Dieter watched the crowd flow around him in the largest ballroom in the German Embassy. There were too few exits, too many people, and too many potentially un-vetted catering staff. But after nearly a decade spent among the ambassadorial elites in London, none of that was supposed to be Dieter’s problem any longer. The invitees who circulated in the room held champagne flutes in soft hands and sparkled with jewelry and custom cufflinks. They were striking, and many of them were young and beautiful, and all of them were convinced the world was theirs for the taking.
But Dieter’s eye was drawn far too often to the same figure: a tall man in late middle age with close-cropped chestnut hair, whose black tuxedo and smart black tie stood out only if you knew the signs of good bespoke tailoring. Lord Adrian Montrose had been a thorn in his side when they had been younger. They had run into each other all over Europe, in the Gulf states, and even behind the theoretically impenetrable Iron Curtain. But the Berlin Wall had long since fallen, and Dieter was retiring, setting down the burdens he had carried for so many years.
Dieter’s second in command, Liesel, stepped up beside him and tapped his left wrist lightly to get his attention. She barely came up to his shoulder, and the staff lived in fear of her wrath.
“Drink your champagne,” she said, and her voice was perfectly British in its cultured vowels with no hint of the strong Bavarian accent she had had when she first started working for him more than twenty years ago. “You will make the staff worry. It’s a party.” She paused, and followed his gaze to Lord Adrian’s reflection in one of the tall, indefensible windows. “Hell,” she said, sounding tired. She sighed. “It’s your party, sir. That means you’ve got at least another hour before you can sneak out.”
Dieter took a sip of his champagne to cover his grimace. He preferred a good lager, or even a decent Hefeweizen, but the embassy knew the social indicators that their English hosts and guests understood to be formal, and beer was not one of them.
“I know,” Liesel said. “You’d rather it were beer. Or even vodka, god help us all.”
Dieter smiled at her. Of all his staff, Liesel was the one he would miss the most: she was the only one left who had been with him before the Embassy. They had both worked for the West German military intelligence, and had both been seconded to NATO more often than not in an attempt to stop the Cold War from ending the world in a looming cloud and a flash of light. Liesel had first met Adrian — Lord Adrian, Dieter reminded himself — when they were much younger, and he had been a private consultant, a kind of white-hat thief who broke into embassies and palaces to prove it could be done. The three of them had once done competitive shots of vodka with a cadre of Soviet agents in Yugoslavia under rather trying circumstances. It had been vodka shots or gunshots, and Liesel had helped carry the rest of Dieter’s team back to the safe house, seemingly immune to their fellows’ incipient alcohol poisoning.
“This is fine,” he said, and Liesel scoffed.
“It’s Veuve Clicquot,” she said quellingly. “It had better be more than fine.”
Across the room, reflected in one of the tall mirrors that flanked the indefensible window panes, Lord Adrian threw his head back in a laugh. His neck was as long as ever, his gestures as infectious, and Dieter forced himself to look away, to consider the flow of the crowd, to guess who would dare approach him next.
He hadn’t much been feared in his job at the Embassy: something about not having a pistol to threaten people with, Dieter supposed, though he had made a point of still being able to meet gold badge Schützenschnur standards with his P8, maintaining his fitness and shooting skills despite English gun laws. Some diplomats went soft, treated their posting in a friendly country as a kind of sinecure. Dieter had kept his punishing training schedule even as his hair went steel grey and his eyesight began to falter. In doing so, he had gained the respect of some members of Her Majesty’s military who had a been put off by Dieter’s predecessor, a short, balding man who had let himself go as soon as the Berlin Wall had begun to come down. Given the size of the crowd who had turned out to wish him well tonight, it appeared that it had been a wise decision to appoint him in the end. Even now his speech was still rather more abrupt and direct than the British norm, but that had turned into an expected quirk over the years.
“I’ll start sending people your way,” Liesel said, interrupting Dieter’s train of thought. “You really do have to stay at least an hour,” she added in an undertone, and she sounded almost compassionate. She probably did understand, Dieter thought, and took another sip of his champagne. It sparkled unpleasantly across the top of his mouth, and he held a straight face, unwilling to offend anyone who might be watching.
“Thank you, Liesel,” he replied.
The first member of his staff to approach him was Zofia. Her tuxedo was impeccably cut, and her wife’s floating pastel dress and small crystal earrings were more tasteful than most Dieter had seen this evening.
“Ambassador,” Zofia said, looking him nearly straight in the eye for almost the first time.
