Illya lay on his side of the bed, back to Napoleon. It was strange, sharing a bed with Napoleon when they weren't on a mission. Strange to feel his warmth so close, and not feel that frisson of danger, too. Because they weren't on a mission, were not going on any more missions at all.
They had been retired from the field this past Wednesday. Too recognizable. Better use of your abilities. Times have changed. These and other phrases had been used, and he and Napoleon had nodded and uttered platitudes of their own. An honor to serve UNCLE. Willing to continue doing so in whatever function seemed best. Team effort. Good people working with and under them. It had all been so bland and anticlimactic—except for two moments. One came when Alexander Waverly himself, emerging from retirement for this meeting, had shaken their hands and said, to each of them, "Well done." He had kept Illya's hand for a moment longer. "Your American passport is waiting for you to claim it in Records and Administration," he had said, and Illya had been relieved. He hadn't liked to ask, but it had worried him. Now the worry was lifted, and he had smiled at Waverly.
"Thank you sir," he had said, his heart too full to say anything else. But Waverly had seemed to understand, had squeezed his hand once and released it. That had been one of the best moments of his life, and he would treasure it forever.
The other moment had come afterwards, when he and Napoleon had stood outside in the hall. Illya had been poised on the verge of hurrying down to Rec-Admin to claim his passport, when Napoleon had put out a hand and stopped him.
"Illya—I just want to say it has been a privilege to work beside you all these years. To begin with, as you know, I didn't want a partner. But Waverly said you were UNCLE's best, and he was right. Thank you for everything."
"Oh." He was pleased, because Napoleon Solo never paid empty compliments, everyone knew it. If he was saying these things it was because he meant them. "Thank you." But there was a pang of grief, too, because it sounded very much like a goodbye—or at least a prelude to one. "It's been a privilege to work with you, too."
"Well. Just because we're no longer field partners doesn't mean we can't spend time together. I hope ... I mean, I don't want us to drift apart now. What we had—have—is too special, and too rare, just to let it fade away because we no longer work together."
"I don't want that either." The intensity of his feeling must have been in his voice, or his eyes, because Napoleon had looked hard into his face, and taken a step closer.
"In fact, why don't you come out to Jillian's with me this weekend? She's having one of her summer house parties. There'll be good food, good company, and we can start getting used to one another all over again. Yes?"
He had been about to say no. He wasn't fond of social gatherings and, in fact, found them uncomfortable and awkward. He liked Napoleon's sister Jillian well enough—he had eaten Thanksgiving dinner at her house a few times over the years—but what would he say to her, or her husband Lloyd, for a whole weekend? But that, 'Yes?' in Napoleon's best not quite an order but more than a request voice took him off guard, and he had nodded his head before he was fully aware he was going to do so. Then he was glad, because Napoleon looked so pleased.
"Good. That's ... that's good, Illya. I'll pick you up at your place Friday morning. They'll give us a break between assignments, it's standard. We'll stay through Monday and come back Tuesday morning. Yes?"
"Yes," he had answered, and laughed up at Napoleon because it was quite like the old days, the way he had planned it all out. Napoleon had laughed back at him.
"Good," he had repeated. "See you then."
"See you then."
It had been a surprise to find the house full of company. Well, he had been surprised. Napoleon hadn't been, had seemed to expect his older brother Charles, Jillian's brother-in-law Frank with his wife and children, Lloyd's business partner and his wife and children, plus assorted nieces and nephews and cousins and their families. Bur after the first moment of dismay Illya had realized he should be relieved. No worry now about what to say during intimate family dinners. Everyone else did all the talking necessary, and all he had had to do was ask for ketchup, praise Jillian's cooking, and make an offer to help clear the table, which was firmly rejected.
"You go on," she had said and waved her hands in a shooing gesture. "This is ladies' work." Two of the nieces had groaned and protested but a sharp look from Jillian quelled them, although Illya heard them grumbling, as they cleared the table, about old fashioned ideas, and about gender equality meaning nothing unless it included dirty dishes.
Napoleon must have heard them too, because he had promptly begun clearing away condiments and saying things to them that made them giggle, and blush, and hurry to assist him. Illya had smiled and gone out on the deck, where he found wine, and several books, and a very comfortable lounge chair where he had passed the evening, alternately reading and looking out over the ocean. He hadn't seen Napoleon again until encountering him in the same bedroom Jillian had assigned to him.
