"I can't believe this! God damn, son of a bitch..."
Illya glanced over his shoulder at his lover, surprised at the sheer disgust and anger in Napoleon's voice. He'd been making couscous for the past hour, pretty much lost in his own thoughts. Napoleon had a month's worth of paperwork spread over the table and the fingers of one hand twisted in his hair. The other hand was holding a sheaf of papers.
It wasn't often that Illya saw or heard Napoleon that frustrated. He was usually the easy going one and more able to roll with the punches than anyone else he knew.
"Napoleon, what's wrong?"
"They denied me my business license." Napoleon threw the paper down onto the table. "What the hell am I supposed to do with all the wine I've already bought?"
"What?" Illya shook the last clinging bits of pasta from his fingers and wiped his hands off on a dish towel. "Let me see that. As hungry as Jackson is for revenue, I can't believe they'd refuse anyone anything." He slid into the chair across from Napoleon and dug a pair of glasses out of the mounds of paper on the table.
"I've done everything they've asked, gotten insurance, inspected, dotted the 'i's' and crossed all the 't's'."
Napoleon was up and moving now, pacing the kitchen, remembering at the last minute to veer to avoid a collision with the speed rack Illya had brought over from Taste's kitchen. It was a rolling unit that held a number of sheet pans. Illya had filled all but one with the drying pasta. Once he finished this last batch, he'd start cooking it. But now, there was something more important on his mind.
"Tell you what... do you have another one of these applications?"
"Bring me one and let me fill it out."
"Why? What difference can you make?"
"Napoleon, you forget; I'm already a business owner here. I remember trying to get our operating license and all the hoops they made us jump through. The only thing that saved us was Jesus was already a business owner. He took our application, filled it out and it was approved and filed within a week."
"Who knows? It's a small community and they have a way of doing things here." Illya stood and caught Napoleon as he strode past, drawing him into an embrace. Napoleon resisted initially, but when it became apparent he'd either have to break loose or submit, he chose the latter and relaxed.
"I'm just not used to..."
"Not getting your own way?" Illya murmured, sliding his hands up Napoleon's back.
"I didn't say that."
"You rich American city folk are all alike." Illya's eyelids lowered and he licked his lips with the tip of his tongue, something he knew made Napoleon crazy. "You swoop in ready to take advantage of us poor hill folks."
"You're hardly poor or a hillbilly, Illya." Napoleon's eyes fastened upon Illya's lips, his voice dropping. Illya smiled and repeated the action, leaving his mouth open just a bit. "You're one of the town's leading businessmen."
"Perhaps," Illya whispered and leaned just a fraction closer. "Or perhaps I just know how to play the game..."
"I like playing games," Napoleon murmured back, his lips nearly touching Illya's.
"I like the games you play." Illya closed the gap, unwilling to wait any longer. There was nothing hesitant about the kiss. It was hungry; it was passionate; it was needful. He plunged his tongue into Napoleon's mouth, determined to leave no part untasted. He kissed as if they had been without sex for weeks or years, not just hours, until they were both panting from exertion and desire.
"I'm going to take you right here...," Napoleon murmured, reaching for the hem of Illya's tee shirt.
"No, the bed, properly, or nowhere," Illya argued, nipping Napoleon's bottom lip. He leaned forward to whisper. "I want you in me. I want to feel you coming in me."
Napoleon groaned and pulled away, grabbing Illya's hand and dragging him from the room. Illya trailed behind happily enough now that his ploy had worked. At least for the time being, Napoleon's mind was off the wine shop and back on him, where it belonged.
Illya was beginning to wonder at his own cleverness as he walked gingerly down the stairs. After two hours of no holds barred sex, he was definitely feeling the burn... in fact he felt it every time he took a step. At least he cooked standing up or he would have been in a world of hurt... no, strike that, was in a world of hurt. But it had been worth it. He'd left Napoleon happily dozing on their bed, a place he wished he could be, but with a kitchen full of couscous and a restaurant to open, he didn't have that option. It surprised him when he stepped into the small kitchen and saw the rack gone. Then he saw the note stuck on the refrigerator door with a piece of magnetic plastic sushi. The picture was lurid and it made him grin. Trust Matt to pay them a visit while they were 'occupied.' He'd be getting a ration from his business partner and co-chef tonight.
