The Chapter's End
Napoleon Solo sat in Mr. Waverly's office with his head propped up by one hand. His head throbbed relentlessly, and a neat set of stitches itched in his eyebrow. But his thoughts wouldn't leave the fact that when he entered Illya Kuryakin's room in the hospital wing, he only found an empty hospital bed. And then Mr. Waverly called him here.
Napoleon told himself that Illya was fine. Perhaps Waverly simply sent him home to recover in his apartment, in which case Napoleon would politely decline whatever job Waverly tried to shove on him, go over to Illya's apartment, take some jazz records out from under his bed, and then simply spend the day curled up with his partner.
Mr. Waverly broke through Napoleon's thoughts when he entered the room. Napoleon straightened in his chair and watched his superior sit down across from him. "I have a new assignment for you, Mr. Solo," he said. He set a folder down on the circular table and rotated it until the folder lined up with Napoleon. "It will be more of an observational assignment, so you should not have to worry about becoming more injured."
Napoleon didn't open the folder. "Sir, may I ask about Mr. Kuryakin's whereabouts?"
"Mr. Kuryakin has been assigned to a new post," Mr. Waverly responded.
"May I ask about this new post, sir?"
Mr. Waverly gave Napoleon a hard look. "Mr. Solo, it is better if you do not know where that post is."
"Is that because when you found Mr. Kuryakin and me, you found me holding him, sir?" Napoleon asked. "Or was it because you had to pry me off of him?"
With a wry smile, Mr. Waverly replied, "If you think those are the reasons why you've been separated, you could even say it was because Mr. Kuryakin called out your name while under the influence of heavy painkillers." When he realized Napoleon did not return a smile, Mr. Waverly sighed. "Mr. Solo, while I do not personally have anything against Illya Kuryakin's sexual preferences, it is something that makes the other employees," Mr. Waverly paused as he searched for the word, "uncomfortable. While I am not sure how long this relationship has been going on, now that it is out in the open, it is something I need to contain for U.N.C.L.E. to continue functioning smoothly. When you see someone throw a wrench into your machine, you do not let it get caught in the gears, Mr. Solo."
"So Illya is a wrench."
"You could say your colleagues' discrimination is the wrench," Mr. Waverly said. "You could even say your voracious libido is the wrench. The fact is, I'm not going to let my machine be shut down, Mr. Solo."
"Can't you explain it in some way?" Napoleon asked. "We were trapped in that pitch-black well for at least a full day, Mr. Waverly, and Mr. Kuryakin was in terrible shape. You remember how bloody my hands were—I didn't think he would survive. Perhaps it was so dark I didn't realize what I was doing. Perhaps Illya thought I left him alone to die in the dark. Are you sure there's nothing you can do to dispel these rumours?"
"And let them wonder every time you two go on a mission alone?" Mr. Waverly asked. "No, Mr. Solo. It would not be as easy as you think it is. Things would not simply return to normal. You would be discriminated against, and Mr. Kuryakin would find most of his time in U.N.C.L.E. headquarters intolerable. You're lucky. You've established yourself as a womanizer, so Illya would receive the brunt of it all. And imagine if T.H.R.U.S.H. caught wind of this information! It would result in some particularly nasty propaganda."
Napoleon frowned. His head continued to throb, and he found it difficult to focus his eyes on anything in particular. He pinched the bridge of his nose and asked, "Can you think about us for a moment? Why didn't you move me with him?"
"And lose both of my top agents in one swoop?" Mr. Waverly asked.
"Can I transfer later? Once you've found some replacements?"
"Do you really think you can be replaced, Mr. Solo?"
"With all due respect sir, do you really think Mr. Kuryakin can be replaced?"
"No," Mr. Waverly replied, "but your heart has mended before. Perhaps it will make you think twice before tossing aside one of our secretaries. You know I don't hire them specifically to pleasure you, Mr. Solo."
"What about him?" Napoleon asked. "Did he even get a say in this?"
"He agreed to it," Mr. Waverly replied, "and he agreed not to see you again. It would put him in danger. T.H.R.U.S.H. is extremely upset that you two escaped, of course."
"So I can protect myself but Illya needs protection?"