Oh. He had paused, taken aback. Napoleon had grinned at him. "I hope you don't mind," he said, folding back the covers of the double bed. "I told Jillian you wouldn't. It's not the first time, after all, and she has a houseful."
She certainly did. "No, I don't mind," Illya had answered and he didn't, of course he didn't. So they had taken turns in the bathroom, read for a little while side by side, propped up against pillows, and now they lay in the darkness, together.
At some point during the night one of them moved. Illya was pretty sure it was Napoleon, because when the change in position brought his eyes open he was still staring at the bedroom wall, but that courteous space between them had vanished, and Napoleon's back was pressed up against his, warm and solid. Or maybe it was he who had moved after all. Did it matter? No. He smiled to himself, and slipped back into sleep.
The next morning the smell of bacon and coffee wafted into their room, and they rolled over simultaneously and bumped into one another. Napoleon, hair tousled into endearing spikes and waves, smiled at him. "Well. Good morning."
"Good morning." He smiled back at Napoleon. "Breakfast smells good," he offered shyly because he didn't know what else to say, and it seemed that someone should say something. Napoleon reached out, rumpled his hair.
"You have no idea," he said, and sat up. "Last one there gets cold coffee." He sprang out of bed, and was in the shower before Illya could catch up so he was last, no way out of it but the coffee wasn't cold. It was still bubbling away in its pot, and the pot sat on the buffet table, surrounded by food. Illya stopped and looked at it.
Platters of bacon, and scrambled eggs, muffins and pastries. More platters of pancakes, and French toast, and waffles. Bowls of fresh fruit. Bagels and four types of cream cheese. Oatmeal and cold cereal and three kinds of toast. Orange juice, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice and grape juice. And, to top it all off, Napoleon himself behind a griddle taking orders for omelets. He tipped his chef's hat to Illya when he saw him come in.
"Yours is already on," he said, and turned a delicious looking mound over to prove it. "Bacon, onions, mushrooms and cheese, am I right?"
"Yes." He was dazed by the abundance that everyone else seemed to be treating so casually, and bowled over by the sight of Napoleon so ridiculously attired. Besides the paper chef's hat he wore an apron that said, "Kiss the Cook". Even as Illya watched him one of the business partner's grown daughters leaned over the table and did so, right on the mouth. Napoleon laughed and gave her the poached egg she had evidently requested. Then he slid Illya's omelet onto a plate, and added a pile of hash browns. "Take whatever else you want," he advised. "People are sitting everywhere, but Jillian saved us two spots at the table on the deck. Go on out. I'll be right there."
"All right," Illya said obediently and stopped long enough to add strawberries, a bagel, two slices of French toast and a glass of cranberry juice before stepping outside.
The sun poured down on the deck, the ocean stretched out wide and blue in front of him. What a good idea this was. How nice of Jillian to include him, even to saving him a seat so he wouldn't feel left out. She was waving as if worrying he might not see her, which was unlikely. Jillian had blazing red hair, and was wearing an enormous straw hat with a purple bird of paradise perched on the brim. He had to smile at it, and at her. She smiled back. Despite the difference in coloring there was a strong resemblance to Napoleon around her mouth and, like Charles, she shared the dimpled chin.
"Is Charles coming?" Illya asked and she nodded.
"Yes. He'll be here in a little while. All the men are golfing today, Illya—do you want to join them?"
He could hardly imagine a less inviting prospect. "No, thank you."
Her forehead wrinkled in concern. "I thought Napoleon said you golfed."
"I can golf," he answered carefully. "I prefer not to. Don't worry," he added hastily because she was, he could tell. Jillian liked all her guests to be busy all the time, and was continually arranging activities for them. Illya had already heard two teenage boys complaining about being 'corralled into Aunt Jillian's blasted games'. "I'm sure I'll find something to do."
"Well, there's beach volleyball later on, and ... oh! Wind surfing this afternoon—you'd like that, wouldn't you?"
He considered it, and looked again at the water. "Yes," he said finally. "Yes, I think I would enjoy that. Thank you."
"But in the meantime ... Napoleon!" Napoleon had just arrived with a full plate although, when Illya looked at it he saw it was mostly fruit, a low fat yogurt and an egg white omelet. He smiled. Napoleon was scrupulous about his diet. 'You stay thin,' he had complained to Illya once. 'But if I don't watch myself I'll get paunchy—especially with the fieldwork winding down.'
