Suspension

by Jacqueline

Major Klaus Heinz Von dem Eberbach was a highly self-disciplined man. Healthy, he would call it. Exercise and work– and then more exercise and work.

But he was exhausted and recently his discipline was failing. At night he lay awake sleepless. He was too tired to yell at his subordinates. He fell asleep during the Chief’s briefings.

Which is what had led to this humiliating situation. Klaus stared grimly ahead, refusing to look at the psychiatrist to whom he had been ordered for evaluation.

"So. You don’t look anything like a psychiatrist," Klaus stated. "Hmph."

She was very calm. "For a doctorate in psychiatry it is not required to resemble Herr Freud. It makes you uncomfortable that I am a woman, ja?"

Klaus said nothing. His lips tightened. He knocked a cigarette out of the box and toyed with it.

"Very well," the woman said. "We shall be quiet."

The silence began to strain the Major’s nerves. "That’s it?" he demanded, in disgust. "That’s my psychiatric evaluation?"

"When you are ready we will talk," the woman said. "Until then, we will not talk."

"Hmph. My subordinates could learn from you."

"Your subordinates?"

Suspicious, Klaus fell silent again. The silence was longer this time. Finally he said, "This seems an inefficient method of evaluating me. Don’t you have a written exam I could take instead?"

"There is a greater margin of error in written examinations than in office evaluations," the psychiatrist said.

It sounded inarguable. Nevertheless, Klaus found a weakness: "But what have you learned about me from this complete waste of my time?"

The woman regarded him with an absolutely clinical ruthlessness. "I have learned that you are severely repressed," she stated. "That you probably do not have any relationships outside of your work, and that you do not regard anyone as a colleague, but strictly according to rank. You are scornful of authority–"

"Me?" Major Klaus Heinz Von dem Eberbach roared. "Scornful of authority?"

"Except your own, to which you are narcissistically attached," she amended.

The silence in the office was now deafening.

"Anything else?" Klaus inquired politely.

"Hmm, yes," the psychiatrist affirmed. "You dislike women intensely, yet femininity must be strongly attractive to you. It is a natural consequence of repression. You are drawn to the inaccessible woman. A nun perhaps? Or an effeminate man? Hmm, oral fixation."

A muscle jumped in Klaus’s cheek. He rose. His long legs crossed the floor in just a few steps. He slammed the door behind him.

"To hell with orders," he thought, swearing under his breath. If his superiors didn’t like it, let them fire him. They never would, of course. NATO would never let go of "Iron Klaus". He was the only member of the stupid organization who was not absolutely incompetent. If he wasn’t around, the KGB and other stupid organizations would run wild. Hadn’t they manipulated him into giving up his promotion and assignment to a tank corps because no one else could do his work at NATO as well as he?

In his office, the alphabets were cowering in a corner. Nothing unusual there.

Klaus found a document face down on his chair. He glanced at it. He froze, and read it again. A two week suspension. For him. For Iron Klaus.

He was speechless. He stubbed out his cigarette, not realizing that it wasn’t lit. "So," he said. "So," he repeated. But it seemed there was nothing to be said. He locked up his desk. He picked up his coat. He closed the door quietly behind him.

("Oh, the poor Major!" G sobbed. Fortunately, Klaus didn’t hear it.)

There was no place to go but home.

There was nothing to do there. The staff ran the Eberbach castle efficiently and well.

Klaus changed his clothes and went jogging. Idiots. It reminded him of the hellish school reunion he had been ordered to attend by those jokers who – Scornful of authority, he thought incredulously. It made his blood boil. He dropped and did fifty push-ups. Then another twenty. He really shouldn’t let idiots get under his skin like that, he thought.

On the second day of his suspension, Klaus trailed after the butler. "Perhaps you might pay your father a visit," the butler suggested innocently.

Klaus shuddered. For the first time he thought about what the old man would say if he ever got wind of Klaus’s suspension. He’d be flayed alive with scathing criticism, and the usual insults.

"What about that nice young man?"

"What? Who d’you mean?"

