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Author's Chapter Notes:

Credits: Many thanks to the eroicaml for all the encouragement, comments and questions. :)

Warnings: Angst. No happy ending. Bad language. Lemony content.

Notes: I didn't expect to turn this into a series, but it demanded to be written; I hope you enjoy it. :) If you have constructive comments/criticism to offer, I'd love to hear what you think. :)

*I am an inverted man...*

When I first joined the service, I had no idea what kinds of demands would be made on me in the interests of serving God and country.

I do believe that if I'd known what it would all come to, I'd have taken that job with the IRS instead, and spent my lifetime quietly processing other people's income taxes. Carine and I probably would've had children; I would've wanted at least two little girls with eyes like their mother. I'd have lived a quiet, contented life--picket fence, Sunday afternoon barbecue and all.

And I would never have met Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach of NATO.

That wasn't the path I chose, though; I had a special talent for acting, for learning foreign languages, for thinking fast in stressful situations... The Agency wanted me, and I wanted to do something important with my life, something worthwhile--I wanted to make a difference, to use all my skills and leave behind a world better off for my having been in it.

To have given up so much, and still changed nothing, is a bitter, bitter pill to swallow. Carine cried at my funeral, and a year later she'd married another man.

David Hampton. He's short, and dark-haired. Looks rather similar to Mr. James, now that I think about it--not that I want to think about Mr. James, or his over-the-top improvising, any more than I want to think about the Major... any more than I really want to think about David Hampton, or Carine.

And the man I sacrificed so much to nail... there are others, dozens just like him. That's the problem with pitting yourself against Evil--Evil is endless. I could live a thousand false lives, and not be able to rid the world's political systems of corruption.

What a naif child I was, to think I could make a real difference!

*I am an inverted man...*

So. Here I am. I have no idea what to do with my life now. I never expected the mission to take so long, never expected the Major to...

Damn it! I don't want to think about him. I don't want to think about that.

It was such a shock, though. I thought he and I had so much in common, the first time we'd met. I'd learned that with art, it really doesn't matter whether it looks like paint and canvas and a few minutes' worth of work. All you have to do is bullshit about how the sensuality of the brush-strokes reveals a hidden aspect of the artist's soul, or the work speaks of hope and despair, Good and Evil... it hardly matters what you say at all, as long as you say it in the right tone of voice, and work in words like "beautiful" and "fabulous."

The Major was the first one to listen to all that crap and call it bullshit, and it won him my instant respect, even though I resented his having set me up for that "foot in mouth" moment. He was such an asshole. I remember thinking then that he and I were very alike; I could imagine myself saying something very similar had our situations been reversed.

I admit I took particular relish in pestering him after that. It was as close as I could get to saying, "Look! Look! There's a normal guy under all this!" But of course I couldn't blow my cover. I hadn't realized how lonely it could be, working for the Agency, and he was as close as I could get to a real friend, since everyone back home had to continue to believe I was dead.

*I am an inverted man...*

He was also, of course, part of the plan. Through him, I was able to gain entrance to NATO headquarters. It was like enduring the torments of Tantalus--I was so close to completing the mission, but the Major and his men trusted me about as much as one trusts a cobra on the loose. You may think that the cobra's sleeping, but you still never take your eyes off it. That's how they were with me, every one of them.

Years later, most of them still clutch at their trousers when they see me. They ought to be more worried about their Major!

...no, that's not fair. The Major may be a lot of things, and a lot of those things are not nice. But he'd never take advantage of his men.

I don't want to think about him. I don't want to think about that...

The Agency chose me for the role because I was so obviously straight, yet also obviously gifted at acting. At the time I joined, homosexuality was considered a huge security breach--so they couldn't use a man who actually *was* gay... but were they ever happy to run across a man who could do a decent act of it!

And it must've been a good act, if I fooled even the Major...

He was so eager, and inexperienced, and intent. What the fuck else could I do? If I tried then to explain... it would've taken too much time. He'd broken in right around the time I needed to leave, and every minute I wasted with him was one minute less of the precious window of time I'd spent almost 20 years arranging.

So I went to the bathroom, and locked myself in, and gave myself a silent pep talk while glaring at my pale reflection in the mirror. It took far longer to psych myself up than it did to get the lube in, and I worried about how I was supposed to keep him from noticing that he was the only one with a hard-on. Turned out, that was where his inexperience came in handy. I rolled over on my stomach, hoping it would be easier to relax and just take it in that position. That way, I didn't have to talk to him, or look at him; I could hide my expression--and lack of erection--from him as well. I could just hope he'd get off quickly and go to sleep...

It still hurt like a son of a bitch. You can only relax so much for something like that, and the more it hurts, the harder it is to loosen up. Not that I'm a great expert on it, but it wasn't the first time I'd had to screw a man for the sake of the mission.

I felt... betrayed. I loved him like a man loves his brother, or a cop loves his partner, Platonically but deeply. I wanted to tell him who I was, tell him the secret I'd been harboring for all those years... and he wanted to fuck me up the ass. When it was over, I hummed that dumbass nursery tune to him, and he went to sleep smiling, and what I'd felt for him seemed sick and cheapened and permanently tarnished for his ten minutes of pleasure.

I don't want to think about him.

I don't want to think about that...

But until they come up with another assignment suited to my particular skills, there's nothing else for me to do but kill time and try not to think too much. I wonder how much longer I can keep this up; the facade of the carefree gay troublemaker is cracking, and I'm not even sure who I am underneath, not any more.

He was the closest thing to a kindred soul I've ever met, and now I can't look at him without wanting to throw up, wanting to *hurt* him for not being who I thought he was.

It sickens me even more to know that that's exactly how he feels about me. My only friend.

*I am an inverted man... I'm not as nice as you think I am.*

~The End~

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