by Cord Smithee

© 2004

As far as I know, these characters belong to Norman Felton and some massive media empire. Any monies should be directed to those people, not me.


Once upon a time, there were two little boys who never grew up.

They weren't like Peter Pan, off in some Neverland. They lived in our world, and their profession was such that a bad day at work meant terrible consequences for humanity at large. So it wasn't that they didn't take responsibility for their actions, or for the well-being of others.

It was just that they didn't do it with any particular seriousness. And the worse things became, the more the world breathed down their neck, the more likely the two boys were to greet the world with a glib word and a bit of back-chat.

But for those moments when the backchat didn't help, they carried guns. And when the guns didn't help--

--they had each other.


Illya Kuryakin's hands were bleeding, but he refused to give up. Although he was having a particularly bad day, and it wasn't just the fate of world hanging in the balance this time, but the fate of his own particular world, not that that was something he could admit, even to himself.

Because Napoleon Solo was behind the steel door Illya was trying to lever open with the broken crowbar that was gouging his hands. The only thing that gave him hope was that it was an interior door, and it was latched with a simple lock and not a deadbolt. There was no plate over the lock, and he was reasonably certain that if he could just get enough leverage he could get it open.

He leaned hard, ignoring the blood slicking his palms, and thought at first that the pry bar had broken again, the lock gave way so suddenly. The door sprang open, striking Illya across the shin and scraping the top of his bare foot, and he hopped back, eyes tearing, and hung on to the pry bar in desperation. It was the only weapon he had, and it would make a lot of noise if he dropped it on the tiled floor.

Of course, the door opening had made a lot of noise, too, but he hurried inside anyway, pulled the door shut to hide the destroyed lock from casual observers, and stopped short.

The room was warm and smelled of salt, and the floor was slightly damp under his bare soles. The thing that confronted him looked like an immense aquarium. Water slopped inside, surface waves caused by the ineffectual struggles of the man suspended in the middle, a breathing mask concealing his face, his limbs bound wide apart with padded waterproof restraints, electrodes dripping wires on his chest and a tangle of plumbing trailing from his groin and the blood pressure cuff on his left arm. He wasn't fighting hard--more a slow, rhythmic rocking against the restraints--but he was still fighting, and that was something.

Teeth gritted, Illya wondered coldly just how long Napoleon had been in the sensory deprivation tank, and how much mental damage had been done. And then he hefted his broken crowbar, and set to work.

Later, the nightmare task of dragging a limp, nearly unresponsive Napoleon out of the satrapy would be summed up by two lines in his report: "Agents exited the premises with all caution and stealth. Disabled one enemy operative; were not observed."

Napoleon had a tendency to start whining under his breath like a kicked dog whenever he was alert enough to try to tug free of Illya's grip. He wasn't strong enough to tug hard, however, and looked faintly ridiculous in the unconscious security guard's jumpsuit. Illya had the man's pistol shoved into the waistband of his trousers. Fortunately, barefoot and shirtless wasn't a strange state of affairs on the outskirts of Cartagena.

Illya feigned drunkenness to match Napoleon's semi-consciousness, got them through the streets in an ordeal of stumbling barefoot through cobblestones and filth, and finally found a tumbledown cow byre, well-stocked with straw, to conceal his partner in. Where Napoleon promptly curled up on his side, wrapped his face in his arms, and knotted himself into the fetal position, shaking, rocking slightly, the way he'd been rocking against his restraints in the tank.

Illya wasn't a psychologist, but he could figure the plan out from there, especially given the electrical burns on Napoleon's skin. Brilliant, really, if you had the sort of mind that went in for torture. Hurt a man to provoke him into the withdrawal they were all trained to use under torture, the isolation of mind from body. Drug him to lower his inhibitions, regress him to the womb and bring him back out ready to be moulded into a different sort of man entirely.

Except Illya didn't want a different sort of man. He wanted Napoleon. Sharp, shallow, deceptively pleasant Napoleon Solo, with all his tomcat arrogance and concealed depths intact. He wanted the man who'd been his partner for barely six months, and whom he'd already come to consider his closest living friend, for all Napoleon could be facile and changeable, almost impossible to understand. He'd lose him soon enough, one way or another. For now, he meant to fight for every moment he could get.

He couldn't very well haul a semiconscious Napoleon through Thrush-infested streets--Thrush practically ran the government in Spain, and the closest UNCLE headquarters was in Madrid. They'd be captured for sure. Their communicators had gone the way of their shoes, their weapons, and Napoleon's clothes. He'd have to try to find a public phone in the morning, which left him stranded with Napoleon and three dairy cows until sunrise.

The cows--one white and black, two reddish-brown--watched patiently as he heaped loose straw over Napoleon and then burrowed under it himself. The straw caught their body warmth quickly, and would conceal them. He had to get Napoleon back from wherever he'd gone to escape the Thrush torturers, and he had to get him back as himself, and not whomever they had been trying to turn him into.

Illya curled against his partner's warm smooth back, and considered his options. He could hurt Napoleon--he didn't want to, necessarily, but he could hurt him, try to shock him out of his withdrawal. Except, if it was pain that had sent him deep in the first place, pain didn't seem likely to prove the key to restoring Napoleon's psyche.

Well, that left one obvious, bloody-minded solution. And a particularly Napoleonic one, if he did say so himself, although it might have repercussions Illya wasn't sure he was willing to handle. Still, with any luck, Napoleon wouldn't remember.

Stealthily, straw rustling against his back, pricking his hair, itching through his trousers, Illya curled an arm around his unresponsive partner's torso, found the zipper on the overlarge Thrush jumpsuit, and eased it down. He felt Napoleon's breathing quicken, felt him curl tighter, and pressed closer, lips against Napoleon's hair, and whispered no, my friend, hush. it's I. trust me. come back to me.

The words weren't important. What was important was the sound, the tone of Illya's voice. Wherever he was, however far away, Napoleon heard him, and relaxed a little, uncoiling enough for Illya to finish unzipping the jumpsuit to crotch level. Napoleon groaned and pressed his fists to his face, but didn't resist.

What happened next merited only a single line in the report: "After obtaining shelter in a livestock facility, Agent Kuryakin administered first aid to Agent Solo."

The skin of Napoleon's chest was smooth under Illya's hand, his flesh warm, hot where the electrodes had burned. He felt Napoleon's nipples crinkle when he brushed his thumb across them, felt Napoleon shift. hush, my friend. relax. trust me.

Napoleon jerked, an electric flick of his muscles, almost a seizure. The back of his head thumped solidly against Illya's forehead; Illya saw stars, bit down a yelp. Ow.

How long was he in that tank?
Illya didn't know, didn't even know how long he himself had been captive. All he knew was that he wasn't losing Napoleon without a fight. He'd lost others--everyone, really. Sooner or later. He expected he'd lose Napoleon too.

But not without a fight. trust me, Napoleon—

Slowly, Napoleon relaxed again, breathing slowing, his body uncurling into Illya's embrace. Not quite pressing against him, but not drawing away, either. Illya let his palm stroke slowly over Napoleon's belly, felt Napoleon shift, heard his breath catch as Illya's hand brushed tight curled hair.

Napoleon was already half-hard, growing harder, the head of his cock brushing the back of Illya's hand. Illya captured and cupped it, exploring the weight and texture, feeling the length grow hard and hot against his palm. Napoleon moaned this time, soft and honest. Illya's heart was a painful lump in his throat as he slowly, thoughtfully closed his hand. Whatever it took.

come back to me,
he said, and he wasn't sure what else--whatever came into his head, really, as his hand moved in practiced rhythm, a rough caress, and Napoleon pressed against him in earnest now. His own arousal, a growing distraction at first, and then raw discomfort, surprised him. He hadn't expected the rising scent of Napoleon's heat, the raggedness of his breathing, the flex of his hips to be...

He hadn't expected the surge of primal triumph he felt when Napoleon stiffened against him, either, or the pleasure he took in feeling Napoleon's cock pulse in his hand, in hearing Napoleon groan through clenched teeth. It was good. It made him want to do it again, made him want to roll Napoleon onto his back and kiss those gritted teeth apart, taste his skin and saliva.

Instead, he pressed his bruised forehead against the nape of Napoleon's neck, wiped his hand on the straw and shoved the soiled stuff away, and rezipped Napoleon's jumpsuit. "Napoleon? Can you hear me?"

"Hmmm?" Napoleon mumbled, muzzily. No words, but he didn't curl up in panic this time when Illya resettled himself against Napoleon. Instead he sighed, and relaxed into Illya's warmth, seemingly oblivious to Illya's neglected erection nestled against his ass. "Illya?"

"Sleep," Illya said, pressing his nose into Napoleon's still-damp hair. The relief he felt at the sound of his own name was so enormous that it got out of him on a long sigh. "We'll figure out how to get home in the morning."

And they did.

Illya's report was concise and to the point. Napoleon's, of necessity, was even briefer, and failed to mention anything that had occurred between being drugged and manhandled into the sensory deprivation tank and waking up in the cow byre the following morning. He seemed entirely unaffected--flirting with Wanda, fencing with Mr. Waverly, enduring Illya's comments about the lack of sartorial elegance he had presented when clad in a baby-blue jumpsuit and a liberal sprinkling of straw.

Drugs and emotional stress. He doesn't remember a thing,
Illya thought. Just as well.

Waverly dismissed them and they walked down the corridor shoulder to shoulder, as they always did. As they entered the elevator, Illya comforted himself with the fantasy of a very long, very hot, very Western and very decadent shower. He was lost in those pleasant thoughts when the lurch of the elevator stopping and the sudden blare and flash of alarms and lights startled him back to the present. He looked over, reaching for his gun, to see Napoleon leaning on the elevator stop button.


"Hush," Napoleon said, and grabbed his wrist to pull his hand away from his gun. Just as Illya had the sudden, panicked thought that whatever programming Thrush had been attempting had taken, Napoleon trapped his other hand, pressed him against the wall, pinned him, and kissed him soundly, meltingly on the mouth, with expertise. And with tongue.

There was absolutely no way to mistake it for anything but passion, and Illya, shocked by the sudden heat of his partner's body, found himself returning that passion, though lights flashed around them and klaxons wailed. Napoleon took his time, made it thorough and hot and wet, and then stepped back with a grin, releasing Illya's wrists to smooth his own hair. He slapped the resume button while Illya was still panting, trying to straighten his expression from shock and desire into something businesslike.

As the door scrolled open on a corridor-full of armed men and women, Napoleon glanced over at his partner and grinned.

"Mr. Solo?" Cartwright, in section three.

"I, ah, tripped," Napoleon said smoothly, stepping forward, Illya at his right hand, exactly where he should be. "False alarm."

Illya swallowed, and shrugged apologetically at Cartwright. "You know what a clumsy ox he is."

Cartwright laughed, holstering his gun. "Sure, as much of an ox as you are. It's all right, Solo. We needed the drill—"

Napoleon's second sidelong glance to Illya, as the corridor began to empty, was longer. Lingering, almost. Illya felt himself flush, and looked right back. "Yes?"

"That was fun," Napoleon said, leading on towards the cafeteria. "Let's do it again some time."

"Yes," Illya said, hustling to catch up. "Let's."


A week and a half later, in New Orleans, Napoleon Solo lay in the half-dark, his lips and his fingers tingling in anticipation, and listened to the sounds his partner made rummaging in his shaving kit. Idly, Napoleon considered their mission--straightforward enough, to infiltrate a riverboat casino that might be a Mafia money-laundering operation, determine if, in fact, it was, and collect evidence that could be used to put a stop to any illegal activity.

In the meantime, he watched the shadows on the tile and wondered if Illya was in there shaving, thinking about that one brief kiss in a stopped elevator, contemplating the fact that this would be the first time they had been alone together in ten busy days. And he wondered whether Illya would come out of the bathroom in his prim baby-blue pajamas and slide under the covers of the crisply-made bed across the narrow aisle, or--

--the water shut off. The bathroom light flicked off. A pale shape moved through the dark hotel room, paused between the beds. "Napoleon?"

"I'm awake," Napoleon said, and lifted the covers in silent invitation, prepared to let them fall again if Illya turned away. He didn't really remember Cartagena, truth be told--remembered a blur of warmth and fear, of desperate ideation, anything to hold the nothingness at bay--and then cold and pain and fear, and then Illya's voice, Illya's familiar scent, a lancing pleasure and the sensation of awakening, blurry and hungover, to Illya's cock pressed between his buttocks, Illya's heart thundering inside the cage of his ribs.

It was worth the risk, he figured, to find out what had really happened. And if it could be made to happen again.

Illya hesitated, long enough that Napoleon started to worry, just a little, although he'd never let it show. And then he slid between the cool cotton sheets, graceful, his weight indenting the bed and canting it so Napoleon leaned towards him. Napoleon's arm was raised, still, and Illya rolled under it, skin warm on skin as Napoleon embraced him, drew him close in the darkness.

