It wasn't any sort of paradise, Napoleon thought as he and Illya walked side by side through a grassy field. When he had pictured this moment, as he had many times over the past several years, he had always had a backdrop of exotic beauty in mind. He had considered a tropical beach, a snowy mountain vista, the limitless ocean off the bow of a private yacht. But when he and Illya were formally called into Section Chief Jake Davenport's office to receive their reassignment orders, when he and Illya were no longer field partners and he could finally speak, he had been too stricken to make any arrangements at all.
Foolish, to be so shocked. This had been coming for a while, everyone knew it. He and Illya were so recognizable they were losing their effectiveness in the field, and both had so much classified information in their heads that risking those heads unnecessarily was increasingly avoided. It had been three months since their last mission, and that had been tame by comparison with bygone years. It was obvious that it was nearly over, and Napoleon had laid his work plans accordingly. He wouldn't miss Section II, he told himself. Increasingly he found himself viewing field assignments as irritating interruptions of his current work, his real work. No, he wasn't sorry it was over, but it had been a shock all the same.
Fieldwork was a game for the young. He recognized the thought as one of an older man, a man no longer convinced of his own immortality, a man with a lot to lose.
Illya. He looked again at his former partner, still in perfect step with him. Illya and he... it could happen now. Finally, after all the years of covert glances, speculation and denial, it could happen. He and Illya could turn to one another, in this admittedly non idyllic environment, and say... what?"
"Fred!" Illya shouted it and a large black dog came bounding through the tall grass towards them. Napoleon groaned. He had, temporarily, forgotten the blasted dog. Illya was house-sitting for a friend this weekend, which was the other reason they weren't against one of Napoleon's cherished backdrops, and the leaping, panting, hairy beast came with the house. The dog was sitting in front of them now, and Napoleon could have sworn it was grinning. "Drop it," Illya commanded and Napoleon took a closer look at what was between those formidable white teeth. He blinked, and looked again.
"It's a turtle!"
"Well, open his mouth and I'll get it out."
"How about you open up his mouth," Napoleon suggested, "and I'll get it out. Before he crushes it." And, when Illya gave him an exasperated look, he went on. "You're the one who fed him this morning. He likes you. I think the jury's still out on me."
With an expression of martyrdom Illya grasped the dog's jaws firmly in both hands and pulled them apart. Napoleon slid the saliva covered box turtle out and hurried over to the fence. As carefully as possible he laid the turtle on the other side, in the shade, and went back to Illya, wiping his hands on his pants as he did so.
Illya was laughing at him, and Napoleon smiled back. There was no sign of Fred. "Maybe if we run," Napoleon offered, "we can lose him before we get back to the house."
"No, we will not try to lose Fred. George would be heartbroken."
"George never heard of kennels? Professional dog sitters?"
"He's afraid Fred might bite them. He's known me since he was a puppy."
"And what about me?"
"You weren't in the equation. I didn't know you'd want to come along."
"Well, do you mind?"
"No." Illya gave him a quick sideways look and smile. Napoleon's knees felt weak, and he had to concentrate on his next few steps. "I'm glad. I... it feels so strange, not being a field agent anymore, even though I've been expecting it. We're not even a team anymore. I'm not your partner. It just... I didn't think I'd feel this way. I thought I'd be relieved."
"I thought I'd be just relieved. Not all these other things too."
"Illya." So this was the place after all. This field, with a chain link fence at one end and battered soccer nets at the other, was where it would happen. "I was thinking. I mean, I was hoping that you... that we..." he was chagrined. This wasn't how it was supposed to come out. It was supposed to be smooth and skillful, managing at the same time to remind Illya of all those years past, all those years together, and to suggest a future full of joy. Instead here he was stuttering like a schoolboy, and all because the sun was striking gold and red sparks off Illya's hair, because the sky above them was no bluer than his eyes, and because those eyes were fixed on Napoleon now with a sweet gravity that rendered him incoherent. He realized that he had stopped talking and was just staring at Illya, and was mortified further. His face felt hot and he forced himself to look away.
