Story: Going Up?
Rating: R (language and sex)
Summary: Topher waits for just the right moment to try an experiment. Response to a d/d celebration week prompt—see dedication below.
Spoilers: Season 1 a tiny bit and 2 a little bit through episode 11. Set in my favorite time frame—between 1.06 and 1.09.
Disclaimers: The toys are Joss Whedon’s. The idea is mine.
Dedication: One of the D/D Celebration week prompts mentioned love and elevators.
“What’s this, Topher?” Ivy asked, pointing to a computer screen showing nothing but a cartoon of a large red button among a sea of small, almost indiscernible blue ones. “It’s been up on this screen all day.”
“An experiment of mine,” Topher said, beaming at the relevant monitor. “I’m waiting for just the right time to run it.”
“The right time?” Ivy said.
“When immediate vivisection isn't an option if I blow our power grid.” Grinning borderline maniacally, Topher said, “I’m waiting for the planets to align.”
“Hope Mercury isn’t in retrograde,” Ivy muttered.
“Huh?” Topher asked, not really listening as his eyes were drawn to the figures striding rapidly toward his office.
* * *
“With all due respect, Ms. DeWitt, I think you’re making light of a potentially incendiary situation,” Laurence Dominic said, gesturing vaguely down to the floor below at a group of actives doing yoga.
“The rewards far outweigh the risks, Mr. Dominic,” Adelle said. “My decision is final.”
“Isn’t it always these days?” Dominic snarled, glancing briefly into Topher’s domain as they passed, wondering at the concern on Ivy’s face and the eerie glee on Topher’s.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Adelle asked.
“You don’t listen to anyone anymore.”
“That isn’t true.”
Her glare inspired a scowl in Dominic. “Fine, on the rare occasion you do deign to listen, you don’t care. You’ve already made your decision. Your final decision. Emphasis on ‘your’ slightly greater than on ‘final.’”
“You overstep your bounds, Mr. Dominic.”
“Well, maybe it’s time someone did.” He reached around Adelle to swipe his card to call the elevator, an abrupt angry motion. “You’re isolating yourself from information, ma’am. From other opinions. You’ve gone from monarch to dictator and are heading straight for tyrant.”
“I take all relevant input into account.”
His jaw clenched. “My input has ceased to be relevant?”
The elevator door opened and the two entered, moving in concert despite the tension flowing between them. “I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, Mr. Dominic, if you can manage to think outside the security box for long enough.”
* * *
“Show time!” Topher whispered as the elevator door slid shut. “I’ll give it a five count and loose the hounds.” Mentally counting down fivefourthreetwoone, Topher grabbed a stylus. Without even mentally muttering zero, he pressed the red button. His screen flared red. “Houston, we have ignition.” The overhead lights flickered and stabilized. Topher’s screen flooded with data. “Yes,” he muttered. “We have liftoff.” The lights flickered again and all power went off line.
* * *
“My only point is—.” Dominic cut off abruptly when the lights went out and the elevator halted. Stepping between Adelle and the door in the pitch blackness, Laurence took his radio from his belt. “Davis, what’s going on?”
“We’ve lost power, Dominic.”
Laurence sighed. “I can see that, Davis. Any idea how?”
“No,” Davis said. “Where are you, Dominic? Are you coming down?”
“I’m in the damn elevator, so I’m not going anywhere.”
“I’ll send someone up for Ms. DeWitt,” Davis said.
“There’s no need for that,” Dominic muttered.
“It’s number one on the priority sheet in an emergency.”
“And unnecessary in this particular instance, because she’s in the damn elevator.”
“With you, Dominic?”
A second sigh didn’t strike Dominic as too much. “How would I know if she was in the other elevator, Davis?”
“You … um … wouldn’t.”
“Exactly. Flow through the rest of the priorities and get the power back on.”
