The first night, Erik is too tired to do more than ascertain where the exits are and work on cataloging the metal around his room. He convinces himself that’s enough training for the day, a day that started in another time zone halfway around the world and ended in a six hour drive in a car stuffed with three teenage boys. He comes up to his room after dinner, too tired, even, for a chess game with Charles, who is equally unsteady on his feet. He takes a shower, he gives a cursory glance around the room, and he changes for bed.
He falls asleep memorizing the layout of the pipes in the walls. He wakes up, refreshed for his morning run, and sees the doll for the first time.
It’s a porcelain recreation of a little girl in a frilly yellow dress. It looks like it’s staring at him, but all dolls stare, don’t they? It’s not as if they can move their eyes. He thinks, distantly, it must be a childhood relic of Raven’s, but past that, he pays it little mind, gets out of bed, and changes into his running clothes.
The sun has just barely risen. Even once he’s finished with his run (looping around the vast estate, memorizing the layout of the house, the entrances and exits, the roads and paths leading into the woods and away that will need further investigation), no one else save Moira is awake, and the word only applies to her on a technicality as she stands at the stove, staring at the coffeepot as it heats. He mutters a vague greeting that she returns with a jerky, distracted wave, and goes back to his room to shower and dress for the day.
He pauses as he’s stripping off his shirt, frowning at the dresser. He was sure the doll was facing the bed this morning. He remembers it staring at him when he woke up, but it’s face isn’t visible from the bed, now.
It’s no matter, he tells himself as he continues to the en suite. He probably moved it himself when he was dressing, without even thinking of it.
He hesitates when he steps out of the shower because now he knows, he knows the doll was facing the door. It certainly wasn’t facing the bathroom. But there it is, it’s tiny, perfectly made-up face staring at him as he steps back into the room to get dressed.
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