Tell Me No Lies
He had been expecting the knock on his door for days. Napoleon sat on his sofa, his newspaper already forgotten as he listened to it. Three precise raps, a pause, and then three more. Not that he needed a code; he knew who it was.
He might have not answered the door if he didn't already know that person waiting outside wouldn't hold his patience for long. It was a lesser blow to the dignity to simply open the door than to wait for him to break in. Bad enough to be seeing him without the added reproachful look in his eyes over Napoleon's churlish refusal to let him inside.
The air in his apartment was still cool in the early morning, the gentle blare of traffic below trailing in from an open window. The leftover scraps of his breakfast were still sitting on the end table and Napoleon drank down the last dregs of his coffee before walking to the door, still holding the cup. Caffeine was no form of Dutch courage but his hands wanted to hold something, the illusion of a barrier.
His fingers punched in the security codes automatically, first one, then another. Napoleon wondered dully how long it would take before he'd be able to relax without a layer of electronic security between himself and the real world, a buffer that allowed him to let his guard down and even then only so much.
Maybe never. Trust was as impossible to regain as innocence and it had been years since he'd had either.
All his instincts screamed for him to open the door a crack first, a glancing sweep of the hallway before allowing any visitor inside. He forcibly ignored it and the cheap, cold fear it jabbed into his stomach. Normal people didn't have to check for snipers or wires before they opened their doors and he was going to prove he didn't have to either. Not this time.
The first twist of impatience was visible in Illya's eyes, more gray than blue in the shallow light of the hallway. They took in everything, the way he opened the door, the bare feet and the cup in his hand. The way his bathrobe was belted and the level of stubble on his cheeks. Barely a flicker of motion on his face but Napoleon knew he saw it because he did it himself without even thinking.
Illya's suit was plain, off the rack. No silk shirts or expensive tailoring for him. He looked more like a man who should be carrying a fake leather briefcase and taking the subway, working day in and day out at the same low level job with decent pay, going home to his wife at night and half a bottle of cheap gin.
The differences were too subtle for passing eyes to see, the wariness that was layered beneath his expression of indifference, constant observation hidden beneath meaningless civility. Napoleon has seen through numerous disguises from dozens of agents just from their eyes. That type of watchfulness can only have been learned.
Illya hasn't said a word. Just stood in front of the door like he had every expectation that Napoleon will let him in. After a moment, he did, padding back to the kitchen and refilling his cup. His stomach would hate him for it later; he could already taste acid on the back of his tongue but he needed the few moments it takes to pour the cup, doctoring it with too much sugar to dilute the bitterness in his mouth.
Wordlessly, he offered the carafe to Illya, who merely nodded. Fine, play it like a martyr. Napoleon knew that game too, and he filled a second cup, black, no sugar, and handed it to his ex-partner.
"I'm not coming back." He hadn't meant to say that, the words slipping free, and somewhere in the back of his head there is ugly laughter, vicious and mocking. Napoleon bit the inside of his cheek to keep it from bubbling out and spilling into the air between them.
Illya only sipped his coffee, slouching back against the counter. "I didn't ask you to."
Of course he hadn't. Asking a question gave a person the opportunity to refuse and they had both been trained better than that. "Just in the neighborhood and thought you'd drop by?"
"Something like that." Illya's eyes were bluer in the kitchen lights, fluorescents shifting the color into something impossibly bright that could not, should not, exist in nature. It's harder to see the edge in them through that blue and Napoleon had to cling to the knowledge that Illya was not here out of any sense of friendship or loyalty. He's here because someone had to come and Illya was the only one Napoleon would let through the door.
He hadn't left his apartment in three weeks, having his groceries and newspaper delivered and he'd just sat here with his security codes in place and concentrated on not thinking.
But Illya would know that.
"Have they decided yet how much of a threat I am?" He made the words light, idly toying with the handle of his cup. "Is it going to be amnesia or termination?"
