Summer In The City

Summer In The City

by Hwar Goh Tsu

 

It was the eighth of July 1982 and so far the summer had been a long hot one. The London night was humid and you could see steam rise as the light rain evaporated off the heat soaked pavement. Music blared from every car radio, every open door, and from carried boom boxes that blasted out conflicting rhythms, but the row of trendy clubs that lined the West End streets drowned out everything else when its doors were open. On every corner the musical talents of The Who, David Bowie, or one of the many American hard rock bands that the kids loved so much throbbed through the air.

Major Klaus von dem Eberbach was following a tip that led him to this side of the city, specifically to this night club. Klaus was a NATO intelligence agent, a spy.

The Candy Stripe was one of those places that played the music so loud you had to shout to be heard. The dance floor took up two-thirds of the room and the bar the remaining third. In-between, if you were lucky, you could find a table that was just large enough to hold your drinks. It was even hotter inside the smoke-filled club than it was outside.

Klaus managed, with his usual talent, to overtake one of the tables when a couple abandoned it to dance. He was searching the crowd for a young man dressed in black leather, who had requested a meeting here. There were too many bodies gyrating on the dance floor for him to see anyone clearly, and to make matters worse, at least half of them were wearing black.

He ordered a drink from a waitress with green hair. As he waited for his drink to arrive, Klaus examined the other tables and the bar, eager to spot his contact. Most of the people were young, in their twenties or younger, dressed as punks with brilliantly colored spiked hair, or as mods, wearing the latest clothes and their hair long. Klaus lit a cigarette, hoping the young man would find him and soon; it would not be an easy job to search the dance floor looking for him.

At the next table a couple of boys, at least the Major thought they were – it being hard to tell the boys from the girls these days – were necking. He turned away and hoped to hell that he was able to get out of here soon.

His drink arrived and without thinking, he ordered another. It’s all right, he told himself; this way, he would be done with the first one by the time she returned with the second.

The dance floor was dark until the brightly colored spotlights swept to pick out the cavorting dancers. It was dizzying to watch and the ritual of the dance excited him.

Twenty minutes later Klaus’ second drink arrived, just as the pounding beat of the wild music changed to a slower, almost jazzy rhythm. More than half the dancers left the floor in search of drinks. As the crowd crossed in front of his table, Klaus was able to ascertain that none of them was the man he was here to see. He transferred his gaze back to the dance floor, reasoning that with fewer people on it, he would be able to observe the dancers who remained.

Luck wasn’t with him; he noticed no one who fitted the description he’d been given of his contact. It was getting late; he glanced at his watch. It was after one. The place was open until three AM, but Klaus had hoped to be long gone before then.

With increasing interest, he watched a pair of tall dancers holding on to each other. They danced close together, their movements sensual and graceful. The blond had his – or her – arms looped around the other’s neck. All Klaus could see of the shorter dancer was long dark hair trailing down his back as he nuzzled at the blond’s throat. It was a dance of seduction. Watching, Klaus found that he was aroused. The temperature inside his suit became several degrees hotter than the rest of the room and he pulled at his collar.

He downed the rest of his drink in one gulp and tried to ignore the unmistakable movements of the couple on the floor. Reminding himself that he was on the job and that this was not the time to be thinking about finding a companion for the night, he lit another cigarette.

Maybe later.

Glancing once more at the dance floor, Klaus met hazel eyes that focused on him with recognition. They belonged to the dark-haired boy he was here to meet. The boy, as it turned out, was one half of the pair of dancers he’d watched with such interest a minute before. The boy was still hanging on to a tall, graceful blond man with startling blue eyes.

Eroica.

Violent emotions ambushed him. Klaus was unprepared for this meeting. And as they made their way to his table, he attempted to gain control over his reactions.

Avoiding eye contact, the NATO Major waved the pair toward the empty chairs at his table. Klaus wasn’t all that surprised by Eroica’s appearance. He was just unprepared, as always, to deal with him, having no idea how the notorious thief always managed to get himself involved in his business.

Klaus’ contact leaned across the table and introduced himself and his partner, "I’m Gerald, and this is the Earl of Gloria."

So that is who he is tonight. "Dorian." Klaus frowned and nodded with his habitual disdain.

Dorian smiled a sunny smile that rivaled his golden hair. Klaus couldn’t help but be impressed by it. "Klaus, darling, you are looking particularly handsome on this warm night." He had picked up the drinks menu, and languidly fanned himself with it.

Warm? It was damned near intolerable.

Dorian wore a sleeveless black T-shirt that clung to him like a second skin, and a pair of the tightest black jeans Klaus had ever seen. His skin glistened with sweat, and his damp hair had darkened to the color of old gold. Wisps of unruly hair curled tightly around Dorian’s remarkably beautiful face, that tonight bore no traces of make-up. Another kind of heat swept over Klaus and he hoped that in the smoke-filled darkness they were not able to see the resulting flush of his desire.

Klaus took his frustration out on the young man as he snapped, "What have you got for me?"

"First, I need to know that I will be safe, and that it won’t be traced back to me."

The NATO Major glanced pointedly in Dorian’s direction. Klaus could smell his rose scent, warmed by his exertions.

"I’m not worried about Dorian..."

Maybe you should be, thought Klaus. The beat of the music was making his blood pound in time with it. He forced himself to ignore his body’s response.

But the other man was continuing, "...if that’s all you can do..."

"I assure you that, unless absolutely necessary, I will not let it go any further."

The Earl interjected, "He’s right, you know. He will do what he promises." It shouldn’t have surprised Klaus that he sounded sincere… but it did.

"All right, if Dorian says so. Look, maybe we should go somewhere else?"

Klaus shook his head. "No one can overhear us here."

Dorian fiddled with the heavy gold chain on his small wrist. Klaus knew that his hand could completely encircle its deceptive frailty.

Gerald licked his lips. "I could sell this for a lot of money, you know."

"But?" Klaus’ tone demanded an answer.

"Well..."

"I think what Gerald means to ask, is whether or not you’re willing to reimburse him for his trouble," Dorian cut in smoothly.

The Major turned his hard green eyes on Dorian. "Is he capable of speaking for himself?"

"Yes, I can. I don’t need help." The last remark was directed at the blond, who was now occupied with twisting a curl of his remarkable hair around a finger. "As I was saying, I could use the money."

"If it’s worth it; I’ll see that you are compensated." He once again had to drag his attention away from Dorian.

"Very well, I can live with that." After pausing to take a breath, Gerald continued, "I have occasion to be in hotels quite a lot..."

Ein Stricher, Klaus speculated.

"...and one day last week, I came across documents that were in Russian. It was strange, so I checked out the rest of the contents of the desk. There was a contract--at least it appeared to be a contract, and it was in English."

"What did it say?"

"I didn’t really understand it, but it mentioned the World Trade Conference. That’s why you’re here. It’s held in Bonn, isn’t it?"

"It will be held there one week from tomorrow."

"The contract said that the person to be hired was to complete his contract by the end of that conference, and that the balance of payment was to be deposited in a Swiss bank account after he’d carried out his end of the deal."

"Isn’t that fascinating?" observed Dorian.

Klaus tried to ignore him as he leaned forward. "Was there an amount, or do you remember the account number?"

"Payment was to be a half-a-million Deutschmarks. The account number is here." Pulling out a crumpled cocktail napkin, he passed it to Klaus. There were numbers written on it in pencil.

"This will help," Klaus said. He glanced at the napkin before pocketing it.

"Also – I don’t know if this has anything to do with the other thing, but..."

"Go on, anything may be helpful."

"Well, he used drugs. The Russian, I mean. But he had more than a personal supply. A hell of a lot more."

"What kind?"

"Coke. Good stuff. He didn’t get it here, that’s for sure."

"This man, he doesn’t know that you have seen any of this?" Klaus was concerned. Where drugs were involved, not to mention the possibility of the KGB, the potential for danger was obvious.

"No. I’m sure he doesn’t," replied Gerald. But he didn’t sound quite as certain as his words suggested.

Dorian noticed also, and he put a hand on Gerald’s arm, lightly. "Gerald, do you need a place to stay?"

The lovely black-haired boy shook his head, no, but he wouldn’t meet the Earl’s eyes.

"Klaus?" Dorian was requesting that he do something about it.

Klaus didn’t answer. He hesitated, distracted, watching the progress of a trickle of sweat that rolled down the curve of Dorian’s firm biceps.

"Klaus!" There was no teasing in the voice this time.

"If he wants, he can stay with me." He didn’t want to deny Dorian anything. That was, anything that didn’t require him to be near the alluring blond.

"If it’s not too much trouble," Gerald answered grudgingly, like someone who was not used to accepting favors.

"Good, that’s settled. Where are you staying?" the smiling blond asked the Major.

"I don’t think I should tell you that."

"If the Earl doesn’t know where I am, I’m not going."

Dorian raised an elegant brow and his smile widened. He looked like a cat who had just gotten into the cream.

Klaus lit a cigarette before giving in yet again. The boy might be able to recall some more details, and having him around would be convenient. He would not have to run all over town tracking Gerald down, or worse yet, end up having to ask Eroica for help in finding him.

"Fine. We will be staying at a NATO safe house. It is on Carnaby Street, number 29."

Dorian acknowledged his accidence. "Thank you, Major. I will be by tomorrow night at eight to pick both of you up for dinner."

"That," he said sharply, "will not be necessary."

"What a fabulous idea!" Gerald smiled gratefully at Dorian. "It’s been ages since we’ve had some time to spend together."

This time, Dorian didn’t bother to smile a triumphant smile. The Earl was just as happy to have maneuvered Klaus into a position where he was forced to spend an evening in his company. He would have plenty of time to rub it in.

"Can I drop you boys off?" Dorian stood up fluidly, all his muscles working perfectly in concert.

"I have my own car," Klaus stated.

