The Post Gurnius Affair
Story notes: This story was originally published in a now out of print zine. The greatest of thanks are given to lyrebird for taking the time to transcribe this for me, and, as always to Bluster, whose help is always beyond belief.
The drive back to San Rico from the destroyed THRUSH observatory took over an hour and a half.
This had not been an easy mission, Napoleon Solo mentally acknowledged as he finally allowed his weary eyes to sink shut. The smoking remains of the mountain top installation had disappeared from view over a half hour ago, but the tall, brunet U.N.C.L.E. agent's heart was still racing like a thoroughbred making for the finish line at Churchill Downs.
The accelerated heart rate was an after effect of the poison remedy Illya had given their lovely helper to administer to him. But knowing the cause didn't reduce Solo's discomfort. His pulse was drumming double time. His ribs were bruised so bad that he suspected a few might actually have cracked. A headache pounding hard enough to shatter his skull was keeping a disconcerting counter-rhythm to his racing pulse. The headache had several possible causes—it might be a by-product of the poison itself, the remedy, the electric shock device these damn Nazis had hooked him up to, or perhaps it was a memento of any of the continuous blows he'd taken while trying to disable Gurnius insidious mind control machine.
At this point, Solo neither knew nor cared about the causes of his pain. All he knew was that he hurt. Every inch of his muscular body ached. In less than sixty minutes, he'd been tortured with electric shock, poisoned, resuscitated from death and beaten up. That was a lot for anyone to handle, even U.N.C.L.E.'s top enforcer.
"Napoleon, are you all right?" Illya Kuryakin's voice called him back from the border of never-never land.
Forcing his weighed eyelids apart, Solo glanced across the drowsing journalist between him and his partner to where the Russian sat behind the driver's seat.
The blond was still wearing that damn Nazi uniform, the fake scar on his right cheek livid and ugly.
Shuddering as he remembered that same face smiling down at him as he writhed and cried out in agony as Kuryakin twisted the electric shock machine's control dial upwards to flood the American's bound body with even more current, Solo glanced quickly away. "I'm fine," he answered too hastily. He could feel that probing blue gaze scouring the side of his averted face.
"Napoleon," Kuryakin's tone was uncharacteristically gentle as he hesitantly continued, "I... regret the pain I was forced to inflict upon you."
"It's all right," Solo gruffly dismissed.
"I feel... terribly responsible," the younger man admitted.
"It wasn't your fault, Illya. You had a role to play. If you hadn't played it so hard, Gurnius would have known you were a ringer for Nexus and we'd all be dead now." Although Solo knew the words to be true, emotionally he couldn't quite vanquish the memory of that torture scene from his mind. His partner had made such a chillingly efficient Nazi.
"Illya, it wasn't your fault. Can we just drop it?"
"As you wish, Napoleon."
It was remarkable, really, how well he'd gotten to know the enigmatic blond. There was a time when Solo had believed his partner to be totally without emotions. Now, he read the hurt Kuryakin was attempting to conceal as easily as Solo would read a child's primer.
"I'm sorry, Illya. I didn't mean to snap at you. I just... ache all over."
The rare admission of weakness seemed to echo around the car interior for a terribly long time. Whether it was their natural competitive edge or the old stiff upper lip training, hardly ever did either man allow himself to appear less than perfect before his partner.
"Yes, of course. Perhaps you should rest until we reach the hotel," the Russian suggested.
"That sounds good," Napoleon agreed, unable to place the unfamiliar touch of emotion shading the subdued voice.
Solo had no sooner closed his eyes than it seemed he was being shaken awake.
"Napoleon, Napoleon... we are here."
At that insistent, familiarly accented voice, Solo forced himself awake. Startled, he realized that Teri was no longer seated between them, that darkness had completely fallen and that they were back at Solo's hotel in San Rico.
"Can you get out?"
Wondering why his partner was treating him like a child, Solo tried to clear the cloudy haze from his mind. "Yes, of course I can...ohhh..." The cramps which hit him at his hasty first move froze the American half way out of the car. His senses reeling, the dazed Solo allowed his smaller companion to help him out of the seat and support him as they entered the hotel.
"Where's Teri?" Solo grunted as Kuryakin maneuvered him up the stairs.
"In her room. Speaking of which, I am afraid that we are going to have to share. There is a tobacco convention in town. Miss Cook failed to reserve her room beforehand for the extra night, so I offered her mine. I hope you don't mind."
Not understanding the note of hesitation, Solo shook his head. "Of course, I don't mind."
It seemed to take forever to reach their room.
With his arm draped over Kuryakin's broad shoulders, Solo stumbled blindly along, unconsciously trusting more and more of his weight to his partner. Finally the last set of stairs had been surmounted. Their bedroom door closed behind them, with nothing standing between Napoleon and that incredibly soft double bed.
This room was just as horrific as Solo recalled, with its blue pile carpet, pea green velveteen armchairs and gaudy dime store paintings. But all that interested Solo at this point was the bed.
"Perhaps you would feel better if you had a hot bath first?" Illya suggested, his gentle tone oddly reassuring.
Solo paused. He really didn't want to do anything but sleep.
Still, lllya had a point. A hot bath would help loosen up his sore muscles. Besides, he really needed to clean up.
Kuryakin hadn't mentioned it, and Solo hoped that the pretty journalist had failed to notice, but when that electric shock had been turned up to full blast, Napoleon had lost control of his bladder. His clothes were dry now, but he couldn't be very pleasant to be close to at the moment.
"Yes, all right," Solo agreed.
"I'll run the bath, shall I?" Before the American could respond, his partner disappeared into the bathroom.
Within minutes, the aching agent was bundled into the steamy bathroom, Kuryakin lingering to assist him in undressing.
Almost slipping as he stepped into the high sided, claw foot tub, he clutched at the Russian for support, allowing those strong arms to guide him down into the hot water.
They both couldn't help but notice how Solo flinched at Illya's first touch. With that goddamn Nazi uniform still on him, Solo was having the devil of a time disassociating his loyal partner from the evil torturer. "Sorry. It's the unifonn," he apologized, unable to meet his friend's eye.
"I'll remove it immediately," Kuryakin stiffly promised.
"Thanks... hey, what are you doing?" Solo questioned as Illya's fingers settled gently against his throat.
"Checking your pulse. It is still too fast," Kuryakin grimly reported.
"It's just the remedy. The effects will wear off soon," Napoleon counselled.
The bruised American did not understand the inflection in his partner's voice as Illya gently repeated, "Yes, just the remedy. Do you require any assistance?"
At the awkward inquiry, Solo tried to focus his attention, damning his fuzzy senses. "No, I think I'll be alright."
"I'll be right outside should you require anything," Kuryakin promised, leaving Solo to his privacy. "Call if you need me."
Bluff was standard procedure between them. Anyone could see that Solo was anything but fine, even the beleaguered brunet was aware of that. It was all he could do to keep his eyes open as he relaxed into the bath water's lulling warmth.
After a time Napoleon forced himself to wash. The soap stung the little round burn spots where the electrodes had been attached. The wounds looked like nothing but very red mosquito bites. However, they hurt like any burn.
Eventually, Solo finished his ablutions.
To his further humiliation, Solo found that he didn't have the energy to haul himself back out of the tub.
"Ah, Illya..." he called, praying that he wouldn't have to shout for help. This was already embarrassing enough without having to...
"I'm right here, Napoleon." Kuryakin seemed to appear from nowhere. Thankfully, the blond had removed his fake scar and the dreaded uniform. The former General Nestor was simply his blessedly familiar Illya again.
Without waiting to be asked, Kuryakin practically lifted the taller man from the tub.
Solo was still trying to phrase some witty remark on his friend's prompt response when he felt a soft towel start to blot the water from his skin. Another large bath sheet settled over his shoulders to keep the shivering agent warm.
"I took the liberty of contacting an U.N.C.L.E. physician," Kuryakin informed him. "He will be here in several minutes."
Annoyed, Solo stared down at the blond kneeling to dry his legs. "I don't need a doctor."
"Please, Napoleon, just allow him to examine you?"
Napoleon looked down on the proud man on his knees before him, strangely moved by the sight.
Illya wasn't exactly the warmest of human beings, but Napoleon found his presence strangely reassuring when he wasn't feeling up to par. "If you insist," he agreed at last.
"Thank you." The Russian spoke as if Solo had granted some great boon, rather than Napoleon acquiescing to something for his own benefit.
