Napoleon Solo placed his large coffee on his planner and frowned at the empty desk across from his. When Illya Kuryakin had become his permanent partner, Solo'd invited him to share the office he had as CEA. It was large enough for two desks, and they spent enough time in each other's offices to make it a logical progression.
Today it was very quiet and he buzzed his secretary. "Mitzi, have you heard from Illya this morning?"
"Mr. Kuryakin called in sick an hour ago, Mr. Solo."
Solo's eyebrows crawled toward his hairline. Illya'd never voluntarily taken a sick day in all the years he'd known him. Hell, he had tried to walk out of every hospital admittance no matter how badly he was hurt.
"Are we talking about the same man?" Solo asked incredulously.
"Uh, slight, blond, gorgeous blue eyes, very nice a—"
"Mitzi!" Napoleon exclaimed, shocked.
"Oh, Napoleon, I was going to say 'nice accent' is all." He could hear the giggle underneath her voice trying to get out.
"Behave yourself, young lady." He looked at his appointment book. "Would you be a dear and change my meeting with Donnell to Monday afternoon?"
"Three o'clock all right?"
"Fine, fine, thanks."
He gathered his coat and coffee once again and left the silent office. Once past Mitzi he called, "I'll be out of the office indefinitely. I have my communicator, if you need me."
Mitzi knew exactly where he would be but didn't say so. Solo and Kuryakin were so close one might as well combine their names and save the time and effort of keeping them separate. She smiled and waved to her boss. "Tell Illya I hope he's feeling better soon."
Napoleon stopped and turned to her. "You realize you can never leave me, Mitzi. You know me too well..."
Her eyes sparkled at him as he smiled. "Don't worry, Napoleon. Your secrets are safe with me." She swiveled in her chair, her back to her boss when suddenly she was spun around. Napoleon was there, bending very near her.
"Are they, now, Mitzi?" He closed the remaining distance and kissed her, pulling her into him with his free arm. She closed her eyes, all but melting in the force of his devastating charm. He lingered on her lips, gently continuing the kiss, waiting for a sign to end it. Mitzi pulled back to breathe and looked into Solo's hazel-flecked brown eyes. She wondered if she could drown there.
Napoleon winked at her and then left in a wave of expensive aftershave. Mitzi sniffed and sighed. The things that man made her want to do...
Solo eased his coupe out of the garage and into the morning traffic. Illya's apartment was in Greenwich Village and it would take a while to get there. He glanced at the first aid kit sitting next to him on the other seat, hoping he wouldn't need it. Maybe his partner had gotten the flu bug that was going around. Napoleon had been out of town during the virus's crush, thereby missing it. He thought of scenarios that would keep Illya down and decided not to dwell on them.
The radio blared a traffic report, and Napoleon switched channels to a rock and roll station. The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" played its melancholy strains and Solo turned the radio off. His humor was gray and turning darker with each mile traveled.
The weather seemed to echo his mood as the threatening sky suddenly opened up, drenching the Village with large, fat drops of rain. His wipers could barely keep up with the deluge even on high. Sighing, he squinted through the steaming windshield, spotting Illya's building in the gloom. He circled the block and on the second circuit lucked into a parking spot. He eased his tiny car into the space, beating out a beatnik in a Beetle.
Grabbing yesterday's paper, he held it above his head and ran for the entryway. Once inside he tossed the soggy Times into the trash and started up the stairs to the fourth floor. Every time he visited Illya here he wished he lived on the ground floor. His shoes were wet and he slipped once on the slick stairs. Grumbling, he pulled open the door at the fourth landing.
The hallway was deserted but he checked anyway. A spy could never be too careful. Satisfied, he went to Illya's door and rang the bell. After the third time, he began to get really worried. He pulled a keychain out of his pocket and used his spare key. He knew the code so the alarm stayed silent as he cracked the door open. He pulled his Special smoothly as he took one measured step into the room. The storm cast a gloom across the small living room, although one desk lamp was on, keeping the dark from taking over completely.
He listened carefully before moving again. Music called softly from Illya's bedroom, and the shower was running behind the closed bathroom door. He breathed a sigh of relief, knowing Illya simply hadn't heard the doorbell.
He holstered the weapon, dropped the first aid kit on the floor, removed his dripping coat, and sat in one of the kitchen chairs. There was tea still hot in the cozy so he helped himself to a cup. He grimaced with the first sip. Jelly; mint, by the taste of it. Russians drank some very vile stuff. It was hot and he drank it anyway.
He was nearly done when the door to the bath opened, steam billowing out to dissipate in the cooler air of the hallway. Illya emerged, dabbing his wet hair lethargically, another towel wrapped around his slim waist. Light behind him highlighted his body and Solo sucked in a breath.
Illya started at the sound, hand going for a gun that wasn't there. He relaxed immediately when he saw his American partner. The Russian frowned and tried to cover his shoulders with the towel in his hands casually. A bit too casually...
Solo walked slowly to him and let out a whistle. Illya hung his head. He was covered in bruises that were more red than purple. Fresh, as fresh as last night, Napoleon thought. He gently took the towel from Illya's upper body and gasped despite himself. Lash marks cut cruelly across the pale flesh of his shoulders and lumbar area. The damage continued down to the line of the towel.
Napoleon helped his partner to his bed, settling him carefully on his side. He turned on the lamp and took a closer look. Illya's face was puffy and both eyes were blackened. He had a split lower lip and a deeper gash above his left eyebrow. Kuryakin had applied butterfly stitches to the gash. He tried not to moan as he lay on the bed. His ribs were covered in livid flesh and his arm curled around them protectively.
"I'm calling an ambulance right now." Solo reached for the phone and was brought up short by the panic in his unflappable partner's voice.
"No, Napoleon! Please..."
The desperation in his words seeped into Solo's awareness. Illya never panicked. "What happened?" he asked gently, easing down next to the Russian.
"You don't want to know, Napoleon. Please trust me on this."
Napoleon shook his head. "Who did this to you, Illya? And how?" Solo couldn't think of many situations where Illya would be this vulnerable.
Kuryakin turned his face away. "I did it to myself, Napoleon. Now, please, go."
Solo stood, becoming angry. He wanted to hurt whoever did this, needed to hurt them back. "Like hell I will. I want to know what happened, and I want to know now, partner."
Illya was silent so long, Solo wondered if he'd passed out. He heard him sigh mournfully and roll painfully onto his back, where he stared at the ceiling. It must have hurt Illya dreadfully to lie on his back, but it afforded him some distance.
"I called in sick because I couldn't go to Medical."
Illya closed his eyes and pleaded quietly. "Napoleon, please. I'll be all right. A few days and I'll be able to come back to work. I have plenty of sick days coming."
"That's not the point and you know it. You could have internal injuries, broken ribs, or worse." Napoleon frowned as he tried to get through to his stubborn Soviet.
Illya coughed, trying not to curl into a ball as the pain in his ribs lanced across his sides. Solo was there in a flash, helping him to ride it out. After the worst passed, Napoleon knelt beside the bed and ran professional hands across Illya's collarbone, sternum, and down his ribs, probing for fractures. Illya hissed once or twice but gave no other sign of his discomfort.
"Definitely cracked ribs, here and here. I don't know if they're broken." Illya's abdomen was flat, no signs of swelling or internal bleeding. Solo took a small flashlight from his suit jacket. "Look at me." He shone the light into each blue eye, checking the pupil's response to light. "No concussion. That's good."
"I told you I was all right."
"No, Illya, you're not all right. You've been beaten and whipped viciously and you won't tell me how it happened." Solo sat in a chair next to the bed. "I'm not leaving until I know the whole story. Why won't you let me take you in?"
Illya's face fell and he looked anywhere but at Solo. "Because I can't risk a medical exam, Napoleon."
"I don't understand—"
"It would go into my medical records."
"Illya, you're not making sense. What would go into your records?"
Illya's voice barely registered in the small room as he whispered, "I was... penetrated, Napoleon."
