aaronlisa: (DH: Just an echo)
[personal profile] aaronlisa posting in [community profile] big_damn_fest
Title: The Last Day of 2019 (or On the Edge of the Abyss)
Author: [personal profile] aaronlisa
Fandom: Dollhouse
Pairing/Characters: Mag, Zone, Whiskey, Echo, Paul Ballard, Alpha
Rating: FR13 (there's some swearing in the story)
Disclaimer: Dollhouse belongs to Joss Whedon and company
Notes: Written for [community profile] big_damn_fest.
Summary: A series of vignettes (much like the episodes) about the last day of 2019 in an post-apocalyptic world.
Word Count: 1098

There is a part of him that wants to die. He's reckless to the point of destruction, yet he somehow manages to keep avoiding fate. He keeps tempting it with no success. Destiny's a bitch and he's not sure why he keeps going when everything that he ever held dear has been ripped away from him. Yet there's a part of him that does his best to keep the others alive. (A large part of him recognizes that he's failing since he can't even get them underground without having to stop and put a bullet in someone's head. No matter how casual he says it, it still makes him sick.)

Is a dumbshow really someone? Should they try to protect the dumbshows just in case a miracle happens? And how the fuck does Mag even have tears left in her to cry? What's left in her or Lyn or Griff that lets them still feel? He's stopped feeling the minute his world disintegrated with a phone call. Nothing left to live for but he's still kicking.

* * *

They're not the ones she's been waiting for. More accurately none of them are the man that she's been waiting to return to save her. But she knows that she can guide them to where they need to be. It's a shame that they can't see what's right in front of them. It's a shame that they can't recognize the Judas in their midst. But she can show them, she can teach them and then give the survivors the map to sanctuary.

* * *

Mag feels like a lot like Alice, constantly falling down the rabbit hole. Everything's wrong. She should be used to this new, crazy world that's on fire, she should be used to Zone's carelessness and used to the fact that people aren't themselves in the blink of an eye.

Out of all them, she wishes she can be like Zone. She wishes that she can be strong like him. she wishes that she just didn't care anymore when someone else became an empty shell. She wishes that when she saw the butchers (and even she was fighting them) that she wouldn't be overcome with guilt about the fact that she killed someone. Even without their personality, the butchers used to be someone.

What's worse is that she feels more alive now than she ever did before. Maybe it's because she can taste death on her tongue with every breath that she takes. Yet somehow she knows that it's wrong. None of them stop to mourn those that they've lost on the way. There's just not enough time. In the blink of an eye it could be her that's just gone.

The tears that come as she waits for the others feel unclean. She should be alert and prepared instead of blubbering over what's done.

What's done is done and she can't ever go back. None of them can. Mag will never be that girl in college anymore. Who she is (and what she's desperate to keep) isn't really that important anymore. Survival has become crucial but meaningless.

* * *

He finds her body as 2019 fades away into 2020. She's just one more body in an open mass grave. It shouldn't really matter. After all, he'd never really cared for her like he had cared about Echo but Whiskey had meant something to him.

Her body is the only one that he prepares for the final end. There's no one to say prayers for her or to sing hymns over her body with tears in their eyes. But he takes care as he washes her body before he cremates her. He's gentle as he handles her body, it's almost as if Whiskey is only sleeping.

She's gone (long gone truth be told), but whether she was just an echo of a blank doll or something more than that, doesn't matter in the end. He owes her one final dignity when he robbed her of so much.

* * *

Zone only agrees to the wild goose chase because it means something to Mag. Aside from the kid, Mag is all that he has left now. It's not much but he's realized that he really doesn't want to die. Not when there's a chance (a fucking slim one at that) that they can find a place away from the insanity that Los Angeles has become. And even if he'll never admit that to Mag, Zone figures that someone has to save her.

(Deep down inside, he just wants to be like her. He wants to be able to feel something again.)

So he follows her out of Hell in search of a paradise that he's pretty sure doesn't exist.

* * *

There's a quiet celebration in Safe Haven. Paul watches Echo as she watches from the outside looking in as the others celebrate another year where they've survived. He's still her handler in far too many ways that they never speak of. The fact that they've survived another year really means nothing to either of them, not with the threat hanging over their heads. It's worse for her because of all the ghosts that haunt her.

Paul doubts that they'll ever manage to bring the tech down. All they've got now is Echo, a few tech heads and the idea of Topher. Rosssum is the mythical hydra come to life. Every time that Echo beheads it, another head springs forward. They have the resources of countless dumbshows that they can imprint with their key personalities. Long after he's dead, long after Echo's dead, Rossum will be scrabbling about trying to control what it can in the ruins.

* * *

It feels strange to be herself and trapped in another body. It's harder to access the imprints but she's still herself. She wonders about the kid who was the original owner of her new body. She wonders if she'll ever be able to free the kid or is the girl as lost to her as Claire is or even as Caroline is.

Echo can joke all she wants about re-doing puberty over again but the reality is that she's just a thief. She's no better than Rossum, no better than Boyd. It doesn't matter that the rightful owner was evicted long before Echo came to be in this body;

She sighs as Zone fires up the jeep. Pandora's box has been opened again but she doubts that there's anything left for her (and her real self) to scrape out to make things better.


Author's Note: It always surprises me that the first of the two Epitaph episodes takes place in 2019 and the second in 2020 when I've always gotten the distinct impression that not much that time has passed between the two episodes.

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