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Battle of Britain--Chapter 1
ears, eyes
rogoblue
Title: Battle of Britain


Rating: R (language and sexual situations)


Author: morgan72uk and rogoblue


Summary: Adelle DeWitt is involved with Section F of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) when an American officer, Captain Laurence Dominic, is assigned to be the liaison between the SOE and the US Army in early 1942.






January 1942 – following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, America has entered the Second World War. In Britain the Special Operations Executive, established by Churchill in 1940, is charged with conducting warfare by means other than direct military engagement. Its mission is to encourage and facilitate espionage and sabotage behind enemy lines.

SOE operations in France are co-ordinated by F Section. Between May 1941 and August 1944, more than four hundred F Section agents will be sent into occupied France.

Within the tragedy, travesty and moral ambiguity of war, the characters Adelle DeWitt and Laurence Dominic can be at home.





“Adelle, there you are.” Any hope of making an unobtrusive entrance disappeared as every set of eyes in the room turned in her direction. “Come and meet our new ‘friends’” Sighing, she crossed to Clive Ambrose. A practised smile firmly in place, she noted the other attendees and speculated as to the identity of anyone she didn’t recognise. She wasn’t surprised to be the only woman present.


Ambrose smiled expansively and anyone who didn’t know him as well as she did might miss the anxiety lurking beneath his veneer of confidence. He gave no sign that his section had recently suffered a major security breech, a betrayal really – one that had cost scores of lives and exposed certain elements of their operation. In dealing with the aftermath, she had neither the time nor the energy to be anxious.


The man standing with Ambrose was older and she automatically categorised him as more a politician than a true Lt. Colonel. Not surprising – the Americans had mobilised fast; she would bet her mother’s diamonds that the man currently undressing her with his eyes was not career military.


“Colonel Harding, Adelle DeWitt, my assistant.” In point of fact she was Section F’s Intelligence Officer and only Ambrose’s assistant because it allowed her to keep a close eye on him. But as she and Harding shook hands, he holding onto hers for a beat too long, she didn’t feel the need to issue a correction. She suspected Harding had a very good idea of who she was and what she did.


As the meeting convened Clive drew her to one side. “Any news?” he asked.


“Caroline made the rendezvous point – we’ll debrief this evening.”


“The timing couldn’t be worse,” he grumbled, “the American’s are going to be all over this. Harding asked me about it before you arrived and the PM’s insisting that we co-operate with them.”


“We are allies,” she pointed out, more to see his outraged expression than for any other reason. He was territorial and she didn’t imagine the instruction to co-operate had been well received.


Just before they really got started the door opened to admit one more person. He nodded to the Chair, muttered something that might just have been an apology and strode confidently to settle into a chair by Harding’s side. His uniform was pristine and he certainly had a swagger, but she had very little doubt that this man had been a soldier for some time.


He surveyed the room like a man accustomed to assessing threats and identifying a safe exit. When his gaze reached her, he gave no sign of surprise that she was watching him and she raised an eyebrow – refusing to be intimidated at being caught. Cool blue eyes appraised her for a moment before he inclined his head slowly in acknowledgement, just a hint of a smirk playing over his lips. Interesting she decided.


* * *

“First off, we’d like to welcome our American allies to Great Britain.”


The British General’s smile didn’t strike Captain Laurence Dominic as genuine, so he tuned out the introductory remarks and review of the agenda, returned his attention to the green eyed woman and wondered what role she would play in the performance that had just begun. She clearly wasn’t here to take minutes. The pale youngster in a uniform that looked too big for him scribbled frantically.


He usually assessed women quickly, at least with regard to appearance; however, she befuddled him. Is she actually beautiful or simply very attractive? Not that the difference mattered particularly; it simply occupied the time until someone said something worth hearing. She certainly wasn’t hard on the eyes, but women didn’t look like her back home. Her beauty might be a European brand he wasn’t familiar with, though he doubted many European women looked completely at home sitting at a table full of men about to discuss infiltration, troop movements and munitions.


“I now turn the floor over to Colonel Clive Ambrose.”


A name he recognized recaptured Dominic’s attention. When the man sitting next to the woman rose, he decided she was likely SOE also. Dominic hadn’t decided what he thought about Churchill’s secret army. Harding had been highly and vocally skeptical, signifying only that he hadn’t been the one to propose throwing quickly trained British civilians at the Germans.


To Dominic’s dismay, Ambrose spoke in generalities and clichés. How in the hell does anything get done here?


A few other Section Heads addressed the group, some with greater confidence and knowledge, allowing Dominic to rank them. Unless his forte was politics and Dominic had no way of assessing that at the moment, Ambrose didn’t rank very high, making him feel a bit badly for the green eyed lady.


Halfway into the meeting, she spoke. The perfectly modulated, cut glass accent he’d expected, but he hadn’t anticipated the way everyone sat up and took notice. The authority in her analysis and the way every word she uttered made sense demanded that he follow suit. Impressed, he found himself annoyed that no one said her name. The Major that had turned the floor over to her initially had called her, “dear lady,” and she always knew when a question was directed at her without being specifically addressed.


When the topics slated for beating to death had been so flayed, Colonel Harding clapped his hand on Dominic’s shoulder. “Come along, Captain,” he said. “It’s time to play nice with the SOE.”


“Yes, sir.” Dominic followed in Harding’s wake, pleased that he wended his way toward Ambrose and the mystery woman. Half way there, Harding rounded on Dominic. “I went out on a limb to recommend you for this. Don’t make me sorry.”


“I’m qualified,” Dominic countered. “Hell, I’m the only one under your command who is.”


“I could’ve let Danvers have this liaison posting, but I didn’t. If you screw up, neither of us will ever live it down.”


The knowledge that Harding would never willingly cede any posting of note to a rival allowed Dominic to keep his temper. “I have no intention of failing,” he said. “This could be a steppingstone for me.”


