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The Alphabet - Stories in Reply

Chapter Text

When she comes in today, I’m going to ask her out.

Jürgen Huffmann had told himself that every morning for the last three months.

The pretty blonde worked on the fifth floor, he knew that much. Intelligence Division. Her boss was that prick von dem Eberbach. She must have more steel in her backbone than appearances would suggest, to put up with him. Was she a secretary? Did she work in the typing pool? Maybe she was a researcher. The sparkle in her eyes told Jürgen she was smart. He liked smart women.

Every morning for three months, since he’d been assigned to security duties on this entrance to NATO Headquarters, Jürgen had told himself he was going to start a conversation with the pretty blonde, and ask her out.

Every morning for three months, when he’d seen her coming his mouth went dry and his hands started to tremble. Every time, he lost his nerve as soon as he saw her, and all he could do was smile and nod, and murmur “Good morning”.

Not this time, he told himself. Today, I’m going to talk to her. Today, I’m going to ask her out.

He looked up. There was a man he didn’t recognise coming through the front door. Short, lightly built, blond, dressed in a dark blue suit.

Damn, thought Jürgen. It’s nearly time for her to come in. If I’m tangled up checking this guy’s credentials when she arrives …

Jürgen sighed, resigning himself to another day without being able to ask her out.

Tomorrow. I’ll talk to her tomorrow.

He straightened his shoulders. “Sir, may I see your identification, please?”

Chapter Text

"Who did we send to Moscow?"


"Because I'm asking, idiot."


"Do you want to end up in Alaska? I'm asking you who we sent to Moscow."

"Y, sir."

"Never mind! Insolent idiot. What about Turkey?"

"We're sending U to Istanbul."

"I'm not going to Istanbul!"

"No sir, U is."

"That's 'you are', you imbecile. You'll never pass for an Englishman if you can't speak the language properly. And I am not going to Istanbul."

Chapter Text

The Earl of Gloria raised his head from the morning newspaper, a thoughtful expression on his face. A shaft of sunlight falling through the diamond-paned glass of the morning room at Castle Gloria shone like a halo on his silver-white curls. At seventy-five, the Earl was still a handsome man. Still a vain man, too. He glanced sideways at his reflection in the silver teapot, noting with satisfaction that Mother Nature had been kind in giving him good bone structure and genes that had allowed him to keep all his hair.

"Time is a perverse thing, Bonham," the Earl mused.

"What makes you say that, m'lord?" Bonham, long retired but still part of the Earl's household, looked up from his toast and marmalade.

"Do you remember Rome, Bonham, back in 1980?"

"Rome? 'Ow could I forget, m'lord? You stole the Pope."

"That's right, Bonham love. Of course, I gave him back straight away - but didn't it cause a fuss?"

Bonham chuckled. "So why d'you say time's a perverse thing, then, m'lord?"

The Earl passed the newspaper across the table. "Look at the headlines. They've just elected a new Pope. And see who it is! If he'd been Pope all those years ago, I never would have given him back!"