"At least it was a NATO car," Dorian offered helpfully as they watched the flames from a safe distance. "And I imagine that the fire has destroyed the tracking device by now."

Klaus paused in his swearing to glare at him, but before he could say anything the gas tank exploded, and Klaus was overcome by another wave of incoherent rage.

"Really, darling," Dorian said, wishing he had a clean handkerchief to wipe the soot of Klaus' cheek, "you do make everything so difficult."

"I make-- but you--"

"I mean, my life would be so much easier if you were only a, a grocer or a race-car driver or something," Dorian continued, hunting through the bag he'd managed to save from the wreckage. "Or an Olympic athlete, you've certainly got the body for it. Perhaps you could do that one where they ski and shoot a gun, you're quite good at both those things already." He found his silver compact and flipped it open, surveying his reflection, then shuddered, snapping the compact closed and dropping it back into his bag.

"Well, darling, I suppose we'd best be on our way," he said.

Klaus exploded.

"You idiot!" he yelled, rounding on Dorian in fury. "Do you take nothing seriously? Those terrorists exploded our car and all our evidence with it, and now this whole mission has been for nothing and we will have to start all over again! And you stand there primping--"

"Darling, really, you never pay attention," Dorian said, tying his sooty hair back with a chiffon scarf and taking a step back from his Major's flailing arms. He'd been manhandled quite enough for one day, and not in the way he'd have liked. "I've got the file right here."

Klaus stopped in the middle of a stream of vicious German and stared at him. "What?"

"I put it in my bag in case I needed something to read in the car," Dorian said calmly. "You threw my novel out the car window two days ago, and I get bored when you insist on being the only one to drive." He rummaged the file out of the bag and fluttered the pages at Klaus. "There, see? No need to be so upset."

Klaus seized the papers and flipped through them hastily before relinquishing them again. Dorian tucked them smugly back into his bag.

"Start walking," Klaus ordered curtly, and set off down the road towards Padesca.

Dorian smiled, and fell into step beside him.

It took them six hours to make it into town, and the woman behind the desk in Padesca's only hotel was quite reluctant to open her door for them, but Dorian unleashed a flood of his most charming Italian and managed to talk her into giving them a room. It would have been easier if he'd had access to his own identification and credit cards, but they had been undercover this mission and all he had were his NATO-issued false identification papers and a parsimonious checking account with the Banca d'Italia. She claimed to only have one room available; Dorian thought it was more likely that she wanted to minimize her losses in case they couldn't pay, but he wasn't about to argue the point. He couldn't pass up a chance to room with Klaus. Even dusty, glowering, and spattered with motor oil, the man was so perfectly himself. Dorian sighed happily.

They were shown to their room and Klaus immediately stormed off to the bathroom, slamming the door behind him with a splendid indifference to the other occupants of the hotel. Dorian limped to the edge of the bed and collapsed. His frivolous high-heeled boots had not been designed with cross-country walking in mind, and now that he'd stopped moving he seemed to be a single ache from the hips down. He painfully pried off the shoes- they would never be the same again; James would have a fit-- and looked at his feet in dismay. Blisters had risen, burst and bled; his silk socks were stuck to his feet in several places. Dorian wrinkled his nose; he'd have to wet them in the bath and peel them off carefully.

He rummaged in his bag and pulled out two pairs of silk pajamas; his own, sleeveless top and shorts in robin's-egg blue, and a pair of modest black ones in Klaus' size that he'd taken to carrying with him on their joint missions, just in case. Bonham gave him pained looks every time he packed Dorian's bags, but they didn't take up much space, and after all, what good was life if one didn't dream a bit? He'd never had occasion to offer them, but he'd had a feeling they would someday come in handy. He hoped Klaus would accept the offer; he wouldn't put it past him to sleep on the floor in his filthy clothes out of sheer bloody-mindedness.

Klaus returned in far less time than Dorian considered sufficient for a bath on a normal day, let alone one that had included a cross-country walk and an exploding car. He was tightly wrapped from neck to knee in a coarse terrycloth bathrobe he'd gotten from the desk clerk and had folded his ruined clothes into a neat pile.

"There's still hot water," he said.

"Thank you, darling, that sounds like heaven," Dorian said, trying to rise gracefully despite the shooting pain in his legs and feet. He gathered his pajamas, and waved a hand at the black ones, which he'd laid out on the bed. "I've got some pajamas you could wear," he said casually. "Never worn, I promise, and thus completely untainted. That way we can send our dirty things to be washed while we sleep."

Klaus looked at the pajamas with deep suspicion. "Those are not your pajamas."

"Of course not! I wouldn't dream of sleeping all covered up like that, I'd likely have nightmares of being strangled," Dorian said airily. "I got those for you, just in case."

Klaus was getting very red. "You're trying to get me to give in to your perverted desires," he said.

"Darling, if I were buying you something for my perverted desires, I wouldn't get pajamas," Dorian said, letting a shade of hurt creep into his voice. "I only thought that since we seem to so often end up on missions together it couldn't hurt to carry some things for you in my bag along with the things I've got for me. But of course, if you prefer to spend the night in things that reek of petrol, covered in soot, that you walked in for six hours..." he trailed off, making an expressive gesture, and then shrugged. "Far be it from me to try and stop you," he concluded, and began to limp toward the bathroom with as much dignity as possible.

