The Three Sheets To The Wind Affair
The enemy had cleared out of the Thrush building by the time Napoleon got there, and his heart failed a little more with every empty room he burst into. Illya must be here somewhere. He must be. The alternative was unthinkable, because that would mean his partner had either disappeared again, or was dead. Their extraction was arranged for six hours from now, and they needed to be at the pick up point, or risk the entire mission unravelling beneath their feet.
The first sign that he got that the place wasn’t entirely deserted was the singing he heard. It was drifting from far away, remarkably tuneless, but he couldn’t make out the words. He followed the sound to a door, and it got louder when he opened it to find a spiral metal staircase leading down into deep gloom. Luckily there was a switch at the top of the stairs, and when he pressed it his route was flooded with light, but the singing suddenly wavered into nothing, and a slurred voice called out, ‘Hey, turn th’ligh’off! S’dark light no, no ligh’ need – oh eyes...’
He would recognise that voice anywhere, even in that state, and he took the stairs so fast that by the time he was at the bottom he was dizzy, the scent of hot metal rising from his palms where they had rubbed along the rail. He saw Illya instantly, strapped to a table on the other side of a room kitted out like a clinic, a drip line running to a cannula in his hand at one end, and up into a great glass jar hung high at the other. He sucked in breath, a hundred thoughts racing in his mind. He had been drugged, obviously. Was this something permanent, was it a truth drug they’d given him? What the hell was making him act like this?
He ripped the cannula out of Illya’s hand without hesitation, and flung the drip line aside. As he did the motion caused the frame that held the jar to scoot across the linoleum floor, and it smashed into the wall. The clear liquid within fountained to the floor as the jar burst, and a familiar scent billowed into the air.
‘Alcohol?’ Napoleon asked incredulously. ‘Illya, was it alcohol in that drip?’
‘Alcocol alco-ol alcocol,’ Illya sang incoherently, then lifted his head a little to look at his hand. ‘Oh, blood...’
‘Oh, yeah – ’
Distractedly Napoleon looked about for something to put on Illya’s hand. Blood was trickling bright and red from the tear Napoleon had made in pulling out the needle. He found some cotton wool and bandage on a tray nearby, and quickly used it to dress the wound.
‘Pretty, pretty,’ Illya said, his eyes appearing to swim in and out of focus as he tried to look at the drying trickles on the edge of his hand.
Napoleon unstrapped him, and looked around in dismay. Somehow he would have to get Illya up those stairs…
‘Illya, was it just alcohol?’ he asked as the Russian struggled to sit up. He took his shoulders and shook him. ‘Illya, listen. Was it just alcohol?’
Illya smiled at him beautifully, unguardedly. ‘Th’ad no truth s’rum,’ he slurred. ‘But – oh – medisss’nal alc’ol. Whee, ’m spinning...’
‘Yeah, yeah, that’s lovely, Illya,’ Napoleon muttered distractedly. He grabbed hold of his hand, pulling him off the bed. ‘Come on, now. Let’s get out of here.’
He looked at the spiral staircase, looked at Illya again, rolled his eyes, and hoisted the slim Russian into a fireman’s lift. Although Illya was small he was dense with muscle, and heavier than Napoleon would have liked to carry up that twisting staircase. But he did it, step by step, hanging on to the rail with one hand and holding Illya’s legs tightly with the other, because the Russian kept moving feebly and crying out, ‘Whee, whee, ’m flying...’ as they ascended. Once at the top he put Illya on his feet again, but found that he would barely hold his own weight, so he grabbed him around the waist, pulled Illya’s arm around his shoulders, and tugged, cajoled, and jerked him towards the exit.
Getting him through the narrow, meandering streets was a whole new challenge, considering this was an alcohol free country and the sight of an outrageously drunk man would call down fire and brimstone on their heads. But eventually Napoleon got him up to the hotel room they were sharing and ordered up two pots of coffee, very strong. He stripped the clothes off Illya while he was waiting for the coffee to arrive, and led him into the bathroom, where the water was only lukewarm at the best of times. This time he didn’t want it to be warm. He encouraged the flailing Russian over the edge of the tub, and Illya flung his arms around Napoleon’s neck as he tried to reach for the shower controls, murmuring, ‘Oh, ’Pol’yon, ’Pol’yon, love you, ’Pol’yon...’
