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Return
damien listening guitar
rogoblue
Title: Return
Rating: R (violence, language and sex)
Author: rogoblue
Summary: Adelle and Dominic arrive back in Los Angeles and seek to discover the identity of the traitor in their midst.
Seventh in the Let’s Pretend series (sixth is Flight, fifth is Tactical Maneuvers, fourth is Strategic Planning, third is Parisian Complications, second is Pretending to Pretend. Link to the sixth is below this summary. You can get to the others from there. Link to this one is below the dedication.

I enjoy the exhausted version of you, Dominic.
Words: 8,300
Spoilers: Season 1 a tiny bit 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:



Laurence Dominic felt Adelle DeWitt’s eyes on him. Her smile he couldn’t interpret, so he returned his attention to the descending numbers above the elevator door.

“Do you think Ms. Grayson resented being asked to deliver Monique to UCLA?” she asked.

“No,” he said. “I think she appreciates being able to stop by her condominium to grab a shower and a change of clothes without an opinionated audience.”

“I must say, Laurence, you clean up remarkably well.”

Frowning, Dominic recalled washing up as best as he could in the small airplane bathroom and donning another of Adelle’s fresh from the runway suit selections. The only thing remotely conservative about it was the charcoal gray color. His intention to shave had met with unified feminine horror. When even the perky, exceedingly helpful stewardess, Jeanette, had voted in favor of keeping the two day beginnings of a beard, it had seemed simpler to acquiesce. Faced with stepping out into the LA Dollhouse looking like a refugee from an upscale photo shoot, Dominic wished he’d held firm.

“Will I pass inspection, do you think?” Adelle asked, spreading her hands, and turning a graceful 360 degrees. Her blood red, sleeveless dress displayed her elegant, lightly muscled arms and clung to the rest of her body in a distracting manner.

“You’ll pass,” he muttered, squaring his shoulders, taking a steadying breath. “You don’t need me to tell you that, Adelle.”

“A fact that doesn’t diminish my desire to hear it from your lips.”

“Duly noted.” Gazing sidelong at her, he said, “We need to watch initial reactions carefully. Someone might give something away.”

“Agreed,” she said, clasping his upper arm briefly as the elevator came to a halt. “Take heart, Laurence. Our luck can’t be any worse than it was in Paris.”

“I hope not,” he muttered as they stalked out of the elevator together, two predators hoping to catch the scent of dinner. Habitually, Dominic scanned the area. Topher and Ivy were conversing with Dr. Saunders outside of Topher’s office. The doctor seemed upset. Topher made placating hand gestures. Ivy watched with a slight frown. Security personnel were far more visible than normal. Makes sense to walk the floor given what happened in France. A few support people moved about below, carrying out whatever their task of the moment happened to be. Victor sat on a bench, looking up. Gauging the active’s sightline, Dominic decided he was either watching the confrontation between Saunders and Topher or Topher’s office. Romeo was doing one armed pushups and Tango sat in a lotus position, eyes closed, body relaxed.

Ivy glanced in their direction and sighed in what looked like genuine relief. Dominic smiled slightly when she halted her reach for Topher’s shoulder, wondering what she had in mind.

“I’ve warned you about the dangers of repeat engagements,” Dr. Saunders said, right foot tapping impatiently.

God, it freaks me out when she does that. Her … predecessor did it all the time.

“The engagements with Ms. Lonely Hearts are impacting Victor’s doll state,” Saunders insisted, still tapping her foot.

A hitch in Adelle’s step prompted Dominic to reach to steady her. Instincts taking over, he mimicked Ivy by aborting the movement prior to contact.

“I can’t help it if the oldster has a not so small fortune and a serious thing for her Roger,” Topher said, shrugging exaggeratedly. “DeWitt says to give her what she needs.”

“In a far superior British accent, Topher,” Adelle said. Topher’s squeak and vertical leap tested Dominic’s stoicism. Not Adelle’s apparently, as she smoothly turned to face Claire. “Is the problem correctable, Dr. Saunders?”

“Yes, but it never should have arisen in the first place,” Saunders said.

“So to speak,” Topher interjected, rubbing his hands together, nodding in agreement with himself, smiling too broadly.

“I’d be happy to have Topher forcibly removed, ma’am,” Dominic offered, spurred by Claire’s annoyance, Ivy’s rolled eyes and Adelle’s nearly imperceptible discomfort.

“See to it personally, Mr. Dominic,” Adelle murmured, aiming a small wry smile at him.

Dominic inclined his head. Topher backed up, hands splayed before him. “Hold up,” Topher said. “Wait a sec. Let me confess. I have a right to confess.”

Eyes darting to DeWitt briefly, Dominic said, “Confess what?”

Hands still in front of him, Topher stepped forward. Big puppy dog eyes aimed at Laurence, Topher nearly groaned, “I’m so glad you didn’t die in Paris. You have no clue how relieved I am. None at all.”

Say what? “I find that hard to believe, Topher,” Dominic said.

“It’s true. All true. Truer than truth uttered under oath. Truer than truth screamed under torture.” Topher nodded vigorously. “True.”

“The removal I’m planning is becoming more forcible by the second.”

Topher stepped closer. “That Hendricks guy? What is up with him? Strutting all over the place and not looking either awesome or menacing doing it. Measuring your chair for his ass. Confiscating stuff you never once batted an eye at in the name of heightened security.” Topher shuddered. “What if you’d died and we’d gotten stuck with him? Huh? What about that?” Tone becoming strident, Topher challenged, “Did you think about anyone else when you put yourself in harm’s way? Did you? Well, did you?”

“Hendricks took your toys?” Dominic asked. Topher nodded. “The trampoline, the action figures or the …” Forcing himself to focus on Topher, Dominic said, “Other … um … things.” Dominic swore he saw tears forming in Topher’s eyes.

“He cleaned me out.”

Trying to appreciate the full scope of the tragedy, Dominic asked, “Food too?”

“What do Twinkies have to do with security?” Topher demanded.

“Very little,” Dominic allowed.

“Can I have my stuff back?” Topher asked, meek tone at odds with the calculating expression. “Please, Mr. Chief of Security who is definitely not dead.”

Finally risking a glance at Adelle, Dominic scowled at her obvious amusement. “I’ll take care of it, Topher.”

The neuroscientist turned around, reached his arm behind his back as high as it would go, met Dominic’s eyes and said, “I’m ready for forcible removal.”

“Somehow, I’ve lost the taste for removal of any kind, but if you have your heart set on it, I’ll call Hendricks.”

Dominic lost count of how many times Topher said, “No,” as he turned his attention to the low, urgent conversation taking place between Adelle and Dr. Saunders.

