She grimaced and said, pushing her hair out of her face, “My partner and I were conducting an investigation and it intersected with a ‘Cops’ camera crew and the officers they were following, so they stayed with us the rest of the night too. Please change it. Please, Dom. I hated this.”
“But you look fabulous,” Dominic said, his eyes on the image of her on the screen as she lectured a tall, dark-haired man. She kept trying to move away from the camera, glancing at it uncomfortably when she wasn’t glaring at the tall man.
“I was so embarrassed and self-conscious.”
“What were you investigating?” Orlando said. “Serial killer? Kidnappers?”
Dana exhaled. “A fear demon.”
Both men looked at her. Orlando opened his mouth and then closed it again.
“My partner had a theory that during the full moon a fear demon would manifest as its victim’s deepest fear and then frighten them to death, to feed on their fear and their life-energy,” Dana said in a perfectly calm tone.
Dominic looked back at the television and felt his heart thud in his chest. So this was him. The partner, William’s father, her lost love. Mulder.
“Handsome bloke,” he said as neutrally as he could. “Very tall.”
“When you’re 5’2, everybody’s very tall. You’re not going to make me watch this, are you?”
“No,” Dom muttered, changing the channel, “sorry, of course not.”
“Hey!” Orlando said. “I want to see what a fear demon looks like.”
“We never saw it,” Dana said quietly. “We–well, I hardly ever saw anything.”
“But you don’t believe it was true?” He leaned on his elbow, and Dominic looked at her too, wondering what her answer would be.
Dana’s gaze slid back to the telly, now gushing over a boxed set of disco favorites, and said quietly, “Something killed those people that we couldn’t catch and couldn’t see. That’s all I needed to know.”
Orlando’s eyes were serious as he nodded and laid his head back down, cradling it on his arm. “It’s really part of you, isn’t it,” he said softly. “Law enforcement, I mean. It’s who you are.”
“It’s not all of who I am,” Dana said. Her hand sought Dom’s and squeezed it tightly. “But wanting to help people–that is me.” Dom watched her as she said, “You know the saying: the surest way for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” She noticed his steady gaze and smiled faintly, blushing.
“You’re not going to move out here any time soon, are you,” Dom said as the realization dawned on him.
“Not until I’m ready to leave,” Dana said gently. “Until they throw me out or take away my resources or I have no strength left to fight.”
Dom nodded and kissed her. No doubt about it, he thought. I hate Mulder.
“I’m . . . missing something,” said Orlando.
“It’s all right, Orli,” Dom said, patting Orlando’s dark curls. “I’ll explain it in the morning.”
“Mm.” Orlando snuggled against Dom’s chest again. Dom glanced at Dana, expecting her to object–but she just smiled and closed her eyes.
Three to a bed–he hadn’t done this for a long time. He crawled off the bed again to turn off lights and lock doors, then came back and made himself comfortable between Orlando and Dana. Dana moved onto her good side and laid her hand on his chest. Sleepily she kissed his cheek.
“Are you okay with this?” Dominic murmured.
“Uh-hm. Are you?” He could hear the smile in her voice.
“Yeah–it’s not the first time.”
“Then I’m okay.” Her fingertips traced patterns on his chest. Dom squeezed his eyes shut and forced his breathing to stay even. She was soft and warm, round in all his favorite places, and he wanted nothing more than to crush her body to his and relearn the flavors of her skin.
Next time, he thought with a sigh.
In New Zealand, after a long day of play or work, quite frequently Dominic would wake up in a pile of hobbits and an elf–sometimes even a Man or two. He had loved mornings like that, the good morning hugs, the sleepy chatter as they got breakfast, the sheer satisfaction of waking up with his friends. At the time he’d thought he couldn’t love anybody outside of his family better or more.
Waking up with Dana made him feel the same way.
He watched her sleep for a moment, then softly kissed her and pulled back to watch her wake. She blinked a few times and then smiled at him, her eyes half-closed and her mouth warm when she kissed him back.
“Hi,” he whispered.
“Hi. What time is it?”
Dom glanced over her to the clock. “Six-thirty.”
“Mm . . . Early. When’s your class?”
“Not ’til eight.”
“Then you can play a little,” she whispered, nuzzling his lips.
“Just a little. Orli’s not that heavy a sleeper.”
Dana glanced over him to see Orlando curled against Dom’s back–she was smiling when she started kissing him again. “This bears a striking resemblance to a daydream I had,” she murmured.
Dom raised his eyebrows. “Serious?”
She shrugged. “I was thinking about you and some of the rumors I’ve been reading–“
Dominic groaned. “Oh, for God’s sake.”
“They’re kind of sexy. In a purely abstract, fantastical way. I’m fully aware that friendship and chemistry do not automatically mean sex, but–well–” She shrugged again, blushing. “It’s kind of fun to speculate on what might have been.”
“You think of two men at once,” Dom murmured, and thought, There are things I could tell her after all. He kissed her and exhaled deeply, rubbing her shoulders. “That’s kinda sexy too.”
“Thinking is as far as it’s gotten. I’m not sure I’d ever really feel brave enough–or trust two people that much.” She ran her fingertips over his bottom lip. “So don’t get your hopes up.”
“No, no, never,” Dom said, kissing her. “I was in this daydream of yours, yeah?”
“My love, you were the main attraction.” She smiled wickedly and kissed him again, her fingers in his hair.
“Good God, you two,” Orlando said, throwing a pillow at them and getting out of bed. “I’ll be in the shower.”
“We’ve got yoga,” Dominic said, then laughed at the dirty look Orlando gave him over his shoulder.
The girls in Dom’s yoga class were disappointed Orlando didn’t come with him, but it was a decent class anyway. Dom felt ready to face another day of being loving and attentive and keeping his hands to himself. More or less.
It would be easier, he thought, if Dana would keep her hands to herself too. Normally he’d be glad she was feeling affectionate, but it was hard to accept her kisses and know there would be nothing further.
Nirvana is the absence of desire, he thought, then smiled wryly: for the time being, he’d rather have the desire.
the house smelled of fresh coffee when he opened the front door, and he could hear Elijah’s distinctive laugh as he approached the back.
“Oh, my God,” Orlando was saying. “How did he get out of that?”
“Well,” Dana said, “luckily he’d picked up some salt pellets from the bag for the water softener–a little higher, please–so he drew a circle of salt on the floor and stood in the center.”
“And that held them back?” said Elijah, incredulous.
“It’s very old magic. Hey, love,” she added when she saw Dom, who had paused in the doorway to the back balcony to listen. She was sitting on a lounge chair with Orlando, who was rubbing her shoulders. Elijah sat at their feet with a big mug of coffee and an ever-present cigarette.
“Dommie!” he said, dropping his cigarette in an ashtray and getting to his feet, and he hugged Dominic warmly.
“Lij,” Dom said happily, “I thought you were in New York this week.”
“I was, until last night. But I had to come say goodbye before you left for Hawaii. I’m here until Monday, is that cool?”