by Jane Terry

With thanks to Psmythe. Originally published in the zine Classified Affairs 3.

If it was not the most uncomfortable position Solo had found himself in, it was certainly the most humiliating.

After his too recent capture by three heavy-duty Thrush operatives, he had been beaten, stripped and shackled to the concrete floor of a large warehouse. The position he was in was awkward and she would have been right except for Napoleon's luck in stumbling across Wayne Petersen, a biochemist who had no scruples and wanted to earn some extra money on the side.

Napoleon's luck? Look where he was now.

But it shouldn't be for too long, he told himself. Even though Illya wasn't on the case with him, someone should be rescuing him soon, preferably before Madam Sing had a chance to enact her vengeance.

Napoleon tried to be hopeful. Waverly knew he was tracking Petersen. Heather should be able to link Petersen to the Century Building. He just hoped it wouldn't take too long for them to put it all together.

It took five days.

It must be morning again.

Napoleon Solo shuddered as he saw the Dragon Lady approach, the needle in her red-taloned hand. He winced as he felt it, this time at the soft of his waist, an icy jab which turned to fire, like the sting of a giant wasp. The pain radiated out from its center, filling him with the usual sensation of anxious lassitude and, as usual, the random misfires along his nerves, spine and brainstem that stole all speech and muscle control, trapping him inside his nude body even as he was freed from the clamps.

"Ah, good morning, Missah Solo. Ready for breakfast?"

Tiny Madame Wing Sing, the Dragon Lady, directed Rick, Harry and George to drag him to the table and wedge him upright on a chair. This was always tricky for the U.N.C.L.E. agent. Because the drug made him twitch and babble and drool and flail about aimlessly whenever he tried to move, speak or even focus on something, Napoleon had learned not to attempt any movement at all. Let his captors do for him, so he could conserve his strength and sanity. So they wouldn't laugh at his futile jibbers and spasms. But if he asserted no control over his body at the table, he invariably fell face down into his bowl of slop, or tumbled off the chair. And his agent's instincts of self-preservation in a fall always backfired, making him flop and twist and land badly. Making them laugh.

Napoleon felt a spot of dampness in his eye, a tear. He didn't fight it, didn't try to suppress it, just let it be. How long had he been here, anyway? Wasn't anyone ever coming to save him? Or had U.N.C.L.E. given up on him, because if an agent isn't rescued in the first twenty-four hours, there generally isn't anything left to rescue. Had Illya given up on him?

If he was expected to rescue himself from the Dragon Lady before she managed to auction him off to the highest-bidding satrapy, then his likelihood of escape was non-existent. He was little more than a jointed doll in her henchmen's hands.

Harry held his head up by the hair while Rick spooned thin cereal, cream of wheat maybe, into his mouth.

Don't swallow the cereal--let it slide down the throat. Yesterday he had forgotten, and his convulsing esophagus had sent milk toast up and out his nose. What a horselaugh for Rick and Harry.

Now a "shower"—him lying propped against the wall while they sprayed a hose over him. The chilly water sluiced away his spilled gruel, as well as his urine and feces. A ragged cloth was tossed at his head in lieu of a towel, but he didn't reach for it. Don't use it. Don't move. Don't do anything. Passivity is safety.

The first day and much of the second he had tried to fight the drug. Tried to command his flying arms and legs to coordinate, regroup, assemble, and execute orders. He had bruised his face and hands badly. They had laughed and let him roll around loose and impotent, till the Dragon Lady had scolded them for damaging the sales value of her property.

Even when he didn't try, his body jerked itself around in the occasional fit, and he'd acquired more gashes and bruises as a result. Only in a fetal position was he safe.

Despair knotted his chest. Could he last till U.N.C.L.E. found him? Would he still be any good as an agent when they did?

Air-dried now, he was hauled to a corner of the warehouse and dropped there. That might be good; that might mean that today he was to be left utterly alone instead of teased or prodded or shocked into chaotic movement for his captors' amusement. The downside was that, flat on his back, it was sometimes a question of whether to drown in his accumulated saliva or to risk the convulsions swallowing could bring on. With luck, he managed to land with his head to one side, so he could just drool quietly.

He dreamed, eyes open. He saw himself jumping up, lithe and active. Crouched and cunning, he sped forward with a smile. Found Harry, hooked one arm about his neck, broke it. Flew on to Rick, grabbed his thick rancid hair, flung him into the wall, then dropped him with a laugh and a kick to the throat when he foolishly returned for more. Dash to the door, dodge the bullet fired at him by the Dragon Lady, sweep the little pistol from her brittle fingers. He could tuck her under one arm, despite her yowls and sharp claws.

Red claws, in front of his slack face. Steel and glass hypo swinging toward him, again. Napoleon shuddered. Time for the second shot of the day.

A fearful thought rippled through him: he hadn't felt the first one wear off yet. Could this drugged condition possibly be becoming permanent?

"So nice, Missah Solo," Madame Sing crowed as she injected him. "The bids are flowing in. They are over a hundred thousand already. I think you shall be sold for one million easily by tomorrow."

"Guh-fvuh-uh-uh," Napoleon choked out.

"Are you so impatient to leave us, Missah Solo? Have you not enjoyed the hospitality of my humble house? Ah, you white devils are so hard to please. Or am I not beautiful enough today?" She checked her reflection in the steel band of the hypo. "Mm, perhaps a touching up is needed, do you not agree?" She vanished, reappearing in a while bearing a makeup tray. Kneeling, she set out her goods on Napoleon's torso: a mirror, a comb, jars of color, tiny metal implements, ashtray and cigarettes.

The agent let a sigh escape him. Vanity table for an old woman. She did like to humiliate him.

"You hold still now," she ordered, brandishing a pair of tweezers with a self-satisfied smile. "Or I give you a little reminder," and she nipped the skin over his ribs.

Napoleon flinched but miraculously held still. She adjusted her mirror, started creaming off her old paint. Absently, she wiped her greasy hands on his flank, then took out a cigarette and match. The match lit with a sulfurous flare.

Perhaps he tried too hard to do nothing. A warning tremor, then he spasmed, flinging her pots of rouge and creams onto her gold brocade cheong-sam, making her shriek with rage.

"You turn into a toad!" she cried and threw her lit cigarette at him. Napoleon flailed as his instincts sought to make him dodge it, then the paper matches she lit and hurled at him. Some he evaded by random chance, others he intercepted or even landed on. Darts of pain lanced into him as he crushed the fires out.

But he could not stop his convulsions now. He was tossing about on the cold concrete floor like a ship in a storm, beating his limbs, torso and head against the walls and floor with loud sickening slaps and thuds, and a weird, high-pitched garble keening from his mouth. It was frightening, even to himself. Too much inaction, and now he was paying the price. He might even beat himself to death. It was his worst fit ever.

Even the Dragon Lady looked concerned. He heard her order her henchmen to fall on him, restrain him. He saw himself land a few good, if inadvertent, kicks and punches as they hauled him to the brackets that held him in position at night, and fastened him down.

U-clamps over his wrists, elbows, knees and ankles, as he crouched, head down, rump up. He rocked, jerking on his bonds, but could not get loose, could not hurt himself anymore. They wouldn't hurt him while he was in that position. It was safety.

The blessed bonds reassured him with their strength, their fixed certainty, and his body began to calm down. A little part of him insisted that this was wrong, that he ought to fight--but even the thought made his head jerk and slam against his forearms uselessly. No. He who waits to run away can run away that other day.

As usual, they left him alone now, going about their other nefarious business.

Unmeasured time passed and he felt the drug's effect ebb. Experimentally, he moved his finger, tracing a pattern on the floor. His body was once again under his control, though being confined within the restraints made it impossible to assert that control.

The awkwardness of the position was humiliating. In addition, it was uncomfortable, and over hours, it became painful.

Despite the fact that George turned up the heat for him each night, the cold seeped up from the concrete floor. The ache of cold permeated his arms and legs.

He longed to extend his aching limbs; even the thought of stretching out on the cold concrete floor became a tantalizing dream. To just have some peace from this constriction.

The shackles allowed practically no movement at all. He could bend his head down--tilting his rear high. He grimaced to think of what that would look like to any possible observers. But over the hours he did assume that posture to take some of the strain off of his back.

He thought about Illya.

If Illya had been working with him, he would probably have rescued him by now. He seemed to have almost a radar about Napoleon's whereabouts. And of course the converse was true--Napoleon usually had a sixth sense about his partner's whereabouts. However, this radar probably didn't extend across the Atlantic. There was no way Illya was going to be able to rescue him from 5000 miles away.

For that matter, Illya could be chained in some dungeon in Istanbul with no hope of rescue there.

Enough! he scolded himself. Morbid thoughts are the last thing you need. Illya's probably fine.

He wondered what Illya was doing now. He's probably finished the mission and is off in a hotel with some dark-haired sultana. The dark-haired ones often took to his fair-haired partner, much to Napoleon's chagrin sometimes when he had his eye on a sloe-eyed beauty.

But he didn't begrudge his partner's romantic success now. He hoped his partner was humping away on a canopied bed somewhere. At least one of them should be having some fun.

He imagined his friend in bed with a woman. The dark-haired girl from the Foreign Legion affair: Alayana. Voluptuous and willing. She had wanted Napoleon, but she would probably have liked Illya too.

He imagined his blond partner making love to her, their light and dark bodies entwined. He smiled. He sure hoped Illya was having a good time.

The fantasy helped him to transport out of his own misery. It was a technique of mental control he had used often to help him withstand torture.

It worked to relax the tenseness in his muscles, at least as much as was possible in his position. The slight excitement from the sexual nature of the fantasy warmed him enough to take away a bit of the chill that was permeating his body.

It didn't help a lot. But that, along with his exhaustion, allowed him to drift into a difficult sleep.

He lived the beating again. And other beatings of course.

He was brave in his dreams, fighting back, winning this time. Single-handedly fighting off the three Thrush guards.

They shot at him, but it didn't matter because their bullets couldn't hurt him. They beat at him with their rifles, and it hurt, bruising, aching blows, but they couldn't stop him. He instinctively knew the moves to make--the neck chop to one, the left hook to the other's stomach.

The kung fu kick to the other--right to his balls.

He watched them fall, gleefully ready for some more...


He hadn't even known he'd known kung fu, and now he was eager to try it out on some more Thrush.

"Napoleon!" The feminine voice cut into his dream.

