Going Postal 4: The File 40 Affair
Co-written by Spikesgirl58. As with previous entries in the series, Spikesgirl describes Napoleon's POV, and Avery explores Illya's situation.
This is a continuation of a story arc begun in Going Postal 3: The Home For the Holidays Affair. You should probably read that first.
Napoleon looked at the note in his hand. He turned it over again and again. “You couldn't find anything?”
“I’m afraid not, Napoleon. We went over it with a fine tooth comb.” Dan Seiger took off his glasses and polished them. It was more a nervous habit than out of necessity. Section Twos always made him a bit nervous.
“And the receiver?”
“Once you put it on, it’s activated. Impressive, but nothing we couldn’t figure out. We put in a few modifications. If you want privacy, turn the stone to the right. Dr. Egret won’t be able to hear you.”
“Thanks, Dan. I owe you one.” Napoleon dropped the tie tack in his pocket and watched the man hurry from the room. If he wasn’t so worried about Illya, he’d have found the scientist’s anxiety amusing.
“As you know, we are not in the habit of responding to requests for ransom, Mr. Solo,” Waverly began.
“Yes, sir.” Napoleon nodded slowly. He had already started the process of hardening his heart for the task before him. As precious as Illya was to him, there was no way UNCLE could be jeopardized for the sake of a single agent.
“However, in this circumstance, I believe that we can rid our organization of a pernicious and vile enemy… if you are willing to play along.”
Napoleon did his best not to let his mouth gape. “If you think that wise, sir.”
“As we speak, a dummy version of File 40 is being created. It will look authentic in every way, but there will be small details that are off, just enough to alert our agents and enable them to, with any luck, track Egret back to her lair.”
“And me, sir?”
“I'm afraid you're going to be put through your paces. You will face obstacles, possibly ridicule. The contents of Egret's letter has left very little to the imagination with regard to your relationship with Mr. Kuryakin. I am assuming it is consensual?”
“Very much so, sir.”
“See to it that it doesn’t interfere with the performance of your duties.”
“Of course, sir.” Napoleon managed a small smile, the first since he’d been handed the letter an hour ago.
“Then put on your tie tack, Mr. Solo, and let us proceed. As they say in tennis, I believe it's your serve.”
“Wake up, Mr. Kuryakin.”
Illya groaned, and opened his eyes. Chto?
The last thing he remembered was leaving the bookstore on Novyi Arbat, feeling a trifle dizzy. Now he was hanging by his wrists from a pair of hooks set into the concrete ceiling of a prison cell. His bare feet dangled, toes barely touching the cold stone floor.
“I said, wake up!”
His body swung helplessly in midair, propelled by the force of the blow. His arms felt as though they were being ripped out of their sockets, the muscles of his ribcage agonizingly stretched. He felt like he'd been run over by a truck, and they hadn't even started in on him yet.
He ordered his eyes to focus. A woman. Young, with hard, hungry eyes. A brunette, although that was no guarantee of anything. Illya ran through a mental catalog of all the THRUSH agents currently on file—her face was not among them. He searched for a name, but found nothing in his memory that would allow him to identify his captor.
The woman seized his jaw in an iron grip. “Hold still.” She shone a penlight into his eyes, examining the pupils for reactivity. “The drugs are wearing off,” she announced to her cohort, a thin, weaselly man. “We can begin soon.”
Begin what? Illya wondered, although he was fairly sure he knew.
She stepped back, considering her prize. “I thought you'd be taller, given your reputation for creating mayhem. I imagine you have questions, Illya—may I call you Illya?”
She slapped him again, a wallop that bloodied his lip and left him dizzy with pain. “Insolence will not be tolerated,” she declared, as calmly as if she were ordering lunch. “Now, Illya, let's try to be civil.”
“Fine. Who are you?”
The woman smiled. “Only a very few THRUSH elite know the answer to that question, and fewer still have ever seen my face. I am Dr. Cassandra Egret.”
Illya's eyes widened. “The Tea Party Affair.”
