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Battle of Britain--Chapter 17
red
rogoblue
Rating: R (language and sexual situations)


Author: morgan72uk and rogoblue


Summary: A reappearance by Alpha puts a damper on everything.






“Your disapproval is deafening,” Adelle observed to her companion, as they walked briskly along Oberwallstrasse.

“Ma’am?” Of Laurence’s officers, only Sergeant Williams remained uncomfortable with her presence. While always scrupulously polite, he kept his distance, leaving her with the distinct impression that he didn’t approve of her involvement with his Colonel. Recently, she had detected signs of a thaw on his part, but since he clearly didn’t appreciate having been dispatched on this errand, they seemed to be back where they had started.

“You aren’t happy to be here,” she clarified.

“It’s bitter cold,” he grumbled, true enough and commonplace for December in Berlin. “Dom wasn’t all that clear on why we’re here.”

“We're looking for a man who has information I require.”

“That’s a priority somehow, this information of yours?” She glanced up sharply, surprised he had asked the question in those terms.

“I’m charged with discovering what happened to my missing agents, Sergeant Williams; their families deserve answers, even if the news is bleak. Consequently, I must talk to people who guarded them when they were detained.” The allied occupation had barely touched this residential area, although the destruction surrounding them was reminder enough. “I didn’t request an escourt, but Laurence didn’t want me wandering this area on my own. I assume we agree that it’s easier to accede to his wishes.”

“He ordered me to keep you safe.”

“He needs to feel he can protect the people he cares about,” she observed. “Even when that isn’t possible.” Williams looked perturbed, as though he’d like to agree but didn’t want to admit as much. “Have I done something to offend you, Sergeant Williams?”

“No ma’am,” he answered rapidly enough for her to believe him, “and I know the Colonel is – in better spirits.” She smiled, appreciating his careful description. “I just don’t get it.” He blushed and tried again. “He and I are from similar backgrounds. Sure, he went to West Point and all, but my folks didn’t have two dimes to rub together either. I can’t imagine him or me with...”

“Someone like me?” she finished for him, more amused than angry.

“It’s none of my business.”

“You’re right, it isn’t,” she agreed. “I doubt you are the only person to think as you do, although far fewer are brave enough to say so, to my face at least.” There had been talk. In both the American and British sectors, her liaison with Laurence was hot news, particularly since she had followed him to Berlin.

She questioned whether she was right for Laurence. When she thought about marriage, considering it carefully as promised, the potential damage to his career loomed large.

“I shouldn’t have said it, or thought it.”

“Honesty is important.” She couldn’t be too critical of him, because he had his Colonel’s best interests at heart. “I don’t require your approval, but I must insist that you obey my orders.” Adelle halted. “Don’t move or react, no matter what I do.” Adelle stepped close to Williams, so that his body hid hers from pedestrians on the other side of the road. Though obviously confused, he didn’t move an inch. “There is an extremely dangerous man just across the road.” She shifted slightly to see the man she had, against all the odds, recognised.

“I’ll bring him to Dom. He’ll decide what to do with him.”

“No.” Attempting to do so would be a terrible idea.

Across the road, a tall man in civilian clothing stood quite still. He looked around, as though he sensed her scrutiny. She had stopped as soon as she had seen him and Williams’ body should have hidden her, but she couldn’t be sure, not with this man.

“Who are you hiding from?”

“When he worked for the SOE, his code name was Alpha. He killed a dozen of our agents." At his low whistle, she added, "Last I heard, he had joined the SS.” The tall blond figure she watched resumed his stroll, winding his way through the other pedestrians with an easy and confident stride. “Go to Laurence,” she said, as the figure disappeared from view. “He needs to know that Alpha is here.”

“I shouldn’t leave you.”

“There is no time to lose, Sergeant. Walk me to a more salubrious neighbourhood.” Considering what she needed to do now, she amended her instructions. “Inform Laurence you walked me to Police Headquarters.”

“May I tell him why, ma’am?” It would do no harm to include Williams in her thinking.

“Once a murderer, always a murderer. If I can see his hand in more crimes, it might tell us how to find him.”

“You’re planning to capture him?” Williams’ scepticism made her point for her.

“Not me,” Adelle said, “but someone I know quite well.”

* * *

Laurence Dominic looked past Sergeant Williams, wondering why Adelle had returned so soon. His heart nearly stopped, as a litany of disasters, each worse than the last, flew into his mind. “Where is she?” he asked, keeping his tone casual.


“At what passes for a police station here,” Williams said, broadening his stance.


“Why?” Dominic asked. “You didn’t have time to interview one former guard, much less three. Did the two of you witness a robbery or something worse?”


Williams shook his head. “I didn’t witness anything. Miss DeWitt saw him.”


