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Tactical Maneuvers
damien listening guitar
Title: Tactical Maneuvers
Rating: R (violence, language and sexual situations)
Author: rogoblue
Summary: Adelle and Dominic must dispose of Clive Ambrose and try to determine how he met his fate. Fifth in the Let’s Pretend series (fourth is Strategic Planning, third is Parisian Complications, second is Pretending to Pretend. Link to the fourth is below this summary. You can get to the others from there or via my live journal. Link to the fifth is below the dedication.
Words: 6,200
Spoilers: Season 1 and 2 a little bit through episode 12. Set somewhere between 1.06 and 1.09.
Disclaimers: The toys are Joss Whedon’s. The idea is mine.
Dedication: To all you folks who keep asking, “What happens next?”

Reluctantly despite the extreme change in circumstances, Laurence Dominic put Adelle DeWitt down. “What’s underneath him?” he wondered, approaching Clive Ambrose’s dead body arrayed in spread eagle fashion on the bed in their hotel room in Paris. He laughed. “A plastic tarp.”

“How thoughtful,” Adelle commented.

“Nah,” Dominic muttered. “They just didn’t want to leave any DNA evidence behind which, I have to admit, tempts me to smear a bit of his blood around the room.” He could feel Adelle’s eyes on him as he tugged his bow tie loose. “Change into something comfortable, easy to move in and black or at least dark colored,” Dominic said. The clothes I had on earlier will do nicely. Mind racing, determining and ordering the tasks to be completed, Laurence changed clothes on automatic pilot. When he finished, Dominic was stunned to see Adelle staring down at Ambrose’s body still wearing her gorgeous blue gown. “Adelle? Are you all right?”

“I’m angry.”

“You’ll look awesomely angry in black,” he said, transferring his wallet from the tux to his jeans. “I’ll be back in about an hour,” he said.

“Where are you going?” she asked, whirling to face him, expression strained. “I don’t want to stay here with … it.”

“I’ll be quicker alone, but before I go …” Dominic allowed his sentence to trail off as he moved into the living area of their suite. Retrieving the duffle bag containing his armaments from the closet, he extracted a small automatic weapon. When he returned to the bedroom, Laurence said, “I had Grayson bring this for you. It’s light, easy to use. Squeeze trigger, single shot. Hold it down for auto. Spare clip,” he said, holding one up. “Press here to eject, toss aside the used portion, slam this home and you’re good to go.” Following the demonstration, Laurence put the weapon on the bed next to Clive’s left foot. “Shoot first and ask questions later, Adelle.” Dominic watched her anger switch targets to him. “Don’t get killed, ok?” he said. “I need you for the next part.”

“Laurence,” she said, a clear warning he chose to ignore.

“An hour. Maybe a little less.” Taking his life into his hands, Laurence stepped next to Adelle and gave her a quick kiss. “I promise.”

* * *

Fifty Two Minutes Later

Laurence Dominic stared at the automatic weapon aimed at his chest. “Password,” Adelle DeWitt demanded, eyes hard and dangerous.

Password? What password? Adelle gave nothing away. “I want you,” he whispered, “but the bed’s occupied by a dead asshole and we’re really pressed for time.”

“That will do,” she said, lowering the gun, placing it next to her on the couch.

Keeping one eye on Adelle, Dominic pulled two pairs of surgical gloves from his briefcase. Tossing one to Adelle as he moved past her, he said, “Put those on and grab one of Topher’s blockers.”

“You enjoy giving me orders, don’t you, Mr. Dominic?”

“What happened to Laurence?” he asked, halting to face her. He sighed when she evinced utter disdain. “I give orders in situations like this, Adelle. It’s what I do. The fact that it’s you is irrelevant.” Her narrowed eyes demanded he add, “Irrelevant in the sense that I’m not overly enjoying ordering you around.”

“Good,” she said. Smiling in a scary way, Adelle came to her feet with inhuman grace, drawing Laurence’s attention to her snug cashmere sweater and comfortable looking tailored slacks, both black.

Catching himself staring, Laurence headed for the bedroom. Surgical gloves on, Dominic searched Ambrose. He found the dead man’s itinerary and return plane ticket in the interior breast pocket of his suit jacket along with a business card for Rx Consulting and a hotel room keycard and a handful of Euros in his pants pocket. No wallet. No passport. Next, Dominic wrapped Ambrose’s body in the kindly provided tarp and tied it in place with twine he’d purchased for the purpose. Satisfied with his handiwork, he lifted Ambrose over his right shoulder in a fireman’s carry. Turning, Laurence caught sight of Adelle hovering in the doorway, hands in the pockets of an undoubtedly expensive black leather jacket.

“What’s the plan?” she asked.

