Just

Disclaimer: Not mine.

Author notes: Extra scene during episode two, "The Target," immediately after the men in black are shown rushing in with guns to see to the Alpha massacre.

He didn't know how they were supposed to cover this up, how they were supposed to recover from this… he didn't even know what had happened. Well, he knew /what/ had happened… it had been Alpha. Alpha had flipped out, started slicing and dicing everyone around him in a matter of eight seconds… he knew all too well what had happened, could see the gory evidence all around him in this very moment. What he didn't know- what he didn't understand- was why.

This never should have happened… Alpha should have been blank, should have been wiped of all traces of the personality he had implanted him with earlier. He /had/ been wiped- Topher had done this himself, been sure of it. Alpha had not retained any piece of his engagement personality, he /knew/ he hadn't.

But then what the hell had happened… why was there now a room full of mutilated bodies, dead by Alpha's hand? Why was he escaped, fleeing and succeeding in getting away as an active in wiped state never could?

And now he was out there, out on the streets, out in public… there was no telling what state he was in now, what else he might do. What if he just kept killing people- what if they couldn't find him? A whole team of people assembled just for him, to find him and kill him, and yet still as of now he eluded them…

Topher found himself realizing vaguely that his hands were shaking, his eyes hot as he blinked rapidly, licking his lips with nervous shock and even fear, a feeling usually foreign to him. It seemed so surreal to him in that moment… how could any of this really be happening, how could things have gone so wrong? Scattered about him were bloodied bodies, pushing past on all sides of him the gun-carrying men Adelle had called to search for Alpha… never would Topher have imagined that there would come a time that guns were needed in the Dollhouse, especially against one of the Dolls. But then again, he would never have thought that one of the Dolls- one of his dolls- could do something like this.

The smell of the blood was overpowering, thickly sweet and strong, and Topher felt almost light headed as his eyes shifted about the lobby in a daze. He still had Claire's blood spattered across his shirt…he had tried to help her, alerted her living-but-just-barely state to another doctor, who had taken her away. He did not yet know if she would survive for the long haul. Out of all who had been present during Alpha's attack, Claire was the only one who had survived…

Claire and Echo.

He didn't know how or why Echo was alive, was totally physically unharmed, why Alpha had avoided attacking her and her alone. He had only seen that she was standing in the midst of the blood-streaked corpses, naked, stained with blood, her face a frozen display of vulnerability and incomprehension…and that she was alive. And that in and of itself was unbelieveable… really even somewhat mind-blowing.

Echo was one of their best, most frequently requested actives… if something had happened to her, they'd be losing business from a lot of regular customers. As if Topher didn't already have enough of his ass on the line here… if Echo had been lost too…

What if he lost his job over this- what if they thought he was to blame for what had happened with Alpha? He /wasn't/…he couldn't be…he had wiped him entirely, he /knew/ he had. But Adelle might not see it that way… Adelle…

"Topher," a voice called sharply at his elbow, and Topher jumped, his eyes darting to see the very woman he'd been thinking of regarding him with tensed features and slightly narrowed eyes. She spoke tersely, her eyes not on him, but on the scene before them, the black-clad men still almost jogging through. "Take Echo into the medical room and get her clothing, clean her up… and when you are finished with her, send her to bed with the other actives."

His eyes moving rapidly from Adelle to Echo back to Adelle, Topher nodded somewhat jerkily, swallowing.

"Right…"

Normally- not that this situation was in any way normal- it would be Dr. Saunders who would care for a Doll in such a way….certainly not himself, and certainly not with a female active. But both Claire Saunders and Echo's handler Samuelson were unable to do so now… and with the chaos going on here…

Nodding slowly again, trying to shake himself out of his dazed, rapid thoughts, Topher began to make his way slowly over towards where Echo still stood seemingly paralyzed in the horrifically altered shower. She was very still, her eyes wide, lips slightly parted, as she turned her head slightly, taking everything in.

Seeing a towel on the floor with minimum blood stains, Topher snatched it up with still shaking hands. As he drew closer to her, entirely too aware that he was walking through the bodies, occasionally stepping in their blood, he held it out to Echo. He tried not to look below her shoulders, though why, he wasn't exactly sure. It wasn't like he'd never seen her naked before, and it definitely had never occurred to him not to look- and he definitely hadn't wanted not to look. But in this scenario… it somehow seemed…well, not wrong exactly, there was nothing wrong with it. But just something he felt she shouldn't do… maybe because of all the blood, or because he was standing in blood, whatever the case, he kept his eyes on her face.

"Hello, Echo," he said to her, trying to force his voice to sound calm, even soothing, and still hearing its unsteadiness. "Wrap this around you, and then come follow me to the medical room."

Echo turned her eyes to meet his, her expression not changing. She took the towel from him, but she just held it, her lips still parted.

"They won't wake up," she whispered, her voice childlike, bewildered, her eyes looking to him pleadingly for answers. "They won't wake up…"

Inwardly Topher squirmed- not at her expression, but at her words, their inadvertent impact on his suspended unbelief. He took her arm somewhat more jerkily than he normally would, he noticed distractedly that Echo did not so much as blink at his touch. Rather she turned her eyes to him slowly, regarding him. Topher tried to smile at her, feeling it die out at the corner of his mouth.

