There was something about moving into a new flat that was both exciting and intimidating. Illya dropped the last cardboard box down onto the hall floor and glanced around. The immediate area was stacked with boxes of various shapes. Most of his furniture had at least found its way into the living room and his bed sat in pieces resting against the bedroom wall. It would take a couple of days to get everything put to rights and a few more to remember where he'd put things.
At least this place had a small balcony and Illya took a moment to open the curtains and the sliding door. Security had already been all over the place, wiring in sensors and making a sweep to assure the apartment was 'bug' free. Illya slid the door open and stepped out into the late afternoon sun.
He'd been lucky to have a cooler but dry day to make the move on. Napoleon was out of town and while Illya missed the help his partner might have afforded, he was glad of the privacy as well. To have had Napoleon's hand in packing the night before might have led to his questioning some items that Illya preferred to remain unknown.
He glanced up at the sky and saw something dropping towards him. Instinct made him snatch the item as it fell and then he started at what he held. It was a glass eye. He examined it from all angles and shook his head slowly. Only in New York, he thought.
Illya looked up again and saw a woman leaning over the balcony. He held his hand, the eye in his palm up for her to see and she waved.
"Is this yours, per chance?"
"Thank you so much! Could you bring it up? I'm in 5-G."
"Of course." Illya felt a twinge of guilt as he pushed past the boxes, all awaiting his attention. Still, they weren't going anywhere.
He climbed the stairs quickly and rapped once on the door. The woman who opened it was lovely, if you looked past the eye patch she wore, the scruffy robe and terry cloth head wrap. Illya offered her the eye and she took it gratefully.
"Thank you so much. I need to get this refitted, but there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day. Would you like to come in?"
It doesn't hurt to get to know the neighbors Illya decided and nodded. Immediately the smell of food cooking overwhelmed his senses and he remembered that he'd forgotten to eat. He made a mental note to find his phone so he could order take out from somewhere.
"I'm Gracie Stevens. I teach over at Brown."
"Illya Kuryakin. Imports/Exports."
"What does that mean, exactly?" Gracie let the way into the living room, the furniture very modern and of a hue that made Illya's head hurt. Or that could be due to the three hours of sleep he'd had in the past two days.
"I travel to different countries and suggest to my company what it might or might not be interested in importing or exporting," Illya said, lying easily. One could hardly announce to a stranger, particularly an attractive stranger, that one was a spy.
"Sounds sort of boring..." She gestured to the couch. "If you'll excuse me just a minute...."
Illya nodded and watched her trot away, smiling at the motion the robe revealed. He turned his attention not to the couch, but to the bookcase. He'd found that, in his experience, you could learn a lot from what a person kept on their public bookshelf. You could learn more from the private ones, but first things first...
He was flipping through a copy of Japanese Ghosts and Demons when Grace reappeared. She was casually dressed in slacks and a sweater, her hair a cascade of loose auburn curls. He held the book up.
"One of my many hobbies. I am intrigued by the supernatural history of a country. You can tell a lot about a country by readings its myths and legends."
"You teach what?"
"Cultural studies." She walked to a small free standing bar. "Could I make you a drink, Mr. Kur...?"
"Illya, please. That would be nice, thank you."
"That would be fine." Illya had to admit, she made a good martini, almost as good as Napoleon did. They sat and they drank, longer than Illya anticipated. Still, it felt good to talk mindlessly about random subjects. When he was with Napoleon, their conversation inevitably drifted back to work again and again.
"Listen, you might think me a little forward, but I've got a roast in the oven and my date canceled out. Would you like to stay for dinner?"
"A woman after my own heart. I would be honored."
And dinner proved excellent. Hunger satisfied and his wine glass full, Illya lounged on the couch, watching Gracie pour coffee. He found it was getting harder and harder to think about unpacking and when Gracie sat down beside him, kissing her just seemed a given.
For many minutes, they sat pressed together, lips seeking each others, kissing, tasting, hands exploring.
Gracie pulled away, her breath coming in gentle puffs as her fingers started to work the buttons of Illya's shirt.
"So, tell me, Mr. Kuryakin, if I were to invite you to spend the night, would I have a chance of getting of a yes from you?"
"I think you would be playing the percentages, yes." He smiled as her fingers played over his skin. "But tell me, Miss Stevens, do you make it a habit of inviting strange men over to spend the night?"
She grinned wickedly at him and giggled. "No, um, just the ones who catch my eye..."