He stared in the mirror at his reflection, and his reflection stared back. He had no idea who he was.
When he'd first seen his own image, he hadn't recognised the face before him. Pale and ghost-like, with hazel eyes filled with puzzlement and panic. The dark hair was matted and greasy, and several days' growth of beard covered his lower face. It was a handsome face, but it was unfamiliar. Everything about it was foreign.
He rubbed his hands over his features, rapping his knuckles against his temples. He couldn't think straight. He didn't know what he was doing here, or even where 'here' was.
It had been like this since he came round a few hours ago, to find three dead bodies and a gun in his hand. The barrel had still been warm. No one else had been about. He'd shot them—murdered them—and when realisation set in, he'd felt nothing. No regret, no shame. Just a deep need to flee, to get away.
Instinct had driven him from that place; instinct had guided him in the vehicle he'd taken, relying on body memory to drive the Sno-Cat through the snow and trees, to who knows where, from who knew what. The fear was all consuming. He'd never been so scared in his life.
Illya Kuryakin brought the commandeered skidoo to a halt and quickly switched off the engine to conserve the remaining fuel. Beneath the trees the snow wasn't so deep, but it didn't lessen the frigid air which stung the sensitive linings of his nostrils. It was cold, but not the coldest he'd ever been. A week in Siberia made this feel like a trip to the Florida Keys. In Siberia, the sharp wind had made his eyes water and the resulting tears had quickly turned to ice, leaving one eye frozen closed.
No, he could weather this temperature quite easily. It was no hardship for a cold-weather expert like himself. He wasn't sure if Napoleon could, though. And he had no way of knowing what state his partner was currently in.
Napoleon had been missing for two weeks now. Illya had followed his trail to an Alaskan satrapy and there he had managed to persuade one of the Thrush agents to give him Napoleon's whereabouts. Illya was good at the art of persuasion. He knew methods that even UNCLE didn't know—nor would approve of. Illya Kuryakin would kill and maim for his partner, if that's what it took. And it had.
The information he'd garnered had brought him to this place; one of the coldest spots on the North American continent. Illya had easily found the secluded but small outpost. The scorched remains of the structure stuck out like a sore thumb in the once pristine whiteness of the surrounding snow. Someone had made a bodged attempt to obliterate the building. Part of it had been destroyed, but the main section of the building—the part that was important—had remained intact. It would seem that whoever had set the explosives had been in a hurry, not wanting to wait around to watch the destruction. Illya had found a timing devise still attached to the bundle of explosives on the outside wall. It hadn't detonated; damp had permeated the mechanism, which in turn had frozen the workings in place by the severe cold. For once, luck was on the Russian's side.
He'd searched through the debris and found evidence of Napoleon's survival with a mixture of relief and anger, but no sign of his partner. He'd taken time to read the documents he'd found, view the film footage, and listen to the tapes. Their technique had been thorough, if flawed. They'd stripped Napoleon of his clothes and his dignity, and then proceeded to strip him of his identity. The procedure had been psychologically brutal, and probably viable with someone less deeply trained than Napoleon.
Someone, though, had gotten careless. Someone had let their guard down, and that's all it took for Napoleon's survival instinct to kick in. It appeared that Napoleon had managed to overpower his tormentors and escape. But what state had their treatment left him in? Napoleon hadn't tried to make contact—and he would have found a way—which told Illya that his partner was probably in a bad way.
He had tried to track his partner as best he could, but judging by the signs, he wasn't the only one on Napoleon's trail. Two sets of tracks had gone this way. Someone else had been in pursuit of his partner; Illya needed to get to him fast.
The snow had fallen hard and fast in the last hour, obliterating the day-old trail and forcing Kuryakin to follow his intuition. Just as he'd been about to lose all hope, he noticed faint wisps of smoke in the distance.
The smoke had lead him here, to this remote log cabin sheltering in the lea side of a small copse.
He left the skidoo and trudged up a small incline, resting against the rough bark of a spruce before pulling out the small binoculars he carried in his pack. He could see the cabin quite clearly now, smoke trailing lazily out from the chimney, telling him that it was definitely occupied. But by who? Illya tried to tamp down the hope that Napoleon had discovered this refuge and was safely tucked inside. Hope had a bad way of turning into disappointment.
Of course, there were other possibilities. The signs of life could belong to the legitimate owner, or perhaps, whoever had been following Napoleon. But deep down inside, he was sure that Napoleon had come this way, and he knew that if anyone could find shelter, his partner with his infamous luck could. Regardless of his mental state, Napoleon would always have that to rely on.
Illya watched for a while, hoping for some tell-tale sign. He glanced at the darkening sky, leached of color as the sun began to drop behind the horizon. It would be dark soon, and the temperature would drop even further without the meagre warmth of the sun. He couldn't wait too long.
He pulled out his Special, keeping it hidden by his side, as he began a slow trudge up the slope, keeping to the trees wherever he could. He was about fifty feet away when the door of the cabin opened and a dishevelled figure walked out and stood a few feet from the cabin door.
Illya almost didn't recognise him at first, the untidy hair, the rough growth of beard, but it was definitely Napoleon; badly in need of a shave and haircut, but blessedly alive. Relieved to see his partner, Illya threw caution to the wind and holstered the gun as he ran out into the open.
"Napoleon!" The fine snow covered a deceptively rocky ascent, and Illya was busy watching his footing as he approached. This region was quiet, the still air carrying very little sound, except for the raucous cry of crows in the nearby trees. It was almost idyllic, almost peaceful.
It had been a tiny sound that he heard, but one that Illya was all too familiar with—the cocking of a gun. He looked up at Napoleon just as his partner squeezed the trigger, and felt the impact of the shot like a hard thump to his shoulder. The shock of it took him backwards into the snow. Confusion and pain slowed his thoughts. By the time he looked up, Napoleon was towering above him, raising the gun above his head. Illya watched, as if the whole thing was in slow motion, unable to avoid the butt of the gun in Napoleon's hand as it travelled quickly towards his head. It was the last thing he saw.
Napoleon looked around as he heard the crunch of footsteps in the fresh snow.
Gordon T. Kramer, one of Thrush's newest and most promising employees, approached rapidly from the safety of the outhouse and paused at his side, looking down at the body crumpled in the snow. "I told you to aim for his head!" he snapped.
"I... I couldn't," Napoleon stammered. "He didn't seem to be a threat."
