Take A Chance on Me
Illya Kuryakin was happy, truly content with his life. It was as if someone had reached inside him and flicked on a switch and, quite frankly, he was terrified. Life wasn't supposed to be like this, not for him. The restaurant was doing well, its client base growing steadily, his staff was stable and for the first time in a long time, he had someone in his life. Not just someone but Napoleon Solo.
Illya woke just as the birds were starting to stir and immediately registered warmth behind him and an arm resting across his waist as Napoleon spooned against him. It amused him that he was privy to Napoleon's great weaknesses, the one passion he hid from the world—the man loved to cuddle. Illya had discovered it when they'd first shared a bed on assignment.
To wake up that very first time with Napoleon had thrown Illya's emotions and libido into a roller coaster of turmoil. Illya had had enough experience in his life at that point to know that he wasn't exclusively gay, but with a new partner, he'd had to approach that line very cautiously, particularly when that partner could hand him his lungs at a moment's notice. It had taken time to find out just where Napoleon stood on the matter same-sex relationships, but Illya now considered it time well invested.
Illya stirred and Napoleon pulled him closer, his morning erection nudging Illya in the small of his back. It was a morning ritual that had started during their first co-habitation together. Now, as before, the decision for sex was left up to him. Illya could chose to lie still; Napoleon would go back to sleep. If Illya gave even the slightest show of interest, Napoleon would escalate, but as always, it remained Illya's choice.
The truth of the matter was that Illya had always enjoyed these early morning bouts of sex. It was something that he'd felt the loss of keenly when he left Napoleon. Illya could make it through the days just fine, using work to fill all the daylight hours, but then the night came with all its emptiness and loneliness. The nights hurt so much that he'd actually had to resort to pills for awhile just to get enough rest to enable him to make it through the next day. Over time, the pain eased and sleep came easier, but Illya could never, would never, forget entirely.
And now Napoleon was back, sweeping into his life with a flood of emotions. Illya smiled and pressed back. It was true that the man might choose to leave in the next heartbeat, but for now, he was still there and Illya was going to take full advantage. And there were always going to be sleeping pills.
Immediately, Napoleon's hands started to caress him, stroking his body with a feather touch, leaving a trail of goose bumps behind to mark their course towards his groin while Napoleon's lips and tongue drawing delicate patterns upon his neck and shoulders.
Facing away from Napoleon tended to limit his range of motion, so Illya acquiesced, letting his partner take charge of the love making, and taking the passive role...this time. Napoleon's hand slide down to first caress and then cradle Illya's penis in a soft palm, applying just the right pressure.
Napoleon was a considerate lover, always being careful to make sure both of them were ready, standing side by side at the starting line before allowing even the thought of penetration to occur to him. If he didn't deem Illya ready, then he waited, stroking, caress, licking, whatever it took to raise the Russian's heart rate, speed up his breathing, preparing him for that one moment.
Shifting, Illya positioned himself so that Napoleon's erection, already wet with pre-seminal fluid, and eager, slipped between the cleft of his ass. He was never as prepared for this as he'd like. Napoleon masturbated, stretched, did everything he could to alleviate the pain, but it was never quite enough. That didn't keep Illya from pushing back as Napoleon surged forward. He winced as Napoleon entered, his breath catching in his throat as he was filled. The truth of the matter was that he didn't mind just a little pain when he knew the rewards that awaited him. Napoleon stilled, waiting patiently again for a signal to proceed, for Illya to move against him and to permit his body to respond to a primal urge.
Slow, languid thrusts worked into more enthusiastic ones and then they teetered, both on the same precipice, before tumbling over, sometimes together, sometimes one leading the other, but always close at hand. And, as before, never a word passed between them. Groans, sighs, cries of ecstasy—all these were uttered, but not a word was spoken. Illya lay quietly listening to his heart hammer, feeling Napoleon's panting against his neck and wondered how that particular habit had started. It wasn't a conscious choice on either man's part, it just happened; in these early morning dances, they let their bodies speak for them. Feeling the bed dip, Illya decided that Napoleon had gone for the moment, probably to clean up. Napoleon was far more fastidious about that than Illya was. For his part, he was feeling too sated to move. Bed clothes shifted again and Napoleon slid back into the bed and plastered up against him.