Napoleon tried to disentangle himself, but it was like trying to remove an octopus from his shoulders. Illya hung over him, sighing into his neck, his hair tickling Napoleon’s face. Much to his distaste Napoleon felt saliva trickling down under his collar.
‘Illya!’ he said. ‘Illya! Now come on. Be a good boy and just stand up on your own, huh? I need you to stand up.’
Illya’s head smeared against his shoulder as he tried to look down, babbling, ‘But ’Pol’yon, got no legs. Look, rubber!’
There was a knock on the door, and Napoleon swore. ‘That’ll be the coffee,’ he said clearly to Illya. ‘Now, you stay there, okay? Just stay there. I’ll be back.’
He made a concerted effort to get Illya untangled from him, and propped him against the tiled wall, yelling, ‘I’m coming, I’m coming,’ as someone banged on the door again. He raced across the room and received the tray of coffee gratefully, before turning as he heard a thud and a wail from the bathroom. He slammed the tray down on the nearest surface and ran. Illya had tried to climb out of the bath. He had slipped, and was lying half over the edge of the tub, holding a hand to his head and looking dazed.
‘Well, you’ll have a shiner,’ Napoleon muttered as he peeled Illya’s hand away and looked at the rapidly developing bruise just above his left eye.
‘Ow,’ Illya keened, sounding outraged that something had hurt him in his alcohol anaesthetised state. ‘Ow fuck fuck fuck fuhhhhhhhh-ck.’
Napoleon looked at him in amazement. Illya never swore, not in Russian, not in English, or any language in between.
‘All right, now,’ he said soothingly. ‘Now, how are we going to manage this?’
He got Illya to his feet, encouraged him to step into the tub again, then leant round him, reaching for the controls. Then he stopped and shook his head. Illya was practically boneless, leaning and lolling and gazing idly at the ceiling, the light fitting, the shower head and the dingy curtain with its pattern of blue flowers. He couldn’t keep himself up for any length of time. Napoleon sighed, propped the Russian against the tiles again, and began quickly to strip off his own clothes.
‘Oh, ’Pol’yon!’ Illya exclaimed, a languid grin spreading over his face. ‘Didn’know you careded.’
‘Shut up,’ Napoleon said quickly. ‘Just shut up. If you ever tell anyone about this…’
Hurt brimmed in Illya’s eyes, and Napoleon reached out quickly to him as he started to keel sideways again.
‘No, listen, Illya. I didn’t mean it like that. Come on. I just want to get some cold water on you. I need to get you sobered up. We’ve got a plane to board in a little under five hours.’
‘Oh I like flying,’ Illya rambled as Napoleon climbed into the tub and drew the dingy curtain around them. He reached around the Russian again to turn the tap, and water started to spray from the shower head. It wasn’t exactly freezing, but after the heat of the streets it felt it, and Illya gave a startled yell, struggling to get away from the spray.
‘Oh, no, hold still, you crazed Russian,’ Napoleon told him threateningly, grabbing hold of his arms, which were rapidly becoming slippery with water.
‘’Pol’yon?’ Illya asked, but Napoleon wasn’t sure what the question was meant to be.
‘No, you hold still and let that sober you up,’ he said firmly, thrusting Illya back until he was right under the spray. His golden hair became lank and dark with water. It streamed down his face and Illya didn’t make a move to brush the water away, but just stood there with water twirling down his forehead and nose, trailing sensuously across his lips, dripping and cascading down his torso, catching in the hair between his legs and –
Napoleon looked up sharply, but the image was engraved in his mind. Water slipping down Illya’s slim belly, making trails through the light sprinkling of hair on that muscular surface, running into the thicker, golden-dark hair below. Illya’s cock streaming with water, just inches from his own. Oh god…
He blinked, and realised Illya was gazing at him with eyes that were far, far from the eyes of a compos mentis human being. He couldn’t be thinking this way. It was wrong to think this way. A sober Illya would kill him for thinking this way. He needed to get Illya out of here, dry and covered up. He almost reached around him again to turn the shower off, but that would mean pressing his entire body against Illya, and god knows what would happen if he did that. He’d leave the shower running. Water shortages be damned.
