The Back Door Affair

by Bluesky

It had started all so innocently with a leak in his ceiling and some repair and construction. He had been gone for a week and the damage to his apartment was more than he could deal with. A roof leak. One of the hazards of penthouse living. He sighed to himself as the workers removed the damaged plaster, getting dust over his immaculate apartment. He would need to hire a cleaning service. Wistfully he hoped the agency would send someone pretty, but it was the luck of the draw. The last had been a thorough battleaxe. Oh, she had been good, and the inside of his refrigerator had sparkled, but the hair on her upper lip had put him off his game.

He watched as the men worked and a large chunk of wall fell away. There was a noise of surprise as the workers backed away from the falling piece. The wall opening revealed a small room, almost a closet. Closer inspection revealed that it was actually a shaft for a dumbwaiter. It was dusty, black with dirt and age, and smelled of mildew from the leak.

"Looks like someone did the cheap and dirty and walled it off rather than fix the dumbwaiter and delivery stairs." The workman took a quick look around. "We can't finish this up today. Have to let this dry before we can put up new plaster. We'll hang a sheet of plastic over the opening to keep the dust out of the room." He shone his lamp down the stairway. "This goes all the way down to the basement, I reckon. I would be careful about it. Might not be safe after what could be as much as forty-some years of neglect."

Solo was momentarily taken aback. "Thank you. When will your crew be back?"

"Well, we could come back on Saturday, but it's going to be a bigger job than I thought. Might take a few days. Unless you want to pay weekend rates, we can be back on Monday and should be able to finish up by Wednesday if we wall it up again."

The older workman examined the dumbwaiter, looking at the wood and workings. "I remember these. My great-aunt used to have one. The service people used to send the groceries up. Didn't do to have the lower class mingling with the rich back then. My cousins and I used to play with it, give rides to the kittens." He smiled at the memory. "The service people would ring a bell, let you know that an order was on its way. See, here's the bell." A faint tinkling. "Oh, the good old days."

The workmen left. Solo tried to settle down to making his dinner, but he was intrigued. The lure of a newly discovered and unknown part of his apartment drew him. Disregarding the workman's warning of danger, he took his flashlight and set about investigating. If it went down into the basement, it might come in handy at some point. One never knew.

The stairs were a tight fit, narrow. It was lucky that he was not any taller. He proceeded cautiously, as some of the steps were missing or broken. Cracks in the walls let in light and sound. Along the landings were doors long since boarded up, delivery hatches. It occurred to him that the floor that he found himself on now was the one with Illya's apartment. He turned off his flashlight and sure enough, light spilled from one thin crack. The faint sound of a jazz recording wafted through the door. This had to be Illya's apartment. A moment of searching, and he found a crack that would allow him to peer into the room.

Ah. There he was: his partner just coming in, turning on lights, shedding his jacket, and turning up the music as he left the room. Solo moved down the short flight a bit and located another crack, giving a view of Illya's bedroom. His so restrained partner was taping his toes to the music, moving with it, displaying the grace that Solo knew came from some classical dance training. Solo suspected that Illya could have been in the professional ballet if circumstances had been different.

Illya began to disrobe; clothing was dumped onto a chair till he was wearing just his briefs. Stretching like a reptile that had just shed skin, his pale partner moved. Illya was a modest man and Solo didn't usually see this much flesh exposed. His skin was near flawless but for the few scars from knives, bullets, and beatings that had been inflicted during his career.

Illya shoved his feet into slippers and donned a silk lounging robe. Unconsciously he fingered the silk, settling it on his body, indulgent as a cat. Even Solo could hear his partner's belly rumble. The ever-hungry man. Illya turned and left for the kitchen. Without questioning his motives, Solo moved to follow him as best he could.

The delivery door to this apartment was barricaded and blocked. But he could see light coming from a narrow crack. This afforded him a view of his partner, as he began to concoct a late night snack. One-handed, he broke two eggs into a large bowl and whisked cream and spices into the mix. Ah. An omelet. With fascination, he watched as his partner worked at what he loved: cooking was nearly as good for him as eating. Illya hummed to the music in the background, and danced a bit as he assembled his repast, slicing ham, peppers, onions. Browning them as the egg mix began to cook, carefully timing and sauting the filling, checking till it was perfect, adding cheese, flipping the omelet over, each move skillful and practiced, not a move wasted. He put away the unused ingredients as the omelet finished, and by the time he had his plate out of the shelf, it was done.

