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Road Trip Part 6/12
damien listening guitar
rogoblue
Title: Road Trip Part 6/12
Rating: R (language and sexual situations)
Author: morgan72uk and rogoblue
Summary: Dominic, Adelle and Topher arrive at the caravan and must do what is necessary in order to stay.



Laurence Dominic tried to look everywhere at once. Failing that, he prioritized. Shove Topher to the ground behind the Jeep. Check. Dominic knelt next to Topher, holding the neuroscientist down with one hand, drawing his gun with the other.

“She’s hurt!” Topher moaned. “Help her!”

“It won’t help her for you to get yourself shot too,” Dominic muttered, scanning the hillside across the highway for the sniper. Seeing nothing, he said, “Stay with me, Topher.”

“No.”

Dominic resisted the urge to smack the stubborn petulant look from Topher’s face. Barely. “If you want to help Adelle, you’ll stay with me.”

“You’re going to help her?” Topher asked, tone clearly dubious.

“We both are,” Dominic replied, grabbing the back of Topher’s shirt. “Now stay with me.” Rising to a crouch, Dominic maneuvered Topher into a similar position. “Stay low,” he murmured, standing, bending at the waist, Dominic pushed Topher ahead of him toward the spot where Adelle fell. Topher stopped at the edge, proving to Dominic once again that he wasn’t as far gone as he sometimes appeared. “Go,” Dominic hissed as a bullet pinged off of a rock four feet to their right.

“Over?”

“We can’t help her if we aren’t with her,” Dominic said, taking a firmer hold of Topher and launching them both into a more or less controlled skid down a rather severe slope. Many bumps, bruises and minor contusions later, they arrived near the bottom. Adelle lay about ten feet to their right a bit further down the slope. Dominic didn’t like the angle at which her body was twisted. Pushing thoughts of broken spines and bashed skulls from his mind, he climbed down to her. Topher followed silently, displaying better balance than Dominic would’ve suspected. When he arrived at a point slightly below Adelle’s position, Dominic breathed a sigh of relief. The tree trunk that had halted her fall dictated the odd angle of her body w and her skull was decidedly not bashed in. Sensing Adelle wouldn’t be amused by the way her hair had fallen across her face, Dominic tucked it behind her ears and gently checked her head for injuries. The large bump on the back of it bled but not badly for a head wound. So far, so good.

“Her leg is bleeding.”

A closer inspection of Adelle’s left thigh drew a sigh. That’s going to hurt like a bitch.

“Make it stop bleeding,” Topher pleaded, eyes wide and focused on Dominic.

“We don’t have time,” Dominic murmured as he removed his belt. “We can slow the bleeding and thank Christ that the bullet missed her femoral artery. That’s the best we can do for now.” Looping his belt around her thigh twice, Dominic looked for other obvious injuries. “I’m not sure how bad her shoulder is, but it looks like she smacked it on something pretty good on the way down.” Staring up the slope for a moment, he said, “How the fuck did they find us? There’s no way to have predicted our route! I wasn’t even sure of it when we started.” A thought leapt into his head. “Did any of the Rossum people touch you?” he asked. “Or … or the … um … girl. The one that looked like your friend. Did she touch you?” Topher shook his head. “Did any of them touch Adelle?” Another shake of Topher’s head didn’t sit well. “The Jeep?” A third negative reply clenched Dominic’s fists. “Then how in the hell did they track us?” An image of Charles cold cocking him with the tranquilizer dart pistol appeared in Dominic’s head. What did he do after that? With dawning horror, Dominic emptied his left jacket pocket. Two spare clips for his gun, his boosters and a small silver device that looked like a cigarette lighter. Damn. They’re fucking tracking me!

Taking a deep breath, Dominic holstered his gun and put everything except the tracking device back in his pocket. “Take this,” he commanded. Topher looked at the tracking device with interest. Dominic gently positioned his hands beneath Adelle’s body. “We have to move, Topher. We need to stay ahead.” Slowly, carefully, he lifted Adelle, wincing as she cried out in pain, probably from the shoulder. “Sorry,” he whispered. Hope surging to the fore, Dominic watched her eyes. They didn’t open. Topher’s hand on his shoulder steadied him through the disappointment. “We’re taking a walk in that stream,” Dominic said, fully intending to force whoever was tracking them to do things the old fashioned way. “The trees are thick enough to shelter us from view pretty well, from above and from this level once we turn that bend up ahead. Topher, find a flat stick and float that damn cigarette lighter downstream.”

“Why?” Topher asked.

“To send Rossum the wrong way,” Dominic said, smiling slightly at finally catching a break with regard to the position of the caravan. Dominic and Topher walked upstream in the water for at least a mile. Topher had been quiet, pensive, darting looks to Adelle every ten seconds or so. Seeing a dry slope that led to a rocky path of sorts, Dominic stopped. A lot of people in the Attic had nightmares about being chased, necessitating that Dominic be good at evasion. “Climb up there, Topher,” he said, pointing out the line along which he wanted the neuroscientist to place his feet. “I’ll hand her up to you and climb up myself. You with me?”

Topher scampered out of the stream bed. Grunting with effort, Dominic lifted Adelle. He sighed at Topher’s hesitation. “I can’t bench press her, Topher. Reach down and take her.”

The handoff went reasonably well. Dominic got both hands beneath Adelle’s head when Topher struggled to get a good grip. I think we managed that without causing further damage. He didn’t demand Topher relinquish Adelle when he climbed out of the stream bed. It was clear Topher wanted to help, but it wasn’t long before the neuroscientist tired. Wordlessly, Dominic reached out his arms. Eyes locked on Dominic’s, Topher handed Adelle over. “We’re getting close, Topher,” he murmured.

“She’s pale.”

“I know.”

Trotting along next to Dominic, Topher said, “Pale isn’t good, is it?”

“As long as she’s still breathing, we’re in the game.” Meeting Topher’s eyes, he asked, “Right?”

“What game are we playing?”

“Hide and seek,” Dominic said. Lowering his voice, he said, “For keeps.”

“That’s close enough,” said a sharp male voice. “What’s your business here?”

“Trade,” Dominic said, squinting into the shadows cast by the pine trees. “And stopping her bleeding.”

A boy no older than twenty carrying a serious rifle stepped into view. “Where are your trade goods?” he asked.

“Back with the vehicle I was forced to abandon when she got shot.” Dominic lifted Adelle slightly to emphasize his point. “I need to see Gavin. We seek sanctuary.”

The kid gestured behind him. An even younger one appeared. “Let the doc know he has a new patient and let Gavin know that …” The kid faced Dominic. “Who shall I say has arrived?”

“Dominic.” This time, he was gratified by the obvious reaction to his name by both boys. The younger one took off without more. The elder fell in step beside Laurence. “What happened to your woman, sir?” he asked.

My …? Good Christ. “She took a bullet and fell about two hundred and fifty feet.”

“Sergei’ll patch her up.”

“Sergei’ll answer to me if he doesn’t,” Dominic muttered. The walk to the outskirts of the caravan was longer than Dominic had anticipated. Topher was starting to severely lag by the end. “How many does Gavin have now?” Dominic asked the guide he’d silenced with his threat to the doctor.

“Fourteen hundred and change, sir.”

“That’s good,” Dominic said, wondering how much further they had to go even as he weighed the blow to the kid’s high opinion of him if he asked the question.

