While You Were Sleeping

by Linda Cornett

(Appeared in Clandestine 2)

Illya stopped in the doorway, surveying the hotel room.

"Before you say anything," Napoleon said, squeezing past him into the room, "there's some sort of soccer tournament going on and this was just about literally the last room in town."

Illya shrugged. "It will do, although it's hot weather for sharing a bed."

Napoleon turned to survey the sagging double bed bleakly. "I suppose we've shared worse." He flipped on the fan sitting on the chest of drawers. Its blades stirred the thick air but didn't provide any noticeable coolness. He opened his leather suitcase on the bed and began unpacking into the dresser.

Illya watched him for a moment. "I take it we're planning to be here for a while?"

"Mr. Waverly wants us to stick around Santa Ana long enough to make sure the locals don't lose Dietrich before our team has a chance to question him. A couple of days, at least. So, how was it down south?"

"Hotter than here. They led me a merry chase before I figured out I was following the decoy." Illya picked through the contents of his duffel with a dissatisfied expression. "I don't have anything clean, I haven't slept more than three hours in the past two days and I itch. How was your excursion to the north?"

"Rough," Napoleon said, carefully folding a silk tie into the top drawer. "I must have chased Dietrich through every casino along the coast before I finally caught up with him. Why don't you take the first shower, itchy. Oh, by the way, Angelique's in town."

"Delightful. I assume that means you'll be out for the evening."

"Ohhhh, yes. Don't worry, I'll try not to disturb you when I tiptoe in during the wee hours."


While his partner showered, Napoleon enhanced the hotel's flimsy locks with their own security and did a quick search for bugs, of the electronic variety. After taking his turn with the cranky plumbing, he pulled on lightweight trousers and a shirt, letting the back of a lopsided chair carry the weight of the jacket for now. Illya was already in bed and breathing deeply, the bedspread folded neatly at the foot of the bed and a thin sheet clinging moistly to his shoulder and hip. His damp towel was folded over the foot of the bed and his dusty duffel leaned against the wall by the door for pick-up by the maid in the morning - his usual military tidiness.

Napoleon opened the inner door in the hope of catching a breeze and settled down at a small table in front of the screen to work on the forms supplied by the local office.

Some time later, the faint whiff of expensive perfume alerted him. He looked up to find Angelique standing in the doorway, looking as cool as if she carried her own temperate environment around with her. Solo took the two steps required to reach the door and smiled at her through the rusty screen. 

"I've come to pick up my date. Are you ready?" she murmured with a crooked smile.

"You have no idea," Solo said, sliding the jacket on over his damp shirt.

Angelique's eyes shifted over his shoulder and widened. "Napoleon, you naughty boy, what have you been up to?"

Solo followed her gaze to Illya sprawled on his stomach, taking up most of the bed. He had kicked the sheet onto the floor and hadn't lied about having nothing to put on. His skin still shone damp from the shower, or from the heat, and the humidity had coaxed his hair into loose honey-colored curls. 

"It's hot," Solo said limply, not caring much for Angelique's expression as she gazed at his partner. He grabbed up the sheet and billowed it protectively over Illya, who sighed and stirred but didn't waken.

"Yes," Angelique said with amusement, "it is hot."

"Let's find someplace cool," Solo said, shutting the door behind him and setting the security system carefully.

They ended up at Sugestion, one of the popular modern nightspots that had sprung up in the economic overflow from the casinos. The restaurant was dark and aggressively air conditioned. With a satisfied sigh, Solo settled into his chair at a corner table.

A few minutes later, with drinks in hand and meals on the way, they gazed at each other in the dim, rosy light.

"Well, mon chou, what have you been up to?" Angelique repeated.

"Do you mean in general?"

"I mean with Illya."

"Nothing sexier than saving the world," he said.

"Napoleon, truly? I'm surprised to find you so provincial."

"Sorry. The only naughtiness I'm interested in involves you, not my partner."

"Ah. Such manly men."

"Something like that."

"You know, Napoleon, in many martial societies even manly men – especially manly men – found pleasure with each other."

"Don't throw the Greeks at me, Angelique. You know,  manly men – especially manly men – can find pleasure with womanly women. I'm beginning to get the feeling you're trying to get rid of me."

"Darling! Never. No, I'm just exploring an idea that popped into my head when I saw…well, you know. Carrying the notion to its logical conclusion. Isn't that called Socratic argument?"

"I think it's called mischief-making. And the logical conclusion, so we don't waste time unnecessarily, is that I am not sexually interested in men – especially Illya."

"Really." She regarded him speculatively for a moment. "Well, that's clear enough, isn't it? So you would never, for instance, return to your tacky hotel room and grasp the hem of the sheet and, well, slowly slide it off?"

"Depends on who is under it."

"A naked Russian, for instance."

"Nope. I've seen Illya. Every inch of him, at one time and another. As I said, not interested."

"Well, I believe you, of course. I have personal experience with your interests and your word for his. So, of course there would never be an instance when you would find the sight of him so languid on a bed for two…"

"Intriguing? No. But given that we both agree on my disinterest, why are we having this conversation, when we could be…" He drew an ice chip from his Scotch, turned her free hand over and traced a cool wet circle in the palm. "…discussing much more mutually interesting topics?"

Angelique shivered and closed her elegantly manicured fingers around his hand. "You must remember to take some ice back to poor Illya, sweltering in that horrible hotel. Behind the knee is a particularly refreshing spot."

"Why this sudden fascination with my partner, Angelique? As I recall, you despise each other."

"Let us say, I saw him in a new light this evening. I was curious if you did as well. You insist that you did not, so now I am just playing a little game, to amuse myself. When I was a small girl, my mother would make up stories for me, wonderful, fanciful, exciting stories in which I was the heroine. It did wonders for my French vocabulary. And, if you don't mind my saying so, your French vocabulary could use some, um, enlarging, darling."

"My vocabulary is of a perfectly respectable size," Solo responded in French, "or so I have been told."

"But your accent is just awful," Angelique said, her voice a startlingly accurate copy of Illya's when he had expressed a similar sentiment. "Oh, darling, don't look so surprised. It's just one of those moments we happened to capture on tape. Our library on you two is exhaustive, as you might expect. Aren't you going to say to me, 'I'll listen to your stories.'" She fluffed the back of her hair. "'Anytime.'"

"That particular comment, as I recall, was made inside UNCLE headquarters. Are you trying to tell me that you have a recorder inside?"

"Oh, no, darling. We both know that would be virtually impossible. No, Miss Okasada saw the exchange from the doorway and related it to her sister later. She seemed very amused."

"Well, it was a joke."

"Was it? Of course, it must have been. The sort of joke two heterosexual men share when they are mocking other possibilities."
"Right. So, tell me, what have you been up to?"

