It Ends With Goodbye
K-9 had identified the explosion as being two gunshots fired virtually simultaneously. The Doctor and Jason wasted no time scrambling to the lower level, not even bothering to inquire further.
Jason arrived first and stood in the doorway in a horrified silence. "Dorian…" he whispered as his expert eyes took in the thief's horrendous injuries. Then he saw the three bodies on the floor. One man was sprawled beside a table that held an appalling assortment of torture devices. He had a hole in the center of his chest that could only have been made by the Major's Magnum. An elegantly dressed woman had a similar injury and appeared to have been dumped out of the chair that was overturned beside her, a small handgun lying a few feet from her out flung hand. Then his eyes fell on the third body.
The Doctor had come up behind him by this time and was equally revolted by the scene.
Jason made straight for the downed officer, who was lying on his side, his back toward the door. He could hear Eroica's quiet sobs and looked up at him. "It was meant for me," the thief whimpered.
The Alterran carefully turned the Major onto his back and checked for any signs of life. To his astonishment, he found a weak pulse. "He's alive," he announced, hearing a small cry of relief from Eroica. This was followed by a cry of pain as the Doctor released the tension on the chains and slowly lowered him to the ground.
"Dorian, don't move," the Doctor instructed as he crossed to him. As gently as he could, he turned the thief onto his side. Then he unfastened his bindings, checking his injuries at the same time. Eroica's back was nothing more than raw strips of flesh and congealed blood. His body was covered with welts and bruises, and his mangled hands were swollen and badly discolored. The Time Lord stripped off his coat and covered the trembling form. "Just stay still," he said gently. "We'll look after you."
Eroica could have cared less about himself at this point and looked over at Jason, who was working on the gravely injured Major. To his bewilderment, he saw the Alterran snatch up the Magnum and cross to one of the display cases that lined one of the walls in the room.
"Where is it? Where is it?" Jason muttered to himself, searching the objects within. "I know I—Ah!" He used the gun to smash the glass and reached in, pulling out a small white disk. He then returned to the Major's side and placed the disk on his shoulder, quickly pulling his hands away a second later. Klaus shuddered and then went completely still.
Seeing this, Eroica gave a small sob, causing Jason to look up. "He's not dead," he said as he moved to the gravely injured man's side. "I've put him in stasis until I can treat him properly."
"Stasis?" Eroica was having enough trouble focusing and looked dully up at Jason, his confusion clearly evident.
"Suspended animation?" the Doctor said helpfully.
This the thief understood and he closed his eyes, suddenly aware of the fact that he was very, very cold.
"Stay with me, Dorian" Jason said firmly, taking the man's face in his hands. "Dorian. Look at me." The blue eyes that rivaled his own looked up at him. "You're going to be alright."
"You are both going to be alright. I will not let you die. I promise." The look in the man's eyes worried Jason. He couldn't save him if he gave up hope. "Dorian, do you believe me?" he asked pointedly.
A look of relief passed over Jason's face. "I need you to focus on that for me. Can you do that?"
"Focus…" Eroica said quietly. That was easier said than done. Everything was fading.
"Dorian, stay with me," came Jason's insistent voice.
Moving farther and farther away.
It was such an odd feeling.
God, I'm so tired.
Jason had been standing motionless for what seemed like hours. Behind him, the Doctor lay stretched out in the grass, his hat over his eyes, K-9 beside him. Around them, the Bavarian Alps were laid out in all their exquisite beauty.
The Major was right. This is a beautiful country, the Alterran thought. He had already been along the Rhine, visited several castles, and had even gone on a tour of West Berlin that ended at the famous Berlin Wall. This too was a sight. The Doctor explained that in only a few years time, the wall would be demolished, seemingly overnight and in front of an awestruck world. Shortly after that, the Soviet Union would collapse, ending the Cold War and the moving the threat of a nuclear holocaust to another section of the globe.
But that was in the Earth's future, and he was still in its past, standing in a serene meadow and taking in the beauty of the mountains. It was strange to be here, Jason thought reflectively. He had always loved the ocean, and never much cared for climbing to the top of the world just to look down on everyone. Now he could not seem to tear himself away.
"You'll always have the memories."
Jason jumped and turned. He had not heard the Doctor come up beside him. "I know. It's just… I don't want to just leave like we always do. It's always so…final."
"Jason, we can stay as long as you like," the Doctor said mildly. After a minute, he asked gently, "Are you going to be alright?"
"Yes." Jason nodded and turned to look at him. "It's just…never realized how many people we leave behind."
The Doctor studied his unusually subdued companion for several minutes. This little adventure had hit him very hard emotionally and the Time Lord could see it starting. Jason was realizing what it meant to travel constantly, never staying in one place for too long, never having a place to call home, no sense of permanence or belonging. But Jason did have a home, a family, a life, a father who was patiently waiting for him to return—one day.
The Doctor turned to take in the setting sun, and could not help wondering if the time were drawing near when his companion would return to the life he had left behind…leaving him on his own once again.
