The Canceled Vacation Affair
'Just do what comes naturally; be charming and American and trouble will no doubt find you,' those words echoed in his head for what felt like the thousandth time. Pushing his hands deeper in the pockets of his long coat, he tried not to shudder with fatigue and no small amount of boredom.
He should have been on vacation. He should have been on vacation in some sunny Southern clime that included silly named drinks and plenty of sunshine. He should have been on vacation with his partner and not walking through the downtown district of Bern all alone and not a little bit lonely.
He had spent the entirety of the day viewing tourist high points and visiting bank after bank, ostensibly shopping for a depository for his newly acquired fortune. His cover identity was that of a newly minted millionaire with a valuable patent for some miniaturized computer miracle. The patent and computer gizmo were real enough, though neither actually belonged to him.
'It will be just like a vacation. You will be in a beautiful foreign city, eating in fine restaurants and staying in the best suites in the most exclusive hotels. Not to mention the spending spree, it should be enjoyable for you, a dream come true, as it were.' Again, the past conversation played in his head. Switzerland in the Autumn wasn't exactly anywhere in the South Pacific any time of year, but duty could not be ignored. He felt a small smile tug at the corner of his mouth at the thought that no one back at headquarters would believe he was failing to have a good time on this mission. But it was true. Well, then, he thought to himself, time to at least act like this is fun. He wandered in the direction of his hotel and found himself, eventually, in the lounge. This would be his last night in this hotel. He suspected that if they hadn't made a play for him by now, whoever they were, either they wouldn't or they had moved on from the city. There was a train ticket in his room dated for the next day, it would give him passage to Zurich, the next leg of his investigative journey.
He ordered a vodka martini, wishing he were about to sip a tropical and frothy drink with his partner on a beach. Tossing some francs to the barman, he tried his best to suppress the sigh building in his lungs. Slipping open the belt of his coat, he leaned on the bar to watch the small gathering of people in the lounge. Though it was early, a pre-dinner crowd was starting to filter in. Napoleon sipped the cool clear liquid in his glass, and continued to observe.
He did enjoy watching a crowd. Sometimes he and Illya would speculate on what was going on at the various tables, what the conversational topics were or what occupations the bar patrons fulfilled. It was an amusement they enjoyed sharing. It wasn't nearly as fun alone. Barely suppressing another sigh, he mused inwardly, Not so difficult after all, to pretend to be a lonely American. Still watching the crowd, he sipped his drink.
'In the last two months, three American businessmen have mysteriously signed most of their fortunes over to anonymous Swiss bank accounts without telling anyone why. All three accounts were accessed by someone other than the gentlemen in question and cleaned out. Shortly thereafter all three men then, equally mysteriously, died. Two by obvious suicide and one in a suspicious car accident. Two of these men had recently been to Zurich, the last to Bern. You, Mr. Solo, are going to Switzerland, posing as just such a businessman. You will visit all the places they did and stay in the same hotels. We need to lure someone out of the woodwork.' Mr. Waverly had handed over a dossier and a bank book showing an impressive balance. He had split his attention between refilling his pipe and explaining that Napoleon would need to arrive in Europe already in character.
Napoleon would be avoiding any of the UNCLE headquarters as they weren't sure where the businessmen had picked up whoever had coerced them into handing over their millions. And he would be working alone for the most part. Illya would be shadowing him, but never seen. Napoleon's cover was already established and he would need to slip into it as quickly as possible, before another American businessman turned up destitute and dead.
Napoleon turned back to the bar, bored watching people, having no one with which to share his observations. He took the stiff paper coaster from under the now empty martini glass and started to fold it into a shape. It was lopsided, since he was making it from a circle of paper not a square, but it sat on the bar top nonetheless. The paper swan looked forlorn, and Napoleon recognized his projection for what it was.
Leaving a few more francs for a tip, he kept up his image of an extravagant American abroad. Pulling the long black leather coat closer around himself, he headed for the exit. He turned back when he got to the arched doorway to the lobby, just in time to see a slight figure separate itself from the corner shadows and quickly walk past the bar, one hand reaching out to snatch the swan.
Napoleon turned then, hands deep in the pockets of his coat and shoulders hunched, as he had been walking all day, but there might have been just the hint of a genuine smile on his mouth.
Napoleon paused at the front desk to leave instructions for a wake up call in the morning. The girl behind the counter was pretty and polite and normally Napoleon would have charmed her into a drink after her shift. But not this time, his character was not the smoothly flirting type, as none of the defunct millionaires had been. In fact, the trio of dead men had been quiet reclusive sorts, reportedly keeping to themselves and so shy of women that it had been remarked upon more than once by those who knew them. Napoleon was a little surprised at himself for finding the suppression of those flirtatious instincts so easy, he was loathe to admit that it was a bit of a relief to simply be kind and rather vague.
There being no messages at the desk for him, as he knew there wouldn't be, and no reason to flirt with the lovely receptionist, as it would blow his cover, he could find no more excuses to dawdle in the lobby. He thought momentarily about taking the stairs up to his sixth floor room, but realized that his decadent American persona would take the elevator. He awaited the elevator with feigned patience. He stepped into the empty car and when the doors closed him in alone, he finally sighed, rolling his neck and tension filled shoulders.
His room was, disappointingly, as he had left it, hidden security measures in place. He took the electronic bug detector from its hidden compartment in his suitcase anyway, and started to sweep the room. No listening devices, no cameras, no proof anyone had been here at all since he had left that morning. Heading for the French doors to the balcony, he heard a coded knock. It was dark outside, and the light inside the room made it impossible to see through the reflection on the other side of the curtains. Unless someone knew his partner's knock, Napoleon was reasonably sure he knew who was there.
"We have some new information, Napoleon. We know how but still nothing on who, not yet." Illya handed over a large envelope.
They were sitting at the table in the corner of Napoleon's suite, drinks poured and a handful of tiny paper swans scattered across the tabletop. Napoleon had been surprised to see that they had not been crushed during their journey in Illya's pocket. That Illya had found every last one of them, was not a surprise.
Napoleon opened the envelope and slid free the pictures and papers. He looked up at Illya, "Blackmail. This is so cliché, it must be THRUSH."
"Better than blackmail, it's also a frame up for murder. Keep looking."