He blinked. The pretty face that was peering at him anxiously was familiar. He blinked again. Hazel eyes. Finely chiseled features framed by dark auburn hair. April. April Dancer. Girl wonder from Section II. Sister-in-arms...come to rescue him.

"Did they drug you? Can you talk?" she asked anxiously.

"Drugs...before...but I think they've worn off..." His voice was rusty from disuse, his throat dry and stiff.

She took something, a bit of wire, and began working on the metal cuff on his forearm. "Mark is upstairs setting the explosives." She worked efficiently as she tripped the mechanism. Even faster than I could have done it, he noted admiringly.

She sprang the other arm cuff loose, then got to work on the ones on his legs. He waited awkwardly, still braced on his forearms, as she worked on the shackles, embarrassingly conscious of her close proximity to his naked hindquarters. A shiver went through him.

"Oh!" she exclaimed softly. "I didn't think..." She stopped her work on the mechanism. He felt something draped over him, covering some of his nakedness.

She got back to work on the clamps around his wrists. Those were different from the others and seemed to take longer. "They only have a skeleton crew at night," she informed him. "I think we got all of the guards but the new shift could be coming in any time now."

"What time is it?" he asked.

"About ten of six."

So he had been out all night. Soon they would have come in to get him. To torment him again? Or was Sing finished with him?

Or this time, would he be raped? That's what they'd said he would do, hadn't they? They'd even teased George about it. That's what they'd promised.

He shook his head to clear out the jumbles. That scenario was not going to occur, thanks to the pretty maiden who had come to rescue him. Comrade. Sister-in-arms. So he hadn't been abandoned after all. He wondered if she'd had a sixth sense about where he was. Or maybe Waverly had.

She sprung the last shackle open. He tried to unbend his leg, but it was stubborn and didn't want to move.

She saw his dilemma. "You're stiff, huh? I guess we have a couple of minutes for you to loosen up."

He stretched himself slowly till he was flat, his legs stretched behind him, elbows to the side of his head. "I hope so. Because though the spirit is willing, the body won't budge." It was sadly true.

"Here." She shoved something under his head: her rolled up jacket. "This is horrible, this cold floor...oh those nasties..." She seemed to be restraining a sob. Emotional. Had she never seen her partner beaten? Or been beaten herself? He swallowed his criticism. If she was more overtly emotional, so what? She managed to do her job successfully; here she was rescuing him. And it wasn't the first time.

He felt the warmth of her hands on his leg, massaging out the stiffness, rubbing out the chill. She worked quickly and clinically, as any agent would do for another under the circumstances. She worked for a few minutes. He felt his circulation returning some, the muscles relaxing. Barely. Not much, far from peak performance, but he thought he might be able to attempt movement now.

"Okay," he said, and sat up. He saw that she had covered him with a coverall she or Mark had stripped off of one of the guards. He smiled. Use of his muscles. Clothes. Life was just one big bowl of cherries.

He pulled on the outfit as she waited. By now he had shed any awkwardness at being naked in front of her, so when he found the concrete had drained the remaining dexterity out of his fingers, he allowed her to fasten the buttons of his uniform for him.

"Why are you blowing up the building?" he asked as she put her jacket on. His assignment had only been to destroy certain documents.

"If we look for the Petersen files, we might run into more trouble. Waverly said he's not going to risk any more agents over 'this damn satrapy.'"

He recognized his boss's inflections in her tone and grinned. "He thought I was dead?"

She grinned back at him. "He thought there was a good chance that was the case when your transponder stopped transmitting. He was furious!"

He pulled on the shoes she handed him and started to struggle with the laces before she brushed his hands away and did it for him. A pleasant peacefulness reassured him. Waverly put on the show that Section II agents were expendable, but in actuality he was fiercely protective of his operatives.

"What time are the explosives set to go off?"

She glanced at her watch and looked slightly shocked. "Less time then I thought. Eight more minutes. Come on, we'd better get going." She pulled him to his feet, and he followed her as she led him through the maze of rooms to the stairs.

So the night-time personnel would be killed and probably some of the daytime shift too. They were the bad guys, but they were still human, and he didn't like it. Some agents had the philosophy that the only good Thrush was a dead one, and their kill rates were a lot higher than his and Illya's. He and Illya always made an effort to take prisoners and avoid the killing.

April and Mark were the same way, but these were exceptional circumstances. If Petersen's data was transported to Thrush research and development, a lot of innocent people could die as a result. Hopefully the Dragon Lady hadn't delivered it yet.

April, still holding his hand, gave him more than a little of her strength as they traversed the building. He was weak. Maybe 40%, he assessed, but enough. He saw the bodies of two unconscious guards as they ran. They dodged around one and leaped over the other.

His legs had improved. Now they felt like rubber, but he willed them enough to climb the stairs.

He thought about the two men who had beaten him. He didn't see them but they were probably lying unconscious from a sleep dart. They would be dead within minutes. They had been brutal, enjoying the pain they had caused him. They were killers, only restraining themselves until their superiors gave them the go-ahead to kill him. Whatever they had been at one time, they had lost any semblance of humanity.

And George. The faggot. The man who would have had him if he hadn't been rescued. Napoleon shivered.

George had turned up the heat. A small kindness from a Thrush who had not completely lost his humanity. Still human.

Napoleon didn't like to kill human beings.

April pushed open the door and pulled him out after her. He followed her through the parked cars across the parking lot.

Mark was waiting for them behind the green dumpster. "Cutting it a bit close, aren't you, love?"

"What d'ya mean? We still have all of thirty seconds." She traded a glance with her partner over Napoleon's head, and then as though their movements had been choreographed, they both came at Napoleon, pushing him down, sheltering him with their bodies.

He felt and heard the sounds of the explosives simultaneously. The reverberations rocked through the ground. Even the dumpster clanged metallically, spewing garbage in the air, some of it falling on them. He allowed the weight and warmth of their bodies to protect him. He waited passively for the shock waves to subside.

They moved off and sat up. They didn't say anything for a moment. April still stayed close to him, her knee against his thigh.

Mark stood up to assess the damage. "I'd say we put them out of business." There was a satisfied lilt in his voice.

Napoleon detected the arid smell of smoke mingled with the aroma of garbage on the November wind. A moment later he heard the sirens of fire engines. It was cold and the coverall April had given him was not that heavy. The temperature had dropped significantly in the days since he had been captured by Thrush.

The other two agents exchanged a worried look. Mark took off his jacket and insisted that Napoleon put it on. He pushed his hands deep into the pockets and shivered.

April pulled out her communicator. "Open Channel D."

Waverly's dry voice came out of the tiny device. "Report, Ms. Dancer."

"Mark and I located and freed Mr. Solo, then destroyed the building as ordered."

"Very good, Ms. Dancer. Is Mr. Solo in need of medical treatment?"

Solo heard the faint anxiety in Waverly's dry voice. He reached for the communicator to reassure his boss. "I'm fine—"

But April turned so that he couldn't take the communicator from her. "Extensive bruising. Some burns. Possible exposure. I think he should be checked over."

"I'll have an ambulance dispatched along with reinforcements."

She signed off and closed the communicator efficiently.

Napoleon realized his mouth was still open and closed it. Exposure? Well, he supposed it wouldn't hurt to have a doctor check him out. He'd probably get at least a day off out of it.

With the drug worn off, he felt more confident then he had just hours earlier. If pressed, he thought he could have supervised the cleanup operation and stayed on duty for another couple of hours, but their backup had arrived and he had no doubt April and Mark could handle things from here on.

Contrary to Napoleon's judgement, the doctors decided to keep him, which was probably for the best. Even though his incarceration hadn't done any critical damage--the drug Sing had used was not long-lasting and the burns were second degree--the effects of the bruising and sleep deprivation had caught up with him.

By the time he was tucked away on Ward 17--a private room, courtesy of U.N.C.L.E.'s medical coverage--he was grateful for the codeine the doctor had ordered for him.

He was sensitive to the sedative. His sleep was heavy and his waking hours groggy during his hospital stay. He was surprised to notice an IV attached to his arm after his mid-afternoon nap; a nurse explained to him that it was only to replace fluids.

By the third day, the bruising was only mildly uncomfortable and, as he expected, the doctor decided to send him home. He suggested warm baths and aspirin, which he could have figured out himself. Right now, his own apartment seemed like the most attractive place to be.

He was back in the warehouse again, kneeling shackled on the concrete floor. His skin was goose-fleshed from the chill. Lights went on, but they were not bright.

He heard the sound of footsteps approaching, but he couldn't turn to see who was coming.

"Madam said I could have you." Soft. A mild baritone. He recognized the voice. George.

A hand touched his back and his body leached the warmth from the hand. George stroked along his spine, taking away the cold. "This is what you want, isn't it, U.N.C.L.E. man?" he said. Napoleon couldn't tell if he meant to be mocking. He didn't answer. His throat was too frozen to answer.

George moved so that Napoleon could see his legs, and most of him if he tilted his head back. He watched the Thrush man unfasten his belt, then undo the trousers.

Napoleon tried to swallow, but the fear stuck in his throat. It didn't matter. If he could manage to cry out, no one would hear him. No one would save him.

It was going to happen. It was actually going to happen--that thing that agents never talked about to each other.

The Thrush man opened his fly and pulled his penis out. Napoleon saw he was erect. He stroked the large pink organ and it stood out stiffly. "Think you can handle this, U.N.C.L.E. man?"

Napoleon finally swallowed and looked down at the hard grey floor. He had no choice but to handle it. This was Thrush he was dealing with. The enemy sworn to destroy him. Begging for mercy would be useless.

George came behind him and knelt between his thighs. The weight of his body was surprisingly comforting. The warmth enveloped him. "I think you can handle this," The other man's face was close to his. He spoke into Napoleon's ear. His voice was a whisper. "I think you're gonna handle this just fine."

He felt the fumbling of fingers between his ass cheeks, and then a heaviness, a pressing heavy pain--

It hurt, oh Lord, it hurt so bad. He felt as if he was being torn open. The weight invaded, reaching for his core.

Then suddenly the weight didn't hurt anymore.

It filled him completely. He stopped fighting it. The weight was filling him, encompassing him, and he didn't care. He wanted it.

"You want this, don'tcha, U.N.C.L.E. man?"

Yes. He didn't care what the man would do with the information. It was his secret, not U.N.C.L.E.'s to tell.

