The Check and Mate Affair

by Spikesgirl58

He sat back, settling into the dark leather of the chair the way a vulture settles onto a branch, hungry, expectant and anxious. The air was thick with cigar, pipe, and cigarette smoke. It created dim rings around lamps, making them hazy. Voices were muted to just murmurs by the atmosphere, the heavy velvet curtains and tapestries. Heavy, muffled, oppressed, and exactly the sort of atmosphere Napoleon Solo did some of his best thinking in.

He studied the chess board before him and pursed his lips in thought. His opponent, buried deep in his own chair, watched him with care, as if Napoleon might suddenly upset the board or attempt to shift a piece.

He slid his rook over and removed a pawn. Immediately the man opposite him sat forward and frowned.

You weren't expecting that, were you my friend?

"So tell me, Herr Docktor. What do you think of this new scheme of theirs?"

"Scheme, Herr Commandant? You say scheme, I hear possible potential."

"We are speaking of the bipolar, infinitely diversified manifold coupler?"

"As you will," Napoleon murmured, inclining his head. "A brilliant if slightly avant-garde interpretation of an old problem."

"Do you think they have even the smallest chance of success?" He slid his knight forward and removed Napoleon's rook. He carried it back to his nest of leather and cigar smoke.

"Success... what is success exactly but the overwhelming absence of failure? Do I believe they will triumph over this issue? That is for someone else braver and with considerably less sense to decide than you or I. Rather I think we should poise ourselves upon the brink, ready to applaud their success and yet prepared to distance ourselves in the event of their failure. We must be neither the pursuer nor the pursued in this situation. Check."

The man frowned and sat forward sharply, his eyes scanning the board frantic for a way of escape. "So you say we must hold back our support?"

"Just the opposite, we must give the appearance of confidence in their work, herald their thoughts as brilliant."

"You are dazzling me with your insight, Herr Docktor." He moved his queen out of jeopardy. "But confusing me as well. Check."

"We must neither get too close nor drift too far."

A waiter walked up balancing a tray on one hand. He gathered up their empty brandy glasses and replaced them with fresh ones. He deftly flourished a lighter one-handed to light Napoleon's cigar. "Will there be anything else, gentlemen?"

"No, I think we're fine, vielen dank."

The waiter nodded and moved quietly away, disappearing into the haze.

"That one, a vision of our dedication to a master race. We should recruit him."

"Him?" Napoleon shook his head. "He's too small, zu mager. He wouldn't survive one winter. Not exactly what our fuehrer would have considered prime stock, eh?" Napoleon shifted his queen. "Check again, mien commandant. Your mind is not on the game tonight."

"Perhaps." Then he grinned widely. "Checkmate. You left yourself completely open."

"Ah, that is why I am but a humble servant to you. I am not a strategist," Napoleon murmured, dipping his head in gracious defeat. His head ached and he craved fresh air. Instead, he settled back in his own leather chair and swirled the brandy, giving in fact the opposite impression.

"So we wait."

"And we watch... very carefully." He raised his glass and sipped the amber liquid. "One cannot rush into such adventures without diligence."

He walked slowly to the coat room and collected his top coat, hat and gloves. Slipping his hand into the right one, he felt a bit of paper and smiled. Right on time, Napoleon thought as he climbed into the town car and savored the quietness.

As the driver rounded the car and slid behind the wheel, he caught Napoleon's eye in the rearview mirror.

"Everything all right tonight, guv?"

Napoleon pulled out the slip of paper from the glove and smoothed it out. Hotel bar, 12:30 was written in Illya's deliberate hand. "I think everything is going exactly to plan, Mark."

Napoleon had just enough time to rush up to his room and wash a night of smoke out of his hair and from his skin. He didn't bother to do anything more than pull a comb through his dark hair and hurriedly dressed in slacks and a sweater.

He hit the threshold of the bar at exactly 12:30 and looked around. In the corner sat a familiar figure, shoulders stooped, head drooping forward, giving the illusion of complete and utter exhaustion.

Napoleon slid into the chair across from his partner and waited for Illya to come back to life. The blond hair formerly slicked back was now a wild bird's nest and the black-rimmed glasses gave Illya a befuddled look.

"You're late," he grumbled, sipping his beer.

"I'm exactly on time." Napoleon held his watch out to show him and Illya shook his wrist and swore softly.