“The doc’s there, sir.” The kid pointed at a white eighteen wheeler with a huge red cross painted on the side. Why change the label if the old one still fits? The Red Cross says, “Medic.”

“Thanks, um … what’s your name?”

“Hedge. Lance Hedge.”

“Under other circumstances, I’d be happy to shake your hand, Hedge,” Dominic said.

Topher stepped forward and offered his hand. Uncertain but gamely trying to deal with the strange guests, Hedge shook Topher’s hand. After banging on the sliding doors of the makeshift infirmary, Hedge slid them open without garnering any response Dominic had noted. Gavin Montgomery turned as Topher leapt into the truck, spun around and bent down to take over Dominic’s burden. Eyes locked on Gavin, Dominic matched Topher’s leap and took Adelle back.

Gavin stood aside so Dominic had a clear path to the small bed that had undoubtedly been hastily prepared for Adelle. “It’s been a while since you’ve turned up here covered with blood, Dominic.”

“The other times the blood was mine,” Dominic countered, stepping to the bed, lowering Adelle onto it as gently as he could, thinking that Gavin still seemed more a career military man than a trader—short hair, ramrod straight posture, no nonsense manner and clipped, precise annunciation. Eyeing the dark featured doctor with a nose that looked to have been broken more than once, Dominic said, “We need her stable.”

“We?” Gavin asked a hint of amusement in his light brown eyes.

“If the man says, ‘We,’ he means it,” said a female voice from just outside the truck. “Hi, Dom.” Haley’s big smile faltered. “My God, what did you do to that most outstanding shirt?” She recovered her smile and pulled her five foot, two inch frame into the truck. “I’ll interrogate you about where you got it later.”

“I … ah …,” Dominic began, eyes darting back to Adelle and the Eastern European looking medic bending over her making disapproving noises.

“Give me the shirt,” Haley demanded. When Dominic didn’t comply, she said, “We might be able to salvage it if we soak it in cold salt water before the blood dries. I’ll get you something else to wear.”

“I’ll worry about the shirt later,” Dominic said, focus split between on Haley’s delicate face framed by bright red hair and Adelle’s pale countenance.

“I’m worried about the shirt now,” she countered, “and the man wearing it.”

Eyes drawn definitively to Adelle by the soft sound of pain she emitted, Dominic muttered, “I’m fine, Haley. Just tired.”

“You live on boosters, Dom. Of course you’re tired.” Shaking her head, Haley turned to go. Gavin and Dominic watched her retreat and Dominic kept his eyes from straying below her waist. Haley has one of the finest asses on the planet. “Why do we need the lovely woman stable?” Gavin asked, observing Dominic as though he suspected the route the younger man’s thoughts had taken.

“To manage him,” Dominic said, gesturing to Topher. Lowering his voice, he said, “Gavin, I’ll give this to you straight. Rossum wants him. If they get him, we’re stuck in this brave new world, because he’s just about the only one who has a hope of figuring out how to reverse things. I’m taking him to Safe Haven. He won’t move without her or I’d take him on and come back for her.” Topher looked up, eyes both curious and wary. “Yeah,” Dominic said, gaze shifting to Topher, “I didn’t even bother to ask you, because I already knew what your answer would be.”

“You know how I feel about Rossum, Dominic,” Gavin said.

“I didn’t come here to burden you, Gavin. I came here because at least one of my safe houses was compromised and the crew at Safe Haven doesn’t know much, if anything, about you. They imagine themselves too self sufficient to need what you offer.” Facing the man who ran the trade caravan like a tight ship, Dominic said, “If you feel the risk is too great, I’ll take them on the moment she’s stabilized and I retrieve my Jeep.”

Gavin grinned. “That heap is still running?”

Offering a small smile in return, Dominic said, “More often than not.”

“Miracles do happen, I guess,” Gavin said. Looking over Dominic’s shoulder, he said, “I think we’ll get no further toward resolving this dilemma until you remove your shirt.”

Following Gavin’s gaze, Dominic faced an impatient, mildly amused Haley. She held out a black T-shirt. Dominic shrugged out of his jacket and took off his blood stained dress shirt. Taking the T-shirt, Dominic pivoted back toward Gavin.

“So that’s how it is,” Haley murmured, stepping close to Dominic.

“What?” Dominic asked.

Haley placed a small hand on his shoulder before tracing five lines on the left side of his back. Dominic looked over his shoulder and his eyes widened at the healing scratches Adelle DeWitt had given him to set the stage for her trouncing of the pheromonals. Not knowing what to say, Dominic offered a slight shrug to Haley’s expectant look. A bright sunny smile he hadn’t expected. “I wonder if she’ll share,” Haley said.

“Adelle flunked sharing in kindergarten.” He frowned as he pulled the T-shirt over his head. “Whatever they call it in England and I don’t think much has changed since.”

“England?” Gavin said.

“She’s a Brit,” Dominic said, eyes drawn back to the doctor and his patient by the urgent questions Topher flung at Sergei.

“Leash your attack dog, please,” Sergei said. “I do my best for her. She will be well.”

Something incredibly tight in Dominic released at those words. “Stand down, Topher,” he said. “She’s going to be ok.” Suddenly profoundly weary, he asked, “Can we stay?”

Gavin stared at Topher who stood up straighter as if trying to appear to be someone who had the potential to correct the fucked up situation. The caravan leader’s eyes softened as they shifted to Adelle. Sparing the slightest glance for his daughter, Gavin said, “You can stay until she’s fit to travel, so long as that boy keeps out of sight and you pitch in by taking watches, patrolling and answering my security-related questions.”

“Deal,” Dominic said, moving in to shake Gavin’s hand before the other man could change his mind. “I have some goods I can give you to offset the cost of her treatment and our upkeep, but they’re back in my Jeep. When she’s awake, I’ll retrieve them.”

Haley smiled in the way that had captivated him the last time he’d passed this way. “I look forward to that trade negotiation, Dom.”

“See,” Sergei said, tapping Topher on the shoulder. “I tell you don’t worry. Do you listen? No, you don’t listen to Sergei.”

Adelle’s eyelids fluttered and opened. Thank Christ. The fear, uncertainty and pain he saw in them had Dominic on the move. Crouching next to the small bed, Dominic took her hands in his. He felt her relax slightly when her eyes met his, but only just. “Adelle,” he began, “we made it to the caravan I told you about and we can stay here until you’re well enough to travel. Everything is going to be ok.” Something in her eyes told him she recognized an overstated case when she heard one but was inclined to let it pass. “How are you feeling?” he asked.

“No terribly well,” she whispered. “What happened?”

“You got shot in the leg, overbalanced and fell down a slope.”

She blinked rapidly as if taking in that information was almost too much. “How did I get here?” she asked.

“I carried you,” Dominic said.

“I helped,” Topher emphatically stated.

“That’s right,” Dominic said. “We carried you.” Dominic wondered if Adelle had even heard him agree with Topher before losing consciousness once more.

* * *


Pain shot through her shoulder like a red hot knife through butter and as consciousness returned in a red mist she forced her eyes open to find Topher leaning over her; his expression contrite as well as fearful.

“You aren’t dead,” he breathed and while she considered whether that was actually true, given how much pain she was in, he added, “you didn’t leave me.” Which made any other response impossible.

“I’m OK,” she lied.

