Author's disclaimer and notes: I don't own them, I just dream of doing so. Feedback is better than Lindt Lindor Chocolate Balls. 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. 4.227 words. Written in May 2007. Changed on 070905 to correct a factual error - thank you Esda and Margaret Price!
This is a birthday fic for Heather Sparrows.
Betaed by Heather Sparrows (yes, I make her beta her own birthday fics). You're the best, Heather. And also by Kadorienne - thank you!
If you want you can also read/download the story as a doc file (without graphics).
Klaus clenched his fists under the table as he listened to his father's tirade.
"will go to Lady von Denk's ball this Friday, and that is final."
He reran the last sentences in his mind. "Yes, Father, if that is your wish. But I have been to two balls already this year, surely that is enough?" He hated the blasted things. Granted, the last two hadn't been total disasters, since he had been with someone who had run interference for him, but still they were a waste of time and altogether pointless.
His father's lips thinned. "Ah, yes. You went. With a minimum of fuss and I was thinking, 'The boy is growing up. He is accepting his responsibilities. Perhaps he has even found himself a little sweetheart.' I was most pleased. Until I heard that the lady you took was ... dubious. And not dubious as in that she might be ... loose in her affections. At this point, Klaus Heinz, I wouldn't care overly if you married a former tart, as long as she shaped up and was devoted to you. Not even dubious as to her family status a commoner would do well, Son, as long as she behaves properly."
"Actually, Father, the Red-Gloria is a noble British family, and "
"British! Ha! But that would be fine marry a foreigner if you must, Klaus Heinz, if none of the fine women of Germany live up to your high standards. However! The dubiousness was not in her character nor in her breeding it wasn't even in regards to her appearance. I hear that she was dressed exceedingly well, though she wasn't very pretty. No,"
At this, Klaus did take offence. In his eyes, his companion had been the best-looking person at both balls. He didn't voice this, though, since he knew himself to be slightly biased.
"my son, the dubiousness about her regarded her very ... femininity!"
Klaus blinked. "Ehm," he said.
His father, cheeks a vivid red in anger, leaned closer and hissed, "Do you have any idea what we would face if it came out that you escorted a ... a ... a she-male to an official gathering?"
Klaus blinked. "Ehm."
"At least tell me it was some bizarre NATO assignment!"
"Luckily, the old acquaintance of mine who told me about the ... situation ... seems to be the only one who caught on, or else we would have a scandal of momentous proportions on our hands. Klaus Heinz I don't care if you stick it to each and every one of that herd of toyboys you surround yourself with"
"Father! I don't" He most certainly didn't! But the shock he felt was dual him and the Alphabet yes, that was unimaginable, but his father wouldn't care?
"Don't interrupt! as long as not a word of your dalliance leaks to my associates! Now, to Lady von Denk's ball you will take a woman a wo-man, Klaus Heinz! An honourable woman. Preferable a good German woman of good standing and good breeding! You will be attentive and devoted to her the entire evening. It will be obvious to everyone that you adore her. Is this understood, Klaus Heinz?"
"If there is a rumour you escorted her home or that she followed you home, the better! As long as there is no scandal. You don't have to squeeze her titties in public."
Titties? His father had used the word titties?
"Klaus Heinz! Or so help me God I will disown you."
He looked up sharply. Disownment? His father had never gone that far before.
"Klaus Heinz? Will you do as I tell you?"
He fixed his eyes on a spot above his father's right shoulder, fighting to remain calm.
"Yes, Father. I will."
Night-time found Klaus in his Bonn apartment, sitting by the balcony windows, cigarette in hand. By the wall next to his chair stood a glass half-filled with amber liquid. He had drunk from it earlier, but the brandy he knew should be rich and warm had only tasted rancid.
He felt ashamed. 38 years of age: what kind of a man was he who still found it impossible to stand up to his father?
Father deserves respect for his years and his accomplishments, he thought. Accomplishments that the old von dem Eberbach felt far exceeded Klaus's own. Damn it, though. I've faced down Generals and business moguls why do I let him intimidate me? I must stand up to him! Be a man! I can't keep doing this! I have to make him stop! He even said he wouldn't care if ... if ...