"I just mean," he said, forcing the words out because the die was cast, he couldn't stop now. "I just mean that we don't have to stop being partners. We... we could be partners still. Partners forever." There. He exhaled with relief. He'd gotten it out. Now it was Illya's turn. What would he say?
Illya looked up at him and, despite having resolved that he would do nothing physical until Illya said yes, because he didn't want it to look as though he were trying to sway Illya that way, despite that Napoleon reached out and touched his face with shaking hands. He touched Illya because he couldn't not touch him, because the very planes of Illya's jaw, his cheekbones, his chin, spoke to him, called to him. Illya's mouth against his thumb was soft, so soft, and it curved upward under his touch. Illya closed his eyes.
It was an invitation and he accepted it, leaning in, kissing Illya full on the lips.
They felt softer still under his own, soft, and warm, and sweet. He was drowning in that sweetness. He closed his arms around Illya, holding Illya hard against him because he was drowning and needed something solid to cling to. Illya was clinging to him too now, arms around his neck, body arched against his, hard and taut and perfect. It was perfect. He kissed Illya in that scrubby field and Illya kissed him back, and Napoleon knew that their partnership was not ending at all. It was only beginning.
An unexpected and very hard blow knocked them sideways, off their feet and they fell in a tangle of arms and legs. Napoleon went for his gun but it wasn't there. He was no longer supposed to carry it "indiscriminately" Davenport had said, so Napoleon had left it in the house today. He had thought that surely there was no danger in the deserted athletic field behind George Piper's suburban backyard.
But now he was being assaulted, buffeted about the head and shoulders and then his face was bathed in wet hot stinking—and was that Illya's voice he heard? Laughing? Laughing and scolding, but not very effectively.
"Fred! Fred, off! Off I said!" Then Illya was dragging the beast away by the collar and Napoleon sat up, wiping dog drool off his face with his shirt. He looked up at Illya, who was struggling to clip the leash back onto Fred's collar but who was rendered nearly helpless with laughter. When his eyes met Napoleon's he said, "Well, the jury is in. He likes you." Then, at whatever he saw in Napoleon's face he lost the battle with the collar, dropped the leash, sat down on the ground and had his laugh out. Napoleon laughed too, sitting beside him and still scrubbing at his face with the shirt. Fred barked and leaped around them, then ran towards the house. They could see him in the distance, sitting by the back door, looking over his shoulder at them as if asking what the delay was.
Joy rose in Napoleon's heart, a palpable thing which took his breath and closed his throat so he couldn't have spoken if his life had depended on it. Here he was, sitting in the dirt, dog slobber on his face and his good suit, and he was so happy he couldn't think straight. He got up, brushing himself off. He followed Illya back to the house, watching his ass under those tight jeans. That kiss had said everything, and he hadn't been smooth after all. He had only shown Illya how he felt, what he wanted, and Illya had come into his arms. Into his life.
Back inside Illya fed Fred and shut him in the basement. George had warned them of dire consequences if they let him get dog hair on the good couch, or chew the living room rug. They took turns washing their hands at the kitchen sink, then Napoleon opened the refrigerator, hoping for something cold to drink. They stared at the empty interior and Napoleon could almost feel Illya's dismay.
"There—there's nothing to eat!" Illya sputtered. "Napoleon, do you see that? He didn't leave us anything to eat!"
"Sure didn't," Napoleon said, looking first into the freezer, then into the cupboards. Only cans and condiments remained. "We'll have to go to the store."
"Well, I suppose so." They stood and faced one another. "I suppose we should get used to it."
"Aren't you going to move in with me now? I thought... I mean, we said partners forever, and that kiss..." hunger flared in him at the memory, a dark animal hunger. He looked Illya up and down, and it was like letting forbidden things out of their cage. All these years he had banked his feelings for Illya, hidden them away, not wanting him to know, not wanting their enemies to know. But now—now he could let them fly free. He wanted Illya urgently. He always had. Now, having tasted Illya's mouth, felt their bodies moving as one, he wanted him even more. He reached for Illya, took him by the upper arms, pulled him in again.
