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Road Trip Part 12/12
damien listening guitar
rogoblue
Title: Road Trip Part 12/12
Rating: R (language and sexual situations)
Author: morgan72uk and rogoblue
Summary: Dominic and Adelle deliver Topher to Safe Haven.




Safe Haven. It was an irony that the place named to represent a beacon of hope to so many was the exact opposite as far as she was concerned. As they drew ever closer to their destination Adelle found herself shutting down, marshalling her defences the better to face the battles to come.

The sombre mood effected all of them – with Topher burying himself in blankets and feigning sleep and Laurence shooting her looks that spoke of his concern. Even Jenkins seemed nervous as he tried to process what he had been told about the place and its inhabitants. His confidence had grown following the part he had played in locating the last of the Rossum agents; he'd fairly glowed when Laurence had complimented him on staying sharp. She wanted to help him build on that confidence, so he was better equipped to find and hold a place at their destination – but she couldn't free herself of the knowledge that her support would be of no use to him there. He'd be far better off under the wing of the man that Caroline seemed to trust, even though he maintained a stubbornly independent view about her in return.

By the time Laurence took another booster and announced they were about a mile from the compound she'd determined that she was as ready as she was ever going to be. The people who awaited her were never going to welcome her, the only reason she had for wishing to communicate with them was to assure Topher's wellbeing. She would have Laurence to offer an outlet for her frustration and a voice of reason – that would have to be enough.

“Adelle?” She understood what he was concerned about – the woman who had begun this journey had cared very little for her own life and overcoming that sense of hopelessness had been a difficult struggle, one that he had helped her to win. She didn't think either of them was keen to see her lose the ground that she'd fought so hard to gain.

“I'm ready.” She offered only the truth, the honesty between them was too important for her to try to placate him with more.

Laurence had been accurate when he had said that at Safe Haven the security was better than the farming. When they arrived in front of the ramshackle farmhouse there were at least a dozen people awaiting them, their weapons drawn. But the fields they'd passed to reach the house had been full of weak, struggling crops. Caroline needed more farmers and fewer fighters if she was going to feed everyone.

Topher panicked at the sight of their reception committee – bolting for cover in the confined space of the Jeep even as Laurence leapt out to exchange greetings. In the face of a full blown Topher meltdown Jenkins asked worriedly, “what shall I do?” She didn't think this was the best moment for a lesson.

“Go and say hello, I'll take care of Topher.” Out of the corner of her eye she saw the tall man and dark haired woman approach Laurence, but Jenkins had followed her advice and she climbed over the seats to get into the back – reaching her charge as the panic attack took full hold.

She rubbed his back, murmured quietly to him and encouraged him to get his breathing under control. She ignored the pain in her shoulder when one of his flailing arms caught an area that was still tender and generally made every effort to pretend that a dozen armed men and women along with the woman who had left her to die weren't outside the Jeep. “I don't want to be here,” Topher sobbed into her lap, “I want to go back.”

“It's safe here,” she told him, pushing his hair back from his forehead, using her best soothing tone. “You want to be safe, don't you?”

“I want you to be safe.”

“Do you think Laurence will allow anyone to harm me?” He considered her question for a moment, then shook his head. She considered it progress when he shifted to peer around her and look outside.

“Is she Echo? I liked Echo.”

“She's a little bit Echo, but she's Caroline as well – mostly Caroline.”

“Bennett did that, because I asked her to.”

“I know sweetheart,” she followed his gaze and met the dark eyes that once had been bright with innocent curiosity but now burned with – well, hate was perhaps too strong a word. By all appearances the conversation with Laurence was quite animated – she could only imagine how it was going. Well, she wasn't going to cower in the shadows and wait to find out. “Are you ready to get out and say hello?”

“No,” stubborn toddler to the fore then. She couldn't blame him, all of that scrutiny from all of those people was enough to upset someone far more stable than Topher.

“If your people have nothing better to do than stand here gawking at us I'm not surprised your crops are in such a poor state,” she said as she stepped out of the Jeep – her body shielding Topher from view. She lifted her head, meeting at least one furious expression and was immediately grateful for the inches she had over Caroline. The years of experience helped as well – enabling her to behave as though she were a monarch visiting the estate of a less than favoured retainer.

“Topher requires a quiet room with a bed he can sleep under; he is perfectly happy to share with Mr. Jenkins if that makes it any easier. He doesn't like new people but if they are introduced slowly he can tolerate them – some he will even come to count as friends. If you tell me where he will be sleeping I may be able to persuade him to leave the Jeep – but he won't move with all these people standing around staring at him.”

“Hello Adelle, how have you been?” Paul Ballard's quip fell into the strained silence like a stone and he almost recoiled from the withering look she sent in his direction.

“I'll be considerably better once someone gives the order to send the crowds about their business. We aren't a side-show at the local fair.”

* * *
Well, that went less than well. Laurence Dominic sighed, watching Adelle and Jenkins coax Topher out of the Jeep. “You wanted Topher,” he said to Caroline. “There he is. You didn’t want anyone else. Too bad.”

“I won’t have her in the main house,” Caroline all but hissed. “But Topher has to be there. I want him close.”

“That won’t be too much of a problem, once we get him from the Jeep to wherever you want him to bunk.” To consternation from Caroline and cautious optimism from Ballard, Dominic said, “Once the panic attack passes, Jenkins can take over. He’s good with Topher, but he hasn’t had to deal with him in a confrontation before. As an added bonus, Jenkins is good in a fight, keeps his head and stays sharp.”

“Who laid him up?” Ballard asked.

“Butchers.”

“And the guys with him?”

“Left him behind to face two with a leg fractured in three places.”

“Jesus.”

“If the two of you are done with the male bonding moment,” Caroline interjected, “maybe you can tell me what in the hell I’m supposed to do with Adelle DeWitt, Dom.”

“Not a damn thing,” Dominic said, wondering how long it’ll take Adelle to move and calm Topher. “She’ll be heading to greener pastures once Topher is settled in here.”

“And where might those be?” Caroline asked, shoulders, if anything, more tense than before.

“What do you care?” Dominic countered, crossing his arms in front of him, reflecting how seldom he used this gesture when he wasn’t at Safe Haven when he spotted the amusement in Priya’s eyes as she hovered behind Ballard.

Caroline shrugged. “And before she rides off into the sunset?”

“She can stay with me,” Dominic said, enjoying the varying expressions of disbelief more than he should.

A wry smile on her face, Priya joined the group, eyes on Dominic, hand extended. She bent her fingers inward a few times in a give it over gesture. Dominic shook his head. “Not this time, Priya. I’m not staying long.”

“You’ll stay long enough to come down.”

“I’m not sure that—.”

“You’ve been gone a lot longer than you anticipated,” Priya interrupted, voice calm and reasonable. “Too long to have been using those. You know that better than I do. Let me have the boosters, Dom,” she said, reaching into the jacket pocket where she knew he kept them to take the bottle. Dismay surging to the fore, she whispered, “Have you upped your dose again? You promised you wouldn’t.”

