The Helping Hands Affair
Napoleon quietly opened the door to his bedroom. Illya was lying on the bed, his heavily bandaged arms propped up on pillows in front of him.
Seeing that Illya's eyes were shut, Napoleon started to close the door again.
"You can come in," said Illya, his eyes still shut.
After several years of being partners, both in and out of the bedroom, Napoleon was no longer surprised at Illya's ability to 'sense' his presence. Retrieving a tray from the table in the hall, he carried it over to the bed and set it down on the floor.
Illya opened his eyes and tried to sit up. He stifled a groan as he moved his arms.
"Hey, easy there," said Napoleon. "Let me help." Slipping an arm around his partner's shoulders, he carefully raised him to a sitting position before sliding a few pillows in behind him for support.
"So how are you feeling now?" asked Napoleon, as Illya settled back against the pillows, wiggling his bare shoulders as he tried to find a comfortable position.
"Tired...hungry...and my arms are itching like crazy," replied Illya. A clump of hair had fallen over his eye and he puffed at it in a vain attempt to move it.
Napoleon pushed the hair out of Illya's face, before kissing him softly on the forehead. "Well there's no sign of any fever," he commented, before sitting down on the bed, facing his lover.
"Are you sure about that?" Illya's lips were twisted in a slight smile. "I think I feel a little...warm."
Napoleon leaned forward and kissed Illya on the forehead again. "Hmm, no fever there." He kissed Illya's nose. "Nope, none there either." Finally he had kissed his way down to Illya's waiting lips. "Definitely no fever there," he said softly before pressing his lips against them.
Illya half shut his eyes as he felt the gentle but eagerly awaited touch of his partner. Automatically, he tried to encircle Napoleon with his arms, only to hiss in pain.
Napoleon instantly pulled away, "Tovarish?"
Illya gritted his teeth. "It...it's nothing..."
The previous day, Napoleon and Illya had broken into a THRUSH laboratory. The scientist in charge hadn't taken kindly to their efforts to 'acquire' his research and when confronted by the agents, had thrown his records into a tank of water rather than let UNCLE get their hands on them. Illya had instinctively reached into the tank and pulled the files out, but it wasn't until a few minutes later, when his arms started throbbing badly that he realized that the tank had held more than just water. By the time he had returned to UNCLE, Illya had almost scratched his arms raw, trying to relieve the itch. The application of a cream had temporarily eased the pain, but the Doctor had insisted on bandaging both arms thoroughly to prevent him from scratching too much and drawing blood. Illya had protested the indignity, but to no avail...the Doctor had told him bluntly that it was either wear the bandages or stay in Sick bay under continuous observation until the itching subsided. Normally Illya would have argued further, but he was feeling sick and dizzy both from the pain in his limbs and the medication that the Doctor had insisted on giving him, so reluctantly he had submitted.
Napoleon gently caressed Illya's cheek. "How many times to have to tell you...don't hide your pain from me. I know you like to tough it out with the doctors, but this is me, okay?"
Illya tilted his head, almost trapping Napoleon's hand between his cheek and shoulder. "It's not that bad...really," he said.
"Well bad or not, it's time for another layer of cream."
Illya reluctantly allowed Napoleon to pull his hand free. He was not looking forward to the changing of dressings. Although at the last time of changing, it was hard to know which of them had been in more pain...Illya from the discomfort of having the dressings peeled away, or Napoleon who hated himself for having to inflict such pain on his partner. With a stifled sigh, Illya braced himself for the ordeal.
"I'll try and be more gentle this time," said Napoleon, as he started unwinding the bandage from Illya's right arm. "Well, it doesn't look as bad as it did last night," he commented, as the arm was exposed. "Guess that cream really works." As he spoke, he retrieved the jar of cream from the tray and started spreading it generously over the affected area.
"You are becoming quite the little nurse," said Illya, to take his mind off what was happening. True, Napoleon was being as gentle as possible, but the skin on Illya's arms was just begging him to scratch it.
"All I need now is the starched hat and the little uniform with the watch pinned on my chest," said Napoleon, as he concentrated on rubbing the cream into every inch of Illya's arm. "Would you like me to be dressed like that?"
Illya laughed involuntarily at the thought of his partner in such an outfit. "I think I would prefer to undress you!"
"You'll have to wait until your arms heal up."
"Not necessarily," replied Illya, "I'm sure I could manage, somehow..." He pointedly opened his mouth, and licked his lips. "Can you just imagine me kissing my way up your legs...opening your buttons with my teeth?"
"Just so long as you're very careful with those teeth of yours," warned Napoleon as he focused his attention on Illya's hand, carefully smoothing the cream all over it and massaging it gently. Concentrating on what he was doing, he was interrupted by a gasp from Illya. Looking up, he asked with concern, "Are you all right? Did I hurt you?"
"No," sighed Illya, happily. "Just...just keep doing what you are doing." His eyes were shut and there was an expression of contentment on his face as he felt the gentle but firm touch of his partner's hands on his. Those hands that were strong enough to choke the life out of a man, but yet so gentle on his tender skin. "It...it is very...soothing..."
Napoleon traced his way along the lines on Illya's palm. The cream had been thoroughly absorbed by the skin, but he continued to stroke away delicately. Finally, he reached for the fresh bandages and wrapped them gently as he had been instructed by the UNCLE nurse. Reaching for the other hand, he repeated the procedure, taking just as much care.
