Covert Cupid Challenge: Karen

By Karen

I knew crap-all about these particular canons prior to entering into this challenge. Oh sure there was the play I went to see last year, and some smattering of stuff on tumblr, but I wouldn’t dare to say enough to write any kind coherent narrative. So off to YouTube and Wikipedia I went. Several hours later I came up with this. 

Yes, it’s way longer than it needed to be. Like…twice as long. But…I just couldn’t stop writing. In fact, I’m itching to go back and correct stuff, and flesh out the story more. Maybe make it a trilogy… Anyway, I hope you like reading it nearly as much as I enjoyed writing it. 

This day had been a long time coming, Dorian Pavus thought to himself as he refilled his cup from the carafe. He couldn’t help but sigh as he recalled the numerous favors involved, both called in as well as extended, on another’s behalf. His shook his head when he thought about the secrets he’d bartered away when even the seemingly limitless coin at his disposal was not enough to get the job done. Secrets he’d been biding his time with, that he’d had more lucrative plans for, were cast to the wind for the sake of one. A one, he thought bitterly, that was not himself.

It all seemed like such a waste of time and of resources…until the door to the Hanged Man opened and a familiar form bearing an even more familiar red bloom made its way inside.

“You’re late,” he drawled, as the man approached with a bit of a stagger to his step. No doubt due to his eyes needing to adjust to the ambient candlelight. “I’ve started without you.” Dorian raised his now full cup as evidence before toasting his compatriot and drinking deep.

“Well, then I’d best be catching up then,” said the man in a crisp posh tone, even as he snapped his fingers as if calling for a servant to attend to his whim.

No such servant appeared. In fact, what limited service the Hanged Man did provide made their disdain of such behavior plain by ignoring it all together.

Dorian sighed dramatically.

“Sir Pimpernel, we’ve been through this time and again. Though the Hanged Man is a delight upon the senses, it is most decidedly not the Winter Palace. You actually have to ask for things here. Please, allow me….again. A cup for my friend?” Dorian punctuated his request with the sound of coin hitting the table, and sure enough, in no time, another cup appeared.

“Good show, my darling. Good show indeed!” the Pimpernel all but trilled, but then waited expectantly for his cup to be filled for him.

“It’s a wonder how you make it out of your own chambers on a daily basis.”

“You say that as if being stuck in one’s chambers all day would be…an imposition. I’ve never heard such a complaint before.” The Pimpernel’s tone, while still the very model of highborn propriety, managed to somehow delve deeply into lasciviousness. Of all of the Pimpernel’s skills Dorian admired, that might just be his favorite.

“Nor will you, at least not from the likes of me. However, we’re not in your bedchambers…” The yet was left unsaid…but heavily implied.

“Dorian, do be a dearheart,” the Pimpernel all but petulantly whined, “There’s a toast that’s yet to be fulfilled still lingering on the air and I do rather hate to court bad luck.”

“I have heard that about you, yes.” Dorian’s show of annoyance would be far more convincing were it not for the smirk slowly working its way across his lips. “Now drink deep, my dear. And spill not a drop, lest the fates be tempted to run us afoul.”

“Egads, this is a horrible vintage,” the Pimpernel sputtered after a single sip. “Is it even wine? Can you call something that isn’t wine a vintage? How ever could you possibly drink this willingly?”

“I think you’ll find once you begin, you won’t be able to stop. Especially if you keep in mind that the next drink could not possibly be as bad as the previous one.”

“But it will be,” The Pimpernel protested.

“Oh yes, but in time you’ll be too drunk to care.”

“Now why ever would I want to be too drunk to care?” And there it was, one perfectly arched eyebrow. As if the voice alone wasn’t seductive enough.

“Because I promise you this, Sir Pimpernel, the accommodations here are nowhere near the standards to which you are accustomed.”

“Yes, well… if there is one thing I have learned since venturing outside of court, it’s that there are quite tangible benefits to being flexible and open to new ideas.”

“Shall we then?” But the Pimpernel was already to his feet, and moving towards the hall which led to the guest rooms.

“Bring the…that,” the Pimpernel said blindly gesturing to what was left of the carafe, before ducking into the hallway.

Dorian did as commanded, informed those seated nearest to his table not to wait up, and then made his way towards the hall himself. He got as far as the doorway before the Pimpernel reached out and pulled him into a passionate embrace. An embrace that continued as they made their way down the hallway, shamelessly pawing at each other all the way up the stairs the guest rooms, until finally they fell against their door in a tangle of limbs and partially removed clothing.

“Percy,” Dorian rasped between long lingering kisses. “The door, my dear. The door. Open the door. Quickly, Percy!”

Grudgingly the Pimpernel shifted his attention from the various buckles and ties of Dorian’s attire long enough to open the door, usher them both through it, and close it behind them with the click of a latch.

Now secured from the outside world the two men parted, each taking long breaths in order to regain their respective composures. Revolutionaries were far less likely to be noticed if they maintained a believable cover as lovers.

“You’ve never done that before,” Percy said, as he made half-hearted attempts at straightening his rumpled garb.

“Done what, exactly?” Dorian asked between breaths.

“Called me Percy outside of closed doors.”

“Momentary lapse in judgement,” he said, waving away any and all concern. “Blame the wine.”

“The vinegar, you mean.”

