I. New York headquarters
Nicko Korby. Illya Kuryakin, number two, Section Two, looked in disgust at the false identity papers his boss, Alexander Waverly, handed him. It would take a mediocre Thrush agent no more than five minutes to see through the play with his name.
He looked over to Napoleon Solo, his partner. For once, he was quiet. He seemed flabbergasted.
"Oh-oh, Napoleon. Do not tell me that your secret identity is Bonaparte Single?"
"Worse." Napoleon seemed to have trouble pressing words out through tightly closed lips.
Okay. This was pathetic, but Illya, somber agent for UNCLE, couldn't quite suppress a small smirk.
"Let me see, Napoleon." He grabbed his partner's hand, turning it so he could see the ID. Wo-ho! Caesar Singleton. With a moustache, thanks to their latest mission. The snicker escaping his mouth could not have been stopped by a Thrush bullet. He tried to sober up.
"So, what do I call you, partner? Sissy?" It was fun teasing Napoleon. His irritating self-assurance needed to be challenged now and then.
"Illya!" Napoleon sounded indignant. "This is not funny," he snatched Illya's ID, "Nicko."
Illya tried to look serious. Napoleon was glaring.
"When did you develop a sense of humor, Illya? I thought all you Russians were depressed, moody vodka drinkers?"
"That is just the image we want to give the world, Napoleon. In reality we are a happy, easygoing people."
Napoleon looked doubtful.
"Gentlemen." Mr. Waverly had their immediate attention. "I must stress the utmost importance of this mission. We have only received unconfirmed information yet, but it seems that this time, Thrush has a major operation planned inside the USA."
"By infiltrating hippie communities?" Napoleon raised his chin in that skeptical way only he could get away with in front of Mr. Waverly. "Pardon me, but what kind of power would Thrush gain by controlling those groups?"
"That is up to you to find out Mr. Solo, Mr. Kuryakin." The Old Man waved his pipe at Napoleon. Illya could see tiny bits of brown tobacco fly through the air and fall slowly to land on the table. "You will not be alone. There will also be UNCLE agents going undercover in other cities with a large hippie contingent."
Mr. Waverly handed them some documents. "Everything you will need has already been provided for you: appropriate clothing, a car, and an apartment. Your contact and back up will be in a book store called "Beat Haven."
Napoleon and Illya risked an amused and quick glance at each other, hoping Mr. Waverly wouldn't notice.
"Now, I suggest," Waverly continued, "I suggest, gentlemen, that you spend today getting used to your new personae, poet and political activist. I trust you will handle living in Greenwich Village as well as you handle missions in any other exotic surroundings."
Illya turned and eyed Mr. Waverly suspiciously. "Excuse me, Sir. Since I already, well, live in the village," he saw Napoleon raise his eyebrows, "are there other 'exotic surroundings' we have to take into account?"
And that was the crucial point, wasn't it.
"Yes Mr Kuryakin. Very perceptive of you. It seems that Thrush is targeting one particular group in the hippie neighborhoods. You will have to pose as a homosexual couple. Or 'gay', as I understand the contemporary term is."
Napoleon's mouth fell open. Illya guessed he didn't quite believe what he heard.
"I know, Mr Solo. You will have to put aside your womanizing ways for awhile, along with your suits. You," Mr Waverly nodded at both of them, "are my best team. This will be no different from other missions."
"You mean we shall have to live as homosexuals, sir?" Illya felt blood drain from his face in a rush. This would be hard. How could he not give himself away?
"Yes, Mr Kuryakin, that is correct." Waverly nodded. "I have faith that you will succeed, gentlemen. See to it that you do. There is no time for dallying."
They knew a dismissal when they heard one, so they managed a 'yes, sir' in unison, and left.
"Come on, partner, time to join the beat generation!" Napoleon was worried at Illya's lack of a sarcastic response. He placed a hand on Illya's black-clad shoulder as they walked back to their shared office. The slim body was rigid under his fingers.
Napoleon guessed he knew what was bothering his quiet partner. The unexpected factor in this mission.
"I....um...we." Napoleon rolled his eyes. He was the talkative one, wasn't he? "I have never played gay before, Illya. But," he patted Illya's shoulder reassuringly, "we are partners, friends even. I'm sure we'll figure it out. Besides, haven't people been giving us hints about our behavior for years, already? It will come naturally to us. And it's not as if we have to, uh, you know, eh, go all the way?" Gods, he was babbling.
But Illya still did not respond, and when they entered the office, he walked straight to the cupboard where they kept a bottle for emergencies. Which it apparently was now.
Napoleon continued over to the window, turned, and grabbed the edge of the window sill. He watched, almost mesmerized, as Illya took out the bottle of vodka, unscrewed the cork, grabbed a glass, poured it full to the rim, and chucked it down in one go. And all in the blink of a moment. Napoleon stared.
Some color returned to Illya's pale cheeks.
"Napoleon." Illya opened his mouth, but nothing more came out. Napoleon could see Illya swallow, and try again. "Napoleon."
'Spit it out, Illya.'
"Fuck! Bloody hell!"
Oh, boy. This was serious. Illya never swore in English. At least it got him talking. But Illya looked more apprehensive than was his wont.
"Napoleon. As you know, it will be easy for me to go undercover in the Village."
"Ah, yes, you live there," Napoleon knew there was more to come, "and?"
Illya's blue eyes watched him intently. "And it will be easy for me to go under cover as a homosexual, Napoleon, since I am bisexual. I believe that is the correct term."
Napoleon gripped the edge of the window sill harder, and rested the back of his head against the windowpane.
That was not what he had expected Illya to say. He was shocked of course, but maybe not as shocked as he would have thought. Maybe he would react later, when his brain started working again.
"Why haven't you told me before? We're friends, aren't we?" And. "I've seen you with women, Illya."
"I said bisexual, Napoleon." Illya rubbed his face with a shaking hand. "Besides, I hoped this would never become an issue between us. I have no wish to make our friendship awkward."
Napoleon could see Illya's point, because he knew his introvert and fiercely private partner. This wasn't something anyone just blurted out.
He searched Illya's face. He looked nervous, and worse; he let him see it. He needed to reassure Illya that this changed nothing; and quickly.
"Isn't that illegal in the Soviet Union?" Ouch. That wasn't what he had planned to say, at all.
"Yes," Illya answered. He looked just as surprised as Napoleon himself felt for asking that.
Napoleon waved his hands in the general direction of East, "do they know?"
Okay. He nodded toward Waverly's office; "My guess is that the Old Man knows."
"And now you know, too, Napoleon. Will it bother you?" Illya still looked uncharacteristically nervous, dragging a still shaking hand through his hair.
Illya felt he was entitled to some nervousness. It disturbed him that he had had to disclose one of the secrets he wanted to keep from Napoleon. His sexual orientation. He did not want their partnership to suffer, it meant too much to him. Napoleon meant too much to him.
What if Napoleon, once he had recovered, was unable to continue working with him? He needed Napoleon to say something. Now. He looked at Napoleon, who stood with his back to the window, light sparkling in his dark hair.
Napoleon closed his eyes. The windowpane was cool against the back of his head. Christ. Jesus. His chest, his stomach was hurting. Was this the proverbial sinking feeling? He clutched his arms over his waist, gripping the glass in one hand, protectively. Nameless men paraded in front of him, all taking liberties with his partner, liberties that he didn't know about, hadn't dreamed about.
"Napoleon," Illya sounded a bit put out. "I do not know what is affecting you more."
Napoleon opened his eyes. Illya did look annoyed. But also, regretful? "What?" He gave Illya what he hoped was a nonchalant, questioning glance.
"The fact that I have been with men, or the fact that I am not very interested in competing with you for those brainless women you hunt all the time."
Napoleon swallowed his second shot. It made a burning trail down to his stomach, which was still aching nicely along with his chest. He felt a tremulous smile tug at his lips.
"You mean I should be annoyed when you tell me the field is wide open for me to enjoy?" Napoleon could hear his voice was hoarse. He needed another shot of that Russian firewater.
"No," Illya sloshed their glasses full again. You are not paying attention, Napoleon. Bi means that I have two fields to play on. Which should annoy your promiscuous nature." A smile was definitely tugging at Illya's lips.
Oh, now. "On the contrare, mon ami. When your attention is divided, I will swoop in for the kill. So to speak" He tried for a feral grin.
"Au contraire," you mean?" Illya seemed to sober up. "Will we be fine?"
Napoleon didn't like the hint of unconscious doubt in Illya's voice. "We will be fine, Illya." He clinked their glasses together. "To us!" But in his mind, nameless men were still doing nameless things to Illya's body, and his chest was still aching. With an internal sigh, he pushed this back for examining later.
"To us," Illya echoed, tossing down his second shot.
Napoleon swallowed his own drink, watching Illya. He was still tense, despite the small smile. Not good. He must be very careful with what he said and did. He would indeed have to examine how he felt about Illya's confession later. So—back to the mission, maybe?
He patted Illya's arm. "That you prefer men doesn't bother me, Illya. What did bother me, just a moment ago, was that I wouldn't be able to pass as a gay hippie convincingly enough. But now," he gave Illya one of his broadest smiles, usually reserved for, well, come to think of it, Illya, "I feel confident that this will work out fine."
He truly wanted Illya to relax. He did not like to see his partner out of sorts. "You help me with this persona, I help you write poetry."
Something shifted in Illya, nothing visible, just a small adjustment; a ripple under his skin.
"I am not sure that is a bargain, Napoleon." Illya, thank god, smirked a little. "For me, I mean. You? Write poetry?" He snorted in that endearing way of his. "I know you are good at seducing ignorant females with reciting poems, but original work? Puh!"
What? Napoleon couldn't let that pass unchallenged. "Even though I didn't know about haiku, I will have you know that I'm a literate man, Illya!"
