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Riding a Bike (A Between the Lines Episode)
damien listening guitar
rogoblue
Title: Riding a Bike (A Between the Lines Episode)
Rating: R (language and sexual situations)
Author: rogoblue
Summary: In morgan72uk’s Between the Lines universe, A chance to strike a blow at Rossum presents itself and all sorts of personal business gets done.
Spoilers: I’m not sure, but I doubt it matters.
Words: 8,600
Disclaimers: The toys are Joss Whedon’s. The idea is mine based upon the lovely template of morgan72uk.
Dedication: To she of the aforementioned lovely template on her birthday. Does this mean I have until Christmas to do something else?




“Hello, Laurence,” Kilo said, tightening the belt of a royal blue silk robe around her waist. “What brings you all the way down here?” The actives who didn’t live off site had suites on the level below the common areas. Anthony and Priya had a small house in the hills, so Laurence Dominic had, in fact, never before ventured this far.

“Um … you,” he said, suddenly thinking his idea a bad one. “Sort of,” he muttered, wondering if a moderately graceful way to retreat existed.

“Come on in,” Kilo said, stepping aside to clear the doorway, obviously amused but trying not to show it.

Dominic stepped across the threshold far enough to enable Kilo to close the door and no farther. “This is probably a horrible idea, but Priya and Tony have invited me to dinner tonight. I don’t want to be a third wheel and you weren’t on today’s engagement sheet, so I thought I’d ask if you want to go with me.” Her smile hovered somewhere in the neighborhood of sly. “To even up the numbers, you know, not because I expect anything.” Dominic closed his eyes briefly before soldiering on. “Don’t feel obligated. I’d totally understand if you have other plans or if you’d rather not.”

“What time?” Kilo asked.

Relief relaxed Dominic’s shoulders. “Tony and I will be leaving in forty five minutes or so.”

"Is that what you’re wearing?” she asked, her small hand resting on the tie of her robe as though eager to change.

Looking down at his light gray suit, blue button down shirt and the Italian silk tie his tailor had talked him into buying to wear with something else entirely, Dominic said, “I thought I’d lose the tie and maybe the jacket but, otherwise, yeah.” Not sure how to interpret Kilo’s silent appraisal, he said, “I could change into something more casual if you prefer.”

“You’re nervous.” Kilo stepped in close and fingered the lapel of Dominic’s suit jacket. “I didn’t think you’d be nervous.”

“The women here are more than a little out of my league,” Dominic said, shrugging, striving for charming hesitance rather than bumbling idiocy. “Asking one out is … risky.”

Adelle DeWitt’s clipped British accent sounded in Dominic’s head. “Fraternization between actives and handlers is not encouraged, Mr. Dominic.”

“I shouldn’t be,” he said, determinedly not dwelling on the moratorium on fraternization between lowly handlers and the facility’s director and how he breeched it in small ways nearly every chance he got. “It’s just that … I’d rather not go alone and we get along so …” Kilo’s gentle stroke of his cheek allowed him to leave his sentence unfinished.
“I’ll meet you on the main level in forty minutes, Laurence.”

* * *

“Why do you have to go?” Topher Brink asked, waving his hands in the air with the usual drama. “Send a minion to soothe the ruffled feathers of the heathen who has no appreciation of artistry. Echo, as Natasha, is a masterpiece. Oh, man, so is Kilo.” Topher stared over the balcony. “Red is her color. Totally.”

Against her better judgment and while wondering why she’d felt the need to lie about where she was going, Adelle DeWitt followed Topher’s melodramatically pointed finger. Short spaghetti strap dress molding to her form, Kilo swayed across the atrium, smiling big, closing in on Anthony and Laurence Dominic. She grasped the railing tightly. She’d warned Dominic away from Kilo and he’d tested Adelle’s discipline and eroded the boundaries of her personal space at every opportunity. Now, as Anthony jutted his chin slightly in Kilo’s direction, Dominic turned and spotted the petite, barely clothed active. Adelle had no trouble reading, “Oh my,” on Dominic’s lips. Anthony’s obvious amusement and lack of surprise stoked Adelle’s ire. Topher’s groan of agony made her slightly sick to her stomach.

“That’s an ‘I’m being polite before heading off to make some rich guy jump for joy’ smile she’s beaming at Dom, right?” Topher squeaked.

“Looks more like ‘I’m happy to have the night off,’” Ivy said, joining them at the railing. Ivy’s immediate grasp of the situation below and hurried worried glance at her brought emotions Adelle didn’t have time to address to the fore.

“Let us hope Kilo enjoys her free evening,” Adelle said, eyes boring into Topher’s, “because it’s the last she’ll have in some time.”

Clicking his running shoe clad heels together, Topher saluted. Not sparing another glance at the beginnings of what certainly looked to be a date below, Adelle headed to meet an old friend whose presence in Los Angeles filled her with a deep sense of foreboding.

* * *

“I’ll fetch Priya from her studio,” Anthony said, smiling. “I’ll only be a few minutes. Make yourselves at home. She has some wine breathing on the bar. Have some, so she won’t think she’s failed as a hostess.”

“Sure,” Laurence Dominic said, glancing at Kilo. “Do you want a glass?”

“Please.”

Dominic focused on the simple task of pouring wine in the slightly uncomfortable silence, realizing how Tony had carried the conversation in the car. Handing Kilo her drink, he said, “Cheers.” She murmured the same and raised her glass to her lips. “You look nice,” he said.

“I got that at ‘Oh my,’ Laurence.” Mischief in her eyes, Kilo said, “I wonder what Ms. DeWitt made of your reaction.”

“What are you talking about?” Dominic asked, reading the label of the wine bottle. “She wasn’t there.”

“Not on the main floor, no. Up on the balcony with Topher and Ivy.”

Not wanting to consider it himself, Dominic asked, “Why do you wonder about her reaction?”
“I’m comfortable wanting a man who wants someone else,” Kilo said, stepping closer, crowding Dominic against the bar slightly. “I doubt she is.”

Assessing every other comment that came to mind as lame, cowardly or both, Dominic said, “You mean me. I’m the man you’re referring to.”