Illya had another choice now, he could either allow his still-pounding heart beat to lull him back to sleep or he could get up and face the day. He turned his head slightly to look over at his dozing partner and smiled contentedly, sated for a moment. There would be time for reality later, now he'd pursue a dream of staying like this, of being held and of feeling protected, safe, and warm. He settled back against Napoleon, feeling him nuzzle into his hair. He wasn't sure what it was about his hair that intrigued the man so much, but it didn't matter. With Napoleon's breath against his neck, he let sleep take him again.
One pesky bird kept singing the same note again and again, finally forcing Napoleon from his sleep and into gradual wakefulness. Daylight struggled past the closed curtains and crept quietly into the bedroom. He glanced over to his right, delighted to see that his partner was still asleep, features soft and relaxed, arms akimbo. Napoleon's body still registered the sweet after effects of their early morning coupling and it took him back to an earlier time when they'd met every possible day like that until Napoleon misread a situation and made the worst mistake of his life. Being giving a second chance to rectify that mistake, he was now determined not to step wrong.
Knowing that his touch would be welcomed, Napoleon slid closer to drape an arm and leg over the sleeping Russian. Illya murmured, snuggled and sighed, but never awoke. He had been delighted with Illya's acceptance of Napoleon's near constant need to touch him. Illya had always maintained a strict comfort zone when it came to physical nearness that kept most people at arm's length, but that never included Napoleon.
And it didn't seem to be as much of an issue now as it used to. In fact, Napoleon had been downright flabbergasted at the intimacy the Russian allowed between him and his staff. The touching, hugging and kissing seemed so out of character for the man, but the casualness that Illya greeted it with told Napoleon that it was not just for his benefit, a show of bravado. This was part of the new Illya. He seemed not to just welcome the touch of others, but almost to demand it, reaching out when that closeness wasn't provided by someone else.
Now Napoleon took full advantage of it and nestled close, so much so that he could detect a slight change in breathing that told him Illya was waking. There was also another party stirring in the bed as well, demanding attention even though it had already been attending to once this morning. His penis twitched against a hard muscled thigh.
"Napoleon, you're insatiable," Illya murmured without opening his eyes.
"Uh huh," Napoleon agreed even as his erection was taken in a firm hand. When Illya started to slip down beneath the bed clothes, Napoleon knew better than protest. Illya was displaying a prowess with oral sex that he hadn't possessed during their first times together and Napoleon realized that this new Illya wasn't going to do anything he didn't want to. Perhaps earlier in their relationship that hadn't been the case, but Napoleon's experience of the past couple of days told him that the Russian's priorities had shifted over the years, becoming more self centered. He easily rode the waves of ecstasy, climaxing faster than he wanted or expected to.
Illya emerged from beneath the bed covers, eyes still struggling with sleep and settled back down on top of Napoleon, blanketing him. Napoleon kissed him, tasting himself on the man's lips and tongue.
"That was nice—talk about a second coming." Napoleon stroked Illya's back with a thumb, dragging it up and down his spine slowly. Almost involuntarily, Illya flexed in response, reminding Napoleon of a cat. "And it's not even 9 a.m. yet."
"What about you?" True, there wasn't an erection grinding into his hip, but Napoleon was prepared to remedy that. He caught one of Illya's hands and brought it up to his lips, kissing the knuckles, his tongue fondling and tasting the skin before starting to work up the limb. He paused on Illya's wrist, sucking on the insanely soft flesh, feeling the pulse begin to speed up beneath his mouth.
