With a half-growl born from deep frustration, Klaus dropped the receiver onto the phone cradle. Then he rocked back his chair to lean against the wall behind his desk. He stared into the middle distance for several moments, slowly shaking his head in mute disbelief.

The sheer ... incompetence! he thought, momentarily feeling a rare sensation of helplessness. Not that he could ever be completely proud of his Alphabet, but when he had smacked up against this new depth of idiocy, he suddenly felt a completely overwhelming desire to take them all out for a good meal and tell them that they weren't completely worthless after all!

He deftly freed a Seven Star from the packet stuffed into his chest pocket and lit it, still without focusing on anything within the home office of his Bonn apartment. Soon he breathed in a lungful of the soothing smoke from the cigarette. During the last couple of years, he had actually cut down considerably on his habit. His acquaintances back in the seventies would have feared for an approaching apocalypse on discovering that Major von dem Eberbach attempted to navigate his day on an average of three cigarettes or less. Of course, he had always been capable of doing so when necessary; fighting mind over body if a mission demanded it of him - it had just made him exceedingly short-tempered and fidgety: something people who knew him tended to avoid at all costs.

Compared to that fucking lot, mine are bloody geniuses, every idiotic one of them, he thought as he took another puff in hope of calming his nerves before he went postal on someone's arse. His lover tended to frown on him doing that (with the exception of Dorian's own posterior, of course, though in a slightly different sense of the expression).

I wonder if their boss gets as frustrated over his bunch as I do over mine, or if he's just another dimwit? Based on the backtalk he had received he strongly suspected the latter. Besides, if his agents had been as blatantly moronic, he would either have slit their throats - to put them out of their misery - or his own - out of pure embarrassment.

And now it's me who is ... what's that ghastly expression again - it must be American, not even the limeys get that disgusting - up shit creek without a paddle? Whatever the fuck that means.

Whatever the expression might or might not mean, he knew where he was - in deep trouble. Or - oddly enough, in no more trouble than during any of the previous years after having missed his and Dorian's anniversary not once, not twice, not even three times - but five fucking times in a row.

As a matter of fact, he had never both remembered the anniversary and prepared something in advance.

The first time - well, he had had no idea that Dorian would want to make something special out of it. So, they had been together for 366 days (it had been a leap year) and they were both still alive and fully functioning - big deal. Still, as luck would have it —unless Dorian had pulled some strings, which Klaus certainly would not put past the man — Klaus hadn't been busy planning a new mission and so had let himself be dragged off to a good meal over at "Zur Lese", followed by a night of marathon sex.

The second year - well, were two years really something to celebrate? He had known what day it was and all that, sure, he just hadn't thought there was anything special about a two-year-anniversary. Still, the very elaborate handgun, a custom made Magnum which fitted into his hand almost as nicely as Dorian's ... Ehm ... well, very nicely, anyway, and this gift had obviously been months in the making, which kind of hinted that Klaus probably should have picked up some chocolate or a bunch of flowers on his way home. Or something. Dorian hadn't complained about the marathon sex he did get, though.

The third year he had been abroad on a mission. Seriously - and not even Dorian could fault him for not understanding that in such circumstances the celebration wasn't merely skipped - as any logical human would assume - but was in fact postponed until his return. Except that Dorian apparently did fault him, for he was most definitely pouting on realising that, no, Klaus hadn't thought to stop midway through his hell-bent-for-leather escape route out of the North Korean harbour to pick up some gaudy bauble or colourful painting to present his lover with. By then, though, Klaus had got rather damned good at the marathon sex, which seemed to have a somewhat mollifying effect on Dorian.

The fourth year was not his fault in any way - he couldn't be blamed. It was no one's fault, really. Dorian's youngest sister had been in a horrible accident and had spent three weeks in a coma - two before the anniversary and a third afterwards. Needless to say Dorian hadn't felt in the mood for any type of celebration - not even of the marathon sex kind. Klaus had taken the longest leave of absence ever on his record and spent a full month in London to support Dorian. There had been an extreme amount of hugs and at night the Earl of Gloria had practically used him as an overgrown teddy bear. Dorian might be blasé about more or less everything in existence - but his sisters were sacred. To have one of them hovering near death's door had nearly wrecked the normally so poised man. The fourth week, though, after Margaret had woken up and been declared slowly on the mend, there had been considerable amounts of sex.

He had fucked up the fifth all on his own - which had actually been an anniversary he considered worth celebrating - by forgetting it entirely. Then Dorian had aggravated matters by surprising him with a wake up blowjob - especially surprising as Klaus had gone to bed all alone in his Bonn apartment. He certainly hadn't had a clue that Dorian might show up. During the day he had managed to slip away to buy some flowers - red ones - and a much too gaudy bracelet - mostly red, too, so they actually matched! - , but Dorian seemed to instinctively know that the presents hadn't been planned in advance. Not that he mentioned anything in as many words. He had been very pleased with Klaus calling in sick for two days in a row, though. Klaus's arse had been sore for days afterwards.

