Almost

Author notes: Not mine, any of them.

At first, she was really nothing more to him than what he had already been informed of. He looked at her and saw a person who had become nothing, a person who was not a person anymore at all. His charge- the woman- no, the thing- he had been assigned to protect was indeed an animated doll, hardly more than a robot… specifically, one of those Stepford wives from the Roman Polanski film. He certainly did not think of her as a human being. If anything, her guileless smiles and odd, docile way of speaking, her lack of emotion, opinion, or understanding while in her "wiped" state, and the disconcertingly easy shifts she made into new personalities she fully believed to be her own only unsettled him further. Boyd Langdon looked upon his work with distaste, and in extension, saw his charge Echo as something less than human.

But somehow, very slowly, he was finding that this view was slipping, that the slender, delicate figure he protected, watched out for through each of her engagements, was in fact beginning to leave her mark on him, to gradually soften his views of her… and then to shift them completely.

Where Boyd had once looked at the innocence in Echo's soft brown gaze, the total trust for him that had been programmed into her, and wanted to look away in discomfort, he was now oddly drawn to the naïve serenity they held, bolstered by the complete confidence she had in him. Where he once saw blankness and unnaturalness in her movements, speech, and expressions, he had now come to think of it as purity, a soul unsullied now by the stress and evils of the world- a soul who was unaware of it, transcended it. When Echo turned trusting, gently peaceful dark eyes in his direction, subconsciously positioned herself close to his side, and occasionally touched him with hands innocently seeking his approval of her, Boyd now felt intensely protective of her, even affectionate… and there was no longer even any reluctance to it.

Somehow the tables had turned; he had slipped into a mindset regarding his charge that he never would have even considered possible before. He cared for Echo now, was fond of her with a depth that almost worried him at times. He would protect her now not only because it was his job, but also because he wanted and felt a need to, because he wanted and needed to keep her from harm. In an odd way he supposed he loved her… he was not quite old enough to be her father, but he looked upon her rather like a father would his young daughter.

Echo trusted him with her life… it had been programmed into her to feel this way, and though it was an artificial trust, Boyd couldn't help but feel that it was also becoming genuine. He did know that despite his initial reservations, despite her seeming helplessness and naivety when in her wiped state, he trusted his life with her as well.

It was a nice progression of thought and emotion, one he was more than happy with now… at least for as long as he forgot that there had once been more to Echo than the woman he knew. As long as he didn't recall that Echo was nearly as much of a creation, a persona, as any one of her identities, it almost seemed okay now.