Illya only rolled his eyes. "Yes, Alyesha told me so. 'My love is like a red, red rose'. Really, Napoleon. That is not original poetry." His Russian seemed his sarcastic self again. "I am supposed to convince people that I am a poet, Napoleon. You only have to discuss radical politics, which you do all the time anyway."
Illya walked closer, lifted one of his strong hands and stroked Napoloen's cheek. "I know you will miss your suits, Napoleon, and the female company. We will stop this Thrush activity quickly, and you can be back having dinner with Serena, Sandy, or Salty, or..."
"Yes, yes, I get it, hippie boy. I'll survive." Was Illya sensing the unease he was trying to hide? Absolutely not good. A distraction was needed. "Let's check out what haute couture Section IV has provided us with." Napoleon pointed at the two bags on his desk.
Illya opened the bags and poked around in the contents, holding up colorful and wrinkled garments for his inspection.
This was beyond embarrassing. He was supposed to wear that? "Illya, for the mercy of god, let's continue these preparatory activities at my apartment. I need to be intoxicated to survive this. Dinner first. My treat."
Illya, of course, that little rascal, immediately looked interested. "As you wish, Napoleon."
"Oh, and Napoleon? I want to drive." Illya mimed gearshift and steering.
"Why can't I drive? I'm sure it's an interesting car. Maybe a European import."
Illya shook his head, golden bangs flying. "Absolutely not, Napoleon. When you are the slightest inebriated, you drive like Batman. I will not risk my life today."
"Well, if you put it that way..." Napoleon grabbed one of the bags, and motioned Illya to walk in front of him.
So Illya was gay. Strangely, it didn't seem to bother him. It even felt right, in a strange sort of way. What did bother him, if he was honest with himself, was what Illya might have been doing without his knowledge. Had anyone touched that bouncy little ass, making Illya moan? He opened his mouth to ask. Luckily his brain intervened and screamed stop at the last moment. And where on earth did that thought come from? He preferred women, with soft curves. Not his male partner's hard body.
They handed in their badges to Nina in the hall, and left headquarters through the faithful little shop, Del Floria's. Illya jingled the keys as they ventured down to the garage and found the vehicle they were supposed to use. The keychain had a little metal plate with 'VW' printed on one side, so he had a premonition about what it would be.
Napoleon stumbled to a halt at his side, and gasped. "My God, Illya!" The expression on Napoleon's usually controlled face was priceless.
"I'm glad you're driving. I expected a European import, but not that it would be quite so, well, painted."
Illya eyed the VW minibus critically. "So, you don't appreciate the graffiti or the peace-signs? Or is it the lilac and turquoise flowers you object to?"
Napoleon shuddered and made a furtive search of their surroundings. "Let's just get in and drive. I don't want anyone to connect us to this vehicle."
Illya fought a smile and lost. "Afraid your babe of the week will spot you, Mr. Romeo?"
He could clearly hear Napoleon's little growl. Yes. This could be the bonus of the mission. His irritatingly perfect partner would have to wear unusual clothes and look less than well groomed. And live in...unusual surroundings. Homosexual surroundings.
He managed to get the car unlocked at the third attempt, which told him enough about how shaken he still was after having to reveal his secret to Napoleon.
How would he survive the next weeks? This must be the most difficult mission ever.
Illya darted a quick glance over at Napoleon, who seemed his usual calm self again, after the car-shock. It was comforting how well Napoleon seemed to take his revelation, but then again, he had not really expected his liberal partner to be a homophobe either. But it was not fair. Why was Napoleon not more disturbed by this?
One turn of the key, and the minibus surprised Illya by starting smoothly. Driving toward Napoleon's apartment was familiar, which left him a chance to brood on the latest turn of events. He wanted to panic. He wished he were religious. He had heard calling God for help was soothing for fried nerves.
"Chinese?" Napoleon interrupted his attempt at panicking.
"Fine. Peking House?" Seeing Napoleon's nod, Illya turned left to stop at their favourite Chinese take away.
Napoleon went in to pick up their food, which gave Illya more time to brood. What he needed was a plan. How to behave so that Napoleon did not discover his other big secret. It would be very hard to live so close to Napoleon and make him believe his acting was just that. Acting. And he would not be hopeful because of how calm Napoleon had behaved. After all, Napoleon had dated more women than there had lived in his childhood village.
Dinner preparation was to spread the containers out on the table. Illya ate with his usual ravenous appetite. Napoleon picked at his food, thoughts once more returning to Illya's confession. But Illya interrupted his musings.
"Napoleon, I was thinking." Illya bit his lip. "If Thrush is infiltrating hippie communities all over America, what is their purpose? And what do those communities have in common?"
"Being radical? Badly dressed? Killing braincells by the thousand with dope?" Napoleon was actually quite pleased with that list, and smiled at Illya.
Who smiled back. "You know, partner, that may very well be it."
"It?" Napoleon raised his eyebrows.
"Yes, it. The reason why Thrush is launching a large campaign right now. They may think this is the correct time to infiltrate Western power bases. This may be their devilish plan, Napoleon. What would you do if you wanted to gain political power?"
"Bribe, betray, and maybe bully?"
The dirty look Illya gave Napoleon showed he was not amused.
"Okay. Seriously, Illya, I would try to find powerful allies and gain the support of the people. I would need a good network."
"Exactly. The communities Thrush agents are spotted in are opposed to governmental politics."
"Yes," Napoleon continued Illya's reasoning, "they also have popular support, and Thrush can provide both, I hate to admit it, a good network, and large amounts of money which they have at their disposal."
"Added to that, we have received reports about strange drugs being distributed to these groups, making the male users strangely receptive to suggestions." Illya looked eager, waving his chopsticks in the air.
"And who has been giving out those prescription-free goodies?" Napoleon answered his own question. "Thrush agents, posing as gay hippies." He squeezed Illya's arm. "This may very well be what we are looking for!"
Illya nodded. "As you also know, Napoleon, just to make this even more interesting, several prominent members of these radical groups have disappeared lately, supposedly to visit family. When have radical youths ever wanted to stay with their families for an extended period of time?"
"And," Napoleon mused, "no UNCLE agents have been able to trace them, either. We have been looking into it, in connection with those drug distribution cases, according to the reports I have seen."
"So, I think we may be "onto something", as you might put it." Illya expertly picked up a chunk of beef and propped into his mouth.
Napoleon agreed. "Let's make it an early night. I want to leave tomorrow morning. But first, shouldn't we, ah, plan our cover?"
"We should, Napoleon." Illya looked suddenly apprehensive. "Finished eating?"
Illya put away the left overs, while Napoleon lit a fire in the fireplace; the evenings were still chilly.
"Coffee, Napoleon?" Illya looked questioningly at him from the kitchen doorway.
"I'll stick to the brandy, tonight." He needed something stronger than coffee.
Illya came back into the living room, and they sat in comfortable silence, watching the flames; Napoleon in his favourite leather chair, Illya on the floor in front of him, leaning against his legs. Napoleon handed Illya his glass, filled with vodka; brandy already in his own glass.
Everything was peaceful, ordinary. Plans were made, details figured out, the rest would be up to luck and their skill.
Napoleon felt his heart rate increase. There was one thing he wasn't skilled in... But it had to count for something that he was very experienced with women, didn't it? A warm body was a warm body. Right. Then again, maybe not. Well, he would get expert help. Illya was professional and thorough in everything he did.
Napoleon tentatively ran his hands over Illya's firm shoulders. "We need to make new boundaries, find new ways to touch each other, for this to work, don't we?"
Illya nodded, sipping at his glass, still staring into the flames. "Nervous?"
"A trifle. My experience hasn't covered this. Yet." He bent and nuzzled Illya's hair with the tip of his nose. The masculine scent of his partner was mixed with the subtly herbal smell of Illya's shampoo.
Illya stretched a bit and turned, wide eyes meeting his.
The flickering light from the fire sparkled gold in Illya's blue eyes, and made his pale hair shine. Napoleon surprised himself; he thought Illya looked gorgeous.
Illya put down his glass, placed warm hands on Napoleon's suit covered legs, stroking them. "You have no idea how beautiful you look, do you? Or," Illya smiled a little, "perhaps you do."
Well, he had heard women point this out to him now and then, but that didn't matter now. Napoleon buried his hands in Illya's soft hair, daring himself. "You are the beautiful one, Illya. I know why both men and women turn when you pass. Eyes like heaven, hair like the sun." Yes, he felt mellow, and he wondered why he hadn't noticed before how attractive Illya was.
"Ooh, sappy, Napoleon." Illya smiled and pressed his face between Napoleon's thighs.
Ah, Napoleon heard himself gasp. It felt so very intimate. No one had done something like this to him before, and...and, god, Illya was inhaling him, and talking...
"You even smell good; soap, cologne, and to me; familiar. You are like every gay man's dream. Dark hair, warm, brown eyes, that charming dimple. Shirt open." Illya shocked him by letting his hands glide over his chest and stomach, twitching his nipples and, oh, biting the inside of his thighs—through the woolen pants.
"Wear these pants, Napoleon, leave your white shirt open like this, your tie hanging around your neck," Illya tugged at the ends, "keep this debauched look, and you will never be let out again from a gay bar."
"Am I scaring you, Napoleon?" Illya pushed himself up on his knees, and caressed Napoleon's new moustache with his thumbs. His smile was irritatingly mischievous. "You are quiet, now. You are not, as they say, 'freaking out'?"
Was he? Napoleon pouted and gave a little shake with his head.
"Napasha, I will not do more than you want, what we have to; kisses, touches. You know that?" Napoleon did a double take. Illya's fingers were tracking the edge of his leather belt now, touching skin.
"Bah-ah," Napoleon's voice had decided to obey him again. "Ah, Illya, I know that." He grinned. "Besides, I am stronger than you. I wouldn't let you do anything to me that I wouldn't want you to."
Illya directed enigmatic eyes at him. "There are many answers to that, Napoleon. For example..."