“A little ambition is one thing, Captain. Too much, quite another.”


This from the man whose only ambition is to get laid as much as possible. “Obviously,” Dominic said, content to let Harding stew over the comment.


“Do you have a moment Clive?” Harding said, smiling at the woman in a way that put Dominic’s back up even further.


He wondered why the quick look she and Ambrose exchanged made her frown. Don’t you want to stay and be ogled by the Colonel with the perpetually open fly? Don’t blame you, sweetheart. I wouldn’t either.


“I want to introduce you to the officer I told you about. Dominic has a great deal of intelligence experience, so I think he could be useful to you.”


The woman appeared calm and collected. She was smart, so she’d undoubtedly know he’d report back to Harding and have concerns about that. He considered it part of his job to alleviate those concerns.


“Of course, we’re grateful for any help, but are you sure you can spare the Captain?” Ambrose muttered through teeth that had to be gritted. The head of Section F was far less copacetic with the situation, evidently.


“Absolutely,” Harding asserted. “I’m looking forward to him not being underfoot.” Harding’s eyes found Dominic’s. “Some of the men find the chain of command confusing when we’re both around.” He shrugged. “The pitfalls of rapid mobilization.”


Ambrose commiserated before extending his hand with a smile that appeared a trifle less forced. “Welcome aboard, Captain. Can I introduce Adelle DeWitt – my assistant and section F’s Intelligence Officer.”


Finally, he had a name for the woman wearing a tweed jacket, wool skirt and high heels. “A pleasure, ma’am.” Unlike Harding, Dominic believed politeness and deference weren’t solely reserved for addressing men he viewed as superior in some form or fashion. His mother had been adamant on that point, as she’d been about so many others.


She murmured a greeting and then switched to French. “I hope you’re settling in with little misadventure or fanfare, Captain.”


He responded in the same language. “Nothing worth noting, ma’am. Misadventures are my superior’s purview.”


She smiled. “French-Canadian?” she asked.


“My mother,” he replied, following her switch back to English. “I’ll work on removing the Canadian overlay, if you think it prudent.”


“I’d be far more interested in identifying any potential SOE operatives within the US troops already stationed here,” she said.


“I’d be happy to assist.” Thinking about sending Americans who spoke fluent French into occupied France, he wished he’d selected a different word.


“I have another meeting,” Ambrose said. “Adelle, can you make sure Captain Dominic is settled?”


“Of course. Captain, do you mind the walk back to Baker Street?”


A wave of fatigue washed over Dominic, but he pushed it away. “Ma’am, I’ve been here for a little less than 24 hours. I barely found my way here from my billet and was damn lucky not to have been any later arriving.” Recalling her footwear and noting how it put them almost at eye level, he said, “I have no idea where Baker Street is, though I’m guessing it isn’t a three mile hike.”


“Not quite.” She smiled, making him suspect she’d caught the shoe referent, veiled though it had been. “Are you ready, Captain?”


She walked quickly. He was amazed that her stride easily matched his before he realized he’d matched his to hers. Dominic had a feeling many people, men in particular, shifted to accommodate this woman.


Adelle DeWitt hadn’t seemed overly annoyed to have him imposed on her section, so Dominic decided to tread lightly to keep it that way. He’d read enough about the SOE’s activities in France to conclude they had an excellent strategist within the ranks. Clive Ambrose didn’t strike him as such, making him wonder if the woman next to him fit that bill.


She gave him a rapid and detailed geography lesson. Her information, plus the maps he’d already seen, gave Dominic a relatively good idea of the layout of the center of the city. He hadn’t been prepared for the amount and extent of the destruction left by the Luftwaffe’s bombing. People went about their business, busy and purposefu.


“Everyone pitching in,” he ventured, breaking the rule he’d established for himself. “It’s impressive.”


“It isn’t a matter of choice, Captain.”


Trusting his instincts, he didn’t let the edge in her tone silence him. “Yes, it is. People could have chosen to give up. They didn’t.”


Once they’d arrived, Miss DeWitt moved purposefully through the corridors of the Baker Street facility, occasionally exchanging greetings. When she finally came to a stop in an anteroom, a young woman looked up and smiled in what appeared to be relief.


“Where do you want me to start with your messages?” she asked.


“At the beginning, I suspect, Judith,” she said, “but first meet Captain Dominic. He’s going to be joining us. Captain Dominic, this is Judith. She guards my door and makes sure I know where I am supposed to be. Judith, would you find Captain Dominic a desk, an office if possible?”


“Lille or Marseille?” Judith asked, the city names clearly a code of some kind. Adelle DeWitt turned those impossible eyes on him, one hand on her hip, eyebrow raised in inquiry and he answered his own question from earlier. She was beautiful in a manner unlike anyone he had ever met.


“Paris,” he said, guessing the locations implied proximity to the power in Section F, to Miss DeWitt. “I’m here to be useful,” he said, surprised by how much he meant it.


“Ma’am?” It was crystal clear where Judith’s loyalties resided.


“Very well,” Adelle said after an extended internal debate. “Paris it is. Don’t make me regret my decision,” she added as she turned on those impressive heels and retreated into the office beyond. Her words mirrored Harding’s, but he couldn’t imagine this woman having much else in common with the Colonel.


Judith looked him over, not making much of an attempt to hide her surprise. “You and I are going to be spending some time together,” she observed, managing to be disapproving and impeccably polite at the same time.


“Am I getting your desk?” he asked.


“There’s an office through there,” she gestured to a narrow doorway across the corridor, “I think it was a broom cupboard at one time. To see Miss DeWitt, you need to get past me.”


“I’ll bet that isn’t as easy as it sounds.” Judith’s smile told him everything he needed to know.


* * *

“Captain Dominic, Miss DeWitt would like you in the briefing room.” Smirking slightly, Judith added, “I’ll show you to it.”