Solo watched as Kuryakin completed his self-appointed task of drying the American's legs, unable to credit this near tenderness with the reserved image he held of his partner. In its own way, this gentle care was as jarring to the befuddled agent as his recent memories of Illya torturing him.
It seemed that Kuryakin had barely gotten Solo dried and bundled into his blue terry cloth robe when a soft knock sounded at the door.
"Mr. Kuryakin, it is I, Dr. Montoya."
From his seat on the bed, Napoleon watched his friend admit the U.N.C.L.E. physician, after carefully examining the man's credentials. The doctor was a small, rotund man, roughly his partner's height, but nearly twice the sprite Russian's bulk. The newcomer's smile was bright in his swarthy features, his brown eye warm and instantly reassuring. "Good evening, Mr. Solo. I'm here to check out your injuries."
After the briefest of pleasantries, the physician immediately set to work.
Napoleon suffered the doctor's attentions as stoically as he had the day's tortures.
"It is good that you called me, Mr. Kuryakin," Dr. Montoya said when he was done. "Your friend has been through much today.
"Will he be alright?" the Russian inquired, the intensity of that worried blue gaze belying his calm tone and features.
"I am still present, you know," Solo grumpily pointed out, tired of being spoken over as if he were a child.
"Forgive us," the doctor immediately apologized. "Yes, you will be fine, Mr. Solo. That shot I administered will regulate your heart rate, as well as relax those stressed muscles. I'm leaving some ointment for those burns, as well as some pain pills."
"Pain pills?" Illya inquired. "For sore muscles?"
Unfortunately, most U.N.C.L.E. agents were familiar enough with common injuries to almost diagnose themselves.
"The pain pills are for his bruised ribs. They're not broken, as far as I can tell. However, they will hurt as if they were for some time. I would prescribe at least two days bed rest, followed by light duty until those bruises fade," the physician ordered.
"Thank you, Dr. Montoya." Illya seemed to almost sag with relief as the tension left him.
"My pleasure." The physician smiled his dazzling smile. "Should you have any further need, please call me immediately. Would you be kind enough to relay my regards to Mr. Waverly? It has been some time since I last saw him. How is he? Well, I trust?"
"He is very well, sir," the Russian assured. "I will tell him that you asked after him. Thank you again for everything."
Solo watched his partner escort the physician to the door. He was barely able to keep his eyes open now that his heart was no longer trying to pound its way out of his chest. That shot was already taking effect.
"How do you feel, Napoleon?"
With a start, Solo focused on the face bending over him, not remembering having seen Illya return from the door. His partner's tone was uncharacteristically hesitant, the hand that stroked his cheek unusually careful.
"Better," he groggily replied.
His bravado didn't fool Kuryakin for a moment. "It's been a long day. I think we both could use an early night. Would you mind if I turned in now, Napoleon?"
Grateful for his partner's tact, the older man nodded. Solo's sluggish body painfully moved to help Kuryakin roll down the sheets he was sitting on. He felt like a dead weight.
Sighing in open relief, Solo sank back onto the cool sheets.
"You're still shivering," Illya remarked as he pulled the bedclothes up over Solo.
"I'm still a little shocky, I guess." Napoleon shrugged, lusting for sleep more fiercely that any woman he had in his life.
"I'll pull the bedspread back up. I believe there is another blanket in the closet."
The over-solicitousness was becoming too much for Solo to handle. "Illya, you don't have to..."
But the Russian had already hauled up the repulsive gold chenille bed spread and was heading to the closet for the extra blanket. Kuryakin's back was the last thing Solo saw before sleep claimed him.
Hours later, Solo awoke with a start. His mouth dry, his head pounding, he was completely disoriented by the strange darkness of the cheap hotel room. Confused, he stared around the shadowy interior, his gaze eventually coming to rest on the only familiar object in sight.
The position Kuryakin stood in was well known to the American. Leaning against the window sill, his head bent deep in thought, Kuryakin wouldn't even be consciously aware of the view he stared down on, Napoleon knew. It was simply Illya's favorite thinking spot. This was Kuryakin at his most introspective.
Solo didn't know what time it was, but the sluggish daze masking his senses told him it was quite late. A glance at the neat space beside him told Solo that his partner hadn't been to bed at all tonight.
"Illya?" His hoarse croak breached the midnight stillness.
Kuryakin was instantly at his side. "Napoleon, is everything alright?"
Only the shadows in the night pale eyes revealed the true depth of the Russian's concern. In his powder blue, cotton pajamas, and bare feet, Illya looked exhausted, long past ready to retire for the night.
"I could ask you the same thing. Why aren't you in bed?" Solo inquired.
"I thought that you might be more comfortable sleeping alone after…after today," Kuryakin replied. "Can I get you anything? Some water or pain pills?"
It took Solo's sleep fogged mind a few moments to understand the strained awkwardness. Guilt was not an emotion he normally equated with his cool, ruthlessly competent partner.
Strangely touched that this dispassionate man would experience it on his behalf, Napoleon shook his head in refusal of Kuryakin's inquiry about his needs. "Nothing, thanks. And you thought wrong."
"I'll sleep better with my partner beside me. Get in here," Solo gruffly ordered.
"Napoleon, I really don't think…"
"The doctor said that we're stuck here for at least two more days. Are you going to spend the next two nights standing in front of that window?"
Sounding much more his normal, intractable self, Illya began, "Tomorrow I will check with the front desk and arrange other accommodations. Until then…"
"Illya," Solo interrupted, even his weary senses able to perceive how upset his friend was beneath his outer calm. "Don't be ridiculous. Please come to bed."
As their gazes locked, a silent battle of wills ensued.
Finally, the slight blond released a shuddery breath and gave a terse nod. "As you will." Without further fanfare, Kuryakin climbed into the empty side of the bed.
Solo winced as the resulting rocking of the mattress jarred his sore body. Every one of his muscles felt like it had been put through a cheese grater, accentuating how fundamentally incompatible electricity and the human body were.
Even for a double bed, this one was small. When Illya finally settled down, they lay shoulder to shoulder.
"You cannot be comfortable like this," Kuryakin whispered at last, his form so tense that Solo felt as if he were sharing the bed with a block of stone.
"Go to sleep, Illya," Napoleon sighed, firmly closing his eyes.
His various aches making themselves felt, it was some time before Napoleon could take his own advice. When he eventually drifted off, his partner was no more relaxed.
Several times during the night Solo's rest was disturbed by the inevitable bad dreams that followed such a demanding mission. Tonight was a little different from the usual horror show, however, since one of the heroes of his midnight show had changed sides. The MC of tonight's proceedings wore a frighteningly familiar visage.
Still, each time the moaning agent would surface to a state of semi-wakefulness, gentle hands would push his sweaty hair clear of his brow as a blessedly familiar voice murmured reassurances until Napoleon was lulled back into peaceful slumber.
When Solo awoke with the morning light, it was to find Kuryakin lying on his side, staring at him, one hand thrown protectively across Napoleon's chest.
"Good morning." Solo smiled into the worried eyes.
"How do you feel, Napoleon?"
Wishing he could ease that shadow of guilt, Solo drew upon a patience he never suspected existed. "Better. Did you get any sleep at all?"
Kuryakin shrugged. "Enough."
"Well, you look terrible. Those bags under your eyes look heavier than my suitcase," Solo observed, knowing better than to even try moving under that too perceptive gaze.
"Look, Illya, you really don't have to hang around here all day. If you'd prefer to…"
"Hit the hot spots of San Rico—providing any exist…" The blond's droll tone made his feelings on the suggestion quite plain. "I think not. What I was going to ask was if you wanted a massage? It might help ease the discomfort."
"You don't have to..." Solo instinctively denied. Although he was privately tempted by the offer, he couldn't really countenance subjecting his touch sensitive partner to the ordeal.
"I know that I don't have to. But it might make us both feel better," Kuryakin argued.
"I know how it's going to make me feel better, but what's it going to do for you?" Solo grinned impishly, amused at the concept of this stoic young man having to talk the infamous Napoleon Solo into a sensual treat.
"It will give me something to do besides watch you suffer," Illya explained.
"Put that way, how can I refuse?" Gracefully giving in, Solo opened his bathrobe, even that small gesture hurting. If it wasn't his muscles, it was the bruises ribs...or, more frequently, both.
Before Solo could attempt anything more demanding than loosening the knot, Illya was there easing the blue terry cloth from his shoulders.
"You're welcome," Kuryakin replied with his typical formality.
