Indiana Jones And The Stolen Treasure
(or - From Mutt With Love)
Author's disclaimer and notes: I don't own them, I just dream of doing so. Feedback is better than Strawberry Dreams. 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. 21.062 words. Written in June 2010.
Warning: Indiana Jones is actually only briefly mentioned in this story. But I couldn't resist the title. Bad me.
For Connotations. First published in the Connotations con zine of 2010.
Betaed by Heather Sparrows, Kadorienne and Cassie Ingaben - thank you all of you!! Remaining errors are all mine.
For Kadorienne on her birthday 2010.
Scarlet Macaws calling. Prolonged screams from spider monkeys. Dark, repetitive Jaguar coughs. And the clear smatters of 5.56 mm assault rifles.
As I ran at my top speed over the uneven ground, one hand pressing the fedora to my skull, I reflected that one of the above mentioned sounds didn't belong in the humid heat of the Amazon rainforest.
Before we continue, allow me to introduce myself, lest you think I'm some military gun-maniac or possibly a noble-blooded art thief hunting for hidden treasures. Um ... Okay, so I do hunt for hidden treasures and I like guns as much as the next guy, but I'm neither of the men you're probably thinking of.
The name's Mutt.
No, not Mutti, I'm nobody's mother. Male all the way, babe, and happy to show you, if we get a few hours. Which, judged by how those abovementioned barks keep getting closer, probably won't be for quite a while. Those are Neo-Nazis, you know. Always Neo-Nazis, I don't understand why the fuckers just won't give up already? Hitler's been dead for the last four decades! Segregation is on the decline. Go with the flow!
So, anyway, the name's Mutt. Well, that's what people call me, anyway. Mutt by nature; Mutt by name.
Down! Down! Boy, that was close! Left! More to the-- Right! Right! Right! Boy, that was even closer!
Henry "Mutt" Jones the third, at your service.
Currently in the jungles of Peru, working for the US government trying to track down an old Nazi treasure. Only the newbie Nazis found out. They caught our expedition, but I escaped - I'm good at that - and now they are hunting me like a pack of stoned terriers.
My name? Don't sweat it. Hey, it could be worse. My father was nick-named after the family dog. Indiana.
Mutt wasn't rushing blindly through the jungle. No, he knew exactly where he was and exactly where the direction would take him. The Temple of Göring, a pyramid-like structure built back in the 1940's to keep treasures safe for Das Tausendjährige Reich. To get there would have been considerably easier if he hadn't have to haul along a backpack loaded with artefacts purloined from the pursuing Neo-Nazis. The burden wasn't just a nuisance, though - it might very well be what kept him alive, as no bullets had ripped him to shreds yet. Even the stupidest Neo-Nazi - and there were some remarkably stupid characters among them - must now have been sharply admonished not to risk hitting the artefacts. Not that the trinkets kept a protective shield around him or rapidly returned projectiles boomerang-fashion or some other such useful trick - it was always nice when artefacts did that. No, the only way into the treasure chamber of Göring's Temple was by use of Mutt's safeguards, unless one wanted to blow up parts of the pyramid - risky business to start with and almost guaranteed to damage the multitude of priceless art treasures stored within.
He fell on slippery ground, rolled and leaped back up. Felt the fedora. Kept going. As he ran he decided on a simple plan: reach the pyramid first, get inside and then trust the many traps - which he himself would be able to bypass - to take care of his pursuers.
Or he could, of course, just stop and stand very still, apart from slowly raising his hands above his head. He might be carrying the artefacts, but that didn't help matters, seeing that the six M16s all appeared aimed towards his knees. He wouldn't survive long with his legs shot off.
"Herr Jones," was said from beyond the wall of assault rifles. "You run quickly, but you can not outrun a Jeep taking the road." The voice had a heavy German accent, sprinkled with hard k's and misplaced z's.
Well, he hadn't known there was a road, had he? No one had mentioned a road to him! There sure hadn't been any roads on the map he had been given.
"Herr Wessel," he replied shortly. "Apparently not."
Herr Wessel stepped out from the throng: a tall, wide-shouldered man with short, white flaxen hair and silver blue eyes. Old Adolf would have approved. He wasn't German, though, Mutt knew, as he had researched the man while preparing for his mission. Regardless of the guttural accent the man wasn't any more German than Coca Cola. Born and raised - probably bred as well - in Seattle, Washington, of predominantly Italian stock with a bit of Danish thrown in for good measure. First time they met it had been all Mutt could do not to spill his knowledge with some joke about the Seattle Seahawks, but he figured he'd better wait until an opportune moment presented itself - such as when the man wasn't peeved enough to have Mutt summarily executed.
"Hand them over," he was ordered. Herr Wessel imperiously held out a hand – but then pushed one of the grunts to step forward instead. Not wanting to present Mutt with the opportunity to seize too valuable a hostage, no doubt. Or perhaps the man was just a yellow-feathered chicken. Mutt decided not to make chicken noises either. He just handed over the rucksack to the soldier - who could have been Herr Wessel's younger brother, at least as far as looks were concerned.
After having checked the contents of the backpack, Herr Wessel nodded and said, "Good decision, Herr Jones. Now I will allow you to accompany us to the temple. As a favour from one art lover to another. Then we will kill you."
The idiots still hadn't figured out that Mutt couldn't care less about the paintings. Well, that wasn't completely true, but at least given the circumstances. No, what Mutt was after was the true treasure of Göring's Temple. Something far more valuable and important than any painting could ever be, lovely lady Gioconda included. On the other hand, since the alternative of summary execution still hovered, Mutt smiled brightly. "Thank you, Herr Wessel. I appreciate that."
As they led him to the road two guards pressed their gun muzzles against Mutt's spine and then forced him to lie prone on the bed of the jeep, rather than sit among the rest. Not a very comfortable position to be in as the ride wasn't exactly on the smooth side. But up the road they went, for what felt like forever, until the car finally stopped. "Hol' ihn aus dem Auto!" Mutt heard Herr Wessel order and then he was rather abruptly lifted out of the jeep. The hands let go and he dropped, only barely catching his balance.
Before him, rising a very impressive forty meters above the ground, stood the temple of Göring. A narrow-based pyramid; half overgrown with vegetation, but out from the lushness jutted a top of obsidian. The sides were smooth, rather than the stepped pyramids normally found in Mesoamerican cultures. And in the very middle rose a tower - rather phallic, in Mutt's opinion, an additional five meters in height. Over everything curved the mountain itself, like a protective shield or the hood of a teased cobra.
The twin gun pipes poked at his back, so he started walking, following Herr Wessel up the impressive stairs that led to the entrance of the pyramid. On each side eagle statues stood on guard - an uncommon sight in the Amazon jungle. Above the massive, iron wrought gate hung a huge plaque. The words were in German, which Mutt wasn't fluent in, but he got the gist of "Lasst, die ihr eintretet, alle Hoffnung fahren". He could also see plainly the name of Adolf Hitler towards the bottom.
So, what would Father do in a situation like this? Not let the Neo-Nazis get the treasure, that was for sure. Or at least not that one, select part of it. That would be Bad with a capital B. Improvise! Well, it's a bit too early for that. Lead the Nazis on and then improvise. Better plan! He had always been good at improvising. Family tradition, his father always claimed. "Yes, of being bloody stupid," was his dear mother's contribution.
All of them went inside. It wasn't as if there was any point in leaving a guard by the vehicle, for fear of car thieves.
In theory the ascent to the treasure chamber involved a short walk straight ahead, then to the right, to the right, to the right, then another short walk straight ahead - all the way slanted upwards - and then up, up, up the spiral stairs to the tower. Easy as pie. Except, of course, for the traps.
Whoever had designed the pyramid apparently had the notion that the Egyptians used traps to keep unwanted people away from their dead relatives and treasures. Not completely inaccurate, as Mutt knew well from bitter experience. On the other hand - there is such a thing as overdoing it and whatever the architect's name, the man had definitely been of the belief that the more the merrier. Despite the artefacts painstakingly collected by Mutt and now stolen by the Neo-Nazis (to be fair, Mutt had stolen quite a few from the Neo-Nazis in the first place) and despite also having the original map and instructions from the anonymous architect, the expedition lost two men to sharp poles suddenly flung from various directions; the giant snake ate another one and a fourth was smashed to red and white paste when part of the roof unexpectedly slammed down. What the fifth died of, Mutt wasn't entirely sure of, but the screams had been horrific. Near the entrance skeletons had lain scattered about - often partly crushed with crucial parts missing. Farther in the number of old corpses rapidly diminished, probably due to the sheer difficulty of actually getting that far.
But finally the remains of the expedition had ventured the twisted path and before them was another black wrought-iron gate, this one spanned by the majestic Reichsadler. In Mutt's backpack remained only two rubies, each the size of a fist and set on small squares of blackened silver. When Herr Wessel motioned for him, Mutt surrendered these final artefacts to a soldier, another WAD, as Mutt had baptised them, Walking Aryan Dreams (or Dickheads). The WAD sweated profusely when he approached the German Eagle with the rubies, carefully inserting one into the left empty eye socket and then waiting exactly ten seconds before inserting the other one to the right. Mutt found the guy's nervousness understandable, especially considering what had happened to dead Neo-Nazi number four.
Despite the very real danger of a suddenly collapsing ceiling or some other such quick - or slow - way of demise, it wasn't the pending danger that made Mutt's heart speed up just a little. Moments like this were what he lived for. What Ox had whispered about in his ears while telling him bedtime stories. What his mother had used as examples when teaching him math. What his father - his real father, not the man he for most of his youth had believed to be his father - had worked for; had lived and breathed for. The thing that made Mutt himself get up in the morning. The Discovery. The Treasure. Beyond the black gate wasn't the Holy Grail - his father and grandfather had been together for that one - or proof of alien existence - that one he had been along for -, but what he hoped to find was more than good enough for Mutt. The hidden treasure beyond, seen by no man for forty years - waiting, biding ... Over centuries lost and found repeatedly - put to use, then forgotten; ridiculed and yet revered.
I just have to get it away from these SS wannabes. Then off to a place he and his employers deemed safe, where it wouldn't be misused - or used in the first place.
Click! Click! Click, click, click! Click! Click!
The WAD hastily tore out the eagle's right eye and then fumbled, but managed to get the left one out as well within the five second grace period.
Then total, utter silence. Everyone must be holding their breath, listening, waiting - fearing.
Finally - click! And the doors, closed for nigh on four decades, slowly began to glide open with a raspy, ghostly grind.
As one, the ten survivors moved closer. According to the architect the uppermost chamber should be safe. The man had wanted to add some traps there as well and had actually started on a complicated system of tilting floor boards that would set off an acid rain if navigated carelessly, when apparently someone with a little sense and authority had vetoed the idea. Not because of the death of six native workers, but because of the potential destruction such a rain would wreak on the precious treasures. Apparently, the architect had sulked about this for several days and while the top floor had been left void of machines of death and havoc, the man of the calming influence, a Herr Wilhelm Meyer, had died in his tent the day after the sealing of the great pyramid, impaled by four spears while dying from six venomous snake bites.
Oh so slowly the door slid open.
What would they see first? Not the brilliant colours of the paintings, of course. No, no, the masterpieces - Da Vinci, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Raphael, Albertinelli and the list went on and on - would be carefully wrapped to be protected against dust, humidity and insects. There would be sculptures, though. And there would be jewels - gold and brilliance of all kinds, even if those, too, would have been dulled after the many years. There would be multitudes of other packages too, in less regular shapes.
The door opened. And they saw ...
Without anyone seeming to take the first step, they all moved inside. Looking around. Looking for the knee-high piles of paintings and crowds of statues and mounds of treasures. Looking in vain. Until ...:
"Tzere es somethink on tze floor," said one of the WADs, his fake German accent so thick that Mutt had to work hard to decipher the syllables. The man pointed towards a small, white rectangle on the floor near one of the windows.
They moved over there, with Mutt and Herr Wessel in the lead. They had to circle to read the note properly.
"There's a big, honking black thing out there!" one of the WAD's cried out and his German accent now sounded suspiciously as if emanating from New Jersey.
