New York City, 1956
Napoleon Solo was tired, hungry, and more than a little put out. Crashing through tropical rain forest for two days while keeping barely ahead of a band of THRUSH assassins could do that to a man. Convincing a stubborn if well-meaning scientist that his talents could be put to better use by U.N.C.L.E. than by the self-appointed dictator of a tiny banana republic had taken longer and required more clench-jawed patience than he would have preferred. The flight home from Central America had been so full of turbulence and fussy babies that sleep was out of the question. The airline food wouldn't win any prizes. Neither would the stewardesses.
And he'd scarcely set foot back in New York before being called into Headquarters for the debriefing. Apparently, the Old Man couldn't even wait for him to shower and shave, much less eat a decent meal and get a few hours sleep between clean sheets for a change.
Dammit, was there no justice?
He stalked past Sharon in the outer office, barely nodding in acknowledgment of the dazzling smile she threw him and entirely missing the open-mouthed stare that followed. At the door he paused, took a deep breath, and carefully adjusted his cuffs and his tie. Then he squared his shoulders and rearranged his face into what he hoped was some semblance of a smile. He entered Alexander Waverly's office as jauntily as he could manage, considering that his whole being ached to be at home in bed.
The Old Man was seated at the round table, shuffling papers and pulling on his pipe. "Ah, Mr. Solo," he said without looking up. "Please sit down."
Napoleon sank gratefully into a chair opposite his superior. He couldn't quite stifle the heavy sigh that escaped him, and Waverly glanced at him, eyes narrowing a fraction.
"I trust you're feeling fit, Mr. Solo?"
Napoleon made an effort to sit up straighter. "Yes, sir, just fine."
Waverly rumbled his approval. "Then let's talk about your little Latin American adventure, shall we?"
The debriefing went on...and on. Napoleon tried to keep his voice from dropping into an exhausted monotone as he went over his report on the mission. Waverly seemed satisfied with it, and at last the interview appeared to be nearing its end. Napoleon breathed a silent thank-you as the Old Man closed the file and refilled his pipe. He could almost feel the stinging hot spray of the shower on his tired shoulders, the soft, cool pillow beneath his cheek...
"Mr. Solo, please try to remain awake while I'm talking to you."
Napoleon blinked, and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I, ah, am a little tired, I'm afraid, sir."
Waverly's eyes seemed to soften minutely. "Yes. Yes, I'm sure you are. This was your third assignment on foreign soil in the last month, wasn't it?"
The very words evoked in Napoleon an almost irresistible desire to yawn. He fought it down. "Yes, sir. Tripoli, Copenhagen, and now San Lorenzo."
Waverly nodded. "I'm sure it's been quite taxing." He paused. "I have a new assignment for you which may come as quite a pleasant change of pace. It will, at least, keep you much closer to home for a while."
Napoleon groaned mentally. Close to home or not, he had no desire to hear about another assignment at the moment.
"Perhaps some caffeine would improve your concentration." Waverly reached for the intercom button. "Miss Wilson, please bring in some coffee for Mr. Solo."
After an admirably short wait, Sharon entered with a steaming cup which she set down in front of Napoleon. The pungent smell of the coffee was cheering, and he managed to smile charmingly at her as she bent over him. Sharon returned the smile and touched him lightly on the shoulder before Waverly's impatient harrumph sped her on her way out of the office.
Napoleon took a grateful sip of the hot black liquid, relishing the burn as it slid down his throat. He felt quite certain that the Old Man was right; he didn't know how much longer he could have stayed awake, much less alert, without a stimulant.
Waverly cleared his throat. "Mr. Solo, you are aware of the recent updating of U.N.C.L.E.'s policy manual, are you not?"
Napoleon set the cup down. "Yes sir, of course."
"And you have read the new manual?"
"Ah, yes sir." Well, maybe he hadn't read it cover to cover, but he'd certainly read the parts that pertained to Operations and Enforcement. As for the rest, he'd get around to it.
"Then I take it you noticed that some of your suggestions regarding the requirements for new field agents have been noted and implemented."
Napoleon smiled. "Yes sir, I noticed." It had been gratifying to see that the Section One honchos held his ideas in such high regard. As U.N.C.L.E.'s youngest-ever Chief Enforcement Agent, he'd had to work twice as hard, take twice as much responsibility on his shoulders, as any other field agent in the New York office. There had been many times since his promotion six months earlier when he had wondered if he could take the pressure and the workload. But it seemed that the Continental Chiefs did appreciate him after all.
"We found the minimum height and weight specifications you recommended quite reasonable, and as you saw, the policy has been amended to reflect that."
"Well, an agent doesn't need to be particularly impressive in size, sir, just so long as he can do the job. Especially considering our new emphasis on the martial arts."
"Quite right, quite right. And your proposal that women be allowed to enroll in Survival School with an eye toward becoming field agents also met with general approval. We are already in the process of recruiting some suitable candidates among the, ah, fairer sex."
"I've known several women, sir, who could more than hold their own with me in any field of endeavor." He smiled again, reminiscently this time. "They'll be a great asset to us, I'm sure."
Waverly nodded and took a long pull at his pipe before continuing.
"There was one other suggestion of yours, Mr. Solo, that we felt merited inclusion in the new manual. The one that pertained to agents' personal preferences in regard to, ah, intimate matters."
Napoleon cleared his throat. "Yes, sir, I did notice that. I realize it's somewhat controversial—"
"Indeed." Waverly fixed him with a penetrating gaze. "That particular point was the focus of lively discussion at the summit meeting, I assure you. But I understood your reasoning and was able to convince my colleagues of its soundness. Making receptivity to one's own sex a prerequisite for the position of enforcement agent is a change that I believe will benefit us in the future. I must commend you, Mr. Solo, on your foresight and open-mindedness."
Napoleon nodded. "Thank you sir, but I think it's really just a matter of necessity. I've known of a few assignments botched simply because the agent involved couldn't bring himself to put aside his personal reservations about such things. Good agents have to be willing to use whatever leverage they have at their disposal. Seduction can be a powerful means of persuasion."
"Yes, of course." Waverly tapped his pipe on the table absently. "Am I correct in assuming, Mr. Solo, that you yourself have occasionally been obliged to employ such tactics in the, ah, line of duty?"
Napoleon shifted slightly in his chair. "I'm a good agent, sir."
He was almost certain he saw a flicker of amusement cross the Old Man's face.
"Quite so. Well, we certainly have no intentions of recruiting only active homosexuals as field agents, Mr. Solo. The new regulation requires only that the candidate be amenable to such activities when duty demands. Violent opposition to the idea would render him unsuitable, and his application would be denied."
Napoleon frowned. "But there's nothing to stop a man from lying on an application, sir. If he wants in badly enough, he can just indicate his agreement without having any intention of actually following through when the chips are down."
"Yes, Mr. Solo, that did occur to us," Waverly replied dryly. "Obviously, the intense disapprobation with which people tend to regard homosexual behavior is a factor here. Even the most avid applicant might be understandably reluctant to subject himself to such opprobrium if word of his tendencies, whether genuine or not, were to become public knowledge outside of this organization. Unfortunately, we cannot protect our agents from popular prejudice." He sighed.
"It's clear that we will need some sort of independent verification of the subject's willingness. We're thinking of initiating a new course to be taught in Survival School that would prepare trainees for this type of situation. However, it would save U.N.C.L.E. a great deal of time and money to be able to weed out those candidates who would be unsuitable before they've gotten as far as that. We really cannot afford to admit large numbers of otherwise qualified applicants to Survival School only to see them fail to graduate due to personal bias. Of course, in many cases a thorough investigation of the applicant's background would confirm the existence of any, ah, unorthodox inclinations. However, since it is impossible to prove a negative, the absence of such evidence could not necessarily be considered confirmation that such leanings do not exist, or that the candidate would not be willing or able to simulate them if the need arose." Waverly made a small, frustrated sound. "I don't mind telling you, trying to resolve this problem has been quite a vexing proposition."