Hands landing on Dominic’s shoulders sent him into a quick spin to grasp firm, yet decidedly feminine biceps. He’d trapped Adelle’s arms behind her back before he could engage the brakes. “Sorry,” he muttered, releasing her, stepping to the side in the dark to give her some space, right into the wall, pleased he managed to suppress everything other than a low grunt of pain.
“Isn’t there supposed to be some sort of emergency lighting in here?” Adelle asked.
“I’m not sure,” he admitted, feeling his way along the wall, past the doors until he encountered the buttons designating the floors. Closing his eyes helped him visualize the small panel below. The one you needed a real, old fashioned, honest to God metal key to open. Lacking same, he considered what he might use to pick the lock. Adelle has two files in her hand. “Do you have a paperclip, Ms. DeWitt?” he asked.
He listened to her flip through a file. “Here we are,” she said. “Mr. Dominic?”
“I’m crouched in front of the control panel,” Dominic said, envisioning her last known coordinates. “To your right and about two paces forward.”
Adelle made her way over to the corner of the elevator. Her hand met the back of his head, she slid it down his neck to his shoulder and followed his shoulder and down his arm. She placed the paperclip carefully in his hand.
“Thanks,” he muttered, already focused on unbending it into a tool he could use. Feeling along the lower panel again, he found the keyhole. Moments later, the panel was open and he felt inside. Four buttons. If I knew Braille I’d know the one I want. He pressed the top right button. Nothing appeared to happen. Top left. Also nothing. Bottom right—a rectangular rather than circular button. Here’s hoping this odd one is drawing battery power. Four low wattage lights on the ceiling lit. Also, the button itself glowed to somewhat illuminate the control panel. Squinting into the odd lighting, Dominic tried to make out the function of the other buttons. The top two seemed to be backups for door open and door close. The bottom left remained a mystery.
“Mr. Dominic,” called a voice over his radio.
“Yeah,” he replied.
“It’s Boyd Langton. We have a situation.”
“Go,” Dominic said.
“A client is insisting on talking with Ms. DeWitt about Tango. Something about a snide comment as to inadequate … ah … endowment.”
A nasty smile tugged at Dominic’s lips. “If he actually said inadequately endowed, do you really think he wants to chat about it on this open channel? Can’t you tell him Tango’s … um … a horrible judge of distance or something?” Adelle’s soft chuckle coaxed his smile more toward amusement.
“May I, Mr. Dominic?” Adelle asked, holding out a hand for the radio.
Not expecting to find her kneeling beside him, he said, “Be my guest.”
Accepting the radio with a small smile, Adelle said, “Mr. Langton, intercept Sierra en route to her engagement, apologizing profusely to Mr. Wentworth for any inconvenience caused by the slight delay. See to it that the delay is slight, Mr. Langton.”
“We’re going to send Sierra …?” Langton ventured.
“To Mr. Collins, yes,” Adelle said. “Topher’s favorite, excessively upper crust Brit imprint will deliver the size doesn’t matter speech in person.”
“Yes, Ms. DeWitt,” Langton said and broke off communication.
“Size doesn’t matter speech?” Dominic asked, noticing Adelle’s eyes looked almost black in the dim orange light, shifting to sit on the floor with his back to the wall.
“Tango’s indiscretion is not unprecedented.” Her eyes widened. “Oh, damn. I forgot to tell Mr. Langton to have her use version 3.”
Dominic selected a channel. “Grayson?” he said.
“I suppose you want room service,” Grayson replied.
“This hardly qualifies as a room, Ms. Grayson.” Evidently surprising Adelle with his words and half smile, Dominic said, “Find Langton. Have him tell Sierra to use version 3 of the size doesn’t matter speech.”
“Some days, I really enjoy working here,” Grayson said. Her laughter came through loud and clear before she closed the channel.
“Thank you, Mr. Dominic,” Adelle said, sighing, adjusting to a seated position as well.
A companionable silence fell for a time. “I’m sorry,” Dominic muttered to break it.