Several photos, grainy black and white blown up to garish 8x10, were of two men in some interestingly compromising positions. There were three last photos, these were of one of those men no longer interesting or even compromised, just dead. His throat was slit and the blood pooled in thick black patterns on a pale rug. There was a letter, detailing how and where to deposit the money to make the evidence of the millionaire's involvement disappear. And there was another letter, addressing a lawyer and swearing innocence and offering to provide proof of it.
"Mr. Roxley's lawyer received that in his mail day before yesterday. The postmark shows that it was mailed the day before Roxley wrapped his car around a tree." Illya paused to swallow the rest of the alcohol in his glass. "It is now being investigated as a murder by the local police force, with a bit of extra help." He reached out and refilled his glass, and Napoleon's.
"And Uncle Alex wants us to continue here." Napoleon went back to studying the first series of pictures, absently picking up his glass and sipping. He turned a picture sideways, then turned his head as well, puzzled. "How the hell did they get..." he stopped when the picture was yanked from his hand.
"Whoever did the blackmailing miscalculated, Napoleon, that isn't some rent boy that Roxley picked up over here, that was his lover." Illya ran a hand through his hair, frustration tightening his voice. "They had known each other a decade. They kept it quiet and often vacationed far from home so they could be together openly, but it was not a secret from their families, what they were to each other."
"What's really the problem here, partner mine? That they were targeted for their relationship or that they tried to spend at least part of their time together in the open?"
"Waverly suspects that the initial payment in this case was a ransom, and the murder came after Roxley wouldn't, or couldn't, pay more."
Napoleon decided it might be better to ignore his partner's agitation for the moment. Illya would eventually tell him what was going on in his head, one way or the other.
Before either of the men could address, or further refuse to address, the question, there came the distinctive warble of a communicator signal. Illya took the pen from his pocket and pulled the cap to answer. "Kuryakin here," as polite as usual, but Napoleon could hear the increased tension.
"Mr. Kuryakin, you, ah, have had a chance to explain the change in plans?"
"No, sir, I have just had time to give the pictures to Napoleon," the look his partner gave him let Napoleon know to play along.
"Well then, allow me," Mr. Waverly cleared his throat and addressed Napoleon. "We want you to openly carry on a relationship that will attract the attention of our quarry. Since Mr. Kuryakin is already there, it would be most convenient if you two would get on with catching the attention of the blackmailers. Unless of course this would be too difficult since you know one another so well, perhaps a stranger would be easier, Mr. Solo? We can have someone meet you in Zurich if you prefer."
Napoleon tried not to laugh, between the suggestion his employer was making and the look of consternation on his partner's face, it was a near thing.
"Mr. Waverly, I am sure we can find our way through this assignment without involving perfect strangers."
"Excellent. I knew I could rely on the professionalism of my best team of agents." Waverly never praised them like this; it showed how much he wanted this mission resolved that he would do so now. "Carry on. Mr. Kuryakin, you have the details, yes?"
"Waverly out," and there was a ping of the channel closing before Illya put the cap back in place, effectively shutting off the device.
Napoleon grinned at the look on his partner's face, like he was about to be forced to pet a slobbery dog with poor manners. "So what are the details, partner mine?"
Illya put his communicator away and started pacing. "I will understand if you would find this easier with another agent. The rumours about us have always slipped around headquarters; knowing that they are there and actively feeding into them are two different things."
Napoleon stood and caught his partner's shoulders on the near turn of his pacing circuit. Illya looked at him, eyes guarded.
"Headquarters will always be filled with rumour and supposition, and never has it bothered me one way or another. Now, if you are bothered, that is another thing entirely." Napoleon leaned down just the slightest bit to make his partner look him in the eye. "Would you rather I appear to have sex with another agent to trap this blackmailer? I will fake it with someone else if it will ensure that the rumour mill be filled with the false antics of the notorious womanizer Napoleon Solo." He squeezed the shoulders under his hands, then slid those hands up to frame the unhappy face of his friend. "On the other hand, I would much prefer to take my time seducing my lover and enjoying the reciprocal seduction in return, it would be so much easier to make it appear real, don't you suppose, mon chat?"
Napoleon leaned forward until his lips were very close to his lover's, but not yet touching. He would leave that last small space for Illya to gap, to choose, to agree.
Napoleon was not disappointed. Illya swayed forward just enough to brush his lips on his lover's before pulling back to look him in the eye, asking so much with that gaze. Napoleon leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Illya's mouth, deepening the kiss when Illya's lips parted under his. Napoleon's tongue lapped at Illya's lips, tasting the drinks they had shared, moving deeper to brush the tip of his tongue along Illya's gum line and then past his teeth to invite himself in for a stay.
Their tongues were familiar dance partners, twining over and under each other, teasing palette and retreating, trading invitations inside and reacquainting themselves with one another. Napoleon's hands smoothed down Illya's back to gather him closer, to press the strength of his partner to himself. Illya's hands came to rest on Napoleon's waist then slid under his suit coat to smooth the fine cotton of his shirt against his back, pulling Napoleon to him as much as pressing himself against his partner.
He took over the kiss then, pressing his own advantage when Napoleon groaned low in his throat and hummed with pleasure as Illya rocked forward hard, tongue plundering and taking everything Napoleon would give.
Illya moved his lips from Napoleon's mouth down his chin and throat and up the cord of his neck to nibble biting kisses along his jaw to the sensitive skin behind one ear.
Napoleon nipped his lover's earlobe and then breathed in the scent of shampoo and clean skin and licked the rim of Illya's ear, inhaling sharply when his own skin shivered with Illya's attentions. "I have missed you, tovarisch," he whispered in that ear, then kissed Illya's temple. "I have missed your scent," and he kissed Illya's brow. "I have missed your strength," and he kissed Illya's neck. "I have missed...ah," he temporarily lost the power of speech when Illya moved his mouth down to his throat and sucked on the Adam's apple there, then pulled the loosened tie away to lick the hollow between his collar bones. Napoleon's head fell back, eyes closing as the devouring mouth of his partner rendered him incapable of anything but reveling in the intense desire they kindled between themselves.