Push push push. Whisper. "You need this." The pressure swelled within him and burst.

Napoleon gasped into the rucked up sheets. He waited for his heart to slow its relentless pounding.

What had happened to him?

A nightmare. Most definitely.

Sweat soaked body. Tangled-up blankets. Racing pulse.

His slowly waning cock sticking to the sheets--sticky with semen. The wash of pleasurable well-being throughout his body that was uniquely post coital.

What the hell had happened to him? He flushed in the darkness. A wet dream. A goddamned wet dream over some Thrush bastard fucking him.

Headquarters became his refuge. Headquarters where he was surrounded by security monitors and layers of steel walls--protected from the enemy. And himself.

He was glad to come in even though he was off duty. A long peaceful morning to catch up on a month's worth of paperwork. Waverly would be proud. Illya would be shocked if he ever got back from Istanbul.

He worked until one p.m. He encountered Mark Slate and April Dancer in the corridor on his way to lunch. He smiled at them both. "I never got around to thanking you for the rescue."

"Quite all right, mate," Mark answered easily. "You and Illya can rescue us next month."

"Napoleon?" April looked at him with concern in her dark eyes. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine," he answered. "Just a few bruises."

"We're just getting back from the commissary," April said. "I didn't think you were coming in today or we would have asked you to join us."

"Well, perhaps another time," he said. He wasn't really sure he would have wanted to join them anyway. He wasn't sure he was in the mood for company.

He thought it better to avoid getting waylaid by coworkers today. He decided to have his lunch in one of the local cafes.

A large proportion of support personnel was female, and Napoleon could always entice an attractive companion to join him for a lunch break. However, today he wasn't particularly inclined toward asking one of them to join him.

She was sitting on top of a yellow Jaguar this time. Definitely not run of the mill. "Napoleon, I've been waiting forever. How rude of you to keep me waiting."

"Did we have a date, Angelique?"

"Just our usual debriefing whenever you wipe out one of our local satrapies." She batted heavily mascara-laden eyes at him.

"Ah, I think I'd better pass this time." He started to move along the sidewalk.

"Napoleon!" she wailed and he turned toward her again. "At least...lunch?"

"Well...I am hungry," He hesitated. It was practically impossible for him to say no to a woman.

"Oh good!" she said gleefully, and started to open the door of the Jag. "I know this fabulous Parisian restaurant on Forty-fourth Street. You'll love it!"

"Wait." If there was one thing he didn't want to do today, it was get into the car with her. "I think we'd better dine someplace closer. Within walking distance. I really don't have much time this afternoon."

She came up to him. She was tall in her stiletto heels--a shade taller than he was actually. "The restaurant is next to my new apartment. You do want to see my apartment, don't you, Napoleon?" She toyed with his lapel. "You'll love what my decorator did with my bedroom."

"Pink gingham curtains?" he suggested.

She chuckled softly. "That would hardly go with the black satin sheets..." She came closer and whispered in his ear, "Or the mirrored tiles on the we can watch ourselves." She nuzzled at his ear.

Her perfume wafted on the autumn breeze.

He considered. The doctor had recommended he take a few days off. Though this was hardly the type of recuperation the doctor had in mind, an agent knew his own needs.

He laughed softly. He could never resist her. "Angelique, you do delight in living a cliche. I suppose you also have a round bed?"

"I considered it," she answered throatily, "but I opted for a brass case one of us has a taste for bondage."

The word pierced through him, an arrow of fear and desire. Involuntarily he stiffened. She was close enough to feel the change.

Her smile was wicked. "Did I mention something that might interest you, Napoleon?"

He suppressed his anxiety and forced himself to look into her eyes. "An afternoon with you will always interest me, ma petite chou. However, I must be back in the office in less than an hour. I fear that if I accompanied you to your apartment, I just wouldn't be able to tear myself away." He traced a finger along her jawline, then along her elegant throat. "Waverly threatened to fire me if I wasn't back in time for a two o'clock meeting of Section heads. You wouldn't want me to get fired, would you, sweet?"

She sighed. "No, I suppose not. Who knows what they'd replace you with. Probably that dull little Russian."

He smiled broadly. "I'm certain he'd be gratified to know you feel that way about him." And he would.

She looked resigned. "We hardly have time to stop at a hot dog stand. Perhaps another day then." Her lips pouted prettily. "If neither of us gets killed before then."

"Angelique, I give you my most solemn promise I will stay alive until I have a chance to try out your black satin sheets."

"That will have to do," she said. "A kiss until then?"

He embraced her, and kissed her, in full view of the surveillance cameras. And for once he was glad they were there.

This time her perfume almost overwhelmed him. It wafted up from her cleavage, wrapping around him. Permeating his skin.

He had to remind himself how to kiss. Ah yes, lips open, tongues explore.

He stepped back, taking a deep breath of the autumn air.

He returned to his office and had a sandwich sent up from the commissary. He had too much work to do anyway.

He was getting a lot of work done lately. Nightmares of his imprisonment colored his nights, making it impossible for him to get a complete night's sleep. And the dream of George mounting him was the main feature. After the first few occurrences, he forced himself awake before he reached a climax. That was the most humiliating part of all--that the Thrush goon sexually aroused him.

He told himself the dreams would go away in time and threw himself into his work. He worked on the File 30 and 40 documents while at Headquarters. He brought home unclassified papers in the evening. Waverly was holding off any new assignments at least until Illya returned from Turkey. Thrush was preoccupied with reorganization now that one of their major satrapies had been destroyed. Of course, later on they would turn their energies toward revenge, but for now their energies were occupied with the cleanup and reorganization.

He did wish that Illya was back in New York. It was irritating having him out of the country.

Napoleon considered flying over to Turkey to help him finish up. But he knew Waverly wouldn't be pleased with that choice: the extra expense of a flight for no more than two days' work. And Waverly never encouraged the two of them being in each others' pockets.

So he would wait for his friend to get back. He missed him more than usual.

The knock on his front door startled him from his reverie. Could Illya have finished up and taken an earlier flight?

He got up and headed for the door, anticipating a blond head through the peep hole.

Not a blond. Dark auburn. Not Illya. April.

Puzzled, he unlatched and opened the door. "April. What a pleasant surprise." He pasted a smile on his face. Unlike him to not be glad to see a pretty face, but he hadn't been in the mood for company lately.

She smiled hesitantly. "Do you have some time to talk?"

"Of course." He opened the door wider, allowing her in. He closed and latched the door after her.

He ushered her into the living room and gathered up the scattered papers he had been working on. "Can I get you something to drink? I have some coffee I just brewed."

"Yes, please. Sugar, no cream."

He fixed the coffee for her. Was something wrong at work? As Chief of Enforcement, agents occasionally came to him with their problems, but seldom at home.

He set the cup on the coffee table in front of her and seated himself across. "What can I do for you, April?"

She looked at him, looked down, then met his eyes. "Napoleon, we're friends, aren't we?"

Friends? Not like with Illya, but... "Of course we're friends." So it was a personal problem. Well, he could lend a big brotherly ear when needed.

"I've been...worried about you," she spoke with slow hesitation, "...because of what happened at the warehouse. I've haven't lately." She flushed and looked down. "I mean, you're not flirting with the secretaries the way you usually do. I've even overheard some of them talking about it in the ladies' room."

He opened his mouth and then closed it. Were his dating habits that much a source of office gossip? Well, yes, he supposed they might be.

She smiled at his surprised look. "You didn't think I was paying attention?"

He smiled back. "I'm flattered. I would have thought a pretty girl like you would be too preoccupied with your own social life to be noticing mine."

"Yes, well, I do consider you a friend. And when I found you like that at the Century Building..." Suddenly her eyes teared up. She brushed at them impatiently, not finishing the sentence.

"April!" he said in consternation. Automatically, his hand went to his pocket to retrieve an ironed handkerchief.

He came over to her and handed her the handkerchief. He had no idea she was this emotional. "It's all right," he said soothingly. He dabbed at her face gently with the handkerchief.

"Oh, Napoleon, it was awful. They were so terrible! You had bruises all over..."

"It's not that bad," he reassured her. "Most of them have faded already."

She took the handkerchief from him and finished blotting her face. "I'm sorry." She took a deep breath as if to gather courage for something. "This is hard to talk about."

What? Was she thinking of leaving U.N.C.L.E. because she had seen the risks? That would be unfortunate because she was an excellent agent.

"This is awkward..." Pause. "I can understand that what happened would...make you afraid. That you were different."


She swallowed hard. "But if you're uncertain about your ability to can try with me."

Try with her? Omigod, was she talking about...?

"April...back up a minute." He leaned closer and asked, "What are you talking about?"

"What happened at the warehouse," she answered, not looking at him. "What they did to you."

What they did to him? She had seen him covered with the marks from the beatings. Shackled on his hands and knees. What did she think?

He got a mental picture in his mind of what he must have looked like when she had come to rescue him. She thought... "April," he said gently, "They beat me. They didn't rape me."

"They didn't?" she asked in soft surprise.

He shook his head. "No. They didn't."

"Oh." Pause. "I thought that was what had happened. With the way they had you positioned. And then you It's not like you, Napoleon." She flushed a becoming red. "Oh, I'm so embarrassed."

He was embarrassed too, but also strangely touched. She had thought he was afraid of being impotent after being sexually violated and she was offering to help him get over the trauma.

It was an incredibly generous offer because April didn't sleep around. He suspected she wasn't a virgin, but that she only had sex with men she was seeing steadily. Men she thought she might be in love with anyway. As far as he knew, she didn't even date men in U.N.C.L.E.

There was no possibility she might be thinking about a love affair with him. Their relationship was strictly platonic, and he had never foreseen it progressing beyond a warm brotherly-sisterly relationship.

He touched her hand gently. "Don't be embarrassed. It was very kind of you."

She didn't answer. They sat next to each other for a moment, not saying anything. He took her hand in his and held it. He felt very warm toward her. "I didn't know I had such a good friend."

They sat together quietly for a few moments, not quite sure of how to end it. But he knew that somehow he had to end it. If he sat here next to her for much longer, it would get awkward. Then he would be expected to open up to her, to talk to her about the experience. No. He needed to brush the whole thing off lightly.

Or the other alternative was that they could go ahead and have the sex anyway. He suspected that it wouldn't take much to nudge her into it. And it wasn't his nature to sit long next to a pretty woman without making a move.

