AUTHOR'S NOTES: This fic is the result of an adopted plot bunny, some conversations on message boards and LJ, Lawrence's remarks about the Emperor of the Hamburg Nights in canon, and my own twisted imagination. All I ask is that you refrain from giving away the ending in your reviews.


FORBIDDEN FRUIT
By Margaret Price

Chapter One
Touch Of The Flu

"I'm sorry I ruined the evening," Dorian said weakly.

"Will you stop saying that. It's not your fault you became ill," Klaus replied, trying to keep the accusing edge from his voice.

They were in Dorian's car heading back to Castle Gloria after a very curtailed evening out. The Major was in London for a conference and they had planned on a full night, only to have it cut short by Dorian becoming violently ill at dinner.

"I think I got some bad seafood."

"I told you to listen to the waitress and steer clear of that Middle Eastern crap."

"Which one? The one with the big tits? Or the one in the belly dancer's outfit that you couldn't kept your eyes off of?"

Klaus rolled his eyes. "You're never gonna let that go, are you?"

"You said you liked belly dancers."

"I was trying to piss you off!" Klaus retorted. "And you know I watch everything. Like the way you were looking at that candy-ass pretty boy who brought the wine."

Before the argument could go any further, Dorian put a hand to his mouth. "Oh, God, Klaus, I think I'm gonna be sick again…"

Klaus threw a quick glance to the passenger seat and pulled off the road. At least this damned sports car is maneuverable. He barely came to a stop before Dorian had the door open and was heaving his guts out on the side of the road. After a few minutes, he leaned back into his seat, pulling the door closed.

"That is so undignified," he groaned, closing his eyes. He was startled when Klaus put a hand to his forehead

"I think you may be running a fever," Klaus said in a concerned voice. He turned back, pulling the car back onto the road. "We're only about five minutes from the Castle. Just hang on."

Dorian nodded and closed his eyes again.

Klaus drove up to the front of the Castle and then threw a concerned look at Dorian as he put the car in park. The Earl looked grey. "Stay put. I'll get help."

Within a few minutes, Dorian was being helped from the car and practically carried up to his bedroom, where he was assisted into a pair of silk pajamas and put to bed.

"Do you think we should send for a doctor, Major?" Bonham asked, worry clearly written all over his usually jovial face.

Klaus considered. As quickly as the Earl had become ill, it could just as easily be a case of food poisoning. "Is there anyone in this band of thieves that has medical training?"

"That would be Justin," Bonham replied. He turned on his heel, crossing to the house phone. "I'll have him sent up directly."

Justin appeared in less than two minutes and spent another few minutes talking with the Earl, after which he came over to Bonham. "I don't think it's food poisoning. I think Lord Gloria has the flu," he stated flatly.

Klaus scowled. "How do you figure that? His symptoms…"

"Didn't appear as fast as you believe," Justin broke in. "Lord Gloria wasn't feeling too well earlier today. He didn't want it to interfere with your evening, Major, since you're only here for a few days."

Klaus drew a deep breath, throwing a concerned look across the room.

Justin cleared his throat nervously. "It…might be best if you…avoided contact, sir. To limit your exposure."

The Major's eyes snapped back to the man's face. "I've been inoculated against diseases as severe as small pox and cholera, and as minor as influenza," he said sharply. He received a frightened stricken look in reply and sighed heavily. "I appreciate your concern for my health," he said calmly. "I'm not… used to this arrangement yet, either."

Relief washed visibly over Justin's face. When the Earl announced that he had finally managed to take the Major as a lover, the staff had been overjoyed and anxious. Naturally, James did not take the news very well, which was no great surprise to anyone. But when the order came to treat the officer in the same way as the Earl, things became…difficult. The Major still terrified the majority of the staff, and he didn't exactly have the same temperament as the Earl, although he was attempting to at least be…civil.

Klaus crossed to the bedside, receiving a weak smile from Dorian. "You should've told me you weren't feeling well earlier," he admonished mildly as he sat down.

"I didn't want to spoil things," Dorian replied guiltily. "And then I go and get sick in the restaurant." He closed his eyes. "I'm never going to be able to show my face in there again."

Klaus's eyes flickered. "At least the staff was…discreet."

"I'll bet you wish you never took up with me…"

Klaus sighed heavily but did not reply. It was best not to say anything when Dorian was like this. First jealousy, now he was feeling sorry for himself.

"I'm sorry, Klaus. I've—" Dorian put a hand to his mouth. "Oh, God, I'm gonna be sick again." He threw off the bedclothes and dashed to the bathroom. He was followed by Justin, who patiently waited for him to finish before he was at his side to help him up. Dorian closed his eyes and moaned, stopping their progress. "No, let me stay down here a bit." He felt his stomach rumble and put a hand to it. "Oh, God, I think it's gonna start at the other end next."

"I'll stay right here with you, m'lord," Justin said mildly.

Dorian gave a weak smile and leaned against Justin's shoulder. This was not how he wanted to spend his time while Klaus was in town.

Klaus watched from the door a minute before going back to Bonham. "I have to get back to London," he said quietly. "The conference is another three days, barring any delays. I'll call when it's over." He held out a card. "Here's the numbers for my hotel, the conference, and my cell phone. Call me if he gets worse."

"Don't worry, Major. We'll take good care of 'is lordship," Bonham said, taking the card.

Klaus nodded. He might have had his doubts over any number of things concerning Eroica's men, but in this, he had no doubt.

"Who can you spare to drive me back to my hotel?" he then asked.