How they made it to the bed and where their clothes landed, neither could say nor did they care, once they were bare skin to skin and horizontal. With voracious hands and mouths they mapped and marked and memorized each other once again. Each knew the other so well, and yet every move was new as if every time was the first time, every caress and kiss was freshly given and taken, every moan and murmur and cry was the first ever heard. Three days was hardly the longest they had gone without contact, but these particular three days had crawled by like every minute lasted hours. Now time was catching up with them and the minutes spent in one another's arms sped by like seconds.
Napoleon lavished attention on every inch of his partner he could reach, kissing and licking and nipping his way from Illya's throat down his chest, tweaking nipples and dipping his tongue in the hollow of Illya's navel, leaving bright trails of reddened suck marks on thighs and belly, shoulders and chest, his fingers playing across ribs and then behind knees, drawing open his lover to slide into place and let his warm breath play across hard flesh and when he could hear Illya's voice break he finally opened his mouth over his lover and swallowed Illya's hard cock, delighting in how his partner's hips rose off the bed and he slid his hands under his lover to squeeze that firm ass with both hands, kneading as he continued to suck in long slow strokes and Illya was reduced to moans and lost his words entirely.
Illya reached down and pulled at Napoleon's shoulders, "Padazhdi, wait, Napoleon, wait." Illya rolled his partner with him until they had traded positions and he had Napoleon under him. "Together, lyubov, I want us together, this time."
"Because you promise there is a next time, yes, partner mine, come with me." Napoleon pushed his hips up and the slick rub of cock on cock made them both moan. Napoleon opened his knees and Illya nestled against him, a move they had perfected, a dance they had indulged many times, a hunger that was never satisfied. Illya linked hands with his partner, fingers locked together against the pillows over their heads, the surrender was to one another and to the pleasure and to the need.
With every slide against his partner's skin, Illya repeated the word 'mine' and over and over Napoleon answered 'yes' until there were no words and there was simply sensation, and Illya kissed Napoleon again, finally, and the circuit connected and they were fireworks and they were light and they were each other's world, for the barest moment.
"Don't forget you took Delia to that new bistro after the affair in Idaho. And Natalie before that."
"Are you certain I need to send chocolates to all of them?"
"At least the last several, I'd say two months worth."
"How do you remember all this? I have to look at my calendar and half the time you remember several more than I manage." Napoleon gave his partner a sidelong look with an extra helping of raised eyebrow.
"Name the last three women I took out."
"That's easy, you never take anyone out. Well, you did take April to the Christmas party when Mark was stuck on that stake out. And then there was Clare, you took her to the opening of that jazz club. You took Delia out before I did, for Greek if I remember correctly."
"You know you remember exactly."
"Point made. I will send chocolates to all the girls I have taken on dates for the last two months."
Illya looked satisfied. The smug look he gave Napoleon made his partner wince. "You realize that it is only my skills at subterfuge that have kept your cover for so long."
"My cover? I have no idea what you are talking about." For all his bluster, Napoleon knew his partner was right. Left to his own devices, Napoleon would already have stopped dating the legion of secretaries and receptionists and nurses and whoever else he came across at headquarters. Illya was the one who insisted that they continue to date others, that it would just be easier if the leopard didn't appear to change his spots. Of course, that wasn't difficult for Illya, he so rarely dated in any case. Once every couple of months he asked one of the lab assistants or one of the girls in communications out for a meal or an evening of jazz and he fulfilled his quota. Napoleon, on the other hand, had a rather busy reputation to uphold. Napoleon sat half a dozen boxes of chocolates on the counter. Illya sat one. The rectangular boxes were filled to the brim with individually wrapped candies; the bear that was the city's namesake was most frequently pictured on the wrappers. The colorful boxes were cheerful and festive, the perfect gift that wasn't too personal nor not enough. He arranged for them to be sent to a mail drop that was set up for his undercover identity, and asked that Illya's be included with the shipment, no use sending two packages internationally. Then he added another few boxes, he would give them to his sister and aunt. He figured he may as well enjoy the extravagant budget while he could.
"We have a train to catch, Leo." Illya reminded him that he was supposed to be in character.
"Indeed, Karl, you're right, we should go."
"Did you pack anything but black for this trip?"
"What's wrong with black? It's easy to keep clean and doesn't show the bl..." Illya stopped himself. "It's very forgiving when one is busy."
Halfway through the train trip between cities it occurred to Napoleon that Illya may not have come across from New York with outings and nightlife in mind. Napoleon laughed out loud at the look on his lover's face.
"We are going shopping, before we get to the hotel, even. I'm not going to go out with you looking like a cat burglar," Napoleon reached over and stroked a lock of bright hair off Illya's forehead. "Though it is a look that you wear very well. Very well indeed."
Illya's only response was to roll his eyes, though leaning into his lover's touch rather spoiled the effect.
True to his word, Napoleon pulled Illya into the first upscale menswear shop he found. If the tailor was disturbed by the shoulder holster, he didn't show it, and in fact seemed unfazed by their request to adjust the fit of the jacket to hide it. It was obviously not the first time he had done a custom job for a gun wearing client, as he made several suggestions of styles that worked best with a holster.
Napoleon insisted on the silk blend suit in both black, to please Illya, and a grey that had a faint blue sheen to it. The grey was his favourite and he paid the tailor extra to make the adjustments in a hurry and guarantee delivery to the hotel by end of business day. The shop owner was happy to oblige the American, and happier still with the tip. Napoleon also chose a dark blue silk shirt for himself and a few exquisite Egyptian cotton dress shirts for both himself and his partner. The tailor promised a custom fit and delivery the next afternoon to their hotel.
"You are entirely too pleased with yourself, Leo." Illya said when they had left the shop.
"Thank you for noticing, Karl." Napoleon grinned.
At the hotel they checked in, then followed the bellhop to the elevator.
"I have an uncle that lives in America," the bellhop said.
"Do you now?" Napoleon and Illya exchanged a look.
"I do. He is a very powerful uncle, I don't get to visit him often. I have only been to New York to see him once, many years ago."
"Perhaps we could send a postcard to him for you, when we return to the states," Napoleon offered.
"That would be wonderful. I happen to have his address here." The bellhop took a folded piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to Napoleon. Illya leaned close to read the message along with his partner.
Cameras in bedroom and living area, no sound. Nothing in bath. Balcony is free of cameras but can be compromised from across the park. Not Ours. Elevator clean. Uncle Alex sends best wishes.
"I, too, have an Uncle Alex. Perhaps we are distant cousins?" Napoleon asked.
