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A Tortured Path
damien listening guitar
rogoblue
Number 16 in the Let's Pretend Series

Title: A Tortured Path
Rating: R (violence, language and sex)
Author: rogoblue
Summary: The case against Rossum must continue to be built but Dominic’s injuries prove to be an impediment in more ways than one.
Sixteenth in the Let’s Pretend series (fifteenth is Roger Number 3, fourteenth is The Domster Projects, thirteenth is Arizona, twelfth is Thief, Saboteur, Assassin, eleventh is The Harding Factor, tenth is Powder Keg, ninth is Cutting it Close, eighth is NSA, seventh is Return, sixth is Flight, fifth is Tactical Maneuvers, fourth is Strategic Planning, third is Parisian Complications, second is Pretending to Pretend. Link to the fifteenth is below this summary. You can get to the others from there or via my live journal. Link to this one is below the dedication.

Dom’s in the hospital in Vermont

Words: 7,700
Spoilers: Season 1 a tiny bit and 2 a little bit through episode 12.
Disclaimers: The toys are Joss Whedon’s. The idea is mine.
Dedication: To ladyvivian who is going through a rough patch at the moment. This isn’t exactly a mood lightening bit, but it’s what I have.



Adelle Dewitt and Laurence Dominic moved through the LA Dollhouse, but not quite in their trademark fashion. Dominic obviously suffered from the beating he took at the hands of Roger Cormorant—an imprint of someone of extremely high rank within Rossum Corporation, perhaps even of Rossum himself. Resolute, Adelle turned into Topher’s domain with Dominic a step and a half behind.

“Ivy, we have guests,” Topher called. Looking from DeWitt to Dominic, he said, “Weren’t the mice supposed to be allowed to play until Friday morning?”

“Events dictated a change in plan, Topher,” Adelle said. She turned to Ivy. “Call downstairs and have Victor’s handler bring him up, please.”

“Who is the VicMeister going to be today?” Topher glanced nervously around. “Don’t tell me Roger the Suave again. Saunders will have my ass for dinner.”

“You’re going to do better than that, Topher,” Adelle said. “Mr. Dominic was injured in Chicago. We need Victor to take his place to execute the next phase of our plan.”

Blinking as though waking, Dominic said, “I said I’ll do it.”

Mentally preparing for whatever form this battle took, Adelle stated, “And I have said you won’t.”

Dominic clenched his fists. Looking down, he reversed the process with seemingly far greater effort. “Topher’s thief, saboteur, assassin imprint won’t be enough.”

“I know.”

Crossing his arms in front of him, Dominic said, “The only time I’m getting back in that chair is to have the stuff Topher shoved in my head removed.”

“I’m sorry, Laurence, but that simply is not the case. Adelle took a deep settling breath. “You will allow Topher to make a complete copy of Laurence Dominic onto a wedge from which he will imprint Victor.”

“We’re wasting time with this,” Dominic snarled. “I can—.”

“You can’t even keep up with me walking down a corridor.” Adelle met angry blue eyes
calmly. “Mr. Fitzpatrick wants you in hospital.”

Scowl firmly in place, Dominic said, “Chase is an alarmist.”

“He didn’t strike me as such,” Adelle said. “But Mr. Fitzpatrick’s nature is beside the point. I want you in hospital. We need you for the end game and, as a consequence, cannot risk the folly of you undertaking a solo mission in your condition.”

“What are you doing, Topher?” Dominic asked, eyeing the neuroscientist’s busily typing fingers with suspicion.

“Getting ready to make like Xerox on your failed anger management training self.”

Eyes darting around the room as though he was looking for an ally or, failing that, something to strike or hurl, Dominic virtually hummed with anger. Gaze coming to rest on Topher once again, he said, “I said, ‘No.’” Dominic whirled when Adelle lightly grasped his bicep. “I gave you my answer on the plane, Adelle.”

“I’m not asking, Laurence.” The gamut of emotions flying across his face saddened Adelle, but she kept her countenance impassive.

“You … you’re going to order me to do this?” he murmured.

“I am.”

“After everything?” he said, nearly inaudibly. When she nodded, he laughed. Adelle had never heard a sound as bitter. “I should’ve seen this coming,” he muttered. “Hell, it was practically preordained.”

The damage is done. Best to make a brisk end. Adelle said, “You will allow Topher to make his copy. You will go to those doctors at the UCLA Medical Center Mr. Fitzpatrick specified. You will follow their instructions to the letter. When you have been discharged, you will return and resume your role in our ongoing effort.”

Staring out of the glass panel into the House, obviously struggling with his emotions, Dominic said, “If you force me to do this, I won’t be back.”

Knowing the words were true somehow made them more difficult to say. “Yes, you will, Laurence.”

“You think?”

“You’re a professional,” Adelle said. “You’re in the middle of an important operation. You’ll see it through.”

“So we’re back to that,” he said, voice tight, strained. Adelle feared for his blood pressure. “We proceed as agreed until I don’t,” Laurence muttered. “Then we do what you want.”

“In this case, yes.”

“Do you remember what Chase said to me when he thought I told you everything about Alexis, Adelle?”

I hate you right now, Dom. “Yes,” Adelle admitted. Before her eyes, Laurence closed down. Raw emotion dissolved into cold, yet somehow frighteningly calm fury. “So be it,” she said. A flash of pain seared across his face, almost too quickly for Adelle to see it. Almost.

Without another word or glance in her direction, Laurence Dominic lowered himself into the chair.

* * *

One Week Later

It was necessary, damn you, Laurence. Anyone could see you couldn’t accomplish the tasks your intelligence program set out for you, because of the beating you had taken. The thrashing you endured to stall for time and keep me safe. Adelle DeWitt sipped vodka and looked out at the Los Angeles skyline. Almost a week to the minute had passed since Laurence Dominic had walked out of the House. The copying process had been much more benign than the imprint, leaving Laurence with only a slight headache. Adelle knew this because Dominic had answered questions Ivy posed. He hadn’t looked in Adelle’s direction unless absolutely necessary, answered her questions monosyllabically and acknowledged her orders with curt nods. Adelle jumped when her phone rang, narrowly avoiding spilling her drink.

When it hadn’t been answered by the third ring, Adelle decided Judith had, as Adelle had insisted, finally left for the day. “Adelle DeWitt.”

“Ms. DeWitt, this is Dr. Marten from UCLA.”

“Good evening, doctor,” she said.

“I’m sorry to call so late, but it’s been one of those days,” he said.

“We all have them.” Her polite tone masked her impatience. The ever tightening grip on the receiver gave it away.

“Mr. Dominic is doing well, but I’d like to keep him another day or two to be sure we’ve fully addressed all of the internal bleeding.”

