If you're still reading, I suppose you're going to stay with me until the bitter end.
Have you realised that you've not heard much about the English side of this tale during all this stuff in Germany? Barry, of course, has submerged himself in his studies as has Eliza. Molloy and Dudding have been getting to know each other as only new lovers can -- all off-stage, of course. Now, however, the two parts of the story converge again.
Please let me know what you think of FLIGHT at email@example.com. I would really like to hear your comments. If you really like my writing, you might like DARK PRINCE in the scifi folder.
It was late afternoon when Barry Alexander and Elizabeth returned to the house in Mayfair. He slid his key into the door lock.
"Roger and Mrs. Murray will be tapping their feet and the tea service will be waiting in the drawing room for us," Elizabeth giggled.
He smiled at the image of domestic tranquillity an upper-class student lived in, English style -- even if he wouldn't officially be a student for another week.
What he really needed was to have Robbie hold him in his arms again. His smile quickly turned to a frown as he pushed the door open and stepped back to allow Elizabeth to enter.
It'd been so long. Almost three weeks now. Tomorrow was Saturday, the first day of the last week of September. It seemed like forever, though. He was going to have to get with that Lord Molloy again and pin the bastard down on Robbie's doings over there in Germany. He wanted to know when Robbie was going to be home.
It was downright dumb that he had a lover whom he'd not seen in three weeks -- and didn't even know what the man was doing. "Government business" was proving to be too easy a hiding place for anything and everything. It covered way too much that Barry didn't know about. He wanted specifics.
As he stepped into the hallway, he accepted he wanted just to hear about Robbie. He wanted to feel his presence, even if it was just his imagining it.
He heard a familiar voice from the study and stopped. Max Molloy was in the house? That made no sense. His Lordship hadn't been to the Petersholme house since Barry had put him and Alan Dudding together, since the two of them began seeing each other.
Barry dropped the text books he and Elizabeth had bought on the bench and turned to her. He helped her out of her coat and hung it on the coat tree beside the bench. His curiosity flared brightly as he stepped towards the study. What in the hell was Lord Molloy doing here? And why had Roger let him set up in Robbie's study?
"Shortly, Alan, shortly," Molloy was saying into the telephone receiver. "Bloody hell if I know where that damned Yank is. I told you to send Scotland Yard or one of your lads from the Navy over to the university and fetch him -- an hour, Alan -- no more. He's got to get in soon. We'll get there."
Across the room by the windows, Roger seemed quite calm as he was pouring Lord Molloy another cup of tea. His Lordship hung up the telephone. "What's going on?" Barry asked from the open doorway. Elizabeth peeked around his shoulder.
Lord Molloy pivoted to face the American. Roger smiled as he placed a lump of sugar in a cup and poured tea over it. "Barry Alexander!" Molloy cried. "You're finally home -- and about time too."
"Why?" Elizabeth demanded quietly.
"I've been here an hour, waiting on him. He really should rush home from his little forays like a well-bred student, you know?"
Barry felt himself becoming irritated by the man from the Foreign Office and fought to resist it. Max Molloy had potential information about Robbie. Barry didn't want to irritate him until he knew for certain.
"Lord Molloy," Elizabeth said quietly. "My cousin has been gone nearly three weeks now and we..." She glanced over at Barry. "His family has no idea where he is and what he's doing. I think you should be forthcoming."
At that moment, Roger began to pour a cup for the two newcomers. Barry watched in silence until the older man looked towards him questioningly. He shook his head, and Roger retreated back to the door.
"Max, why are you here?" Barry asked. "And what the hell is happening?"
"All in good time, old boy." The nobleman smiled. "We shall need to be off shortly." He looked to Elizabeth. "I'm afraid that I can only take young Mr. Alexander with me." He turned back to Barry. "You'll need to pack for two or three days, lad."
"I'm not going anywhere until you fill me in." Out of the corner of his eye, Barry saw Roger nod from the open doorway. The old boy wanted information too then -- for him and Gran. That meant that his Lordship had merely barged into Robbie's home earlier and took over. His usual wont. He hated to think of how Elizabeth and Miss Alice would react if they weren't given some information.
Molloy took the cup of tea Roger had poured and sipped at it while gazing at Barry. "Very well," he sighed. "We are on our way to pick Petersholme up. Mr. Dudding thought you might like to join us."
Barry stared at him. "Where is he?" he asked in a whisper.
