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Road Trip Part 7/12
damien listening guitar
Title: Road Trip Part 7/12
Rating: R (language and sexual situations)
Author: morgan72uk and rogoblue
Summary: Dominic retrieves the Jeep and Adelle offers her services to the caravan.

She thought about Gavin’s strictures - the contribution of material goods and time in particular and wondered if he realised the potential for abuse and exploitation in the way he had formulated them. There had to be ways to refine the system so that people had an incentive to contribute and also to maximise their trading - an incentive beyond their ongoing safety.

Laurence returned while she was still musing on some options and determining that she needed to find out more about how the system worked. He was bearing two bowls and a large tumbler. From the pocket of his jacket he produced an apple and she sighed happily at the thought of fresh fruit but then her eyes widened when she realised the tumbler contained alcohol.

Laurence hesitated and looked concerned suddenly, “should I have brought this?”

“Given the likely absence of pain killing medication it was an excellent decision,” she replied - even though she knew that wasn’t what he meant. “I can handle a little alcohol Laurence. I’m not feeling the need to seek oblivion just at the moment.” The drink was shockingly harsh and she didn’t think she would have much difficulty in restraining herself. If she couldn’t find anything else to do while she was stuck here maybe she would track down whoever was responsible for the still and suggest a few improvements.

Warming to her subject she wondered if the caravan’s route passed back towards California. If there were no use for her at Safe Haven maybe she would hitch a ride as far as the wine country, see if she could find an abandoned vineyard and try her hand as a vitner. If ever there was a time when decent alcohol was needed this was surely it.

People milled around and as her eyes became accustomed to what she was seeing she began to realise just how many liaisons were taking place. As she watched she could see couples leaving the main area and heading for the vehicles or, more often, towards the copse of trees at the southern tip of the camp. She gathered that a certain amount of sex was al fresco.

As she watched another group head towards the stream something else occurred to her. “I take it the bathing arrangements are - rudimentary?”

“It’s a stream, there are probably a couple of spots that are more private than others. Not everyone likes the idea of bathing in full view of the rest of the camp. In the winter they sometimes heat water for baths if it’s really cold.”

“It should be possible to rig up a way of pumping water and setting up some showers,” she mused.

“Communal showering, where have I seen that before?” Her smile was forestalled by a shiver, which he noticed despite her efforts at concealment. His jacket was quickly draped across her shoulders and he eased her gently back to lean against him. “Better?”

“Yes,” as fed up as she was at being grateful at the same time she relished the closeness, the way her body moulded against his and the subtle movement of his body that meant she could rest her head on his shoulder. She forced herself not to get too ahead of herself - in all likelihood he wasn’t thinking beyond making sure she was warm and comfortable.

“Gavin organises the caravan as though it is a military organisation,” she said - glancing up to see Laurence shrug.

“It’s worked so far.”

“This is a community, not treating it as such could be a miscalculation.”

“You wouldn’t be thinking of offering him the benefit of your advice, would you?” Was she? She hadn’t entirely decided yet.

“Do you think Gavin would resent taking advice from a woman?”

“I think that depends on the woman.” He took a sip from the tumbler they were sharing, “there’d probably be some resistance - depends on how radical the advice is I suppose. But we’re only going to be here until you recover, why bother?”

“So I can remind myself that I have a use beyond Topher’s attachment to me.”

“You’ve fought off a couple of pheromonals, killed one of the men Rossum sent after us; you have a use Adelle.”

“I was hoping for something more than being able to improvise and shoot straight - although I imagine those skills will continue to come in useful.”

“‘You got that right.” She watched him, gauging his reaction. From the distant look in his eyes he was still thinking about it. She followed his gaze across the camp - watching as a laughing young woman with bright red hair led a man towards the trees - apparently Haley had a ready supply of admirers. From his sigh she gathered Laurence had seen them but Adelle never had the sense that his attention had wavered from her. “Do whatever you need to,” he said. “Gavin’s rigid, but he’s not an idiot - he’ll accept help when it comes from someone with your skill and expertise.

* * *

“What are you thinking, Laurence?” Adelle DeWitt asked, sipping from their much diminished tumbler of alcohol, breaking a companionable silence.

“Why do you assume I’m thinking anything in particular?” Dominic asked, holding out his hand for the tumbler. “I could go for a little more of this, a couple of rolls and some cheese—they make a decent cheddar here and the provolone isn’t bad either. You?”

“That sounds lovely,” Adelle said, smiling over her shoulder at him, pulling his jacket more tightly around her.

“Why not put it on and zip it up?” he suggested, poised to help her do just that. “It’s getting colder.” Her nod gave him permission to help her into his jacket.

There wasn’t a line anymore, so Dominic swooped in and got what he’d promised Adelle, securing an orange since none had been available when he’d passed the buffet-style set up last time. When he placed the food and tumbler in front of Adelle, she asked, “What were you thinking before?”

“Why are you pushing that question?” he asked, genuinely curious.

“Because you tensed up immediately when I asked,” she said. Tilting her head as if that would help her interpret his grin, she asked, “What are you thinking now?”

He laughed. “That you look good in my clothes.” He laughed again when Adelle glanced down at herself.

“And before?”

Dominic took a deep breath. “Not very charitable thoughts, given that Gavin took us in.”

“Such as?” she prompted, pushing the tumbler toward him.

The alcohol ripped down his throat. “If my information is correct, he’s trying to maneuver Haley into a quote-unquote established relationship with a guy she has little interest in. To set her and her ostensibly perfect life up as some sort of example. She won’t go for it and if he pushes, she’ll push back. If he pushes too hard, she’ll leave and that would devastate him. She’s been the only link he’s had to her mother for nearly twenty years.” Taking a larger swig of alcohol, Dominic rested his hand on Adelle’s back. “Gavin’s wife died of breast cancer at twenty-seven.” He met Adelle’s eyes. “Haley isn’t her mother. The world isn’t like it was back then. He can’t expect her to live up to his image of his wife. To make her try might just destroy them both.” The amazement on Adelle’s face made him laugh again. “You aren’t the only one who can read people a little,” he said.

“It wasn’t just about the sex, then,” Adelle said, nibbling a wedge of orange delicately. “Haley talked to you.”

“We talked, yeah.” He smiled and broke a roll in half. “She needed someone to talk to.”

“Most women do,” Adelle offered.

“What about you?” he asked. “Is conversation high on your priority list?”

“Communication is,” Adelle said. “A relationship lacking that capacity would be ... ultimately quite empty.”

A smile tugged at his lips. “But you could tolerate a monosyllable vocabulary for a wild weekend of sex?”

“Are you offering?” she countered, smiling up at him over the tumbler.