“Among others.” His reaction seemed to please her. “You've heard of me, I take it.”
He nodded. “Which begs the question, why tell me, if you are so anxious to preserve your anonymity?”
“Why do you think?”
So he would not be leaving this room alive. He had expected as much. He began to prepare himself mentally for what was to come. “I will not tell you anything, you know.”
“Save the heroic speeches. You're not here to give me information. ”
Illya's face registered his confusion. “Then why—?”
“Insurance.” Egret's smile was chilling. “Your partner—your lover—” She twisted the word, driving it like a knife into Illya's heart. “—is going to perform a little task for me, and you're the price of his success or failure.”
Bozhe moy, THRUSH knows about us! Illya fought to remain calm. “What sort of 'task?'”
“Sometime within the next two days, Napoleon Solo, CEA of UNCLE New York, is going to steal File 40.”
Illya stared at the doctor, and then he began to laugh. “He will not do it.”
“Ah, but he's already agreed.”
“Impossible,” Illya insisted. “Napoleon would never betray UNCLE.”
The weasel-faced man leaned in, enveloping Illya in a cloud of old sweat and sour breath. “Maybe you don't know your lover as well as you think,” he smirked. “Then again, I suppose the opportunity to bugger your ass is worth the price of treason.”
Illya spat at him.
“I wouldn't antagonize Roderigo,” Egret warned. “I've given him permission to play with you while we're waiting. He's a genius at inflicting pain.”
Roderigo hauled back and punched the Russian in the groin. Illya felt something rupture, and fought to stay conscious.
Egret shrugged. “I did warn you.”
He gasped for breath. “You will fail. Napoleon will see to it.”
“Such loyalty. Misplaced, but touching, nonetheless.”
“You would not understand.”
Egret regarded the agent with all the compassion of a researcher for a lab rat. “You're going to die soon, you know.”
Illya's chin lifted, a touch of defiance. “Everyone dies.”
“True, but not everyone gets to choose the moment of their death.” She withdrew a paper from her pocket, and began to read. “'I did not know Andrews well, but he seemed a good man. He chose his own exit from this life, a luxury most of us will never have. For that, I envy him.'”
She had read their letters! Their personal endearments to one another! Illya felt violated.
“An intriguing comment,” Egret continued, “especially coming from an UNCLE agent of your caliber. I've decided to test its validity. At the start of each session with Roderigo, you will be offered a syringe containing a lethal injection of potassium chloride. You are free to accept the injection, or to refuse the offer. If you accept, Roderigo will inject you with the serum. Your death will be swift and relatively painless. If you refuse, Roderigo will be free to do as he wishes with you for the duration of the session. The choice is yours.”
“You expect me to commit suicide for you?” Illya snorted his contempt.
“Consider it an early Christmas present. After all, you won't live long enough to celebrate the actual holiday.” She opened the cell door. “It's a quandary, isn't it, Illya? Pain or peace. I'll be interested to see which you choose.”
“Napoleon,” Illya whispered. “I choose Napoleon.”
“We'll see.” The iron door shut with a clang.
Napoleon resisted the impulse to groan as he lowered himself into his chair. He’d been all over HQ, visiting first one department and then another. He gave each a song and dance about how he desperately needed certain File 40 information. In some cases, he pleaded; in others he offered bribes, all while communicating the true nature of his quest with secret notes and gestures.
His fellow agents had proved to be worthy opponents, even though in the end, they all ‘saw’ things his way and handed over the doctored documents.
There was a knock at his door. A moment later it slid open and Sammy Bestoon entered. Sammy had gone through Survival School with Napoleon. In the end, he couldn’t cut it as a Section Two agent, but he’d been assigned to Internal Security, a position where he flourished.
“Hey, buddy, I hear you're looking for me.” Sammy held up a note. Waverly briefed me.
“Yeah, Sammy, listen, I need a favor.”
“You know you can ask me anything, Napoleon.”
“I need the access codes to File 40.”