“You lead the way but don’t get too far ahead. Topher’s blocker will keep us from making an appearance on any of the hotel’s security cameras,” Dominic said. “We’ll go from here to the north stairwell. It’s about fifty feet from our door on the opposite side of the hallway. We’ll take those down to the first basement level. The stairs are about two hundred feet from the door to the parking garage. We’ll turn right inside the garage and make our way seventy-five or so feet further to the car—a black Mercedes sedan parked in a shadowy spot underneath an exit sign.” Dominic took a steadying breath. “Scout ahead. Let me know when the coast is clear. Become a distraction if you can’t get rid of whomever. Ok?”

Nodding, Adelle picked up a blocker. “Take a 9mm with you and here,” Dominic said as he tossed her a set of car keys.

“You rented a car?” she asked, no doubt thinking of the paper trail.

“Borrowed our co-pilot’s. Stephan has an apartment in Paris and keeps a car here.” Meeting Adelle’s eyes, grasping her upper arm lightly, he said, “Ready?” She nodded. “Take a breath,” he advised. “Relax to the extent you can. People really don’t want to see anyone disposing of a body. That’s a huge advantage.”

Adelle slipped the pistol she’d selected into a pocket of her leather jacket. The blocker protruded from another. Mustering an uncertain smile, she opened the door to their suite and slipped out. Dominic stayed within but kept Adelle in sight. She nodded pleasantly to an older couple waiting for the elevator as she leaned against the wall, looked at her watch and frowned, posture and expression emoting, “Where is that sorry son of a bitch? He’s late. Again.”

Dominic heard the chime of the elevator. Eyes glued to Adelle, he saw her smile at the couple and wave him forward. He reached the stairwell without incident. “Stay close as we go down,” he whispered. “Trouble can come from above or below, but most people in hotels like this don’t take the stairs. So … we can be cautiously optimistic.” They descended in near perfect time. Voices sounded in the stairwell above them. Making an executive decision, Dominic said, “Ignore them and pick up the pace. We’ll beat them down by a couple of minutes.” Impressed by her ability to function without extraneous words, he concentrated on their descent. When they reached the bottom, Adelle peeked out into the corridor.

“Damn,” she said. “There’re two hotel employees to the left and a couple of kids smoking cigarettes just inside the garage.”

Glancing up the stairs, Dominic considered. Suddenly, Adelle was moving to the left. “Please,” she said to the two hotel employees, voice low, urgent, “my husband is having chest pains. We’re in room 1212. I need to go to the car and get his nitroglycerin. Please call an ambulance.” The two men moved off while Adelle headed toward the garage. Pushed by the people behind him and lacking knowledge of the precise range of Topher’s blocker, Dominic followed, lagging back as far as he dared. Adelle shrugged out of her jacket, making appreciation of her sweater a simpler matter. She borrowed a cigarette from one of the boys. While the two fell all over themselves giving her a light, Dominic slipped by and to their car. Putting Ambrose on the ground, he called, “I thought you quit, honey.”

“You thought wrong,” she said, sashaying toward him, tossing him the keys when she got close. Dominic unlocked the doors and the trunk. Hefting Ambrose in strained his shoulder a bit, but he vowed to show nothing. Dropping into the driver’s seat, he smiled at his companion. “Nicely done,” he whispered.

“Kiss me like you mean it,” she said, tone soft yet Dominic knew an order when he heard one. Swallowing his questions, Laurence did as she bid. Her response drew an answering one from his body. Adelle’s wave over his shoulder drove him into a spin. The young men peered through the windshield, grinning like maniacs. Dominic gunned the engine and pulled out, not caring if he ran over toes in the process. Laughing, releasing tension, Adelle struggled with her seat belt, eventually prevailing. Dominic didn’t bother with his until he’d programmed the navigation system.

“Where are we going?” Adelle asked after he’d driven for about ten minutes.

“To get rid of Ambrose,” he replied, merging into fast moving traffic.


“We’ll pick a dumpster for him several miles from here,” Dominic said, losing the battle he fought with a yawn.

“Is it wise to take this on ourselves?” Adelle asked. “We could deliver this problem to Renee’s doorstep.”

“I thought you didn’t want to be beholden to her,” Dominic said, blinking his eyes, concentrating on a specific pair of headlights behind him, wondering if it was possible they were being followed.

“I don’t,” she said, “but I’d rather not be implicated as an accessory after the fact.”

“Your confidence in me is inspiring, Adelle.” Dominic turned right. “The blocker will keep us off of any security cameras we encounter and there won’t be any evidence to speak of when we’re done.” He smirked across the front seat at her. “I’m confident you’re not even going to be suspected, much less caught, charged and convicted.”

“When’s the last time you’ve disposed of a body?” Adelle asked, touching his shoulder as if to make sure he was real.