He almost winced beneath Illya's disapproving look, and, no, it wouldn't work because he knew better, he KNEW, and UNCLE might hold itself above other agencies, applying dignity to rules like they were somehow human. They weren't though, and never would be, and he knew the truth. No amount of cheap, trite reproach was going to change that.
"That's not why I'm here, Napoleon."
It stabbed him like a betrayal, and maybe it was. The moment Illya started lying to him, when the balance on the scale tilted the other way around and he was the one who was supposed to be ignorant, protected. Safe.
That was as much of a lie as the rest. He wasn't, wouldn't, be safe, no matter where he went or what he did ever again. Not behind secured doors, real ones or amnesiatic ones in his mind. Termination, such a clean, sharp word, held no such promises either, not to a lapsed Catholic boy.
Illya was watching him, nothing like a smile on his face but there was something. Expectation? He wasn't sure. Illya was...he'd never really been able to read Illya. He wondered sometimes if even Illya knew exactly how he felt. If he felt anything at all.
Suddenly, it came to him that he was still in his pajamas, his feet bare, and God only knew what his hair looked like. Napoleon crossed his arms over his chest and clasped his elbows, studied the arrangement of condiments on his kitchen table like it fascinated him. It didn't make him feel any less naked in front of Illya's eyes but the unpleasant surge of impatience at Illya's constant silence finally drove him to speak.
"Then why are you here, Illya? Tired of paperwork?" he snapped, "Didn't you have anything to do in the lab while you wait for a new partner, is that it?" It was suddenly easy to be angry, almost a relief to finally, finally, let rage fly free at someone. Illya didn't so much as flinch under his diatribe and Napoleon let out a snort of disgust. "Or did Waverly send you here and you're just being a good, obedient little agent by coming? Did you think if you came here and just stared at me like a pathetic little dog I might come crawling back?"
Illya tilted his head, just a little, and the something in his eyes shifted to...something else. "No." It was as simple as that and made it impossible to be angry anymore. Napoleon closed his eyes briefly, trying to regroup enough to at least sound like someone with a brushing acquaintance with normality. He didn't know why he bothered; he couldn't fool Illya any better than he could fool himself.
"Then why are you here?" He hated the pleading note to his voice. Illya's face changed again, almost softer and it shamed him.
"I've been waiting for you to tell me."
The tile floor was cold beneath his feet. It made his bones ache unpleasantly, miles of difference between that and the still-warm cup held in his loose grip. Illya's eyes were still blue, bluer than blue, watching him. Waiting for something and it's a revelation, a relief, when it comes to him what it is. What did he want, what did Illya have to give, just tell him and....
Illya's face was cool to the touch, the faintest hint of freshly shaven roughness beneath Napoleon's fingertips. It was too easy, far too easy, to close his eyes and trace the lines of Illya's face, memorizing something that was already too well known. The slick taste of Illya's mouth beneath his own was like something out of a dream, the acidic flavor of coffee sweetened by his own tongue. His hair was coldly silken, still damp to the touch from his morning shower and Napoleon threaded his hands into it helplessly, holding Illya still for the kisses he couldn't seem to stop.
He just wanted to touch someone who already knew what he knew, someone whose eyes were at least a dismal reflection of his own. Maybe Illya had always known what he wanted, maybe this really was the reason he'd come here this morning.
Napoleon didn't care.
Wariness in blue eyes had dimmed, blanked into lust and that was much easier to deal with, lust was something Napoleon could handle and they stumbled together towards the bedroom, two pairs of feet tangling into each other. It felt too close to insanity, raw-edged and painful, dragging both of them down on the rumpled sheets that have barely cooled from last night's sleep.
Illya's shirt is too much of a barrier and there was a skittering click on the floor as a stubborn button was ripped free. Icy pale skin beneath white cotton and Napoleon couldn't help but dip his head down to taste it, sucking a blush of uneven color to the surface. Illya gasped, his hands strong and solid on Napoleon's shoulders.
