They danced around Napoleon in a circle, laughing, pointing, and giggling behind their hands.
"The great Napoleon Solo!" a brunette shouted. "Couldn't keep it up to save his soul"
"Behold the great lover! Oh, wait, where could he be? Hiding behind Napoleon?" This time a redhead took up the taunt. A blonde found that very funny for some reason and howled with laugher.
"No!" Napoleon shouted, sitting up in bed. Then he blinked painfully as a light was flipped on. He covered his eyes partially to shade them, but also to hide the moisture that had collected in the corners of them from his partner.
"Napoleon, what's wrong?"
"Nothing. It was just a nightmare from the old days." He could see the disbelief in Illya's eyes, but to his credit, Illya didn't push him anymore than to place a hand on his shoulder.
"What can I do?"
"There's really nothing to be done. I'll... I'll be right back." Napoleon flung the sheet and blanket back and slowly levered his legs out of the bed. Even as he made his way to the bathroom, he could feel Illya's eye on him.
He turned on the light and closed the door. Sitting on the toilet, he took a moment to reflect back on the nightmare. This was the third time that particular nightmare had woke him up.
It always started the same. He was with a woman, one of the numerous women he'd entertained before realize that his heart and his passion rested with one man. For some reason of another, halfway through sex, Napoleon's erection suddenly lost its stiffness. He was embarrassed and nothing he did could bring it back.
His bed partner poked at it as it is was some uninteresting scientific experiment. She took his penis and wiggled it back and forth, giggling as it flopped from side to side.
Then they were joined by a second woman. She was even less kind. She just pointed, laughed and called everyone else over to look at the failure of a man that Napoleon was.
He pleaded for a little more time, begged for help and they just pointed and laughed. It reminded him of a time when he'd been cornered in the gym after class on day and told to put up or shut up. Terrified, he'd done his best, but his penis refused to cooperate. For a long time after that, he was heckled and bullied. Then in his junior year, he spent the summer rectifying that. He lifted weights, he worked out and he became a force to be reckoned with, as many of his tormentors later discovered the hard way.
They went on to be bankers, clerks, and office puppets while he traveled the world, seducing women as his leisure. Then he met Illya and felt that he was having the last laugh. They'd tried to make him feel weak and ineffective. They had failed. He'd won.
Until a week ago. It had been a long day. Vinea had been hopping from the moment the doors opened until they dragged the last customers out kicking and screaming. Seeing the line at Taste, he'd immediately gone there to help out. Illya was grateful and instantly put him to work.
The result was that they were both almost too tired to breath. They collapsed into bed and Illya, in spite of being half asleep on his feet, made advances and Napoleon's penis curled up and ignored him.
Illya had merely kissed him and rolled over, the situation forgotten almost as fast as it had happened. But Napoleon couldn't forget and, since that moment, he'd been unable to achieve an erection, much less maintain one.
Thankfully, Illya was so busy that he didn't seem to notice. He would fall into bed and be asleep before Napoleon ventured out from the bathroom. Until now, until the nightmares had force the issue for both of them.
There was a soft knock on the door. "Napoleon, may I come in?"
"It's unlocked," Napoleon muttered, too dejected to pretend any longer. Maybe it was better this way, quit prolonging the obvious. The door opened and Illya stood there, wearing a thick black robe. As he'd gotten older, Illya's thermostat had shifted slightly. Now in the cool nights of fall, the Russian would actually concede to being chilly at times.
"Hey, are you all right?" Illya knelt before him and his voice was soft and genuinely worried. "Do I need to get a doctor?" He gestured back over his shoulder towards the phone.
"No, it's not... well, I mean it is, but it isn't..." Napoleon broke off and tipped his head back to rest against the wall.
"Why don't we go back to bed and talk? At my age, I can only handle so much kneeling on a tile floor with facing severe consequences the next day."
"How can you joke about this?" Napoleon snapped. "I would think you, of all people, would understand."
"Napoleon, I don't even know what you are talking about. How can I joke about it?" Illya started to walk away and then paused, "Are you coming? Please?"
"Not likely," Napoleon whispered, but he stood and followed Illya back to bed.