With no couscous to deal with, Illya stopped by the table and glanced down at the paperwork he'd interrupted. Napoleon had been trying to get his wine shop open for a month now, only to be stymied by first one city official and then another. Napoleon hadn't learned how things worked yet. He'd not even been here quite a year and was still viewed by some as an outsider. By wanting to start a business, Napoleon was held under even closer scrutiny.
Illya smiled, thinking back to when he and Matt had arrived. Jackson was so hungry for anything at that point, they would have practically paid for them to open the restaurant. Even with that, it had been a battle. Illya picked up the rejected application and reached for his chef's jacket. Sometimes, even the strongest and most committed men needed a little help.
Napoleon stretched and rolled over, even though he knew Illya was already gone. The room had grown dark and he wasn't surprised that the afternoon had slipped into early evening. Their lovemaking bout had taken him completely unaware, even though he knew Illya had been playing him, pulling his focus away from the wine shop. Illya knew all of Napoleon's weak points and Illya was his weakest. Making love to the Russian was Napoleon's greatest joy. He loved Illya's strength, his eagerness as well as his willingness to wait. He would let Napoleon take control, but he was just as likely to snatch it back at the last moment. It made every bout fresh and exciting.
Napoleon laced his fingers behind his head and stared up at the ceiling. Not even here a year and he couldn't imagine being any other place or doing anything else. He loved his life right down to the gold band he wore on his ring finger. It felt wonderful being married, something he hadn't expected. He didn't even mind almost being fifty... well, he did mind, but he had Illya and that made it all easier.
Sighing, he sat up and reached for his robe. The bathroom was still damp and Napoleon shook his head in wonder. It had been a long time since he'd slept through one of Illya's showers. Usually, all he had to do was hear the hiss of the shower starting and he had a hard on. Illya was probably at a loss for what to do having the entire shower stall to himself. Napoleon grinned and opted for the tub instead. He turned on the tap and rapidly headed downstairs for a glass of wine.
As he reached for the refrigerator door, he saw the drawing and started to chuckle. Then he saw 'over' printed on the bottom in Illya's familiar script. The drawing on the back was much more explicit and Napoleon felt his cheeks burning slightly. Who would think that a man his age could still blush? That Russian dog....
He lounged in the tub for far too long and was feeling very decadent and soothed when he heard a voice shout from downstairs.
"Hey, Mr. S! I have a delivery for you!" He recognized Rocky's voice and he hurriedly climbed from the tub, toweling off as he moved into the bedroom and pulled on a pair of sweats. He walked rapidly down the stairs even as Rocky was setting the small dining room table.
"How are you this evening, Rocky, my boy?" Napoleon took a deep appreciative breath and smiled. "Smells great!"
"Least we can do after the mood you put Chef in," Rocky said, holding his chair out.
"What do you mean?"
"When was the last time you heard Chef singing when he cooked?"
"Well, humming mostly, but the man is definitely in a happy place." Rocky draped a napkin over Napoleon's lap and uncovered the nearest dish. "To start, a dozen oysters on a half shell. Not going to venture a guess at the message being sent with that."
"He just knows I like oysters."
"Uh huh, and to keep up your strength, there's a nice spinach salad with a light vinaigrette to follow. Your entrée is Medallions of Veal with a Roquefort crust, Anna potatoes, and turnips." Rocky exposed the dish for just a moment. "And for dessert, he said he was repaying a favor and sent you a trio of Napoleons, one chocolate créme, another grand mariner créme and the last a luscious and not to be missed Amaretto créme."
"Rocky, how am I supposed to eat all this?"
"Matt asked Chef the same thing and Chef said something very naughty... I'll be back to pick up the dishes." As Rocky moved away from the table, two hopeful cats took his place and Napoleon could hear the waiter singing, Gimme, gimme, gimme a man after midnight. Won't somebody help me chase the shadows away? Gimme, gimme, gimme a man after midnight. Take me through the darkness to the break of the day. And Napoleon couldn't help but smile. In fact, he felt so magnanimous he even shared his oysters.
After dinner, he again ventured into the kitchen and slowly approached the kitchen table, reluctant to break his good mood, but driven none the less. Try as he might, he couldn't find the rejected application anywhere. That was very odd, but after a half hour search, he finally surrendered to the fact that it was either lost, probable, eaten, also possible or stolen by some twisted burglar... Like anyone would ever break into their house.