“How … how does he seem?”

“Bored,” Dr. Marten said.

A bored Laurence Dominic is a dangerous man.

“One of the nurses brought in a Wii for him. I think it’s helped by giving him something physical to do that won’t cause further injury.”

Adelle smiled at the thought, contemplating how Laurence had reacted to the gesture, wondering what exactly had prompted it. “Your staff is providing games?” she ventured.

“Janice told me she did it to make enforcement of a home based Wii ban simpler.”

“I see.” Sipping her drink, refusing to ponder other possibilities, Adelle asked, “When can we expect him?”

“First thing Monday morning.”

“Good. Thank you, doctor.” Adelle hung up the telephone. If Laurence is restless and bored, he’s going to be on edge when he returns. He’ll be looking for a target for his wrath. Shall I present myself as such or accept that I have, once again, made a decision to place the security of this House and the technology upon which it is based above my personal interests?

* * *

Nearly Two Days Later

Laurence Dominic leaned against the pillows of his hospital bed, watching an LA Kings hockey game with the sound off. He’d never cared for the local broadcast announcers. It sucks to admit that this Saturday night beats a lot of them in the past. A soft knock on the door drew his eyes to the clock on the wall. It’s not time for my meds and I’ve already had what passes for dinner here. “Come in,” he called.

“Hi,” said his visitor.

Dominic was glad he was centered properly on the bed, so there was no risk of falling out in shock. “Casey,” he said, sitting up a little straighter, cursing the ridiculousness of hospital gowns for the ten thousandth time. “What are you doing here? How’d you know I was here?”

“My spies are everywhere, Laurence,” she said, smiling, crossing the room to sit on the edge of his bed. “Only not very efficient. I hear you’ve been out of commission for nine days.”

“They’re cutting me loose Monday morning, or so they say,” he muttered, trying not to notice how good Casey looked in a lavender silk tank top and tight black crop pants. He smiled at the lavender nail polish on her fingernails and the black on her toes, displayed by the no doubt fashionable sandals. Some things never change.

“What happened?” she asked.

He shrugged. “Nothing much.”

She aimed a stern expression at him. “You, Laurence Dominic, Mr. I’ll Work Suffering Pneumonia, a Broken Leg and Food Poisoning at the Same Time, have been in the hospital for over a week. Spill.”

“This wasn’t my idea,” he grumbled.

“I don’t care if you were dragged here by rabid cannibals.” Casey smiled when he did. “They don’t keep someone in the hospital for this long if they can cut them loose without too much of a malpractice risk. So,” she said, taking his hand, “what happened?”

“I got the shit kicked out of me, ok?”

Casey let the silence stretch out between them. “Should I have a look at the other guy?” she finally asked.

“He’s dead.” Under his breath, Dominic mumbled, “Again.”

“So who are you angry at?” Dominic looked away, but obviously not before his face gave something away. “Adelle,” she said, not a hint of an interrogative in her tone. “The woman I saw you get very cozy with at the restaurant.”

“She’s also my boss.”

“Ah.” Dominic looked over at Casey, asking for clarification of her knowing syllable with his eyes. “She ordered you into the hospital for your own good and you’re mad,” Casey said. “Typical.”

“What do mean, ‘typical,’” he demanded.

“You can’t stand it when someone else is right about something personal,” Casey said, squeezing his hand slightly. “Like I was about how we’d be together.”

“That’s bullshit.” Dominic stared at their clasped hands. “I had some … traveling I needed to do. A project I’d begun that I’m pretty much uniquely suited to finish. And she just shipped me off here and … and …”

“Sent someone else to do your heroic deed?”

He sighed. That’s a way more complicated question than it should be. “More or less.”

Casey leaned slightly closer. “I know you probably don’t want to hear this, but I’m not seeing a problem, Laurence.” In response to his scowl, she said, “You had a job to do, but you were hurt enough to be imprisoned in this facility for ten days. If the job was time sensitive, someone else had to do it. This isn’t your fault, nor does it reflect badly on you in any way. As the bumper stickers say, ‘Shit happens.’”

“You don’t understand,” Dominic said, sorely tempted to check himself out of the hospital and head for the nearest bar.

“Explain it to me.”

“It’s Saturday night, Casey. Don’t you have somewhere else to be?”

“Nowhere else I want to be.” Their eyes locked and Dominic forgot to breathe.

“And how are we this evening?” Dr. Marten asked, startled, eyes roving from his chart to Casey’s chest. “Oh, hello, miss. I didn’t realize you had a visitor, Mr. Dominic. I’ll stop by in a bit.”

“Maybe you can convince him to let me out tonight for good behavior,” Dominic suggested, smiling at Casey’s rolled eyes.

“Have you been on good behavior, Laurence?”

Pretending not to hear the light tease in her tone, Dominic said, “As ordered.”

“Adelle actually told you to mind your doctors?” Casey’s puzzled expression vanished almost before it was fully formed. “She must have known exactly how you’d react to being told to come here. Stubborn, uncooperative patients are a pain in the ass, Laurence. Is that really the quadrant you wanted to be in? Seriously. None of your nurses or doctors landed you here.” Smile turning rueful, she said, “Sounds like Adelle knows you pretty well.”

“Why are you taking her side in this?” he asked.

“Because she’s looking after you,” Casey said. “Like I did.”

“You didn’t look after me,” he said, calculating the risk of his next statement and ignoring the results. “You were a kid.”

“A responsible kid who knew when to apply the brakes to an older, irresponsible one,” Casey said, happy smile softening the blow. “I admit, my tactics were different, because I didn’t have the authority to simply order you to comply. But I made sure you made sensible decisions about a lot of things.” She grinned. “It’s amazing what a girl can get a man to do if she has a clever tongue.”

Ruthlessly suppressing certain of the memories her words evoked, Dominic said, “In more ways than one.”

“You remember,” she whispered. “That’s nice.”

“Casey, why are you here?”

Voice soft, sincere, she said, “I wanted to see you.”

“You’ve seen me.”

Frowning, she demanded, “Are you going to shove me away again, Laurence? Haven’t we been there, done that?”

“All this visit is doing is complicating an already untenable situation.”

“Nice try,” she said, “but I’m not as easy a target as I was then.”

Wary, Dominic said, “Huh?”

“You hurt me when you left,” she said. “Badly.” She took a deep breath. “So badly, I didn’t even realize it was completely unlike you. I think it was over a year later when I started to wonder what had really gone down between us. To wonder why you really left me. To wonder what drove you to be cruel. I never figured it out. I’d like to know. I think I have a right to the information.”

