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. NC-17 for sexual situations.
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. :-)
After one whole quart of brandy
Like a daisy, I'm awake
With no Bromo-Seltzer handy
I don't even shake
Men are not a new sensation
I've done pretty well I think
But this half-pint imitation
Put me on the blink
--Ella Fitzgerald, "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered"
The bar had been a mistake, and Illya wasn't too proud to admit it, even if only to himself. Not because of the singer, who was purring Ella Fitzgerald covers in a throaty alto, and not because of the piano player, who was more than adequate. The beer was cold, the pretzels salty, and Illya had had just enough of both to lean his chair back into the dark corner he'd appropriated and let unwonted relaxation unknot his shoulders.
It wasn't the singer.
It was what she sang.
The girl wasn't up to Napoleon's standards of beauty, it was true. But she had flashing eyes, and an uninhibited manner of throwing her head back, and if she was a bit wide in the hips, she could sing.
Illya eyed her over the top of his glass, considering his chances.
If only she'd sing something other than the Ella. It was making the soles of his feet itch. More, it was making his palms itch, and not to hold the horn that sat untouched on the floor beside his chair. It was almost one am, and at the stroke of that magic hour the regular musicians would break up and move out onto the floor. And the club's patrons, variously skilled, would drag out their instruments and construct a jam.
If only she'd stop singing those songs that crept under his skin, prickling like a fish-hook, and reminded him of the things that he could never have. "Men are not a new sensation," Illya sang under his breath. "I've done pretty well I think—" He glanced down at the tabletop and shook his head.
Get over it, Illya Nikolaievech. Oh, if only it were so easy. He ran one finger around the collar of his turtleneck and frowned. The singer caught his eye and winked. She had a lovely mouth, under all that lacquer. White, even, American teeth, full lips, a throat that swelled like a dove's when she threw her head back and arched into her song.
Illya winked back, broadly enough to be seen through the gloom. His reward was a dazzling smile and a promising twist of her hips as she sauntered away.
He stroked the case of his horn with the palm of his hand. He already knew he'd be taking her up on it.
Sometimes, the devil you didn't know was preferable to the devil you did.
She rolled over in the darkness and laid her hand flat against his chest, tracing a tickling line through the sweat cooling on his belly. Her teeth and eyes glistened in the shadows, in the light of the street far below. Her breath was slowing a little, but her hands told him she wasn't nearly done with him. Bold, he thought, as she kissed him under the line of his jaw.
"You play that horn pretty well, for a white boy. What's her name?"
"Her who?" Illya asked, turning on his side, propped on his elbow. He knotted his fingers in the ironed lambswool of her hair and kissed the dark silk of her throat. She smelled of Chanel #5 and cold cream; he was pleased that she'd scrubbed her makeup away and come to bed in nothing but perfume.
Perfume, and now the perfume of her sweat and her sex. Her breasts were soft and heavy, the curve of her belly womanly and strong, her thighs as plush as pillows. Even in darkness, there was no way his hands could mistake her for what he craved, and he was glad. So very, very glad.
If he thought about it hard enough, he could probably even remember her name.
"Whoever you're pining for, Illya with the English horn," she said, as he stroked the sleek satin length of her thighs. "Is she the one goes with that ring you're wearing?"
"No," Illya said, and kissed her gorgeous mouth. "The one who goes with the ring is dead—"
The jazz singer smiled against his lips. "Mine too," she answered. "But I never got a ring out of him."
"You should have had ten."
Her eyes knew everything in the darkness. She drew him atop her again. He wasn't quite ready, yet, so quickly, but the magic of her nails stroking slowly up and down the length of his back was a remedy, and her mouth was ripe for kissing in the interim. "You shouldn't say things like that," she said against his throat, while he reached down to his pants on the floor and fumbled a rubber out of the pocket. "A girl might mistake you for honest intentions."
They slept curled up like kittens, more carelessness on his part, and then she sent him home before the sun rose and told him to use the door into the parking garage so her landlady wouldn't see him leave. He didn't give her his phone number and she didn't offer hers. He read her name off the card by the buzzer on the way out. Vida Lawrence. Of course.