"Eroica," Klaus said, then stopped.


"Why are you limping?"

"Blisters," said Dorian crisply, "and probably shin splints as well, whatever those are, and sore muscles besides. Those boots are lovely-- or they were, this morning-- but they weren't exactly designed for walking miles and miles."

"You didn't say anything."

"What possible good would it have done?" Dorian demanded. "I hardly expected you to scoop me up like a swooning Victorian maiden and carry me all the way to Padesca."

Klaus said nothing, but Dorian thought his expression eased a bit in what might almost be approval. "It appears then we shall both have to make do," he said, picking up the pajama top reluctantly and holding it by the tips of his fingers as though it were made of old sacking instead of a slinky silk knit. "Make your bath quite hot; it should help with the soreness."

Dorian beamed at him. "Thank you, darling, I shall certainly do so," he said, and limped towards the heaven of hot water that awaited him.

He ran the shower first, bracing himself against the wall as he let the blissfully hot water cascade over him, running off in gritty gray-brown rivulets down his legs and soaking into the socks he still wore. He leaned down carefully and peeled his feet out of them, hissing as he separated the material from the raw, bloodied patches. He washed all over, quickly, and shampooed his hair three times, until all the ash and dirt was gone. When the water was finally running clear, he rubbed an entire travel-size bottle of conditioner through his tangled hair while the tub filled, added a generous dollop of bath oil, and sank into the tub with an enraptured sigh to soak while the conditioner was working.

It had been kind of Klaus to care about his sore muscles, in that brusque, diffident sort of way that Klaus seemed to reserve for Dorian alone and always stopped immediately if Dorian seemed to notice. Lately, though, there had been more moments of peace between them; they had arrived at a kind of balance where Dorian refrained from being too excessive and Klaus no longer punched him or threatened to set him on fire. Dorian marveled a little at his own patience; never in his life had he waited for anything for as long as he'd waited for Klaus. But he would continue to wait, as long as was necessary; Klaus was a priceless artwork all in himself, an iron tank of a man with beauty in his soul. Dorian had come to regard his pursuit of his Major as though it were the most delicate and tricky of heists, a job that would take more than a decade from inception to conclusion.

It didn't matter, though. The prize was worth it… and even if Klaus never did relent, it would be worth it still, for those rare times when they were quiet and still together, or when in the heat of a mission a spark of camaraderie flashed between them. They were good together; someday, Dorian was sure, they would discover a number of delightful ways to be better still. Eight months ago, he and Klaus had finished an entire mission without Dorian once being called a pervert or slammed up against a wall; it was after that mission that he had started packing Klaus' pajamas in his overnight bag. He ducked under the water, rinsing his hair.

Dorian stretched luxuriously as he got out of the bath, his sore muscles loosened nicely by the heat. Yes, Klaus was definitely weakening in his resolve. And tonight Dorian would get to see him in those luscious pajamas, which, though long-sleeved and buttoning all the way to the throat, were cut to drape alluringly over the body. He imagined Klaus' broad shoulders and long legs sheathed in black silk, and shivered with delighted anticipation. Perhaps he could even find a way to innocently brush his hand over one of Klaus' arms, to feel the silk slide over the heat of skin.

He dried himself roughly, bringing a pink glow to his skin with the towel, and twined his hair up in another towel as he pulled on his pajamas. He draped a towel around his shoulders to keep himself from getting too wet; he would work on his hair back in the room. His feet were starting to hurt again and he didn't think he would be able to stand for the whole time it would take to sort out the masses of curls.

Klaus was kneeling on the floor when he came in, and Dorian felt quite faint at the sight of his back and ass outlined in clinging silk. The pain in his legs was suddenly much less of a bother; he'd suffer far worse for the chance to see such beauty. He averted his eyes quickly as Klaus looked up, not wanting to ruin the evening by disturbing Klaus' unexpectedly calm mood.

"Good, you're here," Klaus said, oblivious to Dorian's mouth falling open. "The water is still hot."

"I-- what?"

"Sit down," Klaus said impatiently. "Put your feet in here." He indicated a basin that he had evidently been arranging on the floor next to the bed.

"All right," Dorian said. "What is it?"

"Salt water," Klaus said. "'S good for blisters. I've got some bandages and ointment, too, for after."

Dorian beamed. "Oh, Major, that sounds glorious! Thank you." He settled on the edge of the bed and slipped his feet into the basin, hissing a bit as the salt hit the raw places.

"You'll be no good to me if you can't walk," Klaus said gruffly. "Just sit there until the water cools."

"Of course, darling, whatever you say," Dorian said, picking up his wide-toothed comb and starting to work the tangles out of his hair. "Have we got to leave again tomorrow, then?"

"I don't know yet," Klaus said. "There's some kind of bureaucratic hold-up at headquarters. Z is looking into it; he'll have an answer for me by the morning."

