All of the alphabets who were facing the café’s north entrance cringed. The Major, keeping an eye on the more frequented south entrance, turned his head swiftly, expecting to see a KGB agent. Then his emerald eyes narrowed and his lip curled.

The new arrival sauntered over to the alphabets’ table, smiling radiantly.

"What do you want, Eroica?" the Major growled.


"Then take it and get out."

Eroica gave a dewy-eyed look of shammed concern. "I can always tell when you’re in a bad mood, darling," he cooed. "You breathe."

The alphabets had been listening in cowed silence. Now Z coughed quietly, dabbed the corner of his mouth with his napkin, rose and walked out. Dorian’s eyes flickered to him, but he otherwise took no notice.

"Get out of here, Eroica," Klaus repeated. "Get out of Madrid, in fact."

"I was hoping the Spanish sense of style had infected you, darling," Dorian remarked as if he had not heard. "Wearing something more dashing might loosen you up a bit. Have you ever seen Ninotchka?"

"Yes. I liked her better in the first half of the movie."

"I should have guessed." Now that a moment had passed, Dorian judged that it was safe to ask lightly, "So what did Z hurry out of here for? Rather rude, not even saying goodbye…."

"No doubt he caught sight of someone he knew and went to say hello." The Major knew Eroica would understand that Z had spotted someone who needed to be followed.

Eroica smiled angelically. "I could have told him not to bother. I stole the key to the code from Mischa last night."

Iron Klaus shot to his feet. "What?!?"

"I saved you all that bother, darling. I–"


Everyone in the café, and a few people passing by on the street outside, fell silent and looked at him.

Dorian said brightly, "Now that you have everyone’s attention, darling, what did you have to tell us?"

Glancing around at the eyes turned on him, the Major forced himself down to an ominous simmer and sat. With a jerk of his head, he indicated Z’s abandoned chair. Dorian took it. B, between them, hoped that another KGB agent would stroll by so that he could follow him.

Having regained a measure of self-control, Klaus spoke in a voice tight with fury. "Have you forgotten how dangerous that man is? Do you lack any sense of self-preservation whatsoever?"

"Darling, if I had a strong sense of self-preservation, I never would have fallen in love with you."

"Stop saying things like that, you — you–"

As Klaus sputtered, Dorian looked at him attentively. "Pervert? Idiot? Limey? Thief?" he supplied helpfully. "Nod if I’m getting warm."

"Eroica." The Major’s tone was warning. The alphabets turned pale. "This would not be a good time for you to be clever."

The Earl glanced around the table with his sunniest smile. "All right, boys and girls, our word for today is 'cantankerous'. Can anyone spell it?"

"I suggest you not try a stunt like that again," Klaus said in a deadly voice. Had he spoken that way to anyone else, he could have rested secure that they would adhere to the order for their next several incarnations. With Eroica… it might last a day. He hoped. "As long as you have it," he continued, glaring coldly, "I suppose we will be expected to negotiate with your pet stingy-bug for it."

"Would you rather have had to induce Mischa to part with it?"

"Yes. What do you plan to demand for it, you bloody thief?"

Dorian shrugged elegantly. "Oh, I’m sure we’ll work something out." He turned the full power of his most flirtatious look on his beloved.

Mosel green eyes widened, then narrowed. "Whatever you’re thinking, you curly-haired bugger–"

Sky-blue eyes widened in polite surprise. "Really, Major, you have a much dirtier mind than I do. I didn't mean anything like that at all. Honestly, what do you think I am? Don’t answer that," he added quickly, smiling.

"Idiot. I’ll collect that damned code tonight. Where are you staying?"

"The Hotel Santo Domingo. You’ll hate it; it’s lovely."

"Eight o’clock. You had better be there."

"Wouldn’t miss it for the world, darling."


At 7:55 precisely, the Major banged on the door of Eroica’s hotel suite. Dorian opened it, and indicated the desk as Klaus entered. The code was there. Klaus walked to it and looked at it for a moment.

"You could have been killed," he stated.

"I wasn’t."

"Don’t do anything like that again."

"You’re so sexy when you’re bossy. And of course, you’re always bossy…."

Klaus looked from the priceless sheet of paper to Dorian, and then pulled Dorian close to kiss him.

A long minute later, when his mouth was freed, Dorian pulled back to undo Klaus’ tie and start unbuttoning his shirt. "You didn’t honestly expect me to stay away from Madrid, did you, darling? It’s been a whole month since we were together."

"Three and a half weeks," Klaus corrected automatically. "How in the hell do you unfasten this thing?"

"Allow me." Dorian quickly pulled off his tunic and returned to the Major’s more straightforward fastenings while Klaus made a trail of kisses along his neck. "Now that you’ve got your code, can’t you take a few days off?"

"You know better than that. But we have tonight." Klaus gripped Dorian’s arms and pulled him in the direction of the bed.

"Hm. Then I hope you slept in this morning," Dorian remarked as he reached for his lover’s belt — not the oxhide one he had stolen from Klaus once, he noticed. Klaus seldom wore it anymore, probably afraid Dorian would steal it again. "By the way, that remark about taking nothing and getting out — I think you’re developing a sense of humor."

Klaus ran his fingers meditatively through Dorian’s hair. "Was I convincing enough today?"

"Quite, darling. You should have seen your poor agents cringe when they saw me. They’re all still quite convinced that you hate me."

Klaus paused in his caresses with a frown of resignation. "Dorian, how much longer are we going to have to carry on this damned charade?"

"Until you’re in a line of work less likely to inspire badly dressed psychopaths to take your lover hostage, darling. Mischa is a dangerous man, remember?"

"One of these days, Dorian," Klaus sighed, "I swear it, you are going to admit the truth about us openly."