Oh, no, no, Illya... Solo thought. He shuddered at the revelation, feeling it viscerally. "Illya, I'm sorry, so sorry." He took a deep breath before continuing. "Rape is a medical consideration, not something to hide and be ashamed of."
Illya shook his head, his wet hair flopping into his eyes. "I was off duty, Napoleon, not on a case, not on a mission."
"That doesn't matter, Illya. You were attacked. You were... raped."
"Some might not see it like that."
"What are you talking about?"
"Napoleon, you don't..." He stopped and tried to turn over again, the pain seeming to stop him in his tracks. Solo helped him and saw the agony in Illya's eyes.
"Have you taken anything for the pain?" The shaggy head shook once. Solo went to his bag and returned with two pills and a glass of water. "Take these." He helped support Illya's head as he swallowed.
After an uncomfortable silence, Solo prodded, "You were saying?"
"I went to Soho last night, to a bar. I was lonely; it was a stupid thing to do."
"Why? Everyone gets lonely, Illya. Being human isn't a flaw."
"But an operative putting himself in a situation like that is. I should have just paid for it, pathetic as that sounds. Next time I will."
Solo grunted softly. Illya looked at him. "You don't have to go to a bar or pay for it, my friend. You can have your pick of any woman at HQ. They hang all over you; you have to have noticed?"
Illya's face closed down to a blank mask as he answered. "It was a gay bar."
Solo's world rocked on its axis as he tried not to let it register on his face. He almost succeeded. Illya saw the look and turned away. "You see, Napoleon? That is why I can't go to Medical."
The American tried to get himself under control. He did not want to add insult to injury. "I... just wasn't expecting this, Illya. You have to admit it came out of left field. I never suspected..."
"That I was queer? A faggot? Light in the loafers?" Illya supplied the words that Solo was looking for. "I can see your face, Napoleon. If you reacted this way, how can you reproach me for not wanting others to know?"
"There are other homosexuals in U.N.C.L.E., Illya. We don't discriminate on sexual preferences."
"And how many of them are Russian Soviets, Napoleon?"
Solo swallowed before answering, "Touché." He began to understand Illya's predicament. "You're right, Illya. I can only try to walk in your shoes. You have to wear them."
Another long silence stretched between them. Illya cleared his throat before venturing further. "Is this something you can handle, Napoleon? Or do you want to put in for another partner?"
Solo looked at Illya, stung by the question. The hurt must have shown in his brown eyes for Illya looked away and said, "I'm sorry. But I have no idea how this will affect the way we work together."
"It hasn't affected anything so far, partner." Solo stressed the word deliberately.
"Yes, but that was before you knew. You can't tell me you weren't affected by my admission."
Napoleon felt ashamed by his reaction and told Illya the truth. "You just surprised me, Illya. I'm sorry for reacting so badly. It takes a lot to shock me, you know." He smiled for the first time since he'd arrived.
Illya returned a small smile of his own. The drugs were beginning to take effect and his words were slurring. Solo hoped the pain was receding. Illya's eyelids were definitely getting heavy.
"So are you going to tell me what really happened?"
Illya sighed and closed his eyes. "I tried to pick up the wrong guy. I must have been lonelier than I thought to let my guard down like that. He put something in my drink, and by the time I realized what he'd done it was too late to do anything. He took me to his apartment and..." Illya stopped, too ashamed and too tired to continue.
Solo placed a hand on one shoulder and said, "It's all right, Illya. We'll worry about it all later. Get some sleep."
Napoleon sat in the chair and waited until Illya was deeply asleep. He covered him with a blanket and brushed the drying hair away from the cut on his forehead. "Loneliness makes you do stupid things, my friend. I know from experience..."
Solo called in and told Mitzi he wouldn't be back to the office. Since it was Friday, he had the weekend to see how Illya bounced back and then he could decide what to do on Monday. Sometimes, it was good to be the boss.
He watched Illya as he slept and wondered anew at his enigma of a partner. Now that he knew, he was getting over the initial shock. Looking back, he could see the clues were there, but he'd never pulled them all together. Some spy I am, he groused.
All he could do now was to reassure Illya that it wouldn't matter, that he could deal with this as easily as Illya's being Russian, or his tendency to be cranky, or all the other traits that just made him Illya. Just another thing to add to the list. Solo snorted softly. He didn't think his stubborn partner would be so easily convinced of that. So be it; Solo could be as stubborn as Illya when need be.
While the Russian slept, Solo checked his medical supplies. He had plenty of pain pills, and sighed in relief when he found the packet of antibiotics. Illya's back looked bad, and he thought it might be getting infected. Solo would take care of it when Illya woke fully. There was a tube of analgesic cream as well that would do the trick. Pleased he wouldn't have to go back to HQ for supplies, Napoleon rummaged around in the dusty and barren cupboards. True to form, there was little food in Illya's tiny kitchen. Napoleon shook his head and called the nearest greengrocer. He placed a large order and asked for delivery. At least he'd make sure Illya was well fed this weekend.
Feeling a bit guilty, Solo called Mitzi and had her messenger over the reports on his desk. He could get some of the paperwork piling up on his desk sorted out while Illya slept.
Solo was poking through Kuryakin's record collection when the doorbell rang. Ever cautious, he slipped to the side of the door and then checked the peephole. It was a skinny kid wearing a Manny's apron. He opened the door and helped him bring the boxes to the kitchen table. Solo paid the bill and gave the boy a generous tip.
After the door was once more secured, Napoleon placed a record on the turntable. He didn't ordinarily share Illya's taste in music, but he found an album he liked among the jazz classics. He sat back on the couch as Nancy Sinatra began singing about her boots.
The doorbell chimed again and he sighed. He'd just gotten comfortable, too. Checking the fish-eye, he recognized one of the couriers from Section Five. Solo took the "Eyes Only" packet he carried and signed for it. "Thanks, Paul."
"No problem, Mr. Solo. I was on my way out for lunch anyway." He saluted with an index finger and moved off down the hall.
Lunch. Napoleon's stomach rumbled and he realized he hadn't eaten breakfast either. He peeked in on Illya, but he was sleeping soundly.
After ransacking the grocery bags, he decided on cold-cuts on sweet Italian bread — a "Dagwood," one of Illya's favorite snacks. Kuryakin's sandwiches always towered over Napoleon's. The man could pack it away, he thought amusedly.
He brewed a fresh pot of coffee and waited for it to percolate. It gave him time to plan what he was going to do to the pervert that violated his partner and best friend. Solo would find the bastard and make him wish he'd never set eyes on a certain Russian. His hand was clenched around the handle of a butter knife hard enough to cause a muscle spasm in his thumb. He dropped the knife on the counter and took deep breaths, shaking the cramp out of his hand. His quick mind had already decided how he would return Illya's compliments to the rapist. He smiled, but his eyes were not glittering with good humor.
The pot was done brewing and he poured a steaming cup. Strong and black, the way he liked it. He never understood why people diluted the perfect drink with sugar or creamer. Sitting at the cramped kitchenette, he chewed his sandwich, lost in thought. He had a lot to think about where his partner was concerned. Solo finished the sandwich and the coffee and cleaned up the leavings. He pulled the file packet and set it on the table. One of his most recent cases was on top. He figured he might as well start on it as any other.
Hours later, Solo had gone through four reports, dotting i's and crossing t's with his usual accuracy. He'd gone through Nancy, Herb Alpert, one Dylan and a Baez by then. He was just starting on the last case when he heard a shuffling sound from the hallway.
Illya was making his painful way to the bathroom. Solo squelched his natural inclination to help his partner and stayed seated. Illya nodded to him and muttered a greeting. Sweat pants had replaced the towel but he was still bare-chested. Napoleon figured it hurt too damned much to wear a shirt. He put the report down and waited Illya out. A few moments later, he reappeared, eyes bloodshot but slightly less puffy than earlier. He walked past Solo and sat stiffly at the kitchen table. "Coffee..." he mumbled hopefully.
Napoleon got him a cup and placed it in front of him. He stared at it for a minute and then placed a shaking hand around the bowl. After a sip or two he sighed and sat back, but not far enough to touch his tender back to the chair. Napoleon gently lifted Illya's chin and looked into his eyes. They were glassy but somebody was still home.
