Illya is exhausted and aching and it's all Napoleon's fault.
An established relationship story.
Written: November 2013. Word count: 2,600.
Illya sighed with pleasure as the hot water cascaded down over his body. He turned around slowly, letting the water pour over his back, his front, his sides, his head, simply enjoying he indulgence of limitless, powerful hot water. Even after more than twenty years in the western world, he still occasionally marveled at the idea of limitless hot water.
As the water began to sooth and relax him he made a noise of genuine pleasure, placed his hands against the tiles and let the water focus on his back - the part of him which ached the most and that was saying something. He hurt beyond even his capacity to find the words (in any of the languages he spoke) to explain just how much he hurt. He ached in places he didn't even know it was possible to ache in; he was sore; he felt bruised inside and out - and it was all Napoleon's fault!
Every night for a week now he had been subjected to hours of physical demands on his body and quite frankly he had had enough. Every night! It wasn't as if they were in their twenties; they were both over forty and every night was simply, in Illya's opinion, too often. Admittedly he hadn't actually come out and told Napoleon it was too often - at least not in so many words - he guessed he must love Napoleon just enough not to do so. Although the aches and pains and memories of the way he had, on more than one occasion, ended up in a contorted position, made him question quite why he loved his one time working partner and lover and now just lover. But love him he did - although if this went on for much longer, he just might start to have second thoughts!
He had been subjected to pain, torture even, many times during his years as a field agent. He would return home from missions aching, bruised, in pain, broken in places at times, exhausted, drained, wanting nothing more than to crawl into a hot bath and then his bed. However, he couldn't remember ever feeling quite as bad as he felt now. Okay, so he was a fair bit older, but even so. Something done supposedly for pleasure should not make him ache and hurt so much.
Maybe if they weren't still working ten hour days it wouldn't be quite so bad, because it would mean he could relax, put his feet up, read, listen to records, cook, go for walks, even do nothing during the day. However, despite both retiring from the field, they still worked for U.N.C.L.E. and both still worked hard. There were many a day when he would be on his feet for the vast majority of the day, or bent over a bench, and other days when he would spend the entire day at his desk doing endless paperwork.
Napoleon had, upon reaching forty, been forced to retire from the field and Illya, despite being a few years younger, had decided to retire from the field as well. The main part of his reason for deciding to retire had been because as much as he did believe all the other U.N.C.L.E. agents to be skilled and trustworthy, when it came down to it he knew there wasn't one he would ever, could ever, trust in the way he trusted Napoleon. And if you go into battle with even a slight doubt that your partner will be there for you, will back you up without the need for you to ask, then you might as well put your gun to your head and pull the trigger as it would be nothing short of suicide.
However, a small part of his reason was that he did respect and even like his fellow agents, and if something had happened to him while on assignment and he didn't come home, he didn't want to think quite what Napoleon might do to the person who had failed to save him. Napoleon had always been protective and possessive of him, and while when they were partnered and working together that had actually added to their working partnership, it wasn't going to do anything good when they weren't partnered together. He also didn't want Napoleon to spend his days worrying about him when he was away on assignment, and he knew he would have done so.
Thus, they had both retired from the field and U.N.C.L.E. lost its best team. However, determined not to lose them completely, U.N.C.L.E. had offered them other positions. Napoleon had even been offered Alexander Waverly's job but had, partly to Illya's surprise and certainly to the surprise of everyone else, refused saying as much as he believed in U.N.C.L.E. and enjoyed working for the organization, he didn't want it to be his whole life any longer.
Therefore he became Head of Section VII and Illya Head of Section VIII. Napoleon was a natural when it came to public relations and propaganda and the section, which hitherto had stumbled along, flourished under the suave nature of Napoleon Solo. In turn Illya got to return to the lab and fulfill his love of research and development and playing with new toys. Illya knew the new number one of Section I was very pleased with both of them and valued them highly.