He grabbed a bottle of something that Solo could not identify and went to the table in the next room to sit and eat. Free of scrutiny, Illya ate with relish, quickly finishing his meal. He did not dawdle, but washed his plate and cooking implements immediately. He settled himself down in a rather dingy but comfortable-looking chair, turned on a reading light, picked up a book that was in what appeared to be Russian, opened to a bookmark, and began to read.

Solo did not realize how long he had been observing his partner. It was not till his Illya closed his book with a sigh, stood and stretched, that Napoleon realized how stiff and cramped he was. Or how ridiculous this was, to be spying on a spy, his partner, friend. It was so different, though, to see him unguarded, so at ease with himself. He had thought that his partner was relaxed around him. Evidently he was wrong. Illya never was this carefree; he was always so...reserved.

Solo moved with gratitude to the crack that was the peephole into his partner's bedroom. He had to kneel to see, but had a good view of the room and, more importantly, of his partner. Watching as he slid off the robe and briefs, Solo was taken aback by how well endowed his partner was. He must have seen him naked at one time or another, but he never had the opportunity to just gaze at his partner, watch him moving, scratching his balls and...well, fondling himself.

Seems that was not the only itch he had to scratch. Solo watched in amazement as Illya took some tissues and made a neat square of them, then stroking himself to hardness, he lowered himself to the bed, centering the tissues neatly, cupping them around his hard cock. Quickly and efficiently, he began to rub on the bed, humping first his fist, then fucking the bed, his face tight, lips open, head turned to the side so that Solo had full view of Illya in his ecstasy.

He came silently, holding his breath at the last, releasing it moments after it was clear that he had shot his load into the folded tissues. Carefully he levered up, wiped all evidence of his ejaculation, tossed the used tissue away, put on his pajamas, turned out the light, and slid into bed. He was asleep in moments, a serene look on his face in the dim light from the hallway. Solo rocked back on his heels. What the hell had he just done? Peeping on his partner, watching the everyday business of his home life, that was bad enough. But to watch a man in his most private moments, finding sexual release, that was...well...

Kinky. And hot. Solo was far too attuned to himself to have any false guilt or remorse about his actions. This had not been his intent. He had done enough spying on strangers to know how to divorce himself from any actions, to just be the observer.

But not this time. The bulge in his pants belied that. He had been aroused by watching his partner's release, unexpected and revealing. The calm efficiency of the act, as efficient as brushing his teeth, as satisfying as the meal that Illya had cooked and eaten.

Self-sufficient. Solo shook his head as he climbed the steps back to his apartment, his original quest to find out if it did indeed end in the basement abandoned for the moment. The noises and sounds from the other apartments held no appeal for him. He found his way back, carefully moving the plastic, stripping off his now dusty clothes and putting them into the hamper, showering to rid himself of dust and cobwebs. As he soaped himself, he realized that he still had his erection. It was not going to go away by itself.

Time to take matters into his own hands.

He seldom needed to resort to this, as he had many women available to aid in satisfying his libido. But he was inspired. He had made love in tubs and showers before, but seldom felt the need to pleasure himself in such a situation. But...this time, the need was pressing. The calm methodical manner that Illya had dispersed with his need, giving his mattress a workout, grinding on the thick quilt, making a mockery of fucking. For a moment he wished that he could show his cool companion something different, something that would bring fire to his bed, change the near silent perfunctory act into something to be savored, enjoyed, and shared.

The sight of that perfect ass bobbing and thrusting kindled a need in him. The stroking and touching, brief though it was, showed that Illya had needs and passions like all men.

If Illya's fires ran a bit cooler, oh well. Napoleon envisioned using his mouth, hot wet heat on the sadly neglected prong. Lavishing care and love on him, on it, teaching the lonely man some sort of...

Solo exploded with an unexpected gasp, his semen pumping over his fist as he leaned against the wall, water cascading over him, washing away the evidence, his sweat, and yes...a trace of tears from his eyes. Sleep came much later and only after a nightcap, a double brandy.

The next day was like any other. Both of them off to work—Illya to his beloved lab, meetings for Solo—then later dragging Illya out to lunch to make sure that he ate.

