The Last of the Great Euphemisms
Disclaimer: Not mine, though the chopsticks might be.
Not for the first time, I have managed to coax my partner back to my apartment with the promise of free take-out. I'm probably crazy to treat him this way—he eats enough to feed an army, and no matter what privations he may have suffered in the past, he can certainly afford to feed himself now. So why do I indulge him? Simple: I am addicted to watching Illya eating noodles.
Yup, I know. It's not the sort of thing you admit. Which I guess is why I haven't told him. I just go on feeding him, and I get take-out for two reasons: first, it means I can watch him without worrying that anyone else might be paying attention to what I'm doing—he certainly isn't, put a bowl of food in front of that man and...; secondly, it means he'll be eating it out of one of those little cartons, which just adds to the pleasure. I can't tell anyone else, so I'll describe it to you while he eats.
When Illya picks up a carton, his hand seems to engulf it. I always forget how big his hands are. His chopsticks, which he insists on using, look so tiny and fragile in his other hand.
He plunges the chopsticks deep into that carton and gives them a firm little flick, I guess it separates the noodles he's got from the others. Then they come up, all in a bunch—no twirling them round the sticks, and he pushes the lot into his mouth. That's pretty standard, I guess, but what's really hard to get across is the exact way he does it. He watches the noodles as they approach his mouth, but then, once they get there his eyes leave them, they go all unfocused and he's already thinking about the next time, the next forkful. So he winds up looking pensive while he chews. It's an illusion, I don't suppose he's really thinking about anything much, but the look slays me. Combine it with the odd bit that goes astray, that he pushes back between his lips with a knuckle, and I could watch him all day.
It's the end I like the best though, now, after he's finished shovelling in what he can. He's left with the bits at the bottom, a load of picky bits of vegetable or egg, and a few long noodles that escaped him earlier. Suddenly his focus is back, he stares down those noodles like he's sighting them with his Special. He moves the carton that much further away from his head, and now the chopsticks go in like a pair of tweezers—it's Illya the scientist, reaching for the strand of hair that will give the game away. He picks these last noodles up at one end, and only puts the very tips into his mouth.
Actually, I know he doesn't do this when he's eating in public, but he does it in front of me. I don't know whether it's just that I'm his friend and he knows he can get away with playing with his food in front of me; or whether he actually realises that I pay for his meal solely to watch this. Either way, he's doing it now and I should be utterly ashamed of myself for the reaction I get from my body.
He eats these last few noodles classically. He puts as little as he can of the end in between his lips, just enough to grip, then his lips compress down to a tight little pucker, just wide enough for the noodle, and he sucks. He doesn't even give himself a little air-space, so he has to suck so hard he turns slightly pink. That is charming in itself, but on top of that, the speed of the noodle causes it to flick as the end approaches his lips, and it invariably wraps itself briefly around his nose or his chin. If it's his chin, he wipes it with his finger. I live for it being his nose, because when it's his nose, it startles him, every time, and I get to see that boss-eyed, confused look as his gaze flicks to the end of his nose. Then he gets disgruntled because he doesn't like the feeling of the sauce up his nostrils, and he wrinkles it up.
Then when it's all over, he licks his lips. That's all I'm going to say about that.
Number one: it's against the rules to be in love with your partner. Number two: it's against the rules to be in love with another man, let's face it. Number three: it is not against the rules to watch that man eat. I don't know what Illya's views are on any of that, but, luckily for me, he invests so much concentration in his eating, that I, Napoleon Solo, can get away with murder, that is, get away with the third one, and take my mind, for a while at least, off the first two.
He's finished. Dammit. I give you the end of another evening's fantasy.
'Hm?' Ah, he's talking, better drag my concentration back to reality, I guess.
'Oh. My pleasure.'
'Napoleon...' He sounds quizzical.
'When are you going to get bored with watching me eat noodles?'
'Uh...' Oh help, I can feel the heat rising in my cheeks, making it clear as crystal that he's caught me out. What kind of agent blushes on command? It's not even worth denying it now.
'Why?' he asks. Why does he have to ask that? I can't answer him, but I think he knows that. He's looking at me very shrewdly. I've caught him doing it a few times before, but I didn't realise it meant he'd guessed. I only wish I knew what his views were on... this sort of thing. Sometimes I get the feeling he might... but human brains are very good at providing evidence for the answer they want to get, so I'm not about to jump to conclusions. I could be horribly, horribly wrong. I have been once or twice in the past.
He's got the strangest look on his face now, like he's trying to make a decision about something, it's making my toes curl inside my slippers. His mouth is open, fractionally, as if he's got something to say, but doesn't quite have the nerve to do it. But his eyes are narrowing, the determined Illya look I know too well. Whatever he says now, it's going to be the beginning, or the end of something incredible, because that man there is my partner, and he only says things that matter, and he says everything in such a way that you always know he means them absolutely. He's raising one eyebrow:
'Want to be a noodle?'