“Personally? It’s been a while.” Grinning at her, he added, “It’d been a while between car thefts for me too and that went off without a hitch.” Eyes narrowing, Dominic consulted the navigation system. “We’re far enough from our hotel now, so we can select the final resting place for the deceased. What sort of dumpster do you think Ambrose would like?”

“The bigger the better,” Adelle murmured.

“Compensating from beyond the grave,” Dominic said, remembering the indictment as to Ambrose’s mind and privates made by the pretty boy bartender in the Paris House. Adelle did too, if her soft chuckle was any indication. Several promising alleys materialized along their route. Dominic selected one and drove through it. Satisfied, he said, “Ok, Adelle. We’re going to do this similarly to the drill in the hotel. When we come back here, I’ll park and you have a look around. If I’m clear, crouch down as though you’re tying your shoe.” Noting her bemused look, he asked, “What?”

“My shoes don’t have laces, Laurence.”

“Don’t let the facts needlessly inhibit you, Adelle.” If anything, her expression became even more bemused. “What now?”

“I’m unaccustomed to you sending me out ahead.”

“Believe me, I don’t like it, but I don’t have a choice. You’d have a hell of a time lifting Ambrose if you could even do it.”

Dominic circled back and pulled into the alley, stopping one hundred feet from a respectably large dumpster. Without missing a beat, Adelle was out of the car and heading for the target. Dominic opened the trunk. He drew his gun when he lost sight of Adelle. Counting slowly to ten, to twenty, to fifty, Dominic took several steps forward. Adelle hove into view and crouched, head down as though focused on her footwear. Nodding, Dominic lifted Ambrose and a metal container and made for the dumpster. He was about two thirds of the way there when Adelle rose to her feet. Dominic froze. As she strolled toward him, he resumed his forward progress, albeit slower.

“There’s someone at the mouth of the alley looking this way,” Adelle whispered as she passed him. “I think they can see the car, but the light from the streetlamp isn’t enough for them to see us clearly. Nor is the light near the dumpster.”

Picking up his pace, Dominic placed Ambrose and the metal container in the shadows at the base of the dumpster. Gun in hand, Dominic hugged the wall of the building to his right and jogged back down the alley. When he got closer to Adelle and the overly curious person, he slowed his pace and listened.

“You cannot park there, madam,” said the guy.

“We aren’t,” she said. “The car has been running poorly. We pulled in there so we didn’t stall on the roadway and disturb the flow of traffic.”

“You are having car trouble?” he said, stepping closer to Adelle and into the light of the streetlamp. Dominic swore under his breath. Lovely, a French cop.

“Yes,” she said.

“I will call a tow truck for you, madam,” the cop said, raising a radio toward his mouth.

“That won’t be necessary,” Dominic said, stepping forward. “I think I can get her going again. Damn temperamental German cars.”

Nodding in sympathy, the cop said, “You cannot park there, sir.”

“I know, I know. Give me ten minutes?” With a grunt, the cop acceded. Grumbling not quite inaudibly, Dominic retrieved Ambrose and the metal container and dumped them both back into the trunk, being far more careful with the container than Ambrose.

He and Adelle rode in silence for a time while Dominic looked for another suitable alley. When he found a candidate, he drove through it to make sure it matched the other one in all salient respects. It didn’t, so they drove on. The third time was the charm. “Ok,” Dominic said, aiming a small smile at Adelle. “Here we go again. Ready?” Likely as restless and keyed up as he was, Adelle was out of the car the instant he stopped. Dominic hadn’t even opened the trunk when she dropped to “tie her shoe.” After hauling Ambrose and metal container to the dumpster, Dominic climbed on to a pile of wooden boxes leaning against it to get enough leverage to open it, resting the lid on top of the other half of the dumpster as quietly as possible. Pleased to see Adelle keeping watch without being told, he stepped down and lifted Ambrose’s body into the dumpster. Putting the metal container on top of the open lid, Dominic climbed the boxes once more and doused the body with the contents of the container before dropping if into the dumpster as well. Jumping down, he motioned Adelle back. “Back the car out of the alley and find someplace to park a few blocks north of here, facing north,” he said. “Give me fifteen minutes, then pull out onto the road and drive north. Watch for me. Got it?”

“Yes,” she whispered. The fatigue in her tone made him frown. “We’re almost done, Adelle. Stay with me.”

“Give me some incentive,” she whispered, sliding her arms around his neck.

“We need to get going before another cop shows up to help us,” he murmured.

“I require proper incentive,” she insisted.

He intended the kiss to be quick but she’d nipped his lower lip hard when he’d tried to pull away. Putting his slight hesitation to good use, Adelle tugged him in for a more robust effort. This time, when she sought to depart, Dominic held her close. Eyes locking with hers, he whispered, “Let’s do this.”

