[image of Napoleon Solo]

Casbah Redux

by Taliesin

[image of Illya Kuryakin]

Illya was tired. Exhausted, in fact. Bone weary. As usual. And he hurt. As usual. And it had all been for nothing. As had apparently become the usual of late.

It was dispiriting, to say the least. Days spent chasing around after an antique book of obscure poetry which held the key to Thrush code, sleepless nights, a concussion, and severely toasted hands, all come to naught. The "vital" encoded message had turned out to be no more than a dismissal notice to an incompetent Thrush official. U.N.C.L.E. could easily deduce for itself the man's incompetence -- witness the ease with which he'd let the code book slip from him in the first place. As for his "dishonorable discharge" from Thrush, it came somewhat late to be of any importance, either to the deceased agent, or to U.N.C.L.E..

Illya lay on the bed in his hotel room, absently watching the ceiling fan lazily stir the warm air. Before returning to New York, Mr. Waverly had "suggested" he take a week off to recuperate. Though he had little desire for a vacation, Illya knew better than to argue. However, he saw little point to going anywhere in particular. He didn't feel up to it in any case.

A headache still lurked throbbingly behind his eyes, a reminder of just how lucky he'd been; that pot of olive oil could just as easily have broken his skull. Illya snorted at how his definition of "luck" had changed over the years with U.N.C.L.E. -- it no longer denoted avoiding capture or injury and now simply meant surviving the experience. By the same measure, he'd been lucky to escape Colonel Hamid's oubliette, though at some expense to his hands. He raised the white-swathed mummies before his eyes. He'd told the girl, , true -- the ropes had burned through before his hands, but only barely. As it was, he'd roasted himself good. The nurse at the hospital had scolded him firmly for not coming in immediately. Illya had shrugged off her officious concern. The burns were largely superficial, more painful than damaging, and he had felt it his duty to see Napoleon and Waverly off first. Besides, Napoleon had already had one cheap shot at his expense ("I don't stand under falling objects" indeed); Illya wouldn't make himself target for any more.

So here he was, to all intents and purposes on vacation, laid out on his bed like a blessed mummy, feeling sorry for himself. Illya rolled over carefully, trying to jar neither head nor hands, and burrowed into the pillow.

He was thoroughly enjoying his sulk when a sharp rap at the door interrupted him. He lifted his head only far enough to shout "what?" It was enough to set his head throbbing again, and he dropped back to the pillow with a muffled moan.

"Room service," a man's voice responded impersonally. There was a click as the man pushed open the door without the courtesy of waiting for a reply. It was too much for Illya's pounding head to bother reprimanding the insolent fellow, or even looking at him before he swept out again with a crash.

"So," asked Napoleon Solo, "who ordered the shish kabob?" Startled, Illya flipped over suddenly, which turned out to be an unwise move. His much abused head spinning, he suspected he was turning a rather unfortunate shade of green. Napoleon watched curiously.

"Didn't they give you something for that?"

"On the dresser," Illya admitted between clenched teeth.

"And why didn't you take your medicine like a good boy?" Illya only glared. Napoleon's eyes flicked down to his gauze-muffled hands, but uncharacteristically refrained from comment. Somewhat subdued, for Napoleon anyway, he retrieved the small bottle of pills, quickly read the directions, and popped one into Illya's mouth before he could protest.

"Weren't you on your way back to New York?" Illya demanded ungraciously after swallowing the pill with a sip of water from the glass Napoleon silently held for him. He fought a losing battle to remain angry with his partner. As usual, however, when not being deliberately provoking, Napoleon could be remarkably considerate, and Illya's ire always deserted him in the face of such sweet chivalry.

"Never assume anything where I'm concerned." Ignoring Illya's dubious glance, Napoleon wandered desultorily across to investigate the room service tray he'd breezed in with. "Waverly wants to know who takes over Thrush's interests here in Algiers. I'm to identify the unfortunate Colonel Hamid's successor." He casually popped a piece of grilled steak into his mouth.

"Congratulations," Illya offered dryly. "Now get out." He closed his eyes and feigned sleep, trying to ignore the true drowsiness beginning to ebb over him with all the subtlety of a riptide.

"Why Illya, I'm hurt! Trying to get rid of me so soon?" Napoleon picked up the plate and wandered back to the bedside, grinning at his partner's stubborn attempt to ignore him. "Won't work, you know. You're stuck with me. There is, you see, no room at the inn." Illya's eyes opened at that. He frowned at the man perched insolently on the side of the bed, eating the dinner he had ordered.

"If you mean what I think you mean..." Napoleon grinned cheerfully, canting his head to indicate his suitcase, sitting just inside the door. "No! Oh no you don't! Find your own room."

"There aren't any. Besides, yours has such a lovely view of Thrush headquarters." He wandered to the window as he spoke, twitched aside the curtains for a quick look outside, and nodded in satisfaction.

"Does it? I hadn't noticed." Illya wearily allowed his eyelids to drift shut again. He was really too tired to care anymore; certainly too tired to carry on the argument. As usual, Napoleon had won. Made drowsy by the medication, he drifted comfortably in a vague twilight.

"You should eat something," Napoleon's rich baritone chided from somewhere close by. From the manner in which the mattress listed, Illya fuzzily concluded his partner was once again sitting on the edge of the bed.


"Eat, Illya." Something savory brushed Illya's lips and he automatically opened them to accept the morsel. It tasted divine. He hadn't known he was hungry. He opened his mouth for another piece. Napoleon chuckled. "Cheep, cheep." He obliged readily, alternately feeding Illya and himself.

The blond lay quietly, eyes closed, unmoving but for his slow chewing. Napoleon couldn't help grinning at the dainty way in which Illya accepted each morsel of food offered him. The man seemed more than half-asleep; the effect of the drugs no doubt. Napoleon had never seen his partner so relaxed around him. He supposed he ought to take advantage of Illya's distraction to ask a few questions about his part in the recent assignment before Illya had a chance to perfect his story. It was always difficult to separate what truly happened from what Illya was willing to admit happened. Not that he ever lied about anything vital, but he did tend to downplay his role in it, especially any injuries suffered. However, there were certain things one simply did not do to a partner. Even one as annoyingly close-mouthed as Illya.

