Napoleon and Illya have both retired from the field. Napoleon is looking forward to a less stressful life, and to telling Illya of his true feelings for him. However, it appears as if Illya has other ideas.
An established relationship story.
Written: April 2015. Word count: 2,955.
"But why, Illya?" Napoleon asked, staring in shock and horror at his one-time field partner. The man who almost from the moment they had met had been his occasional lover; the man he thought he knew inside and out; the man he - The man he finally was willing to admit to being in love with; to loving.
Illya sighed. "Because I no longer wish to live in America - something I believe I mentioned on more than one occasion during our years together. I always made it quite clear that when we retired from the field, I would no longer wish to work for U.N.C.L.E., thus would not longer wish to reside in America."
Napoleon couldn't deny that; Illya had told him that on more than once he was going to leave America when they retired from the field. He just hadn't believed him; he just hadn't wanted to believe him. He had let himself believe what he had wanted to believe: that Illya would stay not only in America, but also working for U.N.C.L.E. That he would take over Section Eight - he knew Mr. Waverly had offered Illya the position.
"I know you said that. But I just -"
"Did you not think I was telling the truth?" Illya's tone was somewhat hard and more than a little icy.
Napoleon swallowed. He knew that tone well; he knew it very well. He also knew he couldn't get away with prevaricating and certainly not with lying. He shifted slightly and then said, "Um, no."
Illya frowned. "When, Napoleon, have I ever lied to you? Unless it was as part of an assignment, of course." Illya's tone, while still fairly cold was also tinged with just a hint of pain.
Napoleon closed the gap between them and put his hands on Illya's shoulders. He wasn't surprised to find how tense he was. "I'm sorry, Illya," he said. Then he said, "It wasn't that I thought you were lying, it was more that . . . It was more than I hoped you didn't mean it. Or if you did, that you would change your mind."
"Why would you think I would do that?" Illya sounded and looked genuinely confused.
Napoleon sighed and hoped his expression hid the pain he now felt. "Well," he said, sliding his arms around Illya and pulling him towards him a little.
After a drawn out second or two, Illya slowly and clearly tentatively put his arms around Napoleon. However, he didn't move any nearer to him and he seemed a little uncomfortable. "Well?" he queried.
Napoleon lowered his head slightly and brushed his lips over Illya's; he felt Illya's surprise. "What about us?" he asked.
Illya let his arms fall from around Napoleon and moved back a pace or two. He stared at Napoleon and said softly, his Russian accent clear as it rarely ever was, "What about us? I was not even aware there was an 'us'."
Napoleon just stared open mouthed at him. "Illya? How can you . . . How can you say that?"
Illya sighed and took a step nearer to Napoleon again. "Napoleon," he said. "I do not wish to offend or upset you, but there has never been an 'us', not outside of our working partnership. Yes, we went to bed together from time to time, but you always made it quite, quite clear it was just . . . Well, you were never committed to me, were you? It was always just because of an assignment, a way of relieving tension, a way of acknowledging the fact we were both alive; had both survived. That is all it was, was that not the case?"
What could Napoleon say? Once again Illya spoke the truth; that is indeed how it had been; but that was because that was the way it had to be. They couldn't - But they could have; if he, if they, had really wanted it to be more, it could have been. Oh, Alexander Waverly might have been less than happy, but he would have permitted it. They were, they had been, his top team; he would have allowed them to be more than just working partners.
"It was your choice, Napoleon," Illya said softly. "Your choice."
"Illya, I -" Illya raised an eyebrow. Napoleon bit back what he wanted to say and instead said flatly, quietly, "I'm sorry."
Illya held his gaze and a strange look crossed his face. It was as if he had expected, maybe even wanted, Napoleon to have said something else. Finally, he gave an elegant shrug, smiled just a little sadly and said, "That is all right, my friend. They were good times, Napoleon. I never once and I never will regret those hours we spent together. But . . ." He trailed off.
Napoleon chose not to ask him what he might have said. Instead he asked, "What are you planning on doing? Where are you going?"
"To England; Cambridge to be precise. My old tutor, who is now master of Trinity, has invited me to join the tutorial staff. I am to teach the young. He has offered me a professorship. It is an offer I have accepted."
Napoleon hid an anguished sigh. He couldn't compete with Cambridge; he knew that. "When do you leave?"
Illya sighed. "In theory, I can leave any time I like between now and six weeks time when the Michaelmas term begins. To begin with I will take rooms in college, thus I have no need to look for a place to live. After that . . . Well, we will see."
"Stay for as long as you can," Napoleon said swiftly. "Please, Illya. Leave it as long as you can before you leave. Please," he said again, "we can spend some time together; do the kind of things we never got to do when we were working. Please," he added yet again, aware he was as good as begging, but not caring.
