Differing Points of View

By Margaret Price

Scenario One

The Thief, The Neo Nazi, And The Russian

THE THIEF

Voices.

This was the first thing Dorian was aware of as he slowly returned to his senses. Pain was the second. He tried to move and realized he was bound to a chair, his hands secured rather uncomfortably behind his back. He was also gagged and blindfolded. His captors weren’t taking any chances.

“Hey, he’s awake again,” one of the voices said with a laugh as the thief raised his head and struggled to sit up.

“Just in time,” another replied.

Dorian recognized this voice as belonging to a man named Hans, although he was certain the name was a fake. He was the bastard who had lured him into the trap that got him captured. Instead of meeting an art collector, he was confronted by Neo Nazis. The next thing he knew, he was being beaten within an inch of his life by a group of skinheads.

“Show the gentleman in,” Hans was saying.

Dorian heard the door open on what must have been the far side of the room. More unfamiliar voices filtered in. The door was closed and a new voice spoke.

“I thought you said he was unharmed,” the newcomer said in a disapproving tone—in Russian. Up until this point, everyone had been speaking German.

Dorian felt his heart miss a beat. Shit, KGB! Since when did they do business with Neo Nazis? His Russian was admittedly weak, but he knew enough to follow what was being said.

“The queer didn’t suffer any permanent damage, Mr. Chekov,” Hans replied. “He tried to put up a fight.”

Dorian could hear the smugness in his voice. Bloody sadist. Oddly, he and the others continued in German, while the newcomer spoke exclusively Russian. Perhaps his German is a weak as my Russian.

“Do you have the money?” Hans then asked.

“As agreed,” Chekov replied.

Dorian stiffened. I’m being sold? It was bad enough to be captured by Neo Nazis, but the thought of being sold like common chattel offended the thief’s aesthetic ideals. He heard a solid thump that must’ve been a briefcase of some sort being placed on a desk. There was the snap of a lock, a creak of hinges, followed by Hans giving a satisfied grunt. Just how much did you sell me for, you Nazi bastard?

“Untie his feet,” Chekov ordered. “I’m not carrying him.”

“You might want to,” an unknown voice replied. “He kicks.”

Dorian couldn’t help smiling to himself upon hearing this. At some point, while he was being moved from one place to another, he had managed to place a well-aimed kick to the private parts of one of his captors. The retaliation was unpleasant to say the least. It was also the reason he had been unconscious.

“I can handle a faggot who kicks,” Chekov replied coldly, his voice drawing nearer as he spoke.

Dorian jumped when someone suddenly started to remove the ropes from his ankles. He decided it was probably unwise to lash out at this particular time. Especially since he had no idea how many others were in the room.

Suddenly the door burst open and a panicked voice called, “Hans! The building’s being surrounded by NATO!”

“What?” Hans gasped.

There was a great deal of commotion in the room as the occupants clamored to the windows. Then Dorian realized the Russian had not moved from beside him.

“They must be after the queer!” someone snarled.

“NATO doesn’t give a shit about a civilian faggot thief,” Chekov replied coolly.

“He’s one of their contractors!” Ernst protested in English, his American accent unmistakable. He realized his error immediately and repeated himself in German.

“You stupid Yank, where did you hear that? The only interest NATO would have in this faggot would be to hand him over to Interpol.”

“You commie bastard!” Hans snapped accusingly. “You led them to us!”

“Don’t flatter yourself, you’re small potatoes. They’re after me. I expect they’re still upset that I took out one of their agents.”

“Who did you kill that has all of NATO on your ass?” Hans snorted derisively. “Iron Klaus?”

Dorian heard the man beside him light a cigarette and take a long drag on it as if contemplating whether or not to divulge this information. When he did, he felt his heart turn over.

“Yes.”

The room was overtaken with an awestruck silence.

“You killed Iron Klaus?” Hans said in an almost horrified tone. It was replaced with one filled with rage. “And you led all of his men here! You fucking moron! I thought you were a pro?”

Dorian wasn’t sure what happened next. Someone must’ve reached for a gun because the next thing he knew, Chekov was firing a weapon that was so quiet it had to have a silencer on it. He counted eight quick shots, in groups of two. This guy is a pro. Two shots each to the heart, no doubt.

Dorian heard four bodies fall and then the Russian was rifling through the papers on the desk. It was all a set up just to get some information. He’s not interested in me at all. He heard a snap and realized Chekov was reloading his gun. Eight shots in a seven shot clip. Definitely a pro. Is that what you did to my Major, you commie bastard?

Suddenly the man was back at his side and removing the gag from his mouth. “I don’t expect you’ll be yelling for help,” he said as he pulled Dorian to his feet.

After hearing about Iron Klaus, Dorian had no fight left in him and meekly got to his feet, only to wince in pain. Walking was not going to be easy.

“Come on,” Chekov said gruffly, taking him by the arm.

Dorian decided to follow his now late-captors’ lead and speak in German. “Look, whoever you are,” he said quietly, “I’m not going to be able to move very fast.”

“Why?”

Dorian felt the grip on his arm tighten slightly but was uncertain as to whether it was meant as a threat. “At the risk of sounding crude, they kicked me in the nuts. Several times. They thought it was funny.” And you probably do, too.

A pause. “Then I’m glad I killed them.”

Dorian was so stunned by this reply that he found himself at a loss for words. He meekly followed the Russian as he was guided from the room and out into a corridor. He heard more voices but the man beside him did not slow down. He moved at a steady pace until they reached the lift. Christ, this guy is cold. Am I going to be your next victim? Or are you being paid to deliver me somewhere?

Just as they were entering the lift, he heard what sounded like an explosion in the direction of the office they had left behind. A bomb? You left a bomb in that office, didn’t you?

“Someone stop that fucking Russian!” a voice that seemed far away called as fire alarms started to sound all over the building.

Dorian was suddenly shoved into the corner. Then he heard more quick shots until the doors fully closed. A moment later, the Russian seemed to be talking to himself. Dorian realized he must have a radio unit when there was a reply.

“Target acquired,” Chekov said curtly.

“Are you in position, sir?” The reply was in German, which puzzled the listening Dorian.

“Yes. There are no other civilians in the building. Begin the operation.”

Dorian sagged further into the corner into which he had been unceremoniously thrust. He’s leading NATO into a trap. The KGB are going to pretend they’re Neo Nazis, and there’s no Iron Klaus to stop them.