"Sleep well?" he asked. He touched the coffee cup, prodding Illya to drink some more.
"Did I have much choice?"
Solo smiled. Illya was always a bear when he was sleepy and worse when he was drugged. "You needed the rest, tovarishch. How do you feel now?"
Illya tried to stretch and only succeeded in pulling the skin on his back painfully. He bit his lip and grimaced. "Shaken, not stirred."
Solo laughed at the joke and went to get the kit. "Your sense of humor is coming back. That's a good sign." He dropped into the chair next to Illya and placed two more pills in his hand. Illya gave them a baleful look until Solo explained they were only antibiotics. "Your back looks infected. Swallow those and let me check you out."
Illya seemed too tired to argue and took the medication without a fight. Solo came back from the bathroom with a washcloth and retrieved a bowl of warm water from the kitchen. He put a squirt of antiseptic into the water and began to carefully cleanse the lash marks across Illya's skin. Most of the cuts were beginning to close over but a few were angry-looking and oozing cloudy serum. Illya flinched once or twice but remained silent during the treatment. Napoleon finished by smearing a light layer of analgesic cream over the broken flesh, carefully working it into the abused areas.
He tapped Illya gently on the shoulder. "All done." He placed a hand against Illya's forehead before he could pull back. "You've got a fever. Not too bad yet. I don't want to give you any aspirin with all the bruising you have, though. Let's give the penicillin time to work first." Illya remained slumped in the chair, unresponsive for the most part.
"Are you hungry? I got some groceries. Soup? Sandwich? Tea?"
Illya shook his head. "My stomach is a bit unsettled."
"How about some toast then? You shouldn't have coffee and pills on an empty stomach."
"All right, Mother." Illya grinned half-heartedly at Solo. He went to make toast and got out the butter and jelly. While Illya ate, he kept the banter going.
"I had some work brought over to keep me busy. I've taken over your living room."
"And my record collection, I see." Illya looked disapprovingly at the haphazard way Solo had put them away. Nancy Sinatra's "Boots" was before Herb Alpert. He shook his head in disgust.
Illya managed to eat the toast before he nodded off, almost falling into his coffee cup. Solo caught him and steered him back to bed. He put him on his stomach, leaving the cuts on his back to the open air. Illya's skin still felt warm to the touch, but his fever was no worse. Hopefully, he could sleep it off. Solo was buoyed by the fact that Illya looked and felt better, had no vomiting or other symptoms of worse injuries.
He left the bedroom door open and went to the bathroom. He tidied up Illya's leavings and dumped the dirty towels in the hamper. He'd have to do some laundry over the weekend. At some point he'd have to go home and pack a bag. Napoleon hated wearing the same clothes two days in a row.
Solo sat on the couch once again and began the last report. He'd be very glad to finish it. Leaving things undone niggled at him. It was one of the things that made him a good CEA. He heard a snore coming from the bedroom and smiled.
Napoleon stretched and placed the last report in the packet and sealed it. He made some canned stew and decided to reward his good behavior with a Knicks game. Illya had a small black and white television set in the living room, though he rarely watched it. Solo wheeled it closer to the couch and turned it on. He fiddled with the rabbit ears until the reception cleared. The Knicks were playing the Celtics. It should be a good game, he thought. He kept the volume low but knew Illya could sleep through a tornado. Enjoying himself, he relaxed on the couch and fixed a snack of chips and beer at halftime. The Knicks were way ahead by the third quarter and Solo dozed, waking up just in time to see the final score. He shook his dark head groggily. Might as well get ready for bed.
He checked his partner on his way to the bathroom. He showered and borrowed sweat pants and a t-shirt from Illya's bureau. They were snug but clean. Tomorrow he'd have to make a run to his own apartment for necessities. Napoleon hated waking Illya but it was time for his antibiotics. He knelt by the bed and gently shook Illya's shoulder speaking his name clearly.
Illya's head tossed and he cried out, "No! Don't touch me..." He tried to roll over and woke instantly. Solo recognized the disorientation. "Napoleon?" There was fear in his voice and Solo spoke rapidly.
"It's me, Illya. It's all right. You're safe. You're home. Remember?"
"Napoleon." Illya sounded so relieved to hear his partner's voice that Solo reached out to touch him, to let him feel his presence. He placed his hand on Illya's head gently then slid his palm over the high forehead. He frowned.
"You've still got a fever." Solo went to retrieve a thermometer and some water. He gave Illya the pills and made him drink the room temperature water. "You're getting dehydrated. Put this under your tongue." He waited three minutes and checked the reading. "100.5 — not too bad, but if it gets worse, you're seeing a doctor." He saw the look on Illya's face and held his hands out to stop the tirade. "Tell me the truth, Illya Nickovetch. Any pain in your gut?" The blond head shook 'no.' "Any blood in your stool or urine?" Again, a negative answer.
Solo scowled at his charge. "All right. You'd better tell me if anything at all changes, got me?" He went and made some tea, making Illya drink two cups before letting him drift off again. Napoleon covered him with a light blanket and then took linens for himself from the hall closet.
He put the television back in the corner and made the couch as comfortable as he could. Illya's fever worried him and he knew he'd be in for a fight if it wasn't down in the morning. The best thing to do was to get a good night's sleep in case he had to Illya-wrestle tomorrow. The sounds from the traffic below were as good as a lullaby as he drifted off listening to the strains of the city.
The shower woke him before his internal clock did. He heard Illya in the bathroom and stumbled bleary-eyed into the kitchen. He'd never been much good before his morning coffee. Once the pot was perking, he scrambled some eggs and made more toast and tea. Illya made his way to the table and sat heavily. He grunted a greeting and laid his head on the table.
Solo said, "Well, you look like crap. How do you feel?" He felt Illya's face, and was relieved that he seemed cooler. Solo shoveled eggs in front of Illya and gave him a cup of tea.
"I feel fine. And you look ridiculous in my clothes."
"I plan on fixing that after breakfast. I have to run home and pack a few things. Do you want anything while I'm out?"
"Yes. For you to stay home."
Napoleon chewed his eggs and bit into a wedge of toast. "My, my, aren't we cranky this morning?" He pointed to the plate with his fork. "Eat."
Kuryakin's stomach rumbled and signaled his hunger. He started on the toast and tea and worked up to the eggs. Food always managed to put him in a better mood. He grinned sheepishly at Solo and said, "I'm sorry, Napoleon. But you really don't have to stay with me anymore. As you can see, I'm much better. I can take care of myself."
Solo's eyes narrowed. "Uh huh." He looked into Illya's eyes. "Hold your hands out, palms down."
The Russian did as he was told. His hands shook despite his attempts to control them. He clenched them into fists and dropped them on his lap.
"You're barely upright, tovarishch. I'm not leaving you unprotected just yet. Yes, you are better but you still have a fever and your back needs treatment. So it's either me or the infirmary." Solo took antibiotics from the bag and rolled them to Kuryakin, who scowled once at him and then swallowed them. He finished his tea and held the cup up for a refill.
"Glad to see your stomach's back to normal." Napoleon tapped him on the shoulder. "Lean forward." Kuryakin sighed but complied. Solo did a quick check of the whip marks. They were drying up; even the infected ones looked better today. He swabbed ointment onto them and told Illya, "Much better. The infection is clearing. Your bruises are very pretty, too. I especially like the green ones."
Illya snorted, then winced as his ribs pulled. "So glad I can amuse you." He reached to Napoleon's plate and finished the last of the eggs. Solo watched with tolerant amusement. He always knew Illya was on the mend when he filched food from him.
Solo sat across the tiny table from the Russian. He was reluctant to start anything but knew the situation must be addressed. "Illya."
Kuryakin pushed his plate around, not meeting Solo's eyes.
Napoleon cleared his throat. "Look, I, ah, know this isn't easy for you to talk about, but we have to take care of a rather large loose end."
Kuryakin nodded, his cheeks flaming scarlet. "The man who attacked me."
