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Rossum
damien listening guitar
rogoblue
Number 17 in the Let's Pretend Series

Title: Rossum
Rating: R (violence, language and sex)
Author: rogoblue
Summary: The NSA moves on Rossum and Adelle and Dominic await their arrival at the LA Dollhouse.
Seventeenth in the Let’s Pretend series (sixteenth is A Tortured Path, fifteenth is Roger Number Three, 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 sixteenth 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.

Weren’t the mice supposed to be allowed to play until Friday morning?

Words: 7,600
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 all of you who stuck with me. I appreciate it.



Twenty Four Days Later

Awake, increasingly alert, Adelle DeWitt resisted opening her eyes. Sensing Laurence wasn’t beside her, she sighed. Today everything would change. Adelle found the absence of the man she’d woken up next to for nearly a month oddly fitting on this particular morning. The sound of running water solved the mystery of Laurence’s whereabouts. He’s in the shower. Reluctantly, Adelle opened her eyes. Refusing to wonder how things would sort themselves out when the NSA arrived on site, she harkened back to certain of the preparations they’d made for this eventuality.

Three Days Earlier

Adelle DeWitt and Laurence Dominic strode through the House in perfect time. Laurence wore one of the suits Adelle had purchased for him in Paris. Although sorely tempted, Adelle resisted the temptation to comment upon his attire. She enjoyed a moment of private amusement that his suit jacket matched the primary shade of blue of her sweater. Dominic held open the door to Topher’s domain for her and Adelle stepped through, aiming a small smile of thanks in his direction.

“Ten-hut!” Topher exclaimed, standing immediately at attention.

Ivy rolled her eyes. Dominic scowled. Adelle said, “At ease, Topher.” Taking in the extraordinary level of disarray, Adelle said, “How are you progressing?”

Saluting irreverently, Topher said, “Kicking of the ass. Taking of the names.”

Adelle closed her eyes and counted to twenty. “Have all of the actives been restored and assisted on their way?” Ivy and Topher exchanged a nervous glance.

“Who’s still here?” Dominic demanded, arms crossed before him more out of habit than anything, Adelle suspected. Particularly over the last week, Laurence had been as relaxed as she’d ever seen him.

“Nobody but us geniuses, a skeleton crew of support staff, a token physician and Mama and Papa Bear,” Topher said. Grinning, he added, “That would be the two of you.”

“Was there anything … irregular concerning the restoration of the base personality for any active?” Adelle asked, noting Dominic’s slight nod of approval and Topher’s sudden keen interest in the small device he held in his hand. “Topher?”

“Echo refused,” Ivy said.

“I beg your pardon,” Adelle said, turning toward the young woman.

“Echo refused to be wiped in favor of Caroline,” Ivy specified.

“Since when does what an active wants enter into the equation?” Dominic demanded, taking a slow, measured, yet somehow still threatening step toward Topher.

“It wasn’t Echo so much as Alpha and his straight razor,” Topher said.

Dominic’s gun was in his hand. “Alpha’s here?”

“Yesterday, L-man,” Topher said. “Around noon. You were probably watching cartoons while you ate lunch.”

“He was here a grand total of about two minutes, Mr. Dominic,” Ivy said.

“Where was Kyle Beale?” Laurence asked, referring to the security man he’d assigned to watch Ivy and the chair.

“Kyle got relieved from 24/7 tech-sitting duty when the security group got vanishingly small,” Topher offered. “Last week,” he added. “Someone’s been skimming reports rather than reading them. Must be too busy with … other things.”

Dominic, thank God, ignored Topher’s effort at a meaningful glance at Adelle. “Is Echo’s tracking strip still in place?” Dominic asked.

“Assuming she hasn’t sat on the same park bench for fourteen hours, no,” Topher said.

“Damn,” Dominic muttered. “We need to locate her. Alpha too. Loose ends we don’t need.”

“What we do not need is a distraction at this juncture, Laurence,” Adelle said. “Echo has made her choice.”

“Based on what?” Dominic asked. “Memories left behind by a bunch of imperfectly wiped imprints, none of whom are actually her. How is that a real choice?”

“You have met Caroline Farrell,” Adelle said, putting a hand on Laurence’s shoulder. “In Echo’s shoes, given the choice, mightn’t you consider starting over?”

“I’ll defer to you on that issue,” Dominic said, although he clearly remained troubled.

“All armed and properly deferential,” Topher said, grinning. “I think I’m beginning to understand this relationship.”

“What of Dr. Saunders?” Adelle interjected before Laurence could respond, not cracking a smile at his annoyed holstering of his sidearm.

“I gave her a heavier dose of psychologist, like you asked,” Topher said, hands splayed in trademark fashion. “And as close to a zero ego as you can get for an Ivy League trained M.D. Admittedly not that close, but she’ll deal in a clinic setting all right.”

“She should be able to help any actives who have trouble re-acclimating to life outside this House or any other,” Ivy added.

“Good,” Adelle said. “I will check with Judith to ensure her clinic is ready and waiting for her.” She glanced at her watch. “Now as for the two of you—.”

“One more thing, ma’am,” Laurence said. Adelle saw the smile fighting its way forward at her annoyance at his use of the form of address she was rapidly coming to despise. “Topher,” he said, “what do you have for me?”

Topher handed over the small device he’d been holding. “It’s locked and loaded, L-man. Flick this switch, you have your LA Dollhouse demo. Flick it again and you go global.”

“You’re sure it goes through to the original source and tracks all copies?” Dominic asked.

Looking pained, Topher said, “I’d bet your life on it.”

“Thanks, Topher,” Dominic said.

Adelle nearly laughed at the open mouthed disbelief on the neuroscientist’s face. To avoid any further awkwardness, Adelle offered thin manila folders to Topher and Ivy. “Your new positions within the Rossum family of companies will be in Cambridge. They’re doing fascinating research aimed at discovering viable treatments and eventual cures for all manner of mental illness. I want you on your way before the walls of this House come tumbling down. You’ll find travel arrangements, employment contracts and all other documentation you need in those folders. Good luck to you both.”

Ivy shook Adelle’s hand and hugged Dominic. Topher blessedly avoided bloodshed by reversing the gestures.

When they left Topher and Ivy to their final tasks, dismantling the chair and cleaning up the mess the flurry of recent activity had generated, Adelle and Laurence slowed to nearly a stroll along the deserted upper walkway. “It feels too quiet,” Dominic said.

“It is,” Adelle murmured.

“Is Judith staying?” he asked.

