AUTHOR'S NOTES: This Eroica/Doctor Who crossover (sort of) sees the return of characters whom Dorian and Klaus met in the UNIT & NATO crossover series. Healer Jason in particular, whose services the seriously ill Klaus is in rather desperate need of. #2 in the Aging Dorian & Klaus series.
Written for Eve in answer to her request for a FinallyCaves!Klaus fic. This was my first of that type. It was originally intended as a follow up to Terror Behind The Iron Curtain, a Fifth Doctor crossover due to be published in the fanzine "Iron & Silk"
By Margaret Price
Why am I doing this to myself?
It's because I'm a stupid, bloody fool that's why.
And I love the idiot German.
And he asked me.
And…because I'm a stupid bloody fool!
Dorian looked up from the computer screen and across the room to where Klaus was quietly reading the newspaper. It had been nearly six months since the officer suddenly appeared out of nowhere in his hospital room. Six months since he had announced he was dying and asked the thunderstruck Earl to stay with him so he would not have to die alone.
The Earl had not been there the entire time, of course, he still had his own Castle to look after. Although things seemed to have been running smoothly without him. After he discovered that James had taken up with a man at the bank, on the sly, of course, Dorian had breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, his accountant had found someone who spoke the same language. Money.
While Dorian was recovering his own strength after a battle with cancer, Klaus was losing his in a battle against an inoperable brain tumor. The most striking sign of the growth was when Klaus's long dark hair went snow-white, something that still struck the Earl every time he looked at him. The other signs were only slight at first. The occasional misstep in the officer's precise gate, a hand reaching out to the nearest object to recover lost balance. He had also been forced to give up smoking, much to his extreme annoyance.
Despite being retired from NATO, General Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach was still being consulted on intelligence matters. He had been involved in dozens of cases all over the globe, spanning several decades. Many cases were still ongoing, and his knowledge was invaluable. Dorian remained out of sight whenever these official meetings took place, even though Klaus had never actually asked him to do so. It had been difficult enough for the officer to swallow his pride and ask him to Schloss Eberbach. The last thing that Dorian wanted was make things more difficult than they already were.
Klaus lowered the paper, seeing Dorian's enormous blue eyes on him. "You're doing it again," he admonished mildly.
"I am not. I'm supposed to be watching you and that's exactly what I'm doing," Dorian replied innocently. "I haven't broken our agreement, have I?"
"Not recently," Klaus admitted grudgingly.
When the Earl agreed to stay at the Schloss on a permanent basis, the two came to a mutual agreement. Dorian would refrain from any of his usual "perverted" overtures, which included what Klaus called "inappropriate physical contact." Klaus, in turn, would refrain from threatening, shouting or in anyway berating the Earl. He would also refrain from what Dorian called "inappropriate physical contact," which meant he wouldn't strike, manhandle, or attempt to shoot him. After the first few weeks, and only a few minor slips, they were eventually able to adhere to this agreement.
Klaus folded the paper and very slowly rose from his chair. "I'm going to bed," he announced. He could no longer cross the room in the precise strides of even a few weeks ago. Instead, he moved in slow careful steps. He put a hand on the objects he passed to keep his balance as he made his way towards the door, finally vanishing into the hallway.
Dorian watched in silence, getting to his feet the moment Klaus was through the door. He followed at a distance, watching as he went up the stairs and then following suit, pausing at the top of the stairs to watch the officer's slow progress as he made his way to his room.
Klaus had not spent decades in intelligence to forget his training overnight. He knew when he was being followed, no matter how quiet the thief was. "I still don't need help undressing," he said without turning as he opened his bedroom door.
"I didn't say a word."
"But you were thinking it."
Dorian stiffened visibly. "Now who's doing it again?" he said angrily, turning to go back down the stairs.
Klaus sighed heavily. Dorian was right, damn him. He was just snapping at him out of reflex. Now he would have to apologize. Another part of their agreement. "Dorian…"
"Don't bloody bother!" Dorian snapped angrily, not even bothering to turn around.
Klaus gave a low growl, watching as the other man started to descend the stairs. He was about to turn back to his room when the corridor suddenly seemed to pull away from him, growing impossibly long and changing color before his very eyes. A moment later, the world was spinning around him. Klaus reached out a hand to the small table beside him, knocking over a vase as he did so. It rolled off the edge, shattering as it hit floor. "Dorian…" he called softly a split second before collapsing.
The sound of breaking glass caused Dorian to turn just in time to see the officer hit the floor. "Jesus, not again." He was barely halfway down the hall when he saw this was not a simple fall. Klaus was convulsing.
Dorian swore in as many languages as he could think of until the seizure passed. Then he dashed to the house phone and started issuing orders. An ambulance—No, bugger an ambulance. It would take too long. He ordered the car brought around and someone to drive it—fast! Then he called for several others to assist him in carrying the unconscious Master of the House down the stairs. Finally, Dorian called Klaus's current specialist, Doctor Kelkenberg, and was relieved to learn he was already at the hospital.