But he knew with the utmost certainty that that would be a mistake. It would probably taint the friendship that was blossoming between them.

But even without that threat, sex with a gentle young woman was not what he really desired. If he wanted that kind of sex, he could have lined up a date with Candi in Communications or Patti in Section IV. That was not what he really wanted right now and he had found himself carefully avoiding those connections since his recent incarceration with Thrush.

"How about if I drive you home?" he suggested tactfully.

"No, that's all right. I took the Mustang from the auto pool. Mark and I will be using it to drive upstate tomorrow."

They stood up and he walked her to the door. "April, I want you to know that I really appreciate your offer. I never knew I had a friend who would do that for me...if I needed it."

She leaned up and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Well, you do."

He opened the door to let her out and watched her as she walked to the steps. What a beautiful girl.

He came back into his living room and stared at the papers he'd left on the table. He knew he wasn't going to be getting any more work done this evening.

He picked up the cup and saucer she'd been using and took them to the kitchen sink. He rinsed the cup, noting the orange-red lipstick stain on the rim.

April had made reference to something he'd been avoiding thinking about. He hadn't been flirting with the women at HQ. Ordinarily, he wouldn't be able to pass through the building without stopping along the way for two or three flirtations. Not to mention the other places he frequented.

Now he forced himself to face up to the issue. Something had happened at the Century Building. But not what she had thought. He had not been raped, sodomized.

But it had been a threat. And he could not stop thinking about it.

And Angelique's teasing mention of bondage. That had had an unexpected effect on him. Though he was sure she had mentioned it on other occasions: they often teased each other, though his liaisons with the Thrush woman were not significantly different than his sexual relations with any other woman.

But she was very adept at picking up signals. And if she suspected he might have a taste for bondage...and if she caught him off guard at a vulnerable moment... He shuddered to think of what she might do to him.

Vulnerability was not something you allowed your adversaries to see.

It would make more sense to take April up on her offer--though the innocent young girl would be shocked to know what he had been thinking about.

Napoleon flushed at the idea. He couldn't be that open with April. Though she was a friend, he didn't feel close enough to open up to her.

Then who? he asked himself. You've had dozens of paramours, but there is no one you're really close with.

A wave of loneliness hit him. Napoleon was at heart a gregarious man with a need for closeness. If he had chosen another walk of life, he would have allowed himself to fall in love and get married years ago.

He wasn't proud of his fabled promiscuity, but it allowed him to share a type of closeness with women. Perhaps if he'd had a wife he would have talked to her about the nightmares.

What recourse did he have other than to deal with it himself? A psychiatrist? He grimaced in distaste. He didn't like shrinks. Didn't particularly trust them, even if they were employed by U.N.C.L.E. He'd spoken with psychiatrists before and found they were eager to manufacture neuroses out of the most casual revelations. For this, they would probably lock him up and throw away the key. No, he wouldn't be discussing this particular quirk when he had his annual psychiatric evaluation.

Conscious of April's observations, Napoleon resumed his flirtations with the women at Headquarters. It was an effort to flirt without actually following through and taking a girl out on a date, but something in him resisted being in an intimate situation with a woman.

Keeping up his Casanova reputation without actually doing anything was a challenge worthy of his secret agent skills. Whenever he overheard a secretary mention that she had an engagement, he would strategically ask her out for that date. In one week he managed to get himself turned down by more women than had turned him down for the past several years. And whenever a woman offered a rain check, he managed to convey the impression that his social calendar was totally booked.

"Napoleon, I must admit that you amaze me." Illya gathered up the folders he had exhibited during the post-mission debriefing in Waverly's office. He spun the table to bring a pile of photos within his hand's reach.

"I do?" Napoleon looked at his friend in surprise. Illya had almost completely monopolized the discussion with details of the dismantlement of the Turkish satrapy. All Napoleon had done was tie up loose ends from non-current cases.

"Despite the fact that you seem to be dating at least half of the female support staff, you have somehow managed to get caught up on the last four months' worth of paperwork--including the File 10 reports."

Napoleon looked down, hoping to minimize the flush that was creeping up his neck. "Yeah, well, I didn't have anything current..."

"Except the Petersen Affair," Illya pointed out.

"I let April and Mark do the close-out on that one," he said. He stood up and started moving toward the door.

"Hmm," Illya murmured, indicating he was ready to move on to a new subject. "At any rate, your social life appears to be very active. I wonder if you might have time to squeeze in an old friend one evening this week."

Something in his friend's too casual tone caused Napoleon to halt. He turned away from the door and found himself staring into guileless blue eyes. In the last two weeks he had developed the habit of avoiding spending too much time alone with people. Illya had been home for a few days. Though they usually spent at least some of their off-duty time together, he had just automatically avoided Illya along with the rest of the human race.

He took a breath and felt the tension ease out of his back and shoulders. This was Illya, his friend. Someone he could trust. He smiled slowly. "I think I just might have an opening tonight."

Illya smiled back. "Your place or mine?"


"Fine, I'll pick up the food."

It was that easy to feel normal again. Amidst the turmoil that was haunting Napoleon's life, there was a refuge of peace. One person he could spend time with. One person he could trust not to use his weaknesses against him.

"I'll pick up the beer."

Illya brought Chinese food as Napoleon expected. He set out the plates as Illya opened the cartons. There was a lot of food.

"How much do I owe you?" Napoleon asked.

"Forget it," Illya answered. He started to select from the smorgasbord he'd set up on the table.

Napoleon used the bottle opener to open the beers. He set one bottle in front of Illya.

"Thanks," Illya said. He waited till Napoleon was seated across from him before he picked up the chopsticks.

As usual, Illya gave his foremost consideration to his food. It had been almost seven hours since lunch. They ate without talking for several minutes.

Illya finished his first helping and took a swallow of beer. He sighed and contemplated the little white cartons, trying to decide what to take for his second serving.

Napoleon smiled inwardly. Decisions, decisions. "Save a little room for dessert. I picked up a carton of Rocky Road."

Illya nodded in approval, then proceeded to reload his plate. Despite his voracious appetite, Illya never seemed to gain an ounce. Probably something that could be explained by Einstein's theory of mass converting to energy, Napoleon mused.

They finished cleaning and putting away the dishes a little after nine. It was a weeknight and Napoleon expected that Illya would probably leave after he had helped Napoleon put away the dishes. He was a bit surprised when Illya took another beer from the refrigerator and walked into the living room. Napoleon took out a bottle for himself and followed his friend into the other room.

He sat on the chair obliquely across from Illya who was on the couch.

"Has Waverly told you where he intends to send us next?" Illya opened conversationally.

"No. You know how close-mouthed the Old Man can be--he never tells me anything I don't need to know. He thinks it's good practice for us to pick up our information from the office grapevine." He sipped his beer.

"So what is the office grapevine saying?"

"Ginger says Section V is making noises about the political situation in Cuba."

"Section V is always making noises about Cuba," Illya said dismissively. "Anything else?"

Napoleon grinned. "Nothing that you haven't read in the Herald Tribune. What about Northeast's grapevine?"

"Oh, you know the Turks won't gossip around me. They think I'm spying for the KGB."

"When Sudanay asked for a loan he probably expected Waverly to send an American."

"That will teach him to raid Northwest's Enforcement section," Illya said darkly. "Let him make do with his own people."

"Why Illya, how provincial you are," Napoleon murmured and took a swig of beer.

This dragged a reluctant grin to his partner's lips, which he quickly shielded with his own bottle. Napoleon knew that working in another sector was not a problem for Illya; it was being sent off on separate missions that bothered the Russian agent. Napoleon also disliked working without his partner.

Particularly this time. Because he had been captured and beaten? Well, that had happened before, both with and without his partner.

But there was something about this last time. He had felt a deep and permeating aloneness that hadn't been completely alleviated with his rescue--and had lingered for the past two weeks. I'm going to have to talk to somebody about this, he realized. One of the staff psychiatrists, I guess, he thought with reluctance.

"Don't you think?" Illya asked.

"What?" Napoleon said. He'd been lost in his reverie for a moment and hadn't heard Illya's last comment.

"I just said that that was probably Waverly's ulterior motive in sending discourage Sudanay's reliance on other sectors."

"Oh. Yeah. I'm sure of it." Another swallow of beer.

"Is something wrong?"

Napoleon looked up from the coffee table to meet his partner's blue eyes. He didn't answer for a moment.

"Napoleon?" Concern colored the light voice.

He spoke without thinking. It was as if someone else--someone not trained to circumspection--had taken charge of his voice. "Have you ever been sexually violated?"

Illya's eyes opened wider, but he quickly covered his surprise. "No, I've never been." His voice was quiet, soft, carefully calm. He moved a shade closer on the couch. His body language shifted subtly--leaning closer, taking down any barriers that could have stood between them.

Since he had started, and Illya had not retreated, Napoleon felt he might as well continue. He had opened the conversation by his question--there was no way Illya was going to let him shrug it off as "just curiosity." Revealing this could be cathartic.

So he continued. "Have you ever been...sodomized?" The question was almost redundant, but not quite. Napoleon doubted Illya would understand the distinction, but it helped clarify the issue in his own mind.

"Is that what happened to you..." his voice was gentle, "...when you were captured at the Century Building?"

Of course he would have read the file. Napoleon wondered how in depth April had been in her report.

"I..." Napoleon found his voice was uncomfortably rough. He had to swallow again before he could talk. "No. I was beaten...and restrained..." He didn't want to talk about the drugs. If he wanted, Illya could read about that in the medical reports. "But I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't been rescued, it would have happened." He took another swallow of beer. Christ, his throat was dry.

"Have you talked to anyone about it?" His voice was so light. Kind.

"No. No one but you." He didn't look up at Illya. Shame was twisting through him, but he had no choice but to tell someone or it would eat up his guts. The incident had made him so...alone. So set apart from others. And he couldn't live like that.

Surprisingly, Illya said something that took away the aloneness. "It could happen to either of us--to any Enforcement agent. It probably has to others from Section II."

He jerked up his head. "The women, you mean?"

"Or the men," he said mildly. "I doubt they would let it become public knowledge."

This was a new thought. He had been so wrapped up in his own turmoil he had never stopped to think about the many others in the ranks. "They don't cover that in Survival School," he said ruefully.

"They do for women," Illya remarked.

Napoleon was reminded that Illya had spent additional time on the Island teaching and would know more about the courses. "Maybe they should expand the class for everyone," he suggested.