Offering? Me? “It’s only Tuesday,” Dominic said, trying for nonchalant. “Who knows what Friday evening might bring?” Their eyes locked.

“Fuck you, Matt!” cried a sharp voice. “Take your shit elsewhere! Now!”

“Or what, Ian?”

The man Dominic had talked to in line gestured toward a much larger guy with an empty tumbler. Damn it, Matt. How much have you had? “Excuse me,” he muttered to Adelle. Arriving at Matt’s side a couple of heartbeats before two other men flanked Ian, Dominic hissed, “Stand the fuck down, Matt.”

“He made fun of Geraldine,” Matt said.

Who the fuck? Oh yeah, Matt’s ridiculous excuse for a car. “Who cares?” Dominic said. “The only opinion of Geraldine that matters is yours.” Turning Matt away, Dominic said, “C’mon, I’ll introduce you to Adelle.”

“Your Brit?” Matt breathed, enthusiasm building visibly.

“The vehicle’s a disgrace,” Ian said. “It’s an insult to my Harley to ride with it.”

Matt lunged for Ian. Dominic caught him by the collar of his jacket. The guy to Ian’s left laughed and Matt went insane. Taking him down with a clean tackle, Dominic held Matt down. “Go,” he ordered Ian. When Ian didn’t move, Dominic turned to the man to Ian’s right. “Get him the hell out of here.”

“You don’t get it, do you?” Ian said. “We,” he gestured to himself and then to the other men, “are going to fuck you up.”

“While I’d enjoy watching you try, I think this has gone more than far enough.” Gavin Montgomery strode into the middle of the fray. “Aren’t there enough enemies to fight without making ones of each other?” he asked, sounding decidedly put upon.

Dominic stood, pulling Matt up with him. “He’s got a piss ant car,” Ian said.

“And you have the intelligence of a mosquito,” Gavin said. “You don’t see the rest of us berating you for it.” Sighing, he waved in a group of armed men in khaki. “Lock them up,” he said.

“Dom was trying to break it up, Gavin,” said a tall, dark haired man. Softer, yet audibly, he added, “Don’t be an ass.”

Gavin met Dominic’s eyes. “Do what you need to do to make your point,” Dominic muttered. “But I’m carrying Adelle back first.” Without more, he turned back to their table. “I’m sorry,” he murmured to Adelle. “Take the plate and the tumbler. Topher might like some cheese or orange.”

“He’ll eat the rolls,” Adelle said, concerned eyes seeking his when he lifted her. “He craves starches. What is he going to do to you?”

“I’m not sure,” he admitted. “The punishments vary.” Tightening his hold on her briefly, he said, “I doubt I’ll be waterboarded.”

“If they try, shoot to kill,” she said, surprising a laugh out of him.

“You recommend that I don’t cooperate,” he said, expression and tone serious.

“I do,” she said. “Nothing about that was your fault.”

“You could argue that I drew the fourth and fifth men into it,” he said.

“I don’t believe that and neither do you,” Adelle said, looking more regal than anyone had any right to while being carried around. “This is about Haley.”

“It’s also about authority,” Dominic whispered.

Adelle’s expression was puzzled. “But Gavin is the authority here.”

“You said it before, Adelle. This isn’t a military organization. It’s a community existing in a frightening environment. It’s not about chain of command, as much as Gavin wants it to be.”

Understanding shown in her eyes. “It’s about the ability to survive in this environment,” she said. “And I can’t imagine many people are better at that than you.”

“I’m sorry to have to leave you alone tonight,” he said, stepping carefully into the hospital truck. “We brought more food, Topher.” Settling Adelle on her bed, he retrieved the bottle of boosters from his jacket pocket and took one, watching Adelle blanch as he washed it down with alcohol. Putting his gun in her hands, he murmured, “Shoot straight if you have to, Adelle.”

“I’ll endeavor not to disappoint, Laurence.”

* * *

Laurence Dominic pulled himself up into the hospital truck, profound weariness waging a mock battle with, biting cynicism. All he really wanted was a corner to sit in and to stop thinking. What he’d get was a couple of boosters and an excursion into enemy territory to retrieve his Jeep.

“Are you all right, Laurence?”

He jumped at Adelle DeWitt’s voice. She sat on her bed, propped up by pillows, Topher at her feet like an acolyte, attention focused solely upon her. “I’m fine,” he muttered, spotting his jacket hanging on the back of the truck’s only chair.

“Take off your T-shirt, please.”

Stopping when he reached his jacket, Dominic glanced over his shoulder at Adelle. “Why would I want to do that?”

“Because I asked nicely.”

Something in her expression eased a measure of Dominic’s tension. He stared at her, endeavoring to put a name to it. The only thing he could come up with was concern that struck him as genuine, but his instincts insisted it was more than that. Gritting his teeth, he pulled the T-shirt over his head as though the maneuver didn’t hurt like a son of a bitch. Her sharp gasp at the sight of his back inspired Dominic to turn around and allow Adelle to see that the bruising was more or less evenly distributed. While Adelle regarded him thoughtfully, Dominic popped two boosters.

“What are you doing?” she demanded. “You need to rest.”

“I need to get away from here for a while,” Dominic said. The skepticism radiating from Adelle demanded that he explain. “Believe me, I don’t like leaving the two of you, but I don’t have a choice. Gavin felt the need to assert his authority over me and, if I stay here, I’m going to have to make it clear that I chose to recognize it to preserve my independent status. Neither of us really wants that.”

“So you leave to establish your independent status,” Adelle whispered, nodding her head but Dominic wasn’t sure if the gesture connoted agreement. “If Mr. Montgomery is suitably dismissive of your action, your differing points of view can be preserved.” Meeting Dominic’s eyes, Adelle asked, “Is this posturing necessary?”

“Gavin forced my hand, Adelle.”

“How much pain are you in?” she asked.

“It’s manageable.” Smiling slightly, he said, “May I put my shirt back on now?” Choosing to interpret her vague hand gesture as permission, Dominic winced as he dressed, grateful his head was inside the shirt when he did. “When he finds out I’ve gone, Gavin will assign you someone. My money’s on the Kyle guy he seems to like. Don’t tell him anything you don’t want Gavin to know.” Dominic closed his eyes. “I don’t need to tell you that. Sorry, Adelle, it was a long night.”

“Does the issue of authority arise every time you stop here,” she asked.

“In some form or fashion,” Dominic admitted, approaching to look Adelle over. “How are you feeling?”

“Annoyed with the attempt at a subject change at this juncture.”

Dominic laughed. “This,” he said, gesturing toward his chest, “version of a slap down was more intense than usual.”

“Because of Haley?”