Illya launched himself into his lap, tickling him mercilessly. "Mr Ticklish, I can make you do anything!"
Jesus! It took some time for his sluggish brain to react. "Mr Ticklish?" He couldn't stop the giggles from escaping.
"I do have a dictionary, Napoleon. Ticklish is a perfectly acceptable English word." Illya stopped, twining their hands, suddenly serious again. "I will kiss you now. May I?"
Napoleon choked back the rest of his laughter, suddenly nervous. Could he do this? How would he react?
But Illya caressed him, like he was something precious. Napoleon clumsily held on to him, while Illya used his fingers and his mouth to trace the outlines of his face, making it tingle. Then, soft and familiar, Illya kissed him. A no nonsense kiss, lips against lips. Old fashioned. Good. Too short.
"Okay, Napoleon?" Illya was whispering, searching his eyes.
He moaned. How could Illya ask that? Didn't he see that he was more than okay? He could feel his eyes crossing, for god's sake. And how embarrassing was that?
"Um. Try again, Illya. I need practice."
Illya nodded sagely, but Napoleon could see the mischievous glint in his eyes again. "Of course, Napoleon, practice makes perfect."
Before Napoleon could come up with a snappy reply to that, Illya leaned forward again, held him, giving him small, dry kisses; wet, sloppy kisses; and best of all, deep, long kisses, thrusting his agile tongue deep inside his mouth. Soul deep. And he was being sappy again. But. Christ. This was Illya. His partner.
Napoleon suddenly noticed how aroused Illya was, just from kissing. Illya's hard erection was poking into his stomach. Involuntarily, Napoleon thrust upwards, feeling himself start to harden in response. He gasped. What was happening to him? Was he suddenly turning gay? Was he turned on by a man?
But Illya held him. "Pasha. Don't worry. It is just a natural reaction to stimuli. Nothing more."
"I'm fine Illya, I...." Napoleon clutched Illya's waist and closed his eyes, breathing. Warm hands curved around his face. Firmer than any woman.
Illya placed a soft kiss on his forehead. "Let's go to bed Napoleon." The touch to his lips was sweet. "To sleep."
That... little... Napoleon tugged Illya even closer, and hugged him. Illya let out a startled little laugh. He could still feel Illya's erection between them, hard and hot. This shouldn't feel as exciting as it did.
"Well, okay. Your pajamas are in the guest room. Why don't you get it while I do the security check?"
"Get it, Napoleon?"
"Get it, as in put on your pajamas and join me in bed," He enjoyed the slightly dazed look on Illya's face, briefly there, before he again was his calm, albeit rumpled up, self.
Napoleon welcomed the familiar routine of shutting down his apartment for the night. He needed time to analyse. There was no denying how aroused he had been by Illya's touch. By kissing Illya. But was he ready for more? Was Illya ready for more?
Going through their long ago synchronized preparations for bed seemed almost anticlimactic, Napoleon thought as he joined Illya in the bathroom. Illya was already rinsing his mouth, so Napoleon took out his own toothbrush and picked up the tube of toothpaste Illya had left open on the sink.
"Everything ready, Napoleon?" Illya took the tube out of his hand, recapped it and placed it and his toothbrush on the shelf under the mirror.
Napoleon gurgled his yes-answer. But ready? Ready for what?
He stared at his reflection in the mirror. He looked the same on the outside. Napoleon Solo, agent. Spy. Ladies' man.
Oh, well. This wouldn't kill him.
When he walked into his bedroom, he could hear Illya in the guest room. Whistling something Russian sounding. No doubt putting on his sensible pajama bottoms. Illya's flannel was a trifle more sensible than Napoleon silk.
They had done just the same on countless previous missions when they had shared a bed and a room.
Only now, he knew more, he reflected, as he lay under the covers, waiting for Illya. And there he was. Looking almost debauched. Full lips swollen from their kissing, hair endearingly mussed, pajama top buttoned wrong. Napoleon held up the covers and beckoned Illya in beside him. Illya jumped in, snuggled into Napoleon's armpit, arm and leg slung over him, and promptly fell asleep.
Napoleon woke the next morning, tangled safely around Illya in his rumpled bed, smelling them. Just as always, Illya had hogged the covers. And just as always, they rose and went through the morning rituals without fuss. Dressed in their brightly colored hippie clothes, they left for their new home.
"You want to go by your apartment?" Napoleon watched his partner, the pink tip of Illya's tongue showing between his lips, as he manoeuvred through the heavy Manhattan traffic.
"There is nothing I need there for this mission." Illya changed lanes to avoid a cyclist. "The food will keep. No perishables."
"Ah." Napoleon thought about Illya's sparsely furnished apartment. Closed and empty of life. All of a sudden he wanted to hug his smaller partner to him, take care of him. Not that he would let the independent and self sufficient Illya know that, of course.
He turned, and let his eyes follow the stream of gray people on the sidewalk. The morning sun was illuminating the dust, making it shimmer into golden streams between them. It was beautiful in a sort of urban way. The moving people all looked like they had a purpose, a goal. A place to be. He blinked. Well, so did he. A fucking good place. With Illya. They lived their lives together, fighting for a safe and free world. He couldn't have stopped the laugh escaping him. It was that simple, wasn't it?
"What?" Illya peeked at him through the corner of his eye. "What, Napoleon?"
"Wouldn't you like to know?" He leaned over and placed a trail of small kisses from under Illya's ear, and down to the hem of his tie-dyed t-shirt. He licked up the same path, and traced the rim of the small ear. Illya's skin tasted sweet, he thought. He could feel Illya shudder, and the car swerved.
"What did you do that for?" Illya's voice was deep, although Napoleon guessed he tried for casual.
"Felt like it." He grinned. "It's a fine morning." He paused. "Practice."
"And it will be a fine mess if you are becoming unhinged, Napoleon." Illya was apparently trying to scowl.
"Nah. My brain is intact."
Illya, that heathen, was looking doubtful.
"Although, Nicko, I would have preferred some more time to prepare. I have no wish to give away our cover."
"Do not worry Napoleon. If you make a mistake, I will explain that you are Canadian." Illya had the beginnings of a smug expression now, the lower lip pouting a bit.
Napoleon stabbed Illya's shoulder with his finger. "You're making fun of my relatives, and," he let his own smile show again, "you're enjoying it!"
Illya stopped to wait for the lights to change, and turned to him. "Especially when I see the suave Napoleon Solo dressed in threadbare jeans and," he looked him up and down, "a fringed vest."
Napoleon groaned. But before he had a chance to find a witty response, Illya jerked the car forward on green, gearshift squeaking.
"I like your hair, by the way," Illya continued, eyes focused straight forward, assessing the traffic.
"You're obligated to say that. You wouldn't even let me comb it. You confiscated my hair oil. It's a mess!"
"My poor Sunshine," Illya tried, without success to look contrite.
"Yeah, yeah. What I do for the good of the cause. Or for my job. Which is the same, come to think of it."
"We all have to make sacrifices, Napoleon."
Illya turned the car into Waverly Place. The traffic was still heavy.
"I won't comment on the choice of street," Illya said, dryly. "But where is our house?"
"It should be here somewhere." Napoleon searched the identical brownstones lining the street. "There." He pointed across the street. "317."
Illya did a u-turn and wrenched the car into an empty parking space in front of the building.
"You say I drive like Batman?"
"But you do, Napoleon." Illya chuckled and patted his cheek.
"Besides, you watch the ladies on the sidewalk, instead of paying attention to the traffic."
"Well, I won't be doing that for a while." He didn't mean to sound so grumpy.
"No, you won't." Illya's eyes were unreadable. "I am sorry, Na...Sunshine. If you rather wish to..."
"No, no." Much to his own surprise, he gave Illya a quick hug. "Let's explore our accommodations."
Napoleon checked their surroundings. He was fairly sure they hadn't been followed on their way here, but it always paid to be careful. The sidewalks were full of people, this time no less colorfully dressed than themselves. He didn't spot anyone he recognized.
The two agents entered their building. The hallway was, luckily, deserted. Napoleon didn't think he was up to talking with their new neighbors yet. They walked up the stairs, and into their second floor apartment.
"Groovy, Sunshine." Illya looked around the living room.
"I hear you have brushed up on the idioms, honey?" The apartment was... different. Napoleon supposed that was the best term. Bright colors, worn furniture and not much more. Well, apart from the interesting linocuts on the walls. Probably made by psychotic gorillas. He shuddered and opened the door to what he discovered was the bedroom.
"Knowing your way around idioms is necessary to pass as a native, Napoleon." Illya brushed into his back and peered over his shoulder. "Let's unpack and 'hit the town', I wanna hang out in a bar."
Napoleon groaned. "Illya!" He mimed after you, and followed Illya into the bedroom.
"Maybe we should check in at the Beat Haven first. Our contact there might have received new information, Sunshine."
Illya was having far too much fun.
Out on the street again, Illya took Napoleon's hand and whistled. Napoleon eyed him suspiciously. "Nicko, why are you whistling?"
"Ssh," Illya stage whispered. "We are supposed to be a happy couple, Check out the others on this sidewalk."
And, yes, they were surrounded by gaily dressed, happy looking people. And dazed looking people.
"Well, some of them seem happy enough, I'll concede to that, honey. There are other expressions, too..." He raised a brow and tilted his head suggestively toward some youths sitting on a stairway.
Illya bounced around a bit, smiling inanely at him. "They've been smoking, dude, you know—pot?"
Napoleon raised his eyebrow again. "Really? I wouldn't have guessed."
"Ooh. Irony." Illya tweaked his nose.
"You sure you haven't inhaled some of that illegal substance yourself, honey? You are in an unusually chipper mood."
Illya only gave him a 'come on' expression. Luckily, Napoleon could still see glimpses of his Illya, the sharp agent, in his eyes.
"So tell me, where will you find inspiration for your poetry, Nicko? In a public restroom?"