"I'm sure he will," Dorian said, smiling. "You'll be able to rest easy knowing he's taking care of things."

"Z's a good agent," Klaus said, sticking a finger into the basin. "A few more minutes in that."

"All right," Dorian said agreeably, moving to a new section of hair. Out of the corners of his eyes he could see Klaus watching him. They sat in silence for a while; Dorian couldn't resist posing a little as he worked through the heavy tangled curls, arching his back just a bit.

"Why do you bother?" Klaus asked suddenly. "All that trouble over something that's just going to tangle or get you caught in a thorn bush or be grabbed by an enemy, and makes you so easily identified, besides. Why don't you just cut it off?"

Dorian smiled. "First off, darling, you've obviously never seen a picture of me as a boy. When my hair is short I look like a bad transvestite playing Shirley Temple." He shuddered expressively. "It's dreadful."

Klaus looked horrified at the image Dorian had painted.

"Secondly, don't think I underestimate the strategic value of having one immediately identifying feature. In the event of an emergency, five minutes with clippers and a change of clothes and I'd be practically unrecognizable."

Klaus frowned. "I wouldn't go that far," he said. "You've got a recognizable face, and your eyes are a very unusual color."

"Maybe to you, darling," Dorian said affectionately, "and to people like Bonham and James, who've known me for years, but I'd wager you'd find that the vast majority of people who meet me just remember the hair and the clothes. Of course, my hair and clothes are nearly always lovely, and well worth remembering, but they're easily enough changed. But only if it were absolutely necessary."

"Has it ever been necessary before?"

"Not so far," Dorian said, "and I hope it never shall be. Things would have to be dire indeed to bring me so low."

"Indeed." Klaus' voice was distant, and he tested the basin again. "You're done," he said, picking up a towel. "Give me a foot."

Dorian stared in disbelief. Was Klaus actually intending to dry his feet? While kneeling on the floor? Had one of them sustained a head injury in the explosion? If so, he didn't really want to know. He lifted one foot out of the basin gingerly and Klaus caught it in the towel, patting it dry briskly but not harshly and setting it down on another towel he had spread out on the floor. "Next," he said, and Dorian complied meekly, too astounded to do anything else. He hoped Klaus wouldn't look up; soon there would be nothing he could do to hide the effect that Klaus' touch was having on him, and this evening had been much too pleasant to ruin.

"You don't have to do that, Major," he said softly. "I'm sure I can manage."

"You can't bandage your own feet properly," Klaus said, setting the second foot down. "Angle's wrong. Just be still." He picked up the first foot again, feeling around the tender places with a deft touch. "Stupid foppish clothes," he muttered. "You should dress practically when you're on a mission." He squeezed some ointment onto his fingertips and began to smear it on the blisters, holding the foot steady with a warm, callused hand. Dorian hissed, his foot jerking involuntarily, and Klaus stopped.

"Am I hurting you?"

Dorian could only shake his head. It hurt, yes, but it wasn't pain that had made him move away. Klaus' fingers, strong and confident, gliding over his skin...

"It tickled," he said.

"Ah." Klaus nodded. "I shall be a little firmer, then."

It was all he could do not to whimper as Klaus started again, short slick strokes over the injured places, firmer now, yes, and hurting more, but mixed with the heat of Klaus' oddly careful touch it was a delicious pain. Klaus bound his foot neatly with adhesive tape and gauze, and set it down on the towel again with a satisfied pat. "Now the other," he said, and Dorian could only watch helplessly as his Major's shining dark head bent in concentration over the task.

He bit his lip, and casually pulled one of the pillows from the bed into his lap.

Dorian finished the last section of his hair and tossed the comb onto the bedside table. "They feel better already," he said.

"There's lidocaine in the ointment," Klaus said. "Makes it numb."

"I appreciate it, Major," Dorian said. Really, things couldn't be any more lovely. He wondered idly if this were a dream, then hastily killed the thought; he didn't think he could bear it if he woke and it wasn't real.

They were quiet for a while as Klaus smoothed the ointment over Dorian's other foot, a tiny, adorable frown of concentration between his eyebrows.

"You're not near as brainless as you act," he said suddenly, turning Dorian's foot in his hands to reach a nasty raw spot on the side.

"That's very perceptive of you, Major."

"Useful to have everyone think you're an empty-headed fop," Klaus said. "Suppose it's sound strategy."

Dorian considered pinching himself, and quashed the impulse. "It has often proven to be."

"'S damn annoying, though, when I'm trying to get things done and you're flopping all over the place," Klaus continued.

"I know," Dorian said gently. "But you have to understand, Major, that much though I adore working with you it is a bit unnerving to be surrounded by so much law enforcement, given my profession."

Klaus set the ointment down and picked up the gauze again. "I wouldn't let them arrest you," he said, making Dorian go warm all over with delight. "You're an asset to missions when you're not flouncing around all over and stealing other things than what I hired you for."

"This is still about the Pope, isn't it?" Dorian said, and he was definitely hallucinating now, because Klaus could not possibly have just stroked the top of his foot. "It's hardly fair to keep on about that after all this time. I did give him back, after all."

