Disclaimer: I do not own the shows Buffy, Dollhouse, or any of the character from them. I only own Terry the programmer and Anthony Stewart :)
"You...you're saying that I don't have to be in jail anymore?" Faith Lehane asked Anthony Stewart incredulously. "I turned myself in. I'm not running from anything...wouldn't want to have Angel come after me again if he heard I skipped out of jail."
"No," Anthony said, "you wouldn't be...skipping out, as you so plainly put it. We are a highly respected agency. You would be paying your debt to society, but for you it would be like falling asleep for five minutes."
"Falling asleep? What exactly do you do?"
Anthony poured himself a cup of coffee and settled down, expecting a long argument from the rebellious-looking young woman in front of him. "I...we run the Dollhouse, or I run one of them in Santa Monica. Adelle DeWitt runs another in L.A.. "
Faith nodded slowly, slightly puzzled. "Dollhouse?" It had been exactly a day since a whole group of the strangest men had come and brought her here, and still Faith had no idea why they wanted her.
"We specialize in...people. The perfect date, assassin, lawyer, chef, or whatever one happens to need. Our dolls are hired for five years of their life, and in return they receive a great deal of payment." Anthony said.
"People?" Faith slid her feet onto the table and ignored Anthony's cringing. "Like virtuosos or talented people or something? All I'm good for is fighting and partying, and even that can go wrong."
Anthony said, "Well, we have a way to erase a person's memories, and then imprint them with any personality, any person. Once you're done with your five years, we give back your original memories and get you out of whatever trouble you might be in, plus the fact that you'll be very rich."
Faith jumped away from the table. "You want to brainwash me? Hope you don't mind me saying this, but how will I know that I'll ever get my old memories back? You'll have 'em, not me." she watched Anthony warily. "How will I know you're not going to use me until I'm not pretty anymore?"
"No worries, Faith." Anthony said. "You have friends, I'm sure?"
Does one vampire with a soul count? "Listen, I didn't turn myself in because I wanted to rot in a tiny cell for years of my life. I did bad things...I killed people. That doesn't usually earn you many friends. the one person that was my friend was terrorized by me. Not to mention the fact that I slept with her boyfriend..."
"But you have friends."
"Angel. I think..."
Anthony offered Faith a cup. "Coffee? Tea? I completely forgot to ask."
Faith shook her head. "No. That's years of paranoia talking there, so no. Or as someone I used to know said, 'a world of no'."
"Your friends will wonder where you've gone, and the government-parts of it, anyway-keep a close watch on the Dollhouses. I promise you will get your old memories back. If you like, we can even change them to not include some of the less pleasant incidences of your life..."
Faith's breath caught in her chest, but she remained still, wondering what it would be like. I could forget my childhood, and the mayor, and all the things I did and people I killed...Angel said it would always hurt, but what if it didn't have to? "No tampering with my memories, thank you. I suppose I deserve to feel guilty for all the horrible things I've done."
"Very well." Anthony said pleasantly. "So you are signing up?"
"Like sleeping five minutes, you said?" she asked again. "That's it, and no funny tricks?"
She relented and stretched a hand across the table, shaking Anthony's hand.
"Welcome to the Dollhouse, Faith."
When she woke up exactly ten hours later, a man was standing there in front of her. "Hello, Whisper. How are you feeling?"
"Did I fall asleep?" she asked. Dolls were always the same.
He smiled. "For a little while."
"Shall I go now?"
"If you like."
Whisper walked out into the main room. There were lots of people. They must all be her friends. Whisper smiled. She liked friends. One walked by, and she did her best to smile. Everyone should do their best, right? "I think I'll swim in the pool," she said to no one.
"She's doing well?" Anthony asked Terry.
Terry had a smug expression. "Of course. Doesn't remember a thing... plus she's extremely strong for a girl her size. What did you say she was?"
"A Slayer. Just another oddity in this world."
"A Slayer, huh?" Tony asked. "Slayer of what?"
"That was what she wouldn't tell us."
"Ah. Would you like me to...you know. Check her memories out? We could use whatever makes her strong and find a way to implant it in all the dolls." Terry suggested.
Anthony shook his head. "Maybe, maybe not. There's a lot of strange thing s about her, though, things I'd like to know. For instance, what she slays, like you said. Where's she's from, if there's more of her, and how many people know about this besides us. But for now..."
"For now," Terry said, "She's just another doll. Another face in the crowd. Whisper."