But he pressed his fingertips gently to her cheek and told her, “we took care of you.” The evidence for that was unarguable and as she took inventory of all the parts of her body that were hurting she had to acknowledge that she had needed the help.

“What do you remember?” A familiar voice asked and she frowned, although doing so hurt, and tried to turn her head towards the sound.

“I was shot, I fell,” she struggled briefly – putting various memories together in an order than made sense. “You carried me here?”

“And here is?”

“The caravan,” she replied – realising what he was doing. “How is my mental state examination Mr. Dominic?”

“Excellent so far. What else?”

“There were other people here? A doctor I think?”

“Last time you woke up you spoke to him in Russian – apparently that made you two friends for life.” She just about remembered that, remembered also waking at some earlier point as well. On that occasion the space around her had been full of strangers until Laurence had knelt beside her and told her she was going to be OK.

Now however he was keeping his distance. “I’m looking after you,” Topher told her, fingertips curling around her hand.

She was exhausted, which was ridiculous when she’d only been awake for a few minutes but she made herself concentrate for long enough to ask, “where’s the Jeep?”

“We had to leave it behind. I’ll go back and get it later – deal with the reception committee.”

“Did you tell the people here about Rossum?”

“I didn’t have much choice, Adelle, you were bleeding and we needed their help.”

“I don’t like it here,” Topher whispered, “there are too many people.”

“You ever hear about there being safety in numbers?” Dominic snapped back. Adelle could feel her eyes growing heavy but the issue of safety triggered something in her memory, something they’d discussed before although now the question seemed more pertinent than ever.

“They’ve said we can stay?”

“Until you recover, yes. There are some conditions and I don’t think they are too happy about it. But it’s OK.”

Clearly it wasn’t. Her injuries were delaying their flight to Safe Haven, not to mention putting all the people here at risk.

She’d been determined not to be a burden on this journey and until now she thought she’d proved her worth; dealing competently with everything they had needed to overcome to get this far. But now she was adding to the risks that they faced, not helping to overcome them.

As if that wasn’t enough of an issue, she was concerned how Topher’s fragile mental state would respond to two shootings at such close quarters in the space of 24 hours. “Get some rest,” Dominic told her gently, “we aren’t going anywhere.” Deciding to take him at his word, at least for now, she closed her eyes – letting some decidedly off key humming wash over her as she slipped back to sleep.

* * *

Distantly she became aware of something, or someone, patting her cheek. When she tried to shrug off whatever it was the pain in her shoulder was so intense her eyes opened in shock.

“How long?” She asked. It would have been a demand, but she lacked the strength and the energy to bring the necessary force to bear in the question.

“About six hours,” Dominic said. That meant she had been out of commission for quite long enough but, when she tried to move, Topher made dismayed clucking noises and shook his head wildly.

She attributed her surrender to not wanting to add to his distress rather than to the blinding pain and slight dizziness the attempt to move had engendered. Stepping to a place where she could more easily see him Dominic continued, “your shoulder is pretty badly bruised and you lost a lot of blood on the way here. The bullet when straight through and, according to your Russian friend, managed to miss anything vital. But you were unconscious for a while, so to manage the concussion Topher's been waking you every couple of hours and the Doc wants you to stay off your leg for 24 hours, maybe longer.”

The next time she woke it was of her own volition. The room had been darkened, presumably to help her rest, there was no sign of either Laurence or Topher and she was all alone in what was the most unusual looking medical room she had ever set eyes on.

The pain was worse; the throbbing of her head competed with that of her shoulder and thigh. Gritting her teeth she used her good shoulder to push herself up into a sitting position. Her vision blurred for a second and her stomach rolled but she forced the nausea down – intent on her goal of getting out of this damn bed and making sure her weakness didn't delay their journey for any longer.

Taking a deep breath and hoping that the worst was over she moved to swing her legs over the side of the bed. The gasp of pain that escaped her long before her injured leg came close to bearing her weight was not what she was hoping for and as she tried to stop herself falling back her instinctive use of her injured shoulder brought tears to her eyes.

“What the hell are you doing?” Unfortunately there was a witness to her abject humiliation, Laurence unfolded himself from a corner of the room where he had been sitting and was by her side in a couple of rapid strides.

“I would have thought that was quite obvious,” she bit back – making another attempt to get up, which he forestalled easily by placing a hand on her shoulder and applying firm downwards pressure.

“Christ Adelle, you're in no condition to get up.” The fact that her body apparently agreed with his analysis in no way made her more accepting of it.

“If you'd been injured you'd have taken a little red pill and be back on your feet by now. I need my clothes so we can be on our way and where is Topher?”

“Under the bed over there. He was getting freaked out by all the new people and decided on a strategic retreat.” He gestured with his thumb to a bed under which she could just make out what looked like a bundle of blankets. “He was asleep, but there's every chance he's awake now and waiting to see if we're going to argue about how bloody stupid you're being.”

His comment was sufficient warning and, with some difficulty, she managed to keep her tone reasonable. “I don't think we should stay here – surely it would be better to retrieve the Jeep and head to Safe Haven.”

“You aren't in anything approaching a state fit enough to travel. I can't look after you and Topher and deal with whoever is out there. All evidence to the contrary I'm not a superhero.”

“Then take Topher and leave me here.”

“We've already established that isn't a good idea, he'd be hysterical.”

“You could sedate him.”

“I suspect an unconscious Topher would only be slightly less difficult to deal with than a conscious one. He's freaked out enough, leaving you behind here would be the last straw for his sanity and I don't think either of us wants that on our conscience. I'm starting to worry how hard you hit your head Adelle, this isn't like you.”

“I want him safe, that's more important than my comfort.”

“He is safe, it's safe here for now and we're heading in the right direction.” He crossed his arms, decision made apparently. “Do you need anything for the pain?”

“No thank you,” she refused to acknowledge that she was in any kind of pain, though her effort was undermined when she struggled to lie back down. She managed it at last, her expression warding off any efforts on his part to assist her. Once that was accomplished she managed to win another small victory by manouvring herself onto her side, curled up facing away from his far too irritated gaze. “I think I'll get some rest,” she said quietly, effectively dismissing him.

* * *

That woman still knows how to give an order. Christ, you’d think I was the one talking nonsense the way she acted. Who knows? Maybe she got bent out of shape because I said “bloody” instead of “damn.”

“Hey, Dom, wait up.” Only now realizing how fast he’d been walking, Dominic stopped and turned toward the sound of Haley’s voice. “Finally managed to tear yourself away, I see,” Haley said.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked.

“Walk with me,” she said. He complied, shortening his stride considerably.

I never had to adjust to walk with Adelle. Haley’s laugh brought his thoughts back into line. “What’s so funny?”

“C’mon, Dom, it’s cute.”

“Cute?” Dominic couldn’t recall the last time anyone used that word in reference to him. A state of affairs he vastly preferred to the current one.

Holding her hands as if to frame a camera shot, Haley said, “Enter our hero, carrying the damsel in distress, covered in her blood, forced to ask for a place to hide from the evil villains. Unable to take his eyes off of her for more than a moment or two, he talks his way into the caravan of traders. Reluctantly allowing a former lover to take his shirt for cleaning, he takes his new lady’s hands in his and tells her, ‘Everything will be all right.’” Haley’s brow furrowed in thought. “Ok, maybe cute was the wrong word. Passionate is closer.”

Junior’s words resounded in Dominic’s head. “You aren’t exactly going to mind traveling however slowly with your green eyed lady, so stop bitching about it.” Resolutely, Dominic banished the thought.