“We’re ready, sir,” the voice on the radio said.

“Proceed,” the Russian replied. Then to Dorian, he said, “Hang on. This is going to be a fast trip.”

Dorian didn’t have a chance to ask what he meant before the lift seemed to drop out from under him, plummeting he did not know how many floors before jolting to a halt. He ended up in a crumpled heap on the floor. He heard the doors open followed by a click. Chekov must’ve locked them open. The Russian moved out and Dorian heard another lift open and another click. He’s locking all the lifts on this level. NATO will be trapped up there!

A minute later, Dorian heard Chekov giving more orders in his radio unit before he returned and moved to where the thief sat in a heap on the floor. Dorian turned away, his face to the wall. If you want me to get up, you’re going to have to drag me. To his shock, instead of being dragged to his feet, the Russian was kneeling beside him, untying his hands.

“Are you going to kill me?” Dorian asked bitterly. “Say I was trying to escape?”

There was a pause. When the reply came, it was in English. “You idiot, haven’t you figured out who I am yet?”

Dorian jumped at the sound of the familiar voice and pulled off the blindfold, turning to see the Major pulling his long dark hair out from under a hat. He was looking at him with an almost amused expression on his face. “Major…” he breathed. “You’re not… I don’t…” He put a hand to his head, his mind reeling. He was glad he was already sitting down, because surely his knees would’ve failed him by now.

The Major sat down, leaning back against the wall and lighting a cigarette. He then offered one to the visibly shaken Dorian. “Once my men have rounded up those animals, I’ll have you taken to a hospital.”

Dorian nodded absently. Then it occurred to him that the Major wasn’t running off to supervise the operation. Instead, he seemed to be acting as the thief’s bodyguard. “You came after me,” he said at last, still not quite believing it himself. “You negotiated my selling price and paid it.”

“The money was counterfeit.”

Do you always have to burst my bubble with reality? “So, you wouldn’t pay good money for me, is that it?” Dorian said bitterly.

“No. I knew I’d be blowing up the case and the office I’d left it in,” the Major replied succinctly.

“Destroying the fact that you got the information you were after.”

“I wasn’t after any information, although that’s what NATO thinks I’m doing here. The fact that those idiots actually had any was a bonus.”

Dorian blinked. “You weren’t after information?”

“No.”

“You were after me? Specifically?”

“Yes.”

But you still covered your ass so no one would suspect that’s the real reason. “Why?” Dorian asked pointedly.

The Major sat thoughtfully a moment before saying calmly, “Because life would be far less interesting without you in it.”

Dorian was taken aback by this reply. What are you trying to tell me, Major? “Is that the only reason?”

The Major gave him a steady look. “For the time being.”

Because you still don’t think I’ll be discreet, do you? Dorian sighed heavily and leaned his head against the German’s shoulder. He was amazed when he did not tense up, pull away or yell at him. You need me to say it, don’t you?

“Major,” Dorian said quietly, “despite all the outlandish things I say and do, I’d never do anything to jeopardize your career.”

The Major turned slightly, put a hand beneath the other man’s chin and lifted his bruised face in order to look into his eyes. “Never?”

“Of course not. I love you.”

A pause.

“Oh, hell.”

To Dorian’s astonishment, the Major suddenly kissed him very gently on the mouth.

* * * * *

THE NEO NAZI

Things were going much better than expected, Hans thought happily. He glanced over to where the captive Eroica sat slumped in a chair, battered and bruised. He was pleased that the KGB had been interested in his “acquisition.” Rumor had it that Eroica was actually a NATO contractor, and considering the amount he had negotiated for him, a very valuable one. Hans would have liked to break the perverted faggot into pieces, but that was out of the question. He had promised to deliver the thief undamaged. He had, however, taken great delight in messing up his pretty face.

“Hey, he’s awake again,” he heard Otto say with a laugh.

Hans watched as Eroica struggled to sit upright, a cruel smile twisting the corners of his mouth. “Just in time,” he replied, glancing over to the door. “Show the gentleman in.” I think we’ve made him wait long enough.

Otto opened the door, motioning to the man waiting on the other side. “He’ll see you now.”

The newcomer entered and stopped dead. “I thought you said he was unharmed,” he said in a disapproving tone—in Russian.

Hans frowned. Couldn’t the commies as least send an agent who speaks German? We’re Neo Nazis, for Christ’s sake! He decided to have some fun with the man and continue in German, hoping this would annoy him. I hope you have to struggle to figure out what I’m saying. “The queer didn’t suffer any permanent damage, Mr. Chekov,” he replied with a sneer. “He tried to put up a fight.”

Chekov gave him a disapproving glare that sent a chill down his spine. Now he understood why this man had been sent to make the exchange.

“Do you have the money?” Hans asked, trying very hard not to sound as unnerved as he felt.

“As agreed,” Chekov replied as he placed the case in his hand on the desk with a thump. He held out a hand, inviting the other man to open it, which he did. Hans looked at the neatly stacked bills and smiled before nodding to his men.

The Russian turned to Eroica. “Untie his feet,” he ordered. “I’m not carrying him.”

“You might want to,” Otto replied. “He kicks.”

“I can handle a faggot who kicks,” Chekov replied coldly as he crossed the room. He glared at the man who was nearest. A moment later, the man was untying the thief’s feet.

Suddenly the door burst open. “Hans! The building’s being surrounded by NATO!”

“What?” Hans gasped, looking at Ernst’s panic-stricken face. He jumped to his feet and turned to the window, his men joining him. At first, all seemed quiet. Then he saw three unmarked vans in very suspicious locations.

“They must be after the queer!” Otto snarled, throwing a glace back at Eroica.

“NATO doesn’t give a shit about a civilian faggot thief,” Chekov replied coolly.

“He’s one of their contractors!” Ernst protested in English, his American accent unmistakable. He realized his error immediately and repeated himself in German.

 “You stupid Yank, where did you hear that? The only interest NATO would have in this faggot would be to hand him over to Interpol.”

“You commie bastard!” Hans snapped accusingly, spinning around to face him. “You led them to us!”

“Don’t flatter yourself, you’re small potatoes. They’re after me. I expect they’re still upset that I took out one of their agents.”

“Who did you kill that has all of NATO on your ass?” Hans snorted derisively. “Iron Klaus?”