“There were extenuating circumstances, Priya.”

“You always say that.” Dominic knew the concern in Priya’s eyes was genuine. “If you don’t slow down, you’re going to kill yourself with those things.”

He smiled. “You always say that and I’m still here.”

“Thank God,” Priya whispered, pulling Dominic into a hug.

“DeWitt’s going to stay with you,” Caroline said, regarding Dominic and Priya as though they were the stars of a particularly interesting stage play. “How does that work?”

“The … uh … usual way?” Dominic ventured.

“After what that woman did to you?” Caroline said.

“Twice,” Ballard added.

“Someone once said to me, water, bridge, under.” Pleased at the slight smile he’d drawn from Caroline, he gestured to encompass their immediate surroundings. “It’s pointless to hold grudges when the world is in a hand basket well on its way to Hell.”

“Funny,” Caroline muttered, “I didn’t get the ‘I’m fine with the whole Attic thing’ vibe from you when I asked you to go and get Topher.”

“I’ve had a lot of time to think about things.” He kicked a small stone. “She’s different. Hell, we’ve all changed. The past is over and done. And the world has sure as shit moved on. What’s the point of trying to live in terms of what came before?”

Priya kissed him on the cheek and whispered, “Get some rest.”

Dominic followed Priya’s eyes and saw Adelle emerge from the farm house. She paused briefly on the front porch and surveyed what she could see of Safe Haven from there. To Dominic’s eyes, Adelle looked less than impressed. Her gaze found his and Dominic tilted his head fractionally. Taking the hint, Adelle approached, stride confident, yet measured, as though she was on display to her less than adoring public, which he supposed she was. “How’s Topher?” Dominic asked.

“He asked me to ask you if you really said, ‘Boring conversation, anyway,’ or if you made that up just to test his knowledge,” Adelle said.

“Better, then,” Dominic said. “Good.” Shocked looks all around again. I’m on a roll. When Adelle reached the group, Dominic put his hand on the small of her back. “I’ll get your pack. We’re heading off that way.” Before Adelle’s look of alarm could fully form, Dominic pointed and said, “It’s not far. The gray house at the top of that rise.”

Quickly grabbing his duffle bag and Adelle’s pack from the Jeep, Dominic listened to Priya and Adelle exchange civil greetings and felt the rising tension in the silence from the others. “Ready?” he asked.

“Yes, Laurence,” Adelle said, relief evident in her bearing if you knew where to look, but the use of his first name ensured no one else would be looking.

“Dom,” Priya called when he and Adelle had moved away a few steps. “I have the boosters you had in your house as well.” She grinned impudently. “Just so you aren’t tempted.”

He frowned but had to smile when Priya laughed. That’s a sound not heard too often anymore.

* * *

It wasn't a house exactly – the small one storey building had obviously been built for farm workers to use. It just about had two rooms – the larger one holding a mattress, a ramshackle table and a chair. Adelle stood in the doorway, relieved to be away from the main house and watching as Laurence opened the few windows and thumped the mattress to dislodge a layer of dust that wasn't as thick as she had feared.

Half her mind, perhaps more, was on Topher who'd set up camp beneath one of the beds and had immediately dragged his action figures out from the backpack so he could play with them.

“Hey,” distracted she didn't realise that Laurence was standing in front of her until his hands settled at her waist. “He's feeling better,” he reminded her. “Before you know it he'll be covering the walls with strange symbols and trying to teach Jenkins how to build a nuclear reactor from whatever bits and pieces they can scavenge.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” she asked as she yielded to his slight pull and settled her body against his.

“It's supposed to remind you that we got here, more or less in one piece – that there are any number of people to help take care of Topher and that you and I are all alone, together.”

She inhaled his scent, slowly trying to dispel her concerns about Topher, to forget how Caroline's reaction had unsettled her, how even Priya's seeming familiarity with this man had given her a fleeting moment of jealousy. “So, I should focus on the positives?”

“That's how I'm reading it.” She considered that while her hands slipped under his shirt to caress his back.

“Did Priya confiscate all of your boosters?

“Probably not – I have a few stashed, I can take...” she shook her head, “or not.”

“You should rest while we're here, I was merely ascertaining how long it was likely to be until your system shut down for – 36, 48 hours?”

“Maybe 36,” he conceded, “but we have a while yet.”

“Excellent,”

“Excellent?” At her slow nod he smiled, “I know that look – what are you planning?” She tilted her head, considering, before beginning the not so arduous task of slowly undressing him. “Adelle?” His hand was buried in her hair as she pushed his shirt off – he hesitated over releasing her for long enough to pull his arm from the sleeve, but her slight, teasing kiss seemed to be enough in the way of persuasion.

“I'm considering what I need to do to inspire you to focus all of your attention on me, for the next few hours at least.” His grin was definitely wolfish as he caught her wrist in his hand.

“I probably shouldn't tell you that you won't have to try very hard,” he informed her. “But I know that you like to be thorough – so I look forward to your best efforts and I promise to repay them accordingly.” His hands framed her face, thumbs brushing her temples as he leaned forward. She stretched to meet him and what followed was a slow sensual dance of a kiss – full of promise and replete with the luxury of time.

* * *
Holding the door to the main house open for Adelle DeWitt, Laurence Dominic tried to recall the last time he’d felt this relaxed and completely sexually satisfied. Motivating himself to walk the short distance down to dinner had been well nigh impossible, until Adelle put on the form-fitting, low cut, black tank top Haley had insisted he give her. Dominic knew Adelle had made some disparaging remark about men, when his eyes fixated on the way the shirt displayed her breasts, but he hadn’t exactly been listening.

Adelle smiled up at him as she passed and his thoughts returned to how she’d taken charge in bed, insisting that he let her do most of the work the first time. She’d kept him on the edge for an obscenely long time, all the while whispering promises of good things coming to those who wait and delivering on all of them.

“We saved you seats,” Topher announced, gesturing grandly to the two chairs between him and Jenkins—a scenario that should have been embarrassingly reminiscent of junior high school, yet wasn’t.

“Thank you, Topher,” Adelle said, tone light, casual, but Dominic heard in his head the breathless, post-coital whisper in which she’d spoken to him after he’d reciprocated her outstanding effort as best as he could. It had been immensely gratifying to see her flush with pleasure, tension gone, smiling in an utterly genuine manner.

As Adelle added, “It was kind of you to think of us,” Dominic held her chair for her out of one of the many habits ingrained in him by his fraternal grandmother.

“Knew you’d be late,” Topher said, garnering a sharp look from Caroline and a politely inquiring one from Ballard. Priya merely smiled. All of the others at the table looked puzzled, uncomfortable or both, making Dominic wonder what else Topher had been saying.

Dominic settled in next to Jenkins and accepted the platter of chicken the younger man offered him, selected a drumstick and passed the platter along to Adelle. Feeling eyes on him, Dominic concentrated on filling his plate.