Klaus snorted. "You just wanted attention." He set Dorian's foot down. "There."

"Thank you, Major," Dorian said, wiggling his toes."I'm sure it will help."

Klaus nodded, gathering up the basin and bandages. "I told Z to update Bonham on the situation," he said. "He might call you here, but don't tie up the line for too long."

Dorian stared. "You told Z that we were staying in the same room?"

"What else would I have told him?"

"But--" Dorian floundered. "Aren't you afraid that he'll get the wrong impression?"

Klaus shrugged, taking the basin towards the door. "'S no matter to me what Z's impressions are. He won't do anything but his duty, he doesn't want to go to Alaska. Besides, 's not like it would be anything new. Everyone at headquarters already knows you're my lover."

Dorian felt as though he'd been hit on the head. And then dropped into a swimming pool. Blindfolded. "But... Major," he said, helplessly. "I'm not your lover. Believe me, that's not something I'd forget."

"That's true," Klaus said. "But everyone knows it anyway." He left the room, letting the door fall closed behind him, and Dorian sat in shock on the bed without moving until he returned with the now-empty basin.

"Are you saying," Dorian said incredulously, "that everyone at NATO believes that we're lovers, and you know it, and you don't care? Shouldn't you be yelling at someone or threatening me or sending people to Alaska?"

"I've been doing that all along," Klaus said, shrugging again. "Didn't change anything. And if I sent all the Alphabets to Alaska who gossip about us I wouldn't have anyone left in Bonn to work."

Dorian stared. "But what about your reputation? Your superiors?"

Klaus snorted. "My reputation could hardly get any worse. And I won't be promoted anyhow; I'm not willing to kiss the right asses for that. It's all bureaucratic bullshit, Eroica."

"Major, you--" Dorian stopped, for once in his life completely at a loss for words. "Did you hurt yourself today? Did you get hit in the head when I wasn't looking? Because as lovely as all this... this reasonableness is, you're not acting at all like yourself."

Klaus sighed, and pulled back the covers on the other side of the bed as Dorian watched with wide eyes. "I'm not concussed, Dorian," he said wearily, and Dorian bit back a little gasp at the name. "I'll yell at you and call you names tomorrow, if you want, but I'm not twenty-five anymore and right now I'm too tired to bother." He slid into bed, turning so that his back was to Dorian. "Turn out the light," he said drowsily, and Dorian, too shocked to do anything else, obeyed.

He sat in the darkness without moving for a moment, then pulled the towel from around his shoulders, pulled back the covers on his own side of the bed, and got under them. He settled on his back and laid very still, hyperaware of the heat radiating from Klaus' side of the bed and his regular breathing, until the exertions of the day finally dragged him into sleep.

Klaus woke as the first dawn light crept in through the curtains he'd neglected to close the night before. He was still for a moment, evaluating his surroundings as he always did. The room was dim but Klaus could see enough to tell that there weren't any intruders. His watch, on the bedside table, ticked reassuringly. Dorian had shifted during the night, which didn't surprise Klaus, given how hard he seemed to find it to keep still while awake; he was burrowed into Klaus' side, peacefully asleep, twined around him like a clinging plant.

It was not, upon reflection, an unpleasant sensation. The ridiculous silk that Dorian seemed to think was an appropriate fabric for sleeping in was really very little use; one could feel everything through it as though one weren't wearing anything at all. Dorian had an arm flung over his middle and had managed to get one of Klaus' legs in between his own; his head was on Klaus' pillow, his breath humid on Klaus' neck, his hair getting everywhere, tickling in Klaus' ear.

He had wondered, in the past, what it might be like. It had been nearly impossible to picture Dorian in his room at the Schloss, filling the narrow iron bed with a riot of curls and flounces. He had expected to find it disgusting, sleeping with Dorian, or at the least to be infuriated and unnerved by the intruder in his solitude. On the whole, though, it was really quite pleasant, comforting even. Klaus wondered if the sheer novelty was deadening his reactions, and forced himself to pay strict attention to every place that Dorian was touching him. It was important to be sure, before he let things move any further, that he was willing to follow this path to its conclusion; to do otherwise wouldn't be fair to Dorian, who might be fickle in all other things but who had proven himself to be unshakably loyal to Klaus, though God alone knew why.

Start at the top, then, and move downward, and that meant starting with that hair, Dorian's trademark and his shield. It was very soft, falling all over Klaus' pillow; he turned his head a little and it brushed his nose. It smelled… nice. A little flowery but not too bad. It suited Dorian. He thought about putting his hands in it, about the way the curls would catch and cling and twine around his fingers.

Dorian's arms, next, and his chest; he'd been surprised, many years ago, at how strong Dorian was under all the frippery, but now it was only to be expected, a part of Dorian as much as the hair. The growing light caught the fine blond hair on Dorian's arm, making the curves of muscle glint almost as though Dorian were one of his own prized statues. Dorian's hand was clutching his pajama top, long thief's fingers making wrinkles in the silk.

Dorian's hips were... well.

