The Kiss in the Cafeteria Affair
The mood in UNCLE's employee cafeteria was relaxed, cheerful - even celebratory. Every month Lisa Rogers organized a birthday party for anybody in Section II with a birthday in that month. Also every month, Jaime Loria from Chemistry organized a similar function for those in Science. This month they had put their heads together and thrown a double celebration because it was Illya's month, and he worked in both areas. There were three other birthdays in Enforcement, and two in Science, but there was no question as to whose party this was. Illya was feted and toasted, and every move he made was cheered. He had finally settled on top of a table and sat there now, swinging his legs, wearing a ridiculous birthday crown, surrounded by wrapped gifts. He had been soundly kissed by every female employee in the room, and his back slapped heartily by most of the men. Now he was flushed and laughing, and eating birthday cake with obvious relish.
Napoleon watched him and smiled. It was hard to credit that this was the same man who had arrived in New York all those years ago - rigid and self protective, eyes cold, face matching the eyes. His distaste for socialization, his near revulsion at physical contact, his refusal to join in even the most trivial of office events, had isolated him and he had seemed to prefer it that way. But Napoleon had seen all of that as a challenge and he had taken up the challenge; turning the full Solo charm on his new partner. He invited Illya out to dinner - Illya said no with a curl of his lip. He invited Illya over to his apartment - Illya just shook his head without even the fake courtesy of an excuse. Nothing daunted, Napoleon had stepped up the pursuit. He brought Illya breakfast, and discovered to his delight that while Illya would turn down an invitation, once the food was in front of him he wouldn't - possibly couldn't - say no. He ate that first bagel after stilted thanks that were almost as offensive as his prior refusals had been. But Napoleon wasn't offended. He was charmed. He couldn't even have said why. But the first time Illya smiled at him - that shy, piercingly sweet little smile that he immediately tried to hide by tucking it into the corners of his mouth as if it were a grimace of annoyance - Napoleon had wanted to cheer. He set about eliciting those smiles, and counting each one as a victory.
They had been partners for a little less than a year when Illya and that blonde photographer had been hit with the fear gas. He had found Illya cowering in a corner, had covered it with Waverly and sat down on the floor in front of him, making himself lower, non threatening. He had held out his arms, not knowing what to do, only knowing that he couldn't bear seeing Illya afraid of anything, much less him. Illya, still in that defensive huddle by the bar, had stared at him. Then, in a rush - as if fearing he'd change his mind if he didn't do it quickly, or that Napoleon would change his - he had crawled across the floor and into the embrace. Practically in Napoleon's lap he had hugged himself, and let Napoleon hug him.
Napoleon had rocked him, whispered soothing nonsense into his ear, stroked his hair. He had actually wanted to touch Illya's hair since the first time he'd seen it, and it was as soft and thick under his fingers as he'd thought. He'd patted him and after a while Illya's arms had relinquished their frantic self protective grip and crept around Napoleon's waist. There had been another interval, and Napoleon had begun to seriously worry that Waverly would send a team over anyway, despite Napoleon's assurance that he could handle the situation on his own, when Illya had whispered, "Napoleon?"
"What - what's wrong with me?"
"I don't know, but I'm sure some nefarious Thrush drug or device is responsible. How are you doing?"
"I'm so afraid. I don't even know what I'm afraid of. Nothing. Everything. " He drew a deep, shuddering breath.
"Are you afraid right now?"
"Yes - no. Not right now. Not with you - oh, Napoleon. What a fool I'm making of myself. I'm sorry." He began to shiver, teeth chattering. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry and ... where's Marion?"
"So I've failed. I'm supposed to be guarding her and when you show up she's been taken and I'm a quivering mess in the corner. Mr. Waverly's going to fire me for this, isn't he. And they'll send me back. And I ... I don't want to go back there, Napoleon."
