The Uninvited Guests Affair
"Don't make waves, Illya."
Those were Napoleon's words as he drove off to rescue Salty Oliver from the evil clutches of Governor Callahan at Chaqua.
But now it was Napoleon who was making waves. He was sitting as far away from Illya as possible, within the confines of the private plane, and writing notes for their report on a legal pad. He was all but ignoring his partner.
This U.N.C.L.E. plane was one of the older ones, smaller and less well appointed than the later jet model. But Illya was grateful for the luxury of being whisked straight back to New York after more than three weeks of privations in the penal colony. True, there was no sweet U.N.C.L.E. stewardess to lavish attention upon the two agents, but there was a pilot and a co-pilot, there was food and there was cold beer. These last two he had been fantasising about for days.
So Napoleon was mad with him—that was the truth of it. His partner was disappointed; well it was too bad.
"C'mon—stop fiddling with that. It's time to go home and take a bath," Napoleon had chided him, as Illya tinkered with the jeep's engine, trying to get it started after stalling it whizzing backwards out of the compound. He had grinned round the cheroot in his mouth, still in character as the disreputable prisoner. but just as the engine fired up, he heard his partner's next words:
"Ah, Salty my love the first evening we're back in New York is going to rival a night on Olympus . . ."
Illya looked up and saw the two of them wrapped around each other. He couldn't believe it! If there was one girl he had never imagined Napoleon dating, it was Salty Oliver. But during the course of the assignment she seemed to have transformed herself from ugly duckling into some kind of swan with the old glasses off, hair-do trick and Napoleon must have fallen for it.
Illya had seen little of the girl, although he had a sneaking admiration for her until the resentment set in. Yet he knew Salty would bore Napoleon out of his mind with her idealistic zeal. He had heard this chat-up line of his partner's plenty of times and with disgust, he joined in:
" . . .the wine, the warmth . . ." Napoleon's eyes slid balefully towards Illya as they chorused the words.
And then Illya blew it. If he'd just stopped there, Napoleon might have taken the hint, but Illya had to turn round to Salty and hiss, "Oh not you—I thought you would be more special than the rest of them!"
That had made Salty riled with both of them.
"I wouldn't go out with you if you were the last man on Earth, Napoleon Solo—I never thought for a moment you were so completely lacking in integrity! And to think of all I went through for you and that undercover organization of yours! Why I'd rather eat beans with the prisoners than dine out in a fine restaurant in New York with either of you—at least you know where you are with the prisoners . . ." and on and on and on until she finally demanded to be taken back to her rented room in Chaqua village.
"And I'll make my own way back to New York in my own time thank you very much!" was her parting shot as they dropped her off at a shabby little building with peeling green shutters which housed her room over the village bakery, dodging the Thrush guards who still seemed to be everywhere, despite the area swarming with police. Salty had insisted she would be fine—had stayed here often before—and they eventually agreed to leave her, once they had alerted the local police to give her at least some protection. She was a very stubborn young woman for sure.
Illya justified his behaviour by telling himself he was simply saving Napoleon the bother of a wasted evening.
That had been one of his motives.
So their job was done. The minute they dropped Salty off, still berating them, Illya drove like a maniac to the little private airfield, where the plane he had been promised had already landed.
The look on Napoleon's face as they boarded told Illya he had gone too far this time.
"I can't believe you are still mooning after that girl," he grumbled, snatching up the opener and yanking the top off a bottle of beer even before he sat down. "She's not your type."
Napoleon looked askance. "Oh? And you would know my type, would you?"
"I've seen enough of them to know Salty isn't it." Illya swallowed some of the beer straight from the bottle.
"You had no right to interfere."
"In fact the only resemblance to your type is the number of X chromosomes she carries," Illya snarled back.
The pilot's voice came through the intercom. "Please take your seats, gentlemen, and fasten your seatbelts for take off."
Illya snagged a large sandwich and another bottle of beer out of the refrigerator and sat at the rear. Napoleon sat at the front in a seat at the table, thoughtfully provided with writing materials by U.N.C.L.E., and prepared to start the report. He didn't look at Illya.
Illya was annoyed. He was too tired, hungry and sore with sunburn to be properly mad, but he did wish that Napoleon, for once in his life, would leave off romancing the femme du jour and be a little more attentive toward him. He didn't ask for much—just that his needs be put first occasionally—especially since it was he who had endured the penal colony and all that it entailed, and he who had rescued Napoleon and Salty when they had got themselves captured, and he who had fixed the jeep so that they could all get away. Then suddenly his fantasies of food, relaxation and pleasant company had been shattered and he foresaw a lonely plane ride home, trying not to watch as Napoleon canoodled with that little know-all.
He wondered if Napoleon really understood what the conditions had been like in the penal colony—the hard physical labour, the iron rations, the filth. Napoleon jokingly called him Filthy and there had been warmth in his eyes that made Illya resent Salty's intrusion even more.
That warmth had kept Illya going when the stalled jeep had been almost the final straw. He fixed it though, imagining himself and Napoleon sitting side by side on the plane, laughing at the earnest Salty behind her back, making fun of the randy little Governor Callahan and his two 'nurses', Flora and Dora, and generally enjoying a bit of downtime together after a mission completed.
Illya had to admit that despite the privations, he had rather enjoyed himself in Chaqua. He loved playing a part. He loved to blend into the background, to become part of the scenery, part of the furniture. It was odd that someone with his unusual looks should be so good at disguise, but Illya could think himself into a character. He had learned it early in life for his own protection. Later, it had always stood him in good stead. For the duration of his time in the penal colony, he was that singing thug who had attacked the South American U.N.C.L.E. agent with a guitar. When he donned the dirty rags, the disreputable hat, threw off his shoes to go uninhibitedly barefoot and stuck the stolen cheroot jauntily in his mouth, he became that hard-bitten villain with the irritating whistle. Yes, he still had a job to do, but he did it in his new persona. When he changed into the Thrush guard's uniform, he was still the disreputable thug underneath it.
That is, until he was with Napoleon once more.
When he was with Napoleon, he immediately became Illya Kuryakin, U.N.C.L.E. Agent, Section 2 Number 2. Napoleon had that effect on him.
Napoleon had called him Filthy, but he wasn't. Not then and not when they spoke on the communicator. Filthy would not have worried about Napoleon going back alone to rescue Salty. Filthy would not have risked his life saving Napoleon and Salty from their predicament. Filthy would not have cared how and with whom Napoleon spent his evenings. But Illya cared.
Illya leaned back in his seat and sighed regretfully. The meagre rations of Chaqua had made his stomach shrink, and after two bottles of beer that went down without touching the sides, and the sandwich, he was done. Already the beer was making his head swim and his eyes feel heavy. He allowed his eyes to close.
What seemed like a minute later, his sixth sense awoke him.
Napoleon was standing beside him, holding a sandwich and a beer and staring down at him, wrinkling his nose.
"Ah—nothing. I've finished the report."
"Already? " Illya yawned and scratched his chest.
"You've been asleep for the best part of two hours." Napoleon's nose wrinkled further. "I'd sit beside you but I've smelled more fragrant skunks." He grinned.
"You try staying clean with the washing facilities at Chaqua," Illya snapped. After all this time he could no longer smell himself, but he supposed he must be fairly offensive. An attempt at washing might be in order. Besides, the beer was making itself felt. He scratched again, his groin this time. At least Napoleon was speaking to him now. One good thing about his partner—it just wasn't in his nature to hold a grudge for long. He scratched his bare arm.
"I do wish you wouldn't do that." Napoleon looked pained.
"What?" Illya clawed at his chest. It had become second nature since he'd been in Chaqua.
"Scratch like that. I hate to think what livestock you're harbouring."
Despite his words, the way Napoleon was raking him with his eyes was disconcerting. Illya scowled.