He was trembling. Not much, just a little, heartbeat rapidfire under his skin, all ribs and muscle and bone, hotter than he had any right to be, damp from the shower. And naked, Napoleon realized with a delighted shock; as naked as Napoleon himself.

"I've never—" he said, and Napoleon hushed him with a quick, close-mouthed kiss.

"I have," Napoleon said. "It's all right. I'll show you. Do you want to?"

And Illya nodded, pale hair and skin almost invisible against the pillow in the darkness, white on white. "I think so, yes," he said, and Napoleon pulled him close, wrapped him tight, delighted in Illya's startled gasp as he pressed against him, moulding their bodies together, Illya's cock trapped between their bellies and Napoleon's sliding between Illya's hot, silken thighs.

"Good," he said, against Illya's neck. "Kiss me."

The kiss in the elevator had been a mere token, a taste, a suggestion. Now, Napoleon waited, breath shallow, to see what Illya would do. And Illya didn't disappoint him--Illya would never disappoint him. Illya threaded one hand through Napoleon's hair, fingers cradling his skull, and leaned forward, pressing closer, his left leg coming up to wrap Napoleon's hip. Eyes open, shining in the darkness, Illya leaned forward and kissed him, open-mouthed, letting his tongue flick across Napoleon's teeth one by one.

Napoleon groaned into his mouth, tasted toothpaste, felt smooth skin on his cheek and realized Illya had shaved as well as showered, had come to bed clean and scrubbed, ready for whatever might happen. A concession to Napoleon's American sensibilities, no doubt, and the thoughtfulness behind it made Napoleon smile.

"What?" Illya asked, without breaking the kiss, or closing his eyes.

"Turn on the light," Napoleon said, and Illya, unhesitating, obeyed, pulling back enough to snake an arm out of the warm huddle of blankets and tap on the reading lamp. He turned back to Napoleon, propped on one elbow, his hair an endearing mess and his eyes sparkling with mischief. "Your vanity knows no bounds," he said.

"Mmm," Napoleon answered. "It's you I want to see—" and ran one hand up the outside of Illya's thigh, from knee to hip. Illya purred like a cat, still shivering, but maybe a little less, although he sucked in a startled breath when Napoleon let his fingertips trail over the slight curve of his belly. He pulled Illya close again, let the undersides of their cocks rub together, was delighted to feel how hard his partner was, already. No question of Illya humouring him, then, and that was good--the warm papery rasp of hair and skin, the moistness of sweat, the way Illya's eyes hooded at the touch, a moment before Napoleon leaned forward and kissed him again. Their tongues danced, duelled, and then Illya opened his mouth and let Napoleon claim it, let him taste and drink his fill.

The light was a little forty-watt bulb, dim and yellow. It didn't spark the rich highlights from Illya's hair that sunlight did, but it gave Napoleon enough light to work by as he took Illya by the shoulders and coaxed him out of their warm nest so that they knelt face to face, their knees interlaced like fingers, kissing and pressing together, bodies sweating, striving. Illya's muscular shoulders slid and bunched under his fingers, his belly soft as glove-leather where they pressed together. Illya let his head fall back, baring his neck; Napoleon raked it with his teeth, drawing a groan and a shiver.

He could have pushed Illya back on the bed and brought him to climax with his hands, his mouth. Could have rubbed against him until they both found release. Could have been truly daring, and seen exactly how much Illya would give him, this first time, tested the limits--

More fun to try something a little unusual, though. Something that would demonstrate to Illya without any ambiguity that this was new, unharrowed ground. And truthfully, Napoleon wasn't above startling his partner a little. Making an impression. Reminding him who was older and more experienced, by however narrow a margin....

Not that he'd ever admit it, of course.

He reached down between them, without breaking the kiss or Illya's grip on his head, his biceps, rose up just a little so that Illya leaned back, kneeling, trusting his weight to Napoleon's left arm as Napoleon closed his right hand, hard, tight, around the root of Illya's cock. Illya whimpered, eyes closed now, a tiny, forbidden sound, and Napoleon struggled for control at the sweetness of that gift. He stroked the length of Illya' cock, savouring silken skin, the glide of the foreskin, the heat and hardness. Fitted his own cock between thumb and forefinger, slid into the warm tunnel of his fist until he felt himself press hard against the taut, resilient head of Illya's penis, which was slippery with pre-come. And then, as he moved his hand just slightly, the stretch and slick warm slide of Illya's foreskin sheathing the head of Napoleon's cock. Illya's hips flexed, helplessly, and the sound he made this time wasn't a gift, but pulled from him, offered up into Napoleon's mouth like a prayer. And Napoleon returned it, gave it back shamelessly as Illya's hands tightened on him, dragging him close, their hips rocking in counterpoint as they slid and pressed together.

Illya's breath came on dry little sobs, the wet tip of his cock thrusting, sliding rhythmically against Napoleon's in the hot grip of Napoleon's fist. Napoleon balanced them both as Illya leaned back against the support of his arm, swaying, surrendered into the pleasure, the touch, letting Napoleon set the timing and the destination--

Not so simple, a trick of balance and co-ordination, and his own strength and Illya's strained by it, but that was pleasure too, the athletic feat, Napoleon's awareness of the beauty of the body pressed against him, the gorgeousness of the sweaty, slippery arch of his partner's muscled form. Oh, yes.

Much better with the lights on.

He thrust again, faster, feeling Illya reply, meet him, meet the rhythm of his cock and mouth and hands, no longer following, but partnering, in every sense of the word. The pleasure was sharp, concentrated to a pinprick, pressure and heat and wet and the tight grip of his fist, the warmth of being inside Illya, even if just in this limited way, and the way Illya was almost writhing, shoving, the tip of his cock slick and flexible as a tongue and far more insistent. He sucked Illya's tongue into his mouth, opened to it, nursed on it as if it completed a cycle, him inside his partner and his partner inside him, and then Illya--contracted--all at once, eyes squinched shut and head back and his rock-solid cock shuddering in Napoleon's hand, muscles flexed and locked a moment before the warm pulse of his semen filled Napoleon's fist, bathed the head of Napoleon's cock. Both Illya's hands clenched hard, demanding, on Napoleon's head now as Illya fucked Napoleon's mouth with his tongue, and he thrust once more, hard, and then again, and suddenly Napoleon felt his balls tighten, felt a cool-hot shiver take hold deep inside his abdomen and he was coming too, hard, come dripping between his fingers in hot pearly strings, gasping against Illya's open mouth as Illya steadied and supported him, in turn.

They fell against the bed, pressed close, Illya on the bottom, and Napoleon hadn't quite found the wherewithal to lift his face from the salt-smelling crux of Illya's throat and shoulder when Illya groaned softly and thrashed until he managed to straighten an awkwardly folded leg.

"I think you should sleep on the wet spot," he murmured, without raising his voice or opening his eyes.

"I think we should sleep in the other bed," Napoleon countered, and Illya laughed silently underneath him, chuckles shaking his chest. "As soon as I remember how my arms work."

"No hurry," Illya answered, and buried his face against Napoleon's shoulder, as if to hide from the bedside light.


Illya wakened in the cold hour before dawn, and found himself wrapped in warmth. Napoleon's head was pillowed on his shoulder, numbing his arm, and his nose was full of the scent of Napoleon's hair and skin. At first he blinked, trying to remember what city they were in, amused at the penury of UNCLE housing arrangements. He remembered New Orleans first, and the mission, and then, warmth and chill at once, he remembered other things, as well. Napoleon. Napoleon's mouth, his hands. His cock--

In the darkness, Illya swallowed. He closed his eyes, and brought his hand up to cup Napoleon's head, cradle his skull. Napoleon breathed in his sleep, turned closer against Illya's collarbone, and sighed warmly, once. What have I gotten myself into this time?

Whatever it takes, he reminded himself. And there in the dark, he couldn't bring himself to regret it. But he didn't sleep, just lay cuddled against his partner listening to Napoleon breathe until the sky turned grey, and then lifted the covers and slipped from under Napoleon's arm. Napoleon awoke, of course, and wandered into the bathroom while Illya was leaned over the sink, combing dark brown dye through his hair before he showered. "Who are you this time?" Napoleon asked, exactly as if it were any morning, and he wasn't standing there stark naked in the doorway with his erection pointing at Illya like an accusing finger.

"I'm a horn player," Illya said. He tossed his rubber gloves in the sink and washed the comb out. The dye smelled harsh, acrid. He held up a damp hand to the mirror, and waved to Napoleon in the reflection. "Irwin Lachoff at your service."


"Blame the poor man's mother. He's a real person, who was kind enough to release his seasonal employment to his friendly neighbourhood UNCLE agent. He's been reimbursed, of course. And you are Steve Lawless, tritely named professional gambler. Some of us read the briefing material."

"Of course," Napoleon said, and came a step or two closer. Illya shivered when Napoleon touched his bare shoulders, remembering the heat of the night before as if through a kind of delirium. Illya hadn't expected--

Hadn't expected more than two ships passing in the night. Hadn't expected the tender press of Napoleon's lips between his shoulder blades as Napoleon came up against him, carefully avoiding his hair. "When do you have to report to the riverboat, Irwin?"

"Not until after lunch," Illya said. He closed both hands on the edge of the sink, watching the thin trickle of water splash in the basin and swirl down the drain, drips of dye ribboning away into it. Napoleon's cock nudged between his thighs; Napoleon must have bent his knees slightly, ducked down as Illya braced himself. He rocked back and forth, his silky penis brushing Illya's anus, his perineum, sliding between his thighs.

A one-night stand was one thing. It was resolution of what he'd started in Spain. The sort of thing that could happen between friends, and the friends could remain friends.

This was a bigger risk. His heart beat faster with it, with the rush of excitement and adrenaline. If he's not taken from me, Illya thought, I'll be taken from him. It had to end, sooner or later--this partnership, this friendship. This relationship that had somehow become the center of his life.

A coward dies a thousand times
, he reminded himself, and leaned on the thrill of the adrenaline to say his partner's name without letting his voice crack. "Napoleon."

"Should I stop?" His square, elegant hands stroked down Illya's back, pausing on his hips, slid down to cup Illya's cock and balls. Illya rocked against the grip experimentally, feeling Napoleon moving between his thighs. No, he didn't want him to stop. Which was frightening, when he lifted his eyes to the mirror and saw Napoleon's shining over his shoulder, because it led him to start wondering how much Napoleon might expect, and how much he, Illya, might be willing to give.

"Don't stop," he said, and dropped his head so he wouldn't have to look himself in the eyes. "No, wait. I have to wash the dye out, or I'll give myself chemical burns."

"Bend over the tub," Napoleon said. "I'll wash it out for you."

Doubtful, Illya obeyed, and Napoleon behaved himself, washing Illya's hair as chastely as a brother, and--once the water ran clear--handing him a towel. The act of chastity didn't last, though; Illya stood, scrubbing at his hair with the towel, and realized that Napoleon was still kneeling only after he tossed it into the corner, picked up the comb, and started smoothing the tangles out of his newly medium-brown locks in the mirror over the sink.

He ignored it steadfastly, though, until Napoleon's touch spidered up his inner thighs again. He didn't drop the comb, but its teeth bit into his fingers as his grip tightened, and he swore under his breath. "Shall I stop?" Napoleon asked, with all pretence of mildness, and Illya shook his head. "No," he said, not quite believing his own voice. "Don't stop."

Napoleon purred, kneeling behind him, tracing the indentations below Illya's hip bones, the line of the hip bones themselves, the musculature of his thighs and groin. He paused with both long hands cupped on Illya's ass.

"May I keep going?" Napoleon said, and Illya whimpered, hands clenching on the edge of the sink. He raised his head and forced himself to look into his own eyes.

Illya swallowed. "Please." Not really knowing what to expect, but longing for it, aching for it, whatever it was. He wanted to thrust forward, a blind seeking after heat and warmth, remembering the firm grip of Napoleon's hand the night before, longing for it again. But there was nothing there to press himself against except chilly porcelain, and Napoleon's warmth, his breath, his touch--

"Bend forward a little," Napoleon said, and Illya obeyed, unthinking. Or thinking too much, perhaps, because he was shaking with expectation and desire and a hot-cold spark he was honest enough to admit was fear, adrenaline.

Which was fine. He lived for adrenaline, the rush and burn of it through his veins, the cold clench in his chest and the trembling in his hands that told him he was still alive. And when Napoleon palmed the cheeks of his ass apart and nuzzled between them, his heart clenched all right, and his hands shook so they rattled the basin against the plumbing when he held on, hard, to the edge of the sink. He groaned between his teeth, a sound like a man under torture or an animal in a trap, and heard Napoleon chuckle in delight.

"Good boy," Napoleon said, and Illya hissed as warm, patient breath tickled his ass and thighs. "You just keep making noises like that, and I'll know you're happy." And then he purred something Illya didn't quite hear, and he pressed closed, pressed his face to Illya's skin, steadied Illya with strong hands as he braced himself on the sink, and pierced him with his tongue.