"It could be so."
"We won't be able to call in reports in the room, and we can't be sure that we won't be followed." Illya observed.
"There will be a team nearby, should you leave an itinerary for your day with the laundry, and call down for extra towels in the morning. It's the best we can do for now. We have several cousins at work in the hotel this week for your stay. But we also don't know if any of the employees are on the payroll of someone else. Gisela will be bringing your towels in the morning and picking up laundry. Be sure you only give it to her."
The elevator came to a stop and there was a young woman in a maid's uniform walking by. She smiled at them as she went past with a cart, stopping at a door halfway down the hall.
The bellhop led them to her, opening the door with a key that he handed over to Napoleon.
"Did you bring the extra towels that our guests requested, Gisela?"
"Yes of course, Ludwig, just as you wanted."
She took a stack of snowy white towels off the top of the cart. "Shall I just put them in the bath for you gentlemen?"
"Thank you, Gisela, that's very kind of you," Illya smiled at her.
"Ludwig, you have been most helpful. We are expecting some deliveries from a tailor shop, could you see that they make it up here safely? One today and another tomorrow." Napoleon showed the young man the card from the tailor shop. "I'd hate for anything to go astray."
"I'll see to it personally, sir."
Napoleon tipped them both, grinning when they saw the large denomination of the notes.
"I'm sorry, is that not correct? I don't leave home very often I'm afraid. Is that not how it is done outside of America?"
"Oh, sir is most generous, danke." Gisela smiled even brighter than before.
"No, sir, you have done well, I thank you." Ludwig smiled just as wide, perhaps with a little knowing wink.
"Excellent, we're expecting a grey suit to be delivered later from the tailor. Perhaps when you bring it up you could recommend a good restaurant for dinner tonight."
"Absolutely, sir, I look forward to helping you find your way in Zurich."
"Until then, Ludwig," Napoleon nodded to him, then Gisela, "and good day to you, my dear."
Ushering them out, Illya shut and locked the door.
"Did you think they would ever leave?"
"Napoleon chuckled and then met Illya as he walked back into the sitting area. He leaned close and whispered in his lover's ear, "Showtime now or later?"
"Now and later?" Illya asked and leaned back to look at his partner with a glimmer of challenge in his eye, and a hint of laughter.
"That is one of the things I have always enjoyed about you, partner mine, your opportunism." Napoleon leaned toward his lover and kissed him, then pulled him toward the bedroom.
Knowing that there were cameras and that they were deliberately trying to lure their prey into making a move, Napoleon had thought that there would be an awkward moment or some self conscious fumbling, or at least some hesitation. Yet, there wasn't; there was only his lover. There was only the cool cotton of sheets under him, against his bare skin, soft and yielding as he and his lover were not.
Illya covered Napoleon's bare skin with his own, kissing and caressing and nipping, kneading and taking and marking. His mouth and hands were everywhere, pressing his lover into the bed, growling sounds deep in his throat as he reacquainted himself with Napoleon again as if they had been parted too long since their waking that morning and the sweet joining they had shared. He worked his way down the broad expanse of chest to strong thighs, nipping kisses behind knees and all the way to ankles before working his way back up, fastening his lips and teeth on the soft skin where thigh met torso and sucking a mark there as his hands stroked Napoleon's hard cock and then cupped his balls to squeeze so lightly, working him into more of a desperate need. He licked and kissed his way across his lover's belly, feeling Napoleon respond with a shaking want he mirrored.
Napoleon rolled his lover under him, taking back the control he hadn't meant to give, not right away in any case. He repaid Illya in kind, tasting and stroking his lover's skin, breath heavy in Illya's ear when he nipped the lobe then soothed his tongue around the small curve of cartilage above. Illya had the most delicate ears, perfect, but surprising to Napoleon, who delighted in teasing them, feeling the shiver his breath could cause, the sharp inhale in his lover's ear triggering a quake all the way to Illya's toes. He moved his mouth down then, sucking the pulse of his lover's carotid artery then sliding again, along a collar bone and across the strong chest to lave and nip and suckle one nipple, then the other, Illya's neck arched and growls rumbled the chest under Napoleon's hands and mouth. Napoleon responded with the sharp bite he knew Illya wanted, worrying one nipple with his teeth and the other pinched between finger and thumb, causing his lover to arch under him and cry out, demanding more and harder in several languages.
Hands fisted in his short hair, an impressive feat in itself, and he was pulled up into a fierce kiss, a soul wrenching drinking of his mouth, a demanding tongue plundering and he gave as good as he was given, tasting and taking and flowing with the roll his lover executed, finding himself straddled and pinned, kiss never broken. Their breathing synchronized even as their rocking together became a familiar rhythm. Illya pulled his mouth away from Napoleon's. His voice was low and harsh with breathlessness and need when he whispered in Napoleon's ear that he wanted him, needed him, demanded to have him. Napoleon could do little else but groan and pull Illya to himself, fingers digging into the cheeks of Illya's ass to press him closer, teeth bared and gritting out his own want and desire as blood pounded hard against his ears, the throbbing of his pulse matching the demanding push of his lover.
Illya released him briefly, and Napoleon was cold suddenly, watching with slitted eyes as Illya dumped his shaving kit to find the vial of lubricant, then warmed when his lover returned to blanket him again with his body. The sunlight slanting in through the curtains burnished Illya's hair and Napoleon was dazzled by it as he watched Illya pull off the cap and take a handful of useful slickness and start to stroke him with it.
Illya stopped him with a kiss, a surprisingly tender kiss for all the aggressive foreplay, and the abrupt switch in mood disarmed Napoleon for a moment.
Then Illya was straddling him again and sinking over him, taking him hilt deep in one smooth stroke and Napoleon's back arched, pushing himself as deep as Illya could take him with a moan of need fulfilled. Illya let out a cry himself as the stimulation caused his own arching and Napoleon reached to stroke his partner's hard length as Illya rocked on him, driving them both to the crashing end of endurance and orgasm struck them like a blow, leaving them gasping and tumbled in a heap on the rumpled cotton sheets with sunlight gilding them both.
Tangled together with each other and in the cool cotton and lowering sunlight, they dozed.
The sound of the shower roused Illya and he found his way to the bath where Napoleon was testing the water temperature. Napoleon flicked his wet fingers at his partner, looking over one shoulder at him and grinning.