He showered before work, beating Napoleon in by half an hour, but he wore the same jacket he had the night before, liking the heady, almost astringent smell that clung to it. He was already bent over reports when his partner arrived in their shared office; he felt Napoleon's presence like a hand on the back of his neck. "Good morning!"
"You're obscenely chipper—" and then Napoleon paused, one hand on the just-closed door, his brow crinkling as Illya glanced over. "Was Denise from steno just here?"
"Nobody's been in the office today but me." Illya lowered his gaze to his typewriter again, fingers flying.
"—I thought I smelled her perfume."
"It's on my coat." Illya didn't look up.
"Illya. For shame. Denise is happily married." The line between his brows deepened.
"Denise," Illya answered, "is hardly the only woman in New York City who wears Chanel."
Napoleon turned in the door, eyebrows arching. "Out on a school night?"
"I sat in on a session or two at La Famille," Illya answered. "The party ran late."
"You spent the night in Harlem?"
"Only the second half of it."
"Oh," Napoleon said. He turned away. "I'm going for coffee. Do you want one?"
"Thanks," Illya answered. "I didn't get much sleep." He hid his grin behind the paperwork until his partner's stiff back disappeared down the hall.
Couldn't sleep and wouldn't sleep
When love came and told me I shouldn't sleep
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered—am I
Lost my heart, but what of it?
He is cold, I agree
He can laugh, but I love it
Although the laugh's on me
I'll sing to him, each spring to him
And long for the day when I'll cling to him
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered—am I
He's a fool and don't I know it?
But a fool can have his charms
I'm in love and don't I show it?
Like a babe in arms
--Ella Fitzgerald, "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered"
If she hurts him, I'll kill her with my own bare hands, Napoleon told himself for the thirteenth time that morning, as he watched Illya whistling silently through his teeth, all his attention apparently bent on the expense report slowly clacking through his typewriter. But the Russian continued unprecedentedly cheerful for several days, although the scent of perfume faded and did not return.
Napoleon breathed a sigh of relief he wasn't quite eager to admit to, when Illya casually asked what he should pick up for dinner on Sunday night. Sunday was their traditional council of war/debriefing/brainstorm session/boys' night in, usually held in Napoleon's apartment. "I thought you might be out with your girlfriend." Studying his fingernails. He was overdue for a manicure.
"If I had a girlfriend," Illya said idly, "I might. Six o'clock?"
Interesting. But when Illya arrived at six sharp, dressed in his worn brown cords and a pair of tan loafers, lugging a pizza box, he came with the scent of Youth Dew hung around his shoulders like a woman's arms. Napoleon couldn't have missed it if he tried; Illya brushed past him as he held the door and the sharp Oriental aroma was unmistakable.
"I thought you didn't have a date tonight," Napoleon said, shutting the door and activating the alarm.
"I didn't," Illya answered, carrying the pizza into the kitchen. "Did you find any decent beer?"
"Do you doubt me? I'm hurt—" He followed his partner in and crouched down in front of the Kelvinator, retrieving two bottles of Beck's. The glasses were in the freezer. Illya already had the plates down from the cupboard. "So, if you didn't have a date, is that your new aftershave I smell?"
Illya laughed. "I was out at Birdland last night. John Coltrane. I ran into an--old friend."
"More a young friend, judging by her perfume."
Illya expertly slid three wide, wiggly pieces of New York Style pizza onto his plate. They overhung the edges. He licked tomato sauce and olive oil off his thumb, meeting Napoleon's eyes when he did it. Napoleon looked away quickly and busied himself pouring the beer, watching the glasses frost as cold liquid hit colder glass. He swallowed the lump in his throat with effort and turned to hand Illya the glass.
"Napoleon. Are you jealous?"
The word hit him like a punch on the nose. He jerked back, beer spilling over his hand, and swore. Illya retrieved the glass deftly, while Napoleon scrambled for a dish towel. "Jealous? What could I possibly have to be jealous of?"
"That's what I ask myself," Illya said over his shoulder, in that blunt, take no prisoners manner that sometimes made Napoleon wonder if he was related to Garbo. "I'm willing to tolerate your... fits of pique when we're on the job, and the competition is direct. But I'm reasonably certain that there are enough attractive women on the island of Manhattan that even the overwhelming egoist Napoleon Solo won't miss one or two, if I happen to spirit them away."