"Warsaw. In Poland."
"What?" the American demanded. There'd been nothing mentioned about Poland when Robbie was leaving. And nothing the past three weeks. Elizabeth simply stared at Molloy in surprise.
"You'll need warm clothes, Barry. There's a nip in the air that far north and inland this time of year."
"I'll pack you some things, sir," Roger told Barry and disappeared into the hallway, pulling the doors closed behind him.
"I can't go into very much, you understand," Molloy told them, his attention on the American.
Barry drained his tea and sat the cup down. "Why the hell not?"
Max held up his finger. "Big ears and loose tongues, old lad."
"Did someone declare war while we were picking up books this afternoon?"
"No," Molloy chuckled. "Though, we're really quite close to that -- much closer than you realise."
"Well, Roger and my grandmother wouldn't talk, Molloy. They're as English as the King and Queen. And so is Elizabeth."
"Still, old boy ... Let's just say that things are sticky then -- and growing stickier."
"So when do you talk to me?" Barry groaned. "When do I find out ... Jesus! There's so much I don't know!"
"In the car, on our way to the aerodrome, lad. The driver is naval intelligence. Safe enough, I should think."
"But Robbie's okay?" Elizabeth asked softly. Molloy nodded and Barry forced himself to be satisfied with that -- for the moment.
"Aerodrome?" Barry whispered, his eyes wide as he stared at Max Molloy.
* * *
I let myself into Barry's hotel room and shut the door quietly. And smiled.
He lay across the bed, nude -- the covers pushed to the bottom of the mattress. His legs were spread and one knee was bent, carrying that foot back under his other knee. I immediately realised how fetching his naked bottom looked. It was a beacon calling to me. One I'd not seen in far too long.
How long had it been since I had last seen him? It seemed it had been forever. Was it only three weeks? So much had happened, and I didn't even know how to begin to tell this man I loved about it.
I crossed the room and touched his nearest leg with my fingertip. I smiled again at the goosepimples that spread out from my butterfly touch. My fingertip moved up his thigh and reached his nearest arsecheek. He moaned.
My exploration of Barry Alexander's naked body was not sexual. I was unaroused and I was not attempting to arouse him. Instead, I was awash in the feel of him again. Of his physical reality and the emotional reality that brought with it. I loved him now as I had then, I accepted that now. There was no doubt at all. I was in love with him every bit as much as I had thought I was those last days whilst we were in Northamptonshire.
The three weeks that had separated us dissipated as I touched him. They had almost become unreal in the moments it took my fingertip to travel along his leg to his buttocks. They had disappeared by the time my fingertips reached his spine. It was again the morning after we'd made love.
He was rising, turning, pushing himself to his knees, and grabbing hold of me -- all at the same time, a kaleidoscope of action. His hands encircled me, climbing my back and pulling me against him as his lips touched mine. "Robbie!" he breathed as he pressed against me. My mouth opened and his tongue swept victoriously into it to claim it as his own.
I pushed him away gently and smiled as he studied me, his brow arching in question. "You need to dress, love. There are two lads I want you to meet."
His face became a frown. "Meet people? Hell, no, Robert, Baron Petersholme! You're going to make slow love to me. Then, you're going to tell me what the hell you've been doing these past three weeks that nobody was willing to tell me about. Then, you're going to make love to me again, only slower."
He studied my face then, searching it. I could feel the suspicion growing to fill the room. "Lads?" he asked finally.
"Lads -- as in young men." I had to admit I was enjoying his suspicion and the anxiety it was spawning. "One of them is, at any rate."
"Barry, you must understand that I love you very much. More than I can ever say. I want you to be part of my life always. But much has happened in the past few days. Much that affected my life -- and yours too, if you continue to share it with me."
"Oh, boy!" He sat back on the bed, cross-legged now, his eyes still watching me closely. "This had better be good to fuck up perfectly good love-making."
"Get dressed please."
"Not until I know what I'm walking into past that door. You owe me that much, Robert Adshead."
"Barry, Molloy and Alan want to debrief me -- whatever that means. I told them I needed to see you first and get you with Wilhelm and Dagold." I sighed. "Start getting dressed and I'll explain things while you do."
"Wilhelm and Dagold?" He was still watching me closely as he slid off the bed. "That sounds like a Gilbert and Sullivan take off of something from Richard Wagner. What's going on, Robbie?"