Chekov casually lit a cigarette and took a long drag on it. Then he met the man’s accusing gaze and said calmly, “Yes.”

The room was overtaken with an awestruck silence.

“You killed Iron Klaus?” Hans said in an almost horrified tone. No more Iron Klaus breathing down our necks! Finally, we’ll be able get the respect we deserve! No more worrying about NATO— Shit! They’re right outside! “And you led all of his men here!” he thundered. “You fucking moron! I thought you were a pro?”

Otto decided this was his signal and reached for a gun, which seemed to be the signal to everyone else to do the same. He realized his mistake too late when Chekov drew a weapon with a silencer on it. He took out the three juniors in quick succession before they had a chance to even aim their drawn weapons. Then he turned to Hans with a small smile on his face.

Hans looked into the man’s eyes, and realized too late who he was. Iron Klaus!

This was his last thought before two bullets ended his life.

* * * * *

THE RUSSIAN

“Mr. Chekov, would you like some coffee while you wait?” Ernst asked.

“No,” came the terse reply. “Sod off.”

Ernst frowned and stalked off. Fucking commie. The only reason I’m being nice to you is you’re taking that faggot out of here.

Klaus didn’t care if the idiot was insulted or not. As far as he was concerned, Neo Nazis were the scum of the Earth. How long are these bastards going to make me wait? he wondered in annoyance as he lit his fifth cigarette since arriving—exactly on time. They have the gall to call themselves Germans? No self-respecting German would have this lack of punctuality.

Real Neo Nazis were bad enough, but this lot of wannabe German rejects were really starting to piss Klaus off. He was amazed that they had managed to pull off this operation without screwing it up at some point. Eroica must’ve been having a very bad day for you lot to get hold of him and keep him this long. He had expected to learn the thief had escaped when he arrived to make the exchange.

After what seemed an eternity, the office door opened and a man who had introduced himself as Otto appeared. Klaus could tell from his accent that he was American. In fact, all the Neo Nazis in this wannabe terrorist group seemed to be Americans. This idiot had very likely decided to take a “German sounding” code name. From the look of him, he probably had some ridiculously bland Yank name like Bob.

Klaus stepped through the door and stopped dead upon seeing Eroica’s battered form. He turned a disapproving scowl in Hans’ direction. “I thought you said he was unharmed,” he said harshly, and in Russian. There was no way in hell he was going to deign to reply to these buggers’ bastardized German with the real thing.

“The queer didn’t suffer any permanent damage, Mr. Chekov,” Hans replied smugly. “He tried to put up a fight.”

That was probably a stupid thing to do, but I can’t say I blame him. Klaus had to fight the urge to wipe the smirk off the other man’s face with a well-aimed punch. He was, however, pleased when he saw him flinch.

“Do you have the money?” Hans asked nervously.

“As agreed.” Klaus placed the case in his hand on the desk with a thump, initiating the arming sequence of the bomb within at the same time. He then held out a hand, inviting Hans to open it—and begin the countdown. He casually looked at his watch when the latches were opened. Five minutes from…now. He waited until Hans signaled to his men before turning to Eroica.

“Untie his feet,” Klaus ordered. “I’m not carrying him.”

“You might want to,” Otto replied. “He kicks.”

“I can handle a faggot who kicks,” Klaus replied coldly as he crossed the room. That’s the least of my problems. He saw scratches and bruises on Eroica’s throat as he drew nearer and wondered which of the bastards had tried to strangle him. He turned his growing rage on the man who was nearest to the thief, glaring coldly at him. A moment later, the man was untying Eroica’s feet.

Suddenly the door burst open. “Hans! The building’s being surrounded by NATO!”

“What?” Hans gasped, looking at Ernst’s panic-stricken face. He jumped to his feet and turned to the window, the others joining him.

About bloody time you morons noticed, Klaus thought. They’ve been out there for hours. No wonder nobody gives a shit about your half-assed operation. He watched in silent amusement as the men clamored to the windows.

“They must be after the queer!” Otto snarled, throwing a glace back at Eroica.

“NATO doesn’t give a shit about a civilian faggot thief,” Klaus replied coolly.

“He’s one of their contractors!” Ernst protested in English, his American accent unmistakable. He realized his error immediately and repeated himself in German, which only served to annoy Klaus further.

 “You stupid Yank, where did you hear that? The only interest NATO would have in this faggot would be to hand him over to Interpol.”

“You commie bastard!” Hans snapped accusingly, spinning around to face him. “You led them to us!”

“Don’t flatter yourself, you’re small potatoes.” Not even that, if this is how you react to a confrontation. My men will have you rounded up in an hour. “They’re after me. I expect they’re still upset that I took out one of their agents.”

“Who did you kill that has all of NATO on your ass?” Hans snorted derisively. “Iron Klaus?”

Now why didn’t I think of that? Klaus thought in amusement as he casually lit a cigarette and took a long drag on it. Then he met the man’s accusing gaze and said calmly, “Yes.”

The room was overtaken with an awestruck silence.

“You killed Iron Klaus?” Hans said in an almost horrified tone. It was replaced with one filled with rage. “And you led all of his men here! You fucking moron! I thought you were a pro?”

Otto decided this was his signal and reached for a gun. He realized his mistake too late when Klaus drew a weapon with a silencer on it. Considering how inept this lot of jumped up street punks were, Klaus was certain they would be more likely to hit Eroica rather than himself, and he was not about to let that happen. The last thing he wanted was a shoot out, but not one of the idiots had the sense to drop his gun, forcing Klaus to take them all out. He saw what might have been recognition flash across Hans’ face a split second before he put two bullets in his heart.

He threw a quick glance in Eroica’s direction before crossing to the desk and checking the bomb. Three minutes remaining. He quickly rifled through the papers on the desk and was delighted, as well as amazed, to see the information on a Neo Nazi demonstration that NATO had been trying to get specifics on for weeks. What do you know? The morons actually managed to get something valuable. He stuck the papers into his inside pocket before going on to reload his gun, being fully aware that he still had to get Eroica and himself to the lift. He would have to stay in the character of Chekov until they reached safety, which meant continuing in Russian.

He went back to the thief, removing the gag from his mouth. “I don’t expect you’ll be yelling for help,” he said as he pulled Eroica to his feet. It will make breathing a lot easier, too.