After only a few more bites, Illya yawned hugely and turned away, curling up on his side and sliding quickly into slumber. Napoleon ate the last of the food, eyes narrowed in thought as he watched Kuryakin sleep. Finally, he set aside the plate, rose and stretched with a sigh.

Illya was asleep, or very nearly so, when someone pulled him upright. The hands determinedly attacking his buttons paid no heed to his wordless protests. When he tried to lay down, he was merely pulled upright again, after which he sat docilely and let the hands have their way. They were marvelously strong and sure, those hands. They dealt most efficiently with all the necessary unfastening and stripped away his shirt before pushing him flat to tug off his pants. Then they bundled him under the covers most gently and smoothed his hair tenderly as he surrendered to sleep.

A very long time ago, Illya Kuryakin has learned the sagacity of feigning sleep. When one woke in strange circumstances, it could be vital to discover exactly what they were before having to deal with them. A most carefully cultivated survival instinct.

The bed was soft and warm and Illya was not bound, all of which were most pleasant surprises. It took a moment to recall why his head and hands ached dully. Once he remembered, that too was removed from the category of immediate concern. It seemed, for once, he wasn't someone's prisoner. However, as he quickly discovered, while not bound, he was definitely restrained. The living warmth at his back had strong arms wrapped around his waist.

Illya frowned unconsciously, momentarily non-plussed. Finally, he decided to approach the situation logically -- obviously he had gone to bed with someone; he should at least be able to remember who. Nothing came to mind, however. He could, in fact, remember nothing clearly following Napoleon barging in and laying claim to his hotel room. Perhaps his fun-loving partner had thought it an amusing prank to sneak a stranger into Illya's bed while he was unconscious. Illya's head was beginning to ache in earnest now; trying to sort out who he was in bed with was an activity better suited to Napoleon's experience than his.

Illya's bedpartner murmured, shifting in sleep to draw him closer. His mind went completely blank for a moment. The voice was male, the body pressed now so tightly against his bare back most decidedly so. More than that, it was Napoleon. Illya recognized the timbre of his voice; now that he was concentrating, he knew the sharp spicy scent of Solo's aftershave. Fighting unreasonable panic, Illya risked slowly opening his eyes. Soft morning light flooded the room and between them they'd kicked the bedcovers half-off. Without shifting his head, Illya could see the arms wrapped so tightly about him. One hand was splayed possessively against his abdomen. Napoleon's hand, without a doubt. It would be impossible not to recognize the graceful hands he'd seen in action and repose for years now, especially with that ring Solo always wore on the smallest finger of his left hand. Illya's chest ached.

After a few moments, the shock wore off enough to allow Illya to breath again. It was all perfectly reasonable, of course. How could it be otherwise? The medication caused extreme drowsiness; he'd been warned about that at the hospital, and it had been part of the reason he hadn't taken it. He'd obviously fallen asleep and Napoleon had considerately put him to bed. As for joining him there, well, Napoleon was no ascetic, sleeping on the floor would never have occurred to him.

Napoleon shifted again in his sleep, cocooning Illya in the warm hollow between his body and the mattress. It was just force of habit, Illya decided. His womanizing partner was used to bedfellows; he naturally cuddled whoever was there. It was just this time he'd gotten it wrong.

As the initial shock wore off, Illya realized he wasn't entirely upset at Napoleon's sleeping mistake. He felt secure, warmly protected, ridiculously comfortable. Napoleon's chest was all smooth, hard muscles against his back. His soft breath fanned the nape of Illya's neck, stirring the longish hair. In point of fact, Illya realized he very much enjoyed lying in Napoleon's bed, in Napoleon's arms. He very nearly bolted at that.

The instinctive twitch, though rigorously controlled, nonetheless woke Napoleon. Illya held his breath as Solo stirred and yawned. The body behind his shifted to prop itself on one elbow, gravity rolling Illya back into the space thus vacated. Sleep tousled, Napoleon looked down on him from entirely too close. He didn't seem to feel it necessary to remove the arm still draped companionably about Illya's waist.

"Good morning," Solo greeted him affably, voice husky with sleep. His burgundy-dark eyes met Illya's squarely, without any trace of surprise or reserve. For the first time, Illya found himself unable to hold Napoleon's gaze with equanimity. He averted his eyes uncomfortably, expecting to hear one of Napoleon's teasing remarks, but his partner merely rolled silently to his feet and disappeared into the bathroom with a quick economy of motion which impressed even Illya. Who was left wondering exactly why he was so markedly short of breath. Finally, however, he merely shrugged off the question, burrowed into the warm Napoleon-scented sheets, and fell back to sleep to the accompaniment of Napoleon's off-key singing in the shower.


"Nothing yet," Napoleon growled disgustedly. He set aside his binoculars and rose to stretch achingly. Illya grimaced in sympathetic memory of all the hours he'd spent watching some house or other while his muscles stiffened up and his joints ached. Solo had been at it all morning. Hours crouched on an uncomfortable chair peering through binoculars at the building opposite. Hours Illya had spent determinedly not watching Napoleon. Or trying not to.

In deference to the humidity, Napoleon had left off shoes and shirt. His snug undershirt clung to his torso and even the closely-cropped hair at the nape of his neck curled in defiance of his efforts. It was the first time Illya had seen his partner voluntarily so informally dressed. He found it endearing, though he was highly unwilling to admit it. He also found the way Napoleon's eyes kept cutting over to him, and darting away the moment they met his, rather ... flattering. Also unnerving.

"Thrush Algiers displays very few of the finer feelings," Napoleon commented as he poured himself a drink, "not even a scrap of black crepe."

