Day and night weren't really important in the Dollhouse, that far down, but the gang seemed to keep to a twenty-four hour schedule anyway. Traveling was best at night, and they wanted to be ready to go at a moment's notice, so at about ten every morning they dimmed the lights and shuffled off to the pods, and were awake at around six every evening. After the usual few hours of bleary 'breakfast,' they were supposed to be making tactical strategies, but, at the moment, they were just enjoying being safe and having Claire with them. They spent a lot of the time playing 'tactical' games with Topher's laser guns; even Adelle joined in. They spent hours talking about the most random of memories; they seemed so important now. When anyone could become nothing at any moment, everything needed to be documented, preserved.
Topher had never shared a bed (or pod, for that matter) before. Apart from the fact that he was generally not great with women, the job as head programmer had never really left him with much time to pursue them. He needed to be on hand twenty-four hours a day, and so he was. Not that the paycheck hadn't made up for it considerably. The first night he'd been out of the hospital bed (Claire had made him sleep in there, with herself on the floor), he hadn't wanted to be too forward in asking. Tony and Priya shared, but he wasn't sure if that meant he and Claire should.
He approached the pods silently. Claire, Priya and Ballard were already here. Tony took as long getting ready for bed as Adelle, and Echo was checking the security system, like she did every night. He stooped down to press the button to open the pod next to Claire's. That wasn't too eager, was it? She looked over in his direction and rolled her eyes.
"Come over here, stupid." 'Stupid' had become her affectionate nickname for him, because she knew he was anything but. "You're not going to corrupt me by sleeping in the same pod. I'm not completely naïve." She laughed, her tone lighthearted. He loped over and climbed in with her, and she drew his lips in a kiss. Priya spoke.
"Guys. None of that is happening in here. Ever, alright? Not where we all have to listen." Claire glanced over at her and wiggled her eyebrows suggestively. Priya couldn't help but giggle. Tony had just walked in, looking confused, and Claire burst into laughter as well. Topher smiled. It was the most beautiful sound in the world, and he knew that sounded clichéd, but it was true.
"What? What did I miss? Are you laughing about me?" Tony always thought people were laughing about him. Priya thought it was endearing, but the rest of them assured him that it was just plain weird.
Priya beckoned for him to settle down into their pod, and he obediently walked over. Topher snuggled down closer to Claire, and Adelle and Echo were ready to get into their respective pods.
"Lights out." Echo called. She seemed to be the boss of when it was time to sleep, but no one contested. It didn't matter, anyway.
Claire gave him one final kiss, and then sank beside him. Before she closed her, eyes, though, she whispered:
"I love you."
Topher looked up at the grey ceiling of the Dollhouse, almost black in the darkness, lit only slightly by the insignificant glow emitted by the pods, and thought to himself, yes, this is absolutely, most definitely, irrefutably the best moment of my life.
"I love you too."
"Oi! You two! The rest of us are trying to sleep. Keep it quiet in there." The shout came from Priya, and was followed by a chorus of laughter, a rare sound in this time and place. Topher and Claire found themselves chuckling along, and Claire pretended to groan.
"I guess we could sleep. But when the alternative is so enticing…'' she trailed off, and smiled cheekily.
"If you're looking for alternatives, might I suggest that you two GET A ROOM? Priya and Tony have managed to be good so far." This came from Ballard.
Priya laughed suggestively. "Oh really, Ballard? Maybe you just haven't noticed." This was the usual banter that accompanied bedtime. It was the gang's way to unwind, but Echo finally became a little more serious.
"Come on, guys. Sleep. Night."
Topher mused, as he fell into his dreams, about how much better it was to hear seven 'nights' instead of six. He slept with a smile.