Their story began when the world was ending.
But in the end they have no regrets; just secrets.
They are not the same people they once were. Not surprising, since they never really were who they seemed to be when this whole thing began. They were liars well before they knew each other.
Their story is not a story about love. At least, not the kind that all those novels paint so beautifully.
Theirs is not of a love borne out of affection. Of a soft quietness cultivated over time. Their story does not make romance novels. There are no quiet walks in the park; no touches or kisses in the presence of many. There are no sweeping declarations of love—they do not run into each other's arms and ride off into the sunset together.
What they are instead, is a mistake— brought about by an inevitable war both of them fought to stave off. A war neither of them expected nor wanted. He sought to right it. Then so did she. Together they weren’t enough.
But their story is poetic in a way— one served with the bitterest of ironies. Their twisted courtship— slow, and deep; tortuous— twisted in a way which only they can fully attest to. Confessions and emotions pried from deep within, said and uttered from sheer force of will— bathed in the chaos of their life.
Theirs is a story of betrayal. And then of trust.
They never really did things the easy way.
This is how it started— the beginning of the end:
She gets a phone call.
And an order.
‘You get the information, you bring the resistance down,' the voice on the other end says.
But before she can hang up the phone, the voice adds quickly, 'And DeWitt? We need him alive.’
‘Of course, sir.’
She always obeys.
Los Angeles, California
The first time they meet, he doesn’t catch her name.
The room he’s thrown into is neat, cold, and white— unbroken, undisturbed, untainted; not a speck of dust anywhere. It’s bland and boring; serving well the purpose of this— his interrogation. The sweat on his back cools almost lazily; almost to the point of slow numbness. It does not bother him in the slightest. He even savors the feel.
He leans back in the chair, flickers his gaze up at the light above him. The bulb glares at him for a second and he closes his eyes. He turns his head and looks straight ahead of him— his eyes focusing on a spot on the wall that is not really there. He takes his elbows off the table and a twisted scowl forms on his face. The handcuffs slide against the table, echoing in the otherwise silent room. He waits for the next idiot they send in.
She isn’t what he expects.
Dark wavy hair, white silk blouse, a black pencil skirt that accentuates her slim figure, accompanied by three-inch heels. Tall, with piercing green eyes, graceful, and very, very beautiful.
There are definitely worse people to be interrogated by.
The man they sent to interrogate him before she came along was all brute; all muscle. He was armed with a stern look and clenched fists, intent on throwing his weight around just to get him to talk. Designed to intimidate him into telling them answers. The man asked questions and pounded his fists on the table when he refused to answer. Accusations after accusations flew out if his mouth, a hint of paranoia in his escalating voice. Well founded paranoia in the face of baseless accusations. Barely pausing for a breath as he leaned over him— shoulders hunched, a horribly smug look on his face. This man—he noticed— was definitely a lackey; a grunt. Someone deemed expendable. A man not worth of him or even his time.
He broke the man’s nose 10 minutes into the interrogation. It was almost laughable how easy it all was.
This time though, he knows she’s someone important; he can practically feel the almost tangible air of authority she exudes— can sense it. This woman is far, far higher up the chain of command. He takes one look at her— one long hard look— and sees born and bred Rossum all over her face. Her body language and steely demeanor permeating and filling up the whole room. Ruthless and calculating, right to the bone. That is who he’s pitted against now.
She walks briskly into the interrogation room; intense, purposeful. Her heels slide gracefully on the cement floor. Her eyes glistened with a hint of wickedness underneath.
He likes that in a woman.
He looks discreetly at his watch, and calculates the time in his head.
8 minutes till extraction
He sits up in his chair, delighted in this change of pace. She is certainly prettier to look at than the other man they sent in. He definitely likes a challenge.
‘Nothing is what it appears to be,’ he starts; smirking. His eyes linger on her form, assessing.
‘That is awfully cryptic of you, Mr. Adrian Carter.’ She raises her brow in defiance and looks at him with curious eyes; reading a file she brought in with her. She walks further into the room and stands directly opposite him— challenging, at the other end of the table. She opts not to sit on the steel chair already pushed out— instead pushes the chair back in so she can lean her hand on the table. One hand splayed evenly flat on it while the other drops the file on the smooth surface of the table. She pads her fingers, scanning through the pages of the file.
Finally, someone direct and to the point, he thinks. None of the other ones who questioned him before were as blunt; nowhere near as bold. They always skirted around the accusation; tiptoed and held back; never really voiced what this whole thing amounts down to; who they think he really is. But her, she calls him on it. While the others begged to be refuted, her steely, unwavering certainty brokers no arguments. She calls him that name right to his face. There is certainty in her statement, like she’s sure that’s who he is.
This woman’s definitely trouble, he muses; his smirk getting a tad bit wider with that thought.
He also notes her British accent, and that surprises him once more. He doesn’t flinch.
He scoffs instead. ‘Ma’am, I’m pretty sure my name is Laurence Dominic.’
‘Ah. Yes, of course.’ She answers like she doesn’t believe him. He’s certain she doesn’t. She paces and her heels click steadily on the floor.
‘Laurence Dominic, 38, born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Top of his class at MIT--’
While she keeps talking— drumming out mostly insignificant details of his life— he notices a subtle change. An almost seamless shift that if he wasn’t paying attention so intently to all unvarying details— he would have surely overlooked.
Her footsteps create a thrumming, steady beat; a slow graceful melody he counts in his head. A rhythm they can move so quickly and easily about. He has a swelling feeling in his chest he has finally met his match.
Their dance has begun.
‘I’ve told you before, you’ve got the wrong man,’ he says, his lips curling up defiantly.
‘What were you doing last night at Rossum?’
‘Looking for a bathroom?’ he replies, his voice laced with sarcasm.
She blinks and nods, like she was expecting his mockery well before the words leave his mouth. She just smiles even wider.
‘So you managed to get pass security, pass two heavily secured rooms and ended up in the building’s vaulted mainframe.’ She phrases it not as a question, but as a statement of fact.
‘I took a wrong turn?’ he offers.
‘What are you after?’ she counters.
He just smirks at her.
‘No one knows you’re here. No one is going to help you.’ Her lips start to curl upward.
He looks into her eyes and holds her gaze steadily. Her eyebrows shoot up and she holds his gaze in return. She steps towards him, looking down to where he sits. She places her hand on the table and leans -- looms over him.
‘Tell me, Mr. Dominic, do you like playing games?’ She asks, her voice half threatening and half sultry.