Illya looked somewhat troubled and for a moment Napoleon thought he was going to say no. However, he again sighed softly and nodded. "Very well, Napoleon. I shall make arrangements to leave in a month - I do need a little time to settle in before the students arrive," he said softly.
"Thank you," Napoleon said, meaning the words almost more than he had ever meant anything.
Illya gave a small nod. "However, do not expect me to change my mind, Napoleon. I am leaving America; I am going to teach at Cambridge University. It is what I wish to do."
One of the downsides of how long and how closely they had worked together was that Illya knew him so well. Napoleon had been hoping he might be able to change Illya's mind; had even started to make plans as to how he might do that thing.
He gave Illya a rueful smile and said, "I won't, Illya. I know it's what you want to do. I just want to spend a bit of time with you, that's all. Time when we're not being shot at or abducted or rescuing people or defusing bombs or blowing things up or . . . Or all the other things we did."
Illya's expression softened and he moved towards Napoleon and put his hand on his arm. "I too would like that, Napoleon. I would like it very much. And if . . . Well, I would not object." He moved even nearer to him and to Napoleon's surprise, he brushed his lips over Napoleon's for a moment.
The four weeks were wonderful. They spent every day and evening together doing touristy things, having lunch, exploring in a way Illya would never have been able to do, and Napoleon had never really wanted to do. Napoleon learned new things about the city he had called home for many years and thoroughly enjoyed seeing how much Illya was clearly enjoying himself.
He saw a rather different Illya from the man he had been partnered with for so many years. He smiled a lot more; his 'keep off' demeanor that had even, at times, applied to Napoleon, was hardly in evidence; he was generally a lot more relaxed, content even; there was even a playful, youthful side to him which Napoleon had never seen before. He seemed younger and somewhat more innocent; not quite wide-eyed, but there was almost a naivety to him which Napoleon hadn't seen before. He seemed at home, and Napoleon wished he would consider America home.
They spent quite a few nights in bed together and even that had been different from the sex they had shared while on the job. Then it really had all been about finding a way of releasing tension, fear even at times; all about the final release, be it in one another's hands or mouths or with Napoleon inside Illya. Now, it was somewhat different; genuine, honest affection came into it, not just liking, respect, need and want. It was enjoyable, wonderful and the more it happened, the more time he spent with Illya in and out of bed, the more Napoleon fell in love with him. The more he wanted to tell Illya he loved him; tell him he was in love with; the more he wanted to ask him to stay.
He didn't. He couldn't.
Finally, the day came when Illya was due to leave. Napoleon drove him to the airport where they stood, just a little closer together than most people would, mostly in silence, mostly just staring at one another until the time came when Illya had to leave Napoleon's side.
"Take care, Illya," Napoleon said, holding out his hand.
Illya took his hand and shook it. "You take care too, Napoleon. Please; for me take care." His blue eyes softened and his gaze said things Napoleon knew he would never voice, maybe could never voice.
"I will," Napoleon said. He put his other hand on Illya's shoulder, sliding it around to his back and pulled him into a loose half-embrace for a moment or two, before letting him go and simply nodding.
"I will miss you, Napoleon," Illya said, his tone was very formal and somewhat accented.
"I'll miss you too, Illya. You know if you ever . . ." Napoleon trailed off.
Illya's eyes grew a little misty; at least Napoleon thought they did. However, given Illya swiftly glanced down at the ground for a moment or two, and when he looked back up they were quite, quite dry, he couldn't be certain. "I know," he said quietly. "I must go." He turned.
"Illya!" Napoleon grabbed his hand. It wasn't too late; he could still -
Illya turned back around. "Please, Napoleon," he said softly, as he once again stared deeply into Napoleon's eyes and said so much more.
Napoleon briefly closed his eyes for a moment before letting go of Illya's hand and sighing. "Will you write to me?"
Illya looked surprised at being asked. "Da, of course I will! Now, I really must go. Please take care." Swiftly, to Napoleon's surprise, he brushed the back of his hand over Napoleon's cheekbone before turning sharply on his heel and striding off.
Napoleon stood and let him go, watching him not only until he was out of sight, but for long after he was out of sight. "Lusha," he murmured. "I love you."
CAMBRIDGE SIX MONTHS LATER
"Excuse me, Professor Kuryakin."
Illya deep in concentration raised his head from the essay he was marking - well trying to mark. He wondered, not for the first time, quite why Miss Lawson was studying physics, had been permitted to study physics; her grasp on it seemed non-existent.
"Yes, Mr. Jenkins?" he said, to the college porter.