Start at the bottom, and work up, and that meant starting with Dorian's feet, surprisingly soft, maimed by the silly shoes he insisted on wearing. The blisters had been quite bad; Dorian should try not to wear shoes again until he had to.

Dorian had one foot tucked under Klaus' calf, and Klaus could feel the place where gauze bandages gave way to smooth skin, could feel the hair on Dorian's bare leg rasping against his pajamas when he moved a little.

That left the middles of their bodies, and Klaus' thoughts skittered away before he forced his wandering attention firmly, just there, where Dorian's erection was pressed against his hip, hot and resilient through two layers of silk.

He waited in vain for the expected revulsion to hit. He was, after all, in bed with another man, twined in the intimate embrace of a degenerate queer, an unmistakable erection nudging his body; just the sort of scenario he had refused even to imagine for so long. But this, the reality of it... this was Dorian beside him, Dorian's penis touching him, Dorian's sleek muscled thigh that his own hardening penis was now brushing against through silk. And Dorian, somehow, had stopped being a threat to him; at some time, without noticing, Klaus has started to trust him.

He should, perhaps, tell Dorian so. But first it was necessary to deal with the mission.

He extricated himself from bed with no small amount of difficulty, and went to the phone by the window to call Z.

Z answered his phone with commendable promptness. The information Klaus had given him the night before had been put to good use, and a dozen members of a terrorist cell in Rome had been detained; they were even now in interrogation rooms, being gently persuaded by NATO to share information on their comrades and plans. The physical evidence that Dorian had managed to save would be needed eventually, for trials, but the need was not immediate.

"I would have asked you and Eroica to return to Rome, sir," Z said, "but I couldn't find a single car rental office within fifty miles of Padesca. I could perhaps send M in a car to pick you up."

Klaus looked at the bed, where Dorian had rolled into Klaus' spot and snuggled into his pillow, a brilliant huddle of blue and gold in the morning sun.

"M needs to be interrogating terrorists, not playing chauffeur all over Italy," Klaus said briskly. "Perhaps there is some other driving service?"

Z cleared his throat unhappily. "Well, sir, the thing is, with Padesca so out of the way, it's very expensive to hire a driver, and the Chief wouldn't authorize the expense."

With an effort, Klaus kept his voice to an icy hiss. "So he prefers to pay for an indefinite hotel stay instead?"

Z's voice took on the brave tone of a man preparing to be martyred. "Sir, he said you and Eroica should take the bus."

"The bus." He pictured Dorian on the bus, like an ostrich on an ice floe. He would probably have his wretched accountant raise the fee by half to compensate himself for the ordeal.

"Yes, sir." Behind Z, Klaus could hear someone talking. The alphabets had no discipline when he wasn't there to supervise them. "There's a bus that runs from Padesca to Rome every Saturday morning at ten."

"That is four days from now!"

"Yes, sir." The expectation of Alaska was clear in Z's voice.

Obviously, that disgusting lecher of a Chief was amusing himself by trapping Klaus here for the rest of the week. With Dorian. In a single hotel room, with nothing to do. Five years ago he would probably have shot someone. This time last year, he would have had screaming apoplexy.

"Sir?" Z sounded downright terrified; he probably imagined the Major had suffered a stroke.

Klaus smiled. It was the sort of smile that made veteran soldiers drop their guns. "Obviously the Chief and I shall be discussing this matter once I return to Bonn," he said, his voice dangerous and low. "Wire the fucking bus tickets to the hotel. You will keep me updated in the meantime, three times a day plus supplementals as needed."

"Yes, sir."

"Gut. Now go tell B to stop stammering at you and attend to his duties," Klaus said, and hung up the receiver with a clang. Dorian stirred, blinking up at Klaus sleepily.

"Have we got to go?" he asked, his voice muffled by the pillow.

"No," Klaus said. "We're staying here for a while." He would wait to bring up the matter of the bus.

Dorian's eyes slid shut again. "Then come back to bed," he murmured. "'s early."

Klaus started to protest; he had been planning on going for a run before the midday heat. But he could always run in the evening instead. Perhaps Dorian would join him.

"Move over, then," he said, pushing gently on a warm shoulder. Dorian rolled over onto his side, but he still had Klaus' pillow, and he hadn't left enough space for Klaus to lie on his back. Klaus untangled the sheets from around Dorian's legs and slid into the small space behind him, pressed up against his back. He let one arm drape carefully over Dorian's waist, and was surprised by how pleased he felt when Dorian snuggled back against him.

It was very strange, seeing Dorian like this, sleeping and unguarded in his arms; at once comfortable and unsettling. Dorian's pajama top had ridden up when he turned over, and there was a strip of skin beneath Klaus' hand, velvet-soft and downed with fine hair.

He would probably not be able to go back to sleep. He would stay awake, and feel the way Dorian's body shifted against his as he breathed. Klaus closed his eyes and inhaled the flowery scent of Dorian's hair.

He startled awake some time later, as Dorian slipped out from under his arm. He started to sit up, but Dorian laid a restraining hand on his shoulder.

"It's all right, Major, I'm just going to the bathroom," he said. "Lie back down."