Nothing much had changed. Solo had a date that night, but was restless, and much to the surprise of both him and his date, cut it short, handing her cab fare at the restaurant and pleading a headache.

Back at his apartment, he wandered in and out of rooms, not able to settle. A trip to the kitchen for milk—that might help. The plastic sheet still hung over the gaping opening. He had deliberately put it out of his mind, that and the things that he had seen in the boarded-up delivery stairway. He debated with himself for only a few seconds, then picked up his flashlight and made his way down the dusty steps.

His partner was asleep, the dim light from the hallway spilling over on to his sleeping countenance. Some people looked younger in their sleep. Illya was no exception. Illya breathed softly, still. Solo watched for longer than he wanted to admit to himself, and then made his way back to his apartment, strangely comforted.

The next day was much like the last. The only change that he made was that he cancelled his date, pleading a residual headache. He invited Illya to his apartment for dinner, offering to make his special pasta and sauce. Never one to refuse food, especially good food, the Russian readily accepted. The evening was calm and enjoyable as always, and they played a bit of chess, an ongoing competition that never had a resolution on a board that was always set up. It was a focal point with sometimes no more than two moves exchanged in an evening.

His partner left about at about 9p.m., thanking Solo for dinner, offering to next time bring a dessert, a gentle barb at the fact that Solo had not supplied one. It was a joke, his hidden sweet tooth. They both smiled at the wit.

With a reluctance that he did not show, he let his partner out the door, and headed to the kitchen to do the dishes.

The dishes were forgotten. If he was quick, he could be waiting, watching to see when his partner entered his apartment, prepared for bed, perhaps...

He grabbed his flashlight and proceeded down the steps.

He had just settled into the spot, watching. His partner was only a few minutes later coming in his front door. He disappeared from sight into the bathroom, sounds of water and flushing, teeth brushing, gargling.

He came out of the bath with a towel wrapped around his waist, and headed to his bedroom. Solo had scarcely moved into position to watch when Illya stripped off the towel and took his tissues to make his square. He did not stroke himself, his cock was hard, and it was the work of a moment to position himself over his makeshift lover, and begin to grind into the bed, thrusting much more enthusiastically than he had the time before.

In just a few thrusts, he found his completion, beads of sweat and moisture from his shower glistening on his back. He lay still, recovering, breathing slowing and steadily.

He got to his knees and picked up the towel, dried himself off, discarded the tissues, and slid naked into his bed, ignoring the pajamas. He was asleep in moments.

Solo watched his sleeping partner, a wave of sadness and arousal washing over him. When at last he made his way to his own solitary bed, he had no urge to quench his own desires, an empty mockery of lovemaking. This bed had seen many conquests, all of them women. It was serendipity that when he inherited the penthouse that he got the huge king-sized four-poster too. It had never seemed too big till tonight. So empty.

This was nonsense, he told himself firmly. He had to stop this. Illya's personal life was his own, as was Solo's. They had worked together for years, a satisfying and healthy partnership. Perhaps they were spending too much time together; perhaps it was time to get some distance, to start to date more. Perhaps he could set Illya up with someone. Heaven knew he was handsome enough. He had blue eyes to die for, blond hair that begged to be touched. Charming in a way, if one could get past his sullen wry humor. Napoleon mentally scanned his list of ladies, the on-and-off affairs that he had, looking for a woman that would perhaps be Illya's match companionship-wise.

And had no luck.

None of the beauties that had graced his bed of late could match Illya's personality, his intelligence, his humor. The closest he could think of was a Russian scientist who was unfortunately out of the country and, incidentally, a Thrush agent. One could forgive one but not both.

He shook his head. Even the thought of the Thrush woman's charms did not arouse him, or make him feel any strong desire to peruse any of the fairer sexes on his dance card. As charming as they were, as much fun to woo and bed, there was a certain wariness that he had to maintain, a distance that he had long overcome with his partner.

He sighed, and using his training that U.N.C.L.E. had taken such pains to instill in him, put the matter from his mind and willed himself to sleep.

Murky early morning, the sun not even shining through his window, he knew he could not go back to sleep. Without thinking it through, he made his way to the kitchen and the stairs. Unerringly he went to the peeping place that was Illya's bedroom. For long moments he watched, knowing that soon his partner would arise. A tingle of excitement, some reptilian part of his hindbrain charged his adrenals. He felt himself grow hard, harder, just looking at the sleeping man.

