by Cord Smithee


As far as I know, these characters belong to Norman Felton and some massive media empire. Any monies should be directed to those people, not me.

Once upon a time, Napoleon had been shocked to discover his partner's secret sybaritic streak. The first time he had seen Illya's apartment, whatever he had expected it to look like, this was not it.

His freshly-partnered self had expected his new Soviet helpmeet to live in institutional stoicism. Illya's apartment should have been Spartan. As un-lived-in, as drifted-through as Napoleon's own. Something like a hotel room, but with less personality, and possibly more books.

What he had found himself in was a seraglio.

The living room had three low tables, none of which matched. One was Japanese in style, the other two Turkish, perhaps, to match the carpets rolled on the floor in place of couches and chairs. Red and gold silk cushions embroidered around chips of mirror caught the light from an unlikely cornerstand lamp with seven branches spiraling around a center pole twisted like the bit of a drill; they made no attempt to match the carpets, or the yellow bead curtain that hung between the living room and the kitchen. The only traditionally Western article of furniture in the entire room, other than the bookcases, was a massive calfskin wing chair shoved into the corner under the reading lamp, a drift of paperback novels and hardcover textbooks swamping its ankles.

The apartment had grown even more bizarre and wonderful in the intervening six years.

Illya locked the door behind them, set the alarm, and sighed, stepping out of his loafers. Napoleon had already taken off his shoes, well-trained. And when you're a Sybarite, my dear Russian, and when your floor is layered two deep in silk oriental carpets, there's no reason not to wander around barefoot all the time.

Of course, the clues were there, if you paused to look closely enough. Illya's delight in good food and good liquor, that winter-white cashmere turtleneck that framed his face like down caressing an angel's countenance--all right, a broken-nosed angel with a chipped front tooth, but the hair would pass for a halo--the claret wool blazer, the blue-grey silk suit he never wore on assignment, preferring cheap broadcloth and badly-cut black sportcoats.

"Very Spartan," Napoleon said, glancing about ostentatiously. "You've cleared some things out, I see."

Illya laughed, heading for the kitchen. "The kimono is new," he said, gesturing to a silk robe embroidered in phoenixes that hung displayed against the wall, covering something that Napoleon knew from past acquaintance to be Illya's chin-up bar.

"And the peacock feathers?"

"They were in the hall closet. I dug them out because the vase was boring."

The vase was Baroque, in fact, but the peacock feathers did improve it. Napoleon leaned against the wall laughing quietly to himself, watching in bemusement as his spare, black-clad partner prowled like a panther through his tropical den. Illya brought things home from every port; fezzes and perfume bottles, tourist trash and priceless treasures, knitted silk and engraved wood. An Argentinean vaquero's saddle, dripping silver from tooled leather, served duty as the ottoman for the wing chair, and a belly dancer's shawl glittering with coins took the place of the throw that Napoleon had draped over the back of his favorite chair.

"You are a very bad communist, my friend."

"There are worse," Illya answered, emerging from the kitchen. He held a cobalt-blue glass bowl in one hand, a whisk in the other, looking ridiculous and delectable in a white apron strapped carelessly on over his shoulder holster, his shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows. "I like things with textures." Which of course made Napoleon wonder what childhood lack or excess Illya might be making up for, but he was wise enough to know that some questions deserved no answers, nor were likely to receive them. "Make yourself at home. Make yourself a drink."

As if Napoleon needed the permission.

I wonder what his bedroom looks like. The thought came unbidden, but not unexpected. It was the one room of Illya's domain that Napoleon had never seen, and if there were one constant about spies, it was that each and every one of them suffered an insatiable curiosity--

And besides, Napoleon was becoming adept at hiding his distinctly non-fraternal feelings for his partner, but that didn't mean that they didn't exist.

"Oh, brother." Illya swore like somebody's maiden aunt, and Napoleon found it irresistibly charming.

"Cut yourself?"

"No, I left the eggs in the car—" Illya stepped back into the kitchen, set the bowl aside, automatically reaching for his jacket to cover the shoulder holster even as he ducked his head through the neckstrap on the apron.

"I'll go," Napoleon offered.

"You stay," Illya said. "I have sandals. I'll only be five minutes. Keep the wine cold for me while I'm gone." A wink, and he was out the door, leaving Napoleon shaking his head in bemusement. He locked the door behind Illya and turned around to fix himself that drink--

--and paused.

What the hell, he thought. When will you have a better chance than now?

The light switch was right where it should be, but Napoleon hesitated a moment before he flipped it, trying to identify the elusive scent that filled the air. Something like frankincense, or perhaps sandalwood, and a sharper, richer scent overlaying it, heady and green. Spicy, and masculine, and like nothing he would have imagined.