Napoleon served himself and followed Illya into the living room, relief like a spike through his breast.
Why on earth would I be jealous of Illya? Because that was what it was, all right, even if his friend had provided a different explanation. It wasn't that he didn't want Illya getting the girls.
It was that he didn't want the girls getting Illya.
Which was laughable indeed, and pushing a friendly rivalry a little too far beyond the firing range. The sudden change in Illya's behaviour--he tended to pick his partners carefully and infrequently--might be worrisome if it continued, but Napoleon had worked out more than one old ache of the soul between a stranger's sheets, and if that was what it took, he was in no position to judge.
No matter how much it might feel like he had the right to.
"Well," he said, sinking down crosslegged on the floor beside the coffee table as Illya swept newspapers off the couch, "as long as it's just one or two."
It was easier enduring Napoleon's company with the scent of perfume dabbed on his collar and the memory of warmth fresh upon his skin. Easier. But not easy, by any means. The girl he'd picked up at Birdland saw him through Sunday and Monday. But by Tuesday night, he wasn't in the mood for jazz anymore.
Tuesday night it was Big Brother & the Holding Company at the Bitter End in Greenwich Village. Illya found his habitual black slacks, turtleneck and blazer utterly out of place, and amused himself by leaning against the wall, watching the outrageously clad, bearded and wild-haired young people skirt past him while the equally wild-haired female singer's soaring, roaring vocals almost took them all off at the knees.
The kids' sideways glances were puzzled; he wasn't a cop, there to bust them for the reek of marijuana on their clothes. Perhaps he could have passed for an aging beatnik, a relic of a fading youth culture not yet completely displaced by the new.
Most beatniks didn't have his forearm development.
He could tell early on that the night was unlikely to be a success with regard to feminine companionship, but that was acceptable. He was here for the music. Anything else was--what was that peculiar Creole word?--lagniappe. That was it.
The band broke after the first set, leaving their equipment propped up on stands in front of a raw brick wall. Illya unfolded his arms and straightened away from the wall, stuffing both hands into his pockets, ducking a little as he turned for the door. The slight, willowy girl he walked into smelled of patchouli, and her long blonde hair was blunt cut and combed down over her shoulders in a waterfall.
"I beg your pardon," Illya said, catching her wrist before she could stagger back. She smiled at him out of cornflower eyes, and he felt himself flush.
"You're British," she said. He didn't correct her. "Well, that explains it." Friendly as a spaniel, and just as easy to hurt. He quickly released her wrist.
"Why you didn't look like you're from around here." She stepped closer, touching the back of his hand with long, fragile fingers. The beads over her slight bosom slid and swayed with every breath. "I was wonder—"
"Don't you talk to her if you know what's good for you, man." The big hand on the girl's shoulder was proprietary. Illya raised his gaze a good six inches to look into the other man's eyes. The girl pulled away, smacking his hand aside.
"I believe the young lady was speaking to me," Illya said. He stepped closer as the girl scurried to one side, putting himself between the hulking boyfriend--brother?--and the blonde.
The big man grunted. Man, barely: a boy in a man's body. "If you would be so kind to apologize to her, we can part friends—"
"What are you, some kind of a fucking faggot? Listen to the way he talks—" the boy turned his head, looking for approval from the half-circle of friends that had appeared behind him, egging him on. That was a pity; it meant Illya couldn't drop him with a discreetly fired sleep dart, under cover of the crowd.
Illya sighed, and kicked him in the side of the knee while his head was turned. Then he grabbed the hand of the nameless girl and chivvied her out the stage door he'd already marked as a possible escape route, if things got ugly. Of course, he'd been expecting Thrush, or maybe a narcotics raid. He hustled the girl into a stairwell behind the dressing rooms. They wound up pressed against the wall behind the furnace, waiting for the pursuit to bore.
"Thank you," she said, leaning into his chest.
"It was nothing. Who was that?"
"He thinks he's my boyfriend," she said.
She grinned, and kissed him on the mouth.