As he watched, blue eyes opened, and he swore that they were staring at him, recognizing that he was there, knowing and approving of his watchful attentions. Illya pulled back his coverlet, and yes, he was still nude, his erection arching and curved back towards his belly. With both hands, his partner cupped himself, fingers folded over his groin, rubbing the underside of his manhood, the ruddy cockhead slipping in and out of the V of his joined hands. Caressing himself, making small soft grunts of effort and pleasure, face screwed tight, his eyes closed, arching up with his hips, thrusting into his hands. Holding his breath, the last long shuddering thrust, and he came, shooting over his belly, a few pearl-hued drops splashing on his chest and hands.

Illya opened his eyes. "Napoleon," he gasped.

Napoleon woke with a gasp, clutching himself, the last tremors of his nocturnal emission still quaking through him, his semen soaking into the crotch of his pajama pants. A wet dream. So real. He had not had one in years.

It was early. So early. He debated the merit of just going back to sleep, but the uncomfortableness of his now sticky garment was a deterrent.

He would go for a run in the park. It had been awhile. And he needed to relieve this stress somehow, this pent-up feeling of need and restlessness. Something to take his mind off his partner.

It was just 5:30 as he was tying his running shoes, plenty of time to go for a run.

He went to the kitchen to get a glass of orange juice. The opening to the secret passageway beckoned to him. He had to stop this. It was unhealthy. The workers were coming today; this would be the last time that he would...that he could do this.

He had never watched his partner wake up from a natural sleep in his own bed.

This was unhealthy, he told himself again. This was not normal. This was addiction. But he had to do this, this one last time. Then he could—would—put it from his mind, put an end to this obsession with his partner. One last look.

He headed down the stairs, flashlight in hand.

Illya was curled on his side, face away from him. The cover had slipped down a bit, exposing one naked shoulder. The faint dark mark of a fading scar was evident, but in the dim light from the hall, he could not make it out clearly.

The alarm rang, startling Solo. He shifted slightly, and the step under him broke with a shattering splintering crack. The flashlight thudded into the wall as he tried to check himself, and the bulb failed, the fragile filament broken by the trauma.

Illya was up, gun in hand, searching the room with his eyes, looking for the source of the disturbance.

Napoleon froze, afraid of making a noise, stumbling in the now-dark.

Illya made a sweep of the room, then went into the next. Solo took this as his chance to make good his escape. He attempted to walk up the stairs, but without the flashlight, he could not see if the wooden steps were broken or unusable. More steps broke under him, not far from Illya's kitchen, and he fell against the space that had been the door to his kitchen. On the other side of the wall he heard metal cooking tools rattling and clinking on their hooks. Damn.

He did not attempt to look through the thin crack that let him see into Illya's kitchen; it was all that he could do to hold still in the uncomfortable position, leaning against the wall. He heard his partner shuffle and move things, looking for the cause of the disturbance.

Distantly he heard his partner muttering to himself as he moved from the room. He waited till Illya was gone to make his careful way up the steps on hands and feet this time, feeling for each step.

It was a slow progression, but he was near his floor when the pen communicator he had put in his pocket went off.

With long ease of practice in any situation he uncapped his pen. "Solo here."

"I need to talk to you. I'll be up in two minutes."

It was Illya. He must have been truly freaked. Cursing to himself, Solo hurried towards the dim light at the top of the steps.

Quicker than Solo could have anticipated there was a knock at the door. As best he could he dusted himself off and went to answer. His partner came in without an invitation, irritation pouring off of him.

"What's wrong?" Solo tried to sound casual.

Illya took a long look at his friend, took a deep breath, and made a visible effort to relax. "Nothing. I'm probably overreacting. I think that I must have rats in the wall. I'm just jumpy this morning."

"Would you like some breakfast?" Solo made a quick inventory; he had the makings for breakfast in his kitchen. But he could not let his partner see the kitchen.

"That would be most kind of you. As long as you do not make pancakes." Illya shuddered at the thought of the last time Napoleon had tried to make them.

"How about we have breakfast out? My treat. We have time, and I can skip my morning run."

Illya looked closely at his partner. After a moment, he nodded his agreement.

"Give me a moment to change and we can go." Illya was presentable, a turtleneck and pants took much less time to don than a button shirt and tie and suit. He would have to remember that in the future. Solo changed quickly, and rejoined his partner in the living room. He still looked pensive, withdrawn.