"If you shift your leg about two inches to the right, you'll see that you've already taken care of that. I'm guessing you didn't notice." Illya smiled, enjoying the sensation of Napoleon's mouth on his body.
Suddenly it stopped and he lifted his head in response, frowning slightly.
"Illya, what's this?" Napoleon was staring at Illya's forearm and Illya focused his attention to the spot. Once he saw what had caught Napoleon's attention, he dropped his head back down to Napoleon's chest.
"What does it look like to you?"
"At first I thought it was a bruise, but it's a tattoo?"
"Got it in one."
"When did you get a tattoo?"
"It was the night of the day we received our fourth star. We wanted to do something to celebrate, something that showed not just our dedication to the restaurant, but something that marked us as one. Jesus designed it and we all went under the needle, as it were. Different spots, though—whatever you do, don't let Mattie show you his."
Napoleon felt himself bristling at the name, not that he harbored ill will towards the man, but because he'd been allowed access to a part of Illya's life that Napoleon never would have. "Why did you choose here?"
Napoleon traced the pattern of a crossed fork and knife surrounded by four small stars.
"So I can look down and remember not to lose focus. To remind me of what's important and why I do what I do now. " The mood broken, Illya rolled off him. "You want first crack at the shower?"
"Go ahead, least I can do after that blow job."
"No, the least you could do would be to strip off these sheets. I do believe they seen as much action as is humanly possible without being washed."
Illya came down the stairs easily, one hand keeping a firm grip on the waist of his sweat pants to keep them in place. He really should break down and buy a new pair or at least replace the elastic in this pair. One day soon, they were going to succumb to Madam Gravity and he'd suffer the consequences. Today, however, was not going to be that day. He reached the bottom and paused to pull on a tee shirt. He tucked it in, hitched up the pants one more time and walked into the kitchen to start the coffee. As much as he loved his restaurant kitchen, this was his refuge. He spent more time here than any other place in the small house. It was clean, bright and orderly. He knew every inch intimately and that reassured him in some strange sense.
He opened the kitchen door to allow in the sun and two cats tumbled in the moment he did. Both were complaining, demanding, and falling over each other to get to their food dishes. Illya replaced the water and filled each bowl carefully, before turning his attention back to the coffee pot. Pouring a cup for himself, he mentally went through a list of recipes until he found something he wanted.
He pulled the ingredients together for basic coffee cake. Once he had it mixed and in the pan, he carefully peeled, cored and cut two apples into thin slices. Fanning them on top of the batter, he covered the entire surface and then sprinkled it with a mixture of macadamia nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter. If that didn't tempt Napoleon, nothing would.
That accomplished, he moved to the walk in, pulled out a pack of sausages and began to poach them in apple juice. They were nearly done when he heard footsteps coming down the stairs, jaunty, carefree, so much like the Napoleon he'd known from long ago. Illya poured a second cup of coffee and turned back to pull the coffee cake from the oven. Napoleon entered while still buttoning up his shirt and took a deep breath.
"Oh my God, I don't know what to do first—have breakfast or kiss you."
"If you chose the first, the door is over there. Don't let it hit you as you're leaving."
"Well, then that just leaves..." Napoleon pulled him into an embrace and turned all his attention to Illya's mouth, his tongue exploring all its nooks and crannies before releasing the man. "Are we good now?"
"Perhaps you'll get breakfast, I haven't decided...yet." Illya made no move to escape his arms and Napoleon took that to his fullest advantage, making love to that mouth again, which opened eagerly for him.
"And you're calling me insatiable, Kuryakin."
"I prefer to think of it as opportunistic." This time Illya did break the embrace. "There's coffee on the table for you. The rest will be ready in a minute."
"Do you eat like this every morning?" Napoleon eyed the coffee cake appreciatively.
"When I've worked up an appetite the night before, or forgotten to eat dinner, or like last night, both."
"Illya, you're an eating machine. How do you forget to eat?"