"Lord Gloria, sir," the butler smiled. "He seems to have such a good influence."

Looking at the mess on the floor, Klaus thought it was a pity they’d had this stupid conversation near anything breakable. Klaus supposed the old vase had been some sort of art treasure. The Earl would know.

A good influence! That queer?!

Klaus stomped to his room, smashing a few more German Art Treasures along the way.

He picked up the phone. "London!" he barked. A terrified ticket agent booked his flight.

All that night, psychiatrists, idiots, queers and notes of suspension danced through his head. Klaus couldn’t sleep. It was lucky, he thought, that he had an early morning flight. He’d sleep on the plane.

But sleep continued to elude him on the plane. On his arrival in London, he was too tired to even yell at the incompetent idiot at the car rental, who tried to foist a non-German car off on him.

He was too tired to threaten the stingy-bug who answered the door.

And when Lord Gloria appeared – looking startled and concerned, under that outrageous mop of sissy curls – wearing some indecent blouse which somehow failed to look wrong – Klaus was too tired to say anything, much less beat him senseless. Which had been, more or less, the original plan.

The Earl quietly directed his subordinates to arrange a room for Klaus. Klaus hadn’t realized he’d carried his luggage inside, until Bonham disappeared with it. Klaus sank into a chair, trying to recover his breath enough to rant.

"I’m staying in a hotel," he said. Though he’d neglected to book a room. He closed his eyes. That was a mistake.

The last thing he was aware of before he fell asleep, was Dorian’s gaze.

Klaus woke much later, bundled a bit too heavily in blankets. He looked around. He was in a different room. Someone had put him to bed. In sudden panic, he threw back the covers. But he was fully dressed. Except for his shoes, but he could hardly object to Dorian removing his shoes before putting him to bed. Had he done otherwise, he would have been an idiot.

Klaus rose. He’d slept soundly for the first time in a very long time. He showered and changed his clothes, though it was night. He emerged from the bathroom feeling fairly refreshed.

He looked around the room Dorian had given him. There was no hint of feminine frippery. It was comforting and yet – was he really in such a pitiable state that Dorian didn’t want to tease him? It wasn’t worth thinking about such things, he decided. It would just give him a headache.

Food, he thought. He’d see if there was anything edible in the kitchen – a questionable hypothesis if the stingy-bug did all the shopping.

In fact, the kitchen was decently stocked. Klaus was surprised and not ill-pleased to see that there were no odd, indigestible delicacies or sweets, but only staples. The bread was only one day old.

Klaus expected Dorian to join him, so the thief’s soft tread did not take him unaware.

The blond hair was secured in a braid, and Dorian was dressed warmly in a sweater. But he still looked beautiful, Klaus thought – and was instantly annoyed.

"You seem to have slept," Dorian said, giving Klaus a searching stare.

"Can’t complain."

"Is your ... mission a very exhausting one?" Dorian asked tentatively.

Klaus lost his appetite. He pushed the bread away. "’S not a mission," he said.

Dorian’s brow creased again in concern.

"Stop that," Klaus said.

"Stop what?" the Earl asked.

"Looking at me like that!" There was a short silence. "Thank you for your hospitality," Klaus said formally. "I really should be going now."

Dorian sighed, and rose. "This is unlike you, Klaus."

"Oh?"

"Running away. Not your style at all."

"I’m not–!"

Dorian continued as if Klaus hadn’t spoken. "What I don’t understand," he said, "is what you’re running from?"

"I’m not running away," Klaus said firmly. "I’m leaving. ‘S different. I came here–" he glowered at Dorian, whose eyes went a bit wide, "– to beat you. It seemed like the thing to do. But I can’t, so I’m going."

"Please don’t go," Dorian said.

"Damn you, you never know when to stay away from me!" Klaus yelled. He stood; his chair fell, hitting the floor with a crack that sounded like pistol-fire in the quiet night. Both men jumped.

"I can take care of myself, Major," Dorian said.