Napoleon took a thoughtful sip of coffee. "Yes sir, I see what you mean."
"However, I believe I may have hit upon a solution." Waverly paused. "And that, Mr. Solo, is where your new assignment comes in."
Napoleon cocked his head. The coffee had achieved the impossible; he was now awake enough to actually feel curious about whatever task the Old Man was about to set before him.
"We have a young man currently assigned to Section Eight who transferred here from our London office only a few months ago. Because he has a doctorate in quantum mechanics, he was originally recruited as a researcher. However, he does have a background in enforcement; he's Russian, and worked in that capacity for the KGB for a short while. I certainly plan to take advantage of his scientific abilities, but I also believe he would make a very fine field agent. However..." Waverly trailed off.
"However, there's some question about his sexuality?" Napoleon prompted.
Waverly sighed. "I'm afraid so. There was apparently some gossip in London to the effect that Mr. Kuryakin—Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin—might harbor tendencies of the sort we've discussed. However, he was also thought to have socialized, at least on occasion, with young ladies, although I confess I was unable to confirm that either. Since his arrival in New York, I've been able to uncover very little evidence one way or the other. In fact, his overriding interest seems to be his work in the lab." He glared into the bowl of the pipe. "It's been most frustrating."
"So he may be interested in men and doing his best to hide it," Napoleon speculated, "or he may just be very dedicated to his work. Or maybe he's just shy." He smiled inwardly at the thought. Shyness had a certain appeal in either gender.
"Yes. Well, at any rate, I am very interested in having him apply to Survival School and would certainly do everything I could to encourage him in that, but first I would need to be assured of his willingness to, ah, consort with his own sex if duty demands. The prevailing attitudes in Mr. Kuryakin's homeland, as you know, are extremely resistant to such activities, even more so than in the U.S. Taking that into consideration, it is quite possible that our young prospect might find the whole idea abhorrent." Waverly paused. "It's also possible that such a cultural background could have simply forced him to exercise extreme discretion in his, ah, liaisons, and that could explain his apparent lack of interest in these matters."
Waverly fussed with his pipe. Napoleon took another swallow from his cup and waited.
"So, Mr. Solo, I'm assigning you to uncover whatever information you can on Mr. Kuryakin's private life and personal proclivities. I think you'll agree that simple surveillance will be considerably more restful and less hazardous than those assignments you've recently handled with such admirable efficiency. I expect no less from you here." He removed a file from the stack of papers in front of him and slid it across the table. "You will, of course, want to familiarize yourself with your subject's personnel record."
"Yes, sir." Napoleon took the file without looking at it. "Is Kuryakin in the building at the moment?"
The Old Man smiled. "Unlikely, Mr. Solo. I doubt even Mr. Kuryakin's sense of duty compels him to work past nine p.m. on Fridays."
Startled, Napoleon looked at his watch. He'd gotten so caught up in the discussion he'd actually forgotten how late it was.
"Ah, to have a simple nine-to-five job, eh?" Waverly chuckled. "But I have paperwork to catch up on, and you, no doubt, are more than ready to see home again. Good night, Mr. Solo, and get plenty of sleep tonight. Tomorrow would be an excellent time to begin your new assignment. And, Mr. Solo..."
Napoleon paused on his way out the door.
"If this tactic produces the desired results, we may consider it standard procedure for all new applicants in future."
Napoleon read the personnel file at his kitchen table while he ate the plate of sandwiches that was all the dinner he'd had the energy to make. He thought about what he'd read in the shower after dinner while the steaming water beat down on his face. He formulated a tentative plan for surveillance of his subject while he brushed his teeth. And as he lay at last in his own familiar bed, with the soft pillows and warm blankets beckoning him irresistibly toward sleep, his last thought was of the beauty of the face he'd seen in the file photograph.
February, Napoleon decided the next day, was far from his favorite month. A chill wind rattled his car as it sat parked at the curb across from Illya Kuryakin's apartment building. The sky was a forbidding steel gray and short but violent bursts or rain issued forth from it at periodic intervals. The few Saturday shoppers on the sidewalk hurried by with heads bent against the assault, the only slight break in the tedium provided by the occasional woman struggling to subdue a dangerously flapping skirt. Napoleon sighed. So far the women had won every time.
He squirmed in the seat. He was getting a cramp in his leg from sitting so long, and his eyes were beginning to water with the strain of squinting at the third-story window of his quarry's apartment. He'd been watching for two hours, and he hadn't even seen the curtains move. Surely Kuryakin was home. The Russian's car—a nondescript black Dodge, nine years old just as the records had said—was in the building's parking deck, bearing the tracer device Napoleon had surreptitiously placed under its left rear fender two hours earlier. It seemed a little odd to Napoleon that Kuryakin even had a car. After all, he'd been in America only four months, and many New Yorkers of much longer residence relied solely on taxis, buses and subway trains for transportation. A car in New York City was almost a luxury, and from what Napoleon had read in Kuryakin's personnel file, the Russian didn't seem at all the type to indulge in luxuries. Unless, Napoleon mused, he wanted to go places he'd rather no one else knew about.
He stretched his legs out as far as he could in the cramped floor space and swore quietly at the prickly pins and needles in his calves. It occurred to him, not for the first time, that he should have a partner. Most field agents did, but he'd always been so proud of his independence, so confident of his ability to get the job done on his own without help. But the hectic and harrowing events of the past month, not to mention the strain of being responsible for all of Section Two in his new position as CEA, had worn down his resistance to the idea. It would be good to have someone there to count on, someone who could take up the slack, someone who could help him with the damned paperwork. Someone who could watch while he slept. He sighed. Such an alluring thought, to give up control to someone you could trust.
But if he broached the subject to Waverly, the Old Man might think he was going soft. And this was no time for that, not when he was finally beginning to get somewhere in the organization. If only he hadn't been so cocky about not needing a partner in the past.
A sudden movement across the street startled him out of his reflections. The apartment building's street door opened and a young man emerged carrying a basket heaped with laundry. As Napoleon watched, a blast of wind caught what appeared to be a pair of white boxer shorts on top of the pile and sent them tumbling down the sidewalk. The man set the basket down and dashed after the errant garment, then returned and stuffed it savagely down into the pile before continuing on his way. He rounded the corner and disappeared.
Napoleon let out the breath he had been holding. Illya Kuryakin's hair was even blonder than it had looked in his photograph.
Quickly, he slid out of the car and crossed the street. The coin-operated laundromat was just down the block, and though it looked as if Kuryakin had quite a bit of laundry to do, Napoleon didn't want to take a chance on being caught in the Russian's apartment.
Section Eight personnel rarely had need of the elaborate system of locks and alarms which no enforcement agent would be without. Napoleon was able to pick the lock on Kuryakin's door with little difficulty and disarm the simple alarm device before it could go off. He shut the door hurriedly behind him and paused. The apartment was dark. Kuryakin had left no lights on, and the overcast sky permitted only a dim glow to struggle through the closed curtains. Napoleon took his flashlight out of his pocket and swept its beam around the room until he located a telephone resting on an end table. It was the work of a few seconds to place one of the listening devices he had brought with him inside the phone's mouthpiece. Then he carefully secured a spot for one of U.N.C.L.E.'s new miniature motion picture cameras behind a small mirror on the wall. The other would take up residence in the Russian's bedroom. Satisfied for the moment, he stepped back and took a more thorough look around.
