by Charlie Kirby

Warm, comfortable, totally at peace with himself and the world. Illya Kuryakin was very happy. He wasn't quite sure how he'd gotten here or what he'd done to deserve it, but it didn't matter.

He cracked open an eye, smiling at the dark eyes that stared back at him, so full of love that it made his heart ache.

"Morning, my sweet," she murmured, her hand soft against the rough burr of his whiskers. "I didn't think you were going to ever wake up."

Illya caught her hand and brought it to his mouth, kissing it gently, even as a tiny whimper started. Illya automatically looked down at the small squirming bundle between them. He'd been uncomfortable with the thought of having a baby in bed with them, but then Kisa pointed out that it was easier for her, since she was nursing.

She laughed and lifted the baby. "One thing is certain, Grisha is your son. Always hungry this one, like you." She unbuttoned the oversized pajama top, his pajama top, she wore and offered her breast to the baby, who immediately latched on. "Ow, don't bite, Grisha."

"That's not what you tell me, Kisa, my love." Illya pulled her to lean back against him so he could watch both mother and child. He stroked her hair, playing with a strand, twisting it around his finger.

"Remember what you used to call me when we were dating?"

"My precious sapphire."

"Why did you call me that?"

"Because you were the only thing hard enough to cut the diamond of my heart." He kissed her head and tightened the arm holding her near.

"I thought it was because I always wore blue."

"That as well." The bedroom door creaked open and a sudden flurry of white lace and long blonde hair was in his other arm, crawling up beside her mother and baby brother.


"No Papa," Illya corrected. "I'm a great big bear that ate him and now I'm going to eat you."

The girl squealed and twisted, giggling as Illya tickled her stomach, her knees, and her neck. He couldn't help but laugh himself.

"Is he ready?"


"I want him to say, "I was betrayed by Mandor. Do you hear me! I was betrayed by Mandor!"

"Who?" Illya asked. His wife looked over at him and smiled.

"I don't understand, my love..." She was sitting up, patting Grisha's back encouragingly as she rocked him.

"Who is... Mandor, Kisa?"

"No idea. One of your students, perhaps?" Grisha gave a 'peep' of a burp and yawned.

"I don't think..." His head was starting to hurt again.

She saw that and understood. She lifted the sleepy child down to the bed, settling pillows around him, finger combing the blond hair into some sense of order and then automatically patting her own dark hair into place. That accomplished, she turned her attention to Illya, massaging one of his temples gently.

"The next time you decide to go out drinking with your brothers, you might remind them that you are a married man now. And not as young as you used to be..."

"I know. It's just I thought... I heard..."

"You don't need to do any thinking at all today, my love. Just rest and be happy here with me... with us..." Their daughter had scurried away, eager to be about her busy day of playing.


"Yes, my own?"

"What's my name?"

She laughed, her voice bell like, ringing in his ears. "You are so silly! You are my heart, my own, the only one I've ever loved." She wrapped loving arms around him, drawing him down with her as she settled against the pillows "Now, make love to me, silly man, but quietly."

He began to kiss along her jaw, pausing to nuzzle the small mole on her cheek. "All right, but is my name Illya?"

She laughed again, her voice deeper and breathless now, "Who cares?"

I care he thought, but then Kisa pressed against him and he had other thoughts to occupy his mind.

His body rejoiced at the feeling of her in his arms, responding with an eagerness that surprised him. His fingers found her breasts, heavy with milk, and he kissed them almost reverently, even daring to sample what his son so eagerly swallowed. Then he was rolling her over, slowly sliding into her body, small sounds of encouragement escaping from his lips and hers. Rocking easily, he let troubling thoughts drop away until the only one in his mind was of pleasure. His breath was coming faster, his movements more focused.

Abruptly, there was an explosion and pain. Everything was suddenly cold and dark. He was being shoved and his much-abused body screamed at the treatment. Thoughts, even words ran from him, evading his best efforts as he tried to protest. Likewise, a voice half familiar crawled into his brain, but he couldn't understand it. Something was forced onto his face, but he did not resist it. Resisting meant more pain; that part he did remember.

The breeze on his face was harsh and the light hurt his eyes. He tried to stop and get his bearings, but he was pushed forward roughly. His feet seemed detached from his body, unwilling to respond to his commands. Again he stopped and this time, his hand was grabbed, tugging him.

He tumbled down into the long grass with Kisa, kissing her, feeling her twist in his arms as she climaxed, crying out his name again and again. He wanted to follow, but his body seemed elsewhere, doing something else. It hurt to focus on either for very long. He held Kisa, but the harder he held her, the less he could feel her. She turned cold to him, hard and distant. He wanted to sob at the sense of loss, but his body refused him even this luxury.


He blinked and took a deep breath, looking into familiar dark eyes. Not Kisa... "Napoleon?"


Illya blinked and sat up a bit straighter. He was in the front seat of a sports car, his head pounding hard enough to make it feel like his eyes would pop out of his skull at any moment. The car jerked into motion, Napoleon slamming through the gears as he raced down the road. Illya resisted the impulse to groan as the action twisted and jerked him

"What happened?" It seemed a fair question. He remembered being taking by THRUSH, being threatened, the bite of an injection, and then a broken jumble of thoughts. And regrets?

"Kisa..." he murmured and Napoleon spared him a fast look.

"Illya, what kisa?"

"I'm sorry?" Illya asked.

"You kept saying kitten over and over back in your cell. What kitten, partner?"

Illya closed his eyes against the wind as the movement of the car made his stomach roll and churn. He could almost grasp the memory, and then it swirled away, as if it was never there to begin with.

He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "I have no idea."

"Okay, so this is what I know so far..." Illya dutifully listened as Napoleon rambled on, talking about his abduction, the Innocent, Leslie, meeting Mr. Waverly. He was glad to be free from his captor, but he also had a well of regret that bubbled inside him. Regret for something he could almost remember having. Regret for something that would never happen for him. And just for a moment, he wished Napoleon hadn't been quite so good at affecting a rescue and that he'd been permitted a permanent escape from his reality.

Then they pulled up beside a sedan. Waverly sat inside and Illya got back to the painful task of living.

Please post a comment on this story.