“Yes, thank heavens,” Adelle said. “I am in no mood to train a new assistant.”

“I was under the impression Judith trained you.”

“Nor am I in a mood to be trained by a new assistant.”

“It’s important to have people around you that you know,” Dominic said, glancing sidelong at her. “I still think you should’ve kept a larger security team.”

“I’m aware of that, Laurence, but I don’t want to enter the next phase of my career—whatever precise form it may take—with a private army.” She smiled up at him. “That sends the wrong message, don’t you think?”

“Maybe,” he allowed.

“Thank you for helping me pick the eight of them.”

He caught her by the arm and pulled her close. “Eight? What? I don’t count?”

Adelle kissed him thoroughly. “I don’t think of you in that way anymore.”

The smile she would pay handsomely to see more routinely appeared. “In what way do you think of me, Adelle?”

Allow me to demonstrate,” she said, taking his hand, heading for the elevator to their office suite.

* * *

Now

Laurence Dominic basked in the feel of hot water flowing over him, reluctant to turn it off despite being through. We have … what? Another hour, maybe two, before the House is officially closed for business. The NSA and its international partners moved on Rossum four and a half hours ago. The operation’s nearly over by now. A draft sent a chill up his spine. When he turned to position his back beneath the spray, he smiled and opened his arms to Adelle DeWitt. She moved into his embrace and kissed him softly on the mouth. Moving back a half step, Dominic drew Adelle beneath the water and ran his hands through her hair to make sure it was completely wet. He backed her up slightly and reached around her to grab the shampoo, ignoring the hand Adelle held out for it. Stepping behind her, Dominic put some shampoo on his hands and unhurriedly worked it into her hair with gentle movements.

“You needn’t—.”

Maneuvering the front of her body under the spray, he said, “I want to, Adelle. Relax and let me do this for you.” To his mild surprise, she did just that, submitting to his hands in her hair. Taking his time, he enjoyed the pleasant citrus scent of the shampoo and the feel of her body leaning into his. Dominic turned Adelle around and encouraged her to put her head under the water to rinse. He let her take over in order to get some body wash on his hands. Deciding to make his intentions perfectly clear, Dominic started with her breasts, applying the soap to her sensitive flesh, enjoying her soft surprised gasp of his name. He lingered on her chest far longer than strictly warranted, but Adelle wasn’t complaining and he wasn’t inclined to rush. Finally, he moved to her shoulders, arms, hands, back, ass, abdomen.

Adelle’s mouth found his. “That’s enough,” she whispered against his lips.

“We’re only half done,” he countered, kneeling before her, smiling, tipping the bottle of body wash. Sitting back on his heels, Dominic lifted her right foot onto his thigh, cleaned it, her calf and her thigh.

As he made absolutely sure her inner thigh was clean, Adelle made a low needy sound that flowed through Dominic. Carefully, he placed her right foot on the floor of the shower stall and lifted her left in its place. Repeating the cleaning process from toes to crotch, Dominic watched Adelle bite her lip, clench her fists, throwing the right out to impact the glass door when he ran his fingertips upward along her thigh. Standing, he pulled her into his arms, drew her with him beneath the showerhead, and kissed her, slow, firm and unrelenting. Adelle clutched at his shoulders and gave as good as she got. “What do you want, Adelle?” he asked. Chuckling softly, Dominic said, “No, no, no, no. What do you need?”

“Those answers are the same,” she murmured, emitting an utterly basic, easily interpretable noise of pure arousal when Dominic’s lips strayed to her throat. Breathing hard, Adelle managed, “You.”

Dominic lifted her by the ass and Adelle wrapped her legs around his waist. Forearms on his shoulders, she raised herself up to allow him to enter her. Bracing her back against the shower stall, he set a slow pace. Adelle’s body weight drove him deeply inside her with each thrust. “God, you’re beautiful,” he whispered, voice tight with desire.

“You favor the drowned rat look?” she asked, smiling, pushing her hair out of her face, laughing when he nodded.

“I think I like you slippery.” He punctuated his statement with a hard, open mouthed kiss.

“You’re a strange man, Laurence Dominic.”

He shook his head, thrusting somewhat harder, smiling at the whimper she couldn’t contain. “Dangerous,” he panted. “I’m a dangerous man.” He laughed. “I thought … we … we’d … settled that early on.”

“On the plane to Paris,” Adelle breathed. Bodies humming in anticipation, they joined together fully once more and time seemed to stop as the pleasure began. A while later, they disengaged bodies and disentangled limbs. Steadying each other on shaky legs, they kissed. Washing again to the small extent necessary, they eyed each other. Smiles turned into laughter. Adelle turned off the water. “I think we’ve used more than our fair share this morning.” Dominic shrugged as he opened the shower door and handed a towel to Adelle. “Thank you, Laurence,” she said.

“You’re welcome,” he muttered, obtaining a towel for himself. “You want me to do that?” he asked when Adelle began to dry off.

“If you do, we may still be in this shower when the NSA arrives.”

“That’d make a statement,” Dominic said.

“What would it say?” Adelle asked, curious eyes on him.

“Fuck you.”

Adelle’s attempt at stern dissolved into laughter.

* * *

Forty Seven Minutes Later

Laurence Dominic and Adelle DeWitt stood side by side in Topher’s former digs in the LA Dollhouse, waiting for the NSA contingent to emerge from the elevator. Judith flanked Adelle, standing slightly behind. Kyle Beale flanked Dominic. Dr. Saunders sat in Topher’s chair.

The elevator doors opened. Seven men Dominic didn’t know swept inside. Clyde followed but stopped just to one side of the elevator, eyes cutting to the tall, Scandinavian-looking man in the center of the arrayed seven. Dominic nodded slightly. The Scandinavian’s eyes shifted between from Kyle to Dominic and settled on the latter. “Agent Dominic, I presume,” he said, voice elegant, cultured, annunciation precise.

“I’m Dominic.”

“Brandon Listrom.”

“Of what agency?” Dominic asked.

“I take my orders from the Oval.” Listrom said.

“I don’t.” Listrom’s eyes darted to the left and Dominic wondered whether Adelle or Judith was enjoying the reemergence of the reckless NSA agent. Might be both.

“We all do, Agent Dominic. One way or another.”

“No, we don’t,” Dominic countered. “This is an NSA op. It has been since before anyone outside of Illinois took notice of the guy who sits there now and it will be after he’s gone if this is done right.”

“I’m afraid the President doesn’t see it that way.”