He took one deep breath, and turned on the light.

And blinked.

The room was furnished with two Korean rice chests serving as dressers, their gorgeously inlaid surfaces holding a spare arrangement of censers and a jasmine plant in a tarnished copper planter. Silk-shaded lamps adorned the low trays that stood duty as nightstands; the windows were curtained in heavy swags of what Napoleon thought was batiked silk.

And then there was the bed.

The eiderdown in a dark gold and honey-brown embroidered duvet didn't surprise him, although the unmade futon it lay sprawled across did. As did the bedsheets, one teal green and the other burnt umber, each one plain except for three or four gold-patterned feet on one end. If Napoleon didn't know better, he would think they were--

Saris. Silk saris, their colors picked up by the jumbled profusion of pillows heaped at the head of the bed--tiny Japanese buckwheat-hull bolsters, giant harem pillows, fluffy goose-down stuffed into pillowcases obviously stitched from more exotic cloth. Napoleon's hand dropped to his side, away from the light switch. He stepped forward, the knotted silk Persian carpet coarse and soft and thick under his bare toes.

"Wow," he said.

"You should see my collection of oriental weapons," Illya said in his ear, and he jumped six inches and turned in his tracks.

His partner was standing close enough to kiss, framed in the doorway, that left eyebrow arching up in a manner that could mean amusement, wrath, or both, his arms folded stolidly over his chest. The jacket had vanished again, but the apron was not back, and Illya's shoulders strained the black leather of his holster.

Napoleon swallowed and looked down. "I, ah—"

"You were snooping."


"To be expected," Illya said, letting his arms drop. "You are a spook, after all." And then he smiled, the ephemeral, lip-bitten twitch of his mouth and not the wide, relaxed grin, and met Napoleon's eyes directly, and purred, "So. Did you find what you were looking for?"

He knew he should leave, should shoulder past Illya and pretend that nothing had happened. Pretend that the electricity crackling in the air between them didn't exist, had never existed. Go back to the coy erotic dance they both played hard, unreservedly, ruthlessly, as if knowing the game was safe because it would never be played out to its obvious conclusion.

But, The son of a bitch set me up, Napoleon thought, and on some mad impulse stepped forward, caught Illya's face between his hands, and claimed his partner's mouth for a long, devastating kiss.

He wasn't sure what moved him, wasn't sure what he expected--a knee in the groin, an elbow under the chin. What he did not expect was Illya's mouth softening against his own, opening, wet and welcoming, a groan that was a growl reverbating between them until he couldn't pick his own voice out from Illya's. It was Illya's and it was his own, that sound, merged in a primal, wordless affirmation of passion.

He felt Illya in his arms, felt him hard and willing, steadfast as ever, the rock upon which Napoleon rested his plans, his security, his life.

He gasped at the realization, as Illya's hands slid down his back, cupped his ass, pulling their hips together, Illya's swelling cock pressed in dizzying heat against his own. And then Illya's tongue was in his mouth, slick, probing, those strong, enormous hands holding him close, holding him tight. "Are you sure?" Illya's voice like a caress. He was sure, more sure than he'd ever been in his life. They were together. They had always been together. What the hell else do either of us have? Except this? What else?

"I'm sure," he said.

"Good," Illya answered, his voice brusque and rough and totally Illya, so very Illya that it brought a lump to Napoleon's throat. And then he moved, lithe as the panther Napoleon compared him to, and Napoleon found himself flat on his back across Illya's unmade futon, pinned under the Russian's body. Illya sprawled between his legs, his hips grinding in slow, luxurious circles, his mouth ravenous, his hands greedy and unashamed. And Napoleon--as was his very bad habit in the best of times--unconditionally surrendered. Powerful, self-directed women had long been a fantasy of his, one too rarely available in real life. How much more erotic his powerful, self-directed partner, who showed his matching trust in Napoleon with every breath he took.

Still, Napoleon wasn't entirely certain he wanted to be on the bottom. He gathered himself, locked his legs around Illya's waist, and heaved. The Russian went willingly, surprising him, and suddenly he found himself straddling his partner's prone body in a powerfully suggestive position. He shivered and kissed harder, trying to distract himself.