"Colonel Hamid was something of an unremarkable man. Unremarked in life and death." Illya found himself unable to spare much sympathy for the man. He tentatively flexed his fingers inside their cocoon of bandages and grimaced.

"Mmm," Napoleon agreed wordlessly. He strode about a bit, trying to stretch out the kinks. And especially, most especially, to keep his eyes from straying toward his partner.

Bandaged hands made dressing clumsy, and Illya had been forced to eschew clothes altogether. As Napoleon had undressed him the night before, it was probably only fair that he offer to redress him now. However, if Illya's pride deterred him from asking for help, Napoleon's libido prevented him from offering it. Illya's lying around all morning clad in nothing but pale blue boxers had done a remarkable job of distracting Napoleon from his surveillance. It was a good thing Waverly already knew who Hamid's replacement was. Napoleon frowned slightly, unintentionally glancing at Illya again. Kuryakin would kill him when he discovered he'd been mislead. But then, the stubborn Russian's reaction would have been equally unpleasant last night, if Napoleon had admitted from the first that he was there to look after his partner. Not that Waverly would admit to being concerned; he just gave Napoleon a week off matching Illya's and willfully "forgot" to offer Napoleon a ride back to New York on the U.N.C.L.E. jet. Not that Solo would have taken it if it had been offered. Waverly had flown blithely back to New York, secure in the knowledge (for Napoleon was convinced the crafty bastard knew everything) that Solo would see to it his partner wasn't targeted while vulnerable. Napoleon dragged himself back to the present and realized he was staring at Illya again. Who was blushing becomingly, the rosy glow creeping down to tinge his chest. Napoleon couldn't resist grinning, at which Illya frowned and turned away, the blush deepening. Which only made Napoleon grin the wider.

"Get back to your surveillance." Illya's skin twitched at the sensation of Napoleon's heavy gaze on him.

"Nothing to see," Napoleon admitted candidly without thinking. Suddenly aware that continued proximity to his inquisitive partner was likely to bring out the whole story, and other things he'd rather not consider, Napoleon quickly pulled on a shirt. Illya turned over when Napoleon's weight listed the bed. He watched Solo lace up his shoes, a frown furrowing his forehead.

"What are you doing?"

"Going out." Napoleon stood and shrugged into his jacket.

"Going out?"

"Is there an echo in here?" Napoleon forced a grin. "I'll be back shortly."

"Thrush ..."

"Can take care of itself for a while." Before Illya could raise any other objections, or Napoleon could do something he'd regret, he whisked out of the room, the door snicking softly shut behind him.

Illya sat staring at the locked door for several long minutes. Napoleon's recent behavior had been most odd, even for him. Illya's gaze shifted to the binoculars and open window. Finally, his mind made up, he rose from the bed and, settling into the chair Napoleon had recently vacated, gingerly lifted the binoculars to his eyes.

Napoleon strode rapidly through crowded streets, his heavily laden arms in no way slowing his brisk pace. Temper, and imagination, cooled somewhat, he was eager to return to Illya.

He felt guilty for rushing out like that, although he knew Illya would merely put it down to another of his partner's odd moods. Then there was the niggling concern, so impossible to discard utterly. He should not have left Illya alone and vulnerable. The fact that Illya hardly regarded himself as vulnerable, under any circumstances, was a moot point. It was his job to guard his partner. Napoleon was certain Illya was safe -- he'd hardly have left if his morning's surveillance hadn't convinced him that neither Thrush nor anyone else was even remotely interested in the hotel or its occupants. Yet he still felt the compulsion to return, to experience with all his senses his partner's secure presence.

He had forced himself to stay away for what seemed a long time to his impatience. Finally, however, all the importunate desires Illya conjured in him had allowed themselves to be stuffed back into their various dark corners. Finally it was safe to return.

Napoleon entered the room with a jaunty lift to his step, nudging the door shut with a bump of his hip. One look at Illya's glowering face, however, put something of a damper on his chipper mood. Subdued, he busied himself in arranging his purchases on the table. The silence spoke volumes, none of which he wanted to hear.

"I brought us some dinner," he offered in a deliberately cheerful tone without quite daring to look at his sullen partner. Siberian winter had struck, and Napoleon wished himself far away from the storm. However, as he was stuck with it ... "I know it's early yet for dinner, but since we didn't have breakfast ... " Illya's silence continued, unnerving him. This is ridiculous, Napoleon thought in disgust, I've faced firing squads with more composure. He took a deep breath, straightened his shoulders, and turned to meet Illya's fulminating glare. "What's wrong?"

"You lied to me." Napoleon only raised his eyebrows. Illya scowled. "If that's Thrush headquarters, I'm Tzar Nicholas."

"Your majesty," Napoleon sketched a sweeping bow which utterly failed to produce a smile. Solo sighed. "Alright, I lied."


"Would you have let me stay if I'd told you I was here to look after you?" Illya's scowl darkened. "I rest my case."

"I don't need a nursemaid, Napoleon. I can-- "

"--take care of yourself," Napoleon finished for him. "I know. So does Waverly. But if he sees fit to give me a week off ... " He shrugged eloquently. Napoleon's grin, as always, was infectious; Illya turned away, fighting to keep a straight face. Solo let his muscles relax as the tension between them faded.

"Am I forgiven then?"

"For now," Illya admitted grudgingly, shaking his head at Napoleon's cocky presumption. His partner was lucky he tended to be endearing enough to diffuse the tempers his insolence roused.

"Good, then we can dispose of this pretense," he returned the binoculars to his travel bag and closed the curtains, "and get down to business."

"And what business is that?" As if he had to ask.

"Why, the business of enjoying ourselves, of course." Napoleon proceeded to unload his packages. Kuryakin didn't try to hide his suspicion as the series of offerings, all of the highest quality and to Illya's exacting tastes, were conjured for his approval. By the time Solo removed a bottle of fine brandy and two snifters from their protective wrapping, Illya was scowling again.