‘Okay,’ he said quickly. ‘Okay, out of the shower now. I think if water were going to help it would have helped by now. Come on. Oopsie-daisy,’ he said as he helped the inebriated Russian back out onto the floor. Water streamed down and pooled on the tiles, and Napoleon grabbed for a towel, but as he tried to wrap it around Illya’s waist Illya fumbled it away.
‘Okay, okay,’ Napoleon sighed. He glanced at the streaming water and his conscience couldn’t bear it considering the drought currently affecting this country. He let go of Illya for a moment to turn the knob to off. ‘Illya!’
In the moment he had moved away Illya had disappeared through the door, and as he rushed through into the main room he saw him at the glass doors to the little balcony, pressing himself full length against them with his cheek against the glass as he fumbled with the catch to try to let himself out.
He launched himself across the room and grabbed him, yanking him back from the windows above the busy street, all thoughts of towels forgotten. Illya had left a wet body-length print on the glass.
‘Hey, s’hot out there, wanna dry off,’ Illya slurred.
Napoleon clapped a hand to his forehead, but he kept firm hold of Illya with the other. He noticed that the Russian’s hand had started to bleed through the soaked bandage again, and the bump on his head really was developing into something that resembled a purple egg.
‘No,’ he said firmly. ‘No, no sunbathing for you, Illya, not right now. Hey, look, do you want to get dressed, huh? Your clothes are right over there.’
After a few moments of trying to ease a white shirt onto a wet and non-compliant body, he gave up.
‘All right, Illya. Coffee,’ he said, trying another tack. He dragged Illya over to the sideboard where he had put the tray, and poured him a full cup of coffee with his free hand. He lifted the cup to the Russian’s lips, and Illya shook his head wildly, causing the drink to splash down his front.
‘Illya, for god’s sake just drink the goddamn coffee!’ Napoleon yelled, frustration getting the better of him.
Illya sagged suddenly into an armchair, staring up at the American. ‘’Pol’yon? Why’r’you – ’ He looked down, frowning, mumbling in Russian, before looking up again. ‘’Pol’yon wha’s ’merican for yelling?’
Napoleon bit his lip into his mouth, poured another cup, and knelt down in front of the naked Russian. God, but what this man was doing to him… He hadn’t had a lay since they had arrived in this country, and he needed one badly, but he had never expected Illya to stir such feelings. But here he was, sitting loose-limbed and spread wide, lolling back against the cushions with none of his habitual tension and alertness. Napoleon had never seen him quite like this. Even in his most relaxed moments there was always a sliver of Illya that was alert. But now he was warm and soft, his eyes wide and blue, his hair mussed, the surface layer drying to straw in the hot room. His skin was like pink gold. His thighs lolled apart, his feet were crooked on the floor, his arms hung loose at his sides. It made Napoleon’s breath come short to look at him like that, to have the feelings he was having for his partner.
‘Here,’ he said, his voice edged with roughness as he tried to cover over the incredible tenderness he felt. He shoved the coffee forward, but he had to lean between Illya’s thighs to press the cup to his lips, and god, the heat that came off them was like a furnace. The insides of his thighs were smooth, rubbed free of hair, strokable…
‘Illya, drink this,’ he said coaxingly, tipping the cup a little. ‘Come on. That’s it. And a little more.’
Illya’s eyes widened a little at the strength of the coffee. His pupils were like black pools in a skim of pure blue. Napoleon could see the world reflected in them. He touched the cup to Illya’s pouting lips again, tipped again, and watched him swallow. God, even the movement of his Adam’s apple was erotic.
‘Can you hold it?’ he asked. He had to get away from this. ‘Can you hold it, huh?’