'You exercise,' Illya had pointed out and Napoleon had grimaced.
"That I do, but it's a poor substitute for running for your life'. He had laughed then, and Illya had laughed with him. Now, looking at Napoleon's breakfast, he laughed again. Napoleon poked Illya's French toast, and laughed back at him.
"Napoleon!" Jillian joggled his elbow. "Illya doesn't want to go golfing!"
"What are you doing, Illya, throwing a monkey wrench into Jillian's arrangements?"
"I don't mean to," he protested, face hot. "I'll just sit here and read until the wind surfing."
"But that won't be until much later," Jillian worried. "Because I know Napoleon and Charles both want to do that too so the boards won't be delivered until I expect everyone back from the golf club. So no lingering at the nineteenth hole," she added sternly to Napoleon, who laughed again. Illya frowned.
"But golf has only—"
"I've got it," Napoleon said, and plucked a strawberry from Illya's plate. "Didn't you say you needed someone to go get the mail and the newspapers? Illya can take the bike. Is that all right with you, Illya?"
The prospect of a long solitary bicycle ride was indeed a pleasant one. The wind in his hair, the countryside stretching out around him, no one to talk to him or distract him ... Napoleon took another strawberry. "See that?" he said to Jillian, and Illya wondered what he meant. "You've got to give Illya a chance to get off by himself, especially when there's a crowd like this."
"Fine," Jillian said, clearly relieved to have the problem of Illya's morning activities solved. "I'll give you directions and the mailbox key. Just pick up one of each of the dailies. There's a basket on the bike. Thank you, Illya."
"You're welcome," he answered and watched her leave the table, clapping her hands at the teenagers who had sprawled out on beach towels on the sand. "Come on!" he heard her call to them. "The net is set up over on the cove side, and the volleyballs are in the shed!" There was some grumbling, but soon enough the beach was deserted again. Napoleon was shaking his head.
"So I'll see you later," he said to Illya. "We're having lunch at the club. Ask Jillian to set you up with a picnic so you can take your time today. There's lots of pretty places between here and there. Have fun."
"You too." He watched Napoleon clear his place and walk away towards a group of men standing and jingling car keys, clearly making arrangements for who would ride with whom. Illya smiled and stretched out his legs. He applied cream cheese to his bagel and ate it slowly, enjoying the sun, and the heat, and the sparkling water dancing away from him into the blue horizon.
Illya pedaled along the two lane blacktop road. "It's not a fancy multi-gear bike," Jillian had told him, "but it'll get you where you're going." Now, sweat trickling down his face, he snorted. It wasn't an any gear bike and climbing uphill—which he was now—was a challenge. But he was strong, and fit, and he rose to the challenge, standing on the pedals and putting his body weight behind every push. He had refused a helmet, and refused too the directions, instead consulting a map. Jillian had looked skeptical and added an extra sandwich and drink to his lunch "just in case," she said pointedly. But Illya wasn't lost. He was taking a circuitous route to the small town where the post office and stationary store were, but he knew exactly where he was going, where he had come from, and where he wanted to stop along the way. And as he crested the hill he saw his destination. Down below was a tiny pocket harbor with sailboats bobbing at their berths. Picnic tables dotted the sand along the shore and that was where he would have his lunch. There was a separate little beach for swimming and he would do that first, then eat, then swim again before getting back on the bicycle.
He would thank Napoleon when he saw him tonight. This had been a wonderful idea. Away from the noise and crowd at Jillian's, reliant on nothing but his own strength and this simple two wheeled conveyance—it was wonderful. It had been wonderful all morning, biking wherever his fancy took him, down secluded lanes where the trees met overhead and created a shadowy tunnel, along a stretch of narrow beach path where no other vehicles were permitted, sea gulls soaring overhead, broken shells crunching under his tires, and now getting ready for a swoop down to the perfect lunch spot.
And he would swoop. It was a considerable hill, there was no other traffic and his legs ached from the prolonged climb. Well, he would rest them then. Yes he would. So he pushed off easily, hands strong and sure on the handlebars. Before his speed increased too much he tested the brakes, backwards pressure on the pedals and the bike obligingly slowed, although there was a spray of gravel as it did so. He released the pressure and settled in to enjoy the ride.