“Zofie,” she said, whispering in fast-paced Sächsisch. “You didn’t say –” she cut herself off. “I’m so sorry,” she said to Dieter, and held out a hand for a surprisingly robust handshake. Her palm had unexpected calluses. “I’m being rude.”
Zofia smiled at her, her expression softer than she ever looked on the job.
“Ambassador,” she said again. “This is my wife, Angelika.” She shot the blonde woman a small smile. “I’m afraid she’s a bit of a military buff,” she confessed.
“Please, I’m a military historian,” Angelika corrected. Her gaze was sharp and direct, a welcome contrast to the flowing chiffon waterfall of her skirts. “I focus on tank warfare in World War II, especially the Panzer divisions.”
Dieter kept his face impassive through long years of practice. Bless Liesel, he thought. He loved tank warfare, had grown up on his father’s war stories. This conversation would make the time pass much more swiftly.
“Would you mind terribly if she kept you company for a bit?” Zofia asked. “I’ve just been called away to a situation.” She paused. “Thank you, sir,” she added. “It’s been an honor working for you, if I don’t get the chance to say so later.”
“Yes, of course,” Dieter replied, and Zofia stepped away with alacrity.
She was undoubtedly taking care of a security breach of some kind, stepping up as Dieter’s successor for the rather less diplomatically obvious tasks he had been assigned when he was first sent to London. Dieter wondered if Angelika knew her wife was a German spy. Looking at her, he rather thought she did.
“I don’t believe you’d be willing to share a story about any of those NATO meritorious service medals?” Angelika asked. She sounded almost wistful. “You don’t see many in London these days, especially not from Yugoslavia.”
Dieter took a breath. The Yugoslavian mission had gone badly awry, and his team had lost a member: it was one of the awards he resented most, and some of that must have shown on his face.
“I rather thought not,” Angelika said, relieving him of the need to turn her down. “In any case, Zofie tells me you like tanks, and has told me not to be tiresome, so let’s talk about something more mutually appealing.”
In the far corner, Lord Adrian took another glass of champagne from a server and Dieter stifled a small smile as he saw the man expertly pour some of it into a decorative plant. Several other members of Dieter’s staff circulated past, shaking his hand and making polite, if brief conversation. When she came over to pay her respects the British Prime Minister made tiresome and entirely vapid conversation, steering away from current events with the ease of long practice and desperate desire to avoid the constraints of reality. Dieter found himself glad that managing her would no longer be his job.
Lord Adrian circulated with the British elite, and mostly kept to the far side of the room, where he was taller than most of the men and nearly all of the women, and therefore disconcertingly easy to keep track of. Dieter tried to ration himself to one glance in a reflection every five minutes, and no lingering while he scanned the room as a whole. The self-rationing was a tiresome, familiar process, and he found himself suddenly, intensely glad he was retiring.
Staff from several nations’ embassies stepped forward with toasts and congratulations, sincere or not. Dieter made the appropriate comments, and through it all, Angelika muttered small comments about the people who were approaching or leaving, incisive and observant. When they had a chance, she offered up facts about German and Soviet tank manufacture that even Dieter’s father, a tank mechanic, had not shared with him.
Finally Zofia returned with Liesel. Dieter looked at his watch, which he usually did not allow himself to do at such events, and found that nearly two hours had passed. The party would continue at least another two, and some of the Brits would be poured into taxis at the end of it, but he was free to go.
“Thank you all,” he said to the assembled women. “This was a surprisingly pleasant evening.”
And he turned and strode away without another word.
“Well,” he heard Zofia say. “That’s high praise. He must have loved you, Angelika.”
But he was already collecting his overcoat and umbrella, and then he was out the door and on his way to his flat, which was within sensible walking distance.
Thank god that event is over, he thought, and tried not to wonder too much what the unspooling hours and days of the near future might bring.
* * *
Some time later, Dieter was resenting Liesel’s aide, Hans, for putting him in brand new cufflinks, because they were far too tiny and stiff to manipulate one-handed.
Then the bedroom door creaked. Dieter reached for his gun instinctively at the unexpected noise. He had never broken himself of the habit, despite having worked unarmed for so long. That loss, he thought, might be one he never adjusted to, unlike so many others.
He wouldn’t have needed a gun, though — it was Adrian in the doorway, and the man had never seemed to be put off by being held at gunpoint, or at least had brazened it out astonishing well for someone who couldn’t shoot worth a damn.