So, Klaus had made a decision: this would be the year he did it!

He had considered the matter on and off for months, trying to decide on some suitable gesture that Dorian couldn't doubt had been pre-planned and even might be considered - so help them God - romantic. Romance didn't come easily to Klaus. He really saw no point with most things that the world in general dubbed as such. On the other hand he did know more than well how his kleptomaniac lover craved such things.

So. Sixth year anniversary. Did anyone in the entire world celebrate something so stupid? But after five failures Klaus had decided that he needed to get his bloody act together. Besides, the number had a kind of nice symmetry to it, as it also marked twelve years since the very first time he had laid eyes on Dorian Red, the Earl of Gloria, as the man had invaded his life in his pursuit of beauty, art and - soon enough afterwards - getting inside Klaus's uniform. With the same year span on either side of the first time they got together intimately, it was only natural that his thoughts had turned to that night when he had first gone to the Earl's bed and had learned the truth of what two men could experience together. Convinced by the heat of those memories, he had begun to plan the mission of celebrating their sixth anniversary.

Only to have his one, good, even bloody well romantic plan thwarted by the fact that some people seemed determined to make a point of never, ever using even the very low level of intelligence granted to them. It was amazing! These people must have difficulty getting to work each day, due to the no doubt daunting task of not only walking and breathing simultaneously, but also trying to recall where they were supposed to go (and why)!

Cigarette all used up, he put it out in his ashtray. The latter was actually a very small dog dish, with "Major" written on the side. Bonham had found the cursed thing and shown it to Dorian, who had thought it most hilarious and had insisted on giving it to Klaus. As Klaus had just then managed to mess up one of Dorian's own "missions" in a rather spectacular way, he had forced himself to accept it with a terse smile. It had proven rather handy, though. Back in the days Klaus had made a habit of filling it daily. Now, these years later, this was his first fag for the day. Desperate times demand desperate actions, he figured, and lit a second one.

The anniversary was on October the 4th, which was ... tomorrow. Operation Romance consisted of apprehending, subduing (gently) and abducting the target for a period of 48 hours, just the two of them, in their "special place". They had never been back since that time and he was reasonably sure this must be considered a "romantic" thing to do. If he was mistaken in this assumption, he would just have to throw in the towel on the prospect of ever getting the whole romance business.

Now, though, he seemed to have had his prize snatched out from under his fingers, even as he had it within his grasp—hell, had felt it brush against his fingertips. Was this how Dorian had felt on looking at that Mona Lisa woman, that time in the Louvre, just as Klaus had bodily lifted him up and dragged him out before their escape route had been firmly and irrevocably shut?

Get yourself together, man! You have 12 hours yet to plan and execute Plan B! True - only Plan A still seemed so perfect and he had taken months to come up with it. How would he have time to construct a Plan B that didn't seem completely, utterly trite? Flowers just wouldn't do, not unless it was a bloody Amorphophallus Titanum or something.

He blew out a perfect ring of smoke and said out loud, "Well, there's always the marathon sex ..." Klaus kind of liked the marathon sex.

A few times, Dorian had hinted that he would really like to see Klaus cuffed to a bed with a frame sturdy enough to hold him. And not just with the flimsy scarfs that would barely slow him down if he really wanted to get away either - only strong enough to serve as reminders that he wasn't supposed to participate in the activity at hand, only lie there and be enjoyed at Dorian's leisure.

"I like the sound of that."

The unexpected "reply" to his musing made Klaus almost tip the chair over as he crashed it back to a horizontal position.

"I also," the voice continued, "like the sounds you make while we have sex, especially towards the ending, when you're so worked up that your only thought is of how fast and deep my cock slides into you."

The Earl of Gloria stood, leering teasingly, by the door to Klaus's home office, watching him with his eyes intent and warm.

"You're supposed to be in England!" Klaus blurted out. "I was-" He bit off the remainder of the sentence, which would have been about his plan to leave soon for the airport.

"Oh, there was this little thing I was having a look at. No, I didn't steal it. And I do hope you intended to have that marathon sex with me, my dear, or else I'll be quite vexed. You do know that-"

"Anniversary! Tomorrow! I know!" Even if Operation Romance had gone the way of the Dodo, he at least wanted it firmly on the record that he had not forgotten about the important date. Perhaps I can get a phone call in to Herr Hinkel, tell him to smuggle in something from our collection for him. "And of course I intended to have it with you, you idiot!"

