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Not the Most Terrible Thing

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"Major! The most terrible thing has happened."

Improved security on all NATO buildings and still somehow Eroica managed to get into the building and all the way to Klaus's desk without anyone stopping him.

"Someone get him out of here," Klaus ordered. None of the Alphabets came forward, despite Klaus's glare.

"It's horrible," Eroica wailed. "It's about your father."

Visions of his father dying or being in a terrible accident flashed through Klaus's mind. He put down the report he was reading. "What happened?"

"He's met my mother," Eroica said. "They want to introduce you to my sister." His voice turned into a wail. "The unmarried one."

Klaus wouldn't label that "the most terrible thing," but it was concerning. The warning would be useful. He wouldn't tell Eroica that.

Klaus picked up his report. "I'm not going to marry your sister." He glanced around at the Alphabets. "R, T, escort Eroica out of the building." He glared at R and T fiercely enough to make them imagine what Klaus might do if they didn't do as told. "Make sure he doesn't come back in."

"You don't know that," Eroica yelled back as R and T took his arms and walked him toward the door. "You don't know my mother."

*

Because of Eroica's warning, Klaus was prepared when he arrived at the Schloss to find his father waiting with a pair of women, one older and one younger. He gave orders to the butler before he went in to join them. He might not have noticed the resemblance without Eroica's warning, but he had been fending off eligible young women for years and recognized the type.

"Klaus," his father said. "This is the Lady Gloria and her daughter Annamarie. Ladies, my son."

Klaus gave them the briefest once-over, and then sat in a chair far away from them. "Surprised you're using the title."

"Pardon me?" Eroica's mother said.

Eroica burst through the door. "I won't allow this!"

Klaus's father stared at him. "I beg your pardon. Who are you?"

Eroica pulled himself up dramatically. He was wearing very tight pants, boots with a heel, and some sort of gauzy top that kept gaping open to show his chest. "I am the Earl of Gloria, and I will not stand for this."

Klaus's father frowned at Eroica's mother. "Is this your husband?"

"My son," she said forbiddingly.

Klaus's father drew himself up to stand. "What objection do you have to my family?"

Eroica looked confused. "None whatsoever."

Eroica's mother seemed to have recovered herself. "Lord Gloria's opinions have no bearing on this conversation."

A maid came in with a plate of fried potatoes for Klaus. He started in on them immediately.

"They have every bearing!" Eroica said. "I will not allow this."

"They do not!" Eroica's mother visibly steadied herself. "The Earl does not have standing to object to anything we do."

"She abandoned him," Klaus said. He aimed the comment at his father.

"His father was a degenerate," Eroica's mother said with a sniff, "and he's a homosexual. I'm sure he's spent the years since doing all sorts of things with all sorts of men."

"Two," Klaus said.

"Pardon me?" Eroica's mother said.

"He's had two partners, lovers, whatever," Klaus said.

"Three," Eroica said.

"Two," Klaus said firmly. "Someone who takes advantage of you is not a lover."

"You seem to know him well," Klaus's father said

"He's one of the bravest men I know," Klaus said.

Eroica looked shocked, but quickly turned it into some sort of sappy nonsense.

Eroica's mother spluttered. "But he's a homosexual!"

Klaus had had plenty of time to consider his career, his age, his father's age, the changing world, and Eroica's probable reaction before ending up in this situation, so he was able to calmly say, "So am I."

Eroica's mother looked outraged, the sister resigned. Klaus's father sat down abruptly.

Eroica's mouth dropped open. "You are?"

Klaus glared at him. "I thought you knew. You're always coming after me."

"I didn't know," Eroica said. "I hoped." He had a foolish look on his face.

"Idiot."

"Klaus," Klaus's father said, "you are a homosexual."

"Yes," Klaus said.

His father frowned. "Eberbach needs an heir."

"Yes," Klaus agreed. He turned his attention to Eroica. Dorian. He should get used to thinking of him as Dorian. "If you can come up with something he approves of for that, I'll marry you. You can pick the wedding date. The stingy bug gets nowhere near my estate." He looked at Dorian's mother. "You either."

"Oh, darling!" Dorian clasped his hands to his chest. "You've made me so happy!"

The butler appeared in the doorway with Klaus's suitcase.

Klaus ate one more fried potato, then shoved the plate into Dorian's hands. "You still have to convince him," he said, nodding at his father. He strode to the door and took the suitcase from the butler. "I have a mission."

*

Klaus got nearly two weeks' reprieve before Dorian appeared in the rented flat they were using as mission headquarters in Tirana.

"Darling!" Dorian paused to pose dramatically. His shirt had long sleeves, but the pose made the left one fall back, showing off his long fingers and flexible wrist. "You look so handsome and manly."

The Alphabets looked nervously between Klaus and Dorian.

"Sir, do you want us to escort him out?" H asked.

Klaus waved them off.

"I got your father to agree to a surrogate," Dorian said. "He gets to choose her. He agreed we could have a year of marriage first, and I told him I couldn't possibly be ready for a wedding until June, which gives us nearly two and a half years alone." Dorian clasped his hands together. "Isn't that wonderful?"

Dorian's prattle did nothing to stop the Alphabets from looking everything from nervous to frightened.

Klaus pulled a set of blueprints out of the stack of things on the table and thrust them at Dorian. "We need to get in here."

Dorian glanced at the blueprints for the briefest moment. "I hate breaking into office buildings. They're so unromantic."

There was nothing for it. Klaus strode around the table, took Dorian in his arms, and kissed him soundly.

Dorian practically swooned. "Oh, Major."

Klaus set Dorian firmly on his own feet. "Mission first. You'll get more romance later."

Dorian gazed at him. He practically had stars in his eyes. "Will you take me on a honeymoon?"

"Yes," Klaus said. "After the wedding." He pushed the blueprints at Dorian. "Get us into the building." He looked around at the Alphabets standing around staring at them. "Get back to work!"

The Alphabets burst into a flurry of activity. Dorian bent over the blueprints with a dreamy smile on his face. Klaus folded his arms and watched them all work. They'd have the mission wrapped up in no time.