Summer Night City
The bed sheets were tangled and ripped out from the mattress. The comforter was wadded up at the foot of the bed and pillows were tossed to either side of the bed and, in Napoleon Solo's opinion, there was still too much between him and his lover.
He ground into Illya's body with a force that elicited a grunt from the Russian, but he was bucking back against Napoleon, demanding more, bowing his back until Napoleon was sure it would snap from the strain and still Illya's hands, mouth, and body cried out for more from Napoleon. In spite of the fans blowing across the bed, they were both drenched in sweat. Then he heard a catch in Illya's breathing and the fist that enveloped Illya's penis tightened and increased its tempo. Illya's mouth opened in a noiseless cry and Napoleon's fist grew sticky from semen. That was his cue and he upped the tempo of his thrusts, slamming into Illya's body until he, too, caught his breath, froze, and then tumbled down over the edge.
Panting, he carefully unwound himself from Illya's body and stretched out beside him, watching his lover's face intently as a smile grew on his lips. "Good morning."
"Yes, yes it is," Illya murmured back, eyes still closed as he, grimacing, flexed his legs. Permitting his eyes to drift open but a crack, he kissed Napoleon lazily, a complete contrast to the franticness he'd displayed just moments before and then brushed sweat-drenched hair off Napoleon's forehead. "Thank you."
"Oh, believe me when I say it was my pleasure." Napoleon put a little distance between their bodies to let the air from the fans circulate and flopped back, sated for the moment. "You constantly amaze me."
"Of course, but why the sudden revelation, Napoleon?" Illya readjusted a pillow behind his head, not quite ready to make the effort of heading for the bathroom.
"No matter what I dish out, you take it and ask for more." Napoleon began to trace lazy circles on Illya's belly, sticky with semen, and smiled as goose bumps rose in his fingernail's wake.
"Not right at the moment, please. Even I have my limits."
"You know what I mean."
"Yes, I know exactly what you mean," Illya said, burrowing his head down. He shut his eyes and Napoleon watched him intently.
"Illya, I want you to do something for me."
Illya raised his head and then braced himself up on his elbows. "What?"
"I have to go to San Francisco to get some paperwork out of the way. I want you to come with me." He could see the hesitation in Illya's eyes even before the man opened his mouth. He knew the battle Illya had been fighting—trying to release his death grip on Napoleon, trying to convince himself that no more harm would come to Napoleon. At the same time, easing himself away from his restaurant, was proving to be the more difficult, in Napoleon's opinion. In the old days, Illya was reticent about leaving the restaurant for more than a day or two and he'd gotten much worse as time went on. Then along came Velon and everything went to pot and Illya, while seemingly fine on the outside, had slowly gone to hell on the inside until he had to have either Napoleon or the restaurant in sight at all times. It had taken serious effort on Illya's part and that of his psychiatrist to make him see and start to rectify that.
The monkey wrench in everything was that Illya was just starting to cook again, just starting to fall back into a routine and Napoleon knew he didn't want to stop. Yet at the same time, Dr. Hilbert had made it Napoleon's task to keep Illya from relapsing into his old habits. To keep him from getting back into the routine Illya so desperately wanted.
"It would only be for a few days, three at the most, and Dr. Hilbert agrees that some time away from the restaurant, away from here, would be good for you."
"How much longer are people going to have conversations about my well being without me actually being in the room?"
"Don't be like that." Napoleon stopped and offered his hand. "Come and take a bath with me."
"No, I think I'll pass." Illya's head flopped back. "I'm tired. I'd rather sleep."
"You've slept enough the last few months for a lifetime. Be with me, Amante." Napoleon used his best beguiling tones and when that failed, his tongue and lips. In fifteen minutes, they were settled in the water-filled cast iron bathtub, Illya's body nestled in his arms.
"Does it really bother you that much?" Napoleon rubbed his cheek against Illya's hair, eyes closed, enjoying the feeling and smell of the man in his arms.
"Does what bother me, Napoleon? That around you I don't seem to have any will power? That I can't say no to you? Yes, it makes me crazy...ier."