"I'm most pleased to hear that." Then the British Earl crossed the narrow room, straddled Klaus's lap and started to kiss him eagerly. Long-fingered hands massaged Klaus's shoulders as Klaus reached around to run his own up and down the strong muscles in his lover's back.

"I might accept a threesome if you insist," Dorian added, then intensified his kisses, effectively stopping Klaus's protest, whilst pressing their crotches together.

After another couple of long, hungry kisses and slow sliding Dorian lowered his lips to Klaus's left ear, took the small lobe between his teeth and bit gently before whispering, "I want you to ride me tonight, my love. Would that be good for you? I love watching your strong thighs and that flat belly of yours and your lovely chest, all tense and shining with sweat as you slam yourself onto me ... And I have such delightful access to your body too, when we're in that position."

If he hoped to turn Klaus on - he was succeeding. Besides, Klaus was also more than happy to start in on the sex, as that would hopefully steer the conversation away from the significance of the 4th of October.

"About tomorrow, though ..." Dorian continued and Klaus felt like swearing, especially when Dorian scooted back to look him in the eyes.

"I had a plan," Klaus completely unexpectedly found himself saying. Not good, now his mouth flapped outside his control. "For tomorrow. It got fucked up."

To his utter surprise, Dorian began to laugh softly. Klaus tensed, but he had barely time to think, If he's going to mock- before the deep chuckles stopped. "I had planned something too," Dorian said with a wry grin. "For tomorrow. And mine got ruined as well."

With both of them in the same boat, Klaus decided to explain a little more and hopefully gain a few brownie points. "I was going to take you somewhere special and, ehm..."

"The marathon sex thing?"

"Ehm ..."

He got kissed again, very lovingly. "Oh Klaus ... I like your plan! I like it a lot. Truth be told, it is somewhat similar to my own plans for this year. Though I had in mind to start with the sex, then take you somewhere special and continue with our little marathon then. Delayed gratification can be a very good thing, you know."

Huh. Well, Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach of NATO Intelligence wasn't about to be outstaged by a flouncy limey with kleptomaniac tendencies. "I was going to bring a pair of handcuffs," he said. Actually, that hadn't been part of his original plan, but since Operation Romance seemed a bust anyway, such a boast felt safe enough.

Dorian smiled widely, for a moment looking even younger than the first time they met. "That sounds ... most interesting, my dear wire rope. I would have been so very much impressed. So, dare I ask what may have interrupted your plan? Iron Klaus always accomplishes his mission, is that not so? Or does world peace require your assistance again, would that be it?"

"No." Klaus stood, lifting Dorian by his waist, then depositing him on his abandoned chair before going over to the window overlooking the street. Then he started to pace, by necessity holding in his long steps since the area was rather cramped. "They're incompetent! Completely, utterly, totally incompetent! They have been hired to do a job, presumably they have got some sort of bloody training or at least basic instructions for what they are supposed to do, yet they failed at the simplest tasks!"

"Oh, come on, they're not that awful, are they? I always found Herr A quite competent, at least when you're not yelling at him, and Herr Z is-"

"Nein! Not the Alphabet! They're good German boys! I mean the people who work where I wanted to take you! They're complete morons! I tried - I booked a room for us, ja? They can't understand the easiest instruction! I book a room - I call them back the next day and there is no room booked! I book the room again. I call them back - it's booked, but it is the wrong fucking sort! They think we are brothers, ja? They put us in a twin, not a double! I tell them, I say 'no'; they argue with me! Finally-" He heard his accent thicken during his rant, but he also knew that Dorian for whatever reason found that very sexy, so he didn't bother to hold back. "-they tell me everything is as I booked. Good! I call them now; I want to ask for a very simple room service, to have something waiting when we get there - they have no reservation! And there's some sort of saudämliche competition, I don't know what, and it's fully booked! I have a booking number, but they say they find no such booking! I-"

"Ah, darling ...?"

"- tell them I have booked; I give them the number; they say I must be mistaken, that I must have called a different hotel, that they are quite sorry but there is no such booking; there is nothing they can-"


"-do about it! And I tell them-"

"Did you, by any chance, book us a room at The Garden Hotel, up in Oldborough near Newt?"

Klaus stopped walking and turned back. "Ehm ..."

"Come here," Dorian said, beckoning with a finger and then patting the desk in front of him. Klaus obeyed and sat on the desk, first moving away a few papers.

"How did you guess?" he asked, feeling slightly miffed that his grand plan had, apparently, been so transparent.

"My problem wasn't as much in booking a room, as in the staff members filing the booking on the right date - and the right hotel. I usually let Bonham do all these things when we go somewhere, but I wanted to do it myself, since it was for our sixth anniversary and all that. I finally did get a room and they didn't even want a deposit. Fine. Then they called me four days ago, demanding a 100% deposit. The nerve!"

