The Usual Suspect

by Anne-Li

Author's disclaimer and notes: I don't own them, I just dream of doing so. Feedback is better than Cashew Marsipan. Corrections to my language (and other things) 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. 5.616 words. Written in September 2014.

Betaed by Heather Sparrows (thank you!) and Kadorienne (thank you!) and especially TelWoman (thank you!). Gift to Telwoman! Special thanks to firefly1311, for very good comments!

Crossover with The Usual Suspects. If you haven't seen the movie you might want to do that first, it's well worth it!

Things were going too well. Things going too well was, all in all, one of the few things that tended to make Klaus a little worried. In his expert opinion, things going too well was a sure sign that things were about to go to Hell in a handbasket.

For the last two missions there had been not a sight, not a glimpse, not a curly hair seen of Eroica. Klaus had seen art, yes, but no Eroica, which was almost an oxymoron. Except for the missing moron. Not only had both missions gone as smoothly as his Magnum's recoil. The Alphabet had been diligent, every one of them had done exactly what they should with not a single screw up in sight. They had been forced to go to Italy, which was not exactly promising in the first place, but by pure happenstance (or possibly even due to an exceptionally bright Alphabet Agent doing the booking) their hotel had been run by ex-compatriot Johann Metz, who ruled his domain with proper discipline - and kept on staff a German chef who made the crispiest fried potatoes Klaus had ever eaten outside of Germany.

In short: things had gone too well. And if no shoes had dropped yet, well, that just meant they had two shoes coming, didn’t it?

A sacrosanct rule of NATO HQ was to never, ever mention the E-word around Major von dem Eberbach. Or the D-word, the R-word or the G-word. So, at the pre-lunch Thursday review of next week’s upcoming mission, the Alphabets had been flabbergasted when their superior officer pointedly did not look towards any one of them - and especially not towards G - and asked in a clipped tone of voice: "Do we have intel on what that Ero buggering thief is up to?"

Silence blanketed the room as 26 men didn't even breathe while the 27th lit a cigarette and took a long puff.

"Well?" he then growled, an unmistakable order the others had become hard-wired to obey.

"N-no, no, no, sir," Agent G piped up. "No, no not a word. At, at all. Sir. I, actually, I haven't, haven't heard a, a word f-from my, my source since, since, oh, for well over a, a week now."

The "source", everyone knew, was Bonham, with whom Agent G had formed a strictly unofficial liaison between the teams. Klaus snarled contemptuously and was about to continue with other business, when G blurted out: "I'm getting worried. Ah. He should have called on Monday, but he didn't; didn’t even leave a message. I called the Castle on Tuesday, but there wasn't an answer. And then yesterday I called again, but no one answered, and I called the isle as well and nothing! I called this morning; I called at ten; I called just before we came in here. I'm ... worried, sir."

Klaus rolled his eyes in disdain. "Not knowing when he'll jump at me like a jack-in-the-box is what worries me. Find out what he's up to. M, N - assist. Report at 15:00. Now, to actual business. K, report."

At three, though, G, M and N had nothing to report. Literally nothing. It was as if the British Earl had disappeared into thin air, taking his entire gang with him.

Not that Klaus actually worried about what might have happened. Hell, no. It was just that he had this itch at the back of his head that demanded that he keep track of the pervert.

At five the trio reported to him again, but Eroica’s whereabouts still proved elusive. However, certain intelligence had started to show up. Worrisome intelligence - if one worried about the British fucker's health, that is, which Klaus definitely did not do. Someone was out to get Eroica. Someone big and ruthless and very, very dangerous. Someone not Klaus. Which was just plain wrong. Eroica was Iron Klaus’s to mess with and the world should know this by now.

So, Klaus sulked, but if he did anything more they would all think that he actually cared about what happened to that lunatic Brit or some such stupid nonsense.

The next day, however, the Chief called him into his office. He started by offering him a cup of coffee, but since the Sugar Incident Klaus had felt distinctly queasy whenever the Chief drank coffee, so he declined.