Her "place" was a crowded squat, mattresses on the floor and an Andean hammock big enough for four in a one room apartment shared with half a dozen other kids, clothes folded up in cardboard boxes and communal food cooked over gas flame on the peeling counter. Nobody else was home when she showed him in; she said they were all out busking street corners, panhandling, and the like.
She was shocked and startled by his gun, and then fascinated by it when he showed her how it worked.
"Have you ever killed somebody with that?"
"You don't really want to know the answer to that."
She wasn't just slender. He lifted her off the ground like a doll and made love to her standing against the wall, not willing to risk any of the mattresses. His fingers fitted between her ribs as if sliding into the notched grips on a handgun, locking there the way her long crane's legs locked around his waist. When she went into the bathroom, letting the torn sheet that served as a door curtain fall closed behind her, he riffled her purse and found her parents' phone number and the bottle of patchouli oil. He memorized the number and dabbed a drop of the oil under the collar of his coat.
Then he took her out to breakfast in an all night diner and made her eat his potatoes as well as her own.
The next morning, he hung up on her mother when he realized he didn't know what to tell her. I survived, he reminded himself. She's a smart, kind girl. Chances are good she'll survive too.
Friday night was an olive-skinned brunette with a taste for Tresor and ragtime; Monday a Parisian redhead whose aroma of Joy took him back over a decade, to a little room within earshot of the Seine. Tuesday morning he walked into the office ten minutes late, intentionally, and swung his jacket over the back of his chair to let the scent drift in Napoleon's direction.
"Out late again last night?"
"If I live," he said, "I may become a musician after all."
I'll sing to him, each spring to him
And worship the trousers that cling to him
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered—am I
When he talks, he is seeking
Words to get off his chest
He's at his very best
Vexed again, perplexed again
Thank God, I can be oversexed again
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered—am I
--Ella Fitzgerald, "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered"
It had been easy enough to hide the tracking disc. Illya had left his coat unattended when he went down to the commissary to fetch lunch, and Napoleon had pushed the thin burred slip of metal against the fabric when he smoothed the collar. The smell of perfume had clung to his fingers afterwards.
Now, three days later, Napoleon sneaked in the doorway of a midtown jazz club in the midst of a group of drunken twenty-year-olds. His eye lit immediately upon Illya, who sat at the bar under a brass lamp that turned his hair into a blaze of golden light, the brightest thing in an otherwise dim room. Illya was nursing a martini, running the blunt fingers of his right hand through the snacks in a shallow bowl but never quite picking one up and eating it. It wasn't like him to make himself so obvious—
--a moment later, Napoleon saw exactly why he'd done it, why he'd framed his strong black-clad body in that angelic spill of light. Because the girl three feet ahead of Napoleon startled when she saw him there, and took an involuntary half-step forward, her right hand coming up as if to reach across the ten feet between them and stroke his face.
Napoleon told himself the lump in his throat was worry for his partner's safety, and nothing else. Hastily, he stepped back into the shadows. He picked a shadowed table in the corner and watched his partner hold court, the cased horn on the bar railing beside his stool drawing at least as much attention as that spun-sunlight hair.
Or perhaps it's just a more acceptable gambit for conversation, he mused, watching the third pretty girl in a row come up and ask Illya what sort of instrument he played.
And he knew which one Illya picked out, too--a Puerto Rican or perhaps Brazilian beauty with a lilting laugh and a crooked grin that more than made up for the carelessness of her makeup--because when she came over and made her interest known, Illya first bought her a drink and then moved to open the case that held his horn. He showed her how it went together; within moments, she was standing in the circle of his arms as he reached around her, his big hands vanishing her fine-fingered ones as he demonstrated the fingerings. Very direct, especially when she leaned back into the warmth of his body and let her head fall on his shoulder.
Napoleon had seen enough. He waited until Illya bent forward to kiss the girl with the flashing eyes, dropped a few dollar bills on the table, and slipped out the door.
"Estee Lauder," he said, holding the door for Illya that Sunday as Illya bustled an armload of Chinese takeout cartons inside.
"You have a good nose."
"I get a lot of practice." He made a point of locking the deadbolt and pocketing the key, something he didn't normally bother with when Illya came to visit. If his friend was leaving, he wasn't doing it without Napoleon's consent. "Illya, we need to talk about this."
