The Blue-Eyed Blonde Affair
The Man from UNCLE and its characters are owned by someone else, we don't know exactly who, but no one is making any money off this story.
Note: The author of this story does have an email address listed at the archive, however he has extremely limited internet access so is unable to answer comments left. That doesn't mean he doesn't want to see them. :-)
Illya was never untidy, but nor did he ever seem particularly concerned with his appearance. Usually. Sitting on the back seat of the limo, Napoleon tried to read his partner's mind from the fall of well-combed blond hair.
"Blondes, gentlemen prefer them," Martinez taunts. "Because they are fun loving. But what is 'fun-loving' really, except a euphemism for 'easy'?""How are you getting along with Kristina?" Napoleon had to ask. Couldn't help himself, even though he'd been happily resisting interrogation—by telling a THRUSH agent nothing but lies—for the last fifteen hours. And for the past week Illya had been baby-sitting Kristina Labko, a beautiful young Russian woman who seemed—somehow—to be the key to foiling a THRUSH plot. Chauffeuring her, and spending twenty-four hours of every day in her company, and—unusually—not making any desperate pleas to Mr Waverly for reassignment.
"There is so much more to her than a pretty face." Illya glanced up at the rear-view mirror, meeting his gaze, and Napoleon saw the earnestness in bright blue eyes.
"And what beautiful blue eyes—with a sharp and cunning mind behind them. Do you honestly believe such an intellect would find a pretty clothes-horse like you anything more than a diversion?""Are you all right, Napoleon?" Illya was leaning into the back of the limo over the front seat, eyes making a brief examination. Worried. The car had drawn up outside the safe-house, Napoleon realized, and he must have missed a question, or been expected to comment.
"Napoleon?" Illya glared at him, presumably satisfied that there was no physical reason for his partner's inattention, and Napoleon nodded, and cleared his throat.
"I was late." A self-disgusted twist of expressive lips. "Nearly too late."
Napoleon nodded again—Martinez had come to the end of his questions, and his jealous rant, and been ready to dispose of his captive UNCLE agent. "But we learned a great deal we didn't know yesterday."
Possibly enough to add another scar to Illya's psyche—if he cared for Kristina. Napoleon forced himself to think the unthinkable, to use the words he meant—if Illya loved Kristina Labko. And if Illya loved Kristina Labko then he must surely be over his infatuation with Napoleon Solo.
"Infatuation!" Martinez snorts. "Another 'nice' word that's just an excuse for using a lover. For taking what you want and not offering more than a brief affair. A relationship based on lust." He pauses, looks at the cigarette in his hands, the one he has used to burn Napoleon's forearms. "And lust doesn't last, can't last, especially between two people of such different temperament and backgrounds. Infatuation is not love, and it always burns out."Napoleon wasn't ready for that. Nowhere near ready. They weren't men who lived in each other's pockets—who could do that and not drive each other insane—but nor could Napoleon imagine them never again living-for-the-moment in each other's embrace.
He could imagine Illya returning to a strictly professional relationship—maintaining the joking camaraderie of old—without the passion. But Napoleon was almost certain he couldn't go backwards: return to a friendship where touches were never a little too intimate, looks never that bit too knowing.
"You look tired," IIlya held the limo door for him, offered him a shoulder—which Napoleon could not resist taking advantage of—helped him into the apartment block, and then the elevator.
"And the age difference—not so much chronological as in experience. Although it is never certain which of you is truly the older in any ways that count." Martinez flicks the dead cigarette stub across the sterile basement interrogation room. "A part of me yearns to settle down, but in such a relationship there is never peace. Always one more mission, one more time putting mind and body to the test, one last game to be played and won."Napoleon did not remove his arm from across Illya's shoulders while they rode up to the fourth floor. As if he could hold his partner and so hold on to him—at least until the next game, until the next time Illya was a little late and there didn't have to be a future without him. Napoleon caught himself then—nothing more pathetic than the suicide who wants to punish those he left behind with his death. He was a better man than that—and Illya deserved better of him.
His partner slipped out from under Napoleon's arm, watched him walk gingerly onto the landing, and then moved to the door of apartment 4b. Napoleon swore under his breath—he was not going to let Martinez's endless monologue on one particular blue-eyed blonde undermine his relationship with Illya. And if Illya was in love with Kristina, then Napoleon would help him get over it. Because—temptation to see his partner as happy as it was in Napoleon's power to ensure aside—Kristina was poison. Not because she had worked for THRUSH, but because she would work for anybody, and betray anybody. Napoleon could not take the risk that she would use Illya as brutally as she had used Martinez.
"And then she turns on you. Betrays you. Leaves you waiting for a death that is as certain as the knowledge she never really loved you." He raises the pistol, and Napoleon feels the barrel against his temple, before there is a commotion outside the door, and Martinez turns the gun not on Illya—who is rushing in for another rescue-in-the nick-of-time—but on himself. Smiling as he pulls the trigger.No, Napoleon could not risk that happening to Illya, however much in love he was. Even if he was shining his shoes more often, and asking where Napoleon bought the clothes he didn't acquire on employee discount from Del Floria's.
Illya finished checking the door. Napoleon wondered why he would be checking the door. Wondered why they had returned here.
"Illya, how did you know where I was? And why did Mr Waverly send you?"
A finger held to Illya's lips requested silence, then he drew his automatic before opening the door and storming inside. He reappeared only moments later.
"Come in and sit down. You look tired and hungry," he fussed, and as they walked into the safehouse lounge Napoleon saw Kristina.
Sitting on a dining chair, tied hand and foot, and gagged. Her pansy-blue eyes launched an appeal to his honour as a gentleman faced with a lady in distress. Napoleon ignored it.
"She talks too much, and has absolutely no morals." His partner's mouth twitched, and then he smirked.
"She was swearing undying love at every opportunity, and when I would not believe her she decided to prove it by telling me all about herself and her past life and current plans." He paused. "Oddly enough world domination is not one of my lifelong ambitions." And then the wicked gleam in his eyes, as he murmured quietly. "I prefer much more private domination games."
"And you tied her up because?"
"I heard you were lost and she told me where to find you. I had to keep her from leaving while I rescued you from her ex." He steered Napoleon past the girl and towards another door. "Do not mind her, she will be tidied away soon enough."
"Mr Waverly will not shout at me for saving your life—again." Napoleon let himself be dragged into the next room, where he eyed the bed with longing. Just to sleep, with Illya close by.
"We can't—there isn't time." Illya looked at him as though he were spouting gibberish.
"Napoleon, you were in Martinez's hands for fifteen hours. A little torture does not normally make you—" He saw Illya struggle for words.
"Martinez spent much of the time talking, and he was a very tedious conversationalist." With a lousy taste in blue-eyed blondes. Napoleon knew his own taste was—unrivalled.
Illya looked at him, and then looked at him sideways, and finally decided to favour Napoleon with one of the softer, sweeter smiles that spoke volumes about affection.
"When you are tied up you never want to talk. Or listen," he teased.
Fun-loving, infatuated and as different from him as brunet from blond and hazel from blue, Napoleon acknowledged. Then reached out, and risked that an inappropriate touch or two, and perhaps a kiss, would not leave them lying naked and sweaty on the bed when UNCLE sent someone to collect Kristina.
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