Dominic briefly contemplated feigning a sharp pain and depressing the nurse call button. Casey’s openly questioning gaze convinced him otherwise. “My new job was … is dangerous to people close to me. I couldn’t expose you to that. I wouldn’t.”

“Should I be thanking you or smacking you upside the head, I wonder,” Casey mused.

“I really want out of here, Casey. Another blow to the head might jeopardize that.”

“You hurt me to protect me,” she murmured. Suddenly brightening, Casey said, “So that’s what this is all about!” Casey grinned at him, bouncing on the bed slightly. “You want to protect her and she stashed you away in the hospital. Why didn’t you say so in the first place?”

“Because it’s not about protecting Adelle, it’s about … well … um … it’s about removing a … a threat.”

“To Adelle.”

“It goes a bit beyond her personally.”

“But it includes a real threat to her personally?” she asked.

“Yeah.”

“And you didn’t explain any of this to her. You got mad and sullen and uncommunicative. Didn’t you?”

“Not exactly.” Dominic sounded defensive to his own ears. Damn.

“In all fairness, Adelle probably didn’t emphasize she was afraid for you if you went off to attempt your heroic deed while ten day hospital stay injured. She probably talked in terms of what had to be done and by when.” Casey shook her head. “You two may be too much alike for your own good.” Staring into Dominic’s eyes, daring him to match her, she asked, “She didn’t even mention fear for you, did she?” He shook his head. “And you got pissed off before you took the time to read between the lines. What a mess.”

“Don’t get it in your head to go and see Adelle to try and fix it, Casey.”

“Too late.”

“Damn it, don’t do that,” Dominic said. “Don’t do anything. Leave this alone.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t know if I want it fixed.”

“Wow,” Casey whispered into the sudden silence. “I didn’t see that coming.”

“I didn’t either,” Dominic whispered.

Shifting to sit next to him, shoulder just touching his, Casey said, “What’s going on inside that busy brain of yours, Laurence?”

“It’ll be easier if we just do the job,” he said. “If there isn’t a … a personal component to get in the way.”

“So what if a personal component gets in the way?” she asked. “That’s supposed to happen. Personal stuff is messy, complex, painful and wonderful. It changes everything. It ought to.” Casey turned his head toward hers with a gentle hand on his cheek. “Do you care about Adelle?”

“Yes, but—.”

“I don’t care if you can recite thirty thousand ‘buts,’ Laurence. The first word you said is the only one that matters in the long run.”

“It isn’t that simple, Casey.”

“Of course not. You have to work through all of the ‘buts.’ Maybe you can and maybe you can’t. What you need to decide is whether you’re going to try.” After kissing him lightly on the lips, Casey stood. “If you decide not to and you get your project done, call me. If you decide to go for it, call me. I do ‘just friends’ with the best of them.” She smiled at him, expression wistful. “Good night, Laurence. Be well.”

“Night, Casey.” Dominic realized he was exhausted when Casey left. She’s always had that effect on me.

* * *

Monday Evening

Laurence Dominic sat at his desk and sighed. He’d been lucky. He’d met no one from the Dollhouse on the way up to his office through the main building. Adelle hadn’t been in the bedroom when he’d arrived, so he was able to change clothes. Why did Adelle have to have all of my suits moved here from my condo? He sighed. Why else? To make my life more difficult. Firing up his computer, Dominic had looked out the window and wondered what had transpired while he’d been gone. Opening his intelligence program, he’d sought to find out. Almost eleven hours later, smiling in satisfaction after skimming through between one half and two thirds of the new material, he leaned back in his chair. We’re getting there. Soon, we’ll have enough evidence to move forward.

Closing his eyes, Dominic cleared his mind. When’s the last time I actually wrote an NSA field report? This wasn’t going to be just any old field report. He needed to provide a document justifying a strike against and the partial destruction of one of the largest and most powerful corporations in the world, outlining the plan of attack and managing the fallout. Wading through the aftermath was the key to the entire thing. Rossum couldn’t simply be wiped off the face of the planet. Such a thing wasn’t explainable in any palatable way in this ubiquitous media, instantaneous communication society. The branches of the corporation using the dangerous tech had to be permanently shut down, leaving the rest of the organization unharmed and viable. Making a mental note to find out how much of a financial crutch the Dollhouses were to Rossum, he switched to a blank screen. Nearly ninety minutes later, Dominic had put together a rough outline of a field report.

“Hello, stranger.”

Dominic’s eyes shot up. Seconds later, he dropped his hand from his gun. Sierra stepped into his office wearing the tank top and comfortable pants of an active in doll state, despite the fact she was undoubtedly imprinted as a talented computer scientist and investigator. “Sierra,” he muttered, wondering what was in the small bag she carried.

“I’d have been here sooner, but they’ve had me running all over the city putting out fires of one sort or another. How are you feeling?” she asked, crossing the room, grabbing the same guest chair she always did.

Closing the NSA field report file, Dominic said, “I’m fine. How far has Victor progressed in his stint as me?”

“He’s hit five of eighteen,” she said, sinking into the chair she’d positioned next to his. “He has you down cold.” Sierra leaned closer as if to speak confidentially. “Freaked DeWitt the hell out when he called her ‘ma’am.’”

I’ll bet that had Ms. Lonelyhearts rolling around in her figurative grave.

“Not half as much as it freaked out Topher, though,” Sierra said. She shrugged. “Go figure.” Tapping his laptop, she asked, “How much of it have you reviewed?”

“I’ve skimmed enough to get a sense of where things stand.” Sierra regarded him for a long moment, gnawing her lip as though biting back a question. “What?” he asked.

“Where do things stand with you and DeWitt?”

“Why do you ask?”

“I heard you had a fight over the Victor as Dominic deal.” Leaning over his keyboard, she typed commands allowing her to access the very latest acquired information. “You’ve been here all day and haven’t set foot out of your office, according to Judith.” Chuckling, Sierra held out the bag she brought. “She asked me to give this to you by the way.” Watching Dominic eye the bag with suspicion, Sierra said, “Judith asked me.”

“Oh, ok,” he said, opening the bag.

As he ripped the wrapper off of a Power Bar, Sierra said, “DeWitt hasn’t mentioned you once today to anyone—Topher and Ivy were talking about it.” To his rolled eyes, she said, “That, believe me, is a total first.”

“Whatever.”

Sierra smiled. “Pretend you don’t care, if that helps you get through the day. It’s fine with me. She hasn’t checked on you. She hasn’t sent Judith to check on you. She hasn’t asked Grayson to stop in and pick your brain about anything. So … you’re avoiding her. She’s avoiding you. It’s not good for the mission.”

“I have to catch up.”

“How long are you going to use that excuse?”

