It's Illya's first year in America and his first Thanksgiving. He's been out of action for a couple of weeks and has hardly seen Napoleon, so he decides to cook a Thanksgiving dinner.
A first time story.
Written: November 2014. Word count: 3,260.
"You're doing very well, Mr. Kuryakin. I'm happy for you to dispense with your cane now."
Illya nodded. "Thank you, Doctor." He didn't tell U.N.C.L.E.'s doctor that he hadn't been using it all of the time for several days now.
"However, I still want you to rest your leg a few times each day. So I'm not clearing you for active duty yet. In fact," he said, suddenly staring with intensity at Illya, "I am not going to clear you for duty at all for another few days."
"But, Doctor, I can -"
"But you won't, Mr. Kuryakin. We both know that. If I give you permission to return to work, you won't rest your leg at all and that will only delay your full recovery."
"I could give you my word that I would rest," Illya said.
The doctor held his gaze. "You could, Mr. Kuryakin, yes. But would you?"
Rather to his annoyance, Illya felt his cheeks flush just a little. He lowered his head and stared at his lap. Why was this doctor able to read him so well? "How much longer must I remain at home?" he asked.
The doctor leaned back in his chair and stared at him. "A week."
"A week?" Illya exclaimed. "That is far too long. Doctor. Please, there are things I am able to do and I will try to rest my leg. Three days?"
Illya stared at the doctor and got the impression five days was what he had intended all along. "Very well," he said, standing up. "Five days."
The doctor smiled. "And remember to -"
"Rest my leg several times a day. Yes, Doctor, I will do that." Illya nodded and turned towards the door.
"Good. I'll update Alexander on your progress. He will be glad to hear you're improving."
"Thank you." Illya spoke the words automatically.
"Oh and, Mr. Kuryakin?"
"Yes, Dr. Fenwick?"
"Happy Thanksgiving for tomorrow."
Illya frowned; then nodded. "Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving to you too." He hesitated for a moment, but when Fenwick didn't say anything else, he merely inclined his head and left the doctor's office.
When he got outside he found, to his surprise, Napoleon leaning against the wall. Against his will, Illya felt a fairly broad smile appear on his lips at the sight of his partner. He hadn't seen a great deal of Napoleon during his enforced stay at home, and he realized quite how much he had missed him.
He hadn't been entirely certain when Mr. Waverly had partnered him with the suave, well groomed, expensively and stylish dressed Napoleon Solo, that all would go well. He hadn't been entirely sure of Napoleon's abilities (despite being the Section's number one agent); how could anyone who dressed so smartly and who never seemed to have a hair out of place be a good agent? Nor had he been certain the all American man would want to be partnered with a Russian.
So certain that the partnership would fail, he had kept his distance in the first few weeks - well he had tried to. However, it was clear Napoleon had other ideas, and as the days and then weeks went by, Illya found himself thawing under the genuine warmth and friendliness of Napoleon, until the day arrived when he realized Napoleon wasn't just friendly; he was a friend.
From that day Illya relaxed somewhat around Napoleon and stopped trying so hard to be the perfect agent and the perfect partner and the perfect Russian. He accepted Napoleon as he was and learned that outward appearances can be very deceptive. Napoleon was in fact an excellent agent, in spite of his perfect hair and stylish, expensive clothes; he was more intelligent than he wanted people to believe he was and he seemed to not only genuinely like and trust Illya, but also happy to accept him as he was.
Their friendship grew and quickly became close and intense in a way Illya had never believed he would want a friendship, want a relationship, to become. They somehow fitted together; they complemented one another; they trusted one another; they liked one another; they cared about one another; they worked; they were a strong team; the best partnership U.N.C.L.E. had; Alexander Waverly's finest. Illya tried not to let Napoleon see quite how fond of him he had become, but Napoleon had a way of being able to read Illya, of being able to get inside him as no one else had ever done.
Then the day had come when Illya had awoken to realize it wasn't just friendship he felt for Napoleon, but something far more. However, that was something Napoleon would never, could never know. Friendship between working partners was one thing, friendship between an American and a Russian was acceptable, anything else would not be permitted, would not be tolerated. Actually, technically Illya didn't know if, as far as U.N.C.L.E.'s and Mr. Waverley's rules went, that was true. However, for him it was. He might care about Napoleon beyond the way he might care about a good friend, but he would not act on it; he would not let Napoleon see or get to know how he felt.
"Hello, Napoleon," he said, making sure his voice didn't betray just how pleased he was to see his partner.
"Hello, Illya. What did the doctor say?"
"That I can stop using the cane, but that I must continue to rest my leg several times a day. He will not let me return to work for another five days - and even then it will not be to active duty." He frowned and stopped smiling, as he moved the cane from hand to hand. "I am quite certain I could -"
"No, partner mine, you couldn't. If Dr. Fenwick says another five days, it will be another five days."
"I could just stay in our office. No one need know I was even in the building," Illya said, his tone hopeful.
Napoleon shook his head and smirked. "Our esteemed boss thought of that. He's revoked your access privileges until Doc. Fenwick gives you the all clear."