“I’m fine, Dr. Saunders. Nary a scratch nor a hangnail.” Eyes finding Dominic, Adelle sighed. “I wish I could say the same for Mr. Dominic.”

“I’m taking the antibiotics,” Laurence said. “I’ll be fine.”

“Antibiotics do little for an injured shoulder, other than manage possible infection,” Dr. Saunders noted. “I need to see you in my office as soon as possible.”

“All right,” Dominic said, wondering what prompted Topher to bleat.

“Dominic,” Hendricks said, approaching his superior rapidly, frat boy, rush chairman smile firmly in place. “Thank Christ.”

“Ditto,” Topher muttered.

“Any problems while I was away, Hendricks?” Dominic asked, tone bored, not evincing even polite interest.

“We tightened the screws on security, Dominic.” Undoubtedly deliberately not looking at Topher, Hendricks said, “You won’t believe how lax some people are.”

“Tell me, Hendricks,” Dominic began. “How precisely do Twinkies in Topher’s desk drawer adversely impact the security of this house? Are we afraid of mice now?”

“Well, I—.”

“And the threat level of an Obi Wan Kenobi action figure is what exactly?”

“It’s not a threat so much as—.”

“Don’t do anything, and I do mean anything, in front of the rank and file unless you look awesome or menacing, preferably both. Is that clear?”

“I’m not sure what you—.”

“Obviously. I expect your report on my desk within the hour and Topher’s personal effects back in his office in fifteen.”

Hendricks deflated before their eyes. “Yes, sir,” he muttered, eyes lowered, backing up three steps before turning away.

“Don’t say I never did anything for you, Topher,” Dominic muttered, turning back to Adelle who was in close conversation with Ivy now.

“Not after the smack down of the month, L-man. Um …” Topher’s eyes narrowed and all manic went out of his expression and posture. “You ok? You look beat.”

“It was a rough trip.”

Laughter sounded from Topher’s office. Sierra and Echo spilled out onto the walkway, Sierra’s new handler, whose name escaped Laurence at the moment, muttering about treatments, Langton smiling tolerantly and following comfortably in Echo’s wake. The two women gave each other a high five and dissolved into laughter again. Sierra waved jauntily. Dominic glanced over his shoulder in time to see Victor wave back. Bizarre.

“We’ve been looking in all the wrong places, girlfriend,” Echo purred.

“What was your first clue,” Sierra muttered. “The panting pathetic lameness that was our last date. When I make a sandwich, the meat does justice to the bread.”

“Hi,” Echo said, stepping into Dominic’s personal space.

Glancing at Langton, wondering at how sanguine the handler appeared, Dominic ventured, “Hi.”

“I’m Candy,” Echo said, sliding an arm around his waist.

“Of course you are,” Dominic countered.

“Briana,” Sierra said, unbuttoning his suit jacket, smiling slyly at him. “You can call me Bri.” She wrapped her arms around his neck, stepping into full frontal contact.

I am not in the mood for this today. “You appear to be beautiful women in need of treatments,” Dominic said. Pointing to Topher, he added, “There’s your guy.”

“I have way more needs than that,” Bri/Sierra whispered. “Several involving impossibly sexy older men who wear incredible clothes.”

“Don’t forget this,” Candy/Echo said, running gentle fingers along his stubbled cheek.

“Never,” Bri/Sierra whispered. Two mouths and four hands descended on Laurence. Bri/Sierra tasted like cinnamon with a hint of red wine and anise.

Seirra’s handler dragged Dominic’s head out of Bri/Sierra’s grip. Aware of Echo behind him, doubting Topher had included hand to hand combat skills in this imprint, Dominic deflected his punch, rather than ducking it, wondering if the aggression her handler displayed was in direct proportion to his eagerness to prove he wasn’t another Hearn.

“The script, man friends,” Topher announced, surprising everyone by stepping between the new handler and Dominic. “It serves a purpose. Let’s use it.”

Obviously unimpressed with Topher speak, Bri/Sierra wrapped her entire body around Dominic this time, whispering in his ear. “Candy and I like to share.”

Thank you for that reminder. “But I like you,” Laurence replied, allowing a hint of pout to enter his tone.

A gorgeous smile lit up Bri/Sierra’s face. Before she could kiss him again, Candy/Echo pulled Bri/Sierra away and slapped her in the face. “We share or we walk,” Candy/Echo said. “That’s the deal.”

Bri/Sierra slapped Candy/Echo harder. “Screw that.”

“Catfight,” Topher muttered as the two actives went for each other. Everything was fair game—biting, hair pulling, eye gouging.

“What did you do?” Adelle whispered in Laurence’s ear as the pair of handlers and several security people tried to pull Bri/Sierra and Candy/Echo apart.

“Extricated myself,” Dominic said with a slight shrug. “I’ve had a lot of practice at that lately.”

Langton loomed over the two of them, body angled to address Adelle. “There will likely be an issue over this last engagement, Ms. DeWitt,” he said.

“Of what sort, Mr. Langton?” Adelle asked, stepping even closer to Dominic, forcing Langton to face them both.

“Topher imprinted too much smart aleck into those girls,” Langton said, attention focused entirely on Adelle. “They weren’t impressed with the client who wanted the threesome. A point they made abundantly clear which rendered the client unable.”

“Let me guess,” Dominic offered, stepping between Adelle and Langton, moving the latter back. “That allegedly never happened to him before?”

“Correct,” Langton said with the barest hint of a smile.

“Thank you for the information, Mr. Langton,” Adelle said. “I will deal with Mr. Darren should he muster the will to complain.” When Langton hesitated, Adelle said, “Do see to Echo, won’t you, Mr. Langton?”

“He’s a candidate,” Dominic said, watching Langton enter Topher’s domain.

“Mr. Langton?” Adelle said. “For what?”

“Wanting me gone.” Leaning down to be sure to speak for her ears alone, Dominic said, “Whatever happens, be careful around Langton. He seems benign and caring and all of that, but we both know what he’s done. Why he’s here. Don’t lose sight of that, Adelle, particularly if anything happens to me.”

“Nothing is going to happen to you,” she murmured, recommencing their walk of the perimeter, Laurence falling into step at her side. “I won’t permit it.”

Dominic smiled. “I appreciate the sentiment, Adelle. I do, but we both know the risks. Particularly if we take on what we’ve discussed taking on.”

“We’ll both feel better once we’ve identified the enemies at close quarters.”

“Easier said than done.”

“Perhaps.” They descended the stairs to the main floor of the Dollhouse. Possibly sensing his wariness, Adelle asked, “How does the house seem to you, Laurence?”