"Major von dem Eberbach. We've received worrying intelligence regarding that thief that wants to get you naked and sweaty in bed with him."

Was that really an approved way of addressing the situation? Klaus hardly thought so. "What is being said?" he asked briskly, knowing the futility of trying to argue with the Chief about his perverted fantasies.

"That the man’s gotten himself tangled up with Keyser Söze."

A chill ran down Klaus's spine.

Of course he had heard the name. Which law enforcement agent worth his salt hadn't? Keyser Söze was legend, and not in the cold war fashion legend either, but a legend exasperated spy masters told their junior agents to make them smarten up and realise the dangers of civilian life. Klaus himself might also be a legend, but at least he was on the military side.

“The fop stole something he shouldn't have, I suppose?"

Part of the Keyser legend was his stinginess with having things he considered his taken off with (even if he didn’t actually own these things). Bad things happened to people that tried to steal from Keyser. Not just lethally bad things either. Things that humiliated you thoroughly in the process, wrecked your reputation and then - if you were lucky - turned lethally bad.

"Intelligence doesn't say. But that’s INTERPOL’s best guess."

Klaus could see other options. Maybe the brainless Brit had finally flirted with someone more prone to put a permanent stop to that foolish nonsense. The notion made Klaus’s teeth ache. Sure, the Brit was annoying as fuck, but he was not supposed to flirt with all and sundry! If he absolutely had to flirt with someone, let him flirt with Klaus - Klaus could take it without turning into a homicidal maniac. No, no, really - he could! He just pretended, sometimes, to get the Brit to see that doing so was a terribly bad, not very good idea at all. Granted, he hadn’t been very successful with that so far. Damn it, he should have tried harder!

Their conversation was interrupted by the Chief’s secretary and Klaus had to leave. A minor kerfuffle had broken out during a suspected spotting of an Italian spy in Köln. Which turned out to be a waste of time, as that the “spy” was just a civilian with an unfortunate likeness to the man in question. By the time that mess had been cleared up, most of the Alphabets wore that sad, slightly hopeless look that said that Klaus was probably keeping them for longer after hours than usual, especially for a Friday. He ignored them for a few minutes longer, then dismissed them so he could round off his own work for another hour in peace before he stretched and left.

He took the elevator to the entrance level, where he passed security with barely a nod – he made a mental note to suggest a surprise inspection to keep the guards on their toes. Outside the early evening was pleasantly warm as he marched over to the NATO parking lot a block away. As soon as he entered he spotted a hunched figure by his car.

His mind did flash to the Earl of Gloria for just a second, but the shape was all wrong. Male, yes, but much shorter, with closely cropped hair and drawn in on himself rather than flamboyantly on display. Besides, the Earl was only one of the many shady characters that might be out to get him – if possibly the only one intent on getting him into bed, rather than into a more permanent resting place. So he took proper precaution before approaching, scanning the mostly abandoned lot with alert glances; hand on his holster.

He had only taken a few steps closer, when the man hobbled out from the shadows. Something was wrong with his left leg – and his left hand Klaus noticed a moment later, by the way the man held it protectively to his body with his right. Caucasian, thin and worried-looking, about 1.78, with black hair cut short and with a very pronounced widow’s peak.

Still glancing around, Klaus stopped and let the man approach him.

“M-major von dem Eberbach? That is, is you, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. Who’re you?”

“M-my name is Roger Kint, everyone calls me Verbal. I, I have information about, about Keyser Söze. And, and why he’s looking for Eroica.”

Klaus was almost always aware of when he was being manipulated and this was no exception. Normally it set his teeth on edge and made him want to shoot people. Or wash himself thoroughly, if it was the fop doing it. Strangely, though, when after only a couple of minutes of conversation the cripple had started shaking and looked at him with those eyes like a kicked puppy’s and asked if he knew about any hotels close to where they were, as his leg really hurt after the long walk and all, he found himself ordering the man into the Benz, not really very annoyed at all. He wasn’t a total unfeeling bastard, even if he hid that fact well. Besides, the man was currently his best source of intelligence, having actually seen Keyser Söze himself.