“What took you so long to get back, Dom?” Priya asked, barely beating Caroline to the conversational punch.

He shrugged. “Road trips often take longer than you think they’re going to.”

“Adelle got hurt,” Topher offered, gaze drifting along the far end of the table—Caroline at the head flanked by Priya and Ballard. “JJ too. We had to hide me.”

Tapping Jenkins on the forearm, Dominic whispered, “JJ is you?” When the kid nodded, Dominic allowed himself a moment to consider what Jenkins’ actual first name might be.

“She slowed you down.”

The edge in Caroline’s tone drew Dominic’s attention back to the conversation. “I don’t recall a time limit,” he said, leaning back in his chair, not intending to telegraph how good he felt at the moment but realizing he might have.

“Did she slow you down or didn’t she?”

Glancing at Adelle, he said, “Yes and no.” Gaze lingering on Adelle, he said, “But what does it matter? We’re here. The delivery’s been made. Rossum didn’t win this one. Rah, rah, go team, and all that.”

“Is this some kind of joke to you?” Caroline demanded and would’ve risen had Ballard’s hand not clamped down on her shoulder.

Wondering if Topher would remember how he’d answered when asked a similar question on the day everything went to hell for a certain NSA agent at the Dollhouse, Dominic said, “Notice, I’m not laughing. What I am doing is wondering if there’s actually an issue on the table or if you’re trying to manufacture one. If there is an issue, spell it out. If there isn’t, eat your dinner.”

“Have you even considered that she might still be working for Rossum?” Caroline asked, tone reasonable, leaning forward, spearing him with compelling eyes. “That there might have been a very good reason for slowing you down.”

“Please,” Dominic said, taking a taste of what turned out to be passable beer. “I’ve been doing this since before you first noticed boys were different. I considered both of those things.”

“And?” Ballard prompted.

“She’s not and she was more pissed off than I was about the delay.” Eyes cutting to Adelle again, he added, “At least at first.”

“What changed?” Ballard asked, hand still firmly on Caroline’s shoulder.

“She found she had something valuable to contribute where we sought refuge and that took a lot of the sting out of staying put.” Dominic sighed. “Would it be too much to ask for you to question Adelle directly? I’m out of practice at being her mouthpiece.” Dominic was grateful he didn’t hear what Adelle murmured under her breath. Her enigmatic smile and Topher’s giggle were information enough.

“How can you be sure she isn’t Rossum?” Caroline asked, shrugging her shoulders hard to remove Ballard’s hand.

“I can’t prove a negative any more than you can, but she doesn’t act like it and we wouldn’t be here if she was. There were simply too many opportunities to act in furtherance of Rossum’s interests, if that had been her plan.”

“What if Rossum isn’t really interested in Topher?” Caroline pressed. “What if their real target is you, Dom?” Caroline smiled at the start of surprise he didn’t bother to mask and at the withering glare he imagined on Adelle’s face. “Didn’t think of that, did you?”

“No,” he admitted. Turning to Adelle, smirk sliding onto his face, Dominic asked, “Am I your target, Adelle?”

“I believe I addressed that very question exhaustively over the last several hours.”

Their eyes met and held. “The operative word being exhaustively,” he said.

“I need a moment, Dom,” Caroline said, rising, throwing her napkin on the table. “In private. Now.”

Dominic copied her dramatic gesture down to the trajectory of his napkin. “Sure,” he said, squeezing Adelle’s shoulder lightly. She rested her hand briefly atop his, gazing up at him, expression flickering between concerned amusement and amused concern. He winked before donning a bland expression and following Caroline.

She whirled on him when they stepped into a small parlor. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Shrugging, he countered, “What the hell do you think I’m doing?”

“You’re sleeping with her.” When he didn’t react, she continued, “After what she did to you, how can you stand to look at her, much less get naked and sweaty with her?”

“I think we’ve been over this. Water, bridge, under, remember?”

“Are you forgetting who we’re talking about? All turning the other cheek will get you is that one slapped too.”

“That would be my choice to make, wouldn’t it?”

“Dom, I get it, ok.” Caroline began to pace. “She’s attractive enough for someone your age, but—.”

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” he demanded.

“The pickings get slimmer as time goes on, but—.”

“My last lover was ten years younger than you and a damn sight more diplomatic.”

The surprise flew across Caroline’s face quickly, but Dominic saw it. “Why aren’t you making babies with your sweet young thing, then?” she asked.

“First, this is none of your business. Second, Haley isn’t interested in babies at this point. Far more importantly, I want someone with more substance.”

“Adelle DeWitt is dangerous,” Caroline said, expression practically screaming, “you stupid, stubborn overgrown boy.”

“So am I,” Dominic said.

“She’ll destroy you.”

“Maybe.”

Caroline emitted a sound of sheer frustration. “There are people out there who count on you, Dom. What about them?”

“I have no intention of letting anyone down. I just … I have an anchor now. A reason to keep on going. I think I need that.”

“Wasn’t the sweet young thing reason enough?”

Dominic looked away. This conversation was heading somewhere he had no intention of allowing. “No,” he murmured. “She wasn’t.”

“Dominic—.”

“If there’s nothing else, I’m starving and my dinner’s getting cold.” Waiting only milliseconds for a reply, Dominic turned on his heel and returned to the dining room.

* * *

Adelle nudged at the arm draped across her waist and when it didn't shift she lifted it and carefully negotiated her way out of the loose grasp she'd been held in. Laurence didn't stir – he was dead to the world; the steady sound of his breathing had accompanied her early morning musings for the last hour or so.

He had been fading fast the previous evening as they’d returned from the excruciating meal at the main house but he had managed to stay awake for long enough to tell her about his conversation with Caroline, or most of it anyway. She had no doubt that he'd kept a few details to himself but she hadn't found it necessary to push for full disclosure. Instead they'd sat outside with a bottle of Bill's home brew and watched the stars – she'd curled into his embrace, surprised at how easily being there came to her, while they had talked about nothing in particular in a comfortable and desultory fashion. Finally the yawns had overtaken him and she had suggested that they go to bed.

He'd woken her a few hours later - ardent and aroused and she'd willingly participated in a bout of love-making that had made up for in urgency what it lacked in finesse. But the effort had stripped him of his last resources of energy and shortly afterward he'd fallen into a deep and exhausted sleep.

When she'd awoken it had been tempting to stay put but she'd managed to persuade herself that the sooner the day began, the sooner it would be over. She had a list of tasks to accomplish and though she could add to it issues such as finding out where Anthony had gone and how Priya felt about her pregnancy, she'd decided that such questions were none of her business and so were better left alone. It made sense to maintain a low profile.

Forgoing breakfast, even a cup of tea, she skirted the main house and slipped into one of the smaller outbuildings that Laurence had pointed out as housing the community's laundry. She didn't expect anyone here to undertake her washing, she was prepared to labour to obtain clean clothing – a fact which would probably surprise many people.