“It’s not passionate to carry someone who can’t walk,” he said. “It’s not passionate when they bleed all over you. It’s not damn passionate to have to ask for help. There is nothing fucking passionate about giving my shirt to you or telling her everything’s going to be all right, knowing it’s probably not. Who’s been supplying you with romance novels?”

“Do you really not see it or are you being deliberately obtuse?” Haley asked.

Feeling the fatigue that had been building up inside of him, Dominic said, “See what, Haley?”

“You’re infatuated with her,” she said. “With your Brit.” She smirked. “With Adelle.”

“You’re insane,” Dominic countered, striding away at speed. “You have no idea what that woman has put me through. Hell, what we’ve done to each other. And even if it was possible to put all that shit to rest, there’s no way she’d have anything to do with me, regardless of what I might want, so just shut up about it. Ok?”

“I saw the way her eyes latched onto you when you made your reassurances,” Haley said, jogging to keep up. “She didn’t exactly rip her hands from yours.” Haley followed him into the copse of trees just to the east of the caravan. “She trusts you.”

“No she doesn’t,” he said. “Not anymore. She doesn’t trust anyone, these days, and probably rightfully so.” She trusted you once, asshole.

“Ok, you’ve convinced me,” Haley said, smiling big. “You’re not infatuated with the older woman.” Haley stepped close, resting a small hand on his chest. “So there’s a chance we could pick up where we left off.”

“That’s not a good idea,” Dominic said, staring at her hand on his body.

“Why not?” Haley asked. “You know how it is here. Hell, you know how it is everywhere there’s some stability these days. We don’t know what tomorrow has in store, so bring on the physical pleasure. Whoever dies having had the most orgasms wins.” Pressing against him, Haley whispered, “I want you, Dom. I’ve missed you.”

“No you don’t and no you haven’t,” he snarled. “You have your pick of the guys here. Don’t try and tell me that’s changed. You viewed me as a challenge and you made your conquest. That’s all.”

“You’re too tense,” Haley said, one hand migrating to his shoulder. The other slipped below his belt buckle. “Far too tense.”

Every emotion he’d felt in the last day or two surged forward, fighting for predominance. He was too tired to sort through the morass. Dominic backed Haley into a tree and took her mouth with his, one hand tangled in her hair, the other fisting her shirt. The second kiss was harsher. The third more still. Haley’s moan of his name dynamited Laurence back into his head. He pulled back and placed his hands on Haley’s shoulders. “God, Haley, I’m sorry. Jesus, I didn’t mean to … to … I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, baby,” Haley whispered. “Do it again.”

“I shouldn’t,” Dominic said.

She ran a hand through his hair. “Go ahead and close your eyes and pretend I’m Adelle, Dom. I don’t mind.”

The temptation was nearly overwhelming. “I can’t, Haley.

Gentle fingers caressed his cheek. “Think about that when you try to convince yourself that nothing I’ve said to you today makes sense, Dom. Just think about what you and I didn’t do. And wonder why.” Without more, Haley kissed him lightly on the cheek and turned away.


* * *

Frustratingly, perhaps inevitably, rest didn’t come simply because she willed it to. There was plenty of pain though and as she struggled with that shivers wracked her body. Everything hurt when she moved and the tremors meant she couldn’t stop moving. She tried to keep quiet but as she huddled more tightly into a ball her shoulder was jostled.

“Adelle?” She really didn’t want to talk to Laurence right now but the bed dipped as he leaned over her. “Do you need me to get Sergei?”

“Cold,” she gasped, though presumably he could tell that from the way she was shivering.

“It’s delayed shock,” he said, “I think we’re all out of hot sweet tea.” And Topher took all of the damn blankets. She’s freezing. I’m too warm. It’s the practical thing to do, regardless of what Haley thinks.

She expected him to find her a blanket but instead, with infinite care, he got onto the bed. He slipped an arm around her, easing her over and across his chest in such a way that there was no weight on her injured shoulder. “Better?” he asked.

“A little,” he rubbed his hand over her back and she shifted closer – he was warm, very warm and she was so damn cold. “Thank you.”

“It’s OK, just relax.” She tried to do as he suggested, concentrating on her breathing until slowly the shivers subsided. “They’re good people here,” he told her. “Gavin’s ex Navy – I think he sees this as some sort of flotilla, maybe a fleet. He can be a little rigid, but he’s fair for the most part and people believe he’ll keep them safe.”

“Including you?”

“I wouldn’t have brought you here if I didn’t.” He stopped talking, but carried on rubbing her back and her eyes drifted shut as the warmth spread through her. God, I’m tired. And, for a change, not too damn hot. I could just close my eyes for a few minutes. What harm would that do?

“Well, this is cosy.” Adelle opened her eyes, feeling warm and drowsy, to find a young woman standing over the bed. Belatedly Adelle realised that the warmth was mostly coming from the body she was curled around – one that had apparently just been abruptly awoken.

“She was cold,” Laurence said as he sat up. “I was keeping her warm.”

“Got to love the elevated body temperature that comes with the boosters,” the newcomer said with a distinctly knowing grin.

* * *

Laurence Dominic felt, as his mother had been fond of saying, like death warmed over. “What do you want, Haley?” he said.

“Dad wants a word with you,” she said, irreverent grin still in place. “I’ll tell him you’re busy.”

“Don’t fuck with me, Haley. You know how precarious our position is here. Is this urgent?”

“Chill, Dom,” Haley said. “I’ll tell him you were asleep, which you were and which I wouldn’t have disturbed if I wasn’t so surprised.”

The feel of Adelle DeWitt’s body molding to his left side reminded Dominic of his manners. Taking a deep breath, he said, “Adelle, this is Gavin’s daughter Haley. Haley, Adelle.”

The two women took each other’s measure using techniques Dominic couldn’t fathom. Haley looked away first. “I’ll tell dad you were dead to the world, Dom,” she murmured as she turned to leave the truck serving as a hospital room.

“Sorry for the disturbance, Adelle,” he murmured. “Go back to sleep.”

“Tell me about Haley,” Adelle whispered, even as she snuggled close against Dominic.

“There’s nothing to tell,” he offered.

To his surprise, Adelle laughed, winced and put a hand to her aching head. “As my mother was fond of saying, Mr. Dominic, I wasn’t born yesterday.”

He sighed. “Ever since I first encountered the caravan, about 18 months ago, Haley decided she was interested in me. For whatever reason. The last time I was here, I helped Gavin train some new recruits of his to fight and gave some of the others more advanced training. Haley made it her business to be in my personal space all the time.” Dominic met Adelle’s eyes. “I’m human. I gave in. The sex was fun and not complicated by … well, anything. That’s the story.”

“She’s quite young.”

“I’m aware of that, Adelle.” Dominic grimaced. “I get reminded every time Gavin looks askance at me.”

“And beautiful.”

Mind harkening back to a little while earlier, he said, “I’d call her cute, rather than beautiful. Beautiful is a designation I reserve for more…” He smiled at Adelle. “Complicated women.” He’d surprised Adelle with that comment. Dominic was sure of it. Surprised and pleased her. Carefully, gently, he pulled Adelle more tightly into his arms. “You should rest.”

“So should you,” she murmured. “You can sleep under the influence of boosters. “You did.”