Grateful for an excuse to escape his tiny office, he didn’t question the decision to include him on only his second day. “What’s going on?” he asked, as he squeezed past his desk.


“Codename Madeline is to be deployed tonight, if the weather holds. Miss. DeWitt always meets with the operatives before they go.”


Dominic strode into a room that barely accomodated the conference table and surrounding chairs. He nodded to Miss DeWitt and habitually took a seat from which he had a sightline to the door and the windows. A young woman with long, wavy dark hair and gorgeous eyes smiled over at him. He smiled back. An oddly dressed young man with sandy hair and long slender fingers fiddled with some sort of strange device. He had a mischievous look about him. Dominic knew the type—they never took anything seriously.


“Mellie, this is Captain Dominic,” Adelle DeWitt said. “He’s here to observe this part of our process.”


The young woman rose gracefully and offered her hand. He stood and took it. “You’re heading to France,” he said, wishing it was the young man heading into harm’s way.


Smile infinitely sad, she said, “I might as well.”


“I’m sorry you feel that way,” he said.


Squeezing his hand briefly before releasing it, she asked, “Why?”


He snuck a peek at Miss DeWitt; she leaned back in her chair, tapping a file folder lightly with her pen, watching. “It’s not relevant,” he said.


“Perhaps not, but I’d still like to know.”


“Fess up, Captain America,” said the young man.


Captain America? Perfect.


“Mellie’s heading for the front lines—a place you’ve never been,” he continued. “It’s the least you can do.”


“And you are?” Dominic asked, refusing to term the question stalling.


“Topher Brink.” When Adelle cleared her throat, he added, “I’m in charge of the armory.”


This boy doesn’t hand out rifles and ammo. “What does that mean?”


Topher shared a glance with Adelle, disappointment apparent. “He’s smarter than he looks. I thought you dragged him in here to gaze into the pretty blue eyes.”


“Any person entering this room has more to recommend them than arresting eyes, Topher,” Adelle said, a not nice smile forming. “Don’t tempt me to make them a requirement; however, because you will be sending Ivy in your stead.”


Giving Adelle a wide berth, Topher wedged himself between Mellie and Dominic and offered him a cigarette. “What the hell is this?” Dominic demanded, the item not the right weight or texture to be a cigarette.


“Single shot pistol,” Topher said. “They come in ten to a pack.” Topher replaced the “cigarette” and handed the pack to Mellie. “The ten in the front are actual cigarettes. Mixing them up could lead to a moment of the very awkward.”


Mellie stepped around Topher to face Dominic. “You didn’t answer my question.”


“You looked really sad,” he said, shrugging.


“That’s part of it,” she said. “What’s the rest?”


Do they grow women really perceptive here? “You ... um ... remind me of my younger sister’s friends and I can’t imagine them doing anything more dangerous than smiling at another girl’s date.”


“I imagine there’s a lot you can’t imagine, Captain A,” Topher said, grinning, looking to the women for something. Approval, maybe.


“I can vividly imagine any number of ways to shut your smart mouth,” Dominic said in a low intense tone most sensible people found intimidating.


Topher aimed his gizmo at Dominic. “I’m ready whenever you are.”


“Let us stand down and discuss tonight’s operation, gentlemen,” Adelle said. “This mission and the woman undertaking it deserve our undivided attention.”


Dominic muttered, “Yes, ma’am,” while Topher saluted her jauntily.


Miss DeWitt formally called the meeting to order. Ordinarily, Dominic found such things superfluous, but it felt right and the operative responded to it. Watching Mellie, he decided the ritual, for lack of a better word, calmed and comforted her. Miss DeWitt reviewed the mission objectives and the two most likely sequences in which they might be achieved. Mellie’s primary and secondary entry points in France were discussed, potential contacts as well. The short list of SOE operatives she was forbidden to contact surprised and intrigued him, but he didn’t interrupt. Each and every operational detail, however minor, was supported by considered analysis. Fascinated, Dominic observed Mellie take it all in one final time. As she repeated back the call and response needed to identify her to the radio operator, Judith entered, handed Miss DeWitt a sheet of paper and retreated.


Topher’s whistling grated on Dominic’s nerves and earned a glare from Miss DeWitt. “The weather will not delay us,” she said. “Mission Damsel in Distress is a go. Mellie, Captain Dominic will be your contact with us throughout.”


Mellie took a deep breath and stood. “I’m glad.”


“What did she do to deserve the rookie?” Topher asked. “Try to poison your tea? Sit on your crumpets?”


“I have intelligence experience,” Dominic snarled, anger overtaking surprise at his appointment.


“You haven’t sent a pretty lady into the jaws of the beast and managed to sleep at night afterward.”


“That will be all, Topher,” Adelle said. “Please escort Mellie to the ready room.” The instant the two exited, she said, “Will there be a problem with Mellie or Topher, Captain Dominic?”


“No, ma’am.” He focussed his attention on the file folder in front of Miss DeWitt.



“Are you attracted to her?”


“No.”


“You didn’t take your eyes off of her during the briefing.”


“So?”


“Enough of this, state your concern, Captain Dominic.”


“I don’t have one.”


Miss DeWitt tossed her pen onto the conference table. “State whatever it is you have, then.”


He’d never been less sure that the best option was the truth. “Mellie is exactly the kind of woman my mother would want me to bring home. Kind. Beautiful in a normal, accessible way. Sure, there’s toughness and nerve, but she’s basically sweet and very sad. Intellectually, I’m fine with the mission. I understand why she’s perfect for it, but she’s young and has her whole life ahead of her. In France, that’s more likely to be measured in weeks than years.” Wondering if he was asking for a transfer, he said, “It seems like a waste.”


“Madeline—as you should school yourself to think of her—has buried a husband and a child, giving her a maturity and depth beyond her years.”


“But she can eventually ...” Voice dropping as the thought struck him, Dominic asked, “Can Mellie have another child?”


