Eudora cornered him in the break room at work the next morning. It was the first time they’d been alone together since she’d left him with Klaus the night before. Diego had, admittedly, been hoping to avoid her. When she saw him, her mouth set in to a tight line, shoulders tensing. She walked straight past him and set a cup beneath the coffee machine.
“I don’t know what you think you’re doing,” she said to him. She had her back to him but her voice was dripping with accusation.
“Eating a doughnut?” Diego replied, hardly able to get the words out around his mouthful. The chocolate icing was sticking to the roof of his mouth. He swallowed loudly.
“The man you left with last night,” Eudora continued, icily. She stabbed at a button on the coffee machine. “That was the same guy Colin saw at the hospital.”
Diego frowned at her back. “Who the fuck’s Colin?” he asked. As he spoke his own question jogged a memory. “That nurse you’ve been screwing?”
“At least I’m not screwing some junkie I picked up at a crime scene.” Eudora spun around to face him, her expression fierce.
Diego choked on the remains of his doughnut. He reached for a swig of coffee to try and clear his throat and burnt the top of his mouth on the scalding liquid. He spluttered, sending a mess of soggy crumbs flying across the table.
“I’m n-not screwing him,” he said, eventually managing to get the words out. He ignored the voice in his head adding yet. “He saved my life. I can’t just turn my back on him.”
“Well you two looked pretty cosy when we left you last night,” Eudora told him, though her expression had softened slightly.
“I can’t help that,” Diego shrugged. “He’s just that kind of a guy. He doesn’t really do personal space.”
His own words provided him with an unhelpful flashback of Klaus grinding up against him outside the nightclub. The man’s hands roaming up his thighs. He cleared his throat and rubbed a hand over his eyes, willing the image away.
Eudora sighed heavily. “All I’m saying is I didn’t see him trying to get up close and personal with Chuck.”
Diego chuckled at that. “Yeah well,” he said. “Who would?”
“I don’t think you realise what you’re getting yourself into,” Eudora told him. She had settled down in the chair across the table from him, looking as if she was about to break particularly difficult news. “Look, Diego… just… don’t be surprised if he tries to get you into bed.”
Diego smirked. At this point he was pretty much counting on it. “Oh, I won’t be.”
“I mean… I will be?” he offered tentatively.
He was rewarded with a light smack around the head, before she walked away muttering angrily under her breath. Diego distinctly heard the word ‘men’, uttered with intense exasperation.
Shortly after their argument in the staff room, Diego and Eudora were called into Chuck’s office. The room smelled strongly of stale coffee and the man’s desk was covered in paperwork. He was rifling through it with a harried expression when they entered the room. His pen had leaked and his fingers were stained with blue ink giving them a bruised appearance.
“I need you both on the bar fight case,” he told them, setting his paperwork aside as he spoke.
“Which one?” Eudora asked, glancing sideways at Diego as she spoke.
“The Academy,” Chuck said. He pulled out a cardboard file from the top drawer of his desk and began thumbing through its contents. “We know two shots were fired that night. No fatalities, but the ballistics report found a match between the bullets found in the bar and the one that killed our friend from last night.”
He pulled out a photo of the East Village murder victim and gestured unnecessarily at the gaping hole in the man’s head. Flicking through more photos, he withdrew one that showed the needle sticking out of the man’s arm. Diego looked away.
“We’ve had forensics back and the fingerprints on the man’s neck match those on the needle. That was a lethal dose and he didn’t inject it himself. All the evidence points to the involvement of a major drug cartel.”
Diego’s heart sunk. He remembered the way Chuck’s eyes had landed on Klaus at the crime scene the night before. There had been a deep-rooted suspicion there that it now seemed would be impossible to shake. As far as Diego was concerned, Klaus was a cute boy who flirted too much and wore daft clothes. He might have dabbled in drugs and worked for dubious people, but that didn’t make him a criminal.
“You got a surname for that groupie of yours, Diego?” Chuck asked him. He had dragged his eyes away from his paperwork and was watching him carefully for any sign of a reaction. “The drugged up boy from the club. Claude, right? We might want him in for interview.”