Taking the keys from him, Adelle whispered, “Be careful, Laurence.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he said and saluted. Mentally counting to one hundred after she backed the car out of the alley, Dominic lit a match, tossed it in the dumpster and jogged ten quick steps back. The “whoosh” of air being sucked in to feed the flames convinced him he’d been right to use jet fuel. There’d be nothing left of Ambrose and not much of the dumpster when all was said and done. Dominic sprinted along the alley in the opposite direction to that Adelle had taken and turned north into another alley running perpendicular to the original. He ran to the next street, crossed and continued along the alley, parallel to the street on which Adelle had parked the car. Ten blocks later, he slowed to a brisk walk and turned right to head back to the Adelle’s street. Crossing to the east side, Dominic slowed to a stroll and watched the cars going by for a certain black Mercedes. He saw her just as the first siren sounded. She pulled to the curb and he climbed in. “Perfect,” he said, leaning over to kiss her. “Do you want me to drive?” he asked, pulling Ambrose’s itinerary out of his pocket and entering the data into the navigation system.

“Yes,” Adelle said, yet making no move to switch places. “Where are we going?”

“Ambrose’s hotel.” He watched the navigation system calculate their route. “Might be something there that’ll shed some light on who killed him.”

* * *

Having declined his invitation to wait in the car, Adelle DeWitt strode with Laurence Dominic along the hallway of the fifteenth floor of Clive Ambrose’s hotel. The starkly modern, almost sterile décor suited Ambrose in Dominic’s view, a clear indicator that Ambrose and Adelle would never have been compatible. Despite the cold, detached façade she often displayed, there was warmth inherent in her and her preferred surroundings. Thus, Adelle looked a little out of place and mildly uncomfortable.

Dominic halted Adelle with one hand about six feet from room 1509. “Wait here, at least,” he muttered. Her frown drew a matching one to his face. She arched an eyebrow and he gave up on the frown. “Please, wait here, Adelle. We have no idea who might be in there or what condition they might be in.” Crossing her arms in front of her, Adelle nodded curtly. “Thank you,” he whispered, kissing her forehead.

Taking a deep breath, Dominic closed the distance to the door and knocked. No response. No sounds of movement from inside. He knocked again. “Mr. Ambrose, I’m Mr. Klein from guest services. I understand you have a question about your bill.” Nothing. Drawing his gun, Dominic retrieved the keycard from his pocket and slid it into the slot. When the indicator turned green, Dominic turned the knob and pushed open the door as he dropped to one knee. Seeing nothing, Laurence rose and entered the room, back to the wall next to the door. Allowing his eyes to adjust to the dark, Dominic scanned the room. Nothing seemed out of place. No bodies were draped over tarp covered furniture. Dominic felt behind him for a light switch.

“I didn’t expect Laurence Dominic,” said a voice.

Turning a startled, unprofessional jump into a spin toward the voice, Dominic spotted the silhouette of a man standing in front of a large window. “Where did you come from?” Dominic demanded.

“The bedroom.”

“Who are you?”

“Is the lovely Ms. DeWitt with you by any chance?” the guy asked.

“No,” Dominic said.

“Yes,” Adelle said from just outside the door.

Dominic closed his eyes and ground his teeth. “You said you’d wait.”

“I did wait,” Adelle countered. “I waited until I heard you speaking with someone who called you by name.” Stepping into the room, Adelle turned on several overhead lights. “I see no reason for this … meeting to take place by moonlight,” she murmured, tone eloquently voicing her opinion the previous, testosterone driven state of affairs. The man they faced was a bit older. Dominic put him in his early to mid fifties. Perfectly trimmed gray hair, dark eyes, athletic build with the slightest paunch, well cut suit, nice tie, the man held a gun at his side with casual ease.

“Who are you?” Dominic asked, stepping between the guy and Adelle.

“You may call me Damian.”

His accent is difficult to place. It’s European but from where? Eyes ice blue, Dominic said, “Who are you, Damian?”

“I, like you, I presume, came here to better understand why Clive Ambrose met the fate he did,” Damian said, circumnavigating Dominic, smiling, taking Adelle’s hand to kiss it.

“You have any luck with that?” Dominic asked, barely resisting the urge to back Damian off. Adelle’s fully capable of doing that on her own and would either resent or find amusing my doing it for her.

“Ambrose wanted many things,” Damian said. “Eternal life. Absolute power over people who stymied him, mystified him or made him feel small.” Damian’s eyes drifted to Adelle. “And you, my dear.” Damian shuddered. “The image of an imprinted Adelle DeWitt worshiping the ground Clive Ambrose walked on is one of … horror.”

Free hand clenching into a fist, Dominic bit back a comment on Damian’s idea of horror. Adelle stepped closer to Damian, smiling at the man in a speculative way that threatened to inspire Dominic to violence. “Do you know anything or are you simply posturing, Damian?” she asked, tone the epitome of boredom. Eyes drifting briefly to Laurence, she said, “I loathe posturing.”