The room was sparsely and practically furnished with a couch and two simple armchairs. The coffee table, Napoleon noted, was scratched, and the two matching end tables looked distinctly secondhand. A gaily-colored woven rug enlivened the atmosphere considerably, but the room's most notable feature was the bookshelves. They looked to be homemade, and they lined two of the walls from floor to ceiling. They were positively sagging with books.
Curious, Napoleon approached one of the shelves. The flashlight's beam revealed spines that sported oddly shaped letters which he recognized as Cyrillic. He didn't read enough Russian to decipher the titles. He moved the beam along the shelf, stopping when he encountered more familiar script. Kuryakin, he remembered from the file, had a great facility for languages, and that fact was borne out by the number of titles in French, Latin, even Arabic. And English, of course. Several of the volumes, not surprisingly, appeared to be physics textbooks. He opened one and was confronted with pages of formulas, equations, and diagrams, none of which conveyed any information to him. Napoleon had a sudden memory of sitting in his eleventh-grade chemistry class, bored almost senseless and nursing a lively hatred for the periodic table Sister Veronica expected him to memorize. He shuddered slightly and replaced Kuryakin's book on the shelf.
He moved on down the rows, and was pleased to see that the Russian had a less analytical side as well. Volumes of English romantic poetry rubbed shoulders with Greek drama, Russian novels, the complete works of Shakespeare, and Nelson Algren's The Man with the Golden Arm. Napoleon blinked in amazement at the eclecticism of it. There was an entire section of French decadence—Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Huysmans—in the original language. Next to them sat Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Grey and a biography of the author. And next to the biography was a copy of a book Napoleon had familiarized himself with as a teenager, on the rare occasions when he had the house to himself and easy access to his parents' bedroom closet—Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.
Napoleon paused. How strange that a sociological text such as Kinsey's, loaded with facts, figures and statistics, should be shelved with literature and not with the rest of Kuryakin's non-fiction titles. He smiled, remembering the feverish eagerness he had once felt to acquaint himself with those facts, figures and statistics. He reached for the book, wondering whether it would fall open to the section on homosexuality.
It didn't, so Napoleon checked the index and turned there himself. He could still feel an echo of the guilty excitement that had seized him the first time he had ever read that chapter. His eye fell on scribbled notes in the margin, but to his disappointment, they were in Russian. He flipped through the rest of the book, encountering similar notations in several other places. He sighed in frustration and put the book back on the shelf.
As he did so, he accidentally dislodged a thin paperback, which fell to the floor at his feet. He bent to retrieve it, and caught his breath. Across a plain white cover, in elegant Victorian lettering, were scrawled the words The Erotic Education of Edmund.
Napoleon straightened up slowly, clutching the little book. Victorian pornography. Well, there was nothing so unusual in that. He'd seen it before, in somewhat less than reputable bookstores in London and Paris, though never in the more puritanical United States. He had browsed through some a few times and experienced a mild frisson of arousal at the stylized scenarios of seduction, of wide-eyed maidens with ripe young bosoms and pert little bottoms being initiated into the world of sensual delights by knowing older men whose virility never failed them. But the examples he had seen were all pretty much alike, and minimal to nonexistent plots about nothing more than the deflowering of virgins had failed to hold his interest for long. The men said things like "My pretty," the girls put up token protests before swooning into their captors' arms, and loss of innocence followed hard upon. Napoleon had always felt that, somehow, something was missing.
But those books were about the "erotic education" of girls. He checked the title again. Maybe Kuryakin had managed to find one with an intriguing twist. If what Mr. Waverly suspected was true, maybe he had deliberately sought out that twist.
Napoleon opened the book at random, shined the flashlight beam on the page, and froze.
Mr. Ashworth approached me slowly, tapping the rod against his thigh. "You have failed in your lessons, Edmund, and you must be punished," he said. "You know that you deserve punishment, don't you?" His voice was like honey, and I felt myself tremble. He touched my cheek with gentle fingers, then dropped his hand to my bottom. "You want to be a good child, don't you, Edmund?"
"Yes," I gasped. My prick was beginning a painful throbbing, the sort I had so often felt in my bed at night when waking from dreams of my handsome schoolmaster and the birch rod he employed so skillfully, so lovingly, on the backsides of my more disobedient classmates. But he had never before had cause to touch me with it.
His left hand was caressing my bottom through my trousers, while his right slid purposefully up and down the rod. I could no more have taken my eyes from the instrument than I could have sprouted wings to fly.
"Yes, please," I whispered, the ache between my legs leaving me no alternative. "Please, sir, I want to be good..."
Napoleon slapped the book shut and replaced it, fumblingly, on the shelf. He stood irresolute for a long moment, breathing hard and staring unseeingly at the wall. Then he snatched the book back and quickly slipped it into his inside coat pocket. Surely Kuryakin wouldn't notice one missing book, one thin missing volume among all the others. Carefully he pushed the surrounding books together, leaving no trace of a gap where the paperback had been.
He took a step back from the bookshelves and shook his head to clear it. The bedroom. He needed to plant the other camera in Kuryakin's bedroom. What better place to find evidence of unorthodox sexual leanings? The presence of the little book went far toward removing all doubt in Napoleon's mind, but still he had found no hard evidence.
There was a door just to the left of the tiny kitchen. He crossed to it and stepped inside a small dark room.
From what he could see by the flashlight's beam, it was a perfectly ordinary bedroom. Its only outstanding feature was the elaborate hi-fi set in one corner and the teetering stack of albums beside it. It appeared that the Russian was as interested in music as in the written word.
Napoleon had barely finished installing the second tiny camera when he heard the sound of a key turning in the lock outside the apartment. In a flash, he had crossed to the window, raised it, and climbed through it to drop lightly onto the fire escape he had ascertained was there before entering the building. He descended the three levels, emerged onto the main street and made his way with studied casualness to his car. The cold wind was even stronger now, but Napoleon didn't turn on the heat as he started the engine and merged into traffic. His face was still flushed, and he could feel the book in his pocket, pressing against his ribs.
Whatever Illya Kuryakin's inclinations, he was a master at concealing them, Napoleon finally concluded two weeks later.
During the course of that time, he eavesdropped on five telephone calls made from Kuryakin's apartment; one to the public library to inquire whether they had any recordings by Jelly Roll Morton (they did; the delight in Kuryakin's voice was palpable even through the slight metallic whine of the listening device), and four to the local Chinese take-out. The young Russian received three calls—all of them wrong numbers.
The tracer Napoleon had secreted on Kuryakin's car revealed that his quarry drove straight to U.N.C.L.E. headquarters in the mornings and straight home a night, usually after eight o'clock. On the weekends, he haunted used bookstores and made two forays to jazz clubs in Greenwich Village. This last bit of intelligence piqued Napoleon's interest; though not a jazz fan himself, he'd heard about the kinds of things that went on in those clubs, and in the alleys behind them. But when he discreetly followed Kuryakin on the second occasion, he observed nothing more compromising than a young man indulging his obvious passion for music. Kuryakin sat quietly at a corner table for more than two hours, sipping a beer and swaying a bit in slit-eyed pleasure as the band poured out a waterfall of liquid sound. He was approached three times by unattached women, and sent all three on their way with frustrated expressions on their faces. During a break in the music, Napoleon saw him in conversation with the band's drummer. Napoleon didn't fail to recognize the young musician's hopeful expression as his eyes roamed over Kuryakin's face and form. But if the Russian recognized it too, he gave no sign of it. He merely smiled noncommittally, declined a hit off the reefer the drummer held out to him, and returned to his seat alone.
Kuryakin's home life wasn't particularly exciting either. With the aid of the hidden cameras, Napoleon was able to observe him listening to records, burying his nose in books and journals, playing the occasional game of chess with himself as his opponent, and consuming an astonishing number of frozen and carry-out meals. He entertained no guests of either sex. Several times Napoleon almost fell asleep watching.
