Friday

Klaus woke up alone. He sat up and looked around.

"Dorian?"

No reply. He got up and peered into the bathroom, knowing it would be empty. There was the sound of splashing outside. He put on his robe and peered out the window.

Dorian was swimming in the pool, covering the distance in smooth, easy strokes from one end to the other. A few other men sat along the edge, watching. The pool looked cool and inviting in the pale morning light. He smiled as he watched Dorian's graceful form slice through the water. He bet Dorian was the loveliest swimmer to ever grace that pool. A troubling cloud darkened his thoughts. That water -- it couldn't possibly be clean, what with all those men swimming, screwing, doing all sorts of unsanitary acts in it.

He burst outside, robe flying in his wake.

"DORIAN!!!" he barked. The Earl stopped mid-way across the pool and turned to him. "Dorian, you get out of there this instant!"

Dorian dove under the water. Klaus cringed. All that filthy, AIDS-ridden water in his angel's eyes and mouth. He popped up at Klaus' feet, resting his hands on the edge of the pool. His hair drifted around him darkly, and he reminded Klaus of a Pre-Raphaelite mermaid. Merman. "What's wrong, Darling?" Dorian asked.

"Come out of there right now!" Klaus commanded.

Surprised, Dorian obeyed. Water sheeted from his body as he pulled himself out with grace and ease. With alarm, Klaus realized Dorian was using a pair of barely opaque black underwear as a swimsuit.

"Have you no modesty?" Klaus gasped foolishly, hurrying the Earl inside. Once behind closed doors, he ranted, "That pool is filthy! Do you have any idea what's floating around in there? Do you know what those men do in that pool?"

"It's chlorinated, Sweetheart."

"I don't care! It is unclean! Go take a shower and pray you did not catch a disease!"

Dorian gave him a perturbed look and sighed deeply through his nose. "Who should I pray to, Darling?"

Klaus made no reply, simply grabbed Dorian's arm and hauled him into the shower, where he roughly and unromantically scrubbed Dorian from crown to toe till the Earl's skin was pink and tender. Only then did he bestow a little gentleness and wrap Dorian up in a soft, clean towel and sit him down on the bed.

"Better?" snapped Dorian, hurt in his voice.

Klaus felt awful for his behaviour. "I just want to keep you safe."

"By rubbing off the top layer of my skin?!"

Klaus sat down beside him, staring guiltily down at his own water-wrinkled hands. "You did not complain."

"I was afraid to! I was afraid if I didn't let you, you'd never touch me again!"

The Major winced and felt himself shrink. "That would never happen now. I am too much in love." He remembered last night's jolt of desire, but figured now was not the time to mention it. "Besides, I know you have had other lovers."

"Not since I pledged myself to you."

Klaus looked up.

Dorian nodded. "When I fell in love, it was total. I made my commitment to you in that instant, and in that instant, I determined to make you mine."

"But that was years ago."

"Yes, I know. Years, Klaus."

Klaus looked at him with new eyes. "You did that for me?"

"I was in love. There was no choice to be made."

Whatever Klaus thought he knew about love and sacrifice, he knew that he'd never known anything at all until that moment. "But I always end up hurting you."

"I know. But I knew that the first time you said you loved me, it would all be worth it."

"But I still hurt you."

"Kiss me, then. Make it all better."

Klaus leaned into that forgiving face, careful not to touch his tender skin, and kissed him, unable at first to feel anything but shame and unworthiness. Then Dorian melted into him, groaning into his mouth. Nothing touched but their faces and Dorian's hand upon Klaus' thigh. The sound Dorian made travelled down Klaus' insides and into every nerve ending. The hair on his body stood on end.

Dorian was the one to draw back first. "Better?" he murmured.

"Perhaps."

"Good. We're going to pay Herr Sandler and his son a visit."

"What?" Klaus was startled by Dorian's back-to-business attitude. He felt like a cat that was all puffed up and unable to settle down.

Dorian stood up and went to the dresser and opened a drawer. "I said it's time to pay Herr Sandler and his son a visit." The towel fell from the splotchy, reddened body.

"I told you there will be no kidnapping!"

Dorian pulled out a pair of soft, loose linen pants. "I know. I'm not planning on that. We are going to have a talk with the man. Maybe we can persuade him to let Ulrich see his mum."

"So what is the plan? To just ring the bell and tell him?"

"Sure. Why not? He can't be such a bastard he'd refuse to let his son see his dying mother."

"Dorian, you have too much faith in the basic goodness of people," Klaus sighed.

"I believed in you."

"And what has it gotten you? Am I such a prize?"