Solo felt a pang of guilt at being responsible for any anxiety on his partner's behalf. He resolved to stop his watching. It had to end. Even his under-exercised conscience was twanging. Breakfast would be a start. He resolved to buy the man the biggest omelet the restaurant could make.

"Let's go here, shall we?" Solo opened the door of the cafe, gesturing for Illya to enter.

"A bit high-priced for a breakfast not on a expense account," Illya dryly commented, looking at the menu.

"Don't worry. My treat." Solo had been here often with lady friends that he wanted to impress, usually for dinner, sometimes for an early breakfast. The place was worth the extra expense as one could get champagne and strawberries at any time.

"I'm going to the rest room. I left my place in a bit of a rush." Illya was anxious, perhaps due to the maitre d' glaring at him for not having a tie, or maybe he just felt out of place. Solo sighed to himself. Perhaps this had been a mistake.

The waiter came to the table to take their order. Solo mentally docked the man five percent for his rudeness in not waiting for Illya to come back, but ordered coffee and crepes for himself. He ordered an omelet for his friend, giving careful instructions as to the ingredients and method of preparation he had seen Illya use in preparing one for himself.

What's taking him so long? Solo was just about to head to the restroom to check on his partner when he arrived just as the order did. For a moment he just stared at the large fluffy omelet. He cut into it with a slight hesitation and sampled it.

"How is it?" Solo eyed his partner. "They have the best chefs, but if it's not to your liking we can send it back and you can get something else."

"It's fine. It's perfect."

The two continued their meal, Illya more introverted than usual, Solo attempting to draw him out.

"I think that we should call the landlord about the possibility of rats or mice in the walls, or set traps ourselves if that will make you feel better."

"You're correct. One never knows when something can slip in and invade your space."

At the tailor shop, they entered Headquarters and went their separate ways.

Solo attempted to roust Illya from the lab later that day.

"I am sorry. I am working on something that I cannot possibly leave. If you could bring me back a sandwich, that would be kind of you." Illya did not even look up from the microscope he was peering into, so caught up in whatever it was that he was researching.

Napoleon had his lunch and brought his partner back his usual. He was not in his lab, so he left it with his assistant. Disappointed and worried, he was unsure what was wrong or what his partner suspected.

The day was long, and filled with paperwork and research. A brief meeting with Waverly about expense accounts from his last case...God, the man must be bored to quibble about something like that. He was dismissed with a vague warning to keep better documentation. The meeting lasted just long enough for him to miss his partner leaving.

This was not a usual night for them to have dinner, and after Illya's standoffish behavior today, Solo was hesitant to call on him. The workmen had not come, and the opening glared at him, an accusation and a lure at the same time.

One last time.

He made his way to the spot that he often observed his partner from. He was just in time to see him pick up his coat and open his door and leave. Solo muttered to himself and without much further thought followed the steps down to see where they ended. To his surprise the bottom door led to the basement, hidden by a furnace. There was scarcely room for him to squeeze past, but it was clear that it had not been in use for a very long time.

There was a delivery entrance, long since out of use. He raced for the steps, estimating where they would be. Sure enough, he found a door that led to the back alley, one that was easy to open from the inside, self-locking. He quickly spied his partner, head down, walking in a determined way, a man on a mission.

Solo hung back for a few moments, then proceeded to tail him. His partner made no effort to hide his path. He had no clue that he was being followed. Intrigued, Solo drifted after him, watching.

He ducked suddenly as his partner made a turn into a doorway. This was a useful trick to see if someone was tailing you, and he paused, looking over the nondescript outer building. It gave no clue as to what sort of trade or service it delivered.

After five minutes, he gauged that his partner was not coming out, and that his only choice was to brave the door.

A man sat behind a marble counter, dingy and old. The building had once been grand, but newer fittings had been slapped over the old, the hints of what it had been now obscured.

He opted to brazen it out. "Pardon me, but I'm supposed to meet a friend here; I think I just missed him."

"We're all friends here." The man looked at him over his newspaper. "I expect that you can find him inside. Or if not, one just as good. Do you have a membership? One can't be too careful."

Solo shook his head sadly.

"Someone to vouch for you? Another member?"

"How much is a membership?" Solo made a motion at his wallet.