With that missing, he had the option of filling it out again or finding something better to do with his time. He opened some wine and began to cut up some fruit and cheese for Illya. For some reason, the man always seemed to be hungry. At least he didn't have to worry about him being pregnant. For some reason, the thought of Illya eight months along made him collapse into a series of giggles. Manly giggles, of course, but giggles none the less. What had started as such a bad afternoon had mellowed into a very pleasant evening and to Napoleon's way of thinking, there was only one thing that would make it perfect. He carried the tray, along with some wine and water up to the bedroom and prepared his attack.
Illya stepped into the living room and looked around. The lights were all out, except for one that Napoleon habitually left on when he didn't wait up for Illya. It was always hard for him to unwind after a night in the kitchen and frequently Illya didn't head for bed for a couple of hours after getting in. It took him that long to calm down... unless there was something to help him calm down waiting for him upstairs. He toed off his shoes and sighed, flexing first one and then the other foot.
Only one way to find out and that was to make the long march upstairs. His lower back and his feet ached, but that was pretty much par for the course these days. Add that to their afternoon bout and all Illya wanted to think about was taking a handful of aspirin and falling in bed.
As he approached the bedroom, he heard the music playing softly, Coltrane it sounded like. Illya made a face. Napoleon didn't usually listen to jazz if given a choice. That was... interesting.
He paused by the door and glanced into their bedroom. The bed was turned down with clean white sheets practically glowing in the low lamp light. Illya grinned; Napoleon knew how much he loved sleeping on clean sheets.
Absent mindedly he unbuttoned his chef's jacket with one hand and slid it off. He tossed it in the general direction of his work clothes hamper and just stood there, taking deep breaths and letting himself shift gears.
He sensed Napoleon's presence a good five seconds before those strong capable arms slid around his waist and held him close. Napoleon rubbed his cheek against Illya's sweat damp blond hair and sighed. "Do you know how good you smell?"
"You have got to be joking." Illya grabbed a handful of his tee shirt, which clung to him like a clammy second skin, and took a sniff. "From where I'm standing, it's doesn't smell that much like Aroma of the Gods."
"Then it's a good thing you're not me. I smell hard work, passion, and drive. I smell love and patience and selflessness."
"Huh, all I smell is sweat and six hours worth of cooking." Illya's breath caught as Napoleon pulled the hem of his tee shirt from the waistband of his chef pants. "As much as I appreciate the offer, Napoleon, I really do not think that I am up for much of anything tonight. This afternoon..."
"... was wonderful." Napoleon pulled the tee shirt loose and over Illya's head. "And now I'm asking you to trust me. I won't make you do anything that you don't want to." He dropped the shirt and let his hands travel up his lover's body until each hand rested on one of Illya's nipples, squeezing them gently.
"That's the trouble." Illya sighed, leaning his head back again. "Before you, I felt nothing. I looked upon the world, I moved through it, but I was never a part of it. Then you came into my life and all that changed. You made my heart ache; I wanted you so badly that I would gladly do anything you asked."
"And yet you never said a word." Napoleon returned to nuzzling his hair.
Illya turned his head so that his lips were a fraction of an inch from Napoleon's. "It wasn't mine to say."
"Stretch out on the bed for me... face down, please." Napoleon pulled away and gave Illya a gentle push. Obligingly, Illya walked over and flopped down on the bed.
Whatever misgivings Illya had, he kept them to himself. He was still wearing his pants and socks, no protection what so ever should Napoleon decide on a rear attack... as it were. Still it just felt so good to stretch out on the bed, his head cradled on his arms, the coolness of the sheet pressing against his skin.
Then he gasped at the biting cold liquid splashed on his shoulders, a half-remembered sensation from days past. His skin immediately warmed to Napoleon's touch and Illya smiled as his lover's hands began to knead his shoulder muscles.
"I thought you could probably use a good rub down. I'm guessing it's been awhile since you've had a proper one."
"Awhile," Illya admitted, sucking in his breath as alcohol hit his skin again. Almost instantly, Napoleon's hands followed, massaging, working knots from tight muscles. For a long time, there was merely the sound of Illya's grunts and sighs as Napoleon moved down his back.
"Lift up for me," Napoleon murmured and Illya arched, allowing his pants to be slid down and off. "I've always wondered when you started going commando, old friend." He peeled each sock off in turn.