“Of course.”

“Why?”

Kilo put her free hand on the bar, stroking the teak wood in a way that had a good chance of making Dominic jealous of an inanimate object. “Why am I comfortable or why do I think DeWitt isn’t?”

“Both.”

“I like you,” Kilo said, “as hard as that is for Topher to believe. You’re charming, pleasant and funny when you want to be. I’m attracted to you.” Shifting her caressing fingers from the bar to Dominic’s chest, Kilo murmured, “For a lot of reasons, but I won’t bore you with the whole list.” Kilo smiled, probably at the shudder that worked its way down his spine as she circled his right nipple with her forefinger. “Your eyes can be both cold and blazing hot and I’ve had dreams about your hands on my body. But it’s your voice that really does it for me, especially the low intense one you use when you’re caught up in something. I’d love to go down on you just to listen to clearly annunciated sexiness change into mild desperation.”

The feeling that he should be participating more than monosyllabically didn’t get the job done. “Mild?” Dominic managed to force through a tight throat.

“I doubt I have the discipline to make you wait, especially if you ask nicely.”

Dominic closed his eyes and muttered, “Don’t put ideas like that in my head.”

“Why not?” she asked.

Catching her meandering hand in his, Dominic said “I told you. I didn’t ask you to come with me, because I had any expectations and I think we’ve strayed a long way from the question of why you’re ok with wanting someone who wants someone else and haven’t even touched on the other one.”

“We’ll get back to those,” Kilo said. “I promise.” Dominic swore he’d never seen a hot reassuring smile before that moment. “But I have a question for you. Why shouldn’t you have any expectations about what will happen between the two of us tonight?”

“We’re coming full circle,” Dominic said, wondering where in the hell Tony and Priya were. “I don’t have a right to have any expectations, because I want someone else.” Dreading the answer, he asked, “It’s that obvious?”

“To anyone who’s paying attention, I’d say, but I wouldn’t worry about it, if I were you. It’s not like anyone is going to call either of you on it.”

“Echo told me to be careful of and with Adelle.”

“Echo minds everybody’s business and she acts like DeWitt’s made of glass when it comes to men,” Kilo offered, gesturing with her wine glass to emphasize something Dominic didn’t understand. “I kind of hope DeWitt is … fragile somehow. It would make her seem more normal, having problems like the rest of us, instead of having all of the answers.”

“What men is Echo talking about?”

Smiling indulgently, likely at him giving voice to his curiosity about the men in Adelle’s life, Kilo said, “Overly grateful clients. Arrogant scientists and I don’t mean Topher, so don’t work yourself into a snit. Sensitive doctors. Aggressive security types. To name a few and why not? She’s an attractive woman with an elegant accent and killer shoes. Never a handler though. Not that I know of anyway.” When Dominic didn’t rise to the bait and observe that there was a first time for everything, Kilo said, “I’m ok with you wanting DeWitt, because you also want me, just in a different way. She might be the answer to your prayers, but I’m several things DeWitt isn’t, including accessible and willing to sleep with you without making you prove yourself or your undying devotion in any way first.”

“But if you know I want Adelle, why would you want—?”

“I know you aren’t usually this dense,” Kilo said, laughing. “You must really like me in this dress.”

Invited to do so, Dominic looked Kilo over. “I do.”

“I’m not looking for happily ever after, Laurence. Having fun right now is enough for me.”
Skepticism unchecked, he said, “You think Adelle is looking for happily ever after?”

“No.”

“Your mind works in a very convoluted fashion, Kilo.” The widening of her smile threw Dominic a little. “What?” he asked. “That wasn’t exactly meant as a compliment.”

“I think DeWitt is looking for someone to trust and she doesn’t trust easily. She probably thinks there’s no room in her life for something that’s merely fun and that’s sad.”

Reasonably certain he’d never had a conversation anything like this before, Dominic said, “Does that mean you don’t trust me?”

Kilo shook her head. “But I don’t have to trust you beyond believing you’ll stop if I say my safe word and I do. I most sincerely do.”

“I am so sorry,” said a pretty, strikingly featured woman a couple of years older than Kilo. “You must be Dom.” Eyes taking in the couple, she nodded in an understanding beyond Dominic’s ken. “I’m pleased to finally meet you. Tony’s told me all about you and I can tell we have a lot in common.” A gracious half turn later, she said, “It’s always a pleasure to see you, Kilo.”

“And you, Priya,” Kilo said.

“Tony’s doing something with the grill. I don’t ask questions; I just stay out of the way.” Priya’s eyes widened. “And try not to burn the appetizers. Back in a sec.”

“You prefer it,” Dominic accused. “You prefer Kilo and all this time I’ve been trying to remember to call you Elaine when you aren’t on duty, as it were.”

“I thought it was cute that you were trying to obey the rules.” Kilo lifted Dominic’s hand to her lips and placed an open mouthed kiss on his palm. “I like that in a man … sometimes, so … develop some expectations for tonight, Laurence. There’ll be a quiz later.”

* * *

“Adelle,” said a chubby man with thinning white hair, his British accent somehow soothing the edginess that had come over her as she’d watched Kilo approach Laurence Dominic on the main level of her House. “Come in, come in, please. Wonderful to see you again.”

“Hello, Sean,” Adelle said, entering an aggressively modernly furnished hotel room and smiling. “You’re looking well.”

She didn’t understand the series of expressions flying across his countenance before he clasped his hands together before him and asked, “Can I get you something to drink?”

“I would kill for a vodka martini.”

Sean winced as though Adelle had struck him but quickly said, “If the lack of appropriate glassware wouldn’t offend you, I’d be honored to make one for you.”

“Please do,” Adelle said. “Shall I wait until you have before I ask why you’re in Los Angeles?” To his noncommittal grunt, she said, “You’ve always said you deplore the place.”
“I had to see you before I go to the meeting in Tucson.”

“Now I’m certain there’s something amiss. You dislike Tucson even more.” Sean busied himself with making drinks and Adelle wondered what Rossum was plotting. “Why attend in person, rather than via video conference?” she asked.