And Illya, shamelessly, like an animal in heat, threw back his head and moaned, and knew he would give Napoleon anything--anything--he asked for. He couldn't believe the things Napoleon was doing to him, couldn't believe how good it felt. He understood, abruptly, why all the pretty women flocked to his partner, even knowing what Illya knew--that nobody could hold Napoleon for long. It was as if Napoleon had a sort of sixth sense, as if he knew exactly where to kiss and where to touch, how and for how long.

Make no mistake, Illya Nikolaivech, you have a tiger by the tail this time.
He snorted laughter, because a certain girl in England had taught him enough dirty Shakespearean slang that he understood his own inadvertent double entendre. Napoleon paused, snaking one hand down to cup Illya's balls, weighing them in his palm, rolling them gently between his fingers. "Am I amusing you?"

Illya? widened his stance a little, settled his weight better, leaned into the gentle tug of Napoleon's hand, stroking the shaft of his penis now. He knew what Napoleon was doing, and knew from Napoleon's ragged breathing how much it turned him on to do it, to take control, to have Illya arched up on his toe-tips, straining, thighs shivering in tension and need. And he could let Napoleon do it, if it meant that much to him. Could let him have it, because it cost Illya nothing in the long run. Hold on if you're going to hold on. No dignity, no reserve. Hold on tight.

Well, almost. "No more so than usual," Illya managed, and rocked back on his heels. Napoleon chuckled, and licked down the crease of Illya's buttocks, bringing him up on his toes again. His tongue was wet and wicked, hot and invasive, and Illya pushed back into the touch, surrendering to it. His face was flushed, he saw in the mirror, mouth hanging open, dark hair hanging in his eyes. He watched himself, half-curious and half-embarrassed, as Napoleon released his other hip and slid tickling fingers under the curve of his buttock, right hand still languidly caressing Illya's cock. He yelped when he felt Napoleon's fingers, wet with saliva, replace his tongue, and leaned hard on the sink, his hips rocking, not quite sure if he was trying to escape the penetration or press back into it.

The sound he made wasn't protest, though, but rather a sort of hopeless little whine. It burned, what Napoleon was doing. He felt his body resist the touch, tightening and then, when Napoleon coaxed with more flickering, sucking kisses, slowly uncoiling, relaxing, letting Napoleon penetrate him. "Fuck," Illya said, who never swore--not in any of his thirteen languages. It helped, somehow, so he said it again--in Russian, this time, and then in Cantonese. "Fuck, fuck, fuck--"

"Christ, that's hot," Napoleon murmured. "I love hearing your voice break like that. I love feeling you shake like that, and knowing I'm doing it to you—"

"My voice isn't breaking," Illya argued, but then Napoleon's fingers edged another half-inch deeper, and curled, and pressed, and his voice was breaking, and he was trembling so hard that only his grip on the sink kept him upright, because his knees turned to water and he sagged forward, hard. "Fuck..."

"Of course not," Napoleon said, laughing. And then the son of a bitch did it again, and moved his right hand rhythmically on Illya's cock, and Illya gasped, speechless, shuddering, unable to get more than half a breath. "I'm sorry—" stroke. "—please continue." stroke. "You were telling me something?"

Illya closed his eyes, panting, rocked up on his toes, imagining what it would be like, not doubting that Napoleon's cock would be next, and suddenly eager for it, wanting it, wanting to be fucked, shivering as Napoleon rose off his knees behind him and pressed close, pressed tight, cock hard between Illya's thighs as his fingers moved powerfully, definitely, unhesitatingly inside.

"Look at me," Napoleon said, and Illya looked, in the mirror, and Napoleon's face pressed against his, cheek to cheek, hair tousled together, Napoleon's expression as flushed and raw as his own. "Someday," he said, while Illya was still gasping, white-knuckled on the edge of the sink, "someday I'm going to fuck you like this, in front of a mirror, so we both can watch, so you can see your face when I do it."

"Someday? " Illya asked, fuzzily aware that that was wrong, that the hard cock nudging between his thighs should be sliding inside him, replacing Napoleon's fingers.

"Because today," Napoleon said, hot breath on his ear, "you're going to do it to me."


Napoleon felt that, felt Illya's half-unwilling surrender invert itself, like electric shock, slide back into uncertain hesitance, and he smiled. He felt Illya tense, felt his hips thrust, involuntarily, and heard the breath catch in his throat, and knew he had him off-balance again.

It couldn't last, of course. But he couldn't resist it while he had it, Illya reacting, scrambling for purchase, at least temporarily under Napoleon's control. And if that itself weren't half a fantasy come true, there was the way Illya reacted to being touched, all his mocking reserve converted to passion and surrender--

Oh, yes. Napoleon could get used to this. He pressed his hips against his hand, pushing his fingers deeper into his partner's body, felt him moan. "Will you fuck me, Illya?" He said it in Illya's ear, and felt Illya respond, his body clenching around Napoleon's fingers, his breath rattling between his teeth. "Fuck me long, and slow, and hard?"

"Yes," Illya whispered, lifting his chin to catch Napoleon's eyes over his shoulder as Napoleon ran his mouth from Illya's clavicle up to his ear, tasting salt and soft flesh, leaving a trail of wetness behind. "Anything you want."

"I want you inside me," Napoleon said, feeling Illya's dick jump in his hand. Illya straightened his arms, pushed them away from the sink, tugged himself free of Napoleon's grip, and turned to face him. They stood face to face for a moment, Illya still trapped between the sink and Napoleon, and Illya stared at him, quite directly.

"This someday of yours," he said quietly. "Is that an immediate someday, or a someday someday?"

Napoleon swallowed, abruptly a little uneasy himself. It was a fair question; Illya didn't ask the other kind. But he hadn't been ready for it yet. "I thought we'd cross that bridge if we got to it."

"You're standing on it," Illya said, blue eyes transparent. "I need to know how to think about this."

Napoleon nodded, feeling his mastery of the situation slipping away. It was an act of courage to speak—"Both?" he said hopefully, and was rewarded by Illya's sunny smile.

"All right," Illya said, and kissed him savagely on the mouth. Napoleon kissed back, pushing Illya against the sink, moaned between his teeth as Illya's hand roughly wrapped Napoleon's cock. He stroked it hard, once, twice, his other fingers knotted in Napoleon's hair. One eyebrow rose as he cocked his head to the side, and asked, "Now?"

Napoleon nodded, dry-mouthed, a little awed by the speed of his partner's recovery. And then Illya blushed and looked down, and said, "You'll have to show me what to do," and Napoleon grinned at him. He wrapped his arms around Illya's shoulders, pressed between his knees as Illya leaned against the sink, and ground their hips together with a sweet, aching friction.

"You'll want to get the Vaseline out of my shaving kit," Napoleon said, stepping away reluctantly as Illya blinked wide, hazed eyes at him. And then he smiled as he watched those eyes clear, the implications of his statement coming plain. Illya swallowed and nodded, ducked under his arm, and picked the kit up off the counter. The zipper was open, the rectangular container of petroleum jelly right on top, just as Napoleon had left it.

Napoleon turned his back deliberately on the proceedings, propping himself against the sink in the same position in which he'd trapped Illya, watching in the mirror as Illya loosened the cap on the Vaseline. Napoleon didn't miss Illya's expression when he glanced up and saw Napoleon standing there, bent over, braced, his legs spread shoulder-width apart. Even reflected in the mirror, Illya looked seasick with mingled desire and concern. There was no doubting his courage, though, especially when he came to Napoleon and set the Vaseline down on the counter before he pressed himself against Napoleon's back, arms around his waist, resting his chin on Napoleon's shoulder. "Sure about this?" he asked.

"Committed," Napoleon replied, and Illya snorted laughter and trailed his fingers down Napoleon's spine.

"You should be." And then, unexpectedly, he stepped back ten centimetres, not letting his hand drop, and said "Turn around."

"What's the magic word?" Napoleon asked, and watched Illya's eyebrow rise in the mirror.

"Now," Illya said. He took Napoleon's shoulders and turned him bodily, and then leaned in and kissed him on the mouth. "Don't think I don't know what's getting you hot about this, Napoleon. I'm smart enough to figure that out. You like getting the better of me. You like making me lose control."

Napoleon couldn't deny it, not into his partner's earnest eyes. "It's not just that," he started, but Illya cut him off.

"It's better than seducing a woman, for you, isn't it? They're expected to surrender, do whatever you want. But if you can get me to do it, you've really won a round. Proved something."

Napoleon nodded.

"Spread your legs," Illya said, and Napoleon felt a shock of fear--and desire—at the simple command. He did, leaned back against the sink, his turn to clutch at the cold porcelain. And to catch his lips between his teeth, as Illya unceremoniously dropped to one knee in front of him and rubbed a bristled cheek against his thigh.

Napoleon's cock bobbed centimetres from Illya's lips, and Illya leaned forward, smiling, and planted a soft kiss on the tip as Napoleon caught his breath and moaned. "You said you hadn't—" Napoleon began, accusing, and Illya laughed and said, "I haven't." And then he reached out, grabbed each of Napoleon's hands by the wrist, and placed them both on his own head. His hair felt strange, coarsened by the dye, dry and stiff. Not like Illya's hair at all, and when Napoleon looked down, all he saw was an anonymous dark head and pale shoulders. Only the broad hands covering his own were familiar, and the glitter of bright eyes behind the uncanny bangs.

"You want control," Illya whispered, his breath tickling the tip of Napoleon's cock, "then take it." And, still holding Napoleon's hands in place on his hair, he leaned forward, very slowly, and took Napoleon's cock into his mouth.

The motion was arrogant and assured, as if he'd done it a thousand times before. But then he paused, motionless, just the tip of his tongue delivering the most delicate catlike flicks to the underside of Napoleon's cock. Torture, plain and simple, and from the way Illya was grinning around Napoleon's cock, his eyes tilted upward to watch Napoleon's face, he knew it very well. A dirty little game, this, a reversal of everything Napoleon had played--giving him the control he had demanded, and making him admit his need to get it.

Fine. Two could play at that game.

Napoleon knotted his hands in Illya's hair, hard, hard enough to get a moan of protest out of him, and began to rock his hips, far more violently than he ever would have dared with a woman, or even with a man whose strength he didn't know as intimately as he knew his partner's. And Illya took it, grunting a little with each thrust, shielding his teeth with his lips when they would have scraped Napoleon's flesh. Illya let him do it, unlacing his fingers from Napoleon's. Rather than reaching out to catch or control his hips, though, he dug into the uncapped Vaseline, and then snaked them between Napoleon's wide-spread legs. Then he did catch Napoleon's hip in his left hand, pin him against the sink for a moment, and press one broad fingertip firmly against Napoleon's opening.

Napoleon was a little more experienced than his partner. He relaxed, moving gently, and let Illya slide a single thick finger into his ass. Illya leaned forward, pinning him between the invading finger and the heat of his mouth, and Napoleon rocked back and forth between the pleasures, moaning out loud now. Then Illya added a second finger, and Napoleon's hands tightened on his skull, rubbing over coarse hair, immobilizing his partner while he fucked his mouth, fucked himself on his hand. Illya did a fair job for a novice, too, strong suction and an articulate tongue, even if he didn't quite know how to crook his fingers yet as Napoleon moved against him hard.

Not for too long, though. Illya must have seen, must have noticed how close he was, by the tautness of his balls and the way his thighs trembled in frustrated need, because, abruptly, Illya disengaged himself, shook Napoleon's hands off, and stood. "Now," Illya said, licking his lips, and Napoleon grinned back at him, all the games forgotten. "Up on the counter."

A good idea, given the way the sink had been rattling against the wall just from Illya leaning on it. Napoleon hitched himself unto the edge of the counter and leaned his shoulders against the mirror, drawing his heels up onto the counter as Illya dug in the Vaseline again and coated his cock. He stepped between Napoleon's thighs and lined himself up, carefully, attentively, and then stopped, the slick tip of his cock brushing the entrance to Napoleon's body.

"Now," Napoleon said, reaching down to clutch at Illya's buttocks, and Illya laughed and slid into him, eyes wide open, holding tight to Napoleon's knees, pushing his legs up and out. He heard Illya sigh, heard himself hiss, and felt Illya's buttocks flex hard as he buried himself as deep in Napoleon's body as he could go, pressing, pumping, twisting.

He might not have had much luck with his fingers, but his cock was just perfect--once Napoleon released his hold on Illya's butt and stuffed both fists under his ass to get the angle right. Illya fucked him slowly, luxuriously, every thrust sending bright sparks of pleasure through him. "Touch me," he demanded, the ache in his cock too much to bear, and Illya met his eyes from under that alien hair and laughed.