Mutt glanced out the window and then, even as his mind processed the meaning of the big, honking black thing out there, moved his eyes towards the little rectangle - a note in fine paper, with a beautiful, calligraphic message on it, short and to the point.
While a helicopter would crash against the outcropping rock above the pyramid, and a plane couldn't have held still long enough - not to mention the crash thing - a Zeppelin had no such trouble. And the window they looked out through, Mutt realised, had no glass, just an empty frame.
He was still processing the meaning of the note, when he started implementing his grand escape plan.
"So, Fritz? I hear the wide receiver for the Seahawks is a wide receiver for the entire team, if you know what I mean?"
ALL THESE TREASURES LYING ABOUT AND NO ONE TO CHERISH THEM. I WILL TAKE THE BEST CARE OF THEM.
Blank, blue eyes, uncomprehending as of yet, turned towards him. Obviously, Herr Wessel wasn't particularly quick on the uptake. Mutt didn't hesitate. He knocked down the nearest WAD and jumped out the window. Falling free from the black stone column, he grabbed his whip - another thing he'd learned from dear old dad to always carry - and prepared to use it to catch some vegetation in order to slow his descent.
Fuck, how will I get it now? flashed through his mind. Then he was too busy to think of anything but survival.
Dorian was utterly pleased. On returning home from South America he had been exhausted to the bones, but after a full 14 hours of sleep, another shower, a grand breakfast - because James was fairly bopping around at the sight of all that gold which Dorian would happily let him sell as Dorian had no actual interest in it. The monetary value would put them in the black for several months, if frugally spent - and apart from during this first hazy glory of joy James would see to the frugal part, damn him.
But Dorian would not dwell on harder times, with lean breakfasts and no elevenses. Not now, when he still had all these lovely treasures to uncover. And each piece wrapped, just for him. He would take his time, drag out each unveiling, making the entire day a long, lovely, glorious Christmas in June. He knew some of the objects that awaited discovery, of course. At least one Caravaggio, one Da Vinci, two Botticellis - but who knew what else hid there? Most of them ill-gotten treasures, stolen from their rightful owners. That normally didn't bother him in the slightest, since he was a thief himself, but this was different, as the original owners might really have cared for the objects, perhaps even loved them as much as Dorian himself would, once he saw them. But after all this time most of the owners must be dead, sadly, so the art would be better off with him, regardless.
Damn you, Major von dem Eberbach and your iron cold sense of right and wrong. If the man influenced Dorian into considering such pesky details - wasn't it fair that Dorian would be allowed to influence the good major in turn? Make that handsome devil more appreciative of the beautiful things in life - such as Dorian? Not much sign of that happening so far, even if Dorian could have sworn he'd caught Klaus's eyes darting up from Dorian's behind once when Dorian checked in a mirror. Which he found promising.
So Dorian took plenty of time with his treasure trove. The still wrapped objects lined the large drawing room - rows upon rows of them. His gang had had to work frantically for nearly two hours to load the Zeppelin. Now Dorian would select one parcel at random, take it to his desk, try to judge by the size and shape and weight what the bundle might contain and only then slowly unwrap it to properly enjoy his new possession. The wrapping material he put on a pile to the right, to where James would occasionally come and take them away, presumably to sell them or put them in store to be reused at actual Christmas. To the left Dorian ordered the treasures themselves in two piles - to keep and to sell. Bonham and Beck would deal with those, respectively. So far the "to keep" pile outsized "to sell" by three to one.
Dorian finally put down the rather sweet but not particularly exciting set of Hokusai prints in the "to sell" pile and slowly ventured over to the stacks of as of yet unopened goodies. What next? Not another painting, variety was the spice of life. Though not one of the jewel cases either, nor a sculpture ... Hmm ... That long, narrow packet looks interesting.
It was about four feet in length and maybe eight inches across. A roll of some sort? A painting? A scroll? He took the packet. Gentle pressure didn't hint at anything either. Turning it over to try to get a feel for the weight shift inside - something towards one side definitely unbalanced the rest - he walked back to his desk and gently put it down before rounding the desk and sitting.
He ran a finger over the still dusty oil cloth, anticipating what neat little thing might lay within. The shape was difficult. Too light for a sculpture - unless made in some very fine material. Ivory? Except for that one, heavy part. But if it was ivory it ought to be better protected, to keep the material safe from bumps.
Very curious ... Maybe a sword? Yes, that would explain everything. But that was far from certain.
Mind a-whirl with the possibilities, he regarded the knot holding the nearest strand of rope together. The rope wouldn't just slide off, so he would either have to undo the knot or cut it. Cutting was rather inelegant, so he would rather not. His fingers were nimble and his mind clever. Surely he should be able to open one measly knot. In a way it was a challenge as well, one he must easily win if he was to keep his name as the greatest art thief on Earth. Where would he be if he allowed some threads to defeat him? Besides, James yelled at him when he cut the ropes, as that made them less valuable to sell.
He had just begun to work, when the door burst open and in marched the light of Dorian's love, fair of face and strong of body. Dorian let go of the packet.
"Where is it, you slimy pervert?"
Dorian's very foul-mouthed, loud-voiced and overall rather reluctant light of love. Oh well, a thornless rose is always of lesser beauty.
"Upstairs and newly made with cashmere and angora wool."
By now Klaus was almost by the desk, but the easy admittance seemed to stump him, because he stopped and frowned. "Why would you make it with cashmere and angora?" he asked, sounding suspicious.
"Because it's a rather nice feeling against one's naked skin, I find."
Those lovely, oh so green eyes widened and the major actually took a small step back. "Pervert," he said, in something that was almost a sigh. His tone held a hint of amazement. "You really are a pervert."
"So you tell me often. Why do you sound so surprised now? But if you think cashmere and angora - German angora, I might add - are perverted, well ... I honestly don't know what to say. Satin is so ... gauche. Flannel can be comfortable when it's very cold, but I do believe most of Earth's population would agree with me that cashmere and angora are vastly to be preferred. In fact, if a perversion is something that most people would disagree with, you yourself might be considered a pervert if you instead prefer some rougher material, dear."
"I don't use cloth to rub case reports over my body!"
Dorian blinked. "Ah ... That's an interesting denial of an admittedly somewhat unusual kink, darling. Ah ... But I'm beginning to wonder if we might just possibly be talking about different things here."
"I don't do that! You said-- Ah ..." Klaus's eyes narrowed. "What were you talking about, in cashmere and angora?"
"My bed, of course. Shall I show it to you?"
He made as if to rise, when Klaus growled and came at him with speed. As if by their own accord, Dorian's hands grabbed the precious packet on the desk and pulled it back with him, hopefully out of harm's way. "Major! Stop!"
Somewhat to Dorian's surprise, Major von dem Eberbach actually did stop. Raised fists slowly began to sink.
He probably needs my help stealing something, Dorian deduced. So he can't beat me senseless right now. He probably just remembered. Oh, brilliant. I do so love having him at my mercy. Not that he would push too much, but it was so much fun to watch Klaus grit his teeth and try to control his instinctive reactions when Dorian tested his boundaries. Dorian knew he shouldn't do that, but he couldn't help himself. He had never felt the slightest inclination for pulling at some girl's braids when he was a child, but to ruffle a major's feathers held no end of fascination to him. An image from a very strange dream he had once had, involving Klaus in pig tails, rose in his mind and he had to smile.
"Sit down," he invited and gestured to the chair in front of his desk.
He expected to get growled at again - and perhaps have a few demands or accusations hurled at him, but Major von dem Eberbach merely went over to the chair and plunked that tight bottom of his down. Behind him, Dorian noticed Bonham glance in from the right side of the door - and John Paul from the left.
Whatever he wants me to do must be awfully important, Dorian thought. Most interesting. And tempting. "You will join me for a cup of tea, won't you? No, no, don't turn me down, I insist."
"Major? A cup of tea?"
To his surprise he got a jerky nod in reply. "Really, major? Tea? Are you sure you wouldn't prefer some Nescafe?"
"... I would prefer some Nescafe."
Dorian would have thought as much. "Jolly well, then. Ah ... John Paul? Tea for me and Nescafe for the major. Quick now."
John Paul's face rapidly disappeared. Dorian turned back to his guest "There. It won't take but a minute. It's just about tea time anyway. And Nescafe for you takes hardly any time at all to fix."
"Right-o. Major, ah ... So, what object wouldn't you rub against your body covered in cashmere and angora wool?"
"All of them."
Oh, one of Klaus's delightful, dry remarks, always delivered so matter-of-fact that Dorian often had to think things over before understanding them. How some people claimed Klaus had no sense of humour Dorian would never understand.
"Likely true, that. Myself, I could think of any number of things I wouldn't mind trying it with, but that can wait until our relationship has matured somewhat."
"I--" Klaus's eyes looked sharp for a moment, then the sheen died.
"As I said, that can wait."
Something about the reply worried Dorian. Yes? That wasn't what Klaus should have said. "Are you feeling well, Major?"
"Ah, good. Ah ... I was referring to the object you presumed I had. The case report. What is it?"
"It contains blue prints of the Regierungsbunker. With the hidden access tunnel."
"Oh, that sounds nice. Well, I don't have it. Why did you think I had?"
"Fatso did, not I. There was a break-in at NATO headquarters. You broke in there in the past."
"That might be, my dear, but I haven't claimed sole ownership of NATO headquarters. Not yet. Do you desire me to do so?"
"I thought not. Besides, the Rogues' Gallery charges very steeply for sole stealing rights. I'm not sure I could afford your headquarters." The quaint little town of Eberbach had been expensive enough; James had cried for days afterwards. "And military secrets are just not my thing, dear. They don't look decorative on my walls and they don't make my eyes look even bluer by wearing them. Though if they lure you to visit me more often, perhaps I should steal one every now and then."
Silence. Green eyes watched him unerringly, but that was all. Dorian cleared his throat.
"So, from Eroica with love - good luck in finding those papers, I'm sure they are terribly important. Do you have any other leads?"
"Oh, you're making me jealous, thinking of other thieves. Perhaps I should go to the Rogues' gallery after all. At least tell me I'm the only thief you ask to steal for you."
"You are the only thief I ask to steal for me."
Dorian blinked. "So, does this mean you would rather not stay for tea?"
"I'm crushed. Truly. Well. I'll let you take a rain check on the tea then. You know you are always welcome here, but I do have some unwrapping to do and I'm sure you are eager to get on with your mission."
"Fare thee well, my love," Dorian said and smiled his best, sexiest smile. "I'll see you when the rain falls."
Klaus did that funny little head-bow of his. "When the rain falls," he said, then did an about-face and marched off.
Dorian leaned back in his chair, admiring the lovely display of the retreating man. Absolutely mouth-watering. As he watched, he lightly stroked the wrapped packet in his hands, feeling the rough material both a metaphor and a keepsake for the rough-edged man leaving him.
A man who had acted surprisingly ... subdued ... during the meeting. Strange, that. Peculiar.
Klaus marched out from the castle, wiping a drop of sweat from his forehead. At the opposite side of the lane stood their rented Mercedes. Agent A stood beside it, watching his approach.
"Did it work, sir? Was it the Earl?"
"No. Any new intel?"
"No, sir. What now?"
"We await new orders from HQ," Klaus said and rounded the car to get into the passenger seat. "Return to the Ritz. No talking."
The visit had gone fairly well. Sure, it would have been better if the Earl had confessed and handed over the documents. To be perfectly honest, though, Klaus hadn't thought the fop had stolen the reports. It looked more like an inside job. Fatso had insisted that he check up on their "usual suspect", though, so Klaus had reluctantly obeyed. Sometimes he suspected that Fatso enjoyed making him go to Eroica. But the Earl - shockingly enough! - had made no indecent proposals and Klaus hadn't even had to have tea with him.
Idiot! Inviting me for tea. Who does he think he is? Dimwit!
Not that the coffee next suggested had been much better. Yet - for some strange, bizarre reason - he had accepted. Why had he accepted? He wasn't sure. That worried him. Especially combined with other, undeniable, physical evidence.
God forbid, was the fop ... getting to him?
"Faint dizziness, warmth all over and a hammering heart. A, what would you say this indicates?"
"A flu, sir. Ah, is this an impromptu test on health awareness, sir? Should I have studied this?"