“I’m afraid he’s going to have to adjust his thinking.”

“Or else?” Listrom asked, smiling in an urbane, superior, vaguely indulgent way.

“Something like that,” Dominic murmured. Taking Adelle lightly by the elbow, he said, “You need Ms. DeWitt to pull the rabbit out of the Rossum hat for you.”

“I will work with the NSA,” Adelle announced, “with … Agent Dominic as my liaison or not at all.”

“The Oval is prepared to offer you a full pardon and an obscene consulting fee, Ms. DeWitt.” Listrom said, smile losing its superior and indulgent aspects.

“I believe I have stated my conditions,” Adelle said, stepping closer to Dominic.

Listrom looked from one to the other, eyes assessing. “What do you say, Dominic? If the President saw to it that you became a free agent, would you sign on with us?”

“No.” To Listrom’s start of surprise, Dominic smirked. “Better the devil I know.”

“If Clyde were persuaded to assign you to us?”

“No need to reply, Dominic,” Clyde said. “That eventuality is unlikely in the extreme.”

“Has this matter been settled, then?” Adelle asked, voice, demeanor, bearing that of a supremely confident leader. When Listrom frowned, she said, “I suggest we proceed much as we have been, albeit in somewhat larger offices.”

“With all due respect, Ms. DeWitt,” Listrom said, “we can take Rossum down with or without you.”

“Take down?” Adelle said, glancing over to Dominic, shock evident.

“That’s your plan?” Dominic said, sarcasm unveiled, taking a step forward to get a sightline to Clyde who, for now, offered nothing but his rapt attention. “Take down the third largest private corporation in the free world?” Dominic asked. “All those jobs lost to the global economy, not just the small percentage of people employed by the Dollhouses?” Dominic sighed. “That kind of thinking is why this country’s in the mess it’s in, Listrom.”

“Rossum cannot be contained and—.”

“We’re not talking about containment, Listrom,” Dominic interrupted.

“The technology underpinning the Dollhouses is a cancer that can and will be excised,” Adelle said, hand coming to rest lightly on Laurence’s arm. “As with a tumor, Mr. Listrom, surgical precision is required. A hacksaw will not serve.”

“The analogy is very intriguing, Ms. DeWitt,” Listrom said, “but I have my orders.”

“How will you carry out those orders if you have no evidence supporting the case for your take down?” Dominic asked, tone perfectly polite, expression not so much. When Listrom merely waited, Dominic retrieved the small device Topher had given him from the breast pocket of his suit jacket. “A handy little gizmo,” he said, holding it out for inspection, snatching it back when Listrom reached for it. “Have to be careful with it, though,” Dominic cautioned, flipping the pen-sized piece of tech through his fingers deftly. Listrom made another grab for the device. “Oops,” Dominic muttered. “Now look what you made me do. As of right now, you have no evidence that anything untoward happened at this location. None. Not in the NSA system. Not in yours. Not even in those,” he said, gesturing to the bank of computers to their right. “It’s gone.” Smiling at Listrom, Dominic suggested, “Go on, Brandon. Have someone check. While you’re doing that, let me tell you that one more flip of this switch, you lose it all. Everywhere. Foreign and domestic. Even outer space if you had the foresight to back the information up on a satellite.” Glancing to Adelle, Dominic said, “I could never admit it while he was here, but Topher is a genius.”

Adelle leaned her head closer to Dominic’s, ostensibly to get a better look at the device he held, almost resting her chin on his shoulder. Listrom conferred with someone off site via cellular phone, glaring at Dominic all the while. “Are you certain this will work, Laurence?” Adelle murmured directly into his ear.

“I take back the genius comment if it doesn’t.”

He felt her smile. “Understood,” she said.

Listrom deflated. “What do you mean there’s nothing there?” he hissed. “What about the backups? All of them? Are you sure? Are you certain you’re sure?” Color rising, Listrom ordered, “Check the computers at my current location through the remote access protocols.” Two minutes and twelve seconds later, Listrom hung up.

“I run a high end spa, including an exclusive gym and unrivaled yoga instruction,” Adelle said. “We’re a bit understaffed at the moment due to the downturn in the economy, but I’m certain you’ll find all of our paperwork in order.”

“So it would seem, Ms. DeWitt,” Listrom said, narrowed eyes assessing Dominic. “You can do that worldwide, Agent Dominic?”

“Quicker than you can draw your sidearm.”

“Quicker than a bullet?” Listrom asked, smiling like a wolf that has cornered his dinner. He gestured moderately grandly to a younger man positioned close to the bank of computers. The young man’s gun was aimed at Dominic’s chest.

“Maybe,” Dominic said with a slight shrug. “Down,” he commanded. Adelle, Judith and Dr. Saunders dropped to the floor, as Lisa Grayson stepped from behind the computers to disarm the young man. Two of her cohorts moved in to support her and Baxter and Cline entered the area, automatic weapons at the ready. As the initial step in the dance, the one Laurence hadn’t approved, Kyle Beale had stepped in front of Dominic.

“I’d say it’s time to hand over your weapons to these nice people and inform your superiors of your strong recommendation that this operation stay within the purview of the National Security Agency,” Clyde suggested, hands raised as he submitted to being frisked and relieved of his sidearm by Grayson. “Don’t you think, Mr. Listrom?”

Dominic helped Adelle rise, then Judith. When he looked to Saunders, she was already reseated in Topher’s chair, perhaps with Kyle’s assistance. “Ms. Grayson, is it?” Clyde asked. When she nodded, Clyde indicated the right front pocket of his tweed jacket, “May I use my phone or would you rather have a look at it first?” Dominic smiled in approval when Lisa retrieved the phone, examined it briefly yet thoroughly and handed it back to Clyde. The senior NSA man spoke very briefly to whomever he called.

Under a minute later, the personnel sent by the President had been herded into a tight grouping. Listrom spoke into his phone with Clyde right next to him listening to both sides of the conversation. The elevator door opened and a crowd of people rushed out. The men headed for Listrom’s group; the lone woman did not. Lisa Grayson moved to intercept, but halted when Dominic gave an all clear sign. The woman launched herself at Dominic who deftly caught her in a hug that quickly turned fierce. Facing Adelle’s raised eyebrow, Dominic mouthed, “Clarice.”

The woman in question released him, stepped back, took him by the shoulders and shook him somewhat roughly. “Are you all right?” Clarice asked. “Really all right?”