Diego opened his mouth to make an angry retort and then closed it again when Eudora stamped, hard, on his foot. He made a non-committal noise in the back of his throat instead.
“Yeah,” he agreed, “Claude. I don’t know his last name.”
“We’ve been circling these fuckers for months,” Chuck continued. He stood up and pulled a thick dossier out of his filing cabinet, pushing it across the table towards them. Eudora opened it and Diego watched her flicking through grainy photos of men in dark hoodies, their faces turned away from the light. “But they’re getting sloppy. I reckon if we can just get an ID on the ringleader, we can bring them down.”
His eyes landed back on Diego. “Ask Claude,” he told him, “then get shot of him. He might be involved.”
Diego nodded, his eyes fixed on the clock hanging above the Detective’s desk. He was taking Klaus for waffles that weekend, whether Chuck liked it or not.
Diego spent the days following Chuck’s announcement alternating between furiously denying his attraction to Klaus and desperately longing to get his tongue back into the man’s mouth… among other places. It seemed that every time he closed his eyes an image of the man’s long legs laced in leather would arrive, uninvited, in his mind.
The fact that their relationship had now been inexplicitly forbidden was doing nothing to dissuade his interest. In fact, he strongly suspected it was making things worse.
On the morning they were due to meet he attempted to distract himself, flicking through images of topless women on his computer. None of them looked as good as Klaus had, fully dressed, with his mouth open and pressing against Diego’s collarbones. He groaned in frustration and slammed the laptop closed, going to take a cold shower.
They met outside Griddy’s, a tiny little diner in a run-down street that Diego had never been to before. A broken neon sign buzzed repeatedly on and off over the entrance. Through the glass door he could see brightly painted walls and glass counters piled high with doughnuts.
The location had been Klaus’s choice, but the man arrived twenty minutes late. Diego was on the verge of leaving when he hurtled around the corner. He was wearing his feathered coat again and it billowed out around him as he ran.
“Oh, thank fuck,” he groaned, barrelling into Diego, and holding on to his shoulders as he gasped for air. His eyes were rimmed in silver liner that gave him an ethereal appearance. “I thought you might have left.”
Diego’s wounded ego was soothed by Klaus’s obvious state of panic. “I nearly did. Bet you would’ve missed me, huh?”
Klaus shook his head, still panting. “I’m just here for the waffles,” he said, ducking instinctively to avoid Diego’s clip around the ear. He stuck his tongue out and disappeared through the door, leaving Diego to trail in after him.
They sat at a table in the corner, covered with a slightly sticky plastic cloth. Diego took the seat opposite Klaus and then rolled his eyes when the man moved to sit next to him. Klaus was wearing his lace-up pants again, and he pressed one thigh purposefully against Diego’s own.
“Nice outfit,” Diego told him, eyeing the skin beneath the lacing of the man’s pants. He had paired them with a black shirt, adorned with a repeating pattern of bright pink flamingos.
“Thank you, yes. I thought you might like it,” Klaus said. He propped an elbow on the table and leaned his head on his hand, looking up at Diego from under his lashes.
A middle-aged waitress in a pink apron approached them, holding a steaming pot of coffee. She smiled at them as she took their order. “Now,” she said, pocketing her notepad, “aren’t you two just the cutest couple?”
Klaus beamed at her, wrapping an arm around Diego’s shoulders. “Isn’t he handsome?” he asked.
The woman opened her mouth to answer, before catching sight of Diego’s scowl. She hurried away, clutching the coffee pot to her chest.
“You are,” Klaus filled in for her. “That was my very first thought when we met.”
Diego’s mind provided him with a vivid flashback of Klaus peering down at him from atop a dumpster as he lay stunned and bleeding on the floor. “Seriously?”
Klaus shrugged, playing absentmindedly with the collar of Diego’s jacket. “In my defence, I was a little…” He waved his free hand in the air by his head. “Out of whack.”
“You were high,” Diego corrected. Chuck’s accusation was still ringing in his mind: that Klaus was involved in a drug-cartel. “You were working in the club right? Is that where you were getting your fix?”