He said it like a pet-name, Klaus thought. "Don’t call me Major," he ordered. He promptly felt ridiculous. "No – oh, never mind."

Dorian said nothing.

"D’you think I’m scornful of authority?" Klaus asked suddenly.

Dorian’s face quivered, and he started laughing. After a moment, not quite knowing why, Klaus was also laughing. "What put that idea in your head?" Dorian asked, when he had control of his voice.

"Stupid psychiatric evaluation," Klaus muttered.

Dorian’s expression became reserved.

"Don’t look at me like that!" Klaus snapped. "’M not crazy."

"I didn’t mean to imply – I was just thinking," Dorian said hastily.

"Well, don’t think. Idiot." Giving orders was lifting Klaus’s spirits a bit.

"Certainly not," Dorian said, suspiciously compliant.

"Hmph."

Dorian was the only person Klaus knew who dared to answer him sarcastically. He was the only person who dared a great many things. He didn’t seem to fear Klaus, although considering how often Klaus had hit him, he should have. He didn’t hate him either. Dorian actually seemed to like him. Of course, the perverted asshole also claimed to love him, but – Klaus didn’t want to think about that.

They talked quietly a little bit longer, and then Dorian went upstairs to bed, and Klaus settled in front of the television to watch an old war movie. It was full of idiots, but at least there were tanks, big guns and lots of things exploding.

"She’s wrong about me not having any relationships outside of work, anyway," Klaus thought. "The Earl – whatever he thinks – doesn’t work for NATO." Then he went back to the movie and resolved to stop thinking, because his thoughts led in self-damning directions.

At dawn Klaus went jogging. London was inferior in every way to a German city, he thought, and there were KGB agents everywhere. "’S annoying," he thought, passing a cluster of agents in trench coats and dark glasses.

They stared after him in alarm. At least they knew who he was, he thought – and again his blood boiled at the suspension.

Meanwhile, the KGB agents conferred and reluctantly decided they had to report this new development to HQ. Crowding around a phone booth, they placed a call to Russia. When Misha the Cub picked up, Agent Mellow Yellow told him, "Iron Klaus is here! NATO is on to us!"

"Find out what he knows!" Misha ordered.

The agents exchanged unhappy glances. "He went that way, I think," Agent Collateral Damage said. And off they went, trailing after Iron Klaus.

"At least he can’t be hiding a gun in that jogging outfit," Mellow Yellow said optimistically.

"He’s really cute, isn’t he? For a psychotic German sadist?" Collateral Damage sighed.

"Shh, he’ll hear!" Mellow Yellow hissed.

Klaus turned to stare at them. Not for the first time he wondered if the world’s population was entirely homosexual. Damn KGB idiots.

He jogged to the end of the block, and stopped, and jogged back. The KGB agents panicked. Several tried to whistle and look like tourists, while the others just gawped at Klaus in fright. "CAN’T YOU SEE I’M IGNORING YOU? DON’T FOLLOW ME!" Klaus bawled. "IDIOTS!"

The KGB fled. "Hmph," Klaus muttered.

The night at Dorian’s had not passed badly, but Klaus didn’t trust him. When the hotels opened, he obtained a room.

There had just been too many incidents. The Roman bath – before he could stop the memory, Klaus experienced with perfect recall that moment of terrifying loss of control, when he had been inches from Dorian’s naked body, in the grip of Dorian’s strong, confident hands – and his weakness – he’d had to stand facing the wall until his –

At least he’d beaten the Earl for that. Klaus slammed his fist into the wall, as much to stop the memory of his shame – the Earl was tall, and he was strong, and he could fight, but Klaus was stronger and outweighed him. The damn Englishman never seemed able to fight him. Though the asshole knew how to shame him. He was damn good at that.

To hell with it. To hell with his suspension. Time on his hands was a dangerous thing. He’d have a look and see what the KGB was up to. If his superiors didn’t like that, they could suspend him again.

He needed something to think about besides Dorian Red.

Once Klaus had work to do he felt more like himself. He applied himself to hunting down the KGB agents. It was almost too easy.

