“Of course,” Dom said, tousling Elijah’s already-tousled hair. “You’re always welcome, little Lij.”
He hugged Elijah again, just because he could, and Elijah took the moment to whisper, “I approve,” with a small nod towards Dana.
Dominic grinned back and let Elijah go to give Dana hello kiss. “Hey, you.”
“How was yoga?” She tugged on his hand so he would join them on the lounge chair.
“Great, just great. Orli broke some hearts by not showing up, but I’m this much closer to true inner peace.” He held his forefinger and thumb a hair’s breadth apart.
“Oh, poor love,” Dana said and held his wrist so she could kiss his symbol of unenlightenment.
“I’m sure whatever hearts I may have broken will recover without any trouble,” Orlando said, still rubbing Dana’s shoulders.
“I don’t know–the blonde may have finally worked up the courage to say hello to you. Instead they had to settle for boring old me. Oi.” He nodded towards Orlando. “Planning to steal my woman, Bloom?”
“Yes,” Orlando said smugly, while Elijah laughed and Dana looked indignant.
“It takes a lot more than a back rub to win me over, bub.”
“If I’d known that,” Orlando began, removing his hands.
“Shove over, then. You’re in my spot.” Dominic and Orlando exchanged places, and Dana gave him a faintly puzzled look before leaning back against him–far more relaxed than she’d been under Orlando’s hands, he noted with satisfaction.
“Tell us the rest of the story,” Elijah said eagerly. “Mulder was holding off the zombies with a circle of salt–“
“Yes,” Dana said. “He didn’t get the circle drawn before one of them managed to bite him, so he was bleeding and out of bullets, not that they did much good anyway–“
“Wait a tic,” Dominic said. “This is something that really happened?”
“Yes. New Year’s Eve, 1999. The world was going to end and we . . . kind of . . . stopped it.” She stroked his hand that rested on her belly.
“Wow,” Dominic said. “And I’ve been kidding myself that dating an actor would be interesting for you.”
“It has been interesting. And fun. And a distinct lack of apocalypses, which is just what I want out of a relationship.”
“I don’t exactly take you fear-demon-hunting, do I. Of course, you don’t exactly let me take you anywhere.”
“I want some more coffee,” Elijah said, standing again. “Anyone else?”
“I think I’ll help,” said Orlando, following him inside.
Dana watched them go in silence, then said, “Did something happen today? I have never seen you this sour.”
“I’m not sour.”
“You are sour. Tell me.” She turned her head back to him then her whole self, biting her lip as she put her arms around his neck. “Tell me what happened.”
Dominic scowled. “It’s stupid.”
“Tell me anyway.”
“After class, I was getting some water at the juice bar like usual, and I heard this woman say, ‘Who’s that?’ And her friend said, ‘That’s one of the hobbits from The Lord of the Rings.’ And the first woman said, ‘Why do I never spot any good celebrities?'”
“Oh, Dominic,” Dana murmured, though he could see she was trying not to smile.
“I know it’s stupid. I know it shouldn’t bother me. But ever since I got to L.A. my skin has gotten so thin . . .” He sighed and leaned his forehead against hers. “And you know that if Orlando had been with me that woman would have counted it as a good spotting.”
“Dom,” Dana murmured again, kissing him.
He said after a moment, “Sometimes I think I’d sell my soul for Orli’s career. I love him, don’t get me wrong. But I hate him sometimes too. It’s the look. I know that. Orlando’s getting the parts he’s getting because he has the look. He looks like a hero–and I look like a junkie.”
Dana sighed and stopped kissing him. She cupped his face in her palms and said gently, “You are so beautiful, Dominic.”
“Dana . . .” he began, embarrassed.
“You are. You’re beautiful. You light up every room you go into. People love being around you.” Her eyes were serious and her thumbs stroked his cheekbones. “You are beautiful and talented, and when the series starts everyone will see it.”
“My character’s not a hero either. Not yet, anyway. It’s hard to say about television. That could change but right now he’s just a junkie.”
“Then it’s up to you to make him likable, right? To make Charlie worth caring about.” She paused, still stroking his face, and said quietly, “I watched that miniseries you did, the one about the French village in World War II. The ending hit me pretty hard.”
“I hear that a lot,” Dominic murmured.
“All through the series Etienne was charming and sweet, and then . . .” She shook her head. “Yet I couldn’t hate him, even though I wanted to. Not just because you played him but because I liked him. That’s what you need to do with Charlie: make him impossible to hate.” She rubbed his cheek and kissed his lips. “Kind of like you, beautiful boy.”
Dom managed to smile, and embraced her as tightly as he dared. “This is why I need you around,” he whispered into her neck.
“Your friends will tell you the same thing.”
“But they won’t cuddle me while they do.”
“I don’t know–they seem pretty cuddlesome, this bunch.”
“Cuddlesome?” He raised his head. “Is that a word?”
“It is now.” She kissed him and studied his face. “Better?”
“Yeah. Thanks.” He kissed her back.
“We were talking about going out for breakfast. Does that sound good to you?”
“Sure. There’s a place I like within walking distance.” He remembered her ribs and the painful way she held herself when she was walking, and added, “Or not.”
“We’ll find a place, I’m sure. Will you help me take a shower? It still hurts to lift my arms.”
“This isn’t making the ‘leave you alone and let you rest’ thing any easier,” Dom said, swinging his legs off the lounge chair. He stood and helped her to her feet. “Us naked and steamy and soapy, and you expect me not to touch you?”
“No,” Dana said, smiling. “I don’t expect that at all.”
There was a line at Dom’s favorite breakfast restaurant, so they waited outside in the garden patio. Elijah and Orlando were talkative enough for all of them, so Dom was able to just hold Dana on his lap and listen.
When he had visited her the week before–just for one night, to both their frustration–Dana had tied his hands to the headboard with a gauzy scarf and licked his body until he begged for her mouth or her hands or anything, please, he just wanted to come, please let him come. Two weeks before that, when they had three whole days together, they had had movie sex: endless kisses, changing positions, stroking each other’s bodies, sweet whispers, multiple orgasms . . . and before that he’d bent her over the kitchen table, and before that they’d snogged in the car for half the night . . .
Every time they had sex he thought, Nothing could top this. But every next time did.
It had been just a handjob in the shower–but, fuck. Her mouth, her soapy hands, the water sluicing down her sleek body–if he thought about it anymore he’d get a woody just sitting here, surrounded by ivy and tea roses.
He kissed Dana’s neck. She smiled at her briefly, paying more attention to Elijah’s story than to him–but, Dom thought, he was quite okay with that. She loved him, after all. She believed in him. She would do things to his body no other woman had even tried, and she was the most tender lover he’d ever had. She’d whispered the dirtiest things to him in the shower, and she was now playing with the hair at the back of his head.
“Hey,” he murmured into her ear, jostling her slightly with his knee.
“Mm?” She tilted her head towards him.
He whispered, “I love you,” and kissed her neck again. Dana smiled and cupped his cheek.
“Oh, you do,” she murmured, then looked at him straight on and said, “Why?” She almost smiled but there was something serious in her eyes.