Supremely unselfconscious in his nudity, Napoleon allowed his partner to help him down on the bed. He hid his smile as he caught a trace of color in those white cheeks, curious as to how his friend was going to handle the upcoming muscle rub when the mere sight of Solo's flesh offended his modesty.
"Are your ribs all right?" the Russian worried.
"Are yours?" he quipped.
"I'm okay. Go ahead." Making himself as comfortable as he could, Solo propped his chin on his crossed arms and watched over his shoulder as Kuryakin retrieved a clear bottle of what looked like baby oil from the bureau top.
"Where'd you get that from?" Solo enquired as the blond rested the bottle on the bed while he paused to roll back his shirt sleeves.
"Room service. Actually, I convinced the bell boy to run to the pharmacy while you were in the bath," Illya explained.
"Had this planned, did you?" Solo grinned.
Charmingly flustered, Kuryakin shrugged and hesitantly asked, "Shall I begin?"
Napoleon winced as the Russian's small, yet strangely strong hands with their slick burden of oil made contact with his shoulders. Even the light stroke of skin over skin was hurtful to his abused muscles. Solo couldn't recall ever being this sensitive to touch before, but, then, he'd never had a current of raw electricity run through his body, either.
That first touch was nothing compared to the agony that ensued when Illya's kneading fingers actually applied light pressure to the aching flesh. The helpless groan Solo released then was unmistakably one of pure agony.
"Do you want me to stop?" Kuryakin questioned in a strained whisper, his hands freezing in place.
Napoleon considered telling him to halt, but although the actual massage hurt like hell, the muscles that Illya had worked on did feel a lot better already. "No...it's okay," he grated out. "Just...go slow."
The pressure let up infinitesimally as Kuryakin recommenced the rub down. Wracked with discomfort, Solo was convinced that the cure was as painful as the torture that had initiated the condition. Still, as soon as those purveyors of agony moved on, each tender area did feel better.
Over the years, Napoleon'd had many a massage, but few were as meticulous as the one his partner gave him. Illya approached each area with a feather light touch, gradually increasing pressure until he was kneading Solo's sore muscles like pizza dough. At the height of pressure, the experience was excruciating, the pain almost transcendental. However, the subsequent relief was equally intense.
The thorough Russian didn't miss a spot on Napoleon's body. Starting with the thick muscled shoulders, Kuryakin moved up Solo's neck, then down each arm, including hands and fingers. Illya left Napoleon's skin slick, pink and sweet scented wherever he moved.
His spine was dismantled vertebra by vertebra. The lower back and kidney areas received careful attention, the Russian exerting only the lightest pressure on the bruises one of the THRUSH thugs had left there.
Solo was stunned when his modest partner attacked his buttocks without pause. Kuryakin kneaded the flat, thick muscled globes with the same sure touch he applied to shoulder and biceps.
As more and more of his body succumbed to Kuryakin's talented tactile persuasion, a contented lull began to seep through Napoleon as he once again experienced the euphoria of physical well being. Illya's magic was such that even when the tireless Russian took on the throbbing misery that were Solo's thighs, that sense of well being didn't entirely desert him.
Always a good judge of the passage of time, Napoleon estimated that a full hour or more had gone by before Kuryakin finished with his last little toe.
Breathing deep and even, practically floating on the sensual web Illya had woven for him, it was with great reluctance that Solo muttered, "Thank you, my friend. That was incredible."
"It's not over yet," Kuryakin declared, a suppressed laugh in his voice.
"You have a whole other side, Napoleon. That is where the electrodes were attached. The muscles there will no doubt be the most sensitive."
"You sure you don't want this to stop?" Solo checked, knowing his friend must be tired. This type of deep massage was hard work, more exhausting than a work out in the gym.
"An U.N.C.L.E. agent does not stop until the job is completed," Kuryakin quoted. "We're only half done."
"Far be it from me to stand between an U.N.C.L.E. enforcer and his dedication to duty." Solo smiled, readily turning over. "Carry on, my friend." He allowed his eyes to sink shut as Kuryakin began to work on his shoulders and neck again, but from the front this time.
As Illya had surmised, the area where the electrodes had been attached were terribly sensitive to touch. But Illya steered clear of those smarting, livid marks. Dousing the contact points with the slick baby oil, the blond concentrated on the surrounding flesh, moving with inordinate care.
Wondering how Illya was liking this, Napoleon's eyes cracked open, watching the familiar features through pleasure slitted lids as Kuryakin worked. Solo was surprised by the empathic winces the Russian gave as he tackled the sore spots. It was almost as if his friend could feel Solo's pain through his fingertips.
As with the back muscles, the massage was hard going at first. The pain was unreal, eclipsing almost everything the older U.N.C.L.E. agent could recall enduring at enemy hands. Yet, eventually, Illya's fingers worked their magic here, too. Once Kuryakin left behind the red marked areas where the electrodes had done their insidious work, that luscious cocoon of warmth and well being settled around Napoleon again.
Illya's fingers took on a lambent quality as they moved to Solo's far end. Starting at the American's feet, Kuryakin carefully worked his way back up. The Russian was basically reconnoitering the territory he'd lulled into relaxation from when he'd worked the other side supple, so the discomfort was minimal here.
Napoleon sighed in open pleasure as the blond worked around his dark fuzzed knees. Illya's touch felt so good, so right...
Amazed that this fantastically repressed man could bring such joy, Solo floated along with the feelings, too much of a sensualist to question or refuse such delight. His body was thrumming with sensation, humming like a bronze strung harp as Illya's fingers played his nervous system.
Lost in the symphony of physical nirvana, it was some time before Solo became aware of trouble, coming as it did in such an enjoyable guise.
Feeling good was a way of life for Napoleon. His off duty time was spent almost entirely in pursuit of his pleasures and all of those were carnal. His body was accustomed to responding in a certain manner to physical stimuli. And Illya's massage was nothing if not stimulating. Solo's jaded nervous system gloried in the tactile attention. When the pleasures reached a certain threshold, his body responded as it had thousand of times before—with a pulsing, hungry erection.
When Napoleon recognized what was happening, every muscle he owned turned to stone. As his most embarrassing muscle was already rock hard, the reaction made little difference.
The Russian was working his inner thigh at the moment, wrecking havoc on Solo's struggle to control himself. Kuryakin's touch was level and sure, in no way tantalizing, but damn it, everyone liked being touched there. It was an ultra sensitive, erogenous region. What man wouldn't react to any touch there? Christ, didn't Illya know what he was doing... how could he not know???
Napoleon prayed that his horror would chill his ardor. But sensation had ignited channels totally inappropriate to Solo's present company. Illya's talented fingers had turned him on faster than a seasoned hooker, and there was nothing the mortified Solo could do to turn himself off again while those ignorant hands were still stroking his flesh.
"Illya, STOP!" Solo grated out, deathly embarrassed by his lack of control.
What the devil was Kuryakin going to think of this—his partner getting an erection while undergoing a totally platonic massage? The reserved Russian already believed Solo an undisciplined womanizer with less control over his libido than an alley cat in heat.
Always in the past, Napoleon had resented Kuryakin's superior attitude, but, apparently, Illya was right. His present predicament proved to the humiliated Solo that he really was without sexual scruples or control. He was as susceptible to stimulus as Pavlov's dogs.
"What's wrong?" Kuryakin looked curiously up at him.
How can he not know? Solo's mortified brain shouted out. To Napoleon, it felt as if he had a hard-on the size of a broomstick poking up at his groin. How could even someone as repressed as Kuryakin miss something like that?
Feeling his cheeks heat, Napoleon tried to explain, "I... ah... appear to be even sloppier than you believed. Forgive me. It was unintentional, I assure you."
"What are you..." The perceptive blue gaze swept Solo's form, finally focusing on the source of the American's present discomfort.
"I'm sorry, Illya. Truly..." he stammered, understanding on a visceral level that old adage of dying of embarrassment.
He heard Kuryakin swallow, then the only noise in the totally silent room was the raspy sound of their separate breaths.
The incredibly awkward moment seemed to stretch out into eternity.
Sure that his shameful lapse was going to cost him his partner's respect, Solo waited in the tense quiet for the inevitable explosion.
At last, the frozen blond released a deep breath.
Napoleon's eyes squeezed shut as his partner's hands left his thighs.