“O-only from a distance. On a ship he blew up. And o-only for a moment. He felt sorry for, for me, I guess, and let me go to tell the, the tale. To warn others.”

The stuttering should be hellishly annoying. But the man was obviously working very hard to overcome his disability, forcing the words out through a throat that just wouldn’t co-operate. Alone in the car with the man and not really with anything better to do than to listen, Klaus sped the Mercedes towards Eberbach. Since the weekend was coming up he’d go home there, rather than to his apartment in Bonn.

“His mother’s from Turkey. They say his father was German. He led a g-gang of Turkish criminals. They say that a, a group of Hungarians wanted their own mob. They came to his, his home one day when he was out and, and they raped h-his wife and t-they—“

For a stutterer, the guy’s name – Verbal - was oddly fitting. He was taking forever to get to the point.

“—showed them what true strength really is. He shot his wife and daughter and, and then the gang as well. He, he killed them all and their wives and their parents and their parents’ friends and then—“

“Bit of a drama queen,” Klaus commented dryly, which had Verbal staring at him, wide-eyed, for a moment. Then he chuckled.

“I guess. But then he stepped back. M-made himself a shadow king. No one has ever seen him since. Until the San Pedro Bay affair. But I ha-have to tell you, Major von dem Eberbach, a-a man like that. If not for that Gian Maria Volovo-vonte sending me here I never would have dared to step forward to, to help you.”

A bit annoying to owe any type of thanks to the closeted Italian thug. But Klaus knew well how the man wagged his tail around Eroica and would do anything to help him.

“A-and Eroica, of course. He is, is a legend. I, I hope I’ll be of, of some small help to, to him and that maybe he’ll be interested in, in letting me be part of his gang. I’m just a short-con operator, but that’s really all I want.”

Which seemed rather unlikely to Klaus. Apparently the cripple was queer on top of everything else and Klaus felt almost a bit sorry for him, because even he could tell that the guy wasn’t anywhere near Dorian’s usual type. But Klaus decided to let the poor fucker live in hope for a while longer. Verbal seemed to have little enough hope.

“-don’t happen t-to know where Eroica is, d-do you, Major von dem Eberbach? I, I would like to, to go to him.”

Klaus shook his head briefly. “No clue. He normally shows up when I least want him around, that’s all I know.”

Verbal nodded and clutched his hand harder. Then he resumed telling Klaus what he knew of Keyser Söze. The Turk seemed ruthless and had a knack for choosing brutally efficient solutions to being inconvenienced. And when he was slighted, the man had a tendency of not just going for the jugular, but for everything except the jugular until the poor suckers that had evoked his wrath had no choice but to go for it themselves. Klaus could admire that in a guy, if not his methods.

“A man like that, Major von dem Eberbach. I ask you, how do you betray a man like that? Keyser Söze is the devil himself, I tell you. H-how do you betray the, the devil? How do you shoot the devil in the back?”

Klaus was just about to answer that particular conundrum, when he turned the car up the driveway to Schloss Eberbach and realised that he had brought the crippled little criminal to his very own home without even telling the guy of this plan. “Ehm. We have more to discuss. The Schloss’s full of extra rooms. My butler will put you up in one. I’ll drop you at the train station tomorrow.”

“That’s awfully nice of you. Thank you!”

The butler would probably be ecstatic to have someone to fuss over. And Verbal looked like he could use a bit of fussing, even if Klaus couldn’t stand for it himself.