Illya waited until they were comfortably settled back under the covers and then he reached down and took Napoleon's hand. They seldom held hands, but it felt nice. Illya's calloused hand was warm and comforting.
"Talk to me, Napoleon. You know there is nothing you can't tell me."
Except this. "It's nothing. I'm just a little tired. Vinea has been crazy lately because of Christmas and everything. "
"Please don't do me the disservice of lying to me, Napoleon. It insults me and cheapens you. Tell me the truth. That's all I'm asking. Have I done something? I know I've been working a bit more than usual, but Matt really needs the help."
"It's not you, Illya. It's never you. In the big picture, it's nothing, but to me... I can't... make it..." Napoleon waved his free hand towards his penis.
"Wait." Illya frowned. "Is this about what happened the other night?"
"That was the start of it, yes." Napoleon's voice dropped until it was barely a whisper.
"All these nightmares and all this anguish is because you can't achieve an erection? Napoleon, surely you don't think that you are only defined by your penis."
"What if it's the end, Illya? What if I can't ever again?"
"What if you were really tired that night and it was a one-time thing?"
"But it hasn't been."
"No, because you are getting more stressed and worried as the time goes on." Illya smiled. "Do not think that I am making light of this, for I know how important this is to you. I also know how stress can effect performance. Did you know that the first year after I left you, I couldn't get an erection?"
"Between school, the nonstop stress of learning a new career, and missing you, yes."
"I think that's a discussion best left for another time."
"Matt? Was it Matt?"
"Then it's okay. Another man might have been an issue, but not Matt."
"I won't tell him you said that."
"What I mean is I know Matt. He's a good man."
"He is. He was kind and patient and he didn't push." Illya brushed his fingers over the hair on Napoleon's arm. "I'm not even going to insult you by reminding you that you are more to me than mere sex."
"But it's who I am, Illya! What if you couldn't cook again? What about that? How would you feel?"
Illya held up a scarred palm. Years had softened the scar tissue, but it was still an ugly reminder of a bad time. "I did, Napoleon. For a long time, I didn't know if I would ever cook again or even if I could. Do you know what kept me from going off the deep end?"
"Me?" Napoleon asked, hopefully.
"You. With your patience and your love, you gave me the courage to face whatever was waiting for me. I would be a poor example of a lover and a friend if I abandoned you over something like this." Illya brought Napoleon's hand to his mouth and kissed each one of the fingers. "We took a vow for forever. I meant it and I think you did, too."
"Then get some sleep and we will deal with this in the morning. My mother always said things look better in the morning."
"Especially if it's the morning of a day off." Napoleon yawned and Illya smiled.
"Exactly and if you have another nightmare, you just tell it to get lost because you have me right beside you ever step of the way." He clicked off the light and Napoleon reached out, finding Illya's hand in the dark.
"It's all falls under the heading of gallant husband."
"I'm the husband."
"In your dreams."
It started again. The woman looked and pointed, laughing. "So much for you."
"Maybe it's not my fault," Napoleon was shocked to hear himself say. "Maybe you just don't have what it takes to satisfy me."
The woman's mouth dropped as did her hands to her ample breasts. She hefted them toward him. "What about these?"
"My mother told me that anything more than a mouthful wasn't worth the effort." Other women were joining them, to point and giggle. "I don't think so." Then he saw a figure, half lit and familiar. "Excuse me, ladies, do whatever you need to do, but I have someone who loves me and that makes all of your excess baggage."
He raced to Illya's arms and in front of them all, they made love and Napoleon's orgasm was nothing short of triumphant.
Napoleon opened his eyes with a start. His pajama bottoms were sticky and cooling and yet his morning erection showed no signs of lessening.
With a grin, he wiggled out of the constricting clothing and moved closer to Illya, sliding his erection up against Illya's back with a sigh of contentment.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis had entered the building." Illya's voice was muffled by his pillows.
"It's left the building, Illya." Napoleon kissed Illya's shoulder and moved to his neck.
"Not yet it hasn't, but if you play your cards right..."
It only seemed right to celebration Napoleon's success over his hurtle by going for a personal best and Napoleon was sure he did it with confidence, patience and all the love in his heart and soul.