“Because of Haley. Because of Rossum. Because he was in a bad mood. I don’t know, Adelle. Nor do I particularly care.” Puzzled by the urge to explain, Dominic continued, “I need to retrieve the Jeep. I want us to have freedom of movement within the confines of the caravan if we need it. That I’d hoped to put this off until you were a bit further down the road to recovery changes none of that.”

“Understood,” Adelle said.

“Good,” Dominic murmured, not questioning the relief coursing through him. “Is there anything I need to know about what’s in your packs? I want to be able to tell if Rossum planted anything in them.”

* * *

“Is there anything I need to know about what’s in your packs?” Unfortunately the answer to that question had been rather more complicated than, ‘all of my worldly possessions.’

She grimaced, remembering how a simple question had exposed her to a vulnerability that she was already finding tedious. Topher, of course, had no idea what was in his luggage and was even less interested in discussing it. He’d wandered back to his nest of blankets, leaving her to face a man who looked so weary that she immediately regretted being the cause of further trouble.

Laurence had been aghast at the news that when he had abandoned the Jeep to go to her aid he had effectively left a data chip containing Topher’s research in Rossum’s hands. The knowledge that whoever was pursuing them had no idea that it was in her possession in the first place and, even if they had found it, had no idea what it contained was of very little comfort.

His surprise had quickly given way to annoyance – though even that had been dialled down. Perhaps because he was too honest to deny that her position, especially when it came to Caroline, demanded whatever advantage she could garner.

At the time, carrying a copy of Topher’s research into the lion’s den that was Safe Haven had seemed a good idea, a bargaining chip for a woman whose losing streak was a mile wide. But with Rossum at their heels that good idea had become almost idiotically reckless and she wasn’t surprised that he was angry – angry with her and angry with himself for not asking the question earlier, probably even angry that on some level he understood her motivation.

As a consequence his departure had been quiet, but weighted down with the things they hadn’t said. She’d held back an apology – she wasn’t sorry for trying to find a way to survive the maelstrom. Her only regret was its potential for coming between them.

Rest had proved impossible afterwards and she’d welcomed Topher’s demands for a few hours, followed by the arrival of Gavin Montgomery’s chosen watch-dog. As Laurence had so accurately predicted it was a young man who’d introduced himself as Kyle Monroe and who insisted on calling her ma’am.

Gavin really should have spent more time thinking about who he was assigning to keep an eye on her, or perhaps he had considered the rather unimaginative Monroe equal to the task he’d been set. That error was one she happily exploited, since Kyle was not even close to being a challenge for her skills. It had taken her about 10 minutes to persuade him that she had been advised to exercise her injured leg and that the best way to do so was to have him accompany her on a tour of the camp. Rather less time had been needed to persuade him to start guilelessly telling her more than his commander would like about the way things were run.

It had helped that she had stayed safely away from subjects such as security and the maintenance of discipline, that she had smiled at him while they talked of innocuous matters and made him believe she was listening to his opinions – something else very few people apparently did.

He was harmless but rather unprepossessing; loyal, polite, good looking in an obvious way that she was neither young nor old enough to appreciate. The kind of perfect son-in-law a man who didn’t want to try to understand his daughter would dream up. Adelle was relieved that Haley had the good taste not to be interested in him. She would have been unaccountably insulted on Laurence’s behalf if the woman who had seduced him had even looked twice at this second rate juvenile lead.

Her injury meant their progress was conveniently slow, with frequent stops to rest; which gave her plenty of opportunity to talk to the people who were busily going about their daily business. It was surprising quite how often she was greeted as ‘Dominic’s Brit’ – as though that fact alone gave her status among the far too many people who seemed to know who he was and were able to recount tales of his exploits.

She remembered how he’d reacted to Junior’s men telling stories about him, understanding now that if he was shy that really had been as close to his worst nightmare as it was possible to get outside the Attic. Although she hadn’t wanted him gone today, she was relieved he wasn’t within earshot for this. On top of that she wasn’t in the mood to appreciate being defined as the lesser half of a non-existent relationship, dreamt up by a man with a temper, control issues and an axe to grind.

But people were keen to talk to an interested newcomer and she’d learnt a lot from her conversations; learnt how the caravan operated, what some people did and didn’t do – and about how Gavin and his behaviour was viewed; including his recent focus on Dominic.

When Sergei insisted that she rest her leg she allowed herself to be found a seat in a shady patch. It was a perfect vantage point from which to observe the comings and goings of the trading activity, to watch and learn while ostensibly reading a book that had been found to keep her occupied.

“You are a dangerous woman,” Sergei observed to her in Russian when she finally returned to the truck with a late lunch. The insight was a surprising one – especially since the observation was made without rancour and with something approaching amusement, “just remember who did such a good job of looking after you.”

“I’m not here to cause trouble,” she told him, meaning what she said – because actually what she wanted to do was help.

“I doubt you have to try, beautiful women who aren’t afraid of power always cause trouble.”

It was probably fortunate that Topher had chosen that moment to creep out from his bed, to tell her something apparently vital about quarks and quasers that she made a valiant attempt to follow. They discussed physics for a while – mostly Topher, who veered between completely rational and total gibberish, until he started telling her some more of the details that Laurence had shared with him of Bennett’s staff file.

“Has Dom left us?” Topher asked quietly, his eyes sad and a little scared. “Was it my fault?”

“No sweetheart – of course he hasn’t left us.” She patted his hand comfortingly, “he had to go and get the Jeep, make sure Rossum hasn’t left us any surprises.”

“I like surprises.”

“Not these kind.” She pushed the plate towards him, ignoring the fact that she’d scarcely eaten anything. “Try to eat a little more, please. Mr. Dominic will be back as soon as he is sure there’s nothing Rossum can use to find us here, he wants us to be safe.”

The price of that safety was the only thing she’d had to offer Caroline.

She’d locked the research away in the first, dark days following the blanket signal – wanting no one to have access to it, trying hard to forget she knew of its existence. It was a reminder of who she’d been then, a woman who’d played bad hands well and might, after all, do so again.

But the risk that Rossum could have doctored the chip, could have added a way to track them was too great. They couldn’t take the risk – certainly not just to make sure she still had a move to make in this game. Without it she had nothing of value to offer, nothing of use apart from Topher’s attachment to her and her attachment to him. She had very few illusions about that being enough.

* * *

Driving well below what had been the posted speed limit, Laurence Dominic rubbed tired eyes. Fortunately with respect to staying between the lines and on the road, his mind wouldn’t let up. Ok, I killed the guy guarding the Jeep. Searched the damn campsite he’d set up for anything that might be relevant. Removed three tracking devices, an audio pickup and a small bomb from the Jeep. Found Adelle’s damn data chip. Found Topher’s beloved Obi-Wan Kenobi action figures. Didn’t find a goddamn sniper rifle. So there’s at least one more person out there. Which meshes with Hannah’s information. She said eight. If I count Topher’s sort of girlfriend, one more works. But does she count? And who’s to say Rossum hasn’t loosed more hounds? I would have, if I were them.