"Are you trying to distract me from my story, Napoleon? I don't think I'm ready for distraction. So," she continued, regarding him from beneath lowered eyelids, "we have established that you would under no circumstances return to the small hotel room you are sharing with your manly friend and very carefully ease the sheet from his…languid, wasn't it? Yes, his languissant body. Nor would you stand at the foot of the bed and stare at his… Darling, that is your cue to supply the missing word. Really, you must do your part or this story will never be finished. You would not stand at the foot of the bed and stare at his…"

"Cicatrices," Solo supplied, rather pleased that the word had popped so quickly from his French vocabulary. His formidable vocabulary, he thought smugly.

"Scars?" Angelique seemed disappointed by the word, them repeated it, seeming to taste it delicately. "Tell me about his scars."

"He got them saving the world from your unsavory colleagues," Solo said, with the uneasy feeling that he was close to exposing Illya in some dangerous way.

"Oh, how gallant. Tell me more. I noticed the ones on his back, of course."

"From an encounter with Mother Fear."

Angelique shivered. "A very unpleasant woman. No class at all. I can't say I even blame him for killing her. She really was a mistress of pain and humiliation. And depravity."

"Why, it almost sounds as though you were there," Solo said, narrowing his eyes suspiciously.

"Oh, no. But I did see the movies later. Tsk. The poor boy. Did he tell you all about it?"

"He told me what I needed to know. A sick woman did her best to break him and failed."

"It hasn't affected his performance, then?"

"His performance is not a concern. The world remains intact, and so does Illya," Solo said stiffly.

"Well, what a relief to know that he recovered completely. Except for the scars, of course. Any others?"

"What you'd expect." He shrugged casually. "A couple from a canif..."

"Ooh, a knife wound." Angelique shivered again, eyes glowing. "Was it a bar fight? You know how the Russians love to drink."

"Saving my life, actually. We take turns. And a bullet wound from one of those shootouts we seem to be engaging in more and more lately."

"Boys with their toys." She sighed. "Give a man a gun and he seems determined to shoot it at someone, as loudly and frequently as possible. And that's completely aside from the explosives. Where has the subtlety gone? Agnes Dabree knew how to kill with finesse."

"Yes, when I die I do hope it's done with finesse."

"Oh, darling, you'll never die. You are legendary."

"How you flatter me."

"I spoil you, I know, but it's true. Now, anything else?"


"No scars below the waist? Let me see what I can remember." She closed her eyes, a tiny frown of concentration appearing between her brows. "There is that tiny bit of hair at the small of his back. I do love it when men have hair there. So sweet, like a bunny's tail. His fesses – smooth and firm and unmarked…"

"No other scars worth mentioning," Solo interrupted. Angeliqueís throaty description of Illya’s backside had summoned up images that he did not want to entertain.

"Hmmm. All right, then, if you say so. Now, where was I in my story? Oh, yes, you had coaxed the covers off verrry slowly and were admiring his body."

Solo's head was shaking.

"Of course, of course. We are agreed that you would do no such thing. This is pure fiction, just something to pass the time until the food arrives. If you see the waiter, you might ask for more of this delicious bread. So, being unmoved by the vision of him lying there, wantonly, I don't suppose you would close your hand around his ankle?"

"Why on earth would I want to grab his, um, cheville?"

"Oh, I think ankles are terribly appealing. So delicate and yet so strong. Your partner has very nice ankles, Napoleon."

"Really. I'd never noticed. And I can't imagine when you would have had the opportunity to do so."

"It was when we met to share information in that tiny cafe in Lausanne. We had a little table, not much different from this one, and he was glaring at me from across the room. He had his legs crossed and his trousers had ridden up just a little. As I recall, he has rather nice gnoux, too." At his puzzled frown, she laid her warm hand on Solo's own knee.

"Angelique, I can't say I remember what Illya was doing during that meeting – by the way, as I recall, the information you supplied was completely bogus – but I am pretty sure he would have had his socks on."

"Oh, Napoleon, do you mean to tell me you don't enjoy the sight of a woman's breasts, for instance, even though they are covered?"

Solo felt his eyes dragged down, down and then back up to find Angelique smiling smugly at him.

He returned the smile. "OK, I concede that point. I just don't share your interest in Illya's ankles. Or his knees." Although, if truth be told, he had noticed Illya's hands. Well, that was only natural, surely – their strength and sensitivity had saved his life more than once. And anyone could appreciate long fingers and graceful movement without it meaning anything. But ankles?

"Tsk. A pity. But of course that sort of willful blindness is to be expected in a rigide heterosexual man like yourself."

"Rigide? Stern? I think you mean 'strictly heterosexual.'"

"Really? I'm not sure the French make much of a distinction. But, of course you would know best. What an interesting word. Strictly. One can so easily infer domination." She dragged the word out, eyes glowing. "Perhaps you would like to remove your tie and slip a noose of it over his foot and snug it around his ankle?"

"No. And why would you think I would want to tie him up with my cravate?"

"So you could bind it to the bed frame, of course. Men have such an advantage when it comes to bondage, with those versatile ties and belts. Women must cope somehow with their brassieres and the fabric just is not sturdy enough."


"Much too stretchy."

"This sounds like experience talking, Angelique."

"Oh, just girlish play."

"Mmm. Who were you playing with? It's an image that's going to be with me for a while and I want to get it right. I don't suppose you would care to switch your story to two protagonistes femmes?"

"How typically male. Everything must be to your tastes. I am not going to give you the names of my female friends. And, no, we are not going to be doing any gender-switching. This is my story and I quite enjoy the notion of two alpha males at play."

"And where are you while all this playfulness is going on?"

"Oh, darling," she purred, holding his gaze. "Watching."

An unexpected frisson of pleasure heated his face. But he and Illya? He tried re-arranging the scenario, picturing himself sitting in the rickety chair watching Illya and Angelique, pale twins locked together on the bed. A pretty image, but he wasn't much for watching from the sidelines and there definitely wasn't room on the bed for three.

He and Angelique, with Illya as the observer? Would that be Illya's kink? Illya's personal kinks was not a subject they'd ever discussed, not even in those long periods of waiting for something to happen, when it seemed they'd exhausted every possible topic (and why hadn’t they had that discussion – Illya’s natural reticence, or some secret he was guarding?). He imagined that Illya would bolt from the situation, returning a discreet period later in a very foul mood, a situation he'd learned was best avoided whenever possible.

So, back to the original scenario. Angelique sitting in the chair, watching with her cool gray eyes. Naked. Angelique naked, sitting backwards on the chair, her arms resting on its back, her legs spread. Her moistness. Her intensity. And he and Illya on the bed. He and Illya on the bed doing...what? His imagination provided a kaleidoscope of images dredged from God knew what X-rated recesses of his brain. Where on earth had he picked up such an extensive collection of images of something he’d never consider doing?

He shifted, clearing his throat, picking up the thread of conversation. "Well, in the interest of accuracy I must remind you that Illya wasn't wearing a tie."

Angelique nodded, giving him the uncomfortable sense that she had shared his mental wandering and approved of where he had ended up. "No," she said, "he wasn't wearing a tie, nor anything else. But surely he, or you, would have some in the closet? It would only take another three. Unless, of course, you wanted to extend it to gagging him. I know you're thinking, as I am, how attractive it would be to have une cravate azur over his mouth and tied on that lovely hair."