The unlikely image of himself and any one of the Alphabet threw him into mental stuttering.
So he wouldn't disapprove of Dorian per se ...
That thought felt foreign. Of course his father would mind. Of course his father would be livid if he found out. Of course he would. Only ... he wouldn't? As long as there was no scandal. Well, Klaus knew how to be discreet and he didn't want a scandal either. Not about something so serious that mattered so much to him. Lately he had, however, toyed with the idea of "coming out". His superiors could make things difficult for him if he did - legally they could even fire him - but what did he care? Besides, he seriously doubted they would dare to do much. G was "out" and proud of it having even declared a young man by the name of Runar Tarsin to be his domestic partner. Runar used to be one of Dorian's men, one of the interchangeable, tall blonds, but apparently not so interchangeable after all, since G had fallen hard for him. G took some ribbing and some nasty words but not much. Of course, he had Klaus backing him up, as well as the rest of the Alphabet. G was a silly little twit, but he was the Alphabet's silly little twit, damn it, and woe to any other that dared to say anything about him. There were others too, who had chosen to go that route. Nothing overly nasty had happened. Klaus could take care of himself he always had. Besides, should something happen, he had - finally, after so many lonely years - a good security net to fall back on.
He had intended to discuss the matter with Dorian on Dorian's return from his trip. Not that Klaus intended to do something big. Inform the Alphabet, maybe if they hadn't guessed already. Z knew, that was for sure. Probably G and A as well and maybe some others. They all respected his silence, though. But to hide a truth was, in itself, a type of lie and something Klaus detested.
Never mind that now. The ball. It is this Friday. I won't be able to reach Dorian before he comes back. Whenever that will be.
Normally, five days would be plenty of time. Dorian would know what to do. Dorian could deal with these social niceties: revelled in them, even. Klaus just couldn't bring himself to get worked up over something so mundane, not when he had spies and terrorists and taxes to think about.
Dorian, however, was in America and Klaus had no idea where. James had been ecstatic about the trip, flittering around and singing and being so happy that Klaus had expressly forbidden Dorian from telling him anything. He hadn't wanted to know.
He won't like me taking some woman to a ball. Not now.
They had committed to one another, if only in the privacy of Dorian's bedchamber. Of course, even if Klaus brought some well-bred heiress to the event he had no intention of bedding her or even kissing her or doing anything other than to hold her hands as they danced. Still ... He would be dancing with her. And his father had specified that he must be an attentive, what was that blasted word ... adoring escort ...
If Dorian knew about it ... If Dorian had suggested it ... That would have been one thing. That would have been acceptable. After all, when they had gone to the balls together, Dorian had sent him off to dance with wallflowers; the Brit always generous in spreading his wealth and making the women's day in the process. For some reason that seemed to give Dorian a kick. But without Dorian's knowledge it would stink of adultery ...
Yet, what choice did he have? He had promised his father. "Oh, why couldn't I keep my big mouth shut?" he growled and reached down for the glass, lifting it and drinking deeply. The taste still made him wince. "I must do it. Then I must make sure he never asks me again. This must be the last time I give in to him!" Before, he had never had this much to lose. That didn't change the current situation, though, which had already aroused.
So ... Defy his father or risk losing Dorian?
Dorian relaxed at the hotel spa, getting a mud bath, later to be followed by a thorough massage. From a female masseuse, Ingrid from Sweden. Once he wouldn't have thought twice about requesting her twin brother, Hans, he would in fact have insisted on it, but even if the skilled touches would be purely platonic he preferred not to tease himself overly with the presence of handsome men in his naked-all-but-for-a-towel state.
Blue-streaked mud slowly dried on his body, creating a curious, tickling sensation. The warm air smelled heavily of the earthy, musky material. There were also undertones of raspberry and citrus, from nearby candles. The spa was built in several parts, separated by flower walls that allowed for hints of colour to seep through. A soft music played, with interspersed animal noises horses, mostly. Ingrid had deftly put his hair up and away from the clay and he lay prone. Below the hollow in the bench that created a breathing hole and resting place for his face, stood a glass of iced pear lemonade. A straw allowed him to drink. Everything was good in Dorian's world.
