~37~

NATO Headquarters was even more dreary than normal at night, without the constant noise and movement of industrious human activity to liven the fluorescent lighting and sickly yellow walls.

Not that it was abandoned at night. Wars, even cold ones, went on twenty-four hours a day. Security guards patrolled the corridors, watching for Russians to come rifle through the filing cabinets crammed with sensitive intel. Dorian had broken in a time or two for reasons of his own, and his professional opinion was that the guards weren't too bad, as such hired hands went. They had never been more than a minor inconvenience to him, of course.

Tonight they weren't even that. He had every legitimate reason to be here, so he strolled openly through the halls. Obsessive workaholic spies (and their hapless subordinates) were the only other life forms that dwelled here after hours. Dorian wouldn't have been surprised to learn that the Major had forced his poor alphabets to work late tonight, just to chaperone them when Dorian arrived with the microfiche he had been hired to lift. But the Major had apparently been merciful; he was the only one in the office, smoking and reading the contents of a thick folder.

"Good evening, Major." Dorian posed in the doorway, letting it frame him for Klaus's benefit. Not that the Major was likely to notice.

Klaus looked up. "You're earlier than I expected." He stubbed out his cigarette and swallowed the last of a cup of coffee.

"It was an easy job." Dorian sauntered slowly across the room, showing off. He had at best a few minutes before the Major threw him out and went, alone, to his chaste bed in the Schloss. He had to use every second to make an impression, to make one more hairline crack in the Major's armor, so that someday, it would shatter completely and Klaus would be his.

Frustratingly, the Major was ignoring the effort completely in favor of putting the files into one of his desk drawers, then locking it. Out of habit, Dorian glanced at the lock and calculated that he could have it open in fifteen seconds.

"Then maybe I should tell Accounting to reduce your fee." The Major spoke without any force. It was the sort of thing he said all the time. Dorian laughed.

"Take it up with Mr. James, my love."

Klaus responded with a brief curl of his lip, his attention still on putting his desk in order for the night.

Dorian reached the Major's desk and held out the microfiche. Klaus took it without comment and rose to put it in a safe. Dorian gave that one a full minute to crack, but he wasn't about to mention it. What if someday he wanted to look at something Klaus put in there?

"Did you find out what kind of safe that bloke in Austria has?" Now Dorian was stalling, pure and simple. The Austria job wasn't until next month, and the bloke wasn't the sort who would have a safe that would be a real challenge for Dorian. But what other excuse did Dorian have for lingering, for stealing a few more minutes with his beloved? Especially when this would be the last time he got to see him until they met in Austria four weeks hence?

Klaus gave him a distracted look. "No. Ehm, yes. I can't remember what it's called."

"Surely it must be written down in one of those dossier thingies you're forever making me read," Dorian prompted.

"Of course. A will send it to you in plenty of time." The Major half removed a cigarette from the pack, tapped it back in, and stuffed it back into his pocket. He picked up the empty coffee cup as if to drink from it, then set it back down with a scowl.

"I do need to know what it is in advance." Dorian was still just chattering, just for an excuse to stay and feast his eyes on Klaus's austere beauty. "Not that I can't improvise, but it's best to travel light in my trade, you know, so knowing exactly what equipment I'll need gives me an-"

Klaus blew up. "For Christ's sake, Eroica, can't we talk about this in the morning?"

Startled, Dorian backed up a pace. "I didn't know we were going to see each other in the...." His voice trailed off.

Klaus looked as if he were hoping a kindly KGB agent would appear in the doorway to shoot him on the spot. He looked around the empty office as if for some means of escape. The door apparently wasn't adequate. He stayed where he was.

"Major?" Dorian ventured when the silence become too lengthy.

Klaus couldn't meet his gaze, but after a couple of deep breaths, he managed, "I, ehm. Made sure that there is plenty of food for breakfast in my flat. Ehm, enough for two. That is." He stopped, and Dorian at last recovered from his own shock enough to speak.

"I suppose we might be noticed if we leave together." He spoke softly, smiling at his one true love. "Why don't we meet there in half an hour?"

Klaus nodded nervously, and as Dorian turned to go, said, "Wait."

Dorian turned back to see Klaus holding out a gift. Not roses or chocolate, but something far more romantic. A key. Shiny and new, obviously freshly made.

He smiled and took it, letting his fingers trail over Klaus's palm as he did. Klaus made no effort to avoid the touch, and Dorian basked in his victory.

He didn't even point out, as he turned to go, that he certainly didn't need a key to get into Klaus's flat. It was the thought that counted.

 

 

Snippets

Eroica