He lifted Illya’s hand, tried to curl his loose fingers around the cup, but Illya was having none of that. He had gone very still and quiet, and was just staring back at Napoleon.
Napoleon put the cup down with a clatter on the side table and stood up abruptly. Then Illya asked in a sly, laughing tone, ‘’Pol’yon, you thinking’ve girls again?’
Napoleon looked down, and blood rushed to his cheeks. It wasn’t the only place where blood had rushed. He was sporting a burning erection that bobbed and waved slightly as he spun away from Illya muttering, ‘Oh god, oh god...’
Damn male biology. Damn the laughing gods who had seen fit to curse men with this reaction. He left Illya in the chair and practically ran into the bathroom, gathering up his clothes and pulling on underpants and trousers over the awkward protuberance, heedless of the fact that they had got half soaked on the floor. He stood for a moment facing the wall, breathing hard, trying to think of his mother, think of shoes, think of Waverly naked. God.
He turned back, and Illya was still there, resoundingly naked, watching him with wide innocence in his eyes.
‘’Pol’yon? N-Na-pol-e-on?’ he sounded out very carefully.
Napoleon breathed out hard. That was the first slim sign that his friend was starting to sober up a bit. He spent a couple more moments composing himself, then went back over to Illya, lifting his hand and carefully unwrapping the water and blood soaked bandage from it. He examined the gash on the back, and felt sorry for the nasty wound he had caused by ripping out the cannula so carelessly. He needed something clean to wrap around Illya’s hand and all he could think of was his shirt; not hygienically clean, he was sure, but certainly the cleanest thing in this flea-bitten room. He found the driest sleeve, ripped it into a bandage and, using some as wadding, re-wrapped the wound. Then he looked carefully at the bump on Illya’s head. It seemed ironic that the worst of Illya’s injuries before Napoleon had got hold of him had been a small needle hole in his hand and an incipient case of alcohol poisoning. That was the big thing, of course. He had got to Illya before too much of the stuff had entered his veins. He probably wouldn’t even get a hangover considering it was pure alcohol.
He crouched and picked up the coffee cup again, insinuated himself between Illya’s lolling knees again.
‘Come on,’ he said gently. ‘Let’s get more of this into you. Down the hatch.’
Illya was still staring at him with wide eyes, but he sipped at the coffee trustingly. Napoleon brushed away a small amount that trickled down his chin, and unthinkingly licked it off his fingers. At the look on Illya’s face he instinctively glanced down to the Russian’s groin to see if his reaction was mirrored there, but of course with that much alcohol in his system there wouldn’t be anything to see.
When he looked up again Illya was suddenly very close, close enough that his breath huffed out warm and alcohol-laden over Napoleon’s face, making him feel momentarily dizzy. And while he was caught in that liquor-thick haze, Illya kissed him.
Napoleon scurried back as if he had been stung, and Illya cried out peevishly, ‘Oh, ’Pol’yon, com’on,’ flopping forward after him and ending up sprawled on the floor. Napoleon went after Illya’s clothes urgently. He was dry enough now that he could at least manage to manhandle underpants onto Illya’s body. He had to not notice the firmness of his calves, the muscles in his thighs, the incredible complex of muscle in his buttocks as he slipped the pants up. He had to pretend not to feel the sleek buttock that fitted so well in the palm of his hand.
Illya arched his hips off the floor a little in an unexpectedly cooperative move, and as a scent of musk rose from his groin Napoleon almost groaned aloud. He decided to try the trousers too, because Illya lying there in tight underpants and otherwise naked was almost worse than the flagrant nudity. It was titillating.
‘All right,’ he said again as soon as he had fought the trousers onto him and closed the zip and done up the button. ‘Come on, let’s get you on your feet.’
Illya held out his hand magnanimously, and Napoleon caught it and pulled him up. He still needed a good deal of support, though, as he showed a tendency to waver as he moved, gently murmuring the words to some Russian song as he did.
It was almost no better. Illya lolled against him and Napoleon had his arm around his back, and there was a lot of naked flesh pressed against naked flesh.