"How unimaginative," the Russian said, and canted his hips back, pulling Napoleon closer, so his buttocks hung off the edge of the counter. Napoleon groaned as Illya half-crouched, getting his weight under Napoleon, almost lifting him off the counter with each thrust. And then, just as Napoleon was getting the rhythm, Illya pressed his knees wider and higher, arching his back, lifting his hips, and then ducked his own head down, impossibly flexible, and took the head of Napoleon's cock into his mouth.

Napoleon watched, unbelieving, and then as the warm wetness enclosed him, he lifted his hips, feeling Illya moving inexorably inside him, an aching stretch. He wriggled, twisting, his hands knotting in Illya's hair again as Illya slid his hands up Napoleon's thighs and held his hips, steadying him. "Fuck," Napoleon said, as if it was his turn to swear now. Illya laughed deep in his throat, his tongue flickering in and out of the eye of Napoleon's cock as Napoleon pulled his hair, moved helplessly between Illya's cock and Illya's mouth. "Jesus."

Illya hadn't stopped thrusting, either, although the cramped position limited his range. And god, Napoleon was close, so close it hurt, so close his fingers twined in Illya's hair were cramping, and Illya sucked hard--harder--just as Napoleon took one-more slit-eyed look at Illya's curled position and got a sudden, wild idea about where a man who said he'd never been with another man might learn how to suck cock like that.

The image was too much. Napoleon's hips flexed, and all his need was suddenly spilling out of him and into Illya's mouth, an endless stream of heat as he gasped his partner's name.

Illya swallowed it all, without choking, and kissed the tip of Napoleon's penis before he let it go, and then stretched, luxuriously, incidentally pressing himself harder, deeper into Napoleon's shivering body. He kissed Napoleon on the mouth while Napoleon was still panting, undone, and let Napoleon taste himself on the kiss. And then he stepped back, sliding free, and arched an eyebrow at Napoleon's answering complaint. "I've decided I liked your suggestion about the sink after all," he said, and pulled Napoleon to his feet.


Napoleon went willingly, seemingly shaky-kneed as he braced himself and waited. When Illya came up behind him and took hold of his hips, he shivered, and then Illya slipped into him as deeply, as easily, as if he were taking a girl. Napoleon was open to him, relaxed, eyes hooded when Illya watched his face in the mirror. He went up on his toes with every thrust, rocking with it, absorbing it, letting Illya set a slow, hard pace.

Which was what Napoleon had asked for, and it seemed to be what he wanted, judging by the low, heartfelt groans he gave as Illya leaned over him, laced his fingers through Napoleon's, pinned his hands to the edge of the sink, licked the sweat from his shoulders and moved against him like the tide--slow, relentless, and completely ruthless. And Napoleon took it, moved with it, writhed around it, came to meet him and panted his name, over and over again. Illya moved harder, faster, working at it, giving himself up to his partner's need, trapped on a sharp edge of desire until Napoleon clutched his hands and gasped, "Come for me, Illya—"

And that simply, that suddenly, he did. Hard, abruptly, his hands tightening on Napoleon's so Napoleon's bones creaked, Napoleon shouting as he felt it happen. Illya grabbed two rattling, clutching breaths, and let his forehead fall against Napoleon's back, and they leaned together, panting, slippery with sweat.

Napoleon pushed back first, straightening up, and Illya stepped away before he could be shaken off. Napoleon turned, wincing slightly. Their eyes met, and Illya swallowed, sure he should say something--and then Napoleon stretched up on tiptoe, kissed Illya between the eyes, and walked right past him to climb into the claw-footed tub that doubled as a shower. "Dibs," he said, and pulled the curtain closed, leaving Illya staring after him.

Illya got his shower after Napoleon finished, but when he came out, towelling his skin pink, Napoleon was still meticulously laying out clothes on the roughly remade bed, smoothing the nap on an embroidered cranberry velvet weskit with a lint brush, and sorting through handkerchiefs to find the colour that best complimented the suit. He whistled as he checked the polish on a pair of oxblood cowboy boots, and he barely acknowledged Illya as Illya walked past him to rummage in their suitcases, looking for his own clothes.

Illya ran a comb through his newly brown hair--the semi-permanent dye would wash out in a couple of weeks--and dressed efficiently in severe black and white. He traded his usual loafers for a scuffed pair of wingtips, made sure of his shabbiest jacket--shiny at the elbows and too tight across the shoulders--and slicked his hair back with a handful of grease, darkening it further. Dark makeup smudged under his eyes and in the hollow of his cheeks subtly narrowed his face and made him look slightly ill. Small changes, but if he altered his gait and his stance, they'd do.

"All set, Irwin?" Napoleon asked. Illya turned to survey his partner, and smiled.

Every inch the riverboat gambler, and his suit cut to subtly display the bulge of his gun under his armpit, where Illya's concealed his completely. "You look lovely, Mr. Lawless," Illya said, and crouched to pick up his horn. "I'll see you tonight."

"The Bayou Princess," Napoleon confirmed, checking his watch, all his shields up and his masks in place and perfect, like mirrors reflecting nothing of the man within. "Eight o'clock."

"Be there or be square." Illya grinned and snapped his fingers as he headed for the door. "Daddy-o."

And Napoleon called after him, quietly, just before the door latched shut, "Remember what I said about the mirror." Illya stopped, his back to the door, his right hand on the handle, his heart pounding in his ears all over again, and took a long, slow breath.

That man was going to be the death of him yet.


After Illya left, Napoleon took his time getting the remainder of his armour in order: parting his hair razor-sharp before he slicked it back, straightening his bolo tie, and smoothing the lie of his vest. He made sure his Special was loaded, straightened his shoulders, and spared a moment of silent, grateful prayer for Kuryakin's unquestioning acceptance of his own postcoital silence, and--if he admitted it to himself--somewhat shameful flight. But then, Illya never questioned anything, did he? He accepted, took Napoleon at face value, didn't ask any questions, mocked good-naturedly, and moved on.

It made the job possible.

It might make the sex possible, too.

Napoleon paused at the bottom of the walkway--it seemed wrong to call anything with gilded railings a gangplank--of the Bayou Princess, settled his wolf mask more firmly over his features, and checked the hang of his tie with practiced fingers. He walked up the red carpet, showed his forged invitation to the security guard, and accepted a strand of Mardi Gras beads from a pretty girl whose black panther costume was obviously not warm enough for the evening's chill.

An advantage of the mask was the ability to ogle a little more discreetly, he decided, stealing one more glance before he entered the floating casino. A jazz ensemble was in full swing across from the cashier's cage. One of the horn players looked rather familiar, and though Napoleon's mask covered all of his face except his mouth and chin, and most of his hair, he still felt the brush of his partner's attention momentarily, as Illya noted his entrance.

Napoleon made his way to the poker pit and identified himself. His name--Steve Lawless's name, anyway--was on the guest list. The girl holding the clipboard was pretty too, if a little warmer, apparently, than the one by the door. She gave him a name tag and told him to come back in an hour, unless he wanted to take a seat at the table to wait.

The Mardi Gras poker tournament was only an excuse to get onto the riverboat, and besides, he wasn't quite recovered enough from the morning for the prospect of a long period sitting on a hard chair to be all that enticing. Instead, Napoleon leered cheerfully at the girl through his wolf's head, and went to find the buffet.

The riverboat was crowded with costumed strangers, and Napoleon was far from the only one carrying a not-very-well-concealed weapon. He picked his way around two Marie Antoinettes (one in pink, one in blue, both waving elaborate fans and clutching domino masks) and a Napoleon or two, which made him smile. The rooster's long tail kept dragging in people's drinks, but a boyar in a fur Cossack hat was his favourite. And not, he told himself firmly, for personal reasons.

Christ, he couldn't remember when he'd ever been fucked like that--the thought sent a flush of warmth through him, and he hastily re-routed his thoughts to Sister Mary Theresa, who had been eighty-five if she was a day, deadly sharp with a ruler, and always delicately redolent of peach brandy. A wolf with a hard-on puptenting the front of his trousers was a little too literal in terms of costumery, even by Napoleon's standards.

Definitely best not to think about sex, or Illya, now.

No, what he needed to think about was getting off the casino deck of the riverboat, and into the upper decks. And security, he noticed, was heavy. Not only was the clientele exclusive, by invitation only, but there were guards by every pillar and in every corner, and more patrolling the floor. They were all unobtrusive men in dark suits, not at all what Napoleon thought of as Mafia types, and looking at them left a chill in his gut that he couldn't quite identify.

The Cosa Nostra is quite bad enough, Mr. Solo
, he admonished himself. Don't go borrowing trouble.

With that thought firmly in mind, he set about exploring his temporary domain. Illya--Irwin--was pretty much stuck onstage for the duration, but that was the plan. He was the backup, this mission, and Napoleon was the point man. If he was honest, he preferred this position; he hated waiting behind. Illya wouldn't be the first to comment on Napoleon's preference for being in control at all times. Which, if he were being honest, he'd admit had been even more pronounced of late.

Which had nothing to do with having been tied up in a sensory deprivation tank for three days.

He checked his watch. He still had 45 minutes before Steve Lawless had to be in his chair for the poker tournament, and frankly, he wanted to be done by then. Napoleon was lucky at cards--lucky at everything--and he was a decent poker player, but he also knew when he was out of his depth.

A quick perusal of the outside deck told him it went nowhere, although if he could chin himself up to the second level, there might be some possibilities. Still, that was more Illya's department--and Illya, along with the band, was deep in a swinging version of "Doctor Jazz," and so indisposed.

Napoleon stepped back into the casino and glanced towards the main entrance. The girl--the chilly panther--was still standing there, her arms wreathed in Mardi Gras beads like the ones tangled around his neck. As he watched, she stepped up on tiptoe, whispered something in the bouncer's ear, and he nodded. With a gesture, he summoned another hostess--this one dressed as a belly dancer. The first girl handed off the ropes of beads, and stepped into the casino, rubbing her arms to chase off gooseflesh. If Napoleon hadn't been concealing a shoulder holster, he would have offered her his jacket. As it was, he simply squared his shoulders and followed her through the casino at a safe distance.

She paused before a discreet door in the corner behind the sweeping stair that led into the ballroom. There was a push-button combination lock next to the door. Rapidly, she keyed a number--Napoleon memorized the movements of her hand--and let herself in.

, he thought, and counted sixty seconds before he followed her through the door. A stairwell greeted him; he headed up, and found another locked door, which opened to the same code. Clumsy, that.

The corridor behind it was brilliantly lit white tile and brushed stainless steel, a striking contrast to the red-draped casino. Napoleon glanced about, speculatively, and revised his opinion of his previous hunch. Not the Mafia. No, this had the look of a typical mad scientist's lair, if there could be said to be any such thing.

The corridor split, right and left. Cat-footed, concerned behind the amused expression on his mask, Napoleon slipped up to the corner, where he paused to listen. No sound of traffic greeted him; he peered around the corner and saw no one. Corridors took him past laboratories full of caged white rats and sleeping monkeys. He followed the scent of cool night air and the river past them and saw that the hallway he'd chosen ended in a room laid out as an office, open to the deck outside, a wind ruffling heavy velvet drapes. There was a desk, mahogany with a green leather blotter, and an oriental carpet that looked, to Napoleon's educated eye, like the genuine article.

It was the filing cabinet that interested him most--that, and the question of where the girl had gone. Left when he went right, no doubt.

His picklocks were in his inside pocket. He slipped them out, finished with the locks by the time the strains of New Orleans jazz floating up from the casino ended, and quickly surveyed the folders within. Whoever these men were, they had excellent secretaries. And the neatly typed labels each bore an insignia of a stylized black bird.

The code numbers on those labels, however, meant nothing to Napoleon, and neither did the tidy notes in a tight, Germanic hand inside each folder. Still, he wasn't a spy for nothing. A quick riffle, and he pulled out the thickest and most dog-eared folder. Laying the pages out side by side, he managed to photograph about half of them before he ran out of film in his micro-camera. He shuffled the papers back together, squared them, returned the file to its appropriate place, and made sure the cabinet locked when he shut the drawer.

Still no music from downstairs. It must be a set break--he checked his watch--and just enough time to get back downstairs, hand the camera off to Illya if he could, and wash out of the poker game as fast as possible.

Simple plan. If only the world would ever co-operate.

He heard the footsteps in the corridor and stepped behind the drapes, edging out onto the deck when it became plain that the individual in question was about to enter the office he'd just ransacked. He checked the railing--sturdy enough--and examined the drop to the deck below.


The dark hair disconcerted him for a moment, but it was Illya down there, gesturing with one hand from partial concealment in the shadow of a paddlewheel. Napoleon slung a leg over the railing, hurrying, hung full-length, swung his feet like a gymnast, and dropped to the lower deck with a thud. Illya caught and steadied him; the wolf mask limited his vision.

He used the moment's contact to slip the micro-camera into Illya's blazer pocket, but Illya wasn't stepping back. Instead, he slid his hands up Napoleon's chest, got them under the Mardi Gras beads, and stripped them off over his head. A practiced toss, and they were back up on the deck that Napoleon had just dropped from.