"This is the last time I buy American," he muttered. "You and Commandant Rankin seem to have hit it off."

"He likes that I lose to him in chess."

"You never lose to me in chess." Illya picked up a handful of olives and ate a couple.

"You I respect as an opponent and you do win on occasion."

"Only when you let me." Illya spit the pits into his hand and dumped them onto the small plate provided.

Napoleon picked up the second glass on the table and sniffed it delicately. "Whiskey?"

"Single malt, I didn't know what you were drinking now."

"You are becoming quite adept with that lighter by the way. Gotten any good shots?"

"Not really. Enough to identify Herr Rankin, possibly enough to hang him, not sure. How's your fishing been?"

"The more I advise caution, the more their interest piques. I suspect within the next day or two, they will be approaching THRUSH."

"Excellent. This gig is making my feet hurt... and my back."

"Word of caution, Rankin thinks your genetic material would be an agreeable addition to the Master Plan."

"Thanks, but I'm using all my genetic material right now. He can have it when I'm through."

"Just wanted to give you a heads up about accepting rides from strangers. He had a look about him."

"No riding with strange men, understood." Illya finished his beer and stood. "I will tell you one thing; I am taking away a whole new appreciation for waiters."

"I imagine April says the same thing. She looked very comely in her little maid outfit."

"She hears you say that and she'll rip your tonsils out and use them as a paperweight."

"Anything else?"

"Not really. They are nervous about something. I think they are beginning to get suspicious. My thought is the faster you sell it and we pull out of there, the better."

"You, Illya, running from a fight?"

"Not a fight, necessarily, but I prefer to avoid car wrecks. Tell Mark to go over your vehicle very carefully tomorrow morning." Illya looked down at his watch again and sighed. "Or rather this morning. If you will excuse me, I have an early shift. If I go to bed now, I might actually be able to sleep three hours before I have to get up again."

Napoleon reached out and put a hand beneath Illya's chin, studying his partner's face. "Are you all right, Illya? You look... what? Tired, concerned, annoyed?"

"All of the above." Illya pulled back slowly, offering Napoleon a brief, unguarded smile. "Just be careful?"

"And you." Napoleon watched Illya get to his feet and move wearily out of the room. There was something odd about his partner tonight. No, not just tonight, starting about three days earlier. He shook the thought from his head. Illya was a big boy and more than capable of taking care of himself. Napoleon squelched a yawn and stood himself.

He was quickly gone from the room, as if a man on a mission, unaware that he was being observed by the bartender.

The man reached for a phone, dialed a number and then spoke quietly. "He was here again with the blond man. I think you are right, Herr Commandant."

Rankin sat across from him, his eyes fairly glistening as he studied the chess pieces. Finally he advanced a pawn, not to capture but as an obvious sacrifice.

Too obvious, Napoleon thought and countered by moving one of his. Not a sacrifice, but a neutral gesture.

"So tell me, Herr Docktor, did you sleep well last night? Was it satisfying?"

"I did, thank you." Napoleon was desperate to leave the board and wander the room, in appearances trolling for news, in reality trying to get a word with Illya. His partner was to everyone else just as he'd been all week, quiet, obedient, and efficient, but Napoleon noticed weariness in his movements, something only someone vastly familiar with him would see.

Worse, he'd been reassigned to a station well away from Napoleon. Even though they couldn't talk, that momentary connection of eyes was reassuring.

"Your game seems to be off tonight, Herr Docktor." Rankin advanced his rook. "You are having second thoughts about the device?"

"Second? Oh no, Herr Commandant, third and fourth thoughts by now." Napoleon let his knight remove the rook easily and hid a smile at the flash of annoyance in Rankin's eyes. He then mentally chastised himself to not let Rankin lose. It was hard for Napoleon. He was a natural leader, a strategist and he did not like to lose—at anything.

"Do tell, Herr Docktor. If you have concerns..."

"Not concerns, exactly. It's just the overwhelming lack of information. If no one knows what you are up to, how can we be assured that what we are seeing is what we are really seeing and not merely what they want us to be seeing."

"You see in circles, Herr Docktor." A knight this time and the swift capture of a pawn.

"Exactly my point, my dear Rankin, anything can be defined as a success or a failure if one is unsure which is which." Napoleon put his rook on the chopping block this time. A stranger approached carrying a tray and set two drinks down.