Klaus felt so relieved that he didn't even answer. He could have, have ... patted A's shoulder!
"Or the person might be in love, sir."
Dorian sat at his desk again, slowly sipping his tea, properly savouring the flavour. Earl Red, the amusingly named variety of Earl Grey, with red bergamot and hibiscus. As far as he knew, the blender didn't even know of him or else he would have sent a thank you note. Of course, Red was his surname, not part of his title, but it was close enough to be amusing. To be honest it wasn't the best brew he had ever tried, but once in a while his narcissistic side won out and he ordered a pot to be prepared. Actually, it would have amused him greatly if Klaus actually had gone off his rocker and had tea with him, to casually mention the name of the brand once Klaus had swallowed. Perhaps tell him that there were other flavours of an Earl named Red that he might also appreciate - possibly even prefer.
In between sips Dorian worked on the knots on the still hidden treasure. They had proven more difficult than he had anticipated, having once been pulled very tight or perhaps dampened, so that the rope had all but glued together. He had damaged one nail already. I must tell Rudy that I want a manicure tonight. But I'll unwrap the rest first. Finally he reached for the gold and brass bullet that balanced on its flat end by the phone, pulled out the golden bullet part, revealing the small knife at its end. He intended to give the trinket to Klaus one day, but so far no opportunity had presented itself.
The blade was tiny, but sharp enough to easily cut the ropes. Hopefully James would still be able to sell the parts and would not be too upset. Dorian dropped the remains on the packing pile, returned the small knife to the shell sheath and continued, slowly and with great anticipation, to fold back the oil cloth. While doing so he carefully felt the contents, still trying to determine in advance what lay within. The answer eluded him, though, until he lifted the final fold of cloth - and there it was.
The reason why he'd had problems discerning the nature of the treasure had been because it was mounted on a richly decorated oak frame. Bird claws - an eagle's? - in stark, black iron wrapped possessively around it from beneath, to hold it in place. A bit over a meter in length, with a jagged back end that indicated that it once had been longer. At first Dorian thought it was a staff, because the head was made of some bright, semi-translucent material unknown to him, like a lump of dense, white crystal. The general shape of the head, though, with a certain sharpness to the sides and tip, indicated that the object was rather a spear. With an intricate work of platinum braided down the handle - only a brown shade in the broken butt and between the precious metal showed a wooden foundation. Diamonds glittered along the twisted platinum.
Dorian wasn't sure what to think. He found the mix of opulence and simplicity somewhat jarring. There was a certain elegance, true, but it also felt pointless, as if he was missing something. Almost like a piece of modern art, a cloud of colour on a canvas, with ART written across in bold letters, just in case anyone - as most people would - hesitated. A statement, rather than a true work of art. Still, the object did hold a certain fascination. A broken spear, set in platinum, crystal and diamonds ... He gently let a finger run over the metal. It was slick as if recently polished - he could see the reflection of his finger lend the metal a pinkish hue.
Contemplating the unexpected find, Dorian drank some more tea. Then the door burst open and in marched once more the reluctant light of Dorian's love.
"Darling! Twice in a day! How delightful! You are most welcome. Is it raining already? Do come in."
Klaus looked rather angry. Well, granted, he usually did, but there are degrees to things and this, Dorian rated, was an arse-pinch above Klaus's regular annoyance.
"Did you forget something, dear?"
"No! And don't call me that, you idiot!"
Klaus approached with long, determined steps. Dorian toasted him with his late period Successionist Minton cup. "Some tea? It's an excellent brand. I'm sure you'd soon get a taste for--"
"No! And shut your trap!"
The German now towered over the desk, eyes glimmering dangerously. Feeling a delicious trickle of fear, Dorian decided that whatever had Klaus's y-fronts in a bunch (white and quite spacious where it counted, Dorian had been happy to find), Klaus usually didn't yell at him in quite that tone. So Dorian rose to meet the challenge, putting down his hands as he did, on the desk and on the oak plate holding the spear.
"You're in my house, you should be more polite to me, my major," he purred. "I'll try again. Would you like some tea?"
Pale, green eyes - "witch eyes" Dorian had once heard that particular hue described as - blinked. First once, then a second time, and finally a third. Then Klaus took a step backwards. "Tea?" he said, in a much lower tone of voice. "No?"
"Then sit, so we can discuss this as adults." Or, barring that, have sex like adults.
Klaus sat. He didn't even look around for a chair, just sank down. Though he must, of course, have noted the seat behind him while he rounded it, as he didn't fall.
"So ... Why the hasty return, dear? Couldn't stay away from me, could you? I am irresistible."
Klaus's mouth opened. Then he closed it. Opened it again. No sound emerged.
"Did you forget to ask me something?" Dorian tried again. "About that funny little paper that had gone missing? The one you don't want to feel wrapped in cashmere and angora against that tempting body of yours?"
The one word answer came as a low gasp. "No."
Dorian frowned and absentmindedly ran a finger along the twin rows of diamonds that circled the top of the spear handle. Then he touched the spear head and felt the cool slickness of the unfamiliar material. "Ah, Major ..." He wasn't sure how to phrase his sudden concern. "You are behaving, ah ..." Erratically? "... as if you were a bit under the weather. And your forehead is a hint glossy. Are you feeling well?"
A miserable expression suddenly blossomed on Klaus's features. "No," he said and the next words appeared forced out with considerable effort. "I think ... I might have the flu."
Dorian pulled back. "My love, I would most happily play doctor and patient with you, but I draw the line if you're actually sick. I'm not licensed and I certainly don't want the flu. There are few things more unnecessary." He really didn't want the flu. For some reason, if anyone anywhere near him got the flu, Dorian infallibly got sick as well – and always severely and with the most bizarre side effects. The time when he lost his sense of taste for two weeks alone was enough for him never to risk this disease needlessly. Not to mention what it did to his skin and his nose and his throat and his hair and his ears. Taking his prize along, he rounded his chair to get more space between them. "If you think you have the flu, you should be in bed, yes, but not in mine. Not unless we are in a very close relationship and we're not there just yet, though more's the pity. Can whatever it is you wanted to talk to me about wait?"
"Good. Ah, will you be all right? I mean, you have some Alphabets along, don't you, who can get you to a real doctor and so on if you get worse?"
Klaus really was ill. Dorian was certain now. It scared him. Not so much the risk of getting sick himself - though he certainly didn't want to unnecessarily expose himself to flu germs. In love with Klaus he might be, but to end up for a week in bed with fever or a chill, aching bones, runny nose, red-splotchy face, cough and heartache and not even have regular sex with the guy to show for it, that would just be stupid. What frightened him was how miserable Klaus looked. Klaus never showed so much emotions. Dorian edged towards the door. "I'll fetch the Alphabets, then, and they'll help you on your way. Who is with you? A? Z? G? Then you can return to me later, when you feel better. As I said before - a rain check."
Klaus didn't even turn his head to answer him, merely said that short, sad, lost little word again.
With a shudder, Dorian left the room.
Klaus lay in his hotel room bed, staring at the white plastic ceiling above. The time wasn't even 16:00 yet, and he was supposed to sleep. Madness. He suspected very firmly that he wasn't even sick. The strange, pressing feeling of heat, his hammering heart and the way his tongue had refused to cooperate, had vanished soon enough after Agent A had sped the car on towards London. Still. He had sent off the Alphabets for the night, told them to prepare for the morrow even if he suspected that some of them would "prepare" by running around Soho and other places of ill repute in search for women and booze.
He felt fine, in fact. Annoyingly enough. Too fine. Damn those good genes of his! Was a little flu too much to ask for? Or just an itsy, bitsy cold, for that matter? A sniffle?
But since approximately 5 kilometres outside of North Downs, he had felt perfectly fine. Indicating heavily that it was the proximity to the dim-witted fop that had affected him.
Klaus breathed in firmly through his nose, but his nostrils felt just as clean as before. A quick hand to his forehead confirmed that it was now cool. Finally, a finger to his carotid artery, which pumped regularly at 35 beats a minute. Damn.
I'll give it until tomorrow, he decided. If he didn't feel worse by then, he would have to admit defeat. Or rather - admit that what he felt hadn't been illness, but something far more dangerous.
During the evening all the treasures of South America had been unveiled and Dorian's nails had been fixed. Then he had had himself an early night followed by a leisurely sleep in. The breakfast had been moderate, though far from sparse - James remained in a good mood. All in all, Dorian was happy. He still admired all his pretty, new treasures and thus felt no need to start planning a new coup. No, now he would celebrate and just enjoy himself.
I'm such a brilliant thief!
He sat on the sofa in the drawing room, looking out over his new conquests - here and there noting some that, on second thought, perhaps wasn't so fabulous after all, and could be used to bribe James with later for vital objects such as the luxurious shampoos and conditioners that James thought completely unnecessary but without which Dorian simply wouldn't survive.
A shy cough caught his interest and he looked towards the cougher. "Why, hello there, Rudy. What can I-- Oh, did you want to draw me?"
The hopeful little smile widened and Rudy nodded. "If you have the time, my lord?" He raised his drawing pad a little, as if to prove its presence.
"This is a splendid time. Perhaps we can work on this year's birthday invitations? Or did you have something specific in mind?"
Rudy shook his head. "Anything you want, my lord."
Dorian considered his options. He quite enjoyed posing for Rudy occasionally. The man had considerable talent. Not world class, perhaps, but certainly good enough to make the master copies of Dorian's birthday party invitation cards, as well as various similar things. "Nothing nude, of course, but showing off my athletic body. Maybe pose as a a famous historic figure? Though I'm no imitator. Myself, but in a historical get-up? Something dashing and romantic. Oh, I know - a Roman soldier? What do you say?"
"That'd be perfect, my lord."
Of course, Rudy found all of Dorian's suggestions perfect. Dorian had a strong suspicion that if he was to suggest that Rudy painted him dressed up as a pig farmer, chewing hay with mud up to his knees, Rudy would find this perfect as well. But Dorian never minded if someone had a crush on him - that was as things should be, really. So he indulged his "court painter".
"Maybe like this?" Dorian struck a pose.
"Oh yes, that'll work perfectly, my lord!"
Rudy would add clothes typical for the period Dorian had suggested. To make things easier for the man - and more interesting as well - Dorian unbuttoned his ruffled shirt and pushed it back to reveal his perfect physique. Rudy sat down rather quickly after that, eyes glowing with worship. He grasped his drawing pad tight and reached for one of the many pens he had brought along.
"Wait," Dorian said. "Something is missing. Oh, I know just the thing."
He went over to the mounted spear, searched for the bird claw's locking mechanism, opened it and lifted the artefact. Despite the metal and the crystal the spear was lighter than he would have thought.
"How about this? Can you use this?" He struck the pose again, this time with the spear nestled to his side.
"Oh yes, my lord! That's ... perfect!"
As most agents of his rank and experience Klaus had excellent multitasking capacity; for one he most certainly could drive a car; smoke a cigarette; grumble under his breath about both the idiocy of driving on the wrong side of the road as well as the incompetence of British drivers in general; and at the same time make a life changing decision. Or at least make an educated pro- and con-list regarding such a decision.
He had known himself to be bisexual since his late teens. One just doesn't tangle with East High Schwartz and do one's best to beat the crap out of him whilst doing one's best to keep one's hard-on away from him and admiring both the way his biceps bulged and how inviting those lips looked even as they spit blood at you, without realising a thing or two about oneself. Such as that one was a bit of a pervert, regardless.
Schwartz hadn't been an isolated incident either. Furtive glances here and there - really, really furtive glances, because Klaus had known from the start that to openly be a homosexual just wasn't an option. Not for him. Not after overhearing his father rant about the horrors of Nazis and how they were the scum of the earth - how wrong they had been. With one exception. "Too bad they didn't get around to offing more of those schwule Drecksäue, those Arschficker though," he had overheard uncle Johann say to his father - and his father had agreed! Klaus had been about ten at the time, but the episode had stayed with him until he had been old enough to properly understand the implications - and act accordingly even ten, fifteen and twenty years later. Especially so when his leaning in that direction wasn't very pronounced. He could admire a well put-together male shape - a nice width of shoulders, muscle-packed biceps, strong legs, a chest rounded with muscles rather than with soft breasts - but women appealed even more to him, in general. The urges, when they came, had been easy to suppress. His work didn't exactly invite to experimentation either - rather to blackmail, if experimentation did occur.