"You blew your bodyguard assignment," Napoleon admitted cheerfully. "It's not the first time Thrush has gotten the better of us, and I'm sure it won't be the last. Mr. Waverly certainly will not fire you. Did he fire me for going into the wrong deli and leaving the microdot on their menu to be thrown away with the trash?"
"No, but you found the menu and it all worked out."
"And we will find Miss Raven, and this will all work out too."
"But after he sees me like this - after everybody sees me like this - no one will respect me anymore. They might as well fire me."
"No one would hold this against you. Most of us have been there, one way or another. And in case you haven't noticed, you're not `like this' anymore. You're better. You're talking rationally, and I think it's a good sign that your brain is trying to attach the fear to specifics - being fired, being deported. By the time we get to headquarters you'll be fine."
"But I'm still ..." he jerked his head downward, indicating their position on the floor, his arms still around Napoleon, Napoleon's still around him.
"Yes, but even that's an improvement over thirty minutes ago. Think you can stand up?"
"Yes," Illya said, as he would always say, as Napoleon was to find out. Broken ankle? Yes, I can stand. Back laid open by a bullwhip? Yes, I can walk. But this time he could, as it turned out, and it was as Napoleon had said. By the time they walked into Del Floria's Illya was - to all visible appearances - himself again. Too pale, face too tight, but able to give his report without emotionalism, let them take blood samples, urine samples, hair samples - the latter with visible unhappiness that disappeared when the lab tech took a snip from underneath where it didn't show. He even found a smile when she teased him that she was going to put the hair in a locket and wear it around headquarters.
And again, as Napoleon had said, it all worked out. The mission was a success, and Illya and Marian had been an item for the next few months. although it petered out, as they all did; as they had to really. Because of the lives they led, because of the risks they ran. But still, it had been nice to see Illya get some action for a change. Napoleon had begun to wonder, and he hadn't been the only one. Now, with Illya's heterosexuality firmly established, the office girls began to tentatively flirt with him and he, while clearly taken off guard, allowed it and even reciprocated on occasion. That Christmas, after the office party where he had been repeatedly caught and kissed under mistletoe, Napoleon had teased him about his newfound popularity.
"That's all you, Napoleon," he had said earnestly, holding his champagne glass out for a refill from the bottle Napoleon was offering. "It's because you like me that they do." Then he had turned crimson. "I mean - well, you do, don't you? Like me? I mean, you act as if you do, and -"
"Of course I do," Napoleon had said firmly. "You know I do. But they don't like you because I do, they like you because - well, because you're you. And now that you're letting them see you, why, of course they like you. Why not?"
"Napoleon, there are so many answers I could give for that."
"And all of them wrong." He had patted Illya's shoulder. "Merry Christmas, my friend," he had said, and Illya had glowed.
"Merry Christmas to you too, Napoleon." Then he had swallowed, put the glass down and said "moy droog." His voice caught on the words, he took a quick drink of champagne and coughed. Napoleon had laughed and pounded his back.
"Well, don't choke on it," he'd said, but inwardly he was exulting. I did it, he thought. I've got him. I've ... then Illya's eyes had met his, those beautiful blue eyes, and Illya had given him that little smile, although it wasn't so little anymore and he didn't try to hide it. Napoleon had swallowed, nearly choked himself. Or he's got me.
And now here they were. Both finished with the fieldwork; Napoleon ready to step up into Waverly's chair when the old man retired next year, Illya still weighing the pros and cons of either taking Napoleon's place or moving full time into science. Napoleon hoped he would choose science, because he never wanted to be in the position of sending Illya out into danger while he himself sat safely in headquarters. And there Illya was, wearing a paper birthday crown, opening assorted humorous gifts - a coffee mug with a big black mustache painted on it, a whoopee cushion, a pack of condoms `ribbed for her pleasure' which no one would admit to giving him but which all the women offered to field test with him. And he was laughing, and clearly enjoying himself. It all made Napoleon very happy, except for the blatant flirting. Of late, that had annoyed him. He didn't know why, really, but since everybody else thought it was jealousy for his own position as UNCLE's leading ladies' man he accepted that role, and that was probably it, of course. What else could it be?