Solo was no coward, but the thought of watching the disgust the Russian must feel for him fill the face of the man whom he respected above all others was more than Napoleon could bear right now. With one momentary lapse of control, he'd ruined the finest partnership he'd ever had, as well as sacrificed one of his dearest friends. And his damn erection was still rearing its hungry little head between them, as if intent on guaranteeing Solo's complete humiliation.
Napoleon gasped in shock as the fingertips of Illya's right hand returned to lightly stroke up Solo's inner thigh, the tentative gesture seeming as unsure as the American presently felt.
"Illya?" His eyelids snapped open, his bewildered gaze focusing on Kuryakin's too pale face. Illya looked... not disgusted, not even furious, but... scared to death.
"It's all right, Napoleon," the Russian assured.
"What...ahhh..." Solo groaned as Kuryakin's moving hand firmly collected his turgid flesh.
Stunned, Napoleon could only stare speechlessly up at his partner, his entire body frozen in shock at Kuryakin's unexpected action, with one important exception—the throbbing cock Illya now held cradled in his sweaty palm.
While Napoleon struggled with his disbelief, Illya's tentative grip grew in assurance.
The experimental squeeze Kuryakin gave him turned Solo's shaft to solid stone, simultaneously forcing the breath from Solo's chest in a shocked "whoosh" of release. Then the Russian began to pump him in earnest and all thought processes ceased entirely.
The tortured ache of his abused muscles, which were smarting once again under Napoleon's present tension, was forgotten as his ascetic young partner aroused him to a heightened state of ecstacy the hedonistic Solo would have believed beyond the range of a simple hand job.
Not that there was any common or pedestrian about what Illya was doing for him. Even in his passion-dazed condition, Napoleon knew that there was nothing the least bit simple about the gift his partner was giving him.
Without a word being spoken, Kuryakin read his desires. The touch was so perfect, so pure and utterly satisfying. The pressure was exactly what Solo needed, neither too much nor too little, so carnally moving that the American was straining for breath within seconds, his flesh beaded with a sudden sweat as his hips fell into rhythm with the Russian's pumping hand.
The friction drove him higher and higher. Wild with pleasure, Napoleon gasped and grunted his way towards completion.
His wide-eyed gaze locked on Kuryakin's face, memorizing every nuance of the unfamiliar expression. He'd seen this man kill without hesitation or remorse, seen Illya tortured, sick and hurting, but never before had Solo seen his friend love. The open tenderness transforming Illya's face was near impossible to consign with Napoleon's image of his unemotional, insouciant partner. But, somehow, he sensed this was more the real Illya Kuryakin than any of those others, for, this was the man that remained when all the other masks, pretenses and fears had been stripped away.
The gentleness took years off Kuryakin's already youthful face, making Illya appear absurdly young, compellingly innocent and approachable. This was an Illya whose existence Solo had never even suspected.
As that sensitive hand brought him to the brink of completion, Napoleon knew that this was an Illya he wanted to get to know better...to know intimately.
All too soon the magic coalesced into a fiery burst of completion that blasted through Solo's entire system, short circuting every nerve ending he owned with the voltage of the sheer delight of climax. The ecstacy was devastating, leaving Napoleon's nerves as useless as the slag of melted circuitry left in a lightning storm's wake.
Wave after wave of ejaculate spurted from his shuddering body, raining down over his belly and thighs; some of it even spattering the lower part of his partner's face. Even in the grip of orgasm, Napoleon was slightly uncomfortable with his messy coming, still unsure as he was of how Illya felt about the entire event.
The silence which fell after the last spasm had run its course was absolute.
Having no idea of what he should say, Solo lay listening to the thunder of his own heart. Watching his partner's once again unreadable face, he dreaded the inevitable reaction.
Just when the tension grew too awkward to bear, Kuryakin reached out for the night table. After gathering a tissue from the nearby box, the kneeling man nonchalantly wiped the drying semen from Solo's lower belly and thighs.
Napoleon was so sensitive to this man that even that completely asexual action made him tingle. Trying to hide his response, he waited for Illya to scrub the ejaculate from where it had speckled the Russian's face.
To his utter astonishment, it was Kuryakin's pink tongue which peeked out to remove the substance. The Russian's expression was endearingly curious and intense as he sampled its flavor.
Solo was so shaken by the unexpected sensuality of the gesture that he nearly climaxed again right then and there. His breath catching in his chest, Napoleon waited for a reaction—bad or good.
As if becoming aware of Solo's observation, Illya's cheeks filled with color. Flashing Napoleon a quick nervous smile, Kuryakin reached out to collect the bedclothes from where they'd been pushed aside at the start of the massage.
"Rest now, Napoleon," Kuryakin whispered as he tucked the covers around the older man. Illya's voice was gruff with indecipherable emotion, his hand incredibly gentle as he stroked the hair back from Solo's brow.
Too overwhelmed to even consider objecting, Napoleon closed his eyes, concentrating on the tender touch. To his complete surprise, he was asleep in moments.
When Napoleon reawakened hours later, it was to find his partner comfortably ensconced in one of the horrid pea green chairs, his nose buried deep in a scientific journal. Illya hauled the ungainly tomes around the world the way another man might a pocket sized soft cover.
"Ah, hello," Solo said after a few minutes' observation, still not certain if the incredibly sensual scene thrumming through his blood was dream or memory.
"Hello. How do you feel?" The cordial tone of the Russian's reply made Solo doubt his own memories.
How could Illya be this calm? Was the entire interval fantasy?
Wondering if he'd dozed off and dreamed the entire encounter, Solo slowly answered, "Better... and confused. Did you... did we...?" Stumbling on the absurd question, he fell silent, watching that all-too-controlled face.
Kuryakin closed his book and sat up straighter in his chair. "I'm glad that you're feeling better. You must be hungry by now. I'll order dinner."
The meal and the remainder of the day passed in an odd state of suspension for Solo. He didn't know whether the pain pills or the shocking events of the morning were responsible. He felt almost as if he were in shock, oddly distanced from everything going on around him, while, at the same time, ridiculously aware of the minutest of details—such as how often Illya shifted in his chair and how many times his partner pushed his overlong hair back from his face. He seemed to recall Illya putting that hand to other uses not so long ago, but since he appeared to be the only one with any such recollection, Solo kept his mouth shut.
As the sky beyond the window gradually darkened to night, Solo found himself unconsciously tensing in anticipation of sharing the bed with his partner. Would it happen again, he nervously wondered.
The sensual tingle that shivered through him at the thought of being close to Kuryakin that way again told Solo how very much he wanted a repeat performance.
"It's growing late," Kuryakin mildly observed, closing his journal.
At last Illya had deigned to notice him. The Russian had been hiding behind that book for so many hours that Solo was beginning to fear his friend planned to spend the entire night reading.
"Yes, it must be all of 8 p.m.," Napoleon commented, a yawn destroying his effect.
The blond's smile was atypically gentle as he reminded, "The doctor did advise you to rest." Knowing better than to ask, Kuryakin wordlessly passed over another pill.
Solo accepted it in kind, washing it down with the water his partner had kept pouring into his bedside glass all day.
The silent care was characteristic of the partnership. They were both too independent to make either good nursemaids or graceful recipients of such treatment. Over the course of the years, they had fallen into the habit of watching out for each other without hovering. Yet, despite a dearth of over-demonstrative attention, Napoleon always felt better simply having his partner around when he was feeling under the weather. Illya was supportive and comforting, without being suffocating.
Finishing the water, Solo hauled himself to his feet and made his slow way to the john.
When he returned, several minutes later, Kuryakin had the bed covers pulled down and was in the act of drawing the window curtains.
Strangely nervous, Napoleon settled on his side on the double bed, watching the compact blond move. He'd always been aware of Illya's dexterity and physical adeptness, but tonight Solo was struck by the Russian's lithe grace. Kuryakin moved like a dancer, light on his feet, each motion smoothly flowing into the next. There'd been a time, not so very long ago, when Napoleon considered his reserved friend more than slightly repressed, if not downright frigid. But tonight Solo at last saw through to the inner sensuality that smoldered beneath that frosty exterior.
Even if he hadn't experienced this insight, Illya's actions earlier this afternoon would have shown Solo how wrong he'd been about his friend. Despite all outward evidence to the contrary, this man possessed a soul that was as passionate and fiery as Napoleon's own.
Mystified by his own lack of perception all these years, Solo waited for his partner to finish.
At last Kuryakin was done.
Napoleon cursed the other's cool. The blond came to the bed as calmly as ever. Illya seemed completely unmoved out wardly as he stripped down to his underwear.
