"No, absolutely not."
"But, Napoleon," I whispered, using my sultriest of voices as I traced a pattern on his chest. He has a very nice chest, well sculpted and hairless. "Think of it as a challenge. Think of it as an adventure."
"Think of it as an impossibility. I do not, repeat, not meet parents." He was using his CEA voice, one that couldn't be argued with.
"He's a better man than I," Napoleon said, starting to nuzzle my neck again and I could feel his dick poking me in the stomach. He really does have a lovely dick. Most guys, it's just the business end of their plumbing, but not Napoleon's Everything about this guy is a class act right down to his toes and he does some pretty interesting tricks with those too. I'd never had a more generous or caring lover in or out of bed.
"No man is better than you," I murmured, letting him know that he'd won this round.
With Napoleon it was true. With him, it wasn't just sex, it was art and he was a gifted and talented artist. When he touched you, you became his medium and he mastered you just like Rembrandt mastered oil or Rodin stone. He created and recreated you.
I knew it was time to drop the subject and let Napoleon work that magic of his. There would always be another opportunity.
The next time I tried, we were picnicking, just the two of us in a secluded bit of rural New York. A beautiful day, a waterfall, just the lightest of breezes and I worked my female wiles, but to no avail. He was adamant. I couldn't seduce him with the thought of my mother's incredible cooking, my dad's collection of WWII memorabilia, or a long pleasant interlude at Lover's Lookout afterwards. I couldn't sway him.
I tried again at Christmas, trying to lure him with holiday goodies and warm traditions. Nothing. In the end I admitted defeat. For every trick I had, Napoleon had a way of wiggling out of it. He was a man firm in his convictions. He would not meet my parents, no way, no how... sigh...
Serendipity is a funny thing. You can't evoke it, you can't count on it, it just is. We were sitting at a restaurant not far from headquarters. Napoleon was just sort of picking at his plate, not because the chef had missed his mark, but because his thoughts were elsewhere, back in Medical with his partner. I had his body, but the rest of Napoleon was still at Illya's bedside.
"Hey." I reached out and caught his hand, shaking it a little. "The doctors said he'll be okay."
"I know..." He trailed off to sigh and poke again at his plate. "I just... I should have seen it coming... he hadn't been feeling well for a couple of days. I shouldn't have pushed him into that stake out."
"Napoleon Solo, you are many things, a talented agent, a gifted lover, a good friend, but you're not a mind reader."
Whatever he was going to say as a comeback was cut off by a familiar voice.
"Sweetheart?" It was my mom... and my dad and both my brothers, Bret, and Mikey, who was looking resplendent in his Marine uniform, and some strange girl, who looked like a mass of walking cotton candy. He'd joined the military just after I'd taken Illya home to meet Mom and Dad. I don't know if it had just been coincidence, having met Illya, or just the way things turned out, but Mikey had gone from JD to Captain America in half a year.
Napoleon's eyes studied me, growing dark, but he knew that this wasn't of my making... he'd picked this restaurant, he'd picked this time...I'd only made the suggestion that he should get some fresh air, not even suggested something to eat.
"Mom...Daddy..." I stood so that I could hug each one in turn. Napoleon automatically rose as well, ever the consummate gentleman. "Um, this is Napoleon Solo, a friend."
Napoleon offered his hand to Dad and gave him a solid handshake and took Mom's hand in both of his, flirting with her. It's his primary response when meeting a woman and Mom, even at her age, is still a looker... that's looker with an 'l', by the way.
"And this is my younger brother, Bret, and my older brother, Michael."
Napoleon shook their hands in turn and smiled at the poofy white and pink thing that was clutching my brother's arm. I felt a flash of 'who does she think she is?' and then wondered if that's what my brothers thought when I dragged some unwilling guy home with me.
"This is Michelle."
"I'm charmed," she giggled, I think trying to sound girly...she sounded like a horse... yuck...
"Why, of course you are," Napoleon smiled politely at her. "Won't you sit down?"
"We're just arriving and you look as if you're nearly finished," Mom protested, even as she was taking a seat.
"Where's what's his face?" Bret helped himself to some of our garlic bread. "That Russian Commie guy?"
"Bret, that's hardly an appropriate question." Mom snapped. I saw Napoleon's eyes narrow.
"That's okay, Mom. Illya's..." I couldn't finish and looked over at Napoleon, tears starting to well up in my eyes. ... under an oxygen tent, a tube up his nose, an IV in his arm and a catheter... well, we all know where that goes. It was hard to look at him and remember that just a week ago, he'd been fine, happy, and healthy... now he practically needed an iron lung to breathe.
Mom misunderstood and patted my hand. "It's just as well, dear. Remember what I said about flighty."