Seeing no need to mention that Topher and Ivy had been leery about removing the thief, saboteur, assassin imprint in addition to the active architecture because of the way his brain had assimilated them, Dominic said, “I’m fine.”

“Damn it, Dominic, you pushed this one every way it could’ve been pushed,” Clarice said, tears welling up in her eyes. “You scared the shit out of me on a daily basis. That can’t be good for my health.”

“Mine either,” Dominic said, turning Clarice slightly to one side. “Clarice, this is Adelle DeWitt. Adelle, Clarice Starke.”

Clarice ignored Adelle’s offered hand and hugged her as well. Adelle’s initial stiffness disappeared when confronted with Clarice’s obvious sincerity. “Thank you for resisting the knee jerk reaction, giving Dominic a chance to show how we might be useful to you and letting the scenario play out.”

The small smile that appeared on Adelle’s face made Dominic uneasy, particularly since it brought a nearly matching one to Clarice’s. “Thank you for assigning him to me,” Adelle said.

Laughing, Clarice followed Dominic’s gaze to the elevator into which the men Clarice had arrived with escorted Mr. Listrom and company. “The Oval wanted a quick win,” Clarice said.

“I’ve given too much of my life to hand Rossum over to anyone else,” Dominic said. “All three of us have.”

“Amen,” Clarice muttered, standing up on her tiptoes to kiss Dominic on the cheek, whispering, “Fair warning, Clyde’s up to something,” into his ear.

“I think I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t,” Dominic muttered. “Pleasantly surprised and disappointed at the same time.”

Nodding, Clarice raised her voice. “I told you Dominic would cover our asses, Clyde. All of your fretting was pointless.”

“Perhaps,” Clyde said, shouldering his way into the group, handing Dominic a thick file folder. “But it never hurts to plan for the worst.”

“What’s this?” Dominic asked, lifting the folder resting on the palm of his hand as if trying to guess its weight.

“You new assignment,” Clyde said, wide and guileless eyes fooling no one.

“My new assignment?” Clyde didn’t flinch in the face of Dominic’s glare or react in any appreciable way to his hard tone. Adelle’s hand came to rest on the small of Laurence’s back and moved in slow circles that might’ve been soothing if Dominic had been in any mood to be soothed. “I’m not finished with this one,” Dominic said.

“As of this moment, you are,” Clyde said.

“No, I’m not.”

“Dominic, take a breath,” Clarice suggested, concern obvious, eyes darting between Dominic and Clyde. “It’s not as bad as it sounds.”

Eyes locked on Clyde, Dominic called forth a cold smile and slid his hand into his suit coat pocket. “Say goodbye to your evidence, Clyde.”

“That would be a mistake of epic proportion,” Clyde said.

“I will not cooperate with the NSA without Laurence in the equation,” Adelle said, gripping Dominic’s bicep with the hand that wasn’t on his back. “It’s as simple as that.”

“He will be in the equation,” Clyde averred. “Just not in his current capacity or using his current identity.”

“Why can Laurence no longer act in his current capacity?” Adelle asked, grip on his arm tightening. Involuntarily, Dominic thought.

“His special project has been concluded, has it not?” Clyde asked, expression a mask of polite inquiry.

“Technically speaking, I suppose it has,” Adelle admitted.

“Rossum isn’t anywhere near secure,” Dominic interjected¸ sensing Clyde was bandying semantics, something he did extremely well. “You can’t send her into a situation in that much flux without personal security.”

“Which she will have in more than adequate number,” Clyde said.

“He’s not exaggerating, Dominic,” Clarice said. “The agency has finally thrown its full weight behind us. She’ll be protected.”

“But will she be safe?” Laurence asked, voice quiet, contemplative. “I doubt it.”

“We’ll do our best to have twenty men match your performance,” Clyde said. “There is little point to arguing, Dominic. The decision’s been made.”

Dominic put a hand to an increasingly aching head. “What aren’t you telling me, Clyde? Why can’t Laurence Dominic run the security detail?”

Sighing, Clyde said, “Because Laurence Dominic allowed himself to be imprinted with Rossum’s illegal technology and must be pulled from this project and put out to pasture, forcibly if need be, in accordance with the powers that be.”

Surprise overtook anger. “You’re serious,” Dominic said. Clyde nodded. “How can I switch identities now and stay in the picture?”

“Because I took precautions all along the way and my preparation paid off handsomely for you, Agent Dominic,” Clyde said.

“Is any of this on the level, Clarice?” Dominic asked, fully expecting her to reply in the code they’d agreed on years ago.

“All of it, Dom,” Clarice whispered. “It’s inspired.”

“What?” Dominic said, stunned by her failure to indicate that Clyde was lying.

“All will become clear, if you would open your mind, close your mouth and allow me to explain,” Clyde said, inclining his head in Adelle’s direction, a gesture of respect, a request for patience or maybe both. “Alternatively, you could take the time to peruse the contents of the folder I gave you.”

“Give me the Reader’s Digest Condensed version, Clyde,” Dominic demanded, glancing at Adelle, squeezing the hand resting on his bicep briefly.

“Do you recall the work you did on stealth technology back in the day?” Clyde asked, eyes alight with what looked like amusement.

“That was a long time ago,” Dominic said, wondering why Clyde was harkening back to his first three or four assignments for the NSA, all of which had involved stealth technology in one form or fashion.

“Do you recall the software/hardware interfaces you designed during the penultimate assignment of your stealth phase?”

“Yes.” When Clyde merely waited, Dominic closed his eyes and thought back. “One stabilized the flow of air over the aircraft. The other masked the heat signature of the engines. In combination, they improved performance of the stealth technology by 50%.”

“Correct.” Clyde stepped forward, intensity demanding everyone’s complete attention. “Have you ever wondered what Laurence Stanford Drake would’ve become had he continued to exist?”

“Not really.”

“Pity.” Clyde shook his head. “I thought you had a better imagination than that.” Inspiration struck, if Clyde’s suddenly raised finger was any indication. “Let me ask a different question,” he said. “What kind of future did you describe to Gabrielle during all of those long walks for which the two of you were famous?”

Feeling Adelle’s eyes on him, Dominic shrugged. “Typical young guy stuff. I’d have my own company some day, make a ton of money and drive a Porsche.”

“Wife?” Clyde prompted. “Children?”

“I left that part of the imaginary future in her capable hands,” Dominic said.

“A trifle more wise than most young men,” Clyde murmured. “What would you say if I told you that Laurence Drake fulfilled those dreams?”