Sammy laughed and slapped the desk top, dropping the sheet of paper with the pseudo-codes on it in front of Napoleon. He winked and said. “My hearing must be going. I swear you asked for the File 40 codes.”
“I… I did.” Napoleon let his voice drop. “Listen, can you keep a secret?”
“I’m head of Internal Security, what do you think?”
“Illya’s in trouble. I need the codes to bail him out. They’re going to kill him if I don’t. You know what Waverly's stand is on paying ransom. He said Illya wasn’t worth it.”
“Napoleon, you're a good friend. Ever since that hell hole we call Survival School, we’ve sort of looked after each other. So, take my advice and don’t do it. If Waverly finds out…”
“He can’t. He mustn’t—ever.”
“So the rumors are true.”
“Wha… what rumors?”
“The ones circulating about you and Kuryakin being a little bit more than just partners.” Sammy scrawled out a note. I’m going make you squirm, Solo.
Napoleon shook his head and worked up a small smile. “Don’t say that too loud, Sammy. The walls have ears, you know.”
Sammy walked over to the file cabinet and rattled it around. “Now they don’t. Is it true?”
“Yeah… it’s true. Sammy, you have to keep quiet. If Waverly found out...”
“It would be the end of your career. Hell, if he gets wind of you trying to access File 40, he can make life pretty miserable for you.” Sammy sat in Napoleon’s guest chair and lifted his feet to Napoleon’s desk. “I could be fired and deprogrammed just for talking to you. If I’m going to put my career on the line, you're going to have to make it worth my time.”
“Anything I have, Sammy, it’s yours. Money, possessions, anything. Without Illya, nothing has any value to me.” That last statement certainly was true enough. They’d just admitted their love for each other. To have it snatched out of his hands like this… Napoleon sighed. “What do you want?”
“There’s one thing I’ve always wondered, ever since Survival School:
“If you're really as good a lover as they claim you are.”
“Bend over, Solo, and think of your little Russian buddy or there’s no deal.” Get out of this one, Solo! The note read.
“No, Sammy, please… you don’t know Illya. He’d kill me.”
“Then you're in a tough spot, my friend, because I’m not willing to see my way clear unless you give me a little honey.”
Napoleon shook his head and looked up at his grinning friend. I’m going to kill you for this.
Make it good, Napoleon! Show me what kind of actor you really are. Sammy dropped the pencil onto the desk and beamed.
Napoleon swore and cleared his throat. At least Illya would never hear any of this…
Illya heard the iron door open, heard footsteps approaching. A groan escaped his lips.
He'd already had four “sessions” with Roderigo, each one more brutal than the last. His clothes hung in tatters around his bruised body. His torso was covered in burns, his back a crosshatch of pain. His muscles trembled with fatigue. He was desperately thirsty.
True to Egret's word, Roderigo had offered Illya the syringe of potassium chloride each time he came, and each time, Illya had refused.
Hold on, he told himself. Napoleon will come.
The footsteps stopped in front of him.
Illya looked up.
“Hello, Illya,” Dr. Egret said. “I came to see how you were getting along with Roderigo.”
“Go to hell.”
She ignored the barb. “I've brought you news of Napoleon,” she said. “Do you want to hear?”
He knew it was a ploy, some new torment designed to break his will, but Illya couldn't help himself. He had to know. He nodded.
The doctor withdrew a miniature tape recorder from the pocket of her lab coat. She pressed the “Play” button. Napoleon's distinctive voice filled the room.
“Oh, God, yes! Harder, Sammy,” he sobbed. “I'm close.”
Illya's heart froze in his chest.
Sounds of grunting, of flesh slapping against naked flesh.
“Don't stop! Ohhh....”
Faster now. Pounding. Napoleon whimpering, pleading for release.
“Please, Sammy! Oh please oh God I'm—!”
A gasp. A shuddering cry of joy.
Egret turned the tape recorder off.
Illya's jaw clenched. “A fake.”
“Do you deny that it's Napoleon's voice?”
“I trust Napoleon completely. He would never—”
“The tape is real, Illya, recorded off a transmitter hidden in Napoleon's tie pin.”