Eroica moved much slower than usual, which was to be expected considering the Neo Nazi bastards had beaten the shit out of him. Klaus saw him wince, and had to admit to being impressed when the thief made no complaint. Obviously, he still hadn’t figured out who he was yet. Otherwise, he would have been leaning against him and begging to be carried.

“Come on,” Klaus said as he took Eroica by the arm. His observation was verified when the thief spoke to him in German rather than English.

“Look, whoever you are,” Eroica said quietly, “I’m not going to be able to move very fast.”

“Why?” Klaus did not even realize that he tighten his grip slightly in response to this until he’d done it.

“At the risk of sounding crude, they kicked me in the nuts. Several times. They thought it was funny.”

Klaus’s mouth dropped open. Then his eyes narrowed in anger. Goddamn bloody bastards. It’s bad enough you beat up someone who can’t defend themselves. “Then I’m glad I killed them,” he said truthfully. I only wish I could do it again.

He led Eroica from the room and out into a corridor, making certain to close the door behind them. Then he made straight for the lifts. He did not acknowledge anyone, keeping one hand on the thief’s arm, and the other in his pocket with his gun.

He only paused long enough to wait for the lift before continuing. Just as they were entering the lift, he heard the bomb go off, a small smile coming to his face. Perfect timing.

“Someone stop that fucking Russian!” a voice called from near the office as fire alarms started to sound all over the building.

Klaus gave Eroica a shove into the corner, putting him out of harms way. He pulled his gun and fired at anyone who even looked their way until the doors fully closed. Then he pulled out a radio unit. “Target acquired,” he said curtly.

“Are you in position, sir?” Agent A replied.

“Yes. There are no other civilians in the building. Begin the operation.”

Klaus saw Eroica sag further into the corner into which he had unceremoniously thrust him. He was about to ask if he were all right when A said, “We’re ready, sir.”

What they were ready for was to override all the lifts in the building and drop them to the basement parking level. Fast.

“Proceed,” Klaus ordered. Then to Eroica, he said, “Hang on. This is going to be a fast trip.”

Klaus braced himself in the corner as the lift plummeted to the basement parking garage level before jolting to a halt. He looked over at Eroica, who was now in a crumpled heap on the floor. He appeared shaken but otherwise unharmed.

The doors opened and Klaus flipped a switch that would lock the doors open. Then he went out to all the other lifts, doing the same, and cutting off this escape route. He was somewhat surprised to find them all unoccupied. The explosion had been a much better diversion than he could have hoped for.

“Lockdown completed,” Klaus announced. “Concentrate on the stairwells.”

“Yes, sir,” A replied.

With all the lifts seen to, Klaus returned to the battered Eroica, who was still huddled in the corner. He looked completely exhausted. Without a word, Klaus knelt down and started to untie his hands.

“Are you going to kill me?” Eroica asked bitterly. “Say I was trying to escape?”

Klaus gave the thief an amused look before replying in English, “You idiot, haven’t you figured out who I am yet?”

Eroica started and pulled off the blindfold, turning to look at him. Klaus wondered if the lift had a camera so he could get a print of the expression on the thief’s face. He had never seen him look so shocked.

As Klaus pulled his long dark hair out from under a hat, he wondered what was going through Eroica’s mind. His eyes were enormous.

“Major…” Eroica breathed finally. “You’re not…” He put a hand to his head. “I don’t…”

Klaus sat down, leaning back against the wall and lighting a cigarette. He then offered one to the visibly shaken Eroica. “Once my men have rounded up those animals, I’ll have you taken to a hospital.” I hope they all try to run so my men can shoot them down for what they did to you.

Eroica nodded absently. Then he seemed to realize that Klaus was in no hurry to leave. “You came after me,” he said at last. “You negotiated my selling price and paid it.”

“The money was counterfeit.” As soon as he said it, Klaus wished he hadn’t sounded so matter of fact.

“So, you wouldn’t pay good money for me, is that it?” Dorian said bitterly.

“No. I knew I’d be blowing up the case and the office I’d left it in,” Klaus replied succinctly. That sounded a little better.

“Destroying the fact that you got the information you were after.”

Shit. “I wasn’t after any information, although that’s what NATO thinks I’m doing here. The fact that those idiots actually had any was a bonus.”

Dorian blinked. “You weren’t after information?”

“No.”

“You were after me? Specifically?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Klaus sat thoughtfully a moment, wondering if he dared tell the thief the truth. “Because life would be far less interesting without you in it.”

Dorian was obviously taken aback by this reply. “Is that the only reason?”

Klaus gave him a steady look. “For the time being.”

When Eroica leaned his head against his shoulder, as he knew he would, he concentrated on not reacting in a negative way. In fact, he concentrated on not reacting at all.

“Major,” Eroica said quietly, “despite all the outlandish things I say and do, I’d never do anything to jeopardize your career.”

Klaus felt his heart miss a beat. He had hoped that this were the case, but never trusted himself to accept it. Never trusted the thief to even realize it, let alone be true to his word. Then Eroica disappeared at the hands of the Neo Nazis and he found himself scouring the intelligence network to find him for no other reason than because he wanted to. Needed to.

Klaus turned slightly, put a hand beneath Dorian’s chin and lifted his bruised face in order to look into his eyes. “Never?” I think you really mean that.

“Of course not. I love you.”

A pause.

“Oh, hell.”

So saying, Klaus kissed the stunned Dorian very gently on the mouth.

* * *  End Scenario One * * *

Scenario Two

The Major, The Russian, And The Neo Nazi

the major

Klaus was vaguely aware of being dragged into an office and thrust into a chair. He had put up one hell of a fight, but had been seriously outnumbered and was finally subdued by a sharp blow to the back of the head. Manacles were being attached to his hands and feet and he realized that he was being put in body chains. Obviously, his captors weren’t taking any further chances. He was surprised and annoyed when a gag was thrust in his mouth and he was blindfolded before finally being lashed into the chair. No, they definitely weren’t taking any more chances.

“That should hold him,” a voice said with a laugh.

Klaus recognized this voice as belonging to one of the men he had been fighting with, although he had no idea what his name was.

“Good. See if the gentlemen are here yet,” another voice replied.

