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It was a lovely August night with a full moon, and the pale moonlight flooded through the eastern window of the topmost floor of Castle Gloria, illuminating the luxurious bedroom of the Earl of Gloria. Bathed in the ethereal light, one could make out the graceful outlines of the antique furnishings – collector’s items of exquisite beauty, every one of them, – the shapes of numerous flower-filled vases, some jewel cases and other shiny trinkets giving a soft glimmer here and there, the crystal Renaissance chandelier swaying slightly in the light breeze that came through the open window, and in the middle of the room the rosewood à la duchesse bed, its rich red brocade curtains fluttering almost imperceptibly, the golden floral embroidery glowing faintly in the moonlight, and on top of it the heavenly Earl of Gloria, more breathtakingly beautiful than any man or woman, lying in a most seductive pose, his long golden locks glowing in the moonlight even more than the golden embroideries.

This particular night, however, one would also happen to see two objects that were distinctly out of place in this elegant, aristocratic bedroom. The first was a state of the art, latest model military stopwatch ticking away perched on the Louis XV nightstand. The other was a fierce, raven-haired NATO Major lodged deep inside the aforementioned Earl, ramming into him with ruthless intensity.

The blond Earl responded to the other man’s intense moves with all due enthusiasm, swaying his hips in tandem with him and letting out sensual moans and gasps. His smooth white skin was flushed and his deep blue eyes glazed over with pleasure. Impulsively, he pushed some stray locks out of his eyes with one hand and purred blissfully, “Mm, darling, this is absolute heaven. I just hope you don’t get tired soon, because I could really do this all night.”

That earned him an angry growl. “Tired? Ha! I’ll show you tired!” A lightning-quick motion of the Major’s hands – probably some martial arts move – and Eroica suddenly found himself on all fours, with his bottom – needless to say, with the Major still impaled in it – in the air. Klaus gave a powerful thrust, burying himself deeper than ever inside Dorian. “Oh, Klaus!” the latter cried out in ecstasy.

“Don’t you ‘Oh, Klaus’ me, you fop! Did you really think that sweet-talking would make me go easy on you?”

“Wouldn’t…dream…of it…” gasped the Earl, struggling to ride out wave after crashing wave of pleasure. Dang it, not now…he had lasted this long already, just a little bit more…In an effort to distract both himself and the Major he continued in a teasing voice, “And, by-the-by, pot calling the kettle black, Major? Do I need to point out exactly what it is you’re doing right now?”

If the furious blaze in the Major’s eyes was anything to judge by, that was a huge mistake on his part. “Oh, you really did it now. I was going to cut you a little slack, but you obviously don’t deserve any consideration.” A muscular arm was draped around his waist, just below the chest, and at the same time the Major’s free hand tugged at the long curls, yanking his upper body to an upright position. He hadn’t pulled hard enough to really hurt, but Dorian groaned nonetheless. “Ouch…you beast…”

In response he heard a harsh chuckle in his ear. “Damn right, I’m a beast and you fucking love it, you sick pervert.” The Major bit his earlobe lightly and simultaneously pinched his nipple, sending shockwaves down his spine. Dorian felt his lower half tighten and realized that he was fighting a losing battle. Klaus smiled triumphantly in the dark. He had felt the Earl contract around his manhood, and knew immediately that all he needed was one final push. Without ever breaking his rhythm he reached out and grasped Dorian’s length in his strong hand, pumping it in hard, fast strokes. Dorian could take it no longer. With a loud, passionate cry he threw himself back against the Major’s toned chest and let his orgasm explode.

Klaus kept stroking him until his contractions subsided completely. Then, without pulling out, he paused a bit and reached for the nightstand, grabbing the ticking stopwatch and stopping it. Exhausted as he was, Dorian turned to look at him, slightly miffed. “You just had to stop it to the second, didn’t you?”

“I’ve told you I won’t tolerate any cheating, Dieb,” was the Major’s severe answer. “Now shut up and let me finish here.”

Klaus tossed his long black hair back proudly and resumed his thrusting, more slowly this time. Now that he was no longer pressed for time he could afford to indulge himself a while longer, he reasoned. It felt so damn good inside Dorian…and besides, as the winner, he had every right to enjoy the spoils of war. And if the Earl happened to enjoy this too…well, no rules against that.

Sure enough, Dorian was most definitely enjoying himself. The Major’s lovemaking was just like the man himself: tough, overbearing and utterly fascinating. In the past Dorian had always preferred tender, romantic partners and had had his fair share of them too, but he had discovered, much to his surprise, that he didn’t mind the Major’s entirely unromantic nature one bit; his masculinity, dynamic personality and amazing sexual prowess more than made up for it.

Klaus was really picking up speed now, slamming into him forcefully from behind. He still held Dorian onto his chest, his dark head bent down, sucking greedily at the side of his neck. The Earl could feel the Major’s hard nipples pressing against his sweaty back, and oh God, it was so arousing…He arched his back and tilted his head backwards, letting it lean on the Major’s sturdy shoulder. Silky curls cascaded freely over his lover’s broad back, gently caressing the hot skin. Dorian turned his head to the side, his large, forget-me-not blue eyes trained on the Major, pleading silently. The Major saw his gaze, and it took him only a second to understand what it meant. His sharp green eyes softening down just the tiniest bit, he leant towards the Earl, capturing his mouth in a fervent kiss.

For a few precious moments he shut the entire world out, concentrating only on the sensation of the warm, pliant mouth against his own, the creamy flesh under his hands, the heated body clasped in his embrace. Nothing else existed but him and Dorian, his own personal sin for which he never would repent. Overwhelmed by his own desire, he finally let himself go and climaxed whilst kissing his lover, letting out a groan from deep within his throat inside the Earl’s mouth. He felt more than heard Dorian’s answering moan of delight as his seed shot deep inside of him. Completely exhausted, they fell sideways on the bed, still holding each other.

As soon as they had caught their breath and their minds had cleared sufficiently, Eroica turned towards the Major and asked eagerly, “Well?”

With a smug look on his face (he had taken a peek while stopping it), Klaus retrieved the stopwatch from the nightstand and showed it to him. “37 minutes and 43 seconds. Your loss, my lord. Again,” he added derisively.

“Oh, damnation, I don’t believe this,” Dorian said irritably. He gave the stopwatch a dirty look, as if it had somehow done him a personal affront. “Is this thing even working properly?”

“Don’t insult German products, Limey,” answered the Major menacingly. “And in case you forgot, we both got timed with the same thing.”

“Still, it’s not fair,” Dorian kept pouting. “I did you first, and it got me so turned on I simply could not hold out.”