‘Do you?’ He rises to the occasion and volleys back.
He gets a whiff of her perfume. It makes his head spin a little. He swallows and a bitter taste rockets through him.
He senses that it takes a lot to rattle her exterior. Her mildly cold yet somehow attentive, scrupulous gaze bores through him like a scorching heat in the cool, damp room. He notices her lips then, her full (luscious) lips swathed in red; ignites a coy, tantalizing look to go with it.
Her smirk, accompanied by those tantalizing eyes — and there it is. The look that any man would not be able to resist. Under her scrutiny, a lesser man would have caved. A lesser man would have crumbled with his resolve and eventually given her what she wants. What she needs. This is the point in the conversation where a lesser man would have given up everything without him even noticing. His life; his soul. He looks and sees— as clear as day— why she is so good at what she does. In another lifetime, she would, could, bring about the destruction of the world.
Fortunately for him, he isn’t a lesser man.
Or so he thinks.
He tries for bluntness, instead. After all, she did the same. He thinks it’s only fair to return the favor.
‘You’re pretty,’ he notes casually, a musical lilt in his voice.
'Flattery will get you nowhere with me, Mr. Dominic.’
'Oh? What will then?’ he muses.
'Answering my questions,’ she says, matter of factly.
'Does that mean you’ll let me take you out once we’re done?’
Her lips curl. What she says is: 'We’ll see.’
He tilts his head to the side and smiles at her. ‘I will hold you to that.'
Things are quiet, until suddenly they’re not.
A blast bellows off in the distance. Right on time.
He smiles wickedly, relaxes in his chair. His handcuffs clank against the table leg.
Alarms reverberate throughout the facility. She automatically looks up at the sound.
She narrows her eyes at him. ‘What did you do?’
He shrugs mockingly, and adopts a rather faked look of innocence on his face. Before he can offer up a token of protest, she releases the cuff on his right hand and cuffs it back to the leg of the table.
‘Stay put,' she orders.
She goes to the door, opens it and tells the man standing guard ‘Watch him.’
Another set of alarms blare, even closer. Sirens sound out the window and a commotion starts and people are running in the hallways.
She walks a few steps into the hallway and half turns. Security men are ushering people out. She asks one of them what set off the alarms. ‘I regret to inform you ma’am, we’ve had a security breach.’
When she comes back to the room, her prisoner is nowhere to be seen. Instead, in his place is the guard she told to watch him-- unconscious. She, notices his security jacket and badge are gone as well.
She curses under her breath. ‘Bloody hell!’
‘Nice timing, Sheppard.’ he says to his second in command once they’re safely in the van and a considerable distance away from the facility from which they procured him. In the back of the van and sitting on the floor, he leans his head on the cold metal and breathes out a heavy sigh.
‘Anytime boss,’ John Sheppard salutes him with two fingers and goes to the front of the van and sits in the passenger seat. Sheppard talks idly with the driver— he suspects it’s Anthony— about the latest encounter they just finished.
Laurence closes his eyes and lets out a laugh.
They return to one of their headquarters a little over 11 at night. Everyone is high on adrenaline, high on sticking it to the man, so to speak— so he doubts any of his people will get any sleep.
They walk through the door and he watches as his people scatter— carving themselves their own little spaces in the damp, cold warehouse. Located at the outskirts of L.A. and more run down than they’re used to, the warehouse is considerably more out of the way than most of the places they frequent as a base of operations. But with the Rossum Corporation getting considerably more aggressive in bringing the resistance down, Laurence supposes they’d rather be more cautious than caught.
Laurence looks around and sees John Sheppard— his trusted second in command— head on down to the hallway that leads to the infirmary. No doubt to annoy (and flirt with) their prim and proper — but very able— resident medical doctor. Laurence suspects John has been harboring a not so subtle crush on the good doctor for a while now, and it is only a matter of time before he musters up the courage to ask her out.
John and him have been friends far longer than Laurence has been in the resistance, and he’s been in the resistance for-- God, he doesn’t even know for how long. Years and years of being in the resistance have blurred his life into one big fight after the other. He has more responsibilities now yes, but still the fight remains the same. Ever since Rossum —with their endless amounts of money, high powered suits, well placed lackeys in higher up positions in the government, and major politicians eating out at the palms of their hands— and their seemingly notorious agenda to control most of the world government and use them for their own benefit without any regard for morals and human life.
The resistance was all small time for a while and only grew in considerable number when these Dollhouses started emerging. Though the population at large have heard of these so called ‘Dollhouses’ — to them, they are merely urban legends. These so called places where they wipe your minds, take away your original self and implant someone else inside you. It seems almost impossible, and yet, preposterous enough in this day and age to be true. People who have seen them though— been victimized by these places by taking away people they love— have joined the fray.
The Rossum Corporation has been trying to keep the information about the tech under wraps as long as possible— but most government officials, rich men with deep pockets are vastly aware of the existence of these Dollhouses. They patronize these places because they can. After all, this is where their power comes from. They use each other for their own unlawful gains.
He thinks about the name, the name they accuse him of. He is Adrian Carter and he isn’t. The name is a mere designation now, the real Adrian Carter died years ago. Every person (man or woman) who assumes the role of leading the resistance is Adrian Carter. He is Laurence Dominic, but he is also Adrian Carter— has been for the last two years; ever since Caroline Farrell died. Caroline was a good leader, strong willed, focused, passionate about the cause— but she was far too idealistic. She thought she could save everyone; that everyone was worth saving. And while this is one of their agendas— their overlying mission— it isn’t exactly true. Laurence Dominic, if nothing else, is a practical man. You cannot save everyone. There are still those that had to die. Laurence learned that the hard way.
He supposes everyone has lost someone they cared about— and almost all of the members of the resistance have been victims of the kind of torment and disregard of human life Rossum exercises.
No one is safe, until they bring Rossum down.
He thinks about her then, the woman he met, the one who interrogated him— and wonders if she was one of those victims.
He didn’t get her name. But he never forgot her face.
That night he dreams of her.
One year and six months
This time, she starts.
‘The world is a very simple place... at first. Then, as we grow up, it grows around us, a dense thicket of complication and disappointment. Unbearable for some. And even for the luckiest of us, still sometimes more than we can handle. Less than we'd hoped.’
His eyebrows shoot up and he gives her a disbelieving look. ‘Now who’s being cryptic?’