Turned out they were after documents which had been concealed in a valuable painting which was in a traveling exhibition, currently in London. Had to do with satellites and such.

Klaus returned to the inferior English castle of Lord Dorian (not as well-made as a German castle). Dorian was awake and dressed in something which made Klaus avert his eyes. It was only a shirt, he knew, but still – did it have to be a Dance-of-the-Seven-Veils type of thing? And his trousers did not have to be so close-fitting. It was disgraceful. The hair, of course, was floating over the Earl’s elegant shoulders, giving his face that irritating boudoir look.

Klaus ignored the ensemble manfully, and demanded, "So. What are your plans concerning this traveling exhibition?"

Dorian gave him a languishing glance. "Why, darling," he purred. "Did you want to go see it? I already visited, but I’d be happy to see it again. Especially with you."

"You already robbed it?" Klaus was surprised. "Nothing is in the papers. Didn’t want to leave a card?"

"Gracious, how stern you look. What makes you think I took anything?" Dorian asked. "I didn’t. Wasn’t anything I wanted."

Klaus was a little embarrassed.

But Dorian was not at all slow on the uptake. "I take it there’s something there which you want. I thought you weren’t here on a mission?"

"’M not," Klaus admitted, hunching his shoulders slightly. "I’m actually suspended." He tried to say it lightly, but it went over like wet cement.

Dorian stilled. He had poise and grace as well as that damnable beauty. There was nothing languid in it now. There was steel in that straight back, and a flash of anger in those blue eyes.

Klaus had seen Dorian like this once before, and the recollection gave him a shock. It had been when Dorian viciously backhanded Misha. Misha had insulted Klaus, giving him the Nazi salute. "He is beneath your notice," Dorian had said to Klaus, in a cold tone. Remembering this, Klaus felt momentarily guilty for the insults which he heaped on Dorian’s head continuously. The pervert had defended his honor.

"Why?" Dorian asked. There was a dignity and strength in Dorian which Klaus couldn’t lie to or refuse to answer. (He was suddenly a bit grateful that Dorian rarely showed this side of himself. Klaus would be defenseless.)

"I was ordered to have a psychiatric evaluation. I walked out of it. No explanation was offered to me." Klaus stated the facts.

Dorian’s lips tightened. There were obviously things he was not saying. "Why the evaluation?" he inquired.

Klaus was embarrassed. "Slept in a briefing," he mumbled.

"What was that?"

"I slept during a briefing. Or two," he said more clearly. Maybe he’d done it more than twice. He wasn’t sure.

"You haven’t been sleeping." It was a statement rather than a question. Klaus gave a resigned shrug in answer. "I see." But it was clear Dorian did not see. He put the problem forthrightly. "Why not simply order you to take time off?"

"How should I know? Maybe it was my insubordination. My disrespect for authority." Klaus tried to grin and failed. "Or my fucking oral fixation," he added, lighting another cigarette.

Dorian laughed. It lightened the tension a little.

"How ... angry have you been lately?" Dorian asked, in a calm tone which he might have used to discuss whether strawberry jam was nicer than orange.

"What d’you mean? I’ve hardly yelled at the alphabets recently. Too tired."

"Have you punched anyone in front of your superiors lately?" The blue eyes weren’t judging him – although Dorian had a right to, Klaus thought guiltily, he’d punched Dorian in front of his superiors on several occasions.

It was a good question, though. Maybe he had. Klaus couldn’t remember. "Could be," he admitted.

"They should have given you a warning, nevertheless," Dorian observed. Again there was a martial light in his eyes. In Klaus’s defense.

"Maybe they did," Klaus said slowly. He hadn’t really been listening to anything his superiors said to him. He had been insubordinate, he realized.

The full awfulness of this sank in. He had dishonored his father’s name. And then the last wall which had been holding him together as he fell apart crumbled.

