Dorian the Heroic
Author's disclaimer and notes: I don't own them, I just dream of doing so. Feedback is better than handmade Finnish black pepper chocolate. Corrections to my language or any other type of comments are welcome. Ask if you want me to archive it anywhere. You may link to this story if you want or to my main page. 3.172 words. Written in August 2010.
For Cassie Ingaben.
This is actually a story Dorian told to Klaus in the middle of The Name of the Game, but it is completly separate form that story arch, other than that, so I don't want to put it as a prequel or something. But still, so you know.
Betaed by Heather Sparrows, Kadorienne and Cassie Ingaben - thank you all of you!! Remaining errors are all mine.
"Bonham - the blueprints?"
To be the greatest criminal mastermind of all of Britain (possibly even the world, at least when art was concerned) was not an easily accomplished task. To reach such a lofty goal required determination, dedication and a great deal of planning.
"Of course, milord." Bonham began to spread said blueprints over the table around which the gang had convened. "I got us something to eat and drink too, I did." With a nod he indicated the wicker basket from which he had produced the maps. Within Dorian spotted a bottle with red-tinted content as well as several wrapped bundles.
"Excellent," he allowed regally. "John-Paul, please?"
Their third nimbly rounded Bonham to extract the promised refreshments. A high glass was placed to Dorian's right and swiftly filled with the bubbly content of the bottle. He sipped the offering, savouring the excellent sweetness of the chilled liquid.
"Very good," he then declared.
Having put the glass back on the table he leaned forward to survey the map. Once he located his target, he indicated the spot elegantly with his index finger. "I will enter through that window. As you reported, Bonham, it is always slightly ajar and the room within always dark. My guess is that the servants have simply forgotten to close the window. I should easily be able to find my way from there. John-Paul, you will drive the getaway-car. You will park here--" He indicated another spot on the map, just across the road from the house. "--and wait for us."
"Yes, boss," John-Paul answered, though slightly hesitantly. "But, boss--"
"I know - you would have never hesitated to go with me, but you made that ... most unfortunate promise. We really must see about having you released from it somehow. Yes, yes. I will go in alone. Bonham, you--"
"No, boss. That wasn't it. That wasn't what I wanted to ask about."
"Oh? Well, what, then?"
"You said 'getaway-car'? Only, I don't know how to drive a car and--"
Dorian nodded quickly. "Of course, John-Paul, I know that and--"
"-- it isn't as if we have a car anyway."
Bonham broke in, his voice steady and slightly darker than the other two's: "I think, that what he means is that big bike of your mum's, you can drive that, can't you? With the little trailer, so we can put Dorian's painting and the ladder on it. Dorian's light too, perhaps he can even sit on it as well, he can."
Pleased with this idea, Dorian nodded again. He was the brains of the trio and he would be doing the breaking and entering all alone, since John-Paul's mum had expressly forbidden her son to steal anything again after The Cake Incident. And Bonham, while loyal to a fault and Dorian's best friend in the entire world, was a bit too clumsy to move about as silently as would be required. With this in mind it seemed only fair that Dorian wouldn't have to pedal a bike too, but would be able to ride in a more befitting style.
"Excellent, Bonham. Now, I was thinking that you would come with me up to here--" Again he indicated on the blueprint. He was, however, very careful not to actually touch the map which Bonham had so meticulously drawn of the house they intended to target. Crayon smudges were so difficult to wash off - and blue was especially noticeable against Dorian's white clothes.
And in this manner the Dorian Gang (which later on would be known as the Eroica gang and feared by museums and private collectors everywhere) planned their very first heist.
They had to choose the time to strike at their target with uttermost care. Finally an opportune moment presented itself. Dorian's mother took his sisters, also known as The Three Terrors, off to visit their grandmother. Sometimes she insisted on Dorian coming with them and to be honest he quite liked his grandmother, Lady Pennsylpha Blackfollier. At least she always seemed pleased to see Dorian and would sometimes take him away from the gaggle of sisters for a private walk and talk in her garden. Alas, sometimes art demands sacrifices. Visiting grandmothers could wait; stealing paintings could not.
Dorian pretended to be ill - and his mother had bought his act without question, wanting only to get away from him as not to be infected. Once mother and sisters were safely Essex-bound, Dorian had rapidly recovered and pleaded with John-Paul's mum, who worked in the Gloria House kitchen, to let John-Paul sleep over with him and Bonham. Bonham and his mum, their Head Cook, already lived at Gloria House, so there was no need to ask Mrs. Bonham. Besides, Bonham's mum doted on Dorian like on a second son - or, Bonham would grumble sometimes - a daughter. She denied him nothing. When Dorian had explained to her that he and Bonham and John-Paul were going to play Explorers all evening in the attic and then sleep in Dorian's tent somewhere up there, she had just smiled and put together an enormous food basket for her brave explorers.