Illya sighed. "I am getting very bored at home. There is a limit even to how many hours I can spend reading."
Napoleon squeezed his shoulder. "It's only for another five days, Illya. Look tomorrow's Thanksgiving - your first. How about we go out to dinner?"
Illya felt the smile return to his lips. He was about to thank Napoleon and agree, when he heard himself say, "Why do you not come to my apartment and I will cook us a Thanksgiving dinner?"
Napoleon stared at him, a look of surprise and curiosity on his face. "Can you cook?"
"Of course I can!" Illya said, sounding more confident that he actually felt. He could cook, of course he could. It was true he had never tried to cook anything as complicated as a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but he was certain he could do it. "I shall go to the library and find a book and go and buy everything and then tomorrow I will cook you a fine dinner."
Napoleon looked at him for a moment and then shrugged and smiled in what Illya knew was his indulgent way. "Very well, Illya. I'll look forward to it. What time would you like me to arrive?"
Having no idea how long a turkey and whatever else was involved would take to cook, Illya plucked a time out of the air. "We will eat at five; you can arrive whenever you want to before that."
Napoleon smiled. "I'll see you then. I'll bring some wine." He brushed Illya's bangs back from his forehead, something he tended to do from time to time, something which had surprised, shocked even, Illya the first time he had done it, but something he liked. He would never let anyone else make such a proprietorial gesture, but one of the many things he had quickly learned about Napoleon was that he was, where Illya was concerned, very proprietorial. He did tend to regard Illya as 'his'.
Illya smiled and nodded. "Thank you." Aware that the longer he stood talking to Napoleon, the less he would want to leave, he smiled again. "I shall go shopping. I will see you tomorrow." He turned to go.
"Don't forget to rest your leg." Illya shot Napoleon a look which caused him to laugh, push his hands into his pockets and saunter off. Illya watched him stroll down the corridor before he sighed, pushed thoughts he did not allow to enter his head away and made his way to the exit.
THE NEXT DAY
Illya go up very early, showered, dressed, made some toast and coffee which he consumed quickly and then turned his full attention to the task ahead of him: cooking a Thanksgiving dinner. He had borrowed several books from the library not only listing the traditional food, but also cookery books. One book was a very basic one which claimed that anyone could cook the perfect Thanksgiving dinner if they followed the step-by-step guide listed in the book. Illya was about to discover how true it was.
First of all he stared at the turkey, turning it around and examining it from every angle, before he put it back down onto the table and turned his attention to the step-by-step guide. The turkey was far too large for two people - Illya feared he would be eating turkey left-overs until Christmas - if not beyond! However, he had left it rather late to buy one, so had had to be happy with what had been left.
As well as the turkey he had stuffing, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, green beans, carrots, cranberry sauce and bread rolls. For dessert he had bought a pumpkin pie and a pecan pie - not knowing which, if either, Napoleon would prefer. Oh, and he had to make gravy for the main course; it apparently wasn't a proper Thanksgiving meal without the gravy.
As he stared at everything and once again read through the apparently easy step-by-step guide he wondered, not for the first time, what had possessed him to tell Napoleon that rather than go out for dinner, he would cook a Thanksgiving dinner for the two of them. Not only was it going to take a long time, he actually wasn't that confident, despite the 'anyone can produce the perfect Thanksgiving dinner' promise, that he could. However, he had invited Napoleon, so he had to at least make an attempt - and surely it couldn't be that hard, could it?
SOME TIME LATER
Finally the stuffed turkey was in the oven; the potatoes and sweet potatoes had been peeled and were sitting in bowls of water to keep them from discoloring. He had prepared the carrots, peas and green beans - deciding at the last minute not to turn the beans into a green bean casserole. He decided that was taking things one step too far.
Hot and tired, he slumped down onto the couch with a glass of vodka. He took a long swallow of the fiery liquid, sighed and began to rub his leg. He had been standing for too long and it was not only aching more than it had hurt for several days, he had also had to resort to once again using his cane. It seemed as if Dr. Fenwick had been correct when he'd not only refused to allow Illya to return to work immediately, but also when he had said Illya needed to rest his leg each day.
At least he could sit with his legs up for a while, the book assured him at this stage the turkey didn't need constant attention, and none of the vegetables needed to be cooked yet. He could sit and enjoy his vodka, rest his leg and think about . . . Napoleon.
Finally, now that he had the time to rest and not think about food and cooking times and whether he had enough saucepans and serving dishes, he had to admit what the real reason he had insisted on cooking Thanksgiving dinner rather than accept Napoleon's invitation to go out had been.
It was simply because he had known had they gone out, they would almost certainly have run into someone Napoleon knew, one of his many girl-friends for example. He might even have got to the restaurant and found two girls there as well. He hadn't wanted to share Napoleon. He told himself it was only because they hadn't spent much time together over the last two weeks, but as the smooth vodka slipped down his throat, he made himself admit it was because his feelings for his partner were getting more and more intense. They were getting to the stage where he wondered if he would be able to hide them any longer; indeed if he even wished to hide them any longer.
