Notes: In response to a story request made by my tara tory in Castle Gloria. Those who know me will understand the irony of me doing a story with this central theme.


Cryptic Messages

by Margaret Price

When Dorian entered an internet café in Bonn, he was surprised to see his beloved Major scowling down at one of the computer screens. He broke into a broad smile and sauntered over to him, casually glancing over his shoulder. The Major was obviously aware of his presence, his posture stiffening ever so slightly in response to the other man's close proximity. When no insults were immediately issued, Dorian wondered if the officer was just reacting to someone being close to him. How like you, Major.

Not one to be ignored for long, Dorian leaned over the Major's shoulder, allowing his hair to fall just enough so the man would know who he was.

"What do you want, Lord Gloria?" the Major growled, not even bothering to turn his head.

The smile on the Earl's face broadened. "Just wondered what you, of all people, was doing in an internet café." He let his voice drop to a stage whisper. "Checking porn sites?"

This remark had the desired affect. The Major stopped what he was doing and turned his head, his eyes already narrowed into slits. "Another crack like that and I'll throw you through that plate glass window."

Dorian continued to smile brightly. He straightened, his eyes flashing to the computer screen. "You're quite the jack of all trades, aren't you, Major? I didn't know you went to chat rooms. Monitoring terrorist cells anonymously?" He lowered his voice further. "Is that why you're here and not your office? So they can't trace you?"

If it were possible, the look of thunder on the Major's face darkened further. "If you must know, I have been…ordered to learn this bloody internet shorthand," he conceded miserably.

Dorian could not help the light laugh that escaped him. "Wait… You've been ordered to learn text speak? You?!"

Klaus gave up trying to intimidate the Earl and sighed heavily. "Yes, me. Iron Klaus must learn to speak like a fucking teenager. It's just another code as far as NATO is concerned. Even the bloody terrorists are starting to use it, lazy sods."

The Earl's eyebrows went up. "Seriously?"

"Have you ever known me not to be serious?"

"No."

When no further taunts were forthcoming, Klaus turned back to the screen. He could feel the heat of the Earl's body behind him as he continued to look over his shoulder. "Are you gonna stand there all day?" he grumbled.

Of all the replies Dorian could have made, the Major did not expect this one. "I could help you," the Earl volunteered.

Klaus turned sharply to look at the man standing behind him. He opened his mouth, closed it, and opened it again. "No."

"I'm being serious, Major."

"Since when?"

"My dear Major, that isn't just a code, it's a language. English. And, as a native English speaker, it might be easier for me to—"

"No." A pause. "Thank you."

Dorian's eyebrows went up. Christ, he's being polite to me. That means he actually considered accepting. Not a good sign. "Oh well, don't say I didn't offer," he said breezily. He turned on his heel to leave, and then turned back, pointing at the screen. "That means 'laugh out loud.'" He gave the officer an impish look as he added, "I don't think anyone will be saying that to you, but I thought you should know."

Klaus's eyes narrowed. He turned back to the screen and typed out: "I H8 U."

Dorian grinned all the more. "Well, I L U, Major dear. X X That's kiss, kiss!" He blew kisses at the officer once he was out of arm's reach before quickly making for the door.

oOo

Two days after the chance encounter with the Major, Dorian saw Agent A outside a coffee shop. The man looked so dejected that he wondered if the whole Alphabet was being sent to Alaska again.

"Difficult mission, Mr. A?"

A actually jumped when the Earl spoke and he wanted to kick himself for being so distracted that he hadn't seen him. "Lord Gloria. I didn't know you were in Germany."

Really? Dorian's eyebrows went up. This was indeed a surprise. Normally the Major had his men on full alert the moment he crossed the border. "I bumped into the Major the other day," he said conversationally. "He said he'd been ordered to learn…" His voice trailed off as he saw the agent practically deflate before him. This really is bad. "He's not getting it, is he?"

"No, sir," A replied. "And the Chief won't assign any missions until the Major's mastered it."

"Not even the Alphabet?"

"No, sir."