Solo's face darkened with anger. "Much as I'd like to make it personal, the matter remains a security issue. If he finds out who you really are..."
Illya sighed. "I know, Napoleon."
Solo felt for the mortified agent. Bad enough he was humiliated once, now Solo had to rehash it detail by gruesome detail. Solo pushed on, wanting to get it out of the way to allow Illya to move forward. "I need to know where you went and how to find this... lowlife. Give me as much description as you can, anything you can remember."
Illya hung his head. Normally he would never divulge his intimate feelings in this way. "I went to a bar called Fireflies in Soho, on Prince Street. They have a good house jazz band and I wasn't really looking for... companionship." He stopped, embarrassed.
"Go on," Solo prodded.
"I saw some friends there, had a drink or two and listened to a couple of sets. I was really on my way out when a man came in that I'd never seen there or in the Village. I was paying my tab when he asked if he could buy me a drink. Usually I give them a look and they back off. This guy was different."
"How was he different?" Napoleon really wanted to know the kind of man that Illya would be attracted to enough to get past his formidable guard.
"I... I don't know, Napoleon. He was just..."
"Your type? Don't be embarrassed, Illya. You're a man; you have needs. And it's not a flaw to want someone to hold once in awhile. In this business it's almost a necessity to keep sane."
Illya was quiet for a few moments. Solo let him be.
"We got a table and listened to the next set. I went to the men's room and that must have been when he slipped something in my drink. Not enough to knock me out, but it got me out of the bar and into his car."
"The car. What kind, make, model?"
Illya closed his eyes and concentrated. "A Dodge, late model. Dark blue or black, I think. He put me in the passenger seat and drove to his place."
"All right. Where? How many blocks? What direction?" Solo wouldn't let up.
Illya leaped to his feet, pushing the chair back. "I don't know, Napoleon! I was drugged, remember?" He slammed his hands down on the table, making Solo jump.
"Come on, lllya. You're a trained operative, drugged or not. Where did he take you? Think!"
Kuryakin shook his head mulishly. His arms trembled and he sank back down.
"You were outside the bar. Where did he go? Straight or did he turn around?" Solo wouldn't give Illya time to be stubborn.
"I... he... straight. To the next intersection. There was a light."
"That's it. Keep going." Solo pulled out a New York city map from Illya's phone book. He found Soho and traced the route Illya described. "Where to next?"
"Turned right. Went through... three more intersections, then a left." Sweat glistened on Illya's upper lip and beaded on his brow.
"That puts you on Grand Street."
"Right. I remember some of the store fronts on Grand. We stayed there for a couple of blocks." Illya rubbed his forehead.
"Did you cross Broadway?" Solo poured Illya another cup of tea.
"Broadway? No, no. He stopped the car maybe a block west of Broadway. I passed out before we left the car. That's all I remember of the ride."
"It's okay, Illya. We know where the bastard lives within one block now. You did well, partner."
Tremors ran through Illya's shoulders as the emotional outpouring drew on. He crossed his arms on the table and rested his head on them. He was pale and near shock from the looks of it.
Napoleon gave him another pill and explained, "It's just a muscle relaxant, not morphine. I want you to rest now, Illya. Take it."
Kuryakin was too strung out to argue and swallowed it with some tea. He allowed his partner to half carry him from the kitchen to the bedroom. Solo settled him in and said, "I'll be back in a couple of hours. Don't answer the phone or the door." He placed Illya's communicator next to the bed. "If you need me, call."
Last thing he did was to set the alarms before shutting the door. Now that he knew where this miscreant operated, Solo had a hard time convincing himself not to clean things up immediately. He could plunder U.N.C.L.E.'s resources and track the perp down by his car make and model. No, he would take his time, plan well and do the job right. Illya was attacked on a Thursday evening. Very well. Solo would be at Fireflies next Thursday with a few specialty items from the lab section. His eyes narrowed in cold fury and anticipation. He did so love the Enforcement part of his job...
By Monday, Illya was much improved, his bruises fading and lacerations healing. Napoleon made him stay home one more day, knowing the stoic Russian would jump into the fray whether he was up to it or not.
Solo went to the office and tied up loose ends. Keeping up with the paperwork over the weekend stood him in good stead and he left for the day at a reasonable hour. He picked up Indian food, mild and spicy both, Illya's favorite dishes. Once on the mend, Illya had grazed his way through the groceries Solo had stocked and there was little left to forage through.
While driving to the Village, Solo argued with himself over whether to tell Illya about his plans for the coming Thursday. He'd want to be in on it and Napoleon knew he wasn't ready. The actual mission fell within Solo's duties as an Enforcement agent, but the methods he intended to employ weren't exactly kosher. Solo would take the risk for his partner. He wouldn't let Illya's career come into jeopardy. The CEA wasn't worried about the mission's outcome. The perp would actually be getting off easier than he should be. Personally, Solo would prefer harsher methods, but he was one of the good guys. He sighed. Sometimes he wished he could forget that little fact.
Solo decided Illya would be best left out of the loop on this particular one. He'd stall him and bend the truth just a bit. Trouble was, Illya was very good at reading his partner. As time went on, they appeared seamless, nearly symbiotic.
The bag of food was sending spicy scents through the hallway. Before he could ring, Kuryakin opened the door. "Telepathy again?" Solo smirked.
"No. You got spicy again, I see." Illya grabbed one of the bags and handed Solo a beer. "You'll need it to wash this stuff down."
He set the table and they settled down to an unhurried meal. Napoleon made short work of the first beer, his taste buds begging for mercy. He brought them both a second and watched Illya dole the hot stuff onto his plate, Chicken Vindaloo with Pilau rice. Normally, Kuryakin could handle anything hot but Napoleon cleared his throat and pointed to the plate. "I'd go easy on that stuff, Illya. You may have some problems digesting that in your... present condition." Solo's face colored, as he knew Illya hated talking about personal issues.
Illya scowled and put most of the chicken back. He noted Solo's look and softened. "I'm sorry, Napoleon. You're right, of course."
His partner smiled and said reassuringly, "A few more days and you can go back to eating anything you want. I always wondered if your stomach was lined with asbestos..."
Giving up after just one helping, Solo sighed and leaned back in the chair, sipping the cold beer. "I give."
"Yes, well, I'd like to have some stomach lining tomorrow, comrade."
Kuryakin rolled his eyes and helped himself to more of the mild dishes. It went against his grain to see leftovers. Finally, Illya pushed his plate away. The agents moved to the couch and sprawled comfortably. Solo put his feet on the coffee table and sighed.
"Itching to get back to work tomorrow?"
Illya tried to look nonchalant but Napoleon saw the way his eyes lit up at the prospect of doing something other than lying on his back and taking nasty little pills. "I'll be glad to get back to work, yes."
"It's not an official profile, but you're on light duty this week. Remember that, all right?"
Illya glanced at his stockinged feet and then said, "I will remember, Napoleon. I will also remember what you have done for me. The indignity you spared me, the embarrassing questions, the judgment." He looked at Napoleon's face. "Thank you, my friend."
Solo clinked his bottle against Illya's. "Whenever you need me, tovarishch. We're partners."
Illya nodded, not needing to speak.
As Illya settled back into the Command, Solo had another item on his agenda. He paid a visit to a lab technician whom he enjoyed spending occasional Saturday nights with and talked her into signing him out a couple of the more experimental gadgets her section was tinkering with. "Just put them down as field trials, will you, Toni?" He fluttered dark eyelashes at her.
"Anything for you, Napoleon." She took Solo's hand and tugged him closer. He was more than happy to express his gratitude. He was still smiling when he got back to his office.
Illya saw the look and asked, "Anyone I know?" He smiled and then looked down at the report he was finishing.
"I certainly hope not. At least, not in the biblical sense." Solo noted Illya's ears turning red. He did so love to embarrass the man. Illya's eyes were still a bit bruised and they'd explained Solo had gotten in a lucky punch at the gym. The rest of the injuries were covered by clothing and Illya hadn't had to lie to anyone about his absence. So far so good, Solo thought. Only one last loose end to tie up and this whole rotten event would be behind them.