“Last time you said that because I did you first you got too ‘emotionally distracted’ to perform properly, whatever the hell that means. When are you going to stop looking for excuses and admit that a poofter can never be a match for a soldier’s discipline?”

“Soldier’s discipline my foot,” countered Dorian stubbornly. “I’ll have you know I haven’t become completely senile yet, Major. I remember very well that not so long ago, you came almost as soon as I touched you, so pardon me if I have a hard time believing that you can actually last 41 minutes and 17 seconds all of a sudden.” He gave the stopwatch another ‘offended dignity’ look. “How do I even know this thing isn’t rigged or something? It’s not like I could ever find out, since I don’t have the faintest idea how it works, but I certainly wouldn’t put it past you.”

“Oh, so now you not only doubt the quality of German products, but my honour as well,” said the Major in a tone of voice that would usually prompt his subordinates to start mentally cataloguing their warmest outfits. Eroica flinched a little, but to his credit he continued staring into his eyes defiantly. Inwardly, Klaus was pleased with his attitude; that fop might be many things, but a coward he was definitely not. After a full minute of staring contest he said abruptly, “Very well then. Next time, you bring your own stopwatch too, and we can use them both. That way you can’t accuse me of cheating. And make sure it’s a good one, not some fourth-hand junk your tightwad creep bought. I don’t want you using that as an excuse.”

“Very well, I shall,” answered the Earl, using his most high-handed tone to hide his satisfaction. Oh goody, next time confirmed. “And just so you know, I wouldn’t expect another victory if I were you. If you think you’ve already seen all my little tricks, you are extraordinarily mistaken. I admit you succeeded in making me get serious, which is more than anyone else ever managed, but this is as far as you’ll ever get.”

“Oh, is that a threat I hear? Trying to demoralize the enemy, are we, my lord? Well, I regret to inform you that cheap tricks like that don’t work on me. Or do I need to remind you who won the last two times?”

“In that case, do I need to remind you who won the previous two?”

“Hmph, ancient history,” snorted the Major. “So you managed to snatch a few victories at first because I wasn’t used to these decadent perversions as you are, but things are hardly the same now.” He smiled wickedly. “I seem to recall some of the things you were saying to me just now…if only your noble ancestors knew just what the current Earl of Gloria would be willing to do to be taken by me from behind, they’d be rolling over in their graves.”

Eroica, however, merely smirked indulgently. “Shouldn’t you be more concerned about your ancestors instead of mine, my dear Major? I, for one, can’t help but wonder what would Tyrian Persimmon say, should he ever hear his descendant equate the value of his portrait to that of a blowjob, performed by yours truly.”

The Major’s face immediately clouded over. He had indeed let slip something along these lines in the heat of the moment, during one of their earliest encounters, and ever since then Eroica never missed an opportunity to rub it in. “You know, I had almost managed to forget that disgrace, but you just had to go and remind me, didn’t you,” he said ominously. Sensing the impending danger, the thief had already begun inching away from him, but it was too late. A steely arm shot out like a striking cobra, trapping his wrist in an iron grip. “I hope you are prepared for the consequences.”

“Um, Major?” asked the Earl in his sweetest, gentlest voice, all the while trying in vain to squirm his hand free from the Major’s vise grip. “Not that you’re not welcome to stay as long as you want, but I thought you had an early flight to Bonn to catch?”

The Major bestowed upon him a wolfish grin that chilled him to the bone. “Oh, I’m sure I can spare another hour.” His grin widened. “Maybe even two.”

“Two?!” This time, the Earl was unable to keep a hint of panic out of his voice. “Ah… um, Major…much as I enjoy having sex with you, we’ve been at it for hours already and I don’t think such overexertion would be good for me. Not getting any younger and all that, you know.”

“You should have thought of that before trying to make a fool out of me,” said the Major mercilessly, pinning him down. “Now get your ass over here so I can punish it properly.”


A few hours later, at sunrise…

Dorian Red Gloria stretched luxuriously in the now empty bed, basking blissfully in the light of the first sun rays of the day. Aah…if a summer dawn was worth as much as gold, a summer dawn after a night in the arms of the man he loved was priceless.

He could not recall ever feeling better in his entire life. His backside might be a little sore, – oh, not much, for all his tough talk the Major had been rather gentle the second time, – but other than that he was in seventh heaven. Indeed and truly, this little game was the best idea he ever had.

It was truly unbelievable how dense he had been all these years, trying to win the Major over with seductive glances and sweet words. Thinking back, he understood he had clearly been overconfident about this, because until he met the Major no man he had desired had been able to resist his charm. He had never had to actually put any effort into seducing someone, and thus when faced with a real challenge he was totally unprepared for it and tackled it in completely the wrong way.

If he had not been so convinced that he was irresistible he would have noticed way sooner that the Major was not a man to be charmed by such means. In fact, far from being charmed, he was disgusted by them, for a very simple reason. Anyone who had tried to seduce him in the past had done so with an ulterior motive, be it his eligibility for marriage or the espionage secrets in his head. Add to that his suspicious nature and the fact that Eroica had been less than honest with him quite a few times, and it was no wonder that he reacted so violently every time Dorian declared his love for him. Simply put, it had become inconceivable to him that Dorian, or anyone else for that matter, might genuinely want him, without a hidden agenda.

Dorian had hoped at first that over time Klaus would realize that there was no hidden motive behind his feelings and gradually get over his suspicions and warm up to him. However, when years upon years had gone by without so much as a trace of progress, he was eventually forced to admit he was handling this self-appointed endeavor mistakenly. So, he set out to discover where he had gone wrong. The answer as to why the Major was rejecting what most men would kill for had to lie somewhere within his unusual personality. Therefore, it was essential to find out as much as he could about him.

That was no easy task considering how reticent the Major was, how unwilling to reveal anything about himself that might be considered a weakness. Still, if that oaf Mischa was capable of digging up the Major’s past, so could he, even without the KGB network at his disposal. One of his first clues was Klaus’ deferential attitude to nuns compared to other women. It was clear that he had been very much influenced by them. The Major was an atheist now, but he had been raised as a good Catholic boy – and that kind of upbringing never failed to burden people with subconscious guilt and fear of punishment. His strong sense of duty and insistence on depriving himself of any indulgence at all was a very clear indication in that direction. Even before thinking about any of this, way back on that train to Rome, he had been impressed by the thought that the Major was ‘like Christ, saving the lives of so many, and so hopelessly clean and abstinent’. At least now he could understand where that came from. What came next was to figure out a way to get past it. After all, if the Major had had the sense to all but publicly renounce Catholicism, it meant that somewhere deep down he must want to get rid of that emotional baggage as well. The problem was finding a way to coax him out of it.