Klaus almost twitched when, at this point in the impassionate story, a hand landed on his groin.

"I told them that they could have 10%, as a sign of faith. Which the cad who called accepted - or so he told me. Not ten minutes later, I swear, James storms in, yelling at me at the top of his voice, demanding to know what I've spent all the lovely money on."

The hand rubbed, slowly, over Klaus's heating flesh.

"He tells me they have made, not one - but three withdrawals of 100% of the stay's cost, then returned one of them! I call them myself, to set things straight-"

Klaus had to move his hips, just a little bit, as he listened.

"-and I tell this chit of a girl with the most appalling accent, I almost couldn't understand her - of what has happened. She sounds competent enough, even apologises - as she should! - and promises to fix things. Mmm, like that, do you?"

Klaus, who had put his hand on top of Dorian's to encourage its exploration, nodded.

"Very well. So - ten minutes later, James comes back in, happy as a a clam. All the pretty money is now safe and sound back where it belongs, he says. So I'm happy about having cleared everything up, until I realise that this means the entire amount! So I call them back and get a third person, who says that since I refused to make a deposit, the room reservation was cancelled! Cancelled!"

"Easy!" Klaus had to say, when the repeated word also led to a slightly too hard squeeze to a region of himself that was slightly less resistant to pressure than most of the rest of him. "Ehm ... You are saying that ... you booked us a room at the Garden Hotel too, ja?"

Possibly that had been the wrong words to say, for Dorian leaned back. He did still caress Klaus's thighs, though, so not all was lost. "Oh yes ..." he said, with a sigh. "Or gave it my jolly best, anyway. Lord, they're fools, all of them." Then he bent forward again, leaned his face against Klaus's stomach and put his arms loosely around him. "You smell so good ..."

"Their incompetence is staggering," Klaus agreed and patted the mass of golden curls that now hid most of his midst. "Ehm ... Otherwise it would have been, ehm ... romantic. Wouldn't it have, ja?"

"Oh, ja ..."

D/K ** D/K ** D/K

Six years earlier, The Garden Hotel, Oldborough near Newt.

Klaus and the Alphabet had been in Oldborough to keep an eye on a suspicious meeting attended by several Russian diplomats. The whole thing had turned out to be nothing but a bloody dog fight; a total waste of time. Lord Gloria and the Eroica gang had been in the area to steal a necklace once belonging to the mistress of one of the Tsars that one of the Ruskies now used as a collar for his dog, a mutt of pony proportions.

By one of those incredible chances that always seemed to crop up around them, the two groups ended up in the middle of a thunderstorm apt to make ship builders start sizing up for fitting in a zoo-full of animals on board. They had fled from the raging thunder and hail-storm to the very same hotel; The Garden, situated beautifully on the very shore of England, overlooking the grand waters towards the European continent.

From the Garden there was a twenty minute drive to the closest airport. Naturally, though, no plane either to Köln/Bonn or London would take off in such a ruckus as then displayed by Mother Nature. So, they found themselves well and truly captives at the hotel until Her Ladyship calmed down. During the very first night, not just the entire Alphabet, but the entire Eroica gang too - every single one of them -, succumbed to acute food poisoning. The villain had been the dessert. Klaus had - naturally - skipped his and Dorian, in a most uncharacteristic display of clumsiness, had managed to drop his. At that point the two group leaders had been seated at the very opposite corners of the cramped dining room, but Klaus had clearly seen how the main waiter had all but offered to lick the toffee off the Earl's now somewhat sticky shoes. A new dish had been quickly produced, which Dorian had eaten with every sign of enjoyment, but presumably this new one was from a different batch or whatnot, since the two of them were the only ones unaffected by the nasty bout of fever and the runs.

The hotel management had - after the hastily called doctor had diagnosed food poisoning - been most apologetic and offered them to stay free of charge until everyone got back to health.

When Klaus went downstairs for breakfast the next morning he found himself all alone in the dining hall - except for one table by the large, white-framed windows, where a certain British Earl toasted him with a glass of orange juice. After considerable hesitation, Klaus had headed on over.

"If you heard any of the Ruskies discuss anything, I want to know what."

"Hello to you too, Major von dem Eberbach," Dorian said as he symbolically moved his plates slightly closer to himself. "This would be sans all their ghastly innuendo about dogs and bitches, I gather?"

"That too," Klaus reluctantly admitted. "It could be in some KGB code." He caught the eye of a hesitant waiter - the same young man who had fawned over the Earl the previous day. "Coffee! Nescafe if you got it, otherwise whatever you've got, but make it hot and black."