"In that case, I’ll say goodnight." Dorian leaned down; his blond curls fell around him as he kissed the boy on the lips, making it last. "And–" His attention returned to Klaus. "Gute Nacht." He made his way around the table, but Klaus moved out of reach. There was no way he was going to let Dorian near him while he was in this state. He had kept his desire secret from the thief for this long, and he didn’t want to ruin what little of a working relationship he did manage to have with Dorian.

***

Back at the NATO safehouse, Klaus opened the door to the extra bedroom and directed the boy into it. But,after one glance inside, Gerald followed Klaus into his bedroom.

"What are you doing in here? I have to make a call."

"I don’t have anything, not even a toothbrush."

"Check the bathroom. I will see about...the rest when I am done." Klaus picked up the receiver and held it pointedly, hoping that the boy would take the hint. He didn’t. Instead, he wandered around the stark room, devoid of any of the Major’s personal items.

"You don’t like the Earl very much, do you?"

Klaus sighed, and gave the phone a regretful look as he replaced the receiver. "We get along fine."

"But you don’t trust him."

"Sometimes."

"What do you have to do with him?"

"We work together."

"What is it he does for NATO?"

"Ask him." Klaus lit another cigarette.

"I have."

So Dorian does have some sense, after all.

"He wouldn’t tell me." Playing with a pair of Klaus’ cufflinks that rested on the dresser, he added, "You know, you two are a lot alike."

Klaus snorted at that.

"No, I mean it. You both are impossible to get an answer out of, if you don’t want to tell. You both are incredibly gorgeous and sexy. I’ll bet you both always get what you want."

Klaus ignored most of the nonsense, but the last forced him to respond, "As long as we don’t want the same thing."

He thought about it. "No, I don’t suppose that happens very often."

"No." The Major watched the boy as he moved with restless grace around his room. "Can I make that call now?"

"Oh, I’m sorry." Gerald headed for the door. "We can talk later." And with that he left.

Not if I see you first, thought Klaus. Gerald was much too perceptive for his own, and Klaus’, good. He would have to get rid of him as soon as possible. But did he trust Dorian with the boy? Picking up the phone to place the call to Bonn, Klaus wondered what their relationship was. The Earl and the rent boy with a heart of gold? Klaus loosened his tie and wished that it wasn’t so damned hot.

***

Over a breakfast that Gerald made from things that Klaus hadn’t even known he had, he was subjected to an intense examination. It was difficult to avoid the soft-seeming hazel eyes. Eyes that looked at him with knowledge acquired years before he should have even known people like Dorian existed. How old is he really? Sometimes Gerald seemed older than Klaus. Then he would do something stupid and Klaus would be reminded that he was just a boy. Was he even over the age of consent?

Last night had been one of the worst nights Klaus had had to suffer through; it hadn't been this bad since--since the last time he'd had to work with Dorian. He couldn’t seem to get that damned blond out of his mind. Just what was it he had been thinking about? Seeing the charming thief again had started the old longing just as strong as it had been the last time he’d been forced to work with him. And that time, Klaus had come very close to giving in to Eroica’s insistent offers of comfort. The look of desire in the Englishman’s blue eyes had haunted him for weeks afterward.

Klaus refused to let himself accept what Dorian offered so easily. He didn’t need it, or him. He had managed to get along thus far without anyone holding him back, and he was determined to continue on as he’d done in the past.

"So, what are we going to do today?" inquired the boy, breaking into his thoughts.

"I am going to try to find out some more information about our supposed killer. You are going to remain here, and I will arrange for someone to stay with you."

"I don’t need a baby-sitter."

Klaus put down his coffee and stood up. "You aren’t getting one. He will only keep you alive if necessary."

"Can I read something?"

"Help yourself to the library." Klaus put on his suit jacket and went into the privacy of his own room to call NATO’s London office. He arranged the final details so that he could escape this house as soon as possible.

Time passed slowly as they waited for the relief to show up. Klaus read the paper and tried to ignore Gerald as the boy searched for a book that was to his liking.

Eventually, he settled down with a copy of The Three Musketeers. He held it in his lap and questioned Klaus instead of reading it.

"I can see that you’re very strong and competent, so...what do you need the Earl for?"

"I do not need him."

"But you’ve worked with him?"

"Yes."

"You don’t give away much, do you?"

Klaus declined to answer that, as it was profoundly obvious that he did not.

The bell rang, announcing the relief. And it was with relief that the Major extricated himself to answer the door.

Gerald called after him, "When are you coming back? Remember, the Earl is picking us up for dinner."

"I could hardly forget. I will most likely return before then." After introducing the young British NATO agent, Williams, to Gerald, Klaus made his escape.

***

The office allotted for the Major’s use in the West German Embassy was not much larger than a closet. It seemed that his reputation didn’t rate very highly here, but that didn’t really matter to him. All he needed was a phone and the time to use it. Klaus’ contacts were one of his most valuable assets, and he knew how to get things done in the most expedient way.

Two hours later, he stuck his head out of the smoke-filled office in search of coffee. One of the secretaries volunteered to bring it to him. When she arrived with it she coughed and waved a hand at the gray cloud still hanging tenaciously in the air.

Maybe he was wrong about his notoriety; perhaps it was precisely that he was too well known, and for some of his worst habits. Not, he was sure, for his basest tendency. That would be confidential. No one ever need know of his unnatural habits. No one that he couldn’t trust knew anything at all. And that was how he wanted it to stay.

Klaus sat back, put his feet on the desk, and lit another of his lethal cigarettes. His vulnerability—that was what Klaus wanted to keep hidden from the world. He could never let another know how much sex--that brief tactile contact with another person--another man--meant to him. And he refused to let anyone discover that fact. If they did, then they would have acquired a biting weapon to use against him.

The phone rang, interrupting his morbid thoughts. It was Z, calling from Bonn with information on the Swiss bank account number. It had been opened for someone under the name of Herbert Sasshofer. Something about that name…it sounded vaguely familiar. Since it didn’t come to him immediately, he left to simmer in the back of his mind. If left alone, the information generally came into focus without his forcing it. For now, he could go and make use of the Embassy’s newest computer system. He wanted to see if it could come up with something that, for the moment, he couldn’t.

***

Major von Eberbach paused for lunch about one-thirty, much to the relief of the computer operators. Klaus had insisted on being instructed in the new system's use and wouldn’t leave the trained operators alone until he’d gotten them to do the searches he required.

Forgetting that it was frequented by the staff from all the embassies in the area, he went into the pub down the street. Fortunately, it was almost completely empty at this time of day. Klaus wanted some peace and was more than happy to be able to eat in the relative quiet of the large pub. Lunch consisted of only a sandwich, french fries – or chips the ridiculous name they had for them here– and a mug of beer. Unfortunately, eating reminded him that he was having dinner with Eroica.

Dorian. Would his peace of mind be forever disturbed by the thought of that incredibly alluring thief? With his unerring perceptions, the Earl of Gloria would be the one person most likely to discover his vulnerable spot. If Dorian just once touched him with intent, there would be no way on earth that Klaus would be able to stop himself. With Dorian, he would lose control and take him to bed. And then the blond would have him as surely as he had succeeded in capturing everyone he’d ever met: his staff, his accountant, God only knows how many lovers. Even some of his own agents had fallen under the man’s spell. How easy would it be for Dorian to manipulate him? Klaus didn’t intend to find out.

It would be so simple for Dorian to use that knowledge and information against him.

If only, Klaus thought, I could sleep with Dorian once… Just once, to prove to himself that he could walk away, turn his back on the thief and prove to both of them that Dorian doesn’t affect Klaus in the least. If only that were true... Klaus laughed at himself. If I were that good an actor. But in truth, for him to send Dorian away after a night spent in his arms would be like cutting out a piece of his heart.

No, it was much better to continue acting the same way he had been up to now, and steer clear of the troublesome Englishman. His feelings for Dorian must remain his own secret. No one--especially Dorian--must ever know.

The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to pry information about Russian drug connections from the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. That was one of the harder tasks to accomplish, which was why he decided to do it himself instead of letting one of his many agents deal with it. Klaus needed something that would occupy his time and his mind.

***

On his way back to the house, Klaus hoped that things would start moving soon. The sooner he had something concrete to do, the sooner he could return to Bonn.

Arriving back at the house, Klaus managed to avoid Gerald in favor of receiving a report from the agent he’d left for the boy’s protection. Nothing eventful had happened all day, except that the nosy boy had asked a large number of questions concerning the Major. Questions that the experienced NATO agent had refused to answer.

Then Klaus managed to escape from conversation on the pretext that it was time to get dressed for dinner. As he dressed, he tried to ignore the fact that tonight’s ordeal was something that he had managed to avoid so far, facing Dorian for a purely social reason. But for all his apparent resistance, Klaus was unable to deny the appeal that spending time in Eroica’s company had for him. However much he would have liked to do so, he had been unable to leave himself so very exposed. If only they were going to be alone.

When the boy turned up dressed in an expensive dinner suit, he thought to question how and where he’d gotten it.

The Earl had it sent round. Of course. Dorian was not the type to forget little things like dress. And it seemed that he had also sent a vase with two-dozen red roses in it. It was all there in the report the competent British agent had left for him to read. Everything had to have been thoroughly searched before it was taken into the house. Leave it to Eroica to put them to such trouble for something as frivolous as that.

Dorian arrived looking much too attractive for his own good, dressed as he was in a cream dinner suit, complete with brocade vest and a neckpiece tied in a bow in place of a tie. He also had a huge red rose in his lapel. With his hair loosely tied back, and pieces of it escaping to frame his face, Dorian appeared to be one of his paintings come to life.

Klaus was captivated. It was becoming harder for him to ignore what he wanted most; he had to remind himself to tear his eyes away from the annoyingly elegant man.

***

Dinner proved to be almost unbearable. The irritating Englishman immediately ordered champagne, and they drank a full bottle before the food even arrived.