The only break in the monotony came at bedtime, when Napoleon had reason to be thankful that he had had time to plant the second camera, even though it provided no evidence of any homosexual tendencies on Kuryakin's part. Kuryakin slept naked, despite the chilly nights, under piles of blankets. He had a truly remarkable body, Napoleon decided. It was lean and wiry, hard but supple, with the palest of skin set off by scattered golden hairs on the chest and thick golden curls at the juncture of the thighs. When he walked from the bathroom to the bed, toward the camera, his heavy cock and balls swayed gently from side to side, as though needing a strong hand to hold and steady them. When the Russian turned his back, Napoleon got a glimpse of pleasantly rounded buttocks separated by a shadowy cleft that seemed to invite careful exploration. Napoleon was always left cursing under his breath when Kuryakin turned the light off and disappeared in the darkness.
The sight of Kuryakin's nightly preparations for bed had the unintended effect of putting Napoleon into a state in which sleep was the last thing on his mind. Restlessness seized him, even as he forced himself to carry out his own bedtime routine. He found himself wondering if the Russian gave in to oblivion immediately upon retiring, or whether he sometimes found it necessary, as Napoleon did, to pleasure himself to sleep. Napoleon tossed fitfully in his bed at the thought. Perhaps, even now, Kuryakin was giving up on counting sheep and reaching instead, like Napoleon, for his genitals. Maybe his eyes were slipping shut as he, too, reveled in a secret fantasy in which warm male lips and coaxing male hands teased him beyond endurance. Maybe he was climaxing, coming in creamy ribbons, drenching his long slender fingers with seed, his voice raised in the same shout of completion as Napoleon's. Perhaps he, too, was drifting in the aftermath, thinking drowsily how much better it would have been to come inside a warm, hungry mouth and then lie, relaxed and sated, while his lover took him from behind and the helplessness of it, the submission, the utter surrender, brought him to aching hardness again and then to a second release, muted compared to the first, but somehow even sweeter. Maybe Kuryakin, too, was falling asleep sighing with thwarted desire to feel the complete security of being held and sheltered by a strength equal to his own.
And then there was the book. It reposed in the drawer of Napoleon's bedside table like a secret stash of some illicit drug, both dreaded and longed for. He savored it in private, in bits and pieces, guiltily drawing out the pleasure. The tale of Edmund's purposeful misdemeanors and subsequent ritualized punishment was more powerfully erotic than anything else Napoleon had ever encountered. He found himself lingering over the more explicit passages, reading them several times, his fingers literally trembling as he turned the pages. The pictures the scenes conjured up in his mind were unlike anything he had ever dreamed or fantasized.
Along with the arousal came bewilderment. He didn't understand why the book excited him so. He had no interest in pain. He had been beaten and whipped numerous times in his two years of service with U.N.C.L.E., and had never taken the slightest pleasure in it; indeed, like any other sane agent, it was an aspect of the job which he disliked intensely. He knew he was no masochist. The fictional Edmund's transports of delight at the feel of his schoolmaster's birch rod seemed so bizarre, were so alien to Napoleon's nature, that in more detached moments he could laugh at it.
Napoleon was not given to careful, analytical scrutiny of his emotions, although his facility for fathoming other people's had stood him in good stead many times, both on the job and off. He usually accepted his feelings for what they were, just as he accepted his strong body and his quick, agile mind. Even his bisexuality was simply a part of him like any other, something that had existed for as long as he could remember. He was always discreet, having been with men less than a dozen times in his life, including the one occasion when duty had required it, and then only in the briefest of encounters. It was safer that way. Napoleon experienced no guilt and no confusion over his feelings for his own sex, but the fascination the pilfered book held for him was perplexing. His attempts to unravel the mystery got him nowhere and, troubled, he finally gave up trying.
He was also rapidly getting nowhere in his surveillance of the young blond scientist. Two weeks of shadowing Kuryakin, snooping through his belongings while the Russian was at headquarters, eavesdropping on his infrequent telephone conversations and watching him perform household tasks in his off hours had netted Napoleon absolutely no useful information. Illya Kuryakin loved food and jazz music. He read voraciously and did not own a television set. He was dedicated to his job to the extent of bringing home stacks of lab notes and physics journals to pore over on weekends. He put out food for stray cats in the alley behind his building, but kept no pets of his own. He did not lure young men to his apartment and ravish them before Napoleon's eager eyes. Neither did he give any indication of wanting to be ravished.
There were the three women whose company Kuryakin politely declined that night at the jazz club. There was the absence of any girlie magazines or provocative pin-ups of leggy movie starlets in his bedroom; Napoleon had checked in vain for such evidence on his second covert visit to the Russian's apartment. There was Rimbaud and Wilde and Kinsey and, or course, The Erotic Education of Edmund. Most of all, there was Kuryakin himself, with his slender artistic fingers, the compact grace of his body, his almost angelic beauty. He was as pretty as a girl.
None of that proved he was a homosexual, of course. None of it proved anything at all. And Mr. Waverly wanted proof.
Clearly, it was time to initiate Plan B.
Napoleon had always found the test tubes, microscopes, and Bunsen burners of Section Eight slightly depressing. He avoided the area unless he had specific business there, with the result that he rarely saw Illya Kuryakin at work. U.N.C.L.E. HQ was a big place, and it was entirely possible to pass people in the corridors every day without really knowing them. Napoleon had seen Kuryakin at headquarters from a distance, had observed him eating in the commissary once or twice, and of course had shadowed him after hours, but he had never exchanged a word with him. As far as he knew, the Russian might be completely unaware of his existence.
But that could be easily remedied.
Napoleon waited until after six o'clock that Monday evening, when he felt fairly certain that most of Kuryakin's colleagues in Research and Development would have gone for the day, and then made his way through the thinly populated corridors to the lab. The small reception desk at the entrance to Section Eight was deserted. The glass in the upper half of the door was reflective, and Napoleon paused in front of it to smooth his hair and straighten his tie. After a moment's indecision, he removed his jacket and draped it over the back of the receptionist's empty chair. Then he turned back to the glass and inspected himself critically. The black leather straps of his gun harness dug into his broad shoulders, making them appear even broader. The gun itself hung over his ribs in its holster, its shiny butt peeking from under his left arm. He projected an air of masculine menace, a kind of risky allure. A lethal smile completed the picture. Satisfied, he entered the lab.
The big room appeared deserted. Napoleon scanned it, taking in the long tables laden with microscopes and glass tubing. The overhead lights were dimmed; maybe the notoriously hardworking Russian had gone home on time for once, Napoleon thought with disappointment. He picked up an empty petri dish and was fingering it absently when he heard a rustle of paper and the sharp creak of a squeaky chair from the far end of the lab, where the researchers' cubicles were located.
Grinning, Napoleon se the petri dish down and headed in the direction of the sound. The noise was coming from the last cubicle on the left. Napoleon checked swiftly to make certain the others were unoccupied, then sauntered around the corner to his destination.
Kuryakin was seated at his desk, head bent, scribbling furiously on a sheet already crowded with arcane notations. He spoke without pausing in his efforts.
"I am almost finished, Mr. Simpson. Just a few more minutes and I will—" He glanced up, saw Napoleon leaning casually against the cubicle wall, and broke off abruptly.
Napoleon smiled, cocking his head to one side. "Ah, it looks like Simpson's gone home, along with everyone else down here. Do you always work longer hours than your section head?"
Kuryakin blinked behind his black horn-rimmed glasses. "Not always, no. But he has family obligations, and I do not." He paused, seeming to study Napoleon's face. "You are Napoleon Solo, are you not? Our Chief Enforcement Agent?"
"That's right," Napoleon said, slightly surprised. "Does my reputation precede me?"
"I have seen you in the corridors occasionally, and once I heard Mr. Waverly call you by name. I have a good memory for faces."