"Mr. Kuryakin is injured, Mr. Solo," Mr. Waverly said, "and most of all he is tired and ready for a new life. If he does not want to see you, I believe you should respect his wishes. T.H.R.U.S.H. could be tailing you as soon as you leave this building."
Napoleon focussed his eyes on Mr. Waverly, watching the old man's daft smile. Why wouldn't Illya want to see him again? He just didn't understand it.
"Do you need some time off, Mr. Solo? I can easily give Miss. Dancer this assignment."
"Yes," Napoleon said. He stood up. "I need some time off, sir."
"Excellent, Mr. Solo," Mr. Waverly said. "If you need any help with your recovery, feel free to visit our hospital wing."
"Oh, I don't need time off to recover, sir," Napoleon said. "I need time off to find Illya."
Mr. Waverly stood up in response. "Mr. Solo, I understand that you're upset, but this is for the safety of your partner. Is immediate closure more important than that?"
Napoleon frowned. "Mr. Waverly, I need to do this."
Mr. Waverly sighed. "I don't see how you can. He could be anywhere, Mr. Solo."
"But you know where he is," Napoleon said. "Sir, please tell me."
"For Mr. Kuryakin's sake, I cannot."
"If you don't tell me, I will leave," Napoleon firmly replied. "And then you will be out of your irreplaceable top agent. Is Mr. Kuryakin's safety more important than U.N.C.L.E. having the best team available?"
Mr. Waverly frowned. "Perhaps we do not need such a selfish agent on our force. You are sounding more suited for another agency we commonly deal with, Mr. Solo."
Napoleon softened. Did Waverly really think he was better suited for T.H.R.U.S.H.? "Please, Mr. Waverly. If anything goes wrong, I will protect him. I just want to make sure he's all right with all of this." Napoleon waited, but when Mr. Waverly didn't respond, he continued, "Because I am not all right with this, sir, and if I hear it from him, maybe it will help me come to terms with it."
Mr. Waverly unfolded a piece of paper from his pocket and began to write on it. "If we're going to do this, Mr. Solo, it is going to be done properly. Some of our men will create a distraction while you blend into a crowd to take a flight. If you suspect anyone, contact me immediately. You must understand that we do not want Mr. Kuryakin's position to be compromised."
Napoleon straightened. "Yes, sir," he said. "I understand."
"And it might be better if we leave it between you and me what this mission is about," Mr. Waverly replied, winking.
Napoleon smiled weakly. He replied, "Of course, sir." Mr. Waverly slid the note with Illya's address into Napoleon's hand. Napoleon's voice softened as he said, "Thank you, sir."
Rain eagerly greeted Napoleon as he stepped out of the airport. He held his suitcase over his head as he waved down a cab. He thought he made it through the journey without a T.H.R.U.S.H. tail and he felt his shoulders relaxing. He slid into the back seat of the cab and recited the destination on the slip of paper. He then folded the paper back into his pocket.
The cab driver made no motion to converse, and Napoleon was grateful. He smiled and looked out the window of the cab, trying to imagine Illya walking down these dreary streets and calling them home. He always thought Illya's home was with him, but perhaps he was mistaken. Napoleon tried to clear his thoughts as the windshield wipers flashed back and forth. He listened to the rain pound against the cab, and he felt his eyelids grow heavy.
The cab driver pulled over, and Napoleon handed him some bills without asking for change. He stepped out of the cab and stared up at Illya's apartment complex. He felt the rain cling to his hair and drip down his face. He walked up the steps and found the apartment door locked. He ran his eyes along the names next to the buzzers, and Illya's number read the name "Mallard." He pressed it, fearing a muffled conversation with Illya through a machine.
But no one answered.
Napoleon sighed and pulled his jacket tighter around him. A chill settled through him, and he sat down on the damp steps and pulled his suitcase into his lap. He told himself he would just wait. He could stay at a hotel overnight, but for now he would wait. Illya couldn't be out in this weather for too long, could he?
He leaned against the wall, feeling his eyelids droop. He listened to the gentle rattle of the rain against the pavement, and thunder rolled softly in the distance. A wave of warmth washed over him when he closed his eyes.
Napoleon found himself back in the well with Illya. He couldn't see him, but he could feel his partner quivering in his arms. He nuzzled Illya's blond hair and, despite feeling a thick, warm liquid pulsing out of Illya's head, he said, "It's going to be all right."