Klaus grunted an affirmative and settled back, watching as Dorian left the room. His limp seemed to have improved overnight, though he looked as though his muscles had stiffened up, which was only to be expected.

The room was quite bright; he had obviously been asleep for some time. He wondered what Dorian had thought when he woke with Klaus pressed against his back. He wondered if Dorian had noticed his erection. He wondered if Dorian would gloat; the man really could be insufferably smug sometimes.

He realized that somehow, it had become a given in his mind that when Dorian returned, they would... do things. Klaus had read about those sorts of things. He felt his stomach lurch in anticipation spiced with fear.

Dorian returned, a sunny smile lighting his face when Klaus met his eyes. "Good morning, Major," he said cheerfully.

"Good morning," Klaus replied. He sat up, unwilling to loll about when Dorian was standing. He drew the sheet up a bit, and then frowned at his own discomfort. He was hardly a blushing maiden, with modesty to be preserved.

Dorian perched on the side of the bed next to him, his hip brushing Klaus' leg.

"I'm afraid I wasn't very awake before," he said. "You talked to Z?"

"They detained twelve terrorists last night," Klaus replied. "Everyone is busy with interrogations, though, so we'll have to stay here for a while."

"Good," Dorian said. "I admit I'm relieved that we aren't expected to hike anywhere else. I was half afraid you'd tell me there was a retired NATO colonel twelve miles outside of town who was willing to loan us his car."

"If there had been, Z would have tracked him down," Klaus said. "It's all right. We've been stranded worse places." He felt a surge of frustration. After more than a decade of making passes at him, Dorian currently seemed determine to engage in perfectly correct conversation for once in his life. Klaus had always imagined-- well, at first he had feared, but lately he'd imagined-- that they would one day reach a point where Klaus would simply give in, would lie back and let Dorian sweep over him like a whirlwind.

Trust Dorian to ruin even this plan. Klaus looked at him, sitting barely-clothed not a foot away, talking about some time that he and Jones had been trapped on a roof, with as much poise as if they had been sitting in a drawing room instead of an unmade bed. Klaus half expected him to produce a teacup and a scone.

"Dorian," he interrupted, a bit too loudly, and floundered when Dorian met his eyes with a startled smile.

"Yes? Major?"

"I... fuck it," said Klaus, and grabbed a handful of Dorian's shirt, pulling him forward into a kiss.

He misjudged the momentum, clacking their teeth together painfully and cutting his lip a little, but that was an error easily mended, and he muffled Dorian's startled squeak with his mouth.

Dorian was still for a moment, and then melted against Klaus, his hands moving to cup Klaus' head, suckling at Klaus' invading tongue.

Klaus had always considered kissing to be largely pointless, a necessary evil dictated by societal custom and the bizarre preferences of women; a messy, disgusting business without even the pleasure that made fucking a worthwhile pursuit. He had never believed that it could be like this, that the feel of those lips parting for him would cause his body to ache so. He caught that mocking tongue lightly between his teeth, and Dorian's breathy moan filled him with a fierce, possessive joy.

He kissed Dorian, and kissed him, until he had to pull away to catch his breath; and that was another thing he'd never known, that you could kiss so long you had to stop for air, as though you were diving, gathering breath before you plunged again.

He stared at Dorian from a few inches away, Dorian's rapid breath tickling his cheek. Those vivid eyes were wide, shining, meeting his own with uncertainty and happiness. Dorian's mouth was soft, wet and tender with kisses, that fair English skin reddened-- abraded a little, Klaus realized, by the beard stubble he had not yet shaved off this morning. That possibility had not occurred to him. He had never kissed anyone in the morning.

He was going to have to learn new habits.

"Dorian," he said again, his voice hoarse. He unknotted his fist from Dorian's shirt, smoothing the crumpled silk with his palm.

"I always claimed to hate you," he said, "but that has been a lie for quite some time."

Dorian's smile was radiant. "Oh, Klaus," he said. "I know. I always did know." Dorian's hands slid down through his hair to cup his face, thumbs brushing whisper-soft over his cheekbones. "But you are my brave, beautiful Major," he said quietly. "You couldn't let your fear rule you forever."

"I will not claim that this is easy," Klaus said, and cursed his throat for making the words stick. "But I will do it, nonetheless."

"You wouldn't be the man I love if you didn't," Dorian said. "You know you can be sure of me, darling. Whatever you need, it's yours; you have only to ask."

He found courage, somehow, in Dorian's eyes. "Lie down with me again."

"Will you hold me like you did before?" Dorian asked, sliding beneath the light covers and looking at Klaus expectantly.

He slid down, turning on his side to face Dorian. "I thought you were sleeping," he said uncomfortably.

Dorian smiled, and brushed a tender hand over his arm. "And miss being granted the desires of my heart?"

"You have very strange desires," Klaus said, without thinking. Dorian laughed.

"Darling, you've been saying that for years," he said, and moved a little closer, that tentative hand brushing his arm again. "Do you think you can bear to hold me, knowing I'm awake?"