"What are you up to, Napoleon?"

"Nothing. Do I have to be up to something?" Solo asked innocently. The expression didn't set well on him. He put the tray of delicacies on the foot of the bed and settled next to his partner, unconcernedly nudging Illya's bare legs out of the way.

"You usually are," Illya muttered darkly.

Unexpectedly, Napoleon turned to face him squarely . His hand insolently ruffled Illya's blond locks, then slid lightly down his cheek. "My stupidity almost got us both killed yesterday. You're paying the price of it." He gathered Illya's bandaged hands into his warm clasp. "Aren't I allowed to make it up to you?"

Flustered by the unexpected caress, Illya withdrew his hands, his eyes nervously avoiding his partner's face. Napoleon didn't bother waiting for a response; he merely poured brandy into the beautiful glasses, picked up a bite-sized treat from the tray and offered it to Illya. Who regarded him suspiciously for a long moment before reluctantly opening his mouth to tentatively accept it.

They ate in almost comfortable silence, Illya unwillingly enjoying both the sumptuous fare and the attention from his normally distracted partner. He had often wondered what it would be like to have Napoleon's full attention; now he felt decidedly uncomfortable under the steady warm regard. Solo pretended not to notice to Illya's discomfort, merely offering another delicacy. His fingers brushed Illya's lower lip as the morsel disappeared between strong white teeth and hesitated there a moment, resting against the soft full lips. Illya jerked his head away on a quickly stifled flinch.

"What are you up to, Napoleon?"

"You're repeating yourself." Napoleon offered the snifter of brandy to Illya's lips, but they remained tightly compressed. "What do you think I'm doing? Other than keeping you from starving, that is."

"Come now, Napoleon. You think I don't know all your tricks?" Illya accused with a vehemence even he didn't completely understand. "I've seen you in action before, remember? So don't think you're going to get away with trying to--" ... seduce me. He broke off suddenly, blue eyes wide, the final words thankfully unsaid.

"Trying to what, Illya?" Napoleon's velvet voice had dropped, most seductively indeed, into its lower register. When he offered the brandy again, Illya drank distractedly. In his turn, Napoleon rotated the glass to drink from the precise spot where the dew of Illya's lips remained faintly visible. Burgundy eyes lifted to catch sapphire ones. A blush blossomed forth on Illya's fair skin, tinting cheeks brightly and swiftly creeping downward in defiance of Illya's heartfelt wishes. Napoleon thought it most becoming.

"Why?" Napoleon was surprised Illya would ask in such a straight-forward manner. His partner tended toward circumspection to the point of obtuseness.

"Why not?" Illya scowled as Napoleon's shoulders lifted in an easy shrug. His flippant attitude might charm the girls, but it was his partner he was messing around now. Glib answers were simply unacceptable.

"You can't possibly be that desperate. I'm certain you could find a girl if you tried. Why not that belly-dancer? I'm sure she'd be more than happy to receive your practiced attentions."

"Because I don't want her." Napoleon's heated gaze traveled leisurely over Illya's entirely too exposed body, making it quite clear exactly who he did want. Illya's blush deepened.

"Napoleon--" Illya's voice was replete with embarrassed warning, but he couldn't look directly at his partner. It was clear he understood precisely what Napoleon was doing; it was equally clear that, while embarrassed and uncertain, he wasn't entirely adverse to the idea. If he had been he'd have left or hit Napoleon by now. More likely the latter. For a man like Napoleon, it was encouragement enough

Illya jumped when Napoleon rose and, picking up the tray, removed it to the table. He watched his partner's back, unaccountably upset by the withdrawal. The disappointment that washed through him was startling and contemplation of the unexpected response distracted Illya. He almost failed to see Napoleon return and slide gracefully onto the foot of the bed. When he did finally look up, it was to see Napoleon advancing toward him on hands and knees with all the predatory grace of a panther. A cowardly attempt at retreat only succeeded in planting him firmly against wall. The words to derail Solo's passion hovered on his tongue, refusing to be said. Napoleon was on him before he had time for second thoughts. His partner's arms bracketed him, larger frame imprisoning him against the pillows, without yet touching. There was no doubt Napoleon dominated the situation, and Illya. Yet his kiss, when it came, was not at all the masterful plundering Illya expected.

Napoleon hesitated a moment upon backing Kuryakin into the corner, his eyes meeting Illya's searchingly. He must have found what he was seeking, for he grinned and leaned in for a kiss. His lips brushed Illya's in the most feather-light of touches and remained there, undemandingly gentle. Irresistible. If Napoleon had subjected him to one of those possessive maulings he'd seen the other man use on countless women, Illya would have fought tooth and nail, injured hands be damned. As it was, curiosity won out over trepidation, and his lips moved to tentatively return the tender offering. Still Napoleon kept it slow and easy, despite the encouragement. His lips opened on Illya's but his tongue merely invited entrance into his own mouth rather than forcing its way into Illya's. After a brief hesitation, Illya took him up on the silent offer.

Napoleon drew leisurely away before Illya had had his fill of the dark sweetness, leaving him surprisingly short of breath. At no point had any part of him but his lips touched Illya. Why then did Illya's body warm so quickly with the flush of arousal? Confused at Napoleon's attentions, and his response, the Russian slid lithely out of the loose cage of arms. He stood by the window, his eyes showing him not the view but the embrace of a moment ago. His arms instinctively curled protectively about himself.

"Illya--" Napoleon still lounged on the bed, watching his partner indulgently. concern a muted note behind his eyes.

"I don't understand."

"What's not to understand?" Illya ruthlessly controlled an instinctive flinch when he felt Napoleon's presence just behind him. His partner's voice was soft, too close. "I want you. You obviously want me. How is this a problem?"

"I'm not one of your legions of women, Napoleon. I won't be treated cavalierly."