"Klaus, Klaus," Dorian was saying. Klaus looked up – he found himself kneeling on the floor, his arms hugging his chest. Dorian sank to the floor beside him, and he let himself be held. Tension ran through him, but Dorian’s light hands were warm and comforting. Klaus had never felt anything quite like it; it was not erotic. He felt stupid. He, Iron Klaus, Major and NATO intelligence officer being comforted and held by Eroica, international art thief. He was a grown man, a strong man.

Men who were built like tanks and had personalities to match shouldn’t cry on the floor like little boys. But trying to stifle it just made it much worse.

Dorian was stroking his hair.

"Feel like a little boy," Klaus said. His voice was hoarse.

"’S okay," Dorian said serenely.

Klaus pulled away, embarrassed. "I’m sorry."

"You don’t have to apologize."

"Yes," Klaus said inadequately. "I do. Men don’t–"

"So what should you have done?" Dorian asked. "Hit me? At least you got it out of your system without hurting someone you care about."

Klaus winced. "I heard the KGB describe me as ‘that psychotic German sadist,’" he said, trying to lighten the mood. "At any rate, I can’t be that bad."

Dorian smiled. "Hmm. Well, I wouldn’t describe you as psychotic," he agreed charmingly. "You didn’t mention the KGB before. Is that why you wanted to go to the art exhibition with me?"

Klaus hid a grin at the neat way in which Dorian had set him up. He hadn’t actually asked Dorian to join him. But hadn’t he gone to Dorian knowing full well that if he did he would be getting the dare-devil thief involved?

It was a game they had been playing for quite some time, he admitted. But he always blamed Dorian, and blustered protests all the way through. It was a hard habit to break. "Damnit," he said, as expected, "no one said you could come."

"Oh, you’ll need me, if it’s anything to do with art." Dorian spoke with an assurance which was a bit misleading. It was true that Klaus knew nothing about art. But since Dorian always had his own agenda, he was not exactly a reliable source of information.

"Hmph," Klaus murmured.

Anyway, truth was, Klaus could think of plenty of things Dorian was needed for, besides art. Opening locks, for example, and by-passing security systems. On the other hand, Klaus thought, Dorian was terrible at obeying orders, which was nerve-wracking.

"Gut," Klaus said. "So you’ll help me get the documents and then stay out of my way. Don’t get involved with the KGB.

"And don’t tell the stingy-bug," he added, with a feeling of horror.

"What would I tell him?" Dorian asked mischievously. "That you are treating me to dinner out?"

Klaus scowled. But he owed the Earl something. For – taking care of him. "Very well. But change your clothes. I am not going anywhere with you dressed like – some belly-dancer."

Dorian departed in a flurry of his usual life-risking teasing – blowing Klaus a kiss from the door. Klaus, still in his sweats from his morning run, went upstairs to shower and change.

Klaus – being efficient in matters of bathing and dressing – ended up waiting rather a long time before Dorian joined him. The Earl had put on one of his more conservative outfits and tied his hair back. Klaus could not quite approve of it – Dorian still looked too beautiful for a man – but he could not complain. Well, if it came to that he could complain, at length, but he refrained.

They went to a well-lit restaurant. This was highly unprofessional of course, for spies and for thieves, but Klaus refused to sit across a table from Dorian in what the other would undoubtedly consider a romantic atmosphere.

Klaus ate. Dorian watched him, with a stupid expression of yearning on his face. Klaus thought he could almost see roses floating around his head.

"Stop that!" Klaus ordered. "Eat! I paid for it."

"’M not hungry ... for food." Dorian flirted.

"That’s ridiculous. Don’t be such a baby. A big body like yours needs solid meals." Klaus informed him.

"I eat and exercise, I assure you," Dorian huffed.

A safe topic, Klaus judged. "What do you do for exercise?"

Dorian regarded him with some amusement. "Fingertip pushups."

Klaus gave an approving nod.

"Climbing. Swimming. And –" Dorian gave him a sidelong glance, "belly-dancing."

"Pervert," Klaus growled, forgetting all his good intentions.

"’S fabulous for the abdominal muscles," Dorian drawled. "And keeps the back flexible. I’ll be happy to give you a private demonstration anytime."