Napoleon looked at his partner through the darkness and the eyeholes of the mask, and Illya moved suddenly, pressing against him, deft fingers unbuttoning his trousers and slipping through the fly. Napoleon gasped in surprise and caught his partner's arm and shoulder, but Illya just leaned close, close as if he was nuzzling Napoleon's neck, and murmured in his ear. "Tracking device in the beads, I think. As soon as you slipped out, three of the bad guys started touching their ears suspiciously, and two of them vanished. I followed the other one out here—"

"Where is he?" Napoleon didn't have to fake his gasp.

"At the bottom of the delta," Illya answered. "He saw you." His callus-roughened fingertips caught on the silk of Napoleon's boxers, and then his hand, cool with the night air, was inside, wrapped tight around Napoleon's cock. Napoleon tugged his wrist half-heartedly, not at all sure he liked the way this was going. "Look busy. Here they come—"

It wasn't difficult. Bizarre, intentionally arranging to get caught in flagrante with his partner, Illya pressing him hard against the railing in the shadows, breathing hot and heavy against his neck. Strangely exciting, to have Illya take charge so efficiently, as if he'd never even considered that Napoleon would deny him. Strange to do this with the adrenaline thundering through his veins, fear and desire twinned as he began to pant, already, and strain against Illya's hand. And strange to be able to let it happen, to surrender to the touch, as if the mask changed things somehow, or as if the threat of discovery did.

He hated it. And he kept telling himself that, even when he couldn't stop the way his hands tightened on his partner's body, or the way his body reacted to the touch.


There wasn't any subtlety in what Illya was doing. There wasn't meant to be, although he was startled by the drama of Napoleon's response. Napoleon stiffened against him, and at first Illya thought he was going to shove him away. And then Napoleon's hazel eyes locked on him, strangely perfect through the eye-holes of the wolf mask, and he leaned back against the railing and widened his stance, tacit permission for Illya to do as he liked.

"What'd you get?" Illya whispered in his ear, his own erection thickening, hardening, as he pressed his body against Napoleon's.

Napoleon gasped as his hand moved, as Illya dragged the pad of his thumb across the tip of Napoleon's cock. "Thrush," he murmured. "Bio labs, white rats. The pictures are technical documents I didn't understand. We'll--ah!" A sharp, lip-bitten cry, and Illya didn't need to glance over to know that Napoleon had spotted the pursuit. He could feel it in the tightness of Napoleon's grip on Illya's wrist. "We'll need a full-scale raid to capture this intact. I couldn't photograph it all."

"Call it in," Illya whispered, and pulled the silk handkerchief out of Napoleon's pocket with a flourish. In the process, he 'accidentally' got Napoleon's silver pen, and as he replaced it, he twisted the antenna up. "Fifty more dollars buys my mouth, tovarisch," he said clearly, in an accent thicker than he'd ever had, in real life. "You won't regret, eh?"

"Just this," Napoleon answered, as Illya slipped his cock free of his pants and went to work with determination. Napoleon's head sagged forward, his mask pressed to Illya's shoulder, his arm coming up as if to support himself on Illya's body. He groaned, loud and sharp, his hips moving in time to Illya's hand. His flesh was hot and moist, a little sticky in Illya's hand, and Illya remembered the cow byre, the way Napoleon had jerked and stiffened in his arms—"That's too expensive." Out loud. And then, "Open Channel D," Napoleon said softly.

"Yes, Mr. Solo?" Lucinda's voice came too clearly, even muffled by cloth. Illya camouflaged it with a counteroffer. "Forty dollars. Is bargain—" and he thought Napoleon was in danger of choking as he gulped air, and tried not to laugh. "Mr. Kuryakin?" Lucinda asked.

"Lucy, just listen," Napoleon answered, speaking very softly and very clearly. "We're on the Bayou Princess. The reconnaissance turned up a little more than we expected. We need a full assault team, sleep darts--there are a lot of civilians on board--and a science team."

"Bio," Illya interrupted.

"Bio, ah, team," Napoleon finished, strain bleeding into his voice as Illya, suddenly feeling wicked, speeded up his pace a little, stroking the head of Napoleon's cock with the silken handkerchief. Napoleon whispered, "Solo out," and then threw back his head and sobbed, as if he couldn't get a full breath.

He probably couldn't, Illya thought. His cock was as hard as if he and Illya hadn't had sex twice in the last twenty-four hours, and his breath sounded like it was being torn out of him, big ragged gasps as he threw his head back again, hips moving helplessly. His hands clenched tight on the railing. Illya had the sudden urge to see his partner's face, to know it was Napoleon he was doing this to, that it was mercurial, impenetrable Napoleon who was melting under his touch this way.

The handkerchief still trailing from his hand, he reached up to push the wolf mask off Napoleon's features, and was surprised when his partner caught his wrist in a grip like steel. "No," he said.

"Please, tovarisch," Illya murmured, after a moment. "Is hurting me."

Napoleon blinked, and let his wrist go as if it was red-hot. "Sorry," he said. And then he grinned, with a sideways glance that told Illya they were still observed, and growled, "That's not what I'm paying you for."

"I'm sorry," Illya said, and picked up his pace, wondering. The brutally surrendered Napoleon never quite came back, though, although it was only a matter of moments after that that Napoleon hissed between gritted teeth and shoved forward, hard, into Illya's grip, shuddering with the force of his orgasm.

Illya caught him, caught the spurting semen on the handkerchief, and then wadded it into his coat pocket over the micro-camera while Napoleon clung, trembling, to the railing. By the time he wiped his hands, Napoleon had tidied his clothing and was watching him archly through the wolf mask, holding out a folded twenty-dollar bill.

Illya took it without comment, and tucked it into his pants pocket, aware of the needy ache of his own erection as he did so. "Pleasure to do business with you," he murmured, and started to turn away. He almost walked into the security guard, who was glowering at them from the edge of the paddlewheel.

"You two are going to have to leave," he said, as Illya tried to look small and cowed.

"Yes, sir," he said, and walked away from Napoleon without a backward glance, hurrying as if to retrieve his horn.

The guard turned his head and spat. "Filthy animals." And Illya, thinking of his partner in the wolf mask, hid a very secret smile as he heard the rotors of more than one helicopter start to ring across the water.


It was past dawn before the cleanup of the Bayou Princess was finished, and Napoleon and Illya managed to drag themselves back to their hotel room. Napoleon was swinging the wolf mask by its strings. Illya had a brown paper bag in his hand. It clinked; salvage from wet bar on the Bayou Princess.

Surely, Alexander Waverly wouldn't want to see a nearly-full bottle of twenty-year-old Caol Ila go to waste in an evidence locker. The glasses were simply a necessary addendum.

Napoleon poured while Illya scrubbed his makeup off. He sat on the coarse white chenille bedspread and held the wolf mask in one hand, contemplating it while he swirled the whisky in a balloon glass with the other. The liquor released a rich, smoky aroma as he raised the glass to his mouth. He didn't look up as Illya sat down on the bed beside him and reached across him for the other glass, his shoulder brushing Napoleon's.

"You're different in a mask," Illya murmured, close enough that his breath stirred Napoleon's hair. Napoleon's fingers tightened on the object in question, crinkling its papier-mâché surface.

"What do you mean?"

Illya sipped his whisky and shrugged, and waved at the wolf's head. "That--doesn't matter. Shouldn't matter. You wear masks every day; they're all on the inside." He paused, and drank again, swirling the liquor in his mouth to savour it. "I take mine off and put them on again—" He ran his free hand through his dark-brown hair. "You've always got yours. So that was different for you."

"You're not making any sense."

"You gave me more," Illya said, finally, after a long, thoughtful pause. "When you weren't being Napoleon."

He didn't like what Illya was saying. He opened his mouth to deny it, and couldn't. The taste of the whisky in his mouth was warm, almost hot. It was an effort not to polish it off at a gulp. Instead, he put the glass down on the nightstand, lifted Illya's from his fingers, and set it down as well. And then he stood, laid the mask on the bed, pulled Illya to his feet by his upper arm, and began unknotting his tie. "And you're not different, in your masks?"

"Not like that—"

"Bullshit," Napoleon said, quietly, opening Illya's collar as Illya stood very, very still, his hands hanging open against his thighs. "All the latex and makeup and hair dye. The funny clothes and the elevator shoes—"

"What about it?"

"You tell me you don't hide behind them, Illya?"

Illya's mouth opened, but only silence followed. Napoleon finished unbuttoning and pushed shirt and holster and suitjacket all down off his shoulders like a shed skin, dropping them on the freshly made bed. Illya shivered as Napoleon ran light fingers over his chest, ruffling sparse, pale curls, and paused to tweak his nipples. He gasped, and Napoleon did it again.

"Shoes," Napoleon said, and Illya obeyed, towing them off. He stood on each foot in turn to slide his socks off, and then stood waiting, goosefleshed, while Napoleon unbuckled his belt. He dropped Illya's trousers around his ankles, crouched down, and skinned his briefs down after them. Illya's cock bobbed free, already hard, a shining drop of moisture dewing the tip. Napoleon leaned forward and tasted it, one sharp catlike lick, and slapped Illya's hands away casually when Illya reached for his head.

He rose to his feet, ignoring his partner's little frustrated whimper, savouring the salty, musky flavour on his tongue. Not so different from the whisky, really.

"You still have all your clothes on," Illya said, and Napoleon answered, "I know." He took Illya's biceps in one hand and the wolf mask in the other and led him across the room, to the mirrored closet doors. He felt Illya shivering, and didn't know if it was desire or uncertainty--adrenaline--or both.

Napoleon paused a moment, savouring the contrast of his partner's naked body to his own slightly rumpled elegance. "What do you see?"

"You and me," Illya said, promptly, with an arched eyebrow that could be mockery or annoyance.

Napoleon slid the wolf mask over Illya's eyes and nose, settled it, and tied the strings in the back, finger-combing brown hair over them. Another washing had rendered the hair softer, more like its usual texture, and Napoleon indulged himself, running his fingers through it for a moment. He bent down and pressed his lips against the side of his partner's neck, let Illya feel his teeth as Illya let him feel the slow shivers that followed the touch. "And now what do you see?"

"Oh," Illya said, still staring in the mirror.

"Yes," Napoleon answered, and ran his hands down Illya's flanks. He had gloves, thin leather ones, in his suitcase. He wanted them. All his skin covered, and the contrast of that black leather to his partner's pale skin. "Stand there."

"I will," Illya said, a little breathlessly, and Napoleon smiled as he went to get his gloves, and one of the glasses of scotch, and to hang out the do not disturb sign.

When he came back, Illya was standing exactly as Napoleon had left him, gilded in the morning sunlight that filtered through the curtains, breathing slowly and deeply. Napoleon handed him the glass, and held Illya's gaze while he wriggled the gloves on. The grey and black of the mask made Illya's eyes very blue, and blended with his dark hair so it looked like it belonged there. Napoleon took his time with the gloves, settling each finger, feeling the pressure of Illya's eyes on him. He snapped them at his wrists and tugged the cuffs of his jacket down over them, while Illya watched.

The weight of his gun nestled in Napoleon's armpit. He turned and straightened his tie, smoothed his hair in the mirror, and reclaimed the glass while his masked partner watched, impassive. Napoleon swirled the whisky in the glass and tilted it to his lips, letting the smoky liquid flow into his mouth. He'd poured a generous measure; there was plenty left in the glass when he took it from his lips.

He had a handful of centimetres on Illya when they were both barefoot. His boots made it nearly ten. When he pressed the leather-covered fingers of his empty hand into the soft flesh under Illya's chin and tilted his face up, and then covered Illya's lips with his own, the warmed liquor flowed easily from Napoleon's mouth to his partner's. He stood well back, stretching forward a little, so the only point of contact between them was at fingertips and lips.

Illya shivered, suckling at his mouth, throat working as he swallowed the thin stream of whisky Napoleon fed him. Napoleon pressed just a little harder before he drew his fingers away, and Illya's head stayed tilted back when he ended the kiss. He wondered if Illya could smell the leather. "Open your eyes, Kuryakin," he said, and took another sip of the liquor.

Illya's eyes flew open as if he'd been shocked, but he didn't change the expectant tilt of his head. Napoleon kissed him again, gave him another taste of liquid fire. Illya sucked his lips hungrily, sent his tongue exploring into Napoleon's mouth when the liquor was all gone, leaned into him. Napoleon stopped him with a gloved hand flat on Illya's chest. "Ah," he warned. "Watch." And unceremoniously dropped to his knees.

Illya groaned between his teeth. His cock swayed heavily, his fingers curling and uncurling alongside his thighs. Napoleon touched his balls with gloved fingers, stroked the hollows of his thighs, smiling as Illya moved against the touch, but didn't break, didn't try to take control. He leaned forward and tasted the head of Illya's cock, skinned the foreskin back and flicked his tongue around the rim and in and out of the slit. Illya moaned this time, low and throaty, and the taste and slickness filled Napoleon's mouth again.

