by Batwoman

October 1967

Napoleon sat in the dark, smoke-filled jazz club, in what had become his customary booth in the back. Although he was not a fan, he felt at ease there, if a Section 2 agent could really feel at ease anywhere. The brunet leaned forward staring at the glass held between his hands, losing himself in the amber liquid.

Illya silently slid into the booth, opposite his friend. He knew Napoleon had been unusually quiet when he left the office earlier. Earlier that afternoon, after repeated attempts to find out what was wrong, Illya had decided a fact-finding trip to the water cooler was in order. Perhaps company gossip could reveal what his partner seemed unwilling to divulge.

The mission had been a success. Within minutes of his arrival, two of the members of the support staff were comparing notes on the newest addition to their ranks, an Italian translator by the name of Maria. She had just spurned Napoleon's advances, turning the charming agent down hard.

In all the years he had been partnered with the American, Illya had never known his friend to take being turned down quite so badly. Usually, Solo simply moved on to the next conquest, the next seduction. Kuryakin had a feeling this was more than a simple rejection, Illya decided to wait, knowing once his friend was ready, he'd tell him what was on his mind.

Solo barely acknowledged Illya's presence across the booth, simply nodding to his partner as he continued to obsess over his failed attempts to connect with any woman of substance. Ever since he had learned of Samantha's presence in Illya's life, Napoleon had often speculated if there was someone out there for him. He knew none of the women he had dated before would accept that they would have to take a back seat to his career. Even Clara, who he loved dearly, could not accept second place status. Would he ever find someone who would love him as much as Samantha loves Illya, he wondered, someone he can spend the rest of his life with; someone he can start his own family with?

He sighed; brooding was Illya's thing, not his. "I take it you've heard," he asked never taking his eyes off the glass.

"What's really bothering you?" Illya responded, knowing Napoleon would not be this pensive over a simple rejection.

"Lately I've been thinking about what things would be like if my wife hadn't died." He raised the glass to his lips, pausing momentarily before taking a sip.

Illya nodded. Though Napoleon never said anything directly, he suspected his friend envied him. While Section 2 agents were banned from marriage, he had someone in his life whereas Napoleon knew only the pain of lost love, having never truly recovered from the loss. The blond suspected that, despite his many liaisons, Napoleon longed for a stable relationship.

"We were going to start our own family before the accident," the older man said in a distant voice.

Napoleon finished the last of his drink and set the glass on the table. He slid out of the booth and stood, tossing a handful of bills on the table. As he began to walk past Illya, he stopped briefly and placed a hand on the smaller man's shoulder. "I envy you my friend. What I wouldn't give to have what you have," and continued to weave his way through the club and out the door.

Illya sat in the booth for a while longer before rising and heading for his own home.

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