"About the same time they told me I was going to spend the rest of my working career wearing hideously checkered pants. Call it my spit-in-their-eye moment. They could make me wear the pants; they couldn't control what I wore under them."
"Always a rebel." Napoleon dumped a bit of alcohol in his hands, rubbing them together and began to work the back of Illya's legs down to his toes, paying careful attention to each foot in turn while Illya moaned in pleasure. "If the window was open and a person was passing by, they'd think you were either dying or coming."
"A bit of both, I think." Illya admitted.
Napoleon ran his hands up Illya's leg and stopped to rest them upon Illya's ass, wincing at the bruises that had formed there. "I didn't mean to take you so hard this afternoon."
"I'm not complaining, Napoleon, just asking for a momentary lull in that particular form of intercourse."
Illya rolled over and smirked at his partner. His erection was standing tall and proud. Napoleon smiled and leaned in to kiss the tip of it before moving back down to the bottom of the bed and Illya's feet. He flexed each arch carefully, lingering as he slowly reduced the Russian to a pool of mostly relaxed jelly.
Napoleon sat back, shrugged off his robe and Illya smiled appreciatively. "I never get tired of looking at you," he admitted, reaching for the brunet, but Napoleon caught his hands and redirected them to the headboard.
"Keep your hands there please."
"Again, just trust me..."
After a moment, Illya nodded and groaned as Napoleon bent to address the one part of Illya's anatomy that had so far been ignored. He first blew gently upon the tip, then dipped in to lick delicately at the pre-seminal fluid, the way a cat would lick cream. Then he took the glans in, mouthing it, using just the barest amount of teeth to rake against the sensitive skin.
Within a matter of minutes, Napoleon had him babbling in nearly incomprehensible Russian, nonsense words of endearment, intermixed with filthy demands. Every few seconds, Napoleon would stop as if to check, as if making sure Illya was holding true to his part of the bargain.
Just when Illya thought he could hold back no longer, Napoleon sat back after giving the tip one last lingering kiss, positioned himself and Illya groaned as he slid into Napoleon's body. The tightness and sheer heat made him whimper and thrash, desperate to reach out for his partner, to pull him down onto him. Instead he brought his knees up, offering Napoleon support and merely tightened his grip.
He watched Napoleon's face as it shifted from the pain of penetration to gradual acceptance of Illya's penis. Only then did Napoleon start to sway back and forth, from side to side. He dropped one hand down onto his own straining erection and began to pump it in time with his movement. The other hand, he used to reach behind him, searching until those nimble fingers found Illya's testicles. He squeezed them gently and Illya surrendered to mindless groaning.
Suddenly, he gasped and arched off the bed. He ejaculated and sobbed out Napoleon's name even while his partner was spattering his chest with his semen and crying out to God.
Boneless, Napoleon eased himself down and Illya whimpered as he felt himself slipping out of Napoleon's body. Already the world seemed a bit colder and crueler than it had been a moment earlier. Napoleon stretched out, his hand rubbing the thick ropy semen into Illya's stomach.
"Can I let go of the headboard now?" Illya asked, his voice husky.
"I think that's a definite yes." Napoleon rolled off him and walked to the bathroom, returning with a warm damp washcloth. He cleaned Illya and then himself and set the cloth aside. "We may be needing that in awhile."
"A long while," Illya muttered, moving to kiss Napoleon. "That was wonderful, my love, but I have to get some sleep. I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow."
"I know." Napoleon settled down beside him and then propped himself up on his elbows. "By the way, you didn't happen to see that application did you?"
"Application?' Illya's voice was now sleepy and muffled as he buried his face into the pillows.
"My business license application?"
"Check the pockets of my ugly checkered pants."
Frowning, Napoleon rose from the bed yet again and retrieved Illya's pants. In one of the many pockets, he found a familiar square of paper. "What were you doing with this?"
"Lending a helping hand, as it were." Illya rolled over so he could watch Napoleon's reaction.
Napoleon unfolded the paper and saw that the rejected stamp had been scratched out and approved had been hand written over it. The initials that followed it were those of the mayor's.
"What did you do?"
"I was merely looking out for the future of Jackson... and for my own. You can open your shop any time you're ready." Illya held open his arms and waited for Napoleon to nestle down beside him and kiss him.