“Fuck!” Dominic snarled, driving past the dirt road leading to the caravan. Fighting for calm, he executed a ferocious three point turn and barely resisted the urge to floor it into the compound. Why give Gavin another excuse to take a pound of flesh? Holding onto the goal of being somewhere he could sit and allow his mind to drift for a while, Dominic kept to a reasonable speed and maneuvered the Jeep into an appropriate parking place within Gavin’s perimeter. He cursed when he bumped the knee he’d injured near the beginning of this mission as he jumped down from the Jeep. Tomorrow, I’m going to have to sweet talk Haley into giving me a good price for what I found for her, so Gavin can’t say I’m cheating his ass and not paying our way. Dominic looked up at the sky, trying to determine the time. He guessed it was somewhere between 1:00 am and 3:00 am.

On the off chance Adelle was still awake, Dominic popped a booster as he walked from the Jeep to the hospital truck. She’s seemed to understand my use of boosters so far, but why push it? Absently nodding and exchanging greetings with sentries and others milling about at this hour, Dominic longed for solitude, knowing it was impossible in this setting. Finally, he lifted himself into the clinic and met Adelle’s eyes in the light of two candles on the small table next to her bed.

“I trust the Jeep is now a part of the caravan,” Adelle whispered. He nodded. “You’ve just taken a booster.”

Dominic frowned. “How in the hell did you know that?”

Adelle looked for a moment as if she wasn’t going to reply. With a small sigh, she said, “You’re twitchy when you’ve just taken one.” She smiled slightly. “Oddly enough, you’re almost still when you’ve taken two. I wonder if they counterbalance each other.”

“I’m a mess when I’ve taken four,” he offered.

“Indeed,” she said, patting the bed next to her. “Sit down, Laurence. Booster notwithstanding, you look as though you could do with a rest.”

He smiled. “Not playing the cold card today?”

“For your information, Mr. Dominic, I play the cold card when I am, in fact, cold.”

Dominic laughed. “You play your cards when it serves your interest.”

“Sit down, Laurence.”

Something in her tone had changed. Curious, Dominic complied. Suddenly, irreverently inspired, he asked, “How was your day?”

“I met Kyle and I was referred to as ‘Dom’s Brit’ no less than twenty seven times.”

“Sucked, huh?”

“In a word, yes.” The path from smiles to laughter wasn’t long.

Temperature rising, Dominic slid out of his jacket. “Are you cold?” he asked, offering it to Adelle.

“If I was, I’d prefer to warm up in this fashion,” Adelle said, shifting closer, leaning into Dominic’s side.

“You ought to be careful, Adelle,” he said. “I might get the wrong idea.”

“Which would be?” she asked, snuggling closer, capturing his eyes with hers.

Curiosity battling nervousness, Dominic allowed the moment to extend before he said, “That I made a mistake leaving you to your own devices today.” He grinned. “Your mind has obviously been addled by the experience.”

“I assure you, Laurence, my mind is far from addled.”

“Here’s how my day went.” Leaning back against the headboard, Dominic put an arm across Adelle’s shoulders. “I didn’t find the shooter.”


“You’re taking it a bit better than I did.” Closing his eyes, he muttered, “I killed a man who seemed to know what he was doing, but there wasn’t a sniper rifle in the vicinity. Someone else has it. Someone gunning for us. My misdirection with their tracker will work for a while but … I guess all I’m saying is that we’re not out of the woods with regard to people out for our blood.”

“Did … did you find the chip?” To his nod, she said, “Good.”

“I found Obi-Wan too. Both of them.”

“Thank God,” Adelle said. “Topher spent an hour shifting between extolling the relative merits of the actors who played the character and reciting the bits of Bennett Halverson’s file you disclosed to him.” Aiming a heart stopping smile at him, she said, “Which was brilliant by the way. I don’t believe I’ve mentioned that.”

Dominic held out his hand. Adelle looked down and her eyes widened. “Laurence?”

“Take it,” he said, staring at her face rather than at the data chip in his hand.

“You were adamant about destroying it.”

“I know. I should have been. It’s the right thing to do. The practical and safe course of action.” He chuckled, finally looking away. “If it’s not in all the manuals for proper conduct when the world is going to hell in a hand basket, it should be.”

“Yet you didn’t destroy it.” Adelle gripped his chin lightly to encourage him to look at her. “Why?”

“Because I got to thinking about what it is that I do,” he said, not resisting the pressure of her fingertips. “I trade goods, services, information, skills, whatever I have to hand for whatever else I need to survive. The thought of having nothing to trade … hell, the thought of thinking I had nothing to offer … I didn’t want you thinking that way.” He risked a small smile. “Caroline’s not the easiest person to be around.” Sighing, Dominic added, “I don’t get what Ballard sees in her. He wants to protect her; she doesn’t need it. He wants to help her; she doesn’t really want it, if help comes with a mind of its own. He wants to rescue her and she’s kind of getting off on the fine mess she’s in. Boggles the mind.” Seeing a sharpening in Adelle’s focus, he asked, “What?”

“I’m curious,” Adelle said. “How did you expect me to react to this data chip?”

“I didn’t expect you to react at all,” he said. “Well, maybe to be a bit relieved that you still had it.” Dominic narrowed his eyes slightly. “It’s not like I expected you to be over the top with gratitude or anything.” Extricating his chin from her hand, he said, “What did you think I expected?”

She smiled. “I was just wondering if you and Mr. Ballard had more in common than I’d thought. I’m relieved my fear was unfounded.”

Pulling her closer, he asked, “Do you think I don’t want to protect or help you or rescue you if need be?”

“No,” she said. “The difference seems to be that Mr. Ballard wants feedback or credit of some sort; you’re inclined to do what you do, regardless.” Adelle kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you, Laurence. I appreciate your effort to understand my situation … more than I can say.”

“Well, thank Christ that the made NSA agent can hold a candle to the FBI guy that everyone thought was off his rocker.”

* * *

"I can't imagine that there was as much as a single moment of doubt in that respect."

The sharp moment of concern abated and Adelle relaxed back into the loose but comfortable embrace and let the ensuing silence envelop them. In her experience someone who offered assistance, even rescue, without wanting gratitude in return was rare enough to be prized as highly as the diamonds Laurence had undoubtedly also seen in her pack.

The fact that she wished to bestow her gratitude was as surprising as the complete absence of any accordant sense of obligation. In the flickering candlelight she looked up to meet his gaze while her hand reached for his and wrapped around it. His eyes widened slightly at the gesture but he had the sense not to draw attention to it.

