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Klaus shows up one random weekend. He hasn't seen him in a few months, busy with his own affairs. His crew has been prepping for a few light jobs. Klaus had a suitcase, which was different, but he didn't think anything of it. That should have tipped him off. In the moment, though, he assumed it was more of a 'too many files for just a briefcase' situation. It wasn't.

At first, Dorian doesn't realize what's happened. It takes a a few weeks for him to see through the extremely flimsy, no effort involved excuse of a case. Which technically Klaus hadn't actually articulated.... he had just let him assume it. He hadn't corrected him, or spoken much at all really.

He almost looked down, sad-ish. ....Well, as wilted as iron could be, at that, Dorian thought.

He was the only one who could tell, probably. Klaus still looked exactly like usual. He wore the same suit, shirt, everything. His hair looked just as unique and striking as it always did. He didn't act out any 'melancholy' behaviors, he just seemed less himself, less excited about a case. He loved his job.

Dorian usually toned down his wardrobe when he came over. At home, he wore random, outre stuff for fun. He'd noticed how Klaus seemed to give him a second look in more 'man-appropriate' clothes, as if he were more attractive when dressed like an office drone.

If that's what got him going, he was all for it. But he couldn't acknowledge that he'd noticed, or he'd embarrass him, [also he hated ties], so he just lowered his inclination towards wild, almost experimental fashion during his visits.

And then Klaus somehow involved himself with the few horses Dorian had on the estate, taking issue with how they're treated. He doesn't say anything, but Dorian and one of his men can tell. He spends time out in the hills with the horses, seemingly aimlessly.

Admittedly, everyone thought what they were doing currently was fine, but Klaus seemed almost partial to some of the horses.

While Dorian used to meet with him once a day to discuss things, this time he'd initially left him be. A little known fact about his German darling was that he kind of relaxed when he came over to his house alone. Unless the case was urgent, or lives were at stake, he spent a little bit just hanging out at first.

Dorian figured it was his version of unwinding, safe in a country not dedicated to efficiency and endless work.

But he was wrong. Dorian had always had a rather conservative [comparatively, at least] member of the servant staff bring Klaus whatever he asked for at mealtimes, and he ate in his room.

After the first few visits, Dorian had even gotten him a little nescafe supply on the side table, with an electric kettle beside it, all in his room. He'd had to pick the drabest one the castle had. Oddly, he felt almost proud of how quiet and proper it looked--well, proper in the way Klaus would define it.

Eventually, someone comes to see Klaus. Dorian is not surprised that it is Z. He's always been the favorite. He and his team spy on the alphabets and Klaus all the time, just as a safety precaution--for them, that is. Dorian only allows one of his most trusted men to monitor Klaus in particular.

He knows how private he is. He doesn't watch him too much, himself, feeling that it's really rather rude.

While everyone has vices, no matter who they are or what they claim, Klaus doesn't, it turns out. He's very solitary, and reads a lot. Watching a few moments of their routine surveillance on him just makes Dorian feel sorry for him. His life is so somber, outside of work.

Klaus often seems very happy during cases, paradoxically. He also likes to talk with Dorian behind closed doors, to his [and the alphabets'] surprise--because he wants his opinion on plans and motives from a thief's point of view.

He seems to value how different Dorian's outlook is, how he sees things that Klaus doesn't. Not that Klaus isn't incredibly sharp, himself. Sometimes he likes to suggest things he feels Dorian will 'spot', as if trying to think like him. It's quite cute, and he almost seems proud, waiting for Dorian's judgement.

Like he's grading him on his ability to think like a thief.

Now, though, this visit is different. Dorian usually waits until Klaus requests his time to visit his room in the castle. It's literally been weeks, now. So he has one of the servants invite Klaus to tea.

Of course, it's with just him. He's never done this, acutally, but Klaus comes willingly, and the servant he grilled assures him that he seemed fine with it. He tries tea like Dorian takes it [and does not like it, he can tell], but powers through. The little sandwiches are surveyed, but he only likes the cucumber ones. And he does not like sweets at all.

Dorian knows he's going to hear about this from his cook later that night. He will be beyond insulted to hear that Klaus didn't even try any of the little, perfectly made, classically French desserts.