That was dinner.

The museum break-in went very smoothly, of course.

"I do this one regularly just for practice," Dorian explained. "It’s conveniently located."

"I don’t want to know," Klaus told him.

Klaus told him the name of the painting they were looking for, and Dorian found it quickly. Klaus had no idea how. They all looked like paintings to him.

"Not a good piece," Dorian said disapprovingly. "It offends my sense of aesthetics to have any dealings with it at all." Nevertheless, making faces, he briskly and efficiently disabled the security system and turned the painting over. Klaus watched as he removed the backing and extracted the documents. Dorian handed them over without comment, and started to replace the painting.

"Freeze."

Klaus gave a small growl of irritation. "Don’t sneak around pointing guns at me," he instructed the KGB agents. "I don’t like it."

"Give us the documents and nobody gets hurt."

"Shoot me," Dorian said, turning around, "But stop using such terrible spy dialog."

"Shut up." Klaus said. "Everyone shut up." He was bored of the whole adventure – had been, as soon as the document was in his hands – so he wasted no time kicking the gun out of the KGB agent’s hands, and hustling them out of the museum. Only when he got outside with the KGB idiots did he realize that Dorian was no longer with him.

He felt very harassed. The KGB agents took one look at Klaus’s face, and fled for their lives. Klaus crossed his arms and waited, fuming, for the thief to reappear.

Rather to his disgust, the blond thief did present himself. Lord Gloria had no survival instincts, Klaus decided.

"Saw something pretty," the Earl chirped.

Klaus grabbed him by the arms – there was nothing to grab onto on the black catsuit – and roared, "IDIOT! Why do you always do these things? How’m I supposed to keep you safe if you don’t stick with me?"

"It was only the KGB," Dorian said blankly. "They’re idiots."

"But they’re idiots with GUNS, damnit, and you have the worst aim I’ve ever seen!" Klaus fumed.

"You can teach me to shoot." Dorian smiled like he’d won a prize.

"Why should I teach you anything?" Klaus grumbled. "You never follow orders." He regarded Dorian suspiciously. Why was Dorian so happy all of a sudden? Klaus always felt like he had only half the script around Dorian.

"Now that you have the secret whatever-it-is," Dorian asked, "what are you going to do with it? Send it to Bonn?"

Klaus hadn’t yet decided the best course of action. It was too hazardous to pop it in the mail, of course. It would have to be hand-delivered. But to whom? If he brought it to NATO, he’d rack up further charges of insubordination. There was always the SIS – Klaus shuddered at the thought of giving anything to that creepy Lawrence. Still, there was no doubt that Lawrence would be thrilled to help him – but anything that thrilled Lawrence was something Klaus wanted no part of.

"You’re very quiet," Dorian observed.

"Just thinking."

He dropped the Earl off at his castle, and drove to his hotel. He was tired, but took the time to locate and destroy the KGB’s bugs before he went to sleep. He wanted them to think he’d hidden it in his room and was being careful.

Actually, he’d hidden it in the Earl’s house, a maneuver which had cost him an awkward moment. Dorian had been visibly disappointed. "You’re such a tease," he’d complained.

Hmph.

The next morning, Klaus went jogging, and had breakfast at the hotel. When he returned to his room, he was amused to see it had been thoroughly searched.

He was less amused when Dorian called, and told him the castle had been broken into during the night.

"I’ll be right over," Klaus said shortly.

"Where’s the painting you took?" he asked, without preamble, when he walked in the door. Dorian regarded him in astonishment.

"Don’t tell me you want me to return that," he said, annoyed. "It’s no affair of yours."

"Don’t be an idiot," Klaus answered. "Just get it."

"It’s in my bedroom," Dorian informed him, not moving.

Klaus brushed past him and went upstairs. Dorian trailed after, staring openly at his backside.

Dorian’s bedroom was the center of the pervert’s narcissistic universe. Outrageous, decadent, disgraceful. Even for a woman it would be intolerable. There were paintings and statues scattered around – tastefully arranged, Klaus supposed. Spotting the statue for which that wretched boy Caesar had been the model, he turned and glowered at Dorian.