Illya seemed relieved as well that there hadn't been much in the way of fallout from the attack. They had slipped back into their familiar roles, and Napoleon was just glad Illya hadn't been hurt any worse. As long as they weren't called up to take on a case in the next few days, everything should fall into place. Solo had good reason to hope for a quiet week. He wanted to be certain to be in town on Thursday night. Kuryakin asked how Solo planned to clean up the leak, but the CEA had only said he'd assigned one of his best operatives to the case. It's not really a lie, he grinned behind his report.
Illya let it go at that, his reluctance to talk about the whole fiasco tempering his usual need to be in on the sting. Having a partner meant trusting they'd do the right thing for each other.
The "it" Solo needed to take care of hadn't arrived yet. The operative got to the bar early and ran a professional eye around the building, checking out the floor plan before taking a seat at the end of the bar nearest the door. He would be able to see the rest of the patrons and no one would get by him unless he wished it.
Solo ordered club soda for the first few rounds, waiting until his target arrived to switch to liquor. Earlier in the evening he had taken an ETOH inhibitor, allowing him to drink well past his usual limit. Score one for Toni and the lab section.
Napoleon picked out a couple of customers who looked like potential victims for this particular brand of scum. Knowing Illya had been singled out, he surmised that the pony-tailed, white-blond man in the leather jacket would be a possible target. He kept an eye on his position throughout the evening. He was a little beefy, muscles hidden but not erased by the heavy coat. A tall, thin, redheaded man with a rust-colored beard hit on the blond, and they took a table together in the back. So much for him, Solo thought as the jazz band took the stage and began to set up.
Napoleon politely refused the offers that came his way, smiling and saying he was waiting for someone. Well, that wasn't a lie, either. His head turned as a young man came in out of the pouring rain and sat at the other end of the bar. Young, probably a student, shockingly blond and blue-eyed, he was skinny but leanly muscled. He shook his head, spraying rain water off his hair as he laughed with another patron. Solo drew in a breath at the familiarity of the man. He knew without a doubt that the rapist would hit on this kid. Tonight.
Solo turned toward the stage as the band played their first number. He tapped his foot and snapped his fingers but his mind was all business. His fingers turned the ring he wore on his right ring finger, feeling the catch on the edge of the stone. Illya's description of the man's habits and turn-ons was running through his mind, and he knew it would probably be much later before he made an appearance. Still his heart beat faster and his adrenaline surged as he concentrated on the hunt and on finding his prey. This was the aspect of Enforcement that only he and his fellow agents understood. The anticipation, the planning, the stalking were all anti-climactic. It was the kill that the alpha agents relished, even if it had to be metaphoric. Napoleon was looking forward to this kill. Oh, yes...
Two sets later, Solo's ears were ringing and his seat was becoming uncomfortable. A squeal of tires drew his attention to the curb where a dark Dodge lurched to a stop and a man in a raincoat got out and headed for the bar. Once inside, he removed his hat and coat and shook the water from his shoes, his expensive leather shoes.
The man's gaze swept over the bar, passing by Solo and sweeping across the assemblage, assessing. Napoleon's eyes drew wide and he turned away from the dripping man, his insides clenched in a knot. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, quietly. This was the man Illya had been drawn to. He knew it as surely as he knew his own name. Large pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place as Napoleon saw himself reflected in the bar mirror. Solo saw his own shocked face staring back at him. Illya had been taken in by this man, not because he was lonely, or not entirely. He looks like me, he thought numbly. Illya was attracted to him because he looks like me...
Solo knew the instant the man saw the blond kid at the rail. He didn't have to be looking at him to hear the gasp of lust or see the half-step he took toward him. As he passed near to him, Solo gave him a closer look.
He was nearly the same height, weight and body size with the same dark features. Even the cleft in his chin was there, although it was softer and not nearly as striking. Napoleon looked away, sick inside.
Illya had gone with this man, hoping to ease some of the emptiness their profession created. All his partner had wanted was some companionship, a little comfort, a small part of the life that the agents fought to maintain for others yet so rarely were allowed to have for themselves. What he had gotten was drugged, beaten, whipped and raped. The worst thing, Napoleon realized now, was that his shy and unassuming partner would never work up the courage to try again. This pile of excrement had taken the last piece of hope Illya had and ground it under his heel.
Solo burned with rage, his hatred of the creep boiling to the surface, wanting to break out. The operative screamed at him to calm down and to act like a professional. Napoleon tried calming breaths, keeping his eyes on the mirror to watch the dark man's movements. He sat next to the blond, nodding at him and engaging in small talk. The kid seemed interested and after the stranger bought him a drink, they drifted over to a table for two against the far wall. The band began to play a medley of Beatles' tunes and the two men listened appreciatively and applauded the songs they knew. The older man kept touching the boy, running his hands longingly across his shoulders and down the slender arms. He kept a steady supply of drinks coming, plying his subject liberally.
Solo bided his time, though watching the sociopath operate sickened him. His stomach churned every time he touched the younger man, and it took all his control not to walk over and take the guy out in front of everyone there. Napoleon took deep cleansing breaths and forced his blood pressure back where it belonged. He'd never wanted to get anyone alone as much as he did this target.
The band finished the set and announced a break. Solo saw the blond kid get up a bit unsteadily and grin. He leaned over the darker man and said something that made them both laugh. Solo gritted his teeth as he stood and walked near their table. The kid slouched toward the bathroom and Napoleon saw the sleeve of the older one move over the scotch and soda, dropping something small and white into the drink.
Napoleon followed behind the blond, not too close, and he swayed a bit and breathed loudly, pretending to be a bit drunk himself. The bathroom was emptying out, most of the regulars knowing when the band took their break and beating the line to use the facilities. The blond went into the stall nearest the sinks and Solo went to one of the basins, splashing water on his face. He washed his hands and waited for the last man to exit.
Next he removed his Special, checked the dart clip once again and thumbed off the safety. The latch jiggled and the door opened inward. The young man was looking at his shoes and nearly ran into Napoleon. "Sorry, didn't... ooof." He looked very surprised as the floor rushed up to greet him. Solo holstered the weapon and slid the boy onto the toilet, propping him up and locking the door behind him. "No, I'm sorry. Well, not really, kiddo. Pleasant dreams." The agent stepped on the toilet seat and vaulted over the partition, taking just enough time to straighten his hair and suit before walking out the door.
He ambled over to the table and the dark man seated there, waiting for his prey to return to his talons. Unbeknownst to him, another predator had entered the hunt. Solo staggered to a stop, squinted at the man and let a slow smile break out on his face. "Jim? Jim, it is you! How the hell are ya?" He sidled in next to the surprised man and scooted him over in the booth. Solo draped an arm casually around his shoulders and pulled him closer to his face.
"I'm sorry, but you have me mistaken for someone else. I don't know you." The mark tried to extricate himself from Solo's grasp but got nowhere, the steely strength holding him fast.
"Well, that's all right," Napoleon purred in the man's ear. "Because I know you. I know you too well. An acquaintance of mine told me to send his regards." While he was speaking, Solo flicked a tiny hinge on the ring on his right hand. He patted the fellow on the cheek as you would an old friend and he went limp against the tabletop. The agent caught him and said, "Well, Jim, I believe you've had enough for the night. Let's go home, shall we?"
Still smiling, Napoleon half-carried, half-slung the body across the floor, throwing a twenty on the bar as he passed. The band started playing the Stones, "You Can't Always Get What You Want" as he left.
Solo stopped and looked the groggy man in the eyes. "But if you try sometimes you just might find, you'll get what you need." The look of fear on his face spurred Solo on. He remembered Illya's terrified face as he thrashed in his fever. Payback's a bitch, he thought as he dragged the man to his waiting car.
Napoleon flipped through the channels, not seeing anything on the screen but just going through the motions. He'd paid for a room in a nearby motel, one where you could pay by the hour or the night. A couple of hours was all he would need for this party — a private party by invitation only. He flipped the set off and sat in a chair at an angle to his prisoner. Solo's body was in shadow and only his eyes showed. He stared unblinking at the man on the bed, not speaking or making any sound at all. His only invited guest squirmed as Solo rose from the chair and slowly walked around the edge of the bed.