Klaus reached out an awkward hand and pulled Dorian to his chest, trying to work out where all their limbs should go. "It's different, planning it out like this," Klaus muttered, adjusting the pillow.

"Then don't plan," said Dorian, and tilted his face to kiss him again.

How would he ever get any work done, Klaus wondered, now that he knew this was his for the asking? Dorian's lips dragged across the sensitive underside of his jaw, and miraculously their bodies seemed to have taken care of the alignment themselves, his arm pillowing a luxuriant golden head, bandaged feet rubbing the backs of his calves, Dorian all down his front, wriggling and warm.

He tightened his arms around him, slipping down over broad shoulders and a strong back, then further down, to stroke and squeeze that ass that he had so long tried not to look at. Dorian was sleek as an otter, moving restlessly in Klaus' grasp, seemingly unsure if he should push backwards into Klaus' hands or forwards, to grind their erections together. It was, Klaus thought, an inefficient way to go about it. He tightened his grasp on Dorian and rolled them over, coming to rest squarely on top of Dorian, whose eyes slid shut in delight.

"Oh, Major," he purred, but Klaus cut off any further words with a kiss, smugly proud at the way Dorian arched beneath him after he nipped at Dorian's tongue.

"Don't plan," Dorian had said, but who would be able to plan such a thing as this? It was too new, too wild, dangerous and exposed, and he felt a surge of bitterness that Dorian did not seem to see it thus. How many times must he have done this before? How many men had explored his mouth, made him moan, pressed him down with their bodies?

Dorian writhed beneath him impatiently. "Major," he said, "let me-- I-- oh please--"

More than likely, however, Klaus thought, none of those other men had gotten to see Dorian like this, breathless and incoherent with desire, unable to marshal that glib tongue for anything but pleas. He smiled, and ground his erection into Dorian's, drawing a cry from Dorian and a low groan from himself. His erection was full, aching, the silk of his pajamas dampened by pre-ejaculate and clinging to it, and Dorian's penis, straining at the confines of his own pajamas, felt better against it than anything else ever had.

Dorian clutched his ass, gripping the flexing muscles, trying to pull Klaus harder against himself. "Please," he said again.

Klaus let the weight of his lower body press more heavily against Dorian and began to thrust against him, heat and silk and muscle, moving with all his strength. Dorian seemed to surround him, a cloud of Dorian, filling eyes and ears and mouth with his taste and scent, his little cries, blue and gold everywhere, long-fingered hands slipping over his body, strong legs wrapped around him. It was like being under the influence of some drug; Klaus wondered if he would awake shortly with a headache. It would be worth it, he thought, if he did. He quickened his thrusts, his breath coming in harsh pants, the intensity of the unaccustomed pleasure tightening his chest.

Dorian stiffened underneath him, his arms and legs tightening around him, and let out a choked cry, coming in pulses that Klaus could feel even through two pairs of pajamas; even after had had finished he still clung to Klaus, trembling, his hands fisted in Klaus' shirt.

"Klaus," he whispered, and Klaus pulled back a little to meet his eyes.


"I don't know what to say," Dorian said, one hand moving to trace Klaus' lips, his jaw, the line of his cheekbone. "I feel like I'm dreaming."

Klaus pinched his arm, hard.

"Ow!" Dorian drew back against the pillow, glaring up at him. "What did you do that for?"

"Do you not often dream of such things?"

"Of course not. Don't be absurd."

"Then obviously you are not dreaming; don't be an idiot."

Dorian blinked, looking startled, then laughed, looking up at Klaus with an expression of the most unaffected joy Klaus had ever seen on his face. "Even in my dreams I can't ever make you act so perfectly like yourself," he said, and reached up to kiss him. Klaus leaned into the kiss eagerly, pushing his still-aching erection against Dorian's hip.

"Darling!" Dorian said, pulling away from Klaus' lips only enough to form the words. "You should have said something, I never would have left you like that all this time."

Klaus shrugged, unable to stop himself from moving against Dorian, just a bit. "I've waited longer for worse."

Dorian looked appalled. "That's just the sort of attitude we need to work on," he said sternly. "This is lovemaking, not some kind of endurance test. You're supposed to be enjoying yourself."

"I thought that's what I was doing," Klaus said. Certainly it was more enjoying than he'd done in a long time.

"Well, you're just going to have to practice until you get better at it," Dorian said. "True enjoyment takes a lifetime to master."

"I suppose you're the one to know," Klaus said.

"Of course I am, and you always like to consult with an expert. Now roll over, if you please," Dorian said, and Klaus rolled onto his back, biting back a groan of disappointment as his body separated from Dorian's. Dorian sat up, looking down at him with an air of great satisfaction, his hair a wild halo. Klaus felt suddenly exposed, lying there in rumpled, skewed pajamas, his erection obvious beneath the thin fabric. He wished they hadn't kicked the blankets away.

"Oh," Dorian said, his voice thrumming. "You're so lovely." He traced a finger along Klaus' collarbone where the neck of his shirt had gotten pulled almost to his shoulder. "I want to see you naked."