Illya glared at him. "Yes, Sunshine, I remember one I saw in the men's room at "Bob's" last week.. 'Fuck is fuck, and fuck is funny, Fuck your..."
Napoleon clamped his hand over Illya's mouth.
"I get the idea. That is more than enough, Lord Byron."
Ouch. Illya bit his palm, but licked it soothingly afterwards. Napoleon took his hand away, and was rewarded with another poem.
"This one I have written, myself." Illya straightened up and posed.
"Come on. Get out! Peel the Bananas."
"Hm. That's fine. I think."
"Yes, is it not, my friend?" Illya pointed. "But here's the Beat Haven. I'll recite more poetry to you after we have checked in."
The Beat Haven turned out to be a rather large bookstore, selling both new and second hand books.
Napoleon left Illya in the store, seeing how he ogled the bookshelves hungrily. But first he bent and whispered in Illya's ear, after tucking aside the longish golden hair; "you stay here, master spy, check out the perimeter. I'll adjourn into the back, and meet with our secret contact."
Illya just crossed his eyes at him. Napoleon snagged a kiss, and walked quickly into what he, after checking his mental map, believed was the back room.
Napoleon was thoughtful when he returned to the store. Their contact was an older UNCLE agent called Allen Sither. He was posing as the store owner, and also as his uncle, to justify their meetings. Allen had not been able to give him much new information, only that a couple of known Thrush associates had been spotted at a favored venue for the young and angry—The Horse Shoe. They would have to check the place out.
He looked around for Illya, expecting to find him deeply engrossed in a dusty book.
What Napoleon had not expected, was to find his partner in what seemed like an intense conversation with a handsome young man. The stranger was tossing his long black hair back, and laughing with Illya. Showing far too many white teeth. Dark eyes were focused on his partner, and when the bastard placed a hand on Illya's shoulder, Napoleon growled. Enough was enough. Napoleon brushed lint from his sleeves, cursing the fact that he had no cuffs to straighten. He marched over.
"Nicko! I thought I would find you with your nose in a book."
Illya looked startled. "Very funny. This is Dave," he did a vague hand sign, "and, Dave, this is my partner, Caesar. I call him Sunshine. Most of the time."
The offending youth had the nerve to laugh at that.
"Hi." The Dave-character held out his hand, bracelets tinkling. Napoleon shook hands with him, maybe using a bit more force than he should have. Dave grimaced.
"I gotta go, catch you later!" With that, Dave jerked his hand free, and jogged for the door.
Illya scowled at him. "What was that for? I am trying to make contacts. Dave told me about a club where they have 'Readings', I can go there and read my poems." He leaned closer, and whispered. "We are at work, Caesar." He stepped back again, and ran his hands up and down Napoleon's arms. "If I did not know better, I would have said you were jealous."
Illya must have seen Napoleon's stunned expression, because he only tugged at his elbow. "Come on. Let's get lunch. I am hungry."
Napoleon pulled himself together. "Isn't that your slogan?"
Illya punched him lightly in his chest and grinned. "Well, come on then, cool cat."
"You have been reading up on your idioms. Have you memorized the newest slang dictionary?"
They had lunch at the Green Tavern. "Dave told me the food is great. And, Napoleon, a lot of new people have been coming here lately. In pairs. Talking politics. And," Illya patted Napoleon's arm, "Dave said they didn't look like real hippies."
Oh. "Well, I thought I resembled a fake hippie too."
Illya smiled that irritatingly happy smile again. "Do not worry, partner. I told Dave the cover story we agreed upon, that you had recently run away from your rich family and wanted to make it on your own."
"What! You lied?"
"Really, Sunshine." Illya mimed what he guessed was exasperation. "When are we honest?"
He had a point there. And apparently his uncle Allen was the other black sheep in their family, since he was still talking to him.
"Wanna hear another poem?"
No, he wanted Illya to go back to normal speech again. "Later? Food first?"
"Okay," Illya picked up the menu. "Dave told me they have some good vegetarian dishes."
"Dave told you?" He knew this was stupid of him. "I want pot roast."
Illya glared at him, leaned closer, and hissed in his ear. "We are supposed to be al-ter-na-tive, Mr. Singleton. Pot roast hardly qualifies as that. And, it's lunch."
Napoleon had his limits."I'm unconventionally dressed. My hair is unkempt. I'm undercover. That's enough. I'm not out to abuse my body. I want real food."
Illya stared at him. He stared back.
"Besides, I didn't think you said no to meat, Mr. Korby?"
Luckily, the waitress arrived to take their order. Napoleon ordered his pot roast, and Illya compromised with Jambalaya.
They ate, keeping up the small talk, till Napoleon thought about the poems again.
"Well, cynical poet, what's your plan? Not paraphrasing one of those wordy Russians you're so fond of?"
"My plan is to present experimental poetry. A cross between the classical haiku, which you by now should know, and the urban, tired contemporary poem." Illya assumed a haunted and poetical expression.
"Somewhere, Plums are squished—Kitchen morning."
"Or I can dig up some old ones. Not many would notice. "
Napoleon fought a grin.
"You are allowed to laugh, of course. My aim is to please."
Napoleon smiled. "That poem was actually funny. More?" He gave Illya's hand, resting on the table, a pat.
"You want me to recite more poetry to you? Okay."
"I scream Green bottles; Rattle"
"I thought, isn't that theme used before?"
"I can't be picky, I'm in a hurry. Here's the last for now." Illya creased his brow, looking like a child trying to remember his homework, Napoleon thought.
"Who can cycle, while boy and boy bonk? Arnie from Frisco, he has balls."
"Illya! That sounded dirty."
Illya winked at him.
Some days later—
Illya was nursing his glass of red wine, wishing for something stronger. A bottle of Stoli would have been sufficient. He was currently sitting together with Napoleon, his supposedly straight partner, in a supposedly gay bar. Searching for not-so-gay Thrush conspirators. And they were unbelievably easy to spot. In fact, they stood out like sore thumbs. Thrush training was apparently deteriorating at a shocking rate.
"Ceasar," he turned and spoke quietly to Napoleon, perched on the metal and plastic barstool next to him. Illya leaned closer to nuzzle the soft hair behind one small ear. "Check out those two at the end of the bar, over by the window."
"Hm. They look like the normal, straight gay couple to me. But I trust your hunches." Napoleon paused in his whispering, doing that little pout with his lips, making his strangely disturbing moustache bristle. "Is it a hunch?"
Napoleon could be so irritatingly smug.
"It is no hunch. They are no more homosexuals than you are." Illya tried to keep his voice down, but sometimes Napoleon was too much.
"Oh?" Napoleon had turned and was murmuring close to his ear.
"They ogle women, just like you do." Illya could not resist continuing. "Besides, there is that stamp on their foreheads. That is what you call a give-away."
That earned him a startled snicker before Napoleon stopped himself.
Illya emptied his glass, the wine leaving a spicy taste in his mouth. He should give Napoleon the rest of the information. "I believe I recognize one of the men, the big one. Our paths may have crossed during an operation in Greece a couple of years ago."
Napoleon turned casually and threw a quick glance at the pair. "May have?"
"That means it did. I know your memory, Einstein. Has he recognized you?" Napoleon looked worried.
"I doubt it. I was in disguise then. A different disguise."
"Ah, no flowers or fringes." Napoleon leaned closer, "then I suggest we follow our not-gay, not-hippie, not-friends when they leave this fine establishment."
Napoleon whispered this last into his ear, his lips tickling his Illya's skin. Illya quivered before he could tell his traitorous body to stop. And, oh, now Napoleon was licking into his ear. And why did Napoleon have to be so good at acting? Illya tried to pull away, before he gave himself away. Napoleon held on, strong arm around his shoulders and one warm hand gliding up and down his thigh.
Illya used all his inner strength and straightened. He turned and whispered into Napoleon's mouth. "If they separate, perhaps you should follow "Big Man", and I will see what the blond one is up to."
"Good plan, partner." Napoleon whispered back, sounding serious, but ruined the effect by making the contact a soft kiss.
Illya gripped Napoleon's upper arms, and thanked the forces that might be that they were in a bar where such behavior was accepted. After a moment he opened eyes he did not know he had closed, and drew back to look over Napoleon's shoulder.
"Napoleon." He met those wonderful brown eyes. "I believe our not-friends are about to leave."
Napoleon changed before his eyes, once more the sharp agent. "Okay, Nicko. Let's get ready." He tossed some bills on the counter and nodded to the bartender.
Illya jumped off the stool. But before he could reach for his jacket, Napoleon had grabbed it from the peg under the bar counter and held it up for him to ease into.
"I am capable of dressing myself."
Illya tried for a glower, but his heart was not into it tonight. Besides, Napoleon looked a bit hurt.
"Only trying to keep in practice." Napoleon patted down his shoulders.
Oh. Illya closed the short distance between them and gave Napoleon a quick kiss on his cheek. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." Napoleon shrugged on his own brown jacket. "Let's go."
Illya looked up, only to see Napoleon turn and bump into Dave, his new friend. Napoleon reacted as fast as ever, grabbing Dave's arms and shoving him away.
"Hey, man! What's with the attitude?" Dave looked stoned.
"You surprised him." Illya felt the need to defend Napoleon.
"He did?" Napoleon was his usual self. Insufferable.
"Yes he did."
Illya turned from Napoleon back to Dave again, "Dave, sorry man, we must leave."
"Leave?" Dave shrugged out of Napoleon's slackened grip and clutched the lapels of Illya's jacket. "But, But. I wanna talk."
"I bet you do." Illya could hear Napoleon mumble behind Dave's back. He ignored him.
"I have to leave, now." He tried to pry Dave's hands lose.
"No. No. We smoke. We talk. My Nicko."
"Have you been smoking?" Illya peered into bloodshot eyes, all the while his mind registered Napoleon's impatient breathing close to his side.
"Um. Good. Heh." Dave's eyes rolled back, showing only red and white, reflecting in the lights from the bar. Shining at Illya.
