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Among Other Things
damien listening guitar
A pre-Topher era Dollhouse Christmas fic.

Title: Among Other Things
Rating: R (language and sexual situations)
Author: rogoblue
Summary: Once all the actives have been deployed, Christmas Eve goes from madly busy to incredibly quiet. Perhaps too quiet. You decide.
Spoilers: Minor for Epitaph 1—this is set in the pre-Topher era at the Dollhouse.
Words: 2,700
Disclaimers: The toys are Joss Whedon’s. The idea is mine. And it’s not even my fault. morgan72uk mentioned that she was thinking of a Christmas story and my mind followed obediently.

“Everyone’s in place, ma’am,” Laurence Dominic said, smiling through his fatigue upon entering Adelle DeWitt’s office from the private elevator. “Kurt is sleeping in the chair after three full days of imprints. The handlers of the actives who were imprinted early are insanely grateful that their engagements are finally underway. Everything’s quiet on all other fronts.”

“We need to improve the operation,” Adelle DeWitt said. “Two hours per imprint is too long. It’s time to find the person who can take the tech to the next level.”

“Is that strictly wise?” Dominic asked, coming to a halt a few paces from her desk, clasping his hands behind his back, discussing a topic he’d seen coming but had been dreading since he’d arrived at the Dollhouse eight months ago.

“Possibly not, but it would make days like today and a week from today far less frantic.”

“We survived this one,” Dominic said. “Barely. Tango’s handler would’ve dismembered Kurt for the pain he put her through if I hadn’t been there.”

“Am I to believe Mr. Carson failed to lay a finger on our intrepid neuroscientist, Mr. Dominic?” The humor in Adelle’s voice tested his stoicism.

“No.” Her wry smile dueled his slight smirk to a draw.

“You don’t care much for the science we do here, do you?”

“I don’t have to. My job is to ensure the tech is deployed properly and without risk to the security of this facility and everyone in it.”

Adelle nodded in acknowledgement, but her expression suggested her mind was elsewhere. “What will you do tomorrow, Mr. Dominic?”

Uneasy, Dominic adopted an ‘is this a trick question’ tone. “Oversee the seven imprints you cleared, ma’am. Unless there’s something else you need for me to do.”

“I suppose I was wondering if there was somewhere else you’d rather be.” Surprised, he failed to school his features, feeling the slight flinch. “Mr. Dominic?”

“No, no where.” Examining his shoes for scuffs, he said, “If that’s all, ma’am, I’ll call it a night. Should I have your car brought around for you?”

“No. You should tell me where you’d be on Christmas day in a perfect world.”

Green eyes captured blue. Dominic swallowed hard and searched his mind for a placating lie. Uncharacteristically, scarily uncharacteristically, nothing suggested itself. “Manhattan,” he murmured.

“Why there?” Adelle asked, expression one of avid interest as she rose and went to her drinks cabinet. “Who or what is in New York City?”

“My niece is six and her little brother is four. They still believe in Santa Claus and it’d be nice to be around that brand of innocence.” He gestured vaguely. “Hell of a contrast to this.”

“Take the private jet and go. Enjoy the day.”

Stunned didn’t come close to covering Dominic’s reaction. “I wouldn’t want to take the pilot and crew away from their families, ma’am.”

“Not even to be with yours?”



Dominic stared out the window at the lights of Los Angeles, wondering how he’d been drawn into a conversation touching issues he never let himself think about.

“Why, Mr. Dominic?” Adelle murmured, handing him a glass of what smelled like excellent single barrel bourbon, smiling as he redirected his stare to the beverage. “You are most decidedly off duty.”

“I’ll call your car around,” he said, turning away as he reached for his cell phone with his free hand. Adelle’s came to rest on his bicep. Against his will, his eyes raised to hers.

“Tell me why you don’t want to spend Christmas with your niece and nephew.”

Dominic sighed. “My father will be there. That’s never good. We make oil and water look like best buddies which totally upsets mom. The last time was enough to convince me I don’t belong there.” Voice dropping far lower, he added, “If I ever did.” Flipping open his phone, he muttered, “Satisfied?”

“Hardly.” Something in her tone, not quite amusement but close, drew his eyes again. “It has been a hellacious week and the next will be just the same. Sit and have a drink or two with me before you go, so long as you aren’t planning to surprise your family tomorrow morning by arriving shortly after St. Nicholas himself, no doubt.” Tempted and disconcerted, Dominic hesitated but ultimately followed Adelle to the couch and sat beside her at what he considered to be at an appropriate distance. “Why was the last time you were home for the holidays so dreadful?” Adelle asked.

“You first,” Dominic countered. “Where will you be tomorrow?”

“Where do you imagine I’ll be, Mr. Dominic?”

“Somewhere exclusive with some rich intellectual who bought you a hideously expensive, yet undeniably perfectly tasteful piece of jewelry for Christmas.”

Adelle DeWitt’s laugh relaxed Dominic slightly, giving him hope that he might survive this odd conversation relatively unscathed. “I’ll be here as you will,” she said. “I haven’t the option of a family gathering and have declined the few invitations that might have made your prediction come somewhat true.”