"Napoleon, I can't feel my arm," Illya said.
"It will be all right," Napoleon said. "We both have tracers on us, they'll find us."
Napoleon felt Illya reposition himself in Napoleon's arms, and Illya tucked his head beneath Napoleon's. He rubbed Illya's back and pressed his finger against where he thought the wound on his partner's head was. He then kissed Illya's hair, a faint tinny taste lingering on his lips. There was enough space for them to sit apart, but neither made any motion to separate. "Following me down this well was a poor choice, Illya," Napoleon said. "T.H.R.U.S.H. lowered me down here. You shouldn't have just jumped."
"I believe the correct words are, 'Thank you Illya for trying to save me instead of escaping.'"
Napoleon smiled. "Thank you," he said.
"It was foolish to get captured," Illya replied, "and I thought you could charm your way out of a paper bag."
"But not a well, it seems."
"No," Illya replied.
"Did you suppose they were going to blow up the entrance to this well?"
"No," Illya replied. "That is why I jumped down to rescue you. I thought you were injured and needed help getting out."
"And now your arm is broken."
"Unless I misplaced it somewhere up higher on the well, yes," Illya replied. "And you're perfectly fine, of course."
"I have a bump on my head," Napoleon replied.
Illya huffed, and Napoleon smiled again. He tilted Illya's chin upwards to gently kiss his lips. He heard Illya sigh and felt him tuck his head back under his chin. He rubbed Illya's back again, trying to keep his finger against the wound. He couldn't remember a time when he had felt Illya frightened. He knew Illya had felt it in him once when Illya retrieved him after he had been tied up and thrown into the water, but he hadn't felt it in Illya before. And he wasn't sure he liked it.
"I can hear how quickly your heart is beating, Napoleon," Illya said.
"We're going to be fine," Napoleon repeated. "We just have to wait."
The entrance to the well burst open with light—much earlier than Napoleon's memory told him it was supposed to happen—and he suddenly felt the wall shaking with force. He gasped as the light burst around him.
And he saw the rainy street again. A new weight was on his shoulder, and he looked up to see—"Illya?"
"I'm sorry?" the man asked, his hand firmly on Napoleon's shoulder. A cast contained his other forearm. "Who are you here to see? You can't sleep here."
Napoleon blinked, recognizing the features in Illya's face, but not the bright, plaid bowtie nestled into his shirt. "Illya, I'm here to see you."
"You're mistaken," the man replied. "I am Dr. Mallard."
Napoleon blinked. Of course. "Then I'm here to see you," Napoleon said.
Illya's face hardened. "Surely you're mistaken."
"No," Napoleon said. "I am not. Please let me in."
Illya huffed, but held out a hand to help Napoleon off the steps. Napoleon accepted it, feeling the muscles in his leg tighten as he stood. He took his suitcase and stepped into the apartment complex when Illya opened the door for him. Once Illya stepped inside, Illya led Napoleon to a stairwell. They walked up four flights without a word. Napoleon was nervous. Illya wasn't one for small talk or chatter, but he still knew when Illya's silence reflected displeasure.
Illya unlocked the door to his apartment and stepped in first. Napoleon followed him, and Illya shut and locked the door behind him. "What are you doing here?" Illya asked.
"Should you really be walking around in the rain with a cast?" Napoleon asked with a grin.
"Did you get my address out of Mr. Waverly?"
Napoleon's smile weakened. He set down his suitcase. "Why didn't you want to see me again?"
Illya sighed. "You and I both knew this relationship couldn't be long-term."
Napoleon frowned. "I didn't know that."
Illya shook his head. "Napoleon, you're a womanizer. Would you really be happy settling down with one man?"
Napoleon cupped Illya's cheeks with his hands. "If it was you, yes."
Illya put his hand on Napoleon's arm. "Well, maybe I couldn't see myself with you long-term. Waverly thinks you're reckless enough to get yourself killed, and sometimes I see that too. Napoleon, I can't bear to lose you like that."
Napoleon released Illya, but felt Illya's hand stay on his damp suit-jacket. He asked, "But you'll lose me now?"
"Yes," Illya said. "I would rather break off things now when I still care for you than when we just don't anymore."