“What ever for?” Adelle asked.
“For what I said earlier about … about you becoming a tyrant. I was out of line.” When she didn’t say anything, he continued, “I don’t mean to undermine your authority or even to challenge it. I just worry that you sometimes take more on than you need to in order not to burden anyone else. If you let that strategy become your default, you’ll burn out. Anyone would.”
“Am I to understand that you wouldn’t mind being burdened from time to time?” Adelle asked, expression difficult to read.
Dominic was tempted to blame the weird lighting, but he didn’t really think that was the issue. She’s just difficult to read. “Yes. Me, Langton, Saunders. We can all take on more. You don’t have to do everything alone.”
“I assure you, Mr. Dominic, I don’t do everything alone.”
“Of course not.” Deciding the situation couldn’t get much stranger, he smirked. “Which version of the size doesn’t matter speech do you use when necessary?” I just made Adelle DeWitt laugh. Not just smile or chuckle. Laugh. Laurence Dominic isn’t supposed to do that. Not intentionally, anyway. Head back in the game, Dom.
Expression a clear challenge, she asked, “What version have you heard?”
“I haven’t,” he said, glancing up at the control panel for inspiration. “I guess the women I’ve been with haven’t been as discerning as you or your actives.”
“Or you have nothing to worry about in that regard.”
Her challenging tone/expression combination made his conversational decision for him. “So,” he said, “seen any good movies lately?” Damn! She laughed again. Unable to resist, he said, “That was better than, ‘Look, a shooting star,’ under the circumstances.”
“Indeed,” Adelle said, rubbing her hands along the length of her arms several times. She looked up quickly as Dominic lowered his suit jacket onto her shoulders.
“You’re cold,” he said with a slight shrug. “I’m not.”
“Why is that?” Adelle demanded, clutching the jacket closer. “I noticed it earlier when I put the paperclip into your hand. Why do men have consistently higher body temperatures than women?”
“More muscle mass maybe. I’m not sure.”
Shivering violently, Adelle muttered, “When did it get cold in here?”
“Sitting here, doing nothing beyond breathing, wearing a sleeveless dress, you’re bound to get cold.” Dominic said, risking life and limb by taking Adelle into his arms, her back to his chest.
“I have your jacket now.” A statement of fact unaccompanied by any effort to pull away.
“Takes time to take the chill off,” he said, voicing a reason to maintain the status quo, giving her an excuse she didn’t appear to need and himself one he absolutely required. God, she smells good. Seemingly uncomfortable, Adelle shifted even closer. Not half as good as she feels.
He tried. Dominic really did try not to think of the moment in this self-same elevator after November had dismantled Hearn. Adelle had looked over her should at him and asserted, “She loves him.” Something deep inside Dominic had come unmoored with those words. He’d been trying to batten it down ever since.
“I haven’t seen any movies lately, Mr. Dominic.” She tilted her head up to look him in the eye. “That’s sad, isn’t it?”
“Me neither,” he admitted, looking down, keeping his eyes on hers not letting them stray to her lips. “I don’t know if it’s sad or just … par for the course.” Her quizzical expression drew him out. “Tough job, long hours, a lot of stress. It makes watching movies seem like a huge waste of time.” He shrugged. “To me anyway.”
“I drink,” Adelle said, sitting up slightly so their heads were nearly at the same level. “When I should escape by watching films, I drink.”
“Nothing wrong with a drink or two,” he ventured.
Adelle maneuvered herself so she was now facing him. Dominic wasn’t sure exactly how, even though he’d watched her do it. “What about six or seven?” she asked.
He looked her up and down. “Six or seven?” he asked. She nodded. “Where the hell do you put it?”
Frowning, Adelle demanded, “Meaning?”
“People who drink like that put on weight.” He shrugged, gesturing at her. “Not you.”
“I just hide it with clever clothing choices.”
