By Margaret Price
The Major Has A Plan
“No, I can’t tell you what I need it for, Doctor,” the Major stated sharply. “It’s classified.”
“Major, I do have security clearance,” the Doctor replied patiently. “And this is an unusual request.”
And don’t think it was easy for me to come here and make it, Klaus thought darkly, fixing the man with his intense gaze. To his relief, his usual intimidation tactic worked and the physician agreed to fill his request, scribbling out the prescription.
“I can only assume this is being used on a…questionable foreign agent?” the doctor said as he held out the paper.
The Major’s eyes narrowed as he took the paper. He did not reply, turning on his heel and stalking from the office.
God dammit, that was humiliating, Klaus thought after he had picked up the prescription, enduring the suspicious sideways glances of the pharmacist. He stormed through NATO headquarters, taking the stairs to the fifth floor two at a time. It would all be worth it if his plan worked. He’d be rid of that irritating Eroica forever.
Now all he had to do was implement it.
The Major began his operation slowly. He offhandedly remarked to Agent G that he thought the Earl was looking rather odd of late. He knew his mentioning of Eroica would immediately gain G’s attention.
“I don’t know what you mean, sir,” G said, trying not to sound too alarmed.
The Major waved a hand dismissively. “I thought he had some trouble squeezing through the entrance. Must be wishful thinking. The faggot’s too vain to let himself get fat.” So saying, he quickly moved away, leaving his astonished subordinate staring after him.
This was all that was necessary to plant the seeds of rumor. He knew if everyone thought that he had actually noticed something about the Earl, then there must be a very serious problem that they would all have to be on the alert for.
Phase one of the Major’s plan was in place.
* * *
A few weeks after the Major’s “offhand” remark, Eroica was hired by NATO for a relatively simple operation. Klaus tolerated his presence only because his plan seemed to be working. The Earl was spending an unusual amount of time looking at his profile in the mirror.
On this particular occasion, he was in the hotel suite that the Major was using as his base of operation. The mission had been completed without a hitch and the officer was getting all the paperwork packed up before the drive back to Bonn. Across the room, the Earl was standing in front of a full-length mirror, regarding himself carefully, patting his incredibly flat stomach and frowning. He ran his fingers along the waist of his tight fitting trousers and rubbed his buttocks as if to make certain it had not grown an inch.
The Major could not keep the small smile from coming to his face as the man did this. He gave him several minutes to worry over his looks before saying sharply, “Must you always do that?”
Eroica gave him a stunned look. He had actually forgotten the man was there. Oh God, I’m losing my looks and my sex drive! “Do what?” he said in genuine surprise.
Klaus kept the disapproving look on his face. “Don’t pretend with me, Eroica,” he said as he crossed the room. “I’m not interested in your—” He waved a hand to take in the man’s whole appearance. “Go preen yourself somewhere else.” He picked up a small box and “accidentally” spilled its contents onto the floor. “Verdammt!”
Eroica’s eyes grew wide as several medicine vials and hypodermic needles spilled out onto the floor. “Major, is there something you haven’t been telling me?” he asked in amusement as he crossed the room.
Klaus was on his knees picking up the spilled contents of the box. He looked up in irritation. “It’s an experimental drug, you idiot,” he growled. “I’m thinking of giving it to the Chief, the fat bastard. He could use it.”
Eroica’s eyebrows went up as he knelt down to help pick up the scattered hypodermic packs. “You want to turn your Chief into a drug addict? Oh, Major, that’s just so—”
Klaus sighed heavily and sat back onto his heels. “You really are malicious, aren’t you?” he snapped. “It’s an…appetite suppressant, if you must know. One injection a month apparently is all that’s required.” He had to look down quickly as the Earl’s enormous eyes grew wide.
“Ridiculous, I know,” the Major replied dismissively, making a show of looking around. “But there’s been a huge boom in the weight control industry, and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, as it were.” He dropped a vial into the box. “These were stolen from a drug company to be sold on the black market.” He turned to look under the furniture. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the Earl palm the vial he had just placed on top to the hypodermic packs in the box.
“So, I was hired to steal drugs?”
“You were hired to steal back the formula,” the Major replied coolly. He reached under a chair to retrieve a vial he had placed there earlier. “That’s all, I think,” he said as he got to his feet. “Now, I just have to catalog everything.” He noticed the Earl’s eyes flicker when he said this. Yes, you think I won’t know that you took one, bloody idiot.
Eroica plucked up the vial the Major had just dropped into the box and made a show of looking at it. “Not very much in there,” he remarked.
“That’s a three month supply,” the Major said sharply as he snatched the vial from the thief’s hands and dropped it back into the box. “And you don’t need it.” He quickly replaced the lid and crossed to the table where the other papers had been packed. “Now, go annoy someone else,” he growled as he dropped into a chair. “I have work to do.”
Eroica made a show of brushing his hair out of his face. “Oh, very well,” he sighed dramatically. “I’m getting—” He broke off as he was about to say he was getting hungry. He threw a sharp look over at the mirror and frowned.
“If you’re bored, then go away,” the Major snapped, not even bothering to look up.
“I need to check on my men anyway,” Eroica said dismissively as he crossed to the door. He paused before the mirror one last time before vanishing from the room.
Klaus looked up at the sound of the door closing and leaned on an elbow, an evil smile coming to his face. He lit a cigarette, sat back, and started to chuckle. The Earl had jumped at the bait, bloody idiot. Phase two had gone off without a hitch. Now all he had to do was wait before implementing phase three.
* * *
Eroica was rather proud of himself as he strode into his hotel suite. It wasn’t often he could get one over on the Major. He looked down at the vial he’d managed to steal right under the officer’s nose. Experimental appetite suppressant, is it? Well, this should put paid to all those horrible rumors about me getting… The Earl shuddered just at the thought. Me getting fat.
“Oh, m’lord!” came a voice like fingernails on a blackboard.
“James, the mission is complete,” Eroica said with a sigh, “and we’ll be heading back to Bonn within a few hours.”
Whatever protests James may have been about to make were stopped short when he saw the gleam in the Earl’s eyes. “You’ve stolen something!” he cried happily. “I knew you wouldn’t let me down!”
“James, I haven’t stolen something you can sell,” the Earl stated coolly. “It’s something for me.”
“Oh, my lord!”
Eroica gave him a piercing look. “Don’t you think I deserve something for myself once in awhile, James?” he asked sharply.
James was obviously stung by the angry rebuke. “Um…well…er…”
“You must be knackered, m’lord,” Bonham said, hoping to stop a crying fit from James before it began.
Eroica gave him a knowing smile and idly played with one of his long blond curls. “Yes, I am a bit tired, now that you mention it,” he sighed. “Thank you for noticing, Bonham,” he added sharply, glaring pointedly at James. He crossed to his bedroom. “I’m going to rest a bit. Call me when the Major starts screaming that it’s time to leave.”
“Yes, m’lord,” Bonham grinned.
* * *