Or, he had reached the conclusion, at least that used to be the case.
With flamboyant, undeniably queer Eroica practically worshipping at Klaus's feet at more or less any given mission for the last couple of years, should anyone try to start to blackmail Klaus about that now, the prospective blackmailers would be laughed out of Moscow.
Uncle Johann was dead and his father ... Klaus still respected his father. Of course. He had to. He was the man's son. He didn't want to disappoint him. And he didn't want his father to hate him, loathe him or find him an abomination. But he was an adult, no longer dependent on his father. Over the years, after having found himself humming along to similar statements (not about Nazis, of course! There he drew the line with feverish devotion and refused point blank), he even nurtured an ever so faint hope that possibly, just maybe, his father had also just been humming along, in that general sort of way that men do when their colleagues, relatives and friends say something they don't exactly agree with, but don't want to rock the boat by starting an argument. His father had never said anything similar again, at least not within Klaus's hearing, and as he normally ranted about just about everything, Klaus felt justified in feeling just a little bit hopeful.
He had known he was attracted to Earl Gloria ever since their first meeting. Or on the same night, anyway, when he masturbated and found himself fantasising about mounds of golden locks, blue eyes and a deep voice which purred all sort of indecent suggestions. Since he hadn't expected to ever see the Brit again, he had let himself continue thinking about the man as he squeezed and pinched and pulled and finally came in a very satisfactory way. Which, of course, made their next encounter rather awkward ...
To actually act on the attraction, however, had never been an issue. Even with the threat of blackmail now likely eliminated; even with his growing determination not to let his father's possible reaction stop him if he actually did decide to do something; even considering that he nowadays rather often masturbated while imagining those locks and those blue eyes and those lips and those shoulders ... He just hadn't been ready to take such a step, to tie himself up that way, for that leap of faith.
But on the other hand, if he was in love ...
Even Iron Klaus wanted someone to love.
The cigarette was finished. Klaus threw the fag-end out the window, then turned the car into the long driveway up to the North Downs castle.
"My lord?" Bonham said. "The major is on his way up."
"Oh, marvellous!" Then Dorian frowned. "Does he look ill?"
"Jogged up the stairs, that's all I can say."
"Hmm. Stubborn boar that he is, he might do that anyway. Well, do let him in."
Bonham left. Dorian suddenly had an idea and an anticipatory smile widened on his lips. "You done yet, Rudy?"
"All but, my lord. I can go and--"
"No, no, do continue. This is an excellent pose. But let's make it a bit more realistic, shall we?"
And Dorian let the thin material of his shirt spill on the floor behind him before hefting the spear again. Coolness swept around him and his nipples started to stiffen, but it would be worth the momentary discomfort, he was positive.
"Say, Rudy, isn't this even better?"
"Oh yes, my lord! It's absolutely perfect!"
Suspiciously few of the fop's lap dogs tried to distract him on his way to see their master. In fact Bonham, the one Klaus found moderately useful at times, actually happened to pass him by, thus providing Klaus with a native guide through the thieves' nest. Klaus, who didn't believe in coincidences, didn't voice his suspicion regarding this, as it worked in his favour and the stocky thief led him where he had demanded to go. To the master thief himself.
"'s in there," Bonham said. He had stopped and now pointed towards the large door at the end of the corridor. Klaus continued ahead. A small twitch of paranoia suggested that he was walking into a trap. He cosseted the twitch by letting himself be on high alert, ready for anything, but he didn't let it stop him. Paranoia was a way of life for him, and if he let it rule his every move, he would very soon find himself locked up in a small, white room with no sharp objects to protect himself with when the danger actually came. So he marched up to the door, firmly informed himself that the worst thing he was likely to encounter was an orgy, threw the door open and marched inside.
And almost drew his Magnum at the sight of the wielded spear.
Only that he did identify the weapon as a spear kept him from actually making the draw. Sure, if the spear had been aimed, ready to be thrown - but it wasn't, merely held by ...
Then he took in all the naked skin - pale, yet very defined, nicely muscled body. Light blue trousers of oriental cut - naked feet, save for sandals tied with thin leather ribbons. Hair like a golden glory and those eyes, shining towards him, beckoning without words.
The spear only added to the allure, a tiny spice of danger. Klaus could have killed a would-be attacker long before a spear was even airborne, but ... why would he want to? Why would he want to kill this vision of raw sensuality and power?
He took a step closer.
"Rudy, you can go now," a warm, deep voice said and some small part of Klaus vaguely noted the red-haired thief leaving. It bothered him slightly that he hadn't seen the man prior to him actually moving. He ought to have. Normally he always checked out any room he entered, taking stock of everyone inside as well as possible hiding spots and exits and anything else that might help or hinder him on his mission. That all he had seen was the British Earl - even in his half naked state! - was a very clear sign that Klaus was losing his composure. Desperately, he sniffed the air - but his nose felt completely clean. Damn it.
On the other hand ... Love ... Klaus's stomach moved uneasily, though not in an entirely bad way.
His right foot took another step closer, then the left followed, betraying his decision to keep still until he had figured out the situation.
"Major? Is it raining already? Well, it is good old Britannia, after all. And you are always most welcome. Do you want some tea?"
Want? Tea? No? He sluggishly shook his head. His feet kept moving - slowly, but inevitably bringing him closer to the, the ... A word on his mind kept slipping away. Finally he gave up on trying to remember it. Closer to that blond hair, sparkling faintly in the light from a fire as if sprinkled by gold dust. Closer to those blue eyes, watching him with a hint of concern. Closer to ... Dorian.
"--some Nescafe? A beer? I do have some nice German stock from--"
Mouth - a little on the wide side, with lips several shades too colourful to be fully natural, a hint of teeth within. The faint dusting of yellow flaxen hair over the naked chest, so fair they contrasted even against the pale skin. Muscles bunching - not huge, but well defined and compact. Slim waist disappearing into the blue trousers which threatened to slip down the narrow hips. A vision. Perhaps a mirage. So close now ...
"Major?! Are you all right?"
Those blue eyes, so blue, so ... irresistible. The, the, the ... Dorian. Yes. Dorian. Dorian will be enough. I don't need anything else. Dorian, who took a step backwards. That was ... not good? What had ... had the, the, the ... No, what had Dorian said?
"No," he heard himself answer, sounding strangely pitiful. "I think I don't have the flu."
The major acted weirdly. Rather than striding forth, as was the man's habit, he walked slowly, cautiously as through a mine field. Rather than letting his eyes dart around the room as if fully expecting to get shot at any minute now, he stared at Dorian as if never having seen him before. Oh, Dorian was used to men staring at him. To be the subject of adoration and near-worship was a daily occurrence - an inevitability, really, especially considering his current mode of dress. Hadn't he once stopped a charging Samurai (this was during one of Klaus's stranger missions) by dropping his mantle and showing that he wore barely enough to be decent underneath?
However, Klaus had never reacted like most normal, eh ... or whatever, men. Rather than stare in awe, like he seemed to be doing now, he would yell and growl and - if Dorian was really lucky - blush. "Flush with anger", Klaus would probably call it himself, but regardless of the origin of the faint blossom on his pale cheeks, Dorian always approved.
Klaus's cheeks looked a little rosy now as well. And his eyes a bit glossy. Heavy frown lines showed where his fringe had parted. Other than that his face seemed smooth. No tense jaw muscles, no narrowness of the lips, no showing of teeth.
"I'm confused, Major. You don't think you have the flu? Ah ... What do you think you have, then?" As long as it's not contagious, I will happily play nursemaid for you.
"I ..." Now the green eyes did dart before Klaus looked down - and then they clearly widened and the gaze abruptly shot up again. Dorian contemplated commenting, perhaps assuring that he certainly didn't mind if Klaus looked - that on the contrary he very much enjoyed Klaus looking. But Klaus had the unfortunate habit of acting like a spooked horse when confronted by anything remotely resembling temptation, so he decided to keep teeth to tongue.
"What, Major? Are you sick? Come on now, answer me. If you are sick I do want to know."
Something about his question must have been wrong, for Klaus simultaneously shrugged and nodded - aborting the nod for a head shake, only to abort the head shake to complete the nod. Dorian watched with growing concern how lips moved, but no answer came forth. A spooked horse appeared an apt simile now as well, for Dorian was fairly sure that if the reluctant object of his fascination and love had been of the equine persuasion, he'd be throwing his head up and showing the whites of his eyes.
"Don't tell me then!" he blurted, his concern for the other man forcing his tongue. What on Earth is happening?
He had been asked. Had been ordered to answer. Orders he knew. Orders were safe. Orders were meant to be obeyed. He must follow orders. Especially from ... Especially since ... He felt slightly dizzy. You were supposed to feel that way when you were in love, weren't you? Only he couldn't, couldn't, not, couldn't answer. Was he sick? Some would say so, no doubt. Perhaps even his father. He himself had called the, the, the ... Dorian, that. Sick. But it wasn't a disease, was it? No sick days off for feeling a bit homosexual today. He had just about decided that his stance must be a "no", when the order was unexpectedly revoked and his teeth clacked together.
The vision before him moved. Dorian. The spear in his hand turning towards Klaus. Approaching. Would he die now? Why? But then again, why not, if that was what the, the, the ... Dorian wanted?
"Major? Why are you here?"
The head of the spear caressed gently up his side. Klaus almost gasped. The touch, like an iron brand, drew his full awareness to his skin.
"Dare I hope you found yourself unable to stay away from me?"
That he knew the answer to. Slowly, too intrigued by the knowledge that they were now close enough to touch - who had moved? Him? The, the ... Dorian? Both? - he made a conscious effort to nod.
The smile that blossomed at his admission was near blinding. Absolutely perfect teeth - some random doubt about the British dental system flittered in the far reaches of Klaus's mind, but was just as quickly dismissed as irrelevant - signalling happiness, enjoyment and interest. In him? Yes ... That was true. The, the ... Dorian had always showed interest in his body. Love? Maybe. Could be. Claimed to be. Was? But that was of no consequence, was it? The sight filled Klaus with a curious warmth which gradually spread from his chest upwards and outwards - and downwards as well. He felt ... good. Pleased by the given attention.
Love makes fools of men, another random thought occurred to him. Guard. Should always be. On. Guard. But-- Ah!
Dorian must have taken the final step separating them, for Klaus could have sworn he hadn't moved an inch. The other man was so close now that he filled Klaus's senses as if nothing else in the world existed. Well, Dorian and the spear, which now was behind Klaus, pressed across his back like a length of hot iron - burning, yet not searing. Dorian's body heat answered along Klaus's front, catching Klaus in a ring of fire, the circle complete when Dorian reached behind him and the spear shifted. Klaus couldn't know for sure, but he assumed Dorian had gripped the weapon from the other direction as well.
"Got you now." The words came in a husky whisper.
"Yes," was his answer, ripped from his mouth without thought for how such an answer could hurt.
The look on Dorian's face. Klaus automatically catalogued the emotions - amazement, worry, happiness, a hint of concern, even his old friend paranoia. The display was amazing, but ultimately meaningless, as it didn't instruct him on what to do or how to behave. So he stood still and just waited. Waited and vaguely wondered if the heat made him sweat. But heat and cold were a matter of discipline, so he stood still, even if maybe he was ill, maybe it was even the hoped-for fever he felt. The spear moved slowly, up his back, then down again over the curves of his lower back and arse, sliding gently over areas he had expressly forbidden the other to touch - but why? Why would he have tried to forbid such a thing? That was stupid, that was betrayal, because he mustn't, wouldn't, couldn't deny the, the, the Dorian anything. Besides, the whole notion of denying the man anything was ridiculous. Perhaps he had been under the influence of some enemy drug at the time? Slowly the spear reversed its former path, up over his arse again, so hot it bordered on real pain.
"If this is a joke or some part of a spy game, Major, I will spend the rest of my life making sure you regret it," was said, slowly and with great determination.
That sounded only fair. He nodded again, perfectly content with just standing there, waiting for Dorian to decide what would happen next. There could be no better place on Earth for him to be; nothing better to do; no one better to be with.