“You’re retired” Adrian said, eschewing traditional greetings. His accent was as top-shelf posh as it had ever been, but his tone was quiet, almost a question.
He stood just inside the door of the bedroom, the hall laid out dark behind him, and looked almost unearthly beautiful even in the stark lighting of the single bulb in Dieter’s bedside lamp. His auburn hair shone in the light, redder than it had used to be. He had been slimmer a decade or two ago, Dieter recalled: the tailoring of his suit couldn’t conceal the beginning of a stomach, the heavier cast of his arms.
“I am,” Dieter agreed. He wasn’t sure what to do with his hands, so he continued plucking ineffectually at the stubborn cufflink on his left wrist.
“Let me,” Adrian said, and stepped into the room.
There was a kind of humming tension in the air as Dieter held his wrist up, palm facing the ceiling with his fingers curled inward. It was a peaceful gesture, and those had been few enough between them, especially at first. Dieter wondered if Adrian felt the strangeness of the mood too.
He couldn’t help a sharp sharp breath when Adrian’s fingers brushed the soft inside of his wrist.
“Just let me,” Adrian said again, an acknowledgment of sorts. His fingers had always been nimble, a joy to watch. It was nearly surreal to see them unfastening the tiny cufflink, slipping it out of the french cuff, dropping it on the table. When Adrian paused, Dieter offered up his other wrist, a silent question, tacit permission.
“Please,” Dieter said. His voice had gone raspy.
“I’ve got you,” Adrian said. His voice had gone more baritone than tenor over the years, but was still music to Dieter’s ears.
When Adrian dropped the second cufflink, Dieter caught his hands and laced their fingers together so Adrian couldn’t step away.
“Are you also retired?” he asked.
Adrian’s security consulting work had never been truly illegal, but it had never been entirely above-board. That grey area, and the contacts he had charmed had been one among many obstacles, and Dieter had hoped they might both be willing to put things behind them now, both start fresh.
But there had never been a formal arrangement between them. They had never dared speak of the future in the early days. Dieter had believed that the risk of blackmail, of kompromat, and even of danger to a partner had been too high. Dieter’s peers had assumed he was celibate because of his dedication to the job, that he turned down female spies and bought women out of some kind of chaste devotion to cause and country.
None had ever guessed that he might be someone who would benefit from the more progressive policies the military implemented at long last. No one but Liesel, and later Zofia, so much as speculated that he might have more reason than most to be dedicated to his job, to the freedoms and so-called sexual license of the West.
Later, after the Wall had fallen, it had been habit for Dieter to be alone. And then there had been Adrian’s husband between them. Christopher had been lovely and dedicated, solid and reliable, and had provided a kind of ballast to Adrian’s flights of fancy that had been good for him, even as Dieter resented his presence in Adrian’s life. He had only passed away two years ago.
“I am,” Adrian said. His smile was slightly crooked, and there was a faint hint of silver at the base of his right temple, as if he had let the hairdresser go too long between appointments.
“Good,” Dieter said, and paused, uncertain of his next step.
“For god’s sake,” Adrian said. “We’ve waited long enough, haven’t we?” And he leaned in and kissed Dieter, leaping heedlessly into unknown waters.
He always had been the more headstrong, Dieter had time to think, and then there was nothing but the press of Adrian’s fingers against his hands, the kiss turning heated and impulsive between them. Dieter pulled him closer, wrenching his hands free so he could place his palms on the curve of Adrian’s back. He had very faint love handles, now, and Dieter ran his hands up and down the plane of Adrian’s spine, slipping his hands under the tuxedo jacket and making a muffled, pleased sound at the warmth of Adrian’s skin through the thinner fabric above his cummerbund.
Then Adrian pulled back.
“Wait,” he said, and Dieter froze in place, unable to make himself let go. “This isn’t just once,” Adrian continued. His voice sounded certain, but he had always been better at faking confidence than Dieter. His expression softened into uncertainty as his voice rose in a question. “Right?”
“No,” Dieter agreed. “Not just once.”
Adrian buried his face in Dieter’s neck, exhaling shakily, and Dieter pulled him close.
“Thank god,” Adrian said, voice almost too soft to be heard.
“You won’t get rid of me that easily,” Dieter told him. He unwound one hand from under Adrian’s jacket to run along his hairline as if to brush the short hair out of Adrian’s face. He had never had the chance to smooth back Adrian’s hair when it was shoulder-length and untamed, save when the man had been ill. Another chance lost. He closed his eyes, and they stood there in silence for a long moment.