“Uncomfortable,” he said, ignoring the impulse to touch her, gazing at the familiar surroundings, recognizing they offered no solace. “It has the feel of a noose tightening.”

“Indeed,” Adelle said. “We’ll see what Ms. Grayson’s disclosures do for us.”

“What disclosures?”

Adelle arched an eyebrow at him. “She saw you barefoot and fresh from a shower in my hotel room. She saw you kiss me on the plane. She spoke to you about both.”

“I told Lisa to keep her mouth shut about that.”

“And I instructed her not to.”

“Why, Adelle?” Anger replaced discomfort in a heartbeat. “What game are you playing now?”

“If we know our enemies, we can neutralize them.”

“Damn it,” Dominic muttered, picking up his pace inadvertently, only to slow down once he realized Adelle wasn’t keeping up. “You spoke to Grayson about this while I was asleep. You wonder why I don’t get much rest. Could it be because you go behind my back when I do?”

“For a good cause.”

“Easy for you to say,” he muttered. “No one signed you up as red flag waving cannon fodder while you took a nap.”

“But we did agree you’d allow Dr. Saunders to examine you,” Adelle said.

“You said, ‘Later,’” Dominic said.

“It is later, Laurence.”

“Barely.” Her small smile irked him. “Assuming I do as you ask, you’re only delaying this argument.” He tugged Adelle into an alcove, out of sight from above and from most of the main floor. “Not avoiding it. And I’m not much in the mood to let you avoid it.”

“Laurence, we—.”

Thinking somewhat bitterly of Evander’s pleasure at the apparent advent of a ‘we’ between he and Adelle, Dominic said, “No, there’s no we. Not in this decision. It was you, all you, Adelle. And, uncharacteristically, your parallel plans make no sense.” Dominic glared out of the alcove at the house at large in an effort to vent some of his frustration. “You decide to throw me under the bus by having Lisa run off at the mouth about what she saw. Fine. As far as it goes, that strategy tracks. But that wasn’t enough for you. No, you want me tucked away in Dr. Saunders office, leaving a clear path to you for whoever hung our flight crew out to dry. So you can take a knife in the back or join Ambrose with a bullet to the brain while Saunders checks my stitch work.” Laurence bent down and kissed her firmly. “Both of those clever plans were hatched after you’ve spent days tempting me to have sex with you which, I have to say, sounds a hell of a lot better to me than either of the other options.”

“First,” Adelle said, gasping inadvertently as Dominic pinned her against the wall with his body. “Ms. Grayson has not yet made her disclosures. Second, I plan to take refuge in my office with the automatic weapon you chivalrously left for me, rather than wander about the House with a target painted on my forehead.” Pressing her body to his, she said, “With your third point, I couldn’t agree more.”

Glancing over his shoulder, seeing no one, Dominic said, “I’m glad we agree on something.”

“See Dr. Saunders,” Adelle whispered, smiling, “and then come upstairs.”

“Screw that,” he muttered, kissing her again, stroking the sides of her breasts, using one of his legs to spread hers.

Fists clutched in the beautiful jacket she’d purchased for him, Adelle said, “Please, Laurence. Go to Dr. Saunders.”

“Damn it, Adelle,” he snarled, tempted to force the issue by tearing her gorgeous dress. “The whole breathless, ‘Please, Laurence,’ thing isn’t fair.”

Undoubtedly anticipating victory, Adelle whispered, “I need to know you’re all right.”

“Then let me make love to you. That should prove it. I’ll need my shoulder and my hip.” Searching her eyes for agreement, Laurence said, “I call that a workable plan.”

“But Dr. Saunders is awaiting you,” Adelle said, the tiniest bit of amusement sneaking into her tone.

“So fucking what!”

“I’m concerned about her … integrity.”

All the wind went out of Dominic’s sails as the responsibility of being Chief of Security reared its ugly head. “All right, Adelle,” he sighed, stepping back. “I’ll submit to poking and prodding in an effort to determine how her imprint is holding.”

“Thank you,” she whispered, straightening his tie, smoothing the lapels of his jacket.

“Know this,” he said, glaring intently at two handlers who glanced their way as they passed the alcove, smirking when they disappeared with the alacrity of fear. “I plan to collect what’s coming to me.”

“I look forward to it,” she said.

* * *

Every square inch of his person had been examined. Every orifice probed. No medical stone left unturned. Dr. Saunders had had a reason for everything she’d done in her two hour and forty five minute examination, but Dominic wasn’t convinced. He’d been kept here for a reason and he wasn’t sure he wanted to know what it was. What can I tell Adelle about the imprint? The medical knowledge is there but something … something isn’t tracking. Dominic didn’t question the idea that popped into his mind. “Whiskey?” he said, the interrogative clear in his tone. Dr. Saunders attention snapped back to him, the notations she had been making on his chart forgotten. “Are you all right?” he asked.

“I’m the one who asks those sorts of questions, Mr. Dominic,” she said.

“For a drink?” he said, smiling but watching her and not being subtle about it.

“You weren’t asking for a drink,” she said in a flat monotone.

“No, I wasn’t.” She turned away, but Dominic grabbed her forearm. “I won’t insult you with evasions. DeWitt’s concerned about the stability of your imprint. You seem every inch the doctor but … I don’t know. Is there something else? Some problem or issue that’s troubling you? We need a doctor. If we can help, let us.”

“Topher acts like he owns me.” Dr. Saunders drove the needle of a spent syringe into a stack of files on her desk. “I don’t care if he designed the imprint, which he didn’t, or shouldn’t have, because Dr. Saunders was real. I don’t care if he thinks he made me who I am or even if he did. He doesn’t own me.”

“No, Topher doesn’t own you,” Dominic said, choosing his words with care, delivering them at a calm measured pace. “No one does. Would you like me to speak with him? Or Ms. DeWitt?” He smiled. “Or would you rather deliver the message yourself with full backing and support from upstairs?”

The smile she aimed at him recalled their former number one active. “I want to.”

“Ok, give me some time to clear it with Adelle and then you can—.”

“Adelle?”

“Yes, with Adelle,” he replied.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard you call her by her first name.”

“Oh. Bad habit I picked up in Paris, I guess.” Dominic looked at the floor for a moment, making sure Saunders noticed, playing the shy, I-don’t-want-to-talk-about-it card for all he was worth. Glancing up, he muttered, “Can I ask you a question?” To her nod, he said, “Why did you keep me here so long?”

“He asked me to.”

“Who?”

“Boyd.”