"All right," he grumbled, "I can take a hint." He got up, staggering a little—his body had finally given in to exhaustion. Napoleon grabbed his elbow and squeezed his biceps.
"Napoleon!" Illya snatched his arm away.
Napoleon put on a wounded expression. "I was just admiring your muscles, Filthy. All that digging was good for you."
Illya snorted. "Well feast your eyes on them for the last time, because this is the last you'll see of Filthy." He turned towards the bathroom.
The U.N.C.L.E. plane had a tiny, but well-equipped bathroom. Of course there was no shower and the basin was small, but there were plenty of towels, soap, shaving equipment and even shampoo. Agents were often picked up from assignments a little the worse for wear and U.N.C.L.E. did not approve of untidiness or of wasting time. There had even been a set of Illya's own clothes in the closet next to the refrigerator at the stern. U.N.C.L.E. thought of everything.
Cleaning up, however, was going to be a long, slow process. He hadn't noticed quite how dirty he had become and the image in the mirror shocked him. Somehow, since he had left the thuggish persona behind at Chaqua, he hadn't expected to see him staring back from the mirror—grimy, wild-eyed and unshaven and—well—filthy. Illya hadn't actually seen the thug he had become, in any case. He frowned at him and plunged his head into the basin of warm water.
Illya set about cleaning himself up methodically. He started at the top and worked his way down to his unspeakably dirty feet. Going barefoot was one of his pleasures. He found it liberating. But the downside was trying to get his feet clean once again. He was glad of his athletic training as he managed to stretch enough to get his foot into the basin with ease.
As he was scrubbing his right foot for the fourth time, there was a knock at the door.
"You okay in there?" Napoleon's voice held a touch of anxiety.
"You've been in there almost an hour."
"It's just that I wouldn't mind using the facilities. "
Illya sighed and scratched his leg. Despite all his assiduous washing, he was still damnably itchy. He glared at the leg. The light-coloured hairs on it were fluffed up. He could still see bits of dirt.
Then one of them moved.
Illya tried to focus on it, but his close vision wasn't good without his glasses. Yes, there was definitely movement. Lice probably. K'chortu.
Another knock on the door. "Illya! I'm getting desperate here. The beer you know . . . " Napoleon sounded pained.
"Wait a minute."
"I've been waiting. C'mon, open up and let me in. I just need to pee."
The head was small enough that Illya could lean back and unlock the door without taking his foot down from the basin. Napoleon pushed his way in and past him, then stood a moment regarding Illya's naked body up and down with unreadable eyes. Then he glanced expectantly at the door.
"Are you going to just stand there and watch?" Napoleon asked.
Illya squinted at his leg and at the animated dark brown dots that were scattered on his skin. "Go ahead, I'm trying to see something here." He changed legs and examined the other one, scratching it savagely. Same thing—lots of little moving brown dots.
He heard Napoleon pee and sigh contentedly. Illya scratched his chest. Closer inspection of that revealed more dots. He shuddered—detesting the idea of parasites of any kind. The toilet flushed and he felt Napoleon press against him, pushing him into the stainless steel of the basin as he circled his arms around Illya's waist to get at the taps.
"There really isn't room for two in here." Napoleon rinsed his hands under the tap.
Illya pushed him away. "Actually, there are considerably more than two."
"You mentioned livestock. Well I do seem to have brought some with me." Illya pushed Napoleon out of the way again and thrust his foot back up onto the basin. "See for yourself."
Napoleon's pained expression of earlier returned. "Great. Filthy and his flea circus."
Illya grimaced. "I don't think they are fleas. They don't jump, just crawl about. That's why I've not noticed them till now." He gestured at his thigh. "I've tried washing them, but they won't come off."
Napoleon glanced around him at the soaking wet floor, the damp towels. "Yes, I can see you've been washing," he grinned. "You certainly smell less pungent."
Illya dug him in the ribs. "Just you try washing properly in this tiny space. There's less elbow room here than in a telephone box."
Napoleon was peering closely at Illya's thigh, parting the hairs. "It looks like you've got crabs," he announced, finally.
Illya snorted. "Don't be silly. How—oh you mean lice?"
"Ah—not quite. Crabs are a particular variety of lice. I, er, recognise them, regrettably." Napoleon cleared his throat, then looked at him quizzically. "Did you . . . errm . . . while you were in Chaqua?" To Illya's surprise, Napoleon seemed embarrassed. "I mean . . . did anybody try to—you know—rape you?"
Illya couldn't suppress a shudder. This was another aspect of prison life that he would prefer to forget. When he had first arrived at Chaqua, he had been approached several times. For a short while it had been very unpleasant, but nobody tried it twice and word soon got around that the blond gringo could look after himself.
"Nobody was successful," he stated, after a pause.
Napoleon seemed to have recovered himself and was frowning at Illya's discomfiture. "It's all right. I know it happens." He put a hand on Illya's arm. "Let's have a quick look at the rest of you and see the extent of the damage."
Illya bristled. "I'm quite capable of examining myself." He was finding the heat in the tiny room with the two of them oppressive.
"Hah! I know how you are without your glasses. Come out into the cabin and we'll have a proper look."
"I'd rather just cover up and deal with it later." The thought of Napoleon examining his body so closely was disconcerting.
But Napoleon was not to be put off. "Look, the sooner you start to treat them, the sooner they'll be gone. There's no need to worry about the pilots seeing you in your birthday suit. The co-pilot took over just before I knocked on the door. He came through for some coffee and sandwiches. The pilot will be asleep by now in the bunk up front."
Illya sighed and scratched. K'chortu. Now he knew what was causing it, he felt so much itchier. He supposed he had better subject himself to his partner's scrutiny and be done with it. "All right, but you are to wipe that smile off your face. This is no laughing matter." Indignantly, he stalked out of the head and into the cabin.
A moment later he stalked back again, grabbed a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he went and sat resignedly on the bench seat near the table.
Instead of following him to the bench seat, Napoleon crossed to the refrigerator and came back with two more opened beers. He handed one of the beers to Illya. "Here. You better keep your strength up, Filthy."
"Napoleon," he said, warningly, "if I were Filthy I'd have knocked you out the rear porthole by now."
"All right, all right. I rather liked Filthy, that's all. He looked good in that rag of a vest."
"That wasn't what you said before. You called his body disreputable." Illya couldn't help a small smile. Napoleon could be outrageous sometimes.
"And I was right. But I didn't mean it wasn't agreeable. Your little friends certainly think so." Napoleon gave him the benefit another eye raking.
Illya narrowed his eyes. Napoleon had gone far enough.
They sat for a moment drinking the beer, Illya clawing at himself periodically and Napoleon sitting at a discreet distance. Then Illya gave a resigned sigh, dropped his towel and stretched out along the bench seat. He couldn't put off the evil moment any longer. "All right. Now tell me the worst."
Napoleon, obviously making an effort to keep the amused smile off his face, went straight for his pubic hair. Illya squirmed in embarrassment.
"Keep still—and watch what you're doing with that leg!" Napoleon dodged Illya's knee.
"I can't help it if I'm ticklish," Illya gasped. Indeed, Napoleon's light touch had set every nerve ending on edge. Try as he might to lay still it was almost impossible.
He hoped he wouldn't get an erection. That would be the last straw. With an incredible effort of will, he sent his mind firmly to a quantum theory that had been interesting him lately. He tried to ignore the fact that he could feel Napoleon's breath on his nipples now, as his partner examined the hair on his chest and armpits. At last Napoleon straightened up. Illya sat up quickly. "Well?"
"I'd say you have quite an infestation all over. They start off in the pubes but they soon spread." Napoleon failed this time to keep from grinning.
Illya stared at him, appalled. "So what do I do?"
"You've never had them? But I thought you'd been in a prison camp in Russia."