An intense feeling of foreboding descended. “Who?”


“A former SOE operative who flipped sides to join the SS codenamed—.”


“Alpha,” Dominic interrupted. Crossing to Williams in six long strides, he hissed, “You left Adelle alone with Alpha on the loose? Do you have any idea what he’d do, if he got his hands on her? Jesus Christ, what were you thinking, Sergeant?”


“Is there a problem?” Vandermeer asked from just beyond Williams.


“There had better not be, Sergeant Williams, or I will send your sorry ass back to Harding,” Dominic snarled. “He’ll have someone formerly attached to me polishing his boots.”


“I walked her out of harm’s way,” Williams asserted, steady gaze calming Dominic. “She felt it imperative that you be told Alpha is in Berlin. I wanted to go after him right there and then. She said no.” Eyes lowered to the floor, he asked, “She seemed certain, but … Was that a mistake?”


“Confronting Alpha on your own would’ve forced me to write another of those damn letters and I won’t send one to your mom.” The smile came unbidden. “Her cookies are too good.”


The Sergeant recoiled. “Why did you send me with your lady, if you don’t think I can protect her?”


“Protecting Adelle is one thing; apprehending Alpha while continuing to breathe is something else again. My assessment is in no way disrespectful, Sergeant. It’s realistic.” Dominic mentally reviewed all he knew of the cold blooded killer. “A person who enjoys killing those who trust him may be the worst kind of sociopath.”


“Miss DeWitt indicated you’d do all right against him.”


He’d never heard Williams sound sullen, but his words struck the wrong chord. “Me? I can’t imagine Adelle wanting any part of me challenging Alpha.”


“She said she was going to have someone she knows well take him on. I assumed she meant you.”


Knowing how this information would be received, Dominic said, “She intends to give Caroline a path to closure and a measure of revenge.”


“A skirt?” Williams’ wide eyes reminded Dominic of some of his views concerning women of which Adelle had yet to disabuse him. “Miss DeWitt intends to send a woman to deal with a man who killed a dozen operatives.”


“Alpha slaughtered everyone in Caroline’s cell, other than her.” Dominic shrugged. “Wouldn’t you want a shot at him?”


“I’m not a woman,” Williams said, looking over his shoulder at Vandermeer.


“If this Caroline led a cell in France for two, maybe three years for the SOE,” Vandermeer ventured, looking to Dominic who nodded, “she’s wily and dangerous. Pitting her against a ruthless killer who hurt those she felt responsible for might be just the thing to rid the world of him.”


“I’ll be sure to mention your analysis to Miss DeWitt, Corporal,” Dominic said, speaking over Williams’ mumbled tirade against putting women, however wily and dangerous, on the trail of hardened killers. “She’ll be impressed with your open mindedness and clear thinking.”


“Really?”


Dominic closed his eyes against the kid’s near squeak. Adelle had charmed them all. Well, all except Sergeant Williams and there seemed to be some chinks forming in that armor, despite his deeply ingrained sense of chivalry. Dominic couldn’t fault him. He’d felt that way, once upon a time. Still did, in large part.


“Have you met Caroline, Dom?” Vandermeer asked.


“She reminds me of me,” he said. “Back in ’43, I suggested Adelle allow her some latitude with respect to Alpha. She didn’t, but things are different now.”


“She’s not ordering her to engage,” Williams said, nodding slowly. “She’s giving her the information and letting her decide. That’ll be more satisfying, I think.”


Dominic chuckled. “You’re absolutely right, Sergeant, even if Adelle already knows how Caroline will respond. The choice will make all the difference to Caroline.” Sobering quickly, he said, “There’s a huge psychological component to what we’re trying to accomplish here, gentlemen. I’m glad to see both of you paying attention to it.” Williams grinned, but Dominic couldn’t interpret the look on Vandermeer’s face.


Williams glanced at his watch. “Do you want me to head out to lunch and see what I hear from other non -comms and such?”


“Yes.” They exchanged salutes and Williams turned on his heel. Vandermeer hovered just outside the door. “Is there something else, Kevin?”


“How do you decide when to call me by my given name, sir?”


“How do you decide when to call me Colonel, Dom, sir or Dominic?”


“A combination of the situation and instinct.”


Inclining his head, he said, “What’s on your mind, Corporal? Is that better?”


“Bridget is pursuing me, sir. I wonder if I should let her catch me.”


“You imagine I’d make you a whore for intelligence?”


“Only so I could pass on whatever information you wanted them to have,” Vandermeer said, developing an intense interest in his feet.


“When did Miss DeWitt mention this to you?”


The kid looked aghast at getting Adelle into trouble. “She only commented that Bridget seemed to be taking a shine to me and that might be a good thing, despite your moratorium on sexual relations.”


