AUTHOR'S NOTES: Yes, I have gone for the warm and fuzzy ending. I dare you not to say, "Aw," when you find out what the surprise is. Or at the ending.
Tell Me You Love Me
Just as on every other occasion, the time at the cabin was too short. Dorian had made considerable progress as far as Klaus was concerned, but not nearly as much as he would have liked himself. He felt heartsick when the Major dropped him off at his hotel. In a few weeks, he would be going back to England to finish his convalescence at Castle Gloria.
He would not be able to appear during the Major's missions while he was still recovering. Nor did he think he could go back to thieving until he had at least had part of his memories back. To his delight, Klaus continued to meet him at the cabin every few months. With each visit, more and more memories broke through, sometimes whole blocks at a time. Hopefully, they would all return eventually. Although, the memory of the rape could remain buried for all eternity as far as Dorian was concerned.
Before Dorian knew it, it was summer and he found himself sitting in the grass, looking down at the lake again. The day was warm, with a gentle breeze blowing a few stray clouds in the sky. Klaus was a short distance away, silently smoking a cigarette. After a few minutes, the Earl looked over at him. Klaus was leaning back against a tree, his eyes closed, the hand with his cigarette in it perched atop an upraised knee. He was sure this was the most relaxed he had ever seen Iron Klaus.
"I love you, Klaus," Dorian said suddenly.
Klaus opened his eyes and looked over at him, a small smile coming to his face. The phrase that had once caused him to knock the man across a room was now one he could not hear enough. "Show me," he said mildly. To his surprise, Dorian turned away. "What's wrong?"
"Well, that narrows it down."
Dorian sighed heavily, getting to his feet. With the exception of the one instance while Klaus was half-asleep, he had never heard the man tell him that he loved him. Should he ask him to say it? He had proven it in so many ways over the past year. But the strain of keeping their relationship a secret during his recovery was difficult. A voice in the back of his head told him that it had been a problem long before he lost ten years of his life.
"I think we should get back, now." Dorian said at last, getting to his feet.
"Dorian, what's wrong? What have you remembered?"
"Nothing…" He sighed. "Nothing I can put my finger on," came the vague reply. "I'm sorry I'm such a burden to you."
"God dammit, Dorian, don't start that again," Klaus moaned as he got to his feet, flicking his cigarette butt away. "If I thought you were a burden, I'd've left you in the hospital with hysterical amnesia." The reply to this was a tight hug from the Earl.
"Thank you for being so patient with me," Dorian sighed. "I love you."
"I know. You tell me all the time."
Finally, Dorian could stand it no longer. "Then why don't you tell me?"
"I'm sure you think it's ridiculous, and foppish, and sappy. And I know you've proved it in a hundred different ways that I may never remember." Once he started, Dorian could not stop the words tumbling out of him. "But just once I'd like to hear you say it. That…if you could, you'd tell the world."
Klaus stood silently looking at him. Now it was his turn to experience déjà vu. They had had this conversation numerous times before. While treasuring their time together, Dorian was tiring of the pretense. The military had finally set an official policy. Klaus's career was no longer in danger, even if he only let his own men know the truth. It was an issue Dorian had brought up for more than a year. An issue that Klaus had planned on resolving the day Dorian was attacked.
"Let's go back," Klaus said finally, holding out a hand. "There's something… Let's go back."
Dorian's eyes narrowed suspiciously. He took the outstretched hand and followed. They walked the distance back to the cabin in silence.
Dorian frowned when Klaus went to the back of his Mercedes rather than inside. "Klaus, what on earth…?"
"I've had this for more than a year now," Klaus said as he popped the trunk. "I was gonna give it to you that night…" He closed his eyes and left the sentence unfinished. He reached into the trunk, pulling out a small cardboard box that definitely had the look of something that had been left to bounce around in the back of a car for more than a year.
"What is that?" Dorian asked suspiciously.
Klaus gave a small smile and nodded towards the cabin. "Inside," he said cryptically.
"You just love being mysterious, don't you?"
"I've been waiting more than a year. I want to do this right," Klaus replied as he led the way inside. Because you're the romantic and I don't want to fuckit up. He held out a hand. "Sit, please."
Dorian sat down on the leather couch and waited, his eyes bright with anticipation.
