Entering at a Bad Time
Disclaimer: Surprise! They're not mine!
Napoleon took a deep breath and opened his eyes. He saw Illya's golden head moving above him, shining brightly against the blank wall with its single window. He could not believe that they were actually going to do this, after all these years. The possibility had arisen before, a few times. No, many times, truth be told, but they had never actually given in, had always found a way to avoid it. They were too good as partners, too good as friends, even, to take unnecessary risks. Even Waverly had hinted obliquely, if not directly, that he would rather they didn't.
However, this was the story of their lives: a series of moments when the yearning for the prize suddenly grew to outweigh the risks involved. And there was no doubt that the yearning for this particular prize was far too great now. Right now, this time, there were no other options open to them.
Napoleon knew that they had both done this before, but it had been years ago—for him, back during basic training, when he was young and reckless. For Illya—who knew? Maybe back in the Soviet Union. He didn't like to talk about those times very much, but he was clearly more experienced than Napoleon, he took the lead without even asking, he was confident, at ease, despite the overarching feeling of tension that still bubbled between them over the rightness of their decision, if you could call something so impromptu a decision.
Napoleon's foot got caught for an instant, snagging as he drew up his leg to find a better position, and he wished that he had had time to take off his shoes before they had started. It would have been easier, more comfortable. But they had been in such a rush, the urgency had overtaken them. Perhaps there would be a moment later on when he could take them off, maybe Illya would do it for him... but he knew even as he thought it that it would not happen. They were charging towards their goal now, and neither of them would stop until they reached that heady height and could let the adrenaline drop, take time to stop and think.
Napoleon's heart was hammering, his breathing already laboured. It wasn't that he was out of condition – after all, he got plenty of practice at this sort of thing, but this was more dangerous, more important, and it was sending the adrenaline rushing through him, pumping blood to the places where it was needed, intensifying his concentration, battling the fear. Because, frankly, he was terrified. He'd never tell Illya that. You didn't, did you? For all he knew, Illya was equally scared. In fact, it was pretty clear that Illya, reading him like a book as always, knew anyway. He was taking it as slowly as he could manage, holding himself back and making it as easy as possible for Napoleon, despite the air of haste and the unstoppable rush of desperation. He looked up at his partner, his friend, the best friend he'd ever had. If he lost him today because of this... But he couldn't think like that. It was too late now. They had started this and it would have to be finished.
He had to get going in earnest now though. Illya was getting ahead of him, Napoleon could hear his breathing, deep and fast, above him, could see his muscles bulging with effort as he supported his weight with his arms. Napoleon gathered his courage and reached out, wrapping his hand around rock-hardness. He marvelled at the smoothness of it: for some reason, despite all his experience on his own, and with others, this time he had expected roughness. Idiotic really, when his eyes told him, screamed smoothness at him. He adjusted his grip, heard a grunt from Illya and pulled.
This was going to be easier than he had feared. Somehow it all came back to him, the moves, the subtleties. Intuitive, really. Neither of them made a sound, past the bare grunts of strenuous effort and a couple of breathy, terse instructions to change position, try something different, but neither of them really needed that. They knew each other too well, could read from their body language when there was a problem, or an improvement to be made.
Napoleon concentrated wholly on Illya, caught up to him, until suddenly he found that Illya was below him. He had let him take the lead, handed over control with that sure touch of certainty that had always made them so perfect together. The knowledge of that control made Napoleon's head spin for a moment, and his hands gripped tightly as he sought a greater feeling of security, at least until his mind could adjust to the idea. He reached out his hand, found what he was looking for. He hugged tighter and slipped two fingers easily into the hole. It was tight and a cold sweat ran down his back as he worked them in further, testing and making sure he was ready before he took the plunge.
He lined himself up carefully and pushed forward, triumph singing in his brain as he rocked back and pushed again, getting better purchase as he moved. Illya was panting below him and he grinned, the tension leaving him as he realised that they had really done it, this was it, and it had been worth it. Whatever happened now, this feeling was worth it. Yes, this was nothing like the end of it. They would have to deal with what came afterwards, but they were partners, they had been through tough situations before. They would get through the rest. He could see it, when he looked down, could see the determination, blazing through the strain on Illya's face.
He was nearly there, but he was running out of energy now and the adrenaline just couldn't carry him any more. He let out a strangled sob: he ached so much, needed it to be over now. Then Illya's hands were on his buttocks, and that was all he needed to push him over the edge.
He collapsed in a heap. Illya was hot on his heels and soon lay, panting, beside him, sweat pouring down his face, but smiling, his head tilted to look fondly at Napoleon.
'We did it,' he said, simply. Napoleon nodded and waited to get his breath back.
After a minute or two, Napoleon rolled over, sat himself up. and looked down at Illya.
'Never again,' he said. 'I don't care if the entire apparatus of THRUSH's most devilish project is in here for the taking. I am never free soloing a sheer fortress wall again. I could have fallen any of a hundred times, so could you. Next time we send for back-up and get ourselves parachuted in.'
'There wasn't time, and you know it. The Commandant and his charming security team will be returning in less than an hour. Speaking of which, if you've recovered, we had better go and get that equipment safely out of here before he returns. I'm too exhausted for a fight I could easily avoid. Coming?'
'Yup. After a climb like that, I think we should both get this done, get home, and then go straight to bed.
Illya, unsurprisingly, agreed.