Before the next minute had passed he was flying. That was just how it felt. The bike rocketed down the hill and he rose to it, hair whipping wildly in the wind, tears blurring his vision. If he wrecked at this point it would all be over but he didn't think he would, and he didn't. The bike rattled, his cheeks stung, his fingers ached from their grip on the bars but he didn't slow down until he was nearly at the harbor, where the incline leveled out, and he saw a car turn onto the road. So he sighed with regret and braked, swerved a little, braked again and glided smoothly into the parking lot.
He left the bike, and his lunch, tore off his shirt and let it fall to the sand, and ran directly into the water. It felt delicious on his overheated skin and he did a flat surface dive, skimmed along the bottom until he couldn't hold his breath anymore, and rose. Turning, he surveyed the scene—the deserted beach, his bike lying on its side, blue sky overhead—in utter contentment he floated on his back, eyes closed against the blazing sun until a rumble from his stomach reminded him of the excellent lunch Jillian had packed.
He ate ham on rye bread, and roast beef on a Kaiser roll. He ate an apple, and a plum, and two oatmeal cookies. He drank soda and the caffeine zipped through his bloodstream, reenergizing him. What a wonderful day this was. What a good time he was having. He rested his chin on his hands and beamed at the water. After a while he went back in, side stroked out, treaded water for a few minutes, then returned with a powerful crawl. He didn't bother drying himself, just pulled his shirt back on, packed up his lunch remains and set out again.
The mail and the newspapers fit neatly in the rear basket with his lunch bag, and he headed straight back. It was cooler now in the late afternoon, and surely the golfers would be coming home too. Windsurfing was next on the agenda and he couldn't wait. Napoleon had said he would join him and how would that be, standing on their little boards, going where the wind and the waves took them, maybe close enough to talk, or at least close enough for him to see Napoleon, see that dark eager profile turned into the wind, see that powerful bronzed body ... he shivered, and suddenly could feel again Napoleon's back, right up against his. He shivered again, and increased his pace.
As it happened, the windsurfing had to be canceled. Before Illya reached the house dark storm clouds had rolled in, and he could hear thunder in the distance. He increased his pace and turned into the driveway just as the first drops were beginning to fall. He put the bike in the shed and hurried towards the back door, holding the mail and the newspapers against his chest to protect them from the rain.
The skies opened up just as he got inside and he swung the screen door shut and watched it pour. He wondered if the other men had returned from golfing yet, and in an instant heard, from the loud voices and laughter coming from the library, that they had. He laid his stacks of envelopes and rolled up newspapers on the kitchen counter and followed the sounds.
Napoleon was standing beside the fireplace listening to Jillian. She must have been talking about Illya himself, because as he stood there, hesitating in the doorway, she pointed to him and Napoleon turned. His face lit up and it warmed Illya all over. Napoleon looked so glad to see him! How nice that surrounded by family and friends as he was, Napoleon had missed him. Illya crossed the room to them.
"The newspapers and mail are on the counter," he said to Jillian and she felt the material of his shirt.
"You didn't get caught in that rain?"
"No, I just missed it." He smiled up at Napoleon. "So no windsurfing today."
"No, we left it too late. Tomorrow we'll get out there bright and early. Did you have a good ride?"
"Yes, thank you. Did you have a good game?"
"Yes, we did." Jillian had left the room, presumably to investigate the pile of mail, and Napoleon grinned. "Now you'll see something," he informed Illya gravely. "Plans disarrayed by weather? You think we'll all just get to lounge around now doing nothing?"
"What do you mean?" one of the nephews asked plaintively. "Won't we? I mean, I played beach volleyball all morning, and she had us lined up to either windsurf or go clamming this afternoon, but you don't think she'll make us do something now, do you?"
Napoleon put a finger to his nose and winked. "Wait for it," he said and sure enough Jillian appeared in the doorway and flicked the lights to get everyone's attention.
"There are games set up in the family room," she announced. "And there are tapes of classic football games by the TV. We're still grilling out for dinner—there's a covered veranda—so I'll need some of you kids to go out and clean the grill if you're not playing any games." The murmur of protest that had started up among the younger set quieted right down at this, and soon there was a mass exodus towards the family room. Napoleon took Illya's arm and walked him in the same direction.