“Christopher would be laughing at us, you know,” Adrian said.
Dieter froze at the mention of Adrian’s late husband.
“Oh, no,” Adrian said, straightening up to look Dieter in the eye. “He knew this would happen before I did, I think,” he said. “He made me promise not to let you get away again, before he passed.” He smiled, as if the memory were a fond one.
Dieter just shook his head.
“We weren’t nearly so subtle as we thought, you know,” Adrian said. He dug into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. “Liesel even made me promise to use these instead of breaking in.”
Dieter laughed despite himself.
“She would,” he said. He found he wasn’t surprised at all.
“Now,” Adrian said, and slipped the key back in his pocket. “As stunning as you looked in that suit all evening, I’ve had decades to imagine stripping you out of it.”
Dieter smiled. He found he was content to let Adrian take the lead.
“You’ve already made a start with the damned cufflinks,” he said, and held his hands out to the sides. “What next?”
Adrian stared at him, visibly surprised, then shook his head.
“The suspenders,” he said. “I hate you a little bit for still being fit enough to skip a cummerbund with that kind of double-breasted jacket.” His hands floated to his waist below his single-breasted jacket. He looked almost self-conscious for a moment. “Some of us aren’t so lucky.”
Dieter shrugged, unsure what to say, and Adrian just stepped forward and pulled the suspenders off his shoulders, unclipping them with rather more contact than was strictly necessary. He unbuttoned Dieter’s starched white shirt, next, putting the jet studs next to the cufflinks with small, muted clicks. But when he moved to pull the shirt off Dieter’s shoulders, Dieter moved to stop him.
“You too,” he insisted. Perhaps someday he would be comfortable nude in the presence of someone fully dressed; perhaps not. But he had waited years for this moment, and he wanted to see Adrian entirely.
Adrian quirked a smile, and leaned in for a kiss.
“No excuses,” Dieter said, stopping him with a finger to his lips. “I know that look. You’ve nothing to hide, Adrian.”
“Perhaps I’m armed,” Adrian said, voice light.
“Unlikely,” Dieter replied. “Especially as you must know I keep at least one gun in the house, and you hate them. Besides, a weapon would ruin the line of your suit.”
Adrian’s face fell exaggeratedly. Then he appeared to hear all of what Dieter had said.
“You noticed my tailoring,” he said. He sounded delighted. It was true enough that a decade ago Dieter had been blind to such things.
“Yes,” Dieter agreed. “And I’ve also noticed that you’re still wearing all of it.”
Adrian shook his head, but slipped the jacket off his shoulders, hanging it over Dieter’s straight-backed wooden desk chair. His cufflinks and studs were a dark topaz, almost certainly the same stones he had liberated from a warlord’s stolen cache in the middle east in the early 1980s, or perhaps it had been the late 1970s.
He slipped them out of their places with easy, deft movements, placing them in a small pile beside Dieter’s own, discrete but close enough to be knocked together by a careless hand. His cummerbund came off with a few swift tugs, and Dieter pulled the shirt off himself, running his hands along Adrian’s long, pale arms as they were revealed, untucking it from the waist of the impeccably-sewn trousers.
“Better,” Dieter allowed. He had already removed his shoes, and knelt to unlace Adrian’s, moving by impulse rather than plan. Adrian gasped above him, and one hand settled on top of Dieter’s head, carding restlessly through his short grey hair.
“I miss your longer hair,” Adrian said, and his voice was studiously light. “Perhaps you could grow it out again.”
Dieter slipped Adrian’s right foot out of the shoe, peeled off his sock, tucked the sock in the shoe, and placed the two items next to the wall. He repeated the process meticulously, and Adrian looked down.
“I shouldn’t be surprised you’ve put them at ninety degrees to the wall, should I?” He asked, and pulled Dieter to his feet. “Come back up here. You look much too good on your knees for me, and if I ruin this suit, I’ll make you take it to the dry cleaners for me.”
Dieter allowed himself to be moved, then leaned in for a kiss, because it seemed the only thing that would shut Adrian up.
“Hm—“ Adrian started, and Dieter kissed him into silence, relishing the opportunity. At the same time he untucked Adrian’s white cotton undershirt and unbuttoned his trousers, pushing them gently down until Adrian had to pull away to step out of them.
Adrian folded his trousers over the back of the chair. In a swift gesture, he shucked off his underclothes at the same time, then stood before Dieter nude and apparently unashamed.
