This took altogether too long to write. And incidentally was partially written on various trains. Hope you enjoy!
What kind of joke is this? Klaus thought to himself as he looked at the phoney corpse. He could even see that the so-called actor was still breathing. And why on earth was the whole train car staring at him?
Dorian laughed nervously. "Friends, if you would just excuse my partner and I for one moment?" He grabbed hold of Klaus's wrist and pulled him back into the previous train carriage.
Klaus stared at Dorian. He wanted to shout at the damned Englishman, but he could see the terribly smiley Canadian woman waving at him from the other end of the carriage. Also the indecision about what to shout about first rendered him speechless.
"I signed us up to take part in a murder mystery," Dorian explained.
"What? Why didn't you tell me?"
Dorian smiled and twirled a curl around his finger. "I wanted it to be a surprise."
Klaus narrowed his eyes.
"All right, I was nervous about how you would react."
"Partners? What is that supposed to mean?"
Dorian laughed and touched Klaus's arm. "Business partners," he said, gazing at him with an expression that said I know what you're thinking. "You are playing Henry Smith and I am playing Hans Schmidt. We own Smith Schmidt International Shipping Company."
"That does not sound very plausible."
Dorian laughed. "It's a murder mystery! It's not supposed to be plausible. It's just a bit of fun."
Fun. Klaus had never held with the idea of fun. It seemed like too much pressure. There was no point to it, no way to measure success or failure. But a murder mystery, that was something he could work with. That had a point to it. Find the murderer. Klaus rolled up his sleeves.
"Would you like to change for dinner first?" Dorian asked him. The murderer had been caught and they were now outside in the corridor in front of their cabin.
"Dinner is in an hour, I need to get ready. I expect you will too?"
Klaus frowned. "There is nothing wrong with what I am wearing."
Dorian looked him up and down and smiled. "I suppose not. But I am biased, I think you look good in anything."
The train shook and Dorian was caught off balance. Klaus was used to the movement of the train by now and had his feet planted firmly on the ground. Dorian braced himself against the wall Klaus was stood against. Klaus caught the thief around the waist.
"You finally caught me," Dorian said with a smirk. He was leaning his whole body against Klaus. The Major couldn't breathe.
Dorian touched his face, and Klaus flinched. His eye was badly bruised. "Go and get some ice," he said, leaning his forehead against the German's.
"I'm fine," Klaus said, taking hold of Dorian's shoulders and pushing him. Dorian was still leaning against him but it made a few inches of space between them.
"It's your own fault, you know."
Klaus gave Dorian a look, but didn't protest. The thief was right after all. He shoved Dorian into the opposite wall. There was still little space between them.
"I love it when you're rough with me," Dorian said, turning his head and giving Klaus a sidelong look.
Then they were kissing fervently.
When they parted, they stood and stared at each other for a long time. Klaus worried about the state of his health. His breathing was ragged, like he had just run a marathon.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Could I just sneak right by you guys?" It was the overly friendly Canadian woman.
Klaus threw himself away from Dorian and hit the wall of the corridor so hard he almost bounced off it.
"Of course," Dorian said with an easy smile. "I'll just go freshen up," he said to Klaus, and disappeared into their cabin.
"You two are so darn cute," the Canadian woman told him with a giggle, as she followed Klaus down the corridor to a place that was wide enough to pass him with some decency.
Klaus was speechless. He could feel his cheeks burning in embarrassment. How much had she seen?
"There really isn't so much room in those cabins, eh?" she said, grinning at him as they came to a place where she could walk past him.
Klaus wanted to scream. Instead he patted his pockets for his cigarettes.
Klaus went to sit in one of the viewing cars while Dorian got ready in the tiny cabin. The talkative Canadian woman was nowhere to be seen thank God, so Klaus found himself alone with his thoughts.
It had been easier when he thought Dorian was dying, Klaus reflected. An awful thought yes, but a true one all the same. It was much easier to deal with when they only had a limited amount of time to hold on to one another. Klaus coughed, he was embarrassing himself with the memories.
Now they were trapped together on this train for many more hours. Why had he agreed to this?
Many months ago, he had received a series of answerphone messages from Dorian saying he needed to speak to him. The thief didn't sound hurried so he assumed it was not urgent. I will call him later, he told himself. And while he considered it, he did not.
At one point Klaus thought he had given up. But then the sound of his melodious English accent once again graced his answering machine. Klaus sat by the phone, just staring at it. What did the Earl have to say to him? He had to admit he was curious.
The phone rang, startling him. He moved his hand to pick up the receiver, but then replaced it in his lap, and watched the phone as it rang.
The ringing stopped.
Klaus sighed and picked up the phone, dialling Dorian's number. He didn't need to check, he had heard the Earl recite it enough times to remember it. Including the international dialling code, he noted. How insulting that he thought that he would not know even that.
"Hello?" A voice on the other end of the line said.
"Who is this?"
"It's you! Why are you calling here? The Earl doesn't want to speak to you."
"James, give me the phone."
There was what sounded like a scuffle. The Major rolled his eyes.
"How are you?"