As if in answer to that unasked question, Napoleon did some flirting of his own with Felicia, and she was happy to oblige and reciprocate. It was, all in all, a very convivial gathering, and when the conversation turned to Napoleon's prowess with women he didn't mind at all.
"Napoleon is the best kisser ever," Anna told Felicia. "You keep on this way and you'll find out. The best ever," she repeated, and shot Napoleon a smoldering look. He obligingly shot one right back at her. Encouraged, she continued. "He has gotten Thrush agents to give him the keys to prison cells, give him secret formulas and who knows what all, just by kissing them. Ask Illya here if you don't believe me." And although no one had disagreed with her, all looked at Illya anyway.
"What?" he asked, startled at the attention.
"Didn't you hear me? I said Napoleon has kissed his way out of all sorts of bad situations. Am I right?"
"Oh, please," Illya said, rolling his eyes. "I'm not going to further enlarge his ego by stroking it."
"But isn't it true that when he kissed Angelique she came over to us with her whole portfolio?"
"Yes," Illya allowed. "That is true. But that didn't stop her from double crossing us and escaping with File 17."
"Only because Napoleon moved on. If he'd stayed attached to her and kissed her often, she'd still be here."
"Hey," Napoleon protested. "You don't expect me to marry them, do you? Angelique and her spiders, Marcia with her poisonous fingernails, Rachel with her little gun hidden in her garter?"
"No, but your lips should be registered as a deadly weapon, Napoleon."
"Bring me the form and I'll fill it out," Napoleon said, and laughed, putting an arm around Felicia. Anna looked put out. Felicia smirked at her, and Napoleon suddenly found her less attractive. He looked around for a distraction and saw Illya.
"Save me," he called over, laughing. "Rescue me, partner mine, from the clutches of these female devils."
"Oh, no. You're on your own, Napoleon. I learned long ago not to get between you and your women."
"Has it ever failed you?" Felicia asked archly. "Your kisses, I mean."
"Well, of course. Sometimes they kiss me and lock the cell door anyway. Sometimes they kiss me and put poisonous spiders in my boutonnière."
"Sometimes they kiss him and shoot at him later on," Illya put in, and Napoleon gave him a ferocious mock scowl.
"Don't help me, Illya."
"But have they ever remained unaffected?" Sandra, who had dated both Napoleon and Illya on occasion, asked with what appeared to be genuine curiosity. "I mean, even if they reverted to type afterwards, at the moment of kissing were they ever left cold?"
"No," Napoleon answered promptly, and Illya groaned.
"What did I tell you about his ego? I have to work with him, remember."
"So they tremble, swoon, sigh, faint - what?"
"All of the above," Napoleon said smugly. "All of the above, and more."
Felicia persisted. "So if you kissed - let's say, Allison - " as if on cue the other women laughed. Allison was a very staid, very respectable file department clerk. She wasn't at the party because she considered all socializing at work a waste of time. There was an element of spite in the laughter, and Illya raised his eyebrows.
"I like Allison," he observed, and silence fell. "And since she's not here, let's leave her name out of the conversation, shall we?" It was all said amiably enough but Illya's eyes had changed just that little bit that said he wasn't joking, and could become angry very easily. Sandra colored, and some of the others looked guilty. But Felicia was not to be deterred.
"We're not saying anything bad about her. We're just wondering if she would tremble and swoon in Napoleon's arms like the rest of us mere mortals."
"Well, stop wondering," Napoleon said, and took his arm back from her shoulders. Her lips thinned.
"All right, let's stick to those present. What if you kissed ..." she looked around the room for a suitably unlikely candidate and her eyes fell on Illya, who was watching her with no warmth. "Illya here. Would he be immune to your famous skills?"