"I was not old enough to have pubic hair then," Illya muttered, darkly. He remembered fleas and headlice and he'd heard people complain about bodylice. He sighed inwardly—why was it always he who had to suffer these humiliations? An unpleasant thought occurred to him. "Better check my head." He bent his head towards his partner and was glad of the opportunity to hide his face.
"If I'd known I was big game hunting I'd have brought my pith helmet and blunderbuss," Napoleon remarked, examining the hair behind Illya's ears and at the back of his neck.
"Very amusing, Napoleon. Anyway, how come you know so much about—what are they—crabs?"
"Well, I . . ."
Illya scowled. "No, on second thought, I don't want to know."
"I was going to say," Napoleon sounded indignant, "that I saw them in Korea. Some of the guys caught them off the local prostitutes."
"I told you I did not want to know. Anything there?" He shook his head out of his partner's grasp.
Napoleon ruffled the hair. "Nope. Your crowning glory is unsullied. It would appear you've simply brought home the one species. "
Somehow this was no great comfort to Illya. "How do I get rid of them?" He scratched again.
Napoleon scratched too. "Hmm. Well you might not like it—"
Illya stared, horrified. "Be careful you don't catch them!" If Napoleon got the lice or crabs or whatever they were from him, he'd never hear the last of it. Come to think of it, he probably wouldn't hear the last of it as things stood now.
"I should hope not. They're generally spread through sexual contact," said Napoleon, airily, and Illya felt himself blush to the roots of his hair.
"Though not always," Napoleon continued, which did little to improve Illya's embarrassment. "The best and fastest way I know to deal with them is to shave off the offending hair and then apply the insecticidal medication. That way you get rid of all the eggs as well as the beasties. Otherwise it's several days of covering yourself with insecticide."
"Oh great, so I get to shave off all my hair, since I seem to have them all over."
"You'll still have this left," Napoleon ruffled Illya's blond head playfully once more, "so you can still be vain about that."
"I am not vain." Illya huffed, although he knew that was not quite true. It was impossible to blush any more. He was already flushed and hot and embarrassed, breaking out with sweat. He was going to need another wash soon. The thought of shaving off all his body hair was not enticing.
"Want me to do it for you? I'm pretty nifty with a razor."
"No thanks, I can manage. I'd rather do it when I get home." '
"Actually I wasn't thinking of now. But since you mention it—the sooner you get it done, the sooner you'll stop itching. And they get into your clothes, so you'd have to burn anything you wear from now until you get rid of them."
Illya looked at the black trousers and grey polo shirt that he habitually wore for work, laid out on the seat across the aisle. It would be a shame to burn perfectly serviceable clothes. "We-ell . . ."
"And you really don't want to carry around your own personal zoo any longer than you have to, do you?"
Illya's skin crawled as he thought of the parasites feasting on his body. It was strange. He hadn't noticed them when he'd been in Chaqua. Everyone scratched. It was part of the way of life and something he might have picked up in his method acting anyway. But now he knew they were there, he felt dirtier and itchier than he had before he washed.
"It'll be done much faster and more efficiently if you let me do it." Napoleon seemed determined. "Besides, I can see them much better than you can."
"Oh all right then. Get on with it," Illya agreed, ungraciously. He sighed gustily and stood up, taking a final swig of beer like a condemned man at his last meal.
Napoleon made a detour to the rear of the plane and came back brandishing a tumbler containing a good three fingers of whisky.
Illya wagged a finger. "Oh no you don't. You're not going near me with a razor unless you are sober."
"It's not for me, you idiot. I want you nice and relaxed. You're far too ticklish. Now drink this down. It's from the emergency bottle."
There had been a recent memo around headquarters concerning the consumption of spirits on board the U.N.C.L.E. planes. Mr Waverly considered that some of his agents were making altogether too free with the whisky and brandy provided for emergency use. There had been fierce debate as to what constituted an emergency but in the end it was left, as were so many things, to the agents' discretion.
Illya took the glass. "I consider this to be an emergency." He knocked it back, Russian style, wishing it were vodka.
In the bathroom, Napoleon ran water while Illya put a new blade in the safety razor. He was glad that he did not have to let his partner loose with a straight-edged cut-throat around his privates. The whisky had gone straight to his legs and he staggered a little as he handed the razor to Napoleon, who caught him against his chest in the confined space.
"Steady. Sit up beside the basin so I can get at you properly," Napoleon ordered, hanging on to him for a fraction longer than necessary.
Illya pulled away. "Napoleon, just be careful you don't catch them from me." His stomach churned just a bit, as he hopped up onto the counter by the basin. He took a deep breath. This was for his own good. Napoleon did not have to do this for him but was simply being a good partner. Illya tried to relax and instead succeeded in making the room spin by closing his eyes. He opened them hurriedly.
Although he would die rather than admit it, he secretly enjoyed Napoleon ministering to him. On the odd occasions when he had been wounded or sick, Napoleon would go into concerned mode and fuss round him. Illya pretended not to like it, but he occasionally prolonged a cold or exaggerated a limp when there was any partnerly sympathy to be had. However, this was an altogether different ball-game.
"We'll start with your chest. You've got quite a nice little colony living there."
Illya glared and then hissed as Napoleon spread cold foam over his chest hair and his hands touched the sensitive nipples.
"My, you are ticklish," Napoleon commented. But he shaved swiftly and competently. When he was done he ran his hand over the now naked chest appreciatively. "Pretty."
"Don't, Napoleon." Illya slapped him away. It was getting warm again. "Just get on with the next bit." He raised his arm so that his partner could shave his armpit. This position felt somehow decadent and he had to force himself to maintain it sufficiently for Napoleon to smear him with shaving cream and shave the dark blond hair that grew there.
"Now this isn't easy. Don't ask me how I know, but it's even more difficult to do one's own armpit." Napoleon was also breathing heavily, obviously feeling the heat as well. And did he have to stand so close? Illya shifted back a little.
"Keep still. Do you want me to cut you?"
Illya made another conscious effort to relax. The whisky, coupled with exhaustion, was helping, but Napoleon's intimate touch was making him tremble slightly. Surprisingly, the feeling was not unpleasant. He concentrated on staying relaxed and allowed Napoleon free rein.
Twenty minutes later there was a large pile of blond hair, mixed with shaving cream and Illya's unwelcome guests, on paper towels put out for the purpose so as not to clog the sink, and Illya was as naked as a baby except for his pubes.
"I think we should flush all this down the toilet," suggested Napoleon. He lifted the pile, towels and all, and went to shovel it into the pan.
Illya grabbed his arm. "No! Do you want to explain to the boys in aviation engineering how we came to block up their toilet? Just the hair." Illya started to snigger in spite of his discomfort. "There you go you little monsters—and good riddance!" He flushed the toilet with relish.
"Now for the rest." Napoleon brandished the razor gloatingly and Illya, still grinning, wrestled him for it.
"I can do this part, thank you very much."
"Uh-uh! You can't even keep your eyes straight. I'm going to finish what I started. Get back up on that sink and lean backwards so I can get a look at you."
Illya rolled his uncooperative eyes and reluctantly complied. But all the alcohol was making him giggly. Once perched on the sink, staring down at his abundant pubic hair, he was suddenly overcome by the surreal quality of this moment and burst out laughing again. "Napoleon, what are we doing?" he gasped, "Suppose there are hidden cameras in here!" He tried to get down again off the sink.
"Don't be paranoid. Why should there be?" Napoleon pushed him back. "Don't let's give up now. We're almost finished."
"And so am I." Illya repeated his words of earlier.
Napoleon bent over him predatorily. "You will be soon and your little friends too. Now hold still. Try and curb that ticklishness," He spread shaving cream liberally over Illya's groin. To Illya's mind, he seemed to take far too long and his hands lingered too much over his balls and the area behind them. Then he took the razor and began to shave from the base of Illya's navel towards his genitals.