“Gracefully?” he asked, sipping his bourbon.

“When dictated, yes. When not …” Adelle’s shrug was somehow both eloquent and elegant. “Clive Ambrose was tediously insistent and had to be told, “No,” loudly and repeatedly. At one point, Judith felt it necessary to intervene.”

Dominic’s back muscles tightened. “She should’ve called me. It’d have been my pleasure to deal with him.”

“Oh, that wouldn’t have done for Judith,” Adelle said, smiling in a way that intrigued Dominic. “She wanted to witness his humiliation at my hand, rather than merely observing the aftermath or a physical confrontation with someone in vastly better shape.”

“Ambrose is a prick.”

“A useful one,” Adelle said.


“I was not speaking of taking the man to bed, Mr. Dominic, and you bloody well know it.” Frowning fiercely, she said, “For that remark, for even the thought of making that remark, I should rescind your Christmas bonus and have several of your men toss you out into the street.”

“But then you’d have no one to drink with,” he said, amazed that she raised her glass in his direction and drained it, rather than making good on her threat or delivering a scathing retort in her cultured accent. Uncomfortable with the silence that fell, Dominic said, “You gave me a bonus? Why?”

“Why else?” Adelle said, picking up a piece of paper and a pen from the coffee table and writing something. “For excellent job performance and in lieu of a boring corporate Christmas gift.”

She handed him the paper. Dominic stared at it in disbelief. “A half million dollars?” he whispered.

“Perhaps I wanted to make an impression upon you.”

“You’ve succeeded,” he said, mind turning briefly to the investments he could make with the windfall. In retrospect, Dominic blamed the financial planning for the question that started all of the trouble. “So where would you be tomorrow in a perfect world, ma’am?”

Perhaps in reply, perhaps not, Adelle rose and refilled her glass, bringing the bourbon bottle back to the couch with her. She sat and drank steadily, clearly at ease and obviously considering. Dominic held his breath. “At home, in bed with an intelligent man who knows what I do and understands why.”

The question, “Why won’t you be?” floated in his head but Dominic said, “Isn’t there anyone meeting those criteria in your life?”

Regarding him closely, Adelle smiled slightly. “No one other than you.”

Dominic almost dropped his bourbon, amusing Adelle considerably. “That’s not true,” he managed. To her inquiring raised eyebrow, he said, “I don’t understand why you do what you do.”

“Don’t you?”

The gauntlet thrown, Dominic tried to determine what taking it up would mean. Adelle leaned back into the couch and slowly, deliberately and sensuously crossed her legs. Ignoring the answering tightness in his groin, Dominic took a chance. “You agreed to run the LA Dollhouse, because you don’t trust most of your counterparts or Rossum upper management.”

“What possibly could have given you that idea?” Her whisper drew him closer, inviting confidences, giving permission to speak frankly, if he could manage to string words together.

“The distance you keep from everyone your level or higher. The rigorous vetting process you have in place for clients. The … this isn’t the right word, but I can’t think of a better one … nurturing way in which you approach the actives, before and after they sign on the dotted line. An exorbitant bonus for me fits the profile.” Stepping with even greater care, he said, “Among other things.”

“You’re more perceptive than you choose to appear, Mr. Dominic. I can’t help but wonder why.”

“Security people respond better to toughness and stoicism.”

“I am not a security person.”

“That’s why I allow myself to be openly perceptive in front of you from time to time.”

Adelle laughed. “A closet perceptive man. You intrigue me, Mr. Dominic.”

“Beats boring you beyond tears.”

“Indeed,” Adelle observed as she refilled the glass he hadn’t realized he’d emptied. “To continue the fine tradition of not boring me, tell me about your last Christmas with your family.”

Dominic took a sip of alcohol for fortification, mildly surprised by feeling a little buzzed until he recalled he’d eaten nothing since a hasty breakfast of some oatmeal and an apple. “I was living in D.C. at the time and I flew in with my lover. Kelly is quite a bit younger and flat out hot, a clear trophy for a guy like me. We’d been together a while and I’d met her family so … I thought it was time to for her to experience mine.” He sipped. “It didn’t go well.”

When Adelle placed her hand atop his, the warmth of hers drew Dominic’s attention to how cold his were. She said, “What went wrong?” in that warm, of course I’ll understand voice she used with clients. Not for the first time, Dominic felt the power of it.

“My father happened,” he said, firmly determined to leave it at that.

“What did he do?”

The alcohol burned pleasantly heading down his throat. Adelle waited expectantly and Dominic experienced an overwhelming urge not to disappoint her. “Recited the litany of my failings from birth to that date. Not all at once,” he said, struggling a bit to clarify. “At random times throughout the weekend, he’d drop another bomb, tell another embarrassing story. Pissed mom off, because she was clearly having visions of additional grandchildren. My brother just tunes him out. My sister-in-law hides in the kitchen. Kelly tried to defend me, but that just greased the skids.”

“You lost your temper.”

“Mistress of the understatement. I went off like a missile.” He drained his glass and held it out for a refill. “Woke up the baby and everything.”

“It’s been some years then?”

