She has nightmares.
The nightmares are so bad that she needs to see a psychologist about them.
She's on medication that makes the nightmares worse but her kindly psychologist tells her that things will get better, that the nightmares will fade away.
However she's never sure what's real or what's fantasy.
* * *
The place is like a spa, attractive people wonder about the pale wooden floors dressed in expensive yoga wear. Everyone has a smile plastered on their face. The attendants are unobtrusive, only stepping in and guiding the others when necessary.
As she watches from above, it seems like some sort of Hell, even if everything is five star and far more expensive that she could never afford it.
* * *
Her psychologist makes her write down the fragments that she can recall of the nightmare upon waking up. They review the notes every session and the kindly, friendly doctor tells her that there's nothing to be afraid of in these fragments.
Yet the very thought of these fragments make her break out in a sweat while she shivers in fear.
* * *
Real or not real?
The kindly doctor smiles at her and offers a lollipop. As if she's a small child, yet she takes it with a smile and relishes at the sugary sweet taste of lemon as it explodes in her mouth.
She slides off of the table and follows a tall man out of the room. He's dressed in a suit and he looks uncomfortable. The kindly doctor calls him back and she absently nods before she makes her way to the art room.
* * *
She can barely look her doctor in the face even though her doctor reassures her that her dream is merely a case of transference. Her doctor gently asks her questions - how did she feel in the dream? When she admits that she felt at ease, her doctor tells her that it's a good sign as she writes notes in her book. She worries that the doctor is writing too much when her doctor looks up and gives her a smile.
Is it real or not real that she sees a hint of malice in the curved lips of her doctor?
She makes some excuse and leaves against her doctor's protestations. The room had become stifling and something had felt wrong.
* * *
There's nothing remarkable about the man who stands in front of her but she trembles in fear of something barely remembered. He touches her face. His hand is gentle as he looks at her.
There is nothing to fear sweet one.
Yet she knows that there is but she can't quite recall. He takes her by the hand and leads her into a room where he guides her to sit down on a loveseat. He takes the chair and pours her a cup of tea.
I am just a lonely, older man who enjoys having a cup of tea with a charming young woman such as yourself.
At his urging, she takes a sip of the tea. His face starts to distort and suddenly, he is an older English man, with greying hair. He talks to her about his research on a civilization long dead but she can't quite forget that there was something different at the start of this month's visit.
When it's time for her to go, she feels like there's something missing. That she should remember something important, something about how between tea and cakes and when he had her stripped down to her undergarments and sitting upon his knee, that something wasn't quite right.
* * *
She forgoes a session, telling herself that she needs some time away from her psychologist, some time to think for herself. but one meeting turns into three and then she stops taking her medication because they give her headaches and she thinks that they make the dreams worse.
She has a lovely apartment that she bought with money from a settlement from an accident - but she can't quite recall the accident or even buying this apartment that's full of shades of cream, grey and pale blues. She remembers going to university and being full of radical ideas. And she's never quite sure how she got form there to here.
When her psychologist's office calls, she lies and says that she's been sick and that she'll be in next week. Yet the week passes and she still won't go in. Instead she's packed a bag full of some clothes, money and her notebook of dreams. When it's time to go for her appointment, she leaves the house with her bag and catches a Greyhound to Tucson.
* * *
The woman and man are looking down at her. The woman seems marginally happier as they ride the elevator up the building. The man looks like a cop or an FBI agent while the woman is elegant, her clothes just a touch more expensive than the man's. She's in trouble but she can't recall why. The more she thinks about it, the more that she realizes that she can't recall the what, when, or where along with the why of the situation.
* * *
He gets on the bus at the next stop - it's a dusty little town and she wishes that she hadn't bailed out on her psychologist's appointment. When he sits down next to her with a smile, she starts to tremble in fear. The bus' air conditioned interior had seemed like bliss when she first sat down but now it makes her sick.
His voice is familiar, she's dreamt it so many times before.
She feels like something is squeezing her tightly. She's caught and trapped. He smiles at her and it's as if all of her nightmares have come true.
* * *
He looks at her, he strokes the curve of her jaw gently. His expression is sadness. She wants to fight him off but she's been programmed to be weak. If they had known who they were sending her to, things might have been different.
He presses a kiss against her cheek as he brushes a stand of her dark hair off of her face. She's powerless as he makes promises to her. He tells her that he'll find her and that they will be together again.
* * *
Echo looks out at the ocean. She's not happy that Caroline is gone. Destroyed so that she can live but Caroline was glitching - falling apart under the pressure of the pampered lifestyle that the Dollhouse had made for her. Then again perhaps it was the Dollhouse that made her glitch in the first place.
She turns away from the ocean and looks at Boyd. She's not sure how much she trusts her previous handler but he's the one that saved her from herself. Or at least that's what he tells her.