"Oh, you poor things."

A accepted the sympathy before hurrying off down the street. As Dorian watched him go, he decided the Major would be accepting his help whether he liked it or not.

oOo

"Mr. A, lovely day, isn't it?"

Agent A was slightly taken aback by the bright tone on the other end of the phone. It took him a moment to realize who it was. Before he could reply, Dorian said, "I didn't want to disturb the Major. Just tell him I said 'G L.'"

"G L?"

"Good Luck. I thought he was supposed to be learning— No, never mind." This was followed by a dial tone.

Agent A dutifully passed along the Earl's message, which was met with the response he knew it would. "Bloody idiot!" The rest of the day went downhill from there.

oOo

"Mr. M, how are you, dear?"

As with Agent A the day before, the agent took a moment to realize who was calling. "Lord Glor—"

"Just tell the Major I have a message for him," Dorian said happily before hanging up.

Agent M sat staring at the phone buzzing in his hand. He nearly jumped out of his skin when another phone rang and Agent I picked up. A moment later, I was staring at the buzzing receiver.

"What the fuck are you lot—?"

The Major's snarled demand was cut off by another phone ringing, leaving another perplexed Alphabet staring at the phone. After a few minutes, Dorian stopped calling.

"Tell me what the bugger said," Klaus demanded. He scribbled down the ridiculously inane messages while at the same time cursing the Earl for wasting his men's time while they were supposed to be working.

oOo

The following day saw a similar scenario playing out. Dorian called several of the Alphabet, said he had a message for the Major, and hung up.

Then next day saw a repeat performance.

As did the next.

"He's not getting it, is he, Mr. X?" Dorian said with a sigh. "Was asking Mr. A to be an eight too much, do you think?"

"I don't know what you—" The line went dead before the agent finished speaking. He nearly jumped out of his skin when it rang the moment he put the receiver down.

"I always thought the Major was rather clever," came the Earl's voice before the line went dead again.

"Oh, he did, did he?" was the Major's response to this message.

Agent X withered under his commanding officer's glare and was relieved when he was dismissed.

oOo

Klaus sat alone in the Intelligence office, all his men having gone home hours ago. He was staring down at the paper in front of him with all the Earl's "messages" on it. Messages indeed. It was just so much gibberish. So typical of the Earl.

Klaus sat back and rubbed his eyes. Twenty years ago, he would've gotten this text speak thing in a week. But for some reason, it was eluding him. It was just another code, that's…

Suddenly the paper with the Earl's messages caught his attention. He looked at the last group of calls and blinked. Bloody son-of-a-bitch!

Klaus grabbed another pad and wrote out the letters of each agent the Earl had called and realized what the bugger had been doing all along as he translated the messages.

M I M U E
Major, I miss you, Eroica.

M UR GR8 E
Major, you're great, Eroica

M UR MY B F F
Major, you're my best friend forever.

F E W L
From Eroica with love.

M I W T F U
Major, I want to fuck you.

L O L X X
Laugh out loud Kiss Kiss

oOo

The hammering on his hotel room door told the Earl all he needed to know. He did not even have to ask who it was. He simply opened the door and stood back as the German tank rolled into his room. "I see you got my messages," he said as he closed the door. He turned, expecting to see the officer standing across the room, seething. Instead, his hair was grabbed in an iron fist and his head was pulled back. "Um, is that a no?" Dorian said meekly as he suddenly found himself pushed back against the wall.

"No, I got your messages."

Dorian tried to ignore the Major's hand knotted firmly in his hair as the other moved toward his throat. "And…?"

"I…"

"Yes…?"

Klaus drew a deep breath. "I…accept your help."

Dorian had to fight not to laugh. For a man who had just accepted his help, the Major looked more inclined to beating him senseless. "Anything else?"

"Your last message," Klaus said cryptically.

Dorian frowned. "What about it?"

Klaus continued to glare.

"Surely you know what X X means!" The next thing Dorian knew, his mouth was being captured in a passionate kiss. When it was followed by a second, he decided the lessons could wait.

— T E —