“The latter option was unavailable,” he said, offering Adelle her drink, raising his glass when she accepted it. “To your health.”

“And yours.”

“Mine is about to take a substantial turn for the worse, I’m afraid,” Sean said after they both sipped. He eyed Adelle thoughtfully. “I’m told I haven’t been up to scratch for some time.” Likely in response to Adelle’s gasp of dismay, he said, “Look on the bright side. If they’d known we’ve kept in touch, I’d have met this fate long ago. As it is, I have only my actions or, more to the point, my inactions to blame.”

He gestured for her to sit. Stunned, she did. “Sean, what is going on?”

“My death warrant has been signed. I’m to be eliminated for my sins. I won’t bore you with the details. That being the case, I thought I’d make my last transgression count.”

Regarding her over the rim of his glass, Sean handed her a file folder and watched as she quickly perused it.

“What are these blueprints of?”

“Rossum’s facilities in Tuscon. I’ve marked the locations of the mainframe and the laboratories dedicated to the development of the most truly devastating tech. I can get a man in tonight. He can hitch a ride on my private plane but will, of necessity, be on his own to return to you. I’ll provide him with the equipment necessary to destroy the mainframe and the labs and make it appear as though terrorists like your Caroline Farrell did. He’ll access the facility using my card key. That’s why it has to be tonight. With any luck, no one will connect the dots until it’s too late."

“I’ll have Topher—.”

“It can’t be an active, Adelle. The security systems are designed to recognize active architecture and neutralize anyone who isn’t pre-cleared to be on the premises.” Sean smiled ruefully. “That was my idea, actually. Once upon a time. To secure the main corporate facility against any and all actives, I mean. You need a man who can do this without Topher’s assistance. Please tell me you have or know of one.”

“I do.” Adelle leaned forward and rested her hand on Sean’s forearm. “But what of you? It’s not like you to simply give up.”

He sighed. “I’m tired, Adelle. So very, very tired.”

“You could stay here,” she said, mind turning over the possibilities. “I could assign you a security detail. We could find a way to keep you safe, Sean. You know we could.”

“Perhaps, but Rossum would retain their mainframe and key research.” Sean patted her hand in a fatherly fashion. “It’s a good trade.” He smiled and drained his drink. “Who knows? Perhaps this man of yours will cause such a fuss that they’ll decide to postpone my execution to avoid further bother. Stranger things have certainly happened during my association with the company.” Taking her empty glass, Sean headed for the mini bar. “Take the opportunity, Adelle. Strike a blow.”

Pragmatically, logically, prudently, he was right, but Adelle still felt sick to her stomach. “What have you done to anger the Rossum elite?”

“Talked sense.”

“You’ve always talked sense.”

“Perhaps,” Sean allowed, “however, they no longer wish to hear it.”

* * *

“And that is the first and only time I’ve ever seen Topher speechless,” Kilo concluded, shaking her head and giggling at the memory.

“Were his hands free?” Laurence Dominic asked. To her quizzical look, he said, “I don’t think he could talk if he had to keep his hands still.” Kilo’s smile took his breath away.
Appetizers had been served and eaten. The grill had been prepped for the steaks. Wine flowed freely. Dominic sat on a narrow love seat with Kilo nestled comfortably against his side. His arm anchored her there and he drew patterns on her upper arm with his forefinger. Anthony half reclined on the couch, Priya’s back pressed against his chest. Dominic tried to recall the last time he’d felt this relaxed.

“Shall I put the steaks on?” Anthony asked before kissing Priya on the forehead.

“Not just yet,” Priya said. “I don’t feel like moving.”

“But I’m out of wine,” Anthony whined. Priya rolled her eyes.

“I’ll get it,” Dominic said, meaning the third bottle they’d opened just in case a while ago.

“Now Kilo will be cold, because she’s lost her human heat generator,” Priya said, frowning at Anthony. “What kind of host are you?”

“One with a lazy girlfriend.”

“No violence in front of the guests,” Dominic said, smiling at Priya’s playfully clenched fist as he topped everyone off. “Punish him later at your leisure.”

“Don’t help me, Dom,” Anthony said.

“I’m not.”

Kilo kissed him lightly on the lips when he returned to his seat and murmured, “Missed you,” in his ear.

“I wasn’t gone long,” he whispered.

“And for that you will be greatly rewarded.”

“Really?” Her impudent grin inspired him. “What form will this great reward take?” Kilo licked her lips and Dominic’s mouth went dry.

“On second thought, you probably should get the steaks on,” Priya said, laughing. “Otherwise, our guests will make some flimsy excuse and leave before dinner is served.”

“No, we won’t,” Kilo said, resting a hand on Dominic’s chest. “I like what the consumption of a huge piece of dead cow flesh does to a man. Besides, it would be rude and Laurence isn’t rude.”

Tilting Kilo’s head up, Dominic murmured, “I could be rude, if properly motivated.”
Slowly, sensuously, Kilo crossed her legs, exposing a sinful expanse of thigh for Dominic’s perusal. “Really? I didn’t know that about you.”

“Yeah, you did.”

Smiling big, Kilo said, “I suspected it, but I can’t claim to have known for sure.”

“So where’d you learn to flirt, Dom?” Priya asked, shifting to snuggle closer to Anthony.

“I don’t know that I ever did,” he said, shrugging, fighting a smile. “I usually let women seduce me. It’s easier. Less stress, you know?”

“This from Mr. Intensity,” Kilo said, looking to Anthony, presumably for backup. “I don’t think you’re being perfectly honest, but I don’t care. I’m happy to seduce you.” Grinning at Priya, she added, “After dinner.”

“If you want to get the ball rolling before, that would be ok,” Dominic said, relishing the surprise in Kilo’s eyes, Anthony’s groan and Priya’s laughter. “It would save time after.”

“C’mon, Dom,” Priya said, “was there an older woman in your teens or early twenties? A younger one recently or a whole lot of barhopping in between? Because you, sir, can flirt.”

Dominic had a deflecting joke locked and loaded, but something utterly genuine in Priya’s expression caused it to die in his throat. “I think it might be that I haven’t had an evening like this in a very long time. Just hanging with people I like. Maybe it’s bringing out the best in me.” He took a long look at Kilo. “Then again, it might be that dress.”