Dominic stared at her for a long moment. He gently opened his suit jacket. “There’s no where to hide extra pounds in that dress. You look … really good.” Oh, Christ, Dom, what are you doing? Get a fucking grip!
“Do I?” she asked.
A chill swept though Dominic. “There’s a damn draft in here somewhere,” he muttered.
“That’s a far superior effort to change the subject,” Adelle noted, even as she pressed against Dominic to return the favor of sharing body heat.
“I try to learn from my mistakes,” he muttered, fighting the twin distractions of her breasts against his chest and her arms around his waist.
“Do you?” she asked and Dominic felt her eyes luring him somewhere he shouldn’t go.
“Dominic, you on the air?”
Laurence started and Adelle simply moved with him and resettled against him. “Yeah, Davis.”
“It was the lab rat.”
“Topher blew out the power again?” Adelle sat up abruptly, frowning and Dominic immediately missed the warmth.
“His assistant says he had the program locked and loaded all day, waiting for the right time to implement.” Davis paused for a long moment. “She also said he went into action when you and DeWitt walked by. Is she afraid of enclosed spaces, Dominic?”
Dominic glanced at the woman next to him. “No, Davis. Ms. DeWitt shows no sign of claustrophobia.” He smiled. “She looks pissed, though. You might want to mention that to Topher.” Another chill swept through Dominic. He suppressed his reaction as much as possible, but knew Adelle noticed because she hugged him again. “It’s getting cold in here, Davis,” Dominic said. “What’s going on?”
“Lab rat says he was trying to use the heat to run his program instead of electricity. Seems like it works on both.”
“Davis, if the power’s out, the program isn’t running.”
“It’s drawing heat, not electricity.” Davis took an audible breath. “From the periphery in, Dominic. You and Ms. DeWitt are at ground zero.”
Anger tempered by training only because Topher wasn’t available for ritual burning, Dominic said, “So end the program.”
“Lab rat says he did.”
“Then why is it getting colder?”
Dominic heard Davis relay his question and the high pitched nervous tone to Topher’s reply, but he couldn’t make out the actual words.
“Lab rat says he’s working on that as we speak, Dominic.”
“We can’t fuck around with this,” Dominic snarled, glancing worriedly down at the woman in his arms. “Get up to her office and lower a harness down the elevator shaft. We’ll go up the hard way.”
A longer pause followed. “Lab rat says a rescue from up there won’t work. The ambient temperature around the cable is much lower than in the elevator. And getting lower by the second. By the time we get people up the stairs, lab rat claims we’ll be at hypothermia in minutes type temperatures. The good news, according to lab rat, is you don’t have to worry about the structural integrity of the cable.”
“Tell the goddamn lab rat I’ll haunt him after I die of exposure in a fucking elevator if he doesn’t get the power back on ASAP.” Dominic lowered the radio and sighed. “You have to put that boy on a shorter leash, ma’am.”
“Lab rat?” she asked, a very non-British smirk on her face.
“Security people love code names,” he muttered. “I think more than half my team wanted to be Secret Service when they grew up.”
“Yours?” he asked, looking up at the unlit line of numbers above the elevator door.
Adelle shifted her hands to Dominic’s shoulders and boosted herself a little higher to bring them eye to eye. “Mine.”
Every breath she took made him achingly aware of her breasts brushing against his chest. She had a relaxed, eminently patient look about her. Dominic shifted his gaze to the radio resting on the floor beside him, willing someone to call him.
“Mr. Dominic?” Adelle prompted. “What is my codename?”
“I vetoed British Bitch,” he offered, pressing a hand against the wall behind him. “Damn,” he muttered. “No wonder I’m getting cold, the wall is. We should move to the center. The carpet will insulate from below.”
“All right,” Adelle said, unhurriedly releasing him and moving only slightly away.
Dominic stood and offered Adelle a hand up. She accepted and they moved to the center and sat down again in nearly choreographed fashion. “What’s your codename, Mr. Dominic?” Adelle asked.