"Perhaps," Illya agreed. "Though it is doubtful that all of the preparation in the world could adequately prepare an individual."

"True," he said quietly.

"One might hope that the individual would be comfortable enough to turn to a friend him deal with the situation."

He looked up at his friend. "Would you be able to...turn to a friend?"

Illya met his eyes. "Yes. I would."

Napoleon sighed. "If I told someone...anyone would think I was sick...a pervert."

"Yet you said nothing actually happened."

"But I thought about it." He looked down. "Can't stop thinking about it...dreaming about it." He looked up at Illya again. "In my dreams, it actually happens...and...I think I want it to." There, it was actually out. The damning truth. What would Illya make of that? Napoleon watched carefully for a reaction.

Well, he was definitely surprised. Startled even. Napoleon noted the widening of the pale blue eyes. An involuntary intake of breath. But as quickly as it had happened, the surprise faded. Or Illya was quick to cover it. Napoleon let him have a moment to digest the unsavory truth, and then he challenged, "You think I'm sick, don't you?"

Illya spoke slowly. "I know you're not sick...or at least no more so than I. Therefore, I must conclude that your reaction is normal."

"Normal!" he said incredulously.

"I mean," Illya spoke slowly, methodically, "that if a normal human being were to be captured and brutalized as you is likely that many would have the same reactions."

"You think?"

Illya shrugged. "In all probability. Psychology is not my field. As a scientist, I would want a larger sampling." He smiled ruefully. "However, one might use deductive reasoning to formulate a hypothesis."

Napoleon grinned back. My dear scientific friend. Always there for me.

For the first time since he was rescued he felt warmer and more relaxed. Illya didn't condemn him for having these feelings. And just sharing the secret made him feel lighter, less burdened.

Illya took a breath, getting back on track. "You said you felt as if you wanted it to happen. You be...sexually violated?" How delicately they were tiptoeing around it.

"I'm not sure. But a few days after I was rescued...I had a dream. I dreamed the...Thrush was...doing it to me. And I..." He looked down. "I think I was aroused by it." He couldn't bring himself to say that he had climaxed. "And last week, when Angelique came by...she said something about bondage--and it excited me. It scared me how much it excited me."

"I can imagine," Illya said with an almost visible shudder. "If you ever let her get her silk ties on you..."

"I know!" Napoleon almost laughed. "You can see my dilemma."

"I see it. You'd better stay away from that female viper," Illya lectured. "I've told you—"

"Okay, okay! No more Angelique." At Illya's skeptical look, he said, "Really!"

He heard Illya murmur under his breath, "I'll believe that when I see it," and vowed silently to do his utmost best to avoid the pretty Thrush operative in the future.

Illya glanced at his watch. "Simpson wants to meet with me before eight. I don't suppose you'll want to ride in with me?" He looked at Napoleon.

"Before eight?" Napoleon stifled a shudder.

"You know what an early bird he is," Illya said.

He liked to ride in with Illya, but he hated to forego the extra hour of sleep. Illya saw his hesitation. "All right, I'll pick you up at 7:15," he said decisively.

"All right." It was just as well to let Illya make the decision.

He walked Illya to the foyer, then took out his friend's coat. He helped Illya into the tan trenchcoat. He waited as Illya fastened the buttons and belt. November had made its presence known in the past few days and Napoleon reminded himself to dress for it tomorrow. He unlatched the door.

Illya turned to face him before he exited. He put a hand on Napoleon's forearm. "Look, if you need to talk about it anymore, I'm here for you." His tone was matter-of-fact, but the gesture radiated the kindness of friendship.


Illya lifted his hand to wave a finger under Napoleon's nose. "And stay away from Angelique." His voice was stern, but a smile tugged at his lips.

Napoleon marveled that his friend had taken away the fear, the aloneness. "Scout's honor," he promised and watched his friend leave.

He was back in the warehouse again. Kneeling, shackled on the cold floor. His skin was goose-fleshed from the cold air. Someone flicked the lights on.

He heard the scuff of footsteps approaching.

"There you are," Soft. A mild tenor. "I've been looking for you." He recognized the voice.

A hand touched his back and his body leached the warmth from the hand. "I'm here for you, Napoleon."

"Illya." His voice was stiff from disuse.

The warm hand stroked along his flank, calming him, but he was still cold. "Are you cold, Napoleon?"

"Yess..." his teeth chattered as he answered.

"I can help you get warm," he said. "Do you want that?"

"Yesss," his voice hissed out. "Please."

There was a movement he couldn't see and then he felt a warm weight along his back, and the warmth of arms folding around him. "Is that better?" Illya's voice said softly into his ear.

"Yes...better..." he sighed. It was much better. He didn't question this particular method of sharing warmth. They stayed in that position for minutes. The cold hardness of the floor didn't even bother Napoleon because of the warmth along his back.

The metal on his legs and arms no longer bothered him either. The bonds only added to a feeling of He was in no hurry to break free--Illya would release him when the time was right.

They held that position for a little longer, the feeling of warmth seeping through Napoleon's body, spreading to his most private parts. He flushed, thinking how embarrassing it would be if Illya knew the effect their closeness was having on him.

It was not a secret Napoleon could keep.

Illya's hands stroked lazily across his chest. "Is this...better?" One of his hands moved down to idly rub his abdomen.

Napoleon's voice froze in his throat. Better? It was too much better!

"Napoleon?" Illya's voice had lowered to a resonant intimacy. "Is there something that you need?" His hand traveled lower, taking hold of Napoleon's cock. Illya knew. And Napoleon realized he'd known all along.

Illya moved his face so that his mouth was just behind Napoleon's ear. "Tell me what you need, Napoleon." The quiet power in his voice worked a strange magic on Napoleon. No longer under his control, his organ grew within Illya's hand, bidden by the will of a new master.

Napoleon couldn't talk. A combination of fear and excitement locked his voice. The quiet power that was radiating from the man behind him held him in thrall. He waited to find out what he needed. He couldn't answer even if he had known.

For a quiet moment, they held that position, Illya holding him, containing him.

Then Illya moved against him, molding their bodies even closer than before. A cloth-covered hardness pressed against his rear. And once again the quiet voice commanded, "Tell me what you need."

He opened his eyes to quiet darkness. The dream had lasted long enough. His consciousness had intruded, calling a halt.

He frowned into the darkness. He didn't need to touch his cock to know it would still be hard. He rubbed at his face in frustration. Illya had offered support in the evening's conversation; Napoleon's subconscious had taken that gesture of friendship and woven it into his perverted fantasy.

He couldn't go back to sleep with a hard-on...that would just leave the door open to more of these weird dreams. And he certainly couldn't masturbate without thinking of the dream.

He glanced at the illuminated face of his alarm clock. Four o'clock. Abruptly he pushed himself up to a sitting position and turned on the lamp. He would get up and get into Headquarters early. It would give him a chance to catch up on paperwork. No, he was already caught up on paperwork. Well, he could use the firing range. Nobody would be using it this early.

He had planned to ride in with Illya, but right now he didn't think he could look at his partner without turning bright red. He would call Illya from HQ and let him know he had decided to come early.

It wasn't until three days later that his partner caught up with him again. Illya brought his lunch tray over and set it down across from Napoleon. "I didn't think you liked the cuisine here?"

Napoleon shrugged. "I've been acquiring a taste for Wonder bread and Jell-O."

Illya nodded sagely. "So few chefs get it right." He opened his packet of crackers and dumped them into the bowl of soup. "Did Waverly say anything to you about our next assignment this morning?"

Napoleon shook his head. "We just went over the expense reports for last month. I don't think he has anything in mind right now. You might as well take advantage of the free time to work in the lab." He lifted his sandwich and took a bite.

"Oh, I am. It just seems like things have been a bit slow since I got back."

Things were slow. It was partly because of the increase in manpower (and woman power). Section II had three more teams this year.

But it wasn't just for lack of assignments from Waverly. Normally, if Waverly didn't give Napoleon an assignment he would stir something up himself. Or stumble into something.

Since the Petersen Affair he wasn't inclined to stir anything up. And he was not very likely to stumble into an adventure when he didn't even venture out of the building for lunch.

It was quiet for a few minutes while Napoleon ate his sandwich, Illya his soup.

They were taking a late lunch. When they had begun, there had only been a few people in the commissary, and by now, everyone else had drifted back to their offices. Only the cafeteria staff remained, preparing for the dinner shift.

Napoleon had gotten into the habit of taking a later lunch to avoid company. He looked at his friend's blond head bent over his soup. Obviously Illya had taken the later lunch to keep him company. Come to think of it, that was a pretty light lunch for Illya. "This is your second lunch today, isn't it?"

Illya met his eyes. "I was hungry."

"Hmm." It never took much for Illya to justify an extra meal.

Illya laid the spoon down on the tray. "How have you been sleeping lately?" His tone was almost casual. Well, it was only reasonable that Illya would have some concern after their conversation the other night. When Napoleon didn't answer right away, he asked, "Are you still dreaming?"

"How'd you guess?" He refolded his napkin carefully.

"Well, I might have used my highly-developed powers of observation to detect the shadows under your eyes. But I think three days of five a.m. arrivals on the log for a confirmed night person is sufficient evidence of interrupted sleep."

"Interrupted," he agreed ruefully.

"The same dream?"

Remembering what had awoken him for the past few nights, he felt a flush heat his face. "A variation."

"A variation?" Illya echoed.

Illya knew too much to let him crawl back into his solitude. And Napoleon didn't particularly want to anyway. So he told him. "The opening scenario was the same..." Here he couldn't look at Illya. "Except instead of the Thrush guy coming up behind me, it was you."

"Me?" Surprise raised Illya's voice an octave.

"Except," he clarified for accuracy's sake, "now the dreams don't have the violence. Just the sex." Napoleon noted that Illya's face was turning red now. He wondered whose complexion was redder.

Illya swallowed and then asked in a low voice, "Is that what you want?"

The question startled Napoleon. The dreams had been an aberration of his psyche, one he had hoped to exorcize. This question opened the option of a new path. He thought about it for a moment. Was that what he wanted? Consciously, he knew he didn't honestly want to be in the hands of Thrush. And he didn't actually enjoy being beaten. He had experienced that enough to know that it wasn't something to set off this kind of obsession.

What had been different about this particular captivity was the suggestion of sexual domination while being bound.