“Then it was a mission. A honey trap.”
“The other man is Sammy Bestoon, an UNCLE employee. The recording was made inside his private office at UNCLE Headquarters.”
Uncertainty clouded Illya's eyes. He knew Sammy, had worked with him on the current Internal Security protocols. It was unthinkable that he and Napoleon—
Egret smiled. “I can play the entire tape for you, if you like.”
Illya hesitated, and shook his head.
“In that case, I'll leave you in Roderigo's excellent care.” Her heels clicked a cadence on the stone floor. The iron door opened and closed.
Roderigo strolled toward him, extending the syringe in his leather-gloved hand. “It seems as though your lover has forgotten you already, Kuryakin. Have you had enough yet?”
Illya spat. “Napoleon will kill you when he gets here.”
The weasel-faced man laughed. “I'll take that as a 'no.'” He placed the syringe on the metal table, and lifted the flogger.
Napoleon finished snapping the last of the codes and nodded to Sammy. He tucked the sheet away and cleared his throat.
“Okay, Napoleon, a deal is a deal. Here are the codes. I hope they're worth it to you. Oh, don’t cry, it wasn’t that bad. You can always tell Illya it was the price you paid for him.”
Thanks loads and we won’t be sharing this at the Christmas party. Napoleon scrawled the note hastily and looked at his watch. “Get out.”
“Whatever you say… sugar.”
Napoleon let a faux sob catch in his throat. “Egret, I’m sure you're getting your jollies off of all of this. I’ve done what you asked, and in the time allowed. I’ve gotten your damn information. I have sacrificed every shred of dignity I have for Illya. He’d better still be alive and safe or you will never know the horror I will wreak upon you. Where’s my partner?”
The phone rang and Napoleon stared at it. He knew it needed to ring at least three times before communication would tap into it.
“Merry Christmas, Mr. Solo.” A female voice purred.
“Fuck you. Where’s Illya?”
“We aren’t quite through playing yet, Mr. Solo. You still need to get the information to me.”
“What do you want? I have nothing left.”
“Nonsense, Mr. Solo. You have a great deal, to my way of thinking. Do you know Holy Trinity Church on West 82nd Street?”
“See to it that you attend Midnight Mass. Sit in the last pew to the right. Bring the microdot with you. Place it on page 84 of the Bible. Genesis, I’m sure you’ll recognize the story. Joseph is betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery.”
“As I recall, Joseph came out on top of that situation.”
“Dream on, Mr. Solo. Dream on, just be there.”
The line went dead, but Napoleon didn’t hang up. He snapped the tie tack in half and dropped both pieces into a glass of water. “Did you get all that, sir?”
“Better than that, Mr. Solo. We’ve located the source.” Mr. Waverly’s voice sounded cautiously optimistic. “Let’s go rescue our Mr. Kuryakin, shall we?”
“Yes, sir!” For the first time in three days, Napoleon felt a trickle of hope replace the futility that had been his constant companion. He only hoped that Egret was telling the truth, and Illya was still alive. Napoleon shut his eyes and concentrated, his mind... no, his soul...seeking something, anything, that might indicate otherwise. He felt a sense of calm and knew Illya was still with them. For how much longer, he didn’t know.
He leaned forward and hit a toggle. “Section Two Strike Team A, meet me in Conference Room Five.” He didn’t wait for an acknowledgment, but hit another switch instead. “Sammy?”
“I need ten of your best men.”
“You've found her?”
“I hope so. She's so slippery I won’t believe it until I have my fingers wrapped around her scrawny neck.”
“We don’t know yet.”
“We’ll find him, Napoleon. I swear we will.”
“Thanks, Sammy. You’re a good friend.”
“It’s what friends do, Napoleon. Now, let’s go show this female dog how we do things at UNCLE.”
Two days? Had it only been two days? It seemed like forever that he had been hanging there.