"Ooooh," said almost everyone simultaneously and, "Oh no she didn't," came from Anna. Napoleon snorted.
"Now you're just being ridiculous."
"So you admit defeat?"
"I don't kiss men," Napoleon said, and a flicker of something crossed Illya's face. It came and went so quickly that if Napoleon hadn't been looking right at him he would have missed it. But he had been looking, and it almost appeared as if he'd hurt Illya's feelings with that statement. "Except in the line of duty," Napoleon added rather awkwardly, and Illya lifted his eyebrows. He regarded Napoleon thoughtfully - if there had been hurt feelings they were hidden now - and in that gaze Napoleon saw himself kissing Donnelly - and not in the line of duty, definitely not - and a few others as well. He had thought those little peccadilloes well hidden, but Illya was definitely looking at him the way he did when he had caught Napoleon out in something. Napoleon felt his face heating up. Damn. How had this little conversation gotten so out of hand?
"Awkward," Darla sang. It certainly was. And Illya's expression nettled Napoleon suddenly. Who did Illya think he was, passing judgment on him, however silently?
"But if I did, he would," he added with a little spite of his own. Another "Ooooh" came from the women and Illya laughed at him - not very nicely.
"You feel pretty safe with that boast because you think I wouldn't take you up on it," he taunted Napoleon. "But I assure you I would remain completely unmoved by the world renowned Napoleon Solo's kisses."
"Oh, really?" Napoleon asked. "Want to put your money where your lips are?"
"Name the stakes." Illya's chin was up, his eyes were sparking dangerously and now, with the challenge issued and accepted, Napoleon saw no way to back down without losing face. And Illya, he supposed, felt the same way. He hedged.
"Well, I don't really mean ..."
"Uh huh. I thought not." Illya laughed at him again. "Because you know better."
"Loser buys the winner dinner," Napoleon said abruptly. "Winner's choice of restaurant."
"You're on." Illya slipped down from the table and Napoleon rose and came over to him. Their eyes locked. The room was absolutely silent.
And suddenly Napoleon was sorry. Very sorry. How could he have put Illya in this position? Illya, so fiercely private, so very proud. Illya was probably even now desperately trying to think of a way out. Well, Napoleon would provide it. He wasn't too proud to help a friend.
"Never mind," he said. "This is stupid. I have nothing to prove, and you certainly don't."
Illya looked amused. "Certainly, Napoleon. I accept your forfeit. The Blues Tavern at seven sharp."
Napoleon never forfeited a wager, and he detested the Blues Tavern, and furthermore he knew full well that Illya knew both of those things. And then Illya turned on his heel to walk away.
"Like hell I forfeit," Napoleon said shortly. He reached out, caught Illya by the arm and turned him back around. Then he put both arms around Illya, bent him over backwards, and kissed him.
He kissed Illya with every bit of skill he possessed and Illya, no doubt shocked into immobility, let him. Illya's mouth was cool, and sweet, and Napoleon fell. He tumbled headlong into that kiss, the solidity of Illya's body in his arms his only point of reference in a world gone suddenly, completely askew. Their surroundings faded and disappeared and if someone had snatched him up at that moment and demanded to know where he was he couldn't have answered. The only thing he knew was that he was with Illya, that he was holding Illya in his arms, that he was kissing Illya and ... and ... Illya was kissing him back. That cool mouth warmed under his, softened. Illya's arms were around his neck, and his hands were in Illya's hair, and all was right with the universe for the first time in Napoleon's life. All was well, all was well, all manner of things were well. He kissed Illya like a drowning man clinging to life and Illya was life, his life, his whole life.
A smattering of applause made him jerk upright and that brought Illya upright too. Napoleon's arms dropped and Illya stepped back, brought the back of his hand - his trembling hand - to his mouth. With the other hand he groped about him, found the table. Gripped it. With an audible gasp he caught his breath, looked around him and visibly wavered. What was he going to do now? What could he do? Even as Napoleon thought that, he rallied.