There was a moment of resistance, a stiffening, and Napoleon released him. "What?" he said, and his voice was hoarse. He cleared his throat and tried again. "What is it?"
"What makes you assume it's me moving in with you? I have a nice apartment. We could live there. Why do I have to be the one to pack everything and move?"
"Um...because I have easily five times the space you do? Not to mention living in a Security One building. Now I'll sleep at night instead of worrying about you in that unsecured fourth floor walk up. But if... if you really don't want to, we could do something else. We could find a new apartment. We could buy a house. Do you like this sort of thing?" He waved his arm, indicating George Piper's tidy little home, the quiet street outside. "We'll start looking tomorrow. Whatever you want."
"Whatever I want?"
"Yes. Illya, all I want in the whole world is to make you happy. I'll be—I'll be wrapped around your little finger. You have no idea."
"No. I will be so good to you... and good for you too. You know I am."
"And you are good for me. You're the warmth of my humanity. You're... you are everything to me. I've waited a lifetime to tell you so. A lifetime, for this moment. I couldn't speak before. It would have been dangerous and unethical. So I waited. But now, the waiting is over."
"Yes. And your apartment will be fine. I was just... I love you, Napoleon. I never said it before, for all the reasons you've just mentioned and a few of my own, but it's been true from the very beginning. From the very beginning, I've loved you."
Napoleon couldn't believe he hadn't said it first. In every one of his scripts, he said I love you first. But with all the talking he had done, all the things he had said, he'd somehow missed that one. So Illya had said it first. Napoleon supposed the script wasn't important. Illya had said he loved him. Illya loved him. Illya loved him, Napoleon Solo, with all his faults and conceits and arrogance. Illya knew him down to his core, and Illya loved him. "I love you too," he said at last and saw Illya's eyes change, as if reflecting the passion and the tenderness he knew were in his own. He gathered Illya in, because the next step was obvious, so he gathered Illya in and kissed him again.
Illya's stomach rumbled. It startled both of them, and then it happened again and first Napoleon, then Illya, laughed out loud. They laughed together as they had before, leaning against one another, and then they stepped apart. Napoleon picked up the car keys and they went out the door, Illya reading aloud from the directions George had left magneted to the refrigerator.
The supermarket was enormous and both of them, accustomed to shopping in Manhattan, were taken aback by the size and selection. But then each grabbed a cart, looked at the other, and colored.
It was ridiculous standing here red faced with these two shopping carts. They had shopped together before, many times, in preparation for this stakeout or that, one extended undercover operation or the other. But this time—this time was different. Napoleon felt paralyzed by that difference, and by all the ramifications of it. Then Illya smiled at him, and the sweetness of his kisses was in his smile. He abandoned his cart and walked on, towards the produce department. Napoleon followed and watched him select apples, bananas and grapes. Napoleon rallied then and added mushrooms, peppers and onions before going to the meat counter and choosing two prime steaks. Illya eyed the additions, then smiled again. "That looks promising," he said and Napoleon smiled too. They smiled at one another for another moment, then continued along the aisles.
Joy had surprised him again. Napoleon thought about that, watching Illya shop. This simple act, just one in what would be a lifetime of such simple acts, brought joy. When Illya had tossed two cans of tomato soup into the cart, and gone to inspect the frozen foods department Napoleon bought all the ingredients for ice cream sundaes. He had seen Illya eat them before, and wanted to watch him eat one again tonight before he... before they... he hurried to find his partner. Illya looked at the ice cream and cherries, the whipped cream and fudge sauce, and willingly dropped his magazine. At the check out counter he said something pleasant to the cashier, and she looked them up and down.
"You're not from around here, are you?" she said to Illya, who admitted the fact. "In town for the fair?"
"The fair?" Illya shook his head. "No, I don't know anything about a fair."