A shift, and then a hand caressed lightly over his rear. Only once and the blue eyes that he looked into narrowed as if they searched for a reaction in his face. Ought he react? How did Dorian want him to react? The touch hadn't hurt, apart from the heat. To have Dorian touch him felt good, though. Wonderful. Of course it did. Should he smile, perhaps? To indicate his acceptance? Thinking was difficult, but if Dorian wanted him to smile, he would smile. So he smiled.
Dorian still half suspected Klaus's unexpected surrender to be part of some weird plot. He meant what he had said about spending the rest of his life making Klaus regret it if this turned out to be some evil joke or horrid NATO plot. Regardless, his hand still tingled with the knowledge that he had touched Klaus intimately and, by the hesitant smile he finally received in response, this had gone down fairly well. He tried again, this time allowing his hand to linger over the firm bun that strained against the soft fabric as if yearning for his touch. Nice. Of course, he had touched that lovely arse before. On the train to Rome, primarily - of course he had copped a feel, who wouldn't have? -, but on a few other, prized occasions later as well. Priced occasions too, usually, as Klaus generally socked him one.
But the little, almost tremulous smile remained on the other's lips. Victory! And, of course, To the winner goes the spoil! He leaned in, still keeping their hips apart, not wanting to present the evidence of his arousal just yet, even if everything pointed to that Klaus would not bolt. One thing at a time. This had to be done right. He tilted his head a little and then, finally, introduced Klaus to a first kiss, sweeter than wine.
"Waaaaaaah! My lord! You're going to rape him! You're threatening him with a spear! Waaaaaaaaah!!"
James, Dorian decided right then and there, must die.
Of course, Dorian decided that James must die on a more or less weekly basis. For some reason he had great difficulty following through on these decisions. Possibly because he wasn't the murdering type, though equally possible because without James they'd die of starvation within a fortnight. This particular time, though, Dorian came closer to committing homicide than he had ever been before. The pitiful cries and wails were less deterrents than incentives.
He dragged James out of the room - half lifting him, really - and carried him towards his room, promising to give away every penny he had to charity if he saw James for the next couple of hours, no, make that days. And he made horrible threats to always go first class and eat only at the most expensive restaurants ever again. The last he shouted over his shoulder as he was already jogging back towards the drawing room, heart in his throat, so eager to continue what he and Klaus had started and yet so terribly afraid that on returning he would find the room abandoned.
Which he did.
With a very unlordlike curse - one in fact more like that of a German NATO major - he turned and ran towards the castle entrance. "John Paul," he called when he saw the man in question moving away down a corridor. "Did you see the major leave?"
"Yes, my lord. He was in a hurry, looked neither left or right, almost ran into me. I've never seen Uncle NATO looking that rattled before."
Dorian swore again. He heard John Paul's voice raised in query, but instead marched back towards the room where something so very close to one of his most treasured daydreams had taken place. Of course, in the daydream James hadn't interrupted, but things had progressed satisfactorily and he usually came somewhere around the time the dream played out with him rather enthusiastically taking Klaus's virginity in front of the open fire, with the German moaning, shuddering, begging for more and clinging to his shoulders.
Eh ... Okay, so nothing said that Dorian's daydreams-cum-masturbation-fantasies must be very realistic, only that they had to be hot.
Though there had been something decidedly and deliciously submissive about the German's behaviour just moments earlier, hadn't it been, with how sweetly he had accepted Dorian's touches? A man can dream, can't he?
"Damn you, James, for interrupting!" Dorian growled to the empty room and decided to order an entire new ensemble for the autumn. No, make that two ensembles! Right after he found Klaus and figured out what was really up with the man. And preferably after some more kisses too, of course.
He sat down by the desk again and lifted the spear, which he must have thrown there before grabbing James. A small smile started to play over his lips.
It seems that I have found myself a lucky charm, he thought.
He had fled. Like a rabbit out of the fox's lair, burrowing into his hiding hole, and gunning the car out from the North Down estate like a bat out of hell.
Several minutes later, with as much distance between himself and Dorian as he could press out of the BMW's protesting engines, Klaus's heart still raced. An almost collision with a van - the Brit's fault, for driving on the fucking wrong side! - had finally forced him to pull off the road, and he lighted himself a cigarette with unsteady hands.
This love business was dangerous.
Not only that, but he must be a deviant, somehow. A wimp, when it came to matters of the heart. Unable to cope with love. He had been totally overwhelmed by Dorian's presence, ready to do whatever the other man wanted.
Including, well ... that. Fucking. Given five more minutes and a minimum of encouragement, he would have spread his legs for the fop then and there, over the fucki-- ehm, over the desk.
Nicotine almost failed. It took several cigarettes before his agitation had lessened enough to let him look objectively at the situation. Slowly he decided to treat the matter as any other of his weaknesses.
Either it must be conquered - or, failing that, eliminated.
Dorian had soon enough calmed down and sat in the drawing room, drinking Giddapahar, his favourite Darjeeling tea, and with his new lucky charm before him. He had decided that he would mount the spear over his bed - no, better yet, above their bed. Could it be that Klaus finds weapons a bit of a turn-on? Dear lord, what am I thinking? He rolled his eyes at his own silliness. Of course he does. Hmm ... Maybe I could start carrying knives even when I'm not working? Oh, for to kiss those lips with naught but a knife blade between us!
If Klaus had such a kink, Dorian most certainly could oblige.
His cock stirred at the thought of following Klaus's muscles with a knife, using barely enough pressure to leave the faintest, white trace, then licking away the evidence. How soon before Klaus would be hard for him? Would he tremble in need before Dorian even got around to teasing his manhood? Would his cock wilt at the touch of a cold blade - or twitch so eagerly that Dorian would have to take care not to cut by accident?
By then his inseam felt distinctly tight and since no major seemed about to return and make his body readily available for Dorian's pleasure, Dorian contemplated getting one of his knives and withdrawing to his bedchamber and masturbating to the endless possibilities such a kink would afford. Just then, someone knocked carefully on the door.
"Come in, Bonham," he answered.
Bonham was the only one of his men he could recognize by knock alone. There was something distinct about Bonham's knocks - a carefulness, a steadiness, a ... call Dorian a silly bugger, but a loyalty to the knocks that always soothed him. Even if Bonham was rushed or upset, the knock remained and Dorian had never been wrong so far. Nor was he wrong now. Bonham entered with a serious look on his face. Not serious the way he usually looked serious, but serious as if something really was serious.
"What is it?" Dorian asked, alerted to that while knives might still be on the schedule, it was possibly not in the sense that they might be used as sex toys.
"Another visitor, my lord. But also, John Paul reported in on seeing suspicious characters loitering by the gate."
Dorian frowned. "Oh. Well, maybe it had something to do with the major's visit. Someone keeping track of him. Do contact G and let the Alphabets know, for safety's sake. Who is the visitor?" Normally Bonham would have explained this at the announcement, but alerting Dorian of the suspicious characters had, obviously, overridden normal protocol.
"He calls himself 'Mr. Jones'," Bonham said, arched eyebrows enough to convey that he suspected the name to be a not very imaginative alias. "Claims he wants to consult you on a matter of national security and art."
"Ah. It seems as if my dear major ought to have stayed, then. For more than one reason. A little each for both of us. Would be nice. Do show ... Mr. Jones, to the morning room. Prepare tea."
"Mr. Jones appears to be ... American."
"Oh." Really, it was too early in the day to deal with colonials. Even if it was nearly three o'clock. "Well, has the coffee for Major von dem Eberbach been thrown away yet?" Dorian had instructed his chef to always open a new can for the major when he came to visit, though to discard some of it, so that Klaus – and James - wouldn't find out. "If Mr. Galloway wasn't told that Klaus was here or if he threw it out already, have him open a new one."
"Yes, my lord." Bonham left.
Dorian busied himself for five minutes with drawing a quick sketch of a knife, trying to make the handle dildo shaped without being too obvious about it, because matters of national security could always wait - but only five minutes, because matters of art could not. Then he stretched thoroughly, looked wistfully at the drawing, and went over to the morning room.
A man in his upper forties - very handsome for his age, though, with those kind of features that - barring fatness and too much indulgence - would mature like brandy and still hold a certain attractiveness for the next twenty or thirty years. Dark chestnut hair, cut short, and blue eyes. A horizontal scar across his right cheek hardly distracted from the overall image, merely lend even more character to a face that hardly needed the addition. He carried a briefcase. A fedora hung from his other hand, making Dorian wonder why Bonham hadn't taken the hat when he had obviously taken the man's jacket.
Dorian swept in and offered his hand to be either kissed or shaken, as the man preferred. A hand shake was what he got, the grip firm and secure - he answered in kind. "Mr. Jones," he said. "The help will bring refreshments. Do sit." He indicated the sofa by the fire. "Do forgive me, but you look oddly familiar, and very handsome. Have I flirted with you before?"
He received a confused blink. "Not that I remember. And I'm ... sure I would have if you had."
Dorian nodded gravely. "Most men do. Well, I must make it up to you now, then." Flirting was a way of life to him. He wouldn't give up on it, not even if he caught, bagged and tagged his handsome darling Major von dem Eberbach. Besides, flirting with others had every possibility of making the good major very jealous, which was all for the better. He wasn't serious though, mostly going through the motions to make sure that everyone still found him disturbingly attractive. "Though again, you do look familiar. Tell me, is Jones your real name? You don't have to say your real one if you don't want to, I'm just curious."
"Get a lot of people pretending to be someone they're not, do you?" said the man, with a good-natured smile.
"You'd be surprised. It can get complicated."
"I'm sure. As it happens, my name really is Jones. Henry Jones. The third, to be precise."
"Ah, a numbered man. I only narrowly escaped that myself. My father was Tibertus Red Junior. Mother was all for it, she thinks numbers have a certain royal flair. Which I won't deny, but Father was set to make me an individual. He succeeded."
"Well, with a name like Jones you need all the help you can to get noticed."
"Say, though, I am beginning to have this glimmer of a memory. Henry Jones ... Jones ... Why, yes - I did meet a Henry Jones, oh, it must have been at Oxford. A professor, but I never read under him. Or did anything else under him, I'm sorry to say. Dashing old man. I had a bit of a crush on him, many of us did. He was only there for a term, though."
"My father is an university professor, but in America. I'm not sure he ever taught in England. Though he might have, I don't know half of everything he's done. I didn't grow up with him."
"Well, if you're not here to spank me on his behalf, why are you here? National security I'll have to make a few phone calls to help you with, but when it comes to art, I'm your man." Dorian put weight on the last words, enough to make sure the statement hinted at all sort of possibilities.
"At the moment they go hand in hand and require no phone calls. I'll be blunt ... Eroica."
Dorian had already figured that the man knew of his alter ego. Matters of national security rarely involved the Earl of Gloria, renowned art-expert and homosexual party-animal. He merely waited for an explanation.
Looking slightly disappointed that his announcement had received no reaction, Henry Jones III continued: "Two days ago, you were in South America, stealing an art treasure from the temple of Göring."
"Oh, I'd hardly call that stealing," Dorian said, in a haughty tone. "Those lovely objects had been locked up there, collecting dust, for decades. No one cared about them at all."
"That might be, except that you snatched them up just in front of a Neo-Nazi troop who had it in their tiny little heads that the treasure kind of belonged to them."
"Well, they wouldn't have appreciated the art either," Dorian countered blithely. He had, of course, heard of the expedition, and had decided to get there first - which he had.
"True. They planned on selling everything, gaining enough money to advance their cause."
"Well, what can I say? Bully for them. Finders keepers, losers ... Well, I'm sure you know the expression." Besides, Dorian might not be all that civic minded, but he didn't want money in Nazi hands any more than the next man - especially not since he always hoped that the next man would be Major von dem Eberbach, who had an especially strong grudge against Neo-Nazis. Then he thought again about the matter. "Ah, you're not with that group, are you, Mr. Jones?"
"Call me Mutt. No, sir, I'm no Nazi. I was their captive though, when your blimp sailed away."
"Oh!" Dorian brought up a hand to his mouth. "I didn't know! I would have tried to assist you, had I known. My apologies, ah ... Mutt? What a, ah, quaint American name."