Well, that was easy. “Do you know why?” Dominic asked, hoping some more of the good luck DeWitt had predicted would flow their way. Saunders went for his throat with a scalpel. Dominic blocked the attack. Barely. She was on him again, slicing through the impeccable suit jacket Adelle had selected. A sharp chop to her wrist disarmed her and Saunders looked up at him as though he’d drowned her puppy. “I withdraw the question,” Dominic said.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“Do you want a treatment?” he asked.

“He would know.”

Something in Saunder’s eyes spoke to Dominic. “And suspect that I know?” She nodded. He took a deep breath. “Can you function?” Another nod. “Are you sure?” A third. “All right, I’ll clear you for reaming Topher a new one and determine if there’s anything to be done short of a treatment to make things better for you. Ok?” A fourth.

As Dominic turned to go, Claire whispered, “Please don’t hurt him.”

“Where Topher is concerned, I promise nothing.”

“Nor should you.” Saunders gripped Dominic’s arm lightly, just below the cut she’d made to his suit. “I meant Boyd.”

Surprised, Dominic asked, “Why not?” Her blush answered his question in an unexpected manner, making him wonder exactly what Langton’s angle was.

Nothing looked amiss when Dominic took a moment to survey the House upon leaving the examination area—other than Echo meeting his eyes across a crowded floor and nodding in a way far more sage than vacant. Adelle had asked him to report for sex after the doctor was through with him, but what had happened suggested caution. And yet. Someone, maybe Langton, maybe someone using or working with Langton, wanted him and Adelle separated. What my enemy wants can’t be good for me. Approaching the elevator to DeWitt’s office, he hesitated. Or maybe it can. I can just walk out the door and tell the NSA things were getting too hot. They’d have no choice but to accept my assessment. I’ve been here forever. Dominic shoved his card key through the reader to call the elevator. The instantaneous opening of the door made him sigh. Whenever you want a delay, you don’t get one. Dominic stepped into the elevator and took deep breaths the entire way up. It opened to reveal an interesting grouping—Adelle, of course, Langton, Sierra’s and a few other handlers, Hendricks and some more security people. Not Grayson. Dominic felt her absence to be a positive thing.

“How close to a clean bill of health did you receive, Mr. Dominic?” Adelle asked.

“I’m good to go, so long as I don’t ram my shoulder into a wall for the hell of it.” Dominic surveyed the room again. “What’s going on?”

“These fine persons want me to dismiss you.”

The only reaction Dominic couldn’t suppress was a slight widening of the eyes. “Why?”

Hendricks stepped forward. “Your behavior in France was reckless in the extreme. You endangered Ms. DeWitt and, obviously, the flight crew and our plane. There’s nothing for you to do but step down.”

Dominic faced Adelle, rather than his accusers. “If I had acted differently, brought more personnel into the loop, more would’ve died. We couldn’t have outmanned our opposition that far from home.” Posture ramrod straight, he said, “I made the call.” Eyes glued to Adelle, he said, “I’ll accept your judgment.” A brief disparaging glance over his shoulder at Hendricks later, Dominic said, “I regret what happened to the flight crew, but Stephan gave his life to alert us to the danger. That brand of loyalty is inspiring.”

“Going out in a blaze of glory isn’t what most of us want out of life,” Hendricks muttered. “How—?”

Flattened against the wall by Dominic’s forearm backed by strong legs and a well developed back, Hendricks croaked in an effort to speak. “You’ll go out with a fucking whimper,” Dominic hissed. An undignified and ineffectual tug at Dominic’s arm appeared to be Hendricks’ answer. “Stephan went out an impressive man. You won’t and for a very good reason. You aren’t an impressive man. You’re a posturing shit with little to recommend you.” Easing up a bit, Dominic surveyed the room. “All these people ostensibly watching your back, yet no one lifted a finger in your defense.” Dominic relaxed his hold still further to allow the younger man to talk.

“I—.”

Reversing the maneuver, Laurence said, “Shut your mouth unless you’re ready to tell me who put you up to this.”

“No one put me up to this, Dominic,” Hendricks said, lowering his head and his eyes. “I did what needed doing on my own.

“Please. You don’t wipe your ass unless someone tells you to, Hendricks.” At least three people snickered, which reddened Hendricks’ face considerably. “Who’s pulling your strings?”

“No one.”

“Well then,” Laurence said, smile wide and nasty. “I guess we’ll have to do this the hard way.” Releasing Hendricks, Dominic said, “Last chance. Who do I have to thank for this farce?”

“The strong arm tactics aren’t helping your case, Dominic,” Hendricks muttered. “You need to step down before she forces you to.”

Dominic drove a fist into Hendricks’ abdomen and met his descending chin with his knee. “If I did, she wouldn’t give security to you, Hendricks. Her standards exceed arrogant with a whole lot more than a touch of wimp.” Noting the lack of focus in Hendricks’ eyes and the blood dripping from his nose, Dominic prompted, “Go on. If you don’t believe me, ask her.” Smirking, curbing the impulse to kick the kneeling man for emphasis, Dominic added, “I know who she’d appoint and you’d hate it and probably ask for a transfer.” Taking a moment to ponder what he’d just said, Dominic admitted. “Maybe I should give early retirement some thought after all.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I would like a private word with Mr. Dominic.” Adelle stood. “I also want Mr. Hendricks confined somewhere moderately comfortable until I send for him. He is to be decently treated but permitted to communicate with no one other than … you.” Adelle pointed to an older, dark haired man standing at the edge of the group from security. “And you are?”

“Higgins, ma’am.”

“Don’t fail me, Mr. Higgins.”

“No, ma’am.”

It took every ounce of control and stoicism in Dominic’s being not to respond to the myriad arguments put forth against Adelle’s planned course of action. Adelle wasn’t swayed. Soon the room had emptied except for the two of them. “It’s Langton,” Dominic said. “He’s messed with Whiskey.”

“He was also the impetus behind this not so bloody coup attempt,” Adelle said. “He never spoke, but the others looked to him. Not obviously, but often enough to suggest the leadership role for him. I want to consider this, Laurence. We can expose Langton for who he is, if doing so will serve our interests. Otherwise, we’ll use him.”

“Fine,” Dominic muttered, thoughts flying in a thousand different directions.

“But first,” Adelle murmured, sitting on her couch, patting the spot next to her. “You will divulge your secrets.” Smiling up at him in a way that forced him to swallow hard, she said, “And thereafter … we shall see about releasing any tension hindering you from proper focus on … convincing Mr. Hendricks to divulge his.”

“Adelle, we don’t have time for this,” Dominic protested, refusing her invitation to sit.