“How is that possible?” Dominic asked, putting an arm around Adelle, the gesture having as much to do with maintaining what he could of his own balance as it did with reassuring her.

“Through the magic of modern technology,” Clyde said, “with the able assistance of three amazingly talented computers programmers in government service.”

“So you’re saying Laurence Drake is a … a construct like Topher’s imprints?” Dominic asked.

“Better than Topher’s imprints,” Clyde said, grinning now. “Laurence Drake has fingerprints, a social security number, a driver’s license, has paid his state and federal taxes, slept with several women, including a couple of reasonably well known actresses, given numerous interviews via various media, has very recently purchased a new house in La Jolla and drives a metallic silver Porsche 911.” Watching Dominic closely, Clyde said, “Laurence Drake started his own business in 1999 and sold it four months ago for $177 million dollars. Hence the new house in La Jolla. The Porsche he’s had since the company went public. He’s about to embark on using the converse of the stealth technology that made him his money to prevent espionage of the governmental or corporate variety by, among other things, foiling devices such as Mr. Brink’s audio-video blockers. He plans on keeping his company lean and mean just like the last time, augmenting his skills and ideas with fresh, young, very hungry minds.” Clasping his hands together, Clyde said, “You stand to make a killing. Another killing, I should say.”

“Clyde, I have no idea what stealth tech looks like these days,” Dominic said. “How in the hell can I modify it to create impenetrable security systems?”

“Really, Dominic, it’s just like riding a bicycle. You’ll be back up to speed in no time.” Clyde turned and beckoned forward a svelte redhead who’d emerged from the elevator two minutes ago and seemed to have enjoyed being checked for weapons by Kyle Beale. “You’ll see to that, won’t you, Nikki, my dear?”

“Of course,” Nikki said.

Laurence heard Adelle sigh as Nikki offered her hand. “Mr. Drake,” Nikki said. “It’ll be my pleasure to be employee number two in your new company.”

“I don’t know that I’ll be starting a new company, Miss …” Nikki has a nice smile.

“Nickolas,” she said. “Nikki is my nickname. My first name is proof my parents didn’t want me.”

“I see,” Dominic said, unable to suppress a slight smile.

“Excuse me, Clyde,” Adelle said. “What has an entrepreneur recently coming into possession of the cash to finance another potentially lucrative venture to do with gaining control of Rossum’s legitimate businesses and running them effectively?”

Clyde beamed at Adelle as though she’d just asked the most important question of the decade. “Laurence Drake joined the Board of Directors of Rossum Corporation eight months ago.” After pausing dramatically and allowing the stunned silence to pervade, Clyde said, “Sadly, the finalization of the sale of his business and moving and such has precluded him from attending the few board meetings in person. He did attend by telephone and his voting record is in the folder.”

“I’m on Rossum’s board?” Dominic muttered. “Why?”

Exchanging a complicated glance with Clarice, Clyde said, “In order to meet a woman you deem worth having on your arm when you move in the social circles in which I need you to move. And, not incidentally, to vote in support of said woman’s plans and policies on a regular basis.” Clyde beamed as Laurence and Adelle regarded each other somewhat warily. “I’ve never created a power couple before. This is very exciting for me.” Clyde frowned and turned to Clarice. “You assured me they would be amenable to the idea.”

“Maybe if you gave them a minute or three to get used to it,” Clarice suggested.

Ignoring the advice, Clyde forged ahead. “The money is real, of course. It would have to be to gain an entre into the social set I desire to access. But, I must caution you, the agency is expecting a return on their investment. You will develop beyond state of the art, sharper than cutting edge security systems and you will market them to governments around the world.”

“So that’s what this is all about,” Dominic muttered. “I should’ve guessed.” Regarding Clyde with a somewhat disgusted form of awe, Dominic said, “You want me to give you a back door into everything, everywhere. You don’t fucking think small do you?”

“Why would I want to think small?” Clyde asked. “Besides, this isn’t really about me, Dominic. It’s about you and your unfinished mission. There will have to be at least one emergency board meeting very soon in which the lovely, green eyed lady beside you will make her case to take over the company on an interim basis to right the ship and select a successor from candidates untainted by this disgraceful interlude in Rossum’s corporate history. A taint which you bear very well, I must say, my dear.” After smiling at Adelle and accepting her incredulous nod in return, Clyde continued, “At that meeting, Laurence Drake will meet Adelle DeWitt and sparks will fly. They will quickly become an item, thus allowing you to provide her a level of personal security when she is on her own time and serve as a sounding board for discussion of all manner of things Rossum. It’s the perfect cover.”

“And these social circles you keep mentioning?” Dominic said.

“The third component of your next assignment is gloriously multi-faceted,” Clyde said. “That folder doesn’t begin to touch it. But that’s fine, because we can’t move forward on that front until you two are established as a couple.” Clyde chuckled softly. “Multi-tasking, Agent Dominic, is a very important skill. I suggest you hone it.”

“If I didn’t know you better, I’d say you were insane, Clyde,” Dominic said.

“It plays, Dom,” Clarice said. “You know it does.”

“But what about Paul Baxter, Casey and whoever else Laurence met while working for Baxter?” Adelle asked. “Surely, they will run in some of the social circles you mention. Perhaps others from previous assignments as well.” Adelle’s eyes flitted between Dominic and Clyde.

“Baxter cooperated with us by employing Agent Dominic,” Clyde said. “There are a few others, Casey Madsen included, who might remember Dominic and move in the circles I plan for the two of you. I have communicated an eminently plausible and readily acceptable cover story to all but the young lady.” Eyes meeting Laurence’s, Clyde said, “Ms. Madsen, I leave to you, Agent Dominic.”

To buy time to think, Dominic scowled. Meeting Adelle’s eyes, he took her hand. “Give us a minute,” he said, striding toward the door, breathing a silent sigh of relief that Adelle moved with him. The moment they left Topher’s former office; the air felt cooler, less stifling and cloying, more breathable somehow. “I didn’t see this coming,” he said.

“Obviously,” Adelle countered, smiling slightly.

“Are you insinuating you did?” he demanded, gripping her shoulders.

“No, but the idea has merit.”

Adelle’s soft gasp called Dominic’s attention to the clenching of his hands. “Sorry,” he muttered, releasing her, thinking better of it and pulling her close. “You actually want to sign on to be my arm candy?”

“Why ever not?”

“Um … because you’re a beautiful, intelligent fascinating woman who has a lot more going on than being seen with a geek that, I sincerely hope, doesn’t look or act too much like one.”