Expecting that the evening would be a trial, Klaus was dismayed to discover, not only was it a trial, but it had also become one of the hardest struggles of his life. The latest torture the Earl had dreamt up to torment him was to flirt with, smile at, and whenever possible touch the young man who sat at his side. Klaus’ meal was forgotten in favor of watching the performance the other two men were putting on.

Klaus was made to sit and observe as, so nonchalantly, Dorian casually gave away his favors while every touch was one Klaus hungered for. It was unendurable. But again, Klaus prodded himself into remembering that lying in Dorian’s arms, after the fever between them cooled, would give him away as assuredly as if he had shouted his obsession for the exquisite blond from the rooftops.

Dorian had requested the diligent waiter to keep their glasses full, which he proceeded to do with normally commendable efficacy. Klaus lost count of how many bottles were opened and carried away throughout the meal.

At length, desert and coffee were brought and Klaus realized his attention had remained focused entirely on Dorian for quite some time. Even now, Klaus couldn’t help but admire the slim, graceful body of the Earl as he heartlessly flaunted his affair in front of him. Dorian’s long-fingered hand continued to flutter suggestively on and off of Gerald’s arm.

Gerald’s actions, spilling the cream and knocking silverware off the table, eventually caused Klaus’ attention to turn towards the boy. The Major frowned at the amount of drink he calculated the boy had consumed. Sometime after the second bottle, Gerald had begun to talk louder. Now he was beginning to attract the attention of the other diners.

The Major leaned over to Dorian to whisper, not all that quietly, "Is he even old enough to drink?"

"Yes, of course. But apparently he's not used to appreciating such a good champagne." Dorian leaned in even closer to whisper in Klaus’ ear. "Maybe we should take our leave now, before we don’t have a chance to do so gracefully."

Klaus pulled away quickly before Dorian could lay a hand on his arm. "That is the most sensible thing you have said all night."

While Dorian requested the check, Gerald protested. "The night is still young. Why don’t we go dancing? The Carousal is open all night." And then he appealed directly to the other Englishman. "I want to dance with you. You do want to--don’t you?" his voice husky with innuendo.

"Of course, darling. But it’s time for us to go now." And the Earl helped him out of the chair and to the door.

While they waited for the car to be brought around, Gerald looped his arms around Dorian’s neck and hung on.

"That is a disgusting display. Can’t you stop him?"

"I am trying." To Klaus, it appeared that Dorian was enjoying himself.

The Ferrari was driven up. The valet opened the doors and stood waiting.

"Why don’t you help me get him into the back seat?"

Klaus helped, none too gently, to deposit the inebriated young man into the back of Dorian’s small car. After handing the respectful valet a hefty tip, the Major took his position in the front passenger seat.

Dorian kept the top down. The fresh air, rushing past them as they drove, revived Klaus, but it caused their burden to pass out.

"He’s asleep."

"A least he won’t be making any messes in the car. The staff would have been very unhappy." And after a moment, Dorian added, "I’m sorry he ruined our evening."

"This was not ‘our evening.’ I only came along to watch him."

"Are you sure? I got the impression that you were more interested in watching me than your witness."

"You have a very vivid imagination."

"So I’ve been told. Aren’t you even the tiniest bit curious?"

Klaus made the mistake of turning to glare at him. Dorian looked back with mischief sparkling in his blue eyes.

"About what?" Klaus asked coolly.

"About what it would be like to have me make love to you?"

The idea had been about the only thing Klaus could think of all night, and now seeing what he desired most, so close, so willing and ready... "Nothing would disgust me more." But even to his own ears the tone of loathing was missing. There was no bite behind his words. Could Dorian tell?

Eroica just turned away and concentrated on his driving. It appeared that he’d decided to let it drop, and Klaus had no idea why.

At the house, Klaus helped Dorian drag Gerald up the steps and into the building. The Major was willing to let Dorian have the pleasure of putting the boy to bed all to himself, but as he tried to accomplish that, Gerald woke up and once more clung to the Earl.

"Come in with me," he whispered loudly in a thick voice. "You know that I will do anything for you." Gerald pulled the tie out of Dorian’s long hair and ran his fingers through the freed curls. "Anything at all. Just name it." He was attempting to plant sloppy wet kisses on the blond Englishman’s neck.

Dorian affectionately tried to discourage him, then he gently tugged to disengage Gerald’s arms from around his waist, but the he wasn’t having any luck. "Come on now. Time for bed," Dorian insisted, reasonably.

Instead of having the desired effect, it only served as an invitation for the black-haired boy to drag Dorian toward the bed. His lips fastened on Dorian’s as he pulled the lissome blond down on top of him, both of them falling onto the waiting bed.

Klaus had had enough of watching Dorian as he let himself be mauled. Unable to think rationally, he grabbed Dorian by the shoulders, pulled him up, and tossed him out into the hall.

"Go to sleep," Klaus ordered the youth, as he slammed the door to the room. There wasn’t a sound to be heard from inside the bedroom as he turned around to confront the blond.

What he saw caused him to halt in his tracks and stare. Dorian’s eyes were glazed over; his lips were parted and slightly swollen from the kisses he’d received. He was breathing a bit faster than normal and he stood limply, bracing himself against the wall.

Oh, Jesus Marie! The jealously and possessiveness Klaus had been keeping at bay surged forward and he was unable to stop himself from seizing Dorian’s shoulders and pressing him firmly against the wall. He met Dorian’s smoky blue eyes. Klaus willed Dorian to speak, to make a joke out of this. Anything, so that he would have an excuse to pull himself away, to deny his actions, restore his sanity and induce him to stop. But Dorian, uncooperatively, remained silent.

Klaus couldn’t come up with an excuse quickly enough to stop himself from responding to the flicker of lust he saw ignite the warm blue eyes. Without further hesitation, Klaus’ hands tangled in the incredible golden hair. He bent forward, kissing Dorian angrily, expressing his passion and putting into that kiss all the repressed feelings he had harbored for Dorian.

Shocked into submission, the wide-eyed Earl parted his lips, welcoming the unexpected contact. Suddenly, Dorian’s arms were around Klaus, holding him just where he had always wanted to be.

Klaus attacked without a trace of tenderness, his tongue forcing entry into that long desired mouth. The overwhelming sensation of Dorian relaxing against him, encouraging the contact, was his undoing. It was too late.

Caught up as he was in this desperate passion, Klaus remembered with certainty that what he had started could only end in disaster. But instead of doing anything to stop it, he lingered long and contentedly over the soft yielding mouth.

When he finally pulled back, attempting to steady his breathing, Klaus realized with a sickening dread that he was unable to tell if there was more than just longing in those outrageous blue eyes.

Dorian continued to cling to him, making small noises, dragging in small gasps of air.

Slowly, Klaus traced his thumb along that fascinating face, and continued down along the jawline. Dorian responded by pushing up into the caress. A dreamy smile haunted the blond’s parted lips.

Klaus kissed Dorian again, hands holding his head in place. Klaus deepened the kiss, proving to both of them the depth of his desire. And Dorian leaned into the kiss with his whole body. Klaus’ body was insisting that he find somewhere to take the sensual man--and fast.

Dorian might still be dazed by the suddenness of Klaus’ abrupt about-face but he obviously wasn’t about to ignore the opportunity that now presented itself.

"Your room?" Dorian asked in a voice that sounded somewhat like his normal one.

Of course, Eroica wouldn’t pass up this chance, he has always made that very clear. But Dorian’s motives didn’t really matter to Klaus, not here and now, because Klaus knew that there was no way he could stop himself--not for any reason. His desire was all-consuming. Nothing else mattered; it was as simple as that. Nothing mattered, other than having Dorian warm and willing in his arms. And here was the beautiful man expecting to be guided into the bedroom.

Klaus took the thin hand and escorted Dorian the short way down the hall. With heart pounded painfully in his chest and the sound of his pulse beating loudly in his ears, Klaus closed and locked the bedroom door behind them.

Nothing could intrude now, not unless Klaus could somehow find the strength to restrain himself. But what he wanted now, at this instant, was Dorian pressed tightly against him, skin to skin. He wanted to be the one to cause Dorian’s heart to race, and he wanted to make Dorian dance to his touch. The sultry blond would be his, if only for one night. He was planning on savoring the experience and damning the consequences tomorrow.

Dorian turned to face him. "Do you know what you’re doing?" he asked softly, keeping his distance.

And because Klaus felt that his actions earlier spoke for themselves, there was no need to comment. Feeling that Dorian was much too far away, he held out his hand.

Without hesitation Dorian moved into the circle of his arms and he found himself in the long-desired position of holding and being held in a welcome embrace. Dorian melted against him; after all, this was what Dorian had unceasingly said he wanted.

Acting on instinct alone, Klaus embraced the coveted sensuality of the lithe body. Waves of lust washed over him, threatening to pull him under. Nothing that he had experienced in the past had prepared him for this. This feeling of being helplessly swept along without control was unwelcome, even as it gave him the excuse he needed to stop thinking. Uncaring, Klaus sank slowly under the flood of feelings; as long as Dorian continued to kiss him with such passion the world could blow itself to pieces. Klaus had ceased to care.

Dorian exerted himself then. Pulling away, he rapidly began divesting them of their restricting clothes.He pushed Klaus’ jacket to the floor, then paused to remove his own. Pieces of their evening clothes landed in a pile and lay mingled together.

Klaus’ only thought was to gratify the hot hardness he felt pressing insistently against his thigh. There was no mistaking the urgent look of longing now darkening the blue gaze. Standing there with only soft blond curls as adornment, Dorian was everything he had imagined he would be. Klaus felt seared by the heat from those remarkable eyes as they traveled down Klaus’ body and finally came to rest on his groin.

Naked, Klaus pulled Dorian onto the neatly made bed and Dorian, unresisting, complied with the wordless direction to lie next to him.