“Six of one…”

“We’re almost ready to move. Did you manage to get it?”

“The intel, you mean? Oh yes, but for no small sum. And don’t think for a second I’m not also adding the accommodations and the wine…

“…vinegar…” Percy corrected.

“…to the final balance,” Dorian continued unchecked.

“I would expect nothing less, and neither will he.” Percy reached into a once-concealed inner pocket of his tunic, and retrieved a tightly rolled scroll of thin-weight paper, which he then began to open and spread across the bed.

“Is that the whole of it?” Dorian asks, gesturing to the seemingly blank piece of paper.

“All save for what you’ve got for me. We’ll add that…and…that…well, that will be that!”

“That will be that,” Dorian echoed.

“Bring me a candle, Darl-…Dorian.”

Dorian snickered at Percy’s expense.
“It would appear the vinegar has gotten to you as well.”

“Yes…it would seem so.”

A candle was lit, and carefully Percy exposed the paper to the heat from the small flame. Slowly, lines of a map begin to appear on the paper’s surface.

“You could have done this far more efficiently with magic, you know.”

“Yes, but they would have been looking for enchantments. This way is too simple to be suspected. There,” Percy said, laying the now fully realized map back onto the bed. “All we need is that bit there.”

“The innermost part, the most dangerous, and most difficult to-come-by bit, you mean.”

“He promises me that you’ll be compensated nine times over.”

“He promises you, but where is he now?”

“You know very well why he can’t be here now.”

“Be sure to inform him exactly where he can shove his fixed points in time,” Dorian scoffed, before dismissively shooing Percy away from the paper. “Hand me something to write with and that wine, and let’s finish this.”

Percy reached into another concealed pocket and retrieved a pencil. For a moment it looked as though he was going to say something, but in the end thought better of it and merely handed the pencil over to Dorian.

For what felt like a good long while no words were spoken, and the only sounds in the room came from the scratching of the pencil as Dorian wrote, along with the occasional slosh of the carafe as it was passed between them.

Percy came to perch on the opposite side of the bed, watching as Dorian meticulously added to the map. If asked the Pimpernel would say he was merely committing the new material to memory, but the truth of the matter is that he was transfixed by Dorian’s hands. Percy, who was dubious about the existence of magic at first, wasn’t the slightest bit surprised when he learned those steady confident hands could summon fire at will.

“He’s going to have to have his coordinates exactly right this time. No faffing about, there isn’t room. The wards are too close,” Dorian cautioned.

“You know he works best with a margin of error.”

“Oh he can have any margin he wants,” Dorian drawled, looking up to smirk at Percy. “So long as it’s zero.”

“This is going to be…”

“Fun,” Dorian interjected, sitting back on his heels to admire his work. “It’s going to be a delightful romp into chaos. You’re going to have a lovely time, and all will be right with the world when you’re through.”

“Do you honestly believe that.” It wasn’t even a question, because Percy knew better, but…he did so love watching Dorian work.

“Not in the slightest,” Dorian replies cheerfully. “But it’s better than giving voice to the alternative.”

It was here that Percy reached out and covered what he could reach of Dorian’s hand with one of his own.

“This is too important a mission to fail, and so we won’t.”

“Just like that, is it?”

“Just like that,” Percy said, raising that perfect eyebrow once again.

Dorian held his gaze for as long as he dared before he looked away and chuckled quietly.

“Come here and explain it to me again,” he said, rising to his feet. Percy nodded and moved to stand next to Dorian, so they could view the map from the same vantage point.

“We’ll start here,” Percy began, pointing to the proper section on the map…and then he probably said something else. Probably a lot of something elses, but Dorian found himself paying less attention to Percy’s words than he did to the cadence of Percy’s voice. Dorian thought about how cheated those who only knew Percy as Sir Pimpernel must be, to be denied the chance to meet the brilliant man behind the brainless fop.

After a time Dorian gave up the pretense of listening to the oration, and turned his attention to Percy himself. It was then that he noticed the bruise slowly rising on Percy’s neck. A love bite that spoke of his affection for the man more keenly than any words he would have allowed himself.

Percy finished his lecture and turned to find Dorian appraising him from far too close a position. Their eyes met and the palpable attraction from the hallway returned. Not borne from the guise they had adopted during the mission, but a very real passion that had blossomed while each watched the other man work.

“Percy,” Dorian’s voice broke the electric silence between them. “Be sure send Marguerite my best.”

Percy, briefly struck dumb by mention of his wife, could only blink in shock as all thoughts of kissing fled from his mind.

“We were having a moment,” he stammered. “And now you’ve gone and ruined it.”

“For the best,” Dorian said looking away, like a schoolboy caught telling lies. “If I burn the curtains in here again they’re likely to not let me back.”

From nowhere there was then a keening sound that to Dorian was not unlike the thrum of an adolescent dragon calling its mother.

“My ride is here.”

“Now who’s ruining things?”

“I will send word when it’s over.”

“See that you do. And that you return to your wretched magic-less place from whence you came safe and in as many pieces as you left with.”

“You have my word.” Percy then removed the signature red bloom pinned to his tunic.
“To remember me by,” he said as he offered it to Dorian.

Dorian smiled then, not one of his sardonic smirks, but a true and sincere smile.
“As if I could ever forget.”

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