Illya kissed me. He kissed me…
He tried to talk to Illya as he walked him around and around the room, but all he could think of was Illya’s lips against his, smelling of coffee and alcohol. Illya’s warm lips, softer than he had imagined, and not tainted with the chemical smear of lipstick like almost every woman of his experience. Oh god, he wanted to fall back against Illya’s lips and lie with him on the floor, and he wanted to fuck him, very gently and very slowly, and then hard and fast, until the sweat poured between them. He wanted them to come together, to call out in animal gratification together, to shake the walls and crack the windows with the force of their climax.
If the locals would have disapproved of Illya wandering the streets blind drunk, they would likely be stoned to death for the acts he was thinking of now…
Illya was talking…
‘Coffee, ’Pol’yon. Coffee?’
‘Oh. Oh, er, yeah – ’
He grabbed another cup as they passed the table, held it to Illya’s mouth again as they walked on in their tight circle on the dirty tile floor.
‘’Pol’yon, I think I’m drunk,’ Illya said.
Napoleon stopped short. His laugh was a sudden bellow in the small room.
‘Yes, my friend,’ he said, wiping his eyes. ‘Yes, indeed. You are drunk. But we’re going to get you sober, okay? I need you to be sober. Really need you to be.’
‘Oh, brother. Oh, brother,’ Illya mumbled as they moved, but now he was managing to hold the cup himself and his voice sounded a little clearer.
‘Good, good, a little more now,’ Napoleon cajoled him along, getting him another cup of coffee. Then he settled Illya back down in the chair that had been the setting for so many erotic thoughts, and gave him yet another cup while he went off to pack everything into their single suitcase, checking the room meticulously because Waverly would have their hides if they left any U.N.C.L.E. property behind.
He glanced back at Illya again, who was sitting very still with his coffee pressed against his lips, at a tilt that meant a continuous flow trickled slowly into his mouth.
‘Oh, boy, Napoleon,’ Illya said, and Napoleon grinned at the clarity in his voice.
‘That’s great, Illya,’ he said. ‘That’s really great. Keep on drinking. You’re doing well. You’re coming back to me, huh?’
Illya gazed at him, then staggered to his feet suddenly and wandered into the bathroom, and Napoleon held him as he leant his hips against the porcelain of the basin and urinated copiously into the plug hole.
Illya squinted as Napoleon ran the taps. ‘Was’at – was – that right, Napol’yon?’
Napoleon grinned at him as he led him back into the other room.
‘Almost, IK. Almost.’
He helped Illya lower himself back down into the chair, where he sat mumbling for a moment, before looking up at him with wide eyes. ‘They put an alc – al – ’
That word was still beyond him.
Napoleon nodded. ‘Yeah, they put an alcohol drip in your hand. You’ve been royally drunk, my friend. Three sheets to the wind.’
Illya looked around confusedly. ‘Are there sheets?’
Napoleon snorted. ‘Illya, do you think you told them anything?’
Illya’s forehead furrowed. He leant forward as if that would help his thinking.
‘I – I think – think th’training came to fore,’ he said, frowning at his knees. ‘False susgestons.’
‘Suggestions,’ Napoleon corrected him with an indulgent smile. ‘Okay, that’s good. Illya, do you feel sober enough to act sober in public? We need to get going for the pick up.’
Illya flopped back into the chair again with a thump. ‘How – how – how – ’ His mouth worked for a moment. ‘How – d’I feel sober t’act sober drunk?’
That one was even beyond Napoleon, and he had never been more sober in his life. He stared at Illya for a few moments then said, ‘Well, I tell you, I don’t know. But just try, all right? Can you get up on your feet?’
Illya sat vacantly for long enough that Napoleon was about to ask him again, but then he suddenly sat up straight and launched himself to his feet, and stood there, rocking. Napoleon poured out a final cup of coffee.
‘Come on. One last slug, huh? Then we need to get our shirts on and get out of here.’
Illya looked down at himself with mild surprise, as if he hadn’t realised he was shirtless. Napoleon passed the top over and helped him get into it, buttoning the buttons when Illya’s fingers fumbled and then taking over completely to do up his tie. He figured the smarter Illya looked, the better, if he were going to walk through the streets still so drunk.