Damian’s eyes bore into Dominic. “Ambrose had many enemies, but only one wanted him dead.” Softening his expression, Damian regarded Adelle. “You have many enemies as well, my dear, but the ones closest to home are the most troubling. They will endeavor to take from you what you need to achieve your goals.”

“Cryptic is great in the movies, Damian,” Dominic said. “Real life calls for plain speak.”

“I am constrained in ways you cannot imagine.” Damian apologized to Adelle with his eyes when he released her hand. Smiling a challenge at Dominic, Damian stepped up to the taller man with admirable aplomb. “The pieces are in motion, but the rules of the game have yet to be firmly established. We have more in common, Mr. Dominic, than excellent taste in women and a willingness to do what must be done. You and I are cut from the same cloth. We both play to win.”

Play to win? Is Damian French Intelligence? With one of the Pan European groups? “Why bother to play otherwise,” Dominic muttered. Stepping forward, taking Adelle’s hand, he said, “C’mon, let’s get out of here. This was a huge waste of time.”

“Or not,” Damian said, holding out a data stick as if in offering. “Take it, Dominic. It won’t bite.”

Eyes darting between Damian’s eyes and gun hand, the Chief of Security of the LA Dollhouse snatched the small device. “Lucky me,” he muttered.

“I’ll expect a proper thank you in due course,” Damian said, chuckling annoyingly. “When you understand what I’ve just done for you.”

“I live to dash the expectations of people stuck in an elementary school ‘I know something you don’t know’ mentality,” Dominic muttered, backing through the door with Adelle.

Damian executed a precise formal bow that would have been at home at the court of Louis XVI. “See to it you don’t die for the same unworthy cause.”

* * *

The moment they entered their hotel room, Adelle DeWitt made for the bedroom. Dominic took out his cellular phone. “No new dead body,” she announced.

“Good,” he muttered, firing up his computer, searching his phone for the number he needed. Settling in at one end of the couch in front of his laptop, Dominic made his call. Twenty or so minutes of calm conversation later, Dominic had things arranged to his liking. Now came the tough part. Bringing Adelle on board. As if his thought of her conjured her up, Adelle entered the suite’s living area, hair damp from a shower, wearing a pale lavender silk nightgown, dragging a blanket, comforter and a pillow. As Dominic split his attention between entering data into his intelligence program and Adelle, her intent became obvious. “No interest in the bed, huh?” he asked.


“Could I impose on you to pack for both of us?” he asked.

“Pack for what?” she asked, arranging the blanket and comforter on the couch.

“We’re flying back to LA tomorrow.”

“What? No, Laurence, we can’t. We’ve learned nothing about my enemy.”

“Adelle,” he murmured, “too much has happened. And we’ve learned plenty. More than enough to be sure there’s way more going on than a possible threat from the enemy you suspected going in. We need to be somewhere safer—a place where we can bring more resources to bear. Where we have more control over what happens, not to mention where, when and how. Trust me on this. We need to go.”

“I’m not skulking off with my tail between my legs,” she snarled as she sat down next to him.

“You aren’t,” Laurence insisted. “You’re being prudent as your staid and conservative security guy recommended.” He risked a small smile. “Seriously, this is spinning out of control and we’re outmanned, outgunned and don’t have the intelligence to overcome those disadvantages.”

She leaned her head on his shoulder and slipped her arms around him. “I feel a coward.”

“You aren’t,” Dominic countered. As the silence stretched out between them, Dominic typed at impressive speed, entering data, impressions, anything he could think of into his program. He finally finished including all the information he’d gleaned from the audio and video pickups he’d found and removed before the arrival of Topher’s blockers. He’d read the single file on Damian’s data stick and incorporated the weird text into his intelligence program. Damian said I’d thank him once I understood what he’d done for me. How does a poem about a knight on a quest to find the key to stopping a war all of his peers were in favor of fighting help me? Inspired by Adelle’s increasing restlessness and a wish to escape his own troubling thoughts, he said, “If there’s a coward of this piece, it’s me. I’m trained to this and I don’t like the way the scenario is starting to play. Believe me, Adelle, I don’t do this lightly. I have to look Grayson in the eye and admit I was wrong. Do you think I’m looking forward to that?”

“No,” Adelle said. “Do you imagine Ms. Grayson will arrive in Los Angeles before us?”

“No. We have an early departure.”

“Do our people know we’re coming?” Adelle asked, snuggling closer like a small creature seeking warmth or protection.

“The flight plan’s been registered at both airports and copied to the Dollhouse.” He chuckled, putting his arm around Adelle, hugging her briefly. “I guess the short answer is, ‘Yes.’”

“I wish we could come upon them unaware.”