"That's the thing about being one of the town's leading businessemen, Napoleon. I usually get what I ask for, especially if I offer to make something special for the mayor the next time he comes in and comp him."
"Last time I checked. The way I look at it, I used to do a host of much greater evils all in the name of UNCLE, all in the name of good. This I did in the name of love." He meant to say more, but Napoleon's mouth silenced him. "Now all that's left is for you to think of a good name."
"I want something strong, something that goes with Taste."
"Boring..." He yawned and reached out to snap off the light. "I think I'll take a hint from Scarlet O'Hara and worry about it tomorrow." He snuggled down into the nest of blankets and sheets and pulled Illya to him. "Love you. What would I do without you?"
"Love you back and you would languish, but carry on, because that's what you do, Napoleon." Illya's voice was nearly gone now... ready to surrender to sleep, content that his world, such as it was, was safe, secure, and sound for at least a little while longer.
"Vinea," Napoleon said and opened his eyes. He couldn't even remember falling asleep and yet a quick check to the bedside clock assured him that time had indeed passed. Yellow light was creeping around the edges of the black-out curtain and he could hear birds chirping. He still wasn't used to that, hearing something other than the rumble of traffic. Even from his penthouse apartment back in New York, the thrum had been part of everyday background noise. Here, there were birds, an occasional rooster crowing, once in awhile the sound of a vehicle... and his partner's soft breathing.
Napoleon glanced over at Illya and smiled. Part of him ached to reach out for the man to pull him close and make tender love to him. Another part of him, one lower and toward his back ached even more, telling him that would probably be a pursuit best left for later in the day. Right now, Illya needed sleep more than sex. His sleep was so deep that he looked more dead than alive; only the regular rise and fall of his chest assured Napoleon that all was well.
He sat up and dropped his legs over the edge of the bed. That was when he realized the tray of fruit and cheese was nearly empty. Apparently, Illya wasn't the only one who slept the Sleep of the Dead last night. Napoleon had never even woken up, but Illya apparently had.
Napoleon cleaned up, leaving his shower to later in the morning, and went downstairs whistling quietly. The day outside looked glorious. He couldn't believe how mild the weather was. Nothing like back east. He started the coffee and opened the door, breathing the cool morning air deeply.
Almost immediately, he was the focus of two very noisy, very hungry cats. With dry food constantly at their disposal, Napoleon couldn't help but wonder if it was more an exercise on their part to see how well trained he was. He gave them some moist food, fresh water, and then helped himself to a large cup of coffee.
He carried it to the long table that was set up in their courtyard and settled at a sunny corner of it. Sipping the coffee and feeling the brilliant sun on his face, Napoleon couldn't help but reflect back upon the past year. He'd spent last Spring hating the slush, the biting wind, the false Spring days as New York struggled from one season to the next. He'd moved from one task to the next with a thinly veiled sense of hostility and an air of desperation. He hated who he was and he wished for one last chance to make right a past wrong.
Then he felt lips pressed to his temple and smiled. And for one reason or another, God had chosen that moment to actually listen.
"Morning." Illya settled beside him, took his coffee cup from his hand to drink deeply from it and then passed it back.
"Gee, thanks partner." Napoleon stared in at the inch or so of coffee that remained.
Illya turned his face to the sun and for a moment, it was easy for Napoleon to see past the man Illya had become and back to an earlier day, to when they had both been so young. It had been a time full of danger and adventure and when sitting still for a moment seemed a fairy tale and for someone other than themselves. They moved from fight to fight, gun battle to gun battle and yearned for the next one. They bled, they screamed, they pleaded for death and yet they both lived.
"Penny for your thoughts," Illya murmured as he stretched and Napoleon watched muscles flex beneath the thin tee shirt Illya had donned along with his God forsaken jog pants. Par for the course, Illya was barefoot.
"Just thinking how lucky I am, we are." Napoleon slipped an arm around Illya's shoulders, smiling at the familiar strength he felt. "We both made it out alive, partner."
"I'm still not sure, give me another few minutes for the aspirin to kick in and I'll let you know whether I lived through last night or not."
"I meant from UNCLE."
"Oh, well, since we are both sitting here, then yes, apparently, we did make it out alive. How is still a bit of a mystery to me though." He held out a hand and Napoleon passed the cup back to him. He emptied it and held it out. "More please."