‘Hey, where’s my – my holster?’ Illya asked, looking about vaguely and poking his finger into the little stitched slit beneath his shirt pocket.
‘I think they must have taken that when they had you prisoner. I’ve still got my gun, though. I wouldn’t want to let you loose with a weapon in this state.’
Illya looked down at himself, eyes widening as he said in a tone of outrage, ‘N’pol’yon, I am very re-spec-ta-ble.’
Napoleon looked him up and down. ‘Yeah, look at you, with your shirt tails flapping out and a goose egg on your head and blood all over your hand. Breath that smells like a brewery too. Very respectable.’
He reached forward to tuck in Illya’s shirt all around his waist, feeling a very strange mixture of feelings as he did so. Illya leant in towards him as he reached around to do the back, and he found the Russian flopping against his chest again.
‘I love you, N’pol’yon,’ he said. ‘I really really do.’
Napoleon ruffled his drying hair with one hand and said, ‘Yeah, I love you too, kid.’
Then he pulled away to put on his own shirt and tie and look for his jacket, which although a bit warm for this weather would hide the fact that his shirt was missing a sleeve.
They reached the small private airport with time to spare, and almost as soon as they were in the cabin of the compact little luxury jet Illya sprawled out over a long sofa seat and fell fast asleep. Napoleon took a padded chair on the opposite side of the small space and stretched out his legs as the pilot levelled the plane off after their brisk take off. It wasn’t often that Waverly sprung to a private flight like this, and he intended to enjoy it while he could. There was a glass of scotch waiting for him on the table and a plate of sandwiches that had been put out for them, and all he had to do on the long flight back was relax.
But he found his gaze drifting again and again to Illya, slack and innocent in sleep, his hair still ruffled and his hand still bound with that makeshift bandage, and the bruise on his forehead spreading down around his eye as time went on. He looked like a child who had been caught fighting and then sent to bed without any supper. Except…
Except Illya was no child. He had known that when they had stood together under the chilly shower water in their hotel. He had known it when he knelt between Illya’s out-flung thighs trying to feed him coffee, and only really wanting to bend his head and feed himself at another fount. Dear god, what would Illya say if he remembered all of that? What on earth would happen to their relationship? He had got an erection, for god’s sake, just from the sight of his partner, from the sight of his partner while he was helpless and vulnerable because of what had been done to him at the hands of Thrush. Sure, he had only been drunk, but not at all of his own volition. He had been compromised as surely as if Thrush had shot him full of truth serum.
Napoleon rubbed his hands over his face, then lifted the scotch and downed it in one mouthful. What would Illya say if he were as drunk as his partner had been when they put down in Paris? Well, that was one way to avoid things, he supposed. He poured himself another measure, threw it to the back of his throat, then leant his head back, closing his eyes.
Something dropped with a thud to the carpet, and he sat bolt upright, staring. He must have fallen asleep. He looked down to see the empty glass there, picked it up, then straightened to look straight into Illya’s icy gaze. He noticed idly that the plate of sandwiches, untouched when he had closed his eyes, was now empty; but his eyes were dragged back to Illya’s, which seemed to carry a blast direct from the Arctic.
‘Napoleon,’ Illya said primly.
Solo wasn’t sure if it was good he was speaking so clearly now, or terrifying. On the whole he thought he’d plump for terrifying. There was a clarity in Illya’s vision that he hadn’t seen since they had parted just before Illya had been taken by Thrush.
‘Illya,’ he said carefully. Just a syllable wrong could set light to a very short fuse. ‘How – er – how are you feeling?’
Illya moved his hand to touch the lump on his head tenderly. ‘I have been better.’
‘Hangover?’ Napoleon risked, knowing he was on very shaky ground now, but feeling like he needed to pick at this particular scab.
‘No,’ Illya said, and Napoleon shivered. The Russian leant forward and carefully poured himself a measure of whiskey, but then he shook his head and pushed the half-full glass away. ‘On second thoughts, I think I have had enough alcohol to last me a lifetime.’