"It's just a nickname. And don't worry, I got away. I've had plenty of practice with that kind of thing. I stole the jeep and left them stranded. They got rescued by a second group a few hours later, though. And you left your calling card."
"I always do. It is my calling card."
"One normally leaves calling cards after having visited someone, not after you've stolen from them, you know."
Just then Jones and John Paul entered, carrying trays with tea, coffee and a selection of biscuits. Dorian thanked them each with a kiss - he normally did when he had company he wanted to rattle - excepting Major von dem Eberbach, of course. There was rattled, and then there was homicidal. Mr. Jones didn't react, though.
"Well," Dorian replied to his guest's previous statement. "To each their own and all that. Is it the Neo-Nazis who are spying on us now?" How unexpected - Neo-Nazis for him, not for Major von dem Eberbach. Would Klaus get jealous?
"Yes. I came here as soon as I could, to--"
"--warn me. How sweet! You do seem to be a very sweet man, Henry 'Mutt' Jones the third."
"Ah, thank you. But no, I didn't come here to warn you. I mean, sure, I wanted to warn you as well. But my main reason for coming here was something else."
"Ah. You spied me from afar, in the Zeppelin, fell madly in love with me and decided you couldn't live a day longer without confessing your love for me?" That sort of thing happened to Dorian with alarming regularity, except when concerning the man he most hoped would suddenly be so afflicted.
The American smiled. Then he winced. "This coffee is a bit, ah, bitter."
Dorian indicated the sugar bowl. "Do help yourself. Though at this point I feel I must say that your love for me is doomed. My heart belongs to another."
Two sugar cubes were relocated to the Nescafe brew. The man smiled again. "I'll just have to console myself in my loneliness," he said. "But to be honest, I didn't see more than a black cigar moving away from us. The thing is, there is an object in Göring's collection that I have been searching for for years now."
"Oh? A family heirloom? Your father's, maybe? Perhaps he can come here to pick it up? I'm sure he's still a handsome old devil. I've been a naughty boy, stealing all kinds of things. I need to be spanked."
Mutt snorted. "My mother wouldn't approve and she's the one to punish naughty boys in the family." Then he blushed faintly. "That sounded wrong, didn't it?"
Dorian shrugged, amused by their conversation. This was a likeable American. "I have gone over the collection and I have decided to sell part of it. What are you interested in? I should warn you, though, that I never deal with the actual pricing of the objects that are sold. I will tell my accountant to give you a good price, but it won't help."
Mutt leaned down to get his briefcase, from within he extracted a pack of documents, rifled through them swiftly and then selected one, which he handed over. "This one."
Dorian took the offered paper and had a look. It was a photocopy of a drawing, the lines amateurish, yet he easily recognized the subject. The white-headed spear, mounted on an oak base, held firmly in the grip of eagle claws.
"Yes," he said slowly. "I have it. Alas, I'm afraid you're in bad luck. I will keep this one. It has sentimental value to me."
"I'm authorized to offer you a considerable sum."
Dorian winced. "Don't let my accountant hear that, please? But the answer is still no. I can't interest you in a lovely Collier instead? It's quite the thing, if one likes naked women, a different angle to his Lady Godiva. Very sensual, though I'm not the man to appreciate it properly, so I thought it better to let someone else have the opportunity."
"Thank you, but it is the spear we need. What we hear it's not really your usual taste in art. Ten million American dollars. Surely that makes up for any sentimental value you might have achieved for it in these short hours you've had it?"
That would be, let's see, the cable is about 0,4 for a dollar, so half that to ... five million pounds. Dear Lord! However, he didn't let his astonishment show. "Let me guess - hidden micro film? If you can take it without damaging the spear I'd be happy to let you have it." He instantly regretted his words and amended in his head, After having told Klaus, of course. He might want it first. All good and well to have something to gift Klaus with, which the NATO agent would find irresistible.
"No. It's the spear itself we need. Twenty million."
Too much. Oh, Dorian was used to priceless art - on some things you just couldn't put a price, you might as well put a price on the moon. The easy step up from ten to twenty million, though, for a broken spear, even considering the metal, the odd crystal, the platinum and the plentiful diamonds, was just too much. Someone was throwing money around, hoping to solve a problem quickly. He considered inquiring if they'd go for forty or eighty, whoever "they" were. But while James would have been easily persuaded - to be honest, James would have agreed to ten dollars, never mind ten million dollars - Dorian kept what he wanted. He wanted the spear. So he shook his head. "It is not for sale."
Mutt frowned. "Is there anything else we can offer you? Anything at all?"
"The only thing I want is not something I wish to pay for. Even if I could get it that way - which I sincerely doubt - it would be sordid and spoiled. So - no." Though he would have liked to see the look in Klaus's eyes if such a suggestion was put to him. He had always adored fireworks.
"In this matter I represent the joint governments of England and America. Thirty million? I've been given to understand that while you steal indiscriminately--"
"Hardly!" Dorian was highly affronted by this outlandish notion. "I select the things I rescue with great care, I assure you."
"Indiscriminately as in regardless of nationality of the person or organisation that owned them, I meant. That despite this you are a loyal subject of the crown."
Dorian shrugged. Silly Americans. Of course he was. "Rule Britannia," he said and held out his hands in an elegant "isn't that obvious"-gesture.
For some reason, the man frowned faintly. "Then for the sake of England, I entreat you to hand over the spear, before it falls into enemy hands."
He was a loyal subject of the crown, yes. "Firstly, I would - if so - require you to identify yourself and exactly who these mysterious 'we' are. I'm not taking anyone's word on something like that. Not anyone I don't already know, that is." He was, however, most certainly not a stupidly loyal subject.
Mr. Jones nodded slowly. "I understand. What kind of proof would you require?"
"I'll think about it. First you must tell me more about this thing you want me to hand over. Why the spear? What's so special about it?"
"I suppose I must. May I see it?"
"Of course. Do come with me and I-- Oh, but you haven't finished your coffee."
"Honestly? It's a bit, ah ..."
"Nescafe is an acquired taste, I'm given to understand." Kissing would be a rather nice way of acquiring such a taste, though. "Well, just leave it there, and come with me. I shall show you."
In fact, Dorian took great delight in showing his guest around. The other man was knowledgeable and recognised much of the art brightening Dorian's humble home. Slowly they made their way over to the drawing room. Dorian moved ahead and sat at his desk, where he waited for Mr. Jones to catch up, enjoying the man's fascination with his modest collection. When the man approached, though, Dorian pulled the spear nearer and gestured for him to sit. Mutt's eyes were riveted to the artefact.
"Yes ..." he said, the word half a sigh. "It is true. I thought as much - I thought it must be, but I couldn't be completely sure. But here it is. Amazing."
"Rather a nifty little thing, isn't it? It was damaged when I got it, though, I didn't break it."
"Yes. That happened a long time ago. A debacle involving an antipope, if I remember correctly. Nobody knows what happened to the other piece. It might be anywhere. So - you don't know what this is?"
"No. It's ... unusual, to say the least. Strangely captivating, when it shouldn't be. I like it. And do feel free to call me superstitious, but I feel as if it acts like a lucky charm for me." He smiled disarmingly, waiting for a condescending smile.
"Superstitious might be one word to use and 'lucky charm' is as good as any. It does ... aid its owner in certain things. You know who the previous owner was?"
"Actually, no, it belonged to Mr. Moustache himself." Mutt illustrated with two fingers to his upper lip.
"Oh." Dorian faltered for a moment, now seeing the spear in a different light. "But that was ages ago. It's in much better hands now, I assure you. Perhaps I shall have it thoroughly cleaned though, thank you for telling me." He had, of course, rescued art from unsavoury characters in the past - it wasn't the art's fault who owned it.
"He overestimated its limitations - or perhaps didn't realise how much of his success was due to it. He allowed Göring to bring it to the Amazon, intending to keep it safe there. To send it so far away from himself was his mistake. It left Germany in June of 1943, part of the last shipments to the pyramid. I'm sure you know history well enough as to what happened afterwards."
Dorian looked down at the spear. Something moved in the back of his head, something ...
"Lord Gloria, have you ever heard of the Spear of Longinus?"
A gasp slipped past his lips. "Of course ..."
"I see you have."
"But ... It's, I mean ... I always thought it must be a myth! It's wood. Just an ordinary spear; a working tool. It should have rotted away centuries ago. It can't be. Not the real thing. Really?" In wonder he ran a hand over the platinum- and diamond-encased spear. "I was wondering at all the decorations, I--"
"They were added later, of course, a Roman soldier wouldn't have--"
"Yes, yes, quite, that's why I never even thought it might be the … But, how extraordinary! Is it really true?"
"I'm not particularly religious, but I have seen many strange things in my life - and heard my father tell me of even more, up to and including the Holy Grail. I do believe that this is the real McCoy. With some work done to enhance it, of course, but nevertheless."
"The Lance of Christ ...How remarkable! The Spear of Destiny. Ah, but ... Oh." He felt gut-punched.
"I understand fully. And I'm sure you agree that we can't let the spear fall into Nazi hands. Not again."
"No, no, of course not." On the other hand ... Dorian hardly thought letting it fall into American hands would be optimal either.
"I was given the mission to retrieve the spear. As I'm sure you know, the spear can't be taken by force. You wouldn't agree to sell it – and if we managed to steal it from you, legend say that the spear can only be given away or the previous owner will die. Now, some of my … colleagues don't care overly about that possibility, but I do, Lord Gloria, which is why I'm telling you all this. We - the group I work for, which, as I said, consists of members from both the British and the American government - want to give the spear to the one state on Earth where we feel it runs no risk of being misused. And where it might, in all honesty, belong. The Vatican. A legend says that if the butt is found and held in opposing hands of this part, that will bring down Armageddon. If that's true, we need the larger part of the spear on the side of the angels."
Dorian found himself nodding when an unexpected thought suddenly occurred to him. "Oh. Say, what if the owner of this spear wanted some--" He hesitated. "Something. And the, ah, ownership of this something might by, ah, the person owning this, ah, something, might be considered a, how to put it ... a battle between them. Would the spear--"
"Whoever has the Spear of Longinus is invincible in battle. Or so one of the many legends go. It doesn't really specify what kind of battle, I suppose. The strength of the spear apparently grows with the amount of time the owner has the spear, the distance from the owner to the spear, the distance from the spear to the battle and also the number of enemies - the more narrow the scope, the more pronounced the effect. Are you all right, Lord Gloria?"
"No. I feel ... a little ill, actually," he said - and his throat actually did feel a bit tight. "Maybe I have a ... touch of the flu. Or something. Do forgive me, but I would prefer if you left now. Return when you have proof."
He was aware that he was acting somewhat terse, but damn it, he needed time alone. Time to think.
Luckily, Mr. Jones - Mutt - seemed to accept this and took farewell with considerable grace - for an American.
Once the door had closed behind his guest, escorted by John Paul, Dorian leaned back in his chair, staring blindly across the room, thinking intently.
After a while he lifted the spear and laid it over the crooks of his arms. Then he let it slowly roll down to his fingers. Which he then lifted to let the spear slowly roll back again.
Now what to do? he thought to himself. Now what to do?
When Klaus woke up the next morning, at 6:30 sharp, he felt at a loss as to what to do. He went through the motions - a short run, breakfast, ordering the Alphabet around, getting on with the mission, but as if there was a Damocles sword hung above him. Would he give himself away, somehow? Say something? Do something? But he knew that he had been well trained, damn it. He could keep a serene face through fucking well anything, up to and including a live re-enactment of the bloody battle of Alamo.
Besides - so what if he was now gay and in love with Dorian? Life went on. He just needed to deal with these complications in his spare time, not on NATO's. That was his firm decision. Until six minutes to eleven, when the first drops of rain started to fall, gentle and refreshing.
He was barely able to instruct A to take command before his feet carried him towards the BMW. He must go to the North Downs. Dorian wanted him to come. He was confused by his own certainty of this fact - and why he would find such a wish - if it, in fact, existed - so relevant. Then he remembered Dorian's earlier invitation - a rain check on that coffee and tea nonsense. Of course he must go. Dorian expected him.
But I don't even want to have tea and coffee with him, a tiny part of his sub-consciousness protested. I want to be hunting Russians!