A hand came to rest on the back of his neck, and Dorian rubbed there, releasing some of Klaus’ tension. After a bit long fingers detoured to slide playfully into the Major’s hair. Klaus responded by drawing Dorian into a demanding kiss as his hands buried themselves in the lustrous golden mane. His hair smelled wonderful. Dorian smelled wonderful.

Dorian’s cooperation was whole-hearted and unreserved. He deepened the contact and the kiss, pressing ever nearer.

Enthralled by the incredible feel and smell of the other man in his arms, Klaus wanted more. He pulled the silky, hard body of the sinuous blond under him. Holding his head trapped, he rocked his hips, sliding against the hot erection that now stabbed into his abdomen.

The night was one of the hottest of the year and they were sweating freely. They slid together, slick with the natural lubricant.

Dorian moaned aloud as a corresponding moan formed in Klaus' throat and they strained to get impossibly closer. None of Klaus’ previous experiences had prepared him for all his senses going wild. Fire burned along his nerves as he rocked his hips in rhythm with the unbelievable man under him. Klaus left the soft pliant mouth, leaving Dorian to breathe raggedly in his ear as he proceeded to nibble along the long neck, tasting the salty tang of sweat and exploring the fluid muscles tensing under him.

Dorian’s hands were also busy moving almost roughly on Klaus’ back. Reaching his buttocks, he squeezed and stroked, straining, holding Klaus even tighter to himself. For long minutes nothing else existed for either of them. Nothing other than the man who Klaus strove against, driving them both to the limits of their endurance and then beyond.

After wanting this for such a long time, it was all over much too fast. But Klaus knew that, as brief as it had been, he had never felt anything so remarkable.

Dorian was trying to catch his eye, attempting to gauge Klaus' reaction. His eyelids drooped heavily, and his eyes glowed with a soft satisfaction. Still weak from the sight, but now able to summon a modicum of sanity, Klaus avoided the question in Dorian’s eyes, hoping desperately that he hadn’t given away anything of himself. Even so, he was unable to resist drawing Dorian back into his arms, ignoring the fact that Dorian was expecting him to say something, needing an explanation. Closing his eyes on reality, Klaus told himself that he was not yet ready to face the truth.

Letting him off the hook, Dorian settled in with a sigh, his head resting contentedly on Klaus’ shoulder. Long graceful arms twined themselves around him. Klaus responded by tightening his own hold on the enchanting blond, knowing as he did that this was the beginning of the end.

***

The next morning, Klaus knew he must start from the very instant he woke to deny Dorian. It was his only chance. It was probably too late all ready, but he had to try. He had to try and salvage what he could of his career and his life. A life that had no place for a British Earl or a misguided thief… Disengaging himself from the tranquilly resting blond’s arms, Klaus moved away to distance himself from the allure he projected even in sleep.

Dorian moved restlessly, seeking the warmth that only a few minutes ago had been wrapped around him. The urge to return and claim the soft parted lips almost overcame Klaus. Instead, he stood rigidly, clutching his retrieved clothing to his chest as he rode out the hot waves of longing. It was going to be even worse than he’d imagined. How in hell was he going to be able to keep Dorian from knowing that his very presence sent Klaus over the edge into madness?

Klaus left to dress in the bathroom. Nothing would ever be the same again. Dorian now flavored his world, and nothing would ever again look quite the same as it had before. He knew now he’d been correct to fear this; it was not the sex, but the knowledge that Dorian was more important than anyone or anything that caused him to be afraid. Klaus knew that now he must prove to everyone, especially NATO, that that was not the case.

He went to make himself coffee. As it percolated, Klaus slammed the cabinet door, profoundly regretting that he could not trust Dorian to keep his secret.

While he was downing a second cup of black coffee, Dorian walked in. He was dressed in the wrinkled suit from the night before, as unkempt as Klaus had ever seen him. And yet he was incredibly irresistible. Dorian leaned against the counter and pushed his heavy hair back from his face with both hands. Klaus wanted to go over to him and bury his face in the silky length and inhale the scent of sex mingled with roses that he could detect still lingering there.

"You should leave before Gerald sees you," Klaus stated as he turned his back on Dorian.

"You...don’t want to talk about it," he inquired with a raised brow. He didn’t sound surprised.

"No."

"All right, I’ll respect that for now. But you do realize that we’ll have to discuss it eventually."

"Dorian," Klaus asserted harshly, "not now."

"Can’t I at least have a cup of coffee?"

"If you must."

"Are you always this gracious to your overnight guests?"

Klaus made his eyes hard as flint. "No."

"No, what?"

"No, I do not have overnight ‘guests.’"

"I see," Dorian murmured thoughtfully as he retrieved a mug of coffee. "Then why..."

Gerald came in groaning. "My head."

Klaus echoed the groan. "I’m not surprised after the way you acted last night."

"Not used to champagne at all, am I?" Finally noticing Dorian’s presence, he asked, "What are you doing here?" Then, taking in the same outfit as the night before, he remarked, "Well, now I know how you know the Major."

During this exchange, Klaus chose to leave the room and went to place his call to headquarters, but he still heard what was said.

"It isn’t what you think. Klaus and I were only-- I just stayed over because I had too much to drink. It is a long drive back, you know."

Gerald turned from helping himself to a cup of coffee to face him. "Uh-huh."

They were sitting in silence, sipping at the strong coffee, when Klaus returned. "Go and pack. " His statement was directed at the boy. "We will be leaving for Bonn within the hour."

"Bonn? Nobody said anything about leaving the country. I’m not sure I want to go."

"We will have your payment ready for you when you get there."

He was still hesitating as Dorian added, "But dear, they might be searching for you. You really should go."

"You’d like that, wouldn’t you? You’re just trying to get rid of me."

"That’s not at all true. You need the money and you will be safer with Klaus."

"It’s Klaus now, is it? If I--"

"Enough! Go and pack." Gerald took one look at the Major’s unrelenting expression and sulkily went to do as he was ordered.

"Wonderful," sighed Dorian.

"You too. Get out."

"If I didn’t know you better, I would think that you were attempting to be rude just to get rid of me."

"I don’t have time for this."

"Then when?"

"I don’t know."

"Very well. I said that I would give you the space and I will keep my word." He picked up his cream silk scarf and ran it through his fingers. "I am sorry--about Gerald, I mean. I hope he doesn’t give you too much trouble." He headed for the door with Klaus as an escort. "If you want, I could go along..."

"Not a chance."

"I could just follow you."

"And I am sure that you will, if you want this to end here and now."

"So that’s the way you’re playing it, is it? No, I don’t want to end it."

"Fine."

"Good-bye, Klaus."

"Dorian."

At first it was hard for him to assimilate everything he was feeling, but Klaus finally realized that now he had a hold over the unscrupulous thief. It was a tenuous one at best, but it was a lever to use to keep him distant, and possibly even obedient.

If only that was what he wanted Dorian to do--stay as far away as possible. The reality was, he’d prefer to have Dorian as close as they could possibly get.

***

Bonn was hot. Well, it was as hot as it ever got. Mostly it was dry and dusty. And now it was very crowded with people from all over the world hoping to take advantage of the changing political climate to buy or sell whatever it was that they needed to unload or acquire. It was a golden opportunity for everyone to make money.

The street venders, the shopkeepers,and the restaurateurs were making a profit, noted the NATO Major as he walked through the Paulusplatz. The streets here were much cleaner than the London ones, and he remembered just in time not to fling his cigarette butt into the recently swept roadway.

Ten days had passed since he’d discovered the alleged threat to the World Trade Conference. He wasn’t much closer now than he had been then to finding out who was being targeted for assassination. And he was having a hard time penetrating the assassin’s alias. That name--Herbert Sasshofer--he just couldn’t place it, even after countless hours spent searching NATO’s extensive databases. The computer had come up with a huge list of possibilities, and Klaus also had his own mental list, but neither of them were any real help.

At least his subordinates had come up with confirmation that the KGB had indeed hired a shooter. Why they weren’t using one of their own, Klaus couldn’t fathom; they were normally so proud of their assassins. Could it be they hoped to avoid any connection with the murder? Most likely they had no idea that NATO, and consequently the BfV, West Germany’s counterintelligence agency, had obtained evidence of that fact.

Thinking about how he’d acquired that evidence caused Klaus to recall the irritating young man who was, at this moment, occupying the back bedroom of his Bonn apartment. Thank God he didn’t have to spend much time in Gerald’s company. His agents took turns guarding him and their commander managed to find plenty to keep himself occupied until late into the night. Unfortunately, there was nowhere else to house him; the hotels were all filled with conference attendees, reporters, and all their personnel. NATO didn’t feel there was sufficient threat to the young man to warrant the use of a clean safehouse. In consequence, Klaus was stuck with him.

At first, Gerald afforded him the silent treatment, which suited Klaus just fine. But soon, he realized that was not a tactic to take with the impenetrable NATO Major, so he’d resorted instead to badgering Klaus about his relationship with the Earl. Through it all, Klaus maintained steadfastly that there was no relationship and the rest of the time he just ignored the boy.

No relationship. That was certainly true, but only because he refused to allow himself to contemplate such a monumental step. His whole life--his whole world--would change overnight. It wasn’t only admitting he had a male lover; it was the one he’d chosen. Dangerous, irresponsible, and totally unacceptable, that was what Dorian was and what he would always be. Klaus was too practical to expect or even hope Dorian could be changed.

The Major walked faster, impelled by the knowledge he only had three days left until the end of the conference. Due to his advance information, he’d been put in charge of conference security. Actually, coordinating the security would be a more accurate term. He had to deal with the local police, their tactical assault squad, agents from the BfV, and agents from the local branch of the West German Federal Intelligence Service along with his own team. It galled him to have to spend most of his time in an office dealing with the political aspects of the job. He was no diplomat and he knew it. His chief was probably heartily amused by the position in which Klaus found himself.