This voice Klaus did know. It belonged to a man named Hans, although he knew this to be a fake. A Neo Nazi he had been trying to track down. Somehow, the bastard had been able to cut him off from his men and capture him. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been held, having been locked in what he assumed must have been the basement level of the building he was in. He had waited until his captors tried to move him before attempting an escape. Unfortunately, this had ended with his probably receiving a minor concussion.

“They’re here,” the first man said calmly.

“Excellent. Show them in,” Hans replied

Klaus heard the door open on what must have been the far side of the room. More unfamiliar voices filtered in. The door was closed and a new voice spoke.

“I thought you said Major Eberbach was unharmed,” the newcomer said calmly—in Russian. Up until this point, everyone had been speaking German.

Klaus stiffened visibly. KGB? Since when did they do business with Neo Nazis?

“Don’t worry, Ivan, he didn’t suffer any permanent damage,” Hans replied. “He tried to put up a fight.”

Klaus could hear the smugness in his voice. Fucking Nazi bugger. I’ll bet you enjoyed that, too.

“I don’t believe I know your associate,” Hans went on, a distinct edge coming to his voice.

The Russian switched to German as he said, “This is Mr. Johnson. He’s not one of my associates, he’s one of yours.”

Klaus could not hear the exact reply, but it was obvious Hans was dubious of this fact.

“You don’t think he’s Aryan enough?” Ivan went on.

“He looks like a fag.”

Ivan laughed at this. “He’s supposed to. He’s infiltrating the Gay Pride Parade next week.”

“You’re the mole?” Hans said in surprise.

There was no reply, and Klaus assumed the man must have nodded when Hans went on to say, “I never would’ve known you were one of us. You have my sympathies, having to pretend to be one of those degenerates. I hope you blow them all to Kingdom come.”

Klaus felt his heart miss a beat. This was the information he had been seeking when he was captured. There had been bits and pieces from scattered sources, but nothing concrete. Now he knew exactly what was being planned and had no way of letting anyone know.

“Do you have the money?” Hans asked suddenly.

“As agreed,” Ivan replied.

Klaus stiffened. I’m being sold? The KGB must really want to get their hands on me to negotiate with these bastards. He heard a solid thump that must’ve been a briefcase of some sort being placed on a desk. There was the snap of a lock, a creak of hinges, followed by Hans giving a satisfied grunt. I hope you got a good price for me, Nazi bastard.

“If you would untie him from the chair,” Ivan said mildly. “And the key to the cuffs would be nice, too.”

“You’re not thinking of letting him go,” an unknown voice replied.

“What kind of a fool do you take me for?” the Russian snapped impatiently.

Klaus remained unmoving as the ropes securing him to the chair were removed. If the KGB was going to take him, he was not going to make it easy for them. They were going to have to drag him from the room.

Suddenly the door burst open and a panicked voice called, “Hans! The building’s being surrounded by NATO!”

About bloody time, Klaus thought in relief. What the hell took them so long?

“What?” Hans gasped.

There was a great deal of commotion in the room as the occupants clamored to the windows.

“You morons!” Ivan snarled. “I thought you were supposed to be professionals!”

Klaus wasn’t sure what happened next. There was movement across the room that must have been where the windows were located. He heard a sound like air escaping from a tire. Then he heard the unmistakable sound of bodies hitting the floor.

“Get the safe open,” Ivan ordered suddenly.

“Consider it done.”

Klaus didn’t think he could be surprised further, and concluded that he had been wrong when he heard the familiar English accent. Eroica! Dammit, when did you start cooperating with the KGB? Then another thought struck him. Was it really the KGB or someone pretending to be? He heard papers on the desk being rifled through, undoubtedly by Ivan looking for something specific.

“What am I looking for?” Eroica asked.

“No time,” Ivan replied. “Take everything.”

Whoever this Ivan is, he’s definitely a pro, Klaus thought. That’s exactly what I would do. Then he realized what the sound had been earlier. Eroica had used his signature knockout gas on the Neo Nazis.

“Done. Let’s get the hell out of here,” Eroica said, his voice moving closer as he spoke. He had his hand on the gag when Ivan snapped, “Don’t!”

“What?” Eroica gasped, echoing Klaus’s thoughts.

“You take that out of his mouth, he’ll be shouting his head off.”

Klaus bit down on the gag in his mouth. You wish. You just want to humiliate me, fucking commie.

There was a long pause as Eroica apparently thought this over. “Fine, have it your way,” he said tersely. “I’m taking these things off his ankles, though.”

“Don’t complain to me if he kicks you in the teeth.”

Eroica gave a disgusted snort. Then Klaus heard him catch his breath. At some point during the fight, he had injured his ankle. It had been swelling painfully, and Klaus was grateful to have the manacle removed.

“What’s the matter now?” Ivan snapped impatiently.

“His ankle’s swollen.” Eroica got to his feet. He ignored the Russian’s protests, removing the gag from Klaus’s mouth. “Major, can you stand?”

“Standing isn’t a problem,” Klaus replied quietly, hoping this would piss off the Russian. “It’s walking I don’t know about.”

“I’ll help you.”

Before Klaus could voice his thoughts on this, he heard Ivan give a disgusted snort. “No wonder the West is in decay,” the Russian said. “You’re all soft.”

So, you are KGB. Klaus gritted his teeth, a groan escaping him as Eroica helped him to his feet. “What’s your code name?” he asked through clenched teeth.

“Ivan the Terrible.”

Klaus stiffened visibly and wished his hands were free so he could strangle Eroica. “You bloody idiot thief!” he snapped angrily. “You sold me out to the KGB!”

“Not exactly,” Eroica replied mildly. “I agreed to help steal some information in exchange for you.”

“And you trust this KGB bastard will keep his promises?”

“Probably as much as you trust me, Major,” Eroica said as he pulled Klaus forward.

Trust you! Where the hell did you get the idea that I trust you? Then Klaus realized that was exactly the point. Eroica was trying to tell him that he did not trust the KGB. So why was he cooperating with them?

Klaus fell silent, allowing Eroica to help him from the room and out into a corridor. He could barely put any weight on his ankle and wondered if it were broken. He heard more voices and was glad that they did not stop. He lost track of where Ivan was, which concerned him. The last thing he wanted was a KGB agent at his back.

It wasn’t until Klaus heard the lift doors opening that Eroica spoke again. “You’re not going to keep your side of the bargain, are you, Comrade?”