"Actually, that is not what I'm thinking." But, he was, briefly, because he did have a light blue tie in the battered bureau. Along with, coincidentally, three others.

"Of course you aren't thinking about it, darling. I've already explained that this is just a game. And of course, even if you wanted to do something that naughty, he wouldn't let you. Unless he was very, very tired and you were very careful, and he sort of wanted you to do it, too. But it would probably be safer to dose him with some of the fluid from your mercy bullets. Now, didn't I read in one of our field reports, or maybe it was one of your field reports, that the fluid can also be applied topically? Perhaps when you first touch his ankle, you could spread just a bit – very carefully so you aren't affected. You could use your mouchoir, I suppose, unless you have rubber gloves in your medical kit?"

"If it could be used topically, and I'm not saying that it can, I certainly wouldn’t use my best silk handkerchief to apply it. Besides, the ankle would be a pretty ineffective spot."

"I bow to your knowledge, of course. Where should it be applied?"

Solo shrugged. "Some awkward place where the membrane is exposed, I suppose – gums or inside the eyelid or…" He snapped his mouth shut, blushing.

Angelique smiled. "That's the spirit, darling. I knew you'd come up with something intriguing. You'd have to be quick, of course, because he might take offense."

"Angelique, I might take offense. This game of yours has moved from not-amusing to crude. There is no way I would drug my own partner to force him into something he didn't want to do. Especially there."

"Oh, dear, now I've upset you. I'd forgotten about you Canadians and your famous rectitude. Very well, we'll drop the idea of drugging him and just assume that you have the skill to entice him into what he wants to do anyway. So, you've got him naked…"

"I do NOT have him…"

"Yes, yes. I must say, Napoleon, I am rather disappointed by the narrowness of your outlook. Very well, he has gotten himself naked, the sheet has been mysteriously removed. Now, what toys do we have at hand? Well, there's the bucket of ice, of course."

"We have a bucket of glace?"

"Well, we will when we leave here. It's best to begin slowly, I think. You dip your hands in the ice just for a minute and, hmm, I think grasping his calves would be the best plan."

"Don't tell me you're taken with his corsaires, too."

"Oh, no, not at all. Too skinny. But if you are pressing down on his calves, he can't leap off the bed in surprise before he gets used to your touch."

Actually, he was pretty sure he had already touched Illya's bare leg; the sense memory was vivid. They'd been climbing up a hillside on a pitch dark night and he had reached out for Illya's calf to ensure they weren't separated. He remembered taut muscle, no fat. But certainly not skinny.

"I think," she continued, "once you've gotten him used to the feel of your hands, he will welcome the coolness. You could soak your hands again and wet his back. Or run an ice cube up the back of his leg, as I suggested earlier."

He was picturing the hollow at the back of a knee, tendons on each side creating a shallow cup. He could hold the ice cube in his palm and let the cold water travel down his fingers and drip, drip, drip into that cup, very slowly. It was a technique he'd like to try out sometime. If, of course, the leg belonged to a woman, he reminded himself firmly.

"Of course, there is the small of the back, as well. A very sensitive spot, and with those darling dimples on either side. And from there, why it's just a hop, skip and a jump to…" Angelique trailed off as two waiters appeared, arms loaded with plates.

He let out a breath, relaxing in the familiar routine of meals being served, bread delivered, wine poured.

"Well, this looks good," he said, stabbing into the crisp salad.

"Perhaps you should take some food back to your partner, if I may speak of him in general terms without disturbing you."

"You may," Solo said, "although I must say I'm stunned by your new sollicitude. But I do know my partner's habits, and once he's asleep he wouldn't appreciate being woken up."

"For food," Angelique murmured.

"For anything," Solo completed, firmly. "Why don't we let Illya rest in peace and concentrate on ourselves? What would you like to do apres souper?"

"It really is too hot for dancing, don't you think? Suppose we just take a walk along the beach?"

"And apres 'apres souper'?" He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

"I see you are eager to defend your strict heterosexuality, but I'm afraid I won't be available. I'm catching a flight out tonight, so we will have to cut our fun short. And before you ask, I can't even leave my lovely air-conditioned room to you, because another colleague has arrived to take it over."

"Angelique, I am disappointed on so many levels."

"Oh, dear, you're not going to pout, are you?"

"I'm considering it." He cut with mock savagery into his steak and looked up to see Angelique holding a plump shrimp by its tail, delicately licking the sauce. When she had his full attention, she bit it in half, slowly, with small white teeth.

"I'm beginning to wish I'd ordered les crevettes," he said.

"They are savoureux. Perhaps you can imagine how delicious." She smiled.

He pushed his plate away and concentrated on watching Angelique. She picked up a second shrimp, twirling it around playfully with the tip of her pink tongue before sucking it between her lips, drawing it out and sucking it back into her mouth. Solo winced when she clamped her teeth together and chewed leisurely, discarding the tail with disdain and reaching for another.

When at last she sat back, sated, gazing at him with heavy-lidded eyes, the waiter appeared with a bowl of warm lemon-scented water. Angelique slid her coral-tipped nails into the water and carefully patted them dry on the tiny towel held out to her. It was clear from the man's pole-axed expression that he had been watching her technique, as well. "Perhaps the senorita would care for dessert," he offered hopefully. "We have a lovely banana…"

"No thank you. It's so much better to leave the table still wanting just a bit, isn't it?"

Solo paid the bill and guided Angelique down the darkened street to the concrete path that led along the beach.

They had it to themselves. A faint roar from the heart of the city reminded him that the outcome of the soccer tournament occupied the rest of the world. An exotically scented breeze blowing in from the water provided some relief from the heat. Angelique's hip brushed his hand and he surprised them both by sweeping her into his arms and locking his mouth over hers. She tasted of tart white wine and lime. Her dress was complicated, with no accessible fastenings, so he settled for cupping her left breast through the fabric. Unsatisfying.

She was laughing when he finally released her. "This climate certainly brings out your youthful exuberance," she said. "I think I may have bruises." She ran a fingertip lightly over her upper lip.

"Sorry," he muttered, recognizing with embarrassment the frustration of a teenage boy with a willing girl and no place to take her. The thought of asking Angelique to lie down in the sand was so laughable he allowed himself one vivid image and then discarded it. He could only imagine what Thrush sociopath had settled into her hotel room. And, of course Illya was all over the bed in his hotel room. Well, their hotel room, to be fair. Had he kicked off the sheet again? It would be understandable if he had, of course. It was so hot and if the sheet were still covering him it would be molded stickily to his shoulders and the mounds of his…

"Napoleon!" Angelique's eyes were laughing when he looked down at her. "You wicked boy. You're trying to figure out where we can go and now you're thinking of a threesome with your partner, aren't you?"

"No." And it was the truth. He was remembering his vision of Angelique watching. And he and Illya on the bed…

She studied him, sober now. "No, I don't suppose you were. Or would. Oh, my dear, don't you see? You have this marvelous appetite but I've never known you to order anything but biftek. You really should give some thought to trying les crevettes."