He talks idly, of random things, but Klaus does not interject or offer any questions as to a case. Instead, he actually seems to listen and asks about the local horse races that Dorian is talking about. [One of his men has been trying to practice for it.]

When he asks some particular, detailed questions about his horsemanship, strategy and riding style, Dorian says he'll send the boy over at teatime tomorrow. And weirdly, Klaus seems pleased.

Afterwards, Dorian took five little French sweets in a napkin to Bonham to discuss the situation. He was in his lair, in the room by the security feeds, currently working on researching some prospective project the team might attempt.

"And what did you learn?" he asked, eating a macaron topped with raspberries.

Dorian shook his head. "There seems to be nothing he's going to say. I've waited for him to choose to talk, I've had him come out for tea, he's been out on his own, and still, he won't tell me anything."

Bonham leaned back in his chair. He had always been a sort of almost father figure to Dorian, but acted more like an older brother, really. "Did you ask him direct, at all? Or just hint?"

"Neither," Dorian said immediately. "This is so different. Something out of the ordinary must have happened. He never acts like this."

"Did anything happen, for him? I mean, mission-wise?"

Dorian pulled himself up to sit on the edge of the desk. "I don't think so, at least everything seemed routine. There's been no impetus, or any some such..."

He trailed off. He was beginning to think the only recourse was the ask the man himself. It would not be fun. He and Klaus both communicated in an almost symbolic way. They never asked the obvious questions, and even when teasing never mentioned the big things.

Like how Klaus hated being touched by random people, but was fine with Dorian. What had happened to him? Or how sometimes Dorian reacted when startled by pulling out a knife, as if ready to fight.

Klaus never asked him about anything immoral, which ranged from stealing to sex in his book. Over the years, he had clearly valued Dorian's loyalty, and repaid it every time. Even that one time when he'd been blackmailed by a lover, who had sent photos to Klaus--he'd only found out later.

After the man was in prison for life in a third world country. Dorian had immediately checked the video they kept on his office and home [just in case of emergencies], only to see him simply turn the photo stack over and not look at any of them, just at the note.

Klaus was like that; he was very into preserving people's dignity. Probably a religious thing, Dorian mused.

The day Z showed up, things became more clear. Dorian had been content to drift along, waiting for Klaus to get comfortable and choose to tell him what was going on.

Z had knocked, come in, and asked for Lord Gloria, to his surprise. He had received him, of course, in the blue room. Z courteously asked him if he could inquire if it was a good time for him to speak with the Major.

He'd said yes just to see what would happen, to be honest. And yes, he'd run right to the tech room to watch.

It wasn't spying or indecent--it was necessary. He had to find out what was up with Klaus.

He didn't appear startled when Z knocked, but he didn't favor him like usual. He often spoke most to Z alone. They spoke in German, but Dorian had learned that, and perfected it, a long time ago. It had come in handy many times, like when Klaus had rescued him during a job gone wrong, or when he'd been shot on a mission and Dorian was trying to help him in the immediate aftermath.

Klaus often switched into his own language, when it was just the two of them. Dorian had always liked that. It seemed more honest, more intimate. And indeed, he had been much less formal with him if they were alone. Klaus had a habit of asking him odd questions then, almost in an existential vein. Sometimes he'd ask about art, or particular piece, or why Dorian liked that or this painting. Other times he'd ask him what his favorite myths were, his favorite music.

It was very random, but very real.

He had always answered in English, though. It would have been silly to try and use his average speaking skills to a native. He felt more confident and sincere that way.

"Sir," Z said, and he watched on the computer screen as he sat across from Klaus in the desk chair. Klaus himself sat calmly on the edge of his [impeccably, self-made] bed. "Which will you do, if I may ask?"

Klaus looked away, to the window. He finally said, "I think this. The other is too far, even for me."

Z was surprised. "But you will have to explain a lot."

Klaus nodded. "It will be bad, annoying, but only at first. I think it will be fine. I will just gloss over those details."

Z seemed to accept this. "I wish you success." At this, Klaus nodded, stood, and shook hands with him. Then Z left, as if that hadn't been the strangest meeting Dorian had ever seen. And he'd seen Klaus hold many of them, so that was saying something.