"Where is it?" Klaus growled.

Dorian perched on his mattress, swinging his legs. "Hmm," he said, as if he had to think about it.

Klaus was unamused. He flung himself on the Earl. Dorian stared up, wide-eyed. Klaus held him down. "Where is it? I put the document in it, idiot!"

"You have such a one-track mind," Dorian mourned.

Klaus became aware of the intimacy of their position. He reddened, but didn’t get up. "Where is it?"

Dorian started to lift an arm. Klaus thought he was going to touch him, and bore it down.

"You’re so strong," Dorian said inconsequentially.

"Tell me before I hit you," Klaus suggested, smiling.

Dorian at last looked a little alarmed. "Well, if you’d let me move my arm," he complained.

Klaus released his grip on Dorian’s arm, while settling himself more firmly over the Earl’s hips. "Fine. Point."

Dorian let his hand wander. Klaus smacked it away from his chest – a little late. Dorian made him nervous, he told himself. "Stop that," he ordered.

Dorian started slowly to undo Klaus’s buttons.

"What the hell d’you think you’re doing?" Klaus snapped. "I could kill you."

"You said you wanted the document," Dorian said, stopping.

"’S right. Stop playing." Klaus glared at him.

Dorian calmly returned to unbuttoning Klaus’s shirt.

"You are insane," Klaus groaned. He started to swat Dorian’s hands away again. And paused. "You didn’t." But as soon as he’d said it, he knew Dorian had.

Klaus shoved Dorian’s hands away, and stripped his shirt off with military efficiency.

The document tumbled out.

"How do you do these things?" Klaus demanded, mortified. He felt as he had the time Dorian somehow managed to steal his belt – his belt – without Klaus noticing.

"I have very light fingers," Dorian purred. "See?" He caressed Klaus’s bare stomach.

Klaus shuddered.

"Stop that," he said, in a strangled voice.

"No, I don’t think so," Dorian decided. "There is a time for everything, Klaus. One isn’t meant to be strong all the time. Sometimes it is necessary to be weak, or silly, or make love, or dance. That is the sort of behavior which renews strength. Without it, you inevitably exhaust yourself and have emotional breakdowns."

Klaus found it difficult to move, though he knew he should.

"I could never be like that," Klaus said, talking instead of moving. Nothing wrong with wrestling. I’m just wrestling very slowly.

"No, I don’t suppose you ever could," Dorian agreed tranquilly. "But you can let yourself enjoy life anyway."

Klaus swallowed.

"Like you." The words hurt coming out of his throat.

"No," Dorian said flatly. "That would be completely idiotic."

Klaus tried to smile. It was shaky.

"You have your own personality, my dear psychotic German sadist," Dorian informed him, with a bewitching smile. "And if you didn’t, we wouldn’t be the least bit attracted to each other," he added dryly.

Klaus wanted to say, "Speak for yourself," but his throat was too dry. At last he said, "If you were a woman–"

"If I were a woman," Dorian whispered, sliding his feather-light touch up Klaus’s arms, and around his shoulders, "you wouldn’t want me, would you?"

Klaus felt like a deer caught in the headlights. It was too late to move, and he’d forgotten, it seemed, how to breathe. Dorian’s fingers tangled in his hair, and pulled him closer.

He remembered his father saying, "You little pervert!"

He flinched.

Klaus stared down at Dorian’s pale, perfect face, framed by the decadent mass of blond curls. He touched a long curl, nervously. If Dorian had been female, Klaus thought, he would be the perfect woman.

But he wasn’t a woman. Klaus swallowed. Dorian was a man.

He wasn’t aware that his eyes were wet until Dorian’s fingers brushed against his eyelashes.

"I know," Dorian said.

"What – what do you think you know?" Klaus asked, refusing to give an inch.

"The first time you kissed a boy," Dorian said.

"But it’s wrong," Klaus said.

"Can’t be," Dorian said. "It just is."