“Now it’s your turn,” Adrian said, and quirked a softer smile, one Dieter had only seen directed at him before when Adrian was sick or injured, in particular that one frightening time in Yugoslavia.
“Yes,” Dieter said. His trousers were easy enough to drape over the chair back; his underclothes wouldn’t suffer from being left on the floor this once. When he straightened back up, Adrian was staring at him with an unreadable expression on his face, something that might have been surprise. Dieter retreated into his implacable expression, even knowing that Adrian would recognize it for the mask it was.
“No,” Adrian said, and took his hand, drawing him to the bed, where the covers were already turned halfway back at a 45-degree angle. “It’s not — I just hadn’t seen those scars before. My god —“ he reached out and touched the jagged line of a knife-scar from an operation in Kazakhstan that had gone badly awry. Dieter had been sent in alone, and had come out delirious from blood poisoning. The wound had never healed properly, but it was easily enough concealed, skating along his lower ribs.
“Kazakhstan,” Dieter said, when Adrian touched it gently. “It’s rather numb there.”
“You idiot,” Adrian said. “You always did have to save the world. You might have died.”
That was more true than he knew, but Dieter didn’t want to talk about it now.
Adrian sat on the mattress and pulled Dieter down beside him. Then he scooted over kicked the covers down as if he were a child, making space for the both of them.
“Let me see,” Adrian said, and bent down to kiss the scar. His lips were shockingly hot on one side of it, the pressure muted on the other where the nerves had never quite grown back. Dieter felt oddly self-conscious, and somewhat detached. That wouldn’t do.
“Come here,” he said, and pulled Adrian up for another kiss. They were of much the same height, too long-legged not to risk hanging off the end of the mattress, and Dieter found he didn’t care. “There’s time for that later,” Dieter said. “I thought you said we’d wasted enough time.”
Adrian grinned, the expression lighting up his features like the sun dawning from behind a cloud.
“Well,” he said. “If you insist.”
And he ducked down and sucked the head of Dieter’s cock into his mouth.
Dieter gasped in surprise. He had been half-hard, vaguely aroused without being impatient, but he had fantasized about this too often for it not to have immediate impact. He gripped his hands into fists on the mattress beside him, refusing to grab though he sorely wanted to feel Adrian’s hair beneath his fingers.
Adrian pulled back with a long, lingering lick up the underside of Dieter’s erection, and pulled the foreskin back with a careful hand to place a wet kiss at the tip, his red tongue darting out obscenely.
“You can touch,” he said. “Don’t strangle me, but I like a bit of direction.” And he bent back down again, as if that were a perfectly normal thing to say. Perhaps it was: Dieter’s sexual experience had not exactly been extensive, or particularly communicative.
Adrian closed his eyes, sucking cock like he was worshipping at a pagan altar. He made the occasional little humming noise, and seeing him, hearing him, Dieter felt like he was a teenager again, on-edge as he hadn’t been in years, since — well, he thought, this was nothing like being drugged in Belgrade had been. For one thing, he didn’t have to resist this time. He lifted a slow hand, rested it gently at the side of Adrian’s jaw to feel the muscles working there. Adrian hummed, and sucked harder and Dieter’s hips jerked.
“Sorry,” he said, embarrassed to have been so out of control.
Adrian surprised him by reaching out and pulling his hips up again, clear invitation to continue. Dieter resisted, and Adrian pulled away again. His hair was still impeccable, and Dieter fought the urge to run his hands through it just for the sake of mussing it.
“You can move,” Adrian said. “I’ll pinch you if I object, but you’re really not going to choke me.” He paused, and something seemed to occur to him as he looked at Dieter, more observant than he had ever had any right to be. “You’re not going to do it wrong,” he said. “Or maybe you will, and I’ll tell you. We have ages to get it right.” He paused. “You did say it wasn’t just this once.”
Dieter nodded, and let himself lift his other hand to run through Adrian’s hair.
“All right,” he agreed. “But not too long.” He could feel himself beginning to flush. “It — I don’t want to —“
“Just tell me when to back off,” he said, and breathed out over Dieter’s straining cock before taking it back into his mouth. This time he didn’t wrap his hand around the base, but encouraged Dieter to thrust up, until his nose brushed Dieter’s stomach. When Adrian pulled back, his lips stretched wide around Dieter’s cock were the hottest thing Dieter had ever seen. Then Adrian leaned in again, resting one hand on the plane of Dieter’s stomach, tracing his thumb along the distinct cut of his hip.