“I can if I’m relaxed and it’s relatively quiet,” he admitted.

“Then relax,” Adelle commanded.

Chuckling softly, Dominic reclined on the bed, taking Adelle along with him. “That sounds really good, right about now,” he whispered.

“I’m glad,” Adelle murmured.

“Why?’ Dominic asked.

“Because I covet your body heat,” she said.

There was a smile on his lips when he closed his eyes.

* * *

It had been far too long since she’d woken in a man’s arms and for a moment Adelle allowed herself to imagine a scenario involving fewer clothes, a larger bed and an entirely different activity leading to this awakening. She lifted her head and settled more comfortably against the man currently starring in her fantasy. Laurence Dominic didn’t stir, which was a surprise - but even battered and bruised she knew how to take advantage of a situation.

Watching him sleep wasn’t a chore. He’d been in near constant motion for days now and she rather enjoyed the chance to observe him like this. She was choosing to view the fact that he was sleeping; relaxed and curled around her like a protective hot water bottle, as meaning something more than that he was simply exhausted.

He was breathing steadily, a slight smile lingering on his lips and his arm was still draped over her back effectively holding her in place. She didn’t particularly want to move but the placement of his arm meant doing so without disturbing him would be impossible.

She was ready now to admit that this was more than a passing fancy brought on by proximity and the imminent threat of destruction. Whether this was a long buried attraction come back to life or something entirely new, she couldn’t say for sure. But she was no longer willing to just let it exist without attention, perhaps even nurturing. Her life was too burdened by regret already – she didn’t want to regret not doing something about this, even if acting left her open to another stinging rejection.

The likelihood of rejection was one that warranted further consideration since, for all they were currently lying in bed together, his response continued to confuse her.

She thought he sensed that the attraction was mutual and growing. They’d shared a great deal already, including some painful, difficult emotions. Issues that could haunt them had been discussed; the basis for a rapprochement at least established – but he backed away, seemed uncomfortable with anything approaching the personal.

It hadn’t surprised her to learn that he hadn’t been celibate all these months – sex was an easy way to take shelter from a world rent apart and she rather envied him the opportunity. But he’d been incredibly uncomfortable after their confrontation with the pheromonals and his description of his tryst with Haley had only compounded that impression. Why had an obviously enthusiastic and rather lovely young woman had to work so hard to get him into bed? He hadn’t been lying when he had described how it had happened – she was sure of that, but he had seemed embarrassed and, that word again, uncomfortable.

Just for a moment she let herself remember his expression when he’d said he reserved the designation ‘beautiful’ for more complicated women. That expression; ardent, admiring had belonged to a man whose feelings mirrored her own – yet at other times he pulled away.

If it were anyone else she’d attribute it to a lack of confidence, possibly even shyness. But that was clearly ridiculous, she knew he wasn’t shy because… She stopped that train of thought abruptly because actually, she didn’t know anything of the sort.

She pondered the mystery further – surprised how the pieces fit together once she discounted what she thought she knew of the man based on their time working together. He’d been undercover then, playing a role as a stoical, sometimes cynical security chief. In the last few days she’d seen more sides and nuances to his personality than in the three years they’d been in the Dollhouse.

This new interpretation was just as valid as any other. He’d told her that it had been years since he had been without an undercover mission – which meant that many of his encounters with women would have been determined by those missions. He could lack confidence with women as himself, over the years he would have had minimal opportunities to develop relationships outside his assumed personas.

It was strange to contemplate the idea that the man who’d fought so ferociously to protect them could be shy. But this was also the man who’d told her that he didn’t know what the women he’d had to seduce saw in him, who’d been startled when she’d called him attractive and intelligent, who’d allowed himself to be worn down by Haley. He’d probably been desperately in need of comfort by then and, surprisingly, she found herself grateful to the woman who’d provided it when she’d expected to be jealous of her.

But she wasn’t Haley and the kind of surrender she had drawn from Laurence didn’t interest Adelle. She wanted all of him, willingly and enthusiastically, his shyness and uncertainty cast aside. She’d settle for no less – even though she realised it meant offering as much in return.

Almost as though it was her decision that had roused him she felt his breathing change and a few seconds later his eyes opened. He didn’t retreat immediately, but she sensed the wariness that hadn’t been there before. “How are you feeling?”

“Everything hurts,” she admitted, though while she had been thinking about him the pain had receded to some extent. “But I’m not as shaky as before.” She was dismayed, but not surprised when he took this to mean he should get up. Immediately she regretted the loss of his warmth – but the way he was suddenly reluctant to look her in the eyes suggested an opportunity to test one part of her theory. “Thank you.”

“It wasn’t a big deal,” she disagreed but chose not to share that piece of information with him.

Instead she sat up carefully, grimacing as she looked down at herself. “I’m horribly grimy and I don’t want to lie here in bloodstained clothing. Would you mind helping?” She managed to unbutton her shirt, though shrugging it off her shoulders made her wince with pain and the act of getting the vest underneath it off defeated her entirely. He looked startled and worried and managed to help her remove it without once looking at her.

“I’ll find someone to bring you some clean clothes,” he said as he twisted the vest in his hands – apparently determined not to look at the bruised body he’d helped her to expose. He seemed to realise what he was doing a moment later and cast the garment onto the bed, pivoting on his heel and heading rapidly for the exit without another word.

It was proof of sorts she decided; certainly enough to base a strategy on – though the strategy in question would have to be about openness and honesty, because for this man, in these circumstances, nothing else would do.

* * *

Laurence Dominic jumped down from the makeshift hospital and stalked away at speed. Jesus, Dom, you slept with her. Literally. She felt so damn good it isn’t even funny, but that was a far as this can go. Get that through your head as rapidly as possible. She’s meant for bigger and better men than you. Spotting Haley, Dominic altered his trajectory. Taking several deep breaths, he said, “Haley, I need a favor.”

Haley and the young woman she was with turned to face him. They both looked him up and down, Haley grinning, the other woman wearing an expression Dominic didn’t care to identify. “What can I do for you, gorgeous?” Haley asked.

“Adelle is swimming in bloody clothes. Can you find a shirt that’ll fit her? Maybe some sweats or jeans or something too.”

Smiling in a way that Dominic didn’t trust, Haley said, “Of course.”

“Could you bring them to her?” Dominic said, operating under the theory that Adelle would prefer the assistance of a woman in dressing despite the evidence to the contrary in the undressing category.

“Bring them to her yourself, Dominic,” Gavin said, draping an arm around Laurence’s shoulders as Haley and her friend waved and went off on their mercy mission. “Then we can establish the parameters of your stay here.”

“I really think she’d prefer—,” Dominic said.

Gavin stared into Dominic’s eyes. “Bring them yourself.”

Dominic heard the implied, “Or else,” so he nodded. “Sure,” he said. “I’ll deliver the clothes Haley provides. What’s going on, Gavin?”

“I want to be sure you, your woman and the boy wonder understand where you are and what it is we do here,” Gavin said. “And that you all are willing to work with us in a safe way.”

“I already agreed to that,” Dominic said, uncertain how to counter Gavin’s intensity.

“You haven’t,” Gavin said, “but you will.”

“That sounds ominous, Gavin,” Dominic said, ignoring the impulse to step away from the older man. “I’m asking again. What’s going on?”

“I won’t let you make anyone else here a target of Rossum’s.” The fire in Gavin’s eyes belied the flat monotone in which he’d spoken.