“I beg to differ.” Smiling, he assumed at his obvious disagreement, she said, “We cannot act quickly. Langton, whatever his aims, is popular among his peers.” Adelle sighed. “Do sit down, Laurence. We’ll deal with Langton as soon as is reasonably practicable.”

Dominic refused to be swayed by her naming the standard he had in Paris. “Even if I agreed we should ignore Langton for now, I spent almost three hours with Saunders.” Taking the seat indicated, Dominic added, “Time I could’ve used to update my intelligence program or read the reports on what went on here while we were gone. This doesn’t strike me as the time to discuss my sex life.”

“I wish to know all of your secrets, Laurence¸ whatever they may be.”

“Fine,” he muttered. “But this is also time that could be better spent.”

“You are, of course, entitled to your opinion.” Adelle placed a hand gently on his injured shoulder. “Tell me how Giselle talked you into three more days in Barcelona.”

A sharp visual image of the gorgeous Spaniard appeared in Dominic’s head. The sated, “I’ve just been satisfied,” smile fading into the, “I want more,” look. “Adelle, I really don’t think this is—.”

“Don’t think, Laurence. Answer the question.”

“All right,” he muttered, wondering if he had a prayer of confining this discussion to Giselle. “The morning of my last day, Giselle woke up before I did and set the stage for phenomenal pre-breakfast sex.” Dominic looked at Adelle, pegging her expression as a combination of amusement, interest and some negative emotion that defied labeling. “Giselle teased the hell out of me for the rest of the day. We spent it at the beach. She was wearing very little and nothing was off limits other than an orgasm for me. By the time we finished dinner, I was willing to do just about anything to get off. Mostly because I was having fun, something I hadn’t done in forever. I talked her down from a week to three days.” He shrugged, trying for dismissive. “That’s all there was to it.”

“When was the last time you had fun before Giselle?” Adelle asked.

Dominic looked away quickly enough to conceal his reaction. He hoped. “Adelle, there’s no point to this,” he said.

“I sincerely hope we don’t have to peer all the way back to the ex-wife.”

“No,” Dominic said before thinking things through, although he did acknowledge the irrelevance of his lack of caution. His ego would’ve balked at letting Adelle think Kara had been the only significant woman in his life.

“Who then?” she asked.

The question hung in the air between them for a very long time. “I should probably tell you about my ex.”

“If you like,” Adelle murmured, attentive expression drawing Dominic out.

“And my father.”

“Your ex wife and your father?”

The horror on Adelle’s face made him laugh. “No, no, no. They never met, Adelle. My father died when I was eighteen.”

“I sense it’s inappropriate to say I’m relieved your father died when you were a very young man, but that scenario is vastly less traumatic in many ways than the one I imagined.”

“I think you’re right.” He sighed and stared at his hands. “Particularly given how things turned out.”

“Would starting with your father be easier?”

“He was rarely home,” Dominic said, shifting uncomfortably on the couch, stilling when Adelle rested a hand on his thigh. “He worked for the government. Whenever anyone asked him what he did, he said he solved problems. He leaned on me to go to one of the military academies, like he did. I said, ‘No,’ to my mom’s relief. Then he tried to get me to join the military outright. To pacify him, I took the pilot’s exam and smoked it. He was so proud, it was really hard for me to tell him I’d been accepted to Boston College and intended to go.” Staring straight ahead, he put his hand on top of Adelle’s. “When he died, a bunch of people we’d never met turned up to help my mom. Some of them talked to me about my future. No one seemed particularly impressed that I wanted to be a doctor. They seemed to think I should ‘solve problems’ like the dearly departed. I didn’t know what that meant and I didn’t care. My future was set. I did well undergrad and got accepted into the School of Medicine. Late in my first year, I met Kara. I didn’t go back for my second. Instead, I looked up one of the guys I’d met at my dad’s funeral and told him I needed a job. I got one and the rest, as they say, is history.”

“A man with a wife and a small child isn’t the normal profile for an operative such as you’ve described yourself to be.”

“No, it isn’t.” Realizing he was gripping her hand with bruising force, Dominic released it. “It was hard to be away from them. It was even harder to be home, especially right after an operation. I … I couldn’t … connect. Interact in a normal way. Everything I did was calculated and I looked for the same in return. What’s the angle of a two year old who’s incessantly repeating, “Daddy?” What’s she really saying? What’s that actually mean? What does she fucking want? The obvious answers didn’t register for me. A hug. To be held. A piggy back ride. Pushed on the swing. A smile. A wave. As the days passed, I relaxed, let my guard down and relearned how to play. Just in time to get called back into service. If I let myself think about it, I could see the toll the cycle was taking on all of us. So I didn’t. Think, I mean.”

“Is this why you divorced?” Adelle asked, tone soft, nearly soothing, when Laurence fell silent. “This problem of emotional distance.”

“Nothing that simple, Adelle.” He closed his eyes. “God, I wish it had been.” Her lips on his startled Dominic’s eyes open. “Do we really have to do this?”

“I suspect you might need to.”

“You sound like my shrink.”

Eyes widening slightly, she asked, “You’re seeing someone?”

“No. I meant from before.”

“Please talk to me, Laurence,” she whispered.

Her voice wended its way past his defenses. “Stop playing the please card, Adelle.” Facing with her calm expectation, Dominic said, “At one level, the story is a cliché. I came home from an op and found her in our bed with her boss. The conversation we had afterward was anything but clichéd.” He pleaded with his eyes for permission to stop. He received a firm, compelling kiss in reply. “She told me she didn’t sleep with him because she wanted him. She did it so I’d come home to the scene the shrinks wanted me to see. It was nothing personal, but it was time for her to move on to another assignment. She had another reluctant operative to recruit and indoctrinate to the life. She’d be taking Alex with her, because her new assignment loved kids.” Dominic took a deep breath. “To this day, I have no idea whether Kara told me because they told her to or because she thought I should know or because she felt sorry for me or some other damn thing. I don’t know if there was ever anything real in what we had other than Alex.” Sensing Adelle’s increased tension, he said, “I don’t doubt she’s mine. She looks too much like me and her temperament is very similar.” Forcing himself to meet Adelle’s eyes, Laurence said, “So they had their weapon locked and loaded. The process was no where near as efficient as Topher’s, but it was effective. I was angry and they gave me people to take it out on. My operations shifted from sabotage and theft to murder and mayhem and I didn’t bat an eye. As long as I got to hurt someone, I was fine with whatever. Until the time I wasn’t.”

“I am so sorry,” Adelle said.

“Why?” he asked. “It’s way in the past. I’ve made my peace with it. More or less.”

“Rage of that nature doesn’t just go away. Nor does that sort of pain.”