“Why?” Laurence asked, still inputting stream of consciousness style impressions of everything that had happened in the last 36 hours, not minding the slow down necessary to do it one handed.

“Damian warned against enemies close to home attempting to take something I need,” Adelle said. “I sense I should heed his warning.” Adelle looked up at him with tired green eyes. “And be vigilant in my own House.”

“Will you pack for us before you go to sleep?” he whispered.

Smiling, she kissed him on the cheek. “Because you asked so nicely.”

Dominic settled in for a long night of data entry. Forty five minutes to an hour later, Adelle emerged from the bedroom. “I’ve finished,” she murmured, slowly making her way to the couch, crawling under the blanket and comforter, resting her head on Laurence’s thigh.

“I can move, so you can be more comfortable,” he said.

Adelle gripped his knee with her hand, lightly yet firmly. “I’m very comfortable, Laurence. Don’t trouble yourself on my account.”

* * *

Several Hours Later

Body aching and mind nearly numb with fatigue, Laurence Dominic entered the suite he and Adelle shared. Tripping over something, he cursed.

“Who’s there?” Adelle demanded in the harsh, no nonsense tone of an armed woman.

“It’s me, Adelle.”


The tremulous quality taking over her voice took him aback. “Yeah,” he said. “Who were you expecting, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp or George Clooney?”

“I awoke. You weren’t here. I was deathly afraid you were sprawled on our bed with a bullet to the brain.” Probably to compensate for sounding vulnerable, Adelle adopted the sharp intonation of the pissed off Director of the LA Dollhouse. “Where were you?”

“I was putting our bags in the car. I’ve only been gone four or five minutes.”

Approaching slowly, Dominic sat next to Adelle on the couch and pulled her into his arms. He didn’t comment on her trembling. She didn’t mention how warm he seemed or the light sheen of sweat on his forehead. Eyes narrowing, considering, Laurence asked, “What woke you?”

“I’m not sure,” she admitted.

“You need to be sure,” he whispered, holding her closer. “Tell me what woke you.” When Adelle didn’t reply, he released her, drew his sidearm and searched the living area, the bedroom, the bathroom and all of the closets. Even more fundamentally tired when he returned, Dominic halted next to the couch, intuiting he shouldn’t let the subject drop. “Take your time, Adelle. Was it a dream?” he asked. “Did you hear a noise? Think you heard one? What?”

Standing, Adelle kissed him like they had no later today, much less a tomorrow. “I couldn’t feel you,” she said.

“And that bothered you,” he muttered, grinning. “No accounting for taste.”

“Come here,” Adelle said, reclining on the couch, pointing to the pillow she’d brought for them to share.

Dominic scanned the room. “I have to—.”

“Rest, Laurence,” Adelle whispered, vibrant tone calling attention to her silk clad form. Patting the small space next to her, she smiled tiredly. “Sleep with me at least.”

“Adelle, I can’t close my eyes just yet or I’ll—.”

“What?” she demanded. “Prove you’re a man rather than a machine.” She patted the couch again. “I can’t tempt you in your current state of fatigue. How inadequate does that make me?”

“I’m not finished, Adelle.” His words sounded slightly slurred and more than mildly petulant to his own ears. Damn.

“You can play with your laptop on the plane, Laurence. Rest now.”

The digital clock on the desk read 4:17 am. “Ok,” he murmured. “You win.” He kicked off his shoes and lay down on his side beside Adelle, holding her close, feeling too warm but not caring. “You always do,” he whispered.

“Sleep, Laurence,” Adelle said, the last words he heard for 24 minutes. At 4:41 am, Dominic’s cell phone rang.

Fighting his jeans pocket for the phone, he sat up. “Dominic,” he muttered, rubbing tired eyes with his free hand.

“Dominic, it’s Stephan. Take DeWitt and get out. Get out now!”

“Hold on,” Dominic said, wondering what had agitated the copilot of the LA Dollhouse jet at this hour. “What’s happened?”

“Jeffrey’s down. Celeste too. Dom they’re going to torch the jet. Get the hell out!”

“Who are they?”

“I don’t know,” Stephan said. “About ten guys in tactical gear who know their business. If they aren’t military, they once were.”

“Hunker down,” Dominic ordered. “I can be there in twenty minutes.”

“I don’t have half that long,” Stephan said. Dominic heard gunfire in the background. “Take my car—.”

“Damn it, Stephan, find a corner you can defend and I—.”

“I’m in the plane. They’re going to blow it and me to kingdom come. Take my car and get her out. Jesus, Dominic, no one knew we were heading out this morning.”

“Not LA?” Dominic asked.

“Well, yeah, LA knew.” The moment of silence between the two men was more than deafening. “Shit, Dominic.”

“Yeah.” Dominic lowered his head. “I’m sorry, Stephan.”

“No worries. We all knew the drill. Pleasure serving with you, sir.”

