The Birthday Present

by Ceindreadh

Napoleon turned the pages of the book, completely engrossed in the story. He was almost halfway through the novel when he happened to glance at his watch, realizing with a start that it was almost two am. "Guess it's not my birthday any longer," he thought to himself. Not that it had been much of a birthday to speak of. Illya had been stuck in London on one of his rare solo...or should that be Solo-less assignments. Napoleon had hoped that his partner, and lover of many years would be able to complete the assignment and return home before his birthday, but THRUSH were no respecter of people's anniversaries, and Illya had contacted him yesterday...or rather the day before yesterday now, to let him know that he would be unable to return just yet. He had also revealed to Napoleon exactly where his birthday present had been hidden in their office and insisted that he not wait to open it. "Presents should be opened on the anniversary and not before or after, Napasha," he had said with that adorable Russian accent of his. "And it will help you pass the time until my return."

And so it had, thought Napoleon as he slid a bookmark between the pages of Illya's gift and setting it down gently on the coffee table. He hadn't noticed the time passing so quickly. Yawning he pushed himself up off the couch and stretched. Intriguing as the book was, he would have to wait for another time to finish it. Bending down to pick up the book again, Napoleon paused halfway as he heard a knock on the door...a knock with a familiar impatient rhythm to it. "No," he said, a smile appearing on his lips as he headed for the door, almost knocking over the coffee table as he went.

"Illya?" said Napoleon, as he pulled open the door. "I thought you were still in London..." The words died on his lips as he saw the soaked and dishevelled Russian standing before him. "What happened to you? Was it THRUSH?"

Illya rubbed a tired hand over his face as he pushed past Napoleon and trudged wearily towards the couch. "I managed to tie up the last loose ends so I took the first flight to New York. But there was a problem with the engine and by the time we landed the last bus to the city had left." He plonked himself down on the couch, "And none of the taxi drivers seemed overly impressed at having a commie in their cab, so I walked."

"You walked all the way from the airport?" Napoleon sat down beside his dripping partner.

"Actually I had to run several blocks," said Illya, shifting uncomfortably. "Some muggers took a liking to my jacket, but I liked it more. If I hadn't been in such a hurry to get back for your birthday I'd have stayed and fought them for it." He yawned. "Sorry Napoleon, I've been up for the last..." He focused tired eyes on his watch, "...36 hours...or is it 31...must have lost some time somewhere..." He shivered slightly.

"You must be freezing. I'll get you a whisky, that should warm you up a bit." Napoleon started to rise, but Illya pulled him back down, planting a clumsy kiss on his cheek.

"Wanted to make it home for your birthday," he said softly.

Napoleon cupped Illya's face in his hand and kissed him back, "It's still my birthday on the West Coast...not to mention Hawaii...I think you made it in time."

Illya smiled tiredly and slumped back against the cushions. "Go get my drink," he ordered as he leaned his head back and closed his eyes.

Napoleon willingly obeyed, but by the time he had returned with the beverage, Illya had slipped sideways on the couch and was snoring softly. Napoleon smiled indulgently at the sight. Illya's hair was spilling forward almost obscuring his face, but what features were visible showed him to be at his most relaxed. "Illya," he called softly, not wishing to disturb his partner, but knowing that he couldn't just leave him there. Speaking from experience, Napoleon knew that the couch was not the most comfortable to sleep on. Plus Illya really needed to get out of his damp clothes. "Illya?"

Illya's only response was to curl up on the couch and mumble something inaudible. Napoleon reached out to shake him awake so he could get cleaned up, but stopped his hand a few inches from Illya's shoulder. No, there was no need to wake him just yet.

A few minutes later, Napoleon returned to the couch and slid his arms carefully round the sleeping Russian to pick him. He carried Illya into the bedroom and laid him down gently on the towel he had stretched out on the bed. Working quickly, Napoleon divested Illya of his clothing, taking care even in his haste to be as gentle as possible. Illya wasn't the first sleeping individual that Napoleon had had to strip, but when 'borrowing' the uniform from an unconscious THRUSH guard, it was seldom necessary to worry about waking them.

Even though Napoleon had turned up the heating, there was still a chill in the air. Illya obviously felt it too, murmuring under his breath and wrapping his arms around his chest as Napoleon removed his shirt. Napoleon dropped a kiss on the Russian's forehead and resisted the temptation to simply warm Illya up kissing every inch of his skin and transferring body heat *that* way. But he knew if that happened then one thing would lead to another and Illya was simply too exhausted to either participate in or enjoy any lovemaking tonight.

So Napoleon simply grabbed a spare pair of pyjamas and slipped them on over Illya's bare skin before pulling back the covers and rolling Illya off the towel and under the blankets.

A few minutes later, a pyjama clad Napoleon joined him under the blankets and took Illya in his arms. "Goodnight Tovarish," he whispered.

As Napoleon drifted off to sleep, his last conscious thought was that he was after getting the best birthday present of all...even if he had had to wrap it himself.

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