His body swung in mid-air, suspended like a side of beef above the cold stone floor, wrists raw from the struggle to free himself, arms and shoulders numb. Still Illya waited, feeling his strength ebb a little more with each passing hour.
Napoleon had not come.
In his place had been Roderigo, appearing every three hours like clockwork, his collection of whips and knives and other, darker tools freshly cleaned and oiled, assembled on the stainless steel cart he brought with him. Illya dreaded the sound of his approach—the sharp click of his footsteps, and the squeaking wheels of the cart as it bounced along the cobblestones, setting the implements to rattling. His body trembled with terror.
How many sessions had it been? Illya no longer knew. He had ceased keeping track a long time ago.
He had had no food or water for two days, but oddly enough, he no longer felt hungry. Somewhere in the depths of his mind, he knew that was a bad sign. He stank of sweat and blood and urine. His throat was hoarse from screaming. It was hard to breathe. He longed for those rare moments when the pain became too much, and he could sink into blessed unconsciousness. And, as Roderigo reminded him, there was always the syringe, filled with the potassium chloride that promised a more permanent end to his pain.
How long since the last session? How long before the bastard comes back?
He must have passed out, because the next thing he knew, the doctor and Roderigo were standing before him. He had not heard their approach.
Slipping. I'm slipping.
“Can he hear me?” Egret asked, tilting his face toward her. Illya thought she sounded annoyed.
“Well enough,” Roderigo answered.
She slapped him. “Open your eyes, Illya.”
It took several moments to focus, but when he finally managed it, he gasped. The bottom dropped out of his world.
Dr. Egret stood before him, holding the first volume of File 40.
“No,” Illya whispered. “Oh, no.”
“Hot off the presses,” she said. “The second volume is printing now.” She thumbed through the pages. “It's all here—access codes, building layouts, security protocols. Enough information for THRUSH to mount a full-blown assault on UNCLE.” She chuckled. “Looks like lover boy came through after all. I guess he really cared about you, despite his little dalliance with Sammy Bestoon.”
Napoleon would never sell out UNCLE, Illya reassured himself. And yet, the folder in Egret's hand appeared genuine, down to the coded markings on the front cover.
“And now the bad news,” Egret went on, her voice a masquerade of regret. “Unfortunately for Mr. Solo, he made the mistake of trying to follow the courier assigned to the drop. He got careless, allowed himself to be spotted. Bronsky was forced to shoot and—I'm sorry to have to tell you, Illya, but lover boy's dead. Looks like the tender reunion's officially canceled.”
The words made no sense at first. He stared, uncomprehending. And then, horribly, he understood. The pain of his heart breaking was a thousand times worse than anything Roderigo had inflicted on him. Tears rolled down Illya's cheeks—tears for what they had had together for the briefest of intervals; for time wasted; for all that was lost, and would never be again. He sobbed unashamedly; his body shook with grief.
“I have to go and supervise the printing of the remainder of File 40,” Egret declared, already dismissing in her mind the spectacle of the crack agent she had so successfully broken. “In the meanwhile, I leave you to Roderigo's tender mercies.” The iron door clanged shut behind her.
Roderigo approached, holding the syringe in his gloved hand. “Not much to live for, is there, now that lover boy's gone?”
“Do not call him that,” Illya bristled through his tears. “His name is—was—Napoleon.”
“Whatever. To UNCLE, he's nothing more than a dead traitor.”
Like the lid closing on a coffin, Illya felt the last glimmer of hope die. Napoleon was gone, truly gone, and with him, all their lovely dreams of a life together. He would never again feel his touch, never kiss his lips, or hear his laugh. Never again. There was nothing left. Nothing.
“Why suffer needlessly,” Roderigo prattled on. “It won't change anything in the end. Fall upon your sword, and be done with it. Or perhaps you'd rather we played our game a bit longer.” He caressed the battery clamps dangling from the edge of the steel table. “I do so enjoy our time together, Illya. Don't you?”
Why suffer needlessly?
Illya stared at the syringe, at the colorless liquid waiting within.