Especially men's faces? Napoleon wondered. He smiled again. "So do I. And a name like Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin isn't easy to forget either. There aren't any other Russians working for U.N.C.L.E. New York."
Kuryakin's eyes took on a guarded expression. "Many people would prefer it if there were none."
Napoleon sobered immediately. "Yes, I'm afraid there are narrow-minded people in every organization, even one as cosmopolitan as U.N.C.L.E." He let his voice soften deliberately. "But I'm not one of them."
The wary look faded, and was replaced by one of mild confusion. "That is—refreshing." Kuryakin hesitated. "Have you some business to discuss with me?"
Napoleon cleared his throat. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. Mr. Waverly would like me to expand my linguistic horizons. I'm fluent in Italian, thanks to my grandmother from the old country, and I'm not too bad in French and Spanish. But the non-Romance languages are a bit of a chore for me, I'm afraid. I spent a year in Korea and barely learned how to say hello. And knowledge of Russian can be very useful for an intelligence agent these days. I wondered if you would mind teaching me a few things." He reached out and casually straightened the lapel of Kuryakin's white lab coat, letting his hand linger at the Russian's chest.
Kuryakin looked down at Napoleon's hand for a long moment, then up into his eyes. Napoleon held his gaze and smiled. He watched the blue eyes darken, saw the full lips part slightly, and a sweet, sharp ache began in the pit of his stomach.
Kuryakin took his glasses off and laid them on the desk, not taking his eyes from Napoleon's. "I would be happy to accommodate you, Mr. Solo. I have had some past experience with tutoring, and I am very patient with beginners."
The young Russian was not glancing nervously away from him, Napoleon noted. He was not blushing shyly. His eyes were boring steadily into Napoleon's as though reading his thoughts. Napoleon felt a warm heaviness settle in his genitals.
He drew his hand back. "Good," he said, and the huskiness of his tone was genuine. "Of course, I'd be willing to pay you for your assistance."
Kuryakin shook his head slowly. "That will not be necessary." His eyes left Napoleon's and traveled appraisingly over the CEA's shoulders and chest. "I find that the joy of teaching is reward enough."
Napoleon swallowed. "It's, ah, getting late. Why don't we go somewhere and have a bite to eat?" He lowered his voice until it was barely more than a whisper. "Then maybe we could go on to my place for our—lesson."
"I would prefer my own apartment." Kuryakin paused. "I have certain—teaching aids—there which I believe would facilitate the learning process."
Napoleon heard a distant roaring sound begin in his ears. "All right.."
Kuryakin smiled slowly at him. "It will take me only a few minutes to finish up here. Meet me at Antonelli's at seven. That is, if you enjoy Italian food?"
"I love it," Napoleon said in a slightly strangled voice. "I'll see you there."
He walked out of the lab, wondering through a haze of excitement just when and how he had lost control of the conversation.
Though Antonelli's was only a block down the street from headquarters, Napoleon seldom ate there. The booths crowded haphazardly together, the often sticky checkered tablecloths, and the not particularly gracious staff combined to form no part of his notion of a fine dining experience. The food was decent, but hardly memorable. Tonight, however, he was barely conscious of the food, the atmosphere, or the unsmiling waitress who dropped the basket of breadsticks on the table from a height of eight inches or more. The world had narrowed down to the young man who was sitting across from him, devouring a plate of lasagna as though he expected it to be snatched from him at any moment.
Kuryakin's blond hair shone golden in the candlelight. His eyes, when they looked up from the lasagna to meet Napoleon's, were sea-blue and bright as silver. His mouth was soft and tempting, and given to twitching in sardonic amusement at Napoleon's obvious lack of interest in his meal. The Russian's hands, though not particularly large, were strong and deft and male. They plied his fork and his wineglass with an unconscious sensuality which played on Napoleon's overheated imagination like a jazz guitarist on the strings of his instrument.
Napoleon was enthralled, entranced, and aroused beyond all reason. Nothing he had seen from a distance during his surveillance of Kuryakin, however attractive, had prepared him for the close-range effect. Even during their conversation in the lab, he had been able to maintain some professional objectivity. But here in a dark, smoky restaurant, away from the sterile confines of U.N.C.L.E. HQ, Kuryakin was quite simply overwhelming.
Napoleon watched with fascination as the Russian inhaled the last morsel of his dinner and carefully licked the tines of the fork. "You really know how to enjoy a meal, don't you?"
Kuryakin's tantalizingly accented voice was deep and throaty. "I am a man of vigorous appetites, my friend," he said, and gazed, smiling, directly into Napoleon's longing eyes.
Kuryakin's living room was just as Napoleon remembered it; not surprising, since he had been in it only three days earlier, on the second of his surreptitious visits, when he had removed the bug and the hidden cameras. But as the front door clicked shut behind them, he was careful to glance nonchalantly around the room as though taking in its features for the first time.
"Nice place you have here," he remarked.
Kuryakin locked the door and then he was at Napoleon's back, sliding the trench coat off his shoulders. Napoleon heard him give a derisive-sounding snort.
"It's functional, no more. My salary is not excessive, and I prefer to spend what I can spare on indulgences other than furniture and decor." He quickly hung Napoleon's coat and his own on the spindly coat tree to the right of the door.
Napoleon's eyes went casually to the rows of books on the shelves. "Yes, I can see that."
There was no reply, and Napoleon realized suddenly that Kuryakin hadn't turned any lights on. The room's only illumination came from outside, the glow from the streetlights insinuating its way through the curtains. He turned around slowly and came almost nose to nose with the Russian standing just behind him. He was so close Napoleon could feel the warmth of his body. Napoleon drew in a sharp breath as their eyes met.
"Would you like a drink?" Kuryakin asked softly.
Napoleon shook his head, wondering for a moment whether he could speak. He managed one word, in a low-pitched murmur. "No."
Kuryakin's lips curved into the faintest of smiles. "Good," he whispered, and reaching up, he took Napoleon's face between his hands and pulled the agent's mouth to his.
The feel of male lips against his own was not new to Napoleon. What was new, and devastatingly pleasurable, was the drowning, dissolving sensation of surrender to those lips, to the power of an embrace that took without asking. Napoleon's few past experiences with men had consisted mostly of hurried and rather tentative mutual jerk-off sessions under government-issued blankets in Korea, and of the feeling of a couple of exquisitely warm but less than expert mouths servicing him. His natural force of personality seemed to give people the impression that anything less than total control of any situation would be unacceptable to him. Even the one duty-demands encounter he had experienced had culminated with his mark eagerly rolling over for him.
There had been nothing like this. Nothing like the strong hands gripping his face, the firm thigh forcing its way between his own, the warm tongue that demanded entry to his mouth, and having found that entry, plundered the depths with a greedy triumph that sent Napoleon's already spinning senses into orbit. Moaning with need, he stumbled backwards, and came up hard against the wall. Kuryakin stayed with him, making an unintelligible sound in his throat and pressing hungrily against him, his mouth still making free with Napoleon's, his hands now sliding possessively over the agent's back.
Just when Napoleon had decided that he was going to suffocate, and suffocate happily, Kuryakin drew back. Napoleon's eyes struggled open, and in the faint light from the window he saw the Russian's swollen lips and the hot wanting in the blue eyes. Bereft, he growled in protest and reached unthinkingly to pull his tormentor back against him.
"No," Kuryakin panted, and caught Napoleon's hands in his own. He paused, breathing raggedly, and Napoleon wondered with some part of his mind if the Russian was having trouble putting words together in English.
"This way," Kuryakin rasped finally. "Come."
He pulled Napoleon away from the wall with hands that shook. Napoleon thought he knew their destination, and experienced a distant feeling of disorientation when Kuryakin began urging him in the opposite direction. Lightheaded with desire, he let out a gasping laugh and protested, "Hey, the bedroom's over there."