Solo had the unusual experience of eyeing another man's crotch to try to ascertain his partner's degree of sexual arousal. It was a weird feeling, checking out another guy that way... weird, and ultimately disappointing.
Although Kurakin's snowy white briefs outlined his generously endowed privates, the cotton underpants revealed no indication that Illya was the least bit excited... whereas Solo himself was doing everything he could to keep his own bothersome erection hidden beneath the covers.
The situation was more than embarrassing. It was utterly unnerving. Napoleon found himself in the unusual position of doubting his own mind.
Had it really happened at all? And if it hadn't, what in the name of God made him dream up such a bizarre fantasy about Illya, of all people?
If asked yesterday, Napoleon would have sworn that Kuryakin would die before touching him that way. Sometimes it was all Solo could do to imagine the tightly repressed Russian doing it with a woman. The idea of Illya Kuryakin initiating a sexual encounter with his very male partner, who was incidentally also his immediate superior, was so ludicrous as to be preposterous. It just couldn't have happened.
Despite the reality of his memories, Solo decided that it must have been a dream. Not even the Ice King Kuryakin could behave this matter-of-factly were the incident anything but fantasy.
"Is there anything else that you need?" Illya asked, his hand poised on the lamp switch, a question in his eves.
Confused, it took Solo a moment to interpret the silent inquiry. What Illya was really asking him was why Solo was still sitting up in bed, instead of comfortably settled on his pillows.
"No..." Napoleon denied, still slightly dazed, "...I'm fine."
His cheeks self-consciously warming, Solo settled beneath the blankets.
After switching off the lamp, Kuryakin lay down beside him, the Russian venting a weary sigh as he relaxed.
"Good night, Napoleon," Kuryakin mumbled, turning away from him on his side.
"Good night," Solo replied, hoping his bewilderment didn't show.
To the American's intense frustration, Illya was deeply asleep within minutes.
Never so physically conscious of another, Napoleon lay there trying to convince his body to relax. But Illya's tantalizing presence filled his senses. The soapy clean scent of Kuryakin's flesh and the body warmth seeping across the bare inches of mattress that separated them made sleep near impossible. To his consternation, Solo even found the rhythm of the Russian's light snoring arousing. Predictably enough, it was hours before the sexually charged Solo was able to drift off.
Once he did achieve slumber, Napoleon's dreams were filled with disturbing images. He was trapped in a confused tapestry of desire and fear. In it, Napoleon once again found himself strapped to that table in Gurnius' lab while a Nazi torturer bearing Illya's features gleefully spun dials to wrack Solo's body with agony. Suddenly, his tormentor would stop and turn off the machine. Then the Nazi Illya would undo the zipper of Solo's trousers and proceed to pleasure his bound captive until the American exploded all over himself. But once Solo came, the Nazi would give a mirthless smile that never reached his cold blue eyes and immediately turn on the electric shock again, flooding his helpless prisoner with even more pain, as if in punishment of the pleasure he'd taken.
Trapped in the images, Napoleon didn't know what was worse—fearing the sadist's torture or desiring the physical pleasure that same hand could bring him. Unable to break free of the cycle, Solo tossed in his sleep, moaning in his distress, "No...Illya...please...stop, please..." Even in his dreams, Napoleon felt shame for his weakness.
It was the naked worry in the familiar voice that pierced his consciousness, that and the healthy shake Kuryakin gave him.
"Wha..?" Solo gasped in shock as he came awake in the dark hotel room. The concern pinching the Russian's night pale features alerted him to what was going on.
"You were dreaming," Kuryakin explained, his clipped tone revealing the extent of the guilt he still felt.
To his disgust, Solo found that he was still afraid of this man. Even awake and knowing who Illya was, Napoleon didn't seem able to control his shaking body, not with the dreams so fresh in his mind.
"Yes...well, I..." Solo stammered, struggling to get a grip on himself.
"It is...what happened to you in Field Marshall Gurnius' lab that is troubling you so?" The soft tone was very different from Kuryakin's usual unemotional approach to life.
Solo gave a reluctant nod, wishing that he could bluff his way out of this. Illya was guilty enough over what he'd been forced to do without having a front row seat to Solo's night traumas.
"It appears that I might have strained our friendship beyond reparation," the blond whispered, his gaze slipping away from Solo's like a cornered wild creature.
"Nonsense," Napoleon rallied. "It's just..."
"You are shaking like a leaf, Napoleon. You won't pretend to tell me that is a normal reaction this long after a mission."
"You're right. It is strange. Far worse has been done to me. I don't know why this should bother me so, but...?"
"Don't you? Napoleon, I am the one you rely on to guard your back. Perhaps the one man you trust implicitly. My actions in that lab yesterdayhave endangered that fragile relationship, if not destroyed it completely..."
"No," Solo instinctively protested, "I still trust you, Illya. That hasn't changed. It's just...bad dreams. They will fade in time."
"Yes, in time."
The sadness in that soft refrain sliced into Solo's conscience. "It will get better, my friend. You'll see," Napoleon promised.
"That is what I should be telling you," the Russian replied with a touch of his normal dry urbanity.
Smiling, Napoleon turned on his side to face his partner, throwing a companionable arm across the slender chest. "So tell me later when I wake you again."
As the deep, calming breath Solo released ruffled through his partner's mussed blond hair, it belated occurred to the older agent how close they were now lying together. Heads sharing the same pillow, their faces inches apart, Solo's right arm and leg thrown across Kuryakin's body...they were as comfortable with the intimacy as lovers of long standing.
To Solo's surprise, Illya didn't seem particularly disturbed by the liberties the American was taking. Normally, his scientific friend was almost phobic about being touched...by anyone other than his partner. With a mental start, Napoleon abruptly realized that it had been years since Kuryakin had frozen him out for accidental touches or rejected friendly gestures that the Russian had once squirmed away from.
To the contrary, Illya was often the one to initiate the contact. These days the Russian would often reach out to steady him, take Napoleon's arm to cross a dangerous intersection or simply stand very close to Napoleon, far closer than most men felt comfortable standing next to another fellow.
Puzzling what all this might mean in light of this afternoon's intimate exchange, Solo slowly drifted back to sleep.
The next day Napoleon awoke feeling remarkably better. After a light breakfast in their room, the pair decided to spend the day taking in San Rico's hot spots, such as they were.
Napoleon was surprised by the burst of resentment he experienced when their lovely young reporter friend also chose to accompany them. It was with no small amount of discomfort that Solo realized that he'd wanted to spend the day alone with his partner...for reasons which he'd rather not examine too closely.
As was the Russian's habit with all cultural outings, Kuryakin enthusiastically threw himself into the tour, absorbing as much about San Rico as was humanly possible. A small guide book in hand, the slender blond acted as their tour director, showing Miss Cook and Napoleon part of the area with which most natives were doubtless unfamiliar.
By the time the three returned to the hotel that evening, both of the Russian's companions were dragging behind.
"Should we stop for dinner now?" Kuryakin questioned as Miss Cook and Solo all but limped into the hotel lobby, the two pausing before the restaurant more from lack of energy than hunger.
The eager light in those incredible crystalline blue eves told Solo that his partner was famished. Illya had really enjoyed their expedition today. The blond was still vibrant with energy, his skin almost glowing with excitement...highly desirable, Solo realized with a start.
"Ah, no, guv. I'm just going to bed. That last hike up the mountain nearly finished me," Teri Cook tiredly refused. Her leopard spotted go-go dancer outfit hadn't exactly been the proper attire for a day's hard touring. The fashionable set was covered with dust and grass stains, much the same as the two U.N.C.L.E. agents' suits.
"But the view was worth the trip; was it not?" Illya inquired.
"Yeah, sure was. Now if only I'd had my camera. Ah, well..." With a weary sigh she brightened her smile. "I'm all done in, lads. I'm off for a shower and a kip."
"Doesn't sound bad to me," Solo rallied, more for appearance's sake than out of any real interest. His muscles were hurting almost as badly as they had when he'd staggered in here two nights ago. "Want some company?"
"Sorry, luv. I wouldn't be much fun tonight," Miss Cook denied.
"I sincerely doubt that," Solo purred, watching out of the corner of his eye how his partner's face had assumed an expressionless mask at this familiar interplay. Interesting.
"Good night, gentlemen." Her bright, Cockney laugh lit the lobby as the reporter made a bee line for the stairs before either man could protest.