"Come now…follow me, Echo…"

Echo looked down at the towel in her hands, almost as though she were seeing it for the first time. She wrapped it around herself with a careful precision, mostly covering her nakedness, but as she stepped after Topher, her eyes were still lingering on the disturbing view she was walking away from. Her features were loose, her forehead faintly lined, and the soft childlike lack of understanding in her eyes made her seem almost as unreal to Topher as the entire situation.

Tightening his hand around her arm, not very comfortable with touching her right then but knowing there would be hell to pay from Adelle if he didn't, Topher led her from the gore-splattered shower, trying his best to look only straight ahead or at her, to avoid seeing what Alpha had left in his wake. He still felt shaky inside, sickened, from anxiety as well as revulsion. How could this have gone wrong… how…

What if Alpha had already exposed them…what if everyone and their mother knew about the Dollhouse now? It wouldn't be just his ass becoming grass then… it would be everyone's. How had this failed?! His system- his creation, his utter genius- had never backfired like this before. This was outrageous- this was-

How had Alpha retained the personality he had implanted him with? Or had he? What if he had reverted to the person he had been before he was a Doll? That was supposed to be impossible… but dammit, so was THIS! If that had happened… if Alpha now carried his original personality- then they were all in even more trouble than he had first imagined…

Taking Echo into Dr. Saunders's medical room, Topher cringed as the visual of her ruined face, her blood-soaked clothes rapidly staining his own, flashed into his mind. It was probably a good thing if she did die… how would she like living with a face as severely disfigured as hers would be? Would any of it be salvageable at all?

"Sit down, Echo," Topher directed to the woman just behind him, still struggling to keep a semblance of neutrality in his voice. He touched the reclining bench/table where Claire examined the Dolls, indicating for Echo to come onto it even as his eyes flitted around the room, looking for a paper towel or something of the like. Seeing some to the left side of the room, he abruptly went to get them, not entirely sure if they would be of use yet. Did she need stitches- was she hurt at all? It looked like she had been cut on the cheek- Adelle didn't' expect him to try to stitch her up, did she?

Echo sat with painstaking slowness, not lying down as she normally would. Topher deliberately kept his back to her for longer than was necessary as he fumbled through Claire's supplies to find band-aids and disinfectant; nevertheless he could feel Echo's gaze on him. And what was with that anyway?

"They wouldn't wake up," she said once more, her voice very small, soft. She seemed to be in her own way asking Topher for an explanation, or at least for reassurance… neither which he felt capable of giving honestly.

"They'll be fine, Echo," he told her none too convincingly, which did nothing to soothe her slightly scrunched brow, her stunned appearance.

Drawing near to her somewhat reluctantly, Topher began to examine her face. By focusing on only this, he could almost block out all other thoughts. She had two slightly bloody scrapes on her face, but they were neither deep nor serious. She also had a good bit of blood on her chest and arms, but it was not her own. It looked to Topher as if she had been merely standing in close range during the massacre.

And to use a word like 'merely' in the midst of such a sentence did not escape Topher's notice of the irony. Trying once more to shove those persistent thoughts away from him, he touched Echo's cheek gingerly. Very faintly she winced.

"Ouch…"

"Just hold still, here, Echo… I'll just get you cleaned up…" he muttered.

Reaching for the paper towel that would come in handy after all, Topher went to the sink and wet it. Returning to stand before Echo, he began to wipe at the blood on her chest and arms quickly but not roughly, trying his damnest not to remember how it had gotten there. Still wrapped in her towel- and damn, he'd forgotten to get her clothes from somewhere, get her to dress- Echo continued to regard him with the wide, doe-like eyes that unsettled him now in a way they never had before.

"I hurt," she said softly, her words still small, barely audible, and Topher, who was now gently wiping the cuts on her face, paused.

"Yes, I know… we, we're gonna take care of you, Echo," he replied somewhat unevenly, wondering to himself just why he was saying 'we' instead of 'I'. "Your face got hurt, and we're going to make it feel better."

He gentled his touch on her cuts slightly, but Echo tilted her head, pulling back from his hand. Blinking, she shook her head, her lips parting slightly before she spoke again.

"No…I hurt inside…I hurt…here."

She lifted her right hand slowly, placing it against her heart. As she lifted her eyes to Topher's again, she seemed to be trying to make him understand, trying to see if he could help.

Topher stared at her, his hand freezing against her cheek… how could she be saying that? She was wiped… she was just a Doll. She didn't' have emotions, not in the real sense anyway.

He was probably seeing too much into this. She'd probably got hit in the chest or something… she couldn't mean she hurt emotionally. As a Doll, she didn't even have the words or knowledge to express that.

"We'll take care of you," he said instead, and as he continued to tend to her small cuts, Echo watched him gravely, trusting that he was telling her the truth. And yet still Topher was shaken.

She was just a /Doll/…

But then, hadn't that been what they'd said about Alpha?