Illya swallowed. His giggly mood of earlier was turning abruptly to something even pleasanter but less welcome. He watched in horror as his penis started to lengthen. "Let me do it," he managed to gasp and snatched the razor out of Napoleon's hand once more.
"Relax, relax." Napoleon took the razor back again. "It's okay. It's quite natural to get an erection—ask any nurse—and I've asked a few." He started to shave carefully round Illya's penis, holding it away from the balls as he wielded the razor delicately around them as well. Illya shut his eyes and thought of quantum theory.
"You know, the last time I had this done to me was when I had my appendix out," Napoleon remarked, gently handling Illya's left testicle and shaving under it. "The nurse was a real old dragon. I'm sure they chose her specially for the job."
"Nnnnng," was all Illya could manage through clenched teeth.
"Still got a boner though—which was a miracle since my temperature was 102 at the time. Lean back a bit more and lift up your legs." He shaved around the base of Illya's cock and behind towards his anus.
Illya hissed. Somehow, despite the embarrassment, it felt altogether too good.
Napoleon ran his fingers lightly along the length of him. "My, you are a big boy." His tone was admiring.
"Napoleon!" gasped Illya, his eyes screwed shut, "Please! Just get on with it. Don't talk."
"Sorry. Just lost concentration there . . ."
"Napoleon . . ."
"All right. Try and keep still; this bit is tricky. Can you lift up your legs again for me? Lean back so I can reach this part. Ow!—don't kick—I'm doing my best not to tickle. Oh boy—you're harbouring a multitude under here. That's it—just a teeny bit more. Nearly done."
At last the torture was over. Illya opened his eyes and looked down at his half erect penis. Was it his imagination, or was Napoleon breathing hard again? He was certainly breathing hard himself. The tiny room felt stifling.
"Well, that's you naked as the day you were born. You had quite a little homestead there—hey watch out!" Napoleon stepped back as Illya jumped off the counter, snatched up the washcloth and began to rinse off, lest his partner should take it upon himself to perform this intimate task too.
"I'm going to have another wash down to get rid of the last of the hair," he managed to say, covering his genitals with the cloth to hide his confusion. The erection wasn't going away; he wondered if Napoleon felt anything or had noticed his discomfiture. But his partner appeared quite at ease, despite the heavy breathing.
Napoleon threw the pile of curly hair with its unpleasant contents into the toilet and flushed. He smiled tightly but his tone was light. "I take it I am no longer required. I'll go and get another beer. Do you want anything?" He made to go.
"Uh—no thanks." Butterflies were taking up too much room in his stomach for him to contemplate food or drink.
No, Illya thought, he must have been wrong earlier. Napoleon didn't seem at all affected by what had taken place. But then, as his partner turned around to leave, he noticed what could be the reason for his quick departure.
There was a definite bulge in the front of his trousers.
Illya locked the door behind Napoleon and leaned against the washbasin, both horrified and excited. It was one thing to crave his partner's company, to feel aroused by his gentle touch, perhaps even to indulge in occasional, forbidden fantasies. It was quite another to discover that Napoleon had feelings about him of a similar nature.
The butterflies were being replaced by a warm, pleasantly familiar ache, but his mind was in turmoil. Was this just a one-time arousal, brought on by all the intimate touching? Napoleon was a hedonist and took pleasure in sensual experiences, but how much of a sensual experience was shaving another man's pubes? Did he, perhaps, identify with Illya's own arousal? They often shared thoughts and feelings—it was inevitable if you were as close as he and Napoleon were.
Now it seemed, Illya had no reason to be jealous of Salty Oliver after all. Napoleon hadn't really been interested in her; he'd got over the disappointment quickly enough. But Napoleon had been turned on by him—hadn't he? Or could it be merely the 'Filthy' character he was hot for? What was it he'd said earlier? 'I was just admiring Filthy's muscles.'
Illya had had enough of Filthy. Never mind what Napoleon said, he wanted rid of him and all that he brought with him. Filthy was dirty, sunburned, lousy and very, very hungry. It was time to move on. It was time to wash the last of Filthy down the plughole.
As Illya rinsed his body carefully once again, he stared at each part. He looked very odd, smooth-shaven all over, but strangely agreeable. He gazed into the mirror. Filthy was gone now. Unexpectedly, the sight of his own body aroused him once more and, as he soaped his chest, he remembered Napoleon brushing his nipples. He gave a little hiss as the tiny nubs hardened and he fingered them with soapy hands. His penis hardened further in sympathy.
He looked down at it, rising from his naked torso, so unfamiliar without its usual nest of dark blond curls. He rinsed his chest once more, then soaped his hands to deal with the part of him that was now crying out for attention. He carefully lathered the area around his genitals without touching his penis, which strained upwards, curving towards his smooth belly. He allowed his soapy fingers to stray backwards over his perineum and to the sensitive spot near his anus and gave a sharp intake of breath as he touched his opening. He remembered how it had felt when Napoleon was covering him with shaving cream. It had been his touch that had made him instantly hard. Now his cock twitched and oozed at the tip.
He rinsed the washcloth out and carefully applied it to the bits he had soaped. His cock ached and suddenly he could no longer keep his hands off it. Shaking a little, he wrapped both hands around his erection. He remembered the bulge in Napoleon's trousers and, for a moment, it was as if his partner's competent hands were massaging him towards completion.
He was so aroused, and it was so long since he'd had any kind of sex, that it took only a few pulls before he sent a stream of semen splashing onto the sink. Clutching it with his left hand for support, he spurted again and again, milking himself dry. When it was over, he collapsed, panting, against the door.
It was some minutes before he could summon up the energy to complete his ablutions and emerge from the bathroom into the cabin. Napoleon was leaning back in his seat, eyes closed, seemingly asleep. Illya dressed in the clean clothes laid out for him and sat down next to his sleeping partner.
Under the clothes, his naked skin felt super-sensitive. He was aware of the fabric of the shorts against his bare crotch in a way he never had before. He shifted in the seat, feeling the trousers sliding across his hairless legs. It was an odd sensation and a not unpleasant one. He hoped the little beasts that had caused this were all away. He certainly didn't feel itchy any more. Quite the opposite in fact. Although his skin was sensitive, it also felt soothed. Strange, since it had just been subjected to a rigorous shaving then washing. Perhaps it was the absence of dirt combined with the absence of the lice that was making the difference.
What had Napoleon done when he went back to the cabin, while Illya was—well—while he was dealing with himself? Had he wanted to masturbate too? Had he been forced to take his mind off his naked partner by distracting himself with something else? Illya smiled—not quantum theory, that was for sure. Maybe metaphysical poetry. No, that wouldn't do—too much sex there. Perhaps he counted backwards in sevens from a hundred then.
He drifted off to sleep.
He wakened to the sound of the co-pilot emerging from the cockpit.
"Just to let you know we'll be landing at New York in around fifteen minutes, gentlemen. I hope you have had an enjoyable flight."
"Yes, thank you very much. Uh—most enjoyable," Napoleon's eyes slid toward Illya.
Illya yawned and stretched. "Thank you. It was very—er—smooth." He leaned over to look at Napoleon's watch. He had been asleep more than four hours. He could have done with another four hours, but that would have to wait. He stood up, groaning at his aching muscles.
The co-pilot motioned him to sit down. "If you gentlemen wouldn't mind fastening your seatbelts," he said, and disappeared back into the cockpit.
"Smooth eh?" Napoleon's voice sounded amused. "How are the itches?"
Illya sat back down again. "Much better. The method was drastic but it seems to have worked."
"Wait till it starts to grow back." Napoleon grinned wickedly. "Then you'll know about itching."