"The water's fine, won't you join me?" he stepped under the spray, still grinning.
Illya joined him and they took their time soaping and shampooing and sliding against each other, arousal just under the surface, waiting for another opportunity to rise.
Illya slid his soap slick hands down his partner's back, kneading the strength there, pressing into Napoleon and opening his mouth to place a nip on one shoulder. When Napoleon moaned and pushed back against him he pressed a bit harder, teeth worrying the flesh and tongue soothing.
Knowing the shower would block any sound, just in case the recon team had missed a microphone, Napoleon risked using his lover's real name, "Illya, I want you inside me, here, now."
Illya bit harder, causing Napoleon to push against him again, closer, grinding his ass against Illya's very hard cock, making it clear he was not going to take no for any kind of answer.
Illya positioned his lover and eased his fingers between his cheeks, opening him and then replacing those fingers with his cock, easing in and not surprised when Napoleon pushed back, demanding a faster pace, but he was having none of that. He held Napoleon's hips and set a maddeningly slow pace for them, enjoying the sounds of his lover's need and the feel of him under his hands.
Napoleon leaned his head on one arm against the slick tile and the other hand he placed over Illya's on his hip. Illya linked their fingers together and the other hand he slid around to stroke Napoleon's hard cock, increasing his rhythm bit by bit until they were both gasping their need. Illya bit again, the opposite shoulder, giving Napoleon a matching set of impressions, marking him as his.
Napoleon pushed back and this time Illya let him increase the pace, matching with his hand on Napoleon, feeling the grip of his partner's hand and hearing the hitch in his breathing, knowing he was close. He growled out his command then, "Come for me, Napoleon, come for me."
And with a few more stokes, Napoleon gave Illya what he wanted, his orgasm an explosion of cries and Illya followed him, leaning in hard to fill his lover as deep as he could.
The water was still warm and they took their time washing each other once more, with loving strokes and small wordless sounds, connecting the way they always did, with looks and touches.
Napoleon stood at the cabinet that passed for a bar, wearing only a towel slung around hips and Illya was returning spilled items to his shaving kit when a knock came on the hotel room door. Illya was in the sitting room in an instant. Napoleon looked his partner up and down and grinned. "I think I'll get the door."
Illya frowned and grabbed the towel from around his neck and emulated Napoleon's hipslung attire.
Usually one or both of them would approach the door armed, but that might not look good on the surveillance photos. Then they heard the familiar voice of Ludwig. "Delivery, Mr. Anthony."
Illya went back to the bath and retrieved one of the robes provided by the hotel, slipping it on and tying the belt as he went to the door.
Napoleon shrugged and started for the bath himself. Ludwig entered with a garment bag and if seeing a guest in nothing but a towel was a new experience he didn't show it. What did show was a moment's appreciation of the muscled chest and rock hard thighs. Illya suppressed a frown and gave Ludwig a completely neutral expression.
Napoleon rejoined them, robed, and Illya took the bagged suit from Ludwig to hang it in the closet.
"Here is a list of some of the nicer restaurants in the area," he said, handing over a typed list. "I have made some notes there about what style of cuisine, if you were looking for something specific." He smiled. "I took the liberty of making reservations at one of the best, if you like, but I can certainly change that if you'd rather choose for yourself. I marked it there, at the top."
Illya returned and looked at the list in his partner's hands, a handwritten note at the top told them that the reservation was for the same place that Roxley and his companion had been seen several times. A few nightclubs were also on the list with notes explaining that the dead men had also been seen at them as well.
Napoleon looked up from the list. "Thank you, that will be quite acceptable."
"I am happy to be of service, sir." Ludwig left with another smile, pulling the door shut behind himself. Illya went to secure the lock.
The suit looked better than Napoleon remembered. Illya wore one of his black turtleneck sweaters with it, the shoulder holster blending in nicely with the whole look. The faint blue cast of the grey made his partner's eyes seem a much deeper blue.
Napoleon chose a lighter grey suit for himself. The tailor had sent along the dark blue silk shirt, alterations complete on it as well. Napoleon left off his usual tie and liked the look he ended up with, somewhat more casual than was his usual choice, but fitting for his cover persona.
"You wear that to work and you'll have a lot more dates than usual. You could catch up with me." Napoleon whispered in Illya's ear, then grinned at the frown Illya threw him. "Dinner awaits, Karl."
"Good, you'll need it to keep up your strength for later when I peel you out of that decadent silk, Leo."
"Why, Karl, if I didn't know better I might think that was a compliment."
Illya leaned close, "Careful, or you won't be getting any dinner until much later tonight, my friend." There was a mischievous look lurking in his partner's eyes that fired Napoleon's blood immediately.
"I might hold you to that." Napoleon spoke equally quietly with the same glint in his eyes.
"I'd rather you hold me to something else."
"Indeed, partner mine, I will." Napoleon smoothed bright hair over Illya's temple and smiled a wicked message.
Napoleon slid the paper the other agent had dropped off into his wallet, then checked his weapon and slipped into his leather coat. Watching as Illya slipped into his own coat, a soft dark cashmere that had been a birthday gift from Napoleon, he caught a glimpse of the two of them in the long mirror. They looked well matched, and Napoleon wished for a quick moment that they could indeed always be as they were tonight, together and not caring who saw it. He suppressed that want, and the sigh that accompanied it.
For three days they spent mornings visiting banks and afternoons wandering the city, picking out souvenirs and acting like tourists. Evenings were spent dining out and enjoying the nightlife of Zurich. The nights were reserved for one another. Every night spent in one another's arms, every night falling asleep together and waking in the wee hours to touch and stroke and enjoy, every night sealed with their mouths and hands and bodies speaking what they couldn't elsewhere voice.
The last morning in Zurich they woke early, spooned together as they always were when waking in the same bed. Before his partner could comment, Napoleon had pulled Illya under him, covering him in feather light kisses and deft strokes with fingers and palms. His smile was fierce and predatory when he felt Illya respond to him, arch under him and start to stroke his hair and down his back and then grip his shoulders as he moved lower to taste his lover.