"There's a gent here to see you, sir. An American. Says his name is Napoleon Solo - strange name, that. I said I'd see if you were available. Do you want me to bring him over or shall I tell him you're busy?"
Illya felt the pen fall from his hand as he stared for a moment at Jenkins in silence. Then he shook himself, pulled himself together and stood up. "No. I will see Mr. Solo. Thank you, Mr. Jenkins." He was aware of quite how formal his tone had become.
Jenkins stared at him for a moment before nodding. "Very well, Professor Kuryakin. I'll bring the gentleman over."
"Thank you," Illya said, having to force himself to speak in English and not in Russian.
"Forgive me for asking, Professor, but are you all right?"
Illya forced himself to nod. "Yes, thank you, Mr. Jenkins. I am quite well. It is just that Mr. Solo's visit has come as a surprise. I was not expecting to - I was not expecting him. He is an old," he hesitated for a split second before saying softly, "friend of mine."
"If you're sure, sir."
Illya nodded. Was he? "Yes, I am quite certain, thank you." Illya again forced himself to smile. He was fairly certain whatever it was he had managed, was nothing like any 'smile' Jenkins had seen before.
Jenkins hesitated for a moment or two longer, before nodding and leaving.
Illya stared after him. Napoleon? Here? Here in Cambridge? Why? He hadn't indicated in his letters that he had any intention to visit him. Why hadn't he done that? After all it might not be convenient. For a moment Illya was almost irritated that Napoleon had just presumed he could simply turn up and he would be pleased to see him; would welcome him with open arms even.
He sighed; if only he could welcome Napoleon with open arms. He had missed his friend; he had missed him very much; he had missed him far more than he had thought he would. But like all things that time heals, it had begun to heal the deep set, painful ache which Illya had felt from the moment he had walked away from Napoleon at the airport. He no longer missed him quite as keenly as he had once done. He no longer dreamed about him every night. He no longer thought about him during every waking moment when he wasn't lecturing or marking papers or conversing with colleagues or reading or doing research of his own. He no longer ached to be back in his arms, in his bed with his mouth on his doing -
He pushed that thought from his mind. He must not think about being in bed with Napoleon, kissing Napoleon, being naked in Napoleon's arms. He must not think about Napoleon's talented hands and mouth moving over his body, stroking him, touching him, kissing him, licking him, sucking him. He must not think about such things. And he certainly must not think about the pleasure he felt when Napoleon would push himself inside him.
He was over Napoleon; he really, really was. That side of their relationship was behind them. It had been just for the field, and as a way to say goodbye before he came to England. It would not happen again. It would never happen again. Napoleon would not want it to happen again.
He sighed, pulled his gown around him a little more and silently cursed Napoleon under his breath in several languages. Why had he come? Why? And why now? Now, just as he had -
The door opened and Jenkins waved Napoleon inside. "Mr. Solo, Professor Kuryakin," he said, before with a nod and a half-salute he went out and closed the door behind him.
Illya stood frozen to the spot and just stared at Napoleon. It was no good; he wasn't over Napoleon Solo; he never would be. "Hello, Napoleon," he said, hoping he sounded welcoming and 'normal', and not as if he wanted nothing more than to hurry across the room, throw himself into Napoleon's arms and kiss him.
"Hello, Illya," Napoleon said, in his gentle drawl. "Hello, partner mine," he added softly.
Illya bit back a gasp at the all too familiar tone and term. "Why are you here?" he demanded, aware of how hard his tone had become.
Napoleon raised an eyebrow and then shrugged. "It's good to see you too, Illya."
Illya forced himself to stay where he was and forced himself not to snap. "Of course it is good to see you, Napoleon," he said. "I just wondered why you were here. And why you did not -"
"Tell you I was coming?" Napoleon began to move towards him.
"Da," Illya said, forcing himself to stand his ground.
"Because you might have told me not to come; that you were too busy for me to visit; that you didn't want to see me."
"I would not have done that." Illya spoke swiftly, aware that he may well have just lied to his one-time partner.
Napoleon shrugged as he reached Illya and put his hands on his shoulders; again Illya forced himself to stand his ground. "As for why I'm here. That's simple: I'm here because you're here," he said softly.
"What? What do you mean?" Illya knew he must look as confused as he sounded.
"I'm home," Napoleon added.
"What? Napoleon, please do me the courtesy of actually making sense. What do you mean?"
Napoleon sighed, smiled in his sensual way, took one hand from Illya's shoulder and began to stroke his cheek. "Home is wherever you are, Illya. You're here, in England, in Cambridge; thus so am I. I'm home, Illya."
"But your home is -"
"Wherever you are, partner mine," Napoleon murmured, as he gathered Illya into his arms, put his mouth on Illya's and kissed him.
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