"The County Fair is down the road. This weekend through next. You might want to check it out." She scanned the ice cream. "You think this is good, you try the hand churned ice cream at the fair."
"Really," Illya said and he looked more interested now. "There's food?"
"All kinds of food—hot dogs and barbeque, pizza and cotton candy and..." she laughed at Illya, who laughed with her. Napoleon paid the bill and they carried their purchases outside.
"Do you really want to go to a county fair?" he asked, while they put their groceries away. "Because if so, there's no point in making dinner. We'll just eat there. I can grill tomorrow night."
"You want to go too, so don't put it off on me."
"It's corny as hell," Napoleon admitted. Illya had turned from the freezer and was looking at him with an expression of deep affection which Napoleon recognized. He had seen it before, and it always meant that Illya was both amused and touched by something he had seen in Napoleon's face or eyes, or heard in his voice, if only for a moment. Napoleon was not always sure what elicited that look, but it never failed to move him. We touch each other, he thought as he put both arms around Illya, resting them on his shoulders, still smiling directly into those blue eyes. When Illya smiled back he couldn't resist it so he kissed him, kissed his smile. It was brief, then done, but there was an intimacy about it that spoke of all those past years, and the future ones too. "But you're right. I want to go. I want us to go together."
"It won't be for the first time, after all. Remember with Greene and Hawkins—"
"I remember. But that was more like an obstacle course in the dark, with people shooting at us. Not the same thing at all. Tonight will be for us. Just for us. We'll go and we'll have a good time together, as if we were any two people. Just... just a pair of civilians in the crowd."
"Just a pair of civilians carrying handguns?"
"Well, a pair of cautious civilians. And then we'll come back and we'll make love." He was smooth after all, no more stumbling, no hesitation. He looked into Illya's face, into that well beloved face, and laid it out. "We'll make love to each other all night long, and when we wake up tomorrow a new life will lie ahead of us. A new life, together."
"Together," Illya said, and that look was back. He held out his hands and Napoleon took them. They kissed again, only their hands and their mouths touching. "It's like falling," Illya whispered when they were finished. "Like falling, and falling..."
"Falling in love," Napoleon said, and Illya looked at him.
"Falling in love," he echoed. "Yes. I should recognize the feeling," and he laughed a little. "I've been falling in love with you since I met you."
"Illya." He pulled Illya in, hard, another enveloping embrace and Illya melted against him until it was impossible to tell where one ended and the other began. Napoleon groaned. "Maybe we should skip this fair."
"But I really need to eat." As if in confirmation his stomach growled again, and again they laughed. They were still chuckling when they got into the car and drove towards the fair.
Napoleon hadn't expected the rock music. If he'd thought about music at all, which he hadn't, he would have predicted some mix of country and burlesque. But loud rock and roll poured from every ride along the midway, and they had to walk very close together to converse. He looked at Illya, who was watching the carnies steal from the civilians with an expression Napoleon couldn't read. Napoleon touched his arm, and Illya looked at him.
"Are you having fun?"
Illya laughed, and it was such an infectious sound that Napoleon laughed with him. "Yes. But I'm hungry."
"After the pizza and the ribs and the blooming onion?"
"You don't have to say it like that."
"And the corn dog and the popcorn?"
"Yes, I am. I am still hungry. You might as well get used to it, Napoleon. It's a good thing you have all that money."
"We. We have all that money."
"We," Illya echoed and once again Napoleon couldn't tell what he was thinking. Then he sent Napoleon a sideways look slanting up through his lashes and Napoleon had to grind his teeth and clench his fists to keep from reaching for him on the spot. That would never do. Illya stopped and faced him. "Is it really going to be like that for us now? Is that what you want?"
"Yes. Absolutely." And if he'd ever expected to be making these vows, a crowded noisy county fair would not have been his predicted background. Again. Funny how life never would follow scripts. It was like a lot of missions that way. He smiled at Illya. At least for this particular mission, he knew his partner. He became aware that Illya was looking at him very closely, staring directly into his eyes in the disconcerting way he had that always made Napoleon feel naked before him. Naked in a way Illya never was. Illya's guard never came down, and that in itself said all that was needed about his life. It made Napoleon feel very protective towards him, and very gentle, and that was what he laid bare for Illya to see. Illya looked startled, then he looked away.