"Dammit!" Kramer pondered the problem a moment. If he could take both men back, it would be a real feather in his cap. He turned back to Solo. "Never mind. Let's get him inside." Napoleon helped drag the unconscious man into the cabin, dropping him in the corner near the woodpile. He stared down at the still body, at the blood slowly seeping through the torn hole in the jacket.
Napoleon turned at the name. His name, he'd been told. John. Short and unfamiliar, and devoid of facts. He felt like the blank pages of an empty book, with no beginning and no end, and absolutely nothing in the middle.
But this man Kramer seemed to know so much about him. He was the only reference he had, the only source of information, and he'd become dependent on him. Kramer had told him his name was John, so it must be true. But he hadn't gotten used to it yet.
"What?" he murmured, his attention going back to the blond laying at his feet.
"Watch him. I'll find something to tie him up with."
Napoleon nodded. Watch him? He couldn't seem to find the strength to take his eyes off him. Outside in the snow, when the man had approached, he'd felt no danger, even though Kramer had insisted this man was a killer. He didn't look dangerous: but what does a killer look like? What was it this man had shouted at him? What was it he'd called out? Napoleon? Some reference to a French Emperor? Was it supposed to mean something to him? A password, maybe?
Kramer came back, coils of rope in his hands. He threw a hank at Napoleon. "Here, tie his feet together. Good and tight." Napoleon knelt obediently, glancing at Kramer as he rolled the unconscious man over onto his stomach and pulled his hands behind his back, wrapping the ropes several times about his wrists. Napoleon did likewise with the man's ankles, trying to make the bindings secure without cutting off his circulation.
Napoleon stood, watching as Kramer finished and pushed the blond man back onto his side, rifling through Kuryakin's jacket. "Who is he?" Napoleon asked.
Kramer stood up, wiping a hand against his pants. "KGB. He's an assassin. See?" He held out the Special, pulling it away as Napoleon reached out to touch it. "He would have used this on you." Kramer pushed the weapon into the back of his pants, reaching out to place a hand on Napoleon's shoulder. "Why don't you make us some coffee, John."
"Okay." Napoleon tried to smile, but it didn't come natural to him. It felt false. Had he ever smiled, he wondered. Was there ever a time in his forgotten life when he didn't feel like this, afraid, confused. Nauseous. It sickened him, being a none-entity, a no one. Kramer gave him a gentle shove towards the kitchen and he went obediently. Kramer was the only person in his life, right now. The only life-line he could cling to. He needed him.
Gordon T. Kramer watched him go and smirked to himself. Solo had been such a worthwhile subject, difficult but challenging. If Kramer's programming could work on this UNCLE agent, then it would be a breeze on an untrained person. The possibilities would be endless. Thrush would be pleased—if he could get him back to headquarters before the conditioning wore off, and finish his programming!
Kramer was fairly new to Thrush. He was desperate to impress, eager to please, anxious to make an impact on his superiors. It had been a real blessing the day they'd approached him with an offer. Kramer had always had ambition and what he saw as foresight. He was, indeed, gifted in his chosen career, but nobody else seemed to appreciate his talents. The University that had employed him had hauled him over the coals twice for unauthorised and unethical experiments. His conduct had been called into question, his motives derided. Before the end, he'd resorted to conducting his experiments secretly, using the unwitting students on campus as his subjects. And it had been working just fine, just fine—till that stupid bitch had died. How was he to know she'd been emotionally unstable? How was he to know that her neurosis would reduce her to taking her own life?
Thrush had heard about his misfortune—and made him an offer he couldn't, and wouldn't, refuse. Unlimited funds, equipment and, more importantly, human guinea pigs to practice his craft on.
Solo had been the most challenging but with time, and some drugs of his own concoction, he'd managed to strip him of his identity, turn him into a blank slate, ready to be retrained.
Then those fools had gotten careless, tormenting and teasing an already terrified man. A man whose training was apparently so deeply engrained that when the opportunity arose, he'd managed to grab a gun and blow the heads off those bungling fools. Kramer was only glad he hadn't been in the room at the time. When Kramer discovered the mess, he'd set explosives to cover any evidence and chased after Solo.
Still, things weren't too far gone, yet. At the research centre, he only reported in once a week, which meant that he wouldn't be missed for another four days. The effects of the programming would begin to wear off by then. If he could make contact with Thrush and they got here in time, the situation could still be retrieved. He glanced down at the communicator he'd taken from Kuryakin. Kramer was no genius in the electronics department, but he knew enough. If he could find the channel that he used to communicate with headquarters, then a chopper could be out here picking him and his experiment up in a matter of hours. Kuryakin would be a bonus. If his superiors were pleased, maybe they'd let him use Kuryakin as the next guinea pig.
Kramer dropped the communicator onto the table top and sat down. After a few minutes, Solo came out of the kitchen carrying two steaming mugs. He placed one on the table, the contents sloshing over the side onto the table.
"Hey, watch it!" Kramer said, putting a protective hand over the silver pen.
Napoleon gestured at the communicator with a tip of his chin. "What is it?"
Kramer lifted it up, waving it at Napoleon. "Our ticket home," he said with a grin.
Napoleon left him to it. It didn't do to ask Kramer too many questions. He'd discovered the man had a short fuse and little patience when it came to answering any queries. He took a sip out of his own mug and sauntered back over to the agent they'd captured.
Blood was slowly pooling on the floor beneath the blond man; he could smell it, sickly sweet. Napoleon put down his coffee and went back into the kitchen. When he came out, he carried a clean tea-towel in one hand and a roll of duck tape in the other. He returned to the man on the floor, kneeling by his side, as he folded the cloth into a square. He tore the bloody hole in the jacket sleeve wider, pressing the cloth against the wound.
Kramer looked up as he saw the movement out of the corner of his eye. "What are you doing?" Kramer asked gruffly.
Napoleon didn't look up from what he was doing. "He's bleeding."
"So? Let him. Then I won't have to worry about the sonovabitch till help arrives." Napoleon's head snapped up in Kramer's direction, anger sparking in his eyes. Kramer sighed to himself. He didn't need this confrontation right now: he needed to concentrate. This U.N.C.L.E. communicator was more complicated than Thrush issue. Kramer shrugged and turned on a conciliatory smile. "Fine. If you want to play nursemaid to this Red, then go ahead." He went back to tinkering with Illya's communicator. Maybe it would keep Solo occupied while he tried to find a Thrush channel on this thing.