"That we have conversations about you without you being present?" Napoleon dribbled a handful of water over Illya's shoulder and followed it with his hand, stroking the soft skin, so much in contrast to the rock hard muscle beneath it.
"Yes, that bothers me...very much. " Even to admit it showed marked improvement to Napoleon's way of thinking.
"Then give us nothing to talk about." He continued the motion until he reached Illya's right hand and brought it to his lips, kissing the scarred palm and fingers. "Prove that you're truly back with us."
"How do I do that?"
Napoleon flipped Illya over, water sloshing over the edges of the tub onto towels placed there for that very reason. It was as if his climax of half an hour ago hadn't even happened. He was as erect as a teenage boy with his first Playboy. And he was delighted to find Illya in exactly the same state.
Napoleon slipped his hand between them, trapping their penises together in a firm embrace. It took no effort at all to thrust into his fist, feeling one penis slip deliciously against the other.
"Come with me."
Illya moved rhythmically, eyes closed, obviously savoring the feeling. "All in good time. Don't be in such a hurry."
"I mean to San Francisco," Napoleon murmured, knowing that his partner was already getting lost in desire. He stilled his hand for just a moment. "Illya?"
"If by saying yes that means that we'll get on with it, then yes, Napoleon, whatever you want. Just please... get on with it."
Napoleon grinned and began to move his hand again. This really was like shooting Russians in a barrel.
Of course, that was before he tried making reservations. Every single hotel he tried in the Castro was without vacancy and he'd even tried some hotels he had no intention of staying in, just to see. Then he tried the better hotels just off the district. Finally he settled for a hotel not far from the financial district. It would make it easier to do his business, but it wouldn't afford the freedom he'd anticipated. Not that he made a show of holding Illya's hand in public, but it was just nice to have the option for a change.
The ride into the City was quiet. Illya stared out the window at the landscape rushing by as they headed down I-80. It was as if some tremendous battle was being fought inside him and Napoleon was itching to help.
"You want to talk about it?"
"I'm not happy; what else is there to talk about? I should be cooking, not here."
"All work and no play, my friend. You need to breathe a little, Illya, and rejoin the human race."
"One should never be held to promises made at the height of passion."
"Oh, as I recall, we were a long way from the height of passion when you agreed to this." Napoleon flicked a fast look over at his partner.
Illya was rubbing his right hand absently. "Illya, the restaurant will be fine. And you're with me. I would think that would make you ecstatic." He stopped and chuckled as Illya rolled his eyes. It was certainly a change from the panic attacks Illya was having when Napoleon drifted out of his sight, but Napoleon also knew it was window dressing and that Illya was working hard at putting up a front. He'd agreed to the trip far too easily and while Napoleon secretly loved the fact that Illya would chose him over the restaurant, he still wanted the old Illya back. "And we're both healthy and relatively happy."
"At least one of us is... the last time I went to San Francisco, I ended up being shot. I have no desire to find myself back in the hospital. I just got out of one."
"It's time for us to have a little bit of time for ourselves, just ourselves, no chefs, trainees, or well intending shrinks. We can go to the Russian Renaissance tonight for dinner if you'd like."
"Now you're pandering to me."
"If that's what it takes, then yes, I am. Do you mind?" He saw the ghost of a smile begin on Illya's lips.
"Only a little."
It took an act of God to get the car parked, even though they took Illya's small coupe. San Francisco was not known for its over abundance of parking spaces and this hotel, just off Chinatown, shared its lot with a dozen other businesses.
At first look, the Hotel Coronado didn't seem like much. It had a canopy and a worn carpet leading into the front hall and inside, it was so small, a good sneeze would have blown the walls down, but the dcor was a charming French provincial.
The receptionist glanced up at them and smiled as they approached her desk in the tiny office.
"This is just like being back home," Napoleon quipped.
"Bonjour, may I 'elp you?" The woman's accent was thick and Napoleon grinned.
"Bonne journe. Mon nom est Napoleon Solo, J'ai une reservation." The woman's eyes lit up and off she went, talking smoothly in French.
Thankfully, Napoleon's own French was more than able to keep up with her. Illya wandered from the lobby and down the tiny hall, stopping before the narrow and twisting stair case. The elevator, old fashioned and seemingly right out of his old boarding house back in Paris, stood just to the right of it. Posted by the side of the elevator was a menu and he scanned it with interest, squinting to avoid putting on his glasses.