In the temptations of Christ, the devil had challenged Him to turn the stones into bread to eat, but a god would never starve to death. He had dared Him to prove his divine nature, but a god did not need to prove himself to anybody. He had offered Him earthly power, but what use a god had for that? When he was in Rome, Dorian had browsed through the Bible in his hotel room – a must-have item in every Italian hotel room, apparently – and it was there he had first read the section about the temptations of Christ, out of idle curiosity. After reading it, he couldn’t help but feel that the devil had been somewhat at a disadvantage. Christ had been able to resist the devil’s temptations because everything the devil had offered him he could well do without. Somehow, the thought had stuck with him, but it took him years and a lot of information-gathering to make the connection. The idea was simply absurd for someone like him.

What if, like Christ, the Major was able to resist him because what he offered him he could well do without? For Dorian, a life without love and sex would be the lowest circle of hell, but the Major…he was different. He had lost his mother at a very young age, and his father had probably never had the indecency to court another woman after that, and as soon as he reached an age when he would be expected to start leaving the confines of his home he was shipped off to an all-boys school run by nuns. In other words, he might as well have been raised in a convent. He had never really known sex, and what he didn’t know he wouldn’t miss. Dorian’s advances confused and frustrated him, but weren’t nearly enough to break through his shell because he could not be tempted by something he had never tasted. But how was Dorian to undo that?

One obvious solution was to somehow incapacitate the Major and give him a taste of what he’d been missing out on, in the hope of him liking it well enough to ask for more. But Dorian never really fancied forcing sex on Klaus, not only because it went against his notions of ‘fair play’, but also because there was a good chance this tactic would backfire on him, for a number of reasons. The first was that, if forced, the Major would use that as an excuse to stay in denial. ‘I didn’t do it because I wanted to, you forced me and I had no choice.’ Providing him with such a convenient excuse…oh no, he would not play into his hands like that. Besides, the Major was a man who imposed very strict standards on himself. For someone like him it would be the height of humiliation to be ensnared in such a manner. He would not add to that humiliation by reciprocating Dorian’s feelings if it killed him. Last but not least, currently Klaus didn’t trust him all that much – okay, he barely trusted him at all, – but at least he thought of him more as a nuisance than an actual threat. However, if he were to be overpowered by Eroica…then Eroica would become dangerous, an adversary to be reckoned with, just like the KGB was. And one thing the Major would never do was sleep with the enemy. Lord Gloria would have more of a chance getting himself invited to a threesome with Mischa and Polar Bear than getting Iron Klaus into his bed.

No, force was not the answer here – temptation was. But really, what could he tempt the Major with, if not the sex itself? What could he possibly offer him that would be too good to resist? As far as he could see, the man made a point of not having any exploitable weaknesses whatsoever. He did not treat himself to anything, unless you counted coffee, cigarettes and fried potatoes, but he hardly needed to sell his body for that. Sure, he loved his guns and tanks, but not in a personal way; if he lost one he would simply replace it, and it’s not like Eroica could provide him with any weaponry NATO couldn’t. Alas, guns were not as unique and difficult to obtain as artworks.

And of course, he absolutely loved his job. Though, come to think of it, not all of it. He certainly relished taking on missions and seeing them through – he might deny it all he wanted, but Dorian could tell that it was during missions when he was more alive than ever, vibrant and magnificent. On the other hand, when he was stuck behind his desk, smothered by red tape and constantly butting heads with his superiors, he was definitely at his worst. When he had banished the entire alphabet except Z to Alaska and was forced to take on all their work, it had nearly been the death of him. Dorian would remember the state he was in when he had called on him (uninvited) during that time to his dying day; it was the sorriest sight he had ever seen. The Major was so pitiful he didn’t even have the heart to flirt with him properly.

It was therefore safe to assume it was the action he craved, the challenge, the fight. Once he thought about it, it made perfect sense; the Major came from a long line of warriors, and had been destined to be one himself since the day he was born. Fighting battles was in his blood; not having battles to fight would frustrate him to the point of exploding. In that sense, it was just as well he’d chosen to work in intelligence. The regular army did not often engage in real battle these days, but a spy’s work was never done. There would always be enemies to outsmart, plots to unravel, targets to attain (and possibly shoot at). But maybe, just maybe, even that might not be enough for a man like Iron Klaus. It was impossible not to notice that the second he was not on a mission his mood took a turn for the worse. When he was pressured to take leave from work he acted as if he’d been given prison sentence. It was pretty obvious he wouldn’t be all that averse to a good fight outside of work as well. And that’s how on a nice day between heists Dorian’s best inspiration yet occurred to him. What if he offered the Major…a fight?

A fight! Now, that was something a pure-bred warrior like the Major would find hard to resist. Not an actual fight, of course; that would be highly dangerous and not pleasurable in the least. Not to mention Eroica didn’t have a chance in hell defeating Iron Klaus in close combat. It would have to be a ‘contest’ of sorts, on something Eroica truly enjoyed and was very, very good at…like sex. It was quite simple, really. The Major could not be tempted into his bedroom, but he could be tempted into a battlefield. Therefore, he’d have to make the bedroom unto a battlefield.

Although simple in theory, the idea wasn’t all that easy to put into practice. This wasn’t, after all, the kind of recreational activity Klaus would cheerfully agree to engage in. Dorian had to make him regard this as a challenge, and he had to do it slowly and carefully. It had taken him years to do so, and it had not been easy. The Major was smart and suspicious by nature, and he had to move very cautiously so as not to tip him off. At first, he’d only altered slightly his attitude towards him – he flirted as much as ever, but he was a tad less persistent, and not quite as disappointed as one would expect when the inevitable rejection came. Then, little by little, he had become a bit more taunting and antagonizing – again, not much, but every now and then a stinging remark would creep among his romantic overtures. Most of those remarks he did not even address to the Major in person, but to other people at hand – when he was sure the Major would be close enough to overhear. Like that conversation he had with Bonham.

It was right after yet another of the Major’s missions he had interfered in. As always, he had flirted outrageously, had been rebuffed cruelly, and had told the Major in very ungentlemanly terms exactly what he thought of him at the moment before storming outside. Bonham had found him a while later and had come to comfort him, the dear heart, but he was not alone. Even if his trained ears had not picked up the slightest sound of movement coming from a nearby alley, Dorian would know the Major was close by; Klaus always pretended he didn’t have a conscience, but every time he was overly harsh with him he invariably sneaked to check up on him afterwards. Dorian had found out a long time ago, but he never said anything; he was well aware that if he did, the Major would never allow himself even that tiny display of kindness ever again. Now, he had an additional motive to feign ignorance; this was the perfect opportunity for another of his little acts.