"Someone new this evening," Rankin said, smiling through the wreath of smoke he was wearing. "Where is our little friend?" He sat up and glanced, oh so obviously, around the room. Warning bells started going off in Napoleon's head and he ached to shout a warning to Illya. Instead he relaxed back into his chair, uncomfortable old thing that it was, and put on an air of dismissal.

"One is very much the same as another here, I would suspect. Perhaps this one will be a bit more efficient and faster to refill our glasses. The other one... beautiful, but dismal. I suspect they keep him here out of loyalty to the family. That can be the only reason."

It was not the reaction Rankin wanted, that was obvious. "The tests are tomorrow. You will be there?"

"Somewhere in the back, I should think. In my line of work, it is better to be part of the background than sitting astride a stallion and waving a banner." He sipped the brandy. "If they were to know I was... interested, you would lose all your bargaining power."

"They fear you?"

"Just the opposite; were they to know I was part of this, their attention would be considerable. They would tell you everything you want to know and a good deal of things that you don't. My role, rather, should be that of a magician who offers you a deck of cards, makes you pick exactly the card he wants and then makes you believe it was at random."

"I understand." The black queen moved. "Check."

"You are in exceptional form tonight, Herr Commandant."

"Or your mind is not on the game, but rather with something or someone else..."

Napoleon moved his white knight to the rescue. "I don't know what you mean."

"It's obvious that you... are distracted. Check again." He leaned forward and offered Napoleon a Cuban cigar. Napoleon took it, inhaled the aroma and nodded his thanks. Rankin looked around and then raised his hand and snapped his fingers as Napoleon raised the cigar to his mouth. A second later, there was a flare of light almost in front of his nose and Napoleon flicked a look up.

Illya looked bone weary, but the hand that held the lighter was rock steady. Even so, Napoleon reached out to capture it and move the lighter closer as he lit the cigar. The warm flesh calmed him and gave him a chance to center himself and his confidence again. He blew a cloud of smoke and nodded.


"You're welcome," Illya said flatly and then vanished. Napoleon watched after him with what he hoped was a detached air of non-concern.

"And now, perhaps, your game will take on a bit more of an edge."

"Excuse me?"

"Now that you have had a moment with your blond." Rankin grinned and patted Napoleon's forearm. "Not to worry, Herr Docktor. Your secret is safe with me."

Napoleon carefully kept his face bland, free of reaction. "I'm afraid I don't understand."

"It's rather straight forward, Herr Doctor. Being a skilled chess player, I am used to studying my opponents, looking for a weakness. I am fast to exploit it to my favor. I have now found yours. You see, you can control your facial features, your speech, but you can't control your eyes, my friend. They give you away every time he's near." Rankin leaned back into his chair and crossed his legs, toying with the crease in one trouser leg. "And for a small, very affordable price, I can see that he is delivered to you, lock, stock, and barrel. Or be removed with equal ease."

Napoleon's stomach clenched. "Choose your words with care, Herr Commandant. I do not like what you are suggesting."

"Like it or not, you want him, for whatever nefarious reasons are yours alone."

"Your price?"

"I want the demonstration to be a tremendous success. That would put me in considerable favor with my superiors, a raise, a new home in the country, a place for a man of my capacities to stretch both his mind and his... appetite. To have it fail after my people take control, that would be neither my fault nor my concern."

"And if I refuse?"

"You will have to permanently make do with a new waiter. His transfer to a distant facility would be of little consequence to anyone here. In fact, no one else would probably even notice."

"You are... blackmailing me, Herr Rankin?

"No, Herr Docktor. I am winning, at any cost. Do not disappoint me." He moved one last piece, then stood. "Checkmate."

The lack of a note in his left glove started a small pit of concern roiling about Napoleon's guts. Yet no one would know, certainly not from the walk he walked, confident and polished, from the men's club.

The wait for his car was brief and the doorman held the door open. Napoleon climbed in and flicked a confirming glance to the front seat. Another surprise—strange, apparently uninterested eyes watched him.

"Where's my regular driver?" he asked, keeping his voice even.

"Had a bit of an emergency from what I understand. I am Commandant Rankin's driver. He asked that I drive you back to your hotel."

"He's very generous," Again, Napoleon carefully adjusted his features to reveal nothing. Mark was out of the picture? This was not a good sign. He leaned back and crossed his legs as the car moved out. He noted that at least they were headed in the direction of the hotel. He wondered if Rankin would try to contain him before the tests tomorrow. To go to such extremes told Napoleon just how anxious and foolhardy this man was. If he wanted to be in league with THRUSH, Napoleon was only too happy to comply.