"Suppose the shrimp doesn't want to be tried?" He intended it as a joke, to evade her serious mood and the uncomfortable route his own mind kept taking.

"In this case, I don't think the shrimp – we'll continue the rather unflattering metaphor if it makes you more comfortable – gives much thought to carnal appetites. This particular shrimp was raised in a society that makes you Canadians look positively wanton. I suspect he doesn't even realize how very tasty he could be."

"Illya isn't quite the repressed schoolmarm you're describing, Angelique. He has a private life. He has girlfriends."

"Oh, I'm sure he does, darling. And just how adventurous do you suppose they are? That mittel European honey merchant? That peculiar photographer with no people in her pictures? The Amazon who kept chasing him around the train last New Year's may have had some interesting ideas, but I doubt she had the subtlety to carry them out."

"Illya's love life is his business, Angelique. But, I'm curious about your definition of adventurous. To continue the metaphor that you initiated, I enjoy steak. I have never been bored by it; there is ample variety. Why would I give up something that I enjoy just to satisfy your definition of adventure?"

"Why leave Canada, then? Why leave Aunt Bea and the farm?"

"I don't have an Aunt Bea, as I'm sure you know, and I have never lived on a farm."

"What a pity. I understand farmers eat quite a lot of beef. You should be very confortable there."

"As opposed to the fishery you're herding me toward? It occurs to me, Angelique, that the scenario you seem so stuck on could damage or destroy a very good partnership. That wouldn't be your motive, would it?"

"Darling, of course not. You know how I value your friendship. Without your partner watching out for you, I'm afraid you wouldn't last very long."

"All the more reason not to meddle with what works."

"Are you sure it's working?"

"Are you suggesting I have frustrated longings? Or that Illya does?"

"Well, he is lying naked on your bed."

"It's his bed, too. And he didn't have any clean clothes."

"Surely he could have borrowed a little something from you, as you're such good friends."

"Angelique, men don't loan each other their underwear." Although, come to think of it, he did travel with an extra pair of pajamas, and Illya knew it. And hadn't asked. On the other hand, Illya was casual about nudity; service in the hot, cramped quarters of a submarine didn't leave much room for modesty. Napoleon pictured rows of narrow bunks, filled with naked sailors who had all kicked off their covers. And Illya in their midst.

"So, he'd rather share a bed with you, naked, than presume the intimacy of borrowing a pair of sous vetements? I wonder if he's kicked off the sheet again?"

Solo shifted, again discomfited by her mind-reading abilities. "If he has, I'm sure it's because of the heat."

"Oh, dear, we forgot the bucket of ice from the restaurant."

"That's OK. I really don't intend to massage my partner with ice water."

"But, I thought you two manly men took care of each other when necessary."

"Tonight, Illya is perfectly capable of taking care of himself."   

"In the shower, no doubt."

Solo suddenly recalled sitting in the hotel room, listening to the sounds of a lengthy shower. Of course, Illya said himself it had been a long time since his last shower and he had been very dusty. Unbidden, he pictured Illya's capable hands stroking soap lather onto his arms, across his chest, down his belly, slowly…



"You're crushing me again, and you had the most peculiar expression on your face. I'm sorry, but I've explained that we're going to have to wait for another opportunity. But tell me, for my amusement, what were you thinking of?"

"Tu." He released her and stroked her neck lightly. "Sur la douche." And, with determination, he was picturing Angelique as she shed the last silken bit of clothing and slipped into the shower, one hand trailing in invitation. When he pulled back the curtain, though, Illya was there, back pressed against the tile and eyes warily on Angelique as she glided closer. Napoleon jerked her out of the shower and stepped in.

"What a lovely shower this must be," Angelique said with some irony, her eyes on his face and her hip pressed against his groin. "Are you washing me or am I washing you?"

Solo frowned annoyance at the interruption. Couldn’t the woman shut up? He and Illya could go hours without speaking, perfectly attuned. Tonight's parrying suddenly seemed unbearably exhausting.

"I'd better get you to your hotel so you don't miss your flight," he said abruptly. Angelique regarded him through narrowed eyes for a moment, then smiled crookedly.

"Yes, darling, I think you had better. I would hate for either of us to miss anything."

Her luggage was waiting with the concierge at the El Mar de Oro. They made their goodbyes beneath the grand hotel's awning as the concierge summoned a taxi for Angelique.

"Oh, dear, this is going to be such a long, tiresome flight with no happy memories to recall," she sighed. "Won't you be a darling and give me something to savor. Surely you can make up something you'd enjoy doing with your partner?"

Solo raised her hand to his lips. "Sorry, Angelique. Nothing."

He handed her into the taxi and waved goodbye before heading back through the dark, hot night. His solitary footsteps tapped against the pavement – tick, tick, tick, like a clock counting down toward something. He shrugged, settling his sweat-damp jacket on his shoulders, trying to shake off the evening and the uncomfortable thoughts Angelique had inspired. She was wrong, of course. He wasn’t like that. Illya wasn’t like that; he would know by now. Not that sexuality was a black-white thing. More like a long continuum with individuals scattered along its length, perhaps even moving along the scale as their interests shifted. He snorted. This sounded like the Eastern philosophy Illya liked to talk about, instead of his kinks. So where was Illya on the scale? He realized he couldn’t say for sure – another of Illya’s secrets.

And where was Napoleon? Crowded down near the end labeled heterosexual, he supposed. And why not? It was where he wanted to be, had always wanted to be.

Down on the farm, he heard Angelique’s voice suggest. Well, she was wrong about that, too. He wasn’t the type to shy away from a new experience. Look at the life he led. Of course there were things he hadn’t tried, hadn’t gotten around to yet, hadn’t had the opportunity.

Opportunity, a murmured voice informed him, is waiting back at your hotel – Angelique’s voice? Or his own? He lengthened his stride, trying to walk away from his thoughts. They followed persistently. Returning to that stifling room in this mood, crawling into the narrow bed beside Illya – it was impossible. He could return to Sugestion, he supposed, have another of the icy martinis. But the lounge was a place to drink, not think, and he badly needed to clear his head of Angelique’ suggestions.

A soft murmur from his right reminded him of the waves falling on the deserted beach, the cool breeze, and he followed the sound back to the beach.

No longer deserted, as it turned out. A couple was stretched out on the sand, kissing and murmuring and touching. He settled on a low concrete wall in the shadow of a boarded up taco stand and played voyeur for a few minutes. The man’s hands roamed greedily, grasping and tugging and squeezing and soon the woman was focused more on self-defense than enjoyment. She sat up abruptly with a sharp comment that was lost in the sound of the surf. Brushing at her clothing with short, angry gestures, she dodged the man’s placating hand and ran away. After pounding the sand with his fist, the disappointed man clambered to his feet and set out in the opposite direction.