"I'll go. You stay here." Napoleon pecked a small kiss on Illya's cheek, and was gone before he could protest. Illya shoved his irritation back, to concentrate on the problem at hand. A now drooling Dave. Illya didn't take kindly to body fluids on his clothes, no matter how big a slob Napoleon accused him of being.
Gently, he steered a now shaking Dave to a low chair nearby, which he unceremoniously plopped into.
"Dave." Illya shook him carefully, "what have you been inhaling?"
Dave roused himself enough to produce a crumpled packet out of the pocket of his orange pants.
Illya took Dave's hand, slowly opened his fingers and extricated what turned out to be a packet of cigarettes. He looked into the ragged opening at the top. Two slightly bent cigarettes left. He narrowed his eyes and looked more closely. It could have been any packet of cigarettes except for the small logo over the brand name. A well-known, black thrush, chirping away happily, perched on a crooked branch.
Well, well. Illya quickly placed a finger over Dave's pulse point on his wrist. Normal. He checked his skin, neither clammy nor too hot. He opened an eyelid to peer into one bloodshot eye again. He seemed all right, only out of it.
Dave shuddered and lifted his head a little. "Nish...luuve...shtay...." He blinked at Illya, stuck out his tongue and slumped back again. Very out of it.
Illya forced his professional part to take over. Dave needed help. He must have smoked the drug Thrush was distributing as a part of their pernicious plan to take control of the political system. The drug which made the smokers uninhibited and truthful. Open to manipulation.
Dave's glossy dark hair was in disarray, and he looked forlorn, huddled into the chair. Illya bent and draped one of Dave's arms over his shoulders, heaving him up. Dave seemed to wake up a bit from this, so when they struggled to the door, he was semi-conscious and mumbling. Illya could discern verselines from poems he had heard the last few days.
He dragged the wobbly Dave the short distance to his home. Illya knew Dave lived in a large apartment with some friends, apparently he not only believed in sharing everything, but did.
"Moonlight!" The door was flung open when Illya rattled the cow bell which hung outside on the wall. A young man with pale dreadlocks and a horrible, large beard stumbled out. Ravi.
Moonlight? Illya could not believe the urge some people had to call each other stupid names.
The swaying man grabbed Dave and turned to Illya, dreads waving around his head. "Wah...what 'ave you done t'im?"
Illya blinked a couple of times. "Done?" Oh. "What any friend would do. Brought him home."
Dave chose that moment to puke greenish vomit over the strangely patterned carpet, over Ravi Dreadlocks' pants, and over himself.
"Oh," Ravi commented.
Illya could agree with that. "Where's your bathroom?" Dreadlocks wasted no time, and helped Illya half carry a bad-smelling Dave to the tiny bathroom. On their way, they were joined by several other members of Dave's little commune.
"Can you take care of him?" They all nodded. "Take him to hospital if he gets worse or shows any other strange reactions." They all nodded again, and Illya guessed this was all he would get in the form of communication from them this night.
"And call me. Dave has my number in his book." He sighed. They had probably all been smoking the same cigarettes. But there was nothing more he could do here. He had to get the sample cigarettes to the UNCLE lab. He stroked Dave's back once, telling him he would contact him later. Dave was kneeling in front of the toilet, held up by two pale looking friends. He only mumbled in reply.
Once outside on the dark sidewalk, Illya took out his communication pen from the safe pocket he kept it in. "Open channel F. Napoleon."
"Illya?" Napoleon's voice was tinny, but safe and familiar.
"Of course it is I, Napoleon. Were you expecting Miss World?" Illya chided himself. As usual he tried to hide his worry by being rude to Napoleon.
"Good to hear you are yourself. How's Dave?"
"He's fine. I took him home. He will probably have the mother of all headaches tomorrow, Thrush drugs usually come with that after effect."
"So our friends have been busy distributing their vile portions?" Did Napoleon have to sound like a Renaissance play? Better than beaten up, Illya guessed.
"Yes. I will give you the details when we meet. Where are you?"
"Back at the apartment. I have already sent my report to the Old Man."
"That means you had something to report. I am on my way." With that, Illya recapped his communicator pen, and walked briskly back to their... home.
But first he had to make a detour. Walking away from Dave's brownstone, he thought briefly about how handy it always seemed to be to dressed in somber clothes.
It was dark, the moon was only a curve of brightness in the almost starless sky. The sidewalk was lightened at intervals by pale light, pooling around the base of the lampposts. Here and there light spilled out through open windows. Some people never went to bed, he reflected.
Illya wanted to be sure he wasn't spotted, so he stopped in the shadow of a large tree. It only took a moment to open his communicator and contact Allen Sither. Another moment, and they had agreed to meet at the Beat Haven. Or Beats Heaven, as Napoleon had termed it.
Illya walked quickly to the store, once there, he knocked their secret signal, feeling like a character from a bad crime novel.
Allen answered and urged Illya inside. Illya opened Dave's packet, and handed over one of the cigarettes, which Allen promised to have delivered for analyzing immediately.
He looked at Allen again before exiting the door. "You will of course contact us as..."
"...soon as we have any results. Of course," Allen finished.
Illya nodded and slipped outside.
The jog back to Napoleon was quick, leaving him slightly winded when he tried to fit the key in the door....Which was flung open before he got the chance. That told him how turbulent Napoleon's mind must be, despite the neutral expression he tried to show him.
Illya walked over to the old couch and sank down in it, kicking off his shoes in the process. He gratefully accepted the glass of water Napoleon wordlessly handed him. It tasted fresh and nourishing. Not a bad feat for city water.
He put the empty glass down on the wine-crate-table, and looked up at Napoleon, who had sat down on the crate right in front of him.
Napoleon looked tired, lines showing on his forehead. Illya fought the urge to tuck him in under the covers on their bed. That would have been the ultimate unprofessional act. Maybe with the exception of placing a teddy on his arm.
He must have let something show, because Napoleon was regarding him closely, a strange expression on his face. He needed to keep a tighter rein on his emotions, then. It would not do to let Napoleon know how much it cost him to keep up the cool facade on this mission. Illya sat up.
"Wha..." They started simultaneously. Illya closed his mouth, and welcomed Napoleon's warm hand on his cheek.
"Tell me," Napoleon asked, and Illya did.
Napoleon seemed just as dryly amused at the logo as Allen and he, himself, had been. "Well, well. It would appear that our nefarious opponents are trying to find a way to world domination by mass market production."
Indeed. Illya leaned back on the couch again. "And you, Napoleon?"
"Not much to tell." Napoleon rested his elbows on his knees, folding his hands in front of him. "Our devious duo walked around the corner, jumped into a white van and drove away. Not much more I could do, but memorize the license number. Headquarters will contact me when they have a name."
Napoleon showed his dimple and raised an eyebrow. "There's no prize for guessing the logo on the car door, though."
Illya supposed not. "A singing bird?"
"Exactly." Napoleon opened his hands and slid them into Illya's hair instead. "So. Bed?"
"Absolutely, Napoleon. Now." The hands in his hair tightened.
A week later—
Napoleon was thinking, watching the street below from their living room window. He had gotten used to kissing and hugging Illya in public, calling him honey and holding his hand. They slept in the same bed every night. Illya was good at undercover work, and made everything easy for him. Illya had put on a persona of a happy and extrovert young poet wannabe. And it was dubious if any saw through their facade. Very often when they went to one of the clubs in the neighborhood, Illya was asked to recite his poems. And he did. Amazingly enough, the poems seemed popular, and Illya had made quite a few friends.
But he could see that, although it was easy for Illya to act poor and gay, it was difficult for him to keep up the happy and extrovert act. Normally Illya was used to his privacy, and, to put it bluntly, he wasn't always happy and easygoing. Besides, Napoleon could tell there was something bothering his partner. When Illya thought no one would notice, he looked troubled and sad.
The only time Illya relaxed, apart from when they were alone and he could be his serious self, was when he met Dave, the disturbingly pretty young guy from the bookstore. Who was gay. Who was obviously hitting on his partner. Who believed in open relationships.
Illya and Dave could sit for hours, discussing philosophy and politics, laughing at the same sayings, quoting the same dead old men. While Napoleon nursed his glass of red wine and observed their surroundings. He wondered if this was the real Illya. The Illya he showed his private friends, and not his partners at work.
It seemed Illya and Dave had become even closer now, after Dave had smoked that drugged cigarette and become violently ill, last week.
Well. It was time to stop brooding. Napoleon turned from the window and regarded the room. The afghan thrown over the lumpy, olive green couch was nice, he supposed. And there, on the wine crates that passed for a table, were the funny sunglasses they had found in the minibus. Illya had laughed and said they looked like mad professors. Napoleon smiled at the memory, agreeing with Illya. The glasses had thick, black rims and everything seemed yellow when you looked through them. As if they walked in perpetual happiness and sunshine.
He'd better hurry. He had promised Illya he would make dinner tonight. He opened the window to get some air into the warm apartment. Sounds and smells reached him from below, making everything seem exotic, like they were somewhere in a distant land. And would it really be any cooler with the window open? The sun had baked all day. They had been surprised with a bout of almost summer temperatures, even though, technically, it was still spring. He had just showered, but he could feel sweat trickling down his back, under the thin Indian cotton shirt he wore. The moustache itched in the warmth. He smoothed down the sleeves of the orange, embroidered shirt. How could they?
Luckily, Illya and he had been to the market this morning, buying the correct, organic food. Napoleon walked over to the tiny kitchen and continued preparing the chicken salad he had started earlier.. Recipe, courtesy of his sister.
Thinking. He hoped something would happen soon. The political discussions he had participated in during long nights in clubs were interesting, but they didn't really help their investigation. The photos Illya and he had taken with their little spy camera, on the other hand, might turn up something.