“I was messed up for a while.” Suddenly needing to touch her, Dominic stroked Adelle’s bare shoulder. “Sex wasn’t a problem. If I wanted it, I went out and got it. Again, I couldn’t connect, but I didn’t want to, so it was kind of ok.” His fingers strayed to her throat. “Once I got out of the military, it got easier because a decent private security position demands horrendous hours. Between work and working out, I didn’t have much spare time.”

“When did things change?” Adelle asked.

“During the job before this one,” he said. “I ran Paul Baxter’s security group.”

“Paul recommended you highly.”

Dominic smiled, muttering, “I’ll bet.”

“What does that mean?”

“Baxter wanted a security guy he could beat at golf or basketball or cards.”

Clearly intrigued, Adelle said, “Paul Baxter competes with his staff?”

“At everything,” Dominic said. “He desperately wants to be one of the guys.”

“Are you trying to tell me the person who reintroduced you to fun was a billionaire?”

“Huh?” Dominic said, quizzical expression dissolving into laughter when he caught Adelle’s drift. “No, Adelle. But he did introduce me to his daughter, Gretchen, when she came home after her junior year at Wellesley. Gretchen immediately reconnected with her less conservative LA crowd, which meant a lot of spoiled young people were pretty much constantly underfoot.”

“Including a beautiful young woman named …?”

“Casey.”

“You must describe a woman who puts that expression on your face.”

“What expression?” he demanded, surprised when Adelle laughed.

“The one you jettisoned for wariness,” she said. “It was somewhat … wistful.”

“She was too young, too upbeat, too sure of herself, too wealthy, much too blonde. Casey was more of a force of nature than a person sometimes. She flirted with everyone who breathed without a respirator.” He chuckled. “That’s what I told a guy who worked for me when he was bitching about her taste in men. He asked me what was wrong with my eyes, because it was starkly apparent to everyone else Casey was after me.” Laughing now, he muttered, “I said something like, ‘You’re so seriously full of shit,’ but I started paying more attention.” Shrugging, Dominic admitted, “He was right. Casey had focused her flirting on me. I didn’t know what to do with that.”

“Give her what she wanted?” Adelle ventured.

“I wasn’t what she wanted,” he snarled. “The man I really was. The things I’d done. Casey wasn’t ready for me.”

“And yet …?”

“This is embarrassing,” he said, eyes drawn to the exit points from her office. “I found out I wasn’t ready for her either.” He buried his face in his hands. His fatigue finally coming home to roost. “She was so young; I didn’t really take her seriously. Hell, I was Casey’s age the last time I’d been with anyone that young.”

“Youth isn’t generally viewed as a negative quality.”

“Maybe not generally, but it was to me. Her money was an issue too. She didn’t flaunt it as much as some of them did, but she had it in spades and she controlled it. No trust fund for Casey. She played the stock market like a pro.” He smiled. “I did pretty well following her advice.”

“How did Casey break through the walls you erected on the basis of her youth and wealth?” Adelle asked.

“There were a lot more walls than that,” he muttered, tired bloodshot eyes darting more randomly around the room now. No doubt allowing intuition to guide her, Adelle waited him out. “I was walking the grounds after dark with a new guy, showing him the features of the security system. A group of mostly women was in the hot tub. We passed, I don’t know, within 50 feet or so. The new guy, Jeff I think it was, stopped and swore. I turned to see what the problem was. Casey had climbed out of the hot tub, grabbed a towel and was heading our way.”

“Naked?”

“Yeah.” Dominic tried not to recall how his heart had almost stopped and how, for the first time, he’d had an impulse to run when confronted with a woman. “Since you can probably guess how things went, I’ll get back to work.”

“Not a chance, Laurence. Continue.”

* * *

Over Four Years Ago

“A little help,” Casey said, smiling up at Dominic, ignoring Jeff entirely, undoubtedly aware of the moonlight illuminating her firm body.

“I’m working, Casey,” Dominic muttered, gesturing vaguely in Jeff’s direction.

“You’re always working,” she said, but there was no reproach in her tone. “Please, Laurence.” She offered the towel to him. “I’m starting to get cold.”

“I’ll check on camera 10,” Jeff said, moving away.

Dominic heard the snicker but didn’t acknowledge it. “You have to stop doing this, Casey,” he said, wrapping the towel around her, rubbing her towel covered back with one hand. “You’re going to get me fired.”

“No, I’m not,” she said. “Mr. Baxter thinks the world of you.” Grinning, Casey added, “He’s always had a soft spot for me too.” Pitching her voice lower, she said, “What do you mean I have to stop doing this? I’ve never asked you to help me towel off before.”

“This is a version on the theme and you know it.”

“What do you have against flirting?” she demanded, hands on her hips forcing the towel to part slightly.

“Nothing. It’s just …” Recognizing the grave tactical error before he made it, Laurence fell silent.

“It’s just what? Me? You have a problem with flirting with me? Is that it?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“No, but you almost did.” Stepping very close, Casey asked, “Why?”

Dominic retreated a step. “Because you’re you and I’m me and this makes no sense.”

“What’s wrong with me?”

He couldn’t help it. His eyes raked over her body. “Nothing,” he admitted.

“Nothing with my body, fine. That’s something.” Casey dried her legs, artfully exposing her upper body, when she asked, “What is it about me you don’t like?”

“Your age.”

“I’m nearly twenty one.”

“I know.”

“I’m not a child,” she announced, tone firm, implacable. “I run my own business. I make and invest my own money. I think I’m not bragging or exaggerating when I say I’m mature for my age.”

“You’re not.”

“And you’re not sixty, Laurence. You’re what thirty-one? Thirty-three? Somewhere in that ballpark.”

A smile tugged at his lips. “I’m also very mature for my age.”

Laughing, Casey hugged him briefly. “I don’t believe you have the mentality or anything else of a sixty year old, but that was a nice try. Creative. I like that in a man.” Casey kissed him lightly on the lips. “I like you. Deal.”

Dominic watched her strut back to the hot tub. He tried with moderate success to forget the feel of her body against his when she hugged him. How she tasted, of clove cigarettes and vodka, stayed with him as he caught up with Jeff. Nearly on automatic pilot, Dominic concluded the tour of the grounds. Only in the privacy of his office and his own mind did he admit his relief not to have encountered Casey again. Catching up on his paperwork took over two hours. Vowing never to let it pile up this badly again, stretching cramped muscles, Dominic stifled a yawn and dug his car keys out of his desk drawer. Waving to Sam, the guy in charge of the graveyard shift, he left the security building of the Baxter compound and headed to the small parking lot behind.