The toughest part had been that they had to go to sleep early. Normally they would have played - maybe Explorer, maybe Thieves (Dorian's favourite game) or maybe something else - until at least as late as ten on such a beautiful, mother-and-sisters-free evening. But Dorian showed no mercy, neither to his men nor to himself. They went to bed at the completely unimaginable hour of seven … All right, so they might have giggled and whispered under the blankets for a mite longer than that, but all three of them were asleep when the alarm finally beeped at half past ten. At first they were still very, very sleepy, but soon the excitement had them clear-eyed. Eating heartily from the provisions courtesy of Mrs. Bonham also helped. And then, at last, did they make their daring escape from Gloria House.
By then it was at least eleven o'clock. The rest of Gloria House was more or less asleep. As he settled his bum on the trailer Dorian glanced back at the house, but only one, lone window still glimmered faintly, high up to the right. Mr. Murth, the gardener, and Mr. McKenzie, the driver, lived there. Dorian wasn't overly concerned that they would be spotted, though, as almost the entire path they'd take was out of sight from the lit window.
The ever so brilliant Bonham had managed, somehow, to tie both his and John-Paul's bikes before the little trailer. That way they wouldn't have to borrow John-Paul's mum's bike, even if he could have managed it. Of course, this meant that the trailer wasn't as steady as it otherwise would have been and it took the boys a bit of manoeuvring to get the vehicle moving. Then they were on their way, John-Paul and Bonham pumping furiously on their pedals and Dorian hanging on to the trailer for dear life while balancing the ladder and the food basket as well as trying his best not to let on that he was actually rather uncomfortable. Appearance was everything, so instead of complaining about how it hurt each time his bum slammed into the seat with every pothole in the uneven road, he kept a fixed, bright smile and shouted encouragement to his trusted steeds, eh, minions, eh, friends.
At the quickest speed possible for two boys on bikes, pulling a third boy on a trailer, the gang made their way towards their goal, scaring a good number of people on their way, but managing to avoid the attention of the police and anyone else who might have tried to stop them. Just past the bridge and off the large park, they finally drew to a halt, all three wide-eyed with expectation about the adventure ahead of them.
The Castle belonging to Lord Price, betrayer of deals, lay before them and this time Dorian would not leave without his Young Shepherd!
Since it was July the Dorian Gang didn't have school. It was also a Wednesday, because Dorian had overheard his father mention - oh, all right, scream - to his mother that Wednesdays was the day that Lord Price was always away visiting with some friend of his. Dorian's father had accompanied him sometimes and Dorian wasn't quite sure why his parents had yelled about the visits, but that hardly mattered. What mattered was that the treacherous Lord Price was away on Wednesday evenings.
Dorian's hands shivered in anticipation, he was so eager to get going. But first things first. First they must Stake Out the house, just like on the telly.
Bonham, who of the three was the most trusted by his mum, had been out there two other Wednesdays already, Staking Out - that was when he had drawn the blueprints of the house, sneaking around as much as possible so they would know where to make their entry. He had also borrowed his mum's watch and written down when he saw people move about and especially leave and turn off lights. Based on this, the Dorian Gang had decided to strike at 12:00 - a time that had been unanimously changed to 12:03, after that they had seen an episode of Warfare and learned that an uneven time would give a much better element of surprise.
He wasn't scared as much as, well, a bit nervous. After all, his last attempt to steal the Young Shepherd hadn't ended well at all. Dogs had hunted him, which had been really scary. But that was almost a year since. He was much older and wiser now and John Smith had taught him a lot about stealing. And - best of all - today Dorian had brought his army of two along, to stand by his side and make sure he did not fall. A small army, by some standards, but he knew both Bonham and John-Paul would love him and be loyal to him forever and that was all that mattered.
"Time," Bonham announced, pushed his mother's watch into his breast pocket and lifted the ladder. "Keep an eye out, John-Paul, and don't forget the secret warning sound."
"Hoo hoo!" John-Paul hooted, just like a real owl. He was really good at sounding like birds.
And then, they were off. Bonham and Dorian rushed to the street, stopped only momentarily to look right - left – right and then they rushed across the asphalt and up to the low brick wall surrounding the Price Castle. Bonham put down the small ladder and they swiftly climbed it, Bonham pulling it up behind them and - with a bit of tricky manoeuvering, got it down to the lush grass on the opposite side.
They surveyed the area and quickly sneaked over to the main building, where Bonham's Staking Out had located the agreed upon entry point - the window on the second level which was always slightly ajar. Dorian was sure that even if Lord Price's servants knew about the window, they no doubt considered it safe enough, as the trellis outside couldn't possibly hold the weight of a grown man.
It could, however, hold the weight of a very light boy.
Especially when said boy first climbed up on a ladder as far as he could and then his best friend pushed his bum up even a bit further - and Bonham was very strong for his age.
Dorian cut his hands on the trellis, or maybe on the roses, but bravely did not cry - or at least not very much and he didn't scream at all. He just climbed the final distance to the window, managed to get his narrow hand inside and released the lock mechanism so he could get the window to open further. After a giddy moment when he was absolutely sure he would fall and break both his legs, he squirmed onto the window ledge, looking about frantically to see if anyone was inside. Luckily the room was pitch dark. The faint moonlight only illuminated the desk and a tiny part further.