‘Er – yes,’ Napoleon agreed tentatively. ‘Yes, maybe you have. You’re – er – lucky it wasn’t – ’
That was when the ice cracked. ‘Lucky?’ Illya’s voice was a soft hiss.
‘Er – ’ Napoleon instinctively flattened himself a little more against his seat, creating just another couple of inches between him and the Russian.
Then Illya said in a very composed voice, ‘I must apologise, Napoleon, for anything I may have – inadvertently – ’
‘Done?’ Napoleon hazarded, at the same moment that Illya said, ‘Let slip.’
‘Let slip?’ Napoleon echoed in shock, running those words around his head, gauging the precise meaning. Illya usually spoke precisely, unless he was having fun playing with words. ‘Illya – er – do you mean – that – ’
Illya’s face was a wall of ice, but there was a slight pink breaking through high up on his cheeks.
‘What I mean – ’ he began.
‘Is that you wanted to kiss me,’ Napoleon completed Illya’s sentence with a sudden feeling of triumph. ‘You, Illya Nikolayevich Kuryakin, wanted to kiss me.’
Illya’s eyes grew, if possible, colder still, but it seemed to be a façade over shame and withdrawal, not an expression of anger. He looked as if he were about to rise, but really there was nowhere he could go unless he wanted to lock himself in the toilet, so the tension dropped out of his thighs again.
‘Napoleon, there isn’t any sense in – ’ he began impatiently, but Napoleon leant forward now, resting his elbows on his knees, and risked his life by saying, ‘Illya, I wanted to kiss you.’
At that, colour flooded Illya’s cheeks. ‘You – wanted to?’
Napoleon judged that it was just about safe to laugh, so he allowed a small chuckle.
‘So, my little – er – ’ He saw Illya’s expression and realised he wasn’t quite ready for endearments. ‘So,’ he began again, ‘you wanted to kiss me, and I wanted to kiss you.’
‘You – pushed me away,’ Illya flustered. ‘I distinctly remember – ’
Napoleon shook his head. ‘Illya, you know me well enough. Have I ever forced my attentions on anyone who didn’t have the mental capacity to consent?’
Illya’s head tilted sideways a little, then straightened up again. ‘N-no,’ he said falteringly. ‘No, you haven’t.’
‘And when my friend had been lying on a Thrush medical bed with pure alcohol being fed into his veins – do you think that’s a time when I’d decide to do away with that particular ethos?’
It was Napoleon’s turn to cock his head. ‘Illya, you’re quite, quite sober now, aren’t you?’
For the first time since waking up on the plane, a slight smile touched Illya’s face.
‘Quite,’ he said succinctly.
‘Illya, when you were sitting naked on that chair in the hotel room it was all I could do not to jump on top of you. Don’t you remember my – er – ’
‘Your – ’ Illya nudged, but then his eyes drifted in memory, and suddenly widened. ‘Napoleon, that was for me?’
‘Of course it was for you, you Russian imbecile. Did you see anyone else in the room? Even a picture postcard of a pretty lady? What did you think? I was getting hard because I liked the décor?’
Illya looked down at himself, as if the idea that someone could find that body attractive was incredible to him. Actually, Napoleon reflected, it probably was incredible to him. Illya was the least body-focussed person he knew. And then Illya’s eyes drifted to the galley, beyond which was the pilot’s cockpit.
‘There’s only one pilot, isn’t there?’ he asked. ‘He can’t leave the cockpit, can he? At least, not without calling one of us through on the intercom?’
‘Yeah, there’s only one,’ Napoleon nodded. ‘Since we’re both qualified to fly this thing. I don’t think Waverly wanted to spring to – ’
Before he could finish his sentence he was tumbled to the carpeted floor by five foot seven of hot Russian, and this time when Illya’s lips pressed against his he didn’t, couldn’t, back away. He opened his mouth to the faint remaining taste of pure alcohol and Illya’s saliva, which turned out now to be the most delicious thing he had ever tasted.
His last coherent thought as Illya started to strip him of his clothes was, Hmm, I’ve never done it on a Lear jet...