For a moment he swore softly in Russian at the futility of feeling he felt and the foolishness of it. He told himself he had to forget the unacceptable and inappropriate feelings, forget them and just concentrate on the partnership and friendship he shared with Napoleon. It wasn't easy.
TWO HOURS LATER
Carrying two bottles of wine, Napoleon knocked in the special code he and Illya shared on Illya's apartment door. As he waited for his partner to answer the door he sniffed and was actually surprised to smell the aroma of roasting turkey wafting through the door. It reminded him of his childhood, and for a moment he was taken back to Thanksgiving dinners of his past.
Illya's offer to cook Thanksgiving dinner for them rather than to go out had surprised him; it had surprised him very much indeed. Even though he had accepted the invitation, he had decided he wouldn't cancel the reservation at the restaurant he had already booked, as if he was honest he hadn't been certain of Illya's abilities. However, it seemed as if all was going well and he would get a home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner after all, even if it was cooked by a Russian.
The door opened and a rather red faced Illya, whose hair was hanging over his forehead, appeared. "Come in, Napoleon," he said, and before Napoleon could reply, Illya had limped - Napoleon noticed quite how badly he was limping - back into the apartment and was muttering in what Napoleon assumed was his native language. The scent now that he was inside was even more impressive, as was the array of pans on the stove and the dishes on the counters and table.
"I just have to baste the turkey," Illya called, bending down to take the turkey out of the oven. The next second he cried aloud, grabbed the counter with one hand, his leg with his other and swore in what Napoleon this time recognized as being Russian.
Napoleon swiftly put the bottles of wine down and hurried over to Illya, catching his arm, pulling him upright and supporting him. For a moment Illya held himself rigid, but then he relaxed and leaned against Napoleon. He was breathing more quickly and more heavily than usual and sweat shimmered on his forehead. When Napoleon was certain he wasn't going to collapse, he put his arm around Illya's shoulders, holding him securely.
"Come and sit down," he said. "Put your arm around me."
"I am fine. The turkey -"
"Come and sit down." Napoleon interrupted him firmly, and without waiting for Illya to argue or even agree, he began to walk slowly towards the couch.
"But the turkey. It needs basting," Illya objected, even though he had put his arm around Napoleon and was letting Napoleon lead him towards the couch.
"It can wait a few minutes. I'll do it once you're sitting down."
"I'll be all right in a minute. I can -"
"Sit down, put your legs up and leave the rest to me. You've done all the hard work, Illya. I can do the rest. Now here we are, let's get you turned around and -"
Napoleon didn't quite know how it happened. However, somehow in the process of turning Illya around, moving his arm from around his shoulders and taking Illya's arm to support him, he lost his own balance and suddenly they were both on the couch, Illya was in his arms and his face was very close to Napoleon's.
Suddenly it felt like the most natural thing in the world to put his mouth on Illya's and kiss him. It was a brief kiss, nothing more really than his lips brushing over the side of Illya's mouth. However, it was enough to make him realize that he wanted to kiss Illya again and go on kissing him as well as do a lot more.
However, there were two of them involved, not just him. He suddenly feared that Illya's lack of objection to the kiss might be simply because he felt he had to succumb, as although they were partners, Napoleon was technically the higher ranked agent. He pulled back and looked at Illya; he was totally unable to read the expression in Illya's eyes as he stared back at him.
They remained staring at one another in silence for several long moments before Napoleon swallowed hard and forced himself to say, "Did you mind? Me kissing you?" he added, when Illya didn't reply immediately.
For a moment or two he thought Illya wasn't going to answer. Then very slowly Illya shook his head, his hair falling more over his forehead. "Nyet," he managed, then said, "No. No, Napoleon, I did not mind. I . . ." He fell silent.
Napoleon breathed a sigh of relief. "So you won't mind if I kiss you again?"
Illya shook his head again and Napoleon took the opportunity to brush his bangs back from his forehead. "However," he said swiftly, as Napoleon began to lower his mouth. "Not until after dinner."
"I have spent hours, hours, Napoleon, cooking Thanksgiving dinner. I refuse to let it be ruined."
"One kiss, Illya, that's hardly going to ruin dinner."
To Napoleon's amusement, Illya's cheeks actually became flushed. "It will not be one kiss," he said, and gave Napoleon as smoldering look. "Now go and baste the turkey."
Napoleon sighed and rolled his eyes; he knew the look in his partner's eyes only too well. It was the one that meant Illya was not going to change his mind - not even if he was being held at gunpoint. Ah, well, he had to admit dinner did smell very appetizing and he was hungry. However . . .
Before Illya could move or object, he swiftly leaned towards him and brushed his lips once more over Illya's, before quickly standing up and moving out of Illya's reach. After shooting him a stern look, Illya's expression changed and he looked mellower than Napoleon had ever seen him.
"Go and baste the turkey, then you can pour us both a glass of wine oh, and you can call the restaurant and cancel the reservation for dinner." Illya smiled in a knowing way as he swung both legs up onto the couch and settled back.
Napoleon stared at him for a moment, before laughing, pulling off his jacket and going into the kitchen to baste the turkey and put the final touches to the meal. Things were certainly going to get very interesting in their partnership.
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