"There's a cooked breakfast buffet over there," Dorian said once the young man had fled. "I can recommend ... nothing really, as of yet. Certainly not the beans. Though in fairness I haven't tried everything. Well, the toast is quite good, but it's difficult not to get that right, isn't it? Stay away from the sausages."

"I need to know what they said."

"Yes, yes, I'm sure, but I refuse to tell you unless you have breakfast with me. Come on, now, Major-" He made use of his "I'm so innocent"-eyes.

Klaus snorted. "Blackmailing me for breakfast? You've got guts. Well, fuck it ... Yeah, yeah, I'll get something."

He wasn't really hungry yet, but he would be sooner or later, so he might as well eat. He grabbed a few slices of bacon, sausages and eggs and plopped some bread into the automatic toaster before returning to the Earl's table. "Now talk," he ordered.

"The water here is actually very good for my hair, but the showers should be banned - or possibly burned. Next to no water pressure at all, and-"

"About the freaking Ruskies!" Klaus interrupted.

He received a smile that with all possible clarity said that Dorian was very well aware what Klaus had meant. "So be it. Oh, what were they prattling on about? Oh yes ..."

Airhead or not, the fop did have a reasonably good memory for these sorts of things, Klaus decided as he dug into his breakfast - not a very interesting one he had to admit, but he had had worse during his army days. Dorian had been absolutely right in telling him to stay away from the sausages; the toaster burned his bread severely and when it came to the fried bread, dripping with fat, he'd personally rather starve than eat that heart-attack inducing excuse for proper food.

During the day Klaus checked up on his subordinates occasionally. They seemed to be very slowly on the mend and he made very clear to them that he would tolerate no further dawdling. If only the blasted storm permitted they would leave the next day, even if some of them would have to crawl. Had the weather been decent he would have taken a run along the beach, but with a dizzying amount of rain crashing down, even Iron Klaus saw the point of staying indoors. At first he kept to his room. It was a reasonable accommodation, though the beds were pitifully short, the shower temperature very good for discipline and the mirror in the bathroom at a perfect height - if one was a pervert who wanted to look at his own crotch. He amused himself by doing air crosswords in one of the eleven magazines he had unexpectedly found outside his door in the morning. When he got bored with remembering the words he instead walked around the hotel, hoping in vain to find someplace to work out. Much too soon he encountered the Earl of Gloria again. The Brit promised to be on his very best behaviour if Klaus wanted to join him to watch the rain and the troubled sea from the bar. Bored out of his skull, Klaus agreed. At least he wouldn't have to bother with social niceties with Eroica, but could be himself. Besides, better to keep the man in sight, Klaus reasoned with himself, than to have him unexpectedly show up in a most inappropriate and unfortunate time and place.

So they sat together, watching the rain. Sometimes they would lean closer and speak. Dorian really was on his best behaviour. He did babble a lot about art, sure, but he kept the homosexual comments to a minimum and hardly ever said anything personal about Klaus, so the whole thing was oddly soothing. The hotel actually stocked a decent selection of beer as well as stronger stuff, and he figured that just one pint wouldn't hurt. And if one didn't hurt, perhaps another one wouldn't hurt either. And so on. The Earl of Gloria matched him at first, then reached an imbibed state so quickly that Klaus had to work hard to keep up.

D/K ** D/K ** D/K

The sky and the sea formed a uniform, black mass outside as Dorian led a drunk Major von dem Eberbach through the winding (fire hazard) stairways of the Garden Hotel, towards 208, the major's room. The long-limbed German leaned heavily on him and hummed the Panzerlied under his breath. Shortly before they had decided to call it a night (just after having climbed a dining room table to correct an example of lousy punctuation displayed on a quote written just below the ceiling), he had sung the three verses to Dorian. Klaus was an adorable drunk. This had surprised Dorian immensely, as he had seen the man drunk before, in Spain, and that had not been anywhere near pretty. He had decided, though, to take this as a compliment, that Klaus obviously didn't feel defensive around him any longer - or at least not as defensive as he had done around Mischa, all those years ago. Four, had it been, or was it five? Six since they had first met, though, that he knew for sure.

He wasn't completely sober himself. Nor, however, was he more than a little tipsy. After a few embarrassing drunks he had learned better than to drink himself under the table. He well understood the point of feigning tipsiness or even drunkenness, though, to put others off their guard. He hadn't expected to get a chance to use this skill to his advantage around his major, though. But, as Klaus appeared to be sniffing his hair, muttering something in guttural German that nevertheless didn't sound disapproving, Dorian was, all in all, rather pleased with himself. He got Major von dem Eberbach to room 208 - one of The Garden Hotel's five single rooms - and performed a reasonably quick body search to retrieve the key. As said body search didn't result in a fist to his gut or an upper-cut to his chin, but rather in a slanted grin and a sway in his general direction, he felt rather confident about leading Klaus inside and dumping him onto the bed. A look around confirmed that the Garden Hotel stuck to the pastel green and pink tones there as everywhere else - he could only assume that Klaus must hate the colour scheme with a passion.