I know you run the Las Vegas Dollhouse, and it seems we have run into a very bad...incident. One of dolls, Whisper, has escaped, due to an unfortunate accident. Imprinted with Caroline Farrell, an animal rights activist, she was lost by her Handler, and never was wiped. We believe she may be in your area. If you see her I'd prefer you lead her to believe she's Caroline, not a doll. There was a major security issue with her real memories, which we can't give her back unless we want all the Dollhouses to be brought down. Her imprint, Caroline, is very close to uncovering Rossum, or even worse, us. You need to stop her.
Head of Santa Monica Dollhouse
Anthony sighed and pressed a hand to his forehead. This was all just falling to pieces around him. He didn't want Adelle to know about Faith's strength or abilities, and he also didn't want Caroline to uncover Rossum because if she did he would lose his job and much more. The best he could do was make sure that Adelle's Dollhouse managed to apprehend Caroline and then all he would have left would be hiding her real memories so that Terry could do what he said he wanted to try; find the source of Faith's uncanny strength. Maybe with an army of super humans he wouldn't have to worry so much about losing his job.
Adelle DeWitt smiled over her cup of tea as Caroline was led away. Anthony had been absolutely right: Caroline had come straight to them, and would have uncovered Rossum if she hadn't been caught in one of their buildings trying to get out with all the info she needed to bring them crashing down. The only part she couldn't get was why Bennett had been working so late right near where they found Caroline, but that could wait for another day. Bennett was hospitalized, and as far as Adelle had been told, her left arm was paralyzed from the shoulder down. It wasn't Adelle's concern anyway. Bennett worked at a different Dollhouse. Caroline was there only concern.
The aforementioned person was being led away by Topher to be completely wiped, and turned into another one of the dolls.
"It's funny," she mused to herself, "A doll agreeing to be a doll. I wonder who she was in the first place?"
One thing Adelle had learned in all her years working here was not to question anything if it could benefit her and others without doing any harm. Anthony had said that whoever Caroline—or Whisper—had been before she was a doll had also found a way to bring Rossum down, and though Caroline had too, she had been convinced not to tell anyone.
"And all's well that ends well." She concluded, setting down her tea.
"She's already a doll?" Topher asked in amazement as he watched Caroline's blank face. He was taking her memories as Caroline. "Why don't we send her to her old Dollhouse?"
"There were liability issues, or something. She's different; look." His assistant, Ivy, handed him a juice box, then pointed at the screen. "She's inhumanely strong, but obviously they've got her thinking she's not."
Topher nodded, looking intently at the screen. "Yep. That tends to avoid the whole 'grrrrr' thing happening, should she decide she doesn't want to be a doll anymore."
"Ahhhh...I forgot to ask, shouldn't we be running tests on Alpha? thought he was compositing memories from assignments." The assistant looked down at Alpha, who had a peaceful expression on his face as he did yoga with a bunch of the other dolls.
"Mmmm-hmmm, later." Topher handed her a piece of paper. "Can you get these from the grocery?"
She rolled her eyes. "Topher, I'm here to learn, not to get your groceries."
"Yes, and there will be no learning until I'm fed." he shooed her with his hands. "—Go on."
"I hate you." There was a trace of affection in her voice. "Tell me how she is when she's finished."
Topher looked at Caroline, or what she had been. "Uh-huh." The girl in the chair was slowly lifted up, and looked at Topher, blinking in a confused way. "Hello, Echo. How are you feeling?" The best part of his job was definitely choosing names.
She looked around. "Did I fall asleep?"
"For a little while." The dialogue was routine; it made the transition from a person to an empty shell easier.
"Shall I go now?" she asked dreamily.
"If you like."
With a little smile Echo walked into the L.A. Dollhouse. "Hello," she said, looking at Alpha.
"Hello. You're new."
Alpha smiled back in a childlike way. "Yes. We all try our best. I swam thirty laps in the pool today."
"That's good." Echo agreed. "I will try my best, too."
She nodded politely and then walked in the direction of the pool. She didn't even see Alpha staring at where she had been, long after she had disappeared.
I know you're on vacation, but...there was a kind of bad thing that happened at the Dollhouse. Someone-who I assume had to be Alpha-came back and ravaged all our security guards, then let all the dolls go. I know, "Why didn't he kill the dolls?" Echo didn't want him to, I guess. She and a few others got out before back up came in and scared Alpha away with guns. There haven't been any reports, no one has seen her since she had her last assignment. She is gone. I'll be taking all the precautions to keep Alpha out for good, but I think Echo's lost to us. In her childlike state she won't last long anyway. I won't get rid of the records we have of her unless you are sure she won't be coming back.
A/N: So what do you think? I know this isn't my first fic ("The Gift" is), but it's definatley going to be interesting. Please, please review, because reviews make me happy ;)