Placing one foot out in front of him, extending his arm, he made Napoleon an elaborate bow. "I yield to the master kisser," he said, laughing a little, face flushed, eyes brilliant. "Name your restaurant."
There was relieved laughter, and Napoleon was awash with admiration. Illya had carried it off, had brazened his way through it and now people were patting his back and looking at Napoleon with awe. Napoleon cleared his throat.
"Alieno's," he said, and Illya lost a little of that bravado. Alieno's was fabulously expensive - it was possible to drop a month's salary there in one evening. He recovered quickly, and made another bow.
"Very well," he said, and a sigh went up around them. "Alieno's. What time?"
"We'll leave right from here," Napoleon said. "And I'm buying."
Illya's eyes snapped. "Are you saying I'm a welsher now?" he demanded. "Do you think -" then he stopped. Napoleon had held out his hands, and they were shaking. If another murmur came from the gathered staff members he didn't hear it.
"It is I," he said deliberately, "who yields." And he made a bow - a very elegant bow - of his own, and extended his arm. "Shall we go?"
Illya came closer to him, stared at him very hard. Napoleon, who had nothing to hide, stared back. Then Illya smiled at him - his best slow smile, no longer shy, no longer small, spreading across his face like the dawn. He took Napoleon's proffered arm. "We shall," he agreed, and they left that way, arm in arm, together.
The silence behind them was absolute, and it held until the cafeteria doors closed behind them. What might have been said after those doors closed mattered not one bit to Napoleon, and when Illya made as if to pull his arm free Napoleon tightened his. Illya yielded again, going so far as to lean his head a little to the side so it brushed Napoleon's shoulder. In the elevator Napoleon kissed him again, deeply, and when they arrived on their floor and perforce had to stop kissing, both were shaking.
Some of the propaganda he had been fed about the West was true, Illya thought. He was standing on Napoleon's balcony, looking out over Central Park. Behind and around it Manhattan's towering architecture was etched against the sky as the evening darkened. A breeze ruffled his hair, brushed his skin like ... like a kiss. He extended his arms to welcome it.
He had never admitted it, but he envied Napoleon this penthouse. When he had first moved into his fourth floor walk up it had felt like a mansion, because it was all his own. No one could enter without his permission, and when he went to sleep at night, door closed and locked, alarms set, he was as safe as was possible considering everything. He had believed that was all he desired. A place for his books, a place to play his albums, a place to be alone. Physical comforts didn't interest him, and he had felt rather smug in his Spartan quarters, needing and wanting no more.
Then he had met Napoleon. At first the American seemed to exemplify all the worst traits of the capitalistic society in which he found himself. Wearing designer suits on duty, yet expecting UNCLE to compensate him when they were ruined in the course of said duty. Driving an expensive sports car and, worse, trading it in every year for the newest model. Dining at exclusive, expensive restaurants. Spending his holidays in St. Tropez, in Cannes, in Monaco. He had watched Solo with scorn mixed with an envy that made him angry with both of them. Every time he left Napoleon's building to return to his he couldn't help scorning his miniscule tin shower, comparing it with Napoleon's enormous version of the same thing, plus Napoleon had a whirlpool tub big enough for three. And it had been used for at least three, Illya knew, because Napoleon had tried to coax him into joining him in it with two beautiful models he had picked up somewhere. Illya had refused.
And Napoleon's building was so silent. Illya's apartment often rang with sounds from the other tenants - babies crying, men cursing, women shrieking abuse. Sirens, car horns, and raucous groups of people passing by all penetrated the thin walls. And it was cold in winter, hot in summer whereas Napoleon's maintained a perfect temperature at all times.