“No. Madeline wants to forget the past.” Tone softening, she added, “It will be easier if you separate Mellie from Madeline.”


“Nothing about this will be easy.”


“I must ask you, Captain. Is the problem that she’s a woman?”


His, “I don’t think so,” sounded tentative to his own ears.


“There are many women in the French Resistance.”


“I know.”


“What of me?” she challenged, coming around the table at speed, dynamiting him to his feet. “Do you believe me incapable of undertaking Madeline’s mission?”


“I don’t believe you’re incapable of much of anything. You’d meet Mel ... ah ... Madeline’s objectives or convince, cajole or manouver others into doing it for you.”


Expression unfathomable, Miss DeWitt stepped closer. “I wonder whether you would be immune to such tactics, Captain Dominic, now that you’ve decided I possess a Machiavellian soul.”


The silence held so many intriguing possibilities and potential pitfalls Dominic couldn’t begin to identify them, but he’d never experienced one both decidedly comfortable and almost painfully uncomfortable. I can’t believe I had trouble deciding that this woman is beautiful or that I find someone this fierce attractive.


“I sincerely doubt it, ma’am.”


* * *

Laurence Dominic stepped into Colonel Harding’s office and snapped off a salute. Harding returned it desultorily. “Sit down, Dominic,” he said. “What’s your girl been up to?”


How the hell does Harding know about Madeline? She’s not even settled in France? “She’s not fully deployed yet,” Dominic muttered.


“That’s an interesting way of putting it.”


“Sir?”


“Believe you me, Captain Dominic, I evaluated every aspect of your record before I decided to take you on. Officially and unofficially. Women like you. They want to fuck you, marry you or make you dinner. That’s of use to me. Now tell me about the woman you work with.”


Confused but forging ahead, he said, “Madeline hasn’t hit the ground in France yet.”


“We’ll return to the delicate topic of you running a female operative later,” Harding said, laughing heartily. “For now, I’m interested in Adelle DeWitt.”


“She’s scary smart, thorough and fearless.” Not understanding Harding’s frown, Dominic decided to go for the gusto. “She’s more than up to the task she’s been entrusted with, even with the albatross of Clive Ambrose hanging around her neck. I’m impressed.”


“Does she have a lover?”


Dominic blinked several times, mind shifting gears. “I don’t know for certain, but I’d say no.’”


“Why?”


“She doesn’t come to work relaxed or with a smile on her face. She doesn’t leave with any obvious anticipation of a night out or in.” Uncomfortable, but knowing he had to say something more, Dominic added, “She either doesn’t currently have a lover or she has a lousy one and I can’t imagine her settling for that.”


“Really? You have a window into the lovely Adelle’s romantic expectations? You’re going to be more useful than I thought.”


He laughed, thinking how little he really knew about her preferences, but he sensed the rightness of his surmises. “She won’t take second best. She doesn’t have to. Men vie for her attention. These days, she’s surrounded by soldiers and I don’t think she’s all that impressed.”


The Colonel grinned and rubbed his hands together expectantly. “She just needs to meet the right Army man.”


“I wouldn’t know, sir,” Dominic said.


“What sort of approach?” Harding mused, leaning back in his chair, expression thoughtful. “Flowers? A dinner invitation? What will soften her up the fastest?”


Staring at Harding’s wedding ring, he said, “Adelle DeWitt is no notch on any man’s bedpost. If they’re lucky, they’ll be a notch on hers.”


“Is that a goal you’ve set for yourself, Dominic?” Harding’s expression made it perfectly clear how outrageous he thought his own suggestion.


“No, sir, she’s out of my league.”


“Don’t you forget it, son,” Harding said. His satisfied smile faded quickly. “Now, tell me what in the blue blazes possessed you to agree to run a female operative.”


Dominic shrugged. “It was a test I had to pass.”


“Explain.”


“Churchill’s given the go ahead to use female operatives. Miss DeWitt wanted to see if I had a problem with that.”


“Do you?”


“I said I didn’t.”


“I didn’t ask what you said, Captain.”


Sighing, Dominic said, “Yes.”


“Of course you do!” Harding said, slamming his fist on his desk. “What man wouldn’t? Women have no place in the war machine at all and certainly not as spies, saboteurs or assassins.”


“There are tactical advantages to using women as spies,” Dominic said, not willing to take on sabotage and assassination.


Something almost sinister flashed in Harding’s eyes when he said, “Enlighten me.”


“They can move about in the daytime more freely than men and the Germans are less suspicious of newly arrived women. Cousins or sisters coming into the relative safety of towns or cities from outlying areas are common and they, like you and I, view most women as non threatening.”


“Did she at least bat her lovely green eyes while she brainwashed you?”


“She explained the situation in France to me. Her strategy is sound.”


“But?”


Amusing Colonel Harding was never high on Dominic’s list and he didn’t like doing it now. “I was raised to respect and protect women. Sending Madeline into France flies in the face of the latter.”


“What would your beautiful colleague from SOE say to that?”


Dominic could almost hear Miss DeWitt’s voice in his head. “Preparing her well and supporting her to the extent we’re able is protecting her.”


“Your rebuttal, Captain?”


“It isn’t enough.” Closing his eyes briefly, Dominic said, “I’m not sure what would be.”


“You’ll keep me apprised of—Madeline, did you say?” To his nod, Harding said, “Madeline’s intelligence and anything else that might be relevant to our aims.”


“Of course, sir.”


“That will be all, then.” Harding stood a few heartbeats after Dominic and he returned the salute with more respect this time. “Running a female operative. Better you than me, Captain.”


With that, Dominic couldn’t agree more.


* * *

“How are you getting along with your new recruit?” Clive Ambrose inquired. His tone might have been casual but Adelle knew better. He didn’t like their new allies trampling over his empire and having one of them attached to F section was rubbing salt into the wound.


