Illya Kuryakin leaned against the bed's backboard and rubbed his fingertips against his temples. The concussion he'd gotten during their last mission plagued him days later. The local U.N.C.L.E. doctor had told him to expect frequent headaches that would eventually lessen in severity and disappear. He was still waiting for that to happen. Until then, he would just have to deal with the pain. Anything that lessened his ability to function and operate at peak efficiency tended to make him cranky. He scowled and rubbed harder.
Napoleon Solo, his partner and section head, emerged from the bathroom in a cloud of steam. He toweled at his dark dripping head and watched Illya try to will another headache away. He'd had a disturbing number of them lately but did not complain to Solo. Napoleon knew the proud Russian would never volunteer any personal information, and he'd respected that and not pressed the issue. But he hated to see his friend in pain just the same. He stood in the doorway and listened to the small groans of pain that Illya made; thinking Solo was still in the shower.
Illya must have felt the change in the air temperature because he turned and saw Solo in the halo of light from the bath. His hands dropped and he leaned against the pillows. He hid his discomfort by growling out, "Another decadently long hot shower, Napoleon?"
Napoleon smiled and replied, "Yes, there is just no hope for me, Illya." Solo crossed to his side of the double and put on clean boxers and a t-shirt. He dug out a prescription bottle while he was dressing. There was a pitcher of water next to the ice bucket and he poured a glass. He took a deep breath and went back to Illya.
Kuryakin's cheeks were flushed and his respiration was up. His facial expression revealed none of the pain he was in. Nor did Solo expect him to tell him. He held the two white pills in the palm of his hand and raised his eyebrows at Illya. "Take these."
Illya shook his head. "Not that bad. It'll pass."
"It'll pass faster if you take what the doctor prescribed. These are muscle relaxants, not the morphine." Illya had a problem with pain meds: they tended to make things worse than better. Solo had learned not to try and force the issue. "You won't get better if you don't rest, Illya. We have tomorrow off until our flight. You can let down your guard down a bit, can't you?"
Kuryakin wanted to argue but the soreness in his head warred with his stubbornness. He knew Solo was right. He'd gotten scant sleep the last two nights, and he didn't want to be a liability to his partner. He growled low in his throat and held out his hand for the pills.
Solo was a bit surprised at the quick capitulation, but handed the medication over. Illya took the glass and swallowed them down in one quick toss. He grimaced as the movement jarred his already throbbing head.
Solo made a quick decision. What the hell, Illya was being as compliant as he'd ever seen him. "Lean forward." He crawled onto the bed and shimmied behind Illya, placing a pillow on his lap.
"What are you doing?" Illya tensed, his already frayed nerves jangling.
"Relax, Illya. It'll take a while for the drugs to kick in. I won't be able to sleep with you in knots. Just let me help if I can." He placed one hand on Illya's shoulder, feeling the tension in the stiff muscles. Solo pulled gently, levering Illya's body back into the pillow and propping him upright. He could feel the reluctance in every line of the inflexible back.
Solo started with a firm kneading of the bowed neck. Illya lowered his head as if in shame. Section two agents depended upon each other for their very lives, but their independent nature made them reluctant to accept help when injured or debilitated. Illya doubly so.
Napoleon stayed silent, knowing bantering at this stage would only made Illya more uncomfortable. Each muscle that loosened under his deft hands was testament to Illya's trust. He worked gently but relentlessly, stroking the unyielding flesh until it eased. Illya's head drooped forward until Solo was satisfied with his neck muscles. He started on the stiff shoulders next, eliciting small groans of pleasure and pain from his partner. He worked at kinks and knots as big as his knuckles until Illya was slack as a washrag. The drugs were kicking in and Illya slumped, allowing Solo to pull him back against his chest.
Napoleon placed his fingertips against Illya's temples, massaging and pressing on the acupressure points known to reduce pain. His head lolled onto Solo's shoulder, Illya nearly out for the count. His partner continued, smiling at the soft snoring coming from his friend. He was reluctant to move, not wanting to rouse Illya now that he was out of pain.
It felt strangely peaceful to have Illya slumped against him. His prickly and standoffish partner was a pickle sometimes, but the moments when Solo was allowed to get close to him made up for the surliness. He understood. It was hard in the spy business to allow anyone past the automatic defenses. Harder still to let them down completely.
Napoleon waited a few minutes more and then wrapped his legs around Illya's hips, rolling them both onto their sides. His partner did not stir. Another minute longer and Illya snored, rolling onto his stomach and allowing Solo to slip his arm and leg out. He covered them both with the spread and turned out the light.
Maybe letting someone inside your defense perimeter wasn't such a bad thing after all.
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