Mikey looked Napoleon up and down, studying him and I guessed, liking what he saw. I mean, Napoleon was about as clean cut and 'rah, rah Conservative America' as they came, just what Mikey was into right now.
"I told you to stick with an American, sis." Mikey had this cocky, 'I'm so great because I'm wearing this uniform' tone and I watched Napoleon change from a sweet generous, caring guy to something scary.
"Tell me...ah, Michael," Napoleon asked. "What would you call a man who answered the call of service, swearing to serve it above and beyond all else? And what if he was willing to do whatever it took, even die, for that service?"
"I'd call that man a Marine, sir." He stopped just short of saluting. I felt like puking. Six months ago he didn't know the words to the Pledge of Allegiance. Mikey had to think for a moment longer. "And I guess I'd also call that man a hero."
"I call him Illya, my partner, and a good friend." Napoleon stood and nodded curtly to my parents. "Excuse me." He dropped some bills on the table and he was gone.
"What did...?" Mr. Marine was confused now.
I stood hurriedly, "You are such an idiot," I snapped. "Does it ever get lonely in that closed little mind of yours? I gotta go."
Mom caught my hand. "Sweetheart, we didn't mean..."
I shook off her hand and practically ran from the restaurant
I didn't see Napoleon immediately as I exited, but I finally spotted him, sitting on the stoop of a row of brownstones and staring out at nothing. I sat down beside him, keeping my distance, just in case he hadn't calmed down yet.
He slid his arm around me and pulled me close, letting me rest my head against him. "I'm sorry," he murmured. "It just gets my dander up when people..."
I patted his hand gently. "I know. Me too."
We sat there for a long time, not saying much of anything until Napoleon's communicator went off, summoning us back to Medical. Illya was awake and asking for Napoleon. He never asked for anyone else, but neither did Napoleon. It was just the way it was between those two. I'd made my peace with that a long time ago. It was either that or let them go and I wasn't quite ready for that yet.
We were in bed, doing some casual fondling when the phone started ringing. It was late and I let the answering machine take it. These were just new on the market and I loved be able to screen my calls. I was far too comfortable to get up and make a dash for it.
"Sweetheart," My mom's voice was faint, mostly because the bedroom door was closed. "Sweetheart, I don't know if you're getting my messages or not. Won't you at least call us, sweetheart, and let us know you're all right? We miss you. Michael, he feels just terrible."
"He should," I grumbled softly. "Jerk."
"You shouldn't turn your back on family, Ruth." Napoleon was playing with my hair. He loves hair, for some reason. "In the end, family is all you have left and you need them as much as they need you."
"Can you keep your voice down? You'll wake Illya." I felt him stirring against my back.
"Too late." Illya's voice was rough with sleep. He coughed and I winced. He still sounded like he was going to toss a lung at times. He cleared his throat and reached for some water.
Crap, I'd just gotten him to sleep... I didn't know if I could take another round with him. I'm good, but I'm also human. Thankfully, he just drank some water, then nestled closer and sighed.
"Sweetheart, we're having a picnic on Sunday. Won't you come? You could bring Illya..." there was this long ass pause. "And his friend too. We'd like to see them again, to try and explain. We're not the enemy, Ruthie."
"She's reaching out to you," Napoleon had abandoned my hair in favor of his partner's and Illya's palm was warm on my belly, his calluses scratching my skin in a not altogether unpleasant way as he stroked it. Ah, shit, he really was awake now...
"You should go," he mumbled, his eyes closed, his head titled back against Napoleon's hand. I swear the man is part cat.
"You can take Illya," Napoleon suggested.
I passed up the obvious comment because, frankly, I was just a little tired and more than a little sore from the last time I'd taken Illya. These guys, I swear, every time they make love it's like it's been twelve years since their last bout and they're never going to get it again. I wiggled from beneath Illya's arm and launched myself over Napoleon's body. Thankfully, there was still plenty of bed left on the other side of him.
"Been there, done that, you take him."
"Okay." Napoleon was nothing if not flexible... really, really flexible. The man is a god in bed.
"Illya might have something to say about that," Illya grumbled. I recognized the tone and apparently so did Napoleon. In spite of what I'd thought earlier, Illya was through for the night and nothing would convince him otherwise. Napoleon grabbed equal parts of his partner and me, pulled us close and settled himself down.
I lay awake for awhile, listening to Illya's breathing get deeper, feeling Napoleon totally and finally relax, and thinking about my family. They were dysfunctional , they were prejudiced, but they were my family. And they were trying to make things right.
Illya coughed again and I felt Napoleon's arms tighten around us both. And I smiled. Right now, family didn't matter, work didn't matter, nothing that went on beyond this bed mattered. For now, we were at peace and happy in our little spot of the universe. And for right now, that was enough.