Klaus didn’t know how Dorian could be so calm. He was shaking. He averted his face.

After a moment, Klaus pulled Dorian’s hands away. Dorian looked at him questioningly, a little line of concern-about-to-be-heartache forming in his brow. Klaus said nothing, but shifted, so that he lay over Dorian’s slighter body. His arms were still trembling, but he needed to be in control, and it was easier this way.

He kissed Dorian’s lips, aware of his clumsiness. Dorian tried to touch him again; Klaus pinned his arms down. "Don’t touch me," he muttered, and kissed him a little more softly, learning from Dorian’s lips how it went.

He tried to unbutton Dorian’s blouse, but his hands fumbled over the tiny buttons. Klaus rolled off. "Take your clothes off."

He watched as Dorian removed his clothes. Dorian was too impatient to tease him, which was a very good thing, Klaus thought, because his nerves were at the breaking-point.

Naked, Dorian returned to the warmth of Klaus’s body. Klaus buried his head in Dorian’s shoulder, resting. "Are you going to undress?" Dorian asked.

"No."

"Shoes?"

Klaus sat up and removed his shoes. He remained sitting for a while, looking at Dorian’s body. It was perfect, he thought. "Maybe you’ll turn me into an art appreciator after all," he said.

His hand moved over a white thigh. Dorian sucked in his breath. Without comment, Klaus positioned his arm under Dorian’s buttocks, and flipped him over.

"There’s lubricant in the drawer, if that’s what –"

There were condoms too, Klaus found. But he ignored them. Dorian was his. It was infuriating, though rationally it was good, to know he’d been careful in the past. "You are – safe?" he asked, because it would have been idiotic not to.

"Yes."

It was a relief – though a bit distressing – to undo the top of his trousers. Dorian lay patiently under him.

"You do that with such military efficiency," Dorian said irrepressibly, though in a raw voice, as Klaus applied the lubricant.

"Hmph."

Penetration was more difficult. It was hard to overcome years of repression. Dorian shifted, and the threat of the wretched thief taking matters into his own hands was enough to steady Klaus’s nerves. "Stop that," he ordered.

He didn’t care how much expertise Dorian had in this area, Klaus thought morosely. He wasn’t about to let him take control.

He was being a bit rough, to judge from the little sounds Dorian was making. But when he paused to ask if it was excessive force, Dorian shook his head violently. His hair was wet with sweat.

"Gut," Klaus said, resuming.

He noticed that Dorian was weakening, and had to be close to his release. Klaus bit his lip. He felt overburdened, but unable to let go. He felt suspended between two impossible states.

Under him Dorian cried out, slick with sweat. Klaus stopped, unsure what to do.

Dorian pulled away from Klaus’s still-rigid penis. Klaus watched suspiciously as Dorian rolled over. He resisted being tugged down.

"I won’t touch you," Dorian promised, in a spent voice. "You’ll see."

Klaus lowered himself so that he lay over Dorian, his face buried against Dorian’s neck. Dorian rubbed against him. It was a strange but erotic sensation. Then Dorian’s knee pushed between his legs. Klaus stiffened.

"Relax," Dorian said mischievously. "You’re still on top."

Suddenly Dorian’s hand was– Klaus gasped and shut his eyes. Dorian slowly – with horrible expertise – brought him over the edge.

"I love you," Dorian said, later.

"Idiot," Klaus mumbled.

To make a long story short – the rest of the two weeks were passed in agreeable pursuits. At the end of Klaus’s suspension, he returned to Bonn, in a remarkably pleasant mood. A package appeared on the Chief’s desk, with a note signed, "From Eroica, With Love." When questioned about it – a document containing high-security satellite information – Major Eberbach denied knowing anything about it. "Well, damn it, how did he get in here without anyone knowing anything about it?" the Chief fumed. The Major merely shrugged.

He had no reason to be concerned. After all, he had planted the package and its attached note himself. From Eroica with love, indeed. Hmph.

The Major lit another cigarette and went back to work.

 

 

Eroica