“It’s the dress,” Anthony moaned. “Let me up, babe.”

Dominic’s cell phone rang, as if in protest to Anthony breaking up the foursome. The caller id sent his emotions reeling. His eyes darted to Kilo, looking freaking edible. “Sorry,” he said. “I need to get this.”

“Sure,” she whispered, sliding her small hand along his thigh.

“What can I do for you, Ms. DeWitt?” he asked. Kilo’s hand lifted and Dominic instantly missed it.

“You’re returning to undercover work tonight, Mr. Dominic,” she said. “Meet me at this address in three quarters of an hour, dressed for an infiltration and carrying an overnight bag.”

Dominic wrote the address down on a small napkin. “Can you tell me what—?”

“When I see you,” she said, ending the call.

He kissed Kilo gently but with a purpose. “I have to go,” he said. “I’m sorry. I really am.” Turning to Anthony, he said, “Can you run Kilo back to the House after dinner? I need the car.”

“Sure.”

“It was a pleasure meeting you, Priya. I hope to see you again soon.”

“Likewise, Dom.”

Tears welling in Kilo’s eyes halted Dominic in midstride. “Hey, it’s work, Kilo. I have to steal something. I think.”

“Why you?” she asked. “Why not one of us?”

“I don’t know.”

“I do.”

* * *

“Is this really necessary?”

Adelle DeWitt turned to the sound of Laurence Dominic’s voice in time to witness him being shoved into the private hangar by a much larger man brandishing a handgun with the casual ease of long practice.

“We found this guy outside, Mr. Crane,” the large man said.

“Carrying this,” said a smaller one trailing behind, hauling what Adelle assumed was Laurence’s luggage as though it contained lead bricks rather than clothing.

“Mr. Dominic will be traveling with me,” Sean Crane said. The larger man immediately stepped away from Dominic and the smaller hastily handed him his bag. Glancing at Adelle, amused twinkle in his eye, he added, “Assuming this is, in fact, your man.”

“It is,” Adelle said, eyes boring into Dominic’s slightly widening ones, actively not wondering how far things had progressed between him and Kilo this night and silently admiring the fit of the black turtleneck and jeans.

“Ms. DeWitt,” he said, settling the strap of his bag on his shoulder, “Reporting as ordered.

“You were NSA,” Sean said.

“Yes, sir.”

“Interesting,” Sean said, making no bones about looking Dominic over. “Adelle usually shies away from career intelligence types.”

“Sir?”

Adelle smiled inwardly at Dominic’s expression of polite interest, suspecting it masked both wariness and curiosity.

“Care to enlighten me, Adelle?” Sean asked, his eyes telegraphing amusement. “What is it about this young man that recommended him to you?”

Facing nearly matching pairs of blue eyes, Adelle said, “He reminds me of you.” Sean laughed. Dominic frowned and looked uncertain. Against her will and her better judgment, Adelle found it charming. Fascinated, she watched the two men eye each other.

“Reminds you of me, you say?” Sean said, nodding sagely. “You must be intelligent, cunning, stubborn and an excellent card player, Mr. Dominic.” Smiling at Adelle, he said, “Successful with the ladies goes without saying, of course.” He returned his attention to

Dominic. “We’ll get on together, I think.”

Dominic stared at the hand Sean offered for a long moment before he shook it and
muttered, “Yes, sir.”

“No one who hasn’t been knighted can be called ‘sir’ more than three times in a single evening. You have used up your allotment and must henceforth refer to me as Sean.” Dominic nodded. “Definitely stubborn,” Sean observed as he took Adelle’s hands. “This is goodbye, dear lady. It has been an honor and a privilege to know you. I wish you the very best.”

“Stay here, Sean. Send the jet to buy us some time. You don’t have to make this sacrifice.”

Sean kissed her on the forehead. “If there was another way, I’d have thought of it,” he said. “Keep your guard up, your eyes open and strike your blow.” Nodding to his men, Sean strode toward his private jet. “Do keep up, Mr. Dominic,” he called over his shoulder.

Adelle didn’t care that Laurence Dominic saw the tear sliding down her cheek and she refused to acknowledge the concern in his eyes as he followed Sean Crane on to the plane or her relief that neither man looked back.

* * *

“How long have you worked with Adelle?”

Laurence Dominic looked up from the blueprints he’d been studying. “Almost nine months,” he said, sipping the coffee he’d been served, recalling Sean’s amusement that he’d asked for nothing stronger.

“Do you think you know her well?” Sean asked.

“No, I don’t.” Sensing the older man expected more and trusting the impulse to comply, he said, “Not for lack of trying.”

“Adelle is a most private person.”

Nodding as he closed the file folder he’d been given, Dominic said, “You seem close to her.”

“We worked together once.”

“When she was at Rossum.”

“When she believed in what we were doing.” Sean laughed as he stared out the window at the gathering darkness. “When we all did. You must understand, Mr. Dominic, we were on the cutting edge of science. Every day, sometimes every hour, brought revelations. It was a
heady time.”

“What was she like?”

“Much as you’d expect, I imagine,” Sean said. He gestured to Dominic with his brandy snifter. “Describe the young Adelle to me.”

Dominic’s mind whirled as he tried to figure out Sean’s angle. Failing that, he turned his attention to the task at hand. Closing his eyes, Dominic spoke slowly , as though testing each thought he uttered. “Brilliant, but not arrogant with it. Beautiful, but reserved. Not above using her looks to get her way, but on guard against letting her emotions rule her. Creative at working within a system but able to navigate just fine outside it. The ruthlessness came later. As did the brutal efficiency. She came by those the hard way, I think.” Meeting Sean’s eyes, he asked, “Am I close?”

“You are both an observant man and a thoughtful one, Mr. Dominic. I wonder if Adelle understands just how clearly you are capable of seeing.”

“Nothing about her is particularly clear, Sean.” Dominic bit his lip and drained his coffee. “Most people call me Dom, but I sense that might be too informal for you.”