Damn it. “Pleasure serving with you, Stephan,” Dominic said.

“Go, Dom—!” The unmistakable sound of an explosion came over his cell phone before the connection was lost.

“We need to move,” Dominic said, standing, pulling Adelle up with him. “I don’t want to leave you alone while I get Grayson. Dress fast and we’ll go together.”

“What’s happened?” Adelle murmured, struggling free of the covers.

“Our plane and flight crew are likely gone, but I want to swing by the airport before we leave to make sure.”

Spearing Dominic with a gaze that was far too awake, Adelle said, “Gone?’


“No one knew but—.”

“Paris flight control, their counterparts at LAX, the LA Dollhouse and anyone who might’ve been watching our hangar. Yeah, Adelle, I get that.” Ushering her to the bedroom, he said, “You need to think about which European Dollhouse we can safely approach, because we’re going to need help getting home.”

* * *

Four Minutes Later

Dominic pounded on the door of room 1134, keeping out of sight of the peephole in it.

“Who the fuck is out there?” Grayson asked.

“Dominic,” he snarled. The door opened. Dominic pushed his way in, pulling Adelle in his wake. “We need to go, Lisa. Now. Throw your shit together and move.”

Already mobile, Grayson said, “What’s going on, Dom?”

“We lost the jet and the crew.” Grayson stopped and looked over her shoulder at him. “Save the fucking ‘I told you so’ until we’re clear,” Dominic said. “Move.” Taking his last word to heart, Grayson was ready in ninety seconds. Nodding approval, Dominic ordered, “I’m on point.” Glancing at Grayson, he added, “Until you know our vehicle. Adelle’s in the middle. You have our backs. I’m thinking the elevator because a hit team would take the stairs. Concur?” Grayson nodded. “Let’s go.” Dominic led the way to the elevator bank. Adelle hit the down button. All three bounced on the balls of their feet waiting. Dominic focused on the north stairwell, Grayson the south.

The elevator door opened. Dominic and Grayson stepped in front of Adelle and opened fire before the two men therein drew their weapons. Pushing Adelle forward, Dominic dropped to one knee next to the tall blonde man. Grayson took the shorter brown haired guy. Their quick searches weren’t particularly fruitful, but needed to be done. “Wrong fucking again,” Dominic muttered as they shoved the dead men into the hall and started down in the elevator. “That’s a habit that’ll stand breaking.”

“If they sent a hit team in this elevator, they sent them in the other one and both stairwells too, Dom,” Grayson said, eyeing her superior with concern. “How much sleep have you had lately?”

“Not enough,” Adelle said, smiling at Dominic’s tired attempt at a scowl. “I evidently have not been sufficiently firm, Ms. Grayson. I’ll endeavor to do better.”

Ignoring Grayson’s shock and the temptation to correct Adelle’s statement about firmness in a wholly inappropriate manner, Dominic said, “Heads up, Lisa, we need to get to the car. The garage isn’t far and there shouldn’t be a lot of people down there at this hour, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be.” Putting a hand on Adelle’s shoulder, he asked, “Are you all right?”

“There is no need to baby me, Laurence,” she muttered.

“I’m not,” Dominic said. “Believe me, after the last few days, babying you would never occur to me.”

Adelle turned to Grayson as they reached their floor. “Is that a compliment?” she asked.

“That’s a high complement,” Grayson said, waiting for Dominic to take point and Adelle to move into position behind him. “A damn high complement,” she whispered as she followed, pitching her words loud enough for Adelle to hear.

To Dominic’s immense relief, they made it to the car without incident. Watching Dominic closely, Grayson took a seat in the back. Adelle slid into the passenger’s seat in the front and made no comment as Dominic set a course for the airport. Stopping on the shoulder of a boulevard overlooking the more remote hangars, unwilling to accept the evidence of the huge plume of smoke, Dominic got out of the car and jogged up the small rise. Looking down with binoculars brought only closure. Walking back to the car, Laurence’s thoughts flew fast and furious.

“Have you decided, Adelle?” he asked as he climbed back inside. “Who do you trust? Where are we heading?” He sighed and put the car in gear. “We need a private plane, or I think Grayson’s prediction comes true. We don’t get back to LA.”

“What?” Adelle whispered.

“Christ, Dom, you think someone back home is … did … sanctioned … ordered that?” Eyes wide, frightened yet thoughtful, Grayson added, “If that’s the case, Ms. DeWitt, our names on a passenger manifest could well lead to a ‘tragic accident’ no one would survive.”

“Pick your poison, Adelle,” Dominic said. “Copy down the contact information if you don’t know it by heart. There’s a pen in the glove box, I think.” He sighed, took a deep breath and wished for coffee. “Point me in the right direction and everyone tosses their cell phones out the window.”

“How will I contact Evander?” Adelle asked.