The offer of another pair of hands was accepted readily enough and by lunchtime the bundle of hers and Laurence's clothes was being dried. She politely declined the idea of going to the main house for lunch and instead feeling like a ghost or perhaps a criminal, she crept upstairs to find Topher.

Her arrival gave Jenkins, she wasn't sure she could bring herself to follow Topher's example and call him JJ, an opportunity to slowly head downstairs to meet more of Safe Haven's residents. As she watched his progress from the window she smiled as several other young people gathered around him - obviously asking about his injuries. She expected that his tale would gain him a cachet with them that he had lacked at the caravan.

Topher wasn't much in the mood for conversation – preferring to hum to himself while he played with his action figures. He seemed happy enough to have her there, patting her gently on the shoulder from time to time and occasionally stroking her hair. When Jenkins returned with a sandwich he pointedly pushed the plate in her direction and watched expectantly while she ate her half before picking up his own.

She knew that she ought to at least broach the subject of her departure, begin to prepare him – but somehow she couldn't bring herself to. Instead she retreated, creeping back through the house, encountering only Priya who let her pass with nothing more than a wan smile.

The women in the laundry were busy and for lack of anything better to do she offered to help for the rest of the afternoon. She enjoyed the ribald humour and the complete absence of any talk of the fight against Rossum. Children ran in and out, getting underfoot, there was gossip, idle chatter and she learnt more about life at Safe Haven than Caroline would perhaps wish her to know. The women she worked beside cared only that she was competent at the tasks they assigned her, they seemed to have no idea who she had been and what she had done. The knowledge that she was 'Dominic's woman' and that she had arrived with 'the genius' made her an object of interest, but they didn't push for answers. There was more than enough gossip to keep them entertained.

She had dinner with them – they refused to take no for an answer and actually the atmosphere away from the house was lighter, reminding her a little of the caravan – although the feel was more familial. It was evening by the time she returned to the house, carrying the bundle of clean clothes and wondering if Laurence would let her keep his shirt.

He was still asleep but someone had evidently paid them a visit - the table now sported a jug of water, a few pieces of fruit and a book – a well thumbed copy of Madame Bovary. Priya's work she decided and didn't complain as she settled down to read for a few hours.

Laurence was still asleep the next morning, but her new friends at the laundry had found her some exercise attire. Since there was no one around to tell her she should still be taking it easy she decided to test her thigh with a run before it got too hot.

The path was well trodden and as she started cautiously she could easily believe that Caroline required physical fitness in her fighters. A slight incline pulled on her thigh muscles but she kept moving – relieved that a couple of weeks without running hadn't rendered her completely out of shape. The track took her to the edges of the compound and then back towards the house; she was grateful when the end came within sight. But as she passed the house a tall figure rose from the porch.

Paul Ballard didn't seem surprised to see her, holding out a cup of water. “It's not poisoned, I promise,” he said when she hesitated, just briefly, before accepting it. She nodded, taking refuge in her breathlessness rather than replying and drank the water, stretching as her muscles cooled and her thigh twinged a little more.

“How's the thigh holding up?” The wound was covered, so she raised an eyebrow wondering how he knew. “Topher said you were hurt and you're favouring it slightly. What happened?”

“A sniper, courtesy of Rossum,” she told him tersely.

“You were lucky it wasn't worse.”

“It was bad enough.” Nothing good would come of telling him that Laurence could have left her to die and concentrated on getting Topher to Safe Haven but that instead the two men had carried her to the caravan and a good Doctor. “What is it you want, Mr Ballard?”

“What makes you think I want anything?” He left the 'from you of all people' off the end of the question – but she heard it anyway. She waited him out; there was always something. “It occurred to me that you're a source of valuable intelligence about Rossum.” Her lips curled into a smile, because only last night they'd thought she was a Rossum spy – perhaps they still did and this was a test.

“My intelligence is a little out of date.”

“But you know Harding and the others.”

“So do you and Caroline.”

“I think you probably know them better, or differently.” There was very little arguing with that and she was marginally impressed that he had thought to ask the question in the first place.

“What do you want to know?” It was a brief conversation, possibly more of an interrogation. She had no reason to hold back what she knew but Ballard's mistrust of her meant that his questioning was sharper than her co-operation warranted. She didn't call him on it, just as she didn't ask if Caroline knew what he was doing.

“Dominic's a good man,” he said at last – a change of subject she had no interest in countenancing.

“I didn't agree to discuss him with you,” she said as she pushed herself up from the porch in a prelude to walking away.

“If you're playing some kind of game with him there are a lot of people who won't be too happy.” She sighed and turned back to face him. He looked as though he thought he was doing the right thing – but then in her experience he often did. His level of moral certitude was quite astounding at times and was one of the few things she wasn't surprised to learn had survived the apocalypse.

“Have any of you considered that it might not be a trick or a game?”

“Priya,” he admitted, “she thinks it's for real.”

“Well, good for her.”

“You're not capable of caring for someone else Adelle, not without damaging them.” He sounded so calm, so convincing – all of his instincts as a profiler no doubt supporting his hypothesis and if you ignored the fact that he didn't know her, he perhaps had a point. “I don't doubt that you think this time it will be different – but you don't have it in you.”

“I'm not minded to take advice on my feelings from a man with a hero complex as extreme as yours. You don't have the capacity to understand my relationship with Laurence and neither of us have anything to explain to you.”

She strode past him into the house, startling Priya in the act of clearing the table. Priya opened her mouth to say something but then apparently thought better of it – Adelle assumed that meant that her expression was one which discouraged conversation. Grateful for the respite she hurried upstairs, taking a couple of calming breaths before heading into Topher's room.

“Dom's still out?” Jenkins asked, looking up from his comic.

“Apparently.”

Her attempts to cover over her agitation were clearly fruitless as without moving from under the bed Topher said, “you're sad.”

“I'm fine,” she settled onto the bed, “are you coming out?”

“Not unless you tell me who made you sad.” She exchanged a weary glance with Jenkins, who shrugged in a way that screamed, 'it's always easier to give into him.”

“Mr. Ballard and I had a few words,” she offered.

“I don't like him,” Topher announced, then as he emerged from under the bed he added, “I'll tell Dom.”

“Please don't.”

He sighed heavily, bottom lip protruding. “You're leaving aren't you? When Dom goes?”

“I can't stay here sweetheart.”

“Can I come with you?”

It was the conversation she'd been dreading and when she stumbled back to the house several hours later she was drained from the weight of it. Her eyes were dry and gritty from the tears she had tried hard not to shed and her mood had plummeted even further. Despite her best efforts and the support of Jenkins, Topher was far from any kind of acceptance about her departure.

What she wanted to do was fall back into bed and join Laurence in sleep. But the mattress was empty and the man in question was seated at the table leafing through the book she'd been reading the night before. Sitting there, wearing only his jeans, he looked sleepy and rumpled and on another day she'd probably be tempted to tumble him back into bed. But today wasn't a good day and his smile of welcome died when he saw her expression.