Dominic sighed. “You can take the spymaster out of London, but you can’t turn off those instincts.” He carefully navigated the tension flowing from Vandermeer. “The question you need to ask yourself is whether you can sleep with Bridget and lie to her.”


Smiling somewhat embarrassedly, Vandermeer said, “Isn’t that what we all do, sir, when they ask us to tell them that we love them first?”


“Until we realize we do.”


“I’ll consider it, sir.”


“You do that, Corporal, and send Adelle in here the moment she returns.”


* * *

Adelle didn't scare easily, but fear had remained somewhat abstract until she'd walked a Berlin street, alone and exposed, knowing that Alpha lurked nearby.

For all her bravado, she jumped at shadows and regretted having dismissed Williams. As she hurried back to Laurence’s headquarters, her coat wrapped tightly around her, searching every face she passed, she imagined Laurence’s displeasure if she carelessly got herself killed.

Her relief at stepping inside the gates was tempered by the voice in her head whispering nowhere was truly safe from Alpha.

Laurence was in what sounded like a difficult meeting. Lingering in the anteroom, eavesdropping, she heard raised voices in several different languages.

“Miss DeWitt, you're back.” Corporal Vandermeer looked relieved. “Brigit will make you tea. You look freezing.” A pale complexion might be due to more than the cold, but she accepted the offer gratefully. “The Colonel wanted me to notify him upon your return. His meeting looks as though it will be protracted, but I’ll take him a note.”

“Tell Laurence the Russian translator is actually a senior Communist Party official. He's giving his colleagues instructions as well as translating.”

“Yes ma'am.” They shared a conspiratorial smile.

“I'll be upstairs, when he's finished.”

The suite had been denuded of the worst floral excesses and Laurence had declared it tolerable. The bed had been stripped of its old covers and more masculine bedclothes procured from one of the smaller rooms.

Adelle felt the cold, especially when Laurence was absent, leading to her ruthlessly take possession of his socks to keep her feet warm. Burrowing beneath blankets today, reviewing the papers she had 'borrowed', she knew the cold was the least of her worries.

Footsteps on the stairs alerted her. Momentarily, Laurence asked, “Are you all right?” When she didn’t answer, he crossed the room to her side and perched on the arm of the settee.

“How was your meeting?”

He accepted the diversion and said, “We made more progress, once I knew who I should address. Thank you.” He kissed the top of her head. “And answer my question.”

“I’m afraid,” she admitted, edging closer. “Alpha kills people for fun; he’s here and knows who I am.”

“If you weren’t scared; I’d really be worried. Did he see you?”

“I’m not sure.” He put his arm around her and she nestled e closer, cursing her weakness, even as she soaked up the comfort his physical presence offered. “He halted and looked around. He could have seen me, but he behaved as though he thought someone was watching him but didn’t know who. Though, appearances don’t mean much, when it comes to Alpha,”

“Is Caroline on her way?”

“I sent a telegram and I can’t see how Caroline could resist, but she might be some time in arriving.”

“I’ve increased perimeter and internal security and I don’t want you sending my men away in future.”

“I can’t travel around Berlin with an armed guard provided by the US Army, Laurence.” She pressed a fingertip to his lips. “I have to go away in a few days and I doubt Alpha will feel the need to follow me across Germany.” Hoping she spoke the truth, she added, “He’ll likely go to ground, because he thinks someone recognised him.”

“We aren’t low profile, Adelle; he’ll find out you’re here.”

“I know.” Regardless of her fear, she couldn’t hide until Caroline exacted her revenge.

“How about something stronger than tea?”

“I think there’s some brandy left.”

He poured the drinks and returned to her side. “Thank you for stopping Williams from going after him.”

“I don’t doubt his bravery, but it wouldn’t have been a fair fight. Caroline knows who she’s facing.”

“Williams doesn’t agree,” he said. Adelle pulled a face and he chuckled. “His sense of chivalry has held throughout the war; seems a shame to rob him of it now.”

“It might do him good to learn that women are often intelligent, rationale creatures – not delicate china dolls.”

“Between you and Caroline, there’s a decent chance he’ll come around to your point of view. He’s not slow on the uptake.”

“I don’t doubt it. He was quick on his feet today and I know you make use of his ability to disarm people. He’s your spy.”

“Since we’re discussing spies, Corporal Vandermeer suggested I make one of him earlier. Your idea, I assumed and he confirmed.”

“Are you objecting to my speaking to him, or that I thought of it before you?”

“Both,” he said, kissing her cheek. “I can see the opportunity, but I’m not going to take it.” She saw his point and actually the thought of Vandermeer as a spy didn’t sit comfortably with her.