Illya's hands tugged his shirt out of his trousers, sliding under the white cotton, warm and callused against his skin. He heard threads snap and cloth tear, felt the burn of fabric. Blindly, unwilling to relinquish his partner's mouth, he groped for the hem of Illya's shirt, yanked it loose, got his hands on butter-soft skin beaded by the hard lines of scars and hissed in pleasure. Illya bared Napoleon's chest, shoving the straps of his holster aside, hands stroking, exploring, broad fingers teasing Napoleon's nipples. "That has to go," Illya said, and Napoleon leaned back and stripped his shirt and holster off as one, tearing his own cuffs in his haste to get the buttons undone, nearly dropping his gun. Illya curled his body into a comma and struggled out of his own shirt and harness, tousling his hair. He tossed the shirt away and laid the gun on the floor next to Napoleon's, within reach of the bed. He was beautiful in the lamplight, panting as hard as Napoleon, a patchy fl ush of desire reddening the pale skin of his chest and throat.

Napoleon leaned down again, pressing their bodies together. He breathed in deep, his partner's scent and the smoky, woodsy perfume of the bedclothes. Illya's skin was as soft as the silk they sprawled across. Napoleon raised his hand and touched Illya's cheek, his lips, his broken nose and his comic-book-character's jaw and the thick, stubborn neck, the slender powerful shoulders and the hard muscle of biceps and forearms, and Illya let him do it. Illya leaned into the touch, the way he always did, and Napoleon wondered how he, Napoleon, could have been so blind. "How long?"

"Since forever. Now hush, Napoleon, and take your clothes off for me, please."

It was somehow more intensely erotic to stand before his partner and undress under that burning gaze than it ever could have been to let Illya do it for him. Those cool blue eyes assessing him, watching as he stood and slid his trousers down, stripping with efficiency, letting his remaining clothes fall to the floor beside the guns. Napoleon nudged both weapons closer to the bed with a heel.

He turned his head, looking at Illya, and Illya responded by lifting his hips and slithering out of his pants and boxers like a snake shedding its skin. That mottled flush extended down his body to his thighs, marking muscular limbs downed with light brown hair. Napoleon's gaze didn't linger on them long, although the sight made his pulse beat faster and his cheeks heat.

Instead he licked his lips, suddenly dry-mouthed, and forced himself to look directly at his partner's cock, instead of stealing the coy sidelong glance he wanted to. Illya's penis was as sturdy and uncompromising as everything else about him, a thick arch curving from a patch of tawny curls to rest against his belly, veins in sharp relief under taut, shiny skin, moisture gleaming at the tip. He didn't meet Illya's eyes, but he was aware of the frank curiosity and assessment with which his partner returned the inspection.

They were naked, and frozen, almost not breathing, and it hurt in Napoleon's chest, so badly did he want this. And a moment later Illya curled forward and offered his hand, and Napoleon took it, and then they lay together, silk and eiderdown pulled over them for warmth, holding each other, lips close but not kissing, breathing as one breath the scents of sandalwood and each other. "Such a damned relief," Napoleon said.


"Not to have to remind myself not to do this." He ran the fingers of one hand through Illya's hair, let the motion continue until his hand rested on Illya's hip, and pulled his partner to him, wrapped his left leg around Illya's right. One of them purred a little at the moist, hot contact; Napoleon's hips rocked forward, pressing his erection against the smooth, hot length, hardness and the softness behind it, the velvet skin of Illya's balls brushing his own as they molded their bodies together. It was good, his partner's mouth on his throat and the hands stroking his back, the strength and warmth and protectiveness, the sensation of silk against his skin, Illya's body no less smooth than his sheets and pillows. It was going to be all right.


"mmm?" A distracted noise, perhaps because he was nibbling his way along Napoleon's collarbone in a leisurely fashion, as if he had all the time in the world.

"Have you done this before?"

"Once or twice." He blinked, looking up through his lashes to meet Napoleon's gaze. His sly smile indicated understatement, to the practiced eye.

"How—" far have you gone?

"Far enough." Those hands cupped Napoleon's ass again and this time slid between his buttocks, slowly stroking, teasing. Napoleon gasped, arching his back to encourage the touch. "Are you asking about this?"

The caress shook Napoleon to the core, and he knew he didn't need to answer. Illya could feel it perfectly well in the shameless hardening of his cock.

"If that's what you want," Illya said, in his most velveted voice, "All you need to do is ask."

And he could feel Illya's response too, the way his body reacted with spiking desire, the fly-bitten shiver across his back and the quickening breath, the jut of his erection against Napoleon's belly. "I want something else first." He kissed Illya's mouth, awed by the open affection in his partner's eyes, and followed it with a line kissed down his partner's belly.

"Oh," Illya said, that surprised tone he only used when something deeply delighted him. "Oh," again, as Napoleon cupped his testicles in one hand and squeezed gently, rolling them between his fingers. Illya's hands clenched in Napoleon's hair, pleading without words, as Napoleon places a chaste, soft kiss on the tip of Illya's cock. "Tease," he groaned.