“I don’t have one. I’m not one of the assets we’re paid to protect.” With a start, Dominic realized they were still holding hands. I’m not going to mention this little interlude in my next NSA field report. No. We’ll just skip right over this—it would only obfuscate the true issue—Topher and his heat sucking tech.
“Your back is ice cold,” Adelle observed, releasing his hand to rub his back with both of hers, generating a small amount of heat through friction. “From leaning against the wall, no doubt.” Mouth a fraction of an inch from his ear, she murmured, “Why won’t you tell me my codename, Laurence? Is it insulting or otherwise offensive?”
“No one’s used one,” Dominic muttered.
“That hasn’t escaped my notice.”
“I don’t care for it, but I got tired of vetoing everything.” He sighed. “PG.”
“PG? As in a movie rating?”
Endeavoring to remain stoic in the face of her annoyance, he said, “Sure.”
“I assure you, Mr. Dominic, if I was a movie, I would not be rated PG.”
“No, ma’am. Not PG.”
“You are finding far too much humor in this, despite the fact you’ve not once smiled,” she declared, ceasing to rub his still cold back. “PG, indeed.”
He stared at the ceiling, resigned to meeting a fate likely worse than death. “It stands for Porcelain Goddess.”
Unguarded laughter he never would’ve predicted.
“Um … L-man?”
Topher’s voice from the radio seemed to amuse DeWitt even more.
“What?” Dominic replied, giving voice to an exceptional scowl.
“Is … is … you know … she who must be obeyed … laughing?” Topher asked.
“Since there’s no one else in here and I’m not, I think the geniuses among us could infer that, yes, Ms. DeWitt has found humor in my detailed description of what I’m going to do to you if we aren’t out of here in five minutes.”
“It’ll be … a tiny bit longer than that.”
“How much longer?” Dominic said, the demand in his tone falling off when Adelle sobered and took his hand again. A Herculean effort in concentration was necessitated by the confluence of Topher speak and expressive green eyes looking up at him.
“… bypassed the main power grid, but that didn’t work so I’m constructing a new one. I’m thinking an hour, probably less.”
“What about the temperature?” Dominic asked, wondering about DeWitt’s slight chuckle.
“Attention span of milliseconds,” Topher said. “How can you even tie a tie? Must be muscle memory.”
“The temperature, Topher?” Dominic said.
“Headline reads, ‘Temperature Stabilized by Topher.’” Voice much much softer, he added, “I think.”
“An hour,” Dominic muttered.
“I’m shooting for cutting that in half. Still plenty of time to settle your latest spat,” Topher said. “Bye.”
Dominic sighed. “I’m not sure they make leashes short enough for Topher.”
“He was upset when you asked about the temperature,” Adelle said. “He was clearly enamored of his achievement. His initial description made temperature stabilization seem like the discovery of the fountain of youth. How on earth did you manage to tune that out?”
Shrugging, Laurence said, “It’s a gift. Topher speaks. I hear half of it.”
“No,” Adelle murmured, placing a hand on his shoulder, regarding him thoughtfully. “You often don’t like what you hear, but you do listen when Topher speaks. We all do.”
“There’s a difference between listening and hearing, ma’am.”
“There’s a distinction between conversation and evasion, Mr. Dominic.”
Christ, Dom. Getting called on evasion isn’t on plan. “Ms. DeWitt, I …” He looked away, picked up his radio and dialed through the channels, thinking hard and fast. “I … I’m finding this situation … difficult.”
She tilted her head as if regarding him from a different angle would help her in some way. “It is difficult,” Adelle said. “Being stuck in a cold, nearly dark box is unpleasant in the best of times. When one is accustomed to taking charge in an emergency, I imagine it’s excruciating.”
“That’s a good word for it,” he muttered. “Excruciating.”
