by Miss Pamela

Illya knocked on the door of Napoleon's apartment. He hated to interrupt Napoleon unannounced—you could either end up with a gun in your face or you could walk in on any manner of sexual hijinks between him and his current paramour. Illya was unfortunately familiar with both of those scenarios through personal experience, though he was not entirely sure which one he preferred.

Napoleon's door swung open just a half-second after Illya finished knocking on it. "Brigitte, you little minx, I—"

Illya raised his eyebrows. "Minx?"

Napoleon regarded him with a slightly disappointed air. "If you had seen the lady in question, you would know that it's an apt description." He opened the door and gestured Illya inside.

Apparently this minx was well worth making a little extra effort. Napoleon had placed candles all around his elegant penthouse, low jazz music was crooning from the turntable, and a bottle of champagne was chilling next to the settee. Napoleon himself was the picture of elegance in an impeccable black tuxedo.

Illya glanced around. "Charming, though you seem to be missing one key element."

Napoleon's brow creased. "Oh?"

"The lady."

"Well, she appears to be running a bit late."

"I won't keep you. I just wanted you to sign this report. Waverly wants it tonight, or our next mission will take place in the mailroom. Starting tomorrow."

Napoleon grimaced. "I hate paper cuts."

Illya nodded. "And I hate working Saturdays, so I would like this taken care of as soon as possible."

Napoleon plucked the report out of Illya's hands, placing it against the wall. He fished a pen out of his jacket and leaned forward to sign the report.

Just as his pen touched the paper, the phone jangled. Napoleon picked it up off the side table with his free hand. "Solo here."

Illya assumed it was the infamous Brigitte; he could hear her breathy squeaks emanating from the phone.

Napoleon was nodding. "Yes. No. Yes. No, I understand. Best wishes. I'll send a card." He hung up the phone with a sigh.

"No Brigitte?" Illya questioned.

"No Brigitte."

"Don't tell me you're losing your touch."

Napoleon drew himself up, affronted. "I'll have you know that my touch is just fine." He made a wry face. "She's getting married."

"That's sudden."

Napoleon walked over to the kitchen. "Apparently I had the honor of being 'the other man.'" He held up two crystal champagne flutes. "Champagne?"

Illya smirked "You don't have another lady waiting in the wings? As a backup?" He accepted the glass, turning it in the light to admire its clarity. "It is Valentine's Day, after all."

"Don't remind me." Napoleon poured them both generous glasses of Champagne.

Illya followed him over to the couch. "I would think that Valentine's Day would be your High Holy Day." He waved his glass to indicate both the romantic atmosphere of the apartment and Napoleon's dapper attire. "You do it so well."

Napoleon sighed. "Most women want more concrete...declarations on Valentine's Day. It can get rather uneasy."

Illya sipped the excellent Champagne and thought about that. "True. I suppose the point is to celebrate meaningful relationships. Hearts, flowers, obscene amounts of diamonds. Promises of undying love." He snorted softly. "If you go in for that sort of thing."

Napoleon nodded his assent. They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes, drinking Champagne and listening to the soft crooning from the record player. Illya very nearly fell asleep, lulled by the music and Napoleon's soft breathing next to him.

Napoleon turned to him suddenly and said, "Meaningful relationships, hmm?"

Illya nodded.

Napoleon smiled. "Well then, it seems that I ended up with just the right company after all." He saluted Illya with his Champagne flute.

Illya started to make a flippant remark, but was cut short by the warm, affectionate look in Napoleon's eyes. It was true. The excess of women in Napoleon's life (and the dearth in his) never seemed to affect their relationship. Partners, friends—it was the constant in their lives. He just never expected Napoleon to get maudlin about it.

Napoleon was most likely feeling the loss of Brigitte. Illya was surprised he hadn't called anyone yet to take her place. He couldn't help asking, "Am I your backup?"

Napoleon winked at him. "You're always my backup." He laughed, seemingly surprising himself. "That's the point, isn't it?"

Illya snorted. "It's a thankless job."

"Well, I'm making it up to you. Would you like flowers? Poetry?"

Illya shot him a dark look. "If you hadn't noticed, I am not Brigitte."

Napoleon gave him a lingering up-and-down appraisal. "No, most certainly not. You'd look terrible in pink satin. Still," He reached out and ran his hand down Illya's arm. "You have your own charms."

"Honestly, Napoleon. It's a little late for that, don't you think?" He straightened up on the couch. "I've seen your seduction technique a hundred times on a hundred different women. It loses its effectiveness after the first year or so."

It was all well and good if Napoleon wanted to woo him. Treating him like one of his bubble-headed girls was another matter entirely.

"No hearts and flowers?"

"No, but I will take some caviar to go with this Champagne."

"How do you know I have caviar?"

"You always have caviar on special occasions."

Napoleon tweaked Illya's nose as he passed him on the way to the kitchen. "You know me so well."

Illya swatted him away. He could hear Napoleon clinking around in the kitchen, making little "aha" noises of satisfaction.

He rematerialized moments later at Illya's elbow. "Your caviar, sir."

Illya applied himself to the caviar as diligently as he had to the Champagne. "I like your brand of romance."

"No, you just like my brand of caviar." Napoleon regarded him fondly. "So, no diamonds?"

"Hmm?" Illya looked up from the food.

"You don't want diamonds or promises of undying love?"

"We're already partners for however long our lives might be, and I certainly don't need baubles." Illya scowled. " I like my privacy. I don't need a wife."

Napoleon plucked the cracker out of his hand and ate it, sliding across the couch as he did so. "I'll ignore that insult to my masculinity."

He placed his hand on Illya's knee. "So...a jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou? That's all you need?" Napoleon's dark eyes glimmered in the candlelight.

What, did Napoleon think that pretty words would turn his head? Illya very nearly found it insulting. Their friendship—love, really—ran far deeper than that.

"Oh, for heaven's sake—" Illya reached forwards and pulled Napoleon into a hot, demanding kiss. "I told you, I don't need to be seduced. You're wasting valuable time."

"Well," Napoleon said, slightly taken aback. "I should have done this ages ago."

Napoleon smiled, predatory. Illya shivered a little under the weight of his stare. Perhaps he was a little more susceptible to Napoleon's charms than he would care to admit. "Then we can skip the proposal and head straight to the...consummation."

He leaned over Illya, his nimble fingers undoing Illya's buttons and holster, and neither of them had much to say for some time after that.

Hours later, they lay entwined on Napoleon's bed, basking in the flickering candlelight.

Illya propped himself up on one elbow. "So, are you disappointed that your little minx didn't show up tonight?"

Napoleon looked up. He smiled and began absentmindedly tracing patterns on Illya's chest. "Brigitte? Hardly. Though I must say, you're quite the little m—"

"Napoleon, if you call me a minx, I will break every one of your fingers. Slowly."

Napoleon hastily whisked his hand away to a safe distance. He pushed Illya back onto the pillow. "Down, boy."

Illya suddenly remembered the report they had discarded in the living room. "On second thought, Napoleon, perhaps one of us had better break a few fingers."

"Now, why would we want to do that?"

Illya sighed. "It's probably the only excuse Mr. Waverly will accept for turning that report in so late."

"Tell him I had a hot date. You couldn't reach me because my communicator was off."

"You always have a hot date. He won't take that as an excuse. Besides, what do you think he will have to say about leaving your communicator off?"

Napoleon pulled him closer. "Well, at least I'll be the only one that gets in trouble."

Illya raised his eyebrows. "You'd do that? It must be love," he commented wryly.

Napoleon kissed his fingers gently. "But of course."

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