The limo pulled to a smooth stop in front of the hotel and Napoleon climbed out, sighing. It had been a long day, it might be an even longer night.

His immediate thought was to head for his room and try to raise either Mark or Illya on their communicators, but he realized now that that was what the Commandant wanted; their desperation. Well, his bishop and white knight might be gone... let's see about his queen.

He walked into the hotel, through the lobby, and disappeared from view, a trick any good spy learns early on in the game. In fact, Rankin's men, their faces familiar from the men's club passed just inches from where Napoleon stood. He listened to their instructions to each other and moved in the opposite direction as soon as the opportunity presented itself. If Rankin wanted to play, Napoleon was certainly up to the task.

He slipped by the restaurant cloak room, exchanged his easily spotted jacket for a horrible plaid thing with an equally horrible hat and paused by an ash tray. It had been emptied earlier, but the bottom was still black with the residue of snuffed out cigarettes. A quick look left and right and he sneezed, his hand accidently going into the ashtray. He muttered a curse and shook his hand almost cartoonishly in case anyone had even noticed him. Then he melted into the background, out into the night, smearing the ash along his jaw. In the dark, it camouflaged his features enough so that he walked by Rankin's men without a flash of recognition from them.

It took him just minutes to find a quiet bench along the river. He brought out his communicator and opened it.

"Open Channel D please. Priority level A. April, are you there?" The seconds dragged by and he tried again. "April?"

"Yes, Napoleon?" The voice was slurred with sleep. "Trouble?"

"I think we've lost Mark and Illya to them."

"What? How?" She was awake now and, Napoleon knew, already hastily dressing.

"Not sure, but Rankin wants a positive report tomorrow and is willing to barter Illya for it."

"He's completely unaware of who you are, of course?"

"Of course, he thinks Illya's my paramour." There was a choking sound on the other end of the communicator and Napoleon now did panic. "April??"

"Sorry, bad visual there. What would you like to do?"

"As far as I can tell, there is no connection between the two of us in his mind, so I need you to do a bit of mousing for me." A couple walked by and Napoleon hunched over apparently involved in something less than savory. A noise of disgust and they walked quickly past. "I have no problem with Rankin playing me. I just want to make sure he's good to his word and no harm comes to Mark or Illya. Can you meet me?"

"Where are you?"

"The path along the river. There's a burnt-out street light, I'm two benches north of it."

He'd wrapped himself in thought against the events he knew were coming, so much so that April's voice almost startled him, almost...

"Napoleon?" Napoleon saw her eyes widen as she took in the coat, hat and his ash-smeared face. She handed him something, an envelope, he realized, as he took it. "I took the liberty of turning down your sheets this evening. There is a microphone in your bedside lamp and another in the bathroom. That was on the floor of your room."

Napoleon dumped Illya's medallion out into his hand. It was so worn that it was hard to make out the image or lettering. "His grandmother gave him this. He wouldn't take it off voluntarily. Sadly, it also has a transmitter in it. Had he still been wearing it, it would have been easy to track him down."

"The good news is that I got a call from Mark. He was involved in a hit and run—"

"Oh my God, April, is he...?"

"He was a witness only, so he's been down at the local gendarme station filling out reports and trying to unravel the red tape they've wound him up in."

"That's a relief. For a moment, I thought—"

"Yeah, me too." April's voice was very soft for a moment. "I told him to be very careful and stay out of sight from here on in. I'll contact him after we're through."

"Good." Napoleon looked at the medallion again, wrapping the gold links of the necklace around his fingers, then tightened his hand into a fist, pressing the metal into his skin. It was a way to focus his anger without letting it boil over and cause him to act irresponsibly. A slender hand appeared on his forearm and he glanced up at the dark-haired woman.

"Napoleon... he'll be okay."

"Let's hope so, April, or Rankin will experience a most unpleasant end. I've been a guest of THRUSH often enough to pick up a few tricks and I don't like being manipulated by a second rate dictator."

Napoleon stood beside the tree and lifted the binoculars to his eyes. The test was going just as he expected—a lot of bells and whistles, but very little actual substance. This device THRUSH had, it was especially designed to fool people and sucker them in. The client offers a huge amount of money, THRUSH turns over the device and walks away with its pockets jingling. When their clients realize they have been rooked, well, let the buyer beware. It's not exactly like they have someplace to turn. If they try for retribution, THRUSH removes them from the gene pool and another willing fool steps into the vacant spot.