Napoleon took out the saladbowl from the cupboard and gathered the ingredients. Covering the inside of the bowl with crisp lettuce-leaves was quickly done. Chunks of chicken, boiled cubes of celeriac, and chopped onion had already been marinated in lemon juice and salt. He mixed this with halved olives and grapes, and bits of pineapple.
He'd better hurry now. He couldn't hear the hiccuping sounds from the shower anymore, and the whining from the bad plumbing wasn't there either. He had promised Illya that he would have the salad and a cold beer ready for him when he came from his shower. When it came to food, it wouldn't do to let his Russian wait.
He whisked mayonnaise and fruit juice together, poured it over the ingredients, and managed to arrange everything in the bowl without disrupting the nice lining he had made with the lettuce. Now, just one thing remaining. He sprinkled the tiny pieces of bacon he luckily had browned earlier, over the salad. Slice the olive bread, and—finished!
He had just set the table, and opened two beers, when he heard bare feet padding over the floor and turned around.
And there was Illya. Framed by the green door. His hair was still wet. His torso was bare, with stray droplets of water reflecting the yellow afternoon sun. His muscles were rippling under his soft skin. He had put on clean, white, cotton pants. They were tight, and Illya was struggling to lace them closed over his groin. No underwear. He was mumbling Russian swearwords under his breath.
"Remind me to alert Lena at HQ that they have got my size wrong."
"These pants are so tight that I can hardly breath."
And, oh. Illya reached inside his pants, adjusting himself. Napoleon could almost see the color shift to darker down where his groin...
He jerked his head up. Illya tilted his head and smiled at him with clear, blue eyes, looking happy. He was indeed gorgeous; the thought came unbidden to Napoleon. He couldn't help but smile back.
"Napoleon. Is one of those bottles for me?"
He hurried over and handed one green bottle to Illya, who took it and chugged down half of the contents.
"Un... Illya," his voice sounded strange even to himself, "Are you not wearing boxers?" Where did that come from? Luckily Illya only raised an eyebrow and grinned at him again, eyes unreadable.
"This is my contribution to the new spirit of freedom." He did the V-sign. "Peace and love, man!"
Napoleon rolled his eyes, tension he didn't know about broken.
"Let's eat, Polya, I'm starving." Illya raised his free hand and stroked through Napoleon's hair. Napoleon leaned forward and kissed the corner of Illya's mouth.
"Illya." His courage attacked him with a vengeance. It felt like the right moment "Show me."
Illya didn't pretend not to understand what he wanted. He regarded Napoleon so intensely that he felt a blush starting at the edges of his cheeks.
"Why now, Napoleon?"
And why, indeed? Did he know that, himself? "It fits." He couldn't explain it better. He hoped fervently Illya would understand.
"We should eat first."
Thank god, he understood.
They ate at the small dining table by the window. The sun was setting now, bathing everything in a warm glow. Napoleon regarded Illya while they ate. He was still only wearing those tight, white pants. Nothing covered his upper body, and Napoleon could see Illya's hidden strength shimmering under the pale skin. It reminded him of just how dangerous his deceptively small partner was. Illya could kill, using only his body.
And now that body, Illya, was going to show him how men had sex with each other. Napoleon's heart hammered in his chest. Not only show him, but do it with him.
"Napoleon." Illya placed a comforting hand on his arm. "We will do only what you wish."
When had a lover asked what he wanted? Wasn't it always about seducing the lady and satisfying her?
Napoleon studied the remnants of his salad. "What we want, Illya." Napoleon fervently hoped that was the same. He looked up. There was pain in Illya's eyes before he blinked it away. Napoleon thought Illya wanted this. Was he mistaken?
"Illya." He lifted a hand to touch Illya's cheek.
"Ssh, Napoleon. I will not hurt you." Illya thought he was scared. "If you are sure you need to experience this, I promise to take care of you."
Before Napoleon could figure that one out, Illya leaned over the table and gently licked around his mouth, over his lips. It burned like fire, making his eyes fall shut and a moan escape from his throat. Illya moved his hands to encircle his face, and to glide through his hair. Illya closed his hot mouth over his, still licking his lips, prying them open. Napoleon yielded, tasted Illya in his mouth, and felt sweat break out all over his body.
They had kissed before, but not like this. Like it was a promise of more. He wanted that more. He wanted it now. Breaking their connection, breathing hard, Napoleon managed to whisper. "Illyusha"
"Yes." Illya looked dazed. "Bed, Napoleon." Illya's hand was warm and trembling in his, as they stumbled into the bedroom.
Napoleon felt his legs bump into the bed.
"Let me undress you, Napasha." Illya used his capable hands to divest Napoleon of his shoes and the ugly clothes, quick and efficiently. It was a relief to get them off his tingling body.
Illya, without looking at Napoleon, started on his own pants.
No. He wanted to do that. He itched to touch the taut fabric, stretched over hipbones, over Illya's hard body.
Napoleon moved closer to Illya, feeling vulnerable, his half-hard erection wobbling in the air.
Illya just regarded him quietly and stroked his hands over Napoleon's chest and shoulders.
Thank god. Napoleon bowed his head and concentrated on the lacing. It was very tight. When he managed to open it and push the white fabric aside, Illya's cock bobbed out, hard and ready. Why hadn't Napoleon noticed before how large and beautiful it was?
Napoleon hurriedly tugged Illya's jeans down, so he could step out of them. Napoleon tossed them aside and straigthened up. He had to touch Illya's tempting cock, and the round, furry balls. They fitted perfectly into his palm. He rolled them experimentally, and was rewarded with tiny whimpers he was sure Illya tried to hold back.
Napoleon let his eyes travel up Illya's slim body, up to eyes dark and hot, searching his.
This time, when Illya kissed him, he held nothing back, devouring him, and Napoleon couldn't help but respond. He wanted to.
Somehow they fell into the bed, Illya on top. Napoleon groaned and jerked up at the first hard contact. Illya's cock rubbed against his, and it was better that anything.
Illya drew back, rose up on hands and knees over him. Covering him. Predatory. Napoleon was again reminded of how dangerous his partner was.
Illya was panting, eyes black; he looked like a sleek, large cat.
"Napoleon, We need to slow down. You affect me...I...I will come like a teenager."
Yes, Napoleon could feel pre-come dripping onto his stomach, sizzling his skin when it hit. He gasped, "you wouldn't be alone."
Napoleon felt his cock twitch and harden impossibly more when Illya eyed it hungrily. Napoleon closed his eyes and moaned.
"Napoleon." Illya's voice was strained. "Perhaps fast to reduce tension now," Illya drew a couple of deep breaths, "then later..."
In response, Napoleon tugged Illya to him, so their bodies were aligned again. Oh. This wasn't scary at all. He met Illya's hot gaze. This was good. So good when he felt Illya reach down between them and press their slippery erections together in his strong hand. He sucked on Illya's neck, that soft spot where shoulder and neck met, and bit down, hard. Napoleon wanted to mark Illya, his partner. Illya made small hitching sounds under his breath and jerked their cocks faster.
It took only a few hard pulls...and they were coming... Illya mumbling in Russian...Napoleon just mumbling.
Aftershocks still coursing through their bodies, Illya collapsed on him, heavy and warm. Perfect to embrace in his arms.
Some moments later Napoleon's muscles obeyed so that he could stroke Illya's bangs away from his sweaty forehead.
"Mm. Um." Illya mumbled and wriggled on top of him, lifted his head a fraction, and smiled. One of those rare, open smiles.
Suddenly Illya's expression changed, and he jumped up.
"Napoleon! Are you okay?"
Napoleon felt an unrestricted smile spread over his face. But he needed words. "Better than okay. Why was it we didn't try this before?"
Illya, rolled his eyes in his Illya-way. "You say that, you dog, because you have not been able to satisfy your libido for several days." He mock-scowled.
At least Napoleon hoped it was mocking.
"That may be, but this was special, Illya. You felt that?"
Illya's eyes, now blue again, were unreadable. "Yes. I did. It was." He sounded in pain. "It is."
Was it so hard for Illya to admit that he enjoyed sex? Wasn't it a natural part of life? Maybe something had happened to him. Before he could ask, Illya was up and disappeared into the bathroom, only to return with a warm washcloth. There was an affectionate expression on his face as he proceeded to wipe Napoleon clean, no traces of pain anymore.
"So. Napoleon. Do you want to sleep, or..." Illya waggled his eyebrows suggestively, holding Napoleon's soft cock gently, and stroking it with the cooling washcloth.
Napoleon shuddered. He could feel his body respond to the gentle administrations.
"Illyusha. Is this how it is? And to think I have wasted my life entertaining women."
Illya, that... only smiled, his face an enigma.
"This is part of how it is, Polya. You want more?"
Did he want more? Oh, yes. "Yes, Illya. What are your needs?"
Illya's hands stilled, and his eyes closed. Napoleon touched his thigh, hesitantly. Had he said something wrong?
Illya drew a shuddering breath, and threw away the washcloth. "What I need, Napoleon." Illya slid moist fingers down Napoleon's torso, occasionally scraping the soft skin with his nails. Making him shiver. "What I want, is..."
But Napoleon never got to know what Illya wanted, because his communicator chose that moment to shrill insistently. Napoleon groaned, got up and reached for his pants. Their mission would always be first priority. He located the communicator and uncapped it.
"Solo." He didn't always have to like it, though.
"Caesar," Allen's tinny voice came through the communicator. "There's rumors of a major get-together at the Horse Shoe tonight. I don't think you want to miss it. Our interest group will be there."
"Okay. Some of our identified friends will be there?"
"And handing out goodies, too."
"We're on our way." Napoleon recapped his communicator pen.
Illya was already in the shower again. At this rate, there would be no more hot water for a while. Napoleon, after hesitating briefly, stepped into the bathroom, still naked.
"It seems like Thrush has a gathering at The Horse Shoe tonight." Napoleon spoke to the shadowy form behind the shower curtain.
"I understood that, Napoleon. Come here, I have almost finished."