‘It’s lovely to see you again Mr. Dominic.’ She smiles— wide, her words carrying a hint of sincerity in them.
He tosses her an approving look. ‘Likewise Ms. DeWitt.’
Her eyes dance in amusement. It does not surprise her that he knows her name— she’d almost anticipated it. After all, if the rumours are true, they have Topher Brink-- brilliant and mad, with equally brilliant and mad computer skills-- at their disposal. She did not expect that she’d be the only one who would do some research.
She’d dug much more deeply about him in the intervening months after her first encounter with him. Her superiors had given her his file (his two files) containing a brief history of the life of one Laurence Dominic and a lone page for one so called Adrian Carter— the leader of the resistance. But she knows those files are frivolous. They did not contain what mattered most.
Much has been said about the resistance, from it numbering less than a hundred to up to thousands of people. There’s been idle chatter about them for as long as she can remember but now the higher ups at Rossum, as well as the power hungry government officials that often patrons them have put much more credence to their existence as of late. There were numerous rumours in and around Rossum itself, speculations and urban legends about the resistance she needed time to verify. Information she had to gather, this is why they’re here, now. This is why she’s questioning this man until he breaks, and provide some answers.
His hands are bound, and he’s sitting in a chair. The same state he was in when they first met six months ago. Except now they’re in a dirty, interrogation room, barely any windows in sight, dark, desolate, and faint screams can be heard in the distance.
She glances over Judith, who is standing behind Dominic, half hidden in the dark.
‘So why did you leave Rossum?’ she asks him suddenly.
‘What makes you think I worked for them— for you?’ he sneers. He struggles against his restraints.
‘You did. For three years.’ she says.
‘Is this really relevant?’
‘Do you think it isn’t?’ she counters.
‘Why do you wanna know?’
She narrows her eyes and tilts her head to the side. ‘Do you ever answer a question, Mr. Dominic?’
Apparently he doesn’t.
‘Who’s the girl?’ he queries. She realizes he’s talking about Judith who doesn’t even flinch when she glances over at her.
Adelle lets out an exasperated but amused sigh. ‘Judith.' she offers quickly. ‘She’s my...’ she searches for her words '— right hand man, so to speak. Does all my heavy lifting.’
Laurence scoffs. 'This little girl?' he says, shaking his head.
Judith’s in a dark blazer suit. Crisp white blouse underneath. Her hands clasped behind her back. Her heels planted securely on the cement floor. Small and frail looking, Judith doesn’t look like she could weigh more than a hundred pounds.
‘Oh, I assure you Mr. Dominic, she is very able.’ Adelle smiles like she’s got a secret, and she’s quite sure she’ll enjoy what’s going to happen next.
She watches Laurence look over his right shoulder and address Judith. 'I don't think you know what you're doing.'
Judith's smile is wicked. 'Oh sir, but I do.' Judith glances over to Adelle, who just smiles.
It all happened so fast. He wasn’t sure which part of Judith’s body hit him, but it hits him hard. He feels his arm break, and his head is pounded on the floor before he blacks out.
He comes to, with his arm being bandaged.
‘Hey, doc,' he mumbles out. He suspects he’s still a bit buzzed from the morphine they must have administered to him. His vision is still blurry, and his speech is still slurred.
‘Laurence, must we go through this every time?’ she chides exasperatedly.
‘Doc,’ he draws out slowly. ‘You joined the resistance. What did you expect?’ he asks.
She shrugs. ‘More talking and less bone breaking?’ she replies in a hopeful tone.
‘Dr. Elizabeth Weir. Ever the diplomat.’ He laughs and the action leaves his body hurting.
Doctor Elizabeth Weir was a prestigious doctor— was, being the operative word. She had a thriving practice of her own, and was considered a leading expert in neurological studies. She was at the top of her game-- until she joined their cause five years ago. She hasn’t really revealed the whole story of why she joined the fray, but from what Laurence has gleaned from her, from the little tidbits she lets slip-- it had something to do with a research Rossum was funding, and something called ‘nanites’ which basically amounted to a mind control devise— one among the countless ones Rossum seems to be developing. When Elizabeth found out what it was really for, she knew the Rossum Corporation were going to use them for something horrible. Elizabeth had tried the more… honorable route, tried to tell them that these nanites were dangerous and would hurt people. She had insisted it should not be used, especially in a widespread manner.
Elizabeth never said it directly, but Laurence knew Rossum tried to have her killed to silence her permanently. She got out, badly beaten, barely alive.
When the resistance found her and made contact, she joined them without a backwards glance.
She finishes up bandaging his arm. ‘Alright. You’re done.’ she tells him.
He quickly jumps off the makeshift medical bed and heads for the door.
‘But you need to lay off that arm for a couple days!’ she yells after him.
He just barely hears her exasperated sigh as he turns the corner.
Two years and four months
She’s attending a lavish party for a Russian general when she sees him again.
‘We gotta stop meeting like this, people will start to talk,’ he murmurs mirthfully. He slides gracefully beside her in his crisp tux, holding a glass of champagne.
She’s at the bar ordering another shot of vodka. She doesn’t have to turn her head to know who it is, so she doesn’t even give him a sidewards glance.' You have some nerve, showing up here,’ she says.
'You know me, I like to live dangerously.' he laughs a little and tips his glass towards her.
She turns her head and looks at him fully, his blue eyes sparkle and are made more beautiful by the soft light.
She spins away so that her dress touches his leg. 'You'll never get to the general,’ she says. She looks out onto the dance floor and frowns, seeing the general drape himself over two young girls— laughing and looking smug. She’s not really sure what the resistance would want with a Russian general— especially this one— but she assumes this is why he’s here. Why else would he be?
He almost answers her thoughts. 'Who says I'm not here to see you? It's been far too long.' He steals a look at her, and slowly runs his eyes along the length of her dress and smiles. She’s wearing a black dress, low in the front and even lower in the back. His eyes dance appreciatively.
When she doesn’t say anything he leans closer to her and whispers in her ear. ‘When are you running away with me?’
‘When will you admit who you are?’ she counters.
‘You know who I am.’
‘No. I don't.’ she says firmly.
He puts down his glass of champagne on the counter before he takes her hand and leads her to the dance floor. She should resist, but she knows playing along with this sort of thing will get answers from him. He seems to enjoy the chase. She’s starting to think she does too.
He pulls her to him much closer than she expects, and to anyone else looking, they must look like a couple sharing an intimate secret.
