The Future Of Us All

by Anne-Li

Author's disclaimer and notes: I don't own them, I just dream of doing so. Feedback is better than cake. Corrections to my language are welcome. Ask if you want me to archive it anywhere. You may link to this story if you want or to my main page. 3.330 words. Written in February 2006. Minor change on 070412, to correct error.

Warnings: A Highlander crossover and death story. AU too.

Betaed by Heather Sparrows (Always appreciated, Heather!) and Kadorienne (Thank you!).

If you want you can also read/download the story as a doc file (without graphics).

For once, the sight of Klaus's buttocks didn't do much to cheer Dorian up. Had they been naked, well ... that would probably have been a different matter. Covered as they were by Klaus's ever-present uniform, they were merely reminders – if very alluring and well-shaped reminders - of what Dorian would never have. He tried resting his gaze on Klaus's strong shoulders instead – and they did look inviting, just the right shape for him to lean his head between.

Five years. It had been five years. Five years of hunting, following, drooling, flirting and wanting. Five years of harsh, angry words and occasional slaps, even a direct hit or two and shots fired uncomfortably close to his person. Five years of so little encouragement that it perhaps was even imagined – dreams sent by his subconscious to ease his pain if only a little – or prolong it. Five years, when it usually took him, what? Five minutes? Five years ...

The futility of his hunt had struck him before, often enough. He had even tried to go cold turkey a couple of times, refusing to entertain his own silly fantasies and forbidding his men to even mention his beloved Major within his range of hearing. Always in vain, of course, for to do so acted like some sort of cursed charm. Within the week – two if he was lucky – he would find himself trailing Klaus again, on some mission or other. Sometimes Klaus would call for him to help and he would come running like a trained puppy, eager for his master's least attention. At other times fate would throw them together. Like this time: he had been visiting a friend, Lord Myer, in Egypt. The two of them had gone to school together and still kept in touch, so Dorian had thought it a marvellous spring vacation to go see his old friend. They had taken a cruise down the Nile in Myer's new boat, the Lady Patricia. As they got ready to leave a little village they had stopped in to get supplies, the voice that haunted Dorian's dreams had called for them, "Stop! I commandeer this vessel in the name of – oh, fuck."

So he had said, "That's an interesting name to command in, my love, did NATO finally kick you out? I'm all for it, though – fucking, that is – though I prefer making love. Shall we?"

"You followed me, you perverted British scum!"

"No, dear, I was just on a tiny little trip with my good friend Petsie here, going down the Nile. I had no idea you would be here." He manfully refrained from making an 'in denial' pun.

"Ha! Likely story! You, man, Petsie or whatever your name is, get the boat moving. That way and in a hurry! You – I'll deal with you later, you idiot! A, Z, D, F, H, J, K – get on board and now! How many of your followers are with you, fop?"

"Oh, none of them. Bonham is on a vacation – he was talking about Bonn, actually. And I lost James in a bazaar in Tunis, he was haggling about one thing or another and I just had to look at that most amazing little sculpture and when I turned back I couldn't find him! But he'll turn up, I'm sure he will. He always does. Though I left the others there to look for him, just in case."

As he spoke the seven Alphabets had entered the boat. They crouched by the railing, watching the landscape to the east. Klaus looked that way too and gave no indication of listening. Dorian sighed morosely. Though the man did have a very fine pair of buttocks, that he did.

"Say, Dor, what's going on? Friend of yours, is he?"

Still keeping the delightful behind in sight, Dorian sidled up to his friend. "Not exactly, Petsie. Just do as he says and things will be fine. I'm not sure what's going on really, but he is one of the good guys. He's Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach of NATO Intelligence."

"That's the chap you mentioned, the one that got you involved in that excitement in Paris the other year?" Petsie sounded somewhat strained, which Dorian attributed to disapproval.

"The one and only. Don't tell him anything about what I said about the Louvre. But it really wasn't his fault, you know, it just happened."

Petsie snorted.