“For as long as it’s valid.” Dominic’s stare was as hard as the edge in his tone.

Eyes turning upward as though hoping for divine intervention, Sierra said, “You know what I think?”

“That Adelle and I are really none of your business?”

She laughed and kissed him on the cheek. “I think you two should kiss and make up.”

“No thanks,” Dominic muttered, unable to completely mask the surge of anger.

“Still mad, huh?” Sierra said. “Ok, then you should fuck and make up.”

“You should sit down and work, if that’s why you’re actually here.”

Leaning back comfortably in her chair, Sierra gestured to a small table he hadn’t noticed but knew hadn’t been there when he’d left for the hospital. “I have my own machine with a copy of everything over there,” she said. “I sat here to see if I could talk some sense into you, but you’re obviously bound and determined to make the same mistake every male of the species does in situations like this.”

Dominic bit his tongue. I’m not going to ask. Why? Because I don’t care.

“You’re going to internalize everything until you can’t anymore. Then you’ll explode and regret every stupid thing you say when you do.” Sierra stood with a sigh and moved to her machine. Over her shoulder, she added, “Don’t worry, sweetie, I’ll be right here to say I told you so.”

* * *

Early Tuesday Morning

Adelle DeWitt sat up in bed, heart pounding, nightmare fading quickly. She glanced at the clock next to the bed. 3:17 am. Resting her head on the pillow, Adelle stared at the ceiling, thinking back over a busy, yet ultimately wasted day. Judith had kept her apprised of what little she knew of Laurence’s activities. Adelle had lost count of how many times Judith had asked her whether she’d spoken to him. I was consistent in my responses at least. I’m allowing Mr. Dominic space to breathe and to re-acclimate to the House and this particular project. Judith had been unimpressed. She hadn’t had the gumption to use the words coward or afraid in Adelle’s presence, but the message came through loud and clear nonetheless.

Rolling over onto her side, Adelle punched her pillow with little force. I don’t know what to say to him, Judith. I have no idea what to do to make things right. I doubt it’s even possible at this stage. Shifting onto her back, Adelle felt the sadness she’d kept at bay all day stealing over her. Not questioning the impulse, Adelle rose, donned her robe and walked swiftly and silently over to the door connecting the bedroom to Laurence’s office. She listened for a few seconds and heard nothing. Adelle knew a light was on, because she could see the outline of the door. Refusing to think, she turned the knob and stepped inside. Laurence’s desk lamp was lit but he wasn’t there. Dominic didn’t appear to be anywhere. I asked to be informed if he left the building. I suppose I’ll have to speak with Ms. Grayson in the morning.

Then she saw him. Dominic was stretched out on his couch, a throw pillow beneath his head, his suit coat serving as a blanket. Moving slowly in the dimness, Adelle approached and lowered herself into one of the chairs across the coffee table from the couch. She pulled her legs up onto the chair, wrapped her arms around them and settled in to watch Laurence sleep. Seeing him, silent, relaxed and vulnerable, Adelle thought of all they had shared, of all that had transpired, of everything that had changed since she’d told him to pack a bag for Paris while wondering what he’d be like in bed. She shed a few stray embarrassing tears, but there was no one awake to see. Rousing herself from a light dose a little after 5:30 am, Adelle returned to the bedroom—uncertain, uneasy and most decidedly unhappy.

* * *

Tuesday Afternoon

A brisk knock on Laurence Dominic’s office door announced Judith. “Good afternoon, Mr. Dominic, Sierra,” she said. “Ms. DeWitt would appreciate an update on your progress. She’s free at the moment.”

“Go ahead, Sierra,” Dominic said. “I want to finish going over the information from the consulting firm outside of Fresno.”

“I’m sure she’d rather hear it from you,” Sierra said.

Not missing the look that passed between the two women, Dominic said, “I’m not.”

“Perhaps both of you?” Judith ventured.

“Thanks for the Power Bars, Judith,” Dominic said. Typing a command to his intelligence program, he said, “Don’t keep Ms. DeWitt waiting, Sierra.”

“What do I tell her when she asks why you’re not providing the update?” Sierra asked.

“Tell her I’m busy … resuming my role in our ongoing effort.”

Sierra looked for a moment as if she was about to say something further but thought better of it. Dominic was glad. He was becoming well and truly tired of women telling him what to do.

* * *

Two Minutes Later

“Good afternoon, Sierra,” Adelle DeWitt said, glancing past the active, frowning. “I trust you’re well.”

“As well as can be expected,” Sierra said.

“Explain,” Adelle said, genuine curiosity a nice change from her forced focus on the Dollhouse’s clients these days.

“It’s not easy being sequestered with a classic stubborn male,” Sierra said, stopping about five paces from Adelle. “The gorgeous eyes and excellent body make things a little easier to take, but it’s still wearing.”

“Mr. Dominic couldn’t be troubled to update me himself?” Adelle asked, unsurprised by the development, curious as to how Laurence had explained himself to Sierra, if at all.

The imprinted active hesitated. “He said to tell you he’s busy resuming his role in our ongoing effort.”

Adelle winced. Leave it to Laurence to commit my direct order to memory. “It is apparently unclear to him that providing updates is part of his role.”

“Apparently,” Sierra said.

“Might I trouble you to clarify the matter for him?”

Grinning, Sierra said, “It would be my pleasure.”

How absurd have we become? Using Sierra as an envoy. Adelle sighed and took a deep breath in preparation. Psychologically speaking, would it be better to receive him seated at my desk, standing by the window gazing pensively out at the city or just hanging up the telephone? Feeling more like a schoolgirl than a renowned strategist, Adelle opted to stand by the window. She simply didn’t want Laurence looming over her while in an ugly frame of mind. Also, she had no desire to have to time hanging up the telephone to make the scene she was trying to set play naturally.

“You wanted to see me, ma’am?”

A soft spoken, respectful tone Adelle hadn’t expected. “Yes, Laurence, I was rather looking forward to receiving the status report from you.” Gaze polite, attentive, strictly professional, he nodded. “I’m glad to see you back,” Adelle said. “Are you well?”

“I can produce my hospital discharge documentation if you doubt it.”

“There will be no need of that.” Something shifted behind his placid countenance, but Adelle had no idea from what to what. “I’ve spoken with your physician and he seems satisfied with your progress.”