"I don't understand why it has to come to that."
Illya smiled softly and ran his hand through Napoleon's wet hair. "You're soaked through," Illya said, "let me get you a towel."
Napoleon grabbed Illya's wrist and his cast. "No," Napoleon said. "Tell me right now why you don't think we'll work. Is it that we're both men? Is it that we're spies?"
"Napoleon, it's everything," Illya replied. "You overwhelm me. I wasn't sure we were going to get out of that well, and when I was in there with you, I was thinking about how much we hold each other back."
"Funny, I was just hoping you'd come out alive."
Napoleon released Illya and folded his arms across his chest. Illya carefully watched Napoleon before stepping away. Illya walked out of the room, and Napoleon took off his wet suit jacket. As he tossed it over a chair, he saw Illya walking back with a towel. Illya tossed it over Napoleon's head, covering a fleeting smile that cracked onto Napoleon's face. "I'm alive now, Napoleon," Illya said, towelling Napoleon's hair. "And I have a new assignment."
"I heard," Napoleon said as he took the towel off of his head. "It's a permanent one away from me, right?"
"Napoleon, do you really want to make this work?"
"Then come back to me in a year, I should be settled in by then and prepared for careful encounters. And if you still want me, then we can discuss it."
"It will give us both time to clear our heads," Illya said. "Maybe if we're not seeing each other all the time, these feelings will fade."
Napoleon wrapped his arms around Illya and pulled him tightly to his chest. "Illya, I will be back for you in a year."
Illya smiled weakly again.
"Tell me you hope so," Napoleon said, tilting Illya's chin upwards.
When Illya didn't respond, Napoleon gently pressed his lips against Illya's. He felt Illya's fingers twine through his hair and his partner's smooth cast against his ear. Napoleon murmured against Illya's lips, "Perhaps you should get me out of these wet clothes."
"Just once more," Illya replied. "A farewell."
"I prefer to think of it as a 'See you soon,'" Napoleon said with a smirk.
Illya rolled his eyes before Napoleon kissed his neck. Illya began methodically unbuttoning Napoleon's shirt as Napoleon kissed where Illya's neck and jaw met. Napoleon breathed Illya in, fearing it would be the last time. Would Illya smell the same in a year's time? Would he even still be here? Illya pulled Napoleon's shirt off of him as he softly said, "Is there any particular reason why you have stopped kissing me?"
"I'm just savouring the moment," Napoleon replied.
"Stop being ridiculous," Illya said, loosening Napoleon's tie.
Napoleon replied, "That, my dear friend, is impossible," and he kissed Illya's neck once more before trying to undo his bowtie with his teeth.
Illya unbuttoned Napoleon's trousers and tried pulling them down past his hips while Napoleon continued to struggle with Illya's bowtie. "Must you be so excruciatingly slow?" Illya asked.
Napoleon purred and coiled his arms around Illya's waist, "If it means more time with you."
Illya huffed and pushed Napoleon off of him. He pulled off Napoleon's tie, but then took Napoleon's hand. With only a stiff glance, Illya led Napoleon into his bedroom while Napoleon quickly kicked off his shoes and stepped out of his pants as he walked. Illya released Napoleon's hand and began undoing his own bowtie. Napoleon said, "I was doing that."
"You are slow."
"Are you trying to suck all of the romance from this?"
"Perhaps I am concerned over the lack of sucking elsewhere," Illya said, folding his suit jacket onto a chair and setting his bowtie on his dresser.
"Well, you needn't worry about that," Napoleon replied.
He sat down on the bed, watching Illya take off his suspenders while he peeled off his socks with his feet. Illya took off his shirt (giving it a good yank to get it over his cast) and set it down on the dresser. Sitting up on the edge of the bed, Napoleon pulled Illya towards him by the waistline on the back of his pants.
With a sigh, Illya complied and allowed his partner to turn him around. Napoleon felt his own excitement perk as he unbuttoned Illya's pants and pulled them down past his thighs. He nuzzled his partner's white boxers as Illya ran his fingers through Napoleon's mussed hair. Kissing Illya's stomach, Napoleon lowered his boxers, and he gently gripped the base of Illya's shaft as he licked the head of his cock.