Not that the American was exactly disappointed by the turn of events. He'd wanted to get his partner alone all day.
"Ah, well, it appears it is just we two," Solo said without nearly the amount of regret he usually, felt when a young lady refused his dinner invitation.
"Yes, I suppose that you'll have to make do with me," Kuryakin commented rather stiffly.
This was not an unusual reaction for Illya to have to Solo's chronic flirting. Napoleon had always assumed that his proper young friend disapproved of his womanizing. Only now did Solo begin to suspect what might actually, be motivating Kuryakin's almost catty responses to these common scenes.
So, instead of voicing some subtle putdown or joking about Illya's having the wrong equipment for Solo to 'make do', Napoleon patted his partner on the back and replied in all seriousness, "I couldn't ask for better company, my friend. Come on, let's eat. You look famished."
The Russian blinked, seeming almost taken aback by Solo's response. For a moment, Illya simply stood there, with such a look of endearing surprise on his face that Napoleon wanted to hug him for it. Then it cleared into a smile of blinding sweetness that warmed Solo down to the tips of his toes.
Christ, Napoleon thought as his followed his partner into the dining room, how could he have overlooked what was going on with Illya for so many years? One small compliment and a little attention from Solo, and the man was shining brighter than a lighthouse beacon.
Could Illya really want him that much, that way?
Consumed by these and similar thoughts at dinner, Solo sought to investigate the possibility. Doing so consciously for the first time, Napoleon turned his charm on his partner during the meal. Careful not to stumble into any sexual innuendo and leading lines that characterized his usual dinner dates, Solo none-the-less sought to charm the pants off his friend—figuratively speaking, for the moment.
It was nearly frightening how quickly Kuryakin fell under his spell. Solo counted his success in the number of smiles and open laughs he gained from his sober young friend. With heart-wrenching ease, Napoleon had his partner convulsed with laughter by the time they d finished dessert.
"Napoleon, please, enough. I will be ill if you continue," Kuryakin begged.
"You think I'm joking, but that's really what happened, Illya. THRUSH was doing imprinting experimentation on their own men and it backfired. It was one of my first assignments in Section 2. When U.N.C.L.E. finally penetrated that compound, half the THRUSH men were down on their hands and knees pecking through the grass in front of the lab like a flock of Canadian geese."
"You are making this up," Kuryakin accused, teary eyed from laughing.
"No, it's true. I swear. You can ask Mr. Waverly when we get back."
"So, what happened to the men?" Illya asked skeptically.
"Most of them were placed in a high level security sanitarium upstate. Every November it's awful exciting up there, though."
"Yes, they have to keep the THRUSH men locked inside all month. The first year they didn't and they had six men with broken limbs," Solo reported.
"Truing to escape?"
Playing the line for all that it was worth, Napoleon replied in deadly earnestness, "No, trying to fly south."
Illya's chuckle threatened to bleed back into open laughter. "Napoleon, admit it. You made that story up."
"No, it's true. Scout's honor," he swore.
Before the Russian's open mouth could voice his disbelief, their waiter interrupted. "More cafe, senores?" he asked, hovering over them with a huge silver coffee pot.
"No, the bill, por favor," Solo denied.
"I'm glad we did this, Napoleon," the Russian commented as their waiter took Solo's payment to the register to be sorted out. "It has been a most enjoyable day."
"Yes, it has. Hasn't it? We should do this more often," Solo replied. He allowed a questioning note to slip into his voice as his hand, which was reaching for his coffee cup, brushed against Kuryakin's, seemingly be accident.
Intrigued, Solo watched his partner's fair cheeks fill with color. "I would like that," Kuryakin agreed.
"So would I. I'd like it very much." Napoleon let his gaze show what else he'd like, then calmly retrieved both his hand and coffee cup.
The nervous gulp Kuryakin gave, clearly audible even at the other side of the table, told Solo that his silent message had been correctly interpreted.
The next move was up to Illya.
This was a new game to Solo. He wasn't sure of the rules...or even if there were rules. But the prize was sitting across the table from him in all its golden glory.
Napoleon'd had a mere taste of the pleasure that was on offer here and was hungry for more. Solo didn't know when he'd consciously decided it, but sometime between yesterday's confusion and this morning's frustration, he'd determined to make this prize his own.
But seducing a man, any man, was light years outside of Solo's experience. Trying to win U.N.C.L.E.'s infamous Ice King, the oh-so-deadly, ultra-repressed Kuryakin seemed beyond imagining. Yet, Napoleon was determined to have him.
Still, it would be a very different game Solo played here than with his usual conquests.
Illya was the ultimate challenge...and, perhaps, the ultimate prize. To win the heart of a man who eschewed all emotion, to meld that icy exterior and make Kuryakin steam, to make Illya beg for his touch...it would require careful handling.
Instinct told Napoleon that his partner would balk at too open a campaign. Heavy come-ons, leading lines...they were all too crude for Illya. This complex blend of the ascetic and sensual demanded a refinement and subtlety to which Solo was unaccustomed. To win Illya, Napoleon knew he was going to have to circumvent his partners scientific mind, the overlord which ruled his partner with an iron fist.
But how? Kuryakin wasn't even able to escape that jealous master. The heart trapped behind that icy wall of logic was rarely allowed out.
Stumped, Napoleon tried to figure out how he'd won through yesterday. Somehow, without even trying, he'd gotten past that scientific mind.
The key to the puzzle was a long time in emerging but when it surfaced, Napoleon grasped its unlikely appearance like a lifeline.
"You've grown very quiet," Kuryakin commented as they climbed the stairs.
Thinking that he knew what had done the trick yesterday, Solo looked down at his dusty shoes before reluctantly admitting, "A large number of my muscles are making their unhappiness known to me."
"We overdid ourselves today;" the Russian replied in a quiet tone. And, as Solo knew it would, the guilt was there.
"I'm sure that a hot shower will help," Solo assured.
As soon as they were in their room, Illya insisted that Solo have another hot bath. His discomfort in no way faked; although Napoleon had played it up for all that it was worth, he was happy to comply.
When Solo exited the steamy bath twenty minutes later, Illya was seated in one of the horrible green chairs, sipping a large, clear drink that Solo knew was straight vodka. The blond had removed his dark suit jacket and was now sitting there in his rumpled, dusty, tieless shirt. Illya looked worn, more than slightly guilt-ridden and highly desirable.
Shamed by how ruthless a manipulator he actually was, Solo paused in the doorway, almost regretful enough to abandon his plan.
The Russian glanced up at his towel clad partner. "Napoleon, do you feel any better?"
Now was the time to cheerfully say "yes," get into his clothes and suggest they go explore the night spots. It was also the only opportunity Solo was ever going to have to explore this new game. To his intense shame, self-interest won out.
Giving a noncommittal shrug, Solo grumped, "Some," before making his way to the bed with just the right touch of exaggerated caution.
Solo could feel the tension in the air behind him as his partner monitored his slow progress.
"Is there anything I can do?" Kuryakin asked, his guilt once again a palpable presence.
Hating himself, but getting excited at the same time, Solo mouthed the denial convention demanded of him. "No, I'll be all right."
The first move had to be Illya's.
The silence stretched behind him.
"Napoleon, would...would you like another massage?"
Solo stopped at the nervous offer.
Carefully blanking all traces of triumph from his expression, Solo turned to face his white-faced partner. Game, set and match.
Illya looked scared to death. His complexion was ashen, his eyes wide, so blue they hurt.
"If you wouldn't mind," the American demurred.
"No...no, of course not," Kuryakin practically stammered.
"Thank you." Turning back to the bed, Solo slowly removed the towel banding his waist. He could feel the Russian's gaze running over his bare flesh like an electric current as he stood poised naked there a moment longer than absolutely necessary before lying face down on the bed.
His ribs barely ached at all today. As he settled his front more comfortably, there was next to no pain.
Solo could feel Kuryakin's hesitation as the Russian approached the bed. Illya paused to gulp down his vodka, giving a helpless choke afterward. Then he reached for the bottle of baby oil that had been sitting on the night table all day.
Napoleon groaned in open delight as those powerful hands with their sticky burden of sweet oil began to work on his shoulders.
It was very much like yesterday. Initially, Illya's touch was very uncertain, highly tentative until instinct kicked in and the Russian forgot to be self-conscious. Then, the rub-down became pure heaven.
The kneading didn't hurt nearly as much as it had the previous day. In fact, it hurt no more than any other massage done for pure pleasure would.