"So," he said with the slight smirk she was becoming increasingly familiar with, "what's the verdict? McGregor over Guinness?"

"Topher's opinion is that the upgrade did not surpass the original - surprising given his predilection for moving things forward. I'm afraid I was in no position to offer an opinion on the matter."

"Not seen the sequels?"

"Nor the originals." His start of surprise made her smile.

"Are there other tenets of popular culture you've missed out on?"

"Probably a great many. My childhood was rather - isolated. I never took the time to catch up and in recent years recreation hasn't exactly been a priority."

"Topher would have a fit if he knew."

"I'm relying on you to keep my secret for me." The moment became charged far too easily, there was too much in their shared past for it not to be. But neither of them moved and they watched each other, both probably searching for things they had no right to expect but desperately wanted.

She was acutely conscious of the way his body stretched out against hers, of the back and forth motion of his thumb on her palm that she knew was entirely unconscious on his part. If she made a wrong move here he'd back away and she couldn't let that happen.

"My parents were rather old fashioned," she said in what was something of an understatement. "They didn't allow me to go to the cinema, or indeed to watch television." His gaze had drifted to her lips, but now he raised his eyes to hers.

"I bet that went over well at school?"

"I imagine it would have done, had I gone to school." Now her childhood seemed eccentric and more than a little lonely. The large house and its grounds, her parents and the varying staff had been her entire world and she'd scarcely been aware what she was being denied until years later. “I was educated at home.”

"I had you down as a Prefect, Head girl," he mused, tugging a curl of her hair with a burgeoning playfulness that she found delightful.

"Kindly stop imagining me in a school uniform,"

"Too late." She pinched his side in retaliation and they laughed quietly together. "I'm sorry Adelle, I don't think I can let this gap in your education remain," at her raised eyebrow he added. "It's either me or Topher."

"Well then, do your worst."

Sighing heavily, as though the task were a challenging one he shifted slightly on the pillows. Once they were positioned to his satisfaction, a feat he accomplished without dislodging their clasped hands he said, "it starts with Episode IV." He stilled her instinctive question with a look and she settled her head back against his chest, feeling his voice as much as hearing it. "The war has already been fought and lost, the Empire is in the ascendant...."

* * *

A hand settled on Laurence Dominic’s shoulder. Eyes opening immediately, adrenaline surged through his system, Dominic identified the man peering down at him with a strange expression on his face as Gavin Montgomery. The instant he relaxed in view of a threat failing to materialize, Dominic realized his mistake. Adelle DeWitt molded to his side had given his body ideas it had no right to have while he’d been dozing.

“Rise and shine, Dom,” Gavin said, obviously looking from Dominic to Adelle. “We need to run some new recruits through their paces while it’s still dark. I want everybody who pulls sentry duty to be able to move stealthily.” Gavin smiled. “Given everything you’ve said, I must admit; I didn’t think I’d be dragging you out of bed with her. What’s that they say about protesting too much?”

“In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re fully clothed,” Dominic said, devoting his attention to extricating himself from Adelle’s embrace without waking her.

“In case you hadn’t noticed, you wish you weren’t.”

“Fuck you, Gavin,” Dominic muttered, without heat or appreciable volume, because he didn’t want the irritation in his voice to overcome the results of his careful maneuvering.

“Move it, Dominic,” Gavin said. “You owe me some hours for going AWOL yesterday too.”

“Someone has to watch over Topher until Adelle wakes up,” Dominic said, reaching for his jacket. “I don’t want to have to chase him down in the dark if he takes it in his head to go on a quest or something.”

“I watch the attack dog.”

Dominic’s eyes darted to Sergei, standing in the shadows behind and to Gavin’s right. “Don’t feed him too many treats,” Dominic said.

“A drugged steak works better,” Sergei said.

“Makes sense,” Dominic said, following Gavin to the door. An impulse grounded in he knew not what made Dominic turn. “If Topher wakes up first, try to get him to let her sleep. She was up late.”

Smiling at Sergei’s smart salute, ignoring Gavin’s murmured, “I’ll bet,” Dominic jumped down from the hospital truck.

* * *

She had judged her moment well, Gavin was just concluding a briefing when she approached him; Kyle trailing reluctantly in her wake.

Her minder had made a cursory attempt to dissuade her from seeking out their leader. But having wakened alone, to be informed by Sergei that Gavin had sent Laurence on some task or other, she hadn't been in much of a mood to be dissuaded from her goal. It was no surprise that Kyle’s loyalty was not a match for her will.

The men who surrounded Gavin looked fit, hardened by what it had taken to stay alive so far. She respected that, was in no position to do otherwise, but she had survived too and what she had to say was as useful as any drill he might chose to run, as any discipline he felt the need to impose.

But it was clear that he was comfortable here and she briefly regretted the necessity of approaching him on his own ground, although admittedly everything was 'his' ground and this was definitely preferable to conversing in the medical truck.

“I wonder if I might have a few moments of your time,” she said as she stepped resolutely into the area he used as an office and parade ground. She ignored the men around him - focusing entirely on Gavin, subtly transmitting the message that she wasn't interested in conversing with subordinates.

“I'm glad to see you up and about, but I really don't have time to...”

“It's important,” she said – forestalling his objections. In response he shot an irritated look towards Kyle who hurried to excuse his failure.

“She insisted sir, I couldn't stop her.”

“Kyle struggled to interpret your orders to keep me out of the way,” she said – blithely aware of how much trouble she was letting her erstwhile escort in for. “Perhaps you should have specified that if I failed to follow his, advice, he was to restrain me – bodily if need be.” Beside her Kyle blanched at the thought of being empowered to lay his hands on her. She was under no illusions as to whose retaliation he feared over such a transgression.

“If this is about Dominic...?” She smiled broadly, amused by Gavin's all too predictable response. Her voice was filled with that amusement and just a little superiority, as she responded.

“I assure you Laurence doesn't require my assistance to fight his battles, nor I his.”

“Then I can't imagine we have anything important to discuss.” She sighed; it was always disappointing when people behaved entirely as she expected them to. She hoped he had the sense to recognise that she had given him every opportunity to avoid this confrontation. He turned away, in his opinion their conversation had been concluded – she disagreed.

“There are huge discrepancies in the amount of time and effort members of this caravan are prepared to contribute. Some people are doing the bare minimum while others are giving everything.” Her opening salvo had at least grabbed his attention; without waiting for a response she continued. “Your rules stifle innovation and enterprise – very few people are altruistic enough to work tirelessly for the benefit of others, even in these circumstances. People fear you, when they should respect you; they believe that on occasion your decisions are unfair and there is no check on your authority – no counter-balancing force. This is a community, not a unit – these are people who will fight to protect what they have built, not because they have been conscripted. They require leadership, not tyranny. If you want absolute power I'd suggest a slight detour towards Tucson, where I know at least two men who would welcome you with open arms.”