He parked the Benz by the front steps and left the keys in the ignition – Mark, the gardener, would drive the car to the garage and the butler would present Klaus with the keys in the morning. Klaus waited impatiently for Verbal to extract himself from the passenger seat, then jogged up the steps. The notion that perhaps he should have gone around the back and taken Verbal in through the lower entrance did occur to him, but not until he was almost up and the butler had opened the door for him already, looking past him down towards the man who cumbersomely made his way up the stairs.

“Young master Klaus! You’ve brought us a guest home!” Herr Hinkel extolled, as if Klaus never did that.

Which he never did. Well, apart from the twice-a-year dinners with the Alphabet. And occasionally an Alphabet or two as part of a mission when they’d have to leave early or late. And then there was the fop, of course.

But did Herr Hinkel have to stare the way he did at Verbal? One’d think that Klaus had brought home a pregnant woman or something.

Verbal had finally reached the door and the three of them stepped inside.

“Herr Hinkel. This is Roger Kint. He’ll be staying the night. Put him up somewhere.”

“Roger Kint, sir?” the butler said, with a hint of hesitation.

“Yes, are you going deaf in your old age? And get us some coffee before dinner, stat.”

They entered the small drawing room.

“Very … well, sir. And shall I put … Mr Kint in with your other guests?”

And that was when Klaus was attacked by an amorous Englishman.

“Darling! You’ve brought home another man! I’m so jealous!”

Klaus officially hated his life. Apparently Eroica had holed up in Schloss Eberbach since Monday morning and for some bizarre reason the doddering butler hadn’t seen fit to inform Klaus about the intruders. Possibly he had been under the impression that Klaus had been aware of the invasion. Possibly due to a letter in Klaus’s handwriting informing him of that the Englishman and his crew were about to arrive. A letter, needless to say, Klaus never had written and never would have written.

He fully intended to give the butler a very sharp reprimand regarding this, but once the man had settled them all in the drawing room and served two large coffees – Nescafé for Klaus and some fancier, Central American brand for Kint - and tea for the Earl, he had abandoned them there on the pretence of some kitchen emergency or whatever.

At least Kint’s presence was enough to keep Eroica from climbing Klaus like a tree. Despite the startling accusation the Earl had flung the minute he assaulted Klaus on entering, Dorian clearly didn’t view Kint as “competition” in any way. In fact, he seemed to have taken some sort of instant liking to the shy cripple, and was nattering on about various mutual acquaintances they apparently had. Klaus tried his best not to listen too carefully – though INTERPOL probably would have appreciated if he had recorded them. Bah, he wasn’t INTERPOL and there was no reason why he should try to make their work easier for them – it wasn’t as if they ever helped him with his work.

“—of course, the Vatican has a number of absolutely gorgeous treasures. They’re really not as astute as they’d have us believe, those monks. Seriously, Verbie, you don’t mind if I call you Verbie, do you? Well, seriously, Verbie, I could have taken anything I wanted, truly anything, but I thought—“

And Kint looked positively dazzled by the attention lavished on him.

Klaus drank his coffee with intent. Coffee first. Deal with fops later.

Then he heard a faint cough from the door. The gaga butler was standing there, giving Klaus a discreet look that implied that Herr Hinkel wished to have a word with him. Normally this look was given to him during the annual Eberbach Christmas parties when Klaus had tried to be sociable and actually answered questions like “What do you think of this dress, Graf von dem Eberbach, doesn’t my daughter just look stunning in it?”

Not sure what he could have done wrong while just drinking coffee – he hadn’t even fingered his gun! – he rose and walked up to Herr Hinkel, only to have the butler turn and walk out into the corridor instead.

“What now?” he demanded, hoping vaguely that Pumpkin Pants hadn’t gone missing – or maybe he hoped it had, that way maybe the fop would leave soon.

“I took the liberty of informing your father about your guest, sir. He wishes to speak to you. He’s on the phone in the smoking room.”

Klaus really, really, really hated his life sometimes. Especially when he found it crashing down on him. The butler had told his father about Eroica? Why in heaven’s name would the demented man do any such thing!?