Poor, dear Bonham was trying his best to cheer him up, in his sweet clumsy way. He even went so far as to say ‘he was sure that Uncle NATO would come around eventually’, even though by his countenance it was evident he neither believed nor wished it. Whereupon the Earl had seized the opportunity to sigh profoundly and say in a dejected voice, “Oh, my dear Bonham…sometimes I think it might be for the best if he never comes around at all.”

Bonham had gaped at him as if he had lost his mind. “Wh-what are you saying, milord?” he stammered, dumbfounded. “Isn’t your dearest wish to get together with him?”

“Well, yes,” Lord Gloria sighed again, “but just imagine, what if we do get together and he turns out to be a huge disappointment. I mean, after all those years I’ve spent chasing him, what a let-down that would be.”

“B-but why would you think that, milord? Do you have any reason to believe that…” It was probably for the best that Bonham refrained from finishing his sentence, because Dorian could positively feel a murderous stare piercing them. Even Bonham must have sensed something, because once or twice he looked around, as if suspecting they were being shadowed.

“Oh, no, nothing of the sort,” the Earl assured him hastily. “But you know, everyone has something they’re not good at, right? Even I, the epitome of perfection, cannot handle these newfangled weapons properly to save my life. Maybe the Major too…is bad at handling certain things, if you know what I mean.”

He could barely refrain from smirking as he said that, because by now the Major’s fury was almost palpable. But for once, Dorian was safe from it; this was hardly a matter Klaus could kick a fuss about, at least not without being forced to disprove Dorian’s allegations…and there weren’t really all that many ways to do so.

He had kept this tactic going for a long time. The words he used varied, but the pattern stayed the same: first he offered himself, and when the Major refused he acted not heartbroken or stoic, but as if somehow expecting it, even slightly bored, clearly conveying the message ‘figures, you’re not up to the challenge after all’. And miraculously, the Major had responded – very slightly at first, then more and more as the provocation increased. Hard as it was to believe, looking down on him had worked a whole lot better than looking up to him.

It might have also helped his efforts that chasing the Major did not prevent his eyes from wandering on other men occasionally. During the first years of their acquaintance Klaus didn’t seem to give a damn who Dorian was flirting with; but as the years wore on, he had become a little more possessive. Not that he ever said anything outright – he had no legitimate reason to do so after all – but he became even more irritable and short-tempered than usual whenever he happened to witness Dorian lavishing his attentions on someone other than him. And while Dorian never did purposely try to make him jealous – as he had once told James, he did not care for jealous men – the fact that he couldn’t help openly admiring a good-looking young man he happened to come across had gone a long way towards helping him achieve his goal. To Dorian, that admiration didn’t really mean anything; it wasn’t that much different from admiring a painting or a statue, nothing like his all-consuming passion for the Major. But, perhaps fortunately for him, the Major didn’t seem capable of making that distinction.

It was hard to tell which of all this had finally done the trick; it was probably a little of everything. The important thing was that after a very, very long siege he had finally managed to breach the fortress of the Major’s defenses – and he had not been disappointed in the slightest. Klaus had risen to his challenge every bit as magnificently as he expected him to. Even now, the mere memory of their first time together brought tears to Dorian’s eyes; so breathtakingly passionate it was, so…yes, there was no better word for it – overwhelming. In one fell swoop he had been captivated all over again, had been hopelessly addicted to the drug that was Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach. And now that he’d gotten himself his heart’s desire at last, he was more determined than ever to keep him. In order to stay by his beloved Major’s side he would play the game for all it was worth.

On the outside, nothing had changed. Eroica was Eroica and Iron Klaus was Iron Klaus, business as usual. The flirting and interfering on one part and abusing and rejecting on the other were still there for everyone to see. It was evident from the beginning that the Major wouldn’t have it any other way, not that Dorian had any particular inclination to oppose him in that matter. He had no desire to make the KGB, the CIA and God knows how many more agencies, terrorists and bad guys in general any more interested in him than they already were. After years of close encounters with the lot of them – much too close encounters for his taste, in fact – he harbored no illusions about what they were capable of or the extent of their morality, which was very limited indeed. Proud of his conquest though he was, he was not about to jeopardize it for the sake of some meaningless bragging. And it’s not like he could not keep secrets when he wanted to. He had managed, after all, to keep his alter ego, Eroica, a secret from the world for so many years, not because he was ashamed of his profession but in order to be able to continue practicing it. He could certainly do as much for the sake of his relationship.

The only difference now was those encounters between them, encounters than no one else knew about of course, like the one last night. They did not occur often, never during missions, but most of the time shortly afterwards. Arranging these encounters had been surprisingly easy, even for two such shrewd and cunning men; usually a glance and a few whispered words were enough for them to set the time and place. Dorian saw this as proof of how well they understood one another, although he had never said as much to his darling Major. Some things were better left unsaid.

Most of the time they met in England, in one of Dorian’s residences (hotels had never been an option, for fear of unfortunate meetings). It was easier for Klaus to fly over to England for a weekend, under an alias of course, since his absence was less likely to be noted. His colleagues were far too scared of him to ever seek his company outside working hours, and his servants at the Schloss were used to him staying overnight in town for work. Dorian on the other hand had a harder time escaping the attention of his devoted gang, especially the obsessive James, but he somehow managed to send them away on errands or well-deserved vacations, or make a short trip to one of his residences where he did not keep permanent staff for his meetings with the Major. Bonham had been unusually cooperative in that regard, which made Dorian suspect that he had somehow noticed the shift in his relationship with Klaus. If he had, however, he’d kept quiet about it, for which Dorian was infinitely grateful. His trusted friend and partner in crime had always been exceptionally good at anticipating his wishes, after all.

Sometimes they would meet in Germany too, but this was a bit trickier. They mostly met up in one of their respective apartments in Bonn – again, more often Dorian’s, since Klaus’ was more likely to be watched. The Schloss was another matter; Klaus could not openly invite him there, of course, and as he very rarely gave his servants time off it would be weird if he started doing so now. However, the servants conveniently happened to sleep in a wing completely separate from the master’s quarters, and for a thief of Eroica’s caliber it was child’s play to enter the ancestral castle unseen. Dorian remembered with a smile their first illicit encounter in Schloss Eberbach. He had dressed grandly for the occasion, of course; velvet cape, plumed hat, frilly shirt over tight-fitting pants, the works. Exactly at midnight, under the chimes of the old church clock, he had scaled the wall under the Major’s bedroom window with a hook and rope. He had pried the window open with ease and had made the most spectacular entrance possible, reciting some of Romeo’s lines from the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet, his cape flourishing behind him. Klaus had called him a ‘besotted exhibitionist’ and then he had flung him on the bed, cape and all, and had his way with him. Ah, the memories.