Reaching the temporary office he had been allocated, Klaus checked in with his also temporary secretary about the calls received in his absence. The capable older women informed him that there had been a call from Agent A, who was in charge of making sure the delegates had the proper security. It had been flagged as not urgent. The next call had been from Z who was baby-sitting Gerald, and two calls from Gerald himself.

The Major decided to deal with A’s problem first. It seemed that while on duty covering the concert hall last night, G had spotted Eroica in the audience.

Ach, Scheiss, Klaus swore to himself; just what he needed. His threat hadn’t done much good after all. Apparently, G had followed Eroica back to the Hotel Königshof, but he hadn’t tried to approach him. Leave it to Dorian to manage a room at one of the best hotels in Bonn even when they have all been booked solid for months. It was G’s considered opinion that Eroica had known he was being followed. Knowing G, Klaus was sure that Dorian couldn’t have failed to notice the cute blond agent with whom he was so familiar.

He proceeded to read the reports from agents stationed at the airports without much interest. He believed that, with a German name, requesting Deutschmarks as payment, the shooter was not likely to be entering the county from very far away. In fact his theory was that the man was a resident and someone who knew the territory very well. The railway station logs the Major studied with slightly more care. It would be a fortunate accident if one of the agents on duty there spotted a known assassin entering the country.

Klaus had a feeling the man they were looking for was a sleeper, or someone who was extremely careful; someone who didn’t accept every job that came his way, and who didn’t kill for the enjoyment of killing. It seemed to the NATO agent that this person, whoever he was, only emerged when he needed the money.

Klaus buzzed his efficient secretary to request a search be done looking for information on contract-type killings that were committed here in Germany and remained unsolved.

Finally, unable to put it off any longer, Klaus phoned his apartment and was relieved when it was Z who picked up the phone.

"Report."

"The young man here has remembered something else. It might be of some value."

"Go on."

"Well, it seems that he’s recalled another name; Heinz. And the last started with an S, something like Spegal."

"And it was in reference to?"

"He overheard a phone call. The name was the only thing he recognized; the rest of the conversation was in German."

"Good. Z, Eroica is in town. He might come by, trying to see the boy. I just thought I’d warn you."

"Thank you, Sir. Speaking of the boy, he wants to talk to you."

"Well don’t put him on. I’ll deal with him later."

"Very good, Sir."

He hung up the phone without preamble.

Heinz, and something like Spegal? He added that name to the secretary’s list of searches that were to be made.

Klaus wondered if he should seek out Dorian. He wanted to find out what the Englishman was up to, but he dismissed the idea immediately. He would have to deal with that situation soon enough; and if he saw Dorian without the distraction of the job, he was afraid, as to where such a meeting might lead. Let him come to me, the Major decided. He would try to be ready for the ambush of longing that came along with Dorian’s presence. But how was he going deal with the ungovernable fervor he felt at the very sight of him?

***

The Major’s excuse for avoiding Gerald tonight was that he had to show up at some of the functions the German and foreign dignitaries were attending. His men were safeguarding them and he needed to check up on their preparations; besides he could always think better on his feet than at a desk.

Dressed in his best evening suit, Klaus observed his men at work before making his presence known to them. At the official reception, A spotted him, but not soon enough for Klaus’ exacting standards. Most of the agents from the BfV and the BnD did not; he was definitely going to have a talk with their commanding officers first thing in the morning.

At his last stop, the Beethovenhalle, G noticed him almost immediately. Klaus was impressed with the petit agent’s unerring skill at noticing faces. G’s detail was once more the concert hall, and it was filled to overflowing with more VIPs than music lovers. At intermission all operatives, uniformed and plainclothes, positioned themselves where they would appear the most useful. Klaus leaned against the wall of the hallway near the exit to some of the boxes, generally keeping an eye on things. It was there that Dorian found him.

"Why Major, fancy running into you here. Are you enjoying the concert?"

"You know very well that I’m working." He crossed his arms across his chest and steadfastly maintained his position against the wall.

"Of course. I should have known, but you are looking too incredibly handsome for work."

Klaus ignored the rush of heat caused by the compliment. Dorian says those things to everyone.

"I don’t suppose you might have a moment of time for us to have a little chat?" And when he didn’t reply, Dorian continued, "We can go into my box, it’s just across the hall."

"What are you doing here?"

"Are you sure you want to talk about this now?" Dorian glanced meaningfully around at the crowded halls.

"All right," he agreed brusquely. Dorian looked much too good in his well-cut black tux, in addition to the shining hair cascading down his back. As he followed him into his box Klaus was horrified to discover he was afraid to trust himself alone with the obstinate Earl.

"Well?" Klaus snapped. Turning to face him, Klaus prepared to shut him out as well as he could but Dorian was behaving himself.

He had settled into one of the plush red seats and answered him gracefully. "I’m here on a shopping trip. Don’t frown at me so, I really am. Didn’t you know that the Germans make the best steel? I am ordering a new set of throwing knives."

"And?"

"And, I am getting rather low on a number of excellent German wines. The cellar needs constant attention, you realize."

"And?"

"And I am having a hard time staying away from you."

"I thought I told you to stay away."

"Did you? I don’t recall your asking." Dorian shook his head in mock puzzlement, causing his long hair to float around him.

"I don’t want you seeing Gerald, and I don’t want you interfering."

"Have I done anything? I would like to know how Gerald is faring, but I assure you my interest lies purely with you."

Klaus assumed a pose of idle indifference, his arms once more folded across his chest.

Dorian just lowered his eyes--waiting.

Klaus’ breath caught in his throat. What a picture Dorian made with his impossibly long lashes resting on his sharp cheekbones. The Earl was not as unconcerned as he tried to appear; he was gripping the arms of his seat, his knuckles white. All Klaus had to do was reach out... "Dorian."

The blond looked up, hope coloring his eyes. Klaus was unable to say anything else, either to encourage him or to stop him. The next thing he knew, Dorian was in his arms, pressing him into the dark corner of the box behind the red velvet drapes. And he didn’t care, he was too far gone. Dorian was kissing him with an unmistakable urgency that took his breath away.

When Dorian finally pulled back to stare into his eyes, regarding him with expectation, Klaus held on, unable to let him pull away any farther.

"I just wanted to make sure that you haven’t forgotten," Dorian whispered a little breathlessly.

"I can’t forget." The words were out before he could stop them.

"But you want to."

"Yes. No. I told you I can not deal with this now."

"After the conference is over?"

"Maybe." Dorian attempted to pull away. So Klaus added, pulling him closer, "All right. Yes. But stay out of my way until then. I have a job to do."

"Agreed. I have rented this box for the rest of the week, if you--"

"I know where you’re staying."

Dorian smiled, warming him. "I’m glad."

"I have to get going, G will miss me."

Dorian released his hold, and Klaus reluctantly let him go. "I’m sure he will," he intoned pointedly.

Klaus gave him one last speaking look as he left. How was he going to be able to carry on for the rest of the night without recalling the desperate passion for Dorian that he endured? Three days. Three more days.

He left the building to attend a cocktail party thrown by the delegate from Austria. There, at least, they always served the best food and drink a man could ask for.

***

The next morning started out badly. Gerald accosted Klaus before breakfast, before his first cup of coffee, and demanded to know why he was being kept from seeing the Earl. Apparently Eroica’s ringing him to find out how he was had caused the boy to get all worked up. Then he accused Klaus of being jealous and deliberately keeping them apart.

Jealous. He could be, if he thought he had something to worry about, and it just might serve to keep him away from Dorian. There was nothing he wanted more than to keep away from Dorian, and there was nothing he wanted more than to drag him into the nearest bedroom and for them to stay there forever.

Soon afterward, the meeting he called with the commanders of the other organizations went just as badly as he’d expected. Too many people to cover and not enough manpower to do the job were what they pleaded as an excuse for careless work. The Major once again stressed the importance of staying alert. Major von Eberbach added that they were all good men; it was just the tension getting to them, and they needed a reminder to keep on their toes.

At least the reports concerning the night before contained no bad news. Everything had been quiet except for the usual "diplomatic" incidents: sneaking women into bedrooms or directing them to someone else’s, accusations of stolen secrets, an aide quietly gone missing only to turn up a few hours later still drunk. The usual.

The thing that claimed Klaus’ interest was what the computer turned up on the name Heinz Spegal, subsequently: Heinz Spiegelberg alias Hans Shultz. And now apparently he was using Herbert Sasshofer. Klaus loosened his tie, opened his top shirt button, and leaned back in his chair. With a cup of black coffee in hand, he settled back to read the attached biography.

The description was sketchy at best. He was about one and three-quarters meters tall, average, dark blond hair, blue eyes, fair skin, age, about forty--forty-five, no distinguishing marks. An artist’s drawing was included. He appeared to be an average German, only his eyes looked a little bit too small for his face.

It had been three years ago, when he had last been seen driving away from the scene of a shooting, which had resulted in the Minister of Commerce’s death. An M16 assault rifle, American, with a scope, had been found abandoned in one of the building’s closets. It had proved to be the weapon used for the murder. There were no fingerprints recovered.

He wore gloves then?

Under the various aliases, Spegal had been suspected only a small number of times, four to be exact. The author of the report suggested that he was a German native, living in East Germany under the protection of the Russians.

That portion rang true. At least it did up to a point. To fit in with Klaus’ own theory, he needed to still be a resident here, on this side of the wall. Klaus put down the reports to light a cigarette. As he smoked, he mulled over what he’d learned. Who was the man after this time? Someone who threatened the Russian interests? The computer turned up too many possible targets. It would be impossible to cover them all. It was a security nightmare. He needed something else.

After leaving the description and the drawing to be copied and distributed to all organizations concerned, Klaus went to do a quick check on the conference halls to reassure himself all was well.

***

That night as the Major made his rounds, he found his mind wandering. It was difficult to avoid thinking about seeing Dorian again.