The next afternoon, at tea with him, Dorian resolved to say something. Surely he'd expect inquiries as to Z, at least, not to mention his long stay at the castle.

But Klaus beat him to it. "You have not asked why I've come," he said, but kept going before Dorian could answer through his shock. "I want to work with you. In an illegal capacity. I left my job a little while ago."

A little crustless sandwich triangle fell out of Dorian's unfeeling fingers onto his plate. He hadn't expected this.

Klaus shrugged at his silence and continued. "I wanted a change of location, but I don't have to be right here, obviously. I can stay in a hotel if that's easier."

Dorian shook his head, finally, as his senses came back to him. "No, you know I--you know you're welcome here. Forever, if that be necessary. It's no trouble, this place is huge. Now tell me, what type of work do you want to do? Is it on someone you can't touch within the law?"

Klaus nodded, reluctantly, and he could see how hard it was for him to just switch sides. He'd been the law for so long, he was hesitant to associate himself with the 'other' words, even. "I have a few targets in mind, and they have huge art collections," he said hastily, as if trying to placate Dorian.

As if he wouldn't do it with him anyway. Honestly, he thought. In a way, Klaus was very insecure about people caring for him. From Z to him, he seemed to worry that they needed a 'reason' to do something with or for him. It discomfited him, but it also made him feel protective of him. He'd had so few people genuinely treat him well in his life. At least Dorian had had his crew, Bonham, James, his random lovers.

"That sounds excellent," he assured him, only to have Klaus get up from the table.

"I'll go get some of my preliminary files," he said, and put a hand out, as if to say that Dorian should wait here, and then they'd examine them together. He rushed off to fetch them.

Dorian started clearing off a nearby table of its Ming vase and golden statue of Horus [from the tenth dynasty]. It was an excellent piece from the first intermediate period, he mused, but it was also much less important than the start of their new adventure together. Klaus had never questioned the provenance of anything in his house, on his estate, but he kind of wanted to tell him anyway--that he only stole from people who were garbage human beings.

He wasn't super good-ish, but he didn't steal from the 'good' rich, the charitable, decent ones.

And that none of it was confiscated, world War II stuff. But he didn't want to bring that up either. He had never said anything about that time, because when they'd investigated Klaus at the beginning, they had found his father's record. There were few people who could find information on him, and it wasn't good.

He knew Klaus wasn't the type of man to just be okay with that. He was a rebel, heard his own drumbeat. Everything from his hair cut to his exacting moral standards was special, unique. Other people in his world fell in line, followed orders. Did what they were told.

Klaus didn't. He suddenly really wanted to see who Klaus was willing to profile, case up, and steal from. They must be monsters, he realized, as the Major walked back in with a stack of papers.

He couldn't wait to get started.

Chapter Text

Klaus preferred to keep Dorian's men out of it. So far, he had been very subdued--though that was typical, and had been for a few years now. At first Eroica had seemed dangerously bored, almost untamed, with a love of risk and action.

Time had mellowed him a little, and Klaus hoped being exposed to the missions had also helped him see the value in protecting yourself instead of jumping into harm's way. And the worst part was that all Dorian had been after art, not even a goal worth risking yourself for. Just some paint on cloth, and he could have bought a lot of it anyway.

Dorian's strange estate had always been a place he liked, mostly because he liked how different the man himself was. Eroica was who Dorian truly was, and in public he acted out a weird, aristocratic persona. At hie home, he was just his thief self. His real self.

Klaus hated when people were acting. Pick a personality already!

But at home things had always been nice. To his surprise, the castle halls were very quiet. For all Eroica hinted at a constant life of frivolity and ribald excess, that wasn't the case at all. His men were quiet and respectful, and even dressed normally--well, in Klaus' opinion. Dorian spent a lot of time seemingly reading papers and books, but what they were exactly, Klaus didn't know. It was like being in a hotel. He would have tea with Dorian sometimes, in a small, well-appointed room at the end of one wing. Other than that, he was alone. Dorian had people bring him food, which he appreciated.

It would have been weird to eat with a bunch of foreigners [eating who knows what], or by himself in the same room with them, whichever. Especially since he always asked for the same stuff, staunch German-style food. They even made it well.