"Am I your servant?"
"Honor and obey, if I'm remembering correctly." The sun glinted off the wedding ring as Illya held up his hand and waggled his fingers.
"Cuts both ways, you know."
"Okay, I'll be honor, you be obey."
Napoleon chuckled and walked back into the kitchen. As he was pouring the coffee he heard the 'clunk' of the lid to the mail box and knew the morning delivery had arrived. He walked through the living room to retrieve it. Something Illya never seemed to be short of was mail. There were a couple of magazines for him, but more than a few for Illya, along with a handful of regular letters and the usual bills that were attached to running any business.
Napoleon found one that made him frown and he went to the desk for a letter opener. It was from the State of California and should be his liquor license. It was the last thing holding up his new business venture.
Illya was still just enjoying the sun when he heard Napoleon start to swear. "Isn't this where I came in?" he asked a robin, perched on a wisteria branch. The bird regarded him for a moment and flew off.
Illya shook his head. "Coward," he called after the bird and went inside. From the living room, he could hear Napoleon sputtering. Instead of rushing in, Illya poured himself a cup of coffee and took a long drink. It was times like this that he missed smoking; it would have given him an excuse to tarry for a few minutes longer.
He instead took a deep breath and walked into the living room. "Napoleon?"
"They won't sell me a liquor license because I'm not a California resident yet." Napoleon was pacing the living room. Considering how small it was, he was able to cross it in just a few steps.
Illya chuckled. "I forget that you haven't been here always."
"Apparently I haven't lived here long enough! Even though I've been paying state tax for months now." Napoleon shook the paper at him and Illya snatched it from his hand as he passed.
"There's an easy fix for this, put me down as primary operator. Taste already has a license." He read the paper and handed it back to Napoleon. "Once you've passed the year mark, you can re-file, making yourself primary." Napoleon's silence made Illya look up. "What's wrong?"
"Are you determined to be my knight in shining armor this week?" Napoleon was still fuming.
Illya shrugged his shoulders. "If the codpiece fits... If you'd rather wait, it's only a few more months. You can re-file in the summer."
"I don't think so." He stopped before Illya. "Why are you doing this?"
"A trick question? This early in the morning? You are giving me credit for being more awake than I am. Why wouldn't I?" He reached out and touched Napoleon's shoulder. "I believe in you. Always have and I always will."
"I amend my statement. In nearly everything, I believe in you, except when a good looking woman is involved. And then..." Illya trailed off and then resumed. "And then believe me when I say you touch a woman and I'll cut your dick off and feed it to you sauted with onions."
"You're speaking metaphorically, of course."
"You've seen my knife skills. Would you really risk it?" For a moment, there was an uncomfortable silence and then Napoleon slowly shook his head.
"Not in a million years."
Illya nodded solemnly and took his hand. "Come on then. It's getting late and I need someone to wash my back."
"You threaten me and then you want me to shower with you? What kind of crazy place is this?"
Napoleon closed his eyes against the splattering of the water and just let his hands glide over the body before him. He loved showering with Illya, loved the feeling of their soap slicked bodies against each other, the sound they made as they slicked and snapped. Mostly he enjoyed the intimacy of the moment, even more than making love.
Still this morning, Illya's words disturbed him. He knew Illya still struggled to trust him, in spite of their vows, which Napoleon took very seriously. He couldn't wipe the incident from reality, nor was he willing to live with it for the rest of their lives. He moved here, leaving everything he knew behind, married Illya. He'd even marked himself permanently for him, but Illya still worried. For all the changes the Russian had made, there was still one part of him that was a scared little boy terrified of having his heart broken again.
Napoleon couldn't undo time, couldn't make it bend to his will, so he let it build a fire of passion in his belly instead and gave it to Illya, completely and without restraint. He conveyed it with the tenderness of his kisses and the lightness of his touch. He sang it with sighs and moans of pleasure as he and Illya stood, skin to skin with nothing between them but a thin veil of water. He let his touch, strong but gentle, envelope them and keep his love pure and absolute. He couldn't take time backwards, but he could create the next moment and the one following that as they slipped against each other on a beloved path to completion.
For a change, Illya came first, flexing and arching into Napoleon's hand, groaning out a nonsense sound as the water washed away his semen as quickly as it appeared. Napoleon held Illya captive, took a few more strokes and joined his partner in post coital bliss. Still he was reluctant to let them go.