"I'm sorry about them interrupting our little trip though. I'll ask Klaus what's going on."

The Major was so intent on the shore that Dorian actually managed to come right up to him and rest his head exactly where he had been thinking of just before. Oh yes ... If only for a moment he breathed in the earthy scent of his beloved and made a happy murmur.

Klaus quickly shrugged him off, whirled around, grabbed him and threw him to the deck. "Stay away, you insufferable pest! Don't touch me!"

"I just wanted to know what's going on," Dorian said with a pout – though that wasn't the entire truth, of course. "Besides, Petsie wanted to know too and it is his boat."

"Smugglers, shipping weapons down the Nile."

"Are we hunting them or being hunted by them?"

"'We' are doing nothing, you miserable prick. Stay away from me, I said. As for your question – both. Now be quiet!"

So Dorian resumed the silent watching – it was better than doing nothing and certainly better than having Klaus heap abuse on him. Though he is working, he told himself to soften the words. I shouldn't interrupt him when he's working, that always annoys him. Sigh, he looks lovely though – not a day older than when I first met him either.

Despite the Major's presence it just took a few moments until his funk returned. He had arranged the trip to Egypt just to get away and, once again, it had failed. At the same time he knew – oh yes, he knew, all too well he knew, that he just toyed with getting away, giving himself a little hope to pass time and ease the pain. He would never be able to stay away from Klaus: not for long, never for good. They were meant for one another! He was sure of that in a way he was certain of very little else. They should be together and their love should set the world ablaze! Only, Klaus wasn't getting with the program and in the long run that was more than frustrating; it was devastating to Dorian's peace of mind.

'For seven years I have served you and will you not turn around and look at me?' he thought, quoting some barely forgotten phrase – a poem? The bible? He wasn't sure. Perhaps it hadn't even been seven years mentioned. Would two more years make a difference? Would another five? Ten? Twenty? How many more years would it take to soften the iron before it bent to his touch? How many more years could he bear to wait? Though he knew all too well the answer to that question, of course: "As many as it takes." He sighed.

Snick, he heard. A familiar kind of faint snick, then a clicking sound, almost inaudible. Snick and click, snick and click ... He looked around to find the source, knowing somehow that the sounds mattered. Petsie held a pistol and moved to aimed it at—

Dorian's heart stopped. He couldn't move. He couldn't scream. And then he could do both. "Klaus!" he yelled even as he threw himself forward.

He saw his beloved turn and then the impact – Klaus's body was pushed back with his right shoulder as the axis. A roar boomed so loud that the very earth should tremble. Then Dorian was between Klaus and the gun. He saw big, white birds on the shore fly up: saw the horror on Z's face and A's stunned look. Then someone pushed him too, straight forward, towards Klaus, who – praise the Heavens! – moved, aiming his Magnum. Another roar – no, two of them, as Klaus's Magnum spat fire so close that Dorian feared that his hair would get burnt. The noises echoed in his ears, deafening him. Only then did the pain come – not like an explosion, more like a rolling warmth of unease that spread from his back upwards and inwards. He fell, unable to catch himself – but was caught anyway, by Klaus, who had dropped his Magnum to use both hands to steady him.

"You dropped your gun," Dorian tried to say, but his tongue didn't cooperate. "You" was the only sound that he was able to make, but then, in a way, that was enough. "You" meant Klaus, after all, and Klaus was his entire world. He wanted to ask if Klaus was all right though, for he knew that the first bullet had hit his beloved.

Klaus cradled him, appearing to feel no pain. He looked so upset – shocked, horror struck even. His mouth moved as if he was shouting. Dorian managed to lift his left hand – the right wouldn't work at all and besides, he felt so tired - and fumbled with Klaus's uniform to have a look at the wound, when the ringing in his ears lessened enough to let him hear Klaus again. "—to happen! Stop, Dorian, stop, lay still, oh my love, lay still!"

Love? he thought muddily and smiled wide when he realised that the word was for him! So the iron had melted after all? So nice. If only I wasn't so tired ...