Solo tsked under his breath. It just wasn’t that hard to make a woman happy, he wanted to tell the man. A little patience, a little tenderness, a little conversation. It was a simple construct that he had spent most of his life honing. He had worked diligently and with pleasure at perfecting his technique, and from all reports he had done a very good job of it.

So why had the night’s conversation been so unsettling? Let it go, he advised himself. The odds were good that Angelique had, as she said, simply been playing, improvising an opportunity to nip at him verbally, as she liked to do physically when the situation allowed. It meant nothing. And yet…

He was offended, for a start, at her implication that he was limited in some way. He liked his side of the street, but he could cross to the other side for a bit of exploration, if he wanted to. And, in this case, if Illya wanted to. But that was the risk, wasn’t it? How would Illya react? If he didn’t get his mind cleared he might very well do what he’d accused Angelique of attempting – destroying a remarkably successful professional partnership.

All right, play it out in your head, he decided. Complete the scenario and go back to the hotel for some untroubled sleep. Wake in the morning with nothing changed.

So, where to pick it up? The shower? No, the bed, with Angelique watching. 

He deftly removed the security he’d placed on the door and ushered Angelique inside. Illya was lying as they’d left him, sprawled on his stomach with his head turned to the far wall, the thin sheet tangled at the foot of the bed.

Silent as only well-seasoned spies could be, he and Angelique moved into the room. She turned to face him, tugging his lapels to pull him into a kiss. Over her shoulder, he watched the easy rise and fall of Illya’s breathing. His hands fumbled at the back of the obstructive dress, locating the zipper and easing it down. She wriggled her shoulders and the dress slid soundlessly to the floor; she was nearly naked beneath, no bra, no slip, no panties. Stockings, black, and a garter belt. And red high heels. The thought of Angelique in the restaurant, the thin fabric of her dress, her crossed legs – his cock twitched and she smiled up at him knowingly.

Pulling free, she silently and expertly spun the chair on one leg, to face away from the bed. She straddled it, resting her crossed arms on the back and mouthed one word at him – “Strip.”

Standing alone in the middle of the floor with Angelique waiting and his partner sleeping a few feet away, Napoleon swayed indecisively. She whispered it, little more than an exhaled breath. “Strip.”

Well, all right, if it’s what the lady wants… He slid the tie away from his sweaty neck and dropped it on the floor. No, there was suddenly another chair there just to his left. He laid the tie (silk) carefully over the back of the chair. Angelique laughed once, silently, and motioned with a coral-tipped finger for him to continue. Jacket – what a relief to shed it’s negligible weight – smoothed over the chair back.

He hesitated over the holster. He was, after all, in the presence of the enemy. Was she armed? He glanced at her right thigh and saw a small pistol in a garter holster. Of course, as always, Illya had his back – literally in this situation. He drew off the holster and dropped it into the seat of the chair.

Shirt buttons slid through their holes with ease and he folded the shirt on top of the jacket. Surely it was too hot for an undershirt. On the other hand, he knew from experience that he looked very good sliding the thin white fabric over his tanned chest, stretching his pectorals as he did so. So, he was wearing an undershirt and removed it langorously. Angelique nodded to let him know she appreciated the gesture. He dropped it casually on the floor, just to prove he could. Was there a soft snort of amusement from the bed? Perhaps Illya had woken, turned his head, was watching him through slitted eyes. His cock twitched pleasantly at the thought.

Napoleon unfastened the deadly belt buckle, unzipped the multi-functional zipper. Shoes. He’d forgotten to remove his shoes and socks first. But, there they were, neatly aligned under the chair. He stepped out of the trousers and folded them carefully onto the chair seat.

Solo toed off his shoes and tugged off his socks and stowed them neatly in the deep shadows behind the taco stand. He carefully rolled his trousers up to his knees and strode through the sand to the edge of the surf, digging his toes into the cool, yielding moisture. 

He ran his thumbs inside the elastic waistband of his boxers, stretching the fabric slightly, his head lowered, his eyes uptilted teasingly toward Angelique. The pink tip of her tongue appeared between her lips. Smoothly, he shoved off the shorts, kicking them to join the untidy pile of undershirt. He straightened, heated by his exposure, by his awareness of Angelique’s gray eyes on his cock and of Illya’s blue ones on his buttocks. And all that that implied.

Prodded by that last thought, he stepped forward and bent to give Angelique a kiss. She drew away. “Not me, darling,” she whispered. “Him.”

Him. At the word, another twitch.

Solo followed a retreating wave until the warm water lapped at his calves. Staring sightlessly toward the distant lights of the far shore, he unzipped the multipurpose zipper, opened the gap and drew his not-exactly-soft penis into the caress of the breeze. The exposure, the sense of doing something slightly naughty, gave him a twitch. 

Napoleon turned to the bed. Illya lay as before, head turned away, sparing him the immediate challenge of the incisive blue eyes. At the bedside, Napoleon stood uncertainly for a moment, then bent slightly to wrap a hand around the muscle of Illya’s calf (not skinny). The muscle turned to stone under his hand, the tension moving up the long muscle of Illya’s thigh to his buttock. Napoleon pulled his eyes from Illya’s backside to face a familiar handgun and an expression that chilled the room more effectively than any air conditioner. He stepped back hastily.

“It’s OK, Illya,” he murmured. “It’s just me.”He tried to catch Illya’s eye, to gauge his mood. But Illya’s eyes were on his… Another twitch and Napoleon recognized that he was half-erect.

“Napoleon? What…?” Illya murmured, raising his gaze.

“Ah, just exploring possibilities,” he said.

Illya’s eyes narrowed, looking past Napoleon’s hip. “What is she doing here?” he demanded.

“Darling,” Angelique purred, “watching.”

With angry haste, Illya struggled toward upright. Napoleon stopped him with a hand on his waist. “It’s OK, Illya. She’s gone,” he reassured. And just like that, she was, the last of her scent dissipated by the sluggish fan.

“It’s just you and me,” Napoleon continued.

“I’m aware of that, Napoleon,” Illya said stiffly. “But what are we doing?”

“Like I said, exploring possibilities.”

“What sort of possibilities?” Illya half-reclined on his side now and his exposed cock was slightly swollen, slightly flushed. Napoleon stared at it pointedly. Illya refused to be embarrassed. “What sort of possibilities, Napoleon?”

“Well, us,” Napoleon said, settling on the mattress in the curve of Illya’s body. “Haven’t you ever thought about it?”

Illya retreated a few inches. “No.” To anyone who didn’t know him well, it would have sounded like the truth. Napoleon smiled and Illya’s face warmed, just a little.

“Admit it, Illya. You’re curious. I am, too. What’s the harm in trying it out, just for fun?”

“And what if it isn’t ‘fun’? What if it becomes serious? What if it destroys…”

“The best partnership UNCLE has ever seen?” Napoleon finished. “I don’t think the best partnership UNCLE has ever seen is all that fragile, Illya. I tell you what, we’ll make a pact. We solemnly swear if either of us doesn’t want a repeat, tonight never happened.”

“Just like that?”

