ATHENS TO ATHENS
Dorian stood in front of the display holding his replica of "The Uffizi Wrestlers." The exquisite miniature had traveled around the world in the exhibition. Now, after nearly two years, it was days away from returning to England and his collection.
The Earl took no notice of the other admirers who came and went, his attention fixed on the statue. It was only mid-morning, he thought contentedly, he could spend the next several hours right where he was.
Someone came up beside him and stood silently admiring the work. Dorian prayed that they would not attempt conversation as some of the others had. He was not in the mood for a discussion of the artist's interpretation of the original work. When the person did speak, the Earl felt his heart jump. "According to my research," said a very familiar voice, "the discipline of Submission Wrestling was introduced by the ancient Greeks."
The startled Dorian turned sharply to the man beside him. "Major," he said in as even a tone as possible. He had to fight to get his thoughts together. "What brings you back to Athens?"
Dark green eyes fixed themselves on the Earl's face. "Security assistance for the Summer Olympic games," came the succinct reply. "And the completion of the mission involving this exhibit."
Dorian blinked. "But…I thought that was finished in Munich. Wasn't it?"
The Major shook his head. "Just your part. After the ceremony in Sarajevo, the dummy display stands you planted were picked up." He gave a wry smile. "The homing devices led us in some unexpected directions."
"That you can't tell me about," Dorian concluded.
"That I can't tell you about," Klaus repeated. He looked up, his eyes taking in the exhibit. "And after all this is broken down and returned to its rightful owners…"
Dorian's eyebrows went up. "Another mission?"
Klaus nodded. "Yes, but not mine."
Dorian wasn't sure if the Major sounded disappointed or relieved. "No need to track mine. It's going straight back to Castle Gloria."
"And you with it?"
The Major's tone set off an alarm in the Earl's head. His eyes grew wide and he gave the man a searching look. "Is that an invitation?" he asked cautiously.
Klaus held out a card. "That's where I'm staying. Come by at four o'clock. I have your payment."
"How does NATO expect me to get several million Euros in cash out of the country without setting off security alerts?"
The Major rubbed his chin, giving the appearance of deep thought. "That's a good question. Perhaps we should discuss it when you pick up the money." With that, he strode off, leaving the Earl staring after him and wishing it were not the middle of the morning.
Dorian arrived at the Major's hotel room at four o'clock sharp where he was presented with a case full of cash. His payment for services rendered. When he asked if they might share an early dinner, the Earl learned that the Major already had an eight o'clock dinner appointment with the agents who would be following the homing devices.
Klaus offered the Earl some wine, and they sat in the semi-comfortable chairs in his room, drinking in relative silence.
After two months without any contact, Dorian was afraid of saying the wrong thing. He stayed on the subject of the exhibition and what had happened after he and the Major parted company in Munich.
"I can't tell you much," Klaus said as he took a sip from his glass. "Except that that bastard Adams will never be bothering you or anyone else again."
"Good. Can you tell me why he did it?"
Klaus gave a small grunt. "Money, of course. Too many years watching people get away with a fortune." His eyes drifted to the case full of cash. "He thought he could use the underworld contacts he knew of through Interpol and make a quick killing."
Dorian shook his head. Then he gave the Major a steady look. "Klaus, I am dying to ask you all kinds of questions. And I'm terrified of what the answers will be."
Klaus sat back in his seat. "I can answer one question right off. I'm not angry with you," he admitted. "Not anymore."
"But you were?"
"Initially. That you would think I could…" Klaus broke off, drawing a deep breath. "I never considered that you would have one percent of doubt, too."
Dorian closed his eyes. "Klaus…"
"You accepted it in me. It would be unfair of me not to accept it in you."
Dorian's eyes snapped open, his mouth dropping open at the same time. "What?"
"I'm not good at…this," Klaus said, waving a hand between them.
"This?" Dorian scowled.
"Intimacy." Klaus drew a deep breath. He had been struggling with the right words for two months and was still having difficulty. "I don't have the vocabulary the express how I feel in a way that you would understand."
"Oh, Klaus…" Dorian sighed, shaking his head. "You don't have to say anything."
"We see the world differently. Mine is black and white, right and wrong. But yours…" Klaus shook his head. "Yours is all bright colors and romance."
"We're just two sides of the same coin."
"Opposing sides, never to meet face-to-face."
"I'd rather think we're indivisibly joined together."
Klaus sighed heavily. "You've just made my point."
Dorian gave him a steady look. "So…I'll never have the whole you, is that what you're saying?"
"I think you'll spend the rest of your life trying to get that one percent with the same zeal you used to get the other ninety-nine."
Dorian was silent a long time as he thought this over. If there was anything he loved more than beautiful things, it was a challenge. The thrill of the chase. A chase that was still not quite over. He was startled out of his thoughts when Klaus gently kissed him on the mouth. He gave a contented sigh, melting further back into his seat.
"How will I know when you've surrendered that one percent?" he asked.
"I don't know. Perhaps, someday, you'll just know." Klaus extended a hand, helping the Earl from his seat. Then he was unbuttoning his shirt. He pushed it off his shoulders just far enough to give him access to his exposed neck.
Dorian closed his eyes and let his head fall back as the man started to nibble at his neck. He drew a deep contented breath, followed by a moan. Hands continued to push his shirt back until it fell to the floor. Then his pants were slowly removed. He was gently laid back onto the bed where he watched as Klaus removed his own clothes.
"Does this mean you're gonna ravage me?" Dorian whispered as the man climbed onto the bed beside him.
"No," Klaus said quietly. He ran a caressing hand over the Earl's toned body, moving closer to whisper in his ear. "I'm gonna make love to you."
Dorian closed his eyes as a tender kiss was planted on his mouth. Powerful hands moved over his skin with a gentleness he never guessed they were capable of. There was no brute force, no pushing, no shoving to get what he wanted. Just feather light touches.
Dorian had been surprised that the Major had surrendered because of his own forcefulness, only to be stunned himself as he surrendered to the man's gentleness.
Over the next few hours, the Earl of Gloria learned the true extent of his surrender.
And Iron Klaus was late for his dinner appointment.
— THE END —