"I had no intention of treating you at all cavalierly. You're my partner, not some anonymous fling. Why are you afraid of me?"

Illya jumped when warm hands settled on his shoulders. He felt vaguely sick at the feel of Napoleon's soft breath fanning his neck. It was impossible to pretend the feeling was anything but arousal.

"I'm not afraid of you." But when Illya attempted to slip away, his partner's grip only tightened.

"You are. You're strung tighter than a piano." Napoleon's hands began to rub knowledgeably at the corded muscles of Illya's neck and shoulders. "Looks like you could use a good massage."

"I was getting one before you interrupted," Illya retorted, trying unsuccessfully to resist the warm pleasure.

"Oh? Ah yes, when I called you for help with that Pierro character." Napoleon chuckled softly. "I had no idea I was interfering with your love life, such as it is."

Furious, Illya pulled free of Napoleon's tempting grasp and turned to face him. "Enough," he hissed angrily, "I have never needed your pity, and I certainly won't stand for this teasing mockery you call friendship."

"Neither pity nor mockery, Illya. But certainly friendship. And more, if you'll accept it." And there was no doubting the sincerity. Napoleon had that knack -- in the blink of an eye sliding from buffoonery to heartfelt honesty. Illya never knew how to follow him. He sighed deeply, the anger fled as surely as it always did when Napoleon looked at him like that.

"I think you'd better explain yourself, Napoleon."

"Those muscles need attention. Lie down." Napoleon lay a finger over Illya's protesting lips. "I assure you I can talk and rub your back at the same time. I'm very talented." Oddly enough, the comment held none of the innuendo Solo usually injected into such statements. "Now lie down. Please."

Maybe it was the please that did it. Then again, maybe Illya was more desperate for Napoleon's touch than he cared to admit. He lay face down on the bed and pretended unconcern over the rustlings in the room behind him. He nearly gasped aloud when Napoleon's weight suddenly settled over him. Muscular thighs snugly bracketed his hips, the soft scrape of trousers roughly erotic against his bare thighs. After a brief hesitation, Napoleon's hands, slick with some spicy oil, smoothed over his back. Illya sighed and stretched leisurely under their hypnotic expertise. Lulled into a vague twilight, he was almost startled when his partner began to talk.

"We've worked together for five years now, and seen each other through good times and bad. By now, if we don't know each other, I doubt we ever really will. I think I understand you as well as anyone might, and I guess I know what you think of me." The bleakness of that statement startled Illya.

"Regardless of how it may on occasion seem, I have never failed to take your safety into account in my plans, both professional and private. I have been aware of your irritation with my ... pursuits, and contrary to what you may think, I do understand it. Considering the times you have borne the brunt of my bad judgments, it is surprising your emotions do not tend toward something stronger than irritation. I am aware it is entirely my own fault that you do not completely understand me." Illya thought to protest, but Napoleon's massaging hands were quickly reducing him to a malleable lump incapable of thought, let alone speech. A grunt of satisfaction escaped him when clever fingers ferreted out and dug into a particularly tight knot.

"I'm not out for notches on my bedpost, Illya. Nor am I so completely enchanted by pretty women that I cannot resist them. I look for companionship, Illya; a little warmth and closeness. A reminder that gentleman Death has gone empty-handed once more. For their safety and mine, I dare not pursue a prolonged relationship with anyone. 'He who loves gives hostages to fortune'." Illya's mind grappled fitfully with the last; it had the ring of a quote, which he couldn't quite place. He hardly noticed when Napoleon rolled him over, manipulating his relaxed limbs with ease. The alteration was borne in upon him when Napoleon resumed his position, the weight pressing lightly against his groin delicately intoxicating. Napoleon seemed not to notice Illya's quick intake of breath. He merely poured more oil into his hands and started on Illya's chest.

"I've tried to leave no hostages, for Thrush, fortune, or anyone else in this crazy business. I had thought I succeeded, but then, I hadn't counted on you."

"Me?" Illya managed breathlessly. He ought to have known better than to let Napoleon get his hands on him. The man was Seduction incarnate.

"You. For the last five years, you've been the one constant in my life. I can't even conceive of a time when you won't be beside me. All the same, I can imagine only too well the darkness of my world should something happen to you. I love you, Illya."

"You? Napoleon Solo, Don Juan extraordinaire? I don't--" A finger against his lips silenced Illya. When it lifted, his tongue darted out automatically to taste the fragrant massage oil which lingered. Unusual, but not unpalatable, he decided absently.

"Believe it, Illya. Believe it. I like women, it's true. I also like men, when the occasion permits. But I love you." Napoleon leaned down to taste of Illya's lips. And Illya let him.

He did know Napoleon Solo. Better than Napoleon believed, though perhaps not as well as he had thought. Eyes and voice had conveyed absolute sincerity. Napoleon spoke truth; or what he believed to be truth, at any rate. Perhaps it would be enough.

Napoleon's mouth was warm and gentle, his tongue darting coyly out to tease Illya's lips. Illya opened his mouth to grant it entrance and moaned softly as Napoleon greedily accepted the invitation. Every inch of his mouth was explored before the curious tongue withdrew, coaxing Illya's to follow and play in the honey warmth behind Napoleon's lips. Illya closed his eyes to savor Napoleon's unique flavor.

Once again, the delicacy of the kiss overwhelmed Illya. Only Napoleon's lips touched him, their power in their gentle coaxing. Solo had risen to hands and knees and, though he controlled every possible angle of escape, should Illya have desired it, which he most certainly did not, at no point did his body touch Illya except where their lips met in tender inquiry. Only the heat of his body, and the familiar scent of his aftershave, embraced Illya, who found himself attempting to press closer. Napoleon broke off the kiss with a soft chuckle, making no move to assist Illya. His lips wandered over his lover's strong square jaw and dipped to feast under one delicate ear.