Klaus heard Ivan give a snicker in reply. Stupid limey. You should’ve realized that. The next thing he knew, Eroica was giving him a shove. His injured ankle gave way underneath him and he gave an involuntary cry of pain before ending up on the floor inside the lift. Then he heard the same hiss as inside the office.

“Thing is, Comrade, I wasn’t going to keep my side either,” Eroica said calmly.

Klaus heard the Russian give an angry gurgle before there was a solid thump. Then Eroica was jumping through the doors as they started to close.

Klaus rolled onto his back, but with his hands chained against his body was unable to sit up. “Get me off this bloody floor,” his growled.

“Not yet.”

Klaus was about to protest when he heard Eroica say, “Mission accomplished.”

To Klaus’s added surprise, Agent A replied. “Is the Major with you, Lord Gloria?”

“Yes. We’re in position.”

“Shall be begin the operation?”

Klaus gave an impatient growl. “Get this damn thing off my face,” he snapped.

Eroica pulled off the blindfold and then held out the radio unit.

“A! Whatever you lot have planned, do it! Or I’ll have you all shipped off to Alaska!” Klaus thundered.

“Yes, sir!”

Klaus had never heard A sound so delighted to be threatened with Alaska. Perhaps he should think of somewhere else. The Arctic Circle was promising.

“We’re ready, sir,” A announced. “Hang on.”

Klaus didn’t have a chance to ask what he meant before the lift seemed to drop out from under him, plummeting he did not know how many floors before jolting to a halt. He was glad he was already on the floor, otherwise he would have ended up in a crumpled heap. Eroica went to the door and locked it open.

“Sit tight, Major,” Eroica said calmly, vanishing through the doors.

Klaus heard the other lifts opening, followed by a click. He nodded approvingly. Eroica was locking all the lifts on this level, leaving only the stairwells as a means of escape.

“Mr. A,” Eroica said into the radio unit, “lockdown complete.”

“Tell him to concentrate on the stairwells,” Klaus ordered.

“I heard,” A replied.

“The Major will need medical attention,” Eroica informed. “He has an injured ankle that might be broken.”

There as a short pause during which Klaus could imagine his alphabets panicking. “We’ll be down to collect you both once the building is secure,” A replied.

Eroica knelt down, making short work of the cuffs on Klaus’s wrists, going on to remove the chain from around his waist. Then he sat down and leaning back against the wall. “Mission accomplished, Major,” he said mildly, holding out the officer’s gun.

“Where did you find that?” Klaus asked as he sat up and took the weapon, quickly checking it over.

“In the safe with all this lovely information,” Eroica replied with a grin, holding out several thick envelopes.

Klaus nodded approvingly. Then he looked at the thief properly for the first time. For Eroica, he was dressed remarkably conservative, and his hair was quite short. “How did you get all your hair under that?” he asked.

A pause. “I didn’t.”

Klaus blinked, looking at the thief in shock. “You cut your hair?”

“Oh, Major,” Eroica sighed.

“You cut your hair, cooperated with the KGB, masqueraded as a Neo Nazi, and walked into the Lion’s den… Why?”

“If you have to ask, it’s not worth repeating.”

“You’re gonna say it’s because you love me, aren’t you?” Klaus said in a disbelieving tone, receiving a nod.

“Major, I’d walk on hot coals to save you,” came the forceful reply.

Klaus stared into Eroica’s enormous blue eyes. He looked completely sincere. He had to be. He cut his hair to save me! The Goddamn, shallow, self-centered, son-of-a-bitch actually did something selfless for…

 “Oh, hell.”

So saying, Klaus took the stunned Eroica’s face in his hands and kissed him.

* * *

tHE RUSSIAN

“Would you like some coffee while you wait?” a young man asked.

“No,” came the terse reply. “Piss off.”

Ivan saw Eroica give him a disapproving look and was ready to give him a sharp retort if he said anything. Fortunately, the thief had the sense to keep his mouth shut.

After only a few minutes, the office door opened and they were waved inside. Eroica stopped dead in his tracks almost as soon as he walked through the door. Ivan followed his gaze and could not help smiling at the sight of the Major in body chains and lashed to a chair. Finally, someone’s put Iron Klaus in his place.

“I thought you said Major Eberbach was unharmed,” he said calmly—in Russian. He saw the Major stiffened visibly and another smile came to his face. Yes, you know who I am now, don’t you?

“Don’t worry, Ivan, he didn’t suffer any permanent damage,” Hans replied. “He tried to put up a fight.”

Ivan saw the smug look come to the man’s face and wondered if his own face mirrored that expression. How he hated the Kraut son-of-a-bitch. Moscow will be delighted to finally get their hands on Iron Klaus.

“I don’t believe I know your associate,” Hans went on, a distinct edge coming to his voice.

Ivan decided to switch to German, since his only reason for speaking Russian to let the Major know he was being handed over to the KGB. “This is Mr. Johnson. He’s not one of my associates, he’s one of yours.”

“Yeah, right.”

“You don’t think he’s Aryan enough?” Ivan said mildly, turning to the thief. Tall, blond hair, blue eyes, perfect features—and a homosexual. Bloody ironic, really.

“He looks like a fag.”

Ivan heard Eroica give a low growl and was impressed that he kept his tongue. If nothing else, the thief was a pro. They had agreed ahead of time that Ivan would do all the talking, and the thief was obviously going to adhere to this.

“He’s supposed to,” Ivan said with a laugh. “He’s infiltrating the Gay Pride Parade next week.”

“You’re the mole?” Hans said in surprise.

Ivan saw a smile come to Eroica’s face and wondered what was going though his mind as he gave a nod.

“I never would’ve known you were one of us,” Hans went on to say. “You have my sympathies, having to pretend to be one of those degenerates. I hope you blow them all to Kingdom come.”

Ivan noticed the Major’s reaction to this and wondered what he was thinking.

“Do you have the money?” Hans asked suddenly.

It’s always about the money with you bloody capitalist, isn’t it? “As agreed,” Ivan replied, placing the case in his hand on the desk and holding out a hand, inviting the other man to open it. Hans did, giving a satisfied grunt before giving his men a curt nod.

Ivan took this as his as his cue and turned toward the Major. “If you would untie him from the chair,” he said mildly. “And the key to the cuffs would be nice, too.”

“You’re not thinking of letting him go,” the man who had admitted them to the office said with a gasp.

“What kind of a fool do you take me for?” the Russian snapped impatiently.