She realizes that’s what they are.
His right hand slides down to the small of her back, his thumb running firm circles and she feels the press of it through the fabric of her soft dress. His other hand holds hers, and he keeps their clasped hands tucked in between them.
He doesn’t say anything, his eyes boring a path of heat through her. A flicker of something passes through his features, and she thinks she knows what that look portends to.
She smiles up at him.
They’re swaying to a beat, their feet easily gliding on the dance floor. His hand runs up the back of her dress, and over her back. His fingers are warm, soft, light touches caressing her skin.
He narrows his eyes a bit and then his face goes serious. He doesn’t waste any more time on pleasantries. She realizes then they don’t have much time.
‘Have you seen the Alpha file?’ he asks sharply. ‘The real Alpha file?’ His face is intense, curious and willing.
He spins her around, a swift graceful maneuver that makes her wonder where he learned to dance. The question doesn’t throw her off one bit though; it should not surprise her that the resistance knew of the Alpha incident in the L.A. Dollhouse.
She presses slightly closer as a disturbing thought occurs to her. She narrows her eyes and stares at him intently. ‘Why? Do you have Alpha?’
He doesn’t answer, instead he asks, ‘Do you know why Rossum wants him back so badly?’
‘Because he slaughtered people and stole the tech.’
‘No. Because he’s the only one who can figure out how to do mass wiping.’
She laughs hysterically. ‘That is impossible.’
‘Not for Alpha,’ he insists.
She doesn’t say anything in return. ‘Did you think this was not what they were gonna use the tech for?’ he asks her disbelievingly.
‘That is not their agenda.’ she says defiantly.
‘The technology needs to be reigned in and controlled.’ he counters.
He must have seen the incredulous look on her face.
He keeps talking. ‘It’s embarrassing how naïve you are. You believe in Rossum? The Dollhouse and its mission? You should know better. Everyone has their secrets. And Rossum is so good at hiding theirs. Read the Alpha file again.’
He looks her in the eye and smirks. ‘You really do look great in that dress.’
The lights suddenly go out.
There has always been one consensus about Adelle DeWitt: she is a ruthless woman.
Adelle DeWitt, what she is now— has been hard earned. Some thought her far too young (and far too naïve) to hold a position as precarious as she does, but in reality, she is far capable than most of the men that have come and gone before her. She has never doubted her capabilities.
She idly considered a career in the medical field, all those years ago— when she started working for Rossum— even gone as far as heading up one of Rossum’s medical divisions that grew replacement organs out of stem cells. She was good at her job, efficient— brought results quickly at whatever means necessary. This in turn is what made the higher ups at Rossum realize they had far better use for her more specialized skill set.
They gave her another job.
She takes pride in bringing down enemies; powerful men to their knees to serve a higher purpose. All these pathetic, self deluding souls who sought to stand in Rossum’s way. Most of her colleagues think she is unclouded by conscience, remorse or delusions of morality. Sometimes she tends to believe that’s true.
But one thing people tend to forget: She is thorough. She cannot let a question go unanswered. So she reads the Alpha file again.
Three years and two months
The fourth time they meet, he’s on the floor trying not to die. He tries to stand up, but his arms buckle under his weight, and then wipes the blood off his nose and splashes it on the floor. His nose is still dripping— the red droplets create a pattern on the cement.
Judith stands to his left, straight as a rod, with her hands clasped behind her back, her eyes narrowed slits. He knows her reflexes are quick, learned the hard way, so she doesn’t have to get into any fighting stance.
‘You are so much better than this,’ he hisses out at Adelle. He grits his teeth; trying not to wince. His back hurts and his head is throbbing.
‘So are you,’ Adelle answers.
He lifts his head up. ‘Did you read the Alpha file?’
She flinches quickly; barely a fraction of a second, but he catches it. He can see her eyes waver a little and he knows. She’s starting to question.
He knows he shouldn’t think of her as apart from them— but he does. She’s Rossum yet she isn’t. She’s just like him, he thinks suddenly, her life destroyed and taken by the Rossum Corporation. A ruthless organization that paints themselves virtuous, but in reality, takes people’s souls. He’s been inside the Rossum Corporation. He knows what they do to people. He’s seen it for himself.
She does not say anything.
‘Why don’t you just kill me?’ he coughs and blood spews out of his mouth.
He tries to stand again but fails. He rests his head on the floor for a couple seconds, getting some of his bearings back, and then turns his head towards her. ‘I won’t tell you anything. I’d rather die.’
‘I’d rather you didn’t.’ Adelle stands over him— looming. ‘Not just yet.’ She adds.
The small bulb on the ceiling illuminates her face, creating a soft halo around her— which disappears when she turns to nod at Judith.
He keeps his eyes open this time. He feels his ribs break and he howls in pain.
The resistance gets him back by breaking into yet another highly secured Rossum facility.
A car chase ensued, guns were fired, lives were lost, and Laurence barely survived.
But they escaped. Barely.
Later that night, Laurence finds Anthony Ceccoli — the resistance’s resident weapons expert— sitting alone at a table, drinking from his flask. A lot of members on his team drown their sorrows and memories with alcohol, something he cannot begrudge them for— Laurence himself does the same on more occasions than he can count.
A grim expression spreads on Anthony’s face, something that has become a fixed feature. Laurence walks slowly to the table, trying to give Anthony a wide berth, unsure whether the man would do for some company or not. There are still a lot of places Laurence can walk to, since he can’t sleep— the consequence of the pain he’s in — but Anthony turns to him before he can decide whether to walk away or not. Anthony tips his flask over to him and offers him a drink. He quickly accepts.
Laurence grabs the flask and takes a hearty drink from it. It burns his throat and goes straight through him, bitter and hot. He coughs suddenly and spews out some of the liquid.
‘What is this shit?’ Laurence asks through his coughing and wipes at his mouth.
Anthony laughs. ‘I’ll never tell.’
Movement startles them both and they whip their heads toward the doorway.
Tony stands in the doorway, rubbing the sleepiness out of his eyes. He’s carrying the teddy bear his mother gave him before she disappeared.
‘Hey buddy, what’s wrong?’ Anthony asks. ‘Did you have a bad dream?’ Anthony quickly gets up from the table.
‘I dreamed about mommy.’ T announces.
Anthony quickly goes to him, crouches down and puts his hands around his son. He rubs T’s back with his hand, runs circles around him and murmurs reassurances to him.