“I don’t intend to.”

“You could’ve fooled me!”

Stepping toe to toe with Gavin, Dominic demanded, “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Me,” Haley whispered, handing Dominic a pile of clothes, atop which rested a lace bra and not quite matching underwear. Defiantly slipping an arm around Dominic’s waist, she said, “Someone saw us earlier and ran to daddy.”

“Gavin, what happened was—.”

“Save it, Dominic. I don’t want to hear about it.”

“It won’t happen again,” Dominic said.

“Damn straight, because I’ve seen to it.” Gavin strode toward the hospital truck.

“What’s going on?” Dominic asked Haley.

She hugged him briefly. “Go with dad. He’ll explain things without snarling.” When Dominic aimed a skeptical look in her direction, she said, “He won’t blow a gasket in front of a woman he doesn’t know.”

Gavin waited at the door for Dominic. “Let me know when she’s dressed,” Gavin ordered.

Dominic’s eyes dropped to the clothes. Deliberately not imagining Adelle in the lingerie, he nodded. “Fine,” he muttered, knocking on the door before opening it and stepping up into the hospital. Shutting the door behind him, Dominic said, “I brought you some clothes. Hopefully seeing you in them will calm Gavin down.”

“Gavin is upset?”

Regarding her as she sat on the edge of the bed, Dominic noted the massive amount of bruising on her shoulder and that her blue satin bra seemed devoid of bloodstains. Thank Christ! “You could say that,” he said.

“Why?” Adelle asked, reaching for the clothes.

He sighed and wished to be somewhere else. Just about anywhere other than stuck in the back of an eighteen wheeler watching an underwear clad Adelle DeWitt dress. “Before you … ah … we rested, I ran into Haley outside and she … brought up the subject of the two of us taking up where we left off. Gavin doesn’t want her to get involved with me, because he’s afraid she’ll become a target of Rossum’s.”

“A rational fear of a protective father,” Adelle said. Unfolding the shirt, Adelle smiled. “A father protective of a young woman with a sense of humor.”

Poised to ask for clarification, Dominic recognized the shirt in Adelle’s hands as two tone blue one he’d taken from the apartment where they’d encountered the pheromonals, the one Adelle had worn to confront them. Silently grateful that she’d ignored the new bra, Dominic steeled himself to face Gavin.

“Could you help?” Adelle asked when she finished unbuttoning the shirt.

“Sure,” he muttered, taking it from Adelle and moving behind her to help her into it. She winced when he inadvertently brushed against her injured shoulder. “Sorry.”

“An apology isn’t necessary, Laurence,” she said, buttoning the shirt slowly, observing him with a small smile on her face as she reached for the sweats.

“I’ll check on Topher,” Dominic muttered, crouching down to peer under the other bed. Topher made a thumbs up sign. Dominic stayed in his crouch. Just making sure he’s all right. He risked a glance over his shoulder. God, she has great legs. When they disappeared into a pair of sweat pants, Dominic realized he’d been staring. Content not to know if Adelle had noticed, he rose and headed for the door, “I’ll let Gavin know you’re ready.”

“I will be, if I can impose upon you to help me to stand,” Adelle said.

“Ok, yeah. Right.” Ignoring the hand she held out, Dominic framed her waist with his hands and lifted her upright. Holding her steady while she pulled up the sweats, he couldn’t help but notice Adelle was still cold. No surprise there. It’s chilly in here.

Finished, she whispered, “Thank you, Laurence.” The combination of her smile and the way she said his name made it difficult to breathe. “I despise being so dependent,” she said.

“It’ll only be for a little while,” he said.

“I hope so,” Adelle murmured as Dominic settled her back onto the bed. When he made to lower her onto her back, she said, “I’d rather be sitting up.”

“Sure,” Dominic said. “I’ll get Gavin.”

Body language controlled, expression neutral, Gavin stepped inside and immediately took the only chair. “I hope you’re feeling better, ma’am,” Gavin said. Gavin caught Adelle’s amused glance in Dominic’s direction, but he didn’t ask about it.

“A bit,” Adelle said, patting the bed next to her. Having no choices other than Topher’s bed or the floor, Dominic sat next to Adelle. “What is it you wish to discuss with us?” she asked, annunciation clear, tone reasonable.

“I want to make sure we’re all on the same page with regard to your time here,” Gavin said. “At the end of days, as you might imagine, people want to have sex to prove they’re still alive, to forget what they’re missing, any number of reasons. However, we have a rule here that outsiders don’t interfere with established couples. Pairs that have registered as such.” Gavin looked at Adelle for a long moment before shifting his gaze to Dominic. “I’ve registered the two of you as an established couple.”

“What?” Dominic said. “But we’re not—.

“I don’t give a shit what you two are or aren’t,” Gavin said. “Pardon my French, ma’am. You’re an established couple as far as this caravan is concerned and there will be no more of what went on earlier. Am I making myself clear, Dominic?”

“Perfectly,” Dominic muttered, starting at the shiver that flowed through Adelle. Glaring at Gavin, he pivoted his upper body, put one hand on her waist and the other on her good shoulder, whispering, “Lean back,” in her ear. She nestled against his chest and sighed. Taking the hand at her waist, Adelle shifted it to her lower abdomen and held it there, puzzling Dominic until he realized that the change in position of his upper body allowed her to settle more comfortably against him with her head on his shoulder.

“So the two of you will keep your distance from the others in the caravan and they from you, otherwise they pay the price.” Gavin’s eyes never left Dominic’s.

Unflinching, Dominic said, “I wouldn’t put Haley at risk. Damn it, Gavin, you know that. Or you damn well ought to.”

“I’m making sure you don’t.”

“I believe you have made your point,” Adelle interjected. “Do you have others?”

“I do, ma’am.”

“Adelle.”

Gavin nodded in her direction. “We have few rules here but the ones we have are inviolate. I can think of no other way to govern this mish-mash of individuals. One involves established couples. Another is that everyone will contribute their material goods to the betterment of the caravan. A third is that everyone will contribute their time for the betterment of the caravan. A fourth is that we don’t cheat those actuals we trade with. A fifth is that we show respect at all times.” When Dominic laughed, Gavin smiled ruefully. “That one tends to fall by the wayside at meals,” he admitted. “Now, I don’t expect you or the young man to contribute much, but I’m going to take your share out of Dominic’s hide. It’s not often I have someone I can rely on to have a look at our security arrangements and sort them out and help me train fighters and a myriad of other highly useful things.”

“If I might…” Adelle began. “May I call you, Gavin? I’m unaware of your surname.”

“Montgomery, but Gavin’s fine.”

“Your rules, other than the one about established couples seem … subjective. How do you enforce them?”

“There’s a tribunal that meets to hear disputes.”

“I see.”

Dominic recognized Adelle’s tone as unimpressed but was sure Gavin was swayed by her veneer of neutrality. Clients always were.

“Can I count on the three of you to abide by these principles?” Gavin asked. “And the one where the boy that came with you stays hidden?” Eyes suddenly darting around, Gavin rose. “I told you he had to stay hidden, Dominic. Where in the hell is he?”

“Hidden,” Topher said.

Tension draining from his body, Gavin smiled. “Evidently. Very well. Thank you for your cooperation.” No one moved until Gavin left the hospital. Topher skuttled further under the bed. Dominic prepared to stand, but Adelle turned her head up to him. “What happened between you and Haley?”