"Votre restaurant?" he asked as Napoleon and the woman approached.
"The basement, monsieur, Le Jeanne D'arc." She pulled the menu from the wall and handed it to him. "They change the soup and salad course daily. This was from last night. It is also where your breakfast will be served in the morning."
"Breakfast comes with the room?" Illya glanced over at Napoleon, who shifted their suitcase from one hand to the other as they waited for the tiny elevator.
"Oh, sure now that there's food involved, you're all attention. Typical." Napoleon nudged him in the shoulder, but softened his complaint with a warm smile.
"If you do not think me forward, messieurs, are you here for the parade?" She worked the glass door to the tiny elevator and waited for them to precede her in.
"Oh, perhaps I... how do you say... misspoke? I had assumed since you had but one suitcase and a single room..." The young woman looked as if she wanted the floor to swallow her up, so Napoleon let the comment pass without another word as the elevator groaned its way up to the third floor
Illya's mind was elsewhere as he studied the menu, but he still managed to flick up his gaze for a moment and smile, nodding slightly.
Thus reassured she continued, "Do you come to the City often?" She led the way down a narrow hallway to their room.
"Usually just on business," Napoleon answered when it was apparent Illya hadn't heard her. "Is there anything going on in town this weekend?"
"Just the parade, monsieur, and the events surrounding it."
"Which parade would that be?"
"The Gay Freedom Parade, monsieur. The whole city prepares for it."
"That explains why we couldn't get a room in the Castro," Napoleon murmured to the Russian.
"Non, monsieur, those are the first to go, but the parade route, it is just down at the base of the hill, right through Union Square. And we are, as you say, a proud supporter of gay rights." She handed him the key, a handful of brochures, and stepped out of the way. "This is your room. I 'ope you like it."
Napoleon grinned happily. Perhaps the weekend wasn't going to be as big a washout as he feared. The room was on a corner and that usually meant more space. While the bed did take up much of the room, there were still other Provincial pieces crammed around the perimeter. Prints by Gauguin decorated the walls and the room was wonderfully free from the drone of traffic.
"What do you think about that, partner?" No response. "Illya? Earth to Illya?"
"Huh?" Illya glanced around the room. "It's fine." It had a bed, it had a bathroom. Napoleon knew that was all the Russian required by way of a room. They had stayed in far too many hotel rooms in their careers to notice one room over another.
"Illya?" Napoleon half sang his name.
"Yes, Napoleon? I think reservations at eight would suffice." He handed Napoleon the menu and locked eyes with his lover. "What is wrong?"
"How about that parade?"
"I've never been much for parades, Napoleon. Unless they have tanks, rocket launchers and lots of soldiers, it's not much of a parade to my way of thinking."
"I'm talking gay freedom, Illya."
"You're talking Martian." He tried to focus on the brochure Napoleon waved in front of him, finally grabbing Napoleon's wrist with his right hand. Napoleon struggled with him for a moment, testing the strength of the hand. It was getting better, stronger, but Illya still had a ways to go with it before it was back to a hundred percent. "From my experience, there isn't any, although probably San Francisco does the best at addressing that."
"According to this little brochure here, the parade is a celebration of gay pride. ."
"And just when did you become gay, Napoleon. Last I heard, you were still playing the 'bi' card."
"You are in a mood, aren't you?" Napoleon pulled him forward, catching him in an embrace. "Am I going to have to pound it out of you?" he murmured into a convenient ear. Illya held still for a moment and then started to struggle free.
"Perhaps later. For now, I'm feeling like Chinese food for lunch and we're just five blocks from Chinatown. You didn't give us much of a chance for breakfast this morning and you know how fast I burn calories."
"Sometimes more than others." Napoleon settled the suitcase on a trunk at the foot of the bed. "I suppose the least I can do is feed you since I dragged you along with me."