“First, you procrastinate in revealing my code name. Now you won’t explain why Topher’s elegant explanation of our improved temperature situation escaped your attention.” Narrowing her eyes, Adelle said, “I don’t approve of my Chief of Security keeping things from me, Mr. Dominic.”
“I was thinking,” Dominic whispered. “That’s why I missed Topher’s temperature talk.”
“About what?” she asked. “The temperature in this elevator is highly relevant at the moment.” Sighing, she said, “Look at me, Mr. Dominic. I want a straight answer and I want it now.”
“I wasn’t thinking, exactly,” he muttered, meeting her eyes. “I was distracted.”
“By what?” she demanded, her look of infinite patience a thing of the distant past.
“You don’t want to know.”
“You’re right,” she said, nodding her head. Dominic relaxed. “I don’t merely want to know. I demand to be told immediately.”
“Damn it,” he growled. Words wouldn’t form, so Dominic slid a hand behind Adelle’s neck, firm grip making a retreat difficult but not impossible. “Damn Topher and his fucked up experiments.” Laurence kissed Adelle, technique flawless, passion tightly reined. Until she responded. The small surrender opened a floodgate within him. His second kiss held everything that had been pent up for months and Adelle met him on equal footing. “Damn that fucking gorgeous dress,” he whispered, eyes raking over her body in a way he’d never allowed before. “Damn you, Adelle.” Her slow smile flowed through him like electric current.
“I was wondering when we would explore this particular possibility, Laurence,” Adelle murmured, kicking off her shoes.
She smiled that slow sinful way again when he mouthed, “Explore.” Fascinated, Dominic watched Adelle reach under her dress and wriggle out of her minimalist silk underwear. He lost sight of the article of clothing when she caressed him around his ear and along the column of his throat with it. “Why …?” he murmured. Silk trailing just above the collar of his dress shirt derailed the thought. “When—?” Adelle kissed away the rest of that question. Straddling his upper thighs, Adelle dropped her underwear next to her and unbuckled Dominic’s belt.
“You … you should pick those up, Adelle.”
“I’ll put them away when I’m quite finished with them, Laurence.” Never breaking eye contact, Adelle unbuttoned and unzipped his dress pants. “Lift.”
The move was made more difficult by her position but it was far from impossible and Dominic was motivated. Adelle slid his pants and boxers out of her way. “No,” she said. “You needn’t expect to hear any version of the size doesn’t matter speech.” Smiling, he reached for her. “Wait, Laurence,” she murmured. “I’m not through with you yet.”
Incredible sensations ripped a groan from Dominic. What the hell? Mustering what little remained of his will, Dominic refocused on Adelle. Silk caressing that portion of his anatomy drove Laurence insane with embarrassing rapidity. “Adelle,” he panted. “Christ … stop … I … I’m … I can’t …”
Fortunately, she relented, lowering herself onto him with a firm, sure motion. She worked him relentlessly and Dominic focused on holding off. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Dominic called to mind an exceedingly detailed, nauseatingly self-congratulatory lecture Topher had delivered about some imprint of Victor’s. Fingernails digging into his dress shirt at his shoulders called Laurence back.
Adelle looked impossibly beautiful—head thrown back, body moving more rapidly and less gracefully, lips parted. Bracing her hips, Dominic shifted slightly to change the angle of penetration. Adelle moaned his name, even as she fought his attempt to direct her motion with his hands.
“Let go,” he whispered. “C’mon, Adelle, let it happen.”
“No,” she groaned, pulling away, entire body shaking with need.
Dominic drew her back to him and lay down in one continuous motion so they ended up side by aside. “Yes,” he insisted, joining their bodies once more.
“No,” she whispered, even as she clung to his shoulders, kissing him as though he was something precious she’d thought lost forever. “It’s not supposed to be like this. Not … not with you.”
“It is what it is,” he said, driving into her, setting an irresistible rhythm.
“I can’t feel … this. I want … oh, God, I want … not to feel … like this.”