Illya winced. "I can see I am not going to be allowed to forget this."
How could he forget? What had happened between him and his partner brought a new dimension to the way Illya regarded Napoleon—colleague, partner, best friend—could it be possible that he might become 'lover' as well? Or was it all a dream? He'd had rather a lot to drink and not very much to eat. Maybe he'd passed out in the bathroom. No, he hadn't had that much to drink. Besides, he had his clothes on now. He came back from his musings to hear Napoleon still lecturing him.
"You'll have to go to medical and get something insecticidal. I expect they'll want to examine you for tropical diseases as well, although you do look remarkably healthy, considering."
"Considering what? I'm chock full of preventative drugs as it is. I don't need any more. I'll go to the drug store." Illya had no desire to be groped and examined by anybody else in his present denuded state.
"Considering the hard work, the sunburn, not enough food to fill that cavernous stomach of yours . . ."
Illya looked down at his concave stomach, ruefully. "It's shrunk to the size of a walnut."
"The lean and hungry look suits you. I was beginning to get quite fond of Filthy."
There it was again. Napoleon had feelings for Filthy. So it had not been a dream. But was it just Filthy? Could it be Illya too?
"But you still had to go and romance Salty!" Illya could not believe he had said that.
"Would Filthy rather I had romanced him?" Napoleon raised an eyebrow.
Illya felt himself blush scarlet. He wasn't ready to admit anything yet. Not until he knew for sure. "Napoleon! Don't be ridiculous. Anyway," he said, recovering his equilibrium a little, "'Filthy was dirty, stinking and lousy."
"Not to mention more than a little crabby." Napoleon grinned gleefully at his own wit.
Illya glared at him. The man had no conscience and no idea of the turmoil he caused. Illya felt himself harden a little, just thinking back to the shenanigans in the bathroom. He bent to the task of fastening his seatbelt.
After a moment of fiddling with the buckle, he stole a look at his partner who was arranging his already perfect tie. How did Napoleon manage to keep so immaculate-looking, even after a gruelling assignment and a long flight? Not to mention all that went on in the bathroom. He looked cool and in control of himself. Napoleon turned and noticed Illya watching him; he winked.
Illya hurriedly closed his eyes again, unable to deal with any more interaction.
Inevitably his mind wandered back to the shaving interlude. Napoleon's intimate touch had felt so good, despite both their efforts to keep cool. And Napoleon had become aroused himself by touching him, seeing him naked. Illya was also amazed at his reaction to his own hairless body. The sight of his naked skin, clean and shining after Napoleon's ministrations, seemed incredibly sexy.
At that moment he knew he wanted Napoleon to see him like that again. In fact he wanted Napoleon to see him touch himself, to see his reaction. He wanted Napoleon to be turned on by him again, as he had surely been in the bathroom. He had seen the evidence; seen his friend's erection plain against his trousers as he left. This had happened. He wanted it to happen again, but this time he wanted to act on it. He felt himself harden some more and wondered how long he was going to remain in this constant state of semi-arousal. Quickly, he sent his mind to his quantum theory until the plane landed and he was forced to join the real world once more.
Back at HQ, Mr. Waverly was anxious for the report and Illya typed up Napoleon's notes and added his own part to the account. As he wrote, he was struck once again by his feelings towards Salty Oliver. She did not deserve his resentment. She helped save the mission by discovering he had blown up the wrong computer, and then showed great courage by taking on Callahan and his cronies, giving himself and Napoleon a chance to do their job properly.
He did not mind Napoleon's dating—that was in Napoleon's nature as much as breathing—but he did mind him skipping off with the nearest female for some fun and leaving him in the lurch when he had been looking forward to their time alone together.
Perhaps he even had reason to be thankful to Salty. She had been quick to turn against Napoleon, once she discovered she was not his one true love, but she had set Napoleon's mind towards sex. Napoleon was angry and frustrated when he boarded the plane and that was a potent mix in him.
Illya wriggled in the chair and felt the movement of fabric against his smooth groin. He had been true to his word and called in at the drug store to buy something to kill the crabs, should any remain. He had gone straight to the showers, had another wash and applied the stuff all over, even on his hair in case anything six-legged should be lurking there. It had been quite nippy on his sunburned, razor-abraded skin, but the smell was not too offensive—no worse than some of Napoleon's aftershaves.
But then an unwelcome thought came into Illya's mind. Had Napoleon still been feeling horny towards Salty whilst he was shaving him? Had he taken his mind off the task by thinking about what might have been between him and Salty? But then he remembered the way Napoleon had let his hands linger on him just too long. The admiring way he had remarked about him. Was it sincere, or was it just to make Illya feel better?
Was it, perhaps, really Filthy who turned Napoleon on?
Illya shook himself and brought his mind firmly back to the report. This would not do. He'd be here till midnight if he continued this way. He sighed and hit the carriage return several times in preparation for the final paragraph.
He was just finishing the last sentence when Napoleon walked through the sliding doors, whistling happily.
Illya looked up. "Don't tell me. You've just arranged your date for tonight."
"I have indeed." Napoleon looked all too pleased with himself. He sat on the desk and whisked the flimsy paper out of the typewriter with a satisfying whirr.
"Perfect timing as usual, just when it's finished," Illya snarled.
"Now, now—I did my share when you were asleep in your little miasma."
"Thank you for reminding me of that." Illya scowled. "It was not my fault. I'll have you know . . ."
"Spare me the sordid details. It was enough that you brought all your friends with you. Er—you have dealt with any that remain, haven't you?"
Illya snorted. "Of course. What do you think I was doing in the shower for half the afternoon?"
Napoleon's eyebrows went up and down gleefully.
"Oh go away, Napoleon! I'm tired and hungry and I want to finish up for the night."
"Temper, temper. Don't you want to know what I've arranged for the evening?"
"Not particularly unless it affects me. If you want to borrow money you're out of luck. I don't have a cent. And give me that report back. I have to take it to Mr. Waverly before I leave." Illya got up and reached for his coat, hanging over the back of the chair.
Napoleon took out his pen and signed the bottom of the report.
"You haven't even read it," Illya grumbled.
"I trust you, remember? Anyway, I'll walk along with you to Waverly's office. Then we can get a taxi to Anselmo's."
"Yes, we, you obtuse Russian. You need fattening up after Chaqua, so I've booked us a table for a pasta blow- out. Then we'll stagger back to your place, since it's just around the corner, and you can give me some of that paint-stripper you call slivovic or vodka or whatever. How does that sound?"
Illya had to work very hard to keep his face impassive. It sounded perfect.
Anselmo was on top form. Both men were frequent customers of his, although rarely together, and he paid them special attention, bringing out the chef, who happened to be his mother, to meet them and thank them personally for their custom. In return, Mama Porchetta cooked them pasta and sauce to die for.
In fact, having eaten hugely, Illya did feel he was in danger of dying when Mama insisted on his trying her tiramisu, despite his protestations that he had no room for dessert. Gamely, he forced a little down and indeed, it was very good. He smiled warmly at the beaming Mama, then pushed his plate away in defeat the moment she left for the kitchen once more.
"Eat it up. It'll put hairs on your chest," Napoleon quipped, grinning at him.
"Very funny, Napoleon. Why don't you eat it? I don't recall many hairs on your chest either."
"Shall we call it a night then?"
Illya's apartment smelled musty after being closed for more than three weeks and he opened the windows to let the warm, city air in. "I'll put on some music in a minute," he called from the bedroom where he pulled back the bedclothes to air the bed a little. The act of doing that set off a little tingle of butterflies in his stomach and he wished he had not eaten so much.
He heard the toilet flush, then the sound of running water as he returned to the living room and went to select a record for the hi-fi—Cole Porter, whose music they both shared a taste for—one of the few. As he put the L.P. on the turntable, he wondered for the nth time what Napoleon's motives were, taking him out, but more specifically, inviting himself back to his apartment. Was Illya reading the signals correctly? Did he also feel the need to take their relationship a step further? A big step?