Napoleon turned his attention back to the task he'd set himself, half wondering how he knew how to deal with a wound like this. As he picked up the tape, the blond man's eyes flickered open, groggy but curious, wary. Napoleon paused, the tape still dangling from his fingers, and watched as the blond's eyes glanced rapidly around his surroundings. They paused on Kramer for a moment, watching and assessing, before returning to Napoleon. It seemed to be an effort. Napoleon saw the man wince as he turned his head. He must have an almighty headache, judging by the egg that had risen on the side of his head. Napoleon felt a stab of guilt. He shouldn't have hit him so hard, but he thought that if he'd left it up to Kramer, this man would just be food for the crows by now.
It seemed an effort for the blond. His eyes closed and his head dropped back to the floor, releasing Napoleon from the paralysing gaze. Blue eyes. Intense, expressive. He seemed young, and yet his eyes held a lifetime's experience in them.
Napoleon shook himself, finishing his task by taping the cloth down against the wound.
The Russian stirred, but his eyes remained closed. "Ya khochoo peet," he said quietly.
"I'll get you something," Napoleon replied. He was on his feet before he realised he'd understood the foreign words. A new fact to add to the very few he knew; apparently he spoke Russian.
"What did he say?" Kramer murmured, distracted by his task.
"He says he's thirsty."
Kramer huffed impatiently and put down the half dismantled device. He stood and walked over to the prostrate agent. "Hey! Blondie!" He kicked out at the blond twice before getting his attention. When Kuryakin wearily opened his eyes, Kramer said, "You need some refreshment?" Kramer clutched his own genitals. "Suck my dick." Kramer laughed at his own coarse humor, patting Napoleon on the chest. "Don't get him anything. He's not on vacation."
Napoleon looked down at the man on the floor. Kramer had said he was KGB—and the man did speak Russian. But Napoleon had understood the words, so what did that make him? A double agent? Who did he work for? Kramer had never said.
When Napoleon had come across this cabin, the first day had been hazy, full of memory flashes and confused thoughts. Then, Kramer had arrived. At first, Napoleon had waved the pistol at him, reluctant for more bloodshed. But Kramer had refused to be intimidated. He'd held his hands open, showing he was unarmed, while he explained that Napoleon had been in an accident and lost his memory. They were friends, he'd told him. Colleagues. Partners. He'd said he was here to help.
Napoleon had lowered his weapon, listened to the viper's tongue spreading its venom. He had no way to know what was truth and what was fiction. His defences and energies were low. Now more than ever, he needed a friend, someone to guide him, and this Kramer seemed to know so much about him, so much that he didn't know about himself. He had no option but to trust, had no reason to disbelieve what he'd been told. He had nothing to measure the truth by, no memories, no cohesive thoughts. And so, he'd allowed Kramer to take control, grateful that the onus for existence was no longer his. Without the responsibility for decision, he'd relaxed, become more confident. Kramer said help would come, once his—their—comrades discovered they were missing. All they had to do was stay put and wait.
Then this other man had arrived. And suddenly everything he'd been told these last few days was thrown into doubt.
He started as Kramer began to move about, pulling on his heavy coat. "Where are you going?" Napoleon asked, suddenly afraid to be alone with the Russian.
"Gonna try to make a call," Kramer replied, waving the reassembled pen about. "I'll, er, take this outside. I should get a better reception." And privacy. It wouldn't do for the UNCLE agent to hear Kramer making his arrangements. "If he gives you any trouble," Kramer said, nodding at Kuryakin, "Shoot him again. Try a kneecap this time. That should keep him quiet." Kramer laughed softly as he left.
Napoleon watched out of the window as Kramer walked a few feet from the cabin. He saw the puffs of breath in the cold air as Kramer talked into the small device.
He turned at the quiet voice. The blond was looking intently up at him. "What?" Napoleon asked, a puzzled frown creasing his forehead.
"Napoleon, I know you don't remember anything. This man Kramer is not what he seems. He did this to you. You don't remember me, but you and I are friends. We both work for the U.N.C.L.E." Napoleon frowned and Illya tried again. "U.N.C.L.E.? Mr. Waverly? April, Mark?" Illya sighed in frustration. "Napoleon, please, try..."
"Why do you keep saying that?"
"Napoleon. Why do call me that?"
"That's your name."
Napoleon smiled faintly. "Napoleon? No, you're wrong. My name's John. Who the hell has a name like Napoleon?"
Illya grunted with frustration. "I know it's unusual, and you have your grandfather to blame for that, but nevertheless, that is your name. Napoleon. Napoleon Solo. And I am Illya Kuryakin."
Napoleon took a step nearer. "So, you are Russian. Kramer was speaking the truth."
"And it's probably the only genuine fact he's given you so far. Yes, I am Russian and you are American and Mr. Waverly is English. The organisation we work for is a multi-national enforcement agency. We're the good guys." Illya wriggled about in obvious discomfort. "You and I... we are partners in this organisation. This man, Kramer, he works for a criminal organisation called Thrush."
Kramer chose that moment to walk back into the cabin. Illya rushed on, desperate to make a connection with Napoleon. "Napoleon, you must try to remember. You must trust your instincts. What Kramer said— argh!" Illya cried out as Kramer's boot connected with his crotch, doubling him over as nausea threatened to empty the contents of his stomach.
Kramer picked up the pillow from one of the bunks, and for a frightening moment, Napoleon thought he intended to smother the Russian. "What are you doing?"
"Shutting him up!" Kramer yanked off the pillow cover and tore it. He took a strip of the rag and knelt by Kuryakin's side, roughly gagging his mouth. "There. Sonovabitch!" Kramer turned to Napoleon. "Listen to me. Anything he's said to you is a lie! Do you understand? He's KGB. He's a killer. You can't believe anything he tells you."
Napoleon frowned. "You don't know what he said," he pointed out.
"And I don't care. All I know is he can't be trusted." Napoleon eyes left his to stare at their prisoner with sadness. Kramer noticed the look. It wouldn't do to antagonise him too much: he needed Solo to trust him. He pushed his anger down and took Solo by the arm, pulling him closer to him. His hand reached up, pulling the U.N.C.L.E. agent's face towards hom. "Hey, look at me. This'll soon be over, alright? Take it easy. This time tomorrow, you and I will be sitting somewhere cosy and warm, drinking Manhattans, while this bastard languishes in a cell." He saw Solo's eyes glance again at Kuryakin, and Kramer tugged on his arm, returning his attention back to him. "Don't look at him. He's trouble."