Dorian slipped on a matching linen tunic. "You're my little Trophy of War."

"No. You are the prize. I am the fortunate one."

"Well. I won't argue you there." He grinned. Tying a magenta sash low around his hips, he said, "Actually, I'm not as naive as you think. If he won't listen of his own free will, I'm trusting you to make him listen, if necessary."

"Ah. That is a plan I can work with."

"I thought you might like that. Get yourself dressed." He stopped and laughed. "Never thought I'd hear myself say that one!"

Klaus removed his wet pyjamas. He supposed he ought to dress in a suit, to look official and imposing. Maybe the cap and whip. . . Nah!

"Breakfast?" said Dorian, sitting at the mirror and brushing his damp curls.

"Yes, but not here. I do not feel like being ogled this early in the morning."

"I'll try not to ogle, then."

***

Dorian took a deep breath and rang the bell of the Sandler house. He glanced nervously at Klaus and smiled. He had to have faith. Even if Heinrich didn't care about Christine, surely little Ulrich would insist. She was his mother, and loved him. She hadn't abandoned him.

They heard a commotion behind the door, then a little voice. "Vati! Verkauferren!"

The door opened a moment later. Herr Sandler was a short man, very much Dorian's idea of a Jew: black-haired, large-nosed, and dark-complected. Beside him stood Ulrich, a young version of his father, but cute and with his mother's friendly eyes.

"Herr Sandler?" said Dorian.

The man seemed surprised. "Ja?"

In German, Dorian continued, "I am Earl Dorian Red Gloria, and this is Major Klaus von Eberbach. May we speak to you?"

Heinrich seemed uneasy. Dorian said, "You are not in any trouble. We come here on behalf of a friend. Please, Sir."

Heinrich eyed them both suspiciously. It was ten-year-old Ulrich who replied, "Whose friend?"

"Ours. And yours, though you may not know it."

Heinrich shifted his stance. "What is this about?"

Dorian took another deep breath. "It's Christine."

Heinrich's eyes flashed and he started to slam the door, but Klaus blocked it with an iron fist.

"Go away or I will call the police!"

"Please, Sir! Ulrich has to go see her!"

"No! I will not let my son near that slut!" He tried to shut the door again, but Klaus was an immovable object. Ulrich backed away. "I will call the police!" Heinrich grabbed Ulrich's arm and started to hurry away. Klaus was inside with his gun drawn before Dorian could stop him.

"HALT!!!" Klaus shouted in that famous von Eberbach ear-busting voice.

Heinrich froze and Ulrich screamed and tried to run. His father held him fast. "Don't move, son," said Heinrich.

Dorian felt ill. Things were not going as well as he had expected. "Everybody, just calm down," he said. "We just want you to listen."

Heinrich's eyes were bugging out. "I'm listening."

"I don't know why you and Christine divorced and I don't care why. But you can't keep her and Ulrich apart. She's his mother. He has a right and a need to know her."

"And so she sends terrorists to get him?"

"No. We're not terrorists. And she didn't send us to get him. She can't. She's in a coma."

Heinrich squinted. "What?"

"She's in a coma. She may be dying. Please, you’ve got to let Ulrich see her."

"You're lying!" said Heinrich. "This is all some sick plan to get my son! Well, it won't work. You'll have to shoot me first."

"No!" cried Ulrich. The thin child ran at Klaus. Dorian covered his eyes in fear. Klaus was a trained agent. He hoped thought would win over reflex.

The Major caught the boy in one hand, keeping the gun trained on Heinrich.

"Let him go!" cried Heinrich, not moving.

Klaus shoved the child towards Dorian. The Earl held him securely.

"It's all right," Dorian said. "No one is going to hurt you."

Ulrich fought him, but Dorian managed to keep him from escaping. Meanwhile, Klaus fished out his badge. "I'm with NATO. Your ex-wife was assisting NATO with a case. She was injured and now lies in a coma in Freiburg."

Heinrich's expression changed. He went pale. "What? She is no spy! What was she doing working for NATO?"

"She volunteered to help us catch some Neo-Nazis," said Dorian. "And to solve murders both past and present. In return for her help, I promised to reunite her with Ulrich. But now she may be dying."

"Mama?" said Ulrich in a tiny voice.

Klaus put the badge and gun away. "Let him see her."

Heinrich looked at Ulrich without really seeing anything. There was a look of disbelief on his face. Were there feelings still for Christine?

"I cannot," he said softly.

"We'll give you the money to go," said Dorian. Klaus' face snapped around to him, but he said nothing.

Heinrich shook his head. "No."

Ulrich was crying pitifully. "Mama... Mama's dying..."