“I’ll buy you a disposable cell the next time we get gas,” Dominic said. Eyeing Adelle, finally processing her words, he said, “We’re going to Zurich.”

“I should drive, Dom,” Grayson said.

“I need more alert eyes than mine figuring out if we’re being followed,” Dominic said.

“What good will it do to drive tail free if you fall asleep at the wheel?” Grayson demanded, checking her weapon for what seemed to Dominic to be the fifteenth time.

“None,” Dominic allowed, smiling at the chuckle he’d teased out of Grayson. Rolling his eyes at Adelle’s rolled eyes, he said, “Let’s settle in and get this done.” Grinning to his right, he said, “Slap me if I fall asleep at the wheel, ok?”

“With pleasure,” Adelle said.

“Hard?” he asked.

Adelle smiled at him. “With even greater pleasure.”

“You’re a piece of work,” Dominic whispered, smiling slightly.

“So they tell me,” Adelle said.

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OK, this is just getting more and more intriguing. And the bit of dialogue at the end was lovely. Also, I think I kind of have a crush on Grayson - is that weird?

You have NO idea how happy it makes me (and how relieved) to see the words "more and more intriguing." I fretted for quite some time over this part of the story. It wasn't funny. It was serious and action oriented and somewhat awful in the things that needed doing and what happened. The humor does start to make a come back in the next bit and returns in a bigger way in the one after.

The two lines at the very end, I took from Spy in the House of Love. They aren't verbatim. At least, Dominic's isn't.

A crush on Grayson? I don't think that's weird. She's obviously competent. She's good at what she does and one does wonder if she was the Lisa of the scene Adelle observed/overheard where security people were gossiping about Dominic and Giselle.

The two lines at the very end, I took from Spy in the House of Love

oh, I know - that's why I loved them! I have a thing for lines from the show being re-used in fic, if the author can pull it off (which you can, obv)

I just didn't want to take undeserved credit, but I guess it's ok b/c the lines are used completely differently.

it is better because they are happy and Dominic didn't go to the Attic and everything is good, except for the bit where people are trying to kill Adelle.

The line about someone in the L.A House being behind the incidents is deeply unnerving to me, mostly because we know of at least one person who is double-crossing Adelle. I suspect that Damian knows Dom's secret, but I could be reading too much into it.

Happy might be a stretch, given what's gone on, but we are Attic free for now. People trying to kill you--never good!

There are so many things going on right now--the who is responsible for any one is challenging to determine. Thanks so much for thinking about this. You conclusion re Damian certainly fits the facts, as we know them. More to come. Odd to say for something that was supposed to be a one shot!

I think it works that there is drama, plot and they are in danger - I understand why the lightness of some of the other parts doesn't work here. Having said that the dialogue is sparklingly perfect and Adelle and Dominic remain on very interesting terms - only now with a spectator.

I am desperately trying to work out if this still fits with a world where Spy happens - whilst also trying to forget what I know that means and focus on the story before me.

Thank you for saying it works. I had high anxiety on that score. The spectator--yes, perhaps a prelude to the massive spectation (is that a word?) they will endure should they manage to make it back to the LA Dollhouse.

Your last sentence will be addressed. I promise.

I have no doubt! Also - I want Adelle's wardrobe.

If only I was tall enough to pull her wardrobe off. Sigh. Some things are simply not to be. Since I won't be using it, I suppose you can have it!

I have the end in sight now. It will take more chapters/episodes than I thought, but it's firm in my head. Thank goodness!

It does make a difference to have the direction worked out, to know what you want to have happen.

This is an awsome story. Each installment has peaked my interest more and more!

Thanks. This has gone so far beyond my original vision for it that it isn't even funny. I finally think I have the whole story firmly in hand now, which was something of a struggle to fit all of the bits together in my head.

This one gave me FITS. It's gratifying to see that it worked. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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I was grateful to sneak in tiny bits of humor into the dialogue, such as Dom's effort at a password and the criterion for dumpster selection. But, in general, I work really hard on dialogue, so when that works, I've done something decently. Thanks for saying so.

I really wish you were a staff writer on the show. We would've gotten a much more fulfilling story, I'm sure of it.

What you're doing with Adelle and Dominic is pure genius. Their dialogue works well, once again. The story has great dynamics, and I'm intrigued as to what's going on around them, just as much as what's going between them. I'm so glad you decided to continue this from a one shot.

Thank you. That's very kind. I wouldn't have minded being a staff writer. It'd have been fun.

I'm fluctuating at the moment from emphasizing what's going on with them and around them. I'm glad the around them stuff works. Because it was necessary to the story.

And, as you can imagine, in my concept of a one-shot--to get them from pretending to pretending to pretend--I never envisioned this. It was only after being challenged by intrepid readers that I expanded my outlook.

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