Yeah, Kuryakin is trouble, alright, Kramer thought. The sooner he made contact with Thrush headquarters, the better. He didn't relish sleeping under the same roof as two U.N.C.L.E. agents, even if one of them had his brains scrambled, but his options were limited.
"Did you make contact?" Napoleon asked.
Kramer shook his head. "Nah. This thing seems to have a loose connection," he said, waving the silver pen around. Kramer sat back at the table, and set about dismantling it again. "But I'll sort it, don't you worry." He looked up at Solo, but the U.N.C.L.E. agent's attention was once again on their captive. It was beginning to disturb Kramer, Solo's thoughtful silences. "Get some rest," he ordered. "I'll wake you if I need you."
Napoleon was dozing on one of the cots, when he was awakened by Kramer.
"I'm going outside to give this another try," he said, shrugging back into his jacket. "I think I got it this time," he said, grinning. Kramer opened the door, and halfway out, stopped and called over his shoulder. "Don't remove his gag. In fact, don't go anywhere near him, okay? I'll be back soon."
Napoleon sat up, trying to work up the energy to get off the cot. It wasn't the most comfortable bed he'd slept in—he didn't think—but the oblivion of sleep was a nice escape. He eventually stood, intending to go into the kitchen and pour some coffee. He needed the caffeine, right now.
As he moved, the Russian stirred in his sleep, shifting restlessly on the hard floor. Napoleon stepped towards him, ignoring the warning Kramer had given him. What did it matter, anyway? He was bound hand and foot. Besides, he just wanted to look at the man, study his face, try to remember.
He knelt silently behind the sleeping captive, attracted for some reason, to the hair. Unconscious of his actions, his fingers reached out, catching a few strands between thumb and forefinger. Silk. Soft. Powerful in its attraction. And oddly familiar.
Kramer said not to remove the gag. Regardless, he couldn't resist running his finger along the cloth that disappeared between his lips. Unintentionally, Napoleon caught the soft skin of the lower lip. Velvety, warm.
All too familiar.
Napoleon cried out as pain flashed through his head, accompanied by an image. No, not an image, more a sensation, a sensation of himself, his own mouth coming into contact with another: full, dry lips, tasting of vodka, his fingers, carding through fine hair, his body pressed tightly against the hard muscles of another.
He gasped for breath and suddenly he was back, back here in this cold cabin, kneeling next to a man Kramer had said was the enemy. Yet, this man, this 'killer', held a strange fascination for him. His fingers were still touching the other's lips as the man's eyes opened and pinned him with their gaze. Napoleon drew his hand back quickly, as if his fingers had been burned, and fell backwards on his ass, trying to escape the blue-eyed stare.
He managed to scramble to his feet just as the door to the cabin opened and Kramer come in, stamping the snow off his boots. He glanced from Napoleon to Illya, and back to Napoleon. "Is he giving you trouble?"
Napoleon stepped away. "No. How could he? You've got him trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey."
"And that's the way he's gonna stay. He's KGB, remember? They can be tricky sons-of-bitches." Kramer moved over to Illya's side, toeing him hard in the ribs.
Napoleon winced as the Russian grunted in pain. Enemy or not, it wasn't right, treating him this way. Did he really work with this Kramer? Was he really a friend? He couldn't be sure, not any more. Something about him no longer felt right.
Kramer was removing his coat, throwing it over the back of one of the chairs. He sat on one of the twin bunks, bending over to remove his shoes.
"Did you manage to make contact this time?" Napoleon asked, sitting on the other bunk.
"Er, yeah. They should be here tomorrow, weather permitting." Kramer lay back on the bunk, pulling a pillow snugly under his head. It had taken a few attempts, but he eventually found the right frequency. It was a relief. Soon he'd be out of here. Soon, he could stop this charade. The strain was starting to tell on him. He looked up, seeing Napoleon's look of concern. "Hey, don't worry. We'll have you out of here in no time." Napoleon's stare was beginning to unnerve him. "Listen, er, John, why don't you get some more rest?"
Napoleon obeyed—it seemed a sensible suggestion. Maybe he could sleep some time away, and soon, he would be out of here, he and Kramer. And the Russian. Soon, he wouldn't have to worry about it, about anything.
The dream began with images that he couldn't identify—corridors lined with steel, faces that he didn't recognise—and the Russian, always the Russian was there. Wherever he turned in his dream, no matter which way he went, the Russian appeared first. Napoleon couldn't escape him, it was futile, like running in molasses. The dream threatened to turn into a nightmare as the steel walls began to close in on him, crushing him down, trapping him in their iron grip. Then someone was pulling him free, dragging him away. Napoleon began to feel himself floating upward, following the figure of light that tugged him by the hand. When he was free, he turned to thank the man who had saved him—only to find it was the Russian, again.
Always the Russian.
Napoleon wanted to thank him, pulling the blond into a tight embrace. And suddenly, as is the way of dreams, they were both on a bed and the blond was gathering him close, speaking to him in his native tongue, the Russian words both calming and erotic. And Napoleon was understanding every word.
"You're safe now," the Russian was saying. "Always safe with me, Napoleon." Lips were kissing his face, hands were caressing his body, and in the dream Napoleon felt safe. He felt himself respond shamelessly as the blond turned over onto his stomach, offering himself. Napoleon stroked along the pale back, tracing the outlines of the scars he somehow knew would be there. Without hesitation, he entered the willing body, and felt a rush of desire and elation as he began to rock and plunge into him. He felt serene, at peace, a feeling that he knew was familiar and yet, as elusive as the memory of who he was. This was heaven. He didn't want it to stop: but passion always ends in the littlest of deaths. He groaned loudly, wanting to share his pleasure with his Russian, crying out as he felt himself coming....
"HEY!" The pleasant dream vanished quickly and Napoleon felt bereft, as he was rudely awakened from his pleasant dream by Kramer's angry voice.
"Shut the fuck up! I'm trying to sleep, here!"
Had he been talking in his sleep? Napoleon felt himself flush with shame at the memory of the dream. "Sorry," Napoleon mumbled. He turned on his side, away from Kramer, and felt the tell-tale stickiness of his own ejaculate. A wet dream. What grown man had wet dreams?
And about the enemy. What did it mean?
Napoleon never got back to sleep after that. He rose early and pottered about, making coffee, then sat outside on the cabin steps to think.
And he had a lot to think about. The Russian. Why did I dream about you? What did it mean?