It had been UNCLE's plan all along that Rankin play into this. Displeased, he would move against THRUSH and be eliminated before he became a serious world threat. Neither UNCLE nor Napoleon could have guessed at the extreme depth of his willingness to play.

"So, Herr Docktor?" Napoleon glanced over at Rankin and his eyes narrowed. "The viability of the product—will it deliver as promised?"

"Will you deliver as promised? I will not say a word until I am certain that my friend is all right."

"Herr Docktor, you wound me. I may be a cold-hearted bastard, determined to win at any cost, but I am a not a cheat." He snapped his fingers and two men moved from inside a van. Napoleon had suspected that Illya was inside, but now it was confirmed.

Between them they half pulled, half carried a gagged, blindfolded, and bound Russian out and to his feet. Illya stumbled and staggered trying to stay upright as he was yanked through the underbrush. "You tell me what I want and you can have what you need."

"In reality, many people have the power to stop things from happening, yet few have the power to make things happen." Napoleon watched Illya's head turn in his direction and nod. He was still very much in the game.

"Meaning, Herr Docktor? And, I beg you, no riddles this time. Your 'friend' wouldn't appreciate it." One of the guards put a gun to Illya's head. At that distance, not only would Illya be killed, but probably the guard to the other side of him as well. Napoleon shook his head slowly. He hated dealing with amateurs. "Think very carefully about your next words."

"This will make things happen. Very big things and I suspect it will make you the focus of much attention from your superiors."

"Excellent... I had suspected as much. I shall send them word that I am accepting their terms of payment. And now, Herr Docktor, you will learn a lesson in sportsmanship. Simply put, I have none—shoot him now."

Rankin snapped his fingers and both guards dropped in their tracks. Rankin's mouth fell open. April and Mark stood there, both in camouflage outfits, both holding weapons trained on Rankin.

Rankin's face paled and he looked first at Napoleon and then down at the P-38 pointed at his midsection. "I do believe this is checkmate, Herr Commandant. Please, I beg you, try to escape."

Slowly Rankin raised his hands into the air as April and Mark undid Illya's bindings. He blinked furiously in the morning sun as the blindfold was removed and looked around at his surroundings.

"You nod off for five minutes and all hell breaks loose," he commented to Mark as he rubbed the circulation back into his hands.

"Or you get involved in a hit and run. These jack-abouts are odd birds."

Napoleon tossed Illya his medallion. "I believe you are missing this."

"Thanks, partner, nice to have it back where it belongs." Illya slipped it over his neck and then accepted a pistol from Mark. "And this."

Napoleon watched Rankin out of the corner of his eye. If he had read the man true, he would be making his escape attempt...

Rankin suddenly shoved Napoleon, who stumbled into April and took off. They toppled to the ground and Napoleon grinned at her grimace as she landed on the bottom.

"Let him go!" Napoleon shouted, even though none of the UNCLE agents made a move to fire. He rolled off April and helped her to her feet.

"He's getting away," Mark argued, grinning and offered a hand up to Napoleon.

"I can still get a clear shot," April shouted. She knelt to check upon one of the fallen guards. "These two will be sleeping for awhile," she murmured softly to no one.

"He's mine," Illya protested loudly as he worked a kink out of his shoulders. "Napoleon, out of my way!"

"It's all right, we'll find him later." Napoleon didn't raise his voice. "Let's go home." Only then did he permit himself the luxury of a small smile. It was good to be the king.

Illya walked out of the bathroom, still toweling his hair and Napoleon glanced over from his relaxed position on the bed.


"Feeling human again." Illya dropped into a chair, unconcerned that the towel about his waist gaped suggestively. "If I'd thought about it, I'd have known something was off. I just thought it was the work and the odd hours."

"I suspect that was part of it—keeping you just off-balance enough to not ever realize you were being systemically drugged... it confused me as to how Rankin picked up on our connection so quickly. The bartender makes sense now."

"The bartender has been removed?"

"Into UNCLE's loving arms," Napoleon murmured. "God only knows how many other people Rankin manipulated in this manner and used as a ladder for his climb to success."