“I haven’t had a great deal of time to make an assessment. However, he seems to understand what we’re about. I’ve asked him to select some potential recruits – I’ll know more when I review them.” Considering how carefully Dominic had decided where to sit in their recent meeting, she added, “He has the instincts and behaviour of someone who understands intelligence work.”


“Why do I feel as though there is a ‘but’ coming on?”


“He is uncomfortable about our use of women.”


“That hardly makes him unusual Adelle,” Clive responded, “half the Cabinet agree and I imagine many of our new allies are horrified to learn that the SOE is sending women into occupied France.”


She sighed, the argument an old one. “We’ve discussed this Clive.”


“We have; I’m just reminding you that our allies haven’t. Americans prefer their women as girls next door – sweet, innocent and homely. I know we’ve mobilised women and they’ll have to do so as well but working in munitions factories and driving ambulances is one thing, being sent into occupied territory quite another.” He sighed. “Perhaps you can exercise some of your famous persuasiveness on Captain what’shisname.”


“Dominic,” she supplied.


“Of course, if you think he is going to be a problem. I don’t mind telling Harding you can’t work with him.”


She sighed. Clive would make sure Harding knew she’d complained. It was irrelevant, fortunately. Captain Dominic had demonstrated efficiency, organisational skills and a capacity to reflect upon what the situation demanded. Such pragmatism was rare – and useful.


“That won’t be necessary,” she said, “he passed my test with regard to Madeline – he may find the idea unpalatable, but he understood the necessity. I think he may turn out to be a valuable asset.”


“Not to mention giving us a window onto Harding – how loyal do you think he is?”


“I imagine he’s a loyal soldier and an intelligent one.” Clive tried to unravel that but gave up.


“I never know what you mean when you go all cryptic, Adelle. I’ll leave it up to you, but bear in mind that he works for Harding.” He slid a folder across the desk towards her, “this might help.”


“What is it?”


“His file.” She smiled – resting her hand on the folder but making no move to open it.


“He was educated at West Point,” she began, “he’s extremely intelligent – scoring highly on tests related to logic but also demonstrating strong leadership skills. People respect and trust him. He obeys orders but thinks for himself; commanding officers value his contributions and have accordingly fast tracked him for promotion. He isn’t married and has something of a quixotic streak – women featured very strongly in his upbringing, he respects them but also thinks they need to be protected.”


“I should have expected you to use your own sources to check him out. Read the file anyway.” She smiled and didn’t enlighten him thatshe’d drawn her conclusions from observations (her own and Judith’s). “Are his people going to be of any use?”


“I’ll know that when I assess them. At the moment I want to help him understand more about our operations. His first meeting with Topher was not a resounding success.”


“In fairness, no one’s first meeting with Dr. Brink is a resounding success, which is not unconnected to the fact that he’s a blazing lunatic. Captain...” he waved his hand and she supplied the name once more.


“Dominic.”


“Quite, he shows excellent judgment. I’ll leave it in your capable hands then.”


“Thank you.” She knew that meant he would claim credit for success, but that the blame for anything that went wrong would be placed squarely at her door. Business as usual.


* * *


“Are you ready for your facility tour, Captain Dominic?”


He closed the file he’d been studying. “I wouldn’t mind stretching my legs, Miss DeWitt.”


“I’m afraid our destinations are too far flung for that,” she said, smiling slightly, looking very well put together in a blouse and skirt of tan linen. “I’ll have my driver bring the car around.”


“Why sit in the back of a sedan pretending to find the scenery fascinating when you can drive too fast in a military Jeep?” he countered, pulling a set of keys from his pocket. Adelle looked at him as though he’d lost his mind. “What’s the matter?”


“You parked a somewhat conspicuous vehicle nearby?”


“When will you accept that I’m not an idiot?” Sighing dramatically, he said, “it’s parked across the street from my billet and I can’t help that it isn’t all that far from your HQ. I’m in the Army. I go where I’m told.”


“Do you do everything you’re told?”


Happy at the prospect of getting out of his tiny workspace, he muttered, “Depends on who’s giving the orders, ma’am.”


“I’ll bear that in mind.”


Dominic spent the twelve minute walk wondering if Adelle DeWitt had been flirting with him. Before he could decide, he heard his name called. Four young men who’d been loitering outside his billet approached as he opened the passenger door of the jeep for Miss DeWitt and helped her in.


The dark haired one in the lead saluted and said, “We have a situation, sir.” Flushing slightly, he said, “Two actually.”


“As you can see, Lieutenant, I’m otherwise occupied.”


“Begging your pardon, sir, ma’am.” His sympathy-seeking smile at Miss DeWitt wilted in the face of supreme disdain. “I wouldn’t darken your doorstep if it wasn’t urgent. He wants Brookens,” he gestured to a smaller man with unruly red hair, “to send this.” The Lieutenant shoved a piece of paper into Dominic’s hand.


Stepping away from the Jeep, knowing “he” meant Colonel Harding, Dominic quickly scanned the handwritten text. “Give me five minutes?” he said to Adelle.


“Of course,” she said, settling in, as if to watch a play she expected to be average at best.


He kept his voice low. “Brookens, I was unaware your duties included decoding the reports you’re ordered to send encoded.”


“He does it in his head, sir,” the Lieutenant said. “It’s the damnedest thing. I only had him write it out, so you could see it.” Glancing over at Miss DeWitt, he added, “He’s shafting the Brits and we’ve only just got here, sir.”


“Burn this when you’re through,” Dominic hissed. “Pen.” Not noticing which of the boys put the writing implement in his hand, Dominic leaned the paper on his thigh and altered the text to a neutral, cautiously optimistic slant. “Send this,” he said, handing paper and pen back.


“What’ll we do if Harding bitches?”


Dominic’s eyes bore into the Lieutenant’s. “Do you really think he’ll check?”


The kid grinned. “No, sir.”


“But if he does, tell the truth. I changed it.”