Certainly, he could not deny that this odd relationship was nothing like the dreamy romance he had envisioned for himself in the past. There were no romantic candle-lit dinners, picnics on the countryside or leisurely strolls in galleries and museums. Nor did he ever hear any endearments or sweet nothings pass through the Major’s lips; even when it was just the two of them, the only improvement he could discern was being called ‘Dorian’ on occasion. No bouquets of flowers, endless phone calls or fervent love letters either. But Lord Gloria did not mind in the slightest, because he had realized long ago that Iron Klaus by his very nature could not possibly be a conventional lover. Which was just as well, too; conventional lovers he could have by the dozen, but there was only one Iron Klaus in this world. Not for the world would he wish for Klaus to renounce his one of a kind character for the sake of romantic clichés. Besides, there were other things that more than made up for the lack of romance.

The sex for one was, needless to say, great. No, great was an understatement. Majestic. For all his lack of experience, Klaus was by far and wide the most exciting partner he ever had. Even when he was on the receiving end, he never submitted completely; every time was a challenge where Dorian had to reclaim what he had considered conquered ground anew. And when he was on top…that’s how being taken by an ancient god must feel, Dorian thought. Not even in his wildest dreams had he ever imagined just how much ecstasy he could derive from submitting to Klaus’ iron will. Mere words simply could not possibly describe the mind-boggling sensation of being possessed by such a man. He had known ages ago that the Major would be the only one for him, but after they had slept together that fact had become an unshakeable reality. He would sooner give up his entire art collection than take someone other than Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach to his bed.

But there was more than just a physical relationship between the two of them, Dorian knew. A merely sexual affair, no matter how great, eventually would have bored him. He had never been in love with just the Major’s body (although he adored that too). It was his character, the discovery that in his own way the Major was just as passionate as he was that had chiefly drawn him to that man. Over the years, despite every disappointment and bitter moment, he had been delighted and enchanted every time he managed to uncover yet another aspect of that thorny but oh so thrilling personality. Even after all this time he could not be satisfied that he knew the man inside and out; every time he started to think so, the Major would still surprise him. After he had won over his body he had made it his business to get to his heart as well, but he still had a long way to go. The Major was not the kind of person who would become all meek and mellow simply because he had sex. At first the entirety of their time together was spent on satisfying the long-awaiting demands of their bodies; but lately there had been a bit of talking here and there, over a quick bite or after sex. Klaus was still careful not to talk about himself, but he was not averse to generic conversation, and now that they had the whole ‘Have sex with me, darling – No I won’t, you idiot’ routine behind them, they had discovered they could actually have a pretty decent conversation together. Dorian could tell Klaus enjoyed this as much as he did – it was to be expected, really. Both of them were exceedingly intelligent men with many lifetimes’ worth of experience under their belts. They had been through innumerable adventures together, more than most people could boast of. And neither of them had any other person they could confide in without reservations. As improbable as it sounded for two such diametrically opposed characters, they actually had quite a bit to talk about.

And when they were not in the mood for serious conversation they could always indulge in teasing and taunting one another through the games they played, like tonight. Much to his amusement, Dorian had discovered that when instead of throwing himself at the Major he acted a bit unwilling, Klaus became more fiery and dominating than ever. Their little altercation earlier was a fine example of that…and the outcome was more than satisfying.

Dorian smiled contentedly as he recounted the previous night’s events in his head. Yes, one could say it had been quite the breakthrough. It was the first time ever the Major had taken him outside of the game. He had used the pretext of ‘punishment’, of course, but it was quite obvious he genuinely wanted him. And that kiss at the end…it was pure, wanton passion, nothing more, nothing less. No love declaration could have been more straightforward. Dorian was now more confident than ever that his relationship with Klaus would keep growing deeper and stronger with the passage of time, and looked forward to what new adventures the future had in store for them. Now that they had found each other nothing could get in their way, he was sure of it. And it was all thanks to his brilliant inspiration.

Yes, without a doubt, this was the best idea he ever had.


Around the same time, on the highway from North Downs to Heathrow airport…

Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach was sitting behind the wheel of his rented Benz, speeding down the empty highway with a steady hand. Even though he hadn’t slept a wink all night, he didn’t look at all tired; rather, he was quite relaxed, almost cheerful, humming the Panzerlied under his breath. This fighting game was without a doubt the best idea he ever had.

Without this idea, he and Dorian might never have come this far considering all the circumstances against them, he reckoned. Too many things had been against them right from the get-go, the lack of understanding not being the least of them.

Even though Dorian had understood him better than anyone else had, he had been wrong in many of his assumptions about him. He was hardly to blame for that though, given that Klaus had gone out of his way to give everyone around him mistaken impressions.

For one, he wasn’t nearly as appalled by homosexual relationships as he let on. Although he had never engaged in one, he had witnessed quite a lot of them during his school days. His father had thought that an all-boys Catholic school would be a haven of morality where temptation would never set foot, and perhaps it had been so in his time, but during Klaus’ sojourn in it there had been quite a few goings-on behind the good sisters’ backs that would have made his father’s hair crisp with horror had he known. Klaus had never participated in any of this, but he had never spoken to the sisters about it either; even long before becoming a spy he was averse to ratting people out. The only times he allowed himself to interfere in these matters were when he suspected that a classmate was being coerced into such a relationship against his will. He had rescued quite a few boys, especially underclassmen, from sexual assaults, and some of them had been more than willing to express their gratitude to him with their bodies afterwards, but he had never taken them up on their offer. He believed that accepting this sort of ‘gratitude’ was beneath the strict moral standards he had set for himself. Besides, he didn’t really want anyone getting close to him; since he was a child he had always been a loner, albeit not by choice, and had grown to be rather uncomfortable in the company of others. The main source of his discomfort was the fact that he had zero patience to interact socially with other people, which was also the cause of the second big misunderstanding about him.

Everyone thought that Klaus was not interested in sex, but it was not true. He had sexual urges just like everyone else; he was a healthy male, after all. Problem was, in order to get sex, it was expected of him to be nice to a woman first, and Klaus hated being nice to women. In fact, he hated being nice, period. One of the main reasons he had chosen a career in the army was because there it would be acceptable to yell at his subordinates as much as he wanted to when they messed up without having to conform to social etiquette. Unfortunately, in his personal life things did not work out so well. Whenever he had tried to socialize with women, the sheer effort he made to put up with them without lashing out with rude comments left him so drained he could not possibly try for something more intimate, not that he had ever felt any particular inclination to do so. He had labeled himself a straight man because that was what was expected of him and he had no evidence to the contrary, but he had never really been attracted to anyone, man or woman. He had had sex with professionals a few times – since he did not have to be courteous first, he managed it, but it didn’t really do anything for him. When he became an intelligence agent he stopped even that, in order to eliminate all possible weaknesses, and simply took care of his urges on his own. For a long time he had convinced himself that sex was not for someone like him, and had decided to focus solely on his duty and his work.