Eyes focused somewhere slightly over Adelle’s right shoulder, Dominic stood in an at ease posture, hands clasped behind his back, and gave his report. “We’re in the process of checking the assimilation protocols of the intelligence program to ensure we have all of the data from the Dollhouses and other Rossum facilities, sorted by technology, project, facility and facility type. Victor has obtained the data from all but one of the consulting firms and will start on the private residences by the end of this week. I haven’t reviewed all of the information yet, but I’ve seen enough to know we’re on plan. Consequently, I’ve outlined my field report to the NSA. It’s rough. The outline, I mean.” He frowned and while not ideal, Adelle was grateful for any expression at all. “I’m a little out of practice with making reports and recommendations in written form. Sierra and Ivy will continue to monitor the assimilation. I’ll review all of the information, confirm the assimilation and draft the report.” He took a breath. “I haven’t had the opportunity to check Topher’s progress on his remaining project. I’ll see to that as soon as possible.”

“Thank you, Laurence. That’s quite a bit of work for a day and a half.”

“Thank you, ma’am. I’m trying to do my part.”

Suddenly as resolute as she’d been when she’d created this problem, Adelle stepped up to Laurence. Halting just shy of his personal space, she said, “I’m sorry.”

Clearly surprised, he took an involuntary step back. “For what?” he asked.

“For forcing my agenda upon you,” Adelle said, voice gaining in momentum and power. “I felt it necessary and still believe it was, but I regret the consequences, not the least of which being this stilted conversation.”

“Will that be all, ma’am?”

“No, Laurence, that is not all,” Adelle said, crossing the line into his personal space. “That is far from all. You will not leave this office until we have this over.”

Anger flashed in his eyes, but otherwise his expression showed nothing. “It is over.”

“Define ‘it,’ if you would be so kind.”

Dominic looked to be gritting his teeth. “Anything beyond our ongoing effort with respect to Rossum.”

“I see.” Adelle dared him to meet her eyes. When he did, she said, “I’m afraid I don’t accept that, Laurence.”

“Too damn bad, Adelle,” he said, hands falling to his sides. Dominic shifted his feet to bring one slightly forward as though preparing to spar. “What you do or don’t accept doesn’t matter. You saw to that when you treated me as if I wasn’t even a person. You used me like a … like a fucking tool.”

Ignoring her rapidly pounding heart, Adelle strived for a reasonable tone. “How so?”

“I don’t believe I have to spell this out for you.” Stepping forward, getting in her face, Dominic pointed an accusatory finger at her. “When we got back from Chicago, my mind was useful to you but my body wasn’t. So you copied my mind and shunted my body aside. I became just another means to an end to you. Just like all those people in the pictures Langton sent me—the others you used until you got what you wanted from them.” Reaching into his pocket, he withdrew his phone and offered it to her. “Well, here, this is the only other thing you really need. Speed dial two or nine, take your pick. They both will get you Clarice most days.”

Adelle spared the cellular phone a dismissive glance. “I fail to appreciate what use your phone would be to me,” Adelle said.

“Give it to Victor when he comes back,” Dominic said. “He’ll know what to do with it.”

“You believe Victor will continue to act as your surrogate upon his return to the House?” Adelle asked, marveling at how a simple, seemingly expedient solution had bloomed into a monumental difficulty. “I assure you, Laurence, there are plenty of other roles for Victor to play.”

“So what?” he growled. “Have him play whatever parts you want and reload me when the time comes.”

“That won’t be possible.”

For an instant, curiosity overtook hostility. “What won’t be possible?”

“The wedge Topher made of you no longer exists.”

“You expect me to believe you authorized the willful destruction of an asset?” His laugh, thankfully, lacked the extraordinary level of bitterness of the last she’d heard from him.

“No, because I did no such thing.” Adelle allowed Laurence to stew in his own confusion for a full minute. “I smashed it myself and saw it incinerated shortly thereafter with my own eyes. This was what you might call a one shot deal. I never intended to settle for a cheap imitation. I will have the original by my side or no one at all.”

“Enjoy your solitude, then.” His eyes narrowed. “Why are you smiling?”

“You sounded as though you’d lost the strength of your convictions,” she said. “Just for a moment.”

He developed a sudden fascination with the floor. “I think I did,” he murmured. “Just for a moment.”

“How might we extend that moment, Laurence?” she asked, taking the risk of placing her hand on his forearm.

“Did you choose an order over a request, because you were afraid for me?” he muttered, gaze shifting to her hand.

“Yes.”

“That’s what Casey thought,” he whispered as he ran a hand through his hair. “But I think you’re saying whatever you think I might want to hear.” He sighed and closed his eyes. “No, that isn’t fair. I asked the question in a way that telegraphed the quote-unquote right answer.”

“You spoke with Casey about … the situation?”

A hint of a smile flickered over his face, undoubtedly prompted by the distaste in Adelle’s tone. “When she visited me in the hospital, yeah. She and Judith, who is a freaking saint by the way. You should give her a raise.”

“Why?” Adelle asked, encouraged by what she suspected was unintended enthusiasm.

“She smuggled in a pint of chocolate-peanut butter ice cream and a fifth of bourbon.” He did smile this time, briefly. “They don’t taste half bad together.”

“How were those dietary adjustments viewed by your physician?” Adelle asked, grateful for the humor that had crept into Dominic’s tone.

“He didn’t complain.”

“An uncommonly wise man,” Adelle muttered, hand involuntarily tightening on his arm. “Back to Casey visiting you, though. When was that?”

“Saturday night.”

“Odd timing,” Adelle said.

“I thought so too,” Dominic said. “Casey’s a Saturday night on the town sort of a person, but she told me she’d just found out I was there.”

“And you were inclined to speak to her about your issue with me?”

Dominic shrugged. “Casey figured out I was angry with you and she wouldn’t let it go. She’s like that sometimes. I used to accuse her of being part terrier.”

Adelle risked a smile. “I’m sure that went over well.” Curiosity warring with wariness, Adelle said, “Was a conclusion reached in your discussion?”

“She thought so.”

“But you disagree.”

“I couldn’t tell her that you ordered me to enable the creation of another me, could I?” Dominic extricated his arm from Adelle’s grasp. “I couldn’t explain that you didn’t send someone else to do my job. You sent a me who wasn’t me. So Casey didn’t exactly have the full picture when she offered her opinion.”

“Which was?”

“Irrelevant.”

“Excuse me, Ms. DeWitt,” Judith said, straddling the threshold of Adelle’s office, expression the epitome of apologetic. “Mr. Rossum is holding for you. Line three.”

“Don’t move,” Adelle commanded, keeping her eyes on Dominic as she moved to her telephone. “This conversation has not concluded.”

* * *

Three Minutes Later

Laurence Dominic clenched and unclenched his fists, trying to slow his breathing and heart rate and to ignore the soft placating words Adelle exchanged with Rossum. Something had broken in him when Adelle had forced him into the chair a second time. He wasn’t sure what it was, but it felt vital and irreparable.