Casey sat on the hood of his car. “How long have you been there?” Dominic asked.

“A while,” she said, looking impossibly good in a black tank top and shorts. “I said my goodbyes to Jeff, Dan, Kim and that bitch Melanie when they left.”

Stalking me in full view of my people. Excellent. “That bitch Melanie?”

“She tells me to keep my paws off of you,” Casey said, holding up her hands. “She actually calls them paws. It’s insulting.”

“I’ll speak to her,” Dominic said.

“No need,” Casey said, catching his hand in hers, drawing Dominic a couple of steps forward. “I can handle Melanie.”

“Casey, I need to get home. I’m tired and Baxter’s traveling tomorrow.”

“He’s going to D.C. for the Senate hearing?” Casey asked.

“Yeah.”

“You too?” He nodded. “Fuck,” she whispered. “What the hell am I going to do?”

Interested despite himself, Dominic asked, “Do?”

Staring into his eyes, Casey wrapped her legs around his waist. “Do you want me to beg? Is that your deal?”

“What?”

Her smile speculative, Casey slid her arms around Dominic’s neck. “Please make love to me tonight, so I don’t have to sleep with Jason or Ty to take the edge off while you’re gone.” Kissing him on the cheek, Casey’s mouth glided to his ear. “Any way you want me. Any where you’ve thought about having me.”

“We’ve talked about this, Casey.”

“Look me in the eye and tell me you don’t want me, Laurence.” Casey ran her fingers along his chest to his abdomen, stroking lightly. “Do that and I’ll leave you alone. I promise.” She toyed with his belt buckle. Laurence tried to back up, but her legs kept him more or less in place. “We’d be good together,” Casey whispered, smiling as her hand meandered lower. “I feel it. I do feel it.”

“Stop,” Dominic murmured, losing his battle against the relentless stimulation. “Christ, Casey, stop.”

She did. Returning her hand to link with the other around his neck, Casey said, “Kiss me, Laurence.”

“No.”

“One kiss. I’m practically shaking with want and you won’t even give me a kiss.”

“We won’t stop there,” Dominic whispered, eyes closing as Casey rocked her lower body against his. “We won’t fucking stop at all.”

“Kiss me,” she said. He did and they didn’t stop.

* * *

Now

“On the hood of your car, Laurence?”

Adelle’s amusement stung but Dominic didn’t care, because he’d heard a smattering of something sounding exactly like jealousy in her words.

“The first time, yes. Hell, I don’t think there’s anywhere in that compound we didn’t have sex when all was said and done.”

“I see.”

Her clipped tone drew a small smile. “I fell for her, Adelle. I fell hopelessly, stupidly, crazy in love with Casey. All she had to do was smile and I was gone. I couldn’t think when she was around. If I looked into her eyes, she had me and she knew it and I liked it.” He laughed. “I was completely out of control for the first time in my life and I never realized how much time I had to fill in my day at Baxter’s until I had someone to be with while doing it.”

“What happened then?”

“We got to know each other. Had a lot of sex. Eight months or so later—Gretchen had taken a year off from Wellesley, I started to wander into jewelry stores. Not looking for anything in particular.”

“Of course not.”

“And I think those bridal magazines were a friend of Casey’s.”

“Obviously.”

“Then I heard about this job opening and thought it might be better for me to get some distance while I was working.” Shaking his head, Dominic said, “Shortly after I started here, I realized what I’d gotten myself into and I knew I couldn’t expose Casey to it. So … I let her down hard, because she wouldn’t have accepted being let down easy and hated myself for it for a while. And that’s it, Adelle. That’s all. That’s really all. Can we talk about something else now or not talk at all?”

Silence fell for several minutes. Adelle broke it. “We should walk through the house again and see if Ms. Grayson’s disclosures have had any impact.” Adelle stood and looked down at Dominic with an odd expression. “That will allow me time to consider all you’ve told me.”

“I would’ve been happy to tell you less,” he murmured, rising to his feet. “You’re the one who kept asking questions.”

“Be that as it may, Laurence,” Adelle said, standing aside for him to call the elevator with his card key. “You have given me much to contemplate.”

“Observe while you ponder, Adelle,” he suggested as they stepped into the elevator. “We have to determine the scope of this thing. How far beyond Langton does it go?”

“If anywhere,” Adelle said.

Dominic silently went over the list of people who were in Adelle’s office when Hendricks made his pitch. Adelle’s hand slipping into his garnered his immediate and full attention.

“Would you have married Casey if you hadn’t taken a position here?” she asked.

“We were certainly heading that way.” He laughed. “I wouldn’t have had to work. That would’ve been weird.”

“Do you regret your decision, Laurence?”

“No.” Adelle’s raised eyebrow of much skepticism made him chuckle. “On really bad days, maybe a little.”

“Does this day qualify?”

“No.” Dominic couldn’t decide whether Adelle believed him, but tabled the inquiry to concentrate on their surroundings as they began their tour of the house on the upper floor. A sharp tapping sound to their left drew Dominic’s eye. Topher gestured for them to come into his office. “What’s the problem?” Dominic demanded.

“I found this in the chair.” Topher placed a small device in Dominic’s hand.

“What is it?” Adelle asked.

“It’s NSA tech,” Dominic muttered, reaching for his phone. “Grayson,” he said, “you’ll have to take a break from gossiping about me. I want this place locked down tight with only my key operational. No one leaves. No cell phones. No landlines. No Internet access. Recall the actives currently conducting engagements to the extent possible.” Turning to Adelle, he said, “I have to go upstairs and secure your office. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Making for the elevator, Dominic’s thoughts whirled. I didn’t put tech in the chair. Who did? And why? And why did the damn thing have to come to light now?


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Terrified and excited is certainly edifying! Thanks! I was dragging my feet about posting this b/c of how it ended, wondering if there was such a thing as cyber-lynching and how it might feel to be a victim of same.

I'm going to have to change my timeframe next time b/c this isn't between episodes 1.06 and 1.09 anymore. We have arrived at the 'We must deal with the tech in the chair now' point.

I'm always leery about writing Dr. Saunders. I find her difficult, but I need Dominic to be somewhere while those allied against him pitched Adelle the 'You should fire him' speech. And I wanted to slip in the "Whiskey?" as a question that we saw later from Dominic/Victor in whatever that creepy episode was when they downloaded Dominic into Victor.

I'm trying to fit some of the stuff with Boyd in this. I think it's working ok. Glad you liked that bit.

I have sort of a soft spot for Topher in this. "Truer than truth screamed under torture." I find that odd, but it is what it is.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

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How dare he take away toys and Twinkies w/o looking either menacing or awesome? There are some things that are simply not done. A person would have to be made of stone not to be sympathetic.