He took his time relaxing and opening his lover, preparing him and exciting him, until Illya was repeating only the words 'now' and 'please' in several languages, some of which Napoleon hadn't known that his partner could speak. Finally he crawled up, kissing his way up Illya's body, stopping to tease and stroke his belly, strong chest, wiry shoulders, finally kissing him deeply, tongue previewing what soon their bodies would mimic.
Illya was pushing up to him even as he stroked slowly into the heat of his lover's body, Napoleon was certain that he would be melted to the core by that furnace, and he would gladly let that happen, if only it could. He kept a slow pace at first, stroking almost all the way out and plunging in again, watching his partner's eyes darken each time he hit Illya's prostate and feeling Illya's cock jump with the shock.
He wrapped one hand around that hard flesh and started to increase the speed of his thrusts in time with his stroking. Napoleon leaned close and his whisper was hoarse in his lover's ear, "Come for me, mon chat, moyo sertse, my heart, come for me now." And Illya did, arching again with darkened eyes closing as he exploded for Napoleon, flooding his hand and slicking their bellies with thick fluid. The tightening of all Illya's muscles pulled his own orgasm out of Napoleon and he cried out as his own release arched him over Illya one more time and he spent himself deep.
They showered, as they had every morning, together. There was an unusual silence; Illya finally broke it, soaping his partner's back, then pressing himself against the wet length of his lover.
"You are very quiet, my friend."
"You don't usually mind." Napoleon leaned one arm on the wet tile, and it reminded him of their first afternoon in this hotel. The memory was already bittersweet.
"I usually know the reason." Warm water continued to flow, closing them from the world and the possibility of being heard.
Napoleon turned, leaning his back against the cool tile, gathering his lover to him, his voice low in Illya's ear. "Do you ever wonder what it would be like, if the world were different? If it were more of a live and let love place rather than, ah, the way it is?"
Illya was quiet, knowing there was no comfort he could offer his partner, his lover, so he leaned against him, giving him the only solace he could, his warmth close enough to touch.
"I know you take life as it comes and never question..."
Illya interrupted him, "But I do, Napoleon, I question. But the answers are always the same. Go and do, and we can only hope to be in between times."
"I apologize for my morose mood this morning. I'm tired, Illya, I was really ready for that vacation."
"As was I, my friend. It has been a very hectic few months."
"Six months with barely two days off in a row the whole time, our adversaries need to investigate the possibilities of increased production through more time off."
"I doubt that evil offers paid holidays, Napoleon."
"Was that a joke, Mr. Kuryakin?" Napoleon looked down at Illya with a grin starting at the corner of his lips.
"You do seem to bring out the worst of it in me, Mr. Solo." An answering quirk lifted Illya's mouth.
Napoleon leaned in to press a soft kiss to that half grin and then pushed them both back under the spray.
Illya finished packing and double checking again for anything left behind while Napoleon called down to the front desk.
"I'd like to hire a car for the morning, I have some business to attend to before going to the airport."
"We have a car service, sir, would that suit your needs?"
"Yes, thank you. I'll be down in fifteen minutes."
Napoleon leaned back in the chair and finished his coffee while Illya placed their bags by the door. There was one last forlorn piece of bacon on his breakfast plate, Illya walked over and stole it without asking.
"Yes, Leo, nothing has been left behind."
"Perfect." He stood, adjusted his jacket and reaching over to brush lint that wasn't there off his partner's sleeve. "Shall we then, Karl?"
Illya only nodded and turned.
In the elevator they looked like two businessmen ready for a conference of some kind, somber dark suits and crisp white shirts, conservative ties and sober expressions. At the desk they were greeted by Ludwig.
"When you have settled your bill, I will show you to your car. May I take your luggage?"
Both handed him their bags and then Napoleon conducted his business with the desk clerk.
Ludwig led them out to a side lot, surrounded by hedges and hidden from the street. "I hope you have enjoyed your stay with us, gentlemen."
"It's a lovely hotel, I will be sure to recommend it to all my friends at the club when I get home." Only Illya might be able to hear the tone that Napoleon spoke with; the one he used when talking to THRUSH agents about to torture one of them, polite and pleasant and wholly insincere. It fooled them every time.
"Your car, gentlemen." Ludwig stopped at the far corner where a man in dark chauffeur livery stood by a car, opening the trunk for the bags as they approached.
Stopping to watch the bags put into the trunk, both Illya and Napoleon were startled when the distinctive note of a communicator sounded. All four of the men reached for their pockets. The chauffeur was the prize winner.
"Beker here, sir."
"Have they arrived then?" Mr. Waverly's voice was clear as ever.
"Mr. Solo, have you decided on a bank?"
"Yes, sir," he leaned toward the communicator that Beker held toward him.
"That is good. We have found cameras in one other hotel on our list, but the room has remained unoccupied this week." No doubt UNCLE at work there, Illya and Napoleon exchanged a glance as Waverly continued. "We need you to keep the charade up a little longer, we have a residence set up and the lab where you have concocted this computer fortune maker. Someone will meet you at the airport when you return to New York with further instructions. The last man, Roxley, was contacted within the week following his return."
"And you anticipate history repeating itself?" Napoleon asked.
"Well, not all of it, I would hope." There was a pause and Napoleon imagined he could hear Waverly lighting his pipe. "Carry on, then. Unless you have anything to add?"
"No, Mr. Waverly, that seems quite clear."
"Indeed. Mr. Beker has information for you. Good luck." Another pause where they actually heard the pipe lighter click. "Mr. Ludwig, are you still with us?"
"My wife says you should tell your mother to call. Seems there is a family reunion in the making."
"Thank you sir, I will pass that along."
Beker capped the pen, replacing it in his pocket then shut the car trunk.
Napoleon raised a brow at Ludwig, who only shrugged, then added, "Uncle by marriage, actually. It has been a pleasure to work with you," he held a hand out to Illya, American style and Illya shook his hand, then Ludwig turned to Napoleon, "a real pleasure." Illya ignored that Ludwig seemed to hold that handshake with his partner a second or two longer than was usual.
Beker had moved to the car door, holding it open and the partners slid inside.
When Beker had closed himself in the car with the agents, he turned and handed them a folder, inside were pictures. All of them of the same man. "This is the man who has been observed at the hotel checking the cameras and replacing the film. We think he is just a, uh, hired flunky, as you would say, yes?"
"Close enough," Napoleon said. "He's going to lead us to the blackmailers."
"We hope, yes."