"Talk about what?" Cheerful and calm, arranging cartons on the oilcloth tidily. "What's on your mind, Napoleon? You know I am always here if you need me."
Napoleon swallowed. "Illya, I think you need me."
"—rats!" Illya had knocked over a container of dumplings. He shoved them quickly back into the waxed paper carton, shaking scorched fingers. "At least it's oilcloth and not linen."
"I saw you coming," Napoleon said, and handed him a damp dishcloth.
"What do you mean, I need you?" Illya asked, having cleaned up the spill.
"I think you need to talk to me about--whatever it is that's driving your behaviour lately. While it's still you and me. Before the shrinks get into it."
"Shrinks?" Illya, wiping grease off his hands, shook his head, amused. "You're going to turn me over to section six?"
"If I suspect your performance is affected—"
"My performance has been just fine."
"I don't doubt it." Napoleon passed down plates as Illya shot him a sideways look. "But the other night, you made an absolute target of yourself."
"How do you know where I was the—" Illya set his plate down harder than necessary. His right hand brushed under the collar of his jacket, and his mouth twisted in chagrin. "Like a bloody amateur." He sighed. "All right. I promise not to make a target of myself any more, and to exercise due caution. Is there anything else?"
"Yes," Napoleon said. He fetched lacquer chopsticks from a drawer, preferring them to the cheap bamboo ones. "Tell me why you're doing it."
"I suppose 'making up for lost time' isn't an adequate answer?" Napoleon didn't turn, but he heard Illya's sigh. "Is this my friend talking, or my partner?"
"Both of them." Napoleon spooned rice onto a plate and made a little well in its center. "And your boss."
"In that case, I can hardly refuse." Illya chopsticked the slippery, glistening dumplings back out of the carton neatly. He never looked up. "I'm treating a bad case of puppy love, Napoleon. There's somebody I've conceived... a passion for, and it's quite impossible. I'm just treating it at the source."
"Somebody at UNCLE?"
"You should tell me who it is. I'll make sure you don't find yourself on any long stakeouts together. Or, if you like, I'll make sure you do. Sure, you laugh, but it's not like intra-agency dating is against the rules--or is your paramour married? Is she field personnel, or office?"
"Not married," Illya said. "Not anymore, anyway. Just not interested."
"That narrows it down—"
Illya turned toward Napoleon, plate balanced on the flat of his hand, his frown tugging the corners of his eyes down. "I beg of you. Do not pursue this. I'm certain I'll have it out of my system in a week or three." The tone in Illya's voice was soft pleading, nothing Napoleon had ever quite heard before.
Napoleon blinked and stepped back in sudden comprehension.
It must have shown on his face, because the plate slipped from Illya's fingers and shattered on the floor. Illya looked down at it, and then up again, directly into Napoleon's eyes. And then he sighed, reached out, took the plate out of Napoleon's hands, and set it on the oilcloth. "I am going to regret this."
Illya stepped forward, broken ceramic crunching under his shoes, and grabbed Napoleon by the head, and pulled him down for a deep, wet, completely disconcerting kiss, sweet and clean with the taste of the iced tea Illya must have been drinking before he came upstairs. Illya's body was hot and firm in Napoleon's arms, a sudden erection prodding his own traitorously responsive groin. Napoleon would have jumped away from the touch if he'd managed to collect himself enough to do it.
Illya let him go, breathless, heart racing, and stepped back, and examined his face. "Hmm," he said. "That went better than I expected. I'll see you tomorrow morning."
And then he turned, grinding plate shards under the ball of his foot, and stalked into the living room. Napoleon braced himself for the slam of the door.
A moment later, a wry small voice floated back to him. "Napoleon? Do you think you could unlock the deadbolt, please? I appear to have left my keys downstairs."
Head lowered, eyes pressed shut, he felt Napoleon's presence against his back before his partner spoke. "That depends," Napoleon murmured, just loud enough to carry across the space between them.
"Are you going to stick around and talk this out with me, or am I going to have to chase you downstairs?"
"There's nothing to discuss."