“Adelle cloaks herself in shadows and secrets these days, Laurence,” he said, his question as to the appropriateness of the use of Dominic’s first name obvious.

Dominic nodded and a smile slid into place. “Silk, wool and cashmere aren’t enough for her.”

“They should be. They need to be on occasion.”

Something in Sean’s tone drew Dominic’s eyes, but he couldn’t interpret the other man’s expression. Sean’s body language radiated intensity, however. “Someone told me earlier today that she thought Adelle wanted someone to trust. Is that what you’re saying, Sean?”

“Partly. She needs someone with whom to share her secrets, certainly. The burden is already too large for one person, however formidable, and it will continue to grow as the confrontation with Rossum plays out.”

“And the shadows you spoke of?” Sean smiled, leaned back in his seat, apparently settling in to wait. Dominic applied himself dutifully. “Memories?” he ventured. “Things from her past, mistakes, maybe, real or imagined.” Encouraged by Sean’s expectant look, he said, “Guilt.”

“I expect so.”

“Should she be guilty?”

“Who’s to judge, Laurence?”

His newly filled coffee cup halted half way to his lips as an intriguing thought formed. “She wants someone who won’t judge her.”

Sean beamed at Dominic. “I do so enjoy conversing with the clever.” Expression clouding over, he said, “I’ll miss that.”

* * *

A glance at his watch brought a frown to Dominic’s lips. He was still behind schedule. Placing the explosives to destroy the mainframe had gone off without a hitch, but he’d had to detour around a couple of security teams to access the first of three labs Sean insisted had to go. When he finally got there, he’d discovered it was configured differently than Sean’s information suggested, so Dominic lost more time in planning how to place the charges, so the lab would be obliterated. The second lab had also been reconfigured, fortunately in the same manner as the first, allowing him to make up time.

Cautiously optimistic, Dominic wired the third lab to go boom. Just as he finished, the door burst open and Dominic ducked behind a workbench. Laughter he certainly hadn’t expected.

“Come here, baby,” said a female voice. “I’ll take care of you.”

“You damn well better, Samantha,” panted a male voice.

“If you’re a good boy and treat me with the proper respect.”

Just get him off and be done with it! Peeking around the edge of the workbench, Dominic had a clear path to the door. The couple moved off to the right—the woman sitting on the workbench closest to the door, the man standing in front of her and facing in Dominic’s direction.

“What in the hell is that?” said the guy. Keeping low, Dominic inched out from behind the workbench and drew his 9mm. He hadn’t bothered to hide the explosives. No one was supposed to be here tonight other than security. Everyone else should be at a mandatory corporate function being held in conjunction with the meeting of the brass to drum Sean Crane out of their elite club.

“Don’t know,” Samantha said, “but these are my breasts. Put your mouth on them.”

“Sam, I should call this in.”

“Call this in, Carl.”

The woman’s sexy snarl reminded him of the fierce look on Adelle DeWitt’s face when Sean had asked if Dominic was ‘her man’ and Kilo’s demand that he develop expectations about what would happen between them. How did my life get so fucking complicated? Staying low, Dominic crept toward the door, one workbench at a time. He didn’t know what Samantha was doing exactly, but Carl bounced between calling her a fucking whore and pleading for more. Finally, Dominic reached the final workbench and eyed the door. From his vantage point, he could only see the heads and shoulders of the others. And that is more than enough.

“Sam … I … fuck … that … those … please … no.”

“No?” she asked, laughing derisively. “You don’t say no to me, baby.”

“Please, no,” he whined.

“I’m going to make you come in your pants and send you home to explain the stains to your wife.” Samantha bit Carl’s shoulder hard enough for him to register the pain despite the stimulation she was undoubtedly providing. “Then I’m going to find a man to make me beg for mercy. Maybe Phil. What do you think, Carl? Is Phil man enough for me?”

“I wouldn’t worry about Phil right now,” Dominic said, rising up from his crouch, gun forward. Smiling at the striking young woman, he said, “I’m sorry, sweetheart; I need his jacket and ball cap.” Without more, Dominic put two bullets in Carl’s brain, after reaching out to snag the Rossum security cap.

“I like you,” Samantha whispered, winding her arms around his neck, eyes bright with desire. “You can fuck me blind.”

What is with this woman? I just blew her lover away right in front of her. “No time,” he said, evading Samantha’s attempt at a kiss and bending down to remove Carl’s midnight blue Rossum Security jacket. “Get your ass out of here,” he said, rolling his eyes in frustration when Samantha failed to move. Pulling the jacket on, Dominic took aim. “You want to join your boyfriend.”

“I like guns.”

Why am I not surprised? “Hope you like explosives too,” Dominic said, pocketing the gun, gesturing to her right, “because that’s what Carl was concerned about.”
Dominic jogged down the corridor to the east stairwell, hands in his pockets, one clutching his gun, the other closing on what felt like a wallet. Samantha’s shriek rang in his ears. Remorse wasn’t something Dominic allowed himself. Second thoughts another luxury he couldn’t afford. He focused on getting out of the Rossum compound before the fireworks started. How hard can that be? After disposing of Carl Learner’s wallet, Dominic exited the building and started across the expanse of lawn.

“You,” shouted an authoritative voice. “We have a situation in the main building. Come with me!”

It was clear the man meant him, so Dominic consulted his watch as he followed. Four minutes and twelve seconds didn’t provide much of a margin, but he couldn’t see an easy way to ditch his new found friend, particularly as he kept commandeering other men along the way. Breaking into two groups of four, the makeshift security detail drew their weapons—Dominic sincerely hoped no one noticed that his wasn’t Rossum issue. Following the hand signals of the self appointed leader, Dominic entered the building he’d wired to explode.

“The alert wasn’t specific,” the man said, “but it did mention the mainframe. You four,” he said, pointing to the other group and then the stairs before them, “head down and assess the situation. We’ll take the other stairs and come at whatever the problem is from there.”
Dominic followed, cursing the guy’s cautious pace, mental clock counting down. “You have someplace to be?” the man demanded.

