A scream cut through the air.
Now, such a thing was normal, considering his line of work. Those that would be his dolls, crying out in fear, in anger, in pain, very few were quiet when they faced their death. None of them appreciated what he was doing for them. Not one seemed to realize that he was granting them a reprieve from the slow rot their bodies would inevitably suffer, the beauty of youth fading until their natural demise. In a way, he was giving them a kind of immortality, allowing them to remain preserved long after everyone else had met their own demise.
This scream, however, was different, not in the way it sounded, but because of where he was and who was making it. He wasn't in his lab, having already shut it down for the night. Instead, he was waking through one of the many halls of the mansion, the area empty save for a crow that was perched upon a nearby desk. How those things kept getting in, he'd no clue. They were becoming quite the nuisance, however, constantly leaving mess behind. They'd all be gone by now, but it was a bit risky to hire an exterminator, and while he was an expert at capturing humans and certain four legged animals, he'd little skill in snagging creatures that harbored the gift of flight. At the very least, they weren't doing any harm outside of leaving behind feathers and other...unsavory substances.
Without hesitation, he made for the nearby door, and stepped into his daughter's room. She was still screaming, the sound high pitched, panicked. Even in the scarce light cast from the hallway, he could see her thrash and struggle against the bed covers. The doctor was at her side in an instant, yanking away the blanket that had become a terrifying restraint in the throes of whatever dream she'd found herself trapped in.
"Aya." he said, fingers wrapping around one tense arm, shaking it when that alone wasn't enough, "Wake up, Aya."
Her eyes opened, and there was a pause. A moment of silence, thickened by the shrillness that filled the room only seconds before, her staring at him with fear and confusion. "F-father?" she whispered, the single word cracking in her throat.
"I'm here, Aya." he lowered the tone of his voice slightly, adjusting it to be a bit softer, more comforting.
"Father!" his confirmation seemed to be all she needed to fling herself at him, clinging to his lab coat desperately, as if he were her only lifeline, "You're okay! T-there where monsters, a-and I couldn't get away, and, and I could hear you and mother, they were-!"
"Calm yourself." he held her close, cradling his young daughter in his arms, her body trembling severely. There was a wet heat where her face pressed into his chest, prompting him to run his fingers in little circles over her back, "It was only dream. You're safe, you're mother and I are fine."
"I-I was so scared..."
"It's alright now."
"I thought you were going to d-die."
He shifted her so she was sitting on his lap, allowing him to rock her slowly back and fourth. His hand drifted up to run over the line where her neck met her hair, the soft lock tickling his wrist. It was getting a bit long, perhaps he'd have Monika cut it back in the morning. Then again, it would look so lovely if allowed to grow out, would it not?
He pulled away once she stopped crying, just enough so he could look down into her eyes, the striking blue evident despite the darkness. "Are you alright?"
"Yes, father." her words where still shaky, but the tears had ceased, as did the tremors. "I'm...sorry. Did I wake you up?"
"There's nothing to be sorry about, Aya. I was on my way to bed."
She didn't look convinced. He leaned forward and brushed his lips gently against her forehead, "Anything for my beloved daughter."
This time, when he moved back to look at her, she was smiling, "Thank you, father."
"Do you want me to stay here until you fall asleep?"
"No, thank you. I think I'm okay now."
This made his smile as well, she was brave, his Aya. He gave her another kiss, this one at her temple, "Sleep well, then. Come wake either your mother or I if you have another bad dream, understand?"
He lay her back on the bed, gathered the blanket that had been thrown to the floor and tucked her in. With an exchange of 'Goodnight,' he left, closed the door almost silently behind him. He didn't go to his own room right away, however. Instead, he remained close by to check on her once ten minutes had passed. There she was, curled up on one side, eyes closed peacefully. Satisfied that she was indeed alright, he retreated, aiming to go to his own bed where Monika most likely waited, hopefully asleep as well.
It was only a couple more years until the time came that he would transform her into a beautiful doll. In some ways, this saddened him, knowing that she would no longer hold the life she had. But it had to be done, to preserve her, to keep her from becoming as he was. The corruption he held would pass into her, given the time, and this he could not allow.
But, at least for now, he would keep her as happy and well cared for as he could, his dear, his only, little girl.