“Then you should order him not to do it, Laurence. It’s a filthy business. When he’s de-mobbed, Kevin’s organisational skills will make him indispensible in business or Government. He doesn’t need to do this.”

“Are you going soft, Miss DeWitt?”

“I’m retiring.” She need not recruit any more agents, send them to their deaths or expose them to things that made them incapable of living normal lives afterwards.

“You keep saying that.”

“I mean it.” His expression showed him to be sceptical. “Even if I didn’t, MI6 have taken over what remains of SOE’s activities and they do not require my services.”

“Idiots.” She shrugged. He glanced down at the papers she had been reading. “What’s this?” he asked.

“Police reports. I found a very helpful Inspector and explained what I sought. “Reports of the only thing I could think of to track Alpha – murders.”

* * *


“You think he’s developed a taste for it,” Dominic stated, picking up a stack of papers from the table next to the couch. He’d seen too much action to be squeamish. However, two photographs turned his stomach. The young woman looked like a broken doll.


Adelle frowned at another photograph, turning it this way and that, as if unsure which way was up. “He’s gotten more creative, I’d say,” she murmured. “This looks staged, does it not?”


She offered him the photograph, but Dominic didn’t take it. “Does it matter?” he asked.


“It might. If he’s performing, he wants to engage an audience. Today, I may have inadvertently given him the impression he has one.” Adelle shuddered, inspiring him to hold her closer, contemplate scaring up another blanket and glance at the photo over her shoulder.


“He does. You, me, the policeman you charmed out of all this paperwork and soon the one he’s most interested in will be front and center, if she’s the woman I think she is.”


“Should I have contacted Caroline?” Adelle leaned away to look him in the eye. “Pointing her in Alpha’s direction isn’t helping her get on with her life, but I felt she deserved to know I’d seen him.”


“You told her out of respect.”


“I like to think so.” A flicker of pain flashed across her face. “I’d prefer to believe I’m giving her an opportunity to exact revenge for her losses, rather than using her at one remove to exact mine.”


Not wanting Adelle to dwell on her motivations, he asked, “Was she getting on with her life? Trying to find a civilian outlet for her talents?” When Adelle declined to respond, he questioned his assumption. “Did MI6 scoop her up to seduce persons posing a potential threat to the Crown or to blow things up?” Dominic sensed Caroline would vastly prefer the latter.


“They have expressed interest in retaining her services, but Caroline hasn’t yet seen fit to make a firm decision as to her future, choosing instead to keep a low profile, lick her wounds and bide her time.”


Reading between the lines had always been necessary with Adelle. “Does MI6 know about her unfinished business?”


“They do, actually, and have dangled before her the opportunity to question former SS officers to ascertain Alpha’s current whereabouts,” she said.


“You’re kidding?” Adelle shook her head. “I see the logic to the approach, but as you once pointed out to me, the SS deserved their reputation for ruthlessness.”


“Caroline is the most ruthless person I’ve ever met,” Adelle said. “Not to mention one of the most cunning. Under other circumstances, she and Alpha would be well matched.”


“They’d feed off of each other,” he said, cautiously evaluating the premise of Caroline being more ruthless than Alpha. “Spur each other on to more and more dangerous or horrific acts.”


“A kindred spirit is just as likely to blunt the need to act on their impulses … with others.”


Her sharply altered tone slipped a dagger of desire into Dominic. “They’d work out their aggression through sex?”


“Why not?” she challenged. “It’s healthier than what either of them is doing currently.”


“He’s killing dark haired women, probably fantasizing about killing her, you or both and she’s hiding from the world but thinking about flaunting a death wish in front of anyone who might grant it. Damn.”


“I fear Caroline may follow Alpha into a pathological frame of mind, if she isn’t ever able to confront him. Beyond the tempting carrot, I doubt she has any enthusiasm for a career at MI6.”


Dominic nodded. “Rules, restrictions and finely honed operational objectives aren’t her style.”


“Nor are they particular strengths,” Adelle said, slipping her arms around Dominic’s waist. “I truly do not know what she’ll try her hand at when she’s finished with Alpha.”


He lifted his glass. When she copied the gesture, he said, “Here’s to closure.” Eyeing each other, they drank. Dominic smiled at his glass. “Did I tell you I bought the other bottles?”


“You mentioned you planned to,” she said. A smile slid onto her face. “Is that your way of telling me I can have a refill?”


“It is,” he said, shifting to rise.


“Not just yet, Laurence,” she murmured, resting her head on his shoulder. “I’m enjoying your proximity.”


“You should hire a bodyguard,” he said. Her immediate tension spoke loudly of her opinion of the idea. “If you won’t take one of my men, you should have someone. It’s foolish not to with Alpha in the city.”


“We have no guarantee he hasn’t left.”