"Oh," he said finally.
"Is this all right with you?"
"Yes." And they walked on in silence.
They looked at everything. They looked at horses and chickens, giant pumpkins and wooden statues made by a chainsaw. They enjoyed everything they saw, and everything they saw meant nothing. It was the being together that mattered. It was seeing the other against whatever setting they were in that made that setting sing with joy. It was dizzying and a little frightening. With all this new intensity of feeling, what would—what could the sex possibly be like? When just feeling Illya's arm brush his own as they stood in line for something called funnel cake made his knees weak, made his throat close up again so he couldn't order when it was finally their turn, and Illya had to do it for him.
He told himself that was all right. It was all right, too, that he was frankly nervous about the sex in a way he hadn't been since he was fifteen. It was all right that for once he had no clear mental picture of the way things would go. It was all right that Napoleon Solo had never been with a man in this intimate way before, that Napoleon Solo was inexperienced and uncertain. All of that was all right because it was Illya, and he trusted Illya.
But what would it be like? He couldn't stop his mind from picking at it, because for the upcoming night he had no script. Should he follow his usual pattern and romance Illya out of his clothes and into the bedroom? Take control, take charge, the way he always did? Or would that be wrong, offensive even? But then how...
"Cotton candy," Illya said and they stopped at yet another booth, got into yet another line. Napoleon stole a sideways look at him and saw that he was digging into his pants pocket for money.
"I'll get it," he said and handed over a five dollar bill. Handed Illya the plastic bag full of multicolored fluff. Thought—damn if I didn't just pay for him, like he was my date, or... is he mad? He stole a sideways look at Illya and Illya was looking at him with that curious tenderness once again.
"It's all right Napoleon," he said gently, and offered him a piece of cotton candy. Napoleon accepted it and they walked on. "I love you, Napoleon," Illya said then, in that same gentle voice.
"I just don't want you to think, or to feel, that I'm pushing things through, taking over. Being the," he snorted a little, "suave bold seducer. It's what I know, it's what I'm used to doing, but I'd never want to... to..."
"Well, make you love me less I suppose. Or not love me at all anymore. Decide this is a terrible mistake and walk away."
There was an odd look on Illya's face and Napoleon peered at him closely, trying to decipher it. Then Illya smiled.
"I love you, Napoleon," he said again. "That's not something I say lightly. And it's not something I can take back either. I've given you my heart, my... my everything. Everything I have, everything I am. I could never walk away now. It would kill me."
How strange it was, to stand here in this crowd and watch Illya drop all his carefully maintained defenses, leave himself naked after all. For love. Because Illya loved him. Napoleon realized that he was smiling too, that they were standing there smiling at one another, and that all his fears and concerns were fading like the piece of cotton candy he'd had in his mouth only seconds before. They faded and were gone, leaving only the sweetness of what he and Illya would have together. The sweetness on Illya's face. He wanted to touch it, and actually reached out his hand before stopping himself. Illya's smile faded a little.
"We won't have that," he said and looked at a couple walking past them, arms around one another. "We'll never have that. Do you mind? Do you mind giving all of that up?"
"No. Do you?" He realized he didn't really know what Illya was giving up, if anything. Illya was very private, very solitary and Napoleon supposed he was giving that up at least.
"No. I trust you, Napoleon. I don't mind at all." They had stopped at the Ferris wheel and Napoleon looked up at it, stark against the oncoming night. Even as he looked the lights went on, on the Ferris wheel and all over the park, and suddenly the rather tawdry place seemed magical.
"We rode one of those when we were shadowing Richter," Illya said and Napoleon nodded.
"I remember. We were three cars behind him and could hear every word, thanks to the little device you put in that stuffed dog he won."