Adrian hummed, the sound and vibration more intense than Dieter would have believed. And then he swallowed. Dieter grabbed at his short hair and bit back a yell as his hips canted up, trying to get more, somehow.
“Holy Mother of God,” he gasped, as Adrian pulled back slightly for breath. “Do that again.”
Adrian lowered himself down again, and Dieter fucked his mouth for what felt like forever, and like no time at all, until he felt the edge of climax approaching.
“Enough,” he bit out. “Please, oh —“
Adrian pulled back. His lips were flushed and slightly puffy, and his hair was a disaster. Dieter thought he looked better than he had ever looked before, mussed and private and smiling just for the two of them.
“God,” Adrian said. “You’ve no idea —“
He was touching himself, Dieter saw, light, feathering touches that seemed to tease more than anything else.
“Let me,” Dieter asked, and Adrian crawled up to straddle him. Dieter gasped when Adrian took both of their cocks in one hand. The first stroke nearly undid them both, and Dieter pulled Adrian into a fierce kiss with one hand.
“Soon,” he said, and it was a warning and a question all at once. Adrian nodded, and kissed him again, hand moving between their bodies, a steady rhythm slicked by spit. It was almost but not quite too much.
“Please,” Adrian said, and buried his face in Dieter’s shoulder as Dieter half-sat up to meet him. “Your hand —“
Adrian was almost shaking above him, and Dieter licked his own hand before he reached down between them to take over. Adrian’s cock was slimmer than his own, and circumcised, and it took barely two strokes of Dieter’s hand for Adrian to bite down on his shoulder and come with an only partly-muffled yell. Dieter released Adrian’s cock when he started to whine, oversensitive, and kept working himself, hand deliciously slick with Adrian’s come.
“Oh god,” Adrian said, a long moment later, when he opened his eyes. “You’re — with my come.” He buried his face in Dieter’s shoulder again. “That’s so hot,” he said, and wound his hand in between them so his fingertips brushed the head of Dieter’s cock on each stroke, teasing points of contact. “Dieter,” he said, and his breath was hot, his weight grounding and real, unmistakably present. “Please.”
Dieter came with an almost inaudible groan, and Adrian pulled his hand away only when Dieter began to squirm away from the touch. They fell back against the bed, and Dieter could feel Adrian’s breath slowing, evening out above him.
Adrian stood a moment later, solid and pale, and Dieter noticed that his pubic hair was going grey, wasn’t dyed to match, and was amused at the wandering path his own thoughts were taking.
“I’ll be right back,” Adrian said, and strode off confidently into the dark. A single door creaked as it opened, water ran, and Adrian returned a moment later with a warm washcloth.
“And no,” Adrian said. “I haven’t broken in here before to get the lay of the land.”
Dieter hummed, stretching up into Adrian’s gentle touch. He hadn’t wondered, though he supposed he would have in time.
“Your floor plans are available quite easily if you know the right person, is all,” Adrian said, and kissed him lingeringly. “I’ll just put this back.”
That was rather more alarming than Dieter thought he had intended it to be. When Adrian returned, he hovered by the bedside for a moment, looking almost uncertain.
Dieter, who was feeling a bit less hazy after considering the ramifications of embassy housing floor plans being available to someone with Adrian’s connections, just tapped the mattress next to him in invitation. He didn’t want to let Adrian leave, to wonder in the morning if this had happened or not.
“Do you kick?” He asked. “Because I’ll kick you back, fair warning.”
Adrian smiled, and climbed back into bed. He seemed uncertain how to arrange himself, and Dieter finally gave up and pulled Adrian half-atop his torso, arm across Dieter’s side, their legs entangled.
“I’ll squish you,” Adrian protested, trying to pull away. He wasn’t light, but Dieter liked the pressure, the reminder that he hadn’t imagined any of this.
“I think I can decide that,” Dieter replied, and petted Adrian’s hair. “Maybe you should grow your hair back out,” he mused, feathering the strands through his fingers.
“Maybe,” Adrian agreed. He was already falling asleep. He had always been able to sleep nearly anywhere, Dieter remembered.
“Sleep well,” he said, quietly, but Adrian was already nearly unconscious on top of him.
Dieter reached over to turn out the bedside lamp, then pulled the covers up part way over the two of them with a little bit of ingenuity. He wanted to stay awake, but Adrian’s breathing was soporific, and he drifted off almost before he was aware of it.