Napoleon didn't question this. He stepped into the shower, and was met by Illya, who embraced him, pressing his firm body to his. Wet skin gliding against his.
He groaned and rubbed their foreheads together. "Illya."
Illya stepped back. "Yes, Napoleon. Work first." With that, Illya disappeared out.
By the time Napoleon had finished showering, a dark-clad Illya was brushing his teeth.
Napoleon joined him, only wearing a towel around his waist, and got a small moan in return for that. But as Illya had said, work first.
Napoleon dressed quickly in some of the more discreet clothes he found in their closet. Jeans and a t-shirt, a dark green velvet jacket.
Illya looked up from buttoning his corduroy jacket. "Nap..." His breath hitched, he stared at Napoleon for a moment, then closed his eyes.
"Illya!" Napoleon rushed to him, stopping close. "Are you ill?"
Illya didn't open his eyes. "On rare occasions I forget how beautiful you are, Napoleon." He looked up at him, "then you remind me by dressing like this." He brushed the velvet on Napoleon's chest lightly.
"Oh, Illya." Napoleon couldn't stop himself from pressing a kiss to Illya's soft lips. Illya responded eagerly. He could get used to this change in their partnership. As on cue, they parted. It was time to go.
Illya transformed into UNCLE agent Kuryakin in front of Napoleon's eyes, and he was again reminded of how very competent his partner was. No emotion showed in Illya's eyes, he looked dangerous and professional. If you didn't count the swollen lips. Not that Napoleon would mention that.
"Let's go, Napoleon. I do not like to be late for appointments."
The Horse Shoe was dark and smoke-filled, young people dancing or drinking everywhere. A band was playing that cool and bass-heavy jazz Illya liked so much. The crowd seemed intoxicated, but quiet. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Napoleon surveyed the club, and peered into the booths lining the walls. "There should be many possible recruits for Thrush here tonight." He whispered in Illya's ear. "I recognize several frustrated young men from my foray into political subgroups."
Illya smiled and held his hand, sniffing the air. "Not everyone in here smokes Lucky Strike, but are they smoking the bird brand?"
Napoleon searched the dim interior again. "Not everyone is a real hippie either."
"Oh?" Illya squinted into the darkness. "I believe you may be right, Mr. Observant." He followed Napoleon towards a booth in a corner, where Allen was waving at them. "This should be fun later."
"Caesar. Nicko. Finally."
The smoky darkness prevented his blush from showing. "Uncle." Napoleon gave a professional nod. He hoped. The other agents with Allen Napoleon recognized as Jenny Morrison and Paul DeVille. New agents he didn't know well. He shook hands with Paul and kissed the back of Jenny's hand. He slid into the booth and pointed at Allen's beer to the waitress who miraculously appeared.
Illya, still standing, looked down at him, eyes guarded, but alert. "I will move over to the bar, Caes. I saw Dave talking to an interesting guest."
Dave's name was like a punch in his gut, but Napoleon was certain he hid it from Illya. He nodded and turned to Allen and the other two agents. "What's up?"
"The head of our family called earlier today." Allen nursed his beer, leaning forward. "He gave me the information we have been waiting for. Our rival family have made this into their nest. And moreover, they plan to add new members tonight. They will hand out free samples of that latest brand of, um, cigarettes."
Oh. So Thrush was planning on doping likely recruits tonight, and dragging them away god knew to where.
Allen's voice was no more than a whisper. "I sent the photos you and, eh, Nicko, have been taking to HQ. Added to the analysis of the sample Illya found and the car...Turns out you were right to be suspicious."
Napoleon smiled, recalling Illya's comment. "They are no more hippies than we are, Napoleon. They are absolutely not gay." When he had asked why not, Illya had answered: "They ogle women, just like you do. It gives them away. Thrush spies guard their masculinity." Napoleon felt his chest constrict and his heart rate speed up noticeably.
The other agents were regarding him strangely. "I, um, believe I will check out what Illya's up to. Backup ready?" He tossed some notes on the greasy table and grabbed the cold beer the waitress handed him.
At their nod, he navigated the crowded room, spotting Illya and Dave at the bar counter. They appeared in deep conversation, Dave with his arm slung over Illya's shoulders. Both holding cigarettes, smoke curling up from their hands. Illya was smiling at something Dave was saying.
Napoleon walked up and invaded Illya's personal space.
"Sunshine! Illya actually looked happy to see him. "Have a fag!" (I wanted Illya to make that mistake—both to show he isn't quite able to distinguish BE and AE yet, and bc of that other meaning. Should I change it to joint?)
Napoleon winced. 'Fag', really. Apparently Illya hadn't quite got the hang of how to use popular expressions yet. He suppressed a smirk.
But before he could figure out a smart remark, he saw Illya's eyes widen, and felt a cold touch to his neck. A gun.
"Mr. Solo. So kind of you to join our little party." Thrush agent number one, New York. He should have guessed.
Illya showed Dave aside, Napoleon kicked backwards, and the fight was on.
It was ugly, bloody and exhausting. At one point chaos was close, when escaping innocents collided with UNCLE backup coming through the entrance.
It felt like the shooting, kicking and punching went on forever, Napoleon thought, but in reality it couldn't have been more than a few minutes. Which was more than long enough.
The Thrush goons, who had flooded the place the moment the fight began, had managed to get in a couple of good punches, his ribs and jaws were aching. But Thrush had fared worse, the thugs not unconscious now being handcuffed by efficient UNCLE agents, and led to waiting cars.
Napoleon breathed heavily and leaned against the counter. Where was Illya?
A tap on his shoulder, followed by his own fast grip around a strong hand, answered that.
"You are in a bad shape, Napoleon. You are not breathing well." Illya's expression boded no good. "An hour running each morning ought to take care of the worst."
"Sma...Illya!" He gripped Illya's elbows and urged him onto a barstool. "You're hurt!"
"It is nothing, Napoleon." Illya grimaced. Probably involuntarily, that careless...
"Just some minor scratches."
Minor scratches? "You don't realize you are bleeding all over?" Napoleon snagged a cloth from the counter and dabbed at Illya's face. "You have a nasty cut on your forehead."
Illya winced when he touched his arm. "And what is this?" Napoleon brushed Illya's feeble attempts at stopping him aside, and pried the torn remnants of the corduroy sleeve aside. Blood was pouring down Illya's arm.
"It is just a surface wound,Napoleon. It will heal." Illya clutched his side. "I do not believe my ribs are broken either. I am fine."
Ribs? Napoleon helped a reluctant Illya ease off his jacket. The wound on his upper arm was bleeding freely, and when Napoleon lifted the shirt, he could see bruises forming on the pale torso.
And, oh, the bite mark he had given Illya earlier, was standing out darklishly against Illya's soft skin. He touched it gingerly with one finger. It matched the other marks forming on Illya's body.
"Illya." He would never hurt his partner again.
"Napoleon." Illya placed a bloody hand on Napoleon's chest. "I know what you are thinking." Blue eyes met his. "Stop it."
Illya snatched the cloth he still held in one hand, and pressed it to the neglected wound on his arm.
Carefully, Napoleon touched Illya's abused body, feeling for fractures along the ribs. "Nothing seems broken." Illya mimed I told you so. "But, I'm no doctor, you should visit the hospital." He nodded towards the medical personel working on the other wounded.
"No. No hospitals."
"You know I can not abide hospitals. Is your memory failing?"
Illya could be so stubborn. "You should at least..."
"Absolutely not. I want to go home. After we have finished here."
Really. "You must let a doctor examine you, Illya. You could have internal injuries. And what about that smoke?"
"Fag...joint." Napoleon groaned inwardly.
"Napoleon!" Illya stopped drying up the blood on his arm, and glared at him. "I am not stupid."
What did that mean? "Well, there was that time in P..."
"Will you listen? I did not inhale. The drug did not affect me. It couldn't have." Illya paused, Napoleon was sure for the drama, since he looked like he was building up to something.
"We were smoking Chesterfield's. Only bad for the lungs."
Napoleon held up placating hands. "I can see that. Wasn't one of the effects to make you open to suggestions from others? It is clearly not working on you."
He laughed when Illya swatted him with the bloody cloth, but sobered up quickly when Illya winced, again.
"My friend, please compromise and let someone more competent than I look you over."
Illya surprised him by nodding. "Okay. If you do the same." He looked down. "Your leg is injured."
"It's nothing. Just a scratch."
Napoleon breathed in relief when he saw their more or less regular physician, Mark Gillard, approaching them. White clad and professional looking. Doctor's case ready.
He nodded at Napoleon and turned to Illya. "So, it was your turn this time."
Napoleon left his partner in Mark's capable hands, and went to look for Allen. The place was mostly deserted now, only the clean up crew remaining.
"Everything under control?"
"Yes, Napoleon. We've had some interesting finds, and hopefully the captured spies will sing like birds, and tell us where the missing youths are."
Napoleon winced at the bad idiom. "Good work, Allen. If you need to contact us, use the communicator. We'll stay here till tomorrow. Illya is hurt. If not, we'll meet you at the debriefing at HQ tomorrow."
"Okay. See you then." Allen turned to oversee the clean up again, and Napoleon looked over at Illya, who was being wrapped in bandages. He really wished for a bed right now. The events of the day had taken their toll on his mind and body.
Suddenly a commotion at the door stopped him. Dave, Illya's poetical friend, was trying to get past the UNCLE guards at the entrance.
"I must see him." Dave was pushing at the guards.
Napoleon didn't have to be a genius to guess who.
He limped over to the door. It was probably one of the most difficult things he had done.
"Let him in."
The guards stepped aside.
Dave darted in, long hair waving behind him, and Napoleon could see when he spotted Illya who was leaning against the bar counter, all bandaged up.
"Nicko!" Dave stopped in front of Illya, reached out and embraced him.
