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Water Rising
By Demeter


"Oh, hey, Echo. Have you been sent for a treatment?" And how could he have not noticed her coming in?

She smiles at him sweetly. "I don't need any more treatments."

"Really?" Topher regards her cautiously. He hasn't forgotten the time she pulled a gun on him, and anyway it's been too short a time since peace and quiet has returned to the Dollhouse. He is not looking forward to have Adelle on his case anytime soon. "Why is that?"

Echo gazes back at him serenely. "I'm going home. I quit."

"What? No, come on, Echo. I don't think that's a good idea."

"I do."

Topher spins around to see the tall dark-haired woman who has calmly spoken these words, step out of the shadow and just his luck, she does have a gun. He thinks he has it with people who don't belong here randomly showing up and threatening him, and what the hell is it with the security in this place? Come to think of it, the folks who technically belonged here weren't much more reassuring after all, Dominic and, of course, Alpha. He shudders at the memory.

"All right ladies, what can I do for you?"

An amused smile plays over Echo's lips. The other woman takes a brief look around, a flicker of emotion on her face when she looks at the chair. Why are people always so shocked by it, he wonders. It's science benefitting people, assisted by people who have volunteered to be a part of it, plain and simple.

"Show me where they are." Her voice is low, dark, and dangerous; she's training the weapon on him like she knows what to do with it.

Topher has always kind of liked Echo but he's pretty sure that after this newest stunt, she will be sent to the attic. "And why exactly do you need me for this?"

"We need the original scans," the active explains. "And while we're at it, I'm taking mine, too."

He sighs. This is getting old. "So who did you come to rescue?" he addresses her companion.

"All of them," she says smugly.

Oh dear, she's even more delusional than Ballard.

Knowing better than to roll his eyes at a person who's holding a gun even though she's asked for it, Topher directs them to the right room, aware of Echo watching him. Even since they came in, he's been thinking of a way to contact security and he's sure she knows that.

"Don't even think about it," Echo advises mildly, and he makes a face at her. She checks the scans quickly. "It's all there."

"Let's go then," the other woman says after running her hand over that particular scan almost tenderly.

"Should he stay here or-" Echo lets her words trail off.

"No. It can't harm to have a hostage."

What the hell? Can't harm? Topher is all but convinced of that. It could harm him, in any case. "Hey, you just let me stay here, I won't say a word to anyone. Not a peep that there's just another white knight in shining armor coming to the rescue of--"

The woman is in his face, very much pissed off, and he realizes it's wiser not to finish the sentence. "You are coming with us," she says, very much convinced of it and the quiet anger in her voice is, he has to admit, pretty convicing, too. "You try anything funny, I'll shoot you."

"I got you. Nevermind."

"Good," she says.

Topher just hopes she won't shoot him anyway after seeing the pods. People from the outside have a funny way of reacting to the necessities of the Dollhouse.

The End

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