“Perhaps I consider $177 million dollars sufficient inducement?” Smiling openly, Adelle kissed Laurence soundly. Losing himself in the moment, Dominic responded. By the time they parted, his right hand was tangled in her hair and they both were breathing hard. “More likely, I’m addicted to the sex,” she said.

Dominic laughed. “More likely, you’ve hit your head and suffered brain damage, Adelle. Maybe you should see someone before you agree to this. If …” He took a deep breath. “If you’re intending to agree.”

“Are you?”

“I don’t have a choice. I’m out or worse if I don’t play ball.”

“You could resign,” Adelle suggested. “And come and work for me.”

“The NSA won’t allow that,” he muttered. “Clyde’s made that clear.” Suddenly, Adelle looked wistful. “What?” Dominic asked.

“I was just wondering if the NSA and colleagues rounded up everyone from every Dollhouse,” she whispered. “There were a few good people in the mix.” Dominic stared down at his hands. “My turn,” Adelle whispered. “What?”

“I have it on good authority that Evander and his family were here in the States when it all went down. Matt LeClaire wasn’t in Sydney and no one knows where Diana Greeley or Katarina Klem are.”

Adelle kissed him hard on the mouth, forcing his open, tantalizing him with her tongue. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“For what?” he asked.

“For making this the tiniest bit more palatable for me.” Adelle took Laurence’s arm. “Shall we go and tell Clyde and Clarice the good news?”

Dominic’s handler and boss faced them when he and Adelle reentered the room. “You have yourselves a power couple,” Dominic said.

* * *

Two Days Later

“Well done, Adelle,” said a short, balding man in his early seventies, offering Adelle DeWitt a glass of wine.

“Thank you, Charles,” she said, accepting the drink from the well respected businessman, listening to his praise of her elocution while she scanned the crowd milling about after the emergency meeting of the Board of Directors of Rossum Corporation. As she and Clyde had arranged, Adelle had attended the meeting to present a comprehensive plan for moving forward to excise the cancer of the Dollhouses from Rossum’s corporate body. The Board had nearly unanimously voted to appoint her Chief Executive Office for the duration of the challenging restructuring ahead. Laurence had been present and had asked several astute questions concerning the implications on return on investment of shutting down the Dollhouses and he and several other board members had discussed the guidance the company should give Wall Street as to earnings expectations. Through it all, there had been no hint of recognition in those familiar blue eyes. Nor did he scowl or cross his arms in front of him. Adelle had seen nothing she associated with Laurence Dominic. Drake, Adelle reminded herself. His name is Drake.

“Come over here, my boy, and I’ll introduce you,” Charles said, his voice drawing Adelle back from her thoughts. “Adelle, I don’t believe you’ve met Laurence Drake. He’s facile with computers and such.” Leaning forward, speaking in a hushed conspiratorial tone, Charles said, “If it isn’t health care related, I’m lost, but he’s done quite well for himself at whatever it is he does.”

“Ms. DeWitt,” Laurence said, extending his hand.

Taking it in both of hers, she said, “Adelle.”

Evincing surprised pleasure at the gesture, he recovered charmingly awkwardly. “Laurence,” he muttered. “I’m Laurence.”

“I told you Rossum would end up controlled by a woman when all was said and done,” Charles said, tapping Laurence on the shoulder.

“That surprises you, Laurence?” Adelle asked, finally releasing his hand.

“Not really,” Laurence said, eyes not quite meeting hers. “But CNN and the print media consistently touted Alistair Kincaid and Raymond Brayburn as the top candidates.” Risking a quick glance at her face, he said, “I’d never heard of you before today.”

Enjoying Laurence’s performance more than she should, Adelle asked, “Were you impressed enough to vote for me?”

Blue eyes capturing hers, he murmured, “I was very impressed, Adelle.”

A pulse of desire flowed through her. She took a sip of wine to mask the self-consciousness that appeared in its wake. “I’m pleased I didn’t disappoint.”

“My dear, you could speak in tongues and fail to disappoint,” Charles said. “One of the many benefits of physical beauty in combination with an agile mind.” Kissing her on the cheek, he said, “Do excuse me, Adelle. I’ll catch hell at home if I don’t pay my respects to Millicent.”

“Of course, Charles,” Adelle said. “It’s good to see you well.”

“I have a few decent years left, or so my doctors tell me.” Shaking hands with Laurence, he said, “Pleasure to finally meet you face to face, Drake.”

“You too, sir.” Charles waved as he waded off into the crowd. “How are you?” Laurence asked.

“I’m holding up.” Gazing sidelong at him with a wry smile, she asked, “How is Nikki?”

“Scary smart and very funny.” Smiling at Adelle’s noise of displeasure, he added, “If she weren’t an unrelenting slave driver when it comes to my learning the latest in stealth and security tech, we might actually get along.”

“I think I shall suggest to Clyde that she’s not challenging you sufficiently,” Adelle said, smiling at the chuckle she drew from Laurence, trying to hold onto the pleasant warmth his proximity provided as the two female members of the board approached.

“Would it be too forward to ask you to have dinner with me?” Laurence asked the moment the women ventured within earshot, effectively halting them in their tracks.

“When?” Adelle asked, enjoying the startled looks of their audience of two.

“Tonight,” he said, turning startled into speculative.

“I believe such an invitation to be more bold than forward,” Adelle said, rewarding him with a heartfelt smile for forestalling what would undoubtedly have been a challenging interlude with the always combative, female board members.

“Does bold appeal to you, Adelle?” Laurence asked, stepping closer.

“Almost as much as reckless and dangerous, Laurence,” Adelle said, closing half of the remaining distance between them.

Smiling what could only be called boyishly, Laurence asked, “Shall I send a car for you at seven?”

“That would be splendid.”

* * *

A Few Hours Later

Laurence Dominic, currently doing business as Laurence Drake, sipped an excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and relaxed back into a pile of pillows with Adelle DeWitt snuggled next to him. Adelle’s hand moved restlessly on his naked chest in the aftermath of a very satisfying interlude where taking their time had been the order of the evening once they’d made it to the bedroom. After a time, Adelle changed tactics and drew complicated shapes on his body with her forefinger. He forgot to breathe the in the face of the smile she bestowed on him when he offered her a drink from his glass, rather than forcing her to reach, or more likely climb, over him to retrieve hers from the end table on his side of the king-sized bed.