"I think there is. There has to be a better solution—"
"There is no solution. There are only stop-gap measures, and I am taking them." He glanced back over his shoulder. "I have some experience with unrequited lust."
Napoleon flinched, and tilted his head wryly, licking his lips before he spoke. "You and me both, partner."
Illya felt something in his chest ease at that word. Partner. Things could be so very, very much worse.
He shrugged with one shoulder and put his back to that damnably locked door. "Napoleon, give me the keys."
"Ah, no. Look, come help me clean up the mess in the kitchen, and we'll eat dinner and have a drink, and talk about this like civilized people."
Illya sighed, studying the glossy black toes of his shoes. "I do not wish to be civilized." He tilted his head back then, and addressed himself to the ceiling. "What I want will not be helped by talking. What I want—" he gathered himself, and turned, and forced himself to look directly into his partner's eyes "—involves you, and me, and that bed in there—" a sharp jerk of his chin "—and several uninterrupted hours. And since both you and I are well established in our preference for young ladies over young men, I suspect it's rather a moot point to hold a meeting of the board over an... anomaly. Which will quickly pass. I promise you. Now give me the keys, my friend. Before I take them from you."
"You're welcome to try." Napoleon crossed the living room and stopped close enough that Illya could smell his cologne. "I don't like you taking risks like that."
"Risks like the ones you take, you mean?" He used his raised eyebrow to good effect.
Napoleon blushed and looked down, clearing his throat, but made no move to hand over the keys.
I'll get him to let me go. Or perhaps it wasn't even a thought that coherent; in any case, Illya stepped forward and abruptly raised his hand to cup it to Napoleon's cheek. Napoleon jerked as if shocked, but he didn't jerk away. Illya could hear his breath fluttering in his throat, his eyes wide as a startled deer's.
"Or perhaps you do wish me to stay, after all?"
The brush of hard fingers against his cheek was hypnotic, but not quite as hypnotic as the cool, level gaze that never dropped from his own. His mouth opened slowly, dumb as a fish's, whatever words he might have said blocked up in his throat. Illya stepped closer, close enough that Napoleon could feel the brush of his coat when his chest rose on a taken breath, and that hand slid from his cheek to the back of his neck.
The touch was hesitant and smooth, and so very, very hard to step away from. He should reach into his pocket. He should hand Illya the damned keys. This wasn't fair to Illya.
He needed to step away now, as those fingers were stroking his neck, tracing the outline of his ear.
Illya's breath brushed his face, followed a moment later by his fingertips. He should step away.
He should step away now.
He didn't want to.
Those hands were drawing him down now, a softer, lighter touch than before, and he could taste that sweet breath across his lips. Could it be so wrong to let the lips press his? It didn't feel wrong. Didn't feel wrong when one of his partner's strong hands tangled in his hair and the other one closed on his shoulder, holding him steady. A warm body pressed into his arms, the scent of frilly feminine perfume an ironic counterpoint to the strength of muscle and bone pressed against him. Illya's hands urged him closer--let go. back away.--and he leaned into it, opening his mouth to accept a tentatively seeking tongue—one kiss. what can it hurt?--his lips tingling with the pressure, his skin awake to the gentle touches exploring his ears, his neck, his scalp.
Admit it. You're a little flattered by the attention. That's all it is, and you should back away now. He's proved his point—
It was too easy to surrender to the kiss, the strong, gentle touches, the soft words he half-understood, whispered against his mouth in slurred Russian. And when had he closed his eyes? He opened them, realized that the slickness between his fingers was the fabulous sunlight of Illya's hair, realized that he was breathing into the kiss, breathing through it, melting into it—
Somehow, he mastered himself, and stepped back--the purest act of will he'd ever committed. "Illya—"
Illya was still standing in front of the door, except now he was touching his lips with his fingers, a puzzled expression on his face. "Oh."
"That changes things."
"It does?" He couldn't believe the spear of worry that went through him at his partner's words, the way it brought his ragged breath up short. He's going to ask for the keys again. And I'm going to give them to him. Because I'm a god-damned coward, and I can't—
Can't what, Napoleon?
--can't admit what I want.