Klaus groaned. "I have no time for petty pleasantries, get to the point."
"Oh. Shame. But very well. I have been thinking of taking a trip. I would like you to accompany me."
Klaus had been holding his breath. He let it out slowly as to not make a sound. No. The Earl had helped him many times before, he supposed it was only fair that he repay the favour. "Okay. What's the mission?"
Dorian laughed. "No no, not a mission. More like a holiday."
"What?" The Major almost dropped the phone.
"Klaus I want to see you. I miss you. The moments we have together are so few, and so brief. My heart longs to be with you."
Klaus snorted. "We see each other all the time. Too much, if anything." It was too easy for him to say these things on the phone. Falling into the usual patterns felt like a safety net.
"Oh Major, don't be so cruel. Come away with me. We can leave reality behind, for a while at least. If we like it, we might never come back."
Klaus thought about it. What would life be like, travelling the world accompanied by Dorian, instead of regularly bumping into and clashing with him? Nobody would know who they were. He could forget who he was, for a while. Klaus made a noise that wasn't exactly a word.
"Was that a yes?"
"I cannot be sure I will be allowed to take time away from work."
"I will send you the details." Dorian sighed. "If you cannot make it, I will take the trip alone and think of you."
Dorian would never know whether Klaus was smiling or rolling his eyes during his silence.
"I hope to see you soon, Klaus. From Eroica with love." He blew a kiss down the line.
Klaus put the phone down and stared at it for a while. Was he actually considering this? He was considering it, wasn't he? He put his head in his hands.
Plane and train tickets arrived as promised, and Klaus's leave was granted. No questions asked. A shame too, as he had come up with a brilliant explanation about having to housesit for a distant aunt who no-one had heard about before.
So there was no getting out of it that way. Still, there was always the chance of a last minute urgent mission forcing him to cancel his plans. As the departure date drew closer, Klaus had to come to terms with the fact that this holiday was going to proceed as planned.
A few days before, he neatly folded the required number of moderately casual shirts and trousers into a suitcase. While he did this, he considered the option of just not getting on the plane. The thought of spending so much time with Dorian, well Klaus didn't even know how he felt about that. What he thought was: this is a bad idea. But then he thought of Dorian waiting for him. He would be all sad and wistful. Klaus sometimes thought that he must enjoy being sad and wistful, he seemed to almost wallow in it.
He found himself driving to the airport. Checking his luggage. Getting on the plane. Perhaps he could just get drunk and forget who he was for a while. That might be all right.
He got a drink from the bar, and the barman noted Klaus's black eye with some amusement. "So you were the one who caught Rosie, eh?" he said.
Klaus grunted and threw back the whiskey. "News travels fast here."
"It sure does. I see she got you real good."
Klaus nodded, and indicated to him to refill his glass.
He had to smile to himself as he recalled the events of the murder mystery. It had been quite boring at first, interviewing a succession of suspects with his "business partner". They all had ridiculously unbelievable reasons why they could have wanted to kill the late Mr Jones. And told them about it in great detail, punctuating the tales with protestations that they didn't do it, though.
Klaus was getting annoyed with the whole business. But then Dorian noted that they had not seen the woman who was stuck in the 1940s (nobody else was dressed in clothes from that period, Klaus noted).
Dorian had sat back at let Klaus demand information about the anachronistic woman. Working on the information they had received, they made their way to a carriage further down the train. The woman set off running when they found her. She had obviously done this before, she ran easily down the corridor despite her heels and the rocking of the train. Klaus and Dorian bounced off the walls in pursuit.
Seeing his chance as the woman paused to open a door between carriages, Klaus leapt and made a grab for her. He caught her by the throat and they were immediately thrown sideways. The woman struggled, unable to make a sound. She hit him so hard that an untrained man would have let her escape. But she had not been expecting to face Major Klaus von dem Eberbach.
Dorian refused to let him carry her back to the other end of the train, so instead they civilly frogmarched her, as much as one can frogmarch in single file.
Later, they sat down to dinner. As they waited for the main course to arrive, Klaus stared out of the window. He couldn't help but notice Dorian staring at him with a smile half hidden by his hand.
"What?" Klaus said, turning towards him.
Dorian smiled even more. "I love you," he said.
Klaus frowned, then shook his head and felt the corners of his mouth raising almost involuntarily. "This is not going to work," he said.
Dorian cocked his head to one side. "Us, you mean?"
Klaus narrowed his eyes, as if to say of course.
"This train journey will end. And then we will have to return to our normal lives."
Dorian laughed. "Since when did either of us have normal lives?"
"We will figure things out, my dear Major," Dorian said. He reached out to take Klaus's hand, under the table. Klaus tensed. This was okay, he told himself, no-one can see. "There will be other opportunities to get away. And I daresay both of us will take the option of early retirement."
Klaus scoffed. "Retirement? You never started work!"
"I'll have you know I work hard!" Dorian protested, but he was laughing.
Klaus squeezed Dorian's hand under the table and picked up his wine glass with his free hand. "No murder mysteries next time," he said.
Dorian smiled and clinked his glass with Klaus's. "Deal," he said.