“We don’t always get what we want, Adelle.”
She arched her back, whispered his name and pleasure overtook them both. The held each other for several minutes, waiting for heart and respiration rates to return to normal. Cursing his curiosity but unable to deny it, Laurence asked, “How was it supposed to be with me?”
“Pleasant,” she whispered. “A nice, uncomplicated way to take the edge off.” She kissed him on the nose. “Civilized and controlled. Nothing base. Nothing primal.”
“I’m glad to have failed to meet your expectations,” he said, running his fingers through her disheveled hair.
“Don’t be smug.”
“I’m not. I’m too fucking spent to be smug.”
She laughed softly. “Good.”
“You don’t get to be smug either.”
“I’m British. I have the right of first refusal on smug.”
Dominic sat up and began to set his clothes to right. “You really don’t want to give me the right of first refusal on smartass, do you?” he asked.
“No,” she replied, watching him with a contented look on her face.
“No smug. No smartass.”
“Very well, Laurence.” Tossing him his belt, Adelle sat up. “How bad is my makeup?”
“In this light, it looks fine.” He suppressed a smile. “Your hair needs some work, though.”
“So does yours.”
Dominic finger combed his hair. He aborted his reach for his radio at Adelle’s displeased clearing of her throat. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Thirty seconds of effort and you look pulled together. Clothes maybe slightly too wrinkled, but everything else can pass for perfectly normal. And I look ravished.”
“Not quite ravished,” he said. “None of your clothes are ripped. I think that’s a requirement for ravishing. And I’m no where close to back to normal, Adelle. I don’t think my legs will support me yet.”
“Help me with my hair,” she hissed. He had a comb in his pocket and between the two of them they did a fair job with her hair. They celebrated their achievement with a deep, increasingly sensual kiss.
The lights came on and the elevator jolted into motion. “Damn,” Dominic muttered. “We’re going down.”
“The reset program must return the elevators to the ground floor,” Adelle said, smoothing her dress, settling her features into mild annoyance.
“Ready?” Dominic asked.
“Do we have a choice?” she countered, softening the words with a small smile.
The elevator doors opened, revealing Langton, Topher, Ivy and a small contingent of security people. Adelle DeWitt strode among them like a Queen reviewing troops and finding them sadly lacking.
“Nice coat,” Topher said, grinning at the sight of DeWitt in Dominic’s suit jacket which she had refused to relinquish for reasons unspecified.
“Mr. Brink, I will see you in my office in fifteen minutes time. Ivy, please see to the imprints once the chair is ready for use. Mr. Langton,” she turned to the security team, “all, thank you for your fine work in restoring order.”
“Hello, Topher fixed the power grid,” Topher said.
“In devastatingly slow fashion.” Adelle turned to Laurence. “Mr. Dominic, if I might have just a few more moments of your time.”
“Of course, ma’am,” he replied, falling into step beside her, refraining from even frowning at Topher. “That was well done,” he said.
“Your legs seem to have recovered.”
“I’m operating on pride at the moment.” To her inquiring glance, he said, “How would it look if I fell further and further behind you?”
“Yes, we certainly must keep up appearances.”
“We will,” Dominic said. He inclined his head slightly to her inquiring look. “It’s the only sensible thing to do.”
“I wouldn’t mind,” Adelle began, nodding pleasantly to Victor, “a reprise. Or two.”
“Me neither.” Adelle gripped him by the bicep hard enough to bruise. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Laurence, I … I’ve left my under garment in the elevator.”
“Ma’am,” he said, expression perfectly serious. “What kind of Chief of Security would I be if I allowed that to happen?”
Tense muscles releasing all at once, Adelle dropped her hand. “Not mine,” she said, smiling to the Dollhouse in general as they started walking again.
Something of his thought must’ve shown in his expression, because Adelle glanced sidelong at him and said, “You heard correctly, Mr. Dominic.”