They both thoroughly enjoyed their jobs, took pride in them, did them well and didn't mind the ten hour days they both worked. At least Illya hadn't used to mind the ten hour days, but with their extra-curricular activities taking up so much energy and leaving him so tired and aching, he was beginning to dread each morning.
Suddenly the bathroom door opened and Napoleon, dressed only in his robe, sauntered in, leaned against the wall and pointedly looked Illya up and down. Illya bit his lip to hide the groan that wanted to escape from him, the groan which doubled in its desire to escape as Napoleon gave him 'that' look.
"Water suits you," Napoleon drawled.
Illya forced a smile. "Thank you," he said, hoping Napoleon wouldn't notice, over the sound of the cascading water, how clipped his tone was.
"Why don't I get in too and wash your back?" Napoleon's hands moved to the tie on his robe.
Illya shook his head. "I have already washed my back," he said.
Napoleon grinned. "Well I could wash something else then. Or we could . . ." He trailed off and once more deliberately let his gaze travel over Illya's naked body.
Illya thought quickly. "You have already showered, why bother having to dry yourself again?" It was a weak argument; he knew that. Since when had one of them already having showered stopped them from sharing a shower if they desired it? But he really did ache and hurt too much, even though the water had helped considerably, to want to play any kind of game - no matter how enjoyable it might be.
As expected, Napoleon shrugged and undid his robe. "I don't mind," he said. "Now you just stand still and I'll -" The sound of the phone ringing caused to him to sigh, curse under his breath, grab his robe from the chair he had dropped it onto and stride out of the bathroom.
Illya leaned back against the wall, breathed a sigh of relief and thanked the god of fortuitously timed phone calls. He hesitated for a moment, uncertain whether to get out of the shower, dry himself quickly and begin to dress - he could tell Napoleon he had forgotten he had arranged an early meeting - or stay where he was and go one enjoying the water, and just hope that by the time the phone call ended, Napoleon had forgotten his plans.
Before he could completely make his mind up, he heard the sound of drawers and doors being opened - sounds that indicated Napoleon was getting dressed. He sighed with relief and returned to letting the pounding hot water pour over his body and soothe it.
Five minutes later, still knotting his tie, Napoleon strode into the bathroom again. One look at his face told Illya he was all business. A second later Napoleon confirmed it.
"That was Richard; a 'situation' has 'arisen' and apparently I'm the only one who can sort it out. I have to go. I'll see you later for lunch."
"Drive carefully," Illya said, turning the shower head so that the spray fell against the tiles and opening the door so that Napoleon could give him a quick, light kiss.
"I always do," Napoleon said with a smile. He kissed Illya for a second time, winked at him and then turned on his heel and strode back out of the bathroom.
Illya breathed another sigh of relief and decided that as he hadn't any real reason to hurry into the office, that he would allow himself another few minutes of the soothing, healing hot water.
The five minutes turned into ten, but by the time he finally turned the water off he had to admit that his body actually hurt and ached somewhat less, and he even felt more supple and ready to face a day at work - if not another evening spent in physical pursuits.
As he dressed, pulling on his still trademark black trousers and black roll neck sweater, he realized that, unlike when he had first woken up, he was hungry. Deciding to treat himself to more than a slice of toast and mug of coffee, he made himself scrambled eggs and sat down (carefully) with a pot of coffee, a rack of toast and the morning paper to enjoy a, what was for a working day, leisurely breakfast.
TWO DAYS LATER
Illya stood up, gasped with pain and put his hand on his back. He had been hunched over a microscope for a couple of hours and his back was letting him know just how much it was objecting. He bit his lip to prevent a groan from escaping and silently cursed, in five different languages, Napoleon. This had to stop. Tonight he would stop it. Enough was enough. He had been patient, he had been amenable, he had bit his lip and said 'yes, Napoleon', when all he had wanted to do was to sleep - but he would do it no more.
"Are you all right, Mr. Kuryakin?" his dreadfully young lab assistant asked.
Illya shot a look at her, which made her blush and lower her gaze. He immediately felt guilty; the girl hadn't actually ever spoken directly to him before - not unless he had spoken first, and what had he done on the first time she had dared to so?