That man—Kuryakin? He didn't know the name but he certainly felt that they'd met before. Why would he have such... erotic dreams. It had felt so real, so... right. As if they fit, belonged to each other.
Napoleon rubbed at his temples, trying to sooth a headache that was becoming uncomfortable. This Kuryakin stirred something inside, affected him in a way that Kramer hadn't. They had history together, he was certain of that, now. Whether it was good or bad remained to be seen, but he felt—instinctively—that it was positive. With Kramer, he felt nothing but unease, and that unease had grown more prevalent with the dawning light.
What had Kuryakin said? Trust your instincts. Now, his instincts were telling him something was definitely awry.
The door clicked open behind him and Kramer, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, stepped out onto the porch. "There you are. Thought you'd gone A.W.O.L. Coffee?"
"On the stove," Napoleon replied, rising to follow Kramer back in side the cabin.
The Russian—Kuryakin—was awake, too. He watched as both men entered, and his eyes, wary of Kramer, softened when he looked at Napoleon. It made Napoleon tremble inside.
Trust your instincts....
Napoleon watched Kramer as he poured himself coffee, his attention flickering between Kramer and Kuryakin, Kramer and Kuryakin. Kramer seemed to sense his distraction.
"W'sup?" he asked, his voice slurred from lack of sleep. Kramer hoped the chopper came early, playing Mr. Nice Guy was becoming a strain—he hardly got any sleep last night, and when he did manage to drop off, Solo woke him with his midnight ramblings.
"Nothing. Nothing at all," replied flatly.
Maybe it was the dispassionate tone that bothered Kramer. He turned to look at Solo, taking a sip of the bitter coffee as he did. Solo smiled and Kramer felt his unease fade a little. "Good. That's good." Kramer put down the cup and scratched at his genitals, distracted by his own thoughts. His head nodded towards the door. "I'm gonna take a leak." And while he was out there, take a look about, see if help was on its way. Solo was starting to get restless, and it was beginning to bother Kramer.
Napoleon followed Kramer with his eyes as the man left. As soon as the door closed, Napoleon moved into the small kitchen area. He pulled open the drawers, not really knowing what he was looking for, but they held little except a few pieces of rusted cutlery.
He tugged open a cupboard door, rifling through the assortment of kitchen ware. His inquisitive hand came across a blade, an old bread knife, pitted with age, but with a usable serrated edge. He pulled it out, held it before him, studying his find intensely, as though it were Excalibur itself.
Then he returned back to the main room, looking down at their captive. Illya. Wasn't that his name? That word sounded comfortable, like putting on a pair of old shoes. He whispered the word quietly and it rolled off his tongue like he'd said it a thousand times. He said it louder, and the blond looked up and nodded enthusiastically as he heard his name and tried to talk around the encumbrance in his mouth.
Napoleon dropped to his knees. Follow your instincts....
His instincts may get him in trouble, but at this moment in time, this was the only thing that felt right to him.
Illya's eyes widened, watchful of the blade that Napoleon held before him. It neared his face, and for a moment Napoleon saw disappointment and fear in the blue eyes. Then the blade moved away, and Napoleon was turning Illya on his side, sawing at the ropes around his wrists.
Illya felt the rope give and tentatively moved his stiff arms to restore the circulation, wincing as the motion pulled at the wound in his shoulder. Napoleon helped him sit up, rubbing Illya's wrists as if trying to erase the soreness left by his bonds. Illya looked at him and yanked the gag down from his mouth, letting it hang around his neck. He grinned as he unfastened the ties binding his ankles. Napoleon still looked doubtful, keeping a tight grip on the rusty knife in his hand, just in case. Illya discarded the ropes and clasped Napoleon by the shoulders. "Everything is going to be fine, my friend."
The epithet seemed to free Napoleon from the misgivings that gripped him. He let the knife drop from his grasp and suddenly flung his arms around Illya, clasping him close in a crushing embrace. "I think I know you. I think I remember."
Illya eased Napoleon back, unable to keep the happiness from his face. "Good. But we'll talk later. Now, we need to deal with Kramer. Where is he?"
"Outside, using the John." Napoleon helped him to his feet and followed behind as Illya walked across to the window. He carefully pulled the grubby curtain aside and peered outside. The door to the outhouse was open, but there was no sign of Kramer.
"Wait here," Illya told him. "I'm going to find Kramer."
"You can't, you're hurt."
Illya glanced down at the hole in his jacket, moving his shoulder to test the range of movement in the joint. It was painful, but nothing major had been hit. "It's okay."
"No! You're in no condition to fight."
"And you are," Napoleon replied, nodding towards the injured shoulder.
Illya's voice softened. "I'll be fine. Stay here. Be safe." He looked about, saw his Special on the table and picked it up. "Take this."
"You take it. Kramer's armed, you may need this."
Kuryakin approached him and Napoleon's breath caught in his chest at the expression of concern—of love—in his face. "I have my training to rely on. For the moment, you're defenceless. I couldn't bear... I wouldn't want anything to happen to you." Napoleon reached out to touch him, but Illya slipped away and was at the door before he could formulate a reply. "Wish me luck," Kuryakin said, as he slipped out of the door.
Napoleon took the place at the window vacated by Illya, and watched, the safety catch off the Special and his finger firmly on the trigger.
Kuryakin trotted silently over to the outhouse and peered through the cracks in the ancient wood. It was empty—which meant that Kramer could be anywhere. Illya glanced about. There were a few out-buildings; a woodshed, a dilapidated corral and small storage shed.
Illya had decided to check out the storage shed first, when something moving caught his eyes just at the edge of the trees. Distracted, he looked in that direction, only to see it was a crow. He started to turn but before he could, something solid and hard hit him in the back. He staggered from the blow, but didn't fall. Catching himself on the fence, he pulled himself around to face his attacker. Kramer stood panting with exertion, a long piece of four-by-four in his hands.
"I guess it had to happen sooner or later, but I figured Solo's conditioning was good for a little while longer, yet." Kramer sneered. "Looks like I'll have to revise my methods." He took another swing with the wood, but Illya caught it and pushed against the end, forcing Kramer backwards. Anger contorted Kramer's face as he dropped his hold on the wood and rushed at Kuryakin, trying to get a grasp around his throat. Illya deflected one hand, sweeping his arm upward in an arc, but Kramer's other hand managed to get a hold on his windpipe. Fury fuelled Kramer's fight, and Illya was momentarily overcome by his opponent.
