quinara: Sheep on a hillside with a smiley face. (Default)
[personal profile] quinara
I didn’t mean to write this, but it snuck up on me and refused to shut up. There are spoilers for the whole season [STOP READING NOW, UNSPOILED GANG!], but mostly it’s just a doodle begging to be utterly jossed, concerning Topher and Whiskey, with appearances from Ivy and DeWitt. One use of the f-word, minor shippiness on Ivy’s part, but generally inoffensive gen, so PG-13. 1620-ish words.

"But why did you decide it was so important for me to hate you? I think that’s strange."

Warnings: None (separate from the whole Dollhouse concept, so really consent/agency issues)

Glimpses of Ganymede Grey.


When Ivy had said she could take the whole system apart without Topher knowing, she hadn’t been lying. He barely knew anything about it once you got him away from the terminal. Not to say he couldn’t probably do as well as most biomedical engineers, but that wasn’t exactly impressive.

Of course, that was why she'd been hired. But it still didn’t mean she had to like working blind. The notes DeWitt had given her were comprehensive, but they were all written in personal shorthand, a language she couldn't quite fully grasp yet. What she could get was breathtaking, but she needed to know more.

“Who's Ganymede Grey?” she asked, looking up from the wedge schematics. Alpha had smashed far too many.

“Uh...” Topher laughed, nervously. He was kinda cute when he did that. “Who?”

“Ganymede Grey,” Ivy repeated. “She worked here, did what I'm doing.”

He seemed to realise he couldn't get out of it. “Oh, Ganna... Mede.” A nickname – interesting. Not as interesting, though, as him turning away from her back to the big screen. “Yeah, she worked here. Well, not in the working here sense of the... She designed the imprinting machine, the wedges. Kind of a genius.”

“Like you.” She had to say that with irony, even though it was true. He went on an ego trip otherwise.

“Different, but... Yeah.” He looked at her for just a moment, and Ivy caught a glimpse of something sad. And old. Lost love? She couldn't see that somehow. “You remind me of her sometimes.”

Was that a compliment? Alpha must have really shaken him up. “When I get you lunch?”

His laugh was strangled, and she could hear the clatter as he didn't manage to slot a wedge in straight first time. “No. Not then.”

The silence was filled by clicks and beeps; it took a while for Ivy to get up her courage. “What happened to her?”

Topher shrugged, resignation in every line of his hoody. “She wanted the chance to be everyone, to live every life.”


“Now tell me, Mr. Brink, what do you do once the mind has been wiped?”

Topher glanced at Ganna and her chair, trying to avoid the gaze of the imposing British lady. How to explain the inexplicable?

“Well,” he said, gaining a little confidence as Ganna rolled her eyes. They didn't have to take this too seriously; the money had been practically guaranteed, contracts had been signed. “The imprinting process works like the exact reverse of the wipe, only with a personality supplemented by a different, uh, imprint.”

DeWitt, that was her name, was staring at him, not blankly, but kind of threatening. “A computer program?” she asked, crossing her arms and causing her businesswoman bangles to jangle.

“Pretty much.” He ran a finger along one of their white benches, stopping by a sink. Why had they met here again? He missed his wheely chair. “The brain takes key information and fills in the gaps itself; we don't have to write a full bio for these guys, just a character outline.” Ganna coughed and he looked up, remembering he was supposed to be impressive. He span a hand through the air in a pseudo-grandiose way. “And by outline we're obviously talking a detailed, precise balance of neural triggers, gland stimulation... None of which is similar to any program you'd find even if you ran the whole of Silicon Valley through your desktop.” He met Ganna’s eyes, thinking back to the first conversation they’d had, so long ago. “These are people, undiluted personalities contained and mobile. Software undefined by hardware.”

With that DeWitt looked to the ceiling, sighing the sigh of someone lacking comprehension. Score. “And have you tested it?”

That was when Ganna stepped in, bringing the conversation back to her with, he was pretty sure, a mental hi-five sent his way. “Actually, we were gonna talk to you about that...”


When Ganymede woke up, her face hurt. That was strange. Maybe it was a nerve backlash from the wipe, but that made no sense whatsoever. And there was no way she’d made a mistake that huge.

Besides, looking round the room, it was clear she wasn't in the Santa Clara lab anymore.

She sat up, coming face to face with DeWitt, the harsh lines of whose suit (different colour, but the cut was the same) were much more in-keeping with the honey wood-grain than the chrome and plastic Ganymede remembered. The woman looked older, a little weary, but that was only to be expected.

It was funny though, because it didn't feel like a decade had passed. “Did Topher mess up?” she asked, joking.

“No,” DeWitt replied, impassive as always. It was slightly worrying, but Ganymede never had managed to get a straight answer out that that woman.