There was a stunned silence around her as she concluded her observations. At some point Gavin had turned a rather distinctive shade of crimson and now he stepped towards her, hissing, “who the hell are you?” As though that was the question that merited most consideration.

“I was a General,” she told him – meeting his gaze without a flicker of trepidation, “I lost a war. Now I'm offering to help you, if you can bring yourself to accept what I have to say.”

“Why should I pay any attention to someone who, by their own admission, lost?” He’d stepped closer - making it harder for his men to hear their conversation, but she could feel their scrutiny. It was up to her to find Gavin a reason to listen - one that wouldn’t involve a loss of face.

“Because this isn’t a war where defeat and victory are simple, immutable concepts and if I hadn’t fought we wouldn’t be having this conversation - there would be no one left to have this conversation.” She couldn’t expect him to understand really. She had no excuses to offer about her failures and she wouldn’t be judged by someone who hadn’t stood where she had stood. The question he’d asked was the one that had kept her awake on far too many nights already.

“Your inevitable posturing aside, I don’t believe I’ve told you anything you aren’t already aware of. You said we had to contribute - I’m putting my skills at your disposal; skills you need. If you choose not to accept my assistance there’s nothing I can do - I’m not here to incite a rebellion. But the next person might not be so reticent.”

His expression didn’t give much away - but he was still standing there, which presumably meant something. Briefly she wondered how Laurence would react if he heard she’d been charged with insubordination, or expelled. “In this environment the strong survive, I understand that but strength doesn’t always have to involve force; it can also be about guile and adaptability.”

* * *

“What now?” Dominic asked the kid who served as Gavin’s runner, unable to keep the irritation out of his voice. He’d already taught a bunch of people with two left feet how to move in the dark without waking the dead, modified the patrol patterns to protect the caravan when stationary and moving to accommodate the increase in size and rearrangement of facilities since he’d last been here and taken a moment to get a cup of coffee and what turned out to be an excellent dried apricot scone. The only issue he had with the food was that he’d had it for lunch instead of breakfast.

“Follow me, please, sir,” said the kid. Not quite able to remove all traces of a grimace from his smile, Dominic motioned for his surrogate taskmaster to lead the way. Dominic glanced over at the hospital truck when they passed it, wondering what Adelle was doing to occupy herself today and hoping Topher was behaving well.

“Where are we going?” Dominic asked when they had passed all of the communal vehicles and walked a quarter of a mile or so into the fleet of personal ones. When the kid didn’t answer, Dominic stopped, stoically not rolling his eyes at how much farther the younger man walked before realizing it. “I asked you a question. I expect an answer.” For a moment, Dominic thought the kid would balk, then it seemed as though he considered whether tears might allow him to avoid answering the question. “I’m waiting, less patiently by the moment.”

“We’ve come into possession of some tech,” said the kid. “A guy is testing it to see if we can do anything with it.”

“Away from the others,” Dominic muttered. “Why wasn’t this information passed along when I redesigned the patrol patterns?” The kid wouldn’t look at him. “Ok, don’t tell me, let me guess. Gavin’s going to want me to redesign the patrol patterns again when I’m though out here?” Making a mental note to mention this gross waste of time to Adelle if she ever seemed kindly disposed toward Gavin, Dominic fell into step next to the kid.

About three-quarters of a mile to the east of the last line of personal vehicles of which Dominic’s Jeep was a member, a small mobile home hove into view. “The tech is in there, sir. Gavin would like you to take a look at what we have and tell us what you know about it, if anything.”

“You aren’t coming?” Dominic asked, suspecting the answer. The wide eyed fearful, tech is evil look on the kid’s face spoke volumes on the topic of just how much the world had changed. Watching the kid’s retreating back for a few moments, Dominic considered the risks of walking into a confined space housing unidentified tech. “Extremely high” didn’t begin to cover it. Thinking about how to minimize the danger, Dominic approached the mobile home and knocked sharply on the door.

“Come,” wafted through the door. Dominic opened it and stuck his head inside. A chubby, balding man about Dominic’s age looked up and ripped off a pair of ancient safety goggles, grinning. “Dom! Hey, I heard you were back. Is it true about the Brit?”

“What are you doing out here, Bill? You aren’t a tech-head.”

“There’s nothing in this lot that you need one of them to understand,” Bill said, gesturing to the mish-mash of equipment surrounding him. “Come on up, Dom. There’s nothing capable of receiving even an eighth note of a transmission in here. Cross my heart and hope to die.”

Climbing into the mobile home, Dominic picked up a piece of tech at random. “This is a tracker,” he said. “You don’t want to activate it. You won’t like anybody who finds people using them.”

“Second bin on the right against the far wall,” Bill said. “The blue one. How in the hell have you been, Dom?”

To Dominic’s surprise, the blue bin was full to nearly overflowing with trackers. “Why are you saving this shit?” he asked.

“Why do we save anything, Dom?” Expression screaming, “Duh,” Bill said, “To trade. There are some folks out there who aren’t afraid of it and they always have excellent drugs. I can hook you up with some prime boosters, Dom. Beyond prime.”

“Again, Bill, why are you out here?”

Bill laughed. “Why do I do anything, Dom?”

“To get in a woman’s pants.”

“Exactly.” Bill leaned forward, pointing at Dominic with a device the latter didn’t recognize. “Many of our lovely ladies think I’m nobly and voluntarily risking life and limb out here. I’m a freaking hero.” Poking Dominic with the device, he added, “Kind of like you without the actual risking of life and limb.” Bill dropped the device and laughed at Dominic’s wince. “Still skittish are you?”

“Only because I’m not stupid, Yoda.”

Bill pulled a bottle out of a drawer and drew the cork out with his teeth. “You want?” he asked.

“What is it?” Dominic asked.

“Try it.”

Dominic took a swig from the bottle. Startled at the smoothness of the liquor, he looked at the bottle for some clue as to its origin. “Bill?”

“All stills are not created equal, Dom. This is my special creation. My own private label Panty Remover, colloquially known in these parts as PR.”

After taking another taste, Dominic handed the bottle over to Bill. “I want a bottle of this, Bill. Maybe two.”

“Answer my questions and a case can be yours,” Bill said. Voice much quieter, eyes serious, Bill said, “I don’t forget my debts, Dom.”

“You don’t owe me anything.”

“Just my life.”

“All I did was bring you here.”