"Well, what shall it be?" he asked. "Games or TV?"
"Illya, if you want to stay in the library and read that's fine with me," Jillian said, taking Illya's other arm and pulling him free from Napoleon's grip. "Napoleon acts like I'm some kind of drill sergeant or something. Of course you don't have to do anything you don't want to do."
Sitting by the library fire and reading did sound pleasant, but Illya shook his head. "No, thank you Jillian. I'll go ..." with Napoleon he almost said, and didn't. It didn't matter anyway because she just as quickly moved away, clearly relieved to have him accounted for.
He ended up playing chess with Charles. Around them was the buzz of conversation, the wood on wood sound of a skittles game, the swish of knock hockey. Napoleon was watching old football games with several of the other men, pointing and exclaiming as if the action were happening right then. Illya and Charles were a good match for one another, and after nearly two hours they had fought to a draw.
"Well," Charles said.
"Well," Illya echoed. Charles packed up the game and Illya turned to look for Napoleon, only to find him right at his shoulder.
"Good game," he said, and Illya nodded.
"Charles is a fine opponent."
Charles made him a mock bow. "As are you. Is that steak I smell?"
It was, and they went upstairs. Napoleon sat beside Illya, and Illya flushed with pleasure. Napoleon did that so readily, as if in this throng of people he naturally gravitated towards Illya, as if ... Illya didn't know how to finish that thought, but it pleased him. It pleased him very much. He kept casting quick looks at Napoleon while he ate, and frequently found Napoleon looking back at him. Every time that happened they smiled. After a little while Napoleon chuckled.
"What?" Illya put more steak sauce on his plate. "What's funny?"
"I've never seen you so distracted from your food, Illya Kuryakin. Do I do that to you?"
He flushed hotly, choked on his steak and coughed. He coughed so hard, and for so long, that conversation around them died down and everyone turned worried eyes his way. He ignored them, and finally managed to gulp down the offending piece of meat. Napoleon handed him a glass of water and he sipped at it. Napoleon watched him. "Is that a yes?"
"Know what?" '
"Napoleon ..." Illya looked at him, and flushed again at the expression he saw in those dark eyes. He wanted to look away, couldn't. Napoleon reached out and brushed a strand of hair back from his forehead.
"You know," he said softly, "things have changed, at work."
"Yes. Of course I know. I was at the meeting."
"Haven't you ever thought that if things were different, we could ..." he let the words trail off.
"Yes." Illya said that so promptly that he flushed once more. But he wouldn't play games with Napoleon, wouldn't pretend he didn't know just what he was talking about. "I have."
"Ah. So have I."
"Yes." He moved closer, so their legs pressed together under the table. "I have."
Illya didn't know what else to say, so he returned his attention to his plate only to see it whisked away. He began to protest, but then a piece of strawberry short cake piled high with whipped cream took its place, and the protest died unspoken. He applied himself to dessert, and nothing more was said.
Jillian was smart, Illya thought as they all sat in the library again. Despite the grumbling from the teen set, the day of near constant, structured activity had paid off. Everyone looked tired and happy. Even the adults, some reading newspapers, some watching the nightly news, some chatting with their neighbors, looked contented. He himself ... he stole a glance at Napoleon, sitting right beside him. In fact, Napoleon had pulled a wing chair over to where Illya had settled on a recliner, so he could be right beside him. And, as Illya's eyes continued to move over the room, a new realization struck him. Except for the youngsters, everyone was in pairs. Jillian and Lloyd were cozily ensconced on a loveseat. All the other married couples sat together, and most of the older teenagers had paired off. And he and Napoleon ... he looked at Napoleon again ... were also a pair. It was almost a declaration. Even as he thought that, Napoleon turned the page of the magazine he was reading, and the firelight caught the simple band on his finger. Illya looked at it curiously.
A plain white gold band adorned the third finger of Napoleon's left hand. Now where had that come from? He had never seen Napoleon wear such a thing before. It was lovely in its simplicity. What had Napoleon done since dinner? It seemed highly unlikely that he had gone out and gotten married, or even engaged, but ... Illya became aware that Napoleon was watching him.
"Is there something you need to tell me?" Illya asked lightly, determined to keep it light, as if it didn't matter, as if it meant nothing, and surely it did. Surely ...