Anthony Ceccoli joined the resistance two years ago, looking for his wife, Priya Tsetsang— who was taken by Rossum for reasons they don’t truly understand. Anthony was a retired soldier at that time, served his time in Afghanistan and then got out of the army. He later worked for a security firm while Priya continued her work as a schoolteacher. Everything was going fine, they had a great house, a bright future, and a bubbly two year old they could be proud of.
Then one day Priya went to Rossum for a job interview— the specifics were vague to say the least, and then she never went home.
Anthony is convinced Rossum took her, and is convinced she’s still alive.
With Rossum’s track record, Laurence isn’t sure Priya’s still out there, but Anthony— and T especially— deserve to know what happened to her.
Laurence looks over at father and son.
T asks in such an innocent voice: ‘When is mommy coming home?’
‘Soon baby, soon.’ Anthony says. He pulls back and picks T up. ‘C’mon little buddy, time to go back to bed.’
Anthony glances at Laurence before he leaves, and Laurence gives him a nod.
When they’re out of sight, Laurence takes another swig from the flask.
His comm chirps in the middle of the night.
Laurence leans over to his bedside table and retrieves his comm.‘What is it Topher?’ Laurence snaps irritably. ‘Is this urgent or did you call to tell me your sweater’s itchy?' Laurence runs a hand through his tussled hair. ‘Again.’ He adds.
‘Whoa, whoa, chill down, man friend.’ Topher offers up quickly.
‘What is it?’ Laurence reiterates. He sits up in bed, exasperated.
‘I found something on your girlfriend.’
Los Angeles, California
‘You’re very good.’ She turns around at the sound of his voice.
He turns from the hallway, appearing suddenly— seemingly out of nowhere— at the open doors that lead to her living room, custom fit for a fencing match— plywood material resting on top of her carpeted living room floor. He leans heavily on the door frame, hands in his pockets as he his eyes scan her house. His eyes sparkle with mirth.
She still has her fencing sword in her hand, and she idly thinks that she should have used a saber for her training today, and not the foil she has in her hand— as she aims it at the center of his chest. She gets into a stance, her eyes narrow and intense.
He pushes off the doorway and grabs the other foil sword sitting on top of one of her armchairs, left forgotten when she and Rolf— her fencing trainer and partner— were fighting just a couple minutes earlier. She supposes Laurence only made himself known when Rolf left her premises. Laurence grips the sword lightly, one finger touching the tip that bends it a little under the pressure. He smiles slightly, as if charmed by something quaint before laughing mockingly in her direction.
‘How did you get in here?’ she demands.
He quirks an eyebrow at her.
She circles around him. Her eyes intense, she shifts her grip to aim the sword higher at his face.
‘This should be fun,’ he says, and he starts circling her as well. He aims the sword at her chest and smirks.
He stops abruptly and she mirrors the action, gauging for each other’s next move. She moves her sword slightly and he smiles at her.
She advances towards him, and he deflects her attack with two quick strokes.
He aims higher at her, and then towards hers torso and she swipes her sword at his every attack.
Her wrists turn with the way she handles her sword. He attacks her with quick, precise movements, circling his sword until she retreats, taking two steps back. She retaliates by lunging forward, her strokes as finely tuned as his. Both of them doing seemingly complicated maneuvers that surprise each other, each smiling when someone performs a superior move— an unconscious nod of approval aimed at each other when that happens.
They stop momentarily to catch their breaths and she taunts him by lightly tapping her sword against his, her eyes mocking, her mouth open.
He tilts his head to the right and lunges at her, slashing from left to right, an obviously intricate move that tangles her feet and makes her scramble to get out of range.
He presses the attack and they end up with their swords crossed above their heads. They bring their hands and swords down and he mocks her. ‘Is that all?’
She pushes forward, gaining some distance from him. Her lips pout in anger.
Their swords clank noisily in her living room, almost a dizzying dance every bit as challenging as the other aspects of the game of cat and mouse they are playing.
She somehow gets the advantage and swipes his upper arm, tearing his shirt and his skin. Blood seeps out to stain his pristine white shirt.
That startles him, and he looks at her with surprised eyes. He stops his attack for just a second.
‘This is what you wanted or you wouldn’t have come,’ she taunts him. She grunts a little as she lunges towards him, taking advantage of his momentary startle.
'I didn’t want a ruined shirt,’ he snarls, all hints of amusement draining from his face. He deflects her attacks, left and right, uses his weight to his advantage and pushes more aggressively towards her.
‘I’ll buy you a new one, when you admit you’re Adrian Carter.’
‘My name is Laurence Dominic,’ he pushes out. ‘I know what Rossum did to you. I know what they made you do.’ He suddenly shifts targets to her lower legs.
‘You know nothing about me,’ she says as she skillfully draws away from his attack.
He advances as he talks. ‘Katherine Sharp, born in London, England. Orphaned at age nine when her mother died of cancer and her father drank himself to death six weeks later. Went from orphanage to orphanage until the age of sixteen. Begged, borrowed or stole for a while. Became a Dollhouse active at age nineteen.’
‘That is not who I am,’ She emphasizes every word as though it was a complete sentence. Her anger seeps through, her chest heaves with the effort of containing her rage.
She continues. ‘Katherine Sharp was a lost little girl. Alone, uncultured, uneducated, uncared for-- barely getting by. Her life was nothing.’ She speaks in a measured pace, a difficult feat now that all her calm resolve has vanished. No one has mentioned that name to her in a very long time.
‘Rossum took away your life,’ he asserts.
‘They gave me a life!’ she yells. ‘I had all that money. I could be whoever I wanted. So I became Adelle DeWitt. I am Adelle DeWitt!’ She grunts, brandishes her foil threateningly and starts towards him, aiming her sword downward.
But now, her focus is disturbed, her movements imprecise, the anger taking hold of her.
She gets too close and he steps on her blade, trapping it beneath his boot. She shoves her body against him in an effort to dislodge it. He pushes back much harder and as she struggles to maintain her footing, he sends her foil flying across the room.
He pins her against the wall. His hand grasps the side of her neck tightly, the sword aimed directly at her, pointing at her throat. Their breathing heavy, blowing the hair on her face.
‘Rough day at work?’ he asks casually, but his eyes belie the tone of his voice. He’s wearing the same look she’s seen at the party in Russia.
He darts his eyes to her lips and throws his sword on the floor.