As they wandered through the people-crowded streets of Chinatown, Napoleon felt himself relax a bit more as he watched Illya. Everything seemed to interest him, from the poorly made trinkets set up on makeshift tables in front of businesses to beautifully crafted porcelain
They were wandering through a store, just one of many, and Napoleon stopped in front of a glass showcase. He looked and then he did a double take. The figures inside, mostly of two men, were in some very interesting positions and he knew from personal experience that some of those positions just weren't possible.
"Illya, could I see you for a moment?" The man joined him and stared into the case, one eyebrow cocked. "What do you think?"
"Netsukes," he said after a moment. "You thread them onto your sash and hang pouches and whatnot from them."
"Before the days of pockets?"
"Well before." Illya tipped his head sideways. "I just hope they have good insurance or the name of a reliable chiropractor because they're going to need it after that. No matter what, that's going to hurt in the morning."
"You sound as if you speak from experience."
"I was much younger and much more flexible then."
Napoleon chuckled and caught his arm. "Are you ready to eat?"
"That's a loaded question if I ever heard one."
Napoleon stretched out on the bed and smiled at the memory. He didn't know why he got such a chuckle out of watching people's faces when his partner ordered in their native language. Clearly the Chinese waiter wasn't expecting either of them to understand Cantonese, much less speak it. However, it always resulted in better than average service. He was still stuffed to the gills and they'd walked for another two hours after they'd finished eating.
Illya had purchased some crockery for the restaurant and a couple of small items that caught his eye, but for the most part, he was just content to wander and look. Napoleon had to admit that while he missed being Illya's sole focus, it was good to see him getting back to normal.
He reached out and lifted the Russian's right hand to his mouth and kissed it, nursing it. Illya pulled his attention from the book he was reading and glanced over his glasses at his partner. '"Yes, Napoleon, are you trying to tell me something?"
"I don't know." Napoleon ran the tip of his tongue up first one finger and then another, stopping at the forefinger and drawing it into his mouth, sucking it gently, rolling his tongue around it. "Does this give you any ideas?"
"Quite a few actually." Illya shifted slightly on the bed, but did nothing to remove his hand. Just that was a leap forward for him. Only three weeks ago, he'd held it tight to his body, protectively. Even during sex, he still instinctively kept it out of harm's way. To permit Napoleon these intimacies with it spoke volumes. "I thought you didn't like sex on a full stomach?"
"Chinese food, it never stays with you."
"While, on the other hand, your libido...?"
"Always ready for action, just like the Boy Scouts."
"That's an uncomfortable segue for me." Illya pulled his glasses off and set them on the night stand, along with the book. "But I know what you mean." He licked his lips and Napoleon surged forward to capture first those lips and then that tongue in a demanding kiss. He thrust his tongue as deeply as he could into Illya's obliging mouth, finally pulling back to catch his breath. "So you're in that kind of mood, are you?"
"Can't help it. Seeing all those little figurines..."
"Netsukes, gave me ideas," he whispered into Illya's ear, pausing to rim it with his tongue. "Wonderfully degenerate and carnal ideas."
Illya smiled and then suddenly moved and Napoleon found himself trapped beneath a hard and resisting body. "And I want to take this moment to remind you that we are not young men."
"But we're not as old as we're going to be." Napoleon countered the move, but was only partially successful. Now they were side by side. "And we are wearing far too many clothes to my way of thinking."
It took mere seconds to strip, deadbolt the door and grab a tube of lube. Napoleon leaned back, letting Illya have a free hand. He'd been in the driver's seat this morning and while he had no problem taking the lead, he was always careful to acquiesce when Illya indicated the need to dominate. Hell, he loved his Russian's passionate side, never saw it enough as far as he was concerned.
Illya was carefully mapping his body with lips and tongue, slowly, infuriatingly slowly, licking and then blowing to dry the saliva. Napoleon tried to reach for his penis, but Illya knocked his hands away, making a chastising little noise in his throat.
"Do that again and I'll tie you down," Illya threatened, nipping then licking the sensitive skin of Napoleon's inner thigh.
"You and whose army?" Napoleon half mumbled, half moaned. Both of them had spent half a lifetime tied up in one fashion or another and it was by mutual consent that that aspect of their former life never followed them in into the bedroom.