Startled, Dominic instinctively muttered, “No, sir,” and almost raised his head enough to allow the man a decent look at his face. Instead, he dropped his wrist, silently admitting he didn’t want to see the watch anyway. His countdown neared two minutes. As they reached the stairs, Dominic slipped to the rear of the group.

“You’re on point,” said the leader, slapping Dominic on the shoulder hard. He found it ironic that Sean had thought him clever when he was about to die in an extremely stupid manner. Deciding speed was his only option, Dominic took the stairs two at a time. Men erupted into the stairwell from below.

“She’s gonna blow!” said one, as he reached Dominic.

“Get the hell out of my way!” said another, shoving Dominic against the wall.

“Run!” screamed a third as he tripped and fell. Dominic hauled the frightened man to his feet.

“Screw this,” Dominic said, following the fleeing men past his original group. Remembering Sean’s blueprints, Dominic took a hard right, but the others stayed the course for the main doors. Stupid bastards. As he approached the metal door of the emergency exit, Dominic felt the pressure build behind him. Three steps short of his goal, the place erupted. Dominic tried to angle his body so he’d impact the bar allowing the door to open.

* * *

“What do we know?” Adelle DeWitt demanded, bursting into Boyd Langton’s domain. She didn’t particularly enjoy making security people scatter, but she had no choice. She needed information.

“There were explosions in all three buildings as planned,” Lisa Grayson said, glancing at Langton who’d made no move to reply. “We can’t determine the extent of the damage exactly, but Rossum’s mainframe is offline.”

“Good,” Adelle murmured. “What else?”

“Topher’s bitching about several of his data dumps being disrupted.”

Adelle suppressed a smile; Topher had a way of getting under everyone’s skin. “Meaning?”

“Some of the research he was following unbeknownst to Rossum is also offline.”

“Excellent.”

“What of the plane I asked you keep an eye on?”

“Still in its hangar at the private airstrip in Tuscon.”

Now for the question of the hour. “Mr. Dominic?”

“We don’t know,” Langton said, looking pointedly at Grayson. “All we have is speculation, Ms. DeWitt.”

Grayson motioned to a young man manning a laptop. He turned his screen toward Adelle. “They’ve reported an unidentified man among the casualties,” Grayson said. “Based on build alone, he could be Dom, but we have no way to be sure from this image.”

“Find a way to be sure, Ms. Grayson.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Adelle noted something interesting in the younger woman’s expression. “Anything else?”

“It’ll be a while before Dom gets back. He’ll be flying commercial and probably won’t take a direct route. I wouldn’t worry until at least 24 hours have passed.”

“I’ll take that under advisement, Ms. Grayson,” Adelle said, turning to go, schooling her features to a calm she didn’t feel.

* * *

Forty Hours Later

“Status report, Mr. Langton,” Adelle DeWitt demanded.

Langton raised an eyebrow. “Here?” he asked, gesturing to the group of actives doing yoga a few paces away.

“Why not?” she said, fighting a yawn as the fatigue of consecutive sleepless nights crept up upon her. “Do we have something to hide of which I am unaware, Mr. Langton?”

“No,” he said, hesitation evident. “The only outstanding security issue is the whereabouts of Mr. Dominic.”

“What of the unidentified man who was killed in the explosions?”

Langton took a breath. “What about him?”

Adelle put her hands on her hips, her glare a better way to channel her emotions than worry. “Did Laurence Dominic die sprawled face down on a sidewalk in Tuscon?” Kilo and Anthony gave up their poor attempts at yoga. Adelle resisted Langton’s effort to move her away from them. “Answer my question, Mr. Langton.”

“We’ve analyzed the images every way we can,” he said, his lowered voice simply drawing the interested pair closer. “Our software thinks it’s him. 86%. That’s as close as it’s possible to get without a view of his face.”

“I see,” Adelle said, pushing despair away. Kilo and Anthony exchanged alarmed glances before he put his arm around her and whispered something into her ear.

“This isn’t your fault,” Langton said.

“I gave the order,” Adelle countered, wishing she could sit down. “Who else could possibly be to blame?” The look on Kilo’s face screamed agreement, but Anthony’s expression was more
thoughtful.

“Rossum is reeling,” Langton observed, reaching for Adelle’s shoulder but thinking better of it before making contact. “They don’t know what hit them.”

“They’re unnerved, but that won’t last.” Adelle returned Topher’s wave from the catwalk beside his office. “By now, I’m sure they’ve discovered how they were infiltrated.”

“How were they infiltrated, Ms. DeWitt?”

“By an experienced undercover agent I forced out of retirement.”

“That’s who, not how.”

“How doesn’t matter. Not anymore.” Adelle couldn’t afford to relive her last glimpse of Sean Crane. She managed well enough until the thought it that also might have been her last look at Laurence Dominic hit her broadside.

“Are you all right?” Anthony’s voice seemed to be coming from far away, but Adelle held her head up high, nodded and forced a small tight smile.

“Quite,” she said. “It’s been a long week for everyone.” Her reference to the difficulties they’d had with two operations earlier in the week seemed to surprise everyone in the vicinity.

“How he did it matters, if someone could do the same to us,” Langton persisted, apologizing with his eyes, daring to speak to her as though she couldn’t handle the information he’d given her. Adelle had dealt with far worse.

“Mr. Dominic’s methodology was unique to the Tucson facility on the night in question,” Adelle said, her clipped precise intonation hopefully ending the inquiry.

A sharp shriek drew everyone’s attention to Kilo. Adelle and Langton turned to follow the young woman’s trajectory to the impeccably dressed man exiting the elevator. Her eyes narrowed. Laurence Dominic’s shoulders weren’t perfectly aligned, the right being lower suggested an injury of some sort, as verified by the grunt of pain Kilo’s enthusiastic hug caused. She immediately stepped back, apologized and traced the cut on his cheek with the tips of her fingers.

Adelle didn’t recall moving, but somehow she and Langton arrived at the reunion of sorts.

“I’m fine,” Dominic said, but his far too pale face and the light sheen of sweat on his forehead offered evidence to the contrary. “You didn’t need to waste any time worrying about me.”

“Have Dr. Saunders see to your shoulder and whatever other injuries you have sustained and report to my office for debriefing.”

