AUTHOR'S NOTE: In honor of my 1 year anniversary of being pimped into the Eroica Fandom, which was sometime in mid-June 2005, I present my most cracked-out canonesque story yet. I am dedicating it to Miss Sindeniirelle, because she is the one who introduced me to Dorian, Klaus, and all the other space cadets who make "From Eroica With Love" so totally off the wall. And because she loves Dorian. Enjoy!
By Margaret Price
ON THE RUN
Klaus ducked into an alley, hoping to blend into the darkness. He tried to remember a mission that had gone to hell as quickly as this one. He came up blank. He threw a quick glance around the corner. Flashing lights seemed to be everywhere, and the sirens were giving him a headache. He leaned back against the wall and grimaced. His left side was on fire. He opened his coat and looked down, seeing a bloodstain blossoming on his shirt. He gritted his teeth, biting back the curses threatening to burst forth. He needed to be quiet and find somewhere to hide. The police were between him and his men, and his radio unit had been damaged beyond even his ability to repair, leaving him completely cut off.
Klaus took a moment to gather his wits before taking stock of his surroundings. At the far end of the alley, he could make out what could generously be called a hotel. It was probably a dive, but at least he could hide there, hopefully.
Within a few painful minutes, Klaus was through the side entrance and making his way down the hallway. He could hear voices coming from behind the doors, children crying, couples apparently arguing. Bloody Italians. Could they never be quiet?
He managed to get to the far end of the corridor before he heard the Italian Police screaming at the front desk, demanding to search the building. He went through the nearest door that had no sounds issuing forth and looked around the room, the grimace on his face turning into disgust. Calling this place a dive was being generous. Then he became aware of the fact that the room was occupied. He could hear someone in the bathroom and drew his gun, steeling himself for what he would find within.
Klaus opened the door and groaned inwardly. The occupant of the bathroom was a man, who was in the process of toweling off his hair. He was also stark naked. Why do I always end up in bathrooms with naked people when I'm in Italy? At least he could see that the man was unarmed. He slipped in, grabbing a towel from a stack on the counter. He unbuttoned his shirt and pressed the towel against his wound, a hiss of pain passing through his teeth.
This was apparently loud enough for the man across the room to hear. He did not even stop toweling his hair, saying something that sounded like, "Back so soon?"
Shit, a Goddamn limey. Klaus decided that this was probably an improvement over a wop, if only that the man was less likely to get hysterical. He could always rely on that bloody English reserve.
The Major could hear pounding on the doors of the other rooms and was across the bathroom with his gun pressed up against the back of the man's neck. To his credit, the man froze instantly. "Not a sound," Klaus ordered.
At that moment, the pounding sounded on the outside door. It was followed by a man demanding entry in Italian.
"May I take this towel off my head?" the Major's captive asked quietly.
"Yes. And cover yourself with it," Klaus snapped. He closed his eyes a moment, gritting his teeth against the growing pain in his side. When he opened his eyes again, they grew wide as he found himself staring into Eroica's equally astonished face. "Fuck."
The pounding moved from the outer door to the bathroom door.
To his credit, the thief did not ask any questions. He simply called out, "Do you mind? I'm trying to take a bath."
There was a pause. Then the reply came in English. "Police. Open the door."
Eroica gave the Major a steady look and crossed to the door, opening it more than a crack and giving the two men on the other side an appraising look. He had, as yet, to use the towel in his hand to cover himself. "Yes?" he said sweetly.
The now embarrassed police officers struggled to regain their composure. "We're searching for a…criminal with, er, dark hair…" one of them began hesitantly.
"Well, that doesn't fit my description, does it?" the Earl replied, shaking his still damp mop of blond curls. He started to open the door very slowly. "I'm all alone in here. Although you're welcome to come in and join me," he went on seductively. "The tub is rather small, but I'm sure at least one of you will fit quite nicely."
"No, sir! Sorry to have bothered you."
Eroica could not help grinning as the pair practically fell over themselves to get out of his room. He turned back, his expression becoming serious when he saw the Major was on his knees. He was dirty, sweating and looked completely exhausted.
"Bloody pervert," the officer growled.
"Be grateful for once, Major. It just saved your skin," Eroica snapped. "What the hell are you doing here?" he then demanded.
Klaus looked up, only to realize that eye level was now waist height and quickly turned away. "For Christ's sake, put something on. I don't want to look at that."
"I don't have anything. My clothes are all ruined." He waved a hand at a pile of mud-covered clothes against the wall. "Someone's going to my hotel to get me something else. That's who I thought you were." Eroica put his hands on the Major's shoulders. "I'll use your coat, if it'll make you happy."
"Whatever. Just cover yourself."
"You're a fine one to complain," the Earl replied. "You walked in on me, remember?" He was prevented from scolding the officer further when he pulled back his coat, revealing the wound in his side. "Christ, Major! You're bleeding!" he gasped.
"Idiot, you think I don't know that?"
This explained why the Major was sweating so heavily. He was probably in agony. Dorian snatched a dry towel from the counter and wrapped it around his waist. "Here, lie down." He received a fierce look in reply. "Don't even start with me, Major. Now, lie down before you pass out." To his amazement, the Major allowed him to take the gun out of his hand before he helped him to lie back.