“Yes, sir.” The Lieutenant pulled a boy that didn’t look eighteen forward. “This is Private Nelson. He’s been done a bad turn.”


Dominic glanced at his watch. “You have 90 seconds.”


“My ... my girl back home, Rachel is her name, sent me a picture, sir. One of them big ones, almost the size of a piece of paper. Harding took it.”


“You have got to be kidding,” Dominic muttered.


“I saw it in his office,” said the fourth kid, “in the small drawer of the cabinet where he keeps his liquor. She looks like Rita Hayworth. No lie.”


“Christ almighty!” Wondering what Miss DeWitt had overheard or surmised from body language, tone and the like, he said, “Here’s what you’re going to do. Steal it back, seal it in an envelope and send it to me at this address.” He pointed to his billet. “After Harding’s checked Nelson’s and Nelson’s buddies billets on whatever pretexts he dreams up, get word to me. I’ll return it unopened.”


“Thank you, sir,” said the youngster with an allegedly gorgeous girlfriend.


Dominic turned to the fourth. “You stay out of Harding’s liquor cabinet after this.” He didn’t trust the kid’s nod in the least, but he didn’t care. He was looking forward to getting out of London for a while.


“You take care that he doesn’t steal your lady, sir,” the Lieutenant said, nodding toward the Jeep. “He’s a snake in the tall grass.”


“That’s not my lady, boys,” he said. “That’s my other boss.”


“How can I get a boss that looks like her?” Brookens asked.


“You can’t.” Wondering for the umpteenth time why he’d been saddled with Harding, Dominic climbed into the Jeep. “Sorry,” he said.


“Crisis averted?” Adelle asked, tone perfectly neutral.


“So long as they don’t get caught,” he muttered, not quite under his breath evidently.


“What did you advise them to do, Captain Dominic?”


He started the Jeep. “Alter a report headed for Washington and steal something in a superior officer’s possession.”


Miss DeWitt kept her thoughts on his transgressions to herself, confining her words to driving directions. “We stay on this road for some time,” seemed to call for conversation, but innocuous topics didn’t fly into Dominic’s head and she seemed content with silence. The narrow winding road inspired him to increase speed. The tension in his shoulders eased, but the headache that had arrived along with the Lieutenant’s problems remained.


She lurched toward him when he took a corner too fast. “Sorry.”


“Don’t be.” She used his shoulder as a lever to resume her previous position. “Are you unwell, Captain?”


“My head hurts,” he admitted.


“You should have a massage. Done well, they work wonders.”


Not wanting to admit he’d never had one, he ventured, “Maybe you could recommend someone.”


Her unfathomable expression became breathtaking when she smiled. “I certainly could.”


His heart shifted into a higher gear and Dominic overcorrected when the Jeep slid onto the small shoulder and nearly sideswiped the low stone wall on the other side of the road. He felt Miss DeWitt’s amusement. “You’re probably wishing for your regular driver right about now.”


“No,” she murmured. “Joshua doesn’t attack the roadway.”


“Good.” He risked another glance at her. She looked interested. Dominic liked being interesting almost as much as he did the more relaxed and windblown Adelle Dewitt. Vowing to pay better attention to the road and regain his composure, Dominic slowed down. “I ... ah ... should probably tell you that Colonel Harding asked a lot of questions about you, up to and including whether you were seeing anyone.”


“What did you tell him?”


God, I’d kill to keep her talking to me in that tone. He gripped the steering wheel harder, imagining his hands on Harding’s throat. “Look,” he said, “forewarned is forearmed. Harding expects women to be impressed with his rank and the uniform. If you have no interest, making it clear might be tough.”


“Even if I lead him to believe you’ve already bedded me?”


Dominic swallowed hard. “Especially then. He can’t even allow poor Nelson a photograph of his Rita Hayworth lookalike girlfriend. Who knows what he’d do to get his hands on an actual woman?”


“Somehow, I doubt you’d allow that, particularly if I asked you not to.”


He closed his eyes against her words and rocketed them open again when the jeep slid onto gravel. “I wouldn’t, but that would be awkward for me.”


“How far is the good Colonel along in formulating his plan to have me?”


She’s awfully calm about this. And candid. Who knows? Maybe women talk more about sex over here. “He was considering whether to send you flowers or invite you to dinner.” Cursing his curiosity, he asked, “Does the flowers thing really work?”


“Depends on the woman, the flowers and what you hope to accomplish by giving them to her.” Adelle smiled; he sighed and forced himself to look away. “Take the next left hand turn, Captain.”


“Yes, ma’am. Are we getting close?” The alternative interpretation occurred to him too late.


She, fortunately, ignored it. “No, we follow this next road for some time as well.”


They talked intermittently of nothing consequential until a flash of color caught his eye. Inspired, Dominic pulled the Jeep off to the side of the road.


“Why have we stopped?” Miss DeWitt asked.


“I want to try something,” he said. “Stay here.” Dominic got out of the car and surveyed the tiny collection of wild flowers sheltered from wind and basking in the less nurturing sunshine of February. He picked a deep blue specimen. “For you,” he said, offering it through the window she had opened.


Hesitantly, she accepted and smiled. “Thank you.”


“Well, that half worked,” Dominic said. Miss DeWitt laughed. He grinned. “There’s the second phase of that operation.” As he climbed back into the Jeep, he said, “Here’s hoping Harding asks you to dinner.”


* * *

Amazed that Adelle DeWitt had tabbed an attractive young woman, rather than the clown Topher Brink, to conduct his tour of the armory, Laurence Dominic had a decided spring in his step. Ivy’s straightforwardness put him at ease.


She halted next to a box full of dull gray rocks. “Let me guess,” he said, “those aren’t what they look like.”


“Watch,” Ivy said, efficiently readying another demonstration.


“May I ask you something?” he ventured.


“Certainly,” she said, smiling over at him.


“How do you work with Brink?”


“That’s everyone’s first question.”