But there was one thing Illya did know. He was not going to let the opportunity slip through his fingers.
The music playing, he went back into the bedroom and groped under the bed. He pulled out one of several old suitcases he kept for certain assignments. As he heard the bathroom door open and close, he kicked off his shoes and put them under the chair, then slipped out of his black trousers.
"Illya, where do you keep the paint-stripper?" Napoleon's voice sounded as though he had his head in a cupboard.
"Try the ice-box." He removed his polo shirt and placed it with the trousers over the back of the chair. He could smell the insecticide and wondered if he should try and wash it off. No, no time for that. He had to act.
"Above the sink—er—top shelf." He pulled on the clothes he had taken out, mussed his hair a little and kicked the suitcase back under the bed. Lastly, he fished something out of a cardboard box he kept at the back of the wardrobe. Then he shut the wardrobe, glanced in the mirror to make sure all was as it should be, and went back into the living room.
Napoleon was just sitting down on the sofa and putting the bottle of vodka and two glasses on the coffee table, when he looked up and saw Illya enter.
"Filthy!" he exclaimed.
"Is that for me?" Illya sat down on the sofa beside Napoleon and, in Filthy's cocky fashion, poured himself a glass of vodka, tossed it back, then poured another. He grinned at Napoleon, and narrowing his eyes and looking sideways at him, knocked back the second glass. The nervous feeling in his stomach abated, as the alcohol hit and he entered into his role.
Napoleon stared at him, eyebrows raised. "Ah—you smell somewhat better than when I last saw you. I'll say that." His expression turned quizzical, but he continued to watch Illya, leaning back on the sofa.
Illya took off the wide-brimmed straw hat and plonked it down on the table. He poured a third shot into his glass. Then he filled up Napoleon's and handed it to him.
Napoleon raised his glass. "As Mr. Philip Toomey would say: chin-chin, Filthy old boy." He sipped at the vodka and made a face.
Illya grinned Filthy's roguish grin, but then spoiled the effect by sniping, "Your accent is just awful."
Napoleon's face fell. "I thought it was rather good—which is more than I can say for this stuff. Haven't you got any scotch?"
"I wasn't expecting company. If I had known you were coming, I'd have baked a cake." Why was he making such inane remarks? He needed Napoleon to want him, but his nervousness was making him snappy. Why couldn't he slip back into the part he'd been playing so successfully?
Napoleon didn't seem to notice his discomfiture. "Oh well, they say you can get used to anything in time. I'm just surprised all you Russians still have enamel on your teeth."
Illya grinned again, showing soundly enamelled teeth. He knocked back the third glass of vodka. "That's how we do it. It doesn't touch the teeth. Why don't you try?" The vodka was helping—he was beginning to relax.
"Ah—I believe I will." Napoleon went to copy Illya's action, but Illya stopped him before the glass touched his lips.
"Wait a minute. Vodka is best enjoyed in an informal atmosphere. Why don't I take your jacket?" He stood to help his partner remove his suit coat. His fingers lingered on the well-muscled shoulders as he held the jacket either side of the collar, allowing Napoleon to slip his arms out. He hung it carefully over the back of one of the dining chairs, then narrowed his eyes and glanced at Napoleon's shoulder holster. "The apartment is secure."
"Yes indeed. Perhaps it would be more comfortable without these too." Napoleon removed his shoulder holster and tie, and Illya hung them over the jacket. He unfastened the top button of his shirt, then toed off his shoes and pushed them under the coffee table. "There—better?"
Illya's heart began to beat a little faster. Good. Napoleon was playing along so far. "So now you can drink like a Russian." He sat down beside his partner once more and poured himself yet another shot of vodka. "Together then—adin, dva, tri . . ."
"Nasdarovye!" They both banged their empty glasses down on the coffee table together. Napoleon's eyes watered and Illya laughed, delightedly. At last he felt more confident. "You see—it is better."
Napoleon leaned back on the sofa once more and raised his eyebrows, his expression amused. "And you're beginning to sound as if you just stepped off the plane from Moscow. Must be the vodka."
Illya jumped up, folded his arms in front of him, and executed a little Cossack dance, falling over at the end and clutching the coffee table. He lay on his elbows on the floor, panting and grinning, looking up into the shining brown eyes, trying to read what was there.
Napoleon leaned over towards him and pushed open the tattered vest with one finger, exposing Illya's smooth chest. "I didn't realise Grisniy (Filthy) was Russian. " His voice was low and his expression was something between amusement and desire.
At his partner's touch and the sound of his native tongue the butterflies in Illya's stomach returned, but he fought to keep his voice even. "In case you had not noticed, Grisniy is Shistiy (Clean)"
"You are most certainly clean—ah—shaven."
"I wondered perhaps . . ." Illya paused, his confidence faltering, but Napoleon's eyes raked him as they had in the plane. All the same, he felt vulnerable. If he had read the signs wrongly . . . No, the look in Napoleon's eyes, the warmth that he'd seen and craved, was still there.
Napoleon offered his hand to help him up. Illya took the hand, but instead of pulling himself up, he held onto it. When he spoke, his voice came out in a lower register than usual, husky with desire.
"I wondered if you might like to check your handiwork." And he pulled Napoleon sharply towards him.
The next few moments were a blur in Illya's mind. One minute he was leaning back, looking up at Napoleon, his heart beating double time, and the next, the two of them were on the floor together. Napoleon lay sprawled beside him, breathing heavily and staring at him with big, luminous eyes that seemed to take in every part of him at once.
"Do you like what you see, Napoleon?" He was finding it hard to get the words out. He wanted this, and yet he was afraid of it.
Napoleon slowly opened Illya's vest some more and stared. "You are so damn beautiful." He ran his hand over Illya's chest. "So smooth."
His touch made a thousand nerve endings tingle and Illya felt his nipples harden to tiny, sensitive points. He raised his arms above his head, lying back as if he was relaxed, although in fact, he was trembling from head to foot and his heart was trying to hammer its way out of his chest. He struggled to control his voice, but it came out shaky, like a purr.
"Did you enjoy touching me on the plane, making me clean?"
Napoleon traced his fingers over Illya's hairless armpit and along the underside of his upper arm. He smiled in that predatory way and Illya's stomach clenched with desire.
"Napoleon . . ."
"You know, Filthy was sexy as hell—these arms." He squeezed Illya's biceps as he had in the plane. "I wanted to touch him the moment I saw him in that ditch."
Illya's heart jolted and he closed his eyes. So it was Filthy.
But then he heard Napoleon's voice again—soft, low and shaking a little. "But he was nothing to Shistiy. Shistiy is beautiful, sexy and clean."
He felt his partner touch his hair, run his fingers lightly through it. Slowly, he opened his eyes. Napoleon was leaning on one elbow, gazing down at him, a little frown on his face. "Would you have let me cut this off?" He lifted a lock and let it fall again.
"Fortunately, I did not have to make that decision." Illya's voice still sounded different—husky. He swallowed and tried to clear his throat.
Napoleon continued to stare at him. His hand trailed down the side of Illya's face, tracing the line of his jaw and brushing tantalisingly close to his mouth. Illya fought the desire to kiss it.
"Let me look at the rest of you." The hand roamed over Illya's torso. Illya stretched back, trying to relax, but every muscle was tense. His skin fluttered as Napoleon continued with his close manual inspection, running his palm over Illya's lean abdomen and down towards his trousers. Illya could keep still no longer. He grabbed the hand.
"This part of me keeps remembering your touch." And he placed Napoleon's hand over the hard bulge of his cock in the ragged trousers. Napoleon pressed down, the flat of his hand covering it. Illya gave a hiss.