"As a matter of fact, there is," Napoleon answered and his tone wasn't light at all. "Although tell isn't the right word."
"Oh?" He clung stubbornly to the bantering tone. "What is, then? Declare? Announce? Boast?" He would have gone on, but Napoleon answered him.
"Ask, Illya. There is something I very much want to ask you. But I'd like privacy for it. Are you ready to go up?"
"Already?" But even as he said it he noticed that people were leaving, that the fire had been allowed to die down, that Charles was drawing the screen. The kids were frankly yawning, and Jillian was gathering up cups and glasses. Illya hurried to help her, not knowing where Napoleon was going with this, hoping and not wanting to be hoping in vain, so he busied himself by carrying mugs and plates in to the kitchen, stacking them neatly on the counter. But when he turned Napoleon was standing in the doorway, and it was obvious from his expression that Illya had only postponed whatever was coming, not altered it. So he allowed Napoleon to precede him out of the kitchen, up the stairs, and into their bedroom. Napoleon closed and locked the door behind them, turned, and there they were. Standing in the middle of the bedroom, the one bed freshly made up, covers folded down invitingly. Illya swallowed, and lifted his chin. Here it came, whatever it was.
Napoleon put one hand in his pocket and removed a small box. At sight of it all Illya's apprehensions faded and were gone. He felt very calm as he watched Napoleon open the box, and when he saw the ring inside it, the one that was an exact match for the one on Napoleon's hand, he wasn't even surprised.
Napoleon would have thought this all out before doing something as extravagant and uncharacteristic as buying two wedding rings, so Illya didn't waste his breath and their time by asking questions, raising objections or posing obstacles. Instead he simply held out his hand, and let Napoleon slide the ring on. Then he looked up at Napoleon, smiled at the expression on his face, and closed his eyes for Napoleon's kiss.
Napoleon's kiss. Illya spared one moment for wonder that this was happening to him at all before he abandoned thought, and let feeling overwhelm him. There was nothing now but warmth, and sweetness; soft nuzzling lips that moved on his own, making him want more, and obligingly Napoleon's tongue slipped inside his mouth. Warmth turned to heat and he moaned, hearing himself with dim surprise. He was dizzy, so leaned against Napoleon to stay on his feet. Napoleon's hands moved down his back, encircled his waist and pulled him in, hard. There was heat down there too now, and they pressed their heat together, hips moving, hands moving, bodies moving as one. Somehow they got their clothes off, Illya tugging at Napoleon's pants, Napoleon pulling on Illya's shirt. Somehow they made it to the bed without separating and fell onto it together, flames rising around them.
There were no words. They had never needed words. Their mouths sought one another's, their bodies claimed one another's, their hands cherished one another. At Napoleon's silent urging Illya rolled onto his back, opened his thighs and pulled a pillow over his face to muffle his cries as Napoleon's lips moved down his stomach, kissing and licking, whiskers rough, hair smooth. Napoleon's mouth found his entrance, the most secret core of him and at that wet touch Illya's hips bucked so wildly that Napoleon had to wrap both arms around his legs to hold him still. He took his time, despite Illya's frantic, wordless pleading, preparing him thoroughly before he moved up and answered that pleading with his hard body, his hard cock.
It slid inside and Illya welcomed it, squeezed it, all along the length of it and now it was Napoleon burying his face in the pillow to silence the sounds he couldn't help making. Then he pulled the pillow away, tossed it aside, mouth coming down hard on Illya's mouth as they screamed out their passion for one another, into one another. The end, when it came, was a glorious frenzy, a frantic struggle for completion, a wild grinding gasping sweaty striving that wasn't enough, could never be enough ... and then it was. Napoleon came with a great sob and Illya caught his breath in that final ecstasy, cradled Napoleon's head between his hands and kissed him some more, tasting Napoleon's passion in those kisses, tasting his desire, tasting his love.
They lay there in the middle of the bed, Illya's head tucked into the crook of Napoleon's shoulder, Napoleon's arms around him, Napoleon's legs draped over him. Both their bodies shook from the pounding of their hearts, but after a while the shaking stopped, the pounding slowed until their hearts thudded together, slow and steady as the surf rolling ashore outside their window. Illya had just time to think of that comparison, and smile at it, before sleep pulled him under and he went, wrapped in contentment, cradled in love. Both of them, in love.