“I’m sorry, Laurence,” Adelle said, as she hung up the phone.

“But you thought it best to take that call,” he muttered. “Why don’t I leave you to do whatever else you think is best?”

Coming toward him with admirable grace, she said, “Because you can’t.”

“Excuse me.”

She took his hand. Startled, he allowed it. “In my view,” Adelle said, “the best course of action is to take you to bed and put this unfortunate confluence of events behind us.”

Freeing his hand with an abrupt motion, he said, “We’re done here.”

Grabbing his bicep, Adelle said, “No, we are not.”

Dominic shot straight past anger to rage. “Let go,” he snarled. When she tightened her grip instead, he said, “I’m not joking, Adelle. Let go now, because I don’t recall ever actually seeing red before.”

Eyes locking with his, Adelle whispered, “Make me.” Hands her shoulders, Dominic shoved her. Adelle lost her grip on his arm and staggered backward, smiling in a borderline snide way. “You’re not free of me, you know,” she said. “I have no need to touch you to hold you.”

Dominic closed the distance between them before he made himself stop. “You have no hold over me,” he said. “You lost any you may have had when you had Topher turn Victor into me.”

“Did I really?” Adelle put a hand on Laurence’s chest.

“Damn right you did,” he hissed. “The only reason I’m here is to complete the mission and, if there was a way to do that without being here, I wouldn’t be.”

Adelle laughed. Laurence clenched his hands into fists and couldn’t reverse the process.

“I don’t believe you, Laurence.” Drawing her forefinger along his breastbone, she murmured, “I doubt you believe yourself.”

“I don’t give a shit what you believe, Adelle.”

“I thought we agreed there would be no more lies between us,” Adelle said. Her smile a clear taunt, Adelle pressed against him. Dominic’s body betrayed him nearly immediately. “I expected more from you, Laurence,” Adelle whispered. She bit him lightly on the throat just above the collar of his suit jacket.

Dominic couldn’t repress a soft gasp. “Don’t,” he said.

“So much more,” she murmured, licking the spot she’d just bitten and then biting it again.

Control a thing of the past, Dominic grabbed Adelle by the upper arm and dragged her toward the bedroom between their offices. “I’ll show you what you can damn well expect, you manipulative bitch.”

“By all means, show me, Laurence,” she said as he pulled her through the door, picked her up and threw her down on the bed. Staring up at him, Adelle rolled onto her back and smiled a wanton invitation.

Eyes never leaving hers, Dominic threw his suit jacket aside. His tie followed, then his belt and shoes. Adelle licked her lips, drawing a groan from his. Lust and anger pounding through him, Dominic dove onto the bed beside her. Patience a completely foreign concept, he ripped open her blouse, sending buttons flying. “Take it off,” he growled, gesturing to her bra while he pushed up her skirt.

“You take it off,” Adelle said.

“Fuck that,” he muttered, tearing off her underwear. Flattening Adelle to the bed with his body, he kissed her with barely contained violence. “You don’t give the orders here, Adelle. Not today.” Bruising her lips, Dominic yanked his pants and boxers out of his way. Adelle slid her arms around his neck. Dominic removed them, caught both of her wrists in one hand and pinned her arms to the bed. Staring into her eyes, openly displaying his raw, jagged, uncontrollable emotions, he entered her roughly and set a fast, hard pace. Far from satisfied with her wince and small grunt that didn’t quite sound like pain, wanting more of a reaction from her—good or bad, anything other than indifferent—he moved faster, thrust harder.

Adelle’s expression softened. “I want this, Laurence,” she whispered.

Fingers tangled in her hair, Dominic pulled Adelle in for another kiss. This time a bit of finesse entered into the equation. “At least one of us knows what the hell they want,” he muttered, taking her bottom lip between his teeth, watching her as he bit down sharply.

Adelle’s hips bucked and she moaned. “Take what you need,” she murmured. Lifting her head as if to offer her ravaged lips, she said, “Anything at all.”

Her words wended their way through Dominic’s mind, blunting some of his anger, transforming an amount of blind lust into desire. At one level, Dominic knew he had to be hurting her, but he couldn’t stop. He slowed, intending to proceed more gently, but Adelle entwined her legs with his and her urgent moaned, “Harder,” drove him onward. Her cry of his name ended in a near scream as an orgasm ripped through Adelle. Her culmination migrated over to him and Dominic’s mind went blank with pleasure.

They lay together panting, sweating, most definitely not thinking for a time. Too soon, unwanted thoughts intruded on Dominic’s lassitude. Disturbed, he sat up and pulled on his boxers and pants. Adelle’s arms came around him from behind, no doubt further wrinkling the shirt he had worn throughout their encounter. “I have to get back to work,” he mumbled when she held on when he tried to stand.

“Look at me,” Adelle said.

How can that woman whisper a command? Slowly, with a small sigh and great reluctance, Dominic turned his head. He met her eyes but couldn’t avoid a quick perusal of her bruised lips, torn blouse and the way her skirt rode well up on her thighs. She stroked his cheek and Dominic’s eyes widened at the bruises already forming just above her wrist. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“Sorry?”

Gaze shifting to his ingers plucking agitatedly at the comforter, he said, “I hurt you. I shouldn’t have taken out my frustration like that.”

Adelle framed his face in her hands and turned it toward her. “Did I ask you to stop?” When he shook his head, she asked, “Did I ask you to be gentler with me?” He shook his head again. “Did I, perhaps, mention I wanted what you obviously had on offer?”

“You might have said something like that,” he allowed. “But it wasn’t like I asked, Adelle. I … I just …”

“Took?” Adelle smiled when he tried to look away, but her hands prevented the maneuver. “As I recall giving you permission to do.”

“After it was all over but the shouting, yeah.”

“Ah, the shouting, yes.” Kissing him lightly on the mouth, she asked, “Are you fishing for compliments, Laurence.”

“No. Damn it, Adelle, I practically raped you and I—.”

“I have had sex forced upon me. What happened just now was not at all akin to that.”

Rage welled within him again at the thought of Adelle being raped. “Who?” he growled.

“No one you need concern yourself with, Laurence. It wasn’t a recent occurrence, but the memories don’t seem to fade.” Adelle kissed him again, slightly harder, much deeper. “Believe me. Had we been in that territory, you’d have had a fight on your hands. One from which you would bear scars. Are we clear on that?”

He fingered her ruined blouse. “I’m sorry about your shirt.”

Gesturing to her closet, Adelle said, “I have far too many more.”

Dominic took a deep breath and decided to go for broke. “I’m sorry I called you a manipulative bitch.”

“I am a manipulative bitch. I was being precisely that when you called me on it.”