"It changes everything," Illya said, and this time he took Napoleon by the upper arms, and pressed him sideways until he leaned against the wall, and kissed him brutally and hard.
Callused fingers slipped inside his collar, suddenly frantic, worrying at the knot of his tie. A sharp crack told him his collar button had broken. He reached up, clutched at his partner's hands--can't--some half-formed thought of protest, of denial--but his fingers were strengthless. They simply encircled and held Illya's broad, bony wrists and did nothing to defend him as Illya finally got the better of the Windsor knot and slid it apart, leaving the two ends of the tie hanging heavily against his chest.
"Illya—" Again, one last try, when his mouth was free again and his partner's mouth was busy against the flesh laid bare by his opened collar.
The wetness prickled and burned and spawned an aching sensation he felt in the pit of his belly and the back of his knees. "Unless you are going to tell me to stop—" the words a low mumble, a buzz against his skin, the heady fragility of that incongruous perfume as dizzying as the hands that were on his waist now
"—save your breath."
Stop. His lips even formed the syllable; his tongue shaped it. Stop. Stop—
Illya's hands curved down to cradle his ass, to pull their hips together, swimming heat and pressure, slow rocking motion that made him gasp. He wasn't in control, wasn't the one setting the pace and making the decisions. He was reacting, sweating, his body firm in its own agenda and suddenly not willing to negotiate.
The implications made him dizzy. I'm not ready for this. I'm not ready for this at all.
Illya reached down and stroked him hesitantly, through the fabric of his pants. His knees turned to water; only the wall and his partner's grip held him up. It was enough.
It was too much.
He turned his head and knotted his fingers in Illya's hair and turned his partner's face upwards, roughly, so he could kiss him on the mouth. This time it was Illya's mouth that opened, Illya's teeth that slipped apart and gave him admission, Illya's body that melted against his own. A long, long moment later, they both pulled back, and regarded each other.
"What do we do now?" Napoleon asked.
Illya swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing. "I go home and we pretend nothing ever happened? No, I didn't think so either. And--I don't really know."
"Neither do I."
"But I imagine between us we can come up with something."
They walked into the bedroom side by side, not touching, close enough for Illya to feel the heat of Napoleon's body through his clothes. Napoleon didn't turn on the light; instead, he sat down on the bedspread and patted a place beside him. Illya settled into it and folded his hands in his lap. They sat shoulder to shoulder to a moment, in a silence that would have been companionable a bare few hours before, but now had prickles and barbs. Finally, he reached out and laid a hand on Napoleon's elbow, felt Napoleon shift marginally closer in the darkness.
He kicked off his shoes and laid down crosswise on the bed, pulling his partner down on top of him.
"Kiss me again." Startled by the roughness in his own voice, the way it hitched. By the pressure in his chest when Napoleon rolled atop him, propped on his elbows, and kissed the corner of his mouth. And laughed.
"A couple of kids making out on the couch in the dark," he said. "I haven't been this shy since I was a sixteen-year-old virgin."
"We are virgins," Illya answered. "All over again." The crisp cotton of Napoleon's shirt crinkled under his fingertips. He edged the tails out of the waistband of Napoleon's pants, insinuated a warm hand against the warm flesh underneath. "I hope you won't brag about me in the locker room."
"Not unless you wear my cologne into work tomorrow."
"Mmm. Tempting—" Napoleon interrupted what he had been about to say with another kiss, amused this time and less stiff and formal. "May I undress you?"
"Please and thank you?" But Napoleon knelt back, straddling Illya's knees, and Illya sat up enough to work the buttons on Napoleon's shirt. It blazed a trail like a comet in the darkness, and his own blazer followed it, a careless toss toward the bedside chair. And then Napoleon's fingers were slipping between his waistband and his skin, untucking the hem of his black shirt, brushing his skin. Napoleon clucked. Illya raised his arms over his head. Napoleon stripped the turtleneck off.
Illya did not see where it landed.
He lay back against the bed, his arms around Napoleon's strong shoulders, drawing his partner down as well. Skin on skin was a benediction, firm warmth and texture like silk and the sweet reassurance of human contact, flesh pressed on flesh. Illya sighed, thinking that this, itself, would almost have been enough—"You feel good," Napoleon said, startled, and Illya laughed.
