some things," he asked quietly.
She nodded. "There are actives downstairs that need clothes and food, do you think you could get them some?"
Her face lit up at the prospect of being useful. "Yes, I'll do that right now." She let go and walked out of the office, Alpha watching her wistfully as she went the feeling of her hand still on his.
At least she's still alive, Paul said sympathetically.
"Thanks, but I don't feel like looking at the silver lining right now Ballard." He turned and grabbed his gun from where it lay on Topher's desk and headed down stairs to make sure there were no places any butchers could get in.
Everyday Alpha would try to convince Whiskey to have a treatment and every time she would obstinately shake her head and look away, going back to tend to the actives. She loved looking after them, either forgetting or unaware that they had been mindless killing machines. Alpha didn't think she would have cared either way as she seemed to enjoy taking care of people just as much as she had when she was Claire, making Alpha wonder if she really had wanted to be a doctor. He eventually stopped asking her if she wanted a treatment, and reigned himself to the fact that they could never have what they had before he left. There were times when he thought she remembered, though; she would push down his hair when she thought it was 'a mess' or put her hand on top of his when they sat next to eachother.
Alpha put all his work into looking after the actives and found a certain measure of peace in it, helping him to push down the memories of the last decade. It was a little over a month when Echo and everyone he never expected to see again showed. Everyone expcept Ballard, that is. News of his death hurt more than he expcted it to. Being in the Dollhouse reminded him of how much he used to hate Ballard, which gave him a bitter sense of irony at the pain of his loss.
None of them were suprised at the state of Whiskey. If anything they were suprised by the fact that she was still alive. She was going to be wiped along with the rest of the world. He had asked Adelle to make sure of that. After all the trauma Whiskey has recieved she needed a new start. So did he, which was why he left, but not before giving Echo the last piece of Paul left in the world.
Alpha couldn't bring himself to go far, though. He instead situated himself in one of the buildings across the street from the Dollhouse. Luckily Echo and the rest seemed to have driven back the butchers from the immediate area. While he waited for the inevitable Alpha wondered if he really would lose all his memories of the past ten years. If he did he hoped that he would at least still be kind to Whiskey.
A flicker of movement on the streets below caught his eye and Alpha glanced out the window to see Adelle leading the actives out from the Dollhouse. His eyes scanned over the group until he spotted Whiskey in her white dress, looking around herself curiously but otherwise at ease. He didn't take his eyes off of her until the blast came.
When Summer woke up she expected to find herself in the chair at the Dollhouse, not a Mad Max-esque street. Warily she sat up, surrounded by a dozen or so other people doing the same. Only two people were standing, a man, helping a little girl up and a woman silently watching the group. Summer thought she looked familiar...with a start she realized that it was Adelle DeWitt, the woman who had spoken to her about the Dollhouse. Except unlike their last meeting(which felt like only an hour ago) she was not dressed neatly with a cool demeanor. Instead she was dressed in baggy, worn-out clothing with a tired, yet determined look in her eyes.
Summer caught her gaze but then the person next to Adelle began talking to her adamantly, no doubt demanding to know what was going on. Summer got to her feet began to really take in her surroundings. All around her were broken down cars, some on fire, and hollowed out buildings with most of the windows broken. One was in particularly bad shape with it's roof and what appeared to be some of it's floors blown off. It looks like a war zone, she though as she looked around. While she was doing this she spotted a man walking out from one of the buildings.
He was of average height with strawberry blonde hair, and was dressed in shabby clothes not unlike Adelle. Except he was carrying a gun in his hands. Summer got an overpowering sense of deja-vu when she looked at him. He raised an eyebrow when he saw her and started to walk over. For a brief moment she thought about walking in the opposite direction but then discounted the thought as silly. She had a strong feeling he wouldn't hurt her.
"Whiskey," he said softly when he reached her.
She wrinkled her brow in confusion. "Uh, sorry, no Whiskey here and I'm pretty sure all the bars are gone."