At the concert hall, after checking in with G to see that everything was quiet, Klaus found himself resting against the same wall of the same hall he’d occupied the night before. Oh God, he thought to himself, has it come to this already? It was much too easy to just stand there and pretend he wasn’t waiting for Dorian to come to him. Not that Dorian wouldn’t see through the pose. Nervous as a teenager, he lit another cigarette.

At intermission the boxes let out and the hallway slowly cleared. Ten minutes later, Klaus was still waiting. Finally he braved the British Earl’s box, angry at being the one forced to seek out the other man. There was no one there. Disappointed and annoyed, Klaus smoked as he searched the rest of the hall for Dorian’s frivolous blond head. Maybe he decided not to attend this evening. But why would he have done that? Doubts that Klaus was unused to feeling nagged at him. What if...? He slammed down hard on that thought.

Sitting down to calm himself, Klaus couldn’t help but notice that the Earl’s box gave him a bird’s-eye view of the theater. He decided to stay here for a while. Somewhere in the back of his mind, the idea that Dorian might still show up refused to go away.

Noticing the program left there for the Earl, he picked it up and idly glanced through it. Tonight’s selection included a group of Schubert’s romantic pieces that Klaus had always been partial to, An Die Musik in particular. Now, as it was performed, the mellifluous sound of the music reminded him of Dorian. Everything reminded him of Dorian. This was getting him nowhere. He’d wasted enough time here already. Putting the program into his pocket, he went to finish his round of appointments.

Thank goodness the rest of the night passed without incident. Klaus wasn’t sure if he would react with his customary efficiency, knowing his mind to be centered wholly on what might have happened to Dorian. He had managed to stop himself just short of assigning an agent to go and find him; the Major was incredibly short of manpower as it was.

***

It was already well into the morning of the next day when Klaus’ secretary buzzed him to inform him that a Lord Gloria was on the phone and most insistent he speak with the Major. Klaus managed to thank her and to say that he would handle it, all in his normal voice. He attempted to summon his usual irritation but all he felt was relief; Dorian was all right.

"Von Eberbach."

"I’m sorry that I missed you last night."

"Are you?"

"Very much so. Did you miss me?"

"What do you want?"

"I found out something I thought I should pass along to you." Klaus kept silent; his silences were easy for Dorian to ignore. "I overheard one of the American delegates talking to one of the Germans about increasing the percentage of ‘hardware’ that was being imported for military use. I figured that meant either weapons or computers, so I decided to see if I could find out some more about it."

"You shouldn’t be doing this. Why didn’t you let me know?"

"I really didn’t have anything at all, did I? Well, I decided to follow the American around and see what I could find out. I must say, he was extremely adept at avoiding all my questions."

"He didn’t try to get rid of you?"

"Actually, I think he rather fancied me and was hoping that something might ‘develop.’"

"I don’t want you getting involved in any of this."

"I already am. Why, don’t you trust me?"

"Dorian..."

"Don’t you want to hear the rest of it?"

"Get on with it."

"He was carrying a gun."

"That’s because he is probably CIA." Here to make a private deal. "What’s his name, I’ll have him checked out."

"Ronald Carman."

Klaus wrote it down. "And the German?"

"Herr Bresser. I didn’t hear the first name. One more thing: the American will be a guest of his at the symphony this evening." And after a pause, he added, "Will I see you there tonight?"

"Yes."

"I love it when you’re enthusiastic. Ta, ta. Until tonight, my darling." And he hung up, saving Klaus the trouble of forming a reply.

The first thing the Major did was to add the names to his secretary’s list. Then he got his men on it immediately. He wanted to know everything about those two men down to what kind of underwear they wore.

Most of the American-supplied weapons were normally funneled in through NATO. Why weren’t these? Funding some private army? Against the Russians? East Germans? It just didn’t add up. But as possible targets ,the two of them had just moved to the top of his list.

Klaus picked up the folder on Herbert Sasshofer, and reread the information he had on his background. Age forty, forty-five. That was young enough not to have been directly involved in the war, but what about his father? Klaus searched for the required data. Herman Sasshofer, probably not his real name, was a registered Polish Nazi. He had been executed in Poland before the Russians took over control.

It was possible that the arms were for the Polish underground. Which would be why they weren’t being funneled in though NATO. They couldn’t be seen taking such an obvious position as that would indicate. Now all the Major needed was confirmation Herr Bresser was acting as a liaison for the Polish underground.

And that the American was working for the CIA. It was only courteous behavior for "the agency" to inform NATO of all agents working in the same area, and NATO reciprocated so as not to interfere with each other. After all, they were on the same side. But Klaus knew he’d only been notified about one CIA operative, working on an entirely different matter. He couldn’t wait to find out if he had a good reason to give the other agent a hard time.

***

Tonight all the agents he’d met with seemed edgy. One arrest had already been made. Klaus was sure the man wasn’t the assassin they were after, but it was just as well they were able to keep him locked away for the next few days. The night was humid and close; he could feel the tension in the air. Something was going to happen. There were only two days left in the conference. Only two days left for the shooter to complete his contract.

Klaus’ assignation with Dorian was postponed until after the interview with the suspect. Even so, it wasn’t much after the interval that Klaus found himself sneaking into the Earl of Gloria’s box.

Dorian stood up right away, but looked nervous, seemingly uncertain of his welcome. As Klaus advanced, his arms reached out to encircle Dorian's waist. And without warning, Dorian pulled him into the shadows at the back of the box.

"You are the most--" Klaus started, his arms now tightly wrapped around Dorian’s slender waist.

Apparently realizing what he’d been about to say was not complimentary, Dorian interrupted. "Yes darling, I know very well what I am." He dropped his voice even lower, "And what I want to be."

The statement unbalanced Klaus enough for him to question with a growl, "And what might that be?"

"I want to be yours."

Unable to answer him with words, Klaus drew him closer, tighter, crushing them together. And now Dorian was kissing him insistently, and Klaus kissed back, giving him what he’d requested. Responding to Dorian had become a habit and it was unbelievable to Klaus that he’d become accustomed to it already. It was also at this time that Klaus noticed he was able to think more clearly when he knew where Dorian was and what he might be up to. Klaus’ attention had been diverted only when he had to worry about Dorian. It wasn’t the distraction of his presence which caused his thoughts to continually return to Dorian instead of the job at hand; it was...well, it was because he missed him.

Klaus pulled his head away to ask, "What the hell am I going to do with you?" He hands played with the honey-colored hair in the middle of Dorian’s back.

"Being as clever as you are, I’m sure you will think of something." Dorian stroked his face as he added wistfully, "Two more days."

Klaus turned his head to kiss the palm of the caressing hand. "Mum. You had better let me know what you are up to from now on."

"Yes?"

"Otherwise, I might just do something foolish. You don’t want that to happen, now do you?"

"I don’t want anything unfortunate to happen to you."

"I just want to know where you are."

"You did miss me!"

Klaus gave in--if it would save his peace of mind… "I missed you."

"I love you. You do know that, don’t you?" His tone was matter-of-fact.

Klaus just tightened his hold on him; it was too soon for him to even think about such things. And, he had to leave. He put a finger on Dorian’s lips to preventing him from insisting on an answer. "Behave yourself," he ordered. And then he left.

From the other side of the theater the Major could just barely see a bit of the golden hair in the box he had just left, but he knew Dorian was there.

Klaus was attempting to keep an eye on the two men Dorian had alerted him about. He was also waiting for an opportunity to have a quiet little talk with the CIA agent who was going by the name of Ronald Carman. Klaus now had possession of his real name, Dick Steward, and it had taken Klaus a hell of a lot of digging and a few favors called in to accomplish his self-imposed task to acquire that fact. Even now, he had been unable to get the entire story out of his contact, but it was more than enough information for the NATO Major to speculate on the rest.

Luck was with him: the CIA agent left the box and headed straight for him.

"Leaving so soon?" Klaus asked in English as the man tried to pass him by.

"I beg your pardon?"

"Aren’t you enjoying the performance?"

"Do I know you?"

"No, but you should. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach."

"Major?"

"I would like to have a word with you." He made as if to take his elbow and to steer him into a storage closet.

"I’d rather not."

"I’m sure that you wouldn’t want to disappoint NATO, now would you? After all, we are on the same side, aren’t we? I’ll just need a minute."

"Do you have an ID?"

Keeping up the act, Klaus answered, "Of course, how thoughtless of me." Klaus then presented his identification. The brown-haired man would be at a disadvantage when he glanced down at it. Klaus could see it made him nervous.

"All right," he agreed as he handed it back. "But just a minute."

Klaus prevented himself from showing a triumphant smile. The man was young, and good-looking in a clean-cut sort of way. Not Dorian’s type at all.

After ushering him in ahead of himself, Klaus shut the door. Turning his back on the agent, Klaus deliberately let the other agent know he was not afraid of him. Then he turned back slowly and was the first to speak. "I am in charge of security for this conference. There is a contract killer out there after one of the delegates."

"What has this got to do with me?"

"Well, Dick, I have reason to believe that your ‘contact’ is a possible target. If your deal doesn’t go through, it will be to the shooter’s and his employer’s advantage."

"Who do you think I am? Whoever it is, you have the wrong man."

This time, Klaus did smile. "If that is so, then I will have to inform the American Embassy that a man impersonating a CIA agent named Dick Steward is running around making arms deals in their name."

"I’m leaving."

"That’s fine, I’m finished. Just remember that NATO doesn’t appreciate being kept in the dark about agents operating in their territory. My home territory. You will let them know that, won’t you?"

The man brushed past him on his way out because the Major refused to move out of the way. Klaus paused to enjoy the moment awhile longer. That was the most fun he’d had in ages.

The rest of the evening passed in relative quiet. Once again the assassin didn’t show.

***

The next day’s reports confirmed Klaus’ guesses. Now all they had to do was figure out where, and when, Herbert Sasshofer was likely to strike. There were only two days left for him to fulfill his contract. The Major already had a schedule of Herr Peter Bresser’s planned activities for the day. He was to be covered every step of the way. It appeared Bresser was also planning on attending the concerts for the next two nights.