"Napoleon!" The name emerged half-growl, half-moan. Illya reached to tangle his fingers in the short dark hair and pull Napoleon down to him. He growled in earnest this time. His mummified hands were less than useless -- he could neither adequately grab a handful of hair, nor feel the soft strands against his fingers. Napoleon raised his head at the sound of true anger. His sharp eyes took in the problem at a glance and he actually had the temerity to smile.

"Something wrong, Illya?" Illya growled again, baring his teeth at his partner. Napoleon's eyes twinkled, not in the least disconcerted by his lover's show of temper. "Hmm, let's see. What can we do about this?" Brown eyes smiled into blue as Napoleon very carefully, and oh so slowly, lay himself over Illya. The gasp that escaped his partner's control at the feel of his fully-clothed weight along every bare contour was highly gratifying. "Does that help, do you think?" He asked with a breathless laugh.

"Napoleon ... " Illya trailed off brokenly as strong hands swept along his exposed sides, their touch blatantly erotic now. He arched against Napoleon, enjoying the arousing struggle against superior weight. Solo's mouth devoured his, body pressing down, controlling, moving subtly to incite response, his hands finding and tracing every hypersensitive nerve. "Napoleon, please ... don't tease."

"Never, sweetheart." Napoleon shifted his weight off Illya and onto one elbow, his free hand sweeping over the exposed chest. Illya blinked dazedly up at him.


"Mmm, yes." Napoleon was drawn irresistibly back to softly curved lips. His hand wandered with a will of its own, caressing nipples, counting ribs and generally driving Illya out of his mind. "Sweetheart ... honey ... lamb ... love ... " Napoleon's teasing list of endearments was interrupted by Illya's choked cry when his hand dipped into a certain pair of blue boxers. That curious, willful, wonderful hand closed snugly around Illya's swollen cock and began doing simply delicious things to him. Moaning, he arched against Napoleon, thrusting into the knowing grip.

Napoleon's mouth seemed to be everywhere -- pressed to his lips, nibbling on an ear, suckling one flat nipple Illya would have sworn wasn't that sensitive. Even with full use of his hands, Illya couldn't have held Napoleon when he suddenly wiggled out of his partner's clasp. Before the slight blond could complain, however, his boxers had been efficiently stripped away and a warm mouth descended to take him in.

Illya threw his head back and shouted, writhing in Napoleon's strong grasp. Engulfed in pure pleasure, he bucked mindlessly, seeking only to perpetuate the sensation. Far from stopping him, Napoleon encouraged his thrusts, his hands on Illya's hips lifting him, guiding him into his voracious mouth. It was wild and wonderful and over entirely too soon. Perhaps it had simply been too long for Illya, or perhaps he merely wanted Napoleon too badly. His shout of completion was only partially muffled by one of his bandaged hands.

Devastated by his climax, Illya huddled against Napoleon's chest, bandaged hands curled between them, feeling somehow small and entirely too fragile. Napoleon's arm encircled him, one large hand splayed against the small of his back, pressing him gently close. His free hand roamed ceaselessly, massaging away the few drops of semen which had escaped his ravenous mouth, then traveling to his back to rub tenderly. When the quaking finally diminished, Illya pulled back to look at his lover. His eyes widened slightly; Napoleon was still fully clothed, for heaven's sake.

"I'm sorry, Napoleon, I--"

"Hush." In case the soft command didn't work, Napoleon's eager lips and tongue made certain Illya lost track of the rest of his apology. "You're beautiful, you know that?"

"No, I--" Napoleon cut him off again, in that delightful way he was coming to adore. In private, at least. Eyes closed, he concentrated on fencing with Napoleon's tongue. Mischievous, he lay in wait, tempting Solo's tongue in, then pounced, scraping the limber organ lightly with his teeth. It was his turn to chuckle at his lover's sharp intake of breath.

Suddenly Napoleon's solid chest was no longer against him. He fell the short distance to the mattress and lay still a moment, his face against soft sheets, trying to assimilate the unexpected upheaval. Careful of his hands, Illya propped himself on his elbows and ventured a look. He didn't have time to see much of anything before one broad hand pressed lightly in the center of his back while the other swept his arms out from under him. He chuckled to himself, realizing that Napoleon had him right where he wanted to be.

"You could have simply told me lie still."

"Lie still," Napoleon's rich baritone returned, sounding distracted. Though insanely curious, Illya did precisely that.

After several endless minutes, Napoleon rejoined him on the bed. All intentions to the contrary, Illya gasped aloud when Napoleon's weight settled over him again. He heard his partner's warm chuckle somewhat vaguely, too distracted by the sensation to pay much attention. This time Napoleon's naked thighs framed his equally bare hips, the soft fuzzy weight of the man's balls settling against his buttocks. Illya could clearly feel his lover's hard arousal, yet Napoleon seemed in no hurry. He lifted the bottle from the night table and spread more of the fragrant oil over Illya's back.

The massage began again, its intention no longer relaxing but wildly arousing. The same movements, the same careful working over of each muscle, the same pressure and speed, and yet everything different. Solo was a master of seduction, indeed, and Illya honestly didn't know if he was going to fall asleep under the skillful hands, or go stark raving mad.

Napoleon finished with the small of his back and shifted off him. Illya began to roll bonelessly to his back, but was prevented. Gently spreading his legs apart, Napoleon settled between them and began by massaging each limb from toes to the curve of his buttocks with great concentration. Illya had tensed at first, the vulnerability of the position overcoming even his trust in Napoleon, but the massage was skillfully relaxing and he settled in again, becoming used to the warmth of Napoleon's body between his thighs.

Once he was finished with both legs, Napoleon's hands returned to the small of Illya's back, smoothing out the tension there and slowly moving lower over the curve of his ass. Large hands kneaded his cheeks hypnotically, thumbs caressing the tender skin where thighs ended and buttocks began. They moved inward and upward almost painfully slowly. Illya unconsciously held his breath as Napoleon's thumbs approached more and more sensitive flesh by slow degrees. When they brushed over the crack of his ass without penetrating one whit, he gasped explosively and struggled to push back against Napoleon. At the attempt, Solo's hands lifted away entirely. Illya cursed fluently in his native tongue.