"You could not have anticipated the real reason for Rankin's meteoric rise through the ranks." Illya finger combed his hair into place. "I thought we were being so careful." Illya stood and walked to the bed, then paused, his head cocked to one side, letting both towels fall. "Are we that transparent?"

"April and Mark are completely clueless." Napoleon shifted slightly so there was room upon the narrow bed for his partner, welcoming the weight in his arms as Illya stretched out half on, half off him. "They might be too... close to the issue to be able to see it." He nuzzled Illya's still damp hair.

"Not as close as I intend to be," Illya turned his head so that lips met lips. For a moment, they merely kissed, making wet little sounds as tongues slicked over one another in a dance of reunion.

Napoleon curled his fingers into Illya's upper arms, feeling the familiar and reassuring strength in them. Illya's hands found Napoleon's torso, skimming the skin with a light touch, like a blind person reading a Braille text. Napoleon shifted slightly as the fingertips traced his ribs, turning the ticklish sensation into passion and rolled Illya to his side.

"Let me love you," he whispered into Illya's ear.

"What if I want to love you instead?"

"What if we take two falls out of three?"

There was nothing gentle about their passion now. It was fueled by sheer desperation. Denial turned their love into nothing short of demand. They were evenly matched, too much so that one had to give way, if only slightly and Napoleon found himself in position, moving in and out of his partner, while Illya struggled and fought in his grasp. It was not from pain or resentment, but because it was something he sensed Napoleon's need to heighten his sensations.

Napoleon's climax came as a welling from seemingly the tip of his toes and through his body with the impact seeming to blow off the top of his skull. He just barely had time to even register the beginning of the slide down when Illya was in him, moving with a force and speed that told Napoleon the desperation his partner felt.

Then suddenly, as abruptly as their coupling had started, it was over and they lay, a tangle of arms and legs, sweaty, smeared with the effort of their lovemaking. Illya's body was peppered with marks left by Napoleon's mouth and fingers, insuring that for the next few days, the Russian wouldn't be seen without a turtleneck on. Napoleon carried his own souvenirs, his skin red and already bruising from Illya's attentions.

Now they relaxed, letting their bodies ease back into themselves, their souls unravel back into two separate entities again.

The communicator on the bed stand sounded and Napoleon reached for his, groping slightly to avoid shifting Illya more than a millimeter away from his body.

"Solo here."

"Napoleon, I just wanted to let you know we got a report that Rankin has taken delivery and is heading back home." April's voice was a little tinny with distortion. "I tried to get Illya, but he didn't respond." It was true Illya's communicator had sounded while the Russian showered. Napoleon hadn't answered it.

Oh he responded all right, Napoleon thought, brushing the damp blond hair off Illya's forehead. "He's probably down for the count. His blood was still pretty spiky from the drugs Rankin was feeding him."

Spiky? Illya mouthed and then ruefully shook his head.

"I'll get word to him, April. Thank you for your help with this and pass that along to Mark as well. You're heading to the states in the morning?"

"No, straight away. Mr. Waverly is on the trail of some stolen uranium and wants us there. No rest for the wicked, I guess."

"Godspeed and be careful." He shut off the instrument and returned it to the stand. "And checkmate," Napoleon murmured into Illya's closest ear.

Illya's head pulled away from his shoulder and he frowned. "If you are going to make some lame comment about the king having taken the white queen, Napoleon, as your god as my witness, I will hurt you."

"Queen? You? You're knight material the whole way, my friend." Napoleon shut off the light and smiled as Illya wiggled into position. "But let's hear it for mating."

"Go to sleep, Napoleon... it's obvious the day has taken its toll on you." Illya thrust a hip against Napoleon's now sated penis.

"Just what are you inferring, partner of mine?"

"By playing at Chess then, we may learn: First: Foresight... Second: Circumspection... Third: Caution... And lastly, we learn by Chess the habit of not being discouraged by present bad appearances in the state of our affairs, the habit of hoping for a favorable chance, and that of persevering in the secrets of resources." Illya's hand began to travel again. "Your Benjamin Franklin said that."

"If you say so. Again, what are you inferring?" Illya's fingers found his penis and Napoleon bit back a sigh as those talented and capable fingers began to stroke him.

"I am thinking about what it will take to take your present bad appearance and change it into a favorable state." The blue eyes flicked up and then down as the lips curled.

"Then let's hear it for the preserving of resources..." And again, as always, they began to move together.

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