“You … informed … Father … why?”

“I felt I must, sir. I … Talk to your father now, Master Klaus. I … tell him I said that it is not good to keep secrets from family members. Go on, he’s waiting.”

Klaus could only stare at the sincere eyes of the butler. His belly churned. Herr Hinkel thought he was having an affair with the ridiculous fop? That he was a homosexual? And now expected him to tell his father about it? Why was this Klaus’s world?

“I’ll have a word with you about this later, Herr Hinkel!” he hissed in a tone that would have made any semi-intelligent Alphabet dash for freedom, but the butler merely smiled mildly at him –the man was really going gaga. But his father waited on the phone, so there was no delaying the inevitable. He would have to talk to the old man and set him straight. There was absolutely nothing going on between Klaus and Eroica. At least over the phone Klaus would be able to lie with utter conviction about that. Not that it was a lie! Not at all! A strange dream or two does not any type of relationship make! But even if his father might have been able to tell that he was hiding something if they met face to face, over the phone he’d have no such opportunity.

He marched into the smoking room. Sure enough, the phone lay off the hook, with the coil like a hangman’s rope from the base station. Klaus afforded himself a solid breath in and a slow exhale, then lifted the receiver.



His father sounded a bit unsure. What the blazes had the senile butler actually told him?

“I’m not sure why Herr Hinkel saw fit to contact you, Father.”

“Neither do I, Son.”

So maybe they could just end this conversation? Yes? Both of them could go back to their respective lives, hopefully not meeting until Christmas? But before Klaus could find a reasonable way of formulating this perfectly reasonable plan, his father cleared his throat.

“But now that we are both on the phone, we might as well talk. Herr Hinkel said that it is not good to keep secrets from family members.”

The traitorous butler had said that Klaus was to say that to his father! Now apparently the butler had already done so! So that his father knew there was a secret Klaus was supposed to let him in on! Only there wasn’t! Absolutely not! He’d fire the butler this time, he really would!

“So, Son, I find I must speak to you about this. You’re old enough, I suppose. Old enough to know that … well, the need of the body does not always … follow the logic of the mind. Ehm. Or even by society dictated norms.”

His father was going to talk to him about sex! Homosexual sex! Klaus could feel himself start gasping for air. He must stop this travesty! Or possibly kill himself, whichever came easiest.

“Father, I must—“

“Be quiet, Klaus Heinz. This is difficult for me and I do not wish to say it more than once.”

“But Father—“

“No! Be a good son and stay quiet while I speak to you!”

Possibly the best course of action was not to shout “I’m not a degenerate fop and I’ve never ever had a wet dream about another man!” Why, oh why had Herr Hinkel put him in this situation?

“Good, Klaus Heinz. Now, don’t interrupt me further. After your mother’s death I was at a loss. There was you, of course, and my obligations to our nation and to our family. Still, I was not at my best. I was weak, you might say—“

Heilige Scheiße! His father had had sex with another man and was going to tell him it was only a temporary insanity that he would outgrow! Oh, shit …

“—and she was a very handsome woman. Her name was Amina and—“


“—no need to go into details, but sufficient to say that some months later she came to me to tell me she was pregnant. Then in the spring she—“

P … regnant?

“—gave birth to a healthy baby boy. I paid due support, of course, though when she moved abroad I lost most contact with them. I saw him a few times later on and—“

Abroad. To … England? No. No, no, no. von dem Eberbach, breathe or you’ll faint!

“--some years ago I heard some rumours about him—“

Being a total fop? But … no. That made no sense at all. Eroica was from a distinguished British family, through and through, son of a Lord and whatnot. Klaus had investigated the Reds, briefly, just to make sure he wasn’t a Russian agent in disguise (some of those Russians went to terrifying lengths to establish themselves as moles). And no, just no, the Earl couldn’t be, could definitely not be—

“—having a family of his own, but that’s all I heard and—“

Family? No, that really didn’t fit. Unless you counted that bizarre gathering of homosexuals Dorian surrounded himself with, but he really didn’t think his father would consider a nutty accountant and a bunch of forgers and assorted queer criminals any type of family.