"It's easy, trying cooking for 50 again and again and yet again, By the end of it, no matter how hungry you are, the last thing you want to do is look at more food." Illya set a plate of sliced coffee cake and sausage down before him and stopped to close the door. 'Only 9:30 and already the day was warming up—ah, summer in the Foothills,' Illya thought. 'Your choice—hot or hotter?'
"So what's the game plan for today?"
"Mondays are really my only down day. Usually I spend the day nursing a hangover and doing chores, but I thought since you're here I'd show you the town. You'll be impressed—there are at least three tee shirt shops, a few antique shops, a candy emporium and a book store." Illya attacked his own plate, slicing the sausage eagerly. Collecting a forkful of coffee cake along with way, he slipped it into his mouth, chewing slowly to savor the flavors, judging their balance and texture. He shook his head slightly. The sausage was still a little too sweet for his tastes. Perhaps it was time to let his patrons decide.
"Speaking of such, I had a look at your books last night. What kind of maniac do you have doing them?"
"I would be said maniac."
"I thought it looked like your handwriting." Napoleon paused in his eating. "You're a wonderful cook, Illya, but you're not an accountant." He chewed for a moment, swallowed and then continued. "You're not taking advantage of half of the tax credits you could get with this place and I'm betting the labor board's taking you to the cleaners. I've had enough experience with money to know that you need someone's help, my friend."
A sudden banging on the door made both men jump and Illya caught himself going for his gun. He dropped his head, shaking it as he smiled over at Napoleon's similar reaction. "Old habits, even after all this time."
The pounding continued as Illya stood and walked the short distance to the door to let a disheveled and wild-eyed Matt enter.
"Cara, you've got to come." He grabbed Illya's hand and started back out, only stopping when the Russian remained fixed.
"Matt, I'm not going anywhere until you calm down." He waited for a moment as the younger man caught his breath. "Now, what's wrong? Did something happen at the restaurant last night?"
"It's Rocky...he went to The Wild One last night."
Illya frowned, shaking his head. "What's he doing at Frank's place, he knows better than that. It's a tough crowd there—I don't even go there unless I have to."
"I don't know what possessed him, but, Illya, some bikers got a hold of him. He's pretty bashed up."
"I'll get dressed." Illya strode rapidly from the room and Napoleon placed a hand on Matt's shoulder, guiding him to a chair. Any animosity he felt towards the man was evaporated by his ingrained need to help people.
"You look like you should be sitting down, Matt." As the man sat, Napoleon poured him some coffee and watched the man lift the cup with a trembling hand. "What is The Wild One?"
"It's a bar, a bad one. About a year ago, a guy was killed there and Illya asked, well, just short of demanded, that we steer clear of the place unless he was with us, like he was going to be able to stop anything."
"Oh, Illya had a pretty colorful youth, mostly black and blue from what I recall. He's a born scrapper. But if Illya advised you to stay clear, why would Rocky...?"
Matt scrubbed his hand through his hair and sighed. "I knew he was in one of those moods last night, but I was tired and just wanted to sleep. I should have stayed up with him. Shit...I should have known."
"Beating yourself up isn't going to help Rocky." He couldn't help but think that perhaps Matt and the ABBA-singing waiter might have a bit more than just a working relationship in common.
Illya appeared a moment later, dressing in tight blue jeans and black tee shirt. He carried a first aid kit under one arm. Game face firmly in place, he walked through the kitchen and out the door, not pausing to see if the other two men followed.
Climbing into a pickup truck, he waited for them to join him before turning over the engine. Napoleon's first instinct was to make some joke about the truck looking like it was being held together with baling wire and good intentions, but he kept quiet. There was an undercurrent of tension that made the air crackle.
The roads were relatively quiet as they drove down a series of small lanes to an even smaller house. The whole building would have fit into Napoleon's living room back in New York, but again, he kept his comments to himself.
Matt jumped from the truck the moment it rolled to a stop and went to the front door. Opening it, he gestured.
