The Target – Trust

Topher was right. This new Treatment didn't pinch. Not at all. In fact, Echo felt cozy. Cozy and warm. She felt like curling up and going to sleep, but she knew that this was not the room for sleeping. Everything had taken on a faint tinge of purple that made everything look soft and bright.

She became aware that someone had taken her hand. That had never happened before, had it? She did not remember anyone ever touching her while she was in this chair. Echo looked up, to see the man that she did not recognize. The tall man. The man she liked. And he was holding her hand. It felt…nice. Comforting. Safe.

"Everything's going to be all right," he said softly.

Of course it was. How could anything go wrong? He was here now, this man who was so tall and so very nice. How could anything go wrong while he was here with her? What a silly thing to say. It was so obvious, after all. He would protect her, wouldn't he? Of course everything was going to be all right.

"Now that you're here," she found herself replying.

Her reply seemed to startle him…Echo couldn't think why…and he seemed to struggle for what to say next. Echo herself didn't know what else there was to say…everything was going to be all right, and that was all that mattered. What else was there to say?

Finally, however, this man-she-liked-so-much took a deep breath and spoke again.

"Do you trust me?"

What a silly question! Why would he ask such a thing? Unless he was testing her? Echo was often asked questions she didn't know the answer to…but this, this answer was easy. This answer was simple. So obvious. Here was a test she could answer correctly.

"With my life."

And Echo let herself drift away on the soft purple light, aware only of the soft grip the man had on her fingers, feeling only contentment at the pure, undeniable promise of safety. Everything would be all right…

An arrow in the side. Boyd had gotten a lot of things shot at him in his time as a cop…bullets, rotten food, furniture, and in some special cases dead bodies. But he'd never actually gotten shot with an arrow before.

It was a lot more painful than he would have expected.

He'd been shot several hours ago, yet the hole in his side still throbbed with pain. Claire had done a quick and efficient job of bandaging him up, and now he lay on the table in her lab, trying to catch his breath. The good doctor currently had her back to him, as she searched through her cabinets going over pain medicine to finish the job.

There was no denying that it had been an…interesting day. Echo's "date" had proven to be a homicidal maniac. Unfortunately, he'd been a homicidal maniac who knew enough about the Dollhouse to try and keep Echo's handler out of the mix…and clean up after himself when that attempt failed. Evidence had surfaced that the infamous Alpha had been involved somewhere. And he, Boyd, had gotten shot with a very large, very sharp arrow when he'd tried to do his job and get Echo out.

By rights, they both should have died today. Echo had been outmatched and exhausted. Boyd had been bleeding and exhausted. And when he'd tried to at least calm her down by using the "script" Topher had given him…it hadn't worked.

Boyd couldn't help but feel a bit giddy at that knowledge. He actually smiled as he replayed the scene in his mind. He'd told her everything was going to be all right and she hadn't believed him! Not only had she not believed him, she'd been so determined to save her own life…and his, thankfully…that she'd flipped the script around!

"Do you trust me?" she'd demanded, wild-eyed and desperate and still very sick. Yet there had been a steely determination in her eyes that Boyd had been quite certain had not been included in her imprint. It had not been Echo-imprinted-as-Jenny staring at him in that moment. It had been an ordinary young woman, willing to fight tooth and nail to escape with her life.

And, suddenly, Boyd had know that there was only one answer.

"With my life. Do you know how to use this?"

"Four brothers. None of 'em Democrats."

"Sure sign of blood loss," said Claire, laying a hand on his arm and jolting him out of his hazy reverie. "You're tense as a spring. In my professional opinion, Mr. Langton, your adrenaline's working so hard it'll need a vacation soon. Hopefully this will settle you down."

She produced a syringe. After applying rubbing alcohol to a spot on his arm, she carefully inserted it under his skin and injected him. "This will put you under for a while. I'll get you started on a transfusion, and see how you're doing in a couple of hours."

Boyd nodded. "Being a Handler…" he murmured, as the anesthesia started to take effect. "…sure has its ups and downs, doesn't it? One day the most dangerous thing she faces is a motorcycle crash, and the next…"

"I know," said Claire, easing out the empty needle. "Believe me. I know. Sweet dreams, Mr. Langton. I'll give you a lecture on how much of an idiot you were once we get your blood count elevated."

He nodded in reply, as the drugs made his body feel slow and heavy. Claire smiled thinly at him before turning away and beginning her preparations.

But she had barely moved out of his field of vision, before another head of dark brown hair inched its way into it. Boyd suddenly found himself staring up at Echo. The Active's expression was one of faintly concerned confusion.

"…are you sick?" she finally asked, after seemingly exhausting all other possibilities.

Boyd tried to smile at her. He wasn't sure how successful he was, because the concern on Echo's face intensified. "I'll be all right."

Echo did not look convinced. Carefully, she sat down on the few inches of table that were not occupied by his body. "When I feel bad…" she suggested tentatively. "…I like to go swimming."

"Maybe later, Echo."

"Or sometimes I eat something. The food here is very nice."

"Not right now, Echo."

"Maybe you should…"

Her concern was touching, but Boyd was getting tired of fighting back the effects of the anesthetic. He knew he needed to hurry up and fall unconscious so that Claire could get to work patching him up. And so he said the first thing that came to mind…

"Echo, everything's going to be all right."

The Doll…fell silent. The concern on her face changed slowly back to confusion…and Boyd realized, to his surprise…that she was actually thinking about what he'd just said.

"You don't believe that?" he asked, forcing his voice to go even softer.

Echo bit her lip. "I…I'm sorry. I-Is that wrong?"

"No."

She looked surprised at his answer, but Boyd hurriedly pressed on. This was a dangerous message he was delivering, but he believed now that she had to hear it.

"That's right, Echo. Don't believe someone just because they tell you to. Don't trust someone just because they say you should. Your trust has to be earned. Make people earn it."

She nodded slowly. He wasn't sure if she truly understood what he was saying, but at the very least she looked as though she were trying to.

"…what about you?" she finally whispered.

Boyd's smile was more than a little manic now. "One day…" he whispered. "I hope I earn your trust, Echo. I really do."

He did not know if she truly understood what he was saying to her. She probably didn't. Unfortunately, he had no time to go and further because at that moment Dr. Sanders broke up their conversation.

"Echo," she said softly, laying a hand on the Active's arm. "Mr. Langton really needs his rest. You can visit him later."

Echo nodded uncertainly. "A-All right…"

She allowed Claire to lead her gently but firmly towards the door. But just before she was shunted back into the hallway, she glanced back at Boyd and smiled tentatively…before balling one hand into a fist and smacking it hard into the opposite shoulder.

Shoulder to the wheel.

Boyd hoped that there was a philosophy that would serve his Active well.