Days and Nights
Dorian drifted in and out of sleep, unaware of how much time passed between the stages. Klaus was always nearby, feeding him snow, sometimes even warm, melted snow poured from his own mouth. The pain in his body was now one continuous ache, but he was never awake long enough to dwell on his misery. He was hot. The snow tasted cool and good. He would often hold it in his mouth till it melted, enjoying the coldness.
"Dorian," Klaus said, during one period of consciousness, "don't die. You promised you would never leave me. You promised."
Dorian slipped back into darkness.
He turned to the sound of the voice. There was a woman there. He thought for a terrible moment that it was Saint Pelagia, but it turned out to be Christine Sandler. "You promised you would find my son."
"I can't. I'm sorry,"
"You promised. You must!"
"Please... I can't."
"You promised. You promised..."
She was right. She had kept her end of the bargain. She had helped them. Dorian had to keep his promise to give her son the book. Slowly, agonizingly, he pulled himself back to painful consciousness.
Klaus had been sitting back-to-hearth with his head on his knees, when he heard Dorian speak for the first time in three days, he lifted his head, reveal ling a face dirty, sweaty and lightly bearded. Dorian's darkened eyes stared dully at him like a corpse's. Klaus gave a cry of alarm and threw himself to his knees, nearly collapsing on top of the Earl's body.
But Dorian was alive. His rattling breath gave evidence of that. After three days, Klaus had become conditioned to the sound.
"Dorian. Oh, Dorian, stay with me."
"Hold on. I will get you a drink." Klaus took a handful of snow and put it in his mouth to melt. Then he put his pursed lips to Dorian's and let the water trickle in. Dorian drank slowly.
"No. Help me (gasp) sit up."
Klaus had seen Dorian lay still for so long that he was glad to oblige. He sat with Dorian between his legs, propped up against him.
"How long?" asked Dorian in a weak voice.
"Days and nights. Don't worry about it. They'll find us soon."
"Yes. Oh, God, Dorian..." He had been so worried, but the loneliness was far worse. "Dorian, I thought-"
"I'm here. It's all right."
Klaus gave him a tight squeeze. "I never thought I'd say this, but-" He started to say 'I missed you', but it came out "I love you!"
Dorian turned his head slowly. "Klaus..." the Major let him slip slightly to one side so that Dorian could look up at him easier. He regarded Klaus with amused eyes. "Klaus, (gasp) I never thought (wheeze) I'd say this, but, (gasp)" He paused and smiled. "You look like shit."
Klaus burst out laughing. He couldn't stop for some time. When he did stop, he chuckled, "You're going to be all right, Herr Red Gloria."
"And for your information, you're no raving beauty yourself, right now."
"Kiss... my... ass."
Klaus laughed till he cried, which in his condition didn't take long. When it finally faded into a gentle smile, he said, "I love you, Dorian."
"I love you too."
Klaus bent down to kiss him. Funny how kissing someone who hadn't brushed his teeth in days could be so wonderful. It was the sweetest thing he'd ever experienced, in fact. The sweetest thing, that is, next to love. This was rapture. This was revelation. This was something to believe in.
He lifted his lips from Dorian's. The Earl smiled up at him, tears glistening on his smudged cheeks. It was the most beautiful sight he'd ever seen.
All at once there was a sound from far off. Something that echoed down the chimney. A chop-chop-chop sound that Klaus normally would have recognized immediately, but it took him a moment to identify it.
"A helicopter! They have come. Dorian. I told you so!"
The Earl just smiled and closed his eyes.
"Hang on, Engel," Klaus pleaded and lay Dorian down. Quickly he threw snow on the practically dead fire and shimmied up the chimney. He was not as slender and agile as Eroica, and was weak from hunger, but he knew Dorian was counting on him. He had to make it. If fat old Saint Nicholas could make it up and down chimneys, surely one svelte Major on a strict snow-diet could as well.
At last he reached the top and hauled himself out into daylight. The entire cabin was buried in snow. Only the top foot of the chimney protruded, indicating that there was an underlying structure. The cold was shocking. He waved his arms and shouted. The helicopter turned in the air and headed back to him. It was over. And had just begun.