"For God's sake!" Klaus growled through clenched teeth. "You can't deny him his own mother! He'll hate you forever if you do!"

"Please, Vati," Ulrich sniffed. "I know what Mama did, but I want to see her!"

"Do it for your son," said Klaus. "Don't be a selfish bastard. Don't punish him for her sins."

Heinrich seemed lost. "All right."

Dorian let Ulrich go. The boy ran to his father and hugged him.

"You will really go?" said Dorian.

"Yes," sobbed Ulrich. "Won't we, Vati?"

Heinrich pressed his lips together and closed his eyes, nodding once. "For you, my son."

Dorian knew that it was for Heinrich too. He took out his wallet and gave their tickets to Heinrich. "Take these and go. Go as soon as possible."

"What if it's too late?" said Ulrich.

"Your Mama loves you. Even if she is dead, she still loves you. When you get there, she will know you love her too."

Ulrich sniffed and nodded. When Dorian found out himself how things ended, he would decide about the book. Maybe she would be able to give it to him herself someday. "Good-bye," said Dorian.

No one said anything. Klaus and Dorian left.

"Kidnapping would have been easier," remarked Dorian glumly as Klaus drove them out of the neighbourhood.

Klaus grunted.

"It's going to be okay now," said Dorian. "He'll get to see his mother before she dies."

Klaus' jaw tightened.

"Oh, Darling, I'm sorry! I—"

"Don't!" Klaus said tersely.

Dorian fell into complying silence. His poor wounded Major. He wished he could just go back in time and save him. He ached to hold that child-Klaus in his arms and protect him. But of course, he couldn't. He could only hope to help him to help himself. If only he could find a diplomatic way to persuade Klaus to seek professional help.

Klaus drove them around town, headed nowhere. That was fine with Dorian. He liked going for drives. Besides, there was nothing to do at the hotel but fool around, and neither of them were in the mood for that.

At last, Klaus let out a slow, shaky breath and said, "There was a time — when my father and I first began to have our falling out — that I would cry for my mother. A mother I had never known. "

Dorian said nothing. Let Klaus get this off his chest, he thought.

"I was still just a child, much younger than Ulrich. It seems as soon as I was able to act independently. Father and I began to grow apart." He reached for a cigarette. "I never knew what he wanted of me. I still do not."

Dorian felt he ought to make some sort of remark or gesture, but all he could think to do was look at Klaus and nod. It seemed to be the right move.

"I was always so sure that if my mother was still alive, everything would be all right. I would fantasize about what she was like. I could make her into anything I wanted her to be. Perfect. Loving. Accepting." He turned onto a highway. "Someone who'd love me no matter what."

Dorian stroked the hair at Klaus' temple. "I know she would have, Klaus."

Klaus grabbed his hand and kissed it brusquely. "I have you now. I am fortunate to have found that love at some point in my life."

Dorian could have wept and shouted and pounced on him all in that moment. Instead, he just squeezed Klaus' hand and told him he loved him.

They found their way to a lake. A few people braved the hot mid-day sun to fish or picnic. Bright sailboats colored the water with their reflections. Dorian regretted not remembering his sunglasses.

"So now that you are flat busted," said Klaus, "I suppose you expect me to pay for our way back home."

"Unless you want to stay here forever. Or tangle with Mr. James."

"Hell no and Hell no," replied Klaus, resuming some of his usual zest.

"We can stay the weekend at least, can't we? I'm not looking forward to being apart from you."

Klaus fussed with the air-conditioner. "Ja."

"Good." Dorian kicked off his shoes. "We can check out the museums."

Klaus actually laughed at that. "Determined to make off with something, aren't you?"

"Maybe."

"Well, I will not let you."

"So? How are you going to keep me occupied?"

Klaus gave him a perplexing smirk, "We shall see."

"Major?"

Klaus turned on the radio. "Look on the map. See what there is to see."

They spent the afternoon at the 45th Infantry Division Museum, looking at Civil War artefacts and lots of vehicles, weapons, and aircraft. It was a yawn to Dorian, but it seemed to perk Klaus right up.

***

As night fell, Dorian and Klaus made their way back to the inn, having dined at an inexpensive restaurant and taken in a picture show, The Crying Game, at the dollar-and-a-half theatre. Klaus had heard it had something to do with the IRA, and had been disappointed (and shocked) at the actual story. Dorian found it all terribly romantic, of course, and hadn't been surprised at all by the plot twist. Naturally, he wouldn't be.

Up the street from the Polynesia Inn was a huge square building that looked somewhat like a warehouse. There were dozens of cars parked in the lot, and people going in and out or just hanging around outside.