"That's only half a word, tovarisch." But before Illya could find the other half in his nearly-bottomless store of English vernacular, Napoleon made it a moot point, swirling his tongue around the plum-taut glans, sucking Illya's cock into his mouth as he might suck the stone from a fruit, letting his tongue work ripples of magic against the pulsing vein on the underside. Illya tasted bitter and salty, and he didn't dare keep it up for long. He didn't have the control or the knowledge of his lover's responses, yet, to tease the way he would have liked to, and so he just gave what pleasure he could, a token of affection and desire and a tacit promise of more to come, until Illya's grip on his hair turned into a painful tug. He let the other man haul him up for a punishing, questioning kiss, and grinned into his eyes when it was done.

Illya kissed him again, hands uncompromising, managerial. Napoleon imagined he never would have touched a woman that way--too rough, too certain. The kiss was long and shattering, rich and nuanced and not gentle in the slightest, a microcosm of their friendship, neither one of them giving an inch or backing down even as they moved in tandem, a perfect oiled machine. Dynamic tension and savage honesty, even where it rubbed raw patches.

It was a relief, in a life built of prevarication, to have one person in all the world with whom one would never have to pretend.

Napoleon could tell from the gradually slowing rhythm of Illya's breath that he was using the kiss to regulate his desire down to a manageable level. Napoleon used his hands to subvert the process, and Illya laughed, the wide-open grin that Napoleon got to see too rarely, and the kiss turned into a wrestling match without ever quite not being a kiss any more. It ended with Illya pinned under Napoleon's body, both hands knotted in Napoleon's hair, their mouths linked as Illya curled upward, Napoleon's elbows locked to support the weight of their upper bodies, Illya's powerful thighs immobilizing his hips. He turned his head and bit Illya's neck where it ran into the shoulder, hard enough to mark but not hard enough to break the skin, and Illya shivered and let his head fall back, surrendered, completely beautiful.

Napoleon tongued the notch of his collarbone, the touch translating into shivers that ran the length of his partner's body, and raised his head to find intent blue eyes staring into his own. Illya relaxed his grip on Napoleon's hair, around his shoulders, and dropped back against the bed. "Lie down for me, love?"

As simple as that, and Napoleon did, disentangling himself from suddenly placid limbs and expectant eyes, arranging himself on his stomach with his legs spread and his knees drawn up a little, head down on his folded arms, eiderdown and silk tangled under his belly, concentrating on deep, steadying breaths.

His partner's hip pressed his hip as Illya knelt beside him, clattering about in a carved wooden box that had been tucked under one of the nightstand-trays. Napoleon grinned at his partner's soft yelp of triumph as he found what he wanted, and then the grin faded to gritted teeth and panting need as Illya sat back on his heels and, clever fingers moist with saliva, stroked Napoleon's balls, his perineum, the curve of his buttocks and the tight, needy opening between them. He stuffed his fist against his mouth and moaned encouragement, expecting the cool slickness of whatever Illya had retrieved from his chest, quickly followed by his partner's cock.

Instead, the touch lingered, gentling, teasing the tension from Napoleon's shoulders and thighs, and when it was replaced, it was not with the achingly thick pressure of Illya's cock, but with the incandescent flicker of his tongue, the sweetest, most amazing sensation Napoleon could have imagined. His hands tightened on the bedclothes, feathers squeaking in his fists, pricking his fingers, his hips arching like a cat's. "Illya, please."

"Your wish is my command," Illya said, and entered him with two slick, cold, creamy fingers, unsubtle and delicious and so good it almost hurt.

"My white knight," Napoleon gasped, panting to carry himself through pleasure and expectation and into a place where he could endure what Illya was doing to him without screaming, or coming, or both.

"Wherever you need me," Illya said, and took Napoleon's hand, drawing him up, kneeling, even as Illya lay down beside him, on his back. "Come here. I want to see your face."

Napoleon straddled his partner's hips, leaning forward, his hands on Illya's shoulders, his toes curling against cool silk as he balanced himself. Illya reached between his legs and Napoleon felt blunt pressure against his perineum, slipping backwards—"There. Oh—"

"Come to me," Illya said, and Napoleon obliged, settling back on his haunches, feeling the long, slow, powerful glide of Illya's cock into his body. Illya moaned low in his throat, his hands tightening on Napoleon's hips, and Napoleon brushed sweaty hair off his face and gasped. "You look amazing."

"Kettle." It came out through gritted teeth as Illya's hips twisted against him, and then Illya fell back, laughing so hard that Napoleon could feel his diaphragm shake.

