When she's less than an hour old, she knows that she knows everything. She could tell the doctor who comes passing by, barely seeing her, that no matter what he does, it's not going to make any difference for the woman who gave birth to her (her mother). She could tell him so in three-hundred-and-twenty-six different languages, dialects not included, half of which haven't been spoken by anyone for over a thousand years. To the nurses who hover around her, whispering about 'the poor little thing' (that's her) and 'the poor woman' (that's her mother) when they're not speculating about who, where and what sort her father might be, that he's not here, she could have said not to waste their pity.
She's got half a mind to do so - it's hard enough to handle her new environment without a bunch of women making nuisances of themselves, talking about nothing that's of any interest to her.
Unfortunately - but predictably enough, she supposes, upon reflection - this body her mind is dwelling in is fairly limited in its ability to interact with other people. Extremely limited, in fact.
And so, when she first meets Kincaid, she's crying like any typical newborn baby, feeling embarrassed and frustrated, and a lot less happy with the prospect of getting out of the hospital than she'd expected, because if she keeps acting like a typical baby, everyone's going to treat her like one, and she's not at all sure if she will be able to stand that.
"You are the father?" the doctor asks. She can tell he's a little afraid of Kincaid, but he hides it behind his sense of moral superiority, his disapproval of Kincaid only showing up after the birth.
"No," says Kincaid.
The doctor's professional smile slips a bit. "Family, then? It's just that I need to fill out this form, see - I mean, of course, I understand that this must be a difficult time for you, and I assure you we'll make every effort to ... " His voice trails off uncertainly as Kincaid looks at him.
"No," Kincaid says, again.
The doctor says nothing after that, swallowing once and leaving rather abruptly. Kincaid carries her out into the world, explaining that he thought it best to wait with buying a buggy until after she'd be there to help him choose one, besides of which he wasn't sure if she wanted to prolong his contract.
She hopes he understands that when she stops crying, it's her way of saying 'thanks'.
When she's five years old, she's read more books than most people read during a lifetime. She's subscribed to more magazines than most libraries - the subscription's on Kincaid's name, of course, because it's easier to pretend they're for him than to fabricate a grown-up woman out of nothing. Kincaid's identity is fabriated, too, of course, but Kincaid himself is real enough, and occasionally, he even reads some of the magazines, when an article catches his interest.
He doesn't know everything - he's not like her. He's not dumb though, and he knows what she is as well as what she can do; that's enough. That, and his efficiency.
None of the people who try to kill her for what she is come even close enough to see her, although once, she hears an explosion and some of the magazines she expected to arrive that day only show up the day after that. It's a small inconvenience, nothing more.
When she's seven years old, she meets the person who will change the rest of her life, make her different from those who came before her, a long row of women without names. She's known about people like him for seven years, knows there are or have been at least two-hundred different breeds of his kind, with different colouring and hair-length. She knows what the whiskers are for.
Knowing about something equals understanding it, and yet she feels like she's been missing something, somehow, like someone who's read a text but skipped the footnotes - a small, near-unnoticable gap in her knowledge, that's only come to light because someone else brought it to her attention.
It feels nice to stroke his fur.
It sounds nice to hear him purr.
There's more to cats than the sum of all facts about them, she realizes, and so maybe, possibly, potentially, there's more to being the Archive than being the repository of all knowledge.
"Do you want me to call you 'Ivy' from now on?" Kincaid asks, when he drives her to the airport. (Less than ten years from now, she'll be tall enough to reach the pedals.)
"No," she says, Ivy says, but what she's thinking is: maybe. "I want to get a kitty."
"You want me to steal Dresden's cat?" Kincaid sounds a little amused - not the way some adults may be when a child says something child-like, but closer than he's ever come. Ivy doesn't quite like that, only she doesn't know what she could do about it, except end his contract, and that would mean hiring someone else, someone who won't be as good at his job as Kincaid is.
"Of course not." Ivy snorts. Kincaid offers her his version of a smile - as a bit of an apology, perhaps.
"Petshop, pound or notes at the supermarket?" Kincaid asks.
Ivy considers. "Pound," she decides at last. "I think I want to practice with one first, before I get a whole litter of them."
Kincaid nods - if the prospect of taking care of a litter of kittens bothers him at all, he hides it well.
Ivy's mother died when she was twenty-nine. The cat Kincaid gets from the pound is unlikely to live even half that long. Ivy has always known these things, these facts, and she used to think she understood them, too, understood about life and death and what it means being the Archive.
Her mother didn't have Kincaid to protect her; she had someone else, whose name and face Ivy has forgotten - the information seemed unimportant at the time, of little interest. It might have been her father, she thinks. He might be dead, as dead as her mother, only without his body still lingering, putting on a pretense of being alive. (Sometimes, Ivy wonders if it's really all a pretense, if a part of her mother isn't still hanging around, forced to stay in that hospital-room, unable to move or read or do anything - it frightens her, that idea, and yet, at the same time, it comforts her to think that her mother is still there, aware of Ivy visiting her.) Once Ivy's old enough to be considered an adult, she knows, the hospital will ask her if she wants them to let her mother's body die - she's the only next-of-kin there is, and she's more than rich enough to pay the bills. She thinks she'll say 'yes'.
She might say 'no', though. After all, there's no way she can ever know for sure that her mother's not there anymore; Ivy knows she knows everything her mother knew, and her mother knew everything Ivy's grandmother knew, and so on, but knowledge isn't the same as life - Ivy doesn't know anything about the kind of person her mother was, what she liked to eat, what music she listened to - none of the things that made her mother different from the one who came before her.
When Ivy's eight, she knows that she doesn't want to die at the age of twenty-nine, or at any other age, really. She doesn't want the part of her that's 'Ivy' to get left behind in an empty vessel, while the rest of her gets passed on to someone else, some stranger.
"I'm never, ever going to have sex," Ivy tells Kincaid.
Kincaid blinks, once, but she sees he files her words away, will remember them for later, when she won't be an eight-year-old anymore.
"I think I'd like to go on a little vacation," he says.