"I am sorry," he said, keeping his tone gentle. "I have been sitting bent over for too long - sometimes I forget I am no longer a young man." Of course at forty-four he wasn't old, and didn't think he was, but to an eighteen year old, anything over thirty was often considered old. Thus, he hoped his reply would at the very least get her to look back up.
It did. Slowly she raised her head and even managed to grant him a half-smile. "My grandma used to recommend a long hot bath, followed by at least an hour spent with your feet up. She used to swear by it - of course she also had a large whiskey, so how much of it was the heat and how much the whiskey I'm not sure." She flushed again as if realizing she had not only spoken to Illya, but had also spoken about something other than work.
"I shall try your grandmother's remedy tonight," Illya said firmly - determined that, no matter what, he would do that thing. Tonight was the night he would stand his ground and say quite, quite firmly 'no, Napoleon'.
SEVERAL HOURS LATER
Illya unlocked the complicated locking system that allowed him to gain entrance to the home he and Napoleon shared. He knew Napoleon was already home, as he had stopped by Illya's lab just after lunch to tell him that he had an off-site meeting and would go home directly after that, thus would be home some time before Illya arrived. He had added 'unless of course you want to come home early'. At the look in his eyes and the tone of his voice, Illya had been determined to stay even later than he usually did.
"Napoleon?" he called, putting his briefcase down and hanging up his overcoat. "I am home. I am going to pour myself a drink and then we -"
"Illya!" Napoleon cried, as he appeared at the top of the basement stairs. "I was beginning to think you were never coming home. I've been waiting for you." He strode towards Illya and put his arms around him.
Just for a second Illya froze, then he sighed softly and put his arms around Napoleon and willingly went into the embrace. A moment later he tilted his head back and offered Napoleon his mouth.
"Mmmm," Napoleon said, when they finally parted. "Why are you so late?"
"I had an experiment I needed to finish," Illya said. It wasn't a lie; he had had an experiment he needed to finish - it was just that he hadn't actually needed to start if that day.
"Oh, well, at least you're home now. Dinner's almost ready so we'll eat that and then -"
"Napoleon," Illya said sharply."
Napoleon blinked at the interruption. "Yes, Illya?"
Illya sighed. "We need to talk."
"Talk?" Napoleon sounded as if he thought the word was foreign.
Illya nodded. "Yes."
"What do you want to talk about?"
Illya hesitated. It was all very well having made up his mind to tell Napoleon they couldn't go on as they had been doing. However, it was quite something else finding the words. He steeled himself, however, and said, "It's about -"
"It's no good, Illya," Napoleon said, grabbing Illya's hand. "I can't wait any longer." And with those words he dragged a protesting Illya towards the basement stairs.
For a moment Illya struggled, but finally gave into the inevitable. He could stop Napoleon; he could stand his ground, but it would inevitably lead to him hurting Napoleon, and despite everything he didn't want to do that. Thus, he let himself be pulled down the stairs.
"There!" Napoleon cried, slipping his arm around Illya's shoulders. "Isn't it perfect? Didn't I tell you it would be worth it? I finished it off while I was waiting for you to come home."
Slowly Illya looked around the room, taking in each item of heavy furniture: couches, chairs, a drinks cabinet, large cupboards, tables, bookcases, lamps, a record player and boxes of records, television and finally the projector and screen. It did indeed look perfect - finally it looked perfect.
It may have taken nine days of grueling work, not only getting all the furniture down the steep, twisting basement staircase, but also rearranging it time and time and time and time again because Napoleon felt it wasn't 'quite right', but it did indeed look perfect. Their very own home cinema and entertainment room.
He turned his head and smiled at Napoleon. "Yes, Napoleon," he said, moving from beneath the arm Napoleon had flung around his shoulders to slide his arms around Napoleon's neck. "It looks perfect." He sighed, this time with sheer pleasure, as Napoleon put his arms around his waist and kissed him.
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