The heist was going well. It was still in the investigation phase; cataloguing the museum, the guards, the other security measurements and possible points of entry. They already had several ideas. A mask of green jade for Dorian, the exact shade of Klaus's eyes and bearing some resemblance to the man himself. Resting on top of gold, gold, gold and oh, look, more gold! for James. In all likelihood the operation would take another week of planning and waiting for the opportune moment, before Eroica would strike. He had never done a heist in Mexico City before, so he wasn't overly worried about getting caught.
Yes, just another week to go two maybe, in a stretch. Then, back home. To Klaus. It didn't matter that Germany wasn't Dorian's native country home had become wherever the Major shrugged out of his shoulder holster for the night. Norway, Alaska, Australia the place didn't matter as long as Dorian could bury his face against Klaus's neck when he closed his eyes. Or if on a rare occasion Klaus laid on top, resting in Dorian's arms. He adored the weight of the man pressing him down.
It was the end of April, so he would have to get home by Klaus's birthday, anyway. Not that Klaus was much for celebrating, but Dorian would never let such an opportunity slip him by. Oh no. Birthdays and Christmases were sacred days: days on which Klaus would have no choice but to accept gifts. Not that Dorian didn't try at other times, if he found something he deemed worthy. Of course, his and Klaus's tastes differed greatly, but that was part of the fun. Besides, for the really important days, Dorian knew better than to chance things. He went with what worked. Guns worked. Suitably elegant, yet rare and packing enough of a punch to put that eager gleam in Klaus's eyes. For this birthday, Dorian had gone all out and ordered a 700 Royal Holland and Holland, engraved with a custom designed roses and boars pattern. To get Klaus's measurements for the perfect fit had taken some clever manoeuvring indeed ... Not his beloved's usual fare, true, but from what Dorian's source told him the rifle was the equivalent of a weapon connoisseur's wet dream.
Dorian had hopes that Klaus would be very grateful ...
Birthdays were also good opportunities to give the birthday boy full reins in the bedroom to explore fantasies. Not that Dorian didn't encourage his dear Major to do so at any given time, but it was so much easier to give away a fantasy as a gift, for then Klaus felt entitled and thus had greater confidence.
Dorian was busy remembering Klaus's last birthday, with the knife, the leather mask and the black dildo, when someone said Klaus's last name in a scandalised tone of voice.
"von dem Eberbach, and the younger too, not the older one. The older one, now that I might have understood, but the younger! Klaus. The army man. Gorgeous black hair; the loveliest green eyes I ever saw; but cold as frozen fish. Who would think he liked such women?" said a woman from behind the flower partition. She spoke with a heavy German accent.
"Men! Who can figure them out?" another woman answered. This one spoke the Queen's English. "And your cousin actually saw them?"
"Oh yes, at Lady von Denk's ball, the day before yesterday. He was with her the entire night, left her side only to fetch her drinks or food. Didn't dance with anyone else and hardly even spoke to anyone else. Totally besotted, Milly said."
Cold dread filled Dorian's stomach. What in the blazes Klaus? His Klaus? At a ball with some woman? Besotted? No, no, it could not be. It had to be a-a nightmare. Yes, he must have fallen asleep during the mudbath and this was one horrible nightmare!
"She is from an old family, Milly said. Heaps of money. I'm not sure if she is the heiress or not I'm guessing so, at least that would make sense. Though apparently she has a comparatively large bosom ... And Milly said that rumour has it that he brought her home with him afterwards!"
Klaus always was a bit of a chest man. He always looks at the ladies' ... assets, even if he hides it well. Those jokes he made about A's wife ... Brought her home with him ... Oh no!
The women tittered between themselves and then went on to talk about something else entirely. Seething, Dorian rang the bell next to him, to summon Ingrid.