The man's mouth twitched in what could only be amusement. "Very funny, but I think you need to tell me what's going on." His voice adopted a more forceful tone that sent chills down her spine but she fought down her fear.
"I'm not kidding, I have no idea what's going on," she insisted. "I just woke up lying on the ground and everything was like this."
"So you remember nothing about the Dollhouse," he asked.
"You know about the Dollhouse?" That was something she never thought would come up in a conversation outside the Dollhouse. Then again maybe it wasn't so strange after waking up in the ruins of a city.
"Yes, I was a former active there. What's the last thing you remember?"
"Getting into that chair."
"Ahhhh." The man, who had been staring at her intently, slowly allowed his face to relax. "You must have been reset somehow." His gaze swept over the group of confused people milling about. "Everyone must have, myself included. I guess cutting the head off of the snake didn't work after all."
Summer gave him a blank look. "What the hell are you talking about?"
He smirked at her. "Poor Whiskey, you're always left out of the loop, aren't you?" Something about his patronizing tone struck a chord of familiarity in her, and she felt like she'd faced down that smirk before.
"You don't seem to know much more than me," she retorted. "Unless you'd like to tell me why this city is in ruins?"
"No," he admitted and she was to surprised to see an actual smile playing around his lips. "I can tell you a little more about yourself, though. Your active name was Whiskey at the Dollhouse, that is until they programmed as the resident doctor, then you were called Claire. You eventually left as Claire and lived with me."
Summer scoffed in disbelief but she was finding it difficult to doubt him. "So, you're saying while I was programmed as a doctor we shacked up?"
The man's smirk widened. "Something like that."
Summer wondered if he was always that infuriating when they had lived together, if he was telling the truth about them that is. "What happened after we started living together?"
He shrugged. "Not much we lived together for a little under a year, all the while avoiding the Dollhouse. Last thing I remember we were actually looking for some other people who were actives."
"Then you have no idea what led up to this," she gestured to the mess of a city they were in.
He shook his head and then she watched as his eyes settled on something past her. "I know someone who could probably tell us, though." Summer followed his gaze to where it settled on Adelle who was looking thier way.
"Of course, she's the only one here that doesn't look confused."
She sighed, he was right. In fact she had intended to question Adelle herself before she started talking to him. "Yea, I guess."
His face split into a grin. "Now, that's my Whiskey, always the reasonable one."
"Would you stop calling me that," she said irritably. "My name is Summer."
Both his eyebrows shot up. "Summer? Never would have called that one. I don't suppose you remember my name do you?" He looked down at her wistfully.
She shook her head.
"Alpha? That's not a name."
He grinned. "It is a name, it's my name. Now maybe we should go have that chat with Ms. DeWitt now?"
She nodded and he started to walk forward but she caught his arm. "What?"
"Maybe I should take the lead," she said. "After all a woman in a white dress is going to look alot less threatening than a man carrying a huge gun."
He regarded her a moment before shrugging. "I suppose it's best, especially after what I did last time I was at the Dollhouse."
For a moment she wondered wildy what he had done but then decided that it could wait until later. Alpha stood to the side and allowed her to walk ahead following along behind her. She could see Adelle watching them expectantly as they walked towards her. Summer found herself becoming more nervous with every step she took. Looking at the destruction around her she was almost afraid to hear the explanation behind it. However, she kept walking, bracing herself for what was to come.
*ducks behind table* ...Okay, I realize that wasn't exactly a fairytale ending and that it was a bit open ended but when I finished writing that last line something about it felt so final that I knew it was the right ending. Originally I though about Whiskey dying in the Epilogue(that was the Joss ending) but I liked this idea much better.
By the way I got Whiskey's original name from Buffy's last name. I wasn't sure what to name her and just decided to take a name from one of Joss's other works. Speaking of which a Dollhouse comic just came out about what happened when the world was mass wiped and focuses on the characters introduced in Epitaph One. A five issue mini-series is also coming out in the summer and you can read about it on
Thank you for reading.