"I'm going to have guests when we return to England -- permanent guests."
"We're going to have guests, you mean. I'm in love with you in case you haven't noticed -- and nobody showing up on our doorstep is going to run me away from your side." He reached his valise and opened it. "Why are we going to have guests?"
"Von Kys is dead, he asked me to take care of his boy -- as I would my own."
"Boy? As in very little boy?" he demanded, turning back to face me, a pair of underpants in his hand. I nodded. "Oh, boy!" he groaned.
"Someone also needs to look after Janus' lover -- he's asking for asylum."
"Lover?" Barry groaned. I nodded again. "As in big boy -- like you and me?" Again I nodded. He pulled on his pants and took a pair of trousers from its hanger. "Sweet Jesus! Now there's another one."
"Another what?" I asked as he pulled on the trousers.
"Never mind. Have you touched this boy yet?"
"Barry, only the night before last, this lad learnt his brother had just been executed and he watched his lover die. He himself was nearly murdered and would have been if I hadn't shot the woman holding the gun to his head. I seriously doubt he has had a sexual thought in the past thirty-six hours."
Barry groaned and opened a shirt for himself. "When you open a can of worms, they sure are lively, aren't they, honey?"
I wasn't sure I fully understood the expression but thought it best that I merely let it pass us both by. I could see my lad was having a bit of difficulty assimilating my news. I watched as he pulled on the shirt and began to button it.
"Let me this straight -- we're going to raise this kid -- how old is he?" He sat on the bed and began to pull on socks.
"Five years old."
"Oh great! Now, I'm going to be baby-sitting in addition to going to classes."
"We'll find him a governess, most likely. Perhaps a tutor first, though."
"Tutor? Why? He's just a little kid, he hasn't had time to start failing courses."
"He doesn't speak English."
"Jesus H. Christ!" He looked up from tying his shoes, his eyes on mine. "And this big boy you brought along doesn't speak it either, does he?"
"I don't think so -- why?"
"They speak German, don't they?"
"Well, that is where they grew up."
"Why in the hell did I have to take French in high school? We even had German offered." He tied his last shoe, stood up, and came to stand in front of me. "You tell this boy he's got to make his passes at you in English. That way I'll know when to beat him up for trying to trespass."
He slipped past me and walked to the door before turning back to face me. "So, come on, Robbie, I want to go meet my new son."
As I crossed the room, I decided it best not to mention Dagold Jorsten again for the moment. Barry would meet him soon enough.
"Willi," I called as we entered the anteroom of the suite where I had left my young ward earlier.
The lad came bounding out from the bedroom, his flaxen hair bouncing. He spotted Barry half-way into the room and ground to a halt. "Who is he?" he demanded in German.
"He is my very best friend after you, lad." I squatted to face him and lowered my voice conspiratorially, although I knew Barry Alexander spoke not one word of German. "He is American and knows the very greatest Indian chiefs there."
Young Willi's eyes widened as he stared at Barry. Shyly, he advanced a step and held out his hand. "Ich bin der Graf von Kys, ich heiße Wilhelm."
I turned and glanced up to Barry. "He says his name is Wilhelm."
"I have a feeling I'm not getting a word-for-word translation here," Barry grumbled even as he smiled. "He sure is a well-manner kid." He knelt and faced Willi. "My name's Barry and I want to be your friend," he told the boy as he took his hand and shook it. "Will you help me learn German, Wilhelm?"
I translated and young Willi beamed. He nodded to Barry and said: "you may hold me so that I am as tall as you are." When I had translated, the American laughed and held out his hands. The boy sprang into them, nearly causing Barry to lose his balance.
"I like him already, Robbie. He just needs to speak English and he'll be perfect."
I chuckled. "Soon enough he'll be chattering away in English for you, love. None of my retainers speak German, he's got to learn it."
There was a knock at the door. "Come," I called.
Dagold smiled as he pushed the door closed behind himself. "Herr Baron, thank you for everything," he said in German as he entered the room. I noticed he wore his uniform shirt, boots, and trousers and wondered immediately if Barry's clothing would fit him. Dagold Jorsten would stand out most painfully if he continued to dress as a Waffen-SS corporal.
Barry was staring at Dagold when I turned to make introductions. "He's definitely a pretty boy, Robbie," he said. "Is that get-up what our kind is wearing this year in Berlin?"