Spittle ran down the captive's chin and his eyes were wild, his body trying to flee but his brain not getting the signals.
"It's useless to struggle. In fact, struggling makes it worse. But go ahead. I know you will no matter what I say." Solo paced at the end of the bed, his anger trying to get the better of him. He was anxious to get this done, not squeamish, but a part of him struggled with the brutality of what he was about to do. An image of Illya lying on his bed broken and bleeding brought Solo's mindset back to operational.
He let a long, loud sigh escape him and the man on the bed jumped a bit, eyes bulging in his head. Napoleon glared at his companion with a mixture of hatred and loathing. "Is this the kind of place you take your victims? A seedy hotel where there's no hope of anyone coming to their aid?" He took a deep breath. "Except the ones you really like — the ones who turn you on. You take them to your apartment, don't you? On Grand Street? Oh, yes, I know where you live. Comforting thought, isn't it?"
The man's eyes opened wider at the mention of his address, and he began to really sweat now. Beads appeared on his upper lip and thin trails dribbled down his temples to drip on his collar. He tried to speak, but his mouth merely opened and closed like a carp out of water.
"Oh, I forgot to tell you. I gave you a paralytic agent. It was in my ring. You'll be able to breathe, blink your eyes, jerk a bit. Ingenious, isn't it?" He held the ring up, empty now, and passed it over the man's cheek. "In fact, I have quite a few ingenious devices with me tonight. You might say I'm conducting field research for some pet projects of mine." Solo leered at the sweaty man and pulled a squat briefcase from under the bed. He tossed it on the bed and opened it slowly, turning it so the contents were visible to his prey. Gleaming metal instruments glowed from within, lit by the bed stand lamp. 'Jim' tried to gasp but a tiny squeak came out instead.
"Oh, you want to see what's in here? Certainly." He pulled a stainless steel syringe with a large barrel out of its niche. It caught and reflected the light and cast a dancing shadow on the wall. Solo twisted the barrel in his hand once or twice, chasing the reflection across the walls and over the man in the bed. He saw the look on the prisoner's face and said, "Oh, don't worry, it's been properly sterilized." He laughed low and deep, and added, "Which is rather amusing, considering what's inside the syringe."
He set the instrument down on the bed and stared at Jim until he looked away, unable to stand the scrutiny. Napoleon went back to his chair and sat quietly once again. 'Jim' tried not to look at the case with its rows of medical instruments neatly arranged. His eyes roamed back to them every so often, then would glance at Solo and skitter away. Solo intuited that the torture devices were less frightening than he was, sitting quietly, unthreateningly, in the dark.
When Solo finally spoke, it was with a voice so low, 'Jim' seemed to stop breathing to hear him. "I guess you should know why I'm doing this. I really consider this a public service. I'm removing vermin. Sort of a one-man extermination service." Solo stood once again and moved to the dingy window where the tattered and soiled remnant of a curtain hung limply. It was still raining, though softly now, a gentle cleansing for the streets and buildings below. "I don't know how many men you've maimed and tortured. Killed, maybe. But I do know there won't be any more."
Solo turned very slowly, letting Jim see the hatred and disgust on his face. "You made a huge mistake, you see. You picked the wrong subject last week. You picked a friend of mine — a very good friend." He took a step closer to the bed and the syringe with each sentence. "Have you read the Bible, Jim? No? I have. I'm a firm believer in it, especially the part that tells us to remove something if it offends us; to pluck it out, cut it off." Solo reached into his trouser pocket and pulled out a switchblade. "And, Jim, old boy, you have offended me mightily." A quick flick of his wrist snicked the blade out, sharp and gleaming in the lamplight. He played with the handle a bit, twisting and flexing, showing Jim his expertise with the weapon.
He was one step from the bed now, and he sat on the side near Jim. He passed the blade near his face, across his chest, down his stomach to trail across his groin. Solo touched the tip to his crotch. Jim flinched and managed to drive the point into the material of his trousers. A low moan came from his throat as he saw the look in the other man's eyes. Solo reversed his arm and slashed the fabric of Jim's shirt quicker than the eye could follow. He split it from the wrist to the elbow, leaving a pink trail of blood across the pale skin. It was no more than a scratch but it got the bastard's attention.
He whimpered as Solo retrieved the syringe from the bedspread and placed a rubber tourniquet around the well-formed bicep. "I see you work out. Of course you do. You have to be in good shape to overpower your conquests, don't you? It takes a real man to beat, torture and rape drugged pigeons, right?"
Solo swabbed the inside of the elbow with alcohol. He took his time, knowing Jim could feel the cold and the sting of the astringent on his goose-bumped skin. "And, I know, oh, I know, Jim, that if I let you go, you'd never do anything like that again, would you? If you could talk, you'd promise to be good and to straighten up and fly right, huh?" Solo saw the eyes perk up and lose some of the despair. Jim thought he was getting a way out.
"At least until another pretty boy walked by. Flashed baby-blue eyes at you. Then the old Jim would be back, quicker than you could say Jack Robinson. Even if you don't know it, I do, Jim. I know because I'm a hunter, too; a predator. I can't change who I am, what I do. But I can change one thing, Jim. Oh, yes. I can change you."
Napoleon smiled softly as he slipped the needle under the skin and popped it into the vein beneath. He got a flash of blood and snapped the tourniquet off. He injected the solution slowly, speaking as he did so. "Now this drug is still in the experimental stage. We know what it does, of course, we just don't know the side effects yet. Hasn't really been tested on humans. Though you may not count as a human trial, in my opinion.
"You see, Jim, our society just won't let us do what the Bible says we should to our criminals. The old 'eye for an eye' adage, I mean. Now, if this were the Middle East, I'd have been able to cut your balls off and give them to my friend on a silver platter. No one would bat an eye." Solo sighed dramatically. "But, here in the States, we have to be more civil. I guess you should be glad that I've been raised genteelly. See, here we use chemicals to castrate sexual deviants. What I just injected into you is one such variant. But, like I said earlier, all the bugs haven't been worked out yet. Hell, maybe you'll grow breasts as well." Napoleon laughed and slapped Jim on the arm. "That was funny, Jim, you really need to get a sense of humor."
Solo slipped off the bed, watching the pale face grow whiter by the second. All humor bled from his eyes as he recalled the scene earlier. "When you saw that kid tonight in the bar, did you get a hard-on, Jim?" He leaned close to the perspiring face and his expression was hard as steel, with no pity or remorse showing. "Did you?"
Solo bent the necessary inch to whisper in Jim's ear. "I hope you remember what it felt like. It's the last one you're ever going to have." Then Napoleon Solo, Chief Enforcement Agent for U.N.C.L.E., HQ-NY, retrieved his things and looked over his shoulder before he left the motel room. The look of abject horror on the man's face almost was revenge enough for Illya's suffering. Almost.
"You said what to him?" Illya was dumbfounded, pressing Solo for details. His partner had gone directly to Illya's apartment after his mop-up mission and confessed the whole scenario. Illya was agog at Napoleon's behavior. They'd been partners for years and Kuryakin knew what the professional agent was capable of, but this ruthlessness surprised even him. A look of guilt-tinged horror flitted across Illya's face. He stared hard at Solo, trying to read him. Solo was very good at hiding his emotions when he had to. Napoleon looked tired, a little relieved, even. But Illya knew him well enough to see the edge of guilt hiding under the surface.
"Napoleon, please tell me you really didn't permanently castrate this man." He walked to his American partner and grabbed him by the biceps, holding him fast. The blue eyes held fear and compassion, even after what he'd suffered at the deviant's hands.