A pool of warm oil was poured onto the sensitized skin just above the division of his cheeks and began to trickle of its own accord down the crack of his ass. He moaned as it flowed, almost too light to be felt, over the hungry opening to his body. Napoleon's fingers followed far too slowly, caressing barely more perceptibly than the oil over the puckered flesh.

"Damn you, Napoleon!" Illya swore between clenched teeth. "Stop playing around and get down to it. I'm no bloody virgin."

Napoleon hesitated, making Illya moan despairingly at the sudden cessation of even the erotically sadistic teasing. "Really? You seemed ... uncertain before." His voice was thick with arousal.

"I was questioning your motives, not mine!"

Napoleon chuckled huskily, the sound running like wildfire over Illya's raw nerves. The pressure of his hands increased, closing over his cheeks with strength, thumbs pushing between them to rub commandingly over receptive flesh. Illya cried out as one pierced the barrier and sank into his body. He bucked against Napoleon's confinement and forced himself up on his knees, making himself more vulnerable. But Napoleon refused to increase the penetration any, keeping that one thumb rubbing softly just inside the opening. His other hand reached between Illya's splayed legs and cradled the heavy sac, rolling Illya's swollen balls between his fingers. Illya choked on his desire, pushing back against Napoleon's hands as well as he was able. They shifted; the thumb was removed and a finger inserted, thrusting softly in and out, smoothing more of the oil into the hungry orifice. One finger was replaced by two, caressing the inside of Illya's body, stretching him, but never diving quite deep enough to touch that place inside which brought the greatest pleasure.

"Napoleon! Napoleon, please ... " Panting, shuddering for breath, and more aroused than he could ever remember being, Illya knew the only escape was through his partner. "Please, now ... "

Napoleon's hands shifted to his hips, their slight tremor Illya's first indication of the depth of his lover's arousal. Yet he still hesitated, rubbing his swollen cock against Illya's ass without attempting entry. Hazily, Kuryakin realized Napoleon was lubricating himself in the oil he'd massaged over his body. Then the head pressed against his ass and he bit his lip as Napoleon entered him. Slow and inexorable, the thick shaft shoved its way up his ass, and the pain of it drowned in the pleasure. The thickness of it stretching him bordered on agony, yet the agony became exquisite in the feeling of fullness, of sweet completion. Finally, soft pubic hair touched his ass, and the heavy weight of Napoleon's balls tapped lightly against his own, and he knew he had all of him.

Napoleon rested there a moment, as they both savored the feel of him, lodged deep in Illya's ass. Then his hands tilted Illya's hips slightly; he pulled out and thrust to the hilt in one long stroke. Illya cried out throatily. The pleasure was so intense he almost blacked out, overwhelmed by the stimulation of his prostate. And then Napoleon did it again, and again. He thrust hard and fast, each stroke pulling almost completely out of Illya's body, then burying himself as far as he could go once again.

Illya shuddered under the assault, pleasure pouring through him in waves. His precarious balance on elbows and knees was as oddly thrilling as Napoleon's strong grip on his hips, guiding and supporting him. Each stroke pierced him to the core, sending shock waves rippling out from that point of maximum sensitivity. He hovered on the verge of absolute pleasure, yet was held inexorably back from the brink. His neglected erection pulsed and wept, but no hand moved to offer solace. Illya squirmed, unable to shift his balance enough to release a hand, and that hand unable to grasp his throbbing cock, even if he could get it free. Napoleon's embrace tightened, stilling him again for his powerful thrusts. His soft chuckle brushed against Illya's ear.

"Patience, little one," he panted, heaving chest blanketing Illya's back. Words deserting, all that escaped Kuryakin's throat was a low moan of frustration.

Illya squeezed his eyes shut and concentrated on the sensation of Napoleon's cock sliding in and out of his body. He pushed back against it as it entered, seeking deeper penetration, more exquisite pleasure. Napoleon moaned breathlessly when Illya deliberately tightened the muscles surrounding him. With shocking suddenness, he pulled entirely out.

"No!" Illya gasped desperately. " 'Polya--"

"Hush, love," Napoleon rolled him tenderly to his back and gathered the muscular legs into his arms. He slid home in one long stroke, groaning as he did so. For long moments they paused, eyes meeting in a timeless space of brown and blue.

Then Illya wrapped his legs around Napoleon's waist and arched his back wantonly. Solo's gasp was audible, his reaction all that could be desired. Illya shuddered under the force of his thrusts, writhing as the brush of Napoleon's muscular chest over his swollen flesh tormented him with pleasure. Napoleon's lips brushed wildly over his face and chest, distributing soft sucking kisses and hard nips with equal ardor. Illya's arms and legs closed tightly about Napoleon's back as he struggled toward release under his partner's powerful body. They reached flashpoint within moments, crying their release heartbeats apart, Illya's come splattered their chests seconds before the hot rush of Napoleon's climax filled him.

Long moments passed before either was able to do more than lie awestruck, panting for breath. Illya moaned softly when Napoleon's softening member slipped from him. Napoleon massaged Illya's trembling legs, gently breaking their lock on his waist, settling them tenderly to the mattress. When he moved to shift his weight off his lover, the strong arms tightened their clasp around his shoulders. With a sigh, Napoleon settled his head on Illya's chest and relaxed into his warm embrace, one hand wandering idly, soothingly, over any part of Illya within reach. Sighing, Illya let pleasant exhaustion drag him under, protected by Napoleon's precious weight.

When he drifted back to consciousness, it was full dark outside the window, and he was being lifted tenderly into Napoleon's arms.

"Napoleon, what--?" He broke off, his mouth otherwise occupied for several long and highly satisfying moments. Napoleon ended the kiss with a soft chuckle.