“Once word of this night gets out, my reputation will be a shambles,” Adelle said. Laurence smiled as she gripped his wrist lightly to guide his hand and allow her to sip his drink without risking wine stained sheets. “Many would think it unbecoming of a newly appointed CEO to take a man she’s just met to bed.”

“You didn’t take me; I took you,” he said. Adopting the British accent Judith had praised what seemed like a long time ago, Laurence said, “There is a distinction.” He laughed with Adelle, set his wine glass down and kissed her. Adelle’s arms slid around his neck and she shifted, so her chest rested against his.

“I can’t stop touching you,” she whispered, running a hand through his hair.

“I’m not complaining.”

Adelle sighed and adopted a somewhat stern expression. “Don’t you find it at least a trifle embarrassing that we ate not a bite of the meal you had brought in from a posh restaurant before heading to the bedroom?” When he shrugged, she kissed him lightly. “Nor did I receive a tour of what is undoubtedly a lovely home, if the entry and this room are in any way indicative. I never realized I was so … easy.”

Something inside Laurence clenched when the word “home” passed Adelle’s lips. Ignoring it, he said, “You aren’t easy; you know what you want.” He smiled. “As Topher might say, ‘Again with the distinction.’”

“Even so,” Adelle said.

He grinned. “Adelle,” he whispered, tempting her slightly closer. “I won’t tell.” Damn, I like hearing her laugh.

“See that you don’t, Mr. Drake,” she said, tapping him on the nose. “How ever could I trust you if you disclosed my weakness so soon in our association?”

“You’re just after me for my money,” he asserted, enjoying the shiver that worked its way through her body as his hand meandered down her back to her ass. “You watch. That’s what everyone will say.”

“Everyone will be wrong,” Adelle said, shaking her head. “If it isn’t obvious to you, it should be. I want you for you body.”

Nodding his head, he muttered, “I see.” After making a show of deep thought, he said, “Go ahead and objectify me, Adelle. I’ll try not to take your newly developed shallowness too seriously. I wouldn’t mind spending money on you, though,” Laurence said, caressing her ass, kissing her throat. “I think it’d be fun to buy you things.” Laughing, he said, “I could start by replacing the blouse I ruined a whileback.”

“Don’t worry about the blouse.” Adelle tilted her head to grant easier access to the column of her throat. “I wasn’t par … partial to it.”

“You taste good,” he murmured. Flexing the fingers of his caressing hand, “You feel good too.” Lifting his head to look her in the eye, he said, “The whole situation does.” To her quizzical look, he said, “You here with me like this. Adelle, you belong naked in this bed in this house.”

“I like this room,” she admitted, gazing at the masculine yet warm and inviting décor. “Someone went to some trouble with the colors, furniture and accents.”

“Clarice, I imagine,” he muttered. “You’re comfortable here?”

“Decidedly so,” Adelle whispered. “Aren’t you?”

“I am,” Laurence said. “That’s what’s weird about this.”

“I don’t understand.”

“This place, the whole house, feels like … home. I think.” He retrieved his wine and offered her the first sip which she took with a pleased smile. “I’ve never really had one.”

“A home?” Adelle asked, obviously startled.

“My father was in the military. We moved all the time. I transferred from UNC to Purdue in my junior year, so I didn’t even settle at college. The NSA has been a series of assignments in different places all over the world.” Laurence drained his wine glass and traded it for the one he’d originally poured for Adelle. “The Dollhouse assignment was the longest I’d had and I spent more time in the House than at my condo. But this …” He gestured around the room. “This … suits me, I suppose you’d say. I can’t tell you why, but I feel it.”

“Perhaps you’re ready to make a home, Laurence.”

“Maybe I am.” Resting together with the bed clothes in disarray around them, Laurence and Adelle sipped wine from the same glass as the sun went down.

THE END (EXCEPT FOR AN EPILOGUE)


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AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW

That ending was so sweet, heartfelt, and at the same time so them. I like that they're at least considering the concept of making a home. After all they've been through, they deserve some peace.

Mama and Papa bear :D Love!!!!


"I’m aware of that, Laurence, but I don’t want to enter the next phase of my career—whatever precise form it may take—with a private army."

-This is really sticking it to Joss well done! You eliminated the pessimism of taking down a nefarious organization, and you were realistic about it. When you look at the facts, Rossum, did some good on their other fronts. Taking them down with a hacksaw (as you so colorfully put it :D ) would have done more harm than good.

I also like how you let go of Topher and Ivy. They totally deserved to keep their minds and continue using their talents.

I like the way you handled Echo. It's totally her choice if she wants to go with Alpha. And if that said choice just happens to bury her in oblivion then so be it.



"...Some people say that I want you for your money, but I really want you for your body..."

-I loved it when you used this line. :D Dollsome's a great video artist. When I heard lights on, I totally believed that Adelle could deliver this line.



"Clarice ignored Adelle’s offered hand and hugged her as well. Adelle’s initial stiffness disappeared when confronted with Clarice’s obvious sincerity. “Thank you for resisting the knee jerk reaction, giving Dominic a chance to show how we might be useful to you and letting the scenario play out.”

-You have this gift of making your characters say what most of us are actually thinking. I too am glad she didn't pull an episode 9 reaction. Adelle, assessed the situation, and made a decision that greatly benefited all. I'd expect nothing less from the level headed business woman we all know she is.



“What do you want, Adelle?” he asked. Chuckling softly, Dominic said, “No, no, no, no. What do you need?”

-A re-worked show line, that's like super A+ in my books. I really like how this one came out, all that was missing was the pretty little princess reference. :P or not. This is perfect, actually.



But seriously, this was a beautiful ending. Not at all what I expected, yet so fitting and right at the same time. I don't know how you're going to top it with an epilogue, since you really outdid yourself here. But I have nothing but high hopes. I've read clear evidence of how you continuously make each installment just as, if not more, entertaining than the last.



That is a lot of Ws. So I guess I've done fairly well, then. I wanted a "happy ending" but I also wanted it to fit them. I'm relieved it worked. I'm not so sure it will be peaceful, but they do seem to be content together.

I think my favorite Topherism is "All armed and properly deferential. I think I'm beginning to understand this relationship."

As to moving forward without a private army, I just thought it made sense. We've taken out the bits of Rossum that were causing the problems. Now it's time to get on with the business of the rest of the corporation.

Topher and Ivy could possibly get into more trouble if not "guided" somewhat. And Echo had to go her own way. I never liked the Caroline personality, so this was my way of doing away with her.

That Light's On fanvid was particularly inspiring.