"Illya, do you want me to stay here?" Napoleon asked, acknowledging the fact that he was still an outsider.
"No, depending upon what I find, I might need your help. Matt falls apart the minute he sees blood." He led the way through the dollhouse sized living room to a bedroom and Napoleon saw definite signs of co-habitation along the way.
Rocky was sprawled out on the bed. Although initially he looked bad, Napoleon's practiced eye could only pick out a couple of what he would deem serious injuries. He'd seen Illya beaten three times worse than this and just get up and go on, but that was his scrappy Russian.
"Rocky, what have you gotten into?" Illya murmured as he pulled the young man's shirt open and winced at the bruising that decorated the man's stomach. He glanced over at a visibly shaken Matt and pointed. "Matt, get me a wash cloth please...and some warm water." The man bolted from the room, happy to be of service, but equally glad to be away. Napoleon watched after him and then back at Illya, questioningly.
"Matt got caught by a bunch of gay bashers at his university campus. They put him in the hospital for a few months and he's never been able to handle violence since," Illya explained as Rocky stirred beneath his hand. "He falls apart at beer commercials."
Rocky pushed the exploring hands away and blinked to clear his vision. "Hey, boss, I might be late tonight," he murmured once he realized who sat beside him.
"What possessed you to go there? Did you even hear what I said?" Illya's scolding was firm but gentle. He brushed the dark hair aside to examine a scalp laceration. "Looks like they didn't want what you were selling."
"I wasn't selling anything, Chef, I swear. I was just having a drink, singing a little ABBA and the next thing I knew, they had me out back and were beating the crap out of me. Guess they didn't like my taste in music."
Illya hesitated before giving the next question voice. "Rocky, did they rape you?"
"No, Chef, they just wanted someone to beat on. Their talk was crude, but they never touched me...there."
"Lucky you." Matt returned with the cloth and paced the small room, alternately wringing his hands or running them through his short cropped red hair. Illya held the cloth against Rocky's head and brought his hand up to it. "Hold that there, Rocky." He stood and grabbed his business partner by the arm, leading him a short distance into the hallway. "I want you to go over to see Milt and let him know what happened."
"He won't do anything, Illya. He doesn't have time for us," Matt protested, twisting in Illya's grip.
"I know, but he's the law. He needs to be told. Take the truck. Go now."
As the man left, Illya turned back to Napoleon. "It'll be easier to get Rocky patched up with him gone."
"Is he bad?"
"No, I used to get beat up worse than that with Dulmacky in the gym. He'll be sore, but that's it. I'm guessing they were looking for a punching bag and Rocky doesn't exactly exude testosterone. Thank God that's all they were looking for."
"It always does my heart good to hear an atheist use that phrase."
"Just one of the many things I blame on this country."
"And yet you stay."
"And yet I stay."
By the time Matt returned, Rocky's various cuts and bruises had been cleaned and dressed and he was dozing, thanks to one of the sleeping pills Illya kept in the kit for an emergency. Leaving the redhead there to watching over the man, Illya walked quietly back to the truck and climbed in, but he made no move to start the vehicle.
"This isn't right, Napoleon," he said after a long moment. "This isn't a bad community—we have a peaceful co-existence here. We maintain a low profile and are pretty much accepted. The last thing we need is outsiders making trouble for us."
"We? Us?" Napoleon wasn't following Illya's thought. "You mean restaurant workers?"
Illya stared at him for a moment and then smiled faintly. "You don't see yourself as gay, do you?"
"Check again, Napoleon. Not to be crude, but was there someone else's dick up my ass this morning? I think that qualifies you as a member in good standing."
Napoleon colored slightly as the comment. Up to this moment, he hadn't thought of either himself or Illya as gay, but there was no denying their actions. Still, even with that, he wasn't quite sure he'd agree with Illya's comment. The only man he'd ever looked at in that fashion was seated beside him. He had never pursued any man actively before or after Illya. "What do you have in mind?"