"It's a club!" said Dorian, eyes sparkling. "Do you dance?"

"I know formal dances and a few folk dances, but that is all. I do not think that I could or would dance at such a place."

"Oh please. For me?" Dorian clasped his hands pleading-fashion and blinked his baby blues at Klaus.

"Nein. I have no desire to make a fool out of myself." He could imagine what types of antics went on in a gay bar. Groping on the floor, screwing in the bathrooms.

"You wouldn't! You'd be a smash! Come on. Love. I could show you how to dance. It's easy. There's nothing to the dances of today."

Klaus drove back to the Polynesia Inn. "Nein. I will not go."

"You're so paranoid," Dorian huffed as they walked through the lobby. A couple of men were loitering on the sofa and watched as the two went past. "We did what you wanted today. Look. I got a sunburn!"

One of the men, a large cowboy, made a disapproving "Mmmm," sound.

Klaus shot the man a Look, then turned one to Dorian. "Do not act like a child! As I recall, we are here because of your promise."

Dorian fell silent and dropped his gaze, following along slowly behind Klaus. In the room, he just sat at the table, sulking. Klaus decided to ignore him. He hated to disappoint Dorian, but there was no way in Hell he was going to a gay bar. The Major clicked on the television and found a cable news channel.

'"I don't want to go by myself." Dorian fiddled with his sash. "I want everyone to know I'm spoken for."

It probably would not be safe for Dorian to walk there by himself alone, nor to dance alone. Every man in the place would be fighting over him. Someone might even follow him back to the hotel. No, it was best if Dorian did not go alone.

"All right. I will go with you. But I will not dance. I will only go to keep you from getting that fancy ass of yours in trouble."

Dorian leapt up with delight. "Great! Let me find something to wear!"

Klaus closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead. As far as he could tell, the typical gay male dressed nicely, but nowhere near as outlandish as his own eccentric butterfly. Before he had assumed it was typical for homosexuals to look like dandies or gender-benders. Not so. Most of the other guest at the Polynesia Inn looked downright ordinary. No one even had long hair except for the one cowboy in the lobby.

"Wait outside," Dorian said with a grin. "I want to surprise you!”

Klaus made a face that was a cross between dread and doubt. "What are you planning?"

"You'll see. Please?"

"God, what I do for you. All right, but no sequins and no feathers!"

"’kay.”

Outside, the night was hot. Apparently it never cooled off here in the plains. He lit a cigarette and watched a pair of men across the way move into a room. A few men swam in the pool. He finished one cigarette and started another. After a few minutes another couple of men emerged from a room down the way and walked past. Both looked Klaus over with obvious relish, then, as they passed, one turned and gave him a big smile. Klaus almost turned and beat down the door. He had to stop being so homophobic. He was in love with a queer, for Christ's sake. It was hard for Klaus to think of himself as a queer. He didn't desire men. He loved Dorian. Whatever else he felt, desire, longing, passion, it was still only for Dorian.

About five minutes later, the smiling man returned, alone. Klaus felt his heart begin to race. Please, Dorian, he mentally pleaded, open the door.

But no such luck.

"Hi," said the admirer, a well-built young man with dusky skin and wavy black hair.

Klaus grunted and gave a curt nod.

"Waiting on someone?"

Again, just the nod.

"That's too bad." The young man was actually rather handsome, like a fashion model, and dressed in elegant style.

"I agree it is too bad I must wait," muttered Klaus,

The man's eyes lit up. "God, what an accent! German?"

"Ja."

The young man smiled. "Very sexy. Are you sure you want to wait?"

Just then the door opened, revealing Dorian dressed all in brightest scarlet, from his suede boots, to his skin-tight lycra pants, to his satin pirate shirt to the red ribbons that were interwoven through his curls. Rubies sparkled at his throat and ears.

The young man gawked. Klaus just grinned. "What do you think?"

"I think I'm in love," moaned the man.

Dorian chuckled and put his arm around Klaus' waist. "Shall we, Darling?"

Klaus dropped his cigarette and stamped on it.

When they were out of earshot, Klaus hissed, "Bonham sent you that!?”

Dorian gave him a squeeze. "I rather fancy Penderton packed my bags, but it is standard practice. One never knows into what situation one will find oneself. He even sent a gown and high heels. Just in case."

Klaus rolled his eyes. "You look like Zorro the Gay Blade!”

"Don't you like it? I thought red was your favorite color. It's so passionate."

"I do not have a favorite color. I like black."

"I might have guessed."