Kuryakin went suddenly still, slowly releasing his hold on Napoleon's arm. He peered closely at Napoleon's face in the dimness.
Napoleon stared back, sobering as slow comprehension crept in. He thought he detected a faint smile on the Russian's face.
At last Kuryakin spoke. "So it is. And beds are always more comfortable than couches. Please, lead the way."
After a moment's hesitation, Napoleon did, cursing himself mentally for his slip. Mind whirling, he walked slowly toward the bedroom he had searched so thoroughly a few days earlier. With every step, he could feel Kuryakin behind him, breath hot on the back of his neck. Kuryakin's rigid cock was pushing impatiently against the front of the Russian's pants; Napoleon had felt it while they were kissing. And now it must be pointing directly at his ass. He trembled with fear and eagerness.
When they were inside, Kuryakin shut the door behind them. The soft click made Napoleon jump, sounding somehow much more threatening than a loud slam. He stood unmoving as the Russian stepped to the window and parted the curtains slightly, admitting a thin stream of bright moonlight. It spilled over Kuryakin's form, outlining him with a hazy glow.
"Undress," said the Russian quietly.
Napoleon felt his cock pulse almost painfully, as though it had been given an unexpected squeeze by an invisible hand. He swallowed, and quickly removed his jacket and tie. Then he pulled his shirttail out of his pants and started on the buttons, and Kuryakin commanded, "Slower."
Somewhere in the depths of Napoleon's mind, an indignant voice demanded to know why he was reacting with such slavish alacrity to this man's orders. He could not have answered it, even had he wanted to. Critical thought had become an impossibility. He complied, his fingers moving gradually down, lingering over every button, lowering his zipper slowly, watching the ice-blue eyes heat as they roamed over his exposed flesh.
At last he was naked, and the feeling of exposure was intoxicatingly arousing. His skin was flushed, his breathing labored, his cock pleadingly erect and tight to his belly. And still Kuryakin only gazed at him, arms folded, fully clothed, and silent.
Napoleon closed his eyes. If only the Russian would do something. Desperate, he moved his hand to his cock...
"No!" Kuryakin's voice cracked sharply. Napoleon's eyes snapped open.
Kuryakin's gaze was fixed on Napoleon's aching shaft. "Not yet." His voice was husky. "You will not touch yourself until I say so. Take your hand away."
Napoleon forced himself not to whimper as he returned his hand to his side.
Kuryakin closed the distance between them, stopping inches away. He looked directly into Napoleon's fevered eyes.
"You have been in this apartment before."
"Yes," Napoleon whispered. He had never seen such blue eyes on anyone before. He was powerless to look away from them.
"While I was at headquarters."
"How many times?"
Napoleon hesitated. It seemed ridiculous to lie at this point, but...
Kuryakin raised a hand to Napoleon's face and delicately stroked his chin with a finger. "Why, Napoleon?" he asked again, very softly.
Napoleon shut his eyes and took a breath. "Waverly assigned me to find out if you were—ah, interested in men," he finished lamely.
Kuryakin blinked, once. "I see," he said flatly. He dropped his hand abruptly and took a step back. His eyes left Napoleon's face and focused instead on some point over the agent's left shoulder. "I'm glad to have been of assistance to you."
"It wasn't like that!" Napoleon felt suddenly desperate to make himself understood. "He wants you to apply to Survival School, for field training. The new regulations require field agents to be willing to—well, to have an open mind on the subject. So Waverly wanted to be certain that you would be suitable." He paused, hoping fervently that he was making an impression on his unreadable companion. "He thinks you have great potential."
Slowly Kuryakin's face turned back to his. "And you?" Those eyes bored once again into Napoleon's. "What do you think?"
Napoleon put out a hand and stroked the silky blond hair above Kuryakin's ear. It needed cutting.
"I think you've got the greatest potential I've ever seen," he said.
Kuryakin's lips curved upward gradually in a small smile, and Napoleon sighed inwardly with relief.
"I believe you have much potential as well, my friend," Kuryakin said. His hand trailed down Napoleon's abdomen. "But I also believe it would require just the right touch to bring it out." At the last words, he gently grasped Napoleon's cock.
Napoleon gasped and thrust forward instinctively, but Kuryakin instantly released his cock and gripped him by the hips instead, steadying him.
"Be still!" the Russian snapped.
Napoleon gritted his teeth and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, Kuryakin was searching his face.
"Yes, you do need something very specific." He licked his lips slowly. "I thought you would." He leaned closer, putting his mouth ticklingly near Napoleon's ear. "You stole my book, didn't you?"
Napoleon blinked in an effort to clear the fog of lust from his mind. "What?" he asked faintly.
Kuryakin slid his hands around to cup Napoleon's buttocks. He spoke in a whisper. "Answer me."
"Yes, yes," Napoleon groaned. "I stole it. God..."
"You wanted to read it?"
"But you could have waited until we got to know each other and then asked me to lend it to you." Napoleon felt a warm tongue trace around his earlobe. "You must have known that I would be angry if I ever discovered that you took it."
"Yes...angry..." If he couldn't touch the Russian soon he would go mad.
"Theft is a very serious matter, my friend. I should call the police." Kuryakin's hands began squeezing lightly, rhythmically.
The teasing tongue probed Napoleon's ear. "However, I prefer to mete out my own punishment."
"You agree that you need to be punished, don't you, Napoleon?" Kuryakin's breathing was beginning to sound increasingly labored. "I realize that you were only doing your job when you broke in here, but you stole my book for your own pleasure. You need to be punished to release the guilt you must feel over committing such a nefarious act. Don't you agree?" He nipped delicately at Napoleon's neck.
"Yes," Napoleon whispered, and arched his neck to give his tormentor better access.
Predictably now, Kuryakin drew back. His eyes held Napoleon's firmly. "Did you like what you read in the book, Napoleon?" he whispered. "I can give you that." He dipped his head and licked Napoleon's rigid left nipple, then bit down on it.
Napoleon cried out in pain and pleasure. His senses whirled, but he forced himself to think, to separate the desire from the fear. He was almost beyond making such fine distinctions, and that thought frightened him even more.
"No," he said hoarsely, and struggled away from Kuryakin's intoxicating embrace. "I don't want—I mean..." He floundered to a stop, hopelessly confused.
Kuryakin stared at him for a moment, and even in his disoriented state, Napoleon thought how beautifully the flush of arousal sat on the pale features. Then understanding filled the Russian's eyes, and he smiled. Gently, he took Napoleon's face in his hands.
"You don't want to be hurt," he said softly.
Unable to speak, Napoleon shook his head.
Kuryakin's fingers stroked Napoleon's cheekbones. "You only wish to be led, is that it?"
Napoleon sighed. "Yes."
Kuryakin smiled at him again. "Men such as you are not accustomed to surrender. But the longing for it will not be ignored."
Napoleon shut his eyes and nodded. This was what he had wanted for so long. How could Kuryakin have known what he ached for? He had barely known it himself. Incredibly, he felt tears rise in his throat.
"Will you trust me?"
"I—yes." It was crazy, but he did trust this man.
Kuryakin leaned closer and kissed him on the cheek.
"I won't truly hurt you, lyubshi," he murmured. "But I will show you how it feels to belong to a man, to be wanted so much that the powerlessness of it becomes a thing to be treasured. You think you want that now, but once you have had it, you will crave it always."
"Please," Napoleon whispered. It was the only word in his mind.
Kuryakin took a step backward and Napoleon heard him draw in a long, shuddering breath. "Sit down on the edge of the bed."
Trembling, Napoleon did. The soft, fuzzy blanket tickled his bare skin pleasantly.