The man who had been standing guard beside the Major looked over at Hans, receiving a nod. He nodded back before removing the ropes securing the officer to the chair.

Suddenly the door burst open and a panicked voice called, “Hans! The building’s being surrounded by NATO!”

Dammit! Ivan thought angrily. Why couldn’t they have waited another ten minutes?

“What?” Hans gasped. He jumped to his feet and turned to the window, his men joining him.

Ivan turned to Eroica and nodded before pulling a piece of cloth from inside his collar, covering his mouth and nose. The thief did the same, pulled out his can of knockout gas and waited for Ivan’s signal.

“You morons!” the Russian snarled. “I thought you were supposed to be professionals!”

The instant the men turned back from the windows, Ivan and Eroica sprayed them with the gas. In a few seconds, the men were unconscious on the floor.

“Get the safe open,” Ivan ordered as he went to the desk.

“Consider it done,” Eroica replied.

Ivan began rifling through all the papers on the desk. Nothing.

“What am I looking for?” Eroica asked from behind him.

“No time.” Not with NATO just outside. “Take everything.”

“Done,” Eroica announced as he got to his feet. “Let’s get the hell out of here.” He crossed to the Major and reached over to remove the gag from his mouth.

“Don’t!” Ivan snapped.

“What?”

“You take that out of his mouth, he’ll be shouting his head off.” And I like him better that way.

“Fine, have it your way,” Eroica said tersely. “I’m taking these things off his ankles, though.”

“Don’t complain to me if he kicks you in the teeth,” the Russian growled. Then he heard the thief catch his breath. “What’s the matter now?” he snapped impatiently.

“His ankle’s swollen.”

Like I give a shit. Then Ivan saw Eroica reaching for the gag again. “Don’t take that gag out of his mouth!” To his annoyance, Eroica ignored him.

“Major, can you stand?” the thief asked gently.

“Standing isn’t a problem,” the Major replied quietly. “It’s walking I don’t know about.”

“I’ll help you.”

“No wonder the West is in decay,” Ivan snorted. “You’re all soft.”

Klaus gritted his teeth, a groan escaping him as Eroica helped him to his feet. “What’s your code name?” he asked through clenched teeth.

“Ivan the Terrible.” Ivan smiled when he saw the Major stiffen visibly. Yes, you know that name, don’t you?

“You bloody idiot thief! You sold me out to the KGB!” the Major snapped angrily.

“Not exactly,” Eroica replied mildly. “I agreed to help steal some information in exchange for you.”

“And you trust this KGB bastard will keep his promises?”

“Probably as much as you trust me, Major.”

Ivan scowled upon hearing this. The Major was quite right. He had no intention of letting Iron Klaus or Eroica go, and with the added bonus of the information from inside the Neo Nazis’ safe, he was sure to be given a medal when he arrived in Moscow.

The Major seemed to fall into a stunned silence, allowing Eroica to help him from the room and out into a corridor.

Just as the lift arrived, Eroica turned to the Russian. “You’re not going to keep your side of the bargain, are you, Comrade?” he said mildly.

Ivan gave him a smug look. You think I’m going to honor an agreement made with a thief? Eroica smiled back at him and suddenly gave the Major a shove that sent him to the floor inside the lift with a cry of pain. He then sprayed the knockout gas into the astonished Russian’s face. “Thing is, Comrade, I wasn’t going to keep my side either.”

Ivan gave an angry gurgle before dropping to the ground. The last thing he saw before passing out was Eroica jumping between the lift doors just as they were closing.

* * *

tHE NEO NAZI

“Would you like some coffee while you wait?” a young man asked.

“No,” came the terse reply. “Piss off.”

Dorian looked at the Russian but said nothing. He sounded so much like the Major he wondered if rude behavior was a part of intelligence officers’ training.

After only a few minutes, the office door opened and they were waved inside. Dorian stopped dead in his tracks when he saw the Major in body chains and lashed to a chair. What the hell have you been doing to him?

“I thought you said Major Eberbach was unharmed,” he heard Ivan say from beside him—in Russian. Then he saw the Major stiffened visibly. Sadistic bastard. You want him to know you’re KGB, don’t you?

“Don’t worry, Ivan, he didn’t suffer any permanent damage,” Hans replied. “He tried to put up a fight.”

Dorian saw the smug look come to the man’s face and wanted to slap him. Christ, how I hate Neo Nazis.

“I don’t believe I know your associate,” Hans went on, a distinct edge coming to his voice.

Ivan switched to German as he said, “This is Mr. Johnson. He’s not one of my associates, he’s one of yours.”

“Yeah, right.”

“You don’t think he’s Aryan enough?”

“He looks like a fag.”

Dorian ground his teeth but remained silent. He had agreed ahead of time to allow Ivan to do all the talking, although he was wishing he hadn’t.

Ivan laughed at this. “He’s supposed to. He’s infiltrating the Gay Pride Parade next week.”

“You’re the mole?” Hans said in surprise.

Dorian could not help the smile of irony that came to his face. Yes, but not the kind you’re thinking of, he thought as he gave a nod.

“I never would’ve known you were one of us,” Hans went on to say. “You have my sympathies, having to pretend to be one of those degenerates. I hope you blow them all to Kingdom come.”

I’d like to blow you lot to Kingdom come, Dorian thought angrily. He noticed the Major’s reaction to this and could almost see the wheels turning in his head.

“Do you have the money?” Hans asked suddenly, returning Dorian to reality.

“As agreed,” Ivan replied, placing the case in his hand on the desk and holding out a hand, inviting the other man to open it. Hans did, giving a satisfied grunt before giving his men a curt nod.

Ivan seemed to take his as his cue and turned toward the Major. “If you would untie him from the chair,” he said mildly. “And the key to the cuffs would be nice, too.”

“You’re not thinking of letting him go,” the man who had admitted them to the office said with a gasp.

“What kind of a fool do you take me for?” the Russian snapped impatiently.

The man who had been standing guard beside the Major looked over at Hans, receiving a nod. He nodded back before removing the ropes securing the officer to the chair. Dorian noticed the German did not move as this was done. Thickheaded Prussian. You want us to drag you out, don’t you?

Suddenly the door burst open and a panicked voice called, “Hans! The building’s being surrounded by NATO!”

Perfect timing, Dorian thought as he casually glanced at the clock. That will shake up this KGB bastard.

