"This one isn't everyone"

"I'm sorry you had to see me like that. I never wanted you to know that side of me. I wanted," a drop of blood slides down her perfect teeth, "I wanted to keep you safe."

This isn't when the doll found her in the woods, covered in stolen blood. This is some time after.

She's cleaned up, mostly, freshly showered. Her still-wet mane looks faintly depressed with so much of its volume gone. It smells good, though, like a tropical vacation that she's never had the money to have.

"Just ... say something, please? Don't make me wait."

The doll's sitting on the carpet, arms wrapped around its legs, gently rocking. She knows it well enough to know that it's thinking, and she can't help but see the flames that devoured every relationship she's ever had burning in its eyes.

Any moment now, surely—

It hugs her.

"It's just happy that it finally saw this side of you! And even," the doll's arms squeeze tighter around her, "even if you're ashamed of it it's still part of you." It stares up at her, eyes big and guileless. "This one wants to know every part of you. Every last one!"

"I understand, I'll leave—" It takes a moment for her to process what the doll said. Her brain grinds to a halt and she makes the stupidest noise it's ever heard her make, a dumbfounded little "whaa?" that brings a happy little smile to its face.

"This one loves you, silly! It's not going to leave just because you go hunting from time to time."

"B-but, everyone always does ..."

"Well, this one isn't everyone. So stop worrying that it will act like people do! Just tell it what your hunt was like!"

She stammers, stutters, struggles to catch up to the new world she's (apparently, against all odds) living in. In the end she gives in: her doll's face is too genuine and curious to do anything else.

"Well, uh, I think I caught a hiker? Maybe?"

"Ooo! Was that hard?"

"No, not at all, I just ..."

The doll doesn't let go of her as it carefully teases the story out of her, nor as she haltingly tells it about how her condition has hurt her, about how she's hated it—it just listens, and hugs her, and gives her all the reassurance she needs.

Nor does it let go of her once all their words dry up and they're both just sitting there, as she contemplates how lucky she is to have met it and it thinks its own dollish thoughts (about tea, and how to care for werewolves, and whether it needs new insurance).

It's not enough; a few hours of contact can't unravel a lifetime of fearful self-hatred, no matter how hard the doll tries nor how desperately she wishes for that.

But it's a start.

And that's enough.