Illya clawed at the hand gripping his neck, while his free hand chopped into Kramer's side. It loosened the grip and Illya staggered back, gasping for breath.
Kramer took advantage of the lull, shoving Kuryakin hard against the fence, digging his thumb painfully into the wound left by Napoleon's bullet. Illya cried out in agony as pain radiated through his whole body, immobilizing him just long enough for Kramer to get the upper hand. His legs buckled as nausea threatened, and he dropped to the ground. His one thought as he hit the earth was that he had let Napoleon down. He had miscalculated when it came to Kramer, and Napoleon would pay the price. A vicious kick in the side toppled Illya over, doubling his pain.
Kramer laughed as he reached for the pistol he had tucked down the back of his pants.
"Leave him!" Napoleon's voice called as he suddenly appeared on the scene.
Kramer pointed his weapon at the blond head, grinning in Napoleon's direction. Napoleon had his gun trained on Kramer, his finger trembling on the trigger. "It's a stalemate, Kramer," he called out. "Put the gun down."
Kramer's laugh was mocking. "Stalemate? You think?" He stepped away from Kuryakin, spreading his arms wide, presenting an easy target. "Go ahead. Do your worst."
Kramer made it easy for him, not just by standing still but with his contemptuous laughter. Napoleon hated that laugh: it was twisted, full of cruelty. It was so easy to put a little more pressure on the trigger. He felt it pass the point of contact and heard the hammer click home—on an empty chamber. Mechanically, he fired again, and again, but the weapon was plainly empty.
Kramer whooped with delight. "You dumb fucker. You think I'd leave a loaded weapon with an U.N.C.L.E. agent? I emptied the gun last night. Better safe than sorry, right?" The gun in his own hand went back to covering Kuryakin as the chuffing sound of a helicopter approaching caught his attention. He grinned down at Kuryakin. "Well, looks like the cavalry's arrived. Right on time. I'd like to thank you, Kuryakin. You know, credit where credit's due. I couldn't have accomplished any of this without you and your little gadgets."
The chopper was getting close, approaching Kramer from behind. He could feel the breeze picking up as it neared. The snow was whipping up fast as the helicopter slowly landed behind him. "Okay, let's go, Solo. One wrong move and Kuryakin, here, gets it. I can afford to loose your buddy, but I can't afford to loose you."
Kramer heard the door of the helicopter click open behind him and shouted to the pilot, "I could do with a hand, here. I can't cover them both!"
"You won't need to, mate." Kramer risked a glance over his shoulder, puzzled by the reply. Mark Slate stood, poised just outside the door of an U.N.C.L.E issue helicopter, his Special aimed at Kramer's head.
"What the fuck....?"
Slate took a step nearer the Thrush man. "Why don't you put the gun down?"
"I don't think so!" Kramer shouted, looking shaken. "I've called for help. They'll be here soon." He risked a glance skywards, hoping to see another helicopter on the horizon.
"Don't hold your breath, mate, they won't be coming," Slate said. "We intercepted them on the way here."
Kramer frowned. "I don't believe you."
"When you activated the communicator, you activated the distress signal." Slate shrugged. "I homed in on it. We bumped into your friends on the way. Believe me, they're not coming." Slate stepped closer and Napoleon mirrored him, coming towards Kramer from the opposite direction.
Kramer's fretful gaze wondered from one agent to the other as they advanced towards him. He took a step nearer Kuryakin, panic on his face as they neared. "Move away or I'll kill him!"
"We're all expendable," Slate said. "I'll be sorry to see him go, but...." He shrugged, as if the matter were inconsequential. "On the other hand, if you put your weapon down, there's a strong chance you may live."
Kramer's bravado deserted him. His hand shook, making his aim waver. "If I put this down, you'll kill me."
"I'm going to kill you if you don't," Slate advised him. He decided to give Kramer a few seconds to think it over, then he was going to blow his brains out. If he was quick enough, Illya would survive. "You'd better make your mind up quick. I'm freezing my arse off here, and it's making me cranky." Slate raised the gun, sighting Kramer between the eyes.
Kramer seemed to read his mind, suddenly flinging his arm back and throwing the gun away into the bushes. Before he could raise his hands in surrender, Napoleon was on him, landing a punch square to the jaw. It stung his fist with a satisfying pain and he felt no regret when he saw Kramer laid out cold in the snow. He turned and held out his other hand to Illya, pulling him to his feet. "Are you alright?" he asked.
"Thanks. I'm fine," he said, breezily, brushing the snow from his jacket. He turned to Slate, scowling. "You'll be sorry to see me go?" he said, sounding a little peeved as he repeated the Englishman's words.
Slate grinned. "Well, I would. You're the only one in New York who can drink beer like an Englishman." He holstered his gun and gestured at the helicopter. "Your carriage awaits, m'lord."
Illya never liked coming to Medical: even the smell was enough to make him nauseous—though, if you were going to be nauseous, then this was the place to be. It was a place he associated with pain and suffering and endless, sleepless nights.
Still, the Med section did have its uses.
"Mr. Kuryakin. How's the shoulder?"
Illya forced a smile as Dr. Spooner greeted him at the door. "Fine. How's my partner?" Illya replied, quickly changing the subject. His shoulder was okay: he was a fast healer. Napoleon's wounds, albeit mental, had taken slightly longer to heal: the mind was a complicated, delicate organ. It couldn't always be healed with rest and recuperation. Napoleon's memories had returned with frustrating slowness, and somewhat fractured and slightly awry.
"He's champing at the bit, so to speak," Spooner said. "He's packed and ready to go." Spooner turned and Illya followed down him into the corridor.
"What about his memories?" Illya asked.
"Pretty much intact. Ninety percent perfect, near as damn it, though I think I told you before, he's had a few confusing episodes, mixing reality with fantasy." Spooner sighed. "He may be in for some disappointments. For instance, he believes he owns a red Porsche."
Illya snickered. "I hope you set the record straight?"
"Oh, no. As his friend, I thought I'd leave that privilege up to you."
"Thanks." Illya chuckled. "Boy, is he going to be disappointed."
"Indeed," Spooner agreed, with a smile. "But he's fully functional, otherwise. At the rate he's going, he should be back in the field in another couple of week. Ah, here we are." Spooner paused outside a door and knocked. The door opened immediately and Illya couldn't help grinning at his partner's enthusiasm.