"You shouldn't have, you stupid, stupid fop! I can't be killed that way! You idiot! You double-damned British idiot fop ..."

The insults sounded like endearments. Why did Klaus seem so upset? Oh yeah, he didn't want Dorian to love him and presumably didn't want to love Dorian either. That didn't matter. Finally, progress! Why, with that encouragement alone Dorian thought that he could wait another five years – easily!

"—would have known not to do that! It couldn't have killed me! I'm so, so sorry, my love! I'm so stupid! I just wanted you to do the chasing for a change – you always make me do the chasing! I'm an idiot! If I had only told you, you would have known not to jump in front of me like that to no use!"

Of course there had been a use! I'm not stupid, you know. I saved your life, didn't I? And you told me you loved me. That's worth everything! I'll tell you that ... tell you that as soon as I've taken a little nap. Yes ... I need to ... just a little nap.

"No! Don't close your eyes!"

Klaus's distraught wail broke through Dorian's increasing sleepiness, so he looked up again. He saw a blond agent – Z? – try to remove Klaus's uniform to get to his wound, but Klaus shrugged him off. The wound, just above his heart, looked nasty. Dorian frowned. Have to get him to stay still. Hospital. Yes. Take care of him. "Klaus?" he tried and barely managed to make the right sounds. They still seemed wrong somehow – wet and bubbly. Sharp, green eyes turned his way, at the same time as something blue flashed over Klaus's wound. Distracted by the colour, Dorian looked down again, in time to see the wound below the lightning melt away, to reveal unmarred, soft-looking skin. Oh, pretty! I want to touch ... Dorian thought. And then he died.

The months after Earl Dorian Red Gloria's death, Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach withdrew. He still worked for NATO, he still did his best for his country, he still bullied his agents and he still glowered at G's dresses, but his emotions never reached his eyes. It was widely known, in Bonn, Eberbach and various other places around the globe, that Iron Klaus was in mourning. He hadn't gone to Lord Gloria's funeral, hadn't even mentioned the man after that the body had been sent home and the only sign of his grief was those eyes that never lit up in either eagerness or anger. It was as if the world itself had turned to a darker, lonelier place even for a man who had always claimed that he needed no one and that everyone should just stay the hell away from him.

A, Z, D, F, H, J and K would sometimes get together and discuss what had happened there, on the boat, what their Major had said and what Z and A had thought that they had seen. Dorian's friend Petsie, who had turned out to be in league with the smugglers, had died, shot in the head by Klaus, and if he had seen anything extraordinary, he would never tell. The official version claimed that Petsie's first shot had only grazed Klaus's clothing while the second had hit the Earl of Red Gloria in the back. Z knew better. He had seen the wound on Klaus's shoulder and the strange, blue sheen. So had A. Z alone had seen how the wound had healed seamlessly. Amongst themselves the men wondered if maybe Dorian, who had always seemed like something not quite of this world to the down-to-earth agents, had somehow used his dying breath to heal the man that he loved. They never asked their superior what he thought and he never volunteered any information, so they never learned the truth.

One day four months after the horrible incident, G, Z, A and Klaus sat in a nondescript car outside one of KGB's secret houses in Amsterdam. Klaus and A both slumbered as they waited for their turn to keep a look out. Z and G spoke softly about nothing at all, just to pass the time and keep awake. They both heard Klaus moan before sitting straight up with his eyes locked on something far, far away.

"Major?" G called softly, just as Z asked, "Is everything all right, sir?"

Klaus didn't appear to hear either of them. Suddenly he smiled – a wide, bright smile that they never had seen him smile before. Then he closed his eyes and, still grinning contentedly, lay back on the seat and for all appearances returned to sleep.

They met Misha and his band on that mission, though in company with so many dignitaries that neither group could do anything but sneer at the other. Misha had, not quite tauntingly, given Klaus his condolences for the death of his paramour. To the agents surprise, Klaus had looked puzzled more than anything, as if he wasn't sure what Misha was talking about. Then he had shrugged and stalked off, grumbling about his Russian adversary.