Napoleon paused, and sipped, and then held the glass up on his gloved palm, offering. Illya took it without being told, and then Napoleon steadied Illya's hips with his hands, and took him deep into his mouth.

Illya cried out, as if in pain. Napoleon felt him curl forward around the touch. If he angled his head sideways as Illya reached for him, roughly palmed his head in one big hand--the one that wasn't holding the glass--he could see them both. Himself, on his knees, still immaculate in suitcoat and brocade vest. The liquor burned his mouth; he imagined what it would feel like on sensitive skin, mucous membranes. Illya rocked into it, sobbing, but his head stayed forward, his eyes open behind the mask. Napoleon could see in the mirror, could see as Illya squirmed hopelessly, as Illya curled fingers tight and managed to stroke Napoleon's hair rather than clutching it and slamming home.

Napoleon wasn't sure he'd ever seen a more erotic contrast--his partner, nude except for the wicked, grinning wolf mask, rocking on the balls of his feet, fighting to keep from dropping the balloon glass, curled helplessly around Napoleon in his black suit and gloves. "Oh," Illya gasped, struggling, as Napoleon gently uncurled his fingers from Napoleon's hair and stood, still holding Illya's hand, and kissed him on the mouth again.

Napoleon had swallowed some of the whiskey, but there was enough for a good mouthful, and Illya moaned softly as Napoleon fed it to him, mouth to mouth. "You stopped," he complained, and took another sip, this time direct from the glass.

Napoleon grinned at him. "I wouldn't want you to lose interest too quickly," he said. "How did it look, when I went down on you just now?"

Illya swallowed hard. "Amazing."

"Are you willing to give me more than that?"

Illya tasted the whisky again, then extended the glass to Napoleon. Napoleon took it and drank, pretending not to notice when Illya's fingers spidered up and fretted at the edge of the mask. "I think so," he said, at last, and Napoleon smiled at him as reassuringly as he could, and handed him the glass.

There was an ottoman by the armchair in the corner. Napoleon fetched it quickly and dragged it in front of the mirror. He made a stop at the nightstand and brought back a bottle of gun oil, too. Suddenly, the bathroom seemed entirely too far to go.

"Kneel down," he murmured, and after a heart-stopping moment, Illya did as he instructed, a bit awkwardly between the mask and the glass. Illya didn't wait to be told what to do with the ottoman; he sprawled across it, knees spread wide and braced, his chin propped on the backs of his fingers, his expression unreadable through the mask although he watched the mirror with all a king's arrogance as Napoleon came and crouched behind him, his hands shaking so hard he fumbled the cap on the Ballistol.

"You'll ruin your gloves," Illya said, mildly. His voice was level and soft, softer than Napoleon was accustomed to hearing it, but his breath was fast and shallow, and sour fear and musky arousal tainted his sweat.

"Let me worry about that," Napoleon said. He shrugged off his jacket, aware of Illya watching in the mirror, his eyes moving behind the mask, and laid it aside. Illya caught his breath, and Napoleon smiled at him over his shoulder. The full white sleeves of the shirt, the vest showing off the line of Napoleon's torso, the holster defining his shoulders--he'd planned the effect carefully. And Illya, it seemed, wasn't immune.

Gently, thoughtfully, he ran his hands across Illya's buttocks, the glove leather catching lightly on smooth skin. He stroked Illya's spine and shoulders, traced the line of Illya's jaw as Illya pushed into the touch like a demanding cat.

Napoleon covered Illya's body with his own, Illya's warmth soaking through the cloth separating them almost immediately. He was surprised; Illya was completely relaxed under him, his muscles solid and soft as Napoleon explored them with his hands. He let his head fall forward, and made soft gasping noises as Napoleon nibbled his neck, his spine, his shoulders. His hips lifted against Napoleon's weight, grinding his ass into Napoleon's groin, and Napoleon caught a sob between his teeth and heard Illya chuckle. "Sure. You can dish it out—"

"I've already proved I can take it," Napoleon answered, through gritted teeth, and ignored Illya's answering smirk, which said, not in so many words, oh, really?

He reached over Illya's shoulder and retrieved the glass from the rug, then held it for Illya to sip. Illya steadied Napoleon's hand with his own, his touch warm and attenuated through the leather. The rim of the glass clinked against the mask.

Napoleon leaned back a little, as Illya propped his chin on his hands again. He tilted the glass over Illya's back and dripped a slow trickle of whisky across his shoulders and down the valley of his spine, to pool in the hollow of his back. Illya froze, holding very still, as Napoleon set the glass well out of harm's way and leaned forward, tonguing up the golden rivulets, leaving trails behind that would cool shockingly as the alcohol volatized. He followed the droplets lower, sucked liquor off Illya's skin, let his tongue wander into the warm crease between Illya's buttocks as his partner gasped, tensing at last.

"Remember this, do you?"

Weakly, Illya nodded, and Napoleon proceeded lower, bent down, tonguing his partner's perineum, the underside of his balls, drawing a groan of relief from Illya as he ran one gloved hand the length of Illya's cock.

Illya was far more relaxed this time, his body learning, already, craving the pleasure Napoleon could give him. Napoleon let his tongue do the work at first, teasing, gentling. Illya moaned and arched up to him, open, nearly pleading, and Napoleon had to pause to regain control of himself.

Illya was right; he was going to ruin the gloves. And he didn't think he could justify this on an expense account. Still, the contrast of black leather against pale skin was just as erotic as he'd thought it would be, and anyway, he felt if he didn't have that measure of safety, the implied distance, he might unravel completely.

Without looking, he reached for the bottle of oil. Something thicker would be easier, but, if he admitted it to himself, he didn't want it to be too easy. He wanted the struggle, wanted to make Illya work to take him in. Not to cause pain, never that. But he wanted it to be earned. He dripped a thin line of oil down the crease of his partner's buttocks, felt Illya react, shuddering, and caught the stream with his tongue. It tingled and numbed his mouth slightly as he worked it in, with little darting flickers of his tongue that had Illya writhing so hard that Napoleon needed both hands to steady him.

Illya was cursing again, a blue streak in languages Napoleon didn't speak, his knees spread wide and his ass thrust back shamelessly, his head turned and his eyes fixed on the mirror as if memorizing everything Napoleon was doing to him. His hips rocked desperately, and suddenly, Napoleon couldn't wait any more. He pulled back, one hand stroking Illya's cock while the other one fumbled at his own fly. He shoved his clothing aside, the boots pinching his toes, constricting his ankles as he braced his feet, his pants tight around his hips as he shoved them halfway down. Illya squirmed, trying to push back against Napoleon as Napoleon pressed the tip of his cock to Illya's opening.

"Hold still," Napoleon said, as he picked up the bottle again and dripped oil on both of them, not really caring if he spotted the rug, his gloves, his slacks. Illya held still, an obvious act of will, shivering, still cursing under his breath. "And watch."

Totally unfair. He knew Illya wanted to close his eyes, to concentrate on the sensations as Napoleon slowly, expertly worked his way past tightness and constriction, coaxed Illya into opening to him, moved into the heat and clinging tightness of his partner's body a half-centimetre at a time. Illya was panting, shivering, hands braced, back hollowed, swaying slightly, eyes fixed on the mirror. Napoleon stroked his hips, his thighs, gentle and careful, holding Illya steady until they were pressed together skin to cloth.

"Fuck," Illya said, one last time, very softly, as Napoleon stroked his back and shoulders, trying to ease his tension, the deep trembling that Napoleon could feel from the inside as well as under his hands.

"I know," Napoleon said softly, and bent down to kiss Illya between the shoulder blades, letting his hips curve forward as he did so. The change in angle, the short, calculated thrust were enough; Illya almost exploded under him, pushing back hard and frantically, gasping for breath. It was everything Napoleon could do not to pin his partner to the footstool and finish them both off in a flurry of sharp, hard thrusts, but he wanted more.

"What is that?" Illya asked, when he got his breath back, and Napoleon chuckled softly and said "I'll show you in an anatomy textbook some time. For now, pass me that glass, would you?"

He held the glass for Illya to sip from, then raised it and drained it himself. "If only we had a fireplace to smash it in," he said.

"Nobody really does that anymore, anyway," Illya pointed out, his tone dry despite the soft, helpless movements of his hips. He hadn't looked away from the mirror. His hair had fallen down across the ears and forehead of the mask, and his lips were pink, swollen with being bitten.

Napoleon set the glass aside and stroked Illya's back again, finger-combed his hair. "What do you see now?"

Illya glanced down, then back up, meeting Napoleon's eyes in the mirror. "I see two men in costumes, fucking," he said, plainly.

"I'm not in disguise any more," Napoleon protested, mildly.

"You wear yours on the inside," Illya said. He pressed back against Napoleon, as if experimentally, and Napoleon shivered, feeling the flex of strong body, understanding what it was that Illya chose to give to him, and understanding all too well that it was a gift. And then Illya reached up and pulled the mask off, and tossed it to one side as if it offended him, his hair feathering out with static. "Now what do you see?" he asked, challenging, meeting Napoleon's eyes in the mirror.

And Napoleon flinched, and looked down. It didn't help, because what he saw was Illya, naked, beautiful, and his own ridiculous conceit with the buttoned cuffs and the leather gloves, and it suddenly struck him as sickening, obscene. He couldn't see another option, though; this was it, this was what he was, and Illya was right, it was all masks and layers of masks, lies and prevarications, a whole life so built on dissembling he wasn't sure he knew who he was himself, anymore.

He was committed.

He closed his eyes, and let his body do what it wanted to do.


For a moment, Illya thought he'd gotten through. Napoleon softened, stared, seemed to remember where he was and what he was doing, and with whom. And Illya thought he might remember himself, and dared to hope.

And then the shutters closed, and the walls that had been teetering firmed, and Illya was left with the unhappy wish he'd just left the damned mask on, played Napoleon's game, and let him arrange his seduction however seemed best to him. It didn't matter, not in the long run. But he hadn't left well enough alone--he'd never been able to, frankly--and now he could feel Napoleon furling up. And he would not permit that. Couldn't permit it.

He'd reached out and grabbed what Napoleon had offered. Maybe even a little more than Napoleon had offered.

Napoleon could pry it out of Illya's cold, dead fingers if he wanted it back.

And then Napoleon laid one hand on his waist, and wrapped the other around the base of his cock, and started to move against him, and Illya decided to deal with the implications another day, because nothing could have prepared him for the raw, physical pleasure, the ache and stretch and delirious pressure of being fucked by Napoleon.

And it wasn't as if he couldn't recognize his own sort of madness in the need to break through those shells of Napoleon's, to own his partner as his partner seemed to need to own him. It wasn't that they were crazy, the two of them, he realized, even while gasping at unanticipated sensations, feeling his body react with heat and chilled tingles and unbelievable urgency to Napoleon's touch. It was that they had to be half-crazy already to have any hope of surviving their job without going insane.

Leave it alone, Kuryakin
, he told himself, as firmly as he could when all his body wanted to do was concentrate on the sensation of warm leather stroking his cock, the sharp, aching pleasure of Napoleon moving inside him. Time enough to unwind this Gordian knot when we get home. These things are not simple, and Rome was not built in a day.

And underneath, a lesson he'd learned the hard way. Enjoy it while you have it, because you may not have it tomorrow.

So he watched in the mirror as Napoleon, in his armour, made him squirm and swear, and he didn't close his eyes, although if he was honest he would admit that what he saw scared him white.

But that was okay, too; he'd learned to sort of enjoy being terrified. And Napoleon was going out of his way to make it worth Illya's while. Illya was half-amused to realize that he was the one making those shocking, uninhibited noises, and finally dropped his head and gave in to the pressure building inside him. The orgasm tore through him like a wall of water, different somehow from what he was used to, more intense, focused, and it left him wrung out and gasping and barely able to brace himself as Napoleon stroked his cock one last time, a lingering touch of leather, and gripped his hips tight and fucked him hard, his weight behind it, making him cry out again half a second before Napoleon groaned through his teeth and shuddered, falling against him.

Illya claimed the bathroom first this time. When he came out, sore and tired and clean, and wearing only a pair of thin cotton boxers, Napoleon was already in his bathrobe, reading the Picayune in the armchair by the door, his feet--in socks and shoes--propped on the fateful ottoman.

He grinned at Illya jauntily as he stood, and handed him the paper as he brushed past, headed for the bathroom. "I can't wait to get home."

Illya watched him go, frowning, and wondered how it had never occurred to him before how buttoned down and pressed Napoleon was. How he didn't take his jacket off, even around their office, and how he didn't even walk around a hotel room in bare feet.

That's going to change
, Illya thought, over the click of the bathroom door.