“We sure as hell have no way of knowing for sure that he has.” He tilted her chin up and kissed her lightly. “I need for you to be as safe as humanly possible.” Tracing her bottom lip with his thumb, he said, “I … well, I don’t want to be alone anymore and my mom would never forgive me if I allowed something to happen to the woman who returned her son to her. For the first time in a long while, I’m looking forward to the future, to there even being a future. I have you to thank for that.” He shook his head when she opened her mouth to speak. “I love you, Adelle DeWitt and I can’t lose you, regardless of where you come out on the issue of marriage.”


* * *

Since he had brought out the big battalions and told her he loved her, she acceded to his request. He’d come so far from the man she’d reunited with just a few months ago and she couldn’t cause him unnecessary pain.


Once she agreed to a bodyguard, Laurence took on the task of providing one with alacrity, despite her assertions of making her own arrangements. Following a consultation with Captain Esteban, Mason arrived in their lives. A solid wall of a man, who had gone ashore in the first wave on D-Day and fought his way across France, he preferred this engagement over returning home to Minnesota. She had at least won the argument with Laurence over who would pay for his services.


For such a large man, Mason possessed speed and an enviable ability to sink into the background. He worshipped the ground Laurence walked on, of course, intimidated everyone else and treated her with a reserved respect, as long as she didn’t break the rules he imposed.


The British war crimes unit did not have the resources to assign her an assistant and she quickly realized Mason would actually be of use when she travelled beyond his obvious capacity. However, before she next departed, another matter needed attention.


Standing on an airstrip in the British zone, she tried not to imagine what Caroline might have done to arrange this particular mode of transport.


The RAF Hurricane landed and slowly taxied to a halt. Adelle wondered how Caroline felt about the experience of landing rather than parachuting. A slight figure emerged and waved to the pilot before jumping to the ground. As she straightened up, her gaze rested on Adelle and then travelled to Mason, who Adelle knew would solidly meet her eyes. After that, Caroline looked over towards where Laurence waited, his bodyguard also in evidence.


“Alpha has you running scared.”


“A little,” Adelle said, knowing she’d surprised Caroline, “though the bodyguard was not my idea.”


“He’d be handy in a fight.” Coming from Caroline, high praise indeed. “I wouldn’t bet against your ability to talk Alpha round, either.”


“Thank you, I think.”


“Why is the US Army here? This is the British zone.”


“Our allies have a vested interest.” Looking towards Laurence, she said, “You remember Colonel Dominic?”


“I don’t remember him being a Colonel.”


“Hello Caroline,” Laurence said, as he joined them, “how have you been?”


“Bored,” she told him bluntly. “England’s a mess, so there’s a lot to do and I’ve been involved in some political activity.” She shrugged. “It’s not the same.”


“No explosions?” he asked, drawing a smile.


“Very few. Maggie says hello,” she told Adelle.


Smiling at the thought of Caroline’s sister, she asked, “How is she?”


“Getting married and moving to the country,” Caroline muttered, “to run a pub.”


“She’s taking your brothers and sisters?”


“The whole clan. Her husband to be comes from a large family. Apparently everyone is welcome, even me.”


“I can’t see you living in the country running a public house.” The steel gray sky didn’t bode well for the temperature. “Shall we continue this inside?” Caroline didn’t seem unduly perturbed when ‘inside’ turned out to be US Army Headquarters. “This is the Alpha room,” Adelle said, as they crossed the threshold into the room Laurence unlocked for them. All of the papers the Germans had provided were here and the photographs.


“How long since you saw him?” Caroline asked, glancing around.


“Two days.”


“When was the last murder?”


“Six weeks ago, we think.”


“He’s still here,” she breathed, smiling dangerously.


* * *


“Why do you say that?” Dominic asked, intrigued by Caroline’s certainty and unnerved by her eerie sense of anticipation.


“He wouldn’t have waited six weeks,” Caroline said, “if there weren’t women the authorities haven’t found. His ego won’t let him leave until they do. This is an excellent opportunity.” Her eyes found Adelle’s. “Thank you.”


“I’ll thank you when you find him,” Adelle said.


“Don’t bother until I’ve made sure he won’t hurt anyone else.” Caroline shifted her intense gaze to Dominic. “I’d like some time with this material. A few hours should do it. Then I’ll be on my way.”


He looked at his watch. “We’ve prepared a room,” he said. “Take your time and stay the night.”


Caroline nodded slowly. “I’d like a word when I’m through, Colonel.”


“Whenever you’re ready,” he said, opening the door for Adelle and following her out. “Sergeant Williams will be just outside. Let him know when you’re finished.”


“He can come in, if he likes,” Caroline offered. “It’s warmer in here.”


