Illya does not understand Valentine's cards.
A first time story.
Written: September 2012. Word count: 500.
"This has to be one of Mr. Waverly's most ridiculous ideas!" Illya hissed as he opened another card and read the message. "What can he have been thinking about? How am I meant to advise people on which card to send to their loved one when the messages are all like this? Mad, I tell you, quite mad!" He threw a card down onto the counter and began to mutter in Russian.
Napoleon was surprised. He'd never thought he'd hear Illya be so disrespectful about their boss. Illya hadn't been happy when Mr. Waverly had told them of their current assignment: undercover in a card shop which an informant had assured them was being used as a Thrush meeting place.
As Illya began to pace, still muttering in Russian, Napoleon picked up the discarded card, read the message and winced slightly. He did understand what Illya meant; Keats, Shelly, Blake it certainly was not. However, he'd seen worse and that was one of the points of Valentine's Day, you sent cards saying things you'd never dream of actually saying, things that under any other circumstance people wouldn't want to hear.
"I could do better." Illya spun on his heel and stared up at Napoleon.
"You?" Napoleon was surprised. Illya was many things, but romantic? Not in Napoleon's experience.
"Yes, I. I am Russian we know about love, about the language of love. We know how to say things properly not like these things." He threw another card back onto the counter and once more began to mutter in Russian.
Napoleon read several more of the cards that seemed to get progressively more flowery. "Oh, this one isn't too bad," he said holding out a card to Illya.
Illya took it, scanned the words quickly and shrugged. "It is the best I have seen, but look at the picture on the front! Who would send a card like that? Who would want to receive a card like that? Besides, what is the point?"
"Of sending a Valentine's card; it is just a commercial thing. Why can you not simply tell the person rather than making them ill with this kind of thing?"
As Napoleon had thought: not exactly romantic. "Well," he said carefully, "some people are afraid of being rebuffed or don't want the person to know who they are."
Illya stared at him. "That makes even less sense. You buy a card like this to send to someone to tell them you love them and you do not sign it?" He threw his hands up in the air. "I shall never understand your country. If you love someone just tell them."
Napoleon swallowed hard. "Illya," he said quietly. "I love you."
He didn't know what he'd been expecting, but it wasn't the smile that lit Illya's face up. "There now, wasn't that simple? And I, Napoleon, love you too."
As he pulled Illya into his arms and kissed him, Napoleon realized Illya would never cease to surprise him.
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