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Story Notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
“I knew a girl named Adele, once.” The snick of a lighter, acrid smoke drifting through the small meeting room.

“Oh?” Adelle DeWitt plastered a polite but ultimately disinterested smile on her face. The other woman didn't pay it much mind.

“Yeah. She was a... real piece of work.” Wryness was woven through the response. With something much darker underneath that DeWitt couldn't place. Bitter, like the smoke wafting around her. Whoever this Adele was that her new applicant had known, the association wasn't a good one.

“I see.” DeWitt's smile made way for a more businesslike mein as she leaned forward in her seat, picked up a file folder sitting atop a stack and placed it in front of herself on the table. Opening the folder, she flipped through a few of the loose, printed pages there. “Well, I have your results here, though there's nothing in them that would be of especial interest to you in particular.”

“I am if it means you don't want me.” Definite edge to her words, then. No refusal would be accepted.

“Your results were exemplary,” DeWitt answered honestly, voice gentle as she met the young woman's eyes across the table. Green and dark and sad, the look in them intent. DeWitt's own eyes strayed to the cigarette held negligently between the woman's long, slender fingers for a moment, a prim smile shaping her lips. “Provided you make a few changes to your lifestyle, I see no reason why you wouldn't make a very effective addition to our team.”

“So that's a yes.” Expectant. The tick in her jaw made it clear that she was growing impatient.

DeWitt sighed a little under her breath as she leaned back in her seat, hands folding together in front of her on the tabletop. “You're ... anxious to begin. I understand. However, I can't help but wonder if your situation is one that might be better served by --”

“My situation is my business. I have my reasons for wanting this. You don't need to know what those are.”

“Yes, I understand,” DeWitt replied hesitantly, reaching out to lightly rest her fingertips on the woman's file folder. “Your past was troubled and your present has been more of the same. I'm only suggesting that perhaps, with time...”

“'With time' does nothing for me,” the woman shot back, husky voice regaining that hardness, that edge that was there before just a moment ago. “'With time' doesn't make any of it go away. Not completely. I want it to go away. Entirely. For good. Do you understand?” A huff of dubious laughter. “Can you understand that?”

“I can and I do,” DeWitt reassured her as she sat up straight in her seat again, hands coming to rest atop the papers in the folder. It was obvious that this newest hopeful wouldn't be disuaded, so there was nothing else to do but leave it up to her to make the choice.

Biting her lip, DeWitt reached beneath the folder, pulling out a stapled stack of papers and slid them across the table along with a ballpoint pen. “I think you should know that a great many of the people who come to us do so as a result of being caught in straits quite similar to your own. Here, we give them a purpose. A goal to strive for. We can give you the same life. The same purpose. I hope that it will be of some consolation to you that you will be doing good things in this world, even... afterwards.”

The woman reached out with her free hand, grabbed up the pen and scribbled on the dotted line without even a moment's hesitation. “I just want it out. I want it gone. I want me to be gone.” She took a deep drag off of the cigarette, lips pursing as she exhaled an arrow-thin stream of smoke. “You can do that, right?”

DeWitt leaned over and collected the contract, turning it round in her hands so that she could read the hastily scratched signature there on the topmost page. “We can,” she confirmed, nodding as she looked up and met her eyes, “and we will. That, I can promise you. All of these difficulties will be wiped away and it will be as though you never existed.”

The woman nodded as she set the pen aside, seeming satisfied with that answer. “Good,” she said quietly, eyes no longer focused on DeWitt's face but rather on the ashtray sitting near to her hand. “Good.”

Face creased in a rare display of empathy, DeWitt reached out and placed her hand atop the young woman's, giving it a gentle squeeze. “Welcome to the Dollhouse, Ms. McCutcheon,” she whispered.

“Shane,” she corrected her, giving DeWitt a polite nod of acknowledgment. The glint of uneasiness in her eyes had been replaced with relief, her entire body relaxing, even if just a fraction. She'd got what she came for, after all.

DeWitt forced a smile as she placed the signed contract into Shane McCutcheon's file folder and closed it. Not for much longer, she thought with an inward sigh.
Chapter End Notes:
"Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum
(Whats wrong with me?) Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum
(Why do I feel like this?) Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum
(I'm goin' crazy now) Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum

No more gas, in the rig
(Can't even get started)
Nothing heard, nothing said
(Can't even speak about it)
All my life on my head
(Don't wanna think about it)
Feels like I'm going insane, yeah

It's a theif in the night to come and grab you
It can creep up inside you and consume you
A disease of the mind it can control you
It's too close for comfort

Put on your break lights
You're in the city of wonder
Ain't gon' play nice
Watch out you might just go under
Better think twice
Your train of thought will be altered
So if you must falter be wise

Your minds in disturbia
It's like the darkness is the light
Disturbia
Am I scarin' you tonight
Your minds in disturbia
Ain't used to what you like
Disturbia, disturbia

Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum
Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum
Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum
Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum

Faded pictures on the wall
(It's like they're talkin to me)
Disconnectin' all the calls
(The phone don't even ring)
I gotta get out, oh
Figure this shit out
It's too close for comfort ohh

It's a theif in the night to come and grab you
It can creep on inside you and consume you
A disease of the mind it can control you
I feel like a monster oohh

Put on your break lights
You're in the city of wonder
Ain't gon' play nice
Watch out you might just go under
Better think twice
Your train of thought will be altered
So if you must falter be wise

Your minds in disturbia
It's like the darkness is the light
Disturbia
Am I scarin' you tonight
Your minds in disturbia
Ain't used to what you like
Disturbia, disturbia

Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum
Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum
Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum
(Disturbia) Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum

Release me from this curse I'm in
Tryin' to maintain but I'm struggling
If you can go
Think I'm gonna ahhhh

Put on your break lights
You're in the city of wonder
Ain't gon' play nice
Watch out you might just go under
Better think twice
Your train of thought will be altered
So if you must falter be wise

Your minds in disturbia
It's like the darkness is the light
Disturbia
Am I scarin' you tonight
Your minds in disturbia
Ain't used to what you like
Disturbia, disturbia

Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum
Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum
Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum
(Disturbia) Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum"

- "Disturbia," by Rihanna ('Romeo is Bleeding' theme song)

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