“Just like that. Illya, do you know two people better at forgetting what needs forgetting? God knows we’ve had enough experience handling unpleasant memories.”

“Even when your partner is a reminder of what DID happen?” 

“Talk, talk, talk,” Solo muttered with irritation, stroking determinedly. “Let’s just get on with it.” 

“Illya, when I look at you, I don’t remember Tabago or Lucovic.” Illya tensed at the names and Napoleon hurried on. “The point is, if we’re able to put aside some pretty hellish memories, why couldn’t we do the same thing when the experience is just, well, not great.”

Illya stared at him for a long moment. “What makes you think it wouldn’t be great?”

Napoleon snorted out a laugh. “Well, exactly. Why don’t we check it out?”

After another moment’s reflection, Illya slid his gun back under the pillow, cupped his hand around the back of Napoleon’s head and pulled him into a bruising and extended kiss.

“Jesus,” Solo gasped, when allowed to do so. “When you make up your mind…”

“I see no point in half-measures,” Illya said in a voice that a stranger would have taken for calm.

“Me either,” Solo said, and clasping a handful of hair that was just long enough for that purpose, repeated the kiss.

Lost in moistness and softness and a surrendering openness, Napoleon became slowly aware of a strong hand on his thigh, urging his legs apart. Breaking out of the kiss, he hitched himself further onto the bed and spread his legs wide. Facing him, Illya did the same, sliding his legs under Napoleon’s. They sat that way for a long moment, Napoleon’s fingers still curled in Illya’s hair, Illya’s hand on his thigh. From Illya’s face, Napoleon’s eyes traveled down to their matching and very different genitals. It was strangely comfortable to do this, like a return to the matter-of-fact days of childhood – show me yours, I’ll show you mine.

“Well, what do we do now?” Napoleon asked after a long moment of contemplation of similarities, differences and stages of interest.

Illya laughed, a deep, masculine sort of laugh. “Aren’t you supposed to be the expert?”

“Not my area,” he said. “What about you?”

In the following silence, he raised his eyes to Illya’s face.

“What do you want my answer to be, Napoleon?”

On the beach, Solo stopped stroking, considering, and the image of naked Soviet sailors sprang back to mind. “Yes,” he said. 

No,” Illya said. “I’m as lost as you are.”

“Well, we’re lost together,” Napoleon said, “and not for the first time. I suppose we might as well use what’s worked for us in the past.”

“Chivalry and flowers?” Illya sounded amused.

“I was referring to the secrets of our professional success.”

“Ah. Gather information,” Illya began.

“Exercise intuition,” Solo finished.

“Gather information,” Illya repeated thoughtfully. He drew in a deep breath and  released Napoleon’s thigh to firmly cradle his own balls. “I like this,” he said, squeezing gently and rhythmically, rolling the soft sack with his capable fingers. “And this,” as he used his free hand to circle his penis and slowly draw back his foreskin to a nearly painful stretch. He held the position, closed his eyes and made a soft sound in his throat.


Illya released himself and asked in a voice that no one would have taken for calm, “What do you like?”

Napoleon grasped Illya’s hand and placed it around his three-quarters erect cock. He carefully placed Illya’s thumb over the eye of the exposed head. “Just a nice massage,” he said, leaning back on his arms as Illya slowly circled his thumb around and around. After a moment, he removed his hand and Napoleon’s eyes snapped open to see Illya wetly licking his thumb.

“Lubrication,” he said. Twitch. 

Solo released his cock long enough to dip his hand into the next warm wave before returning to his stroking. He hissed as the slight astringincy of salt water seeped into the eye. 

Illya resumed the nice massage, smoother now, until Napoleon covered his hand. “I don’t want to miss out on the intuition part,” he said thickly. 

Illya leaned back and Napoleon’s vision narrowed to Illya’s lips, a bit swollen from the kissing, a bit moist from the licking. The lips smiled. Illya slid his legs up to his chest and twisted to lie down, shoving Napoleon’s left leg out of the way and resting his feet on the pillow. Waiting.

Napoleon rearranged himself, his feet pushing against the frame at the foot of the bed, his knees bent and Illya’s cock reaching impatiently toward his face. He consciously pushed aside a tide of negative messages (“faggot” leading the parade) from his distant and not-so-distant past, opened his mouth, closed his eyes and crossed the line.

He concentrated on his senses. Salt on his tongue. Soft, soft skin. The hardness beneath. The slightest thrumming of a vein against his upper lip. The pliable weight of it. Not so bad, actually, if he didn’t think too much.

And then his own penis was enveloped in the heat of Illya’s mouth, enclosed by the softness of Illya’s lips and the slightest threatening graze of his teeth, and thinking was no longer an issue. Illya’s tongue resumed the nice massage of the head. This was wonderful! Why hadn’t he discovered this before? Impossible with a woman, of course, this mutual drawing in and being drawn in. He sucked with determination, then used his tongue to scrape at Illya’s foreskin. He groped for Illya’s balls and rolled them gently between his fingers. Illya’s cock was taut in his mouth, the salt taste growing. Is that what it would all taste like when Illya…?

“Napoleon, wait!” The warm mouth was gone, Napoleon’s cock cooling in Illya’s panted breaths.

On the beach, Solo growled with frustration at his partner’s intractability. “This is my fantasy,” he muttered.

Napoleon abandoned his own mouthful, offering a soft lick by way of apology. “What?” he demanded, glaring past the two disappointed cocks to Illya’s face.

“It just seems, if we’re only going to do this once, we ought to take our time.”

“What on earth makes you think we’re only going to do this once?”

“Oh. Well, you seemed…”

“Well, I wasn’t. I thought you were going to be.”

“Get. On. With. It,” a voice gritted to the ocean.

Never mind, then,” Illya said, and prepared to resume.

“Wait, I have one little thing I’d like to try. Don’t move.” Napoleon ran a quick mental inventory of his kit bag and the first aid kit. To his surprise, he felt a small tube beneath his hand as it rested on the frayed bedspread. He lifted it triumphantly into view. “Lubrication,” he said, and applied a dollop to his middle finger. Illya eyed him dubiously, but (thank goodness) took Napoleon’s cock into his mouth once again. Napoleon followed suit. Without missing a beat, orally, he nudged at Illya’s thighs with his curled right hand. Obediently, Illya parted his legs, bending his knee and rotating his hip to form an opening. Napoleon eased his right hand through the gap, uncurled his fingers and traced his way from the smooth, blank skin between Illya’s legs to the hot valley just above it.

Illya’s mouth stilled, his body frozen. Napoleon gave an encouraging suck and pressed the pad of his greased middle finger against the closed mouth of Illya’s anus.

