When the Major opened the door to his hotel room and switched on the light, the Earl of Gloria was waiting for him, sitting on the edge of the bed — his bed — and watching him alertly.

Klaus quickly closed the door in case anyone passing in the hall caught a glimpse of his uninvited guest. "Verdammt," he growled. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"Now, now, Major," Eroica chided from his comfortable seat. "You always scold your alphabets when they ask stupid questions. How else am I supposed to get a moment alone with you?"

"You're not supposed to!" Klaus began to turn red. "God-fucking-dammit, Eroica, how many times must I tell you to leave me alone?"

The Earl stood and tossed his abundant golden hair. "Really, darling. Wouldn't you be heartbroken if I did?"

"Get out of here before I—" He broke off, groping for a sufficiently dire threat.

"Before you shred my foppish clothes and ravish me like a Turk who's just escaped from solitary confinement?" Dorian suggested hopefully.

His face burning now, the Major stepped closer to Eroica and seized his arms just above the elbows in a painful grip. "God damn it, Eroica! Don't you understand? I can't do this!"

The silence lay between them, heavy and lengthening.

It was the closest thing to an admission that Klaus had ever made.

Dorian's enormous eyes rested on the Major for a long, strained interlude, before their owner spoke one carefully-chosen word.


This time it was Klaus's jade eyes that widened as he returned Dorian's stare. Those locked gazes shared a great deal without recourse to words.

Eventually Klaus's grip loosened, but did not release.

"I am not a coward," he said, very quietly.

And proceeded to prove it.