Klaus put the box on a table and opened it, drawing a deep breath. "There were roses in here before," he said mildly. "And I even had a speech all memorized. I'll be damned if I can remember it now." He pulled out a small box and sat down beside Dorian. He opened what turned out to be a ring box, and held it out. Inside was a thick gold band. "The part I remember is this. You wear a ring on your finger all the time. I would be honored if you'd replaced it with this one."
Dorian's enormous blue eyes grew even wider, a small gasp escaping him. He took the ring from the box and looked at it. Etched into it, wrapping around a rope, were small roses each with a tiny ruby in its center. A rope of wire, no doubt. Dorian smiled as he realized the significance and looked up. "Oh, Klaus, it's beautiful," he breathed. "Where did you get the design?"
"It's from a drawing you did of me."
Dorian gave a small gasp. "I remember that!" He gave a delighted laugh at the clarity of the memory. This was happening more and more often. "I drew you all tangled up in rose vines. My German wire rope entwined in English roses."
I am so glad you remember that. Klaus drew a deep breath. "There's…an inscription."
Dorian looked down, holding up the ring. Inside was written, "I am forever entwined. All my love. Klaus." A hand went to the Earl's mouth and he had to fight to hold back the tears. "You've had this a year?" he said in a small voice.
"Yes. There are ten roses. One for each year."
Dorian was suddenly kissing Klaus for all he was worth. When he finally came up for air, he smiled brightly and then pulled the ring off his right hand, replacing it with the new one. It was a perfect fit. "I'm not even going to ask how you sized it." He kissed Klaus on the cheek. "Thank you."
"You really do love me, don't you?"
It was a rhetorical question, but Klaus answered it anyway. "Yes. I want to tell the world."
Dorian gave him a sideways glance. "Sure you do."
"They finally set down policy pertaining to sexual orientation some time ago. You've been telling me for a very long time that it won't affect my career if the whole world knows." Klaus looked the Earl in the eye. "I planned on giving you that and then…" He paused, drawing a deep breath. "I was gonna suggest that we tell our respective teams about us."
Dorian gave him a dubious look. "You were?"
Klaus nodded. "I already told Bonham and my butler what I planned to do so they would know who was privy to the information. Then it all got fucked up."
Dorian thought this over a moment. "Are you still willing to do that?"
"Yes. With one stipulation. No sex during a mission."
"Oh, Major, that isn't fair!" Dorian moaned playfully.
"You're distracting enough as it is, Eroica."
A brilliant smile lit up the Earl's face. "That will just make the sex afterward that much better!"
Klaus sighed heavily, rolling his eyes. "You're impossible, bloody pervert."
This just made Dorian laugh. "How do you think your men will take it?"
"Z already knows," Klaus informed. "He walked into your hospital room that night and caught me—" He broke off and closed his eyes at the memory. Thank God you don't remember what happened.
"Caught you what?"
"He caught me crying."
"What? You?" Considering all the unexpected things Dorian had heard coming from Iron Klaus over the last year, this was one of the most unexpected. That, and his finally having said yes.
"I thought I was gonna lose you." Klaus met he gaze steadily. "And then…I almost did."
Dorian sat staring into his face for several seconds. When Klaus softly said, "I love you," the Earl practically pounced on him, pushing him down onto the couch. "I'm gonna ravage you right here in the middle of the living room."
"You sure you're up to it?"
"Oh! I'm all healed up, with a clean bill of health from my doctor, my darling Major!" Dorian captured his mouth in a passionate kiss. He reached up to unbutton his shirt only to have Klaus grab him by the wrists, stopping his progress.
"I almost forgot," Klaus said suddenly.
"It's your birthday tomorrow."
Dorian blinked. Then he gave him a sideways glance that looked more like a leer. "Are you my present?" he asked with a purr.
Klaus gave the appearance of thinking this over. "Yes."
"The gift that keeps on giving!" Dorian laughed as he started to nuzzle the man's neck.
"So start unwrapping."
Dorian giggled, his hands moving to unbutton his shirt. His eyes fell on the new ring on his finger and he stopped to look at it. "At the risk of sounding foppish," he said, giving Klaus a quick kiss, "I love you, my beautiful German wire rope."
Klaus smiled, putting a hand behind Dorian's neck and pulling him back down again. "At the risk of sounding equally foppish, I love you, too, my entwining English rose."
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