“Decisions, decisions,” Roderigo laughed. “You should see yourself! Really, it's too amusing—the big time UNCLE agent caterwauling over his lost love. Incidentally, I hear Solo took rather a long time to bleed out—bullet punctured a lung. He choked on his own blood.”
Something snapped. The cold crush of grief gave way to blazing rage. How dare he laugh! How dare he! How dare he how dare he how—!
And then, just as quickly, a strange calm settled over Illya. His mind was clear again, for the first time in days.
I have something to live for.
Napoleon had been taken from him, but Illya's existence still had a purpose—to snuff the life from Egret and Roderigo. To pay them back for the unforgivable thing they had done.
Rodrigo extended his hand, offering the syringe once more. “Are you ready to die?” he asked.
Illya lifted his head, stared into Roderigo's eyes. “I'll see you in Hell first, ” he said.
For a long time, nothing moved. In the distance, a dog barked; the city slowly came to life around them.
The pavement glistened with blood. After what seemed an eternity, a lone figure moved from the shadows to the side of the fallen man. Other people started shifting, but a cautionary hand went up in the air and they stilled again.
“Are you okay?” Napoleon Solo holstered his weapon and helped 'himself' into a sitting position. He kept his voice low, in case they had observers. “For being dead and all?”
“Ow, I volunteer you to get shot the next time we need a victim who looks like you.” Sammy Bestoon leaned against his fellow agent, as if limp in death. He grinned briefly at Napoleon with blood-stained teeth. “And is there any way we can get better tasting blood? This peppermint crap gives me indigestion.”
“Let’s get you out of the street.” Napoleon waved forward a couple of agents and they carried Sammy, still pretending to be dead, to the back of an unmarked van.
“Do you think it worked?” Tony Jeeves, a Section Two, asked.
“Well, if I was THRUSH, which I’m not, I’d have believed it.” Napoleon helped Sammy sit up and the agent began to peel off the Napoleon mask he wore.
“Which they did.” Tolston, from Communications, was wearing a pair of headphones. “They're celebrating the death of UNCLE’s top agent.”
“Do they say anything about Illya?”
“Not directly, but they're talking about how they can’t wait to tell their guest.”
“Thank God, that means he’s alive.” Napoleon moved from Sammy to Tolston. “Is the signal stationary?”
“So far…” He held up a hand. “Go ahead, Santa, I read you, loud and clear.” Tolston gave Napoleon a thumbs up. “I’ll let him know, Santa, thank you. Okay, Napoleon, We have a visual on Illya. He’s alive, but in pretty bad shape. They're holding for your arrival.”
“Let’s not keep Santa waiting.” Napoleon glanced over his shoulder at Sammy. “You up to it?”
Sammy checked his weapon and nodded tightly. “Let go clean house.”
When Napoleon saw Illya, his throat clenched. He wasn’t sure what Illya had done to deserve such treatment, but he knew he was going to make the monsters responsible pay, and pay dearly. He brought his communicator to his lips. “All teams go. Take Egret alive. Repeat, we want prisoners.”
He crept closer. The stench of blood and human waste turned his stomach. His eyes narrowed and his mouth pinched shut. Take careful aim, he whistled. Startled, the slimeball looked up, and Napoleon planted a sleeper dart right in the middle of his chest.
“That ought to hold you for a while.” Napoleon bent down and removed the syringe from the man’s hand, taking care to snap off the needle and empty the contents onto the floor first. He kicked the cart filled with torture instruments, stained with Illya’s blood, as far away as possible.
“THRUSH, three o’clock,” Illya croaked out.
Napoleon spun around. A woman was standing there, pointing a THRUSH rifle at him. She was a petite brunette, pretty, although not attractive.
“They told me you were dead, Mr. Solo.”
“I have a way of coming back from the dead, Dr. Egret. Or are you just some flunky pretending to be her? I can’t believe she would dirty her hands like this.”
“Why wouldn’t I? I've taken out both of UNCLE's top agents, and delivered File 40 to Command. I'll be heralded as a queen.”