“—I was completely shocked when Herr Hinkel phoned me to inform me of your guest. He recognised his features – and his name, of course. Amina was a handsome woman, as I said. Not conventionally pretty, but she had a certain type of magnetism that could pull you in and not let you go, it just made you want to—Well, no need to go into that.”

Klaus was just trying to make sense of all this, because the details just weren’t slotting together, when his father pulled a deep breath and said clearly: “Klaus, I believe that Roger is your brother.”

Then there was a strange moment of dizziness and Klaus must have missed a few words, because the next thing he heard from the telephone was a concerned “Klaus? Hallo? Hallo?”

“Father. You are telling me that … Roger Kint is my brother?”

“Younger half-brother, yes. And a bastard, of course. He has no claim to the family heritance. Yes, Roger. Not Kint, though, he must have changed his surname later on. Would you believe that Amina wanted to name him Kaiser? I explained that it would be inappropriate, all things considered. But his birth name was Roger. Roger Söze.”

And possibly he said something more after that, but Klaus was already running.

Running silently in steel toes is difficult, but Klaus had training. He also had a civilian trapped in a room with one of the most vicious, ruthless killers in the world. So rather than risk a reflex lashing out he slowed down the last couple of steps from the door and casually hid his Magnum, still in hand, under his open jacket. A careless move could result in him shooting the wall, but he had a strong trigger finger protectively on the trigger, keeping it from catching in the cloth.

“—so sweet of you, Verbie. But I’m not sure I have any openings right now. I might, though, depending on your specialities. Won’t you tell me a bit more about yourself? What was it you say you did for dear Gian Maria?”

Klaus stepped over the threshold, shoulders down, face at neutral, finding them both where he had left them. “Verbal Kint” in the red chair, coffee cup in his right hand; the crippled left out of sight under the table. Eroica in the blue chair, curled up like a cat, smiling benevolently and sniffing at his bloody tea which he held coquettishly with both hands near his face and pinkies sticking out everywhere.

“I-I--,” Verbal stuttered, looking up towards Klaus with those worried, dark eyes, pulling in on himself and then – in a blink, he wasn’t doing so, any longer. “--didn’t.”

The gun in Verbal’s left hand aimed at Klaus’s chest even as Klaus’s Magnum came to bear and the hunched figure had transformed entirely. When their eyes met Verbal’s gaze was as sharp and penetrating as Klaus’s own.

And small wonder.

“Klaus! Seriously! What is the meaning of this? I got tea all over me!” the fop chided sharply, but Klaus couldn’t take his eyes away from the man known as Keyser Söze.

“You can’t have Eroica,” he informed his half-brother grimly.

“I killed my own family,” Verbal said, his voice still soft, but smooth now, like honey and cream and other soft, smooth things Klaus abhorred. “Do you think I’d hesitate for a moment to kill a stranger because a half-brother I never met before tells me not to?”

So that answered that. Verbal had known of their relationship all along.

Klaus snorted. “I don’t expect you to. But you can’t have him. What the fuck do you think he stole from you, anyway?”

“Sixteen paintings from the Shens de Ment that one of my teams would have taken three days later. The frames were hollow, filled with Thulium for my laboratories in South Africa.”

“Shens de Ment?” the fop said, now sounding puzzled. “I haven’t been there since they opened their dreadful Impressionist department.” With an elegant gesture he placed the cup of tea on the table between him and Keyser.

“If he stole them before your guys did, tough luck. Besides, he’s not after Thulium, whatever the fuck that is. Give his greedy accountant a tenner and he’ll hand it all over and leap for joy. What—“

“Darling, I never stole sixteen paintings from Shens de Ment. I think there must have been some sort of misunderstanding.”