"Sorry. I can't even talk to you about it without someone to vouch for you." The man returned his attention to his paper. "This is an exclusive men's club."

Solo was not a man used to dismissal. He pondered for a moment, deciding that he could get more information elsewhere.

There was a diner across the street on the corner. Solo ordered coffee and purchased a newspaper. He utilized the reflection in the metal napkin holder to keep a more than casual eye on the door to the "Men's Club." There was something going on, just what he did not know. Illya didn't seem to be the type to join something as decadent as a men's club.

He was on his third cup of rather stale coffee when his partner emerged. Solo left a five to cover his coffee and tip, and hurried after him. To his surprise, Illya did not go back to his apartment. Instead he headed for the subway.

Perplexed, Solo followed. What his partner would be doing at this time of evening he had no clue. It was almost simple to follow him into the subway, get on a car behind him, and track him to his exit. The Village.

The lack of his partner's usual vigilance had lulled him into a false sense of security. He had been trailing far too close. He became aware of that when he had to duck behind a newsstand to avoid the sight of his partner looking back, checking for cars to cross the street.

Solo watched the blond-haired man disappear down steps into what looked like a bookstore. He waited and watched for twenty minutes, but his partner did not emerge. Finally, he continued down the block, aware that his attire did little to blend in with the local denizens. But he had to see what sort of place his partner was visiting. There were far too many riddles about the man he thought that he knew so well.

He walked down the block, crossed, and came back up on the side that the shop was on. He attempted to window shop, putting on the guise of a tourist, trying to be slow and relaxed. The window offered love beads, faded jeans, shoes made from tires, and tie-dyed tee shirts, records and posters, black lights and drug paraphernalia. What could his partner see in this part of town?

As he slowly strolled past the open doorway to the shop, the smell of good coffee and fresh baked bread rose up along with the rich strains of music, piano, guitar, banjo, some kind of drum. It was jazz. Ah, music live—that was the draw. He hazarded a long glance down the steps into the hazy smoky room. People were gathered around several men each with a music instrument. His partner was playing piano, his back to the crowd. This gave Solo a chance to get a better look at the others.

The man that had been playing bass handed his instrument to a second music man, and turned to the piano, settling himself down on the small narrow bench. He slid next to Illya, brushing his standoffish partner's shoulder with his own, reaching his hands around his, playing a second accompaniment to the tune that his partner was playing, making the piano function for both of them, making it sound as if there were two pianos being played. The two played like some people danced, weaving their hands around and around, touching, all but sitting in each other's laps, his oh-so-tight and controlled partner laughing at the antics.

The two clowned and attempted to outdo one another, trading on skill and the challenge to one-up the other. In the heat of things, the bench tipped over, spilling the two of them on the floor, one on top of the other, on top of some of their admirers, to a shower of laughter and finger snapping.

Solo thought that he had been discovered. For a second he was sure that the blue eyes were boring into his. But a person walking between them broke the moment, and he used that instant to make good his exit.

He flagged a cab and headed to his home. What was he thinking? This was his partner's private life. He had a right to it—if he chose to be...himself.

But there was a part of Illya that he did not know. Somehow this knowledge cut him like a knife. He felt coldness inside, an abandonment that he could not explain or resolve.

Home at last.

He made a resolve that prying into his partner's life had to end. He had his solitary meal, and went to bed feeling an unaccustomed guilt, and an uncomfortable sense of foreboding.

Waking. His arms were pulled tight, painfully tight, as well as his legs. The muzzy feeling that he suspected were the after-effects of a drug dulled his mind for a moment. The dry acid taste in the back of his mouth and the powder feel of his tongue made him wonder if he had been gassed. It would not be the first time that he had recovered from effects like this. But if Thrush had drugged him, why was he still in his own bed? He blinked, taking in the room and surroundings.

"Who are you? And why have you been watching me? Following me?" Illya sat on a chair next to the bed, holding a pistol that Solo recognized as his own.

"Illya, what... Why are you doing this?" Solo attempted to move. He was held fast by one of his own leather belts. He felt a stab of irritation. The Italian belt had cost over fifty dollars. The rest were equally costly leather. "You could have at least used the belts from Macys, had pity on my wardrobe."

"Prove to me that you are Napoleon Solo." Illya held the gun on him.