“Forgive me, Dom, I’m not following this conversation.” Bill smirked at how quickly Dominic reached for it when he offered the bottle. “Do you want a case of this or not?” To Dominic’s nod, he said, “So say, ‘You’re welcome,’ to my, “Thank you very much,” and tell me about the woman who asks very intriguing questions of most everyone she meets.”

“Adelle thinks the caravan could run more smoothly.”

“Sounds to me like she’d like to overhaul the incentive system, which would get a serious, ‘Oh, yeah, baby,’ from me if ever put to a vote.” Bill eyed Dominic closely and Laurence knew better than to underestimate him. A savvier man would be hard to find. “She big into fairness, this lady of yours?”

“More so than she used to be.”

Bill’s eyes grew nearly too large for his head. “You knew her before? No shit?”

“Yeah,” Dominic said, taking another drink, stunned to feel a tiny bit buzzed already. “Sort of.”

“How do you sort of know someone?” Perhaps seeing that Dominic had no intention of replying, Bill asked, “How do you keep your wits about you when she looks up at you with those lovely green eyes? I can only imagine how they must shine when she decides she wants to jump your bones.”

“Sometimes I don’t.”

“Only sometimes?” Bill gestured for the bottle and Dominic passed it. “I can’t say as I admire your restraint. You have too much damn restraint for your own good.” Laughing, Bill said, “But Haley put a hell of a dent in that the last time you passed this way. How’s she taking the Brit? And for heaven’s sake, what is the woman’s name?”


“Lovely eyes. Unusual name. Long luscious form.” Bill’s eyes were serious again. “What in the hell are you doing all the way out here when you could be hitting that?”

“Gavin wants me to help you identify this stuff.”

“No, Dominic, that isn’t what Gavin wants.”

Tension freely flowing, Dominic demanded, “Talk to me Bill.”

“He wants you out of his and Haley’s way.”

“So he sent me out here to drink with you?” Dominic shook his head. “That doesn’t track, Bill. Why send me to do something I’d enjoy.”

“That’s a damn fine question, Dom. Answer it for me.”

Dominic’s gun was in his hand before he gained his feet. “If Gavin even so much as thought about thinking about trading Adelle and Topher to Rossum, I’ll kill him slowly after I’ve made him watch me do the same to Haley.”

“You’d do that to Haley?” Bill asked, wheeling his chair slightly away from Dominic. “You always were hardcore. Calm down, Dom, it’s not nearly as drastic as that.” Glaring at Bill, Dominic tried to solve the mystery. “You want a hint?” Bill asked.

“Spell it out for me, Bill.”

“Tribunal sits today, Dom. Maybe Gavin doesn’t want anyone to speak up on Matt’s behalf.”

All the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. “Gavin’s going to throw him out.”

“I reckon so. There’s only so much drunk and disorderly Gavin can take.”

Taking a deep breath, Dominic reached for the bottle. “You have another one of these out here?”

“Yeah.” Clearly puzzled, Bill handed it to him. “You’re staying?”

“Matt needs a wake up call.” Dominic smiled. “And Haley might have mercy on me when I’m negotiating a trade if she thinks I’m buzzed.”

“That girl has no qualms about taking advantage of you when you’re impaired.”

“Not in a trade negotiation, Bill. She takes the fair price thing to heart.”

Bill regarded Dominic for a long moment, wily grin slowly forming. “You’re smarter than you look, you know that?”

“Thanks, Bill.” Raising the bottle in salute, Dominic said, “Cheers.”

* * *

Laurence Dominic took advantage of the extra pair of hands and loaded Bill up with trade goods for the leg of the walk between his Jeep and the hospital truck. He’d decided not to attempt a trade with Haley today, because he’d had too much of Bill’s excellent distilled spirits. Acknowledging his very real need to eat, Dominic also wanted to make sure Adelle had company for dinner. He knew what it was like not to know many people in a large group.

“How in the hell are you walking in that straight of a line, Dom,” Bill asked, steps not quite steady.

“Boosters speed metabolism, Bill.”

“Damn. My booze is too good to rush through your system. Think of that when you get into that case I gave you. Please.”

Arriving at the hospital truck, Dominic shoved open the door, placed the boxes he was carrying on the floor and shoved them out of the way. Topher seemed engrossed and content with playing some sort of board game with a young man Dominic didn’t know.

Bill breathed a sigh of immense relief when Dominic motioned for him to do unload his burdens as well. “Are you going to try and move all of these goods?” Bill asked.

“Depends on what I’m offered in exchange, Bill.”

“Don’t it always.” He put an arm around Dominic’s shoulders. “In any type of negotiation,” Bill added, waving to an attractive dark haired woman who was passing by.

Dominic laughed. “You have a one track mind.”

“You have way too many tracks going at once,” Bill countered, propelling Dominic toward the heart of the caravan. “We cancel each other out.”

“Hey, Bill, you keep Dom out of the way while his Brit called Gavin out?” asked a sharp featured woman who looked to be around thirty.

Christ, Adelle. Already?

“I promised Haley I wouldn’t let him become collateral damage, Maggie,” Bill said. “And here I deliver him in pristine … well, what passes for pristine condition.

Laughing, Maggie moved toward the trading area. “Did you?” Dominic hissed.

“What?” Bill said, watching Maggie’s hips sway.

“Promise Haley anything having to do with me,” he specified.

“No, but it makes a far more interesting story if I pretend I did.” Bill stepped in front of Dominic. “You worry too much, man. You need to loosen up.”

“Hey, Dom,” said a guy Dominic vaguely recognized. “If word gets around that your Brit is half as intense in bed as she was when she got in Gavin’s face, watch your back.” Grinning, the guy shrugged. “You need two to have an established couple.”

What exactly did that woman do?

“Hey,” Dominic called as the guy turned to go about his business instead of minding Dominic’s. “Do you know where she is?”

“Gavin’s office.” As if eager to witness more thrilling events, he said, “I can show you where it—.”

“Thanks, Gary, I’ll take him,” Bill said, no doubt sensing Dominic’s rapidly rising tension. “Take a breath or two, Dom. People are probably exaggerating.”

“No, Bill,” Dominic said, hand on his bottle of boosters, trying to decide whether he should take one. “They probably aren’t, or not by much. Damn.”

“To think I had you mellow and talking about trivial things not a half an hour ago.” Bill heaved a heavy sigh. “No one would believe it, taking a gander at you now.”

Feeling many sets of eyes on him, fighting the urge to try and swat them away as he would a swarm of insects, Dominic muttered, “How far?”

“Just through there,” said Bill, gesturing to the flap of a large, dark green tent. “Seriously, dude, get a grip.

“I have a very firm grip,” Dominic said. “I just wish I knew on what.”

“You want I come with?” Bill asked. Dominic pretended not to notice Bill’s relief when he shook his head.