Don't be a whiner, the dominant part of his sub-consciousness ordered. I love him and when you're in love you do lovey dovey stuff like that. Shut up and cope!
Dorian felt a right mess. When two o'clock had rolled around and sleep still proved elusive, he'd downed another Valium. That helped - at least in so far that he blacked out and didn't come to until seven hours later - though he didn't feel as if he'd rested in between. It felt more like he had closed his eyes for a second and someone had wound the time for him.
He had lain in bed for another hour before admitting that he might as well get up. Breakfast had tasted ashen and a long bath had only made him feel marginally better - and only temporarily, at that.
More than one question had kept his thoughts spinning and bereft him of his beauty sleep - which he did need, no matter how astonishingly beautiful he already was.
The spear. If it really was the mythical spear which once belonged to Roman soldier Casca Rufio Longinus, who drove the spear into Christ's side on Golgotha and was thus doomed to wander the Earth aimlessly, always a soldier - what should he do about it?
He couldn't help himself. For a few, weak seconds now and then he would envision himself on a throne, with a most spectacular crown on his head, a sceptre in one hand, the spear over his knees and the world kneeling at his feet. Strangely, the world took the form of a man with long, black hair.
But Dorian didn't really think that was any way to go. The holder of the spear might be invincible, but that - as proven by the great wars - was no guarantee that victory would come either swift or without cost. Besides, Dorian was firmly on the "make love, not war" side of the equation.
Which, again, brought to his mind the image of a man with long, black hair - and kneeling was a good look on him, Dorian had to happily acknowledge.
Klaus had been affected by the spear. That was obvious, now that Dorian re-evaluated their recent meetings in the light of his new knowledge. Klaus had acted strange - agreeing to things, being fairly docile - the word "submissive" flitted through the back of Dorian's mind but hardly dared to do more than peek forth. He had claimed possible illness, but - of course - what else would the poor, proud man think?
Damn it all! Especially since Dorian had been sure that Klaus was - finally - weakening. Instead the spear - in close proximity to such a limited number of "foes" - had claimed instant, effortless victory for Dorian in the battle of love that for a long time had raged between the two. Which was good - of course - for Dorian. Only - was it really?
He stood on the library balcony, surveying his land. A black car was on its way up the driveway. Momentarily engrossed in contemplation, Dorian paid it little heed.
"Does victory by stealth and uncouth means still count as a victory?" he asked the air.
The air didn't answer.
As he drew the last bit up towards North Down Castle, random thoughts flitted through Klaus's mind. Some of them were difficult to pin down, but mostly he wondered what he was supposed to do if he found himself once more overwhelmed by his love for Dorian.
Such weakness could not be tolerated. It had already interfered with his work. He should never have let that happen, still he had been unable to stop himself, no doubt scandalising the poor Alphabets.
I must deal with this when I see him, he thought, finally. Just how, though, he still hadn't decided on.
When Bonham informed him of the major's arrival, Dorian still hadn't decided on what to do. Oh, he knew what he ought to do. He knew what would be right and proper. That was all good and well. But he was a weak man and the temptation so very great.
He'd be happy with me, he reasoned, once more going through the arguments in his mind. I know he would be.
Still, it wouldn't be real, would it?
He wouldn't love me. Not really. But would that matter in the long run? Many good, solid marriages have been arranged with one or both parties having little or no say-so in the proceedings. Would this be any different? Especially since Klaus would at least think he also wanted the relationship.
Want and conscience warred within him - and he wasn't used to his conscience warring with his desires. Normally he could easily bend any hesitating emotion to get what he want - and he wanted this so very much ...
"You told me to return when the rain fell," was the first thing Klaus said to him.
The words tore at Dorian's heart. Iron Klaus followed orders, true, but not Dorian's. He especially never would let Dorian call him to his side like a dog whistled for by its master. Something in Klaus's eyes and the faint frown bringing his eyebrows together told Dorian that Klaus was also - at least on some level - aware of this. That the man knew that something was wrong.
"Cease-fire." The word tumbled over Dorian's tongue before he had time to decide to utter the syllables.
The confusion in the sharp eyes deepened. "What?"
"I propose a temporary cease-fire, Major. A truce. I need to speak to you and I thought we could attempt to be neutral about it? I won't try to seduce you and you will not try to hit me - deal?"
He wasn't sure if such a suggestion would work, but Klaus nodded slowly and some of the tension left his strong frame.
Suddenly Klaus felt as if he could breathe again. Now that he had returned to North Downs, drawn in wie ein Fisch am Haken, he had again felt that strange, sapping sensation of his will-power leaking out his ears. The reprieve from whatever might have happened couldn't have come at a better time - he needed to collect himself.
"Fine," he said, though aware of that his acceptance was mostly a formality. To give himself a little more time he lit a cigarette. Then he grunted, "Coffee," mostly to get the initiative, rather than to have them rehash that whole tea-thing again.
"Of course. I'll have some sent up right away."
Dorian wasn't sure what to say or do. He had thought he would have time yet to consider his options. Yet here Klaus was. Time had run out.
He wanted another kiss.
Would that be very wrong? Just one more kiss?
Some half-forgotten, childish sing-song rang in his mind - "A kiss is not a danger; a kiss is not a crime; it's only two mouths that meet and swap a bit of spit." What harm could just one kiss do?
He had already kissed Klaus once under this strange influence. So, hadn't any potential damage already been done? Would it not be better to try to ease things along - another kiss or two or four could only improve things, couldn't they?
Dorian battled the temptation valiantly, but in the end it was Klaus's mere silence - he just stood there, waiting and watching, despite the cease-fire apparently still cowed - that was so unnatural to the man that Dorian decided that kissing those tempting lips right then would be utterly pointless. They might as well belong to a Klaus-shaped blow-up doll. And Dorian just wasn't that desperate.
He took a deep breath. Some sort of explanation was in order - he just wasn't sure how to phrase himself. "Major, do you feel different right now? Perhaps--"
Knock, knock, knock.
If that is Mr. Lovestill about to complain about Mrs. Cudra's cats again, he's fired, Dorian decided, very annoyed at the interruption. "Enter," he ordered anyway.
Jones's pale face looked drawn with worry as he stepped inside. "My lord - I'm dreadfully sorry to intrude, but the Neo-Nazis are approaching."
"Neo-Nazis?" This from Klaus, who now looked a great deal more alert than he had mere seconds ago.
Figures that would catch his attention, Dorian thought, but the situation was too serious for him to be amused for long. "Yes, Major. Long story, but to make it short - a group of them wants something which is mine. I'm disinclined to let them have it. Jones, how many of them are there?"
"We saw eight, but there might be more. Shall we trip the alarms?"
Dorian considered that option briefly, but then said: "I'd rather not. The good constables asks such unnecessary questions. Call the gathering gong, though, get everyone informed. Then I'm not sure--"
"I'll take it from here," Klaus interrupted and shoved him aside. "You - how are they armed?"
Feeling not a little relieved at seeing Iron Klaus put in an appearance, Dorian was content with just listening how the Defence Of the North Downs was expertly, efficiently planned. Information was requested from him once or twice and he answered as well as he could, but after his tentative: "Oh, some sort of rifles, I'm sure. Father would hunt fox occasionally I seem to recall - or at least that is what he said he would be doing. But I'm sure I have no idea where they would be. Bonham might know. Unless James sold them," he was rather excluded from the conversation, especially after the gong had been rung and Bonham had arrived. Dorian didn't mind. Just to watch Klaus in his natural element was a treat. Even if it currently was Dorian's men he bossed around without mercy.
But it's unnecessary, Dorian suddenly realised. In his possession he had the Lance of Christ. No enemy would ever be able to defeat him. He opened his mouth to say something to this effect, when he remembered more of what Mr. Jones had said and decided to think things through a bit more first.
Whoever held the spear might be invincible, true. So he himself was safe. And, if he understood how this was supposed to work, Castle Gloria would never fall. The home team would carry the day. Except ... The spear didn't guarantee everyone's safety. Germany lost plenty of soldiers during the wars, presumably also while Hitler held the spear. So Dorian wouldn't be able to sit on his throne, eh, his chair, and hold the spear and the Neo-Nazis would just fall down, hog-tied. The supremacists would eventually be defeated, yes, but in the meanwhile people on Dorian's side - men he knew and men he loved - might be hurt - might die.
"--keep your positions and draw their attacks while I take them out one by one," he heard Klaus instruct the men, who all nodded. Most of them looked frightened, but determined. Over the years they had been in a diverse array of situations and had learned to do their best no matter what.
His mind made up, Dorian quickly stepped up to the group. "Best of luck, everyone! I trust you all. This will be quickly dealt with and tonight we will have a grand celebration. Major, you're invited, of course. Oh, but a moment of your time before you go."
The man, who had already been on his way towards one of the windows, turned back, looking slightly annoyed at the delay. "What?"
Dorian took a deep breath. Then he reached out - and handed over the spear. "Take this, my brave warrior. Don't argue - it'll help. Now go forth and vanquish our enemies."
Klaus's hand closed over the metal-wrapped spear handle. A lightning-like rush passed through him, jarring him to the bone, then the fop let go and Klaus suddenly felt alone. Only for a second, but while it lasted, the sensation nearly suffocated him. Then it vanished, just as unexpectedly as it had come. Given the serious circumstances, Klaus pushed the experience aside, the threat of the Neo-Nazis too imminent for him to bother with what he could only assume to be some feelings-related side-effect to that whole love business.
The fop still made no move towards the telephone, despite Klaus's clear instructions.
"Call the 'bet," he repeated. "Tell them to get here stat and to go in prepared for armed combat." Calling for reinforcement had been the task he deemed the fop best suited for, but apparently the man had had his mind on other things. Daydreaming about some bloody painting, no doubt. He mentally sighed. I might love him and all, but he's still a dimwit.
"Yes, Klaus. And ... do be careful, won't you?"
Klaus snorted and jumped out the window. A tiny voice in the back of his head wondered why he dragged along something as inefficient as a spear. If he actually felt the need of a back-up weapon one of the fop's knives would have been far more sensible. But the whisper was drowned by a strange certainty that the spear was, regardless of its inefficiency - somehow rather useful. Maybe he could bludgeon someone with it?
Having informed Herr A of the situation and been assured that the Alphabet would swarm North Downs with due haste, Dorian hung up the phone and started to arm himself with the weapons which worked best for him - throwing knives and a sword. A real sword, not one of those clumsy scimitars. Perhaps this time he'd even be able to persuade the good major that he was actually a good swordsman. Though probably not.
Once properly prepared he stood behind his desk and waited. The sword lay before him and he held a throwing knife in each hand. While he wasn't ambidextrous as his dear major (and didn't that little fact have the potential to be very useful - and enjoyable?), he could juggle a knife from his left hand to his right with little effort. He stood sideways, allowing him to keep both the door and the window which Klaus had jumped out of in sight. In the far back of his mind he sent a faint prayer up to a God he might not actually believe in, but who hopefully would aid in keeping the man he loved safe.
It seemed to take forever until he heard the first shot ring out.
These clowns are getting less and less competent every time I meet them, Klaus thought with grim amazement as he snuck up behind the last Neo-Nazi. This particular bunch of idiots had been the most pathetic he had yet to encounter. Which, he supposed, was a good thing - but on the other hand made fighting them feel a bit ... unsporting, like outsmarting Lawrence.
He whacked the sorry excuse for a supremacist over the head. Jones, who had tagged along, hurried up beside him. Say what one wanted of the thief's men, they were light-footed enough not to get in Klaus's way when he stalked someone. Many Alphabets would have raised far more noise. All that nancying about and stealing must be good for something, he supposed. Jones also carried rope and quickly started to tie the unconscious man up. And again - say what one wanted about them, the fop's men were also rather good with ropes and tying people up. Klaus would rather not dwell too much on the probable reason for those skills.
Leaving Jones to the task, Klaus marched up to the front door, where he was let in. Security cameras covered most angles of the estate and the home team had made good use of this advantage to track the would-be-conquerors. No more foes had been discovered since the last time he had checked in. Also, a car containing Alphabets was swiftly approaching up the driveway.
Slackers! I bet they were napping when the fop called. I'll give them hell for that later.