“Addie?” She didn't have the energy to do anything but tell him the truth.

“Topher knows I'm leaving, he wants to talk to you. Once you've done that I'd like it if we could get as far away from here as possible.”

* * *

“Ok,” Dominic said, rising, aborting his reach for Adelle before he touched her, warned off by the sharpness in her expression. “I have to recruit a few people to make sure we can access what we need to get a vineyard up and running, but that won’t take long. The family I have in mind has been looking for an excuse to bail for a while.” Blinking several times, trying to clear his head, he said, “We’ll be underway soon, Adelle. I promise.” He didn’t understand the complicated expression on Adelle’s face. Man of action to the core, he kissed her on one cheek, stroking the other lightly. “I’ll just grab a shirt and head off to—.”

“May I have that one?” Adelle asked as he lifted the shirt she’d worn to face off the pheremonals from the clean pile.

“Sure,” he said, holding it out to her, baffled by the lightening of her expression by the gesture. “Sorry I unfolded it,” he said. “I’ll just wear this one.” Her sudden smile put Dominic a bit off balance as he pulled on a forest green T-shirt. “Addie?”

“I love that shirt on you,” she murmured, lifting her face to his.

“Why?” he asked before he kissed her soundly.

“Because it leaves nothing to the imagination,” she said, pressing her body to his, calling his attention to how tight the T-shirt was.

“If you keep tempting me, we’re never going to get out of here,” Dominic said, affirming his words by holding her close.

Adelle pressed her hands firmly against his chest, moving her upper body away from his, but not before he saw that her eyes had gone somewhat wild. Her moods don’t usually turn on a dime. What’s going on?

“I need to be away, Laurence.”

Dominic tapped the tip of her nose with his forefinger. “Then away you shall be,” he said, waving as he released her, forcing a smile. Anger searching for an outlet as he wandered along the slope to a house about a quarter of a mile from his, Dominic wondered what had happened to Adelle while he was coming down from boosters.

The front door of his destination opened before Dominic knocked and the ensuing negotiation met his parameters perfectly—Edgar, his wife Madeline and sons Edwin and Evan would join him and Adelle. Edgar and Evan would go to Los Angeles and bring Tate and Daniels to Sonoma. Madeline and Edwin would rendezvous with the caravan and trade with Haley for the list of supplies Dominic and Adelle had worked up during the ride from the caravan to Safe Haven. They would recruit a few more people from the caravan as well, giving Adelle a start up work force and a known quantity in liquor producing if Bill agreed to join their endeavor. Dominic would see to security until Tate arrived to take command. The arrangement wasn’t ideal, but it had as much safety built into it as Dominic could devise.

Taking a breath, Dominic prepared to face Topher, to the extent such a thing was possible. Stepping into the main house, Dominic almost ran in to Priya. “Hey,” he said, steadying her. Eyes dropping to her belly, he said, “You look phenomenal.”

“I look fat,” she countered.

Risking everything, he rested his hand lightly on her stomach. “Fat is nowhere near this firm,” he said. “Does Tony know?”

“No, and I will kick your sorry ass into next year if you tell him.” She sobbed, stepping into his personal space. “If you should happen to see him in your travels.”

“My lips are sealed, if you’re sure you want them to be.”

“I am.” Priya took a deep breath. “He’s gone to be a tech-head, Dom. I can’t accept that. Not after … everything.”

“Ok.” Dominic pulled her closer. “Is there anything I can do for you?”

“Be happy.”

“Huh?”

“Everyone thinks Adelle is just waiting for the right time to rip out your heart and feed it to you in bites too large for you to comfortably swallow,” Priya said. “I know you’re smarter than to fall prey to that. More careful. More … reticent.” She laughed. “They’d realize it too, if they took a moment to think. Adelle DeWitt did unspeakable things to you. If you’ve managed to get over it, there’s something solid between the two of you. Something enviable.”

“She did what she did. I haven’t forgotten and she hasn’t apologized. But so did I to her and I won’t say I’m sorry either.” Dominic sighed. “But, now, Adelle … well, she does things to me that I can’t deny, Priya,” Dominic admitted. “Good things.”

“And you’re going to take her away from all of this.” She gestured expansively to their surroundings and sobbed again. “Lucky her.”

“Adelle’s going to make wine.”

“No shit?” Dominic nodded and Priya smiled.

“I think we can make that happen,” he said. Shrugging, he hugged Priya harder. “With a little luck.” Schooling his features to impassivity, he said, “Work with me here. What happened while I was out?”

“Adelle did fine,” Priya said, smiling big. “She’s a dab hand at laundry and every woman there wanted to know what you’re like in bed.”

“Christ,” Dominic muttered, but refused to be deterred. “She was upset when she came back to my place a little bit ago. Do you know why, Priya?” She averted her eyes and Dominic grabbed her chin to reverse the maneuver. “Why?” he demanded.

“Ballard accused her of playing you,” Priya said, “and of being incapable of being with you without hurting you.

“What?”

“Adelle was more vociferous in her own defense,” Priya said. “And in making it clear that you were a big boy and capable of taking care of yourself.”

“Ballard needs to right his own ship.”

“Preaching to the choir, Dom,” Priya said. “But he doesn’t have a shot. Caroline won’t let him in until it’s too late. Everyone gets that. Everyone but him.” Priya kissed Dominic on the cheek. “You, on the other hand,” she began. “You have a beautiful, intelligent and willing woman sharing your bed.” Lowering her voice, she murmured, “Go you.”

Eyes dropping to her stomach, he said, “You and Tony shared something significant.”

“Remains to be seen,” Priya said. Her eyes narrowed. “Did Caroline give you the baby making lecture?” He nodded. “Fuck that,” Priya said. “Be happy. Be content. Be fucking sated every chance you get.”

“You sound like Haley,” he murmured.

“Whom I must meet one day,” Priya said. “Anyone that young who got to you in a serious way would definitely be an interesting person to know.” Sighing, Priya pulled back slightly.

“You’d like her,” Dominic said. “Adelle did, kind of despite herself.” Putting his hands on her shoulders, Dominic looked Priya in the eye. “Do you want me to tell Tony you’re pregnant if I see him?” He smiled at her pained expression. “I know you said, “No,” before and I was listening, but maybe—.”

“No.”

“Ok.” Dominic looked to the staircase.

“What’s going on, Dom?”

“Topher wants to talk to me.”

Priya laughed. “Take your marching orders like a man, Dom.”

“From an insane genius?” he asked. “He’s liable to tell me to eat lime Jello every day for six months.”

“I think Topher’s genius tends more toward Cheetos.”

“You may be right.” Dominic released Priya and faced the stairwell. “I know you probably have any number of well meaning advisors, but don’t listen to them,” Dominic said. “Trust your instincts and that you know what’s best for you and your baby.”

“I will, Dom.”

“You’re the only thing I’ll miss about this place.”

“What?” Priya asked, smiling. “Not the against all odds forays against Rossum? You’re not going soft on me, are you?” Smile shifting to a smirk, she said, “Or, more importantly, on Adelle?”

