Log in

No account? Create an account
mission reports friendlies timeline profile my works on the Archive of Our Own Previous Previous Next Next
Dollhouse fic: To Dance in a Burning Building (pg) - Just Because
meanderings of a deranged mind
Dollhouse fic: To Dance in a Burning Building (pg)
Title: To Dance in a Burning Building
Author: SabaceanBabe
Rating: PG
Word count: 770
Focus: gen; Paul, Echo, Sierra, Topher, Boyd, Adelle, Laurence
Summary: Trapped in a burning room, what would be the first thing you do?
Disclaimer: All belongs to Whedon and Fox. Sadly.
Author’s note: written for dollhousefics Challenge #004: instinct. It’s not betaed, so if you see any glaring errors, please let me know.


The wail of sirens rose from the street below, growing louder and then fading as they passed. It was nothing out of the ordinary, and Paul usually ignored such things. But this time he looked up from the report in his hands to glance out his living room window. A plume of smoke rose in the distance, backlit by the setting sun and spreading out like a malignant cloud on the horizon. Nothing that would have an effect on him, though, and so he continued past the window into the kitchen. A beer would make this report a hell of a lot more palatable to read.

He returned to the living room, again passing the window, and again the smoke caught his attention. He frowned as the hair on the back of his neck stirred, tickling.

Maybe he should look into that fire in the morning…


Chaos reigned as smoke billowed and overhead sprinklers rained chemically treated water over everything. People ran, screamed, some tried to escape while others tried to hide. Boyd felt sympathy for them, particularly the actives, who had no clue what was happening and were clearly terrified. Some of the more responsible handlers shepherded their charges toward the exits. Dodging past a young man who was nearly catatonic, Boyd took the stairs two at a time. Echo was in Brink’s lab undergoing treatment and Boyd needed to get her to safety.

Grabbing onto the doorjamb to steady himself as he skidded on slick tile, Boyd nearly crashed into Brink, who was busy cramming anything and everything he could get his hands on into what looked like a milk crate. A panicked look on the man’s face, water dripping unchecked from his hair and into his eyes, Brink shoved the crate into Boyd’s hands and whirled away to grab another.

Echo wasn’t there.

Boyd dropped the plastic crate, which fell straight to the floor, jostling the soggy papers and cassettes within. “Where’s Echo?”

Still wide-eyed, Brink paused in his frantic packing. “What?”

“Echo. Pretty girl, dark hair. She was here for her ‘treatment.’”

Brink stared at him for a moment, his mouth opening and closing like a fish. “I don’t know. She was done. She left.”

“Where did she go?” He spoke patiently, just as he did with the blank dolls on the floor below.

But the programmer was done with him; Brink had returned to stuffing cassettes into another, larger plastic box. “Out there, somewhere.” He waved in the general direction of the hallway outside his office. “I don’t know. Help me save these profiles.”

Turning away in disgust, Boyd left him there and ran back down the hallway, calling Echo’s name.


“Ms. DeWitt, we have to go.”

Adelle ignored the urgency in his voice, continuing instead to tap away at her keyboard. “Indeed we do, Mr. Dominic, but not until these files are secure.” She glanced over her shoulder at him, noted his stance – poised for flight – and hit enter. “The confidentiality of our clients is—”

“Our highest priority. Yes, I know. But we won’t be able to protect that confidentiality if we’re dead.” He came closer as he spoke and with that last word, reached over her shoulder and flipped her laptop closed. She raised one brow at him, but he just looked her in the eye and said, “We’re going. Ma’am.”


Echo frowned. She didn’t like all the noise. She hadn’t liked the smoke, either, but then it started raining inside and the smell wasn’t so bad anymore. Lifting her arms, Echo pulled wet hair out of her eyes, off her neck, and then looked down at her wet clothes. Even though Topher had said she could go swimming, since her treatment was finished, she was a little bit worried that she was going to be in trouble for getting her clothes wet.

Someone ran past her, bumping hard against her arm, and without thinking, Echo reached out and caught the person’s wrist. “Is something wrong?”

Sierra’s eyes were wide and frightened, but she stopped running and held onto Echo’s hand. “I think something is burning.”

Echo nodded. “There was smoke.”

Looking over her shoulder, Sierra tried to pull Echo in the direction she’d been running. “We should go to our room.”