“I wouldn’t go counting the jewels in your coronation crown just yet. After THRUSH discovers that all that File 40 information you gave them is tragically flawed, they'll have a nice desk at the North Pole ready and waiting for you.”
“Willing to bet your career on it? Because that’s what you're about to do.”
“Bastard!” She raised the rifle, and laughed as she took aim. “Looks like you get to watch him die for real now, Kuryakin!”
There was a crack and Napoleon flinched, then realized he wasn’t hit. Egret crumpled and Mr. Waverly stepped out of the shadows.
“No one threatens my agents.” He walked slowly to the woman, his weapon at the ready. Napoleon took a step towards him and Waverly shook his head. “Go to your partner, Mr. Solo. That’s where you belong.”
Napoleon hurried to Illya's side. “Hey, thanks for hanging around.”
“Thought… you might… not... make it.”
“I told you we’d be together for Christmas.” He held up his watch for Illya to see and realized the man had passed out. “Can I get a hand?”
Immediately the room was filled with UNCLE agents and medics. Illya was gently lifted down and settled on a gurney. Napoleon watched him being carried away. He felt a hand on his shoulder, and turned smiling.
“Thank you, sir.”
“Thank you, Mr. Solo. This was not a pleasant assignment for you.”
“No, no it wasn’t. But it’s over and we have Egret.” Napoleon looked over to where she lay. Two agents were wrapping a strait jacket around the still-unconscious woman. He took a breath and smiled tightly. “Now that’s what I call a professionally wrapped Christmas present.”
“I would agree, Mr. Solo. Let's go home.”
Illya slept through Christmas. When he finally woke in Medical on the morning of the twenty-seventh, the first thing he saw was Napoleon, sipping a cup of coffee by his bedside.
“Smells wonderful,” he croaked.
Napoleon's eyes lit with happiness. “I thought you hated the coffee in Medical,” he replied as he slid onto the edge of Illya's bed.
“May have to—re-evaluate—”
“Shh. Don't try to talk. Your vocal cords are badly strained. You need to rest them for a few more days.”
Illya smirked, and for a moment he looked like his old self. “You just want—to do—all—all—”
“All the talking?” Napoleon shrugged. “Actually, I'd much rather kiss than talk, but your lip is pretty busted up. I'd be afraid of hurting you.”
“I suppose there are other places I could kiss you... Nurse Nellie did promise to guard the door if you were feeling frisky.”
“Frisky!” That brought a real smile. “Soon.”
“I'll hold you to that promise.” Napoleon stroked the soft blonde hair, knowing how close he'd come to losing everything. “You know, Waverly broke about a dozen rules to get you back.”
Another smile. “Valuable asset.”
“And modest, too.” Napoleon hesitated. “He knows about us, Illya. Everyone does.”
“Everyone?” The smile faded. “Are we—fired?”
“Quite the contrary. Waverly is busy riding shotgun on our behalf, making sure everyone within earshot knows that he supports our choice, and that there'll be hell to pay if we're harassed.”
Illya sighed in relief. “Good. Still have—job.”
Napoleon laughed. “We finally get to come out of the closet, and all you can be thankful for is the fact that you're not fired?”
“Thankful for—other things, too. Show you—later. In private.”
“Why Illya, that sounds positively indecent!”
“Hope so.” Illya's expression grew serious. “Egret?”
“Captured red-handed with the phony File 40 documents.”
“Phony. Ah.” Illya nodded to himself.
“You didn't think I'd hand over the real ones, did you? Roderigo's in custody, too, the bastard. He'll never hurt you again.”
“Roderigo.” Illya shuddered. “Chertov ubl'dok!”
“Shh, try not to think about it.”
“For me, too.” Napoleon caressed his lover's swollen cheek. “When I saw you hanging there, dusha moya, I thought I'd lost you. I've never been so scared in all my life.”
Illya's turned his head ever so slightly, and kissed Napoleon's palm. “Safe now. With you.”
Napoleon pressed a kiss upon his brow. “With me. Always.”