"Fine then, let's be off to the bank then, to rid myself of my ill gotten computer gains."
After depositing two-thirds of the balance of his supposed fortune into a numbered account, Napoleon rejoined Illya in the car and they were taken to the airport. They got on what appeared to be a chartered plane, but was in fact an UNCLE jet, and flew home toward New York where late Autumn had already given way to Winter temperatures and gloom.
Their temporary residences turned out to be a pair of Brownstones sharing a common garden, extraordinarily convenient for late night crossing back and forth.
"How does Waverly find these things? This is like it was made... wait..." Napoleon turned to their 'chauffeur', actually a section three agent they both knew.
"I have no idea, Mr. Solo, the old man just said that the residents agreed to a vacation and allowed UNCLE to rent the places as is," he shrugged. "We've checked them out, installed security and made sure the places were clean stem to stern of any bugs. If anything or anyone comes in with a listening or recording device or hidden camera, we'll know it. Waverly says to keep the communicator use to a minimum and make yourselves at home. Your mail will be brought from the drop off, and if you make a list, we can go to your own places and bring back anything you need, wardrobe wise. If you need to go anywhere, I will be by and get you, just phone the usual service."
"Good, I need to go to the laundry with dry cleaning and get groceries." Illya said.
"Oh, I can take your laundry to the cleaners, and the kitchens are stocked. Miss Rogers called in a list and I brought it by first."
"How efficient, wouldn't it be nice if real life were so easy?" Napoleon laughed.
They prowled their temporary new homes, acquainting themselves with exits and blind corners, setting alarms programmed with their own usual codes and trying out the keys in all the doors. They each had a set of keys to all the doors in both brownstones as well as the garage in the back garden that held the supposed laboratory where the fictional Leo invented new computer gadgetry. It really was an actual laboratory filled with components and circuits and a maze of electrical wires and delicate tools for creating miniature parts of bigger things.
They spent the first two days playing around in the lab, trying to look busy, but then Napoleon became interested in the journals and books collected there, so he spent most of his time reading speculation on computers that played chess and miniaturization of technology while Illya put some theories into practice with tiny components and lots of wire.
The mail finally arrived, so Napoleon spent a morning addressing gift cards to his last several dinner companions and slipped the cards under the ribbons of the boxes, then repacked them into the package they came in for delivery to UNCLE headquarters. The boxes he got for his family he put aside for sending later. Illya wandered through, scrawled a note for his one box of chocolates and sat it in the box Napoleon had packed.
"Is this the most boring assignment we've had?"
"Perhaps, which means we are about to be ambushed, that's what happens when we let our guard down." Illya replied.
"We come up with best and worse case scenarios and plans to counteract."
"I was afraid you'd say something like that." Napoleon said.
"You were perhaps hoping for more action and less talk?"
"I got spoiled while we were in Zurich." Napoleon spread his hands and shrugged. It was a move Illya recognized, it usually meant that Napoleon had a plan that he knew could go awry and wanted to try it anyway.
"I'll be in the lab. I want to see if I can finish that circuit board we saw diagrammed." Illya smiled as he turned toward the back hall of the house Napoleon had taken for his.
Napoleon took a plate of sandwiches and a carafe of tea out to the lab an hour later. Illya was bent over the table, soldering iron in hand, glasses sliding down his nose as he concentrated on the pile of wires and bits of metal on the table.
He looked up when Napoleon entered. "You know..."
"I've been thinking..." They spoke together and then laughed and stopped.
Illya reached over and took the mugs and carafe out of Napoleon's hand before he dropped them, Napoleon sat the plate down.
"You first, Napoleon." Illya snagged a sandwich and took a bite as Napoleon filled the mugs with tea, wisps of steam floating the fragrance of Earl Grey across to his partner.
"The kidnapping, if that is what it was, didn't net them what they wanted, I'm betting they will go back to straight up blackmail."
Illya took another bite and raised a brow at the double entendre.
"Slip of the tongue, honest." Napoleon said and took his own sandwich, but didn't take a bite. "But if they do try another kidnapping, bets are good they will take you."
"I always get the adventurous side of the deal." Illya continued to mow through his share of sandwich halves.
"As many times as you have been used as bait to lure me to certain doom, you'd think the enemy knew something."
"Are you sure they don't?"
"Not the point." Napoleon finally took a bite, but he found it difficult to swallow. For the last hour he had been thinking exactly about Illya's suggestion, best and worst cases and strategies for counteracting same. "We sleep in shifts, never in the same bedroom two nights in a row, stick as close to base as we can."
"Until they make a move or until our fellow agents follow the trail of our friendly European photographer to someone or something substantial." Napoleon sat his sandwich back down. The conversation ruined his appetite. It wasn't just anticipating the possibility of his partner getting kidnapped. It was realizing that he had gotten used to having Illya so close, gotten used to waking with him in the morning, gotten used to knowing where he was all day long, next to him.
"I think that is a little extreme, Napoleon." Illya drained his tea and poured more. "What's really bothering you?" He took a sip. He watched his partner over the rim of the cup.
"I, ah, don't want to" Napoleon stopped, the words lost as he was in his thoughts, all of them dark.
Illya sat his cup down and moved around the table to stand beside his friend. "Napoleon, I appreciate your concern. But have you considered that they might just go right to the source this time? If they do try to blackmail Leo Anthony and then want more, they may just skip right to taking you. They may decide to skip the blackmail and take you to get the account number, then once they have bled your bank accounts dry, do the same to you. They've murdered once, more likely twice now, and nothing is stopping them now from doing it again. Criminals rarely go backward in moves, and blackmail is certainly a step back from murder."
Napoleon looked over at his partner, saw that there was concern in his eyes, too, but also determination.
"I don't much enjoy being the sitting duck here, I'd rather be out there tracking these bastards."
"As would I, but we will do what is needed, as we always have. Eat your sandwich. You'll need your strength for later, you owe me a chess game."
The third time his partner got up from the chair and started to pace the perimeter of the house checking windows and doors, Illya got up and followed. Nothing had changed from the first check, everything was still buttoned up tight, no cars had appeared in the street, no dark clad burglars were lurking in the shrubbery.
Following back into the living room, Illya started turning off lights and then came at last to the chair his partner stood by, one last light on next to him.
"I should have just taken you upstairs this afternoon and avoided all this agitation."