That wasn't to say that it wasn't effective.
Solo was hard as a rock before Kuryakin's hands had moved half-way down his back. By the time Illya was actually working on Solo's thighs and buttocks, the older man was grunting in open need.
"There. That's done it," Illya huskily exclaimed, apparently realizing that Solo's moans had little to do with pain. The very tone of the Russian's voice, part excitement, part fear, told Napoleon that his partner was trying to back out before things got too hot to handle again.
Solo, having passed that point himself some time shortly after he'd stepped out of the bathroom, was having none of it.
"Aren't you forgetting?" Napoleon's aroused voice was unrecognizable to even his own ears. "There's a whole other side."
With that, Solo rolled over. The erection he'd been pressing into the mattress' unyielding hardness sprang to abrupt attention.
Napoleon heard Kuryakin's gasp, felt the wall of shock and the Russian's growing impulse to bolt.
Before Illya could draw his next breath, Napoleon reached out to capture a baby oil smeared wrist. "Finish it," he throatily commanded, leading Illya's boneless hand to his own pulsing cock.
Napoleon wrapped the nerveless fingers around his shaft, waiting until they curled around him of their own accord and tightened their grip before he released his hold.
His gaze locked on the shell-shocked blond, Solo silently persuaded his friend to continue.
Like a man in a dream, Illya swallowed hard and began to pump the organ he held.
The fair lids swept down to shield the Russian's gaze, his cheeks coloring with either embarrassment or excitement—Solo couldn't tell which. Drawing a deep breath, Kuryakin seemed to find an internal rhythm for his stroke, his free hand reaching out to tentatively explore Solo's balls and the thick, springy pubic hair there.
Grunting, Napoleon reached for this partner's shoulders, wanting Illya on the bed here beside him so that he could return some of this delightful fondling.
He met with surprising resistance. After a momentary struggle, Kuryakin's left hand abandoned Solo's testicles to push Napoleon's hands away.
"Please, I want to touch you…" Solo pleaded.
"No." Kuryakin's whisper sounded almost choked. "It's not right for you."
"Illya?" he pleaded even though Solo's game plan demanded that it be the Russian who begged for his touch.
"Ssssh, relax, Napoleon, enjoy…" And then, before Solo could make further protest, the blond's head lowered over his groin.
In the course of his lurid past, Solo'd had better blow jobs than the one his untutored partner gave him, but none had moved on the same emotional level Kuryakin's did. With a sense of stunned disbelief, he watched Illya's soft pink tongue tip hesitantly touch his cockhead.
As the resulting sensations blasted through him, Solo could see his friend frown as he sampled the flavor, seeming to decide if he liked it enough to continue.
"More," Solo groaned, aroused to fever pitch by the erotic image of his insouciant partner performing this highly intimate service for him. His hips arched towards the hesitant blond in instinctive need.
Once again, the uncertain tongue tip returned, playing back and forth across the slip of his cock and its spongy head, filling Napoleon's world with unequalled delight. The sensations were sublime, the pleasure this repressed man gave him almost unreal in its intensity.
Whimpering helplessly under the sweet torture, Solo clawed the sheets and begged for more.
When the joy became too much to bear, he grabbed hold of his partner's head. Burying his fingers deep in the exquisite fall of over-long blond hair, Napoleon forced his friend's head down where he wanted it.
Left with no choice, Kuryakin's mouth opened to receive the cock that thrust up at him.
Napoleon couldn't help the wildness of his thrust, so sharp was the need driving him.
Illya choked at that first, rough intrusion and instinctively pulled back.
Not wanting to hurt, Solo let his partner go, ignoring the demands his greedy flesh was making.
Even as he released his hold, Napoleon knew his partner might refuse to continue. The Russian might, in fact, get up and walk away from him.
Solo read that very thought in the Russian's magnetic gaze, saw that, as much as Illya wanted this, he was also afraid of it. Whether it were the sex, Solo himself, or a combination of the two, that fear was real.
Shaking with need, Solo's lust demanded that he grab that over-long blond hair and force Illya down, violently make Illya complete what he'd started yesterday afternoon. The compulsion to do just that was nearly impossible to ignore.
Their connection at that point appeared to be nearly telepathic, the same type of wordless communication that operated between them on a case. The apprehension in the Russian's strained features and wary gaze told Napoleon that his partner knew exactly what impulses were raging through him.
To Napoleon's bewilderment, his partner didn't flee.
As Solo reached for him, Kuryakin's eyes sank closed again and his adam's apple bobbed in near palpable dread of what he feared was about to be done to him, but he didn't avoid the American's dangerous need. Kuryakin stood fast. As much as anything Napoleon knew about his partner was telling him that the Russian longed to escape, Illya did not bolt and abandon him here on the edge.
It was that knowledge that allowed him to touch his partner with the gentleness this tender man deserved. He lightly ran the knuckles of his left index finger over Kuryakin's cheek bone, down the baby smooth slope of cheek until his friend found the strength to open his eyes and look at him.
The trepidant blond appeared braced for scorn or anger, and was for once achingly vulnerable to either.
Stunned, Napoleon realized that Illya was even less familiar with the rules of this game that he. In fact, Kuryakin didn't know the game at all. The lack of experience was gaping and unmistakable.
"Do…whatever feels comfortable," Solo grated out over his raging, base instincts. "Just…don't leave me like this…please…"
Compassion, or something Solo dared not name, softened Kuryakin's face. With a shaky smile, Illya reached for him.
Napoleon watched as his friend gathered his hungry shaft into his palm, struck by the contrast between the dark purple of his cock and the absolute white of his partner's skin. The sensation of that fist closing around him was nothing short of exquisite.
As Kuryakin recommenced a steady pumping, Solo's breathing became more and more irregular. His nerves were on fire when that fair head lowered again.
This time Napoleon was sucked in without hesitation. The resulting sensations were unreal. Nothing was supposed to feel that good…
Igniting like a stick of primed TNT, Solo's reality exploded with pleasure. No sooner did that hot mouth close around his length and that wet tongue make him welcome as best it knew how, then Napoleon was climaxing. The powerful convulsions of pure delight seemed to be milked from the very depths of his soul.
Even as he came, Solo was aware of how ill prepared his partner was for this. Illya gave a small strangled sound as Napoleon's seed flooded his throat, choking before he gained control.
After that initial discomfort, Kuryakin began to suck in earnest.
Reeling under the ecstatic convulsions which continued to rock his body, Solo watched as Illya awkwardly drank down spurt after spurt of the no-doubt vile-tasting by-product. The Russian's normally guarded features were strangely gentled, intent in their desire to please…soft as they performed this selfless act of untainted love.
Love? His stoic, unemotional partner?
Shocked by the thought, even as he floated in the well being of aftermath, Napoleon recognized that there was nothing else it could be.
Illya, in love with him?
It was a startling development, one Napoleon wasn't quite sure how to deal with.
"Ah, Illya…so good…" he sighed when his partner eventually released his now flaccid organ.
He caught Kuryakin's face between his palms as the blond lifted his head from Solo's groin.
The naked uncertainty Solo read in the handsome features raked through his sleepy contentment.
"I…" Kuryakin began and faltered, swallowing hard, his cheeks going scarlet.
Solo drowned that awkward opening with a kiss.
The Russian seemed so shocked by the action that he wasn't even able to reject it.
Feeling as if he were attempting to seduce a mannequin, Solo put everything he was into that kiss. The lingering passion, the confusion, the newly discovered desire…all of it tempered with a unique tenderness Napoleon had never experienced before.
Something about this self-sufficient loner got behind his guards as no willing woman ever had. He wanted to hold Illya, touch him, do things he'd never dreamed of before. What he really desired was to take this man into his heart and make Illya his own, the shocked American admitted.
Illya's groan of protest was lost between their mouths as Napoleon's tongue pushed its way past the startled lips.
Solo fully expected to be violently repelled for this, but Kuryakin made no effort to push him off.
Meeting no rejection, Solo fed feverishly at his partner's succulent mouth. Degree by slow degree, shock gave way to active participation, Illya's mouth melting against him all at once, returning his ardor. To Solo's intense arousal, he could taste the sour remnants of his own semen in the other man's saliva.
"Mmmm…" Napoleon sighed when breath became a necessity. His flat palm dreamily stroked down the front of Kuryakin's hopelessly rumpled shirt. He could feel Illya's left nipple, rock hard and erect, feel the mad pounding of the Russian's heart below it.
