The Importance of Driving

by Ghostwriter

Two hands reached for the door handle at the same time, twining awkwardly as they each tried to win custody of the prize. Gazes locked; spines straightened. A hushed silence descended upon the underground parking complex, the air itself not daring to move. The ritual had begun.

"I'll drive, Illya," Napoleon Solo said, offering his companion a charming smile. It didn't work.

The Russian gazed back coolly. "I will drive, Napoleon."

A dark eyebrow rose slowly. "Are you implying that I'm a bad driver?"

"Not in the least," Illya replied.

"Yet you still don't want me to. Why?"

Illya took a deep breath, his jaw clenching slightly. "You always take the longest route possible; it is very frustrating."

A grin tugged at the corner of Napoleon's mouth. "You don't like long drives?"

Illya blinked, momentarily disarmed by the other man's tone. "It is an inefficient use of time," he finally answered.

"We're no longer Section Two, tovarishch. We can afford to take our time, if we so choose."

The Russian's blue eyes narrowed slightly as he tried to assess his companion's motives. The older man simply grinned at him, waiting patiently. "That does not negate the inefficiency of slipshod navigation, Napoleon."

"No, it doesn't," Napoleon agreed, shifting his weight so that he was leaning comfortably against the side of the silver '86 Mercedes convertible whose door handle was still equally claimed by both men. "But you've never complained before."

"I was merely being polite."

Napoleon cocked his head slightly, boosting his smile from charming mode to downright dazzling. "You don't enjoy those drives at all, moy droog? Don't enjoy letting someone else take control for awhile so that you can sit back and relax...and drink in all the sights and sounds of life at its finest?"

Illya's defenses slowly melted under Napoleon's amused but intense gaze. "Well..." he began, fumbling for words.

"I think you do."

"Do what?" Illya asked absently, still trying to regain his mental footing.

"You like it when I drive," Napoleon purred softly. "Perhaps I'm not as 'efficient' as you, but that doesn't mean the experience is any less pleasurable. Sometimes it's nice to go slow, to savor each moment, drawing it out until you think you might just pass out from the joy of it all."

A predatory gleam ignited in the Russian's gaze. His lips quirked only a fraction of a millimeter, but Napoleon saw it. Victory was close at hand.

"I did not say that I disliked your driving," Illya said, his eyes smiling even if his face wasn't. "You are quite...capable."

Napoleon's mouth formed a small 'oh' as he feigned surprise. "Capable? Mmm, yes." His voice lowered as he asked, "Do you know how much I enjoy driving?"

Illya couldn't stop the grin that played across his lips, though he managed to restrain it from becoming a full blown smile. "At least as much as I do, I would imagine," he speculated.

"Oh, yes," Napoleon whispered, nodding. He tightened his hold on the door handle. "Will you let me drive, Illyusha?"

The Russian didn't relinquish his hold. "Some other time, perhaps."

Napoleon inhaled deeply, the spicy scent of his own cologne tickling his nostrils. This ongoing challenge thrilled him, but some kind of resolution would be necessary if they ever hoped to leave the parking garage. "A coin toss, then?" It seemed a fair way of settling things since neither man was willing to relent. He searched his pocket, but only came up with his billfold.

"Allow me," Illya offered, quickly producing a quarter. "Your call."

The older man was practically leering. "Heads."

The coin flew easily from the Russian's fingers, propelled high and wide by the slightest twist of his wrist. Noting the aberrant trajectory, Napoleon automatically took a step away from the car to catch it. The diversion worked perfectly.

Illya had already slid into the driver's seat and was pulling the door shut by the time Napoleon realized his mistake. He turned and mock-glared, noting at once how young his former partner looked even now, almost twenty years after they'd retired from the field. Illya's hair was still blond, a sharp contrast to his own lightly graying locks, and all the pain and suffering he'd endured at the hands of THRUSH agents had not dimmed the lively sparkle in his eyes.

"Are you coming?" Illya asked, a touch of smugness coloring his words.

Stepping forward, Napoleon leaned over and rested his arms on the open window frame. He grinned, weaving the quarter expertly between the fingers of his right hand. "I don't know; am I?" he countered. "Or is it better to ask, 'Will I be coming'?"

The Russian remained silent, but gave Napoleon one of those shy smiles which always sent his body into overdrive. The older man winked lasciviously, holding Illya's gaze a moment longer—just long enough to see a touch of color rising in those pale features. Then he made his way around the back of the car to the passenger door.

Once settled inside, Napoleon announced, "Devons-nous rentrer à la maison, mon amour?" When the blond man didn't answer and made no move to start the car, Napoleon glanced over at him.

Illya's blue eyes fairly smoldered with passion. "Fasten your seat belt, Napasha," he ordered quietly.

Chuckling, Napoleon did as he was told, never taking his eyes off the beautiful man sitting next to him. Perhaps it was a good thing Illya was driving this time; the faster they got home, the better.

Within seconds, Illya had started the Mercedes and backed her away from their parking spot. The gleeful squeal of her tires echoed through the underground complex long after they'd barreled out the exit, causing the air to blush with happiness.

French according to Babelfish: Devons-nous rentrer à la maison, mon amour? = Shall we go home, my love?

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