For some reason the bed was, in Dorian's best estimation, 1.75 at the most. Klaus ... wasn't. So Dorian could sit on the short side to begin the not completely uncomplicated task of divesting Klaus of his boots. Which were very sexy on the man, not that Dorian had yet informed Klaus of that little fact. Over the years he had got rather good at figuring out what he could say that would just make Klaus grumble and wave his fist and what he shouldn't say as it would result in something undesirable, such as Klaus never wearing the boots again. As he worked he allowed himself a momentary fantasy of having that fine, black leather framing his neck ... Then he fondly looked up at the man himself. Who followed his movements with heavy-lidded eyes, seemingly rather relaxed - at one point he could even have sworn he heard the rare sound of Iron Klaus chuckling.

Finally he was able to put the second boot down on the floor beside its mate. By then he had actually worked up a bit of a sweat, which he wiped off his forehead. The room really was unaccustomedly warm. He suspected that this was because of its location just above the kitchen, for there was also a hint of a fattish odour.

Then he moved higher. He got some slight cooperation whilst divesting Klaus of his shirt and when he pressed a kiss on the v formed by the collar bones he heard a distinctly pleased murmur. It was not without a certain thrill that he divested the drunken man of his belt.

"There," he then said, patting a slim thigh, before covering it with a blanket. "That'll have to do. Now sleep, my dear wire rope. Tomorrow is another day. I'll be waiting for you."

A slightly flushed forehead creased in a sleepy query.

"Sleep. Go to sleep, Klaus. Sleep now. Schlaf jetzt." With a gentle finger he caressed down the man's eyelids, which stayed shut.

The crease smoothened out and then the head rolled to the right. Iron Klaus already slept.

Dorian had to sigh. The defenceless body was almost too great a temptation. He placed another kiss, this time on the long neck, feeling the ghost of a heart beat as he did. Then he sneaked out of the room.

D/K ** D/K ** D/K

The next morning found Dorian again in the breakfast area with a major glaring at him from across the room. Then - after Dorian had once more toasted him with a handy glass of orange juice - the man growled something at the waiter before stalking over. He sat down without a greeting and plunked down his breakfast plate with fried eggs, bacons and toast, glaring a challenge as if half expecting Dorian to try to discourage him.

Why this might be, Dorian hadn't a clue, so he merely drank his tea - not a very good brand, he had been sorry to find out the previous day, but at least not instant coffee. He did know better than to spook the wild beast that had suddenly approached him on its own. So he said nothing until Klaus was served his Nescafe and - with an air of utter distrust - drunk from the black brew. Then he was asked if his crew was getting any better and if he thought it would stop bloody well raining any time this decade. The first he had to answer in the negative - it was actually starting to worry him - and the latter he had no idea about, though he could only hope so. He was well used to rain, of course, but in the long run it depressed him. From Klaus's grunts in reply he gathered that the Alphabet was still out too and that Klaus had little choice but to stay another day.

Of the previous night, not a word was said.

After breakfast, Klaus disappeared for several hours. Dorian sat in the bar room, watching the rain and doing a bit of light reading. Bonham made a very brief appearance, but then quickly hobbled back to his and John Paul's room, waving away Dorian's attempt to help him. Around lunch, Klaus returned with the Frankfurter Allgemeine. His hair was damp, so possibly he had been to the village to retrieve the paper from the railway station. At least Dorian hoped that not even Iron Klaus had gone for a long run in the rain - the man might be strong as an ox, but he was not immune to pneumonia or even the common cold. Lord knew Dorian was willing - nay, eager - to do anything for love, but perhaps it was a tad early in their relationship (such as it was) to play Nursemaid And Patient. Klaus had been in a non-communicative mood; had just grunted in greeting before slapping up the newspaper. He did sit opposite Dorian, though, which for Klaus - considering his usual habit of staying at room's distance if given the least choice - was positively clingy.

Time crept forward.

"Hallelujah," Klaus said unexpectedly, though any religious overtone of the word was blotted out by the heavy dose of sarcasm. "I thought God had decided to drown this miserable island."

Dorian put down his book to decipher this statement, saw that it had actually stopped raining, and smiled. He had long since ceased to pay much attention to Klaus's habit of talking despairingly about all and everything. "Excellent," he said. "What time- Ah, yes, quarter past six. My, my. So you'll be off to Oldborough International, then?"

He received no answer.

"Major von dem Eberbach?"