Illya was almost asleep again by the time the rebandaging was finished. Feeling Napoleon's lips brush over his, made him open his eyes again.
"Hey, Sleeping Beauty," said Napoleon, softly. "You feel up to having something to eat? Or would you rather go back to sleep?"
"Something to eat would be nice," replied Illya.
"Why am I not surprised," smiled Napoleon, as he gently trailed his hand along Illya's cheek. "Okay then, I have some soup heating up on the stove. I'll be back in a minute."
It was nearer to five minutes by the time Napoleon returned with a large bowl of soup on a lap tray.
"I am not a baby that needs a bib," growled Illya, as Napoleon tied a clean towel around his neck.
"Maybe not, but you'd be complaining if I spilt any on your bare chest."
"Not necessarily...you could always clean it off me...without using a cloth..."
"Hmm, tempting as that idea is," said Napoleon, gently drawing a line down Illya's chest, "I think that until you're feeling better I shall just have to restrain my, shall we say 'baser impulses'..."
"What about my baser impulses?" grumbled Illya under his breath. He shifted uncomfortably in the bed, knowing that Napoleon was right. But that didn't make him feel any better about it. Out loud he said, "You do know that some doctors actually recommend that patients have sexual relations...they say that it helps speed up the healing process."
"And since when did you pay any attention to what doctors had to say," teased Napoleon. He ruffled Illya's hair affectionately, smiling as his partner pulled a face at him. "Don't worry, Illyusha, once you're up to it, I promise we'll make up for lost time."
"I'll hold you to that, Napasha."
Napoleon balanced the tray on his lap as he sat down on the bed beside Illya. With one arm around Illya's shoulders, he picked up a spoonful of soup and blew on it gently. "Open wide," he said softly, as he moved the spoon to Illya's lips.
Illya sipped delicately at the soup to taste it. "It's good," he said, before taking the rest of the spoonful.
"It ought to be," said Napoleon, as he loaded the spoon again. "It's from an old Solo recipe." He held the spoon to Illya's lips.
"So if I were to look through the trash, I wouldn't find any empty take out cartons?" teased Illya.
"Cheeky! Just for that..." Illya's mouth closed over empty air as Napoleon moved the spoon away and popped it into his own mouth. "Mmm, that is good soup," he teased.
"I thought that was supposed to be for me," said Illya, with a tone of mock disappointment.
"Well, I thought that I might as well be economical with the delph, since I'm going to be doing all the washing up."
"Ah, so that is why you wish me to make a speedy recovery."
A second spoonful of soup temporarily silenced him and Napoleon settled into an easy rhythm of feeding both himself and Illya.
When the soup was finally finished, Napoleon dropped the spoon back into the bowl. He heard Illya sigh as he shifted uneasily beside him. "What's wrong?"
"I hate this," grumbled Illya.
"I thought you liked the soup?"
"I do...I did...it's just...being so helpless...depending on you..."
"We do it every day we're out in the field together," said Napoleon, slightly puzzled by Illya's sudden change in mood.
"No...when we're in the field together...I am not so helpless...I am able to protect you...but now..." Illya looked disdainfully at his bandaged limbs. "Now I cannot even lift a finger. If you were in trouble...I could not help. In fact, I would be as much of a liability as any of those 'innocents' that get dragged into UNCLE affairs." His head slumped dejectedly.
"Ah," thought Napoleon. So that was what had been bothering Illya. Out loud he said, "So this week it's you who's the invalid...but how many times has it been the other way round, hmm? How many times has it been me lying there with you tending to my wounds?" He pulled Illya closer to him, being careful not to jostle his arms.
"It's not..." Illya broke off, unable to explain his feelings. He didn't know why he was suddenly feeling like this. After all, Napoleon was right...besides, this was hardly the first time and would probably not be the last time either of them would be so reliant on the other. He sighed heavily. "I just hate feeling so...so useless..." He let his head fall against Napoleon's chest.
Napoleon let his chin rest on Illya's head. "You are not useless," he said softly. "You're...you're 'recuperating'...and before you know it, you'll be fit again...and it'll be your turn to wash the dishes." Even without being able to see Illya's face, Napoleon knew that he was smiling. "That's better," he said, kissing the top of Illya's head. "You know that I love you, mmm?" He kissed him again. "And that I always will...no matter how helpless you are...in sickness and in health." He kissed Illya a third time.
"You make it sound like we're married," said Illya, tiredly.
"For all intents and purposes we are," replied Napoleon. "I mean, we're living together, we've designated each other as our next of kin. All we're missing is a ceremony." He hesitated only a second before continuing, "And if you want one...then I would be honored to stand up in front of all our friends and pledge myself to you for the rest of our lives."
Illya turned his head to look at Napoleon, an expression of surprise on his face. "You...you would do that for me?"
"I would do anything for you, Illyusha," said Napoleon, bending his head to kiss Illya on the lips.
"And I for you," whispered Illya, before kissing Napoleon back. "And I for you."
When they parted their lips, Napoleon said with a smile, "Of course, there's something I'll have to insist on you promising."
"There is no way that I am promising to 'obey' you," smiled Illya.
"Somehow I didn't think so," teased Napoleon. "Just promise me that next time we break into a laboratory, you'll be more careful of where you put your hands, mmm?"
"As soon as these bandages are removed, you will see exactly how careful I can be with my hands," replied Illya, with an evil grin.
"I can hardly wait," said Napoleon, as he kissed Illya again and again and again.