Napoleon didn't make a habit of being honest with anyone, especially himself. So he managed to convince himself for a fortnight and a half that he wasn't waking up in the middle of the night, soaked in sweat and achingly hard, because he'd been dreaming of his partner's body pressed under his own, remembering the taste of Illya's skin, remembering the way he'd moaned deep in his throat and the spasms had rippled through him when he spent himself in Napoleon's hand.

And he managed to convince himself that it was just as well that Illya had been sent to Czechoslovakia for three weeks, starting immediately upon their return to New York. It gave them both the time and distance they needed to get their heads straightened out after the intensity of New Orleans. It gave Napoleon time to get his feelings under control, and he thought the break would be good for Illya, too. He was still telling himself that when he put his key in the lock and let himself into his apartment.

Illya wasn't due home for another two days, although he'd forced himself to stop asking after his partner once Waverly had directed a particular scathing glower and a comment about need-to-know at him. So Napoleon was slightly surprised to open the door and find Illya sitting barefoot and crosslegged on Napoleon's couch, wearing an unbuttoned shirt over a black t-shirt and a pair of Wranglers, a large bowl of popcorn propped between his knees. "I was wondering if you had a date," he said, without getting up, and crunched a handful of popcorn. His hair feathered across his forehead as he tossed his head back; the dye had washed out, returning it to its normal variegated yellows.

"I, ah, no—" Napoleon said, and shut the door firmly behind him. "What are you doing here?"

"Waiting for you," Illya answered, and held up the yellow Fiesta-ware bowl, palmed like a basketball. "Want some popcorn?"

"Thanks." Napoleon hung his overcoat on the tree by the door and crossed the living room, sinking down on the black and white couch cattycorner to Illya. He picked up a few kernels of popcorn and crunched them, unsurprised to find that Illya had done some arcane doctoring with grated cheese and chili powder, in addition to the traditional butter and salt. "That's pretty good."

Illya made a noncommittal noise and ate more popcorn. "So," he said, "I have a proposition for you."

Napoleon shot him a sideways glance. "Proposition?"

"In American you would say a dare." Yes, Illya was definitely smirking. That didn't even remotely qualify as a smile.

"I want to hear the dare before I say yes," Napoleon said, reaching for more popcorn, for something to do with his hands.

"That's not the way dares work," Illya complained, but he nodded anyway. "But all right. I dare you to come to bed with me—"

"That's a dare?"

"And not try to control the encounter," Illya finished, a small smile of triumph curling the corners of his mouth. "I bet you can't do it."

Of course I can do it
, Napoleon almost snapped. And then he paused, and examined the thought from all angles. "Define 'control.'"

"I mean," Illya said, leaning forward to trail one hand down Napoleon's thigh, "you have to let me meet you half way. Negotiation, not marching orders. Conversation, not monologue."

Napoleon swallowed. "You've been thinking about this a lot."

"I have." Illya's hand was creeping back up his leg now, sliding down the inside curve of his thigh. And then, with the air of a man turning over a hole card, he cupped a warm palm over the bulge at Napoleon's groin, and purred, "You don't have to trust yourself, muy droog. You only have to trust me."

"And what happens if I can do it?" Napoleon asked, suddenly determined to give as good as he got.

"You get to tie me to the bed, next time, and do anything you want to me." Delivered with an air of total innocence, and Napoleon's throat went dry.

"And if I can't?"

Illya's smile went wicked, taunting. "Then I get to use the handcuffs on you."


Napoleon's eyes widened, and for a minute Illya thought he'd pushed too hard. But then he saw his partner swallow, and he felt Napoleon's response to the phrase do anything you want to me, as his cock firmed against Illya's palm. And he heard the rattling breath Napoleon took, and saw him wager himself that his control was up to the challenge. Illya almost dared to hope, but he shut it down fiercely.

All he was doing was buying time. A little more time, a little more warmth before the world tore them apart again. It didn't matter, though. Illya was accustomed to losing things.

He planned to make whatever time they did have count. And half of that was getting through Napoleon's damnable armour--because he wanted it too. Illya was sure of it. He wasn't misreading the signs, the little sadnesses. Napoleon was scared of being hurt. As scared, in his own way, as Illya was, of not having had enough to make the inevitable hurt worthwhile.

Napoleon nodded then, after a long silence. And Illya leaned forward on the sofa, set the popcorn bowl aside, and kissed Napoleon square on the mouth. Napoleon startled at first, and then opened his mouth, pressed back, slid one hand up Illya's neck to cup his head. He tugged lightly, and Illya almost cracked an eye to protest, but it was a suggestion, and not a demand, and Napoleon let him direct the kiss, moving from soft and thoughtful to firm and erotic, sending a tingle down his spine and sparking heat in his belly, his groin.

He pulled back, flicking his tongue across Napoleon's lips, and Napoleon leaned forward, following the kiss, until Illya broke it with a slight shake of his head. "Come to bed, Napoleon," he murmured.

Napoleon nodded slowly, his eyes big and bright, and stood up along with Illya. He let Illya take his upper arm and guide him toward the bedroom, where he suffered Illya to undress him. He reached up to slide Illya's shirt off his shoulders and hesitated, but Illya nodded encouragement, and soon they were both standing naked in the dim light from the hallway.

He reached out and touched Napoleon's chest lightly, surprised when Napoleon shivered and closed his eyes at the touch. There was a strange shyness in the moment, a sense of momentous occurrence. One way or another, there was no way back from this.

And for the first time in his adult life, Illya found himself dry-mouthed, not with the controlled, heady fear he lived on, but with the realization that he might have, after all, finally risked something he wasn't willing to lose. He bit his lip, feeling Napoleon's heart beat under his fingertips. You should have thought of that before you let him kiss you.

He wasn't sure that would make any difference, anyway. So he took his partner by the arm, and led him to the bed. He'd been in Napoleon's bedroom before, but this was different. Fraught, as Napoleon pulled back the covers and let him slide under them, then joined him between the chilly sheets. They lay face to face for a moment, and then Napoleon chuckled and brushed his hair off his forehead. "You'd think we hadn't done this before."

"Have we?" Illya asked. He slid closer, pulling his partner into an embrace, and Napoleon came willingly. They kissed again, legs intertwining, and Illya concentrated on the solid warmth of Napoleon's body in his arms. He stroked his hands up Napoleon's spine, pulled himself tight against him, felt Napoleon's hips rock as he pressed into the heat between their bodies, skin sliding on skin.

It took all the concentration Illya could muster to firm his hands on Napoleon's ass, hold him still, roll him onto his back and press him to the bed, without breaking the kiss. Napoleon, to his credit, resisted only as long as it took him to understand what Illya was asking, and then went smoothly, letting Illya straddle his hips. The blankets slid down Illya's back as he moved. Napoleon arched against him, eyes closed, and Illya pressed his shoulders to the bed and finally broke the kiss. He eyed his partner, nose to nose, and frowned. "Are you sure you don't have a date tonight?"

"I thought I was having one," Napoleon replied, as archly as even Illya could have managed.

"This isn't a date," Illya said, shifting his weight as Napoleon's erection prodded him in the stomach. Napoleon hissed as Illya slid down, slowly, kissing his partner's throat, nipping his collarbones. "I'm your partner. If you'd wanted a one-night stand, a quick tussle, you should have left it there when you had the chance."

Napoleon's hands came up and slid into Illya's hair, holding it out of his eyes. "Are you telling me I'm stuck with you?"

"I'm telling you that you're not in charge," Illya answered. "Not in bed."

Oh, that was interesting. Because he didn't miss Napoleon's shiver when he said it, or the way he thrust hard against Illya's belly, his breath catching. Very interesting, indeed.

"I never said I was," Napoleon said, but there wasn't any conviction in his voice. His hands cupped Illya's ass, slid into the crease between his buttocks, pulling their groins together. Illya groaned at the heat and contact. Napoleon's none-too-subtle seduction sent shivers of pleasure up his spine, but he had a plan of his own, and he was sticking to it.

"So you are in a hurry?"

"I never said that." Napoleon arched against him, rubbing, sweet friction. The shivery pleasure was deeper now, rough slide of flesh on flesh. Illya slid his hands down Napoleon's arms from the shoulders, stroked skin as soft as a girl's, found the rougher edge of his palms. Those fingers were quite wicked, knowing, teasing. Illya pulled them away from his body, pressed them flat to the bed, pinned Napoleon's wrists on either side of his head.

He didn't miss it, the way Napoleon froze, the way his breath locked in his throat. He would have to have been blind and deaf and senseless to miss it, not to notice the taut sort of thrill that ran through Napoleon's body as Illya pressed against him. And then, suddenly, Napoleon shoved against him, hard, breathing raggedly, and spilled him off the bed.

Illya had half been expecting it, and rolled with it, fell well and was on his feet again before Napoleon had finished swinging his feet to the floor. "Illya, are you—"

"I'm fine," Illya answered, and turned away. I won't lose him.

I have to see this through.
It scared him, unpleasantly, because he was all too painfully aware of what he'd put at risk. Not just a budding... romance. His best friendship. His only friendship. His professional future. Everything. On one fickle roll of the dice. Stupid.

Double, or nothing. A long, long way to go for an adrenaline rush, Kuryakin.

What the hell,
he thought. I always did like to play with explosives.

"Where are you going? I'm sorry. I didn't—"

"Napoleon," Illya said, more tiredly than he had intended, "shut the hell up, would you?"

And wonder of wonders, Napoleon shut up.


He couldn't quite sort out what he was feeling, as he watched Illya walk away from him. The sudden panic at his loss of control flickered down as fast as it had risen up. He swallowed, and bit his tongue before he could call after Illya, don't go.

But Illya did not appear to be going. Instead, he opened the top drawer on Napoleon's dresser, and reached inside. Napoleon heard something jingle--something that shouldn't be in that drawer--and remembered that Illya had had all the time in the world to arrange anything he liked, before Napoleon came home.

Then Illya turned around, dangling two pairs of handcuffs from his left hand, and said, very calmly, "I think I win."

"I think we should talk about this."

"So you can talk me out of it?" He came back to the bed, and nudged Napoleon back to the middle of it, and Napoleon went, a little wide-eyed. "I don't think so. We gambled. You lost. Are you going to welsh on the bet?"

"Where do you learn these words?" Napoleon wondered. Illya just smiled, and ran one hand down Napoleon's shoulder and forearm. "You don't actually think I secretly want to be tied up."

"No," Illya said, surprising him, and looked him directly in the eye. "I don't. But I think you very much want to let go of control, and I think it scares you, also, very much. So I'm going to show you that it's safe."

"You're about the least safe person I've ever met," Napoleon muttered, and Illya smiled, like it was the nicest compliment anyone had ever paid him. Napoleon took a deep breath and stuck out his arm.

The metal was cold. Illya didn't close the cuffs so tightly that they bit into Napoleon's flesh, but tightly enough. He was, after all, a professional. "Scoot down," he said, and Napoleon bit his lip and scooted, allowing Illya to cuff each of his wrists to a cornerpost of the bed. There was just enough slack in the chain that if he stretched out, and didn't tug, the cuffs didn't bite in.

He leaned back on the pillow, and tried to wait patiently. Illya didn't seem to be in any hurry. In fact, he was running his hand very slowly down Napoleon's thigh, over his knee, letting it come to rest on his ankle. "Spread your legs, please," he said. Napoleon did as he was asked, and wasn't terribly surprised to feel a soft, thick band of cloth around his ankle. Terrycloth. A bathrobe tie, perhaps? Whatever it was, Illya drew it tight, and when Napoleon tugged experimentally, he found he just a few centimetres' worth of play. While he was doing that, Illya bound his other foot down, and then crawled onto the bed between his knees and coaxed him into lifting his hips so he could tuck a cushion under them. It wasn't one of Napoleon's cushions, and his lips quirked a little at Illya's advance confidence that he'd known what Napoleon would do, and had prepared for it.

Of course, Napoleon admitted, although he'd never say it out loud, Illya had been right.

Oddly, Napoleon wasn't worried about this. Not particularly aroused by it, it was true. But unconcerned. Illya was safe. The safest person in the world, contrary to what he'd said earlier. Perfectly safe. As long as you happened to be Napoleon Solo.

And wasn't this what he'd thought about, in that damned tank? When they were trying to take everything away from him, and the only sensation he could find was the padded constriction of the cuffs on his wrists and ankles, which never even chafed, as hard as he could pull on them? Retreat, they taught you. So he'd retreated into the impossible, the fantasy of Illya touching him, ravishing him, while he was helpless. Something so bizarre it had to be a fantasy.

Because it could never happen in real life...

Until he had woken up, to find it quite irrefutably real. Illya was right, he realized. He had been... not just trying to control Illya. Trying to reclaim whatever it was he was afraid he'd lost, left behind in that tank.

The illusion of control.

Illya wasn't touching him at all. The knots were tight, the bed was smooth, only Napoleon's weight indenting it. He turned to look for Illya in the dim light, and saw him straightening from a crouch beside the bed. There was something large and dark in his right hand; Napoleon couldn't at first make out what it was.