Later Klaus didn't know why he looked out the window just then. He wasn't in the habit of spying on his neighbours or passers-by. If he heard noises he might investigate, but other than that he kept more or less to himself. There had been no sound, yet he had gone up to the balcony overlooking the road and glanced out in time to see a Lamborghini slide to a halt on the opposite side from his house. A very well-known Lamborghini. How many hot pink ones could there be? Besides, he had blown Dorian in it on Dorian's last birthday on a very secluded road between Bonn and Eberbach. Dorian had hinted that for his next birthday he might want another rendezvous in the car this time for a different activity altogether, one that required the vehicle to actually stop. Apparently something to do with equalizing Klaus's rear with a monocotyledonous green plant in the Poaceae family. Klaus was looking forward to it.
The Earl of Red-Gloria got out of what Klaus still referred to as the man's "pimp-mobile". Klaus's attentive eyes at once picked up several details that together spelled out that Dorian was not quite himself. The English Lord wore a for him sedate outfit in gold-striped black and he moved with short, jerky movements. His hair was tied in a pony tail pulled so tight that his curls had straightened out. Even from the distance Klaus could tell that the man wasn't smiling.
Did some of his men get caught doing whatever they went over there for? I'm not helping him break them out. Not if Dorian pouted at him. Not if Dorian used the puppy eyes. Not if Dorian rimmed him until he blacked out ... Though there had been occasions when Dorian's skilful tongue in his arse had made him start babbling and or at least according to Dorian promising gold and green forests as long as Dorian just fucking hell continued. Klaus had always thought he would be more likely to make threats in such a situation, but Dorian rarely maybe never lied to him. No, I won't help him. Absolutely not. Though if he insists perhaps I could give him some ... theoretical advice?
Another possibility for Dorian's grim look occurred to him. He couldn't have heard about me and Esther. No. Surely not. How could he have, so quickly?
With a very strange sensation in his stomach, which couldn't be fear for Iron Klaus feared nothing, he reached for his telephone and made a quick call.
Dorian normally didn't knock. That is to say he never had before. Nor did he ever use the key Klaus had finally given him, though it was one of his most precious treasures proudly displayed on the mantle of the great fireplace in the Castle Gloria library. However, this time and for the first time he knocked, banging his knuckles twice against the door's hard surface.
He had seen the light in the window: he had even thought he could make out the shade of a person looking out, so he knew Klaus to be home. Which he had counted on. For security's sake he had even called the Schloss to verify Klaus's absence and according to G (through Bonham) there was no on-going mission. Klaus very seldom ventured out once he had retreated to his apartment. Unless, apparently, he went to balls with shameless, large-breasted hussies.
It took half a minute before Klaus opened the door. He looked a little wild-eyed. Feeling guilty, perhaps ...?
"Dorian? Why did you knock?"
"I felt like it. May I come in? Or have I come at an ... inopportune time?" Dorian managed to keep most of the bite he felt out of his voice, though a big dose seeped in. So what? He felt entitled.
"YouDorian Yes yes, do come in."
Klaus stepped out of the way. Dorian entered, then removed his jacket and held it out. Klaus blinked, then took it and hung it on a peg by the door, next to Klaus's own. Dorian went past the man to the living room, making a point of looking into Klaus's bedroom on the way, as well as into the kitchen. Both rooms were located before the living room in the small corridor that formed the apartment hall. Having ascertained that the place was empty, unless an interloper hid in the bathroom, he settled in the black leather chair that he had personally overseen the installation of during one of Klaus's less interesting missions. Once he had achieved his desired pose refusing to let the scent of leather remind him too powerfully of the few, treasured times Klaus had knelt before the comfortable chair, blowing Dorian's mind to smithereens with his talented mouth he fixed his "host" with an imperious stare.
Klaus, face blank, looked back.
"Well?" Dorian said.
"Ehm," Klaus replied.
Which, in Dorian's mind pretty much clinched things. Klaus never "Ehm"ed unless he was completely thrown or felt guilty.
"So. Do tell me about this lady friend of yours. Is she moving in?"
"Of course not!" Klaus replied instantly.