“Not going soft.”

“Good. Goodbye, Dom.”

“Goodbye, Priya.” Their eyes locked as she backed away three paces. Dominic’s attention returned to the stairway. “Here goes nothing,” he muttered, discovering that the first step was indeed the hardest. Before he knew it, Dominic was at the door beyond which Jenkins and Topher now resided. A monumental effort opened the door. Dominic sighed at the mess of comic books, action figures and random odds and ends of he knew not what.

“It’s the JJ and T-man show, you all,” Topher announced from beneath the bed. “Hark, who goes there?”

“Dominic,” he said, gratified by the immediate appearance of the more reluctant star of the show. “You wanted to see me, Topher?”

“She’s leaving with you.”

“Yes,” Dominic said, knowing there was no confusion as to who “she” was. “She isn’t welcome here.”

“She is, but not by the people who count,” Topher countered, sitting cross legged on the floor in front of the bed he’d chosen. “She should be.”

“A lot of things that should be, aren’t,” Dominic said, glancing briefly at Jenkins, perceiving the sympathy flowing from that direction.

“Don’t make her sad.”

“Understood,” Dominic ventured.

“She likes being with you. Don’t leave her alone too long.”

Disconcerted by Topher’s perception that he would have to leave Adelle alone in order to fulfill his other obligations, Dominic said, “I’ll try not to.”

“No other women.”

“Do I look like I have a death wish to you?” Dominic smiled at Jenkins’ chuckle and Topher’s reluctant shaken head.

“Catch her up on pop culture, particularly science fiction.” Topher looked around the room as if in fear of spies. “Do you think she’s seen Alien?”

“No,” Dominic muttered. “I’ll scare up a DVD from somewhere.”

“She’s English. She needs to see John Hurt having the alien baby the hard way.”

“Agreed,” Dominic said, seeing the tears forming in Topher’s eyes, vowing silently not to mention that to Adelle.

“And Buffy,” Topher said. “She needs to see Buffy slay some vamps.”

“Got it,” Dominic said. “Anything else?”

“Use your judgment,” Topher said. “Just don’t hurt her or let her hurt you. Ok?”

“Ok.”

“She likes inappropriate starches and soft clothes.”

“I’ll do my best to provide a steady supply of both,” Dominic said, wondering if Adelle was aware of how closely Topher observed her.

“Don’t lie to her again.”

“I won’t.” Dominic wasn’t prepared for the man hug Topher gave him, thumping Dominic’s back as though his life depended on it. “Seriously, Topher, I won’t.”

“Take care of her and yourself and visit occasionally.”

“I will. Um … we will.”

Wiping his eyes with his right hand, Topher said, “I’ll find out if you treat her badly and I’ll make your life pure living hell. Even from a distance. I’ll find a way. I swear.”

“And rightfully so.”

“Use the Force, if necessary.”

Not dwelling too much on what could be interpreted as an extremely mixed metaphor, Dominic nodded solemnly. “Of course.”

* * *

They sat on the porch, side by side, her hand tightly clasped in his. Dominic was busily organising their departure while Caroline watched his efforts from a distance, her body language and facial expression making it clear that she was unhappy. Adelle tried hard not to enjoy thwarting her, but the younger woman had given her no quarter and Adelle had never claimed to be a saint.

She was tempted to try once more to reach out to her, to put an end to the enmity, but she knew she would be wasting her breath. Besides, she was far more concerned about how she left things with Topher.

“I don’t like wine,” he said fretfully, “can’t you make something I like, soda maybe?”

“Just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean that other people won’t,” she pointed out.

“Are you going to be all right, surrounded by all that alcohol?” She should have been embarrassed at the reminder of her weakness, of her fall. But it was different coming from Topher, who she had allowed to become much closer to her than almost anyone.

“I think so,” he deserved more of an answer than that. “I’m not going to drink the product – I’m not that desperate or out of control.”

“And you have Dom to look out for you,” she raised an eyebrow, because it wasn’t up to Laurence to fight her demons but Topher had moved on. “You should find some new people to look after, you need to look after people; you’re better at it than you think.” She rather doubted that was true, but she didn’t want to argue about it. “But they can’t be like me.”

“There is no one like you,” she pointed out. Taking a deep breath she added, “if you need me I’ll come back. But if you really need me Topher, not just because your T-shirt has a hole in it or you’ve lost one of your action figures.”

He moved forward so they were almost nose to nose and gazed earnestly at her. “We broke the world,” he whispered, “but I’m going to fix it, I’m going to figure out how to put all the pieces back together and when I do then I’ll need you, whether Caroline likes it or not.”

“You have a deal.” He nodded, apparently content with her answer and then buried his head in her shoulder. She squeezed his hand and made herself fight back tears; she couldn’t cry yet, she had things that she needed to tell him. “You’re very important to me,” she murmured – stroking her hand through his hair, “and you’re safe here. I need to know that you’re safe.”

“I’ll miss you,” he told her.

“I’ll miss you as well, very much.”

“I’ll be good,” he promised, which made her laugh a little. He looked up and smiled at her, “maybe not too good.”

She thought about the arrogant, childish young man who had walked into her life all those years ago. He’d been demanding, ebullient, disparaging of others – including the man who she was leaving with. She’d seen that young man fall to pieces, played a part in his destruction even and the man who sat beside her now was someone emerging tentatively from that wreckage. He was a shadow of his former self perhaps; still childish, demanding and at times selfish. But there was love and humanity in what remained, as though the trauma had distilled his character down to its purist form.

She let her eyes stray to the man standing by the Jeep; Laurence was trying to keep his concern under control and only because she knew him well could she tell that he wasn’t entirely succeeding.

“Is it time for you to go?” Topher asked, following her gaze.

“I think so.”

“Let him give you things,” Topher said, nodding towards the man in question. “I think he likes giving people things – but he’s never really had the chance.” It was a startling insight and as she turned it over in her mind she realised just how accurate it might be.

“I’ll try,” she offered.

“Don’t keep him waiting,” he told her, tightening his hold on her hand and then letting her go. She wasn’t sure that the double meaning was deliberate – but with Topher you could never be sure.

She pulled him close and pressed a quick kiss to his forehead. “Take care Topher,” she said as she pushed herself to her feet, finally failing to keep her tears at bay.

“Remember, you’re Adelle DeWitt,” a quiet voice whispered from behind her and those were the words which gave her the strength to start the long walk across the patch of ground that lay between her old life and her new one.

* * *

Laurence Dominic finished packing the Jeep and walked two circuits around it as though he were a minion deployed to ensure Adelle DeWitt’s departure proceeded without delay. “Hey,” called a soft voice.

He stopped, smiling. “Hey, yourself, Priya,” he said. Priya held out a small box. Dominic took it and peeked inside. “Is this all of them?” he asked, lifting a bottle of boosters from the box.