Klaus gritted his teeth to keep from yelling in pain as he grudgingly allowed the Earl to assist him to the floor. Then he bit back every curse he could think of as the other man opened his shirt to exam his side.
"Major, is that a stab wound?"
"How long was the blade? Do you know?"
"No. Short, I think. It was dark. I only saw a flash."
Dorian nodded, grabbing the stack of towels from the counter. "I'm glad I asked for more of these," he remarked as he put one under the Major's head before pressing another to his wound, pulling a hiss of pain from him.
The pair jumped when there was pounding on the outer door again. When it was followed by Bonham's voice, they visibly relaxed.
"Sit tight, Major," Dorian said calmly. "With luck, that's my clothes."
Klaus closed his eyes and found himself wondering if there were a God, and if he were punishing him for deciding not to believe in him. He could think of no other reason he would end up in the pervert's bathroom when he was incapable of killing him.
Klaus opened his eyes at Bonham's exclamation, but didn't have the strength to reply beyond a low growl.
"Yes, you see what I'm talking about," the Earl was saying. "Now, do as I ask, will you?"
Eroica went to the Major's side. "Still with us, Major?" He received a dark look in reply. "I'm going to assume you're the one the Italian Police are looking for."
"I've sent for a doctor," Dorian said calmly. The officer's eyes widened, but he was prevented from replying as the Earl went on to say, "Don't worry, Major, he's not going to turn you in. I have a few friends in Italy, if you'll recall."
"Exactly." Dorian paused, wondering if he dared ask any questions. Then again, he knew the officer wouldn't answer anything that would breach security. "Major, um, why are the police after you, of all people?"
Klaus gave him a steady look. "The man who stabbed me was Italian Police," he replied succinctly. "He was also a terrorist."
"Red Brigade. He was after the information I was sent to collect." Klaus paused before adding, "And me."
"I assume you killed him."
"Yes. With his own gun, bloody idiot wop."
"And by doing that you bring the Italian Police to my doorstep," Eroica concluded, a distinct edge to his voice.
A wry smile twisted the Major's face. "So, finally, I interfere with one of your operations."
Before the Earl could reply, Bonham appeared at the door with a bundle of clothes. "M'lord," he said quietly.
"This will make you happy, Major. My clothes are here." Dorian received an unfocused look in reply that sent a chill down his spine. Don't you dare bleed to death. He got to his feet, crossing to Bonham. "What's the status on that surgeon?" he asked, taking the bundle.
"The local Don is sendin' 'im along with two of 'is men as, er, security," Bonham replied.
This was enough to gain the Major's attention. "Security…?"
"Bodyguards, Major," Eroica replied. He motioned to the man who had been standing silently behind Bonham. "Justin, come in and met the Major."
A moment later, Klaus was being introduced to the man who was the medic among Eroica's gang of thieves. "I'm going to leave you in Justin's capable hands, Major," Eroica informed as Justin covered the officer with a blanket.
"Where are you going?" Klaus was annoyed with himself when he heard the distress in his own voice. He hated being this vulnerable. And as much as he distrusted Eroica in innumerable things, he had the one consolation that the thief would not let him die.
"I'm going to lead the police away from here," Dorian replied.
A small smile came to the Earl's face. "Oh, Major. Have you forgotten how good I am at impersonating you?"
Klaus found himself amused and annoyed at the same time. "My men may already be in custody," he said quietly. "They won't know where I am."
"All the better." Eroica gave the officer a steady look. "You're going to fall off the face of the Earth for a few days, Major. You're in no condition to be running, and I have an operation underway. While the police are scouring the countryside looking for you, they won't be concentrating on a thief like me."
"You son-of-a-bitch. I'm gonna beat the crap out of you for this."
Dorian's eyes flickered. I hope you live so you can keep that promise. He looked Bonham in the eye before going into the next room to get dressed.
Ten minutes later, Klaus heard the outer door to the room slam shut. Damn Eroica for being in Italy. Damn him for being such a selfish bastard. And damn himself for being forced to put his life in the pervert's hands.
"Do you actually have any medical training?" the Major heard himself asking the man sitting silently beside him. "Or is that just more of Eroica's bullshit?"
"I was in Her Majesty's Service as a medic for four years, Major," Justin said calmly.
The Major's eyebrows went up. A military man among Eroica's team seemed incongruous. "Did you see active duty?"
"Yes, sir. In the Falklands," Justin replied, knowing this would impress the officer more than anything else he might say.
"Why are you…?"
"With the Earl?"
"Several reasons. But if you're asking what my job is, it's to make sure everyone is…clean, sir."
The Major could not prevent the sides of his mouth from twitching into a smile as the man continued to address him as a superior officer. Old habits died hard, it seems. "Clean?"
"Yes, sir. The Earl is very particular about keeping everyone…er, disease free, shall we say?"
"You're talking about AIDS, aren't you?"
Justin gave the officer a steady look and wondered how much information he was or was not supposed to divulge. He drew a deep breath. "Yes, sir. Among other things, my job is to make sure everyone is tested monthly, including the Earl."
Klaus found himself stunned to hear this. He was constantly harassing Eroica about AIDS and getting himself tested, only to learn he was already doing just that. He shivered and closed his eyes, wondering abstractly if the doctor would arrive in time to pronounce him dead from blood loss. He remembered nothing else after that.