Then he kisses her, hard. His lips crashing down on hers— open mouthed, wet, no hint of hesitation. He kisses her so hard his teeth hit hers, bumping slightly. His tongue proved aggressive, taking advantage of her surprised gasp to push his tongue inside her mouth. Her hands land on his chest, grabbing his shirt. She pushes herself against him— unsure now whether to push him back, or to push her mouth more firmly against his.
They hear the faint sounds of sirens. He pulls back, startled. Their breathing is heavy, thick and hot. Both of them unsettled and unsure of what just happened.
He’s gone before she can even think of where she placed her gun.
Things just became much more complicated.
Four years and six months
‘He’s going to the roof!’ she yells. The security men behind her scramble up the stairs in her wake, several of them panting hard and slowing considerably. Laurence has a small head start up the fire escape stairwell in one of Rossum’s smaller buildings in Tucson.
God, she hates Arizona.
She aims her gun high the moment she sees him. He’s holding the railing on the stairs and he looks down at her, his smile wicked.
She doesn’t shoot.
Someone else does though, and she sees it as one of the other security men. It misses Laurence by a long shot, but it slows him down.
She climbs up the stairs more quickly, her men still struggling behind. She sees the door to the roof open and proceeds with a measure of caution, her fingers gripping tightly at her gun.
When she emerges, Laurence is standing near the ledge, his gun pointed directly at her.
She quickly aims her gun at him and narrows her eyes to get a better shot.
‘There’s nowhere to hide, Laurence.’ she yells.
‘Oh, we’re on a first name basis now, are we? I’m touched.’ he mocks, and puts his hand on his chest and taps it twice.
He smiles suddenly, spreads his arms wide and leans back, lets himself fall off the ledge.
‘‘No!’ she screams. She’s running towards the edge of the roof, when she hears the telltale whir of a helicopter.
She sees Laurence inside the helicopter, standing by the open hatch, waving at her as the helicopter flies away.
‘So Dom, is that her?’ John asks as he stands behind him in the helicopter, the sound of the propeller ringing in his hears.
‘Yup,’ Laurence answers; and he cannot help the wide grin that spreads on his face.
John points at him and laughs. ‘You’ve got it bad, man.’ John tells him. John knows him too well, he thinks.
He tries for the defensive. ‘Look who’s talking.’ He scoffs.
John throws him an innocent face.
‘Asked the good doctor out yet?’ Laurence teases.
‘I have no idea what you’re talking about,’ John counters and ostentatiously turns his back on Dominic and straps himself in to his seat.
Enjoying the feel of the wind on his face, Laurence holds on near the door and watches the sun set over the desert.
Her phone rings.
‘Having a pleasant evening, Ms DeWitt?’ he asks.
‘You have much to answer for Mr. Dominic.’ she barks into the phone.
‘Is that so?’
‘You forced me to come to Arizona. I loathe Arizona.’
He laughs abruptly. Clearly that wasn’t what he was expecting. ‘Well, next time, somewhere more exotic and tropical perhaps? We can go to the beach.'
What she says instead: 'Next time I will catch you. And you won’t be able to escape.’
‘Promises promises,’ he chides. ‘Besides, after all this time, you still have no proof. ‘
‘I will get it.’
'Next time, bring a bikini. Just in case,' he says and hangs up.
She's sure he's Adrian Carter. Well, half sure. At the very least he's part of the resistance, and while it would be vastly simpler to just kill him, they ordered her not to. She never really questioned that before, assumed that they just want him to torture him, but now she's starting to wonder if there's more to it. She's really not sure now if she really does want to kill him, even if the higher ups change their minds and tell her to. He's provided her with proof, when it should be her getting the information to prove him and the resistance are the enemies and to bring them down. Now, nothing is quite as simple as they were before. He’s complicated everything.
‘Why are you telling me these things?’ she asks him. He keeps leaving clues and information for her to find. All about the Chinese and Rossum’s plans with them. The maps and blueprints for mass wiping—incomplete, he says, this is why they need Alpha— that years ago she never thought possible.
She was sitting in a café drinking a cup of tea and enjoying the sunshine when he slid into the seat across from her. His face hidden mostly by the shades and cap he’s wearing, but she’d come to know his stance and the way he moves from years of hunting him down. She can recognize his face from a mile away.
He grabs her hand that’s holding the cup and she stills.
He finally answers her question.
‘Because you deserve to know the truth, Adelle. We all do.’
He corners her in her hotel room in Berlin.
The intel she gathered was that his team was in Germany. He was spotted somewhere near the Rossum facility in Berlin. And while she suspects the intel might be a trap, she really cannot take a chance not to follow up on it. Her superiors are getting restless, putting much more pressure on her to move things along and gather more concrete information against him and the resistance.
‘I sent for you Ms. DeWitt.’ he says to her.
He lunges forward, and she tries to grab the gun sitting on her dresser. He is quick on the uptake and grabs both of her hands and pushes her backwards.
‘Get your hands off me.’ She struggles against his hold, her hands pinned between then as he pushes her back against the wall.
‘Stop Adelle! Just stop.’ His hold tightens but his voice softens. ‘Please,’ he says, almost pleading. ‘I won’t hurt you.’
She stops struggling but clenches her fists tighter, getting a firmer grip on his shirt and ready to push him aside.
He leans his head on her shoulder. She can sense he’s struggling for words, but she knows that whatever he came to say to her — and he came, deliberately— she knows, that he’s made up his mind to tell her. She doesn’t need or want to prod him.
‘Adelle, listen to me. That bomb that went off at the L.A. Rossum Building ten years ago? That wasn't us.’
Her breath hitches. 'Why are you telling me this?'
'Because I'm not the one who killed your husband.’
She shouldn't be surprised that he knows. Knows about that little tidbit of her life. She knows her file is sealed tighter than a vault, but these things have a way of getting out. Topher is good. His team is good. Good at getting secrets the Rossum Corporation has buried underneath all the bodies they’ve killed.
‘It was them Adelle. Rossum killed Roger.'
Roger Howarth was ten years ago, when she was twenty-five and still full of hope and promise, so long ago; another lifetime ago. After her five years as an active, Rossum paid for her education and they must have been keeping tabs on her because apparently, they saw something they liked, and persuaded her to work for them. There, while working for Rossum, she met Roger.
Roger was a doctor of the best kind— a virologist working in one of the other labs while she was touted and being trained as the next big thing in stem cell research. Kind and considerate, Roger had been gentle in a way no one else had been to her. She fell in love quickly and deeply, and they were happy.