His tired eyes spoke to hers for an instant. “Yes, ma’am.”

She smiled. “Welcome back, Mr. Dominic, and well done.”

* * *

Laurence Dominic stepped into Adelle DeWitt’s office. She was on the phone but motioned him forward nonetheless. Letting her words wash over him without actually listening, Dominic wandered over to the windows and looked out. The pain medication Saunders had given him no doubt added to the sense of detachment Dominic had felt ever since he’d come to twenty feet past the emergency exit he’d been headed for when the explosion took place.

“What are you thinking, Mr. Dominic?”

Dominic jumped, in part because Adelle simply appeared next to him, her voice seeming to bring her scent and the sound of her heels and breathing along with it. “I … ah … I wasn’t. Thinking. About anything in particular, I mean. I don’t think I was, anyway.” Frowning, he put a hand to his head. “Damn, I’m out if it. I’m sorry, ma’am. Saunders insisted I take the pills.”

“Your shoulder?”

“Third degree separation,” he said, realizing how close Adelle was. “It’ll hurt until it stops, basically. Not much to be done about it.”

“Other than avoiding hugs of welcome?”

“I’m sure not all hugs of welcome are created equal.” Jesus Christ, Dom. Shut up!

“I suppose that’s so,” Adelle said, tilting her head, regarding him, amusement evident. “Any other injuries of note?”

“A couple of bruised ribs, a concussion and a bunch of cuts and scrapes, particularly on my knees, palms and right forearm. I didn’t exactly stick my landing.”

He couldn’t interpret Adelle’s smile. “Those injuries do limit hugging possibilities, assuming the goal is to do so without causing pain.”

“You could be gentle with me.” I desperately needed to stop talking about a minute ago.

“Is that your preference, Mr. Dominic?”

“When I’ve had the shit kicked out of me, yeah.”

“I see.” Staring into his eyes, she said, “Why did it take you so long to return? Kilo and Anthony were gravely concerned.”

“I … ah … well …” Don’t you dare tell her she smells really good, you moron! Focus. “The explosion in the main building basically threw me through and a good way past a metal door. Next thing I knew, a paramedic was waving smelling salts under my nose and talking about going to the hospital. I couldn’t do that, because I’d left my wallet and anything else that could identify me in my rental car. Not …” He took a deep breath. “Not me, Laurence Dominic me, but a fake identification I had made when I was with the NSA in case I had to pull out of an assignment quickly and didn’t necessarily want the agency to know who or where I was.” He risked a look at Adelle and winced. “Am I making sense at all?”

“I believe I understood what you meant,” she said.

“Ok. Good. I also didn’t want any record of my alias at the hospital either. It might have been traceable. I tried to convince him I was able to operate a motor vehicle, but the kid was having none of it.” Dominic sighed. “So I waited for him to get busy treating someone else and limped off. A couple of cops strongly suggested I go to the hospital, but gave up on that after I’d given them my statement.”

“Your … statement?”

Surprising Adelle DeWitt was fun. “Carl Learner’s statement, I should say.”

“Who in heaven’s name is Carl Learner?”

“A guy I shot in the head. Twice.”

Adelle nodded. “I imagine you took a few liberties with his story.”

“More than a few.” Finally, his curiosity won out. “Adelle, why are you standing so close?”

“To be on hand should you lose your balance,” she said. “You aren’t terribly steady on your feet.”

Disappointment welled up within him, but Dominic beat it back. He was getting used to doing that around this woman, but he’d never tried while high on pain meds before. “I’m not going to fall,” he muttered, leaning his good shoulder against the window just in case. “I made it back to my car but was seeing double and dizzy, so I just sat there for a while. I … um … might’ve passed out; I’m not sure. When I woke up or zoned back in, my eyes were still screwed up, so I got out and walked. It took a while, but I found a motel, checked in, paying in cash, and got myself cleaned up as best as I could. I tried to rest, but the pain was too bad.”

“You had no pain medication?”

“Only over the counter stuff and that didn’t touch it.”

Adelle nodded. “Do go on.”

“When I decided to stop hoping I was going to fall asleep any minute, I got up. Tried to, anyway.” He frowned at Adelle. “Ok, I fell, but I made it to the bathroom before I threw up. I threw up a lot over the next few hours.”

“You were becoming dehydrated.”

“I know but I couldn’t keep anything down.” He tried on a small smile for size and Adelle seemed encouraged by it. “I spent an absolutely miserable day in that ratty motel room, finally managed to sleep some, but the next morning—well, early afternoon really—I had a hell of a time finding my car.”

“Why didn’t you call, Laurence?”

“I didn’t bring my cell with me. Certainly didn’t want to get caught with it on me or have a record of calls originating in Tucson associated with it.”

“Why not a disposable phone?”

“Why bother?” he asked. “There was nothing anyone here could’ve done for me.”

“So we would’ve known you were alive, you impossible man.”

Dominic blinked at Adelle. “You thought I was dead?” She nodded and Dominic’s temper flared. “Why would you think I was dead? That’s kind of insulting, you know.”

“There was a man Rossum couldn’t or wouldn’t identify who died in the explosions. From behind, he could’ve been you. The computer software was reasonably certain he was.”

“Oh.” Anger fled as quickly as it had arrived. “That explains a few things.”

“Such as?”

“Why everyone’s been looking at me the way they’ve been. Why Anthony walked me to Saunder’s office and hovered outside the entire time I was in there. Why I got a hug like that from a woman I’ve only … ah … Why you’re so damn close.”

“Would you feel safer if I removed myself to behind my desk?”

Safer? “No,” he said. “I don’t mind.” Suddenly both worn out and keyed up, he said, “Where was I?”

Looking almost disappointed, Adelle said, “You eventually found your car, I take it.”
“I hitched a ride in the tow truck I called to get it back to the rental car place. Then I took the damn shuttle to the airport—I hate those things—and decided to risk a flight into Orange County. I still didn’t feel like I could drive any distance, so I checked myself into a nicer hotel and took it easy. Didn’t sleep a whole lot, though. In the morning, I rented a car, drove up here and fell asleep in my own bed after taking a shower. When I woke up, I came in.” To Adelle’s quizzical look, he muttered, “What?”