Solo looked into those expressive eyes and lied. Easily. Completely. He knew Illya too well. Knew he would feel the responsibility and remorse for Solo's actions. Napoleon took full responsibility gladly. He had looked into the soulless eyes of the man he'd called 'Jim,' and known him for the monster he was; known he couldn't let that creature loose on unsuspecting citizens ever again. Deep down inside, Napoleon had his own sort of monster. He didn't dare let it out unless he had to. Tonight had been one of those times. Napoleon had a strength that Jim hadn't. He could loose his monster, look it in the eye, admit that it was a part of him and still send it back and bury it deeply again. Part of him feared the day when he would call his beast back and it wouldn't come. Tonight it had heeled. He knew one night it wouldn't.
"Illya, don't fret. I used a new formula the lab is tweaking. It simulates castration for anywhere from twenty-four to seventy-two hours and then wears off. Believe me, it will be the longest couple of days of that slime's life. I'm sure it will make him rethink his lifestyle, probably make him move far, far away. I mean, would you want someone like me after you?" He grinned at Illya, who relaxed the grip on his arms. Kuryakin sighed and nodded.
The Russian moved to the couch and dropped down, exhausted by Napoleon's news. Solo fixed them a drink and joined him. Illya took a large swallow and said solemnly, "Thank you, Napoleon. For taking care of my... problem." He lifted his glass to his partner as Solo clinked them together and replied, "To solutions for... problems." He drank to the toast, silently thanking the lab for having devised a stronger formula than the one Illya knew about. After writing his report on the operational effectiveness of the chemical concoction, Solo would mark the formula for Section One and above "Eyes Only" and Illya would never know it existed.
There was still one thing that bothered Napoleon. He knew he should let it go, having tied up so many loose ends as it was, but the knowledge niggled at him, making him roll it over and over in his mind. The direct approach always worked with his no-nonsense Slav, so he cleared his throat and began without preamble.
"There is something I'd like to discuss with you. If you're not too tired." He saw the expressive eyebrows lift a bit at the gentle tone. Illya must know it was a more personal question phrased that way.
He took another swallow of vodka and replied, "I'm all yours."
Napoleon started and smiled. "That's an interesting way to put it, Illya." He stopped, unsure if he had the courage, much less the right, to say what was on his mind. He decided they both deserved honesty in their friendship and partnership so he continued. "When the man who assaulted you came into the bar, I knew it was he immediately. Not from your description, though it was apt." Solo ran his hand through his hair and sighed. He looked Illya in the eye when he said, "He looked like me, Illya. You let him pick you up because he reminded you of me, didn't you?"
Kuryakin hung his head, his face and ears turning crimson. There was no denying it. He answered very softly, "Yes, Napoleon." He said no more.
Napoleon took Illya's face in his hands and gently pulled him up. "Look at me." Kuryakin didn't want to meet Solo's gaze. Napoleon tapped him on the cheek to get his complete attention. Blue eyes met brown and Illya's heart beat faster. Napoleon could feel the thundering pulse in his partner's neck under his fingertips. He smiled softly and asked, "How long have you felt like this?" He ever-so-slightly caressed his thumbs along Illya's jaw line, being very careful to make subtle movements and not frighten his Russian away.
"I... I... I can't think if you do that." Illya leaned into Solo's palm and closed his eyes.
Napoleon's smile grew broader as he watched Illya's reaction. "Good. You're not supposed to think at a time like this. You're supposed to just feel."
Illya sighed. "I've felt like this for a long time, Napoleon." Opening his eyes, he placed his hands on Solo's wrists. He tugged sharply and Napoleon fell forward. Illya's lips found his and he kissed him gently. After a stunned moment, Solo drew back, dropping his hands to his sides.
Illya gave him time to digest the kiss, and Solo watched the emotions chase across the face he'd never considered as a lover's. There was surprise, perhaps, shock, and no small amount of pleasure if Napoleon was reading his partner correctly.
He was. Solo shook his head as if to clear it and then pounced. He slid his hand to the back of Illya's neck and pulled him in for another kiss. The pressure was harder, firmer and more demanding; like Napoleon himself. Illya shivered and opened his mouth, and Napoleon knew the level of trust he'd earned with his Russian. Without hesitation, Napoleon slipped inside the warmth of Illya's mouth and slid along his saliva-coated tongue. They dueled wetly for a moment, called it a draw, and withdrew from the field.
Solo was panting harshly and he had an iron erection. Two kisses and he was already realigning his lifetime affiliation to a whole new team. His mind wanted time to sort it out but his body had other ideas; wicked ones.
Napoleon's hands slid down the strong shoulders to caress across the back, gently, aware of the tender skin. The short hiss from Illya was definitely not from discomfort. The Russian slid his fingers across Solo's face, outlining the dark spot on the left side and continuing to map the geography of the chiseled features. He reached his lips, trailed gently across, hesitating for an instant, and then delved down to his dimpled chin, searching the crater lovingly.
"Do you know how long I've wanted to do that, Napoleon?" Illya asked huskily. "That dimple has driven me out of my mind for years. In fact..." Illya closed the short space and kissed Napoleon again. He sucked his lower lip into his mouth and then continued south, laving and nuzzling the cleft chin delightedly. Instead of pulling away, Solo arched his neck, allowing Illya to continue his oral exploration. Kuryakin licked under the chin, nipped the rough flesh and sucked across the skin to the protruding Adam's apple.
Napoleon spoke between pants of breath. "Illya... oh, yes." His hands roamed lower across Illya's spine and delved to cup his ass in both hands.
"Ahhh... Napoleon." Illya said as Solo pulled his sweating body flush with his, feeling the solid evidence of his partner's desire. Napoleon's hands were kneading his backside, and Illya thrust against him, giving Solo a taste of his own passion. The American felt trembling fingers pulling at his clothes, peeling the layers from him. Once down to skin, Illya ran hot hands across Napoleon's chest, watching the nipples harden to sharp points as Solo gasped and thrust back. Illya bent his head and pulled one taut nubbin inside his mouth, his excitement more than evident as well. Licking his way across the heaving chest, Illya sucked the other nipple until Napoleon grabbed his head and pulled him up by his hair to his mouth.
"Want you, Illya." Solo was reduced to whimpers as Illya's hand brushed across the front of his trousers. He continued to caress the bulge there as Napoleon tried to devour his mouth from the inside out. Solo broke away, desperate for breath and said softly, "You have a bed around here somewhere?"
Illya laughed and took Napoleon's hand, leading him down the hall. It must have been impatience that made Illya push Napoleon against the wall and kiss him again, the trek down the hall too long to be endured. Solo's eyes sparkled with humor and more, watching his impatient lover take over and demand in reality what he had only fantasized about for so long.
Taking charge of the hard body beneath his questing hands, Illya snaked his large fingers into the waistband of Solo's slacks, loosening the belt and slipping the fastener. Slowly he lowered the zipper, and stopped when he heard Napoleon take a deep breath. It was as if they both realized what they were about to do and with whom.
The blue eyes looked into Solo's and he stopped his explorations. Hesitation and uncertainty clouded his passion and he asked his would-be lover, "Napoleon, are you sure about this? I'm going too fast; I don't want to make you do something you'll regret." Napoleon imagined his heart nearly stopping as he waited for the reply, unsure if he could bear to stop now after they had tasted each other's passion.
Napoleon leaned close to the slighter man and took his hand. He ran it across his erection and grinned. "The only thing I regret is that you stopped, Illya. Now kiss me again and you'll know how I feel about this."
Illya pressed close enough that their bodies were nestled against one another from chest to belly button. Placing his hands on Solo's waist, he kissed his forehead, eyelids, both cheeks and then pressed gently against the waiting lips. Solo let the kiss build then growled into Illya's open mouth and surged against him, driving him across the hall into the wall behind. Illya rebounded, his back slapping the plaster hard enough to shake the light hanging from the ceiling. Lips still locked, Solo entwined one leg around Illya's, pulling their groins together as he thrust hard against him.
Illya thrust back and they began a give and take that brought them near flashpoint. He broke their clinch, panting furiously, and gazed into the chocolate eyes. Solo grinned at him and asked, "Does that answer your question?"