"Too late, you missed your chance."
"I doubt it. Come to bed, Napoleon. None of this will make events happen faster, and I'm sure we need our sleep for some reason, though it certainly isn't because we have a big day planned tomorrow."
"I'll just read a bit more."
"No?" Napoleon turned to face his lover. "Just no, and I'm going to follow?"
Illya just looked at him for the longest time. "I don't have the patience tonight to make it seem like your idea, just come upstairs. Remember, we have roles to play, my friend."
"There is that."
"Of course there is. Now come upstairs."
It was an unspoken agreement that they never had sex while on a mission. They didn't need or want the distraction, and it somehow made their joining after a celebration of survival. They had played the odds and again they won. They would finish their paperwork, and as long as neither of them were trapped in Medical, go back to one of their apartments and reaffirm the life they felt thrumming in their veins. But this mission had turned all the rules over. And Illya could feel something new in his lover, almost a wistfulness that was as unfamiliar to him as his own desire for this mission to last as long as possible or to be done quickly so they could find their equilibrium again.
Illya took his time undressing his lover, something that he rarely did as they usually were tearing clothes off of one another in their fever to get skin on skin as fast as possible. He enjoyed the luxury of time while he had it, and gave his partner all the attention he could, for his own selfish reasons. He felt an unfamiliar desire for this closeness, this false peace they'd had the last week to be made real. He gave that closeness to his friend, as much as he could, and Napoleon reciprocated. It was smooth and sweet and almost as if they had never made love before, so tentative and exploring were their touches and kisses until it wasn't anymore and they were throwing themselves into the fire they created, consuming one another with every ounce of passion they had within.
After, when Napoleon was relaxed and still drifting on the glow created between them, Illya tried again.
"Napoleon, tell me what is bothering you."
"We aren't supposed to be the job. You watch my back, I watch yours, that's what we do. But we do that in the field, we do that when we're protecting witnesses or hunting targets. We aren't the targets, Illya."
There was a long silence but Illya knew there was more. He waited, simply enjoying the feel of his lover in his arms, sweat cooling between them and limbs heavy with the pleasant fatigue of very enjoyable exertion.
"And to be honest," Napoleon finally continued, his voice very quiet in the dark, "I'm enjoying this too much. I enjoy being with you. I enjoy waking up with you and going to sleep with you and knowing you're," Napoleon stopped. He did not continue.
"We spend nearly every day together, we work together, we share an office, we spend at least one night a week at your apartment or mine when we are in town, we plan vacations together that we never take, we live in one another's pocket when we are on assignment, I fail to see how we could get closer." Illya softened his words by stroking his hands down his partner's back, then up again and again, slow soothing strokes, not sensual as much as comforting.
"I hate this assignment. It's been exactly what I want and can't have."
"It's been a week."
"It's been the best and worst week. First, I knew you were there, and I couldn't talk to you or see you or share a joke or a drink, it was hell. Then you were there, and that was, it was," Napoleon's voice, already low, became a whisper. "Illya, it was every vacation we ever planned and didn't get to have, it was, ah, Illya it was perfect. And now not only is it ending, one of us is going to be at the sharp end and any other mission I could do it, face it without," Napoleon paused again, frustration plain in his harsh whisper.
"Every other mission we've ever been on, we were always the sharp end. And we will be again."
"Yes, we will. I really dislike this impotent waiting."
"Impotent you are not, my friend."
That startled a laugh from his partner. "Illya, honestly, I'm in a mood, let me have it. I let you have your sulks."
"Barely," Illya said.
"But you are so attractive when you sulk, and then even more so when you let me cajole you out of it."
There was a muffled sound, one that should not have been heard in the quiet bedroom.
Instantly they each rolled in opposite directions, guns out from under pillows and in hand as they each scrambled for discarded clothing. The illuminated bedside clock read shortly after one in the morning.
Dressed in nothing more than the casual slacks they had worn that day and shoeless, they were stealth itself creeping down the stairs of the brownstone that Illya had claimed. Nearing the bottom of the staircase, they could just make out the door to the garden, where someone was working on opening the door. Each of them took cover in a doorway and waited. Only one figure came in the door. Napoleon signaled his partner to wait, and when he drew even, Napoleon shot him and he fell.
They waited a few more moments, but there was no one following. Illya secured the back door and Napoleon called it in on his communicator.
The retrieval team arrived before the sleep dart wore off, they carried the mystery guest out the back while Illya and Napoleon dressed to go in to headquarters with the team.
It took another two days to round up the rest of the blackmailing, and now murder, suspects and both Napoleon and Illya were happy to write their reports as quickly and accurately as possible. Waverly was finally satisfied and released them for a weekend of possibly deserved rest. They had all their things reclaimed from the brownstones, some of the section three team coming in to put things back that had been moved and change the security codes. With a promise to meet up later, Illya and Napoleon went their separate ways to do the post mission errands they usually had, groceries, cleaners, things that none of the other agents were going to be taking care of for them this time around.
Napoleon opened his front door to find that his security readout indicated he was home, that meant Illya had let himself in. Napoleon hung his cleaning on the coat rack and removed his leather coat.
When he moved from the hall he found a tiny paper swan on the floor. It was the lopsided one, the last he had made back in Bern when Illya was tailing him, watching his back. He smiled and picked it up and carefully put it on a nearby bookshelf. In another step, he found a second paper swan. He continued to follow the trail, each time picking up the delicate paper creatures and sitting them aside. Finally the trail led to the bedroom, as he knew it would.
Illya was sitting against the headboard, a book laying across his lap.
"I never had a chance to ask, what was the purpose of them?"
"I knew you were watching, following along. I thought I'd blaze a trail, just in case." Napoleon looked a little embarrassed to be admitting it.
Illya held out his hand and Napoleon walked to him, taking that hand and allowing himself to be drawn down to his partner, his lover, his friend.
Illya kissed him, hard and fierce and it was the first peek of sunlight over the horizon at dawn or the first hard rain of Spring that coaxed trees to bud green. To Napoleon it felt like every good thing in his world.
Illya leaned back, breaking the kiss and taking Napoleon's face in his hands, looking deep into those dark eyes he loved so much to watch, and watched closely now, knowing that this was a very important question.
"Why swans, Napoleon?"
"They mate for life, Illya."