His courage bolstered by the comfortable, embracing darkness beyond, Dorian slid through the window onto the desk top and down on the floor. Then he threw his hands up in victory.
Dorian, the greatest thief of all, had done it again!
Well, he still had to find the painting. A year ago, Lord Price had put it in a bank vault, but Mr. Smith had said that was probably only temporary - and it was an entire year ago, so Dorian was confident it must now be back in the house. What use was art if it could not be admired and loved each day? And he was fairly sure he should be able to find it. It had been in Lord Price's sitting room, where he had done all those things to Dorian – and then tricked him!
Just the thought made Dorian want to cry - not from sadness, but from bitter rage.
Could a criminal mastermind have an archenemy that wasn't a superhero? But it wasn't as if Dorian was a bad criminal mastermind. He would steal only from bad people, like Robin Hood, a good criminal mastermind! Dorian Red And His Merry Gang? No, The Dorian Gang was better, at least for now. Until he could come up with something even better.
Right, enough dawdling. Time to go rescue that painting.
"[Pardon me, but who are you?]"
Dorian's heart nearly burst out his throat as it jumped in fear at the unexpected voice floating in from the darkness. He squeaked out loud, but did not scream at all like a little girl.
"[I'm sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you. I'll turn on the light.]"
The voice was high and soft and Dorian wasn't sure if it was a boy or a girl, but then a very pale light came on almost directly in front of him and once he had blinked a few times he could see better. The room was bare and a little damp, not a nice room at all. Apart from the table he had crawled across on his way in and the chair below it, there was a tiny bookshelf and then the bed, which was also tiny. Just large enough for the small boy who was now sitting up and gazing at Dorian through a thick fringe of dark hair.
At least Dorian thought it was a boy, because he was so cute, though in truth it might have been a girl, the fine features made it difficult to say for sure. Dorian hoped not. Girls were so silly.
"[Who are you? What are you doing here?]"
The floating syllables sounded familiar to Dorian. It wasn't English and he only recognized very few of the words, but he had spent a summer in Florence with Mother and The Three Terrors - though most of the two months following around the very handsome Gianni, the driver. He didn't remember much, but he did remember some words.
"[I'm Dorian. Who are you?]"
His struggling Italian earned him a brilliant, if slightly tremulous smile.
"[My name is Giacomo. What are you doing here?]"
By then, however, Dorian's vague grasp of the Italian language had already abandoned him. He shook his head.
The little boy - Dorian was now positive that it must be a boy, no girl would have been so nice and comfortable to talk with in a foreign language - made a sad face. Dorian wanted to hug him. Then he said, his voice wavering: "[I don't belong here, but I have nowhere else to go. I don't want to go back to the orphanage. Lord Price does things to me I don't like. I just want to be left alone with my books. I thought, perhaps, that you had ... come to rescue me.]" One of his eyes had a dark rim around it, as if someone had hit him. The other gazed pleadingly at Dorian.
And even if Dorian didn't understand all of the spoken words, some part of him did understand that gaze.
"What are you doing?" John-Paul screeched, when they had climbed down the ladder and crossed the road again. "That's not a painting, that's a boy!"
"I know, isn't it great?" Dorian replied, his blood rushing so quick from the excitement that he was almost sure he would faint any minute now. "I stole him!" In the flush of his triumph he decided not sully the moment by explaining that he hadn't been able to find the painting.
John-Paul's eyes widened even further and his mouth opened as if he was about to say something. Then his eyes went over Dorian's shoulder, towards Bonham. Dorian did not look back, but presumed that Bonham made some gesture or something, because then John-Paul closed his eyes for a moment, sighed heavily and visibly took a huge breath. "We'll think of something when we get home. Mum won't like this. What's his name, then?"
Dorian frowned. He thought back to those hot days in Italy and what he had learned then. Giacomo was Italian for, for ... "James. His name is James. And he's ours now. Prepare the getaway car."
As John-Paul turned to the bicycles and Bonham went to help him, Dorian faced the fourth boy. He was now dressed in his pyjama pants and Dorian's bright red jacket and he had his books clasped to his chest. They were in Italian and he had refused to leave them behind. Dorian didn't know what they were about, but there was an awful lot of numbers on the front of the one he could see.
"[Your name is James,]" he said. He wanted to say a lot more, to explain what was happening and what they were going to do, but that was simply too complicated for his limited Italian. "[I'm Dorian. I love you.]"
The boy had pushed his fringe to the side, so it hid his hurt eye. Now he gazed lovingly at Dorian with one eye only. "[My name is James. I love you too. Oh, I knew you had come to rescue me! You're so heroic!]"
And by chance, Dorian's father had once caught him listening to a piece of music he especially enjoyed and had told him the name of Beethoven's third symphony - and what the name meant in English.
"Eroica. Heroic. Eroica." Dorian tasted the word slowly, how it fit on his tongue and spilled from his mouth. "Eroica. I like the sound of that."
And in this manner The Dorian Gang, which would very soon be renamed The Eroica Gang, performed their very first heist.
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