“Yeah. Kris—the little brother—was a baby still.” Sighing, Dominic said, “I vowed never to make that mistake again, but … part of me wants to, at least at Christmas.”

“Whatever happened to Kelly?”

“She didn’t want to move out West and I wanted the job I had before this one too much to let something like geography and a woman stand in my way. Then this opportunity came up, so I’m still out here and she’s still in D.C. We talk a couple of times a month on average. I’m not sure why, neither of us really says anything.”

“You miss her.”

Making a dismissive gesture with his glass, Dominic said, “What I miss is having someone to come home to sometimes.” Blinking, he sat up straight and put his glass down. “I can’t believe I just said that out loud. I need to grab a bite to eat and get home.” Rising to his feet, Dominic felt the liquor going to his head. “And call your car around. I’ll do that first.”

“Mr. Dominic,” Adelle said, rising gracefully, obviously not impaired in the least, “I’ll have someone bring us a light snack. Will that serve?”

“I should go.”


“I’m going,” he said, convictions firm, decision made. “I’ll just head down through the main building. Walking to the garage outside will clear my head.”

“All right,” Adelle said, taking his arm, walking with him. “I’ll let you in on a little secret before you leave, Mr. Dominic. Clive Ambrose desperately wanted me to walk him to the door.”

“Why?” he asked when they stopped before it.

Adelle looked up. Dominic followed her gaze. “Judith’s idea of a joke,” Adelle said. “Mistletoe in my office? I mean, really.” Smiling, she said, “And yet traditions are traditional for a reason, Mr. Dominic.”

“Right,” he said, imagining what his NSA handler would think of him standing beneath mistletoe with Adelle DeWitt and, far more dangerously, of how following tradition might feel. “Tradition … um … yeah.” Dominic took a deep breath and closed his eyes when the delicate feminine fragrance she wore wafted over him. “Just because something’s traditional doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.”

“True enough,” Adelle said, sidling closer, resting a hand on the lapel of Dominic’s favorite suit jacket.

“We work too closely together, Ms. DeWitt.”

“To kiss?” she prompted as she slid her free hand behind his neck. “Once,” she whispered, “under a time honored circumstance?”

Caution gave way to her slightly parted lips. His reticence fell to stunning green eyes alight with promise. Common sense lost its way in the long tense moment before his lips met hers. Adelle’s open mouth lured Dominic’s tongue out to be tempted and tantalized by hers. One set of fingers entangled in his hair, keeping his head where she wanted it, the other slithered down to his belt buckle, drawing a soft groan and an unsuccessful attempt to pull back. She pressed her body against his and Dominic’s responded with what ought to have been embarrassing alacrity, but somehow wasn’t. When he gripped her hips, the feel of silk beneath his hands made him crave the touch of bare skin. Her skin. Adelle fucking DeWitt’s skin. Alarm bells sounded in his mind but her mouth muted them even as her hands and body sunk a hook of desire tinged with danger deep within Dominic.
Finally, she relented, tilting her head back a few inches to regard him, their bodies maintaining full frontal contact. “A very fine tradition,” she said, smiling in a way that could stop traffic.

“I’ll call your car,” he murmured, the instant he caught his breath, only to have his respiration rate elevated by Adelle’s fingernails dragging along the line of his throat.

“I’d rather you gave me a lift, Mr. Dominic.” Her smile got sexier somehow; her fingernails migrated to his abdomen and Dominic’s knees nearly buckled. “Among other things.”

Adelle’s description of a perfect Christmas sounded loud in Dominic’s head. “At home, in bed with a man who knows what I do and understands why.”

“Ms. DeWitt, I—.”

“Unless you’re bourbon impaired, of course,” she said, smile sliding toward a smirk, hand never ceasing to stimulate, “but I must say I don’t get that impression just now. Still and all, if you don’t feel comfortable operating a motor vehicle, I’ll call a taxi rather than test the limits of my driver’s discretion.”

“I … I’ll be fine as soon as I can breathe again, but are you sure you want—?”

“Mr. Dominic, I make my living ascertaining what people want.” Dominic couldn’t help but think of how transparent he was in that regard at the moment. “How sad would it be if I had no insight as to my own needs?” Adelle said. “In this particular case, I desire to steal a few hours with someone whose company I enjoy before returning to the tasks at hand.”

“A few hours,” Dominic said, knowing he should be conducting a cost-benefit analysis with regard to sleeping with Adelle DeWitt, even on a one off basis, but her body called to his, her hand demanded that he respond and the recollection of the taste of her mouth threatened what little control he’d managed to maintain.

“If you feel you can spare the time, of course,” Adelle said, tone light, teasing and in no doubt as to her eventual victory. “You do, don’t you?”

“Just the once?” he asked, blood pounding through his veins.

“Of course,” Adelle said, “I have no wish to sexually harass you.” He recognized her placating tone and fought the urge to allow himself to be convinced. However, vague thoughts of his mission were no match for the increasingly urgent and insistent demands being made by his body. “Take me home, Mr. Dominic,” Adelle said, order and invitation all rolled into one.

“Yes, ma’am.”

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You're welcome. This one was fun to write, partly because what emerged was so different from what I thought it was going to be when I began.

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