“It was my second,” he corrected.


“Only because you’re polite enough to ask if you can ask,” Ivy said, motioning Dominic back and joining him next to a control panel. “I treat Topher like my youngest brother.”


Dominic appreciated the matter of fact tone. “How do you treat your brother?”


“I wait on him hand and foot, because he’s incapable of doing anything for himself.”


Speaking carefully, he said, “That seems ... unsatisfactory.”


“Perhaps,” Ivy said, fiddling with instrumentation beyond Dominic’s ken, “but I’m accustomed to it.” Her shrug somehow connoted the antithesis of indifference. “Topher is a genius, but I’m no slouch. I just haven’t been able to convince many people about the second part yet.” She gestured to the test area. “Our operatives have use for these, Captain Dominic.”


The rock detonated with impressive force, certainly enough to maim or kill. “I’ll say,” Dominic said, testing the heft of another specimen. “Do I lob it like a grenade or throw it like a rock?”


“It looks like a rock, so the enemy doesn’t know what’s coming; it would defeat the purpose if it had to be thrown like a grenade.”


“I should have guessed that.”


“Try it,” Ivy suggested. “Aim for the target on the east wall.”


He hit it just to the right of the bull’s eye and the explosion echoed in the large room. “It detonates on impact or by remote control?” Ivy nodded. “What’s the range?” he asked.


“100 feet.”


“Excellent.” As he watched Ivy shut the machinery down, Dominic said, “DeWitt’s impressed with talent. Other qualifications or alleged limitations come a distant second and third.”


“You know her well,” Ivy said, radiating amazement.


“I have certain impressions, but I don’t know whether they’re accurate yet.”


“Yes, you do.”


Dominic saw an unnerving wisdom in Ivy’s eyes. “If you’re good enough, you’ll advance, and it doesn’t matter that you’re a woman. I imagine DeWitt’s stance shocks a lot of men. We aren’t used to female competition.” He chuckled, thinking back on what he’d experienced so far of the SOE. “I think I could come around to her way of thinking, seeing the quality of the women around here.” Closing his eyes briefly against Ivy’s effort not to smile, he said, “In terms of loyalty and work ethic, not looks. Not that you aren’t pretty. Christ, I should just shut up.”


“Captain Dominic, I work with Topher. You can’t hope to compete with the inanities he utters.” She bumped her shoulder into his upper arm companionably.


“I’m not trying to.”


“I know.” This time, she didn’t bother to hide her smile and Dominic wondered if he’d ever get through a day at this posting without embarrassment.


“Captain America! You should’ve called ahead. I’d have had your shield ready.”


“Brink,” Dominic said, curtly nodding to him.


“Captain America has an indestructible shield, Ivy,” Topher said before miming the hurling of a discus. “He tosses it at bad guys sometimes.” Topher looked Dominic up and down. “Peak human perfection, you are not. Must’ve been something wrong with the batch of serum they gave you.” Nodding vigorously, he speculated, “Or maybe the Vita-Ray procedure glitched somehow.”


“I’ve been showing Captain Dominic what we do when you aren’t reading comics.”


“Is he impressed?” Topher asked, his full attention on Ivy.


“He throws a mean rock grenade and has pointed out, correctly, that the shrapnel scatter from our boulders is uneven.”


“The scatter’s supposed to be uneven, Captain A.” Topher threw out his right hand. “The good guys are on one side.” Left hand dramatically flung also, he added, “The Germans, the other.”


“That’s the way things often play out in battle, but your gizmos aren’t going to be used that way. It’d be a shame to locate a souped up landmine in the midst of a group of German soldiers and only have half of them pay the price.”


Before Topher could argue, Adelle DeWitt ordered, “devise a version with a more even scatter please and work out a way for our operatives to tell the designs apart.”


“As you command, my queen,” Topher said, bowing low to Adelle. “Progress would progress more smoothly, if my assistant is relieved of superhero sitting detail. I need someone to fetch me things.”

* * *


Adelle found her colleague, gazing out of magnificent windows at what had been the croquet lawn and was now a training space for hand to hand combat. In certain quarters her organisation was referred to as ‘Stately ‘Omes of England, in reference to the houses they’d acquired and utilised for training purposes. She didn’t find the witticism amusing.


She’d left Dominic’s tours in the capable hands of others. Everywhere the opinion about their new colleague had been largely positive. For her part, she knew he was a pleasant companion with a knack for putting people at their ease. In his presence she had relaxed –she couldn’t recall the last time that had happened around someone she scarcely knew. That he’d stopped to pick a flower for her had elevated pleasant to charming.


“It’s good,” he murmured as she joined him, “everything you’ve put together, how you prepare people.”


She could have told him that they’d had no choice but didn’t bother. “I’m glad you think so, especially since you hold that opinion despite having visited the armoury.”


His face hardened. “Does that mean I’m not the only person to take exception to Brink?”


“Dr. Brink,” she corrected gently. “He’s a genius, his inventions have enabled our agents to achieve more than I would ever have expected. Unfortunately he has little respect for, well – anyone.”


“I don’t see how that’s acceptable,” he said – sounding exactly like a well trained soldier, “there has to be a chain of command.”


“So, you aren’t in the habit of manoeuvring around your commanding officers? I’d gained a different impression.”


“It’s not something I routinely do,” he responded gruffly– his expression transmitting his discomfort. “I didn’t have a choice. Harding was a civilian a few weeks ago – he doesn’t understand. I know he has skills we might need, but he’s not military.”


“I am also a civilian Captain Dominic, should I expect you to work around me, when you think I don’t understand?”


“You and Harding are as different as night and day,” he offered. ”You’ve also been at this for a whole lot longer than three weeks.”


“Do you have a problem taking orders from a civilian?” His abrupt shake of the head seemed definitive. ”What about from a female civilian?”