"Ehm ... It's late. There will be so much traffic playing catch up. The Alphabet is still slacking off. The mission was a bust anyway - it'll be a few days before the incompetents in management will have a new mission ready. It is only logical to wait until tomorrow. I will stay ... here ... tonight." Though there was something hesitant in his voice. And when had Iron Klaus ever felt the need to explain his reasoning to Eroica anyway?

D/K ** D/K ** D/K

For the third dinner in a row, the Garden served the same basic cold cuts buffet: a choice of roasted pork, chicken or turkey, four sauces and fried potatoes, carrots, peas on the side. It wasn't bad per se, only bland and unvaried. The two ate together, in a silence Dorian felt inclined to think of as companionable. Then they moved to the bar room - this time without drinking so much. He sipped a Brandy Alexander, while Klaus nursed a strong, dark beer, that was all.

Dorian felt as if they were both waiting for something, but the wait seemed in vain, for nothing happened. Two hours later, sometime after ten, he had had enough. A gang of loud-mouthed vacationers was making conversation a bother and Klaus seemed very disinterested anyway. So he bid his beloved a pleasant night, hoped to see him again in the morning and - reluctantly - retreated to his room.

He was trying to decide if he should brave the shower one more time - the heavy smoke in the bar room seemed to go straight to his hair - or just pretend that the slight odour was due to Klaus's frequent habit alone, when there was a brisk knock on his door. When he opened it, Major von dem Eberbach stood outside with his hands in his pockets, studying Dorian with a certain amount of suspicion as if their roles actually were reversed and Klaus hadn't been the one who had done the knocking.

For a moment they just looked at one another, then Dorian slowly backed away from the door. The major approached it as slowly, then crossed the threshold. The door slammed close behind him, the sound barely registering with Dorian as he was busy prowling forward - determined, yet not too fast. He did want to give Klaus one last way out, should the man pull one of his blatant deer in the headlight freezes and freak. Klaus stood still, though, with his hands still fisted in his pockets. Dorian tilted his head slightly to avoid a full frontal nose collision, and brought their lips together in a first, searching kiss. A few moments later warm hands landed on his hips. But then the mouth so succulent under his own was withdrawn.

"I am sober now," he was calmly informed.

He nodded, eyes meeting the deep, green gaze of the man he loved. "I know," he said, realising that Klaus waited tensely for an acknowledgement. "I'm glad."

Then he took Klaus's hand and pulled him towards the bed. Getting his boots off was far easier this time.

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What Dorian six years later remembered most clearly from his and Klaus's first night together was a long series of impressions. He had made love so many times in his life; it hadn't always been all that good, but mostly - since he himself had become very knowledgeable in the art - he had enjoyed himself. Individual intercourses tended to be forgettable, though, so he had tried hard to remember this one. Still - most of what he could recall were disjointed sensations and a few striking images.

The feel of Klaus's warm skin over firm muscles against his arms, cheeks and lips. Kissing and caressing and stroking and licking and rubbing against said skin, wanting to use as much as possible of his own body to worship Klaus's. Spending considerable time teasing, arousing and gentling. Muscles tensing below him, only at length relaxing as a hesitant trust was established. Then graduating to carefully opening and – finally – going inside … Of filling, of being surrounded and squeezed almost painfully hard. Heat all around him, as well as beneath him. Sliding slowly, then faster; of being gradually accepted and soon even urged on. The wonder in Klaus's eyes as he was taken for the first time. Coming with such heat and force that he collapsed afterwards and - which might well have been a dream - resting with his head against his lover's chest and hearing an ever so faint purr ...

Their joining couldn't have lasted throughout the night, yet he remembered the sunrise casting shades of pastel pink and pale blue on Klaus's skin and hair as he, in turn, took Dorian. The almost overwhelming sensation of being one in every way possible with the man he had chosen as his own.

He left Oldborough the next day with a promise of a rendezvous 30 days later, in Bonn.

Afterwards he heard that NATO had been charged for 30 double rooms for six nights.

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Klaus tensed his stomach ever so slightly at the feel of his zipper being lowered. Long fingers slipped inside, caressing the thin cotton cloth of his boxers against his perking cock. Then the Earl of Gloria rose - his hand still firmly stuck in Klaus's trousers - to kiss him. Klaus spread his knees to accommodate the man's body and answered the kiss both willingly and enthusiastically.

"That is the worst hotel staff I have ever encountered, bar none," Dorian said between kisses and increasingly stimulating rubs.

"They are ... Ah ... Ja ... completely incompe ... tent."

Now the hand in his trousers scooped gently and eased his cock out of its by then rather constricting confinement. The cold air felt good against his flushed skin.

"I don't suppose-" Dorian said and kissed him again, at the same time as he began to slowly pump Klaus's cock. "-that there's any chance that the Garden Hotel is really a nest for, oh, let's say Russian spies or whatnots? Neo-Nazis, possibly?"