Dorian dropped the half-embrace when they reached the street. There were lots of other people walking in pairs or in groups. None were dressed flashily. Dorian stood out like a torch. Klaus couldn't decide whether to feel embarrassed or proud to be seen with the phoenix. Of course people stared. Even the lesbians. A few men and women even whooped or made appreciative comments. They met one trio of young men headed the opposite way. One hooked an arm around Dorian's waist and kissed him on the lips, long but not open-mouthed. Dorian accepted the attention graciously, taking Klaus' hand as he returned the kiss. The man smiled and went on his way.

Klaus gaped at Dorian. How could he?

The Earl smiled. "It's nothing. Darling. It's only the night."

Klaus was unmoved. "I do not enjoy watching you kiss strangers. If you are going to keep that up, we will go back now. "

"I'll be good! I promise!" Dorian replied too eagerly.

Again, Klaus was seized by ambivalence. He longed to see Dorian flicker on the dance floor, but dreaded having to peel worshippers off of him.

Inside the foyer was a desk with two attendants behind it. One androgynous person sat on a bar stool in front of a pair of doors through which came and went men and music.

They had to show their IDs, which Klaus almost refused to do until a pleading look from Dorian melted his resolve. Then they were stamped with invisible florescent ink and went inside.

It was nothing like Klaus had imagined. To the left was a bar, all polished marble and glass. There was a spiral staircase close by which seemed to lead to a loft of some kind. To the right were tables and chairs and beyond those, huge monolithic speakers which blasted onto a dance floor. No one was kissing or groping or acting at all inappropriate. Assuming men dancing with men was appropriate. There were a few women there also. Dorian took Klaus' hand and dragged him towards the dance floor. Klaus dug his heel into the carpet of the seating area.

Dorian pointed to a row of barstools by the wall near the dance floor. Klaus took a seat and Dorian danced away, a swirl of ringlets and ribbons.

Men stared. They took turns dancing with him. Lots of men handed him slips of paper. Some of those men were very handsome. Klaus watched with growing insecurity. Plenty of men asked Klaus to dance but he rejected them all with stern refusals. Finally, Dorian returned to him, sweating and breathless and bright-eyed. His curls stuck to his face and neck.

"Well, Darling? Ready to dance?" he shouted over the music.

"What for?" Klaus shouted back, gesturing at the roomful of Dorian's admirers.

"Oh, come on. They think I'm here alone. Come dance with me and no one else will."

"I do not know how to."

Dorian gestured at the dancers. "It's a cinch. Come on." He took both of Klaus' hands and tugged. Behind Dorian stood another man, obviously waiting to see if Dorian would be free for this dance. No, Klaus could not bear to see him dance with anyone else.

"All right."

Dorian led him to an empty patch of floor. The Earl tossed back his mane, locked eyes with Klaus, and moved in a way the Major had never seen him move before. The blond was like a tendril of smoke, twisting, rising, undulating out of time with the pounding dance beat, yet the very focus of the music. He moved sinuously and slow, writhing to the licks of an electric guitar. Erotic. Dorian looked like he was making love.

Klaus wanted to kiss him. He wanted to slip his fingers into that open mouth. He wanted...

Dorian pressed backwards against him, sliding down to a crouch, then back up, rubbing against Klaus' body, especially his groin. It was lewd and exhibitionistic and Klaus felt his face grow hot. Then Dorian turned to face him, so close that Klaus found himself practically straddling one of Dorian's legs. The Earl grabbed the sides of Klaus' hips and rubbed against him, eyes staring boldly, wolfishly, into Klaus'.

"You call this dancing?!" the Major shouted, teeth clenched.

Dorian nodded and slid slowly down then up Klaus' leg. Was he trying to show everyone that Klaus was his? Or that he was Klaus'? At any rate, Klaus felt like an unwilling participant in a peep show.

"Well, I call it frottage!" He tried to step back, but Dorian had a hold of him. Klaus looked helplessly about. Most of the other dancers were not paying them any attention. Those who were seemed either admiring or envious. No one seemed particularly shocked.

Dorian took a step away, slid his hand up his own scarlet form, then began to dance to the driving beat, turning from smoke to flame, rubies flashing in the multi-colored lights. Klaus tried to leave the dance floor, utterly unable to move at all like that, but Dorian caught his hand.

"Like this," he shouted, doing a simple step-together, step-together dance. Klaus found it easy to fallow the pounding rhythm and do the simple movement. Around him, bodies undulated, thrashed, flashed and jumped. He felt like an idiot. He wasn't even dressed appropriately. It spoke volumes for Dorian's love that he wasn't embarrassed to be seen with the Major. Klaus tried to mimic some of the other dancers, but couldn't get his rigid, European-trained body to move like the wi1low-spined Yanks. Ach, Dorian was better off dancing with people who knew what they were doing.