Then Dorian had walked into his life, and everything had changed. At first he had despised him, but that had been only for a short while, much shorter than anyone, including Dorian, could possibly fathom. That airhead was convinced that Klaus hated the sight of him for the longest time; what a shock it would be for him if he knew that Klaus had wanted to get it on with him since, maybe not day one, but day three or four for sure. Hell, it was a shock even for him when he had realized that the fop he was supposed to hate, he did not hate at all. But there was no denying it. The Major had always been able to tell exactly what he felt about other people based on his reactions towards them. For instance, his standard ‘hate’ reaction was ‘I want to beat the living daylights out of him’. When, in Dorian’s case, that had turned into ‘I want to rip his foppish clothes off and fuck him within an inch of his life’, well, it was evident that something had changed, and it would be idiotic of him not to admit it.

Thinking back, what had sparked his interest in the man was probably the fact that Dorian had been able to see past his gruff and unsociable attitude that had repelled everyone else in the past. He could not help but be intrigued by such a rare occurrence; he had never dreamed there could exist someone who would willingly seek him out, chase after him even, without minding his abominable behavior in the slightest. Someone who wanted him just the way he was, not sugar-coated with fake courtesy. And when that someone also happened to possess the most tempting body the Major had ever set eyes on…now that was too good to pass up. Damn right he was interested. But following up on his interest had been a lot more difficult than he had first thought. For someone who offered himself to him on a silver platter, the Earl of Gloria had proven remarkably hard to get.

And why was that? Because the godforsaken idiot did not understand the meaning of discretion! In fact, he was indiscretion personified! Never mind the extravagant clothes and the queer attitude; he was a queer, after all, nothing could be done about that. Never mind that he could not keep his thieving hands off anything that happened to catch his eye either; as long as he did not pilfer his belongings or anything related to a mission, he could steal the whole world blind for all Klaus cared. But you’d think he would at least have the sense to make his propositions without the presence of an audience! Wasn’t it appropriate to have some privacy when discussing such personal matters? Granted, the circumstances under which they met did not offer many opportunities for tête-a-têtes, but it would not be impossible for Dorian to talk to him alone if he wanted to, especially if you took into account that there was no building in the world he could not let himself into.

But instead, what did he do? He went and exposed his feelings in the most public manner possible! Klaus still shuddered every time he remembered Eroica’s outrageous first confession to him. In a room full of police and intelligence agents, arrested on the charge of kidnapping the Pope, no less, and he had the abysmal gall to declare he was in love with him! What did the idiot expect? That Iron Klaus would rush into his arms professing undying love, and give the KGB and Italian police a free peep show too while he was at it? What choice did he have but to deck him and turn him over to the police, even if it was the last thing he wanted to do? That sly fox Polar Bear might have suspected something when he had said that Klaus’ reaction was ‘too appropriate’, but it was probably just a veteran spy’s paranoia. At most, he must have suspected they were working together, but no more than that. Which was extremely fortunate, not so much for him but for Eroica as well. Brilliant as he was, the silly thief never seemed to realize what danger his reckless confession had almost put him in.

Probably due to his incorrigibly romantic nature, Dorian firmly believed that ‘love conquers all’, that he could love whoever he wanted with impunity. That might be true where most other people were concerned, but not in Klaus’ case. Klaus knew better than that. He was well aware that his world was not so kind as to leave in peace someone who had intimate relations with a master spy like him. As long as Eroica was just a crazy queer stalking him, he would be left alone; but if it became known they were lovers, he would become the target of every enemy agent and vengeful terrorist in the world. Eroica might be a brave and ingenious thief, but he was not hardened and ruthless enough to take on men who would kill without a second thought. The incident on the Michaelangelo was ample proof; if he had not happened to be there, Dorian would have been in way over his head. And Klaus could not possibly be always there to rescue him. The only way to ensure his safety would be to make certain that nobody ever thinks it possible for the two of them to have any sort of personal relationship. Spies were not easy at all to fool; if Klaus were to start something with Dorian, he would have to exercise utmost caution not to get found out. Unfortunately, from the looks of it, Eroica did not seem at all inclined to be cautious or discreet. After that infuriating love declaration in Rome, Klaus resolved not to let Dorian lay one finger on him until the damned fop learned some proper German discipline. Even if that meant he would suffer just as much for it.

But to his extreme and never-ending frustration, Eroica did not mend his ways one bit afterwards. His outlandish behavior went from bad to worse; if it was not butting his nose into the Major’s missions, it was stealing his personal effects just to get his attention. If it was not shamelessly ogling him (and trying to cop a feel whenever he got a chance), it was getting drunk and stripping in public – stripping, for God’s sake! Always eye-catching, exasperating…and so very enticing. It took all of the Major’s iron self-restraint to stand by his decision. On occasion, when it became too much for him, he just snapped and ended up manhandling Eroica, an act he always regretted afterwards – this wasn’t the kind of physical contact he was aiming for at all, but he lost all control over himself at such moments.

And so the years kept passing with little or no change in their respective attitudes. They seemed to have reached a standstill in their relationship. Dorian flitted around him like an elusive butterfly, sometimes pursuing him intently until they parted ways either slightly amicably or, more often, at odds with each other, sometimes disappearing for entire months without so much as a word. Klaus wasn’t sure any more which was more frustrating; the effort he put into keeping Dorian at arm’s length or the disturbing realization that the Earl seemed more and more accustomed to this distance between them. He did not doubt the sincerity of Dorian’s feelings for him, but he feared that the Earl had come to regard their situation more like a game worth playing, that the chase had become more important to him than the catch itself. The only positive thing was that after all this time everyone was pretty much used to Eroica flirting with him, only to be rejected outright. As long as there wasn’t any dramatic change in his way of treating Eroica, even a shift to a mutual relationship was very likely to pass unnoticed. The main problem now was finding a way to bridge the gap that he himself had created.

But that was easier said than done. Like everyone else, Lord Gloria had been conditioned over time to anticipate instant rejection to his advances. Much as he wished to, he would never believe that the Major had changed his mind just like that. If Klaus simply yielded, Dorian would probably think that he had gone insane or that it was some cruel trick on his part; and he would be hardly to blame, given their past history. It was therefore necessary to come up with something that could convincingly make Klaus give in, and then have Dorian do it. Clearly, that something had to be completely different from Eroica’s past tactics, otherwise it would beg the question why Klaus had given way now, after all this time. And so it was that Klaus found himself in the ridiculous position of having to find a way to lure himself into Dorian’s arms.