Illya's books stood in piles all around the walls, and so did his record albums, both having long ago overflowed the crates Illya had stacked to the ceiling to contain them. Napoleon could have installed enough bookcases to hold a veritable library if he had chosen to do so. So, when Illya went to Napoleon's; when he, as he sometimes did, spent the night on Napoleon's comfortable fold out sofa in front of the living room fireplace, he always went home and stood discontented, wrinkling his nose at the assortment of smells, wanting to cover his ears and hide from the cacophony around him, glaring at the shabby walls, the shabby floors, the stains on counters and appliances that no amount of scrubbing could remove. It pissed him off, and it would have been easy to despise Napoleon for his wealth, to mentally cast him as the archetypal fat cat he had so often been taught about and warned against.
But Napoleon wouldn't remain pigeonholed. For one thing he worked very hard, harder than anyone Illya had ever known. He certainly wasn't basking on the backs of an oppressed underclass. He may have grumbled when his expense accounts were returned to him covered with red ink, but he replaced the items himself cheerfully enough. It was a game, Illya came to see, and when occasionally Napoleon won and was reimbursed he was as likely to give the money away as to replace the ruined suit. He generously chipped in to every office collection, and moreover did it as anonymously as possible. He could appear as at home in a waterfront dive as in the elegant nightclubs he frequented. And the passion with which he served UNCLE, with which he defended the innocents that crossed their path, was unfeigned.
And Napoleon liked him. He made no secret of it, going out of his way to charm Illya, to sweep him up into a friendship that had developed so quickly that even he seemed surprised. But not put off, no, he drew Illya into an intimate partnership that burned so brightly that many people had always thought they were more than partners, more than friends. He defended Illya against the inevitable antipathy brought on by nothing more than his Soviet passport. And it was no mere show of protest. Anyone who gave Illya grief - for that reason or any other - soon regretted it deeply. Illya had been unable to resist it - or him.
And he had tried. He had ignored Napoleon, frozen Napoleon out, refused his invitations with a curtness that held no trace of friendship or even courtesy. But Napoleon hadn't been discouraged, had persisted, and Illya had found himself looking forward to his step in the hall, to his voice on the phone. And in the field they were so equally matched that it was as if they were one operative, able somehow to function in two places at once. Napoleon never left Illya in captivity if he could help it, and even when he couldn't help it, when the stern duty they served dictated otherwise, Napoleon always came back for him. Illya had learned to hold out, even when a quick death beckoned as an escape from inescapable torment, because eventually Napoleon would come, blowing open his cell door, kicking aside his guards, taking him out. Taking him home.
Illya of course did the same. He would never abandon Napoleon, would search for him for the rest of his life if need be. They were both expendable to UNCLE, but neither was expendable to the other, and it was such a rare thing in their world that Illya had never seen its equal. They trusted one another. They cared for one another. They ... they loved one another.
He heard the sliding glass door open and Napoleon came to his side, offering a flute of what Illya knew would be very expensive champagne. He accepted it, sipped it. He had had enough vodka at Alieno's - in a soft comfortable booth, smiling across the table at Napoleon, drinking vodka and eating steak that nearly made his eyes cross when he put it in his mouth. They hadn't spoken of the kiss in the cafeteria, but there was a dark fire in Napoleon's eyes as he looked Illya up and down, and a matching fire in Illya's heart - and lower down, too. He was so aroused that every lightest touch made him quiver, made his breath catch in his throat. It would have been humiliating if Napoleon weren't clearly in the same state. When Illya had accidentally brushed his arm when reaching for the vodka bottle Napoleon had jumped, spilled his brandy, and swore softly.
"Damn," he'd said, leaning back so the waiter could mop up the spill. "Damn." He had locked eyes with Illya and Illya had flushed, looked down. And when it was time to go, when they had had to squeeze together to let another party pass on its way to the front door, Illya had felt Napoleon's arousal and knew Napoleon felt his, too. It had just been a matter of getting back to Napoleon's place where they could have some privacy.