“Plus a few extras that are supposed to be awesome,” she said. “You can thank LaDanian the next time you see him for the purple ones.” Priya smiled. “I think he gives new product to you first to get an endorsement or something.”

“Or something,” Dominic muttered, fitting the box in and among the rest of their stuff. “Thanks, Priya.”

“You’re welcome,” she said, kissing Dominic lightly on the cheek.

“Leaving so soon?” Caroline said, tone hard, forceful, clearly that of a leader who doesn’t approve of an action of someone she views as a subordinate.

“I have plenty to do,” he said, feeling the weight of Caroline’s unspoken expectations descend upon him as Priya retreated with a small wave. “Nothing of which I can accomplish from here.”

Dominic’s eyes drifted to Adelle DeWitt’s approach as Caroline said, “You just arrived. People will wonder why you’re leaving again so soon.”

Ballard arrived at Caroline’s side. “We could use you for something we have in the planning stage, Dom,” he said.

“No one will think twice about me leaving,” Dominic countered. “Everyone knows I’ve just completed an operation for you and it’s painfully obvious how you and Adelle feel about each other.” He glanced to Ballard. “I pick my missions carefully these days. At the moment, I have one that I can’t put a timeline to, so I can’t commit to anything beyond running my circuit again as soon as I’m able.” Looking past Caroline and Ballard, he asked, “Are you ready, Adelle?”

“I am.”

“Everything ok with Topher?” he asked, taking Adelle’s hand, drawing her to the passenger door of the Jeep, ignoring Caroline’s rising tension.

“As well as can be expected, I suppose,” Adelle said, keeping her attention firmly fixed on Dominic.

Backing her up against the vehicle with his body, Dominic said, “He had no problem telling me what he expects.” Pleased at the ghost of a smile, Dominic cupped her chin in his hand, tilted her head up and kissed her, slowly, methodically, making a statement with his lips not only to Adelle. “I have no problem with complying.”

“He provided me a set of instructions as well,” Adelle said, her arms draped comfortably over Dominic’s shoulders.

“That would be more impressive if Topher wasn’t a negative number on the Kinsey scale,” Dominic murmured, fingertips grazing Adelle’s cheek.

“There aren’t negative numbers on the Kinsey scale,” Ballard observed.

“Only because Topher wasn’t available to interview,” Dominic said, stepping back, wrenching open the passenger side door of the Jeep. Smirking, he took Adelle’s hand. “My lady,” he said, “your conveyance is ready.”

“And my driver?” she asked, to his surprise allowing him to assist her into the Jeep.

“I await your pleasure, ma’am.”

“As do I, Laurence.”

He laughed, closed Adelle’s door and moved around the front of the Jeep. Caroline grabbed him by the bicep, half spinning him around. “She’s playing some sort of game, Dom,” Caroline said.

“I like it, so far.”

“She’s luring you in,” Caroline insisted.

“To what?” Dominic said. “What could she possibly be luring me into? A few more weeks on the road, maybe. A bit of boredom while she sets things up and I wait for my relief.” Dominic’s eyes flicked to Ballard. “If she isn’t luring me in to more sex than I have any right to expect, I’ll be bitterly disappointed.”

Ballard chuckled, igniting Caroline’s temper. “That’s all it takes?” she hissed. “She spreads her legs for you and you’re her tame assassin.”

“It took a bit more than spreading her legs to tame me.” Resisting the urge to involve Ballard in the moment, Dominic focused on Caroline. “She does this thing with her tongue that’s … well, beyond compare doesn’t quite cover it.”

“When you start thinking with the part of your anatomy that lives between your ears rather than below your waist, come back to us,” Caroline said.

“When you stand down and get some balance in your life, maybe I might,” Dominic countered, silently thinking that Ballard seriously owed him one. “Try not to lose too many people in the interim.”

“Will do,” Ballard said. Caroline simply glared.

Dominic couldn’t help but think Adelle’s glare superior as he pulled himself up into the Jeep. Eyes locking on Adelle’s, he said, “We’re off to see about a winery. You didn’t happen to spot a yellow brick road nearby, did you?”

Adelle looked from her left to her right and solemnly shook her head. “Which way should we go?” she asked.

Watching her closely, Dominic said, “Some people do go both ways.”

“Fortunately, we’re not ‘some people.’”

Slipping the Jeep into gear, Dominic said, “And that is precisely why you’re going to be fine.”

“We are.”

“I wouldn’t go that far.”

Adelle rested a hand lightly on his right thigh. “You don’t have to, Laurence. I will. I’ll make the bold prediction for the both of us.”

Buoyed by the conviction in her tone, Dominic pressed down on the gas pedal and started them down the road away from Safe Haven. Some might find the step ironic in the extreme. To Dominic, it felt both right and necessary. From Adelle’s words and the way she was focused forward, he knew he wasn’t alone.


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I absolutely teared up when Adelle and Topher were saying goodbye. I just couldn't help it. I actually had to stop reading cuz everything was getting a bit too blurry. That might've been my favorite part of this last chapter, and possibly the entire fic, but I've gotta say that I LOVED how confident Dominic was when they got to Safe Haven and how he just sort of took lead and made it known to everyone that Adelle and him were together and that he wasn't going to be taking shit from Caroline. &hearts I really, really loved this chapter. It was so perfect! This entire fic is perfect!

Well, it's far from perfect, but thank you for the kind words.

I know that making someone cry is a good thing, but morgan72uk gets all the credit for that scene. I can take some for Dominic's attitude and the tongue in cheek aspects of "What in the hell do you think I'm doing?" and "Am I your target, Adelle?" I think Dom had to do this because he, better than anyone, knew what was potentially coming.

I think, "Remember, you're Adelle DeWitt," might be one of my favorite lines in the entire thing.

Thanks so much for reading. I'll try to get the epilogue in shape for next week.

Excellent chapter, I am definitely sad to see this end.

I love how everyone but Caroline (and to some extent Ballard) welcomed Adelle to Safe Haven. I also loved that Topher gave Adelle and Dominic his blessing to leave (and advice)and that Dominic was able to rustle up some help for the Vineyard.

There is an epilogue that I'll try to prep for next week, but I enjoyed writing this story, partially because I didn't have to do it all.

Caroline and Ballard were who they were in the show to me--a bit obsessive and believing that they were right and everyone else wasn't. I did enjoy the fact that the rank and file of Safe Haven had no trouble with Adelle. I thought the whole laundry thing played beautifully (although I can take no credit for that).

The advice from Topher, I thought was funny and I don't recall whose idea that was. I liked Priya's observation that Topher's genius tended more toward Cheetos than Jello.

I think Dom would've known who wasn't exactly happy in Caroline's kingdom, since he wasn't. So that worked for me that he could get some folks to help.

Thanks so much for sticking with us through this.

morgan72uk and I are NOT thinking about a plot bunny she threw my way earlier today (or maybe yesterday). Really not thinking about it at all, except to sort of outline what happens. Sigh. Sooner or later, I'll be ready to leave this fandom/pairing alone.