They stood looking silently at each other until Spooner coughed. "Well, I'll leave you to it. Goodbye, gentlemen. Try to leave it a little longer next time you decide to visit."
Napoleon was the first to speak. "I've missed you."
Illya had been away a few days on business, but he'd missed Napoleon, too, anxious to return in case his partner needed him.
"Well, I'm here now. Ready to go?" Illya asked.
Napoleon raised his suitcase aloft in reply. "Lead the way."
Napoleon had been disappointed to learn he didn't own the red Porsche. Still, he supposed the U.N.C.L.E. issue sedan was more practical, in a homey sort of way. What it lacked in style, it more than made up for in power. A little like his partner, Napoleon thought with a smile.
The drive back to their apartment block was comfortable, nice. It was the first time the two friends had been alone together, without the constant interruptions of the medical personnel. For the first time in weeks, Illya felt happy. But there was a strange tension in the air between them. Not a dangerous tension, nothing awkward, but a sense of...expectation, like the feeling of anticipation he got before a good meal.
And he knew Napoleon felt it too, as he felt his partner turn and look at him.
"Did I tell you I missed you the last few days?" Napoleon asked, his question inviting an answer.
"You mentioned it." Illya tried to keep his attention on the road. "Some of us don't have the luxury of lounging around on hospital beds, Napoleon. I had work to do: the world still needs saving."
Illya glanced at him sheepishly. "Well, not the world, exactly. They were having a problem with their computer systems in our Nicaragua office. Waverly asked me to sort it out."
"Which you did, naturally."
"Of course." He drove on, wishing Napoleon would turn his attention elsewhere. For some reason, his partner's scrutiny made him nervous. He realised Napoleon hadn't fully recovered but his usual occupation as passenger was to check out the mini-skirted females they passed. None seemed to hold his interest—not as much as Illya apparently did.
He pulled into the building's parking lot, grateful that they were both nearly home. It would be nice to spend some time together—if Napoleon wanted company, that is. If not, then Illya would say goodnight at the door and leave him in peace. There would be other nights when they could catch up.
They ascended in the lift, and despite the fact that the enclosed space was ample, Napoleon stuck close to Illya's side. They arrived at Napoleon's door and Illya waited, unsure if Napoleon wanted his company or not.
Apparently he did. "Coming in?" Napoleon asked, with a smile on his face.
"For a few minutes," Illya said, with a shrug. "If you're sure you're not too tired." Illya walked through into the apartment.
"Too tired for your company? Never." He heard Napoleon close the door and Illya turned to face his partner, almost colliding with him as Napoleon stepped so close it made Illya jump. There was a strange light in Napoleon's eyes: they sparkled with affection. And something else.
Illya was about to speak, when Napoleon gathered him into a tight embrace. "Napoleon?"
Napoleon smiled, leaning in to kiss his partner briefly on the lips. "Did I tell you I've missed you?"
"Yes, several thousand times. Napoleon...."
"Did I say how much?"
Napoleon leaned in to kiss him again, felt a little resistance, but persevered. Illya took some warming up, but once the engine was revved....
He felt Illya slowly melt against him, his mouth parted and Napoleon's tongue slipped inside, sensual and familiar. Napoleon felt himself grow hard instantly and pressed against his partner's groin, meeting a similar state of arousal. He couldn't keep the goofy smile off his face as he pulled away from the kiss. "You know what they say: Absence makes the heart grow fonder." Napoleon looked down and sighed. "And other parts harder, apparently."
"Napoleon, we need to talk..."
"I can't tell you how often I've dreamed about this," he sighed, deliberately pressing against his lover again. He didn't want to talk. He didn't want to waste any more time—they'd been separated too long. As Illya opened his mouth to speak, Napoleon kissed him again.
After a minute—or two—Illya reluctantly pulled away. "I wanted to talk to you about that. Napoleon..." It was difficult to concentrate with Napoleon nibbling his way down Illya's neck. Napoleon found a weak spot and Illya's knees threatened to buckle. Illya protested, tried to push Napoleon away. "Napoleon, I have to tell you something...."
"Talk later, action now," Napoleon said, reclaiming his partner's mouth.
Illya gave in. It was all he could do, go along with the tidal wave that was Napoleon Solo, swept in its wake and dropped gently onto a distant shore. Clothes were shucked off on the way to the bedroom and left were they fell. Then Illya was on his back and Napoleon was covering him, his hands exploring every part of him, trailing down his chest, feather-light caresses across his stomach. When his hand reached Illya's cock and stroked it gently, Illya hissed with pleasure. Napoleon carefully pulled down the soft skin covering the sensitive head of the penis and the tip of his finger drew lazy circles around the satin-smooth head. Illya almost bucked off the bed as the responsive nerves were stimulated.
Napoleon chuckled. "Like that?"
"Yes," Illya breathed. "Oh, yes."
Napoleon loved this control he had over his lover. It was a power he never wanted to loose. "Want me to stop?" he asked, teasing.
Illya's head shook a negative. "Want you to stop talking. Action now," he said, repeating some of Napoleon's words.
Napoleon leaned back in for a kiss as his hand stopped tickling the head and gathered up the hard shaft, stroking in a rhythm that was sure and practiced. His free hand gently squeezed Illya's balls, rolling them around in the palm of his hand. Illya thought he would go insane. The bombardment of pleasure was almost intolerable: he would explode if he didn't come soon.
Napoleon had stopped manipulating Illya's balls and his fingers traced behind them along the perineum. Illya tensed as Napoleon's questing fingers reached further back, touching the opening to his body. Napoleon felt the reluctance and pulled away from the kiss with a puzzled frown. "What's wrong," he whispered. "You want this, don't you?" He kissed Illya again, briefly but no less passionately. "I dreamt about you, being inside you...."
Illya's hand reached up, his thumb caressing Napoleon's temple in a soothing way. "Napoleon, about that. What you remember...what you think you remember..." Illya paused, closed his eyes, frustration evident in his tone. "It's what I was trying to tell you. We've never done this before."
Napoleon backed away a little. "What? You mean intercourse?"
Napoleon shook his head. "No, I remember." he insisted. He leaned near again, his breath hot against Illya's lips. "I remember how you feel." Hot flesh, tight around his cock. Illya's cry of passion. Coming inside him.
Illya pushed him back with a gentle pressure from his hand. "No. I mean, we've never done this before. Any of it. Us, together." Napoleon looked blankly at him. "In bed," Illya said. Napoleon looked confused: Illya sighed. This was going to be so difficult to explain, given their present circumstances.. "Sex. We haven't... had sex."