They all left eventually, each having a valid reason as to why it was necessary.
And one day, Jason would be giving his reasons.
One day. But not today. Today, they would enjoy Bavaria and not think about the future.
Eroica stood at the foot of the Major's hospital bed. He had been watching him sleep for some time. We both made it, Major. You'll hate yourself for it, but you saved my life. You're a hero, at least for now. He found himself wishing the Major would wake up just so he could hear him yell at him again. Ridiculous, really. There would be plenty of opportunities for him to do that in the future, thanks in no small part to the Doctor and Jason.
After Eroica passed out in the torture chamber, his next conscious memory was waking up in the sickbay of the TARDIS to find all of his injuries had been treated and miraculously repaired by the incredibly gifted Alterran Healer. Even his broken and mangled fingers looked and felt as though nothing had happened to them. Before he could even ask, Jason jokingly told him that he could continue his life with his vanity intact, as there were no scars anywhere on his body. He did not believe him until he finally got up the nerve to look in a mirror.
Then he learned how very close Klaus had been to death. The bullet he had taken for Eroica had lodged very close to his heart. One wrong move on Jason's part and it would have been all over for the Iron Major. But the miracle working Alterran surgeon had saved him as well. The Doctor had transported him back to Bonn, contacting NATO and placing him in their care. All for the best, Eroica thought, since his original mission come very close destroying the planet.
The Major stirred a moment, settling back into sleep.
Eroica smiled, pushing his mop of blond curls out of his face. He crossed to the bedside and placed the box he was holding on the table. Before leaving, he leaned down and gently kissed the Major's cheek.
The ever impatient James was waiting in the hall and followed after Eroica as he left the room. He was whining about something or other, not that Eroica was paying any attention. He had to get back to London and was already late getting to the airport, not that his pilot would complain. Ah! That's what James was whining about. Paying the pilot for doing nothing. This struck him as being so absurdly incongruous in comparison to everything he had just been through.
As Dorian Red Gloria, Earl of Gloria strode past the nurses' station toward the exit, it was not his flamboyant appearance or drop-dead good looks that attracted everyone's attention. It was the fact that he was laughing. Loudly, delightedly and uproariously. He was alive and intended to continue to live his life to the fullest.
Minutes after the thief had gone the Major stirred and finally opened his eyes. He looked around the room in some bewilderment, being quite surprised to find himself alive. Then the memory of waking in the TARDIS sickbay returned to him, the Doctor telling him what had happened and that he was being taken back to Bonn.
The installation had been destroyed. The man behind it, Vittorio Salliari, had been arrested, and not just for arranging the abduction of Eroica for his wife's grotesque entertainment. UNIT had been in contact with NATO, informing them that the operation had been a complete success and that all materials that could be compromised by KGB intelligence had been destroyed as well. To the Major's amazement, the Doctor informed him that Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart was recommending him for a commendation for his actions in averting a "situation" with the Soviet Union. He had no way of knowing this was really the Doctor's doing, nor would he ever find out.
A nurse was suddenly fussing over him, returning him to reality. He looked at her in annoyance. "So, you're finally awake, Major," she said happily.
The Major grunted in reply. This was rather obvious, he thought, and had he the strength, he would have told her this in excruciating detail.
"Will your friend be coming back?"
"Friend?" Klaus had to force the word from his mouth, his voice sounding thick from lack of use. A rarity indeed. As far as he knew, he had no friends, which suited him just fine.
"Yes, that gorgeous man who was just here. Tall, with the most beautiful curly blond hair," the nurse replied helpfully. "Is he a movie star?"
The Major closed his eyes. This could only have been one person and he found himself irritated and touched at the same time.
"He left you a present." The nurse indicated the box on the bedside table and placed it on the bed so he could reach it.
Verdammt woman, leave me alone.
"Shall I open it for you?" she asked excitedly, still oblivious to the fact that the Major had absolutely no interest in the package, its contents or its deliverer.
This was spoken with such force the nurse actually flinched. "Alright, suit yourself," she said sulkily. "I'm going to tell the doctor you're awake. He'll want to have a look at your dressing." So saying, she left the room in a huff, pulling the door closed behind her.
The Major was glad to be rid of her. He reached up to his aching chest, feeling the bandages where the bullet struck him. The bullet he had taken without a second thought. The bullet he had taken to save Eroica's life—Dorian's life.
Finally he turned his attention to the box, sighing heavily. He dreaded seeing what the perverted fop would consider an appropriate gift for a dying man. He pulled off the ribbon and hesitantly opened the lid. To his amazement, the box contained his Magnum, a single red rose and a note attached to which was the bullet Jason had removed from his chest. He opened the note, seeing these words. "This was meant for me. Thank you. From Eroica with love."
Klaus looked at the contents of the box and felt certain he should be angry. Infuriated. Outraged. Something along those lines. But for some reason, he felt none of those things. He looked around to make certain he was completely alone and then picked up the rose, smelling its sweet fragrance. With a small smile, he closed his eyes and lay back on his pillows.
- END -