But Echo resisted the pull. “No, we have to find Boyd and Dr. Claire. They might be scared.”

Sierra looked unsure of herself, but then she nodded. “Dr. Claire is my friend. And friends help each other.” Still holding hands, Echo and Sierra turned. Calling for Boyd and Dr. Claire, they ran back toward the stairs.

Tags: , ,

18 sitreps or report
rebelliousrose From: rebelliousrose Date: March 12th, 2009 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that's so good! I love the way everyone's so true to character; did Alpha set the fire?

I LOVE the scene between Adelle and Dominic. And Sierra and Echo. You can hear the individual voices so clearly.
sabaceanbabe From: sabaceanbabe Date: March 12th, 2009 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

I never thought about who set the fire. Hee! I just wanted to find something to work with where I could have everyone acting on their first instinct, what's most true to their core.

I'm so glad it worked. :D
From: mamaboolj Date: March 12th, 2009 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, given that rebelliousrose just said just about everything I was going to say, I'll just add that it really is a frightening how the Actives are nearly helpless and so dependent in their unactivated state. Yet - not entirely as Gray Hour showed. I think this fic pics up on that same line of thought with Echo and Sierra being scared *for* Boyd and Dr. Claire.
sabaceanbabe From: sabaceanbabe Date: March 12th, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay! I'm so happy that came through! It's already becoming clear in canon that the blank actives aren't anywhere near as blank as Adelle initially indicated to Caroline. :D
From: mamaboolj Date: March 12th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow. I almost want to edit my initial comment and remove at least one of those "justs" and clean up the spelling!

Maybe I'm just too trusting, but I really think Joss is slowly laying out the framework for something really interesting and intriguing. I just hope Fox lets him let the story develop.
sabaceanbabe From: sabaceanbabe Date: March 12th, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really think Joss is slowly laying out the framework for something really interesting and intriguing. I just hope Fox lets him let the story develop.

I feel the same way. You'd think they'd learn from some of the other shows that started out slow and then built to become a phenomenon (X-Files? Firefly?), but fear that they haven't learned. :/
raincitygirl From: raincitygirl Date: March 13th, 2009 02:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Aaaaawwwww. I love Echo and Sierra together.
sabaceanbabe From: sabaceanbabe Date: March 13th, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. That part was actually the hardest to write, even though it was the clearest in my mind.
alexceasar From: alexceasar Date: March 13th, 2009 07:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I have to agree with everyone. You did a very good job on this. The characterizations were very good as to what we hae seen so far on the show. The Echo/Sierra and Adelle/Dominic interactions too.
sabaceanbabe From: sabaceanbabe Date: March 13th, 2009 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you.
lavastar From: lavastar Date: March 13th, 2009 01:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, god, I love this! Especially Echo's reaction, that Boyd and Claire might be scared, and Sierra saying that friends help each other. That made me squee so bad.

And Echo calling her 'Dr. Claire'? Melty goodness. :P

I love how this shows everyone's different reactions to the fire, especially Boyd and Topher's - it's indicative of their personality in a really interesting way.

Thanks for posting!
sabaceanbabe From: sabaceanbabe Date: March 13th, 2009 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much. :D *bounce*
snowpuppies From: snowpuppies Date: March 14th, 2009 05:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I like that. Your characterization is spot-on for everyone!
sabaceanbabe From: sabaceanbabe Date: March 15th, 2009 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much! :D
obiwahn From: obiwahn Date: March 14th, 2009 06:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh wow, this was brilliant, and considering this week's episode, the title is eerily clairvoyant ;-)

I love that Echo wants to save Boyd and Claire, and I really liked the scene between Topher and Boyd.

Very well done!
sabaceanbabe From: sabaceanbabe Date: March 15th, 2009 03:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Oddly enough, I had no idea that this week's ep involved a fire until I watched it just now. I was trying to decide between a thunderstorm and a fire as to what uncontrollable thing to use to get people to react by instinct, and I figured a fire was more likely to have an effect on the Dollhouse.

Anyway, thank you so much. I'm happy you liked it. :D
From: dariclone Date: March 14th, 2009 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Absolutly wonderfully well written. I particularly liked the segment with Boyd. His devotion to finding Echo was completly in character.
sabaceanbabe From: sabaceanbabe Date: March 15th, 2009 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it and I love the way Echo's and Boyd's relationship is developing.
18 sitreps or report