"Rocky gave me a pretty good description of the guys who did this. Feel like seeing if our biker friends are still around? Just to talk, you understand."
"You have to ask? Just like the old days."
"Just like the old days." Illya started the truck. "But first a quick stop."
Napoleon was startled when Illya came down the stairs carrying a shoulder holster, his own already on, a P-38 nestled in it. Illya flicked an eye down before shrugging his shoulders. "What? I still have my concealed weapon license. I didn't surrender everything when I left UNCLE." He pulled a light weight jacket over the tee shirt to hide the holster. "Don't tell me you did."
"Of course not, but I just wasn't expecting this sort of trouble."
"Then it's lucky I always have a spare lying around. I never go into Frank's place without some insurance of getting out with my...honor intact." He tossed a second holster to Napoleon, who caught it one handed and adjusted the size before tugging it on. As Illya passed, he handed him a second gun, the metal still cool. Napoleon would be loathed to admit that he missed the feeling those restrictive bits of leather, that familiar weight beneath his arm, but at the same time, there was a comfort to it as well and he acknowledged it as he pulled on his own jacket. For just a moment, time slid back and they were just two agents, heading out to save the world, grab a little excitement and feel alive. The surge of adrenaline gushed up from his toes and he smiled thinly at the sensation.
"You too?" Illya asked as he led the way out the front door this time and to the garage. A trio of motorcycles was parked there and Illya handed Napoleon a helmet. "Remember how to ride or do you want to double up?"
He pulled on aviator sunglasses before settling his own helmet in place. Napoleon easily mounted the motorcycle and kick started it. "Nice," he said as he ran a hand over the gas tank.
"They're my one real concession to capitalism. It's really the best way to get around up here." Illya followed suit, then he roared away with Napoleon close on his heels.
Pulling up in front of the small bar, Napoleon noted with a practiced eye that half a dozen motorcycles were parked there, even though it was not yet even noon.
"Do you have a plan?"
"That would be helpful, yes," Illya admitted. "I prefer to play it by ear. Watch my back, partner."
"Wouldn't have it any other way." Napoleon parked the bike, pulled off the helmet and climbed off.
Illya walked into the bar, carrying himself as would a man half his age. Glancing around, he spotted the bikers hovering around a pool table. Not really playing, just staking their territory. Eight to one, not the best of odds in a fight, but with Napoleon in his corner, the odds were definitely in his favor. He nodded tightly to the bartender and headed towards the pool tables.
Napoleon took up position, near the door, but not too far away should his services be needed. He had a feeling that Illya could still handle himself as well as he used to in a fight.
Illya walked up to the obvious leader and regarded him from behind the sunglasses. He just stood there, watching until one of the bikers broke from the pack and approached him.
"You got a problem, man?" The biker was tall, well built and was obviously used to letting his body argue the point for him.
"Yes, you met a friend of mine last night." Illya let his Russian accent out with all its glory. He pulled off his sun glasses and regarded the man coldly as he tucked them into a breast pocket. It did his heart good to see the man fall back a step just from that glare alone. It had taken him many years to cultivate that look, honing it until it carried just the right amount of threat and promise of delivery. Then abruptly, the leader remembered that he was, in fact, the leader and shook himself free of the blue-eyed stare.
"That little pecker?" The bikers laughed amongst themselves. "Yeah, we met his face several times. So what's it to you? You a little faggot too?"
Illya's hand darted out and caught the man's palm between his thumb and forefinger. The man suddenly twitched, his face lost its color and he groaned in pain. Squeezing deliberately, Illya spoke quietly, the words thick with threat. "Perhaps, but I prefer the label my government gave me instead—KGB assassin."
"What?" One of the other bikers took a step forward and Illya repositioned himself to keep the lead biker between him and them.
"You people are not wanted here. We do not need or desire your presence. Do you understand me?" When the man remained silent, Illya applied more pressure and the biker dropped to his knees, keening in pain. "I said do you understand me, comrade?"