Napoleon grinned, rocking slowly, watching emotions chase each other across Illya's face. "You should do that more often."

"Fuck you?"

"I meant laugh. But I am certainly open to negotiation--ah!"

"Hush, Napoleon. You're distracting me."

"As if anything could distract you when you're focused on a problem," Napoleon answered, gliding his hips forward, unable to resist moving, setting a slow, careful rhythm and ignoring Illya's attempts to speed it up. "Oh, no you don't, tovarisch. I have plans for you."

"You are a relentless tease, Mr. Solo."

"You should have thought of that before you got so far ahead of me."

"Bastard." So heartfelt, and so full of affection, that Napoleon laughed out loud, losing his rhythm, and bent down to kiss Illya's eager mouth.

Their tongues danced a moment, and then Napoleon pulled back and said, "Why on earth did we put this off for so long?"

Illya flexed his hips, just so, pressing against Napoleon's pinioning weight, and Napoleon caught his breath on a sob, his head dropping forward. Illya did it again, shattering whatever Napoleon might have been about to say into a throaty groan, and answered, "Cowardice."

"Of course. Do that again—"

"This? Or this?"


And then Illya laughing, and the taste of his sweat, Napoleon laughing too, pinning his partner to the bed with all his weight and leverage while Illya writhed under him, their lovemaking turned into another sort of competition. Illya twisted, his heels braced against the bed, lifting his hips and Napoleon's weight with them, angling his cock to draw a sharp gasp from Napoleon. "Who's the bastard now?" Napoleon asked, his hands tightening on Illya's wrists.

Illya didn't answer. His eyes were fixed on Napoleon's face, his hips undulating, his cock rubbing over a deeply buried sweet-spot again and again. Napoleon curled his fingers tighter, fighting the nearly uncontrollable urge to let go of his partner's hands and touch himself, to turn that searing, nearly-there tickle into the agonizing release it wanted to become.

Instead, he breathed deeply, hearing his voice peaking with each little panting cry, fighting the pressure and pleasure and the desperate need to come. Illya moved inside him, exploiting his limited range of motion, grinning like a fool. "I may have a head start," he said, "but I think you will beat me around the course, eh, my friend?"

"We'll see, won't we?" Napoleon tossed his sweaty forelock out of his eyes and settled back, releasing--very carefully--Illya's left wrist. A risk, of course, but he thought he could stand whatever Illya might do with it. Long enough, in any case--

Feeling a bit like a cowboy riding a bronc, he let his free hand slip between Illya's legs, finding his balls, soft as rose petals and slick with sweat. Napoleon leaned back, touching, fondling, using his left-handed grip on Illya's right hand to support himself as Illya reached forward, quick as a striking snake, and fastened his newly freed left hand around the root of Napoleon's cock. "Now that's more like even odds," he said, and groaned low in his throat as Napoleon slid one blunt, broad-tipped finger inside him. He spread his legs, thrusting deep inside Napoleon, and Napoleon's other hand tightened on Illya's as the arch of his back pressed Illya's cock hard against his prostate. Napoleon rocked forward and back, control shattered, unable to choose between the slick grip of his partner's hand and the penetration--

Too much. Too much, all at once--

And then Illya groaned, arching against him unmistakably, eye contact broken as he twisted against the bed, his hand clenching on Napoleon's where they still fisted together, and he couldn't tell if that was what triggered his own orgasm, or if the first deep flutter of his irresistible coming had set Illya off.

It didn't matter. His partner's hand tightened, and he felt Illya's cock pulse inside him, counterpoint to his own, his semen spattering Illya's belly and chest and face.

He didn't actually remember how he wound up sprawled on his back, Illya curled against his side, wiping him down with a warm, damp towel. It took every bit of courage he could muster to open his eyes, and look into the blue eyes returning his gaze. "I demand a rematch," he said, and then his stomach rumbled.

Illya bent to press a kiss against the corner of his mouth, and Napoleon smiled in affection, postcoital apprehension easing. "What do you say to after dinner?"

"As long as it's not anything too complicated. We have all those eggs, and the cheese. Omelets, perhaps? Faster than what you were planning."

And Illya laughed, and smacked him across the stomach with the towel as he rolled to his feet and stood. "You know, Napoleon, this is a hell of a length to go to, just to get out of eating my soufflé."

"Am I truly so transparent?"

"Only to me," Illya said, turning to offer him a hand up, and then his pistol from the floor. "Only to me, my friend. Put on your pants. A soufflé does not take so long to make that you will perish from hunger in the interim."

"There's more than one kind of hunger," Napoleon answered, and Illya laughed, moving away, but looking back over his shoulder as he did.

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