Monday Night in Freiburg
Klaus was able to catch a flight to Germany that evening and touched down in Freiburg about ten o'clock at night. From there he drove to the hospital where Christine Sandler had been taken. Visiting hours were over, but no one stopped the Major who walked right into her room.
She was alive but still unconscious. Klaus crept closer. Now what? How could a comatose woman help him? Even a mystic was only mortal after all. But Dorian had put his faith in her before. Maybe faith was all it took.
"Madame Sandler?" he whispered. "Christine?" He spoke low into her ear. "It is I, Major von Eberbach. Dorian's friend. Remember? You helped us at Schloss Durdenstein. You made Dorian promise to take a book to your son. Please, can you hear me?"
He looked over at the EM scan. Nothing.
"We don't know who your son is. Until we do, we cannot help you. Is there some way you can tell us?"
But Christine Sandler remained silent.
Klaus sat down beside her. She looked young. She looked like she was merely asleep.
"You were right about the tower," he said. "It crumbled, just like on the card." He pulled out his wallet and opened it. "See? I kept it. I didn't mean to. I just forgot to return it. And now, I guess it has sentimental value. But I tell you what. I will give it back when you wake up and demand it back. All right?"
Christine slept on. Klaus put the tarot card back into his wallet. "I will be staying tonight at the inn on Mandelstrasse, just around the corner." He didn't know what good telling her would do, but he supposed any chance was worth taking. "Good night."
It was his first night alone. Even though they made him leave Dorian's room every night, as long as he was in the same city as his newfound love, he felt safe and secure. Now, a thousand miles away, he felt... severed. Wasn't that odd? Not to feel as though Dorian was separated from him, but that he was a part of Dorian that had been cut off. Just a part, not a whole. A part that wanted to go back to Dorian, to rejoin him, to curl up under his gentle, strong hand. To listen to him sing.
He lay in bed and stared out the window. Somewhere far away, Dorian was sleeping, trusting Klaus to succeed in this endeavour. Believing in Klaus as he always had -- totally and innocently. Those big blue eyes never darkened by the shadow of a doubt. Klaus ached for Dorian. He remembered this ache from his childhood as homesickness. Was Dorian his home now?
It should have worried or frightened him; he had never been this close to anyone before. But he wasn't concerned. He was only lonesome. He only ached to be in Dorian's arms again.
The stars were cold and distant, nothing at all like Dorian's eyes. Tomorrow he'd return. When Dorian was all better, they'd come back to Freiburg together and Dorian would know what to do. The best times were at Eroica's side.
Eroica. When Klaus pictured Dorian's alter ego, he pictured him standing on the edge of a roof, the wind billowing through his wild golden hair and his silk scarves. A taunting laugh and dancing eyes. He looked forward to meeting up with the Prince of Thieves again. The thought made him smile. Tomorrow he would be back at his love's side.
He sat up. That was wimp talk! For God's sake, he had a mission to accomplish. His very worst nightmare was coming true: falling in love had softened him, Eroica would be appalled. Eroica would just break into Madame Sandler's house and find answers.
And that's just what Klaus would do. He jumped up and got dressed. Then he flipped through the telephone directory and found her address.
It was a simple matter for the Major to break into the townhouse. There were no alarms, no watchdogs. Only a black cat on the foyer that looked up expectantly at his arrival. Someone must be taking care of the cat, Klaus thought, and listened quietly to make sure Someone wasn't still there. The house felt alive, and so he proceeded carefully. Now where would the book be? There were bookshelves everywhere. What did it look like? What did it say?
The black cat followed him as he scanned the spines of countless books. It mewled and rubbed against his legs. He nudged it away. Shut up, you infernal beast, he thought. It meowed louder and stood with its forepaws on his leg. He picked it up in one hand and tossed it carelessly on the couch, then went back to looking through the books. Nothing but occult tomes, herbology, aromatherapy, cookbooks, even some trashy romances. He went upstairs. Surely she kept this precious book someplace safe. He looked in drawers, under the bed, in the closet. All the while, the cat followed. Klaus stopped mid-search and looked down at the cat. Well? Anything was possible.
"All right," he said. "Where is it?"
Klaus swore that cat gave him a contemptuous glance before it leapt upon the window seat and paced back and forth across it.
"Well, why didn't you say so earlier?" He lifted the flower-print window seat cushion, carefully allowing the cat time to jump off. Inside the cabinet were Christine's treasures: a handmade quilt, a sealed envelope, a child's wooden toy, and a large three-ring binder. He lifted it out and opened it.
There were pages of photos, some of which were very old. They all had notations underneath, like "Ulrich's first birthday," "Oncle Wilhelm Shaeder," "Tante Reisel", and so on. "Grunde Oma" had died in a concentration camp. "Oncle Josef" had survived. There was a family tree on one of the pages. A bar joined Christine's name to "Heinrich Sandler" and from them branched "Ulrich Sandler". Further on he found letters addressed to Ulrich. Klaus shut the book. The rest wasn't his business. He had a promise to keep.
"Well, Pussycat," he said to the creature which now lay curled up and drowsy on the bed, "I thank you." It blinked at him in feline disinterest, and lay its head down to sleep. He got up and left.
The stars all but faded in the bright city lights. He could return to Dorian now. He could take the red-eye to Switzerland and be there by dawn.
No. He was being foolish. There was no use in rushing back. Dorian would not be fit to go for some time yet. Klaus could survive one night alone.
God, what would he do when this mission was over? When he had to return to cold, stale Schloss Eberbach? When Dorian was a world away in whatever little Heaven he occupied? It hurt to think about. They would have endless days and nights till then. Their escapades in America could take forever. Sweet forever.
He wasn't tired. He wouldn't return to the room. He wanted to go to the opera. He wanted to sing to Dorian. With Dorian.
At two in the morning, there was little to do except go to bars or brothels. Neither appealed to him. He went for a drive, following the Autobahn out of town. The aching loneliness had given way to anticipation and excitement. Soon, Eroica. Soon. He didn't know where he was headed, but he was in a hurry to get there. The landscape whizzed past in a black and grey blur. The stars grew brighter as he left the city behind. He drove till dawn, lost in thoughts of adventure. Of kisses. Of more. If he truly loved Dorian, shouldn't he be willing to give himself completely to him? Dorian wouldn't hurt him. Dorian loved him. Still, it didn't feel right. Dorian deserved a passionate, fully functioning lover.
Maybe Dorian could heal him. He'd helped conquer the nightmares. He'd brought him this far. If someone had told him two weeks ago at the start of all this that he would end up yearning to crawl into Dorian's arms and listen to love songs, he would have laughed and shot the messenger. He would never have believed he could ever desire kisses from those lips. And even now he could scarcely believe that he was willing to try and be a lover to Dorian. He turned the car around. The choice was made.
At last the sky warmed and one by one the cold stars were over-powered by the golden light. He reached the inn under the full light of day. Seeing no reason to stay, he packed his bags and headed for the airport. He wondered how Dorian would take the news of Klaus' decision. Dear God, he might even refuse! Dorian had been disappointed in the kisses. He'd been disappointed in Klaus' impotence. Stop thinking, he told himself. You'll have another breakdown.