Kuryakin stepped in front of him, straddling Napoleon's thighs, bringing his crotch only inches from Napoleon's face. His hand came forward, sliding his zipper down, and then reached inside to cup the straining flesh concealed behind white cotton underpants. Napoleon heard a soft hiss and looked up to see the beautiful eyes closing with pleasure. He felt a sudden flare of jealousy. He should be doing this to the Russian. He should be eliciting that pleasure...
His train of thought was abruptly cut off as Kuryakin slid the underpants down slightly, letting his cock spring free. It was swollen and ready, and so close that Napoleon could feel its heat on his lips. His own shaft throbbed in painful sympathy.
"Do it," Kuryakin whispered.
Napoleon had never tasted a man's cock before, but that didn't mean he hadn't wanted to. He surged forward eagerly, grasping Kuryakin's hips to steady him, and took the hardened flesh into his mouth. Drawing on his knowledge of what he himself liked, he closed his lips tight around Kuryakin's erection and slid his mouth as far down it as he could, then withdrew and licked industriously at the spongy head, discovering that its leaking fluid tasted almost exactly the same as his own. He heard the Russian cry out, and then felt hands on his head, holding him fast, urging him on. Napoleon complied without hesitation, and sucked hungrily. Kuryakin arched toward him, growling, and began fucking his mouth so deeply that Napoleon almost choked. But just when he thought he might never breathe freely again, his companion gasped "Stop," and forced his head back, pulling the warm flesh from his mouth and making him groan in mingled relief and disappointment. Unthinking, he moved toward Kuryakin again, wanting more, but the Russian shoved him away. He fell back awkwardly on the bed and looked up, slightly stunned, to see Kuryakin gripping the base of his cock tightly, his eyes closed, his chest heaving.
After a moment, Kuryakin opened his eyes and spoke hoarsely. "I like your mouth very much, Napoleon, although it could certainly benefit from experience. But I would like something else as well, I think. Lie down on your stomach."
Napoleon felt his heart give a painful bound. Silently, he turned on the bed and lay prone, his face turned to one side, his aching genitals pressed against the blanket. Behind him, he heard Kuryakin rapidly shedding his clothes, and then the bed dipped and a warm male body settled heavily atop his, immobilizing him. He groaned in helpless pleasure at the feeling of entrapment.
"Krasivyy," murmured the honey voice at his ear. "You are very beautiful, Napoleon. I have not been with so beautiful a man in a long while." Soft lips caressed the nape of Napoleon's neck before traveling down his back. "And you taste so good." Napoleon shook as Kuryakin's tongue moved slowly, teasingly, over the base of his spine. "Do you taste this good everywhere, I wonder?" And then, without warning, his cheeks were being parted, and the talented tongue was probing delicately between them.
Napoleon shouted, and thrust backward violently. In an instant, Kuryakin had released him and a stinging slap landed on his backside. Napoleon yelped in shock and fell forward, his cry muffled by the pillow.
"You are here to learn, my friend, remember?" Kuryakin panted. He grabbed Napoleon's wrists and held them, not gently, at the small of the agent's back. "When you agree to submit yourself to a man, you play his game. Your pleasure comes on his terms, not yours. But I see you need help in that area. Reach under the mattress and give me what you find there."
He released Napoleon's hands. Shaking with impatience, and still smarting from the blow, Napoleon obeyed, feeling about until he encountered something soft and smooth. Wondering, he removed it, and found himself with a handful of silk scarves.
Kuryakin took the scarves from him. "There's one more thing." He motioned to the mattress again.
Napoleon groped under it until he found a small tube of lubricant. Why hadn't he thought to search under Kuryakin's mattress on his previous visits?
"Stretch out," Kuryakin ordered.
He did, heart pounding, and with quick, deft movements his captor secured his wrists and ankles to the bedposts. Then Kuryakin pushed a pillow under Napoleon's hips, raising them slightly. The softness beneath him felt wonderful, and he couldn't stop himself from rubbing against it a little, his pleading cock pathetically grateful for the friction.
The Russian's hands clamped down hard on his hips, impeding his movements.
"I will decide when you come, Napoleon, and I will be the one to make it happen. Stop moving!"
Napoleon's fraying control snapped. He raised his head from the pillow and said clearly, "If you're not going to fuck me, let me up. I can get tied up and knocked around any day of the week."
He felt a sudden warm gust of breath against his back, as though Kuryakin were laughing silently. But when he spoke, it was in a satin whisper with no trace of humor in it.
"You're in no position to demand anything of me, lyubshi. For now, you are mine and I will do exactly as I please with you. You want that more than your next breath and we both know it. If I wanted to make you wait all night, I would. If I wanted to lick your cock until you begged, I would not hesitate. And if I want to take you—" he pressed a freshly lubricated finger into Napoleon's opening, ignoring the agent's sharply indrawn breath, "—I will take you so hard you'll remember it until the day you die." He pushed deeper, and Napoleon stifled a cry of delight as his prostate was found and stroked.
Kuryakin rotated the finger slowly, causing Napoleon to grip the bedclothes in desperation, moaning aloud now without shame. After a moment he felt the Russian's warm lips press gently to his back.
"Sweet," Kuryakin murmured. "You have never been touched like this, have you?"
Napoleon shook his head, concentrating fiercely on the deep internal massage. It was like nothing he had ever felt before, and with his whole being he wanted more of it. "Please," he begged, hardly even aware that he was speaking, "Please—"
"I know," Kuryakin whispered, and distantly Napoleon heard the catch in his voice. "I know how good it is. But soon it will be better still. You'll see."
He continued to stretch and loosen the tight hole, passing deliberately again and again over the spot that sent showers of sparks through Napoleon's body with every touch. Napoleon was almost mesmerized, eyes closed, mouth open, existing in a world of pure sensation, when Kuryakin suddenly drew out. Napoleon cried, "No!" and strained uselessly against his bonds. The sudden emptiness was a physical ache.
But a moment later Kuryakin was mounting him, his leanly muscled thighs forcing Napoleon's wider apart, his fever-hot genitals pressed eagerly to Napoleon's ass. He rubbed wantonly against the cleft, and Napoleon heard him groan.
"You want me inside you," grated the softly accented voice, as Kuryakin's arms slid around him, pulling their bodies even closer together. "Say it."
"Yes," Napoleon gasped. "Inside..."
"You want to be punished for your crime, punished by a man, the way you know you deserve."
Kuryakin's panting breath was hot on Napoleon's neck. "You want to know how it feels to be bound and helpless while a man spends himself in you."
"Oh, God," Napoleon breathed. "Now, now..."
"Yes," Kuryakin whispered, "now." With a single knife-clean stroke, he thrust into Napoleon to the hilt.
Napoleon couldn't restrain a cry. The pain was shocking, even with Kuryakin's preparation. He bit down on the pillow, trying to ignore the stabbing, burning sensation. Despairingly, he felt his throbbing erection begin to subside.
But Kuryakin was moaning above him, an unintelligible rumble deep in his chest, and dimly Napoleon realized that the Russian's teeth were sunk as fiercely into his right shoulder blade as his own were into the pillow. Kuryakin's hands were stroking his chest frantically, but otherwise he was not moving, and gradually the pain lessened, replaced by an odd sensation of peace. He was completely powerless, not because power had been taken from him, but because he had freely given it away. He was under the control of a man who matched him strength for strength, who had taken him more relentlessly than he himself had ever taken a woman. He had no decisions to make, no one else's needs to consider. The pure freedom of it was dizzying.
Then Kuryakin pulled back, and Napoleon inhaled sharply as the retreating invader pressed firmly against his prostate. Kuryakin felt his reaction and laughed, a low, breathless sound. He pushed forward again, and Napoleon groaned as the flames licked through him. His cock stiffened again in anticipation. Eager now for more, he shoved backward as far as his bonds would allow, parrying his lover's thrust.