Thinking it a brilliant way to expand Williams’ horizons despite the younger man’s recalcitrance, Dominic ushered him inside. “Pay attention, Sergeant,” he muttered. “You might learn something.”


“There’re a few things I’d let her teach me,” Williams said, voice low, gaze clearly appreciative.


Dominic clapped Williams on the shoulder, silently hoping Caroline didn’t view the Sergeant’s attitude as a challenge. Her apparent immersion in the information before her convinced him that Williams just might survive the next few hours. Dominic attempted to tackle the mountain of paper Vandermeer generated, but he couldn’t concentrate. His thoughts veered to Alpha’s obsession with dark haired women and the sneaking suspicion that his frame of mind had as much to do with Adelle as Caroline. “What if he saw her when she spotted him?” he muttered, signing a requisition in all the wrong places as he imagined the worst. “Damn it straight to hell!”


“Sir?” Vandermeer appeared in the doorway.


“I need you to redo this,” he said, pushing the document across his desk. “I screwed it up and I need a word with Mason before he and Miss DeWitt depart.”


“He’s on your calendar for tomorrow morning, unless you want me to track him down tonight.”


“He’s not here?” Dominic asked, unable to shake his uneasiness.


“Miss DeWitt is in for the evening, so Mason went to get some dinner.”


Dominic took a breath. “Tomorrow is fine,” he muttered, thinking Adelle had probably already briefed Mason regarding Alpha. “Walk me through this crap, so I don’t make any more extra work for you than I already have.” With Vandermeer as a guide, the pile melted away faster than Dominic thought possible.


“I’ll bring you another of these in a few minutes,” Vandermeer said, holding up the requisition Dominic had ruined. “After that, I’ll process everything and call it a night.” He hesitated. “Maybe you should too, sir.”


“Caroline wants to talk with me. I’ll head up as soon as soon as she’s said her piece.”


“Her eyes are flat, like a doll’s.”


“She’s seen a lot.” Dominic thought Caroline had pretty eyes and wondered if his powers of observation had failed him.


The Corporal dropped his gaze to his shoes, stepped aside and mumbled, “Miss Farrell, the Colonel will see you now.”


Caroline smiled at Vandermeer, making Dominic wonder if her intentions went beyond making the Corporal blush and Williams scowl. Her smile broadened when Dominic said, “That will be all, gentlemen.”


“Can a woman get something decent to drink around here?” she asked the instant they were alone.


“If you tell me what you did to Williams,” he said, crossing his arms in front of him, trying for stern.


She laughed. “I let him look all he wanted. Then I returned the favor. Like this.” Dominic fought an inappropriate urge to call for Vandermeer, because Caroline’s eyes weren’t cold at all. “Poor thing got all flustered but recovered quickly. I liked that.” Caroline shrugged. “If I wasn’t here on business, I might’ve shown him how much, but I can’t afford distractions with Alpha in the vicinity.” She accepted the Scotch he offered. “Something it might behoove you to consider.”


“Meaning?”


“You got Adelle a bodyguard while painting a target on your chest.”


“I have bodyguards, too,” he said, sipping his Scotch.


“Alpha will kill them.”


“Alpha?” he asked, thrown. “He’s not after me.” Caroline didn’t appear impressed with his pronouncement. “I’m not an attractive woman with long dark hair.”


“Adelle is and she’s also probably the only woman Alpha considers his intellectual equal.” Watching him over the rim of her glass, Caroline threw back her Scotch in one go. She poured herself another. “The only thing Alpha would like better than having Adelle at his mercy would be to render her out of her mind with fear imagining him torturing you.”


“All of his victims have been women who look like you and Adelle.”


“He’s had no good reason to deviate up until now.” He did his best to emote his skepticism. “No one thinks your relationship with Adelle is platonic. Not if half of what William told me is accurate.”


Doubts began to form. “Exaggeration isn’t uncommon in these situations. People like a good scandal.”


“Williams is more concerned about his CO and his CO’s reputation than the CO himself.” She frowned. “He didn’t tell me the party line. He spoke the truth.”


“As he sees it.”


“That’s beside the point. I saw how you watch each other.” Caroline grinned as he straightened his posture. “It’s not exactly subtle how possessive you are and that she tolerates it, because she likes the sex.”


This conversation had progressed too far. “What’s your point?”


“Be smart and be safe, for both of your sakes. That’s all.”


“Why don’t you find him before he decides to try to make mincemeat out of me?”


“That’s the plan,” she said, tapping his glass with hers and downing her second Scotch. “Good night, Colonel.”


Dominic didn’t particularly want to be alone with the thoughts Caroline had put in his head, but he wanted to share them with Adelle even less. Topping off his Scotch, he contemplated Alpha and what his plans might be.