Illya’s thigh slapped down, pinning Napoleon’s wrist firmly. But, he was where he wanted to be. He pushed his fingertip in. A gust of breath from the bottom of Illya’s lungs flowed around Napoleon’s cock. Napoleon nodded as much as he could with a mouthful of cock. He’d been introduced to this particular innovation by a prostitute in that brothel near the Seine. He had been puzzled by her careful manicure – nine long, red fingernails and one short. She’d quickly demonstrated the purpose of the short nail. The experience had been puzzling in its intensity. He had been embarassed, a bit, then aroused and curiously weak in the knees. There had been a helpless, almost childish surrender as she sucked and fingered him. A sweet orgasm had come much too soon for his liking. She had patted his bottom in a motherly way and turned away to wash her hand and tidy up for the next customer. He wanted to do that to Illya, to press him into that boneless lassitude, and OK, maybe, hold that sort of dominion over him just for a few moments.

He pressed inside. Illya squeaked. Illya had made a good many sounds in their relationship, but Napoleon had never heard anything approaching a squeak from the Russian. He pressed forward again into the inky softness. A squeak, definitely. So that small knob under his fingertip must be Illya’s… Squeak.

Illya’s legs eased open. A faint tremor ran through the muscles of his thighs. Napoleon settled into a rhythmic massage, his finger buried completely in the heat of Illya’s body. He  suckled steadily on Illya’s cock. Eventually, Illya resumed his attention to Napoleon’s organ, his multilingual tongue demonstrating growing mastery of a new language. Their bodies had begun to rock slightly, in unison, like conjoined twins.

Solo raised his face to the stars. Somewhere up there, the Gemini twins rode Mercury on the celestial merry-go-round, round and around in the great emptiness, never alone, always known. Wasn’t that what everyone craved in the great emptiness of life? Completion. He staggered, dizzy, and spread his feet further for stability. With his head still raised, he drew his soft testicles out through the open zipper, rolling the twin balls around gently in his fingers. The sack tightened; he was getting close.

Illya was getting close, Napoleon realized. Well, so was he. He picked up the pace of his prostate massage. He sucked harder. Illya sucked harder. Illya’s hips jerked. Napoleon’s hips jerked. Round and round and round the sensations flowed, from one to the other and back again. Now, he thought. Now. Now. Now. Nownownownownow.

Solo jerked, his seed flying out in shining droplets, like falling stars, lapped up by the warm waves. Again. Again. Again.

He stood, still holding his flaccid cock, for several minutes. The stars spun, the waves rose and fell, around and around. With a sigh, he scooped up water, rinsed and tidied and zipped before turning and stumbling up the beach alone.

He eased into the room silently, as only a well-seasoned spy can. The single feeble light cast a hazy glow over the room. Solo removed his jacket and tie and laid them carefully on the chair before he allowed his eyes to move to the bed. Illya had kicked off the covers again, and rolled onto his back. Solo toed off his shoes and padded silently toward the bathroom, struggling with the buttons of his shirt on the way. At the foot of the bed, he stopped, staring down at the faded pattern of the rug for a moment.

He turned. "You stand at the foot of the bed and stare at his…" Angelique's voice purred in his head, and many responses came to mind.

Illya was taking advantage of having the bed to himself, his left arm outflung, right leg bent. He was breathing deeply. "The sight of him so languid on a bed for two…" she murmured. Two.

He took the last step up to the foot of the bed, bumping the frame softly. Illya stirred, pushing himself up on his elbows and meeting Solo’s gaze for a long moment. "Napoleon?" His voice was hoarse with sleep. "What are you doing?"

Solo's hand reached toward the elegant structure of Illya's left ankle. "Nothing,” he said.

(The following was not part of the printed story. It arose from discussion on a Clandestine 2 discussion list. LC)

Napoleon’s fingers closed gently around Illya’s ankle, feeling the delicate mechanism of bone and tendon. His thumb circled round and round the knob of bone – just a nice massage.

“Napoleon, what are you doing?” Illya repeated.

“Nothing,” Napoleon repeated. “Just…something that Angelique suggested.”

“I assume it involves someone dying,” Illya said, half-serious.

“Only a little death,” Napoleon murmured, watching his thumb.

“Napoleon, either I’m asleep or you’re not making any sense. What did Angelique say?”

“She said I’m afraid to try the shrimp. She wondered why you don’t borrow my underwear. She said you may not know about being tasty.  Illya, why are you naked?”

“In case you haven’t noticed, Napoleon, it’s hot. All my clothes are dirty. Why are you concerned about it? You’ve seen me naked before.”

“We’ve never slept naked together before.”

“Of course we have. Karlstad.”

“We didn’t have much choice then. There wasn’t an extra pair of pajamas in the dresser. There wasn’t a dresser. Or a bed, for that matter. And it was cold. And you were bleeding a little. Not the same thing at all.”

“Is that what this is all about? Napoleon, I’ll gladly sleep in your pajamas if that’s what you want.”

“Do you have any idea how s… what it sounds like when you say that?”

“Sarcastic? Satisfactory? Sensible?  Napoleon, I don’t know what you’re talking about. And I certainly don’t know what to make of Angelique’s bizarre observations.”

“Sometimes things change when you are sleeping, partner. You were sleeping, weren’t you?”

“Of course I was sleeping. I’d like to be sleeping now, but apparently my partner has suffered a brain injury. Is that the change you’re referring to? And stop that.” Illya kicked his ankle free.

Napoleon stared a moment at his empty hand, then let his eyes move up Illya’s scarred body. How many of those scars were taken in his defense? Shouldn’t that be enough? He had seen Illya naked. And suffering and bleeding and terrified and broken. And Illya had seen him that way. They had slept naked together in Karlstad, holding each other tight against cold and pain and fear of the next day. How much more intimate could they get? It was an intimacy Angelique could never understand.

“Napoleon?” There was real concern in Illya’s eyes. He’d been in a peaceful sleep – and how many of those did they have? – and Napoleon had brought Angelique’s kinks back to disturb him.

“It’s OK, Illya. Two martinis, a couple of hours of Angelique’s company and the heat, that’s all. Sorry I woke you.” He walked into the bathroom, shedding his clothes wearily.

The water wasn’t very warm, but then, how much more heat did he need? Blinded by soap, he heard Illya’s voice over the spray.

“Napoleon, what did Angelique mean by you being afraid to try the shrimp?”

Napoleon ducked his head under the water, swiped roughly at his face with the skimpy washcloth. Illya was standing in the open doorway.

“Illya, I’m having a shower,” he pointed out unnecessarily.

“Sorry.” Illya stepped into the bathroom, closing the door firmly behind him. “What did she mean?”

“Nothing. It was nonsense. She had shrimp for dinner, I had steak. She tried to make that some bizarre metaphor for wasted opportunity or something. It was nothing.”

“Ummm.” Illya had on his thoughtful expression. “Knowing as I do what passes for humor with Angelique, I strongly suspect the shrimp in question is myself. Correct?”

“Illya, does it really matter?”

“I think it might.” Illya was staring directly at him now. “You thought it did.”

“Illya, I had two martinis with dinner. The heat…”

“Yes, so you said.” Illya stepped into the shower. “Shove over,” he said casually, moving into the cool spray. “Tell me what else you two talked about.”

Napoleon backed up until the chill of the tiles shocked his back. “What are you doing?” he demanded.