"I ... don't ... Nein ... Ja! So good ... don't think so."

"But it might be, right?"

"Ah ... Ja? Anything... Ah ... A little firmer. … is possible."

"So I guess there'd be no chance of you-" Kiss."-having to go there again, with the entire Alphabet, guns waving, and-"

Klaus writhed against the skilful hand, while the other had found its way into his shirt and was teasing his right nipple, feather light, yet producing such an intense sensation that he quickly felt himself be wound tighter.

"We never ... Ah! Mmm ... guns ... Ja, ja, ja, just like that ... waving, it'd be ... be ... "

"-drag out the entire staff at gun point, is there?"

"Temp- Oh ... Tempting. But ... Ah! Un- Oh! -likely."

"A shame, that ..." Dorian said, sighing deeply.

"Yes!" Klaus's half-shout, half-gulp, wrung forth by an especially delightful handwrist twist, echoed in the home office and he felt embarrassed - enough so as to pull himself together from the brink of orgasm. It wouldn't do to let Dorian think him too easily off the mark. "No... Ah! ... int-interesting art wo-work were the- Ah!"

Unexpectedly, Dorian had bent down and helped himself to a mouthful of straining flesh. Klaus bucked helplessly into the hot mouth when talented fingers twisted his nipple almost to the point of pain.

The hot mouth lifted with one last, teasing lick on Klaus's cock-head. "Not one, I'm afraid," replied the Brit, abandoning Klaus's aching need entirely to instead use both hands on his nipples while leaning in to kiss him now and then. "Oh, there is this charming-" Kiss. "-little artist by the sea side." Kiss. "Does rather nice work-" Kiss. "-all in all, but terribly picturesque, really." Long kiss, during which Dorian leaned forward, trapping Klaus's cock neatly between their bodies, thrusting against him. "If I deigned to steal anything so, so-" Kiss "-well, common, why, the International Art Thieves Association would never let me live it-" Kiss."-down."

Apparently having said his piece regarding the possibility, Dorian bent down again - this time in a position that must have been slightly uncomfortable, as his hands were still busy at work on Klaus's chest.

"I ... Oh, ja, ja ... thought you didn't... Mmm ... want to ... Ah! Ja! ... have any-any... Oh! ... anything to... Oh! ... to do ... Yes, yes, more! ... to do with a ... Lupin's stupid ... Ah! Ah! ... idea ... No, don't-"

"We had tried that way before-" Kiss. "-and it only resulted in bicker,-" Kiss. "-bicker,-" Kiss. "-bicker. I told him-" Kiss. "-that it was silly, but,-" Kiss and then a hand was lowered to start pumping Klaus's manhood once more, firmly - just the way he liked it. "-he went ahead and-" Kiss. "-did it anyway, and ..." Kiss. "Yes - work yourself, show me you like it! ... and now I can't let myself be the-" Kiss. "-laughingstock of them all, now can I?"

Klaus thrust hard against the slick, warm hand that squeezed him so nicely. He only half paid attention to what his lover was nattering on about. Had something dangerous happened, he knew he could have snapped himself out of the state instantly, but with only Dorian there, and Dorian so obviously pleased with pleasuring him, he didn't mind letting go. He only wished for Dorian to bend his neck again - all this blabbing really was pointless and the kisses were nice, sure, but he could really do with a bit of suction!

"What ... Ah ... do we ... Mmm ... do, then?" he ground out through clenched teeth. He would not ask Dorian to go back to sucking him, like he was some kind of needy sex addict. He would not! Absolutely not.

"Well, something,-" Kiss. "-clearly must be done. This,-" Kiss. "-can not be tolerated, after all. " Kiss. "Did they take a down payment from you?"

"I had forgotten, but ... Ah! Ah! Ah! Yes! Ja! Yes, ten ... per- Oh! -cent ... Ah! I ... Yes? Dorian, for fuck's sake, get your head-"

A very insistent kiss, with plenty of tongue, was the only thing that allowed Klaus to keep his decision not to beg for oral gratification.

"Capital. Then I will have a word with James. He does, however reluctantly, consider you part of the family now." A hand dropped to scoop up Klaus's balls, squeezing them softly. "I will tell him that The Garden Hotel left you positively destitute and give him free rein to avenge you. He does so like to ruin other people, my dear Jamesie, he'll think Christmas's come early."

"Dorian!" Klaus growled, as much to get the other man to stop going on about that hated accountant of his as to get him to start doing something far more important with his mouth.

Moments later he arched his neck back as he came in strong spurts down Dorian's throat. In the back of his head flickered a rather satisfied thought: with the money mad stingybug set on it, the Garden Hotel would get its just due.

And meanwhile he and Dorian could get on with the marathon sex.

The End