Klaus called a briefing to update all parties involved. Now everyone would know what he knew, including the fact that there was a CIA agent working their area without the usual "cooperation." That ought to keep Dick on his toes.

Afterwards, the Major held back his own agents to inform them that Eroica was also involved and to keep an eye on him. That was the best Klaus could do. It was never easy to keep Dorian out of trouble if he went looking for it. Klaus knew he was just going to have to learn to live with the reality of the situation.

All day the NATO Major was kept busy receiving hourly reports. The continuing checks on the other possible targets kept him occupied for the rest of the afternoon and well into the night.

***

Darkness once again found him on watch at the Beethovenhalle. Only this time his position was outside of Herr Bresser’s box instead of Dorian’s.

Intermission was almost over and most people were heading back to their seats when G radioed him. The agent informed his superior that he had seen a man answering the description of their suspect entering the theater and heading up the stairs to the boxes. G had lost him in a crowd of milling identically dressed delegates as they returned to their seats.

Klaus directed him to pass along the information to all the other agents on duty. Pocketing the radio, he entered the box whose door he’d been guarding. The gentlemen seated there turned, questioning his entrance. Klaus paused to explain, all the while searching the rows of boxes opposite. "I’m with security. Don’t be alarmed. I just need to get a better view of the theater. Please stay seated." As the men settled back, Klaus noted that the American agent had opened his jacket, giving himself ready access to his weapon. Klaus’ gun was already loose in its holster.

After some time passed uneventfully, the other occupants of the box began to relax. As the concert resumed, Klaus noted, with annoyance, that Dorian’s box was empty. Where could he have gotten to? He had been there earlier when Klaus had checked. Three boxes down from the Earl’s, in one that previously had been deserted, he caught a glimpse of movement. The Major called his men, requesting they check the boxes on the north side of the theater. This time, before he’d even finished the call, Klaus saw a flash coming from the same box as something caught the light.

Klaus’ gun was out. "Down," he shouted. Dick pushed Herr Bresser to the floor and lay covering him, his gun also drawn. Klaus was taking careful aim at the figure of the gunman, now visible as a shooter, who in turn sighted the box the Major now stood in. Before the NATO agent could get off a shot he spotted a golden-blond head coming up behind Sasshofer. Nein. Gott, Dorian, nein! Preventing himself from shouting his thoughts aloud, Klaus watched Dorian throw himself at the hired killer knocking the rifle aside even as it went off.

The bullet whipped by Klaus’ ear and buried itself harmlessly in the back wall of the box. Not having a clear shot, Klaus was forced to observe Sasshofer butt Dorian with the gun, causing him to double over. Then he used it to hit the blond man over the head. Dorian dropped like a stone and didn’t return to Klaus’ view again. What Klaus felt now was worse than being shot. Reacting instinctively to the attack, even as the pain clutching at his heart tightened, he retaliated by firing off a shot in Sasshofer’s direction and continued until the clip was empty. But even as he did it, Klaus knew his automatic wasn’t powerful enough to reach his target with any force. Anyway, the bird had flown. Klaus was out of the box, trusting the CIA agent to stay and protect his own contact. He ran as he reloaded, heading around the back of the building towards the service stairs.

Swearing to himself all the while, Klaus slowed, carefully rounding the corners only after checking first. He pulled out his RT and snapped, "G, what’s your position?"

"Major. We are on the north side heading for the back stairs."

"I am approaching from the south. Same position. G, Dorian’s down. Get him some help."

"Already on its way."

"Thank you. See anything?"

"He’s been here, we have another man down--the officer who was guarding the staircase. He’s been shot, close range."

"All right, I’m going down. Get someone at the bottom of that staircase. Von Eberbach out."

Now that he knew the man was still armed, and that he didn’t have to worry about one of his own agents getting in his way, Klaus moved quickly and quietly down the flight of stairs. At the second landing, that led to the balcony seats, Klaus paused. If Sasshofer had continued on down to the next floor, he would have been informed. And, most likely, the gunman would already have been caught.

Klaus opened the door and peered around, first left, then right. Everything was quiet. If Sasshofer managed to get back to the audience side and hide there, Klaus was going to have a hard time finding him. But the assassin couldn’t get out of the building, not with his agents covering the exits. His only chance would be to fight his way out past them. It appeared that was exactly what the gunman intended to do. Klaus was now his first obstacle.

The Major moved to the end of the corridor and carefully peered around the corner. Again nothing. Moving on to the next bend, Klaus once more took a quick glance. There was no sign of him. He turned right and circled back around checking any doors he came across as he went. All of them were locked. Klaus was almost back to where he started when he noticed a man with hair a shade darker than blond, wearing a tux, leaning against the wall with his back towards him. Sasshofer. It had to be. He was lying in wait for the agent to come out of the stairwell. Klaus must have gotten past Sasshofer when he went to check the main staircase.

Now Klaus had the advantage; he was the one behind the gunman. Klaus aimed for the center of the back, and in his most deadly voice he ordered, "Drop it!"

The man raised his hands slowly, the gun still clutched in his right hand.

"I said drop it, Sasshofer! Now."

As he let the gun fall from his hand Klaus’ trained eyes didn’t follow it down.

"Kick it over here."

The tawny-blond-haired man obeyed.

"Now turn around."

As he started his turn, Klaus registered a hand descending and as Sasshofer finished the move his hand contained another gun. Klaus instinctively dropped to one knee as he fired a split second before the other man. Sasshofer’s bullet went wide as he was propelled backwards and went down.

Klaus stood up and kicked the other man’s gun out of his reach. "I guess I forgot to tell you to turn around slowly."

"Major?" G inquired from his radio.

"Everything’s under control. I’m on the second floor. Get a medic and get down here."

"Yes, Sir."

Klaus took off his white silk scarf; folding it, he used it as a pad pressing it against the wound in the assassin’s chest. Once G arrived on the scene he would be free to go and inquire about Dorian. That stubborn fool, what if he’d-- Thinking about Dorian made it easier to ignore the man bleeding to death on the floor.

"Major..." G arrived and pulled him aside.

"Yes? What is it?" Klaus was impatient to talk to the medics.

"Eroica’s been removed to Johannes. I’m sorry Sir, but he hasn’t regained consciousness."

"I see." What was it that G thought he knew? He was the most observant of Klaus’ agents, and all of them had been here every night. "Any problems?" Klaus asked as a distraction.

"No, Sir. The officer who was shot was only wounded. A is on his way to take charge. I thought you might--"

"Don’t think. I will finish what I started." The hospital Dorian had been taken to was just 300 meters away. Klaus could walk to it in under ten minutes.

One of the medics turned from working on the gunman; he signaled G and they moved off a bit. "He won’t make it to the hospital."

Klaus bent over the fallen man. "Sasshofer, do you want to tell us anything?"

"He killed my father."

"Who? Bresser?"

"Yes. He was a traitor."

"Were you working for the KGB?"

"I..." He was having a hard time breathing.

"Yes?" prompted Klaus.

"Major K..."

"That’s enough," said the medic firmly. Klaus moved down the hall to confer with G.

"Was he talking to you?" G asked.

"No. I don’t think so. He has no idea who I am. It might be the name of the Russian officer; his contact in the KGB."

A showed up then, and the competent agent took charge. All of sudden the Major found all his duties had been assumed by one or another of his agents. There wasn’t anything left for him to do. With determination his thoughts returned to Dorian.

Once again, the Major pulled G aside. "If anyone is looking for me I will be at the hospital."

"Yes, Sir," was all he replied, but Klaus imagined that he gave him a knowing look as he walked away.

Dorian had sustained a concussion and two cracked ribs. He was alive and he would live. Klaus was allowed a brief look in on him only because the doctor was employed by NATO. The Major managed to convince him that Dorian was his responsibility, and that he was concerned.

Klaus stayed around for as long as he could, hoping Dorian would wake up and would be able to talk. But what he was going to say, Klaus hadn’t the slightest idea.

The Major decided to leave sometime after half of Eroica’s staff showed up and repeatedly questioned him about what had happened to the Earl. It appeared they held him totally responsible for the Englishman’s safety. That was ridiculous. Dorian did what Dorian wanted to do. He’d never had any control over what the defiant blond decided to do. And now it seemed that Klaus had even less influence than before; Dorian apparently still thought he could do whatever the hell he wanted and come out of it unscathed.

***

Returning the next morning, Klaus contrived to be admitted before visiting hours. Dorian was awake.

Klaus moved nervously about the small room desperately wishing for a cigarette, but he knew he didn’t dare light up in here.

"Klaus? Don’t pace, you’re making me dizzy. Come sit here." Dorian indicated the chair at the bedside.

Klaus sat. He didn’t know what to do with his hands so he crossed his arms. "You are going to be all right."

Dorian smiled gently up at him. "Of course I am."

"You are impossible."

"And you love it."

"Yes...I suppose I do. What made you do it? That was a very foolish thing to attempt."

"I saw a man returning to that box. He was wearing a pair of white gloves, no one else was. It was unusual, so I followed him." Dorian paused to swallow. "He was aiming at the box across the way, and when I saw you, I just couldn’t stop myself." Klaus took his hand as he faltered. "I thought he was going to kill you." Dorian’s voice was heavy with emotion.

Klaus pushed the hair off his face with the free hand and paused to rub a thumb along the blond’s temple. "That’s a nasty lump."

"I’m sorry I won’t be able to keep our date."

"What?"

"After the conference," he reminded him.

"Ah. I am not going to let you out of it that easily."

Dorian laughed. "Oh, that hurts." After he was able to catch his breath, he added, "The doctor said it might be as long as a month before these are healed." He was holding his ribs.

"If you think that hurts, wait until NATO gets ahold of you."

"For what?"

"To make sure you are good enough for me."

Dorian tried hard to keep from laughing again. "Why?"

