With My Life
Word Count: 864
Characters/Pairings: Boyd, Echo, OC mentions
Disclaimer: I don't own Dollhouse or its characters. If I did, it would not be facing possible cancellation.
Warning: This is unbeta-ed. But it should be a-okay to read considering English is my first language and all... Nevertheless, even though I reread it, if someone notices a mistake (typo or other), let me know and I'll fix it.
Summary: He had been born to protect. He always felt it inside him, the instinct pulsating with every heartbeat, ready to pounce at every sudden scream and quiet cry heard. -- Some character insight on Boyd with specific mention to the Boyd and Echo forest scene in episode 1x02.
Boyd never had children of his own when he had had his old life (or, rather, shattered pieces of something that had always been a mess; pieces too many to count with no hints on how to fix things – no, no final assembled picture on the box to be had).
But he had been born to protect. He always felt it inside him, the instinct pulsating with every heartbeat, ready to pounce at every sudden scream and quiet cry heard. (Nine years old and he deems himself protector of a stray kitten. He hides it in his room in a broken drawer and feeds it milk that his grandmother gives him for breakfast before she discovers what he's up to and gives the kitten away. Nineteen years old and he spends hours in the emergency room, suffering from a broken wrist for punching his little sister's boyfriend – or the boy with eager hands [but Boyd's fists were more eager]. Twenty-three years old and he falls apart into a glass of scotch [because the metal shield he had carried for so many years had failed him in saving his sister from a car accident. Metal's malleable, he thinks, - like a used car on a slick, wet road – and thinks that maybe he should turn himself into stone instead].)
No matter the occupation, that instinct never leaves him. He became a police officer to shelter others from the perils and terrors of world. Except that sheltering others from harm often came too little, too late (bodies on the floor, twisted and mangled into strange positions; blood, now dry, painted the walls, and tainted everything in its vicinity). The best Boyd could hope for was revenge (or, justice, as his coworkers insisted on calling it). But it just wasn't enough for him.
And so begins his work at the Dollhouse. He doesn't give a damn about the science behind the game of chess, but the people behind the moving pieces. Dewitt and her team's mission appall him, but someone needs to help these people who've been made into children.
He'd look after her for five years. He'd constantly be on her watch, knowing exactly when a danger might approach. One step ahead of the culprit and only a few behind Echo. And in five years, he'd see her become who she really was (a butterfly finally freed from her cocoon) and he'd see her off, and pray that she could put back together the pieces of her life in the way that he had never been able to do with his own.
Everything's going to be all right, Boyd reassures, back against a tree, sweating profusely from pores and bleeding from holes.
Now that you're here. He says it for her in his head, accelerating the process, but she surprises him.
She says: No, it's not.
He pauses, unsure of what to think. Echo shouldn't be programmed to say that. He almost wants to smile (but shock prevents him from doing so); his "child" is on her way to emerging from the cocoon sooner than he thought.
Do you trust me?, the Echo who is not Echo questions of him.
He's near delirium, but he knows that's supposed to be his line. Or maybe not.
He can't leave her inquiry in air. And so he replies: With my life.
In a half-conscious state, he knows she's defended herself, killing the psychopath with the bow and arrow. Echo (or the girl who isn't, but is?) doesn't need protection.
She slowly approaches him, a terrified look in her eyes and lays her head on her chest. Boyd struggles to place his arm around her, his hand nearly resting on her shoulder. (But his hand is soaked in blood and he remembers to keep away from her lest he contaminate her innocence with violence. And, hell, does that even work? After she's just killed a man? Does any of it matter? He just wants to keep her safe, any way possible.)
Boyd didn't think she would be that small or would fit into his hold so perfectly. Her hair is sweaty and messy and it sticks to his own damp T-shirt. Her hands are huddled together under her chin, staying close by to Boyd's chest.
(Does his heart still beat to the rhythm of protection? To some screwed-up version of heroism?)
He closes his eyes (of his own volition, he tries to tell himself) and he feels secure, almost serene, in this moment. He's hurt badly, but he's faced worse from his years on the force. The threat's eliminated and he can hear distant helicopters approaching to aid them.
Echo shifts slightly when she hears them and presses closer to Boyd's chest.
Do you trust me?, the cyclical words replay in his head.
Maybe he was born to offer protection (milk for famished creatures, blows for frightened sisters, gaping injuries for fantasy souls and their zombie counterparts).
But it doesn't mean that he couldn't receive it too.
He feels Echo's small hand on his face, shaking him awake (like a little girl awakening her father on Christmas morning for presents), and he swallows briefly and thinks: With my life.