“When did everyone get so knowledgeable about my love life?” Dom said but Elijah didn’t even smile. “Fine. I’ll go. Will you–“
“Yes, go already. I’ll take over.” Dom started down the steps, stopped, turned back, and hugged Elijah close. Elijah kissed him between his eyebrows and said again, “Go.”
He went. It wasn’t hard to find them: the club had valet parking and they were in the line, waiting for the valet to bring the car around. Orlando had his arm around Dana, his head bent low, but they didn’t appear to be talking. It looked to Dom as if Orlando were holding her upright and she just didn’t have the strength for anything more.
He looked up when Dom came to them and said softly, “Dana.” She opened her eyes but didn’t step out from Orlando’s embrace and didn’t move closer to Dom.
Dom said, “Five minutes. Okay?”
“I’m listening,” she said quietly. She sounded so tired he ached for her.
“Before that girl asked me to dance I was thinking how much I’d rather be home with you.”
Her gaze was steady on his face. “Really.”
“Yeah, really. Look.” He had to say this, as hard as it would be. “If you want to break up with me, then let’s just break up. But don’t give me excuses about us not fitting, because you know that we do. Don’t give me any excuses. None of them are true.”
“You want me to give up everything important to me.”
“I want you to be happy. I make you happy. You can’t deny that.”
She looked away, blinking rapidly. “But your life won’t. This isn’t even very public and it’s just–” She shook her head. “You’ll want me to come with you to events with cameras and reporters and thousands of people–and I’ll be miserable and you’ll hate me. You want someone who can handle all this and I can’t. I just can’t.”
“Why can’t you? What is it that scares you so much? All this–” He gestured to the lines of people waiting to get in, the cars, the spotlights, the photographers’ flashbulbs that were beginning to pop, “this doesn’t effect us. Not you and me, not who we are together.”
“This is what keeps us apart. We live two very separate, very different lives. We come together once in a while to have fantastic sex and then we part again. And you make these plans as if we have this rock-solid relationship–“
“And we don’t?”
“We have sex, Dominic. That’s all we have.”
“Bullshit. If this weekend has proven anything it’s proved that we get along brilliantly without having to fuck. We’d still be friends without the sex. I’d still love you even if you never let me touch you.”
The other people waiting for their cars were listening with interest and Orlando had been watching them as if they were playing a tennis match. Dana was blushing furiously, trembling. His car pulled up and the valet stepped out, holding the door open.
Desperate, Dom said, “We’re not finished.”
“I think I’ve said all I have to say,” Dana said quietly.
“I haven’t. Orli, will you stay and go home with Lij and I’ll take Dana home.”
He looked down at Dana. After a moment she nodded. “Sure, mate,” Orlando said. He squeezed Dom’s shoulder as he went back into the club, waved past by the bouncer who knew them all well.
Dana eased into the car and folded her hands together as Dom got in and adjusted the seat. He guided the car out to the street and towards the freeway, though he had no real idea of where to go. He didn’t want to go home yet. There was no reason to go to another bar: she’d want privacy if they were going to continue this conversation, and he was determined that they would finish it.
He got onto the freeway, heading west.
After a while Dana said, “I think some of those photographers took pictures of us.”
“Could be. You’ll probably be Orli’s other woman for a week or so.”
She chuckled dryly. “I can’t wait to tell Monica.”
Several miles passed in silence. Dom said, “Orlando said something today that I’ve been thinking about too. He said I want to get married because Billy is. Billy’s moving on, so I need to move on too.”
“Is that true?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe I’m examining my life and seeing the changes I want to make.”
“So . . . maybe you’d be getting ready to marry whatever woman you’d be dating now.”
“And I’m dating you.” She sighed and Dom said, “I think we met at exactly the right moment. I think you’re ready to leave the FBI. I’m offering you a way out.”
Dana’s thumb worried her lower lip, her eyes on the dark city passing through the windows. “Where are we going?”
“Back to the beach.”
“Is that a good idea at night?”
“It’ll be fine. At this time of night it’ll probably be deserted.”
After a moment Dana said, “Remember I know twenty ways to kill you with my bare hands.”
Dominic laughed, looking at her, and she faintly smiled.
The cove was deserted, as he’d thought it would be. He turned off the engine and the lights and waited for his eyes to adjust to the dark. The ocean looked vast and mysterious in the moonlight, a deeper blue than in the daytime.
“Is this your favorite place?” Dana said quietly.
“Yeah. The surfing’s good and how it was this morning is as crowded as it gets. Do you want to walk a bit?”
She unbuckled her shoes and slipped them off. Dom followed suit, tossing his shoes into the back seat. They crossed the strip of pebbles that separated the parking lot from the beach, climbed down a short wooden staircase and went to where the waves just nibbled at the sand.
“Well,” Dana said after they had walked a bit. “You said you had more to say.”
“That was just a clever ploy to get you alone.” He could feel her eyebrow arching without having to look at her, and said, “Mostly I think I have more things to ask you.”
“All right,” she said, neutral.
“We’re a lot more than just sex. Granted, it is fantastic sex, but it wouldn’t be so fantastic if we didn’t feel something real for each other.”
“You don’t have to be in love to have good sex, Dom.”
“But it helps, yeah?” She didn’t answer, so he said, “You felt it that first day, just as strong as I did. Something powerful and beautiful and raw. But you still can’t let go of the idea that if you enjoy something it must be wrong.”
“I’ve never understood what you see in me,” Dana said. “A woman twelve years your senior with nothing but a child and a history of heartache.”
“I like to think you were waiting for me to grow up. It shouldn’t be much longer now.” That got a ghost of a smile and he said, “I like to have fun, I won’t deny that. But you’ve seen the kind of fun I like to have. I like to surf and play with my friends and swim and read and paint. I like to go to movies and dance and be with my girlfriend.”
“But why, Dominic? What do I bring to you, really?”
“Peace,” Dom said finally, studying her face in the moonlight. “Contentment. Intellectual stimulation. Fantastic orgasms. Improved spelling. You just make things feel–right.” Dana dipped her head and sighed, and Dominic said, “I know I make you happy.”
“Yes,” she murmured. “You do.”
“Well, you make me happy too. That’s what we’ve got. That’s why we fit.” He took a deep breath. “Though I do wonder what love has done to you that you trust it so little.”
The tip of her thumb stroked his knuckles and she said, “Love died. That’s what it did.”
“Love didn’t die, Dana. A man did.” She wiped her eye with the side of her hand, and Dom said, “I know I’m not as good-looking as Mulder was–“
“I hope to God I’m not that shallow, Dominic.”
“People call me ‘interesting.’ They don’t call me handsome.”
“Then they’re not really seeing you, are they.”
“Thank you.” He kissed the back of her hand. “But that wasn’t my point. My point is, I know I’m not Mulder–aside from the looks and the education and I’ve never been nibbled by a zombie–but I love you. And if that’s not enough then you’re right. We do have nothing. But I think it’s enough.”