“If you only had one day left to live, how would you spend it?” The Earl said to the Major.
“What?” The Major said to the Earl.
“If it was your last day on earth? What would you like to do?” The Earl looked out of the window wistfully, twisting a golden curl around his finger.
The train carriage shook. The Major looked down at the handcuff on his wrist. The Earl wore a matching one, and the suitcase they both attached to was hidden under the table between them. The ridiculous events that had led up to this moment still swam around his brain.
“I am not displeased with the company, but I wouldn’t have chosen the silent treatment,” The Earl said. There was a pause. The Major thought he was done. He was wrong. “Major?”
“Gott in Himmel!” The Major said under his breath, closing his eyes. He opened them again and stared at the Earl. “Fine. I would do what needed to be done.”
“That’s it? Then I expect you would lie down neatly in your coffin and place the pennies on your eyes yourself?”
The Major snorted. “You waste too much time thinking of frivolities.”
“Major. This is a very serious matter. I never thought about it much myself until...” the Earl drifted off.
The Major was glad of the silence. He rested his eyes for a few minutes. But something was bothering him about what the Earl had said.
When he opened them again the Earl was looking out of the window again, fiddling with his hair. He turned back when he noticed the Major staring at him.
“What would you like to do, if you knew today was the last day you would ever spend with me?” If the Earl was joking he was doing a good job of hiding it.
“No. I want to know the answer,” The Earl said defiantly.
“I’d look forward to the peace and quiet.”
“You truly do know how to break my heart.” The Earl buried his head in his hands.
The Major’s first instinct was to mock him for being such a drama queen. He would later tell himself that he was tired or delirious from the mission, but whatever the reason, he reached out and stroked the Earl’s head. His curls was both soft and interestingly textured, the Major thought in a detached way.
The Earl stopped his snivelling and allowed this to happen. When he finally lifted up his head the Major flinched and tried to pull his hand away, but the Earl caught it and pressed his lips to it.
“I’d like a kiss from my beloved,” The Earl said, keeping hold of the Major’s hand.
The Major clenched his jaw, suddenly feeling very hot and uncomfortable. His hand tingled from the touch of the Earl’s lips. He wanted to shout. He wanted to hit the Earl for making him feel this way. But he found himself speechless and frozen.
“One would suffice, but many would be wonderful.” The Earl’s voice was quiet and breathy.
He doesn’t mean me, the Major said to himself. Why would he mean me? Who am I kidding? Of course he means me.
The Major fought with himself. This wasn’t right. It certainly wasn’t the sort of situation that a man of his position should be in. But what would it matter? Dead men told no tales. And he would be the one with a lifetime of regret ahead of him. The Earl had always had a way of making him feel uncomfortable. But it was not always in an unpleasant way. Sometimes the discomfort felt like excitement. Excitement that he balled up and hid deep inside himself.
The Major was leaning towards the Earl. It was not entirely of his own volition. The Earl had hold of his hand with both of his, including the one attached to the suitcase, and the Major.
Not wanting to fully lose control of the situation, the Major closed the gap between them and brushed his lips against the Earl’s.
The Earl gasped in surprise and let go of his hand. His blue eyes were wide.
“Happy now?” The Major said, keeping his expression carefully neutral.
“I’m very surprised. I always imagined you would be far more passionate and aggressive.”
The Major stared at him unblinking.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’m very happy. My heart will be aflutter for weeks.” The Earl clutched a hand to his chest.
“If you had weeks.“ The Major dropped his gaze.
“You are dying, ja?”
A look of confusion, then a slow smile spread over the Earl’s face. “You thought I was-“
“You said you were dying,” The Major hissed.
The Earl laughed. “I did not.”
“How dare you! Scheiße!” The major stood up, almost knocking the Earl out of his seat as he pulled on his end of the handcuffs. “How dare you deceive me like that!”
“That was not my intention,” The Earl said, grabbing the table to steady himself. “But it was not an unpleasant consequence. Was it?”
“Nein! Of course it was unpleasant!” The major was panicking. Dead men may not tell tales but living ones did, especially when they were Dorian Red Gloria.
“Klaus. I didn’t force you. You kissed me.”
The Major shook his head, although he couldn’t deny it now.
“And it was wonderful. I would love you to do it again.”
“Shut up,” The major breathed, feeling sick. He had disgraced himself. He could lose his job, his status, everything.
The Earl put his head to one side. “Admit it, you like me.”
A tiny flicker of sadness marred the Earl’s smile. “Ich liebe dich, Klaus.”
The Major had suffered the Earl’s declarations of love many times before, but somehow hearing it in German was deeply embarrassing. It seemed more genuine. More believable.
The Major wanted to say something. But no responses seemed to be available for him to use. “I... cannot,” he said eventually.
He expected the Earl to protest. To argue. To beg. But he simply smiled. “For now I will just be satisfied that I have stolen the most valuable item in the world. Your heart.”
The Major spent the rest of the journey trying to avoid looking at the Earl. It was difficult. Every time he caught a glimpse of him he was wearing a stupid dreamy smile.