Illya grinned back, and flipped Napoleon around so he was against the wall. "Yes, and no..." With a devilish gleam in his eyes, he began kissing his way down the body that was now real and not fantasy. Solo sighed and let his head drop back against the cool wall as Illya reached inside his shorts and touched his cock for the first time. The strong hand cupped him and began to stroke him, and Illya watched avidly as Solo's face betrayed his intense feelings. Illya groaned with his own pleasure and pulled the trousers down to Solo's ankles. He peeled the briefs down an inch at a time, making the unveiling last as long as possible. Solo wondered what fantasies Illya'd had of him, knowing he'd anticipated this much longer. The older man was still having a difficult time believing it was really happening.
As the dark nest of pubic hair was revealed, Illya swallowed, mouth slackening at the sight. Another inch and Solo's thick, circumcised cock sprang upwards, so near to Illya's face. He stared at it, charmed by the power it held, the head flared and thick and dripping with liquid. He followed the curve of the shaft to where it joined Napoleon's body, the large, heavy sac holding balls big enough to give credence to the stories he'd heard about his partner's virility. Napoleon was a beautiful man.
Solo kicked off the restraining clothing and rested his palms flat against the wall behind him, stomach heaving and cock waving with each respiration. He saw Illya's mouth open and the pink tongue lick his lips just before his world turned upside down. Watching from above, Napoleon saw the tip of his cock disappear into that lush mouth. He moaned deep in his chest at the sight and the feel of the hot, moist lips working his crown. He had to close his eyes and he tried not to push into Illya.
Hearing Solo moan made Illya double his efforts. He slid further down the long shaft, milking the flesh with lips and tongue. After getting used to the size, he began to ride up and down the slick cock, losing himself in the act, Napoleon's grunts and gasps driving him to greater effort. He sucked harder, fondling the firm sac, and barely felt the hands grab his head and tangle in his hair.
Napoleon felt release close now; Illya had him in complete control. He tore his concentration away long enough to gently pull Illya's head away, calling his name over and over.
It seemed to take Illya a moment to regain his composure as well, but another tug from Solo's hands made him disengage. "Illya, Illya, please stop." Napoleon was certain Illya caught the hint of reluctance in his voice. He let the thick cock slide out of his mouth slowly, the audible pop as it withdrew causing both men to groan.
"Why did you stop me? Did I—" Before he could finish his question, Solo pulled him up and kissed him breathless.
"I want you as well, Illya." The darker man took Illya this time and led him to the bed, then lay down and turned smoldering eyes on his body. "Strip," he commanded. "Slowly." Solo's hand slipped to his own cock and he stroked himself while Illya watched. Illya closed his eyes and hissed, trying to control himself.
He took off his shoes, placing them neatly at the foot of the bed. Solo's eyes never left him as he yanked the hem of his t-shirt and began to pull it off.
"Uh-uh. I said, slowly." Napoleon was fisting himself leisurely, avidly watching the one-man show. He spread his legs further apart and fondled his pouch, nodding for Illya to continue. The Russian had to take deep breaths before he could finish peeling the sweat-soaked shirt over his shoulders and off his head. He stood still, chest heaving and perspiration gleaming on his white skin. Now Napoleon moaned, pre-come dribbling down his shaft to lubricate his busy hand.
Illya took a step closer to him, his sweatpants wet at the crotch, his own need becoming apparent. Illya untied the drawstring, pulled the waistband open, and wiggled his hips as his thumbs tugged the material down. His erection jutted free, and Solo gasped. The American had expected him to be wearing shorts. Seeing the full cock so soon short-circuited Napoleon's control and his hand moved faster, panting breaths giving away his loss of control.
"Come here, Illya." Solo sat up on the bed and scooted to the edge, letting his legs fall over the side. Kuryakin closed the few steps between them and stood, eagerly showing his manhood for Napoleon's perusal. Clear drops of fluid gathered at the tip, the covering of skin keeping them from falling. Illya wasn't as thick as Solo, but he was longer and the curve of the shaft more pronounced. Napoleon touched the hard cock, gathering the warm offering of flesh in one hand while he gently explored Illya's sac with the other.
Illya stiffened at the touch, calling his lover's name. "Napoleon! Please, I'm so close. Your touch is all I need to..."
Napoleon took pity on his partner, knowing Illya had been waiting years for this night. Lacking in skill but not desire, Solo leaned closer and took Illya's cock in his mouth. He felt the loose foreskin slide back and then the drops of pre-come dripped onto his tongue, shocking him with the acidic, salty taste. He almost withdrew, but hearing Illya moaning above him steeled his resolve. For Illya, he could do this. He sucked the cock deeper, running his tongue around the crown, fascinated by the flap of skin he did not have.
Knowing he would choke if he wasn't careful, Solo grasped Illya's shaft and milked the long cock with his hand more than his mouth, stimulating Illya twofold. The blond mewled and took Solo's head in his hands, thrusting gently. He babbled in Russian, and opened his eyes to see his cock disappear into Napoleon's mouth. "Ah, ahh, Napoleon!"
Solo had planned on pulling back since it was his first time for fellatio, but his technique must have been good enough. Illya came hard and fast, before Solo had any warning. He felt the semen shoot into his surprised mouth. Illya cried out, the orgasm prolonged by Napoleon swallowing quickly, trying to keep up with the outpouring. The last spurt left his lover's body and Illya's body sagged with the release. Napoleon gently let the limp organ slip out of his mouth as Illya fell forward onto the bed. Napoleon caught him and laid him down gently.
Inquisitive hands roamed the planes of Illya's back as he panted back to earth. Napoleon waited patiently, a smug look on his masculine face. Illya focused on him at last and smiled back. "Napoleon, I can't believe you did that..."
The American chuckled low in his throat. "Me, either." Solo's hands continued to caress the soft, sweaty skin, keeping up a steady barrage of tactile stimulation on Illya's body. He responded by growing hard again, Napoleon's touch setting off nerve endings eager for an encore. Illya rolled on top of his lover, kissing the lips that had pleasured him. Eager to explore, Napoleon allowed the tongue inside to taste their mingled juices. Each time Illya thrust his tongue into Solo's mouth, Napoleon rubbed against the hard cock jabbing his belly. They groaned with the sensations and set up a satisfying rhythm, giving and taking pleasure.
Illya managed to speak into Napoleon's open mouth. "Dushka, how do you want it?"
Solo sighed. "With you, Illya, it doesn't matter." He grunted with desire as he felt Illya's hand snake down their bodies and stroke his weeping cock. Much as he wanted Illya to taste him, Napoleon couldn't bear to leave the enticing mouth of his new lover. Napoleon was a wonderful kisser and Illya seemed to love being kissed.
Napoleon took Illya's face in his hands and traced the outlines of his full lips with his tongue, then sucked first the upper lip and then the lower into his mouth. Illya was busy as well, stroking his full cock harder and reaching underneath with his free hand to roll Napoleon's heavy balls with his fingertips. Solo gasped and stiffened, his mouth crushing Illya's as he cried out against him. Illya swallowed the sound of his passion, sealing their mouths together as Napoleon came.
Napoleon shoved up hard against lllya's body as his cock jerked and spurted against the warm skin of his stomach. He pulled his mouth away, desperate for oxygen and sobbed, biting down on Illya's shoulder in his extremis. It was doubtful Illya felt the love bite. The warm gush of Napoleon's semen against his body seemed to send him off like a rocket, his own outpouring blasting across them both, pooling on Solo's abdomen. They panted against each other, warm exhalations puffing across their necks.
Napoleon cradled Illya's head against his heaving chest, their sweat dribbling, mingling and falling to the sheet below. Calmer now, he gently caressed the bite mark with his lips, apologizing without words. Illya shivered at the contact.
"Are you cold?" Solo pulled the spread over them, feeling Illya nestle closer to him.
"Hmm. I've never been warmer." He laughed shakily. "Or stickier."
"Shower later. Snuggle now."
"I never thought I'd hear Napoleon Solo say the word 'snuggle.'"
Solo snorted. "I'm Italian. You'll have to get used to a lot of things from me."
Illya stilled and asked softly, "Promise?"
Napoleon pulled his face up to look in his eyes. "I promise."