"Have you ever stopped to think of just how many times we've had sex?"
Illya rested his head against Napoleon's shoulder as they both eased back to reality.
"Mmm, think I lost count after that first weekend in Maine."
Napoleon reached for the shampoo and began to sluice water through Illya's hair.
"The weekend in Maine, I'd forgotten about that. I took you twice in every room of that house. Tilt your head back for me."
"Three times in some cases... you forget about that damned broom closet." Illya shut his eyes and smiled as Napoleon massaged the shampoo into his hair.
"Ah, the broom closet." Napoleon brought his still sudsy hand down and cradled Illya's genitals, lathering them. "I love doing this..." He could feel Illya already starting to harden again. He pushed Illya away from him and under the water to rinse the soap from his hair and then pulled him back to whisper. "Take me."
"Are you sure? Last night..."
"Was last night... I want you."
Illya soaped up his hand and slid it down Napoleon's spine, between the cleft of his ass and rested a finger against his sphincter. He started to push in and Napoleon gasped.
"Okay maybe not such a good idea," he hissed as Illya removed the finger.
"Take it from someone who has been in your place many, many times." Illya kissed his cheek and swapped positions, letting the water wash the soap from Napoleon's back.
"That Voice of Authority is annoying, you know."
"You'd rather I used my dick to make my point?"
"Ah... no, I'm just saying..." Napoleon shut off the water and Illya pushed open the shower door.
He walked over to the sink and looked back at Napoleon with a sly expression. "I, on the other hand, don't mind a little pain with my pleasure."
Just as he was about to drive home his point, in a manner of speaking, both men became aware of a knocking on the front door of the house.
"What the hell?" Illya grabbed his tee shirt and pulled it on. Then he tugged on his jeans, hopping from one leg to the other. He glanced out the guest room's door and into the parking lot of Taste and started to laugh. "Napoleon, what is today?"
"What did you have scheduled for Monday?"
"I don't... oh my God, interviews..." Napoleon hurried up to him and looked over his shoulder at the people milling in the parking lot. "Oh, no... I completely forgot..."
"You go and get ready. I will take them into Taste. You can use my office for interviews."
Illya started to walk from the room and Napoleon grabbed his arm and pulled him into a bear hug. "What would I do without you?"
"You would languish, Napoleon. Now go."
Napoleon, once again, stared up at the ceiling above the bed, this time waiting for his heart and his breathing to catch up with him again. Beside him, he could hear his lover panting and swallowing deep breaths in a similar attempt.
"God, Napoleon, you nearly killed me."
"Think of it as my thank you for rescuing me today." Napoleon turned his head on the pillow. "I would not have made it through the day."
"Yes, you would have, Napoleon, because you are a survivor, no matter what." Illya looked back at him and sighed. "I learned early on that if I wanted to survive, it meant following you."
For a long moment they simply lay there, letting the cool night air dry the sweat off their bodies, the darkness hide their expressions from each other.
"I'm sorry I hurt you," Napoleon murmured softly, lest Illya already be asleep.
"You didn't hurt me, Napoleon." Illya's lips curled up in a smile. "But I do need a breather."
"I mean before. I never meant for it to turn out as it did." Napoleon lifted a hand to Illya's cheek.
"You have to know that I'd never do that again. Not now."
"But..." The pause stretched on, yet Napoleon was patient.
"I don't know what I'd do if I lost you again." The admission was barely audible.
"You'll never lose me again, amante, because you never lost me to begin with." He reached down to take a work worn hand and bring it to his lips to kiss it. He tightened his grip. "Whatever happens, we do it as a team now."
"Good..." Illya sighed and brought Napoleon's hand to his chest. "Then I'll wait until tomorrow to tell you that Debow is shipping its wine a week later than you asked..."
"The call came while you were interviewing..."
"Son of a..."
Illya grabbed his head and pulled him into a kiss. "Welcome to the world of being a California businessman. I hope you have a pair of brass ones because that's what it takes in the Land of Fruits, Flakes and Nuts."
"Old joke. Why is California like a bowl of cereal?"
"It's full of flakes, fruits, and nuts. Pick your poison, my love, for you are here to stay."
Somehow, with Illya beside him, even that didn't sound like that bad of an offer...