"Just relax, Illya. Trust me." He carried the unprotesting Russian into the bathroom, pausing a moment in the doorway to let him drink in the full effect. The large bath, the only luxury of the sparse hotel room, was full of fragrant water, the fitful light of candles glinting off the steaming surface. Illya wondered vaguely where Napoleon had found all the candles, and came to the conclusion that, whatever else his handsome partner was, he was a romantic. Napoleon knelt next to the bath and gently lowered his lover into the scented water. Picking up a soft sponge, he washed Illya with long sensual strokes.

"You don't have to pamper me like this, Napoleon," Illya protested reluctantly, enjoying the attention very much indeed. After all, he could hardly bathe himself with his hands bandaged.

"Maybe I want to," Napoleon rejoined quietly, his hands never hesitating. "You're going to be very sore in the morning if you don't soak a bit now. Why did you lie to me?" He didn't look up, but Illya recognized that mild tone. It usually meant Napoleon was mad as a hornet.

"Did I lie?" Illya asked innocently, though he knew it wouldn't work. When Napoleon used that tone, he could be very tenacious about getting an answer. Still, the strong hands continued to move over his body with a very tender touch. Illya stretched, feeling the complaints of muscles never before used, and knew Solo was right. Still, the ache felt good, a reminder of Napoleon's glorious possession.

"You did. You told me you weren't a virgin."

"I'm not!" Illya glared angrily at Napoleon. "Just because I don't sleep with everything that crosses my path--"

"That's not what I meant, and you know it," Napoleon was forced to raise his voice to interrupt. It softened again when Illya shut up, seething quietly. "You lied; you implied that you'd been taken by a man before."


"And I've never felt anything so hot and tight in my life." Napoleon's voice shook slightly at the memory. After a moment, he returned to his lazy sponging of Illya's sleek form, under control again. "We both know you lied. I want to know why."

"You, of all people, ought to know the answer to that." The look Napoleon gave him was profoundly disbelieving. "You were the one who taught me how to volunteer untruths when tortured." Illya kept his tone light, not liking Napoleon's intensity on the subject.

"Tortured?" Napoleon sounded highly incensed, but less tense. Illya smiled to himself.

"You were driving me out of my mind," Illya was highly gratified to see Napoleon swallow convulsively, flushing under his gaze. "I knew you'd be less hesitant if you thought me experienced. I needed your strength, Napoleon," he finished in a whisper.

"It was dangerous," Napoleon maintained huskily, profoundly affected by Illya's soft confession. "I could have hurt you."

"Never." Illya brushed his bandaged hand over Napoleon's cheek, wishing he could feel the warm skin against his palm. "Let's not argue, Napoleon. You didn't hurt me, quite the contrary, in fact. And if you have any doubts about the depth of pleasure you brought me..." he laughed softly, taking Napoleon's breath away, then stole it more conventionally in a prolonged kiss. "Now," Illya continued after their lips leisurely separated, not quite managing to hide his breathlessness, "are you coming in, or do I have to sit here all on my own?"

Napoleon stared at the pleading expression turned on him and nobly overcame his better nature. He urged Illya to move forward and settled into the bath behind him, stretching long legs to either side. Highly satisfied with this proof of his new-found power over Napoleon, Illya leaned back against the warm solid chest, sinking luxuriantly into his lover's embrace. Napoleon's hands roamed over Illya's torso, exploring and caressing with no intent to arouse. It was a light, loving touch which Illya found as delightful as it was unexpected.

His head resting against Napoleon's shoulder, Illya soaked decadently, letting his eyes follow the dancing candlelight on the surface of the water. Napoleon nuzzled against his hair, making soft snuffling noises in his ear, and he grinned. He only had one regret in the whole matter.

"I wish I could touch you."

Napoleon laughed softly, "Somehow I think if you could we'd be hard put to survive the experience." He kissed the side of Illya's neck. "I've never felt anything so powerful before."

"Coming from you, that's quite an accolade." Napoleon was quiet for a long time. Finally, his roaming hands tightened briefly in a quick embrace.

"I'll give up women."

"No you won't," Illya snorted gently. "Lifelong habits aren't easily broken."

"I stopped smoking when you asked, didn't I?"

"I somehow doubt it's the same." Illya wiggled his shoulders against Napoleon, pushing himself more firmly against his partner.

"I think it is. If I remember your argument properly, smoking was bad for my health, and anything bad for my health was also bad for yours. I quit because it might hurt you. My sleeping with others will hurt you, therefore I won't do it. Simple."

Illya squirmed around to see Napoleon's face. In the wavering candlelight, sincerity shone clearly through. Though he had no idea if Napoleon could actually live up to his word, he had every certainty that he truly intended to. Arguing the point would only hurt Napoleon's feelings, so Illya switched tacks.

"What about Waverly?"

"What about him?"

"He's bound to notice if you stop gadding about. He'll become suspicious."

"I very much doubt anything we could do would shock Mr. Waverly. So long as it doesn't interfere with our performance... on the job that is," he snickered, "he won't care what we do."

"Yes, but he's not fond of field agents getting too attached to each other. I somehow think this," he twisted to kiss the edge of Napoleon's jaw, "would tend to qualify as 'too attached'."

Napoleon chuckled, his hands tightening possessively around Illya. "You might be right. Very well then, I'll continue dating, from time to time, so he won't think we're getting too ... exclusive. But I have no intention of sleeping with anyone but you."

Illya didn't bother straining to see Napoleon's face again -- his sincerity was unquestionable. For a long moment, he found himself speechless. The enormity of the offer was frightening, but he would have been lying if he pretended it wasn't precisely what he wanted. The moment was too powerful to sustain comfortably.

Illya nuzzled his head playfully against Napoleon's cheek. "What am I getting myself into?" He murmured.

"Who knows?" Napoleon chuckled delightedly at the deliberate double entendre. "But won't it be fun finding out?"


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