More time passed and Klaus became his old self again, as if nothing had ever happened; as if there had never been an Earl of Red Gloria, no Prince of Thieves and no Shameless Stalker Extraordinaire. If he didn't smile – well, he had never smiled much – and if he seemed preoccupied with his work – well, that wasn't new either. He was Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach, NATO's Iron Klaus, and that was what he had always been, for as long as any of them had known him. The Eternal Major. Only rarely did the agents mention the deceased even amongst themselves – for what was there really to say about a dead man, but to regret the passing of such a warm smile and such talented, sticky fingers?

268 days, 4 hours, 16 minutes and some odd seconds after that his world had been torn apart, Klaus dropped his Magnum - again. Luckily he had been standing in a booth at one of NATO's shooting courts, going through the motions of his yearly check for them to make sure that he had kept his skill up. He disliked the checks since they pulled him away from his important work, but for useless activities they were at least of the enjoyable kind and he could pass the NATO tests dead drunk while standing on one leg. Not that he had ever tried, even if the possibility sometimes tempted him. And when his hand suddenly went slack and his Magnum fell – luckily not discharging, which would have been truly embarrassing and potentially dangerous – to have been dead drunk would have been a nice excuse. As it was he made good use of his growling ability and thoroughly intimidated the shooting instructor to ignore the whole thing. Since Klaus otherwise had a perfect score, he could even afford to take a total miss and still pass the test.

Yet, there had been a good reason for his momentary distraction. It just hadn't been one he could have told them without being sent straight to the loony bin.

268 days, 5 hours, 43 minutes and some odd seconds after the death of the light of Klaus's eyes, Klaus boarded a plane to England. He had been lucky and gotten a last minute ticket since one of the travellers had changed his mind and decided to take a later flight. Klaus's gentle way of persuasion might have had something to do with that decision. Or his Magnum.

The very same night, Queen Charlotte's Hospital.

There were guards, of course, but for someone as skilled as Klaus to slip past them was child's play, hardly even worth wasting conscious thought on. To find his way was easy too. He had been in British hospitals before, even if he disliked them, and knew roughly how to get where he wanted. Besides, he felt a tiny little pull in his heart, guiding him through the long corridors. The smells bothered him, but at least they were better than they had been fifty, much less a hundred years ago. Less blood and rot and filth and dirt: more intense cleansing and plastic and chill. Some smells lingered though: fear and urine and grief. Though for once, he wasn't at a hospital to take farewell or to visit someone sick or elderly. For once, he was there on a joyous occasion.

Finally, the little tug loosened up, like a knot falling apart, and he knew that he had reached his goal. The door opened under his fingers – while Dorian had been the Lord of Thieves, Klaus certainly had learned a trick or two himself over the many, many years - and he stepped inside. There were beeps and meeps, but no screams so far. For which he was grateful. He didn't have to step in farther, for eyes blue as bluebells had already caught him irrevocably. He reached into the cradle and lifted the little boy effortlessly. At least he hoped it was a boy, but the blue blanket hopefully indicated this fact. He would find out soon enough. Of course, such things were completely unimportant and would remain so for a good while yet. Klaus wondered absent-mindedly who he would be in twenty years or so. He couldn't remain Major von dem Eberbach more than, oh, ten years perhaps? He would probably have short hair again then – that always threw people who thought they recognized him off track. Still, that, too, was a concern for another day. He was fully content then and there to just hold and look and smell and know and love.

The blue eyes looked back at him. They shouldn't have been focused like they were, not for a long time yet, and still they were, and the babe neither screamed nor wriggled. "Oh, yes, you recognize me," he said softly and rocked his little burden lovingly. "You always do, no matter what. This time, I promise not to give you a tough time. And I'll tell you all my secrets as soon as you're old enough to understand them. But you could make my life a little easier too, couldn't you? Please, Benedict, try not to be such a fop this time around, would you?"

The End

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