When there's nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.

He returns to find the Dollhouse empty.

It's eyrie. He is struggling with self awareness in a way that no one could understand, save perhaps for Echo. Sometimes the switches are beyond his control, especially when Karl speaks to him. Slowly he is finding his grasp on reality; holding the personalities down. He has the company of so many people inside his head, each struggling for their fifteen minutes of fame; each believing that they can be prominent.

So in a moment of what he can only describe as lucidity, he realizes that he has to go back. And when he returns it is empty.

Blue light filters into the foyer, cold and harsh. Metal on metal, no longer the bustling, warm house he loathes. Is this an improvement? No. It's unnerving. Almost everyone agrees. He shakes his head.

Up the stairs to the control rooms; the imprint room, the bridge, offices. Something catches his attention. A figure; A woman leaning on the grate, sitting on the ground as if she had been watching the events below for some time and needed to rest but could not take her eyes off of what she had been seeing.

Out of habit and instinct, he turns to see what she had been looking at, but it is only the same room he had just ascended from. Dark, empty, cold. He looks back at the woman, dressed all in white. A flowing dress that makes her look so small. Straight, dark hair falling across her face. Arms holding her head up. Resting.

He recognizes her. Not some part of him, not one of his personalities, but many of them. All of them. He touches his face, drawing his fingers across his forehead, his cheek and his lip. He approaches her, head slightly tilted.

Taking his hand from his face he reaches out to touch her hair. No heat radiates from her body and he panics, drawing his hand back quickly. Sharp intake of breath-the noise echoes in the house. The house he knows so very well. This girl is dead.

God, it's so strange to see her again.

He stands beside her for some time, looking out at the Dollhouse. The two of them facing the same scene, lit only from the cold blue light of the chair in the room to their left. Haunted. He remembers who she is, he recognizes something different about her but cannot fathom what it is.

He remembers small things that grow into stories. Times together away from the house. Times together within the house; though those are hazier. He remembers their introduction. First meeting.

"Alpha, this is your new friend, Whiskey. She's very new here and I'm sure you'll help her to feel comfortable."

Head tilt, "yes, I think we've met before."

"No, Alpha. I don't know that you have. This is a new friend."

"I try to be my best," she spoke softly, words greeted by smiles all around. First words.

Finally, he figures he has to do something. The lighting and emptiness needs to be cured, but the only doctor is lifeless beside him. Did she ever find out who she was? Before Claire? Before Whiskey? Before Rossum?

Would she still have been here if she had?

He doesn't mourn for this woman. He fears the death that lingers within her body, but something about her reminds him of a darker part of himself, so he does not mourn. There are so many dark parts of himself, but her limp figure fills him with guilt. As if he had personally murdered her and left her here alone.

It's not only that. She is incomplete somehow. Something about her is missing. Something important. His hand reaches up to his face again, involuntary actions speaking for what memory cannot.

The scar was a fleck on her porcelain skin. He tried to reach deep but he never got in. Now that he's outside her, he can see all the beauty. She has been repaired from his damage. Something about the fact speaks in great tragedy to him.

He pulls her away from the bars, carries her to the first room he can find with natural light. The blue is too much. He can't bare to see her bathed in blue. He lays her in the sun and turns to the exit, only now noticing a wall of images.


He wonders if there is anyone left who remembers these people. Nothing but time and faces lost in a world without freedom.

He approaches them, glancing at the people. He knows so many of these people. He clutches at his hair and turns away, once again facing the woman on the ground. She looks dead now. At last. Not resting her head on the bars, not resting at all.

Kneeling beside her body for the final time, he looks at her face; his hands hover above her then move back to his head. There was a time when she was what he wanted. He gave what he gave. He's not sorry he knew her. He's not sorry it's over. He's not sorry that he has nothing to say. There's nothing to say.

In those final days he had absorbed everything. He chose to feel it and she couldn't choose. Eventually he evolved and became the monster that had ruined so much; a technical difficulty. A mistake. In her inability to move past the imprints, she became stuck, as one does when they avoid choice. She became permanent. They needed a doctor, she needed to be free from what she knew.

Is she free now?

He has to bring the warmth back to the house, the clean, precise safety of the Dollhouse. Most of him hates the idea, everyone understands that it means safety. He needs to help fix this world, no one should have to live like this.

He may be full of murderers, schizophrenics and sociopaths-lord, so many sociopaths-but he also has the desire for safety, for happiness and for stability. He will fix this place up, return it to what it was, and then work towards destroying everything that is left of it in the world.

Live through this, and he won't look back.