“What?” Hans gasped. He jumped to his feet and turned to the window, the others joining him.

Ivan turned to Dorian and nodded before pulling a piece of cloth from inside his collar, covering his mouth and nose. Dorian did the same, pulled out his can of knockout gas and waited.

“You morons!” Ivan snarled. “I thought you were supposed to be professionals!”

The instant the men turned back from the windows, Dorian and Ivan sprayed them with the gas. In a few seconds, the men were unconscious on the floor.

“Get the safe open,” Ivan ordered suddenly.

“Consider it done,” Dorian replied, knowing the Major would recognize his voice the moment he spoke. He went straight for where he had been told the safe would be located, a smile coming to his face when he saw it. He made short work of the lock while the Russian rifled through all the papers on the desk.

“What am I looking for?” he asked the instant he had the safe open.

“No time,” Ivan replied. “Take everything.”

Sounds good to me. There were only a few manila envelopes in the safe and Dorian pulled them out, sticking them into this waistband. Under these was the Major’s gun, which he pocked with a smile. “Done,” he announced as he got to his feet. “Let’s get the hell out of here.” He crossed to the Major and reached over to remove the gag from his mouth, nearly jumping out of his skin when Ivan snapped, “Don’t!”

“What?”

“You take that out of his mouth, he’ll be shouting his head off.”

How stupid do you think he is? Dorian thought as he stared at the man at the desk. “Fine, have it your way,” he said tersely. “I’m taking these things off his ankles, though.”

“Don’t complain to me if he kicks you in the teeth.”

Dorian gave a disgusted snort. He’s probably wishing he could kick you in the teeth. He started to take the manacles off the Major’s ankles and noticed that one was significantly swollen. He caught his breath, his eyes growing wide.

“What’s the matter now?” Ivan snapped impatiently.

“His ankle’s swollen,” Dorian said as he got to his feet. He ignored the Russian’s protests, removing the gag from the officer’s mouth. “Major, can you stand?” he asked gently.

“Standing isn’t a problem,” the Major replied quietly. “It’s walking I don’t know about.”

“I’ll help you.”

“No wonder the West is in decay,” Ivan snorted. “You’re all soft.”

Klaus gritted his teeth, a groan escaping him as Dorian helped him to his feet. “What’s your code name?” he asked through clenched teeth.

“Ivan the Terrible.”

Dorian felt the Major stiffened upon hearing this. You’re going to be pissed at me, I can tell. He was not disappointed when the Major snapped angrily, “You bloody idiot thief! You sold me out to the KGB!”

“Not exactly,” Dorian replied mildly. “I agreed to help steal some information in exchange for you.”

“And you trust this KGB bastard will keep his promises?”

“Probably as much as you trust me, Major,” Dorian said as he pulled the Major forward. Now you just think about that for a while.

To Dorian’s surprise, the Major seemed to do just that, falling silent and allowing him to help him from the room and out into a corridor. He didn’t seem to be able to put any weight on his ankle, causing Dorian to think it was very likely broken.

Dorian waited until the lift arrived and then turned to Ivan. “You’re not going to keep your side of the bargain, are you, Comrade?” he said mildly. He saw a smug look come to the Russian’s face and smiled back, giving the Major a shove that sent him to the floor inside the lift with a cry of pain. Sorry, Major. Dorian then sprayed the knockout gas into the astonished Russian’s face. “Thing is, Comrade, I wasn’t going to keep my side either.”

Ivan gave an angry gurgle before dropping to the ground. Dorian turned, having to jump between the doors just as they were closing.

The Major rolled onto his back and struggled unsuccessfully to sit up. “Get me off this bloody floor,” he growled.

“Not yet,” Dorian said as he pulled out a radio unit. “Mission accomplished.”

“Is the Major with you, Lord Gloria?” Agent A replied.

“Yes. We’re in position.”

“Shall be begin the operation?”

The Major gave an impatient growl. “Get this damn thing off my face,” he snapped.

Dorian pulled off the blindfold and then held out the radio unit.

“A! Whatever you lot have planned, do it! Or I’ll have you all shipped off to Alaska!” Klaus thundered.

“Yes, sir!”

Dorian could not help smiling at the dark look this delighted reply produced.

“We’re ready, sir,” A announced. “Hang on.”

Dorian braced himself as the lift plummeted to the basement parking garage level before jolting to a halt. He went to the door and locked it open. “Sit tight, Major,” he said calmly and he strode out the doors, going on to lock all the other lifts open.

“Mr. A,” he said into the radio unit as he returned to the Major, “lockdown complete.”

“Tell him to concentrate on the stairwells,” the Major ordered.

“I heard,” A replied.

“The Major will need medical attention,” Dorian informed. “He has an injured ankle that might be broken.”

There as a short pause during which Dorian could imagine all the alphabets panicking. “We’ll be down to collect you both once the building is secure,” A replied.

Dorian knelt down, making short work of the cuffs on the Major’s wrists, going on to remove the chain from around his waist. Then he sat down and leaning back against the wall. “Mission accomplished, Major,” he said mildly, holding out the officer’s gun.

“Where did you find that?” the Major asked as he sat up. He took the weapon and quickly checked it over.

“In the safe with all this lovely information,” Dorian replied with a grin, holding out the envelopes he had been carrying.

The Major nodded approvingly. Then he seemed to look at him for the first time. “How did you get all your hair under that?”

Dorian felt a pang of grief at the thought of what he had done to his hair. It will grow back, he reminded himself. “I didn’t.”

The Major looked at the thief in shock. “You cut your hair?”

“Oh, Major,” Dorian sighed. You really can be so thickheaded sometimes.

“You cut your hair, cooperated with the KGB, masqueraded as a Neo Nazi, and walked into the Lion’s den… Why?”

Dorian gave him a steady look. “If you have to ask, it’s not worth repeating,” he said coolly.

“You’re gonna say it’s because you love me, aren’t you?”

Dorian was surprised that the Major’s tone wasn’t his usual one of disgusted. It seemed more like surprise. “Major, I’d walk on hot coals to save you,” he said forcefully. He saw an odd look pass over the Major’s face when he said this. What on earth are you thinking?

The Major sighed heavily. “Oh, hell.”

To Dorian’s astonishment, the Major took his face in his hands and kissed him.

* * *

 

Eroica