"What of you, my friend?" Solo silkily murmured. "What would you like? I could return the favor…" he heard himself casually offer, even while he wondered if he'd really have the nerve to attempt it.
Illya blinked as if surprised to find himself here, in this situation with Napoleon. "That is…not necessary."
"What do you mean? You can't be saying you don't want…" Solo stammered.
"I'm afraid it's a moot point," the Russian softly denied, a hint of a smile playing about his kiss reddened lips.
"Huh?" Solo brilliantly enquired. "I'd…like to please you."
"You have already pleasured me to capacity," Kuryakin reported.
"You mean you…came?" Solo gasped, startled. "Just from…that?"
"Just?" Illya chuckled, his eyes so bright they almost seemed to be glowing. "There is nothing 'just' about you, Napoleon Solo."
The senior agent for once found himself speechless, humbled by the compliment his partner had paid him.
"I feel I should…" Solo began, the curiosity and soft indulgence in Kuryakin's strong features sent an unexpected quiver through him. "…thank you, my friend."
At Solo's use of the word "friend," a nearly imperceptible tension seemed to lift from Illya's face. "You are most welcome, Napoleon." The pale hand stroked Solo's brow, lightly petting the American's temples and cheeks in an oddly cherishing gesture of open affection. "Sleep now, my friend."
A sleepy smile of contentment played across his lips as Napoleon followed the near hypnotic suggestion and finally gave himself over to the exhaustion that had been plaguing him since their sight-seeing expedition. As he drifted off, it seemed to Solo that he could feel the Russian's dry, soft lips brush over his closed eyelids.
So good, so right…
When Solo opened his eyes a million years later, after a night of only sweet, sensual dreams, it was to find the other side of the bed empty and bright sunlight streaming in through the open window.
Ridiculously panicked, Napoleon sat up and stared around the room.
"Good morning," Illya greeted from the familiar green chair. The Russian was fully dressed. Both their packed suitcases rested beside the armchair.
"Hi," the sleepy Solo replied, feeling absurdly shy under that impenetrable blue gaze. Although it wasn't icy, there wasn't anything particularly welcoming about it.
In no doubt this morning about what had occurred last night, Solo watched his friend shift uncomfortably in his seat. When it became obvious that Illya once again planned to make no reference to what had passed between them, Napoleon asked in a carefully controlled tone, "So how do you want to play this?"
"There is no 'this' to play, Napoleon," the blond replied with equal care, as if handling dangerous explosives.
"No?" Pleased, Napoleon saw the Russian gulp at his own challenge. He sat up, making sure the sheets kept him covered.
The silent accusation in his stare apparently had at least as much effect on his partner as it did with THRUSH prisoners, for Illya abandoned his bluff. The blond's cheeks flushed, his eyes lowering almost self-consciously. "For the sake of both our careers, there can be nothing more, Napoleon. Surely, you must see the necessity of restraint?"
Unable to believe how much the sensible rejection hurt, Solo stiffly demanded, "Then why start? And please don't pretend that first afternoon was just an accident. You knew what you were doing when you touched me there, didn't you? The truth, Illya!"
Kuryakin's complexion had gone whiter than the sheets shielding the American's groin. After a moment's hesitation, the blond gave a reluctant nod. "Yes, I knew."
"But why? If you didn't want…?" Solo tried to make sense of this insanity. He felt as if his parnter had just given him a taste of heaven and then purposefully slammed the gates on him.
As much as it hurt, Solo knew this man well enough to trust that Kuryakin was not simply playing games with him. As incomprehensible as Illya's actions had been, Napoleon knew that there had to be some kind of logical reason for them.
The lowered head didn't rise, Kuryakin seeming to address his confession to his newly shined shoe tops. "You were not conscious of it, but…every time I came near you after we returned from Gurnius' lab, you flinched from my touch. A friendship might survive such strain, but a partnership such as ours cannot. Your subconscious couldn't help but equate my touch with pain. It occurred to me that if I could replace that memory with pleasant recollections, the situation would mend itself, so I offered the massage. I never imagined that you would enjoy it in…that way. But when you did…respond sexually…"
Enraged by the cold-blooded, calculated seduction, Solo prodded, "Yes?"
"I made use of your sensuality. Sexual release has always been so therapeutic for you that I thought…to capitalize upon it. However, I failed to include certain…emotional factors in my calculations." Shadowed with genuine remorse, the incredible blue eyes hesitantly met his own. "I am sorry, Napoleon. I meant only to heal."
It was infuriating to think that his best friend would play with his emotions this way, as theough he were some lab specimen.
Ready to rip into the presumptious bastard, Solo took a closer look at his partner's face. The deathly pallor told Napoleon that he wasn't the only one who'd been hurt here. Abruptly, he recalled how Illya had come that night, without Solo's ever once touching the other man. That helpless reaction bespoke a degree of involvement that eclipsed even Solo's own.
Napoleon quickly recalculated the role he'd cast his partner in. Kuryakin wasn't some heartless scientist with ice blood in his veins. To the contrary, Illya was more like a school kid with a science project too advanced for his level, a kid who'd been hideously burned by his own misplaced intentions and damnable curiosity.
Kuryakin was sitting there now in total disgrace, looking as if he were facing a death sentence.
With difficulty, Napoleon tried to swallow his anger. "You're not a child, Illya. Surely you must have realized what you were doing?"
"I…didn't think it would mean anything…with me…I thought…" Kuryakin shrugged. "It is painfully obvious that I wasn't thinking at all, Napoleon. You have every right to be…incensed with me."
Solo studied the downbent head, the last of his anger melting. After a moment, he asked in a less judgmental tone, "For what—wanting to bring me pleasure?"
Illya's chin snapped up, his eyes flashing with self-recrimination. "I have hopelessly complicated our working relationship. You will never forget what I did to you here in this room." After a deep, weighty pause, the Russian reluctantly confessed, "Neither will I."
"That's good," Solo responded, much more his normal self.
"Good?" His partner sounded horrified.
"Being forgettable is not something at which I've ever worked." Solo smiled, desperately trying to lighten the mood.
"This is no joking matter, Napoleon," Kuryakin snapped.
"No, it's not. With your misguided intentions you opened a kettle of fish here that we're not going to be able to put the lid on and just forget about. For the record—I enjoyed...what we shared in that room." Catching those brilliant eyes and holding them fast, Solo hammered what might be the final nails into his coffin by being totally honest. "I enjoyed you. I'd like the opportunity to explore his further, but... obviously you're not comfortable with that idea...yet."
"Napoleon," Kuryakin nervously warned, visibly uncomfortable with what the American might say next.
Only Illya Kuryakin would stand firm against the irretrievable and try to hold back the flood waters once the dam walls had crumbled.
Having anticipated nothing else, Solo simply smiled. To his way of thinking, this particular genie had been let out of its bottle two days ago and he had no desire whatsoever to see it stuffed back. "That's all right, Illya. You may not believe it, but I can be a very patient man when I have to be. You're worth the wait."
"The wait?" The Russian seemed nearly mesmerized by whatever what was in Solo's dark eyes.
"You don't seriously believe this is over, do you?" Solo softly questioned, genuinely curious as to what his often enigmatic young friend was thinking.
"Napoleon, for the sake of both our careers, this must never happen again," Kuryakin insisted.
"You're completely right," Solo agreed. "It shouldn't. But it will. Count on it."
Reading naked anxiety in this normally unshakable man's gaze, Napoleon took sympathy on him. "It's all right, Illya. We'll play by your rules. You can call the shots. For now."
"This will not happen again," the Russian vowed.
"Maybe, but that's up to you, my friend. When you change your mind, I'll be right beside you," Napoleon promised.
"Your egotism is excelled only by your arrogance," Kuryakin snapped, so furious his lips were lined with white, he'd pinched them closed so tight. "I will wait for you downstairs. Do hurry. We have a plane to catch."
The Russian was half-way to the door when Solo softly called his name in a bedroom voice. "Illya?"
Kuryakin froze, but didn't turn to face him. "Yes?"
"Any time you're ready, I'm game. I won't play dirty, but I won't make this easy for you."
His challenge cast and accepted by the imperceptible stiffening of the other's spine, Kuryakin glared blue ice at him over his shoulder. "I expected nothing else. It will not happen again, Napoleon. I will see you downstairs."
Exercising the better part of valor, Kuryakin cleared the battlefield, leaving Solo to bathe and dress before beginning this new and exciting game.