And now here they were. Illya had gone through the living room and right out onto the balcony, needing to cool his flaming cheeks, needing to settle himself somehow. So he rested his hands - his trembling hands - on the rail and tried to concentrate on the view, on the breeze, on these reminiscences. Napoleon had obligingly given him the time, Illya knew, because surely it hadn't taken Napoleon nearly twenty-five minutes to pour two glasses of champagne. But when he looked up into Napoleon's face, into those dark eyes, he saw clearly that Napoleon had been giving himself time, too. Because Napoleon looked - he looked uncertain, and that was so unusual a sight that Illya forgot himself and gazed at him in wonder.
"I'm sorry ..." Napoleon began, then broke off. Illya shook his head, opened his mouth to protest the apology, but Napoleon held up a hand. "Please let me finish. I'm sorry this happened the way it did, like a joke in a crowded room. I had no business involving you in something so ... so sordid."
"Is that how it seemed to you? Sordid?" He was hurt, and didn't care that it showed.
"No. Oh, no. But I thought that to you?"
"No. I mean, it was public, and everyone was laughing, but when it came down to it, it was just you and me. I'm sure they're talking about it, but ..."
"Oh, it's a nine days wonder," Napoleon agreed.
"All of the above, and more. But it was also the most amazing, wonderful kiss of my life, Illya. I hope you know that. I hope you know ...there was nothing disgraceful about it in my book."
"Mine either." He had to tilt his head up to keep looking into Napoleon's eyes because Napoleon had moved closer, and was even now taking the glass from his hand, setting it down on the little table with his own. And Napoleon was going to kiss him again, he could tell that much from the expression on his face. Well, good. He wanted to kiss Napoleon, in private this time, but had been worrying a little about how it would come about. Now he didn't have to worry. Now he could just close his eyes, and let it happen.
It did happen. Napoleon kissed him and Illya swayed against him, delighted and chagrined simultaneously at his own weakness. It would have been an intolerable sensation, being so open, so vulnerable, if Napoleon hadn't been shaking too, if Napoleon weren't leaning on him just as he was leaning against Napoleon. If this was weakness, Napoleon was equally weak. That thought brought a surge of protectiveness and he put his arms around Napoleon to hold him fast, to hold him up if need be and Napoleon's arms were around him too, supporting and protecting him in his turn. They clutched at one another and let the kiss end, and then Napoleon opened the door again and they went inside, into Napoleon's bedroom.
There was a pause while each undressed. Illya was shivering as he stripped, and his main thought was to get under the covers as quickly as possible but Napoleon, naked too, was staring at him. The stark appreciation and desire on his face kept Illya where he was because how lovely it was, to have Napoleon staring at him like that. And how beautiful Napoleon was, all lean, hard, tan muscle and skin with his cock jutting out in front of him, unmistakable evidence that right now Illya - he himself, Illya Kuryakin - was everything to be desired. Illya stood his ground and let Napoleon look and then he reached out, took Napoleon's straining organ in his hand. It jerked, for all the world as if it were shaking hands with him, and he had to laugh a little. "Well, I am pleased to make your acquaintance too," he told it and Napoleon reached out in his turn, gripped Illya intimately, and Illya's cock leapt as well.
They fell onto the bed then, awkwardness lost in laughter, nervousness drowned in pleasure. Illya knew Napoleon very well, after all those years in the field together and Napoleon knew him, too. Each knew what pleased the other from the faintest nuance of facial expression, from the slightest thrust or withdrawal. Both were skilled at giving pleasure - it had often saved their lives, after all - but no skills were used that night. They grappled together, cocks rubbing, chests pressed close, arms wrapped around one another, mouths moving on one another's mouth with bruising passion.
Illya came first. It had been a long time for him, and despite his desire to make this last as long as possible it very soon wasn't possible anymore, and he cried aloud into Napoleon's open mouth. The orgasm practically lifted him off the bed, making spots dance in his vision. He dimly thought that if there were a stroke or heart attack in his near future surely this would bring it on and then he didn't think anything at all, just clung to Napoleon and let it take him, shake him, drop him to lie panting and gasping in Napoleon's arms.