As he began to suck on Illya's erection, Napoleon felt Illya's fingers grip his shoulder with his cast digging into it. Illya's body stiffened in his grasp while he let his tongue tease the underside of his partner's cock. Napoleon grabbed Illya's ass to buck Illya deeper into his mouth. Illya peeled Napoleon's hands off of him, and then grasped Napoleon's head to pull him off of his erection. Napoleon looked up at Illya, who promptly shoved him back down on the bed before kicking off his pants and straddling him.
Illya kissed Napoleon as he grinded his body up against his. Napoleon let his hands trace down Illya's back as he slid his tongue between Illya's lips. Illya slid his hand down Napoleon's boxers, squeezing Napoleon's testicles as he broke the kiss. He moved his body down lower to kiss Napoleon's neck, and Napoleon felt Illya pull down his boxers to the point that Napoleon could slide them off his legs. Napoleon smiled and curled his toes, feeling Illya's lips creep down his neck while Illya's hand held their erections together. He caught the white cast next to his head in his peripheral vision, feeling Illya's restricted fingers twist into his black hair. He led Illya's mouth back to his own, kissing him again as Illya began to rub their cocks together.
Napoleon arched his body upwards against Illya's, twining his legs with his partner's, desperate to feel them locked together. When Illya pulled away, Napoleon grasped Illya's hair to lead him back down for another kiss, feeling Illya pulse against him as Illya stroked their cocks faster. He flicked his tongue against Illya's, his moan stifled against Illya's mouth.
Illya drew his mouth away from Napoleon's to trace his lips down his neck again. Napoleon let out a quick gasp, digging his nails into Illya's back. "Illya," he half-groaned. He cleared his throat and said, "Illya, I would like to make a request."
Illya raised his head to watch Napoleon, smiling softly at his associate's sheepish grin. "What sort of request would that be, Napoleon?"
"Well," Napoleon repositioned himself beneath Illya, resting his hands on Illya's bum. "I would like you to, erm, I would like to feel you inside of me."
Illya raised a brow, but smirked. Napoleon thought he would never grow tired of looking into his partner's mischievous blue eyes. He released their erections to rub Napoleon's chest. "You are saying you want me to lead?"
"Please," Napoleon said. Illya turned his expression to a serious one, leaning down to kiss Napoleon's nipple. Napoleon squeezed Illya's ass as he grinded up against him. Napoleon sighed and continued, "No one else does that to me, so I would appreciate it if our last experience, our last experience for a while, is something I only feel with you."
Illya nipped Napoleon's earlobe, teasing his nipple between two fingers. Napoleon squirmed beneath Illya, hearing his partner's quick breaths as he opened the nightstand drawer. Illya's hand crept down Napoleon's body, and he murmured against Napoleon's ear, "Well, then, I better make sure it's something you'll feel for a while."
Napoleon let out a sharp gasp as Illya pressed a slick finger into him. Napoleon's hazel eyes shot towards the dispenser of lube, realizing why his partner opened the drawer. Illya began to pump his finger faster in and out of Napoleon, teasing the edges of his ass as he tilted Napoleon onto his side. Napoleon felt Illya slide out of his grasp as Illya manoeuvered behind him. Napoleon wrapped his arm around Illya's neck, forcing his partner's mouth back against his own. He felt Illya's fingers and cast trace down his chest as he bucked back against Illya's finger. Illya's erection throbbed against Napoleon's back while he moved his finger quicker to try to stretch Napoleon's ass further. "Stop teasing me," Napoleon murmured against Illya's lips.
Illya pulled his finger out to press the head of his erection into Napoleon's ass. Napoleon stretched his leg behind Illya, edging his partner deeper into him. Napoleon grit his teeth as Illya gently pumped deeper and deeper into him, and Illya kissed Napoleon's jawline while watching his partner's expression. Illya wrapped an arm around Napoleon's chest to press Napoleon against him. Napoleon bucked back against Illya, relishing in the feeling of Illya's body against his own.
Napoleon groaned again, feeling Illya tease his prostate as he thrusted deeper into him. Illya kissed him again, twisting his tongue back with Napoleon's. Napoleon breathed Illya in, trying to memorize every sensation of Illya against him. But his own body ached and throbbed in pleasure, and he found his thoughts fogging pleasantly as Illya's pelvis grinded up against his ass. Napoleon groaned again as Illya hit as deep as he could.