“Well … um … maybe … but …” Seeing nothing good coming from trying to complete his sentence, Laurence fell silent.

“Perhaps your next apology should be for excessive apologizing,” Adelle suggested as she slipped onto his lap.

Smile tugging at his lips, Laurence said, “I’m sorry for saying I’m—.”

“Don’t,” she ordered. “Put your arms around me, look me in the eye and tell me that wasn’t one of the top twenty orgasms of your life.” Adelle smiled as he complied with the first two elements of her program.

“Might’ve been number twenty one,” he said, relaxing a bit.

“That’s better,” Adelle said, running her hands over his shoulders. “Shall I tell you how I think we should proceed?”

“Sure,” Laurence said.

“As you suggested a while ago, you shall play your role and I will play mine.” Adelle shifted position to more comfortably sit on his lap. “At approximately 9:00 pm every evening, we will discuss the events of the day, have dinner and relax. An unspecified time later, we’ll go to bed together. Agreed?”

They regarded each other, Adelle waiting, Dominic endeavoring to make sense of everything that had just happened. The urge to agree battled residual negativity. Finally, he said, “Adelle, I am sorry.”

“Unnecessary apology accepted.” She kissed him on the forehead. “Are we in agreement, Laurence?”

Uncertain but not unwilling, he said, “We are.”

“Excellent.” Dominic watched Adelle try to interpret his expression. “Laurence?”

“It’s not 9:00 pm yet and we’re … not exactly well put together anymore.”

Adelle laughed. “Since you are the more well put together, go into my office and pour us a drink.”

Gently shifting Adelle from his lap to the bed, he whispered, “I hate that I hurt you.”

Catching his hand in hers, Adelle asked, “Does it make you uncomfortable that I enjoyed it?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Perfect. I adore keeping my men off balance.”

Standing, neatening himself up as much as possible, he asked, “Plural?”

“Not at the moment.”

“Good.”



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(Deleted comment)
As Sierra said, "Then you should f*** and make up."

I'm glad it played. Something like that is always risky.

Hurray for angry makeup sex (and aww on Laurence being concerned afterwards. He may be incredibly pissed but he'd never want to hurt her).

I loved this chapter, it really highlighted isssues between them that needed to be addressed and it was handled so well!

I'm glad the angry makeup sex worked ok. After everything that's happened, I thought Dominic could be driven to almost want to hurt her physically, but not quite. I could completely see an apology for such a loss of control from him. Or a series of apologies.

The issues of playacting versus not and manipulation versus concern had to be resolved, perhaps once and for all, between them. I'm glad this chapter achieved its goals. Thanks so much for reading all of this and commenting.

Oh my! I sort of knew it was coming but you handled it marvelously. There were so many layers to the conflict between them. Adelle being practical and ruthless even when the decision costs her something important and knowing it. Laurence's anger being entirely justified but also a tad self indulgent, but also not - given the multitude of grey areas. Also, it was Victor - which probably means nothing, but just might mean something.

I liked Sierra sort of being smug and knowing how it would end - far preferable to Echo. I'm not sure if I actually like Casey that much - I know it was before the current assignment but I can see Dominic might eventually have come to be irritated by how easy she seems to find everything. I don't know how comfortable he would have been if he had been the only thing she had needed to struggle to get. Which is interesting - set against Adelle. It also makes me realise that I can also see him walking away from her in the end.

Judith is indeed a freaking saint!

The scene when Adelle gets up, watches him and goes back to bed on her own was heart wrenching.

I wonder whether Adelle has even thought about what might happen when this is all over?

Oh my is a good reaction. Thanks.

You did know it was coming. The question of "Is he playacting?" had to be answered (or at least addressed). And there was no acting here. Dominic was far too angry and otherwise emotional for that. If there was playacting at all it was in the resumption of the dutiful Chief of Security before Adelle baited him a little bit.

Adelle was being practical and ruthless and afraid for Laurence. He chose to see the second one only. Or that one was predominant in his mind because of the "Is she just using me like all the rest?" question he had. But, yes, Adelle suspected she'd have to pay a price and Laurence made it clear right away what the price was.

I hadn't put the word to Dominic's anger, but it was a tad self-indulgent, as was pointed out to him by various other women in his life. But it also wasn't because it was based on the very real (to his mind) risk of just being another weapon in Adelle's arsenal and nothing more. I think the fact that it was Victor didn't help matters for either of them, but this too, I believe, was nothing more than expedient. And we know how excellent a Dominic impression Victor does.

I have always liked Sierra. Casey has kind of grown on me. I am interested by the two relationships. With regard to Casey, all he had to do was give in and everything kind of worked itself out. With Adelle, giving in (in a lot of ways on a number of levels) wasn't nearly enough. There is nothing effortless or inevitable about he and Adelle.

I enjoy Judith. I think the scene with Adelle alone was my effort to establish that she acknowledges what she feels and feels the pain of what she fears she's lost. I'm glad it resonated. I think Adelle may be (on one level) actively trying not to think about what happens next. On another, I think she has certain basic things that she intends to demand. But if she managed to foresee what is coming, my hat is off to her, because I really didn't.

Thanks for taking this journey with me (and for offering to, more or less, do it again).


You're more than welcome!
Reading your reply made me realise how this part really was the culmination of the 'is he acting' vs 'is she using me' story arc in their relationship. The answers are fascinating and also perfectly in character. I actually love that Adelle is the one who really enables Laurence to make it to fulfill his mission for the NSA here - even if she does it in a characteristically serpentine mission.

I am actually not sure how this is going to end - both in terms of the denouement of the mission against Rossum, but also in terms of their relationship. I completely see the 'nothing about this is easy or effortless' aspect.

Also, kudos for the delicate yet strong way you gave Adelle a history of sexual violence and yet didn't let that change her response to Dominic 'taking' what he needed.

In thinking about this further, I think Dominic had to subconsiously react to his understudy being Victor in a--"This is how she replaced the other guy she claimed to have cared about but not enough to stay with him"--manner.

Is he acting? Sometimes, but he cares about Adelle.

Is she using him? Sometimes, but she cares about Laurence.

Adelle does enable Laurence to complete his mission by having the guts to call his bluff with regard to his injuries, yes.

It was noted before (by you, I think) that Dominic deals with stress/emotional things via violence and Adelle deals with sex. This was my effort to merge the two in as palatable way as possible. Forging a connection in a way that each understands. Adelle's history of sexual violence, in some ways, allowed this to happen in a healthy way. She's been there and would've served him notice in no uncertain terms if she felt he was truly crossing the line (b/w ok and not ok vis a vis sexual violence). And, honestly, she baited him on purpose, because she knew they both needed to put the imprint deal behind them. He was close to the line (b/w having and not having sex with her). From "Make me," to "I expected so much more from you," she pushed him up to the line. He stepped over it on his own. Again with the balance thing.