Illya reached out with his left hand and smoothed the hair off Napoleon's forehead, almost tenderly. He slipped his hand under Napoleon's head and lifted; Napoleon craned forward. And then he echoed the gesture with his right hand, and settled the much-abused papier-mâché wolf's head mask over Napoleon's face and tied the strings.

made Napoleon gasp, unexpectedly.

"There," Illya said, softly, satisfied. "Now you don't need those other masks any more, right?" And he bent, one knee on the bed, and kissed Napoleon on the mouth.

Napoleon surprised himself, reaching into it, lifting his head to accept the kiss, mouth open and hungry. And Illya gave generously, his weight on one hand, the other one cradling Napoleon's cheek. Napoleon groaned, softly, low in his throat, and let Illya kiss him back into the pillow. Not that he had much choice--

Surprisingly easy. He tested the handcuffs, just enough to hear the chains rattle, and Illya laughed and kissed his throat, his shoulder, nibbled his ear and made him squirm. And then Illya was licking his way down Napoleon's chest, straddling his leg, paper-soft skin of his balls rubbing Napoleon's thigh. His mouth closed on Napoleon's nipple and Napoleon arched into it, head thrown back, as Illya's hand slid down to caress his cock.

He thought Illya's mouth would pursue his hand, maybe trace slow, wet shivers down his belly, tease along his hip bone, tickle his inner thigh and his groin. Instead, his partner's hand cupped him, squeezed him tight, stroking slowly, and then Illya nuzzled under his jaw, tilting his head back, and sucked softly along the curve of his throat.

"Mmm," Napoleon said. "Nice."

"You're easy," Illya answered, and Napoleon laughed. "You expect me to put up a fight when you're doing that?"

"Mmm. Perhaps not." Illya leaned back a little, and to the side. Napoleon jumped as he traced soft fingers down the inside of Napoleon's right arm, wrist to armpit, and let his mouth follow the same route. Napoleon whimpered, a little, when Illya paused at the inside of his elbow, lips and tongue and teeth, not quite enough to leave a mark, counterpart to the slow, determined stroking of his hand.

Illya nuzzled down the length of Napoleon's arm, wet kisses from elbow to armpit, and then hard suction, forceful, in the crux of his arm and body, a sensation that shot chills through him as sharply as electric shock. Illya's hand tightened too and Napoleon heard himself cry out, yanking the chains that held him to the bed--not to escape, but to press closer, to hold on to Illya, as if Illya would get away. He moaned, straining, and heard Illya laugh, felt him laugh against wet skin. "I like seeing you like this," Illya whispered. "Next time, we try it without the handcuffs, maybe."

The mask was heavier than he remembered. He tried to shake it off, but it stayed, and now Illya was sliding down his body, and each breath came so hard it hurt. His reserve broke, and he wasn't sure if it was the mask or the enforced passiveness, but this time when he pulled at the handcuffs, it was in earnest, in desperate need to get his hands in Illya's hair, to guide the tormenting mouth that traced his cock with open-lipped kisses and tickled him with soft breath.

"Bastard," he groaned, as Illya pulled away, not so far that Napoleon couldn't feel his body heat. He arched up with whatever purchase he could get, trying to follow his partner's warmth, and was rewarded with a brief, dry kiss on the tip of his cock. It twitched in response, and then Illya's tongue flicked gently across the slit, licking away moisture.

"Tell me what you want," Illya said, softly, his hands stroking Napoleon's hips and thighs.

"I thought you were in charge," Napoleon managed, when he got his breathing under control a little.

"I never said that," Illya answered, interspersing the words with sharp nips along the ridge of Napoleon's hip. "I simply said you weren't. I'm open to negotiation." And then a low, sultry whisper, almost a purr, punctuated by the wicked touch of callused hands. "Tell me what you want."

"God," Napoleon said. And it was hard, unbelievably hard to ask, when it would have been easy to demand. But "Suck me?" he said, finally, almost under his breath.

"Mmm. I think I'll enjoy that," Illya said, still in that velvety purr, and slid his hands under Napoleon's ass, curling his fingers into the muscle and flesh. Napoleon groaned, and then heard himself whimper when Illya's tongue stroked in long, slow licks across his testicles and up the shaft of his cock.

Illya's mouth was as wet and hot as ever, and far more confident, this time. And he didn't seem to have any doubts at all as to what he wanted from Napoleon, which was just simple compliance. Napoleon bit his lips at first, not wanting to seem too needy, ashamed of the low, helpless moans that tried to claw their way between his teeth. The sound that got past him was more like a throaty whimper, raw and naked, and as if to reward him, Illya drew him deeper, sucked harder, his fingers stroking the crease of Napoleon's ass and making him arch and thrash.

"Good," Illya said, softly, pressing the pad of his thumb against Napoleon's opening. It was slick, although Napoleon hadn't seen Illya reach for anything, and it was too slippery to be saliva. Still, he couldn't look down his body well with the wolf mask's muzzle in the way, and he'd already figured out just how much preparation Illya had done.

"Illya," he breathed, and Illya rewarded him with another long, leisurely kiss, swirling his tongue around the head of Napoleon's cock. Napoleon gave up pulling at the handcuffs and reached for the headboard instead, determined to clench his fists on that if he couldn't touch his partner, but the ties on his ankles that held him spread-eagled also kept him from sliding high enough on the bed. "Illya!" More urgently, the pressure building up in him until it was almost pain. "I need—"


"Yes." He wanted the mask off, wanted to be able to see what Illya was doing to him, why he was pulling back, now. His hand slid loosely around Napoleon's cock. Napoleon thrust into the grip, but the friction was slight, not enough, not at all. And then Illya was crouched over him, kissing his mouth, bitter tang of Napoleon's pre-ejaculate as he pressed his cheek to the ugly, awkward mask. "Fuck me?"

"Actually," Illya said, lipping his ear again, straddling him so their cocks pressed side by side, "I was thinking something similar."

He reached down and lifted Napoleon's cock, slid it into the sweaty warmth between his legs, the head rubbing hard on flesh. "You can't be ready for this," Napoleon said, or started to say.

"Can't I be?" And then Illya was settling down on him, slowly, painstakingly, but wet and soft and obviously ready, a low hiss between his teeth the only sign of discomfort. And Napoleon couldn't be sure it was discomfort, not when he could see Illya's face, sidelit, showing focused concentration and sharp, unalloyed pleasure. "Fuck," he said, leaning forward, and Napoleon decided then and there that he'd be happy to spend the rest of his life hearing Illya moan that particular word in that particular tone.

And then he was pressed close, Napoleon deep inside him, Illya shivering with effort as Napoleon held himself still through sheer force of will and let Illya's body adjust. "Okay?" Napoleon managed.

"Yes, just—" Illya caught his breath. "—need a minute."

"It's okay. You're new at this. And that was...."

"Stupid?" Falsely bright, with the edge of a grin.

"Hasty." Napoleon shook his head again, the only motion he could manage, trying not to feel the heat and tightness of Illya relaxing around him. "God, you feel good."

"I think I might be getting the hang of this," he said, and rocked up on his toes, leaning forward. Even that slight movement was maddening. Napoleon still felt strangely vulnerable--well, not strangely, really, given that his limbs were spread wide and his back arched wantonly by the pillow.

"Well, take it easy anyway." Napoleon wanted to steady Illya, wanted to pull him down and kiss him. He squirmed a little, and Illya hissed again, a needy sound with a little catch in it. The mask pressed down on the bridge of his nose, and the inside was tacky with sweat. He shook his head irritably. "I want this thing off."

"Really?" And he wasn't sure if he'd imagined the pleased note in Illya's voice until he answered, "The sooner the better," and Illya hurried to fumble it off. Cool air soothed Napoleon's flushed skin and he sighed.

"I like you better without it," he said, and kissed Napoleon hard, bending down until they were pressed chest to chest.

"Do you really?" He didn't know why he should find that so startling. But he did, and something about Illya saying it lit his chest up with a warm happy glow.


"Does that mean I can have the handcuffs off too?"

"Hmm." Illya made a show of considering. "What do you plan to do with your hands if I let you have them?"

"Touch you," Napoleon said plaintively, and Illya laughed, and produced--not a key, but a lockpick--and opened the cuffs. Napoleon spared a moment to rub his wrists, and then settled his hands where they'd do the most good: one on Illya's waist, to steady him, and the other on his cock. Napoleon's ankles were still tied, but it wasn't worth it to disengage long enough to get them untied.

"Are all your preparations in order?" Illya asked dryly.

"My preparations?"

Illya chuckled, and braced himself, and ever-so-slowly began to move.

After the long tease, it was torture and satisfaction both. Napoleon felt the sharp pressure building in his groin almost instantly, and turned to press his cheek into Illya's palm. "I am not going to last."

"That's okay," Illya answered, and moved a little faster, a little harder, alternately thrusting into Napoleon's hand and rocking back hard, taking him in. Too hard, Napoleon was afraid, but it wasn't, he realized, his place to decide. "You don't have to prove anything to me."

"I'll make it up to you," he said, and then Illya leaned back, balancing himself with an athlete's strength, and grabbed Napoleon's hips tight in both hands like a cowboy clinging to the saddle, pulling Napoleon into him until Napoleon arched hard, yanking the ties still holding his ankles. He felt the fabric stretch and heard threads snap, and quit fighting the spearing pressure of his orgasm. It slammed him back against the pillow, clinging to Illya and Illya clinging to him, and when he surfaced again, he found Illya leaning over him, panting, hands braced on either side of his shoulders.

"Fuck," he said, enjoying the way Illya's eyebrow went up. "Come here."

"I think I'll untie you first," Illya said, and suited action to words, wincing as he disengaged. "Hasty," he said, ruefully, and Napoleon laughed as Illya lay down in his arms.

"I said I'd make it up to you—"

"You did. Oh—" As Napoleon kissed Illya's collarbone, and then dropped down to tongue his nipple. Illya knotted both hands in the longest part of his hair and held on, but let Napoleon choose his path and take his time. "Oh." Very quietly. He drew one knee up, and Napoleon slid lower, leaving a trail of love-bites down his belly. "Please—"

God, he was hard. Another time, Napoleon might have teased a little, but he didn't think this was the day. He propped himself on his elbows and locked one hand around the base of Illya's cock, pressed two fingers into his slick, relaxed ass. He could smell his own scent layered over Illya's, feel his own heat joined with his partner's as he moved his fingers in and out, searching for the right angle. And the way Illya cried out and strained against him when Napoleon sucked the head of his cock into his mouth was like a little poem.

Illya wasn't going to last either. And for now, that suited Napoleon just fine. He felt the incipient orgasm lock his partner's body, thrust deeper, harder, his own semen slick over his hand. Illya arched into it, tense as a bent bow, and his cock pulsed in Napoleon's mouth as he cried out again and came, almost sobbing with release.

His hips rocked two or three times before his hands unknotted and slid down to stroke Napoleon's shoulders. Napoleon kissed him gently, once on the thigh and once on the testicles, and came up to cover Illya's body with his warmth. "Okay?" he asked, against his shoulder.

"Beautiful," Illya answered, blearily. And then hesitated, as if he wanted to say something and were afraid to spit it out.

"The emotional cowardice is my job," Napoleon said softly.

"I'm going to hang that mask on the wall to remind you of it, too," Illya said, and snuggled closer, his breathing slowing to something that was nearly a snore.

"Uh uh," Napoleon said. "Out with it."

Illya sighed. "Would you take it the wrong way," he said, very slowly, "if I told you I don't want to lose you?"

Napoleon chuckled, and felt Illya tense as he rolled away, but it was only to pull the covers up. "Not if you don't mind it being mutual."

"It scares me," Illya said, but he let Napoleon tuck him inside the crook of his arm. "The lights are still on in the living room."

"Leave 'em," Napoleon answered. He was too warm to get up, anyway. "Why does it scare you?"

He felt Illya pause. And then Illya relaxed against him, and settled in. "I can handle anything," he said. "As long as it's not permanent."


"You're falling asleep on me."

"You're right." With an effort, he roused himself, and blinked at Illya through the dimness. "Not permanent?"


"That's fine then," Napoleon said, and closed his eyes. "It's temporary."

"How temporary?"

He chuckled. "Well, if neither one of us gets shot, figure fifty, sixty years? Nice round number. A mere eyeblink, on a cosmic scale."

Illya laughed softly in the darkness, and didn't say anything else. Napoleon lay there, tangled up in his warmth, and listened to his breath slow down and level off, until he was sure Illya was asleep. He focused on his own respiration, counting breaths, willing himself into slumber. He was almost there when he felt his partner turn in his arms, lift his head, and stare down at him for a moment, the pressure of Illya's gaze as definite as a kiss brushing his forehead.

And then Illya murmured "Smart American," very softly, and laid his head back down.

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