Kuryakin hissed, and Napoleon felt warm hands brace his hips. And then the pounding began, the hard, driving rhythm he had experienced before only in the sweetest of dreams. He shook as the pain faded completely, burning away in the pleasure, and there was only darkness and heat and hunger and Kuryakin's steely flesh sheathed in his.
The ecstasy of possession almost drove the need for orgasm from his consciousness. But he jerked violently when Kuryakin's right hand reached under him to grasp his cock, and then gasped, "God, yes..." as his pulsing erection was expertly stroked and squeezed. He had no leverage with which to thrust, so he was forced to let Kuryakin set the pace. But the Russian seemed to know how he needed it, and in moments Napoleon felt the familiar churning in his balls. He came with shattering intensity, sobbing his delight as the spasms racked his body, drenching the sheets, the pillow, and his companion's helping hand with creamy white seed. At the height of it he felt Kuryakin take his final plunge, heard the Russian's shout of completion, and he buried his face in the pillow and let the wildness of it consume him.
"You must give me back my book, you know," Kuryakin said softly some time later. The moon had risen higher, and its light slipped stealthily through the curtains to the bed where they lay, warm and close and naked, under the blankets. "It has a certain sentimental value to me."
"Mmm," Napoleon replied. Speaking seemed such wasted effort when all he really wanted to do was lie still and listen to the Russian's slow, steady heartbeat beneath his ear.
"It was given to me by an acquaintance in Europe," Kuryakin continued, idly running the fingers of his left hand over the back of Napoleon's neck. "He thought I would be open to—experimentation."
Napoleon sighed contentedly. It wasn't so bad, the talking. With his head pillowed on Kuryakin's chest, he could feel the pleasant vibrations of his bedmate's voice. It was soothing. The touches were soothing too. He smiled and arched his neck into the Russian's hand.
"And you were open to it?" he murmured, mainly to encourage Kuryakin to speak again.
"I was—curious." He paused. "I was curious about many things. I left Russia when I was nineteen. The West was like a wonderland. So much food, so much color. So warm. I was afraid of it, but I wanted it. The first night I spent in Paris, two different men invited me to sleep with them. It was like—like breathing for the first time."
Napoleon tilted his head and looked up at him. "Did you do it?"
"Sleep with one of them."
Kuryakin's eyes shone in the moonlight. "With both of them. They were very nice, and I didn't wish to appear rude."
Napoleon shook his head in wonderment. "When I was watching you, you seemed so—" he cast about for words "—so controlled. You didn't seem to want—"
Kuryakin looked amused. "I simply prefer quality to frequency. When I have to choose, that is. Pleasure is cheap. What you and I had tonight is rare." He stroked Napoleon's hopelessly rumpled hair back from his forehead. "You are rare, my friend," he whispered. "Finding so perfect a match... This is something I will remember for a very long time."
Napoleon shifted, moving so that his head was resting on the pillow next to Kuryakin's, and touched the Russian's cheek gently.
"Sometimes you don't have to choose between quality and frequency." He leaned forward and brushed the full lips with his own. "And you don't have to 'remember it fondly,' either. Not if it becomes standard procedure."
Kuryakin blinked. "I'll be going away soon."
Napoleon's heart contracted painfully. "What? Where?"
"To Survival School. I have missed enforcement work, and you said Mr. Waverly wished me to apply."
Napoleon relaxed. "Oh, yes. And after I tell him that I was finally able to obtain evidence of your, ah, open-mindedness, I'm sure your application will be accepted."
The Russian's eyes narrowed. "If you tell him—"
"I'll just tell him you were observed leaving a restaurant with a devastatingly handsome male companion who was obviously having difficulty keeping his hands off you, and that the two of you disappeared into your apartment, from which screams of ecstasy soon issued forth—"
Kuryakin sighed and snuggled deeper into the pillow. "So long as you stick scrupulously to the truth, I have no objections." Then he opened one eye and fixed Napoleon with a piercing glare. "I will, however, slice off your yaytsa and shove them up your zhopa if I ever discover that any of this has been recorded. You may rest assured of that." There was not the slightest hint of humor in his voice.
Napoleon swallowed. He did know some Russian. "I took all the bugs and cameras out the last time I was here, I swear. You never did anything interesting anyway."
"Good," Kuryakin said in satisfied tones. "I should regret having to damage you."
They were silent for a while, enjoying each other's warmth. Napoleon was lazily exploring Kuryakin's chest when a thought suddenly struck him. He whispered, "Illya?" The name felt strange, foreign, on his tongue. But very pleasant.
Getting no response, he wrapped a lonely blond chest hair around his finger and tugged. "Illya?"
The Russian growled sleepily and pushed his hand away. "What?"
"You knew about me all along, didn't you? That I stole the book, I mean."
Kuryakin yawned. "Of course. I saw you at the Rhythm Hole the night you followed me there."
"As I told you, I have a good memory for faces. I have admired yours from afar since the first time I saw it." He touched Napoleon's chin, tracing the cleft with gentle fingers. "Even with a fake goatee to cover this, I could tell. You have beautiful eyes, Napoleon. You should not have taken your dark glasses off."
Napoleon shook his head. "Waverly was right. You do have great potential."
Kuryakin smiled. "And then the next day when I discovered the book's disappearance and found the camera in here—"
Startled, Napoleon broke in. "You found the camera? Why didn't you take it out?"
"Because I dared to hope that your reasons for watching me were not of a professional nature. It may interest you to know that I am not normally given to sleeping in the nude."
Napoleon laughed softly.
After another interlude of quiet, Napoleon said again, "Illya?"
"Are you ever going to let me sleep?"
"Ah, it occurs to me that if you apply to Survival School right away, you'll probably be accepted right away, and since the next session begins in two weeks, you'll be leaving very soon." Napoleon let his voice drop to a silky whisper. "But I happen to have every night free for the next two weeks."
Kuryakin opened his eyes. "Do you?"
Napoleon nodded. "Waverly's afraid he's been working me too hard. He told me today that he's decided to keep me behind the desk for a month or so after my, ah, current assignment is over. Barring emergencies, of course."
"How dull for you."
"I wouldn't say that." He took the Russian's hand, turned it over, and kissed the wrist, licking delicately at the pulse point. "And after you graduate, I'll pull every string I can find to get you assigned to the New York office, and then we—"
He was cut off suddenly when Kuryakin freed his hand and placed it firmly over Napoleon's mouth.
He spoke quietly, seriously. "You take much for granted, my friend."
Napoleon searched his companion's eyes. They were hooded, almost black. He remembered the Russian's prior experience in intelligence.
He removed Kuryakin's hand from his lips and asked softly, "Don't you want to?"
Kuryakin looked away. "I don't believe in making long-range plans." He shifted restlessly. "I am afraid I bore rather easily."
Napoleon turned the Russian's face back to his. "What's the longest time you've ever been with one man?"
Kuryakin looked reluctantly into his eyes. "Two weeks."
Napoleon's lips twitched. "Well, why don't we just enjoy ourselves until you leave for Survival School, and then when you get back we'll see what happens. You never know—after nine months of that hell you might be so glad to see me you'll never want to be out of my sight again."
Kuryakin smiled faintly. "Perhaps." His tone changed abruptly. "I'm very tired, Napoleon, and we both must work tomorrow. Good night."
Napoleon watched him turn over and settle his head comfortably into the pillow. After only moments, his breathing had slowed and deepened in sleep.
Napoleon sighed and rolled onto his back. At least he would have two good weeks. And if he made it good enough for Kuryakin during those two weeks—if he was compliant enough, submissive enough, willing to hand over control...
He smiled. That shouldn't be too difficult.
He fell asleep still smiling.