But Dorian seemed to be having a great time. He smiled at Klaus and danced only for him. His body was so white next to the brilliant red of his garments. A devil. That's what he was, but a beautiful, compelling devil. And Klaus was caught in his Hell.

Dorian grabbed him by his tie. "Loosen up, Lover! You're doing fine! "

Klaus grabbed those wrists. He started to insist on going back to the motel when another song began. It had a very clear 2-count beat prevalent in so many disco songs. Sudden inspiration hit and Klaus changed his grasp on Dorian, taking the Earl's right hand in his left and putting his own right hand behind Dorian's waist. Taking the cue, Dorian put his left hand on Klaus' shoulder, and Klaus led him in a quick, whirling 2-count ballroom dance. At first there was little room for movement, but eventually other dancers cleared a space for them, watching with delight.

Dorian was pretty good at following, for a man. Klaus whirled him about to the beat, and Dorian glided along gracefully. It suddenly dawned on Klaus what he was doing: dancing with Dorian in the middle of a room full of homosexuals and having a great time. The utter improbability of it struck him like a thunderbolt and he began to laugh, never breaking pace with the dance.

"What is it, Darling?" Dorian shouted, obviously pleased to see the German laugh.

Klaus couldn't stop, he just dipped Dorian to the floor, then lifted the breathless Earl as the room exploded in applause. Afterwards, the pair was hustled to the bar where many drinks were bought for them. Klaus drank only what he could hold, but Dorian gulped down anything placed before him, lost in the pleasure of being worshipped. By the time Dorian decided he wanted to go, there was little grace in his step. He clung to Klaus' arm for support and navigation.

"I think I got a little carried away," he stated apologetically as Klaus guided him outside.

"Think so?" Klaus replied, not really scolding.

"I feel really, really good," Dorian grinned. "Just not very real right now."

Klaus slung Dorian's arm around his shoulders and half-carried the Earl down the sidewalk.

"Need a lift?" asked someone in a pickup truck.

"No, thank you," replied Klaus. His ears felt like they'd been stuffed with cotton. The truck drove off.

"Did you have a good time?" Dorian asked, breathing liquor-cabinet breath at him.

"It was...not too unpleasant."

Dorian gave a sly grin. "Ahh... you liked it!" He pinched Klaus' cheek. "I can tell."

Klaus jerked his head away. "Stop that. You should not have drunk so much. You are going to be sick tomorrow."

"I'm hungry. Let's get some breakfast" Dorian looked up hopefully into Klaus' face. His eyes were as red as his clothes.

"Well, it might do you some good."

"Dandy!" And the Earl began to giggle as if he'd said something clever. Klaus rolled his eyes and groaned. It was going to be a long night.

"Well, well, well, look what we got here."

Klaus nearly spilled his coffee as a somehow familiar voice came from right behind his ear. He jerked around and came nose-to-nose with one of the black youths from the airport.

"Queen o' da Nile."

Seven other faces peered over at them from the booth beside theirs. Klaus recognized the half-breed twins, the curvaceous black girl, the short white girl, the one with the dredlocks, and the other two youths. There was a new girl with them, cafe au lait and pregnant.

"Hey!" said Lint. "It's you!" she hopped up and scooted in next to Dorian. The Earl gave her a bright inebriated smile and made room for her.

"Whoa, boy. Whachoo got on dere?" asked one of the young men, a muscular, chocolate-brown youth wearing a t-shirt with a big X on it. Klaus considered it as a target.

Lint grabbed Dorian's ear-ring. "Are those real?" she asked in her squeaky little-girl voice.

"Are those?" replied the Earl, nodding towards the tiny girl's huge bosom.

"Why doncha find out?" she grinned.

"Cuz he a faggoteer!" said one of the twins.

"Rabbit!" scolded the voluptuous black girl.

Lint continued to ogle Dorian. She tickled his chin. He turned his bloodshot eyes to her.

"You is tore-up, ain't ya?" she smiled.

"Uh-huh."

"Feel good?"

"Uh-huh?"

"You look good."

Dorian just smiled.

"He look like a damn ketchup bottle," said a chunky youth.

"Would you people just mind your own business and leave us alone!" Klaus finally shouted. The young men all rose at once.

"Y'all," the girls said. Klaus wished he'd brought his gun, but it was in the car. He was not in the mood to deal with angry youths or the police. Just then, by good Fates or bad. Dorian lost his breakfast all over the table.