"What have we here?" Napoleon moved his hand, tracing the angle of Illya's erection with his palm. Illya prayed he wouldn't come there and then.
Illya took hold of Napoleon's hand and guided it over his concave, naked belly and under the loose waistband of his trousers. "Doesn't it feel good? You certainly are nifty with that razor." Then he hissed again as his partner's fingers brushed the tip of his penis.
"I—ah—think I should inspect a little more of my handiwork." Napoleon withdrew his hand and carefully unfastened the top button of Illya's trousers. "Mmm."
Illya let Napoleon take the lead for now, still unsure. All he knew was that he wanted this and Napoleon seemed to as well.
"See how the skin goes from brown to white here?" Napoleon unfastened a second, then a third button. "Does the sunburn still hurt?"
"Only a little." The sunburn on his shoulders was, in fact, being chafed as he lay on the floor. He sat up abruptly, got to his knees and faced Napoleon, slipping out of the vest as he did so. The ragged trousers slipped down his thighs. He stretched out and began to unfasten the buttons of Napoleon's white shirt.
"Allow me." Napoleon knelt up, pulled his shirttail out from his trousers and began to unfasten the buttons from the bottom. When they met in the middle he shrugged out of it. Illya, his hands trembling, unfastened the belt buckle and Napoleon, also shaking, struggled with the button. Illya could see the outline of his partner's erect cock against the grey fabric. Then Napoleon unzipped his trousers and freed his cock from the tangle of his shorts.
They knelt opposite one another, breathing hard. Illya put his hands on his partner's shoulders to steady them both. He stared down between them at their twin cocks—one rising from a thicket of dark, curly hair, the veins standing out in sharp relief, shiny and purple at the tip, the other pink against bare, almost white, skin.
And suddenly, another blur—as if the brakes had been released. One moment they were gazing at each other, and the next they were clasped together, all over one another—hands clutching, grasping, stroking.
They rolled onto the floor once more, over and over, grappling. Then Napoleon clasped Illya's buttocks, pulling their two groins together so that Illya could feel the tickle of his friend's thick pubic hair rasping against his naked cock. Their faces met and Illya brushed his lips down the side of Napoleon's cheek. Napoleon turned and caught an earlobe between his teeth.
Illya felt Napoleon's hot breath and his wet tongue licking his ear. He felt Napoleon's palms caress his buttocks and then a warm finger slid along his crack, lingering around the anus, exploring, then slipping backwards again. His cheeks were massaged and then the finger slid in again and at the same time the hot tongue poked his ear.
Illya had a sudden flashback to the airplane bathroom, as he remembered Napoleon admiring him, how he had been fascinated by his nakedness. He remembered Napoleon fingering him gently, rubbing his fingers up the length of him. Gasping, he bit down on Napoleon's shoulder to stop himself shouting out and thrust frantically onto the hardness beneath him. He felt his partner's cock slippery against his belly from their combined sweat, and suddenly a warm splash of semen between them as Napoleon groaned out his name into his ear. His own orgasm came seconds later, with enough force to send him almost senseless, and he collapsed on top of Napoleon, his face buried in his neck, breathing in the familiar scent of him.
He didn't want to open his eyes in case it was all a dream, but he felt Napoleon's hand in his hair and felt him shift beneath his weight. He raised his head, and found himself looking into heavy-lidded brown eyes. Napoleon continued to stroke the back of his head, tangling fingers in his hair. Illya did not know what to say, so he said nothing, but lifted his partner's hand as it caressed him, and rubbed his cheek against it.
"You need to shave, tovarisch Shistiy."
He couldn't help smiling. "Perhaps you should do it for me."
"Perhaps I should. I—ah—like the effect it has." Napoleon gave him a smile that made Illya's heart lurch.
It was done now. They had changed things forever.
At this thought a great stab of doubt assailed Illya as if he had suddenly plummeted a hundred feet in a lift. "I'll get you a towel." He rolled off Napoleon and scrambled to his feet, pulling up his trousers as he did so.
Napoleon was still smiling. "Pity, I was enjoying the view."
Illya went into the bathroom and ran water onto a washcloth. What would happen now? How would they move on from here? Everything was going to change between them.
Illya stared at his image in the bathroom mirror. His face was flushed and his hair was awry. His eyes looked almost black, the pupils were so large. The skin of his chest was also flushed, mottled with red. It was naked, hairless. He shivered.
He wanted their friendship to stay the same; but it couldn't. Perhaps they should clean up and pretend nothing was different? That would be impossible—how could they work together as if nothing had happened? Anyway, now Illya had a taste of sex with his partner he wanted more. Briefly he allowed his imagination to picture a scene of them in bed together. In Napoleon's large bed with the fine linen sheets that he had laundered and starched in that expensive place where they delivered them wrapped in brown paper and string. Illya had been there once when the parcel had arrived. He had answered the door and signed the delivery boy's chitty. He could remember the warm, clean, ironing smell of the parcel. He had mocked Napoleon for his extravagance, but secretly he had been enchanted at the thought of slipping between those smooth sheets . . .
The water burned his fingers. He had forgotten what he was doing and let it run over the washcloth too hot. Quickly he turned off the hot tap and ran the cold a moment to cool it down. As he did so, he remembered who Napoleon was in the habit of spending time with in that bed. His stomach clenched.
Wouldn't Napoleon drop him like a hot cake the moment some creature with a tiny waist and pointy breasts sashayed by?
As he cleaned himself, he tried to bring his panic under control but the questions kept coming. Eventually he rinsed out the washcloth, fastened his trousers and took the cloth and a towel back to Napoleon, who was still lying in the same position. He looked relaxed. How could he be relaxed? All Illya's nerves were jangling again. What had they done? What had he done? He handed the washcloth to his partner who took it, cleaned himself with it, then looked at him sharply, eyes narrowed, as he exchanged it for the towel.
"What's the matter?"
Illya swallowed and said nothing. Napoleon frowned.
"A moment ago we were having fun. Now you look like you're going to be sick."
Illya remained silent, unable to put what he was feeling into any sort of words. He wasn't used to his emotions being so out of control. He was kidding himself. He should never have started this. He had seduced Napoleon and led them both down a road they should never have taken. It would ruin their partnership that he had worked so hard for and cherished so deeply. He sat down on the sofa and put his head in his hands.
He felt the soft thud as Napoleon sat beside him. Rubbing his face with his hands, he opened his eyes again and risked a guilty glance. His partner was fastening his trousers. Illya dropped his head again, wearily. Suddenly he didn't want to think any more. He wanted to shut this all out and pretend it hadn't happened. The tiredness he had felt earlier came back with a vengeance. He leaned back on the sofa and yawned.
"If you're going to be any use tomorrow you need to get some sleep." Napoleon's hand was on his elbow, guiding him back to his feet. His body felt leaden, but his mind was still in turmoil although he seemed unable to think straight.
"Napoleon, I . . ."
"We can talk in the morning. Come on, into the bedroom."
The image of the linen sheets hit him so hard he could almost smell them. K'chotu! Stop this ridiculous fantasy. He snatched his arm free. "I do not need to be treated like a child. I do not need to be tucked in, thank you. I think it is time you went home." Very good, Illya Nickovetch. He treats you to supper, you seduce him, you play sex games, then you send him away without so much as a by your leave, far less an explanation.
"Are you sure that's what you want?" Napoleon sounded hurt, and not without reason.
Illya sighed. "I don't know. I'm sorry, Napoleon, I . . . "
"Look," Napoleon interrupted him, "We do need to talk but not now when we're both tired. Go to bed and I'll go home if it makes you feel better. I'll come by early and we can talk in the morning."