"You feel better." And then it wasn't so hard, when Napoleon kissed him again, to slide his hands up his partner's naked back and wrap his legs around Napoleon's legs. "Mmmm." As his partner kissed his neck, his collarbone, his chest. Hesitantly at first, and then with a sort of giddy abandon, chasing his own exploring hands with lips and teeth and tongue.
"Too many clothes," Napoleon said, distinctly, and reached for Illya's belt.
Illya caught his hands. "Napoleon—"
"Yes?" Nuzzling the thin line of hair under his navel, a tickling sensation that made him gasp.
"Mmm. Unfair." But Napoleon stood, unbuttoned the waistband of his own trousers and fixed Illya with a challenging stare. "On three."
"—go!" The laughter made it easier. He kicked his pants and briefs aside, seeing the lean whiteness of Napoleon's body revealed in the dim city light that passed the sheers, and held out his hand. Napoleon stopped, clucking again, and crouched down to pull Illya's socks off and wad them up.
"Nothing worse than a man who wears socks to bed."
"How about one who wears a woolly ankle-length nightshirt?"
"A little frumpy for cuddling."
"It's cold in Russia," Illya said, and held out his hand.
Napoleon slid the length of his body against Illya's side, his erection prodding Illya's hip. "How do you—"
"However you want."
"I thought you'd have some ideas."
I have thousands. But Illya bit his tongue and turned onto his side, facing his partner, skin still silken on skin, warmth and the first soft prickle of sweat. He kissed Napoleon's mouth, kissed the mole on his cheek and the tender skin of his throat. "How are you with your hands?"
"I have no complaints," Napoleon answered, teeth sparkling, and Illya laughed.
"Good," he said. "Here." He turned again, pressed his back against his partner's chest, his ass against his partner's groin, and drew a long, slow breath of contentment. Napoleon's cock slipped into the hollow between his thighs like it was made to go there, and Napoleon mumbled in pleasure when Illya leaned back against him, twisted from the waist, right arm under Napoleon's left and his right leg thrown over Napoleon's hips, his left hand sliding between his own thighs to find the unyielding, satiny length of Napoleon's cock.
"Touch me," Illya said. It was almost an order.
Napoleon's grip was tentative at first, exploratory. His knuckles brushed Illya's as Illya stroked him slowly, and one of them chuckled. "Good?"
"Oh. Yes. Like that." Napoleon pressed himself hard against Illya's back, his dick pulsing in Illya's fist, the muscles of his shoulders writhing, sweat-slick, under Illya's clutching right hand. Illya thrust into Napoleon's grip, whimpering a little at the loss when Napoleon released him, briefly, to spit on the palm on his hand. Which was an excellent idea, and Illya copied it, dragging a ragged, greedy little sound out of his partner when he ran his thumb roughly across the head of his cock with every slippery cycle of his slowly pumping hand.
Napoleon thrust against him, thrust into the grip of his hand, his own hand tightening, his motion pressing Illya forward against Napoleon's fist. Illya choked on the sound that came up his throat, a low, sweet growl that ended in a sob. He felt Napoleon's orgasm, the frantic flexing of his hips and the ropy, scalding heat of semen spilling across his fist. His rasping breath panting on Illya's throat as he bowed his head became the final tug into a spiral that drew Illya, too, inexorably down. Down into exaltation, as if that made any sense at all, and out the other side into a gasping, sticky crash-landing.
Illya threw his head back over Napoleon's left arm, which had somehow come around to pillow his neck, and dragged air into his lungs. The cool night air moved on his sweat-soaked skin, filled his open throat. Wonderful.
"If I had known you made noises like that, I would have seduced you years ago." As much the shape of words against his throat as speech, but he understood just fine.
"You seduced me? I beg your pardon. I seem to recall—"
"I definitely seduced you. Anything else would be unseemly." That wry, lined grin hovered over him, ducked down to claim a kiss that it got back willingly.
Illya tasted Napoleon's sweat, and his own, and licked his lips. "Unseemly."
"Of course," his partner answered. "I am the senior agent, after all."
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered; From "Pal Joey." Lyrics by Lorenz Hart