Klaus moved to unbutton his shirt, but Dorian stopped him. "Please, Major, let me?"

"Get on with it then," Klaus said, acutely conscious of his aching cock. After his earlier statements he could hardly push Dorian down to the bed and rub off against his leg like a badly trained dog. "You can say silly things about me later, if you can't stop yourself."

Dorian beamed at him, and proceeded to strip him of shirt and trousers in less time than he had thought possible. No wonder Eroica was so talented at quick disguises.

"Normally," Dorian said, "I would give you the full treatment. But I think that at this point it wouldn't be very kind." He shifted lower in the bed and wrapped his hand around the base of Klaus' erection, and even as Klaus tried not to move he leaned down and engulfed it with his mouth.

Klaus gasped, every muscle seeming to tense at once, unable now to stop himself from thrusting, but Dorian didn't seem to mind; he was busily working at Klaus' groin, hands seeming to get everywhere, surrounding him with the satin wetness of his mouth, the tickle of his tongue, the rippling heat of his open throat, sensation so intense he could hardly bear it. He fought against the orgasm he could feel approaching, not wanting to seem so easy; he found himself clutching at Dorian, finding himself with great handfuls of hair that he tried to let go of, but he couldn't seem to coordinate the effort when every bit of him was focused on what Dorian was doing. He bucked a little as one of Dorian's fingers pressed on something that sent a bolt of pleasure through him, and when Dorian hummed happily, he fell over the brink of orgasm, biting off the sounds his body was trying to make as he convulsed, as Dorian's throat worked around him, making satisfied little noises, swallowing endlessly.

Some time later, he opened his eyes. Dorian was stretched across him, naked, his body gleaming in the sunlight, regarding him with an expression that was almost too happy to be smug.

"I'll make it better for you next time," he said.

Somewhere, Klaus found the energy to raise an eyebrow. "I'm sure," he said, "that I shall enjoy the attempt." Perhaps he could use the time to acquire some new skills; it would be greatly satisfying to be able to make Dorian speechless whenever he chose.

The long days until the bus left for Rome suddenly seemed much less daunting.

Epilogue: Saturday

Bonham leaned against the limousine, drinking a cup of excellent coffee. It hadn't been at all difficult to locate the bus station; all that remained to do was wait for the Earl and the Major to arrive.

Halfway through his second cup of coffee, forty-five minutes before the bus for Rome was scheduled to depart, Bonham saw a familiar blond head coming over the hill. Lord Gloria had seemed very cheerful on the phone; Bonham wondered if he'd have to drive all the way to Rome with a homicidally enraged Major Eberbach sitting behind him. God knew what Lord Gloria had been doing all week to keep him in such a good humor. Surely there was nothing worth stealing in Padesca?

He looked down the road again, and nearly dropped his coffee. Major Eberbach was strolling-- strolling-- up the road, carrying several shopping bags and smoking a cigarette, not with his normal frantic puffs, but leisurely, as though he were enjoying it.

Lord Gloria caught sight of him and waved enthusiastically. "Bonham!" he called. "How lovely, I was hoping you'd be here early, or the Major would have made us sit in the station with all our things." He turned over his shoulder to address the Major, who was staring at the car. "Look, Major, Bonham has come to take us to Rome."

Major Eberbach had lengthened his stride and had overtaken Lord Gloria, shooting him a look that Bonham couldn't quite interpret. "So I see," he said. "I take it that this has been arranged for some time?"

"Of course," the Earl said. "Bonham had to arrange for the car, after all, and that takes simply ages."

"So you have not deliberately been delaying our return to Rome when you could have had us there several days ago?"

"Darling, of course if Z had called with an emergency I would have had Jones come down with a helicopter," Lord Gloria said. "But he was able to manage quite well with just the telephone, and I think NATO owed us a bit of a rest after that whole horrid business with the exploding car, not to mention my poor boots." He gestured for Bonham to take the luggage the Major was carrying, and he did so, approaching warily and hurrying away once he had the bags. He stowed them quickly and opened the back door of the car.

"If you're ready, my lord, we can leave at any time," he said.

"Let's go, then," Major Eberbach said, laying a hand in the middle of Lord Gloria's back and pushing him toward the door. "We've got a mission to finish."

The Earl slipped gracefully into the car, and the Major followed him, less gracefully but still with less stiffness in his movements than Bonham had ever seen. Bonham shut the door and got behind the wheel, pulling the car smoothly onto Padesca's bumpy main road. In the rear view mirror, he saw a flash of gold as Lord Gloria leaned over to whisper something to the Major; and then the partition to the back was slid firmly shut.

Bonham drove on towards Rome and the waiting Alphabets, unable to keep his eyes from wandering to the mirror as though he could get a glimpse through the opaque barrier. He would have to think of a way to manage James when they returned to England; the Earl would want to enjoy his good mood without any scenes. He would give Jones a call as soon as they got to Rome.

Well, perhaps a bit after they arrived. He wanted to see the looks on the Alphabets' faces when their Iron Major walked in looking relaxed, closely followed by an obviously unmaimed Eroica.

Besides, Agent A now owed him twenty pounds.


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