All Possible Worlds
Klaus hated working with Dorian, but when NATO commanded, he had no choice. It seemed to him that NATO ought to be able to get along without the services of a thief, yet here they were, yet again.
The Earl was waiting for him in the safehouse, sipping a glass of Mosel's and not bothering to conceal his enjoyment of the sight of Klaus in his tight black suit. Since his working relationship with NATO had begun, Klaus had acquired a couple of looser burglary suits; slightly less practical, but the way the Earl had ogled him in the properly fitting ones made him feel like he was on an auction block.
"Do you have it?" the Earl asked, winding a finger through one of his golden curls.
"Idiot." As if he would shame the memory of Tyrian Persimmon by failing in such a simple heist. His ancestors had perfected their craft over generations, and this upstart, whose title was a full generation younger than Klaus's, presumed to ask if he'd succeeded. Snorting, the thief took the microfilm out of his belt and tossed it to Dorian.
Dorian caught it easily, smiling maniacally. Klaus half expected him to squeal with glee. The Earl was known for his frivolity, which he supposed was why the man was so effective: no one would ever believe that a foppish playboy could possibly be an intelligence agent. Especially since everyone knew he was a poofter and spy agencies generally tried not to hire queers. Few stopped to realize that that was exactly why the Earl was employable: no one could possibly blackmail him.
Dorian didn't squeal at the microfilm, but he did hold it in his palm and say happily, "Oh, Mischa, old man, I have got you now."
"The two of you make a cute couple." Klaus turned on his heel, but was stopped by the Earl's insistent voice.
"Now, now, O Robber Baron, you know I have to debrief you before you go."
"If you use that word in my hearing again, I'll tear your lungs out, you pervert," Klaus growled, but he dropped into a chair impatiently.
Dorian put the microfilm down carefully on the desk beside him, next to a stack of dossiers and coded instructions. "You didn't nick anything else while you were in there, did you?"
"You can't hire a thief and expect him not to steal things."
The Earl's too-pretty face creased in a dramatic frown. "Oh, dear. I knew that painting – what was it, one of those pre-Raphaelite thingummies? – would be too much of a temptation for you."
"It was a de Morgan and that fucking idiot had it in a back room where it was going to get mildewed! People with shit for brains who are too stupid to take proper care of real paintings have no business being allowed to own them! We might as well just sell them all to the Americans!"
The Earl sighed gustily. "I suppose there's no point in nitpicking over stealing something that was likely bought with Soviet money anyhow. But I really should set a condition on letting you keep it." This last was accompanied by an all-too-familiar expression of lechery. Klaus wished there were a heavy blanket or something nearby so he could cover himself with it.
"Is that what it comes down to?" he demanded, giving the Earl the most unfriendly look he could summon. Only a complete idiot would not be discouraged by such a look, so it would probably be useless. "I have to sleep with you to avoid being handed over to Interpol on a platter?"
Dorian tilted his head flirtatiously. "As if I would be so vulgar. No, my love, you don't have to sleep with me." He gave a slow, seductive smile. "You just have to keep giving me opportunities to ask."