I love this installment! But you've got me jealous on Adelle's behalf! Wonderfully done, though

Thank you for the kind words and taking the time to type them, as always.

Jealous on Adelle's behalf is nice (from a writer's perspective, I mean). I'm not sure what Adelle expected exactly, but I know it wasn't what she heard. And I really thought she'd have to take some time to consider what he'd said, because of the unexpected nature of it and to consider potential implications on the current state of affairs (pun intended), if any.

This was the cyber-lynching part you were concerned about???? Rogo my friend you had absolutely nothing to worry about. This chapter was awesomeness!!!!!!!

First, I like how they've made it full circle back to the house. Not that I didn't love the adventure, but you made a really mature decision from a writer's perspective to keep the focus on the story at hand, rather than throwing them into merry adventures forever.

I can see why Dom is hard to write when he's tired. You can never tell how much is too much or too little. The jury's still out on his latest exposition, but taking his exhaustion and injury into account it sounds believable.

I agree with Ladyvivien, I too am offended on Adelle's behalf. Ha, she may have bit off more than she can chew, but we all know that she likes a challenge.

The confrontation in Adelle’s office was serious and hilarious at the same time. Like, you just got back from nearly being assassinated/seduced, just to face a conclave of some of your people in a coup against you. Poor Dom, no wonder why he was always pissed off, he probably saw this coming.

I’m a bit worried because Dom blurted out a rather telling line at the end, “it’s NSA tech,” uh, oh. Topher just handed him the chip and he was pretty quick to figure out who it belonged to. I bet Adelle’s thinking, “How exactly do you know that?” I can’t wait to see how she handles the whole NSA agent bit.

I love the route you’re taking in regards to the “mole/NSA agent/Boyd’s the big bad” plotlines. Putting Boyd in the midst of suspicion now is very interesting.

Also, this following bit was a fascinating peek into more of Adelle’s past history:

“...As long as I got to hurt someone, I was fine with whatever. Until the time I wasn’t.”

“I am so sorry,” Adelle said.

“Why?” he asked. “It’s way in the past. I’ve made my peace with it. More or less.”

“Rage of that nature doesn’t just go away. Nor does that sort of pain.”

I want to understand what sort or rage and pain she’s got tucked away.

PS: Love the Jeffery in here. And Casey sure did remind me of someone else ;) I've finished reading the current part. A review will be coming your way soon.


Sorry I forgot to sign in when I left that review.

And I forgot to thank you for adding some sexy stubble to our favorite head of security. I'm not a fan of facial hair, but it's gorgeous on Dom.

The thought of TheAtticDominic in a really nice suit was too good to pass up!

I was concerned b/c of where I left it--on the cusp of Spy in the House of Love. The story could end here, really, but it doesn't.

They had to go home, I think. For things to meaningfully progress at this point.

I was pleased with how Dominic came across in this one. He's tired and he's concerned about so many things that his physical injuries barely register, I think.

Adelle has her work cut out for her but she has seemed undaunted and intrepid thus far in her pursuit of this particular man. I don't see a big change in that coming. Unless, of course, the unthinkable happens.

I think the scene in Adelle's office did Dominic a world of good--he got to let off some steam and hurl some sarcasm at someone who deserved it.

Dominic's been in the security business and black ops military, he knows what NSA tech is. He's paid to. I'd read nothing at all into that.

I'm trying to do something useful with Boyd. Remains to be seen if I'll succeed. Just gums up the works now. So that's fun.

I'm sure Adelle has her share of emotional traumas. Or has caused them in others and watched the aftermath?

Casey and Miranda share attributes, certainly, but they are completely different people. Certainly similar taste in men. I didn't even remember I had a Jeff in here. Had to laugh. Casey treats him in just the appropriate manner.

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!



I love the way they arrived - all on the prowl and dangerous. And hmm - I think Dominic demanding sex is a nice turn around - even when he was annoyed with Adelle and trying to avoid going to see the Doctor. I love the coup attempt and the way she figured out the instigator - I'm interested to see how things are going to progress now, especially since we are in Spy territory, only not. The theme of that episode was 'trust' so I suppose the question is, how much do they trust each other now after everything they've shared?

Yes, they arrived armed for bear so to speak. I think that was the only option after all that had gone on in Europe and what their suspicions were.

I think the demanding sex thing was partly (as you suggest)the product of annoyance at being set up, doctor avoidance and increasing stress. I'm thinking he needs to relieve some pressure somehow (and fortunately he got to do a little of that during the coup attempt). As to your comment on the coup attempt, Adelle is nothing if not observant.

We are in Spy territory, but Adelle is present and Dominic knows about Roger and they have a common enemy and have just been through some very tense times in Europe. So, yes and no. We are at the Spy moment when the tech in the chair will be dealt with somehow.

Trust is certainly thematic. And Dominic is certainly in the "we're at we if it isn't inconvenient for you" space vis a vis Adelle. It's harder to say exactly where she is on that issue currently.

Thanks for sticking with me. I thought I'd said all I had to say about Spy when I wrote The Unabridged Laurence Dominic, but I found that I hadn't dealt with everything that bothered me when I wrote the next bit.

I really enjoyed The Unabridged LD - the way we got to see how good at his job he really was and the way he confessed that he would probably have told Adelle about the spy thing... but I sort of wished for more Adelle. I am enjoying getting my wish this time around.

The earlier story was my catharsis where I mourned on paper what I believed was the loss of my favorite character--so it was very Dominic-centric. This time, not so much. Not nearly.

I was thinking about themes in Spy and I keep coming back to deception. Actual deception vis a vis Dominic being the spy. And self deception vis a vis Victor/Roger. And which is worse (or is one of them worse). Or does the fact of one (the self decption) make the fact of the other (actual deception) more difficult to bear. I've always been of the opinion that Adelle could've (and should've) used Dominic the NSA agent toward her own ends rather than sending him to the Attic. My 2 cents.

I think she should have done as well - but the reason that she doesn't is because of the other theme of the episode, which is trust.
She trusted him, he betrayed that trust - which is what she is responding to when she sends him to the attic, she isn't thinking that he might be useful later.
What makes your current series so compelling is the question of whether what they know about each other now, the whole new level of trust they have reached, transcend the discovery? Does that trust plus the bigger threat change his fate - or at least the way his fate is determined?

Now I'm really really really curious what you will think of what happens next and ... ultimately.

I'm typing madly trying to get the next bit ready (and, to give proper credit, something you mentioned above gave me what I needed to fill out a scene that just wasn't working. So ... thanks!

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