Everyone jumped back. Lint started laughing. Klaus grabbed Dorian.

"Come on," he growled, pulling Dorian to his feet.

"Sorry," the Earl whimpered.

"Man, that is gross!" said somebody.

"Man, Lint, shut up!" said somebody else.

Lint kept laughing.

Klaus hauled Dorian out to the car. He didn't bother trying to clean the Earl up. He didn't want to be trapped in the bathroom with those hoodlums.

Dorian threw up again in the parking lot, sagging to his knees. Klaus felt his own stomach turn. He stood over Dorian protectively, hoping no one would run them over.

Someone was running up to them. It was the well-figured one, carrying a bunch of napkins in her hand. Lint tagged not far behind with a glass of water.

"He okay?" the black girl asked.

"He will be."

Dorian just groaned and whimpered.

"Here!" said Lint, shoving the water under Dorian's face. "Drink!"

"Ne-ver again," moaned the Earl.

"Raquel, give him the napkins."

"Here, Baby," Raquel cooed, wiping Dorian's face like a mother would. "You just take it easy, Hon."

"Man, you really blew chunks back there!" exclaimed Lint.

"Shut up!" the other three snapped as one.

"Sorry."

Others were coming up: the twins and the boy in the X t-shirt, as well as a waitress.

"You still have to pay your tab," said the waitress.

"Ach," Klaus grumbled, pulling out his wallet.

Interested eyes watched as he dug into his wallet. He cast them all a wary look and turned away. He was getting low on funds. He'd have to have his butler wire him more before he could buy tickets home.

"Here. And here's for the trouble."

The waitress looked at the five dollar tip, looked at Klaus and sneered, then trudged back to the Denny's.

"Come on," Klaus said, pulling Dorian to his feet. Raquel got on the other side of the sot and helped him into the car. She handed Dorian a handful of clean napkins. "Take care, Hon," she smiled sympathetically. Dorian gave her a weak smile.

"Danke," Klaus muttered.

"Sure, Hon, and a word of advice while you're in our country; never say ‘you people’ to a bunch o' black folks, ´kay?"

"Whatever. Good night."

"Whatever," she smirked.

***

Dorian was properly contrite on the ride back to the inn. Klaus scowled a lot and didn't speak the whole time. Dorian just looked sorry and miserable. He was able to navigate the Earl to the room without incident, except for the chuckling clerk.

Dorian staggered towards the bed.

"Oh, no you don't," said Klaus, grabbing his arm and hauling to the sink.

"I'm tired," Dorian protested. "I don't feel well."

"And you should not! Drinking like a Bacchanalian, then bolting down greasy food! You should know better! Where are your dignity and self-control?" He pulled Dorian's shirt off of him.

"On the table at Denny's," moaned the Earl.

"Well, I hope you have learned your lesson," Klaus scolded with a little less vehemence. He put toothpaste on Dorian's toothbrush and handed it to the Earl, "Brush!"

When Dorian had brushed and gargled, Klaus went to fill the tub, leaving his patient propped up against the doorway. When he looked up, Dorian was gone.

"Dorian, you had better not be—"

But he was. Dorian was splayed gracelessly across the bed, breathing deeply. Klaus sighed and went to take his own bath. Afterwards, he donned his pyjamas and tried to find a space on the bed. Dorian stirred and rolled over on his side, smiling at him lasciviously. "Baby," he fairly purred. "King of the Nile."

"Shut up."

Dorian gave a throaty chuckle and pulled off his earrings. "Aren't you going to undress me?"

"I was going to give you a bath, but you collapsed."

"I don't like the way you give baths," Dorian muttered groggily.

Klaus leaned up on one elbow. "I apologize for that. Are you ever going to forgive me?"

What Klaus assumed was supposed to be a tender touch to his face turned out to be a clumsy swat. "I never held it against you, Pumpkin."

Dorian looked so fuzzy and cute. Klaus cradled him against himself. "You are not going to vomit again, are you?"

"You mean 'blow chunks'? No. I'm okay."

"Gut." Klaus kissed him. He tasted of toothpaste and mouthwash, fortunately.

Dorian grunted in surprise. He wrapped an arm loosely about Klaus' back. The Earl didn't smell much like roses. He smelled like cigarettes, booze, and sweat. Klaus supposed it could have been worse. Somehow, Dorian had managed to avoid puking on himself. It was probably a skill all aristocrats mastered.

The Earl wriggled one leg between Klaus', as the Major was almost lying on top of him. Klaus liked the feel of this other man in his arms. He liked the way Dorian's broad shoulders fit against him, the way Dorian's smooth, delicately muscled chest pressed into his own, the way their hips fit together when they straddled one another’s legs.