"Which he then gave away to a little girl before first losing us then shooting at us in the Mirror Maze. I remember thinking that it was rather a waste of the ride having to listen to him boast to his colleagues."
"And now here we are. Are you saying you want to ride again?"
"If you do."
"Why not?" And since neither of them could think of a reason why not, and each of them wanted to please the other, Napoleon handed over his money, paid for them both and groaned aloud. Illya laughed softly.
"Thank you Napoleon," he said primly, and they climbed into the seat. In a moment the attendant secured the bar and they moved upward.
It went slowly at first as the cars were loaded but then they were rotating smoothly, rocking a little, going backwards and up, facing the lot where they'd parked their car, to the top then forwards and down, through the little boarding area and aloft again.
It was very pleasant. Illya's shoulder was touching his and he could watch Illya's profile all he pleased. It was pure and clean against the fading light, and when Illya turned his head to see Napoleon watching him he smiled, and they sat there and smiled at one another some more.
When the ride ended they stayed on by mutual if silent consent. Illya paid the attendant this time and once more they rose into the air. It was very dark by now, and the lights of the fairgrounds were spread out all around them. Nearby was an airport, and a small plane took off as they neared the top again. Briefly it was at their eye level and then it was gone, and they moved down once more.
Lightning flickered in the distance, and a long low grumble of thunder followed. The wheel came to a stop and Napoleon, leaning over and craning his neck, could see that the bottom car was being unloaded. The wind had picked up and the structure swayed. The girl in the car below them screamed.
"It's designed for it," Illya said, leaning over himself to try and calm her. "It's designed to take a lot more wind than this. That storm is still miles away. We'll be fine."
They continued upward, very slowly now, and the lightning and thunder were much closer by the time they passed the top and started down the other side. More people were screaming, and on the ground everyone was running and screaming as rain started falling, great huge drops. Napoleon looked at Illya.
"This wasn't exactly the idea."
"No, I know. Are you ready to leave when we get off?"
"Yes." There was a blinding flash of lightning, a tremendous clap of thunder, and all the lights went out.
The Ferris wheel stopped, and they hung there in utter darkness. In that moment Napoleon was struck by inspiration and he reached out, found Illya's face in the blackness, and pulled him in.
And kissed him. He kissed Illya in that swaying little car, with rain sluicing down on their heads and pooling around their feet, with the wind loud in their ears. They were surrounded by people and could hear them screaming and cursing and exclaiming, but they were as closed off and private as if they were in their own bedroom.
Illya's mouth was rain wet and cold. Napoleon sent his tongue exploring, seeking warmth, and Illya sucked on it. That made Napoleon catch his breath and he twined his tongue around Illya's, drawing it in in its turn. We have it all, he thought dizzily. We're not giving anything up. We have each other, so we have everything.
It seemed too soon when flashlight beams began dancing around them, first spotlighting the screamers and criers, then continuing on to where he and Illya now sat sedately side by side, hands resting on the bar. Shouted assurances reached them, and emergency lights started coming on. There was a great grinding and groaning in the machinery housed under the wheel, and they began moving again.
With their feet finally on solid ground they walked quickly towards the exit. Neither spoke, and Illya didn't even suggest stopping at one of the few open food booths they passed. It was Napoleon who paused at a Greek pastry tent and ordered something, which was placed in a white box and neatly tied up with string. Napoleon tucked it under his suit jacket to protect it from the driving rain, and they hurried to their car.
The heater had barely begun warming the interior when they arrived at George's house, so both were still wet and shivering when they entered. Napoleon went to see about a hot shower, and Illya took Fred out. Stepping carefully into the tub, Napoleon spared a moment to think wistfully of his large stall shower with the padded seats, then he turned on the tap.
George had good water pressure, and the hot steaming spray was very welcome. When Illya entered the bathroom, still shivering, teeth chattering, Napoleon held open the shower curtain for him and Illya stripped and came in, and then there they were. Naked. Alone together, and naked.