Duty done, Klaus marched back towards the library, spear still in hand.
The sight that met him on entering was, he must admit, a rather impressive one. Dorian, dressed to kill - and more literally than usual, with a harness for throwing knives contouring his body - the glimpses of lethal steel rather fetching, in Klaus's not very humble opinion. At least he's not completely useless at weapons, when he uses the sharp stuff, he decided.
"All done?" Dorian asked, as if Klaus had merely stepped out to check the oil on a car.
Klaus grunted affirmative, then added: "All but the mopping up."
"Bonham will handle the mopping up."
Then Dorian reached out his right hand, showing his palm. Expecting something. For a second Klaus didn't understand the request. Then he held out the spear.
The ruse worked. Dorian took the spear - and felt the strangest feeling he had ever experienced - bright and somehow white, but not cleanness, more intense and close to overwhelming, like an orgasm without the sweat and sex. He almost stumbled, but then Klaus let go of the spear and the feeling instantly evaporated.
"Thank you," he found himself saying, for something ought to be said to a man who had just handed Dorian back total control over him - and over the world itself, really, should Dorian choose to exercise it. Well, it isn't as if he knows what the spear is. Otherwise I'm sure things wouldn't have gone as smoothly.
Oh, I like the sound of that. No matter why he says it.
"I didn't break it. Ehm. Not there, in the back. It was like that when you gave it to me."
"Yes, I know."
"And I was whacking one of those wimpy Neo-Nazis over the head with it when that other thing happened. It was his fault. He wore glasses, I think they caught the wood somehow."
Dorian suddenly experienced a cold flash, as if all his nerve endings had been dipped in liquid ice. He slowly moved his head and then darted his eyes up and down the length of the spear. To his horror he saw a slight bend, just below the spear head. The silver had been dented and splinters of wood stuck out.
Klaus mentally cringed at the shock on Dorian's face. He really hadn't meant to hit that stupid Neo-Nazi that hard - why did the bloody spear have to break? The fop fussed endlessly over those art things - Klaus clearly remembered being hit over his own head in the past when he had scratched something or said something or whatever. What if Dorian sent him away now? That would be very bad. He wanted to stay with Dorian. Even if Dorian was angry with him. But he didn't want Dorian to be angry with him. He had fought for Dorian, hadn't he? He had been good. Hadn't he? Didn't that count for anything?
Maybe if he said something? Something foppish? And ... apologised?
But before he could figure out something appropriately foppish to say, the horrified look on Dorian's face smoothed out and Dorian smiled at him. A hint tremulously, but still. Klaus suddenly felt warm to his bones.
Damn it, I thought I was beginning to get over feeling this overwhelmed! While fighting the crappy Neo-Nazis he had felt just fine. He had still known he loved Dorian and all that stuff, but it had been in the background - acknowledged, yet tolerable. Obviously he wasn't strong enough to handle closer proximity yet. But perhaps the situation was improving?
"That's all right," said Dorian and his eyes were so blue! How could any decent wanted poster rightfully describe such a hue?! "So ... What will you do now?"
He had to struggled to get the word out, but finally he said it. "Anything." Because that was the truth. He would do anything Dorian wanted now.
Dorian blinked. Then he frowned, before mouthing: "Oh." Faint rosy spots appeared on his cheeks. "Oh," he then repeated, this time louder. "I didn't mean-- Ah ... I meant with the Neo-Nazis and so on. How should you, ah ... What is your duty to NATO to do with them?"
NATO. Yes. "The Alphabet is here." Finally. Slackers! "The Neo-Nazis should be brought to Scotland Yard. They can handle them until they can be interrogated."
"Excellent. Then that is what you should do now. Take care of your duty to NATO. When are you expected back in Germany?"
"We have no set flight time. The investigation is still ongoing."
"Oh yes, you were checking on some papers. So your superiors wouldn't mind if you waited another day before leaving?"
"No." Actually, Fatso most often seemed to like Klaus being away. He considered explaining this to Dorian and that Klaus never cared much what his superiors thought anyway, but to speak was difficult and somehow unnecessary. Better just to answer as efficiently as possible, in order to give Dorian the requested information. Besides, Klaus had never really seen the point of small talk.
"Good. Then I want you to-- Ah. I mean, then I would like to invite you to dine with me tonight. If you want to. You can say no if you wish. Don't feel pressured. Ah. Would you like to come?"
"Yes." Of course he wanted to. Any chance to spend time with Dorian, the man he loved, should be utilitized. And this invitation seemed to mean that Dorian wasn't pissed with him for breaking that wimpy spear, which was good. He didn't want Dorian to be angry with him. His logical mind also drew another conclusion, though, causing his belly to move restlessly in a heady mixture of anticipation and dread. Obviously Dorian intended to keep him overnight!
"I would like to," he added. It was true.
Once Klaus and the Alphabet had left, tied-up Neo-Nazis in tow, Dorian ordered tea - this time a fine, black Chinese tea, vintage Pu Er. The smooth, silky texture; excellent taste and lovely smell made it one of his favourites for quiet, solitary moments of contemplation. He sat for several minutes, sniffing the hot brew. The aroma smelled like stable - not manure, but horses and fun in the hay. Then he took tiny sips followed by larger ones as the liquid cooled to more acceptable levels.
While he drank slowly, he thought with near-feverish intensity. Then he finally put the fine Meissen cup down. He started by making a swift call to Mr. Galloway to have a suitable dinner for two prepared for him and Klaus. Something with plenty of potatoes. Then, his mind made up, he went down to his private workshop.
Two hours later, he was back in the study when Jones escorted Klaus inside. Letting his eyes glide over the German's strong body, Dorian absentmindedly waved for Jones to leave.
Damn, but the man looks fine.
Klaus stood half at attention, looking back at him, but moving neither towards him nor away from him, not saying anything either. He looked cool and collected - very neat and handsome. Smelling good too, as a hint of Tabac aftershave wafted Dorian's way.
Oh, that's interesting. Did he put it on for me?
Then Dorian remembered his current hold over Klaus and while he still approved of Klaus's scent, he rather cursed that Klaus hadn't gone through the effort of his own free will.
Maybe one day, he consoled himself. After all, I am irresistible! He'll give in, sooner or later, I know that he must.
"Welcome, Major. Do come this way. I have a small thing I want to discuss with you before we eat. Do sit." He gestured towards the chair opposite to himself.
"Thank you," Klaus replied and sat down. Between them, on Dorian's desk, lay the Lance of Christ.
The spear was the first thing Dorian had made his mind up about while considering his options. He had ruled out the Vatican early on. Mutt was a handsome chap and Dorian had certainly enjoyed flirting with him. Hopefully he wouldn't be too put out when Dorian informed him of this decision. The good Pope had felt, ah, seemed like a good enough man (if a bit chubby), but there was something about some of those other clergymen that reminded Dorian too much of James for comfort - and not at all as cute either. Besides, he wouldn't put it above them to use the force of the spear in some sort of demented crusade against homosexuality.
On the other hand - while Dorian wouldn't particularly mind being the ruler of the world in theory, in practice such a thing - it had occurred to him - would necessitate him overthrowing the current governments - including the queen! That just wouldn't do!
So he had decided to hand the spear over to Her Majesty. Of course, he would do so the interesting way - by breaking into Buckingham Palace and handing it over to her in person. Then he would, as any loyal citizen, let Her Majesty handle the situation as she would. Should she opt to give it over to the Vatican, then all was good and well. And if not, well ... Those pesky Americans and uncultured Russians had been getting rather uppity lately - maybe it was time for good old Britannia to show them how a real superpower handled things?
Besides, there might just be a higher rank in it for me? Marquess? No, surely to put England in her proper place again would be worth a Dukedom? The whole of the North Downs, perhaps? I would keep the Earl title too, of course, as a secondary title.
Be that as it may, tonight the spear still belonged to Dorian and he intended to use it.
He grasped the platinum-wrapped handle again. While Britannia - lamentably - no longer ruled the world as once she did, as one of her noblemen, Dorian had learned at an early age how to give orders and expect obedience. He now made use of this and ordered, with as much force as he could manage, "What I will do to you now, you will consider completely natural. You will not question it, Major, now or at any time in the future. You will do exactly what I say and when you leave this house, you will never think of what I did again. You will, however, never allow anyone but me to do this to you. Do you understand?"
He wasn't sure if that would work, to make orders for the future, but he figured it was worth a try. When Klaus had returned to London the previous day, Dorian's suggestion of returning when the rain fell had obviously stayed with Klaus even though he must have left the spear's area of influence.
Klaus felt a bit puzzled by the forceful request. It made no sense, really. But - of course - if this was what Dorian wanted from him, he would obey. So he nodded. "Yes, sir," he said.
For a moment Dorian looked pained, as if something bothered him, but then he smiled - if in a slightly tense manner - and nodded. "Good. Now, this might hurt a little, but not for long, I promise. If you just relax, it'll soon be over."
Well, he was no wimp. Klaus could most certainly handle a little pain. He watched with interest how Dorian withdrew a knife from a desk drawer. A beauty of a knife too, with an edge that looked sharp enough to cut through cloth and flesh alike.
"Bend over the desk, Klaus."
Dorian arranged Klaus's pliant body to the position he deemed most suitable. Bent forward, arms folded over the desk, and forehead resting on his wrists. Black hair fell to the sides of the man's nape - then was urged further apart by Dorian's fingers, to bare the pale, oddly vulnerable skin on said nape to the sharp light of Dorian's best reading lamp. He couldn't help a quick caress to the hair, just for the thrill of feeling the soft strands under his fingers.
After a brief hesitation he repeated firmly that the pain would be over shortly, then used his left hand to stretch taut the pale skin on the nape while he used the knife to cut deftly with his right. The strong body before him didn't as much as flinch, only continued the gentle swell of breathing totally undisturbed by the knife work being expertly performed on the owner's neck.
Then Dorian rounded his desk again. He carefully lifted the small box he had put by the spear earlier. Royal Worcester with inlaid roses and a watchful boar on the lid. Tweezers in hand he opened the lid. There, on a red velvet bottom, lay two wooden splinters, each needle thin and exactly 4 millimetres in length. He carefully used the tweezers to lift one, then just as carefully closed and locked the lid again, trapping the second splinter securely inside. He would deal with that one later, after heading on over to Buckingham Palace.
I do so hope I'm not starting some form of miniature Armageddon with this, Dorian thought idly as he used the knife to hold open the tiny wound as he forced the small bit of wood inside. There was blood, because he had to dig deep enough so that the splinter would stay buried instead of working its way up to the surface - but luckily not too much. He had studied anatomy as part of his art interest and also gone over the procedure with Henry, the Eroica gang medic; so he was reasonably sure of what he was doing.
Finally he had pushed the tiny piece of wood in far enough. He then quickly mopped up the blood, cleansed the skin with a liberal dose of iodine on a piece of cotton - not even then did Klaus move as much as a muscle - before finally affixing butterfly stitches on top.
"You must not let anyone examine the wound or open it up again!" he instructed firmly.
Dorian couldn't resist. He leaned down and placed a quick kiss on the stitches. Through the material he felt faint warmth from the flesh beneath. He wouldn't allow himself to kiss the man himself, not during the current circumstances, not again, but even this was far more than Klaus would normally ever allow. Dorian had to firmly rein in an urge to tell the man that he loved him and enforce the message with the power of the spear. But in the end, he prevailed.
A victory by stealth and uncouth means can really never count as a victory.
"There," he said. "All done. You can sit up again. And now we shall eat. I believe Mr. Galloway, my chef, mentioned something about Kartoffelsuppe mit Speck, followed by Bratkartoffeln mit Spiegelei and for dessert Eis mit Marzipankartoffeln. Beer, some Kölsch I believe, is chilling for you."
He was rather proud of the evening he had planned. A nice, very platonic evening. Then he would drop Klaus off at the Ritz before paying his little visit to Buckingham Palace and then finally back home for a spot of surgery.
Dorian Red, Duke of North Downs - that does have a lovely ring to it, if I do say so myself.
Tomorrow would be another day. And when Klaus and he were no longer on an uneven playing field, Dorian would show no mercy in conquering his proud warrior.The End
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