Roger and she had been married for only a scant 5 months before it happened. The explosion that took his life and she cried and cried and cried.
She was Adelle DeWitt then, but she wasn’t the Adelle DeWitt now. She became icy and cold when Roger died.
Now, steely and ruthless and every bit as manipulative as they said she was, and more, Adelle's eyes flicker with sadness at the memory. Not too many people knew about Roger, all her friends from that life are long gone now, that brief respite of her life when she was happy, was taken away by Rossum.
This is probably why they thought she could do this job— get the information on Laurence; use her anger and want for revenge to the people who killed Roger.
Use her to bring the resistance down. Use her.
She never liked being used, And now she realizes she’s the biggest fool of all.
But this man before her, his life full of lies, full of secrets; should be the farthest person to tell her the truth— and yet, he is the one to do so. What she thought before has been proved fallacious; she should have expected this— this kind of deceit from the people that have made her do all these things. While they were far from moral, she thought Rossum’s agenda was better in the long run, nothing as greedy and power hungry as the evidence piling up has presented them to be. In the back of her mind she thought she was doing the world a favor— now she thinks she is contributing to its inevitable end.
Now her world is turned upside down, this man has turned her world upside down. This man who for all intents and purposes should not even be a part of her life, yet here he is, the only person telling her the truth, when so many people have hidden behind their deceit. The only man who wanted her to know the truth.
She looks at him and she watches him lick his lips. His breath is ragged, warm on her face. His pupils are awash in desire and she has been thinking about this, considering this for a while, ever since he kissed her.
It’s her who damns them this time.
She presses her lips to his, uses the wall on her back for leverage to push her body against his. She nips, bites at his lower lip and he growls in response. She moans as his tongue demands entrance into her mouth. She licks his lips, circles her tongue against his mouth and pushes it inside and desire floods her even more when she thinks about using her tongue to lick every inch of his body. She grabs his hips and grinds herself against him.
He slides his hand higher and cups one of her breast through the soft fabric of her blouse. She automatically arches against his hand, catching the way his palm curves over her breast. She moans and he squeezes even harder, his thumb flicking over the hardened nub of her nipple through the layers of clothing. His breath hitches, catches in his throat as she slides her hands to the seam of his pants, palms his hardening erection through the fabric. He hisses, grabs a fistful of her hair with his other hand and pulls— nips and bites at her exposed neck. He keeps his mouth on her neck, hot and wet and demanding— his hands exploring, caressing her back, moving forward to fondle her breasts again before he slides them down and up beneath her skirt. His hands slide beneath her skirt, caressing her thighs, his thumb teasing the inside of her thighs as his hands move higher. Her digits scramble for his belt and she undoes them quickly, slips her hands inside and palms his length through his boxers. One of his hands cup her backside while the other grabs a fistful of her underwear and starts to slide them down her—
Reality comes crashing down heavily on her. She can’t do this. She shouldn’t do this.
‘Stop, Laurence. We can’t do this.’ She takes her hands out of his pants and he hisses again.
He stops with her underwear halfway down, and he leans his head on her shoulder, breathing heavily.
Six years and four months
Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
It seems so long ago now, that time when he hated her. He never truly did, he realizes. He tried, he tried so hard to hate her— because she was there, the symbol of everything the resistance was fighting against— and yet he never could.
He tells himself she’s a victim, just like him, just like everybody else he knows. They have been corrupted by people who had no right to play God.
He thinks these things while Adelle orders Judith to hurt him. It helps him focus and withstand the pain.
‘That’s enough,’ Adelle says to Judith.
Judith abruptly stops. His sides hurts, he has a gash on his head and blood is already trickling down the side of his face. His head is pounding. He rolls around on his back on the floor.
‘Talk.’ Adelle commands him.
‘Never.’ he says defiantly. He coughs, a wheezing sound leaving his lips.
She kicks him herself; her long toned leg armed with a deadly elegant boot that hits his stomach.
He knows she didn’t kick him as hard as she could.
Sao Paolo, Brazil
They fuck for the first time with their clothes on.
They knew it was only a matter of time.
His digits fumble clumsily with her skirt, his hands moving by touch in the dark room. His mouth slides wetly against hers, his tongue probing her mouth. He reaches beneath her skirt and pulls her underwear down her legs, reminiscent of their last encounter. Now though, he knows they are not stopping.
She struggles with the button of his trousers, and there is an audible pop when she finally gets them open. She slowly pulls his zipper down, and nips at his chin while she frees him from his trousers and strokes him, feeling the hot wet dampness on her palm. She stops momentarily and brings her hand to his mouth, and he licks it, licks her palm with his tongue and open mouth. She brings her hand back down and he hisses when she squeezes gently, strokes him up and down and runs her thumb over the tip of his cock. She licks her lips and bites his ear and he hears her ragged breaths.
He probes her with his fingers, feeling the wetness between her legs. He spreads it around, getting her wet and ready. He pushes his fingers inside her just a bit, teasing, he grunts and she moans, tilts her head back against the wall while his thumb circles her clit.
She drags his cock nearer to her entrance and he knows she’s ready, pulls his fingers out gently and kisses her hard, helps her guide him inside her. He gasps into her mouth when she hitches her leg up his hip, grabs her and puts his hand under her thigh to secure her firmly against him, the action pulling him deeper into her. He moans at the hot sensation he’s enveloped in, and tucks his head against her neck, bites her shoulder as he thrusts into her harder. His other hand cups her neck and his thumb slides against her lip, dragging her lower lip down. Her mouth closes around his thumb, swirling her tongue against the digit as she sucks on it. Her head falls back again and she hitches her leg higher, squeezing her thigh against his as she meets him thrust for thrust, punctuating each snap of his hips with a soft cry. He hisses every time he pushes into her.
His trousers are only pushed down low enough on his hips to move inside her, her blouse still tucked beneath her skirt. He slides one of his hands over her blouse and moves the fabric to the side to expose her bra. He cups her breast and runs his thumb over her nipple. He moves the cup to the side and touches skin, squeezing and kneading her breast as he licks the beads of sweat off her neck. He murmurs unintelligible things in her ear making her hot and heavy, her hands roaming his back.
He can feel she’s close but her eyes hint that she needs more, so he shoves his other hand between them and rubs his thumb on her clit—the same thumb she sucked into her mouth and the reminder makes his hips snap into her even harder, almost hitching her higher up on the wall.