Napoleon withdrew slightly. "I don't understand. What are you saying?"
"I'm saying...." Illya took a deep breath. "Napoleon... we've never even kissed before tonight."
A small, uncertain laugh. "Sure we have. I remember."
Illya shook his head. "No."
As Illya feared he would, Napoleon withdrew completely, slipping off his body to lay by his side. Illya felt cold without his warmth, lost without his comfort.
Napoleon's hand rose to cover his eyes. "I'm not sure I understand what you're telling me," Napoleon said simply.
"Do you remember what the doctor told you? Your memories... are confused, mixed up. The drugs they used on you were meant to put you into a state of susceptibility. They were trying to wipe your mind, replace your thoughts with manufactured thoughts, for who knows what reason." Illya wriggled closer, intentionally brushing up to his partner, needing the contact. "When you escaped, you were still in a state of transition. You could recall very little. Some of the things you dreamed of, somehow became reality for you." Illya turned on his side, facing Napoleon. "Napoleon...I'm your red Porsche, too," he whispered.
Napoleon's hand dropped from his face, as realisation dawned. The Porsche had, apparently, been one of his dreams. He'd been shocked, and more than a little disappointed, to discover he hadn't owned one. He'd been so sure—just as sure that he and Illya were lovers. But the car had merely been his fantasy. So, had he fantasized about Illya, too? It would make a crazy kind of sense. He'd often conjured up images to help when he masturbated, that much he could remember. Why not fantasize about his partner, the person he felt closest to, safest with. Attracted to. The man whose body had gave him inopportune hard-ons whenever they were forced to share accommodation or a bed.
"Napoleon?" Illya's voice held a hint of uncertainty. "I know we haven't...you know... but I want this, too. I really do. That is, if you still want me?"
"Want you?" Napoleon repeated, as if Illya had suggested something heinous. His hand rose to brush against Illya's chin. "My red Porsche," Napoleon said huskily, as he turned on his side, matching Illya's position. Illya—the man of his dreams: classier than any sports car, with sleeker lines and much more... va-va-voom. Illya was worth a thousand Porsches.
Illya watched Napoleon thinking through what he'd said, and raised his hand to cover Napoleon's, squeezing it for reassurance. "This is real, Napoleon. This is me, now. No pretense, no fantasy, no dream. Just me—if you want me." He turned his head, planting a kiss on the palm of Napoleon's hand, before licking lightly across the skin at the base of the thumb. "Because this is what I've wanted, too." His eyes glanced at Napoleon's face, before turning coquettishly away. His lips closed over Napoleon's forefinger and sucked the digit into his mouth.
Napoleon groaned. "Christ..." he whispered harshly, before pulling his hand away and filling the void left behind with his own tongue. The kiss was deep, unbridled, filled with all the passion that had been denied him and only fulfilled in dreams.
The kiss broke and Napoleon asked, breathlessly, "Illya, are you sure..."
Illya didn't reply. Talking was fast becoming superfluous, he discovered. Napoleon responded better to direct stimulation. He draped a leg over his partners thigh, pulled him nearer, pressing his hard cock against Napoleon's. Napoleon responded as he hoped, taking control, gathering Illya to him, lifting him until he was lying on top. He wrapped his arms loosely around Illya's back, no demands, no pressure, just holding him.
Napoleon took a quiet moment to study his partner's face; unguarded, yet self-contained. Vulnerable in his trust of Napoleon. It was a humbling revelation.
Napoleon crushed him closer, wanting to remember this moment, this feeling, for the rest of his life—as if he could ever forget. He revelled for a while in the feel of his partner's weight, his smell, his taste, before daring to move his hands lower, amazed at the softness of Illya's skin, allowing himself to take pleasure in the small tremors that ran up his partner's back. Illya groaned in response as Napoleon arched up, his erection brushing across his lover's. Napoleon slid off to one side, laying Illya on his back. His hand stroked up and down Illya's stomach, his legs, the inside of his thighs, while his mouth licked the hollow of his collarbone, nuzzling Illya's throat, sucking his ear lobe. He lifted his head and kissed Illya again, lifted his hand to stroke across the broad chest, tracing the outline of the muscles, circling each nipple in turn.
Illya shivered as Napoleon circled the small peaks, moaned when Napoleon leaned forward and rasped his tongue across the erect little nub. Pleased, Napoleon continued his oral assault, while his hand slipped between their bodies and wrapped around Illya's erection. His hand began a slow masturbation of Illya's cock, driving him inevitably towards the edge. When Illya started thrusting into the circle of his fingers, Napoleon turned, pressing himself against Illya, rubbing his erection against the hard, muscular thigh. It was such a turn-on, to see Illya like this, so uninhibited, so completely given over to passion. It had been part of his fantasy.
Fantasy? No fantasy ever matched this reality. Soft skin, silky hair, warm body, rapidly becoming heated with passion. Their movements become more frantic, thrust matching thrust, until Illya felt his impending orgasm. He tried to extricate himself from the kiss, tried to warn his partner that he was about to cum, then it was too late, as Illya was plummeting over the edge, reaching a peak of pleasure that he'd never felt before. And he was taking Napoleon with him.
Illya thought he had blacked out for a moment: he lost all sense of time, of his surroundings. His awareness came back slowly, pleasantly, as he felt the caressing fingers of his partner against his face. Illya opened his eyes and smiled up at Napoleon.
"Hi." It was all he could manage for the moment, until he had his breathing back under control.
Napoleon chuckled. "Well," he said. "It's nice to know I didn't forget some things."
Illya smiled. "Anything else you remember?" he asked, playfully stroking his partner's chest.
Napoleon seemed to consider the question. "I have a few ideas. But we have all night. Anything in particular you'd like?"
"I bow to your greater expertise. I'd probably be happy with whatever you suggest. Except... maybe...you know...." Illya flushed.
Napoleon couldn't help but smile. Sometimes Illya was so endearing. "You mean intercourse?"
Illya nodded. "Not on a first date. I'm not sure I'm ready to make that leap yet. I can't make any promises."
"You might make no promises, but I do. I promise we'll do only what you're comfortable with. Okay?"
"And here's another promise," Napoleon added, kissing Illya on the mouth. "I'll always love you, Illya Nicovetch Kuryakin."
Illya grinned. "Just remember that—the next time you have your memory wiped."