* * *

Caroline had never been one for sitting about, so Adelle didn’t blink when she communicated her desire to depart eye-wateringly early the following morning. Laurence grumbled sleepily but got up with her and went in search of Vandermeer and coffee. Adelle wrapped a blanket over her clothes to ward off the early morning chill and headed for Caroline’s room.

Caroline expressed no surprise to see her here at this hour and Adelle didn’t see the point in pretending she had spent the night anywhere else. “Doesn’t anyone comment on your sleeping arrangements?” Caroline asked, while stuffing clothing into a battered travelling case.

“I’m sure there’s been talk.”

“The two of you aren’t exactly discrete.”

“We were discrete for eight months in London.”

“I warned him,” Caroline said, looking uncharacteristically doubtful. “I warned your Colonel about drawing Alpha’s interest.”

Adelle swallowed, suddenly not afraid for herself. “Why would he be interested in Laurence?”

“Because you are. Alpha used to talk about you, Adelle. He has some weird obsession with me—thinks we’re cast from the same mould, but in between missions, we used to talk about home, our lives. Alpha thought you were the most ruthless person he knew.”

“How flattering,” Adelle observed, deciding not to share that she had awarded Caroline that particular sobriquet.

“If he knows you’re in Berlin, he knows where you’re spending your nights and that the Colonel is someone you care about.” Adelle nodded, the point had been well made.

Caroline’s warning explained the odd mood Laurence had descended into last night; one she had determined to let him come out of under his own steam. She understood how he’d felt when he’d insisted on a bodyguard for her, but he already had bodyguards, her peace of mind would require something more.

“The sooner I catch up with Alpha, the sooner everyone can stop looking over their shoulders,” Caroline said, drawing Adelle’s attention once more.

“To assist you in that endeavour.” Adelle handed Caroline an envelope.

“What’s this?”

“An account, set up in your name and the details of my bankers who I have instructed to respond to requests for funds from you. They will require information that only you know, in order to determine your identity.” When Caroline looked surprised she added, “I didn’t expect you to pursue Alpha without financial backing.”

“This is your money,” she said, “which makes this a personal, unsanctioned mission.”

“If you require it, MI6 or Laurence will give you cover; you won’t be abandoned. My money is to ensure you are able to pursue Alpha. He’s my unfinished business as well.”

“Does your Colonel know about this?”

“He’d be a fool to think this is a SOE operation. He isn’t.”

“I meant this.” Caroline brandished the bankers’ letter.

“I haven’t found the right moment to mention it.”

“Because you think it will bother him?”

“I know it will.” Of this one thing, Adelle was certain. “Find Alpha,” she instructed. “When you are sure he’s dead, send me proof.”

“His head on a plate?”

“I would settle for something less dramatic, as long as the message is unequivocal.”

“So would I.”

Laurence sat at his desk. “Caroline is on her way,” Adelle said, standing just inside his office door. “She’ll contact you, if she needs assistance.”

“Can’t wait,” he said, sounding far from delighted.

Crossing the room, she felt the tension in his spine and rubbed it lightly. “Caroline prefers to work on her own, so I don’t expect her to call on you unless she has no alternative.”

“You’ll be here to help me deal with her anyway. That’s something.”

“Mason and I are leaving shortly,” she said, that much was as planned. “I received a communication from London. They want to discuss my mission. I didn’t mention it, because I thought it would be unwise to leave Germany now. I was going to suggest we have the discussion long-distance but, after talking to Caroline, I think it might be a good idea for me to go to London and remain there.”

* * *


“Remain?” Dominic repeated, as his heart thumped into overdrive. “For how long? Until Caroline deals with Alpha?” He aborted a reach for her awkwardly. “That could take a while, Adelle. Weeks, months, even years.” Her silence forced him to speak. “I don’t know how long I’ll be posted in Berlin, but I don’t think it’ll be a short stint. Everyone’s looking for stability and hoping for the development of smooth working relationships.”


“I thought I’d stay until Judith’s wedding.” She watched him as she added, “at least.”


“Because Caroline thinks Alpha will try to get to you through me.”


“Mostly,” she said, “because I don’t relish traveling in this weather.”


“Alpha would be a fool to take on the US Army, Adelle,” Dominic said, giving in and pulling her into his arms. “I’m the ranking officer in Berlin. He has to know retaliation would be swift and most likely fatal.”


“What you’ve just said makes you an even more desirable target.” Adelle rested her head on his shoulder. “Alpha would relish the challenge, fully taking advantage of the false sense of security your position affords.”


“I don’t have a false sense of security,” he argued. “It’s been drilled into my head how much of a priority my personal security is.” Frustrated, he added, “I don’t go anywhere without bodyguards.”


“A team of former soldiers is no match for a brilliant man who enjoys killing.”