A motive powerful enough to justify hooking up with Eroica…now that wasn’t something easy to come up with. Sex appeal alone would not cut it, since Klaus had appeared to be pretty much immune to it in the past. It did not help that Dorian was quite considerate for a perverted degenerate; those few times when Klaus had been physically unable to resist and he could have taken advantage of him he had chosen to be a gentleman instead, which was commendable, but not at all convenient. And he simply did not have any other weaknesses. Aside from Dorian, his only other obsession was his missions. For him, there wasn’t anything else better worth doing than taking enemies on, beating them soundly and returning home victorious. Any other sort of interaction with people was annoying and frustrating at best. One of the things he liked about Dorian the most was that, despite his feelings for him, he had never hesitated to take him on as an adversary when their interests conflicted, and whenever he did that, he was more than a match for him; his usual frivolous self notwithstanding, when Eroica got serious he became remarkably cunning and tenacious. Even though at such times he would often wreak havoc on his missions, causing him constant headaches and rage outbursts of apocalyptic proportions, deep down Klaus welcomed the additional challenge. Not one of his enemies had ever managed to put his abilities to the test quite as much, and even though he knew he shouldn’t take pleasure in top secret missions being endangered, he could not help but enjoy their duels, especially when he managed to outwit the clever thief. Too bad it wasn’t possible to indulge in this battle of wits with Eroica outside of work.

Or was it? The idea had come to him quite suddenly, during one of those vacations he had been forced to take, while trying to pass the time by repairing a toilet flush in the Schloss that refused to function properly. Why not outside of work as well? As far as excuses went, it was pretty believable; surely Eroica would have no trouble believing he could be tempted by the prospect of a fight, the more so because it wasn’t at all far from the truth. He did find the idea alluring, seeing as he enjoyed pitting himself against the Englishman; and the added bonus of claiming that seductive body as a prize only increased the thrill of the game. Yes, this was certainly a noteworthy inspiration. The next step would be finding a way to implement it.

Needless to say, he could not suggest such a thing directly; Iron Klaus would never consider playing sex games with the man he supposedly hated. The idea had to come from Dorian, and thus the first order of business was to plant it inside Dorian’s head. His intelligence training came very handy at this point. One of the foremost abilities of a good spy was sowing ideas and opinions into other people’s minds, without them realizing they came from someone other than themselves. Klaus had used this tactic a lot, even with high-ranked spies, and he was exceptionally good at it. In this case it was even easier than usual, since he didn’t have to pretend too much; all he had to do was be a little more transparent about the things he liked. A few apparently random comments and expressions and Dorian was sure to pick up; after all, he did have a first-rate brain underneath all that hair. Klaus often thought he might have figured it out even without him doing anything; he had spent so much time chasing him that by now he had come to know him better than anyone else had. Still, at first Klaus wasn’t sure if his ruse had worked, but after a while he started noticing the subtle changes in Eroica’s attitude, and then he knew he had succeeded. All that remained now was to wait until the Earl’s provocation reached a point where it would be ‘acceptable’ for him to take on the challenge.

But the wait was long, and not at all agreeable. Even though he knew he was ultimately responsible for the Earl’s increasing taunts and insinuations about his performance in the bedroom, that did not make it any easier to put up with. His patience, which had never been great to begin with, was wearing ever thinner these days, and as a result he got angry with Eroica more frequently and more violently than usual. And as the Earl did not always take his rage fits lying down, they had some mighty legendary rows during that time. Of course, quarrelling was nothing new for them, but it piled even more strain on their already unsteady relationship. Klaus had every reason to worry that at some point he would overstep the boundaries of even Dorian’s seemingly endless tolerance and drive the thief away from him for good. To make matters worse, there was also the inherent danger of the tactic he had goaded Dorian to employ; Klaus was well aware from past experience that it was a double-edged knife he had chosen to work with. Dorian said those things about him now without believing them, in order to provoke him; but if this went on for too long, it was very possible for the lie to become reality. Klaus had seen it happen to undercover agents many times in the past; by repeating the same lies over and over, they ended up believing them. Their fake characteristics and opinions overpowered and eventually replaced the true ones. The same could happen in this case, too; there was a very real danger that, bolstered by constant repetition, the Earl’s simulated belittlement would become real. And if it became real, it would all be over before it even began.

As if that wasn’t enough, lately he had discovered he couldn’t help but worry over rivals as well. In the past, he hadn’t minded Dorian’s flirting with other men, possibly because he couldn’t really see them as potential threats. They were always pretty youngsters whom Lord Gloria led around by the nose, way too bashful and delicate to actively pursue Eroica or even hold his interest for too long. But now, in his state of growing anxiety, he had realized even that was no longer tolerable. That mission in Copenhagen had made it abundantly clear to him. It shouldn’t be any different than all the other times before; that dancing brat wasn’t in any way superior to that wimp Caesar Gabriel or the boy toy in Persia or the young monk in Switzerland or even that devious little Chinese assassin. However, where he had only felt occasional pangs of irritation before, now he was consumed by a burning rage the likes of which he had never felt before. Maybe it was because they were already on a precarious phase of the plan, or perhaps because this was the first time Dorian had turned away from him so flagrantly in favor of another man. In the past, he might flirt while the Major wasn’t around, but as soon as he showed his face Dorian never had eyes for anyone else. But in Copenhagen that little prick was actually taking precedence over Klaus in Dorian’s affections, and that realization made him boiling mad to the point of clouding his judgement and making him commit one blunder after another. First he had given Eroica the silent treatment – talk about childish punishment, not to mention it had backfired royally when he ended up needing the thief’s help afterwards. Then he had gone and erroneously convinced himself the sissy boy was a Russian spy, on evidence that on retrospection was flimsy at best. Truly, it was a miracle that in spite of all his mistakes he managed to finish this mission successfully and not make Dorian detest him completely.

In the end, dancer boy had turned out to be no more important than the ones before him; but despite that, the whole incident had made all sorts of alarms go off in Klaus’ head. No way could he afford such a thing happening again; if it did, he might make a much more serious mistake he would not be able to amend. But as long as Dorian was free to play around, it would happen again, and now Klaus knew he could not be trusted to witness it without losing control. And when Klaus lost control things got really nasty between the two of them. So nasty there was a very high risk of them separating for good, and damn it all, he wasn’t going to let that happen. He had not let this pesky, annoying, meddlesome, nerve-wrecking, lovely thief invade his work, his home, his dreams even only to up and leave him in the end. It was high time he embraced his ‘defeat’ – or victory, depending on how you looked at it. Either way, it meant embracing Dorian.