"Yeah, whatever you say, man."
"You will get on your bikes and you will leave now—da?" He released the pressure and the man collapsed to the floor only to bounce up a moment later, fists ready. Illya blocked the first punch, rolled with the second and came back with a powerhouse to the big man's midsection. A second man stepped in and Illya dropped him with a kick.
Napoleon wandered over to the bar so that he could get a better look at the action.
"Your friend's quite the trouble maker," the bartender said, looking as if he was ready to bolt for a safe spot.
"You have no idea," Napoleon murmured, stepping aside as a body came flying towards him to crash into the mahogany of the bar. He grabbed the man in passing and smacked his head hard against the edge of the bar and the biker sagged to the floor.
One of the other men had gotten a lucky punch in and knocked Illya down, but he scissored his legs up, trapped the man between them and flipped him neatly onto a table. Illya jumped up and stopped as the biker leader danced close to him, a knife in hand.
"Okay, so you can fight, faggot, can you bleed?" He jabbed the knife in Illya's direction and Illya stepped back, pulling the P-38 free of its holster. He leveled it at the man's forehead and smiled.
"That would be quite unhealthy to you to contemplate, comrade." The biker backed up as did his compatriots.
"You can't shoot me in front of everyone, man, that's murder. It's against the law."
"My people would consider it, instead, justifiable homicide. Besides, what are you doing to do? Deport me? I'm not even officially here." He swung the gun in a half arch, pointing it at each of the bikers before returning to the leader. "You will leave now." Illya stood back as the group shifted, considered its options and wisely began to head for the door where Napoleon had taken up position again.
Just as they drew even, one biker slid a small hand gun out of his pocket and was about to take aim when he realized there was a much larger gun pointed at his chest. "Nyet," Napoleon said his own accent a fair imitation of Illya's. "Do as my friend asks. Don't make me shoot you completely dead." He followed them out the door.
Illya grinned and tucked the P-38 back into his shoulder holster before approaching the bar. A highball glass filled with a clear liquid appeared by his hand and he considered it for a moment before lifting it.
"Nostrovia." He tossed the drink back, emptying the glass.
"Jez, Kuryakin, you had me going there for a minute. I wasn't even sure it was you at first. I've been trying to get them out of here for two days. Milt was scared to death of them."
"Milt is scared of his own shadow, especially during an election year." There was a 'pop' from outside and Frank took an involuntary step, but Illya held up his hand. "I suspect Napoleon just gave them a little encouragement to leave town all that much faster. Like most bullies, they are mostly hot air when you face them down."
Frank reached out and turned the Russian's face. "Well, one of them clocked you pretty good for being hot air." Illya shrugged. "I don't care what they say about you, Kuryakin, you got balls."
"And I know how and when to use them."
"What does your friend drink?"
A hip flask was passed over. "In case he's working up a thirst out there." Illya dropped it into his pocket, nodded, pulled on his glasses and walked out. Napoleon was sitting on his motorcycle, staring down the road after the bikers.
"Think we'll see them again?" he asked as Illya approached to mount his motorcycle.
"No, there are a dozen communities up here. They'd just find another one and set up shop there." He passed over the scotch. "Frank said thanks."
"What about you, you ungrateful cur?"
"I prefer to do my thanking in the privacy of my own home." Illya smiled. "Let's go home, partner."
Illya leaned back in the tub and smiled as arms enveloped him. The cast iron bathtub was a bit old fashioned, but it was deep, it held two comfortably and it was a most pleasant way to spend a lazy summer afternoon. He had dinner, a lamb stew, simmering on the stove and nothing more pressing than whiling away a few hours.
Napoleon stroked his fingers through the wet curls on Illya's chest, fingering a small medallion that hung there. "You still wear this?"
"It was the first piece of jewelry you ever gave me. Took me all of half an hour to discover the homing device in it, but yes, it reminds me of happier times."