He slides his thumb over her clit more firmly as she start to shudder, and she comes hot and wet all over him. His thrusts have become erratic and she clenches around him even harder, and he tries to keep it together but only manages two, maybe three short thrusts until he’s coming apart.
It was hot, quick, painful-- but the rush of release lifts the knotted tension he harbored inside for her for so long.
When their breathing has evened out considerably, he asks her, just this once.
‘Come with me.’
She laughs. ‘I just did.’
He smiles a little but remains undeterred. ‘That isn’t what I meant.’
‘I know what you meant.’ She breathes out softly.
A beat passes, and another. The room is silent except for their heavy breathing.
She whispers. ‘You know I can't.’
‘I can give you safe haven,’ he says, almost pleading.
‘Laurence,’ her tone clearly a warning.
‘Come with me Adelle.’
She doesn’t talk for a long time. He pulls out of her and then quickly pulls his pants up, buttons them up, and palms her cheek as he kisses her softly.
He leaves and she lets him.
She’s flagged him, putting it into his file that any and all dealings with him must go through her. No one does anything, no one hunts him or his men without her authority.
He does the same, spreading the word throughout the entire resistance movement that no one touches her but him.
Most people think— rightfully so, because that should be the case— is that they hate each other and the battle they wage has become personal. That she wants him dead by her own hands, and he feels the same thing for her.
But the truth is exactly the opposite. This is their twisted, long winded way of taking care of each other, of ensuring that the other one does not get hurt — not to the point of death anyway.
Seven years and eleven months
New York City, New York
They meet at an abandoned warehouse in New York City in the dead of night.
He gives her a file containing information on the various Dollhouses and what Rossum has planned for them. He gives her proof.
He kisses her softly. ‘Take care of yourself, Adelle,’ he says quietly against her lips.
‘Try not to get into too much trouble,’ she replies, and they both laugh.
Eight years and six months
They have 48 hours.
That’s longer than they’ve spent together in the long, hard years they’ve known each other.
But they’ve taken every precaution, ensured that they wouldn’t be traced. Falsified their flight plans lied to anyone who would listen about where they were headed and why. He understands now that this was inevitable. He thinks he knew at the back of his mind when they first met that she would be his downfall.
They’re in a spacious hotel room, not really neat, not particularly dirty, but functions just fine for what they intend.
She’s backed up against the cabinet, a piece of furniture so old that it might give way if they aren’t more careful.
He’s on his knees, her skirt pushed all the way up until it pools on her hips. He didn’t bother to take her underwear off, just fisted the little scrap of fabric in his hand and pushed it to the side.
He presses a kiss against the inside of her thigh, and drags his tongue over her. He hitches her leg up against his shoulder and she bites her lip to stifle the moans coming out of her mouth. She bites hard—hard enough that she feels skin break and she releases her mouth and breathes in, heavy. His nose is teasing her clit as he licks her open, his tongue exploring her with quick, heavy laps.
She begins to shudder, so close to the edge when he slowly presses two fingers against her. He probes her opening slowly and pushes his fingers in, his tongue running circles on her clit. His fingers go in and out and her gasps descend into guttural moans.
‘Fuck, Laurence, keep doing that,’ she orders.
His tongue swirls just a little bit harder, and moves between her legs a little bit farther in. He uses his thumbs to open her wider and as she moans, and he laps at her just a little bit faster.
Just a few seconds pass and she’s coming, hot, intense, almost painful. All she hears is white noise, all she feels is sensation and she slams her head against the cabinet as she lets out a keening sound.
He stands up, lifts her up by her thighs and carries her onto the bed.
He wakes up hours later with his arm around her.
His thoughts drift back to the night before.
He vividly remembers them both finally getting naked, pinning her body with his and running his hands all over her, touching her everywhere. He remembers the slight bruises on her wrists as he pinned her down, as he was thrusting inside of her as hard as he could, watching as her back arched off the bed, her hips rocking in time with his thrusts, her moans mixing with his grunts. He watched her come undone, felt her come when his lips wrapped around her nipple, the sensation proving too much and she rocked her hips against his even harder.
When she got down from the throws of her orgasm, she pushed forward, pushed him onto his back and started riding him, hard. She pushed herself up and down, her hands planted on his chest and she circled her hips, eliciting a hard grunt from him. He grabbed tighter on her hips, no doubt leaving bruises there as well. He bent his knees and the action took him deeper inside of her. She’d let out a long moan and leaned forward, so that her breasts rubbed his chest.
She whispered in his ear, ‘Tell me.’
He must’ve looked confused, because she murmured, ‘Tell me you’re Adrian Carter.’ She circled her hips once more and he closed his eyes and pressed his head on the pillow.
He moved his head and whispered back. ‘I’m Adrian Carter,’ he breathed, as she started to come.
They’re lying in bed, they never really left, with the sheets wrapped around them. They’re facing each other — his thumb is running circles on her hip beneath the covers, and she has her hand resting on his chest, right above his heart.
‘Laurence, what did they take from you?’
He thinks now, he owes her this answer, at the very least.
She looks at him expectantly, so he clarifies. ‘They sent me to the attic.’
Eight months pass since they last saw each other.
They’ve been sending each other messages and sharing information in the interim; he provides her more information on the other Dollhouses and what Rossum is doing with them, and she discreetly sends him details of Rossum’s dealings with the Chinese.
She’s definitely helping the resistance now.
She isn’t able to send them a lot, and Laurence never directly asks her for anything, and she knows it’s because he somehow fears for her safety. Sometimes he even tries to dissuade her from accessing some delicate information. Even with her clearance, Laurence knows as well as she does that everything she accesses gets flagged, and even more questions will arise when Rossum finds her accessing files she doesn’t have anything to do with.
A few encounters here and there, some stolen phone calls, encrypted messages buried deep into their personal accounts, and a few rolls in the sack are not what a relationship makes.
And yet, here they are, they are in this together. Years have passed and they are in too deep in whatever the hell it is they have—they have never asked what they are too each other— no one understands, not even them— so they have never tried to verbalize or put a name to whatever relationship this is.
When she arrives home one day, she finds a letter addressed to Katherine Sharp.
It can only be from one person.
But the note surprises her—
I'm so sorry Adelle. They got Alpha. We couldn't stop them.
Please don't answer the phone. The tech got out.
And written—scribbled—hurriedly at the bottom (she can almost see his face, his indecision whether or not to include the last line):
Just in case I don't see you again — I love you.
The next day, the world falls.