“I decided it was necessary to protect the men under Harding’s command from a leader who has no clue.” Something, she couldn’t be sure what, was missing from his explanation. Before she could ask he said, “The rationale is similar to why I told you he expressed an interest in you.”


“You wanted to protect me by ensuring that I know that your CO intends to try to seduce me?”


“Should I have kept the information to myself?” he snapped. “Would you rather have found out when the flowers arrived, or the dinner invitation? I follow orders,” he stated firmly. “It’s what I’m trained to do. That includes following your orders, even though...”


“Even though as a woman I have no place in a war and should be looking after the home and waiting for my husband to return?” She appreciated that he didn’t deny it.


“That’s what I was brought up to believe.”


“Does your mother stay at home?”


“She works; she had no choice. My dad died in France in 1917; there was no other way to pay the rent and put food on the table. I had a job at 12, I was...”


“You were the man of the family?” Her soft tone drew an abrupt nod. “That’s admirable and I understand why this makes you uncomfortable. Our Government only recently approved the use of women in the field and the decision was far from uncontroversial. We have a reputation for selecting, unconventional agents--people that under normal circumstances the intelligence services would never recruit. It’s why the training is so important. If I am sending people to France, I want them prepared.”


She followed his gaze. What happened on that immaculate lawn now was a lifetime away from the sedate Sunday afternoon gatherings it had once hosted.

“I know it’s not possible to prepare fully – that the danger our operatives experience in France is not something I can fabricate.” She took a deep breath. “You have to understand we were alone for two years. Every day, we expected an invasion and every night the Luftwaffe destroyed our cities and boys, really, in Spitfires were all that held them at bay. Given that, the limitations of sex are irrelevant. Captain Dominic, this is a different war to the one our father’s fought; a war involving our citizenry. I was set the task of fighting fire with fire and I won’t apologise for doing that well. I’m not asking you to approve, but I can use your skills and I think you can make a valuable contribution here – but only if I can trust you to follow my orders – to not treat me the way you treat Harding.”

His eyes bored into hers, gaze penetrating but leaving her with no idea what he was searching for, what he expected to see. Nothing in the world could persuade her to look away. Voice low and almost hoarse, he replied, “As long as we’re here, I’m your man.”

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(Deleted comment)
This fic wasn't my idea and I knew nothing about the theater in which this plays out (Sicily and Italy). morgan72uk wondered if I might try to write a WWII Dom and it was interesting. What might a Laurence Dominic who existed back then feel like, act like, be like.

I hope this continues to be a shiny new amazing fic. I really do, b/c there's a long way to go. I'm editing episode 19 at the moment. Yay!

My favorite bit is Topher calling Dom Captain America, because, seriously, what else would he call him? So, so, so, so, so glad you enjoyed.

I'm still just ridiculously excited this is up -laugh-

Is it strange that I'm already thinking 'now how can all off this go terribly wrong?'

Well, maybe because Dollhouse proved that all can go most incredibly unbelievably wrong in the wrongest way possible.

Was this ep ok, though? Just asking.

It was good.

You're setting up a world, or rather, reintroducing us to a period of time.

A bit slow at times, but everyone needs to be on the chessboard before they start moving.

The set up can be slow, but hopefully not boring!

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

This is such a fantastic introduction to what I think is going to be an amazing fic. I've already fallen in love with the way you've both changed the characters to fit the time. It's so much better than I pictured from the summary. I can't wait to read more!

I'm glad the changes to the characters came across all right. It's always risky but necessary in AU situations.

Sounds like my summary needs work.:)

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

Shiny new fic! I literally gasped out loud when this came up on my livejournal.

This was excellent, I love the premise and the set up is excellent. I cannot wait for the next update. :)

Gasping is good! I think.:)

I'm glad you liked it. I can take no credit for the premise, but I did contribute to the set up somewhat. It was interesting to try to reimagine Dom in this setting.

Oh gosh...another epic. *braces self* LET'S DO THIS! :D

TOPHER!!! Captain America! YESSSSSS!!!! Ohmygosh, yesssssssssssssssssss!!!! Dominic = Captain America, this is now canon in my head. He is the cousin of Steve Rogers! I...I...yes!

Awwww! The side characters/cronies/Dominic-fanboys are awesome! They're so wide-eyed and worshipful! Awwww!

Also, Harding is deliciously gross and creepy.... I would not like to share a room with him... and his ill-functioning wedding band....

I'm not entirely sure what you're doing with the whole "women in combat" motif... I think I like it... (I mean, obviously, Adelle DeWitt can take down whoever, whenever she wants in stiletto heels and sipping tea), but I can't tell if Dominic's thoughts on women are of the chivalrous "You're a woman [and thus beautiful/precious/etc] so you shouldn't have to fight" or if it's the "You're a woman [and thus weak and frail] so you can't fight." The first one I find endearing and sweet (I'm from the South; I get spoiled by boys being polite...), the second one I'm sensing he'll grow out of rapidly. :-P

Hee! He plucked a flower for her! And already he's on her side! Awwww!

Eeeeeeeee! I'm excited! Let's do this! :D :D :D (Sidenote: How did I never end up with a DH icon...?)

Epic, indeed. We like to think BIG!

I was struggling for a nickname and suddenly it was all too simple. I checked to be sure the comics were out by then, but I'd thought that was the idea. Captain America versus the Nazis. A friend has a pic of Reed Diamond wearing a T-shirt with Captain America's shield. Must find for you.

Dom has fanboys. Yes, he does!

Harding came out deliciously sleazy. I'm pleased.

The women in combat thing will become clearer in time. Remember, Dom is a small town boy at heart. He needs a little time to get with the program.

I liked the flower thing. I can't recall what inspired it, but flowers have their part to play in this story.

He can't imagine himself attracted to her and yet he is. Go figure.

Feel free to snag any of my DH icons or go to dewitt_dominic on LJ and have at it.

Let's do this!

Edited at 2012-03-04 07:32 pm (UTC)

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