"Me." Illya drew his tongue up one side of Napoleon's penis. "Myself." He drew it down the other side. "And I." He lowered his mouth and Napoleon groaned at the warmth that enveloped him. He arched up slightly and Illya drew him in deeper, swallowing almost convulsively until his nose was nestled against dark brown pubic hair. Then he started to hum a tune, half remembered from his childhood and Napoleon's hands were suddenly entwined in Illya's hair.
Napoleon liked to pride himself on being able to hold back, postponing his own climax. He'd been able to bring his female bed partners to climax two or three times before allowing himself the pleasure, but with Illya, he didn't try. Nor did he want to. He just shut his eyes and let his body follow its own course, seeking out its own pleasure and completion knowing that the bout was just at its start.
Illya held Napoleon's penis in his mouth until well after he'd stopped throbbing, until well after the last bit of semen had been swallowed.
"Well, you're certainly Johnny on the Spot this afternoon," he admonished, finally releasing the semi-hard erection. He dropped his mouth down onto Napoleon's inner thigh and began to suck, gently but insistently, until there was a blossom of red beneath his mouth. He flicked his gaze up to Napoleon and grinned impishly. "That's one."
"Of what?" Napoleon propped himself up on his elbows.
"Oh, I'm thinking of going for a personal best."
By the time they had finished that afternoon, Napoleon had two more marks there and a satisfied Russian sleeping in his arms.
Napoleon stood, watching expectantly up the street as the music and the noise drew closer. He couldn't believe the number of people who crowded the sidewalks. Some were openly and flamboyantly gay, others were more like he and Illya, people you wouldn't look at twice and think about being gay. Others were highly aggressive, as if committed to shoving their homosexuality down everyone's throat, in a manner of speaking, while still others just wanted to be able to have an open relationship. It seemed that nearly every facet was represented in the crowd.
He glanced over at his partner, the Russian's face still flushed from yet another enthusiastic bout of love making that morning. Napoleon wasn't quite sure, but it seemed that since his abduction by Velon, every time they made love now, it was getting more and more physical, more insistent. It was as if Illya couldn't give or get enough. Not that Napoleon was complaining, but he was growing concerned. There were times earlier when their love making had been slow and easy. Now he worried that Illya was using sex as a just another way to punish himself for allowing Napoleon's abduction.
Napoleon slid up behind Illya and wrapped his arms about his waist, pulling the lean body tight to his. Illya started to pull away, out of habit mostly. They were careful not to touch each other too intimately in public, both from a professional and personal viewpoint. While the people of Jackson were accommodating, neither man flaunted their homosexuality, never called undue attention to themselves.
"It's okay, Amante," Napoleon murmured, resting his cheek against the blond hair he adored. "We're just two of many here." That was certainly true. "You don't know how many times I've wanted to do this in public. Just to be able to hold you in public and not worry about who's looking and what they're thinking."
The parade arrived and they stood half watching, half lost in enjoying the freedom of temporary acceptance. Then Napoleon became aware of Illya's restlessness. Illya didn't do nothing well. He would stand in front of a stove and cook, in front of a counter and prep, lie in bed and read, but he couldn't just stand with nothing to occupy his mind.
"Had enough?" Napoleon asked, moving his hands to hipbones and massaging them through the denim of Illya's jeans. "Ready to head home?"
"Not if you're enjoying this. I'm fine." Illya twisted his head to look over his shoulder at him and Napoleon risked a fast kiss.
"I'm good." It was wonderful to stand in the sun, on a busy street, in the middle of a crowd of like minded people and hold the most precious thing in his life and do it proudly without shame or feeling a need to hide, but now his heart yearned for something else, for home, their home. "Let's go home."
The drive back from the City was long, but uneventful. Napoleon, while enjoying the bustle of the big city found himself welcoming the narrow, tree-encroached roads leading back into the foothills. When the countryside became familiar, he caught himself counting the miles and then they hit the outskirts of the small town and he discovered he couldn't stop smiling.
Napoleon waited until they had gone through the routine of exchanging pleasantries with Matt and the staff of Taste and Vinea, unpacking, having dinner and were settled back into their own familiar and comfortable bed before he felt right about broaching the subject.