"Happier than this?" Napoleon asked, rubbing the side of his face against Illya's head, burying his nose into his hair. Damn, what an aphrodisiac that hair was for him.
"I'm not, you know." Napoleon reached for a wine glass, took a drink of the crisp Chardonnay and offered the glass over to Illya
"Have you perhaps considered your current position within the frame work of that declaration?" Illya set the glass back down on the hamper and looked over his shoulder at the man.
"You're the only man I've ever looked at, Illya. The only one I've ever wanted." He nuzzled an ear. "I love you and would, no matter what or who you are. Had you been a woman, we'd probably have been married by now and had a dozen kids."
"If you think I'd lose my figure to you, you're living in a make believe world."
"I'm serious, Illya. I'd love you if you were a goat." Napoleon wrapped his arms protectively around Illya, holding him close.
"That's an attractive image." A pause, "I love you, too, always have. I blame it on that insufferable animal magnetism of yours." He sighed and then changed gears. "What were we talking about this morning before we were so rudely interrupted? Oh yes, you were maligning my bookkeeping skills."
"So I was. But I was serious, Illya, you need someone who knows their way around a balance sheet."
"And are you offering your services?" Illya hesitated and then plowed on before his nerve could leave him. "You saw the books, so you know I can't pay you, but I could provide you room and board."
It took Napoleon a full five seconds to realize what was being presented to him and a grin slowly worked across his lips. "Why, Mr. Kuryakin, are you asking me to move in with you?"
"Would you even consider it?"
"I don't need to, not for a second. Of course I would, in a heartbeat, in a New York minute, whichever is faster."
Illya had started to turn in the tub when there was a tap on the bathroom door. "It might as well be Grand Central Station here," he muttered. "Come in, Matt."
"Are you sure?" The voice from the other side was hesitant. "I'm guessing you're not alone in there."
"He's got that right," Napoleon murmured into an ear.
"Come in, Matt. I refuse to talk through a closed door. There had been far too many of them in my life." The redhead entered, his cheeks pinking at the sight of the two in the bathtub. "What? It's not like you haven't seen me naked before."
"But not like that, cara." Matt turned his back to them as Illya climbed for the tub and secured a towel around his waist. Illya pointed a finger at Napoleon, who was starting to stand.
"You stay there. I will be right back." Illya grabbed Matt and dragged him from the bathroom.
"What did you need, Matt?"
"A cold shower after that, cara. Do you have any idea how sexy you are?"
"Stop and make your point or I will throw you out." Illya grabbed his arm to make good his threat.
"I just wanted to let you know that I just heard from Milt. Seems Rancho Marietta police picked up a gang of bikers. They're being held on a variety of outstanding warrants. What puzzled Milt was that the bikers kept going on about some KGB assassins who had hunted them down. You wouldn't know anything about that, would you, cara?"
"Me? Do I look like a KGB assassin?" Illya's eyes widened with blue eyed innocence.
"You look like an angel; that's the problem." Matt's eyes drifted down to the red welt across Illya's stomach, gratis of a pool cue. "But I somehow don't think that Napoleon did that, nor did he bruise your mouth like that."
"Matt, go back to Rocky, give him some TLC and get some rest." Illya took a step back towards the bathroom. "Oh, I offered Napoleon the bookkeeping job. I'm sorry I didn't ask you first, but the moment seemed right."
"He knows the pay is horrible?"
"He doesn't need the money. He's one of the idle rich of the world."
"Nice work if you can get it." Matt turned and headed for the stairs.
"Providing you can still walk and all, I'll see you on Wednesday then, cara?"
Illya watched the man move away and hoped Matt remembered to lock the door behind him. He paused and then made sure the small house was secure. He even took the phone off the cradle as he passed it. There was nothing that was going to further interrupt his afternoon plans and he smiled happily. Yes, Illya Kuryakin was happy and for now, that was enough.