But it was worth it. All the effort he had put in, all his troubles, everything, was totally worth it in the end. Dorian was everything he had hoped for, and more. Many times before, when his pessimism got the better of him, he thought that even if he did manage to win the Earl over, they would never last; they were way too different, he thought, and after the thrill of the chase died down their differences would inevitably get in the way and tear them apart. But all these depressing notions had been blown away the very first time he had made Dorian his own. It was the most exhilarating experience he ever had, nothing like the indifferent sex he’d had in the past. For the first time in living memory he had let himself do exactly as he pleased, and it was awesome. Forced Dorian to surrender unconditionally, aroused him without mercy, made him beg, yes, beg to be conquered before he finally unleashed every single one of his thwarted desires onto the thief’s willing body without curbing his natural ferocity in the least. And Dorian had loved him for it. Called out his name in raptures, coaxed him to keep going on and on until they were both on the brink of collapse with exhaustion. Nothing, not even knocking Mischa out cold or securing the most top secret microfilm had made him feel this good. He wasn’t going to relinquish this, not ever. He would preserve this relationship, even if he had to wipe out the KGB on his own for it.

The rules of the game were formed gradually, from one time to the next. It wasn’t always the same, depending on the mood. Sometimes, like tonight, they took turns and timed each other to see who could hold out the longest, sometimes they stimulated each other at the same time to see who would give in first, sometimes other things; Dorian was really inventive when it came to their games, he could always be counted on to come up with something new. He had taught Klaus heaps of things about sex he didn’t even know existed, and cajoled him into performing acts he had never thought even remotely possible. For one thing, he had never dreamed he’d actually consent to being invaded, let alone that it would feel as good as it did. Though, truth be told, he definitely preferred being the one doing the invading. Once a control freak, always a control freak, he supposed, and besides, the Earl too seemed to get one hell of a kick out of being dominated.

Although the Major was fully aware of how much he desired Dorian, it was a surprise even for him how enjoyable and relaxing spending time with him was. Up till then, the times when Klaus was really able to unwind and enjoy himself could be counted on one hand, but when he was with Dorian he found he could really forget himself and his worries, if only for a short while. The Earl was an unexpectedly agreeable companion, and not just at sex. He was knowledgeable about many subjects besides art and fashion, and contrary to what the Major had thought talking with him wasn’t boring at all. Not to mention it was pretty refreshing to be able to talk to someone who wasn’t deathly afraid of him or after his professional secrets. After a while, Klaus even noticed that his work performance had improved as well; he was visibly more collected and focused than he was before. His attitude towards his colleagues, however, did not improve one bit; he was still as rude and harsh to the Chief as ever, and a regular slave-driver to his alphabets. Certain things would never change no matter how much sex he had.

It was just as well, though, because no one had really noticed how he often disappeared on weekends when he wasn’t on a mission, or how Eroica was more confident around him despite the unchanging mistreatment; but then again, he was overly optimistic to begin with, so that was nothing new. In general, neither of them had changed significantly after the onset of their relationship. Dorian had seemed to expect the Major to demand of him to shape up, become an honorable citizen and so on, but Klaus had no such intentions. Since the beginning, he had never cared that Dorian was a thief, unless his thefts interfered with his missions. Other than that, the only artworks he minded being stolen were those of his family collection, and not because he was attached to them but because he regarded protecting them as part of his duties (not to mention his father would blow his top if anything happened to them). Moreover, being a thief was part of Dorian’s personality, as much as being a spy was part of his own. The Eroica persona was admittedly a menace to society but Iron Klaus was no saint either, in fact it was hard to tell which one was more wicked than the other. However, wicked or not, they were part and parcel of their respective characters and could not be denied or forced to disappear. They both would have to learn to live with them if they were to maintain this relationship.

So they did, and somewhere along the learning process Klaus realized this was probably the best partnership he could possibly have, a perfect fit for someone like him. Besides fulfilling his sexual needs with such wonderful immorality, Dorian was superior to a regular wife in so many ways. For instance, with him there were none of all those annoying social obligations he’d have to endure as a married man. He didn’t have to take him out to those detestable fancy and overly crowded places as he would a female; because of the need for secrecy, they seldom went out at all, and those few times they did it was somewhere very discreet and isolated, which suited him just fine, since he still was averse to socializing with other people. Each of them had his own life and independence as a matter of course; much as he longed for him, Dorian would never whine that he was ‘being neglected’ or ask Klaus in tears ‘which is more important, your work or me?’. He would never nag him to be introduced to his family, get married or have children. Albeit a queer, Dorian was a man, devoid of any female needs or female mentality, and as a man he could understand him better than any woman could, the more so because he had spent so much time studying him. With Dorian, Klaus didn’t have to make allowances, compromise or adapt to anything and for an unyielding man such as he was, this was a match made in heaven.

Probably that was the reason he was for the first time ever actually attached to something – or someone. Everything in his life so far he had been able to discard without a second thought if need arose, but Dorian was the one thing he absolutely wanted to hold on to no matter what. Was this love? Hell if he knew. At the end of the day he didn’t really feel any of that namby-pamby romantic stuff Dorian was always going on about; he had no sudden urges to spout poetry, take off for walks under the moonlight or anything else of that nonsensical crap. He remained rigid, realistic and practical as ever he was. And the very practical conclusion he had reached was that Dorian was a good thing for him. Perhaps, he contemplated at times, his body had been wiser than he was all these years when it yearned for the thief against his better judgement. Now that he had finally come to terms with his desires, it felt like he had finally made peace with himself after a long-standing and devastating war. His life was still as strenuous and harsh as ever, but it was no longer a torment; it felt actually worth living.

As he was nearing the airport he took the time to assess last night’s encounter in his mind. First off, he acknowledged the possibility he had over-indulged himself this time around. Instead of adhering strictly to the game rules as always, he had succumbed to the temptation and had sex with Dorian outside of the game. Even if it was on the spur of the moment and under the excuse of ‘punishment’, he still thought it rather unwise on his part. If he were to stay on top of this relationship it was imperative to keep his own lust in control as well, he reminded himself. And then there was the kiss at the end – that was probably also a mistake. He should know better than let his inner feelings so imprudently close to the surface. Eroica was no fool; if he wasn’t careful enough he would eventually realize that the Major more than any game craved Dorian, his very own delicious forbidden fruit. In order to maintain the current status quo he would have to keep up the deception at all costs, and that’s exactly what he was going to do, no matter what it took, no matter for how long. After all this was a piece of cake compared to what he’d had to endure before. But now the battle was finally over; he had prevailed and he had brought his plunder home, his own forever. And he had no one to thank for it but his own wits.

Oh yes. Definitely the best idea he ever had.

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