Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad. ~Norm Papernick
Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open. ~John Barrymore
Indeed, man wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible. ~St. Augustine
We must laugh before we are happy, for fear of dying without having laughed at all. ~Jean de La Bruyere
Obviously none of them had been squatting in a swamp for the past four hours, having scum oozing its way into their boots, underwear, and anything else it could get into while watching through binoculars as their partner drank champagne and ate caviar.
It's just Napoleon's luck, Illya thought, swatting a mosquito. This one wasn't quite as lucky as his compatriots. It didn't get a bellyful of vintage Kuryakin or bragging rights. It ended up a smear on the back of Illya's neck. And five more were waiting to take its place, buzzing around him, attracted to the trickle of blood oozing down Illya's temple.
The whining around his ears was the least of his complaints, and he had many of them. His face ached from the beating he'd received while in the compound. He'd managed to subdue his foe after beating the man's fist senseless with his face. Illya would have smirked at that point, but his jaw ached, his eye ached and it felt like there was something moving though his underwear. Illya prayed it was something harmless... like a snake and not a canduri fish. A person only has to have one of those dug out of his penis to remember the experience for a life time.
The thought may Illya wiggled and readjust his squatting position. He stood, now only knee high in the muck, batted away the mosquitoes and took the opportunity to relieve his bladder and his mind. No canduri, just a leech. This time he did grin. Most men would not be delighted to find a leech where he did, but it truly was the lesser of two evils in this case.
The calm of mind and body restored, Illya resumed watch of the building. It looked as if the party was starting to wrap up. THRUSH officials were being led away and Illya focused all of his attention now upon Napoleon, waiting for the signal.
His senses started to thrum now that some action was close to hand. He might not get to dine and drink well tonight, but he would have his own form of enjoyment.
Napoleon stopped and looked directly at him, although how Napoleon knew where Illya was hiding was a mystery. Napoleon smiled, adjusted his tie, and then patted a man on the back as they walked away.
Illya began a slow count. He had to be sure Napoleon was far enough from the building. He watched as the cars pulled away; one lingered behind and Illya frowned. Was that Napoleon's vehicle? He couldn't be sure, but he also knew he couldn't wait. If he delayed, THRUSH would launch their latest weapon upon an unsuspecting world.
What cost, the life of one good man verses that of many innocents? Illya's finger twitched with indecision and he closed his eyes. Once, just once, it would be nice if the Fates turned in his direction. He hit the detonation button and the building started to shake as if it was having a seizure before a mighty rumble heralded the blast's escape.
Even from a mile away, Illya could feel the force of the blast. Waverly had been very succinct in his instructions—nothing was to be left. Illya had taken him at his word. The building was a pile of rubble, half burying the car that had lingered behind.
Illya's stomach dropped as the secondary charges went. There was nothing he could do; not a force on earth could have saved whoever was in the car.
Illya sat in the darkness that had been their shared hotel room. Now it was just him. He'd sped away from the site the moment it became evident that nothing was left of the building or any of the people inside.
Illya had prayed that Napoleon would be in the room, complaining about Illya's lack of decorum by not having changed out of the muck streaked clothes. Only the stillness of an empty room greeted him. He'd sunk to a chair in front of the window and shut down. Illya had performed his task as it had been ordered and all it had cost him was the life of his best friend, his partner.
It hurt to think, it hurt to breathe, it hurt to imagine a world without Napoleon in it. He wondered bleakly if Napoleon even knew how he felt, really felt. Doubtful; Napoleon was not one to let his bed get cold for long. So, the worst had happened and it had been proven to Illya that there was no merciful God in existence. If that had been the case, surely he would have been allowed to die, too.
So lost was he in his maudlin state that he didn't even hear the soft foot falls as Napoleon approached him. He didn't see Napoleon bend close and hesitate. His partner would know all too well what surprising Illya might result in. So, an arm's length away he stopped. Illya, in his trance, continued to stare ahead, oblivious that he was no longer alone.
"Illya? Illya? Hey, partner, are you okay?"
Slowly Illya's eyes blinked as the voice wormed its way into his consciousness. Even more slowly his head turned and he heard Napoleon gasp.
"Christ, Illya, what happened to—" Illya's kiss effectively cut Napoleon off and momentary surprise gave way to happy reciprocation.
"You're alive," Illya murmured softly.
"That kiss about killed me," Napoleon admitted slowly. "And you look like hell."
Illya smiled then. "And you look like paradise."
And it was.
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