Napoleon swallowed. Here it was, then. He and Illya had been naked together before, of course, many times but tonight—tonight was different. He stepped back, and looked Illya over.
Illya was so beautiful. He had always thought so, had always wished—and had always resolutely set aside both the thought and the wish in favor of a sterner duty. But now that duty was ended, and thoughts and wishes could be indulged. He reached for Illya, just as Illya reached for him.
They stood there under the pounding water, locked in an embrace. Illya twisted his arms around Napoleon's waist and put his head on Napoleon's shoulder, and Napoleon hugged him hard. They stood there for a long time before Napoleon finally lowered his arms, and then Illya did too.
They washed separately, standing at opposite ends of the tub, scrubbing and rinsing. When Napoleon had finished shampooing he looked at Illya, who was standing with his back to him, bent over slightly, head directly under the spray, soap flowing from his hair down onto his shoulders, down his back. Napoleon moved up close behind him. He was painfully erect and not even sure when it had happened. It was as if his body was deciding for him after all the years of waiting and thinking and wanting—now, his body said, now. He pressed against Illya, rubbed his cock against Illya's buttocks. Illya stiffened, as if torn between acceptance and resistance and Napoleon reached around him, found his semi erect organ and squeezed it.
He squeezed it again, and again, a regular pulsing rhythm and Illya moaned, pushed against it, fully hard now. He pushed himself into Napoleon's hand and then Napoleon, soap slick and ready, pushed himself inside. Illya rocked back against him, back and forth, Napoleon sliding deeper with every motion until he was fully encased. His squeezing became pumping and they were crying out, voices echoing in the small space.
Napoleon thought he might pass out from ecstasy but he didn't, he just kept pushing and slowing, pumping and squeezing and Illya's flesh around him was hot and strong and oh, so sweet. He groaned aloud and felt himself flowing out into it, flowing into Illya as Illya thrust against him, and they were one in their moving, one in their thrusting, one in their flesh.
He slipped from Illya but didn't move, letting the water wash them clean, pouring over them. At last he reached around Illya, who was slumped against the wall, and turned the water off.
Illya looked good enough to eat, Napoleon thought later. He wore the blue pajamas that Napoleon had given him for his birthday last year, and they matched his eyes precisely. His hair was still wet, drops of water hanging on his eyelashes. Napoleon climbed into bed beside him and kissed the drops away. He was carrying the white cardboard box from the fair and Illya sat up straight, looking expectant. Napoleon opened it carefully, revealing two cookies, crescent shaped and coated with powdered sugar. He lifted one, and held it to Illya's mouth.
Illya bit it and closed his eyes in rapture. "Oh, Napoleon." He took it from Napoleon and looked it over appreciatively. "What is this?"
"Kourabiedes," Napoleon said, and ate some of his own. "Greek wedding cookies."
"Are they." Illya tipped his head to one side and looked at Napoleon speculatively. "Wedding cookies?"
"Why not? And you have powdered sugar on your nose." He leaned in and kissed it off. Illya smiled right into his eyes.
"And you have some on your upper lip," he said, and kissed Napoleon there. Napoleon kissed him back, and they kissed for a moment before returning to their cookies.
They ate them in slow, nibbling bites, pausing frequently to kiss some more. When they had finished eating both their mouths were powdery white and sticky, and when they kissed again each could taste the other through the sweetness.
Napoleon stretched out full length on top of Illya, face to face this time. Illya wrapped his legs high around Napoleon's back, and Napoleon spared a moment to reflect on his flexibility and athleticism and what that would mean, and then there was no thought at all, just flight.
It was pure flight, and they floated back down to earth after it was over, sated and happy. Illya tucked his head into the crook of Napoleon's shoulder and reached for the empty cardboard box. He trailed one finger around in the powdery sugar that was left there, then traced the shape of Napoleon's lips. Napoleon bit the finger, very lightly, before brushing it aside to move in and kiss Illya once more. He kissed Illya for all the years that had gone before, and for the joy of the present moment. He kissed him for the years to come too, and for the love that illumined all.