"You're not going to shoot. I know you that well. I'm your partner. You can check my dental records if you like. You can check my scars. Call Waverly, and let them check me over. I am Napoleon Solo."

"That is what I was afraid of." There was a touch of cold anger and despair in his voice. "Are you satisfied that you have my 'Dirty Little Secret'?" He took a deep breath. "I had my suspicions, my doubts. I had even hoped that you were some doppelganger, not my trusted partner. What did I do that gave me away? I have been quite circumspect. I have never let my private life or affairs interfere with work." The smile on his face was bitter and wry at the same time. "I should have known that one day someone would discover the truth about me. I just wish that it had not been you." He placed the gun on the floor, and stood up.

"What are you going to do?" Solo asked quietly.

"What have you left for me to do? I will resign. Quietly, with no fuss. There is no room in U.N.C.L.E. for someone like me."

"A jazz pianist? I hardly think that disqualifies you from being an agent." Solo spoke calmly, trying to ascertain what the true issue was. If anything, he was the one that should resign for the invasion of his partner's life.

"You know all too well what I am. You tailed me. You found my club. I was asked about a handsome, dark-haired man, and why I had not invited you to join."

"If you're a member of some cigar club, that is none of my affair."

"Your naivete is touching. How sad that I must educate you. There are many different types of clubs. This club is for a very select clientele."

"I see," Solo stated flatly, indicating that he still had no clue.

"I do not think that you do." Illya leaned over his spread-eagled partner. "Let me demonstrate." He lowered his face to Solo's and kissed him, lips scarcely open, warm, moist, and firm.

Solo's sensual nature took over. Almost involuntarily his mouth opened, and his tongue sought his partner's mouth, sucking on Illya's lips, reaching up as far as he could to make the best contact.

Illya pulled away in shock, his hand flying to his lips, reddening with the pressure of the kiss. Neither man spoke. The tight silence between them, the drama of the moment, unfolded one second at a time.

"Illya, please. Whatever you do, don't go. Whatever your life is, it's yours. I did the unthinkable. Can you forgive me?"

Illya muttered something in Russian. "Can you forgive me for ruining your favorite belt?"

"Only if you untie me."

"And where do we go from here?"

"As I said, untie me and we shall find out." Solo grinned provocatively. "You have made an offer to educate me; I accept."

"I am having problems believing you. With all of the women that you have gracing your bed, why suddenly do you want me?" Illya had a dangerous look in his eyes, an angry glitter that Solo had seldom seen, but when he had, usually ended up with a body count.

"I have loved you as a friend for a long time. I think I wanted you without knowing for almost as long. When the workmen uncovered the stairs, I did not plan to come and spy on you. It just happened. I watched you...make love to yourself."

"And?" Hard and cold. Illya was angry.

"All I could think of was that I could do a much better job."

"You have no end of conceit." The coldness was melting, tinged with a trace of amusement, but the anger was still there.

"And that I had never truly seen you. You were so different, so...relaxed. I watched you move, and saw for the first time how graceful you are."

"I see. Perhaps I shall give you your chance to make love to me. Let me see if a straight man can do better than I can do for myself."

"Untie me, and I will do my best to comply." Solo smiled his most engaging smile. "I have never had a complaint from any lover."

"You never keep any of them around long enough to complain. I have my pick of any of the men in my club. I do not even know most of their names. Casual sex is the norm. But I would not have a partner that I work with day to day..." He paused, turning to walk away. "This is a mistake. One that we would both regret."

"You've trusted me before. Trust me now. I want you. I think that you want me. Or at least I hope that you do. Let me show you."

Illya turned back to him, his eyes narrowed, weighing his partner's words.

"At the very least, you will have blackmail on me that you could use to be sure that I would never betray you," Solo said lightly.

"Ah, therein is the rub. 'Tis it noble to give in and let you have your way, proving that your perversions are true, and let you taint yourself in the sins of the flesh? I corrupt you and keep my secret safe? I think not." Illya dropped back to the chair, and his head fell to his chest in defeat. "The only noble thing that I can do is leave."

"If you're going to leave anyway, could you kiss me one more time? I make it a policy to never kiss and tell."

"You're attempting to seduce me." Illya looked up with surprise and amusement.

"And not doing very well, I take it. Must be getting old. I'm slipping. All I am asking for is a kiss. What happens after that is up to you."