Remembering what had spurred all his previous surges of desire, Klaus kissed Dorian's neck and slipped one of his fingertips into Dorian's mouth. The Earl obligingly sucked and nibbled on it. Klaus felt a thundering heartbeat that echoed in his loins. It was so intense and so miraculous to him, he almost shouted in triumph. He buried his face deeper into the hot flesh at Dorian's throat. The Earl stopped licking.

"No, do not stop," Klaus groaned, brushing his fingers urgently over Dorian's teeth. But the Earl didn't budge. Klaus looked up, devastated. Dorian was out cold.

The Major rolled off, feeling the raw ache centered in his groin. "Idiot!" he growled at Dorian. "Bad timing!"

His hand wandered down to his barely-erect penis. It delighted him to feel his body respond in a way it had never responded before. He wasn't broken. Dorian had healed him. He stroked himself over the cotton pyjama bottoms, then beneath his underwear. It felt nice, not electric like before. It was comforting, like singing nursery rhymes. But it wasn't as much fun as when Dorian was entwined with him, so he lost both interest and erection, and went to sleep.

He dreamed.

Little Klaus wandered through the debris of his nursery. Broken toys littered the destruction like the casualties of some tiny war. But he wasn't upset. There was a twinge of sentimentality, but he was too old for the nursery anyway. Too old to sleep with his father on stormy nights. He climbed over a heap of rubble where tattered blue-striped wallpaper fluttered in the wind.

From the top of the heap he could see his school. The bells rang throughout the valley. He was late.

Suddenly he found himself in the rubble of Father Haffemann's office. The mighty oak desk was broken in two. Bookshelves spilled their contents to be lost in the debris. He laughed. He was free.

There was a sound from nearby. He scrambled over the splintered black door. A vast, empty plain stretched out before him. Standing on the lush green grass was Dorian, holding a huge blueprint. Little Klaus went up to him, pulling at the Earl's sleeve. Dorian knelt down and showed Klaus the blueprint. It was for a small cabin.

"What is that?"

Dorian put one arm around the child. "It's your playhouse."

Little Klaus was delighted. "Really? For me? But it's so big!"

"You'll grow into it. For now, it is your playhouse. You can put anything you want in it. And no one can come in unless you want them to. "

Little Klaus was delighted. A place all his own. Not even his father could go in there. The child laughed and danced around the empty lot, clapping his hands. Dorian watched, beaming with pleasure.

"Let's build it!" Klaus crowed.

"Right, then, Sweetie. Here." He offered Klaus one side of the map. "Hold those corners." Dorian held it by the opposite corners. Like laundresses airing out a sheet, the man and child lifted the blueprint, then snapped it down abruptly. The lines of the floor-plan flew from the page, growing life-sized and then settling around them. Walls sprang up, complete with windows and doors. A fireplace unfolded beside them, and a roof fell from nowhere to cover them. The floor rose mysteriously from the grass.

Little Klaus cheered, jumping in place.

"Now fill it with things you want," laughed Dorian.

Klaus looked uncertain. "How?"

"Just wish for it and you will have it."

"Really?"

"Of course. This is your home."

Little Klaus looked around at the stark surroundings. The windows were bare.

"Curtains," he said, and pale blue curtains appeared.

"Lovely!" exclaimed Dorian.

"A bed!" Suddenly a big fluffy bed appeared, complete with handmade quilt and ruffled bed skirt.

"Carpet! Toys!" the child commanded, and every wish came true. Even fanciful creations. "A cake machine! Automatic hair-brusher!"

When it seemed the cabin could hold no more delights, he walked over to the nightstand. "A picture of Dorian."

The real Dorian knelt behind him, resting his hands on Klaus' shoulders. "That's sweet. Thank you."

"I want you to stay," said Klaus. "I want you to take care of me."

"Even when you're grown?"

"Yes." He turned and hugged Dorian. "I love you," he sighed into his friend's hair. He loved Dorian's hair.

"I love you too, Sweetie."

Klaus had never been happier.

Big Klaus awoke clinging to Dorian. The Earl stretched and yawned.

"Oh, my head," he moaned.

Klaus disengaged from his hung over partner. "Are you going to be ill?"

"No, I don't reckon so. Actually, besides the headache, I feel pretty good."

"Me too."

Dorian nestled closer. "I like waking up in your arms."

"Me too."

They both sighed contentedly. Sleepiness slid off them like a satin sheet. Dorian gave Klaus' waist a squeeze. "I had the nicest dream," said the Earl. "I found you as a child. We built you a cabin..."

 

Next
Home