He had been worried at first, when he'd begun to visit once in a while, that they would feel he was on their turf. For once, they had a huge upper hand, though he did come armed. Just in case. Instead, they acted like he was their little liasion. It was almost funny, how Dorian's men acted like he was a friend instead of a guest dedicated to law enforcement. He had also been worried about being smothered, but Dorian had given him time to think, to relax.

Klaus was not a people person. He was a person who knew the nescafe machine in his room was a declaration of fealty. He had to admit, he felt the same way. He was willing to be tied to Dorian, to be a team. His jokes about love had actually been quite smart over the years--no one noticed how he stole everything from wallets to actual guns. They were too distracted by their obstensible argument--Klaus being againt public emoting, and emoting at all in the presence of others, or in the presence of your own self; unconsciousness was an exception.

Dorian was all for shocking people while he ran cons. He was an excellent thief, and admittedly, his choice of Klaus as a straight man in the joke was a good one. People stopped and stared, trying to figure out what was with Klaus. He knew he was an oddball, in the sense that other people didn't understand him.

That was their problem. Regular people were boring, empty, simple. Klaus was driven, full of energy, and wanted to make a difference, to be someone worth having people under him. Amusingly, the only outré thing Klaus ever saw at Dorian's residence was people mixing 'lager with lemonade'. Of course he expected cyclists to drink Radler, but all the time? -- it was just weird. Other than that they were as studious as his own alphabets.

Mostly, Dorian and his men seemed to focus on honing their areas of expertise. While drinking Pimm's constantly. Klaus was good with coffee. Bonham in particular seemed to subsist almost soley on gin and toast and egg soldiers.

He made sure to seek Bonham out once in a while, out of recognition of his status. In Dorian's house, he was the equivalent of Z mixed with Klaus' butler. In a sense, he had a rank. And Bonham had always been good to Z, and to A as well. He seemed to appreciate Klaus' formal, yet short, calls on his time. Sometimes he would tell him little things about Dorian, or about little things that Klaus didn't know.

Klaus had been prepared for anything, but instead it's great at Castle Gloria. It's just nice. He especially likes how Dorian lets him decide if he'd like to have tea--he can come if he wants, but he doesn't have to. He hadn't planned on coming to England, but things had just ground him down. Things at work had gotten suspicious as well. If you can't do right within the law, then you are forced to go outside it. For a while he had tolerated it all, investigated the misconduct he suspected. Klaus liked to think he was tough. And then one day, after a particularly average, yet still rude, phone call from his father, he decides not to go home like he was planning. He turns the car around, and goes back to Bonn.

Then he packs a suitcase and then, finally, he gets on a plane. It just pushed him over the edge. Everyone wants something from him, and they have no moral standing themselves. His butler talks back at him endlessly [he never answers], trying to make him more normal-ish, his father is just terrible, and at work he's pretty sure [about 93.2%] he's discovered that some people in NATO are covering up their collusions with incredibly evil people.

People that Dorian would call uber-criminals. He's an art thief, a wealthy, titled, bored excitement seeker; these people rape and murder and enslave. Klaus decides, suddenly, while waiting to get on the plane, that he really is done. Hasn't he tried to fit in, to do 'what was expected of him'? And where has it gotten him? He's stood by [unknowingly, at least] as some NATO missions he's helped with were sure to cover up for evil people, he's gotten derison from his father, and in his own house he's watched, as if the servants want to see what mood he's in.

He hates being watched. At least at the castle no one bothers with him. They leave him alone, and treat him like a random buddy of the Earl's. And not in a romantic, or indecent way, just as an acquaintance. They may be foreign, but sometimes they're a damn sight more non-disrespectful than the people he usually deals with. He'll have to start dealing with those people NATO has covered up for, he muses. He can set Z on taking down the people within their own organization, it'll be good for him to have an interim leadership position. Not that Klaus feels like going back, to be honest.

Well, one day at a time. And anyway, he's been slowly training Z to take over, with G as his advisor, for a long time now. As he boarded the plane he could only think, plantatively, I can't wait till we can get off and I can smoke. Life was truly a trial, he thought.