I actually thought about ending this here once upon a time and letting people assume what they wanted about the future. Partly because I had no clue as to what I wanted to do. Fortunately, the answer arrived.

Adelle is a strong person. She needed to be to get through this chapter and to allow, and even encourage, Dominic to take what he needed. That's central to her character to me. And Dominic needed to be in a needy space after the imprint thing. Reassurance that he wasn't a tool, didn't just merely follow orders, etc. Arguably, this is an odd way to give it to him, but this is far from your average couple.

Boy, I'm getting long winded. I think it's b/c I crammed a lot of stuff in this chapter.

Edited at 2010-05-05 02:35 pm (UTC)

Also, kudos for the delicate yet strong way you gave Adelle a history of sexual violence and yet didn't let that change her response to Dominic 'taking' what he needed.

*nods*

This.

I didn't want Adelle to come across as a victim in any way, because she wasn't. This seemed a sensible way to proceed to allow her to both establish that she wasn't and to convince Dominic she wasn't.

Adelle and Laurence having rather rough sex is ALWAYS mood lightening!

I LOVE what you're doing with Casey - I mean, I don't trust her and I want to stab her in the eyeballs for even potentially getting between our OTP, but I think that's because she's so well-written.

Laurence's reaction was perfect, and it feels like all his frustration and unease about the Dollhouse was concentrated on this one betrayal. And the idea that Adelle will, at the end of the day, put what's right before her personal happiness is very true to her character. I was a bit scared that they wouldn't get back together, though!

I hadn't thought about the sex bit as mood lightening. My bad.

Casey has come out pretty well and I think it's interesting that whether he actually acknowledges it or not Dominic has a choice to make. Stabbing in the eyeballs sounds like a very effective method of removing a rival. Thanks for the kind words about well-written. I try to give the OCs a bit of life.

I think you're correct in that Laurence invested all of his emotional angst about Adelle and the Dollhouse and the whole situation and maybe even his life in general into the single order Adelle gave. Partly, look what following orders has gotten me and partly, damn she is just going to use me and throw me away.

Adelle has an odd nobility about her (to my mind, anyway) and she had a number of very good reasons for acting as she did, not the least of which was to make sure Laurence continued to draw breath. A very valid reason from my perspective.:)

When I wrote the scene at the beginning, I wasn't at all sure how to repair the damage of the direct order, so I just kind of kept going and hoped for the best. I'm glad they seem to have resolved their differences.

Thanks for reading.

I should possibly point out that I have never personally stabbed a rival in the eyeballs, it was just an example.

The jugular is far quicker.

Speed is important! And there is the permanence thing that's nice too.

LOL, torture is a recurring theme in this community. I wonder where we get it from ;)

I have to say, it's really strange how nervous their feud made me. I mean, this is Adelle/Dom, we know they'll get together (or at least stay that way through most of this fic) but that little thought of "omg they actually might break up" seemed so real.

You balance Adelle so beautifully. I mean one scene she's vulnerable, watching him sleep. The next moment she's strategizing or having angry make up sex. And she still remains the Adelle Dewitt I watched on Dollhouse.

It's interesting how you touched up on Adelle's need for rough intercourse, she's been proposing it since chapter 2.

Actually, I don't think they've woken up together yet. It's either she's watching over him as he sleeps, or he's there when she passes out on him, exhausted. Then again I guess it's kind of fitting with their theme of trust/vulnerability...

I don't know what to think of Casey. It was strange having her show up in his room and seemingly know the gist of what's going on between him and Adelle. It makes me wonder who her eyes and ears are and how big a stake she's really got in this game.

Awesome as always! Keep up the great work!

Torture is thematic, but this particular form of it was necessary if they had any chance to potentially move forward as a couple. These issues--is he just acting and is she just using me--were not going away simply or without pain.

I'm gratified to hear that a few people were disturbed by the battle Laurence and Adelle waged. I think the threat of them going their separate ways is very real. These are two very different (other than the enjoyment of torture, of course), very independent, very strong individuals. To forge a couple out of them isn't simple.

Adelle is vulnerable in this part of the story, because her decision might well cost her someone she's come to value. And she feels she has no one to blame but herself (which is not exactly true, but I think she feels that way). Vulnerable or not, she is a strategist and she decided to push Dominic's buttons one more time to see if they could get past the anger and resentment to a better place.

I never dreamt (in chapter 2) that they would arrive at the place they did in this chapter. Just goes to show--you never know. And, yes, she's been consistent in her acceptance of/desire for rough sex. That will make her declaration that this was fine for her stick when Dominic wonders (which he will) if she was excusing behavior that wasn't ok to keep the fragile peace (or to establish a fragile peace). When he thinks back, he'll recall that she's mentioned this before.

I thought they'd woken up together once, but you may be right. I may have to do a quick skim and look. If they follow Adelle's plan, however, they should rectify this lack the next morning. And there is a trust component to being knowingly vulnerable to/with another. So it does fit that theme.

Casey wanted an answer to her question for a while--the "Why did you leave me?" one. I think, after seeing him again in the restaurant, she decided she would be amenable to either picking up where they left off or being friends. After she got the answer to her question. In keeping an eye out for an opportunity, she heard, probably from a friend who is a neurologist at UCLA, that Dom was in the hospital. As to the gist of what was going on between Dom and Adelle, Casey got that from what Dominic said and what she knows of him from their time together. I think Casey is a reasonably intuitive person.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

You know you're always welcome ;)

Lol, I was referring to the gouging of eyes and stabbing of the jugular proposed between you, ladyvivian and almost everyone else in this community. Although your explanation of the thematic is right on the money. It's consistent with what you've written so far.

Ah, that's a sound explanation for Casey's knowledge. I'm just glad that she's really just Casey and not some nefarious undercover player in this game of "how do we bring down Rossum?" Ever since the elevator girls were revealed to be NSA, I've been jumpy around most of your oc's. Questions like "What's his/her angle?" "Can Dom really trust him/her?" always pop in when an oc makes an entrance. Or exit. Take your pick. :D

Cheers!

Oh, I thought you meant the title. Oops!

I like that everyone is suspicious of Casey or at least reacts to her in some way. That's nice to see. A friend of mine who has read my stuff forever simply suspects everyone at all times. I get a lot of comments from her in the vein of "What about Casey? Don't like her. Don't trust her. When is she going to betray him? She better not betray him. He's been through enough."

It was actually her question about the girls in the elevator that made me decide to make them NSA.

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