I hadn't thought about it that way, but I suppose Clarice thanks Adelle for all of us who thought things would've gone differently/better if Dom wasn't shipped off to the attic.

I don't even want to contemplate a pretty princess reference. It kind of calls this to mind. "Here's my dress to try on, baby. Let me be your man."

The epilogue goes a bit further out on a limb than this. I'm not really sure of it, but I figured, why not?

I'm glad this was a fitting conclusion (epilogue or not). It took me a while to figure out how to end it--bring down Rossum themselves or rely on the NSA and, if the latter, how much should they rely on the NSA. I felt this was reasonably realistic. I won't mention how much sleep I lost trying to figure out the where do we go from here bit. The whole power couple idea came out of the blue.

Thanks for reading!

Ws rock! :P

"Here's my dress to try on, baby. Let me be your man."
-LOL, that would've said something. So many good quotes from that song.


I agree with darling_ashes (I'm glad we're on the same page :D)--Judith, was a great reference in the show, but you made me love her here. It's interesting how a character we've never even seen on-screen, can be so memorable.


This power couple works. And we have you to thank, for taking them on such an awesome adventure. Now that it's finished, I hope you can catch up on some sleep before knocking us dead with a kick ass epilogue.


Cheers mate! :D

That quote is the only disturbing one.

I'm so glad I was able to give life to Judith (who does appear in the epilogue.

The whole power couple thing made me realize that I could have just gone on with this indefinately. B/c there's a lot to establish them as a couple and all of the things Clyde expects Laurence to do--both as head of his new company and on the social scene.

I'm nervous about the epilogue. I admit it. So I'm dragging my feet as to the editing.

osage111 stole my comment. ;)

This chapter was phenominal!

I loved the ending, Adelle and Laurence managed to have (somewhat with the espionage) of a normal existance in creating a home and being openly together and happy in the public setting. Plus, I love that it's all NSA approved! Win-win!

I loved the happy and laughing shower sex (I'm a sucker for my OTP happy).

I also loved (it's all love in this comment) that Clarice both hugged and thanked Adelle for remaining level-headed towards Dominic's working for the NSA, especially considering that this is a woman who doesn't take betrayal lightly (I actually strongly believe that if Adelle didn't send Dominic to the Attic then Epitaph 1 and 2 would have never occurred).

Plus, hurray for Adelle keeping Judith as her assistant in her new business ventures. I adore Judith on a regular basis but you made me love her.

There is love all around for this chapter.

Would you have used quite so many Ws?:)

Thank you for the kind words and I'm glad the ending tracked for you. Indeed, completely NSA-backed and approved (at least for now).

It's difficult to write this pair happy, so I'm particularly gratified that the happy bits came through. After the last bit of sex I shared with everyone, I thought going a bit lighter hearted was called for--to put the passage of time in perspective as well as to give a window as to where they had progressed.

I agree completely that Adelle and Dominic together could've stopped the Thoughtpocalypse. Although, I suppose that's obvious since I just wrote this this way.

Judith has a role to play in the Epilogue as well. I've enjoyed her.

Thanks for reading!

Oh, it was so lovely and satisfying.
I really enjoyed the idea of Clyde recruiting Adelle for NSA related activities and making it so that she and Laurence can be together. His glee at creating a 'power couple' that would give him a window on all manner of things was all too evident.

I love the role reversal element in this, where Laurence gets to be the one with money and maybe, at some point, Adelle will be the eye candy. I think he needs that and it made me wonder what she will actually do next - since Rossum CEO is obviously an interim measure.

Their 'meeting' was just perfect as well - I even liked the subtle difference that Laurence Drake doesn't scowl or cross his arms and that I didn't worry that this was another part he was having to play - and apparently neither did Adelle.

At the end, when they were in bed and she says this to him
“How ever could I trust you if you disclosed my weakness so soon in our association?”
That was the clincher for me in terms of how far they've both come in this. Bravo.

Thank you for the kind words. I came to enjoy the concept of Clyde as the story progressed (I think he will play a larger role in the reimagined version of this story). I believe Clyde, not being stupid and seeing the handwriting on the wall, realized he'd have a mutiny on his hands if he didn't figure out a way for Dominic to stay in the picture (both from Dom and Adelle). So, in fine manipulative fashion, he made it work on so many levels, the powers that be won't be able to deny the benefit of what he's set in motion.

The role reversal is kind of fun. It gives Laurence a bit more to offer (to his mind), but I think it's charming that he still wonders what she sees in him. What will she do next? I may touch on that in the epilogue.

I was worried when I decided to have them "meet" on the page. How would it come off? Can I separate Drake from Dominic? Making Drake less moody and slightly shy until he makes up his mind about things seemed to work. Glad I'm not the only one who thought so. I'd hoped that Adelle accepting him at more or less face value would allow others to do so as well.

Reestablishing trust took (so far) 119,000 words. Oy!

Thanks for reading and helping me think about this!

I meant to say (and this made me smile) this is pretty much what Adelle was planning to do all along - it's what all those men in her life were for. To get her to the point where she was going to marry someone of use to Rossum - it's been turned around a little and she is in charge of Rossum as well - at least for the moment. Maybe laurence should make sure Juliet is really dead?


LOL! Are you, by chance, insinuating that Laurence has not already verified that Juliet is really dead?:)

Perhaps you are correct in that Adelle has somehow finally fulfilled her plans, just not exactly in the way she envisioned them.

I'll assume Laurence took time out of his busy schedule to check Juliet was dead - proving he can already multi-task. Though maybe he was disappointed to discover Rossum had indeed disposed of her, he did say the visual image of the two of them intrigued him and that he wouldn't mind watching someone else make Adelle scream. I'm not sure that is still true by the way...

I think Laurence has moved beyond his initial impressions of Juliet. Events have certainly transpired between then and now.

By the way, Laurence assigned that task (the verifying) to a minion but he double checked the information personally.

Good to know. I am still amused that Adelle has indeed done what she set out to do, in terms of choosing an appropriate partner. Albeit in a characteristically serpentine manner.

I'm not sure Adelle knows how to do things in a straightforward way. Or maybe that is simply too boring for her?

(Deleted comment)
Thanks, once again, for reading and taking the time to say so. The journey was amazingly enjoyable to write. Particularly after a while when the characters have changed due to what's happened to them in ways they weren't able to on the show. I'm thrilled that the ending is believable and hope the epilogue doesn't muck things up too much.

I suppose, sometimes, it does pay to demand a sequel (or 17).:)

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