He reached out to stroke Illya's hair, letting the blond strands fall randomly from his fingers again and again. He knew it drove Illya out of his mind with annoyance, but he permitted it because it was Napoleon doing it.
"Illya, I want to make love to you." Napoleon let his hand still for a moment. The blue eyes that regarded him were tired, but Napoleon knew Illya wouldn't deny him. "I want to make love to you," he repeated. "Softly, gently, the way we used to before..."
"Before when, Napoleon?" Illya's voice was guarded.
"Do you remember how it was when we first were together? Everything was so slow and easy, so new and exciting, but fragile. It was as if we were afraid it would all disappear if we held it too hard." He leaned in for a kiss, a shadow of his usual one, just tracing his lips across those of his partner's, feeling the soft puff of air escaping. Just as gently, he kissed his way up to first one eyelid and then the other, taking care to keep his touch feather light.
He let one hand flutter over Illya's body, feeling but not possessing the skin beneath his fingers. It was an exercise in sweet torture. Normally by now, he would have been nipping and abusing that skin, marking his way down that pale body, ready to take it in a powerful, almost violent possession. No, this time he was determined and he held his own desire in check, deliberately moving at a snail's pace while his partner's body responded and danced to his touch.
Napoleon reached for and captured Illya's right hand as it drifted in closer, protectively to his body. The burns had healed, but the tissue left behind was still hyper sensitive and Napoleon made love to the scars there, nuzzling them, bestowing the softest kisses he could onto the palm. He wasn't expecting the gasps and mews of pleasure that escaped from his partner, but he welcomed them.
And he kept the rest of the love making on the same path, even when he slid his penis into Illya's willing body, he kept the pace slow and easy, only allowing either of them a bit of force at the last minute and the resulting climax made Napoleon's teeth ache from the intensity of it.
"See? He crooned into Illya's ear as they lay spent in each other's arms. "Slow and steady is just as satisfying as fast and furious."
"And what brought on this sudden Buddha like insight into love making? You're not going to blame the netsukes again?"
"I just wanted us to remember what it was like when all this was new."
"And are you saying that our love making is now old? And therefore no longer interesting?"
"You're putting words into my mouth, partner of mine. No, I'm just saying there are other options besides trying to drive each other through the mattress. That we don't always have to be so frantic."
"I thought you liked it that way."
"I do, but not such a steady diet of it, I think." Napoleon looked down at him and toyed with a bit of hair that fell down across Illya's brow.
"Point taken." Illya closed his eyes and pulled Napoleon closer, snuggling down against him. "It's been a helluva year."
"There and back again with the scars to prove it. It certainly has been that and yet here we are still strong, still safe and..."
"And still sentimental." Illya reached over and rummaged for something in the drawer of his bedside table. He located whatever he was looking for and pulled it out, dropping it in Napoleon's hand. It was one of the netsukes. Not one of the more athletic of the mix, rather of two lovers in each other's embrace, happy and at peace.
"Nice." Napoleon turned it over in his hand. "When did you pick this up?"
"While you were meeting with your investment adviser and banker." Illya's eyes never left him. "In the future, whenever you have... concerns, pull that out and I'll know."
"You wouldn't arrive at this conclusion by yourself?"
"In case I don't, you can think of it as an insurance policy." Illya wiggled to get more comfortable. "Or, if you prefer, a promise that if I ever start to go off the deep end again, you'll have something to bring me back and reminded me of why we're here." He kissed Napoleon's brow. "Why we're together."
Napoleon set the netsuke down and was suddenly struck by how much the features of one of the figures reminded him of Illya. He turned the figurine and stared.
"Ah, you just noticed then?"
"The resemblance to us is astonishing."
"I prefer to think of it as something more; that we aren't together by accident, but rather by some divine intervention."
"Illya, you're an atheist."
"That just means I don't believe in your god, not that I don't believe in something." He kissed Napoleon again and smiled. "And I choose to believe in us. That we were together in the past, are again together now and will again be together in the future. Together forever."
"I can live with that." Napoleon gathered the man tighter against him, feeling Illya's breath gently tickle his ear, and smiled. While the world might still have a lifetime of acceptance in front of it, he was satisfied and happy and home.