Illya pulled Napoleon on top of him, keeping one hand coiled around Napoleon's chest while the other ran down his chest. Napoleon nuzzled Illya, spreading his legs and feeling Illya buck deep into him. Through his eyelashes he watched Illya, and they both panted as Illya pounded faster into Napoleon. He relished in the feeling of his partner throbbing inside of him with Illya's blue eyes locked onto him. He always thought he and Illya would die together in combat. Perhaps they would only have time for one fleeting glance before a bright light tore them apart, but that glance would be enough for Napoleon. It would remind him of moments like these, where they ached together, breathed together, lived together. He felt Illya's hand rub his pelvis, the hand with the cast still digging into his chest. Napoleon knew death would only be a moment, so he decided he would stretch out these moments as long as he could. Napoleon groaned again as Illya began to jerk him off in time with his thrusts, and he felt himself growing weaker as his body arched against his partner's.
Illya cut off his own groan by gritting his teeth, and he gripped Napoleon tighter while he jerked him off and bucked into him faster. Napoleon cursed as he felt himself peaking. His limbs felt heavy while his chest felt light. He nuzzled into Illya's cheek and squeezed his eyes shut, feeling his partner's stubble against his face. Napoleon moaned Illya's name and arched his body upwards as he finished. He felt his hold on his partner weaken as Illya thrusted into him again and again. Illya panted against his neck, gasping as he came deep inside of him.
The pair panted and watched each other, staying tightly coiled together. Napoleon lightly brushed his lips against Illya, trying to memorize the tired, happy smile on his partner's face and the way sweat made his blond bangs cling to his forehead. He even tried to remember the stitches reaching out from Illya's head, and the itchy pinches his own stitches caused. Napoleon lifted himself off of Illya, feeling his body ache in response. He relaxed against Illya's outstretched arm, and he felt Illya absently rub his shoulder with his fingers and cast.
Napoleon kissed Illya's neck and murmured, "You're not going to miss this?"
Illya scoffed. "Of course I am." He hugged Napoleon against him for a moment before releasing him. Illya stared hard into Napoleon's eyes and said, "All things considered, I am very happy that I spent this chapter of my life with you, Napoleon."
Napoleon sighed, and he hoped his face didn't express how much disappointment he felt. "I suppose that marks my exit."
Illya smiled weakly and loosened his grip on Napoleon. Napoleon slid out of Illya's grasp, wincing as he sat up. He'd feel this encounter for a while, but it wouldn't be long enough. He slid on his boxers, and he heard Illya get off of the bed as he tried to find his socks. As he put his socks on, he saw Illya standing near him in a bathrobe, watching him with a stiff expression that Napoleon couldn't read.
Napoleon retraced his steps through the hallway, clothing himself under Illya's bright blue eyes. He wondered if Illya was trying to memorize the moment the same way he did. Napoleon straightened his tie in a mirror, fully clothed albeit a bit mussed. He watched Illya through the mirror. "So this is it then?" Napoleon asked.
Illya simply smiled.
"I'll be back in a year," Napoleon said, picking up his suitcase. "You can be polite and contact me if you move, or you can let me have fun and allow me to search for you."
"I wouldn't dream of robbing you of that pleasure."
Napoleon held his tongue when he considered saying, "since you've robbed me of every other one." So he simply kissed Illya lightly again and said, "Goodbye, Illya."
Illya folded his arms across his chest and replied, "Goodbye, Mr. Solo."
Napoleon frowned as he turned his back on Illya and stepped out of the apartment. When the door shut behind him, he leaned against it, pinching the bridge of his nose. He murmured, "You were happy with just a chapter, but I wanted the whole book to be about us."
Napoleon allowed himself to sigh, and then he straightened his back and smoothed out his suit. Gripping his suitcase firmly in his hand, he walked back out of the apartment building as if confidence brimmed out of him, as if Illya Kuryakin didn't linger in the back of his mind.
Napoleon Solo pulled out his communicator and said, "Open Channel D." He listened to the voice chirp back on the other side. He watched the rain and smiled as he said, "Tell Mr. Waverly I'm ready for my next assignment."