“Well, where is he?” There had to be so much to catch up – like where the frell this swanky new lab had come from. Was that a gum ball machine? “And could I get a juice box? My throat feels kinda hoarse.”

Right on cue Topher came in through the door, juice box in hand; she grinned but it only made her face hurt more. He wouldn't meet her eyes, completely ignoring her cupped hands' invitation to throw the juice to her. Instead he placed it adroitly on her fingers, ducking his head as he stepped back to stand by DeWitt.

She popped the straw automatically and slurped on the processed-apple-goodness, trying to figure Topher out. He'd aged, what, maybe five years tops? They'd known each other since freshman year; she was pretty sure she could figure out his age. It didn’t explain why he wouldn't look at her.

“Ganymede,” DeWitt continued, something oddly like sympathy, or pity in her eyes. “As I'm sure you can see, the programme is going well.”

“The shiny's pretty vocal.” It really was nice in here, apart from one of the keyboards, which looked like it had been smashed by a book or something. “Hey!” A thought came to her. How could she forget? “What's my prime self like? What did you call her?” Ow. “And why does my face feel like it's sunburned?” The juice was really good – they must have upped the fruit content when she'd been asleep.

“Whiskey,” Topher murmured. “We called her Whiskey.”

“Awesome!” That was cool. “Using the NATO phonetic, right?” If they'd gone with liquor she really needed to reassess Rossum.

“Topher made us aware it was your preferred choice.” DeWitt looked away, and with that Ganymede decided it was probably time to start worrying. Though, still, points to Topher for remembering that conversation. Not that she'd forgotten he liked Bravo.

The silence continued. “What is it?” she asked at last, starting to feel the scantiness of her spa clothes. There was a reason she didn't wear vest tops.

“Ganymede.” DeWitt sighed and it sounded like the end of the world. “Whiskey was – you were our most popular active.”

“It's 'cause I'm bi, right?” Even though she wanted answers, it seemed important to keep DeWitt from continuing, no matter that it hurt her face to talk. “I told you there's some stuff you can't programme...”

“You were a very attractive young woman.” The briefest smile lit across DeWitt's face. “And I wouldn't be surprised if Topher didn't try that little bit harder with your imprints.”

OK, stop. “What do you mean 'were'?” On instinct (and why had that taken so long?) Ganymede reached a hand up to her face, ghosting fingers to the points of pain. That was when she felt it: the raised skin, the sutures. Long cuts marred her cheek and forehead; the realisation brought tears to her eyes. “Get me a mirror.”

Topher was gone and back in a second, but still not raising his head as he tried to hand her the mirror. She stared at it for a moment, then made a decision, seizing his wrist instead. “Look at me,” she demanded.

It didn’t matter what she looked like; that she could guess. What mattered was the reflection she could see in Topher’s eyes, in his sorrow and his pity. Somewhere along the line she'd become a pretty face to him, never mind that he had always been different, that he’d accepted when she owned his ass at Halo. She'd become a pretty face, and that face was ruined.

“I'm sorry, Ganna,” he said, and it felt like a betrayal. This was the one thing she'd never thought would happen. Didn’t he see that she could be herself in any body? That this body could be any person? That it didn’t define her? Who the fuck cared that she was 'pretty'? That was the whole point.

Shoving him away she rocked out of the chair to her feet. DeWitt didn't let her get far, but Ganymede wasn't surprised, stopping with the briefest touch to her shoulder. “Are you kicking me off the programme?” she asked, hardly able to believe the words coming from her mouth. This was her programme, her baby, her dream. Topher was doing the legwork, having his fun with personality builds, but she had pioneered the technique. She was doing this, no matter what it lost her.

At least DeWitt was calm once more, looking at her like a rational human being. “Not at all,” she said. “I simply wanted to talk about extending your contract.” She smiled and Ganymede felt like crying. “We just recently had a staff vacancy open up.”

Ganymede took one more look around the lab, hating all of it. She wanted her body back with the actives, away from where she was. “Tell me.”

(no subject)

Date: 24/05/2009 15:20 (UTC)
stultiloquentia: Campbells condensed primordial soup (Default)
From: [personal profile] stultiloquentia
Whoa. That's amazing. Ganymede feels fully developed to me, even in just 1000 words -- which is a rather effective little bit of metastory, right there.

DeWitt, the harsh lines of whose suit (different colour, but the cut was the same)

Hah, sly.

“The shiny's pretty vocal.”

That is such a Joss line.

“It's 'cause I'm bi, right?”

Nice throwaway character detail.

If they'd gone with liquor she really needed to reassess Rossum.


Am reccing.

(no subject)

Date: 24/05/2009 20:31 (UTC)
syderia: lotus Syderia (Default)
From: [personal profile] syderia
Great little snippet !

Ganymede does feel very real.


quinara: Sheep on a hillside with a smiley face. (Default)

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