“A debriefing traditionally includes a discussion of how the mission objectives were met.”

Dominic shrugged his good shoulder. “I set the charges in all four locations. I couldn’t say if they all went off on schedule, but the mainframe has to be history.” Minutely correcting his posture, Dominic asked, “Did Sean get a reprieve?”

“No.”

“Fuck.”

“Well said.” A somewhat pensive silence fell. Adelle yawned.

Dominic couldn’t ever recall seeing her yawn. “You’re tired,” he said.

“I have lost a bit of sleep grieving for Sean and worrying about you.”

“I should get out of here and let you get some rest,” Dominic said.

“Not just yet,” Adelle murmured, stepping into Dominic, wrapping her arms around his waist with infinite care. She rested her head on his good shoulder and Dominic couldn’t decide what to do with his hands. Encouraged by her soft contented sigh, he slid one to the small of her back and the other to cradle the back of her neck. Adelle’s scent enveloped him. His fingers itched to tangle in her hair. He indulged the other set in stroking Adelle’s lower back through her silk blouse. He’d just decided that he could stand with her like this for just about forever when Adelle tilted her head to look up at him.

Her lovely green eyes held a question that Dominic could almost fathom. His body definitively answered a far more basic one. Unexpectedly, frighteningly, Adelle resisted when he attempted to step back. “Adelle, I—.” Obeying her sharply shaken head, he fell silent.

“Don’t worry, Laurence, I understand.” Her smile somewhat rueful, she said, “I know this moment has little to do with me.”

“Adelle, we’re holding each other pretty damn close here. How in the hell does that not involve you?”

“I could be anyone,” she whispered. “Surely you are aware that life threatening experiences lead naturally to a desire to affirm life.”

“What I desire has very little to do with affirming life,” he growled, pressing his hips forward, not allowing her to retreat, stunned that she didn’t really try.

“If things develop between us in a sexual way—.”

“When,” Dominic said, “not if.”

She shifted position slightly, presumably to get more comfortable, and forced a low groan from Dominic. Smiling, Adelle said, “When we take that step, I want to be your sole focus.
I need to be.”

“I’m a very focused person.”

“Not at the moment,” she said. “You are riding the vestiges of an adrenaline wave and yet nearly exhausted, in pain and primed for the converse. You are clearly attracted to Kilo and yet profess to want me. I don’t want a mass of contradictions, Laurence. I have enough o f those in my life.”

“That I’m attracted to you and Kilo only proves I’m a heterosexual male, Adelle.”

“Perhaps so, but I do not share, Laurence. Nor do I tolerate indiscretions of any sort.”

“Stating the rules up front. That’s important.”

“Don’t mock me!”

“I’m not,” he said. “In fact, I have a couple of my own.” Knowing he’d get one chance at this, Dominic sought the right words. “I want to know and understand.” He cupped her chin in his hand in the hope that she wouldn’t look away. “I want to know everything you face here and I want to understand what it does and what it means to you.”

“Laurence, I can’t—.”

“Think about it.” Accepting the risk he ran, Dominic said, “Sean said you needed someone you could trust and trust not to judge you. I want a shot at being that guy.” Afraid the frown and narrowed eyes signaled a wall coming down, Dominic said, “Look, I know it won’t happen overnight. It’ll take work on both sides, but I’m willing, Adelle. That’s all I’m saying.”

She nodded and leaned in to kiss him lightly on his uninjured cheek. “I’ll sleep on it, Mr. Dominic.”

“Maybe someday in the not too distant future, you won’t be doing that alone.”

“Maybe someday in the not too distant future, you won’t push your luck.”

“I wouldn’t count on it, ma’am,” Dominic said, grinning because he couldn’t help it.


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I've been wondering about this series a few days ago. Hee ♥

I enjoyed reading this. I like the way you wrote Kilo and the flirty banter all around. But I loved the Sean-Laurence conversation the best.

His newly filled coffee cup halted half way to his lips as an intriguing thought formed. “She wants someone who won’t judge her.”

And then--

“Maybe someday in the not too distant future, you won’t be doing that alone.”

“Maybe someday in the not too distant future, you won’t push your luck.”

“I wouldn’t count on it, ma’am,” Dominic said, grinning because he couldn’t help it.


Hee. ♥

And happy birthday, morgan72uk!

Kilo is fun. Sean was inserted just to give a reason for Dom to have to do this other than an active and a way inside, but I actually liked him and was kind of sad to do away with him. "If there was another way, I'd have thought of it."

Dom has to have a few revelations about Adelle because she could never truly be with a man who didn't understand her (I don't think).

I don't think they'd have had the conversation they did at the end if Dom hadn't been high on pain pills. He was a little bolder than normal--less considering of consequences.

Thanks for reading!

We should, like, totally drug these characters more. They're funner to write when they're high. lol

Happy Birthday morgan72uk.

This was phenominal! I am loving Kilo (and Dom making friends), she is a wonderfully fierce lady.

Plus, I am loving Dominic and Adelle's relationship. They are aware that each are interested in pursuing something more but are taking the evolution of their personal and professional relationship very slowly (establishing trust) which I find very realistic. I also loved Dominic's conversation with Sean about Adelle, her character and her needs. I'm gonna miss Sean.

Excellent! Love it, love it, love it. I cannot wait for the next installment.

Kilo has been really fun to imagine. I like that she's open minded about things and just kind of wants to have fun.

I miss Sean already. I don't usually get that attached to someone introduced to facilitate my agenda, but I did to him. Sniff.

Adelle and Dom came off better than I expected at the end. I laughed when I realized he might be offended that Adelle thought he was dead. For him to blurt things while under the influence of pain meds and her to hug him seemed to work. Glad it did for you too.

Morgan72uk told me she was inspired in this verse again, so maybe ...

Thank you for my present - which I love.
Sean was an inspired creation - not least because he made it OK for Adelle to be vulnerable.
And I am indeed working on my next episode.

I'm glad you liked it and Sean. He really grew on me.

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