He saw that his friend was waiting seriously for an answer. "It probably is." He wondered if Illya was regretting that he had asked about the dream.

"Oh." Illya picked up the plastic spoon and bent it backwards. "If it's what you want, then I'll do it."

Their voices had become lower and lower till Napoleon's was almost a whisper. "Really?"

"Yes." His eyes met Napoleon's. It was always startling how blue they actually were. He stared at them for a long moment, mentally sorting through the turmoil of thoughts and desires.

And needs.

Did he need this?

Napoleon had thought the original dream might fade away after that first night, but it had reoccurred practically every night, leaving him awash with arousal and fear. He recognized that there was something in his psyche which craved sexual domination and bondage--enough to come back to it night after night, despite the terror that came with it.

Talking to Illya had caused the dream to metamorphosis into a new chimera with at least as much sexual force, albeit a lot less fear. If he could experience that without the danger... A wash of longing came over him.

He saw his friend was watching him carefully, waiting for an answer.

This perversion was not something Illya would have ever looked for himself, but he had volunteered to participate because he thought it would help Napoleon. He shouldn't take advantage of his friend that way.

But he should be able to deal with this himself. Once they got involved in a new assignment the dreams would probably fade away, if they didn't sooner.

He could take Angelique up on her tour of the new boudoir. He almost blanched at the thought. Illya would kill him if she didn't.

Or as a last resort he could always consult the staff shrink and let him analyze them away.

He took a deep breath and firmed up his voice. He was an U.N.C.L.E. agent. He was CEA. He was Napoleon Solo. He was okay. "I'll be fine. But thanks for being here for me. It helps a lot."

They finished up lunch with very little conversation--each apparently involved in their own thoughts. Napoleon felt reassured that he had been able to talk to Illya. Being partners meant holding each other up when the going got rough.

As they returned their trays and walked back to their offices, Napoleon noticed that Illya was standing just a shade closer to him than usual. Protective.

When they came to Napoleon's office, Illya patted him on the shoulder before he left to go back to the lab. It wasn't that unusual for Illya to do that, but Napoleon didn't recall him touching him that often. He stared thoughtfully as his friend traveled down the hall.

It was easy to lose himself in his work once again. He was up to date on his paperwork--probably for the first time in several months. Having his in-basket relatively empty, he took the opportunity to stick his nose in the affairs of other Sections. Intelligence was the most lucrative for discovering new angles.

He made notations as he went through the September and October reports. He saw four possible leads to affairs that could give them an edge against Thrush, and one bit of information that could be used against the Mafia. He knew Waverly would be pleased when he presented the ideas to him at the Section head meeting on Monday.

He glanced at his watch and saw it was well past quitting time. Almost six p.m. If they had driven in together this morning, he would just wait till Illya was ready to go, but they had been driving in separately.

As he handed his badge to the receptionist, the pretty Eurasian woman handed him an envelope. "Mr. Kuryakin left this for you, Napoleon."

"Thanks, Patti." Curiously, he tore open the envelope as he walked through the tailor shop. Just a brief scrawl in his partner's familiar handwriting. "Come over to my place tonight. Seven o'clock."

He arrived at Illya's flat just before seven. He didn't know what Illya had in mind for the evening. Would he send out for a pizza or Chinese food? Or perhaps they'd go to a restaurant. He knew his friend liked to go to jazz clubs, but he hoped Illya wouldn't tonight. Napoleon really wasn't in the mood. He could foresee what would happen if they did. Women who frequented that type of club were bolder, and more likely to come on to men. Which would be fine with Napoleon under normal circumstances, but the last thing he needed lately was an aggressive woman.

Illya opened the door. He had taken off his tie and sports coat, but otherwise he was dressed in the same white shirt and cords he had been wearing this morning.

"Did you eat yet?" he asked as Napoleon came in.

"Uh, no. I came directly from work."

"Good. I've fixed you dinner."

"A souffle? He gave it Illya's pronunciation and smiled. He remembered how determined Illya had been to make a souffle during the Suburbia Affair.

Illya smiled back. "I'm afraid nothing so exotic. Just some soup and toasted sandwiches."

Napoleon shrugged out of his coat and Illya took it from him and hung it in the coat closet.

He found the dining room table had been neatly set with one place setting. He looked at it and turned to Illya questioningly.

"I ate earlier."

"Oh." It was odd that Illya had invited him over, but wasn't going to be joining him. Well, maybe he wanted to take in a show and didn't want to take the time to stop so that Napoleon could get something to eat.

He shrugged. A light dinner of soup and sandwiches sounded good. He hadn't had a large appetite lately anyway. Some nights he skipped dinner entirely. He sat in the chair with the place setting.

Illya headed toward the kitchen. "Here, I just need to reheat the sandwiches..."

Napoleon smiled as he heard Illya fumbling around in there.

"...and you can start with the soup."

After a moment, Illya came in with a bowl that was steaming. He set it in front of Napoleon. It was a vegetable soup. It did not taste like it had come from a can. "This is good," he said when Illya returned with a plate of sandwiches. "Did you make it yourself?"

"No," he said as he set the sandwiches in front of Napoleon. "I picked it up from the deli."

"Umm." He ate quietly as Illya puttered around putting things away. This felt remarkably domestic. Illya came back and set a glass of milk in front of him. "Milk?" he questioned. It had never been his beverage of choice.

"It will help you sleep better."

"I thought we were going out."

Illya looked at him as if to examine his features. "I don't think we should go out. You look as if you could use a quiet evening."

"Oh." Almost self-conscious, he turned back to his sandwich. A quiet evening suited Napoleon's current mood more than a night on the town. Perhaps there would be a decent movie playing on T.V. If not, they could talk awhile and then Napoleon could go home early.

He finished the sandwich and drank the milk, enjoying it more than he expected. Perhaps because Illya had told him he should.

He dabbed his lips with the napkin, then stood up and started to pick up his plate.

"No, I'll take care of that." Illya came over and took the dishes into the kitchen. Napoleon sat down. It was strange but nice being waited on.

He waited till Illya came back to the room. "Now what?" Napoleon asked.

Illya brushed his hands on his pants. "Now to bed."

"Bed?" Napoleon repeated incredulously. It wasn't even eight o'clock.

"You haven't been sleeping very well lately. Perhaps you will be able to sleep better here."

This was the last suggestion Napoleon would have expected. Illya had invited him over to sleep? But come to think of it, sleep sounded pretty good right now.

"Your toothbrush and things are in the bathroom. I got them from your locker at work."

Napoleon raised an eyebrow. Of course combination locks were no deterrent to Section II agents, but generally they weren't so presumptuous as to invade each other's lockers without invitation. But Illya was being more presumptuous than usual today.

Napoleon got up and headed for the other room. He washed up and brushed his teeth. What an unexpected evening this was turning out to be. Quiet and peaceful. Not at all what he would have expected for a Friday night.

But it was comfortable. Maybe he would sleep better with his friend nearby.

Not being one for having overnight guests, Illya only had a single bed. Napoleon looked askance at him. "There's hardly room for both of us."

Illya shrugged. "I'll sleep on the couch tonight."


"Don't argue."

He sighed. This was very strange. Unprecedented. But he supposed it was harmless to let Illya boss him around for a change. Illya was just concerned that he wasn't sleeping well and was determined that he would get a decent night's sleep. Well, maybe he would.

Maybe the milk would help. Or the different bed. Or knowing that a good friend was close by, ready to fight off the night demons.

Napoleon climbed into the bed and pulled the light blanket up to his chest. To his surprise, Illya sat down next to him on the bed. "Are you going to tell me a story?" he teased.

Illya smiled in amusement. "If you really want me to, I will. However, I thought a massage might help you to sleep better."

Speechless, Napoleon stared at his partner. The dinner, the bed... Illya was taking kindness to an almost embarrassing level.

"Do you think it might?"

Napoleon swallowed, feeling slightly surreal. "I guess..." How could a confirmed hedonist turn down a massage anyway? " couldn't hurt."

Illya smiled. "Turn over then."

Obediently, Napoleon turned over to lie on his stomach. Illya pushed his pajama top up and slid his hands underneath.

Illya was not a trained masseur, but his hands were strong and warm. Whether because of instinct or shared experiences, he seemed to understand the pent-up tensions the muscles of a back could harbor. He kneaded deeply and as Napoleon felt the knots of tension loosen, his mind began to drift.

Pictures flickered through his mind: Angelique's blond hair against black satin sheets--reflected in mirrors on the ceiling--

Hovering over an image of himself--bound to the four brass bedposts--

"You're so tense..." came Illya's soft voice, "Try to relax."

He shoved the images out of his mind and searched for an image to replace them. Something not sexual, not violent. Shirts. Clean white shirts, starched and ironed by Del Floria. Clouds of steam...

He had been so tired lately. The massage was releasing the physical tension in his body--the presence of his friend helped to ease the apprehension in his mind.

Illya pulled the hem of the pajama top down to his waist. He brushed the hair back from Napoleon's forehead. "Go to sleep now," he said.

Napoleon allowed himself to drift toward that goal as his partner pulled the light cover over him and shut out the lights. He opened his eye a crack and saw that his friend had pulled the armchair closer to the bed.

Illya settled himself into the chair and propped his feet against the bed. Apparently he was prepared to watch over him for the night. This mother-hen tendency was an aspect of Illya that he had seldom witnessed before, but he was feeling just fragile enough that he could accept it.

He woke up, shaky and breathing quickly. And hard. Damn. He had hoped the dreams would not be able to find him in this new locale, but they had managed to hunt him down anyway.

He sat up and wiped a sweaty palm over his face.

"The same dream?" inquired the light voice from the chair.

"You've been up all night?" he asked in surprise.

"I'm a light sleeper," Illya answered. "Was it the same dream?"

"Yes." He propped himself against the headboard and waited for his heartbeat to slow down. He forced himself to take slower breaths.

He looked at his friend's dark figure in the thin light. This was the man he had dreamed was possessing him. But once again he had awakened before anything happened.

His subconscious wanted something--he wasn't 100% sure of what, but he had a pretty good idea. "You said you would help me."

Shadowed eyes observed him in the dim light. "Do you really want me to?"

"I..." He swallowed hard. "I must. I'm afraid but my mind keeps coming back to it. Maybe I just need it. To know I can survive it."

"All right." He could hear the strain in his friend's voice. "If you think it might help."