“I’ll be sure to let the guys know how little faith you have in them.” Dominic released her and turned away, wondering how the generals who thought so highly of him would view this development.


“This has nothing to do with faith,” she spat. “If Alpha takes it into his head, he will hurt you. Laurence, he’ll attempt to break you. You’re a strong man, but you have your weak points. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t.”


“Then Alpha does too and it’d be my job to find and exploit them, in the unlikely event he decides to spirit me away and torture me.”


“Alpha isn’t human, not in the way most of us think of the term.”


Dominic rolled his eyes. “I’m not second rate.”


Her eyes widened and she stepped into his personal space and pulled his head down for a deep, soul searching kiss. “You’re human,” she murmured, dragging him into another intense kiss. “Alpha is a different story – he’s a monster. ”


“I can take care of myself.”


“Not against Alpha.”


Dominic’s fingers dug into Adelle’s flesh. “Then you should run away with Mason,” he hissed, “because if I can’t protect myself, neither can you.”


“The difference is, I don’t think I can.”


His emotions swirled around them both. “Do you really think so little of me?” he asked. “I can hold my own, bodyguards or not. I fought across Sicily and most of Italy, inch by goddamn fucking inch. Bayonets not bullets. I can take whatever your Alpha can dish out.”


“It’s because I love you that I’ve made this decision.” She met his eyes. “I hope you can see that.”


“Damn it, Adelle, please. I don’t want to be alone for another Christmas. What am I supposed to write to my mother?” His laughter sounded wild and tasted bitter. “I’m not man enough to keep Adelle in Berlin. Sorry to disappoint you once again.”


“Why not try the truth?” Adelle suggested. “Tell her there’s an extremely dangerous man that’s taken an unhealthy interest in me and, perhaps, by association you. Tell her it’s wise and prudent we separate for a time. Tell her you hate it and know for certain I do as well. Tell her I’m plotting to make it up to you when you join me in England to celebrate Judith’s marriage. I suspect she would understand completely, perhaps even better than you do.”


“Adelle, I can handle Alpha.”


“I’d rather you didn’t.”


Dominic felt everything he held dear slipping away. “If he knows, he knows and if he wants to challenge me, he will.” He kissed her again, rough, harsh and demanding. “I want you in my life on whatever terms, but I refuse to let Alpha dictate them. We can’t give him that power over us.” Staring into emotional green eyes, he said, “I love you and I would lay down my life for you in an instant. If Alpha gets satisfaction out of exploiting that, I can only hope I make him work for the privilege.” He framed her face with his hands. “I love you, Adelle. I can’t pretend I don’t. I shouldn’t have when I left London. I can see how terribly wrong I was now. Forgive me?”


“The slate is already clean between us.”


“I want you here for Christmas.”


“It’s not to be, Laurence. Not this year.”


Defeat tasted bitter. “Next year, Adelle. Promise me we’ll be together.”


Slowly, she nodded. “If we’re both still breathing, we will be. I promise you.”


“I won’t leave you again, no matter how many times you leave me,” he declared, taking her lips again but all too acutely aware of how little time they had left.


“I love you, Laurence,” she murmured, just before Mason knocked at the door.



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I was waiting for Alpha to show up again! Yay for him :) Love how you have him think of her as ruthless.

Oh Dom, now is not the time to stand and fight.. at least on your own. I think the two of them would do rather well against Alpha. Or, at least at keeping him from getting to them too badly. Separation will just lead to more anxiety! The two of them should see each other every day.

We decided we couldn't leave Alpha out (and I confess I love writing him).

This scenario never goes well in fiction, does it? I'll leave the country (and you) to be safe and so the villain won't try to get to me though you. Reminds me in a way of Supernatural. Sam and Dean going their separate ways just never seems to work out.:)

I was waiting for Alpha to show up again too! I'm glad you've brought him back as I think he's important to both of them.

Adelle leaving just makes me more worried for the both of them. I'd rather they were together, fighting Alpha off. :/

Can't wait to read where this all goes.

Alpha does have his role to play, I suppose. I'm glad folks didn't think his resurfacing was a frolic and detour in terms of telling the story.

Yes, they do appear to be stronger together so this might be a mistake. Dom's mood is certainly sure to go south.

Thanks for sticking with us!

Alpha returns! As does Caroline! I love this. I am so excited for how this will play out.

Although, why I understand Adelle's reasoning to leave Berlin, I can see it backfiring on them so badly in regards to Alpha especially considering how strong they are as a unit (both professionally and personally). I cannot wait to see what happens.

I am so pleased by how well the combination is better than the sum of its parts is coming across! Excellent.

Sending Caroline after Alpha seems like what they should've done in the show. Maybe they would've, if given more time. There seemed to be no choice in the matter here, though. Glad it worked for you.

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