No, that wouldn't do. He couldn't let this go. He couldn't let Napoleon go. Illya caught Napoleon's arm. "Don't go. I'm sorry. I want you to stay. It's what I wanted . . . planned." He glanced towards the bedroom with its turned-down bed.
"Good, because that was what I planned too. I even brought a clean shirt and underwear." Napoleon pointed to his briefcase, which indeed bulged more than usual.
"You did?" Illya's heart lifted a little. He wasn't entirely to blame then. If Napoleon had been planning on staying the night, then at least he had anticipated something might happen. "How . . .?"
"I really think we should sleep on it, Comrade Shistiy. Come on. I promise I won't try and tuck you in."
The sound of his alarm clock jarred Illya rudely from sleep. He buried his face in the pillow, reached out a hand to punch the off button and encountered solid flesh next to him. Instantly awake, he sat up with a start. "Napoleon?"
The alarm still rang its jarring reveille as Napoleon sat up yawning. "Could you turn that thing off?"
"Sorry." Illya pushed the button and silence was restored. "I don't remember setting it."
Beside him, Napoleon leaned back and stretched. "You didn't, I did. You flaked out before I even got as far as the bed—very comfortable, by the way. Better than the sofa."
Illya's mind started sorting through the events of last night and he decided he needed a breather before tackling the issues. "I'll make us some coffee." His partner stopped him.
"Don't go. Let's talk. Breakfast can wait—there's plenty of time. I set the alarm early—look, it's only 6.30 a.m." Napoleon pulled him back onto the bed and reached his other hand out to stroke Illya's hair. Illya allowed the caress. It was almost normal. Napoleon often touched him—straightening a lapel, patting him. It meant nothing.
"So—why the change of heart, tovarisch?"
"Change of heart?"
"One minute we're having sex and enjoying ourselves and the next, you're sunk in a doom. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you start the game?" Napoleon's voice was calm. He could have been wondering about a change in the weather.
"I just don't think it was one of my better ideas." Illya avoided looking at Napoleon and studied his fingernails, broken and torn from digging ditches.
Napoleon continued to stroke his hair. Illya shivered at the touch and suddenly clasped his partner's hand, kissing the palm and then rubbing his cheek against it as he had last night. "I . . . I found you shaving me very . . . stimulating. I found this . . ." He indicated his naked body, " . . . I found it a . . . what is the expression . . . a turn on?"
Napoleon smiled. "So did I. You looked so good. I had to stop myself pouncing on you in the airplane." He caught Illya's face between his hands and looked earnestly at him.
"You know, I have had sex with a man before, if that's what's concerning you."
Illya turned away. It was always about Napoleon in the end. He picked people up and put them down like a child in a toy-shop. "That is partly what is concerning me, yes," he said, at last.
"You're afraid you have led me to do something against my nature?" Napoleon sounded amused.
"No, Napoleon. It is not that at all. It is just . . . it will not . . ." he couldn't bring himself to say it. He trailed off and studied his ragged fingernails again. "I'll go and make that coffee." He got up and this time Napoleon did not stop him.
As he assembled the cups and boiled the water, he thought about the women he knew whom his partner had dated—practically every pretty woman in HQ at one time or another. And yet Napoleon still flirted with every one of them whenever he got the chance. True, if someone new came along he flirted more assiduously until he achieved a date and moved on to the next, but afterwards he still treated them all to the Solo charm. His attitude towards them did not change.
Perhaps Illya should accept that he was just going to be one of his partner's occasional lovers or one-night stands and things would go back to normal just as soon as the next conquest came along.
Things were normal with Heather, with Mandy and Maud and all the rest—so why not with Illya too?
Because he wanted to be more to Napoleon—to his best friend—and he was more. They were partners. They would still be partners when Napoleon moved on to another romance.
But with Napoleon it wasn't goodbye—it was au revoir. His past conquests queued up to be his next date and he frequently revisited old girlfriends. He was loyal—just not constant.
Illya smiled and poured the coffee into the cups. Nothing was going to change. He and Napoleon would enjoy this interlude—then things would return to normal. This was temporary, a disguise, a game, like his role at Chaqua. It was something to be relished while it lasted, knowing next week he would probably impersonate someone else, but also knowing that he would go back to being Illya Kuryakin, U.N.C.L.E. agent, Section 2, Number 2, partner of Napoleon Solo, and now the new dynamic—occasional lover. He could live with that. Oh yes.
Illya carried the two cups of coffee through to the bedroom. Napoleon was lying on top of the bed. He was naked and relaxed, as if he lived here all the time. He sat up and grinned as Illya handed him one of the cups and climbed onto the bed beside him.
"Were you harvesting the coffee beans? I was beginning to give up hope."
Illya ran his eyes up and down the well-muscled body approvingly. "Good things come to those who wait."
"That's what I was hoping." Napoleon's eyebrows waggled up and down comically and Illya forgot to be acerbic and smiled into his coffee mug.
They sat side by side for a few moments in companionable silence, drinking their coffee. At length, Napoleon spoke.
"I'd like a repeat performance."
"Performance!" Illya pretended to be shocked, "Is that what you call it?"
"Only this time you don't need to get dressed up. I'd like make love to you properly—slowly . . ."
The butterflies, which had been resting quietly in Illya's stomach leapt into fluttering life. "Love?"
Napoleon looked aggrieved. "Do you have to repeat everything I say? That is the usual term for what we did last night. It doesn't necessarily mean . . ."
"But we do." Illya met Napoleon's eye and challenged him. "We do love each other."
Napoleon appeared to consider this, narrowing his eyes and looking sharply at Illya, startled at first, but then his face softened. "Well we 're partners . . ."
"Best friends I believe."
"We work well together, look out for each other . . ."
Illya thought back to Chaqua, "Above and beyond the call of duty, I'd say."
"Frequently." Napoleon considered again, his head to one side, face quizzical. Then he grinned. "I suppose we do love each other—in a manly sort of a way of course."
"Of course—in a manly sort of a way. Don't bother sending me flowers."
"I wasn't planning on it. Nor will I be taking you dancing or to expensive restaurants." He patted Illya's firm stomach and grinned. "The portions aren't big enough for you in those fancy places."
"Mmmm." Illya took another drink of his coffee. Then he fixed his partner with a fierce glare. "And don't ever, ever call me Sugar-Pie or any other such nonsense."
Napoleon looked aggrieved once more. "I wouldn't dream of it."
Illya went on, wagging an accusing finger. "And the map-room is definitely out. I know what you get up to on that table . . ." He reconsidered for a moment, then smiled, "Well, maybe just occasionally."
Napoleon leaned back against the headboard and stretched out his legs. He sipped at the last of his coffee.
Illya leaned back beside him and ran his hand over his partner's torso, fingering the dark nipples. Napoleon's cock stirred in appreciation and he sighed. "Mmmm. Keep going."
"Just a minute." Illya put his cup down on the bedside table, got up and went over to the dresser to retrieve his glasses. He put them on, got back on the bed and frowned in the direction of Napoleon's crotch. "Let me see please." He reached out and parted Napoleon's pubic hairs.
"What?" Napoleon sounded startled.
"I thought I saw something move—look—there!" He pointed at his partner's thatch of black curls.
Napoleon hurriedly put down his coffee cup and stared in horror. "Oh no! You're kidding!"
Illya peered again, then took off his glasses and grinned. "Yes—I'm kidding—but I had you worried for a moment."
"Right. That does it! Come here." Napoleon lunged for Illya and pinned him down on the bed. They grappled for a moment, but Napoleon ended up on top of him and pushed his arms above his head in a mock surrender. "For that, Mr. Kuryakin, you deserve to be thoroughly kissed." And without further ado, he covered Illya's mouth with his.
Illya closed his eyes. He was no longer 'Filthy'. He was no longer even 'Shistiy'. He was Napoleon Solo's lover and that was a part he hoped to play for a long, long time.