Klaus's hasty denial would have pleased Dorian if not for the fact that the words themselves confirmed the rumour. A small, soft part of Dorian's heart had hoped that this "Milly" person had just made things up, to tantalise her cousin. He would have had to punish her, of course, arranging some suitably horrific scandal involving her, but that would just have been amusing. Now though, by Klaus's own words, a lady friend really did exist. Perhaps not moving in, but
"Did you take her here? Did you fuck her here, in your bed?" He had almost said "our" bed rather than "your", but managed not to. Besides, despite his attempts to have a larger bed installed, Klaus had held firm, claiming that he would be unable to sleep well in a big bed when alone. Dorian had thought that was romantic, in a typical Klaus kind of way. Besides, he so enjoyed sleeping closely nestled to his German lover that a larger bed was completely unnecessary.
Klaus pulled back his head. "I did no such thing!"
"They said you brought her home with you!"
"I drove her home, yes, but that was all. Don't you believe me? You prefer to believe some ... rumour you've heard?"
"I really rather wouldn't! But if you have found a potential wife, as your father has been pressuring you about ... " He closed his eyes briefly. "I will go. I will not be your mistress, to be visited on the side when the urge comes to you." Oh, he would go all right. Straight home, to start pulling the strings in his net of contacts, having the situation dealt with. Somehow. Klaus was his. He was not letting some simpering, big-chested German maiden steal his man. One does not steal from the Prince of Thieves without retaliation. In spades.
Klaus's eyes glimmered, like those of a panther just before it attacks. His voice, in contrast, sounded cool. "Are you even interested in hearing the truth, Dieb? Are you?"
"She needs me, Dorian. I met her several months ago. I didn't seek her out she came to me. She wanted my strength and do you know what? I gave it to her over and over again. And she rewarded me well for my efforts. Her name is Esther. I don't love easily, Dorian, but in my own way I do love her. I took her to the ball and you should have seen how her eyes sparkled with happiness when we were there. She said it was a dream come true." He glared at Dorian all through his speech.
Dorian blanched. This is a nightmare! Love? Klaus loved her? That changed matters. That ... was different. Klaus loved her? If so Dorian would ... he would ... he would ...
The shrill tone of the door bell came so unexpectedly that both men flinched. Klaus rose up and started towards the door. Dorian followed.
"Klaus! This is far more important than some visitor or door-to-door salesman! You have to talk to me! You have to"
"Later!" Klaus barked.
By then the tall NATO Major had reached the door and, after a perfunctory glance through the peep hole, opened it and held it open. Dorian noticed at once how Klaus held his hands firmly down his sides, in the way he kept them when he greeted superiors or spoke to his father. In stepped a woman in a blue dress. She had pale, almost white hair and generous curves, especially over her ample bosom.
"Hello, Klaus Heinz. Here are the fried potatoes I promised you, for helping me move theOh, but who is this? Oh! Klaus Heinz! It is him, isn't it? You are Dorian, my dear boy Klaus Heinz's sweetheart?"
Dorian's jaw fell.
"Ja, it is him."
Klaus had never acknowledged him openly before! Dorian had almost come to terms with it that the private man probably never would. Who was this woman?
"Oh, Klaus Heinz, he is so pretty!"
A woman of good taste, clearly, whatever else she was.
Klaus hrumped. "Don't make him even more swollen-headed than he already is. Thank you for the potatoes. Just call if you need more help. Dorian let me introduce to you Lady Esther Teimann, my next-door neighbour. The whole street was invited to her 85th birthday a couple of months ago. I wouldn't have gone, but I passed by when she forcibly recruited me to help her open some jars."
The old lady reached up high up, for she didn't exceed 1,50 - and gave Klaus a pat on the cheek. "He has helped me with several heavy moves since then. Such a good, strong boy he is."
Dorian laughed at the embarrassed expression on Klaus's face. "That he is." He stepped up to the woman, deftly took her hand and lifted it so he could give it a quick kiss. "My lovely lady, I'm so very pleased to meet you. And a very belated congratulation on your natal day."
"Thank you, dove. Perhaps next year, Klaus Heinz will bring you with him?"
"Maybe he will," Dorian replied and glanced at his lover, reading a quiet promise in his green eyes. "And I say that those potatoes smell divine. Now though, my dearest lady, I hope you will excuse us. I do believe that I have some sincere grovelling to do."
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