Illya reached past him for the soap and rubbed it languidly over his own chest. Belly. He dropped the soap and stroked his penis with his soapy hand. “You want to get that for me?” he asked, nodding toward the bar of soap.

“Not on your life,” Napoleon said, raspily. “Illya, what are you doing?”

Illya smiled slowly. “You talk too much, Napoleon,” he said. He cupped the back of Napoleon’s head with his soapy fingers and pulled them together into a kiss that went on and on. The shock of it traveled from Napoleon’s mouth, open in an O of surprise (and didn’t Illya make good use of that fact) down to his drenched toes. This was wrong. They weren’t like this. This was more of Angelique’s play. He’d gotten that infection out of his system on the dark beach. But how had Angelique infected Illya with the notion? Because Illya was definitely infected with something, his lips plump and mobile against Napoleon’s slack mouth, his tongue busily exploring. His competent hand strong on the back of Napoleon’s head and now easing its grip.

Illya leaned back, water streaming over the planes of his face. Napoleon couldn’t meet his eyes, so settled for staring at Illya’s lips, a bit swollen, wet from the shower. “Napoleon?” the lips said. “Are you all right?”

“I keep waiting for the rabbit with the pocket watch,” he responded.

“Napoleon, you started this,” Illya’s lips said. “Do you want it to stop?”

“No,” he said, changing the world with one syllable.

Illya leaned into him, touching him from lips to toes. Napoleon willed his muscles to ease, welcoming him. Illya’s slick hand slid down Napoleon’s ribs, across his hip, graceful and efficient as always. Napoleon became aware of his own hands, dangling awkwardly at his sides. What to do with them? He raised one to stroke over Illya’s sleek head. Like he would stroke a dog, he thought, and Illya snorted shared amusement into his mouth. He wove his fingers into Illya’s wet hair and pulled his head back, meeting the blue eyes for the first time. He leaned forward into a kiss that he controlled, the angle that he liked, and Illya allowed it.

Napoleon’s free hand had figured out what to do. It slid down Illya’s back, feeling slick skin and the ridges of scars. It settled on Illya’s buttock, fingers splayed, and tightened possessively. Illya made a noise and tried to jerk away. Napoleon loosened his grip on Illya’s head. When his mouth was free, he said, “Do you want this to stop?” He did not loosen his grip on Illya’s buttock.

Illya drew in a breath, licked his lips reflectively. “No,” he said. His hand slipped around to grasp Napoleon’s buttock equally firmly.

Napoleon nodded slightly, almost smiling. “Understood,” he said.

“So, what do we do now?” Napoleon asked.

“Talk,” Illya said impatiently. “Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk.” He leaned into Napoleon again, rubbed against him like a cat. A cat with a half-engorged penis. Napoleon’s own cock twitched.

“I think we should lie down,” he suggested.

“I think we should stay here,” Illya said, and rubbed against him again.

“Oh.” Napoleon pulled Illya’s mouth into kissing range. He tried pressing his hands on either side of Illya’s head, the way he let his women know how it should go. Impatiently, Illya jerked free. The blue eyes sparked once, warningly, and Napoleon dropped his arms to a loose embrace. Illya’s tongue traced Napoleon’s lips, apology or forgiveness or just what felt right. Napoleon captured the tongue with his own, drawing it comfortably into his own mouth again.

This was right, he thought. How had they missed it? Well, they were busy saving the world a lot of the time, and he generally kept himself busy sailing and seducing, and Illya was off to a concert or buried in a book or exploring some seedy area of town… How had Angelique infected Illya? Had she infected him, or simply noticed something Napoleon had been too dense to pick up on?

He drew away from the kiss, met Illya’s eyes. “Illya, how long have you…?”

“How long have I what?”

“Well, wanted this?”

Illya frowned. “Napoleon, you came to me with ‘this.’ Have you forgotten?”

“And then you came to me.”

Illya sighed. “Napoleon, do you really want to have this conversation now?” Napoleon’s swollen cock was trapped in the heat between their bellies. Illya’s throbbed beside it.

“No,” Napoleon said. “Later. Right now I really want that soap back.”

“Then get it,” Illya said, looking wicked.

“How about we both get it.”

Leaning on each other, they lowered themselves to their knees, a process made only a little less graceful by the catch in Napoleon’s thigh from a nearly healed bullet wound and Illya’s weak ankle. Napoleon fumbled blindly for the soap. Ah, there it was. He rolled the bar over and over in his palm. Illya’s hand joined in, palm to palm, fingers sliding between his fingers, sharing the lather. Why did that handclasp feel so intimate, after what they’d already done?

Napoleon broke the grip first, dropping the soap again and stroking purposefully back to Illya’s backside. Holding Illya tight with an arm wrapped around his back, Napoleon slid his fingers into the tight valley and pressed his longest finger into Illya’s body. Illya growled, tensed and then forced his muscles to relax. Napoleon felt it all, read it all accurately, and held on. Illya’s breath was fast and hot against his cheek.

Then Illya mirrored his movements and Napoleon felt the pressure against his anus, his own automatic resistance and the gentle pang of surrender. Illya pressed in further, exploring, searching for that terrific spot. Illya knew to search; that would also be the topic of a future conversation, Napoleon decided.

For now, they were busy. Clasped together ridiculously, so tightly, could they still rub… Oh, yes.

When had he done this before, felt the brush of another stiff penis? Years ago. He must have been, what, 10 years old?  Mickey something. Mickey Stark, in the wooded area behind the school playground. They had pulled down their pants, scared and excited and so very curious, and lain side by side (so neither was the sissy) and simulated what they assumed sex was like, rubbing their hard little pricks haphazardly until Mickey clasped both in his gritty hand and they rubbed each other to a pleasure that was frightening in its intensity.

Did Illya have a memory like that, he wondered. He pictured a small version of Illya, thin and suntanned with scraped knees and innocent eyes, lying on the soft scented duff of a woodland exploring sex with a dark-haired friend.

Napoleon forced his free hand between their bodies, wrapping his fingers around his cock and Illya’s, pressing them tight together.

“Ah,” Illya said, and Napoleon agreed. He stroked firmly.

His knees ached from the hard tile. They should have gone to the bed. But, a second later the thought was gone. This was the perfect place to be. This moment. This glorious…Oh.

Illya had found the spot. 

Illya jerked, moaning. Napoleon felt it all, read it accurately even as his own body contracted and thrust, over and over.

They leaned against each other, each supported by the other.

Illya’s hand was gone. Belatedly, Napoleon withdrew his finger. They parted, dropping back to sit on their heels facing each other, sore knees pressed together. Napoleon watched the shower wash his hand, his reddened, flaccid cock.

He looked up to find Illya watching him solemnly, curiously, his head canted slightly to the side. Be careful, he wanted to say. Let’s not make this too important, until we’re sure that it isn’t too important. 

Even as he completed the thought he realized Illya had gotten here before him – it was already too late. They were not children playing behind the school. They could pretend that they were able to forget at will, but the memories were always there, shaping their thoughts and their actions and their relationship.

The world had already changed.

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