"Hmm." Napoleon thought that if he hadn't been so unnerved by the dreams, he might be finding the situation slightly comical. He was asking his gentle, undersexed friend to tie him down and rape him. But it wouldn't really be rape, he corrected himself. Because I asked him for it.

"You don't really want me to beat you?" Illya asked in a low voice.

"No," he said in the darkness. "That didn't happen in the dream with you."

"Oh." He could hear the sigh of relief in Illya's voice. "But you do want to be...restrained?"

"Yes, I do." He wanted it with an intensity that made his teeth chatter.

Illya reached over to turn on the small lamp on the night table. He stood up and stretched to get the kinks out. Napoleon saw the clock on the nightstand. 11:05. So he'd only been sleeping for a few hours. No surprise. The dreams usually haunted him throughout the night.

Illya went to his bureau and opened the second drawer. "I brought these home from work...just in case..." He brought a box over and Napoleon saw the jumble of handcuffs inside. So Illya had been giving their conversation of a few days ago some thought. And had even gone so far as to prepare in case Napoleon asked.

"...nothing so elaborate as what they used on you at the Century Building," Illya said almost apologetically. "However..." He untangled a pair and looked at them ruefully. "...these will be uncomfortable. Perhaps some cloth..."

"Illya!" he said impatiently. "They'll do fine."

"All right." Illya took a deep breath. "Why don't you get into...the position you want."

Napoleon turned over so he was on his hands and knees. Illya started to fasten one of the cuffs to Napoleon's wrist, and then stopped. "Did you want your clothes on or off?"

"Uh, off."

Illya waited for Napoleon to undress. Napoleon pulled the pajama pants down and saw his erection had subsided, though not completely. No wonder. They were going about this in such an innocuous way. There was none of the intensity of the dreams.

Napoleon realized that Illya was every bit as nervous about the situation as he was. He stifled an urge to laugh. " don't do the domination thing too often, do you?"

Illya heard the teasing tone and grinned. "Not lately." Napoleon saw he was slightly more relaxed.

Napoleon lay on his stomach and allowed Illya to fasten the cuffs to his wrists and the bedposts. He tested the play in the chains. He would have some freedom of position, but he certainly wouldn't be able to get away.

A tingle of excitement filtered through him. It was happening. He was getting there.

He felt Illya take his foot in hand and then the clamp of metal around his ankle. The pull on his ankle and then the clicking sound that told him the last cuff was now fastened to the foot of the bed. He tugged his leg experimentally.

Leashed. Restrained.

The bondage was not exact, but the scenario was recreating the feeling from the dream.

Stuck. Tight. At the mercy of another.

He felt like crying and laughing at the same time.

Unaware of the epiphany he was perpetuating, Illya fastened the fourth limb to the bed. "There," said Illya, in the familiar tone he used when he'd accomplished a task. He stood back and waited for further direction.

Napoleon savored the feeling. He had been restrained many times in his history as an U.N.C.L.E. agent, but bondage had never been like this before. After his last experience at the Century Building, he had been building up the wanting in his mind. Bondage had become an unreachable desire.

He grasped the chains attached to the handcuffs and pulled, enjoying the pull against his biceps. He bent his legs and felt the cold metal against his calves. He stretched his legs out again, satisfied. The bed was a solid oak. He wasn't going anywhere.

Illya took a deep breath and then came over and sat beside him on the bed, hip against Napoleon's ribs. Napoleon felt the warmth of the other body radiate against him.

He savored the warmth, but he wanted more. He wished Illya could be the Illya in his dream who automatically knew what he wanted, who knew Napoleon's secret desires before Napoleon did himself. But this Illya, the real Illya, couldn't possibly know, or if he did, would still be reluctant to act on those instincts.

Napoleon would have to be a little clearer about those needs. "I'd like you lie on top of me."

"Do you want my clothes on or off?"

Napoleon thought a moment. "On," he lied.

A metallic groan from the mattress as Illya shifted, then slowly let himself down on top of Napoleon: shoulder blade, spine, buttocks, along the outside of his legs, all the way to his ankles. Starched clothed arms along his naked ones, ending with powerful fingers over the back of his hands interlaced with his fingers and gripped comfortably tight.

The weight. The warmth.

He stayed as he was, savoring the feelings. Restraint. Safety. Arousal.

But soon, the position wasn't...quite enough.

"Now I'd like you to..." Napoleon swallowed nervously. "I want you to take me."

"Are you sure?"

He was afraid of what he was asking for, but he knew he could never be content until he had experienced it. "Do it to me. Please."

"All right." The hesitation seemed to melt away from Illya at that.

He climbed off of Napoleon and opened the nightstand drawer and took something out. A small jar. Napoleon blinked. "When you told me...what you wanted... I got a pamphlet in a store in the Village." His tone was almost apologetic. "The book said we need to use a lubricant...or it would hurt you."

Napoleon hadn't even thought of a lubricant, but he supposed that made sense.

Illya unscrewed the jar and set it back on the nightstand. He took a dollop onto his fingers and then his hands moved back out of Napoleon's field of vision.

Napoleon felt the fingers spreading his ass cheeks, and the coldness of the jell in-between. Illya put one hand on the small of his back, as if to hold him in place, and used the other to prepare him. The fingers pushed and probed, spreading the lubricant in deeper, relaxing the sphincter.

Napoleon's eyes widened at the invasion. It did not feel like anything he could have expected. Strange. Awkward. Uncomfortable, yet not really painful.

The position was just humiliating enough to be erotic. He felt the stirring in his balls, and bent his head and groaned.

Illya immediately stopped. "Am I hurting you?"

" To tell the's starting to feel good." And it was. Involuntarily, his muscles clamped down on the finger inside of him, trying to draw it in deeper.

He heard Illya draw in a breath.

Illya carefully extracted his finger. Napoleon waited. And then Illya took Napoleon's chin in his cupped hand and turned his face toward him. Illya bent his head and kissed Napoleon on the mouth.

It was a long kiss. A very thorough kiss, caressing Napoleon's lips with his own lips. An invasive kiss, exploring the inside of Napoleon's mouth with his tongue. A masterful kiss. The kind of kiss that a man who needed to be bound would want.

They were both breathing very hard when Illya ended it.

Napoleon looked at his friend in shock.

Illya looked back with a shade of apology, but there was the beginning of a fire smoldering within the blue depths. "I hope you don't mind." His voice was thick.

Napoleon stared at him in wonder. Was this scenario becoming more than a distasteful chore for his friend? "Not at all." His voice came out equally thick. "I didn't expect you would want...that."

"I didn't expect... " Illya bent his head. There was a flush along his jaw." ...that giving pleasure would be so incredibly arousing."



He grinned. "That's great. No reason why you shouldn't enjoy this too."

The flush had spread more. "I suppose..." His voice trailed off and he turned his eyes to the jar on the nightstand. Illya stood up and started to unbutton his shirt. He moved beyond Napoleon's range of vision and Napoleon heard the quiet sounds of clothing falling to the floor. He closed his eyes and sighed. It would be soon.

Footsteps and then the feel of Illya settling on him. Cool flesh against the backs of his thighs. "Uh!" His cry was involuntary.

He felt Illya reaching across his back, and saw his hand taking the jar off the night table again. "You need to rise up now," came the quiet voice, "on your knees. Penetration will be easier that way."

And closer to the dream, Napoleon thought.

Illya moved back, allowing Napoleon to climb to his knees. The jell-laden finger inserted again, probing deeper. The finger was removed. Then the sounds of Illya lubricating his own flesh. Napoleon clenched and unclenched, waiting.

He felt the blunt end against his anus and then a push. He gasped at the painful hardness. Illya was completely in, filling him. Involuntarily he clenched, attempting to push the foreign object out, but the hardness was too strong, too large. It settled within him completely, as if Napoleon's body was its rightful place.

"Are you all right?" came Illya's concerned voice. His voice was uncertain, in contrast to the arrogant certainty of his member within Napoleon's body.

Take it out! Napoleon wanted to yell, but he didn't. "Wait," he said, trying to keep the sound of pain out of his voice.

"Should I take it out?"

"No..." The initial pain was starting to subside. "Just...wait." It had been the suddenness--and the unfamiliarity to his muscles. His muscles started to relax and open to the new experience. It really wasn't so bad, though he feared that if Illya moved again it would start the pain anew.

Illya's hand caressed along his shoulder and back. "Napoleon, if this is going to hurt you—"

"It won't! I mean, I just need to get used to it."

"All right." Illya's hand continued the gentle stroking. It was starting to relax Napoleon, exorcizing the tension from all of his muscles. Illya's hands strayed, caressing Napoleon's chest. One hand skimmed over a nipple, causing a twitch of erotic sensation which made Napoleon gasp.

Illya noticed the reaction. "Hmm." His hand came back to tease at the nipple. "You like that." He played with the other nipple.

Napoleon didn't answer. The erotic touches induced a sense of well-being throughout his nervous system. The pain in his anus was long gone, replaced by building sexual stimulation. The pleasures from the two erotic zones fed upon each other, heightening the level of arousal throughout Napoleon's body. He squeezed the cock inside of him, enjoying the fullness of being possessed.

Amused satisfaction colored Illya's voice. "Yes, I suppose you would also..." His hand trailed down to grasp Napoleon's overfull cock. " this."

"Uhhh!" It was almost too perfect: the multiple stimulation and the emotional satisfaction of being under the control of someone he could trust. He was so completely held in place by the weight of Illya's body, the cuffs around his extremities--and the hand around his final extremity.

Though he wouldn't have wanted to escape the bondage he had asked for, he found himself pulling at the bonds, pushing against the body which now held him in place. His restraints were inexorable and allowed only a modicum of movement. The unyielding nature of his position both excited and reassured him.

"But I think what you really need," Illya continued in his quiet voice, "might be this." And with that he gave a powerful thrust of his hips. The sensation was shocking. Before he could analyze it, Illya pulled back and thrust again.

It was not hurtful. The lubricant had been sufficient, his muscles had been relaxed--the fit was right. The feeling was not of pain, but of power.

Napoleon no longer resisted. Resistance would have been futile at this point. He had signed over control and there would be no retraction. The fucking went on and on. Pounding into him, bringing him near tears. He clutched at the bedclothes.

He heard the sounds and realized it was his own voice, his moans. "Oh...harder...uhhh more...uhhh...I need..."

And then, finally, the quiet, because somehow, though he hadn't come, the power had met his need.