"You would have me be another notch on your headboard? Or do you use the bedpost? Will you start a new one with me? I think not."

Solo dropped his head back to the bed. "No, I don't count. And no, you would not be just a conquest. Who has who tied up?" Solo tugged at the leather, gratified to feel one wrist near slack enough to pull through. Sloppy of Illya. He must have been in a rush or else he had not known how stretchy eel skin was.

"You use sex as a bargaining chip. I have seen you do it in our work, exchange dates and fancy meals for one or two-night stands, women that you see so infrequently that you need to keep a book to keep track of their names."

"Let me have one chance. If you're going to leave, it won't matter. If you stay, I will never turn you away, betray you or hurt you deliberately. I love you."

"You will have your one chance." Illya moved quickly, and was straddled over Napoleon before he could say anything more. His crotch rubbed on his partner's hardening erection as Illya leaned down to kiss him. Solo relaxed into the wet heat and clever tongue that divided his lips and invaded his mouth, bringing a deep low moan up from the depths of his soul.

And he had thought that he would do the seducing. That he would warm his cool partner.

He was mistaken.

Illya leaned back and surveyed his handiwork. A cool teasing smile, as he grasped the lapels of the silk pajama top and pulled. Buttons flew as he exposed the broad chest. Illya ran his fingers over the rippled expanse, stroking in circles, using his fingertips, tweaking the firm stubs of nipples, eliciting cries of arousal from his partner, causing him to arch and thrash.

Satisfied with his work, Illya moved down, trailing kisses down his partner's neck, nipping then licking, never stopping, hands occupied and errant, exploring the playground of Solo's body. It was short work, but in a few minutes Solo was gasping for breath and thrusting up, helpless under his partner's assault.

"Have you thought about this, miska? My hands on your body? Or did you think only of what you would, could do to me?" Illya launched a second assault on Solo's mouth.

He was surprised at the arms that surrounded him, held him fast.

"Clever. Now what?" Illya lay on top of Solo, his arms around him, his hands on either side of Napoleon's face. Both of them were killers. One move from either of them would spell the last for the other. This was the true moment of truth, of trust.

"Finish untying me and we continue."

Illya sagged for a moment in his partner's arms. "This is what you truly want?"

"If I have to answer that, then we're not doing something right. Please hurry." Solo punctuated his request with a kiss. The belts were removed from Solo's legs, and his first act was to pull his lover to him and wrap his legs around him, grinding his arousal against the tight cloth expanse of Illya's pants. Silk on cotton.

"I understand it is better if you're naked, for the most part." Illya smiled down at Solo.

"Thanks for the information. I would call that a hot tip." Solo pushed Illya to the side and stripped off his pajamas, briefly stroking his erection before turning to his partner's outfit.

Trust him to not have any buttons. The turtleneck was pulled over his head as he worked on the jeans, sliding the tight clinging garment down, all but peeling him out.

But it was worth the effort.

Naked, both of them were suddenly shy, for reasons that were unfathomable. Solo traced a hand over his partner's face, stroking his cheeks, trailing fingertips over the full red lips.

"This is for both of us. What happens here has nothing to do with U.N.C.L.E., with anyone but us." Solo tipped his head forward, and Illya met him halfway, their hands meeting, then their bodies. Unspoken agreement of positions, wrestling into a new familiar position, grappling for an equality, lying side by side, legs interlocked, rubbing on hard flesh, cocks slick with sweat and precome, sliding in the creases of interlocked thighs, bumping on the erect flesh, moaning into flesh, hair, the crook of a neck, an open willing mouth, the two men strove as one, exploring unfamiliar flesh, making it their own.

Solo, a man of many conquests in the bedroom, who prided himself on his stamina, his skill, his ability to woo a woman, was completely taken aback by the power and intensity of his partner as he lay helpless, his completion pulled from him with an intensity that left him weak and shaky.

Illya lay sated, drained, worn out. Moving was not an option. Leaving was not an option. Breathing was an art unto itself, one that had been forgotten along the way by both of them, suddenly relearned in the tangled aftermath of their lovemaking.

Lovemaking. Solo pried himself up, and looked at his partner. They both smiled weakly before slumping down into the puddle that had become them.

A long while later. "We're going to have to keep quiet about this. Do you think that we can?" Illya did not move as he said this.

"I think that we can keep this a covert operation. We can call it our very own Back Door Affair."

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