When Illya's unhurt arm went up around Dave's back, Napoleon turned and walked out. He walked past the guards and past the curious onlookers who had clumped together on the sidewalk. He passed the next building, and sat down in a deserted metal chair outside the tavern on the first corner. The armrests were cool against his skin.
Eyes closed, he could breath the fresh night air and not think. Not think about a room without Illya in it.
A feathery touch to his hair rose him out of his meditation. He hadn't even heard anyone approach. Because it was his capable and sneaky partner.
"Napoleon. You left." Illya regarded him carefully, stroking his hair in a way Napoleon could become addicted to.
"Let's go home, Napasha."
A bloody finger stopped his question, and Napoleon let himself be dragged up from the chair.
He stood, and clutched Illya's hand. "Let's get one of the cars to take us."
He must have let something show on his face, because Illya just turned and walked to the nearest UNCLE car, telling the driver to take them to their apartment on Waverly Place.
Napoleon crawled in first, and helped Illya settle in the seat beside him, pale head against his shoulder.
They were halfway back to the apartment before Napoleon remembered to ask. "Mark gave you painkillers?" Illya just ummed in reply, which he took as a yes.
The day's events must have caught up with him, because Napoleon barely registered trudging up the stairs, Illya leaning on him.
The shower was a distant drum on his senses, Illya's body wash in front of the sink made a stronger impact.
They stumbled into the blissfully soft bed, a warm Illya curled up against Napoleon made accepting unconsciousness easy. No talking.
Waking up—is intense.
Napoleon's body bombards him with information. It's warm and comfortable. His leg is hurting. Illya is curved up close, fitting along his back. Illya's breath is small puffs of air against his neck. Illya's hard-on is resting between Napoleon's buttocks, pubic hair tickling against his skin.
Napoleon's brain signals shock to his body. He...they, were interrupted yesterday. Before the bust at The Horse Shoe. Before Dave embraced Illya.
"Napoleon." Illya's voice is wet where his breath had hit his neck. "Stop panicking."
And, okay. He was never able to hide anything from Illya. Besides, Illya voice is like gravel against a windowpane.
Napoleon lets his fingers glide over the hand resting low on his stomach. "Mark sent more painkillers?" Because Illya can't hide much from him either.
"Already taken." Could he believe that?
Illya's hand under his tries to withdraw, but Napoleon holds on, manages to turn around and face Illya. Without losing the touch of their hands. He intertwine their fingers, their hands resting between them on the smooth cotton sheet.
Illya looks like he discovered a moment ago that their bodies are naked, and, oh, that their erections are bumping into each other. One of them is a surprise to him too, embarrassingly enough.
Napoleon can't stop the snicker from escaping his closed lips.
"I just," Napoleon waves his free hand downwards, "realized that there are two of them."
Illya's startled laughter is wonderful for Napoleon's overloaded brain. Although Illya's grimace of pain isn't.
"You clearly need someone to look after you, Napoleon. It will be a long term position."
Illya's kiss is sweet, and Napoleon thinks he can taste the need in Illya's mouth. He wants to respond with his own best kisses. Those reserved for the most important moments.
It takes a little wiggling for their free hands to meet around their hard erections, friction made easy by the precome leaking from the wet heads.
Illya moans into his mouth, tightening the grip on his hand. It has never been this good. Ever. A few careful, slow glides of their joined hands, and they are coming. Quivering and coming, all over the sheets, their bodies, everywhere.
Afterwards, when Illya's rasping breath has quieted down, Napoleon asks. "When will we manage to get further than hand jobs, Illyusha?" He hastens to add, lest Illya smack him, "not that I have any complaints."
Illya raises up on his elbow, Napoleon can see he is mindful of his hurt arm and ribs. "Napasha" Illya slides his fingers through the come on Napoleon's stomach. "When will you know that I am not going anywhere? We have time."
Napoleon is stunningly happy. He urges Illya to lie on top of him; Illya comes willingly, resting his head so Napoleon can let his fingers glide through the silky hair. Illya's hard body feels so, so right against his. Familiar after weeks of closeness.
"I can not wait for you to shave off that ridiculous moustache," Illya mumbles.
"My wish is to see you in one of your white shirts, Illya."
Illya's smile tickles his chest. "And your brown suit, Napasha," Illya continues. "Suave and sexy. Tight behind." A small nuzzle from Illya's nose teases his nipple.
So Illya finds him sexy? Good. Napoleon opens his mouth to explain just how reciprocated that feeling is, when he hears small snorting sounds, and senses a drop of something wet cooling on his chest.
Illya is asleep.
The gray weather replacing the brilliant sunshine they had seen the past weeks mirrored Illya's mood nicely. He was tired, exhausted really. Last night, the first one back in his own bed for weeks, had been a waking nightmare. Literally.
For hours at work yesterday he had not been able to think of anything other than how wonderful it would be to sleep in his own bed again.
No grumpy Napoleon to complain when he hogged the covers. No sweaty body pressed uncomfortably against his so he could not turn, no hairy arm or leg pushing him down into the mattress. Only peace and quiet. Only himself. No cherished breathing against his neck. No soft hair to stroke, and no strong back to let his hands glide over.
Only himself, peace and quiet. And who was he trying to fool?
He had not slept for more than minutes at a time. Seconds. He missed Napoleon terribly. He had no idea how he would manage on his own again when he had known how it was to share his life, his bed with someone.
A glance in the bathroom mirror this morning had been enough. He looked just like a man who had not slept all night. Dark rings under his eyes, hair a mess, cheeks pale. He had shuddered and left for work, dressed in black. Black polo, black pants, black jacket. It seemed appropriate, somehow. His only hope was that Napoleon would assign this appearance to the strain they had been through. Napoleon would probably be too busy re-establishing his masculinity, flirting away with the secretaries. Smiling at them.
When he arrived at HQ he was greeted by Nina, the receptionist, as usual, and given the yellow badge, as usual.
"Mr. Kuryakin." Strange to hear his own name again. He nodded.
"Napoleon is already in. Would you know if he has any appointments tonight?" She had the nerve to look hopeful. Illya gritted his teeth. "I do not know, Miss Farman."
With that, he fled. To what, he did not know.
The corridors were almost empty, making the walk to their office quick. Illya opened the door, to face a Napoleon who looked like a mirror of himself. He was leaning against the desk, looking exhausted indeed. His dark brown eyes were lined with an even darker shadow. His usually so slick hair was mussed up. His tie was askew, something Illya had never seen before outside serious fights.
"Illya." Napoleon looked almost desperate.
"Napoleon." Illya was not sure who started running, but they met in a fierce embrace, arms holding hard, frantically touching, kissing, in the middle of the office floor.
Napoleon tore his lips away from Illya, breathing hard. "Never, never, let me go through this again."
"Wha..." Illya tried to form coherent speech, luckily Napoleon interrupted him.
"What excuse we procure, I don't care. I don't want another night without you again."
Illya searched Napoleon's wonderful eyes, and inhaled the good smell of Napoleon and cologne. He would not even try to lie.
"Which bed would you prefer?"
Napoleon's laughter sounded happy. "Doesn't matter, as long as you are in it."
Illya couldn't resist biting Napoleon's tempting lower lip. Napoleon's upper lip. His neck. He got a deep moan in reward, and Napoleon tightened already tight arms around him. "Illya."
"Your bed then, it is larger."
Illya could feel Napoleon's smile against his cheek. " Decadently large, I believe you called it. So—the bed is accepted now?"
He had to be failing. Even Napoleon's annoying, smug voice was perfect. "It is accepted. As long as you are in it." So there. He had said it.
"No Dave to disturb us?" Napoleon's mouth traced lines on Illya's face.
"Napoleon. You must not mistake affection for passion." Illya spoke into Napoleon's mouth, now covering his.
A harrumph behind him prevented Illya from more sickening revelations and flowery language. Mr. Waverly.
"Sir." Napoleon didn't even look embarrassed, that jerk. Illya could feel himself heat up, cheeks burning. He tried to extricate himself from Napoleon's embrace, but he only held on, perhaps even tighter.
"It appears we can cut down on transportation and accommodation expenses." Illya gaped when Mr Waverly, their boss, continued. "See to it that this does not interfere with your performance at work, gentlemen. I expect your report at my desk by noon."
With that he left, leaving a still gaping Illya to listen to Napoleon's laughter.
"Thank you, gentlemen." Mr. Waverly seemed moderately satisfied. "I believe I can say that your performance during this mission has been successful."
"Good to hear, sir. Would that imply we get tomorrow off, to recuperate?" Napoleon asked.
Waverly, much to Napoleon's surprise, nodded, and Napoleon threw a quick glance over at Illya, who looked rather cute, his face dominated by his black-rimmed professor glasses. He could easily imagine Illya on blue sheets, wearing nothing but those...
"Mr. Kuryakin." They were obviously not finished yet. "This came for you this morning." Waverly handed Illya a colorful envelope. Now, who would send Illya a letter, and more to the point, who would know where to send it?
Illya took the envelope, wrinkling his brows curiously, and turned it around in his hands.
"Illya? Are you going to open it sometime this century?"
For a moment Illya looked irritated. "Can you Americans think of nothing but instant gratification?"
But he reached into his pocket and withdrew his small knife, and opened the envelope with one quick stroke. Inside was a handwritten letter, which he skimmed through.
Napoleon could see color rising in Illya's cheeks. "Well," he lifted his hands, "what is it?"
"I," Illya's color deepened, "I...hm....I." He cleared his throat. "It appears that one of my, um, Nicko Korby's, poems will be published in an anthology presenting contemporary urban poets."
Waverly recovered first. "Congratulations, Mr Kuryakin. I trust that you are not contemplating a change of career?"
"I am satisfied with the one I have." Illya blinked and turned, "Napoleon, Dave sends his greetings."
What! He should have killed him when he had a chance.
Illya, apparently recovered, just grinned mischievously and patted Napoleon's hand. In front of Waverly, no less.
"Not to worry, Napoleon. He does not know where I live."