Klaus removed his arm from around Diego’s shoulders and gave him an assessing look. “Didn’t Five tell you? I’m not using anymore.”
Diego couldn’t help the way his chest swelled hopefully at that information. “What’s Five?”
“My brother,” Klaus said impatiently. “The cute kid in the suit. He said you were trailing around after him like a lost puppy.”
Diego ignored the insult. Little brother or not, he had found Five deeply irritating. And not at all cute. “So you’re sober?”
“Been clean for five weeks,” Klaus beamed at him, raising his coffee cup as if toasting himself. He drank deeply.
“And what brought that on?” Diego asked.
“Oh, I got mixed up in a bit of a rumpus,” Klaus said. “Just a misunderstanding with the gentleman I was buying from. He turned out to be a bit of a drama queen… shots were fired...”
He trailed off, and then winked, forcing a smile. “Then I met a cute cop, had to hide from all my contacts and decided I’d take a shot at living life sober.”
“But how did you do it?” Diego asked. He couldn’t shake the doubt in his mind that Klaus, a self-confessed addict, could have got clean so quickly.
“Oh,” Klaus looked a little taken aback by the question. “Well, I had Five tie me up until the withdrawal passed. I needed someone to take away my options, y’know?”
Diego grimaced at the image. He hadn’t much liked the kid, but he hated the thought of him being forced to physically restrain his own brother. He leaned in and gripped the man’s hand where it rested on the table top. “You wanna tell me your supplier's name? We can take him down.”
“Diego,” said Klaus. “I find your poetic justice obsession deeply, deeply attractive. But I can’t tell you that. He’d kill me if he finds out I’m sleeping with a cop.”
“You’re not sleeping with me,” Diego pointed out.
Klaus smiled coquettishly and took a long slurp of coffee. “Who says I was talking about you?”
Diego had just lifted a to clap him around the head when the waitress re-appeared with their food. She glanced between them with a worried expression, and patted Klaus gently on the back as she placed a huge plate of waffles in front of him, festooned with strawberries and whipped cream “There you go, honey.”
“She gave me an extra waffle,” Klaus pointed out, beaming after her as she walked away. “I think I’m her favourite.”
“Yeah well,” Diego shrugged, taking a mouthful of his doughnut. “She doesn’t have to put up with all your weird ass shit.”
Klaus ignored him, his eyes lighting up as he picked up his knife and fork. He tucked into the waffles with fervour, all his attention on the plate in front of him.
Diego let him eat in peace for a few minutes. “So how long were you working in that club?” he asked, taking a sip of coffee.
Klaus stopped chewing and frowned at him. The effect slightly lessened by the strawberry sauce clinging to his lips. He wiped his mouth on the back of his hand. “Why do I feel like I’m being interviewed, Diego?”
“Hang on,” Diego grumbled, leaning in to steal the man’s last strawberry. “I’m just trying to get to know you here.”
“No, you’re not,” Klaus said, watching with narrowed eyes as Diego popped the fruit into his mouth. “You’re trying to decide if I’m good enough for you.”
“That’s not true,” Diego said.
“Well, spoiler alert,” Klaus said brightly, ignoring his denial. “I’m not. I’m an ex-addict. I like pink cocktails and German house music and I dance in trashy clubs for money. Oh, and sometimes I see people who aren’t really there.”
Diego spluttered on the last of his coffee as Klaus placed a hand on his thigh, several inches too high up to be appropriate in public.
“But, sweetie,” the man continued. “Don’t kid yourself. You don’t care. You still want me.”
Diego watched him, open mouthed, unable to protest. His annoyance was rapidly turning into arousal.
“Oh, and you have whipped cream on your fingers,” Klaus continued in the same breezy tone. He reached over and fastened his hand around Diego’s wrist, before sucking one finger into his mouth. He moaned around it, not breaking eye contact. “Mm, tastes good.”
“Fucking hell,” Diego stood up abruptly. He pulled his finger from Klaus’s mouth with a vulgar popping noise and scrabbled in his jeans for a couple of ten dollar bills to throw onto the table. “Get up. We’re leaving.”