A moment later, there were three hard thrusts, and Illya stilled. Napoleon could actually feel the pulsing of the cock inside of him.

He became aware of Illya's quickened breathing next to his ear. Illya pulled out of him, and that feeling was almost as strange as when he had gone in. He pushed at the small of Napoleon's back, indicating that he should lie flat again. Napoleon stretched out. He heard the clanks of the cuffs against the chains as he moved.

Illya's hand caressed along his back and ass, and that felt nice too. As if he was feeling...possessive. Maybe he did. Napoleon felt an almost overwhelming peacefulness.

Then Illya brushed the lock of hair that had fallen over his forehead aside and kissed him there. He laid soft kisses along Napoleon's face, and then a light kiss on his mouth.

He stroked a hand gently along Napoleon's arm, and around and over the metal cuff. He fingered the metal bracelet. "Can we take the these off now?"

Napoleon raised his eyes and saw his friend toying with the metal cuffs. They had served their purpose. He had experienced the restraint, the loss of control he craved. To ask for more would be to ask for permanent imprisonment.

But he was hesitant. There was something he was reluctant to give up just yet.

The security. Almost a protection.

Illya seemed to sense his need. "Perhaps we could remove one?"

He met his friend's blue eyes and searched their depths. He found a sympathy and understanding he wouldn't have presumed to ask for. "All right. One."

Illya reached across to the nightstand and took up the keys he had left there. "Hmmm," he murmured, examining them. "They're all identical." He tried one on Napoleon's right bracelet, and then another. The second key released the lock. He took off the pair of cuffs and laid them and the keys back on the nightstand. "There, that's better." He nudged at Napoleon so that Napoleon was more on his side than his back.

It was easier to look at Illya now. Also easier for Illya to look at him. He saw the blue eyes surveying his body--taking in a variety of information as a spy will do.

Without commenting on Napoleon's still erect organ, Illya lay facing him. He traced a caress along Napoleon's throat and chest.

Napoleon's eyes flicked down and up, watching the hands caressing him, watching the face of the man caressing him.

His breathing became quick with excitement--the excitement of the unknown feeling between them. Napoleon had a very strange need to be tied down and taken sexually. Taking friendship to an unprecedented level, Illya had willingly fulfilled that need. Once that need had been fulfilled, Illya might just as well have handed him his clothes and sent him along home.

But Illya had some needs of his own. The kiss earlier. The possessive touches. Apparently his younger partner had a need to express affection and Napoleon had no problem at all allowing him to do so.

Illya leaned forward and kissed him gently on the lips. The kiss was soft, much lighter than before, but the touch of lips on his left Napoleon's lips tingling. He felt emotionally close to the other man, and a great need to be closer. He reached out with his now free arm and drew Illya closer so that their bodies were touching. He pulled Illya's head closer and this time he initiated the kiss. It lasted a little longer and Illya seemed to enjoy it.

They broke off the kiss and resumed caressing each other--Illya with his two hands, Napoleon tentatively with his one.

It was the first time Napoleon had touched a masculine chest. He stroked his hand over the lightly furred skin. He pressed his palm against the hard swell of pectorals.

Illya's hand caressed along his flank and trailed downward. He stroked lightly along the inside of Napoleon's thigh, his hand just grazing Napoleon's groin. Napoleon shivered at the sensation. It felt pleasurable and he instinctively started to raise his leg to invite more of the same--when he was halted by the tug of a metal chain.

Illya's watchful eyes took this in. His hand once again strayed, teasing along the sensitive area. "Would you like me to remove the one on your leg?" he asked.

Of course he knew he was being manipulated, but being under Illya's control had a certain charm. "Yes."

Illya withdrew and gathered up the keys on the night table again. He bent over Napoleon's ankle and tested out the keys. Napoleon watched his partner's smoothly muscled back, the blond head.

After a moment he heard the snick of the lock being released and felt the metal cuff removed from his leg. Illya moved up alongside him again and reached to drop the keys on the nightstand. "There, now where were we?" He smiled knowingly.

He continued the teasing strokes on the inside of Napoleon's thighs, gradually narrowing into the area between. Napoleon loved it, and opened his legs wider allowing the knowledgeable strokes. He sighed in enjoyment. How did Illya know exactly what would feel most pleasurable?

"You like this, don't you?" Illya's voice was low and resonant. Just as it had been in his dream.

"Hmm," he murmured. He couldn't very well have kept it a secret with his cock jutting out at a forty-five degree angle.

Illya moved closer and took Napoleon's mouth in a kiss. He continued the stroking and caressing and kissing all at once. Illya's strong arm came behind him and pulled them together.

Napoleon relaxed. He felt safe--safer than he'd felt in weeks. Safer than he'd ever felt before.

He was with the one person he could trust completely.

Illya held him, caressing his back and arms.

He wanted to hold onto Illya in return. He wrapped his free arm around Illya, and his freed leg around the slim hips. For a moment they lay like that--still except for diaphragms breathing.

He lay his forehead against Illya's shoulder. "I could sleep like this," he mused.

After a moment, Illya said, "Can I take the chains off now?" There might have been a slight note of pleading. "If you feel a need for them...I can put them back later."

It would be silly to leave them on anyway. It's not like he could stay chained to Illya's bed forever. "All right."

Illya breathed what might have been a relieved sigh. He unwrapped himself from around Napoleon, then retrieved the keys from the nightstand.

Napoleon waited passively as Illya unlocked the handcuffs and set them aside. He was starting to feel a little cold.

Illya headed toward the bathroom and called over his shoulder, "I'm just going to get a washcloth. I'd like to clean us up a bit."

Napoleon sat up with his back against the headboard and waited for Illya to return from the bathroom. He thought about his reluctance to have the cuffs removed--and his strange need for the bonds in the first place.

The nightmares had been an amalgam of what he feared--and what he wanted. He knew now that he had a need to be submissive. This was something he could do without for years. Maybe forever. But the experience with Sing the Dragon Lady had broken his controls. The mention of George's orientation combined with his own vulnerability had opened the door to that warp in his psyche.

Illya came back in a moment, washcloth in hand. He sat down on the edge of the bed, facing Napoleon. Napoleon started to reach for the washcloth, but Illya shook his head. "No, let me."

Illya indicated that he should turn to his stomach again and he did. The washcloth was warm.

He turned back to his side while Illya disposed of the wet cloth. He was feeling better now. Stronger. Somehow he knew that this time when he went to sleep he would not be haunted by dreams.

Napoleon watched quietly as his friend came back into the bedroom and picked up clothing. Illya gathered handcuffs and put them back in the box, back in the drawer. He could tell Illya didn't like the handcuffs. He had been so anxious to get them off of him.

Napoleon wondered at his own desire for the bonds. You couldn't allow the sex without the restraints. You never could have let him penetrate you without them. He was startled at that thought.

But he had enjoyed the feeling of Illya inside of him--the comfort of being surrounded by hard-muscled limbs.

Illya sat beside him on the bed. He glanced at Napoleon's still tumid cock, and then quickly back to meet Napoleon's eyes. "You would probably sleep better if you had an orgasm." He stroked the side of Napoleon's face lightly. "Would you like me to do it for you?"

"Yes," he answered. He wondered what Illya would do. He felt somewhat awkward--strangely, more awkward now that the cuffs were off--as if he had less right to expect his friend to do something for him.

He expected that Illya would use his hands to bring him off. Instead, he was surprised to see his friend crawl downward, until the blond head was over his impatient organ. Napoleon gasped. Was he going to...?

Illya took a deep breath and let it out with a sigh. He put a steadying hand on Napoleon's hip, then bent forward, taking the cock in his mouth.

Some pleasures were too pure to analyze.

This was not a regular pleasure in Napoleon's life. He seldom had a steady girlfriend, and though he copulated with a lot of women, only a few were interested in initiating this particular activity.

The physical pleasure was so pure, so all encompassing, it drove thoughts and worries from his mind. He luxuriated in the pleasure.

It was only after a moment that he could think about what had happened. And what was happening.

Illya had taken the afternoon off and gone down to the Village and hunted up literature on gay techniques and lubricants. He had snuck extra handcuffs out of Headquarters to satisfy a friend's perverse obsession.

He had fed him dinner and milk and ensconced him in his own bed trying to help a partner get a decent night's sleep.

And now he was bent over Napoleon's groin, tenderly interspersing kisses with licks and sucks.

This was not a partner thing. Illya was not doing this for friendship's sake.

He was doing it because he loved him.

Napoleon marveled that he could have been so preoccupied with his own needs that he had overlooked the obvious. He put his hand lightly on his friend's head and stroked at the blond hair. He wondered if Illya even realized it.

"Hey." He tugged gently at the blond hair. "Come on up here, will'ya?"

Illya looked up. "Don't you like...?"

"Yeah, I like it, but I want to talk with you now."

Illya crawled up and laid his head so that they were facing each other.

Napoleon looked at his friend affectionately. "I guess you'd do anything for me, wouldn't you?"

Illya shrugged. "I didn't mind doing that."

"I know. But you didn't like the chains."

"No, I didn't like the chains." he agreed.

"You did it because I needed it," Napoleon spoke softly. "Tell me what you need."

Illya lowered his eyes. He didn't answer.

Napoleon raised his hand to Illya's face and stroked along the square jaw. Didn't he even know?

Napoleon decided to give it to him anyway. "I love you."

He watched Illya's face carefully. Confusion that was almost pain crossed his face. He started to move as if to get up, but Napoleon grasped his arm firmly, holding him down. "You can't leave. It's your bed."

"I..." Words seemed to stick in his throat.

"It's what you want, isn't it?"

"I only help..."

"Oh, you were helpful, my friend. But I asked for sex, and you gave me love. So I have no choice but to give it back to you." It wasn't quite logical, but whoever said that love had to be? Napoleon smiled. "I think it's something that I need too."

"Really?" The confusion was starting to clear--revealing uncertain hope in blue eyes. "You're all right with...everything..." His last words had trailed off.

Napoleon did a brief mental check. He was all right with the needs revealed in his nightmares. He was all right with Illya meeting his needs. He was all right with Illya loving him, and loving Illya in return.

He put his hands on his friend's arms and made his grasp firm to reflect the certainty of his promise. "Everything is all right now."

Author's note: Once again I want to thank Psmythe. Much of the scene with the Dragon Lady is hers—I could not bear to hurt Napoleon as much as he needed to be hurt for the balance of the story.

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