Squaring his shoulders, Dominic approached the tent flap. A young man stepped in front of him. “Move,” Dominic said.

“My orders—.”

“Look me in the eye and tell me if I appear remotely interested in your orders.”

The kid stepped back. Dominic entered the tent and took in the tableau with lightening speed. Gavin sat behind a desk looking up with obvious interest at what Adelle scribbled on a white board. Adelle looked animated, focused, regal, tired and in pain. “Do you think you could sit down at least?” Dominic said, not smiling at having startled both Adelle and Gavin. “Sergei will weep at the disrespect you show for his work by standing too much.”

Gavin rose and offered Adelle his chair a bit too gallantly for Dominic’s taste. He didn’t care for the smile Adelle bestowed on Gavin when she sat either. “You said you didn’t fight each other’s battles, Adelle,” Gavin said.

It’s Adelle now, is it?

“Yet Dom interrupts our private strategy session to check to see if you’re all right.”

Private strategy session—is that what they’re calling it now?

Pushing aside anger that felt both irrational and completely justified, Dominic crossed his arms in front of him. “I came to check on you, Gavin. Not her.” Walking a slow circle around Gavin, he said, “Looks like you came out of the heavyweight bout ok. You’ll have to wander around the caravan during dinner, so people can see that you still breathe. There seems to be some doubt out there.” As if to emphasize Dominic’s point, the harsh dinner tone sounded. Dominic turned to Adelle. “Are you planning to break for dinner?”

“I am,” she said, making as if to rise.

“Don’t get up,” Dominic said, at her side in three quick strides.

“I should walk,” Adelle said, her hands coming together at the back of his neck as he lifted her belying her words.

“We’ll take a walk after dinner,” he said. Glancing over his shoulder to Gavin, he said, “She’s off duty until morning and so am I.” Dominic scowled at Gavin’s grin. “I’m only saying we’ve done enough for you for one day.”

“Of course,” Gavin said. “I agree completely.”

“Good,” Dominic muttered. As he stepped back outside, Dominic contemplated taking a booster when he got in line to get them some food, not knowing how else he was going to deal with the scrutiny he felt coming from every direction.

“What’s wrong?” Adelle whispered in his ear.


“Laurence, what is the matter?”

That’s a very good question.

Gently settling Adelle at a remote table, he resisted the urge to head immediately into the fray that passed for a line. Sitting next to her, he said, “I’m tired, pissed off, starving and a little drunk.”

“Not an optimal combination.”

He laughed. “No, but I think it’s probably a good thing I’m a little drunk given the rest of the package.” Sighing softly, he added, “I’m sorry you’re going to be saddled with my mood for a while, but I wasn’t going to leave you in there with him.”

“Why ever not?”

Looking her in the eye, he whispered, “In case the reason Gavin got rid of me all day today wasn’t because he didn’t want me to defend Matt before the tribunal.”

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Excellent chapter (as always).

I loved Laurence explainging Star Wars to Adelle while laying in bed (and her confusion at why it began with Episode 4), I loved Adelle pwning Gavin with her awesome British organizational and interpersonal skills (and thus impressing everyone else)and, God, there was so much more. This chapter was phenominal.

Thank you for using such a glowing term.

Adelle did shine in this chapter--in the "Don't you dare treat me as if I've nothing to contribute" sense. The acceptance and impressing others aspects helps her, I think, in her effort to believe she has some sort of future.

Star Wars crept in and out of this story. Not sure why, but it did.

I liked the idea of Dom having a drinking buddy.

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Gavin is no match for Adelle. Then again, who is, other than Dom in his way?

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

You have me completely hooked on this fic. I read chapters 1-5 a couple of days ago, and have been updating my journal so often hoping to see you've updated. That's how hooked I am.

Well, that is gratifying to read--completely hooked is most excellent. I'm going as fast as I can (the delays are my fault not morgan72uk's. She's done. I'm editing and coding around a somewhat crazy RL right now. I wanted to be done before celebration week, but I'm not going to make it.

But I am going and it's incentive to know that someone's wsiting on me. Thanks!

Aww, I know how a hectic RL can keep you away from fandom, so take your time. I'll just be here waiting for more of this awesomeness! :D

Haley is starting to creep me out a tinge... Admittedly, this is probably because I keep reading her as 19 and not the mid-20s I think she's supposed to be (right? mid-20s? early-20s?)... I mean, I get she's had a hard life and needs someone to talk to...but something feels off about her...growing pains? I dunno... I feel like I know a variation or three of this girl, IRL.

....my sick, sick mind approves of the bruising...and of the male posturing...and of the shirtlessness...

Dominic's Brit! Hee! Also, way to boss around the "handler." I approve of this taking charge!

I also approve of this taking charge of the entire camp! (Technically....) Go, Adelle, go!

Also, the whole discussing of Star Wars in bed was adorable!

“Well, thank Christ that the made NSA agent can hold a candle to the FBI guy that everyone thought was off his rocker.”

"I can't imagine that there was as much as a single moment of doubt in that respect."

Awwwwww! Also, Dominic >>>>>>> Ballard.

Hair tugging! *flails* That is almost hair-petting! And there is hand holding! And more snuggling! *flails* Also, Gavin is awesome....at least when he storms in and makes the obvious conclusions.

Also, Bill is awesome. He makes me snicker.

“How do you keep your wits about you when she looks up at you with those lovely green eyes? I can only imagine how they must shine when she decides she wants to jump your bones.”

“Sometimes I don’t.”


“My orders—.”

“Look me in the eye and tell me if I appear remotely interested in your orders.”

....oh my....Mr. Dominic, when you use that tone of voice, I get all... *swoons*

Sadly, I'm kind of glad Haley is creeping you out. Means she rings at least kind of true.

I'm all about the shirtlessness (and to a lesser extent bruising and male posturing). I feel you should know that about me.:)

Adelle isn't going to let a juvenile lead or a leader with obvious blind spots keep her down. No way!

Star Wars in bed; Shakespeare in love--it's all good.

Dom is everything Ballard isn't (and that's good in my book).

Hair tugging is so second grade and yet fitting. Snuggling is always a plus and I had to let Gavin give Dom a hard time (pun intended, I'm afraid--sorry).

Bill may be my favorite OC I've created (until you meet some of the guys and gals in our AU set in WWII with Dom and Adelle due to preview shortly--it's longer than Road Trip btw).

I tried to allow Dominic to threaten people all the time. Why? Because he likes it!

Re: Haley, oh, good! I'm glad I'm reading her correctly! I didn't want to be hating on a beloved OC (in case I was entirely missing some sort of subtext...)...but you did say you wanted my thoughts....

I am very okay with Dom threatening people and you allowing him to do so... I may or may not have made that clear....I may or may not continue to make that clear with flailing...

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