“I told you,” he muttered. “She wanted to pick up where we left off.”

“What does that mean, Laurence?”

Does she use my first name when she wants something? Damn, she doesn’t have to if she’s willing to look at me like that. He sighed. “We kissed a couple of times.” To his surprise, Adelle didn’t pull away. She must really be cold.

“And?” she prompted.

“And what?” he asked. Adelle merely raised an eyebrow. “It went no further than that.”

“Good.”

The word was spoken so softly; Dominic couldn’t even be sure he’d heard it.

* * *
“This is not a good idea,” Laurence said – his arms were crossed across his chest and just for a moment he was once more her head of security, making it clear he didn't entirely agree with her decision. “Sergei said you should rest.”

“Your objection is duly noted,” Adelle sighed and briefly regretted the passing of a time when her orders had been followed just because she had issued them. “I'm not suggesting a lengthy excursion – I just want to test my leg by travelling from here to there,” she indicated the other side of the truck.

“Believe me there's not much to see over there.” She resisted the temptation to persuade him with a look – either seductive or threatening and instead chose to appeal to his logical side.

“Presumably it would be useful to know if I can walk on it, in case I need to. I won't push things beyond that.”

“Across the truck and no further,” he said – stating his conditions.

“Agreed.”

He shook his head, but she knew she'd carried her point when he offered his hand to assist her to stand; steadying her as she grimaced. Her wince of pain had him tightening his jaw but he didn't say anything.

On one hand she was relieved to discover that she could put weight on her leg and actually manage to walk but on the other hand, doing so hurt, a lot. Clearly she was not going to be moving very far for a while.

“This is ridiculous,” she said when a few steps had her fighting exhaustion. “I was regularly running three miles or more on the treadmill.”

“Give it some time,” he advised, “you'll have plenty of opportunities to run once you get to Safe Haven – Caroline is pretty hot on making sure everyone is fit.”

“I can't wait,” she said dryly – the reminder that she was unlikely to be welcome at Safe Haven only adding to the feeling that she was redundant.

By the time she made it all to the opposite side, Laurence's arm was around her waist and Topher had crept out from under the bed to watch her progress. As she sat down carefully on the bunk Topher reached for her – tilting his head, trying to work out how to touch her without aggravating her injuries. Finally he decided to rest his head on her good shoulder. “You're OK,” he said quietly.

“Not quite,” she said. Both men were looking so expectantly at her she couldn't bring herself to disappoint them. “But I am feeling better.”

A loud claxon disturbed the moment and had Topher bolting for cover once more. “It means food's ready,” Laurence said, “when they're under attack it's a siren.”

The likelihood of an attack was apparently a real one; Gavin had made no bones of his intention to use Dominic to review their security and she had every reason to know that Laurence excelled at developing and implementing security protocols. However, she had not been pleased at Gavin's assumption that she had nothing of use to contribute.

When he returned a few minutes later her Doctor was clearly dismayed to find her out of bed and they debated the matter in a mixture of languages. Though her Russian was rusty she managed to get her point across. “You are a difficult woman,” Sergei announced, amusing Laurence if his smirk was anything to go by. “But you speak Russian like an aristocrat.”

The observation was a surprising one, since for the two years Adelle had lived in St Petersburg her tutor in the language had been a tiny septuagenarian who had made scores of unlikely claims about her past involvement with the upper echelons of the Communist party. She'd been a harsh task master, demanding and petulant, but very successful in helping her students grasp the language. Rossum had been pleasantly impressed by Adelle’s accomplishments, not just in terms of the language, and an early and significant promotion had followed.

It seemed more than a lifetime ago and she resolutely pulled her mind from the past in time to hear Laurence say, “I'll get some food.”

“Perhaps I should come with you,” she said – glancing over to the spot Topher had chosen as his hiding place. Sergei sighed, his eyes raised heavenwards – presumably at her continued disobedience.

“If he,” he pointed at Laurence, “carries you I will permit you to go. I will stay here with our friend; he is a less annoying companion.”

“He likes voices,” she told him, “talk aloud, or read – but don't get angry.”

“If you follow your Doctor's advice I have no reason to be angry.”

She hadn't really been prepared for the sight of over a thousand people descending to be fed; but at least now she understood why Gavin and Dominic had acknowledged the break down in discipline at meal times. She observed what was best described as organised chaos, from the relative safety of Dominic's arms. He didn't seem concerned about having to carry her, though she hated the perception of being an invalid.

“It's not for long,” he said reading the direction of her thoughts as he selected a quiet looking spot well away from the fray. “And no, you're not too heavy.” As he set her down carefully she swallowed her pride and forced herself to be gracious.

“Thank you,” his smile in response was just a little wry – as though he recognised the effort she was making and the reason it was necessary.

“I'll probably be a while – I'm going to grab Topher some food as well.”

“I don't think I can go anywhere,” she told him. She read the uncertainty in his eyes as he lingered – apparently unwilling to leave her. “Laurence,” she touched his cheek with her fingertips, “the sooner you leave, the sooner you'll be back.”

She watched his retreating back until the crowd swallowed him up and then settled down for a fairly lengthy wait. But there was plenty to absorb her attention - the encampment was noisy, bustling with a sense of purpose that still managed to be chaotic. The food distribution system contained a myriad of places where things had the potential to go awry and did as she watched.

* * *

Laurence Dominic picked up the largest sized tray and three bowls and some silverware. Wondering what Topher would like to eat, he waited behind an amazingly obese man, oddly grateful for the cover such bulk provided.

“Hey, Dom, it’s good to see you.”

Just able to curb the instinct to yank his arm from the grasp of the younger man grinning at him a little too widely for Dominic to believe he was completely sober. Drunk before dinner? Gavin’ll assign his sorry ass some seriously nasty duty if he finds out. Dominic said, “Hi, Matt,” balancing the tray on one hand to shake the hand Matt offered.

“Eating for three?” Matt asked, eyes alight with mischief.

“Serving two,” Dominic said, nodding to the woman proffering chicken stew of some sort.

“Back of the line, Matt,” growled someone behind Dominic.

“I’m not eating; I’m accompanying,” Matt said, smiling in a borderline obnoxious way at his challenger.

Glancing behind him to identify the disgruntled party—a shorter, wiry, intense looking man, Dominic sighed. The last thing I need is to be anywhere near a fight. Who knows what Gavin would do with that?

“Talk to your boyfriend some other time,” said the shorter man.

Looking to the heavens, smiling beatifically, Matt spun a full 360 degrees with arms outflung. “Christopher, my soon to be very sorry man,” Matt said, tone full on obnoxious. “Meet Laurence Dominic.”

Christopher froze, more than a hint of fear flying across his face. “No offense,” he said.

“None taken,” Dominic said. Seeing the natural antagonist’s mouth open for another salvo, Dominic commanded, “Leave it, Matt.”

Matt pouted for a full minute, allowing Dominic to devote his undivided attention to an odd assortment of food, little of which actually appealed to him at the moment. “So,” Matt began, banging his shoulder against Dominic’s lightly. “What’s this I hear about you coupling up with a pretty Brit?” When Dominic didn’t take the conversational bait, Matt continued, “I haven’t seen Haley since I heard the news about you. Wonder how she’s taking you playing right into Gavin’s hand like that. Seriously, dude, daddy wants his little girl to settle down and be a role model or good example or whatever the fuck to the other fine young women her age by having babies. He’s even got his future son-in-law all picked out. Kyle Monroe. What kind of pansy name is Kyle? Fits him, though. Kyle’s all, “Yes, sir,” and, “No, sir,” to Gavin. I think the old guy gets off on the respect.” Matt nodded his head, evidently agreeing with himself.