"It is just that I have no other clothing, mein Herr," Dagold told him in heavily accented English.
Barry's face immediately turned the colour of beetroot. "Jesus!" he yelped. "I'm sorry! I was being catty. It just slipped out."
"You are sorry for what, mein Herr?" Dagold glanced about the room quickly. "And how was your cat able to escape?"
I decided Barry had found that he had dug a hole for himself -- quite nicely, in fact. He needed no reprimand from me. Besides, the young German was showing himself quite capable of defending himself. "Dagold Jorsten, this is Barry Alexander. Dagold has just escaped being murdered in Germany."
"And also watching my lover killed, Herr Baron," the German reminded me. "This Barry Alexander must be your lover. His comeliness compliments your own, Lord Petersholme."
I felt my face become white, even to the beads of perspiration that sprang out across my forehead. Barry again turned the colour of beetroot as he stared fixedly at the German youth.
"I suspect that particular subject is one that we need to discuss only in guarded moments, gentlemen," I told them. "Otherwise, a very young lad might learn far more English than I wish him to know at the moment."
As if he knew that I was talking about him, Willi said in English: "I am hungry, Herr Baron."
I stared at him in Barry's arms, his arms around my lad's neck. "Where did you learn to speak English?" I demanded in German.
Willi smiled quite proudly. "It is the only thing I know. Dagi taught it to me this morning. Did I say it right?"
"I think we have two hungry Germans on our hands," I told Barry.
"You're going to the restaurant then?" I nodded. "Why don't you and Willi go on," he offered.
"Whatever for? You and Dagold could probably do with a large breakfast too."
"We'll be along shortly, Robbie." Barry glanced over at the German. "I think I have a pair of jeans that'll fit him, maybe a shirt too."
"I would like very much to appear as a civilian," Dagold told him. "My heartfelt thanks for your concern, mein Freund."
I took Willi from Barry's arms and started for the door, telling the lad that we, at least, were going to eat something.
* * *
I sat in the overheated cubicle Molloy claimed as an office in Whitehall. Barry had taken young Willi down to Bellingham Hall yesterday afternoon and I hoped to join them today -- if Molloy would simply stop finding things to chat about and let me leave.
I was to meet Dagold at Euston Station at two o'clock to catch the train to Coventry. From what Alan had said, I gathered the young German was adjusting quite well to whatever Dudding had found for him to do at the Admiralty. Barry would probably be quite as happy to see him as he would seeing me -- after two days of keeping up with young Willi. I smiled at that. My American lad hadn't realised what he was setting himself up for when he'd pushed me to allow Elizabeth to spend the first week of her school holiday at a friend's home in Leeds.
Fortunately, Barry had come to like Dagold, now that the German and the tutor I had hired for Wilhelm seemed to be romantically connected. Whilst I didn't want young Willi seeing things he oughtn't, I did find it a comfortable situation having Barry liking the German youth, now that he wasn't a perceived threat in the household.
"Petersholme!" Molloy growled in exasperation.
I looked up, feigning innocence. The bloody arse had caught me daydreaming. "You were going on about tying the French to our apron strings," I offered and hoped I had picked a point in his monologue that was close to his finding me out.
"Damn! But I had wanted to get the background done before you left for the coming holidays." He smiled slightly. "You'll see that bloody Yank this evening, Petersholme, rest assured of that."
"Will you and Alan have a day or two to yourselves?" I asked. Alan had told me of Barry's matchmaking and we'd both had a jolly laugh on it. But, until now, I'd not allowed Molloy to know that I knew.
He blanched. A moment later he shuddered and, then, smiled. "So, you know?" I nodded. "Thank your Yank for me. It was he who pulled me out of being a pompous arse and forced me to be a man."
"So, you two have managed to get together then?"
"I should hope so. Look, Petersholme, keep just one thing in mind during this holiday and we'll meet back here on the second of January." I groaned and he ignored me. "There is some fear the French will go neutral if Hitler makes another move in Europe. They figure they can stand behind their Maginot Line and hold Jerry off. There's even a couple of old war-horses in Paris who think they should enlist in the Wehrmacht -- Pétain especially."
I nodded, grumpily thinking of having to be back in Whitehall on the second of January. "You're not due in Paris until the fourth," Molloy told me, smiling. "Now, why don't you get over to Waterloo and catch a train to Coventry. I think you have someone waiting for you there."