Klaus felt the start of a burning headache. Sometimes he really hated his life. “If he says he didn’t steal them, he probably didn’t. He’s a braggart about his heists, like a peacock.”

“Darling! I’d never do anything as gauche as to brag! I—“

“Shut your trap. I read about that theft, last week. Some of those dotty paintings, right? You’d think the artist’s going blind or is high on something? If it’d been fat naked people it might have been him, but he doesn’t take things he doesn’t admire, even if he’s not going to keep them. I think you have the wrong guy, Keyser.”

The smile on the Earl’s face was dazzling. “Oh, darling! You recognize my taste in art! I knew you loved me! I—“

“Shut up!” Klaus met the sharp gaze of his half-brother with no hesitation, noting that their pistols were equally steady. “I really think you have the wrong guy. Brother.”

From behind him he heard a door slam, followed by the metallic squeak and roll of a wagon. The butler was approaching. Klaus took a measured step deeper into the room. Neither of them fired.

“I could ask around a bit, see what I can find out,” Dorian offered and sent a beaming smile Keyser’s way. “Did I understand correctly that you are actually Klaus’s half-brother, Verbie? I should have known, you both have the same animal magnetism, I can hardly tear my eyes away from you. But why, that practically makes us family already! I’m sure I could find whoever had the bad taste of taking those Impressionist paintings of yours in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. What do you say, you handsome dog, you?”

To Klaus’ utter amazement, Keyser blinked and his cheeks coloured. Then Herr Hinkel came into the room – arse first, pulling a trolley. By the time he turned to face them, no weapons were in sight. The butler shone like it was Christmas come early. “Young Master Roger, I’m so pleased to have you back home with us. I knew you when you were a tyke. I changed your diapers, did you know that? You were such a quiet baby, not at all the screamer Young Master Klaus was. I’m so glad to see both my boys together.”

Klaus met Keyser’s gaze again and could read his own horror perfectly reflected in the other man’s eyes.

“So. Brother. You are … homosexual? I don’t care if you are or not, I’m just wondering if you and Eroica …?”

“No,” Klaus answered sharply. “He follows me around and professes his love like a canary bird on drugs, but I do my best to keep him at arm’s length.” And he had long arms.

The morning had found Dorian vanished from Schloss Eberbach, apparently secure in his knowledge that he had the crime lord Söze wrapped around his little finger. Söze would soon be on his way too. Klaus felt vaguely that perhaps he should try to contact INTERPOL, but he wasn’t about to have the butler cry on him now that the prodigal son had returned home – and that the prodigal son now could pull some heat off the diaper stories from Klaus’s youth.

“How do you get him to steal for you, then?” Verbal asked, with an interested gleam in his eyes.

“Generally I try to get him to stop doing it, not the other way around. But I want you to stay away from him. He’s … not like you and me. He …“ He trailed off, not sure how to phrase himself.

“He cares?”

Klaus shrugged. It wasn’t quite how he would have put things. “He’s soft. He’s … human. He can be surprisingly ruthless too, when he wants something, but … yes. He cares.”

Verbal nodded. “Brother. Meeting you was … interesting.”

Klaus looked into the dark eyes – so like his own, yet so unlike them. “If you don’t mess with my world, I won’t mess with yours,” he offered stiffly.

“I don’t think we have much in common anyway, so that shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll just stay away from the blond for you, will I?” His eyebrows rose and waggled, as if Verbal knew a secret that amused him.

Klaus reached out to shake his hand. While he normally favoured his right hand apart from when shooting and fighting he used his left this time, to Verbal’s left; the one he had pretended was crippled.

“Perhaps you better. Because, ‘Verbie’, that question you asked before?”

“Which one?”

“How do you shoot the devil in the back?”


“I wouldn’t. I’d shoot him the same place I shoot everyone else.” He reached out, slowly so that his half-brother wouldn’t take the move for an attack, to touch the area in question briefly. “Right between the eyes.”

The End

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