It was morning when Klaus finally regained his senses fully, having been oblivious to the battery of tests that were performed on him throughout the night. He looked around the room in bewilderment, wondering what had happened—again! This was becoming a habit. One minute he was feeling fine, the next he was being rushed to the hospital. Would this be the new pattern? Waking up in a hospital bed with no idea how he had gotten there?
His eyes fell on Dorian, who was dozing in a chair near the foot of his bed, looking haggard and exhausted. Not for the first time, Klaus felt a pang of guilt for having asked him to come to the Schloss. The Earl was still getting his own strength back. How could he have thought he would have the strength to withstand this?
One of the staff physicians came in at that moment, an open notebook in his hands. He was not the quietest of individuals, pushing the door open with a bang and startling Dorian awake.
Klaus closed his eyes when the man strode through the door. Another Goddamn doctor. How many did that make now? He hoped the Earl knew. He had actually lost count.
Dorian sat up, struggling to get his mind into focus. "Where's Doctor Kelkenberg?"
"I have no idea," came the curt reply. "I'm Doctor Heinrich. And you are…?"
"Not really interested in delays," Dorian replied sharply. "You're here with the test results, I presume?"
Even though this was all spoken in German, Heinrich had taken note of the Earl's faint English accent, as well as his fine English features. "You're not family, are you, sir?"
"What difference does that make?" Dorian replied tersely. The smug look on the physician's face annoyed him further and he had to fight to keep his temper. "I suppose you could call me the General's companion."
A smirk crept onto the doctor's face. "That's one way of putting it, I suppose."
Dorian was surprised to find himself incensed by this remark. Any other time he would have been delighted that someone would assume they were a couple. Perhaps it was the agreement he had made that caused it. Or perhaps it was the fact that Klaus was incapable of screaming his own denials.
"Herr Doctor," Dorian said coldly, rising to his feet, "you're very lucky the General is unconscious."
"Oh? Why's that?"
"Because if he heard you insinuate what you just did, he'd probably threaten to kill you. And if he were healthy, he probably would kill you. I'm assisting the General during his illness, nothing more."
This adamant reply actually amazed the listening Klaus, who would not have believed it had he not heard it with his own ears. He was amazed again when Dorian demanded, "Well? You've obviously got the General's test results. What are they?"
"I'm sorry…er, sir. But if you're not a family member—" The doctor's obvious refusal was cut off when Klaus said firmly, "Just tell him, you idiot."
Dorian jumped, turning to look at the man in the bed. This had sounded like the Klaus he had known decades ago. The Major who was always threatening him or screaming obscenities at him. Not the man who had been growing progressively weaker as the weeks went by. A bittersweet smile came to Dorian's face as the officer's dark green eyes met his. The moment was gone in an instant and the Earl was mentally cursing the doctor.
"General von dem Eberbach, you're awake," Heinrich said in a honeyed tone, a grin coming to his face. He swept Dorian aside as if he were not even there to stand at the bedside. "Are you feeling—?"
"Don't start fawning over me like an old woman. Just answer Lord Gloria's question," Klaus said in as forceful a tone as he could muster.
Dorian saw the physician blanch visibly as he looked up at him, a placating smile on his face. Oh bugger, a social climber. That's all we need now. When the man started to stammer out his answer, the Earl lost his patience. "Stop right there," he commanded. "I already know what you're going to say. The tumor is pressing on another part of the General's brain. There's nothing you can do about it. The medications will have to be changed. Things will only get worse. Right?"
The dumbfounded doctor simply nodded his head.
"Then why the hell didn't you just say that?" Dorian practically exploded. "When can I take the General home?"
The doctor blinked and finally found his voice. "Home?"
"Yes, home. Where he lives, fool!" Dorian waved a hand at the man in disgust. "Never mind, just get all the paperwork ready. I'm taking him home." He did not wait for a reply, physically escorting Heinrich to the door and then shoving him through it. "Today," he added, slamming the door. "Bloody idiot doctors!"
Dorian turned when he heard Klaus chuckling. "What's so funny?"
"You," came the succinct reply. "You finally sound like you have the balls of a man."
A brilliant smile came to the Earl's face. "Would you like to—?"
"Don't spoil it by making some damn fool remark," Klaus cut in, going on to ask, "When did you become so forceful?"
A smile twitched at the sides of Dorian's mouth. "I just pretend I'm you. Then it's easy."
"Ah! Now you switch to flattery." Klaus sighed, closing his eyes. Even this brief exchange was tiring. "Now that you're so forceful, what's next? You gonna rape me in my bed?"
"Don't tempt me, Klaus, you still have to get dressed."
For a brief instant, a panicked look flashed across Klaus's face. Then he saw Dorian grinning evilly at him. "You shouldn't joke like that to a dying man," he chided mildly.
Dorian's eye flickered. Finally, after all these years, you figure out my flirtations aren't threats. Klaus also seemed to have developed a sense of humor. Perhaps they should have made their agreement years ago.
The wicked grin on Dorian's face broadened. "You started it..."
Dorian laughed but did not reply directly. He picked up the phone, calling Doctor Kelkenberg's office and leaving a message. Then he called the Schloss, ordering the car send down for them along with a fresh change of clothes for Klaus. Whether that wretched Doctor Heinrich liked it or not, General von dem Eberbach was leaving his care, hopefully for good.