“Kyle freaking calls Haley, Miss Montgomery. Can you believe it? No wonder she rolls her eyes and keeps her distance.” Matt chuckled. “To daddy’s dismay, that fine child is so not ready to give up pursuing bad boys, no matter how long in the tooth they may be, and Haley’s not above telling Gavin that in public or very loudly in private, which amounts to the same thing if you think about it. They’re the irresistible force and the immovable object.” Leaning closer, lowering his voice, Matt said, “To tell you the truth, the battle has been fun to watch or overhear as the case may be. What’s the deal with you, though, Dom? I sure didn’t figure you for monogamy. Not with how hard you and Haley hit it last time.” Matt banged shoulders again, and Dominic grasped the tray tightly, using it as a surrogate for his temper. “Once she caught you with your guard down, that is.” Laughing at a joke only he understood, Matt gripped Dominic’s arm. “I have to meet this Brit of yours. She must really be something if you’re willing to forego the Haleys of our shitty ass, fucked up world for her.”

“Matt,” Dominic said, tone eminently conversational, “if you ever come within fifty feet of Adelle, I’ll kill you.”

“Dude,” Matt said, releasing Dominic’s arm, backing away a step. “That’s harsh.” Brightening suddenly, he said, “Must be love,” before turning tail and jogging to the back of the line.




  • 1
I love :) This part and part 3 and maybe also part 1 are my favourites so far! I've read this twice this afternoon already !!! I'm so happy you guys continue to write this pair!

Both Adelle and Laurence seem softer and more vulnerable in this story, while still retaining their bad-assness and intelligence which makes them so interesting. I can see that a shy Dominic is quite plausible and I like the way you guys have used the Attic scenarios to build his back story.

I'm worried about Adelle though ... I feel like she sees herself as being redundant by the time they get to Safe Haven. :s


I'm glad you are enjoying it. I'm going to have to go back to see exactly what's in part 3. The story tends to blur for me at times.

A shy Dominic was something I wanted to try to write and morgan72uk graciously indulged the attempt. I'm curious to see what folks think going forward.

Given the state of the world, I think everyone is a bit more vulnerable than before. It works for these characters in this situation, I think.

As to the Attic, I kept thinking that that sort of experience had to profoundly impact a person and trying to determine how. I'm pleased that the use of the Attic is working for others.

Adelle has some things to realize and change and grow through along this journey as well.

Thanks for reading!

Thanks for the feedback - Rogoblue did a great job with shy Dom and it was an interesting challenge to take Adelle on the journey where she could put the pieces together.
I think I was lucky that the concept that we started with, where Caroline didn't take Adelle to Safe Haven, gave me the chance to explore something slightly different with her character and gave us that sense of possible redundancy.

Thanks for writing! You are both great writers and I appreciate both your efforts. :)

You're welcome - glad you're enjoying it and thanks for the feedback.

Thanks for the kind words. We're glad there are still a few readers left for this sort of thing.

That was amazing.

I loved meeting Hayley (Hayley is awesome, especially with her sense of humour of getting Adelle Dominic;s newly cleaned shirt), I adored how close Adelle and Dominic are getting (sharing body heat!) and meeting the caravan.

Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!

I'm glad this part got off to a good start. It's always dicey introducing original characters that hang around in the story for a little while, because you're not sure whether people will have any interest in them. But the nature of this story dictates that Adelle and Dom will have to meet some people.

Kudos go to morgan72uk for figuring out such a practical and kind of sexy use for my little red pills.

I'm glad you like Haley. I wanted to give Dom someone really different from Adelle in his life.

Thanks for the enthusiastic response. The elevated body temperature was too good an opportunity to pass up.

I found Adelle's response to Haley interesting and challenging to write. Her lack of jealousy surprised me a lot and actually it was quite easy to take that further and conclude that she would actually be glad that Dominic had experienced some form of respite. But also that Adelle being Adelle would recognise that she wouldn't ever accept wearing him down, or catching him off guard. I think it really helped me have Adelle get to a place where she understood what a relationship between them would really mean. She hasn't shared that revelation... yet.

Quick service indeed!

There are lot's of goodies in this chapter!

The action flowed a lot better here. I like the scene where they abandoned the vehicle then shortly after were found by Lance. It was vivid, yet short and to the point. It was also great to see dom in "protective" action mode, it takes a strong will to carry anyone through the forest. Let alone the woman who ruined your life.

"She trusted you once, asshole."
--This is my favorite Dominic thought italic. He's smart enough to realize she played him, but humble enough to blame himself.

The physical closeness of their encounters is very refreshing. It's nice to read something that's not going the "will they or wont they" route, or even the "They'll be together but only in the end" scenario. Very well done you guys, keep it up!

Thanks for the kind words.

In all fairness, I don't think Dom thinks of Adelle as the woman who ruined his life anymore. So that might have made things a bit easier for him. I think protectiveness is inherent in the personality of this particular version of Dominic.

I think that quote was a recognition of the fact that he did hurt Adelle--perhaps not as much as she hurt him, but that the pain wasn't one sided.

The sharing of body heat wasn't my idea but it worked perfectly in the setting. I suppose there's a will they or won't they element, but they are (consciously or unconsciously as they case my be) growing closer on many levels--the physical simply being a manifestation of the other progress they're making.

ohmygosh, Matt, you are the most obnxiously awesome thing I've read in awhile. I simultaneously want to punch you and ruffle your hair all at the same time.

Also, TOPHER! Dearest Topher, I feel that you and River Tam should somehow meet up and run off to have insanely awesome adventures together in which you mess with people's minds and mutter to yourselves in languages only you too understand.

Also, SNUGGLING! Yesssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!

Also, I'm not quite sure how I feel about Haley yet...but the fact that Dom's had a younger lover amuses me quite greatly. I mean, why not? She's young, pretty, and interested and if the opportunity's there....

Not knowing what to say, Dominic offered a slight shrug to Haley’s expectant look. A bright sunny smile he hadn’t expected. “I wonder if she’ll share,” Haley said.

“Adelle flunked sharing in kindergarten.” He frowned as he pulled the T-shirt over his head. “Whatever they call it in England and I don’t think much has changed since.”


I love this whole little exchange. Dom's all, "Well, uh, yeah..." And then Haley's all "Fun times for all?" And Dom's like, "Heh, no. No, seriously, like you don't even understand no."

Also, the fact that Adelle's starting to stake her claim makes me giggle quite a bunch. "Good." Hee!

I'm totes having a blast reading and rambling on your fics, if you couldn't tell, lol. :)

I'm glad you're enjoying yourself. It's fun for me to reread this along with you.

As to Matt, I couldn't get through a story this long without having Dominic threaten to kill someone.

So long as Topher and River don't make babies. That would be truly scary.

Snuggling is always nice. Come to think of it, Damien should snuggle more. But I digress ...

Adelle might share Dominic but not with someone like Haley (more like someone who's equally damaged/dark). I'll be interested to see what you think of Haley going forward.

With a shy man, the woman has to kind of push things along. So ... Adelle is on the job!

On we go!

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