(Deleted comment)
Thank you for reading it and consistently taking the time to comment. This was fun for me, because there is both a freedom and a trepidation of writing with someone. First, you don't have to do it all. Second, you don't have control of what transpires and have to adjust. But the third thing, the hardest thing, never happened in writing this. There are times when writing with someone else that the effort is so skewed that it's not fun. NOT this time.

There were a lot of emotions in this chapter and I think both morgan72uk and I thought the Safe Haven piece would be longer until we got there. Adelle had no place there. Dom did but didn't want one. Topher needs to be there and it would suit Jenkins. It was surprisingly easy to deal with it all relatively quickly.

Topher and Adelle--I can take no credit but I agree with you wholeheartedly.

On to the epilogue.

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!!

(Anonymous)
(My reaction upon seeing this post)

And now I will read this and be sad that it is over. :(

Re: YAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!!

Sorry. Didn't mean for that to be anonymous.

morgan72uk and I are NOT thinking about a plot bunny she threw my way earlier today (or maybe yesterday). Really not thinking about it at all, except to sort of outline what happens.

I have to say, I got quite excited when I read this! I hope something comes to volition because I'll be here to read. Even if it doesn't though, you guys are awesome!

There's a bit of debate at the moment, but we appreciate your willingness to read. Thanks!

Okay, so I waited for the entire fic to be posted because I have to read everything in one sitting or else I'll forget about details and it'll make me confused and... confused.

Anyway, I love how you two unraveled the story and developed the relationships of Adelle, Dom, Topher and everybody around them. The banter between Adelle and Doom are most excellent and your Topher is both charming and heartbreaking.

I also love the background you gave to Adelle and Dom, that Adelle doesn't know anything about Star Wars (or anything Topher-genre-related) and that Dominic told her the story and just <3 (and I wonder where we all got the idea that Adelle hasn't watched Star Wars and that Dominic is somewhat of a Star Wars geek)

May the force be with you
And also with you


And the ending. I think Paul is a little bit okay-er than Caroline, but since Paul's basically attached to Caroline's hip... well, you know.

Adelle. Dom. Vineyard.

Overall, excellent story. Kudos to rogoblue and morgan72uk. I'm looking forward to the epilogue. :D

Confusion is not good, far far better to wait.

Adelle and Dom seemed to want to talk in this story, which is good because they needed to. Topher just emerged. There was really no planning regarding him (or none that I specifically recall anyway). I liked how he evolved as well.

I can't see Adelle as a pop culture woman and I think people took "There's more to Laurence Dominic than barking orders and waving a gun around" so making him a fan of something seemed appropriate.

Ballard did nothing for me as a character but, as you say, he is Caroline's man so ... it is right and proper for Adelle to go forth and become a vintner.

Thanks for the kind words. I really do need to get cracking on editing that epilogue. Really.

Aw, yay. :) I really enjoyed this. And I actually like Ballard when you guys write him! ;)

Wow, you like Ballard when we write him. Really? I don't. I took a dislike to that character and I never could shake it.

Glad you enjoyed it. I think the moment depicted in your icon might just be the very instant I first thought, "What if ...?"

Thanks for sticking with us.

And the horse they rode out in

I have to say it was hilarious when they rode out of Safe Haven. I mean, they risked life and limb to climb into the safety of the village (and I get that it was all for Topher) but just to turn around and say sayonara so abruptly was awesome and funny at the same time.

I didn't think it was possible for Caroline to annoy me any more than she did on the show. Yet you guys sure proved me wrong. My god she just couldn't keep a lid. I commend Dom and Adelle for even staying as long as they did I would've kissed the door and been on my way the second she started talking.

I loved Topher's comment about her being surrounded by booze, I was thinking the same thing. Lol, there would be way to much Vodka to miss.

Overall it's a great end to a very entertaining journey. Thank you both for a fun and sophisticated read.

Re: And the horse they rode out in

They both knew Adelle wouldn't have a place there and Dom wanted Adelle so ... We're off to see about a winery.

All of my biases against Caroline are exposed here for all to see. It felt really good to do it. With Caroline trying to give Dom advice and him giving her much better wisdom in return. Not that she'll listen.

As to the wine, I think Adelle is in so much of a better place now that she has someone to care about that booze has become a non-issue.

As Road Trips go, it was a long and difficult road, but ultimately rewarding. Glad you enjoyed it. Btw, I love when the word sophisticated is bandied about about something I had a hand in writing. Thanks.

SAFE HAVEN! ...is not actually safe or a haven...for anyone besides Topher.... :'( But yay, because now Dom and Adelle are off on their merry way! :D

“Hello Adelle, how have you been?” Heh. Oh Ballard, you are an idiot. Have your one line of awesome and enjoy it.

No! No more Boosters, Dom! I'm with Priya! I sense a heart attack in your future! ...or in mine...probably more in mine.

Also, I kinda really liked that Priya and Dom bonded. :) They're an oddball pairing, but it's fun how you made them work together. I love that Dom knows how much he's risking my touching her belly.

*blah, blah, blah, Topher is awesome, blah, blah, blah* But he saved them seats! And calls Jenkins JJ! Oh Topher! *pinches cheeks* Using the Force to hurt Dom! !!!!

Also, “It’s the JJ and T-man show, you all,” Topher announced from beneath the bed. “Hark, who goes there?” And if this were back in the lab, he would totally have a long-suffering Ivy doing a drum roll before he popped out magnificently. <3<3<3

“She’s attractive enough for someone your age, but—.” Ha! This whole little exchange amused me much, much more than it should, with both of them pulling out the age cards and waving them around. Hee! Oh Caroline, your snippiness cracks me up. I know she's not your favorite character, by far, but I like the occasional wittiness that peeks through her bitterness.

Sleeping!Dominic! Adelle taking his shirt! Sleepy!Shirtless!Dominic! ladjsakdjaslkdjsadjaslkdja!!!!!!

“Remember, you’re Adelle DeWitt,” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, yes, yes, YES!!!!!!!!!!! *\o/* Words cannot express how much power there is behind that line! !!!!!!!!

And then they drove off together and Adelle is all "We will be fine because I said so, so there" and Dom's all "Okay. :)" And I'm all ":D" and there's an EPILOGUE! !!!!

You made it all the way through! Other than the epilogue.

Ballard was, I think, my least favorite character. I like to make his freakish hero complex completely transparent.

Dom and boosters kind of peacefully coexist. I do agree with Priya, though. Every time Priya was a competant professional (safecracker and spy), they seemed to ping off of each other a little bit, so ... I tend to make them friends.

I miss Topher of the saving seats and the hiding under the bed. I truly do.

Dom and Caroline snarking at each other--a reprise of their fight in Spy in the House of Love, kind of.

I like Dom sleepy. Not sure why. But I really really do!

That was a great line--Topher to Adelle--fitting to be the last one.

Off into the sunset they go. Hopefully not too sappy a finish.

Thanks again for taking all the tiime with this.




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