The sheer astonishment that Illya was letting him do this, and not just letting him, helping him, fumbling with the ties of his robe until it fell open. His pajamas were dealt with in the same brutally efficient manner that Illya handled everything and for a brief moment, memory forced its way to the fore and Napoleon wondered what it would be like to die beneath those hands.
Only briefly, the feel of Illya's mouth on his skin was its own form of amnesia. Nothing was said between them; words had long since failed him, weeks ago in Waverly's office when he'd only been able to lay down his credentials and walk away. Easier to let flesh speak for them, bare skin carrying a message of its own and the feel of Illya's hands on his cock, stroking with the same keen desperation that had been buried in Napoleon for longer than he wanted to consider.
He heard Illya fumbling in the drawer next to the bed and refused to allow himself to consider what it meant. It was too late to draw back, for any hysterical resurgence of sanity, and even when Illya was curved over him, drawing his legs over his arms to rest on his shoulders, Napoleon couldn't consider it. Not until he felt the inexorable pressure of Illya's cock against him, pushing slowly inside, all the way into the reluctant yielding of his body.
Illya went utterly still, made a soft, broken sound as his hands gripped the smooth curve of Napoleon's hips almost roughly, and oh, it was almost too much, the brutal stretch of it inside him, and he was completely taken like this, completely Illya's. He wondered how he looked to Illya, wide-eyed and flushed, biting his lip until he could feel his teeth tearing the soft flesh. He wondered if Illya could see him at all, only a bare glimmer of blue shimmering between those soft lashes.
A strangled gasp escaped him when Illya finally moved, a long, slow slide out before he pushed forward again strongly, his low moan trembling between them. The air around them was murky with the scent of their sweat, their sex, and God, Illya was actually on top of him, inside him, rocking his way even deeper and it hurt in a way Napoleon couldn't even express, in all the best ways.
It couldn't be gentle, sweat slicking their bellies and he was riding the rhythm of Illya's thrusts like he never wanted it to end, and if he could die like this, Napoleon would never feel safer. Orgasm was like an explosion, heat crashing through him and he could feel Illya's breath against his lips, the wet heat between them as he came almost an afterthought.
He was fading away before Illya could even finish, the rolling pleasure of the desperate shoves inside him like the sweetness of a dream and he sighed as Illya came, bleary wonderment slipping soundlessly into sleep.
Illya's clothing had been rendered completely unwearable, every piece mauled off in their eagerness, and it was a long search in his closet before Napoleon found something suitable enough to lend.
Illya propped himself up on his elbows and studied the wadded denim hanging limply from Napoleon's fist. "I wouldn't have guessed you even owned jeans."
"I don't always live in a suit."
"Another myth destroyed."
The jeans were just a shade too large for him, hanging from his hips in a way that bared the sweet, smooth skin just below his navel. Napoleon's mouth watered with the need to press his mouth against it, to run his tongue through the line of fine, blonde hair that trailed below the waistband. He resisted it painfully. It wasn't quite too late to defy an addiction to that soft paleness, even if Illya in nothing but jeans and his bare feet was a sight to be savored.
The coffee was cold and heavy with dregs, the thought so utterly disgusting to Napoleon's palate it almost made him gag to watch Illya drink it indifferently. The paper was laid out on the table, each page rustling softly as Illya turned it and Napoleon couldn't look away from the utter domesticity of it.
Panic was rising in the back of his throat like nausea and this time when he spoke, he meant to say the words. "I won't come back."
The coffee cup paused on its way to Illya's mouth, a flicker of blue eyes in his direction. "Did you say that the other times you left?"
Napoleon opened his mouth, trying to find an answer to something that wasn't a question and couldn't. He had. They both knew he had. A month after the first time he'd gone to Del Floria's. He had been handed his gun and ID in silence, ignoring the looks. Waverly had sent him on another assignment and no one had mentioned his absence. As if it had never happened.
As if he'd never really left.
After a moment, he sank into the chair next to Illya and took the last section of the paper. Illya didn't glance at him, only flipped to the next page of his part as if there was nothing left to say. Perhaps there wasn't.
But he wouldn't go back today.