"I told them--about us. That is, if you still want there to be an us?"

"I’ll always love you."

"Well then, they have to clear you and make sure that you’re not a security risk."

"Are you asking me to be on my best behavior?"

"You do what you think is best." Klaus stood up and resumed his pacing. "I need a cigarette."

He went to the door and paused, as Dorian asked, "Are you coming back?"

"Always." And he left.

That had been much harder then he had thought it would be, but he still wasn’t sure Dorian knew how serious he was about all of this. Dorian was always much too frivolous about important things for his liking. How was he ever going to be able to trust him?

The cigarette helped somewhat; it calmed him down and helped him to think. Maybe if he did something to prove to Dorian he meant what he said?

Klaus left the hospital for a walk in the busy city streets. It was the last day of the conference and he still had a job to do. If they eased up now, who knew what kind of nut might come out of the woodwork? And if the Russians had been notified of their man's failure, they just might have someone ready and waiting in the wings for another try.

***

By the time Klaus returned to the hospital later that evening, it was well after eight and visiting hours had already come to a close. He crept into Dorian’s room. The room was in almost complete darkness; Klaus thought the other man must be asleep. Just as he was leaving his present on the end table, his name was called.

"Klaus? Is that you?"

Somehow it was much easier in the dark to go and take his hand. "Yes."

"You came back."

"I said I would." He sounded indignant at having his word doubted.

"I thought you were only going to have a cigarette? If you disappear every time you need a smoke I’ll... I don’t know what I’d do."

"They have got you on pain killers?"

"Yes. To help me sleep. I don’t want to sleep."

"Everything will be fine." Klaus stroked his soft hair. "I’ll come back in the morning. All right?"

"Hum...that’s nice."

"Do you want me to bring you something?" He noticed that the room was filled with flowers that hadn’t been there this morning.

"Just your gorgeous self," came the sleepy murmur.

Klaus kissed him softly on the lips. "Pleasant dreams," he whispered. Dorian was asleep before he closed the door.

***

Morning was hot and dry and Dorian was uncomfortable under his wrapping of bandages. The morning visiting hour brought Gerald, who had managed to convince G to drive him over to see the Earl.

"Sorry I didn’t come sooner, but I just found out last night what had happened to you." He tossed a resentful glance in G’s direction.

"Well, it’s good to see you now, Gerald. What have you been up to?"

"Not much at all. They wouldn’t let me out of the flat."

A opened the door and after a quick glance around he came in. "The Major isn’t here?"

"No, I haven’t seen him at all this morning," Dorian answered with a slight pout.

A gave a G meaningful look, and G shrugged.

"So you had to go and save his life," Gerald started.

After clearing his throat, A said, "Well, not exactly."

"Whatever do you mean?" G was shaking his head in warning but Dorian wasn’t going to let A off the hook that easily. "Go on."

"He wasn’t aiming at the Major, but the bullet missed him by that much." He held his two fingers about ten centimeters apart.

"Oh, my God…"

"Don’t worry," said G as he gave Dorian a consolatory pat on his arm. "We know that you wouldn’t want to harm a hair on his stubborn head."

"You know? You all know?"

"Well...yes."

"You’re not going to...tease him about it or anything?"

"What! And risk life and limb?" quipped A.

"No, our Major would not like to think we have all been discussing him behind his back. Anyway, I think he knows."

A appeared horrified. "He knows--that we know?"

"I think he figured it out when we arranged, very neatly I might add, for him to have the time to come to the hospital."

"Then he is serious," said Dorian thoughtfully.

"He will never mention it," added G.

"He would rather shoot himself in the foot," threw in A.

"What’s this?" Gerald questioned as he picked up a crumpled folded pamphlet.

"I have no idea. It wasn’t here last night. Let me see." Gerald handed it to the Earl.

It was a copy of the program from two nights before, the concert Dorian had missed. It listed the Schubert selections that had been performed that evening. Inside, written in Klaus’ bold script, were the words, "The music made me think of you, and I wished you’d been there. Klaus."

Whatever it was Dorian had been hoping for, this was so much more than he ever expected. It was the most romantic, beautiful thing Klaus had ever done. As a matter of fact it was the only thing he’d ever done. That made it a great deal more special, and cherishing the words, Dorian held it to his heart.

"What’s the matter?" Gerald asked, even though there was a considerable smile on Dorian’s face.

"Nothing...nothing at all," he answered dreamily.

Outside in the hospital corridor, Major von Eberbach heard voices in Dorian’s room. Not his staff again, he moaned to himself. But then, recognizing the sound of G’s voice, he breathed a sigh of relief. Although he still didn’t want to face Dorian in front of his agents, anything was better than James. On second thought, hearing Gerald’s voice, he decided a smoke and a cup of coffee in the waiting room would be in order.

Gerald, tired of being ignored by the Earl, announced that it was time to leave. G just smiled his farewell to A and to Dorian as he was practically dragged out of the door by the boy.

"You were in such a hurry to get here, and now...you can’t wait to get home."

"‘If by ‘home,’ you mean England, you’re right."

"We’ve got you booked on the next plane out."

"That’s just great-- Oh bloody hell..."

"What is it?" G was instantly alert, his eyes searching for a threat.

"That’s him. The Russian. The man I slept with..."

"Come on." G grabbed his arm and pulled him into the nearest room, and out of sight.

Klaus heard G and the boy leaving Dorian’s room. He’d been planning to wait until after they left before going in, but Gerald’s exclamation got his attention. He started down the hall just as A came out of Dorian’s room toward him. The Russian was now between the two agents.

Klaus drew his gun. A, who had been about to call out to the Major, trusted that his superior had a good reason to do so and pulled his own weapon.

"Stay right where you are," Klaus instructed. Instead of obeying, the Russian agent turned, figuring that Klaus would not shoot him in the back, and was faced with A pointing his Browning at him from the other end of the corridor.

"Just take it easy, Major," Klaus said hazarding a guess. "Easy... Raise your hands." As he spoke, both agents were moving in slowly and cautiously. The man complied, keeping his hands where Klaus could see them. "That’s good. A, get his gun."

A expertly frisked him and removed his gun from the holster. Klaus moved in then and pushed him against the pristine hospital wall. "G?"

"Right here."

"Your cuffs?" G stepped up and cuffed the man von Eberbach held tightly against the wall. When he was secure Klaus turned him around.

"What an unexpected surprise. Major K...?"

The Russian declined to answer. Gerald stuck his head out of the room G had dragged him into. "You!" hissed the Russian. Then he struggled to break out of G and A’s grip.

"You will want to talk to us later. Now that you will be on the bottom of the list to be traded." The Russian made a face. Things fell into place and realization dawned. Klaus added, "Or, if you were acting on your own?" He watched the minute changes in the other agent’s face. "Then… that might move you to the top of the list." To his men, he said, "Take him in."

After moving down the hall a bit, A halted the little group and he returned to the Major.

"I forgot, in all the excitement --I came to give you this." He handed over a computer printout that contained the results of the search Klaus had requested yesterday. "They said that you wanted it right away."

At the same time he watched his agents escorting the Russian out, Klaus unfolded the report. It contained a list of names and descriptions of KGB officers that might be involved in the assassination plot of Bresser. Not quite halfway down was the name of Major Alexis Karloff. Klaus laughed to himself--better late than never.

"Klaus?" Dorian was leaning against the doorframe of his room.

"What the hell are you doing out of bed?" Klaus grabbed him and supported him back into the room.

"What was all the commotion about?"

Gerald rushed past them into the room as Klaus helped Dorian back into bed. Klaus had just about managed to forget all about the boy, until now.

"It was awful. That Russian, you know, was the one I slept with. He tried to kill me."

Dorian turned a questioning look on Klaus.

"It appeared that he was after Gerald, or maybe it was you. We will find out in the interrogation." Gerald’s presence prevented him from comforting Dorian the way he would have liked. "No shots were fired. Everyone’s fine."

"Excuse me, Major." Agent C came in the open door. "A called me and asked me to escort the boy to the airport."

"The airport! I have to go and get my stuff."

To agent C, Klaus said, "If there is time take him by my apartment first."

"Yes, Sir."

"Well, good-bye, Dorian. Please come and see me when you get back." Gerald bent down to give him a kiss on the cheek under the watchful eye of the Major.

"Take care, dear. I’ll ring you."

"Major, it's been fun." He shook his hand. "Let’s not do it again soon." And then they were alone.

The silence stretched unbroken. Even though being alone with Dorian was what Klaus had been hoping for all morning, now that they were, he didn’t know where to begin.

"Thank you for the lovely gift." He turned to find Dorian hugging the program he had left for him to find. "Klaus, sit down."

He did.

"It was very sweet." And when Klaus still didn’t answer, he continued, "Although, next time I have my ribs broken, I would prefer it if you would spend a lot of time picking out something that fits my sparkling personality and--"

"You are..." he sounded angry.

"Yes?" he asked--never one to back away from a challenge.

"Beautiful."

Dorian reached as far as he was able to; he was trying to pull Klaus closer. "Can’t help but worry, you do realize that?"

Klaus accommodated his wish and leaned down. "And I was serious, when I said I need to know where you are. No disappearing for a side trip to another country." They were very close; Klaus could feel Dorian’s breath on his cheek.

"Can you tell me where you are?"

"Not always."

"Then, I suppose, we are both going have to learn to live with it. If you want to?"

"Everyone already knows, so I guess I will have to go through with it." To soften his words, Klaus kissed him lightly.

"Uh-huh. Self-sacrificing aren’t you? I can tell you hate it."

"Maybe if I try it again?"

"Practice never hurts."

Klaus held him tightly, making his ribs ache. "Will it ever stop hurting?" he whispered so softly that Dorian almost missed it.

"I don’t know. It hasn’t yet."

In silence they clung to one another. At least they had the time to find out.

 

Hwar Goh Tsu


1995
Eroica