And Napoleon did all the right things, just as if he himself hadn't been left on the brink. He held Illya close, rubbed his back, stroked his hair, kissed his forehead with an exquisite tenderness. He made no further moves while Illya recovered and then Illya, who had been a little reluctant to display a skill that would surely make Napoleon question where he had acquired it, threw that reluctance to the winds. Napoleon's pleasure was all he thought of and oh, he knew how to give pleasure, he knew that very well. So he turned in the bed and took Napoleon's straining cock in his mouth, swallowed it whole in a way he knew would send Napoleon right over the edge and it did. Napoleon came with a great shout and he clutched at Illya's hair while Illya sucked and swallowed - expertly, he thought, and worried again about the repercussions but there were none. Napoleon, heart thudding so wildly that Illya could see it under his skin, could feel it in his fingers, drew Illya back up to his side, tucked Illya's head into the crook of his shoulder, and kissed Illya's forehead again. They fell asleep with an abruptness that left no time for worry or conversation or anything but one final move on each man's part to bring them closer together, and then there was darkness.
Napoleon woke first, and watched Illya sleep. He had watched Illya sleep many times before over the years, but this ... Illya seemed heartbreakingly beautiful to him just then, lying in his bed, lips slightly parted, a delicate flush on those high, elegant cheekbones. His lashes were a sweep of dark gold against his skin and his hair was a tumbled mass of sunshine around his face. Napoleon yearned over him, wanting to keep him like this, here, right here, in his bed. In his arms, in his home, in his life. In his life. How could he bear to sleep alone now, after this? Or, even worse, with somebody else? He shook his head in mute refutation of the thought, bent down, and kissed Illya's mouth.
Illya came awake to the feeling of Napoleon's lips on his, Napoleon's breath mingled with his. When he opened his eyes he saw Napoleon's, softer than he had ever seen them, warmer than he had ever thought possible. He looked up at Napoleon and ached for him, ached to hold him, keep him close, protect him from all the dangers of their world. How could he return to his solitary bed now, after this? He pressed closer to Napoleon in denial of that solitude, and kissed Napoleon back.
When the kiss ended Napoleon moved his lips to Illya's ear. "Illya," he breathed, just for the pleasure of saying it. Illya shivered.
"Napoleon," he whispered back and then, taking his courage in his hands, staking all on one throw of the dice, "I love you, Napoleon." Because if this wasn't love, this new thing between them, if it was just one more scandalous episode, best to know it now. If Napoleon didn't want it to be serious, let him say so. Let him ... but Napoleon wasn't saying anything. He was staring at Illya in ... in ..
"I love you too, Illya," he said, and it wasn't a whisper. It wasn't loud, but it was clear, and firm and ... and serious. "I love everything about you." Illya's stubbornness, he meant, and Illya's irritability. Illya's impatience, and Illya's unexpected skills in bed. In bed with a man. He didn't ask where Illya had learned to suck cock so very well, because someday Illya would tell him. And wherever it was, whenever it was, it was part of Illya and he loved Illya.
"And I love everything about you." Napoleon's vanity, and his bossiness, his shallow flirtatiousness and his need to control every situation. He didn't ask if Napoleon planned to stop that flirting, because if Napoleon planned to do so, Napoleon would tell him. And then Napoleon did.
"Only you," he said. "Only you, for me, forever. And only me. For you. Forever." And there was that bossiness, that desire for control, and Illya did love that so he twined himself about Napoleon, pulled on Napoleon's hips so they were rubbing up against one another again, just like last night; rolled over so he was on top because he liked to be in control too, sometimes, and together they loved one another so well, and so thoroughly, that when it was over they both fell asleep again, and they slept the morning away like that, tangled up in one another in the big bed, tangled up with one another forever. Tangled up in love.